Archive for February 2011

Comfort food

February 28, 2011

I had the most satisfying dinner for the first time in two weeks. Nothing special. It was just vegetables, egg and rice which I whipped up quickly.

It took me about two weeks to properly recover from jet-lag. Well, enough to feel I had the focus and energy to get on with stuff and not just merely mope around like a zombie. This took a while because not only did I have to get myself back into the British timezone, I also had to help Lucien get over his jet-lag and into a routine. (It’s a nightmare trying to keep a desperately exhausted baby awake so he can adjust to the timezone).

And because we had so much to deal with, I was left with no energy to cook. Because believe it or not, cooking actually requires a lot of concentration and alertness, and the last thing you want to do when you feel drop-dead tired, is to chop up ingredients, stand over a hot stove and do piles of washing up after. So for the first week or so when we got back to Wales, we existed mainly on freezer food, cartons of soup, toast, instant noodles and cereal.

I gradually found some strength left at the end of each day to make pasta and my own soup, but I think yesterday was the first time since we got back that I thoroughly enjoyed a meal. It could be all that starch from the perfectly cooked rice, or the stir-fried vegetables which I made with a packet of expired spicy ginger and fermented bean sauce I found in the cupboard and the strips of courgettes scrambled with three large free-range eggs.

As I was drifting to sleep, I took a deep breath in and I could still smell my cooking in the air. Garlic, onion, ginger, fermented bean, wok hei. For once I didn’t mind my home smelling like a Chinese restaurant. It smelled of home.

Weather update

February 24, 2011

Dull and Damp. I don’t think I’ve read a more depressing weather forecast.

On the other hand, snowdrops are out, which means Spring’s on its way!


February 23, 2011

The truth is perhaps there was very little anybody could have done. She died within minutes. The irony though is she lived next to a nurse, we were all home but her mother’s soft knocks on the door were inaudible. Why the hell didn’t she bang down our front door, we don’t know. It’s too late for that. We only found out something serious had happened when our tenant came by to pay the rent. She too knocked. Not loudly, but loud enough for us to hear. Loud enough is all you need.

When we opened the door we saw the ambulance and an official-looking white car. A man in plain clothes entered the house with ID hanging from a lanyard around his neck. I didn’t have a good feeling, and something told me it wasn’t the elderly lady I should be worried about. It was her middle-aged daughter whom we have never seen leaving the house. She was severely depressed and reclusive.

I was right. Her mother was upset but relatively calm as she told us that her daughter had a seizure and passed away. We felt dreadful that we were around all that time and R could have started chest compressions had we heard her gentle knocks. We tried to think what we were doing: the telly was turned on but the volume was low, I was cooking my lunch and R was feeding Lucien. So how on earth did we not hear anything?

The funeral director’s black Ford pulled up outside shortly after 3pm. I watched the same two men in black suits who came for my mother-in-law a year ago emerge from the vehicle and this time, headed for the house next door. I wondered who would they would be calling in next. If they came to us, would we be ready? Nobody is ever ready to meet an undertaker, I don’t think.

As it turns out, February is not a good month. My mother-in-law left us last February, it’s my auntie-in-law’s funeral today and my neighbour died on Monday. Whether or not one had time to bade goodbye or was taken suddenly, the outcome is always the same. They leave the living grieving.

No matter how prepared one is for death, there is always so much for the living to do. When do/should you start packing up his/her room? What do you do with the belongings? What do you do with the assets? What are the forms you need to fill in? Who are the people you need to inform?

Going is easy. It’s staying that’s hard.

She was only 46.

Are you the one?

February 12, 2011

I think the idea of finding THE ONE is over-hyped. If you ask me, I’d say there is no such thing as ‘the right one’. There is instead, more of a thing as ‘the one at the right time’. When E got married, I shared my honest thoughts with her. I said, any man could be the one, if the timing is right.

What hurts the most, is finding the one at the wrong time. And to that, I admire those who able to harden their hearts and move on, rather than continuing something which will eventually lead to nothing. I literally felt my heart twinge when my Spanish ex-colleague told me her story. While working with us in Wales, she met her boyfriend. A Welshman very much Welsh at heart. She lived in Wales with him for two years but the dreary weather, the incessant gloomy days, perpetual grey skies, relentless wintry showers and rainy summers got to her. And even though he was the one, she made the choice to move back to Spain. Because he wouldn’t want to leave Wales and she couldn’t bear another dreadful winter away from family. I admired her courage and decisiveness. Because doing the right thing always hurts so bad and she actually had the guts to do it. She said, “I want to have children and how long am I going to wait for him?”

And what is my point exactly? We have construed in our minds fantasies and expectations of ‘the one’. These do not lead us closer to finding ‘the one’. If anything, they create dissatisfaction and take you further away from finding happiness. We will find ‘the one’ when we have no intention to look for ‘the one’. Love makes the sparks but respect makes it last.

There. That’s some weekend zen for thought.


February 5, 2011

How refreshing to know there are still skilled cobblers (not they are not elves who live in fairytales, they are real people!) who are dedicated to creating lovingly made shoes. Imagine slipping into a pair of shoes where you actually KNOW the person who made them. a.b.k in New York is a wonderful find. via Sarah’s Loft.


February 3, 2011

It doesn’t matter if it is the Year of the Cat (due to a translation error in Vietnam) or Year of the Rabbit. What matters is that we usher in the new year with health and happiness. It’s pointless wishing for anything else because without the two Hs, how are we able to achieve anything?


February 2, 2011