Z is for Zither

When I was a little girl I had a special little musical instrument called a zither.  It was a little lap harp that was played by plucking the strings.  It was made for kids and had little music sheets you could slip under the string so you would be able to play different songs.  Ours was made mostly of metal, I think.

I don’t really know where it came from or who it belonged to before me- but I’m pretty certain it was a toy from long before my era.

It would be a fun instrument to have now for my own children, but at $42 (so says one site I found) I think I’ll just let them watch it on YouTube or give them a waxed-paper comb to play.  🙂

Now, for your listening enjoyment- Fur Elise, on the zither.

And if you are REALLY bored, here is a video of a guy playing a comb covered in plastic (there’s a YouTube video for everything under the sun!).

Thanks for stopping by for the April A-Z blog challenge!  It was a fun way for me to get back into blogging.  Magingat sa inyong lahat!


W is for Wreck

Our family in 2007

One day a several years ago when we still lived in Canada I was picking up our babysitter for the evening.  Dennis and I had a special banquet to go to so I left with enough time to pick up the sitter, get back home, dress up and make it to the banquet on time.  As I left the sitter’s house I guess I was in a hurry and didn’t notice a stop sign that was tucked up high on a corner, partly obscured by a pine tree.

I sailed through the intersection and in slow motion the scene unfolded in front of me. My van, a four door sedan coming from the right, the collision right on top of the manhole, the slow, scraping journey of momentum that took us to the curb on the other side.

I was stunned.  It was my first accident and to top it all off I had someone else’s precious teenage daughter in my passenger seat!  As steam poured out from under my hood I looked behind us to see what had happened to other car.  It was full of people and they were starting to get out.  Four tiny little ladies.  Long black and white cloth.  I couldn’t believe my eyes: I had hit a car full of nuns!

The neighbors started pouring out of their houses to see what had happened.  It isn’t every day you see four nuns in a car wreck.  Someone let me use their cellphone to call Dennis.  It took me about 10 tries to get my shaking hands to dial the number properly.  The police came.  One of the nuns was taken to the hospital to get checked out; she had been very shaken by the crash.  It appeared that no one had been seriously hurt.

Right away I admitted to the policeman that I had been at fault but he still crossed himself when I told him that perhaps the nuns had been speeding.  Maybe if I had whipped out my habit I usually keep in the back seat he would have been scared to give me a ticket?

After it was all over and I rode away from the scene one impression lingered in my mind- the sight of the travelling saint bobble-head figurine on the dashboard of the nuns’ car, nodding away vigorously.

T is for Toilets

Yes, you read that right.  I want to write about toilets.  In fact, I scratched a whole paragraph I had started on the subject of toothpaste (which is also interesting but not quite as interesting as toilets) in lieu of a blog post dedicated to the subject of toilets.

You may have preferences in this area of personal hygiene.  I know I do.  I prefer a toilet to be clean, have a seat and have toilet paper available nearby.  I want to be able to flush the tissue down.

I also know what I don’t want.  I don’t want to see any sort of liquid on the seat or around the base.  In fact, I don’t want to have to worry about what is on the floor at all.

I have had to rethink all my preferences in the last two years.  The first thing I noticed here was that tissue isn’t flushed down.  There is usually a small trash can located near the toilet for the tissue to be placed.  There are signs posted warning against flushing down toilet paper.

Public toilets often do not have a seat.  We’ve gotten used to that now and don’t really care so much anymore.

Public toilets usually do not have toilet paper available.  To get around this we carry small packages of tissue in our bags.  Dennis had to get a “man bag” because there are some things a person just has to carry- like hand sanitizer and tissue.

Public toilets usually do not have soap.  If they do, it is out already or is watered down to the consistency of, well, water.  So we are really good at remembering to stick that hand sanitizer in our bags.

There is often liquid on the floor in public bathrooms.  It took me awhile to realize why.  It is still gross, but not as gross as I imagined.  Water is often used in conjunction with tissue here for more cleanliness, and sometimes splashing water around can get a little messy.  But at least it is just water.  In fact, lots of bathrooms have a little bidet installed, a mini sprayer like the ones we are used to seeing at the kitchen sink.  If there isn’t a bidet installed then most people use a tambo, a medium sized dipper.

When Button was in the hospital last fall for dengue she had a really cool toilet in her hospital room.  It had several automatic sprayers for different needs, I guess.  If you have watched the movie Cars 2 you may remember Mater in the restroom pushing lots of buttons and being startled at what was happening to him as he got sprayed from different angles.  That is what this one was like.

And there you have it.  Things you never knew you didn’t know.  You’re welcome.

S is for Squeaky

In our house, S is for Squeaky.  Squeaky just turned eight last week.  I don’t think I know yet how to parent an 8 year old- after all, I’m only three days into it so far.  But something about “eight” seems so much older than “seven”.  I don’t know why.

There are so many things I love about Squeaky.  She is so creative.  She loves to make up stories and plays, write and illustrate books, design activity sheets and magazines.  She dreams about opening a bookstore and a restaurant.

It is fun to see my little baby girl turn into someone I can talk to.  I enjoy talking to Squeaky and finding out what she’s thinking.  She’s a thinker!  One day recently Squeaky and I had a serious conversation about obedience.  I was talking to her about how sometimes it seems like she takes a really long time to do whatever I’ve asked her to do.  She grabbed a piece of paper and scribbled a little picture to help illustrate her point of view.  This actually was really helpful!  It made me understand her in a way I never had before.

She explained that in the first picture she is standing by her bed and laying her jammies out on it.  Then comes the command, “Put on jammies.”  And the last box is what she really wanted me to know, “I want to have fun while obeying.”  🙂  I thought this was a great insight for a 7 year old to have about themselves.  It has been helpful since then.  I’ve been able to tell her when she just needs to obey for the sake of speed or safety or when she has time to have fun while obeying.

R is for Rat and Revelation

We have a rat.  Yes, and not a pet one.  We first saw our rat around Christmas bounding down our stairs in large leaps.  It looked like a cat from the corner of our eye.  We are having trouble catching it.  We’ve put poisonous cookies out for it- consisting of a delightful concoction of rat poison, grease and cornmeal wrapped like a fire cracker in newspaper.  I’m not sure what good that is doing but hopefully maybe we’ve killed off a few mice and cockroaches that way.

We also have sticky fly paper out that effectively catches mice.  One morning, we found long grayish fur stuck in it and it had moved a few feet.  It looked like a struggle had taken place.  Doom, doom, doom…

This blog is also a revelation, because until now we hadn’t disclosed this information to the general public.  By that I mean, someone who used to live here may find this post to be quite disturbing.

Q is for Q-B-doo-B

Q-B-doo-B, also known as Winnie on my blog, is the perfect thing to talk about for the letter Q.  Our third born, this little person adds so much sparkle to our home.  She loves turtles, silliness, scraps of paper, cuddles, paper, small little things, and … paper!

We just celebrated her 5th birthday last week.  Since she was our youngest for four years of her life she has many of the youngest characteristics- she loves to make people laugh and sometimes still acts a little like a baby.  And of course we treated her like our baby for four whole years so I’m not too surprised.  Sometimes I still have to scoop her up and cradle her in my arms when she’s walking by…  She’s so dinky that she still fits nicely in there.

Q-B-doo-B is very unique.  She will play quietly by herself for hours, making up little games with little toys or scraps of paper (have I mentioned the paper yet?).  She is left handed and often writes perfectly backwards and mirror-image from right to left although she is able to write forwards and properly as well.  I’ve wondered about that sometimes but she just tells me she likes to do it the other way more.  

We just love our little girl and are so thankful she is a part of our family.

Winnie playing a game she made up-  I’d try to explain, but it was complicated. 🙂

(For some reason the photo uploader on blogger has been doing this to my pics lately.)

P is for Polvoron

It took me awhile to discover this little treasure of the Philippines.  In fact, I remember biting into a polvoron for the first time at the birthday party of one of our teachers over a year after we had moved here.  As it crumbled all over my face (because as all good polvoron eaters know you cannot take a bite out of one and expect to remain tidy) I simultaneously felt like I had encountered something new and amazing and had come home.  It was like powdery, creamy loveliness all packed into a little cellophane wrapper- tasting much like a shortbread cookie but 100 times better.

On the day we first met
I knew I would never be the same.
How could I have gone 31 years without knowing you?
Crumbling, delicate,
Melting richness
I didn’t know how sweet life could be.
What does it matter that I have a hard time spelling your name?

If you have never experienced the life-changing goodness of this delicacy, you will just have to come to the Philippines.  Or maybe I’ll bring some home the next time we come.  Or I might just eat it all on the plane.