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Showing posts from 2011

Baking Bread in Time for the New Year

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Conversations from the First Leg of My Trip

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(Background: My nieces, codenames: Phoenix and Isis, are approaching 2 ½ years old.)
Someone discovers an enormous quantity of water inside one of the low kitchen cabinets where the girls have just been playing together.
Me: Isis, did you pour the water from your cup into the cabinet? Isis: Yes. Me: Phoenix, did you pour the water from your cup into the cabinet? Phoenix: No. Me: You didn’t? Phoenix: No, but I poured my water into Isis’s cup.
Sometimes it’s difficult to maintain the appropriate stern expression.
***
Isis, Phoenix, and I are lying on the floor together, hanging out, talking. Each girl is holding a bottle she found in the kitchen.
Isis (holding out her bottle to me): Will you read it and tell me what they is? Me (reading the labels): Yes. This one is coconut oil and the other one is balsamic vinegar. Isis: No, they are peepee and poopy!
This joke rocks Phoenix’s world. She tries to repeat it, the way one does when one enjoys a joke, but she’s laughing so hard that she can’t even get t…

Things I Thought I Knew about Writing, But Had to Learn Again in New Ways from Bitterblue

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Even if you go into a book knowing your plot and your plot never changes from your plan, you still don't know what you're getting into. Making messes isn't just okay, it's necessary. For most of the process, nothing but faith, fueled by your own stubbornness, will be pulling you along. The work that you've done on the book so far won't be much comfort, because so much of it will be insufferable crap, until the very last moment, when you figure out how to fix it and everything comes together. Everything will come together, as long as you don't lose hold of what the soul of your book is, work as hard as you can, and don't give up. When it does come together -- that moment is the best feeling there is. The next part, where the book stops being just yours and becomes other people's, will be thrilling to your spirit, but there are aspects of it that will possibly be too strange and surreal for your quotidian little soul to process. You may be overwhelmed…

Waiting to Be Rescued by My Bunter in Shining Bowler Hat

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I'm going to be away from home for 31 of the next 40 days, which is always lovely once I'm on the road but COMPLETELY BONKERS before I go... especially this time, because I need to bring so much stuff and so many books. I mentioned my e-book reader in a previous post... I much prefer reading physical books -- there's no contest -- I should write a post sometime about all the things I find frustrating about e-books -- but I do have an e-book reader, pretty much solely for travel, and I can't overstate how much easier it makes life. I'm in research mode for the next three weeks and will probably be reading as many as 15 to 20 books, not to mention a few manuscripts, and all of it weighs less than a pound and takes up practically no space at all, since it's on the e-book reader. As it is, I'm still going to be lugging a lot of books and paper, but at least I won't be a walking bookcase.

Anyway, as I write this, I'm in travel prep mode, so I'm not a…

The World's Smallest Reading/Writing Lesson

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Look look!  Hebrew cover from Kinneret-Zmora! ----->

So, a gazillion years ago, I wrote a post about Megan Whalen Turner's A Conspiracy of Kings, which included a picture of my own copy of the ARC. Afterwards, people kept asking me what was up with all the post-it flags, and I got all inspired and enthusiastic about writing a big long post about How to Read Books like a Writer. I was going to tell you all the things I'd flagged in A Conspiracy of Kings, then tell you why I'd flagged them. Unfortunately, Bitterblue yada yada, in other words, I never got the time, in addition to which, now that I look around, I can't find my copy of A Conspiracy of Kings anywhere. *directs suspicious glances at my sisters and other ne'er-do-wells*

So instead of that big grand post, I'm going to give you a teeny crappy post. :D? I'm going to share one tiny example of something I just flagged in the excellent book I'm currently reading, The Likeness, by Tana French:
When …

Holiday Randutiae and a Couple FAQs

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Dear Santa, I would like a teleporter for Christmas.

Though I have to admit that air travel has gotten less onerous for me recently. Not because anything has changed for the better at the airports or on the airlines; quite the opposite. Things seem to be getting worse. Rather, because I've come to realize that unless I want to be miserable all the time, there are certain things I just need to let go. Like my expectation of being treated with any dignity, for example. :D?  Sigh...

I just took a look at last year's resolutions. I've happy to say that I've kept them all, except for one: I still haven't baked any bread. I was too busy making Bitterblue. HOWEVER, there is still time, and I bet I can convince one of the many people I'll be traveling to in the next few weeks to make bread with me before the New Year.

A couple random FAQs:

Should I read/reread Graceling and Fire before I read Bitterblue?
You don't need to. It wouldn't hurt, and I suppose it migh…

Bad Days, Voice Recognition Software, SNoQ, and Benedict Cumberbatch

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Wednesday was one of those days where you wake up and it's so dark outside that you feel like there must've been some mix-up with the sun. And it never gets any brighter, and also your hands hurt, but you have to do a lot of computer work anyway, and because your hands hurt, you're clumsy, and because you're clumsy, you keep spilling crumbs and splattering liquids everywhere on account of a person must eat, and it sucks to have to clean everything all up, because your hands hurt.

I depend on my dictation software for my e-mail communications and the transcription of my work. I'm inexpressibly grateful for its existence. BUT that doesn't mean that it doesn't make me livid with anger, even bring me close to tears, from time to time. There are just some days where nothing works; no matter where you put the microphone, no matter how distinctly you speak, it won't get any of your words right, and nothing works, and you have to use your hands. On Wednesday, i…

Bank Of America Makes Me Happy That I Have So Many Pictures of Women with Swords At My Disposal

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Yes, I hate Bank of America so much that I'm writing an extra Monday post to rant about it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am to be congratulated. I just closed my Bank of America account (as I've been promising to do for months). But before it could happen, there was one last moment of bullshit.

Very nice lady on the phone who I'm sure is only doing her job: "We want to make absolutely sure that all of your checks have cleared and all of your automatic payments have been canceled, because if, after we close the account, a request comes through to pay anyone, the account will automatically open back up again."

Me: "WAIT. What? That is not acceptable. It's my account; it's my right for it not to exist. I don't want an account that pops back open sometime in the future, simply because I've forgotten about some yearly charge or something. How can we do this so that when we close the account today, it's gone for good and it's closed forever?"…

The Phantom Sculptor Strikes Again

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The month has only just begun, but already, December is reliably crazy. I'll do my utmost to keep blogging, right up until the point where it starts feeling like another task on my list.

Today I don't have time for anything of my own, but this post by Robert Krulwich on the NPR blog is too delightful not to share: "The Library Phantom Returns!"

Somebody has been dropping glorious little paper sculptures into libraries and museums all over Edinburgh, Scotland, and we've just heard (thank you, alert reader Paul Smith) that there are now three more.
Readers, please go take a look at these delightful, imaginative sculptures, created by an anonymous library phantom! They're too beautiful to miss.

The Mysteries of the Multiverse

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If my initial reaction to the theory that our universe is just one in an infinite series of universes in the multiverse, each universe containing a slightly different version of me -- if my initial reaction to this theory is that I'm going to be the BEST one (of all the me's) and all the others me's can kiss my ass -- does that suggest that I have a competitive nature?

(Perhaps more importantly, do all the me's have this competitive nature? Because if so, I think I/we am/are in trouble...)

Speaking of alternate dimensions... against all expectations, I'm utterly charmed by ABC's new drama Once upon a Time. I'm three episodes in. The premise is that back in fairytale land, Snow White's evil queen cast a spell on all the characters, propelling them into a terrible alternate dimension -- our world. Now they all live in a small town in present-day Maine, and none of them can remember the truth of their pasts or their true identities. (Here's more about…

For Amber Waves of... Stone

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This post picks up where last Monday's post left off. My dear friend and excellent photographer TLR and I had visited Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, then driven back to Salt Lake City, remember? In Salt Lake City, we picked up a third friend, codename: Perfect Gentleman. Then the three of us drove south.
In the southwest corner of Utah sits beautiful Zion National Park. I'm going to let the pictures (all taken by TLR) speak for themselves. Click any picture to enbiggen.




How can the landscape be so dramatically different from what we'd seen in Wyoming, yet still be so beautiful? We spotted the rainbow on the way out of the park; it seemed impossible to me that any place could be more beautiful.
Which is the innocent sort of thought a person might have when she hasn't been to Zion's neighbor park, Bryce Canyon, yet.









Bryce Canyon was the last stop on our trip. We drove ourselves back to Salt Lake City, then flew home. If you're awa…

What I've Been Reading (and some music TV)

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Okay, this is an even more random edition of What I've Been Reading (and Watching) than usual -- I hope some of it speaks to some of you out there!

1.
Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges (2006, 2nd revised edition), by Loren Pope. The college application thing is such a rat race, isn't it? So stressful, so depressing, so many assumptions about what's best (name-brand schools), so many messed-up notions about how to decide who is and isn't "smart." When I was choosing a college, I bought into all of that completely. I thought it was all about rankings and scores. I think differently now. And yeah, I'm happy with the path I took, not that it matters, because I wasn't really in a place then to take any other kind of path. But if I had to go to college now, knowing all I've learned, I might choose one of the colleges in this refreshing book I've been reading, called Colleges That Change Lives: 40 …

O Beautiful for Spacious Skies

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Now that the days are growing short and it feels like it's night most of the time, I love more than ever to look at the pictures from my recent(ish) trip out west.
All these pictures were taken by my dear friend and excellent photographer, codename: The Lovely R. Click any photo to enbiggen.


So, TLR and I live on opposite coasts of the country and don't get to see enough of each other. We planned this vacation kind of haphazardly. About a year ago, we basically opened our calendars, stuck a pin randomly into the last week of September 2011, and promised each other that we'd get together then. About five months ago, TLR sent me an e-mail saying that her favorite airline was having a special deal on fares to a list of cities, did any of the cities appeal to me? I was like, "Gah, I don't know, I've never been to Salt Lake City, how about there? I can get us a rental car with my airline miles." We agreed: Salt Lake City, last week of September. Then, literally…