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Archive for December, 2008

Buckethead = teacosyhead

December 25th, 2008

You know how a smell or a song can trigger deeply-embedded memories? As it probably is for most, Christmas is like that for me. Intangible feelings that repeat annually, a sense of it being anyyear, with the same little and big traditions, that eagerness for people to open the gifts that I made or got them… it’s a flurry of events, and the general feel is unlike any other time of the year.

And you know how when you meet new people now, you can almost always compare them to someone else you already know? Even if it’s just their eyes, how they walk, or the way they pronounce something.

So I’m definitely in that Christmas groove, and everything seems to remind me of something. During the extended family gift exchange we have every Xmas Eve, my sister got a funky (and huge!) tea cosy, and felt compelled to wear it. It brought me back to one of my favourite photos of her, one that was taken the year I was born…

1975 bucket vs. 2008 tea cosy:

After the exchange, one of my Aunts gave my sister and me each a trivet, and as we played around with them, I thought back to how we used to play days upon days of badminton in the backyard.

1982 bird-slamming vs. 2008 hamming:

This Christmas, then, I am especially grateful that my mind is so simple that I can’t seem to experience anything new without comparing it to something past… because then it brings me back to places and memories I might otherwise not revisit.

Happy holidays and merry Christmas, everyone! May you have a simple head like me so that you can think back to good times too.

in the memory bank , , , ,

Out come the buffet pants..

December 23rd, 2008

People always talk about Christmas holidays as a time for gluttonous food consumption and gorging, and I always used to kinda nod in agreement, with more of a “Yeah, sure” than anything emphatic.

Don’t get me wrong, I come from a long line of foodies, and the Chen household is known for its culinary ridiculousness. I have dozens of friends who’ve said my Dad should open a restaurant, and he’s even been interviewed on the CB ‘n’ C about his “Taiwanakopita” invention (spring rolls that are folded like spanakopita triangles, and baked instead of fried)… Adrian Harewood LOVED them. So yes, we eat. Often. And well. And a lot.

Then three years ago, I went out west for a visit to John’s family — who are wonderful and welcoming and hilarious… and they schooled me. I ate like I’ve never eaten before. It was like a dream that went on for days and days. We would be stuffed and getting up from one meal, just to make our way to the next event. Homemade meals that I thought only Martha could pull off, restaurants that made me sit up straighter, wines whose names I couldn’t pronounce, meats that I don’t see on menus in Ottawa, fries that were made out of 8 different potatoes… I was overwhelmed and wished I had an extra stomach. My “eat till I’m 80% full” rule was out the window and in another country somewhere.

And then there was the po’ boy — cooked up like a pro by John’s bro-in-law.

I always though a po’ boy was a type of sandwich (didn’t you???). Oh no. It’s this super fluffy, crepe-like cloud of deliciousness, covered in an sweet fruity reduction… Who knew? John and I were so impressed with the thing, I asked him to pose with it:

On Christmas day, I’m going back for my third year out to Calgary and Banff, prepared with my buffet pants — which have a stretchy waistband to allow for all the incredible intake that I will most certainly be doing while there. Oh boy… bring on the po’ boys!!!!

in the memory bank , , , ,

Return of the Jejudo

December 21st, 2008

A Christmas gift and a half. After six years of being overseas, I am over the moon that dear sweet friend Tara is home.

In 2002, Tara went to South Korea to teach English, and I went to visit her in spring of 2004. A few token memories/lessons:

- TWO sets of slippers when you go into a restaurant and take off your shoes. The first is just for you to wear during the entirety of your visit. But if you go to the washroom, there’s another pair there for you to swap into while you’re taking care o’ business. They like things clean there

- travelling to Jejudo, the honeymoon island where newlyweds go and wear matching sweater sets. We don’t match, but this is us hiking to the top of the volcano:

- hiking… it’s (or it was, anyway) HUGE there. Can’t tell you how many guys we saw wearing colourful argyle knee-high socks over their pants, or women wearing hats with huge shaded visors that flipped down (so they looked like welders). There’s a whole fashion to walking the trails. We were very not à-la-mode.

- doorbells at restaurant tables. Works better than snapping at a waiter.

- go-go girl dancers used to advertise everything from restaurants to political candidates

- seniority and locality rule. As a foreigner, I can’t tell you how many times I got budded in front of by an elderly lady or rushed businessman. If I took too long getting service, boom, they’d just impatiently reach over me and do a transaction right past me.

- free, unlimited side dishes. This whole having-to-pay-for-kimchi we have in Canada? Bah!

- ‘bong’ = ‘room’. So you can go to a DVD bong (rent a room to watch a movie) or a Karaoke bong (private room for singing with your friends). Hmmm, never found out if they had bong bongs, though.

So after a few years working in SK, Tara did a compressed year of schooling Down Under… and now, dammit, she’s finally back in Ottawa. I say a wholehearted ‘WOOHOO’ to that. Welcome home, dude!

good peeps, in the memory bank ,

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