By Wayne Chan
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Who would have ever thought that a global pandemic could lead to feelings of complete inadequacy?
As is the case with just about everyone, I have been home a lot the last 18 months. And as is the case for many of us, being home a lot means having a lot of time for home improvements around the house. Things in the house that seemed perfectly fine when we weren’t stuck at home are suddenly completely intolerable now.
Now, I will be the first to admit that my home improvement skills are minimal at best, but that hasn’t stopped me from bringing attention to even the slightest accomplishments I’ve achieved to my lovely wife, Maya.
“Sweetie,” I call out to Maya.
“You know that smoke detector that was beeping in the family room? I got the ladder out and replaced the battery. Problem solved. That was all me, baby.”
I’m not expecting a home improvement award for my efforts mind you, but times are tough. You do what you have to do to get some recognition, right?
Anyway, the other change in our life during our isolation at home has been watching more TV, and that has led me to discover the wonder of Li Ziqi. Li Ziqi is a Chinese video blogger who posts videos on various social media outlets in China and abroad showcasing her cooking and handiwork skills. She has amassed a huge following, with her videos being viewed billions of times.
I would have never watched any of her videos but sadly, I am not in control of the TV remote.
Maya has that responsibility. On the rare occasions I have access to the remote, I zero in on whatever programming that displays the maximum number of explosions per episode.
Anyways, getting back to Li Ziqi, watching the first few videos, I was fairly nonplussed at what I was seeing. She plucked various vegetables from her garden and cooked them up in a giant wok.
I mean, serene and beautiful, but no big deal.
But, a few videos in, you start seeing the true extent of her skills. She makes a tofu dish, but she picks the soybeans first and makes the tofu first. In another video, she makes a corn dish, but first starts off planting a field of corn, raising the corn, harvesting it all by herself, and then making the corn dish.
Watching one video of her preparing to paint a portrait, I remark to Maya, “She’s just going to paint? Do we really have to watch this? I think there’s a Vin Diesel movie with lots of explosions on right now.”
As Li Ziqi prepares to paint, she starts off by making her own paint using various berries and other materials. Continuing on with my efforts to change the channel to more explosion-centric programming, I slyly remark to Maya, “OK, she makes her own paint—fine, but I’d be more impressed if she painted on a paper canvas that she created herself.” Which, of course, is exactly what she proceeded to do—she produced her own canvas using pulp from wood that she had grown on her own and even hand made her own paint brushes using horse hair.
Suddenly, my changing the batteries of the smoke detector doesn’t seem nearly as impressive anymore.
One of the latest videos I’ve watched of Li Ziqi shows her sewing together a beautiful silk dress completely handmade, and I would be remiss not to mention that the silk she used was produced only after she raised the silk worms which produced the silk, which she then turned into silk thread.
I blame Li Ziqi for my feelings of inadequacy. Now all of a sudden, I question everything I do. For example, we have a small pizza oven in our backyard. Last week, I made my own pizza, but after watching Li Ziqi, I started questioning myself. I didn’t raise the cows that produced the milk for the mozzarella. I didn’t grow the wheat and harvest it to make the pizza crust. I didn’t even grow the tomatoes for the pizza sauce. My sauce came from a (gasp!) can.
To add insult to injury, I bought my outdoor pizza oven. Li Ziqi has an outdoor oven, too, but the difference is, she built her own clay oven herself and heats it with wood that she gathered.
Maya asked me to hang a painting in our bedroom this afternoon. I don’t know if I’m up for this.
Wayne can be reached at email@example.com.