Once the rain stopped and I felt pretty confident that there would be no rain for at least the next hour, I decided to venture outside for a 3-mile walk. The air was chilly and the air was refreshingly crisp and smelled of wet earth. Due to my travel bug lately I again found myself imagining myself in a faraway land. I came across this flowering tree and I thought of Kyoto and its Sakura. On both of my trips to Kyoto I encountered rain during my long walking explorations of the city and its many temples. Since there weren’t much sounds along my walk, I started listening to music for Shakuhachi–a Japanese flute that is traditionally made of bamboo and has five holes. I then more specifically imagined myself walking mindfully along the Philosopher’s Path and reflecting upon my life.
It was cold and raining, and we even got a bit of hail today. I kept going outside to feel the hail hit me and to touch the accumulating hail. It’s not often you see white stuff accumulating on the ground in Los Angeles, so today was special. It felt like I was somewhere else, but I had no particular place in mind. Later in the day, we got some sushi to bring home, and I imagined myself in snowy Sapporo.
I’ve never been to that part of Japan, but pictures of this region look spectacular. Hopefully, one day I can visit during the winter. I know Sapporo is well known for its beer, but since I’m not a beer person, I had some sake that I bought a few weeks ago. It can seem silly to pretend, even if only to yourself, that you’re in some faraway land, but I find it quite entertaining and relaxing. Perhaps, I’ve been reading too much lately, and everything seems to be a story to me.
I came across a series on Netflix called the Surgeon’s Cut and started watching it while working on some other tasks. The first episode was interesting enough to make me want to watch the rest of the series. As soon as I started watching the second episode, “Sacred Brain,” I knew I had to put down what I was doing and focus entirely on it. I loved this episode so much that I started telling people that they needed to watch this episode and put everything else on pause.
I will refrain from disclosing any significant spoilers and simply tell you that it is about a man born in Mexico who crossed illegally into the United States at 19 not speaking a word of English, and within seven years of picking fruit as a farmworker went on to attend Harvard Medical School. Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa is now a world-renowned brain surgeon who is the chair of neurosurgery at the Mayo Clinic. In doing some more research on him, I came across an autobiography he wrote and discovered that there is a movie about him in the works. I have ordered the book and hope to read it soon!
I didn’t prep any complicated recipes today requiring lots of veggie chopping, but I still managed to have a little fun with my new cleaver. It is a little strange that I am starting to look forward to eating vegetables, given my long reluctance to incorporate more vegetables into my diet. I am particularly excited to integrate vegetables of many different colors. Today was my first time eating purple cauliflower. The taste wasn’t any different from regular white cauliflower, as far as I could tell, but the color was beautiful. The purple color comes from the antioxidant anthocyanin. I did a quick blanching before briefly stir-frying it with garlic, and the boiling water instantly turned a deep royal purple color.
I’m glad today’s food was healthy because the bathroom scale was not kind to me this morning. I guess I was not on my best behavior in terms of diet and exercise this weekend. Instead of getting discouraged, I needed to be proactive about mitigating the slight weight increase. So I finally decided to try out Apple Fitness+’s other workouts besides the “time to walk” ones I’ve been doing. I was tempted to browse through the many exercises but instead opted to start with beginner ones since (let’s be honest) it’s been a long time since I’ve been physically active. The first workout I did was 10 minutes and made me break a sweat. I enjoyed it, and with the weight measurement from this morning still on my mind, I decided to try the next one on the list. The following 20 minutes had me breathing a little heavier and my heart rate going up. I was impressed with this part of Fitness+, and I will be living in beginner land for the time being while I get my body used to being active again.
We went from Seoul last night to Jianyang in Sichuan Province for some delicious hot pot. If only it were possible at the moment to travel like that. The food was delicious, but I never able to imagine myself in actual China. The outdoor mall was all too familiar to allow that to happen. The weekends are the only time available to eat out at restaurants, but I don’t mind this because I look forward to cooking a lot during the week.
In between exploring different restaurants, most of our weekends are spent buying ingredients from various grocery stores (regular, Asian, and Mexican), farmers’ markets, and an actual farm. It seems strange that I was never the person who would care about where ingredients came from, how foods were grown, or even how different vegetables were prepared. I spent a pretty penny going to the finest restaurants and never fully appreciated the fine details of how those dishes were sourced and prepared. Now that I cook far more than ever before, I find that perfectly ripened strawberry far more interesting than the most delicate pastry. It is nothing short of miraculous when you think about where that strawberry came from and what went into growth over many weeks.
Take these eggs, for example, the natural color variation is spectacular, and they come from pasture-raised chickens from a farm in Malibu. They’re supposed to be more nutritious, and it’s good to know you’re contributing towards more humane methods of raising chickens. I can’t wait to try these eggs in the coming week.
We didn’t just walk away with a dozen eggs from the farmers’ market. We also stocked up on a bunch of veggies we were unable to get from the farm. With all of these veggies, I was eager to be back at home and wait for what I ordered for myself the night before.
After watching quite a few cooking shows during the pandemic, I’ve developed some kitchen steel envy, particularly when it comes to cleavers. I have a decent set of knives, but it doesn’t include a cleaver. Last night I finally decided to order a vegetable cleaver that was highly rated on Amazon. I opened the box laid eyes upon my beautiful new knife (I removed the blade protector for the picture). I took the handle in my right arm and loved how balanced it felt in my hand and then very lightly ran my left thumb perpendicular to the blade. It felt very sharp, and when I gave it a try on some veggies…holy moly, was it sharp! This knife isn’t expensive, but of good quality for my current skills.
I love being in places where I don’t know the language, and fortunately, I live in a city where I easily find these places without traveling abroad. This evening I was at my favorite Korean restaurant, where the only English I heard was while taking the food order. Sitting outside under the strings of light bulbs, I could imagine myself on the other side of the pacific without even closing my eyes. Everything in this restaurant, from the Beef Bone soup with tendons and tripe to the Soon Tofu, tastes like a home-cooked meal never meant for Western palettes. Instead of thinking that it’s been a year since indoor dining was forbidden in Los Angeles, I imagine myself in a Seoul night market where I stopped by after work on a chilly night to warm myself up with some soup. The three ladies working in the restaurant steel glances at the television inside that is tuned to the local Korean channel. I remember paying attention to that television before Covid and not understanding a word of what was going on: I would simply smile when I’d see these ladies smile or laugh.
After devouring our dinner, my fantasy of being somewhere in Seoul continued inside the Korean supermarket next door. I very much enjoy looking at all the packages and trying to figure out what they are. Eventually, it’s time to get back in the car and end my fantasy as the car made its way down the familiar road back home.
I am only just now realizing that this is my 300th day of attempting this daily writing. Even though it has not been perfect as I have skipped a few here and there, I’m surprised I kept up with it this long.
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. Her bright eyes are intent. Her eager body quivers. Suddenly she begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, her legs carrying her faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….
I’m writing this a few days after the fact because on this day our family’s beloved German Shepherd passed away. We’ve been all deeply saddened by the loss of this member of the family. I haven’t had the heart to write about her, but I expect to soon.