Posts Tagged ‘family’

This is my 41st birthday

I know a lot of people refuse to admit their age, which has always struck me as a little silly since surviving another year is a good thing. Of course, the fact that Grandma is 105 and still sharp does tend to skew my perception of what “old” means.

You know, I’m still a decade away from middle age given my family.

All in all, 40 was a really fantastic year on the fiction front. Sold 2 novels, 10 short stories, made the Hugo ballot, and my 1st short story collection came out. I’ve been doing less puppetry over the past year, which gives me an identity crisis but nothing world-shaking.

In personal life, Rob and I moved back to Portland and it’s a lifestyle that suits us better than NYC. I miss my friends back there and, strangely, the subway, but I like getting enough sleep.

I look forward to seeing what 41 brings. It’s starting off well. Mom and Dad sang to me first thing this morning and I get to spend the evening with Grandma.

In Chattanooga

I had a completely stress-free travel day and arrived in Chattanooga this afternoon. Mom is in really good shape and it is quite clear that the hard part of her healing process will be convincing her that it is okay to sit down and relax.

Happy 105th Birthday, Grandma!

Grandma turned 105 today and I’ll actually be in Chattanooga in time for her birthday party on Sunday.  She is a remarkable woman and the inspiration for my novelette First Flight.

I had been on a panel about research we were talking about the importance of primary sources.  One of the panelists said, “Of course, you can’t get a primary source if you want to talk about the Spanish Flu epidemic.”

It suddenly occurred to me that I could, because Grandma was born in 1905. It started me thinking about all the things she had seen in her life. In the story, the main character says:

I’ve lived through two World Wars, the Great Depression, the Collapse. I lived through race riots, saw us put men on the moon, the Spanish Flu, AIDS, the Titanic, Suffrage and the Internet. I’ve raised five children and buried two, got twenty-three grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren with more on the way.

I’m not making any of that up (although I am losing track of the number of cousins I have).  I mean, the things she’s seen and the way the world has changed in her lifetime is staggering.  She’s an amazing woman, still sharp and interested in everything. I can’t introduce you to her for real, but the story comes pretty close.

Change of travel plans

Last Friday, my mom took a tumble down the stairs. I’d mentioned this in a couple of private forums, but with Mom’s okay am actually blogging about it. She’s going to be fine and it’s not the sort of fall that require surgery, but she’s got a cast on that’s keeping her pretty immobile.

I’m flying to Chattanooga on Saturday to help my folks out for a couple of weeks. I am, I think, going to try to teach my dad to cook.

I know.

But he’s clever and it’s just like mixing emulsion for silk screening, but not poisonous. Usually. We haven’t decided how long I’m going to stay yet, but I wanted to keep you up to date on which time zone I’m in.

Memory lane?

I just got home from a nice night out with T– and her family.  She was my best friend from the time I was 5 until we went away to college. We kept in touch after that, but this is the first time I’ve seen her in a decade.  Much like the visit to Raleigh, it was wonderful to see her and yet strangely disorienting.

There’s a sense of utter recognition. I know her mannerisms, her sense of humor, her personality and yet the details of day to day life are all vastly different now.  The blend of familiar and new is odd.

In many ways, it’s been the same driving around town.  I’ll turn a corner and be struck by the utter familiarity of the place, and have solid memories come back in association but I completely lack an internal map of Raleigh anymore.  It’s a whole bunch of individual memories, but I’ve lost sense of the whole.

After dinner, we went back to her parents house, where she grew up, which was also utterly familiar and yet completely new.

Mrs. W– served peach cobbler.  If I hadn’t been utterly nostalgic already, this would have broken me.  I  wish I could have stayed longer.

Visiting family.

I’m in Raleigh, N.C. I came down on Wednesday for my niece’s graduation. 12th in her class. Usually I have free time when I visit family, even around an event, and that has not been the case on this trip.  It’s been fun. In a constant, total immersion sort of way.

Being in Raleigh

  • 09:39 Heading out the door to Raleigh, N.C. for my niece’s graduation party. #
  • 10:21 Picked up 12 bagels for the family. There are only bagel-shaped bread products in Raleigh. #
  • 10:34 The bus driver just stopped and got out to grab coffee and a pastry. He left the bus running. #
  • 12:23 Ran into the fellow who played Seymour when I did Little Shop of Horrors in college. We’re on the same flight. #
  • 13:02 And the flight is delayed. #
  • 13:19 On the plane to Raleigh. #
  • 15:45 On the ground now. We sat on the runway forever. #
  • 16:02 The remodeled RDU has elements that remind me of Keflavik. Exposed wood beams. #
  • 17:24 Playing pool and drinking beer with my brother at Harrison’s bar. #
  • 18:24 We drove past our childhood home, which is surprisingly unchanged. #
  • 21:05 God help me. We just had dinner at the Olive Garden. At least I got to see my nephew. #
  • 21:48 Steve and I are at Big Boss Brewery. I’ve ordered a Monkey Bizness Stout. Seemed appropriate. #
  • 21:52 Sorry. I was wrong. The monkey is a Belgian blonde. #

AMC – For Teens in Fantasy, It’s Not Easy Being Big

My new AMC column is up and this week we look at teens in Fantasy.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the growing process lately, as we’re getting ready for my fifteen-year old nephew to come visit. The task of finding things that will be fun for him to do in New York is an interesting one, because it requires me to actively remember what it was like to be a teenager. So, I thought that this week, we would take a look at the unique ways fantasy can shed light on the desires and conflicts of growing up.

Swing by and let me know which films capture being a teen best.

Last day of the writing birthday retreat

Well, my guests have all gone to bed and I’m mostly packed. I decided to catch an early flight back to New York because there are some things going on with the show that need attention and it’ll be less stressful to just fly back and deal with it myself.

I have to tell you that this week has been wonderful. Having time to hang out with family and friends, write and cook has been just great. I don’t want it to be over.

On the other hand, I am looking forward to getting home to Rob. The only time my poor boy could schedule for his physical was on Thursday, so he wasn’t able to be here for the weekend. He also came down with a nasty, nasty cold. Hopefully I’ll be able to tend to him some when I get home and not spend all my time at the theater.

But if I do, at least I’ll have some very happy memories to boost my spirits. I haven’t even told you half of the cool things from this week. For now, know that I am an extremely happy forty year old girl.

40 years old today + Iron Chef

The birthday celebrations have been going on all week of course, but yesterday was pretty spectacular. In the morning Steven Gould — whose birthday it actually was — had released the theme ingredient for the Iron Chef Battle we had planned. [1. Originally we were going to do it today, but decided to move it to yesterday because a couple of the guests had flights out today.] Welcome to Iron Chef Pear!

We all trouped over to Grandma’s church for her 104th birthday party and then went straight from there to shop for Iron Chef. At first we were going to shop separately, but then thought, what? We’ll see each other in the store and be shocked that, “OMG! You’re buying pears!”

Back home the two teams — headed by Alethea Kontis and me — began cooking. There are two kitchens at Mom and Dad’s which is part of why I wanted to try an Iron Chef battle in real time. You know, because we could. I took the kitchen in the other house so we’d both be in unfamiliar kitchens and we gave ourselves two hours to compensate for not having Kitchen Stadium.

Here are the results in video form.

Here are writeup’s from Alethea Kontis, David D. Levine and Steve‘s flickr lineup plus combined photos in my Picasa album

Edited to add:
The recipes our dishes were based on.
Warm peppered pears with dolce gorgonzola and fried sage on watercress
Smoked Pear and Parsnip Bisque with frizzled ginger
Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Pears and Pear-Brandy Cream Sauce served with Gorgonzola and Red Pear Risotto
I just made up the zinfandel poached pear with dark chocolate and pistachio icecream.

So tonight we are dressing formally for my birthday dinner, but I don’t know how I will top last night’s meal.

The party favor for Christmas 2008

The party favor for Christmas 2008

I wrote this on December 23rd, but forgot to post it.

I’ve mentioned that my family has a giant Christmas Eve dinner every year with cousins and multiple generations getting together. This year is the 52nd annual dinner and we’ve got 31 people attending. One of the things that I loved when my grandmother was hosting the party were the party favors, which were always homemade Christmas tree ornaments. After she passed away, I took over the party favors.

This year, when I got to Chattanooga I was a little stressed because I had 10 more party favors to make. I normally have them all made before I get home but time was tight this year.

To my surprise and joy, my niece Katherine pitched in to help me make them. We stayed up until 2 am sewing and laughing together. It was just great to have one on one time with her. Although, I’ll admit that it added to my general feeling that our Christmas’s are straight out of Norman Rockwell.

In Chattanooga

Just a quick note to say we’ve arrived safely. I’m off to spend time with my folks.

AMC Five Fantastic Movies for the Holiday Season

Nightmare before ChristmasMy column this week at AMC is Movies for the Holiday Season

I am a total sucker for Christmas. Complete. To my very core, sucker for Christmas. Every year, my extended family descends on the house my grandfather built for a Norman Rockwell affair: We’ve got third-cousins twice-removed, there’s caroling, dinner for thirty-four people and a talent show. So it should come as no surprise that I have a soft spot for Christmas movies, so many of which by their very nature fall into the fantasy category. Christmas is, after all, a time for magic, so here are my favorite Christmas movies that celebrate the season with a healthy dose of magic and wonder.

Swing by and tell me what your favorite Christmas movies are.

A brief history of Italian cheese

My cousin runs a wonderful online shop called EyeItalia where she blogs about life in Italy as well as has gorgeous gift items. This week’s entry is on Italian cheeses. It’s full of enticing details that a) make me hungry and b) will probably turn up in a story. Check this out and then swing over to read the whole thing.

Sheepskin Apron for Making Sheep’s Milk Cheese
Andrea was a shepherd who made cheese in a small Tuscan hamlet close to my home.  We crossed paths one day on his way to the public fountain and I immediately knew that he made sheep’s cheese: he wore the animal’s unmistakable smell. Handsome, fit, blue-eyed and intent on his chore, he also wore a sheepskin apron with the wool side towards his body and when asked if he made cheese, he simply nodded and motioned for me to follow him.

La Ricotta: 5 PM Daily Ritual

In a dark corner of his cavernous barn, a huge copper cauldron sat on a blazing fire. He was using the whey remaining from making pecorino, boiling it and making “la ricotta”…the re-cooked, final product of the cheese-making process. Stirring constantly, Andrea gradually scooped the clumps of ricotta as they formed and floated in the boiling liquid, and then placed them in little baskets to strain, compacting ever so gently. Dipping a big ladle directly into the pot, he spooned out a soft, warm, delicious taste for me to try. In the next fifteen minutes a handful of locals trickled into the barn, their spoons and bowls from home in hand, ready for today’s batch: a 5 PM ritual that had happened everyday for as long as anyone could remember.