On the Road with Tin Tin ;-) i love this piece

Old notes taken mostly from my personal time with God. We're moving house again, so, I guess we're back to being, literally, pilgrims on the Rough Roads of Planet Earth. (Photo taken on a road to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, North Auckland, NZ, Dec 2009.)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Valentine!

Yes, mission accomplished! My Valentine's!



I decided to do volunteer work with senior citizens. The work involves a casual visit once every week at a senior citizen's home. I had a choice of a female or male so I chose a female, a grandma. She lives with a daughter and son-in-law and I have a choice of Thursday or Tuesday for my visits. Today, Tuesday, Feb 14, 2012 was my scheduled first visit with her. I had a preliminary meeting with her, her daughter and our volunteer coordinator two weeks ago. I was supposed to visit her last week, on the Thursday, but her daughter cancelled the appointment the night before because she realized her mom was having a doctor's appointment that day.



I was excitedly thinking about this visit in the past few days because it falls on Valentine's Day! I thought she must be missing her husband? She lost him many years ago and she herself is probably around 80 years old. Today was only our second meeting so I still haven't really asked for her age thinking it might not be a polite thing to do in this culture. I thought maybe her husband used to give her flowers on Valentine's Day, so, it would be a nice surprise if she gets some from a new friend, unexpectedly.



So, last night, although I was pressed for time as usual - getting my special needs child to eat her dinner on time, doing her homework with her, giving her a shower, cooking dinner for the rest of us, giving her before-bed snack of fruits and yoghurt, etc., (our night routine) - I went out for about an hour to shop for a Valentine's card and flowers. Looking at the cards was fun, some of them were really hilarious! The drugstore had quite a number of people shopping for cards, flowers and chocolates - Valentine celebrators like myself. Well, I have actually stopped celebrating since I was still single, thinking that it is not really a Christian festival and it's kind of meaningless. The reason I'm celebrating now is because I am being a friend to an elderly lady who most likely, just like the rest of the world, would appreciate some love and attention on this special day for lovers / romantic love. It is just another occasion to express love for our loved ones, so, why not take advantage of it? To cut the justification crap short :), I actually found a card just nice for her, and one very appropriate for my older daughter, one just right for my younger son and another one for my younger daughter, too. (Too bad for older son, he's too far away, can't mail one to reach him in time for today, but oh well, he has a girlfriend, he'll get one from her. :) I greeted him and my husband by email instead.)

The card.


Then I looked at the flowers. A single-rose bouquet which was running low fast, was selling at $5 a piece. I asked if they will have fresh ones delivered in the morning and the clerk said, "No, definitely not. They will all be gone by tomorrow." That's what I also thought, that's why I shopped the night before, though I was much pressed for time. They were selling lots of chocolates in heart boxes, too, but I thought I won't give a load of candy to an old lady to compromise her health, although she has no diet restrictions? At the back of my mind, I was mulling baking some brownies for her in the morning instead. I went to the supermarket and found better deals for the roses. Their single-rose bouquet was selling for $4 a piece and the three-rose ones for $8 each. Hmmm, I thought, the 3-rose one is a better deal although that would be twice the dollar leak from my pocket. When I'm in such a quandary, I always think, "Would the amount of money matter if I look back when I'm in Eternity?" It wouldn't. So, I went for the $8 item. :)

The three-rose bouquet.

By the time I was at the check-out counter the clerk was so glum. I asked him to please wrap the bouquet in a separate plastic bag because I bought some food items too, and to please use the biggest plastic bag they have available. And he was like, "ho-hum, that's the biggest bag we have." While I was gathering my bags the lady next to me told him, "C'mon, smile. The day's almost over. It will be over soon." And he smiled. I guess people had been checking out non-stop and they had had no rest from the brisk Valentine's sale.



I inverted the bouquet inside the plastic bag, making sure the flowers don't wilt from the extreme cold outside where it was hovering at 0 deg C and made the 10-min trek home with my other shopping. When I got home my younger daughter and I did her homework and the phone rang. It was my senior citizen's daughter. She said she forgot her mom was having a dentist appointment the next day and was calling if we could reschedule the visit (again)! So, I said, "Oh, but it's Valentine's Day tomorrow. Can I just drop by then? I won't stay long." And she said it's sweet of me to do that and if I could come earlier than scheduled I could have about an hour with my senior citizen. So, I grabbed it. I said yes, I would come 30 min. earlier.


So, this morning, right after I put Joche in her school bus, I looked up the Hershey's brownies recipe in Google. I had that recipe before in a Hershey's cooking chocolate wrapper when we were in Singapore but I had adjusted the sugar and chocolate powder in that recipe to suit my Chinese friends and in-laws' taste. But now that we're here in the US I realized I need THAT original recipe right now! I am in America and am cooking American brownies for Americans! So, I looked it up and found it just as I seem to recall that original recipe. Then last minute, I was vacillating - should I cook this super sweet stuff for my senior citizen and compromise her health or should I cook my Chinese-suited less-sweet version as a deliberate thoughtful gesture of consideration for her health??? Hmmmm, she won't eat it alone, her daughter and son-in-law would eat it too, and I believe these people are true-blooded Americans. I go for the no holds barred recipe!!!

And so for the next 45 min or so I went creaming, beating, folding, mixing and baking, and voile! - my own version of the All-American Brownies!! ;D

While it cooked in the oven for 35 min. I took my shower, dressed and got the packaging ready. The bus comes at 9:49 at the junction. It is sometimes late, or early. So, I prayed, please, let the bus be late, even just for one minute. It was 9:35, the brownies just cooked. I can't cut and lift it from the pan to the foiled plate I prepared without falling apart, unless I wait at least another 5 minutes for it to cool down. I put water-soaked kitchen paper in a foil and wrapped the rose stems in it, tied it with a rubber band and put it inside a plastic bag, rose heads first. Then it was now or never - time to cut the brownies and put them on the plate. I did just that and after I got all things ready, including the card, I marched out the door. Phew, "Please, be just one minute late, at least!" Then one block away from the bus stop, I saw the bus, yes, THE bus. It was right there at the bus stop and I had 10 seconds to dash through one block and to cross the road, a main road – three lanes on both sides. Should I go for it? I thought, can my legs carry me through this? I was already walking very fast and my legs were heavy. Besides, looking back, I could have dropped the brownies bag or ruined the roses if I ran. Well, I didnt. I watched the bus leave without me. :( I waited another 20 min. for the next bus and it was on time. But while waiting for the bus I realized I left my cellphone at home. I remember the block no. and the unit no. of my senior citizen but what if I got them wrong? I wouldn’t be able to call anyone to ask. The next option would be to walk to the nearest pay phone around which could be a few blocks away from their house. And I was under time pressure. I was praying, “Lord, let me deliver these stuff today, on Valentine’s day itself, not any other. Surely, you love this old lady.” My window of visit was only 10-11am. I was waiting for the 10:20 bus and it takes 11 minutes to get there, and probably another 2-3 min. walk to her block from the bus stop. Well, the bus came on time and I found the block no., exactly as I remember it and I found the unit no., one number off but the door instantly opened when I pressed the door bell. I was expected. And so we had a great time visiting with each other. My senior citizen loved the flowers, the card and the brownies! Her son-in-law who was home cooking for their lunch offered to give me a lift as it will take only “two minutes” for him while it would take me about “an hour” having to wait for the next bus. But I politely and firmly declined. My visits are in no way going to alter anyone’s schedule or routine, they are going to be unobtrusive and will in no way inconvenience anyone. And it is going to be brief and sweet - volunteer work as it should be! I could have left exactly at 11am but I didn’t have my cellphone and there was no wall clock in the house. I didn’t want to keep asking for the time. It was 11:10am the first time I asked and I left immediately. How time flew! So there, mission accomplished! God is good. :)
The other half of the brownies.

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The Many Versions of Love Stories 1. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. They live happily ever after. 2. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. The marriage sours, they part, and live happily ever after. 3. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. Then boy finds out it's more fun to be girl... or girl finds out it's more fun to be boy, they part, change sexes and live happily ever after. 4.Finally, boy or girl meets God. It's love at first sight... The roads went rough, the tides rose high, the strong winds blew and the quake shook the ground... but they truly live happily ever after, forever and ever. 5. Try God's love... it's always happy forever after, and the story never ends. :-D