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‚̧

DIY bracelets and happy memories

Several months back, I was in this “jewelry-making-phase” that prompted me to take a one day silversmithing course in London. Growing up, I have always loved accessories. The traumatic experience of my mom piercing my ears when I was eight did not take away my love for it. I did remember the tremendous pain that made me cry for hours but I guess my eldest sister buying me one “Broadway” earrings after another made me decide that it was all worth it. No pain no gain as the saying goes. My very first pair of earrings was a gold flower with four tiny bars dangling from it. It was simple and elegant. I loved it. It was my elder sister’s first and our oldest sister’s before I had to wear it. Then I had to give it up when my youngest sister finally had her ears pierced. It was some sort of a tradition I guess. But ever since I was young, I know I have some form of jewelry. A ring, a clip on earring (before I had the piercing) or a bracelet. It was part of dressing up. It was the norm.

First silver ring I made .

I was not too impressed by the first silver ring I made even when our instructor cooed at how unique it was. But I am indeed proud that I was able to make one. It was not an easy process and sawing and polishing alone were delicate work. That class was worth every penny I paid because I went home with a new skill and an appreciation for all the brilliant and hardworking jewelers around the world. It takes real talent, considerable dexterity and patience to make one fine jewelry. 

Today, I decided to try my hand on beaded jewelry. The youtube tutorials I have been watching for almost a week now fueled my enthusiasm in making these gorgeous chandelier earrings inspired by a pin I saved on Pinterest. An hour and half and several failed attempts later, I ended up with these simple bracelets. Making this has brought back beautiful memories of my siblings and I, on those lovely afternoons in our living room. We would sit around a bowl of colorful beads and crystals and make ourselves some bracelets. I remember the laughter, the banters and the delight of having made beautiful accessories to wear and show our friends. Life then was simple and happiness was in abundance. 

This afternoon just made me miss them more.

Fond memories

20200522_001509-01I was in kindergarten and my favorite part of the day was after school when my dad would pick me up on his red motorcycle. Sometimes I had to wait for him because he was delayed at work but I didn’t mind because I had my classmates to play with while waiting. I was offered a ride by one of the parents a few times but I would always refuse because I wouldn’t want to miss the best part of the day…riding with my dad.

During the ride I would tell him about my day. I told him how annoyed I was to our teacher (who was a nun) because she wouldn’t pick the book I brought for story time…It’s been days, I whined. Dad just hmmmed…I told him about writing my name on the board and the teacher said I had a neat handwriting. He said hmmm…and then there was this boy I punched because he was teasing me a lot. He chuckled and said hmmm.

***

One afternoon we went to the pier to watch the huge cargo ships. The sun was just dropping in the horizon and the sky was ablaze. Birds were swooping in and out the sky. Some workers were shovelling a small mountain of salt. We walked past them to the vendors selling banana fritters wrapped in banana leaves. Dad bought one for each of us and then we went back to his motorcycle where we sat, ate the banana fritters and watched the sunset.

***

Dad would also take me and my sister to the nursery for plants and animals…it was a big place with small rolling hills with drops deep enough to make us feel like we were in a roller coaster. We saw an ostrich, sheeps, cows and horses. There were dogs that scared me so much I couldn’t enjoy animal watching. Their barks were too loud and they kept jumping up and down. On our way home, dad would buy us a big bag of chips. We try to eat them all while on the bike because mom really didn’t allow us to eat too much junk food.

***

Dad loves to take pictures…he used to carry around a point and shoot camera and an extra roll of film. He took pictures of the trees, the rice fields, the brown cow he calls “Nueva” and the pigs. He took a photo of a chico tree fallen on its side after a typhoon. I was sitting on one of the branches looking like a waif with a big hole on my shirt…mom wouldn’t have allowed one of her children in a photo looking like that.

***

Dad is a Math whiz. In high school I used to ask him how to solve equations in calculus. I wanted him to teach me the shortcut version but he wouldn’t have that. He insisted on teaching me all the long methods. I would end up in tears…not understanding any of the formulas at all but he would carry on explaining patiently, ignoring the tears and snot. Now I know why he did it. And I appreciate him more each day because of it.

***

Mom was the one who gave us school money. She handed it to us everyday before leaving for school. Sometimes, after I get the money I would detour to my dad and ask for an extra. He never asked questions even when he knew mom gave me money already. He just smiled and asked how much I needed and gave it to me. My friends said I have the coolest parents. And they’re right.

Today, I was video calling with my dad. He said he and mom were growing corn, honeydew and peanuts. They have food at home and they are safe. They look content. And being so faraway from them, that’s all I can pray for…I want them to stay happy and healthy, always.