Food and family and feelings of loss

Snail on grass with fantasy-style backlighting
Snail on grass with fantasy-style backlighting
Photo by Basil Smith on Unsplash

It must’ve been 1987, because I think I was six years old.

I remember the atmosphere like it was yesterday, although I’m foggy on the details — I was so young.

The essence of that atmosphere was the scent and feel of recent, heavy rain.

I honestly can’t tell you whose house we were in, but I do know we weren’t in Natal (now called KwaZulu-Natal, and where one of my aunts lived). We were somewhere in Johannesburg where the rest of my family hailed from. …


Trying to stay calm, baby due any moment now

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash

Our baby will be born any day now. The official due date was March 12, although we’ve been anticipating labor for the last three weeks.

Germany’s COVID-19 cases spiked around February 27.

I have to go shopping today. I’ve been avoiding it for days, but there’s no denying the fridge needs to be filled. I personally haven’t had the flu in over twenty years, and have only had two colds in the last ten years, both during times when my body had been stretched to the limit. A few months ago, my wife and daughter were sniffling and sneezing and coughing for two weeks. There were snotty tissues all over the house. …


My poor mother

Superman action figure
Superman action figure
Photo by King Lip on Unsplash

I was five or six years old, holding the Christmas tree lights cable in my hands. “Get back from that Christmas tree, Paulo!” my poor mother yelled, terrified.

We had been to this rodeo before.

She laughed nervously. “Yes, yes,” she said to my aunt. “He shocked himself just the other day. But you learned your lesson, didn’t you, Paulo?”

“Yeah, mom,” I said, dripping with all the confidence of youth. “But this here box thingy attached to this cable can’t have any electricity in it, can it? If I just stick my finger in — ”

ZAP!

Merry Christmas.

Sticking fingers into wall sockets was my thing. …


Educating people into racism

American flag in field, sun behind it, dramatic sky
American flag in field, sun behind it, dramatic sky
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

He was a short, muscular dude, and he asked me, “Where you from?”

“I live in Germany,” I said. “But I was born in South Africa.”

Dude must’ve thought he had hit the jackpot. Germany and South Africa! He must’ve thought he had found his soulmate for the Aryan Brotherhood.

Little did he know.

I had made some money with my writing, and my wife and I took a three-month vacation to the states. On a whim, I flew to Nashville because I had heard it was the “music” capital of the world. …


Hidden gems and open secrets

Books in store
Books in store
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

I haven’t been to Lisbon in over a year, and I am melancholic with saudades a mostly untranslatable Portuguese word encompassing sorrow, nostalgia, and the essence of what it means to be Portuguese.

I took a seventeen-day trip there in 2016 and walked my feet off, researching a novel I was planning.

I never wrote that novel, but I did find the most incredible bookstores!

Livraria Bizantina (“Byzantine Bookstore”)

You’ll walk straight past this place if you don’t use a GPS app! There’s no shop window. There’s a blue door with a sign above it in Portuguese, and an ATM on the right.

Their website says they’re a store of “rare books,” and I can definitely vouch for that. …


Memories of a childhood road, and working through change

Gigantic wave crashing over person, black and white, nostalgic feel
Gigantic wave crashing over person, black and white, nostalgic feel
Licensed from Adobe Stock

I will forever associate the uphill, cobblestoned walk of the Rua dos Pescadores thoroughfare in Costa da Caparica, Portugal, with the rich scent of grilling chouriço, the fresh aroma of creamy Caldo Verde soup, and the whiff of the ocean waiting for me just over the hill’s summit.

Leather-skinned street vendors sit on embroidered blankets, staring at you with defiant glares, ready to strike a bargain with anyone willing to haggle. An Asian lady leans against the doorjamb of a tiny trinket store selling all manner of mementos of Lisbon to tourists. She also sells great scarves.

The rich scent of grilling chouriço, the fresh aroma of creamy Caldo Verde soup, and the whiff of the ocean waiting for me just over the hill’s summit. …


Lisbon owes much of its tourism today to her

Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal.
Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal.
Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal. Photo courtesy of Katia de Juan on Unsplash.

It reads like a typical chapter of Portuguese history — by which I mean it reads like a melodramatic soap opera replete with intrigue, betrayal, the good guys being duped, and the bad guys walking off with all the loot.

Welcome to Portuguese History 101.

Her name was Elise Friedericke Hensler, later to be created Countess of Edla solely for the purpose of marrying Dom Ferdinand II, King of Portugal, in 1869.

King Ferdinand’s reign had ended in 1853, due to the death of his wife, Queen Maria II of Portugal, but he had retained his title.

A King could not marry a commoner — and an unmarried mother at that! Their upcoming wedding was a scandal. …


Racing down the highway of creativity with no more obstacles on the road.

Close-up of car side mirror, racing down the road, sun in the foreground, fantasy-style lighting
Close-up of car side mirror, racing down the road, sun in the foreground, fantasy-style lighting
Photo licensed from Adobe Stock

Between 2013 and 2016 I published over a million words of fiction and wrote over thirty books. I received fan mail, garnered hundreds of five-star ratings and dozens of glowing reviews. I earned some money and was having a ball as a writer.

Then it all came crashing down.

The reasons for this were complex and involved. Part of it was that, despite my high wordage and good reviews, I felt like a failure as a writer. After writing so many books I really did expect to be living in a mansion in Malibu. Silly me.

Suddenly writing became hard. I mean, it became excruciatingly hard. …


Reminding myself what it means to be a good father and a good husband

Toddler looking over father’s shoulder, black and white
Toddler looking over father’s shoulder, black and white
Licensed from Adobe Stock

Dear baby girl,

I shouldn’t be writing this. I should be writing you an email instead.

I’ve been telling you in the last ten mails that I’ll write more often, that I’m taking notes and I’ll catch them all up one of these days. But you’re progressing so fast that the notes only pile up.

You do so many new things a day that I don’t get to write them all down. Today you sang “Happy birth to daddy” then “Happy birth to mommy” then “Happy birth to the table.” I was about to note it down when I remembered that I had forgotten to note down your proclivity for using “the” (or “da” as you say it) in all your sentences — “Daddy do da pressing of da button” or “Mommy do da fetching of da water” or “Mommy do da kissing of da teddy.” …


A crash course for the rest of us

Man and woman in kitchen, cooking
Man and woman in kitchen, cooking
Photo by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash

If you’re an expert cook, stop reading right now. You will be appalled at this post. You might feel personally insulted. You will call it sacrilege. You’ll demand the return of the Inquisition.

This post is not for the pros. It doesn’t even give precise measurements. This post is for folks like me who were somehow thrust into needing to cook for themselves (or their families) for whatever reason and yet have absolutely no background training in cooking. It is for people with zero time on their hands; for those who refuse to live on fast food, junk food, or low-quality food. It’s for people who don’t have time to read a book about cooking, consult a recipe every time they need to make something quick and which doesn’t taste like cardboard. …

About

R. Paulo Delgado

Professional Ghostwriter https://writerpaulo.com/

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