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Please be aware that my spelling and grammar suck!  If it bothers you please don't let it, just go away...

Saturday, December 6, 2008


I have mentioned several times in my blog, about first times, first things.  Tonight was Nikki's ninth birthday. I know for many years as my birthday approaches I don't really look forward to it. It's not the getting older bit, because I know I'm aging like a fine wine, but just the attention that people want to throw on you.  I think most mean well.  But maybe holidays in general would mean more if they were celebrated every five years, rather than every year.  Just think how exciting the holidays would become.  Getting back to the main point here, Nikki's birthday.  We don't get to see the kids that "live" here on the weekend during the week so we celebrated a few days early.  Nikki is from a very poor family.  She doesn't speak a word of English, except when she sits next to me and repeats all my words.  She has the most beautiful smile that runs from ear to ear.  Nikki does go to school and she is a good student,
but English is really coming slow to her.  "Without question let's have a birthday party for this little girl this weekend" I said to my friend Mira when she asked if I wanted to celebrate.  Mira is Nikki's aunt.  
I left the cake buying up to Mira, and asked her to buy Nikki a Barbie doll.  I had heard someone say that Nikki loved Barbie dolls.  As I walked down the stairs  Saturday morning I sang a rousing  quick little Happy Birthday to Nikki, she gave me her biggest smile. We left the decision of lunch to the birthday girl, and she chose the nastiest junk food that the Philippines has to offer. It is loved by the masses,  and has recently found an audience in the USA, but it truly is the worst most inedible garbage known to man.  But how can you take that away from someone who has so little.  Her aunt told her to finish her plate at lunch because it is a treat that she will probably only have once or twice this year.
The day went pretty uneventful, other than the rental car dying and having to find another car. Wasn't that hard to find, and I will have a new automatic on Monday.  I'm looking forward to the new car as I have held off driving because the car I have now is an standard.  
The kids went for a nice swim at the pool and
then we made dinner.  As usual the kids rushed away from the table to watch cartoon network, and a few minutes later we asked them to come back and sit down for dessert. I lit the number nine on the cake and lifted it out of the box, turned around so all the kids saw the cake, and five kids mouths dropped open and followed my few steps to the table, staring at that big chocolate cake as I set it down in front of the birthday girl.
Just a chocolate cake with a few flowers I thought.  I asked Nikki which piece she wanted and someone translated, but she just smiled.  I cut her a big piece with a big flower.  She gave me her best little "thank you" that she could muster, and it was just so nice to hear.  I cut pieces for everyone, as the volume seemed to rise as the kids were devouring all that sugar.  Nikki's sister Rose said something to Mira, and I asked what she said.  Rose didn't know that Nikki was getting a cake for her birthday.  I made a face like what do you mean?  Mira told me then that this was the first birthday cake for either Nikki or Rose had ever had.  At first I thought to say "really"?
But I just looked at Mira, then at Nikki smiling with chocolate on her face, and then had a little hollow feeling in my stomach, but then I  just went on.  

Thursday, December 4, 2008


During the last week I downloaded a few movies to show the kids
that would visit over the coming weekend.  So Friday night I showed my all time favorite Disney movie
"Old Yeller."  I had my doubts that they would appreciate this classic but I have always had the idea that kids are kids.  A good classic is always a classic just have to turn off the game boy for a few minutes.  Really  
I made this a big movie night thinking popcorn would be nice also.  I hadn't realized that my guests had never popped popcorn.  They were kind of laughing when I showed them the bag of unpopped kernels.  I think they thought the strange man from the USA wants us to eat that." That's popcorn in his country!" I think they were saying.  I got out the popping pot, added oil, and then just 3 kernels.  My way of making popcorn.  The top of the pot was clear and I asked one of the kids
 if they wanted to watch.
  I don't think they really were sure what they were suppose to watch.  Most of the kids had walked away.  One of the kids was looking at the sizzling kernels and as the first one exploded, she jumped but quickly looked back again.  The next two kernels exploded and the biggest toothy smile went from one ear the other.  I opened the pot and covered the bottom with kernels.  The little girl turned to me and smiled calling her sister to come quickly from upstairs.  They stood there looking in the pot, and then the explosions started. 
 To see two so excited about popped corn was really quite enthralling.  You couldn't help but smile loudly.  Not of course at the corn, but at the sheer innocence at there new discovery. A memory to last a lifetime.  Old Yeller starts with a very hokie old song. 
"Old Yellerrrr Old Yellerrrrr greatest dog in the land, Come back Yeller" on and on...  Fast forwarding over the weekend, versions of that song permeated the silence, all from little Filipino voices singing for the last 72 hours.  
Watching the kids watch the movie was another one of those moments where its hard not to smile.  Eyes wide open, little hands reaching into the popcorn bowl, then hands
rhythmically dropping one or two pieces of popcorn in there mouths.  Never taking there eyes of the screen. They really loved that movie, and I was really surprised when I came down the steps the next morning and they were all waiting to watch it again!  Old Yeller still watched and loved after all these years!
It has been days since I wrote anything here.  I have been experiencing the most incredible bouts of not being able to sleep.  The minute I fall asleep, any sound wakes me and then takes me forever to fall back to sleep.  So focusing has been really hard.  But I will push on, for the one or two who reads this.  I have been spending a lot of time here at the house.  The regular tourist things have been done, and now everything takes on a more regular routine.  I enjoy this part of my journey.  Just listening to everything, watching, going grocery shopping, all the basics that all of do.
 Just doing it all in the Philippines.  
If any of you out there have access to used, and sure it can be new clothes also, please think about putting it aside for me. Shoes, sneakers, sandals are also in great need.  Winter clothes are not needed.  It is extremely hot here.  I am going to try to collect as much clothes, shoes and children's books as I can.  Not as a one time thing, but as an ongoing enterprise. Children's clothing are in great demand here.  Even adults need everything here.  Kids are running around naked all the time.  The ones I have seen are mostly under the age of 3.  
I have plans to return around the middle or end of February. That's my plan anyway.  If you put anything aside I will try to pick it up when I return.  Or we can make some kind of arrangements.  I have no dates set for anything, nor do I even know where I will be living at this point.  I do know that I will leave this house around the 13th of January, and will head to this little house I rented on another island.  The house sits up on a hill, and you can see the ocean from all sides.  Looks amazing!  The island is much more of vacation spot for most.  Many resorts and beach bars.  Not anything that I enjoy, but the owner of the house told me that "for people that know there way around there are many many little deserted stretches of beaches."  The house come with its own expert, lol.  So I'm so looking forward to this next part of the trip.  It's still over a month away but time has just been flying here.
In the mean time, and for the next month  a few of the kids that I have taken "in" have birthdays.  We will try to celebrate as much as we can.  Christmas is coming and none of the kids have had a Christmas tree, so that is another little project.  I'm going to teach them to string popcorn, and make paper chains to decorate the tree. I've never had a tree, but what a perfect time to start. Then of course New Years, and what I found out yesterday was really interesting.
I was reading an article in the newspaper, and they were talking about taking it easy over the holidays, it can and usually is a very dangerous time here in the Philippines.
The article started talking about not eating to much pork, which is a huge favorite here. 
The article went on to the abuse of alcohol. Which I dare say, alcohol is abused way beyond our abuse in the USA.  But here's the kicker. There are no drunk driving laws!!  No roadside sobriety tests, no legal limit.  Just get hammered and off you go.  If your weaving down the road, as long as you don't harm anyone it's all Kosher!! Accept that thing about the pork, that ain't Kosher!!