As the celebratory dinner at my husband’s firm wound down, the IT team lingered. You might think those who remained as the party dwindled were enjoying each other’s company and you’d be right of course. As there is nothing like alcohol and a completed project milestone to raise camaraderie amongst a group. And as these fellows – who had gathered from the offices from across the country to finish the Vancouver project – moved into later night, words began to slur, the laughter a bit more raucous. The movements a little less sure, the declarations of a job well done and a good team more emphatic.
Like most Vancouverites, Emile and I enjoy walking the Sea Wall.
So often we make our way down there – winding through the tourists – and walk the sea wall. Saturday was a particularly gorgeous day – and we spoke frequently about how spring is so much better when you don’t have to go through the melt.
Often I’ll run along the sea wall and I feel like I belong here. Running in my Yoga jacket with my iPhone. Yes, I’m that girl. Running along. There she goes. . .
Anyways, we enjoy walking and talking down the sea wall. Our route almost always takes us around the outside of the Vancouver Convention Centre with the Water sculpture. Located there is a restaurant called De Dutch. Emile – being Dutch – and I always talk about finding out what a Dutch restaurant serves but have never been.
We finally made it on Saturday morning. We laughing reviewed the menu as Emile told me stories about his mother’s cooking. The traditional luncheon meal at Emile’s house is a piece of bread with ham and a fried egg on it. He told me it is actually called an uitsmijter as listed on the menu. He remembered his Dutch when he ordered a Boer’s Breakfast. His Farmer’s Breakfast featured all the regular morning offerings and included a large Dutch Pannekoek (pancakes). Dutch pannekoeks are somewhere between a regular pancake and a crepe.
He bit into his pannekoek and stated “There is that tang.” Emile started to tell me about stories from Holland that I had never had. His dad’s mom made Emile and his sister pannekoeks for breakfast when they were in Holland. Not cereal on most mornings like at home, but his Oma’s pannekoeks. Made without a mix, and without a recipe probably just like her mother before her did.
The next morning Emile tried to reproduce his Oma’s Dutch pannekoek. He called home to ask his mom how to make them. Her side of the family wasn’t a pannekoek home and his dad was no help. Afterall, he only just ate them. A first attempt using an internet recipe was heavy, dense and lacking the tanginess.
March 9th, 2013 Extra-Ordinary: A unexpected memory from breakfast and the beginning of a quest for a Dutch Pannekoek recipe like his Oma’s.
After my Dad died, my mom decided to create joy in our backyard and so she had a large in ground pool installed. All during the 80s, my brother and I, our friends, and our family enjoyed long summer days in the pool. Days were spent in bathing suits, food was served poolside and we swam our summers away. Summer didn’t end when school started – it ended when we finally put the winter cover on in late September.
When we grew older, our interests changed, and fewer and fewer days were spent in the pool. I left home to attend university, and the aging pool needed more and more maintenance. Seven years ago, the pool didn’t open for the season for various reasons. It was jarring to all of us. Mom especially – this was her haven, her children’s summertime spot, and symbolic of active decision to create a positive life despite loss. Several years ago, the pool needed major investment to open and it didn’t. And each year since, there has been a reason the pool couldn’t or didn’t open.
Some decisions cannot be made quickly or without deep consideration. This place was our place – our newly healing family place. A major investment, a great love, the echos of our childhood. Do you repair something that isn’t being used any more? Do you fill it in so easily? And for five years, my mom has not been able to come to a decision that she felt good about. And so she left it because she could.
Last year the final decision was made – the pool would slowly be removed. The log fence taken down, the pump house emptied out, and the pool itself likely filled in. The work started slowly – first the slide and ladder were removed and given to friends we grew up with for their lake property so new memories could be created on it. The pipes were blown out, the gas line disconnected. Today, my mom and I tore down the heater to take to metal recycling. The filter disconnected and taken to the dump. And with a couple turns of my ratchet, the pump house is empty. There is still lots more work in the pool area, but we’re marking the milestones.
July 17th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary: Using the tools Mom taught me to use and she getting to walk a few more steps in culmination of our pool.
In my kitchen growing up, there were three main food preparation areas. One is to the left of the kitchen sink that is covered by a wooden cutting board. This area – even now – is by far the busiest area. Food is chopped on the cutting board, dirty dishes sit here awaiting the dishwasher unload (which was my chore growing up, so some times there was a bit of a wait), and quick meals are eaten from it. It is constantly wiped and cleaned. Over the dishwasher is the second area where the electric frying pan is plugged in when it is time for grilled cheese and the toaster and coffee maker. I distinctly remember making Easter Nests and Baklava with my mother at this spot. Who makes baklava with their non-greek mother? I did. I called the layers dirt, paper and glue (the nuts, the phyllo and the butter/honey mixture).
The other space that is not really there any more, is to the left of the fridge. It’s there obviously, but now is taken up by the microwave. It is where I remember my dad kneading bread, rolling pastry and for some reason I remember clearly – making Tomato Pinwheels from the Fleischman’s Bread Baking Cookbook. I remember so well because he was so frustrated rolling out the dough. You needed to roll it to certain dimensions, cut it, and then create the pinwheels. But it kept shrinking. And he was getting upset. I don’t remember if they tasted good or not, I just remember thinking “How is it possible that my dad can’t do something?”
Today I thought of home and these memories and wanted to bake. But baking does not really fit with the lifestyle changes we have made. So, I took to the internet and found myself a low-carb and low-calorie recipe for Pumpkin Coconut Muffins. The flour used was coconut flour – what the heck is that? – apparently it’s made from ground coconut meat and is also defatted to remove much of the coconut oil and milk. I wonder if the Bulk Barn carries it? And my lucky day – in the huge gluten-free section – they did. It smelled pleasingly like suntan lotion and it was cream coloured. Not too expensive either.
May 2nd, 2012 Extra-Ordinary: Mini yummy muffins that only have 31 calories each with 1 grams of fibre and 2 grams of protein in each. Though, I would not recommend using rock salt instead of kosher salt – makes for a some unexpected saltiness at times. I like this coconut flour stuff.
Maintenance May Day 2:
$25 Micro-loan via Kiva to Folly Loko in Togo, Africa to purchase a washing machine and iron for his laundry business. Emile’s choice. (Soul)
$25 Micro-loan via Kiva to Adama in Mali to purchase scrap metal to support his metal working business. He is a married father of two in his thirties – like my dad was when he died. (Family)
Supported Hariyo Chowk via kickstarter.com with $25 to help create an urban green space in Katmandu. Reward is my Dad’s name on a hand painted mural in the park once completed. (Family)
Supported Flyover Farm via kickstarter.com with $10 to help create a rooftop garden in Mumbai, India to help provide organic produce in a low-income area. Reward is my Dad’s name on their facebook page as a donor. (Connection)