Monday, January 30, 2012

Memory Monday: Murky Soup- Part I

My husband and I stumbled into the complex world of DNA and Genes in the year 2009. We were sent a labyrinth of funny symbols and numbers leading us to an elusive truth and more questions than answers. How did we embark on this amazing quest? It actually started long before we ever sent in the cheek swab to the DNA testing lab.

Daniel grew up in a Chinese home in Malaysia, but he always suspected his dad was not fully Chinese. His grandparents were Chinese and all his aunts and uncles on his dad's side were also Chinese- but his father was the odd duck in the mix. Rumors circulated in the town about some mysterious man who might have been his actual father. Anytime we tried to ask Daniel's grandmother anything she would retort with, "I nursed him for 8 years" or "A coconut tree fell on me when he was in my belly and I gave birth under the tree" All useless bits of information which were meant to stop any future questions.

Over the years, we joked about trying to find out the real story behind Daniel's father's origins. We were convinced that at least he was 1/2 Chinese, as we assumed his mother was his biological mother. We thought of exploring the possibilities of what his father's father could have been. When DNA testing became more prevalent, we toyed with the idea of having a test done. The cost and the fact we were living in Ghana at the time hindered us from going through with the test.

In 2009, we had settled here in the US and it just seemed the right time to send in the for a Y-chromosome test. This is a test which only traces from father to son- with no mixtures from the female line. To be honest, when we sent the test in we were sure the results would come back saying Daniel's paternal line contained some North Indian DNA. What a shock to all of us when we opened the results and read that his paternal line was most definitely Caucasian in nature! 

Neisha, Sean and Daniel's Dad

First, we reacted with confusion.  In fact, Daniel came to me and said, "The results are in."  I was excited and asked him what they were. He couldn't even tell me, he said, "You have to see for yourself."  When I read the results I said, "This can't be right! They've made a mistake."

The confusion turned to outrage.  Our initial thought was, "The lab must have made a mistake!!"  I even wrote a very strong email to the company we had tested with telling them I was not happy with the way they had messed up our test results.  They sent me an expert to communicate with. After conferring with the expert in the field, it was decided this might not be a mistake but rather a very possible scenario. Daniel's dad was born in Oct 1946- the British army returned to Malaya in September 1945. There was a British encampment near his home town from 1945 to 1946, thus making his DNA findings believable. 

Now Daniel was scratching his head...he was wondering who he really was (biologically). The expert we contacted suggested we do a Y-DNA test on Daniel's father to verify the original results...and to make sure we were totally satisfied, we should use a different company. If the Y-DNA results came back the same, then we would know they had to be correct. Then Daniel decided he also needed to do a Maternal line test on his father, as by this time he suspected there was more to the story than he could find out via normal means. His grandparents were dead, so there was no way for us to ask them for information, we had to rely on the DNA tests to give us answers. 

Cheeks were swabbed. Cotton swabs were sent across oceans. We waited patiently for the results of the already murky DNA soup. We were to find out more surprises and more questions...for isn't this the fascinating world of DNA? be continued.... 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Feature Friday- Birds Nobody Loves

Birds Nobody Loves: A book of Vultures & Grackles by James Brush. This title drew me in. I am not a bird person; in fact, I know very little about birds.  It fascinated me to think of a book written about birds nobody loves…hold on, not just a book…as in a novel with an interesting title…but a book of poetry. 

Isn’t poetry supposed to be about lovely things or sad things or heartfelt things? Okay, I knew I must have a copy to see how the author, James Brush, pulled off an entire book of poetical verse about birds nobody loves. 

I downloaded the book onto my IBooks. Flip- flip- flip (reading the entire way through) and before I knew it I was at the end of the book. I went back through and stopped at the pieces I found really hit me. So how do I think James Brush pulled this off… magnificently!  

First, I was amazed that I would even like pieces about birds- let alone, ones nobody loves. I mean, I could imagine poems about blue birds and peacocks and the like…but grackles?? Number one, what in heaven’s name is a grackle? To my amazement, I enjoyed each piece. By the third read, I was seeing layers in some of the pieces…wise layers…intriguing layers. I knew this was a keeper.

Second, the words were beautiful. You see, I have a ‘thing’ about words. I like words that flow and dance across a page. I love words gliding effortlessly in front of me causing me to stop breathing for just a moment. I love words which create mind masterpieces. Such were the words I encountered in Birds Nobody Loves

I caught my breath
when you confessed
that you loved vultures too.”
- Confession

Only common grackles like this heat.
The other birds hold still like
Knots in the trees, silent waiting for dusk,
Trying to keep their colors from melting
into the brown grass and faded leaves.”
 -Summer Solistice

High on a power line, he cranes his neck upward
stretching his beak to drink this northern sky.
On other power lines, other grackles do
the same,
Each hungry to gulp down this bright blue day.
 - Quiscalus Mexicanus

“…Now I understand
Vultures, too, are beautiful:
They clean our messes

Faster than military undertakers
Or even the highway department
 - Patton’s Army

There were many more lines which enthralled me- captivated me- but I don’t want to spoil it for you. So I will leave you to discover what makes this book about Birds Nobody Loves so fascinating. I can honestly say, when I reached the end of the book I wished there was more for me to read. 

If you want to find out more about James Brush- you can visit either of his two blogs: Coyote Mercury or A Gnarled Oak. If you want to find out more about how to purchase the book, you can check out James Brush's post on the subject.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wild Wednesday- Winter Wonderland

Definitely cannot let this Wednesday slip by without making mention of the snow storm which swept through Western Washington. I was here in 2008, when the last 'big' snow storm hit and there was a definite difference this time. What was the difference?

First, people were encouraged to be prepared. Cities went on high alert. Houses were stocked up on needed supplies. Communication in regards to what to expect and what to do was prolific. The result was less people caught unprepared.

Second, people made wise choices. Once the storm hit, most people chose to remain indoors. "only go out if you absolutely have to" was the advice being given and the majority of the people chose to listen to that advice. The result of this meant fewer accidents on the road.

I found myself being far more productive this time, because I knew what to expect. My hubby and I have been wanting to turn our youngest daughter's old bedroom into a home office. What better time to do it than when we were stuck in the house with snow pounding down on us!  

Wanted to record this memory- because I know I had a record of the 2008 snow storm- and I wanted to have one of this year's storm. No children around this time- this definitely made it feel different- there was no rushing out into the snow to build a snow man. No sitting around drinking hot chocolate. There was a lot of moving furniture around and reading the Bible and praying. There was also a lot of me asking silly questions, "So hon, this is it- you and me- what do you think?"

"What do you mean, what do I think?"

"Do you think you'll get tired of me now that the kids are gone?"



"I can't get enough of you....don't you know that by now?"

This was almost as good as when he told me, "I love you so much that I still want to go to the store with you when I'm angry at you"- the most romantic thing he could have ever said to me :) you see why I love the guy???!!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Memory Monday- Happy Chinese New Year!

 Singapore dollars sticking out of an old ang pow
Every Chinese New Year our family will eat a special meal together- on Chinese New Year Eve- a 'reunion' dinner. Early on Chinese New Year day, the children would dutifully wish us a happy New Year. In response to their greeting, we hand them an ang pow (red packet with money inside). 

my many red packets...some with Bible verses on them
The rule is that only single children receive the ang pows. This year all my children are married. I did leave an ang pow in Denver for little Kailynn, my granddaughter. We skyped so she could greet us with the "Gong Xi Fa Cai" and then she received her ang pow from Grams and Grandpa-pa. 

The before picture
the after picture :)
Work schedules did not allow for us to have a reunion dinner on the proper day. We were able to get together on Saturday for an early celebration. Katrina fixed up her house wonderfully. She had prepared Gyoza as an appetizer.  Daniel cooked up delicious Malaysian Chinese fare and we all ended with the dessert- gula melaka! All in all, it was a wonderful get together and the tradition continues.

* in case you are confused as to WHY we celebrate Chinese new year- my hubby is a Chinese or at least that was what we thought-- until we found out he is actually only 1/2 Chinese (his mom is Chinese), 1/4 Irish and 1/4  Punjabi (from his dad) we found all this out is a story all of its own- very intriguing- but hey, since we only found this out 2 years ago- we still carry on the tradition.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Feature Friday: The Love Story Behind...

Normally I review books which I enjoyed. Today I am featuring a book which I did not quite care for. I can't exactly tell you why I didn't like it. Maybe because I've always loved Gone with the Wind and the author, and this book made me see a bit too much behind the curtain. 

 When I turned the last page of Gone with the Wind, I wished it would go on and on. When I reached the final page of The Love Story behind Gone with the Wind it was almost a relief it was finally over.

As far as research and presentation, the book is well written. I appreciated the well documented notes in the back of the book. The book can be laborious at times. There were instances where I felt there could be less repetition of facts. Having said this, the writing did go smoothly considering how long the book is. (517 pages of story text) 

On a positive note, this is a book which will give every aspiring author hope. The way Margaret Mitchell managed to get her novel published is quite incredible. It was her one swan song and she sang it throughout her life.

Don't take my word for it though, you can read it for yourself and decide what you think. I won my copy from Books, Belles & Beaux. In fact, you can go and check out the great review she did on the book. She has a much more favorable approach to it.

Now is your chance to win a copy of The Love Story Behind Gone with the Wind- I only have one copy, which is in great condition- so if you would like it please be the first person to comment with "I want this book" :) I will mail it off to you as soon as possible.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wild Wednesday- Only me! (2009)

The year was 2009 and I had moved to the States, settling down in Renton, Washington.  My Dutch friends, Henk and Maria, came for a visit and of course I wanted to share with them the hidden treasure I had discovered in Tacoma. We had a list of places to go, but finally we were able to make it down to Tacoma on a Monday.

Unfortunately, when we walked up to the door of Sanford and Son, it looked dark inside.

"Oh no, don't tell me they are closed!" I grasped the handle of the door just to be sure and lo and behold it opened. "Oh, it is open after all" I motioned to my husband and Henk and Maria to join me. I couldn't stop talking about how wonderful the treasure was...but I didn't want to tell them what it was..."You'll see, it is a surprise!"

"It seems rather dark in here." Maria noted. 

"hmm...yes a bit dark...but come on down, you'll be amazed by what is in the basement." I was busy forging ahead down into the soul of the building. 

"Is it always this quiet?" Henk asked. "No one seems to be around." My husband concurred and they spoke of leaving, but I quickly urged them to continue following me down to the basement. How excited I was for them to see the treasure hidden below.

It did seem strange that there was no one around and the place appeared darker than I remembered....but I brushed those thoughts aside. Henk and Maria were impressed with the find downstairs. However, the dead silence of the building could not be denied any longer and Henk and Maria said, "I think we need to leave."

Up through the corridors of the building we scurried. I reached the door we had entered. I grabbed the handle, only to discover we were locked in. Oh yes, you read that correctly, we were locked in. We ran around to windows and doors, but unfortunately we were most definitely locked in and the locks were such that we had no way of getting out without a key! 

"Hello!!!!!! Is anyone else in here??" 

Silence greeted us.

We found a card with the owner's number on it and used our cell phone to call him. 

"Rrrrrriiiinnngggg" oh great- the sound was coming from a telephone in the shop itself. 

All three of my companions looked at me like they wanted to kill me. I could do nothing but laugh....I do that when I'm nervous...there I was standing in a glassed in foyer, watching people walking by and there was no way to get out. So I began to yell through the door, "Help! We are locked in"

A homeless man stopped and tried the handle, it wouldn't budge. He said, "Just turn the handle on the inside."

"We tried, it won't open."

He laughed and turned away shaking his head. A man working on the street came by, and we yelled for help. He tried as he might to figure out how to get us out, but unfortunately there was no hope for escape. All this while, Henk was trying every door in the building. He found a door which appeared to be unlocked and he attempted to open it, but there was someone on the other side and she screamed, "GET OUT!  How did you get in here!!"

We all ran towards the door trying to open it. "We are trapped in here- can you help us get out??"

By this time, we had called 911 to tell them of our predicament. I won't even begin to tell you about the muffled laughs we heard on the line as they were trying to get their heads around our situation.

The woman in the room yells, "I will call 911"

"I've already done that." I responded, "We aren't here to hurt you, we really want to get out!"

"I'm calling the owner." She yells.

"Please do!"

I couldn't help the laughter that kept erupting inside of me with each new encounter. My companions were not amused by my giggles.  Just about then we heard the door unlock and the lady, visibly shaken, crept out. "Okay, the owner told me where he has hidden an extra key..." She moved quickly and retrieved the key and let us out the door into the sunshine.

Just as we emerged, the police car pulled up. I quickly assured them we were fine now and thanked them for their response. They shook their heads and said, "Well, please try to stay out of locked buildings in the future." I distinctly heard laughter as they drove away. 

My husband said, "Only you, Connie!! Only you could have gotten us into this mess."  Yes, this is true...I have a knack for getting myself into interesting situations....but they prove to be comical memories, which I fish out from time to time so I can have a good laugh.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Memory Monday- Hidden Treasures (2006)

The year was 2006 and I was on a brief visit to the States from Ghana.  My daughter, Cass decided she wanted to show me Tacoma's 'old town' antique district. When we arrived on Broadway street, a parking space was not difficult to find. The weather was perfect for a pleasant day of strolling in and out of shops. We pondered over vintage dresses that would have looked superb on Cass, but the costs were prohibitive. The prices didn't stop us from dreaming of what they would look like if we did buy them. 
"... you could wear this one for an evening out on the town...and that one would be just excellent for a job interview....and of course, that little number would do nicely for a romantic evening- which you are too young to even think about at this time- so let's move on to the next shop....."

Almost to the end of our browsing we stepped into an insignificant antique store. It looked almost like an old five and dime store, although I'm not even sure what those looked like except what I've seen on the movies. No one was around, and we gingerly made our way down the aisle. 

Suddenly a voice stopped us...."Is this your first time in here?" The voice came from behind the glass counter. Up popped a friendly lady munching on something. She was trying to look like she wasn't munching, but I could tell her jaws were definitely moving in a 'munching' motion. Flicking some crumbs off her chin she continued, "Well if this is your first time, you have to make sure to see the other two levels."
I instinctively looked up. 

"No, the levels are down below"

Cass looked down at the floor. The lady motioned towards the back of the store, "The stairs are back there."

We thanked her and walked towards the back of the store and sure enough there was the staircase. For some reason it made us giggle...and giggle is what we did for most of our journey down into the soul of the building. I think it was just the excitement of having found such a treasure!! 

We walked down an incline on what must have been a loading dock of some sort in days gone by.  Along the way there was shop after shop- all very well decorated and cozy. We ended up on a floor that was dazzling in its day. We walked past furniture that should be sitting in a King's palace, and yet here it sat all dusty and worn. I couldn't help thinking of all the stories these pieces of furniture could tell me if they could only speak. 
On the third floor down, the real treasure was hidden. A most glorious and spectacular library...not a big library...mind you...but such a masterpiece of one. It was like a dream come true. A tacky little sign with arrows pointing in opposite directions was attached to the middle of the bookshelves: "Ten dollars for all books this direction, Fifteen dollars for books this direction" (or something to that effect).

We didn't want to leave this glorious discovery, but could see that time was escaping us. When we emerged into the sunshine, we couldn't stop commenting on what a wonderful experience that had been.

Cassandra decided that we needed to buy something...just a token remember this most wonderful day. We went into a few remaining shops- now all appearing so 'normal.' The last shop we entered had the tea cup we knew we must buy ...."$10"....a good price for a very pretty tea cup with a saucer....we both agreed this was the right purchase to be made. Now every time I see the tea cup perched on my counter, I can't help but smile at the memory of a hidden treasure.

* The delicious treasure is found in the bowels of Sanford and Son in Tacoma. If you are ever in town, don't forget to visit them, you will not regret your time there. 

** all pictures courtesy of Sanford and Son Facebook page. 

*** Don't just take my word for it, see the great reviews on Yelp

**** picture of THE tea cup added on request of Rama

Friday, January 13, 2012

Feature Friday: Evidence Not Seen

By now you should know that I love to read and I've read my share of biographies, autobiographies and memoirs. Each and every one of them are special in their own way; however, there are some that rise up above the rest. "Evidence Not Seen" by Darlene Deibler Rose is a book which stands out for me.

I read the book almost 9 years ago and I still can remember parts of it vividly. Darlene's memoir focuses on her experiences as a young wife going to New Guinea and subsequently being interned for four years in a prisoner of war camp. 

Darlene has a magnificent way of keeping the reader right there with her as she is pulled away from her husband and thrown into captivity. After being falsely accused of a crime, she suffers untold horrors and yet the hope never dies in her heart. It is uplifting to see how the human spirit can overcome even the most difficult of circumstances knowing that God is there in the midst of them.

If you want to read a book which you won't be able to put down, this is definitely the book for you! I will leave you with a brief excerpt from the book...just something to tease your reading taste buds...

"'As an American spy you are worthy of death....' With that, he drew his finger across his throat and slapped the hilt of the sword at his side. All time froze around terror I watched the man's hand fold around the hilt of the sword..."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wild Wednesday: Mask anyone?

"Although I know it is unfair, I reveal myself one mask at a time" ...Stephen Dunn

It is interesting the things we think about when we are shopping. I sometimes go to Albertson's to purchase chicken....the man serving me at the meat counter is the sweetest and most polite man I've met in my life. He is tall and his arms are massive (as in strong) but he just seems so gentle.

As I wait for him to weigh the chicken, I start thinking, I wonder if he is a writer? Does he go home and  sign in  on his computer to a writing site such as Does he have a blog online on or word press?  Maybe he doesn't go online to write but he has a drawer full of scribbled papers that he hopes to build into a novel one day. I mean- that is a possibility, right?

Sometimes I look at someone and think, "He looks like a writer." What does a writer look like? I mean, seriously?  We walk down the street and cross the road because we think someone looks like a thug. As if there is some picture in a dictionary somewhere next to the definition of criminal or thug and that person walking towards us is a perfect match.

We are afraid of a person because of the way they look.  In actual fact, most scary people don't actually look scarey. They look like the 'boy/girl next door.'  Take the BTK guy-- I mean, he gives me the heebie jeebies everytime I see a picture of him- he looks like my dad. Look at what Ted Bundy used to look like, no one would have guessed he was a serial killer.

We judge so many people by the way they look, or the way they don't look. If they have or don't have a certain type of clothing, we put them into a certain box. We judge by what we see on the outside- and in actual fact the only thing that really counts is what is on the inside!!

The outside, more often than not, can simply be a mask.....

Monday, January 9, 2012

Memory Monday: Amazing Love

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
-Psalms 147:3

Growing up in my home was always an interesting experience. My parents were firm believers in 'if everyone does their part there will be no more hurting people.'  This roughly translated into having a houseful of people who society had given up on.  It sometimes presented some very funny situations;  It always proved the great healing power of love.

People would come into our home emotionally, physically and spiritually tied into knots. They would leave after a few months restored with a sound mind. These were people who society and doctors had thrown up their hands with and said, "No hope!" And yet, when these 'hopeless' cases came in contact with the awesome power of God's love, there emerged hope and as a result there was restoration.

It would take several hours to recount all the amazing stories of changed lives, but one in particular jumped into my mind this morning. His name was Colin. He was in his early twenties and his heart had been broken into a million splintered pieces. As a result, his body slowly folded up into a pretzel styled puzzle piece. He lost control of bodily functions and constantly smelled of urine. He came to our home in this condition. 

I was around 7 years old. Colin loved to hobble his way to wherever I was at the moment and sit next to me. He couldn't talk. He would just sit, all twisted up, next to me. I would chatter away to him about whatever I was doing at the moment. If he had an accident and the smell of urine became too intense, I would let my folks know. 

My mom and dad prayed over him daily. He was in our morning devotions. He ate with us. He sat in church with us. His voice came back to him. He prayed to forgive those who had broken his heart and we watched as the splinters slid back in place. One by one, each shattered piece aligned itself to the next and a new heart began to emerge. 

As the days turned into weeks, his body did a most extraordinary thing. His arms slowly twisted back into their original shape. His neck and shoulders straightened up. With each new day, his contorted fingers relaxed and spread out.  He no longer sat catatonic next to me, he would talk incessantly and tell me of his dreams for the future. When he stood up to leave my side, he stood straight and tall.

He came into our home crippled and broken. When he left our home, he walked out with a firm step and hope for the future. What amazing medication was used for this transformation? There was no other salve than the amazing love of God!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Feature Friday- Readings in Reverse

It is not every day that you come across a blog which is just a little bit out of the ordinary. Although, the blog owner, Seth Cole, has only just begun, I sense this will be a great blog to follow.  

Readings in Reverse  is a blog written by a very talented man. He has accomplished a myriad of things in his life (despite his young age). He loves arts, conversation and his greatest love is the study of ancient languages...particularly Ancient Biblical languages. His blog features this very subject and he even has coined his own word for the study process he uses. (Did I mention he is an amazing young man?)

Anyhow- don't take my word for it- go visit his blog and read what he has to say. Sit with your cup of coffee or tea and start up a discussion with Seth. Encourage him not to stop with just one posting or two postings, but to continue in his new journey of blogging.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wild Wednesday- Old Towne Arvada, Colorado

What a wonderful memory we've made here in Colorado again. The thing which fascinates me about this place is that when I first visited it- many years ago- I did not care for it at all. Don't ask me why, I can't really put it into words. It was similar to when you meet someone for the first time and for some reason you just don't 'click'....but then...slowly and ever so surely, as you continue to meet up from time to time you begin to think, "well they aren't as bad as I thought" 

Each new visit to Colorado has caused me to fall in love with the place. There are so many different facets to this wonderful State. I've only seen a bare minimum of it and it never ceases to amaze me.

My newest discovery was Old Town Arvada, Colorado. WOW! What a fascinating place with little shops sprinkled all around. No big time chains here, but quaint personal shops run by owners who love what they are doing. I found myself in a candle shop browsing through home made candles. The owner was quick to welcome me. Neisha, my heart daughter, explained the uniqueness of these particular candles. 

I'm sure there will be many other places I fall in love with here in Colorado on this visit...and many more in future visits. Old Town Arvada is definitely someplace I would recommend to any one visiting Colorado! 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Memory Monday- Sean Frederick Ong- Jan 2nd 1986

Wow....I love the fact I get to start my "Memory Monday" with one of my BEST memories. The birth of my son, Sean Frederick Ong! 

January 2nd 1986, this little guy came into my life and just totally changed everything....he taught me so much. His birth was a miracle, in the sense he almost died due to complications. He was a tough cookie and decided to fight for his life. I'm so glad he did.

He has grown up and has a wonderful family of his own now. Isn't it amazing to watch your child grow up into their own person? I just love seeing how he has developed into a man of strong integrity, responsibility and gentleness. As I look back over his life, I see so many wonderful memories. Now, I look forward to the new memories he will continue to create.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Meaning to the Madness

Happy New Year to one and all! 2012 has arrived and we are still intact. I have a great excitement for this year ahead. So many new things to learn and so many new things to do....some old things to keep doing....some old ways to discard....which brings me to this blog. 

At the end of 2011- my blog posts meandered around with no particular meaning or focus. This made it easy for me to 'take off' whenever I pleased and forsake the blog. This is something which needs to be tweaked. "This" being my need for more focus in the blog posts. Of course I can't always promise a posting ... but at least if I work towards a particular goal I will be more apt to have posts appear on time. (which reminds me...I have to check to see when this year's blogathon starts and sign up.)

I sat down and thought...and thought...and thought...okay, you get the picture- there was an awful lot of thinking going on. I finally decided it would be great if I have a minimum of three days a week to post. I mean if something stupendous happens and I decide it merits an extra post- well and good- but at least I have to discipline myself to sitting down three times a week to pound something out.

So, to create some meaning out of this madness, I've come up with a plan. Memory Monday...Wild Wednesday...Feature Friday.  The Friday postings will continue to feature a person- whether in memoir form, biography form, autobiography or even someone's blog. The Monday and Wednesday will be more free topic days. I want to continue to retain this blog as a keeper of my memories (past and present) those two days will allow me to keep doing that. 

I'm excited. I love having a plan...although I don't always stick with the plan...its nice to have something to move towards. I hope you have a plan of action for this year- 2012- I wish you blessings heaped upon other blessings!!!!! 

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit- Romans 15:13

Where do I begin?

(written on March 28th 2018) For someone with so many words...words that just tumble out even when they are not wanted...words that jump h...