Wednesday, January 27, 2016

So you want to end abortion?

Then let's figure out how.

First you must accept that completely ending abortion is a pipe dream. As long as women get pregnant, as long as pregnancies go bad, it will be a medical necessity.

Second, it is a truism that ending legal abortion doesn't end the practice, it just makes women resort to home methods, including douching with drain cleaner, taking herbs where the effective dose is the same as the lethal and inserting sharp objects into their bodies. Criminalizing abortion only causes dead women.

Third, the abortion rate hit its lowest point ever in 2014, with fewer than 17 pregnancies out of 1000 ending this way.

For the record, the infant mortality rate in Mississippi is 8 per 1000 (which is the same as the rate for white women having abortions nationally)

So, what can be done?

Simply saying "Everyone must stop having non-procreative sex" does not work. We have proven this over ten thousand years of human civilization. Where rules are placed on human behavior, humans work to get around them. Witness places that punished adultery by execution, and people still had affairs.

Abstinence has a 100% user failure rate.

The sane way to approach this is "Why do women have abortions?" A better question is "Why do 40% of women, regardless of religion, class, color or lifestyle find themselves in the position where they need to not be pregnant?'

The answer is not, as some would have you believe "because they are stupid, evil baby-eating ogresses."  Maybe one or two are, but not 40% of the population.

The primary answer is finances. This is borne out by numerous studies.
The second most common is school/job interruption.
(there's a 1% variation in the placement of these reasons in the Guttmacher study)

Abortions decline when the economy improves. Notice the sharp drop in the graph around 1996. (the earliest Baby Boomers hitting 50 may have had something to do with it as well.) It mostly leveled with slight decline and then spiked again in the mid-2000s, during the recession. Since 2008, the decline has been steady. (and the early Baby Busters/GenX started turning 40 about then and hitting menopause)

Improved birth control: IUDs and implants are responsible for some of this. People tend to be more diligent about birth control in harder times, because they can't afford another mouth.

And that's what it comes down to. When I was driving, I came to the conclusion that if I got pregnant, tubal be damned, I would have to end the pregnancy. It would end my career and I carried the insurance on the kids, including two chronically ill ones. And if I did get pregnant, it would likely be an ectopic pregnancy, which would be fatal.

Job interruption at that point would have been damaging. And it was when it happened a few years later. We're still recovering 4 years down the road.

Now, multiply that by ending school, or by killing a career at the beginning, when the woman has no resources. That is the why.


So what can be done?

The answers are relatively simple, but very unpalatable for most of the Pro-Life movement.

1) Accurate sex education, with talk of birth control, not just failure rates, beginning at age 11 and up. I know, they're still kids. But they are developing, even at that age. My daughters were making college age men walk into walls and street signs at 12. At 11, middle-aged men were attempting to follow them off elevators.

2) Access to birth control, including long term forms. This means insurance and medicaid need to pay for it and employers need to butt out. Over the counter pills are just one more way for insurance to get out of paying.

3) Education and empowerment. Girls must be taught to say no if they don't want something and everyone must be taught to listen. Educated women are less likely to get pregnant when they don't want to, and have fewer children as a rule.

4) Economic changes. I favor a Guaranteed Minimum Income. Unplanned pregnancies are more likely to be continued in good economic times, when the woman feels secure in her ability to take care of the child. Living wages, good jobs, and day care that doesn't cost as much as an Ivy League education are all part of this.

 It's not a hard concept. It is very hard to change people's minds when they look at that list and see "Teach Immorality, Encourage Immorality, Teach Immorality, Socialism" and not actual ideas that will help real people.

Then again, these are people who think women get third trimester abortions out of carelessness and evil and not out of wanted pregnancies going heartbreakingly wrong.

Can we end abortion? No. Not completely. Not even if we made pregnancy an opt-in decision instead of an opt-out. If everyone was on the IUD or implant, and had to make a conscious effort to get pregnant, not even then. Those wanted planned pregnancies would still go bad.

Can we reduce abortion still further, make actual infant mortality higher? possibly. The above 4 ideas would be a start.

A brief illustration on the opt-in/opt-out: I was in a high school role-playing game and the sex ed class was discussing pregnancy. The kids from space milieus (Star Trek, Star Wars, Farscape, Etc) treated pregnancy as an opt-in event, something one had to make a decision to have happen. The kids from contemporary milieus treated it as opt-out, something to be actively avoided. The kids from fantasy milieus were pretty much agog at the idea of sex without reproduction and wanted to be part of this shiny future.

So, do we want to move into the future, stay where we are, or regress to a place where sex and childbirth are inextricably linked? I know where some groups want to take us. And don't think it can't happen. Bear in mind, we lost indoor plumbing for nearly 1400 years.

Roe is the first target. Griswold is the next. And that has been the game-plan since the 1980s. Strange how the stated goal is directly at odds with the most-effective practices for achieving it.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Writers Write

This is the advice I give in every blog post on writing.

Put your butt in the chair.
Open the word processor.
Turn on some hard driving music
hit keys until you produce a manuscript. If an infinite number of monkeys can do it...

Because Writers Write.

Stephan King, Neil Gaiman, Brian Keene, Elizabeth Donald and Me. We all do the same thing.
But in chair.
Fingers on keyboard.

Or sometimes not.

I've hit massive burnout after sixteen novels and 100+ short stories and two deaths in the space of nine months. Losing Mom last December is still biting me around every corner. Losing Darren... My Constant Reader is gone. I'm tap-dancing for myself again. I'm working two part time jobs and sometimes the juggling act means a 15 hour day.

So I gave myself permission.

I'm actively NOT writing.  Deliberately, mindfully NOT opening my word processor for the month of January.

Instead, I'm coloring. I'm drawing (including taking a class). I'm working the day jobs. I'm knitting, I'm reading and reading and reading some more, and watching movies and TV. I'm editing audiobooks. I'm playing with kittens.

I am, in short, refilling my tank and doing some self-care. And that can be as much of a necessity as the words themselves.

But yes, writers write. Maybe not every day or even every month. But they do put the words on paper.  This is the advice I always give when asked to blog about writing. The advice I will always give.

"Mood? Bah! Mood is a thing for cattle or lovemaking."

In a couple weeks, I'll plug Dragonforce back into the speakers and plunge back into the Roaring 20s with my adventurers and Rock the Casbah. (I have a short due for a rock-and-roll themed pulp anthology)  But for now, no guilt over not writing.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Let's talk politics

It comes as no surprise to anyone who has read this blog that I am liberal. I am the queer pagan feminist Pat Robertson warned you about. And I don't vote for people who want to harm me.

As I see it, this election is a three way race.

(links provided only in the most egregious cases, rest of this is out there for anyone with Google)

On the Republican side, no matter who gets nominated, he will be a theocrat attempting to run us full tilt bogie into fascism. I don't say that lightly.

They are all "pro-life" because that is their base. Unfortunately some of them missed the memo that abortion is the big fund raiser, because they are seriously trying to roll back Roe, and taking aim at Griswold. They also have no idea that criminalizing abortion kills women. And if they did, they would consider it a feature, not a problem.

They're all for more surveillance.

They're all for school vouchers over public school.

They all support Fracking and drilling for more oil and call other energy sources "pie in the sky."

They're all about breaking down the Federal government and dumping all the burdens on the states.

They're all against the ACA, without fielding an actual plan to replace it.

They are all on record as being against Same-sex marriage

They all voted against re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

Jeb Bush. Who wants to end SNAP and replace it with "state level block grants" He express-laned the Florida electric chair and opposed treatment programs for drug offenders. He support For-Profit colleges and wants to abolish the Department of Education. Has described the Gay, Black and Women's movements as "victim movements" designed to get people thinking of themselves as deserving something. He's mainstream, not scary and might just clinch it, despite the name

Ben Carson: Possibly just a token, but might be a contender. he has said nothing that distinguished him from the pack, except the gaffe about God building the Pyramids as grain storage, which shows he has apparently confused the videogame Civilization with history.

Chris Christie. Knowingly killed much-needed transportation projects to undermine union labor

Ted Cruz. Some question about his citizenship and eligibility.  His father believes he's anointed. And apparently he thinks so too. Here is the happy smiling face of Christian Dominionism, which the Right has been flirting with for years. He flat out told the American Family Association that the only way to save the US is to turn it into a theocracy.
His economic and social policies are outlined here, and basically boil down to "if it helps anyone, we're cutting it."

Carly Fiorina. Failed president of Hewlett-Packard, and like all high level Republican women, a ladder-pulling token.

Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum have made themselves so odious, neither will get the nomination/

John Kasich. The dark horse, he's kept his mouth shut and avoided any gaffes. This will look attractive

Rand Paul, son of the Tea Party founder. Another who wants to destroy the government if elected to run it

Marco Rubio is for lowering property tax and raising sales tax (regressive taxation) and Grover Norquist likes him. He's here primarily to offset Cruz and appeal to Hispanic voters. He also rates 98.67% from the American Conservative Union.

Donald Trump has proposed American Muslims carry special ID and be included in a special terrorist database. He has had Muslims and blacks thrown out of his rallies. he comes across as over the top and ridiculous, but people who lived through the 30s are scared of him. He has the potential to run on his own and garner enough votes.

Any one of these is going to return us to a recession quagmire with money evaporating out the top. Any one of them is going to impose a Christian version of Sharia Law while railing against trhe Muslim one.

There are two main Democratic choices,.

Hilary Clinton is a Status Quo democrat. She'll continue the Business as Usual  position we've had from Obama, probably with some more window dressing to make us think there is progress happening. But in the end, she is another corporate shill. We've known this since 92. She may have to get us into a war to prove she's tough enough to play in the all-boys' clubhouse. The tiptoeing toward fascism and corporate feudalism will continue. She is being funded by private prisons. She is for raising the minimum wage.Strongly opposed to privatizing Social security.

100% from NARAL, CAF, APHA
96% from NAACP
89% from HRC
85% from AFL-CIO
82% from NEA
60% from ACLU
0% from Christian Coaltion

Bernie Sanders is a progressive democratic socialist. His positions are that the US is a first country and should be acting like it: universal health care, universal higher education. His trade policies are protectionist, in the interest of bringing American manufacturing jobs back. His trade voting record is mixed. I've heard him say it's a bad thing that we aren't innovating. All the innovation is being done in other countries, with better educated populations, the building is being done in countries with slave labor and we're just being end-users of the tech. He's for raising the minimum wage and seems to understand that the dollar is a fiat currency. He's against private prisons. Strongly opposed privatizing Social Security.

100% rating from NARAL, CAF (Council for Alternative Fuel), APHA (American public health Association), AFL-CIO and HRC,
97% from NAACP,
93% from ACLU
83% from the NEA
And 7% from the Christian Coalition. (probably for supporting Israel)

And for those of us who are queer, who have queer kids and have daughters, keeping our rights is important, Not one Republican thinks I have the right to be myself. They want to destroy education, the safety net, and any hope of not living on canned catfood in my Golden Years.  Some of them are using the same language: Don't Sell to Gays, Identify the Muslims, as has always been used when a falling democracy starts looking for scapegoats,

It's a bad time, friends and neighbors and things will be ugly this next 11 months,.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Promo: Huntress by Alexandra Christian

Alexandra Christian is a fine writer, and I am pleased to have her here today,showing off her new work.  Go forth and read. She's always a good bet and this one looks spicy!

Alexandra Christian is an author of paranormal romance, dark fantasy and horror. A self-proclaimed “Southern Belle from Hell,” Lexxx is a native South Carolinian who lives with a ghost hunter and an epileptic wiener dog. She has published several novels, novellas and short stories various publishers including Mocha Memoirs Press, Purple Sword Publications, Seventh Star Press, and Ellora’s Cave. She also wears an editor’s hat as A.C. Thompson.  Recently, she’s been conquering the self-publishing world as one half of Little Red Hen Romance.  Lexxx’s long-term aspirations are to one day be a best-selling authoress and part-time pinup girl. Questions, comments and complaints are most welcome at her website:

Every girl dreams of a fairy tale prince.
Thalia is the Huntress, a dragonslayer from a barbarian tribe. But her dreams are haunted by her prince, a dark shadow who whispers delectable taunts in her ears and smells of crushed roses and ash. When she is captured and sacrificed as a symbolic “bride” to the most fearsome dragon she has ever seen, she wants only to escape into the endless dream of death where she and her dark prince can be together forever. 
But princes aren’t always what they seem. And neither are dragons.


She could smell it before they could see it.  The stench of ash and sulfur like the pits of Hell overwhelmed them. “God, how do they sneak up on anyone? They smell like a pile of burning shit,” Markus complained, pulling his tunic over his nose.  Thalia wasn’t listening.  She was too busy watching the sky.  She wanted to see it when it burst through the trees.

Dragons both frightened and fascinated her.  Everything about them was built for the hunt.  Their massive bodies were covered in impenetrable scales, but they could move with an almost feline precision.  Their talons were razor sharp and grooved so that once the prey was caught, escape would be impossible.  They could lock around even the smallest wriggling creature and hold on.  The beating of their wings could create a gale that would level whole villages. Then there was the fire. 

 Dragons were made of it.  It flowed through their veins like blood, making their flesh steam.  Just touching the hide would scald one’s hand, peeling the blackened skin from the bones. A deep breath was all it took, and the flames would spew forth from the beast, burning everything it its path.

“We must draw it away from the villagers, Markus.  Hurry and get everyone inside!  Out of sight and quiet.”  He ran off into the streams of screaming villagers, running to and fro.  The stench of brimstone and sweat was so overwhelming, it burned Thalia’s eyes.  The thick odor of terror was nothing new.  It was everywhere she went and fueled her fury.  She ran toward the western gate.  Her arms ached with the weight of the heavy crossbow.  Many were surprised that she could wield the rustic weapon with any accuracy, but it was the weapon of her father and his father before him.  

The only real problem was that to deliver a kill shot, one had to be standing in the furnace.  A dragon was only vulnerable when he breathed fire.  For a fragment of a second, he would expose his chest, and if one were clever and cunning, one might be able to deliver an arrow between the soft spaces in the scales and pierce its heart.  Otherwise, there was nothing for it but a lucky blow that distracted the wyrm long enough to let you get away.  Despite the rumors of her might, Thalia had never taken the head of a dragon.  It would take one much stronger than herself to slice through the iron ropes of sinew and tissue, much less penetrate the scales.  

Buy Link: 

The final, logical step

So once again, after the Planned Parenthood shooting, we were treated to the Pro-Life's back-and-fill dance of "Yes, we call them murderers and Hitlers and a holocaust, but we don't mean for you to go play River Song and try to kill them!"

Maybe I was sociopathic even in my teens, but it always seemed to me that killing off all the doctors would really be the way to go if they were serious about it. God would understand that they were offering up their soul to save thousands of lives and forgive them. (and my church encouraged young people to become gynecologists and pharmacists for the express purpose of denying women abortions and birth control, thinking to win through attrition)

But I am a science fiction writer, although it's not all shiny things that go FTL in my fiction. And one of my universes is a very dark future. And I swear, I tuned in the following sermon from somewhere deep in the Confederated States.

"How many of you men, sitting here today, have only daughters? It is your wife's perfidy, her sin nature that causes this. The Lord sends sons! 

Women are the weaker vessels, and just as the potter will not keep working with a flawed vessel, but will return it to the clay from which it came, so must we, brothers.

There is one way to end the scourge of abortion in our land. One way, and only one, that God will bless us. We must execute the whores, the seed of Lilith, the rebellious murderesses who kill our sons and brothers.

You cannot let love and sentiment move you, brothers, no more than Abraham did. God commanded him to take his son, his only son Isaac, whom he loved, and sacrifice him. and Abraham obeyed. Who are you to say no? Who are you to protect the harlot Jezebel and all her generation?

Now I know we're talking about your mothers, your sisters, your wives, your daughters. And I know you love them. But they are murderesses! They are harlots. They have murdered your sons, your brothers, you nephews and grandsons. Sacrificed them by silver knife and sucking tube on the altar of Moloch, on the altar of convenience!

Forty percent of them, brothers, four in ten, have killed. And having killed, are more likely to kill again! There are fifty children in our Sunday school this morning. It would be seventy, were the Jezebels you cling to faithful women. 

It is not murder to execute a murderer. Go forth in service to the Lord and to generations yet unborn, Let no woman who has reached double digits live. They are all the spawn of the Great Whore of Revelation. We will end the scourge and God will bless us wither a faithful and obedient generation to create our grandsons.

Let us pray."

Friday, January 1, 2016

Monday, December 21, 2015

Yuletide Presents

Leave a response ONLY at the Livejournal. You need not have an LJ account.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Mom, a year later.

Mom's been gone not quite a year. She left us at 4 AM on Monday, Dec 15, 2014. Today is the anniversary of her last good day.

She didn't feel well at all on Sunday. She posted a couple of videos of my niece's dance team. And we were going to my sister's for dinner. We think she had a stroke in the car on the way up, because she collapsed on my sister's steps. I stopped being able to  sense her around Raytown on the trip up. I kept checking with her during the last few miles until she grumped at me to let her have her nap. When I helped her out of the car, she walked backward down the (steepish) drive, as if she had no control over gravity. And as we watched and waited at the hospital, I saw Michael come for her. I knew she wouldn't be going home.

But Saturday was a good day.
This is Mom as I remember her looking most of my life. The men in the bottom pictures are, Husband 2, Husband 3 and her father.
I don't have a scanned picture of her with Joe (Husband 4)

This is her and my dad (Husband 1) and my 3 of my kids in July of 2014

This is mom in later years, after she retired, quit dying her hair and just decided to be.

And this is Sunday, Dec 13, 2014. Mom had been given 6 months back in November, after three years of fighting pre-leukemia.  Christopher was on leave so we drove up, possible broken foot on my part be damned. While we were having my foot x-rayed for workers comp, Chris announced he wanted to go to the zoo. Mom said it sounded like fun and wanted to come. She borrowed a wheelchair from the church. Her pastor asked if she thought it was a good idea. She smiled and said "Pastor Tim, I'm terminal. Nothing's a good idea. But I haven't been to the zoo in a long time, and I'm going to go with my grandson."

So mom in her wheelchair and I on my scooter, toured the zoo on a brisk December day. Chris pushed her all over the exhibits. Including up to see the elephants, Mom's favorite. We got to see them being fed. It was feeding time for the penguins too, and that was fun to watch.


Chris was delightfully silly, obliging me for pictures. (I had a pic of him in this egg when he was about 6)

We looked at old parts of the zoo, that aren't in use anymore. the WPA built cages, the Great Ape House (the latter has been demolished)

Dad got pizza from my favorite place and Mom managed two slices (a lot for her) Then he took us down to the Country Club Plaza to see the lights. They don't photograph well in a car.

A commercial shot
Image result for country club plaza lights

Goodbye, Mom.
I still have your teeth, although they aren't in my crochet bag. They sit in their case on my mantle/altar, at the feet of Mother Hera. Someday, I will get a Persephone statue in your honor and lay them before her. She wasn't your deity, but you were her handmaid nonetheless, escorting people from this life to the next. May you rest as long as you need to, and may your next trip back be a better one.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Silver Screen Gods and Demons

It's the high religious season, so let's talk  about religion on film.

God and Jesus and The Devil are some of the favorite characters for filmmakers to use. They're instantly recognizable.

Well, usually.  (for those playing the home game: the first is Charles Manson and the second is young Obi-Wan)

But who does it best? Who is your favorite and why? I'll be tossing out mine. I can't promise 5 in each category, but that's the goal. And anyway, the Devil gets all the best lines, since we writers are in his camp, at least according to William Blake.


Please feel free to comment with suggestions for any of these lists.

God, on screen (John Huston in The Bible doesn't count):

1) Alanis Morrisette in Dogma. This is a God I could believe in. She loves, she hurts, she laughs. She kills and she heals.

2) The definitive on-screen God of my childhood was George Burns. Wise and kind and wanting to get the word out about love instead of rules.

Aside from voice-overs: John Huston, Val Kilmer, that's pretty much it.
Many people will add Morgan Freeman, but I avoided those movies.

To quote Jean Kerr "For all intents and purposes, God is a  lousy part in the theatre."

Jesus gets a lot more screen time. 
And usually more to work with.

These are the ones I grew up with. I haven't caught the Dafoe or Caveizel ones. And I've avoided the newer Extruded Religious Cinematic Product movies.

1) Victor Garber tops my list. Always. Like Alanis' God, this is a Jesus that I can believe and love. He's a Holy Fool, an avatar of the Trickster, sent to teach humanity and love them.

2) Ted Neely's Jesus was intense and tormented and a little scary. You can believe this guy came out of the desert with a new revelation. Ultimately, he's one man, up against political and religious power, all for trying to teach people about his radical vision that has nothing to do with Roman or temple politics. And he looks more at home flipping tables than blessing children

3)  I was about 9 when Robert Powell in the miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth" made a huge impression on me. 9 was my mythic period: Greek, Norse, Star Wars and Bible all jumbled together and left me with--to coin a phrase--"too much heaven on my mind."

Slim, intense, with piercing blue eyes. He looks like an El Greco brought to life. He also seemed to make suffering into something ecstatic, not just pain. He looked not only as if it hurt, but as if he was transcending the pain. (Powell describes himself as "a face like a haunted parking meter")

4)  And no list is complete without Max Von Sydow

The Greatest Story Ever Told, or as I call it "White People in White Robes on White Rocks" was a 1960s exercise in Studio system tedium. I watched and livetweeted it some years back.

He learned English phonetically for this role and had to give up cigarettes on the set, lest an errant paparazzi post a "Smoking Jesus" picture. Still, he did the best with what he had, even if he looked mostly baffled.

Honorable mention goes to Kenneth Colley in Life of Brian.

 Because the movie is about Brian, we only see glimpses of Jesus. But the Pythons treated him with all seriousness, even as they laughed at Brian's parallel adventures. He has no lines
(geek note: he was Admiral Piett, Image result for admiral piett and also in Brassed off with Ewan McGregor)

And where there is good, there is also evil.
Before we get into that, let me toss out a few contenders who aren't quite the Devil himself, but close to it.

Tim Curry's brilliant Darkness in Legend

Jamie Sheridan's Randall Flagg in The Stand

And Max Von Sydow again, playing the other side as demonic merchant Leland Gaunt in Needful Things:

And no, not even the King of Hell rates, because Crowley only holds that throne as long as Lucifer in The Cage

And when he's out of the box, he holds his own very well, whether in the temporary vessel of Nick, or in his designated, long-awaited Sam Winchester. The writers keep him consistent throughout. (Sam is scary enough when he's not hosting the Fallen Angel)

Viggo Mortensen turned in a splendid job in The Prophecy. There was an awful lot of Bad Touch happening. He doesn't get much screen time, but what he does? He dominates the scene.

Robert DeNiro turns in a subtle, understated performance in Angel Heart, capturing his scenes, and transparently obvious as to who he is, (Louis Cyphre? Really?) but still captivating. A good friend to have, until you anger him.

There is nothing at all understated about Al Pacino in Devil's Advocate. (Again with the transparent names: John Milton.) He chews every bit of scenery he can get his teeth into and has a splendid time doing it. That was what struck me most. He seemed to be having the time of his life in the role.

Image result for al pacino devil's advocate

And on the small screen, we get another veteran scenery-chewer, John Glover, for 1997's "Brimstone".
This short-lived Fox show raised deep theological questions, questions about life and death, God and grace and love. And it did it all in the context of a chase plot. Peter Horton's cop character, Zeke Stone, went to Hell 15 years ago for killing his wife's rapist. But a jailbreak occurred and 113 damned souls escaped to walk the earth. So, Morningstar has sent Zeke out to find the damned and shoot out their eyes. If he succeeds, he gets a second chance at life on earth.

The markings are the names of the damned. They burn themselves off when he kills one.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Yuletide Youtube: Kitchen Witch Corner

Sounds of the Season:

A little traditional. I love this voice, and I love the presentation of Christmas as a city thing and not just for country folk with snow and horses and chimnies.

And because we all need some Spike, ca 1980s.

Merry Moments, Midweek Cartoon Edition:

Kitchen Witchery

Let's talk about cranberries a minute. They're a holiday staple, but what do you do with them? Just cook them with some sugar? Or are you like me and open the can to slice up the red jelly cylinder?

Here are a couple of Kitchen-Witch Tested recipes.

Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish
Mama Stamberg is the mother-in-law of an NPR host.

2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed
1 small onion
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar ("red is a bit milder than white")

Grind the raw berries and onion together. ("I use an old-fashioned meat grinder," says Stamberg. "I'm sure there's a setting on the food processor that will give you a chunky grind — not a puree.")

Add everything else and mix.

Put in a plastic container and freeze.

Early Thanksgiving morning, move it from freezer to refrigerator compartment to thaw. ("It should still have some little icy slivers left.")

The relish will be thick, creamy, and shocking pink. ("OK, Pepto Bismol pink. It has a tangy taste that cuts through and perks up the turkey and gravy. Its also good on next-day turkey sandwiches, and with roast beef.")

Makes 1 1/2 pints.

Aunt Jen's Cranberry Sauce
My sister makes this and my kids devour it.

1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries
1 orange, peeled and pureed
1 apple - peeled, cored and diced
1 pear - peeled, cored and diced
1 cup chopped dried mixed fruit
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a medium saucepan, boil water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. 

Reduce the heat to simmer, and stir in cranberries, pureed orange, apple, pear, dried fruit, pecans, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 

Cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst. 

Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature.

Note: Jen says, “I juice and pulp the orange (basically scoop it out with a citrus reamer or a fork), I have even used orange juice instead.”