Sinangag, Re-potting, Weeding

Not the most elegant of titles, but definitelyaccurate. For the non-Filipinos reading this, sinangag is garlic fried rice, traditionally eaten in the Philippines for breakfast, paired with sausages, cured meat or dried fish, and eggs. It is how we recycle leftover rice, and since Filipinos never had a bread culture until we became a Spanish colony, the tradition of sinangag goes back several centuries. It is part of my cultural heritage, and has always a been a mark of home. My citizenship may have changed, but I cannot turn my back on my Filipino roots, as they are the fibre of my soul. Memories of family and friends sharing sinangag over the years are endless sources of joy.

Ever since I arrived in Portugal and lived in hostels and shared flats, the luxury of cooking garlic rice was never an option. So imagine my joy when I was finally able to cook some this morning! The aroma of fried garlic in the kitchen attracted even my newfound feline friends, who came around and poked their head through the kitchen window. It was the perfect start to the kind of Saturday morning that I am used to – a late start to the morning (in my book that is 07:30), cooking sinangag, scrambled eggs and mushrooms. I decided to forgo the fish today simply because my aim was to pamper my tastebuds with garlic rice. Add a strong cup of coffee to all this and morning jazz blasting through the house, I was in the best of moods! Ah, the heady aroma of home, can anything be more uplifting than that?

Once breakfast was over, I had a choice whether to continue fixing the bedroom or do some gardening, either way I had to do the laundry first. I automatically wondered whether the washing machine would be available or if someone had beaten me to it, when I chided myself into remembering that I no longer have competition to the washing machine or the laundry lines! It may sound too ordinary and insignificant to some, but to me it was a triumphant moment. No more waiting my turn in the bathroom and certainly no race to the laundry area. The best part is that since I now hang my laundry on the rootop terrace, it dries in the blink of an eye thanks to the winds up here.

I had a bitterseet moment while hanging the laundry, and had to stop to remember my mother-in-law, may she rest in peace. She never wanted a clothes drier and claimed that there was nothing better than fresh laundry that has dried in clean country air, blowing in the wind. Well I get her point now, after all these years. Living in large metropolitan cities you don’t have this option, and in small apartments, laudry space is limited to wherever you can set up the clothes rack. So yes, folks, countryside hilltop air as a natural clothes drier is the ultimate luxury. Besides, with the view I have from up there, excuse to go up to the terrace is fine with me!

So, what about decision I had to make after breakfast? Well, I opted for gardening and began re-potting plants that I had inherited with the house, several of which were in desperate need for rescrue and pampering. Luckily I also inherited garden tools to go with this project, and it was bliss to get my hands dirty again. I’ve always wanted a gardening bench where I could repot plants in a meditative fashion, alone with my thoughts and focusing only on the elements of nature in my hands – earth, water, plants. Above and around me I had sunshine and a light wind. And now dream has come true, albeit a pesky interfering cat.

T’challa had come around earlier to claim her bowl of milk through the kitchen window, and the sassy little feline returned with a friend in tow to show him/her the new milkbar in the neighborhood. Once the friend departed, T’challa hung around to supervise my activities, and lap up whatever water was around. She was fine until she discovered my portable speaker and decided this was an interesting new toy. The first time she knocked it down from the chair I found it amusing, but the next four attempts to claw, bite and run away with it were no longer funny. No way am I letting a cat abscond with my Bose speaker!

Long story short, I had a very productive gardening morning, before settling down for a light lunch of homemade bread and some local cheese. Goodness gracious me does goat cheese stink! It always reminds me of smelly old gym socks, but thankfully it doesn’t taste like that. Just have to wash it down with a strong enough liquid or pair it with some strong flavoured marmalade.

In the afternoon I wanted to get on with the next project when I realised that there is no rush, none whatsoever. There is no deadline that I have to maintain or race I have to win. This is home, and my sacred space, therefore I also need to savour the moments and positive energies I am creating along the way. So I put up my feet and read.
Pure unadulterated bliss.

The next triumphant moment of the day did not involve plants, felines or furniture, but the arrival of the Amazon delivery man. I was thrilled and relieved when I saw him at the gate, and grinned like a discombobulated fool when I received the package. If Amazon delivery can find me, I can’t be that cut off from civilization! I may have transmogrified into a frobbit (yes I actually did mash frog and hobbit into one) in the Mafra Shire and embraced the solitary countryside life, but not all is lost if
a. I have internet and
b. deliveries actually find their way to me.

I found myself weeding the steps leading to my office earlier this evening (it has its own entrance) and as I tugged at the offensive weeds that had invaded the stone steps, It ocurred to me that this is exactly what I have been doing with my life these past months. Weeding out all the negativity and clearing the path for a new lease on life.

I leave you with two images:

Zen of Moving I ©FrogDiva Photography

The first is the beginning of my meditation area. I have this marvelous little alcove between levels that is completely open on one side. The light is gentle and subtle, and the whole vibe, for lack of a better word, is prayerful, meditative, and serene. It brings be back to my retreat days in South India and somehow anchors me spiritually to the house.

Zen of Moving II ©FrogDiva Photography

The second is my Happiness Tree (Arvore de Felecidade / Polyscia) that I bought the first week after arriving in Portugal. It stood by me all these months, and survived the relocations along the way. I had promised it a proper pot once we arrived home and I fulfilled my promise yesterday. It too has arrived home.

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