For You, Daddy!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Twoo Hoo!





Two years ago this month, I published my first post*.









This image is from

This image is from


This picture up here expresses more than

feeling a sense of accomplishment.

There’s a bit of surprise, too. 




As in, I’m surprised, and very pleasantly so I must add, that I even began blogging! It was not part of the plan years and years ago. Here, let me share what I thought of blogging all those years ago.




In 2008, I upped from China, my last pit stop away from home, and headed back home to be with Mum after Daddy had died. Shortly before I left China, I wrote a series of newsletters to my personal contacts and called it the Made in China series.




The first of the six in that series was titled Made in China: The Prologue. In this, I answered questions most frequently asked by my friends and relatives. Here’s Question Number 15 (I know! They’re a nosy lot! 😉 ) and my reply:  




Personal Contacts: 15. Why don’t you blog?




Me: Being the lazy broad that I am, below, I’ll copy one of my earliest personal responses to this increasingly frequently asked query. In early 2006, I wrote this to my friend who I shall call John Doe:



John Doe, I cannot blog. I just can’t. Put myself on the world stage. Ack!

Extreme shyness (not self consciousness, mind you) apart, I am who I am with people I know, and I’m a very different person around those I don’t know. This split personality, if you will, spills into my writing as well. I simply do not like my views being read by people I don’t know. I think it’s because I feel as if readers who do not know me will get gypped if they are exposed to a mere sliver of myself; a sliver I could very well doctor to come across as [positive personal trait]. We all know that I’m not just [positive personal traits] alone now, don’t we? Hee hee!    




You and almost everyone I know tell me I write well. Thank you; that’s lovely to hear. But you know, a big part of my penning stems from the fact that I can freely express my views to all of you because you know who I am and what I’m about i.e. my great and grungy sides. And you (all) accept me with all that.




I bare my soul in my e-mails and newsletters; be it about things I like, things that get me riled up or things that make me well up. For all that bravado in my mail to all of you, I’m very reserved around strangers or lesser known people. I’m secretive almost of my true feelings with those people, even if they (i.e. the feelings) are not controversial.




With people I don’t know, I can talk about superficial stuff *snapping fingers* easily! And I’m very good at phatic communication. But it’s not something I’m comfortable with. It’s not something I enjoy. In fact, I hate having that game face on. I do it enough in public places on a daily basis and when I’m travelling. There are times I deliberately make myself a supercilious git when speaking to new people, mainly to see how well they handle the offbeat side of me. 




I like writing. I enjoy it very much, but I don’t want my quirk to cramp my writing style. Oh, I do write on two public fora – a travel related one and a teaching one – under aliases. Duh.




I have gleaned a lot of helpful information from both those sites, and my way of giving back is sharing my experiences with others; yes, complete strangers. But on those two fora, I stick to the point when responding to queries and I’m fairly muted when expressing my opinion. I try to remain as neutral as possible, while staying true to how I really feel about whatever it is that I’m writing about.



Sometime last month, I read about websites where people can send their articles about, oh, anything, and they get paid for it. I am blessed that money has never been, and is still not, an incentive for me to write. If I were to take up something like that or even have a blog for that matter, I think I’d feel pressured to write regularly, pen profound persuasions or wax philosophical.



With my e-mails, it’s not like that. I blab about what’s on my mind, throw in a few personal anecdotes and opine vociferously. You know? It’s just like I talk to (any of) you. I spend much more time writing (personal) e-mails to people I know. Communicating with all of you this way makes me very, very happy. 🙂





And that, dear e-buddies, was what I thought of blogging back in early 2006. And for the mere fact that I am blogging now (and have been at it for the past two years), I’m glad that I haven’t been as stubborn as I can aggravatingly be about blogging(, too).



I got into this blogging game (it’s never too late, yo!) for the same reasons* I have always written my lengthy personal e-mails, newsletters and contributed on some public fora (albeit always with an alias) i.e. to help someone with something I’ve learned or to make them laugh.



*Why and Why Now 



Before I began blogging and for a short while after I did, I was terribly anxious about privacy in a public domain (an oxymoron, I know), but not anymore. I am happy with the way I’ve maintained my privacy out here with those ugly Paintshop brush strokes across the eyes in images I share. Ugh, I know. You know that I also change the names of the people I write about.



This heard, not seen mode allows me to breathe easily and be myself here. Sure, I don’t share any of my problems with you because hey, what will my personal contacts do if I don’t give them, uh, the privilege the opportunity to worry about me and fuss over me, you know what I’m sayin’?  



So you, Silent Stalker; yes, you who’s contemplating blogging, but are plagued with concerns about privacy; I’m looking right at you. I’ve been in your I so want to, but I’m SO scared to shoes.



Do it.


Just start blogging.


You divulge as much or as little of yourself as you wish.


You choose the pace.



Two years ago, I started off posting fortnightly.  Then, at the beginning of this year, I switched to once a month*.



Reasons for the slowdown here:  

*A New Day Has Come



And nothing bad happened when I changed lanes.


Nothing bad has happened since I began blogging, for that matter.


Wait. Something did happen. Once. I can’t term it ‘bad’ though.



In a particular post, I had written about one of my personal practices. One commenter commented on the way I did a certain thing. This medium is not the best for communicatng, so I cannot say that the commenter meant to be judgmental. But I chose to feel judged by that commenter’s statement.



I know for a fact that I would have expressed the same sentiment very differently. But each person is different, I know, and each of us has our own unique way of getting our message across.



Hmm. Now that I think about it, I doubt I would have commented about something like that in the first place. To someone I know well? Yes. But I’d choose my words carefully so as to minimise the chance of my words negatively affecting the person in any way.



Because to me, different from me ≠ good or bad.

Different, to me, is *shrug* just different. Period.



But would I remark about something as that commenter did to me, even if worded nicely, to one of you or authors of other blogs I read? No. Simply because I do not know any of you at all.



Okay, not not at all; I do know something about my e-peeps.



I know a smidgen more than zilch about the people I hang out with online. 



So, what did I do then? About the comment that I was slightly taken aback with? Well, I approved that comment right away and I responded, too. I calmly explained my action that was judged commented on. 



And then, after I deliberated for a few days, I took this person’s blog off my RSS list.



I had RSSed this person’s blog because this person posted material that I liked. Actually, most of it was about things I am completely unfamiliar with …. which is exactly why I liked that person’s blog! I was learning new things!




When I have a choice, being comfortable in someone’s presence is of primary importance to me. So good material alone ain’t good enough for me to read someone’s blog regularly. The mode of delivery must be (my standard of) good, too.    



In real life, I do not like being around people who make me uncomfortable in any way. Oh, I am always open to all unsolicited criticism that comes my way because I know I have plenty of room for improvement in plenty of areas in my life. I also try hard to rise above the (perceived) criticising tones, look beyond the messenger and listen to the message.



But I grant very few people the privilege of being on the lookout for and pointing out my flaws. Usually, it’s only when I deem them worthy of correcting me.



It is very hard for me to gauge those of you I meet online. Your words are all I have. And in my experience, your words are enough to get a general idea of your personalities.



So when an online acquaintance ruffles my feathers in some way, they meet the same fate as most of the same ilk in the flesh – no second chance.



There, that one commenter who I chose to believe was unduly critical of me; that was the sole bantam blip in my brief bloggy being. Other than that easily ignored bit, these have been far from terrible two years for me.



The rest of my time here has been the exact opposite. People I’ve met here on my blog, and elsewhere via my blog, have been nice, all nice and nothing but nice since I began blogging. 🙂  




This image is from

This image is from

This is how I see all of us together.

This is how I feel when I’m out here –

happy to be with all of you. 🙂




So go on; O Sceptical One, give blogging a shot.



Everyone has something important to share




Everyone has something important to learn.





You matter.












Thank you,  Julian Sherman,  Marissa Riback,  Project Light to Life and Gotta Find a Home, for signing up to follow my posts.


Thank you, The Ranting ChefMisslisted, You’ve Been Hooked!  and FLOWERSBLOOMS by “Elvie”, for commenting on my last post. 

Thank you, The Ranting Chef, Work Less Live More, Brandye Dague,  Misslisted, You’ve Been Hooked!  and FLOWERSBLOOMS by “Elvie”, for liking my last post. 





P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.


I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat!  






Sunday, 1 September 2013

Age Is Just A Number


This image is from




And for Mum, that word is ‘blessed’.



Mum believes that she is blessed from the time she wakes up each morning to the time she retires to bed at night.



I think, we, her brood, are blessed to still have Mum with us.



Mum celebrated her birthday last month.




Ain’t THAT sweet!

In keeping with tradition, we began Mum’s special day at Mass in our chapel.

Mum outside the chapel after Mass.
Ginger Snaps, the chapel kitty, is behind Mum’s right hand. Yup, I named G-Snaps. 🙂




Tradition continued with breakfast at this restaurant that my parents visited even before I was born.




L—>R: Sis-in-law, Mum, Big Sis, me.




On her birthday, Mum gets a lot phone calls and of drop in visitors during the day. That leaves her exhausted at the end of the day. When I returned to the nest five years ago, that first year, I noticed how washed out Mum was just when her celebrations were set to kick into high gear with dinner. The very next year, I began a new tradition.



A sit down dinner with the immediate family on Mum’s birthday itself.




The family that eats together ….




The formal dinner for relatives and friends is later in the year when everyone is back in town. (Mum’s birthday falls on a national holiday during the holiday period.)



At first, there were a few murmurs about the celebration being months after her birthday. Meh, used to ‘em murmurs. My concern is Mum.



I want Mum to be happy having people important to her to celebrate yet another year with us


I want Mum to have the energy to do so.



So having the dinner on a Saturday night during the non-holiday period and when she gets to rest earlier in the day, was the solution.



As with some of my other “madness”, this ‘tradition’, too, caught on with a few other people we know. 🙂



Oh no. You know. This post is lame. And you also know why.



So are you jealous? Of all the fun I began having three weeks ago? Preparing for the renovations in our foyer, living room and dining room that will begin in two weeks?



I’m pumped! For Mum’s sake.



Daddy got a stroke in 1990. Our home has not had any touches, none, unless they were absolutely necessary, from the time Daddy got the stroke to the time he passed away 16 ½ years later in 2006. Mum refused to let herself get distracted with trivial issues like maintaining the pretty home she was known for or even getting modern appliances. (Look again at the photograph of our dining room above.)



Since Mum lived alone (with the house help; no family) until I returned, she did not attempt anything on her own either after Daddy passed away. Completely understandable.



Two years ago, before I began this blog, I got the kitchen and Mum’s master bath ripped apart. Mum was delighted to have a gleaming new space with more practical and convenient amenities. Now that she has recovered nicely from that upheaval, it’s time for the three front rooms of our home.



Oh, our home is 182 years …. young, so there’s a little bit of emotional upheaval, too, for all of us.



Now for messages to you, my regular commenters, The Hook and Elvie Rose, since I’ve been silent on your blogs for the past month nearly. Really? Yikes! Time sure flies when I’m having fun! 😉



Hook blogs at


You’ve Been Hooked!




The Book of Terrible



Hook, I’ve not said peep for a while now, but I’m still stalking ya! I read your posts, look to make sure that all is quiet on the Western front, heave a sigh of relief for all of you and go about my scurrying way.



Elvie blogs at





Elvie, I’m very pleased with all the fun you’re having with your new toy oven. 🙂



When I read this line from one of your recent posts:

>This week the Philippines once again experienced the wrath of “Habagat” (Southwest monsoon). Manila and most parts of Luzon submerged in water due to heavy rains.

>Rescuers pulling a rubber boat in Las Pinas City. Filipino Bayanihan spirit in action.  Bayanihan refers to a spirit of communal unity and cooperation

– I knew exactly what you meant by ‘bayanihan’, Elvie!



During my time in Saudi Arabia, my Filipina friend, Fleur, and her group of friends warmly embraced me as one of theirs. One of the many nice things that struck me about the Filipino community was your ‘bayanihan’. I was blessed to be part of that community during my years in Aramco.



And now back to y’all.



Thank you all for bearing with my rather flat post, but look, it’s short, innit? Hooray perhaps?





Thank you, Tash Thomas and Equatours, for signing up to follow my posts.


Thank you, You’ve Been Hooked!  and FLOWERSBLOOMS by “Elvie”, for commenting on my last post.


Thank you, You’ve Been Hooked!, Equatours, FLOWERSBLOOMS by “Elvie” and LEAF AND TWIG, for liking my last post.




 P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.


I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat!  

Friday, 1 February 2013

Love Is All Around Me



It is Valentine’s Day later this month. I am single, and I am not cynical about that crazy little thing called love.



Below, I will share excerpts of my correspondence from last year with two friends – BFF Two and Tina, and I will conclude with an excerpt from a newsletter I sent out (to my personal contacts) two years ago. My views on Valentine’s Day mentioned in all the excerpts, remain steadfast. Like true love. 🙂



This first excerpt is between BFF Two in China and myself two years ago.  





 BFF Two and me, trying to figure out how to get the grapes on the trellis above us.        Turpan, Xinjiang Province, PRC.

BFF Two and me, trying to figure out how to get the grapes on the trellis above us. Turpan, Xinjiang Province, PRC.




BFF Two’s text is in her favourite lilac (or the closest I can get to it) and my text in brown.





SUBJECT: Happy V-Day!



Or as you used to call it – ‘Singles Day’. Ha ha! To us, single people, cheers for having the strength to listen to our inner voice, for not compromising on what’s important to us and for remaining single by choice. And for our ability to be happy for those who experience romantic love.



Nothing decided yet for today. I asked Jake* if he’d like to go out. Don’t know yet if his schedule will permit it.



*Jake is my friend. He is a Human Rights lawyer (sigh!) with an international organisation, and therefore, has to travel overseas … a little too often for my liking. >< Boyfriend? Nope. Jake is gay. 



Later this evening, I will get chocolate pastries for Mum and Papa Saluzinho**.



**Papa Saluzinho and his family live directly across my home. I like all of them very much. Papa Saluzinho is 69, lost his vision completely 10 years ago, lost his wife, Mama Amalia, 3 years ago and their only daughter, Eva, 6 years ago. Eva was 31 and died in an accident. I drop in at Papa Saluzinho’s for a chat every day. The handful of times I’ve gone more than three days in a row without making a nuisance of myself visiting him, he’s got his son to e-mail me a reminder ….  from across the street! Aww.



Papa Saluzinho has a great sense of humour. His only son, Dave, takes care of him now. I call him Papa and (used to call) his wife Mama because growing up, I heard Dave and Eva call them that. That’s how I think of them, too.



Enjoy your day, BFF Two. One day, one sweet day, it will happen for you and me. Until then, be proud of your single status. I’m proud to count you as my friend.






The Caco-phony

BFF Two (fake) jamming with Dave and creating a hair-raising ruckus with Dave’s one-time Hallowe’en wig.




Dear Kate,


I logged on to write to you and wish you ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’. And there was your mail!



Yeah, our inner voices are very strong. I think most of the people must be wondering why those two bloody women (you and I) are still so happy, possibly even happier than some of them, even though we don’t have boyfriends. Ha ha!



We are happy even without boyfriends because we have not settled for just any boy to keep society happy. We are blessed that we don’t have any pressure from our closest family members and closest friends. I know many people tell us that we are too strict with our criteria for a boyfriend, but really, Kate, like you, I just cannot think of compromising on things that are important to me. We make choices that don’t have to include men as romantic partners and we have learned that life as single persons is no less enjoyable. Cheers to us!! 



But I also wish that people in love with a partner enjoy Valentine’s Day today.



So you and Jake are going out today? Cool! Is his boyfriend out of town again? Good for you! 😉 



Chocolate surprises for Mum and Papa Saluzinho. Cool, Kate! Give them both and Dave a hug for me. 🙂  



I am proud of being single and I am proud to count you as my friend, too, Kate. Enjoy your day, too.


BFF Two 





The next excerpt is with my friend in Toronto, who I call Tinamisu and a few other nicknames. Her name’s Tina, she’s of Italian origin and I like her as much as I like TiRamisu. She’s just so good natured with my um, name calling.





Tinsicle Takes On Tuscany




This exchange was during this recently past Christmas week. Tinamisu’s text in her favourite blue and mine in brown.



Me: I am happy to be home for Christmas this year, Te-yo. Not just because I have my nearest and dearest ones around me. It also means someone else not-necessarily-near, but just-as-dear isn’t struggling alone somewhere because guess where I would be otherwise? I am so very grateful that Mum and the rest of my immediate family understand that I have to ditch them at special times like this because I simply cannot wish everyone ‘Merry Christmas’ when I know that someone I care about is alone and sad at this time of the year.  




My Pepper and Latte

Some of my near and dear, um, wear fur! 🙂




Tinamisu: Just wanted to say I’m really happy that you got to be home this year for Christmas, Kate! I know very well that family, tradition, helping others and of course, food* are very important to you.  And when you can enjoy all of these in one place, all the better!



Me: You betcha, T-Ice! If I could have my way, I’d make sure we all live together in one big, beautiful place. We already do? It’s called Planet Earth? Oh. 😉 



*Have you noticed that T-Not-a-pain included ‘food’ up there in the list of things that are important to me? Will talk about this, um, other love of mine in my next post.   





This last excerpt is from my newsletter to my personal e-mail contacts on Valentine’s Day two years ago.



The Subject of that newsletter (via e-mail) was the same at the title of this post – Love Is All Around Me.



In that newsletter, I shared stories and photographs of some of the people (geographically and emotionally) closest to me:


Papa Saluzinho

My 5-year old neighbour, Cahill

My favourite in-state cousin, Henry


Mum’s (now) 92-year old bestie, Auntie Alicia  




90 Not Out

Auntie Alicia’s 90th Birthday Dinner

On the left:  Auntie Alicia with her granddaughter

On the right:  My folks

In all our excitement, we i.e. my family, forgot to take a photograph with Auntie Alicia that night, so I merged two shots (above) and sent it as part of my newsletter.





This was the conclusion of that newsletter. True to style, it’s a long winding road to the end. 🙂





So there. Those are some of the people who put a smile on my face every time we meet, and who I am completely myself with because, like you all, they accept me for who I am, dazzling personality hideous warts and all. 



I deliberately chose to send this edition out today i.e. Valentine’s Day because it’s about some of the important people in my life. Also, I’m not a cynic about my single status; therefore, I do not scoff at all the pink and red hued stuff around me. I also do not delude myself by wishing my other single friends, “Happy Singles Day!” or some such thing that has caught on recently. Want to celebrate your single-ness? Get yourselves your own day, I say; do not hijack this one. Hoping to go there and do that*, I am happy for those blessed to have a spouse or significant other.



*Note to self: Please make sure you do not marry an adrenaline junkie like James Franco’s character in ‘127 Hours‘.  Sitting in your seat, you barely survived watching that part and that other part. Whew!



Changing gears.



I thought of all of you when I read this recently. This applies not just to the people I’ve talked about in this newsletter or the ones who live here in my city, state or in the country, but also to all of you, my dear kith and kin scattered around this big, wide world:  



Heart Song

This image is from






Each one of you contributes to the song that is my life. From some, I get the chorus, from some a verse, some a line and a few contribute a (musical) note, but every single one of you is vital. Thank you for filling my life with music. 




Heart Beat

This image is from






And you, dear e-Friends, provide infrequent, but regular beats to the song of my life. Thank you.



Love is all around me,

And so the feeling grows.



I, um, borrowed the title of this post and the two lines above from the following song:






::  ::   ::   ::  ::  ::  ::     BLOG BUDDY BIRTHDAYS  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::   ::   :: 


I hope I’m not ruining surprises for anyone with these very early wishes to two of my blog buddies.



1.  At first, I found a nice Canadian style wish, but I did not get a response from the blogger whose site that personal photograph is on. Then I saw this one.


Happy Birthday, Hook!

This image is from



I do not know what you look like and I do not know if there’s any truth to the statement, but I do know that you are a good sport (and a great husband, father, son and son-in-law!)


This year, with your book, ‘The Bellman Chronicles’ (, and with whatever else your heart desires, I hope you get things that are important, not urgent. What does that mean? Buried in the following article is what I’m on about. Not exactly what those words mean in the article, but for your life in general.


How to master your time


Oh, since you like lists, here’s one; especially for your birthday.


The 35 Dumbest Things Ever Said On The Internet


You’re welcome! 😉

Oh, and Happy  Birthday, Hook!! I hope you have as lovely a day as is possible on the 25th!




2. None of the, um, fun things in this picture come to mind when I think of you.


MJ's Birthday Wish

This image is from



Which is EXACTLY why I chose it for you! Ha ha!


It’s been a while since I enjoyed your posts at, but I know that that silence is for a very good reason. I’m also happy that your extended family and new(ish) co-workers are now enjoying your warmth and humour in person. I hope you and YLB (and Duke, of course!) are doing well in Nebraska. 


Breithlá  shona duit, MJ! May your Irish eyes keep smiling all day long on the 28th!


Thank you, A Clown on Fire,  for signing up to follow my posts.


Thank you, You’ve Been Hooked!, for commenting on my last post.


Thank you, You’ve Been Hooked! and Moolta, for liking my last post.


P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.

 I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat! 






Saturday, 15 December 2012


Filed under: Blogging,Celebration,Giving,Personal Beliefs — by For you, Daddy! @ 4:30 am
Tags: , , , ,



It’s that time of the year again when I take stock of my doings and undoings and mis-doings.



I have two lists specifically that I work on at this time. I call those lists ‘Diamond’ and ‘Coal’.



Coal is about the ‘bad’ things that were lumped my way this year. But those things are never bad entirely, because coal can turn into diamond. So one way or another, I’m wiser.  



Diamond is about all the precious things that were heaped upon me this year. Some rough, some sparkly, some well-cut, some odd shaped, but all of extremely high value.



The Coal list gets done with pretty quickly, so I get that out of the way first. And then I savour prancing around like Richie Rich with his diamond studded toys.  



Among the many things I am thankful for this year is



No, he won't hurt you.



Yes, YOU reading this right now.


(Bestie Boy burning up the floor with one of his classic moves.)



YOU have given me the all important impetus to keep this blog going since I began 13 months ago. If my Stats chart was white all the time, I would have given up writing here a while back. But I get white columns twice a month or so.



I’m happy with blue columns that reach for the top margin, I’m happy with blue columns that hover around the bottom margin and I’m happy when I get white columns*as well. Those white columns give me a fresh lease on my rather relaxed approach towards my blog.



*Non-Wordpress bloggers, blue columns correspond to the number of visitors to the blog i.e. y-axis on a particular day i.e. x-axis. The white column is really a blank column on the Stats chart; an indication of no visitors to the blog that particular day.  




The Stats chart in WordPress.



I am also very grateful that YOU allow me to maintain privacy with those ugly strips across the eyes. Avoiding the kind of attention I dislike is something I fight in real life. I’ve discovered I now have a reflexive aversion to most kinds of attention that come my way, until I feel safe or comfortable with the source. Here’s some more light on this matter.



This is an excerpt from my e-mail last year to a friend. 



I find it degrading that I garner attention primarily because of my matchstick body when I have so much more to offer as a person. Oh, I am very grateful that I get attention, even after so many spins around the sun. I’ve been blessed to never not get attention my entire life, so I don’t know what harmful measures I’d resort to if I were to crave attention. Still, I am human and it saddens me that people [guys especially 😦  ] do not see the non-physical side of me right away or even after a while.  



In some strange manner, covering my(/our) eyes makes me feel less noticed. For putting up with the (wholly inartistically) defaced photographs I (dare to) share, a special ‘Thank you’, dear readers.



So. Why all this gratitude towards YOU?



Because YOU – lovely peeps I do not know (personally) at all – make this blog happen.



Well, yes; I do all the writing. But how boring would my words be if I did not jazz up my somnolent soliloquy with a picture here or a quote there from YOU?



How would I have been thrilled had 13 among YOU not chosen to Follow my blog posts or subscribe to them?



How would I have felt that sudden, tiny surge of triumph and pride had YOU not Liked my posts?



How would I have been delighted to yammer away in response to practically every line had YOU not Commented?



I began this blog to merely share what I’ve learnt from and what I’ve laughed at in my own life. I wanted to share these in the hope that, just like I did via blogs of strangers I had read and stories I had heard in person; YOU, too, could learn without having to endure the uncomfortable side-effects of certain experiences, or to relish the fun of my lighter moments.



I have stayed on track with my blog


I could focus primarily on what I love i.e. writing


I did not have to fret about making my posts more visually appealing


YOU graciously permitted me to share material from your sites


YOU thrilled me when YOU






on my posts.

Oh, even when YOU visited and read silently. My Stats don’t lie, yo.  



For giving me the opportunity to bask in all those lovely feelings and for letting me enjoy the main reasons I began this blog, thank you, YOU. 🙂



But I’m not done.



You know how I like to brag, right? I also like the share the lurv



So here’s the Who’s Who behind making this blog one of my many bright spots this year.  There are four ‘categories’. They are



I. The Large Hearts

II. The Brave Hearts

III. The Make-Me-Chatter-Away-My-Heart(s)

IV. The Warm-My-Heart(s)



I will list every one of YOU in the following manner:



Your Website Name

Your Tag Line and/or Organisation

Your Website Address  


(A few names are repeated across ‘categories’.)




I. The Large Hearts AKA The Generous Lenders

I have been very lucky every time I’ve sought permission to “borrow” an image (primarily), a website or a quote. I have never been turned down by anyone. Had a few requests not answered at all, yes; kicked to the curb, no.



One thing that surprised me many a time, was how surprised people were that I made the effort to ask for permission to use some of their material when I could just, um, help myself. The blogosphere is a pretty big place, after all. But if I did do that, I’d be forgetting one of the many little lessons Daddy (and Mummy) taught me:



“Do not take someone else’s things without asking them first.” 



So, these are the lovely people who were generous with their material that I used in my posts since I began in November 2011.



This image is from

This image is from




Andrea Pascale

Word Decor ‘n More

I got my Gravatar image from Andrea. Daddy’s Girl is still lovin’ it!



Jean Browman

Cheerful Monk



Colin Gibson

Dunedin Methodist Parish



Van Wijnen



Sidney Snoeck

This is a photo blog about the Philippines.



Heidi McDonald
Creator and Website Manager
Unique Teaching Resources
“Engage Your Students in Learning!”




English Department of



Margo and Alan

DIY STRESS RELIEF everyday . living . better




Rocco’s Pop Revolution: Seen through the eyes of someone living it



Susan, John and Erin

Happy Life U



Bahar, Hadhoud, Rasha and Ahmed

Chapter Q8



Bill Hitchcock




II. The Brave Hearts AKA The Followers

I am a little possessive about my e-mail space and I do what I can to avoid waking up to a bulging Inbox every day. Not everyone has my phobia, it seems, because these people, by Following me, have chosen to let me invade that space with my posts that are hot off the press!



This group, Brave Hearts, also includes those of YOU who have RSSed my blog or Bookmarked me in some way.





Cheerful Monk



mj monaghan

A steeping cup of infotainment.



365 Veterans

Project 365/ honoring a Veteran a day, for a year.



Believe Anyway

Finding Ways to Be Optimistic Even During Trying Times




How Orples Came To Be, and other interesting stuff




Every single story has a beginning at its end.



Parashar’s Tales

Woman – Vulnerable, Strong, lover, hater  




MY WORLD IS A KALEIDOSCOPE OF COLOR! Paintings of my life’s journey, experiences, cherished memories, emotions, thought, ideas and other interesting stuffs.  



Girl Meets Bulgaria



domestic diva, M.D.   

my mother raised the perfect housewife…then I went to med school



Official Website of Alberto Monnar

Composer, Saxophonist, Pianist, Vocalist



JUMP FOR JOY! Photo Project

Showcasing the beauty of the human spirit — in mid-air — around the world




I am love. I am divine. I am grateful. I am bliss. I am here. I am Sufey.




III. The Make-Me-Chatter-Away-My-Heart(s) AKA The Commenters

Aww, you lot! YOU get me to do exactly what I was born to do love doing – blab blab blabbedy blab!




This image is from



I sincerely appreciate the time YOU take to think things over and type out those comments. It’s something I don’t do often on most of the blogs I read, but that’s a choice I make for a handful of reasons; the main one (which, I know full well, is also the most stupid one) being – EVERYONE will see me! (*rolling my eyes* … for you. 😉 ) So although I have things to say almost every time, I have to warm up to someone(‘s words) and THEN! Just ask the unfortunate ones below.




How Orples Came To Be, and other interesting stuff



mj monaghan

A steeping cup of infotainment.  



You’ve Been Hooked!   

Observations from the trenches….

The Hook’s got a book! It’s called ‘The Bellman Chronicles’. Deets on his blog.



Cheerful Monk




MY WORLD IS A KALEIDOSCOPE OF COLOR! Paintings of my life’s journey, experiences, cherished memories, emotions, thought, ideas and other interesting stuffs.



Parashar’s Tales

Woman – Vulnerable, Strong, lover, hater  




IV. The Warm-My-Heart(s) AKA The Like-rs

I like! I really, really like! I get royally chuffed when I see that YOU have Liked my post. It’s the simplest way to high five me.  




This image is from



But do I do that when I know I want to press a Like button on someone else’s post? Haven’t you been paying attention to my mewling? People will see me, um, People.



vikram roy’s blog

Free Thinking, Motivation, Poems, Art, Literature, Music, Love, & Oxygen: A Complete Blog



You’ve Been Hooked!   

Observations from the trenches….

Haff you checked out ‘The Bellman Chronicles’? Best place to start? Hook’s blog.



maze a day


Welcome to the #1 Featured Photographer Blog on the web!



mj monaghan

A steeping cup of infotainment.




How Orples Came To Be, and other interesting stuff



Bucket List Publications

Indulge – Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences







A forum for creative and analytic discussion of the text that surrounds us 



Rantings of an Amateur Chef

Food…cooking…eating….tools – What works, and what doesn’t!



“Ka-byahe ~ The Island of Your Imagination”

Robi assures you that through this blog, he will get you far than you imagined!






my zen city




Every single story has a beginning at its end.




Unique Art by RAY FERRER – Business or Residential








And that’s the end of one section of my ‘Diamond’ list for 2012. 




If you celebrate Christmas,


La Familia

My Family

To Yours,

Have a very merry one!



If you don’t celebrate Christmas,

May this time leading to end of the year

Be a cheery one!



 Cheer is a freebie!



And on that sparkling, frosted note,

My dear blings

(YOU’re on the ‘Diamond’ list, remember?),

‘Thank You’ very much


Your support and encouragement

in 2012.


See YOU All in the new year!



::   ::  ::   ::   ::  ::  ::  ::  ::     A SPECIAL HUG   ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::   ::   ::   ::   ::

I miss you, Marcy*. Every so often, I think of you, Magi, Oscar and Olivia, and everyone else I got acquainted with through your delightful narrations. I hope all of you are well. Please come back soon. Oh, and Dora** sends you the pip-pest of her squeaks. 🙂

*Marcy is The Orples’ – Olivia and Oscar – brain mama, as I call her. Because this lively pair of orange (the fruit)-people siblings were “born” in her mind. (

**Dora is my “pet” dormouse. Like me, Marcy is fond of animals and remembered my dormouse after I referred to her[(?) Dora] on Marcy’s blog a while earlier. Needless to say, I was chuffed that Marcy remembered me little, um, rodent.



Thank you, Sufey, for signing up to follow my posts.

Thank you, The Book of Terrible, for commenting on my last post.

Thank you, Urban Wall Art & Murals, The Vibe 101 and The Book of Terrible  for liking my last post.


P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.

 I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat! 




Sunday, 15 July 2012

Gossip Girl



Meet BFF Two AKA Gossip Girl.



This is my favourite photo of BFF Two. It captures her personality perfectly. Mostly smiling, enjoying simple moments and not afraid of being silly.


It is BFF Two’s birthday on the 20th of July, so this is my (unbeknownst) tribute to her.


BFF is one of Bestie Boy’s friends. I did not like her when I met her the first two times at Nameless Bar, the expat watering hole in the (Chinese) city I lived in. I thought she was what I call a typical “Chinese” girl. One who is unduly friendly with foreigners for the sake of our foreignness more than for who we are as individuals. 


The second time we met at Nameless Bar, I softened my stance towards her a little because I noticed she had snubbed Tomcat*. And Bestie Boy had reiterated that she was smart. So I agreed to meet her when she invited me to dinner a few months later.

*Tomcat is what I called my Other Foreign National, short time …whew ex-flattie in China, to his face. He was a good looking, charming lad in his late 20s with an insatiable appetite for women. I lived with him for 6 weeks and when I was offered my own flat as part of my promotion, I bolted. But alas, I was only 3 buildings down from the long arm of the law(less). Well, he was Tomcat and I was Bobcat. When hiss and spit didn’t work, my claws came out. Freak!


It took me nearly 6 months to believe that BFF Two was really a friendly person. I think it was because my first impression of her wasn’t favourable. I quickly discovered that BFF Two was smart, quick and efficient with any help I needed. Even when I didn’t need it.


For a long time, I refused to let her help me with simple stuff like enquiring about routes and fares for my trips. (It’s hard to find English speaking Chinese people in the service industry.) Once I allowed her to help and found out how good she was, I turned lazy and began making the most elementary requests.


“BFF Two, could you please pick up some dried medlar berries for me from the supermarket near you?”


“BFF Two, could you please check if they have dried Sharon fruit (persimmons) in the open market?”  


“BFF Two, could you book our appointment at the spa, please?”


And then I’d grumble that she had robbed me of my independence.  Ha ha!


I call BFF Two the Gossip Girl because many a times, our conversation would start with me excitedly saying, “BFF Two, I want to gossip!”


When I first told my family and friends about this nickname for BFF Two, they were all baulked. “But you don’t gossip, Kate?” Well, no … But YES!


I love to gossip. I gossip a lot. Rip the poor person’s rep to shreds. B#tch about them like I live in a glass house. And you know what? It feels good!


There’s just one little clause when I embark on this mission impugnable. The person I blab to must NOT know the target of my vicious words. Since BFF Two and I didn’t work together and didn’t have the same circle of friends, she became my ideal gossip partner.


This is something I’m particular about with my friends and co-workers. At every place I’ve worked at, I have found at least two other allies who belonged to the boring lot in the office. We never discussed our colleagues’ personal lives with the others at work or even amongst ourselves.


So if I gossiped, why did I call her Gossip Girl? Let’s just say BFF Two was a quick learner.


BFF Two and I have a favourite hobby in common. We like boy watching. Let me tell you a little story about our ‘hobby’.


One summer, BFF Two and I visited Xinjiang, the northwestern most province in China.


Heaven is a place on earth!

 This is Tianchi Lake in Xinjiang. Tianchi = Heavenly Lake.


When planning our trip to Xinjiang, one of the many things I briefed BFF Two about myself was my penchant for ogling at guys.


“Not the pretty boys; nothing in the head”, I sneered. “You can have those, BFF Two”, I added generously. We even devised a code for delicious sightings.


The first episode was on the very first day of our trip. (I work fast, don’t I?)


We were puttering around in our dorm having just landed Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. Our 2 American dorm mates came in for a bit.


As usual, I forced a perfunctory smile, said “Hi” and ignored them.


As usual, BFF Two smiled sweetly and began chatting with them. 


They left shortly to grab dinner or whatever. No sooner they left the room, I swerved to BFF Two and blurted, “I like the guy in the green tee.”


BFF Two, ignorant at that point of the meaninglessness of such words, got excited and said, “They’ve gone out for a short while. You can talk to him when he comes back soon.” 

(BFF Two’s favourite colour is lavender.)


That’s when BFF Two learned the most vital part of my manhunts.


“Are you mad? Why would I want to talk to him?”

“You said you like him!”

“I don’t even know him, BFF Two. And I don’t want to know him.”

“But, but, you, you..”

*rolled my eyes*


Thereafter, BFF Two never made that mistake again. So watch and drool only we did from that time on.


Guys, I really feel sorry for you lot. We, women, are a vexing species fo sho.


BFF Two visited my family a year and a half ago. She spent Christmas 2010 and New Year’s 2011 with us. 🙂


These are a few pictures of some of her happy times here.



Just arrived


BFF Two joined my family everywhere we went. This was her first visit to my country and I was very happy that she got to experience many new (and strange!) things.


At a relative’s silver wedding celebration.

                  Me                                    BFF Two                                        Big Sis



At a family friend’s wedding reception.


Like me, BFF Two loves dancing! After some initial shyness, she was relaxed enough to dance away. She loved the conga lines, The Birdie Dance and The Hokey Pokey.


BFF Two will be back next year to spend Christmas 2013 with us. Yaay!


Until then, the countdown has begun for Kate Spade Girl’s arrival for Christmas this year. 🙂


This image is from


Thank you,  The Book of TerribleCheerful Monk, and mj monaghan  for commenting on my last post.

Thank you, The Book of Terrible, for liking my last post.


P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.

 I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat! 


Sunday, 1 July 2012

Happy Birthday, Canada!




This image is from

I was not born in Canada. I was not raised in Canada. I grew up in Canada.

Now that you are sufficiently confused, let’s carry on.

I immigrated to Canada as an adult. I have lived there long enough to feel like I belong.

In Canada, I learned to follow my heart through the hardest detour in my life. I’ve almost always done what my heart told me, but until then, most had been fairly easy decisions.

Then I came to a particular juncture.

One path gleamed with the career and life I was happy with.

The other was not resplendent in comparison, but it led back to something that was/is the dearest to me in the big wide world.

But it was not an easy decision to make.

In my late teens, I had left the nest and spread my wings.

By my late 20s, I had flown much further and much wider than I had planned or even imagined.

In my mid 30s, with focus, hard work and perseverance, I achieved whatever little goals I had gunned for.

And then it hit me.

Despite all the external embellishments, I was not happy.

I thought things over. I prayed. I talked to a few people.

I had to make a choice.  

A career with the trappings that the world worships?


An incomparably less glamourous vocation that would allow me to wake up with a feeling of contentment every day?

Again, not an easy decision to make.

After all, how many just chuck their glowing careers and globetrotting ways to baby-sit ageing parents?

If I had to listen to Daddy and Mummy, and dance to their “You can’t live with your parents just because you want to be with them in their old age” tune, I would have still been in Canada.

But I listened to Canada instead.

I had read about people who had made similarly tough decisions to simplify their lives by tuning out the world and listening inwards to what their hearts told them.

Some made choices that involved reducing frivolous expenses, some chose smaller living spaces, some chose to give up their private vehicles and rough it out with public transport. And some gave up blazing careers.

I met very few of these people, but mostly, I read about them. With each one I met, and with each article I read, my resolve to return to my roots grew stronger.

And now I’m back in the country of my birth. With those who gave me birth. Not Daddy, of course. He’s off on a jaunt somewhere.  😉  Took off five months before I planned to return. Hmph.

I’ve been back with Mummy for a few years now. And I’m happy. Poorer, no longer hip, definitely not happening. But happy.

Oh yes, I am at peace. Finally.

This home I grew up in is where I belong. Unless Mummy decides to beat me to it and join Daddy wherever he is. Then, I will take off again. Most probably.

I do not have links to the exact articles that inspired me years ago. This article (with its accompanying URL below) is a very good example of some of those I had read.

Here are some pictures of my time in my adopted home nation.

On the GO!

GO Transit is the province wide, rail and bus transit system in Ontario. Another FYI snippet. Canada has provinces, not states.

This normally busy station is deserted because it was one of the last trains I took back to Streetsville in Mississauga, where I lived. I had wound up that particular Canada Day at the Exhibition Place, downtown Toronto.




                                                          HTH                                  Me

The lady in the red jacket is Hazel McCallion. I’ve given her the faux title royale HTH, which I’ve coined for ‘Hazel The Hurricane’.  Hurricane Hazel as she is fondly known, is the feisty and fiery mayor of the city of Mississauga in Ontario.

Hazel McCallion is 91 now (I know!) and has been our mayor in Missisauga for the past … wait for it … 33 years. Yes, Thirty. Three. Years. Whoa!

When I lived in Canada, I used to volunteer at (the) City Centre in Mississauga, among other places. After my stint at City Centre in the morning one Canada Day, I spent the evening (this photograph was taken) in my neighbourhood in Streetsville. Hazel McCallion lives in Streetsville as well.

 Kate Spade Girl                                                  Me                            BFF Two

Kate Spade Girl is my nickname for my Jamaican-Canadian friend who is fond of that designer.

Kate Spade Girl visited me when I lived in China. Kate Spade Girl will spend Christmas this year with my family at home. Yaay!

BFF Two joined us for dinner one night (in China).

The little shout out, rather scribble out, in my hand is to my other dear Canadian friend, who I call affectionately call ‘Tinamisu’. Tina is of Italian origin. I like Tina and tiramisu. 🙂

Kate Spade Girl and Tinamisu are my closest Canadian friends.

Being a lover of nature and the simple life, it was only natural for me to be drawn to our Native Indian heritage in Canada. I enjoyed spending time at Crawford Lake in the Halton Region of Ontario.


I’m dreaming of (my birth) home …. no more. 🙂

This image is from

A dream catcher is a Native Indian item made with a willow hoop and a sinew net or web. It is hung above the bed or at the window. It is believed to filter out bad dreams and only let good dreams pass through. I like that idea.  

This next shot is not very clear.


Reaching for my dreams



Thank you, O Canada, for giving me the strength

to go after my most important dream,

which I am now blessed to live.


Red, White and Proud!

This image is from



Happy Canada Day, Hook and family, and my other Canadian readers!


::   ::  ::   ::   ::  ::  ::  ::  ::     EXTRA!  EXTRA!  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::   ::   ::   ::   ::

My Canadian blog bud, Hook, released his book recently. If you’ve had enough reality TV and would like to switch gears to reality reading, Hook’s book is for you!

His book is called ‘The Bellman Chronicles’. (

You can find out more on his site, The Book of Terrible. (

Although I haven’t read it, I like his blog posts. Oh, and this daddy’s girl is mighty pleased that the cover of his book has been designed by his 14-year old daughter, Sarah. 🙂

::  ::  :: 

I’d also like to send some Canada Day love to another blog buddy who is south of the 49th parallel.

::  ::  ::   

Marcy King or Orples’ Brain Mama  as I call her (as opposed to ‘birth mother’) has some entertaining and endearing Orples tales to tell.

Orples what? Orples who?

Stop by at her site, Orples, ( to find out more.  

::  ::  :: 

Hook and Marcy, wish you both the luck of the Four Leaf Clover Eleven Point Maple Leaf in your literary ventures!


Thank you, mj monaghan and The Book of Terrible, for commenting on my last post.

Thank you, The Book of Terrible, for liking my last post.


P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.

 I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat! 


Tuesday, 1 May 2012

With A Little Help From My Friends



The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm.  ~ Swedish proverb

We all know that we cannot get through life entirely on our own.

Today is International Labour Day. This post is dedicated to the many and mostly nameless people who make my life easier. They do not just do their job, they care about the kind of service they provide. Their job, where I’m concerned, is about helping me. Yes, they are paid for their services, but salaries do not ensure that service is provided with caring or affection. I get this from my help at home, and I am blessed to get similar personalised attention from most of those I interact with, be it on a regular basis or once only encounters.

Below, I will share stories of two people who I am extremely fond of and another who … do not react, I’m being a drama queen … saved my life.



1. Isabella

Bella mia, Isabella

Isabella is our family cook. Her family and ours have been intertwined for three generations. Her parents were the cook and maid with my grandparents. Isabella has been one of the longest serving cooks for Daddy, Mummy, Big Bro, Big Sis and I. Isabella’s son is Mum’s back up driver.

Isabella is no maid to us, but a family member. She eats with us at our dining table (yes, I have to specify this because it is, uh, not the done thing around here) and she gets the same kinds of gifts that Mum does for Christmas and her birthday. We are just as comfortable at Isabella’s home.

Isabella was, and still is, one of the pillars of my family during my years away from home. She is one of the many I relied on to lend her time and her assistance when need arose, all without even being requested.

‘Thank you’ is woefully inadequate, Isabella, for all you have done and all you have been to Daddy and Mummy over the decades. If you were aware of my blog, this tribute to you and your photograph up here would fill you with joy, but you know very well how terribly I handle attention to myself. Most important of all, I know that you know how much you mean to your “Kate Baby.”

Thank you for being the blessing you are to my family, Isabella. 

2. Dia


Buena Dia

Dia is my neighbour’s maid. She has been with that family even before I was born. All the families in my neighbourhood are close knit. As a result, we are friends with the help in all the homes, too.

Dia has a special place in my heart because she has a special place in her heart for …wait for it… my tummy! 🙂 

Dia knows that I love eating on the whole, and home cooked meals from scratch in particular. Like all those in our neighbourhood, she knows I absolutely love shellfish and pork. Every time she cooks my favourite variations, she will bring some across for me.

Dia in Spanish means ‘day’. How appropriate! Dia and I greet each other every morning when we’re both in our adjacent gardens. The first thing she says when she sees me is, “May God grant you a good day, Small Baby Madam!*” Then we exchange the customary pleasantries, share our planned programme for the day and carry on with our lives.

*Family members have titles based on our hierarchy in the family. Mum is Madam, Big Sis is Big Baby Madam and I am Small Baby Madam. Quaint and apt.

After dinner, once again, each steps out in the garden to bid the other a good night after giving each other a rundown of our day’s activities. Dia learned to say “Goodnight” from me when I was very young, but I couldn’t have been a good teacher because to date, she still signs off with, “May God grant you a peaceful sleep. Goo (sic) night, Small Baby Madam!” Aww. That “goo” night wish makes me go all gooey (in a nice way) each time she chirps it. 

Dia, thank you making my day, every day of my life! 


3. Merlyn


My magical Merlyn



Be nice to those you meet on the way up because you will meet them on the way down” – Author Unconfirmed

I learned that this statement applies even when the direction is reversed.

I will go into detail another time about my experience at the rice terraces in Batad, in the Philippines because it was a memorable one for me. Now, I will focus on Merlyn’s role in, uh, rescuing my life. (Thank you for playing along and not laughing in my face at that gross exaggeration.)


I wanted to get to the Tapplya waterfall which is on the other side of the rice terraces at Batad. Earlier travellers (who reported online) and locals recommended guides for this trek, but when doing my pre-trip research, I had read of a few instances where trekkers had attempted this stretch without a guide. Being a copycat, and a foolhardy one at times, I opted to go it alone.

It was cold (14°C/32°F) and misty that day, but mercifully, no rain that morning and early afternoon. It took me another 1.5 hours to descend through the terraced land onto the other side where I was to begin my third and final descent to the waterfall.

The trail was nothing like I’d experienced before. (I’ve not done a whole lot of trekking really.) No steps at all, just rugged path, which was now wet and slippery from the previous day’s downpour. There was no proper trail after another scenic point because very few tourists venture down to the terraces, and even less, to the waterfall. For good reason.

I walked sideways along cut-out paths as narrow as 30 cm (1 foot) with my back pressed against the wet, muddy mountain side. At other times, I literally hung on to shrubs and branches to steady myself or move ahead. I leapt across some scary crevices; not deep, but jagged enough to break bones. I held my breath and prayed frantically several times, but never was I too scared to move on. Instead, I was even more pumped. I felt like one of those adrenaline junkies that I’d hitherto scoffed at for being reckless and selfish. Although, after that experience, I began thinking of them differently having experienced a similar rush, Mum, you have no reason to worry. I’ve heard you say, “No parent should have to bury their child” often enough to not pursue extreme adventure. Cross my heart.

Cut to me going down towards the waterfall, coming to a downpour created impasse and turning around to head back up. Not so fast. I got lost. In the middle of a soggy, terraced rice field.

Steps to nowhere

At the bottom right corner (the red arrow), is where I began my ascent through the fields. The tiny circle there encloses 2 adults. That will give you an idea of how high the terraced walls are. I did not expect that height or degree of difficulty to navigate through. Much wiser now.

On my way down, I had seen just 2 workers in the fields; two tribal women. I chatted with them briefly and learned that the chattier of the two was named Merlyn.

On my way back up, when I finally accepted that I was lost, I had no idea where they were. I scanned the fields, but did not spot them. Still, I knew my only bet was to yell and hope they were within earshot. I bellowed, “Help!” twice, and then, “Can you hear me? I am lost.”

I heard a female voice respond. Hallelujah. After yelling our locations and following each other’s voices, we finally saw each other in the distance. She was too far off for me to recognise her. She tried to give me instructions on retracing my steps to get to a path. The thought of going down a wall that was figuratively a wall as well, and jumping again across a terrifying crevice I breached once was … NO WAY! I refused. So she had to come to me; although, that being her turf, she did not have to tackle the obstacle course stretch I did in my earlier attempt.

I was pleased when she came into sight because I recognised her as Merlyn, the older one I had chatted with on the way down. Merlyn recognised me immediately, too. She knew I was going to the waterfall alone. When we met again, I asked her why she wasn’t surprised I was attempting that stretch without a guide and why she did not caution me. She easily replied that I came across as very confident and that I looked like I knew what I was getting into. Oh Merlyn, I’m a poseur!

Anyway, Melryn began heading towards a previously encountered and avoided “forest” (the blue arrow’d path), and  I was taken aback, but she encouraged me gently to follow her. She was tiny, so she went ahead and tried to clear the branches for me. Most of the time, I crept forward on my haunches. At times, I hunched over double, but I enjoyed every moment of mousing through that other worldly secret passage. 🙂 40 minutes after we met, we arrived at the first of the handful of homes in the area. It was her daughter’s home, and I had spoken very briefly to her daughter as well on the way down.

It paid to be nice on my way down because it made coming up (for air) so much better.

Thank you, Merlyn, for saving me that unforgettable day four years ago.

I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.” ~ John D. Rockefeller

To Isabella, Dia, Merlyn and everyone else who makes my life easier in whatever little or big way, know that I am grateful.




Thank you, orples and  The Book of Terrible  for commenting on my last post.

Thank you, orples and The Book of Terrible  for liking my last post.


P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.

 I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat! 






Sunday, 15 April 2012

Honour Thy Father And Thy Mothers


This love affair of mine is no secret.


❤ 🙂 ❤

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Although I’m Daddy’s Girl to the core, I do have space in my heart for two more.



My birth mother and my earth mother.



Bursting with earthy wholesomeness!

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I am terribly saddened by these events around the world.



Thank you, Elaine, for permitting me the use of this image on behalf of China Org.

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So I try my darnedest to do what I know. 


Thank you, Heidi McDonald, for permitting me the use of this image from your website, Unique Teaching Resources.

Thank you, Heidi McDonald, for permitting me the use of this image from your website, Unique Teaching Resources.

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Then, there are other things that I do to make my earth mother less sad.

You know how I began using newspaper to wrap gifts 4 years ago. That sent a few ripples of the ‘She’s NUTS!’ sort, and I got a significant number of the ‘She’s got guts.‘ sort!

You win some + You lose some = Life.

And for me, there’s only one direction in life – onward and upward.

So for the past four years, everyone I know has received their gifts wrapped, very thoughtfully, in newspaper. Last year, I kicked my mother(earth)loving mania up a notch for Mum’s birthday.

Mum turned 80 and since it is one of those big deal milestones, Big Bro, Big Sis and I decided the annual dinner for a few dozen at home would just not do. When Mum, the ace party animal, gave her nod of consent (before we could complete the question!), the little ones began a-plannin’.  

“I’ll do the invitations!” Baby (bug)Bear AKA me, offered excitedly.

From experience, my older siblings recognised that kind of enthusiasm as trouble. From experience, too, this baby in the family knows when she can push her luck. And Lady Luck smiled down on Batty Baby because this is the invitation all the guests, in country and overseas, received for Mum’s birthday bash.

Better believe it!

 I hand wrote the invitations. All 102 of them.



I took an A4, cut it in half, uh, jazzed up the edges on two sides with a pair of pinking scissors (please be impressed) and wrote down the details using my everyday pen.

Okay, I’ll give you all a few seconds to pick your horrified jaws off the ground.

I know what you’re thinking. “Such an important occasion and you gave out these … these scraps of paper? WHY?”  

Simple. Because it breaks my heart to see how invitations are trashed after the occasion. Yes, people ooh and aah upon receipt of glitzy invitations. The more ostentatious invitations go on to become a topic of conversation briefly among some. But they all meet the same fate. The grossly outsized ones, the ones with multiple puzzling parts, the ones with glitter falling out when first opened and the perfumed ones. All in the trash can. How much my poor earth mother bled to make us, ungrateful children, happy for a few fleeting moments.


I believe in this.

Each day matters.

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So 80th birthday or not, Mum’s birthday was just another day to me. As I tend to, I chose to put my foot into my mouth. It’s fairly easy for me now because I open my mouth so nice and wide to begin with. 😉

When I folded the invitation, I put each one into a regular white envelope. I skipped writing the guests’ names on the envelope, as is the norm. Then I explained to our mildly bewildered friends and relatives, that I did that so that they could reuse the envelope themselves.

And my final green touch to the invitations was travelling to the homes of the guests in my state by public transport. I chose to deliver the invitations personally so that I could spend time with each of them. Having lived away from home since I left for university, I am not terribly close to most because I meet them during my annual visits home and then again, at events – weddings, birthdays or funerals. I don’t know these outer circle relatives and friends as well as I’d like to. Spending time when delivering the invitations made a significant difference on that front.

The other reason I decided to deliver the invitations in person was because I wanted to emphasise that they not bring a gift as requested at the bottom of the invitation.

Instead, I requested they fill in the enclosed, large Post-It-like slip of coloured paper than Big Sis had added a little artwork to.

That slip of paper was for each guest or family to write what they wished for Mum or share their experience with her. Big Sis thought of this because she pointed out that Mum is a sentimental fool (like me).


A fool judges people by the presents they give him. ~ Chinese proverb


Mum has old handwritten cards and letters that are decades old. She goes through them at least twice a year when the family is together, usually around our dining table or in her bedroom. We read them aloud, talk about the ones who wrote them, run our fingers along the once familiar writing of those who live far away or who have passed away. And in some strange way, we feel like we are all together again.

Mother Hen with her chicklets.

Golden Girl – Mum

Little Girl Blue – Big Sis, Red Riding Cheongsam/Qipao – me, English Rose – Godbaby



Mum was delighted with all the notes that she got back. Most guests had filled up every little bit of blank space with anecdotes from the past, and we all learned so much more about Mum.

These are two of the least filled in slips we received.

From cousins Down Under.

This was the simplest one Mum got.





From close family friends.

This was my favourite one.



I loved this slip the most because Zinia added those little rose-y touches to it. 

Zinia thrilled me further by telling me that she did that as her little green contribution to the event. She and her family were delighted with the outcome, too, especially because they realised that something so simple could be turned into something so special. (Go, Kate, you green freak, go!)


Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.” ~ Edmund Burke (Irish statesman and philosopher. 1729-1797)


When I went around distributing the invitations, I was pleasantly surprised with everyone’s response when I explained the madness behind the reason for that very simple invitation. They understood my concern from the environmental point of view, agreed it was valid and commended me for taking that bold step. Most were honest enough to admit that they would not be able to do the same because they were too afraid of being ridiculed.

Ridicule? Doesn’t bother me. I get it so much, it’s like one of those magical little trace elements in my daily dose of multivitamins!

I’ll go further and twist the Adidas slogan and say – Ridicule is Nothing.


It’s a small price to pay if I want to live in this kind of a world.


A girl can dream, can’t she?

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Earth Day is 22 April.   

::  :: ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::     HEAR YE!   HEAR YE!      ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::

Bestie Boy arrives for a visit on 17 April. As you know, I am very particular about responding to comments that you all take the time and patience to write out. However, I will not be able to reply to comments you leave from 16 – 29 April.

I have been prepping for his visit and tying up things at work, which is why, my RSSed buds, I have not had the time to enjoy reading through and commenting on your blogs as well for a while now. Thank you for understanding.

I think of all of you. Our personalities filter through our words and that has helped me build up an image of each of you. Sorta like playing Sims (which I never did), but better! Because you are free to do your own thing, and I’m free to join you on your blogging journey.  

But I’m gonna break journey for a bit longer now.

And I’m going to walk on my head instead. 🙂   




Thank you, The Book of Terribleorples and  mj monaghan  for commenting on my last post.

Thank you, Don Cuney, Looking for Pemberley, The Ranting Chef,  The Book of Terrible, No Circ is WholeSon and orples for liking my last post.


P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.

 I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat! 






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