the owl and the olive tree

books, food, writing, and more


Sirens programming reminder
sirens 2009
coraa
Since I know a lot of my flist attends Sirens, presents programming at Sirens, or just plain loves Sirens--

Remember that the Sirens programming submission deadline is May 10 this year, which is coming up. (My goodness, 2013 seems to be passing in a blur....) And since all programming at Sirens is attendee-driven, if you're thinking, "I'd love to see X at Sirens!", now is your chance to either propose it yourself or bug your friends to do so. ;)

We always end up with fabulous programming, so I'm looking forward to seeing what y'all come up with!

(I know I haven't posted in donkeys' years. I'd like to promise that I'll post more soon, but we all know how those promises go. But I miss you all! That much I can say with truth.)

Crossposted to Dreamwidth Comment here or there. comment count unavailable comments currently at DW.

(no subject)
seattle
coraa
Just about thirty seconds ago I posted a post to my local-Seattle filter. If you are local to Seattle (or otherwise want to hear about local-only stuff... which you're welcome to, they just may not be relevant to you), and did not see it, please let me know so I can add you. Or if you saw it and do not want to be on the local filter, also let me know and I will remove you.

If you want to be on it on both LJ and DW (and are not already, or are on one and not the other and want to be on both), make sure you let me know.

Thanks!

Crossposted to Dreamwidth Comment here or there. comment count unavailable comments currently at DW.
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(no subject)
bookses
coraa
Yesterday we had fajitas! They were delicious. Thank you to everyone who voted in the poll.

Today's question:

Right now, I have bookshelves that are not organized in any way. This is somewhat unfortunate when I am trying to find books.

I know what organization scheme I want: fiction separated from nonfiction, fiction sorted by author and then by series and then by title, nonfiction separated by subject and then by author. Graphic novels, manga, and RPG sourcebooks in their own section, sorted by type and then by series and then in internal ordering. Anthologies in their own sections, sorted by genre and then editor. Cookbooks are already in their own section, but need to be sorted by genre and then by author. I am undecided on whether artbooks will go in their own section or in the art section of nonfiction.

What I'm trying to figure out is:

- Is there any way to achieve this system of organization without pulling every book I own off the shelves and onto the floor, and then sorting them? I fear for what will happen if I pull every book off the shelves and stack them up on the floor. (I suspect not, but hope springs eternal.)

- Assuming I must pull everything off the shelves to do the sorting: do you have any recommendation for how to do this in the way that is most efficient/least likely to leave me with stacks of books all over my floor for the next six months?

(I also hope to catalog them in Goodreads, but that is going to necessarily happen after, not before, the physical sorting and organization.)

Thank you. :D

Crossposted to Dreamwidth Comment here or there. comment count unavailable comments currently at DW.

Cora Dinner Theater, August Edition
more food love
coraa
Whew, this summer has been busy. Travel, then deadlines, then more travel, then family stuff, then more travel. (And pretty much all obligatory travel--family, work, etc.--not fun travel.) Fortunately for me, things will be calming down in the next couple of weeks.

(On that note: if you sent me an e-mail in the last month or so and I have not replied, I have not forgotten you! I will get back to you very soon. And: I'm sorry.)

Anyway, dinner poll time. I have the meat of half a roast chicken (mixed white and dark, and it got pretty shredded in the course of getting it off the carcass) that needs eatin' before I turn the bones and bits into soup. (The reason that "chicken soup" is not on this list: I'm going to make that later in the week, once I've achieved stock.)

What should I do with it?

What to do with the chicken?

Tacos (with chicken, tomato, something green, lime, onion, salsa, and cheese)
3(16.7%)
Fajitas (with chicken, grilled onions and peppers, salsa and cheese)
4(22.2%)
Quesadillas (with chicken, caramelized onions, and cheese)
1(5.6%)
Enchiladas (with chicken, onion, cheese, and enchilada sauce)
1(5.6%)
Burritos (with chicken, rice, beans, cheese, grilled onions and peppers, and salsa)
0(0.0%)
Salad (with chicken, shaved fennel, apple, greens, cheese, mixed greens, and creamy dressing)
1(5.6%)
Salad (with chicken, tomatoes, bell peppers, goathorn peppers, mixed greens, and vinaigrette)
2(11.1%)
Salad (with chicken, shredded fennel, shredded carrots, ribbons of Napa cabbage, and sesame dressing)
0(0.0%)
Vaguely Thai-style noodles (with chicken, green onions, bell peppers, rice noodles, peanuts, and peanut sauce)
1(5.6%)
Sesame noodles (with chicken, green onions, bell peppers, soba noodles, and sesame sauce)
3(16.7%)
Panini (with chicken, caramelized onions, cheese, and peppers)
1(5.6%)
Sandwich (with chicken, tomatoes, bell peppers, mixed greens, and creamy dressing)
0(0.0%)
Sandwich (with chicken, barbecue sauce, tomatoes, bell peppers, and mixed greens)
1(5.6%)
Wrap (with chicken, tomatoes, bell peppers, mixed greens, and creamy dressing)
0(0.0%)
Wrap (with chicken, barbecue sauce, tomatoes, bell peppers, and mixed greens)
0(0.0%)

Overflow, due to limit of options allowable on LJ polls:

Pot pie (with chicken, potatoes, carrots, peas, and pastry crust)
5(38.5%)
Shepherd's (Chicken-herd's?) pie (with chicken, carrots, peas, and mashed potatoes)
3(23.1%)
Pasta (with chicken, peas, carrots, and alfredo sauce)
2(15.4%)
Pasta (with chicken, tomatoes, bell peppers, goathorn peppers, parsley, and grated cheese)
1(7.7%)
Five-cheese mac-n-cheese (with chicken and whatever cheeses need to be used up in the fridge)
2(15.4%)

And a side?

Green salad
2(10.5%)
Fruit salad
4(21.1%)
Fennel and apple salad
2(10.5%)
Coleslaw
1(5.3%)
Asian-ish style coleslaw
3(15.8%)
Greens sauteed with garlic
6(31.6%)
Roasted beets
1(5.3%)

No, no no! Do this instead!


Cora Dinner Theater, again
more food love
coraa
It's been forever and a day since I did one of these! But I have a beautiful trout fillet in the fridge and I need to cook it some way tomorrow, and so I enlist y'all's help figuring out how, and with what. :D

Poll #1844296 Foooood

Trout which way?

Pan-fried, with slices of lemon
2(6.9%)
Pan-fried, with citrus vinaigrette
0(0.0%)
Grilled on a cedar plank, with slices of lemon
4(13.8%)
Grilled on a cedar plank, with citrus vinaigrette
3(10.3%)
Grilled on a cedar plank, with garlic-herb sauce
8(27.6%)
a la Meuniere (floured and fried in butter, with a brown butter/lemon/shallot sauce)
4(13.8%)
Escabeche (pan-fried, then smothered with onions and a tart, garlicky vinaigrette)
3(10.3%)
Baked, with lemon and fresh fennel
5(17.2%)

And what?

Rice
2(10.5%)
Sourdough toast
1(5.3%)
Dinner rolls
2(10.5%)
Orzo pilaf
11(57.9%)
Boiled potatoes in butter
3(15.8%)

And what else?

Grilled asparagus
9(36.0%)
Roasted bell peppers stuffed with olives
4(16.0%)
Green salad
3(12.0%)
Garlic green beans
5(20.0%)
Glazed carrots
2(8.0%)
Cabbage, fennel and carrot slaw in a creamy dressing
1(4.0%)
Cabbage, fennel and carrot slaw in a sweet-and-sour dressing
1(4.0%)

(no subject)
also me
coraa
More Sirens posting, including panel notes, shortly!

(I had intended to do it over the weekend, but instead it turns out that what I wanted to do on the weekend was sleep in, make roast chicken, and play Dragon Age. So I did.)

Crossposted to Dreamwidth Comment here or there. comment count unavailable comments currently at DW.

Nightshade, by Andrea Cremer
werewolfy
coraa
This was one of my Books & Breakfast books, and it's one of the kind of books that I'm never quite sure how to review. Because I really enjoyed it! But I have no idea whether my enjoyment of it will translate to anyone else, because I enjoyed it for pushing a very particular set of my buttons.

To talk about this, I have to back up a bit and discuss The Werewolf Problem.

I love werewolf books, in theory. Werewolf: The Apocalypse was my first RPG, and I played the hell out of it, and Werewolf (old and new) remains my second-favorite set of games. (Changeling, game of my heart, is still #1.) While everyone else who gamed in my area was about blood-drinking and backstabbing, I was more about howling at the moon and ripping my enemies in half. I love Blood and Chocolate and Sergeant Angua and Elfquest (where, okay, they aren't werewolves per se, but close enough) and the Brecilian Forest quest in Dragon Age.

And then, with the supernatural romance/new urban fantasy explosion, there was a big upsurge of werewolf books!

And they let me down, man. Because I quickly came to realize that having werewolves in supernatural romance was often an excuse to have a male character who was either a) a creepy stalker, or b) a raging, possessive, controlling jackass, who in both cases a and b tended to have crazy double standards for gender into the bargain, and somehow it was Okay because it was because he was a (were)wolf! It totally wasn't his fault! He couldn't help being a stalker or a jackass and a hypocrite on top of that because *insert bizarre handwavey discussion of wolf behavior here*. Often with "bonus" scene in which the male werewolf bites and turns the human protagonist in a distressingly rapey way.

(Side note: Wolves are not like that "naturally;" claims that they are are based on outdated and rather poor science, based on wolf behavior in artificial situations. It is just as thin an explanation to me as every "well men can't help being dicks" explanation. If you like a romance in which the guy is a gigantic dick, own that. Don't blame the wolves!)

So I have slogged through many a werewolf romance in which the guy is a werewolf and the girl is a human and the werewolfyness is an explanation for him being a raving jackass. (Occasionally the girl is a werewolf too, but then there's usually some handwavium about how he's stronger and more dominant because he's a male werewolf, and my eyes roll out of their sockets.) I liked some of them, I retain a fondness for Bitten by Kelley Armstrong despite its faults, and Mercy Thompson (who, okay, were-coyote, but close enough), and a few others. But mostly I decided that the genre and I wanted different things out of werewolf books.

And then I read Nightshade (no, I had not forgotten that that was the ostensible topic of this post!), and let me tell you what, within the first chapter or so it was established that the main character, Calla, was a young female werewolf who actually hunted! And fought! And was strong! And was going to be alpha of her new pack! And was totally cool with that—and so were her packmates.

So: yeah. Sold. I had been looking for a werewolf book with a strong female werewolf who was smart and tough and assertive, and I found one, and that was basically all I needed.

There are also some interesting deconstructions of some of the things that do bug me about werewolf romances. Some of the characters expect that Calla will be "feminine" and will eventually submit to the male alpha... and that attitude, as it turns out, is not natural in the wolves-are-just-like-that handwavium, but is just as artificial as similar attitudes about human women. Calla has to make some tough choices: while she resents her parents trying to protect her, it turns out that they aren't trying to protect her due to generalized parental overprotectiveness, and she needs to face that she is genuinely putting herself and her pack in danger. Also, I found Calla's relationship with her younger-but-not-much-younger brother entirely plausible (I myself have a younger-but-not-much-younger brother, with whom I get along well), and rather charming. Even more, I appreciated that her younger brother didn't have any cliche grumpy "I am a DUDE and should be ALPHA instead of YOU" angst: he occasionally fights with his big sisters, but he also accepts her as alpha.

It's not a perfect book, by any stretch. There's a love triangle, and I know a lot of people (myself included) are getting kinda bored of love triangles. The book is awfully talky in places (and I hear the sequel is worse). It's set in Vail, CO, but was written by someone who actually hadn't been to Vail, and it kinda shows. And one of the members of the love triangle has a kind-of-ridiculous set of useful skills, on account of how he apparently deliberately modeled himself on Indiana Jones, right down to the whip. (I admit it, I laughed when he broke out the whip.)

But.

Female alpha werewolf, running around on the mountaintop, hunting and fighting, solving mysteries, and being a stone cold badass. It hit me where I live, is what I'm saying. And if you like that kind of thing too, well, maybe it'll do the same for you.

Nightshade, by Andrea Cremer

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Sirens, Day 1
sirens 2011
coraa
Thursday is the first "real" day of the conference--it's when most attendees arrive, and the first keynote is that evening. We spent the day doing some setup and then welcoming attendees in the Creekside Room, which had doors leading to the back porch are (which in turn had a beautiful view of the creek—hence the name—and the aspen-covered slopes beyond).

Unfortunately, the skies produced 'wintry mix,' which IMHO is a far prettier word for 'a mushy combination of icy rain and soft snow' than the phenomenon deserves. Not so much fun to go hang around in. But that was all right: everyone hung out inside instead, playing games and having tea and desserts.

I wasn't able to participate in the games (I was doing presenter and volunteer check-in), but I got to watch, and it looked like people were having a blast. First there was a homemade pictionary-ish game, but with fantasy keywords like 'witch' and 'Beka Cooper' and 'legion' instead of the usual. Then, after that, was Books to Books--a modification of the game Apples to Apples, but with a bunch of fantasy characters and concepts mixed in. jmpava went to play that, and seemed to be having a good time despite not knowing a lot of the characters. (He reads a lot of SFF, but not quite the same set as was common among Sirens attendees.) In fact, the whole group seemed to be having a good time. They played straight through the dinner break, and kept breaking into uproarious laughter.

Then to dessert, where my friends had saved me a seat, and we talked about the best book we'd read all year. (My choice was When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead.) The Thursday keynote speaker was Justine Larbalestier, who gave an interesting (and very funny) talk about monsters, YA lit, Elvis, cultures and cultural appropriation, music, terrible music, camp (in the sense of "that movie was pure camp" rather than the sense of "summer camp"), and travel.

I didn't get a lot of photos at Sirens this year (I was busy and kept forgetting to take my camera places with me), but here's a pic from Vail of the aspens, which were in full glorious color while we were there:

From Sirens 2011


Next: Day 2: Books and Breakfast (including my review of my B&B book, Nightshade), a ton of presentations, Laini Taylor's keynote, and Bedtime Stories!

Crossposted to Dreamwidth Comment here or there. comment count unavailable comments currently at DW.

Sirens, Day 0
sirens 2011
coraa
So I'm back from Sirens! Which is pretty much my favorite event of the year.

For those of you who don't know, Sirens is a yearly conference about women in fantasy literature. For an eloquent explanation of why I love Sirens, you should read what praetorianguard has to say, here.

My feelings can be summed up by this image, which features a quote by Nnedi Okorafor, one of our guests of honor, and which is part of a monster bag I won at the auction on the last day:

From Sirens 2011


(But more about the monster bag later.)

Anyway!

This year's theme was "monsters," with Justine Larbalestier, Nnedi Okorafor, and Laini Taylor as Guests of Honor. Which was a pretty exciting lineup!

I came in early to help with setup, so I was already there before the Sirens Supper on Wednesday. The Supper is an optional event, the night before the conference proper begins, where people who come in early (staff, sometimes guests, and a handful of attendees--often repeat attendees) come in early to share a meal. Since the Sirens supper is smaller than the conference as a whole (I think it had around twenty people this year?), it allows for smaller, more intimate discussions.

I brought my husband, jmpava, to Sirens for the first time this year. I know he was a little nervous, but I think the Supper helped a lot, because it was a place he could get to know a few people before the whole conference fell on his head.

Anyway, I wound up sitting with Artemis and Marie Brennan, and we talked about all kinds of things, from books to travel to sleep to dealing with RSI. It was great to catch up. Then Amy asked an icebreaker question, and we all went around the table answering it: name one book that changed your life.

I chose Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones, which was the book that taught me that you could make friendships through books. And I don't think that I've ever told the story of how it changed my life here, so now I will!

How "Howl's Moving Castle" Changed My LifeCollapse )

We lingered a while, chatting, and then I went to bed earlyish in preparation for the first "real" day of the conference.

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