Archive for the ‘Malaysia’ Category

#11 on the list. To fight cabin fever this winter.

Challenge yourself. 

Recently I mentioned being exhausted and that I would soon share the reason.

Exhausted might have been a slight exaggeration. I was being a tad dramatic.

But here’s the reason.

I challenged myself at Goodreads. My personal goal is to read 100 books in 2019. I know, right?

This is a great site, by the way, for those who enjoy reading. Has suggestions, reviews, etc.

As an aside, since I am in sharing mode, this is also a fabulous site Reading Group Guides. loaded with so much for a reader to digest.

Since I’ve avoided any weight loss challenges that might be beckoning I figured I would go for something that was actually doable. My friend, Nancy, thinks that it’s a bit aggressive. She’s probably right.

I do enjoy reading and learning. So, I am not doing it just for the challenge. But it will help me to stay on track and not veer off with pesky distractions. While still somehow putting a little healthy pressure on myself. Not necessarily a bad thing if it’s keeping me off the streets.

Now I’m like an anteater sniffing around the house. Reading everything.

Hannie, my youngest who is away at university, is sort of uncomfortable with me grabbing books from her room and devouring them. Because, along the way, I’m taking photos of her neon colored, sticky post it notes and personal hand written observations  in the margins while also lending my own running commentaries.

My accompanying texts, “Yes! I agree!” Or, “Really? You thought that?” Like a virtual book club. In my mind anyway.

neontabs

So that is number eleven on the list “Fighting Cabin Fever.”

Challenge yourself.

Maybe lose the twenty pounds that appeared out of nowhere once you found an empty nest with no cigarettes. Okay, sorry for that ramble. That was totally for me. All me. 

Could be an on-line course. Or listen to a daily podcast. Do one nice thing for someone else each day. Pull out a jigsaw puzzle. Read more books. Go for regular walks. Learn new recipes to shake things up.

A friend from Malaysia joined the 100sareepact in 2015. This involved a pact between two friends to wear their saree (sari) one hundred times while sharing their saree stories. It incorporated photos of celebrations, heritage, joy, love, cherished memories and more. Very cool movement.

Maybe you could create your own friend pact/challenge?

Whatever you decide to do it will result in a lovely feeling of accomplishment. You will have achieved your goal while keeping busy waiting for the change of seasons.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

I missed Autumn in New England when I was away.

Leaf peepers visit from all over the country and the world to experience the changing foliage. It’s so beautiful.

And who doesn’t love bright orange pumpkins?

I remember, when we lived in Kuala Lumpur, my neighbor Jean’s husband got very creative one Halloween night. There weren’t any orange pumpkins available in our tropical environs so he got his hands on a watermelon and carved it accordingly. Made me chuckle but also realize how humans acclimate.

When our children were young it was always fun to visit the pumpkin patch and pick out the perfect pumpkin. We’d bring it home to decorate and/or carve it. Scooped out the innards, rinsed the stringy seeds, dried them and later roasted them in the oven.

Here is an old photo of Hannie and her carved pumpkin when we lived in California. 25 was our house number at the time. Placed by the front door to greet trick or treaters. Snagged the idea from my old friend, Betsy. Visit her site Farmhouse Wares for cool home and garden items.

25lamirage.jpg

Hannie is a bit older now and in her second year of university. She came home for a weekend in October to celebrate my birthday. So appreciated! Of course, we went to find the perfect pumpkins.

pumpkinpatch

Some things have changed since then. Like the number of our house. But some things remain the same. Like our happiness while decorating pumpkins.

35pumpkin

Consider this as #2 on my previously mentioned “cheerful list.” The things that add a bit of brightness to my day once the days of summer have passed. Even though it really is more than just pumpkins. It is time spent outdoors. Togetherness. Creativity. And yes, eating pumpkin seeds.

 

Read Full Post »

Well, hello there! I hope you are all well.

My apologies for being a slug and not writing sooner. Had a very busy summer. Not a moment to think! Don’t get me wrong. It was lovely and fun. Filled with family and friends. As well as new experiences. Just super busy.

I thought when I arrived here (in the U.S.) during the Spring that I would have all the time in the world.

Then I blinked and summer was gone. Just like that. Snap.

Fallnew.jpg

The original plan was to head back to Delhi, India at the end of September, hang out with my husband and begin exploring the country again with my newfound friends.

tuktuk

But we all know about plans. I suppose we need a constant reminder to always view them as fluid. And go with the flow.

We are happily repatriating after seven years of overseas living.

Do I wish I had more time in India? Yes, I do. I swear a person could spend a lifetime in India and not fully see or appreciate that amazing country. So diverse. Language, terrain, people, food, climate and especially the colors!

chili

serveloveparkcleanupindiadoorsbaskets.JPG

Some folks complain about moving. I get it. Each person and circumstance is different.

Fortunately, I am not one of them. I view our past moves as experiences that continually added depth and a ton of beautiful people to our lives.

I counted thirteen moves in our nearly thirty-two years of marriage. No, of course it’s not always Skittles and beer. Each and every move created indelible memories. Some happy and some sad. Leaving beloved family and friends. The excitement of exploring new places. A clean slate. Missing important family occasions. Adding new friends to the list. Losing people along the way.

Knowing that each move means you’re a little bit older and so is the generation before you. Everything changes and time does not stand still. At all.

I still do not have any regrets or complaints. Not even sure if this is our last move!

Below was the view from our balcony. Enjoying the calm before the packers got busy.

nextdoorleft

nextdoor

This last move was going according to plan. The fellas are punctual and ready to get cracking. I oversee the operation. Like they needed my assistance. 🙂

someboxes

empty

At the end of this first day we are at the hotel. My husband is visiting with a friend by the pool and telephones me. He is cheerful and says, “Come join us.”

I replied, “Be down in a jiff.”

Two minutes later, I am heading down the stairs and my mobile rings again. I was thinking, “Why on earth is he calling me again? I’m on my way already.”

I could tell something was wrong by the way he said my name. It was. He just got word that his mother had died in Syria. 😦 I think losing your mom has got to be one of the saddest things. Like it’s your mom. The only one you ever get.

That was a Tuesday and we were leaving India on Saturday in the wee hours. Honestly? This move, in a weird way, provided a huge distraction during a very sad time. Because we were in the midst of decisions and a constant state of busyness we were able to get through each day of this week without despair.

So this particular move will always be associated with the death of my mother-in-law. His mom, a beloved grandmother, mother-in-law and someone who has been a part of my own life history for more than thirty years. Still seems a bit surreal. I thought she was going to live forever.

But like all of our moves it is never about just one thing or feeling. There is now also some excitement. Starting a new chapter in my home state. We haven’t lived here since we left in 1994! So while it’s still familiar it has been awhile since we permanently hung our hats here. A lot has changed but it feels like we have sort of come full circle.

We are enjoying this transition back to the U.S. and enjoying the great (and clean) outdoors. Our air shipment (14 moving boxes-clothes, linens and personal items) arrived last Monday. The sea shipment (furniture and rest of it) will follow in the middle of November. I don’t care too much about “things” but I will be glad to have our photo albums, framed pics, art, personal papers and family history back with us.

I feel so very fortunate. It’s like my being has absorbed all of the people and experiences on this twenty-four year journey through Texas, California, Malaysia and India. So that I can always carry these people and places with me. Ensuring that I will never forget any of them.

So that’s my news. This is where I am. You are officially updated.

I look forward to working on this blog with more frequency. Lots of writing to be done.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

 

 

Read Full Post »

When I wrote about Kyle, two postings back, it was prompted by a few different things.

Yes, a pal and I were discussing him because one of Kyle’s friends recently passed away.

But there were other reasons that prompted my writing. Soon realized it would result in more than one blog posting.

Here is one of them.

I was reading an article that disturbed me. It was the story of a decorated veteran, like Kyle, who also brought back something from Vietnam.

This hero’s name was Andrew. He came from a Southern military family. His father and brothers served our country. Andrew volunteered for Vietnam.

His position was “Forward Observer.”

The following is a quote from a guy who served with him.

“During the period when Lieutenant Brannan served, the Forward Observer had the shortest life expectancy of any category of soldier in Vietnam.”

Can you imagine what horrors he witnessed? What horrors he might have inflicted?

All accounts show that Lieutenant Brannan returned from Vietnam a changed person. He had experienced warfare. Like Kyle he had been exposed to Agent Orange. Family loss and weakening mental health only added to the trouble that was brewing ahead of him.

It just sounds like he couldn’t get it together after the war. He isolated himself. Couldn’t finish school. Wasn’t successful with his marriage. Was eventually put on meds. Lived in a plywood shack he constructed. Spent lot of time trekking alone in woods.

He was off his medication for a few days when he was pulled over by a young police officer for a traffic violation in 1998.

The end result is that Andrew Brannan killed a Sheriff’s Deputy. There is a video of the actual confrontation and crime. No disputing the video.

The video shows a man (who did not know he was being filmed) exhibiting erratic behavior. Dancing around weirdly. Then he grabs a rifle from his truck. If you notice his stance and movements toward the policeman’s car it would put you in mind of a soldier during the middle of a war scene.

No disputing the man wasn’t right in the head.

This veteran murdered an innocent, young man that day.

A heart-breaking tragedy for the family of the deputy. And so many others.

On January 15, 2015,  Andrew Brannan was executed by lethal injection in the state of Georgia.

His lawyers tried to get his sentence commuted to life without parole. But they lost their appeals. So Lieutenant Brannan, decorated veteran with severe PTSD, ceased to exist.

Just feels kind of rotten to kill someone who served our country by killing for us. So much wrong with that sentence. No pun intended.

In a prepared statement given to his lawyers, he said: ‘I am proud to have been able to walk point for my comrades, and pray that the same thing does not happen to any of them.’

In his official last statement, moments before the injection was administered, Brannan said: ‘I extend my condolences to the Dinkheller family, especially Kyle’s parents and his wife and his two children.’ 

I was discussing the death penalty with my friend, Jenny, on a recent visit to Malaysia.  There are many viewpoints on this very hot topic. We touched upon a few.

There is this one. How about we don’t kill anyone at all?

The guilty could suffer every day. Just like the surviving victims of their crimes. Or become remorseful. Or get help if they are mentally ill.

One “newly available” cell will not make a difference in America’s already over-crowded and over-burdened prisons. The death penalty does not deter.

Evil exists. I have no doubt about that. But not all criminals are evil. That’s another blog posting.

No one is above the law. Whether you served your country or not. Everyone needs to be accountable in a courtroom in they committed a crime.

The punishment, however, is the tricky thing. Especially for the U.S. because we actually have States that still practice the death penalty.

Side note: Along with more than fifty countries in the world. If you look at that guest list you’d reconsider going to the party. Not exactly the finest bedfellows.

So can a person who is or was mentally ill be executed?

Sure.

Usually not mentally retarded folks. But history will show more than a few, with IQs less than 70, got the chair or injection. More than a few.

Mentally ill? Jury is still out on that one.

Is everyone who commits an act of murder mentally ill? Even if it’s temporary?

I do not believe that the late Lieutenant Brannan, Bronze Star recipient, was evil. He was just very ill.

Andrew Brannan was a fresh-faced young man from the South who proudly served his country. He came from a family who all served their country. He was one of the “lucky ones” who came back.

But he brought something back from those jungles and it was called mental illness. In the form of PTSD.

Honestly? I think we killed him twice.

His lawyers might have failed him by not getting the “life without parole” sentence but it sure is tough for folks not to be emotionally moved by a young widow with small children. Especially when it’s the family of a police officer.

But who is really responsible and could this all have been avoided?

We (our nation) are responsible and yes it could have been avoided. If we never sent our boys off to war. If we never exposed them to chemicals and atrocities that would haunt them for the rest of their lives.

But that horse is already out of the barn.

Nothing to be done for Kyle or Andrew. Too late.

What can be done for the many others who are still out there suffering?

Maybe every time we say “Thank you for your service” to a veteran it’s not just a rote “see how patriotic I am” reaction. Instead of that gratefulness recusing any work, charitable or not, on our part why not explore how we can actually support them. What if every “thank you” prompted a knee-jerk act of kindness of compassion? Being an advocate for their needs. Donating time or resources. Reflect on those suffering. Before posting passive-aggressive memes “Helping homeless U.S. Veterans before refugees” without doing anything except moving digits on a keyboard maybe take the time to actually help homeless U.S. Veterans.

So many opportunities to help so many.

In memory of the Kyles and Andrews who sacrificed their minds and their bodies.

For us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today, I was looking up into the trees at a local park. There is a bird call that I hear all day long here in Delhi. Belongs to the Brown-headed Barbet. A small bird with a green body.

Took this photo a couple of days ago. Not great quality.

barbet

For some reason I associate this bird’s sound with the noise at crosswalks. The one which signals blind folks that it is safe to cross the road.

So all day, like the Pavlovian dog, I just keep wanting to cross the street. Safely. Thank you, barbets.

I looked up trying to find the little sucker.

Imagine my surprise when this is what I see. In the middle of the day. Again, not the best photo taken with my phone. But I think you can figure out what it is.

owl1

Then I realize there are two sets of eyes on me.

owl2

Definitely not barbets.

So cool.

I was laughing because I attempted to take photos at different angles. In front. Behind. Didn’t matter because his eyes were always on me. Sort of like Jesus’ eyes in a picture my Aunt Rose Marie use to have hanging in her house. Always following. I thought of the old saying, “Eyes in the back of your head.”

It really is fascinating how their heads can do the 360 degree turn thingy.

The first time I have ever seen an owl, outside of captivity, was this past January. My husband and I attended an event at a place in Providence, Rhode Island. A Snowy Owl happens to reside on the roof. We caught sight of him while we were leaving.

Owls are cool.

To me.

I remember when my friend, Maria-Ann, and I ran a resale charity shop for a short while in Kuala Lumpur. We had a cute, wooden owl statue for sale. None of the Chinese customers gave it a second glance.

My friend mentioned that it didn’t give off positive vibes in the Chinese culture.

A lot of folks (from my part of the world) associate owls with age and wisdom.

Plenty of owls (with black, thick rimmed spectacles) on graduation cards in the United States. Every May stuffed owls or statues appear on the shelves in Hallmark stores. Ready to be purchased for the graduate-to-be.

Chinese do not have the same association. Believe owls are bad luck.

I get it. Everyone is different.

Here in India?

Owls are thought to bring good luck around the Diwali holiday.

That’s nice.

If sacrificed.

What?????

Folks looking to improve their financial situation think that the sacrificing of an owl will help.

India protects all of the species but there is a bustling black market that exists. Selling owls for hefty fees. All year round for different cures or luck but especially around the holiday.

You can even pay to have someone do the killing for you.

Now, we all have our beliefs, superstitions, etc. but I’m thinking if a person has to kill a living creature to enhance some aspect of their own life maybe a little regrouping is in order. A look at alternative, legal options in that quest for good luck.

Leave the owls alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

I try not to be too superstitious. Been working on this for years.

Most are harmless enough, right? Maybe even a bit fun.

Not stepping on a crack in the sidewalk wouldn’t have actually prevented “Mother’s broken back.” But it might have made the boring walk down the street to Cabral’s corner market for a loaf of bread and a pack of Mom’s L&Ms a little less monotonous for a kid.

I remember when a bunch of us kids were passengers in Mrs. Gillett’s car. She was our neighbor but also our friends’ grandmother. That’s the real reason we were in the car. Anyway, when Mrs. Gillett came to the railroad tracks in the road she lifted her feet. Not for long. Maybe just a few seconds. Nope, she wasn’t doing it to strengthen her lower abs. She did it for good luck.

I still do it.

But I falter from time to time. Step on cracks all the time and my Mama is perfectly fine.

Recently, I was in a Delhi shop. Narrow as all get out. One of the employees had a ladder out in the middle of the floor. No way for me to go around it. So I waited. Waited some more. There was no way I was walking under that thing. No way.

Also have this other thing. I should always leave from the same door I entered. Not sure where that one came from but I am always aware of it.

But this is absolutely one superstition that should be left by the door.

Here is why.

In 2003 I was living in Dallas, Texas. On a February evening, many, many miles away in my home state of Rhode Island there was a terrible fire in a night club. It claimed the lives of one hundred men and women. And injured hundreds of others. Like horribly injured.

Young people were just having an evening out, listening to music and enjoying a respite from one of New England’s long winter nights. Like I did many a time. As you probably did.

Pyrotechnics (fireworks) which were meant to add a bit to the show ignited the foam that was used for sound insulation in the walls and ceiling. Within FIVE minutes the Station club in West Warwick was engulfed.

People could not see the exits due to the heavy smoke. There was also a massive crush as people tried to get out the main exit. The place where they entered at the beginning of the evening.

So there were different causes of death that night.

The following is a video, taken ten years ago, of my cousin John who was a firefighter in Warwick. It also features his bandmate (yes, singing firefighters) who was actually present at the Station when the fire began. The video is dated 2007 and John has recently retired as a Lieutenant. But the message in this clip is still as important today as it was then.

You do not need to leave from the same door you entered.

John is still in the band and after the tragic Station fire the group would post a floor plan of each venue on their website. He states how important it is to make note of an exit.

I also learned something yesterday that struck a similar chord.

A family that I knew in Kuala Lumpur was recently on a holiday in Yangon, Myanmar. Yes, the perks of living in Asia.

Seems that on October 19th they were asleep in their lovely, colonial era hotel only to be wakened around 3:00am by banging noises. Sounded like people yelling and pounding on doors. But the family couldn’t understand what they were saying. Maybe drunken revelry? Terrorism?

They tried the front desk. No one answering. Finally someone picked up and told them to evacuate immediately due to a fire in the hotel.

The two teen daughters left first and then the parents a few minutes later. The mom was sort of freaked about the separation but they were soon reunited and safe.

Police were shoving people aside and trying to evacuate but there was no clear communication, very disorganized and pitch black.

I want to just note here that this luxurious, teak and iconic hotel was considered a 5 Star property.  So it doesn’t really matter where you stay. The rules for your personal safety should always be the same. Regardless of the price tag. Or tag line.

Her advice?

“Don’t take for granted emergency exit information.”

She stressed the importance of staying together. Checking to see if there is a fire alarm and sprinkler in hotel room. Having a plan to meet up if separated. The importance of being close to your family and knowing where they are at all times.

This is the time of year when a plethora of seasonal activities will beckon. Many will welcome the opportunity for indoor, festive gatherings surrounded by loads of people. Seeing the Nutcracker, Christmas musicals, plays, concerts, sporting events and attending worship services.

Some will travel and spend time in hotels. Or pass through airports.

All happy as larks to be in places with closed doors keeping out the cold or staving off the heat.

Have fun but take note of exit signs immediately upon entering. Communicate a place to meet with family members if case you ever get separated. Don’t take for granted emergency exit information. Do your homework. And remember you do not need to leave from the same door you entered. Ever.

Wishing you and all of your families a safe holiday season. Hoping you employ these safety measures all year long. Some superstitions should absolutely be left at the door.

Update: My cousin, John, told me that he was actually supposed to be at the Station the evening of the fire. He did not attend because he didn’t want to be the “third wheel.” But a few folks thought he was there. Including his fire chief.

 

 

Read Full Post »

A friend used to joke, “I’m like marble. I don’t want to be taken for granite.”

So goofy.

It’s true though. No one wants to be taken for granted.

But most of us do take people and things for granted at times. We just don’t think about it on a daily basis. Until we don’t have them.

Last Spring, my neighborhood in Kuala Lumpur lost internet connection for the entire day. Thank Jesus for the fancy iPhones so everyone could whine about it in group chats.

Wait, don’t folks around the world lose water, electricity and more every single day? If they even ever had access to them at all.

Luckily, I was out running errands. So the internet outage didn’t totally destroy me. And I had my phone 🙂

One of the errands was dropping off a carload of donations to a housing complex where many refugees live. It made me realize the clothes and household items we can sometimes take for granted.

That afternoon, I went with my then 12th grade daughter to school for her last day as president of a club she started three years ago.

This club allowed refugee students from a nearby volunteer run school to be bussed to her campus so they could play games, use the sports facilities, etc. It made be conscious of how something like a simple school campus can be taken for granted.

I was watching these lovely young girls and boys playing basketball and cheering for each other. Kids from Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, Iran and Afghanistan.

So many children displaced from so many countries around the world. Due to war and violence. A stark reminder that we can take our security for granted.

As my daughter was saying goodbye to her refugee friends they told her, “We will miss you.”

One young girl told her, “You’re so lucky you can go to college.”

Okay, wow. My daughter never really looked at it like that. It was taken for granted that there would be the opportunity for her to attend college.

Now this is totally human. We don’t tend to think about these things-these absolute gifts- all the time. Or think about the people-these absolute gifts in our lives- all the time. It’s really not sustainable to constantly be in a state of such focus.

But we should take more time to realize who and what we might be taking for granted. We absolutely should take more time to be mindful and appreciative of the gifts, comforts and blessings bestowed upon us. Communicate love and gratefulness.

We do plenty of things without giving them a single thought like…….

Hopping into the hot shower. Snuggling under the warm blanket with spouse, kid or pet. Turning on the tap and expectantly hold a glass under it. Waking up feeling fit and energetic. Flicking on the light. Cracking open the fridge. Pursing our lips for the perfunctory kiss at the front door. Saying the rote “I love you.” Opening the wallet. Closing the car door with the habitual thank you response.

Until we no longer have or we are faced with no longer having…..

Hot water. The warm cover over our bodies. The spouse, kid or pet no longer there. The surety that water will flow into the glass. Good health. The person at the front door. Electricity. The loved one on the other end of the telephone line. Money. The beloved parent in the car dropping you off one more time.

I wish all of you who are celebrating Thanksgiving a wonderful visit with family and friends. Enjoy and appreciate this special day. A perfect time to remember that the gifts, comforts and blessings in our lives should be like marble and not taken for granted.

To those who are not celebrating the holiday I wish you the same. A day of giving thanks.

One last thing. I’m very thankful for you all.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »