Tuesday May 14 was the Official Release Date ® for The Mighty Quinn. May I have some trumpets, please?

Ah, shucks.  Thank you.

The book’s ORD coincided with a Children’s Book Week excerpt reading/book signing event at Powell’s Books on Tuesday evening.

The event went well, despite the fact that I would rather trim my nose hairs with a weed whacker than do anything resembling public speaking.  Seeing all the beautiful, friendly faces in attendance, including RB, LAH, SCM, JG & TG, CC & SC, helped calm my cotton mouth jitters.[1]

I was totally surprised by an intended: the presence of two cherished, Bay Arean [2] friends.  MH and Belle managed to keep a secret, that the lovely and talented  LH & DA were flying up from the Bay Area for the evening.  They honored me not only with their fabulous presence but also by bearing the favorite victuals of acclaimed authors everywhere a token of their appreciation, [3] a four pack of orange Jell-O. jello

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We shall return to Great Moments in Self-Promotion Literary History  after this word from our Feminist Free-Thinking sponsors.

Sometimes, someone else says it better.  And sometimes they said it better some time ago.  (in this case, over 140 years ago).

Reason & Science lead to atheism. Reason & Science lead to feminism. The National Women Suffrage Association was formed this date in 1869 in New York city. Elizabeth Cady Stanton said, “You may go over the world and you will find that every form of religion which has breathed upon this earth has degraded woman… I have been traveling over the old world during the last few years and have found new food for thought. What power is it that makes the Hindoo woman burn herself upon the funeral pyre of her husband? Her religion. What holds the Turkish woman in the harem? Her religion. By what power do the Mormons perpetuate their system of polygamy? By their religion/ Man, of himself, could not do this; but when he declares, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ of course he can do it. So long as ministers stand up and tell us Christ is the head of the church, so is man the head of woman, how are we to break the chains which have held women down through the ages? You Christian women look at the Hindoo, the Turkish, the Mormon women, and wonder how they can be held in such bondage.”
FEM
·         The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (Official)

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Consider yourself a recipient of the Pretty Purple Toe award if you can guess which two of the following five are legitimate reviews of The Mighty Quinn.

An easy-to-use guide for bird owners looking to train their pets to perform simple tricks such as flapping wings, to more advanced tricks such as playing dead in the owner’s hands or ringing a bell, The Mighty Quinn walks the reader through a step-by-step process with explicit instructions and full-color photographs.
(Midwest Book Review)

 A new classmate helps fifth-grader Quinn Andrews-Lee re-evaluate longtime friendships and stand up to a bully….Parnell creates interesting child and adult characters and confronts them with serious issues, including child abuse, care for the environment, ethics and even skin color… humorously interrupted by the realities of family and school life.
(Kirkus Reviews)

Every surgeon who carries out rhinoplasty procedures will benefit from The Mighty Quinn. The beginner is guided through the performance of a standard rhinoplasty…with the latest breakthroughs in the management of difficult cases, such as saddle nose, skin sleeve problems, and dorsal grafting.
(Aesthetic Surgery Journal)

 “An absolutely delightful read and such memorable characters! Tweens will identify with both Quinn and Neally and will still be thinking about them long after they close the book.”
(Sandra McLeod Humphrey, Clinical Psychologist and children’s author).

It is curious how incest, impotence, nymphomania, religious mania and real estate speculation can be so dull.
(Richard Findlater, Time and Tide) [4]

This toe's for you!

This toe’s for you!

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Thursdays are our pickup days for our weekly CSA share.  We’ve been CSA patrons for five years; this is our first year with La Finquita del Bujo (“The little farm of the owl”).  We get an email on Sundays which lists the likely contents of the coming week’s harvest. This week’s share will include (lots of) lettuce, plus beets and greens, carrots, kohlrabi, Chinese broccoli, dill or cilantro and chard or kale.

Daughter Belle’s AP Environmental Science class had a class project/party at the farm on Thursday.  They made and baked pizzas, topped with veggies from the farm, in an outdoor brick oven. I told Belle I’d try to time my share-picking-arrival so as not to require any M4 [5]awkwardness for her.

In anticipation of the wine and broth braised root veggies I planned on making for dinner, I started a batch of mushroom stock on Thursday after breakfast.  It made for a sensory-sensational morning.  The savory, umami (or as I like to think of it, yo-mommy) aroma of  mushroom broth wafted into the office as I performed what would otherwise have been the mundane tasks of checking manuscript submission status and fiction market listings.

No-Fuss (or a little, if you’re prone to botheration) Mushroom Stock

Hint: Keep a bag in the freezer for stockpiling the mushroom stems that are often not used in recipes.  Shitake, porcini, button, crimini – no need for varietal separatism.  A United Nations of Shrooms is best. Throw ’em all in there. [6]

1.  take a pound (~ 4-5 cups) of stems, along with a handful of dried mushrooms and perhaps some frozen whole ones, too.  Heat a medium-sized stockpot over medium-low heat, add a small amount of EVOO and brown the stems a bit (no need to thaw first), along with a small peeled & roughly diced carrot.  That’s all you need: shrooms and a carrot.  If you’re a Stock Fundamentalist who believes that the only true path to Broth must involve the trinity of carrot/onion/celery, you can add small diced portions of the latter two veggies.

From the Book of Aromatics:  in the name of the Carrot, the Onion, and the Holy Celery

From the Book of Aromatics: in the name of the Carrot, the Onion, and the Holy Celery

2. Add ~ 8 cups of water, or enough to cover the shroom bits by at least two inches.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer until stock is reduced by one half (or more, if you want a really rich flavor).  This will take at least 30-40 m.

3. Strain the stock through a very fine sieve (or colander lined with cheesecloth), pressing on the veggie solids to extract every last bit of shroomy liquid.  You now have ~ 3 – 4 cups of stock.  Use immediately, or frig and use within a few days, or let cool and freeze.

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Several years ago our all-white cat, Nova, discovered the cache of Lego pieces in the upstairs bonus room.  We in turn discovered Nova’s proclivity for a certain kind of Lego piece, when MH put on his shoes and yelped as his instep pressed down on a hard piece of plastic.  Somehow, a Lego helmet had gotten into his shoe.

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We are a barefoot-in-the-house family, and so there is always a motley assortment of shoes and sandals on our front door rug.  I was the next to step on a helmet while putting on my shoes.  A subsequent stakeout revealed that Nova, when she thought the coast was clear, would come downstairs, little white helmet in her mouth, and most definitely and deliberately drop it into a shoe.  We began to remind each other to shake out our shoes before putting them on.  We were not always consistent in passing on this reminder to guests.  I’d like to think we just forgot about it, but must admit to the possibility that our omission was intentional, as we enjoyed the delightful (well, to us) expression on a visitor’s face – the mild eyebrow elevation of surprise morphing into confusion – when they went to put on their shoes and discovered they had been honored with Nova’s footwear  enhancement.

Nova eventually tired of the shoe-game, and discovered the joys of Human-aided Helmet retrieval.  We’d be sitting at the breakfast table and she’d bring a Lego helmet [7] and drop it by one of our chairs.  A Lego helmet makes a distinctive clicking noise when dropped onto tile or wood flooring.  She’d drop the helmet, we’d pick it up and lob it into the kitchen or down the hall.  Its distinctive shape caused the helmet to skitter and bounce in an erratic manner Nova found irresistible, and she’d chase it, bat it around, and eventually pick it up and return it to us for another round.

She has done this, off and on and with variations in the game, for years.  And with no other Lego pieces; only helmets. [8]  We’ve found stashes of helmets under various pieces of furniture, and have rescued many from the central vacuum dirt canister in the garage.

Her latest variation is to find a helmet and bring it to the office.  The office carpet muffles the helmet-dropping announcement, so she has devised another routine to get my attention.  Helmet in mouth, she enters the downstairs covered litterbox, which is under the “kid’s” computer desk.  She pees in the litterbox, or sometimes just pretends to – either way, the sound of her pawing about in it alerts me to her presence.  She emerges from the box, drops the helmet in front of it, then dashes into the hallway, looking back at me with an I’m-helping-you-keep-your-promise-to-yourself-to-be-ergonomically-smart-and-take-frequent-breaks-from-the-computer expression. [9] I, of course, dutifully pick up the helmet and throw it for her.  It will be at least six rounds of fetching until she decides I need to get back to work.

Or sometimes, I come into the office and see a helmet outside the litterbox, with no kitty in sight.  Her calling card, I assume.

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Remember to check your shoes before you put them on, and let the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Along with the zen-like calm that can only come from knowing that I carry a whoopee cushion in my props bag.

[2] Not Aryan, but Arean, as in, “of the Bay Area.”  They flew in from San Francisco, not Berchtesgaden.

[3] A “souvenir” of sorts, from the shenanigans at MH’s & my wedding reception…which is a story best told in person, over something stronger than orange Jell-O shots.

[4] This was critic Findlater’s actual review for Lillian Hellman’s Toys in the Attic.

[5] Meet My Mother Moments

[6] Except morels.  Oregon foodies are supposed to adore morels, but moiself thinks they taste like what muddy socks smell like.

[7] It seems we had an endless supply, from years of buying Lego Classic Space sets.

[8] She will play fetch with wads of paper, but only on the staircase.

[9] Really, that’s exactly what her kitty facial expression means.  We’ve had it translated.