Friday, November 25, 2011

'Tis the season: a great inexpensive gift idea!

Can there be a better gift than something that gives pleasure reliably, for hours and that will appeal to nearly everybody? That can be enjoyed over and over and lasts forever? That can be shared with others? And can be found easily, and delivered free, right from your computer? And for which the recipient will admire your thoughtfulness and perspicacity?

There IS such a gift, and at less than $3, it's easy to give one to yourself, and to friend after friend!

From now through the Christmas season, the story of Ana Darcy, the extraterrestrial everyone would love to meet and take to lunch, is on sale!

For the people on your gift list who have one of the many Kindle models, or the free Kindle for PC, send them this Distant Cousin!

If they have Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, or other e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, etc., or Palm reading devices, send them this Distant Cousin!

Readers comment:

"I loved this book...I loved some of your ideas. Thank you for writing. It is such a pleasure to read a book that provides entertainment and a sense of wonder. This is time well spent!"

"I am up to Book 3 of the Distant Cousin series and I really recommend these books for anyone wanting something fun and engaging. I have been reading them each night for almost a week and am becoming distressed the Book 3 is almost over. I have many books waiting on my Kindle to read, but I hate to leave Ana Darcy and her story."

"I just finished book 3 and can hardly wait for the next to see what happens next. I have thoroughly enjoyed [them]....I loved Ana Darcy. She is a very believable heroine."

"I just finished Distant Cousin and loved it! I can't wait to read the rest of the series. Great storyline, loveable characters, I really liked seeing how the characters developed and their interactions with eachother. I was pulled into the story and wanted to stay there."


Friday, November 18, 2011

Spanish food? A tortilla??

The Méndez family, before Ana Darcy became a part of it, being good New Mexicans, had never heard of a "Spanish tortilla." It wasn't long after that Ana (from another planet, after all) joined them, exercising her powerful curiosity about the cuisines of the world. She discovered this simple, savory dish--thanks to her Spanish professor friend, Charo Silva (in Distant Cousin).

The photo above shows most of what one needs to know about it: it's a sort of omelet, with potato cubes and onions sauteed in a pan, and an egg slurry poured over them. There's no need for a recipe here--they are easy to find with any search engine. The picture is worth many words.

The Méndez clan like theirs with their favorite salsa on top, but we have it on good authority that many Spaniards slather theirs with homemade mayonnaise or aioli!

There are many more recipe ideas in the right column under the photo of cranberry-apple pie, including:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

El Paso from Scenic Drive

Mount Franklin (above) is the southernmost of the Rocky Mountains, and divides the city of El Paso in half. The view above looks south, as the tip of the mountain drops down to the pass ("el paso") to the right. Scenic Drive, the 1930-era CCC-built road across the mountain, is visible as the lighter line across the side. The photos below show the view from the observation point, approximately at the leftmost point where the road heads down the far side of the mountain. (For more detail, right click any photo to open in another tab.)

Below is the view from the observation point to the south, along the border. Fort Bliss, the Army base where Ana spent some unhappy time in Distant Cousin, is just out of the picture to the left. Right center, the dark, wide highway is Interstate Highway 10, heading east to San Antonio and Dallas. That too is important in Distant Cousin. The tower in the distance, far right, is at the Chamizal Monument, commemorating a treaty agreement between the United States and Mexico. To the right of that is Mexico.

Turning to the right from the above photo and zooming a bit, we see downtown El Paso with Ciudad Juarez behind it. Left center is one of the international bridges between Mexico and the United States. Somewhere in that maze in the distance is one of the venues in Distant Cousin: Regeneration.

Naturally, if you are at the tip of a mountain range you can see to both sides and straight ahead, but not very far back on either side. Below is about as far to the west as can be seen. The University of Texas at El Paso is barely visible on the right. The mountains opposite are on the other side of the pass, in Mexico. The city of Juarez spreads left to right, on the other side of El Paso. Its population is estimated at three to four times the size of El Paso's, which is 750,000.

See more pictures of West Texas, southern New Mexico, and other venues from the Distant Cousin stories in the column to the right, under the picture of the blue-eyed kitty--->

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The View from El Paso's Trans-Mountain Road

The Rio Grande flows south the length of New Mexico, along the Rocky Mountains to the east, finally passing through the Mesilla Valley before it reaches El Paso, Texas, where it becomes the border between the United States and Mexico as it flows on to the Gulf of Mexico, over 1,000 miles south. The nearest airport to Las Cruces is in El Paso, on the other side of those mountains. To get there, one can either drive through the pass ("El Paso") or take a more recent, spectacular shortcut through the mountains on the Woodrow Bean Trans-Mountain Road.

Ana and Matt have taken the Trans-Mountain Road many times. Ana particularly likes to stop at the observation point to admire the scenic vista. She is from the planet Thomo, after all, and this vantage point, over a mile in elevation and with the horizon over 100 miles away, gives her the unmistakeable impression that she is on a planet, something that does not seem quite as obvious in a forest, for example, or a city. The family enjoyed a fun bicycle ride down this road in Distant Cousin: Reincarnation.

The photo above shows the Rocky Mountains spreading south from Las Cruces (out of the photo to the top left perhaps 40 miles) towards El Paso, which leads south from the bottom of the picture. The Trans-Mountain road can be seen crossing the mountains. The red dot shows the approximate location of the observation point. (Right click any photo to another tab for more detail.) Several mountain-top vistas of El Paso to the south are visible elsewhere--see below.

The next three photos show the view from the observation point, left to right. The green band is the river valley; closer to the camera are small towns, farms, businesses, and roads, including IH 10. Compare to the photo above. Those green fields, only a few miles further north, include the extensive irrigated pecan groves the area is famous for. The Mendez family lives there, just south of Las Cruces. The two peaks on the horizon in the second photo below are Cox Peak and Mount Riley, hills, really, rather than mountains. They are roughly 35 miles distant. On the other side of the river is the Chihuahuan Desert.

See also many ground-level photos in the column on the right, under the picture of the blue-eyed kitty