Much has happened since last I blogged…

full_allthesnakehandlers

Isn’t this Scott Bakal image incredible?  My good fortune is that it accompanies my story, “All The Snake Handlers I Know Are Dead” at Tor.com.  It appeared on July 31st, but I was deep in the throes of a computer crash and a glacially slow Carbonite restore that’s had me on a forced vacation since returning from Maine.  Better late than never.  I recently visited the home that inspired this story and had a wonderful time in spite of continual driving rain.

My experience as a resident at Norton Island exceeded my wildest expectations.  What a wonderful place, what wonderful people.  I finished a story and completed a draft of another while there.  I almost lost it all in the computer crash, but fortunately I’d saved that work on a thumb drive as I was leaving the island.  My computer was completely dead when I woke it from sleep the day after I returned.  A humbling experience.

I start teaching on Thursday, an Advanced Fiction Writing class at VCU, and I’m looking forward to it.  Meanwhile I’m trying to reconnect to the e-world and sort out what I’ve lost.  If I’ve neglected anyone out there, it’s only because I lost my laptop, and I was adrift without my virtual life.  Somebody should write a novel about this.

 

Readercon

I will be at Readercon, one of my favorite conventions, starting this Thursday. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and discovering new writers. I read Thursday evening at nine from a forthcoming (July 31st) short story on tor.com, “All the Snake Handlers I Know Are Dead.” I’m also on a couple of panels, one about the wonderful fiction of Maureen McHugh, who is also the guest of honor; and another about the reexamination of the Civil War mythos, largely in the clutches of the Lost Cause folks since the war, in fantastic literature. I’ve done a bit of that. Most recently in “Christmas in Hollywood Cemetery” in the anthology Remapping Richmond’s Hallowed Ground. After Readercon I’m off to Norton Island off the coast of Maine for a couple of weeks of intensive writing. I have more publication news I can’t reveal yet.  Life is very good indeed.

3 Haiku for Creation

3 Haiku for Creation

 

God wakes, looks around,

Makes everything he sees

But can’t see himself.

 

Man wakes, makes a sound,

Names everything he sees,

Calls the mirror, God.

 

Woman never sleeps:

She builds the fire, throws the pot,

Cooks the dawn inside.

 

 

Ravencon

I’ll be at Ravencon this weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, on a variety of panels about everything from Downton Abbey to sf art films. It’s a small, friendly, affordable con. The Guests of Honor this year are Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. If you come, say hello. I’m the skinny bald guy with the white beard.

Easter Poem

Easter Was Hard

 

Easter was hard for my young mind to grasp.

Chocolate bunnies laying eggs, Mom hunched

Over the dining room table blowing

The insides from raw ones Dad whipped into

a froth, scrambled, and we boys then devoured.

Watched Mom clear the table, paint the hollow

Shells with delicate brushes until they

Took your breath away. While Jesus suffered,

Died, a horrible, heartbreaking story,

But wait! That was Good News somehow because

God meant to kill his Son for us and Sin.

He didn’t really die.  You won’t either.

The virgins wore hats like flowering shrubs.

I got a new jacket, too big and white.

 

—Easter, 2013

Grace Under Pressure: A Vegan Single-Pot meal.

Grace Under Pressure:  A Vegan Single-Pot meal.

Soak 1 pound dry beans 8 hours or so, any kind of beans—chickpeas, pintos, black, red, cranberry, great northern, navy, etc.  Rinse and put in pressure cooker.  I use a 4-Qt. stainless steel Presto.  If you love beans, a pressure cooker will save hours of your cooking life.

Add a 15 oz. can of cooked diced tomatoes, juice included.  I use no-salt organic Muir Glen.  You may use Rotel or similar or add your own diced peppers.  I use a lot of jalapeños and roasted red peppers.

Add three cups liquid.  This can be water, broth, a mix of water with some soymilk or coffee or fruit juice or whatever suits your beans and spices and imagination.  A little low-sodium tamari, liquid smoke, your favorite hot sauce.

Add spices.  Go ahead.  Stir them in.  You can use chili powders, curry powders, etc.  2+ tablespoons to taste.  You’ll have the chance to adjust the spices.

Add crushed cloves of garlic, lemon zest, fresh ginger, etc.

Chop up 12-16 ounces of greens—spinach, collard, kale—or use a bag of frozen (no thawing necessary).  Pack the chopped greens on top of the bean and liquid mixture.

Peel and cut an onion (I prefer red, but any kind is fine) and cut it into eighths, so that you make onion “shingles” to lay over the top of everything.  The arrangement is important because it keeps anything from flying up and blocking the vents on the pressure cooker.

Bring to pressure and allow to cook for 18 minutes, and let pressure fall of its own accord.

When you open the pressure cooker, adjust liquid and spices, cooking a little to allow to thicken.  Serve with brown rice or quinoa or by itself.

If the beans aren’t cooked after 18 minutes, close it up and cook a few more minutes.  Time and liquid amounts can vary with equipment and beans, etc.

It’s even better the second day.  Divine on the third.

Mr. Cheese at Dusk

Mr. Cheese at Dusk

I couldn’t give up cheese, my neighbor says,
When I tell him what I eat since I almost died.
Mr. Cheese, leaning on the lamp post, laughs
To hear this now familiar refrain.
He follows me around just to hear it.
It makes his day, such heartfelt devotion,
Clearly evidenced by my neighbor’s waist.

Cheese always wins. My students, in stories
Can find places they’ve never been before—
Inside themselves, an undiscovered crossroads—
And then… they hitch a ride with Mr. Cheese
For a car chase (goes without saying, right?)
A vampire, a serial killer, both.
The whole fucking thing’s like just a dream, right?
How cool is that? Cheese asks, laughing so hard
He can’t stop. No one can stop Mr. Cheese.

Down the street we see three deliverers,
Blinkers flashing, carrying Cheese in their arms,
Swaddled to keep him warm. Come baby, come,
Come let’s adore him, baked into a pie.
Mr. Cheese, he stick with you till you die.