Ideas for Father’s Day (6/20/21)

Today, we are having a triple celebration: Juneteenth, Father’s Day and Summer Solstice.

I really miss my Daddy
I wasn’t ready to say goodbye
It will never be the same
Years from now, I know I’ll cry

I bet he sees us mourning
But would want us to smile
And tell us our time apart
Is only a little while

I’ll never quite understand
Why your time here was so small
But you said you’ll always be there
To catch me when I fall

I miss you so much Daddy
But I hope and pray
That when it’s my time you’ll come for me
I’ll see you again someday

I guess it was meant to be
That your work here on Earth was done
Now your life in paradise
Has only just begun

Tears that I weep and prayers
Will hopefully travel very far
To reach my loving daddy
Sitting among the stars

(anonymous poem)

This year’s Father’s Day begins with a good news. Next week my niece Becki (my father’s granddaughter) will get married in Eastbourne, UK. Because of Becki, my father decided to immigrate to England with my mother 21 years ago to spend time with Becki as much as possible. Now Becki will be the bride, but it’s a pity that my father wouldn’t be able to witness this happy moment…

The following video has fragments of Becki’s childhood in southern England:

Since June 15th, California has been fully opened. Since March, we has been hosting a garden party every weekend, and we are very busy with gathering with old and new friends who have been fully vaccinated. Father’s Day in early summer is the best time of the year to enjoy the cool night parties. We are toasting to all fathers: grandfathers, father-in-laws, uncles, brothers, etc.. Fun picnics, drinking with good buddies, barbecuing and sport events tickets are perfect gifs to celebrate fathers’ “birthday”.

This year we are not alone to celebrate the festival like last year. My stepson Patrick is coming Camel, northern California to celebrate “Father’s Day” with his dad. Besides, this year’s summer solstice coincides with Father’s Day on June 20th. I must make a special Father’s Day dinner to serve these two men and to enjoy the beautiful summer evening.

“Father’s Day” is also a very day for making me miss my father. He has left us for more than 4 years. He was the loving father and my best friend. The following is a small movie I dedicated to my dad on Father’s Day 5 years ago, when he was with us. I heard from my mother, my father kept watching this video over and over again:

Here is a poem I wrote quickly that I recited at my father’s funeral 4 years ago.

On my father’s path to heaven,

A rainbow appears in the sky,

It enriches that lonely journey,

Guiding my father to the paradise of bliss.

We are lighting candles,

Starting playing my father’s favorite music,

By the candlelight and music as background,

We are dedicating our eternal love to our father.

Despite your physical body will be farewelling to us,

But your soul will be immortal.

Father, you are now upgraded to a paradise trumpeter,

To play the sound of eternity for us,

Your sound of trumpet is a bridge of the rainbow,

Ties the world and heaven together,

To convey love between the two worlds. “

The following video is the eulogy read by my niece Becki at my father’s memorial service.

(My niece Becki talked about my father during the funeral)

To commemorate my father, I composed Yellow Crane Tower:

Here is the program note of Yellow Crane Tower:

I composed Yellow Crane Tower (for Trumpet and and Percussion Quartet) as a piece to be in memory of my father who passed away 2 years ago.  My father was a professional trumpet player in China.  He was born in Wuhan – the famous Chinese Tam-tam manufacture location and the major intersection of Yangtze River.  The Yellow Crane Tower, a sacred site of Taoism and a famous tourist attraction, has existed as far as 223 AD.  There are 2 movements in my piece: 1) Misty Yangtze River and 2) Farewell, the Yellow Crane.  The images of my piece are based on 2 ancient Tang Dynasty poems by Cui Hao (704-754) and Li Bai (712-770).

Here are the translations of the poems:

  1. Yellow Crane Tower (By Cui Hao)

Long ago one’s gone riding the yellow crane, all that remained is the Yellow Crane Tower.

Once the yellow crane left it will never return, for one thousand years the clouds wandered carelessly.

The clear river reflects each Hanyang tree, fragrant grasses lushly grow on Parrot Island.

At sunset, which direction leads to my hometown? One could not help feeling melancholy along the misty river.

2. Seeing off Weng Haoran for Guangling at Yellow Cane Tower  (By Li Bai)

My old friends said goodbye to the west, here at Yellow Crane Tower,

In the third month’s cloud of willow blossoms, he’s going down to Yangzhou.

The lonely sail is a distant shadow, on the edge of a blue emptiness,

All I see is the Yangtze River flow to the far horizon.

In my piece, the solo trumpet represents the “Yellow Crane” as an immortal who symbolizes my father’s soul while the percussion depicting the images derived from the 2 poems.  I also adopted several regional folk tunes from Wuhan.

Joan Huang: Yellow Crane Tower (1)

My father was born in 1930 on a big ship named “Fengyang” bound for Shanghai, so his nickname was “Fengming” (in Chinese means “Crying at Fengyang”). He came from a very happy Christian family. Due to the political reasons that religious freedom in China was out of the question. He had been our best friends until his death. He was low-key throughout his life. He was never the kind of “tiger dad” who put pressures on his kids, he was the “king” in the “Children’s Kingdom”. Career wise he was not as successful as my mother, but his charms were radiant. My father had had so many friends from different generations throughout his life, and we were lucky to have such a father who was a lot fun.

(My father was during his youth)

We are a music family. All five of us graduated from the same music institute, i.e. Shanghai Conservatory of Music. My father was was a trumpet major. After the graduation from the conservatory in 1956, he was on the faculty of the instrumental department, and then, first worked in the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra for 2 years, and then worked as a trumpet player in the Shanghai Ballet Orchestra for many many years. I remember that since the sad news of my father’s passing 4 years ago, the condolences from relatives and friends from all over the world were full of affections for my father. When we were group communicating on “WeChat” with our cousins, all they said was that their uncle was deeply missed. My father was very gracious to his nieces and nephews.

My father, me, my mother and my brother

We love our father, he was not only good at music, he was also an excellent amateur soccer player. I love watching “World Cup” soccer games because I was completely influenced by my father. Ever since I was a child, he always asked me to accompany him to listen to the radio or watch live TV matches of “World Cup” whether it was in the middle of the night or during the prime time, he was fascinated with the excitements of the games.

(During my childhood)

I remember that in my childhood, My father always told us bedtime stories from Grandpa Brainstorming, A Hundred Thousand Whys, Pinocchio and many many more. During my 2 years living on Urumqi Road in Shanghai, my parents and I squeezed on the same bed. That was the most memorable time for me. My father was very patient and taught me to sing the song cycle Beautiful Havana section by section. There were 13 variations in it, until today I can still memorize the song. During the three years of famine in the early 1960a, the life was very tough, and food was strictly rationed, each household was only allocated 10 eggs per month, but whenever the guests came, my father generously and unselfishly took out all the eggs for everyone to make his specialty: noodles with green onion eggs. Such altruistic stories are numerous.

There is one thing that I will never forget. During the Cultural Revolution, As a teenager, I was assigned to Shanghai Star-Fire Farm to do very heavy manual labor. One day, my father came to visit me from the city to the farm. We dug canals all day long, carrying heavy loads of silts on a shoulder pole. My both shoulders were bruised, my face was covered with muds and sweat. Because of the heavy loads, I fell to the ground again and again couldn’t get up. My father looked my small body, couldn’t help but shed tears. Later, in a letter he sent to me, he wrote: “What system is this? Why is my daughter who had excellent grades and should have been admitted to college normally, but now she has to be reformed through labor?”

(I was with a group of teenagers to play music on the field at the Star-Fire Farm)

On this triple celebrations of Father’s Day, I would like to toast a glass of champagne to my father in heaven, my husband Bill and all my “father” friends, and pay tribute to your sense of responsibility, love and dedication. I wish you a great time with your children on this special day!

My parents attended my PhD graduation ceremony at UCLA in 1991)

This year’s Father’s Day happens together with summer solstice. I’m making an outdoor hearty barbecue tonight: an iron clamp, a large fork, and a pair of cotton gloves are ready. I picked a bunch of flowers in the garden and put in a vase.

Today’s recipe I’m using is from Sheila Lukins’ Celebrate!: lemon grilled shrimp cocktail, Andrew’s iceberg salad with Roquefort, grilled rib-eye steaks, smashed potatoes, grilled mixed vegetables from my own produce and luscious strawberry shortcake. The meal will be accompanied by a good bottle of California cabernet sauvignon. Wow, a paradise…

1. Lemon grilled shrimp cocktail: pre-marinating extra-large shrimp with tails on in a sauce (composed of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic mash, rosemary, coarse salt and pepper) for an hour, then skewered with metal skewers. Grill them 3 minutes per each side. The orange prawns are paired with yellow lemon wedges, which are both beautiful and delicious.

2. Andrew’s iceberg salad with Roquefort:

Twelve slices of bacons are fried on an iron pan until they are crispy and then broken into pieces, 1 and a half iceberg lettuce are broken into pieces, 1 red onion is finely chopped, and 6 slices of tomato.

Salad dressing: French Roquefort cheese, a little heavy whipping cream, mayonnaise, 2 shallots (chopped), 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, a little bit of worcestershire sauce and ground pepper.

3. Grilled rib-eye steaks

Sprinkle the whole steaks with kosher salt and coarse ground pepper on both sides, and grill them 3-4 minutes per side. During the process of grilling, brush them with a little bit olive oil.

4. Smashed potatoes

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 shredded onion, 2 chopped garlic, 2 pounds of red potatoes, 6 tablespoons of butter, half a cup of heaving whipping cream, a pinch of salt and pepper, and 2 tablespoons of parsley.

Fry the onion and garlic in hot olive oil until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Boil the red potatoes in a pot filled with water for 25 to 30 minutes. Scoop and press into a puree, stir in with butter and whipping cream. Finally, mix all the ingredients together.

5. Grilled mixed vegetables from my own produce

Seasonly I have green beans, tomatoes, different kinds of squashes, various kinds of peppers. Grill them with olive oil, pinches of salt, pepper and garlic.

6. Luscious strawberry shortcake

1) For the biscuits: Kneading together 2 cups of flour, a small cup of sugar, a spoonful of baking soda, a whole stick of butter, and a cup of heaving whipping cream, then divide them into 6 round cakes and bake them in the oven for 20 minutes.

2) For the strawberries and topping: 2 pints of strawberry, sliced, mixed with 5 tablespoons of sugar; a cup of heaving whipping cream mixed with a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Cut each biscuit horizontally, and then alternately stack with whipping cream, strawberries, and so on, building it into a tower shaped shortcake.

On this Father’s Day, my thoughts are converging into a gurgling spring which nourishes my soul and takes me back to my sweet and bitter childhood…

I’m ending my blog with a happy tune, jubilant summer is here! 🥂🍷🧉🍾🍺🍹🥃🌭🍔🍸🥃🍻

Published by Joan Huang

I'm a freelance composer living in bucolic Altadena, the suburb of Los Angeles. Besides music making, I love cooking, drinking wines with friends, gardening, hiking and traveling.

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