The Story Circle Network Conference and My Commitment: This Is What I Know


ad_scnconfWhen I first started blogging more than two years ago, I committed to blogging once a week.  That I managed for a year or so and then since that time, it became more sporadic.  Full time job, writing poems for my book, visitors, mini vacations, all sorts of stuff got in the way.  Really, I let it lapse, but refused to give up.  Last Thursday, I drove to Austin with my daughter and grandson for the biannual Story Circle Network Conference.  The plan:  while I conferred, they played.  The Story Circle Network is an organization for women which encourages women to write, to tell their stories, to share these stories, and when possible and desired, publish those stories in various forms from memoir to poetry.  This was my second time to attend and my first time to attend as a new board member.  A former mentor/teacher of mine, Len Leatherwood, facilitated  a workshop entitled “Transforming Your Writing Life in Just 20 Minutes a Day”, the last workshop I attended.  She blogs everyday.  I follow her blog.  No matter what, she sits down and writes 20 minutes minimum a day separate from the writing she does with her students–she teaches writing privately in southern CA.  One of her recent blogs has been accepted for publication–a piece of flash fiction.  She nearly begged us to commit to this kind of writing practice.  Previously, I had refused, flat out refused, partly thinking that if I tried it, more than half the resulting writing would be crap.  Nevertheless, she and her workshop convinced me that at least for one month I must try this.  Now all of you following my blog will be inundated with daily blog posts.  I am filled with curiosity as to how people will respond.  Maybe it will be like my Facebook posts–yes, I am an almost addict–the posts I consider most meaningful for the universe at large are the ones people ignore and the ones I consider personal trivia receive the most response.  Maybe I will track what appeals to my readers.  Some I won’t know because with blogging I share to Facebook and to a couple of professional networks, I have no clue who read what.  Once I received an email regarding a poem I posted. Although it never showed up as a like, the lady actually told me she read my poem in church!  Who would have guessed. I forgot to time myself so have no idea how long I have been here writing.

Here I am writing about why I am writing.  On the stove I smell Jasmine rice cooking.  I love Jasmine rice from Thailand.  I am a very picky rice eater and prefer to mix equally white Jasmine rice with black and red.  For one thing, it looks lovely when done–a sort of dark reddish purple.  Since I sautéd chopped garlic in olive oil, then added the rice and sautéd for about 15 more seconds, then added water and some broth just before I started writing this, the smell of Jasmine rice fills the house.  I piled a bunch of paper towels on the top before I put on the lid or you can use some cloth towel–a habit I picked up from my Iranian ex-husband.  Iranians really know how to cook rice.  I am also drinking a glass of Cupcake Shiraz which I bought on the way home from work.  And yes, Shiraz is also the name of a city in Iran where they actually grow grapes or at least used to. But of course, drinking wine is no longer acceptable in Iran or at least not publicly.  Good Muslims do not drink at all.

I did write something worthwhile while in this workshop and will share–doing this last because it won’t count as my daily writing since I wrote it yesterday.

 

This Is What I Know

 

My parents loved me, really loved me.

My mom was proud of my accomplishments.

Dad gave me a love of books, intellectual curiosity, and a

sense of wonder.

Mom gave me a love of music, beauty, and cooking.

Happiness is a choice.

I do not believe in luck.  You make your own luck.

Life is an exciting adventure.

Horses give me joy.

Singing gives me joy.

Dancing gives me joy even if I rarely have the opportunity.

Family relationships can be distressingly complicated.

I am proud of my children and their accomplishments.

Religion matters much less to me than 99 per cent of the people I know.

Ethnic and religious prejudice distress me and I do not

understand those kinds of attitudes.

I am a good writer.

I want to make a real difference in the world.

I am happy 99 percent of the time.

Blessings flood my life.

My close friends and children and grandson are more

important to me than they know.

Writing has enriched my life.

I have few regrets:

One I have rectified;

the other I cannot–

my dad is dead.

Teriyaki Salmon with Red Chard and Cassia Cinnamon (for two)


Image

The red chard leaves, chopped.

Image

Just after adding the salmon.

Image

The finished product.

 

2  6 oz. servings of wild salmon

1/2 medium red (purple) onion, chopped

1/2 large poblano pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped

2 large red chard leaves and stems

1/2 to 1 tsp. cassia cinnamon

1/8 cup teriyaki sauce mixed with 1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce

Olive oil

Marinate the salmon in the teriyaki/Worcestershire sauce while you prepare the rest.  Using a sharp knife, destem and devein the red chard.  Coarsely chop the stems and veins.  Chop the leaves into pieces as indicated in the photo above.  Cover the bottom of a medium sized skillet with olive oil.  I love extra virgin olive oil and use a lot of it, but not absolutely necessary.  Saute chopped onions in the olive oil until translucent.  Add the poblano pepper and red stems of the chard.  When the peppers and chard stems are slightly cooked, add the salmon and marinade and sauté for about 2 minutes.  Turn the salmon and place the chard leaves on top.  Scatter the cinnamon on top of the chard leaves.  Saute until the chard leaves are wilted.

Serve with mixed grain rice (khao-pa-som in Thai) which can be found at Asian markets.  It is a mixture of brown, black, and red rice with various grains including what appears to be barley.  I cook it exactly like rice: sauté in olive oil with finely chopped garlic for a minute or so, add water, and stir in 1 tsp. concentrated bouillon. Turn heat to low, cover pan with several layers of paper towels, and put on lid.  This, like red and brown rice, takes about twice as long to cook as white rice.  It is more nutritious than white rice. If you want the health benefits of cinnamon, it is necessary to use cassia cinnamon, not Ceylon cinnamon.

Easy Thai Shrimp for Two


1/2 purple onion, chopped

1-2 red Mexican peppers, deseeded and cut crosswise into circles

1 large poblano pepper, deseeded and coarsely chopped

5 baby portabello mushrooms, sliced

20 medium cooked shirmp

garlic (optional), coarsely chopped

Olive oil

Thai sweet chili sauce

Pour enough olive oil in a skillet to cover the bottom.  Saute the onions and garlic until translucent.  Add mushrooms and sauté.  Add the shrimp and peppers.  Saute until peppers are cooked, but do not overcook.  Add sufficient Thai sweet chili sauce to make a thick sauce.  Serve over rice.  I combine red and Jasmine rice.  You may also use other types of peppers.  However, the dish is prettier if you combine the green of the poblanos with some type of red peppers.

The last time I made this for my Thai exchange student, I planned to take a good photo but somehow we became too distracted and had eaten most of our dinner before I remembered that I had not taken a photo so here it is fork and all.