My mother was a strong influence on my life. She always said that if we could read and knew our maths, we could do anything.
She was living proof of this when she was told she would be on steroids the rest of her life. She went to the library every day for a couple of weeks, investigating medicines with her high school chemistry to guide her. Then, she prepared a map of how she could slowly decrease the steroids while gradually increasing a non-steroidal medicine, and eventually come off that over time. She took the plan to her doctor who checked it over and admitted that it was possible. Plan activated – Mom off the steroids.
It is interesting that my husband shares my values, though we were raised in different countries. His mother died when he was seven years old, so he spend Summers and school holidays with his grandmother. From the sounds of it, she was an old-fashioned woman who required proper grammar and fair play.
So, we were both from families of seven children, mine spread over 10 years with me being next to the youngest; his was spread over 20 years with step-siblings, with him being the eldest. Both our families valued education and particularly the trades. He went into training to be a quantity surveyor, and has continued to do it now into his 70th year, even in retirement. I trained in secretarial and accounting skills, then attended university after having children.
We have both taught ourselves other skills which we were interested in, or required, over the years. We have two grandchildren in Portugal, so we have learned enough Portuguese to get by when the grandchildren are not there to interpret. He has researched knots, lines, bait, how to build a hinaki (eel trap), then how best to skin an eel. (I’m sure there’s another term used here, but I’m just the observing wife.) He has researched and built a smoke house.
(Perhaps I will write more later – the smoke house is big because he wanted to be able to slide old oven trays straight into it. Several guests have asked whether we have an outhouse in our garden. Brynn and I offered to paint it blue with a yellow moon at the top. BBM prefers the other assumption – that we have a Dr. Who tartis in the garden.)
We have recently begun learning ukulele so that we will have entertainment on our boat on quiet nights. But perhaps the most useful and engaging skill(s) we have gained through reading and watching has been various kinds of cooking.
We have travelled and enjoyed other cultures’ foods, but to be able to successfully replicate the food at home has been a real joy. Brynn began taking photos and texting them to her Asian friends. She has double degrees in Chinese and Linguistics, and many of her peers were Kiwi Chinese who wanted to learn more about their background language and culture. So, it started a competition among her group of university friends, who could text the best looking food? Brynn was proud that BBM’s cooking was right up there with the pictures from her friend’s father’s restaurant.
The more we learn, the more we want to learn, and we realise that life really is too short to know all we would like to know. New Zealand is a genuine mix of people of all cultures, and we enjoy meeting as many as we come across. The melting pot of life is colourful, inspiring, fantastic.
The picture above is borscht. The beets were from our own garden. The rosemary featured on top is also from our garden. We have all kinds of other herbs so that we have what we need fresh without having to run to the shops. I split some lemon grass and put a clump part way down our walk path. It now rivals the bushes around it. The Thai basil is wonderful in salads, and in spite of everything you hear about mint – we cannot grow enough.
In the picture, note that we have a blue pot just like Rick Stein’s on TV. Ha. There is some kind of satisfaction comparing our finished products with the pictures in his books.
And what, you might ask, does cooking have to do with the Big Boat Man? Well, we will need to cook on the boat in a tight space. So research has informed how that will occur.
When BBM first started living with Brynn and I we had many curious moments. Teenaged Brynn walked into the kitchen one evening and declared that obviously HE was cooking that night. A bewildered BBM turned to me, I could tell his feelings were hurt. How did she know from just looking at the kitchen that he had cooked? Well, take a look around. Every single pan, mixing bowl, small spice bowl, and serving platter had been used. Our resident teenager was considering all the clean up required.
He said that the recipe required things to be prepared ahead so that it could be cooked in order. He wanted to know how I cooked without using all the dishes and pans? I explained how my mother had shown me to wash up as I was cooking – so that the cook could sit down and enjoy the meal with the guests without thinking about the work coming up after the meal.
He now proudly points out how relatively clean the kitchen is after he cooks.
The floor space never comes into it, but I figure that’s a small price to pay for a happy, engaged cook in the house.
I am the envy of the other female managers when they ask what I’m having for dinner? I have to say, I don’t know, let me call my husband and find out.