Power to the Inspiration-Challenged

February Blaaaaaaahs. So a writer-friend suggested that we attend  Zumba classes. Good exercise. Blood to the brain. Juice up the vertebrae. It’ll help our creative whats-its.

We chose the “Basic” level of classes to attend.

If only this were REAL money on these things!!

If only this were REAL money on these things!!

The level of expertise didn’t really matter to me because I usually make my own rules at events like these. It’s kind of like going to a pot luck and being assigned a “Food Category” because my last name begins with F.  You gotta be kidding…I’m supposed to bring a baked chicken?  Surprise…that chicken is going to look a lot like a can of olives (or maybe a pizza if they’ll deliver).  I say, “Power to the Potluck downtrodden. Bring whatever you want.” That’s why there’s an element of LUCK in these feasts.  You hope you don’t get something undercooked, overdone, or experimental.

So…back at Zumba Camp, the instructor was as chipper and upbeat as you’d expect anyone to be who exercises daily.  She brought these nifty…uh…rear wraps.  We were supposed to jiggle violently enough to make them sound like pennies being poured into a coffee can.  I must be deaf because I never head any of them AT ALL except the gal who took hers off, whirling it over her head. I’m guessing “STRIPPER” was listed somewhere in the early years of her resume.

I have to say, it’s great exercise, but it reminds me of the forced square-dancing we had to do in grade school gym classes.  Someone was telling us where to step, and on the stanzas I had to “swing your partner” with Louis A. who thought it was hilarious to whip his victims around tornado-style and let go. Maybe that’s why, in Zumba, I didn’t listen very well, but was polite enough to keep my imaginative steps in the back row, where I wandered around like a cow looking for the gate.

Bear with me…I’m getting to the point.

Since the publication of the first Two Pan book, people keep sending me photos of cows. You can see the book cover here if you want to see why.  Cows. Lots of cows.  Who knew cows were so funny?  Cows are the new kittens…well, maybe not.

So I received this YouTube video of this Cow’s moves, and I’m inspired to add a few more steps to my Zumba routine. I’m posting it because I hope it reminds you…like it reminds me… that no matter the job, do it with excitement and joy.  “Power to the Zumba downtrodden. Move over old Stripper, we’re making up our own moves.”

Note:  When you watch the video. Notice how people are going by without even looking. See….obviously this proves the old adage: Dance as though no one is watching.

That’s pretty inspiring.

Look for the snout wiggle at 14 seconds.


Posted in A Laugh, Change, Choices, Humor, Life, Smiles, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 46 Comments

Making Deer Nuts and Big Money Bucks

Get away from garden , you're a wanted stud.

Get away from garden , you’re a wanted stud.

Recently a TALL  honkin’ fence went up around my neighbor’s land.

High. Ugly.

The kids, cats, and dogs sometimes cut across this guy’s fields, but this seemed like inhospitable overkill.

The newspaper woman inside of me elbowed my curiosity until I interviewed Mr. Neighbor to find out what atrocity pushed him to erect a Berlin wall.  Too much dog crap?  Kids setting off fireworks in his pasture?

Nope it was the deer. It makes me think of the old joke: What’s the difference between beer nuts and deer nuts?  Beer nuts are $1.90, but deer nuts are under a buck. (snort.)

My neighbor loves his deer. He’s trying to keep them INSIDE his acres, not out.

It seems that it all started about a year ago when he let someone hunt on his farm. They killed a big buck with 10 point antlers.  A trophy deer.

As you may already know, Each season a buck sheds its antlers and grows a new set. It seems size really does matter in the deer world, and it mostly depends on  DNA and the available food supply.

For years now, farmers have been leasing their land to hunters, allowing them exclusive hunting privileges for a fee. For some small farmers, the leasing fees pay as much as the crops they grow. Hunters put out feeding boxes or plant special crops to ensure plenty of protein to make antlers … but what about DNA?

Well… It turns out there’s a big market in deer semen and artificial insemination in order to grow gi-normous-honkin’-big deer  with more spikes than a road strip.

So Mr. Neighbor was prepared when the 10-point buck was bagged on his land. The deer’s testicles were cut off and carefully cooled. Within hours those cajones were at an artificial insemination storage facility where experts collected the semen.

Since the 1950s, semen from prize-animals (horses and cows) has been frozen, preserved, and sold. The semen is contained in units called “straws.”   One deer (buck) will produce enough semen for about 125 straws.  Each straw is worth $300-$3,000.  (Rates vary depending on antler size and body frame.)

Yeah, yeah, the rest of the deer is eaten, but that’s not why Mr. Neighbor is ” locking down” his property.

Why you ask? What’s so special about his deer’s studly parts?

Because, it seems hunters want “trophy deer.” And the best way to get a big-rack buck is to inseminate the local does with super-stud DNA. Only about 20% of procedures work.  Stress makes them reject the semen. (Well, yeah-duh.)

So, Mr. Neighbor is breeding deer for their chromosomes. A big, pointy-antlered deer-semen farm.  It’s kind of like how we used to raise cattle on a ranch, but we never got that much money for any part of beef.

We just ate the edible parts—even the tail.

Why go to all this deer trouble? So hunting resorts/lodges/farms can guarantee not only a trophy kill, but a great time.  Price tag for guests: Up to $38,000 for a hunt.

Taxidermist-CraigJW used a creepy jawset. Actually, I think this is the kind of deer raiding my garden.

Taxidermist-CraigJW used a creepy jawset. Actually, I think this is the kind of deer raiding my garden.

All I can say is that some people have too much money.

If you’ve read many of my posts, you know I don’t like deer, but … this demand for deer nuts?

It’s almost enough to make me feel sorry for them.

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The Mild, Mild West and Marijuana


There have been two changes since the last long-time post.

Before I tell you what’s different, I’d better explain a little bit, so you don’t click the delete button, thinking you’re reading about a different Universe.

Change 1:

Now keep in mind, most of Oregon’s population lives on the west side of the state. The side that’s only an hour away from sandy beaches or snow-capped mountains, depending on which direction you drive.

The rest of Oregon … well, we call it the “dry side.” About the only way they get rain is in a prayed-up frenzy.


We don’t need no sanitation. The alcohol will kill germs AND remove road tar.

But truth be told, with so few people navigating the gut-jiggling roads, the dry side used to be a great place to cook up 100-proof hooch.

Back in the day, if you needed to make a phone call, you went to your nearest moonshiner. The “shiners” were the only ones who could afford a phone. It was a business expense. With only one way through the pass, revenuers would  travel through the first town, and phones would ring down the train line. Smoke stacks on stills came down (the tell tale sign). And the government men were left staring at ranches, cattle, and tight-lipped folks.

Fast forward a hundred years to Oregon’s recently-passed marijuana bill. It’ll soon be legal to grow 4 plants and stockpile 8 oz. (A pound is worth ~$1600. Better than beef prices, huh!). But I don’t think personal possession is the main reason the bill passed.

Turns out revenues of the green stuff are expected to top 100 million bucks a year.

Now, I’m not a partaker of anything that slows down my remaining 3 brain cells. Me with toe tag(I still roll call through cats and kids before I can get my husband’s name to come out in a sentence. My conscious mind doesn’t need any more fog.

But hokey smokes…I rubbed my hands together and thought, Here’s an opportunity to make some big moola. So my first question was…

Will the deer and squirrels get high when they eat my cash crop? Because those *&!%#! creatures chew on everything in my garden that my neighbor’s wandering hound hasn’t wet down.

Unfortunately, according to the Master Gardner at the farmer’s market…well, who else was I going to ask? According to him, marijuana doesn’t kill deer (the cursed tomato-hogging creatures), nor does it get them stoned. Probably all it does is give them the munchies for my roses.

It also turns out that to be a commercial grower, I need a license which costs $1,000 with a $250 application fee. (Additional licenses are needed for processing, distributing, and retailing).

Local horticulturists are now rushing to secure warehouse spaces in the metro areas (grow indoors, free of deer, bugs and eternal cloudiness). And the clever folks on the southern tail of the state (near California) are buying up land and branding their hemp crops as “sunshine” produced. For the laid-back American West…things are picking up.

All this and none of it will be available for sale until 2016.

But the west side of the state is gearing up. Getting ready!! I’ll keep you posted…

…..Everything’s changing

….except back on the east side of the state.

Unfortunately, none of this will help the dry side of Oregon. It’s still dry. Even the moonshiners are gone now.

The train cars are still there, but only an occasional locomotive chugs through to pick up a few box cars parked on the tracks.

Everything has its day, then passes.

This latest excitement with bongs and branding shall pass, too. But I bet a hundred years from now those deer will still be eating my roses and folks in eastern Oregon will still be looking for rain.

 Change 2:

What else is different? The first book in the Two Pan Trilogy is out.

It’s about the dry side of the state where it’s still wild.  But changes of another sort are

Change is Coming by Jacki Potorke

rolling toward them.

You can Check it out here if you’d like.

I hope you enjoy what’s left of the West.

NEXT MONTH:  What’s the big deal with DEER NUTS?

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Tongue Spam: Eating Everything But the Moo!

While doing research , I ran across an old black and white magazine ad for SPAM.  In the Hormel line-up was Tongue Spam. Unfortunately, I can’t find the ad again in the internet maze, but it brought back a shadowy part of my childhood.


Don’t eat My Moo!

Now I’m not really that old. The problem was, we were dirt poor. As a matter of fact, about all we had was dirt. So, I grew up living 20 years behind the rest of the world’s modern conveniences.

“Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do.”

This wasn’t even a slogan for us. It was a lifestyle. We….

  • Saved bits and doodles of soap, and then melted it to make a soap bar. (As well as making our own lye soap)
  • I thought we were strutting with the elite when we got a wringer washing machine. I was petrified that the masher would take my little fingers off.
  • We grew or raised most of our food. Not because we were hippies, health-nuts, or part of a commune. All the old folks in the family had been kicked around by the dustbowl and the depression. They believed calamity could be hiding around every corner.
  • But the most interesting was eating animal parts that none of my classmates had ever seen in a grocery store.

 Grandma loved to tell us grandchildren, “I can use every part of

From the Historic C&GS Collection Location: Stratford, Texas

the cow, but the moo.”

Up until the age of six, I thought this was cool. Fortunately, my investigative powers of sass kicked in when I was about seven, and while getting a cooking lesson on some repellent food such as headcheese or sweetbreads, I asked her:

“Whaddya do with the eyeballs, Gramma?”

“Oh, heavens. I don’t use eyeballs. Just poor people have to use the eyeballs.” ( I was thrilled to discover we’d surpassed this benchmark of poverty.)

“Whaddya do with the hooves, Gramma?”

“Give ‘em to the dogs.” (Yes, those cow hooves and knuckles strewn around the yard make wonderful lawn ornaments.)

“Will the dogs eat tongue too? Please?”



“Heavens, no, child. This is good eating.”

Then she’d throw it in the pressure cooker and steam it for thirty minutes. The weight on top of the cooker, rattled like it was building up to blast to the moon, and she was lecturing about the dangers of how it could blow like TNT in the hands of the unskilled cook.

For me, tongue is a fearful food. You can’t disguise it. No matter how much mustard you put on it. Or ketchup. It represents “hard times.”

I suppose if we had meat rationing today, I’d be pretty hungry. I’m not sure which I’m more afraid of…the tongue or the cooker. Sorry, for all the sass, Gramma, but thanks for teaching me there are times in life when you have to make do with the Moo.

Posted in Appreciation, Choices, Cooking, Enough, Hope, Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Women, Booze and the Homefront: 1943


Women are encouraged to use beer to get the best kind of friendships

“More of your women characters should drink,” a friend told me as we were discussing the World War II research I’ve done for my next book. “After all…those harried women were keeping up the homefront, raising a pack of kids and waiting for their men to return—if they made it. Surely those gals were drinking?”

Well…that stumped me. For the past 6 months I’ve done research

  • Interviewing a”Rosie the Riveter”(yes, a few are still alive).
  • Reading over 200 “Rosie” memoirs
  • Reading 5 non-fiction books on women at war and on the homefront
  • Interviews with 27 people who lived through the times.

There have been only a couple of references to”party girls” (Young women who got jobs then boozed and danced away their newly earned riches. Most of the women talked about the challenges, the confidence they gained, and how tired they were.

Maybe the boozy party girls didn’t leave diaries or documentaries to later be found by their families? Perhaps they don’t remember what they were drinking (What happens at the USO Club, stays at the USO Club.)

Is it possible that  only the sober, hard-working gals have left testimonies to the times?

Advertising archives have few clues. There are hardly any alcohol ads targeting women.  Cigarettes?…Sure, lot’s of encouragement to smoke.

Women are encouraged to use beer to manipulate hubby

“First the Schlitz. Then the Hat.!”
Women are encouraged to get their new wardrobe by plying their guy with beer.

So…Do you know?

I’m wondering…does anyone have a Granny or Aunt who remembers what women were drinking during the WWII?

And just for fun…

I included an ad from my favorite local wine campaign:
Mad House Wife Wines from the state of Washington.

Advertising toward women has changed a bit, hasn’t it?

Wine_Mad Housewife

Posted in A Laugh, Change, Humor, Life, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 45 Comments

Septic Tanks for Dogs and Other Things I Didn’t Know I Should Be Grateful For

Maybe it’s because ol’ Fido is now guarding the golden gates.  That’s the excuse I’m using for not knowing about Doggie Septic tanks. This handy dandy Do-It-Yourself project allows you to bury a vat in a corner of your yard. Add a few chemicals like Rid-X and each time you pick up Lassie’s doo,  toss it in. There are even nice-looking lidded models to buy if all your projects tend to look like you were drunk while doing them. Why didn’t I know about this when ol’ Shep (or whatever the dog’s name was) hung around? I would’ve been thankful for the convenience, and our neighbor would’ve been  thankful I wasn’t tossing those “dog logs” over the fence anymore.

What it looks like when our planet sunbathes

Now that I know about this planetary phenomena, I breathe a prayer of thanks for earth’s Magnetic Field.  It’s the reason we’re not wearing sunblock SPF  2,537, and this place doesn’t look like a Terminator movie set. This nifty bit of creation constantly deflects the solar wind which spews from the sun like Hurricane FlashFry. Read about the little song the earth makes as it works.  And when you have a bad day, you can remind yourself to be thankful…at least the ol’ magnetic field is one thing that went right today.

Libraries. I forget to be thankful for them. But as brick and Librarymortar bookstores disappear, this is the last bastion of hard-backed word containers. And bless Mrs. Morgan, the librarian in my little hometown Carnegie Library. She was older than river rocks, and yet fought like Churchill to defeat any challenge to get a book banned.  Thanks to librarians everywhere who kept copies of the banned books: (a few are)

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, 1884
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X and Alex Haley, 1965 (Grove Press)
  • The Call of the Wild, Jack London, 1903
  • A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams, 1947
  • The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane, 1895
  • Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, Alfred C. Kinsey, 1948 (Thanks Mrs. Morgan!!!)
  • James and the Giant Peach, Ronald Dahl ,1961 (Frequently challenged. Most recently 1991)

I’m thankful for People who have a “Martha Stewart” gene. I don’t. So many of my good-intentioned projects go awry.  I panic and mentally think of Costco whenever I need to take a dish to an event. I am thankful there are other folks who will foo-foo up the Thanksgiving table and make food which doesn’t look like something that should be put in the Septic Tank for Dogs.

I’m glad to provide a this great public service of being a klutzy cook. For example, this isn’t a picture of my Apple Treats.  Mine turned out more horrific. Not even the crows would eat them.


So no matter what kind of failure you have on a meal, rest assured, it’ll never look worse than something I cooked up. I’ll make you feel good about your cooking.

And that’s something YOU probably didn’t know to be thankful for.
May all you November days be thankful ones.

NOTE: I only post once a month now, but drop back by this month and check my progress on National Write a Novel Month for November.(Top of Widget). I could use a few pushes and an elbow to the ribs everynow and then. I’d appreciate it.

Posted in A Laugh, Appreciation, Cooking, Hope, Humor, Literature, Smiles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

How to Survive Your Husband’s Retirement

Okay…feel free to use the subject of this post to explain my long blog absence.

AND…Through hair-pulling trial and error, I’ve eked out a few helpful tidbits for others navigating this road.

The following tips may help you muddle through your own: “Whatcha doin’ now?” phase of life. Of course, use with discretion. Your mileage may vary.

1)    Survive the  GOD-AWFUL TO-DO LIST

Everyone will tell you that a daily list helps a retiree adrift in the sea of free time to find purpose. But those cursed advice columns don’t tell you how to negotiate whose GOTTA-DO list will be used.
My list                                                                                                                  His list

I've been working on this list for about 25 years

I’ve been working on this list for about 25 years

He's been working on this list for about 30 years

He’s been working on this list for about 30 years

Solution: Always start your fix-it request with a question AND a solution you can live with.

Poor: Would you prefer to fix the kitchen table or eat over the sink for the rest or your retirement?

Better: Honey, I need to use the magazines from 1977 that are propping up the kitchen table. Would you fix the leg now?

Best: Could you fix the kitchen table leg by next week? Oh…never mind, I’ll just go to the furniture store and get a new one.

2)    Retirement and SELECTIVE HEARING

You’ve probably been dealing with this for years. Bellowed requests must be repeated several times.


But with retirement, you’re unsure if your retiree is ignoring you, or just pushing your buttons.

Solution: Tired of repeating yourself?  Use the gibberish method.

First: Speak in gibberish.

Me-TrashNow they’ll listen…just to make sure they’re not going deaf.

Now that you have his attention…deliver your message.



Yes, I know your gut is demanding that you to clean out the trappings of your early life, but BEWARE:  Your retiree might be your best shopper.

Me-Garage sale_edited-1Mr. Dallas Cowboy Fan: “Hey! I don’t want to sell that stuff.”

ME: What are you going to do with it? You haven’t used any of this in years.

Mr. Dallas Cowboy Fan: “Just put it in a box. I might want it someday.”

ME: Okay. I’ll put it away in a box.  (Which happens to be going to a local charity.)

And Two Years Later…..

Mr. Dallas Cowboy Fan (watching TV): “Hey, didn’t I have a beer stein…or did we sell it in that garage sale?”

Use Tip # 2.


And life continues to change…..

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