More Of The Third Part, Please!

The entire world is still reeling from the ghastly events in Paris, the downing of a Russian plane filled with tourists, the double suicide attack in Beirut. Here in the United States, people have not forgotten Boston.  At least, many of us refuse to.

My social media profile photo changed to show solidarity with the recent attacks in Paris, France. (c) Likeitis

My social media profile photo changed to show solidarity with the recent attacks in Paris, France. (c) Likeitiz

Over the weekend on Facebook, profile pictures lit up with the rouge-blanc-bleu stripe in solidarity with the French.  I joined in. Along with the colors came the loud cries for liberté, égalité, fraternité (liberty, equality, fraternity), a motto among many over the centuries, that France has become identified with.  The likes of Robespierre would be proud. Although there had not been as much debate over the first two components, after all, one ensures the other, the third, fraternité, has been fraught with back and forth arguments and detractors. Brotherhood implies the greater good, collective bargaining, a moral imperative, inclusive as opposed to exclusionary, creating communities. It also tends to rise when the need to unite for a common foe exists. In this setting, it becomes, “Fraternité, ou la Mort!” (Fraternity or Death!).

A woman holds a sign that reads in French "We are united" as she gathers with others in tribute to the victims of Paris attacks near French embassy in Riga, Latvia, November 14, 2015. Photo courtesy of Ints Kalnins/Reuters

A woman holds a sign that reads in French “We are united” as she gathers with others in tribute to the victims of Paris attacks near French embassy in Riga, Latvia, November 14, 2015. Photo courtesy of Ints Kalnins/Reuters

There have been endless cries for freedom. We listen. We help to ensure it. We in the Western World have enjoyed a lot of freedoms that we take for granted. Everything we see and do from the time we wake up in the morning until we go to sleep on a bed we call our own, is a result of this hard-fought freedom.

PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 14:  Parisians light candles and lay tributes on the monument at Place de la Republique, the day after deadly terrorist attacks on November 14, 2015 in Paris, France. At least 120 people have been killed and over 200 injured, 80 of which seriously, following a series of terrorist attacks in the French capital.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

PARIS, FRANCE – NOVEMBER 14: Parisians light candles and lay tributes on the monument at Place de la Republique, the day after deadly terrorist attacks on November 14, 2015 in Paris, France. At least 120 people have been killed and over 200 injured, 80 of which seriously, following a series of terrorist attacks in the French capital. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

There are loud cries for equality in government, at home, at work, the greater community. Race, Color, Ancestry or National Origin, Sexual Orientation, Marriage Equality, to name a few.  We have to grapple with a slew of issues, even the exaggerations, abuses, and even slanted interpretations of both the privileged and the discriminated. Slowly but surely, we will reach the equilibrium.

Take a look at our own backyards and there is not a lot of brotherhood. We don’t treat one another with respect often enough. We don’t teach our children to be mindful individuals so that one day, they will be mindful adults. We see many who will not hesitate to litter, waste valuable resources like water and energy, speak loudly in enclosed spaces, elbow and jostle through the crowds— all because? Because we can! And we feel we have to exert our individual rights to do as we please. We are so entitled. We forget that indeed we are free to do as we please in so long as it does not harm others and that our acts do not prevent others from enjoying the same freedoms we are enjoying.

We are too blinded by our obsession with individual liberties that we can’t see beyond the tip of our noses. We can’t have a decent conversation about guns because some people feel their civil liberties would be trampled on? In the meantime, people are dying from the consequences of our lack of action and millions of automatic weapons are scattered in an urban populace. We can’t find a way to get the homeless off our city streets so they can live like human beings on our dime because they don’t deserve it?  (And no, it’s not right to use the city streets as your toilet. But where would you go if there was nowhere to do your bare necessities?) We can’t have universal health care because people have to earn it while other first world countries provide it as a human right?  Same goes for our children’s education.

The bombing in Paris will rile up the anti-immigration advocates. They will treat this as validation of their beliefs. But, really, this has been the failure of our systems to provide the timely solutions to this refugee crisis we have watched unfolding for all these years. And no one can claim clean hands from this sad failure of policy and execution.

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Left photo: The Hiroshima Peace Memorial or the Atomic Bomb Memorial or Genbaku Domu. Right photo Hiroshima Memorial Cenotaph

Left photo: The Hiroshima Peace Memorial or the Atomic Bomb Memorial or Genbaku Domu. Right photo Hiroshima Memorial Cenotaph

When we visited Japan in October, we made sure to take the time to see Hiroshima. The city has suffered unspeakable devastation in World War II 70 years ago. And it has been reborn. There are a few ruins preserved as memorials and the museum rivals the Holocaust Museum in Warsaw.  We met a man stationed at the base of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. He had lots of videos and photo albums of the horrific day. His mother, in her nineties, is a survivor of the atomic bomb blast. She has suffered various health problems from it but she lived well into her nineties in spite of it. This man has made a commitment to tell his mother’s story so that the world will not forget. He wants to tell the world that there are no winners in war, especially nuclear war.

We cannot allow the young and future generations to forget how inhuman we can be. How we can be the worst tormentors. How we are capable of the most vile unspeakable abuses. We need to unite and be an even greater global force many times over than what we are facing. Can we spare some of our individual freedoms for now to make this possible? For the greater good? Can we be kins long enough to overwhelm this gigantic pustule that’s been pulsating and enlarging over in the middle east, threatening to spew its putrid doctrines to contaminate the rest of the world?

San Francisco's City Hall is illuminated in blue, white and red in San Francisco, California on November 14, 2015, one day after the Paris terrorist attacks. Stirring renditions of "La Marseillaise" rang out from Dublin to New York as global landmarks were bathed in the French colors and thousands marched in solidarity with Paris after attacks that left at least 129 dead.   AFP PHOTO/JOSH EDELSON        (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

San Francisco’s City Hall is illuminated in blue, white and red in San Francisco, California on November 14, 2015, one day after the Paris terrorist attacks. Stirring renditions of “La Marseillaise” rang out from Dublin to New York as global landmarks were bathed in the French colors and thousands marched in solidarity with Paris after attacks that left at least 129 dead. AFP PHOTO/JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

This post was inspired after having read Gianpiero Petriglieri’s article on HBR: After Paris, We Need More Fellowship, Not More Leadership.

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Posted in France, Paris, Paris Attacks, senseless killing, Terrorism, Uncategorized, World Events | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Our Redwoods Nodded

The row of Redwood trees in our front yard this morning.  Photo Credit (c) Likeitis

The row of Redwood trees in our front yard this morning. Photo Credit (c) Likeitiz

This morning I was awakened long before the alarm went off. It was almost 6:00 a.m., although with the Fall Back of time on the weekend, it was almost 7:00 in the morning really. There was no light peeking through the heavy drapes in our room yet.  I heard the steady pitter-patter outside on my window.  That’s music to any Californian’s ears. We’ve had a long drought and we are so looking forward to some rain.

I’ll sacrifice some clear sunny days with an expanse of blue above. I’ll give up some t-shirt and flip-flop afternoons sipping lemonade on the patio. I can put up with a week of non-stop rain and not complain one bit. I’ve been doing my part to conserve.

As I made may way out of the garage, I looked up to the front of our home.  Aside from the fog lifting, the wet driveway was a welcome sight. I imagined the Redwoods nodding in agreement. It’s going to be a good day.

Posted in Autumn, Drought, Rain, Weather | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A fig for your thoughts

Here’s a tribute to an elegant fruit, from one of my daughter’s dear friends, who has now made his life in France.

Infinite belly

IMG_0393

When I was a kid, I hated eating fruits. Juices were sometimes okay, but eating a whole apple? Gross. It felt too strange in my mouth, both crunchy and soft, firm yet juicy. Not to mention its overpowering tangy taste… it was too confusing for a kid used to a modern diet of spaghetti and meatballs, Doritos, and the Brazilian staple of steak with arroz e feijão. Every Rosh Hashanah I was tortured to eat apples with honey for a sweet New Year. And it was not only apples that scared me but all kinds of fruits. Some were surprisingly soft and mushy inside and had all kinds of seeds and deadly pits hidden in the center. But somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that by the time I would grow up this would have to change. It would be too ridiculous to refuse a tangerine…

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If The Ground Could Speak

Mural on the grounds of Ston, on the Peljesac Peninsula, Croatia, August 29, 2014, (c) photo by Likeitiz

Mural on the grounds of Ston, on the Peljesac Peninsula, Croatia, August 29, 2014, (c) photo by Likeitiz

We joined friends for a trip to Croatia in the Summer of 2014. The Dalmatian Coast was in all its summertime splendor.  One of the towns we visited during a day trip was Ston, on the Peljesac Peninsula.

We spent some time walking around the town, with its old buildings and walkways. The walled fortress extends all the way up and around for about 5 kilometers. There were the saltworks, said to be one of the sources of high-quality sea salt in the world.

Map of Ston and the walled fortress, August 29, 2014, (c) Photo by Likeitiz

Map of Ston and the walled fortress, August 29, 2014, (c) Photo by Likeitiz

As we walked the grounds, I could not help but wonder, if the ground could speak, what stories would it tell? From the time of the Roman conquests B.C. through the Ottoman Empire, through various Croatian kings, Hungarian unions, through the tearing apart of the old Yugoslavia. Today, it is occupied mostly by families from Dubrovnik.

My hubby taking a break on a shaded walkway in Ston, Croatia, August 29, 2014, (c) Photo by Likeitiz

My hubby taking a break on a shaded walkway in Ston, Croatia. Notice how the wall extends all the way up that mountain.  August 29, 2014, (c) Photo by Likeitiz

I would recommend visiting the Dalmatian Coast. It is such a beautiful country with warm and accommodating people.

This post was inspired by Cheri Lucas Rowlands’ call to WordPress members for an interpretation of “Beneath Your Feet.”

Posted in Croatia, Daily Post Challenge, Dubrovnik, Ston, Travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Daughter Chronicles: A Confusing Term

IOWA CITY, IOWA - APRIL 3: Gay, lesbian and transgender activists react to the unanimous decision by the Iowa Supreme Court earlier in the day recognizing same sex marriage as a civil right during a celebration on April 3, 2009 at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by David Greedy/Getty Images), www.hiffingtonpost.com

IOWA CITY, IOWA – APRIL 3: Gay, lesbian and transgender activists react to the unanimous decision by the Iowa Supreme Court earlier in the day recognizing same-sex marriage as a civil right during a celebration on April 3, 2009 at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by David Greedy/Getty Images), http://www.huffingtonpost.com

I was on the way to work when I heard Monday morning’s segment from the Perspectives Series of KQED.  Clyde Wadsworth applauds Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in the historic Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality (Obergefell v. Hodges). However, he has taken issue with the elderly justice’s portrayal of single people as “condemned to live in loneliness.”  Is it time to rally for the rights of those single by choice?  It is, after all, a personal freedom, regardless of religious or political affiliation.

When our daughter was a bubbly kindergarten student at St. George’s in Toronto, she received a gift of several different playing cards. They were all colorful, partly educational (think bright colors and illustrations for a game called Concentration), and mostly, for fun, to pass the time on say, a road trip or while staying indoors on a rainy day.  One deck of cards was for a game called “Old Maid.”  Our daughter had always expressed puzzlement over why there was only one card with a cartoon of a gray-haired bespectacled woman. She also used to jump with such glee when she ended up with the lone card. After all, the object of the game was NOT to end up with the “Old Maid” card. But to her, it was a winning card.

Old Maid playing cards, photo courtesy of www.landofnod.com

Old Maid playing cards, photo courtesy of http://www.landofnod.com

We tried to explain to her the societal construct behind the game. She refused to accept the explanation. Why would being old be a disadvantage? Why would you be a loser if you were a single woman? What if people did not want to be married? Or have children? They can still be happy, she reasoned. Her nanny, Rizza, who she was very fond of, was single, she pointed out. Rizza’s husband was with someone else. So Rizza was raising her children by herself. And, she’s doing just fine. So, there’s nothing wrong there, she would tell us, with much conviction.  We thought at the time that the complexities of life as one gets older may be too difficult to explain.

She also recalled some much admired aunts who have remained single (never married) and she wondered if they just never found the right person they wanted to spend their lives with or if they were happy coming and going as they pleased, unrestricted, untethered. All this from a thoughtful precocious four-year old!

She was right all along, of course. It was not long before the game fell out of favor and the set of cards somehow got misplaced and was forgotten. Over the years, we stopped seeing them in the neighborhood toy store. Someone out there must have come to the same conclusion as our daughter. It is after all, a cruel label that should be tossed into the world of the obsolete.

In some parts of the world, the attitudes have not really changed. There are still the well-meaning barrio elders or doting grandmothers who would bluntly ask, in public, “Why are you not married yet?” To them, the default ideal state was perpetual marital bliss with children in tow.  Sometimes, this is followed by a diatribe of consequences such as graphic descriptions of biological deteriorations or a pathetic fate into obscurity unless a suitable life partner is found.

Perhaps, one more generation has to cycle for attitudes to really change.

Posted in Civil Unions, Marriage, Marriage Equality, same-sex marriage, Single by Choice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Saturday Postcard

Postcard that arrived in the mail, photo by Likeitiz

Postcard that arrived in the mail, photo by Likeitiz

The letter carrier brought a treat to our home today.  A postcard from Hawaii.  They remembered the ritual.  I’m fuzzy and warm all over. I’ve been hugged.

I have said time and again that hand writing little notes and mailing them out is fast becoming a lost art. But why does it still give such exquisite pleasure when it makes its way to one’s doorstep?

One can argue that it does not help the trees that have to die to create the cardboard. Nor does it alleviate the carbon footprint of transporting communications over land and sea.  Email or text or social media should suffice, right?  But does it?

I get the emails. I get the social media postings. But they are so fleeting.  One glance, then delete. Or forget. But a postcard in my hand or posted on the refrigerator door is a glance away from remembering the gesture. And the affection that surrounds it.

FB Postings of Hikes and Sunrises in Hawaii, photos by Wyatt Roy

FB Postings of Hikes and Sunrises in Hawaii, photos by Wyatt Roy

In this one practice, I make no excuses. Call me outdated, old-fashioned, even antiquated. I thoroughly enjoy receiving them! If this is one guilty pleasure I have to cling to resolutely  until I can’t possibly read anymore, well, I shall!

Posted in Handwritten Letter, Hawaii, Hiking, Postcards, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

About The Half Cookie

I did say that one day, we will talk about these events, such as addressing envelopes while considering travel tags and beach bags, and we might have a good laugh. So, I thought I might memorialize some of these for future laughs here.

I did not notice that you snuck away for a second from facing the printer with your laptop on your lap. I was still stuck with you holding your breath every time the printer rumbled efficiently until it spat out a properly formatted envelope. Or not.

There you were returning a little apologetically, head peeking in first, “Is it okay if I only took half a cookie? It’s so good but I know I should not take all of it.”

Of course it’s okay. How can it be not be?

Half Cookie photo courtesy of EatJxn Erin who reviewed the Cowboy cookie from Broad Street Bakery, Jackson, MS. See what it's about at:  http://eatjackson.com/blog/2014/06/12/cowboy-cookie/

Half Cookie photo courtesy of EatJxn Erin who reviewed the Cowboy cookie from Broad Street Bakery, Jackson, MS. See what it’s about at: http://eatjackson.com/blog/2014/06/12/cowboy-cookie/

But then, I wanted to add but refrained: I hope you know what you’re getting yourself into. You are about to marry a notoriously unconscionable chocolate candy taster!

Remember the box of chocolates that Forrest Gump used to carry while he waited at the bus stop?  Well, we get a couple of those a year from friends and business associates. At this house, whenever I get around to opening any of them, they have all been picked on, with rejects half eaten or nibbled on and returned to the box. Yes! Teeth marks and all!

You might think it’s cute now. Wait until you have to contend with rejected halves of chocolates the umpteenth time. I would recommend that you get to the boxes first!

As for the well-meaning friends and family who want to do this and that for you at this time in your life, I say, “Let them!”  We are always mindful that we should be generous givers. We also have to know how to be gracious receivers.

Posted in Family, Wedding, Wedding Invitations, Wedding Preparations | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Wolf Going, Gone!

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Posted in Betta Fish, Death, Illness, Pet Fish, Pets | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Daughter Chronicles: Of Beheaded Barbies and Blind Beanie Babies

Beheaded Barbie by Parker Yee, photo by Lily Yee

Beheaded Barbie by Parker Yee, photo by Lily Yee

I remember traveling to Europe with my mother and my sister, Manette, in the Spring of 1980. We had just graduated, she from high school and me from college. This was to be our graduation gift. We had joined a tour that was to begin in California This was to be our one and only experience in a tour group. We quickly learned that the regimented frenetic rush from one site to the next, staying long enough for a few camera clicks was just not our  idea of exploring the world.

The tour group was composed mostly of people my mother’s age, with a sprinkling of awkward teens like us. Through the trip, we oohed and ahhed over the sites, soaked up the foreign-ness of the culture and customs, and indulged on the varied cuisines. We also noticed some smaller details.

A few ladies washed their hair only every so often. They timed these tasks when the hotel we would stay in had a salon. Their hair was always perfectly coiffed. You have to understand, we came from a tropical country, where it was not unheard of to shower more than once a day.

They repeated their clothes!  Living in a suitcase forced you to do that. We learned we had to wear our jeans more than once before we washed them on the tub at night. Again, in the tropics, we just could not do that without risking the social faux pas of body odor preceding us. What’s more, when you wash your clothes, they are usually dry within that morning from the heat. So, there is no excuse. But, not in the temperate climates, we learned.

Hummel Figurine Titled Sunshower, Original MI Hummel Collection, as seen on www.cuckooclocks.com

Hummel Figurine Titled Sunshower, Original MI Hummel Collection, as seen on http://www.cuckooclocks.com

They collected all sorts of things. Hummel figurines, demitasse spoons with the town or country’s emblem, key chains, fridge magnets, or whatever else was peddled by the tourist traps that draped around the major sites.

I had often wondered what happened after the gush of discovery, the lining up to pay, and the lugging around in suitcases. Over the years, I have been privy to a few kitchens and family rooms adorned with these memorabilia.

I have repeatedly asked to myself, “Then what?”

What does one do with these things? These collectibles? I am reminded of Roz Chast’s memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, which is about taking care of her elderly parents on their last few years. She talked about having to close their apartment when they were finally moved to assisted living, but not before Roz had the gargantuan task of organizing, discarding, sorting, and discarding about 70 years of pack rats’ lives.

Vintage Fine Silver Demitasse Souvenir Spoon, as seen on www.ebay.ie

Vintage Fine Silver Demitasse Souvenir Spoon, as seen on http://www.ebay.ie

In the 31 years that I have been married, I did make a few attempts at collecting something. I figured it made for interesting conversation. I rationalized it would make for a novel side preoccupation, one I could call my own. I had collected vintage stamps and coins when I was in high school. (I was disappointed to hear later that my mother had given the entire collection away when she packed our home in Manila to renovate our house. I had married and moved to Toronto by then.) It all started when I found an old Japanese-made English teapot in an antiques store near Haliburton, Ontario.

I discovered that I was an efficient collector. It did not take long to accumulate a significant number of tea pots. I thought of how I might want to display them. But my abhorrence for the cluttered look prevented me. And so, I stopped. Cold.

I started asking myself, “What will happen to the teapots when I’m gone? My daughter would not care for so many. She likes tea, but not this much.  Also, most homes have hot water dispensers now. So having to go through all that trouble to fill a kettle, boil the water and all that has become unnecessary.

Close up shot of a massive Barbie sculpture as featured on Huffington Post, Photo by Sculpture By The Sea.

Close up shot of a massive Barbie sculpture as featured on Huffington Post, Photo by Sculpture By The Sea.

When our daughter was growing up, she received a Barbie doll as a present. This was soon followed by another from a well-meaning relative who lived far away. Pretty soon, she had a few she could line up on a table. Some were considered “premium” for the outfit they were wearing. There were two I recalled that had the word “collectible” on their boxes. None of these mattered. Soon, all the Barbies were naked. And headless. The tiaras and other adornments were nowhere to be found. So much for this collection.

And then there were the cute huggable Beanie Babies. I learned that some families held parties just for the purpose of showing these accumulated cuddlies. They did fill our daughter’s bed for a brief period. Then they became soldiers in combat or imaginary hostages needing rescue missions. Needless to say, a few became casualties of war. There were those who came back sans limb, eyes, ears, or whiskers. So much for that collection too!

A whole lot of Beanie Babies as features in thingsifoundatthethriftstore.wordpress.com, titled Plight of the Beanie Babies

A whole lot of Beanie Babies as features in thingsifoundatthethriftstore.wordpress.com, titled Plight of the Beanie Babies

What happens when the world is overrun with beheaded Barbies, beanie babies with missing limbs, or discarded demitasse spoons? Can all the landfills of the world ever accommodate them once they have worn out their welcome?  Would we need such expansive living spaces if we did not hoard so much?

I had said in my welcome to 2015 post that I would live the next 365 days with two important realizations. Well, here’s a third one that I started soon after I wrote that post. Simplify. Cull. De-clutter. De-bulk.

At first, it seemed like such a daunting task. But when I broke it down to one cabinet or drawer at a time, it became doable. Not insurmountable. And believe me! You could not imagine some of the things I found. My let’s-find-you-a-new-home pile was neck and neck with the recycle pile.

Fait Accompli! Debulked, de-cluttered, and simplified my closet!

Fait Accompli! Debulked, de-cluttered, and simplified my closet!

And, after each reorganized closet, ahh! The satisfaction!

P.S. I can’t help but wonder. I keep hearing about how, in spite of the U.S. Economy supposedly emerging from the abyss, with jobs available again, retailers for durable goods are still complaining. The GDP has still not improved. Could it be that the seemingly insatiable appetite for ownership of any and all merchandise dangled in front of us has finally waned? Has America gotten over the nouveau riche proclivities? Certainly, our children’s’ generation thinks nothing of all these trappings. Theirs is the generation that shares almost everything. Goodwill store finds are vintage. Mismatched table ware is au courant.  Most don’t even want nor see the need to own their own vehicle. There’s always Uber or Lyft to take them places. I envy their lack of attachment.

Posted in Family, Memoir, Memorabilia, mother-daughter relationship, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Beau Among the Daffodils

It’s been a few days since I got back from my long trip. On the night I arrived, it was quite dark by the time we drove into our driveway.

Daffodils all blooming in our front yard. (C) Photo Credit Likeitiz

Daffodils all blooming in our front yard. (C) Photo Credit Likeitiz

The next morning, over coffee, my hubby asked, “Have you seen your flowers yet, Hon? They’re all blooming outside.”

Daffodils along our driveway, Photo Credit Likeitiz

Daffodils along our driveway, Photo Credit Likeitiz

True enough, my daffodils were in full bloom. The buds were starting to come out when we left late in February. I was concerned about the premature sprouting, which was encouraged by our unseasonable warm winter. I was afraid of a sudden frost that might just choke them. But, here they are!

Beau among the Daffodils, Photo Credit Likeitiz

Beau among the Daffodils, Photo Credit Likeitiz

Even Beau has been walking around looking at the bright beauties with much curiosity. I can’t blame him. They are a sight to behold. Ah, indeed, Spring is here.

Posted in daffodils, Flowers, spring | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments