Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Asterisks, Croissants and Ninjas

For all of my life, answering the question 'how are you' was simple. I would just say fine. The Linkonly variant might be complaining about a cold or allergies. Most of the time, when someone asks that question, they aren't looking for a long answer. A catastrophic illness changes that question. Simply saying 'I'm fine' in response causes a lot of assumptions that aren't true. Yet even with coping with an illness like cancer, the people asking aren't looking for a half hour explanation with all the awful details. So, for those who ask me how I'm doing, 'I'm fine' does not mean that I am completely free of medical problems. For now 'I'm fine' has an asterisk with the further explanation of 'relative of chemo side effects and my usual neuroses. This has come up recently, and I thought I needed to clarify. When I am free of them – and things are improving at a steady pace – I will say, 'I'm great!'

Deb versus Croissants

Puff pastry was a big challenge because of the time commitment required. Croissants are made from a yeast dough, and the prep spans 24 hours. But I found them easier to make. I think that the reason is that croissant dough doesn't require babysitting for hours. Most of the time involved in the prep before rolling out the dough to be cut is letting it proof in the fridge. That's not difficult at all since I'm not really doing anything. And when it came time to cut the dough into the properly shaped triangles, I had the right tool for the job. At some point where my only outlet was shopping on Amazon and Ebay, I ordered a croissant rolling pin. But, Deb, you say. These are simple triangle shapes. Can't you use a ruler and a pizza cutter? That sort of logic works on people who aren't geometry challenged. I am philosophically opposed to reincarnation because I don't want to relive high school geometry. There was just no telling what oddly shaped baked goods I would produce left to my own devices or multiple devices. And there is a perfectly good, affordable device available. Why no use it? It certainly saved me from hours of crying over floury dough and pizza cutters. And the result was just marvelous in every way. They looked great. They smelled amazing – especially while they were baking. And the taste was just not to be believed – especially right after baking. All in all, a very satisfying experience. I even want to do it again.

Language Barrier or I am Not a Ninja

I have been alternating on honing my French skills and learning Japanese. I'm getting more questions about how that's going, so I'll focus on that. I do a lot of very odd searches on Youtube. Those searches result in Youtube suggesting sites I might be interested in. Among them, was a site for teaching Japanese through anime. That made sense as I look at a lot of anime and I had noticed words and phrases that turned up a lot in the subtitled stuff I watched. It is an amusing set of lectures that went over conversation basics in the most casual language. That's a problem with Japanese as in many situations that a tourist would encounter, formality in speech is the norm. I was also learning how to conjugate a lot of swear verbs. Very amusing, but somewhat problematic as well. And then, there are the common words in this teacher's vocabulary. He was primarily using the anime series Naruto. I don't think I've ever uttered the phrase 'There is a village over that hill.' And even on my weirdest days I have never been known to shout 'I am a Ninja' at anyone. Still, I have found these lecture useful in some fashion. I just have to convince Jon that I don't plan to dash over to Mitsuwa Market spewing obscenities and claiming to be a ninja. I am also well aware that I'm not in the least bit ready for a trip to Tokyo. He really needs to relax. I have found some other online sites that offer the more formal conversational Japanese as well as slang. I am beginning to understand more. And I can even say some things – besides swear words. By the way, I seemed to have confused some of my readers. I didn't start trying Japanese recipes because of anime. I started noticing that the food in anime was largely accurate because I'd begun watching Your Japanese Kitchen. Though I confess that it was an anime scene that caused me to make the wiener octopi. They are supposed to be used in Bento box lunches. But I ate them on a hot dog roll. Jon didn't want to have anything to do with them in his lunch. He's no fun sometimes.

End Part One

I am really drained from a day out in the heat and unusual humidity yesterday. So, the updates, the party details and some more geeky musings tomorrow.

Stay tuned.

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