For the past six years, I have written the majority of posts on this blog on my small, nondescript, rather ugly fiberfill and laminate desk that was probably purchased for less than PHP1,500 at some discount office warehouse more than ten years ago. It is often cluttered, crowded but functional. I have a rollaway drawer cabinet that which conceals a shocking mess of papers, office supplies and miscellaneous items. Beside my desk is an industrial stainless shelf on which I store dozens of food reference books, cookbooks, magazines and files. All of this is located in a small home office in Manila. During my two-month “hiatus” or more accurately “slowdown,” I had vowed to decide whether or not to attempt to write a cookbook or food book of some sort. But first, I promised myself a proper desk/workspace. Psychologically, I suppose it was a bribe. If I finally got my act together with respect to a desk, then I could comfortably sit down and draft out a book. But there was a twist. I was going to get a new desk at the beach; spend long weekends in our kitchen there away from distractions to write, update, refine and test recipes…
For ten years I have looked at the same spot next to a window in the bedroom that was an ideal setting for desk. You sit facing the back of our modestly sized lot, staring onto the “rough” of a small golf course. The “rough” is planted with hardwood trees, many of them mahogany and narra, which we planted several years ago. This view should always remain green, without another house and only an occasional passing human in sight. It looks up a hill, and it is extremely calming.
I have searched for an appropriate desk on and off for years. But never quite found one that was the right size, nor design, and at a justifiable price. Finally, I decided to design or draw one up by myself and have it custom made. This is the result. I just installed the desk a couple of days ago, and the photo up top was taken at roughly 5:30 or so in the morning, as the first light made its appearance, a new dawn and my new desk. Now, I have no excuses. :) It really isn’t a desk; more like a few legs and supports in kamagong (one of my favorite hardwoods) that hold up a very substantial seven-foot long and half-inch thick glass top. I had the unvarnished frame made by roadside artisans on the way to Tagaytay and the glass was ordered from a shop in Nasugbu. I love the result. Very simple, not heavy and imposing, and provides a lot of room for my computer and assorted doodads.
And let’s talk about those “doodads”. Just like my collection of small leather goods, I have, over the years, acquired or saved various items that I thought might eventually make a “revolving” appearance on my mythical desk… They include boxes/containers of all sorts made from exotic woods (hardwoods, burlwood, juniper, etc.), gorgeous specimen shells from my mom’s collection, antique ceramics from my grandparents, and several pieces of crystal that were either gifts or purchases. I have a “crystal ball” on my desk, pen holders, paper weights, picture frames, a tray for personal items, etc. Specimen shells are an odd category of collectibles, as once “HIGHLY RARE” shells can quickly become rather common when new sources are found. When my mom was building her collection, she had some of the most sought after pieces including several beautiful conus gloria maris (yes, that’s what the Chinese restaurant is named after), golden cowries, and even a cyprea guttata. At the time, it was believed there were only a dozen or so equally unblemished specimens of the guttata around the world. Today, all of those shells are still beautiful, but they are worth 1/20th what she paid for them, because so many more “rare” shells have been found in the oceans around the globe. But the value doesn’t matter, it’s just nice to have something to remind you of your ancestors. So this is how my new desk looks now. I am sure the items on it will come and go, and it will never be perfect, but always a work in progress. So, YES, I am back and will continue blogging for now, albeit in a more sporadic manner. And YES, I will do a spirited attempt at drafting out a cookbook. And NO, I cannot promise you it will ever be published. But stick around and you will see that I will turn to all of you for your opinions, help, advice, tips, etc. to keep the momentum going. :)