Of Leaves And Jealousy

Beloved’s sister has decided that we must live out in the middle of nowhere with no easy way to get to a grocery store. Or maybe she hasn’t decided that, but it’s the story I’m telling and sticking to. I have no other way to explain how we ended up with several large boxes tea from Beloved’s home city. I mean large boxes. As in it will take us a long time to drink it all up. And that’s if we drink it all day every day.

She also sent us local condiments to enjoy on homemade bread or such. So if a storm should come along and we are trapped in the house for a long time we at least have condiments and tea. I’m sure we can survive on that. No, seriously it was sweet of her to send it and Beloved adores getting packages from home.

I just wish she had spaced it out a little better so that I wouldn’t feel like I’m up to my eyeballs in tea and condiments and no place to store it all. I fear that they will find my body underneath an avalanche of tea and jars. It’s not exactly how I’d like to go if you know what I mean. But Beloved reasons that at least then the responders would have access to refreshments before they cart my corpse off. Always thoughtful that way, so he is.

And yes, truth be told I am a bit jealous of him. No one sends me food from home, mostly because of rules and regulations. It isn’t easy to get the food I want here. So yes jealousy has me a bit green, but at the same time, there surely is a shelf life to tea right?

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The Boy In The Pictures

There is a picture, a rare on at that, of Beloved when he was a young child. He has a smile on his face and a bit of a glint in his eye. In one of his small hands he is holding a thin slice of cake. On the back of the photo is just this tiny scrap of writing: “Birthday celebration”.

I’m not sure if it is his birthday being celebrated or if he is just helping someone else celebrate a birthday. He can’t be any older than five in this picture, and when I asked him, he has no recollection of it having been taken or who’s birthday it was. I’ve asked his older siblings, but no one knows for sure who’s birthday it was.

The only thing that has been confirmed for me is that very few pictures from Beloved’s childhood exist. Mostly because by the time he came onto the scene his parents were busy with other children and in his mother’s case, multiple jobs. And in his father’s case, a very strong relationship was being formed with alcohol. By the time Beloved was in his early teens his father was lost to him and his mother was briefly stopping for a few moments rest or a little food before heading off to another job.

This rare picture of him haunts me. I want to gather up that little boy and offer him several large, colorful cakes to do with as he wishes. I want him to have a whole bunch of silly, frivolous presents to enjoy, just because he’s young.

Of course, he isn’t that little boy any longer. He has grown up into a man who learned early on that birthdays might not result in presents, or even a slice of cake. He has grown into a man who celebrates his special days with loved ones and friends, considering this to be the best gift he can have. He has grown into a man who will treat friends and loved ones to incredible meals and cakes just because he now can. He has grown into a man who never forgets to wish someone well, to offer up sincere well wishes for their special day.

And he is the man for whom I have bought Lego, a remote-control car and a dirt bike. All because he couldn’t have them when he was young, there simply wasn’t the means for them. So this year, as always, I asked him what he wanted for his birthday and he responded with “the food from my childhood”.

And so, this year I set out on a quest, a quest to try to recreate the food from his childhood. Oh, I know I won’t get exactly right. Some of the ingredients are beyond my grasp and his mother’s technique is not mine. Still I shall try to give him that for his birthday, and waiting in the wings will be a frivolous present and fancy cake, just because.

Humble, Simple Beginings

A bit of water, a handful of barley, some peeled and thinly sliced apples along with a dash of cream.  A bit of sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice.  He stirred and left it all to cool before calling it just complete.  It was, he promised me, far more delicious all pulled together than it sounded.

Of course he added heavy cream, a splash of whiskey and a dash of cinnamon before serving me any of this creation.  It was, as he put it, a simple and humble treat that was slightly jazzed up.  He said it reminded him of his childhood, slightly altered to a more adult set of tastes.

The four-footed one was pager to give it a try, but neither of us were inclined to share with her.  She settled for homemade dog bone while I tried his childhood flavors minus the whiskey.  It was, I must say, surprisingly good considering what was in it.

Beloved occasionally makes flavors from his childhood, ways with a warning about how humble or simple it will be.  As if I need a reminder or even care that it’s of simple ingredients.  What I do are care about, is that he chooses to share it with me.  That he takes the time to make it for me.  Because how else can you share your childhood with another when you’ve grown up in different circumstances in different countries?

Mmmm Cookies

Peanut butter.  Oatmeal.  Eggs.  Flour. Sugar.  The beginning of cookies.  And I confess I was looking forward to them.  Until Beloved added fresh parsley, mint and some chicken stock.  At that point I no longer wanted his cookies. Which was fine with him because they weren’t for me, they were for the four-footed one.

He promised me chocolate raspberry sandwich cookies.  Just not today.  He also planned on making butter cookies.  Again not today.  Today was cookies for the dog and scones.  The scones, he assured me, were for us.

When he had finished making his creations the kitchen was nice and warm and smelled interesting.  The four-footed one decided to stay in the kitchen to find the source of the smell.  She was willing o accept a scone, but the cookies he made for her were clearly what she wanted.  And she wanted them now.  Waiting for them to cool was apparently akin to absolute torture and was down under great protest.

If I had to wait for the scones to cool completely I might have felt the same as she did.  But I managed to get a warm scone with Devonshire cream and some fresh strawberries.  Beloved managed to find a way to squeeze some scone in with his Devonshire cream.  He even managed a few slices of strawberry.  To him a scone is simply the means of conveying the cream into his mouth.  Only because I frowned at him when he ate it in a spoon.  Straight out of the jar.

Once her cookies were cooled the four-footed one happily munched away, the wait all but forgotten.  They smelled of nothing but peanut butter.   And since she’d gladly eat peanut butter right out of the job jar they were obviously a hit with her.  Just as Beloved used the scone as a means to eat the cream, the dog used the cookies as a means of eating peanut butter.

I will wait, somewhat impatiently for my cookies.  They’d better be coming soon or I shall have to remind Beloved of his promise.  And I may remind him the sandwiches cookies require cream! 😉

Yard Work

The four-footed one decided to help with yard work today.  Not all of what was being done, just the things st struck her fancy.  Such as raking the leaves.  And pulling up of plants.

She started by running around and playing with her ball.  She ignored the work being done as well as the workers.  It wasn’t until the plants were being pulled up that she became interested.  I think it was the noises Beloved was making at first that caught her attention.  The smells of freshly uprooted plants probably kept her attention.  And watching the dirt fall, the worms wiggle and such had her fully immersed in wanting to help.  And by help I mean she wanted to jump into the holes that were made.  She also was interested in help move the plants.  She happily grabbed them to drag throughout the yard.

She was having a ball with this, until  she discovered raked leaves.  In a pile.  Waiting to be picked up.  A pile that cannot be ignored.  A pile that must be investigated and rolled through.  A pile that could not be picked up fast enough to avoid being spread back all over the ground.

With each stroke of the rake to gather up the spread leaves, she would go back through those leaves.  Tossing some of them up in the air, letting others get caught in her fur.  Suddenly raking was taking three times  as long and frankly I was wondering if there would be an end in sight.  There was, when she grew tired and decided to curl up in the weak sunshine and have a nap.

She slept through the rest of the raking and pulling.  She slept through the bags being tied and placed by the bin.  She slept through the putting away of shovels and rakes. She woke up when all the boring work was done, ready to go in and have a treat.  Because yard work is hard work.

Fine Dinning And Fine Conversation

While having a lovely meal with some friends, I couldn’t resist asking one of my friend’s what happens to all the cosmetic fillers people put in their bodies after the person has died.  What I wanted to know is if there would be proof long after a person was deceased that said person had used fillers.

Now a brief aside here, all of my friends are used to these odd questions, typically posed while we are sharing food and/or drink.  In other words it wasn’t completely out of the ordinary and everyone, well other than Beloved, was okay with this question.  Beloved was repulsed by the question.  Mostly because he had been enjoying his food and does not want to think of decay while he is eating.  I know, he is odd.

I am still waiting for an answer to this question, by the way, as my friend didn’t know.  But she promised to check with a few other doctors who do that work more than she does.

And this one, innocent question I posed lead to a most delightful conversation about what to do when you don’t know a loved one’s wishes after s/he has been deceased.  My doctor friend causally tossed out the fact that bodies are never released to families any longer, instead just funeral homes etc.  The reason being is that some people would not deal with the remains appropriately.  She shared stories with us about people who basically lived with their deceased relatives, unembalmed etc. for years.

By this point Beloved was no longer interested in eating and so he pointed out that in some cultures, those who aren’t “afraid of growing old or dying”, have ceremonies where they bring their deceased relatives out each year.  Mostly bones of course, but still.

It was around this point the waiter came and asked us if we were finished, not because the restaurant was busy or because we were loud, but rather because he disliked the conversation.  So we paid our bills and left, heading to my friend’s house for coffee and such and to carrying no the conversation.  We also made a note that we wouldn’t be dinning at that establishment again because we were a bit miffed with the waiter.  Although Beloved did point out that the conversation wasn’t one to inspire ones appetite.

So She Danced

The leaves were dancing on the cool wind today.  And so the four-footed one went dancing as well. Dancing after the leaves and perhaps as an effort to stay warm in the wind.  I was along for the ride so to speak.

It was a complicated dance, changing pace and movements rapidly almost on a whim.  The four-footed one seemed to understand the intricate steps as if she had been an understudy just waiting for the moment to step into the light.  And in her moment in the light, she danced with passion and wild abandonment.  To be honest I was a bit jealous of her, just a bit because I was also tired from the journey.

And like all individuals caught up in a passion, the four-footed one could not be denied her time.  Nor the duration of the dance.  She stopped only when the dance was finished  or in our case the wind stopped dancing with the leaves.  And when that moment came, the four-footed one sat down to rest.  And refused to move another step, leaving me with two options: drag her home or carry her.

Obviously I carried her home, even though I was tired enough that I wondered what would take less energy.