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Ready, Set, Read!

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By Gini Rainey 

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but 2019 proved to be very challenging for me as far as finding time to read.  It’s not for lack of reading material, because there are literally stacks of unread books surrounding me.  It just seems like the living of each day left me worn out and with no time or energy to sit down with a good book.  If that sounds anything like your life, then why don’t we all make one of our New Year’s resolutions to be to spend more time for self and reading. 

For help in reaching that goal, here are a few bullet points that might help you (and me) out! 

  • Join Goodreads.com.  Not only will you be encouraged to set a reading goal for the year, but you will find and make friends who share the books they have read and how they felt about them.  AND there are also giveaways, group discussions, trivia, and so much more. 
  • Bookbub.com will hook you up with some really great ebook deals for as little as $1.99 per book. 
  • Speaking of ebooks, instead of flipping through the old magazines in the waiting room of your doctors waiting room, download either the Nook or Kindle app to your smart phone and take your current book with you wherever you go! 
  • The New York Times Book Reviews editor has an email filled with great information about new books on the rise.  You can get on the list to receive emails that will help with your decisions about what to read next. 
  • Most of all, don’t get in a rut.  With so many wonderful books available, don’t find yourself stuck on one particular genre.  Branch out, explore new horizons and grow your brain! 

Here’s a list of some of the most anticipated books of 2020 you might want to read: 

  • American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins 
  • Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick by Zora Neale Hurston 
  • Long Bright River by Liz Moore 
  • Why We Can’t Sleep by Ada Calhoun 
  • The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin 
  • Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud 
  • Children of the Land by Hernando Castillo 
  • Anna K by Jenny Lee 

Whether you take any of my recommendations to heart, or choose your own favorites, the most important thing is to make a conscious decision to read, grow, and expand.  You’ll be glad you did!  

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When Spirits Run Wild

By Gini Rainey

We are now into the ninth day of our Stay-At-Home Order and it doesn’t get any easier, folks. One thing I’ve determined though is that our house isn’t haunted, which is different from my business’s office, located in a 1945-vintage, one-time fire station for the city of Tyler. The previous owner, my former boss, bought the building in 1985 and renovated it, turning it into a car dealership. Unfortunately, the ghost didn’t get the memo. 

That boss, Jim, is an avid collector of all things baseball and fireman/fire station related and the office was pretty much a mini-museum with a ton of collectible of battery-operated trucks and cars. It wasn’t unusual for a lot of them to become activated on their own and that’s not even talking about the things that would go bump in the night. I can hear you skeptics out there right now shaking your heads and saying “no way!” But there came that day when we couldn’t take it anymore and went through all of the offices and removed all the batteries from all of the toys.  Guess what? Those ghosts didn’t need no stinking batteries! The sirens kept on going off! 

All of that changed – or so we thought – when my business partner and I bought the dealership from Jim and Jim and all of the toys moved out. Things were nice and quiet for a while until we noticed that the ceiling fan/light in Jim’s old office would turn on and off at will. We would notice it on – fan blowing full bore – turn it off – leave the room and come back later and it would be back on again.  Interesting folks, those dead firemen, so we just learned to live with them. But I was just thinking, ever since my business partner got a dog and started bringing him to work with him, the strange stuff has stopped happening. 

Which brings me to a very interesting and unique book “Beyond Delicious: The Ghost Whisperer’s Cookbook” written by Mary Ann Winkowski and David Powers and published by Clerisy Press in 2011. Ms. Winkowski, a paranormal investigator, has received some notoriety through her connection with CBS’s Ghost Whisperer and has met and conversed with hundreds of earthbound spirits. Her book is the result of several conversations with spirits in reference to, believe it or not, recipes given to her from those spirits. Whether or not you believe in the paranormal, this book is great reading and is half recipes and half the background behind the recipes. I promise, they will make your paranormal senses tingle! 

One such recipe for Cauliflower Soup was corrected from the afterlife by the spirit who had hand-stitched it on a set of kitchen towels while living. A lady had purchased them at a farmhouse estate sale and had contacted the author about some paranormal activity. While talking with the spirit, Ms. Winkowski learned she had not crossed over because she wanted to correct an error in the recipe for the Cauliflower Soup.  One of the ingredients was 2-3 eggs, but the spirit wanted the new owner to know it was supposed to read 2-3 egg yolks 

For a spirit-filled meal, here’s that recipe: Cook 1 medium cauliflower in salted boiling water until tender and reserve 6-8 flowerets. Then mash the rest, combine with 6 cups hot chicken stock and thicken with 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 tablespoon butter that’s been stirred into a paste and diluted until smooth. Let simmer and beat 2-3 egg yolks with 1/2 cup cream and add to the cauliflower mixture a little at a time, stirring constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with the reserved flowerets and croutons and chives. 

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Books

A Journey of Our Stay At Home Order

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By Gini Rainey

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I’m so glad I have nearly five hundred cookbooks in my arsenal, although most of them won’t do me any good a time like this, which is why I’m so glad that I picked up this little cookbook about a month ago. Yes, Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars might just make a difference in my life (or not) when our food supplies begin to run out.  Fortunately, our household has plenty of toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectant, and food (if you think I’m going to tell you my address – think again), but should we run short, it’s good to know that, not only do I have about a week’s supply of ramen to fall back on, but also a cookbook with some fairly awful recipes and in-mates stories to fall back on. 

Written by Clifton Collins Jr. (Capote, Star Trek, and West World, among others) and Gustavo “Goose” Alvarez (inmate extraordinaire) and printed in 2015 by Workman Publishing, this off-beat cookbook attempts to elevate the lowly ramen noodle to a higher level.  I never knew there were so many ways to “cook” ramen, although a lot of times, the recipes mostly call for just soaking in tepid tap water, depending on the availability of water temperature in the chef’s cell. 

Not the least bit tongue-in-cheek, the recipes, along with accompanying stories that have been included, are contributed by various inmates (past and present) of jails/prisons in the California penal system and show a lot of creative imagination on the part of the inmates.  Using whatever commissary items available, they have been able to create everything from a PB&J and a ramen tamale to Hit Man Burritos and Trejo’s Machete Ramen.  You remember Danny Trejo, don’t you? Before he became known for playing the anti-hero in dozens of movies and TV series, he was a drug counselor. Seems he also served a little bit of time. 

Trejo isn’t the only “celebrity” who contributed. Tarryn Manning (Orange is the New Black), Shia Labeouf (Man Down), David Anthony Fausino (Married…with Children), Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption), and Slash (Guns and Roses) also shared their recipes and stories in this book. 

I can hear all of you now, shouting at your screen “But, what about a recipe?” Let me tell you, right now, we should all be thankful that we aren’t really incarcerated and hopefully these mandated, life-saving orders aren’t life sentences, because I’m pretty sure we really won’t need to fall back on any desperate measures for food. However, if you insist, one of the least stomach challenging recipes is for “Butt-Naked Ramen Soup,” which is pretty much your basic ramen.  If you should choose to be a bit more adventuresome, you could always up your game and make “Frankie’s Soup in the Hole,” which adds one chopped Slim Jim to “Butt-Naked Ramen Soup.” 

So, let me leave you this thought: we’re all in this together and we will survive.  Be thankful for your family, be thankful for the health care professionals and be thankful you live in America. Stay healthy and happy and appreciate the smaller things in life, like sun shining, birds singing and life living. 

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We Could All Use A Laugh Right Now!

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By Gini Rainey

One Hairy Knee – Amy Arndt

The feeling I kept getting while reading Ms. Arndt’s book was “this could have been written by a modern-day Erma Bombeck if she had been dropped smooth into East Texas or Austin as a Generation X’er or perhaps as Millenial.” I’m not ashamed to say I seriously laughed out loud while reading Amy’s first book that is based on her crazy and zany, yet at times poignant and heart-felt, life.  I also am not ashamed to say that as unique as her saga is, there was a whole lot to which I could relate.  What I’m saying here is that I think anyone of us would be able to relate to some of the madcap situations in which Amy found herself – while trying to become the best Amy ever.

Ms. Arndt, while at times a bit self-deprecating, strikes a wonderful balance between that and the strengths she developed to face some of life’s most challenging moments.  From her parents’ divorce when she was young, to truly loving and appreciating her new step-parents, from becoming a step-parent herself to overcoming postpartum depression, from dealing with head lice to knowing what a good marriage she has, Amy doesn’t pull any punches.

If raw feelings, sometimes blunt descriptions, and challenges to theological beliefs offend you, this book is not for you. If reading about someone who tackles life head-on without a helmet and stands back with her hands on her hips and laughs boldly at life while encouraging you to laugh along, well, let me ask you – what are you waiting for?  This book is pretty much for you and who couldn’t use a few well-placed laughs right now!

5 of 5

Copyright 2020 – Pigeon Girl Press

 

On the Healing Road: Through the Eyes of An Adoptee – The Poet Dena

And now for something completely different. Written as therapeutic poetry, the Poet Dena tells of her struggle to unite the splintered children of her past that live within her. Given up as a baby, she was placed in a foster under the care of her second mother, until she was adopted by her third mother.  With all the anger and pain suppressed pain from feelings of abandonment, Dena managed to struggle through her life until finally, because of years of therapy and self-discovery, she was finally able to merge all of her inner children into an accepting and peaceful adult.

This book, though not terribly long, nor wordy, is not an easy read. In fact, at times it is quite painful.  Dena’s hope is by writing and sharing how she was able to accept and move on she might be able to help other adoptees to explore their own adoptions and resolve any inner struggles they be experiencing.

4 of 5

Copyright 2018 – authorHOUSE

ben wheeler

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