Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hurt/Comfort and Hollandaise

I don't know why, but I had to make Hollandaise sauce this morning. It's probably Julia Child's fault. I have been reading her memoir, My Life in France with great relish. There wasn't anything mentioning Hollandaise per se, but there was talk of buttery dishes. And I'd been craving something more than butter to go on an English muffin. Don't be too impressed by my Mother sauce making skills. Food Network's Tyler Florence came up with a delightfully simple recipe involving a blender. The longest part of the recipe is melting the butter. And it holds up without ever breaking. I felt using that recipe was cheating until a few days ago. While browsing through Julia's Kitchen Wisdom, I found she'd included a blender Hollandaise sauce along side of the original recipe. I suppose that's where the notion of making it today came from. I've been a bit Julia happy since Christmas.

Ah, I know what you're thinking. I've had a huge health scare. Why am I making a sauce whose principle ingredients are egg yokes and butter? Shouldn't I be eating the healthiest of healthy food? Yes and no. My Doc says that there is no such thing as a diet in my world now. I need calories. My blood work is such that eggs aren't an issue. She told me to eat what I want – especially what I crave. It should be noted that I have resisted the all bacon day. I'm still on an antibiotic that throws off my taste buds. Thus, I'm waiting for that to clear to go for the bacon-o-rama. Butter and eggs taste fine though. Fear not. I don't plan on gaining back all the pounds I lost. My diet is very well balanced on the whole. Right now, I'm burning everything I eat.

Hurt/ Comfort and Writing Realities

The whole surgery thing has raised questions from Jon about the physical problems real people have after a major injury like a gunshot and how quickly they would be in any kind of action. Specifically, in the case of The Gunslinger, is it realistic for KD to make love with Shadow just days after being shot? Jon is a real stickler for realism even in fantasy. For example, one of the Hidden Passion scripts, The Highwayman, involves the rule of law in Georgian England. Jon spent a great deal of time researching the circumstances under which someone could be arrested and where and how they would be incarcerated. It was all very interesting, and it actually fit well with the script I had in mind. This isn't always the case with Jon's research, especially where the Romance genre is concerned. I am often the first to rant at the unnecessarily stupid plot elements in Romance novels, but I also know that fans of the genre expect to see certain things – even if they stretch credulity. Sometimes I have to over rule Jon in favor of what's expected and hope it doesn't look ridiculous.

Thus, I concede that a character may not be in the best shape a couple of days after having a slug dug out of the shoulder in olde Wilde West days. They were no IV antibiotics, and painkillers were hit or miss. But I don't think I should be used as a measuring stick. I have nearly 30 years on both characters and am no where near in as good shape (if they were real, mind you). Moreover, the genre fans demand some hot comfort to go with that hurt, Jon has already said that he'd direct the scene to be awkward at first and then grow more passionate. He knew I wasn't budging about the scene. After all, the menstrual cycle is not a factor in most romance novels (including mine). The women are not bloated or crampy – ever. Why would they be? What woman would want to read that for an escape?

This experience will certainly impact my non-genre writing. This sort of experience is a great way of showing how strong a vulnerable character can be or how vulnerable a strong character could be in the wake of sudden and serious debilitation. I certainly can write about it with much more depth than research and interviews could have given me. This won't happen for a while. Right now, it's all too close. I'll need quite a bit of time to write about it with the kind of perspective that such writing would require. For now, the writing that I'm thinking about is much lighter fare. I need some serious escape even if it's memoirs about crazy holiday dinners past that I've been thinking about recently. Who knows? Right now, I'm going back to Julia Child cooking in Paris.

Bon Appetite!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Yule Logs and Good Cheer

So, Jon and I are doing the Christmas thing watching the televised Yule Log on KCAL-TV channel 9 Los Angeles. I taped it as we weren't conscious at 6 am. It's 4 hours of a fireplace burning while carols are playing. The jauntiest of carols, Sleigh Ride by Johnny Mathis is on. I've heard three versions of Last Christmas by Wham. I had no idea there was more than one. I don't think there needed to be more than one. And boy, can singers ever mangle Silent Night. My absolute favorite remains the version by the Temptations. That version sounds like they're all drunk. That whole Christmas album of theirs did. But I digress. I find it surreal to tape four hours of a fireplace burning, yes. Since it's in the 70s outside, a video fireplace is most prudent. And it is very nice.

We weren't sure how much we'd celebrate Christmas this year. A week ago, I wasn't sure if I'd be up to anything at all. Tramping around for a live tree was out of the question. That's tiring under the best of circumstances. Luckily, we had a small, artificial tree from our first Christmas in Los Angeles. I wasn't sure I wanted to celebrate anything then either. We were in the city for ten months. The option on the script that brought us to LA had run out with no production date in site. We didn't really have any friends there. It was our first Christmas away from Philly. It was hot and foggy (how do you celebrate Christmas in heat and fog). And I was still profoundly grief stricken in the wake of Mom's passing late that summer. A few days before Christmas, I was moping through a strip mall near USC when I saw the tree on a clearance table. It reminded me of one that Todd Manning, a soap opera character from One Life to Live had. It was just a little fuller than Charlie Brown's Tree. And it looked like the sort of thing Manning would hang beer cans and action figures from. My Mom loved that character. He was the most interesting person that show had ever produced, so I bought it. We put it up every year even when we have a live tree. I've never hung a beer can in it, but we do put our action figures in it as ornaments. That did the trick this year. And with the lovely wreath gifted to us by Lucy, Ralph and Marguerite, the bouquet from the Archive gang and other decorations, the little apartment is really festive. I feel a thousand times better than I did at Thanksgiving. I have found in the last weeks how profoundly loved I am. There is too much to celebrate to let the holiday pass without some cheer.

Santa and Jon were very generous. Jon was very clever considering I didn't think he had time to shop. I have some books by Julia Child including My Life in France. I've wanted to read that for years. But I find myself reading Julia's Kitchen Wisdom first. I have to have a look at those recipes. I am doing some cooking today. I've had to set up a rig that allows me to chop things while seated on the sofa. I also have to rest a lot between steps and even longer between dishes, but the meal is shaping up. Jon is a fine sous chef keeping up with the dishes and lifting the heavy pots and pans.

I must make an aside here. I've gotten ham glaze on my face somehow. And Jon is testily pointing out that no carol should be sung with 'dooba dooba dos' in them unless it's be Fred Flintstone. I think it may be time to turn off the Yule log.

It's many hours later. We've watched the Alistair Sim Scrooge (it's the best), and we're full of ham and other dishes. I'm pleasantly tired. I think we managed to make rather merry, to quote Bob Cratchit. I hope all you have as well.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What Happened and What's Next

Well, it wasn't just the flu that had me in bed for weeks. During the umpteeth visit to my doctor in three weeks, she heard something in my abdomen. Four hours later, I was in a Santa Monica ER floating along on some really powerful painkillers and realizing that I watched The Godfather far too many times. I'm not going to get into the details of all of what went wrong. I don't feel entirely comfortable putting all that personal detail up on the interwebs. You can call me or e-mail me privately if you want to talk about it.

However, I can share that I have been the object of fascination by scores of perky interns and my super savvy surgeon who'd never seen anything like my case (that does a lot toward making a patient feel like she'll recover).. I've been pushed through silent, dark hospital corridors in my bed like Vito Corleone being hidden from hit men ( found a clip HERE but it doesn't have any audio).

I've been asked many detailed questions about my job at the Archive during some very embarrassing physical exams (apparently electronic archiving is the bees knees with medical personnel. I wouldn't have minded it I wasn't exposed for all the world to see much of the time. Somehow, I was able to answer in great detail. That was probably the morphine pump. I found a way to pass an entire day by watching nothing but court reality shows. I don't normally watch much of that kind of programming. It's too much like Jerry Springer but without the fighting (then, what's the point). That choice of viewing may have been because of the pump. It was more likely that I was trying to find any programming that did not mention Tiger Woods. That was really hard to do without the Food Network. I really missed the Food Network while inside.

I have never been hospitalized in my entire life. Yet, in one visit I managed to have procedures that I've only read about (and some I'd never imagined). I even had the mask over my face in the OR with the counting backwards from 100. I really don't remember thinking 99. While most of this will do wonders for the depth of my writing. And there were some amusing 'only in the Entitlement Zone' aspects to the hospital. They don't bring food around at intervals. You have to order it from room service. Let me say again, you have to order it from a menu from room service. And there were lovely aspects to the care like back rubs and a pedicure (the nurses found out the day after my surgery that I had never been hospitalized and wanted to calm me down so the meds could work, I suppose). That was really nice, but all in all, I would have just assumed skipped the whole ordeal.

However, life is what it is. I had a serious surgery and a long road to recovery. I'm not allowed to think about anything but eating and sleeping for the next few seeks. I'm writing today because so many people needed to hear from me. I really appreciate all of the well wishes and offers of help. I accept all of it including the rain dances. But worry not, knowing me, I'll be writing now that I'm more clear headed. It helps my state of mind. I plan on doing a little cooking at a time. I have to eat, and I like my cooking best. The cookies will not be in time for Christmas, but there will be cookies. Jon has been assisting me for years. I can talk him through most of it from the sofa. I need to have that cheery smell in the air. I am home with the hubs, the love and support from my extraordianrily strong family and friends. I also have some lovely gifts from my Archive friends (including protection from the Happy Gorn, thanks Craig)

That's all for now. Stay tuned.