About CC

C.C. Hunter

Staying Young and Young at Heart

Back in the nineties, hubby and I went to Hong Kong.  While there, I saw an elderly man standing beside a light pole and he reached down to his ankle with one hand and stretched his leg up, all the way up, and over his head.  Basically, he was doing the splits while standing on one foot.  I was awed and without even meaning to I blurted out the question, “How can you do that?”

Sounding very wise he said, “The secret is to never stop doing something.”

Now that I’m on the downward slide of fifty, I think about that piece of advice that I didn’t follow.  I walk almost every day for about 40 minutes, so I’m not one who doesn’t exercise.  But I admit there are some things I wish I hadn’t stopped doing.

On occasion, I’ll turn on some music and dance around like I was fifteen at a sock hop.  And yes, the next day my muscles are screaming at me that I don’t move things around enough.  Then not so long ago, I bought my granddaughter a hula hoop.  I slipped it over my head to show off my moves, and was dearly disappointed when I couldn’t even get the thing spinning. So, I think I’m going to try dancing and hula hooping more often.  

But it’s not just the physical stuff I think we neglect as the years tick by.  I recall the saying: We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.  I do believe writing helps keep my mind fresh and my outlook young.  But not everyone writes. I think reading can offer some of the same benefits.  I know a lot of people who are enjoying going back to their childhood hobby of coloring.  Or pulling out the old board games.  

There’s a country western song with a line I heard that I really like,  “When was the last time, you did something for the first time?”

I know that a lot of you are still teens. Well, heed the advice of never stopping anything. If you are older, what do you do to keep your body and mind young?  Have you done something for the first time lately?  Any hula hoop advice?

Dreams

This blog was published several years back but I thought it was interesting. So enjoy!

Just the other night I had a dream.  A bad one.  Okay, let me just call it what it was, a nightmare. I woke up, heart racing, unable to breath.  I was at an airport and someone had stolen my purse, my phone and my ticket.  I wasn’t even sure which airport or how I’d gotten there.  Or where I was going. Now, I had my clothes on, because I have those dreams too where I’m naked and afraid, but even with my clothes on in this dream, I got so upset. I felt completely lost.  Unsure of myself. I admit, I didn’t like that dream.

But not all dreams are bad. Several times in my life, I’ve dreamed that I was flying.  Man was that a high.  It made me feel unstoppable. Yes, dreams can be powerful. They can make us feel elated, unhappy or as with the airport dream, terrified. Did you know some statistics state that the average human spends six years of their life dreaming? Except for a few people with psychological problems, they claim everyone dreams. You may not remember your dreams, but you still dream.

Some people look to their dreams for signs, for something that can help or even warn them in their waking life. I kind of believe that.  I think the airport dream is about me feeling lost because I’ve been writing something different.  I feel a little unsure as to where I’m going with this new project.  So my takeaway from the dream is that I need to stop questioning myself.  Remind myself that it’s okay to try something new, maybe relook at my plot to confirm I’m on the right path.

In doing some research on dreams, I found some interesting facts.  Men and women dream differently? Men are more likely to have violent and aggressive dreams and they dream more about other men, about 70% of the dream characters in a man’s dream are men. On the other hand, women dream about women and men equally. See, we females believe in equal opportunity.

In a survey, it was found that between 18-38% of people have experienced at least one precognitive (future sight-acquisition of future information) dream and 70% experienced déjà vu. In addition, 63-98% of people believe that it’s possible to have a precognitive dream.

I have a friend, who is a psychologist who says when you dream of someone, that person is really you.  To interpret the dream, ask yourself how you view this person.  If she a little shy and timid, the dream is trying to tell you something about that part of you that is shy and timid.

In This Heart of Mine, Leah MacKenzie has some really scary nightmares. She’s pretty sure Eric, the organ donor for her heart, is trying to tell her something through her dreams. She’s ready to discount them until she discovers Eric’s twin brother Matt is having the same dreams.

Escaping into a Series

With the sheltering place and all the unrest spilling in from the news lately, hubby and I have found we need some mental escape. We are both readers and we do that, but we needed something more.  We found binge watching shows is helping us escape.  It needed to appeal to both of us.  My friend recommended Longmire.  I recalled seeing some of it when it was on regular TV.  So, after dinner and reading time, we went to Netflix and watched Sheriff Walt Longmire solve murder after murder all the while trying to get the relationships in his life right. I loved the western ambience mingled with the suspense. I loved Walt’s characterization and watching him deal with the grief of losing his wife.   

I was sad when we finished it.  So sad that it made me realize that by binge watching a show, I get closer to the characters. So close, it’s similar to what I do with characters in a book. When we finished Longmire, I knew I was going to miss my good buddies, Walt and Henry.  And like I do with characters in books, I kind of miss them and still think about them.

Well, that same friend recommended another show.  She assured me that if I liked Longmire, I’d like Justified. And she hit the nail on the head with that one, too. While I know it’s not really a western show, I love the ambiance—small town crazy—that it portrays. The suspense, with flawed, yet relatable characters, and the use of humor in the show is fabulous. The blended tone of suspense, romance, and whacky off-the-wall humor is what I love writing. What I love reading.  What I love watching.   

And dare I say that Timothy Olyphant is easy on the eyes. 

I know most of us find comfort by falling into a book.  But is there a show you have discovered in these hard times that entertains you and makes you forget what’s happening in the world?  Have you watched Longmire and Justified? If not binge watching, what is it other than reading that offers you an escape? Do you read in the same genre that you watch on television? 

Southern Sandwiches

Because of my hubby compromised immune system, we are still sheltering in place.  Which means, no going out to eat.  So forgive me if my post have been focused on food lately, but I’m stuck in the kitchen cooking way more than should be allowed. 

Two weeks I talked about the craziest fried food.  In that post, I mentioned fried Bologna and it got me thinking about the things we slap between two pieces of white bread and call lunch.  Being from Alabama, I remember being served a fried spam sandwich.  The thought kind of makes me a little green now.  

That said, the south just seems to have more than their share of odd sandwiches—especially those of the sweet and savory varieties.  

In my book, Blame it on Texas, the heroine was fixing herself a sandwich and offered to do the same for the hero.  When she asked what kind of sandwich he wanted, he replied, “I’ll take whatever you’re making for yourself.”  Big mistake. Let’s just say it was a funny scene when he bit into the southern delicacy of banana and mayo on white bread.  Poor guy, no matter how much he wanted to pretend to enjoy it, he couldn’t swallow it.  Nope.  Couldn’t do it.

We also ate can pineapple and mayo sandwiches.  I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of fruit sandwiches.  Unless you consider tomato to be a fruit.  And yes, I know it is, but that’s different.  If you start talking bad about mater and mayo on white bread, well, those are fighting words.  I love, LOVE, me a mater sandwich, extra mayo and heavily sprinkled with salt and pepper.  Now I insist, the mater needs to be fresh, and if it’s so fresh you can taste the sunshine on it, well, it’s to die for. 

Of course, in the south, they eat a lot of peanut butter and banana sandwiches.  My father would put mayo on it too.  Not me.  Nope.  But I had cousins who ate banana, mayo and potato chip sandwiches.   Or banana, bacon and mayo.  Yes, bacon is a southern stable, but let’s keep it away from fruit, maters excluded.   Then there’s peanut butter and onion sandwiches.  I’ll pass on that one.  My father was known to enjoy a pickle and mayo sandwich.  

How many of you have dined on a banana and mayo sandwich?  What is the oddest thing you slapped between two pieces of bread and call lunch?

Step Away From the Deep Fryer!

Being from Alabama, I grew up on fried chicken, chicken fried steak, fried potatoes, fried green tomatoes, fried Okra, fried squash, fried bologna and fried pickles.  Notice the key word here is … fried.  Yup, in Alabama we fry stuff.  I’m amazed we haven’t figured out a way to fry Sweet Tea.  Or maybe they do fry it?

Not that Alabama is the only one who fancies frying.  Recently my adopted state, Texas, had a state fair with a deep-fried menu that left almost nothing to the imagination.  We’re talking fried butter, fried beer—seriously?—fried coke—do they have that in diet?—fried jelly beans, and fried peanut butter banana cheeseburgers.  (If your head is spinning at the last one, you aren’t alone.)  How about some fried salsa?  Or you could tickle your taste buds with some fried kool-aid, fried pizza or a fried pop tart.  Not to your liking?  How about some fried pig ears?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer that a little batter and a lot of hot oil can make anything tastes twice a good. But I do believe we might have taken it to the limit.  And as much as I like touting the southern states, we aren’t the only frying fools.  

And I think I have a winner for the state offering up the most absolutely-absurd deep-fried item.  You ready?  Arizona touts their fried scorpions.  You want that plain or with chocolate sauce?  My response… are you freaking kidding?  I refuse to batter and fry anything that I’d yank my shirt off in public if it accidentally crawled on me.  Yeah, I know China is famous for their backyard creatures-turned-snack-options, like crickets, grasshoppers and lizards.  And I’ll turn my southern nose up to them, too, but scorpions?  No.  Just no!

I’ll confess, I’ve eaten fried Oreos, fried Twinkies and even fried gator.  The last was not my favorite. What’s the craziest fried food you’ve sampled, or even heard of?  Are you brave when it comes to trying new delicacies or do you have a sensitive palate? 

On My Mind…

The subject has always been an issue, but recently it’s become more of an issue for me.  I’m talking about expiration dates.  I checked and found out that they only started appearing on our food in 1970.  But honestly, I don’t remember my mom ever checking dates when I grew up. 

To be honest, she still doesn’t.  I visited her in California several years ago and was making a sandwich.  When I went to spread the mayonnaise, I noticed it looked funny.  I checked the date and it expired three years ago.  THREE YEARS!!!  

“Are you trying to kill me?” I asked Mom.  I went for the mustard, but it was even older.  As I cleaned out her fridge, I reminded her of all the times she’d called me to say her stomach had been upset.  Then I went through her pantry and wow.  She had cans of food that was old enough to get their driver’s permit. 

She claimed she didn’t even know canned food had expiration dates.  I think the only reason my brothers and I are alive today is because we were a family of five and food didn’t last that long.

When I got back to Texas, I went through my pantry.  Lurking in the dark back corners, I found a can of black beans that should at least have been in kindergarten.

The expiration-date issue is on my mind because I’m doing a lot more cooking.  But mostly because I’m ordering my groceries and having them delivered.  The milk they brought us today has a three-day life expectancy.  The flour tortillas and the dozen eggs has four days.  Something about the whole quarantine dilemma has made me not want to waste food.  So, I’m going to be drinking milk and eating breakfast tacos for the next few days.     

Because my hubby has a compromised immune system due to his transplant drugs, we have to be extra cautious.  But I know a lot of people who treat expiration dates as merely recommendations.  They say, “Oh, those are sell-by dates.”  And yes, I know that’s true, but especially now with the shortage of toilet paper, I’m not taking a chance. Honestly, I’ve always tossed out milk the day before the expiration date. I never was big on the this-tastes-funny-try-it-and-tell-me-if-it’s-bad line.  If I even feel the need to do a sniff test, I usually toss it out.

How about you?  Are you sniff tester? A taste tester?  When’s the last time you checked your pantry for expired food?  Do you abide by the expiration dates or do you treat them like a suggestion?  On what products do you least take the expiration date seriously? 

Oh, Those Titles!

Titles are important. They set the tone of the book.  I’m working on an adult series, a Western Romantic Suspense, and I’m proud of my title:  Secrets of Sweet Mesquite. For C.C. Hunter I have one titled, Sole Survivor. 

But when I started thinking about titles, I couldn’t help but to think about song titles. Being quarantined I had some time on my hands, so I googled a few. And let’s just say I spent about an hour with tears in my eyes.  There are some songs with titles that brought some powerful emotions out of me.

For starters, Johnny Cash sang  a real heart tugger, “Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart.” All I can say is, hmmm. Roger Miller sang one with a title that kind of baffled me, “You Can’t Rollerskate in a Buffalo Herd.” 

Trace Adkins entertained hundreds with one song titled, “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.”  And the song has some lyrics worth mentioning, “Got it going on like Donkey Kong. Shut my mouth. Slap your grandma.”  Now I’m betting Grandma didn’t appreciate that.  I think I heard that song, but I still don’t know what it’s about.

But that bit of lyrics had me thinking about a Christmas song, “Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer,” sang by Elmo and Patsy. I love that song.  Sorry Grandma.

Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty sang one with a title that really spoke the truth,  “You’re the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly.”  David Allan Coe harmonized to one clever melody, “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” and some of the lyrics are worth mentioning: “Well, I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison, and I went to pick her up in the rain. But before I could get to the station in my pickup truck, she got runned over by a darned old train.”  Yeah, wow! That’s a head scratcher.

Now, Frank Zappa sang one with a title that had some good advice in it that I do follow, “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow.”  The Cramps also had one that offered some counsel I try to abide by, “Don’t Eat the Stuff Off the Sidewalk.”

Aaron Wilburn gave meaning to a real love song that every woman would love to hear, “If My Nose was Running Money, I’d Blow it All on You.”  But Ruby Wright made my heart heavy with one titled, “Billy Broke My Heart at Walgreens And I Cried all the Way to Sears.” I’d love to add some lyrics to it, “But I found someone new and was happy as a daisy before I got to Macys.”  (Maybe I’ll stick to writing books and not songs.)  

Dan Hicks had a song with great title that would make a good quarantine song, “How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away.” Frank Serafino, had a real love ballad titled, “If I’d Shot You When I’d Wanted to, I’d Be Out by Now.” That might be a quarantine song too.

Jimmy Buffett’s song title, “If the Phone Doesn’t Ring, You’ll Know it’s Me,” made me crack a smile.  Bill Anderson sang one with the title, “Walk Out Backwards,” and the lyrics read: “When you leave, walk out backwards, so I’ll think you’re walking in.”  I think she left due to his drinking, don’t you?

How about… “May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose” by Little Jimmie Dickens,

Last but not least, Billy Walker sang one titled, “I’m so Miserable Without You, It’s Almost Like Having You Here.”  Do you know any funny song titles or lyrics?  Let’s have a chuckle.

Lost My Culinary Mojo

I’m from Alabama, which means by the time I was sink high, I knew how to fry a mean bird, mash a tator, and press a pie crust. I even like to cook. It’s one of those chores that relaxes me.  The hands-are-busy-mind’s-on-a-mini-vacation kind. And not bragging or anything, I’m not bad at it.  But I like to play Martha Stewart when I want to play Martha Stewart. Not because some spiky virus named after a beer takes the dinner-out option off the table. 

And my lack of inspiration has materialized in some of my less-than-glowing meals.  Hubby knows better than to complain—I didn’t marry an idiot—but that doesn’t stop him from snickering. Especially when I set the fire alarm off the second time. Do you know how bad burnt cabbage smells?  And how long that scent hangs on?

I’ve tried getting my culinary mojo back by trying some new recipes. I posted about this on Facebook and got some great recipes.  Below I’m posting a link to one that I tried and enjoyed. It is to Crispy Hasselback Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic. Yummy. (Thank you to authors Laura Drake and Cynthia D’Alba.)

How are you faring in the kitchen?  Any cooking calamities? How about new recipes that might help keep the culinary gods on my side or chase the smell of scorched dog fart out of my house? 

https://tinyurl.com/ybtbe3bh

How will this change us?

My grandmother went through the Great Depression and it left her with a waste-not-want-not mentality.  In addition, her father had died when she was eight and there were six siblings, so I’m pretty sure there were nights she went to bed hungry.  

Even in her eighties, she wouldn’t throw anything away.  I loved that woman, but eating at her house was more dangerous than eating sushi on a clearance rack at a convenience store. You never knew how old something was.  God forbid she cleaned out her fridge the day you came over.  We were taught to never eat her soup.  The family even named it, fridge-clean soup. And it wasn’t just food she fretted over.  She reused aluminum foil, and if someone didn’t dirty up their paper napkin too much, she’d use it again.

When at restaurants, she’d guiltily slip a few packets of sugar in her purse.  And if she had more than a bite of a sandwich left, she’d put that in her purse too.  

I still remember when hubby and I flew to Florida for him to meet her.  Before arriving, we picked up a few groceries and he bought cranberry juice. When he went to get some later, she’d poured half of it into another bottle and added water so the juice would last twice as long.  I told him like I was told growing up, “It’s not really her fault, she went through the Great Depression.”

Now, while I haven’t ever gone to bed hungry—except for nights when I stayed over at Grandma’s house—I’m wondering how the corona virus is going to change me? Already I buy extra when ordering my groceries.  I mean, why not have some extra can tuna or chicken in the pantry?  And when I get an option to buy a larger portion of anything, I go with the large one without even thinking.  My friends are telling me that they too are fighting the compulsion to stock up on things. 

It’s not just the food issues either.  Texas is slowly opening up, but with hubby on immune suppressant drugs, we are still sheltering in place.  And I wonder how long it will be before I’ll really feel safe standing in a crowd.  Others tell me they will forever be aware of handwashing. 

I can’t help but wonder if when I’m in my eighties someone will say, “It’s not really her fault, she went through the corona virus.”

Do you think this time is going to tweak your behavior?  What will you do, or view differently when this has passed? What item will you stock up on after this is over? 

Ten things to do that can boost your mood.

  1. Listen to music.  Happy music lifts your spirit, but they say sad music provides emotional release.  Maybe even listen to music you normally wouldn’t. And sing along with the music. Singing lifts your spirits.
  2. Connect with strangers.  (In person, at a social distance, or do it online.  Reach out to someone you normally don’t reach out to. People are lonely right now, try offering the gift of conversation.)
  3. Stay connected, at a distance.  We have been doing happy hours and even dinners out, or I should say dinners outside, on our front porch.  Everyone brings their own food, drinks, and serving ware.  Sort of a picnic. We sit about ten feet away and enjoy visiting.
  4. Make someone else smile.  Like a yawn is contagious, so is a smile.
  5. Find beautiful things to look at. Several studies have been done that prove just looking at beautiful things reduces stress and creates calm.  Try searching online for beautiful images. Or simply look around.  Hubby and I have been walking and a while back he said, “You know how people who live by the ocean stop appreciating the beauty of it?  Well, we have all these beautiful trees and I think we forgot they are beautiful.”  So, we’re trying to appreciate our surrounding a little more.
  6. Count your blessings. I know, this is a very trying time, but we can all find something in our lives to be thankful for. And if you can, give to help others.  
  7. Work a puzzle.  While the hands are busy, the mind can wander, or focus.  I have worked two jigsaw puzzles during the last few weeks.  Experts say that while we work on puzzles, or brain is sorting and making sense of random patterns.  We aren’t consciously aware of the work.  We focus more on images and shapes which are more pleasurable. It’s sort of a brain vacation.
  8. Read.  You knew I was going to list this, right?  Reading is an escape and like music, you can read a funny book to give you a boost or even a sad one to offer emotional release.  
  9. Use this time to learn something new.  Learning not only opens your mind, but it feeds your soul.  Even if all you do is watch a documentary on something, it can give you a learning high.
  10.  Take care of yourself.  It’s hard right now to eat healthy and to exercise, but the truth is we feel better when we are eating right and staying active. I don’t think we should constantly be depriving ourselves during this time, but don’t let yourself go off the deep end and neglect your health.  

What are you doing to chase away the blues during this difficult time?