Waking Up Early in a Silent House

Yesterday felt busy — but not with writing or reading. Since self returned from Virginia, hubby seems on over-drive, talking non-stop about this or that football game or tennis match. Our conversations now go something like this:

Self: Did you know that Hokkien Chinese were settled in Bacolod long before the Spaniards came?

Hubby: Sharapova was upset at the Open!

Self: Did you know that when Magellan landed on Cebu in 1521, he found a people “completely without deformities”?

Hubby: Cal has a good coach; they’ll probably kill Stanford at the Big Game.

And so forth and so on.

There were football games, one after another, on TV. Finally, at 10 PM, hubby, having no doubt exhausted his eyeballs with day-long TV watching, thoughtfully switched the TV to something he thought self might enjoy, Fargo. Yes, indeed-y, self did hugely enjoy watching Steve Buscemi get shot in the face so that he had to spend the rest of the movie walking around with a white napkin pressed to his (profusely bleeding) jaw, and she did enjoy the scene close to the end where Peter Stormare comes after him with a hatchet 🙂 After that, self switched channels and found herself watching something called Urban Legend.

Hours later, when self went to the room, she discovered hubby browsing the web; when hubby gets into that parallel universe he stays there all night. With building excitement, self realized that she’d have hours and hours of private time this morning. But she still found herself waking up at 5. This is something that happens to self when she is surrounded by people: she starts getting up earlier and earlier. When she worked as an administrator at Stanford, and had to be in an office all day, she woke sometimes as early as 3. Most of the stories in her book Mayor of the Roses were written in the early morning, this way.

Self is thinking it might be interesting for dear blog readers to know her early morning routine.

The first thing she does is open the windows. (When hubby is awake, he wants all the windows closed, something about wasps entering the house) She loves the way the cool air of early morning comes wafting in.

When it starts to get sunny, self closes all the windows and draws the blinds. Our house faces north and there are no trees in our front yard to block the sun coming in, and lately the weather’s been tremendously hot so that when self is sitting in the living room, say around mid-day, she sometimes feels like a bun baking in an oven (Sincere apologies for the awful analogy, dear blog reader)

Part of self’s morning ritual is making herself coffee. When sister-in-law came in July, she brought a pound of Tommy’s Coffee, “Hacienda Blend.” Now, it’s almost gone, so yesterday self went to Peet’s and bought a pound of Aged Sumatran. While there she saw the most fascinating thing, which she forgot to blog about until now: there was a knot of something that looked like a dried chrysanthemum on the counter, and in a clear glass teapot were more of these mysterious things, floating like sea anemones in a green liquid. Self waited until the man behind her in line reached out and poured himself a sample cup from the teapot. The Peet’s counter-person said, “But it’s not brewed,” a statement which didn’t make any sense to self until she herself tasted a cup and discovered that the liquid was cold. Now she’s completely forgotten the name of the tea. Oh, well, apologies, dear blog reader.

So, after spending three hours reading and ruminating (It’s now 8:30 AM), self has formulated a plan for the day. She’s going to get dressed, get the Sunday New York Times from Safeway, and then check out the plants on sale at Wegman’s. Did it really need three hours to work out this plan? Given that self’s thoughts tend to meander when she is completely undisturbed, and also given the fact that self is still quite groggy and pushing herself to stay awake, self feels it is no mean feat to have gotten her thoughts to line up like ducks in a row (Where’d that image come from, self wonders? From “Make Way for Ducklings”, classic children’s book which self hasn’t read to son in over 15 years???)

Stay tuned, dear blog reader, stay tuned.

PinoyCook, How Much Does Self Love Thee?

Self must be feeling nostalgic. Suddenly, she’s ransacking her cookbooks for recipes for mechado, embutido (Self’s Filipino cookbook, Galing-Galing, says this dish requires a mysterious ingredient called “leaf lard”), and Bicol Express.

Maitoni served self a delicious pork sinigang when self visited her in Vienna, VA.

Since then, self has called her cousin a few times (See previous post “Three-fer”) to get more delicious recipes.

Self did call Dearest Mum upon arrival from Virginia, and things were going swimmingly until self mentioned (alas, self has no “street smarts”, absolutely none) that she was sorry she hadn’t managed yet to send Dearest Mum the bottle of Tylenol PM that DM has been requesting for months. Whereupon Dearest Mum’s voice grew exceedingly cold, and she said that niece G did manage to bring her a bottle that she bought in the San Francisco airport, just before boarding the plane for Manila, but said bottle contained only 10 of the prized capsules. Whereupon self explained to Dearest Mum that on her last visit to Costco, she became very confused because now Tylenol PM is sold only in “vanilla flavor”, and self didn’t know whether DM would like that kind. Whereupon DM said that Tylenol PM could be purchased from any Safeway, any Walgreen’s, any Wal-Mart, any store anywhere in the U.S.A., and self realized she hadn’t gotten self’s point — that self wanted to get the hugest bottle available, which is available in Costco for so much less than it is sold anywhere else, only suddenly Costco has done this confounding thing and produced vanilla flavor Tylenol PM, which might taste weird and —

Where was I? Again, I digress.

Right! Self was about to talk about PinoyCook, which is billed as “a Filipino mom’s blog.”

The PinoyCook always explains how she ends up cooking this or that dish, and she seems to have more than one school-age child, for she thinks of interesting things to serve them for merienda (How self wishes she herself could be a child housed in PinoyCook’s house, partaking of those mouth-watering meriendas!)

But the real reason she likes PinoyCook so much is this:

PinoyCook has a very modern family arrangement, in which husband cooks as well.

Now, self knows it’s no big deal for American men to cook. But self thinks it’s exceedingly rare for a Filipino husband to cook (Hold on a minute, self! Doesn’t your manicurista, Mely, never tire of telling you that her husband is a very very good cook? In fact, he does most of the cooking! So self must not generalize!). And today, since she was browsing around in PinoyCook sub-category “seafood” under category “Filipino Food”, she came across this entry:

First of all, it’s my husband who cooked this platter of calamares. We have a new agreement–he does the cooking on Sundays. We had been talking about calamares for days when last week’s episode of Nigella Bites featured how to cook the very dish that we had been talking about…

Wow, they get Nigella Bites in Manila! And self doesn’t even know if that’s available on her local cable channels! Even though she’s been watching The Food Network every day of the summer (aside from the weeks when she was in Virginia, of course), she has never encountered Nigella Bites. She has encountered a lot of Emeril (who needs a clothes make-over, in self’s humble opinion), Giardia De Laurentiis’ Everyday Italian, and Paula Deen (who hails from Roanoke, VA, self just discovered from reading the Roanoke Times), and the Barefoot Contessa.

But no Nigella Bites. But it’s so nice to know that PinoyCook has access to this, for self can learn more about it by reading PinoyCook.

Stay tuned, dear blog reader, stay tuned.

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