An evening with friends, pizza and a dog

The dough felt cool on my fingertips as I spread it on the baking tray. I worked on spreading it as evenly as possible without making any holes on it, even though Tonia, our curly haired Italian friend who got lashes as long as a woman’s envy and eyes that sparkle when she laughs, said small holes were alright. 

It was seven in the evening but it was as bright as noon time outside. The windows were wide open and laughter rang in the house making Wilfred, Tonia’s overly enthusiastic dog, dance around in excitement, its toenails making faint clicking sound on the wooden floor as it ran from one person to the other asking for treats from obliging humans. The entire flat smelled of baking pizza, enveloping us in a warm cozy feeling of home. It took me back to my childhood days when I would come home from school to the delectable smell of freshly baked cakes and cookies. My mom can whip up anything divine in the kitchen and that includes baking cakes complete with icings and those fancy designs. She has handwritten recipe cards from way back her college days and her most used recipe was the orange chiffon cake which was the house favorite. She never bakes pizza but the one time she did, we were all present to help. My dad tried that trick where you throw the spinning dough in the air and catch it back with one hand as it continuously spins to a thin base. I remembered my mom’s half-hearted  admonishment at my dad’s antics while my siblings and I laughed uproariously at the woeful looking dough that flopped back from the air. I don’t recall how the pizza tasted, though, but the happiness I felt as we sat around the table, laughing while rolling dough and offering crazy suggestions on toppings is forever etched in my mind. And yes, we put pineapple on that pizza which I recently found out was a grave transgression to a proper Italian pizza.

I continued kneading and stretching the dough, its soft smooth texture like a balm to my nostalgic soul. It was very relaxing. I wonder if this was the reason  why so many people love playing with slime? Because if it was, I would understand the buzz, it’s very therapeutic. Also, I realized how making pizza is a lot similar to making friends. I get to choose who I allow to be in my sphere just like when I choose what goes on the pizza toppings. For me, weird toppings are okay as long as they don’t ruin the overall taste of the pizza, otherwise, I can pick them off before eating. In addition to the pizza, my friend Dyo and I cooked chicken adobo (a staple Filipino dish) and it was a hit. Thanks youtube for elevating our mediocre cooking skills up to par. The evening turned out really well. It was an evening to treasure among good friends. 

Oh, and the pizza I helped make was the best ham and mushroom pizza I have ever tasted.

Wilfred and the ham and mushroom pizza❤

British weather

Everything is gray. Rain is pouring. Thunder is rolling. Lightning is flashing. Felt like it happened in a blink. One moment the sun was out and people were walking around in shorts and short-sleeve tops. Others wore flip flops. Teenage boys zoomed past in their skateboards and toddlers were running around trying to catch pigeons…

Then gray clouds descended and covered the sun. It’s as if someone said “cut, change scene” and it was one stormy afternoon in a flash. Just like that. There was no drizzle, it was literally the sky opening up and dumping buckets of cold water. The streets are suddenly clear. Most of them probably hurried home and some, like me, went to the nearest store. I’m currently in Bargain Buys writing this. I am going to The Works later to buy some canvas and paint. I am looking at putting glaze on my paintings to preserve them. I’ll see if they have some. I think I’ll go for the satin finish because I don’t want a highly glossy finish. So, I’ll just wait it out here. Usually the rain would stop after a few minutes. As suddenly as it started, it would stop just as abruptly…another one of those “cut, change scene” moment of the british weather. It’s crazy but there is comfort in its predictable unpredictability. Hmmm that doesn’t make sense when I say it (or in this case write it) but in my head it does.

Rain stopped. Later!

Note: Written a few months back. Currently 26°C. Zero percent chance of rain. We drove almost two hours to an outlet store. We found some great deals.. stayed out a bit to bask in the sun. Here’s our view.

Chitchat

I was general cleaning the other day and I found unused colored pencils in one of the plastic bags stashed on a random corner in our flat. I don’t remember buying it so it was probably my dad’s. He loves doodling, painting, taking pictures and lots of other things but he is the best at gardening. He actually has a big rice field where he now plants with corn, peanuts and honeydew. He also planted giant sunflowers (they were taller than him). My mom took these pictures and sent them to us. 

My dad is happiest when he can grow things. He actually has this tradition of planting at least five trees during our birthdays. He has planted hundreds of trees. Some of them we were able to use in building furniture, most were left to grow and flourish but a few were stolen, like my dad would arrive at his mini forest, as he calls it, and find the stump of the tree. He’s sad about it but it does not happen as much now.

I was just video calling with him and my mom earlier and I showed them the painting I did the other day. I got it from a youtube tutorial since until now I still can’t paint on my own. I proudly hung it in the living room and my sister asked if I could put it in my room instead. We all laughed. I told her it will go well with the black and white theme we are planning to do when we redecorate the place. Bless her indulgent heart. She has to put up with my enthusiastic endeavors. Reading my novelas, buying materials for a new found hobby, trying on or tasting stuff I made (which she claims she needs a hazard pay). 

Today, I tried drawing. The prompt said to draw an object that reminds me of a happy memory. That sewing machine does, not because of anything sewing related. I sometimes marvel at how well I could stitch a laceration closed but could never put clothes together. No, this happy memory is of my youngest sister and I squeezing ourselves underneath, perched on the seesawing pedal and pretending we were in a car. Our mom would find us giggling from trying not to topple over when the pedal moves. She had to chase us away everytime and would sometimes rant when she had to use the machine and had to put a block underneath the broken pedal. My mom learned to sew from her mom and she loved making dresses for us. And they were not just dresses, they were beautiful dresses. Like my dad, she can do many remarkable things. I live in a household with very talented individuals. This is probably why I’m proud to be a nurse. My only talent is the life-saving skill set of an angel of the sickroom honed for more than a decade.

Reading boot camp

Photo by Flickr on Pexels.com

I am a voracious reader. Although, I was not always that way. My love for reading started when I was seven. It did not develop naturally as it would to those scholastic individuals, it was forced on me. I remember all too clearly the day the reading boot camp started. It was one sunny afternoon after lunch. I was in the backyard with my friends from the neighborhood, baking mud cake using empty milk cans. My oldest sister came out and said something along the lines of the day being too hot, we shouldn’t be outside, my friends should go home and maybe come back later and other similar things but I latched on to I must go inside and read. I remember whining and complaining but she just stood by the kitchen door waiting for me to move. My friends started leaving one by one and I was left staring at the watery mud cake with a small handprint on top. I recall being assaulted by a strong surge of annoyance to the point of throwing a tantrum but…I didn’t. Because it was my oldest sister and you just don’t throw a fit when you don’t get your way with “an oldest sister”. Oldest sisters are the law when parents are not around. Such was the case that fateful afternoon.

I wanted to think that I was a smart kid and during those weeks that I had to finish Sweet Valley Twin, I deeply believed I was. I pretended to read the book, counting enough days when I could safely declare that I was done. I read the first few pages to get to know the characters, the middle part to get what the story was about and of course the last few pages to see how the story ended. However, my sister was smarter. She sat me down in the living room and to my dismay started a question and answer review to find out whether I actually read the book. Needless to say, that same day of the Q and A, I re-read (if I can call it that) the book. I kept reading until I read the entire Sweet Valley Twin and Sweet Valley High series. Without me noticing it, I was enjoying reading and I was actually the one asking for more books to read. It came to the point when I have read all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series in the House and I started reading A Pirate’s Love by Johanna Lindsey. My mom saw me with it and promptly confiscated the book saying it wasn’t for kids to read. What normal kid wouldn’t sneak it back after hearing that? I would hide in my room behind the bed and read it and hide it under my pillow every night so I could read it the moment I wake up. Then came the Mills and Boon pocketbooks which I realized were “not for kids” books as well so I read them all in secret.

Our sister showered us with books and they were a comfort when typhoons would hit us and there would be no electricity for days. When I was in college and couldn’t sleep, I would read under my blanket with a clip-on lamp so I didn’t disturb my roommate. When e-books became popular, I had about twenty in my phone each time and would read any chance I got. My eyes would be gritty and red from squinting at the tiny screen. 

These days, I am trying to teach myself to paint. I have been watching tutorials on painting for months now and have become a great fan of Bob Ross. So far, I have managed to paint (copied off the internet) three paintings. At the moment, however, my interest is in watercolor painting and I have been failing miserably. But I am not giving up because if there is anything I’ve learned from the reading boot camp, it is that we can learn anything. I think that if I paint enough times, doing it over and over again, just like reading, I’ll get the hang of it…or not. I am an optimist. If I have to put myself in a painting boot camp I’ll do it. I just need one good watercolor painting!

The lazy guru’s guide to life

I am excited to share a book I found a year ago. I was walking along high street when I  came across a store on closing down sale (my favorite kind of sale) and had everything at 70% to 80% off. On the window was a display of toys and random art supplies and nestled right in the middle was a little yellow book with a weird illustration of a smiling man with rays of light radiating from around him. I went inside and browsed the book…I loved it. 

There must be 150 pages, give or take, of delightful illustrations, with one or 2 sentences (sometimes more) each page. I could have finished it while standing there but each word and phrase I read just spoke to me and mellowed my angry heart. I had to buy and keep it and read it when I needed reminding to be at peace.

I was not at my best at that time. My thoughts were toxic, I didn’t like the people around me and I continued to feel unpleasant emotions. On top of everything else, I was sleeping less and less…I was lucky to have two hours of sleep. I was always tired and my patience was non-existent. The strain of pretending I was okay was getting overwhelming. I just wanted to rest.

The Lazy Guru’s Guide to Life helped immensely in putting things into perspective. It stilled my troubled heart and mind enough to allow me to process what was happening and made me see a way out of my misery. Reading it was like being wrapped in a blanket of warm sunshine after a long winter month. 

Here’s an excerpt:

“People are like walking light bulbs…full of energy.

But the light gets dimmed…it comes and goes.

That’s normal…just like the river, we have ups and downs.

The difference between people and rivers (well one of them) is that instead of letting it happen, we try to control the natural flow. The natural flow of feelings is pretty scary. You don’t know exactly what would happen…if you really let yourself go! The whole world might fall apart and can go down the toilet, especially when you don’t feel so good. So, naturally…you put your feelings into little boxes (instead of mighty rivers) somewhere you can keep them safe and out of sight. But what happens when you try to put a mighty river into a tiny box?You’ve gotta work really hard to keep it there. It takes a whole lot of energy to contain that flow…”

I hope you get a chance to read this beautiful book as well. It’s called The Mindful Art of Achieving More by Doing Less, The Lazy Guru’s Guide to Life“. This is written by Laurence Shorter. I hope you find it helpful. 

“As you get better at giving yourself space, you will notice that every situation and relationship has a life of its own that doesn’t need your worry or stress in order to thrive” -lazy guru