delphipsmith: (grinchmas)
Christmas Day, so once again we made my great-grandmother's egg nog to take to my sister-in-law's. With 4 pints of half-and-half, bourbon rum AND brandy, this is high-calorie and high-test, but oh so very good. I am now having a mug and getting caught up on [ profile] hoggywartyxmas and [ profile] sshg_giftfest -- happy happy joy joy!

Here's hoping that all of you had whatever sort of day you wanted, doing whatever you wanted to do, with the companionship you wanted most. Hugs and happy holidays!

no title
delphipsmith: (dreamwithin)
I have family visiting for a couple of weeks so will be mostly AWOL for the time being, but hope to be back online more regularly later in the month. Meanwhile:

It's National Poetry Month! I invite one and all to visit my friend's blog, The Poetry Playground, where she posts a poem a day for the entire month, and loves comments on them :)
delphipsmith: (books-n-wine)
Day 1 - Ten random facts about yourself
Day 2 - Nine things you do everyday
Day 3 - Eight things that annoy you
Day 4 - Seven fears/phobias
Day 5 - Six songs that you’re addicted to

Day 6 - Five things you can’t live without
Day 7 - Four memories you won’t forget
Day 8 - Three words you can’t go a day without
Day 9 - Two things you wish you could do
Day 10 - One person you can trust

"Can't live without" is pretty strong. I'm not sure there's anything I truly couldn't manage to live without, other than Maslow's basics: air, water, food, clothing and shelter. So assuming this actually means "Things without which my life would be unbearably dreary, featureless and grim," I shall go with these:

1) Family
2) Reading and writing (sorry, can't separate these two)
3) Music (if I haven't got any, I'll make some)
4) Cats (for companionship, they cannot be beat)
5) Wine or tea (I'm torn on this one, they're so mood-dependent)
delphipsmith: (julia)
So, Thanksgiving was awesome this year. We hosted it, as we have for the past six or seven years, so the house was full of food, family, yummy smells, conversation, etc. Ten people, with three of them age nine or younger and one older one hard of hearing, made for a rather high volume, but a good time was had by all. And I'm getting better and better at doing things ahead of time -- this year I was actually able to sit down and watch some of the Macy's parade, go me!

We had a bit of drama over the turkey, though. Mr Psmith had suggested we get a heritage turkey this year, having read wonderful things about them, so we ordered one in early November. It was supposed to arrive Tuesday via Fed Ex. Late Tuesday morning we get a call from the turkey people saying that our turkey had flown the coop: Fed Ex couldn't find it. So they were sending out another one that would arrive on Wednesday, but that it might be a little bigger since they were out of the size we ordered.

So all day Wednesday while I'm cooking, I'm alternating between Nightmare A, in which the replacement turkey never arrives and I have to venture out and scrounge a stunt turkey, and Nightmare B, in which the replacement arrives and is a 30-lb monstrosity that won't fit in my oven and will take six hours to cook.

Happily, Fed Ex rang our doorbell at 2:47 pm with a 17.6-lb bird, so tragedy was averted. Interestingly, it was a noticeably different shape, lacking the enormous breasts of the standard Broad-Breasted White (what most stores carry) and with much larger thighs. The more equal white-to-dark-meat ratio means it cooks slightly faster and more evenly. And WOW did it turn out amazing! They recommend a very simple preparation since heritage turkeys are very juicy and flavorful, so I rubbed butter and herbs under the skin which I've never tried before (this video was very helpful). The meat-eaters in the group voted it highly tasty, and I got FOUR CUPS of juice out of it for gravy. Normally I get one, if I'm lucky.

Mr Psmith's youngest brother brought his girlfriend E. who is a vegetarian, so there were two of us at the table this year. Since I'm a vegetarian, everything in the meal except for the turkey itself and Mr Psmith's Grandma N's giblet stuffing is meat-free, and E. kept saying how nice it was to have so much she could eat :) Also, she shares my aversion to an empty wine glass which makes her a girl after my own heart. She's been around for a year now and we have hopes that she may be a keeper!

Here is a partial transcript of my five-year-old nephew's conversation:

11:33am: "Can we have pie now?"
11:52am: "Where's the pie?"
12:10pm: "Is it time for pie yet?"
12:30pm: "Pie?"
12:36pm (as I'm taking the turkey out of the oven): "Wow, that's a really big chicken!!"

He also got hold of a pack of post-its and amused himself writing notes and sticking them on his chest: PINCH ME, POKE ME, KICK ME. My favorite was HUG ME.

There were some tough moments, since it was the first big holiday for us without Mr Psmith's brother, and sister-in-law A cried a bit, but it was good to all be together.

On another traditional note: I'll be doing my Christmas bookshelf-weeding and giveaway again this year. I'm compiling the list now and will post it probably this weekend. I do enjoy doing this -- it's such fun to send books to good homes :)
delphipsmith: (George scream)
This is the wine I bought yesterday. Yup, the label glows in the dark. Now I am uneasily picturing it glaring at the inside of my cupboard:


My nephew P. is on a swim team, and this year all the members decided to decorate their car trunks and do a little trick-or-treat lineup in the parking lot. This is how he and his dad (my brother) decorated theirs:

delphipsmith: (books-n-brandy)
Well hello there, LJ, long time no see!

I have been AWOL for quite some time lately. Partly this is because Fearless Leader of my dept is leaving has left and we are all busy sorting out who does what until we get a new Fearless Leader, partly it's because the semester has started up again so I suddenly now have lots of editing clients beating a path to my door, partly it's because the deadlines for [ profile] minerva_fest and [ profile] luciusbigbang are LOOMING HUGE on the horizon, and partly it's because I got my grubby little hands on the third in Lev Grossman's Magicians trilogy (squeee!) and I decided that I wanted to re-read the first two before getting into the third one so I wouldn't miss anything. So I've been submerged in The Magicians and The Magician King for the last four days (and WOW I'd forgotten how good they are!) and as of yesterday am deep into The Magician's Land. Yay!

While my dad was here a couple of weeks ago, we saw Lucy, with Scarlett Johansson and a VERY sexy French guy. Has anyone else seen it? All three of us thought it was just tremendous (probably because it's not a Hollywood movie, therefore has some originality to it). I only wish that it had been based on a book so that I could have had a deeper/longer version of it. An intriguing exploration of what a superintelligent being might be like and what they might choose to do. It has some similarities with Ted Chiang's novella Understand but the main character makes a very different set of choices.

On the fandom side of things, I've signed up for the always-fun low-stress [ profile] mini_fest (yay!), but does anyone know what's happened to [ profile] hp_holidaygen? It appears that reveals were never posted last year, and the comm has basically been silent since last December. I hope it has not been abandoned.

Finally, I am VERY happy to say that we have 46 participants for the inaugural [ profile] sshg_giftfest!! We have not only attracted some experienced "old salts" to the ship but some new sailors as well, and I look forward to the wonderful stories, arts and crafts that will result :)
delphipsmith: (live live live)
As my mom says, "Well, you're another year older, but at least you're still on the right side of the grass!"

Thanks to everyone who has sent birthday greetings, birthday wishes, and birthday prezzies, most especially [ profile] rivertempest who sent me a mug with some gorgeous Severus art and the most incredible selection of teas I have ever seen, based on Supernatural, complete with special thingy for steeping!


Bobby Singer's blend has actual gunpowder in it. I'm a little worried about that one :O

And my dear Mr Psmith, who took me out to a NOMZ dinner and bought me the most lovely roses ever which currently have pride of place on the piano:

delphipsmith: (snoopydance)
Mr Psmith and I are finally back home after a week-long combination business/pleasure trip to the (very soggy) midwest.

The pleasure goal was to see a bunch of family, including my brother J (recovering from a seven-year case of severe Ph.D. which resulted in the biggest diploma I've ever seen) and 8-year-old nephew P (a bundle of energy if there ever was one and a devoted fan of I Love Lucy, M*A*S*H and Star Wars, I have high hopes for him); my grandmother (95, still going to French club and playing bridge every week); and my Dad, who turned 71 on Thursday. Since J and P live only about 40 minutes from Dad he was kind enough to come pick us up, and en route to his house we stopped to see my aunt and uncle and cousin B, with whom we had a rousing political discussion about how horrible the governor of this particular state is, so much so that even his own party hates him. Then a couple of days with Dad during which we ate sushi and got to visit the aquarium in town (VERY nice!). Saturday night most of the extended family -- step-siblings, half-siblings, spouses and offspring ranging in age from babes-in-arms to last week's high school graduates -- gathered at a restaurant for dinner, after which everyone came back to the house for homemade strawberry shortcake courtesy of my sister A. Scrumptiousness and boisterousness abounded.

The business goal was some consulting for an organization near my hometown that has a museum, library and archive and wanted a professional evaluation of what was needed to house and maintain it properly. Quite interesting stuff; took tons of photos and will be writing up a report for them over the next couple of weeks,

Both goals achieved, we got home early this afternoon to find all of our menagerie well, though the rats had emptied their water bottles and one of the cats had eaten some lily petals and barfed on the arm of the couch. Ah well, could be worse.

Since we were traveling on Sunday I indulged in a Sunday New York Times (bliss!) and found this jewel of a poem on p. 50 of the Magazine. Spending time with family made me think of summer evenings of my childhood, the warm darkness, voices calling, the streetlights coming on, and this seemed to say something about that, about how a moment can be both old and new, eternal and yet fresh: "nothing is over, only beginning somewhere else"

One of the Evenings
by James Richardson

After so many years, we know them.
This is one of the older Evenings -- its patience,
settling in, its warmth that wants nothing in return.
Once on a balcony among trees, once by a slipping river,
so many Augusts sitting out through sunset --
first a dimness in the undergrowth like smoke,
and then like someone you hadn't noticed
has been in the room a long time...

It has seen everything that can be done in the dark.
It has seen two rifles swing around
to train on each other, it has seen lovers meet and revolve,
it has seen wounds grayscale in low light.
It has come equally for those who prayed for it
and those who turned on lamp after lamp
until they could not see. It deals evenhandedly
with the one skimming downstairs as rapidly as typing,
the one washing plates too loudly,
the one who thinks there's something more important,
since it does not believe in protagonists,
since it knows anyone could be anyone else.

It has heard what they said aloud to the moon to the stars
and what they could not say,
walking alone and together. It has gotten over
I cannot live through this, it has gotten over This did not have to happen
and This is experience one day I will be glad for.
It has gotten over How even for a moment
could I have forgotten?
though it never forgets,
leaves nothing behind, does not believe in stories,
since nothing is over, only beginning somewhere else.

It could be anywhere but it is here
woth the kids who play softball endlessly not keeping score,
though it's getting late, way too late,
holding their drives in the air like invisible moons a little longer,
giving way before them so they feel like they're running faster,
It likes trees, I think, it likes summer. It seems comfortable with us,
though it is here to help us be less ourselves.
It thinks of its darkening as listening harder and harder.
delphipsmith: (live live live)
The Weird SistersPeople seem to be rather polarized over this book; either they love it or they hate it. Well, I loved every bit of it and yup, I cried at the end -- partly due to the lovely unspooling of the story itself, but partly because I didn't want to let these characters go. I wanted to stick around and see Cordy's baby and what happened with Dan, Rose in England and how she blossomed, how Bean learned to be Bean and not some imaginary Sex in the City chick. The writing is clear, vivid, lively; the characters are three-dimensional, believable, so very human; and the situations and interactions are so real -- the warmth, humor and love as well as the anger, fear and irritation. If you have a sibling, you will identify with these people. If you don't, read this and you'll know what it's like.

Each of the sisters -- Cordy, Bean and Rose -- has a distinct, unique personality, but in some ways they are strangers to themselves as well; they've each reached point where the old ways aren't enough. One of the joys of the story is watching each sister unfold new parts of herself, recognize that what she had thought was a strength might instead be not just a weakness but an actual burden, realize that she is free to say, "What if...?", that she has the courage to make new choices, let the old ways go and welcome the new.

My mother is one of three sisters. I plan to buy three copies and send it to all of them...
delphipsmith: (queenie)
Wed noon to Thurs noon: cooking
Thurs noon to Sun evening: eating

That pretty much sums it up.

The turkey was big and golden and juicy, the gravy rich and smooth, the mashed potatoes slightly lumpy (on purpose, of course, to prove beyond doubt that they are home-made), the green bean casserole nice and crispy on top, the creamed onions creamy and seasoned to perfection. The turkey had the biggest neck and innards I've ever seen, so there was lots of meat and broth for Grandma N.'s Giblet Stuffing (an in-law tradition, without which I think Mr Psmith would boycott the meal entirely), and I also made vegetarian stuffing for me (NOMZ!!). A half-batch of homemade cranberry sauce turned out to be just the right amount, and the apple and pumpkin pies came out splendiferous. The sole concession to pre-packaged food products was the rolls, since I still can't make 'em properly; we went with Pillsbury Grands, which were pretty good hot out of the oven but rapidly cooled into little flat doughy pancakes (blech) so we won't be doing THAT again. I think I'll practice my roll-and-biscuit skills between now and next November.

Ten people squished themselves around our table (Small Niece and Small Nephew had to share the piano bench) and A Good Time Was Had By All. I made the happy discovery that Small Niece now carries a notebook and pen about with her constantly, so that she can draw pictures and write stories as the mood strikes her. So pleased to have a young novelist in the family!!

Tomorrow, alas, back to the workaday world and dinners of much less grandeur (but also less richness and fatness -- I decline to admit even to myself how many sticks of butter went into that meal). Next weekend: the Christmas Tree!!!
delphipsmith: (face sodding your shut)
Lets Pretend This Never HappenedI laughed until I cried -- literally -- at most of Let's Pretend This Never Happened. (The author is also The Bloggess.) I kept interrupting my husband to read him bits, saying "Listen, listen, you won't BELIEVE this," and then dissolving into hysterical giggles. Makes me wish I'd had a father who dropped bobcats on my boyfriends and built a still in the backyard, but the best part is finding out that she and her husband argue over whether Jesus should have been considered a zombie. I went to college in Texas but I never left the big city of San Antonio; however, I suspect there are tiny towns in my own home state that look a lot like Wall, TX. A lot of fun to read, but with some surprisingly poignant bits; the last chapter in particular, where the author and her sister are both visiting with their families, is a nice object lesson in how important family -- no matter how odd -- is, even when you're all grown up.
delphipsmith: (much rejoicing)
Ben Franklin proposed the turkey as America's national bird. He said that "the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird [than the eagle], and withal a true original Native of America."

Good point. However, if he had carried the day, what on earth would Americans eat themselves stupid with every November? Bald eagles? Pigeons? Tofurkey (the mind boggles, or rather cringes)?

I have made apple pie, I have made pumpkin pie. I have made homemade cranberry sauce, I have prepared orange-honey glaze for the turkey. I have peeled and cooked 3lb of tiny little onions in order to make my dad's favorite creamed onions. I have broken out the good china, the Irish linen tablecloth, and the extra leaf in the table. (All I need is a pair of wolfhounds to make it a Very Malfoy Thanksgiving...)

I have prepared clever comebacks for the conservatives and the Christians in attendance.

Bring it on. Let the family descend, damn it, I'm ready. And if not, there's always Obliviate.

Now, since all my American flisters will be in a tryptophan-induced coma starting tomorrow, I'm relying on all of you from across the pond (in various directions) to keep me amused over the long weekend. Don't let me down!
delphipsmith: (face sodding your shut)
Hating Irene. Hating the Weather Channel. Hating most comprehensively all those hyper-alarmist people who caused Amtrak to go spastic and cancel trains. Not only was I forced to be a no-show for a conference panel I was supposed to be chairing, but (WAY more importantly) I had to cut short my vacation with my mom, meaning that I didn't get to eat here or see this. To add insult to injury, we were tied in Scrabble four games to four, and now we'll never know who's Queen of the Universe.

Curse you, weather gods!!!!
delphipsmith: (much rejoicing)
This week I got to do the following:

* Spend several many hours with my six-year-old nephew (he can spot a police car six blocks away and says very firmly that we are not allowed to manipulate (!) his words -- such the vocab!)

* Play "I spy with my little eye" with [ profile] nursedarry's six-year-old twins (Me: "I spy with my little eye something yellow." Twin 1: "Is it [twin 2]'s bogeys?")

* Hang out with my supremely smart/talented/interesting brother and introduce him to the movie District 9 (in exchange he introduced me to Dead Silence, which cements my belief that clowns and ventriloquist's dummies are CREEPY AS HELL)

* Go to my half-sister's wedding (she's six months pregnant, so when the minister got to the part about "Will you accept any children God sends you?" somebody shouted, "It's a bit late for that, isn't it?" and we all fell about laughing)

* Have lunch with a friend from high school whom I have not laid eyes on in about 30 years (we're, um, wider and grayer than we used to be, but still had lots to talk about)

* Spend a couple of hours with my 92-year-old grandmother (who still goes to her French Club and walks every single day, I should be so lucky when I'm 92)

* Do happy hour with a guy who was my boss at Domino's Pizza about 25 years ago (the day I walked in to apply he and one of the cooks were quoting Monty Python; I dropped the next line of dialog and he said, "Excellent, you're hired!)

and finally...

* Take to lunch and get to know [ profile] cassie_black12 and [ profile] alovelycupoftea, brought here by [ profile] nursedarry from across the pond, who are delightful and interesting women, just as nice in person as they are here on LJ

* Adventure to the house of [ profile] lijahlover, who was kind enough (THANK YOU!!!) to have [ profile] nursedarry and the rest of us all over along with [ profile] veritas03 who is not from across the pond but who adventured from the wilds of the American South to be there and who is also lovely in person :) We were highly amused because as we drove up we could see the males fleeing the premises ("Aaaaaagh! Mum's crazy online smut-writing friends are here -- run, run, run!!!")

(Alas, I did have to miss out on Sunday lunch at [ profile] ladyoneill's house, where I'm sure A Good Time Was Had By All!)

So yeah, week made of awesome :) I could not have crammed in more excellence if I'd bribed the aliens who run the universe personally.
delphipsmith: (library)
First, the good news. The MARAC conference this past weekend went very well, my bit was well-attended and (I think) effective in getting the basic groundwork of its subject across. Did a little schmoozing and networking. Met an archivist from the Woody Guthrie Archives and one from the Rockefeller Foundation, which was cool. Archivists are found in such interesting places, places you'd never think about. I mean, who wouldn't want to be the archivist for the Metropolitan Opera or Blue Man Group, or the reference librarian for NPR?? There we are, working away in the background, making sure things are where they're supposed to be and questions can be answered. Go us :)

Also -- bonus! -- I had the opportunity for a lovely long chat over wine with the very talented and intelligent [ profile] ennyousai. We swapped book recommendations, theorized about why so many librarians and archivists write fanfic, and agreed that Patrick Stewart and Derek Jacobi could read, oh, the telephone book and we would still be giddily enthralled. We also shared our puzzlement over why libraries all seem to feel they must be on Facebook. I mean, if you're a fan of the library, you're already a fan of the library, right? A Facebook page is unlikely to persuade throngs of library non-fans to come to Jesus, as it were, so what's the point? It just becomes a time-suck and yet another place that has to be kept up to date and interesting. Like we don't all have enough work to do, what with backlogs and reference requests and so on and so forth.

The bad news was family: my grandfather died on Friday. He was in his 90s, very frail and in hospice, so it wasn't unexpected, but still...he and my grandmother were married almost 70 years and I don't think they've spent a night apart in, well, ever. So we're leaving Thanksgiving day to go back to my home town to spend a few days with her, and for the memorial service on the 30th.

I have wonderful memories of him -- he was a huge fan of the Bugs Bunny Roadrunner Show and of Hogan's Heroes (he was a pilot in WWII), and I remember sitting on his lap as a child watching them with him. I still think of him when I hear the Hogan's Heroes theme song :) When I was little and staying with them, my grandmother would let me bring him his coffee in the mornings. I remember myself at maybe seven years old, carrying the coffee mug ve-e-e-ery carefully, setting it on the bedside table, and carefully prodding the big mound under the covers that was my grandfather. He would be all covered up with just his wild hair showing, all sticking up like porcupine quills, and he would open one squinty eye (he was NOT a morning person LOL!) and one hand would snake slo-o-o-owly out to get the mug and pull it in. Then in about half an hour he'd finally be awake, and if it was Saturday, we'd pile into his big lounger chair and watch cartoons together. Once when my brother came to visit, he complained about Mom forcing him to eat veggies and my grandfather sent him home with a signed certificate saying he didn't have to eat broccoli LOL! And then there were his sneezes. They started somewhere around his toes and you could hear them rumbling upwards until they arrived with something like Force 5 on the Richter scale :)

He was smart and funny and kind and generous and very, very dignified, and I will ♥ miss him ♥...
delphipsmith: (face sodding your shut)
As one might expect since I started this LJ to encourage myself in my writing and reading*, most have to do with writing. Do please note that I have followed all relevant self-help instructions and resolution best practice guidelines by making them a) manageable and b) measurable. (Our local paper published a pie chart on Jan 1 showing common New Year's resolutions and fully 35% of respondents said "Make myself a better person." Gee, can you vague that up for me?)

1) Submit at least four things to publishers. This was a goal last year and it ended in epic phail (as my WoW spouse would say). It's time to start collecting those rejection letters!

2) Do SSIAW both times and get four stories done both times. Again, a goal last year but one which got a bit closer as I participated both times but only got two out of eight possible (actually sixteen possible, if I were really gung ho and wrote on both sets of prompts every week -- but let's not get TOO crazy here).

3) Write something -- ANYTHING -- at least [one hour a day]*** five days out of seven. Even if it's just retyping poems from memory or doing some kind of writing exercises. I need to build this habit or items 1 and 2 will never happen.

4) Get back to keeping my journal regularly. That would be not the LJ -- that's easy -- but rather the pen-and-paper one I've been keeping since I was 11 years old (I now have three boxes full of notebooks of various sizes, shapes, colors, thicknesses and level of decomposition). In high school I went through one about every three months but I'm aiming for quality rather than quantity now :) **

5) Do a better job staying touch with family. I'm pretty good with Mom, so-so with dad, and terrible at everyone else. Christmas reminded me how important they are and how much I want to maintain that closeness, especially with my brother. He's an amazing person -- smart, witty, talented musically and verbally, a great dad in his own right -- and I want him to know how glad I am we're part of the same family. Mushy but true.

Oh yeah. And then there's the sekrit one )

I think that's sufficient. You will note I say nothing about drinking less, eating less, exercising more, or Being a Better Person. Never let it be said I don't know my own limits.

* Actually someone else (*cough* [ profile] nursedarry *cough*) started it for me, for which I humbly thank her.

** One might ask, will you cheat and let #4 do double duty and also qualify as meeting #3? One might then be told to sod off.

*** Added 1/9/2010
delphipsmith: (Kosh)
Subbed a short story to my writer's workshop (the one I finished during the Mozart concert last weekend).  Goal is to sub one a month to the workshop all year and get at least three submitted to publishers.   Wish the HSU fic counted LOL!!  Spent most of the weekend reading the v. cool stuff Mom sent for my birthday -- photocopies of all the letters my grandmother wrote home during their travels, 1960-1978.  Africa, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Greece, etc etc etc.  Best bit so far was her sage advice after climbing the Acropolis in 1960-something: "Girls please note -- do not wear high heels, girdle, and narrow skirt when climbing the Acropolis!"   Who knew?!


delphipsmith: (Default)

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