My Husband Is An Interesting Man

Filed under: Kyle Rankin,Personal — Administrator at 2:21 pm on Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I’ve been married to Kyle 14 years this June. One of my favorite things about him is that he never ceases to explore his intellectual interests in a curious and accomplished way. Here are some things Kyle has been interested in lately:

* He decided to take up Speed Cubing, which is when people solve a Rubik’s Cube quickly. I think he has it down to 2 minutes so far.

* He’s 3D printing an entire tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, which will be the size of a turkey when he’s done.

* He’s reading all eight volumes of the The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He’s on volume three.

* He taught himself to play Bach’s Invention #13 on the banjo.

But I was most excited about his decision to make croissants. I love croissants, and I know how difficult they are to make. It was an elaborate, three-day process of making croissant dough, laminating it, taking it in and out of the fridge at various times, then cutting it:


And shaping it:


And letting it rise again before finally baking it.


We had them on the morning of Gideon’s 4th birthday. They came out fresh from the oven, and they were exactly right. I say that as someone who has high standards for bread.

c 1

They may have looked a little stripey, but they were all the things a croissant should be: crunchy, buttery, soft in the center, with good layers.


Seeing these excellent croissants, my dad said to me, “You know, everything Kyle does turns out like that.”

And it’s true.

Smithsonian Article: The Forgotten Dust Bowl Novel That Rivaled The Grapes of Wrath

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 6:20 am on Tuesday, May 24, 2016


I’m so excited to announce my first article in The Smithsonian, The Forgotten Dust Bowl Novel That Rivaled The Grapes of Wrath.

It’s about Sanora Babb, who wrote a great Dust Bowl novel called Whose Names Are Unknown the same time John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath. In fact, Babb used much of the same research material as Steinbeck and saw many of the same things. When The Grapes of Wrath came out, Babb’s book was shelved for 65 years. Read the article to find out more!

Humor Article: How To Tell If You’re A Lady In A 1950s Melodrama

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 6:08 am on Tuesday, May 24, 2016


I have a short humor piece in Defenestration titled How To Tell If You’re A Lady In A 1950s Melodrama. I watched a lot of bad movies to write it, so I know it’s accurate.


Sure, his relentless stalking caused an accident that made you go blind, and then he pretended to be someone else to make you fall in love with him, but he’s a great guy, and you won’t have people pitying him for marrying a blind woman. The only solution is to go away and love him from afar.

Read the rest here.


Spring Is Sliding Through My Fingers

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 8:42 am on Friday, May 20, 2016


You might think I’ve forgotten this blog. I haven’t. There’s just so much going on and it’s a low priority. Here are some things that are happening this May:

* I have a few articles coming out that I’m very excited about. I will post them when they’re published.

* I’m going to the Cuttyhunk Island Writers’ Residency in June. I’ll be studying with Paul Harding, who wrote Tinkers, which is a great book. I’ve never done anything like this before, and I’m nervous and excited and worried about missing my son.

* Gideon is turning 4 this weekend. It’s a weird pressure to plan a kid’s birthday. You want him to have the best time ever, even though you know your son is perfectly happy playing with a rock. I’m making a cake. It has been requested that there be cherries on top.

* I planted my garden:


* For Marcia’s birthday in June, I’m finally going on a hot air balloon ride. I’ll post pictures. We’re also thinking of getting facials, another first for me. Yes, I’m selfishly using my best friend’s birthday to tick off life experiences. She’s cool with it.

* Upcoming things that are happening: remodeling our kitchen, another artist residency, vacation to somewhere, finishing a novel, editing the other novel, writing writing writing.

* My house is haunted:


I Was On An All About Beer Panel

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 8:37 am on Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Earlier this year, I was on a beer panel for All About Beer magazine. That means I got to sit in a room with other panelists, taste beers, and come up with descriptions of nuances and flavors. It was fun. Check out the March issue to see which beers we liked the best.

Book Review: The Nest By Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 8:08 am on Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Check it out! I have a book review up at KQED on The Nest By Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. Click here to read Review: Is ‘The Nest’ Worth Its Famed Seven-Figure Advance?

Facts About I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings In Mental Floss

Filed under: Joy's Work — joy at 9:17 am on Friday, March 4, 2016


Check out my most recent Mental Floss post, 11 Facts About I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Maya Angelou was such a fascinating person.

Truth Is Stranger Than Children’s Fiction In Writer’s Digest

Filed under: Joy's Work — joy at 9:07 am on Friday, March 4, 2016


I have an article in the March/April issue of Writer’s Digest titled “When Truth Is Stranger Than (Children’s) Fiction.” Next time you’re in a bookstore, pick up a copy and check it out.


Food-Related Things I’ve Done Recently

Filed under: Personal — joy at 11:52 am on Monday, February 29, 2016


* I went mushroom hunting a few times. Once I found a bunch of hedgehog mushrooms and took them home and made risotto. Later when I was in Whole Foods, I saw hedgehog mushrooms on sale for $30/pound. Apparently mushroom hunting is lucrative.


* I installed a grape arbor in my yard and planted a grape to climb it.


* I planned my garden for the year. New plants I’m trying include ground cherries, hot pink amaranth, and glass gem corn.


* I baked a lot. I made several loaves of bread, which I’m starting to enjoy. It’s pretty thrilling to cut open a fresh loaf of bread and slather a slice with butter.


* Unrelated, I went on a boat. Here’s a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge.


* We drastically reduced the number of times we’re going out to eat, and you know what? I don’t miss it at all. However, one time I went out for oysters and they were great.

* Right now I’m harvesting eggs, arugula, chives, leeks, oranges, and meyer lemons from my yard. I have no idea what to do with all those meyer lemons.

* Most of these images were originally on Twitter.

* Unrelated again, check out this manzanita tree.


Article: Secret Garden In Mental Floss

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 3:59 pm on Tuesday, February 2, 2016


I have a new post up at Mental Floss: 8 Lovely Facts About The Secret Garden. I was surprised to learn that Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic book is basically an allegory for Christian Science. Weird.

Click here to read the article.

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