One of my many random quirks

It’s a new calendar year. Why not start a new thing on the blog?

For the next little while, I’ll feature tidbits of personal trivia I have been informed are not as well-known as I imagine them to be. It’s another topic to alternate with book posts, writing rants, media consumption lists, baking recipes, and so on.

My first not-so-major revelation: I am face blind.

Yes, yes, I know lots of people have trouble remembering names, many people are bad with faces, but…have you ever walked right past your parent or your spouse or your best friend of many years because you DID NOT SEE THEM out of context?

I have. Many times. That’s my level of “bad with faces.”

It doesn’t mean I’m people-blind.  I recognize people…mostly. Just not faces. Or voices.  It’s more that I deliberately construct conscious brain imprints of overall person-ness — how you move, speak, dress, etc. I can spot friends across crowded rooms, especially if I’ve made note of what they’re wearing.

But do I spot details like changes in hair color, eyeglasses, makeup, scars, tattoos or “identifying characteristics?” NOPE.  As a kid, I thought the ability to describe and remember other people like characters in books & on TV was a fictional power. And names? Pffft. The label for your gestalt may be stowed away in a totally different mental zone, because I have a WTF brain.

ANYway.

This means if you’re standing still, if I’m not looking for you–and especially if I haven’t seen you recently? My chances of knowing who you are or even SEEING you is 50/50 or worse. The longer it’s been since we last talked, the worse my chances are.

This makes conventions more than moderately terrifying.

Why? In large part because people tend to remember me for some reason. Good friends I see only at cons, wonderful people I met at conventions past–y’all spot me and make a point of saying hello, being the awesome, cool, kind, and wonderful people you are…

…and there I will stand, without the slightest clue who’s talking to me.

I am often forthright, even pre-emptive, about admitting I don’t know who someone is, but not always. Constant confession is emotionally exhausting and jabs a lot of big, red social-interaction buttons that trigger guilt dumps.

And whether I admit it or not, nothing will never erase the unhappy belief that people think I’m lying, that I’m a lazy jerk making excuses for not caring about them enough to remember them. It hurts to not be recognized by someone. I know this. 

I DO LIKE YOU. YOU’RE AWESOME! But I have faulty exterior-recognition software.

Guilty awkwardness is a burden on top of the already-huge stressiness of being at a con. (I love cons. TRULY. I love them. But it’s also true I love many things that aren’t strictly good for me…) 

ANYway.  Let me wrap up with this:

If you don’t see me often, there are a few ways to help avoid instilling quiet panic and deep-seated guilt in me when we meet. I don’t expect people to make the effort, but when it happens, I am FOREVER grateful.

The platinum standard: starts with “Hi, Karen (or Kem, or Kay, or Tigger, or Herkes, I answer to all these)  great to see you again.”

This demonstrates you know me. Then it’s decision tree time.

IF I respond with your name or a personal tidbit that makes it crystal clear I remember who you are, we’re good. My brain has coughed up your imprint in a timely fashion. Yay, brain.

If I DON’T use your name, could you please consider proceeding to something like this: “I’m <your name> we know each other from <place/time> and add something about our prior interaction?

By doing this you:

  • providing release from expectation damps down my guilty adrenaline rush. (adrenaline not being a friend of higher brain function)
  • Offering memory tags right off the mark helps me place you in context, which gets me to the proper brain space where your ID is stored.
  • The more you talk and move, the more data I have available to match to the gestalt of physical characteristics on file.

You can be as simple as, “It’s Felicity. From work? I’m in Accounting? We don’t see each other often.”  Or as complicated as “I’m Gwen. We were table neighbors at XYZCon, and it turned out we went to the same elementary school. We talked about meeting for dinner next con–how are you?”

But even if I appear to be entirely comfortable chatting, if I don’t respond with your name or personal deets, it’s likely I do NOT recognize you at the start of the conversation.

Talking comfortably at length with total strangers is a survival skill I mastered long before I knew face blindness was a thing, not a failure of effort on my part. If we talk long enough, I often…eventually…figure out what our relationship is.

It’s a huge relief when I don’t have to work that strategy or confess to cluelessness, though.

And yes, I do try to do this for others, on the rare occasions I am introducing myself to people I recognize.

Because I never expect anyone to recognize me.

Okay, that’s enough for now. Until later, world!

holiday tradition: introvert edition

Christmas & New Year’s at Chez Herkes are pretty simple: our house is an Introvert Haven on both the Eves and the Days.

How does that work? Well. Spouseman works on jigsaw puzzles or Legos or plays video games, I watch movies, play with the train set, put up ornaments (yes, I often wait until Christmas Eve to do the tree)  and putter around the kitchen when I’m not curled up on one of the bean bags with a new book to read or puttering with the book I’m writing at my desk.

AND we’re open to friends dropping by any time after 7PM on the Eves and after 1 PM on the Days.  (Always wise to inquire if we’re on a walk through the neighborhood to admire holiday lights or get fresh air, but other than those excursions, we’re IN.)

Nothing is going on, but company is welcome. That’s it.

There are non-traditional holiday movies on the television in one room all day & night (for several years we did a Bad Movie double feature on NYE, but it got awfully organized and was causing me unfun panic and so it was retired in favor of more Introverting In Company like we already did on Christmas.)

ANYway. There’s usually quiet music in the non-television room, and there are comfy chairs available for sitting with snacks and beverages pretty much everywhere because that’s how I roll. And of course there are foods and beverages for snacking. Because for me holidays mean food, and food is yummy.

Zero planned activities, zero zero formal socializing. Conversation and catching up are cool, just not…required. Quiet parallel play like reading, crafting, surfing the internet via phone or tablet, or watching television–that’s as close as things get to a theme.

The new house give us SO MUCH MOAR SPACE to stretch out! I can’t wait to holiday here.

Friends whose holiday travels bring them past our road less traveled on their way over the river and through the woods are welcome to drop by for a mug of cider (or a beer or wine or a cuppa hot tea) Settle in for awhile or just decompress for a the length of a nosh and a sip. Some years we have several drop-ins, many years it’s just Spouseman & me, but always, it’s simple, and nerdy.  (see below)

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Happy Hibernation season, everyone!

Just the facts this time: scones my way

My last baking adventure post wandered into a rantlet about scientific method, so for this one I’m sticking to Talking About The Recipe.

Here be my current “scone” recipe. It’s a blend of several scone & buttermilk biscuit recipes because that’s how I roll. PUN INTENDED. HA.

Before you begin:

  • preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • If you’re adding dried fruit, set 1 cup’s worth of fruit to soak in hot water.
  • Find your Really Big Bowl. Getting the dough to behave & fold into yummy layers is MUCH easier in a big bowl than on a counter. Plus then you don’t have to clear as much countertop to work on.

1. mix together in your Really Big Bowl (I use a whisk)

3 c flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2-1 tsp salt
*plus ONLY IF you’re doing a sweet scone: 1/4-1/2 c sugar

2. add in 1 super-cold stick of butter.

recommendations I ignore: cut the butter into small chunks & work into the flour mixture with your fingertips or fork or pastry cutter until it’s all in flour-coated teeny pieces. Being me, I often use soft butter (GASP) and I think the results still come out tasty not “tough,” but YMMV.

* also toss in 6-8 oz shredded cheese at the same time as the butter if you’re craving cheezy/savory scones.

3. add in 1 cup milk or cream or buttermilk or milk mixed w/unflavored yogurt, all the variations give slight differences in final flavor. The important thing is, add about 1 cup total liquid.

*if you’re making sweet fruit scones, drain most/all of the soaking liquid & add the fruit at the same time as the milk.

4. mix it all up in your Really Big Bowl with spoon and then hands until it comes together as a dough. It might be sticky, especially the fruit version if you left a lot of water in the fruit like I do when I don’t feel like being patient/thorough about draining it.

4.1 If it turns out especially pain-in-the-ass wet, at this point you can plop spoonfuls on a cookie sheet and make drop scones out of it.

4.2 Otherwise for shaped treats, keep pressing it all together with floured hands until it just barely holds together in a ball. Fold the shaggy lump of dough in half in the bowl, then gently flatten it out again. Do that three or four times total — the dough gets easier to work each time.

5. Squish out/roll the flattened dough until it’s about 1/2″ thick and cut into your preferred shapes. I like triangles because it’s the most efficient use of the dough, and I can twist up the edge trimmings into freeform weirdling shapes. If the dough has worked up well, I shape & cut it in the bowl so I don’t have to bother flouring the counter.

6. Place treats on parchment papered cookie sheet & slide into the oven to bake.

7. IMMEDIATELY DROP THE OVEN TEMP to 400.

Yes,  I did say pre-heat to 425. You can even pre-heat to 450. Biscuits & scones need the high temp to rise well. But I drop the temp as soon as they’re in because if I leave the temp up, I always misjudge the shorter cook time and overcook the bottoms. Lowering the temp and cooking longer gives me a bigger “done” window.

8. Bake for about 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean/tops turn golden brown. (You can do fancy shit like paint the tops with milk or egg to make them brown up more. I can’t be bothered. Cheezy scones get browner faster than fruit ones, go figure.

FULL DISCLAIMER: the cook time can be vary by plus OR minus 10 minutes depending on the size & shape & variety & oven quirks. That’s nearly a 100% over/under, so keep a close eye on them the first few times.

That’s it. The recipe is super-customizable and you can get a sheet’s worth ready to bake before the oven finishes pre-heating once you get the hang of it. Plus it dirties only 1 bowl & 1 measuring cup and makes anywhere from 10 to 24 scones, depending on how BIG you like them.

Happy experimenting, that’s all until later!

Almost forgot! Here’s my obligatory promotional blurb:

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Here be more pictures of tasty treats, just for added entertainment value:

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yes, I overbaked some of these, but look at those triangles!