January 10th, 2006

Dancing Thru

Too much in the kitchen

My kitchen isn't a huge kitchen to begin with, though being 1930's, it has more space than some. But the center is currently occupied by:

a hoosier cabinet
a formica-top table
a set of large plastic utility shelves
a wire bookcase/rack
a rattan chest of drawers that I use for potato/onion storage and plastic bags, etc.
recycling bins

Did I mention that every surface is covered by either foodstuffs/condiments, kitchen equipment, cookware/dishes? And yes, I do work fairly efficiently in this kitchen. It amazes people when they see me do it. However, I really need to eliminate about half of what I currently have in there. The thing is, this is all stuff I actually use. I did manage to deal with the weird stack by the stove, last year, by buying a new kitchen cabinet. What had been there was a smallish cabinet that came with the house, on which was stacked the microwave, the toaster oven, and my crockpot, in that order. Often, I would be using all three simultaneous, in a stack! I got the microwave cabinet, and moved the toaster oven to another location, and put the crockpot away in the base of the cabinet, along with the deepfrier and my cast iron (which had been sitting in a pile on the stove). I now put it on the stove to use the crockpot.

My thought is to replace the plastic stack shelves with a rolling steel rack, moving the hoosier cabinet up against one wall. Then maybe reorganize some of the other pieces and eliminate the table, since it mostly houses the coffee maker, bread machine, electric hot water pot, and an assortment of exotic oils and vinegars. Those might be able to go on the steel shelves. Hmm, one of the biggest issues in my kitchen is spaces for devices I use all the time (like the above, plus the food processor, veggie steamer, etc.) At least I've got the mixer and the rice cooker and the pasta maker and the salad spinner out of the wa, not using counters, since I only use those devices occasionally. Hmm, this must be a sign of modern life, all these gizmos. I really should go "back to basics," since I do things like cooking huge meals with just a fire and cast iron. But I'm afraid I enjoy and use my appliances too much. Maybe because I can do the "basic" thing.

What I really need is a HUGE kitchen, with tons of storage space, like one of those ones on TV, but I have the house I have, so it just isn't going to happen. I'll just have to figure how to reorganize and simplify a bit. Maybe not keep quite so much food in the house, and devote a bit more space to storage. (Like that's really going to happen...)

I could blame this recent reorganization thing on the new stove, but actually, the stove came from the other way around: I've been thinking about ways to rework the kitchen for the past year.
  • Current Mood
    chipper reorganizational
Dancing Thru

Realizations about "geisha"

I was just struck by what I think is the biggest problem in trying to translate the concept of "geisha" into Western terms: language.

I will still despair over "Memoirs of a Geisha" and its westernized look and feel, but there is a more basic issue here. And I finally realized what it is.

The only term that western society has for the entire spectrum of the Japanese demi-monde (not the best term, either, but probably the best I can find) is "geisha." And the terms are dazzlingly specific, in the Japanese language itself. Heck, women from Kyoto even use use a different pronoun than other women... It's worse than Eskimo words for snow. It's probably closer to the Finnish terms for various shaman/magic-workers. My father told me there are huge numbers of terms for these, depending on what they do. Thus, to use English analogs, a village witch and a sorceress and a shaman would do different things, use different methods for what they do, etc.

Well, that is the issue with women in the Japanese demi-monde. An oiran and a geisha are very different, but to westerners, the distinction is unrecognized. Likewise many of the other classes ranging from "tea-house girls" to "night hawks." I've read enough classic Japanese literature to see the differences, and there are probably a couple dozen different classifications for "women who cater to men" in whatever way. Even "geisha" differ, in that "real" geisha (from Kyoto) have a different culture and customs and behaviors from those in Tokyo or at hot springs. They use different language, as women in Kyoto are wont to do, but it's even more pronounced (ironic term, that) in geisha culture. And until those outside the culture become familiar with the language distinctions (which will never happen) misunderstandings will abound.

I think, also, that I view it with the viewpoint of a Living History Reenactor. Until you live within a culture, you can't understand it. I try to portray people with authentic period attitudes and behaviors, as best I can research them. And they aren't always readily understood by those of the 21st century. Mythos abounds, as well as societal attitudes of the time. So, I think, it is with the geisha (and other Japanese women), doomed by both language and current western thought, to be forever misunderstood by the West.
  • Current Music
    a faint strain of koto music on the wind