219. Operation Hospitality

Operation Hospitality | Ann Ning Learning How

Originally published July 24, 2013.  I’m working on a few (okay, several) things in my life.  One of them is ORFR (Operation Run, Forrest, Run”).  M (37) is helping me with that, and so are the nice people at my new PT place (“The Gym”).  I am, however, in the walking zone since they haven’t seen me ever before and I do appear to be  a walking liability.  Key word:  walking.  Well, I told one of them, it’s probably better that they’re monitoring me on the Alter G since if left to my own devices I’d be doing all sorts of prohibited/unsafe things just to see if I could.  It would be like how when I was heartbroken over being discharged from The Place I consoled myself by graduating myself to using the cane.  I heard through the grapevine that A (6) was contemplating moving me up from the walker to the quad cane, but he never did.  When I left I was like, Since A’s not watching me, I’mma do whatever I want!  Enter Leo.  (Side note:  I have gotten much mouthier since I worked with A.  He was largely shielded from my verboseness since my voice was weaker then.  Given my hearing loss we probably heard about 80% of what the other person said.  As Ruthie pointed out, “It’s okay – you’re even!”)  I skipped the quad because I kept kicking it and getting tangled up in it.  It took me over a year (and some gait insights from M) to realize that I had kept on kicking my quad (“Cousin It”) and my rollator (“Willow”) bc my gait stance is so amazingly wide if I don’t concentrate on keeping my feet hip-width apart.  So it’s good that I’m working on a brisk walking pace first in the Alter G, especially since my gait has gone downhill since I’m away from CMD’s acupuncture magic.  Just kidding, it’s not magic – docs have told me the research on acupuncture is really good – it just seems like magic.

Alter G | Ann Ning Learning How

The other thing I’m working on is kitchen mobility.  I’m so keen on this idea because it is critical to independence.  It does cost me something physically – I need to plan to sit down every 5 minutes or so, and even then it’s often still very painful.  When I am so absorbed in what I’m doing I don’t sit down when I ought to it’s even worse.  But hey, a girl’s gotta eat, and I like to experiment and tell you about it.

American Folk Hero...it's Gabby!

American Folk Hero…it’s Gabby!

Learning how to cook again is actually part of Operation Hospitality.  In the circle I grew up in, hospitality is very common.  We are always going over to other people’s houses and there is always laughing and almost always food.  LOTS of food.  I practiced a very simple brand of hospitality in OR when I was on my own. Brunch was always easy to do – standard fare included scones (whole wheat chocolate strawberry, based on Mommy’s recipe – but hers are so much better), strawberries or other fresh fruit, whipped cream, and K’s Impossibly Easy Quiche (a crustless Bisquick pie).  I had a lovely brunch once with M, a friend who visited me faithfully in the hospital.  These are her hands on my shoulders in the picture with my Gabby! post.

These days we have opened up Chez Tan for hospitable business sometimes.  It requires lots of planning on Mommy’s part, but it’s doable bc A) she’s a NINJA, and B) I’m all sorts of medically stable and can ambulate appropriately (most of the time).  However, being hospitable at home with Mom and Dad is not my end goal.  One day I’d like to be hospitable like I used to be in Oregon.   I have broken down this endeavor into some actionable goals.  I need to go to bed soon or else I’d make you a ppt slide.

Operation Hospitality

Phase 1:  Develop Skills

1.  Learn to cook (again).  Not that I was really good at it the first time around.

2.  Have VCI – concurrent with step 1; see improvement in swallowing health so I can eat more.

Phase 2: Secure Indpependence

3.  Recover enough to live independently.

4.  Convince Mom and Dad that I am well enough to live independently.

5.  Procure housing.

Phase 3:  Exhibit Practical Friendship

6.  Invite people over; recruit one or 2 of them to carry dishes to/from the table.  Or I could get a trolley like Grandma E used to have.

I am still in phase 1:  Learn to cook again.  But I made great progress last week since I was able to make a meal for the P family, who is visiting for a week!  This was a good step since there is no time-pressure – I just had to make things so they were fresh for the delivery date.  Presentation was a breeze since there was none – Ai Ai packed things in Tupperware etc. and Timmy carried them.  On the menu:

I was waffling on the protein source and then decided to do LSLasagna with beef – excellent notion!  And I made an extra for Ai Ai & family and even my children enjoyed it thoroughly.  They initially looked askance at the cauliflower I put in, but they ended up liking it a lot – I just riced it and mixed it with sour cream and a little fresh salsa.

Life Skills "Mexican" Lasagna | Ann Ning Learning How

I was tickled pink to be able to prepare food for two families.  So I’m on my way!  This might take a while, though – I get that.  Perhaps your hospitality plan will be more, ummm…attainable in the near future.  But I’ll do this even though it’s tough because I’m looking forward to the satisfaction of gathering with friends and sharing a meal. In the meantime I get to enjoy the hospitable efforts of Mommy and my sister as they invite people over and feed them.   For me personally, though, it’s often easier to have people over than for me to go out to a restaurant, and I like to see my friends as much as possible so I’m trying to take steps in the direction of hospitableness on my own.  This is like writing – the emotional payoff is SO worth it.

380. Practicing Hospitality

14469795746_5930729ca9_z

I was on the elliptical bike at Ai Ai and Tim’s (bc I am a good girl) and I caught a glimpse of the pool through the wooden slats of the blinds in front of me. A lump rose to my throat at the sight of the brightly colored inner tubes and extra fun noodles they had thrown into the water for the benefit of the bunch of guests (including kids) scheduled to arrive in the afternoon for a Memorial Day cookout and pool party. I wondered why the fun noodles made me want to cry – I felt silly. But then I realized that it was what the pool toys represented – warm hospitality floating in cooling water – that made me proud to be a part of this family even though I felt a pang of regret that I can’t practice it individually at present.

Timmy purchased some new flowers etc. that morning and planted them around the pool to freshen the ambiance. Boo Boo was busy cooking things and put watermelon and guacamole (we all learned to make guac from Mommy and we all love it) under some pretty nets on the patio so hungry swimmers could have a snack. When the guests arrived there were seven extra children to splash in the pool and be fed. It was great fun.

The food Tim grilled and Ai Ai served was grouped in aesthetically pleasing tableaux. And as I soaked it all in I realized that yes, of course some folks are simply born with the ability to create an inviting atmosphere, but the idea of hospitality itself is often a learned behavior. My sister and I learned it from Mommy, and I’m sure Ruthie must have learned it from her mom. A few months ago we showed up at E&R’s on a night when they had guests over for dinner. I looked with wide-eyed wonder at the beautiful white platters piled high with good things to eat. It was a relatively simple meal, served in a non-fussy, non-intimidating way, but everything looked pretty and everything was piping hot. I have no idea how Ruthie got everything to be hot at the same time. I never mastered that skill.

When I started eating fish again I only ate it if my brother cooked it. He buys amazingly fresh fillets from his local fishmonger and grills them to perfection. The night they had guests over he grilled scallops with bacon. Welcome to Ernie’s world. It’s a fun place. So yeah – all my siblings understand this concept. I was a very happy guest at both of my in-laws’ homes when we were growing up so I know that their POVs on hospitality was shaped by what they saw their parents doing. I would also like to state for the record that during one of those visits I beat both Timmy and his younger brother at Knockout Kings on the Playstation multiple times.

Baker Smurf demonstrates "abundance"

Baker Smurf demonstrates “abundance”

To be clear, if you lack the innate ability to put things together in a pretty way please do not let this discourage you from opening your home. When visual elegance is beyond reach I always go for the groaning sideboard effect. There is something to be said for abundance. But if you can only offer something you’re afraid might look meagre what’s really important (regardless of food and ambience) is that you serve whatever you have on hand with a smile and a welcoming spirit that lets your guests know that you invited them bc you truly want to see them, you’ve made an effort to make them feel special, and are interested in what’s going on in their lives.  My siblings and I were blessed to grow up with that behavior modeled for us but it’s completely possible to become hospitable even if the concept is new to you – just make your guests comfy by doing what would make you comfortable.     Hospitality is something you practice at – and it’s a skill one can develop. I’m trying really hard to regain my skills and hopefully develop them more with time. We’ll see how that pans out. But it is definitely a skill worth cultivating bc it’s one of the hallmarks of how we care for one another.

219. Operation Hospitality

Operation Hospitality | Ann Ning Learning How

I’m working on a few (okay, several) things in my life.  One of them is ORFR (Operation Run, Forrest, Run”).  M (37) is helping me with that, and so are the nice people at my new PT place (“The Gym”).  I am, however, in the walking zone since they haven’t seen me ever before and I do appear to be  a walking liability.  Key word:  walking.  Well, I told one of them, it’s probably better that they’re monitoring me on the Alter G since if left to my own devices I’d be doing all sorts of prohibited/unsafe things just to see if I could.  It would be like how when I was heartbroken over being discharged from The Place I consoled myself by graduating myself to using the cane.  I heard through the grapevine that A (6) was contemplating moving me up from the walker to the quad cane, but he never did.  When I left I was like, Since A’s not watching me, I’mma do whatever I want!  Enter Leo.  (Side note:  I have gotten much mouthier since I worked with A.  He was largely shielded from my verboseness since my voice was weaker then.  Given my hearing loss we probably heard about 80% of what the other person said.  As Ruthie pointed out, “It’s okay – you’re even!”)  I skipped the quad because I kept kicking it and getting tangled up in it.  It took me over a year (and some gait insights from M) to realize that I had kept on kicking my quad (“Cousin It”) and my rollator (“Willow”) bc my gait stance is so amazingly wide if I don’t concentrate on keeping my feet hip-width apart.  So it’s good that I’m working on a brisk walking pace first in the Alter G, especially since my gait has gone downhill since I’m away from CMD’s acupuncture magic.  Just kidding, it’s not magic – docs have told me the research on acupuncture is really good – it just seems like magic.

Alter G | Ann Ning Learning How

The other thing I’m working on is kitchen mobility.  I’m so keen on this idea because it is critical to independence.  It does cost me something physically – I need to plan to sit down every 5 minutes or so, and even then it’s often still very painful.  When I am so absorbed in what I’m doing I don’t sit down when I ought to it’s even worse.  But hey, a girl’s gotta eat, and I like to experiment and tell you about it.

American Folk Hero...it's Gabby!

American Folk Hero…it’s Gabby!

Learning how to cook again is actually part of Operation Hospitality.  In the circle I grew up in, hospitality is very common.  We are always going over to other people’s houses and there is always laughing and almost always food.  LOTS of food.  I practiced a very simple brand of hospitality in OR when I was on my own. Brunch was always easy to do – standard fare included scones (whole wheat chocolate strawberry, based on Mommy’s recipe – but hers are so much better), strawberries or other fresh fruit, whipped cream, and K’s Impossibly Easy Quiche (a crustless Bisquick pie).  I had a lovely brunch once with M, a friend who visited me faithfully in the hospital.  These are her hands on my shoulders in the picture with my Gabby! post.

These days we have opened up Chez Tan for hospitable business sometimes.  It requires lots of planning on Mommy’s part, but it’s doable bc A) she’s a NINJA, and B) I’m all sorts of medically stable and can ambulate appropriately (most of the time).  However, being hospitable at home with Mom and Dad is not my end goal.  One day I’d like to be hospitable like I used to be in Oregon.   I have broken down this endeavor into some actionable goals.  I need to go to bed soon or else I’d make you a ppt slide.

Operation Hospitality

Phase 1:  Develop Skills

1.  Learn to cook (again).  Not that I was really good at it the first time around.

2.  Have VCI – concurrent with step 1; see improvement in swallowing health so I can eat more.

Phase 2: Secure Indpependence

3.  Recover enough to live independently.

4.  Convince Mom and Dad that I am well enough to live independently.

5.  Procure housing.

Phase 3:  Exhibit Practical Friendship

6.  Invite people over; recruit one or 2 of them to carry dishes to/from the table.  Or I could get a trolley like Grandma E used to have.

I am still in phase 1:  Learn to cook again.  But I made great progress last week since I was able to make a meal for the P family, who is visiting for a week!  This was a good step since there is no time-pressure – I just had to make things so they were fresh for the delivery date.  Presentation was a breeze since there was none – Ai Ai packed things in Tupperware etc. and Timmy carried them.  On the menu:

I was waffling on the protein source and then decided to do LSLasagna with beef – excellent notion!  And I made an extra for Ai Ai & family and even my children enjoyed it thoroughly.  They initially looked askance at the cauliflower I put in, but they ended up liking it a lot – I just riced it and mixed it with sour cream and a little fresh salsa.

Life Skills "Mexican" Lasagna | Ann Ning Learning How

I was tickled pink to be able to prepare food for two families.  So I’m on my way!  This might take a while, though – I get that.  Perhaps your hospitality plan will be more, ummm…attainable in the near future.  But I’ll do this even though it’s tough because I’m looking forward to the satisfaction of gathering with friends and sharing a meal. In the meantime I get to enjoy the hospitable efforts of Mommy and my sister as they invite people over and feed them.   For me personally, though, it’s often easier to have people over than for me to go out to a restaurant, and I like to see my friends as much as possible so I’m trying to take steps in the direction of hospitableness on my own.  This is like writing – the emotional payoff is SO worth it.