Living Every Day as Thanksgiving

What's a few warped books?

What’s a few warped books?

Some days are harder than others, but when we can put our life in perspective, the world turns.

Yesterday as I prepared for the holiday, I received a call from my daughter. “I’ve got some bad news, Mom.” My heart sank. It’s not a call you want to receive, and those are words you never want to hear.

It seems books I’d had mailed to her place in Florida for two upcoming book signings had arrived. Only the mailman decided that the best way to deliver to her apartment would be to leave the box in the parking lot on a day of torrential rains in northeast Florida. She sent a photo of the books, and my heart sank to see those babies of mine all warped and useless. I fumed; I fussed; I used the “f” word in more ways than I did in this sentence.

And then sometime this morning in the wee hours of sleeplessness on how to proceed, it came to me. They are books. They are things that can be replaced. My daughter, my husband and others I love cannot be replaced.

San Antonio River Walk November 2014

San Antonio River Walk
November 2014

Today I am grateful for both the health of my husband and myself. We’ve had a hell of a two years, but now we’re out on the other side of it. You never know to appreciate your health until it’s no longer there.

I am one proud Momma of a very talented, thoughtful, and kind daughter. What more could a parent wish for when the longest and most important job in our life begins? I’m amazed that I had anything at all to do with this generous and conscientious human being.

There are so many people and things for which to be grateful this season and every day of the year. I plan on celebrating them all, even the damp books that may simply get donated to someplace that doesn’t mind reading material not quite in pristine condition.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in the United States. And to all the rest, just a simple Happy Days. May you find peace wherever you may be.

With gratitude,

Patricia

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Serendipity at Sixty

Serendipity in San Antonio

Serendipity in San Antonio

Next month a milestone birthday visits me when I turn sixty years old. Sixty? Are you kidding me? How can I be sixty when I still feel thirty?

I’ve become more intro- and retrospective this year because I know for sure I’m beyond what we refer to as “middle-aged.” And I’m not sure how it happened.

Serendipity seems to follow me these days, or perhaps because I’m contemplating my life from all angles, I’m much more aware of those things. The latest serendipitous moment occurred this week when I traveled to San Antonio with my husband, who was attending a conference in the river city. I happened to be cruising on Facebook our second morning here when I saw that my childhood friend, Jodi, was also in San Antonio visiting her son and family.

Such a serious child

We grew up together in a small Michigan town. Her family lived four doors up from me, and Jodi and her brothers were my only childhood friends until I started school. My mother was very protective of me, and I was not allowed to play much outside of my own side and back yard. So Jodi and Jimbo often came to me, thankfully. I didn’t have a happy childhood for the most part, but Jodi’s free spirit and friendly smile brought some of my happiest memories to me there on Cherry Street.

Jodi moved to Denver, and I moved to Florida. We lost contact with one another until the advent of Facebook, where we reconnected once again. We met up at her house two years ago in Colorado when we traveled there from our home in Pittsburgh for yet another conference. It was lovely meeting her husband, seeing her house, and catching up.

So when I saw she was in the same city, I messaged her, and we met for lunch yesterday, without the hubbies. It was a lunch where we lost track of time–Jodi was almost late for picking up her granddaughter from preschool.

Here’s what I most enjoyed about the lunch: I’ve known this woman since my earliest memories, which means I’ve known her almost sixty years. We’ve borne children, gone through serious and fun times without each other knowing; we bear some lovely white hairs, have a few wrinkles around our eyes, and we’ve lost loved ones. Yet as I sat there amid the dirty plates and mostly empty margarita glasses, I saw her as the young playmate who brought her toys down to play with me in my yard. And I realized that because of this pretty woman sitting across from me, I do have some childhood memories worth remembering.

When Elvis walked by our table in his white cape and pumped-up black hair, our day was complete, even though he ignored our requests of a photo with him. He didn’t even throw us a scarf as he left the building. But we giggled like ten-year old kids when he swept by without a word.

Serendipity is the “phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for” according to Merriam-Webster. Our lunch together was both valuable and agreeable, so if turning sixty means these phenomena happen more frequently, then bring it on. I’m ready.feather

Serendipity can come softly like a feather floating down from the sky or it can hit us like a sledgehammer on the head. No matter how it enters my life, I’m ready to embrace it.

Do you recognize serendipity when it floats softly into your life?

 

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#Veterans Day with Denise Kahn’s Warrior Music

P. C. Zick:

All the best to our Veterans.

Originally posted on P.C. Zick:

WARRIOR MUSIC COVER

All sales go to support our Veterans, November 8-15

I welcome Denise Kahn (see my interview with her from 2013), author of the Music Trilogy series and Split-Second Lifetime (my review). She has a special message, and a special offer where you can help our Veterans. During the week of November 8-15, she is donating all of the proceeds from the sale of the third book in the trilogy, Warrior Music, to a Veterans organization. The book is on sale for .99 cents and well worth the price. But I’ll let Denise explain a little more about her donation and her giveaways in honor of Veterans Day.

From Denise Kahn:

Warrior Music is in honor of my son, who gallantly served during Operation Iraqi Freedom. For this reason, during this Veterans Day week, November 8-15, I am doing a promotion to honor and help our Veterans. It is but…

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Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory

PhippsGlassHouseFlashback to 2009, and the invitation to visit my now husband in Pittsburgh where he lived. I’d never had the city on my top ten places to visit, and Robert knew I was reluctant to travel to what I thought of as a dirty city. That’s why soon after my plane landed, he took me to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

First of all, the drive there from the airport dispelled my idea of black smoke still encircling the city. We drove through the Fort Pitt tunnel into the sunshine of downtown Pittsburgh and the meeting of three mighty rivers. We drove on to Oakland, the home of the University of Pittsburgh. On the other side of Panther Hollow lies the glass house. Henry Phipps commissioned the conservatory in 1892 to give the steel workers in Pittsburgh a place of beauty and fresh air in the middle of the pollution he and Andrew Carnegie helped create with their steel mills eventually purchased by U.S. Steel.

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One of many works of art from Dale Chihuly

Botanical gardens in large greenhouses were all the rage in the Victorian Era, and so the Phipps was built in the best tradition of the very first one, the Glass House of London. Today there’s a new entrance with welcome center, gift shop, and nationally recognized cafe. However, it’s when I step into the Palm Court, the very first room of the nine original glass houses, I am transported back in time, trying to imagine what it must have been like for the average Pittsburgh family to step into that room with its abundance of oxygen and lushness as an antidote to the harsh conditions of the outside world.

Here Phipps created an environment of health and beauty. He required the conservatory be free and open on Sundays to ensure his workers could come and enjoy.

Palm Court decorated with mums

Palm Court decorated with mums

From the moment I stepped inside, I fell in love with all of the rooms in the original structure, and those built in later years to house a tropical rain forest, a spice and fruit room, discovery gardens, edible gardens, and a Japanese garden.

One of my favorite rooms is the East Room now abloom with mums. This room resembles a natural woodland although decorated with the seasonal fall flowers. It will change with the holiday show set to open the day after Thanksgiving.

But there’s something else spectacular going on at the Phipps. It’s becoming a premier vision for a sustainable world. All water that comes into Phipps stay in Phipps through recycling in one form or another. Electricity is manufactured through solar panels and wind turbine. Heating and cooling in many of the rooms is passive through the use of computers to open and shut panels for the appropriate temperatures. Fans come on automatically to move air when needed.

Sunken Gardens

Sunken Gardens

Mums

Mums in full bloom

It’s a beautiful place. That’s why in September, I started training to become a museum docent. I’m now trained to give tours, but I still need to do a practice tour with an official. However, there is so much to know about this beautiful place that I don’t feel ready to conduct a tour. I’m in awe of the history and its place in Pittsburgh. I want to be sure I do it justice when I tell others about it.

East Room

East Room

So now I go and do shifts as a stationary docent. I stand in rooms and engage folks in conversation about the conservatory. They see my name badge and come up and ask me questions. I’m beginning to feel more and more comfortable in my role as Phipps expert. Yesterday I chatted with children and adults. I helped college students on a quest to find a particular rose, which we never did find, but it was great fun taking them through the rooms on the search. I may have imparted some information, but I was the real winner.

Ready to give a tour

Ready to give a tour

On a windy and cold fall day in Pittsburgh, I was transported into a wonderland of lush plants, colorful plants, and rich oxygen. Not a bad way to spend a day.

And by the way, I was wrong about Pittsburgh almost six years ago. It’s  now the place I call home.

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Native Lands – New Release

NEW RELEASE – FLORIDA FICTION SERIESIt’s an exciting day for me–one eight years in the making. Native Lands is now a reality. It went from Connecting the Dots in its original form in 2006 when I participated in a Novel in a Month group. My month stretched out into 100 months, but I did take a break from it in 2007 and didn’t return to it until earlier this year when I retitled it Safe Harbors, but there are many books with that phrase in the title. Since the book is about Native Americans–the Timucuans of north Florida–I decided to go with Native Lands because it encompasses the themes of the novel. I hope you’ll read about the book and perhaps even decide to read it! Enter the Giveaway below for the first two books in the Florida Fiction Series. Native Lands is the third and final(?) book.

Today is also my husband’s 65th birthday. Happy birthday to my young and vibrant Robert. May you forever plant our seeds in the fertile soil of our garden.

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Native Lands is a gripping and entertaining thriller with depth, wonderful characters and well-planted
parallels between the two engaging narratives. There is a beautiful and warm feel of Native Lands and an excellent and uplifting moral that won’t lecture or patronize. A truly great read.

Christoph Fischer, Author

Native Lands is a novel rich in intrigue and history as a tribe of Native Americans, thought to
be extinct, fight to save their beloved heritage. They join with others willing
to sacrifice everything to save further destruction of the Everglades and St.
Augustine.

Forbidden loves, deceptions, and murder threaten to destroy
nature and families in a saga stretching from the 1760s to the present day.

Join Locka and Mali as they lead their tribe of Timucuans
away from the Spanish near St. Augustine in 1760 and settle into a new life in
the Everglades alongside the Calusa Indians. Their progeny grow up in the
Everglades, attempting to keep their bloodlines pure.

By 2010, Mangrove Mike, Joey Cosmos, and Rob Zodiac live
among the white people and learn that the human connection transcends the fear
of extinction of their people. Barbara Evans in the Everglades and Emily Booth
in St. Augustine are the glue as the different cultures combine forces to fight
a conglomerate of international interests.

It’s a dangerous journey as this oddly matched group attempts
to halt the destruction of the natural world they treasure. Cultural boundaries
established centuries ago are erased as love and nature seek the balance lost
during the battle for power and control of the last of the Florida frontier.

 

Excerpt:

Barbara Evans sat in the living room of her house on the western edge of Chokoloskee Island, leafing through past issues of Sierra magazine, searching for an idea for her next column. She listened to the news from the television, only looking up when the local weather presented NOAA’s prediction for an active hurricane season. Then the newscaster began a report that caused Barbara to put down the magazine and devote her full attention to the screen.

“Yesterday, wood storks in Big Cypress Wildlife Management Area attacked a young boy as his mother shot this video of the assault,” the announcer said.

Barbara watched as a boy, approximately ten years old, was crying as a wood stork’s beak poked at the Mickey Mouse portrait stamped on the front of his T-shirt. Another stork approached and began nudging the foam snout of the alligator hat on the boy’s head. A man ran into the frame of the video, yelling and scaring off the wood storks as the boy howled.

“Officers from Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Commission are handling the situation. Here to talk with us is the agency’s spokesperson, Larry Castle. Larry, what’s your agency doing to make sure the tourists are safe in the Everglades?”

“Along with the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we’re asking residents and visitors to our great state to keep their distance from wildlife,” Larry said, wearing a green shirt and hat with the logo from the state’s fish and wildlife agency. “They shouldn’t feed wildlife or make any attempts to capture or touch them.”

“The parents say the wood storks just came up and attacked their child,” the newscaster said.

“Wildlife usually keeps to itself unless tempted by food. We’re investigating, but the safest thing anyone can do is to enjoy wildlife from a distance with a zoom lens on the camera.

“Thank you, Larry. The family told us they are cutting short their vacation because of this unwarranted aviary violence. Governor Rick Scott offered the family a week’s stay in Miami to make up for the attack, but the family declined the offer.”

“My son may never get over this attack.” The mother, wearing a white visor with a Minnie Mouse label on the front, appeared on the screen. “His favorite hat is now in shreds in the swamp. It has been one horrible experience.”

The newscaster came back on the screen. “The video of the attack was recorded by the mother on her cell phone.”

Barbara ran her fingers through her short curly red hair, and with the other hand reached for her phone to call Stan Hogan, her editor at The Miami Herald.

“Stan, I’ve got to write the story about the wood stork attacking the family at Big Cypress,” Barbara said. “You’ve got to let me do it.”

“If I let you write the article, it’s off limits for your column,” Stan said. “You write an objective piece, but no editorializing. Agreed?”

“Then I can write a column about it in a few weeks.”

“No. You’ve been hired as a columnist. If you want to go back to reporting, then we’ll start you on covering the commission meetings in the communities around Lake Okeechobee.”

“Come on, Stan. You know I can write a good piece. I don’t know why you won’t let me.”

“That’s my final say on the subject. You write your column or you start working the Glades County beat.”

“All right, all right.” Barbara knew being assigned the rural beat near the shores of Lake Okeechobee amounted to a death sentence for a writer. “The column is better because I can ask, ‘why the hell was the mother recording the attack instead of protecting her child?’ The kid deserved getting attacked just for wearing that stupid alligator hat. Tell them to pull the column I wrote for this week. I’ll have the new one to you later this afternoon.”

“No ‘those tourists deserved it’ crap. You got me into a load of trouble with that last piece about the pigeons and doves at that wedding in Disney World. One of the copy editors should have caught the line ‘anyone who chooses to get married in the land of Mickey Mouse deserves dead doves floating down during the vows.’”

“I can’t help it if nature keeps biting back,” Barbara said. “Just be sure they pull my old column.”

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Falling into Autumn

DSC03384

Ohio River

Sometime in the coming days, we must do the one activity that marks the end of a season. It’s not necessarily a season on the calendar, but it’s one that exists in my head. The day we pull our boat out of the river and haul it to Dockside boat yard means that winter lurks around the bends in the frozen landscapes in my head. The boat will be washed and winterized and ready for the tarps that will keep the snow off it for the next five months or so.

DSC03391

Beaver River

It’s sad. The only consolation are these final days of boating on the Beaver and Ohio rivers as the palette of colors on the trees create paintings lush in yellows, oranges, greens and reds.

We took one of our last cruises late yesterday afternoon. The temperature hit 69 degrees, and Robert said, “Let’s stop working and get the boat out.” I thought he was nuts–for about two seconds–and then I jumped up from my computer where I’d spent most of my life for the past seven days as I finished formatting and editing my new novel.

We headed out with sweatshirts in tow and enjoyed the entire river to ourselves. Not many folks go out on a Wednesday afternoon in mid-October for a boat ride. We saw one lone fisherman and a coal barge on the water. We saw an abundance of color and basked in the glow of the slowly descending sun.DSC03395

Now we play with the calendar. The boat should be out of its slip by November 1. We watch the weather. We try to gauge whether we’ll have one more weekend day in which to enjoy the peek of the colors. Two years ago we waited one day too long. We were getting the aftermath of Irene’s trip up the east coast, but the weather forecasters predicted the rains and winds wouldn’t be in Pittsburgh until Sunday. By Friday afternoon, the winds began, and we barely got the boat into the ramp. And we wouldn’t but for the kind help of one of our fellow boaters who’d been fooled like us into thinking the weather would last for a few more days.DSC03388

Happy fall! How are the colors in your area?

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Now available for preorder – click on book cover.

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Where Did Summer Go?

Potato Leaf Tomato

Potato Leaf Tomato

I haven’t forgotten you, Living Lightly blog. In fact, I think of you often, and then something comes along to interrupt so I don’t end up writing the post. I’m sorry.

Now that I’ve apologized, it’s time to move on–right into autumn. Now that I think about it, I know exactly where summer went. It went into enjoying the heat and preserving all the vegetables Robert carried from his overflowing garden to my waiting kitchen. Our freezers (we have three of various sizes) are filled, and I know that I have to spend an hour one day organizing so I can find food during the winter.

The tomato crop this year was the best one since we moved to our home here in western Pennsylvania. In fact, my own personal gardener tells me it’s the best year he’s ever had in more than forty years of gardening.

We canned more than forty quarts of Italian sauce and salsa. There are untold numbers of whole tomatoes frozen, waiting for me to make fresh sauce when the winter winds blow. Then when I said I’d done as much as I could with canning and freezing, we started giving away. We put a box out one Sunday afternoon in front of our house with the sign “Free tomatoes.” Within an hour, it was empty. We refilled it. I looked out at one point and a man was taking the whole box. I opened the front door, and yelled, “Do you want more?”

He smiled and ran to my door where I gave him an additional box. A few weeks ago when I was out trimming flowers, a man pulled into the drive and asked what kind of tomatoes did we grow. I answered that my husband grew a variety of types. He said, “They were the huge ones.” Potato leaf, that’s what they were, and they were huge and red and absolutely delicious.

Writing this post makes me long for those tomato sandwiches of summer.

So tell me, how did your tomatoes grow this year?

From Seed to Table S2T-5

Pasta Sauce from Frozen Tomatoes

10 frozen whole tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

1 chopped onion

several chopped peppers – I use both sweet and hot peppers

fresh or dried herbs in any combination and to taste: basil, oregano, thyme, fennel, tarragon

salt and pepper

Remove tomatoes from freezer and put in refrigerator for 4-5 hours. Rinse under hot water for a few second until skins peel off easily. Let skinned tomatoes sit for an hour or until core can be cut out easily.

In the meantime, sauté onions, garlic, peppers (or anything else you’d like to add such as mushrooms, carrots, or olives) and herbs.

Chop tomatoes, even if they’re still partially frozen, throw pieces into pan with sautéed mix.

Bring to boil then put on low for several hours, stirring occasionally. When sauce is reduced enough, it’s time to use sauce in your favorite Italian dish.???????????????????????????????

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#Romance in a Month – It’s here!

My first romance novel is now available! Behind the Altar is the story of forbidden love by a woman passionate about helping the homeless vets living in her small Florida town and a man haunted by his childhood. He’s a famous tattoo artist, and she’s kind, loving, and innocent until he rides his Harley into her heart, and they both discover they’ve never known love before. Be sure to scroll down to enter the raffle to win a paperback copy of Behind the Altar.

Title: Behind the Alter: Behind the Love Trilogy (Book 1)
Author: P.C. Zick
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 16, 2014
~~BUY IT NOW~~

~~ABOUT THE BOOK~~

Forbidden Love – Book #1 in the Behind the Love Series by P.C. Zick

Leah Bryant’s life satisfies all her needs. Her engagement to Jacob Davis, minister of the Sunshine Christian Church, gives her the security she requires after living in a car during her teenage years. She runs a food kitchen out of the church for homeless vets who are living on the banks of Deer River. All is perfect until the day her future mother-in-law Geraldine tells her the church is shutting down the kitchen, and Dean””Jacob’s brother””rides his Harley into her heart. Leah’s world begins to crumble as she falls into Dean’s muscular and tattooed arms. Dean, who’s been away from his home for ten years, finds himself irresistibly drawn in by Leah’s natural beauty and genuine goodness. As they fight to stay away from one another, Leah and Dean keep finding ways to be together. The more they fight the attraction, the harder it is to stay apart. Will Leah go ahead and marry Jacob despite Dean’s haunting her every thought? Will Dean exact the revenge he came home to hand out? And will Geraldine manage to keep control over the church, Jacob, and Leah? It will all be determined in Behind the Altar, a romantic story of forbidden love.

˃˃˃ Homeless vets, deranged mothers, and a tattoo artist collide in this story of true love



How can the sweet and innocent Leah make sure her fight to feed the homeless in the small town of Victory, Florida, is successful? The arrival of Dean, her fiance’s brother, confuses the matter even more as the two are uncontrollably attracted to one another.

Can love really conquer all? Dean and Leah are about to find out.

~~CONTACT THE AUTHOR~~

Other Books on Amazon: http://amzn.to/XYOtoe

Website: www.pczick.com

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In the midst of the fire

P. C. Zick:

This blog addresses an important issue. Let’s keep the dialogue open on depression and suicide. If we talk about it, the stigma may slowly change.

Originally posted on betweenfearandlove:

(Trigger Warning: This post references suicide and depression. If you need help please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.)

robin-williams1

My favorite priest once gave us an analogy. He said to us that someone once told him that people who are depressed with suicidal tendencies feel like they are standing in a burning building with flames all around and the flames are growing bigger and bigger, closer and closer. They can’t run through the fire, the flames will engulf them. They stand on the edge, waiting for the moment the flames die down, but sometimes the flames move so close that they cannot escape them any longer and the only way out is to jump. The jump isn’t designed to hurt anyone else or even themselves. The jump is designed to escape the fire that is all consuming. People jump from burning buildings. We instinctively search for an escape…

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#Monarchs and #Tomatoes As Summer Wanes

Potato Leaf Tomato

It’s been a very bountiful year for our tomatoes. They are the biggest my hubby has ever produced, and they are still coming although the leaves are telling us that the season is about to end.

I put up ten quarts of Italian sauce two weeks ago. We’ve given away dozens of tomatoes. I have seven bags of frozen whole tomatoes for the winter. This weekend we plan on doing eight to ten pints of salsa.

The last of this year's crop

This morning I walked outside to visit the dahlias and marigolds and sunflowers in full bloom and full of bees and now butterflies. We planted milkweed there in the spring, but only one of the plants has survived, but with no flowers. We planted it in hopes of helping the monarch butterfly that depends on these plants to fuel them enough to fly to Mexico each winter.

 

MonarchMuch to my delight and surprise, among the many butterflies feasting on the flowers, sat a monarch on a red dahlia.

The final weeks of summer bring their own bittersweet shots of beauty. I treasure these days. A few trees are turning orange but the weather is still hot and sunny.

I hope your summer has been bountiful and fruitful whatever you’ve done, eaten, or planted!

 

Recipes for preserving tomatoes can be found in From Seed to Table. S2T-5

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