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Prologue to Harem Twins

Cover of the Book Harem Twins by Dolores Maria Davis

Cover of the Book Harem Twins

Egypt’s sun god Ra was rising in the eastern sky to cast his vibrant rays on the white walls of Pharaoh Amenhotep III’s grand new house. A newborn, about to arrive at sunrise in Pharaoh’s Harem, would foretell of exceptional heavenly influences.

The mother, Princess Attah of Mitanni, was twelve summers old. Her diminutive frame carried the belly of a hippopotamus. Gaunt and exhausted from slow labor, her birthing was half a moon cycle early, the baby large.

Maja, Attah’s only slave, tried to comfort her princess with damp cloths and soothing words as Attah suffered strong and rapid thrusts. Maja overheard two women sitting on their cots watching her princess struggle.

“The foreigner slept with Pharaoh but once, and is bearing his child. Luck is with her. She hasn’t even learned to speak in Egyptian yet,” one said.

The other pregnant woman said, “I feel sorry for her. No one has brought effigies of Goddess Hathor to bring the sweet north wind, or God Bes to aid her in her childbearing. The tattoo artist is coming in two Ras to paint my breasts with pictures of God Bes so the magic will be with me when I give birth.”

Slave Maja was on her knees at Attah’s cot asking all the gods she had ever heard of not to let her mistress die in childbirth.

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In Defense of Prejudice

And what’s this got to do with writing anyway?

One of my writing colleagues recently published an article about prejudice against beauty. What? Who doesn’t like beauty? We all enjoy seeing beautiful things, places, faces. But what we don’t usually consider is how that pretty face makes us feel. Envious? Intimidated? Intrigued? Superior? Before that gorgeous gal utters a single word, have we judged her based on appearance? Continue reading

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Filed under beauty, humor, Julie Brown, Musings, prejudice, Writing Tips

Guest Post: Harry Nicholson, Part II

The story of an unknown man

This is a continuation of excepts from Harry Nicholson’s excellent book, Tom Fleck.  –Jeff Guenther

Read Part I

North Wales 2016Introduction: “Tom Fleck is partly a response to the flush of novels about Tudor royalty. I feel small connection with those great lords and their ladies; I sense more kinship with the lives of ordinary folk. So I’ve imagined the lives and adventures of unknown men and women, people without heraldry, people who left no marks of their passing except for the blood that flows in our veins.” –Harry Nicholson

More Fragments of Tom’s world

Tom is with his father, about to dig into a burial mound on the Cleveland Hills: Continue reading

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Guest Post: Harry Nicholson, Part I

Today’s guest poster is Harry Nicholson. I met Harry on Goodreads and was very impressed by the quality of his writing. And his poetry. And his artwork. The following post showcases his evocative prose, selections from ‘Tom Fleck,’ a novel. –Jeff Guenther

 The story of an unknown man.

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Tom Fleck Amazon Link

Introduction: “When I was tapping out Morse in the pitching wireless cabins of tropical steamers in the 1950’s, story-telling was not in my mind. A career in television studios might have brought it about – thirty years working with stories in pictures soaks the mind with images. These days, in a valley below the moorlands of North Yorkshire, I have more time to imagine at leisure. My first tale is about a humble farm labourer and his struggles to be free in Tudor England.” Continue reading

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A Point in Time

I’m sitting in a dark room sandwiched between two old women in wheelchairs. The one on my right is my mom. We are watching An American in Paris. I don’t think I’ve seen it before. Over the last month, my mother’s health and well-being have preoccupied my life. Continue reading

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Lost and Found in Santa Monica

Two dauntless dames from Vassar’s Class of ‘54 plan to meet for lunch in Santa Monica. This memorylaneshould be easy, except Alumna Number One lives several miles down the coast and rarely drives her grey Camry into the metropolis of which Santa Monica is a part.

She looks up the address on Google and memorizes the location.…well, sort of. She doesn’t remember how to find the GPS button on her phone. When she exits the freeway, she turns in the direction she thought the map had indicated, looking for 27th and Pearl. She can find 26th and 28th streets, but no 27th and no Pearl. Continue reading

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Book Review: The Glassblower

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The Glassblower, by Petra Durst-Benning, is a little slow to get into, but the story of the Steinmann sisters and their struggles in glassblowing soon drew me in. With the death of their father, Johanna, Ruth, and Marie have lost their last parent and their income. Life becomes frighteningly uncertain, and the young women face near-starvation. Continue reading

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The Day the Country Store Catalog Arrived…

The catalog from the Vermont Country Store arrived in the mail today. Immediately, I’m plunged into countrystore Continue reading

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Does Hitler Matter Anymore?

What we believe about Hitler is that he was an obviously inhuman madman whose deliberate hatred motivated him to kill millions of people in concentration camps. But was it that simple? What if he was, if not perfectly sane, sufficiently so to be fully responsible for his actions? And what dark psychological forces underlay that hatred? Are there more lessons for us to learn, lessons that could prevent recurrence of such mass exterminations? Or is it already too late for us?

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Fast French Onion Soup

Fast French Onion Soup

This soup is prepared in approximately 20 minutes and matches the taste of the original classic very well. You don’t need the ovenproof bowls as the broiling step is eliminated! 

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 large, onions skinned, halved and sliced as thin as possible

½ teaspoon dried thyme or 3 or 4 fresh sprigs

3 tablespoons flour

½ cup dry white wine

6 cups hot beef commercial stock

½ cup Gruyere cheese, grated (also known as Swiss)

4 to 6 slices of French-style bread, toasted

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

 Parsley chopped fine

 1.     In a large saucepan, caramelize (sauté until golden brown) the onions in the butter and oil over medium to low heat, stirring occasionally. This will take 10 to 20 minutes. Add the thyme at the end of this process.

2.     When the onions are caramelized and the bottom of the pan is all sticky, add flour, stirring it in well, and cook about one minute. Add wine to deglaze, then hot beef broth, and bring the soup to a simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

3.     Place toasted French-style bread in soup bowls, followed by a few tablespoons of grated cheese, then a ladle of simmering soup. Garnish with parsley.

Notes

Butter in this soup adds flavor but you don’t need much due to the cheese.

 Also olive oil or any oil combined with butter stops the butter from burning.

I like to use white onions as they are higher in sugar content and caramelize better. You may add a teaspoon of sugar to the onions to hasten the caramelizing process.  

 Use the best possible Swiss / Gruyere cheese as this is a large part of the recipe’s taste.

Use very little salt if you use commercial stock.

In this recipe you have learned to caramelize and deglaze, or lift sticky bits from the bottom of the soup pot, to greatly enhance the flavor of your soup. 

This is a recipe from my cookbook “Gourmet the Simple Way”

Find it on Amazon

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