The strong Vancouver sun rays shone again this afternoon, second time only, since my return from my 4 day visit in mostly sunny Calgary. I am joyous to be back here with M. as we live and navigate our lives together.
I am grateful that M. has taken on home management duties when I am at work. He is extremely organized and the opposite of me. Our home is adorned with fresh flowers weekly. Each week M. puts on his dinner chef hat at least 2 or 3 times a week and likes to make wild salmon sizzling in garlic butter, potatoes, asparagus or green beans or a green vegetable + a salad of fresh sliced tomatoes, avocados, white sweet onions, and a French vinaigrette of olive oil, black ground pepper and Maille Dijon whole grain mustard and a hearty red wine…classical music and surprise desserts often…and his Mom’s favourite Spanish?-Haitian?-Mexican?African? rice recipe: onions, garlic, variety of olives, tomatoes, mushrooms, black peppercorns…I am so blessed by his daily attentiveness.
Learning to live an integral life in the here and now but each time I leave my family I become wistful as I think of and miss my parents especially hanging out together: cooking, watching Chinese tv programs and their favourite National Geographic and travel shows on cable, going out for 3:00 coffee daily, speaking my Hoi Ping dialect and Chinglish, taking walks on Crescent Hill down to Prince’s Island, meeting Dad at the YMCA, hugging them both and just being together.
I like seeing my sibs and hanging out with them and their families. As we are all in our 50’s now it has been lovely to see how they’ve flourished with their life choices. As they set good boundaries with me, I am no longer seen as the ‘bossy big sister’ and we are careful to respect one another, respect the choices we’ve made and the directions we’ve taken
Between Mom’s daily gourmet meals of Chinese origin and other cuisines she usually likes to make my favourites when I come home. Examples are 2 confinement soups (generally given to women after giving birth): One soup is made of black vinegar, boiled eggs, pigs’ trotters, and ginger. Another one is made of boiled pieces of chicken, wood ear fungus, ginger, raw peanuts with their skins removed. Over the years it has been recommended by the Chinese to eat less salt fish but I love steamed salt fish, minced pork, julienned ginger and raw peanuts with skins removed then steamed together. I like to pour the juices when cooked onto my rice…and Mom’s preserves, such as, dried lean pork jerky that has to be steamed. From her 2 or 3 annual harvests of Chinese vegetables from her garden she will make her preserved mustard cabbage in glass jars julienned and then cut into tiny pieces and fried with garlic, ginger, pork, She also dries bok choy yearly…yes, they are lovingly hung on poles on the back of their stuccoed house…when cats sometimes squeezed under the fence they would try to climb up to grab the waxed ducks she dried in the sun or the lean pork…that she rehydrates to make delicious soups in the winter months…
Since my parents retired 21 years ago at age 62 my Mom has Dad as a helper and it’s lovely to watch this different type of domestic partnership as he was always at work during the day and my Mom somehow managed the household with 4 kids and a mother-in-law who mostly baby-sat…
I also miss just being able to hop over to my sibs’ homes and just hang out…They all have excellent culinary skills. I miss my friends with whom I’ve chummed around with for more than 30 years. I always like to spend ‘catch-up time’ with J and H next door…they’ve known me since I was 3.
Synchronicity and Serendipity: I enjoy spending quality time with my gal pals (even if it’s grocery shopping, running errands, coffee dates, preparing meals and eating in their homes with their families…) A few summers ago, on my annual summer visit, I bought some lovely gladiolas to pay respect’s to J’s parents at Queen’s Park Cemetery…it was ? bittersweet…and it reminded me of when I first met the whole family at a late night mahjong party at age 13…and how we became instant friends, how our spiritual lives connected and intertwined with the Saturday night gatherings of yummy food, music, talks, and later art lessons as J. was studying at Alberta College of Art. She had-has magic fingers still, profound ideas, and I learned to draw blind drawings, even at 2 a.m. waiting for our parents to finish their mahjong games…parents played after they closed their own businesses.
With one gal pal, L., our friendship was instant since I was aged 22. I was working at City of Calgary for TESA on a 7 month contract on a special project. I was a secretary for 6 planners and one female planner doing her Master’s Degree. I had seen L. daily surrounded by bevies of men during coffee time at the City of Calgary Coffee Shop. I had graduated in 1981 at 21 and was working as a secretary of TESA awaiting the news that I was chosen to go to Taipei to study Mandarin for 6 weeks. I did not feel invigorated to even apply for a teaching job as my view back then is that I would become ‘chained’ to a classroom. I wanted more than that. My outstanding moments at U. of C. were my 2nd year French courses, with from 4 – 12 students and with excellent profs from France, The French Centre where I hung out a lot, my 4th year Education Foundation courses, and doing volunteer work with the Chinese Student’s Society (CSS) doing cultural activities and dancing a lot. But I really felt like an outsider. Long story…I felt ‘ME’ and much more comfortable on all of the French Immersion studies I did. I suppose now at age 59 I became a francophile in the days I watched CBC’s ‘Chez Hélène’…unfortunately not much in the archives except for audio tapes…better than nothing.
One lunch hour, we found each other as we waited at the LRT Station at Calgary City Hall. With L. it was almost an ‘instant’ friendship that continues to grow for the past 37 years. L. also was the only engineering draftswoman in her department and was always surrounded by bevies of men during the coffee times when I first saw her. At the LRT Station When I invited her over to my parents place where I still lived, L. It’s also so good to speak to some of them only in Cantonese as I get to navigate another part of who I am. As I explained in my Master’s studies…integrating all the subject positions together-tomboy (meaning that I did not become the ‘Good Little Chinese Girl’ that my parents hoped for but a gregarious running around or cycling around the neighbourhood (and beyond with S. also named F.M. labelled by my dear paternal grandmother, hanging out with the all-occidental neighbourhood kids, Canadian of Chinese origin, Francophile, French Immersion teacher. One of them is a Chinese calligraphy expert and pens modern Chinese characters. My parents said that I am getting more proficient at writing but it’s very difficult for me to recognize the words as I don’t make enough time to practice.
…Spring weather here in Vancouver means that we can once again dine on our balcony…it’s like being in the country…and our view of P’s backyard when I am cooking in our kitchen…
The giant magnolia tree which I see from our Mt. Pleasant kitchen daily is starting to bloom again…loyally she blossoms yearly, probably more than 20 years. Akebono III, out front, is about to burst her pink buds. She’s been happy in her new location for 2 years now. However, so many people let their dogs spray her. We have to put up another kind of fence. My eyes avert to all the other buds bursting in this city. Lavender-coloured crocuses, snow drop crocuses, narcissus poke out their bright yellow bonnets…what lovely creations…it’s as if some ‘painter’ splashed them all over this neighbourhood and I can ‘drink them with my eyes’ on the way to school on my bike. The new bike lane in front of VGH is probably completed and it is a joy to ride adjacent to the cars…
M and I noshed another meal on our front balcony: atta whole wheat flour roti (instead of a mandarin pancake or a roti canai), a layer of hoisin sauce and some chilis which wrapped a mu shu vegetarian mixture: mung bean vermicelli, shiitake mushrooms, broccoli, julienned carrots, dried tofu sheets sliced, suey choy, ginger, garlic, white onions, scallions mixed, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and roasted black sesame seeds. We finished off PL’s carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and a bergamot tea. It was so freeing to put on my shorts and a tank top to soak in some rays. Taking Vitamin D pills is not the same as absorbing rays of sunshine on my skin that used to be tanned since France 2017 in Sète.
School finished well March 16…we return April 3rd. Some students shared their Spring Break plans and Easter celebrations…Joyeuses Pâques, Shabbat, Peter Rabbit, Prince of Egypt stories, Happy Nowruz…our worms from our ‘vermicompostage box’ were welcomed into P.S.’s home. On their second day in our class, when we lifted the lid, worms were starting to crawl out of their new home. Several students clamoured and said that we had to add more moisture to their home.
I am finally starting to let go of my work and learning to leave it at school. To balance my brain and my penchant to create today I sewed an infinity scarf made with bamboo knit striped magenta and turquoise for new mom, A.D. in Montreal. The scarf changes into a cover when she breast feeds. It’s really cute. With the same bamboo knit fabric I also sewed a pair of booties with a turquoise woven ribbon for ties and a pointy hat for the new babe, Z.A. We’ll get to see her in July as well meet M.A. flying over from Singapore. By then M.A. will be 7 months old by then. She has already flown to England 2x, Dubai and will be in Montreal for one month.
M. is getting ready for another walk on the Camino, starting from Le Puy-en-Velais. He’ll be away for 6 weeks. He is so organized and is really an expert trip planner. He just amazes me. I think he ought to publish his blog into book form.