Borgers with No Borders.

our lives, our loves — through our earthly adventures.

Archive for the category “Random Thoughts”

Home is where …

Home is where the heart  ensaymada is.

After spending two months of our summer vacation in Manila — which we consider to be our REAL home — we were faced with “la rentrée” blues.  Not that we were complaining to be back in Paris — but just reveling at the wonderful time we had at home with family, starting with all the food indulgences we embarked on and … well, ending with that.

I must have been terribly homesick because two weeks after we returned, I found myself writing on my Facebook status:  “I would do anything to have an ensaymada and a gallon of Chef Tony’s Popcorn right now.”  And what do you know?  Glorious FB does its magic… and soon enough, I had over twenty comments and tons of “Likes.”  It was comforting to know that other people who were not in Manila could identify with this sudden urge to eat ensaymada.  It was more than an urge.  It was an impatient craving, and one that would not wane.

Enter my dear high school classmate, JF, who lives on the other side of the world:  in America, where, I believe, you can find anything your heart desires.  She whets my appetite even more and tells me about a friend of hers who lives in California, who makes the best-ever tasting ensaymadas in the whole wide world.  Two days later, I find myself writing this much-acclaimed ensaymada maker, asking her if she would please send me some via DHL.  The cost was not an issue, knowing that it would cost me more to see a psychiatrist to manage this urge than to actually satisfy it myself.

So I met my Ensaymada Goddess who so lovingly humored me by actually finding a way to ship it to me!  Then, suddenly, the heavens opened — and I swear — I saw those God-like-sun-streaks pass from the clouds straight into my window … just as I realized that my hubby was actually going to NYC… and would be back in four very short days!!!  (Times like these remind me that there REALLY must be a God!)

Before I could spell ensaymada, I made a paypal account payment, emailed Chari (the Ensaymada Goddess) a hundred times to give the hotel address, arrival date, departure date, and all other information that would guarantee that the precious shipment would make it to NYC in time to make it to Paris.  Chari got everything perfectly done … including getting an insurance, yes… an insurance! … to make sure it landed in the right hands at the right time.

Of course, during all this frenzy, my hubby had no clue about what was soon to arrive in his hotel room.

Very sheepishly, I sent him an email saying:  “No need to bring me something from NYC (like he does in all his trips).  Just bring home the box that will be delivered to your room on Monday.”

Monday comes along… and I get this text:

HUBBY:  Received your “pasalubong” (present from a trip) but it is quite a decent box and I don’t know how to fit this in my suitcase.  Remember, I’m taking a motorbike transfer from the Airport when I arrive.

Gulp.  My ensaymadas were treading in dangerous waters.

MY REPLY:  Darling, just throw the box and put them all in a plastic bag, then squeeze them all into your suitcase.  I don’t mind if they get squashed.  Pretty Puuullleeeezzzz?

No answer.  Couldn’t sleep a wink.

Wednesday morning, hubby comes home from the airport and hands me a big shopping bag with a huge box inside.  He said, “This is a present for you from the Filipino guy at the airport who has become my friend.”  Apparently, through his travels, he met this very kind Pinoy at the airport who has become a friend… and as he was leaving, he had mentioned to the guy that he was bringing home ensaymadas for me.  The Pinoy goes, “Your wife loves (understatement) ensaymadas?  Wait here!  I’ll be back.”  And in an hour, he was back at the waiting lounge with this big box of something for me.

I shook the box a bit, smelled it … and ransacked it only to find… not Chari’s ensaymadas… but someone else’s ensayamadas!!!  Just MORE ensaymadas than I had ever hoped for!  Pinoy Kind Man apparently had a sister who owned a bake shop in NYC, not far away from the airport.

Now if that is not serendipitous… I don’t know what is.

I think I must have jumped and skipped at this point.

Stunned (but still with a sharp mind), I stared at my hubby and said, “… But where is the box that I asked you to bring home for me?”

And he revealed … these two ever-so-lovely boxes, daintily wrapped in goldish ribbons, slightly squished but not losing an ounce of its familiar grandeur.

In a flash, I was in the kitchen, zapping Chari’s ensaymadas for 15 seconds, watching the butter, the cheese, and the sugar slowly melting into a sumptuous oozing blanket of plain and unadulterated goodness.

One bite.  And suddenly, … I felt like I was home again.

Order yours now, cause I ain’t sharing.

Chari’s E-Mail:  charis.kitchen@yahoo.com
Mobile:  (U.S.) 626 7555014
She is also has a Facebook account (Chari’s Kitchen) which you can find here

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A Face I Love.

Did you ever come across a face which, with one look, makes your heart melt?

I think everybody needs a face that will instantly change one’s mood from *bleah* to anything minimally ecstatic.  When I look at this face, I feel the same deep love that hits me when I see my children fast asleep.  I think of bright sunshine flowing through French windows, of happy groovy times spent with my sisters, of shopping days when you think your credit card has no limit.  It’s a face that simply transforms my day by making my heart melt.

I am lucky to have one such face, thanks to the wonderful combination of Greek and Polish genes. Two friends who worked hard for this baby and got everything that they deserved.  And more.

Tell me what this face does for you.

Hope your holidays were full of cheer, and your New Year overflowing with health, love, happiness, and peace!

Loss.

She passed on this morning, two days after we had visited her in her “home.”  And even then, I knew.  That time was running out, and she no longer wanted to live life that way.  Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease.  It changes who you are, and reinvents your memory.  But even in her illness, she was still lovable, truly gentle, and sweet as only sweet can be.

She will be missed.

Time is the only comforter for the loss of a mother.  ~ Jane Welsh Carlyle


The Tooth Fairy: Bust!

Mon petit garçon is growing up.  This weekend, he lost one tooth on Saturday while biting on his lego.  The next day, he lost the other one while chewing on his towel.  Don’t ask me why or how — he just manages to chomp on everything he fancies.

He was the happiest toothless boy in town, I think — because he was well aware of the whole shebang:  You put your tooth under your pillow, and in the evening, the Tooth Fairy drops by, picks up your tooth, and exchanges it for some cash.

The first tooth was fine.  I barely made the “exchange” — using his morning toilet visit to dash to my wallet, pick up a bill, and slide it under his pillow.  The second tooth though was a total Bust — at least for my 16-year old daughter.  I could hear her snickering in her room when she heard me explaining to my 6-year old that I went to bed too late last night, that the Tooth Fairy refused to come into the house (since someone was still awake!).  So I promised him, while confronted with a pretty sad and disappointed face, that I would surely retire early on Monday night to give the Tooth Fairy her chance to pick up his tooth.

Whew!  That was close.

My daughter thought it was a lame excuse … but I thought it was a pretty witty story for a half-awake-mum.

I Flaked. Dimanche Repas: Semaine 8

I flaked.  I know.  I regret.  One cut.  Last week.

It was a cook-less week for me, save for some Red Velvet Cupcakes that I had to make for my son’s class — in celebration of his 6th birthday.  Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, from a very interesting blog of someone who makes cupcakes for a living.  Red as Red can be.

I’d like to do this recipe again with the right american ingredients on hand — since I had to substitute buttermilk with natural full-cream yoghurt.  I also could not fathom how the recipe called for 2 oz of food coloring — which seemed like an awful lot!  I used half of that, and my cupcakes already looked like aliens from Mars.

Instead of keeping warm in my kitchen at home, my little boy and I hopped on a TGV — and made our way down to Paray le Monial (Bourgogne) — for some fresh country air.

I had to make good on a promise to visit an old friend of mine who was practically a neighbor during our old Surabaya days.  She now lives in a 6-hectare land with a little farm house, 2 horses, 3 sons, and a half-finished swimming pool.  Their home is work in progress — totally made by their very bare hands.  Every brick, every layer of paint, every plank of wood was laid down by her and her engineer husband.  Something I really admire and respect — since I don’t think I could ever do the same.  Country living is one thing, and manual labor is another.  They don’t necessarily have to go together, do they?  🙂

For the first time in my life, I imagined myself living in similar surroundings.  With neighbors not any closer than 200 meters, supermarkets with prices that didn’t make you gasp, and shop-keepers who you could actually converse with.   Somehow, this trip made me believe that I might just be able to survive  in the countryside.  I always thought I was a City Girl.  But this trip was different.  Or perhaps it was I who was probably different.  (“Older?”… a little voice whispers inside me.)

It’s a simple, stressless life.  Quiet, fresh, open, and friendly.  Even in France.  Minus the rush and the harsh realities of big city living.  It could be age … but the magnetism of the peace and space of the country suddenly revealed a perspective I had never really experienced before.

My son loved every minute of our trip.  Well, for someone who has lived on an island for practically the first 4 years of his life… it is difficult not to love the outdoors.  Even in Paris, in the dead of winter, he refuses to wear slippers, socks, or shoes when he is home.  His feet need to be free, he says.

I went back to Paris a changed woman.  With a new skill.

The little voice inside me might just right.  🙂

If I could just be Atlas.

I’m giving you a break from all the cooking that’s been going on.  Because I have just got to rant.  That’s a good enough excuse to take a break because as you’ve seen in the beautiful movie “Chocolat” — every rambling of your heart affects the outcome of your cooking.  And so, before I indulge myself in this weekend’s cookfest, let me vent a mother’s vent.

My almost-6-year-old boy always came home in high spirits, chanting silly (with almost brown lyrics!) songs that he and his bus mates created during their bus ride home.  It used to make me wonder if he enjoyed riding the school bus more than school itself.  But like all good things, all this fun and hoopla came to an end.

Since about three weeks ago, our bedtime stories and prayers always ended up in sad accounts of the now-transformed bus atmosphere.  It seems that his partner-in-crime, let’s call him Tony, has had a change of heart.  He has found a new friend and has left my son alone, dejected, and isolated.  In his last waking hours, my sweet little boy stumps me with questions such as, “Why does Tony not want to be my friend, mom?”

Apparently, a new boy came to join the school bus group, and when my little boy befriended the new one, Tony felt suddenly unsure of himself.  So he maneuvered a divide-and-conquer strategy and pulled the new guy to his camp, and left my little one alone in the battle field.  That, of course, is my jaded — but nevertheless street-wise — analysis.  Ending?  Tony lords the school bus with his new pawn beside him — and my little one is lonely after losing a dear mate.

One trip home, Tony pulled my boy’s hat from his head and started passing it around to all the other bus mates — teasing (to me, bullying!) my poor boy.  I could almost imagine MB trying to reach for his hat, his tears probably welling up in his eyes.  I was red with anger when I heard this, smoke coming out of my ears.  I told my husband (who always brings my son to his morning bus pick-up) to have a word with Tony the next morning.  But my husband, being my very modest husband, simply went up the bus and said with a smile on his face, “Now you kids all be good today, OK?”  And that was it.

I would have done much more than that, obviously.  Something short of pulling someone by his shirt collar and whacking him with a broom stick.  Or maybe even a rolling pin, in my case!

My heart bleeds.  How does a mother stop herself from interfering in these petty quarrels without robbing her child of the learning experience?  How does a mother bear watching her child get hurt in order to grow a little?  How do you teach a child not to physically kick a boy who looks like he deserves it anyway?  How can you convince your child that it is Tony’s loss, and not HIS?  Dit-moi! (Tell me!)

I wish I could carry my child on my shoulders and protect him from the world and all its woes, without ever having to shrug my shoulders.  Just like Atlas.

Preparing the Nest!

It is Day 34 since we walked into the French Embassy in KL to apply for our visas.  DD and I both hold Philippine passports, and we have just been initiated into the classic Waiting Game.  No visa in sight.  No hint of a Time Table.  And no more airline seats to Paris until we have a definite date.  Meanwhile, Hubby is adjusting to his new office in the 16th arrondissement — bewildered by the fact that he goes into a Hotel where there are (still) no complaining guests, no crowd having breakfast, and no staff!  The usual Pre-Opening Stage.  It is the Calm before the Storm.

But, he is getting organized as always.  He has secured a service apartment at the Trocadero somewhere, our pit stop before we find our Happy Home.  He is working on setting up our bank accounts, has determined walking time to the kids’ schools, surveyed the area for quick-stop grocery shopping.

Within his first 7 days in office, he likewise managed to choose and purchase his company car, a VW Touareg — which looks like a sizable monster to me, too big to fit the narrow streets of Paris that I imagine.   If this is a sign of out-of-town trips that are to come … by all means, let him have it!  That’s the “HIS.”

And for moi … DH was fearful that I would not manage to squeeze into little corners and alleys… so he’s decided on getting me my own Bump Car.  No objections to that one.  It’s a license to … BUMP!   So, as it turns out, the “HERS” is given a choice between a Citroen C2


Or… a Peugeot 1007.

Cute wins.  The electric sliding door for those oh-so-tight parking challenges, the on-board computer, windscreen wipers that sense the rain and adjust their speed, a rear parking aid (vely vely important!!!), and even a child-check mirror to make sure everyone is fine and dandy behind me. And… the clincher? A satellite navigation with colour screen … in English! Whoopeeee!!!  🙂

So let’s see if DH can get the ball rolling on getting me on my Freedom Bump Car!  🙂

Bonjour Paris!

We are moving into our 7th home, our 5th city in all of our 12 years as a family.  This particular move is special because it is the first time we will be moving out of Asia.  The first time in 20 years that my Belgian husband will be back to actually LIVE again in Europe!  The first time that I will live in a city that will take more than 8 hours to fly back home.  It is an extraordinary time in our nomad existence which is enough reason to start a blog (among other things to follow)!

So here I am, with my kids, in Manila:  the 29th day since we walked into the French Embassy in KL to get our visas (since my daughter and I are still carrying our Filipino passports).  It’s a Waiting Game.  Meanwhile, Hubby has moved to Paris, and is on his 8th day of work while we are still here, not exactly packed, but ready to go! 🙂

I know there is much to learn (starting with the language!), much to adjust to (never lived in a country with 4 seasons!), and much to be grateful for.  It is an opportunity to once again reinvent ourselves, to build a pristine home, to make new friends, and to relish an unfamiliar culture. Yet another earthly adventure into the Great Unknown.

Our journey begins … as this throbbing blog does.

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