Delights: May 27 to June 2

May 27: My book club is reading “Crying in H Mart,” a memoir by Michelle Zauner, who also leads the indy band Japanese Breakfast. (Jeremiah is a big fan of the band; President Obama is a big fan of the book.) I’ll be hosting our book club’s discussion, and I’m already assembling my props. Yes, I’ll display covers of her albums. Yes, I’ll show off Zauner’s autographed poster. I might even wear Jeremiah’s Japanese Breakfast sweater for a while. But I realized that my biggest preparation should involve a trip to H Mart. 

H Mart is a supermarket chain that specializes in Asian food. As Zauner explains, “The H stands for han ah reum, a Korean phrase that roughly translates to ‘one arm full of groceries.’ . . . It’s the only place where you can find a giant vat of peeled garlic, because it’s the only place that truly understands how much garlic you’ll need for the kind of food your people eat.”

An H Mart opened just a few miles away. With “Crying in H Mart” as my guide (this book is as much a celebration of Korean food as it is a memoir grieving the death of Zauner’s mom), I grabbed noodles, munchies and sweets. Some tastes may be exotic; this story of friction, love and loss is not. 

May 28: Nate phoned me from the beach at Assateague to tell me the surf was “firing.” When he saw I wasn’t on video, he urged me to ditch my gardening gloves and just pay attention. I obliged and he held up his phone for me to savor the glorious waves, breaks and barrels. Shortly after, Jeremiah invited me to play a game he knows I enjoy, using a deck he gave me and coaching me through all the tricky parts. 

I’d say that was a pretty nice day.

Same ocean, different day.

May 29: Although the sun scorched our upper deck seats, Jeremiah and I happily shared a sandwich, a bucket of popcorn and two cold beers. We shared baseball news (Jeremiah had far more insights than I did) and baseball memories. We also shared a surprising Washington Nationals victory. I recorded every hit and out in my scorecard. I didn’t need a pen to remember everything else.

May 30: As I climbed the hill, I could hear the horns and drums of our town’s concert band. The band drew me to town center, to the memorial garden, to our town’s annual Memorial Day commemoration.

Every year is the same, but different. The same: a roll call for our town’s war dead. Different: the prayer, the quotations, the inspiration.

Perhaps the salt on my cheeks was perspiration. Perhaps it was tears: to see a sixty-five year old war veteran informally offering, from his participant’s seat, American Sign Language to someone close to him. To hear the names of so many people who put themselves in harm’s way for the common good. To thank the majestic uniformed singer who, before closing the ceremony with the chorus of “God Bless America,” sang immigrant Irving Berlin’s verse, imploring prayer as storm clouds gather.

I almost didn’t attend the ceremony: so many chores to do. But once again I’m enriched when I make a modest effort. May I remember this wisdom next year.

True, I didn’t stay for the Memorial Day parade, which traditionally features marching bands, miniature cars and Bolivian dancers. But I did see one of the dancer’s extravagant headdresses.
My Mom, enjoying the Bolivian dancers on Memorial Day, 2014.

May 31: Yesterday I stumbled upon a full page newspaper clipping my Dad had given me on Opening Day, 1999. Photographed from behind, a father and his young daughter stand in a dark archway that frames the bright greens and tans of a baseball diamond. The father looks lovingly at his little girl. The little girl, wearing her baseball glove and seeing the field appear suddenly before her, is frozen in a kind of enchantment. (Why am I crying?)

Based on their attire and the style of the ballpark, this could be the 1960s.

The caption reads: “There’s nothing like the first time you make it to the majors.” My Dad wrote in red ink at the top, “Carol Ann and Daddy at Shea Stadium, 1969.” And taped to the back is my ticket stub for August 23, 1969. (My beloved New York Mets won that game.)

I showed it to Jeremiah. He studied the image. “It must give you great pleasure to do for us what your dad did for you.”

In 1969, the Amazin’ Mets won it all. In 2019, the Washington Nationals did. And I shared the happiness with both Nate and Jeremiah.

June 1: Sure, I told my friend Lee, I’ll join you for a walk along the Potomac River. Indeed, we walked and walked and walked. And it was so much more. 

We watched local fire & rescue experts train for river emergencies. (We later saw them battling the whitewater of Great Falls.) Lee kindly took a photo of a family visiting the Falls from England. We talked to a journalist from a German news service (@ ARD Washington), who was recording a story about canal boats and mules. We studied the 190-year old engineering that created the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal and towpath (now a National Park) and the 160-year old engineering of the aqueduct that, to this day, delivers drinking water to Washington, D.C.

Because Great Falls National Park hugs both sides of the river, we marveled at the towering trees and uninterrupted views everywhere we looked. And all this is within 20 minutes of Washington, D.C. I’ll definitely say “yes” again the next time Lee asks.

June 2: I fall back onto the sofa, happy and exhausted. I hosted my book club tonight for the very first time. (Nervous, nervous.) In a break from club custom, I decided to cluster us around the dining room table. The Korean snacks, Korean noodles, Korean sweets, and Korean packaging were big hits. 

Maybe it was the intimacy. Maybe it was the wine. Maybe it was a tribute to our last gathering until September. Whatever the reason, we lingered a very long time and pledged to see each other this summer. I smile at the memory — and the fact that my house is really, really clean.

Bonus: Thanks to my New Zealand blog-friend Thistles and Kiwis, I watched the Moldovan entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 2022. With wild exuberance (and a tiny story) it flings five minutes of joy and cultural insight into the videosphere. The Ukraine entry won the prize, but this video won my heart.

Lee and I at Great Falls.

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25 thoughts on “Delights: May 27 to June 2

  1. I read this post first this afternoon at work and thought about what to write as there are so many delights this week. I must try and find that book, which sounds just my thing. Memories, lovely walks, book club….sounds like a wonderful week. Thanks too for the mention and fun to read you found the Moldovan song a moment of joy too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kindness! Yes, it was a lovely week. I do encourage you to read (or listen to the audio of) “Crying in H Mart.” I definitely thought of you as I read the food descriptions. And maybe I’ll watch that Moldovan video one more time…

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  2. That rushing water looks absolutely thrilling! Wish I could be part of your book club. Gathering around the table with lots of food is right up my alley. And wine? Yes, please. Also I learned something new today. I’ve never heard of H Mart. Sounds like a fabulous place to go.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you appreciated that photo. And it’s just a random offshoot of Great Falls! With all there is to do in DC, our natural resources are overlooked. Come visit me and I’ll take you there!

      Regarding H Mart, we have a lot of Asian markets around here: they have excellent (and, for me, exotic) produce and fresh fish. We did have fun last night around the dining room table. As you suggest, there’s something so warm about that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved crying in H Mart. I also loved the sensory experience you gave your book club.

    Elaine

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the book too! It was breezy and moving at the same time. Apparently, she’s now working on a screenplay for a film! I wonder what next book I’ll host….

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  4. I haven’t heard of the book and now I’m interested. I know absolutely zero about Korean food. If you mentioned this band before, I may have given it a listen. It sounds familiar. I’m glad you had a lovely book club event under your guidance, and a lovely day by the river. And you saw the surf! But the Moldova Eurovision entry, of all things! 😮 I’m not sure if you saw my Eurovision Song Contest post in which I ranked all the entries… I’m afraid they were among those who annoyed me. It’s alright though. We can’t have ALL our tastes aligned.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing in my delights! I was a week of many pleasures.

      I do remember your post about the Eurovision Song Contest, and I think I watched — and enjoyed — your #1. (I’m going back to find it….) Regarding the Moldovan entry: I guess the silliness charmed me. You’re right about tastes not always aligning. But ours definitely align where it matters: MAVS FOREVER.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t think you can beat Asian food, so if we had H-Mart anywhere near us I suspect I’d spend a lot of time – and money – there! Good to know your first go at hosting the book club was a success. I wonder what you’ll serve up – both literary and culinary – next time?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our family’s favorite Asian food is Thai: we eat it once a week from one of the many local restaurants. One of these days I might try cooking it….

      Thanks for your kind words about my book club. In a few months, we’ll select next year’s books; each member hosts the discussion for the book she recommended. I hope I haven’t raised the bar too high for myself!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We like Thai, and I cook my version of it quite often. I don’t suppose it’s very authentic, but it works for us. There are no Thai restaurants where we live, so it’s My-Thai or No-Thai! We don’t have Korean restaurants either, but there are a few Chinese outlets scattered around the county, reflecting the UK’s historic links with Hong Kong.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow you enjoyed a lot ! Your mum is looking very happy. Thanks for sharing your beautiful days with us! 👌🙏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by! It’s funny: writing this blog has forced me out into the world. And I do keep finding “beautiful days,” as you kindly put it. I hope you find your own beautiful days too!
      p.s. thanks for your kind words about my Mom. She moved near me in the last few years of her life. She found delight everywhere!

      Like

      1. You are welcome 🙂 stay blessed 🤗🥰

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I am a big fan of Korean food (banchan, in particular) & drama (only the happy ones these days – if I remember correctly, it was your recommendation for “Crash Landing on You” ), so I followed your preparations for book club with a great deal of greed.

    Love that you have an H Mart accessible 🙂 What will you have next?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Ju-Lyn! Jeremiah and I have been enriching our tofu and other treats with Gochujang. I love that it comes in a tub! Regarding Korean TV: yes, I had mentioned “Crash Landing on You” — I’ve been watching a few others. Do you have a favorite romance/comedy?

      Yesterday, I saw a photo of a skyscraper in Singapore — the one consisting of three towers with what looks like a slim boat (??) across the top. I thought of you!

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      1. Ah! Marina Bay Sands … it’s become rather iconic. We run in the area often so enjoy various views of it. I am so happy to be thought of & remembered.

        Yes yes! I get my Gochujang in a tub too … so much more convenient than in a sachet (if sauces come in this form, I typically transfer it to a container because it’s just so much easier to use). Have you used it as a pasta sauce yet? We tried it not so long ago … so very yum!

        I’ve been watching Chinese serials lately. But the last KD I enjoyed was Hometown Cha Cha Cha – have you seen it? Loved peeking into village life.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you, Ju-Lyn, for letting me know about Hometown Cha Cha Cha. I’ll look for it. And I always welcome tips for gochujang. We are now spooning it into everything. We are indeed making good progress on the tub! And I’m glad to know more about Marina Bay Sands. I’m getting to know beautiful Singapore through you!

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      1. I am so glad to share more of Singapore as we are enjoying it very much too!

        So glad to hear you are enjoying your gochujang – otherwise the tub would just sit there & mock (like my tub of miso, until Older Child decided to make caramel miso … now we spoon That into everything!)

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Such a lovely post Carol seems like you have a very special relationship with your son. Love the way you hosted your bookclub, we have been doing similar things in our book club. Our last book was Klara and the sun and it was hosted outside with Japanese snacks and Sci fi cider!
    Lots of gorgeous photos in your post too

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Alison. Thank you so much for stopping by! I’ve been thinking about reading Klara and the Sun. I love your bookclub idea for it! Maybe I’ll suggest a book based on the party we could have talking about it!

      I really appreciate your compliment about my photos. I do have fun with my little iPhone. But the scenery does the real work! I hope you visit again. Your friend, Carol Ann

      Like

      1. You’re welcome
        I have to say I didn’t enjoy Klara and the Sun very much! Far too dry and emotionless

        Liked by 1 person

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