Friday, November 15, 2013

Blood Distilled

My grandparents sleep in sensory memory, their blood distilled in me:

A cloud of milk in a mug of coffee. The smell of rose-colored lipstick on her kiss and drugstore perfume on her clothes. Dried lavender in a hot car. The rare slip of a curse-word followed by a laugh and a shrug. Childhood Christmases and Easters orchestrated with hand-stitched, chocolate-molded detail. Thrifty mint-chocolate-chip ice cream in my bowl and Bing Crosby on the record player. A single ice cube in a glass of white wine and a coveted birthday cake. The only woman ever allowed to call me Kaity.

A tissue in a breast pocket. The smell of old maps and books in a dark room, like a forest floor after rain. Green grapes on the vine, the surprise of bitter-fleshed blood oranges warmed by the sun. Dancing that can't be helped if music is heard. A historian of the wars he fought, a lexicon of languages gathered, a loyalist to the dogs he loved. A square jawline, set but soft above a Cuba Libre.

Hot lemon water on cool mornings with the windows open. A crossword spidery with ink. The smell of hot brown sugar and butter smothering a winter kitchen on their way to carmelhood. Rasp on an early-morning phone call and Jack Daniels on the plane. Bumblebees and powder-clean white hair. Poetry: sometimes quiet, often wry, always clever and completely hers.

Photographs and faraway looks. A brief story of being held. Memories I will never share and bullfights in Mexico I never witnessed. The passive humor in the joke of a gentleman dropping his watch with a crash loud enough to startle birds from the wire. The ghost in my father's smile and the secret in my grandmother's wedding ring, fixed forever on her finger by swollen knuckles and a promise kept.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Malaysia, Part Four: The Kitten

In Melaka, there are bands of feral cats roaming the ruins of St. Paul's Church, all clearly of shared ancestry with their similar markings. One kitten in particular stole and broke our hearts within the span of 10 minutes. I still wish there had been an easy way to take this little guy home with us and make Eliot a big brother.

Remember him?

Sneaking up on mama cat.


"Moooooom. Mom. Mommm."


This face means my uterus is crying due to cuteness.

It's about to get real for Adam. This kitten LURVED him.

Le sigh. I still think about this little thing every so often and hope his tummy is full of food and his ears are getting flattened with rubs.

Malaysia, Part Three: Melaka

Melaka (or Malacca, if you're into colonialism) is a tiny, ancient port town in Malaysia at times governed/claimed by the Malay Sultanate, the Dutch, the British, and whoever-else-wanted-to-fight-over-it, always populated by a diversity of native Malay, Dutch, British, Chinese, Indian, Portuguese, and a spice-blend reflective of the various nationalities entering the Strait of Melaka for trade. At a crucial moment of international shipping commerce decision-making in history, Singapore was chosen over Melaka as the port in which to invest more future industry, and thus it became what it is now: a ruin-dotted, tourist-friendly, European-rooted relic of the power it once boasted. It's history may have made for a turbulent past, but it certainly made for a tasty culinary future. The Old Town was our home for a few days, and we welcomed the smaller scale and slower pace.

Our hostel view on the Melaka River.

Our hostel is the one with the blossoming tree branches on top, and the umbrella-covered table and chairs were our nightly perch at the back entrance of our beer supplier.

Just an iguana beating the heat.

You'll see more of this kitten later.

I have a peculiar love of old graveyards.

The River at night. Still humid as hell.

Totally reminds me of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Indian food on a banana leaf. Damn, that naan was tasty.

Satisfied after drinking some of the most delicious coffee I've ever tasted
(and post-scarring by durian fruit attempt, as well).

Nasi Lemak, the national dish of Malaysia (except this was a vegetarian version I stumbled upon with spiced TEMPEH!). That rice is cooked in coconut milk and is creamier than my winter thighs.
Next up, the final installment starring the calico kitten glimpsed in this post.