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Deb Geisler
debgeisler
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In 1990, the World Science Fiction Convention was in Den Haag (The Hague), Netherlands, and a lot of my friends (and Mike and I) didn't go to it. International travel was more difficult (I'd never been outside of North America, then, nor did I have a passport yet) and took a larger wodge of our financial resources. Our friend Leslie Turek had been nominated for a Hugo Award that year (which she won...yay, Leslie!), and our friends the Olsons decided we needed to have a party during the Hugo Ceremony to cheer Leslie on, since she couldn't go either.

There was, of course, no streaming of the ceremony. No Instagram. No Facebook. No World Wide Web. Some of us were on the NSFNet or Bitnet, but most people today would not recognized those, with their text-only interfaces. And there were no portables to take into the Ceremony for blogging. Instead, we had to wait for a phone call from Leslie's acceptor (I don't remember who). So the best thing to do was nibble on Dutch food whilst we waited. It was tastier and more nutritious than fingernails.

My aunt, Margaret [Shannon] Snoeren, married a Dutch man (you might be able to tell that from the last name) she met while serving in the Peace Corps in Nigeria in the 1960s. Marge is a pretty great cook, and she developed a collection of Dutch recipes over the years. So, when Priscilla Olson said the theme was "Dutch/Indonesian Rijsttafel (Rice Table)," in honor of the first Dutch Worldcon, I called Aunt Marge.

The recipe she gave me that day was a major hit. Moreover, it is a recipe Mike and I have made dozens of times, because we love it. (Thank you, Aunt Marge!!!) This is an Indonesian-styled Satay recipe, probably as modified by the Indonesian immigrants in the Netherlands. The marinade is important for the meat (which is beef or pork), and the peanut sauce that accompanies it is the best, most interesting variant I've ever had. It is zippy and not, as so many are from the Thai or other traditions, overly sweet. We *do* serve it with a Thai cucumber "sauce" or salad, because we love the stuff. Sometimes, we make it as a main course for ourselves, add the cucumber salad, make up some rice, and call it supper. Yum.

Marge’s Indonesian Dutch Satay with PindasausCollapse )

Since we cook sometimes for a soup kitchen, we cook for them like we cook for ourselves or our friends: same food; same ingredients. We've made a lot of interesting dishes for them in the past, and Mike suggested we do this for our contribution this Saturday.

"We'll have to make enough for us to save some out for ourselves," I said, after drooling while re-reading the recipe.

"Of course we will," said Mike.

We'll probably triple or quadruple the recipes. :-)

Not long ago, I had an epiphany of sorts, while trying to understand grief and how I continue to feel about my mother's death. The epiphany was an awareness that the childhood me...no longer existed. She was gone and dead, just as Mom was gone. There was no one else left who remembered me from day to day as I grew up. My siblings remember snapshots, but they are also all younger than I am. My aunts remember snippets, but those are even more few and far between.

It's hard, this giving up of self. Each time we lose someone, we lose the shared memories that no one else was privy to. The closer they were, the more private moments...and the more they remember us from a different perspective than anyone else.

I wonder, then, if my grieving is for Mom (who, after all, was ready to go and honestly at peace) or, in a very selfish way, it is for the me of yesteryear.

Today, I stumbled on this quote, never having read the work, and this hit me all over again:

“The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we'd done were less real and important than they had been hours before.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
Yeah. That, too. There is no looking at Mom and saying "Do you remember?" So the memory itself is a feather, easily blown away.

When I want to feel better (and am I lying to myself in saying this?), it is to ponder that my remembering means Mom still exists...the Mom of my childhood, "Deb's Mom," is not really gone.

Eleven years ago, we started a count-down to the World Science Fiction Convention in Boston. A week before the convention started, we were putting together displays, laughing, packing many, many boxes, laughing, eating take-out together at the NESFA clubhouse, laughing...

It was exhausting, but rewarding. We were building something special for fandom, and our ego-boo was in seeing it all laid out and running. Not running perfectly...but hell, we didn't do this professionally, we had to do it on the cheap, we did it in our spare time. We wanted it to be perfect, but we settled for 90-95%, most of the time. That was damned good.

Today, there is a group of people who are starting their own week-long count-down to the World Science Fiction Convention. This one is in Spokane, Washington. Their convention has been fraught with difficulties. Many of their people are not laughing. They're not even grinning.

They are still trying to build something special for fandom. They're often not getting much satisfaction. In fact, some are sitting around right now, wishing they were somewhere else, dealing with something else. Perhaps at a villa in Tuscany...perhaps in Port-aux-Français (since that's as far away as one can get from the Spokane Convention Center and still be on land) in the Kerguelen Islands (also known as the Desolation Islands - you can get to the irony of that on your own).

Perhaps any Worldcon that lost its co-chair two weeks after winning the right to host the convention would be taxed. Certainly, it was a devastating blow. This Worldcon has also borne the brunt of attacks on fandom's prized Hugo Awards and, as a result, some of the most difficult and disruptive public scrutiny ever for the convention.

I'm not going to point fingers at anyone here. Not one person. I'm attending the convention and taking part in its program, but none of my sweat has gone into making this year's "fannish family reunion." (Yes, I'll listen when my friends need a shoulder...no, that's not the same thing as sweat equity.)

What I will say is this: If you are going to the convention, say something nice to the people you meet with a "committee" or "staff" or "volunteer/gopher" ribbon. You don't need to compliment them on things. Just say something nice. Or maybe something that will make them laugh. Or smile at them and say nothing at all. (This last works particularly well when you don't much like them.)

For those of us who have slogged this slog, sometimes a smile from someone is better than a paycheck. Hell, it *IS* the paycheck.

It began with Dad.Collapse )

I'm not going to completely duplicate this recipe here...instead, I'll just pop the link in here, and you can look at it at your leisure. The picture on that site of a sweetroll is about 17" across.

There are two filled (almond and apricot) in the oven right now.

Since I am not Italian (and my brother did not meet his wife Denise until he was a grownup...ish), these cookies were not a feature of my childhood. But I shared with my mother a love of licorice. She and I would do battle over the black jelly beans, and we both loved anise as a spice. While the cookie recipe below originally called for all vanilla, that made a wicked bland cookie. I've changed that up to lemon, almond, and anise in the past, and the anise works out the best.These are not Italian cookies of the sort my sister-in-law makes, so I post the recipe with no shame.Collapse )

*And Geisler-Benveniste, in this case...

This is the original "Chex Mix" recipe. It is not what you will find today, and we called it "Scrabble" growing up. Can't tell you, 57+ years on, if it was called "Scrabble" because of some joint marketing effort between Ralston Purina and Parker Brothers...or if it started as a snack mix created by someone else...or if the family just ate a lot of it whilst playing the eponymous game (and trying to beat my maternal grandfather, Lewis R. Shannon,* who used to include names of archaic farm implements and other things). We ate a lot of it, later, playing pinochle. Many, many games of pinochle. Here is additional background and the very yummy recipe.Collapse )

So, this is the recipe we ended up developing, based on what Mike wanted to craft. It is mighty fine...lightly smokey, a titch warm (but mild enough for most people), looser and soupier than our usual (but, again, I like it that way). Here"s the recipe. It"s easy to cut in half, as long as you don"t chop the pot in 2.Collapse )

In October of 1988, William C. Geisler, a 54-year-old Korean War naval veteran, manager at Sears, Roebuck and Company, father, grandfather, and husband, succumbed to Lou Gherig's Disease, or ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). He was my father, of course.

Dad did not live to see my wedding. He never met most of his grandchildren. The Internet didn't really exist when he was alive. There were no cell phones, nor iPods, nor...well, half of the tech in my car. When Dad took his last breath, Ronald Reagan was still the president of the United States, and the Soviet Union still existed.

When Dad found out he had ALS, the first thing he told us kids was, "It is almost never hereditary." He wanted us to know we didn't share his death sentence. My dad wasn't always the best person - lord knows he had his failings - but he didn't want us to face the sort of end he knew he would have. And he did have it. ALS is an ugly, brutal, horrifying end. It leaves the mind alive as it strips the body of strength, volition, and dignity.

How would my Dad feel about the ALS ice bucket challenge?

He'd laugh his ass off. He would crow that so many famous people are involved with this silliness so that they can draw attention to a killer people have ignored for too long. If he were still alive, he'd be right there with the ice brigade.

So, to those who say "it's all political," tough toenails. I mean, really, I do not care a whit what you say. If you haven't lost someone you love to ALS, your opinion about this absolutely does not matter to me.

Does every person "challenged" have to sit still and have ice water dumped on them? No. Am I absolutely delighted with the publicity this is all giving to ALS research and the amount of money being raised by the ALS Association? You bet your sweet bippy I am.

And bravo to all of the challengers, including former US President George W. Bush...and the lovely Laura Bush, of course.

According to the ALS Association, the ice bucket challenge has raised $31.5 million as of today. Excellent work.

Typical recipes for au gratin potato dishes involve heavy cream. I don't think this recipe (which uses bacon fat for the roux) is *less* caloric, but it is an interesting take on the average recipe. We like it very much...got the recipe first from the cookbook Favorite Brand Name Cookbook. This was not a cookbook I would have bought for myself, but we've gotten 3-4 really exemplary recipes out of this book, including this one. (We just ignore when it tells us to use specific brands of ingredients.)

Here"s the recipe.Collapse )

This is one of those meals that helps when the temperature is 45.9°F on 28 May. That would be why we made it tonight. :-)

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