Category Archives: reminiscing

Pain and practicality

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We now return you to the blogpost proper.  РAff

 

Beware. Rambly post ahead.

 

Grief, from where I stand, never plays out the way they portray in the movies.

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A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.

 

"Logic is the beginning of wisdom; not the end." -- Spock (Star Trek VI)

“Logic is the beginning of wisdom; not the end.” — Spock (Star Trek VI)

Leonard Nimoy dies at age 83

The title was his last tweet.

Mr. Spock was one of my childhood inspirations. If anything I looked up to the ability he had to analyze logically, act reasonably, yet be tempered by intangible things such as duty, friendship, and wisdom. Inspired by the way his character seemed to know so much, I happily embarked into reading everything I could and studied hard as I could.

I’m too sad to say more.

Reading before sleeping

I like short stories, since I can read one story right before going to sleep. So I was looking forward to seeing the next Book Bomb at Monster Hunter Nation. Book Bombs are basically Larry saying “I read this author’s book, think it’s totally awesome, it hasn’t got enough attention and I think you, my readers, would enjoy it.” Since the books usually recommended by Larry are highly entertaining reads, his readers buy copies, which boost the book up the Amazon rankings in the hopes that people not participating in the Book Bomb see it and give the book / author a chance. Talk about giving talented new authors a boost!

Anyway, the previous Book Bomb and this current one are different, since they involve shorter works – novella, novellette and short stories – of authors they think are worthy of being nominated for a Hugo. The latter two types are especially problematic to get a hold of because they tend to be published in anthologies or magazines, so Larry and Brad Torgersen contacted the authors for something that could be plugged in lieu of the stories in question. In this case though, one of the authors responded that the story that was nominated is up for free online.

Tuesdays with Molakesh the Destroyer is a well written short by Megan Grey, which is one of the stories on the Sad Puppies slate. (EDITED TO ADD: Turns out it’s not eligible, I think, until next year. I hope it gets nominated then!) I actually think it could be made into a movie. It manages to have the reader relate easily to the narrating character, establishes right off the bat that this is urban fantasy, and had me wondering ‘why is Molakesh there?’ I giggled reading about the homeowners’ association; I hear such horror stories about them so I kinda get the reference; our own experiences of such are different (at least, back in my parents’ house in the Philippines in the place where we lived. There’s no way that area would get the uniform neat appearance of mowed lawns and limitations on what you could plant and such. Ahem. Digressed.) The characters are people one can easily relate with, especially if one is one of those social outcasts during high school for whatever reason, and was bullied during that time. The main character is clearly a teen; and I liked how she is handled. Sarah Jean’s responses and her interaction with her mother is one I’m fairly sure most of us can relate to: “But Mom~!” … then having to grumblingly do as told. I do wish the concept of ‘service’ as is used in the story were a bit more elaborated on; but perhaps if it were made into a movie it could be better shown. (I can dream right?)

Molakesh, despite being a demon, is also a character that is familiar to us – the crochety, lonely old man in the neighborhood, and yet the story makes no bones about him being a demon. Yet in that description is the key to the rest of the story, which I won’t spoil. Go read it, it’s one that I found easy to immerse myself in.

The portrayal of Molakesh had me remembering the episodic Game-of-Thrones-esque epic saga my youngest brother was writing around the age of 6-10. It involved demons, detailed power struggles, complete with multipage, extremely detailed character profiles and demon type profiles. (Why demons? My brother said ‘because angels would be boring to write about.’ He was a six year old in a family of Odds.) I wonder what happened to the story – he spent hours illustrating it (with very childish drawings in pencil and crayon and colored pencils. C’mon. Six years old.)

This story sent me back to those days, where he’d tell us the story’s latest installments as we sat around the dinner table.

He’s an auditor now, and he still has that exacting attention to detail.

I think I’ll email him about it before I sleep. And email him the link to the story. I think he’d enjoy it too. He would have done, at six.

edited to add: I’ve bought Totaled by Kary English, and A Time Foreclosed by Edward M. Lerner. The anthologies are added to my wishlist for now, because that was all my digital loose change. ;_;

I keep doin’ this to myself

Elven Fried Bread

 

So, I spent a rather insomniac night craving doughnuts, so I bounced around the Internet, gazing hungrily at doughnut recipes, because I’ve never made doughnuts before.

Well, okay I was also looking up ideas for making black forest truffle balls, because I am seriously, seriously missing me some Red Ribbon Black Forest Cake. ;_; (The last one I had, ever, was thanks to Ford Prefect42 and Akilika! Thank you~! I treasure the memory . )

So thanks to that, I ended up on a blog called Let The Baking Begin! Aaaaaaaaand in the manner that one usually ends up Trapped In TVTropes, by the time I resurfaced, it was 5 am in the morning.

Thanks to that I have a nice recipe for latkes that I want to try sometime. And a recipe for home-made soft cheese.

I am casting the puppy eyes at Rhys to help me make these doughnuts. And possibly fried elven bread – a more savory, salty, as addictive as popcorn bread that I make.

I probably should explain that one a bit more.

When I was a teen/early twenties I was able to get my hands on the Leaves from the Inn of the Last Home Dragonlance sourcebook. To my delight, they had recipes, and one of the recipes was for a travelling fried flat bread sometimes referred to as elven bread because the Kagonesti made the things. Being simple it was one of the first things I made out of the book. Yes, I didn’t make Otik’s Fried Potatoes; I wasn’t very good with spices at the time. Shocking, I know.

(Mutters: I haven’t seen the book since we last moved house. grumbles!)

Baked it was a bit dense and got hard very quickly (we guessed it may have to do with the flour) but my mom and I decided to try the fried version, which is the one favoured by ‘adventurers and wilder elves’, hence the resulting name.

It was good. We ended up with a chewy, addictive bread, but still lacking something.

Flour was cheap. So was oil. Over the next while, we made batches of the fried bread, tweaking and adjusting. My brothers were happy to eat the experiments anyway and we hadn’t had any problems with the amount we made.

I found the notebook I wrote the resulting recipe in (It’s got oil splatter on it, hahaha) so I’m sharing it now. It’s a deep fried, salty, chewy bread, that we make into small balls and eat like popcorn while watching movies or reading books.

 

Elven Fried Bread, inspired from the Dragonlance recipe

Ingredients

2 cup water

4 cups flour

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon yeast (I use a granulated yeast) / 1 packet yeast

1/4c (plus more for your hands) olive oil (I tend to use extra virgin olive oil)

Mix 1 cup water, at body-temperature warmth (what I call ‘blood-warm’, since it’s actually warmer than body temperature and hotter than lukewarm) with sugar, and dissolve. Add the yeast and let it grow in the water.

Dissolve the salt in the other cup of water. In a bowl, sift the flour and make a well.

When the yeast has bubbled, pour into the flour and mix to make into a sticky dough. Add about a handful of olive oil and mix it in – this helps make the dough flexible and chewy, as well as adds flavour, and has the side benefit of helping keep the bread from sticking too much to the bowl. You’ll end up with a very sticky, stretchy dough. If you want to knead it you may, but I tend not to.

Cover with a damp cloth and set in a warm place to rise for 1-2 hours.

Heat enough cooking oil for deep frying.

Oil hands and pinch off enough bread dough to make a 2-3 cm wide flat circles and slide into the hot oil. Or balls the size of quarters / 20 Australian cent pieces. Fry on both sides till golden brown, drain in a colander with a paper towel on the bottom. Best while hot.

 

The original version sounds a lot like American Fried Dough.

Now if y’all will excuse me I’m gonna make a batch of this stuff, because writing it up made me hungry hungry hungry.

 

 

 

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Our first real tree

The current post over at Mad Genius Club talks about the trials and tribulations of the holiday season, especially if one has cats that like to climb Christmas trees. Having spent the evening after filling the stockings for the children cuddled up with Rhys, marvelling that somehow, we’d managed to put together a Christmas for the kiddlywinks, and reminiscing as we watched the tree lights sparkle, I find myself reminiscing again – this time about the first time we had a proper Christmas tree. As a child in the Philippines, the tree I remembered having was made out of little pine cones shaped into a Christmas tree that came from Baguio. It wasn’t big and we could put it on top of the TV.

The first Christmas we had in East Berlin, I bought the tree, and my classmate and I carried it home. My father had plans of buying a plastic tree but I would have none of it! We were in Germany and we could finally have a proper Tanenbaum! But no, my father reasoned that it seemed cruel to get a cut tree. This made no sense to me as the tree was grown and cut for that purpose, and since it was cut already, it was a waste not to use it for the reason why it was cut down.

I was telling my friend about this while walking home the 2 or more kilometers home from school. She was quite baffled at the thought of a plastic tree, but reasoned that it was too hot where I came from for tanenbaumen, when we saw someone selling trees out of a truck in a parking lot. My friend suggested buying one. I made up my mind right there to buy a tree if I could afford one with my pocket money. I had enough money for a 2 meter tall tree, which was the smallest one available.

Everyone else buying trees, I remember, was a grown up. The sight of two children, one German and the other a tiny little auslanderin, very seriously picking out which tree to buy, seemed to be a source of amusement. We didn’t mind them; this was, to our minds, something important!

Nevertheless, we picked out a tree, and paid the five marks for it. The man selling it asked if we lived nearby. No, we replied, we lived at (street), and he remarked at how far we had to go. Yet these two little girls lifted the tree onto their shoulders, and trudged off, with those darned heavy leather schoolbags on our shoulders digging in through our anoraks. I remember people pausing to watch us go by, because we looked like a horizontal tree that had sprouted legs.

It was afternoon, but the sky was already pitch dark, and snowflakes, big fat clumps of white, drifted out of the darkness and into the street lights we followed to our apartment building. The day was very cold, but carrying the tree, which was heavier than either of us had anticipated, kept us warm, and the tree itself shielded us from quite a bit of wind chill.

My mother was quite shocked to find out that we had walked the whole way; we said the tree wouldn’t have fit through the bus’ door. My brothers were simply excited that we had a tree!

My friend showed us how to have the tree set up. We went back down with a pail and filled it with sand from the little playground next to the apartment building, and we planted the tree into the bucket of sand and stood it to one side of the living room, next to the windows.

Afterward my mother plied us with drinks of hot chocolate and cookies bought from the West side of Berlin. She made up a thank you gift of food and treats and gave them to my friend when it was time for her to go home.

My father was surprised by the tree when he got home, and shocked to find out how we’d gotten it there. Seeing as I’d made such an effort, he decided that we go out and buy decorations, so we drove out to the West side and came home with lots of decorations and decorated the tree that same night. It looked quite magical to us, that first proper tanenbaum and my father conceded that I’d been right to push for a real tree. In the years we stayed in Germany, every Christmas we got a proper, real Tanenbaum. We went with the plastic trees later on, but by then we were all quite a bit older, and Christmas was less about the tree and the presents and more about the company, the religious connotations, the social gatherings and the food.