- Do you do anything crafty (decorating, gardening, cooking, needle arts, etc.)? How did you get into it? What do you love most about it?
I would not have classified cooking and gardening as crafty things, but I suppose they are by some standards. Anyway, most of you know I cook and bake. I got into it...um, because I eat? Seriously, we had our share of Kraft dinner when I was a kid (mmmm, radioactive cheeeeese powder), but for the most part, I was raised in a subculture where you cook and you bake because you eat and that is what people do.
It took me until about a year and a half, two years ago to figure out that I'm actually a pretty good cook and baker. Before that...it's just what you do.
What I love about it: the smells. Well, some of them, at least; if I can get someone else to cut up the raw meat when I'm making carnivore dishes, that's really a good thing. And as I've said before elsewhere, baking is like the anti-writing for me. It's pretty much the same every time if you want it to be. It's very concrete and, in the cases of kneaded baking, very physical. It has a very short timespan: even the fiddlydamn bread I made that once took all morning and part of the afternoon but then I was done. No revision, no submission, no waitingandwaitingandwaiting. Idea of bread to finished bread in six hours. I suppose it's theoretically possible that I could draft a short story, immediately submit it to a webzine, sell it, and see it published in that span of time, but the odds are not in favor there.
Also if you bake something with brown sugar and butter, you can stick your finger in and eat a snip of the creamed brown sugar and butter. Which is the sort of thing I look forward to in my life. I am good at looking forward to stupid small things.
Also if you give people baked goods, they know you love them, or at least like them all right. I tend to reinforce this by not giving baked goods to people I don't like, just so things don't get muddled for anybody.
I don't crochet or knit or embroider or tat or anything like that. Sometimes I think I ought, and then the phrase "so that I could do something useful" pops into my head, and then I realize that my brain is being ridiculous, so I go on with my life. I really like having things crocheted, knitted, etc. for me, but I honestly do not have time for that kind of thing.
Sometimes I paint, mostly journal covers. I do not think I'm any good at this, but I enjoy it. It started out when I was in a painting class in college (to fulfill a distribution requirement): my aunt had painted journal covers for me, and I loved them, so I decided to do my own. This is even easier now that I have acrylics instead of oils, because acrylics dry.
- What is one of the best meals you've ever had?
Ever is a very long time. Within the last week, though, I've had two really good restaurant meals and my lasagna and salad. (If I didn't like my lasagna and salad, I would stop making them. They are reliably good.)
At El Meson, timprov and I shared calamari in a light garlicky batter with a funny fruity trick-mayo (aioli, whatever: trick mayo) and also some thin fried plantain chips. The salsa that came with was too strong for the plantains -- it was a really nice salsa, but if you ate it, you lost the plantain flavor and were eating really nice salsa on a generic crunchy thing. timprov had chicken jamaquino, which was a Jamaican curry chicken stew-ish thing, and it went amazingly with the plantains. I'm still eating the leftovers there. I had mero al ajillo, which was the lembas fish, saffron and garlic and white wine and butter and some sludgy green stuff and I'm not sure what else was in the sauce, but it was kickass amazing. Oh, and then we had the bread pudding, which had bananas and figs and a chocolate sauce, and that was pretty nice, though the chocolate orange torta I had when I was there with dd_b was better, and I would order it over the bread pudding. We had so many leftovers. This is not a drawback.
At Rice Paper, we got tofu puffs, which I LOVE at Rice Paper. They have a sludgy lovely sauce on them and are crispy and soft and perfect. And we tried the new eggplant appetizer, which is I think my second favorite use of eggplant so far in the world. (House of Nanking in San Francisco's Chinatown makes an eggplant-whitefish dish that is, despite my general dislike of total orderings, clearly #1.) And then I had their green onion Chinese pancake wraps and peanut dipping sauce, and there was chicken and there was cucumber, also rice, sprouts, stuff. Good good.
That's this week. Tonight I think we're having Cuban black bean soup, as I feel almost certain I will be able to cook it and people will be able to eat it, and right now that's a rarer good thing than it might be. And we will have Spanish rice under it, which means the house will smell like saffron and garlic and white wine and I will dance a little there in the kitchen because saffron and garlic and white wine you have to dance to: they've got an infectious beat like that, just a little groove step and anyone who might see me do it already likes or, better odds, loves me and will not care that I am a dork who dances with smells. Also there will be andouille for the flesh-renders and canteloupe for everybody and maybe cucumber-dill salad if I get energetic and also ice cream and sorbet after.
Unless I decide to make something else; we will consult and ponder and see. If anyone thinks they can't eat that today, we will have something else. It will probably be good, too, though. I don't like eating that much, so having good food is a help in that regard.
- Which fairy tales haunt you?
I'm going to go with a narrow construction on the term "fairy tales": this entry is going to be long anyway, and going through the Kalevala and the sagas and ballads is going to be a lot. So I'm going to say I'm stuck on the seven swan brothers just now. Only I don't seem to be able to stick with swans just now. I already did the five mole brothers, which I think is a warm-up for the bats. I don't know yet how many bats, but it's a freakin' novel worth, and there are details that yet require parsing, and I'm not sure I'm going there any time soon, but oof, oof, oh, it's the kind of fantasy with revolvers in it. And bats. And retired girl-Richelieu. It accretes, is what it does, but I keep coming back to the bats.
That's now. Ask me next year and it might be something different.
- What are some of your favorite fairy tale retellings?
Robin McKinley's three, though I haven't reread Beauty recently enough to say. And The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars: I loved it before I took the afore-mentioned painting class, and then I was crouched in a corner of the trailer (this was after the tornado, so we were painting in a trailer) finishing a bit of journal cover while the advanced painting students, the kids who did this because it is what they did, had the trailer, and they talked just like he said. When skzbrust came down to do a reading at Gustavus later that year, I managed to greet him with something coherent and quasi-adult like, "So nice to meet you" and not, "They talked just like you said!", but it was a near thing. Also I really admire Jane Yolen's Briar Rose and her Rumpelstiltskin short story.
I said I wasn't going to talk about ballads, so I'm not going to talk about Tam Lin or Fire and Hemlock.
- What are some of your odd hobbies?
I have no odd hobbies. All of my hobbies are demograhpically typical. Sometimes for a rather small demographic, but never mind that.
- Do you collect anything? What is it? How'd you get started?
I like getting gifts that relate to the book I'm working on at the time. I specifically do not want to start a collection of something like my dad's otters. We have books, and that's enough of a collection for me to house without adding in something like my mom's angels (from before angels were trendy for awhile). This makes it a little harder for some of my relatives, because they like giving that kind of gift and can much more easily choose a pretty angel Christmas tree ornament than figure out what the heck it is you give someone who's writing something called Zodiac House or an Aesir noir novel. But this way we can have a variety of randomly cool stuff rather than only thematically cool stuff.
My grandmother gives me a Christmas music box every year because she thought it would be a good thing starting when I was 3 or so, but those are in the basement and don't all come out every year.
- Do you organize your books? How?
This is a trick question, right? You can't not organize your books, can you? I mean, some people organize them by size or biographically or something, but...you have to know where your books are. Much more important than your towel. You can just go buy a new towel if you lose track of where your towel is.
Down in the library, we have novels, alphabetized by author and then by title within author. The exception to this rule is the Chronicles of Narnia, which we own in a hardcover boxed set. Those are organized in publication order, because we can't interalpabetize them with the Space Trilogy. Some jackass has started numbering them chronologically instead of in publication order. This is stupid and wrong, although if you want to do it that way, go ahead. Who would want to read anything of the rest if they started with The Magician's Nephew? Okay, markgritter. But who besides markgritter?
We also have poems and plays down in the library, again alphabetized by author and then title, and we have memoir/autobiography/biography, and we have a few overly general humanities-type books, and we have foreign language dictionaries except for the Finnish-English ones, which are up here.
In markgritter's office, we have math books, computer science books, science books, comics, and theology. These are alphabetized within section.
In timprov's and my office, we have
Perhaps "distress" is too strong a word. Still.
We will have to take some measures to deal with the books soon: some cleaning out, some moving to boxes in the basement, some consideration of further bookshelves. We shall see.
- What's a funny pet story of yours?
Well, scottjames's dog once...heh. Never mind.
My old dog instituted an extensive barter system with different levels of currency. I'm still amused and impressed by that.
- What are your geek book lists?
The lists I've seen have required a fairly narrow construction on the word "geek," but broader constructions make the lists large enough to be alarming. I interact with many kinds of geek. They're geeks. Part of the joy of geeks is that you can never tell what they're going to pop up reading.
Anyone else got questions?