Monday, February 14, 2011


I was a late-comer to Facebook. I put it off, time after time, not caring or wanting to be a part of the new trend that it was a few years ago. Then, after my first Asian holiday in Bali, and after meeting so many great young people, I decided to get on the Facebook bandwagon, and have been riding happily along ever since.

There's a strong learning curve to Facebook regarding various facets of social networking, including the number of friends one might want to have, what to post and not to post (and who to block more privately), which applications might or might not be viruses, and how to not be a Facebook stalker.

One of the silliest personal quirks that I have developed as a result of being on Facebook for the last three years, though, is finding myself continually sharing my day, out loud to myself, in the third person - just like I would write in my 'status updates'. Like the events I write in this blog, I guess I often think that the minute-by-minute stuff that happens to me is of some value to others, or will make someone smile, or that someone will even care what I've just done in the last three minutes of my life (and remark with a cute/funny/sad/LOL comment). But, the problem is is that they happen so often that, were I to paste them all down, my status would change too, too many times a day. And frankly, nobody likes an overzealous Facebook updater.

But, just for fun's sake, I decided, for a week, to write down all of the third-person, one-liners that came to me throughout 7 days' worth of day-to-day living.

Now, many of them might not make sense because you've got no context for what I'm talking about. They are commonly inside-jokes, internal dialogue, or silly little lines that are often only funny/sensical to me and have come from part of an exchange I've had with someone (that I later remember and turn into the familiar one-liner) Publicly, those are most commonly the ones I don't post, as I don't see the point of posting something that's only funny/interesting/known to me. Although these would be the ones that would typically hit the imaginary cutting room floor of my mind before ever reaching my profile page, they do make up a good part of the never-ending one-line dialogue in my mind,which is ever so fascinating (to me, of course).

So, below they are posted - a week's worth of random thoughts. In the upcoming weeks and months I could look back through these, smile, and tell the story/time/place/thought train that brought each one about. If you'd ever like to sit down with coffee with me, I'd be happy to spill the more scandalous/interesting of the group of them. Until then, you'll have to try to make heads and tails of it all on your own, and that should be a fun game indeed.

(And of course, in Facebook-style, third-person fashion, you must read each one proceeded by the words: 'Wendy Foreman...')

... still gets goosebumps whenever she watches 'The Sound of Music'.
... wonders if his hands will be big enough?
... has changed her game plan.
... is striped from head to toe.
... "If you're loved by someone you're never rejected..."
... hates jerks.
... (is back in black.)
... is following Buddhist principle: "Smile as abuse is hurled your way and this too shall pass."
... is secretly urging the cherry blossoms to come, and quick!
... spricht sie Deutsch.
... thinks Elton John is a lyrical genius.
... wonders if she should be worried that her new contract for Germany has a large section for 'termination of contract' legalities on the first and second pages.
... now enjoys HCFS guilt-free.
... has a new obsession with pink grapefruits.
... wishes she could dance like Michael Jackson.
... hates jerks.
... thinks Bernie Taupin is a lyrical genius.
... hates waiting. Hates, hates, hates.
... is working on her patience bone.
... wonders if she should write a last will and testament?
... still loves Sixlets (only not up her nose).
... is feeling wiser every day. (No, seriously, I am!)
... actually gets a lunch hour today (whoopee!).
... praying for a snow day (but isn't holding her breath).
... thinks the simple act of unsubscribing to junk mail is so cleansing.
... still gets goosebumps whenever she watches 'The Shawshank Redemption'.

*actual posts

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Memoir: The Chef

When it comes to food that’s amazing, it is all, of course, in the mouth of the critic. For those who read the title thinking, ‘The Chef?’ and have come looking for stories of gourmet cuisine (the likes of which you’d find in a magazine), please read no further. Chicken Florentine and crème brulee are hardly the stuff of my childhood memories. But for those who remember the particular way even the most basic of food tastes when served from the kitchen of someone you love, this post is for you.

For me, though, this post is for my grandpa.

A farmer for life and a butcher by trade, my grandpa grew up understanding and cutting meat as naturally as one can. So valuable were his services, in fact, that when drafted into the Korean War, he was spared from active duty due to the fact that, as a meat-cutter, he couldn’t be replaced. My grandfather literally missed serving on the front lines in order to serve the front lines, and without this exception, it would be possible to assume that I, nor my extended family, might not be here to tell the stories of such times.

My grandfather’s past as a butcher held no importance to me in my youth though. Instead, it was what ended up on the table in front of me as a child that I hold on to most dearly in my mind. Good, old-fashioned and simple farm meals of fried chicken and sweet corn, pot roasts with boiled potatoes, beef stews, and, beginning in my teenage years, homemade bread from the bread maker, are what I remember most. On one too many occasions, my auntie and I would both be caught with our spoons (or hands) in the pots of this or that, or in the just-opened bread maker. To this day, if only to be obstinate, still insist on first dibs of any freshly baked slices.

The crowning achievement of my grandfather’s culinary prowess, though, was his homemade ice cream, for which he found local fame (if not within the small community town in which he lived, most definitely within the family). Often duplicated but never replicated, the smooth creamy perfectness of his fresh ice cream on a warm summer night was the perfect compliment to a fully belly of rich foods. A promised ending to any meal, it was also offered as a ‘bedtime treat’ for all guests at the Bed and Breakfast my grandparents ran out on the farm. Of course, once the guests were served, free reign on seconds for the rest of us was always assumed.

It can be seen as interesting how the foods of our youth can shape our adult palates, and although I don’t think anyone will can make a perfect 7-layer jell-o salads or amazingly juicy meatloaf as well has he did, it is those meals that I continue to play with as favourites in my mind. Although my diet today is as far of a resemblance to farm-styled fare as you could possibly get, those meals continue to be the foods that bring back a small slice of childhood to me when I think about them. It is likely that among the healthier fare I choose in these days, the recipes I loved as a child will likely be passed on as favourites to my children someday as well. It'll be my own secret way of ensuring that the memory of my grandpa (and his homemade ice cream) will never die.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Memoir: Hands


My great grandmother’s hands and feet are some of the wrinkliest things I have ever seen.

Suffering from arthritis, she has knuckles the shape and size of large marbles, fingers that crook in all directions, and toes that bend in instead of lay straight. Although it looks painful, Grandma (in her usually steadfast (stubborn?) way) assures that they are no problem, and true to her resolve, her hands and feet move just as they should.

I am ashamed to say that I don’t know much about her childhood or upbringing, nor that of my great grandpa – I often feel that stories like those are lost on these generations. Although it was not too long before I was born, I am not sure exactly when or how Great Grandpa died, but I can say that he was handsome, and looks much like my grandpa and great uncle. A charming grin, and a strong chin passed down through generations (including, regretfully, mine), he was remembered as a hard-working man. In his generation, they all were, but maybe few with a great-grandma as strong and proud as mine.

When I was younger, too young to appreciate or remember, Grandpa used to take me out to the farm where he grew up, raised as one of four children to parents who valued a good day’s work. Being a bored child many generations removed, though, I’d quickly run out to the woods to run across the logs that would transverse small, cold cricks. Other days I’d gather gnawed corncobs, left empty by hungry birds and squirrels.

My grandpa once remarked that his mother’s hands were one of the things he remembered most fondly from his childhood. To him, they were the hands of an angel, rubbing Vapo-rub onto his chest during one of his many childhood fevers. Those same hands have held generations of babies, made countless orange Jell-o salads, and have played thousands and thousands of games of Yahtzee with anyone who dare to challenge her.

I visit her as often as I can during the summers, usually between games of golf with Grandpa, or on a quiet summer afternoon. Sitting down to eat or throw the dice around, I marvel to have made it another time to be able to sit and do so. Because I know she won’t be around much longer, I always take care to lovingly notice those hands, and snap a picture into the deepest folds of my memory. Through the crooked, wrinkled, and spotted skin, I see years of life having been lived, and as we enjoy each other’s company, I often quietly think that I would like to live a life as long and fine as she so that my hands, too, will have touched as many as hers.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


This post was brought to you today by the letters J and C.

J (for Jayden) and C (for Cheryl) indirectly planted seeds for what is to be a new set of posts for me. But first, a brief explanation.

You see, I was recently explaining to Cheryl, my former secretary at Waukee Elementary, that I hadn't been blogging lately. 'It's just,' I told her, 'that nothing in Japan seems interesting to me anymore. My blogs, truthfully, come from the unexpected, odd, funny, and random, and truthfully, my life here is no longer any of those.'

On an unrelated note, I've been reading Beverly Cleary's memoir, 'A Girl From Yamhill' with one of my cherubs, Jayden, for the last few weeks. As our work together usually includes working on writing, I asked him to produce brief vignettes, much as Mrs. Cleary does, about his own life. Of course, it wouldn't be genuine if I didn't offer to do the same work myself, and so, a new style of writing for me, the personal memoir, was unexpectedly expected.

Being quite happy to be writing again, I felt to share the new works with you as well, if for nothing than to share my pieces, or write things that my family will (hopefully) enjoy reading. Of course, I do love to flaunt my way with words, and of course I wouldn't want to let my (small but supportive) audience down!

My first vignette was based from Mrs. Cleary's chapter called, 'Earliest Memories'. I asked Jayden to write his earliest memory (getting lost at Disneyland when he was 3), and I chose mine (my mother mowing the lawn). Below, and in subsequent posts, I share my memoirs with you.



The yard was quite small in the house where my mother and I lived, no bigger than the space where a large garage could have sat, and barely enough room for a small girl to play. Mowing the lawn was one of my mother’s favourite things to do, and whenever the weather was just right, that’s where she’d be.

As she walked back and forth, mowing even straight patterns in the grass, I could see her strong pale legs and her tattered lawn clothes, her hair matted to her sweaty forehead. I had seen the underside of a mower before, and knew better than to come too close as she moved. I chose to instead play with the neighbours, or around the rusting junk pile behind the house – an accumulation of once-new treasures that had built up over the years. No matter how far away I would play, though, I could never escape the combination of fresh cut grass mixed with dirty lawn clothes and sweat, the smells of a hard afternoon’s work in the yard.

On the rare occurrence when she’d ask if I wanted to help, I’d nod with trepid anticipation, slightly weary of the roaring blades that would soon be closer to my feet than hers. As I walked in front of her, barely tall enough to reach the bar, I pretended that it was important, the work I was doing, but secretly, I was always glad when the job was done. A big glass of ice water for both of us was always the reward, and although a simple treat, was all the more delicious for the work that went in to earning it.