You can read Kim’s view here. She is the originator of the Success Challenge. Why don’t you have a go?
Flying has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. According to my mom, we were flying from Tokyo to Osaka to visit relatives before I could walk. Then the back and forth of being an expat kid followed by college in NY/ parents in Japan and my own nomadic life has meant that the way I see family is by first taking a very long plane ride. But all of a sudden, what I took for granted is no longer a sure thing. The volcanic ash didn’t affect me in the first round of chaos except in the happy form of seeing friends I would otherwise not have seen, but now it may keep me from seeing my family this summer. Add to this the fact that hubby is about to start a commuting life involving planes and I am wondering what will happen. I had to break the news to my mom this morning that we may not see them this summer. We’ve been getting together like this for a long time now, it’s the one opportunity my parents have to see all the grand kids together. As both my parents and the kids get older, I cherish every year thinking this may be our last year, as parents become slightly less mobile and kids develop more independent lives. I hope the ash clears soon and then my only worry will be where to stay.
I must admit, I’ve been feeling very harassed lately. My cooking classes, which are going well and so much fun to do, still require a lot of time. Add to it, a translation job with the exact same schedule as my classes, needing to plan for the summer, a quick weekend in NY possibly jeopardised by the BA strike, and the myriad of phone calls it takes to keep a life running smoothly and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. I make a quick strike to Waitrose to gather ingredients for tonight’s class and am tearing home. I pass a mother and little boy on the street. He’s probably about three, doing the running, skipping thing little boys do because their legs just don’t move fast enough for their liking. He’s also carrying on by himself because his mom’s on her phone as she walks. I try not to trip over him as I cross the street in my rush to get home. Then, I hear him say, “look mum, flowers”. I expected the mom to just acknowledge briefly or even ignore him, how often have I done that do my kids. But instead, she came to a dead stop, got down to his level and just matched his enthusiasm for how gorgeous the flowers were. I wanted to go over there and congratulate her for being a wonderful mother, but of course I continued on my way. It was a very little thing, but it made me stop and think, life is not about the grand gestures, but an accumulation of little moments. I know everyone says that, but I feel like I may have seen it first hand today. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I feel like my life was made just a little better for having been a witness to their love. A deep breath later, I am ready for the rest of my day filled with just a little more gratitude than this morning.
A new class today, my first class teaching veggies. I went for the more classic dishes figuring that there will be time later for the variations and the fusion things. So on the menu this evening was a spinach dish that I think most restaurants call spinach bundles because what else are you supposed to call them? Anyway, it only works if you get spinach with stems and bottoms, not the leaves in bags you get in the supermarket. So off I went to Chapel Market this morning to the veggie stall where just 2 weeks ago, I had purchased gorgeous bunches of spinach. No spinach?! Now I know nothing about the growing cycle of spinach, but none of the other stalls had it either, leading me to conclude that this is an off week for spinach. What we had this week were some gorgeous asparagus. So I bought some of that and am doing a dish with similar flavourings as the spinach dish. Of course I had printed out the recipe already, so I had to come home and print the asparagus recipe and swap it around. To make matters more interesting, I am also doing a tofu dish. Well, the recipe I worked out uses the Cauldron tofu. I should have known when I bought the last two packages last week that something was up. They have repackaged their brand and the tofu no longer comes in the same weight it used to. Not only that, they only had one package left at Waitrose, not nearly enough for what I need. So I went to the Asian food store in Chapel Market and bought what looks like the largest block of tofu I have ever seen. Crisis narrowly averted but I do wish people wouldn’t go and change weights when they repackage, most inconvenient. All this and class hasn’t even started. Not to mention the excitement of having the fridge stop working for a couple of hours last night. As my friend A says, “mercury in retrograde”. Hope it’s over soon.
I have a new profile photo. Now, I think I photograph really badly. But my friend who took my photo today said something really interesting. She said no woman including models she knows has ever said they like their photo. I know what I look like when I look in the mirror. But I usually look to check out an outfit or to look at some part of my face close up. So what is it about a photo that makes you look different from the mirror? My thought is that maybe that’s what I look like to the rest of the world..
So after my friend took my photo and sent it to me, I looked at it as I usually do and thought, “oh why didn’t I notice the sweater was crooked, my hair’s messy, do I really smile like that”, the usual stuff that leads me to conclude that that is in fact a bad likeness of me. But today, I took a step back and tried to look at it objectively. Then I could appreciate that it was a good photo and probably not a bad likeness. So while it doesn’t coincide with the mental image I have of myself, I can accept that perhaps this is the way I look in real life.
Here it is
May 5 is Boys’ Day in Japan. It is a day when various good luck items are displayed in the hopes that the boys will grow up to be healthy and prosperous. Even though my boy is almost 18, I thought I would put his display up today. My parents bought this for him when he was born and from the leaflet that came along with the set (because how would I know what goes where without it) it is traditionally something that the wife’s family does for the boy. According to the literature, I was supposed to have put it out mid April and it really needs to be put away mid May at the latest. Well, I’m going to take some liberties and leave it out for the month of May so that all my students who come for class can see it.
As you can see from the photo, it is a helmet, sword, bow and arrow. There are more elaborate ones involving the entire suit of armour, but my mom liked the simplicity of the helmet and the workmanship. These items are meant to defend the boy against accidents, illness and other misfortunes on the road to growing up. Maybe it will bring good luck for my son on his A levels, you never know.
We went out to dinner this evening. It was at the home of a woman we’d never met. It was our first experience with the underground gourmet movement. Our friends C and E suggested we try this out. The way it works is, you sign up and pay online, you are sent the address of the venue, you turn up and they feed you. Once you get there, you find out what’s on the menu. It was lots of fun, we met some lovely people and had a really good time. The food was all really delicious, it’s amazing that she was able to cook for 35-40 people on her Aga and do it well. It was an around the world menu, starting with pasta, with a mains of Thai and ending with kulfi. Somehow it all worked together and tasted great. I can’t imagine the work that went into it. But the end result was very professional and well organised. They had a rice cooker malfunction but managed to cope with style.
We are going to see whose house we can go to next. Thanks C and E for a lovely evening.
I changed the photo on top, is it creepy? Should I got back to the other one? I would love some of your thoughts.