Kavya turns out to be excellent company for a long shopping day (it was a bit of a task, finding her choral concert outfit in white and black at this time of the year, when the stores are full of short sleeves, floral prints, and bright colors — should’ve planned ahead and ordered the clothes online, but it was too late for that, and I hope the lace detailing is okay, but if not, someone please tell me now so I can cut it off before Thursday), full of charm, jokes, and thoughtful comments. I’m a lucky parent.


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Green Bean Varai

A fresh, green element on the dinner plate.

1 medium onion, minced
1 tsp black mustard seed
1/4 rounded tsp turmeric
1-3 dry red chilies, broken into pieces (optional)
1 lb green beans, chopped finely (in a food processor is fine)
1/4 rounded tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 rounded tsp salt
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

  1. Cook onions with turmeric, black mustard seed, and chilies in a dry pan over high heat, stirring constantly, for a few minutes, until semi-cooked.
  2. Add green beans, pepper, and salt, and cook a few minutes more, enough to take the raw edge off. Green beans should still be crispy.
  3. Turn off heat, stir in coconut, and serve with rice.


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ICFA Day 2

Went to John Kessel‘s GOH talk last night, which was lovely and charming and funny and erudite and made me wish I’d had a chance to take a class from him. Maybe someday I can talk him into coming to Chicago and doing a weekend seminar for the SLF or some such. Andy Duncan also did a very sweet intro for him. I love this field and its people.

Today is my panel from 4:15 – 5:45: Panel. Power, Politics, and Speculative Fiction. Should be interesting! But before that, Roshani is arriving in town for a little mini-vacation; she’ll stay with me and I’ll introduce her to lots of SF/F writers. I may have sent her a long reading list before the con, which I’m sure she hasn’t had time to actually read yet, oh well!

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ICFA Day 1

The nice thing about having a free day at a conference is that you can just hang out in your hotel room for hours, eating room service breakfast (which is big enough to also cover room service lunch, the portion sizes in hotels are way too big for me) and pounding through backlogged e-mail. I’ve gotten a lot done!

The thing to watch out for is that you can easily get glued to your couch, since there’s nothing else you actually *have* to do. Going to get up and go for a run (by which I mean, do Zombies Run! Couch-to-5K, which means mostly walking with a few little running sprints to train me towards an actual run eventually), just to stretch my legs. Then probably some more work, and hopefully I get to check out some panels and papers. I just need to clear away a little more of the backlog first, so I feel a little less panicky.

Inbox: 337

(Can I get to Inbox Zero by the end of the con? We’ll see.)

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Reading through Anand’s IEP in preparation for tomorrow’s annual meeting. Just wanted to note how much I appreciate the care and effort all of his teachers are putting in to helping him succeed. We are very lucky that they appreciate his quickness, creativity and humor.

(Sorry about his tendency to resist following templates and his continued eagerness to argue with his teachers. I understand that it’s frustrating when you would like to just concentrate on teaching twenty second-graders reading, writing, and arithmetic, which I’m sure is a hard enough job without Anand ‘helping.’

We’ll speak to Anand again about how right now, he should sometimes just try help the teacher out and follow instructions, even when he’s sure he knows a better way to do it.

We’ll also remind him that there will be plenty of opportunity to exercise those argumentative character traits in the future, when he’s speaking truth to power as part of the Resistance.)

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I have cleared away a bunch of e-mail, thanks to my assistant, Kay. Woot. Goal: Inbox Zero by the end of ICFA? That may be unreasonable (given that I still have about 350 messages), but damn, it would make me happy. Better than therapy, I suspect.
We also set up a bunch of filters and labels today, which should help with keeping things organized. No, I haven’t been using filters or labels all this time. Yes, I am a dinosaur.
I feel that I should perhaps clarify that this is a different assistant (a virtual one, working remotely from New York) than the previous assistant, Chris. Kay is just working for a few hours here and there to help specifically with some tech things. It feels ridiculously luxurious to have two assistants, but different people have different skill sets, who knew? My original assistant is still with me and still fabulous at the things he does.
Treating my writing like a grown-up business is weird.
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Marching into Spring

March is a tough time for a Chicago gardener. One minute it’s warm and sunny; the next there’s a snowstorm (we’re having one right now). There’s the desire to get out there and dig already (too soon!) set right up against the desire to hide under the covers for another two months.

But this is actually a great time to be in your garden. You might do a little raking back of protective leaf mulch (or you might wait until April, if you don’t have tiny snowdrops to uncover). You can prune some shrubs (and if you layer the pruned branches underneath, that’ll provide a little cover for beneficial insects and butterflies).

Mostly, though, it’s a time to observe and plan — the heavy labor will come later, don’t worry! There’ll be plenty of time for doing.

Note where the hellebores are unfurling their thick buds and leaves, and think about whether you might want to add another one or two for next year. Pay attention to where there are gaps in the garden, places you might add spring-planted, summer-blooming bulbs like cannas, gladioli, and lilies. Don’t forget the dahlia tubers to brighten your autumn! Enjoy the budding viburnum; you might even brush your fingers against tightly-furled buds on forsythia, cherries, peaches.

Consider the snowdrops — the ones on bare dirt are dramatic and the ones on grass are barely visible, but resist the urge to move the latter. Soon the grass will green up, and the white of the snowdrops will contrast beautifully. Instead, just make a mental note for where you might want to add more snowdrops for next March.

Also, are there some close enough to the sidewalk for the neighbors to notice as they walk to work in the morning? Maybe you will move a few of those closer to, once they’re done blooming for the season, so next spring will be just a little cheerier for the whole neighborhood.

I read somewhere once that the best thing for a garden are the steps of the gardener. I think that’s true — just remember to stay on the path in the March garden, so you don’t compact the soil too much.

Walk in potential. Dream a little.

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Perennial update

Have *finally* done the Perennial layout edits and sent the note to the layout person. I knew what I wanted done four months ago — why did I wait so long to do a five minute task? It bewilders me.
Am hoping he can turn it around quickly, and we can actually be selling the book by April. Thanks to everyone who has been so patient for so long! I do think it will be a charming little romance, a pleasure for garden lovers to enjoy, and a nice gift book for people going through cancer treatment and survivors.
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