Pumpkin, Pumpkin: Folklore, History, Planting Hints and Good Eating

Courtesy Amazon.com

Pumpkins are magical. They herald in the autumn; they fulfill our needs to create art related to the season and to celebrate it. We fill them with light to welcome others to our homes, and to provide the way from home to home as we gather treats for the season. We have all kinds of celebrations for them from competitions for the largest or best pumpkin to the best decorated pumpkins to pie baking and pie eating competitions. We listen in awe to their amazing history and laugh at their folklore. We begin to invite friends and relatives to luscious dinners featuring this wonderful orange treat. Pumpkins warm our hearts as the autumn begins to bring the chill air. We invite you into the welcoming pages of this book, and to fill your souls with all the good things you remember, and your stomachs with the most delightful pumpkin treats.

I first published this book in 1986, believe it or not. Publishing was different back then. In case any of you ever get discouraged trying to publish your books, don’t. I went through (no kidding) some 600 publishers in the U.S. and overseas. Everyone pretty much liked it, but they didn’t publish specialized cookbooks so much then, or they were afraid it was too seasonal . I kept careful notes of every letter I sent to a publisher. That was how we did it back then. And if they showed an interest, we had to send them a manuscript to review. It was a ridiculously long process, and expensive too. But in the end result, none of them turned down the book for any personal reason (i.e. you can’t write).

Finally I took a second job to get the book printed, exchanging my work as editor of a small community newspaper in Long Beach, California. I worked at my regular job by day and then went to work after I got off my other job to get the paper out every week, and working all weekend. When I had earned enough to have my book printed (5,000 copies), I took the covers and all the pages, and I held a collating party with friends, who helped me collate it after a potluck dinner in a part of the Old Fort MacArthur, where we had an old barracks building we had rented as a gallery.  There we exhibited the work of some potters my former significant discovered. The building overlooked the ocean in San Pedro, CA. It was an incredible time to be in that town. I had rented a comb binding machine and so we took care of everything, and of course I gave each person who helped me to get it all together a signed copy.

That was just the beginning of the work. I had to schlup the book around to bookstores. Some of them paid me up front and then would get their money back with sales. Others insisted on taking the book on consignment, which meant me driving back to their stores each month to see if they had made sales. And those people put the books out where they wanted them, and that was not where they would get the best viewing and perhaps sales. This was common in those days.

My book was not high priced; I don’t remember what it was, but I remember that by today’s standards it was cheap. And they were more obliged to the big name publishers. So pricing and where your book ended up on the shelves were other things that made selling a genuine challenge. The comb binding was ok. A number of cookbooks were sold that way, but the problem was that without printing on the outside edge, if the book was on the shelf among other books, it would be overlooked. Libraries would not take it because of that. It would be easy to take it out of the library without checking it out legally, and also people would sometimes overlook it because they ignored something with no printing on the spine.

I had a Library of Congress Number besides the ISBN, which is all many self-published  books have these days it seems. Anyway, it would end up in their Books in Print, and that did bring a number of orders. The problem with that was that I had to get them ready to ship, pay for postage, and mail them out for the price of the book plus shipping. That part would have been ok if I had not had to get them ready to mail and get them to the post office each time. So again, it was ending up costing me money to get my own book out.

I can’t remember what the Internet was like, but I had no one to help me promote the book. I definitely do not remember blogs. So I did what I could, and between giving away books to people who were friends and selling what I could, and soon they were all gone. I have one old and really battered copy, but it is a good memory of another time and place and how things used to be.

Life is a joy now related to the books we write and publish. I think the “Print on Demand” publishers have much to help worthwhile authors to get their books out there and in a way that is not environmentally a challenge in that we don’t have to worry about remaindered books. I don’t know if book pirating is still an issue as it was way back when. Seems to me from some of the movies I have seen that countries like China and other parts of Asia have some pretty good writers and producers of film these days, and there seems to be a big market for them now too, so pirating may have slowed down.

Thank you one and all who have been so supportive. It is wonderful the way the bloggers help to support each others’ efforts in publishing. Never give up. Keep writing. Everything today is geared to helping you to succeed. I want to thank my good friends, Leonore Dvorkin of DLD Books.com who does editing, and David Dvorkin, who made my beautiful cover and got the book into print, and handled all the technical chores. And I also want to thank my friend Patty Fletcher, who seemingly never sleeps while she helps us all to get publicity for our books as she works with David and Leonore. They helped my friend, Barbara Williamson and me with our last book, Artful Alchemy: Physically Challenged Fiber Artists Creating. I love the way the book business is today. It is a true community involvement, and you never have to feel alone the way I did years ago as I did what I could for my book.

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Writing Your Obituary

Courtesy Pexels

It seems an odd thing to think about when we are still alive and perhaps still young. Writing your obituary is a good idea though because if it is left to others to manage, they may write things that you would not have wanted to have written about you, or perhaps they would leave out things that were important to you.

It is a good way to remind yourself of all the things you have accomplished in your lifetime, and to remember people who others might not remember who were important to you in life. We don’t have to be thinking about dying, but we don’t really know what life has in store for us.

I often think of the story of Anne Frank, and how her story of her life in those last days was captured and has been an inspiration for so many people because it is the story of someone who lived a life with such meaning in just little everyday things. That is something I think it would be very difficult for another person, no matter how close they were to you, to capture your life the way you would have thought of it.

I think of my father, and I have not a photo or anything left of his life. He was not a role model for a father in some ways, but he did take care of us to ensure we had a roof over our heads, food on the table, and clothing always. He once got me a Ford Taunus, and I drove it out to White Sands Proving Grounds with him, and it went on the fritz out there. I could only drive the whole way back in 1st gear, not being able to shift at all. It seemed that drive was forever, and I never wanted to drive that car again. Tomorrow is Father’s Day, and I wonder how I might have written his obituary while he was still alive. I think the same for all of my relatives who are gone now, and those I particularly loved, and I so wish now I had captured their lives for my own children and their children and grandchildren.

Perhaps this is a good way to spend a bit of Father’s Day. If you can’t capture the life of your own father, perhaps you can capture your own growth from being a child to growing up and then becoming a father. I know someone will be glad someday to read about who you were as a human being and the things and people that were important to you in this life.

To Mothers with Love

A Mother’s Beautiful Love for Her Baby

There is nothing more beautiful in this world than a mother’s genuine love for her child or children. It is definitely something worth celebrating.

The woman who composed the words for “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” Julia Ward Howe, first proposed the celebration of a Mother’s Day in 1870 to recognize peace and protest following the Civil War. Despite her dedicated work to form annual organized events in Boston to honor mothers, Her efforts did not produce event results per se, but her impassioned proclamation for all mothers still exists, and perhaps is even more meaningful in the world today.

Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of tears! Say firmly: ‘We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.

“Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.

From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says, ‘Disarm, disarm! The sword is not the balance of justice.’ Blood does not wipe out dishonor nor violence indicate possession.

As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each learning after his own time, the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.”

Some Mothers Would Give Their Own Lives to Protect Their Little Ones. This mother may be protecting her little ones from a Hawk or other predator.

In 1907, Anna Jarvis, a Methodist, began a campaign to establish a permanent Mother’s Day. By the following year, the YMCA had taken up the cause and, in 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a congressional resolution establishing Mother’s Day in the United States. In time, the day came to be celebrated in many other countries.


In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a congressional resolution establishing Mother’s Day in the United States.

Regardless of where you are located, what you have or don’t have, I want to wish each and every mother among you the very best life has to offer for today, tomorrow and always. When you bring up a child as well as you can, you are doing something remarkable for our world. Julia Ward Howe didn’t have it wrong; today we can understand her sentiments for all the children of the world.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Dachau Holocaust Memorial

Before you mistakenly think that I am a Jew, I am not. I believe that we are all sacred on this earth, and we were put here for a purpose, so we all belong here – be you Chinese, Mexican, Black, Indian (East or West), Muslim, or any other race of people or culture, regardless of what God or spiritual belief you follow, regardless of your political beliefs, or any of those other things we associate with human beings. We are ALL sacred, and none of us would be here if we were not meant to be, along with all the types of creatures and growing plants, right down to the smallest grain of sand. Our greatest challenge today is to accept all the people in this world as being essential for the survival of the world and the universe. Together, we can accomplish so much, but as long as we keep considering that any particular group, any creatures, any plant or grain of sand, we will be continuing to tear down what was given to us as the greatest gift.

Holocaust Memorial

Let us not be separated by barbed wires, by men and women with guns, or other instruments of torture. Let us look to see the beauty in all the individuals and the creatures, the plants, and the smallest grains of sand, and work together to help this universe to continue to live. Every time we harm another human being, be it physical or with our words, we harm our own selves because we lose more of our souls until there is nothing left to show that we were once human. Take a moment out of your day to say a prayer for all of the humans, the creatures, the plants and the grains of sand and how thankful we all are that we have been given this beautiful diversity. Thank you one and all.

Heroes

When I saw the photo of this beautiful and diminutive lady in the newspaper, I was inspired to create her likeness in a quilt which is still not finished. There is something about finishing it that reminds me of her life, for her goal is unfinished, and her country of Myanmar is still unfinished in the sense of gaining freedom for her people, so in a way it seems appropriate to be unfinished. I will finish it I am certain, but I have to make some adjustments to it in the direction she is facing and the overall size, etc. of the quilt. Giving it texture will enhance the quilt greatly just as giving texture to life enhances it as well.

I love people who make a commitment in life that they will pursue despite whatever challenges or dangers they face in the process. Called “The Father of Democracy” by the people of the country, her father was assassinated when Aung San Suu Kyi was just two years old. Despite such heart-breaking challenges, she steadfastly stuck by her beliefs even though she was under house arrest for years and has faced unbelievable circumstances. Her husband and two sons had to move outside the country. When her husband was stricken with cancer, she was told that she could go to be with him in his time of need, but that if she did, she could never come back. What a heart-rending decision had to be made and what incredible sacrifices the whole family made.

Yes, she is one of my heroes. No matter how much I might believe in something, I am not sure I could ever have given so much to such an immense cause.

It is good to have heroes in this life as I have noted before. We all need to know that when we are called to do something difficult, there are others who have made a path for us to follow. Perhaps those in her country who are against her are just waiting out the time when she too will pass on. Although she won the Nobel prize during the time she lived under house arrest not much has changed in Myanmar to this day.

If the time comes that I have to stand up and fight for a cause in my lifetime that I too will have the courage to stay strong and be brave until my last moments on this earth. I long for the all of earth’s people to learn to work together for our mutual benefit, and to realize and respect that we are all sacred and here on this earth by some great design.