Mac & Cheese Night #4: Homeroom

My 4th Mac & Cheese Night took place at the East Bay’s prime mac & cheese destination along 40th Street in Oakland: Homeroom.

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Nearly every time I’ve mentioned my mac & cheese quest, I’ve been interrupted by an excited new acquaintance asking if I’ve tried Homeroom yet. Finally, FINALLY, I can say yes when asked.

Schoolroom décor in keeping with their name. I approve.

Schoolroom décor in keeping with their name. I approve.

Homeroom is owned by a pair of friends with a passion for comfort food, Allison Arevalo and Erin Wade, who also happen to both be pregnant with their second children right now, which I found out from reading an article about their planned expansion for Homeroom in the fall. That expansion will be geared toward meeting their to-go and large party needs, which are big contributors to the constant wait times at the midsize restaurant.

Well…the fall is not now, so our party of six was prepared for those long wait times at 8 on a Friday night. I had to laugh when I signed us in and asked the host if we would fit—there are not many tables available for more than four people. “Oh, no problem,” he said, quickly followed by a snarky, “but it’ll be a minute.” I knew a minute would be a lot longer than that and it took over an hour. At least owner Erin made the rounds of waiting customers, offering water. Much appreciated!

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“Thlush-a-lum” to be published in PULP Literature!

I’ve been sitting on this news all summer! But that’s my own fault, because I insist on signing a contract before I announce any of my fiction publications. Which means the contract is signed, and I have a new short story coming out at the end of the year!

“Thlush-a-lum” will be published in the Winter 2015 issue of PULP Literature, a newish speculative fiction magazine that came to be through a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2013.

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Issue #5 will be released electronically and in paperback form, and you bet I’ll update you once buy links become available. In addition to four yearly issues of the magazine, PULP Literature runs a number of contests that often feature publication as a prize. Their editors’ blog is also a fount of useful information for writers. Peruse away!

What’s “Thlush-a-lum” about, you wonder? It’s pure horror that would qualify as flash fiction in most markets. The story came about when I challenged myself to write something more focused on the sense of sound than the other four I more commonly use in my writing. Many of those sounds are inspired by what I could hear from my own Southern bedroom window…and a few sounds that I swear I’ve been able to hear no matter where I’ve lived.

The first few lines? Certainly.

Markella’s earliest memories are of the sounds outside her window. At hours when no men moved, rustling branches and shuffling grass woke her. A beating pulse like slower, fleshier helicopter blades banished sleep: thlush-a-lum thlush-a-lum. In summers, the heat in her attic bedroom hot enough to incubate, Markella pushed the window open and dozed to the endless static drone of cicadas. In winters, choking radiator warmth wrapped tight around her, she cracked the window and the low, deep hoots of an owl drifted in with the freezing breeze.

The sounds crept in no matter the season.

And you know I like to include a photo to set the mood when I can…

thlush a lum photo

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A Tour of Mission San Luis Obispo

I stayed over in San Luis Obispo for a day after the end of the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference—I needed the time just to decompress and organize my thoughts before heading all the way back home. And I apparently needed to take a tour of Mission San Luis Obispo for some inspiration.

Click twice for the panorama.

Click twice for the panorama.

I love discovering treasures in the everyday, and as someone who grew up on the Central Coast, I’d seen plenty of this mission. But I’d never gone inside, and as I walked by, I happened to notice a crowd gathering for the next free docent tour. Why not join, I thought. So I did.

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The docent gave us a brief history of the mission’s timeline, starting with its founding in 1772 by Father Serra.

Statue of Father Serra outside the mission.

Statue of Father Serra outside the mission.

During the 1800s, the West became more of a lawless place, which is the very reason those doors have an extra couple of feet on top—to stop outlaws from riding in on horseback. Also interesting is that the mission was made over after being returned to the church’s care once California became a state. As was the fashion at the time, it was redone to resemble typical New England clapboard churches with a steeple and all. Thankfully, it was returned to its roots in the early 1900s.

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Inside the building, I was fascinated by the colorful vines and birds on the walls.

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