Fear of Heights

My fear of heights has gotten to the point that when people start to describe a very high place, my knees will turn weak. I get weak knees easily when I am not feeling 100 percent. Sometimes when I drive across the Bay Bridge on the far right lane, next to the railing, I would get weak knees. In fact, while I am describing this, my knees started getting weak. I also avoid driving up to Lake Tahoe because there is a stretch of road that looks down steep embankments.

It is so bad that even raised walkways will make my knees rubbery. Don’t even talk to me about elevators that have a glass view from floor to ceiling. Ugh. We have a balcony where we live, and it is permanently closed. It is bad enough for me. When I see someone leaning over the balcony, I am affected.

I remembered when we first move into our unit. We had to move our queen size bed up to the second floor of our place. Unfortunately, the main frame of the bed could not get past the low clearing that leads up to the second floor. The movers had to go to the bedroom windows and hoist the frame up from the balcony below. I could not even watch as the movers did this maneuver.

Earlier in life when I was with Sylvia at the Great America amusement park, Sylvia want to go up to this “space needle” that had a great view of the amusement park. Even though I was afraid of heights, I volunteer to go. I figured I just stay away from the balcony while she looks around. I did not know that the whole floor was transparent!!! I was hugging the elevator walls as I wait anxiously to go back down.

As I look back in my life, I believe it was the fall on the stairs of our home in Toi San, China that traumatized me. The way that my mom tell it was that when I was little I fell down the stairs and my left side of my head hit the hard stone stairs. Mom said that I bled and bled and the people did not know what to do to stem the bleeding. She said that that had to pack mud on my wound.

I had a chance one year to go back to my little village in the hills where my house was located. I was expecting to see at least one concrete stair in front of the house. We have two entrances by the way. I think we were also considered well-to-do because we had a collection well that catches the rain and give us indoor rainwater. Anyway, the stair that I thought was menacing was less that one inch from the ground in height. But in the home’s doorway is a raised barrier. You have to step over this to get in or out. I probably tripped over this as a child and bump my head.

The balcony!

To answer the question posed. I would walk out to our balcony and yell. Yahoo!


At the Table

My youngest sister, Maurine (She is sixth in birth order.) loves to talk. At our family, Christmas Eve gathering at my sister, Angie’s (I still call her Mae. She is second in birth order.) place, Margaret (She is fifth in birth order) and I was just listening to Maurine talk. As Maurine was talking, a distant memory of her came in my mind.

We were all sitting around the dinner table in our “Clementina” house. I call our place “Clementina” because of the street that our house is on. We were eating dinner. The dining room table is actually in the kitchen. We all sat at the table that held all eight of us. Dad sat at one end of the table. Mom sat at the opposite end of the table. The rest of us sat on the two sides. My back was to the stove behind me. Maurine was at one of the seats that had her back to the wall. I don’t remember where my other sisters sat. All of us would speak English among ourselves. When we talk to mom or dad, we would speak Cantonese. The image I have was that Maurine in her blue-green sweater would talk and talk and talk as we listen. Eventually, I would tell her to stop so that she could finish her meal.

At the table in Clementina

I don’t remember what we talk about. I do enjoy the time we spent as we ate together. I am not sure why my parents insist we sit and eat together. I am glad that we did. Except for occasional times in which dad would get upset with us for speaking in English, I can’t remember a too much sad time at the table.

I think dad must have had a bad day or something when he is upset. He would yell for us to speak in Cantonese. All conversation would stop. We ate in silence. Then after a spell, we would start up talking in English again.

To this day Sylvia and I would try to have dinner with everyone sitting at the table. The table is where we get to hear about each other’s day. Before we had foster children, we would eat at the table. News, laughter, and sadness were all part of our meals together.

Later on, when our foster girls joined us, we continue this tradition of eating at the table. It doesn’t happen every day but when both girls are home. We try to have at least one day of the week eating together at the table. Sometimes we go out to eat, I look forward to coming home and sitting around our table and just talk. News, laughter, and sadness continue in our home.

Night Driving

Our girls had a big trip planned. They are going to Hong Kong and visiting with their relatives. It was an early morning flight. I drove all of us to San Francisco International Airport at 4 am. It was very dark in the early morning. I considered this “night” driving.

I took my usual route to San Francisco via the Bay Bridge. I usually take the Grand Avenue entrance. The entrance was so dark that as I drove into it, it seems like there was nothing there. I was driving into darkness. I panicked slightly and slowed down as I entered. It was a scary moment thinking that I would crash into something.

Another thing that was disconcerting was that the lane on the freeway is not that well lit. The reflectors on the road were not reflecting. And the lines that mark the paths were worn and faded. I had a hard time driving within my lane, especially during the curving part. One is not sure where one strays from the road or not.

I thought the previous incident was just an aberration because I may have been tired for such an early morning task.

Not so. During the Christmas vacation. I would have to drive down to Redwood City for Sylvia’s family dinner. Driving home from Redwood City was tough. Again I could not see the lane and road very well.

It also happened the next day when we went to my side for a family dinner. Driving home at night was a chore as I again struggle to see the road.

I am not sure what will happen when I no longer feel safe driving at night.

This is not good

Turning Point

Lamb. I know some people would not eat lamb. I was one of those people. My mom was the one who introduced lamb to our family. It was always in a soup with a lot of ginger. I always thought the ginger was there to hide the taste of the lamb. The ginger did not. It still tastes gamey. The smell was also hard to take. You can always tell mom was making the soup because you can smell it through the house. The sad part of this was that we had to eat it. I tried eating this lamb, but I could not get through the smell and taste. I refused to eat mom’s lamb soup when she made it. Luckily for me, this soup was not made often. Often enough though that I swear off eating lamb.

When I married into Sylvia’s family, I met up with a family that ate lamb. Nevertheless, I held out and politely refused to eat lamb. Sylvia’s mom was sweet enough to provide an alternative when the family ate lamb. I was not going to eat lamb even if Sylvia’s family did.

One day, I was talking to Lena, a friend, and a mother of two children. I was not sure how we got into the conversation about not eating lamb. She told that there was a lamb whom her young daughter love. This lamb was from Costco. And her daughter loved it so much that she can eat all of it. I asked about the awful taste and smell of the lamb. Why would your child eat this because of the smell and taste? No, Lena said there is no terrible taste or smell of this lamb. It was mild and pleasant enough that her child was willing to eat it. Lena convinced me. I am going to try this lamb from Costco.

I’m in my sixty’s now when Sylvia bought lamb for me to bake and try. Add some rosemary and thyme for seasoning and cook to medium. Surprisingly there was no awful smell that I remembered. And upon eating it, there was no gamey taste. It was pleasant and mild. I did not mind eating this lamb from Costco. I like it. I would eat any lamb, even if it were not from Costco.

This is a turning point in my life. Not a big one as turning points. Nevertheless a turning point. Allow me to give you an analysis. I believed that the “lamb” that my mom bought was not lamb. I believed it was mutton. Lamb is meat from a one-year-old or younger animal. Mutton is from an adult sheep. All this time until I ate it, I didn’t know I ate mutton. Lamb was a lamb to me. Because of my earlier experience, I was not going to eat lamb. Now I know. I can and will eat lamb.

For this coming new year, may you have at least one turning point, no matter how old you are. Hopefully, your turning points will come earlier in your life. Like next year!

Yum! Lamb

Not Very Creative

Being creative and coming up with something to write has been hard for me. I went through the holiday week and can not seem to come up with something to write about.

I have no idea.

Oh, I have lots of thoughts about my sisters, relatives, children, and friends. I would love to write about them. Yet, I think, that would be hard to do because I would want to get permission from them on what I wrote. This would take some back and forth communication.

Hey! This is a good idea. Maybe I can write about them and send them an advance copy and ask if it okay with them. If they accept, I’ll publish. If not, I got a chance to write an unpublished work.

The alternative is to get help from somewhere else. This first piece comes from a place called thoughtquestions.com. Here is the question posted for today:

The first thing that comes to mind is that I am terrible at not brushing my teeth. I guess, the temptation to put off cleaning my teeth regularly. Beside my dentist, you now know my secret.

Let me try to explain. Up to this day, I do not have any cavity. Nada. Zippo. And because of this, I think I am blessed with good teeth. Good teeth, yes. But bad gum, ugh! If I don’t take care of my gums, I will lose my good teeth. So, yes. I want to brush regularly. I know my dentist wants me to brush. I agree. I am just not getting it done. Any helpful suggestions?

Where’s Your Girlfriend?

Little children say the most exciting things or ask the most surprising questions. When one is working with curious and young children, they tend to ask questions that they are thinking about. They do this without malicious intent. Just honest odd questions. Questions like: Why are you old? Are you a hundred years old? Why don’t you have hair?

And when some of them don’t want me to leave, they would ask: Where are you going? Where do you live? Why don’t you stay here?

The most interesting question I got was: Where’s your girlfriend?

My first initial answer was “I don’t have a girlfriend.” You are talking to a 68 years-old guy. I am thinking to myself: What can you be talking about? But the child’s question was not exactly as she wanted to ask. She had no frame of reference to ask a more specific inquiry. She wants to know who is the grey-hair lady that she sees me with. I get it now. Where is your wife? I told her that is not my “girlfriend” but my wife. And I produced a digital picture of Sylvia. I was thinking that I was pretty smart and telling this child who my wife is.

But the story is not finished. On Friday this week. This same child did not understand the word “wife.” On reflection, another child had asked what “wife” means. I attempt once again to explain who a “wife” was.

I said: You have a mommy?
She nodded her head.
I said: You have a daddy?
She nodded her head.
I put up two fingers and said: Mommy and daddy. And wiggling them, I said further “Sylvia, and I are like mommy and daddy.
And in her eyes, you can see that light bulb lit on her and smiling she said: “Oh, you live together?”

You live together?

At Least They’re Listening

Sylvia thought it would be cute if I share this little story with you regarding my work with preschoolers.

This little story happened on Wednesday afternoon with the preschoolers. I volunteered to read for the children stories since I will not have a chance to read on Friday morning. I have already picked out the books to read. These were the books initially scheduled for Friday. I usually read four books. One of my favorite book to read was Big Bad Bunny.

So the second book that I pull out to read was Big Bad Bunny. As the story goes, the bunny was a bad bunny who wanted your money. His first victim was a chick. He would come up to her and said: “Give me your money!” And to illustrate that I would extend my right hand out and say the phrase in a gruff voice. Not giving away the whole story, this would happen to the next two victims. And each time I come to the part where the bunny asks for money, I would extend my hand out and say “Give me your money!”

I think nothing of my four stories as we finished up and got ready to go outside. The school has a yard for the children to play in. After when we went out, a couple of children came up to me, extended to their hand and playfully said: “Give me your money!”.

I told this story to Sylvia, and she laughed. We both laughed because I said I do not know what the parents would say or think if their child went home, extended their hand and said: “Give me your money!” We hoped that the parents would know that this came from a story that ended well.

Well, one thing is for sure, some of them were listening!

Give me your money!
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