Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sticky, Time-Consuming Failure

Here's what I learned today: when making caramel sauce from scratch, don't try and substitute sweetened condensed milk for evaporated milk and 1 1/2 cups of white sugar. It's so not the same!
I woke up a few days ago thinking about caramel apples, especially since yesterday morning was so nippy. Well, today I decided I would give it a shot. But they would not be just any caramel apples. Oh, no. They would be rolled in deliciousness! I'm talking mini M&Ms, a rocky road blend of miniature chocolate chips, crushed graham crackers and marshmallows, and of course a few with chopped nuts. So I started looking up recipes and ideas for my endeavor. I had never made caramel apples before, so I didn't know if you had to get a special kind of caramel or if you could use the sundae kind or what. But I found this one website where a woman made her own caramel out of some very basic holiday baking ingredients, one of them being sweetened condensed milk. Along with white corn syrup, 1/4 cup of butter and a pinch of salt, that was your caramel sauce right there. So I measure out the corn syrup and dump it into my saucepan. But when I went downstairs to find the sweetened condensed milk that I was so sure we had, what did I find but evaporated milk! Evaporated milk! It was even in a can! Well for some reason I was crazy enough to add the evaporated milk to the corn syrup, hoping for the same result if I just heated it a little longer. (When it's in a can, you can hear the evaporated milk slosh around, whereas condensed milk is thick and goopy and doesn't slosh.) But after about a minute of stirring I began thinking, "What's the difference between evaporated and condensed milk anyway?" Google! A quick search had me thoroughly convinced I had ruined the recipe. But when I was seconds away from tossing the whole batch, I wondered if there was a substitute for sweetened condensed milk. Back to Google. As it turns out, you actually can use a 12 oz can of evaporated milk if you boil it with 1 1/2 cups of white sugar and then let it cool before using it. Now, I had already added the evaporated milk to the corn syrup, and I really didn't want to scrap all that ingredients. So I thought, what harm could it do? In went the sugar and I stirred in faithfully for thirty minutes straight. It had gotten the nice caramel color, but it wasn't thick and it still looked kind of grainy from the sugar. Maybe it will change once I add the butter and vanilla, I thought. In went the butter and vanilla. Stir, stir, stir. Taste. To my surprise it tasted great. Success! Rereading the directions, however, I ran across the line... "Stir corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk in a heavy saucepan, stirring constantly... Remove from heat and let cool five minutes... Add butter and vanilla..." Whoops! It was supposed to cool before I added the butter. Oh well. I'll just let it cool a little longer. This is like one of those bad sitcoms where the main character says something offhand and it always leads to disaster, like, "What could possibly go wrong?" So I prepped the apples and the things I was going to roll them in: mini M&Ms, Heath and Toffee chips (since I wasn't ambitious enough to create the rocky road crumble stuff), and chopped almonds. After allowing the caramel to cool a few minutes more, I brought it over and placed it at the front of my caramel apple assembly line. I decided to try out the almonds first. To me, if one of the dips were to fail, this would have been the most likely. I dipped my apple in the caramel and then rolled it in the almonds. Almost immediately the nuts began sliding off, and by the time I got them to the buttered parchment paper, they had all settled to the bottom of the apple in an unattractive clump. Well, they're nuts, and pretty chunky, was my thought. Maybe it's just too heavy for the caramel. It actually made sense since the caramel was going on pretty thin, despite my best efforts. I continued with the M&Ms and the Heath chips, and while those were a little more promising, before long they too began sliding off. My apples are now in the refrigerator where they will remain for the next hour and a half, at which time I will see how my toppings have fared. For anyone who has successfully made caramel apples and even tried to do what I did (dredging them in toppings), I salute you. I'll just stick to my cookies and brownies, thank you very much.


By the way, this was the expectation...  
This was the reality... 
Imagine clumps of candy all mangles at the bottom, and that's what I ended up with. Oh well. I guess I'll eat 'em. My mom will probably put on a good face and say they still taste good. God love that woman.

Friday, August 29, 2014

List of Brunette Antagonists and Protagonists

My last couple of posts have been about how people with blonde hair are recently being presented as evil or just mean characters. No longer the symbol of beauty as it was in the time of chivalry and knighthood, blonde characters have recently been pushed to portray evil. This post is a list of brunettes (or black-haired) antagonists and protagonists from books, movies, TV shows, and maybe even a few video games. Enjoy!

Brunette (or Black-Haired) Antagonists:
  1. Katherine Pierce (The CW's The Vampire Diaries). Although in the books she was actually flaxen-haired, Elena Gilbert's freaky vampire twin has little in the way of sympathy. And it's hard to like her, really. One conversation and you immediately think, "Ice Queen." It makes me feel bad for Elijah, Klaus, Damon, and Stephan. What were they thinking?
  2. Damon Salvatore (The CW's The Vampire Diaries). Relax, TVD fans, he'll be in the "Protagonist" section, too. But in the beginning of the series (and the book) he was painted as the bad guy. I think he even enjoys it sometimes. No doubt he certainly looks the part with his black hair, blue eyes, and devil-may-care swagger.
  3. Dean and Sam Winchester (The CW's Supernatural). Let's face it. These guys are their own worst enemies.
  4. Morgana Le Fey (BBC's Merlin). Katie McGrath is absolutely gorgeous as the legendary Morgana, illegitimate sister to equally-legendary Arthur Pendragon. Why is it always the half-siblings who never get any love? Oh, yeah. That's right. Because illegitimate children were frowned upon during that time because Christianity and the Catholic Church were both battling for Europe during the Dark Ages.
  5. Loki (The Avengers). Personally I prefer the God of Mischief to the God of Thunder, but to each his own. I love the smooth exterior Tom Hiddleston grants to Loki, this kind of con artist with ice beneath his skin.
  6. Young Magneto (X-Men: Days of Future Past). Okay, I will be the first to admit that I haven't seen this movie yet, but I know what happens. We forget for a while that the man playing chess in a giant library turns into the same man playing chess in a plastic prison after trying to wipe out New York. We meet Magneto when he is, by our definition, a villain. But when you understand the backstory and work out the story in your mind, that word, "villain," becomes hazy. He may not be on the same side as Professor Xavier, but is he an antagonist? For the sake of argument, let's just say yes. But remember, every villain is a hero in his own mind.
  7. Ian Quinn (ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). This lucrative business man may have the world fooled with his generous donations to charities, but Coulson and his team know the real man behind the mask.
  8. Grant Ward (ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). This was the most shocking plot-twist in the entire series. More shocking than Skye's heritage, more baffling than the improvements made on Coulson's car, affectionately named Lola. And after the bomb is dropped, we started seeing how torn Ward really was about his mission and the emotion he felt for his team. For him, the lines between teammate and traitor were never well-distinguished. We are left wondering if he will ever find himself again, or if Hydra has poisoned his mind to the point of seclusion. Who is Agent Grant Ward? A soldier without a cause? An agent without a director? A man without a mind?
  9. Clove (The Hunger Games). Some people have mentioned there being a romance between Clove and Cato. The Untold Romance of the Hunger Games or something to that effect. Honestly it's hard to keep track of twenty-four tributes from twelve different factions all trying to kill each other. At the end of the chapter all you remember is this person is the one with the sword, this one has a fox-like face, and that one killed Rue.
  10. James Moriarty (BBC's Sherlock). 'Nuff said.
Brunette (or Black-Haired) Protagonists:
  1. Katy Swartz (Lux Series). I really like this character because for one thing she's a bookworm and a blogger (two things I've been regretfully slacking on lately) and she can give as good as she gets. That trait seems to be a requirement when you're in a relationship to Daemon Black.
  2. Daemon Black (Lux Series). Luxen, older brother, sarcastic by nature but with a capacity for extreme sensitivity. Yep, it's easy to see why readers love Daemon so much, albeit he can be absurdly annoying at times.
  3. Dee Black (Lux Series). The only girl in the trio of her family, Dee's vivacious, Alice-Cullen-like personality is lovable and infectious. But I often feel bad for her because everyone treats her like she's going to break in half. A lot of motivations behind some dodgy behavior have been along the lines of, "I did it to protect Dee," or "I couldn't let Dee get involved/hurt," etc. Which, don't get me wrong, is very sweet, but let's face it: no one can protect her forever. Not even her brothers.
  4. Dawson Black (Lux Series). The other male in the Black family triangle. He's spent a disturbing amount of time out of the books, and once he returns, the circumstances surrounding why he was absent become even more disconcerting. However, once I read Shadows, the prequel to the first Lux book, it was easy to love Dawson's easy-going manner and his obvious devotion to his sister, Dee.
  5. Elena Gilbert (The CW's The Vampire Diaries). We are talking about protagonists here, not just heroes or saving graces. Technically she's still the main character in the show. Anyway, she started out as a good girl and has mostly tried to stay that way, but after everything she's been through, no one can blame her characteristically for occasionally going off the deep end. Still, she is TVD's leading lady and we hold out hope that she and her friends don't give in to temptation.
  6. Damon Salvatore (The CW's The Vampire Diaries). As promised, here is the elder Salvatore brother. It's kind of sweet because he does try to be a better person for Elena, and there are times when you really see what all he's had to do to get where he is now, mentally and morally.
  7. Diggle (The CW's Arrow). The coolest bodyguard ever and sidekick to Green Arrow, this former war vet is one of the best characters Arrow has to offer.
  8. Roy Harper (The CW's Arrow). Man, The CW is dominating these lists. At any rate, Arrow/Oliver Queen has taken in this young gang-banger as his protégé after said gang-banger was injected with a serum that amplified his physical abilities, giving him unnatural strength and agility, but also a mind so focused that he sometimes forgets that annihilation is not the means to an end.
  9. Melinda May (ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). Let's not forget that Ming-Na Wen also played the speaking voice of Mulan in Disney's 1998 telling of the legendary female warrior who took her father's place in the army. But in this fun series from the Marvel Universe, we get to see Ming-Na as Agent Melinda May do some serious butt-kicking of her own. It's always a delight to watch beloved characters adapt to a different skin, as is the case for both soldiers.
  10. Jemma Simmons (ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). She may not be Hermione, able to invoke instant paralysis with 0.1 microliters of dendrotoxin, but Simmons is so adorable throwing around words like "aglet," "nanobatteries," and other biochem jargon, that we can't help but love her.
  11. Skye (ABC's Marvel's Agent's of S.H.I.E.L.D.). This witty, dusky computer hacker won over both audiences and Coulson's team with her outside-the-box thinking and resourcefulness.
  12. Rick Grimes (AMC's The Walking Dead).
  13. Glenn Rhee (AMC's The Walking Dead). Okay, so I don't keep up with this series, but Glenn always struck me as pretty cool, so for that he's included in this list.
  14. Rogue (X-Men). Rogue is one of my favorite X-Men. Why? I think her ability is really cool, able to basically borrow another mutant's powers temporarily, albeit to their discomfort.
  15. Gambit (X-Men). This is my other favorite X-Men character. I love Gambit's devil-may-care attitude, his southern charm, and the fact that he fights with a bow staff. Kind of reminds me of my brother.
  16. Logan/Wolverine (X-Men). A man with a most intriguing past, Wolverine has seen a lot of turmoil in his days. Although famously more of an anti-hero (Like Batman), he always has something new to show us, whether it's in sadistic comments, action scenes, or belting out "Bring Him Home" when no one's watching.
  17. Bonnie Bennett (The CW's The Vampire Diaries).
  18. Richard Castle (ABC's Castle). Ah, who can resist Whedon veteran? Nathan Fillion brings light and life to Richard Castle, a mystery novelist who uses one of New York's best detectives as a muse for his books. It's certainly a delight to watch their colorful banter as Castle and Detective Kate Beckett solve homicides, put bad guys behind bars, and try their best to bring closure to the families.
  19. Kate Beckett (ABC's Castle). Smart, intrepid, and relentless, Detective Kate Beckett is the perfect muse for mystery novelist Richard Castle. She is also faithfully one of our favorite characters because of her incredible instincts, her heart, and her ability to hold her own in a predominantly-man's profession.
  20. Kevin Ryan (ABC's Castle). The more sensitive of his partner duo, Detective Ryan is no less good at his job whether he and Esposito are at the precinct or out on the streets.
  21. Javier Esposito (ABC's Castle). I love that Esposito is a war veteran. It just adds so much depth to his character. Although he can sometimes be a bit macho, he and Ryan make an unstoppable pair as they solve homicides alongside Beckett and Castle.
  22. Snow White (ABC's Once Upon A Time). Once Upon A Time remains one of my favorite shows on television! I love how they've taken classic fairytales and their characters and given them a darker twist. Snow White is no exception, and she has proven worthy of the title Princess, Queen, Hero, and Mother throughout this series.
  23. Prince Charming/David (ABC's Once Upon A Time). It's wonderful to see someone as faithful and devoted to his family as David, aka Prince Charming. Those qualities seem to pull him through trial after trial, no matter who the foe.
  24. Killian Jones/Captain Hook (ABC's Once Upon A Time). I think it's safe to say that Hook is a good guy right now. Though he was certainly a shady character in the beginning (he is a pirate, after all), this nomadic rapscallion has won over audiences everywhere.
  25. Regina (ABC's Once Upon A Time). Regina's on-again-off-again status as villain was getting a bit wearisome, but it's nice to see her stick to one side for more than three episodes. And she does make a lovely queen, even when she is ripping people's hearts out. To each his own, I guess.
  26. Ruby/Red (ABC's Once Upon A Time). Another one of my favorite characters, just because it's Red Riding Hood! No longer is she the innocent little girl who got lost in the woods on her way to Granny's. Once Upon A Time has given Ruby a solid, memorable character who resounds with watchers and remains a loyal friend to others.
  27. The Doctor (BBC's Doctor Who). I am referring to Doctors 9, 10 and 11, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith, respectively. I'm not sure about the Doctors before these ones or the ones after them, but they are brown-haired, and they are protagonists.
  28. Sherlock Holmes (BBC's Sherlock). This is my other favorite show. I can't get enough of the British humor and I've always been a fan of Sherlock Holmes, whether it was the books, the animated series, or even the Wishbone adaption. (Remember Wishbone, that adorable dog from Oakdale who imagined himself as main characters from famous literature?) I don't think anyone is suited to play England's smartest detective better than the incredible Benedict Cumberbatch, do you?
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little segment. Tell me what you think. Do you agree with some of these? Disagree? Who would you add to these lists?


Monday, August 18, 2014

List of Blonde Antagonists and Protagonists

Hello again! In my last post, I talked a little bit about how blonde characters these days are portrayed in a negative light, while brunettes seem to have stolen the hero spotlight. I've compiled a short list of blonde antagonists and protagonists from recent movies, TV shows, and books. Yes, books. The things we read are just as influential to our society as the things we see. Some of the TV shows may have been cancelled just because of when I started making the list. Just to be clear, I personally have no bone to pick with blondes. This is just a pattern I noticed a while ago and wanted to expound on it a little more.

Blonde Antagonists:
  1. Taylor (The CW's Star-Crossed). Though as I understand it she became involved with one of the other less-evil characters on the show, she was first portrayed as a mean girl, and therefore fits my criteria.
  2. Ash (Lux series). Again, Ash falls into the category of mean girl. While she may be loyal to her species and to Daemon Black, she does not try to hide her disdain for those she and her brothers consider inferior, such as Katy Swartz. Her attitude probably also stems from jealousy, as Ash and Daemon have been on-again-off-again for years, expected to end up together eventually until a girl known as Katy Swartz enters the scene and changes the playing field for everyone.
  3. Nancy (Lux series). Unlike the other two characters, no one really feels bad for Nancy. Whatever mishaps occur to her, it always feels like she deserves them.
  4. Thranduil (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug). In this respect I am referring to the movie since I haven't read the book yet. Trust me, it's on my To-Do list. I wrote a character one time in one of my first creative writing stories that reminds me a lot of Thranduil. Funny enough, he, too, was an elf king. Thranduil's anger is understandable, though, as he has been greatly insulted by Thorin and his family on more than one occasion. Since elves have such lengthy life-spans, he cannot possibly be impressed upon to forgive and forget the bruises of the past. To him, it may not seem so long ago. It could feel like a minute or a blink.
  5. Rebekah Mikaelson (The CW's The Vampire Diaries). Some of you may not agree with me on this one, but please note that I said The Vampire Diaries and did not include The Originals. In the former, Original Vampire Rebekah Mikaelson does rub you the wrong way most of the time. Her motives are difficult to divulge until you start keeping up with the show's spin-off, The Originals, where you realize just how much Rebekah sacrifices for the sake of her family. Don't worry, she'll be in the "Protagonist" section, too.
  6. Mikael (The CW's The Originals). You could probably argue that Sebastian Roche is a ginger or even a light browner, but for right now he's blond. And he's pretty much the worst of the Original vamps no matter which way you look at it.
  7. Dalia Royce (ABC's Suburgatory). Another mean girl. I'm beginning to think my exposure to any sort of television (YouTube clips or otherwise) needs expanding.
  8. Cato (The Hunger Games). Call him cocky, cruel, a tortured soul or a pawn. He could have been bald and he still would have been messed up.
  9. Glimmer (The Hunger Games).
  10. The Seeker (The Host). Another movie reference since in the book by Stephenie Meyer she had black hair. The black hair in the book certainly lent to showing the character's darker, hidden turmoil and overall unpleasantness, but as Diane Kruger is flaxen-haired, she makes the list for blonde foes.
  11. Malekith (Thor: The Dark World). I'm not even sure if I should include this one since he's practically albino, but here he is, the disappointing, shrivel-under-my-stare villain who was weak in terms of feeling dangerous during the movie. Sorry, Marvel, but there you go.
  12. Pan (ABC's Once Upon A Time). How many times did I want to punch that smug half-smile right off this guy's face? He made an excellent villain and it is easy to see where his son got his street-wisdom from.
  13. Cercei Lannister (HBO's Game of Thrones). I almost wrote The Hunger Games in the parenthesis again. Maybe because Cercei's unrelenting lust to come out on top would have gotten her through Suzanne Collins' dystopian gladiator scenario.
  14. Most other Lannisters (HBO's Game of Thrones). Tyrion aside, and all right, I'll give Jaime some leeway. Otherwise, you really shouldn't depend on a Lannister to watch your back unless you want a sword stuck through it.
All right, moving on.

Blonde Protagonists:
  1. Felicity Smoak (The CW's Arrow). Yeah, everybody loves Felicity. She's that person you would want on speed-dial, firstly because she can always make you smile, and secondly because no matter what scrape you find yourself in, this witty IT girl can probably get you out of it. If not... well, she does work with Green Arrow.
  2. Rebekah Mikaelson (The CW's The Originals). As I said in slot number five in the above list, you don't get to really, truly liking Rebekah's character until you watch The Originals. Then she becomes someone you can route for... most of the time.
  3. Caroline Forbes (The CW's The Vampire Diaries). Arguable since Caroline and all of her friends have done things to earn them spots on the naughty board. But she is constantly trying to keep people on the straight and narrow, despite falling or jumping off the path a few times herself.
  4. Fili (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey). What's not to love about Fili. He holds a tremendous weight with being Thorin's eldest nephew and heir. But even while he looks at Thorin as a father figure, he will not abandon his brother. Not for anything.
  5. Thor (Thor). Going just by the movies as reference points, it's amazing to see how much Thor has matured since the first film, all the way to Thor: The Dark World. I wonder what kind of ruler he would make after all of his experience. Would he be the sit and delegate type or would he itch for battlefields like New York and New Mexico?
  6. Steve Rogers aka "Captain America" (Captain America: The First Avenger). 'Nuff said.
  7. Penelope Garcia (CBS' Criminal Minds). Queen of the computer world, FBI analyst, and hacker extraordinaire, it's easy to love Garcia for her peppy outlook, unflinching dedication, and outlandish greetings.
  8. Emma Swan (Once Upon A Time). The Savior to Storybrooke. Biological mother to Henry II, who happens to be the truest believer. Descendent of Snow White and Prince Charming. Step-granddaughter to Regina (commonly known as the Evil Queen). Quasi-daughter-in-law to Rumpelstiltskin. And so, so much more.
  9. Robin Hood (Once Upon A Time). The legendary archer knows a thing or two about loss, and he will protect his young son against anyone who dares lay a hand on him. 
  10. Brienne of Tarth (Game of Thrones). From what I've seen, Brienne is a valuable ally not just for her physical strength and skill, but for her loyalty and discernment.
  11. Leo Fitz (Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). Fitz is probably my favorite character on the show, and I sincerely hope he doesn't die in the next season or have some kind of life-altering brain damage that will cause him to rage against his team or change his lovable personality.
  12. Peeta Mallark (The Hunger Games). Aside from almost strangling Katniss after having his memories altered to make her look like the antichrist, Peeta's an all-around good guy. You do feel bad for him, though, because I think he did have to kill someone in the first Hunger Games, and although his perspective is never explored, you know he was changed by it every bit as much as Katniss was.
  13. Rudy Steiner (The Book Thief). He will always be the boy with hair the color of lemons.
  14. Liesel Meminger (The Book Thief). The girl who Death met three times.

Blondes These Days

Riddle me this, my pretties: Why are blondes portrayed negatively in entertainment these days? Specifically blonde females. It used to be that everywhere you turned, blonde was the new pink. Everyone wanted to be blonde, probably because of the hugely popular Barbie, with her perfect tan, Marilyn Monroe figure, and silky sand-colored tresses. I remember in old illustrations, princesses like Rapunzel, Aurora, and even the Little Mermaid (Hans Christian Andersen edition) were all golden-haired. Cinderella, Thumbelina, heck, even Lady Sif was known for her long, flowing blonde locks. But recently I have noticed how many brunettes have been coming up to bat, stepping into leading roles. Elena Gilbert, along with a startling percentage of other characters from The Vampire Diaries (although in the books she is blonde); the ladies of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; most of the people from Once Upon A Time; Olivia Pope from Scandal; Stephen Jameson from The Tomorrow People, to name but a few. As a fellow-brunette, I can relate. Brown hair appears to be the most common hair color in the world. Perhaps that is why it was frowned upon for leading roles in earlier decades, because brown hair was associated with being ordinary. And in entertainment, people wanted something or someone extraordinary. However, perhaps it is because of this perceived unremarkability that made the brunette so appealing to audiences: because the hero with brown hair could be anyone in the world, anyone who looked normal but was secretly a spy or rebel for a resistance.
While this is interesting to ponder, I can't help but notice the roles our beloved blonde friends have been forced to personify: the role of the villain. Even if it is not to such an extreme -maybe they are just the "mean kid" in school or the annoying person in the workplace- blondes have gotten a reputation for being evil. "Looks like an angel; acts like a demon." That kind of thing. So, I have decided to compile a list of a few blonde antagonists and protagonists while will be found in my next blog post. Following that will be an identical set-up for brunette antagonists and protagonists. Bear in mind, the list will include characters from books, movies, TV, and maybe even a few video games.
Stay tuned!


Celebrity Look-Alikes: Emma Rigby VS Dove Cameron

Welcome back! Here we are again, examining two stunning actresses who share similar physical traits. I noticed the similarities while watching clips of The Mentalist on YouTube (because evidently I never watch real TV anymore), during the episode "Devil's Cherry" in season 5, episode 2, I think. The actress playing Patrick Jane's daughter bore a startling resemblance to Anastasia/The Red Queen from Once Upon A Time in Wonderland. At first I wondered if they were the same girl, but as you can see, they are, in fact, two separate people.
(Picture of Dove Cameron from

(Picture of Emma Rigby from

You wouldn't believe how frightfully difficult it is to find photos of these two making the same face. Most of Miss Cameron's photos sport similar sweet-as-candy smiles while Miss Rigby has mastered the art of the Pout and the Intense Stare. I say these with no malice whatsoever, but it was a chore finding a balance between the two actresses pictures. However, the blonde hair, blue eyes, and possibly even the complexion speak for themselves.
What do you think? Agree or disagree? Can you think of any other celebrity look-alikes, or better matches than what I've found?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Comfort and Peace

I can't say if we were friends. Coworkers, definitely. Friendly in the most platonic way. Maybe acquaintances is a better term. He was always nice, telling everyone they were doing a good job. In certain environments, that kind of thing is a rare gem. He was the first to volunteer to help, constantly working, and knew how to make you laugh.
I found out today that a man who used to work with me OD-ed. He didn't make it.
They tell us not to get attached to these guys, and I wonder if this is why. The place where I work is a sort of annex to an ARC (Adult Rehabilitation Center). It's like a department store. Beneficiaries (guys in the ARC's program) all have what is called work therapy. They each hold a job involving the store, whether it is working there or making deliveries on the store's behalf. Work therapy teaches them responsibility, so that when they get back to the Big Bad World, they have some basic experience in a work environment and can be depended on.
A lot of beneficiaries come through the store, switched out like batteries until they complete the program or are discharged for breaking the rules (no cell phones, no drinking/drugs, no stealing, to name a few). But this was a good guy. From what I understand, he didn't complete the program, but was clean when he voluntarily left. He had a good job and was doing very well. And then this morning... I heard the news. They tell us not to get attached to these guys, switched out like batteries as they are. Guys come and go in the store so frequently it sometimes doesn't benefit to talk to them. I know how bad that sounds, but with a new face or two every other week, I can barely keep up. But now... will I see their faces, or will I be looking at a count-down? All of these guys cannot be destined to fall off the wagon. They cannot be like hourglasses, sand falling too fast through the funnel until none is left to fall. I cannot bear to think of them that way, not for the sake of one beneficiary. I wonder if he's in Heaven as I type this. I don't know how he was in his spiritual walk, but I can only pray that his path was straight. I hope his family will have comfort and peace, eventually. I hope they will be all right.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

"Piggy" by Karen Malena

I am happy to announce the release of a lovable, family-friendly book from my good friend, Karen Malena ( ). Piggy chronicles the adventures of a curious cat named Piggy and his friend, Melvin the Mouse. Join them as they get themselves in and out of mischief, from an unfortunate stunt with a claw machine to the sights and smells of moving day. It's an absolute delight and is appropriate for all ages.

"Piggy" is published through Tuxedo & Beans Publishing, LLC.
Karen Malena is also the author of Shadow of My Father's Secret and Reflections from My Mother's Kitchen: A Journey of Hope and Healing. Find them both on!