Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A letter for the cheeky one...Killi!

My darling Killi,

When I think of you, I'm most overjoyed but also secretly proud my little one. You already embody that cheeky quality that reminds me of a certain someone (much to your Mama's chagrin). 

I cannot believe that you were hiding in plain sight all along. Whilst your Mama and I laced our fingers and walked the streets of New York, while we warmed up to deep, dark hot chocolate at Mirabelle, who knew you were warming up too. 

You were right there savouring and unashamedly slurping in the taste of the ocean in those Cape May oysters. You were there tugging at your Mama's heart and cajoling your Papa into buying her a puppy (that one almost worked little babe).

You followed me to Anthropologie once and once again when I was chasing after the cups and saucers. You pushed through the crowds with us on the busiest days of the year and secretly smiled when your Mama kissed your Papa in front of the big Christmas tree.

And then you and I partied away on New Years eve to the sounds of the Latin beat and dragged our tired selves back home. You were there Killi. You were there playing hiding and seek with all of us; the invisible spectator to all the silliness, laughter and the million hugs.

You were there when your Mama walked into the house on New Year's Day. Little did we know that four of us had made our way back through that front door.  

Oh you'll give me a run for my money, this I already know. You'll make my heart leap and my head spin. There will never be a dull moment when you're on the move. Your Mama will give us both the same disapproving look and you will add to the frown lines I've already given her.

You've snuck in, stolen my heart and now my world will never be the same again. 

P.S - When you're ready, Peanut and I will be waiting for you!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A letter for Peanut

Nov 29, 2017

My dearest Peanut,

Today is a very special day for me. "Why?". You may ask. Well today is the day that I found out about you. And let me tell you little one, I haven't been able to stop grinning from ear to ear. I already love you. There is a little place in my heart that is brimming like a little cauldron, full of emotion and hope,  making me feel things I never thought before. ALL THE FEEEELLLSSS baby.

I keep thinking about you and I, and all the things that we have to look forward to. 

While you're likely to take on much of the qualities and characteristics of your wonderful parents, here's what I would love to pass on to you little one:

Our shared love for onesies, or a warm chocolate chip cookie from the oven. Perhaps you and I will simultaneously head-nod to the tunes of crazy jazz folks on the radio or carry on the reputation for beating the posted speed limit signs and zipping our way through city traffic. 

If you end up being a little girl perhaps you'll like to  apply eyeliner the way I do. And should we find out that you're going to be a little boy, perhaps you'll love a good biryani and mango ice cream too. 

I imagine your first, second and eighteenth birthday. All the adventures that we'll embark on. I can't wait little one. I absolutely cannot wait to see your pretty, pretty face.

The next time we meet, you'll be screaming at the top of your lungs and I'll be holding an ice bucket; a little terrified of the scene perhaps but know that if you ever need ice, or anything else, you can count on me, kid.

You can always count on me.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Of Souls and Bali

From the journal of a Singleton....A mere 447 days later! (you'll forgive me won't you chickadee)

Dear Chickadees,

I am still on a 'travel plus food high' from my recent jaunt to Southeast Asia. Ofcourse I missed you terribly.

The Destination - Bali.
The Mandate - indulge in as much local food as humanly possible in one week.
The 'other' mandate - sink one's toes into the beautiful sandy beaches in Bali.

For weeks I'd been staring at a beautiful photo of a lush beach in Bali.The palm trees, that emerald hue of the ocean and the thought of sandals (aaaallllll the gorgeous sandals) made me wantonly weak and impatient. August couldn't come soon enough.

Embark we did but it was a long journey over the Pacific. Three days and two nights later we arrived (in retrospect I should have closely perused Kayak's offering of this very inexpensive itinerary which was too good to be true). Many, many planes and automobiles later we'd arrived and the same was true for the journey back home.

And it was a lovely holiday, indeed (a unanimously shared sentiment between us single gals).

Return we did with our souls refreshed and our bellies satisfied (you'll know what I mean, momentarily) accompanied by burgeoning suitcases filled with exotic teas, authentic Balinese cooking spices, one too many sarongs (I have yet to figure out how to wear these) and a few pairs of adorned and bejeweled sandals (don't give me that look sweet-pea; you already know of my love affair with footwear).

There were many firsts on this trip and I shall proceed to tell you about my two favourites - firstly, The Ocean Walk. In laymen's terms, imagine this (or for some of us, let's relive this) - You have friends who ski, surf, snow-board (you get the gist right, basically the athletic type) and some of these include scuba divers. These scuba diving friends of ours talk about their underwater excursions from time to time, all the lovely sea creatures they saw, that school of yellow fish they followed, the iridescent light that was aglow, that beautiful reef, rumors of buried antiquities and the expeditions to retrieve them  and how much longer they can now breathe underwater. Now imagine,you, the non-athletic friend to these athlete friends, trying to emulate their excitement, head-bobbing all the while like you can relate to the "swimming with fish that look like Nemo", trying to stretch that smile (until your jaw hurts) as they regale you with their emphatic tales (and all the while secretly telling yourself "I can't swim and outside of a glass aquarium at SeaWorld, I'll  never be close enough to touch God's magnificent underwater creation). Well chickadee that's me. And perhaps that's you too.

Until....I went Ocean-Walking. Now imagine, you're still the same friend who can't swim or scuba dive but this time you are strapped close to a diver (who does) and who'll take you all the way to the bottom of the ocean and land you gently on an old moss-ridden bridge where you can stand straight (hopefully finding your balance and holding the railings with one hand) and gaze in utter amazement at that school of yellow, blue and speckled fish coming your way. You can see the iridescent light from the mid-afternoon sun coquettishly making its way into the water, while those beautiful reeds are slowly dancing in perfect rhythm to the silent beat of a drum you cannot hear and those brilliant hues of blue and green are unlike any palette of paint you've ever seen.

I WAS UNDERWATER, CHICKADEE! I was enjoying front-row seats to my very own acquatic movie. I was inside that life-size version of an aquarium at SeaWorld. CAN YOU HEAR THE EXCITEMENT IN MY VOICE? For those ten minutes, the world was still. All was calm. We were detached from everything above us and out there as I stood in a mesmeric trance, a guest in their world. This beautiful ocean-world. My soul felt refreshed.

Ten minutes was all the time a novice like me could spend underwater sans-oxygen tank so the blissful, reverie was cut short. But the memory remains. The smile stayed while I alighted from the car and made my way back to the hotel room. This one will go with me for a very, long, time.

And I beseech you. If you can, my non-scuba diving friend, - Go.....Please.Go.Ocean.Walking.Soon.

The second-favourite highlight from the trip was gastronomic. Now imagine walking the local market in the morning, eye-locked with rows and rows of fresh produce, inhaling a stock of lemon-grass, that vivid red from sambal paste, feeling the skin of snake-fruit and the heady aroma from kaffir-lime leaves. That was me.

Shortly thereafter, we found ourselves in an aged, yet authentic Balinese kitchen. Rows and rows of wood panelling, spice jars filled with cumin and cloves, round (but heavy) mortar and pestles, and wide-brimmed woks. Our workspace was an old wooden table laden with fresh galangal, bright green beans, garlic, red chillies, long stalk of lemon grass, little jars of turmeric, aniseed and other glorious spices. Although it was a hot kitchen and the work was hard, it was the most blissful afternoon of chopping and grinding that I could recall in recent times. A mere three hours later, our table was graced with grilled fish skewers, a bowl of fried rice and noodles resonating in oil and herbs, beef in a rich brown sauce, tofu fritters (let me preface that by saying, the most amazing conjugation of tofu I have ever eaten in my life) and green beans laced with many a coconut shaving.

You know that a meal has the makings of greatness when all of its participants are unperturbed by their neighbours and are shamelessly slurping, twirling and spooning the various offerings from their plate.
Take a peek at the photograph to follow and you'll see what I mean. My belly was satisfied.

I have now returned to my life of chasing trains, mulling over the take-out menu and folding high-rise laundry. But every now and then I stop to linger and remind this singleton of her adventures in Bali. 

And then, she smiles.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Snow and I

Dear Lovelies,

It has been two years since we've had a little tête-à-tête. Oh my, how time has flown. Last time we sat here, I was a little blue and a little sunny. Blue because I had embarked into a land I knew almost nothing about. Snow and I were not friends and try as I may, she and I just couldn't connect. Y'all know how much I love the sun (and if you didn't, well now you know), so while the seas were high and the tide was raging in my personal life, my comfort came from the fact that Calgary has the most beautiful summers and that daylight would stick around till this simpleton took her tired self to bed.  And then she landed on my doorstep (Snow I mean), in May, and once in June. I had words with her; oh yes, I did.  Can you imagine a grown woman wagging her finger at a pile of white fluff and stomping her boots hoping it will hurt said white fluff. It was a sight!

In the winter she took particular satisfaction in seeing me walk a minute, fall flat the next, and later drag myself to the emergency room for a twisted ankle and three weeks of "keep your legs raised and apply a cold compress for the swelling" and "no, you cannot walk with that leg, please hobble".

That was 700 or so days ago. Today she and I are in a better place. We're not close yet but she knows I love the sun and I know she's the star of winter wonderland for six months out of the year (heck, my sister adores her). She also has a lot more fans than I do. I think it was that realization that finally caused me to suck it up and co-exist with her, in her lands.

I have finally come out of 'virtual hibernation' (I think). I know I wrote something about this the last time and we haven't had a conversation since. I will do better. I have so many things to tell you from the 700 or so days that I've been away. Luckily, there are many photographs to re-tell the stories (in place of my failing memory).

In short "I dined, I cooked, I entertained, I stood in awe, I wept, I leapt, I conquered, I fell, I loved, I lost, Snow came, She left, She reappeared again and I survived".

My fondest memories are here, below. See you soon, chickadee.

                      (Photo: Jenn Roach, One Two Three Photography)

Sunday, May 4, 2014


Do you remember how you felt when you watched William Wallace stir the troops to fight for their freedom. I recall his famous lines as he was pacing back and forth on horseback, in that green, green valley, face painted in blue, displaying bravado, speaking words, powerful last words to transform a bunch of ordinary, inexperienced men into an army of warriors. He was going to win...Scotland would be theirs.
I watched the movie when I was 18 but I'd never quite forgotten what I felt. For those 182 minutes I too was hopeful and brave.

These least few months though, I've been re-learning the meaning of the word. A different version of 'unafraid'. Being brave entailed procuring forty or so cardboard boxes and making a conscious decision to part with things that won't fit my baggage allowance - that summer dress i bought last year, an old jewelry box, dessert plates, night lamps and hoards of coffee mugs I didn't even know I owned, along with that air purifier I didn't know how to work. Thirty or so of those boxes made their way down three flights of stairs for the last time. Bubble wrap and heavy duty tape were the new must-haves. My tribe flocked from near and far to make sure that this singleton's suitcases would be meticulously packed and her apartment, promptly  vacated.

I tussled with my heart and my baby sisters as I parted with things that I could ordinarily live without, but somehow in the light of this permanent departure I just had to take the icing spatula to newlands with me. My other wise rational self burst out into uncontrollable tears over worn out socks and faded scarfs, y'all. I was looking at old photographs and reminiscing bad hair days and dismal outfits. I wept over my "forever friends" both the ones I'd see in a few months and the ones I'd only be able to see in my minds eye.

In the end,  it all got done, six over-filled suitcases and a very timid heart made her way to the temporal home in cold, cold country. Goodbye Texas - I will miss you dearly my fellow Houstonians. I will miss the warm weather and the blue bonnets. I will fondly remember the strawberry festival and the rodeo. I will cherish warm Texas hospitality and hearty cowboy breakfasts. But most of all I will miss your friendship. Thank you for the memories.

They said "You're moving closer to family so there's nothing to worry about". "Come home", said Gigi. "Its time to move" my heart added. This was where I was meant to be. And yet, I struggled with a feeling of loss, immense loss. It  also didn't help that I've seen three snow-filled weeks out of four since I landed. While some people walk around in shorts and sandals, I am wearing fur lined boots and jackets to combat the freezing temperatures. Come on, Lord. Really? You can't do anything about this weather to make me feel like I belong here.

I left a secure job, sold my car and moved from Clear Lake where I knew three shortcuts to the nearest breakfast place.

Some days I feel like a coward. I'm taking long, deep breaths before an interview, waiting for public transportation and having to ask for directions to the nearest mall. Why am I so lost?
I'm home, sharing breakfast cereal with my people. The people I love spending time and food with. The benefits of this move afforded have impromptu girl time and family dinners. And yet, there are days where I'm silently mourning.   

I could call my girls at odd hours of the day and complain about  the big zit on my forehead, get an honest opinion on whether I looked fat in an outfit and lots of tender, loving care and home-made soup when experiencing a coughing war and near death sniffles.

Four weeks later, the feeling of loss has subsided. It subsided at the exact same moment I saw this picture .

(We'll have to trade stories about this pinata on another day).

Some days I have an emotional meltdown. I'm learning to take a humble stance, and lean more on my posse. The prayers are more frequent..especially on meltdown Mondays. Its alright if I have to wear fuzzy socks in May. I'm home with my family.

Today I feel brave. I may cry buckets tomorrow. But for now I have three teaspoons of confidence and..... this face mask from the far east.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Art of Being a Singleton

It all started when we were wee lasses, with our pink frocks and our tiny pig-tails.

It started when we were handed our first bedtime story book illustration of Cinderella, Snow White and Rapunzel.

It started the day my mother said that a dignified young lady is expected to maintain a soft but audible, decibel when speaking and keep her legs crossed with her fingers gently placed over her lap. Do not speak with your mouth full and comb your hair after a shower to undo the tangles.

Yet there were other lessons that I gleaned from women-folk in my tribe. I learnt that a woman can carry pain and joy at the same time, that we're really inclined to buy a car for its colour, and everytime we open our underwear drawer we subconsciously hear our mothers saying "Wear matching clean, underwear always in case you are rushed to the hospital from an accident". By the time I was 21, I could cook atleast one decent meal and be a good host. I could  manage money when times were tough, and do laundry the right way. I could make my living and contribute to society. I was prepared to take on the world.

However, of all the lessons that I learnt in life's classroom, one important one was missed.

Here's the chapter us young lasses, girls and soon to become women were not taught -  How to be Single? Or, as I like to call it The Art of being a Singleton.

You understand where I'm going with this chickadee. How could I know to be "one" when everything comes in pairs - socks, salt and pepper. Heck every egg in a cardboard crate has a pair. They never sells eggs by the odd numbers. The stockboy at the super-market would give me the "lady you trippin'" look if I ever asked for just one egg for my Saturday morning huevos rancheros (yes, I realize that I've used the word "egg" more times than an Eggland commercial). All our lives we are taught that two is a good number.      We even have a set of boobs.

How am I supposed to learn to cope in a world where people exchange woeful glances my way when I sit in a restaurant with a table for one. Why is it cheaper to book last-minute vacation packages for two people instead of one. And why of why do I have to throw away both my thigh high panty-hose even though only one has a mile long rip in it. I don't even have the option of buying a replacement hose for just the right leg (okay that last argument is a stretch but you get my gist, right?)

Why is one a lonely number?

In my community, ideally, a young twenty something year old woman is to find her mate and carefully plan the expansion of her brood by the time she embraces thirty. According to some women in my tribe, having all your kids by the age of 29 affords you the option of being more energetic (than someone who is older) when motherhood takes over your life. Who came up with that? Aren't tired mothers just tired mothers, no matter what their age.

I won't lie but there are days when I've wondered what its like to have someone waiting for me at home with a hot-meal, there are weddings and children's birthday parties I've dreaded going to because I'm either going to be chaperoning the loud rambunctious four-year olds or be stuck in an odd place at the end of the dinner with the really low chair where you can't cross your legs because of the awkward table leg. A lady once told me that a woman's life is incomplete unless she has experienced motherhood; "Her life has no meaning until then", she said. I was in a particularly vulnerable stage in my life that her words stung my heart. The tears welled up and the voice in my head said "This woman thinks that I am worthless". We're so scared of being alone that we'll pursue and date the wrong men, wear labels or emulate the women who seem to have it all, and constantly immerse ourselves in toxic thoughts. It is exhausting y'all. That alone has made me age twenty years and given me three more laugh lines I did not need.

Based on all the worldly education outside my classroom, I had no hopes of scoring the eye of a genteel man, much less any man if I preferred climbing trees or running barefoot like a wild gazelle in no particular direction.I have one of two options - let society scare me into couple-dom or stay unfazed and do life as a singleton.

Poppet, if you're reading this and you have gone through the online-dating buzz, met boys that your parents thought would be a good match for you, mourned the loss of a relationship by having a relationship with Ben and Jerry, held a friend's baby and wondered about the day you'll be someone's mama and solitarily nursed yourself through a flu and prayed that chicken-soup would miraculously be dropped off at your door-step, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You hear me. (Now, take a deep breath) We are not alone. Here's a big, big hug because I know you need it now.

I am not going to sail into a diatribe about women's lib and how we're better off alone because in all honesty, I do believe that God created us to feel a sense of community and belonging. It took three decades into my to existence to figure out something about the journey as a lone ranger - having the single-hood chapter in a woman's life is one of great promise and discoveries. The first step - Accept that you are alone in this season of your life and it's okay to be single. We are not society's lepers or the bane of our mother's existence. We are taking the road less travelled, that few have braved to journey upon. You my dear, are a trail-blazer. Now, repeat that and believe that.

I think you're ready to hear about The Art of Being a Singleton, so here's what I've learned -
  • Being single is a season. Sometimes long, sometimes short. It's a good season though ( and believe me it's coveted by married women too). 
  • As a singleton, I have been able to put more time and effort into my friendships. I have a small but rich tapestry of relationships that feed well into my soul. The kind of friend-"ships" that won't toss and turn when the going gets tough. We've seen each other through job-losses, death of a parent, transitions from one country into another, birth of a child and new beginnings. This is a time for us to sow into those people especially into the ones we want to keep around us for a long, long time.
  • It has enabled me to build a trust in our Maker that comes from an increased dependency in His word and His provisions. I can tell you without a doubt that my prayer-life has increased exponentially. I may not have a beloved waiting for me at home, but I am the Lord's beloved. That's the truth for each one of us so don't listen to the lying words that try to tell you otherwise.
  • I have gained a few more ounces of bravery and worry less about venturing into life alone. There is no fear. 
  • I may not be a child's mother today but that doesn't stop me from watching over those that are not my own. We need to feel a burden for the next generation and resolve to become a tribe of women that shapes the young ones in our community. There are many kiddos and teens that feel unloved and are dealing with the day-to-day crud. Wouldn't it be great to love on them in this season when we can give them our undivided attention.
  • I have been cooking, hosting, baking, feeding and serving more. I am emotionally and physically challenged and stretched, I love it! When the focus is on people around me, there's less time to worry about being part of a couple. Its brought on more bear hugs, peals of laughter, gut-wrenching tears, slices of chocolate cake, honest conversations and dinner table fellowships. I am forced to feel, to connect, to open up
  • Spontaneity is a real word now. More plunging, less cautiousness.      
There it is, girlfriend. I'm no expert and make no claims into mastering the art of doing life in a singular tense with seven bullet points. I'm still discovering this journey but from a more honest place, today.
Remember that you're not walking alone....and if it gets hard let me know. I promise you a listening ear and a slice of chocolate cake.