The Water Witch

Yesterday at our house, it rained for ten hours straight. Readers who live in wetter climates might be asking, “Yeah? So?” I’ll explain. Central Texas. August. Summer. Our property was already in the “Moderate Drought” category on the weather maps. So receiving the blessing of ten continuous hours of steady, soaking rain was . . . YUGE. For weeks I’d been casting a worried eye on the small lake at the back of our property. Lately it had appeared to be shrinking a bit. We’re told by neighbors that it’s been known to go completely dry in times of severe drought. We’ve never had to deal with that, though. In the two years that we’ve lived here, there’s been so […]

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Leave ’Em Screaming: Two Ice Cream Recipes

It’s always a crapshoot, moving to a different residence and then accommodating overnight guests for the first time. As a host, you have to wonder: Is the bed comfortable? Is the room cool/warm enough? Did I remember to put that extra roll of toilet paper in the bathroom? In the aftermath of The Daughter’s visit, during which The Son-in-Law was here for the last four nights, the answers are: not especially, yes, yes, and—for a question that hadn’t occured to me—the improperly-installed shower door leaked water all over the guest bathroom floor. But who can fret too much about such trifles when there’s homemade ice cream? In this part of Texas, it’s been a warmish summer. Twenty-eight days so far […]

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The Space Between: From the Tasting Menu

Monday was the birthday of the noted English poet and novelist, Robert Graves. He would have been 122 years old. Graves wrote the historical fiction masterpiece I, Claudius and its sequel, Claudius the God (both of which I loved), and many, many other works. But until reading about him on Monday, I didn’t know just how many. Turns out he wrote more than 120 books. Now see here, Mr. Graves. You and I both know that’s just showing off. 120 books. Pondering this, I slumped a little deeper into the sofa. I’ve written 2. Or, for those who want to quibble, 1.75. But then a couple of cheering thoughts occurred to me, which I now respectfully submit for your consideration: […]

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The Space Between: A Scene from Chapter Two

Katie, aka The Daughter, arrived Tuesday for a two-week visit! She came bearing gifts: She came with food requests: 1. Lobster for dinner one night 2. Cinnamon Ice Cream 3. La Louisane Dip (which will have a post to itself someday) She has essential shopping to do: 1. Jeans She has nonessential shopping to do: 1. Anything in the greater Central Texas area, up to, but not including, jeans So for the next two weeks there will be cooking. And mother-daughter shopping. And many, many games of Munchkin. All enhanced by the wearing of flashy socks. As a result, this post and next week’s will feature snippets of my fantasy novel, The Space Between, coming out later this summer! Today […]

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The Anchor Summer Sour Cocktail, Revisited

Here we are in the hot, sweaty clutches of summer. As it’s known in some English-speaking parts of the world, the silly season. It’s often the time for trivial or frivolous (even outright bogus) stories in the newspapers. Here in the U.S., I think the silly season applies most precisely to television. Michael Phelps in a swim-off against a Great White to kick off Shark Week? (There must be more to that than the commercials make it appear!) Wow. If there weren’t already a Blood in the Water cocktail honoring a previous year’s Shark Week, I’d have to invent it myself. Today’s post, though, revisits a cocktail that I did invent: the Anchor Summer Sour. Two reasons for this: 1. […]

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The Sewing Basket

Do you remember the days when virtually every household had a sewing basket? How many of you out there still have one in your house? Not a travel-size sewing kit with itsy scissors, three or four colors of thread, replacement buttons and a small pack of needles. A basket. It could be the capacious, old-fashioned kind that stands on four legs like an end table. Or the more portable plastic kind with a handle, plus compartmented storage for sewing notions and a lid that’s padded on the underside so you can pincushion the needles you’ve used. That’s the kind I have. And boy, am I a fraud. At least three times in my life I’ve tried to learn the art […]

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Jalapeño Poppers: GOOD Ones

Jalapeño Poppers are ubiquitous in these parts, especially during the warm months of the year. Many grocery stores (at least in Texas) even sell them pre-prepared in the meat department. No muss, no fuss, no lighting your fingertips on fire while cleaning and scraping out the veins of all those jalapeños. All you have to do is buy a package and cook them at home until their little bacon swaddlings turn crisp. Recipes for them abound in cookbooks and online, but many are just minor variations on “Stuff halved and hollowed fresh jalapeños with cream cheese. Wrap in bacon and secure with a toothpick.” Then, since these morsels are associated with the outdoor grilling season, the recipe might tell you […]

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Panther Black

Have you ever wondered what the blackest thing in the world is? The other day, while considering the blackness of black panthers, I wondered. A quick google search revealed that it’s a substance called “Vantablack,” invented in 2014 by British researchers at Surrey NanoSystems. Lest you think Vantablack is something so easily categorized as a pigment, think again. It’s actually a coating made of carbon nanotubes. And before I fall into the trap of believing I know what I’m talking about, I’ll show you a couple of images of this stuff from the Surrey NanoSystems website (learn more here): It’s mind-bogglingly black, almost completely non-reflective. Nearly every bit of light that shines upon it is absorbed. This drastically flattens the […]

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Death by Cow: Still Avoiding

Okay, so Glen and I have lived in the country for two years now. And it’s been mostly wonderful. Yes, there have been adjustments. It’s a 15 mile roundtrip to pick up our mail at the tiny post office, and quite a bit farther to the nearest small-town chain grocery store. There is no existing infrastructure for luxuries like cable television and Wi-Fi, so both TV and Internet come courtesy (if you call paying through the nose for less dependability plus limited data a “courtesy”) of satellite: one dish for each. Heck, we don’t even have a landline for telephone service. Our house sets too far back from the road. Thankfully, cell service is fairly reliable here. Unless we’re indoors. […]

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Welcome to the All-New susanrooke.net!

Happy June 8th, everybody! I see my recent prediction of the arrival of Christmas in 2 weeks is proving true. A couple more haircuts, and—*poof*— it’ll be here. But I’m celebrating now, because my Christmas came 6 months early. Today marks my 58th blog post, and to go with it, I’ve got a great-looking brand new website! And I have the very capable and intuitive Sherry Scott of Resource Connection to credit for it. Thank you, Sherry (and read more about her here)! There is so much that sets this new site apart from the old one (which launched May of 2016), but the most important is that Sherry built it from the ground up, specifically for me. No longer […]

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Savory Cheese Cookies: A Recipe for the Cocktail Hour

I don’t know how you feel about those neon orange cheese crackers lining the grocery store shelves, but I don’t like them. To me, they’re just as dry and boring as their red cardboard box, I don’t understand their popularity, and I can’t think of any reason good enough to make me eat one. (I must confess to a fondness for crunchy—not puffed!—Cheetos, however. Eat them with chopsticks so you won’t leave an orange trail of culpability.) Glen and I once went to a party where the only food the hostess provided to accompany a stringy barbecued brisket was an Olmec head-sized box of cheese crackers dumped into a disposable aluminum roasting pan. Visual appeal and tastiness: both slain with […]

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Faeries: How Icelanders are Different from You and Me

Well. Maybe they’re not so different from me. I believe in faeries too. You may have read that opinion polls show that more than half the people in Iceland either believe outright in “the hidden folk”—elves, faeries, trolls and the like—or at least won’t deny the possibility of their existence. What a great place that must be, that people can hold such beliefs and still feel part of the larger whole, without fearing ostracism and ridicule from their countrymen. (Presumably.) Even though many people in Iceland speak English, I’d love it if The Space Between and the books to follow were translated into Icelandic someday. (A side note I just learned online: Icelandic is a language closely related to Norwegian, […]

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