Posted in Daily, Life, Personal Musings, poetry, Work

Sustain, Build and Create

“The adventure of life is to learn. The purpose of life is to grow. The nature of life is to change. The challenge of life is to overcome. The essence of life is to care. The opportunity of like is to serve. The secret of life is to dare. The spice of life is to befriend. The beauty of life is to give.” William Arthur Ward

One of the most dreaded encounters is when meeting the “do-you-what-they-are-doing” acquaintances especially from the junior high network or the college group, that one selectively chooses to keep in touch with. Although one desperately tries to avoid it, inadvertently tidbits of information from the long chat are floating around in the head. What stays the longest are those achievements of the then perceived adversaries of junior high or college, whom internally longs one to put them to shame in the various aspects like career, achievements, accolades or life in general. Yet sometimes one realizes that they themselves are stuck in the drifts of life, floating in the middle.

“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”Joshua J. Marine

In those “drifting moments” when one realizes that their dreams, aspirations and desires in life are nowhere near the achievement mark; know that as long as the will stays firm, time will help you find a way through the hassles. Many a time, dreams are put on hold, not because of lack of trying but because certain other priorities come first. To expound further, the single mother puts their inner dream of writing a book but instead holds two jobs to make ends meet, the father who puts his “start up business ideas” on the wait-list as earning a steady income for the family is more important for now, or the teenager who longs to study law but for lack of tuition fee ends up doing another course altogether. There may be many instance of similar events when what one really wants to do takes a backseat to what one has to do for the present.

“Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.” Robert Louis Stevenson

Despite the dreams being put on hold, not letting them go is of utmost importance. Each one of us have been given a gift at doing something par excellence. No matter what form of art, talent or skill it may be; to not try and engage them in any manner at any point of time in one’s life is unforgivable. Not letting go of our dreams is essential. Over time, slowly build on them side by side; nurture them and let it grow gradually. Eventually it will prosper at the right time. As the refrain always goes, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” While comparing with those around oneself, never lose heart. Every masterpiece is made in it’s own time. Grow the dream over time, one by one and finally one will reach there.

Take one dream
Dream it in detail.
Put it into your own hands.
See its final outcome clearly in your mind.
Then mix it with a little effort and add a generous portion of ambition.
Stir briskly with confidence until the mixture becomes clear, the doubt separated from the resolution.
Then bake at an even temperature in a moderate mind until the dream rises and is firm to the touch.
Decorate with individuality.
Cut into generous portions and serve with justifiable pride.
Approached in this manner, life is a piece of cake.
-Bryce Courtenay

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, poetry, Quotes, Reflections

Eyes That Watch Us

“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.” W.E.B. DuBois

As the little toddler grows up in the family, certain mannerisms and phrases have been coming along too quickly for his age. From putting into place a cushion seat for his tiny legs during the allotted television time to aligning his shoes, experimenting with his father’s hair gel and picking up phrases of “Wipe your feet”, “no phone during meal times” and the like; highlights how much more they learn as they watch and observe the adults around them.

“What we are teaches the child far more than what we say, so we must be what we want our children to become.” Joseph Chilton Pearce

As time flies, being parents or guardians of these little wonders, one never realizes how much they significantly imbibe more from the world around them, than what they have been taught in the kindergarten or later even in school. Like the old adage goes, family is the first teacher of a child; the little things that children pick have an immense effect on their future. Whether it be the physical, emotional, mental or social aspects of their life, parents and elders are their first educators.

“Children or babies learn to mimic the vibration of the adults who surround them long before they learn to mimic their words.” Abraham-Hicks

For adults knowing this matters the most; for this silent teaching is what determines the future of those little ones. The errors of the present would require a huge effort in the future to be corrected then, instead of now. Realizing this significance in the present would shape their future thinking, behaviour and character. Time will always go ahead as always. Let the present memories not be those of regret and guilt; but treasured ones as they move ahead in their future lives.

“Your children will see what you’re all about by what you live, rather than what you say.” Wayne Dyer

When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator and I immediately wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you make my favourite cake for me and I learned that the little things can be the special things in life.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I heard you say a prayer, and I knew there is a God I could always talk to and I learned to trust in God.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had nothing and I learned that those who have something should give to those who don’t.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it and I learned we have to take care of what we are given.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn’t feel good and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw tears come from your eyes and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it’s alright to cry.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw that you cared and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I learned most of life’s lessons that I need to know to be a good and productive person when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I looked at you and wanted to say, ‘Thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn’t looking.’

– Mary Rita Schilke Korzan

Posted in Daily, Food

Add the “Cheese”

Being the lone one in the house, as a result of over time and off hours being allotted accordingly, enough and more time was spent on the ads section and advertisements were marked. Imagine when the leaflet advertising the discounted cheeseburger rates for the whole week ( in lieu of the national cheeseburger day, Sept 18th) were seen. As the hunger cravings rose to a peak by noon, the big lunch was foregone with the craving for cheeseburger. With a sparsely stocked larder and takeaway not an option in the downpour (besides being miles away from the town roads), creative cooking was the only option. Considering the leftovers and the supplies in the fridge, it was time to make something light. What happens when one places two mince meat patties with sliced tomatoes, crisp onion rings with a nice helping of cheese between two bread slices (out of buns). Voila, the homemade version of cheese burger is ready.

“Man who invented the hamburger was smart; man who invented the cheeseburger was a genius.” Matthew McConaughey

Essentially, a cheeseburger is a hamburger topped with cheese. Although the slice of cheese is added to the cooking hamburger patty shortly before serving, which allows the cheese to melt; variations exist depending on choice of having it melted solid or double extra. As for the cheese, from processed to melt-able cheese, options range from cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella, blue Cheese or pepper jack being the popular ones.

With the rise of cattle ranching, fast food chains, commercialization of food industry and rise of fast food; hamburgers had risen in popularity. The late 1920s saw the adding of cheese to hamburgers. Though several competing claims exist as to who created the first cheeseburger. Records repute that Lionel Sternberger (1926) had introduced the cheeseburger at the age of 16 when he was working as a fry cook at his father’s sandwich shop (Pasadena, California) “The Rite Spot” and “experimentally dropped a slab of American cheese on a sizzling hamburger.” Another similar mention of a cheeseburger smothered with chili for 25 cents was listed on the menu of O’ Dell’s restaurant (Los Angeles, 1928). However the trademark for the name “cheeseburger” was awarded to Louis Ballast of the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In in Denver, Colorado.

“You dont have to eat a whole cheeseburger, just take a piece of the cheeseburger.” Guy Fieri

Variations like steamed cheeseburger, soy cheese and vegan versions have been seen across the globe, with the ingredients adapting to the local cuisine and customs. All said and done, the cheese part has stayed on. There’s something fun about indulging in the occasional cheese burger ( homemade, fast food franchise made or deli made) once in a while. No matter how old or busy one is, the delights of the cheeseburger do stay strong.

“I take pleasure in the little things. Double cheeseburgers, those are good, the sky ten minutes before it rains,the moment your laugh turns into a cackle. And I sit here, and smoke my Camel straights, and I ride my own melt.” Ethan Hawke

Posted in Daily, Personal Musings, poetry, Quotes, Reflections, Work

Across the Choppy Waters

“Sometimes to change a situation you are in requires you to take a giant leap. But, you won’t be able to fly unless you are willing to transform.” Suzy Kassem

The captain of the ship hasn’t got their job cut out easy. While preparing their vessel for the short or long voyage, navigation charts are consulted, weather reports being analysed both the local and global trend, supplies stocked, medical emergencies anticipated as well as men and cargo to be looked after. When smooth sailing is predicted, there is a slight relief but the guard is still not lost. For the sea for all it’s friendliness can turn into a monster driven at times, by elements beyond it’s control. Unlike the land and air, where there may be a way out; for the ship in the sea, locating itself in the vast blue expanse is not always a possible task especially when a Mayday occurs. Despite all this, once the final destination is set, the captain steers his vessel across both the pleasant and the choppy troubled waters; always forging a way ahead.

“When written in Chinese the word “crisis” is composed of two characters – one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” John F. Kennedy

Just like the captain, we all have our own vessels to steer. For a family who has lost their maternal light to the young lady diagnosed with terminal illness or the investor who has suffered a major loss, the farmer who had lost his heavily funded crop, jobs made redundant, loss of scholarship due to poor choices and many more; the immediate future lies ahead bleak, stark and troublesome. Yet it is while navigating these roads that one learns to find their own inner strength as well as work once again, keeping His Word and His Will in sight. Although before starting off across the roads of the future, one has to decide to do so and not be in haste to make quick decisions and bury their head in the sand, hoping it would be all over soon.

“Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.” Unknown

Ask any captain and they will tell that the only way across a storm in middle of the journey is the way through, till one finds a rest stop. Any person who has battled difficult illness and survived, would tell prompt treatment instead of denial will help better. For the student who has lost scholarship, finding multiple jobs and pulling up their grades would help to stay on. Staying at rest for long never helps. Instead face the trouble squarely and find a way out through the tempest. For it is only through the bad situations in life, that one discovers the best and hidden talents of themselves.

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” Harriet Beecher Stowe

See It Through

When you’re up against a trouble,
Meet it squarely, face to face;
Lift your chin and set your shoulders,
Plant your feet and take a brace.
When it’s vain to try to dodge it,
Do the best that you can do;
You may fail, but you may conquer,
See it through!

Black may be the clouds about you
And your future may seem grim,
But don’t let your nerve desert you;
Keep yourself in fighting trim.
If the worst is bound to happen,
Spite of all that you can do,
Running from it will not save you,
See it through!

Even hope may seem but futile,
When with troubles you’re beset,
But remember you are facing
Just what other men have met.
You may fail, but fall still fighting;
Don’t give up, whate’er you do;
Eyes front, head high to the finish.
See it through!

Edgar Guest

Posted in Christian, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings

“They still Smile”…

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)

Meeting these little smiles on a Saturday afternoon ( as a part of the weekend voluntary community service) taught me a lot about life, His Grace and happiness. Attached to the hospital, along with the regular hospitalized patients, in association with the local NGO, there was a small home set up for the cancer patients ranging from the elderly and the few enrolled children, meant for their regular chemotherapy and minor hospitalizations. The purpose was to avoid them being cross infected by the general population. Spending an afternoon with them teaches one about the real essence and gifts of life.

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:16-17)

Despite the pain of the disease and the load of chemotherapy, the smile on their faces especially the little ones, never wavers. For them, the disease is indeed a part of their life but it doesn’t rule them. From engaging in their activities of school lessons, music and learning new skills of art and the like; their days aren’t lost in cribbing about their state of affairs, finding fault with life and God. Instead the spirit of resilience is seen in their approach to life. In comparison, it shames one when thinking about the usual grumbling at own lives, at the workplace or even within.

Interacting with the caregivers too, one learns a lot from their quiet acceptance to the strength that radiates from within. On seeing the suffering and the pain of their wards, along with the lost years of life can result in any parent or guardian being depressed, loosing hope in His Faith and dwelling in the negativity. Yet they face all those, come out from the bouts of depressing thoughts and conquer the storm within; so that their children can have their happy moments in life. While certain things may never change, the way we live in the present matters the most. No one ever knows the entirety of His Plan, but what one does know is that His Hope, His Grace and His Love is sufficient to survive in the world of the present.

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.” (Isaiah 58:8-9)

Posted in Daily, Food

Of Apples, Pastry and Sugar

“It looked like the world was covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon.” Sarah Addison Allen, First Frost

Peel the apples, uncore the slices and lay them on pastry crusts. The hole from the core may be filled with cinnamon, butter and sugar and sometimes dried fruit such as raisins, sultanas, or currants. Wrap the pastry crust around the apples and seal the seams to form them as dumplings. Place the dumplings on the pan, pour the spiced sauce over it and bake it in the oven. Voila, baked dumplings.
Lack of time or power outage for the electricity run oven.
Boil the dumplings and serve with brown sugar, cinnamon, berry preserve, maple syrup, honey, cottage cheese, chocolate syrup or any toppings of choice. That’s boiled dumplings for dessert.

These pastry-wrapped apple were among the earliest fruit puddings, being a popular add on at major social gatherings and had at all social levels. Served as breakfast, main side dish or dessert, there were popular and could be had cold, hot or just as it was. Although the boiled versions were the initial recipes, it was the baked ones that were more popular across the menus of established restaurants.

“A man cannot have a pure mind who refuses apple dumplings.” Charles Lamb

While the Austrians have their apfelnockerln (“large, soft” apple dumplings), Czech cuisine have their fruit dumplings, including apple known as ovocné knedlíky and are eaten with quark or tvaroh cheese, often served as a complete meal. The German Apfelklöße (1801) are elaborate “small pudding of apples,” cored and filled with jam or marmalade, sometimes raisins or nuts, wrapped in pastry, boiled, and topped with a sweetened sauce containing raisins, sugar, cinnamon, and wine. While in the United Kingdom, these apple dumplings were referred to as form of suet puddings with the prepared dumplings tied in cloth and boiled. On the other side of the western sphere, apple dumplings were considered as cultural staples (United States).

Seasonal fruits were used similarly to make fruit dumplings. Like the Austrian and Hungarian Knödel ( dumplings stuffed with plums), Crotian Knedle sa šljivama (dessert dish of plum dumpling with a potato dough), Austrian Marillenknödel (apricot dumplings) and the traditional Czech recipes of dumpling filled with plums, apricots, strawberries or blueberries. A similar dish is baked apples (minus the pastry shell). Unpeeled apples are cored (some preparations remove only the top part of the core leaving a half-inch at the bottom) and stuffed with fillings such as butter, brown sugar, currants, raisins, nuts, oatmeal, spices and other ingredients.

Made any way, boiled or baked, pastry covered or not, these perfect pocket sized simple desserts are perfect add-ons for simple, elaborate or too tired to cook days. With imagination running riot, what better way is there to make perfect use of the cold weather, indulge the sugar cravings with apples and sweet and make way for this traditional recipe not just simple and wholesome but a treat for the artistic eye and creative cooking.

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World, Work

Share to Succeed

“People achieve more as a result of working with others than against them.” Dr. Allan Fromme

With clearing of the heavy rains, the town had needed a complete revamp of the municipal bock lawns, with tree limbs broken and scattered and muddy pools run all over the lawn. On the first look, clearing of the lawn seemed to be an impossible task. As the council meeting took place, every one of the attendees had pitched in, bringing more volunteers along the way. Slowly order was restored of what had looked like a seemingly impossible task.

“The power of one, if fearless and focused, is formidable, but the power of many working together is better.” Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

Above instances and many more similar ones, have always shown that the power of a team or set of people working in a synchronous mode can make the most drab, mundane or difficult task feasible. Each one has their own strengths and weakness. On pooling the efforts, the strengths add on, cancelling out the respective weakness amongst each other. Eventually together the task at hand is settles. While man is an social animal; each one has their own plate to handle. Learning when to combine the plates together for a splendid meal and when to have them independently at the right time, helps to balance the individual mind with the social order. Life needs both, individual as well as group effort. Too much of wither can result in proper gain of none or loss of all.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” Helen Keller

The Stone Soup Story
Many years ago three soldiers, hungry and weary of battle, came upon a small village. The villagers, suffering a meagre harvest and the many years of war, quickly hid what little they had to eat and met the three at the village square, wringing their hands and bemoaning the lack of anything to eat. The soldiers spoke quietly among themselves and the first soldier then turned to the village elders. Your tired fields have left you nothing to share, so we will share what little we have – the secret of how to make soup from stones.’

Naturally the villagers were intrigued and soon a fire was put to the town’s greatest kettle as the soldiers dropped in three smooth stones. ‘Now this will be a fine soup’, said the second soldier; ‘but a pinch of salt and some parsley would make it wonderful!’
Up jumped a villager, crying ‘What luck! I’ve just remembered where some’s been left!’
Then off she ran, returning with an apron full of parsley and a turnip. As the kettle boiled on, the memory of the village improved: soon barley, carrots, beef and cream had found their way into the great pot, and a cask of wine was rolled into the square as all sat down to feast. They ate and danced and sang well into the night, refreshed by the feast and their new-found friends.

In the morning the three soldiers awoke to find the entire village standing before them. At their feet lay a satchel of the village’s best breads and cheese. ‘You have given us the greatest of gifts – the secret of how to make soup from stones’, said an elder, ‘and we shall never forget.’ The third soldier turned to the crowd, and said: ‘There is no secret, but this is certain, it is only by sharing that we may make a feast’, then off the soldiers wandered, down the road.
Author Unknown

“Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste.” Charlotte Bronte