Good surprises, big and small

A welcome spice to any day is a nice surprise. Often, our days run in routine fashion that we can almost predict what occupies the next minute, the next hour. Routine is comfortable; the familiar is easy and less stressful. Now and then though, we’d like an unexpected surprise or two – the good ones, that is. I’ve had those, and I’ll tell you about some recent ones. Perhaps not spectacular, but wonderful for me — moments that bring out a laugh, a chuckle or a broad smile. Trivia, maybe, but not for me. And I hope you take interest or derive amusement in these little stories that I share.

Japanese tea set
Two friends and I recently enjoyed a simple tea ceremony at home. We just couldn’t decide whether we’d do it the English, Chinese, Japanese or Filipino way.

Tea pot set from Kyushu, Japan

My Chinese friend started the activity by opening a special tea she brought from China. She offered to make tea for us, and of course, we gladly accepted. Perfect for after dinner. Then, I brought out four unopened tea cans given to me as gifts and suggested that we taste each one – like wine tasting, only this was tea tasting. The funny thing was, we drank tea from big coffee mugs. Suddenly, I remembered I kept lovely, real tea cups, and pulled three from my collection shelf behind all the bells. But where was the tea pot? My Japanese friend hopped on the chair to search for it from the shelves where the cups sat for years. Lo and behold, she spotted the tea pot on the top shelf, with the souvenir coffee mugs! Why it wasn’t with the tea cups, I have no idea. But the cups and the pot were reunited, and after washing them, we had an authentic tea ceremony. By the way, the set came from Kyushu, Japan. I told the two ladies, I recalled vaguely that it was a birthday gift to me.

That night, I racked my brain trying to remember how the tea set came to our home. It wasn’t really a birthday gift to me. It was actually my late husband’s gift from the professor he worked for, during a Christmas gift exchange. The professor brought the set from one of his business trips to Japan, and chose it for the gift exchange supposedly played in anonymous fashion. My husband was the recipient. Before the party broke up, the professor revealed that he was my husband’s secret Santa, and that the tea set was from Kyushu. When my husband came home, he handed me the gift. That was the week before Christmas – and come to think of it, that was on my birthday. So indirectly, it was a gift to me. What a lovely birthday surprise! So what I told the ladies was right – the set was a birthday gift to me.

Lavender orchids
Last year, a work colleague gave me an exotic and most beautiful orchid plant with lush lavender flowers. Two long stems that held a bunch of flowers were each propped against a thin, straight green stick. The flowers flourished for five months. After that, they dried up, and to this day, the dried flowers stay connected to the dry stems still propped by the green sticks. The leaves, however, have been healthy. I placed the pot by a tall window underneath a glass roof in my library/computer room. Routinely, I watered the pot every other week, but never looked closely at the orchid plant. A few weeks ago, I was surprised to see a mass of lavender flowers grown from one long stem, peeking from behind the pot. The petals show streaks of deep purple, carrying a uniquely artistic pattern. I don’t know when the flowers started to appear, nor when the buds blossomed. They just all of a sudden came out unexpectedly, it seemed, like a bunch of mischievous kids come out fresh from hiding to spring a staggering surprise. Absolutely gorgeous! I admit, I honestly don’t know the name of the orchid plant.

I’ve never claimed to have a green thumb. So, plants that thrive inside my home actually amaze me. My poinsettia plant bought in December last year remains a stunning décor on my dining table to this time. The red profusely dominates the top of the two-feet plant. Beneath the reds grow a spread of healthy green leaves. On top of the reds are a few small greens that seem to be slowly turning red, just like the tier below them. I wonder why only one of the red leaves has fallen. The plant continues to look vibrant – not because I have (or don’t have) a green thumb!

The poinsettia exudes that special holiday aura. I keep reminding myself that Christmas is still far off — though the way that time goes, it may soon be just around the corner, and 2019 just started!

Ninjas by Elliot and Eliott
My nine-year-old grandson and his friend have devised a series of comic books in the science fiction category, clever products of their artistic creativity, vivid imagination — and who knows, foresight? My grandson’s Dad helped to set up the website. It’s attractive, simple and easy to follow. Best of all, it works! The background blurbs on the two comics creators are interesting and intriguing. I think they were inspired by the Marvel characters, but they definitely injected their own style, energy and twists in the stories. There is no lack of humor and wit and the surprise element is ever present. To have fifty-three in their series is their goal, and they’ve completed over half. For a couple of bright young boys in their 4th grade, this is outstanding! I invite you to search the internet for “Ninjas by Elliot and Eliott”, readings that can make you feel young again – or see how a super hero is born out of a comic strip.

Plop on the restaurant floor
My daughter and I waited 45-minutes in a long line for breakfast at a very popular Berkeley restaurant reviewed on Yelp by 3000+ customers. My daughter convinced me to check it out. It was a nippy morning, and squeezed on a wooden bench beside other customers wasn’t bad at all. Besides, I enjoy people watching. The crowd was definitely younger and “hip”, mostly looking like college students or young professionals. I was relieved to see another baby boomer in the company of young adults, likely her family. Regardless, I enjoyed the lively crowd. Importantly, it was bonding time with my daughter who visited from Atlanta. The plan was to meet up with my son, his wife and my grandson in church later that morning.

When the waiter called our number, I was happy. So was my daughter. We were famished. The inside was packed. Tables were small, and chairs were practically lined up very close to each other. I chose the solo table in the corner on a small platform. As I bent to sit down, the chair slid from under me and guess what! I plopped on the floor. At first, I thought I hurt myself, but started laughing because what just happened was ludicrous. How could I not control myself from falling? The fall seemed to happen in slow motion stretched in prolonged seconds, and the thump of my behind on the floor sounded like the movie director’s shout for cut on a scene. The difference was, the scene continued for close-ups of shocked faces around me, my daughter’s included. I was stunned, but I remained on the floor like a giggling child, refusing to stand up, giving the excuse that my bones and muscles need to relax before I force them to an upright position. The restaurant manager and waiters rushed to my rescue, solicitous over how I felt. I said I just wanted to rest on the floor – another laughable retort, but I was the only one laughing. People who trip or fall say it’s the embarrassment that’s more painful than any physical pain. Strange, I was not embarrassed. I just found my position on the floor, almost under the table, quite comical, and I laughed at myself.

But it wasn’t funny to the manager and servers. They were genuinely concerned. They immediately provided ice packs for any of part of my body that felt pain. Finally, I slowly stood up and sat on the renegade chair held firm by my daughter. Food was quickly served. Two waiters hovered by our table, in case I needed anything. Thank God, I was fine. I just wanted to eat, and I ate a whole lot. Remember, I was starving. My daughter was relieved. I ate well, and that meant I was okay. The food met expectations and held true for the reviews. My best review of the restaurant was the service – and the caring, compassionate and friendly attitude of management and staff. I wondered, if I go back and don’t plop on the floor, will the service and friendliness be the same? Maybe, I will go back, but will be careful not to slip or fall. I wouldn’t want that kind of surprise again. The good surprise of that surprise, however, was that I came out fine. — and full!

Linda P. Jacob

One thought on “Good surprises, big and small

  1. “Hi Linda
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