Sunday, December 21, 2008

Blatherings of a snow prisoner

Well, I asked for it, I did. You don't have to remind me. "I hope we get some snow," I said, whining a little, when I saw lovely snow pictures on other people's blogs. "I love snow." Yeah. Well.

I got my wish. We are snowed in and frozen solid in a winter wasteland wonderland. Last night I thought the wind would blow the roof off the house; I looked out the window at one point (not the ones that are so iced over you can't see through them; those are on the east side of the house) and the snow appeared to be falling from the ground up, skyward. Then sideways. Then in whirls and eddies. A drift is blocking the back door. The front door is still passable, though not in any comfortable fashion of a fifteen-year-old arthritic dog:
(That's Jim giving Leroy a lift.)

I feel very, very badly for the local merchants and crafters. This is usually the big weekend at the Saturday Market, the outdoor craft fair where Laini's Ladies were born. Artisans really rely on their holiday sales to see them through the next few months. As if the economy isn't bad enough, to have the weather crimp off these last important shopping days! Plus: cabin fever! I missed the Portland kidlit holiday party on Friday out of fear of driving (though I did get out earlier that day for some last-minute shopping during a temporary thaw between storms), and we missed a fun craft-sale/party last night chez Robot Candy; just found out the only people who made it were those in walking distance. And there were mini chocolate-gingerbread houses for everyone! Wah!
Check out their etsy stores, HERE and HERE, for abundant cuteness.

Also. . . this really threatens my birthday tomorrow. The annual Laini's birthday dungeness crab feast is supposed to take place at my parents' house, but they are up icy undrivable hills in the forest, so I don't think that is going to happen. Sigh. It'll be just me and Jim and a whole coconut cream pie. . . Hey, actually, that doesn't sound so bad!

My sister just made it here from California before the snow got so bad flights started being cancelled, but we haven't been able to see her, as we are trapped in different houses. See, you people in snowy lands, we don't exactly have snow ploughs here, and almost nobody has tire chains or studded tires. We can go several years at a time with no snow, at least none that sticks. So we're helpless. Usually I like getting snowed in, but not during the holidays!!! Boo hoo hoo hoo.

Well, all this being trapped in the house was good for finishing going over Lips Touch copyedits, but I can't exactly mail them back to New York. I finished a couple more Cybils books yesterday, as we close in on the shortlists that we will pass along to the next committee who will select the winners. I have a couple that I'm really rooting for, but nothing is decided yet. Interestingly, two panelists are in absolute love with a book I extremely disliked; not just idly disliked, but actively disliked. This process has been really interesting -- sure, I probably should have been writing instead of reading dozens and dozens of books, but it's good to experience the awards committee process from the inside, see the complete arbitrariness of the process. How it's possible for some people to adore books that others quite loathe. We may have to arm wrestle over the matter. You know, arm wrestle over email. That sounds tricky. Email rochambeau? Roshambo? Hm.

Oh, while rereading Lips Touch, I had a last-minute notion to double-check an obscure term that I had come across in some long-forgotten research scavenge; it was a phrase I thought was an ancient Avestan or Persian derogatory term for "the accursed Alexander" (the Great) (most unbeloved by Zoroastrians, as he burned Persepolis and the ancient scriptures of Zarathustra). Well, it wasn't, not at all. I wonder now where I got it, how it came to be written down. It was something entirely else. Whew, I had time to remove it. Though there aren't a lot of readers who would have known, those who did would have scoffed at me as a complete eejit. As it is, I have pirated words from the dead language of Avestan to cobble together an invented language (that was fun), and I hope no hoity reviewers get a stick up their butts and decide to deride my misuse of Avestan grammar or something. Because grammar there is none.

Do you know anything about Zoroastrianism? I don't know much, but ever since 9th grade history, I've thought it a most exceedingly interesting religion. It's the oldest of the "revealed world religions," meaning the oldest "revealed" by a prophet (Zoroaster/Zarathustra); it may be the oldest monotheistic religion, and there is strong suggestion that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam "cribbed" from it. God and Satan, the soul, heaven and hell, the virgin birth, the Resurrection, and more: Zoroastrianism said it first. In 9th grade, perhaps the most interesting things about it to me were: 1) the way they dispose of dead bodies, putting them on "towers of silence" for vultures to clean; and 2) the notion that Hell is like a prison term, but that eventually even the wicked in Hell will serve out their terms and achieve expiation. Isn't that nice? Much nicer than Christian Hell.

Why am I talking about this? I don't know. The novella "Hatchling" in Lips Touch is loosely inspired by some aspects of Zoroastrianism. Loosely. Like, I do my research on Wikipedia. My "research" generally consists of writing down the things that really interest me and doing with them as I please. Which might also include getting stuff totally wrong. I'd be horrible at historical fiction, because I just like to glean tidbits and remake them to my own purposes. Another Lips Touch story, "Spicy Little Curses Such As These," would not stand up to the scrutiny of a scholar of the British Raj. Accuracy just isn't as important to me as story. But I do love true, rigorous historical fiction, and have great, great respect for the writers who "get it right."

Blah blah blah. I should think about doing some actual writing today. On my "newt." Instead of dithering about. I've done my baking and gift wrapping, the house is clean and twinkly with lights and holiday goodness, I can't go anywhere. It sounds like a recipe for writing, noh?

Ah, and lastly, I shall reveal to you the extraordinary glamour of my "snowed-in" apparel. This is what they're wearing in Milan right now, folks. It hasn't even made it to Paris yet, it's that new of a fashion.



Jim Di Bartolo said...

Tres chic, cherie! Now EVERYone will be wearing it!

Your snowed-in-as-well-and-glad-to-be-"stuck"-inside-with-you-companion (aka Husbles)

Elise Murphy said...

Our winter wasteland might just beat yours! And we've got goats to keep warm . . . which at least gives meaning to our snowed-in-lives right now. Love the chic clothes. Fleece, lined with fleece, over fleece is always a good look.

S R Wood said...

Being snowed in sounds great. Forced coziness! Though I guess it does tend to throw a wrench in travel plans.

This from Virginia, where once again we are "escaping" winter weather with blue sky and cool breezes. My vision of winter weather involves thundersnow, ice hurricanes, and icebergs floating down our local river. And since I can't get winter to make an appearance here ... guess where my characters are going to end up. An icy wasteland! Complete with glittering stars shining on wind-hardened ice, tracks crunching in the snow, and maybe a cabin in the woods with one window showing a rosy glow.

Your mention of Zoroastrianism reminded me of something horrible and fascinating I saw in Mumbai, where many things are horrible and fascinating. I was in a car and passed a green and steep hillside, vultures wheeling far above the worn steps. The Parsee Tower of Silence, the driver said. Where they put their dead. Foreigners not allowed.

Do Parsees practice modern-day Zoroastrianism? To my shame I have no idea, but I can still see that verdant slope and the vultures. Amazing.

Enjoy the weather and happy birthday!


Laini Taylor said...

Oh Elise, goats! Do you have to bring them into the house with you :-) ?

Seth, first, I am very jealous you have been to India! And yes, the Parsees are Zoroastrians. They came to India from Persia hundreds of years ago fleeing Islamic persecution. I guess there's a big population in Mumbai. How cool that you saw a tower of silence! I'm not sure if this is right, but I believe that they do not bury or cremate because earth and fire are sacred and dead bodies would defile them.

I read some time ago that there's something freaky going on with the vulture population in India, with tons of them dying inexplicably. I wonder if this has affected the towers of silence. I'm fascinated by vultures, and put in a reference to their creation in Blackbringer.

As for winter, I have memories of Virginia Beach winters from my childhood: snowdrifts so high we could tunnel under them from house to house. THAT was fun!

Elise Murphy said...

We made plans to bring baby-goat in if the big goats were being mean to her. They decided they liked her body heat enough to keep her with them. She's so adorable and like a cuddly little dog. Shhh, don't tell anyone, but I was kind of hoping we might have to share the house with her for a few days.

Michele Thornton said...

Let me just say that being stuck in the house WITH kids is considerably less productive than without. Considerably. Less.

Leroy? Too cute. My 19 year old cat is extremely peeved at not being able to go outside. She meows obscenities now..I can't prove it but I'm certain she is.

And goats in the house? That's a slippery slope my dear. What's next, the chickens?

Heather said...

Emergency Snowed In Boredom Reliever and Waistline Eraser:

2 cups mini marshmallows
1 package chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter (either kind)
1 tablespoon butter or margarine

Melt choco chips, p. butter and butter in the nuke for 1.5 minutes. Stir in marshmallows and pour into a buttered pan. Fridge it for a couple of hours or until cooled and set. Cut into tiny bite size pieces or just eat it out of the pan.

Ooooohhhhh yeaahhhhhhh.....

Laini Taylor said...

Heather: pure eeevil! Luckily, we don't have peanut butter OR marshmallows in the house! Hey, no marshmallows? But what about hot chocolate? Mphff!

Anonymous said...

Mwahhhh, I am gaining Xmas cookie pounds by the thousand sitting here with no shopping to burn it off. Hurry up and melt! But at least now I get to keep your birthday presents for myself.


Laini Taylor said...

Hey, no fair! Hands off my birthday presents! And we may not have a lot of Christmas cookies here, but tomorrow we WILL have an entire coconut cream pie!

Alexandra Saperstein said...

I have devised a very handy and very flexible fork that I can lower in through the chimney and eat the coconut pie from the roof, bite by bite, silent as a teensy flea nibbling away on a scrap of cheesy puffs. That is exactly what I am going to do after you guys fall asleep. Enjoy the final hours of thirtysixhood- I can hear the lightning bolt wrinkle breaking through the skin as I write this very message. Moisturize Fatty, moisturize!

Anonymous said...

Ugh! We've been stuck in the house for days. I have a little bit of cabin fever.

Happy Birthday, Laini! I'm sorry you're missing your crab feast, but a coconut cream pie isn't too shabby.

I hope you have a great (albeit snowbound) day!

Kim G. said...

Happy Birthday Laini! Do you like the present we ordered for you - a foot of snow for the whole city! We feel like someone dropped Oregon in the midwest without telling all of us! We were hoping to get to Saturday Market this week as well. If tri-met holds up, we might try it tomorrow. Take care and stay warm!

tone almhjell said...

Yes, happy birthday, dear! Hope the coconut pie was wonderful and that you got to eat at least half of it wearing your haute couture, which I love. Also hope you got the Christmas card - or is all service suspended because of the weather? Seems funny to me - to have everything shut down and nobody driving anywhere because of snow. As a kid, I was always jealous of your school breaks on snow days, though. I once tried to persuade our teachers that it was a smart thing to do here as well, but nooo. Nobody ever listens to me.

Have a great day, and you too Jim, and you too Leroy, especially now that you have proper toilet service :)

Deirdre said...

I wouldn't have a clue what to do in snowy weather, but curling up with stacks of books sounds like a good start.

Your snowed-in apparel looks very much like my rainy-day apparel - comfortable and layered and colorful. Unless I'm making jam, them I throw on an apron and really comfy shoes as well. Mmm, attractive.

Unknown said...

I'm a little late, but Happy Birthday! I hope it was a good one in spite of everything. My mother's birthday is December 22 also!

I felt the same way about the Cybils the two years I was on the committee. It was fascinating to see how much the books selected depend on the people selecting and the politics between them. I think that there is (usually) no such thing as five best books, there are just five (hopefully excellent) books that a small group of people choose as being the best that they can agree or compromise on at that moment in time. Good luck to you and the other panelists, and I can't wait to see what books you select as finalists!