I used to only like winter because of all the exciting weather that happens that time of year. Keep in mind that I’m in California, so our winters are mild enough to be enjoyable. Now that I’m getting older, I find myself enjoying the rest of the seasons more and more. I am thoroughly enjoying Spring this time instead of seeing it merely as a slow, painful transition to longer and warmer days. It is spectacular to see leaves sprouting and flowers blossoming all around.
Here are two flowers from my mom’s garden that she proudly wanted to show me. I’ll need to take pictures of her orchids in the coming weeks. She’s got a few flowering now and lots more on the way.
I’ve been perusing travel blogs partly to satiate my desire to travel and partly to learn about what makes the good ones great. Many are just a lot of photos or videos sprinkled with brief descriptions and descriptions of the emotions these places evoke. My tendency with these is to look at the pictures and then research the destinations that are elsewhere. The ones that grabbed my attention were those that incorporate some history and then find ways to make the place personal. The pictures didn’t have to be great. I was drawn to the words above all.
Every day I feel increasingly inclined to dedicate some serious time to post about traveling. I am most excited to post about my favorite places, but I think I need to crawl before I run. I need to get in the habit of writing these travel posts and start with the lesser know and lower-profile places. Then as I build my confidence level, I can begin to draft posts for my favorite destinations.
I have been wasting a lot of time lately looking at computers and accessories. I look at the MacBook Airs and try to convince myself that it’s just what I will need once I start traveling again and that it will be the key to becoming a travel blogger. I talk myself out of it by telling myself most of my computing is done at home, and I can hold off on a new laptop. Then I start looking at the newly released iMacs and how cool it would be to have a desktop again. My laptop works just fine, and I know better than to go out and buy a new computer. Perhaps a nice 4K monitor isn’t too much to ask for! Ugh, I’m hopeless! There’s no denying I am addicted to gadgets, but I’m proud of myself for resisting every temptation thus far.
Ultimately I need to remind myself that a good writer needs only a pen and paper. The important thing is just to write and write a lot.
In an attempt to find inspiration for this post, I started to look through my photos and spent about an hour scrolling through my photos. I have so many! In the end, I did not choose any for today, but instead I’m brainstorming some ideas on how to make a few posts about these photos. It seems like a daunting project, but I would like to eventually have a few of these photos accompanies by my notes and memories as a keepsake for years to come.
I was unable to catch up on my posts yesterday, so I continue to be one day behind. However, I had an excellent reason why I had little time to sit down and write two posts: I made Pozole!
I have heard it said that in order to truly appreciate what you have at home, you go on a journey and experience new things. On the culinary front, I have enjoyed trying so many different cuisines and never really gave Mexican food much thought. After journeying through the foods of different cultures, I am now returning to the food that I grew up with with a renewed appreciation. So I felt inspired to cook something from my culture from scratch. Specifically, I was looking to cook something more traditional and less commercialized. Tacos, Burritos, and any other saucy, cheesy thing that might be served alongside a blob of rice and beans were therefore disqualified. In other words, I wanted to cook something I’d be proud to serve to Mexican grandmothers.
So I tried my hand at Pozole. I was pretty excited shopping for all of the ingredients from the pork shoulder to the dried chile california and maíz. The soup isn’t complicated to make, but it does take a very long time. I cooked the meat for two and a half hours, and the maíz was cooked for just as long (it takes forever to soften those kernels). I was pretty much confined to my kitchen the whole time. I don’t know how to describe the scene without sounding like I’m trying to romanticize it, but the aroma from the maíz awakened in me emotions like nostalgia, peacefulness, pride, etc. I’m really at a loss for words here. It brought back memories of my childhood, trips to Mexico, and I also somehow felt connected to ancient ancestors.
My kitchen was filled with the scents of Mesoamerica passed down through countless generations. It’s no wonder that Mexican cuisine was deemed an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. I did a little more research into other Mexican dishes, and I was quite surprised to discover that the tamal (not sure how this became “tamale” in English) originated sometime between 8000 BC and 5000 BC. Pozole also dates back to Mesoamerica, but the most interesting part about this particular dish is its controversial past. The tradition of serving it on special occasions dates back to two things: Aztecs considered maíz a sacred plant, and the meat was from humans whose hearts had been offered as a sacrifice for the gods. The practice was ended by the Spanish, and pork was found to be the closest substitute to human flesh.
But let’s leave the macabre origins of this soup and get back to my own Pozole that was made with pork, as has been the case for several centuries now. It came out so delicious that I felt inspired to do some research into Mexican food. It looks like I won’t be catching up today and remain one day behind.
I’m posting this a day late. I waited until late at night and by that point, I was far too tired to keep my eyes open in front of a screen. I was tired from going to a couple of farms and a local farmers’ market to get fresh vegetables. After taking care of all the food-related items, I worked on repairing a wall in the garage and then painting. The repair involved me installing a little bit of drywall, so I was pretty proud of that.
After my nephew got me interested in watching Star Trek Voyager, I became hooked to everything Star Trek. After a long time, I have finally watched every series and every movie up until Picard. I loved Captain Janeway from the Voyager series, but Captain Picard replaced her as my favorite Star Trek character after watching The Next Generation series. He embodies everything I think of in a great leader, and I am envious of his diction. Language is such a beautiful thing. I hope in my old age I will speak with eloquence like Jean Luc Picard or Anthony Hopkins. I realize that what we see on television is carefully scripted and the work of many drafts, but one can always dream.
Picard’s eloquence is not only from his choice of words but from references to great literature, music, and other works of art. The Picard of this new series has obviously aged, and I find that endearing. I admire old age because of all the wisdom that our elders possess. I lament that our society is obsessed with looking young. It’s pretty similar to how we marvel at a bouquet of young roses cut before they bloom. A rose is beautiful at every stage, but it is most beautiful in my opinion when it’s fully opened. It’s almost depressing to see those bouquets of young roses wither before they’ve had the chance to bloom fully.
I don’t ask this because I stay up late at night. If I tell you I regularly go to bed at 1 am, you may think of me as a night owl. However, I often think of night owls as people who get up late in the mornings. I usually wake up between 7 and 8 in the morning, and I wake up happy and eager to start my day. I would gladly get up earlier if I had to, and for a few years, I did. I used to attend a 5:30 am outdoor fitness class and loved starting my day in the cover of darkness and witnessing the day break. I used to volunteer at an emergency room many years ago, and I chose the shift that started at 4 in the morning. I loved it. So I tend to think of myself as a morning person. I don’t understand this incongruence in me. It’s just the way I am.
I love the stillness of the night long after the sun has set and calm before the sun rises once again. Therefore, I believe I am a lover of nights—a nocturnal being. The word nocturnal may conjure images of a predatory animal skulking under the cover of darkness, but loving nights does not mean I love the darkness. On the contrary, I love the night because of the light. I marvel at the city lights piercing the darkness. I take comfort in the fire that warms the cold nights. I find beauty in the red and white thin bright lights from cars trekking through the dark desert. In this same desert, I look up and worship the light of the one hundred thousand million stars forming the milky way, and there are at least one hundred billion galaxies beyond it.
To me, it is an opera of epic proportions. The sun gave light and life to Earth, and each day we turn away from our life-giving star to gaze upon ancient light from eons ago. Ancient light that calls to us and to which we feebly answer with our own artificial light and begin our journey into the night. Then our window into the universe starts to vanish as we turn again towards our life-giving star.
The night is full of mysteries, and I wonder: are we about to embark on a rite of passage experienced countless times by life across the universe or are we the first to dream.
Seeing that things are continuing to reopen slowly and I fell a little bit more comfortable with eating indoors, I began perusing the websites of my favorite restaurants to see when I may start making reservations. I was deeply saddened to learn that my absolute favorite one would not be reopening. The story is similar to others that I loved, but the closing of Patina at Walt Disney Concert Hall was particularly disheartening for me.
Patina was a special place. The food was wonderful, and the experience was extraordinary. I used to say that dining here was like tasting a symphony with each course aking to a movement. It was too expensive to come here too often, but I made it a point always to go when the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed Wagner or a Mahler symphony. I was in a state of ecstasy on those nights. A three-hour dinner starting at 5 pm inside Walt Disney Concert Hall–my favorite building in the world–and then head on over to our seats to enjoy the performance after many courses and just as many perfectly paired wines.
I am curious and optimistic about what new restaurant may move into that space, but I will forever remember the many exquisite dinners I had there, mainly with my mom.
The more I think about it, the more there is a need for me to set myself a goal for writing every day. There are days like today when I feel so overwhelmed with things to do that it’s easy to ignore writing something. It’s a habit that can be easily cast aside–not unlike my running habits a few years ago. Even though I mean to set aside time earlier in the day for writing, I usually leave it late at night. Tonight, instead of finishing my post, I dedicated that time to complete a work assignment I wanted to get done before going to bed. After I was done with my work assignment, I transitioned to here, but I lost the battle with sleep, and I’m instead posting it late (as has happened in the past) and backdating it.