Naomi goes flyant

I'm not going to be around much in the coming month and change. Not that I'm usually around much anyway, but this time it'll be because I'm on an epic trip across the US and Canada.

See you all later.


As those of you who speak Hebrew may be able to tell from the subject line, I've been teaching myself how to make strudel from scratch. I will be the first to admit that this is a somewhat quixotic endeavor, as a) strudel can be purchased at many bakeries, and moreover b) phyllo dough and puff pastry are readily available at most supermarkets, and c) if I really want baked goods made entirely from scratch I can make any of a wide variety of delicious cookies in about half an hour, including baking time.

The only excuses I can offer are a) I love strudel b) it's part of my cultural heritage c) it's a challenge, and d) it's fun and actually kind of thrilling. There are certain accomplishments that seem magical; that once you do them, you stand back and look at it and say, "I can't believe a human being did that. I can't believe I did that." For me, at least, stretching paper-thin dough is one of them.

recipe + pictures = strudeltorialCollapse )


Somewhere or other on the internet, I was reading about common tropes in werewolf romance, and I thought, wouldn't it be more interesting if these had anything at all to do with the sexual dynamics of actual wolves?

So, here, have a first sentence:

I knew that Auntie Nora was pregnant again, because I spent the afternoon with her, and by the next morning I was kneeling in front of the toilet, renewing my acquaintance with last night's dinner.

I don't anticipate adding more sentences but you never know.

A silly thing, and some other things

Uriel has the instincts of a filker. If you sing him a song with the word "two" in it, he will say, "three." If you sing him a song with "Daisy", he will say "Different engine name!" (Because of Daisy on Thomas the Tank Engine, you see.) If you sing "bicycle," he will say, "Different vehicle!"

Hence, this:

A Tractor Built for NCollapse )

Also, in the interest of keeping score, I finished chapter nineteen two days ago.

Also, for the people reading this who don't read dhole's journal (both of you!), he's the official blogger for the Ashkelon dig this year. Behold his official blog!

A thing

Over the last couple of days, I read, in quick succession, papersky's Vorkosigan Saga posts on, and a whole pile of fandom secrets. This made me wonder what Miles Vorkosigan would think about his fandom, or, specifically, fanfic about himself.

I immediately realized that, being the attention whore that he is, Miles would love it. Fics that were completely out of character, crack pairings, all of it. His wife Ekaterin, on the other hand, being the intensely private person she is, would hate it.

Thus the following scene was born:

Vorkosigan House, afternoon. The kids have finally gone down for their nap. MILES and EKATERIN sit at their respective comconsoles, reading Vorkosiverse fanfic.

EKATERIN: Kill them . . . kill their families. Burn their houses.

MILES: Oh, look! Here's one where I'm an ocelot!

Tip your waitresses

Recently, Uriel's been interested in dhole's hiker's encyclopedia of Israel. Specifically, he's interested in the list of hikes, with brief information about each one.

"If we go from Har Mizpeh Hayamim to Safed, we'd see water and flowers. It's a medium walk, and we could go in the spring, fall, or winter. It's ten kilometers, takes about seven hours, and we can find the map on page 327 of volume three," I'll say.

"Let's see what hikes there are in volume four!" he'll reply happily.

There was one entry I felt compelled to bring to dhole's attention. "We should do this one," I said. "Ma'aleh Sha'ar Hagay to Mordo. It says we can simply walk there."

In other news, last night I met for the first time my second cousin Sam, who is knocking around the country doing odd jobs and seeing sights while he waits for his aliyah paperwork to go through, after which he'll be drafted. He seems like a keen hiker. I wonder if he wants to go to Mordo with us?

Aethereal Girl says check it out.

So over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, SB Sarah reviewed Julia Spencer-Fleming's In the Bleak Midwinter, the first in a series of books about an Episcopalian minister (female) and a cop (male) who solve crimes in a small town in Upstate New York whilst experiencing unresolved sexual tension. She gave it an A-, which in the SB Sarah rating system means "I love this book and want to have its children."

In the comments, LizC mentioned that Ms. Spencer-Fleming had a short story featuring the characters from the book up on her website, so I decided to take a look, and you all should too, because it's a fantastic story: Collect for a Noonday Service

There are two things in particular that I like about it. First of all, man is that some tight plotting. Tight like hot pants on a 70s starlet. Click, click, click like a rubix cube, seriously. The essence (or at least, an essence) of a mystery plot is the gradual, ordered, and elegant revealing of information, and this is one of the best examples of that I've seen.

The second thing "Collect for a Noonday Service" does well is something that I've rarely seen attempted, let alone succesfully. The plot driven not by the actions of a single protagonist (or a single protagonist and his one or two sidekicks, or the opposed actions of a single protagonist and a single antagonist) but by the cooperative actions of a group of eight people. Each one has a piece of information without which the crime couldn't be solved, which is not in itself unique -- there are plenty of stories where the protagoinist has to collect clues from a diverse group of secondary characters. But this isn't that. While there is (for most of the story; the POV is a little slippery at first) a single point of view character who is clearly the protagoinist, the other characters are there not simply to provide her with plot tokens but are actively and continuously engaged in figuring out the mystery; the final result is something they all make together.

There are many reasons why this isn't usually attempted, and I could go on about the fundamental aloneness of man or the individualism of Western culture, but I think one of the main reasons it isn't usually done is because it's hard to write. Julia Spencer-Fleming pulls it off here.

I did have a few problems with the story -- the romance/angst which seems to be a hallmark of the larger series can seem shoehorned in when it appears here, and occasionally overwrought. Furthermore, the prose was not quite as tight as the plotting; in a story which is essentially about a large group of people sitting around and talking to each other, it has to be absolutely clear at all times who is speaking, and that wasn't always the case. But on the whole it's an excellent story, and if you like this sort of thing you will like it. I'm looking at you specifically, rereader.


Now, I know there must be someone on my friends list who likes cute readheaded butch girls with French accents singing country songs.