Against better judgment, I am taking a few minutes to write a little, so I don’t miss today’s post. I haven’t been this busy in a while, and I welcome the change. The only entertaining thing I did today was watching a televised program put on by the Pacific Symphony–orchestra of Orange County. It wasn’t my beloved Los Angeles Philharmonic, but it was a beautiful program, and I called my mom so that my parents could watch it too. It’s no match for the live concerts, but it’ll have to do while the live performances resume.
If I had more time, I would write about the memories brought on by each piece performed. Instead, I will list my favorite excerpts of larger works they performed: Moonlight Sonata; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5; Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4; Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme by Paganini.
Thankfully, I feel I was more productive at work today, but not quite to the level I would like to be. I really think I need to start going to bed earlier and working out regularly. I’ve been neglecting my health lately in terms of physical activity.
I deleted all social media apps from my phone for lent to challenge myself. Today, however, I gave in to temptation and downloaded TikTok. I spent about an hour scrolling through video after video. I came across a lot of funny material that gave me some good laughs. Ultimately though, it added very little value to my day, so I need to atone for my lack of willpower and keep myself away from there for a while longer.
This week will definitely be far busier for me, and I hope to use that to drive me into my high productivity gear for the rest of the week. This time, I am armed with a few tools to boost my productivity. One is that the weather is nice enough where I can work outside for part of the day. I tried it today for about an hour, and the change in scenery and the fresh air helped me focus on a report I was working on. The other tool is a new espresso machine I bought myself. I had a sixteen-year-old machine that my sister gave to me that finally gave up on me and a new machine given to me that seemed never to have worked quite well. So I decided to buy a new one that can make different coffees like cappuccinos, lattes, and espressos with the touch of a button, from producing the espresso to frothing the milk.
Anyway, I’ll end my post here and decide whether I should go to sleep after this or push a little more until 1 a.m. to squeeze in a little bit of extra work.
I want to avoid the patterns of last week and set out to be more productive this week in my work duties, household chores, and fitness. I’ve been reflecting on why I felt my productivity level was low last week. I think it correlates with my lower level of physical activity and staying up later at night. I really need to start getting in the habit of creating a to-do list that I review constantly. I’ve used variations of a to-do list in the past, and I know that they work. I just need to stop being lazy.
This weekend was the first in a while that was warm enough to feel like Spring in California. Some may say we have no seasons, but if you live here long enough and are attentive to nature, you will come to love the subtle changes of our seasons. The weather this weekend was such that the temperature was absolutely perfect if you sat in the shade. The gentle breeze was neither slightly warm nor slightly cool. Take a deep breath in, and you can smell the subtle scents of blossoms everywhere. For some, this may cause incessant sneezing due to all the pollen; however, I am blessed with no allergies. It was so lovely I was filling more than just my lungs of fresh air. It was the scent of new life.
We were in a coastal farm region north of Los Angeles to look for fresh vegetables and especially strawberries. We’re about a month away from the peak of strawberry season. Still, the ones that have ripened early are already so deliciously sweet. The taste of freshly picked strawberry that has fully ripened on the field is quite extraordinary. Soft and sweet, unlike the sometimes crunchy and tart ones during the off-season.
No restaurant decor will ever match eating outside with the sky as your ceiling. I kept hearing the endless chirping and twitter above me. There were so many little birds in a pine tree that was shading our table. I imagined them having something like an Ewok Village on the forest moon of Endor. The deciduous trees nearby were starting to leave their dormant state and sprouting new bright green leaves. The opportunity to see it as an optimistic symbol of a better future for our world was not lost upon me.
Finally, with all of this springtime weather and sunshine throughout the weekend, I think even the weather app was in disbelief. On Sunday evening, my phone briefly showed it as drizzling and a thirty percent chance of precipitation later that evening. There was not a single cloud in sight for as far as the eye could see: only a bright blue sky as far as the eye could see.
A few days ago, I wrote a post without any pictures. I must have been so exhausted and preoccupied with other things that I completely forgot a photo I had taken earlier that day. It was a chilly early afternoon and overcast. My favorite kind of day and perfect for a run/walk. As I was outside, I noticed the trees starting to bloom! I did briefly think of the beautiful sakura in that faraway land that I love. However, what made it so special was that last time things were starting to flower, the world went into lockdown, and their blooms stood in stark contrast to what was emerging across the globe. This time when I look on upon these blooms, I see a symbol of hope and the promise of a better world. So here is the picture that I cannot believe I forgot to post.
With yesterday’s post in mind, I focused on minimizing distractions and felt satisfied with the amount of work I could get done for a Friday. There are two things I was working on today that could be improved by creating a checklist for myself to ensure efficiency and uniformity going forward.
After work, we had Korean Barbecue for dinner. The most noteworthy part of the dinner for me was the cold noodles towards the end. I’ve had different types of cold noodles in the past, but these were the first I’ve had that were truly cold: as in there was ice in the broth. The flavor was slightly sweet and unique. It was a little strange for me to have soup with ice in it, but I would have it again.
I like to write about when I’m feeling productive and when things go great because I put in the hard work. However, it is also important to note the times when you don’t quite meet your expectations.
The last few days, I haven’t been as focused and productive as I strive to be. I tend to procrastinate most when I have a lighter workload and no crazy deadlines. It seems counterintuitive, but that’s my nature. So this week, I could have used the extra time to catch up on routine land lesser tasks. Instead, I spent time looking up random stuff on the internet and reading a bunch of articles. To top it all off, I even exercised far less than I did last week. So I’m ready to write these last few days off and wake up tomorrow with a renewed focus.
In one of my moments of procrastination, I spent more time than I am willing to admit looking at small towns in Northern California that I’d like to visit someday. I found a few places along beautiful highways that I’d like to eventually see on a road trip. It got me longing for a nice vacation exploring California.
In another moment, I found a way to repair a keyboard cover for an older 9-inch iPad I rarely use now. It works perfectly fine, and now that the keyboard cover stays on, I have a very portable device for my light typing needs. In fact, I am using it now to write this post. It still amazes me to think of all the money I wasted buying one device after another in pursuit of the latest and greatest.
Writing about Kintsugi got me thinking about Japan, which isn’t challenging to get me to do. So when I was browsing through the websites of local opera companies and orchestras, I inevitably ended up watching Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. To say I became a little nostalgic would be an understatement. I can hardly wait to be back inside an opera house or a concert hall, but it looks like that won’t be happening until Autumn later this year. I hope that one day I meet a friend who shares the same passion for opera that I have the way the former Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Antonin Scalia shared a love of opera.
I have been keeping the fragments of a broken ceramic pumpkin for over a year just stored away. It’s a pumpkin I painted, so it’s special to me. When I shattered it, I was already saddened about ruining my little work of art and couldn’t bear to toss out the fragments like any piece of trash. So I kept it, not knowing what I was going to do with it. It sat forgotten for months until I came across an article about Kintsugi.
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of mending broken pottery. The fragments are joined together with a lacquer sprinkled or dusted with powdered gold and occasionally other metals such as silver. I became fascinated by this art form because it takes a defect and turns it into something beautiful. It got me thinking about how in life, we are continually pressured to make things perfect and want to hide all defects at whatever cost. We often hide the parts of our lives we see as shattered or fragmented because we feel ashamed. What if instead we metaphorically apply the art of Kintsugi? We mend those fragments and defects with powdered gold. The scars of that shattered or fragmented part of ourselves are highlighted with gold, and you end up with a unique work of art that has a history to it. It tells a story and is not ashamed.
So I took my fragments out of storage and have begun to piece them together. As I work to piece my pumpkin back together, I think about what fragments in my life I can mend together with some gold.
In recent years, you hear a lot about “farm to table” when it comes to restaurants marketing that they use the freshest possible ingredients. I’m always suspicious of these marketing terms because you have to be careful between what a term means and what a consumer’s likely assumptions are. Businesses will be on you making an assumption and not thinking about what they mean. Do you know what cage-free, free-range, and pasture-raised chickens mean? When I think of “farm to table,” I picture the vegetables and fruits being rushed into a restaurant after being handpicked that same day. Since all vegetables and fruits probably originated on a farm and eventually end up on a table, isn’t pretty much all food “farm to table”? I haven’t researched what it means legally, but I suspect it’s a relatively loosely defined term.
I can confirm that the yam leaves in the picture are “yard to table”. We picked these yams leaves from a friend’s yard and cooked them the very next day. Until recently, I had no idea you could eat yam leaves. I thought you were only supposed to eat the yams and then discard the rest of the plant. Yum, yam leaves!