It's been a long time since my last blog. While I really missed writing them, I found I couldn't take time from my books to do one. I was feeling guilty enough about being behind in my fiction writing. Before I knew it, not only was the Month of Fun 2017 over but somehow it was also mid-October! Crazy! Well, let's get to it.
Month of Fun 2017
Strangely, one of the cornerstones of the Month of Fun in any year is making sure that – if I do nothing else – I make sure I have a 'damned fine cup of coffee.' * Why is that strange? I hadn't made myself what would be considered a decent cup of coffee in a number of years. I found trying to make a carafe of coffee from our Mr. Coffee wasteful. I only seem to drink one cup of coffee per day unless I'm working in an office. I'm not sure why a cubicle makes me a three cup a day gal, but it does.
Anyway, a couple of weeks before the MoF 2017 began, I was watching an NHK (Japanese Network TV that runs on PBS in LA) Show called Japanology Plus. The subject was cafes that serve Japanese Coffee and the history of coffee drinking in that country. I was dumbstruck when I watched the careful procedure for making the perfect single cup of coffee in Japan because it was so similar to how I made it decades earlier in the first apartment I lived in on my own. I once had a carafe/funnel combo and was rather tickled that this method was not just popular in Japan, it had also become big among the Hipsters here. I recalled that coffee was quite strong and delicious. In the TV show, the cafe workers used a ceramic funnel over top a gorgeous cup. I popped onto Amazon and bought myself a plastic Mellita funnel and filter starter kit. Within two days, I was back to making myself a single cup of sublime coffee. I am doing that to this day. I enjoy Japanology Plus anytime I watch it, but this episode brought back a little nicety that I had long neglected.
There was quite a bit of decadent food for this MoF. I always enjoy Eggs Benedict on special occasions like any given Wednesday. This year, I found Bruno Albouze, a zany French chef on Youtube who had the craziest video I've ever seen of this recipe https://youtu.be/WM_oTv5EAhY. He also had an actual foolproof method of poaching eggs that worked for me! I had my dish with smoked salmon and English muffins, as usual. I also enjoyed just the toasted English muffins with the smoked salmon and Hollandaise sauce as a late night snack a couple of times later in the week. For the Big Day, I made a new recipe from the same chef – a Triple Chocolate Mousse Cakehttps://youtu.be/MhUB4Us8BIo . I didn't have ring molds, so I had to adjust the ingredients for a small, springform cake pan. We enjoyed the heck out of that cake. I was also excited about the appearance of King's Hawaiian hot dog and hamburger buns http://www.kingshawaiian.com. The hot dog buns were split on the top which meant I could finally have a proper lobster roll. Well, when the lobster tails were reasonably priced, the hot dog buns were sold out. One day, there was a cook half lobster on a Manager's Special. I made the roll on the hamburger bun. It was so good, I was dancing in my seat! Be sure to toast the interior of the bun with butter in a frying pan first. Decadent!!! Incidentally, those King Hawaiian buns are wonderful for hamburgers and hot dogs.
On Being Girly
Food was not my only MoF indulgence this year. I decided to finally get back to the level of basic polish in my appearance I had prior to my diagnosis. I've never been much for glamour – save for in the 1980s when everyone was really painted and flouffed – but I have always maintained a level of polish that allowed me to put myself together for an Industry meeting or event on short notice. That meant getting a mani-pedi at least once a month, keeping the hair relaxed and conditioned, and keeping my skin care regiment up. All of that went out the window while grappling with my illness. It was when doing research for the current book that I realized it had been so long since I bought new makeup, I didn't even know what current trends were. I certainly didn't know how to make a face that has matured and been through a physical nightmare look its best.
I made the jump to natural hair (no chemical relaxers) a couple of years ago when I realized I didn't have the energy required to thoroughly rinse the chemicals out in one attempt. You can leave that stuff sitting on the hair for rest intervals. The chemicals would burn the hair and probably the scalp. Let me state for the record that natural hair care is neither less expensive nor less effort. That is so far from the truth that I want to punch anyone who says that (and it's usually men) in the face for saying it is. The one good thing about all the products involved in 'natural hair care' (special shampoos and conditioners, coconut oil, conditioning creams, and styling gel) is that they last a long time. Still, routine hair care under this regimen involves five products and at least six involved steps. Oy!
Fortunately, Youtube had all my beauty and skin care info in copious detail. I found experts who were my exact skin share, type, and age. I found advice for making up my hooded/monolid eyes. I found experts who know all the best drugstore brands and which ones can compete with the most expensive products. I was appalled and impressed by how much these folks earn from their videos, but I was glad I found them. Interesting note – the best makeup instructions seem to come from guys. I think it's because they're assuming that the other guys watching don't automatically know the terminology. I had to rebuild my makeup, skin care, and nail care kits. That process started during the MoF. It took a while to figure out the best value for my limited bucks. And by slowly acquiring products, I gave myself time to develop the habit of using them. If anyone is interested in links to my Youtube beauty playlist or what is in my various kits, let me know. I haven't glammed up yet, but the changes have been noted by Jon and others I run across. That's been nice.
Research Purposes Only
My writing involves a great deal of research. Even my Sci-fi fantasies are grounded in reality. The writing flows better for me if I'm writing something that is based on real life. The problem for me is that when I am researching something interesting, I'll follow links to videos and articles to information that has no bearing on my writing whatsoever. I'm curious by nature. Thus, it can be a struggle not to fall down an informational rabbit hole and spend hours distracted. However, I have found some wonderful information for my fiction from people like Hair Archaeologist Janet Stephens whose work helped me with character descriptions. I was surprised to find out how many prominent male belly dancers there are in the world. A few of the dancers influenced a major passage in the book. Meanwhile, amazing present day wonders like the Marina Bay Sands Hotel/Casio in Singapore look like they are from hundreds of years into the future. The documentaries on how this amazing place was built https://youtu.be/wHx9Af2Uxyg and how it keeps guests and employees fed https://youtu.be/GRfQw5SLVLM were really inspiring for my fiction. And after I finished the draft, I began binging (that word looks weird) on everything I couldn't watch while I was still working. My Youtube feed is bizarre.
While the proofreaders beat the draft into shape, I'm finishing details on the cover drawing. I'd worked out the pose earlier. I'm now adding rings, sandals, and other accessories to the characters before painting the thing. In the meantime, I'm working on a test painting to refine my blending skills.
*Agent Cooper - Twin Peaks
|Kentucky Derby Day Eats (Homemade pulled pork sandwich) and a Mint Julep.|
|Birthday Bubbly and Soft Pretzel Snack.|
|Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake.|
|Wall Street Journal article on Janet Stephens and the Vestal Virgin Hair Challenge.|