Jake’s Sunday Post: SENTIMENTAL VALUE (Kitchen Renovation -1)

Jake’s Theme this week “Sentimental Value” is exactly what I have wanted to write about.

We have lived in our house we considered home for over twenty years. The children have grown up and left. It is after months of talking, planning and looking around that my husband and I are finally launching a kitchen renovation, first ever since we have moved into this house. We are approaching this project with excitement and apprehension, and fortunately with a lot of support and advice from our friends who have been through similar endeavours. They all reassure us that it is well worth the money and the mess, though warning us of some frustration on the way.

Three days before the tradesmen came to tear down my kitchen, I had to clear out all the things on the counter top and inside the pantry. There were so many things that I had procrastinated in discarding or giving away and I had to deal with them now. Many of these items were no longer in use, but they stayed because I had space for them–just a little more clatter inside the cabinets and pantry. They were still here not because of my laziness, but more because of my clinging-on mentality, which is not uncommon either among fellow human beings I presume.

At the end of the day, and thanks to an unscrupulous guideline I set for myself, namely, “If in doubt, chuck it out”, I had one pile to store aside, one pile to go the the trash can and one pile to be given away to the thrift store. For now, I want to tell you more about what I have found inside my kitchen cabinets.

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When I pulled this copper pot out from the corner of a cabinet, I was totally amazed that I had forgotten about it all these years. This pot did not belong to me. It belonged to my mother-in-law, who sent it along together with her trunks containing some of her belongings when she came to Canada to join us 15 years ago. (My mother-in-law never intended to live in Canada. She returned to Hong Kong soon after obtaining her citizenship and visited us every year until she passed away in Hong Kong two years ago.) She left her trunks and this pot with us.

Essentially, this is a pot for braising soup in a water bath. Water and ingredients were put in the porcelain container, which then is put back to the copper container, filled with water and heated on a stove.  The plate conveniently served as the lid and was used to place the ingredients when the soup was made. I just love the little funnel for releasing the steam from the pot.

I felt very touched when I found this pot, because it had meant so much to my mother-in-law. She told me that this pot (and her trunks) had travelled with her and my husband’s family from Guangzhou, China to Hong Kong in 1949, just before the Communist government took over. My father-in-law made the decision to leave everything behind– and I truly admire him for his courage and foresight– and took a train with his family to Hong Kong to start a new life there. They wrote the first page of migration history in the family. They gave up a lot and made sacrifices to raise the family, ensuring that my husband and his siblings received good education. As I looked at the pot, I felt a lump in my throat. My husband and I had followed in the family footstep by migrating to another land mid-career. We did not look back, and frequently reminded ourselves not to count what we had lost, but to look at what we had gained. Like my in-laws, we have given our family not only freedom, but choices.

I don’t think I want to use the pot as a cooking vessel. It will sit on my mantelpiece perhaps as a symbol of the family history. My mother-in-law brought it to Canada and left it to us.  Her mission was complete in ensuring that her children and their children were given choices.

The other items I found seem to pale in comparison to this copper pot. Nevertheless, they also marked significant milestones of our family, and of the children growing up in the house. The basket did not contain a cobra inside. It was a padded basket for a Chinese teapot that I bought and shipped it to Canada when we immigrated. However, It was virtually unused, because we did not have a household that drank tea all day. Notwithstanding, it is  an endearng symbol of our journey to Canada, imbibed with sentimental value.

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I found some plastic cups and my three children had used them when they were little. I showed them the cups and they were willing to part with them, as long as I took a photograph for memory sake. As well, I found Disney souvenirs and Mario thermos which re-kindled fond memories of family vacations.

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I am surprised I have written such a long post. This is my first post on my kitchen renovation: Getting Ready. The contractor has told me that the work will take about eight weeks. I do not know if I am able to keep up with regularly blogging about it, and how long it will keep me blogging, since both blogging and renovating a kitchen are new activities in my life. I shall just wait and see.

I also want to thank Jake for posting such a timely theme for me to submit this post.

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9 thoughts on “Jake’s Sunday Post: SENTIMENTAL VALUE (Kitchen Renovation -1)

  1. restlessjo

    What a treasure that copper pot is, Opalla, and quite ingenious too. I’ve not come across one before. And I adore your Chinese teapot, even though I don’t like tea. That kind of Chinese design so appeals to me.
    Good luck with your renovations. I’m sure it’ll be wonderful when it’s complete.

    Reply
  2. greenmackenzie

    I love the copper pot and its story. It is so beautifully made for its function, how clever to have a plate for a lid. And that tea pot in a basket is gorgeous. I drink lots of loose leaf tea so it would get lots of use in my home 🙂

    Reply
    1. Opalla Post author

      Glad you are interested in those objects. I grew up always having a teapot in a padded basket, and then I discovered the tea cosy when I went to England.

      Reply
  3. Amy

    Thank you so much for sharing the beautiful story of the precious cooper pot and the family story, Opalla! The basket and the teapot are gorgeous. We have done kitchen renovation twice for the two house we lived, I thought the cleaning-up was the most tedious task.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Kitchen Renovation (2): Dislocation and Relocation | OpallaOnTrails

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