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Baby Boomer Lola by Linda P. Jacob - 2w ago

Imagining there is gives comfort to my daughter who just lost her beloved Oliver, a handsome and loving German Shepherd who succumbed to cancer. On his 12th year of age, and diagnosed only a few weeks ago, Ollie seemed to be his usual determined self, loving the walks on the Atlanta Beltline a few blocks from where my daughter, her husband and their three German Shepherd dogs reside. As soon as my daughter and her husband (the doggies’ Mommy and Daddy) heard of the shocking news, they decided to give Ollie the best time of his life and took him on his favorite activity, walking every day, allowing him to lead them to places he favored. His best was Ladybird. How did Mommy and Daddy know? Every time they walked by that place, Ollie would pull them to that direction. Ladybird is a dog friendly restaurant that offers delicious grilled meat. Furthermore, the staff, servers and customers are all so very friendly, and Oliver basked in the attention. But who wouldn’t pay notice to Ollie who always looked regal, long ears straight up, and a poise that showed so much aplomb. Best of all, he was quite friendly himself and captivated with generous smiles. At 5 a.m. of Friday, I received a heartbreaking call from my daughter. Oliver had passed. While the vet’s diagnosis of two weeks before indicated that Ollie could last weeks or months, losing him in two weeks was traumatic. If Mommy and Daddy sorely miss him, so do his two sisters, Marley and Daisy. After all, Oliver was the oldest of the three pet dogs, protective leader of the batch and looked up to by his two doting sisters. He was Big Brother. Though Ollie got the royal treatment every day especially since the diagnosis, his passing was still heartbreaking. I could almost hear my daughter’s tears for a pet dog that had become integral to the family, one so loved and who loved back so well. I grieved with her. I’m the doggies’ “Grandmama”. And grandmama dearly remembers Oliver’s ways, his pranks, and his attentive protective nature. I remember him watching guardedly while seated on the tiled floor beside where I stood by the kitchen sink, with his deep hazel eyes focused on me. He would not follow his Mommy’s call to go upstairs for bedtime until I finished washing the dishes or my work in the kitchen was done. When I turned off the kitchen lights to go upstairs, then he would bound up the stairs and station himself on the landing like a regular sentinel. When my late husband and I visited my daughter and her husband and stayed in their home, Oliver would wake us up in the morning with gentle licks on the cheeks. Somehow, Ollie understood that grandmama preferred soft cuddles instead of licks, and so that’s what he gave me. The housekeeper loved Oliver for his handsome and “gentlemanly” ways. She would ask him to give her his paw, and together, they would waltz around the room, with Oliver stretched upright and his front paws resting in the housekeeper’s hands. That dance, always curiously delightful and amusing, made me think of beauty and the beast, with the lovable beast turning into a stately prince. Of course, Ollie stayed a handsome German Shepherd prince, and that was enough for everyone. Ah, the young Oliver was rambunctious, often bounded over the patio walls like a horse, and sprinted back and forth over the backyard hill as though in a race. What often triggered that frenzy was Daddy’s throwing the monstrous toy bone to the far corner of the fence, and Ollie would rush for it and bring it back, holding it in his mouth like a prize. He was adventurous and would try to escape to the outside. Many times, Daddy went looking for him and would find him in the company of a kind neighbor who tried to keep him at bay while waiting for the owner to claim him. And once, Daddy rushed to his side on the street after being hit by a car. That sight broke his Daddy’s heart, who carried heavy Oliver in his arms and took him to a vet to be examined. To Daddy’s and Mommy’s relief, there was no major injury to Ollie who recovered quickly and was manageable for a while, until the next mischief, which was again to adventure outdoors. Whenever we came into and out of my daughter’s and her husband’s home, we had to be super careful in opening and shutting the door to make sure Ollie didn’t escape out. Of course, Oliver got old and became more docile, but always remained spirited. His attention, faithfulness and love for the family stayed steadfast and strong. His handsome, regal look and good nature never waned.  That night before Ollie passed, Mommy lay by his side on his cushioned bed, gently stroking his back and whispering assurances of love.  She fell asleep with her arm on his back.  And when she awoke a few hours after, she felt no movement under her arm.  Reality struck hard. During that 5 a.m. call from my daughter, in between sobs and tear jerks, she ruminated over Oliver strutting on the colored rainbow bridge to dog heaven –- and I said yes, he is. I do not know if there indeed is a rainbow bridge that connects to dog heaven, but I would like to think there is … or a dog heaven where God’s dogs and other animals play their jubilant games and delight in the presence of the Maker. For those that we love and lose – we conjure beautiful pictures that lighten the burden of grief … and transform the pain and the sorrow into joyful memories that live in the heart forever. Linda P. Jacob
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Last week, I stayed tuned in to a NASA broadcast that featured a Q&A forum presided by a high-ranking NASA Executive. Not sure if it was a taped broadcast, but it definitely sounded recent. The subject of the discussion revolved around planned missions to the moon and Mars. Space exploration. That subject fascinates me. So, I stated tuned in. One question stood out. Why does the US need to engage in exploring the moon? The NASA rep elaborated on details of the mission’s goals, among which were: – Why not – a lot of countries are pursuing their travel to and exploration of the moon. The US wants to be on the forefront of all space exploration. – Apollo missions have shown the presence of water ice caps on the moon, as well as elements that are thought to be results of meteor fallouts and solar emissions from billions of years. These elements are not present on the earth. All these would be resources for research that would benefit the earth and its inhabitants. – Studies of the moon may lead to knowledge of whether it is habitable or not. – The moon can be the jump board for travel to and exploration of Mars, and later, other bodies in the solar system. The NASA speaker projected that 20 years hence, the moon could be found to be habitable.  My conjecture is, he won’t be saying that if current research or findings from space missions do not lead to such speculation. Understandably, only some information from space exploration travels is filtered to the public. But it is remarkable that those supposedly “in the know” advance predictions that somehow suggest the direction and progress of lunar research. Of note, he said, the Greek god Apollo (after which the space mission was named) has a twin sister, Artemis. We are the Artemis generation (referring to the present world’s population spanning ages), and it is this Artemis generation that will experience habitation of the moon. Habitation on the moon! Sounds like a major event prophesied by the Marvel narratives. But with the speed science and technology are progressing, this indeed could turn a reality. Fascinating! I was in graduate school when I watched the first moon walk televised around the world. I was then with a group of students just come back from a day of field work spent in conducting surveys on media communication in communities. Tired and hungry, some 12 of us grad students and two faculty advisors ate our dinner before a black and white TV, gloated and cheered while the Miss Universe contest winners were announced, and yelled victoriously when the winner was Ms. Philippines Gloria Diaz. We went giddy with shrieks of delight. Beauty and brains, remarked many. Silly, but we all took the victory very personally, and each felt to be the crowned queen, walking the plank with the jeweled crown balanced precariously on the head. In the midst of all the raucous celebration in the room, we were suddenly silenced by a solemn voice on the tube as the pictures changed. Appeared were hazy shots of the first moon landing. The sudden shift of mood was dramatic. Silent awe settled in as we all stared at the slow movement of two humans clad in white heavy space suits. The image seemed dreamy – like it was fantasy. Yet is was so real! Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969. It is reported that they brought back to earth the first samples from another planetary body. Think how that boosted earth and outer space research and exploration, not to mention the scientific, technological and health benefits for humanity now and the future. Over the years, new knowledge and research progress have been achieved. First, man alighted on the moon 50 years ago, and now, we aim to live on it? This NASA official on TV remarked that it won’t be a surprise if 20 years hence we find the moon to be habitable! Sometimes I gaze at a full moon at night and reach out pretending to touch it – a quirk I’ve had since I was a little girl — but live on the moon? I don’t know how that would blur my romantic notion of that brilliant heavenly body that hides and reappears as it glides magnificently across the sky. Linda P. Jacob
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Food is the magnet for gatherings. Don’t you agree? An amusing phenomenon hard to deny and easy to accept, I dare say. Often, a common remark to someone you hadn’t seen in a while – let’s get together for coffee or lunch. I said just that to relatives from Daly City whom I had not seen in over three years. A mini-reunion, one might consider. It was so delightful to see my 92-year-old auntie, and her children. A cousin from Union City and her family and I met them at one of the best buffet seafood restaurants I’d been to. At past 1 p.m., my group was starved, so we started to eat before the Daly City folks arrived. That was quite all right, since we ended up indulging in that restaurant for nearly two hours, just leisurely savoring every dish our eyes could take fancy on. Eyes are usually “greedier” than the stomach, and for some reason, we give in to our eyes. Did that happen to me? Kind of, I admit. I particularly fancied the boiled clams, baked salmon and spiced crab dish. I ravished them all; none wasted. Though my gut hesitated with the steak flanks. Not to forget, the company was outstanding. Spending time with kins is truly heartwarming, especially when memories of old times resurge, stories of past funny incidents bring joyous laughter, and kind banter ricochets  around the table for comical moments – and as the teasing and story-telling grow, so does the eating. But in this gathering, there was someone sorely missed, my auntie’s husband who passed two weeks before. That auntie, my Mama’s younger sister, was almost never out of the house without her husband. They were a team that did most things together. So that day was not without nostalgia and grief. Somehow, when grief is felt with family or loved ones, the rough edges are honed smooth to lessen the pain. It was that way in our mini-reunion, a lot of bitter-sweet moments along with the joys. The party is never over in a few hours when relatives meet. We moved the party to my auntie’s home where she lives with her daughter and her family. That setting was more conducive to louder conversation and hearty laughter. More relatives came to join in the conviviality. What stirred the company into friskier party mood was the karaoke that was started as soon as we sat down, though in between songs were more catching up and more stories. My cousin’s son, a handsome young man in his mid-20’s, was the star of the marathon singing with his magnificent voice. He brought his fiancé, a very lovely young lady soft-spoken and demure in her ways. They plan to marry next year in Naga City, Philippines, where my auntie’s family comes from. This couple reminded me of my husband and me when we were young. It was my husband’s splendid tenor voice when he sang that first caught my serious attention. I wondered if it was the same for this young lady. She looked enraptured when her groom-to-be performed some contemporary love songs. But we all were enthralled. Music has a mysterious way of speaking to the heart. Especially when my 92-year-old auntie held the microphone and belted out song after song, after song. Wow! She knew more old hits than any of us. Of course, I couldn’t resist the microphone. Pretending at first, not to want to sing, I clutched it tightly, lest anyone should grab it from me – and I crooned away two Johnny Mathis melodies. That felt really good. I wanted to do more, but the mic went back to my auntie, and my cousins, and more cousins that arrived, and the young man. It was only when the pizza arrived that the robust singing became a lull. What a joyful and lively get-together that started with food, and ended with food. We promised ourselves, we would get together again in that same format – food, music and zesty conversation every three months. But guess what – we’re meeting in over two weeks, for the commemoration of my late uncle’s 40th day after his passing. After the prayers, will we party again? Who knows! Linda P. Jacob
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Atlanta, Georgia has always fascinated me. It was the setting for Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind”, an epic story set around America’s Civil War. Atlanta today is far from the Atlanta of Mitchell’s 1936 novel, but somehow, the city exudes that esoteric charm and classic sophistication mingled with the cutting edge and contemporary … and a cryptic tinge of the southern ways. I visited Atlanta, the second in two years, spent a week’s vacation with my daughter, her husband and their three big German Shepherd dogs. This time, Atlanta held a new fascination for me. It’s called the BeltLine. The BeltLine is Atlanta’s 22-mile project designed to loop around the city and aimed at redefining and reviving the economy of the communities. The loop is based on the city’s old railroad pathway. Business and residential construction and development abound. Both sides of the BeltLine feature modern commercial and housing structures. The BeltLine rolls out between rows of new upscale apartments and townhouses and scores of fine restaurants. The pedestrian trail attracts walkers, hikers, joggers, bikers. The path is off limit to cars, though scooters are allowed. I was amused by the parade of mothers and fathers pushing baby carriages, while talking on their cell phones. The culture of modern civilization pans out right before your eyes on the Beltline. Rhet and Scarlett of Gone with the Wind, if here today, may relate to the charm of the environment, though definitely not recognize the accoutrement surrounding it. But love the nuances, maybe. In two directions, the BeltLine starts a few blocks from my daughter and son-in-law’s home in Inman Park. The proximity is a motivation to walk. The first walks on the slight incline made me pant, and I tried to camouflage the panting (this Lola isn’t old) – but it slowed me down. The goal of reaching the restaurant provided the push. So, I quickened my steps knowing that a few minutes soon would come the reward of delicious food. As you may have guessed, we made several walks for a primary purpose — dine at what I consider among the best restaurants I’ve been to. I brought California to Atlanta on my week’s vacation in May. And I brought California back to the Bay Area when I returned to Palo Alto. Silly, isn’t it? But that’s exactly what the weather was in Atlanta when I was there – warm and not so humid, blue skies and bright sunshine the whole time. In California? I was told that it was rainy and chilly most of the week, until the Tuesday I got back. The truth, I didn’t cause the weather, though I hoped and prayed for a pleasant one in Atlanta for my mini vacation. The delightfully warm climate enticed us to spend the Saturday and Sunday by the poolside at the Atlanta country club. Not a swimmer, but to my surprise, I found myself hours in the pool. With water up to my shoulders, I worked the routine of jumping up and down and treading the waters slowly back and forth. Most interesting was chatting with others who dipped in the pool to enjoy the feel of warm water, or watch their children swim, or teach their toddlers to float. The gentle movement of the waters felt like a soft massage interrupted only by occasional splash from frolicking kids. I climbed up for barbecue lunch at the poolside, and went right back in for another 2-3 hours. This Lola felt like a nymph of the water. Playing in the pool is an activity I had not done in years. It seemed to me, however, that more than half of those that went to the pool chose to lie on beach chairs and get tanned. In fact, some never even dipped in the water. The turquoise waters were certainly inviting, but not enough to draw sun bathers off their seats. Mischief lurked — I felt the urge to splash the tanners with water from the pool. Trust me, though tempted, I didn’t. Not everything I did during my vacation was food-centric, whimsical or playful. I did some serious touring of the Museum of CDC (Center for Disease Control). While charged with overseeing the general health of the American population, CDC also seeks to improve the control of diseases around the world, and achieve better and advanced ways of preventing, detecting, diagnosing and treating infectious diseases. It has also led efforts to study and promote vaccines to prevent the onset of disease, as well as monitor, guide and lead policies for the health welfare of the population in this country and globally. Very important in CDC’s work is its role in the prevention of bioterrorism. At the museum, I spent almost two hours reading and viewing write-ups, pictures and graphics demonstrating the start and evolution of CDC. Its beginning was prompted by the outbreak of malaria toward the end and after World War II. Since then, it has spearheaded efforts in research aimed at discovering, diagnosing and curtailing diseases as polio, influenza, HIV, Ebola, zika and other viral epidemics. Quite an attraction at the museum was the exhibit of the heart lung, a big cylindrical machine used to contain and treat patients before therapeutic advances were made. Not to forget – I saw the home of the highly celebrated civil rights proponent, Martin Luther King. His home, now a museum, somehow stirs awe for a legendary hero who to this day inspires the conscience of society. During my first visit of Atlanta, my daughter accompanied me on a tour of CNN headquarters and center of broadcast operations, definitely an educational experience.  She and my son-in-law also drove me around the campus of Emory University. There’s more to explore in this historic city – perhaps, at my next visit. Linda P. Jacob
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Have you ever walked to a glass wall thinking it’s the exit, and bumped your head to full alertness and chagrin? I have, just yesterday. Luckily, the glass didn’t break – and I was not hurt. That happened after a hearty breakfast at the bakery in a market across from my daughter’s Atlanta home. Slowly walking the vicinity and checking out adjacent stores and food take-outs, I recounted the little incidents that happened as I leisurely munched on egg and ham sandwich and sipped mocha latte richly topped with cream. What seemed like an uneventful morning turned out to be a very interesting hodgepodge of amusing occurrences. Proof that nothing is uninteresting or dull. Trivial, maybe, but with quirky significance. Upon waking up that morning, I decided on a short trek to the square building that housed the market across the street. My goal was to buy breakfast from the bakery. Wearing slippers and a ruffled blouse didn’t bother me. No one knew me there anyway. A long line fronted the counter where food orders were made. Someone called my attention from the line, a young man I had met and been introduced to by my daughter the night before. He operated the fast food store two corridors away. Nice, he remembered me, and introduced me to the girl with him – as the Mom of one of his store’s frequent customers. My second day in Atlanta, and someone recognized me after half a minute of introduction and chat. I wasn’t even with my daughter that time. Quite impressive. Perhaps because I had a quizzed look as I checked the list of food offerings, the girl with that young man volunteered descriptions of food sold at that take-out place, and emphasized that the egg sandwich was the best. So egg sandwich it was, and I didn’t regret it, remembering the indecision about what to eat when I walked to the market. Life does get easier when you get unexpected “little helpers” that churn speed into the decision process and make it less daunting. Especially when you’re hungry! Half way through my mocha latte, a female in her 20’s approached me and asked if I was Molly. She and her two friends eating at the far corner were obviously waiting for a Molly they hadn’t met. Quietly, I said no, wondering what Molly was being waited for. Ten minutes later, that same female popped up from her seat and approached a tall, slender, smartly dressed lady in six-inch pumps waiting for her coffee and asked the same question. The response was a snotty no. Five minutes later, the coffee maker announced the name Molly for her order ready on the counter. Quickly, the same female got up to meet that Molly, a girl in her late teens maybe. A brief chat ensued, and that Molly hurried away, as most customers did after picking up their order. Only this one seemed more than perplexed, almost annoyed. Then walked in an older blonde lady dressed conservatively in black who ordered her expresso. The inquiring female glanced her way, and then turned back to her conversation with her two friends. When that lady got her coffee, she looked around as though trying to decide whether she should sit down on one of the benches. At that point, the inquiring female walked to her and pitched out the reprise (can you guess?), “Are you Molly?” The lady beamed as though in relief, and was led to the small group huddled in the corner. This was a business meeting obviously, because laptops opened up, and each of the three formally shook the older lady’s hand. My curiosity tempted me to sit closer and eavesdrop -– maybe a business start-up, maybe a new class, maybe a how-to teach-in … that was very interesting to me – this lady, a baby boomer in my estimate, speaking to eager young adults who looked like they were in their 20’s. That set me thinking – if I’m to meet someone new that I hadn’t seen before, wouldn’t it be wise to ask for some description of appearance or attire? I may not have been the first to be interrogated, “Are you Molly”. I could have been the tenth or 12th in the parade of female customers that ambled in to the breakfast place. After breakfast, I passed a beverage store and craved so badly to have a diet soda. My better sense and healthier self stopped me.  As I gazed longingly to my right, mindlessly I dragged my feet to what I thought was an open door – bam! Stunned, but no big head bumping, thank God. Simply a slight one. And an embarrassment that quickly dissipated because no one was looking, so I thought. Blame that diet soda and that quirky question whirling in my head, “Are you Molly?”. I’m still craving the soda as I write this blog, and wondering who Molly was to those three young women. Have you ever thought that sometimes you’re looking for someone you hadn’t met and that someone passes before your eyes, but you don’t recognize that person until an invisible tap on your shoulder says and points, that’s the one. And sometimes, you think you’ve found that someone you’re looking for, and it turns out that isn’t the one. A phenomenon not common and not rare, but it happens. So, what’s the point? Hmmm … I don’t know … Linda P. Jacob
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A mother’s love is so magical. I cannot say enough about my Mama’s love or that of my Lola. I have written blogs as tributes to them. My words can only try, but they never do justice to the magnanimity and depth of their love. It is Mother’s Day this weekend, and fond memories of Mama and Lola come flooding back. They nestle in a special place in my heart. This blog is my tribute to some mothers in my family, all of them younger than my baby boomer age, each unique in ordinary and extraordinary ways. The common thread, however, is the deep love and caring they nurture for their children. I mention here my niece, mother of two boys and a baby girl. To sustain the family with sufficient income combined with her husband’s, she takes the night shift while the children are asleep, and the father keeps watch. When she goes home in the morning, before lying down to grab some sleep, she tends to the two boys to ready them for school, prepare their lunch boxes, check on the female toddler to make sure she’s fed and comfortable. When the boys are off to school, she takes her own breakfast and after making sure the little one is fine, she tries to sleep. Her husband stays a little while before going to work, so she can have some rest. With this routine, rarely does she get more than four hours of sleep each day of the work week. But she’s happy and feels blessed that her family’s fine. The wife of my nephew is a doctor who works long hours in the hospital. Every opportunity she gets to take time off is spent traveling with her husband and her daughter who has down syndrome. Their frequent travels locally and abroad are geared to making their daughter enjoy seeing new places and different cultures, savoring new cuisine, but especially, just spending time in interesting activities experienced together. The patience and unlimited understanding of this mother for the daughter is quite moving – likely, a significant boost to the daughter’s pleasant disposition, confidence, friendliness and social ease. On occasions when I was with this family, I would catch the mother just gazing dotingly at her daughter’s face, not saying anything, but smiling calmly and contentedly. I liked to think that the mother was simply basking in the warm sunbeams emanated from the daughter’s face. This mother’s love, combined with the father’s, serves as solid foundation for the daughter now in her mid 20’s. I think of another niece, 28 years old, on her second month of pregnancy, excited when she found out she was pregnant, yet anxious to know more about pregnancy and motherhood and what to do to prepare herself for the changes in her body.  Eager to learn new health habits.  Loving the feel of her stomach slowly growing outward.  Checking out names for a girl or a boy.  Feeling hungry all the time. That’s a lady so looking forward to being a mother.  The glint in her eyes speaks volumes. Her broad smiles speak of anticipation. If flowers start as a bud, she is a bud learning and experiencing to be a flower. A young mother in bloom. My daughter-in-law is a magnificent Mom, raising her son (my grandson almost ten in July) with discipline, yet genuinely attentive and caring. I have often noticed how she devotes time, despite the myriad chores, busy schedules and demands of being a kindergarten teacher, talking to her young boy, carrying on conversations that draw ideas and stories from him, monitoring his homework and his eating habits. Along with her husband, she provides faithful support for all her son’s work, studies, activities and endeavors. While offering the boy guidance in his ways and thought processes, she allows him to reason out or argue respectfully when he does not agree with the parent’s view. Intelligent exchange is encouraged. What especially stands out is her gentle playfulness with her son that makes for lively, fun and joyful interactions. On Facetime, I have seen all three of them – my grandson, his Mom and Dad – play games that demonstrate how this family delights in doing things together – and during these games, it wasn’t rare that the mother would get up now and then to check something cooking in the kitchen, while the two males patiently wait. What a beautiful picture that I simply enjoy watching, even over the internet. And then, my daughter, who’s visiting me in Palo Alto for Mother’s Day, reminded me that she, too, is a Mom – a mother of three big dogs, three intelligent German Shepherds that she and her husband care for: one handsome and stately male, and two lovely females. My daughter says she’s a “dog Mommy”, and I shouldn’t forget – dog Mommies are to be celebrated, too. She, indeed, is a very conscientious and attentive Mommy to those three delightful and smart pet dogs adopted when they were sheer puppies. To these mothers and mothers everywhere, Happy Mother’s Day – with special blessings! Linda P. Jacob
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Baby Boomer Lola by Linda P. Jacob - 2M ago

A welcome spice to any day is a nice surprise. Often, our days run in routine fashion that we can almost predict what occupies the next minute, the next hour. Routine is comfortable; the familiar is easy and less stressful. Now and then though, we’d like an unexpected surprise or two – the good ones, that is. I’ve had those, and I’ll tell you about some recent ones. Perhaps not spectacular, but wonderful for me — moments that bring out a laugh, a chuckle or a broad smile. Trivia, maybe, but not for me. And I hope you take interest or derive amusement in these little stories that I share. Japanese tea set Two friends and I recently enjoyed a simple tea ceremony at home. We just couldn’t decide whether we’d do it the English, Chinese, Japanese or Filipino way. Tea pot set from Kyushu, Japan My Chinese friend started the activity by opening a special tea she brought from China. She offered to make tea for us, and of course, we gladly accepted. Perfect for after dinner. Then, I brought out four unopened tea cans given to me as gifts and suggested that we taste each one – like wine tasting, only this was tea tasting. The funny thing was, we drank tea from big coffee mugs. Suddenly, I remembered I kept lovely, real tea cups, and pulled three from my collection shelf behind all the bells. But where was the tea pot? My Japanese friend hopped on the chair to search for it from the shelves where the cups sat for years. Lo and behold, she spotted the tea pot on the top shelf, with the souvenir coffee mugs! Why it wasn’t with the tea cups, I have no idea. But the cups and the pot were reunited, and after washing them, we had an authentic tea ceremony. By the way, the set came from Kyushu, Japan. I told the two ladies, I recalled vaguely that it was a birthday gift to me. That night, I racked my brain trying to remember how the tea set came to our home. It wasn’t really a birthday gift to me. It was actually my late husband’s gift from the professor he worked for, during a Christmas gift exchange. The professor brought the set from one of his business trips to Japan, and chose it for the gift exchange supposedly played in anonymous fashion. My husband was the recipient. Before the party broke up, the professor revealed that he was my husband’ secret Santa, and that the tea set was from Kyushu. When my husband came home, he handed me the gift. That was the week before Christmas – and come to think of it, that was on my birthday. So indirectly, it was a gift to me. What a lovely birthday surprise! So what I told the ladies was right – the set was a birthday gift to me. Lavender orchids Last year, a work colleague gave me an exotic and most beautiful orchid plant with lush lavender flowers. Two long stems that held a bunch of flowers were each propped against a thin, straight green stick. The flowers flourished for five months. After that, they dried up, and to this day, the dried flowers stay connected to the dry stems still propped by the green sticks. The leaves, however, have been healthy. I placed the pot by a tall window underneath a glass roof in my library/computer room. Routinely, I watered the pot every other week, but never looked closely at the orchid plant. A few weeks ago, I was surprised to see a mass of lavender flowers grown from one long stem, peeking from behind the pot. The petals show streaks of deep purple, carrying a uniquely artistic pattern. I don’t know when the flowers started to appear, nor when the buds blossomed. They just all of a sudden came out unexpectedly, it seemed, like a bunch of mischievous kids come out fresh from hiding to spring a staggering surprise. Absolutely gorgeous! I admit, I honestly don’t know the name of the orchid plant. Poinsettias I’ve never claimed to have a green thumb. So, plants that thrive inside my home actually amaze me. My poinsettia plant bought in December last year remains a stunning décor on my dining table to this time. The red profusely dominates the top of the two-feet plant. Beneath the reds grow a spread of healthy green leaves. On top of the reds are a few small greens that seem to be slowly turning red, just like the tier below them. I wonder why only one of the red leaves has fallen. The plant continues to look vibrant – not because I have (or don’t have) a green thumb! The poinsettia exudes that special holiday aura. I keep reminding myself that Christmas is still far off — though the way that time goes, it may soon be just around the corner, and 2019 just started! Ninjas by Elliot and Eliott My nine-year-old grandson and his friend have devised a series of comic books in the science fiction category, clever products of their artistic creativity, vivid imagination — and who knows, foresight? My grandson’s Dad helped to set up the website. It’s attractive, simple and easy to follow. Best of all, it works! The background blurbs on the two comics creators are interesting and intriguing. I think they were inspired by the Marvel characters, but they definitely injected their own style, energy and twists in the stories. There is no lack of humor and wit and the surprise element is ever present. To have fifty-three in their series is their goal, and they’ve completed over half. For a couple of bright young boys in their 4th grade, this is outstanding! I invite you to search the internet for “Ninjas by Elliot and Eliott”, readings that can make you feel young again – or see how a super hero is born out of a comic strip. Read More
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Good Friday. A time to contemplate the greatest love of all. We pause and yield to the thought of that dismal day so long ago, when one so perfect and innocent bore the sins of humanity, one who loves so much that He suffered and died on the cross in Calvary to redeem all of mankind. This is what Good Friday commemorates. It is a time for reflection and introspection. I write this blog in the evening of Good Friday, in stark awe mingled with humility and gratitude that one so mighty and sovereign should be humbled and crucified because He loves us all … because He loves me. And soon, it will be Easter. Great joy! The message of Jesus’ resurrection is one of hope on the wings of faith – the belief in the victory of light over darkness, of love over despair, and in Jesus’ resurrection, of life over death, and that God’s kingdom is eternal. Happy Easter one and all! I remember many happy Easters of past years. The memories are like gems. They shine and sparkle every time I take them out of my memory chest. Randomly, I take out a few to share with you. Like it was just yesterday, I recall the early morning trek my late husband and my children would make to the Stanford Frost Amphitheater to join the sunrise service. We did this for several Easters. Getting up at 5 a.m. was never easy, but it was fun and exciting to brave the nippy weather before the sun showed its face from behind the hill. When light folded out and sunshine shimmered through the trees’ foliage, it was always glorious. The services were beautiful – meaningful messages, lively, triumphant music, community singing ringing out over the hill, families celebrating together, attendees seated on blankets spread on the lawn. And of course, the fellowshipping with friends and acquaintances before the walk down the hill and the drive home was enjoyable. It was very cold that Easter day in Jeannette, Pennsylvania, but everyone in church was dressed so cheerfully and colorfully. Pastels and bright colors seemed to be the rule of the day. Mine was bright pink, a silk dress topped with a light pink jacket cut in the Jackie Kennedy style, tailored for me by my American host Mom. I was a high school exchange student then, and Easter was one of the highlights of my year’s stint in the US. The children were awfully cute – girls in their organdy frocks, and boys in suits with bow ties. While my younger sister frivolously chatted with her new boyfriend, my host parents busily introduced me to members of the church who apparently attended rarely but always went on Easter and Christmas. Meeting new folks was interesting, especially when they asked a lot of questions about the country I came from. I felt like a true young ambassador of culture and goodwill. But the lunch buffet table was most enticing. Some years ago, before my grandson was born, my son and his wife invited us to attend the Easter service held at the at Zellerbach auditorium on campus of Cal Berkeley. It was a very solemn yet energetic event, with music that throbbed joyfully and seemed to vibrate the auditorium walls. The message was even more vibrant, quite appropriate in celebrating the triumphant resurrection. After the service, attendees carried their picnic baskets to the lawn area in front of the imposing university library, claimed their spots at the far end of the slope and feasted on sandwiches and pop. The children noisily gathered for games. It was a big fun-filled party. Easter celebrated on the Berkeley campus by a church community – that was truly special. My grandson was around four years old when I watched him sprint from bush to bush in his family’s backyard, fully intent on finding the eggs colored by his Mom and his adopted auntie. He was good. He spotted the treasures and worked a very successful hunt. He found most of the eggs. I was so proud of him. That little boy knew that colors that didn’t match the green of grass or leaves must be the treasure. Either that, or the hiders didn’t do a very efficient job. Filling his basket with colored eggs made that little darling very happy – and so were we. What a delightful Easter tradition for the children. Easter morning at Santa Monica beach, a real gem. When my daughter was in college at UCLA, we went to the beach to attend a not-so-early morning service. It wasn’t sunrise. The sun glared bright and warm. The ocean was a calm blue with a few foamy waves gentle on the shore. Slight breeze blew in a whisper. The crowd had a bohemian quality. I guessed that many were artists from nearby communities. A great number were in beach attire, shorts, tank tops and floppies. A few were obviously out-of-towners, with cameras strapped around their necks, my husband, included. The preacher was a young man in jeans and a Hawaiian shirt. The worship music was folksy, pleasantly accompanied by guitars. All sat on the sand. It was a most delightful Easter celebration against a magnificent backdrop of ocean, white sand, blue sky and a couple of ships on the horizon. I remember well the Easter celebration at Calvin Crest near Yosemite, when my family joined a church camp. My son and daughter were 10- and 9-year-olds then, and waking up young children for a sunrise service is never easy. Bu not this time. They woke up excited about the Easter service in the woods. Actually, it was by the lakeside in the midst of tall redwoods on the lake shore. A wooden platform, like a balcony, stood in the middle of towering trees, and it was there where the service was held. There were readings of scriptures by attendees. Hymns were sung as sunshine broke through the trees and light danced on Read More
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Baby Boomer Lola by Linda P. Jacob - 3M ago

Easily, many delights slip notice. If we pay close attention, we can find small and big pleasures from ordinary and extraordinary things, moments that could color and brighten our day: add a lift to our step, put a smile on our face, a glow to our eye, a zing to our tone, a song in our heart. Don’t lose or waste those moments. They can enhance our perspective of life. I keep my own collection of delights and will share some with you, hoping that you, too, will find your own delights. Nikki’s Nalu, exotic kitty (Gab’s photo) –  read about Nalu in this blog Joy’s Daisy, lioness dog (Matt’s photo) – read about Daisy in this blog Recently, I spotted a mother squatting by a camellia bush on the walkway outside my home. She was speaking softly to her little girl who was obviously enjoying caressing, the petals of the red flowers. A light breeze blew some of the petals off the core, and as they drizzled and pirouetted to the ground, the little girl giggled her heart out, almost sweetly hysterical. She must have thought the shower of petals was so funny. The small laughter that chirped was infectious. The mother laughed, and so did I (though I wasn’t part of that huddle). That endearing scene was so special, because that very bush was planted by my late husband. An empty spot outside the corner of our patio prompted him to plant that camellia. Often, he checked if anyone from our homeowners’ association had the plant pulled off its roots. To our great relief, no one did. So it grew into a lovely thick bush that yielded flowers every spring to summer. This spring, as in previous years, the flowers are abundant and boldly red, tantalizing enough to magnetize that little girl to rush to the camellias and touch their velvety petals. I wanted to join the party, and play with the flowers, too. Instead, I picked one later that day and put it in a small white bowl set on my dining table. ***************** During a gathering in my sister’s house, after winning a game of chess with a young man, and in the midst of a dozen guests, my nine-year-old grandson walked to the piano and started to play his recital piece. A wonderful surprise – no urging, no coaxing – he just very confidently decided to offer his music to entertain everyone around. The music was magnificent! He played with such gusto and understanding of the movement, that it was so fascinating to watch his facial and body expression as he travelled his fingers on the ivory keys. I take great delight in my grandson’s love for music, and in playing the piano, an activity he obviously enjoys. On weekends, I try to facetime during the hour that he rehearses on the piano at his home. I sit quietly as I watch him drill through the exercises and pieces. Even the rigorous run of his fingers on the keys for routine exercise is music to my ears. His playing baseball in his community’s Little League is as much a source of enjoyment for him. His talents include drawing caricatures and composing clever plots for comics books created by him and his friend. That boy delights me in so many ways. ***************** Nalu is my niece’s exotic looking pet kitty. A very alluring cat with long black and golden-brown fur and big rounded penetrating eyes that seem to command and implore (if those two opposites could at all be possible). I messaged my niece and teased, “You sure Nalu’s an earthling?”. She responded, “Nalu says that ancient Egyptians treat their species as gifts from the gods. While myth says they were sent by aliens as spies. But she believes she’s just a lioness.” I replied, “Then likely, she’s a descendant of the Lion King.” Nalu reminds me of Daisy, a half Australian shepherd and golden retriever, one of my daughter’s pet dogs, currently the third and youngest of three in the brood. Daisy appears to be shy and demure, yet overbearing and overly protective at times. When her fur is grown long, as during the cold season, the shiny, thick golden fur around her head gives her the appearance of a lioness. Daisy and Nalu, cousins and descendants of the Lion King? If all of humanity is related, can’t all in the animal kingdom be related, too? Hmmm … an interesting thought. Nalu and Daisy — delightful and lovable! *************** Soft drops of rain on the patio outside my bedroom, especially in the evenings when I’m about to sleep – so delightfully lulling, almost like a sustained whisper of music that leads to dreamland. Or shimmering sunlight bursting through the blinds on my window, waking me from my sleep like a silent rooster crow to herald the new morning. Or the humming birds that busily flirt from one flower to another in search of nectar. Or  clouds that gather like monstrous cotton balls against the blue canvas of a sky, making shapes that tease the imagination – a winged angel perhaps, or the moustached face of a prince, or a long-haired lady with a gracefully flowing gown. Or tree branches abandonly cavorting with the wind, with leaves swishing like girls’ taffeta skirts. These are just a few of many of nature’s delights that I delight in. ******************* I will be remiss if I fail to mention food as among my favorite delights. This morning, I sat contentedly eating my simple breakfast before going to work. A big mass of light and pale yellow chiffon cake, not too sweet and soft as sponge. I like dunking the cake in my heavily milked coffee before happily gobbling it down — one of my early morning delights, as I ready to face the day. I am so thankful that I found a store where I can buy these chiffon cakes. I store several in my refrigerator. For lunch today, Read More
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A puzzlingly fun adventure on a mixed weather day. Oxi-moronic (opposites), but it happened for me. My first solo trip to San Francisco from Palo Alto (California) – that alone, made my criteria for adventure. It started at 7 in the morning, on a dark and blustery day. It wasn’t exactly solo … well, I ubered. What would have normally taken a little over one hour took two slow hours in the midst of persistent downpour and dense traffic on the 280 freeway, with a penitent driver who repeatedly apologized for the agonizing turtle-paced flow. I actually didn’t mind. The pitter-patter of rain was lulling me to doze on the back seat. Uh, I almost forgot – yes, I did mind! I needed to make the 9 a.m. appointment. That anxiety actually perked me back to awareness every time my head nodded for a doze. The movement of cars on the road was painfully slow – and the clock on the dashboard was mercilessly ticking fast. Oh yes, I minded. But I kept my cool. Finally, on the dot, I stepped out of the car and rushed through the door of the building for my 9 a.m. appointment! That seemed like a miracle to me. And guess what, as I half jogged to the building, sunshine burst out through the gloomy clouds – only to hide again as I walked out after my appointment. This time, I chose not to spend $101.40 on ubering, so I asked pedestrians outside what bus to take to the San Francisco train station. Mixed information that I had to muddle through. I even asked someone who barely spoke English but gestured wildly as though his arms and hands could spit out the words. But I got to the Caltrain station just fine. Rain turned to a pleasant mist this time, and it looked like the clouds were clearing up to give way to the blue. After a 20-minute wait, I was happily positioned inside the train – my first time to travel in Caltrain by myself. That brought a torrent of memories of when my husband and I would hop on the train on some weekends, just to go to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s wharf to eat those long, big, fat shrimp sandwiches outside of Alioto’s restaurant. I was so tempted to find the bus to Fisherman’s Wharf for a shrimp sandwich, but thought, nah! Not by myself. The train ride was relaxing, except for bursts of coughing behind me and on the other side of the aisle. I had actually forgotten how the sound of train tires on the railways were so stimulatingly monotonous (another oxi-moron). The audio was like the weird sound effects of whole sceneries panning out on both sides, sometimes just fields, but often a blur of buildings, stores and streets. Unlike the early morning rain, the sound of wheels screeching on the rails didn’t drowse me out. I eagerly looked at every scenery and watched passengers get off and come on board. A total mix of age, attire and looks. A serious crowd. No one smiled. Except the cute little toddler secure in his father’s arms. The voice on the speaker announced Palo Alto. My turn to amble toward the exit for a quick dismount. Everyone moved efficiently, though not hurriedly it seemed. Then I walked to the bus stop. If I had known I’d wait for 40 minutes, I could have tried to hike home, and would have probably reached my place in an hour. But I was glad I waited. Forty minutes of standing and waiting weren’t spent in idle impatience. Things were happening around me which, to the disinterested onlooker, could be trivial, ordinary and insignificant. Not to me. A group of young men, mostly teenagers, was waiting for the bus as well. One kid, in a wheelchair, was constantly yelling and making jerking moves with his head. It was an ailment-caused behavior, apparently. While sympathy for this boy was unavoidable, what struck me as outstanding was the gentle, kind and caring attention his caretaker gave him – softly speaking with him to engage the boy in conversation, or showing him interesting details nearby, or massaging his head as the boy shook it wildly from side to side. This man spoke both English and Spanish to two of the kids in the group. He looked Mexican, in my estimate, medium height and, as I noticed, always by the side of the boy in the wheelchair. Such kindness, patience and genuine concern showed clearly on his face. No rebuke in his voice at all; just a comforting assurance. A soft-spoken man attending gently to a yelling and wildly restless boy. That image stuck in my mind as I approached my bus for the trip home. But before I climbed the bus, I caught sight of a man lying down on the cemented ground in the far corner of a walkway. Initially, I thought it was a homeless man stretched out for a nap. I looked again. The man stood up and extended his arm to wave at an approaching female. The guy was tall and neatly dressed, not at all looking rugged or frayed as I expected. He was in a bus driver’s uniform, so he most likely was grabbing a quick rest before resuming his route. The woman was also in a driver’s uniform. She was tall and blond. I continued to watch as the bus was holding for more passengers. I could not look away from the couple at the far corner beyond the bus stop. It obviously was a romantic tryst aiming to be not so obvious. I wondered how many routes had to be driven before that blissful meeting. I wished them well in my mind, and turned my gaze away as my bus rolled on. I had a fun adventure filled with meanderings that began with an anxiety-ridden ride to San Francisco for an early morning appointment, on a Wednesday that started dark Read More

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