Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November tea and a book: The Signature of All Things

I first saw The Signature of All Things recommended at the blog of Stephanie Burgis, and knowing how much Steph and I have in common when it comes to fiction preferences, I figured it would be just my cup of tea. Prior to this, I'd never read a book by Elizabeth Gilbert, who (as you probably know) shot to fame with her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love. I became a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert the person, however, when I saw her Ted Talk on creative genius. And when I learned that the heroine of this novel is a botanist in the Victorian era, I was eager to dive in.

What an odyssey! All I wanted to do all day was read Alma's story, which is not to say I found the book perfect, but it certainly was wildly absorbing and thought-provoking. (And since I tend to recommend children's books on this blog, I want to be sure you know this is an adult story, probably suitable for older teens and up.)

If you'd like a little more context, please watch this three minute book trailer. I love it particularly because Gilbert admits to searching out an actual house in Philadelphia to be White Acre (the grand house where Alma Whittaker grows up), because she likes to "go out and roll around in the world" she's inventing. I certainly can identify with that!

And now for tea . . .

This month I chose the Almond Oolong from Adagio. I don't drink Oolong that often, but I wanted to feature something a little different, and its delicacy and fruity/nutty flavor paired nicely with a sweet treat.

That red blob, a frosted sugar cookie, is supposed to look like an autumnal maple leaf, but oh well! My tummy was pleased. You can find the recipe here. And be sure to use almond and vanilla extract in your frosting. :)

To conclude, I'll link you to this List of Thanksgiving novels from psychologytoday.com. I attempted The Ghost at the Table (too dreary) and finished A Patchwork Planet (nice). Would you second any of the other recommendations on the list? If so, please let me know!

Happy Thanksgiving!

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Con fun -- The Walking Dead edition

This past weekend I attended Wizard World Tulsa Comic Con with Tara Hudson. We went for Norman Reedus (Daryl from The Walking Dead) but got so much more than we bargained for!

First, some context -- I can't handle the big cons anymore. I get too panicked, claustrophobic, and angry. But since this one was entirely contained within the Cox Convention Center, I hoped it would be more manageable. As it turned out, the Tulsa Comic Con far exceeded my expectations.

Our first adventure was the photo op with Norman Reedus. The wait wasn't too long, and once he arrived they moved people through pretty quickly. Clearly, I was delighted to meet him! (I just WISH I'd thought to put on my sunglasses and mug at the camera along with him.) Later we stood in line for his signature for a loooong time, but I couldn't really begrudge the wait because he was taking great pains to shake hands and chat with each person who came through. I was pleasantly surprised by his patience and consideration. (Random aside: when looking for a Tulsa Comic Con graphic I found this photo -- how adorable is that?)

Shane is one of my favorites from TWD -- I do have a soft spot for the bad boys -- so I was pleased to discover that Jon Bernthal, who often seems to play dark/devious/tormented characters, is very charming and easygoing in real life.

Michael Rooker (Merle in TWD, Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy, etc.) was a hoot. Very friendly and chatty. Sweet with little kids and, um . . . fiesty with the ladies!

[Another random aside: in the above photo you can see my orthopedic boot. I fell back in September -- was in a hurry, not paying attention, and the toe of my wedge heel got caught in a clump of grass. Down went Sonia! Anyway, I was sure it was a sprain. When it didn't seem to be getting better, I got an x-ray at Urgent Care. No fracture. But the pain just kept plaguing me. So I got an MRI and they found a nondisplaced fracture along with bruising and a sprained ligament. Hence the boot. It was a challenge to get around the con, but Tara was very patient with me, and all the guests kindly asked about it. Tara and I decided that next year we should each have some sort of injury AND carry a baby/toddler dressed in a hand-sewn costume. Then we'd get ALL THE ATTENTION. Heh.]

One of my favorite moments was meeting Scott Wilson (Hershel). He's just as warm and fatherly in real life as on the show. He gave each of us a hug and after the photo he reminded me how to properly use my crutch. (He should know, right?)

We capped off the day with a visit to rising star Jerry Bennett, who gives so much to Oklahoma SCBWI and is an amazing artist. He even gets quoted in this NPR feature about the con. Yay!

We only attended on Sunday -- not the craziest day, I'm sure -- but things still got pretty busy. The staff, however, were patient and cheerful, the attendees polite, and the guests exceptionally gracious. It was Tara's first con, and I think she had a blast. We're definitely on board for next year!

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]