Sunday, October 21, 2012

Yonni Hale and the South Wind on Kickstarter

My wife has recently launched a project on Kickstarter. She is trying to give herself the time to finish a novel, Yonni Hale and the South Wind, and to write a companion to the novel, The Magical History of Kansas. As an adjunct instructor, she is usually burdened by stacks of student essays, most of which she devotes too much of her time to grading.

A short review of her first book in this series appears below. Yonni Hale and the Cosmic Wind can be located on Smashwords.

Yonni Hale and the Cosmic Wind, written by Rajah Hill, focuses on the growth and perceptions of a young girl as she comes to learn of her personal power and her connectedness with women of all ages and with nature. One of a series of projected books containing the character Yonni Hale, and set in Kansas, this novel captures elements of small-town life, where the division between those with money and those without money is readily apparent. Those who run the town seek yet more influence and make an effort to destroy the lives of others. While her large family allows Yonni to grow up assured of love and support, she is not willing to let any of her friends suffer because of the influence exhibited by those businessmen with money. Yonni, as she gains strength and control over her personal power, harnesses nature to protect those she cares about. The novel develops Yonni’s transformation and her control over this power. At the same time, the novel lingers over such things as the strength of Yonni’s mother, her parents’ relationship, Yonni’s relationship with her sisters, and her introduction to the professors and the knowledge available at the local college. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable novel, and although there are things worth savoring, there is enough suspense to cause one to stay up reading into the night.

More information can be found at the following link: Yonni Hale and the South Wind

Autumn at Weston Bend State Park

Weston Bend State Park, a park in western Missouri, offers a chance to relax and to escape from the consumerism of our culture. It's a great place to take a walk on a Saturday afternoon. Frankly, I don't get there often enough.

One of these pictures offers the chance to see the Missouri River on the right. The park is located on the bluffs above the river. The United States Disciplinary Barracks, the only maximum prison for the military, is located to the northeast of the overlook. Fortunately, the afternoon sun on Saturday kept me from taking any pictures in that direction.

Autumn at Havens Park

Our trees here in northeastern Kansas had very little color until the start of October. The change was a gradual one at first, as the pictures below reveal. Once we had that first bit of color, a period of rain and high winds caused the trees to lose their leaves quickly. Some years are more colorful; this one has been less so because of the reduced amount of moisture that we have had since last winter.

When I was younger, I used to be relatively oblivious of the seasons. One sensory memory I have of autumn as an early teenager, however, is the smell of the fallen leaves in Maryland. My father was working at Fort Meade at the time, and we lived close to the fort in a community called Glen Burnie. The older part of the city had more trees than the new housing area where I was living. A friend and I used to walk to the theater in downtown Glen Burnie. Whereas the mall theater showed the current releases, including Zulu during the mall's opening weekend, the theater downtown showed art films like Ecco and previously released features like Lawrence of Arabia. A bit farther from the theater lived a girl that I had a crush on in seventh grade. I sometimes rode my bicycle through her neighborhood in the hope of getting a glance at her house and maybe of her. Her boyfriend at the time approached me in one of the hallways of our junior high one afternoon after school, and we pushed each other around, and maybe exchanged a couple of punches, before we were sent to the office of the vice-principal and paddled on the rear once he called our parents. The vice-principal's wooden paddle, like those seen in the movies, had holes cut into it so that it could travel through the air faster. In any case, I remember the smell of the fallen leaves as I rode my bicycle through the older parts of the city that autumn.

Now, I try to enjoy each season, regardless of how hot the summer may be or how cold the winter may be. As someone who regularly reads the obituaries and who has friends who were my age or younger when they died, I have come to realize that each day is precious. Millais was trying to express the transitory quality of life in his painting Autumn Leaves.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pumpkins & Autumn

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban devotes a lot of attention to the images of pumpkins. About a dozen huge pumpkins are growing in Hagrid's garden at the end of the school year at Hogwarts during what is supposed to be late spring in Scotland. Pumpkins are actually part of the autumn harvest in North America. It is one of the vegetables that the indigenous people on this continent introduced to the Euro-American settlers.

One of my favorite pies, and the only one that I am adept at making, contains canned pumpkin. The recipe that I follow calls for a package of gelatin, along with cinnamon and nutmeg and canned milk, and the addition of gelatin makes it possible for the pie to set up in the refrigerator. Some cooks prefer the addition of pumpkin spice, which combines those spices used in a pumpkin pie, but I find that the addition of the spices individually enhances the taste of cinnamon with each biteful. That first bite of a freshly made pumpkin pie needs to be savored to fully appreciate the different flavors; a pumpkin pie is best when the cinnamon flavor is readily apparent. A recipe for this no-bake pumpkin pie can be found at this link.

Beginning in late September, I begin to have cravings for pumpkin pie. My wife believes that this pie, because of the absence of additional sugars, apart from the sugar in the graham cracker crust and the sweetened condensed milk, qualifies as a vegetable. It even works as a breakfast food, I've discovered. I should probably experiment with the recipe to make it even healthier. It may be possible to eliminate the graham cracker crust, for example. Maybe there is an alternative to sweetened condensed milk, that is, one with less sugar.

The pictures appearing below come from Red Barn Farm, a local farm outside of Weston, Missouri.