Writer and editor displays her work and interests


Monday 25 March 2013 - Filed under Uncategorized

This is a “Welcome” post for new visitors, so it will always appear at the top. Skip down if you’ve “been here, read this.”

Welcome to my blog! I’m calling it a Minimag because it may blossom. It will appear unexpectedly, like other budding things do; one day it will just appear, ready for the taking.

Since I am primarily an author and editor, I’ll start with writing, reading, and recipes. Your feedback in the comments will help me know how to direct its growth. Fragrance, music, and texture are part of my nonvisual world, so they may appear among the other material. Look for something new once or twice a month.

Want to subscribe to my updates? Follow your browser’s instructions or use the contact form to get in touch.

Comments Off on Welcome!  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2013-03-25  ::  Marilyn Brandt Smith

The Buzz

Friday 30 November 2018 - Filed under The Buzz

The Grand National Turkey Caller this year is from Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. He won on his tenth attempt. The next contest is the Owl Hooting contest. My granddad kept me laughing with his falsetto rendition, “Who cooks for you all.” He’d drawl that last “All” a bit.

Wish lists for our fam:

Marilyn: New cell phone, and 23 and Me genetic research kit.

Roger, for my husband’s man cave: The Alexa-driven microwave for his coffee and more, and Google Play. Hope Lady A isn’t the jealous type.

Jay’s basement apartment cries out for sound enhancers, computer gadgets, and junk food.

Roger’s seventy-five-year-old sister’s annual six pounds of fudge arrived. We rat each other out if caught cheating. It’s one piece a day. That way it might last ’til Christmas. She makes ten or twelve batches for the big Smith family.

We honor the real reason for Christmas with some of the songs on our 1997 Smith family trio album, and of course with family love. Read the Music section to learn how to download the album from our website.

Merry Christmas, and happy celebrations with harmony, joy, peace, and love.

Comments Off on The Buzz  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2018-11-30  ::  Marilyn Brandt Smith

What’s In Those Boxes?

Friday 30 November 2018 - Filed under Writing

It was a cold day in late November. We had our first snow. Several Christmas presents were due. My husband, adult son, and I—all blind—try to track arrivals and schedule them so we know who should get the mail or intercept the UPS guy. It isn’t always possible to get it right. This was one of those days for us. The shippers don’t always deliver as scheduled, and worse yet, something could be backordered.

Out of seven packages expected over a three-day period, four arrived on the same day. We couldn’t use the KNFB reader, Seein AI, or opticon because someone might see a return address that would give away the contents of a package—can’t afford AIRA ’til the Christmas bills are paid!

We lined them up on the kitchen table. After lots of laughs and some healthy shake, rattle, and guesses, we thought we had them separated. Should we have saved the whole project until sighted help was at hand? Probably, but we’re the adventurous types, and gladly took on the challenge of doing it the fun way if, in some respects, the hard way.

Guess what? We got it right. Nobody opened a box that contained one of his/her own intended gifts. Here are a few helpful hints gathered from forty-six years of marriage, family gatherings, and raising two blind kids.

  1. Train your hired or volunteer help not to give away secrets about what you’ve bought for your honey or the chickadees—easier said than done.

Kathy was sweeping the front steps when the FedEx truck arrived. “Roger, your carpet cleaner is here, come help me carry it in!” They just mean to help, but…

  1. Make sure that really is Christmas wrap, and not the birthday paper you bought to wrap your mother-in-law’s scented candle. Then make sure the printed side is out, otherwise you’ll probably have all white packages.

  2. Have someone check for price tags, you can’t always feel them. It’s best to do that at time of purchase if possible. But if you buy them online, they may or may not have tags.

  3. Whether you wrap your own gifts or have some help, be sure to not only tag them in print, but use some system for your own identification. Braille labels or Pen Friend labels work well. A little piece of Dymo on the corner or on the bottom is hardly noticeable. You can use a regular tag with Braille and print if the size is right. If you have several presents of similar size for the same person or people, you can use a coding system with a letter of the alphabet or a number beside the recipient’s name on the tag. You then keep a corresponding chart that tells you what’s in the box.

  4. If several presents arrive on the same day and you aren’t sure who ordered them, wait for help to read mailing labels unless you’re brave, out of time, out of help, or have the right amount of Christmas spirit for an adventure like ours.

Comments Off on What’s In Those Boxes?  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2018-11-30  ::  Marilyn Brandt Smith

Christmas Albums We Love

Friday 30 November 2018 - Filed under Music

I carefully hand-picked from our collection of over 150 Christmas albums the ones I feel most strongly should be shared with all music lovers.

Valerie told me about the new Monkees album, Christmas Party. They don’t sound like old guys struggling with some health issues, they sound like fun and enthusiasm. Silver Bells comes from an older album by Davy Jones who died a few years ago.

We love the a cappella fun with Straight No Chaser, especially the song Text Me Merry Christmas from Under the Influence—Holiday Edition.

The European group Boney M sounds like reggae from the Caribbean. I love Mary’s Boy Child. It’s on their Christmas album.

A Very Special Christmas from 1987 features my favorite version of Silent Night, by Stevie Nicks, and many other wonderful adaptations by various artists of that day.

Asleep at the Wheel also features various artists and good Texas country swing on their album, Merry Texas Christmas Y’all. There’s a little Tex-Mex influence too.

It’s hard to pick from Dan Fogelberg’s The First Christmas Morning. The instrumentation and vocals will astound you. It’s Christmas Time and I Saw Three Ships get my votes.

I love barbershop harmony. My classic favorite album by the Gas House Gang from St. Charles, Missouri, is Some Children See Him. Their bass, Jim Henry, a music professor, directs a championship barbershop chorus, the Ambassadors of Harmony. Their Christmas show will be featured on [] on December 8th and 9th performances. The quartet’s Little Drummer Boy and Go Tell It On the Mountain from this album won a cappella awards the year it was released.

Serious music students and devotees will love WinterSing from the Telluride Choral Society. All ages and instrumental styles are represented, along with a guest visit from John McCutcheon performing Christmas in the Trenches.

The Bells of Dublin by the Chieftains captures the British Isles’ influence in a folksy way. You’ll virtually dance to their rhythms. My favorite is probably The Wren in the Furze.

If you’re a music perfectionist, you must hear Deck the Halls by Mannheim Steamroller. Their entire album from 1984—just called Christmas—is the ultimate instrumental experience.

Patty Loveless, from here in Kentucky, has a pure, soulful presentation that will take you to the mountains. Her album, Bluegrass and White Snow, also flaunts the instruments in traditional bluegrass. Harmony is queen. Christmas Time’s A Comin’ and The First Noel only begin the list of my favorites.

In 1997 Roger’s sister Jan dared him to hit the high notes in O Holy Night. That inspired a family Christmas album which we always listen to after Thanksgiving dinner to kick off the Christmas season. It’s yours free for the listening if you choose to download it from the link below. My daughter—who was nine months pregnant—sings Do You Hear what I Hear. I perform my version, a parody, of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. We were raising snakes at the time, and Jaybird pays tribute to our quest for their food. We prepared a special song mentioning the Smith family sisters and brothers which was played at our gathering in Trammel, Kentucky that year.

[Click here to download our album.]

Comments Off on Christmas Albums We Love  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2018-11-30  ::  Marilyn Brandt Smith

Penned by a Friend: Veggies with Dip

Friday 30 November 2018 - Filed under Penned by a Friend + Writing

Veggies with Dip by Valerie Moreno

I take my choice of life’s delicacies by dipping them in savory promises of love.

Comments Off on Penned by a Friend: Veggies with Dip  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2018-11-30  ::  Marilyn Brandt Smith

Cold Weather Suspense

Friday 30 November 2018 - Filed under Books

Book Recommendation:

The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin (NLS DB89372)

This midwinter tale takes a doctor, an author, a pilot, and a dog into the western mountains. Life-altering circumstances focus on fear, strength, and uncertainty. Three love stories are in jeopardy, but geography and the basic need for food and shelter, and the wish for help from the outside take precedence.

Save some hours when you can close out interference because this one is the “can’t put down” type. You’ll root for them all, and be surprised by the ending. Can it work?

Comments Off on Cold Weather Suspense  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2018-11-30  ::  Marilyn Brandt Smith

Party Fixin’s

Friday 30 November 2018 - Filed under Recipes

Texas Trash/Kentucky Krunch Party Mix

Here are two versions of our favorite holiday nibble. I mix them together for fantastic party offerings, gifts, and snacks.


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 cups Wheat, Rice or Corn Chex, or any combination
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, optional
  • 2 cups dry roasted peanuts
  • 2 cups thin pretzel sticks, optional


  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
  • Melt the butter in a shallow baking pan.
  • Stir the Worcestershire sauce and Cajun seasoning into the butter.
  • Add the cereal, nuts and pretzel sticks; mix well.
  • Bake at 275 degrees F for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  • Let cool.

That was the little version. I add tons of other stuff, and sometimes package it up in baggies or refurbished cottage cheese containers to put a smile on the face of a driver, mail man (mail person), Schwans delivery guy, hairdresser, a few dribbles to neighborhood pets with permission, and maybe their owners too. Here’s what I like to add.

  • Bugles, plain or spicy
  • Sesame sticks
  • Wheat thins
  • Mustard pretzel, the big fat chompy kind
  • Just use your imagination.

Shake it all up in a huge plastic bag or pail, and hope it lasts a week or two.

A Trick with Apple Cider

I learned this from musicians at a ski lodge in New Mexico. Whether you heat your apple cider in a kettle with a cinnamon stick or let people serve themselves and heat in the microwave, the trick here is to have on hand lots of cans or cartons of cool whip, lucky whip, etc. When the cider is piping hot and in the cup or mug, spray or scoop a nice mound of the cool stuff on top. You won’t believe the luxury of that hot spicy feeling coming through that cool sweet fluff. Yum!

Comments Off on Party Fixin’s  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2018-11-30  ::  Marilyn Brandt Smith

Penned With a Friend: Whose Ice

Thursday 16 January 2014 - Filed under Penned by a Friend + Writing

Whose Ice
by Marilyn Brandt Smith and Nancy Scott

You’re not my mother’s ice.
Hers came in big bags
she beat on the floor
turning rocks into gravel
for old-timey ice cream.

You’re not my ice either.
Mine comes from its maker
in symmetrical shapes
ready for blending
with berry, lime, or grape.

You’re clumpy, bumpy stuff.
Sun and salt chase you.
Scrapers send you packing.
Hot water thaws you in car locks.
Shovels and choppers shift blocks.

You hate our shoes
with treads and tacks
that crunch and crack
as we attack
these sheets you lay down.

We slip and grip the gate that’s stuck
and we check twice with grinding teeth
make sure that stubborn outdoor faucet’s off
while you expect to stay for ages,
weeping only as you leave.

1 comment  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-01-16  ::  Marilyn Brandt Smith

Can You Like a Bad Guy?

Thursday 16 January 2014 - Filed under Books + Writing

Review of: Slayground by Richard Stark, NLS DB-77061

This noir fiction is one of many from a series by Donald Westlake, writing as Richard Stark. His character, Parker, is a professional thief who’s done it all. In this Winter story, he finds himself marooned in Fun Island, a deserted amusement park, after an armored car heist goes wrong. The mirrors, the wax jurors, the challenging knife throws, the crooked cops, the local mafia, the snow, the cold, and the $73,000 keep everyone running, and will keep you reading.

Comments Off on Can You Like a Bad Guy?  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-01-16  ::  Marilyn Brandt Smith

My Valentine

Thursday 16 January 2014 - Filed under Writing

Climb into my dream
You honey bunny;
Sing, sweat, and swear,
Make me giggle, get goosebumps;
Forget what’s missing in me
And that you wouldn’t kiss me where it counts
On a hundred-dollar bet.
You’re my TV Ouija babe;
I can make you do anything to me
And love it,
In my dreams.

1 comment  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-01-16  ::  Marilyn Brandt Smith

2014-01-16 :: Marilyn Brandt Smith // Recipes
Penned by Someone I Don’t Know
Comments Off on Penned by Someone I Don’t Know