Archive for the ‘Why?’ Category

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.


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.


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


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.


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.









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There is a ten year anniversary coming up in the next week.

Not a happy one.

It was ten years ago that a school friend of my eldest daughter lost her life in an accident. Veronica was fourteen at the time. She held on for awhile but finally succumbed to her injuries on October 20th.

Her mother asked me in a message the other day, “Does it seem longer than ten years or shorter? Or both?”

So hard to answer. Ten years seems like such a long time ago for me. A lot has happened since that time. I moved from Dallas to California. And then overseas to Malaysia. My eldest, who was Veronica’s friend, graduated from university. I lost a parent.

Life went on and just happened.

And yet I can remember the day of the accident like it was yesterday. It was a beautiful autumn afternoon.

I’ve always been one for denial. When my daughter told me that Veronica had been in an accident I asked, “How do you know?”

She said, “Some of the football kids who were at Sonic came back and said it.”

I said, “Well, we don’t know for sure.”

Then we passed by the site and her yellow backpack was sitting there in the street while the rescue and police were securing the area.

Felt like I could vomit.

I didn’t know Veronica’s mom except for a community service project at the parish, communication about cross country car pooling and a confirmation of a birthday party.

But I did vow that I would not be one to drop off a casserole and just forget about them.

Can good things come out of bad? I guess her mom would have to answer that.

I remember, after we got word of Veronica’s death, thinking that I needed to make that call. Also thinking it would be the worst thing ever. How selfish of me.

Talking to my husband who was away at the time I said, “I can’t call her.”

He said,” You have to….”

I replied, “I know I have to but…”

He told me, “Call her tomorrow.”

I said, “I will.”

And then I paced and paced. Smoked a bunch of cigarettes. Went into my bedroom, locked the door and picked up the phone to dial. Shaking like a leaf on a tree. Knew I wouldn’t sleep if I didn’t call that very night.

Veronica’s mom picked up the phone. When she heard from me she said, “Oh, Mary, I am so glad you called. Your family is one I had hoped I would get to know better.”

We had some things in common. Being on our own in Texas while husbands were working in the Northeast. Cross country girls. Same parish.

A few days later Monsignor called me to say that the family wanted me and another mom to be the speakers at Veronica’s service. I agreed and it was one of the few times I actually felt God’s presence with me. I honestly did not think I could do it but I felt like God was just sitting on my shoulder.

This posting is getting a little long.

Veronica’s mother amazed me in so many ways. When she needed help she knew it and asked for it. And she never wanted to be known just as the mother of the child who died.

When she knew the yard needed raking she said it. And all the cross country kids came out and raked away and bagged up the leaves.

When the thought of taking down Xmas decorations was overwhelming she called me.

When she needed help cleaning the house she let me know. And we got it done. Laughing and crying.

She and her eldest came to my house for dinner and we went to hers. Went to movies and dinner. Had a celebration of life with balloons soaring into the air for Veronica’s birthday.

I guess my posting today is to remember a sweet girl who will forever remain a fourteen year old child to us. Even if ten years have passed.

But it is also a testament to the strength of her mother.

And it is also a reminder to not take even one single day for granted.

A beautiful autumn day or a muggy day.

Seems like a long time ago. Seems like yesterday. Seems like both.

RIP Veronica Grace Sheer






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I was watching a program a few days ago. It’s called “The Fall” and it is set in Belfast. I think it’s fab.

In one scene, the head of the police investigation said, “Always look up at a crime scene.”

I thought that was interesting because I always look up-crime scene or not. In admiration of the architecture on a soaring skyscraper. Or the clouds in the sky. Or the moon. So many reasons to look up.

I’ve even told my kids, “Don’t forget to look up!”

Here in Kuala Lumpur I am constantly looking up at the astonishing number of buildings being erected.

I usually follow with, “Where are they going to find all these people to live and work in these buildings?? Especially in this economy.”

And when I’m driving in the city, where there are loads of construction sites near popular malls and restaurants, I look up and think, “Uh oh! I hope that crane/machine doesn’t come too close to me!”

Last week a young woman was sitting in her car during typical rush hour traffic on a city street called Jalan Raja Chulan.  Near the Pavilion Mall. Not moving because of the usual congestion. She was coming from her office.

Maybe she would go home and vent to her family about the traffic. Like we all might.

But she was not afforded that opportunity. Because a part of a crane (the hook) fell on her car and killed her instantly. She was twenty three years old. The hook weighed almost a ton. She never had a chance.

Apparently the crane operator fled the scene. He could be one of the many foreign workers from Bangladesh, Indonesia, etc. Nothing would get built in this city without them. Maybe he ran because he was undocumented. I really don’t know.

Who knows?

What I do know is that this tragedy should never have happened. I really do hope that there will be a full and real investigation that takes place. That someone takes responsibility for the death of this young woman who was just beginning her life.

There are plenty of “Safety” signs all over the city. But safety procedures actually have to be in place and adhered to in order to be effective. Workers must be skilled.

There are currently six hundred construction sites. That’s worrisome.

Because even if you look up there might not be a darn thing you can do about it.






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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.

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Well, I certainly neglected this blog during the summer! So sorry!

But I did have a lovely time with friends and family.

Wasn’t all skittles and beer, of course. Life isn’t really like that.

Clearing out and packing up my beloved Dad’s clothing and other belongings. Accompanying Mom to pick out Dad’s headstone. And other things that needed tending.

But it was fine. It all got done. I just didn’t post those things on Facebook.

One morning, I was getting my first cup of coffee and Mom said, “When you get a chance have a look at this obituary.”

I said, “Sure.”

And grabbed the newspaper for a quick look.

I read it and said to her, “What on earth is that? I don’t even understand it.”

She was like, “I know, right? It’s the oddest obituary I have ever read.”


My first thought was, “Why?”

Second thought was, “Why didn’t they call me? I could have done such a better job.”

Third thought was, “Oh my goodness, this had to have cost them between $800.00-$1,200!”

My Dad died in March and I know how much it cost to put his simple obituary in this same newspaper.

The minute I started reading it and saw “passed away due to a physical illness” I thought it was a bit off.

Anyway, it bothered me. I am not sure why but I kept thinking, “Is there no other way to publicly send off your loved one?”

They could have addressed his challenges- if they felt the need-in a very different way. And how’s this for a novel idea? Maybe cull some of his good? If it was all bad why even spend the money? For a possible few to be saved by Jesus? Take the money spent for the obituary and donate it directly to a cause that will help others.

I just don’t get it.

Maybe I am being a bit harsh or judgmental. I don’t know what this family’s life was like but I do know many families who have lost people who had challenges or who constantly challenged their families. And most of them focused on the good when their loved one’s life ended. The positive bits before or after the hardships.

That’s usually how it’s done.

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I have enjoyed my summer. Make no mistake about that. But I also realize I am one of the fortunate ones. Not all have had this luxury.

That is not to say I am not thinking about Syria and the atrocities committed there every single day. I have enough direct family connections enough to feel the pain on a daily basis.

A lot of my free time here in Malaysia consists of helping refugees from that part of the world. It’s not all lunching with the ladies. It’s not always all about me.

Most of these refugees are a result of the Syrian conflict. Mostly Syrians, Iraqis and Palestinians. Some displaced two or three times in their lives.

We now have the battle of Gaza. Yes, it could be one of my “blue-eyed” children visiting there that gets caught in the crossfire.

But there are many children that are not visiting and actually live there.

I had a Facebook friend who actually referred to those innocents as collateral damage.

Okay, I hardly ever swear. You can review my posts as proof. And only my closest friends have heard me utter profanity.

I say, “Two words!”

It’s the same people who value human life that are willing to give up those “others” for the greater cause.

Again I say, “Two words!”

I don’t think every Israeli soldier or Israeli person is bad. Nor do I think every American soldier or American citizen is bad. Or British soldier or citizen. Or Palestinian.

But the governments? I have issues with every single one.

I just read a book that mentioned how groups of people who sleep together end up breathing in sync during the night-time hours. Maybe similar to women in close quarters cycling monthly together.

Because our bodies know we are all the same.  It’s our stupid ass minds that forget this.

Now I am back in Malaysia and find out this evening, at a neighbor’s house , that one of the “new” families that we would be welcoming (I am on the welcoming committee) has been killed in the latest Malaysian Airline crash. Downed by some folks who do not value life.

And leave the bodies and belongings to be looted and fester in the sun.

This is the note from the school.

This weekend it was confirmed that a new ISKL family was aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. Returning to their home country of Malaysia after having lived in Kazakhstan, the Tambi Jiee family of six lost their lives in the crash. A son, Afzal Tambi, was going to be a grade 12 student at ISKL beginning in August.

At Afzal’s previous school in Atyrau, Kazakhstan, Afzal was the President of the Environmental Club, the editor of the yearbook, a member of the Student Council, and a member of the Java Programming Club. He was described as respectful, responsible, and one who would make a positive contribution to his next school. He sounds like a delightful young man whose life, along with his parents and three other siblings, were all tragically cut short.

Our sincerest condolences are extended to their family and friends.



Oh God, I am angry. So angry.

When I was a little girl I believed that if I was good and prayed for the rest of the world that it could make some difference.

Oh God, I am angry. So angry.


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Every day I read about the increasing gun violence in America. It truly amazes me that these shootings take place on a daily basis. Gosh, when is it enough?

When I worked in Dallas there was a guy named Don. Worked in the mailroom and then was promoted to management. Can’t remember if it was a temporary position. It was a time of growth in this particular office and we were filling spots everywhere.

Don would poke his head in my office and say good morning with a huge smile. Some folks thought he was sucking up to management. I didn’t care. Would rather have someone making an effort to stop and be friendly. More flies with honey than vinegar as the saying goes.

On cold days he would sometimes laugh and say he thought of me on the way to work. Because he once heard me kvetching about companies on the main road that did not turn off their automatic water sprinklers. In cold, RAINY weather! It was like a death slide into work.

Anyway, it is always nice to hear that you will forever be associated with automatic sprinklers.

Don’s wife worked in the office as a customer service representative. His son was also employed by the company.

The marriage went south. He and his wife split up. Not sure why. But it happens.

He kept company with one of our female employees. And I heard rumors that he also kept company with a crack pipe. Not sure when exactly these two things came into play. But rumors were rampant in an office that size so I didn’t pay too much attention.

So who knows what came first? The chicken or the crack pipe?

What I do know is this. One October morning in 1997 a group of us were heading to the Texas State Fair for the day. Under the guise of team building.

But before we left the office that morning we learned that Don was dead.

The girl he had been spending time with shot him. More than once. She then turned the gun on herself. Ending her life also. That’s what was reported to us. I suppose based on blood splattered walls and who was left with the smoking gun in hand.


I had no idea that this young woman carried a gun in her purse. And I heard, after this horrible thing, that she had. Quite frankly, the thought wouldn’t have even occurred to me back then.

My job in Dallas was managing attendance and disability. And many times disciplining and terminating employees who showed no improvement.

This gal with the gun was not assigned to me. She reported to my friend, Kim, who was in the office right next door to me. They met on more than one occasion. Kim might have even fired her. My memory fails me there.

But what  has never left my memory is the image of an unstable, young blond girl sitting in my friend’s office with a loaded handgun concealed in her purse.

What bothers me still?

Same thing.

Schools, homes, offices, movie theaters, post offices, churches, malls, and routine traffic stops.

So many unsafe places in America. And so many triggers.







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