A Breakdown of Southeast Asian and Pacific Island Herbs and Spices

A Breakdown of Southeast Asian and Pacific Island Herbs and Spices

Many of Southeast Asia’s flavors—from ginger to Thai basil—have inspired the menus of our favorite takeout spots but countless more herbs and spices await discovery at your next office lunch. Use this list to help inform and guide you toward an exotic and exciting lunch selection. Without further ado, here are seven Southeast Asian and Pacific Island herbs and spices to add to your must-try list.

Full story

Mite vs. Mite: Controlling Hop Pests Sustainably

Mite vs. Mite: Controlling Hop Pests Sustainably - Oregon Beer Growler

In the Oregon Beer Growler: Bugs protect a key beer ingredient.

Hop growers battle pests every year to bring a healthy hop crop to market, but a Netherlands-based firm believes bugs can be more effective than chemicals in controlling them.

A 2017 trial in Independence, OR, used beneficial arachnids to control two aggressive hop pests. Results are encouraging and could bring more sustainable solutions to Northwest hop farms.

Full story

Create a Better Workplace with Food

Create a better workplace with food - ZeroCater

New on the ZeroCater blog: The challenges of the modern workplace—recruiting employees, decreasing turnover, improving communication and collaboration, and fostering culture to name just a few—never end. Yet one simple essential can improve each: food.

Whether you’re hiring, brainstorming, welcoming new team members, or simply adding motivation to a regular day, here are six ways food can create a better workplace with more engaged, productive employees.

Full story

Why 90% of writing is showing up

Man on bus

Showing up is a strange ride, but here’s what happens when you show up.

Recently I had a weekend where I didn’t much feel like writing. I’ve been on a writing streak since November—177 days in a row of as this email, in fact.

But man oh man, there were these two days I did not want to show up.

I did anyway though. After all, writing 1,200 words a day is just a matter of writing one word after another until you’re done. (Yes, that’s really all it is.)

On this day, I figured I’d slap something down about some guy on a bus. No idea why. Just did. So I went with it.

Then I started wondering where he was going. What his thoughts and feeling were that day. (Not good, not good at all, as it turned out.)

And, he was on his way to pick up his two daughters from school.

The next day I did some more.

And here’s the crazy thing.

I figured out who the guy on the bus is. And, especially, who one of the daughters is.

She’s rad. Oh man, she is so cool.

And the story quickly showed me that it was about far, far more than a sad guy on a bus and the daughter waiting for him outside her school.

All because I showed up when I didn’t want to, I now have the beginnings of a brand new Rucksack Universe book in my head. It’s all starting to take shape. The strokes are broad, but getting finer.

That’s what can happen just when you keep showing up. You know that old saying about how 90% of success is showing up? Showing up is 90% of writing too. Once you show up, all you have to do is get the words down. Two days of drudgery—that suddenly strike gold.

See you on the blank page.

National Library Week #NationalLibraryWeek

National Library Week 2018

Many of my fondest memories involve a good library. When I was a kid, being dropped off at the local library or the wee library in my elementary school meant escaping into my imagination and exploring whatever my mind was hungry for.

As an adult, that’s not changed much. Each week, my kids and I go to the Eugene Public Library, one of my favorite places in town. It’s light, airy, and has a wonderful children’s section. My wife and I consider it essential that we raise lifelong learners, and as far as I’m concerned, lifelong learning starts at the local library.

That’s why I’m hoping that during National Library Week you’ll try, explore, and celebrate your local library. Maybe check out a program or event. And be sure to see what all they have. Today’s library isn’t just books. At EPL, for example, we regularly check out DVDs, borrow e-books on our Kindles, read magazines on our iPads, and bring home special kits for the kids. We go to talks, presentations, and children’s story times.

The library is a fertile field for a yearning imagination. Here’s to your library, and don’t be surprised if you find me in the stacks.

Learn more about Library Week

Travel Florence: Eugene Magazine, Spring issue 2018

Eugene Magazine, Spring 2018

Eugene Magazine is a lifestyle quarterly that I have written for regularly for a few years now. The Spring 2018 issue just came out, and I have an articles in there on traveling to Florence, a nearby city on the beautiful Oregon Coast.

Check out the spring issue

Sneak peek of Wander, the next Rucksack Universe book

Sneak peek of Wander, the next Rucksack Universe book

“How did you know it was my birthday?” asked Wander.

Sitting behind his desk at the front of the hostel, the elderly proprietor looked up from his computer and smiled. “Your passport,” he replied. “Twenty. A wonderful year. A time when many things may change.”

Wander smiled back. The past five years had been nothing but a time of change. Six months wandering South America, and another two years wandering Africa. Seven months in Ireland, a year in Russia. Indonesia in the morning, Australia at night. With no family or friends, birthdays had been just another day to check off the calendar. Now, at the southwestern coast of Morocco, the warm waters of the eastern Atlantic sent salt on the breeze, maybe a birthday could be something to look forward to after all.

Wander leaned forward. “So, what should I do on my birthday?”

“Ahh, now that is a good question.” The proprietor sat back in his chair. “Check your email and all those social thingies, then come back. I will tell you then.”

Logging on to the hostel’s computer, Wander wondered how many other people in the world had access to the internet but didn’t have a Facespace account. Or a Twitlinkpinstagramr+. Opening the daypack, Wander took out a small flip phone. A traveler on a couch looked up from their bright-screened, too-big-for-the-hand Apsamgoo iGalixel and smirked.

“Trust me,” said Wander over the beeps and boops coming from the traveler’s phone. “Last thing I need is a data plan or unlimited messaging.”

It had been a while since Wander had checked email—somewhere between Thailand and Morocco, but that time had been such a whirlwind Wander could hardly remember. Not that it mattered.

Zero messages.

Not that there was anyone who would be emailing. Or showing up for a surprise party. Or sending a card.

When your only friends were your backpack and the stretch of road currently under your feet, you learned not to make birthdays a big deal.

Still, that hadn’t been the only people. And for twenty, well, Wander couldn’t help but hope. There were people Wander had connected with over the years. Random wanderings together in a new city. Dormmates in a hostel room. The traveler in Galway, Ireland. When they met, Wander wondered what else could have happened between them. They’d exchanged info… that last touch of hand on hand had been so hard to let go… but now, on Wander’s birthday… nothing. Wander looked away. The screen must have been too bright. Of course that’s why Wander’s eyes eyes hurt all of a sudden.

There was always Paithoon in Chiang Mai too. Then again, thought Wander, maybe not hearing from Paithoon was a good thing.

With a sigh and a shrug, Wander logged off email, then the computer. Moving to the little table at the window of the hostel’s common room, Wander stared at the ocean. Blue rising. Whitecaps cresting, then falling. The dry air mingled with the sea spray, suffusing everything with the taste and scent of salt. The few days Wander had been here had been calm, refreshing—badly needed, especially after all that had happened in Thailand.

The memories stirred, the remembered dreams, the remembered past, hard won from five years of traveling and weeks of frustration and sleeplessness, trying to uncover Wander’s own forgotten history. Wander had been more than ready to move on. The southwestern coast of Morocco, staring out over the Atlantic, was as good as anywhere else, but those final moments in Chiang Mai still clung to Wander’s mind. A storm had come, a storm had passed, and now Wander was enjoying the calm. At least, it felt like the calm. But Wander knew a question cast a shadow even over the bright Moroccan morning: was the storm truly over, or was this the quiet eye—to be followed by more storm?

A tap on the shoulder made Wander turn.

The hostel proprietor smiled and held out a large envelope, bigger than a regular sheet of paper.

“What’s this?” asked Wander.

He shrugged and set it down. “Today’s mail,” he said as he went to answer the phone.

The side Wander saw was blank. Turning it over, there was no return address—not even a mailing address. Just “Wander,” written in a fine script with immaculate—and familiar—handwriting.

Wander opened the envelope and gasped.

The stiff, thick sheet inside was like Wander’s favorite painting, called “The Wanderer in the Fog.” In the painting, the figure held a walking stick, wore a black tailcoat, and stared out over mountains and valleys. This was similar, but different.

Running a fingertip over the surface of the art, the rough and smooth textures left no doubt that this was a painting. On a narrow outcropping sticking out from the edge of a rocky cliff, a figure stood before a sheer drop to a white-capped, gray-blue sea below. At the far edge of the sea, Wander could just make out a thin line, as if a new world lay just beyond. Despite the blue sky, shadow obscured the figure so much that Wander could not tell if it was a woman or a man. The black rock of the cliff didn’t look like it was in shadow though. It looked like it had been burned and charred. Below the cliff, a strange, shadowy light seemed to glow upward from somewhere unseen, somewhere down the cliff toward the sea. It enhanced an overarching conflict, as if the painting were caught between darkness and light. Calm seas had grown teeth, whipped into a growing frenzy as a storm blew in.

“The Wanderer” showed only one figure. And so did this painting—except in the foreground, at the left bottom corner.

Gloved in black leather, a left hand reached out toward the wanderer at the edge of the world.

Heart pounding, Wander turned the painting over and read:

No matter where you wander,

May you always find a

Happy Birthday

The Thai madwoman had signed her name. Wander smiled and let out a chuckle. It made no sense that the madwoman’s painting had gotten from Chiang Mai to this hostel in Morocco, but if anyone would have managed it, it would be her.

Beneath the message was a P.S.:

I dreamed recently, and at the last moment of the dream, this is what I saw. I don’t know how I knew it, and I don’t know where this is, but I knew this was you.

Wander stared at the calm seas outside the hostel’s window. The madwoman had to be wrong… but Wander knew better. Trembling a little, Wander tucked the painting back into the envelope.

“Happy birthday,” said the traveler sitting nearby, with a nod toward the card. “I couldn’t help but see.”

Wander shrugged. “I’m glad someone noticed.”

The sunlight coming through the window was warm, bright but soft. Wander had savored every moment so far, every bite of breakfast, every sensation, the touch of water on hands, the scent of tea. But the painting changed everything. A shadow hung over the sunny morning. Wander looked at the card again. A birthday could be a momentous day. A day where everything could change. A day where someone could make a decision that just might change everything.

Wander considered going back to the dorm room and putting the card in the big pack there, but decided against it. The card was a memento, a reminder of what the madwoman had helped Wander learn, there in Thailand, those lonely, hard weeks ago. The daypack always went with Wander—and so would the card.

Wander unzipped the daypack and put the card inside. By now, after all these years, the pack reminded Wander of a dog, though by now it was an old dog. It was the one thing Wander still had from then, from there, when as a teenager Wander had been left with nothing and so had left with nothing. Except for the backpack. The one constant in Wander’s life for the last five years.

With a sigh, Wander went back to the front desk. “So, what did you decide this traveler should do today?”

He smiled and leaned forward.

On a small piece of paper, he drew a map. He said nothing, only occasionally looked out the window, as if gauging something, checking something. Whenever he did, when he looked back the smile would be gone from his eyes, as if it had been taken by whatever he was looking for.

Or maybe he just wasn’t looking forward to cleaning up the puke in the upstairs bathroom.

Accepting the map with a thanks, Wander started to walk away.

“Wait,” said the proprietor. “What you got in the mail. Was it good news?”

Wander shrugged. “You tell me.” Reaching into the daypack, Wander handed him the painting.

He looked at it, saying nothing, staring and staring. He read the back. Then, at last, he looked at Wander.

“Well, this is interesting,” he said. “I indeed gave you one map, one option. But if you want, you could go here instead.”

Rucksack Universe update

2018 is a year of shorts. For ages I’ve been wanting to do more Rucksack Universe short stories. I’ve been practicing, seeing what works and doesn’t work in my odd wee story brain.

Now, after much experimenting, I’ve been submitting stories to various publications. Some are longer, some are under 1,500 words. Some will be standalones. Some will expand on snippets of feeling or moments from current books.

Some will lead to bigger things too. I’m outlining a series about Aisling, the Awen of Ireland from Home Sweet Road, right now. There’s always been so much more I’ve wanted to do with her character, so I’m planning a mix of short stories and novels focused on her—and how deeply connected she is to so many other things in the Rucksack Universe.

I’ve already gotten my first short story rejection, and I’ll let you know where stories will be published. All stories will also be released through Rucksack Press as standalone e-books too.

Claim 52 Brewing stakes out sweet spot

Image: The Register-Guard

A hopefully-changing rarity in the guy-dominated craft beer industry, two women are at the helm of this 6-year-old Eugene brewery. Claim 52 has been ahead of the curve on trends such as kölsch and hazy IPA, and now they’re about to open a downtown taproom/restaurant. I was so happy to get to talk beer and business with the owners and their head brewer, especially about the big change they have coming to downtown Eugene this year.

Full story

Remembering Discworld author Terry Pratchett

The Discworld books that started it all

The Discworld books that started it all

As a 20-something wanderer living in Scotland, I first experienced Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. At the time I was on a university exchange program in Edinburgh. It was my first time abroad, and it was equal parts exhilarating and terrifying.

Maybe that’s why I found it so fascinating to encounter a flat world balanced on four giant elephants, who were standing on a cosmic turtle flying through space.

Reading Mort had been part of my preparation for a production with the Napier University Drama Society. I was familiar with fantasy stories, but I’d never encountered anything like the quirk, parody, and humor in these pages. Yet even though Mort was rip-achingly funny, this tale of Death taking on an apprentice also wove in real-world commentary, relatable characters, and a vivid world.

I was hooked.

Since those days in Scotland, I’ve read every Discworld book, many of them at least twice (Thud! I recently re-read for the fifth time). Discworld makes me laugh myself nearly hoarse, and I always appreciate how Pratchett’s humor sneaks in insights on life. His wit is the spoonful of sugar that masks a lot of heady, important themes about truth, striving against circumstance, and how we could have a better world if we’d just give it an honest go.

Personally, one of the things that sticks with me most about Pratchett is how he transformed anger. Two of his most iconic characters, Sam Vines and Granny Weatherwax, have an anger to them. They don’t like the way the world is, and they know there’s only but so much they can do about it. While they have an anger that can burn in them, they turn that outrage into action, into caring, into always trying to do the right thing. I’ve always figured that was how Sir Terry regarded his own anger or dissatisfaction: as a raw material that he could turn into something useful. You know, like over 30 amazing books.

I wish I could have met Sir Terry before he passed away on March 12, 2015. But at least his work has become a lifelong companion.

Today I’m raising a glass to one of my favorite authors. May he have passed well across the black desert, and may I find in my own writing at least a glimmer of what made his own work so wonderful.


Anthony St. Clair - Travel Fantasy Author / Craft Beer Writer / Business Copywriter

Author and copywriter Anthony St. Clair has specialized in online content since 2000, blogged since 2004 and is the author of the Rucksack Universe travel fantasy series.

FREE Sample

Check out this free sample of FOREVER THE ROAD

Anthony's third book, FOREVER THE ROAD, is a Best Books 2015 Fantasy pick from Library Journal's SELF-e, and a 2015 Oregon Book Award nominee.

Download your free sample to find out why Nth Degree's reviewer said this "high-stakes story, told with wit and compassion," left him "completely gobsmacked."

Rucksack Universe

Travel fantasy tales
of wit, adventure & beer

Forever the Road by Anthony St. Clair, a Rucksack Universe Fantasy Novel - learn more and buy now

Home Sweet Road by Anthony St. Clair, a Rucksack Universe Fantasy Novella - learn more and buy now

The Martini of Destiny by Anthony St. Clair, a Rucksack Universe Fantasy Novella - learn more and buy now

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: