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First snow experience

Last month, my husband and I visited family in Chicago. Three normal days and the last night of our stay there, it snowed. I was surprised my phone weather forecast was accurate. It started around 1 am- I was watching for it- it had been an exciting day, what with a visit to neighboring Wisconsin to see a professor of my husband’s just across the border from Illinois. And an outlet mall visit to buy a lot of things( which I actually didn’t need) and a few books for my onward trip.

So, it snowed and snowed and kept snowing till the morning, when we could see the whole place covered in the whitest of snow. So exciting!

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Way to Wisconsin
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House in Wisconsin
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Last days of autumn
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My first snow- the neighbourhood
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Little trees covered in snow- early Christmas
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View of the house from the car- last sight of snow
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Goodbye, snow ! 
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Gratitude

Monday is the day set apart for being grateful. Honestly this morning I am not finding many things to be grateful about but let me try. Let me see what makes me grouchy first this morning.

  1. Grateful for the Air Conditioning in the house for without it and the power supply we would not be able to live in arid conditions. Thank you.
  2. For family that has returned safe after more than a week of busy travel and activity.
  3. For the Thai boys who got rescued last night from the cave and for the remaining 8 boys who are still alive.
  4. For the cool wind that brought cooler weather in some parts of the world and did not bring harm.
  5. Oh, now that I am counting, there seem to be so many. For a friend who is busy at work but still writing and I know she is well somewhere.
  6. For the guts to face up to someone I needed to forgive.
  7. For sleep and hunger that plague me through the day. There are many people who do not feel these basic instincts of life. I am often not grateful for my hunger for food and cravings for crunchy stuff. I am grateful that I seem to have gotten over my sugar cravings.
  8. For a sister who works hard at work and at home with her children and her ill health. She has been looking after my husband and children every time they visited her city over the past two months.
  9. For the woman at the visa counter because she set me off on an alternate path of life, one that I never thought I would be going on this July. For new times and new experiences.
  10. For a spare car that in spite of my car being silent and still in the garage works well and takes me in comfort to work.
  11. For the chapel service that went well last night – that elder daughter sang in the choir for- it was her first experience singing in a choir and for appreciation. For the younger daughter who was kept safe through weeks of travel back and forth to the home country and the church service she attended here yesterday.
  12. For peaceful times at home and the cats outside. For peaceful neighbors who live their lives quietly. For a neighbour girl who put on 5 kilos of weight after a battle with extreme starvation. It made me happy to see her almost like her old self yesterday. I hope she gains her body image back- is that the correct way of putting it ?
  13. For the monthly times for both my girls. I have come to appreciate this with their lives as they have often missed these cycles in their lives but this year, seems to have brought regularity in their rhythms.
  14. For the change in mood from when I started this post, that I don’t want to write what was bothering me at the beginning of this writing.

Thank you for this day and for the challenges this day will bring.

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True Nobility- Edgar A. Guest

Who does his task from day to day

And meets whatever comes his way,

Believing God has willed it so,

Has found real greatness here below.

Who guards his post, no matter where

Believing God must need him there,

Although but lowly toil it be ,

Has risen to nobility.

For great and low there’s but one test:

“Tis that each man shall do his best.

Who works with all the strength he can

Shall never die in debt to man.

 

I work in a university as an administrator though I am a trained physician. I have my days when I am saddened by thoughts that I should be elsewhere, doing something else. My classmates are all in good positions around the world. I must be the only research administrator doctor. Those are days of my own inner pity party. When my mother was sick and needed me, I went to be with her, even telling my university to terminate me, if required, as I had no leave of any sort. They refused to terminate me. I came back many weeks later and my job was held for me. I am now working at my desk again and earning money. From this poem, which seems to speak to me today, I need to guard this post, God has given me, believing God needs me here, and though lowly it may be, I will rise to nobility should I do my best and work with all my strength and I will die a happy contented soul, not in debt to man but having run the good race with faithfulness, I can meet my creator.

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Wait, my daughter

I have been home a week now but taking time off from work, to come to terms with the changes in my life.

I have written about my hope of completing my education someday. Things were going in the right direction- my university accreditation has been complete and it remains for me to put in my application. And there is a good chance that I might get accepted to a reputed university.

But I am having second thoughts now. I doubt if I can pull it through. I seem to have lost the confidence and will power to do it. I have tried to read the Bible over the last week to get comfort and have prayed to be led to a powerful verse that can guide me. I don’t often seem to get direct comfort from reading the Bible these days. My life is all topsy turvy.

I am reading my daily lesson now and I see a verse which seems to be speaking right to me.

Ruth 3:18

Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.

It gives me hope that I need to trust and hold on and keep going. My life will clear out again like Ruth’s did and be once more filled with blessings.

Praise God !

 

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Settling down- with food

My 5 day trip to Singapore ended on Friday last week. Singapore is a place with a lot of immigrants- I am not sure who the natives are. But a large part of the population is English speaking Chinese- so the food essentially is Chinese.

While I was there, it was the last few days of the Chinese new year- this added more color to the streets and the faces around us. Red lanterns and red decorations marked the streets and you know , as my favorite color is red, I was totally enjoying it.

We are on a tight budget here as my husband is a student once more and will not be earning during his course. Essentially I am the only bread earner in the family for a time.

The first two days we and especially he suffered a lot for want of familiar food. We couldn’t find familiar food- and though I would try new food and was surviving on Chinese food like fried rice and orange chicken, my husband would try a spoonful and turn away. His breakfast was essentially eggs till we could find a bread stall and he indulged in cranberry buns. But we needed to find a solution to the food problem.

The rented condo provided us with a two burner induction cooker and a couple of pans and plates and spoons but that wasn’t enough for me, who has been cooking with a lot of pots and pans for about a quarter of a century now. To cook par boiled rice, we needed to use our pressure cooker as this rice only cooks in a cooker. But it looks like the induction cooker wouldn’t provide heat to the aluminum pressure cooker and so we had to abandon that effort. And without  our own brown hearty rice, we couldn’t survive. We decided to get us a n electric hot plate which is more of our age and not a modern device. So off to the shops we went with growling stomachs and a will to get our necessities come what may.

We travelled by the MRT ( public transport) and changing from red lines to purple lines to green lines, we reached the Dhobi Ghaut change station where we took another MRT to the Ferrer Road station which is the nearest to the Mustafa center, which we were informed was the place to go for everything a middle class family wanted in their lives.

It truly lived up to its reputation. We went on a shopping spree to tell the truth- a couple of pots and a few pans and some more cutlery, a ceramic knife( which is the new thing in knives, apparently), a rolling pin, some vegetables, some scrapped coconut, a blender, some containers ( to store our food in) and some prawns and fish ( for protein).

To carry all these things home, we hailed a cab. The front of the Mustafa center was cramped with cars and the road was narrow but we managed to push our things into the boot of the cab, with horns honking in our ears from a very irate cab driver, who had spotted an Arab gentleman and wanted his custom( we were in his way, he thought and he let us know this in no uncertain terms). We reached home and the friendly cab driver asked us where we wanted to go and we didn’t know where we lived. All we knew was that we stayed somewhere near the Clementi station and that it was about 6 bus stops away from the National University hospital. He asked us which Exit turned to our home and we didn’t know, so we called our house owner who talked to the cab driver. We got home safely and managed to get all our stuff into one elevator and pulled all things to our small home.

For the first time in days, our home felt like home again. Having familiar things, food and cooking our own food made us feel more at home than friendly faces and helping hands. Our house owner Joshua was kindness personified and he helped us see Singapore through the MRT and familiarized us with the various lines and buses.

But it takes food to make us feel that we can survive in an unknown city.

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Mercy- #JusJoJan- January 15- Pass it forward.

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” Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain Mercy“.

One of the Beatitudes- part of the Sermon on the Mount. One that is very difficult to follow. I mean the first part is- being merciful. The second part is easy- obtaining or receiving Mercy, which is what all of us would love to have, all the time. Life would be so much easier than usual, if we could just continue getting one mercy after another. I think of Mercy as a gift. Maybe I am wrong. Something like Santa Claus and what he supposedly does for people. There is really no need for anyone to be merciful and give gifts to another person but some generous and large-hearted people do and that is mercy.

I am going on a trip to Singapore, the last few days of January and the first few days of February. I have no leave left. The year has just started and I have no accumulated leave. It has to accrue over the next year for me to have some residual days to take off on un-official trips such as these. I applied for leave to Cyn, my supervisor. I needed 4 working days’ off. As I worked over the Christmas break, I could claim one day of compensatory leave off but 3 days’ would need to come from the loss of pay days’, meaning I would lose pay for 3 days and that is not good. What’s done has to be done.

I applied for leave for 3 days. Cyn looked through the request and said, ” How many days did you work over the Christmas break ?” I said, ” About 8 hours” ( 8 hours counts as one working day in our system). She said, ” Are you sure its not two days’ “?

I said, ” No”.  Cyn said, ” I hate for you to take ” leave without pay”. I said, ” Its ok, whats to be done, has to be done.”Cyn said, ” Do you have sick days left?”I said, ” Yes, two days'”. ” And you will get one vacation day off on February 1 “, she said. I said,” Yes”.

Quickly coming to a decision, she said, ” Do one thing. Don’t apply for leave now in advance. Apply after you have come back from your travel, by which time it will be February and you will have enough leave to cover your absence.” Cyn continued, ” It is not breaking any rules- only emergency leaves of absence need to have advance leave requests”.

So now I am waiting for my trip to Singapore, no leave requested for and waiting for February, when I can apply for leave, I would already have taken in January and some part of February.

Cyn didn’t have to do this for me- I didn’t ask her for a favor and she doesn’t have to – at all but she did it and all without my asking. That is mercy. Giving without expecting anything in return. It makes the recipient all warm and cosy inside as though someone is watching over her and it is true. Someone is watching over me- over all of us.

Now I need to watch out for opportunities to be merciful and to pass it forward.