It is Not Insane to Feel Alienated

Butterfly BLUE VIOLET Front Cover

Alienism is an old term used in pathology and it means the study and treatment of mental diseases. I read that in an old encyclopedia. After the definition it says, See Insanity. I was astounded. Even if Alienism isn’t used today to define the field of mental health, (I have no idea if it is, I think I would have heard it,) it is interesting that alienism was the word the professionals chose.

Feeling alienated is so common, we were taught about it in college. It is considered a common way to reach people through advertising, public relations, political campaigns, etc. It comes into play in the “jump on the band wagon,” strategy. The threat of being alienated is a great fear in the human psyche. Religions use it too, “join us or we will ostracize you.” A friend of mine was “ostracized,” she said that tactic, “works.”

I am taking the time to write about it because in today’s world of 2016 politics, we are already being played upon with tactics that are geared to manipulate us by making us feel alienated. Don’t fall for it. We all feel alienated from time to time, some of us, every day. It’s normal.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the Civil War Era romance, Blue Violet. Available here:



Stick This in Your Cannabis Museum

Smaller Gone North Front Cover

It may seem like marijuana has been liberated overnight. But it hasn’t. But with all the fanfare lately, those of us who have been around awhile, are not used to the herb seeing the light of day. I spent twenty-five years living in a rural Northern California region where pot farming and timber logging were the big industries. And believe me, there was a clash of cultures. We knew things were changing when the local conservative farmers were growing weed that was as good, or better than the hippies living in the woods. The area attracted colorful personalities with unusual quirks, and I kept them in my memory and in the early 1990’s penned it to paper, as I saw it. The result was a novel, “Gone North, – Long After the Summer of Love.” Although it is entirely a work of fiction, it is how I really saw things, living in the early days of the “Emerald Triangle.” Now cannabis is coming out of the shadows and folks are asking for people to come forward with their stories and artifacts because they want to start a cannabis museum. I’ve got one for ya… about the story of a young boy whose life collides with an ex-con who comes to town because he’s got the notion that… surprise, surprise… money grows on trees. Suellen Ocean is the author of Gone North. Available here:

Gone North:

Cooking: Salvaging Burnt Beans… LOL

I swear, there are some personality types that never seem to learn. They get distracted and let the beans burn. Because, let’s face it, beans take forever to cook and I mean, who worries about whether you’re going to burn fifty cents worth of beans? I mean… really. My kids are grown and live miles away, but I still worry about them but a pot of beans?

On the other hand, as a vegetarian, beans and legumes are a crucial part of my diet. And I believe they give me stamina. But here’s the deal, you put them on the stove and you forget about them. Yes, I could have set the timer but I didn’t. And when I was upstairs typing away, I heard weird noises coming from down below. Was it the wood stove or was it the rain on the roof? Not a thought to the pot of beans on the kitchen stove, I forgot about those long ago. I didn’t even remember I was cooking them, until I heard the crackling noises of the water being all boiled out and the beans burning. So I dashed down stairs and just like my mother taught me, I picked up the pot (with hot pads) and I stuck the pot in water that was in the sink and I quickly added cold water to the pot. It did the trick. I saved them. And it wasn’t the first time, nor the second, nor even the third time I’ve salvaged burnt beans. So I thought it was a valuable bit of kitchen trivia that should be shared.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here

Skiing… Is it Getting Too Harried?


I remember the first time I went skiing. I was ten and not prepared for the freezing temperatures and that I had to grip a rope tow. The gloves I had were vinyl and they shredded after the first few times. I was scared to death I would fall off of the tow and those behind me would slam into me. Thankfully, the days of rope tows did not last long, for me, but they were around for years and it was a lot better than hiking up the hill… or was it?

Back in the early days, nature-loving types would spend hours hiking up the mountain. Once they reached the top, they would sit, relax, socialize and eat snacks. Then they had a blast skiing down the mountain, only to do it again. They got a work out. In the early 1930’s, when the rope tow came along, made out of thick rope that rotated on old car tire rims, powered by a loud engine from an old Ford, skiing changed. The pace picked up and instead of the long trek up the mountain and the peaceful socializing at the top, skiers raced up and down the mountain, trying to get in as many runs as they could.

Woodstock was the first ski resort in the United States, in 1934, to provide a rope tow. The first known rope tow in the world was in Quebec, Canada in 1932.

Suellen Ocean is the author of The Steinberg Conspiracy Series. Available here:

Book One, Chimney Fire:

Book Two, Hot Snow:

Blog Size Chimney Fire Front Cover


Vegetarianism… the Protein Problem

It’s a complete flip of lifestyle when one becomes a vegetarian. At times, it seems the only protein source available is soy, which gets a bad rap even though new research is debunking some of the myths. Stay tuned, we’ve not heard the final word on soy. So other than soy, how can we obtain the protein we need without overloading on beans and carbs? Nuts. Put nuts in your food. For instance, I’m baking banana nut bread today. I’ll put enough walnuts in it to provide a good dose of protein, enabling me to relax about getting enough protein at dinner; brown rice and vegetables should suffice. If we aren’t completely satisfied, an evening snack of peanut butter on toast with a hot cup of anything will hit the spot. It’s not always easy being a vegetarian but if you incorporate a lot of nuts into your diet, it will make your goal more attainable. Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

Engaging Children in Nature During the Dark, Cold Days of Winter


During the darkness of winter, it’s hard to think of ways to engage children. Especially in customs that promote a love of nature. What can you do? Do you have access to an oak tree? If so, you may be lucky enough to bag a few acorns and return home to leach them and bake cookies a few weeks from now. But if the acorns are gone, why not adopt a local oak tree and keep an eye on it? Through the seasons, the oak changes. Right now, its roots are being saturated by rain and/or snow, but in California, sometimes as early as February, the branches start to leaf out and later in the season, start producing pollen. In the summer, you’ll see little green acorns that turn to a beautiful brown in the fall and drop to the ground. After they drop, the forest animals come along. If your adopted oak is in a city park, those forest animals will be small; squirrels, mice, birds… but if you live in a rural area, those acorns will attract deer that attract mountain lions. They will attract large black crows, vultures and woodpeckers. They will attract coyotes, fox, ringtail and all matter of wildlife, including field rats. When you get home from surveying your adopted oak, make sure you point out any oak furniture. Teaching our children the value of the “great oak that was once just a little nut that held its ground,” will prepare your child for the hard task he or she has ahead… stewardship of the earth.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here:–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

Wow! I Want to be a Cinnamon Girl for the Rest of my Life!

Cover The Common Sense Guide to Good Sex

Neil Young had a great hit in the early 1970’s, Cinnamon Girl. In it, he sang, “I could be happy for the rest of my life with a cinnamon girl.” Honestly, I don’t believe he knew that in 2015, researchers would be looking at whether cinnamon was a natural Viagra or not. And to tell you the truth, I wasn’t looking for that either when I sought a few of cinnamon’s health benefits to add to this blog.

What happened was, I accidentally added way too much cinnamon to my pumpkin pie recipe and was surprised at the outcome. Hold on, it’s not what you think. Unless you were thinking that more is better. It was delicious! I was pleasantly surprised at how much better my pie tasted.

To round out this blog, I looked for cinnamon folk remedies and was amazed at what researchers are looking at. According to a website called Medical News Today, cinnamon might help us fight these disorders: diabetes, heart disease, coughing, arthritis, sore throats, muscle spasms, vomiting, diarrhea, infections, the common cold, loss of appetite and erectile dysfunction. And if that wasn’t enough, Medical News Today states that researchers at Tel Aviv University (Israel) discovered that cinnamon may help prevent Alzheimer’s due to an extract found in cinnamon bark. Okay already… I want to be a cinnamon girl for the rest of my life.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:



How Does Mistletoe Grow On Trees? You Might Be Surprised


Mistletoe is a parasite. Some people say it harms trees, others say not so much. Opinions vary and I imagine it has a lot to do with climate.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen mistletoe grow on anything but oak trees, but the American mistletoe also grows on poplar, maple, tupelo, apple and thorn trees. Grapevines and apricot trees that grow in the Himalayas, are sometimes found with mistletoe growing on them.

What really surprised me was the way the mistletoe gets its start. Birds are attracted to the mistletoe berries and after they eat them, they clean their beaks while sitting on a tree branch. Because the berries are sticky, the seeds from the berries attach to the branch. Eventually, the seeds germinate and the mistletoe begins to grow. The roots grow right into the bark of the tree drawing water and nutrients. This parasitic action can cause the tree branch to die and lead to the death of the whole tree.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here:–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

Food and Cooking… Toasted Acorns


I gathered up a basket of beautiful, slender Valley Oak acorns last week. They’re easy to shell because the shell is thin. I didn’t wait for them to dry because I was concerned about worms eating them, but if I had, the dry acorns would have split by themselves, making it easy to remove the acorns. So for days, I stared at the white acorns lying in a bowl. They were so fresh, I wanted to let them dry a bit before I processed them. But every day I looked at that bowl and said, “I wonder what they would taste like if I toasted them in the oven before I leached them?” Almonds and sunflower seeds are tasty that way, why not acorns? I did it and I just turned the oven off. The shelled acorns are lying on a cookie sheet. When they cool, I’ll run them through the blender and begin the leaching process. It will be weeks before I’ll be cooking with them but I will be sure to let you know if toasted acorns are noticeably different. Stay tuned…

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here:–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

Watch the how-to video, Acorns and Eat’em

Do Acorns Predict What Sort of Winter We Will Have?


Along the creek near my home in the Sierra Foothills, I stumbled across a healthy grove of California Valley Oak acorns. They are beautiful. And this year, they are prolific. I find this interesting, because Native American legend tells us that abundant acorn harvests predict a hard winter of rain and/or snow. This abundance comes at the same time weather forecasters are predicting an El Nino this winter for Southern and Central California.

Animals who depend on acorns are making a pilgrimage to these oak groves. When I see deer, wild turkey, squirrels and the biggest crows I’ve ever seen, descend on these caches, I’m reminded to take only what seems fair. If there aren’t many acorns under a tree, I leave them for my forest friends. If there are plenty, I’ll gather a quart. They need to be collected though because once the worms drill into them, they have a feast.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here:–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

Watch the how-to video, Acorns and Eat’em