I first ate this salad for breakfast in central Bhutan, where it was served heaped on a huge bowl of fried rice – a fine farmer’s breakfast.
Aum Tashi Wangmo, our host, had pulled the ingredients from her garden shortly after dawn. She chopped and sliced the vegetables, wielding a vast knife and chopping board as she perched awkwardly on a tiny stool in the middle of the kitchen floor. Crumbling a handful of homemade cheese on top, she slid it onto the dining table, where we promptly demolished it, pestering her for the recipe between mouthfuls.
Tashi Wangmo’s breakfast salad is called Goen Hogay (“cucumber salad”) in Dzongkha. Because Bhutanese farm cheese is a friable feta-like cheese, and because the other major ingredients are cucumber, tomato and onion, the salad bears more than a passing resemblance to a Greek salad. What lifts the Bhutanese version apart from its European…
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I haven’t exactly been blessed with the looks of a model, so no-one was more surprised than me to receive an offer to be photographed for a fashion catalogue. In fact, my first reaction may have been a snort.
But it all makes sense when you find out that the invitation came from Gudrun Sjoden. They regularly photograph their clothes on models who are “non-industry standard” — older, more characterful or larger than most brands would touch with a bargepole. (Makes perfect sense to me: their clothes are made for all ages and spread across a massive range of sizes, so why not reflect customers’ own looks?)
In this case, the shoot was to feature ‘friends of Gudrun’: bloggers, artists, novelists and other creative types. I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with some events in Gudrun’s London store, and that’s what put me on the early plane to…
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Earlier this week, Chuck Wendig posted a piece on his blog – I Smell Your Rookie Moves, New Writers – which, as the title suggests, is a takedown of particular errors he feels newbie authors make. It’s been doing the rounds on my tumblr, Facebook and Twitter feeds, because quite a lot of people I follow seem to share his sentiments; but as often as I’ve agreed with Wendig’s rants in this past, this isn’t one of those times. In fact, my abiding reaction to the early sections in particular has been one of teeth-grinding fury.
Before we get started, let me make two things clear up front: firstly, that I have an inherent dislike of writing advice that lays down specific mandates regardless of where it comes from; and secondly, that I have enormous respect for Wendig himself as a writer. His prose is punchy, sharp and bruisingly beautiful…
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Sometimes, being a deaf writer presents a unique set of challenges that hearing writers might not be as concerned about. Some of these challenges might seem obvious, some of them less so. For example, dialogue can be something I struggle with – developing someone’s voice, the way they speak, without coming across as stilted or character voices being too similar. A less obvious issue would be whether or not to write stories with deaf characters. Is it necessary to always write characters that are deaf, or just happen to be? Does it immediately follow that I will need to learn how to convey a world-view that shows what someone can and can’t hear or understand?
Some of my fiction has been an attempt to write stories with deaf characters. Some of my experiments have been more successful than others – some have become too complicated, whilst I’ve recently finished a…
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This spring, my friend Terri grew Monarch butterflies. Like most of us, she’s concerned that it’s our human footprint mucking up the planet and not, contrary to what some believe, God or Zeus or Mothra exacting their revenge on us for sport. In the past few decades, the Monarch population has suffered an alarming and steep decline from 1 billion in the mid-1990s to only 35 million in 2014. It doesn’t take a math genius like Stephen Hawking to tell you that this is not good with a side of very bad. Or to put it another way: there’s a profound disturbance in the Force, Luke.
The world depends on harmony, not balance. Harmony is all the disparate elements co-mingling and working together in their own funky ways to create some kind of whole. Harmony is peanut butter and chocolate smashed together to make something delicious. There was a time…
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This morning, moments after I woke up, Kellie greeted me by saying, “It’s all over.”
“Huh?” I said, rubbing my eyes and starting the kettle.
“Our cabin,” she said, and explained that Aeneas Valley was evacuated overnight. Our cabin currently sits between two rapidly growing fires.
Just last weekend we had traveled there with a weed whacker in the back of the truck because the fire season was well under way, because it was already a bad one, because we were overdue for our annual fire abatement—and also, because we love it there.
We left on a Friday morning, the same morning that lightning had started dozens of small fires. Some of the fires had grown into big ones. As we drove through Chelan, the air grew increasingly thick with smoke. The parking lot of the elementary school was filled with fire trucks and mobilizing crews…
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The Athabaskan people who lived near the mountain called it Denali, which meant ‘the high one.’ It’s a pretty name for a mountain. I like it. Another local tribe, the Dina’ena, called it Doleika, which meant ‘big mountain,’ which is less poetic but still pretty accurate. It really is a big mountain.
The Russians moved into the neighborhood in 1783; they called the mountain Bolshaya Gora, which also means ‘big mountain.’ They didn’t really change the name; they just said it in Russian, which is appropriate. But the Russians left in 1867, and I suspect folks in the area just continued to refer to it the ‘big mountain’ in whatever language they happened to have handy at the moment. Because it really IS a big mountain.
Then in the late 1880s, the white folks in the region decided to call it Densmore’s Peak, after Frank Densmore — a gold…
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Going back to the dark days in my latest for Broadly.
According to therapist-cum-speaker Dr. Julie Gurner, “A responsible psychologist will always make a referral if the client continues to need treatment elsewhere, but it is ultimately the client’s responsibility to follow through with that referral. An exception to the client taking responsibility for follow through might be if they are feeling unsafe (suicidal) or are compromised in some other way.”
Two years ago, on a hot New York Summer’s day, still drunk from the night before, I walked into my shrink’s office and told him I needed to quit drinking and wanted to kill myself. I’m not sure if it was as cohesively articulated as that, but rather a rambling about how high a sixth floor walk-up apartment is, various uses of a cleaver, and that Lenny Kravitz had jumped out of the audience to play drums…
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