Easy as Pie!

The last post I made was in September and it is now November. Now, this is what I call total neglect of my blog and the blogs I follow. What have been doing with my time? Busy? Yes. Busy doing what? What can I say? Life has been happening!

This week’s wordpress challenge is to write about pie.

As a child, my mom didn’t bake pies. She made the best sponge cakes and Christmas cakes. I can still see myself licking the batter off the spoon. Yummy! Mom baked her cakes in a box oven that she placed on top of our kerosene stove. It was a complicated process. I’ll have to get all the details from her and make write a separate blog post on our oven. Oh, I must say that a sponge cake is what folks in the USA will call a pound cake.

I learned about pies here in the USA. I have two favorite pies  –  key lime pie and pumpkin pie. I have never baked a key lime pie. My children and their friends love my pumpkin pie! Here is the recipe I use…it is as easy as pie! What is your favorite pie?

My dear readers, I look forward to hearing from you.

Credit: Bing Images

Credit: Bing Images

Simply Delicious Pumpkin Pie

1 (9 inch) unbaked pastry shell
1 (16 oz.) can pumpkin
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine ingredients in large bowl, pour into shell, bake 15 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 35-40 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Early School Days Memories

It has been a hectic beginning of the new school year for me and it would appear that I’ve forgotten how taxing the first few weeks can be on my body and my mind. As a result, I’ve taken a step or two or several away from blogging, but I’m hoping to catch up with my reading and writing soon.

Since all I seem to think about is school, today’s post is about some early school days memories. Before I started “big school”, my mom took me to a “bottom house school” for a few months. The “big school” was the Primary School and the “bottom house school” was held at someone’s home. It was made up of a small group of children and was run by a mom. It got the name “bottom house” because of the structure of the house. In those days most of the houses were on posts (stilts) and the open area under the houses was used for various reasons. The teacher placed jute bag mats on the mud floor and that was where the children sat with their slates and slate pencils.

I have only one memory of the Bottom House School. It was time for my brother to pick me up because I saw the children from the Big School walking home, but the teacher told me that she won’t let me go until I did my sums. I started to cry bitterly because I couldn’t do the addition. I doubt that I got the correct answers. I can’t recall how long she kept me back or what state I was in when my brother arrived. I’m glad I don’t remember. 🙂

On my first day of Big School, my mom gave me one cent to buy a treat during the morning recreation (recess). The little tents with treats were outside of the school yard, on the street. I suppose that my mom told my brother to take care of me because he made sure that he took me to get my treat. There were only about three or four tents. Some of the vendors sold plantain chips, tamarind balls, sugar cake, fudge, fruits etc. The item that caught my eye was a red fudge. I was hesitant to buy the fudge because the vendor was the same “teacher lady” from the Bottom House School! However, I must have felt safe with my brother because I bought the red fudge with my cent!

Do you have some early school days memories to share?

Here is a house on stilts. The Bottom House School I attended was definitely not as pretty or as big as this house!

House on stilts Credit: Bing Images

House on stilts
Credit: Bing Images

Vacation Fun

When I was out on vacation, I took a trip to Canada and my friend, Sharon took my daughter and I to  Niagara Falls I won’t ever get tired of the falls.  What is life without a bit of risk?  Here I am just being silly!

Niagara

 

Do you think it’s possible to be in two places at the same time? My answer is a resounding YES. Here I am in two places at the same time.  I’m straddling the boundary line for Canada and the United States. It rained while we were at the falls, hence the raincoat.

The photo with the finger looks like finger belongs to someone else, but it’s my finger 🙂

I’d love to hear about some of your vacation fun!

boundary line

The Secret Finger!

straddling the country boundary line

Key West Sunset

Twenty eight years ago, on June 21, on a rainy Saturday morning in Guyana, Neville and I were married. Reverend Harsham came to our home and performed a simple wedding ceremony.

Last Saturday, on a rainy morning, my husband and I took a trip to Key West, Florida. We had lots of fun walking on Duval Street, taking photos at the Southernmost Point, and watching the sunset on our dinner cruise. It was a fitting celebration for our 28th wedding anniversary!

Thanks for stopping by and do enjoy the Key West sunset on the first day of summer!

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Ribbet collage (Sunset)

Saved by the bell?

Saved by the Bell

 

Credit: Bing Images

Credit: Bing Images

Here’s a reflection from when I was 13 years old in 3rd form in secondary school.  My English teacher was not engaging at all that afternoon and since I was sitting toward the back of the class, when the bell rang, I dashed out of the classroom with two of my peers. Yes, I was saved by the bell. Not really. Miss K. saw when we left and sprung into action.  She took the attendance before dismissing the class and then got the register (attendance records) from the office to verify who was absent from school that day.

The next day, when she arrived to class, we were punished. We had to write “I will not disobey the rules” 100 times. That was the first and final punishment I ever received for the duration of my secondary school experience. Whenever I think of this incident I always smile because that behavior was out of character for me. Was I saved by the bell? Perhaps, I was. If Miss K. didn’t catch me, I probably would have skipped class the next time I thought that my English teacher would not be engaging. Then again, I was thought of as a “model student” and I couldn’t spoil that title, could I? 🙂

 

 

The Intangible Gift

This week’s photo challenge is about  windows. This popular quote by William Shakespeare comes to mind: The eyes are the window to your soul. However, I won’t be writing about this quote today. I have found that the way we interact with each other, the things we share, the gifts we give etc. are windows – glimpses into our lives.

Recently, I got a special glimpse into a child’s world when she presented me with a Christmas gift.

Bianca* eagerly handed me a gift bag and waited quietly for me to open it. In the bag, there was an apple and two items wrapped in white tissue paper. As I took each item out of the bag, I could feel her eyes on me wondering if I would like her gift. The tissue paper loving held a seashell and a beautiful, handmade, red souvenir box from Honduras.

It was only after I asked if her family went to Honduras that I realized it wasn’t the right question. Bianca and her family have never visited Honduras. The souvenir was a gift to her family. She told me that she found the shell at the beach. The apple was part of her breakfast. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with her kind and loving gesture.

This child gave me a glimpse of her beautiful and thoughtful heart when she presented me with her gifts.

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I displayed her gifts proudly in my home for the holidays. Each time I looked at her gifts, a tender feeling washed over me. As I write this post, I know in my heart that the intangible gift she gave me will definitely outlast the tangible gifts. I feel blessed to have such a loving and thoughtful child in my life. I am grateful for her gifts.

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*pseudonym

 

My Journey as a Half Marathoner

It is a new year and many of us set goals that we will pursue. Today’s blog entry was written a few years ago, in April of 2007.  It’s a reflection on a goal I set and achieved.

It all began in June of 2001 as I waited in line for a bus along with hundreds of spectators and participants of the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon.  With nothing to do but wait, I struck up a conversation with the tall, lean Indian woman who was waiting beside me. She piqued my interest when I noticed that she did not run for a particular cause (many of the participants around us ran for the Cancer Society).  I found out that she entered the event on her own for the sole reason that she was soon to be 40 years old. I was pretty impressed because I also learned that she was not really an “athlete”, but an average person who did some walking and running once in a while. At that point in time, a thought ran  through my mind that this is something I could do in the future.  I filed that thought away until December of 2006 when I celebrated my 39th birthday.

I remember sitting at my desk during my lunch break and reflecting on the past year and thinking of what the following year had in store for me. As you already know, after 39, comes 40 and this is an important milestone for many, me included. Hmmm…what would I do to make my fortieth year in this world memorable? It occurred to me that I didn’t have to wait until I actually turned 40 to mark this milestone. I could set a goal before this highly talked about number made its entrance, and work toward it.

The thought of what I could do lingered in my mind for a few days and then out of the blue (well, not really) I retrieved and dusted the idea I had saved – sign up for a half marathon. At first, I was hesitant to share this news with my family thinking that they would snicker at this somewhat preposterous proposition. After all, I rarely go walking for exercise and my treadmill had become a very expensive clothes hanger. I decided to take the plunge and tell my husband. Without hesitation, he expressed that it was a great idea! The next step was to tell my three teenagers and of course, my children like many other teenagers thought that their mother had lost her mind for the umpteenth time. They didn’t have to say anything, being a mother for 19 years (and a teenager once myself), I have become adept at reading minds and interpreting rolling eyes!

On Christmas day, to my dismay, my husband announced to our guests that I will be participating in a half marathon.  At that time, it was no longer a quiet thought in my head. The publicity that my 40th birthday goal had gotten propelled me into action and so I commenced my training in January of 2007.  I must confess that at that point in time, I did not select a venue nor set a date for this self-imposed challenge.

For several nights I surfed the internet and read out to anyone who was listening (most of the time it was just the bird) the various upcoming events. There were quite a few from which I could have chosen – Canada, New Jersey, New York, Georgia, Tennessee, and good old Florida. I vacillated between Georgia and Tennessee until my family got tired with my indecisiveness and they made it known to me.  Finally, I chose the Country Music Marathon scheduled on April 28 in Tennessee since it allowed me four months of training. I was thrilled that my husband willingly agreed to participate in the event with me.

Once the registration was completed, it began to sink in that I had committed myself to a major test of physical endurance.  I am not into sports, I’m not a fan of any nor do I participate in any.  Needless to say, I did not tell many people of my event.

I did most of my training at the local college campus. I bought myself an MP3 player, but I could not get it to work even after several phone calls to the expert, my teenage daughter. I did not bother to take it back with me on future training days and my teen was happy to relieve me of this piece of “inadequate” technology. Although to some it appeared to be a boring walk day after day, for me it was quite the opposite.

I could not wait to finish my day at work and my afternoon routine at home – it was as if I had a love affair with the running track. Nature and my thoughts were my walking partners. Each day I walked was a time of ruminating, reflecting, and reminiscing.  Each day I walked, I had the pleasure of watching the beauty of the glorious sunset as its splendor dipped into the horizon. Living in South Florida provided me the enviable opportunity of having perfect training weather.  I regularly called my friends and relatives in NY just to let them know how great it was to be outdoors in February, the heart of their winter.

I was very nervous and excited during the final week before my event. I began to doubt myself…would I be able to complete the 13.1 miles? To make matters worse, I twisted my ankle a week before my event while walking backwards, yes, walking backwards. I was horrified that I had sprained it and would have to cancel my trip to Tennessee. Luckily for me, there was no swelling and that was a sure sign that all was well. The positive outcome of this slight twist was that I was forced to take a few days of rest, a much needed break as any seasoned runner would tell you. While off the track, I tried my best to shove all the negative thoughts and feelings aside by counseling myself that I trained hard and if for some reason I did not complete the event, I could do it again. My self-talk worked.

The days prior to my event, I received warm and encouraging calls from friends and relatives who reassured me that they would be cheering me on from afar and tracking my progress via the internet. I felt very special.

Finally, the big day arrived. I had heard of “race day magic”, but nothing prepared me for the excitement and adrenaline as over 30,000 participants queued up at the starting line of the Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon. I waited in my corral for almost 45 minutes with other participants before reaching the starting point. Although I was excited and caught up in the moment as I stepped over the electronic timing mat, I did not forget to start my own stop watch. My husband and I started out together and remained together until the first mile marker. Then, as agreed upon earlier, we parted ways. I kept on walking and he veered off for a bathroom stop! Just about this time I was very apprehensive and nervous. Would I cramp up? Would I fall and hurt myself? Would I twist an ankle? To take my mind off my negative thoughts, I introduced myself to the woman who was walking beside me and we set off toward the second mile marker. It seemed that I had just left my husband when I felt a little slap on my behind – it was him running past me.

I kept pace with my walking partner until the 3rd mile when she decided to move on. At the 4th mile marker, I trampled my negative thinking and hooted and cheered from that point and at every mile marker there after. The supporters  were fabulous – babies to grandparents – they all came out to cheer us along. They offered a variety of snacks and beverages including beer, whiskey and coffee. I recall fondly the little girl who gave high fives to anyone within her reach while her mom passed out cereal snacks. It was the first time in my life I felt proud to litter the streets. It was a good feeling each time I grabbed a paper cup from the eager volunteers, drank the water, and then tossed it aside.

Having gained my confidence back at the beginning of the 4th mile, I decided that I was going to continue the course in the same manner I did in my training. My thoughts and nature kept me company – I enjoyed the beauty of spring time in Tennessee. I called my children, friends, and relatives in Florida, New York, and Canada to give them updates on my progress. We shared some good laughs that day on the hilly terrain of Tennessee. I was having a good time, a real good time.

Just after I passed the 11th mile marker, I whipped out my lipstick from the pouch around my waist, applied it and then turned to the young woman beside me and asked her, “Did I put on the lipstick properly?” She laughed and laughed so much that I am sure she lost a few seconds off of her finishing time. She reassured me that the lipstick was on perfectly. At the 12th mile marker, I pulled the bobby pins out of my hair and untied my pony tail…and at that exact moment, the photographers zoomed in on me. Needless to say, when I later looked at that photo, it seemed that I had just rolled out of bed – my hair was a mess. I was having a good time, a real good time.

At the beginning of the 13th mile, event finishers and spectators were standing in the sidelines cheering and cheering. Their generous support kept me smiling and smiling. Since I knew that I wanted a photo finish to this self-imposed physical challenge, I combed my hair with my fingers, wiped the salt off of my face, and started a light jog toward the end. As I approached the finish line, I blinked back tears of joy, raised my arms in the air, and thanked my God for His guidance and strength as I met my 40th birthday goal.

My First Half Marathon in April of 2007

My First Half Marathon in April of 2007. Time: 3:08:01

Our Christmas Tradition

English: A bauble on a Christmas tree.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

All over the world, those who celebrate Christmas have traditions that add that extra joy and sparkle to their holidays. In our family, it is the Christmas tree tradition. During the first week of December, my husband goes out and buys two Christmas trees. He delivers one to his sister and the other is for us.

We don’t usually decorate the tree the day it arrives; we wait a day or two just enjoying the smell of pine. I’m not sure exactly when my oldest daughter took on the role of making sure everyone will be home, but over the years, she lets everyone know what evening the decorating will be happening so we don’t make any other plans.

Our home is filled with Christmas music, laughter, and the occasional warning shout of “don’t step on the lights”! As we hang the ornaments, there is always conversation of how we acquired them. Year after year we put up the family photo ornament that my niece made when she was in elementary school and the ones my own children made. There isn’t a tangible theme for our tree – the theme is simply a collection of memories.

This year, we deviated from tradition just a little in that we got our tree before Thanksgiving and decorated it after our Thanksgiving dinner. The reason being, we all were not going to be home during the first week of December.

I know that the time will come when my children will not be at home to decorate the tree, but with the wonderful technology we have these days, we can still be together with the able assistance of the webcam!

It is my hope that my son follows the tradition of his father and buys a Christmas tree for his two sisters when they have their own homes. I am confident that my children will continue the tree decorating tradition when they get their own families.

The tree decorating tradition is a special one for our family. What is yours?

May the joys of the season warm all our hearts!

Christmas Tree- 2013

My Prized Possession: A Collection of Letters

For the past several years, just around the first week of December, I go to my closet and take out my box of birthday letters and spend a few minutes reading all the beautiful thoughts 37 people penned to me.

I always tell my family that I want to get my flowers when I am alive; when I can enjoy and feel the joy of receiving them. I always tell my family people need to hear kind words and nice things about themselves when they are alive. Why wait until the person dies? My family heard me. For my 37th birthday, one of my daughters spearheaded the “Mom’s Birthday Letters” project. The 37 letters I received brought immense joy and happiness to me then and still do today. These letters have taken up real estate in my heart! Today, I will share with you one of my letters. I’ve retyped it verbatim, except for my name. I replaced my nickname with my real name.

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Elaine my dear,

Today as you celebrate your birthday, my thoughts will be with you as yours will be with many others as well. It will be unjust if I do not take this opportunity to congratulate Roshini for thinking about you and creating a gift that will probably end up being your most prized possessions; one you can refer to and cherish long after she is all grown up and gone. My invitation to participation in your book of love is indeed an honor.

Elaine, I have known you for about 17 years and I think you look the same – young and pretty.  Your early adult years were fun-filled for your childhood lingered. I realized that only because we worked together which gave me the chance to know you for the person you are. I watched you grow and most importantly mature through laughter and tears.

We spent some school years together, though not classroom time. We were there for each other for support and to lend an ear. Those days were rough ones and I will never forget them. Those were also good years where we actually developed our friendship as it is today. That time in your life was also blessed, for in my opinion, it forced you to grow up fast.

I remember vividly the excitement you displayed on your 25th birthday. I was very happy for you then as I am today. Youthful days gave you extra energy to deal with the trials of motherhood. You did a wonderful job and your success shows in the three beautiful children you have. Now both you and your husband can welcome their accomplishments with great pride.

Over the years, I watched you blossom into the woman you are. Your educational path led you here, your community involvement, your unselfish thoughts and time devoted to others, your family life, a loving wife and mother…these qualities my friend will continue to bloom and take you into the golden years.

On this your 37th birthday, the pleasure is all mine to be able to call you friend. It was God’s will and my good fortune to see where you were yesterday, where you are today and your journey into the tomorrows ahead.

A special wish to you for  a happy, healthy, and blessed birthday. Cherish today and continue to embrace tomorrow with a smile.

Love,

Seroj

bday cake

Where is fingerprintwriting?

It has been several weeks since I came on my blog or check the blogs that I follow. I’ve been away too long. I’ve had a few ups and downs in my life – more than I expected. I shall not focus on the downs – life is made up of dual experiences. How can we truly appreciate the goodness and gift of each day if we do not have these dual experiences?

In the future, I will make my posts even if it is just two sentences. I have a lot of catching up to with the blogs I follow.

Here are two lovely photos of a very happy occasion…my nephew’s wedding on October 12th. 

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