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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My cousin runs a wonderful online shop calledÂ 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 Sheepâ€™s Milk Cheese
Andrea was a shepherd who made cheese in a small Tuscan hamlet close to my home.Â We crossed paths one day on his way to the public fountain and I immediately knew that he made sheepâ€™s cheese: he wore the animalâ€™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 â€œla ricottaâ€â€¦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 todayâ€™s batch: a 5 PM ritual that had happened everyday for as long as anyone could remember.
(Tor Books – July 14 2020) Mary Robinette Kowal continues her Hugo and Nebula award-winning Lady Astronaut series, following The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky, with The Relentless Moon. The Earth is coming to the boiling point as the climate disaster of the Meteor strike becomes more and more clear, but the political situation is already overheated. Riots and […]