I Believe I Can Fly

My friends in church know that my favorite part of the chicken is the neck. Each time we have a potluck fellowship, which is often, they would give me all the necks. 

Sometimes I gather as many as a dozen and I would be up to my neck with necks. Marvelous! 

This was up until I went for my next medical work-up. My cholesterol shot through the rafters. After making me confess what my diet consisted of and what my favorite foods were, my doctor said, “Enough of chicken neck!”

I found out later that one neck with skin is the biggest source of cholesterol in a chicken—all 159 calories of it—that will take 36 minutes of walking to burn!

What now?

I decided to switch to wings. One piece has only 99 calories and will take 20 minutes to burn. Well, I thought, I walk one hour a day so that should take care of wings.

About this time, my husband and I visited our grandson, Adrian, in California. When one day the little one chose to dine at Wing Zone, my pulse sprinted. Grace in food baskets—all the wings one could eat!
I had enough wings to make me fly that day.

Now that I am back home, I should remember to tell my friends that I have switched from necks to  wings. Since wings come in pairs, I should be getting 24 instead of a dozen in our next potluck fellowship.

“I believe I can fly,” is an apt song to sing at this point.

(I am poor in Math, so I could not compute how many calories two dozens of wings would add up to.) 


Tiger Lily

“They call me a tiger because I am strict, a disciplinarian,” laughed Auntie Lily, in her self-deprecating humor.

She is not really my auntie; she’s Tony’s favorite cousin, four years his senior, but since everyone calls her Auntie Lily then so be it.
Over the years, her huge, rambling house in LA has been home to many of her nephews and nieces from the Philippines, who had opted to study in the US.

“I would see to their needs, drive them to school, and cook them their meals. All of them, together with my two growing children, had to obey my rules or there would be chaos.”

Now with families and homes of their own, her former wards speak warmly of her and hold her in high esteem, calling her their second mom.

Fact is, Auntie Lily is everything but a tiger.

She is all steel outside, but all heart inside. Her house is now an empty nest, a commodious empty nest, where she and her husband (a retired surgeon) dabble in their hobbies and are aging gracefully.

They welcomed Tony and me to their home, as they did last year, for a wonderful week full of fun and food. We feasted on lauriat after lauriat, grace galore, whether at home or in a restaurant. Auntie Lily and Tony would reminisce the good old days when they were playmates and when Tony was perpetually punished for being the naughty one.

Her husband, who does great Chinese paintings and who reads three books at a time, was a kindred spirit.

I took photos of their huge mansion and garden (about only one tenth is trod on daily). These hardly capture their graciousness, which makes this home so livable and lovable. 


Stay Out of Jail

What motivates one to commit a crime?

Whenever I read about hardened convicts who commit crimes and are sent to jail, unmindful of the harm they had inflicted upon man and society, I am stumped.

Son #1 has this simplistic answer: they have no conscience.

I asked this question again when daughter-in-law, G, graciously took Tony and me to the infamous Alcatraz, also called The Rock, in San Francisco.

She’d been there a few times, but for us, she took the trip again.  I was there, too, once long ago, but not Tony.

So we headed to the once-impenetrable prison island, but closed in 1963, when three prisoners escaped through an elaborate route that took the guards by surprise. They were never caught nor found. Many believed they had died. But as late as 2015, there were reports that they survived the escape and may still be alive.

Today, there are earphones that enable guests to listen to the history of the place, highlighted by interviews and actual re-enactment of escape attempts, complete with sound effects.

This made me realize how dangerous it must have been for the wardens to supervise hardened criminals, whose devious minds were preoccupied with escaping or causing trouble.

The riots and escape attempts have been documented or romanticized in many movies and books. G bought me one in the gift shop, because author/historian Jolene Babyak was there in person, book signing. Her bio says she grew up in Alcatraz as her father was one of the associate wardens of the penitentiary. I turned into a fan.

“Breaking the Rock” is well researched—an exciting read. A bit pricey, as new books usually are anywhere in the world, but with the author’s signature, I feel it is worth more than its cost.

Visiting the penitentiary gives one the creeps, especially if you let your imagination run wild. It is not a happy place. It’s more like an ugly scar of a gaping wound that took years to heal. 

If I may add to son #1’s comment . . . the inhabitants of those cells looked the other way and ignored the grace that would have kept them out of jail.


Panning for Gold

People go gaga over gold. And why not? It’s the world’s most precious metal.

Remember the California gold rush in 1848?  Before then, the place was simply an agrarian state. But after gold was discovered there, California became a fast-growing and exciting part of the US.

Adrian’s class recently went on a field trip to the Kennedy Gold Mine in Jackson, California and we were happy kibitzers.

A bit of a background: The Kennedy Gold Mine (named for Irish immigrant Andrew Kennedy) was one of the deepest mines in the world at 5912 feet.

I write about it in the past tense because it was closed in 1942, but has been reopened as one of California's historical landmarks.

Prospected in 1860, the Kennedy Gold Mine tested and purified gold by fire and produced approximately $34,280,000 worth of this treasure, according to the CA Dept. of Conservation.

Volunteers toured us around as they explained what was left of this heritage site. The kids were curious, asking all the right questions.

Then the coup de grace: pan for gold!      

After listening to a few funny quips and clear instructions by an elderly volunteer, the kids set out to do it. Adrian didn’t need any help, but his doting grandpa thought he did.

They had gathered a vial of gold dust, over which Adrian complained, “It would have been more had I done it my way, not Angkong’s.” Haha!

It was a fun day visiting an era when people in California—many of whom died due to accidents and chemicals—had their fill of gold.

Which brings me to what Scripture says about something far greater than gold—faith:

 “. . . troubles test your faith as fire tests how genuine gold is. Your faith is more precious than gold, and by passing the test, it gives praise, glory, and honor to God. This will happen when Jesus Christ appears again.” 1 Peter 1:7 (GWT)


Freshly Baked Bread

In son #2’s home in the US, we often woke up to the aroma of freshly-baked bread.

It beckoned us to the breakfast table, where we’d give it our full attention—but not before singing our grace, “For health and strength and daily bread, we praise thy name oh, Lord. Amen.”
“Why go through all the trouble of baking your own bread when there is an ocean of them in bake/bread shops?” I asked.

“To avoid preservatives,” he replied simply.

It made perfect sense.

Being a doctor, son #2 knows how preservatives (small harmless doses every day could build up and become lethal to one’s body system) can affect our health and strength. Anyway, that thought never crossed my mind whenever we ate bread here at home.

Now it does. And with it comes the yummy thought of how good mornings began in his and his family’s home, which was Tony’s and mine, too, for a month or so in the Spring of 2017.

On my first morning back in the Philippines, I was awakened by the songs of birds that circle our trees in the yard and roost on our eaves. I sort of missed the aroma of freshly baked bread, but hey, life has different seasons.

With the avian melodies came the season of home.