Saturday, August 28, 2010

Big Billy's Special Brew Barbecue Sauce - a weekend recipe

Big Billy liked to cook outside on his barbecue grill. Here is the recipe for his special barbecue sauce, a little spicy and just a little sweet. Great for both beef and chicken.


Ingredients

• 1/2 cup cane syrup

• 3/4 cup mustard

• 1/2 cup chili sauce

• 1 teaspoon Angostura bitters

• 1/2 cup onion, minced

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1/4 teaspoon pepper

• 1/2 cup beer - Big Billy preferred Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. Simmer seven minutes, stirring occasionally.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Eric's New Cat

This month, I found myself without a cat for the first time in more than thirty years. Well, almost. Rouge, my beautiful Maine Coon that Anne bought before she died turned up missing. I searched the neighborhood but couldn’t find her. She was always a stay-at-home cat so I suspect the worst. She was getting up in age and our weather here in central Oklahoma the hottest I can ever remember.

That left me with the beautiful white cat named Fang. Problem is, Fang belongs to a neighbor down the street that commutes to Pennsylvania. He was missing his cat and finally took it to Pennsylvania with him

We have a doggy door that leads into our garage with boxes stacked high from many moves. Rouge and Fang stayed there during last winter. One of our coldest in decades. Go figure! A young feral tom cat stayed with them. I would see him occasionally and I called him Goldie.

After Rouge went missing and Fang moved to Pennsylvania, I continued putting cat food out every night. Last night, I saw Goldie when I returned from my walk but he wouldn’t let me pet him. Tonight, I had drinks at Louie’s with friends Terry and Jerry. They always come by the house afterwards to visit with Marilyn. It was dark, after nine, when they left.

After feeding Patch, I saw Goldie, standing by the feeding bowl, looking at me as if to ask, “Where’s my food?”

He didn’t have long to wait. I quickly fetched him a meal fit for the king he is. When I checked on him minutes later, he was standing near the front porch. When I went out and sat down, he joined me, demanding that I stroke his back and tail, and rub behind his ears. I was happy to comply. I gave him a few cat treats but he seemed more interested in human affection, something I continued to bestow on him for a half-hour or more.

While we sat there, a young fox came up to the unfinished cat food, not even realizing I was only ten feet or so away. When he finally saw me looking at him, he ran off until later. Goldie wasn’t even disturbed by his presence.

I know there are cat lovers and cat haters. I understand the former and can’t conceive of the latter because I haven’t been the same these past few weeks without a kitty. Strangely, I had planned to visit the pound this weekend and bring home a new cat. Maybe I still will, but first I intend to see how my new kitty adapts to being Top Cat. Hey, I’ll try and get some pictures to post tomorrow night.

Eric'sWeb

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mystical Night for Spirits

It finally rained today, bringing an end to triple digit temperatures that have plagued central Oklahoma for the better part of a month. Dark clouds graced the sky as I set out on my evening walk. Even though the temperature was only eighty, humidity made it feel hotter. A slight breeze began blowing, making me hope the dog days of summer are finally over.

A year has passed since I saw the neighborhood ghosts that live in the creek bed near my house. I’ve looked for them many times this past year but I haven’t seen, or experienced anything out of the ordinary. Tonight, I saw something unusual.

Hazy darkness had almost encompassed me as I walked down the hill toward the ghost creek. With the weather cooler for a change, fireflies were flickering in the darkness where the creek crosses the road. I thought I saw something flicker that wasn’t a firefly.

The bright spot that seemed to be moving ever so slightly was gone when I reached the base of the hill. A white mailbox marked the spot where I saw a transparent being walking toward me. It was dark and hazy and I don’t have the best eyesight even in the best of conditions. Still, it could have been one of the two ghosts I saw last year.

A big brindle cat was walking down the middle of the road when I rounded the corner. I stopped to pet him and he let me, even though it was dark and I a stranger. Maybe he had also just seen the ghost and relished a comforting human touch at that moment. I don’t know, but a hazy moon appeared through the clouds as I started up the hill to my house, suddenly sensing it was a mystical night for spirits, and that maybe my eyes hadn’t deceived me.

Eric'sWeb

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cowboy Sleuth Returns in Oklahoma Mystery

My first novel, Ghost of a Chance was published in 2005 and introduced cowboy private investigator Buck McDivit. Buck is finally back in his first full-length novel in five years.This modern-day western takes place in central Oklahoma when a wealthy rancher hires him to investigate a murder, cattle and oil theft and a pagan compound populated only by women. He must also contend with a shape-shifting black panther, a giant wolf dog and a beautiful woman with a rattlesnake tattoo.

Morning Mist of Blood is presently available only as an ebook. Yes, I prefer the heft of a hardback you can take to bed with you and read late into the night by lamp light. Still, the ebook generation is here and now, Amazon reporting that it made more money selling ebooks last quarter than it did paper versions. Morning Mist of Blood is available for the Kindle, Nook, Sony, Apple and most other ebook readers, including PDF which you can read on your computer. Best of all, you can download half the book for free to see if you like it before you ever spend a penny.

Morning Mist of Blood debuted today at Smashwords.com but will soon be available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, KoboBooks, Diesel Ebooks, Sony and Apple. If you get a chance, please check it out at the Morning Mist of Blood page on Smashwords. Hey, and thanks for reading my blog.

Eric'sWeb

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hand in the Dark

We don’t always remember our dreams, but sometimes, awakened during the middle of one, we do. I recently dreamed I was lying on my stomach in what was likely my parent’s house. The bed was small, a single. It could have been the old house, but the bed was positioned in a way, and in a room I didn’t remember. As I lay there, I heard someone come in the door. Someone with a dog.


The dog was a border collie, strangely similar to the one in my new book. It bounded into the darkened room, scurried to the front of my bed and licked my face. The warm tongue awakened me, at least in my dream, and I became aware of footsteps approaching the back of my bed. Footsteps halted beside the bed and a hand groped between my legs.

Really awakened this time, I swung my arm, hitting the lamp hanging from a ceiling cord beside my bed. I opened my eyes to see the flash of a human-like form pass through the window and disappear into darkness. Wide awake, I glanced around the room as the lamp swung like a pendulum.

I’ve always contended that ghosts and spirits abound, not just in my house but everywhere. The touch seemed like a trick my brother might have played on me when we were younger. Brother Jack is not a spirit, and I doubt I will ever know for sure who, or what, it was that awakened me from my dream. I only know I was awake, wide awake, when I saw the shadow figure fly out the window.

Eric'sWeb

Saturday, August 14, 2010

King of Vivian

My mother had three sisters, Wardie, Marguerite and Dot, and a brother, Grady, and they would all usually congregate at my grandparent’s house for Thanksgiving. I loved it, playing outside with all my cousins and inhaling the wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen.


No one loved it more than my grandfather, the head of the family we all knew as Grandpa Pitt. On Thanksgiving Day, he held court, his arms folded and a smile on his face as all his children and grandchildren paid homage to him. On Thanksgiving Day, he was truly “King of Vivian.”

It was never really cold in northwest Louisiana. Still, by Thanksgiving Day tree leaves had all turned red and gold and there was usually a nip in the air that went well with the nip of excitement the holiday brought with it.

What I remember most are the post-dinner conversations that always took place outside on the back porch if the weather was warm, or in my grandparent’s bedroom if it was too cold outside. What I remember is the sound level caused by four sisters and a brother, all talking at once and not one of them seeming to notice, or care.

My Grandma Pitt would be lying on the bed, contentment showing on her otherwise stoic face. My Grandpa Pitt would sit on the edge of his old cane rocker, occasionally interjecting a comment into the raucous conversation. Whenever he raised his hand the room would go ghostly quiet, waiting for his latest regal pronouncement.

My Aunt Artie, Uncle Grady’s wife, would usually join in the melee but not my Dad Jack and Uncles Frank, Henry and Bert. They would be standing together in the tiny kitchen, their arms folded and knowing expressions on their faces. They had all been there before.

Those days are long gone, as are my grandparents, all my uncles, my mother and one of my aunts. Dot, Marguerite and my Dad are still alive, all with their own grandchildren and great-grandchildren now. Still, when I see a turkey emerging from the oven and smell the wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen, I think of Grandpa Pitt, the first and the last “King of Vivian.”

Eric'sWeb

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Luna

Temperatures here in central Oklahoma have been hot as the hubs of Hades this last week or so. It was just as hot last night, humidity causing it to feel like the inside of a steam cabinet. When I turned on the water hose to cool things down, a beautiful luna moth flew to a nearby tree. Since this is the first such moth I can remember seeing since I was a child, I rushed to get my camera.

After dark, I lit the Tiki torches by my pool and played with my two pugs, Princess and Scooter, in the backyard. The night was magical, a breeze fluttering the tree branches. There were also dancing shadows and the sound of ice tinkling in a large glass. I don’t know if it was a spirit, but the sound was suddenly behind me, and then to my side.

Marilyn’s morning glories and moon flowers haven’t bloomed but the foliage has grown up over the back fence of my pool. We blamed my Mom, joking that her spirit prevented the plants from blooming until my Father joined her. This is a funny explanation but one I don’t believe. There are no bees this year. I heard on NPR that many hives have succumbed to a virus. Without pollinators, there are no blossoms.

It was still almost a hundred degrees when I went walking today at six. Because the trees are stressed by the lack of water, dried leaves cover the sidewalks, making it look almost like fall. Temperatures belie the fact that it is anything other than summer. As I walked up Coltrane, I found a turtle that had crossed the road and then was too exhausted or too small to crawl up over the lip. I picked it up and sat it on the sidewalk, out of the road. It looked at me a moment, as if to see what I was going to do, and then hurried away into the shelter of nearby trees.

Upon returning from my walk, Patch wagged his tail and licked the salt off my arms, happy to see me. I was also happy to see him, but sad that Lucky and Velvet are no longer alive.

My Maine Coon cat Rouge also disappeared and the neighbor that owns Fang came and got him and took him to Pennsylvania with him. A bag of cat treats still sits by the front door, awaiting a new cat to delight. Marilyn called me as I was resting at the kitchen table.

“Looks like the heat got your big moth,” she said, pointing at a spot on the sidewalk.

The big luna moth had indeed succumbed and lay stretched out, as if in life, on the hot cement. I don’t know the life expectancy of a luna. A week? A month? It made me think about my Dad, and dogs and cats. Nothing lasts forever. We only exist for what period of time is allotted us. The turtle would probably still be alive long after I am dead and gone. My time will be shorter, but like the luna moth, it will be enough.

Eric'sWeb

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Lost on Route 66

Out since April, Lost on Route 66 is selling briskly. I didn't write any of the stories, essays or poems that appear in the book, but I wish I had. Many of the authors are previously published and a few of them teach writing. It's a great little book with many wonderful stories and poems about the Mother Road and it isn't too late to check it out.
Eric'sWeb

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Big Billy's Baja Oklahoma Guacamole Dip - a weekend recipe

Big Billy was a Texan at heart but lived for many years in Oklahoma while drilling for the State’s elusive black gold. He loved Mexican food and also loved to entertain. When he did, he often served his own version of guacamole dip. Here is Big Billy’s personal recipe.

Big Billy’s Baja Oklahoma Guacamole Dip

Ingredients

• 3 avocados, peeled and pitted
• 1 lime, juiced
• 1 1/2 tsp butter
• 1 tsp salt
• 1/2 onion, medium-sized, finely chopped
• 3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
• 1/2 tomato, large, chopped fine
• 1 tsp garlic, minced
• 1 pinch cayenne pepper

Directions

Mix ripe, peeled avocados and butter in medium bowl. Mash with fork. Add balance of ingredients and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate for an hour or so, or serve immediately.

Eric'sWeb