Pickling ume looks time consuming. I once watched my mom’s biǎo jiě (cousin)(specifically, older female cousin on the maternal side) and her husband massage and brine the sour green apricots for a long time. We’d plucked them earlier that day at a family farm deep in the woods.
The Japanese turn ume into soft poetic balls (Pantone 702 U-ish) that pair well with rice. The Taiwanese turn ume into dark, sweet, tart, prune-y things.
Two orange tabby brothers followed us home in December. They lived with us for five weeks, snuggling, wrestling, running around like madmen and punching each other in the face, until their owners saw our “found” signs (which had been posted in front of their house for weeks).
Chupa misses them a ton. They shredded furniture, ate Kolinsky brushes and laptop screens, farted intense farts on our laps, pawed wet paintings and shoved my brush around whenever I painted, but they were cute and soft fuzzballs.
Several years ago, Mom and I visited Japan during cherry blossom season. While there, Mom found out that her mom had cancer and was awaiting surgery in the hospital.
That night, Mom lay on the bed in our room at the ryokan. “Emmie, my mom is sick . . . what if I lose her?” she asked.
I tried to think of something kind and comforting to say.“Well, she is 86,” I said.