I wish I could have heard this song {pounding the dance floor...going 100 miles an hour, the horns in my stomach, vocals blowing out my eardrums and my chest exploding} in the Wigan Casino back when the soulies danced their brains out in England. After listening to music like this, one tune after another...how could you not be fueled for hours upon hours on end by just the beat and the lyrics from a voice singing like their life depended on it, all in, lungs, heart and soul. These are man made sounds, we can be amazing sometimes.

This song resonates.

Pho of our own

I had put all my spices in a giant stockpot to move. They arrived to their destination six hours later. The final drive to our new town was long and grueling. I put the blame on a very late start. They sat in the pot, on our new counter for three weeks. I finally took them out today to use the stockpot.

We have been melancholic lately. We miss our old city, mostly because the drive to our new school has bits and pieces that remind us of our old homes. It's like a dream where both places exist as they are. That is not the case. Beyond the round about we do not see The Thinkery, if only we did, the pond is not at Mueller, the highway isn't South 183 leading out of the city, if only we could have the best of both places in one place. 

We found alocal pho place and excitedly sat down but soon found out that MSG was used and no MSG is used at all our old pho places in the city. I sat there feeling obnoxious that we were about to just ask for a drink and not order. My child started crying and through her tears said," I miss Korea House, I miss Pho Saigon, I miss the sushi and Chinese food, I miss the Japanese place, I'm tired of Mexican food."  I wanted to cry with her. We are in a food desert and all you find here is Tex-Mex and chain restaurants. We went straight to the grocery store where I bought neck bones and oxtails and started on pho as soon as we got home.

Out came the stockpot and I finally unpacked my spices. One by one and with each glass jar in my hand I felt better and better. I reminded myself why we were here. It was not to go to restaurants but to cook for us and spend as much time together as possible. I thought of where we would be had we not moved. I would be working and she would be at daycare and there would be no pho when we got home, not until the weekend. So I kept the cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks out and started on our first pho in a new place.

As the scents fill the house and warm our space, I am no longer feeling so homesick, I start to think of how we have been together all day, enjoying our memories and missing our city but together. My sweet perfect walks into the kitchen and asks if the soup is ready, I tell her it's dinner not lunch, she tells me she is so excited about our very own pho. I know it will taste just like it did in the city. I remember those flavors so well, the images of every spice and the onions, ginger and herbs popping into my head with every spoonful. It is made patiently, not rushed, it is made with love and today we want to taste some of the past so I know we will find it in our bowls.

It's Reading Program Season

The summer of 2016 I introduced my four year old to the graphic novel El Deafo, the wonderful autobiographical account of the author Cece Bell. It was something we happened to stumble upon. After the first few pages she wanted me to read more, then every morning some more, then she couldn't wait to hop into bed to read some more. We finished it in two days and she was not happy. She wanted more, so for two years we have been reading graphic novels. Its summer 2018 and we are re-reading El Deafo , for the upteenth time... it's one of our special books.

We recently enjoyed Swing It, Sunny by siblings Jennifer and Matthew Holm. Sunny Side Up was the graphic novel we read after El Deafo. The Hildafolk series by Luke Pearson is another favorite book series that we just fell head over  heels for.  If you ask my child to dress up as her favorite book character she will bring out her Hildafolk costume and doll. A very sweet and talented friend made her an awesome Hilda doll. Now and then I find my now six year old, still chuckling about the first time the Woodman character was introduced in the first book.

Not a comic or graphic novel but another favorite book series is The Witches of Benevento by John Bemelmans Marciano and Sophie Blackall. We discovered these last year and the characters made a huge impression, inspiring the "Village Girl" costume and a strong desire to travel to Italy and know more about the country.  

We have our own copies of all these delicious books because we were constantly checking them out, renewing and getting fined for holding on to them too long. All were discovered during the library summer reading program. This is what happens when you just click with a book, so keep reading and digging through shelves and find those special titles that want to become part of a family library.

"La Santana"

Harpist Santana Perez-Avila would often perform at Breckenridge Park, under the pavilion at the Japanese Tea Garden. He would also perform around town as "La Santana".  He was my great-grandfather's brother. 

There is a recording of him performing with his a son, Juan, who played the violin for the San Antonio Symphony. I would love it if this recording had been preserved then digitized so  I could hear it. According to the book, Tell Me a Story, Sing Me a Song: A Texas Chronicle by William Owens, the harp was over 300 years old and made in Mexico. The song that was recorded by Owens was called Sobre Las Ollas/Orillas Del Agua, known to East Texas fiddlers as Over the Waves. It was of interest to Owens because it showed how Anglo fiddlers had borrowed from Spanish sheet music. They also played Jesusita en Chihuahua.

My grandfather had his cheekbones, eyes and his hands and I also have those hands. My grandfather would visit his Tio Santana when in San Antonio. Santana died of a heart attack at the age of 79, while at his home on 733 East Huisache Avenue, in San Antonio, on November 6, 1958.


... and it's our first summer vacation. My little girl couldn't be happier. Despite doing so well in school, she said she didn't like it and missed our "old fashioned days". She is referring to those long days of play, stories and activities with some errands sandwiched in.  I looked tirelessly for a job in the city that would accommodate better hours and a schedule that could give us more time together. I ended up finding that job in another town several hours away.

After discussing it with my child, explaining to her that this would mean leaving long time and newfound friends behind, all the places we have come to love and things we like to do there she still said she'd rather have more time together. For weeks I went over and over what we would be missing by moving to a small town but she would reply, "We can always visit."  She told me she wanted to have a pet, not a dog or cat but a bunny, a peacock and a chicken. She wanted her own garden and that she liked the museum the little town had and being close to her grandmothers. I am still astonished at her wisdom and maturity of spirit. I remained hesitant and continued to go on interviews.

Once we decided to move, other opportunities began to present themselves in the town that just sweetened the  deal and I could no longer put it off.  So we moved and now that we are here, the excitement of  this change is sinking in. I listen to my child who says we have a whole new life here. New is the key word that I stressed to myself when I woke up this morning with fears hovering about all stemming from that one question: Did I do the right thing? Then my little girl opened all the windows as soon as she woke up, something she has done since she could reach door knobs and curtains, and let in the daylight. It was then that I become present and focused on this happy, little smiling face with sparkly eyes, and infectious, bright optimism. This is where I want to be.

Cheat it

These are the days I want to remember and not lose in the hectic lifestyle that a job, city and strict schedules can bring. The rat race, with it's fast and short, myopic days make our time less satisfying than it once was because we are ruled by the clock in that race. I want my child to have her sleep but I also wish we could play or read more. I miss simmering a wholesome soup for hours in the kitchen and reading book after book, playing games or playing with clay with the radio tuned to the classical music station While we enjoy listening to the radio and our conversations while driving, it's all so rushed. My child wants her soul fed daily, as do I. We want to slow it down and so I have started to look for way to do so. I am all for cheating in this race. Losing some money to gain some time with my child isn't a sacrifice, it feels like the right thing to do and the only thing to do. However, gaining money and losing time with her only injures me. I won't regret time spent with my child. I am reminded of what a friend once said to me, that you spend so much less money when you are happy.

While mindfully set on this quest the other day, we found an enormous fig tree that  spread out like a little house with a doorway and rooms. It also contained a magical time warp. We went in and felt like we had been there forever but walked out and not much time had passed. When we visit after the work day is done, we find ourselves transported to a simpler and secret world where gnomes and faeries coach us on how to better live our lives. We emerge with renewed energy, and on our drive home, the inspirations from the fig tree begin: tea parties, paper dolls, books to read. We arrive home and let in the light, open the door and try to forget the clock. It works out better when we have visited the fig tree and sat in the middle of it's leafy room.

We are lucky to live in a city that has healthy fast food options. Again, another decision I do not regret is spending extra dollars now and then on quinoa done up fancy and delicious. I once had time to create my own healthy quinoa  dishes but its all limited now. While I spend more, it buys time and peace of mind knowing that we are managing to get our nutrition in for dinner.

For seven years I have been slowly parting with the life and ideas I once clung too, trying to learn the lessons of patience and spontaneity. I want to enjoy watching my child playing with her toys and listen to the characters and worlds she creates. I want to play with tea sets and rag dolls and set them up tables. Childhood is so rushed when children have no time to play with their toys. Adulthood is a blur when racing from one place to another daily. It's not living and none of it is satisfying or edifying. So take off work and sneak away when you can, do the work that really counts,  pick up your kid from school and do some living.