Today December 2 is my father’s 70th birthday, a day he didn’t make it to. He always thought he would live till past 90 and I believe he would hadn’t he been a victim of circumstance.…
As I sit down at my desk to write you this note, it’s 11.21 AM here in the Pacific Northwest. The weather is mild for this time of the year, for summer and yet, the grass in the backyard is parched. From this brown and very dead meadow, hundreds and hundreds of dandelions (and creeping buttercups) are blooming as if to say, “beauty can come from anything”. Yes, they are a nuisance and a weed but ever since last year, they have become my friends. A metaphor for how fast life and seasons change. How everything – even when you cannot see it – holds beauty.…
“I’m a good cook,” she types on the blank screen before her. The wheels of uncertainty start to turn in her head. “Is it conceited to write that about *MYSELF* on *MY* own blog?” she wonders to herself. It had been a year since she’d found her way back into the kitchen. The familiar movements with which she whipped up everything from eggs to 3-layer biryani were rusty. Her confidence wasn’t any better. But she had to write this promising essay to convince herself that all these years of painstakingly making recipes, photographing them and then typing them on a computer weren’t all an illusion.
“Sigh,” she sighed.
Last year was not a good year for her creative work. She spent a lot of time in existential surgery. Reeling from the death of her father of 30 years, Edlyn wasn’t sure if anything made sense anymore. “If I say this in a post, will people think I’m milking this grief thing?” she asked the other Edlyn in her head. “Yes, everybody dies. You’re not special. Move on,” other Edlyn said. “Okay.” Backspace, backspace, backspace.
It was true nonetheless. In her father, she saw unlimited inspiration. He was a marvel in the kitchen. He rarely had time to teach Edlyn (or any of the other sisters) recipes but she always dreamt of making it happen somehow. That way, she could surely be an even better cook. Edlyn did not cook like her father. Firmly in the clean-as-you-go camp, she recently realised more of her cooking was inspired by her mother. She got her crankiness from her dad instead.
His death was something she needed to sit with. “It’s not an excuse!” she cried. He was taken from the family very suddenly. The gloom descended without so much as a doctor’s visit. His death was there laying in front of her. She had no other way out other than accepting it.
Imagine tastebuds altering, lying on the bed with her mind buzzing, new food intolerances appearing out of nowhere, feet swelling, making trips to the doctor with this feeling that something was seriously wrong with her. “I’m so sorry I keep coming here. I feel like I’m losing my mind,” she told one of the 4 physicians she had seen. Edlyn could not peek into their computers but she imagined they were typing “hypochondriac” as she spoke of her toes turning black or that lump in her breast that appeared and stayed. She refused to put her family through another layer of grief on year one. “That’s why I keep coming here,” she cleared it up with the doctor just in case they thought she liked this attention.
They never diagnosed the swollen toes, the no sleep problem turned into a too much sleep problem and the lumps in the breast were fibroadenomas for which there is no treatment except follow up ultrasounds/mammograms when prompted by the hospital. She lived happily ever after with bat signal in the form of a mild burning sensation on the lump during ovulation. FUN.
She needed to remind herself that she could still do this thing. Last year some of Edlyn’s famous homecooking came with pre-seasoning packets and concept clean-as-you-go was more like pile dishes high into one side of the sink and then move it to the other side when she wanted to fill the water filter. Considering these circumstances, why would she ever want to photograph a food blog post again? For fun?! People were terrible and her father was dead.
It had been a year though so she wanted to try. If not in the same way, then at least in a way that would honour her father’s memory and the way in which it painted how she conducted herself in the kitchen. Also, her ma LOVED her blog from the very beginning. She missed that connection they both shared. It had been hard to write about her feelings. She was worried she would hurt her family further by bringing up her dad. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“Baby steps,” she typed, “I am a good cook, but I need to remember why.” She was a product of two people who made eating a pleasure and writing and showing them they were an inspiration was a reason why this felt right. It can feel that way again, she thought.
Yesterday evening was spent in the company of my friend, who also goes by “Luna”. It was spent dog-sitting two puppies the entire week prior to that meeting so it was more than generous to get outside these walls and admist some female energy. She’s a good listener. She cares a lot to ask not just any questions but detailed questions that you would never have thought about yourself if it wasn’t for her curiosity. Eg, “where is your favourite place to sit when you go back home?”…
Flour, salt, yeast and water. I put the ingredients into the glass Pyrex bowl I usually use to start pizza dough in. I’ve made this recipes more times than I can remember. Last year and the year before that, it was an almost every Thursday night/Friday morning ritual for us. Sometimes he would heat the oven and assemble the pizzas in the cast iron pans before I got home from work and other times it was my task. With artichoke hearts. Check. Sausage. Check. Mozzarella. Not optional and hence, check and check. Some days the sauce was homemade but there was also enough room in our hearts for jars straight off the grocery shelves….
I got to visit one of my favourite cities last month. What felt like a dream is finally starting to sink in as reality. I got to meet a lot of nice people from way back (it’s weird that I can say that now about folks that aren’t my parents’ friends) and new people, that I can’t really consider as friends but it was nice to know them for a brief moment in time. …
I had more fun than I have ever had gardening this year. Although it’s November now, a lot of the hardier greens are still going strong and because it isn’t quite cold enough yet at night, I still have tender herbs as well. I’d love to show you every single thing (in DSLR beauty) that grew this year – edible and otherwise. However, you can check out my Instagram highlight “garden” and see whatever I post there (when I post)….
As of April 2018, I have started writing on three designated notebooks that have become portals to my emotions. They live in various parts of the house; places I walk in and out of during what has felt like an endless back and forth of “if I sit here, will I want to get back up?” I haven’t ended up sitting for long enough to write down the stories that have been dancing inside my head. Believe me, there are so many of them. Grief is a monster and self-preservation is one hell of a beast….
Since I’ve spoken about my dogs innumerable times on this blog over the years, I feel like I should tell you that one of them is no more. Little Chappie, the runt of his litter, died very suddenly and quickly on September 27, 2018. I spent a little time that afternoon updating his Rover profile (dog boarding/sitting website), feeling that sense of comfort one feels when they know a person so well. I wrote that he sometimes jumped on you when he first met you and that he took his own sweet time to eat and go potty. Now, I can’t get myself to delete any of it….
The season of summer always feels like a fight against time, a race to accomplish, a bucket list to tick off. I usually succumb to it all but not this year. This year my goal has been to take pleasure in the simple daily privileges I am afforded to grieve, to rejoice at growth and to discover what has always been in front of me. I have been lamenting (to myself) the lack of inspiration I have been feeling when it comes to food. The one thing I most relate to feels like a burden. I have so much respect for all the Vietnamese, Salvadorean, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Pakistani, Chinese and so many more immigrant-owned restaurants who work hard daily (and are forced) to keep their prices low so that I can feed myself without guilt from time to time. I have respect for them for various other reasons but this is a top one. Tip well, folks….