I Know What I Know

Giving Back to the Web since 2015

Heritage Days 2022

We treat Heritage like an artifact

something cataloged

sheltered and sealed 

for museum display. 

We think it lives behind glass

We bring it out only for a dusting,

to polish the placard

the words engraved

with a blade forged by surety

and complacence.

Meant to be beheld,

to receive our gaze

to be passed by lines of schoolchildren

muzzled by obligation

See this, kids?

This is our Heritage.

Isn’t it nice? 

Something to be proud of?

Is it not well kept?

Can we touch it? (no)

Can we take it out from behind the glass? (no)

Can we see it up close? (no — stay behind the velvet rope!)

Well… can we ask it questions?
Can we ask you questions about it? 

It’s preserved here in perpetuity,

a symbol in its tomb

it is a martyr’s body

a bone in a reliquary

we hold it up as holy.

But what if it lived?

What if we dared to revive it,

encouraged it to breathe? 

What if we could look at it closely,

magnified, carbon dated,

examined through as many lenses as there are flowers

along a winding Iowa backroad?

What if Heritage could speak,

could try to answer our questions?

In what language would we hear its voice?

Algonquin? Meskwaki-Sauk?

German? Czech? English?

And what languages will it learn?

(Spanish? African American English? Binary code?)

Because it can learn.

And if Heritage can speak

it can listen. 

Heritage is not tradition; it is not immovable.

Heritage is not nostalgia, 

though sometimes it is passed off as such,

bottled and sold with lies on the label,

the clouded glass obscuring the contents, 

full of sugar to mask the taste of poison. 

Heritage is our birthright.

Like privilege, it comes to some

by no virtue other than exiting the womb.

Heritage is inheritance.

We are handed it, it is willed to us

and it is ours, in all its glory and ugliness.

Heritage is our legacy. 


we get to decide what we bequeath. 

We can weave our Heritage with the majesty of uplifting 

Our Heritage can be hands outstretched

We can choose to pass on what makes the world more free and just

What we do for ourselves is no endowment

What we do for others lives beyond us. 

Memorial Day 2022

This is an Invocation


The goddess— 

born, they say, from the forehead of her father

known as Pallas, she

of War, of Wisdom,

one with the blade, the loom, 

or written word

look to our Lady of the Owls to find

she came from Zeus’s head

but embodies mortal, human mind.

For what are our brains but

caves that harbor contradictions —

War and Wisdom twist within

our noble words and maledictions. 


We wake now from our history books

to see the clear-cut past 

plunged into mist by the voices

of those who were, for so long, 

kept in silence by the winds

of endless nights, lost in the

agony of the Middle Passage.


Our palace goddess,

patron saint of

Freedom and Democracy

demands all sides of history,

says 1619, not 1620.


Still one more truth inside the cave:

it used to be easy 

to face a risen flag,

to see honor cast

in black and white, wrong and right.

The rope to raise the flag

remains unbroken, but

the strands are frayed

in our grasping fingers.

Nostalgia begs us to recall

a Rockwellean antiquity,

bygone eras that didn’t exist.

But we must be free to challenge this, 

to welcome its disruption,

watch our settled history shrink,

slide away to nothing,

as a vanished drop of water fades.

There were no good old days. 


An early morning, tender spring,

a flag in every room by law,

and every child stands to sing

the chanted pledge they learned last fall.

To those who’ve truly sacrificed,

the human hearts who gifted service

or their lives, the dearest price,

this forced allegiance serves no purpose.

Not bad

as far as rote oaths go

but you cannot love

what you do not know.


Our heroes return to their homes broken

with limbs like phantoms,

their smiles made of rust and sand.


as though you stand

under the bone-white columns 

of the Parthenon:

War and Wisdom

hand in hand, embodied in

Athena, patron of the brave,

counselor of heroes.

We have a democracy to save.

And as we honor and remember 

we must embrace the mist and see

there is no honor in holding up 

the tiny, fractured, 

one-sided piece of a story.

The truth cannot destroy the potential of America,

only strengthen the

sweet whispered promise

of what we can be, 

when we demand the self-evident truths

and call upon the promises made in 1776


at last 

be kept. 

10 Little-Known Facts about Amelia M. Kibbie

  1. The best scent wax I have ever found is Silver Birch by Yankee Candle Company. It lasts way longer than your usual wax melts. I gotta say it makes your whole bathroom smell like a very handsome, freshly-washed himbo/dudebro, which for some reason I am %100 into.

2. If I had actually gotten the tattoo I wanted at age sixteen, I would be stuck with a Smashing Pumpkins tramp stamp.

3. Sometimes I can only think of the punchlines of jokes but have no idea how to set the joke up. For example, “A Mad-Maxi pad!” or “Pringles give you singles!”

probably because he has shingles

4. I used to know how to curry down a horse, get rocks out of its hooves, and put a blanket and a saddle on it, though I never graduated to bits/bridles.

I wasn’t a Taylor Swift-style horse girl. I was a Tina, through and through.

5. When my lips get chapped and I put on chapstick, my lips get more chapped because I can’t stop licking or rubbing the lip balm off, which just makes everything worse and proves I have no self-control. My only hope is to fall asleep with it on.

If you know the reference, you are cool.

6. I never watched Game of Thrones. I got the first two episodes on a DVD from Netflix (remember when) but I just sent it back without watching it for reasons I couldn’t understand at the time other than I just didn’t feel like watching it. Now I know I will never watch it because of all the rapes, and the ending itself is all over the internet for being garbage.

I think I got the basic story anyway because of all the memes I’ve seen

7. I used to drink my coffee black and make fun of people for liking cream and sugar. Now I have to have creamer, but it can’t be overly sweet or flavored. I prefer heavy cream or half and half, and never sugar or sweetener. Sometimes cinnamon.

8. I like plain bagels with peanut butter on one side and plain cream cheese on the other and then you make it a sandwich. I figured this out from eating continental breakfast at hotels where they only have plain cream cheese. I found it boring and tried something new.

9. The song I sang to my daughter the most in her infancy was not a lullaby, but the Ghostbusters theme while I made her legs dance. I don’t know why, but she loved it.

10. My high school used to have a 50-cent pop can machine with Mt. Dew and Wild Cherry Pepsi. I used to slam those things like you wouldn’t believe. Now I hate both of those sodas and almost all pop, though Sierra Mist has been weirdly appealing to me lately. The concept of there being a pop machine in a school where freshmen could drop in some quarters and chug Mt. Dew just really floors me. Times have changed!

This is an Elegy


This dark year, we buried our elders.

We knew we would outlive them, mourn them, but not like this.

This was not their time. Death does come for all 

But we can agree it does not come with equity.

We all must walk that lonely road

But many do not cross so easily.

Far from their safe houses

They slipped away surrounded not by kinfolk

But by attending angels, all veils and shields, tender but still strangers.

Their wings were gloves,

And our elders left alone with no bare hands to hold.

So it is with many of our soldiers on this wall

All those across this land who fell

Who were robbed of a good death, their hands empty 

Or held by strangers, or a gun.

Heroes sacrifice a chance to cross the veil in peace, bathed in love.

Some of these granite names surely fell in battle,

Others, perhaps in accidents or by diseases of the clime

Their bodies betraying them before they reached the fight

And many have come home from where they served our country

To live their lives and die 

Flanked by family and friends, blessed with a good death. 

But in the noises of today, flags in the wind

The notes of taps so sweely blown, your breath all made of honor

And nostalgic reverence

This day where we say freedom isn’t free and we call these ghosts heroic

Let us not forget our lonely ones

Who came home and still died alone

Don’t be afraid to speak the whole truth:

Suicide. Homelessness. Substance abuse. Crisis of the Soul. Trauma.

We all must walk that lonely road

But many do not cross so easily. 


Each human on this earth is guaranteed one life,

A precious thing, a fragile bird, a candle flame,

A treasure chest of days and weeks and years, like jewels.

Our honored ones, they gave out portions of their diamonds

Or handed America their entire lustrous prize,

Spilled their blood like rubies 

or gave away their days

Meant to be spent with husbands, wives,

Hours meant for watching their children grow.

These are the things sacrificed in service,

And for this gift, we offer them our love.


What, now, is our consolation?

You gave your life for this young nation?

A call answered? A family left?

Your absence leaves them bare, bereft.

How are we to soothe ourselves

When we’ve been told that war is hell,

Burning houses’ ashes fly,

Comrades staring at the sky. 

As Creedence says, our unfortunate sons

Will wear the helmets, hold the guns

Enlisting, perhaps, to have a chance

To change their luck and circumstance

Or to make their homeland proud

Because the message is so loud

That heroes help to keep us free

And protect democracy

Like the diamonds of our lives

The truth here has so many sides.

Shine light through them, and you will find

It shattered, split, and undefined.

In this moment, let us bind

And balm these wounds in flesh and mind

With reflection, strength, and souls attuned

to faith, and hope, and gratitude.

Late to the Hannibal Party but Loving Every Second *minor spoilers*

Coach wasn’t wrong…

I have something to confess. 

So… here goes.

I am a Fannibal.

And I unapologetically ship Hannigram

If it sounds like I’m speaking a foreign language right now, I apologize for confusing you. Allow me to elucidate and perhaps bring you over to a twisted but delicious little corner of Netflix. 

A lot of people measured their pandemic lock down by the TV shows and movies they binged. I definitely watched Tiger King (because I’d listened to the podcast Over My Dead Body and knew/loved the story already), but that’s about it. I’m just not much of a TV or movie watcher anymore — I’m either too busy, or can’t relax because I feel like I should be doing something productive. Part of it is ants-in-the-pants ADHD too. I can only watch about 20 minutes of anything at a time, but once I started watching a certain television show on Netflix I most definitely was able to sit still for at least a whole episode. 

That incredible show was NBC’s Hannibal, which ran from 2013-2015 with three seasons and 39 glorious episodes. I watched the first five episodes when they were on the air and just finished the season finale (of course going back to watch the first five again to remember what was going on). What can I say? TL;DR — Hannibal is so good and you need to stop what you are doing and go watch it. Oh, and they NEED to make a season 4!!!

You can’t marry a Murder Husband you just met.

Hannibal is based on Thomas Harris’s book Red Dragon, the prequel to The Silence of the Lambs and is a delight for anyone who is a Hannibal Lecter fan in general. I’ve always adored the Jodie Foster movie — it was one of my like 10 VHS tapes I had when I didn’t have cable, so I watched it a lot. I still maintain that is the only horror movie to ever win Best Picture at the Oscars. I remember when the movie Hannibal came out, which is actually a pretty good movie aside from the recasting of Clarice Starling (though Julianne Moore didn’t do a bad job, I just missed Jodie). I read all the books when I was a teenager, though I’d really like to revisit them since I doubt I completely understood them at that age. So I came to Hannibal as a fan of the books and the characters already. 

Little did I know that this series would seriously rival the movies, coming close (though not quite) to surpassing Silence of the Lambs. Y’all seriously. It’s SO GOOD. 

If Hannibal’s going to hell I hope he saves me a seat.

Let’s start at the heart of the show — Hannibal Lecter. He is played gloriously by Mads Mikkelsen, whose entire motivation for the character has been to play Hannibal as Lucifer, the fallen angel. Instead of being evil in a classic “I’m a twisted killer” sense, there is a weird logic to everything the character does that makes him so complex and compelling. He’s more interested in setting people up to sin rather than doing evil for the sake of evil, manipulating them into situations just to, in his own words, “see what would happen.” Also, let’s not forget that Lucifer was once an angel, and not any angel — the Lord’s favorite, the most beautiful. Mikkelsen makes Hannibal so multi-faceted, a demon who is capable of great violence who is also an artist capable of creating beautiful things, and who also appreciates beauty — surrounds himself with it, craves it. The Devil is very lonely, and Hannibal spends a great deal of the show looking for a connection with somebody, anybody who might understand and accept his view of the world. As is usual with the character of Hannibal Lecter, the viewer is obviously aware that he is a murderer and a cannibal, but you really can’t help but root for him. 

Mads Mikkelsen captures his nuances so beautifully, and in a second language! His mother tongue is Danish and his accent is just like… okay, so since we’re confessing things and being honest, I have to tell you… holy shit, Mads Mikkelsen is hot. Let’s be real, that helps explain this iteration of Hannibal Lecter’s appeal. The suits alone will bring you to your knees. 

The show centers around FBI profiler Will Graham, played by Hugh Dancy, and his descent into madness as he gets closer and closer to the murderers he profiles, to the point where he feels a kinship with them, and realizes that he has must as much in common with them as with “normal” people — maybe even more. Hannibal sees Will as someone who has the capacity to understand his worldview, aesthetic, and darkest secrets, and begins to cultivate him with the intention of creating a partner for himself to fully share his life with. And man, all I wanted as a viewer was for it to work out for them! So funny to be rooting for murderers but here we are. 

The first two seasons dance around the idea that Hannibal and Graham might have romantic (or even sexual) feelings for each other is implied through subtext and lots of longing glances, but in the third season there’s a (mostly) clear confirmation of the relationship we’ve all been shipping — Hannigram! Though we never get our kiss, it’s pretty incredible to have had a show this queer on a mainstream network. I mean, there aren’t a lot of straights on the show TBH! Dr. Chilton is definitely not heteronormative, Alana is bisexual, Jimmy is gay, Margo is bisexual, and at one point, Will asks and Bedelia confirms that Hannibal is in love with him. 

Oh Hugh Dancy… you so fancy

Oh shit, Bedelia! I didn’t tell you that GILLIAN ANDERSON is in this show!!!!! I have loved her since X-Files and she is literally one of the most talented actors alive or dead. 

I love crime shows. I love Hannibal Lecter. And I love food. Is it bad that all of the eating scenes I’m like, “Mmm that looks great” even if it’s like a cooked human leg? Okay, there’s something wrong with me. Any other Fannibals out there pretend that they’re Hannibal in the kitchen, wearing a classy apron and listening to Chopin, even though all you’re making is Hamburger Helper? Because that is quite literally me right now. 

Hannibal is one of the most visually appealing, well-edited, musical, lavish, queer, and wonderful shows to ever be made. It’s a total travesty it was cancelled after 3 seasons, but now that it’s moved to Netflix, maybe they’ll bring it back for a season 4. Season 4 because we’re hungry for MORE! 

Okay side note that doesn’t have to do with anything — you know a show is cool that has every character who ever gets injured use a jaunty cane instead of crutches or a wheelchair. Seriously! Dr. Chilton gets disemboweled? Give him a sweet-ass cane. Alana gets thrown out a window? Cane. Jack Crawford gets hamstrung? Cane. No less-than-classy rubber and metal crutches for these folks. Okay, that’s actually kind of ridiculous and I had to laugh when I saw the third freakin’ Bond villain/vaudeville MC cane come out, but hey. GO WATCH THE SHOW and please enjoy my pinterest board of Hannibal memes and sexy pictures of Hugh and Mads.

Vision Boards – Part I

Hello everyone! I apologize for the long hiatus on this blog. In the time I’ve been gone, I’ve written two novels, and published one you can find here on Amazon. 

Now, I know what I know, and what I know is that vision boards are kind of insanely awesome. I made my first one this week as part of a book club for teachers that I’m facilitating. We’re studying Teach Like a Pirate and twining that together with mindfulness practice, as the I in P.I.R.A.T.E stands for Immersion, which is just a fancy way of saying being present for your students. 

This article gives a fantastic description of what vision boards are all about, and why you need them in your life. My board is so big that I haven’t finished it yet. When I do, I’ll try to add a picture here. But, for now, let’s take a look at a few of the things I chose to include on my board, and why. 

Leslie Hall


Leslie Hall is, to me, art defined. Yes, she has incredible raps about gem sweaters and having tight pants and body rolls, but what I love most about her is how she styles herself in her own words, “strangely glamorous and unflattering ways.” She’s an Ames, Iowa native, which goes to show you that yes, there are creative artist types in Iowa who do insanely creative things besides grow corn and look at corn. What I love best about her is how she has entirely, wholeheartedly, and unapologetically embraced her plus-size figure without trying to make any claim about being beautiful. In fact, the way she styles herself is straight up ANTI-BEAUTY which makes her a legit force of nature. That is the energy I need in my life. 

Julia Child


Julia Child is, of course, a cooking genius, and I do love to cook. But for me, Julia symbolizes two very important things. First, tall women who are not apologetic for their size, and who demand to take up space, are friggin’ amazing. I hated being tall growing up because I was taller than the boys for a long while. Oh my God, like that mattered! Gah, I can’t believe I wasted time caring about that. Julia was over six feet tall in the 1940s, which would have been an even more awkward time to be an amazon. She knew she was “no beauty.” In the movie Julie and Julia she jokes with her sister when they are getting dressed up in front of the mirror, “This is as good as it gets!” which I never took to be a lament, but more of an empowering statement. Like, “You know what? This is as good as it gets. This is me, like it or not. I have put forth the required effor to meet your stupid beauty standards.” AND YET she was not afraid to appear on television for years. The other thing I treasure Julia for is how she used to make mistakes on the show and just keep going on. She showed that nobody’s perfect in the kitchen, or in life, but you have to move on with a laugh. 

The Burnt Chicken Nugget Kid


If you know me, you know I love nothing more than to watch iconic vine compilations. I have many favorites, but one of the most inspiring ones is a little kid filming himself saying. “I love myself. Even though I look like a burnt chicken nugget, I still love myself.” You have to admit, he does look a little like a burnt chicken nugget. But if he can love himself, and I can love him for his candor and message, I can love myself. 

Amazons from “Wonder Woman” and Captain Marvel

The two most important superhero movies in the last decade are Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel. When I saw the first half-hour of Wonder Woman I literally cried. The Amazons were everything I ever wanted of women warriors on the big screen. The filmmakers cast actual female athletes of every shape and skin color to represent these elite warrior women. Watching them kick ass without in any way being sexualized was just… it was everything. Honestly, once Diana left Themyscira the movie went downhill. It was good and everything, but it still had Wonder Woman fawning over babies, eating ice cream, and boning a dude. Now Captain Marvel, that’s a movie. I almost cried again, because here again, I got to see a female superhero treated like a male superhero in a movie, with a real superhero costume that was not centered in any way about showing off Brie Larsen’s sexy bits. Some people think Brie Larson is a bitch because she came into the Marvel universe acting like she owned the place and the other actors who had been together for years on this franchise thought she was up on her high horse. Others also don’t like Captain Marvel’s attitude in Endgame. To that I say, too bad. I hope Brie came in and was like, “Hey I’m not going to fawn all over the rest of you. I’m amazing and I’m here to stay, so sorry if you’re butthurt, Chris Evans.” And when she left earth to fight for other planets? Yeah, sorry, there’s a whole galaxy out there. If dozens of super-powered heroes can’t keep the earth safe without her, that’s their problem. She came back when it counted. 

St. Catherine of Siena


I recently visited Siena and got to hear a lot about St. Catherine’s story. The thing that struck me the most about her is how she was able to change so much about the church, and thereby her world, by writing. Her letters to the pope convinced him to reform the clergy, and she is known as one of the most important spiritual writers in Catholicism. She had a lot of political power for a woman in her time period, and accomplished much in her short 33 years, all through the power of writing. Obviously, as a writer myself, I want to believe that the pen is mightier than the sword, and that words can change the world. 

Stay tuned for my next installment — Vision Boards, Part II! I told you, my vision board is huge. There are too many things on there for one post. See you next time!

I’m a Vintage Queen!

One of my former students, Lisbon HS senior Natalie Ott, interviewed me for her fashion blog. Her article is so incredibly written I had to share it with you. Not only that, of course, it’s about moi and how fashionable I am 🙂

Check it out! 


Birds of a Feather — Fun Running/Playing Kenku in Dungeons and Dragons

Shout out to all my fabulous nerds, especially those of us who enjoy the unprecedented masterpiece that is Dungeons and Dragons! I’ve been playing D&D on and off since college, but I’ve been in a steady campaign since 2009 or so. Nothing beats an evening of good folks and collaborative storytelling!

Recently, my Dungeon Master (who just happens to be my husband too!) has led our party to a very distinctive settlement — the village of Eagle Scream, deep in the jungles of the Southlands. This settlement is inhabited by the mysterious Kenku, a humanoid/avian race. The Kenku have been in the game world for awhile, but were first introduced as playable characters in Volo’s Guide to Monsters (5e).

My beloved DM mentioned that he had had a lot of trouble finding much online about the Kenku culture. If you click here and here you can read about the basics of the race, such as the bonuses and abilities. There’s plenty of information about Kenku as they try to survive among others in cities, or as they wander, homeless, through the land. But there is very little about what an all-Kenku settlement would be like. Or how this particular population of Kenku may have broken their curse!

So, without any other formalities, here are some of the details my DM, our player Chealsey (who is actually playing a Kenku character) and I came up with for a stable Kenku settlement. Most of this is stuff I just played around with in my head today, mixed in with a lot of the stuff my husband and Chealsey came up with. Since I’m playing in the campaign right now, I may not have discovered all the secrets and nuances of the Eagle Scream my husband created. I’m just running with what they already have very cleverly presented in the game!

The Curse

Many of the Kenku in the settlement have gone through a trial or challenge to win back their ability to craft speech and get back some of their creativity. In our campaign, our quest party decided to accompany our friend Birdy (yes, that is what we call her) to try and win back her voice. We have been sent on an epic dungeon crawl through an ancient temple where we our worthiness is being judged. I can’t get into that now — that might be the subject of another post, but my DM is totally rocking it with the puzzles and traps! The dungeon is in the temple of Garuda, king of birds.

The Settlement

Eagle Scream is a perched village constructed in the treetops of a massive, ancient forest. They have rope-and-pulley elevator systems, wooden walkways, rope bridges, ladders, and netting to navigate the different dwellings. Houses are typically wooden huts or lean-tos, with some tent-like structures made of their signature woven cloth. Some bigger structures are carved into the living trees, or the trees have grown around them over the centuries. The settlement is concealed from the ground by the leaves, as well as a optical illusion. The Kenku here make a special cloth that is dull russet on one side and silvery on the other. This is draped in strategic places all around the settlement. When it blows in the wind and reflects with the sunlight, it appears from the ground that there are silverly, ghostly spirits flying through the trees. Several whistle contraptions carved of wood and bone are strategically placed so that the wind blows through them, creating haunting, moaning sounds to add to the affect. Space is at a premium here, so gathering places are used for multiple things. For example, a large platform might be a market place by day, and a bar/hangout by night.


The Kenku settlement operates like many medieval towns, with artisans, merchants, etc. There is more trading than using currency, though they do use coins as well. Mimicry potions are extremely cheap here, like 25 gp or less, so this is a good place to stock up! The Kenku are master weavers, and are able to replicate any kind of cloth or tapestry design after studying it for a short time. As this particular settlement has become more creative again, one might observe weavers incorporating multiple styles together in a kind of collage, creating a one-of-a-kind bolt of cloth or tapestry. They are also very clever at crafting wicker, and use it to make armor, furniture, baskets, fishing equipment, parts of buildings, etc. This settlement also has several individuals actively working on flight technology and magic. Many have a harness with expandable canvas wings that allow them to glide. Think hang-glider. These kenku also produce some of the finest honey in the region, and the royal jelly from this honey gives players +1 to hit and +1 to damage for an hour after consuming it. Kenku also adore shiny things. The baubles don’t have to be worth much, as long as they are shiny! Many decorate their homes and themselves with sparkly stuff. Gems make for GREAT trading.

Social Organization

It’s rare for so many Kenku to be living in one place. This settlement encompasses multiple flocks, which are affiliated by bloodline, though intermingling does happen. Each flock has a Matriarch, the eldest female of the bloodline. When decisions must be made that affect the entire settlement, the Matriarchs gather to discuss and give their wisdom. The day-to-day running of the settlement, however, is shouldered by elected officials from each house that work together for the good of the group. Political intrigue does occur, but most in this place are more concerned with flight, or breaking their curse, as opposed to infighting or jockeying for position. There are temples here, with clerics, a mage guild, and a fighter’s guild. Defying the “birds mate for life” stereotype, this society does not subscribe to monogamous marriage-like unions. Though some mates stay together for many years, it is more fruitful for everyone to have multiple partners. Many hatchlings aren’t sure who their fathers are, and the mothers purposely do not confirm. That way, the males of the settlement believe that any child could be theirs, and therefore want to teach and protect it.


This settlement has cast aside the old gods that cursed them. In their new pantheon, there are tales of how these new gods rose up and cast out the gods that cursed the Kenku. This is evidenced by Garuda’s ability to reverse the curse. There are other gods that have stepped up to replace the old gods, much like Greek Mythology. You can set whatever alignment you like to these, and there are more available on other sites.

Amalthea, Queen of Heaven — Garuda’s wife, the Great Goddess. Sacred to women, protector of children, Goddess of Love, Egg-Laying, Nesting Craft, and Fertility, she of the White Wings.

Zadok — God of Storms — controls the weather. Can be extremely benevolent, or violently angry and need to be placated. Appears as a Kenku with wings made of stormclouds, threaded with lightning.

Mordru Slaine — Trickster god, uses his mimicry to confuse, beguile, and grift. Protector of thieves, illusionists, and performers. He has the ability to change the appearance of his feathers at will but often appears as a starling.

Dominica — Goddess of Winter and War — appears as a humanoid snowy owl. Protectress of adventurers, fighters, guards. She spreads her wings over the world one at a time to bring the snows and ice. Known to be just, but merciless.

Isasuravestna — the Spirit of Flight is depicted as a glowing, diamond-shaped star, a disembodied being that was torn from the Kenku by the old gods. It has yet to be coaxed back into them, but some worship it in an attempt to gain its favor.

Nethaniah — God of Water and Wisdom — He appears as a Kenku waterfowl with webbed feet and hands and shining, waterproof feathers that look blue or black depending on the light. He is the father of Zadok. Preferred by scholars/mages to help the ideas flow.

Ashtoretta — Goddess of Fire — she is the one who has promised to restore the spark of creativity to the Kenku if they become worthy. She is worshipped by artisans for her powers of inspiration. She appears as a golden-feathered Kenku with wings of fire.

One Last Thing…

Is playing a Kenku possible without having the curse broken? Yes. As a player, you have to think about like, what would it be like if you could only speak in vine/meme quotes? If someone scared you, you couldn’t say “that scared me” you’d have to say “I almost dropped my croissant!” For the Kenku, it’s similar. They can only repeat phrases they could have heard somewhere else in the voice of the person they heard say it. The way we’ve been playing it, players are NOT allowed to literally chop up individual words and string them together. They can only use repeated phrases. Basically, the rest of the players and the DM call BS if we think the Kenku character is saying something that they never would have overheard. If we are not speaking in character, and it is assumed that we are going to be talking for several hours (like hatching a plan or something) then we let the player revert to normal speech, assuming that with enough time allotted she could get her point across.

It’s a fun race to play. Try it!

Oh, nice buns.


Preserving Tradition

So, it turns out that mason jars have other uses besides decorating tables at Pinterest-inspired rustic-themed weddings or drinking “Southern” style drinks at chain restaurants.

That’s right, folks, I’m talking about their original purpose — canning food to preserve it for later.

Canning is a family tradition, specifically on my mother’s side. My great grandmother had an enormous garden and spent all summer canning. She might have burned my grandmother, Millie, out on it, because when my mom was growing up, Grandma only canned tomatoes and froze sweet corn. Her mother-in-law, though, was quite the canner, and had a victory garden during World War II (she would lose her son, Russell, when his plane went down over France). Perhaps talent skipped a generation, because my mom returned to the ways of her forebears, and turned half of our back yard into a vegetable patch.

When I was growing up, every summer was a cornucopia of fresh vegetables. Mom was always in a rush to can and preserve everything before it went bad, or, it seemed like that to me. Our house was built in 1899, and heating and cooling it wasn’t always efficient. To save money, we didn’t run the AC often, and when Mom canned, the kitchen got pretty hot. So as a selfish kid/teen, this always really annoyed me. If I complained, though, my mom would say something like, “So in the winter, you don’t want any garden green beans, then?” Canning, while making the kitchen a sauna, was preferable to the day she dried all her basil in the microwave to keep it for the rest of the year. Something about that drying herb smell, mixed with a little burning, made me want to puke.

In hindsight, my complaints were pretty silly, considering the amazing things my mom was doing. Think about the hard work — growing your own vegetables, tending the garden all summer, and then preserving the harvest, all so your family could eat healthy and save money. Yeah, the woman was (and still is) a total superhero. I remember sitting at the kitchen table drawing, or doing homework (at the beginning of the year) while she watched endless marathons of Law and Order, or her soap opera, Days of Our Lives, and canned canned canned all day.

While I can’t have a garden (I live in a condo) I am attempting to keep the tradition alive. I’m proud to call myself a fourth-generation canner! Today I got five pallets of tomatoes at the farmer’s market and I’m ready to preserve.

I’ve decided to do two pallets of plain crushed tomatoes (can be made into anything), two pallets of spaghetti sauce (we went through all of last year’s) and one pallet of extremely hot salsa (just for me, nobody else likes it that hot!).

Step one is to wash all of my cans, lids, and rings in hot soapy water. Next, I’ll put four quarts of water in my pressure cooker and start gently heating it with the empty jars inside. You need the jars, food, rings, and lids all hot at the same time.

I’m going to do the plain tomatoes first. When I do crushed tomatoes, I don’t like skins in it, so I’ll need to remove those. I gently boil the tomatoes until the skins start coming off, and then I squeeze out the inside of the tomato into one bowl and put the skins/cores in the other. You can get this neato device called a vittorio strainer that removes all the skins, stems, and seeds for you, but I don’t have one. I don’t mind seeds in any of my tomato products, and neither does my family, so no worries.

When I’ve de-skinned all the tomatoes, it’s time to ladle them into hot quart jars, and put the hot lids and rings on them. Then, I cook them in the pressure cooker at 11 pounds of pressure for 10 minutes.

For pasta sauce, you can remove the skins if you like, but it’s not required. I cut up and sauté whatever veggies I have laying around (onions, eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, bell pepper, mushroom, etc) and then create a pasta sauce using the diced tomatoes or crushed, skinless tomatoes. Make sure to give it some spices, like salt, pepper, garlic, basil, etc. I also love to throw in kale, because unlike some of the other veggies, it’ll keep its texture through the canning process.

My spaghetti sauce is pretty runny, so when I use it in the winter I sometimes mix it with some tomato paste. I also make it vegetarian so I can add the meat later if I want to. If you decided to do meat, you will have to adjust the canning time and pressure. It takes a LOT longer.

Vegetarian spaghetti sauce should be canned at 10 pounds of pressure for 15 minutes.

Last but not least, hot salsa! I use a recipe (with variations) that I found in the little booklet that came with my Presto Pressure Canner and Cooker.


  • 10 cups chopped, cored tomatoes (about six pounds)
  • 5 cups chopped and seeded bell peppers (about two pounds)
  • 5 cups chopped onions (about 1.5 lbs)
  • 2.5 cups chopped and seeded hot peppers (about a pound)
  • 1.25 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • hot sauce optional

Combine all ingredients in pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Ladle hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process at 10 lbs pressure for 10 minutes.

I’m pretty loosey-goosey with recipes, so if I don’t have enough of something, I’ll add something else. I’ve been known to put diced zucchini and summer squash in my salsa as well. I also really like adding corn. As long as you don’t put any meat-related things in it, you should be able to add whatever you want, veggie-wise.

I started canning today about 1:00. It’s 2:30 and I haven’t even put anything in the pressure cooker yet. I’m still skinning tomatoes, and writing this while I wait for them to cool. It’ll probably be 7:00 or 8:00 before I’m done.

Edit: more like 9:00!

I’m sure my daughter thinks it’s annoying that mommy can’t play right, now, and she definitely thinks the kitchen and stove are “too hot” (which is fine with me for safety reasons). However, I hope she’ll grow up and take on this family tradition. I’m writing down all my recipes and even making some videos so she’ll have my help, just like my mom is there to share her tips and tricks with me.

Well, this is has been fun. I hope you consider taking up this, I guess, hobby yourself, because it’s a great way to have veggies in the winter, save money, and have some fun experimenting.

I feel connected to my family as I slave over a hot pressure cooker, and it’s a priceless feeling.

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