Chandler loves watching me cook.
She sits in the kitchen while I make my nopales salad, and like any good chef, I narrate to my audience: "First I boil the nopales. See, Chandler? Look at the water boil, isn't that exciting?"
She nods. Boiling water is exciting. She stays with me while the cactus cooks, and we leave it out to cool.
"Okay, I think it's cool enough now. Here we go, Chandler."
I transfer the nopales to a bowl and start prepping. I can tell Chandler is curious about the detailed process, and I am happy to share my mom's recipe.
"Sal—" I add some salt. "Pimienta—" I add some pepper. "Orégano—" I sprinkle some oregano. "Don't forget the olive oil! Vinegar! Cebolla! Serrano! Limón! SO MUCH lime juice, Chandler! Do you love lime, too? Of course you do, what am I even saying." We both shake our heads; loving lime is in our genes, after all, in our culture and our blood. She has only lived with us for 48 hours, but deep down I know our love of limón is already in her Great Pyrenees bones.
I continue explaining to Chandler that cilantro is a must in this nopales salad. "It adds a certain... well you know, Channy, whatever the French say." Chandler stretches her legs in agreement. She enjoys the kitchen's cold, white tile more than any of the other surfaces in our small house. I prefer to do my stretches in the living room. Hardwood is more my style.
While I toss my salad, I sing to Chandler:
Who's my little Chandler?
Who's my little Channy-Fanny-Fluff-Baaaaall?
She's heard this before. It bores her by now.
"I know. I gotta change it up. By lunch tomorrow, I'll have a new song. What say you, Chandler?"
Her yawn could lead some to believe she has no particular opinion about the songs I write for her. But I know her pretty well by now, and the look in her eyes tells me she's expecting new lyrics and a fresh menu tomorrow.
Maybe we'll make brussel sprouts.