Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Pupusas Frijoles

Last Wednesday I worked and in the evening, C. came over for dinner. Years ago, I got a sturdy card table with folding legs, thinking I would set it up, drape a tablecloth over it, and have someone over for a home-cooked dinner, but it wasn’t until Wednesday that I got around to doing this. C. contributed  the tablecloth, a colorful piece of fabric he got from a friend’s giving-stuff-away party, and we had the aforementioned barley-mushroom pilaf with dinosaur kale and avocado slices, and it was very nice.

All this healthy eating (or, more accurately, elimination of the dessert courses) has resulted in a pretty substantial weight loss, and while this was a fervently pursued goal in my childhood and teens, it has been decades since I’ve striven to become smaller, so it’s peculiar, even slightly distressing, to see someone in the mirror who doesn’t look like me, both the decreased overall volume and unusually large hair.

I liked the way I looked just fine before losing weight, and to my own eye, I now mainly look old, thin and stressed out, which leads me to wonder if the weight loss is due to the anti-cancer diet or to cancer itself. Part of me is afraid it’s the latter and is worried I’m dying (more so than anyone is dying).

On Thursday I had to go into an office location of my employer to do some initial computer setup, so I biked downtown to do that. Before I left the office building, I walked around the floor and was pleased to see some familiar names, though not the faces to match; there was hardly a soul around. But one of the names was of a woman I sat right next to for years, and another was that of a man I also sat near for a year or two, so I left notes for them. On my way home, I stopped to buy a mouse for my work laptop.

I spent Friday getting organized at work, making new documents (with tables of contents!), requesting my access and meeting with colleagues. I’m kind of enjoying all of these things. J., who directs my work day to day, is continuing to be very low-key, which is good. In the evening, C. and I went to La Santaneca for dinner and I treated myself to all four important celebrity gossip magazines so I can understand completely what’s happening with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.

This past Saturday, I had tea at Borderlands CafĂ© with a man named Charlie who runs a local nonprofit. I was interested to learn more about nonprofit organizations in the area, because I’d like to end up working at one. He told me about a bunch of great places I wasn't familiar with. After that, I bought a bike light at Freewheel and walked over to see my hospice lady. I took Tom to La Santaneca in the evening—he liked it—and then we took BART to Daly City to see Premium Rush.

On Sunday I spent the day doing nothing in particular, and C. and I had dinner at Esperpento. Afterward, he read some poems to me and we watched Tomboy.

Monday was my parents’ 52nd wedding anniversary. (Happy anniversary!) Unrelated to that, I made lentil soup with tarragon and thyme, and yellow split peas and quinoa. The evening found C. and me at La Santaneca yet again, where server Edwin knows our order by heart: we each have one pupusa frijol (bean pupusa, an El Salvadorean staple) and a side order of casamiento (rice and beans—arroz y frijoles—fried together). We share an enormous side order of platanos fritos (fried plantains). C. gets some crema (sour cream) to go with his dinner. His pupusa is made with rice flour and mine with corn flour.

Yesterday evening I went to Howie’s.

Today I found out that my hospice lady, nearing her 99th birthday, had died, which was a bit hard to comprehend: She was so perfectly, entirely alive just this past Saturday, smiling and talking. I’m so glad I saw her that day.

During our visit, she told me about working as a housekeeper when she was in her 50s, for a family with a little boy, with whom she would play catch in the yard when he came home from school. One day, workmen came and pulled the cover off a manhole in the street out front. A. and her charge were warned to stay away, but A. took the little boy over to the hole anyway, and they lay on their stomachs to peer into the depths. “That little boy must have loved you,” I said. “He was a nice boy,” she said.

One day, the lady of the house told A. to put a casserole of pork chops and grapes into the oven, but when the time came, the oven proved to be broken, so A. went next door and asked the neighbor for the use of her oven, and when her own employer came home, she was delighted that A. had been so enterprising and saved the day. A. said, “When boss came home, she happy.”

A. could still recall how delicious the casserole was, which reminded me about the man I visited for many months late last year and early this year. One of his very last reminiscences was also about food, about the chess pie his mother used to make.
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