Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Month: March, 2013

Easter Egg Coloring Burnout

Easter is coming up so I did what mothers do days before the great holiday – I had my kids color eggs. I prepared the table, had the six color dying tablets ready, adding a tablespoon of vinegar to make the colors more vibrant. Everything was perfect until my oldest niece, in an attempt to help me, knocked down the crystal bowl of green water. My entire kitchen tile was green and had shinning tiny crystal scattered throughout. I warned the kids to keep their feet on the chair as I cleaned up the mess. My niece rushed to the bathroom where I suspect from the length she stayed there, she was crying.

My son was crying as well. “I wanted the color green! It’s my favorite color!”

My mother tried to help by asking irrelevant questions like, “Why did you pick today of all days to color eggs?” And, “Why don’t you see why your son is crying?”

I gritted my teeth and brought everyone sandals as I continued to scrimmage for glass on the floor. In no time I heard complaints of “The eggs are finished! Bring us more!”

As if I could simply turn on the faucet and boiled eggs pop out.

On a more pleasant note – the custom of the Easter egg originated amongst the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at his crucifixion. The Christian Church officially adopted the custom, regarding the eggs as a symbol of the resurrection; in A.D. 1610, Pope Paul V proclaimed the following prayer.

Eggs, in general, were a traditional symbol of fertility, and rebirth, pre-dating Christian traditions. The practice of decorating eggshell is ancient. Ostrich eggs with engraved decoration that are 60,000 years old have been found in Africa. Decorated ostrich eggs, and representations of ostrich eggs in gold and silver, were commonly placed in graves of the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians as early as 5,000 years ago.

Have a wonderful Easter everyone!

Easter Egg Coloring 2013

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Mommy and Daughter at Work

Like many of the women in my family, my cousin Amy is very creative.  Her twelve year old daughter has been following in that creative path since she was five or maybe younger. So when my kids and I went to their home yesterday to get a pedicure and a manicure for myself, I found the mommy and daughter team hard at work on yet another project (my cousin does umpteen creative things).

To the backbeat of Arabic music, she and her daughter were making jewelry for a women’s show she is involved in at St. Marino’s coming up on April 9th. Some of their stuff is really unique – such as the custom made rosaries that can be worn as a necklace or placed anywhere, like the car’s rear mirror, which Chaldeans are famous for doing. Each rosary is specialized with an entire family’s individual names. I love that!

As my cousin’s orange winged Amazon, Parker, gets to sit in a cage overlooking the attraction, it’s not difficult for him to announce his needs. Hey, orange winged Amazons have to eat too!

Parker

Coffee vs. Guns

Coffee

 

In 1992, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck bought a cup of takeout coffee at a McDonald’s drive-thru in Albuquerque and spilled it on her lap. She sued McDonald’s and two years later, a jury awarded her nearly $3 million in punitive damages for the burns she suffered.

One of the jurors said over the course of the trial he came to realize the case was about “callous disregard for the safety of the people.”Another juror said “the facts were so overwhelmingly against the company.”

Since the lawsuit, McDonald’s – and most other places – no longer serve coffee very hot.

In September 2012, the school system in Cranston, R.I., announced it is banning traditional father-daughter and mother-son activities, saying they are a violation of the state’s gender discrimination law. It decision was in response to a complaint from the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) on behalf of a single mother who said her daughter was not able to attend a father-daughter-dance.

The Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence reports that an average of 268 people are shot every day in America. That’s 97,820 per year. Yet despite decades of efforts, no one can make the NRA budge a little to help protect Americans let alone sue it the way the coffee drinker did with McDonald’s.

I guess third degree burns on one’s inner thighs and a single woman’s anger over her daughter not going to the daddy-daughter dance are worthy of more instantaneous legal response.

10 Year Anniversary of Iraq War is Hush-Hush

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I may not have known about the 10th year anniversary of the start of the U.S. war in Iraq if not for BBC (Arabic) last night. A news program shed light on the subject by interviewing a family whose daughter got badly hurt as a result of the war. The girl had the same name as that of my daughter, and she was the same age. Six years ago, some violent act – I believe an explosion – took her mother’s life and left her blind and her face completely disfigured.

The war took the lives of 4,488 U.S. service members and left more than 32,000 wounded. As many as 1.2 million Iraqi people have died because of the conflict. That exceeds that of the Rwandan genocide in which 800,000 died. Yet today, probably due to these facts, Washington and Baghdad have been pretty hush-hush about it and no official commemorations were at work.

I wonder, will the media be able to eventually wipe this war off of peoples’ memory, the way in which they were able to convince them that it was justifiable?

It’s the Life of Pee, not the Life of Pi


Feeding Katie & Lucy

After buying a DVD copy of “The Life of Pi”, my friend Linda suggested we have a movie night with Chinese carry-out for the adults and a pizza for the kids so neither of us would have to cook.

We cuddled on the couch, underneath blankets and besides a nice fireplace. The kids and dogs (there were three of them) behaved fairly decently – except for my son who ten minutes into the movie said, “This is a long movie” and later he kept interrupting with questions such as, “Is the tiger going to die?” At one point, he spilled his glass of milk and one of the dogs, Katie, rushed over to lick it off the carpet. During dessert, however, when he had two or three servings of jello and ice cream, he was pretty quiet.

We watched the movie, and periodically looked outside through the glass door where Linda laid vegetables for her bunnies, squirrels, deer, one of which is pregnant, and whichever other animals decided to stop by. The deer didn’t come while we were there, but a fat bunny did.

The movie had a great ending, one which the kids and the dogs didn’t understand. They just enjoyed the food part of the night. On the drive home, we were exhausted. My son fell asleep in the car and when I was carrying him inside the house, he said in his sleep, “It’s the Life of Pee, not the Life of Pi.”

My Writers’ Group

Rochester Writers' Group

I was determined to make it to the Rochester writers’ group meeting last night and much to my surprise, I did it! It had been years since I was able to attend, not counting the Christmas potluck parties held every year Mary’s house. Mary is the leader of the group.

So how did I make it there? I improvised. I called my uncle’s aunt, picked her up and had her watch the kids at the Thomas and Friends train table at the back of the bookstore – my son’s favorite place – while I sat with the adults, some whom I’d known for many years, some of whom I just met.

I listened to a meaningful poem, a hip novel excerpt, a drastically improved and revised first chapter of another novel, a beautiful memory of a romance, one soldier’s experience in the army, and a man’s heartfelt story about caring for his dying father – though I must admit the parts in the caretaker’s story about the feces were a bit much, especially when enjoying a hot cup of hazelnut macchiato, a new drink I was excited to try at Barnes & Noble.

I received delightful feedback on the material I read – even clapping! It was like the olden days, when I was in doubt about some of the scenes in my chapter and once I read them to this group, I knew what worked, what didn’t, and I walked away feeling a sense of peace and accomplishment.

The biggest difference between then and now is that yesterday, in the midst of the meeting, I began to hear my son’s voice creeping up behind me. I turned around and there were my kids with my uncle’s wife.

“We’re hungry,” my daughter said.

The Way to a Man’s Heart…

When she first met him, my cousin’s husband was a top chef at a Coney Island. Over the years he changed his direction to car mechanic and body shop. He has been great at both jobs, but he has never lost his love for good food and participating every now and then in the kitchen. Actually, he taught my cousin quite a few delicious recipes – guess to make sure he is dined properly for the rest of his life.

I think that no matter what your ethnicity may be, there is a possibility to get to a man’s heart through his belly. But to keep his heart, you definitely have to do a lot more than that, one of which is to continue serving good food and not resort to frozen dinners and fast food once the guy falls head over heels with you. Furthermore, food as a bait to gain one’s love is not reserved for men only – it’s a great way to get through the hearts of your children, relatives, and business acquaintances.

“Cooking is like love — it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” Harriet Van Horne

The Masters and a Bee Gees Song

One of the first English-speaking music bands we listened to as we awaited our Visa to the United States was the Bee Gees. When we arrived to our new country in February 1981, we continued to relish this band’s top-hit songs.

Last night, we went to the Masters Restaurant in Madison Heights. My family and I have frequented this restaurant for years for its family-friendly atmosphere, its delicious and reasonably priced dishes and the nice sounding piano lounge singer who plays every Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

At my request, Gordy Hunter sang one of the Bee Gees songs yesterday. It was the first time I’d ever talked to him, as our table was right beside him. Normally, our group is a lot larger and we end up either sitting on the second floor balcony or on the other side of the restaurant.

My memory went back to the olden days, before all of us ten siblings got married and formed our own families. Although the majority of us live within a mile or two from each other, I felt a little sad at the memory – until my brother told us about his first date with his now wife of twelve years. He had brought her to the Masters and for reasons he didn’t go into, he said that he’d told her he had no plans of marrying her and she ended up in tears. Laughing wholeheartedly, he then said, “I guess, that trick worked.”

A Message from a Roach

My daughter had half-a-day of school today. After picking her up, I dropped off my son at nursery and she and I went to a café for lunch. While I worked on my computer, she ate a bowl of soup. Suddenly, she said, “Mom, there’s a bug here!”

I looked at the roach lying on its back on the windowsill. Its legs struggled to move in the air as it gave its last few breaths. The sight of it saddened me, reminding me how petty our problems often are. Last night, for instance, a lot of tension arose between me and my three-year-old son when he threw a one-hour tantrum over chocolate ice cream. We didn’t have chocolate ice cream. I ended up yelling at him, and feeling guilty about it. Seeing the roach grasp for life made me realize how ridiculous it is to dwell on the negative. I decided to put my computer aside and enjoy my lunch with my daughter. At that moment, I looked up and saw a bird flipping its wings and flying high.

“Mom, it’s not dead!”

The roach had flipped itself over onto its legs and was now moving. I smiled.

“Let’s take it outside when we leave,” I said.

Using a paper receipt, my daughter placed it on the cafe menu, after she’d said to it, “I survived you” meaning she saved it. We dropped it off at a circle of dirt, bushes and trees, where it belongs. In her excitement, my daughter forgot her Ipod inside the cafe. She hurriedly went back to get it. Thank God it was still there. Otherwise, I would have paid too much to save a roach’s life.  

When I picked up my son from school, he had made a maraca out of a plastic bottle. It was stuffed with variously paint-colored corn kernels. It was exactly what I was looking for, for reasons I cannot yet explain in this post.

I handed my son his bag of snacks (chocolate milk and potato chips) which he always ate in the car after a hard two-hour day at nursery.

“You got me potato chips,” he said smiling and crunching. “So I’m not mad at you today.”

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