July 23rd, 2010

wayfaring wordhack

Mother Nature, she is good to me

I'm not much of a wildcrafter, though I would love to be. I'm like the little child, always curious about the way things smell and taste, and Julien is forever telling me, "Don't put that in your mouth."  However, since getting pregnant, I'm much more careful what I consume, never you fear.  Still, even babe-in-the-woods me can identify with ease and surety the bounty that surrounds our home, from the wild asparagus and strawberries growing (well, that *were growing;* season is sadly at an end) just on the other side of our excuse for a yard, to the wild onions, cherries, and plums in the fields bordering the Loire.

Like the strawberries and asparagus, the season for onions and cherries is at an end. I picked the 1.2kgs of cherries in the photo below just the other day, but already I knew that it was too late. The fruits were drying, hardening around their stone hearts, and bees and flies were not happy to share the last of the bounty with me.  I do, however, have some of my juicier first pickings in the freezer and am anticipating a cherry pie or, if I want to make my husband happy, a clafoutis. The prunes are just starting, though, and I gleaned two kilos, which have been made into jam and canned whole* to enjoy later in a yoghurt or a fruit salad.

You might wonder what a photo of pizza is doing amongst my other finds. Well, the last of the wild onions found their way into those glorious seafood, spinach, and goat cheese creations, so I thought why not.

Jam is not the only thing I have been making. Someone very dear to my heart (*refrains from pointing fingers at her husband*) bought a canister (500g) of yeast that expires August 13. Of 2010. That is enough yeast to transform 100kg--yes, kilograms--into leavened goods. No way I can use all of that, but I made a start with whipping up a batch of whole wheat, grainy pizza dough (for the yumminess above). I also baked a loaf of bread yesterday. Does the season for baking ever transform into something else?

And speaking of seasons, soon I will be able to harvest blackberries, walnuts, hazelnuts and apples! Even milkweed pods if I'm adventurous and wildcrafty.** Bring it on, Mother Nature; I'm ready for you.

*This is an easy, delicious thing to do, which I learned from my mother-in-law:  Put your washed fruit into a canning jar along with a tablespoon of sugar (the fruit makes its own juice) and pop the jars into your pressure cooker. Steriilze for 10 minutes once the cooker has started whistling. Let the pressure fall off naturally. Cool the jars and check the seal.  Voila, nothing could be easier.

This is my first attempt. Pretty, huh?

I'll let you know how they taste once Julien comes home to try a batch with me.

** Has anyone on my flist ever eaten milkweed pods?
wayfaring wordhack

A Pronominal Conundrum of Colossal Proportions

I believe I already posted about this, say, oh, three years ago, but I can find no trace of it after scouring my tags. So, you get the dilemma presented to you again, with my apologies. But my flist has evolved in those three years and perhaps one of you out there might have new insight to give me.

So, as you clever people will have deduced by now, I have a problem.  I'm returning my attention to my ms To Be Undone, and I find myself wondering, yet again, how I can tackle the pronoun issue for my genderless beings, the Fravardin. I have a very good reason for not giving them a gender, but I won't go into here so as not to muddy the thinking waters.

I don't particularly feel drawn to the idea of using "it"* to describe the Fravardin. Imagine the gymnastics and ridiculous repetitions I would have to perform to keep from sounding like the serial killer in Silence of the Lambs: It puts the lotion on its skin.

Or a less tongue-in-cheek example from the WIP: The High Fravardin trailed its fingers over each mask, lingering on the curve of the girl’s cheek. It had carved and tinted it itself, working from the memory that, Ijad willing, would be expelled today.

Yes, for the second "it" I can use mask again, but let's face it, sometimes, in a novel-length work, it is going to be downright awkward to keep repeating either character names or avoiding using direct and indirect pronouns.

A solution I had come up with before was to copy a system I came across on the net, the Spivak pronouns. This did not receive an especially warm reception when I posted a few chapters to the OWW a while back.  I know that crits are hit or miss, anyhow, but would this avant-garde pronoun system make you put down a work? How about if the sections where the pronoun use is a bit heavier are extremely short?

Have you any alternatives to offer? I'd love hearing any advice and thoughts on the matter.
* I know Neil Gaiman uses "it" to decent effect in Neverwhere in regards to his angel Islington, but I have more beings than that and I'll have to use the pronoun system more frequently.