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Sunday, September 22, 2013

It's Too Sweet

Never thought I'd say that!

But since about 08.08.13 and cleaning up my diet, this has become my new mantra. Weird. I made three-bean salad today from a tried-and-true fave recipe. Even though I added in a fourth can of beans and cut the sugar in half, it is still too sweet.

So next time, instead of one-fourth cup of Stevia, I'm gonna add one tablespoon of honey to the vinaigrette and see how that works.

Since I've been on a salad kick, I also bought several dressings to try out for the first time. There is a raspberry oil and vinegar that is great, except it is also too sweet and has HFCS in it, plus the EVOO is diluted with another veggie oil that I would prefer was not in the mix.

I'll be glad when my local grocery store has low-sugar and no-HFCS versions. In the meantime, I guess I'll dilute what I bought while I play experimenter in my kitchen and make near duplicates.

Wish me luck.

Happy first day of fall to you all. It's beautiful here in Texas. I've got my windows open and am enjoying not paying for AC. At least today.

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What a Sweet Remembrance of a Loved One: See Pink's Obituary

In case you didn't see this on Yahoo! News today online in the #2 slot behind the 9/11 tribute, it's an uplifting must-read.

The ABC News Blog by Katie Kindelan starts with these lines:

"If you're about to throw away an old pair of pantyhose, stop" is not the way most obituaries begin, but, then, according to her family, Mary A. "Pink" Mullaney was no ordinary woman.

To see the rest of Katie's blog, go here: http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/wisconsin-womans-awe-inspiring-obituary-must-read-170245165--abc-news-topstories.html.

To see the entire obituary, go here: http://www.feerickfuneralhome.com/notices.php?id=1036.

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

God Bless Us All

In Memory of 09.11.2001.

God bless us all.

An Ode to A&E's The Glades

Another one of my favorite TV shows has ended. It joins the ranks of Firefly, Numb3rs, GCB and Murder, She Wrote. Of course there are more I could name, but fewer people may even remember them.

And I realize that a TV series can entail horrific hours. That Murder, She Wrote lasted twelve seasons with its middle-aged main characters was a wonderful tribute to our Baby Boomer generation. And while I loved the glitz and glamour of Jessica in her New York surroundings in the later seasons, my favorites remain those with Dr. Hazlitt and the other Cabot Cove residents.

But back to my current loss.

I love all the main characters. Director Manus, Carlos, Jeff, Daniel and Ray are truly so wonderful. Even Ray's mom and Jim's parents are home runs. Callie is such an animated actress, I could watch her alone. But put her together with Jim (what's not to love there?) and they electrify any scene.

I even loved to hate all the pretty girls trying to woo Jim away from Callie. Like Matt Passmore's real girlfriend at the time of Season One, Rachael Carpani, who plays Heather Thompson.

I must admit I still look at her and am reminded of her character, Jodi, from McLeod's Daughters. Once they killed off Claire in Season Three, I quit watching that show, back when I still had cable. But I dig out the DVDs and rewatch the earlier seasons every now and then.

As a mostly pantster author who is character-oriented, I found so much to learn from and admire within The Glades. Here are a few tips I garnered from this fabulous show. I'm dealing mostly with Season One here as those are the episodes I've almost memorized as I've watched them that often.

  • I liked the contrast-and-compare thread going on throughout Season One when it came to "destroying a man's family" (as Jim and Callie dance around that issue) which is found in many of the episodes, like "Marriage Is Murder" (murder of divorce attorney) and "Cassadaga" (the community of psychics).
  • Another continuity thread that was used well dealt with Jim's wanting to break eighty, which was there from the beginning, in the pilot. Remember his voice mail message about not being able to answer the phone because he's either trying to pursue justice or break eighty? It's in the opening spot for the series, repeated in each episode. It showed up throughout Season One as Jim carried around a putter everywhere he went. I think in "Exposed" we see a close-up of Jim's "candy" dish on his desk at work. Instead of filled with candy, it has golf balls and tees in it. Kudos to The Glades's prop manager/set designer and its writers/directors.
  • I don't think Ray shot Jim; I think Ray's mom did. Remember when Jeff turns thirteen and she offers to take him shooting, stating she's a pretty good shot? Granted I'm not up-to-date on all of Season Four as I'm watching via Hulu and Netflix. But this reminds us authors to have multiple possibilities available to our readers.
  • As much as I hate the fact that A&E canceled this show, there is a certain irony that the pilot intro'd us to Jim as the man shot in the butt for not sleeping with his boss's wife and in the final episode he is shot because he did sleep with another man's wife. This is called bookending for us authors.
  • And Ray. I love Ray. Now on paper, his police record, I don't. But in person? Who would not love to listen to Ray's crooning voice that reminds me of Elvis Presley? And the way he treats Callie is so sweet, both in prison and out. Once he's free and she wants a divorce and he's living in the halfway house, he's being the ultimate in patient. He doesn't seem to ever get angry or mad or impatient. He's thoughtful, considerate, seems to truly love Callie and Jeff. Yet there he sits in prison. For armed robbery. Armed. That makes him pretty dangerous. I just wonder if he ever shot anyone, if he ever used that gun. Still it is pretty scary that Callie, just by signing her joint tax return with Ray, could be found legally criminal as well. Ray is a complex character, like real-life people. We may love him but hate what he does. Such a great conflict to dump into a marriage. On paper that is. Not in actuality.
  • But then I get mad at Ray for what he leaves Callie with to handle on her own: Just getting together the money to pay the three years' worth of unpaid house taxes or risk losing her home is irritating enough. Add to that the rat fink agent that wants to trade sex with Callie for not reporting her as a co-criminal involved in Ray's madness. Plus raising Jeff alone. Trying to cover for Ray and not tell their son what Ray really did. Not to mention her efforts to be a doctor. That alone is stress-worthy. Like the speech Callie gives Jim in the "Booty" episode (recovering the finds of the Magdalena), a spouse should make married life easier, not harder.
  • As an author, I noted that the Florida Glades serves as a very interesting character in this series. Granted some books I've read use a cheesy travelogue approach to writing. That is not what was done with The Glades series. I felt like I was being introduced to a new friend and finding out more and more intriguing elements to that person. Like the shipwreck treasure hunters, the Seminole Indian element (reflected in a lot of the names for towns in Florida), the alligators, the hurricanes, the muck, the sugar cane fields and all that their harvest entails, plus Cassadaga aka The Psychic Capital of the World really exists. But since I'm a Louisiana gal originally, I gravitate to areas with moss on the trees and swamps. It's wired into my DNA.
This is by far a truncated list of what I've loved about and learned from this fantastic series. There may be more posts on this to come. But for now I need to get to paying work.

Fellow mourners over the demise of The Glades are welcome to share their delights and insights regarding this show and its characters via comments below.


Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor