Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Attention: Mother-Writers

The Literary Reflections department of Literary Mama is seeking personal essays about writing as a mother, reading as a mother, or developing a career as a professional mother-writer. If any of you have such an essay in your portfolio or an idea brewing along these lines, they welcome your participation. Here are the submissions guidelines.

Me? I'm sick of writing about parenthood. I want to write about things like the Burning Man gift economy.

Parents Magazine Podcast

Searching for Mary Poppins lives with this recent Parents magazine podcast interview with my wildly articulate and charming coeditor, Susan Davis.

If any of you are curious about the process of editing anthologies, click here to see an interview between Susan and me and then click on the names to the right for more editor interviews.

Wallpaper Murder Mystery

Karen Templer's obsessive rant about Florence Broadhurst: Her Secret & Extraordinary Lives by Helen O'Neill made me laugh.

"...Broadhurst was a pattern designer famous for her wallpapers, and she was also mysteriously murdered. So the book is some sort of crazy cross between a wallpaper catalog and a murder mystery — and I'm quite certain I've never encountered a book that meets that description before. (Who knew that description could be so enticing?)"

Now I want this book, too.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Picnic Plates

We poked around Rhinebeck, New York today and saw these great Deruta ceramics-inspired melamine plates at Hammertown. I don't need them, so I didn't buy them...but I want them.

Spring, part four

This morning's Berkshire Eagle headline reminded me that it's time to take down the bird feeder. I haven't yet encountered a black bear in the Berkshires, but last year neighbors on either side of our house saw one, so it must have crossed our yard. Last year there was also a moose sighting in the neighborhood.

If you encounter a bear ...

  • Don't run. Running will make the bear think you are prey, and that could cause the animal to chase you. Despite their lumbering appearance, black bears can run fast — far faster than humans — so don't try to outrun one.

  • Make noise. Most black bears will retreat if you make noise or throw an object in their direction. If you find yourself face to face with a bear, have someone farther away create loud noises as a distraction, then back away from the bear slowly.

  • SOURCE: MassWildlife.

    Saturday, April 26, 2008

    Time Zones?

    If any of you are wondering how I manage to blog during work hours, the answer is that I don't. My Google clock was set to Pacific Standard Time. I do believe it's fixed now.

    Edit: Huh. I still seem to be on California time, even though I switched the Dashboard setting to Eastern Time. Anybody out there know how to fix the time stamp?

    Friday, April 25, 2008

    Website Makeover

    Betsy's dragon fruit photo inspired an impromptu, remarkably speedy and painless overhaul of my website. Tana waved her magic wand yesterday afternoon and poof: there it was. We're still fiddling with fonts and the magenta text color, but I feel virtually refreshed.

    Thursday, April 24, 2008

    Interview with Betsy McNair

    This photo makes my heart beat fast. It's from Betsy McNair's recent My Mexico Tours e-newsletter. I met Betsy a decade or so ago when I was writing for Fodor's and she was managing one of my favorite inns, La Casa de Espíritus Alegres in Guanajuato. Now in addition to leading wonderful culinary and cultural tours, she is the author of Mexicocina: The Spirit and Style of the Mexican Kitchen.

    What's the name of that fruit?

    Pitaya (sometimes spelled pitayha) -- fruit of a night-blooming cactus native to Central and South American, where it was called fruta escamosa, scaly fruit. It is now cultivated in Vietnam, Thailand, etc., where it's called dragon fruit. There are a few different types of the fruit, the most common one seems to be red-skinned, white on the inside, with black seeds. This one grows wild in Diana Kennedy's garden in Zitacuaro, Michoacán.You'll recognize the plant, I think, as there are many varieties (both fruiting and non-fruiting, but all with a great big flower) in gardens all all over Mexico. Long jagged-edged succulent-type leaves often hanging down over a wall.

    What does it taste like?

    Wet and smooth, mostly, with crunch from the little seeds. Slightly sweet. Surprisingly bland in flavor given the outerspace color.

    Gina: How does one eat it?

    Betsy: DK just sliced it up as you see and we had it for a light refreshing dessert after one of our classes.

    Wednesday, April 23, 2008

    Spring, part three

    This morning our woods are filled with baby maple leaves.

    Sunday, April 20, 2008

    Forsythia Haters

    Turns out there are lots of you out there who think forsythia is a vulgar invasive noxious weed. Who knew? I still think it's pretty.

    Saturday, April 19, 2008

    Spring, part two

    FORSYTHIA, 2007 by Karin Stack

    I'm happy on the deepest cellular level to see the yellow forsythia and daffodils in bloom. There still aren't leaves on the trees, but it seems safe to take off the snow tires.

    Friday, April 18, 2008

    Margaret Roach's New Garden Blog

    Thanks to Rural Intelligence for this heads up about Margaret Roach's new blog, A Way to Garden, about gardening in the Hudson Valley/Berkshires Zone 5B. Margaret is the former editorial director of Martha Stewart Living and her blog looks like it will be a fantastic local resource.

    Sunday, April 13, 2008

    Inspirational Quote of the Day

    (via Masha Hamilton)

    "I am always doing things I can't do. That's how I get to do them."
    -- Picasso

    Saturday, April 12, 2008

    Next up: James Collins

    Yesterday I had the good fortune to spend the night on assignment here. I took a bubble bath in the clawfoot tub, then curled up and finished David Samuels's fascinating book, The Runner.

    Next up on my bedside table and eventual blog interview subject:
    Beginner's Greek: A Novel by James Collins.

    Wednesday, April 9, 2008

    In Praise of Lillet Blanc

    The other day I invented a tasty sangria-like concoction of Lillet Blanc mixed with fresh blood orange juice. Very spring...or at least not so winter.

    I've been a bit obsessed with Lillet Blanc since reading in Kim Sunée's Trail of Crumbs acknowledgments that she drank too much of it while writing the final drafts of her memoir. Other than including a recipe for wild peaches poached in Lillet Blanc and lemon verbena, however, she didn't drink this beverage in the narrative of the book, so I asked her in the blog interview (which she still plans to get to eventually) how one drinks it. She wrote me last night that she likes it slightly chilled with a twist of Meyer lemon or orange.

    Tuesday, April 8, 2008


    I'm under the weather today, but am happy to report that the actual weather in the Berkshires has finally turned springlike. The crocuses are budding in our backyard and Lyme disease-carrying ticks are hatching away in the woods. Think it's safe to take off the snow tires?

    Friday, April 4, 2008

    San Miguel de Allende Vacation Raffle

    The San Miguel Literary Society is raffling a week's stay at Casa Castilla, including the services of a full-time chef and housekeeper. This dreamy historic property was the setting of my February travel writing workshop. Tickets are US$25. Click here for details. Contest ends May 9, 2008. Good luck!

    Tuesday, April 1, 2008

    Fragrance & Film Festival

    My friend Anne sent me a link today to the Fragrance & Film Festival competition. People submit short films that evoke specified perfumes and the winner gets $10,000 (sponsored by Vogue). It's a curious concept -- like making a commercial, yet not. If I were a film student, or just had more time on my hands, I think it'd be a fun exercise.