About Dani Haviland

Dani Haviland, formerly of Connecticut, Arizona, and Alaska, recently semi-retired from selling tractor parts, tools, and roses. She moved to a more temperate climate in western Oregon to pursue her passions: writing, gardening, and photography.  View website

Sasquatch and Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest

Around here, we call him Bigfoot. He is also known as Sasquatch, an Anglicization of the name Sasq’ets, from the Halq’emeylem language spoken by First Nations peoples in southwestern British Columbia. Bigfoot is a cryptid: a creature that is reported to exist but without hard physical evidence that it does. For centuries, encounters with this tall, hairy humanoid have occurred in the Pacific Northwest, capturing the imagination of locals and visitors alike. Eyewitnesses describe the creature as a massive, bipedal ape-like being, covered in dark brown or reddish hair with heights well over six feet tall and with an unforgettable ‘stench’ or aroma. Low-arched footprints up to twenty-four inches long and with five toes have been found in areas Bigfoot are said to inhabit. They are said to have a lumbering gait but can move extremely fast when needed according to the stories.


Hotspots for Bigfoot activity include the remote wilderness areas of Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, Canada. The large expanses of forest with sparse human populations provide ideal habitation for these elusive creatures said to shun human contact.
Sasquatch tales date back to Native American oral and ‘pictograph’ history. Tribes like the Yokut, Lummi, and Skagit spoke of giant hairy men inhabiting the woods. They regarded the ‘wild men of the woods’ as a distinct species, neither human nor animal. Cliffs adorned with Native American pictographs of Bigfoot were discovered in California. These tall, apelike figures were hand-drawn images of sasquatches made centuries ago.

When European settlers arrived in the Pacific Northwest and California in the 19th century, they also told of spotting huge man-beasts while exploring the mountainous area. One of the earliest documented Sasquatch sightings was reported in 1811 near what is now the town of Bluff Creek, California. The sightings continued through the 19th and 20th centuries, with reports of loud vocalizations heard, and giant footprints found deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest.
A surge of interest in Bigfoot came in the 1970s when the famous Patterson-Gimlin film emerged, claiming to show actual footage of Bigfoot walking through the California woods. The film shot in 1967 appears to show a female Bigfoot walking through a clearing. Debate continues over its authenticity.
The encounter reports still persist today. Whether they are glimpses of Bigfoot, hearing strange calls, finding footprints, or smelling a unique and pungent scent, something is out there. Is it an undiscovered primate species or a living piece of legend? Conclusive proof remains lacking, but the truth is out there somewhere. In the meantime, Oregon locals have fun with the Bigfoot legend. Special events, statues and pictures, books, and more bring people together to discuss their own experiences. There is even a fantastic museum devoted to Bigfoot in Oregon. Among other items of interest, they have recreated the Sasquatch ‘scent’ for visitors to sample. Visit https://northamericanbigfootcenter.com/ for their location and more information.


I’ve never seen a Bigfoot, but I love the inspiration he provides. I created calendars this year to help fund the local feral cat T-F-R (Trap, Fix, and Return) program. Oregon’s Furry Feral Friends Calendar was created with a mix of many different Artificial Intelligence programs. After all, I didn’t have a lifetime to sit in the forest, waiting for a Sasquatch to come by and pose for me!


Just so you’ll know, The Authors’ Billboard has released two box sets this month. Unforgettable Christmas Wonders is a collection of eight contemporary romance stories. My NEW story (only available in the set for now) is Kinky Boots and Me. No, it’s not a Bigfoot story, but is a story about a cute little hedgehog and how he helped his human pets.
Reclaiming Me is a set of five Women’s Fiction stories, including my book The Set Up. If you want to read about strong women and the challenges they have faced, check it out.

The joy of grapes and homemade juice

We were blessed with established grape vines on the property we bought nine years ago. The place had been abandoned for two years yet the plants still bore fruit. They were struggling, but that was because the surrounding trees had blocked their sunlight. We did extensive pruning and were rewarded with four varieties of grapes as a result. But enough backstory. Here’s a quickie lesson on how easy it is to raise grape vines and get some dandy (sugar-free) juice for drinking or making jelly.
Selecting Grape Varieties: Luckily, there are plenty of varieties suited for nearly every growing region. Early, mid, and late-season grapes extend the harvest. Consider seedless varieties like Himrod (green/yellow), Canadice (red)*, Lakemont (blue-black)*, Venus (pale green), Reliance (red), and Suffolk*. The * means they’re cold weather hardy. Check with your local agricultural extension service to find out which types grow best in your area. Remember: whichever type(s) you select, be sure to choose disease-resistant cultivars. This helps avoid common grape diseases like powdery mildew. Don’t be in a hurry either. Most vines take 2-3 years to mature and produce fruit.
Planting and Caring for Grape Vines: Grapes thrive best in sunny locations with well-draining soil. Space vines 6-8 feet apart in rows, with the rows 8-10 feet apart. Dig holes and amend the soil with compost to improve drainage. Soak bare root plants in water before planting. Water young vines regularly for the first two years until they establish an extensive root system. Installing a trellis system is also critical. As vines grow, train the stems along the wires. Trim away suckers and excess growth.
Ongoing Care and Maintenance: Prune grape vines before spring growth emerges. Remove up to 90% of the previous season’s growth, leaving just a few healthy canes with 6-10 buds each. Fertilize vines in early spring using compost or organic grape fertilizer. Put down mulch to retain moisture and reduce weeds. Install bird netting as fruit ripens to protect from hungry birds. Scout for pests like Japanese beetles and apply organic neem oil if needed. With proper care, homegrown grapes will flourish!
Harvesting Your Grape Crop: Depending on variety, grapes will be ready for picking from mid-summer into early fall. Snip bunches off vines when grapes are plump and sweet. Wear gloves to protect your hands from sticky juice. Select bunches that are fully ripe but not mushy. Use sharp pruners or scissors when harvesting to avoid damaging vines. Pick grapes in the morning when cool and transfer immediately to flats (don’t pile them high) out of the sun.
Extracting Fresh Grape Juice with a Steam Juicer: Once harvested, it’s time to turn those grapes into delicious homemade juice! A steam juicer allows you to easily extract pure, concentrated juice. You can leave them on the bunch, but I prefer to pluck them, making sure there aren’t any moldy ones hiding.
Fill the bottom pot of the three-part juicer with a few inches of water and bring to a boil on the stove or hot plate (I process mine outside). Place the top colander section loosely packed with grapes over the boiling water. The steam rises and heats the grapes, releasing their juice which drips down into the center section. Stir, then add more grapes as the level lowers in the colander. My unit has a vinyl hose with a clamp on it. I decant right into sterilized canning jars. I add the lid and band, then set them aside on a flat surface to sit for 24 hours, undisturbed. If the lid hasn’t ‘sucked down’ and stayed that way after 24 hours, put that jar in the refrigerator and use right away. A boiling water bath is optional. Check online to find out more.

I made V-3 juice with the steamer, too. My orange tomatoes, Vidalia onions, and Poblano chiles produced a beautiful orange drink (top picture, with the pink and purple grape juices) that has just the right amount of kick.

Did you know that archaeological evidence suggests grape cultivation began 6,000-8,000 years ago in the South Caucasus region between the Black and Caspian Seas? It’s big the world over now. I wonder if some of my time travelers ever went back that far to sample the vintages of Ancient Greece?
I’m pretty sure Big Mac didn’t. He only makes short ‘hops’ and always for doing good deeds. Check out his story while it’s only #99cents. Or read for #free anytime with #KindleUnlimited.

Too many tomatoes?

Craving a Flavorful Homemade Salsa? Try This Simple Pineapple and Bell Pepper Recipe

Too many tomatoes? Salsas are a great way to use them. No canning is required for this recipe. Plus, this sweet version will add fresh flavor to dishes any time of year. While many traditional salsa recipes call for onions and hot peppers, you can make a tasty salsa without them. The secret is using a combination of sweet and tart ingredients.

This easy pineapple and red bell pepper salsa comes together quickly with just a few ingredients. It highlights the natural sweetness of ripe tomatoes balanced by the tropical tang of pineapple and the brightness of red bell peppers. A bit of sugar and vinegar round out the flavors.

The end result is a chunky salsa with just the right mix of sweet, sour, and savory. Bright orange tomato pieces contrast with the red bell pepper and yellow pineapple tidbits. It looks as good as it tastes!

Best of all, this versatile salsa can be served with tacos, grilled fish or chicken, as a salad topper, quick dinner, or even as an appetizer with tortilla chips. The flavors complement anything from Tex-Mex dishes to Hawaiian cuisine.

Fresh Tomato Pineapple Salsa
Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients:

– 2 – 2 1/2 cups colorful tomatoes, cored and diced
– 1/2 cup fresh pineapple tidbits (from fresh or store-prepared pineapple spears)
– @1⁄4 red bell pepper, diced
– 3 tablespoon white sugar
– 3 tablespoons your favorite vinegar or mix of vinegars (I use ½ rice, ½ balsamic vinegars)

Instructions:

1. Mix sugar and vinegars in a glass container (I use four-cup Pyrex measuring cup) and microwave for ½ to 1 minute. This makes the sugar go into solution. Stir to combine.
2. Chop pineapple and bell pepper into ½ inch pieces. Add to vinegar/sugar mix.
3. I usually peel the tomatoes before chopping into ½ inch pieces.. This step is optional.
4. For best flavor, let the salsa rest for 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.
5. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to use. The fresh salsa keeps several days chilled.

Tips for Serving Pineapple Tomato Salsa:
– I use different colored tomatoes.
– I prefer red bell peppers but you can use any color. Yellow and orange are sweet, too.
– Mix with cottage cheese for a quick snack or meal
– Pair it with grilled mahi mahi, chicken, or flank steak
– Spoon over tacos for a sweet contrast to savory fillings
– Brighten up a salad by topping it with a heaping spoonful
– Use as a burger topping in place of ketchup
– Dip tortilla chips or vegetables like jicama and cucumber
– Transform basic rice into something special by mixing in a few tablespoons
– Brush onto salmon or halibut before broiling for a flavorful glaze

This salsa really shines when made with juicy in-season tomatoes. Look for tomatoes that are fully ripe but still firm. The pineapple adds moisture, so drain any excess liquid from the tomatoes before dicing. When I get fresh pineapple from the store, pre-cut, I’ll freeze what we don’t eat. It’s easier to cut into tidbits when it’s partially frozen.

For best results, avoid using out-of-season hothouse tomatoes, which tend to be drier and less flavorful. Though if those are your only option, just boost the sugar slightly to compensate.

The possibilities are endless with this easy pineapple and bell pepper salsa. It’s sure to be a hit any time of year. The sweet and tangy flavors make it truly hard to resist!

Discover Danger, Heroes, and Love!

The latest box set from The Authors’ Billboard and Chill Out! Books is UNFORGETTABLE PROTECTORS. Nine of your favorite authors bring new and classic tales of incredible Romantic Suspense to you. Grab your new salsa, a plate of cucumber slices, and indulge!

The Rise of Use of AI by Authors

Imagine: Two of Zoe Saldana’s alter egos having fun with karaoke. Limitless prompts!

Advances in AI are providing authors with exciting new tools to bring their stories to life. Recently, text-to-image generators like #MidJourney have popularized the ability to create original images simply by describing them. This emerging technology has intriguing implications for writers looking to vividly visualize their fictional worlds. After a lot of soul searching, I’ve decided to add Artificial Intelligence image creation to my creative toolkit.

Benji, THE GREAT BIG FAIRY, as I visualize him.

For any novelist, a core part of the writing process is imagining how our characters and settings look. Translating those mental pictures into words through descriptions is part of the artistic challenge. Our readers take our words and reinterpret them into their own mental images. Something is often lost in translation. After all, we each imagine things in our own unique way.
I enter word prompts to the AI (MidJourney for me) and it generates a myriad of original images. After picking the one that best matches what I imagined, I fine-tune it with more adjectives. The AI helps me crystallize my vision into impressions that I can describe in new ways, boosting my creativity in how I share my vision with readers.
I love the way the technology bends to my will. I control the size of the image, lighting, and settings. I can also employ whatever media and technique I want to use. These images can be photos, woodwork, line drawings, posters,or works of art based on the Masters, all tailor-made to match my verbal prompts. They can also be fun, whimsical, and made out of metal!

My impression of 2004, the Chinese Year of the Metal Monkey.

It’s also useful for advertising books and sharing inspirations with fans on social media. I created the one above to describe my evening with a brown bat that had come in, uninvited. Isn’t this great for conveying a moment of panic?

Here’s what I got when I asked for a red-haired 18th-century Scot. No names or books were mentioned. Since he also happens to look like Jody Pomeroy in THE FAIRIES SAGA series, he’s a keeper

Fleshing out my fictional characters with AI-created images has allowed me to promote my books in exciting new ways. For readers, AI art shared by authors grants a peek directly into their imaginative process, a glimpse inside their heads to see how they see their characters. Like concept art in movies, it makes the fictional realm feel real.

Here’s Grace from THE SET UP and THE WHOLE SHE-BANG collection

As with all new technologies, there are debates on ethics we must consider, too. However, used judiciously and with respect for human creatives, text-to-image generators like MidJourney feel akin to any new tool in an author’s creative kit. Much like concept artists at Pixar using digital software, these AI can enhance imagination in fresh ways. But human creativity, skill, and labor still remain essential! Someone has to tell the ‘bot what to create!
At the end of the day, it’s the writer who breathes life into her worlds and characters through meaningful stories that connect with readers. In the hands of skilled creatives, AI image generators are an innovation to get excited about. This fusion of emerging tech with the enduring craft of storytelling will be fascinating to watch unfold.

Thanks for tuning in! Dani Haviland

If you’re looking for a box set of Romantic Sizzle, check out Unforgettable Devotion. It contains ALL these titles. It’s also free to read with #KindleUnlimited!