Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Good Ride, Cowboy

I haven't posted here since December! Don't even know if I have any readers left.

Last month, we lost a dear friend of ours who you might know from my book, Tales from the Trail. Bucky was featured in many of the stories and had a profound influence on me as a wrangler and a rider.

He lived a life that no one would believe, and many would envy. Not because he was money-rich (not by a long shot), but because he lived his life as an adventure. He truly loved his life: his wife, sons, and his horses. Within mere moments, people fell under the charm of this "old cowboy".

My heart is broken for his family, his friends, and the people who missed out on meeting him. The world lost one of a dying breed.

There is a more thorough post about Bucky on my other blog, Wilsons' Wild Ones if you'd like to read more about this larger-than-life human.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Potato Enchiladas

One of my family's favorite "special occasion" foods is my grandma's potato enchiladas. Truth be told, they are about as "poor man's food" as you can get, but they are delicious. A few years ago, after Grandma Mary died, I got a wild hair up my butt to make these for our Christmas Eve celebration. They were a big hit, and Jay and I have been making them every Christmas Eve since.

I tried to get to the bottom of where the recipe came from, as it seems that only my family (and friends we have introduced them to) have ever eaten them. The consensus is that it came from either Grandma Mary or her mother, Great-grandma Claudia, in trying to feed all of the mouths in the family. They are made of ingredients that were cheap and readily available. The most expensive ingredient in the dish was/is the cheese, which back then came from the "commodities people" (a.k.a. the food pantry).

However, despite the recipe being invented out of necessity, it is a family favorite and I'm glad Grandma Mary taught me how to make them. Jay and I have cleaned up the recipe a bit, to make it a touch healthier, while maintaining the same flavors as the original.

  • 3 dozen flour tortillas (Grandma, of course, made hers from scratch, but I'm lazy)
  • 5# potatoes (we use russet, but it doesn't matter which you use)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced (optional)
  • 1 c. peas (we use frozen, Grandma used canned)
  • shredded cheese
  • garlic olive oil
  • vegetable oil
  • chili powder
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • salt
  • pepper 

Dice potatoes, coat with garlic olive oil, toss with salt and pepper, then spread on baking sheets and roast in a 400*F oven until cooked through, about 40 minutes.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large pan. Add roasted potatoes, peas, and chili powder paste (see below). Cook for just a couple of minutes, until peas are thawed.

Make a paste of chili powder, garlic powder, and onion powder. I have no idea of the measurements (remember, this was a recipe handed down from my Mexican grandmother, who measured things by guess and by golly), but it's about a 4:1:1 ratio of chili powder to garlic and onion powders. Add enough water to make a paste.

Dunk a tortilla into the paste, coating both sides, and quick-fry in a hot skillet with vegetable oil (Grandma used lard), drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Fill tortillas with potato mixture, shredded cheese, and raw diced onion (if desired). Roll and place in baking dishes. Thin chili powder paste with water to use as a sauce to pour over the rolled enchiladas. Cover with shredded cheese and bake in 350*F oven for 15-20 minutes.

Look at the mess on the stove from quick-frying and cry, then begin to clean. You have just enough time to clean the mess while the enchiladas are baking.

Friday, August 19, 2016

2016 Writers' Police Academy - Thursday

I managed to get out of the house long before the sun even thought of making an appearance the morning we were to depart for Wisconsin. A quick stop to pick up a friend of mine, and we were off to the airport.

After about a half a day of travel, we arrived at our destination: Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, Wisconsin. My first impression as we stepped out of the airport was that Green Bay was hot and wet. My Colorado body is not used to drinking its air.

We had a couple of hours of down time before the afternoon "welcome" activities began, so we curled up in a couple of chairs in the lobby and took a nap while we waited for our room to be made available. When gearing up for the WPA, it's important to get rest when you can, because once the festivities start it's balls to the wall.

The afternoon welcome session started off with Show and Tell. My friend and I braved the wall of humidity to go see the Sheriff's cool toys.

I'm not tall, but that door hinge was still 4" above my head!

Getting dressed for work

"Can we go work now, can we, can we, can we?"

SWAT gear was available for us to handle and ask questions about.
I don't know how the LEOs there work in all that gear (even just their every day uniform) with the heat and humidity. After an hour, I was done and I was only in jeans and a t-shirt.

I learned a couple of things from the evening announcements:
  • No videoing! Of course, that's been the rule from day one, so it wasn't a surprise.
  • The bus ride to the facility is ten minutes. Both ways. Yes, someone asked. Many, many times. Guess what? The bus ride next year is going to be ten minutes. Both ways.
  • I'm not sure we ever got a clear answer on what time the pool closes, but I looked it up and it's a 24-hour pool, so no worries.
  • The Goldberg brothers are hilarious. I didn't know who the comedy duo was at the time, but I knew I liked them from the first words spoken.
After evening announcements, there was a session on drones. Drones are more correctly called UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or sUAS (small Unmanned Aerial Systems) and are overseen by the FAA. Capt. Bill Bongle (ret.), talked to us about some of the FAA legalities, such as setting the max altitude at 400 feet. We also learned from an old case (Causby vs U.S. 1946) that 83 feet is the altitude that one can reasonably expect privacy.

There is a current case to keep an eye on, Boggs vs. Meredith, that is seeking to clarify aerial trespass. The issue is that Meredith shot down a UAV piloted by Boggs, which is a violation of a statute that makes it a felony to shoot down or damage an aircraft. Meredith argues that the drone flying over his property is a violation of privacy.

Capt. Bongle was kind enough to bring a variety of UAVs for us to see.

That's not a UFO that we're all looking at - it's a tiny UAV.

This little guy is a Blade Inductrix and retails for about $70 without the camera.

I should have added something for scale - this one is about the size of my thumbnail.
I fell in love with the itty bitty flying machine, and think I need one. The bigger ones are cool, but this miniaturized one is just adorable.

This one can be fitted with a FLIR (infrared) camera.

By the time the drone talk wrapped up, I was exhausted. It had been a very long day and we still had two full days of fun to go.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Question for Readers

When choosing a new book to read, do you read the reviews? Amazon seems to have the most prolific reviews and a lot of authors depend on them.

As a reader, which type of review do you prefer?

One that summarizes the entire book?

Or one that is more along the lines of "I liked it, and here's why"?

I know what my preference is, which is reflected in the reviews I've left. I do try to leave a review for 90% of the books I read - either on Goodreads or Amazon (usually both) - as an author I know how important they are.

I am interested - which type of review do you prefer and why?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Writers' Police Academy 2016

Only a few days before I head off to WPA! This year, I've got a friend and fellow author joining me. I'm unbelievably excited to get to share this event with her and I think she'll have a great experience.

WPA has been described as "Disneyland for writers" and that's about as accurate a description as any. We'll spend almost three days absorbing everything we can from experts in: bioterrorism; law enforcement; fire; EMS; forensic psychology; and crime lab/processing.

I can't wait! If you want to keep up in real-time, follow me on Twitter (@CSWilson_Author), Instagram (@authorcswilson), or Facebook (@AuthorCSWilson). I'll do my best to post every chance I get.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Day 14: My Life in 7 Years

Well, seven years from now Jay and I will have just celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary.

My eldest will be in his thirties.

The horses will be teenagers (and well-broke, I hope).

While I'd love to have our own property and a house we built, I'm not sure of the reality of that. It's a good thing that L.E. loves us and we love her.

I'll probably still be stuck working at a job at which I'm good, but not at all appreciated. I'll probably still be waiting on a raise since my last one was in July, 2011 and the company is in no hurry to do anything about it.

Or, maybe I'll have won the PowerBall and I will have turned into one hell of a philanthropist. That would be okay. Set the kids up with a touch of money, travel with the hubby and the horses, volunteer, and give money to worthy charities. Pat Striker, move over!

Day 13: My Commute To/From Work

I have the best commute. I wasn't crazy about moving out of my hometown, but Jay convinced me to give it a try. His argument was that the scenery on the way into town was amazing. He was right.

It's hard to leave our little slice of paradise each morning, but knowing I get to come home to it each night makes it easier.

We live right off a dirt road, that when dry, is one of the best roads I've ever driven on. When saturated because of rain and snow, like today, is treacherous. Digger has mentioned more than once that Salome is much more of a bad ass car than most of the perfectly shiny 4x4 trucks that run around town. I tend to agree. My poor Salome will get a bath in June to get rid of the mud, and she'll stay mostly clean until September or so.

The morning drive in is spectacular, especially in the spring, when everything is fresh and blooming. The snow-capped mountains set my mind at ease about the potential for wild fires. The years when there is little to no snow visible are the years that scare me. The Rocky Mountains run in my full field of view from left to right and I consider myself blessed that I get to see them each morning.

Just off the highway, to the south, is a piece of property that I just love. I look forward to seeing it each morning, just as I descend the rolling hill by the dump. The property is lined on it's north side by trees, but there is one lone tree (Russian Olive, I think) smack dab in the middle of the property, standing sentinel over the growing crops. For some reason, I love that tree. It stands tall and proud by itself through all the seasons. On occasion, I've seen a hawk hanging out at the top of it, looking for dinner.

As I near the base of the hill and look up past that property, I can almost imagine that there are no houses beyond it. For just a second or two at 65 miles per hour, I can fantasize that urban sprawl isn't intruding. For a short period of time, all I see is the green crop, the sentinel tree, and the great snow-capped Rockies beyond. My heart gets very happy.

More and more houses appear as I get closer to the city and my heart breaks a little bit more every time I see new construction. The rural power company recently put in a huge solar farm and I was ecstatic when I realized that it was a solar farm and not another 100 houses. I'm constantly amazed at how many people city planners will cram into small spaces.

Farms that were "out in the middle of nowhere" are being surrounded by urban sprawl. The people come. They demand HOAs and covenants and rules and the next thing you know, there are no more family farms.

I'm no longer tense and angry when I cross I-25 into the city, but for the first two years I commuted back and forth, the minute I crossed into city traffic my blood pressure sky-rocketed and I became a road rager. I think the anger came mainly from seeing how much the city has changed from the small, agriculturally-based town into Boulder, North.

In fact, I was talking to a friend last night who spoke to someone who was touring "Ag" colleges and CSU was on his list. He came, took a look at CSU and immediately took it off his list - CSU is no longer an "Ag" college. It bills itself as one, but has lost its way, which breaks my heart.

The drive home calms me, soothes my soul. As much as I loved my hometown, there is next to nothing I recognize of it. It's gone and I'm beginning to come to terms with it.

I'm not a naturally poetic person, but living in our little slice of paradise is good for me. It truly does soothe my soul. Jay and I are so blessed to live where we do.