Bitter Bronx-Giveaway

Well here I am once again.  Happier than you can believe!  Why?  

Because I have had the pleasure of having my favorite author indulge me in his newest short stories.  Yes, Jerome Charyn has once again graced me with that gravelly voice that he writes with so well.  I hear the noise of kids yelling as they play while moms shout down their matriarchal blessings in the form of dire warnings.  You can see Bitter Bronx as it is laid out line by line just like the Grand Concourse cutting across from Yankee Stadium to Kingbridge Heights.  

It is great to be able to hear these stories as if Sam Spade's illegitimate third cousin had decided that law does not pay as well as crime does.  Not that the characters set out to live a life on the edge, it is just that the edge is so close to the center in the Bronx.  Pull up a seat here with me and fall in to a world where you hear a smokey voice purr or see an off set nose set the tone of one's face, just like watching a black and white movie.  Pure classic work! 

Brooklyn is dead. Long live the Bronx! In Bitter Bronx, Jerome Charyn returns to his roots and leads the literary renaissance of an oft-overlooked borough in this surprising new collection.

In Bitter Bronx, one of our most gifted and original novelists depicts a world before and after modern urban renewal destroyed the gritty sanctity of a land made famous by Ruth, Gehrig, and Joltin' Joe.

Bitter Bronx is suffused with the texture and nostalgia of a lost time and place, combining a keen eye for detail with Jerome Charyn's lived experience. These stories are informed by a childhood growing up near that middle-class mecca, the Grand Concourse; falling in love with three voluptuous librarians at a public library in the Lower Depths of the South Bronx; and eating at Mafia-owned restaurants along Arthur Avenue's restaurant row, amid a "land of deprivation…where fathers trundled home…with a monumental sadness on their shoulders."

In "Lorelei," a lonely hearts grifter returns home and finds his childhood sweetheart still living in the same apartment house on the Concourse; in "Archy and Mehitabel" a high school romance blossoms around a newspaper comic strip; in "Major Leaguer" a former New York Yankee confronts both a gang of drug dealers and the wreckage that Robert Moses wrought in his old neighborhood; and in three interconnected stories—"Silk & Silk," "Little Sister," and "Marla"—Marla Silk, a successful Manhattan attorney, discovers her father's past in the Bronx and a mysterious younger sister who was hidden from her, kept in a fancy rest home near the Botanical Garden. In these stories and others, the past and present tumble together in Charyn's singular and distinctly "New York prose, street-smart, sly, and full of lurches" (John Leonard, New York Times).

Throughout it all looms the "master builder" Robert Moses, a man who believed he could "save" the Bronx by building a highway through it, dynamiting whole neighborhoods in the process. Bitter Bronx stands as both a fictional eulogy for the people and places paved over by Moses' expressway and an affirmation of Charyn's "brilliant imagination" (Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune).

Jerome Charyn's stories have appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review, The American Scholar, Epoch, Narrative, Ellery Queen, and other magazines. His most recent novel is I Am Abraham. He lived for many years in Paris and currently resides in Manhattan.

You can find Bitter Bronx on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble for just $12.59 ebook or $24.95 hardcover

Thanks so to both Jerome Charyn and to Tribute Books for hosting this giveaway of $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.  You can enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

Energy To Kill

Well since I am having the joy of pet/house sitting, it means time to relax and read.  Thus I have found another sentence that was just perfect for me.  Honestly would love to be known for having this kind of energy.  In Susan Wiggs book "The Beekeeper's Ball" on page 45 it says,

"She had the kind of energy that made caffeine jumpy."

Yeppers, that is what I want to be known as.  You see if your around me any amount of time then you would know I do not sit still well.  I am up and down all the time.  That is why I gave up TV.  I could not sit through a show.  Each commercial I would be up and doing something.  My BFF today said how tired she was after our morning outing of garage sales and lunch.  I looked at her and asked her how could she be tired.  I was really baffled!  She said that she was tired from the whole morning outing.  Unlike me, I was energized.

It seems that the more I do the more energy I feel.  Like it recharges me.  Being still is exhausting to me.  So when I do have the times where I start to get "nappy", I jump up and find some chore to do.  Wakes me right up.  It seems I am always up for a walk, event, task, helping hand.  Just holler at me and most likely I would be thrilled to help out.

Now to have a sign made for me with the above slogan!


Have you heard of the phrase "Choose The Right"?  Well it is something that I am hearing every week when I am helping teach my small primary class at church.  "Choose the right" is a saying among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) that is taught to children and used by members of the church as a reminder to act righteously. The phrase is taken from an LDS hymn which has that title.  Personally my favorite line in the hymn is, "Let wisdom mark the way before.
In its light, choose the right!" 

I truly like that this is a way to help children know we all make our own path by our choices.  We all need to keep this in mind.  Weather it be the simple choice of putting a smile on our face to start the day or deeper in following the right course of action during the day.  The choice is always ours.  Some things are easy to discern on what to do.  But there are other issues that are harder to make a choice.  So much that weighs and influences our decisions.  Most often we are swayed by what others will think or believe.  When we should be looking inward and choosing to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.  Weighing the choices by our beliefs and morals.  

Also, I like that this helps children to learn that in the choices we make, we grow.  It is this growth that helps form us into productive adults.  And that is the goal of all parents is to help their children grow up into loving families that will help guide the steps of the next generation.  

Insight That Helps Me

Every now and then you come across something that just hits home., that word perfect event or explanation.  I found one of those today while reading Michael Palmer's "The Last Surgeon".  On page 344 it reads.

"Here's the thing with PTSD," he said.  "Some people think it's in your head and that you can just snap your fingers  or crank up your willpower and come out of it, or like MacCandliss keeps insisting, that it's all manufactured for some secondary gain.  But that's not the case at all.  It's a chemical change where the thinking takes place, like an internal depression, or a cancer eating away at you.  Much as you want to just shake the symptoms off, sometimes they won't let go.  So you end up walking around in circles, holding yourself hostage to the places and people where you feel most comfortable and safe, because the alternative means facing an unknown."

English: signs and symptoms ptsd
English: signs and symptoms ptsd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a great description of how it feels to have to deal with the chemical imbalance that happens to us when we have had to go through great trials.  PTSD can be caused by many events.  We are often told to "man up" or "let it go".  It is not that simple.  You can not just change the way your body reacts to things.  It is like being told to not breath.  Impossible!  This is the same thing with being bi-polar, having chronic depression or even dealing with schizophrenia.  Medications can help you be leveled out better but they do not take it all away.  Counseling also can give you tools to be able to cope better.  But in my personal experience, nothing makes it just become all better.

I do know that there are things we can control that does help.  If we have a good diet to help our bodies be able to function at it's best capacity.  Enjoying the sunshine and daily exercise also will raise your serotonin levels naturally.  As well as actually choosing happiness in your life.  Yes, we can choose to see the positive and good in life.  This again will not make you "all better" but it will help the ability to cope against the imbalances.  So using a combination of medication, coping skills, diet, exercise and free will are amazing tools that we can control.

Life often hands us a raw deal.  I do not think it is God's will for us but instead the adversary that works so hard to break us.  There are many different events that can be a breaking point and it is different for each of us.  But if we try hard to be as strong as possible, lean on the care and love of others and take the time to gain our center back, then it is possible to win out over these events.  Find it in your life what works best.  For myself it is daily prayer, reading the scriptures and then having a quiet moment to reflect on the amazing love and life I have.  Looking at the small things that make life the best gift of all.

Hearts & Bunnies

When do you say your old?  And at what point do you stop being young?  Just where is middle age?

If you figure that part out then you have to figure out how are you suppose to act.  What actions are appropriate? When and where does it matter?

Then there are those times you say what the heck, throw up your hands and decide your just going to make yourself happy.  Weather someone tells you your too old or that your not following the "rules".  So basically I did not tell anyone what my plans were this time and just went and did what I wanted.

Yes, my feet are finally done!  These are the two tattoos I have been wanting for over 3 years.  Each has a significance to me.  They are not only on my feet but also on JD's feet, just opposite ones.  

So here is the first one.  

A simple line drawing of two sets of interconnected hearts.  This is to represent the connection of choice between my daughters and I.  There is a heart that starts on the top and then comes down to complete the heart on the bottom.  The same from side to side.  Then the four of them making one interconnecting shamrock.  Two of the hearts connected are for JD and myself as mother and daughter.  The other two are connecting my step daughters to each other (they are half sisters).  The the four joins us as a family, four strong women who are so lucky (the shamrock) to have each other.  The four of us have talked about wanting a matching tattoo that we all have.  This was the design that was the winner.  This week JD and I had it done on our feet.  Now we are waiting for when the other two girls can do theirs.  I so wish we were all together to have done it as a group!

The second one is here.

This one was specific for JD and I.  We are 24 years apart in age so on the Chinese zodiac it makes us both born in the year of the Rabbit.  So as she was growing up we called each other by the nick names of Mommy Bunny and Baby Bunny.  Of course you know my signature color is pink and hers growing up was always green.  I am right handed and she is left handed so we have this tattoo on the corresponding foot.  She is just 3 weeks away from her wedding and as happy as I am for her, it feels like this is the last step away from me.  We will always be close but she is now moving on to beginning her own family.  Thus we wanted to have this tattoo done before she did.  

Okay so at 51 years old I am still acting young and to some impulsive.  But these are desires I have had for years, not a quick decision.  It is just that in a matter of the last three days, I have finally been able to fulfill them.  So what do you think?

Super Sunday Supper

Today was our Sunday supper after church.  You know the one, where everyone brings something amazing to share.  Yeah, tons of time to visit, eat and really get to know each other more.  It is one of my favorite events each month.

Now there is also the food debate.  Where you decide what to bring.  Totally healthy or decadent delicious?  Who has what allergy?  Those that will NOT eat something or other.  And of course that handed down recipe you know is so simple to make but out shines every dish.

I am the one who is always looking to bring something healthy and allergy free.  With our group that means...

  • No Soybean Oil
  • No Dairy
  • No Eggs
  • No Nuts
  • No Aluminum
  • No Cumin, Coriander, Cilantro or Tomatillos

Yes, that is quite a list.  But I manage each month to accomplish this.  It takes time to look at what is in items.  And a goal to use as much fresh food as possible.  This month I accomplished this by making a wonderful green salad with dressing taken on the side.  Also to add to it was extras all on the side.  We had diced ham, grated cheese and tuna salad for those that wish to add them to their salad.

My secret was using Walden Farms Amazing Mayo in the tuna salad.  As well as Walden Farms Honey Dijon and Jersey Sweet Onion salad dressings.  They are free of EVERYTHING.  I truly do not know how they make all their sauces but they are the best for dealing with diet restrictions.  Also I can find some of this in my small town store.  Better still when I shop in the metroplex at Sprouts.  That is when I really stock up!

Now the tuna was even better.  Safe Catch tuna is 100% mercury tested as they test every fish they use.  Safe Catch Elite Wild Tuna is ten times (10x) stricter than the FDA mercury limit.  The also just pack the cans with fish.  No additives, filler soy or pyrophosphate.   Here is what they do.  

Safe Catch uses raw pack hand cut fish
They cook-in-can to seal in all the nutrients
Most brands pre-cook and rehydrate with fillers to save money
Safe Catch fish has up to 5x more Omega-3 than brands that pre-cook
They use environmentally friendly BPA free can lining
No fillers, no GMOs, no gluten, no additives

So what is the down side?  Well they are not available in my local store so I have to purchase online.  And the price is higher than what I would normally pay.  But it is also so much healthier and we all know that it is worth the extra to have quality food.  I loved that there was not any oil or water packed into the cans but my cats where not thrilled to miss out on the extra treat.  C'est la vie

Easter Breakfast

A new one for us today, Creamed Eggs on Toast.  Now this sounded sorta odd but it was really delicious.  Oh and easy to make too!  You can also dress it up if you wish.

This is Elder Packer showing it off.  Since he is away from home this Easter we tried to help out and make this meal that they always share there.  


6 servings

  • 15 hard-cooked Guinea eggs, peeled
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • Swanson Flavor Boost Concentrated Chicken Broth
  • 6 slices whole wheat bread, lightly toasted
  • salt and white pepper to taste

Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks. Place the egg yolks into a bowl and mash with a fork. Chop the egg whites into small pieces and set aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan set over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually mix in the milk and chicken flavoring so that no lumps form and stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Add the egg yolks and mix until dissolved. Stir in egg whites. Serve over toast (we pulled it into bite size pieces) and season with salt and white pepper.

Pulling n Planting

Well it sure is feeling like Spring around here.  At least for me.  I have spent the last week pulling weeds from my front yard.  It is covered in those horrid stickers.  I know this is not the most effective way to be rid of them but it is cost effective to my budget.  I hope to treat the area with the home made weed killer once I am totally done.  That way I can hopefully apply this to the root system and not just the tops of the weeds.  

Mix 1/2 gallon of Vinegar, 1/4 c table salt and 1/2 tsp Dawn liquid dish soap and pour into a spray bottle. Then just spray weeds thoroughly.
Here is a video showing how well it works.

Seems to work pretty well.  But with my bad boy stickers I really want to get to the roots.  So we will see if it kills them out too.  Currently my lawn is made mostly of dirt right now as I have pulled most all of it up.  That is how bad the sticker weeds are here.  
But I did get to put in a few succulents in my empty flower beds.  Also put a lil mulch around them to pretty it up some.

It was really nice that our local mail lady provided these plants to me free of charge.  Her darling husband was pruning back their area.  So these 'babies' needed a new home to rest in.  

Next I need to fill the bird feeders and the water dishes.  Then it is on to the back yard to mow down those weeds.  I will try to kill them next time around.  

Out Sick Today

One of those ick days.  I knew through out the night that I was coming down ill.  Kept waking up from my throat becoming more and more sore.  Feeling the swelling as well as my ear aching.  Yes, it is time for my annual strep throat.  I think I have come down with this every ear for all of my life.  It seems to always pop up in the spring or summer.  During beautiful weather instead of cold damp weather.  Top it off of course there is the headache that has set in.  All I want to do is lay here curled up in bed and moan.  Not my favorite thing to do.

So I am either going to give in or say heck with being ill and find a way to boaster through it.  Not too sure right now which will win.  

Inside Out

I want to be loved for this thought.  That I am colorful.  Not just in image but in heart.  My soul needs to breath in color and share it out in love.  My motto is "There is always time to DANCE!"  It is so because I believe that dancing is a way to share the color we have inside.  It pops out in twirls, bounces, hops and slides.  A way that the color inside of us flows out with the aid of music.

How do you feel color?  How do you express it too?  Share with me so I can learn ways to share the color of my soul.