Monday, July 4, 2016

July 4th and Cream Tea

Happy 4th of July to all of us snot-nosed American brats who thumbed their nose at Britain and decided to make this beautiful mess we call a country. For as flawed as so many things are, they're still better than the situations other people in my situation have in their home country, so I'm going to celebrate.

I think what I may be doing, however, is sacrilegious.

My friend is absolutely in love with afternoon tea. Most specifically, cream tea. She goes to a local place called Mozarts for tea once in a blue moon and told me their scones with clotted cream are absolutely to die for. As a fundraiser for Marcon, we did a cream tea at The Soldiery. I offered to make two bite scones and clotted cream with strawberry preserves. One of our staffers is an employee at Zen Cha and served four different teas. My favorite was Earl Grey, no surprise there. It paired very well with my dish.

The moment everyone put the first bite of the scones and clotted cream with strawberry preserves, there was a brief pause before a very delighted "Mmmm" passed their lips around the mouthful. I have never seen anyone savour something as much as those tea participants. Two bite scones became eight bite scones. Everyone asked for seconds, but I had only made enough clotted cream for 10 people.

So, to celebrate Independence Day while I silently curse the dark and the fire hazards it brings with it, I will be having a late cream tea. Want the recipe? I'll share.

The first item takes the longest. Not necessarily for active watch time, but for the longest cook and cool time. The recipe I found calls for a quart of clotted cream, but for a group of four of us, a pint is plenty. The clotted cream should be used sparingly as it's incredibly rich with a nice, light nutty flavor.

On a double boiler over medium heat, add the heavy cream. Slowly bring the temperature up to 180-200 degrees. Hold the temperature at 190ish for 45 minutes to an hour. Once it's finished its time, place the pan and all in the fridge overnight.

The next morning you can skim off the yellow skin on the top and layer in a bowl. That's your clotted cream. You can use the remaining cream in cooking recipes. It's now, essentially low fat.

I made my preserves next so they had a chance to cool. The recipe is dead simple.

1 quart strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 cups sugar
The juice from 1 lemon (2-3 T)
The zest from 1 lemon

Add all ingredients to a pot. Mash strawberries with a potato masher until all ingredients are mixed. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer until the juice is thickened. Put in a jar. Can be refrigerated or frozen. Also makes awesome ice cream topping. It's pretty tart, so you can leave out a little of the lemon juice and zest if you'd like. At least 2 T of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of zest is necessary. Feel free to experiment. This is just the recipe my great-great grandmother used.

For the scones, I cheat and use Bisquick baking mix.

3 cups Bisquick
5 Tablespoons sugar
2 T butter (or use coconut oil for a delicious vegan alternative)
2/3 c fat free half and half (or use almond milk for vegan)
1 egg (or use a tablespoon of moist chia seeds for vegan)
1 T half and half (or coconut oil sweetened with honey for vegan)

Using the heavy cream from the clotted cream, you can mix one to one with skim milk to make half and half for the recipe, which is what I did for the non-vegan variety.

Heat oven to 400.
Mix dry ingredients together until moistened. Drop by 1/4 cupfuls onto cookie sheet. Place in freezer 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, beat egg yolk and 1 tablespoon half and half. Brush over scones. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.
Bake 12 minutes until golden. Move to cooling rack. Serve warm.

Cut open the scone, cover with a small amount of clotted cream, then a small amount of preserves. Serve with strong tea.

It's delicious. I promise.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Publishing Woes

I genuinely believe every author who has ever written a book, even those who have not yet been published, believes their work is complete and utter tripe. We worry that the descriptions aren't descriptive enough. The sex scenes, if any, aren't sexy enough.

We overuse words. We pour through the manuscript until our eyes figuratively bleed looking for every little problem. We spend literal hours fussing over our babies.

Then we send them off to someone else so they can give us their opinion. At best, an acceptance. At worst, rejection. And then there's the "revise and resubmit" which seems like, basically, someone saying "read my mind to give me what I want out of this story". You mange that, you're in. You don't? Rejection.

Rejection sucks. Hard. And without someone giving us feedback and telling us exactly what they want or are looking for or what they found wrong with what we did, we can't hope to improve.

All I can say is thank gods for my crit group. Not only are they there to tell me when something is complete shit, they're also there to give me support and tell me I've got this. I can write the thing. I can do the thing. I'm talented. I just have to work at things X,Y and Z to be better.

I am still writing now that my work life and personal life have settled into a routine. I can find those few precious moments to write and still have time to play the games I love, hook up a video game for awhile and go shopping with the girlfriend. I also have to do grocery shopping, clean the house, make sure we have meals prepared during the week and all that other fun adulting shit.

Today is a me day. I finished the manuscript, made the corrections necessary and now I'm waiting to hear back. I'm honestly nervous because I put so much work into this piece. I changed it so it's not even the same story it was before. Now I just have to wait for someone else's opinion.

Spotify on. Grill is sprayed down so I can clean it. We're grilling out tonight. I'm going to spend time in our little 9 foot pool with water that doesn't even come up to my knees. And I'm going to kick up Persona 4 and fall into that for awhile.

Then it's back to the writing grindstone. I want to write that novel I talked about a year or more ago with my Circlet editor. It's not going to write itself.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Thoughts for Orlando

The last two days have been a roller coaster ride. While I do not believe I have anyone personally involved in the shooting, it gives me pause for many reasons.

Such as:

I do not know what this is like, but I can imagine how hellish it could be. I remember waiting to see friend's names on the roster after Katrina. Some of the people I spoke to online have never come back on but weren't on the list of the dead. I can't even imagine.

I read a post on Facebook about the rescue workers and police who had to go inside the building where the victims still lie and ignore the ringing of the phones of the dead as they went berserk from family and friends trying desperately to contact them. I know what it's like to be one of those people worried about a friend's safety and not being able to reach them. I can't imagine what it would be like if I was calling and they were already gone. Waiting to read a list of victims and praying not to find a name.

I am privileged. I am a white female. I don't have to worry about being killed for being in "the wrong bathroom". I identify as queer but because I am able to present one gender, I am not harassed for it. I'm not hounded. I'm not threatened. I might earn the occasional dyke comment when I dress male for the day, but most people ignore me. I am a lesbian, but I don't really introduce myself that way all the time. I let people believe what makes them comfortable unless they ask me outright. Then I am truthful. If it doesn't come up, I generally don't bring it up.

I also grew up in a small town with people whose minds were permanently closed. If you were a Mexican, you were lazy. If you were black, you were a thug. If you were anything other than a white Christian, you might as well paint a bullseye on your back. I was not open. I was not out. I was not anything as far as anyone knew. I would never have had the courage to come out if I hadn't been presented the opportunity in Columbus.

When I was in high school, the entire football team beat a boy up in the parking lot because he wore eyeliner to prom and that apparently made him gay. I wrote an opinion piece saying it didn't matter that he had because it wasn't hurting anybody. It was never published in the school paper. I printed copies and hung them on the walls. My rights to use the copier were revoked. The copies were removed. I was given three consecutive detentions, making me miss a show choir performance. I had to sit in the classroom listening to someone badmouth my childhood friend because she was walking out of the school with the eyeliner boy and his friend (who was also a friend of mine). We had all gone to school together for five years at this point. They knew those kids. And yet they still treated them shamefully. My attempts to silence the bullying earned me punishment.

I have not, to this day, stopped fighting to make things right. But it seems like a completely horrible losing battle. It seems as though I am never going to make the world a better place. The whole thing is against me and the people I love.

That being said, there is still the grand opportunity for violence like Pulse to happen here. Everyone knew where Wall Street club was before it closed. They know where Axis is, and it's a queer hangout. Anyone with an axe to grind against someone who isn't white, straight and cisgender can go in there and wipe out an entire population of people in one fail swoop.

We make light of it. We say the straight people should stop making gay children. Obviously gay people aren't reproducing. But the straight folks are so afraid of things they don't understand that they resort to violence.

Yes, yes, not all straight people. But even though I'm not attacked physically for being a lesbian, I'm faced with comments that are against gay people all the time in my day to day life. When I speak out, they backpedal. But that doesn't change their mind. They just talk to someone else about how I overreacted to the situation. "It's not like I was saying SHE was that way, just MOST lesbians."

No, the generalizations hurt us all. Every one of us. Just because you know one lesbian who isn't the stereotype doesn't mean that all other lesbians ARE. Just because you have a gay coworker doesn't make you any more accepting of the gay community. If it doesn't bother your friend, that's because they're okay with it. Not everyone will be. What sets one person off will be a joke to another. And that's okay. But when someone tells you they aren't comfortable with it and you do it anyway? That's when there's a problem.

I voiced the opinion that people are terrified of having transgender people in the bathroom with them when this guy was a straight cisgender male. I was then involved in a debate about what qualifies as men.

A transgender person does not have to pass YOUR assertions of their gender to use the fucking bathroom. They don't owe you shit. You have no right to police them.

Wearing a skirt does not make someone a pedophile who is going to rape your 10 year old daughter. Stop lumping transgender people in with pedophiles. They are not pedophiles. They are mentally deranged people. Transgender people are NOT sexual deviants. Period.

It is none of your goddamned business what is in another person's pants or skirt. Period.

And if you're really worried about perverts getting into the bathroom with your children, it's not like you can put up a sign that says "perverts get out" and expect them to listen to it. If a person is going to harm your child, they are going to subvert the laws to do so. No law is going to keep them from doing it. Pedophilia is illegal in most states. Bathroom laws do not exist except in South Carolina. There's no Doctor Scott to sit on his finger and guess your sex. There's no Gandalf standing outside the bathroom yelling "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!"

For fuck's sake. If someone comes in, uses the bathroom and leaves, why the FUCK are you so concerned about it? It's the people that linger in the bathroom that concern me. The people who peer into the stalls or let their kids crawl under the stall doors while I'm using the bathroom that bother me. I like a little bit of privacy while I go, thanks. That's just creepy.

I would stake money that the people who raise these "I don't want 40 year old men in a skirt" arguments don't know a transperson. They probably don't know anyone who is queer. They live in a bubble.

I wish I had a giant pin. But then we get more Pulse shootings.

We wonder why people are suicidal. Why the suicide rates of LGBT youth is so high. Take a look! We are telling them that the way they are is up for society to debate and deliberate. They don't want to be strip searched every time you turn around. They don't want people telling them they're ugly and going to hell. They don't want to be scrutinized. They just want to love and be loved. And why can't we give them that.

But there are people who care. There are a few people who will stand with you. And I am one of them. Find me on Twitter. @deaubreydigest Come talk to me on Discord. I'm Lockefox. I even have my own room. I'm in the Transspeak Discord room. You can PM me from there. Find me on Skype. If you are alone, we are there. We know it sucks. We must stay strong.

You are loved. We are here for you.

We will get through this. I love you all so very much.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Marcon Game Night

I will be at the Marcon Game Night fundraiser to support Marcon 2016. Admission is five dollars and gets you entry to one tourney. Other tournaments are $5 a piece going on all night. We will also be doing game demos and instruction. I'll most likely be at the Marcon pre-reg table, the food booth or manning the bake sale while I do chair massages for a dollar a minute. We will also have food for a small donation. I will have my eggless banana bread for sale and some friendship bread as well as my homemade chocolate body butter.

Saturday January 30th beginning at 10pm

If you would like to attend, please see the event page:

We are being very graciously hosted by the Soldiery at 4256 North High Street in Columbus. We will have a raffle for awesome handmade prizes. There will be various tournaments all night. They have posted a tentative schedule but, as is with anything scheduled, it is not set in stone.

1030: Pathfinder
1030: Magic the Gathering Tournament (EDH)
1100: Learn to play Euchre
          Learn to play Tanto Cuore
Midnight: what is Marcon (Panel to meet staff)
100: Euchre Tourney
200: Tanto Cuore Tourney
        Arkham Horror
300: Learn to Play Barbarossa
400: Magic the Gathering Tourney No Holds Barred
500: Flux
600: Super Fight
        Tentacle Bento
700: Magic the Gathering Prebuilt Tourney

Even if you are not interested in playing games, you can still donate. Come hang out and watch people play. Drop off your donation at any time at the Soldiery during business hours or during the gameathon. The funds raised will be used to pay for guest of honor travel, prize support and a great gaming experience at Marcon. We are a non-profit organization. This convention does not, can not, and will not happen without the tireless efforts of volunteer staff and the generousity of the public. PLEASE come out and game with us!

Never really gets easier

Story time since it's on my mind and I wanted to share and ask a little extra patience.  May 20th. Mary and I are at a local garden shop...