Wednesday, January 3, 2018

I didn't run


I think this is the first New Year's holiday since I started running that...I didn't run. Of course, I could say that it's a calendar glitch that the holiday is over so soon and that the holiday isn't actually over until Coming of Age Day (which will be next Monday) and go running by then and call it good.

Other than that...

I cleaned the kitchen fan. This is the one thing I have done consistently during the New Year Holiday the past several years.

I cooked (prepped?) datemaki (kind of a fish stock containing omelette type dish) and koh-haku namasu (halfway between a salad and pickle containing daikon radish and carrots) and char-shiu (Chinese style roast pork, which isn't traditionally a part of osechi). I also made ikura in fish cake (made meaning assembled).

I cooked dinner on the 29th and 30th and the 1st and the 3rd. We went to my parents' the night of the 31st and the Pumpkin Daddy's parents' the night of the 2nd.

I made jeans and a sweater for Tiny Vader. This needs a lot of explaining depending on your level of interest and familiarity with doll clothes and Tiny Vader. For now I'll just say I cut up a pair of jeans the Pumpkin Princess outgrew and got yarn and needles from the 100 yen shop. I made a photo studio for Tiny Vader with the cardboard boxes Amazon and Uniqlo sends my stuff in, and some 100 yen shop stuff (battery powered LED lights, plastic sheets, construction paper, paper clips, and wallpaper paste).  In terms of cost performance, both the studio and the clothing are successes, although the jeans took a few tries (and could still stand some improvement).

And now it's back to the daily grind...which I do not really look forward to. But how else am I going to be able to pay Amazon and Uniqlo?

Friday, December 29, 2017

I managed to do a lot.

Iroiro dekimashita.

The New Year Holiday is only six days again this year. Haven't made a Holiday Goals list yet.

The first day was really great, though.

Got up at around seven, ate breakfast. Took the Pumpkin Princess to her test prep course, and then went to the local mall. I browsed around and then got an early lunch. I'd always wanted to try the noodles at Mister Donut, so I got the noodle set with coffee and a chocolate covered donut. The noodles were good. Not great, just good. The coffee was good too, with free refills. I wrote my nengajo (New Year's cards) while having my second cup of coffee.

I went alone and saw the subtitled version (the kids prefer dubbed versions) of the movie I'd wanted to see. It was long but didn't really seem like it. And the geeky Asian girl kissed the cool guy! How often does that happen? (Please don't say Harry Potter because Cho Chang wasn't geeky, she was dating the school rep for the Triwizard Tournament.)

Got home, made chicken stock from the bones left from the Christmas chicken (which probably deserves its own post if only as reflection to review before next Christmas), set some of it aside for my New Year zouni (soup with mochi) and used the rest for tonight's curry. Went grocery shopping and tossed the postcards in the mailbox on the way. Dinner was curry with rice and salad. Cleaned up, and tried to make some clothes for Tiny Vader, but couldn't. Hey, I figured out what wasn't going to work, that's a good thing!

Really, the only thing that would have made this day even better was if I'd woken up to my alarm and gone running. That has seriously lapsed, and I need to change that.

I saw a movie.

Eiga wo mimashita.

The short geeky Asian girl got lots of screen time. She saved the hero, got badly hurt in the process, kissed him, and told him that she loved him before passing out. The hero took her to safety and looked at her with a concerned, pained look as she lay in bed, very still. The prettiest girl, who had feelings for the hero and had kissed them in the previous movie, looked at them a little sadly as he did.

Actually, a lot more happened, but that was the part that made me happiest. That the short geeky Asian girl got to kiss the hero and more or less has his heart at the end of the story (or at the end of that one film, at least). If you can give me the title of one more big budget movie in which that happens, I will go watch it and I will also send you a token of my gratitude.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Made and saved


Super proud of myself today. I woke up and didn't go running, but instead of just fooling around on the internet like I always do, I got up and wrote 16 Christmas cards and addressed them and took them to the post office during break time. I haven't sent paper cards in, well, ages, and I felt really bad about it every year. But this year, I did! I think I missed some people. Let me know if you think you should get a card from me but don't get one.

Today's phrase is about cooking. The basic premise of Japanese cooking is that you have a bowl of unflavored rice, a bowl of soup (usually miso soup), and a couple of additional dishes. Ideally, it's ichi ju san sai (one soup, three sides). You'll have a main side (kind of like an oxymoron, but the rice is supposed to be the main dish, so your meat or fish dish is your main side) and a few additional side dishes (vegetables or tofu or whatever). Back when I'd try to cook after getting home from work, it would be ichi ju ni sai (one soup, two sides) with the main side something like chicken that had been marinating in a ziplock bag since Sunday night, and the additional side being something like a few slices of tomatoes.

So if I'd found this book back then, I would have been all over it. Actually, I found it last month, and I am all over it.
You cook all your side dishes over the weekend and keep them in storage containers. You eat the stuff that don't keep very well like salads and chicken  on Monday and Tuesday. Stuff that keeps longer like stir fried root crops, you save until Friday. You can also use these stored foods as part of your bento lunch. I tried this once last week, and it was no trouble just tossing three or four different items into the box and buying a convenience store musubi.

I think this works because of the way Japanese cooking works. If you have hot rice (compliments of the timer on your rice cooker) and soup, cold dishes in limited amounts can be forgiven, and if that's not the case, there's always the microwave. It probably won't work for American style meals where your main dish is a meat dish or a hearty soup and have bread or a salad as a side.

I don't fix four main sides and ten additional sides like the book suggests. It's more like one main and four or five additional. This week, I made a simplified version of Indian butter chicken, a salad, and a couple stir fries. I also boiled some broccoli. I know already that this is just not going to happen on busy weekends. And that's all right. You do what you can, when you can, to eat as healthily and cheaply as possible.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

There is only one truth

Shinjitsu ha hitotsu

(Scene: workplace party)

Distinguished-Looking older man highly respected in our field: So, do you have any hobbies?

Me in my head: I like to fool around on the internet checking Wikipedia pages about Hollywood Golden Age films. I have Star Wars dolls that I use to recreate Instagram accounts I hate follow. Oh, I also write really bad Mary Sue (fan) fiction that should never see the light of day. Really bad. I'm talking brain melting stuff here.

Me out loud: I like cooking and sewing, but I don't have very much time to sew these days...

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Hiding place


Seen at Starbucks:

A woman slightly younger than me wearing the exact same coat I was wearing (last year's version of this coat) studying for some kind of certification exam

A woman much younger than me studying for the same certification exam I took over two decades ago (good luck! You have so much more to remember than I do, but that's progress, I guess...)

Slightly older man poring over a book about kaiseki (traditional formal Japanese cuisine) while nursing a hot beverage of some kind in this year's holiday cup and also checking his phone for...something

I love hiding from work and family, if only for a short time.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Unrequited love


The man I consider my work mentor passed away after a long illness. The disease was generous at first, letting him work full time with reasonable interruptions for therapy. Then the disease decided it was done being the nice guy.

I went to Yoda's memorial service.

(I've decided to call him Yoda for purposes of this entry. I should clarify that this is a Star Wars reference, not his real name, even though"Yoda" is an actual family name in this country.)

I thought about what I'd learned from him, and how much I loved and respected him, and how I'd thought I wanted to have a family with someone like him someday (I didn't) and how I'd wanted to have something like a family with him someday (I didn't).

My co-worker showed up later than I did. She was guided to one of the seats in the front of the room, where the important people got to sit. I turned green with envy. Surely I'd loved him more than she had? Was I not important to him?

Then I looked around the room and it was full of people who loved and respected him, and the room was so full it overflowed into another room set up with a big monitor that showed the ceremony going on in the room I was in.

My love for him was greater than his love for me. A selfish thought, but still genuine. A very common tale, really. It was probably that way for pretty much everyone in the room, save his wife and children and grandchild.

He was one of those people who was everyone's favorite teacher. I guess that's his legacy. Us. His intellectual descendants who will do the work that he still wanted to do but can't anymore.

Yoda, I love you and miss you. You are in every work task I undertake. I will try to live up to the honor of being one of yours.