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Dungeons and Dragons, Story Experiments

Fiction Snippets: Lothatio Part I

Lothatio stood tall and gaunt outside my window, totally naked, eyes pleading “Moz, you have to help me get my stuff back. You know how penniless I am. I’ll go naked forever and it will just lead to more problems.” Oh, the folly of the poor. It never ceases to amaze me how people with the least resources tend to get themselves all fucked up over dumb things. Still… if he stood there in the wet, cold night with his dick hanging out, some sly fox might already be poised to snatch it like a sausage. Some sly fox, or an Orc. Whatever.
I have no self-respect so of course I rousted, like the predictable lady oaf that I am. I gave him a sheet and he wrapped up like Julius Caesar and we were off. Lothatio knew to spare me the details of this latest catastrophe. His last explanation bored me literally to the point of fainting. I almost squished him. Poor fellow tries so hard to convince me that he is not scum, but the joke is on him because we are all scum. Every last one. Just tell me where to take the anarchy.
This particular situation warranted explanation. We went out east of town to a lake, whereby about 4 young girls were naked around a fire. It looked as if clothing were burning in the middle. Lothatio’s ratty garb, no doubt. The girls were unaware of us, as I had cast Pass Without Trace to hide, as I often do. When you are this large, the general tactic is intimidation… but being invisible and then suddenly present begets a new level of satisfaction in tense situations. It also keeps people from going immediately on the offense at the sight of me, abomination that I am.
Anyway these girls, all perfectly delicious specimens, were chanting some sort of spell. Something about severing the ties of love. It was clear at first sight that these were not wise or strong little witches. I found myself puzzled as to why I was there. Women were the thing Lothatio was best at. Usually these excursions were the result of lost wagers and unpaid debts. Still… Whatever it was was probably boring and his affects lay burning. I turned back toward the forest.
“Well, you might have to explain this one because I don’t know who to kill at the moment. You for waking me or those tiny witches”
“They seduced me, Moz. Fed me some potion that was… really effective. Really trippy like the cow patty mushrooms we found that one time. Next thing I knew, I was awake and drowning in this lake. It was all I could do to get them off of me. I pretended to drown and when they dragged me ashore, I made a run for it.”
“ Do you know any of them?”
“Not even a little bit. They bought me some drinks when they heard me singing in the pub.”
“Fair enough, you scoundrel. You had to know it was all too good to be true”
“Me and the drink, you know. It’s a shame. I’m ashamed.”
“Join the club”

I turned about to look and listen… Lothatio never lied to me. Not ever. Never even tried to lie to me. As you can see, in spite of our history,, he has no shame in leading me right down the trail of seed to his latest conquest. These girls might not be benign, as I initially expected. I knew that nothing I could do would bring back Lothatio’s possessions, which seemed to be my purpose.

“What do you want me to do now that your rags are burning?”
“Well maybe you can tell me what that babbling means… are they casting some curse on me? Moz, you know I don’t need anymore curses”
“ I could just kill you. They can’t hurt you if you’re dead.”
“Very Funny”
“Welp… I don’t think it’s prudent to kill a bunch of little girls over what appears to be a love spell.”
“ I think if you had better perception, you’d see that there’s more to this. I think I was being sacrificed and I don’t think a sacrifice is something you just allow to run away.”
“ Do you think they are waiting for you to die in the forest?”

Right then, the chanting from the fire stopped. We creeped closer and heard one of the girls say “Something is wrong Lillith. I feel him, but something is not right.”

“Indeed, child. I can feel it too”

“See what I mean? They are going to sacrifice me to the Jesus Dragon or something”

Looking more closely at Lillith, I could see she had a bright gold ring on her finger that seemed to glisten as the fire lapped. It looked as if it were too small, as her finger was a pale shade of blue. Suddenly, I got a bad feeling. I’ve never heard of a local cult engaging in human sacrifice before. Did they not know that humans taste bad? What god would want human meat? I could tell this was gonna become a whole thing.

I felt the familiar scramble of nerves within me. Erring on the side of caution, I decided to try an ensnaring strike before going in for questioning. The arrow struck. Vines erupted from the arrow upon impact, encasing her thin, pale body. The thorns burrowed in deep. She was going nowhere and she looked helplessly infuriated. So cute.

To Be Continued…

Recipe

Winner Dinner: Salmon Alfredo with Spaghetti Squash

 

This is a less sinful indulgence for the carb addicted. Did you know that you can grow a healthy version of spaghetti right in your back yard? Spaghetti squash provides about half the calories and 1/4 the carbs. It also carries 2 grams of fiber and beta carotene. Spaghetti squash is delicious with any meat or sauce and if you are trying to lighten your carbo load, it’s worth a shot.

The Ingredients 

  • Salmon- 1.25lb package, frozen
  • Bacon- I used 2 strips of thick cut, you could use more or less.
  • Spaghetti Squash- one good size squash will feed a family of 4 if you need it to. We did boats and served two here, but it was ALOT of squash. This is an excellent thing to make and then take for lunch. You can eat until you are full and add more meat and cheese right into the rind, wrap it and you are good to go.
  • Butter- 1/3 cup (not including bacon drippings)
  • Heavy Cream- 1 Cup
  • Parmesan- 6oz for sauce, 2oz for garnishing= 8oz
  • Capers
  • Seasonings- Salt, Pepper, Cajun, Basil, Garlic (minced)
  • Olive Oil- 2T ish

 

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The Cooking
– Heat the oven to 350°
– Wash your squash and halve it (Some would say remove the stem, but I leave it, as it allows me to use the rhind as a bowl and it looks cool and harms nothing)
– Scoop out the seeds and gooey stuff from the center
– drizzle olive oil and spread it all over, coating the insides of the squash, salt and pepper all over
– Bake that baby for about 15 minutes

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  • Meanwhile, prep the Salmon by drizzling it with olive oil and plenty of cajun seasoning
  • Add Salmon after Squash has baked 15 minutes and let them bake together for another 45 or until the squash and fish are both fork tender and pleasantly browned20190605_170923_Film1

While you are waiting for them to finish up in the oven,  fry up the bacon and leave the drippings to use in the alfredo sauce.

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Alfredo Sauce:

Melt the butter with the garlic
When butter is liquid, add heavy cream and whisk until it simmers (keep the heat med-low so it doesn’t scald)
When it gets to where it has thickened and the simmering bubbles don’t quite pop, you are ready to remove the heat and add cheese, salt, pepper, and basil
Add capers and bacon to the sauce at this point, or sprinkle them on top as a garnish, or both!

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Assembly:

Fork the squash. Fork it real good.

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Add some sauce
Add some fish
Add more cheese
Add more bacon
Put the lotion on the skin (I digress…)

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I know this is a bit of a stretch as a Winner Dinner, given that you have to brown bacon and make sauce, but I hope the simplicity of this dish and the ease of cleanup make up for that. This recipe is excellent with a tangy tomato sauce and any meat you have around. Make it your way and then come back and show me! Thank you for reading, as always.

-Z

Book Review, gardening

Z’s Book Club: Groundbreaking Gardens by Niki Jabbour

My adventures carried me into gardening this year and now I have more starts than I have space (Seriously, if you want some summer squash, call me). I tried to garden as a child and always failed. This year’s success is a pleasant and welcome surprise and has led me to start planning a bigger, better garden for next year. I sold my entire library when I lost my home last year, including my dusty old gardening books. A search for inspiration led me to my local library, where I found this little ditty called Groundbreaking Food Gardens by Niki Jabbour, who is a gardening inspiration all by herself. She must have called all her friends in the industry and asked them to design an amazing garden for this book.

You could not ask for better advisors than those whose plans are featured in this book. There are 73 different plans, all from professional gardeners. These include award winning landscape designer Jessi Bloom, Roger Doiron (founder of Kitchen Gardens International), and Paul Zammit (Director of Horticulture at Toronto Botanical Garden). I mean it is just really cool to see the ideas of people who make their living growing things. Plans span from urban rooftop ideas to country garden plans complete with natural pest control strategies.

Particularly relevant to me were plans that included chickens. Jessi Bloom’s “Eggs and Everything” plan is brilliant. It provides versatility in free ranging and the blurb has a few great ideas for composting and making the most of your chickens’ amazing gardening abilities. The illustrations are clear and easily understood and each blurb contains golden nuggets of tried and true advice from some of the best in the business. I am in love!

 

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Jessi Bloom’s “Eggs and Everything” design

 

Many plans also include composting options. From a natural comfrey tea tower that becomes the Keurig of compost tea, to a more traditional waste management program, there is something for everyone in this book. Whether you are a newbie like me or an old thumb looking for some inspiration from today’s great gardeners, Groundbreaking Gardens is worth a look. You will definitely learn something new and garner inspiration no matter what space you are working with, whether you are gardening for beauty, food, or both. This book is just fantastic and so is Niki Jabbour. She is an award winning author herself. Her book The Year Round Vegetable Gardener is a must read. She can also be found on twitter @NikiJabbour. I highly recommend her twitter if you have fallen in love with gardening. She is very supportive and inclusive of her fellow gardeners and her page is a wealth of information and inspiration.

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Emma Cooper’s ingenius comfrey tea composting tower
Health and Wellness

Being Whole: Week 5

 

 

The tale of the last 3 weeks is one of failure… and not even on an epic scale. There was no big thing that stopped me from rowing. I write from a place of peace about it, hoping I’ve found the calm before the storm of productivity I have needed for so long. Other things have happened. My Dude and I have developed some goals of our own, and I really want to come through for him in a big way, so a couple of weeks ago I interviewed for a position at the YMCA closest to home. As of today, I have been hired to start on Monday. It’s just housekeeping, but the additional income will help and it doesn’t hurt that it puts me in the building 5 days a week for rowing and whatnot.

 
Meanwhile, I continue to do what I have been doing (in addition to my day job). That’s a whole lot of gardening and chicken wrangling, cheese making, bread making, and reading about EVERYTHING. It’s been tiring and the radiation doesn’t help, I’m sure. It seems to have hit me pretty hard this time. I’ve been trying to make the best of it by working on things I CAN do. Once I get going, the ball tends to roll on it’s own and sometimes it even speeds up! I really want to get great at making things, so I’m building a routine for the week that provides space to practice bread and cheese at LEAST once per week (each). It’s still about being whole, which means making time to grow the skills I want (NEED) to grow. A second job is a big undertaking, but the benefits are big too. I am tired, but I see the shoes I need to fill and I just want to fill them and then some.

 
Something I learned from my chickens is that sometimes what we need is something to challenge us. I was so afraid to take the plunge when I got my hens, but as soon as I brought them home, I knew it was just what I needed; a new challenge to drive me in the direction of my best life. From there, things have only just begun to snowball. I am overwhelmed and excited to enter into a closer relationship with merciless Mother Earth, and a better relationship with my body. Perhaps along the way other doors will open.

Enjoy some photos of things I created this week (the cheese is mozzarella and the pizza is venison, bacon, capers, alfredo… the crust, cheese and sauce are all scratch made!) Also witness my boys’ celebrations of Summer’s arrival. We are all trying to live our best life. Happy Summer!

 

Health and Wellness

Being Whole: Week 2

This week was rough… it’s actually become more like 2 weeks. I am halfway through week 3. Last week the kids were home and so it was more difficult to make time… I made it Monday-Wednesday and then failed all through the weekend. This past Monday, I had a procedure, so it has been slow going. I went today, foolishly intending to do 2×20 minute workouts to make up for some of what I lost last week. I got dizzy 5 minutes in, pushed it to 15 minutes and now I have the migraine of all migraines. Nevertheless, I persist. My promise to myself is to cut any workouts this week off as soon as my head starts hurting. As long as I go to the gym and get to the machine, I will call it good for the next week or so.

In lieu of real progress, I took some beginning shots last week, which you can check out below. Starting weight is 280 on the dot. Down 8lbs from 2-3 weeks ago. I will do measurements as soon as I can find the one-man tape measure lying around here somewhere. It’s mostly about how I feel, improving my mood, boosting my energy each day. Progress is good, however and I really want to know what rowing does for my upper body as the weeks go by.

So… to keep it short and sweet, here are my before shots…

TIP: If you need help with converting rower information into a calorie count, I found this really helpful link. You enter what the display says and your weight and it will give you a real calorie count for your workout. Helpful if you are bigger like me and can’t figure out how to adjust the weight on the machine. ( This is a calculator for the Concept 2 machine specifically, but I think it can be adapted for most rowers. If you have more accurate info on this, PLEASE comment. I am very new and don’t know what is common when it comes to equipment. ( https://www.concept2.com/indoor-rowers/training/calculators/calorie-calculator )

 

Thanks for tuning in!
-Z