Vegan Banana Ginger Muffins

Preheat oven to 350.

Wet Mix:

2 large ripe bananas mashed

1 tsp. vanilla

2 snack containers of unsweetened, organic applesauce

¼ cup of oat milk (or other non-dairy milk)

3 teaspoons of minced ginger (Ginger People brand is yummy)

Dry mix:

2 cups of unbleached, organic all-purpose flour (I love baking with Bob’s Red Mill)

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda

2 teaspoons cloves

2 tablespoons cinnamon

3 teaspoons of ground ginger

½ cup organic cane sugar

1 cup of organic brown sugar

(mix this together well so everything is distributed well)

Slowly stir the wet ingredients by hand into the dry bowl. Mixture should not be runny but also not too thick that it is not easily spooned into muffin pan.

I sprayed a mini muffin container with a light coat of coconut oil spray and baked at 350 for 25-30 minutes. As the muffins were cooling, I sprinkled cacao powder lightly over them.

Pan used:

https://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/nordic-ware-harvest-delights-bitelet-pan/?pkey=s%7Cseasonal%20pan%7C61

Chronicles of the Wainwright Witches: The Globe Heist

The world globe sat for a century in a glass cabinet of curiosities in the library of a sorcerer who was selfishly proud of its acquisition. He went to see the Wainwright witches about stealing their power, and on that same night, this rusty, dusty spherical trinket which caught the corner of his eye came home with him to serve as a trophy of his successful conquest. He had no use for it after that day, but the Wainwrights had not forgotten its existence.

Solaine pulled into a long driveway, her breath filling the air as she rolled down her window to verify the barely visible numbers nailed to a post. There was an iron gate ahead of her, already opened according to plan. She pulled up to a mansion of charcoal stone and black trim. It was unremarkable architecturally except for its enormous size, a hallmark of misplaced ego and other male deficiencies in her opinion.

She exited her car, a minor feat with her tight dress and pushed up bosom, whispered a few words, and looked down to see a flat tire as cold rain started to fall. She walked up to two rounded wood doors, painted black with no windows, and knocked vigorously. A tiny old man with an ample belly, stooped back, and long, pointy mustache answered. Solaine could hear him shuffling and breathing heavy even through the solid doors.

“Good evening. We were not expecting guests tonight. And if you would not mind, could you explain how you made it through the gatesssss?” He spit through his mustache, barely audible until the last bit about the gates.

“I’m just one guest, less a guest, and more a stranded victim of car troubles on this cold, rainy night.” Solaine pointed to her flat tire. “Could I come in and warm up a bit as I call for a tow? The gatessss were open by the way.”

The troll of man started to shake his head to the negative when Solaine whispered two more words, and he swung his sausage arm behind him, cracking old joints in the process, to usher her into the entry of the ostentatious brick box.

“I will go get Mr. Vrane. He will be pleasantly surprised to have a guest, especially such a beautiful one. Follow me to the library where I will have you wait for him.”

Solaine smiled and narrowed her eyes. Sometimes when she whispered words, she went too far, and truth came out. She probably had worse suitors, but a troll man was still not high on a list for a Saturday night out. He was giving her exactly what she hoped for at this moment though. She straightened her jet black bob slightly, brushed down the corners of her dress which were riding up and followed the miniature mustache man through a hallway, painted flat black, into a room that had books on every single wall, table, and counter available. Finally, there was no black to be seen.

The tiny man smiled with all his tiny yellow teeth.

“Please make yourself at home while I summon Mr.Vrane.”

Solaine thought there was no truer word than summon for acquiring someone like his dark master.

“Thank you. My name is Solaine, Solaine Adams. Tell Mr. Vrane thank you for any help or hospitality he can provide.”

Her faithful new servant nodded his head and scurried out of the library, a prehistoric, confused bug. Solaine immediately turned her attention to the glass cabinet she came here to see, doors already opened as planned. Things could be too easy when you had the most powerful friends in the world. She reached for the globe, and as she did, she smelled a smoky maleness at her back and turned to see a man that could only be Mr. Vrane.

“Do you always show up unannounced and make yourself so liberally at home in the libraries of others? I’m Axel Vrane, and I hear you are Ms. Solaine Adams.”

Axel neither looked pleased nor displeased at Solaine’s presence. His voice was mildly irritated yet laced with charm. He was also not immune to the royal blue dress hugging every curve of her delicate frame. His gray eyes were locked in a repeating pattern, moving up and down her figure. She was warned of his rogue ways and stood firm in her mission, longing to finish this and return to attire without mild attraction spells cast on it.

“I am so sorry. This library is like nothing I’ve seen, and this cabinet was open and called to me. I was on my way to your neighbors up the road for a fundraiser.”

“I see. You are curiously fortunate in your misfortune as my gate and that cabinet are mostly closed. It is also fortuitous that you did not get stuck trying to drive with a flat tire up my old driveway. I assume you were going to my nearest neighbor’s house in your flattering blue dress for this event. Would I be correct?”

Solaine could hear a slight whisper from Axel at the end of his curiously polite summation as if he were casting, so she stumbled back a little to distract him. She should have planned this part better for she did not know the name of Axel’s neighbors, and she had been too obvious with her magical presence. She got lucky as he quickly moved towards her, still finding her intriguingly distracting yet realizing she was a threat, and he grabbed for the globe. She whispered four words at exactly the right moment before he touched the globe, watched Axel jolt, and then found herself and the globe in a slum in India.

The boy was waiting for her, standing between the rows of falling houses and makeshift storefronts on either side of them. There was a sweet rotting smell thick in the air, and Solaine’s heart broke as she nearly slipped on garbage on the broken street beneath them. Somebody had tried to pave it, bless their weary soul.

She bent down to the boy’s level, kissing his cheek, causing him to smile and show off the beautiful teeth she gave him the last time she was here. A rat scurried by them, slightly startling her.

“Aranav, son of Aarush and friend to the Wainwrights, I will take what is mine and give to you the gift of power to change what is around you. That power belonged to your great grandfather and would have been your father’s power to give to you if he were here. All I ask is that when the man arrives here looking for all of it, you do your best to keep our secret. Agreed?”

The boy shook his head vigorously, silently dedicated to this accord.

“Good. And as I have taught you, stealing from others, especially magic, is not okay unless it was not for them to take in the first place.”

The boy shook his head again.

Solaine motioned for Aranav to place his hands on the globe and began to whisper her words. She whispered for a long time as this casting required far more than conjuring and charms. Her magical strength increased exponentially as she paused then whispered more words, now unintelligible, syllables blending in unbreakable song.

At one point, the boy jolted, growing slightly taller and less emaciated, healed by the power between them emanating from the globe. The row houses grew tall and straight, and the slime and putrid smell of the slum evaporated. When she was done, she was exhausted yet full of everything a Wainwright deserved. The boy was also full of everything he deserved as son of Aarush, and the slum was now a simple neighborhood, far from riches, but safe from squalor.

Aranav met her eyes and hugged her, the globe still between them, and he finally spoke.

“Thank you, Ms. Wainwright for returning what was ours with honor,” he said as he looked around at a vibrant street around him, clean and full of food stands, soon to be full of people again as dawn was breaking.

Solaine kissed the boy one last time on his cheek and made her way quickly from this street.

An American man traveled to the area one month later. He smelled of smoke, and he told everyone his name was Jim Adams. Jim was searching for something that was stolen from him, and he deposited money in the hands of many along his way to find it. Jim eventually found his way to Aranav’s street, using a map on a scroll. When he arrived, he realized he had been duped by the magic man he paid to draw this map for the street was decent, not a slum. As he angrily turned on his heals, he saw a boy, tall and proud, carrying a plain glass globe. He pivoted to walk towards the boy, but he was too late. The boy disappeared with the globe in a cloud of smoke. Jim knew what had been stolen would never be stolen back. He would find a new way though for she had not taken everything.

Story Pitch

This is the basic premise of a series of books I will start to write. I love when a new story idea is born.

Chronicles of the Wainwright Witches 1: Fire Born

Solaine Adams is living her perfect life in the early 90s as she starts her second year of medical school in Detroit…until she gets pulled into an alley after a Nirvana concert by a man named Anslow Vrain. Anslow says he is here to take all her power away from her, a power with which all Wainwrights are born. He also tells her there is something darkly special about her which is why she must ultimately die. The trouble is Solaine does not remember being a Wainwright or of what power or darkness he speaks, and Solaine would like to keep living.

As Anslow sends her on a forced quest for answers she’s not sure she wants, Solaine meets another man, Gray Morgenstern, who swears they are dear childhood companions. Forced to travel down a path of discovery about herself, unraveling her otherwise successful existence, Solaine must also choose her friends and foes amongst these two men and a cast of mysterious and magical characters who have now taken over her life and dreams. The battle between dark and light powers, the choice between science and the supernatural, and her continued existence now rest on the choices Solaine will make.

Disease Is The Enemy, Not Each Other

Last night I dreamed I was back in an Applied Microbiology lab with one of my favorite professors who has since passed from Cancer. He said something back then (early 90s) in his quirky, ominous voice that caused us to lovingly make fun of him for a couple of weeks. This was the guy who had his car keys in his hand when he asked us if we saw them. He was a great teacher, and he loved science. He dedicated his life to research and students. He bought me a $100 distillation tube when I broke mine for the third time in a semester.

He said, “Disease is our enemy, not each other.”

This was during the concerns we faced from the Ebola virus. I wanted to share this before I continue working and before I forget again. He also said we have great power as scientists to help.

The Chemistry of Snow

Megan let the snowflakes glide and melt on her tongue, each crystal an icy piercing balancing the heat her body felt immersed in the hot tub, creating an equilibrium. It was early November, and deep snow usually did not arrive in Michigan until later in the month, but everything was unusual right now. It was their tenth anniversary, and as she looked across the hot tub at his smiling face, she remembered the day they met. Every line in his face told their story, and she could see a patch of his skin still smooth and carefree from their youth.

They met after the chemistry lab she failed, on another deep snow kind of day. It was the day they would get eight inches of snow on the campus of Michigan State University.

She was catching snowflakes on her tongue when David walked up behind her and said, “You know that you are probably swallowing chemicals from the atmosphere with each snowflake you eat, right?”

“I don’t care. I just failed my chemistry lab. I am probably poisoned with chemicals from that. And for what? An F?”

“I know. I sit three tables behind you, and I saw about six things you did wrong to get you that F.”

Megan narrowed her eyes at the curly haired, lightly bearded, Doc Marten wearing misfit now face to face with her. He struck her as Iggy Pop crossed with Screech from Saved by the Bell. He gave off positive energy, a proton with hands in mittens swaying wildly.

“If I was doing everything so wrong, then why didn’t you step in to help, genius?” Megan put her hands on her hips and watched as her flirt magic made the boy more awkward than he started. She was more like an electron.

He lifted one side of his generous lips in a crooked smile. “You don’t seem like the kind of girl who wants help. You strike me as a live and learn scientist. This is probably the creepy point where I should also admit that it is fun to just watch you. I’m David…David Gheen.”

“Megan Lackey. David the Creeper, would you like to walk with me in the snow and get slightly drunk in my dorm room talking about what I’m going to do with my life now that I’m ­a chemistry failure?”

“It’s like my dream came true.”

“You probably should have saved that for the second hookup, but I’ll still take you with me today.”

They locked hands; free radicals now paired. The snow whipped their faces as they walked, and their bodies drew closer, creating a heat catalyst for the attraction chemistry between two lonely people. He smelled like soap and coffee, and she smelled like strawberries from the shampoo she used that morning. In her room, they drank cheap red wine, watched Pink Floyd’s The Wall, listened to Nirvana, and welcomed the morning in bed together. It was the first day of the rest of the chemical reaction that would keep them together until it was not strong enough.

They married the November after they graduated from Michigan State. It snowed so badly that day it kept the flights of their guests grounded. It was their addition reaction during an absolute zero day. They earned their doctorates together on the banks of the Red Cedar River and refused to leave the campus of Michigan State until they were made professors, becoming reagents in the experiment of everyday life. They did research, taught, and laughed over expensive red wine on a blanket on campus grounds. Sometimes making out as if they were still students, a covalent bond in a divorce and run world.

Megan now sat staring at David’s face, the snowflakes too heavy for her tongue, their crystalline structure disintegrating like her and David would when their bond could not fix everything.

“I need you to be okay, David. You have to move forward with this.”

“I refuse to be an experiment. You know that. I thought we were on the same page. I’m tired.”

“You don’t get to quit. There is more we can try. We made all of this together, and I…I mean we need you to see it through.”

They were a few feet apart with angry, free-floating energy between them, wayward molecules not connecting. 

“You can do this. I know you can, Megan. I will always be with you even if this can’t be fixed.”

Megan’s memories and David’s face floated from her in the steam rising from their hot tub. It had been 10 years since she felt at equilibrium. Today was the anniversary of when their bond abruptly broke. A reaction had started inside of her the last time David made love to her before cancer decimated his body and soft, curly hair. Before receiving the call to say goodbye, she dropped a lab beaker and sliced her hand open. She showed up at the hospital, her hand wrapped in a scarf they bought in Italy at a conference of world-renowned chemists.

He smiled, sparks of yellow still igniting his brown eyes. “Remember the day you failed your lab?”

“How could I forget?” Her throat burned from holding in a sob. He placed his hand on her arching belly, and his exothermic warmth caused a kick.

“The worst thing you did was not measuring your reagents precisely, and the best thing you did was taking me back to your dorm room. You were my most perfect yield.”

Before Megan could tease him, his beautiful particles, the ones she tried so desperately to put back together for the last year, found their permanent resting state.

Megan returned to the present, feeling the smack of a frigid, solid state orb against her cheek. It was a perfectly packed snowball which then hit the hot water in the tub and disappeared as if its matter never existed. The unmitigated giggles of a boy followed…her curly haired, brown-eyed son, every bit as kinetic as David.

The Night Gardeners 2: The War of the Rabbit

“Tallyhooooo and bugaboooooo! Troops, we have a problem,” Smith yelled, forgetting a whisper yell was the preferred communication for the Night Gardeners. He tilted his blue cone to the left and placed his hands on his hips just above his trowel holster.

“Smith, it is just one rabbit. I think this might be a wee overreaction. Yes?” Margie just wanted to weed tonight. Smith had been too focused on the nibbling of rabbits for her taste this week. This garden had a one rabbit problem, and Margie was content to weed and forget, weed and forget.

“Bob, can you explain to Margie about how one rabbit becomes thousands of rabbits, tearing your Centaurea montana from the earth, beautiful flowers and roots…NEVER TO RETURN?”

“You were always better at biology, Smithy. Anyways, what is the common name for Century Mount Tana?”

“Sweet weed whipper near a perennial, Bob. Amethyst on snow. I’m not even going to correct your pronunciation of the French name.”

“I thought it was Latin,” Margie poked the pint-sized, portly bear she called Smith.

“Enough, both of you. The enemy returns in a few minutes, and we must take back this garden and do so quietly. We don’t want to wake the ginger…public enemy number two. I have stacked some rocks over there. When it arrives, we will throw rocks at it until it surrenders…alive…or worse.”

“Smith, have you been sniffing too much weed killer? I am not killing that bunny. Live and let live, I say. It doesn’t attack us, and we are not attacking it.”

“So be it, Margie. Bob and I will be the brave souls to eradicate this menace.”

“Alrighty then, Smith. I’ll be in the back of the garden protesting this war by pulling weeds.” Margie pulled up her gardening apron hoisting the only thing ample about her…her bosom.

 It was a muggy night in late June, the air heavier with Smith’s dissatisfaction over the rabbit who was now late to arrive. Bob stood behind Smith, a distracted foot soldier not entirely understanding the nature of this war. And just like that, the rabbit emerged from the darkness, pausing, wiggling its nose.

“Look at that Bob. Our enemy at the gate is mocking us.”

“Where’s the gate? I didn’t think the Rogers had a garden gate.”

“Of course they don’t, Bob! Now shhhhhhhh and grab us our weapons from that pile!”

As Bob slumped and trudged to the rock pile, quickly losing interest in hurting the rabbit, Margie emerged with her tiny shovel from the back of the garden.

“GOOOOOOOOOO NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW!” Margie went running at the rabbit, like Braveheart against an entire army, her jiggle in full force. The rabbit quickly pivoted and hopped the hop of a thousand hops, disappearing into the night, a silent surrender.

“Well there we go, Smith. I don’t think the fuzzy fellow will be returning anytime soon.”

“Margie, the war is not over. We have won this battle, no thanks to you. We must be vigilant.”

“No thanks to me? Humph.” Margie stomped off with the truth at her side.

The next morning, the ginger girl, enemy number two, ran to the garden. She sprinkled pellets of rabbit food from her pet bunny named Sasha. She was determined to find Sasha some friends. Before she left, she bent down and eyed the gnome with the blue cone before lifting him and setting him face first in the dirt of her mother’s garden.

For the first story in this wee series:

https://queenofquill.com/2020/06/13/the-night-gardeners/

The Night Gardeners

“To the left, Bob. No, not that left, your other left,” the one with the unusually bulbous nose with a spot of dirt on the end whispered harshly into the dark of the night.

“You told me to put it over there the other day, Smith. I wish you would make up your mind. She’s going to notice this time.”

“Well, it’s about time she noticed. Everything would be dead out here if we weren’t helping her out.”

“I think she is doing a pretty good job. Her rosebush finally bloomed, and all of the perennials she planted last year came back.”

“Bob, she murdered the succulents, and she weeds like she is blind. Please do not defend her,” Smith wiggled his finger at Bob in admonition.

Bob shrugged and then started to pull on the planter with all his short, squat might to move it ten inches to the left, grunting and sweating even though it was a cool summer night. Sometimes he wondered if Smith was moving things around just to move things around even though he tried to sound like one of those botanists with his reasons. Bob stopped to adjust his long, pointy hat which had flipped to the back. He preferred it at attention, a centered green cone on top of his red, scratchy hair. It was then he heard a sneeze from the back of the garden, a dainty sneeze to start which triumphed at the end with a foghorn type sound. Margie had arrived.

Margie emerged from behind a Rhododendron. “Hello, gents. I see we have a good start to tonight’s efforts. How can I help?”

Smith sighed, hands on his hips. “Perhaps you could start by not sneezing like a ship coming into port, Margie. You know her kids can hear us. The ginger one comes to the window like a sentry when we are out here, and then she babbles stories to her mother during the day about us.”

“Oh, Smith, always so worried you are. If you could just enjoy this and worry less, I think you would have better humor.”

“My humor is not up for discussion. The health and success of this garden is our concern!”

“Okay, okay, no need to get your trowel in a tizzy. I will weed diligently tonight.”

“Perfect. Be sure to get weeds hiding inside of the bushes and plants. She always misses those,” Smith stroked his beard as if doing this made him look more in charge than he actually was. Bob was too genial to challenge him, and Margie did not want to spend precious gardening time to take on old Smithy.

The three gardeners worked well into the night, trimming, moving, watering, weeding, and all other manners of good gardening practices. As night faded into morning, they returned to their places, satiated by the soil and pollen covering them.

The ginger was the first to come out that morning. Her skinned knees met their eye level as she wandered around inspecting their hard work. She stopped briefly to stare at each of them. They could not respond. That is just not how they worked. She wandered the entire perimeter of the garden before returning to Smith and kneeling to look him directly in his immovable eyes.

“I know what you do at night, Smith. Even if my mom won’t listen, I know what you do, and someday I will catch you. Then, we can be friends.” With that, she ran off giggling like a fire-haired elven princess. To Smith, elves were like tall, beardless gnomes. He had no use for them, and he had no use for this little girl, especially the daughter of a substandard gardener.

shame

Wrapper-less candy slapped into your hand from a distance after you asked politely

Discrete looks from shaded eyes overpowering your dignity

Trumpets announcing what you wish could be announced by a muffled flute or ignored entirely

Fair? Where did fair go?

You say I took your freedom when I just asked for understanding.

You can cast it, but you can’t put it back in your pocket.

It is a fireball that will burn a hole in your leg,

the same leg with which you hope to leave the scene.

Dark magic? Is it dark magic?

No, it’s just you pretending to cast doubt, which is actually just

my truth that you wrapped in spite.

Thank you. I feel worse.

I hope you still have a good night though, like the night of an owl

who can’t find its leafy perch after it has found prey.

100 Word Ghost Stories

NYC Midnight Microfiction Contest Prompt: Ghost story, with the word focus, and action of licking an envelope

The Toast

Mark, always the focus at their table of friends, let Anna sit in a quiet shadow beside him. He would toast her, like he always did, to make up for it.

“To Anna, a bright light lost to shadows,” Mark solemnly spoke as he raised his obligatory glass.

Anna struggled to grip her wine glass, perplexed at the toast and her last fight with Mark. When the fight ended unresolved, she licked an envelope at his insistence, still remembering the odd metallic taste.

Anna went to speak, but Claire sat down through her, grabbing Mark’s hand with a coy smile.

The Promise

“Promise me you will move on,” Wren insisted with ragged breath through the fence. Even through her mask, she could smell his intoxicating spice.

“I want to go with you,” she screamed as he walked away for the last time.

Two years later to the day, she sat at a desk in the grim flat issued to her upon surviving the final wave of illness. Her focus was lost to an apparition on the wall and the smell of spice in the air. Suddenly compelled, she licked the envelope containing her positive response to the previously unrequited love of another.

Violet in the Dark

Violet found the darkest corner of her closet, leaving a tenuous sliver of focus into her room, lit only by unicorns and stars projected onto the ceiling. Her hands were covered in a dark, oozing slime found around the necks of her parents and sister, stiff in their beds.

The apparition was here now, preceded by a telltale chill­. It picked up something off her desk. Violet swallowed her breath as it licked the barely visible flash of a white envelope, setting it down outside the closet door, palpably pausing, then leaving. The note read, “You killed them, not me.”

Maggie’s Last Stand

“Focus is what you lacked, Maggie. I’m finally done taking care of you,” he said before he licked the envelope and slammed it on the table near the stairs.

“The only thing I lacked was your love, Greg,” Maggie said, looking down at her tattooed bruises, colored sunset purple.

With narrowed eyes and clenched fists, he walked past her. Sometimes, he would walk into her, delivering a jab or push.

Greg fell to his death down the stairs that night, the startled victim of a whispered threat. Maggie’s death certificate was found in a sealed envelope near his crumpled body. 

The 10th Quarantine

I remembered the day I opened my door after the last six-month quarantine of The Great Illness. I lived on a typically quiet cul-de-sac in a sleepy Midwestern town, but the sound of an amped guitar hummed through the air, and I could hear the lyrics of Here Comes the Sun carried to my doorstep like it was floating on water.

I walked onto my porch and dots of bright yellow dandelions littered my lawn. Nobody cared anymore what their lawns looked like during quarantines. We only cared about when we would be let out again. Suddenly, I heard the sound of laughter from my two favorite neighbors, the Smith twins. All of my children were now grown and sheltering elsewhere, so the Smith twins brought me the joy of youth and possibility.

The lily skinned twins with shocks of bright red hair ran to my doorstep. “Mrs. Rogers, Mrs. Rogers, we’re so happy to see you.”

“I am so happy to see you, too, my darlings. Would you like some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies?”

“Oh, yes please,” they said with crooked grins of missing teeth.

As soon as I gave them the cookies, they exchanged additional pleasantries, and jumped away like dolphins on the open ocean.

As I stood, my dress swaying in the spring breeze, watching them return home joyful, I could see my roses in bloom in my front garden. I took in a deep breath and stepped out onto my lawn. Somebody was cooking something spicy smelling of Sriracha and garlic. The Great Illness could not take my senses, my sculpture of memories, or my will to dance in life’s ballet of normal. I left the safety of my lawn and the 10th quarantine of my lifetime to visit the rest of my neighbors, with the words of the e.e. cummings’ poem “I carry your heart with me” in my head.