The Fortune Cookie

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Ten years ago, I began blogging and this, for some odd reason, was the first post I wrote after my required, "Hello world" sentence. It has taken everything in me not to edit this little story. It's been interesting to see how my voice has changed over the decade, hopefully, for the better. In the meantime, we'll call this Classic Fictional Mandyland.


“Be careful what you wish for…in bed!” The table erupted in laughter as Jean read her fortune cookie, adding the joke ending. Getting up from the table, she bid her friends farewell and walked alone out into the night.

As she strolled down the quiet streets, she wistfully started playing the Game.

“If I could wish for anything, first I’d wish for more wishes.” She laughed, not noticing the shimmer of light disappearing in a shower of colors above her head. 

“Then I’d wish for money, of course.” Looking down, Jean was startled to see a $100 bill lying on the sidewalk. Picking it up, she giggled. “Okaaaay…in that case, I wish for jewelry.”

Jean’s jaw dropped in shock as diamond and sapphire rings appeared on her fingers. She felt a cool heaviness around her throat and reached up to touch a necklace made of emeralds and diamonds. “Oh my God,” she whispered. Glancing around at the empty streets, she whispered, “I wish for a red Ferrari with black leather interior.” Instantly the car appeared. Jean stuck her hands in her coat pocket and closed her fingers around a set of keys. “This is impossible.”

Giddily she ran to the car and opened the door. She sank into the buttery leather seats and sighed. Excitement jolted through her as she realized her wishes were coming true.

“How many do I have? I’d better make them good.” She got out and leaned against the hood of the car. “I wish for a new designer wardrobe, made exclusively for me.” Instantly her jeans and t-shirt were replaced by a suede skirt and cashmere sweater that fit her like a glove. 

“I wish for a billion dollars!” She opened her purse and grabbed the wallet sitting on top. Opening it, she pulled out credit cards in her name and a fist full of cash. She started dancing around the sidewalk. “I can’t believe this is happening!!” She paused…what else to wish for? Holding up her fingers, she started counting her wishes.

“Okay. I have the money, the jewelry, the car, the clothes and the cash. What more do I want?” She snapped her fingers. “I know! I wish for a tall, dark handsome stranger to come swooping into my life.”

Instantly a man appeared before her. He was tall, with jet black hair and as handsome as sin. Jean’s eyes glazed over as she studied him. Belatedly she realized he was speaking.

“I said, hand it over!! Now!” Shaking her head she looked down and saw a gun pointed at her. “Give me all of it,” he growled as he reached for her necklace with his empty hand. Jean started to struggle against him.

Suddenly the gun exploded. Falling to the ground, Jean began to loose strength. The dark stranger leaned over her, quickly taking her jewels, her purse and her car keys. As darkness started to close in, he jumped into her car and drove down the street.

Ten Years and Counting

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I've been blogging for ten years this month.

For a decade, I've been tapping away at my keyboard and sharing my thoughts, opinions, fears, and joys. When I started I was a newlywed. Children were a future wish. I had not yet been forged in the fire of heartbreak. I was so young.

My first blog post was written before Facebook. It was before MySpace. It was when LiveJournal was a combination of the two, a spot where we could keep up with friends strewn across the state and connect with people around the world.

Loke, Seanah, Amelia, Zannie, Denette, Aiyani, Samson, Amy...people who had shared the highs and lows of putting together a show with me. There are so many more veterans of Emerald Moon and Sapphire Moon who pop up on social media occasionally. I smile at the changes and sameness, cheer silently at their happiness from behind my screen, but they're the ones who joined me at LiveJournal and allowed me into their lives in a way even tech week can't.

(You didn't know I used to do shows? That was back when I used to belly dance.)

Blogging helped ease the pain of End of Showitis. We kept track of each other. We shared, commented, and continued to develop friendships.

Then I got pregnant.

Nervous after my miscarriage, I reached out to the far corners of the infant blogosphere and met Thai, Ashley, Kate, Heather, and Irina - my partners in new motherhood. I've watched their children and families grow with mine. They were with me in the wee hours of the morning, understanding my tears of frustration and giving me hope.

And still I kept writing.

I'd hoped to do something big for my decade of blogging. Some sort of giveaway, some sort of party, something to commemorate ten years of faithfully writing, day after day, week after week, year after year. Sure...I miss a day or two or ten. But rarely more.

Maybe, though, a quiet celebration is what's needed. A simple nod to myself that yes, blogging is a part of my life, a quiet part sometimes and a loud part others. It's a way for me to track and trace my life and the people who come and go from it. It's a way to mark the days and years and memories so that one day, I can open the book and remember.

There are a lot of bloggers who question why they blog. It's funny. I never had to.

I'm not in it for money, though perhaps it's silly not to market my little page here. I'm not in it for the popularity, though I'm so very grateful for the friends I've made.

I blog because it's what I do. It's as much a part of me as drinking tea every morning or parting my hair on the right.

Are you curious what my first blog post was? The one after I said, hey, this is my blog? I'll have to share it with you tomorrow. I was surprised and laughed a little when I read it. I should have known it would be a short story.

I've been blogging so long, I started out on this.

Spring Has Sprung

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We didn't have a winter.

Wow. That was close. You nearly got me with that cup of coffee you threw at the screen. But before you click away in disgust, let me say not having a winter was a Very Bad Thing.

Wait! Put down your coffee and hear me out.

We're in the middle of a drought in my neck of the woods, a drought that has been exacerbated by the fact that except for a week or two of below freezing temperatures and a week total of rain, we've been floating between 60 and 85 for the last few months.

With no moisture.

This is not good, people.

Not only is it looking like there will be a severe water shortage, but our firefighters haven't had a break since fire season started last year. Lakes are dry, trees are one spark from igniting, and we're all searching the sky for a hint of clouds.

With the weirdness that is our weather, my internal clock is off.

It's mid March, the first day of spring, and I'm no where near ready to plant my garden. Usually by this year, I've spent hours poring over seed catalogs, discovering new computer programs, and growing the few vegetables that don't do well during our hot summer days: peas, lettuce, carrots, radishes.

Between the heat and the tomatoes not getting cleaned out of the garden until December, I'm behind already. My poor little winter garden is wilting and being eaten to the roots by garden pests I haven't had time to investigate.

I need a solid day of yard work, a day of weeding and watering. I need compost and amend my soil, sink gopher cages under the area where my tomatoes will go. I need a full day and probably a little help.

Both of which are in short supply.

In the meantime, I'll start to jot down my plan in my handy dandy journal. I'll hit up the nursery on my lunch breaks, and I'll re-arrange my evenings to give myself a little time to get out there.

Spring has sprung and I need to get to work.

Waiting and Worrying

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I got a text yesterday evening from my sister saying our dad was on his way to the hospital with a possible stroke.

The fact he was being transported by ambulance scared me more than the word "stroke". After all, my father is a tough old cowboy who scoffs as doctor's order, punches dentists, and is the reigning King of Unconcerned to my mom's Queen of Downplay.

We're talking the couple who called his four day hospitalization with pneumonia "a little sick", me running my foot over with a lawnmower "a little accident caused by not paying attention", and delivering me breech with no epidural "a tough one". Dad once rolled a huge truck loaded with wood down a 75' embankment, got out of the mangled vehicle, hitched a ride home and told mom his new coffee mug worked great because he didn't spill a drop.

For them to call an ambulance is not in character.

I waited by the phone for hours, waiting to see what the doctors would say, waiting to see if it was a heart attack or a stroke, trying to translate the downplay and make sense of the jumbled acronyms.

As it turned out, it was "only" a mild stroke. A "warning" for him to change his lifestyle to prevent a future stroke.

My father is a lover of whiskey, hand rolled cigarettes, and my mother. I hope the third will come in first because Lord knows he won't listen to his daughters.

Because daughters nag. Daughters fret. Daughters worry. Daughters try to walk the balance of keeping him around a little longer and not setting off the stubborn, bull headed streak we all inherited.

I took the day off from work in case I needed to go to Bakersfield. I don't so I'll go into work. I'll continue my day with the worry in the back of my brain like a tickle of awareness.

Because my dad? The man who can still split a log in one strike, the man who believes in honesty and the strength of a person's word, the man who nurses puppies and chicks and tiny critters, the grizzled old man who reads romance novels by the dozen? That guy needs to stay around. For a long time. I don't like the idea of a world without him.

That Time I Accidentally Did CC Math

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I've been hearing a lot of negative press on the "new math" the Common Core teaches. (Not to be confused with the old "new math".) While I've pretty much given up on helping people understand Common Core State Standards does not equal School District Implementation of Teaching Materials, the math photo confused me.

Because math usually confuses me.

You've all seen the picture.

I can't find the original source so can't link to it. If anyone knows where it started, I'd love to link back and provide all sort of traffic to the owner.

Moving onward...I found myself reluctantly agreeing...this new way of math seemed ridiculous.

Then, I accidentally did it.

When I was trying to buy eight somethings that cost $45 each, I wanted to smack my head against the wall because I'd forgotten my calculator. While I realize this is a simple math problem for some of you, please see the "math confuses me" notation in the above paragraph. In addition, my brain is currently filled with gods and goddesses, witches and wizardry. Oh. And Benedict Cumberbatch. Honestly, math just isn't happening.

Then I realized, I may actually know how to solve this math problem and the mental acrobats required of me is awfully similar to "new math" and I'm anything but "new".

In conclusion, if anyone is still upset and up in arms over the this newfangled version of math, consider admittedly non-math person uses the same formula in her head in dire situations. In other words, we're all doing it already. Why not teach it?

So I'm an Iron Chef

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Last weekend, I got a tattoo - of the temporary variety...

I donned my apron and covered my hair with a bandanna.

I even put on a pair of sweet little earrings.

All in an effort to become the first Iron Chef of our local high school. In a twist from the typical fundraiser, my office was tapped to form a team (or two, as it turned out) to compete in a cooking challenge judged by three local chefs and including a secret ingredient revealed less than 24 hours prior to the start time. In this case, that secret ingredient was espresso powder.

Let me back up a bit...

I work with women who cook and cook very, very well. As for me, well, it's no secret I like to cook strange and unusual things I'll never attempt again.

Seemed like the perfect trio for an Iron Chef competition.

And, because we're persuasive, we talked our bosses into forming their own team.

By the time Saturday rolled around, I was losing sleep over the menu. I don't know how professional chefs do it prior to competing. I was a basket case of nerves and measurement conversions.

We unpacked our boxes of supplies and ingredients as trash talk flowed freely. Then we waited. I danced from foot to foot, shaking out my hands as the teen in a red jacket, holding an iPhone with the stopwatch display, counted us down to our start time.

We were off.

I've never participated in a food competition. I had no idea it would be so exhausting and nerve wracking. We scurried around our island, blending, mixing, shredding, sauteing. We were a whirlwind of activity and suddenly before we had a chance to do much more than breathe, our time keeper was back, counting down the seconds as we frantically plated our first dish:

Southwestern Egg Rolls with an Espresso BBQ dipping sauce

We fretted as we saw the judges take a bite and then down big gulps of water. Had we added to much chili? Why weren't they using the dipping sauce which had been formulated to complement the heat of the egg rolls.

With hardly a pause we continued to the main course. A mere fifteen minutes in, we heard the timer give the five minute warning to the kitchen two away from us. Knowing we were staggered five minutes apart, we sent a student runner to ask the teacher what was going on. We had, we thought, an hour to prepare the main dish.

Apparently we missed the memo shortening the time to a half hour.

Frantically I tried to turn the left over cornbread into corn cakes knowing the cast iron skillet in the oven wasn't going to finish in time. The cakes burned, sending black smoke spiraling into the air seconds before our time buzzed.

Thankfully our entree was plated even if it was missing the side of cornbread. What we ended up with?

Buffalo and black bean chili with espresso and dark chocolate.

The honey lime and cilantro cornbread came out minutes later to the delight of the students and audience eating the left overs.

Jumping into dessert, we suddenly realized the timing was a this inaugural competition. We had an hour, somehow finding the half hour deducted from our entree.


So were we.

So we had a margarita.

(Virgin because we were on a school campus.)

I pulled the ice cream I'd started back at the beginning of the competition and Val pulled our her famous double fudge espresso brownies. You see where this is going, don't you.

With time to spare, we plated our dessert.

Double fudge espresso brownie topped with espresso Heath bar ice cream and a drizzle of espresso ganache.

It was a hit.

Also, you'll note I have no pictures. This is because the entire experience was so fast and furious we barely had time to breathe let alone snap a photo or two.

In the end, we walked away with the trophy and bragging rights.

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