A look at famous authors

December 2019 – A Christmas Classic

A Christmas Classic Saved a Writer Glenda Bonham

It’s just not Christmas without a telling of the classic tale of ‘A Christmas Carol’. We all know the names of Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, and Ebenezer Scrooge. Over 150 years and 150 Christmas Eves have passed since Charles Dickens penned the famous tale.

Few readers know Charles Dickens was dead broke, in debt, and on the verge of eviction at the time he wrote it. He had already gained popularity for his other works, but also donated his earnings flamboyantly to charity organizations and to beggars on the streets of London. He was the father of four children and his wife was expecting with a fifth.

Dickens had grown up bitterly poor, for his father and older brother had been cast into ‘debtors’ jail’ when Charles was only 12. He went to work at a blackening factory to support the family. After grueling months of labor in child slavery conditions, Charles understood wanton poverty and loathed it. He later wrote himself out of poverty. This was a rare feat for an author in 1843.

The short story took six weeks to write and he borrowed money to self-publish and get it into print. He could only afford to print 6,000 copies, but it went on sale on December 3 ahead of the Christmas season, which started on December 15th. By Christmas Eve all 6,000 copies had been sold.

‘A Christmas Carol’ became a play and Dickens toured with the show, gaining more fame and a share of the profit from ticket sales. His story of a rich man who became generous, helped a poor man to once more claw his way out of poverty. That is a special kind of Christmas story. So, be generous to the less fortunate this Christmas season, for if nothing else, you might help salvage the future of another writer.

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Recipe

December 2019 Writers and Readers Quick Snack: Peppermint Bark

Peppermint Bark Submitted by Glenda Bonham

1 lb. Vanilla or Almond Bark
1 cup crushed peppermint candy canes

Cover a cookie sheet with foil.
Place candy canes in a heavy duty plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin or meat mallet. Set aside.
Melt bark in a glass bowl in the microwave at 30 second intervals stirred between heatings until smooth and creamy. Pour melted bark onto cookie sheet and spread out evenly. Sprinkle crushed candy canes on top and press in lightly. Allow to cool and break into pieces. Store at room temperature in an air-tight container.

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non-fiction

November Newsletter: What Not to serve West Texans on Thanksgiving

What Not to serve West Texans on Thanksgiving By Glenda Bonham

Item #1 and the most important-Do not try to serve ‘Tofurkey’. We don’t want tofu anything, on an average day. Even starving hurricane victims in Texas won’t touch the goods on tofu shelves. That fact has been proven on live TV before.

Don’t put mussels, clams, or oysters in our dressing. We’re land locked desert folks, not beach combers. Thanksgiving is reserved for a variety of dressings made with cornbread. Don’t try to trick us with box dressing, either. If you can’t make homemade dressing, or if you are just too lazy to try, go buy a decent cornbread dressing from a restaurant or a caterer. There is no excuse for serving bad dressing on Thanksgiving. The family might forgive, but we will never forget bad dressing.

Don’t mess around with the mashed potatoes. It’s not a day to get creative and dump garlic, mayo, chives, or horseradish in the mashed potatoes. It’s a day for less-is-best. Just for heaven’s sake, don’t try to trick us with instant mashed potatoes, either. West Texans have an antenna that can smell the difference between real potatoes and the goo from a box from 20 paces.

Never serve less than two varieties of cranberries. Older folks never had the opportunity to eat anything but the jelly flavor from a can. We want it to maintain that can shape when it glops onto a serving dish. You, younger folk enjoy your wholesome fresh-cooked cranberries, and the rest of us will admire it when we pass it to someone else.

Don’t serve dry roasted green beans. We didn’t come to Thanksgiving dinner to eat by any fad diet plan. Keep your dry veggie salad in a separate bowl. We want green beans that backstroke in bacon, butter, onions, and plenty of black pepper. If you didn’t sneeze when you added the black pepper, the beans aren’t fit for the table.

Now, it’s time to talk gravy. Real gravy made of broth, drippings, and milk. Don’t even think about the slime in a package-that’s not gravy; that’s machine oil.

Do not make a reference to the pie as a ‘pee-can’. It makes the mental image of the interior of a smelly Port-a-Potty come to mind. That image will make the pie taste funny. Just set the pie on the table without any comment and back away. It’s not as if the family won’t recognize it.

And on the topic of pie- If you serve pumpkin make sure you have four times the amount of whipping cream you would expect to need. We want to submerge a single slice of pumpkin pie in whipping cream like Captain Nemo diving the Nautilus to the bottom of the sea.

I’m glad we had this little talk. We’ll see you on Thanksgiving Day. Until then- no pressure; no pressure at all.

Sincerely,
Your Thanksgiving dinner guests

non-fiction

November Newsletter: Veterans Day

Screen Shot 2019-11-18 at 3.02.47 PMVeterans Day is observed every year on November 11th. Veterans Day evolved from Armistice Day, which was proclaimed in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson. Armistice is when warring parties agree to stop fighting; Armistice Day recognizes the end of World War One when hostilities ceased on November 11th at 11 A.M, 1918 (11th hour, of the 11th, of the 11th month).

Unlike Memorial Day which pays respect to the war dead, Veterans Day is dedicated to the living men and women who have served in the military, as well as to the fallen.

Veterans contribute to American society in many ways; not just during their time in active duty. Throughout our history, military service members have put on their uniforms to protect the values and liberties that this nation was built on. But that doesn’t stop once the uniform comes off and their time in active duty has ended. Veterans take the lessons they have learned and the experiences they’ve gained and continue their service to our nation by strengthening our communities. They become our nation’s leaders, scientists, entrepreneurs. Veterans are the most active volunteers working to improve communities across our country. Service goes beyond the uniform. This Veteran’s Day, we honor the men and women who have worn their uniform who continue to serve our country.

Glenda Bonham

Uncategorized

October Newsletter: Of Black Dogs

Of Black Dogs

Glenda Bonham

 

Did you see it? That darting movement from the corner of your eye? Was it real? Of course, it was. Why do we always try to deny it? Why do we rationalize it to be a shadow or something else we understand?

This is the time of the thinning of the veil; from the last of the Dog Days of Summer until All Souls Day. It comes like clockwork each autumn. We even celebrate All Hallows Eve, but deny our own eyes. The veil between the living and the dead is thinning as you read this. The other side is moving closer to us – accept it.

It starts with a small shadow from the side of your vision that vanishes before you can focus on it. You always do a double-take, but can’t see it clearly. Those are the Black Dogs running through the veil.

Sometimes in the hush of your own home, you can hear the faint scratching of their nails on hard surfaces. Yes, they are very much around you this time of year. Have you ever caught a slight glimpse of a dark dog curled up on your sofa, or in a chair? Of course, it really is there; the veil slipped for a split second. Have you felt a light brush of something on your arm and felt the hair stand up? Your hair was reacting to an energy force you can’t see. It means a Black Dog is near.

Black dogs are often associated with lonely stretches of road, crossroads, churches, and places people have been executed. They’re most clearly seen near water, by night. No one knows why. Folklore for centuries has been filled with tales of the Black Dogs. Paranormal research pioneers have just started proving the coming of Black Dogs in autumn. Some paranormal theorists say these are spirits of your own pets returning for a visit.

Have you been visited by a Black Dog before?

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