Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

I am visiting Kuala Lumpur for a few days and really enjoying seeing the many delightful friends I’ve made over the last five years.

Staying in a nice, clean hotel. Staff has been great. No complaints.

Until.

Yesterday, I was finishing up something when the guy came to clean the room. When I made my way out of the room he had just finished making up the bed.

I came back a bit later and he was gone. Noticed a stain on the bed cover. Looked like someone spilled coffee. And the mark obviously didn’t come out in the wash. Certainly knew it wasn’t me since the only thing I drank in the room was water.

Besides, it was a new cover. He had taken mine off and put the “fresh” one on the bed.

Left to meet a friend for coffee and when I returned the fellow who cleans the room was back. Making up the bed again.

I said, “Oh, you’re back.”

He replied that he was changing the bed cover because of the stain. Or something like that.

What I wanted to discuss-but didn’t want to lose him in conversation-is why on earth he kept the stained cover on the neatly made bed? Once he discovered the stain why not take it off and go find an unstained one?  

Weird.

This morning I hopped out of the shower and grabbed a neatly folded towel. It felt strange. I then took a good look at it. It had holes in it. Torn and worn.

towel

Weird.

I’m not blaming the cleaning guy (stain boy) who restocks the towel shelf in the bathroom. Because it was probably already folded in the laundry when it got to his cart.

Here’s my question.

Who folded it and thought it passed muster?

We’ve all folded a towel, right? And we all know that no matter how you fold a towel chances are pretty good that you would notice if it was torn nearly in half. No?

I’m not making a fuss. I thought both incidents were sort of funny in an odd way.

I will give my feedback to the hotel. But I’m still really curious.

 

 

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The other day I was reading a blog that I follow.  The fellow is fighting early onset Alzheimer’s and in this latest posting he was sharing his anger.

At God. At everything.

He discussed his feelings with a friend who is a pastor.

Wanted to know why he feels so angry. This is what the pastor told him.

“You have a right to be angry,” he tells me. “It’s okay at times to be angry at God. The book of Psalms is filled with such raw emotion, asking the Lord to ‘rouse thyself.’ We all think God is sleeping at times. ‘Wake up, we say, get on the job!’ The anger is understandable, yet misdirected. God doesn’t impart disease, but the Lord will use illness to bless.” 

Some weeks later, this same pastor delivers a sermon to the congregation. Says that they all have a choice when walking through the darkest valley. He said, “Don’t squander the opportunity. Grow through what you go through.”

That’s a difficult thing.

He then shared a parable with the congregation. I had never heard it before this.

A young woman went to her mother. Told her how things were so hard for her. She wanted to give up because she was tired of fighting and struggling. Seemed as one problem was solved another one arose.  

The mother brings her into the kitchen. Brings three pots to a boil. Puts carrots in one. An egg in the second pot. Ground coffee beans in the the third pot. 

Twenty minutes later the mother takes them out of the pots. Puts the carrots in a bowl. Then places an egg in another bowl. Ladles coffee into the third bowl.  

Asks daughter what she sees. 

Daughter replies, “Carrots, egg and coffee.” 

Mother brings the carrots to her and asks her to feel them. She does and finds that they are soft.

Then the mom asks her to take the egg and break it. The daughter finds a hardboiled egg under the shell. 

Mother then asks daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiles as she tastes the rich, aromatic coffee.  

“What does it mean, Mother?” 

The mother explained that these objects all faced the same adversity: boiling water.

Each reacted differently.

The carrots went in strong, hard and unrelenting. But after being subjected to boiling water the carrots softened and became weak. 

The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But after sitting in the boiling water its insides became hardened. 

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.  

I have friends who are currently facing adversity. In the form of breast cancer, early onset Alzheimer’s, divorce, the loss of a beloved child and the loss of a loving spouse.

All of us face or will face some type of adversity in our lives. Comes in many different forms. Visible and sometimes not so visible.

I suppose we cannot escape these things that are totally beyond our control.

Okay, so what exactly can we do?????????

We can be coffee.

 

 

 

 

 

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Last Sunday, my older brother and I were driving through the neighborhood where we grew up and Mom still resides.

We were talking about the train tracks along the river and I couldn’t remember when the trains stopped running. I recall sliding down, many a time, the steep hills to the river because that’s where kids played, built forts, caught poison ivy and smoked cigarettes. Boys rode their XR75s on the dirt paths. I certainly remember the tracks and hearing about hobos. But I don’t remember the actual trains.

My brother said they were still running when we were kids. Because he and his friend Billy would put pennies on the tracks so the train would flatten them.

We drove up First Street and we reminisced about who used to live in this house and that one.  When we got to the corner of First and Schuyler my brother pointed at a house and said, “So and so lived there. Always wanted to see if my name is still up there in that tree. Billy and I climbed it and carved our names.”

Billy and my brother grew up together. He died two years ago.

Shortly after he passed away my brothers and I were sharing memories of him on our whatsapp sibling group chat. I was in Malaysia, one brother in Connecticut and the other in Rhode Island.

Even though we were texting, and it was a tragically sad death, we were all literally laughing out loud recalling Billy. He was such a character and truly funny.

It’s odd how sometimes, at this age, we can hardly remember what we had for breakfast but there is such clarity in some memories that are decades old.

My little brother recalled the time that my older brother and Billy were supposed to be watching him. He was about nine or ten at the time so the older boys must have been about fourteen or fifteen. Billy and my brother really wanted to go a nearby Portuguese feast. So they dropped him off at their friend’s house and my little brother was left with the older sisters of people he didn’t even know! My older brother apologized (forty years later) and my younger brother claims he wasn’t scarred for life. Just felt a bit out of his comfort zone.

He also remembers when we would listen to the “crank call” recordings of Billy, my brother and their other friends. I definitely remember them. Because we would listen to them over and over again! Yes, Billy and company taped the actual calls. Even my mom thought they were hysterical.

My younger brother said, “Those tapes were comedy gold.”

He also said that was the very first time he heard the word “verify.”

Monsignor, the unfortunate (but not the only) target of the pranksters, said repeatedly that he did not order the pizza. He suggested that the pizza shop should call back the person to confirm the order.

Billy finished for Monsignor, “You mean to verify?!!??”

Monsignor said, “Yes.”

I remember Billy making me laugh when he was describing the telephone/address book at his house. He said the names were not all properly alphabetized by last name. He said it was so random. Like under the “P” tab it would say “Pat’s friend.”

My younger brother also remembered being on Cookie Hill with his friends. This was a small hill across the street from Billy’s house.

He said, “Billy was walking his dog (Moses) and wrestling around with him. He showed us little kids a peppermint tree. He cut the bark and it smelled exactly like peppermint.”

My older brother said Billy was the only kid that wasn’t afraid of my dad. That’s why my Dad liked him so much. My father probably seemed big and a bit intimidating to little kids back in the day. But not to Billy.

I guess it’s a good thing my dad never found out that my brother and Billy took his car for a little spin around the block.

When we finished up our reminiscing my older brother typed, “Love U both.”

I then typed, “Love U both, too.”

Younger brother types, “Ditto. Watching movie with Patty.”

I’m like, “Write it. U don’t get to say ditto.”

And he said, “I love u both.”

You take a moment and realize life is so very precious. Just like those childhood memories that haven’t faded in forty-five years. Ensuring some people will never be forgotten.

I’ve forgotten the train’s whistle but I remember so much.

 

 

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The last six months have been very busy for me. At times quite stressful.

The weekend of my daughter’s high school graduation (she graduated on the Friday) seemed especially busy. My husband was preparing to fly back to India on the Sunday with Thumper (the infamous canine) in cargo. We were worried about the mutt. And doing a bunch of last minute things.

We drove them to the airport (an hour from our home) hours earlier than the flight to ensure all paperwork in order.

It was hot. But it’s always hot in Malaysia.

And I was sweating. But I was always sweating in Malaysia.

Had to rush home from the airport because a friend was in from Australia and we needed to meet a group for dinner.

It was rush, rush and rush.

Got home but no time for a shower. What to do?

Brushed my hair and put it up in a clip. Some lip color.

I stunk. Just being honest. So I grabbed a face cloth and soap and cleaned under my arms.

Because I smelled like a person who had labored all day in the Malaysian heat without deodorant. For the record I do wear deodorant. Sometimes it fails me. In Malaysia.

At least I’m aware of it.

Hightailed it out of the house with my daughters and our friends who lived two doors down to meet up with our visiting friends at an Indian restaurant in the city.

It ended up being a lovely evening. The young folks went home right after dinner. My daughters had an early flight out in the morning. My friend and I went with the visitors for a couple of drinks after dinner.

Not a late night.

Arrived home and readied myself for bed. Now, thankfully, I only smelled like Indian food and wine.

My eldest, who sleeps with me when she’s at home and my husband is not, mumbled a few words like, “How was it?”

I took that as my cue for conversation.

She’s not always a fan. Because I’m sometimes pillow to pillow, “Remember your friend, Melissa, from second grade? Whatever happened to her?” and the like.

So I said, “Was a good night with the friends.”

And then continued conversing.

She said, “Not tonight, Mom. Early flight tomorrow.”

Totally respected that and snuggled into my pillow for a good night’s sleep.

Few minutes later I hear, “Mom?”

“Yes?”

“When we came back from airport did you shower?” she asked.

“No! You know I didn’t have time for that. Had to get downtown. I just cleaned under my arms with soap and water.”

She continued, “With the face cloth that’s on the sink?”

“Yup.”

“Oh.”

Okay, I laughed out loud even though I was nearly in slumber town. Couldn’t help myself.  Total belly laugh.

I said, “I’m going to blog about this one day.”

She replied, “Be more embarrassing for you though.”

I retorted, “Not really. It was my face cloth. Who uses someone else’s face cloth????”

Wishing you all a fun weekend! With a belly laugh or two! I promise to be better at updating the blog!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s that wonderful time of the year. Good will and good cheer!

And sometimes a bit awkward. The whole gift giving thing.

What’s the first thing we think of when we receive an unexpected present from a friend or neighbor during the holidays?

Not, “Isn’t this wonderful!” but more like,”OH NO, I didn’t get them a gift!”

We feel bad. Maybe a little thoughtless. Not sure why we are programmed in this way.

But what we really need to remember is that most of those people who are giving the gifts are acting without expectation.

Accept the gift graciously and thankfully. And then let it go.

Which leads me to another aspect of gift giving.

Thoughtfulness.

Have you ever attended a White Elephant gift exchange or a Yankee Swap party?

It’s a game where everyone brings a wrapped gift. Something that they’ve found hanging around the house or in the back of a closet. Because it’s unwanted. Might be really nice or kind of wacky but mostly unwanted. There’s a numbered system and also a “stealing” component.The results can be hysterical and entertaining. No one knows who brought what gift.

I recently attended one in my neighborhood. Chatting with the woman beside me while she secretly pointed out the gift she brought to the party. It was a lovely frame that her mother had given her.

She said, “I’m like, Mum, have you ever visited my home? That frame doesn’t match a thing! What were you thinking?”

I laughed because it’s so true.

When choosing a gift are we being mindful? Is it what they would really enjoy or is it what we like or think would be best for the recipient? It can be tricky. Our intentions are, no doubt, always good. But if we are thinking more about us than them then don’t be surprised if it’s wrapped up for next year’s White Elephant party.

This season I wish you all graciousness, thankfulness and acceptance of the many gifts you will receive. Material gifts and the ones that truly matter.

Act without expectation and don’t forget to throw in a bunch of thoughtfulness.

 

 

 

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Many of us are already starting to feel sluggish from the many social events and holiday parties.

Here in Kuala Lumpur there is always something happening on the expat scene. It’s a lively and active social life. I’d say it’s because most of us don’t have our families around us so friends and neighbors sort of become substitute family members. Who tend to congregate with astonishing frequency and celebrate everything. Also a lot of us have extra time freed up for us which we wouldn’t have back home.

Since the second week of November I have attended numerous social events. Not all involved drinking (most) but all involved food.

There was a farewell brunch for a neighbor who was moving to Scotland. Then a 50th birthday party. Followed by book club later in the evening. Next night there was another 50th birthday bash. Different person. And then my monthly cultural club lunch. Had to beg off another monthly lunch gathering due to a conflict.

Then there was a lovely Thanksgiving dinner celebration with neighbors. Jazz night. Lunches with small groups of friends. Canadian Association coffee -and mimosas if one were so inclined. Christmas party with PTA. Holiday party next evening in the neighborhood. Book Club again. Couldn’t make my monthly culture club lunch this time. Unable to commit to an upcoming cookie exchange. Another goodbye gathering for neighbors moving to the U.S. took place last night.

I have one more event tomorrow. A Christmas luncheon with the Canadian and American Associations.

Then I am officially throwing in the towel.

It has totally been a blast. But quite exhausting. I’m feeling a bit sluggish. Need to recharge the batteries.

Here’s a recipe for those of you who have had enough already and want to get ahead of the game. And not wait until that pesky new year resolution ritual rolls around in January. Flush the toxins, suppress the appetite and possibly flatten the belly.

Flat Belly Water

Pour six cups of filtered water in a pitcher. Add one tablespoon of grated ginger. One sliced cucumber. One sliced lemon. Half cup of mint leaves. Let sit overnight in fridge.

Drink the next day.

I meant drink the water. LOL

Wishing you all loads of energy as you embrace the holiday season.

 

 

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John Glenn, a true American hero, died at the age of ninety-five. What an amazing human being.

He’ll always be remembered as the first American who orbited the earth.

What he might not always be remembered for was his attempt at running for the presidency of the United States.

Hearing about his death brought back a lot of memories for me.

I didn’t know him personally but I sort of felt like I did. And I’m pretty sure there is a personalized thank you note from him hiding somewhere in my personal files.

Back in the early 1980s my mom was working for Billy who was elected to the State Senate. I remember being at his house on numerous occasions stuffing envelopes with a bunch of people around the table. It was a great experience being a part of something exciting.

Next thing I knew, I was on a bus with two of those fellow envelope stuffers (friends of Billy’s, Mom’s and mine) and about forty total strangers. We were heading to Nashua, New Hampshire to campaign, door to door, for John Glenn.

I was totally out of my comfort zone. The only two people I knew, John and Chip, were organizers of the event so I was on my own. With strangers. Yuck.

The first night I stayed with a host family. It was kind of creepy. I just remember feeling really uncomfortable. First time ever staying in a home with strangers. Did not want to stay another night.

So the second night I stayed in the hotel room with John and Chip. Totally not creepy.

Because I was friends with John. I went to school with him and we belonged to the same parish. He was one of the truest people you would ever want to meet.

Chip was always at Billy’s house or his office so I was also comfortable with him. He was one of the funniest guys.

Anyway, we ate pizza that night and laughed and laughed.

Of course, Chip just couldn’t wait to get back to Rhode Island to tell my mother that he spent the night with me. She got a chuckle out of that one. LOL.

It was over thirty years ago and quite a lot has changed since then.

Except the wonderful memories.

 

John Glenn was a courageous, respectable and decent gentleman. It was an honor to campaign for him.

Thank you for your service to our nation. Thank you for your authenticity and thank you for making me travel down memory lane today to fondly recall special people and moments.

You most definitely had “The Right Stuff.”

Rest in peace.

 

 

 

 

 

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