You are viewing desperance

The Idle Solitary [entries|friends|calendar]

[ website | My Website ]
[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ calendar | livejournal calendar ]

Unexpected publishing [01 Dec 2014|05:21pm]
I have spent the last several years being marginally aware that I was letting chances of income slip away, simply by inaction: specifically, by not publishing my BVC e-books in more formats in more places, not making them available for Nooks and Kobos and i-whatevers and all sorts. It was never a significant pain, though, because none of my books has ever produced a significant income, and I let so many other greater chances slip away, this was never more than a mild shoulda-done-that-before-now kind of itch.

A couple of months ago, I put Dispossession up for Kobo, and lo: the world didn't fall on my head, and I put it in a sale last month and sold more copies than I'd expected. So these last couple of days, I've been busy uploading my other BVC titles to Kobo - and this afternoon, all without any intent on my part, I spent a couple of hours arranging that they should all become available for every other known device also, in every market I have the ability to reach.

So yeah. I'll make other individual announcements later, as they actually appear; but if you buy from Smashwords, the epubs are up there now, and if you go through the Apple store or B&N or pretty much whoever, the books are on their way. Finally. I am so not cut out for the new business model of authorship; I want my ivory tower back, plzkthx.
2 comments|post comment

Advent [01 Dec 2014|11:26am]
So far today, I have:

woken up with the same headache I took to bed last night, which at least demonstrates consistency, I guess*;

opened the first door on the advent calendar, and eaten the chocolate therebehind (dark choc marzipan, in the shape of a bell; and I have not encountered an advent calendar since I was a kid, when I do not believe they came with added chocolate - all I remember is pictures, and quarrelling over whose turn it was to reveal the next);

fielded a phone-call from my publisher, to learn that Bitter Waters will be a featured Indie Book of the Month in Kirkus come January;

published Light Errant on Kobo, to go alongside Dead of Light which went up yesterday and Dispossession some months back, for those of you who can use that format;

started a sourdough loaf, hurrah; and

emptied the dishwasher. Don't mock me. I am so degraded that small household tasks feel like significant achievements. This afternoon I propose to work further on the unfucking of my study, as my head - or my headache - is beyond me.

*There was also koffing in the middle of the night, but that at least seems to have passed over.
4 comments|post comment

Closeted. With added cat. [30 Nov 2014|05:26pm]
The first step in sorting out the chaos that is my room? Lay in the closet, naturally.

The first step in sorting out the chaos that was my closet? Lay in removing everything and adding it to the chaos of the room. Also naturally.

Mac helped:


and helped again:


and helped again:


and helped again:


(And actually more times that I didn't get to photograph, on account of hands full and cat-in-the-way. Repeatedly.)
3 comments|post comment

And the rain it raineth two days in consecution [30 Nov 2014|09:30am]
A terrible, dreadful, appalling thing is happening outside the house. It's so awful, the boys don't even want to look at it. No curtains need be drawn, no windows opened.

Wetness! Brrr!

We are hunkering down for a hard, hard season. Barry is Occupying Laundry, as is his duty and his right. Mac is flitting upsettedly from basking-spot to basking-spot, finding nothing to bask in and hence no purpose to life. He is a philosopher-cat, and may just have discovered existentialism.

Myself, I propose to read someone else's proofs, and contemplate the notion of a savoury turkey crumble for dinner (for this is post-Thanksgiving, and by statute everything that issueth from the kitchen must contain turkey; yesterday's turkey chile verde was actually rather good, and likewise the beans cooked down in turkey-broth and the cauliflower soup ditto ditto). I was thinking I might use the olive bread as a basis for the crust. Is this even possible? Has it ever been done...?
4 comments|post comment

EtA [28 Nov 2014|12:26pm]
Also worth remembering: the black pudding/ground pork/apple/bread stuffing came out really well. And I kind of invented it, so I should probably write something down. Lots of fresh sage in that, and English sausage spices - mace, nutmeg, ginger. Lots of pepper.

And concomittantly, you can't make black pudding stuffing without black pudding, so I should probably ensure a steady presence of that. Happily, it freezes perfectly well.

And bolstering the turkey stock with the neck of this year's bird and a few more veggies? That really works, too. I could have supped just on the broth and been happy.
11 comments|post comment

It's not so black, this Friday [28 Nov 2014|11:03am]
Today I will be mostly cleaning things, if the kitchen is a thing. And breaking down the turkey.

M'wife has given up on consciousness and gone back to bed. Aww. I shouldn't be at all surprised if she had a cat to keep her company, as I singularly fail to do so. (Of all the losses I lament from my youth, the ability to sleep late and long may actually be the highest on the list. What's with that?)

Lessons learned, or in some cases reiterated: I need to roast more turkeys. I need to practice, so that the big occasions are not each and every time all stress and experiment. The trouble with this, of course - and the reason why we do not do it - is that a turkey is an awful lot of not very much. Still: I want at least to spatchcock one - before next T'Day - in order to find out whether spatchcocking is the way to go.

I need to get better at juggling dishes around the oven, as there is no possibility of adding a second oven. One of the stuffings burned, simply because of where it was. (If I can't have a second oven, I definitely need a bigger one. But that would need a complete kitchen makeover. Which would need a lot of money. Oh bestseller, where art thou...?)

I need to get better at carving (again, practice!), and also at letting other people help. I am properly grateful to Greg for stepping in and taking over, and at the same time resentful that he needed to. I should be able to take a bird apart neatly and efficiently, damn it.

I need to remember the recipe for the leek bread pudding, because that was awesome. Ditto the overnight rye.

I need to have more nibbly bits about, more small eats for mid-afternoon: in part because nibbling is awesome, and in part because not everyone can get through from breakfast to dinner on adrenalin and alcohol.

And I do probably need to acknowledge that I will never actually integrate into this society, because it comes more and more clear as the years go by that actually? I don't really all that much like pie. People brought magnificent pies, and I didn't want more than a taste off Karen's plate. I seldom want a dessert at all these days, apart from a nibble of bitter chocolate; but when I do, if I do, I'd rather have a cake or a pudding (in either definition, British or American). I'm afraid this is dire heresy, here in the Land of Pie, but it really does seem to be the case. Oddly, I'm still fine with savoury pies; it ain't pastry-and-filling per se that sits wrong with me. Just the sweet kind. And I'm probably overthinking this and/or overstating the case, but this morning this is how I feel. Hey-ho.
16 comments|post comment

Liveblogging T'Day: 02 [27 Nov 2014|11:40am]
The butternut pie is in the oven; the dinner rolls are rising beside. I may be on my third pint of coffee. (What? It's not alcohol. It's not twelve o'clock yet. Be impressed.)

Time to start making the black pudding/ground pork/apple stuffing. I wonder how on earth to do this...?
post comment

Overnight rye bread [27 Nov 2014|10:36am]
In Iceland, apparently they eat this with sweet butter and smoked lamb. On first contact, I find it more cakey than breadlike: almost a gingerbread, indeed, only without the actual y'know ginger (this would be on account of the half-cup of golden syrup, largely) - but I'd be happy to try it with smoked anything, if I had, y'know. Anything smoked. I do so need a cold smoker. (Hot smoking I can fake in the grill, for now.)

Meantime, this is how it happened:

1.5 cups/200g dark rye flour
3/4 cup/120g wholewheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda/bicarb
1 cup/250g buttermilk
1/2 cup/200g golden syrup

Heat oven to 200F/100C/gas mark 1/4. Butter a loaf pan. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl; stir in buttermilk and syrup. Pour smooth batter into the tin and cover with tinfoil. Leave in the oven overnight (seven or eight hours, essentially). Cool a little, unmould, cool completely.
5 comments|post comment

Liveblogging T'Day: 01 [27 Nov 2014|10:18am]
That moment when you realise/remember that the pastry crust for the butternut pie needs to be pre-baked and then cooled, and all your timings have gone askew. Again.

...Is immediately followed by that moment when you wonder whether you can start drinking yet.

Meanwhile, I offer you a glimpse of the Overnight Rye: seven and a half hours in the oven, from midnight till morning...

9 comments|post comment

Happy T'day [27 Nov 2014|09:18am]
First of all our household*, the boys have had their turkey-and-giblets breakfast. Will there be thanksgiving? Don't make me laugh. (Homily-cat in the long-ago would always bounce into my lap after breakfast and lick my nose, which I always took for gratitude. I was very young at the time.)

Now begins a long, long day of baking and roasting, possibly interspersed with too much liveblogging and not enough wine. How early may one begin to drink wine...?

*"First among equals?" they say. "Don't make me laugh. Scoop the litter, minion, I wish to poop."
6 comments|post comment

...And so it begins [26 Nov 2014|12:15pm]
Well, actually it began yesterday, when I made the cranberry sauce. Or at least the first cranberry sauce. I may need another, differenter batch. Just because.

But today we get serious. I have collected turkey-bird, and marched two miles with him (or her? I have no idea: do they generally market hen-birds or cock-birds or both? Is there a point in being discriminatory? Should I have sought out one or the other?) on my back. He (for the sake of convenience only: it's less typing. Fewer characters) is now relaxing in a warm bath. He's never been frozen, exactly, but they do deep-chill their birds here to a scary-stiff extent. The poor thing needs to get some warmth in his bones before I towel him dry and scatter his skin with salt and baking powder for an overnight open-air brining. (Is it lazy or perverse, that we still call this brining - albeit "dry-brining" - when there is no liquid involved, no actual y'know brine?)

And I need to do some baking today, and a lot of cleaning and sorting and organising, and I'm not quite sure how much more actual cooking I can contrive but I am hopeful: some at least...
9 comments|post comment

In lieu of line [25 Nov 2014|06:38pm]
So a terrible thing happened yesterday: people came to haul me away for a cheese-crawl up through Marin and Sonoma, BEFORE I HAD FINISHED MY POT OF COFFEE. I STILL HAD A MUGFUL LEFT.

Not that anyone would have guessed, mind you: I bravely lied to my friends, assured them that I was fully caffeinated, and sallied forth unheedingly. I may have been a little quiet in the car.

But: this left a problem that has been hanging around all day, in the form of an undrunk mug of coffee. And as far as I'm concerned, there is no way to reheat a mug of strong black coffee without ruining it; and yet, I abhor waste. Which is why that mug has hung around all day.

Happily, as everyone knows, nothing enhances a chocolate cake more than a little strong black coffee, that needs to be cold before adding. And this is a guestly season. That mug is suddenly not a problem, it's a feature!

All my life longFor a long time now, I have wanted to bake a flourless chocolate cake, but I never did it ere this.

Eight eggs, a pound of 72% chocolate and a quarter-cup of coffee later? The cake is in the oven, and we'll see. And there is still a lot of coffee left. I may have to make another cake.
6 comments|post comment

In the interests of an interesting day [25 Nov 2014|03:49pm]
So far, the TurkeyDay menu reads:

One (1) turkey, dry-brined and roasted, its neck end stuffed with a newly-patent mixture of homemade black pudding, ground pork, breadcrumbs, sage and apple, its main cavity left hollow unless I change my mind;

Yukon Gold potatoes roasted, russet potatoes mashed;

Leek bread pudding, baked;

Cornbread/sour cherry/applepear stuffing, baked;

Root veggies, roasted with balsamic;

Brussels sprouts, roasted and tossed with chestnuts and bacon;

Cranberry sauce;

Bread sauce;


Pies: pecan, butternut, apple.

[EtA: also breads. Sourdough, dinner rolls, and a rye loaf that bakes all night in a very low oven.)

- So what's missing from that list, what can or might or should I do to elevate the meal and delight my guests, m'wife, myself...? Anything from little appetizers to major contributions to a stuffing for the main cavity: I am open to all suggestions.
17 comments|post comment

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas [25 Nov 2014|03:21pm]
Cinnamon and allspice predominate in my kitchen this afternoon, and all I'm doing is making cranberry sauce, first step towards a Thanksgiving dinner. Actually, maybe it's cinnamon and allspice and red wine, for there's a cup of Cab in with the berries - but whatever it is, it is that moment that I first think "Ahhh..." and breathe deeply and make a big internal seasonal adjustment. When I was a kid, it was always a moment in town, stepping out of a shop in mid-afternoon to find the sky unexpectedly dark and the street bright with colour; but Christmas has shifted to a food-holiday, and I've shifted to a place that doesn't have such significantly early sunsets, so now it's a moment in my own kitchen. Every year.

(And now I'm wondering what the cranberry sauce would be like if I mixed in some pomegranate seeds. Because California, y'know?)
2 comments|post comment

Reviews! [23 Nov 2014|06:35pm]
Being Small has picked up a couple of notices today: one from [ profile] wordweaverlynn, which you will find here (money shot: "a classic: deft, subtle, moving"; also "Please read it, because I seriously want to discuss it with someone. I'm proposing a panel on this book for FOGcon, but I'd rather not wait until March"), and one over on Amazon which if you don't want to click through I will tell you it just says "A modern coming of age story; think Holden Caulfield meets some of the male characters in the Broadway musical 'Rent'. I loved it. Thank you, New York Times, for your commanding review; I wouldn't have known about it otherwise. Someone ought to snap up the movie rights to this one."

Heh. This is the kind of Sunday reviews I can live with. *snuggles*
2 comments|post comment

Sunday, Sunday [23 Nov 2014|05:31pm]
Time was, when I deliberately tried not to make Sundays different from other days, except that they were better for getting work done.

Those days ... are gone. Or at least in abeyance. At the moment I'm enjoying not putting any worky-pressure on myself of a Sunday. Today the most I wanted to do was to clean the mud-room sink. (If you haven't seen it, don't ask; if you have seen it, well. You don't need to ask. But it was black, and now it is sink-coloured. Achievement unlocked!)

Also I have shopped and cleaned and cooked and tidied. There is a pork shoulder in the oven, slow-roasting on a bed of apples and pears and onions and wine, which will all get whizzed up into a gravy; and there will be purple potato wedges and brussels sprouts shredded and sauteed with ginger and garlic, and we will call it dinner. We may even call it good.

Meanwhile, I am reading a book! For I was in Borderlands, as you know, and in fear lest Ancillary Sword not last me the train journey home. So I was on the very verge of going to Jude and asking her to recommend me something, when she called me over and said, "Look at this!"

So I did look, and we agreed that we really liked the cover, and the blurb was engaging, so I bought it for I really am that easy; and people, I am loving this book. It has cross-dressing for plot and purpose and steampunkishness and an England divided (between an abiding monarchy and a republic, after the successful Luddite revolution) and repressed science and travelling circuses and all sorts. And a Graham Joyce quote on the cover, so it feels apt to be reading it this weekend, when I couldn't make his memorial back in the old country. One last time, he gets to recommend a book to me.

In other news, Sunday appears newly to be the day when we hear that friends are having health issues. Stop that, Sunday.
6 comments|post comment

Estate management [22 Nov 2014|04:39pm]
We had lunch in the city with Ellen and Mad, so we did, m'wife and I. And then we were nearly home, and I noted a street name as we passed, and wondered aloud whether all the other streets in the development were named in tune with that one: for it was called Cumulus Avenue, and, y'know. Naming a whole slew of streets after clouds? Fun, I thought. Especially in Silicon Valley, where we are all about the cloud.

So I looked on Google Maps - and not so much, alas. There is Cumulus, so there is of course Cirrus, for these are the two that people know. And linking them both is Azure, which, fair enough. When the sky's not cloudy all day, it does tend to be blue around hereabouts. But the streets that bracket them are Debussy, Brahms and Ives. Okay, so we're hearing the music of the clouds, I guess - except that then if you want to get out you have to leave by way of Goya and Cezanne. Umm, perhaps they're notable for their painting of the sky...?

Maybe it's just me, but we are pattern-seeking creatures, we humans, and I do think people should make more of an effort to seed the environment with actual, y'know, patterns. There ought to be laws. One development, one theme. Hell, they didn't need to look far for an example; whoever laid out the main streets around here was big on girls' names (they may have had a lot of daughters). We have Evelyn and Maude and Mathilda and Mary, all neatly intersecting. That's the way to do it.
11 comments|post comment

If not, I'll ne'er trust cloudbase [20 Nov 2014|07:01pm]
Rainstuff skyfall outwet.

So of course today was the day I ran errands up in the city. M'wife picked me up at Mountain View on my return, and prodded me and said "Oh, sweetie, you are very damp." I may have squished.

And I came home and promptly went out again, to get wine for the night, because wine; and came home and ripped all my own clothes off and dived into a hot shower, because I was that degree of cold where your bare arm brushes your bare ribs and you flinch away because your own elbow is just that chilly to the touch. And I'd have stayed under the shower a lot longer, let me say, if we weren't still in drought here, because frankly one day's rain isn't going to make a difference to the state, tho' it's a blessing to my garden.

Anyway: rain and train and San Francisco, Ellen Klages and Borderlands, Bart and the Ferry Building and rain and train: those were my day. Oh, and an upscale grocery store just around the corner from B'lands which confuses me mightily every time because anything in the UK called Bi-Rite would automatically be the other thing, as downmarket as you can go, discounted stuff that was cheap to start with. Not this place, it's lovely. I may have lied to myself, saying I was only going there for information, to ask when the Seville oranges would be in, for we have an emergency marmalade crisis in this household; but of course I came out with pastas and vinegar and there would've been cheese too if we hadn't been heading for a cheese-crawl this Monday as ever is.
3 comments|post comment

Third time makes a meme [18 Nov 2014|07:29pm]
So Alex Hurst posted about her first library.

And then Mrissa did the same.

So I thought, okay, I can do that too.

Except that when I do it it's almost like boasting, because, y'know. I grew up in Oxford. I have Library Privilege. If we disregard the mobile library that came to the health centre in East Oxford every Wednesday afternoon (actually maybe we shouldn't disregard it, because it was like an ambulance full of books - actually, I'm fairly sure I thought it was an ambulance full of books - and that is inherently cool, even if you don't jump forward thirty-some years and discover my best friend Helen being a doctor in that very health centre, which was only just over the fence from the house that I grew up in, twenty years and two hundred miles before I ever met Helen), then my first library was Oxford City Library. In its original Victorian incarnation, which was an adjunct to the Town Hall. It was a good mile from our house, probably a little further, but we walked it stoutly every Saturday morning: two parents, and four kids in descending order (him, her, me, her), with about two and a half years between each of us.

The library was up a flight of steps, through brass-bound doors; and you turned left in the hallway for the adult library, right for the children's. And you weren't allowed to progress from right to left till you were twelve. Which, when you've been reading since you were three (my big sister taught me, when she must've been all of five at the time - thanks, Viv!), is a very long time to wait. And when you're allowed to take half a dozen books a week out of the children's library, and you have three sibs who are doing the same, it's not just possible but entirely likely that you're going to read everything but everything that library has to offer, before you're let move on.

Happily, I had that elder brother, five years ahead of me. He got into the adult library when I was seven; and I'd already established the tradition that I just read everything that everybody brought home. Which is how I read my first serious SF - Silverberg's Nightwings, Pohl & Williamson's The Reefs of Space - when I was too small to remember either titles or authors, and the books were just yellow-covered with black type (yay Gollancz: easy to find, tho' impossible to identify beyond "it's yellow, it must be SF or crime"; no helpful illustrations for little kids who couldn't remember title and author). I spent much of my teenage assiduously reading all the SF available in the UK, picking off those early encounters one by one, "Aha! Found it!" (For there always was something I did remember: "Roum is a city built on seven hills", or the living criminals being cut apart for organ donation, or...)

And the adult library when I finally got in there had an issue system that used a camera to photograph your ticket and the book's ID, which was the coolest thing ever; and talking of cameras, up in one of the galleries was a collection of photographs of historic Oxford, which you could go up and look through. And that wasn't the whole of our Saturday mornings, because we'd always do something cultural and/or fun, going up a college tower or feeding the deer in Magdalen Deer Park or visiting the Ashmolean or the Natural History Museum or the Pitt Rivers or or or. And having a sticky bun in the Cadena and spending our pocket money in the shops, that too. But the library was at the core of the day, always.

Later they moved it to a shopping centre down towards the station, and then it was all modern and really not the same; so I count that iteration as my second library, and, y'know. You always remember your first.
5 comments|post comment

Where the water is [18 Nov 2014|04:06pm]
Karen is busy studying statistics as we speak. Me, I am looking out of the window and grumbling 'cos it isn't raining yet, although the website says there's a 20% chance that it should be. 20%! That's practically a guarantee!

Happily the odds rise to 70% overnight - but if there hasn't been rain before morning, I am going to be soooo grumpy. Who would have predicted this?

In vaguely related news, the odds of finding a young man shaving the hair off his well-developed and thoroughly tattooed chest in the gents' restroom at the library? Are apparently greater than zero. I would not have predicted that.
2 comments|post comment

[ viewing | 20 entries back ]
[ go | earlier/later ]