Sunday, April 22, 2007

Grandma Fish's Surpise Birthday Party

Grandma Fish's Birthday
Early Saturday morning, John and Maggie met us at our house and we headed South on the I-15 towards Newport Beach for a surprise birthday party that Maggie and her sister, Jan, have been planning for months for Grandma Fish.

We stopped for breakfast at Coco's in Baker before arriving at Tom and Susan's house where the party will be held.

I started on cooking the different components of what would ultimately become spring rolls while Maggie, Jan, and Susan made centerpieces of sweet peas for the dinner tables. After a while, we needed some fuel to energize our bodies after getting up so early to make the long drive so Jan made a batch of Asian Pear Mojitos. (She found the recipe through a Google search and apparently, it is the recipe from a P.F. Change bartender.)

Nothing could be so good and refreshing as the mojitos Aunt Jan made!! With that, we continued to work and before we knew it, the rest of the family started arriving until finally everyone was present for the big moment--when Grandma would arrive with Jan later in the afternoon.Johnny and Daly

(The story is that Jan and Grandma were invited to Tom and Susan's for her birthday dinner. For the moment, Jan was "working at a site with the landscapers".)

After finishing up with the cooking at Susan's house, Jan left for home to pick up Grandma. Finally, Grandma and Jan pulled into the driveway. All was silent as we gathered around the front door. Maggie answered the doorbell and, Grandma--not expecting Maggie to be there, was just speechless as she saw everyone else gathered around the doorway. Her reaction was just priceless.

After cocktail hour, dinner began: juicy grilled beef tenderloin, poached salmon, tasty chicken lasagna, fresh spring rolls, succulent artichokes, warm goat cheese salad, and cucumber salad with all of the fixings. (I drool thinking about all of the delicious food we had.)

Dinner was just excellent--maybe I had a little too much fun but it was finally time for the opening of gifts. Tons of cards had been mailed to Tom and Susan's home from relative who couldn't be present. Some of the cards were from overseas and some played music. Grandma enjoyed opening each of them and sharing her cards with everyone around the dinner table.

Setting the scene.After opening her other gifts, she finally came upon the last box with a colorful wrapper--our group gift.

Inside was a soft lunch box with tropical patterns. Or so she thought. But she loved it and graciously admired her new lunch box just as she had done with her previous gifts.

She noticed her lunch box was stuffed but didn't think much of it but the crowd around the table encouraged her to open her lunch box.

To her surprise--she discovered a clear plastic bag full of hundred dollar bills. It was so funny watching her as she closed her lunch box in disbelief and peeked into it, as if expecting the cash not to be there.

Needless to say Grandma was stunned and we were all so happy for her. Hopefully she may purchase that headboard for her bed that she has always wanted or perhaps take a trip to visit her family in England or whatever her big heart wishes.

We topped off our wonderful evening with a piece of the chocolate birthday cake and a slice of lemon meringue vanilla ice cream pie. It was just a great weekend!

Sometimes, while flying on Canada flights or transversing the oceans on Jet Airlines, one does feel like going for some time travel backwards. To the days of nice old car rental deals and countryside,where getting a car rental was no big deal at all. Also because these formal stays at expensive hotel rooms remind one of the nice pay guests tradition.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My Grandmother

I had a bad feeling that something might happen within my family. Cynical, I know. But my hunch came out of guilt for not calling or e-mailing my family lately. Especially my mom and dad.

And so when I heard the news from my sister, it really bothered me because through the years, I never tried to call my grandmother or mail her anything, using our international distance as an excuse. True, I was not close to her but she is still my dad's mom and my grandmother.

I have always wondered what it would have been like to grow up with grandparents--and to know them. Since I have yet to experience that, part of me feels empty. Luckily, I still have two grandmothers to love and so I am grateful to be part of my husband's family. I am lucky to feel what it is like to have a grandmother who is caring, loving, and makes it her priority that I learn from her and experience the holidays to the fullest. Sometimes having that relationship with my Grandma Fish makes me painfully aware of what I don't have with my parent's grandmothers. I try not to think about that.

Part of me regrets not sharing all of the joys in my life with my dying grandmother. Not sharing Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter with her in some way, however small.

It is evil of me to think I wouldn't cry as hard if my mother's mom was in this terminal situation. Don't get me wrong, I love her and will grieve when she passes on--she is still my grandmother. But she at least has the luxury of living in the city, maids to tend to her, she's made a couple trips to the U.S., and has been showered with love in the form of money by my mom.

My dad's mom, on the other hand, is poor and has struggled just to survive day to day life. She lives in the country of Laos and so that hard life ultimately led to her impending death. I think about how she does not have the comfort of spending her last days in a hospital where she'll have the care and comfort from any painand suffering she must be feeling. But I don't know that she is suffering and so I hope that when she passes, it will be quick and painless.

I also think I have a special connection to her because I was the grandchild who looked like her. I see my reflection on my laptop, next to her picture on my screen and think, will I look like her when I am old? Will I live longer than her?

I guess there is no sense in worrying about that. There is still a lot of life to live and I intend to do just that. Celebrate life in memory of my grandmother. At least I had the chance to see her for the short time that she visited us in WA and will always remember the times we had together.

This picture was taken in 2004 when my parents, sisters, and brother-in-law visited Laos and Thailand. On the far left in white is my mom's mom and in the middle front, wearing white is my dad's mom.

Quiet Mouse and Peeping Tom, respectively. They earned their nicknames during their visit in the states. My maternal grandmother, Quiet Mouse, never said much and when she did she was soft spoken and gentle. But Quiet Mouse was not so quiet after all when she ratted us out for having our boyfriends talk to us from outside our bedroom windows.

Peeping Tom was always curious. Because she was from the poor country, everything in the states was so new to her. The cold and hot water coming out of the faucet, the electric stove range that boiled hot water to cook her sticky rice, the toilet she had not known how to use until I showed her after walking in on her and seeing that she was standing over it, and her biggest curiousity was us grandkids. She was amused when we would blow dry our hair and curl our manes with a hot iron...peeping through the curtains that covered the glass doors to our bedroom.

I will always remember her story of going through the airport after landing in Seattle. She said, "We went in this tiny room, not much bigger than this (referring to our bathroom) and when the doors opened, we were in a different place, a larger room with luggage everywhere. How did they do that?!" She was convinced it was magic.

Smiling, I figured out that she had been in an elevator!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday was nice...

The whole weekend was nice even though it started out ... to be kind of ... marked with gloom.

I did not felt well ... since Thursday afternoon, I was feeling ... under the weather.

So I went home early. And Friday, I slept half of the day.

Perhaps I was broken down.

Maybe it was allergies.

I was tired. I never get sick. I mean, I NEVER get sick. Not when the colds and flu were going around during the winter. I always manage to slip by, unscathed.

But this Easter weekend, I was down.

Under the weather.

I just remembered that last year (or was it the year before), I had felt like I was coming down with something.

So unlike me to get sick, you know? Well, it's Easter weekend again ... and I felt like I was going to get sick. The fever, chills, headache, congestion. Could have been severe allergies.

Okay. I don't like how this post is starting.

So Easter Sunday came and it started out nice.

Johnny and I made coffee and had a breakfast of croissants and honey turkey. We cleaned up the house: pulled weeds, vaccuum (sp?), did the dishes and laundry, he cleaned the bathrooms, we gave the kitties wet food and fresh litterboxes, and even worked out to a new exercise video.

But despite the lovely morning, I had (and have been having a bad feeling) that something would be wrong with my family. Perhaps it would be my mom and dad ... I haven't talked to them in a while.

When all was done around the house, I checked the voicemail on my cell phone. My phone which I had ignored for over a day except only when Johnny called. It was my sister.

"Daly,..." she said, "I heard from our brother ... Grandma is dying."

What?! I was affected by the news but not surprised given my suspicion.

"It's Grandma Peeping Tom. Mom is preparing for the funeral but she has not told Dad yet.".

How Grandma Peeping Tom got her nickname is a long story but she is my father's mom. She had been sick and it is certain that she is dying.

I played the news over and over in my head as we were getting ready for Easter Dinner with my husband's family this evening: his parents, aunt, and grandmother from CA along with Shannon and Teresa (the maiden of honor and groomsman for our wedding).

I am not the supersticous type but I couldn't help but wonder ... was she sick when I was sick?

I was not that close to my grandmother but yet I was so sad after hearing the news. Even feelings of guilt crept over me.

I had only met her once. When I was in high school when she and my mother's mom came to America for their first time.

She had said (in Laotian) to my parents after meeting me, "So is this the one that looks like me?". Apparantly, I must've looked like an old woman at 3 years old. I actually thought I looked like her after seeing a black and white photo of me frowning into the camera. The sun was glaring on my face as I posed to take a picture for immigration.

My Grandmother, she was so curious about our life in America. She had lived in the suburbs of Laos--I mean the undeveloped country of Laos.

There was no electricty. No plumbing. None of the "luxuries" we take for granted in the states. (When my dad paid her a surprise visit to her home a few years ago, he slept on a rock wrapped with his jacket for a pillow.)

Like I said, she had only visited the states once while I was a teenager. And our life (of luxury) fascinated her. From the flushing toilets to blowdryers and curling irons to electric coils that heated up to boil water, cooking sticky rice--the staple of her daily meals back home. And so she earned the name, Peeping Tom, because she was always observing our ... what we thought was a normal, every day life but a true curiosity to her.

She loved life here in the states ... but her Visa expired and she soon went back home. To a country I have never stepped on since I left twenty-seven years ago. A place I have only seen videos of ... where the people didn't seem to know any better than the life they knew.

But my grandmother knew better. And oh the stories she must've told when she went back home about the "magical" little rooms that expanded to larger rooms (which I eventually figured out were elevators) when she got off the airplane in the U.S. airport.

I will miss her. Though I never knew her that well, as I looked at Johnny's grandmother tonight who was a few feet away from me. Laughing and full of life. I could touch her, hug her. I thought of my grandmother. The one I never really got to know but only met once in my lifetime.

She never baked me cookies. She never taught me how to cook. But what she reminded me of was humility and to find the simple joys in life--like watching your grandkids have the opportunity to live a better life and curl their hair with an electric curling iron... a luxury she had, for only a moment in life.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

New Course of Study and New Place?

My horoscope today:
You Rams are the pioneers of the zodiac and can be enthusiastic about any
path of discovery. Your current long-term plans may include enrolling in a new
course of study or traveling to someplace you've never been. Now, however, you
may need to reconsider your options and take someone else's feelings into
consideration too. Don't fret; things will work out for the best.

Hmm...well, I have been thinking of taking a couple of graduate classes this fall though I am not certain they will be MBA classes, the program I had wanted to pursue months ago.

My sweet husband, when things are slow at work, he...let's just say gets creative.

Yesterday he mentioned to me that he would like to go to Cabo for five days in June saying, 'see what I do when things are slow at work--I look for ways to spend money'. Usually he's too busy to even think about what to do with himself.

But by June, we will be due for a vaction if we don't take one sooner. I would really like to go to Caribbean or Sri Lanka but honestly, I do not like the traveling portion. Long flights cut into my time to relax. Maybe later this year or next year when I can take more than a week off at a time and not feel rushed to get there and enjoy.

MMmm...I could use a vacation about now. Even if it is in my own backyard.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Watch out--here I come because I am FINALLY taking swimming lessons!! (Well...I finally signed up to take swimming lessons but that's just as good.)

For three Wednesday nights in May, I'll be in group classes with all the beginner adults taking swimming lessons.

I promised Maggie I would do it last year and I'm blushing to say it took me a year to do as I promised but better late than never.

Except by the time I actually learn to swim, we may not even have a boat to get out on the lake with since Johnny listed our boat on Boat Trader last night...but there is still Maggie and John's pool!!

I am looking forward to making a fool of myself in the pool.

P.S. No Malibu String bikinis will be worn...I remember that I have a sporty one-piece bathing suit I can wear at the pool. Kinda early 90's cobalt blue speedo suit (like this) but it will work...LOL!! Yep, that suit is an approved uniform apparel for George Watson's College so it should certainly be presentable for a public pool.