Friday, February 10, 2006

Winter Wonderland

Here's something we haven't seen around here in a while:

Winter has been pretty lame this year. There was that good blizzard in January, and December was quite cold, but overall, it's been a wam, non-snowy winter. I grew up in southern California, and in third grade, our teacher took us all outside because it was technically snowing (melting the second it hit the ground) and most of us had never seen snow actually falling from the sky. So snow is still a novelty for me. Everything is so grey and brown in winter here, and the snow makes everything look clean and beautiful. Until it's been around for a while and gets dirty, or starts melting and turns into slush. I really enjoy an occasional 3-4" accumulation of snow throughout the winter, which I know is weird. But just in time for the Winter Olympics, it decided to look like winter today. They don't show the opening ceremonies here until 7:00 pm.

Knitting: Tempting II is a bit longer, Heavenly Stole is a bit longer. Nothing new to report, really, until I get Marie Louise's Lace Sweater on the needles.

Writing: I keep thinking of changes to the characters and/or plot, so chapter one is still evolving a bit. I've decided the go with the "wait and see" approach with the murder mystery. This means that all the suspects are established, but I haven't actually decided who the murderer is. Alas, the poor victim has already been chosen, but the role of murderer is up for grabs. Writing loses something for me if I try to map out too much ahead of time. I like to let the characters drive the story a bit. This can be frustrating with uncooperative characters who need more structure and discipline, but for the most part ends in a story that's better than something I could develop on my own, without their input. I also have a literary novel in the brainstorming stages. I had planned to finish the mystery before starting anything else, but I've been dreaming bits of a literary novel, so it's almost time to start that. I also have three (3!) children's books in various stages of development, two with some actual writing done. You can see from my list of writing projects and knitting projects that I'm a "many balls in the air" kind of person. I have to carefully balance my need for variety with my need to actually finish something, which is a challenge for me. It's hard to tell sometimes when I need to just suck it up and push through to the end of a project and when I'm being productive enough working on several different things.

Reading: About halfway through White Teeth. This book is amazing. I can't wait for the resolution, but at the same time, I don't want the book to end. That does not happen very often for me. Unless the second half isn't as good, I think this is going to end up on the shelf next to Kate Atkinson, one of my very favorite authors. Fortunately, Zadie Smith has two other novels!

Cooking: I have navy beans on the stove right now so I can experiment with Bean and Barley Soup. I haven't decided what else goes in it. Carrots, celery, and onion, maybe. I might puree half to make it thicker. Dried beans are definitely not a convenience food, but sometimes they're worth it. This is one of those times. I chucked the beans in a bowl of water last night, rinsed and drained them, and added fresh water, and now they're simmering on the stove for 90 minutes or so. They're time-consuming, but not labor-intensive. I haven't decided yet if I'm pre-cooking the barley. I made banana bread yesterday, and I may tweak the recipe I'm starting to develop before posting. I haven't been in a truffle-making place yet, but I've been thinking about flavor combinations I want to try (partly inspired by fancy liqueur Christmas gifts!).

I promise more kitty pictures over the weekend!

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