18 April 2008

How's your foot?

If I had a dollar for every answer I've given to this question, I would be in the market for the Mercedes SLR McLaren. I'm not joking and this is by no means a complaint. On the contrary, I feel somewhat guilty for providing half-hearted information most of the time when people genuinely care and want to know my progress.

There is often little to share as the healing process of a calcaneus fracture (broken heel bone) is long-drawn, measurable only by my level of comfort while performing physical therapy exercises and how much of my body weight the foot can carry on its toes. The former seems to be dependent on my mood as I drive to the clinic and the latter as of today is 69%. One hundred percent is when I will be declared fully recovered. No projected date yet.

At least, the surgery scar is no longer an eyesore ...

4 months & 3 weeks after surgery

5 days after surgery

Next question, please. I promise a comprehensive reply. LOL!

I do want to say that I truly appreciate all the support extended to me over the past few months by family, friends, associates, acquaintances and health care providers. Your kind and assuring words always make it easier for me to take the next step forward.


14 April 2008

How do you cook soft-boiled eggs?

A fellow patient at physical therapy asked the question last week after he followed an online tip and his eggs literally blew open in the microwave. The clinic staff and other patients shared their own struggles with varying methods and electrical equipment. One of them had to carefully prick every egg before boiling on specific timing! I was the only one who did not have a disaster story to tell. For me, it's ABC and my eggs are exactly how I like them. :)

I know, I know, I shouldn't gloat, so here's my secret. I use my favorite kitchen gadget from Malaysia which is apparently not available here. None of my friends have seen or heard of it until they saw it on my kitchen counter. David saw it for the first time when it came out of my shipment of personal effects and he loves it. Requiring no power and little human effort, this cooking vessel works with boiling water and cooks perfect eggs every single time.

Click on pictures for larger view ...

4 Parts
- water container
- strainer
- egg holder
- cover

Good for 4-6 eggs. The lines on the rim indicate water level for respective number of eggs.

Straining time depends on the number of eggs. 8 or so minutes for 6 eggs.

We like our eggs less runny, so I let them sit in the warm holder for a bit before serving.

I've had this marvel for 14 years but only started using it regularly when I landed on US soil. Cooking breakfast is not a trend in Asia and consuming eggs as a morning meal even less. We head for roadside stalls and coffee-shops where eggs aren't on menus unless hardboiled or fried as a condiment in nasi-lemak (coconut flavored rice), noodles or porridge or used in batter for making roti (Indian bread).

These days, eggs rotate with waffles, biscuits & gravy, hash browns, toasts and cereals on our breakfast table. My portable chef makes soft-boiled our favorite.

11 April 2008

Bed & Breakfast - home away from home

Warning! Lots of pictures ....

The first time I stayed at a Bed & Breakfast was in Amsterdam, back in 1989 when WWW was a new invention and online booking sounded like, and probably was illegal gambling. My girlfriend and I, travelling to Europe for the first time - on a tight budget, embraced the adventurous spirit of flying to Holland without confirmed accommodation. We were prepared to camp out on airport lounge seats and rail station or park benches but ended up being interrogated for suspicion of drug-trafficking on arrival at Schiphol Airport! The tip-off was our identical sweaters, considered a pick-up code for the real offenders! After the strip-down search and authentication of our travel documents, the Dutch immigration officers felt sufficient remorse to recommend us some B&B inns.

No price for guessing our selection criteria. LOL! When the door of our choice opened to our 2-minute pressing of the doorbell, no one appeared at the small entrance way at the bottom a long flight of steep and narrow steps. Instead, a soft feeble voice from above asked us in. We stepped in to see an elderly lady at the top of the stairs pulling a rope that was strung against the wall all the way down to the door knob - a clever and effective pulley system for operating the door. She later told us that she hadn't use those steps for over a year. It was understandable. Our tiny room was on the top of the 3-storey building and negotiating those scary creaky wooden steps remains a nightmare to this day. Breakfast was what Madam had herself, a glass of milk, tea or coffee with 2 slices of toast spread with marmalade.

I haven't had any opportunity to stay at a European B&B since and don't know if the concept has changed but here in the US, B&Bs are considered boutique hotels. Operating under local government regulations and inspection as well as innkeepers association rules which often indicate a higher standard of hospitality, owners make available most parts of their homes to paying guests.

We stayed at two such homes during our recent Oregon road trip and not only enjoyed warm hospitality in 5-star facilities but made new friends as well.

Our first stop, Cobblestone Cottages in Medford, belonged to Sarah & Darrell Maple, a lovely retired couple from Alaska and Molly, their 10-year old friendly Airedale. David and I were treated like family members. Even Lola had special attention as Sarah & Darrell kindly took care of her for several hours when we were at the wedding. The pictures below say it all.

Morning Dove Cottage, our home for 2 nights.

The entire cottage was decorated with antique furniture.

Cute dragonfly accents abound as Feng Shui enhancers.

Sarah's artistic talents spilling over to her fruit platter.

Easter Table-setting for Sunday Breakfast

Molly, Sarah & Darrell Maple

Mary Hauser was our second host at Pana-Sea-Ah, located right on the beach at Depoe Bay on the Oregon Coast. The small-world phenomenon formalized in our story when we found out that Sarah and her step-mom once stayed in the same suite we were in. Of the few dozens B&Bs available, we stayed with two innkeepers who knew each other! The coincidence was just weird.

Again, pictures will show the warmth of Mary's inn which she manages from her own home, a block away. She went out of her way to make our stay a pleasant one, serving me a full breakfast in bed on the first morning when my foot was talking loud to me and refused to trek up the stairs. I doubt any hotel would have accorded me the service without charging extra.

Front Entrance of Pana-Sea-Ah facing the Pacific Ocean.

Entrance to Tuscany Suite, our lodgings.

Living Room of Suite

Handicap Accessible Shower

Ground Floor above Tuscany Suite

Main Living Room with clear view of the Pacific Ocean

8-seater Jacuzzi overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Permanent view of non-stop wave action of the Pacific Ocean

Mary Hauser

Suffice to say, the B&B industry now have two new patrons from the Pacific NW. :)

More photos in our web albums, Cobblestone Cottages and Pana-Sea-Ah.

04 April 2008

Megan & Rob - Life Partners, Always & Forever

Wedding Guests Signature Mat Photo

Borrowing a popular phrase from the US election campaign trail, "I misspoke". I wrote in an earlier post that it has been ages since I attended a church wedding when in fact I have never been to one. I was on church grounds twice before but had arrived for the reception after the ceremony was over at both events.

It was therefore all the more special that my first experience was at the wedding of a family member, one of our favorite people. Megan is David's niece whom we don't get to see often but from the handful of occasions we were able to get together, she comes across as a charming, lovable and promising young adult. Down-to-earth decision maker with a willingness to work hard best describes her.

Her parents, Karen and Jay (who is David's oldest brother) were visibly stress-free when we arrived at their doorstep on the eve of the wedding. Karen did not have a wine glass in hand and Jay had the calm demeanor of someone who just had a long relaxing vacation, most of which Jay attributes to Megan's ability to make decisions.

Held in the afternoon of a perfect weather Saturday (22nd March 2008), the wedding was an intimate gathering of family and close friends, complete with all the traditional elements carried out in a delightful and memorable manner. Rob and Megan exchanged their vows in a celebrated yet jovial fashion and I particularly enjoyed watching them dance down the aisle at the end of the ceremony. I'd set my camera to video-tape them but it didn't work. All it captured was a single still frame. My photography skills were truly challenged that day as most of the photos turned out either dark or blurry. Fortunately, David took over at some point and we have these plus some in an album to share.

Dancing down the aisle.

Happy Couple with Megan's family.
L-R: mom (Karen), brother (Damian), sister (Alicia) and dad (Jay)

The reception that followed the church union was similar in cozy setting and warm ambience. The Megan & Rob wedding story continued with a delicious spread, happy - meaningful - funny and joyfully teary toasts, romantic first dance, a beautiful father/daughter number and more, all proceedings filled with heaps of laughter. I witnessed the Garter Toss for the first time and someone mentioned that the American version is tame compared to the French 14th Century tradition. I am so embarking on a mission to get on the invitation list of a French wedding. LOL!

As Megan and Rob bask in wedded bliss and begin a wonderful life living together as husband and wife, I would like to wish them continued success in their love for each other and everyday happiness that last always & forever ....