Memes, Memes, Everywhere, Memes

It got tapped for two memes this week, one by Rose of The Hungry Rose and one by Rokh of Thiam Jak. Sunday being what we used to call in the newsroom, “a slow news day,” I figured I’d write them both up and kill two memes with one bird, or a post in hand is worth two in the meme, or something like that. (I have a friend, Erika, who is infamous for messing up aphorisms. She once said, “Don’t cross your horse before the bridge,” which was pretty funny, but not as funny as “That’s the cow that broke the camel’s back.” I guess I was just channelling her there for a moment….)

First up, Rose twanged me with The Too Much Information Meme, wherein I am to give 10 random bits of information most people do not know about me.

I promise that I will be gentle.

1. I am a folklorist.

If there is a second great passion in my life besides food, it is old stories. Mythology, folklore, fairy tales, fables and tall tales are bread and butter for my imagination. History is a tertiary interest–and my favorite thing about history is a fabric of “truths” woven of threads spun from stories. I find stories endlessly fascinating, and love to listen to them, read them, tell them and write them.

Which is probably why, every time I present a recipe in this blog, there is a story attached to it.

2. I used to cowrite a reasonably well-received online comic that dealt with themes of Buddhism, UFO’s, the nature of reality, breakfast cereals, and the mythology of Coyote.

The title of the comic is Journey to the West, which yes, is taken from a famous Chinese novel of the same name. Zak did the art, and both of us did the writing. I am proud that some of the funnier one-liners are mine.

Check out the archives, and read up on the adventures of our intrepid characters, Jack Crazyquilt, Spookyfox, Max, Briar and Sifu.

Someday, we may even go back to telling their tales.

3. I have had several pieces of fiction published, but still have not finished my novels.

Novels are hard, but short stories are harder. As readers of this blog have likely figured out, I am not good at writing in a short format. Therefore, most of my short stories are longer than short. But they are pretty good, if I say so myself.

4. I am a science fiction and fantasy literature fan.

I guess that should have become obvious once readers got through the first three random facts about me that I am a great lover of science fiction. Not only that, but I am geeky about it. Not so geeky that I dress up like Mrs. Spock and look like an utter dork (at least not anymore), but I will sit and discuss the merits of this author versus that one, and how I love the writing style of one, but cannot stand his characters and find his plots to be utter drivel.

I also will geek out over SF on television–my first love was Star Trek the original series. That was supplanted a few years ago by Babylon 5, which nearly was edged out of first place by Firefly. (Yes, oh, yes, I am a Browncoat. Shiny.) The new BBC version of Doctor Who with Christopher Eccleston as the new Dr. got me back into the TARDIS (For those who don’t pirate it from bit torrent, it will be showing on the SciFi channel starting in March!), and I am mostly liking the new Battlestar Galactica, though it is ponderously depressing.

5. I used to not really like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

That is a big admission for a geek girl to make. But, I have to admit–I found it to be plodding, dull, boring and with no real characterization to speak of. Sure, some of the writing was beautiful, and the poetry and songs, languages and cultures were detailed and perfectly realized, but geez–could we have a realistic, non-misogynistic female character. Don’t give me that Eowyn crap–she went off to get herself killed because she was mooning over Aragorn and he rejected her for his good little seamstress Elf woman back home.

The reason I like the books now is all Peter Jackson’s fault. Well, he, Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens. They made the female characters (and all of the characters, actually) realistic and worthwhile, and told the story in a way that I could care about it.

So, here I am admitting that I loved the movies, and the books–not so much.

6. I read really fast.

I can read a novel in a day, if it is a good one of average size. I can read nonfiction almost that fast, especially if it is interesting.

7. I sing.

I sing really well, and used to sing in choirs all the time. I’ve never been in a band, though I have been recorded a few times. Nothing exciting, mind you, but it was fun.) I generally am classified as a mezzo soprano, but I have a wide vocal range and can sing from first tenor to soprano. When I was pregnant with Morganna, but range widened at both ends–I could sing baritone to first soprano. It was pretty cool.

Now I just sing for myself and if other people ask me to.

I am still aiming to learn to play piano after all these years, but between writing, editing, cooking and soon, teaching, I haven’t gotten around to it.

8. I used to hate math and was convinced I was horrible at it, but when I was in culinary school, I tutored other students in algebra.

This weirdo fact is probably because I am moderately dyslexic (ah, I am sure some of my strange typos become understandable now.)and I am just not good at learning math in a vaccum. I had no trouble with math once I got into chemistry in high school and college–if it has a function that I understand, then it is easier for me to remember the steps to each operation and be able to perform them. If not–well, then I don’t remember them.

9. I like wine well enough, but I don’t really get “into” it.

I don’t get the big deal about wine. Sure, I like some of it–and I tend to have expensive tastes in it (but not always), but I don’t get all the fussiness and the gibberty jabber that goes along with it. Oh, that, and I prefer the taste of good Shao Hsing wine to good sherry.

Besides, wine makes my rosacea act up (it makes my face flush pink, which is bad–because it will then threaten to become permanent.)

10. Finally! I am running out of secrets! I used to decorate eggs.

Boy, is that random or what? I am not talking about just Easter eggs here, either. No, when I was a kid and a young adult, I used to blow the contents out of eggshells and then decorate these fragile items to look like jewels or jewel boxes or what have you. Every now and then, I will get the urge to do it again, but I haven’t succumbed to the urge. When I get that way, I usually do a painting instead. Oh, yeah–I paint, too. Not as often as I should or I would like, but I do paint. And I am learning quilting. I used to do beaded jewelry all the time.

Okay, Rokh at Tham Jiak tapped me with “The Things I Carry” meme, which is where I talk about what I take from my kitchen to other people’s kitchens when I am going to cook. Then, I am supposed to name the person whose kitchen I would most like to hijack to cook in.

I feel pretty funny answering this, because I used to be a personal chef, which meant, I carried a portable version of my kitchen with me, and I have a lot of experience cooking in other people’s houses.

At this point, I can cook anywhere, anytime, with as little or as much equipment as is available, because I have managed to stir fry while camping, in the rain, and I have cooked over open fires, in professional kitchens, and in every sort of home kitchen imaginable.

That said–when I go off to a friend or my parents’ kitchen there are things I carry:

My knives. I have the chef thing of being very attached to my knives. Besides, I love my Mom, but she keeps her knives so dull, I am terrified that I am going to cut off a finger every time I use them. (She is terrified of how sharp my knives are. And she hasn’t even seen the new Shun Elite yet. Oh well.)

A wok, with its utensils. I also am very attached to my carbon steel and cast iron woks. It is just a thing. I love them, I have to have them. I don’t like anyone else’s, but if I must, I will use them. I just won’t be overly happy with it.

Depending on what I am making, my Sumeet grinder. Yes–if I am making Indian, Mexican or Thai–the Sumeet must come with, no ifs ands or buts. Thankfully it is reasonably small and portable.

Ingredients often come with me. Chiles, spices and herbs, predominately, though sometimes soy sauces, fish sauce, and sesame oil. It depends on what I am cooking.

Wine. I don’t drink it, but I sure do cook with it. So I take some with me and leave it–that way when I come back to cook again, it is usually still there.

A good cutting board. Do you know how many people use those damnable glass cutting boards? Those things are hell on knives. They should be outlawed. So I take wood, bamboo or the soft, heavy plastic kind.

As for whose kitchen I would love to hijack–that is a hard one. I mean, if it is any kitchen ever–it would be the one in the chef’s house in “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman.” (I adore that movie.) But that is an awesome kitchen in an awesome house. Ang Lee’s eye is just perfect.

If it has to be real kitchen–I like the kitchens in both of my in-laws’ houses. They are well-appointed and designed. One is huge, one is small, but they are both great and I have cooked really amazing feasts in both of them.

I’m not tapping anyone for the memes–because I know a lot of bloggers dislike memes. So, instead–if you haven’t been tapped and are just itching to do these memes, then, consider yourself plonked by Barbara’s Magic Meme Twanger and meme away on your blog!


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  1. I’ve been meaning to ask: is your Sumeet grinder 110 voltage or 220? Last time we were in India, they were sorely tempting, but the voltage was the deciding factor there.

    Comment by V — January 22, 2006 #

  2. thanks barbara for taking up the challenge. meme can be kinda time consuming but it was fun, especially reading bout your random facts and also your thoughts on your beloved kitchen stuff.

    Comment by rokh — January 22, 2006 #

  3. Interesting 10 facts about you barbara. thanks for doing it!

    I have not yet read Journey to the West (the chinese novel), but your comic series sounds really interesting. I will have to check it out.

    I’m quite attached to my knives because all my friends have such dull blades too. The Shun Elite looks so BEAUTIFUL!

    You’ve mentioned the Summet grinder before and I even looked at their website, but I was wondering how easy/difficult it is to clean afterwards. That is always the problem I find with grinders–the cleanup is a pain.

    I am envious you can read fast–that would make grad school so much easier for me.

    Do you have any pics of your eggs to show us? I’ve seen very fancy ones (jewel encrusted) at galleries, but never one homemade.

    Comment by Rose — January 22, 2006 #

  4. V–It is 120v.

    Thanks, rokh!

    Rose–cleaning the Sumeet is a piece of cake. It has two pieces–pop them off the motor, which you can wipe off if it gets smutz on it, and then rinse them out and pop them in the top rack of the dishwasher. It is the easiest electric appliance I have ever owned to clean.

    I am with you–I often eschew electrical appliances because by the time you clean them, you could have done it all faster with a knife anyway. The Sumeet is the exception to that rule–it is simple to clean.

    It is wonderful.

    As for the eggs–no. I have photos of my paintings, but the eggs were done in childhood and early adulthood and I gave them all away. Some yet live, but many, being so fragile, were destroyed in various moves.

    But, if you want, I can post pictures of my paintings sometime.

    Comment by Barbara — January 24, 2006 #

  5. Are you sure it’s not disnumeric?

    Or discalculia (a fancier name for the same thing)

    For many years I thought I was stupid because I can’t learn the multiplication tables or add and subtract without using my fingers but in actual fact I have a rote memory problem.

    Apparently, reading really fast is a side skill, having to do with shape perception as opposed to numeric ability.

    Comment by wwjudith — January 25, 2006 #

  6. In truth, Judith, I may have dysnomia in addition to a small bit of dyslexia. I do know that I have dyslexia (and it has gotten worse over the years) because I have problems with left and right, and things like tying shoes took me forever to learn. I have hideous problems learning things like knitting, and even things like martial arts, because of that left-right thing. I am very slow with those–and I am extremely dominant in my right hand.

    But yeah–the dyslexia takes odd forms with me–left right issues, inability to read a clock face easily, and inability to remember spelling in my head, or to spell out loud. But if I write it down, I know if it is right or wrong–most of the time.

    With age, however, I have noticed that the dyslexia has gotten much, much worse.

    But you are right–the worst form of it comes with numbers. I have problems memorizing strings of numbers–phone numbers are a bane, for example. I have problems with equations and remembering how they go together. But–if I can do applied math–so long as I have a place to write it all down and don’t have to do it in my head, I am fine.

    Comment by Barbara — January 25, 2006 #

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