Bill and I spent the weekend in the Bay Area milling around trying to spend time with as many people as possible. It’s always a challenge, especially when I get snide remarks from Dad, “…am I going to see you more than a few minutes this weekend?”
Saurday morning Bill and I went with his parents to Mountain View Cemetery in Piedmont to visit Bill’s grandmother. A few times a year Chinese families visit the graves of their loved ones to clean the area, burn incense, and to say a few prayers. Traditionally, the family brings food like roasted duck and/or pork along with citrus fruits like oranges and pomelo. Incense is lit and the food is offered to the loved one who has passed away. When then incense is finished burning, the family eats the food. In many instances the family burns paper offerings too; items they want their loved ones to have in the afterlife. There are stores in Chinatown that sell these paper offerings, whether they are paper money, jewelry, gold watches, big screen TVs, expensive cars, or designer bags & clothing. Bill said they did this when his grandmother passed away. He got her a Boeing 747 with a couple of pilots. When we arrived at the cemetery there were lots of families already there and we were greeted with the smells of burning incense, roasted pork and freshly mowed grass. The weather was pleasant with clear skies providing us with a gorgeous view of Oakland, San Francisco, and the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges. It’s a really beautiful location, not too shabby for a final resting place. Bill’s family doesn’t really observe many of the traditions, they just
bring flowers, burn some incense and enjoy the view with Grandma.
Here’s an LA Times article
that explains the tradition pretty well. It’s kind of funny how the
article explains that the tradition is banned in many areas because of
random fires that break out. When I went to the car to retreive Bill’s
jacket, I noticed a garbage can on fire. Thankfully, there was a hose
nearby. I didn’t put it out in enough time to prevent the rubber can
from melting. The cemetery does provide large metal cans that look similar to a charcoal chimney starter for the paper offerings. I’m thinking someone threw away some incense that wasn’t finished burning. Shame…
On our way back from Piedmont, we picked up James and had dim sum at a place in Union City. After lunch Bill went to work finishing tax returns for his parents. I hung around my parents’ house for a while. Then Michael, Sara and I went to look at a place in Livermore as a potential wedding location. Don’t get all excited yet! There’s no date set. While Michael and Sara aren’t engaged, they’ve already begun talking about getting married. Sara’s mom just began a side business in planning weddings and Sara works part-time at a Bridal salon. Wedding plans are something that she just can’t not think about. So the three of us visited the Purple Orchid Inn in Livermore, “just to see.” The location is way out on Tesla road among the vineyards. This location happens to have it’s own olive orchard and uses the orchard as a backdrop for their wedding ceremonies. It’s a really beautiful location that will be great for some fantastic photography. Obviously no decisions are being made, but this locations will be considered. On the way back from Livermore, the three of us had dinner at P.F. Chang’s and then headed home.
Sunday morning was an unplanned day as we wanted to spend some time with Jan and Mark, but we didn’t want to impose on Jan’s recovery. She had hip replacement surgery on Wednesday and was finally getting an appetite back by Sunday. It’s amazing how quickly the recovery process is; they had her up and walking around the same day as the surgery. So, we picked up some salmon and baby-back ribs and set them to brine while we ran some errands. After a trip to the bicycle shop and a short visit with Jackie at Sunglass Hut, we had an early dinner with Jan, Mark, James and Patrick. We smoked the ribs and salmon and Patrick prepared a tasty salad with spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, slivered almonds, macadamia nuts and a basalmic vinegarette. The salmon is one of my all-time favorite ways to eat salmon. Mark uses a dry brine on the salmon before smoking that includes brown sugar, rock salt, allspice and other ingredients I can’t remember. After a couple of hours, the salmon is cleaned and left to rest for thirty minutes. Then it goes into the smoker for a couple of hours at a low temperature. It’s periodically doused with a tasty glaze that consists of maple syrup and a group of ingredients I can’t remember. Real helpful, I know. Bill prepared the ribs in the smoker as well using a bottle of Chaka’s Mmm Sauce for a glaze. The sauce goes well with pretty much anything. The ribs were delicious, but we all agreed they could have used a couple more hours in the smoker. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a couple more hours, as Bill and I needed to fly home. We caught the last flight to LGB.
The salmon as it finished it’s dry brine.
Is it done?
Salmon all done.
The meal paired very well with a bottle of Mark’s Rosé.
Meal completed with a loaf of crusty, rustic bread.
We’ll spend the next few weekends at home doing some work on the
house and yard. On the weekend of April 26th, we’ll fly out to Richmond
(for the last time..!) to help James and Kristen move. I’ll fly back to
LGB with Kristen and Logan. Then the boys will drive the moving truck
across the country with all their stuff. Kristen and Logan will stay at
our house until the boys get to the Bay Area, as there’s no reason for
her to stay in their apartment when there’s no furniture. Because of
this, Bill and I have some work to do to make our home a bit more kid
friendly. Most of the work is needed in the backyard where we only have
half a tree cut down. But, we’d like our backyard to be safe enough for
Logan to be able to run around. If we can, I’d like to paint the front
of our house too. I’m kind of sick of the girly peach color.