November 17th was my father's birthday. My father passed away about 10 years ago and I don't really write much about him on my blog. My dad was a bit eccentric and somewhat anti-social. He was always right, the rest of the world was foolish, and he had no qualms about making demands of waitresses, clerks, and anyone (most people) he thought was under him. He considered himself extremely intelligent (and probably was) but he rubbed people the wrong way and he didn't care. I think my mother who had the opposite personality, had a difficult time making excuses for my father's behavior.
There were contradictions in my father's life too. Probably because he couldn't stand to be with "bumbling" strangers, he was a family man. He insisted that we children should see the world and so our family spent many summers traveling through Europe and Asia, Mexico and Alaska, Scandinavia and one year Spain. My father figured that when we were older we would have a chance to see America but that he was the only one who was going to be able to show us the world. As it turned out, I came to Japan and have never seen much of America...
One of my father's "hobbies" was magic and he was a member of the exclusive magicians' club, The Magic Castle, in Los Angeles. My memories of my father are of him with a pack of cards or coins practicing his slight-of-hand. We kids were always getting trapped into watching him perform which we didn't appreciate too much and if nothing else I learned to see through the puzzles and tricks that he presented to us.
My father stayed pretty much away from child raising, and some of his words of wisdom to me were rather questionable but one has stayed in my head.
"Smile! It is much more attractive than all the goop girls put on their faces."
So I smiled a lot but I tiptoed around my father all through my childhood. He took no interest in my schoolwork except to frown at my mediocre math grades. He claimed the rest of education was a waste of time and the only thing important was math. I have always been completely dyslexic about numbers and that was a great disappointment to him.
In fact, the only thing that I can remember doing right with my father is baking him apple pies. I hated baking apple pies and why the job was given to me I don't know. Every so often he'd announce that he wanted an apple pie and it was my job to produce one. What a lot of fuss and messing around with flour and shortening and rolling pins and pie tins. Some days my father wanted it served with vanilla ice cream but most often he wanted a serving of Cheddar cheese alongside. My pies usually passed inspection but I could never see what was so great about them.
This week I went to the neighboring apple orchard and bought a couple bushels of apples for baking and eating and giving away.
And yesterday in a belated celebration of my father's birthday I baked an apple pie. Unfortunately for him, frozen pie sheets are so convenient that I resorted to those and had a pie baked in no time at all. Tetsu loved it but I'm afraid I could only think that my father wouldn't have approved of the frozen pie crust.
I've still got loads of apples so I may do this again with a little more effort. At any rate I spent the day baking and thinking of my father and his quirks and eccentricities.
Made me smile!