Sometimes things are exactly as they appear to be. But not always.

Like the time I was in my Texas home, heading up the stairs at dusk and I spy something dark on the carpet. I pick it up. Not sure why because I’ve been known to ignore things and just walk on by. Was a big old wasp and he was not happy. Gave me a good sting to show his displeasure and to teach me a lesson.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed some almonds sitting on a plate in the kitchen. Yes, it was getting dark and I was hungry so I grabbed one and shoved it in my mouth. Nearly broke a tooth on the damn olive pit!

Few months ago I was picking up donations at a friend’s condominium. There are tons of them here in Kuala Lumpur. The Oval. The Pearl. The Dua. And a billion more.

I had been there before so I knew where I was going. Knew where to park and how to navigate my way. The guards didn’t seem to understand me this time. I kept giving the name and told them she was expecting me. They went back and forth with each other. And me. I was getting a little frustrated because I had to pick up my daughter. I might have even been getting a little snarky with the guards. Finally, I said that I needed to go.

And then a light bulb went off in my head. Wrong condo building! I peeled out of there like a bat out of Hell. That was a tad embarrassing.

Oh my goodness. So, now my memory is gone. And my eyes are starting to make Mr. Magoo look like he has 20/20 vision!

Today, I was making an egg brunch casserole. Once I popped it into the oven I grabbed a can of Diet Coke from the fridge. I was sweating and looking forward to the cool jolt down the throat. Took a gulp and was quite surprised that it did not taste like Diet Coke at all! Do they go bad???? I looked at the silver can with red on it and it was a Heineken! Usually Heinies are all green. But these particular cans have silver with a red star on them. And the way it was positioned I just saw silver.

My daughter came downstairs and I said, “Just sitting here drinking beer on a Sunday afternoon.”

She asked, “Why?”

I told her the story. Said that I thought it was soda but it was beer! She said, “Yep, I get it. Happens to me all the time, too.”

I swatted her in the head and told her, “Go on with your bad self!”

It was a good laugh. The egg brunch casserole turned out fine. Apparently I put in all the right ingredients.

4 eggs

2 cups of milk

2 cups of croutons

1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 tsp prepared mustard

1/2 tsp onion powder

dash of pepper 

In a 13×9 greased pan, layer croutons and cheese. Mix eggs and other ingredients. Pour over croutons.

Bake at 325 for 55 minutes or until eggs settle. 

Can garnish with bacon or add vegetables. 

Simple Suggestion

Isn’t it odd how some people can get stuck on a certain thing or idea?

It sometimes just takes a simple suggestion. Which can be a positive or negative thing. But powerful.

The school nurse recently let us know that a couple of students had head lice in the high school.

I’m thinking, “When will it ever end? Didn’t I do enough head checking when the kids were in elementary school? Even middle school?”

Then I started scratching my head.

I checked my daughter’s hair and found nothing.

My head itches.

The book we were reading for book club mentioned a kid at the elementary school that had head lice.

Scratching again.

I was reading another book about a social worker who had an infestation of head lice that she brought home to share with her husband.

Non-stop itching on my head!

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I asked my daughter if she could please check my hair.

She was like, “Ewww. No, thank you.”

I asked, “Do you know how many times I’ve had to pick through your head (and your sister’s) like a chimpanzee?”

Daughter said, “That’s because you wanted to.”

I laughed out loud. Really?? I wanted to poke around my kids’ heads looking for nits?

Parents only do it because:

  1. They don’t want it spread through the house like a wildfire.
  2. The school requests it.
  3. We want them back to school as soon as possible!

She did end up checking my hair. Guilted into it, I suppose.

Gave me the “all clear.”

Still itching.

Then I finished another read from our book club. Sad story about the rounding up of Jews in Paris. And yes, lice was mentioned more than once.

Right back to some hard-core scratching of my head.

At this point, I’m either going to have a treatment or just stop reading!


I met an interesting lady a couple of weeks ago. She is a widow, author and travel writer.

During lunch she told me that she lost her husband some years ago. I said that I was sorry to hear that. I also asked if it was a sudden thing.

No, they were given three months.

She laughed and said, “So, he proceeded to teach me the maths.”

I was like,”What???”

While also thinking, “Geez, I’d have killed him right there. Not my idea of spending quality time! Maths!!!”

Obviously I’m not a math person. And either was Judyth.

When the postman came with one of their statements he’d have her collect it. She’d open it up and review their accounts. He’d ask her what she would do with this or that. Should they sell this or keep it? And on and on.

What he was doing was preparing Judyth to live on her own. A very important thing.

He had the gift of time although it was a short time. And he was going to use it wisely and practically.

To me it seemed to be the ultimate loving gesture. Using his limited time on earth to ensure that his partner would know how to to go on without him. Thinking about someone else while facing his own death. It’s a pretty big deal.

That’s quality time.


Last November, I was on a phone call with my mother.

We were always in email contact- but I always made regular phone calls since the old man wasn’t “on email” or on “the machine.”

Usually I  spoke with Mom first and then she would let Dad know I was on the line. As if if he didn’t already know.

Always preempting it with, “Pat, pick up! It’s your favorite daughter!”

This call was different. There was something in her voice.

I immediately asked, “What’s wrong?  Are my brothers ok? Is it Dad?”

She said,”No, it’s me. I have breast cancer.”


My Mom.

She proceeded to tell me the details and sounded very positive.

I was able to relay something I heard at an American Fundraiser here in Kuala Lumpur the previous month, “There are more women living with breast cancer than dying from it.”

I’m glad I had this in my grab bag because I am not sure how I would have handled it.

It’s my mom.

Do you know how excruciating it is to be so far away?

Dad gets on the phone.

I said, “Mom shared with me.”

He says, “I didn’t want her to tell you kids. I didn’t wan’t you to worry.”

I said, “Dad, I get that. But what if she needed a woman to talk to about it? Someone besides you??”

There was a sigh on the other end of the line. He hadn’t considered that.

Glad I shocked him into that.

I get that. I’m the same. We all want to protect our kids. We don’t want them to worry. Ever.

But that’s not always fair.

The funny thing is that my mother is probably the first person I would call if I was sick or needed help. Maybe I am just a baby and selfish. Or maybe that’s how it goes.

Our lives would soon change. Not due to Mom’s breast cancer and then a lung cancer diagnosis three months later. But because my Dad faded away in the midst of it all.


My daughter is in her room listening to music on her record player.

What’s old is new.

One of the records was skipping and she asked me what could cause this.

I can’t help with her Calculus homework. Or her advanced French course.

But Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I was out of my seat quicker than you can blink an eye.

Finally, I might be able to contribute to her education!

Maybe a scratch on the album. Dust on needle. Maybe some warpage. I was spinning, examining records and checking needles.

I said to her, nostalgia dripping in every syllable, “You have no idea how much time I spent listening to records in my bedroom. In my friends’ rooms, parties and everywhere else.”

And then I looked at the spinning disc in total awe.

I asked, “Isn’t it absolutely amazing that so much beautiful music is somehow squeezed into a black piece of vinyl. A needle hits it and this magic happens??”

It’s a freaking miracle. I just never appreciated it when I was young. Like so many other things.

Maybe that’s the miracle. When something old is new. And it makes you finally appreciate it.

Bread Baskets

Yesterday, I was at a Syrian market. They make these fabulous rolls. Sort of like the torpedo rolls we get back home.

I eagerly scoot over to the bread area in front of the ovens. There is an assortment. Multi-grain, wheat, etc. with tongs in each wicker basket.

A Malaysian man is in front of me, ignoring the obvious tongs, picking up the unpackaged bread with his bare hands. I’m aghast. He’s squeezing, rolling, poking and then putting them back in the basket.


I should have said something to him.  #epicfail

After I made my own selections, carefully avoiding the ones with fingerprints, I chatted with the guy behind the counter. I asked about some of the breads. Then I told him that he really should put a sign on the baskets. That tongs are always to be used. People are handling the bread with their hands.

Another expat woman beside me is bobbing her head in agreement.

He said, “We did. You won’t believe it. Some people get so angry. Sometimes they just remove the signs.”

I am glad that I shared my concerns with the employee even if it didn’t help. Next time I go in I will talk to the owner of the shop.

But I should have told the guy who was fondling the bread.

Teach a man proper hygiene and you’ll feed the rest of us for life.

It bothered me that I didn’t.

I’ll be fine. l can live with my scaredy cat self at the moment.

But God protect the next person I witness manhandling a loaf of bread.


I read recently about a special needs person who died on a school bus in California. Sounds like he was there for hours. They believe he got on the school bus in the morning. But never exited the bus. Meaning he was there all day long. He was autistic.

His relatives were waiting for him at the bus stop at the end of the day. Nothing.

But it doesn’t matter if he was special needs, no needs or whole lotta needs.

It’s tragic.

There needs to be a process. And not just a visual headcount. Or a count from a driver’s mirror.

But an actual walk down the aisle and checking every single seat. Takes two minutes. Tops.

It reminded me of a time when I was living in Dallas and probably wondering if being a stay at home mom, after fourteen years with a company, was actually worth it.

I had a friend and neighbor. She was a working woman. Her Indian parents were staying with her. They did not know a lick of English but I talked to them each and every time I ran into them on their evening walks. They attended the neighborhood functions and had pictures taken of us during our Cinco de Mayo bash. I, in typical Mary fashion, kept exclaiming, “Hey, who’s going to see these photos?” This was before Facebook but the struggle is real. They laughed and it made them comfortable.

One day I received a call. It was Lakshmi calling from work. She sounded anxious and said, “Mary, my parents were waiting for Ankith at the bus stop and he didn’t get off the bus. Can you check with Annie?”

Annie is my daughter.

I believe it was Ankith’s first day of kindergarten or first grade,

I told her I would check and get back with her immediately. I asked Annie, the minute she walked in the door, if she saw Ankith. She, a second grader at the time, said, “I think he got on the bus but I don’t remember him getting off the bus.”

I called Lakshmi to advise. She asked, “What should I do? Who should I call?”

I said, “You sit tight. Let me make some calls and I will call you as soon as possible.”

I called the the school office, who in turn got in touch with the driver and transportation department. Then back to me.

And we got that boy back home with his relieved grandparents (and mother) within forty five minutes.

It seemed that the first day of school exhausted poor little Ankith and on the way home, with the lull of the bus ride and the Texas heat, he fell into a slumber. He was little enough as it was- you never would have seen his head even if he hadn’t fallen asleep.

It happens.

I have a few messages in this post.

-There needs to be a process. Make sure your school has one in place for transportation. A walk through is vital.

-You need to know your neighbors. Doesn’t matter if they are from another country, religion or background. You need to know who to trust and who to call. Or you need to be that person.

-If you ever are doubting your role or place at a certain time remember you are there for a reason.

-Mommy wars? Forget about it. When it comes to the kids we are all in it together. Doesn’t matter who’s working outside or who’s working inside. All working together.


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