Monday, October 12, 2009

Cultural Enrichment

It turns out that I am not delusional in feeling like fall skipped us. According to the weekend weather guy, the average high temperature for this time of year is around 80. We've been hitting around 55. I actually kind of like it, though I do like the more typical fall weather, which we should have back by next weekend.

I got my cultural horizons all broadened over the weekend while discovering some cool stuff not too far from me. There was an Armenian festival at the Armenian church in the town just east of me, but when we got there, they didn't seem to be in full swing, so we headed to the old town square, where they were having a Native American festival. There were crafts, food, music and dancing, plus, we explored the square. This is an old small town that's grown up into a large "inner ring" suburb, and this square is a remnant of the old days that the town has mostly moved away from (the old "downtown" is actually on the outskirts of town now). It's kind of like something out of a movie, complete with gazebo in the middle of the square. They have a tea shop (that even does afternoon teas!), lots of antique shops, a quilting shop, a vintage clothing shop, a candy shop and an old-fashioned soda fountain/burger joint. The old movie theater has been renovated into a performing arts venue, with the seats taken out and the floor turned into a dance floor, and it turns out that they have ballroom dances there every so often. So, now I know a lot of places to go just a few miles from my house.

We finally made it to the Armenian festival so we could continue the Comparative Baklava project -- most of the festivals from that general part of the world seem to have some variation on baklava/baklawa, so we're testing them all to compare/contrast. From what we can tell (and I'm sure each family has their own recipes, so these may not be representative of the entire culture), the Greek version uses a lot more honey and is sweeter. The Lebanese version is dryer and less sweet, with more cardamom, and the Armenian version seems to fall in the middle. They use a sugar syrup instead of honey, it's less sticky than the Greek version, and I think it was a little spicier. All of them are yummy.

I got my agent's feedback on the summer project, so now I have to shift mental gears and do some revisions on that, temporarily tabling the current project. It's a massive shift to make, and I thought digging up the "soundtrack" for that book would help, but it turns out I use a lot of the same songs, just in a different order and different context, so it may take a few listens in this order to get back to what those songs mean for me in this book. This won't be a massive re-write, just a layering of some stuff, but that means I have to think it all through first. This afternoon will likely involve a pot of tea and a spiral notebook.

I think my "vacation" will come when I'm done with these rewrites, and then the "current" project will become my National Novel Writing Month project, though it won't officially count, as I've written more than 100 pages of it already.

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