Tag Archives: blog

Professor Dolphin Knew Best


A journalism and corporate writing background conditioned me into thinking I was ready to swim out to the Island of Non-Fiction and string up a nice hammock between two palms.

I’d drop a lobster trap off the rocky side of the island, carefully keep my matches dry and write thought-provoking, interesting non-fiction forevermore.

I would pen magazine articles, essays, editorials.

I’d turn out how-to’s, recipe books, child-rearing booklets, and sundry other juicy projects. *Don’t you just love the sound of sundry?*

Dip into family genealogy.

Try my hand at middle-grade articles about camping or friendship or about believing in yourself.

Case closed.

Alas!

You might say I experienced a curve “wave.”

While splashing my way to the Island of Non-Fiction about seven years ago, a peculiar, mystical creature emerged from my turquoise tropical dream like a tenured professor wearing a dolphin suit and a tutorial expression.

I attempted to swim around him to get to my island, but the aquatic grampus was too swift and blocked my every move.

Sensing he would not speak to me until I stopped flailing, I quietly dog paddled and waited. He seemed pleased.

“Jodi, you won’t be going to the Island of Non-Fiction,” Professor Dolphin said, fixing me with a solemn mien.

“What! You have to be joking! I love shells and pretty sunsets over the waves.”

“That’s the problem,” he said. “From now on, fiction is the new non-fiction for you.”

“But I don’t know anything about writing fiction,” I whined.

“Exactly,” the slick, grey mammal smiled. “Happy plotting, Jodi. May all your dreams be themes. May your characters ever be fleshy and your mid-book chapters sodden with thrills.”

I remember swallowing a lot of brine when he said that.

With a wink, Professor Dolphin dove head first into the majestic azure and white waves … towing my safe and comfortable Island of Non-Fiction behind him.

I stared until he and the island became as tiny as fly specs. Then I turned and swam into my future.


Are you doing something you never dreamed you would do? Did you once think you would never live in a place you live now? Have you made any bold claims about your life that you had to “eat” later on?

I’d love to hear about it.

Just for fun . . .

Borrowing unatuthorized media? We're coming to your town.

Borrowing unatuthorized media? We’re coming to your town.

 

 

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches Spring 2017. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

The Land of Ish


Personally, I don’t see how we can survive these days without the Land of Ish.

I mean, think about it. You’re due in a meeting at work at a certain time, say nine o’clock. You did everything you should have done to be there on time – got up early, out the door on time, filled your gas tank the night before.

What you didn’t do is inherit a magic wand to control all the elements of life. Things like a sick child. The traffic flow. The weather.

You arrive at your meeting at 9:16. The boss looks at her watch when you enter. She nods. You give her a thumbs up.

Why? Because you arrived at 9-ish!

Another scenario: It was all fun and games to talk about your age for the first thirty or so years of your life. Now, pushing forty (or fifty, or *horrors* sixty+), you wonder if the promotion you’re panting after will go to someone younger. What about a part in a play or a chance to sing or to give a speech?

Will the powers that be choose you over your younger counterparts?

You certainly don’t look or feel your age. In fact, you’re downright ridiculously youthful. Is it your fault the world lusts after youth and beauty? Of course not!

When it comes time to spill the beans about your age (providing no one knows already), will you 1) tell the truth right out, and the results be hanged, or 2) bestow upon the inquirer a glorious smile and a shrug and say, oh, 30-ish, or 40-ish, or . . . well, you get the picture.

It’s not a lie.

It’s the Land of Ish at your service!

Ish serves us in other ways, too. Chech out these remarks:

Don’t bother to go to that restaurant. It’s too cheap-ish.

My blind date was freak-ish.

I can’t join a group of such child-ish people.

My husband’s boy-ish smile gives me stomach flutters.

She wasn’t at all standoff-ish.

He got the job because he seemed the least amateur-ish.

Your kid was fever-ish this morning, too?

My new car is kind of blue-ish.

Whew! The Land of Ish is a busy place!

Ish is a descriptive suffix that:

  • makes comrades of strangers,
  • knits friends tighter, and
  • gives all of us something to nod our heads about in agreement.

I’m not suggesting the Land of Ish should run for president or anything, but it might make a good senator.

After all, it’s not priggish, squeamish or mulish.

It’s simply stylish!

Hooray for the Land of Ish!

=======

I love to hear from you!

 

I'm worn out from chasing down social media image borrowers.

I’m worn out from chasing down social media image borrowers.

 

 

 

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches early 2017. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

FryBread – a Bite Out of History



Take a little nibble of frybread and close your eyes.

Hear the ancient winds chanting through the canyons?

Feel the sunlight on your bare skin?

Smell the cedar and sage perfuming the air?

Can you taste the blessing of life?

More than 500 Native American tribes can. For them, frybread history epitomizes a time when they were destitute and steeped in hopelessness. Uprooted from their homelands, and incarcerated on reservations mapped out by the U.S. government, Indigenous people were no longer privy to familiar hunting, trapping and fishing domains. Starving and relying on scarce Army rations in the 1800s, Native Americans concocted a simple bread that became a lifesaver.

History’s Most Startling Frybread Story

Between 1864 and 1866, scout Kit Carson and the U.S. Cavalry drove the Navajos (Diné) from their homes on the Colorado Plateau to Window Rock, Arizona. From there, they were herded like cattle to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, a reservation along the Pecos River in eastern New Mexico.

Navajos called it Hwéeldi.

Fifty-three forced marches in all.

As many as 8,000 Navajos uprooted.

Three to four hundred grueling miles on foot.

Hundreds died.

Slow, elderly or injured Navajos were often shot and killed.

History calls it The Long Walk of the Navajo.

“Many of the Navajo people went to the Arizona mountains to hide. Some of the people are still living there. The Navajos who lived in the desert or valleys had no place to hide. They were either captured for slaves or killed. Some of the people who were captured were taken to Hwéeldi [Ft. Sumner] as captives.” (John Beyale, Sr., OHLW 1989:42) – From A Navajo Diaspora:  The Long Walk to Hwéeldi, by Neal W. Ackerly, Ph.D.

While imprisoned in Fort Sumner, the Diné were given Army rations of flour (varmints included), salt, lard and water. From those few simple ingredients, they created pliable dough, fashioned it into balls, stretched it and fried it in hot lard.

Voilà . . . frybread!

It saved their lives.

It gave them hope.

It ensured the survival of their tribe.

Forget About Frybread?

Most Native Americans share a love and respect for frybread. In recent years, a movement to disqualify frybread as a staple of Native American culture has mostly fallen flat. Who gives up a comfort food that symbolizes the spirit of persistence?

Cut back on eating it and use discretion? Sure. But give up frybread? Never!

It’s round.

It’s puffy.

It’s fried.

It’s delicious.

It’s even funny!

Frybread is Funny?

Yes.

T-shirts, cartoons, comedians, competitions and even movies make light of the soul food of the Indigenous.

All tribes want to claim frybread as their own, and they kid each other about who makes the best. Now, “More Than Frybread” is the only feature length film devoted entirely to the love and passion of frybread. It features a fictional frybread competition among twenty-two tribes and spoofs all that is sacred – and not-so-sacred – about the golden-brown delicacy.

You know you want to check it out!

So, eat it plain or stack it high with everything from meat, chicken, and olives to salad, fruit, honey or jam. Just remember…when you take a bite out of frybread, you’re taking a bite straight out of history.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy frybread? Do you make it yourself? Is it a recipe passed down from your grandmother/mother/aunt? For a delicious homemade version, see  Lolita Tsosie’s Navajo FryBread recipe. A little simpler version can be found here.  Don’t forget to buy your Blue Bird flour first – it’s the best!

Hwéeldi Bééhániih

 

 

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Aunt Dora’s Light Bread


 My Aunt Dora’s Light Bread Rocks!

  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 pkg. yeast
  • 2 cups milk
  • 5 Tbls. sugar
  • 4-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 5 Tbls. Crisco, melted
  • 12 cups flour

Dissolve 2 teaspoons sugar in 1-cup water. Sprinkle yeast on top and let stand for 10 minutes. Scald milk. Add 5 Tablespoons sugar and the salt. Cool to lukewarm.

Add yeast mixture, remaining water and the flour. Beat well. Add melted shortening and enough of remaining flour to make easily handled dough. Knead until smooth and elastic.

Place in greased bowl and let rise until doubled in size. Punch down. Let dough rise again. Divide and make into two loaves. Let loaves rise until double in size.

Bake at 425-degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375-degrees and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from pans onto a rack. Brush tops with butter.

Scalding milk: Old-fashioned but worthy in some cases

Pour milk into a saucepan. Heat until it becomes lightly frothy with tiny bubbles forming around the edges. Stir constantly to prevent scorching. If you use a thermometer, heat to about 180 degrees.

A Smaller Version of Aunt Dora’s Light Bread:

  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • ½ pkg. yeast
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1-1/4 Tbls. sugar
  • 1-1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/4 Tbls. Crisco, melted
  • 3 cups flour

Follow the same instructions as for the larger recipe using the reduced amounts of ingredients. Let rise. Punch down. Let rise. Punch down. Make into one small loaf or squeeze dough through index finger and thumb to form rolls. Let rise. Bake. Serve.

Comment: These are the amounts I reduced the recipe so Ralph (husband) and I could make a pan of rolls for one meal back in 1946 – Aunt Dora Woods (married to Woods kid: Ralph)

Comment: This is an old recipe, so I have learned lots of shortcuts in the way I add the ingredients and mix it. Such as, I use Carnation instant dry milk, so mix the right amount in lukewarm water and no more scalding, etc. Try your luck and use your own method of mixing – Aunt Dora Woods (married to Woods kid: Ralph)

Comment: Trust me, this is some of the most delicious bread you’ll ever put a slab of butter on – Jodi Lea Stewart

 

 

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

The Day the Public Library Stole My Feet


Thanks to John Wayne, most of us remember the Alamo.

British Museum Reading Room, London, Great Britain

And because of Bodeen’s lovely screenplay adaptation of I remember Mama, lots of us, well, remember Mama.

But get this.

I remember *gasp!* before the Internet.

Let me tell you a story . . .

Once upon a distressing day, in a faraway time we called the ‘80s,

I went solo to the downtown public library for a day of hard-core research.

Before Google. Before Yahoo. Before  *diabolical laugh* cell phones!

Picture it!

Jodi is . . . 

. . . driving downtown to *please use Piers Morgan’s voice for the next five words* the Grand Poo-Bah Public Library.

Okay, put Piers’ voice away now.

Ahem. As I was saying,

Jodi is . . . 

1) driving around and around a monstrosity of a downtown public library on one-way streets getting quite desperate for a parking spot AND A POTTY.

2) snortling (which is a cross between a chortle and a snort) and slapping the steering wheel when she finds a just-vacated parking spot in front of the library and won’t have to park eight blocks away in the seedy parking lot run by a guy named Lefty.

3) ignoring angry faces of two drivers who arrived at sacred parking spot two seconds later than she did. Hard to ignore ugly hand gesture of one angry driver.

4) attempting to fit her Chevy Suburban “tank” into a parking space the size of a kitchen sink. Result: Failure.

Now Jodi is . . . 

1) stomping away from Lefty’s parking lot muttering about her lousy parallel-parking skills and the eight-block walk to the library.

2) loading up her shoulders, arms, wrists, and back with STUFF as if she’s a Grand Canyon pack mule.

3) walking and huffing and glowing (because women don’t sweat) all the way to the library on numbed-out, but very cute, high-heeled feet.

4) climbing the steps into *grab that Piers voice again* the Grand Poo-Bah Public Library.

Put Piersie’s voice away. He’s done.

Inside hallowed library halls, we’ll discard the third-person narration and switch to first-person narration. 

As usual, I was hungry to pounce on every fragment of information inside that lofty, pseudo-Roman-Greek-pillared structure of learning and its tens of thousands of yellowed tomes.

I still needed to use the potty. I unloaded all MY STUFF inside the tiny toilet enclosure, reloaded it to walk to the sink, unloaded it to wash my hands, and reloaded it one more time to walk out the door.

Whew.

I emerged at last from the ladies’ room into a Pantheon of Brilliance. Deeping inhaling the library fumes circling my nose gave me a natural endorphin high. Or was it all the dust mites floating in the air from page-turning currents?

Not sure. Nevertheless, just absorbing that cathedral of knowledge invigorated me.

Achy feet? What achy feet? I was in literature heaven, baby!

I dug my bag of bricks out of the two-inch groove in my shoulder and unloaded it on the blond wood of a nearby library table. Of course, I actually unloaded a bag of ancillary books, notebooks, paper, 3×5 cards, pens and a turquoise nylon lunch sack with a sandwich and a juice box, but it felt like bricks.

Obsolete card catalog files at Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University

Zealously grabbing pens and a stack of notecards, I headed to the catalogued card drawers, giddy with research ecstasy. Two or three steps later, rationale reared its ugly head.

What about MY STUFF?

I looked over my shoulder at my STUFF sitting innocently but tall on the library table. I caught movement from the corners of my eyes. Were furtive characters slithering around the perimeter walls eyeballing my heap of treasure? It certainly seemed so.

I mean, we are talking DOWNTOWN.

What choice did I have? I reloaded my STUFF and took it to the nearest Dewey Decimal lounge.

This was before computerized book cataloging. The few dark-age relics vintage screens in the library had wrap-around lines of people waiting to learn how to operate them.

The lucky few currently in front of the terminals were flanked by two or three library assistants pulling their hair out patiently explaining the mechanisms to minds not yet accustomed to absorbing cyber information.

Really similar to explaining nebulae to your great-great granny.

I know. I know. It’s far too much for some of you to imagine this kind of antiquity without envisioning dinosaurs grazing out on the library lawn. Just because I’m a little jealous of you right now, I’m not going to tell you if dinosaurs were out there or not.

Back to my story.

After bloodying my cuticles STANDING and searching through the overstuffed card drawers and pulling out fuzzy-edged cards with Dewey’s special number codes and compiling a list, I reloaded my STUFF and limped – more like a step-drag-step – to the first aisle of books on my list.

That’s when the fun really started because I . . . 

 

1) dropped my STUFF on the floor between my feet.

2) hunkered over it protectively since aforementioned duplicitous characters ventured ever closer to my personal space.

3) perused book after book.

4) wrote furiously on note cards with one eye on my STUFF.

5) scooted STUFF further down the same aisle.

It became a pattern.

  • Drop STUFF.
  • Scan immediate area.
  • Select books.
  • Stand, bend, squat.
  • Write notes.
  • Put books back into place.
  • Gather pens and cards.
  • Reload STUFF.
  • Next aisle.

Write with both eyes on the disheveled man with trousers rolled up to his knee on one leg. Try not to stare at man’s hairy, pasty leg or listless socks banding his ankles.

He shot me a bet-you-don’t-have-LifeLock stare.

Hold it!

LifeLock wasn’t invented yet!

Okay. I remember now.

It was a bet-I can-run-faster-than-you glare. I scowled at him with and hovered closer to my STUFF, especially my purse.

This went on for about three hours.

Task completed

Factoids painfully gathered, I stumbled out the magnificent double doors of the downtown public library, down the steps and back to my Suburban dragging my derrière and, of course, my STUFF.

After the eight-block walk, I threw all that crap STUFF into the back seat. Sitting under the wheel, my key in the ignition, I rummaged through my purse for the precious index cards full of research gold.

I dug and dug. I jumped out and flung open the passenger door. I tore through my tote bag, books, notebooks and turquoise lunch sack.

No cards.

Miserable as a hound dog in a corset, I had to face the facts. I’d left my cards on a bookshelf back at the library. Had to put them down, you see, to reload all my STUFF.

I stood there grasping the side of the Suburban, teetering on my fifteen four-inch heels and arguing with myself. Should I trek the eight blocks back to the library on the off chance that my cards were still sitting there undisturbed, and not being crinkled *softened* that very moment to use as roll-yer-own cigarette paper?

Nah!

I drove home blathering something like wub wub-wubbie woo. In retrospect, I believe that meant the public library had stolen a lot from me that day – my back muscles, my research cards and , most especially, my feet.

My feet weren’t feet any more, but numbed out blocks of wood suffering from a blister epidemic.

That’s my sad story.

Lesson learned – when I go to the library these days, *which, incredulously, I still love to do* I take a human STUFF watcher along.

AND I NEVER, NO NEVER, wear high heels to the big downtown public library!

What about you? Do you remember the prehistoric days before the Internet? Did you ever get into a mess like this one with no one to help you out of it? If you’re a writer or researcher, what percentage of your research do you do inside an actual library?

Done with Dewey by Tali Balas Kaplan at the ACLS  Blog (Assoc. for Library Service to Children).

USC Doheny Library card catalog room. Four walls lined with small drawers, all empty. Replaced by the Internet terminals at left

 

Arrow

 

Just for fun . . .

 

Stop with the unauthorized media, Tony, and one day, you'll be a big shot like me.

Stop with the unauthorized media, Tony, and one day, you’ll be a big shot like me.

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Sassy Sassafras, the Root Beer Tree


My grandfather, Thomas Elmer Woods, learned a lot from the Five Civilized Tribes: medicine, ceremonial dancing, and how to survive.

After his mother died soon after giving birth to him and his twin sister, his sister was sent to live with relatives in the Pacific Northwest. Elmer headed to Indian Territory, Oklahoma, in a covered wagon with his mother’s brother and his wife. He was two weeks old, and the year was 1884.

Native American Ways

Indian Territory consisted of the lands of the Five Civilized Tribes: Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks (Muscogees), and Seminoles, along with twenty-two other tribes.

Elmer got along well with his Native American neighbors. They trusted him enough to let him dance with them whenever he wanted. They taught him their secrets of survival, like how to use roots, leaves, bark and plants to make medicines.

He used that knowledge for his family, and for others, his whole life. The longevity his eleven children enjoyed speaks for the wisdom of those natural preventives.

Case in point – my mother. She’s 88 years young and still bakes the best pies you ever tasted, does her own grocery shopping, drives thousands of miles by herself and can still cut a rug when she really wants to.

She’s Elmer’s eighth child, and one of the tonics she grew up on was sassafras tea.

Thinning (purifying) the blood

Elmer insisted that his family members drink sassafras tea liberally every spring to thin their blood after the long, harsh Oklahoma and Missouri winters.

Sassafras trees, with their irregular lobed leaves and aromatic bark, grew wild and plentiful in the woods. Elmer gathered roots every spring. After thoroughly cleaning a root, or hunks ofSassafrass Roots root, he placed it in a pot of water to boil. Soon, the water turned a beautiful clear pink. When the family was fortunate enough to buy sugar, they added it to the spicy tea, along with fresh cow cream.

It didn’t take much persuasion for eleven little country kids to want to start thinning their blood and ridding themselves of their sluggish winter bodies!

As a very young child, I remember seeing a pan on my grandma’s stove with a big tree root poking out of the top. That was fascinating! The tea tasted wonderful, and I wanted lots and lots.

Later on, when I was a teenager and more snooty sophisticated, I doubted my granddad’s theory about sassafras tea thinning the blood.

How ridiculous, I thought.

Pure folklore.

Dumb.

Then I grew enough brain cells to check it out for myself.

I found out that sassafras tea is recognized as a natural anticoagulant.

Anticoagulant = blood thinner. Fancy that.

Ever notice how much smarter grownups got after our teen years?

In early America, sassafras and tobacco were the main exports from the colonies to England. Sassafras was revered for its medicinal qualities, as well as for the beauty of its wood.

Alas, sassafras tree byproducts, including sassafras tea, are controversial these days, which is why it isn’t the main ingredient in root beer anymore.

The dried and ground sassafras leaves are still used to make filé powder for certain types of gumbo.

And lots of people just go right on using the mysterious tree’s bark, leaves, and roots.

A good argument in favor of doing that might be my granddad. He lived into his eighties with no medicines other than the natural ones he learned from The Five Civilized Tribes. He hand-delivered all of his eleven children, survived total economic depression with nothing but his two hands to make a living and played a mean banjo and fiddle with no lessons.

Maybe there really is something to “thinning the blood” with sassafras tea every spring. You think?

Have you ever tasted sassafras tea? Did you know it was the main flavoring in root beer at one time, or that some people thought of the sassafras tree as the root beer tree? Did your family use any old-timey “medicines” that didn’t come from a pharmacy?

I love to hear from you.

Just for fun . . .

Borrowing unauthorized media is driving me to the edge.

Borrowing unauthorized media is driving me to the edge.

 

 

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Lather: The Twinkle Jackson Story / a Round-Robin Excursion


“Those are really undercover squirrels at my feet, you know” – The Golden Goddess, sister of Juniper Jackie aka Jupernia

How can I explain our far-out fantasy, Lather: The Twinkle Jackson Story?

I can’t.

My writing and blogging group was bored and became excited to take on another Round Robin tale of extreme proportions. It’s rollicking fun to blend our various writing styles *think fingernails on a chalk board!* to produce a story like none other. Our first experiment, the Octopus Knows, was a grand adventure, definitely worth reading, and I think a lesson in group therapy! Here’s the link for brave Round-Robin Reading aficionados.

You can read Chapters 1-6 of our current tale on the links below. If, after reading Lather, the Twinkle Jackson Story, you experience any of the following:  total brain crash, loss of saliva or Restless Toe Syndrome (RTS), please contact Laird Sapir – the creator of this maniacal activity. She also designed the beautiful Sparkle Sudz Soap graphic. Yes, she’s a mad scientist of the galactic-graphical kind, and we’re hopelessly devoted to her leadership in our RR *Round Robin* ventures!

Previous chapters:

Without further ado, the Twinkle Jackson story continues. Note: If this yarn messes with your IQ, please don’t contact us. Thank you.

Chapter Seven

“Mom!” Twinkle gasped. With a cry, he grabbed his mother around the neck.

“Hang on, son!”  Jupernia shouted as she half slid, half flew down the curve of the spaceship pulling Twinkle with her. She had been shocked, pleasantly so, that they were still planted in Geraldo’s vegetable garden and not soaring through the galaxies.

The big buffoon, she sighed, thinking of her husband inside the house. All this racket and he hadn’t once come outside. She could picture him snoring with his chin on his chest, slumped at his work table—a neon yellow Stanley Surform wood/plastic shaver in one hand and an unfinished toy in the other. How she did love that Earthling!

“Soon,” she said, barely above a whisper. Twinkle felt, more than heard her speak, as they swooshed toward the ground.

“Soon, what, Mother? And what in the name of all that’s chiseled from wood is going on? Where have you been? Are you really the Golden Goddess’ sister? What are you doing with that overgrown crustacean?”

Jupernia didn’t answer. Touching ground, she pulled from her dark cloak a glowing box encircled by a sparkly silver cord. Slipping off the cord, she twirled it in the air like a lasso. The circle at the end hooked the tip of an oxygen tube on the spaceship.

“Yes!” she said, immediately closing her eyes and humming Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. The Crustaship, including the Shrimperators swarming the craft’s ramp like disturbed fire ants, disappeared in a poof of sappy mist. Twinkle knew it was sappy because he tasted it. He’d chewed enough tree sap in his young life to be a sap expert.

Jupernia crossed her arms over her chest in an X and smiled. “I’ve been saving my last lasso loop for a time like this,” she said.

Twinkle fell backward on his dad’s squashed squash plants. His mind was exploding. He looked at his mother. Who was she?

“Come,” Jupernia beckoned, leading the way into their open-air summer gazebo. Once inside, she removed the heavy dark cloak and placed it and the glowing box on the white painted iron table between the matching iron chairs. “Twinkle,” prepare yourself. I need to explain fast before Lord Lobstar’s minions break the sap-mist code.

Twinkle blinked rapidly and stroked his curls.

“My sister and I look like Earthlings, but we are really from Planet Juniper located in the Fir Galaxy – a place where trees and hair have the perfect conditions – you might say, conditioner – to thrive. You probably wondered why I became a professional tree climber. Now you know. It’s in my Tree-N-A. The lemon-mint conditioner I always made in a tub in the basement is the same mixture everyone uses on our planet.

Juniper, a Planet of the Fir Galaxy

“Why did you come to Earth in the first place, Mom?”

“I simply fell in love. I met your father while attending a wood class at Maple University, and oh, the things he could carve out of wood. It just filled my heart with joy! We Juniparians are allowed to visit other planets, of course, but certainly not to stay, or marry the inhabitants. I stayed, married, and my little sister followed me here. We were banned from returning, and Golden took a job with Sparkle Sudz Soap. Soap became her substitute for sap.

I became a wife and mother.” She ran her fingers through the top of Twinkle’s hair and smiled lovingly at him.

“Son, our national anthem is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Need I say more?”

Twinkle was angry. Not about being half Earthling, half Juniparian. No, that was kind of cool. He was angry because his Mother left them without a word. He was angry that his father was so weak he’d become a hoarder and shrink-wrap-bulk purchaser since she left. Mostly, he was angry at the torment he’d suffered at the claws of Lord Lobstar.

“I never thought my own mother would throw in with a Lobster Mobster,”  he sulked. Twinkle dipped his hand in his pocket, withdrew it and blew through the “O” he formed with his thumb and forefinger. A medium-sized bubble slipped into the night sky.

“You’ve never met your Grandpa and Grandma Woods, Twinkle. I wanted to fix that. When I got word that our planet was in trouble, I went undercover to help. You see, we’re a gentle people, as trusting as limbs, uh, I mean, lambs. The way I heard it, when Lord Lobstar first showed up, Juniparians felt sorry for him. He’d lost the love of his life and had self-exiled himself into space. He seemed so humble, so peaceful. In time, he became a citizen and ran for Conifer Councilman. He won! His next office was President of Pine, our largest continent. In time, he became the Fir Forrester, our planet’s primary leader. He talked Juniparians into giving up their glowing boxes and silver cords, our only weapons, to show absolute faith in him.

“As he became physically weaker from being so long out of his own environment, he turned briny and bitter about his past. He made up outlandish stories about his home planet, denying that he was an Earthling. Son, you…you won’t believe where Lord Lobstar is actually from. I’m almost afraid to tell you.”

Twinkle jumped from his chair and ran onto the lawn. He twirled around three times and did a shoulder stand. “Tell me! Tell me!” he babbled, his eyes flickering like an old black and white television screen. Jupernia bit her knuckle. Her son was exhibiting symptoms of Wooden Head, a Juniparian illness triggered by stress overload. She needed to quickly tell him the rest of the story and get a ground-up bark malt down his throat before it was too late.

“Okay, son. Calm down. Lord Lobstar is from Earth. From the Pacific Ocean to be exact. His girlfriend was one of our undercover agents who masquerades as a squirrel under the sea. She fell in love with Larry the lobster, a simple lifeguard and weight lifter who loved to show off his muscles on the beach. Who could guess that Larry’s downfall and heartbreak would come from a crazy little guy who wore square pants…a mutant sponge they call SpongeBob?”

Twinkle’s rolling saucer eyes and dribbling mouth scared Jupernia.

“Yes, it’s true. Lord Lobstar is from Bikini Bottom. When Sandy dumped him for SpongeBob, it broke him. Messed him up pretty bad. Sandy, out of guilt, and due to his continual insistence, invented a Crustaship for him. He sailed away into the heavens until he found a planet to take over—ours. Now his only motivation is revenge.

His evil scheme is to destroy SpongeBob, Patrick, and even his distant cousin, Mr. Crabs. He desperately needs a half Earthling, half Juniparian to accomplish his goal, and that’s where you come in.

“My dear and only child, Earth and Juniper’s future is at stake.

“We have to find a way to save Bikini Bottom!”

 

Oh my…Bikini Bottom is in grave danger! What will happen? Can Jupernia save Twinkle from Wooden Head disease? Will the Sap-Mist wear off too soon? Is the Golden Goddess really on their side, or is she up to something more sinister? Stay tuned for the next chapter! The continuing lineup is sitting quietly on Laird Sapir’s blog. Thanks for joining us. We needed the sane brain cells you brought with you!

I always love to hear from you.

 

 

 

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.