Entries in Dancing with myself (32)


LP and the Seven-Legged Meme of Death

The sweet and multi-talented Candace tagged me for the "Seven Things About Me" meme. She's gearing up for the Storymakers' Boot Camp in March (she and Tristi are in charge); her tagging me is clearly the equivalent of making me drop and give her twenty push-ups.

Have you read Centipost? Eight is Enough? Ten More, Really? Or any other post with the "Dancing With Myself" tag? Then, loyal reader, you already know it all.

But maybe not. All right, Candace, I'll give it a go:

1. When I was at BYU and managing the Backstage Café, I went out once with one of the waiters, who happened to be a gun enthusiast. We went up Provo Canyon and did some impromptu target shooting (aluminum cans) in the moonlight. The guns I remember using were an AK-47 and some James Bond-looking pistol. Both kicked quite hard. If any of my kids ever pulled such a stupid stunt, I'd be tempted to lock him/her in a closet for many months.

2. I get many of my most interesting (to me, at least) writing ideas from my dreams. Last night, for example, we saw I Am Legend (which I loved, but do not recommend for the faint of heart). I then dreamt about vampires all night and woke up itching to write down every fascinating detail.

3. The correct plural form of "Perkins" is "Perkinses." For example, if you wanted to brag (or complain) about coming to my house for dinner, you would write, "I'm going to the Perkinses' house for fondue tomorrow night." (Of course you are all invited.)

4. The kids and I use Eco-Dent tooth powder instead of toothpaste. The cinnamon flavor is the best, though the mint and lemon-lime are also popular choices. Eco-Dent is unfortunately not paying me for this endorsement.

5. One snack I love is canned fruit cocktail packed in 100% juice. Yummy: I think I'll go get some right now.

6. I think it's going to take me at least another year to knit down my stash. I made great progress in 2007, but I still have a Rubbermaid tub full of yarn to be used. So many projects; so little time....

7. I'm expecting our sixth child. S/he is due on or around June 15th. We're all very excited, and so far, this has been my easiest pregnancy ever. How's that for some news? Thanks, Candace, for providing an easy format for our announcement.

Since almost no one responded to my last meme tag, I'm not going to tag anyone this time. But if you would like to do this meme yourself, consider yourself "it" and go for it. I'm also officially declaring myself meme-immune for the next six weeks; it will take me at least that long to accumulate more randomness.


Ten More?  Really?

Josi, author of the great suspense novel Sheep's Clothing, has tagged me for the 10 Random Facts meme. I think memes are great fun, but in preparation for answering this one, I had to go back and scan all of my previous meme posts (tagged "Dancing with Myself," in case you were wondering), because I've done a few of these in the year I've been blogging regularly, and I hate the thought of repeating myself. After reading them over, I'm convinced that any regular reader of this blog knows just about everything there is to know about me. But let's try to scrape the bottom of the barrel and see what we find:

1. In my opinion, bell peppers besmirch, befoul, and generally ruin anything and everything they touch.

2. Geniuses I admire include Alice Waters, Rhonda Vincent, and Abu-Rayhan al Biruni.

3. I've committed to reading The Bible in 90 days as of January 2nd along with Pezmama (who explains the program beautifully in this post) and some other fine people. Let me know if you'd like to join us; there's room in the group at the moment.

4. I like the thermostat in my car to read either '68,' '70,' or '72.' Odd numbers in digital temperature readouts (except for numbers ending in '5') really bug me.

5. I'm a big fan of the Harvard comma.

6. I can't wait to see I Am Legend. And not just for Will Smith's much-touted pull-up scene, either (though I won't be averting my eyes).

7. I don't like extra virgin olive oil; I find its strong taste overpowering most of the time. I prefer regular olive oil. Or butter.

8. Half-finished books in a pile beside my bed include James Dashner's The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters; Kelly Link's Magic for Beginners; Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook; Fred Hoyle's October the First is Too Late; Kim Stanley Robinson's Sixty Days and Counting; and Angela Carter's The Magic Toyshop. I plan to finish all of these by the end of the year.

9. There are other half-finished books in my pile, but one I know I won't be finishing this year is Remembrance of Things Past. I do plan to finish re-reading it eventually, and maybe someday even updating my poor, neglected second blog, Tea and Madeleines. But that will have to wait until after the 25th.

10. This is the first year I've been successful at keeping a list of all the books I've read. I've tried this for many years, but I usually start forgetting to write them down by about March. I've read 59 as of today; if I finish the six listed above, I'll be up to 65. My goal for the year was 80. Oh, well; maybe next year.

Now I must tag 10 of you. Shall we go with Alice, Torie, Mary, Goofball, Jon, Kim, Brillig, Anjmae, Jenna, and Catherine? Do let's.


Asked and Answered

Back in November, Jen at A2eatwrite was interviewed, then offered to pay forward the favor to any of her readers. Since Jen and I have this hopefully long-term mutual adoration thing going on, I immediately volunteered myself, promising that I would answer her interview questions after November was over. She immediately came up with some good ones for me; here they are, along with my responses.

1. You seem like a very self-disciplined person: how do you fit your writing into your daily life?

Oh, Jen. So sorry to disappoint, but the sad fact is that I am as lazy as the day is long. A self-disciplined person wouldn't have a desk, a perennial border, and an ironing/sock-matching basket that look like mine.

As far as the writing goes, it's all about choices. I have come to terms with the fact that I can't do everything I want to do; I only have time to do the things I want to do most. My 'mosts' can vary from day to day, but writing is nearly always at the top of the list (ironing, weeding, and de-cluttering are consistent low rankers).

I write in the mornings while Daniel is playing or in the early afternoons while he is napping. In a good week, I can write three or four hours per day, five days per week. But that doesn't always happen.

I write very well in the evenings, but those are usually devoted to Patrick and the kids instead. An exception to that is Tuesday nights, when Patrick takes the older kids to the church for youth activity night. Once the two little kids are in bed at 7:00 p.m., I have three whole hours to myself to blaze away on my laptop. Tuesday nights are usually very productive for me.

2. When you have free time with your family, what do you all like to do? (Other than heat the whole neighborhood?)

We do excel at heating and cooling the whole neighborhood. But we make our own fun in lots of other ways, too. We love to put on loud music and dance around the house, lip syncing and playing air guitar all the while. We read aloud. We play games like Carcassonne and The Great Dalmuti.

All this year, we've sat down together as a family once a week and worked our way through the original Star Trek series on DVD; hopefully Santa has something else in mind for us this year, because we are almost through the lot, and this has been a lot of fun. We also like to take walks in the Greenbelt behind our house, along Foundry Creek to the Civil War Foundry archaeological dig, then on beyond to Constitution Marsh. We love going to the City together, but we don't do it nearly often enough.

Before, during, and/or after nearly all these activities, we strive to uphold the Perkins Family Motto, which is "Perkinses eat a lot." Cooking and eating are two of our favorite pastimes.

3. Who is the biggest influence on you as a writer and who is the biggest influence on you as a cook?

As a writer, I count two great authors as my biggest influences: Louisa May Alcott and Madeleine L'Engle. Alcott's writing experiences, as fictionalized in her character Jo, have been inspiring me since I first read Little Women when I was about eight. I read Jo's publishing adventures over and over and thought, "That is what I want to do."

I had the great privilege of meeting Madeleine L'Engle twice, hearing her speak at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine once, and seeing her around our mutual Manhattan neighborhood countless times before we left the City and she left this mortal realm. What a great woman. She completely belied the stereotype of the tortured artist; she found her life supremely fulfilling, and her joy in it was infectious. I love her fiction, but it is her book Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art I re-read most often.

As a cook, I have had two huge influences: my Grandma Ybright and Julia Child. My grandmother taught me that the time and energy put into cooking from scratch were an expression of love and gratitude. She also taught me to savor the joys of fresh, high-quality ingredients cooked and served simply. When anyone complimented her cooking, she would scoff good-naturedly, "Anyone who can read can cook."

When Patrick and I got married, my mom gave us a copy of Julia Child's The Way to Cook; it is the most-used cookbook on my shelf nearly 18 years later. Julia took what Grandma taught me (haste makes waste; keep it simple; butter and cream make everything better) and extended it to a whole new level.

4. What is the part of your religious life that you love the most?

Such a good question, Jen; I spent a lot of time pondering it. I love most having the sure knowledge that God is mindful of all His many children, that He has a great plan for my life and yours, and that all my experiences-- painful, tedious, or wonderful--work together for my good. This knowledge brings me peace in my darkest moments of doubt or despair. Just this morning, the family and I read one of my favorite passages of scripture, Hebrews chapter 11. Verses 13-16 read:

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Ah, my poor kids. It's so embarrassing for them that those verses make me cry every time. Even typing them gets me more than a little choked up; they express so beautifully how I feel about my faith.

Thanks, Jen! If any of you other blogging folk would like me to come up with four interview questions for you, let me know; I'd be happy to pass on the love.


To Snog, Perchance to Dream*

Veronica Mitchell at Toddled Dredge is a genius. In hilarious post she tossed off recently, she came up with a brilliant idea for a meme. I quote her:

Ten Literary Characters I Would Totally Make Out With If I Were Single and They Were Real But I’m Not, Single I Mean, I Am Real, But I’m Also Happily Married and Want to Stay That Way So Maybe We Should Forget This

Some of her adoring fans, including yours truly, begged her to create it. She relented and promptly tagged us all to participate; the responses so far have been fabulous.

Patrick’s out of town for the next few days; what better way to console myself in his absence than to wax poetical over literary flames who have warmed my heart in the past? That—and a little Frigor, plus maybe another viewing of The Scarlet Pimpernel—and I’m almost fine. I’ll list my literary crushes in chronological order.

1. Will Scarlet was my first literary love (Ned Nickerson never really did it for me, and I probably would have had a crush on Almanzo if I hadn’t been distracted by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s fabulous descriptions of food). I have an ancient copy of Philip Schuyler Allen’s Robin Hood that I read over and over again when I was nine. I pictured myself as one of Maid Marian’s junior attendants, running around the woods and having archery competitions with the handsome, tempestuous Will.

2. Rhett Butler: I read Gone With the Wind three times the summer I was ten; I’ve probably read it at least another fifteen times since then. “Oh, Rhett, Rhett,” I’d practice sighing in my idea of a cultured Georgia accent when I was sure no one was around.

He was kissing her now and his mustache tickled her mouth, kissing her with slow, hot lips that were so leisurely as though he had the whole night before him. Charles had never kissed her like this. Never had the kisses of the Tarleton and Calvert boys made her go hot and cold and shaky like this. He bent her body backward and his lips traveled down her throat to where the cameo fastened her basque. “Sweet,” he whispered. “Sweet.”

Holy cow. I can’t believe I was reading that when I was ten.

3. Éomer from The Lord of the Rings came next. I knew I couldn’t compete with the eternally beautiful Arwen, so Aragorn was right out. Faramir is awesome, but he’s clearly the man for Éowyn. Éomer, however, is completely unattached. (Oh, I know he eventually marries Lothíriel. Give me a break.) He’s a manly Marshal with fabulous, long blond hair who knows how to handle horses; he commands. I felt vindicated in my love for him when Karl Urban played him in the movie version of The Two Towers. Good grief: he is out of control.

4. When I was twelve, I was blown away by Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series (not the lame, tame version that has been edited and reissued for kids). Chief among its attractions (the fabulous telepathic dragons aside) was the amber-eyed, haughty F’lar, leader of the dragonriders.

5. In Eighth Grade Honors English, we read Much Ado About Nothing, then went and saw the play at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre. Benedick had me at “I will do myself the right to trust none; and the fine is, for the which I may go the finer, I will live a bachelor.” Oh, the challenge…again, validation of this crush came when Brian Stokes Mitchell recently played Benedick in Kiss Me, Kate on Broadway.

6. Captain Wentworth: Of course I adore Mr. Darcy. But sometimes I go for the less obvious guy; the reserved hero of Jane Austen’s Persuasion is just the ticket. I know he rightly belongs to Anne. It’s just that I, like the Musgrove girls, have “a little fever of admiration” for him (especially as realized by Ciarán Hinds in the 1995 movie).

7. Including Chris McIlroy of my own first novel Shannon’s Mirror is not an act of shameless self-promotion. It’s just that he is an aggregate of all my favorite teen-age boyfriends. Heaven knows they were attractive enough in real life. How much more their composite ideal?

8. Who cares whether Llewelyn ap Iorwerth happens to be one of my real-life ancestors? There are almost 1,000 years between us. In Sharon Kay Penman’s Here There Be Dragons, he fights hard to keep Wales unified in the face of John Lackland’s inroads; he’s unfailingly loyal to Richard the Lionhearted; and he completely forgives his wonderful wife Joanna a grievous hurt. Their makeup scene not only made me cry when I first read it, it gets me a little misty just writing about it now.

9. John Uskglass, a.k.a. The Raven King: He looks like Lord Byron, only better. He’s powerfully magical and oh, so mysterious. He rules all of Faerie. He’s one of the reasons why Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke, is one of my favorite books of all time.

10. Jake from New Moon and Eclipse: Can someone please explain to me why Bella is such a goner for a cold undead guy when there is a wolfishly hot, motorcycle-riding, live human right at her elbow? (Edward fans, that’s a rhetorical question.) The makeout scene between Jake and Bella in Eclipse is by far my favorite thing that the talented Stephenie Meyer has yet published.

* Hamlet didn't make the cut. Unless it's the Hamlet played by Ralph Fiennes on Broadway back in 1995. Get out of my way, Ophelia....

Other contenders were Heathcliff (except I’d be too scared of Cathy’s revenge); Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley; Diana Gabaldon’s Jamie Fraser; and of course, the incomparable Barney Snaith. But I wanted to leave some for those who are now tagged: Kymburlee! Annette! Jenna! Julie! Josi! Avery! Heffalump! Dapoppins! You're up, gals! Anyone else want to play? Please, by all means! Just come back and tell me so that I can come be entertained by your answers.


Eight is Enough

I was the winner of a crafty little meme quiz put together by the inestimable Radioactive Jam; my prize was being tagged. Hurray! RaJ knows how much I love memes. This one requires that I inform you of Eight Random Things About Me.

Hmm…this is harder than it sounds, since I’ve been writing this blog for about a year, regularly dispensing random information about me all the while. It seems I may have reached the bottom of the randomness barrel. Scraping, scraping….

1. I want to go on a trip to Antarctica for my 50th birthday. I’ve got a little over nine years to plan and save up for it. Hopefully it will still be there.

2. I don’t like candy corn.

3. Here’s how I rank the various James Bonds, best to worst: Sean Connery, Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton. The first three really are neck and neck.

4. I think my leftover pasta sauce tastes great served over cottage cheese. In fact, that’s what I’m having for lunch today.

5. The first opera I ever saw was Puccini's La Fanciulla del West.

6. I love to snorkel. But I’m not sure I ever want to learn to scuba dive.

7. I’d rather be a forest than a street.

8. When I was in third grade, I was Carden School’s Spelling Bee Champion. The winning word was ‘lightening.’ The eighth grader who came in second was unaware that ‘lightning’ has a homophone. It’s all about the usage.

Whom shall I tag? How about new bloggy pals James Dashner, Piper, Alice, and Mary? Will you play?