Mary Anne Mohanraj

Journal

January 30 -- 8:48 AM

Last bloom of the white amaryllis -- this fabulous plant gave me six huge flowers, starting early December. For future winters, I think I'm going to concentrate on paperwhites and South African amaryllises, the ones that bloom by Christmas.

My Dutch ones are still growing green, but haven't opened yet, and by February, I'm mostly looking ahead to spring, wanting to plant little forced bulb gardens (I have a hyacinth scenting the powder room now) and place tall forced flowering branches in vases (some early forsythia are on my dining table now). I am an impatient gardener.

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January 29 -- 7:20 PM

I got some stressful news today, and I promptly went out and bought myself potato chips, new sneakers (on 70% off clearance), and a dress and necklace (50% off). None of this was an enormous splurge or anything, but under normal circumstances I wouldn't have eaten the chips or bought the clothes. I just -- felt bad, and wanted some comfort. It did help.

But all of that reminded me once again that I am very lucky a) that this kind of impulsive purchase only puts a strain on our budget and doesn't break it, and b) that I don't live under intense stress all the time.

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January 29 -- 9:45 AM

I'd gotten a little behind on adding stories to my website (as they came out of exclusion periods with the print magazines / anthologies). Oops. Starting to catch up now -- here's "Sanctuary," which was published in George R.R. Martin's Wild Cards series. It was published in Fort Freak, as part of a mosaic novel, but I think it makes reasonable sense as a stand-alone story. There's a sequel, "Ties that Bind," that's just come out in the newly-published Lowball.

"Kavitha eased her way out of her daughter's room, closing the door quietly behind her. It had taken longer than usual to get her toddler down; Isai had insisted on telling her a long, incomprehensible story about Daddy and dragons. When Michael got home from the station, Kavitha would have to ask him if he'd said something to Isai. In Jokertown, it was entirely plausible that Michael had encountered real dragons in the course of his detective duties -- or at least something close enough to pass for real. He was going to have to stop reading his daughter police reports; Isai was getting old enough to understand them. And even though the child appeared to be fearless, some of the things Michael dealt with on a day-to-day basis terrified even Kavitha; Isai didn't need to hear all the gritty details of Daddy's job. Not yet. Isai might be an ace, with fearsome shapeshifting abilities, but she was also only two-and-a-half years old. Michael was just going to have to learn how to make stories up. Appropriate stories.

Kavitha was startled out of her newfound determination by a knocking on the door. Not loud, but somehow frantic. Who in the world…? They didn't get a lot of visitors. Kavitha took a few quick steps down the hall to the apartment door, and peered through the little circle of glass. Her eyes widened as she took in the brown-skinned woman on the other side of the door, her face covered in blood and darkening bruises, her arm bent at an angle that was just wrong. Kavitha hesitated a moment, mindful of the child sleeping in the other room -- but this woman was small and soft and broken. Kavitha couldn't just leave her standing in the hallway. It wasn't as if Kavitha weren't able to defend Isai, if the need arose -- in theory, anyway. Michael kept urging her to practice using her powers as a weapon, but she hated weapons. Ironic, considering her boyfriend carried one every day…."

Read the rest!

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January 27 -- 9:50 PM

Someone asked me recently if the Fitbit actually gets me to walk more. Yes, definitely. Today was a good example -- aside from walking Anand to preschool, I basically sat at my computer all day. Very productive work-wise, but by 8:30 p.m., I hadn't even done 6000 steps. (In a normal day, I hit 10K just wandering around, and 12-13K if I make any effort.) The little Fitbit graph was very dispiriting -- a bit of a spike at preschool time, and then basically flat all day. Boo.

So I groaned a little, and then went down and walked on the treadmill (while watching Bomb Girls) for forty-five minutes. Now my Fitbit is much happier with me, at a little over 10K, there's a nice spike on the end of the graph, and I feel better in my body too.

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January 27 -- 6:45 PM

Am I the only person who only enjoys making sugar cookies if I break it into three separate days? Granted, I make a double batch when I do it, but still -- it just feels arduous unless I break it up into pieces.

Day 1: Make cookie dough and refrigerate (20 minutes (add 5-10 more if you let your seven-year-old do all the steps)).

Day 2: Cut out dough, re-roll leftovers, cut more (20 minutes), refrigerate at least an hour, bake (40 minutes), so 2 hours, start to finish.

Day 3: Let kids decorate a few cookies with icing in a can + sprinkles and eat one each, while you make Alton Brown's royal icing (20 minutes). Shoo them out of the kitchen and then finish obsessively icing the rest of the cookies in peace (2-3 hrs).

Hmm...I think I may see where some of the slow-downs in my process are coming from...and the funny thing is, I don't even like cookies. :-) But oddly, I find this process weirdly compelling. And as sugar cookies go, these are pretty yummy. Mine are not as finely decorated as hers!

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