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Friday, December 30, 2016

Grateful

How do we start thanking God for all his blessings? I'll admit I am rather insecure, but do you ever feel your prayers aren't long enough or good enough? Will it ever be enough?

I imagine the tradition of leaving cookies and milk for Santa began because children wanted to show appreciation for the forthcoming gifts. Since ancient times, farmers planted bulbs in autumn so the beauty of God's spring would manifest itself in gardens with bold colored tulips and daffodils. Symphonies by famous composers give homage to God and His wonderful works. Every grandma baking a cake for others is serving slices of love and parents who spend time teaching children how to ride a bike or swing a bat are naturally sharing gratitude with their family.

Here in California, we have just suffered through a giant drought and right now, we're thankfully up to the fourth inch of rain this month. Speaking of suffering, this has been quite a year, hasn't it? But it's almost over and many of us, just like an overgrown and gnarly rosebush, survived in spite of all the year’s difficulties.Besides praying of course, I choose to write poems of thankfulness. How about you? 
  

Mercy Rain
Eve Gaal
(Previously published at Christian Poets and Writers on Facebook)



To the prayer caught in my throat.
The Heimlich maneuvered gasps of spiritual praise.
Me, the spec of dust imbued with His touch,
part of His plan.
Me, drooling
on bended knees,
head down
pathetically waiting and shaking.
Typical textbook.
He won’t yawn,
He is the Master of My fate.
The spring,
the summer
even winter and orange leaves in fall.
He is the thrill of the beginning and the best ending.
The excitement
both outside and within my soul.
Who am I that He brings me doves and flowers?
Who am I that He soothes my tired nerves
placing roses and endless beauty along my path?
I inhale,
gurgling—embarrassed by spittle as I try to get my words out.
What can my lowly heart do to show my love?
Breathe, I tell myself.
Do not fear.
Grateful tears run down my cheeks
I bow,
feeling His hand pulling me up
moving me towards the window

where the ashen sky  looms with a chance of showers. 



Here's wishing all of you a Happy and Healthy 2017!!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Re-Post of Not So Secret Rum Ball Recipe

 My Secret Rum Ball Recipe

(First published on Dec. 15, 2011 at my previous blog The Desert Rocks)
Easy Holiday Rum Balls
These make a perfect hostess gift and will be
 remembered long after the sugar cookies, date nut bread, even the fudge has been scarfed down and forgotten. I’ve made them for years and often hear people on wobbly legs, leaving with their designated driver saying things like,
“Who made those rum balls? I have to get the recipe.”
Five years have passed and I figured you might want to try these again. After all, it's been a tough year and rum might help numb some of the pain or anxiety but please don't use rum balls as a gateway to the harder stuff like Bourbon Truffles or Brandy eggnog cocktails. Try the rum balls and always use caution when operating machinery.  

1 cup powdered sugar
3 cups crushed vanilla wafers (The best part of this recipe is that
you can use up older cookies or cakes instead of the vanilla wafers)
Typically, I use graham crackers but one year I used
Leftover chocolate cake and oh my goodness they were fantabulous!
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
3 tablespoons Karo syrup
½ cup Bacardi rum and three secret drops of German rum flavoring because regular rum evaporates rather quickly. The rum flavoring I mention is more potent and delicious than the stuff in our local  grocery stores. The Dr. Oetker Rum flavor will take your rum balls to a whole new level. It is available in most European delicatessens.

Chocolate sprinkles for decorating
Powdered sugar for decorating
Anyway, add ingredients to your bowl one at a time, stirring between each addition. Size-wise I roll them into one inch round balls.
Then roll half of the rum balls in powdered sugar and the other half of the balls in the
chocolate sprinkles.  Set them on wax paper and try one. I said one. Then, refrigerate them before you place them into cute little gift boxes or onto serving trays.
Super easy and fun too! 
Have you ever made these?
 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Bleeping Our Way to Heaven

Is it Newton's third law? For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.



A friend of mine recently posted incredible photos involving his jump from a plane. I imagine he had it on his bucket list and wanted everyone to see this amazing, but not surprising achievement. I say not surprising because this is someone who does the inconceivable on a regular basis. In fact, he may even be on one of those waiting lists to ride a rocket into space or he’s currently hiring Sherpas for his hike up K2. Anyway, this post is about a joke he made under his photos about the word he used all the way to the ground. His jump was on a sunny day with favorable conditions and another jumper held onto him with the parachute. In other words, he had a 99% chance of surviving the jump and thank goodness, everything worked out fine. And yet--I can’t really blame him for this but he shouted the word--the f-word—all the way down.

I told this story to another friend of mine who told me that most of the garbled speak on the black boxes they fish out of the ocean or dig out of the ash-filled rubble have nothing but curse words on the tapes. This of course, made me wonder, how I would react, had I jumped from a plane or had landed upside down in a cornfield. When a truck is coming at us, crossing the center divide and it looks like we’re ready to meet our maker, will we use the worst profanity we know how to utter?  Is this subject too morbid to think about or should we address this dire situation before it’s too late?

I pushed my devout friend and wondered how she would react. We both laughed and agreed, that instead of asking the Lord to forgive our sins or perhaps taking those last precious moments to beg for His divine mercy before committing our weary souls to Heaven, we’d be cursing like sailors. So I asked her if she had any ideas about how to deal with our last minute situation, to which she replied, “We need to practice.”

Practice? This left me in a quandary worse than before, when I naively thought my two Chihuahuas would stop fighting some day and peace would reign over the entire world. How do you suppose I should practice? I’ve listened to the clap of thunder hit close by and felt my body shake uncontrollably with fear, while my brain knew I was safe inside a building. Even the logical aspects couldn’t control my severe subconscious response. At least with thunder, there’s the comforting time lapse of one-Mississippi- two Mississippi- three, etc. to reassure us the storm is heading farther away. This doesn’t mean I don’t use expletives but as I age, my response to the thunder controls some of the shaking. Google says that the chance of being hit by lightening in California is 1 in 7,538,382, odds strangely similar to the California lotto. But let’s not digress because this is serious.


 I’m assuming prayer or meditation is part of the “practice” equation but still, isn’t it asking too much of the human brain to stop a normal fear of death during an emotional goodbye? The Bible tells us to “Fear Not,” over three hundred times but our brain synapses can detect danger, which in turn sends impulsive warnings to our vocal chords. Even if we logically and faithfully say we don’t fear death, can we train ourselves not to curse in our final moments? After all, doesn’t it sound like a good idea to be heading to the Pearly Gates without vulgarities flying left and right? Do you have any suggestions?

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Catch-up Post



1.       Sorry, due to circumstances beyond my control, I haven’t been reading or writing many blog posts lately. Don't worry, because the force that's controlling me away from blogging is building character and giving me more material to write about later. I’m very sorry and hope to be back to reading my favorites soon. In case, this takes me longer than expected, please have a great December and Merry Christmas.

2.       My short novella, The Fifth Commandment is now available in Portuguese and Spanish. Plus, right now it's on sale! Oh--- and the most exciting news is that my humble, faith-based novella reached bestseller status in Australia! By the way, I need some reviews for this one!
           The Fifth Commandment
3.       Penniless Hearts has a gorgeous new cover! Have you seen it? This is the third one. What do you think?


4.       I need to update my website: www.evegaal.com (soon).


Sunday, November 13, 2016

17 Ideas for Dealing With Negative News



If times seem tough, it's because we're exposed to much more information than all our combined predecessors saw in their lifetime. Poet Thomas Gray once wrote, 'ignorance is bliss' and while that doesn't sound responsible in today's world, doesn't it sound tempting to act like an ostrich with his head in the sand?

How about these suggestions? Do you think they might work?
17 ideas for blocking out the negative noise 

Could you cancel your cable?
 
Hide your Smartphone? (Once you've picked the kids up from school)

Stop your wireless?

Toss the newspaper subscription? 

Move off the grid? 

Hike a giant mountain without cell reception? 

Start a photo journal using a real camera?

Fly to a remote part of the world? (Enticing, huh?)

Visit a senior center where Twitter refers to the sound of a pacemaker. 

Leave phone at home while feeding/cleaning up after the homeless?

Volunteer for the Thanksgiving Parade?

Join, or at least visit a monastery? 

Teach someone to sail and avoid busy ports?
 
Host a craft class--allowing only emergency interruptions?

Teach scuba or take lessons. It's so quiet down there. 

Hammer your own noise for Habitat for Humanity. 

Plant vegetables and watch them grow in a community garden?


The point I'm making is that by helping others we help ourselves and in the process we clear our minds. Of course, you could also go for one of my favorites, which is to just barricade yourself in a room full of wonderful books! 




Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Hart to Intangible Heart and My Introduction to a Bestselling Novel



Whether you’re a writer, artist or creator of crafts, the best validation is receiving recognition for your work. I remember walking through aisles and aisles of cakes and pies, all missing a piece at the county fair. Blue ribbons scattered throughout but unfortunately, white Honorable Mention ribbons were pinned on most of them. Drooling before heading back to the wafting funnel-cake smell and buttery barbecued corn waiting outside, I wondered what the judges didn’t like. Were some of the cakes too sweet or too tart? Maybe they went by eye appeal. By now, some of the desserts unappealingly slumped in the summer heat but most of them still looked good. The same thing happened over at the craft building, where lovingly crocheted afghan throws were on display next to pieced quilts, vests and tote bags. Most received Honorable Mentions and only a few were Blue Ribbon winners. I loved the intricate details and bright colors and thought they should all receive first prize. But no one asked me my opinion as I wasn't asked to evaluate anything. 

That’s why I love writing reviews of books that I read. It’s the least I can do to provide feedback and support to someone who worked hard developing a plot, characters and a story-line. It’s my way of saying thank you for entertaining me, keep up the good work. Anyone with an Amazon account can add reviews and they don’t have to be stellar just truthful. I always learn something from all the reviews I’ve received for both my novels-Penniless Hearts or The Fifth Commandment, while appreciating and swallowing the bad with the good. Some people are shy about it or something and I hope to encourage everyone to go to Goodreads or Amazon and perhaps start with something you enjoyed reading in school. It doesn’t have to be long. A couple sentences will do the trick and other readers will benefit from your input. I’ve also realized that I can’t wait for others to reciprocate. Everyone has his or her own timeline for reading. My Kindle is packed with wonderful stories and my bookshelves are overflowing. For some strange reason the cover of Becoming Moon drew me in. Like some of those cakes, maybe I went by eye appeal.



After I wrote a review of his book, the bestselling author contacted me to tell me that I really “got” what he was trying to say. Of course I did. Craig Hart wrote about a writer having struggles and temptations along the course of his life that seemed to pull him down into a watery hole, making him feel like drowning. There were so many intangibles he could have knitted a King-sized duvet! I had mentioned his book on my blog and even posted my review but now the writer of Becoming Moon asked me to expound on my analysis so he could put it into his book as the introduction. I thought he was kidding. After all, this author knows how to write and though I can relate to his story, I can’t come close to his prose. Honored beyond words I can only say that I am sure he wasn’t jesting as I’m holding a signed copy of it in my hands. Definitely a Blue Ribbon winner in my estimation and a book I hope you find time to read and review. Get your copy here:


My signed copy. The following photo is the
end of my written introduction to
Becoming Moon, with my fingers as proof
that little old me actually wrote the introduction
to a bestselling novel!


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Remembering Halloween-A Poem


Halloween (‘60’s era)
Eve Gaal


Whence we were little goblins-
groovy lithe witches
and rascally cowboys—
nothing wicked mind you,
perchance slightly mischievous-
waiting to run down the street--
giggling from house to house--
proudly shouting trick or treat.

Plans devised for a soulful celebration
powered behind glued on sequins--
the hubris of green felt--- pink ribbons.
Boasting about goals
to fill giant sacs-
we snickered behind our plastic masks--
zooming with super powers-
our hearts charged with wonder.

Beaming at our bounty of sugary fun--
spread like treasure on the breakfast table:
Golden wrapped toffees—
Mr. Goodbars even Bazooka gum.
Black and orange wrapped peanut taffy-
a caramel apple lovingly made by a granny next door-
perhaps a box of Crackerjacks with a small green whistle
you still keep in a drawer-
to remind you of a distant magic--
when shadows cast swirling leaves--
as frolicking ghosts in rustling trees
announced it’s

Hallow’s eve.