Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Prologue That Isn’t

Prologue is a dirty word – a swear word – to many agents and editors. It will doom your story to the same trash bin as opening with a dream or a mirror image description. But a prologue that is not a prologue presents a way around this dilemma. Tom Robbins, a master storyteller, demonstrates this in Jitterbug Perfume. He doesn’t call his a prologue he calls it:

Today’s Special

It begins:

“THE BEET IS THE MOST INTENSE of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.

Robbins continues to describe the attributes of the beet—both red and white—and ends with:

“An old Ukrainian proverb warns, ‘A tale that begins with a beet will end with the devil.’

That is a risk we have to take.”

– Tom Robbins Jitterbug Perfume

(For the whole Today’s Special, Google Books lets you read the first pages of Jitterbug Perfume.)

Now in the middle of his non-prologue, Robbins did start talking about hemorrhoids and I took a step back. I have given birth and hemorrhoids are not an image I want to remember.

BUT.

It is wonderful introduction to The Beet which is integral to his whole story—beginning to end.

The beet is a main character. And that first sentence—THE BEET IS THE MOST INTENSE of vegetables—is what I believe Hemingway meant as a true sentence. The whole paragraph is brilliant writing and full of images. And Robbins did it with veggies.

What do you all think of Tom Robbin’s solution to the prologue dilemma?

Cooking for Toves: Smoked Mushrooms

Toves love fruits, vegetables and tubers and eat them raw or cooked. Here is one of their favorite dishes – smoked mushrooms.

Water Smoked Mushrooms

  • 3 pounds large mushrooms (Oyster, Portabella or similar. Smaller mushrooms will work if skewered)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (omit for vegans)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram or mild oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco hot sauce – optional
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar or dry red wine
  • 1/2 pound (approximately two heaping handfuls) alder chunks, soaked overnight in water.

Heat the water with the sugar and salt until dissolved. Let cool. Place mushrooms in a container with all of the ingredients. Prepare your water smoker and place the 1/2 pound of split alder chunks on the heat source. After the mushrooms have s soaked about 30-45 minutes (but may be overnight in a refrigerator), drain the liquid into the smoker’s water bowl and top up the smoker bowl with hot water. Put the bowl in the smoker.

Place mushrooms on a smoker grill, stalk up. There are usually two grills available, and the upper one is best. Cover and smoke the mushrooms about 60 to 90 minutes. Serve hot or cold, whole or sliced.

These are great as Hors d’Oeuvres or a salad addition.

(A water smoker is just another way of slow cooking with hot moist smoke. A charcoal model costs about $50 and an electric model costs about $70. They can cook up to 50 pounds of food. A good Weber or similar covered cooker that has a small amount of controlled heat can do the job as well but needs closer attention.)

Tasting the Wind

Toves love the smell of fresh cut wood and natural varnishes. Because of this, several Tove families live close to the Morgan Motor Company in Malvern, England. January 2011, young Vigo spoke of his love of riding in the hand-built classic Morgans on their test runs.

“The wind tastes like a song,” he said.

The Ides of March

I am starting a new holiday – The Ides of March. It’s for practical gifts. The ones you never dare give a person. I want a new vacuum that sucks cat hair. Dick wants books on Python and computer QC testing. We have both had these items on our lists for two or three years. They are still there.

So my new holiday is a month away. Nothing romantic can be given. Gardening is a passion and I want new clippers, barkdust and gloves. But the word passion is attached, so I do not expect them on March 15. I can wait for Mother’s Day.

Dick is a computer guru/geek, but Python is work and has never made it to I can’t wait to read it status. It is at the top of his Ides of March list.

So remember, this holiday is for un-cool functional items that enhance your day to day, month to month life. No cards with goooshy sayings. Gift cards to restaurants – nope. Cash and gift cards that can be spent on luxury items are not for this holiday.

Join me on March 15th and get your loved one the foot powder he uses, brass polish, a new toothbrush and dry books. I am looking forward to a new vacuum cleaner.

From Blob to Blog

I don’t believe in failure. I do believe in trial and error, thunking my head on my computer desk, reading, rereading and a lot of thinking. It’s how I do things. It’s how I create.

Through the years I have been baffled by people’s responses to some of my projects – the end result. But now I realize most are seeing the gilded lily and have missed the t & e, thunking, reading x 100 and as Jack Benny would say, “I’m thinking”, stages.

So here’s a little insight into How Roz Works. It’s how I built my World of Toves and pretty much everything else I have done. You will get to see this creation process as I put together this blog + pages + links on WordPress. In other words, I’m going to show you my Oops!, my fumblings and my victories.

Presently, my blog page sucks. I feel I wrote a good 1st post, but it did not format as I wanted even though I used ctrl V. And initially my rosalindmalin.com was heading readers to my HostGator menu. OOPS!

I contacted HostGator via a ticket and the wonderful Mr Fixit, Matthew, politely noted I had missed a FAQ. He also redirected readers to my blog. Thanks, Matthew.

I still have to work on WordPress formatting. I guess I need to reread the 200+ page book Teach Yourself WordPress in 10 Minutes. Let’s see, that’s 8 minutes to read 200+ pages and 2 minutes to build the site.

So. I have a header, post, a photo and not much else. My next step is to figure out how to beautify my page – make my background and photo go together – and set up my “About Me” page.

And that is my next step. Keep checking my page and watch my blob go to blog as I ask myself, “What did I learn from this?” and “What does this button do?” Oops.

What fun!

Another Rabbit Hole

Of course poets always have something to say. Pithy, profound, wistful, sublime words that stab at the heart and tickle the brain.

But let’s have some fun and take your group poem down a different rabbit hole. I mean, really, there’s an abundance of rabbits in our world, there’s bound to be more then one rabbit hole and more then one way to write a group poem. Right.

Try this.

The assignment: Everybody writes a word/phrase/sentence that starts with each letter of the alphabet.

Adversity keeps me
But why be cool
Cantaloupe pudding
D

Everlasting grief

Feelings spoken

Get the idea?

H It isn’t rocket science

J K L Memories invade my sleep

N On to the end
P Q R S T U Vampires drool

Whole sentences will work

Xeric mummy falls to dust

You write something for each letter

Zombies rule

Then each person brings copies of what they have written – A to Z – to share with the group.

Enough copies for everyone.  From those phrases for A, B, C, etc. from all the poets, everyone constructs an Acrostic poem – picking and choosing the phrases that click. You know, one of those poems where the 1st letters spell a word or phrase like COLD or GOT ANY CHEESE, which by the way, is something my pooka, Chester, wants to know.

“Cheese?”

“You know. Really, really thick cream.”