Archives for November 2015

When I Publish for Others, I Am Rich

My friend, Cynthia, had ALS for ten years. Before she died last fall, she published a non-fiction book that is still read and cherished by all her friends and family. We, a team of friends, made this book happen for Cynthia.

Another book came into being this year. My middle school students wrote stories all during the school year, and now they have those stories in a book. That book is in their school library and in their homes. Together, we, a team of the students, their families and me, made that happen as well.

I look back on this last year with pleasure in accomplishing those two publications. These are publications, done out of love, and they have brought pride and joy to their authors and to all of us involved.

Three years ago, I took a class in layout and design using Microsoft Styles. My first non-fiction book, was designed by Bruce Taylor Hamilton, then the editor of the Oregon Historical Society Press. From working with Bruce, I knew that I could use InDesign to do what I wanted to do. My choice to use Microsoft Styles wasn’t a choice between good and bad design programs. It was a choice between affordable and not affordable over the long range.

Anthology 2015This year, when I designed the anthology for the middle school students, I was able to bring their writing dreams to fruition, giving them the feeling that all their sweat had been worth sharing with friends and family. The book was a team effort. The students’ selfies became the basis of the book cover, designed by graphic artist, Owyn Richen. Their books were printed at the Mount Hood Community College Print shop, shepherded by Sci-fi author, Theresa Snyder.

And then into my life came the opportunity to use my design skills with another team.

I discovered that OWC member, Gail Black, had collected the emails of our friend Cynthia Greene. Gail had recognized the significance of these emails back when Cynthia could still talk and write. Gail printed out the emails and organized them chronologically. As time went on, Gail and Cynthia added short stories that Cynthia typed on her special communication devices. As Cynthia lost her voice and the ease of finger typing, these stories came more slowly, but each one was a joy to Cynthia’s friends and family.

The early emails were the story of sailing adventures of Cynthia and her husband, David. For several years, they sailed around Mexico in the Pacific Ocean and in the Sea of Cortez. Cynthia and David encountered storms, engine troubles. They weathered, and helped clean up after Hurricane Marty hit Mexico. Each obstacle forced them to reach deep into themselves to solve problems and roll with the big waves. Their motto became, “The difference between ordeal and adventure is attitude.”

Their sailboat, Reaching Deep, referred, at first, to reaching deep water, but took on an especially poignant meaning when Cynthia discovered her many symptoms were ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. From that time on, Cynthia and Dave had to exercise their courage and resourcefulness in ever deeper seas.

Reaching Deep

When I saw Cynthia’s emails, I knew they should become a book. Cynthia imagined a book for her grandchildren, but it has since become sought after by all who knew her struggle to test the limits of life with ALS.

Scanned documents require cleanup. The scan program thinks every paper wrinkle must be a letter and the program misreads fonts it hasn’t been taught to recognize.

So after much editing and word guessing, my bleary-eyed self sent the digitized and designed manuscript to Cynthia’s daughter-in-law, Cindy Greene and her sister Kiki Klipfel who caught and fixed many scan misunderstandings and misspellings.

Owyn Richen came to the fore again, using photos of Cynthia and David, and Amazon’s Create Space cover-maker program to teach his mom how to create a cover.

The teamwork in both of these books created a network of caring for the students and then for Cynthia and her family. The pleasure of those friendships, the opportunities to share joy, accomplishment and even grief has made each of us a richer person. I’m very thankful to the authors and each person who worked to make these publications a reality.

Eating Well After the Earthquake?

A Flashlight Aided Study (of My Food Pantry)

Okay, gang, here’s a little perspective on long-range planning. What food would you want on your shelves if an emergency took out your electric stove, your refrigerator and your microwave?
In my canning cupboard, deep in the basement, I pull out my battery-powered flashlight. Cans of pears, peaches and beans shine out at me, but also, I see rows of dishes that aren’t often used, and little figurines that once belonged to my mother.
I know what I don’t want to see in here – cans of USDA Approved School-Lunch Spinach. Sorry, Pop-eye, but your taste runs to tin. I also don’t want to be picking canned food out of shards of pottery and china. I need to store the dishes and figurines somewhere away from our emergency food supply. That’s a clear job for my half-hour* of weekly house cleaning.

Note: move dishes away from food

Note: move dishes away from food

My friends, what’s in your storage supply? What will your family really eat after the emergency. How will you cook it?

Ideas from two family foodies
Our sisters, Tammy and Marilyn, have been teasing me about getting ready for the earthquake. Yes, they were among those who received a water barrel and pump for Christmas. I asked if each family would like to have the water barrels. Tammy and Marilyn were delighted with the idea. So their teasing is not passive aggression. It’s just having fun with my project.For my birthday, Marilyn and Tammy invested in a sack full of canned goods they believed I should have.

A Book Discovery
In addition, I received a cookbook about eating well after the power goes out. Marilyn, volunteers at Title Wave – the resale store for the Multnomah County Library. When she saw the title Apocalypse Chow, she could not pass it up. It seemed the perfect book to add to their joking around about my plans for family survival. The book turns out to be a great addition to the project.
Apocalypse Chow cover
Apocalypse Chow is written by Jon Robertson, with Robin Robertson. It was published in 2005 by Simon Spotlight Entertainment, of Simon and Schuster. Yes, that’s Jon, writer and publisher, and Robin the chef of Global Vegan Kitchen. Tanja Thorjussen’s drawings add a lot of homey character and clarity to the book.*
It turns out that the Robertsons live in Virginia, so have survived several hurricanes, some with more grace and pre-planning than others. Collecting all they have learned about survival and grace in this 246 page volume, Jon has written a very usable and often funny book encouraging the rest of us to plan to have food we will be able to cook with minimal fuel and water. He also encourages us to take a good look at our eating preferences and our snobberies as we shop for the staples we will use in the AFTERS. Buy what your family will eat with pleasure because there will be a lot of other things to cause angst.
Apocalypse Chow contains some surprising lists, including several that encourage the family chef to visit various ethnic markets and stock up on great, non-perishable items. These change-of-pace foods will keep the family from becoming jaded on Boston Baked Beans.
Grilling and boiling tips, storage ideas and a cast of 15 minute recipes are featured in Jon Robertson’s readable, humorous and important book.
Apocalypse Chow is available new and used. I have ordered five more copies (yes the sisters will be getting a copy for a birthday or half-birthday*, as well. You will enjoy it, too. And its lists, if heeded, will give you a better survival kit than the basics list that Homeland Security might have recommended.

*Half-hour a week house cleaning? I am my mother’s daughter and learned efficiency from her. Best house-cleaning tip she gave me? Take off your glasses. To the nearsighted, the clean and the unclean fuzz into soft color and fine texture.
* Tanja Thorjussen’s drawings add clarity? Thanks, Tanya for clarity on what Jon meant by a wine box to use for food storage. We at RichenHaus buy wine by the bottle and were therefore imagining an empty wine-party box. Jon had in mind a wooden container for twelve one litre bottles to use for storage.
*Half birthdays? Well, any excuse to give something important to those I love.