Author: smarthu (Page 1 of 6)

The Truth is Out There

I loved the old television show X Files. It was a perfect combination of fiction and non-fiction (mostly Sci Fi).

All the talk of fake news and real news and really “out there” conspiracy theories is exhausting to me.

I wonder how people can go so far down rabbit-holes of conspiracy that they believe in vampires and zombies.

Conspiracy theories are not new; there have been theories about Elvis not really being dead, and JFK having been killed by a big government plot. These conspiracy theories stayed relatively small in audience because we didn’t yet have—the Internet.

The Internet gives fuel to conspiracy theories, and people who are prone to this kind of information, or are drawn to it, search for validating sites and information. They form clubs and groups with like-minded individuals. Some need a war or cause to fight for, some need excitement, and some are truly concerned about the greater good.

It’s frightening to me that we can’t just talk people down from their ledges of disinformation before they hurt themselves or others.

Or, am I wrong? Maybe there are vampires and zombies? Maybe Elvis is still alive.

It makes me think though as I write fiction; will someday people not be able to discern between fiction and non-fiction (or non-faction, as I like to call it)?

I think I’ll binge some old episodes of X-Files.

Is “Privilege Guilt” a Thing?

My husband and I just got back from a two-week Mediterranean cruise–you know, one of those Viking cruises that you see advertised.

It was heaven; being catered to, eating marvelous food and worrying only about adding a few pounds to an already cushy frame, going on guided drives and tours, having sheets changed not only once a day, but twice?

As we brought back our pictures to share with others, I do feel twinges of guilt.

I know how privileged I am. Was I always? No. My kids and I took mostly camping or nearby mountain vacations. We live in Colorado, and yet, almost everyone I know who lives in Colorado couldn’t afford to give their children ski lessons or take them on exotic vacations.

So, while never truly poor (as I know my mother was), I catch memories of not being able to afford this-or-that, and not being able to give my children this-or-that.

However, I and my husband and my children are all “self made” and know how to work and set goals and be resilient. We all put ourselves through college (albeit not Harvard or Yale), paid whatever student loans we had, worked very very hard and set goals.

There was a comedian who had a bit about sending rich kids to “poor camp,” to teach them about real life.

I do feel guilty about having so much while others have so little.

But enough of rationalizing my feelings of guilt.

I am grateful. I realize there are those who have much more than I.

There are those who have much less.

I will continue to show our “vacation photo books” and as my husband says, “don’t be ashamed of wealth, but share it, and show others how to do it.”


I grew up in Grand Junction, Colorado, very near the Utah border, where the sun shines hot and climate is “high desert.” Good, it seems for growing fruit.

These days, wineries have popped up in the area, adding wine tourism as a major revenue source and adding job opportunities to this picturesque area.

When much younger, my brother and cousins and I would pick peaches for extra money in the fall once the peaches and apples had ripened. We were not very good at it and may have eaten more than we picked. We would go home sticky and itching from “peach fuzz,” but happy with our extra money.

We picked alongside migrant workers, who were working for a living and not for pocket money. The workers, men and women alike, would bring their lunches in tin bucket and their children in tow. I thought they were a happy group, although looking back, their lives couldn’t have been easy. They played their snappy Mexican music in the peach groves.

I found this peach cake recipe compliments of Ina Garten. Maybe pair it with a nice peach wine?:

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar, divided

2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup sour cream, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 large, ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced

1/2 cup chopped pecans

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar for 3 to 5 minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, then the sour cream and vanilla, and mix until the batter is smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix just until combined. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon.
  3. Spread half of the batter evenly in the pan. Top with half of the peaches, then sprinkle with two-thirds of the sugar mixture. Spread the remaining batter on top, arrange the remaining peaches on top, and sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture and the pecans.
  4. Bake the cake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.

2010, Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?, All Rights Reserved


I have become more and more interested in politics & how it works, and I’m disappointed about how it works.

Today, August 2, 2022, primaries are being conducted in several “swing” states. Some candidates have declared that should they “lose,” they will not accept their loss. When did not accepting your loss graciously become acceptable.

Well, I know when and by whom it was started, but I believe it is a bad bad street to go down.

I’m hoping we can get back to whatever “normal” is and start behaving normally and graciously and realize that not everybody is trying to cheat, steal and pillage.

At least, I have hope.

But then, my mother always called me a Pollyanna.

Voting Stress

I’ve become more aware of politics as time goes on, partially because there is so much more news coverage around politics as well as happenings around the world. I think we all get anxious and feel stress over the state of the world and whether it matches what we think the world should be; what our individual politics are.

Conflict and arguing has always been a stress trigger of mine, so it becomes heightened during this time (primaries in advance of midterm elections, etc.)

I remind myself each day; all you can do is study the issues and candidates. And VOTE. Every vote counts.

Girl Trip Wine Country

Took a “girl trip” with my two adult daughters to wine country. Stayed at the Farmhouse Inn in Forestville, CA. It’s about forty-five minutes from San Francisco. It was my first drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, so that was exciting.

We’re doing this every year now–connecting just the three of us, and I cherish every minute. Of course, we had to skip 2020, but braved it masks and hand sanitizer and all in 2021 for a trip to Arizona.

The older I get, the more I’m trying to be present, as they say, “in the here and now,” and not worry so much about the past or future.

Two Daughters in a Vinyard in Forestville, Ca.

Making “Lemon Sag Cake” Out of Lemons

I always read platitudes about how to recover from disappointing events. I don’t have a recent disappointing event, but almost every day I wonder if what I’m trying to write (or cook or say or whatever) is good.

I grew up on a farm adjacent to my cousin’s farm. We would meet in between and swim in the old swimming hole (don’t know if it’s still there). So much carefree summer fun.

My aunt, who was a great cook, would have freshly made bread with apple butter at her house. She also made a cake she called a “lemon sag cake.”

It was buttery around the edges lemony, crispy around the edges, and it did indeed sag in the middle of the pan. No frosting needed.

When I was older and was a little interested in cooking, I asked her for the recipe. She said, “oh–it’s just Betty Crocker’s lemon cake recipe. It failed because, you know, we’re at high altitude. I could have corrected the recipe, but everybody likes it this way.”

For some reason this stuck with me, especially when someone says they made “lemonade from lemons” after a sad or bad event.

I’m trying to make “lemon sag cake” from my recipe for books.

Circle of Concern vs. Circle of Control

My obsession with celebs began as a teen with teen magazines, and moved on to regular news (I wanted to be informed). My “being informed” morphed into “I have to know everything,” which leads to obsession.

I once went on a vacation where I was deprived of a newspaper for 2 weeks & I thought my brain would whither away. What did I miss during that time? That Roy Horn, of the act Sigfred & Roy, was bitten and dragged off the stage by his favorite tiger, Montecore. I followed that story for days. Could I do anything about it? No. Even today, all a person can do is perhaps donate to a charity site or write a text or tweet.

I’ve embarked on a journey of figuring out how to care about such things (my husband has had this figured out for years and is much more productive than I). I happened upon an article with provides such help. (Sorry, can’t remember who wrote it). This chart helps:

Circles of concern vs circle of control

My mission: concentrate on the Circle of Control (those things which I have control over).

The Amazing and Irritating Internet

30 or even 20 years ago I would not have imagined a world where I could have any knowledge at my fingertips (okay–some of it is totally fake). College papers would have been so much easier (I mean really,how do they make dissertations a challenge if you can use the Internet?).

So, it is both an extremely helpful tool and also a curse. A time waster.

Today, I caught myself looking up “countries where they eat macaroni and cheese.” Why? I’m not sure. Curiosity. Procrastination. I also looking up shoes, dresses that I’ll never wear, houses that celebrities live in, furniture that I don’t need. Nothing depraved.

Although I’m a little embarrassed when my husband walks in on me during my “writing time,” and I’m looking at TMZ. Why am I looking at TMZ? I don’t know who these people are. Nor do I know who the people on are.

A little hit of Dopamine (or so, the articles say). Dopamine can’t hurt right? Unless it steals time from what we’re supposed to be doing.

I love the Internet. Instant knowledge. Used wisely. And in moderation.

I still love a good book. Not only my Kindle, but a good old fashioned paper book.

The Ukraine

It’s hard not to watch news channels all day as the world sees the horrible “reality television” that is Russia’s attack on the Ukraine. So much suffering and death and destruction wrought by a greedy and most likely psychotic dictator (yes, I call him a dictator, not a authoritarian or a strong leader). All to claim a country that has hard-fought for its freedom from Russia, a country the size of American’s Texas.

But, with evil comes good and there is good in the Ukrainian president who is refusing to leave his beloved country. He is a man who is choosing to stay in his country to fight with them, to fight for them. the bravery of the people is astounding, but I suppose many of us don’t know how brave we’d be in such a situation (and I pray we don’t ever need to find out).

Would we lay down our lives for our country as the Ukrainian president is willing to do? As the Ukrainian people are doing? As all the military all over the world sign up for?

I pray for the people of the Ukraine.

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