Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving: Let the Chaos Begin

I never fully appreciated my mom until I had to put on my own Thanksgiving dinner. And I think the people who ate my first five or six Thanksgiving dinners would REALLY appreciate mom. (But, luckily, these feasts are held in other countries where the people have NO idea that what I cook is pretty abominable compared to Mom -- the magician of Thanksgiving with innumerable side dishes.)

That said, I'm waxing nostalgic about all the years of botched Thanksgivings, burned and lost turkeys (yes lost, under a spare tire, in fact) and more. This is my mishmash list of Thanksgiving Memories I prepared (since I have time today before my house looks like it exploded). (Yes. It takes me about four days of organization and pre-cooking to get a meal on the table. I think Amelia's fondest childhood memories of my cooking will be "take out.")

  • Buying live turkeys in "la Galeria" -- open market -- in Pereira. Holding them up by their feet and thinking they were pretty heavy. Do you realize how much feathers make a bird look plump? Very non-runway attire.
  • Realizing that you can't cook a turkey in a pizza oven -- no matter how hard you try to smoosh it down.
  • Looking for a lost turkey, only to find that it slipped under a spare tire and had a nice black tire-mark across the top. (Gravy does not cover up tire marks)
  • Smoking ovens when I realized that 350 degrees celcius is WAY too hot. (Damn conversions)
  • Spending seventy dollars for three anorexic turkeys. (Yep. Turkey is really expensive abroad).
  • Searching for ingredients in every language possible only to find the ones I need don't exist in some places. So I do "creative replacements".
  • Watching Cesar take a bite of turkey after seven botched Thanksgivings and saying, "Wow. this is good. Like. I really want to eat it this year." Me: "Really??"
    (That was an exciting day! I think our guests, though, felt a little bit like guinea pigs after they realized that my usual Thanksgiving feast was pretty crappy.)
  • Years of laughter and forgiveness (you have to be forgiving to survive one of my dinners and remain my friend).
  • Lots of leftovers. (Proud to say not many leftovers anymore. I've improved. Really.)
  • Cesar's family always looking forward to our annual Thanksgiving and his aunt thinking my pumpkin pie is great. (It's not bad. It's just not ... pumpkin pie. Just a little weird-tasting is all).
  • Learning that family isn't only "family" but those you love. My parents taught me that Thanksgiving is a time to share happiness, love, life, tears ... family. And living abroad, friends become family.
So now that I see it's getting to be too much of a "Chicken Soup" kind of post (with all do respect Mr. Canfield), I'll leave you with wishes for a wonderful salmonella-free Thanksgiving. (That's what I always cross my fingers for.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Best Author Visit questions EVER ...

This year my author visits were with Kindergarteners, second and third graders, who, in my opinion, had some of the best questions and comments ever!

1. Did you write your book in pencil or are you allowed to use a pen?
2. Do you have lots of pictures in the book?

I asked how long they thought it took me to write the book:
Student A: Ummm, like ten hours.
Student B: No way. At least two weeks.
Me: About three and a half years. So I started when you were still wearing diapers and finished when you were in first grade.
Students. Whoaaaaaaaa ... (whispers -- she's really slow.)

3. Do you read your book after you're done?

I talked about revision and making corrections and how my editor had pages and pages of notes on how I needed to make my book better.
Student A: Oh. Did you forget your capitals and periods?
Student B: I bet you missed a lot of spelling words.

4. How did you draw the picture on the front?
5. Do you really like your job?

And my favorite ...

6. How did you get the pages in the book? (Comments afterward included: Geez. If she had to put her book together in the garage she'd never get done.)

Thank you Fritsch School for welcoming me and making me smile. Thank you for your amazing attention to detail.
PLUS, I loved the hugs. (High Schoolers and Middle Schoolers usually don't hug me.)