Monthly Archives: June 2016

Electronic Vendetta

It took awhile to get sorted out, but VENDETTA is now available on Kindle and iBooks …

Use the interwebs — or this helpful link — to snag VENDETTA in its ebook format (which, if I may say, looks hot and is about half the price of the paperback version). Or buy a paperback. Whatevs. I’m easy.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Nickolas+Hight

VENDETTA can also be found in the iBooks store. Search for it by my name, as there are about 1400 books with the same title.

Whichever version you choose, please review it once you’ve read it …

Coming soon, new cover art! New website art! New business cards! All courtesy of Undercover Designs …

https://twitter.com/undercoverklc

Now, go forth and read. Read like the wind!!

Father’s Day

I know. At the end of my previous post, I said medieval wine would be the next topic. But it’s Father’s Day, and my father passed away in March of this year.

I’ve done all kinds of writing, some more difficult than others. Technical writing, letters of condolence, letters of recommendation, aircraft mission reports, the standard array of college papers … Rarely have I done any collaborative writing. My dad’s obituary was an exception. My oldest brother wrote a first draft, I then worked on it, and our uncle polished it and prepped it for release. It was not necessarily cathartic; I think the family was a bit stunned by the suddenness of his passing. He had been home from the hospital for just over one week. He had sounded good, looked good. And then, he was gone …

So, here it is in full … Miss you, Dad. Rest in peace …

… Bruce Keith Hight, III of Colorado Springs, Colorado passed away peacefully on March 11, 2016 at Memorial Hospital.

Bruce was welcomed into this world by his parents, Bruce Keith Hight, II and Solvej Barbro Lunden Hight, in San Francisco, California. Known affectionately to his family as “Bear”, Bruce attended elementary school in San Francisco, before moving to Susanville, California. Following his graduation from Lassen High School in 1958, he enlisted in the US Army at age 17, underwent basic training at Fort Ord, CA and was selected for Military Police training at Fort Gordon, GA.

During his lengthy and successful military career spanning 25 years, Bruce progressed through the ranks from private to his ultimate rank of Chief Warrant Officer with the Criminal Investigation Division. He served at numerous duty stations around the world, including a tour in Vietnam (1970-71), two tours in Japan, two in Germany, and several in the US, ending his Army career at Fort Carson, CO in 1983. Bruce was a distinguished marksman and competitor, earning a place on the Sixth Army Rifle Team, where he won numerous trophies and medals for his shooting skills. His work experiences ranged from investigating major crimes to protecting foreign dignitaries. He participated in an investigator exchange program with Scotland Yard and received FBI investigative training. While in Germany he participated in the grueling Nijmegan March, a 26 mile per day, four day hike to commemorate Allied sacrifices in the Netherlands. Among the notable awards accorded to Bruce during his dedicated service are the Army Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service medal with 3 Bronze Service Stars, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, and numerous other service awards and recognition.

Following his retirement from the US Army, Bruce served as the Safety Manager and Training Coordinator for AAFES at the Air Force Academy, retiring from there in 2000. Following that, and until his passing, he enjoyed working at the Air Force Academy commissary as a grocery bagger, where he made many friends among his fellow baggers and the commissary staff.

Bruce loved the Colorado outdoor and sports scene. He was an avid hunter and fisherman. In 1995 he started what turned to a bi-annual, traditional fishing trip to the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, where he was joined by his brothers and several close friends in the quest for salmon and halibut. He was also an enthusiastic and supportive fan of Air Force Falcon and Denver Broncos football.

Bruce is survived by his former wife, Mary Elizabeth, and their four children, Michael, Robert, Christina, and Nickolas, and his wife of 26 years, Mari Louise, and her children, daughter Kim and son, Larry, for whom Bruce was father and mentor. He is also survived by his brothers, Arthur (Lexington, KY), Dennis (Lakewood, OR), and Michael (Chugiak, AK), grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins. 

Bruce was preceded in death by his parents and a younger brother, Donald.

All of Bruce’s children and two of his grandchildren served, or are currently serving in the US Armed Forces. He administered the oath of enlistment to all three of his sons, pinned the E-2 meritorious promotion on Christina in basic training, and administered the oath of commissioning to his youngest son Nick. 

Bruce was loved, respected, and admired for his humor, strength, and life-long courage. Along with his patriotism, sense of duty, and strong work ethic, he instilled in his family a great love and respect for the outdoors. He loved life and laughter, and will be sorely and deeply missed.

Bruce requested that no service be held and the family will honor his request. In lieu of a funeral, the family will hold a private gathering to celebrate his life and love …

You Gonna Eat That?

Or, a brief foray into medieval gastronomy …

People must eat. Biff Rafferty, the artist and author, once told me, “If you don’t eat, you die.” Hard to argue with that. I love eating and am more than competent in the kitchen; was trained from a young age to handle kitchen tasks. So, when I began incorporating food into VENDETTA, I figured it’d be a snap. Wrong. As usual …

My impressions of medieval cuisine were informed mostly by watching ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ (the one with Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, and the exquisitely named Basil Rathbone). But most of the people inhabiting Europe in the 14th century didn’t eat multi-course feasts. And the food was certainly nothing like what you’d get at Medieval Times or a renaissance fair.

The medieval palate was much different, for starters, and with a large segment of the population always hovering on the brink of starvation … well … one couldn’t afford to be picky. There were a couple of cookbooks floating around back then and the recipes all follow a similar pattern: chop, pound into submission with mortar and pestle, boil or fry, add stale bread, strain, season heavily, serve … I pulled most of my ideas from “The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy,” by Odile Redon, Françoise Sabban, & Silvano Serventi (University of Chicago Press, 1998).

The kitchen in Ferrara Castle. Note bored museum attendant and rare medieval fire extinguisher ...
The kitchen in Ferrara Castle. Note bored museum attendant and rare medieval fire extinguisher …

Now, let’s get back to that medieval palate. Meat was hard to come by and expensive for the average villein/serf. And you weren’t supposed to eat it on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays (or on any holy day). Fish was also hard to come by, unless you lived by the sea or a river. If you were a fisherman, chances are most of your catch went to whomever owned the equipment you used. And there was no refrigeration, hence the necessity for vast quantities of salt for preservation. Or you could smoke meat and fish, but again — the average peasant couldn’t stockpile vast quantities of meat in a larder or cellar.

Apologies. The whole palate thing keeps running away from me. If you had the money and a kitchen staff dedicated to preparing your grub, you could afford salt, saffron (which even back then was outrageously expensive, just like today), clove, nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, sugar (also very expensive and rare), cumin, and mace. Verjus was a favorite seasoning for the wealthy, made from pressing unripe grapes … They seemed to favor sour and bitter flavors. And to reiterate, if you weren’t wealthy you were borderline starving most of the time … Spoilage was always a concern, too. And not just for peasants. The wedding feast for Violante (daughter of Galeazzo Visconti) and Lionel, Duke of Clarence (son of Edward III, King o’ England) lasted five days and many of the diners got food poisoning. Including the groom, in all likelihood. Oops.

It’s easy to forget what was NOT available to medieval cooks, given the staggering array of produce and dry ingredients in any supermarket these days. Potatoes? No … New World crop. The same for turkey. And no tomatoes or peppers, either. Or pumpkin. Or corn (another New World crop).

But there was rice and pasta (courtesy of the Moors and Saracens). Lots of fruit: apples, peaches, cherries, pears, plums, and various berries. Beans, peas, leeks, and garlic. And bread. Plenty of bread, in various forms, if the weather cooperated and wheat and rye could be harvested, dried, threshed, and milled. With the milling process that existed, though, you would have stood a good chance of cracking your teeth with every bite. Such an event would have perhaps occasioned a horrifying foray into medieval dentistry, but that’s for another post.

And what was the primary cooking medium? Forget butter. Dairy products were too perishable. Olive oil existed but was used primarily on salads. Almond milk, of all things, was used a lot (mostly because it didn’t spoil quickly, it was usable on holy days, and it was white — aesthetically pleasing). If you cooked back then, you used PORK FAT. Glorious.

Next time, I’ll talk about wine …