The Boy Rejects a Compliment

“Your writing has improved quite a bit in the last few weeks,” I said.

“No, it hasn’t,” he argued.

“Oh, yes it has,” I insisted.

And then he explained to me why I was so very, very wrong:

“No, Mom, it’s just that I’ve had to write a lot more for school and for homeschool and I got tired of using the same ten sentences over and over* so I started changing things around. That’s all.”

Well, okay, then.  You showed me. I am totally convinced, dude.   Nobody in their right mind could ever call that improvement, could they?



*not nearly as tired writing them as I was reading them, I promise.

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Mending Sheets

We bought the Cherub’s bed from a Korean family who were moving.  They brought their beds with them when they came here. The sheets were included. This is good, because as it turns out, most (not all, but most that we have seen) of the twin bed sheets here are not nearly so deep as the Korean mattress is, so the pockets of the fitted sheets you buy at the market probably do not fit.  I learned this because we also bought the Boy’s twin bed from the same family, and our Boy is 18 and considers himself a man, and their boy is 12 and still likes power rangers and transformers and that sort of thing.  So I went to buy the boy some plain sheets and didn’t think to check the actual depth of the pockets, and what I came home with really cannot even be used as an extra cover, for all that it said twin on the corner of the package.

There are variations, of course, but I managed to get a sheet that fits a twin mattress with approximately as much depth as a cracker to put on a mattress with as much depth as the pile the princess slept on over the pea.  I exaggerate, but only slightly.

IT took two trips and a lot of searching to find those sheets, too- the store I looked at had no order to the sheets on their shelves, and the colours and patterns were jarring to my western eyes.  I could overlook that for my sheets, but my Boy would not have been pleased with red, pink, yellow and blue stripes with blue silhouettes of birds against the pink  background of one of the broad stripes, and borders of what looks like stamps of jacks from the children’s game.


There is a reason for this background- The Cherub’s fitted sheet somehow suffered a long, jagged t shaped tear across the bottom starting  from the middle of one of the corners, where the short bar of the t stretched vertically, and stretching at least 20 inches from the middle of the pocket out toward the center of the long end of her mattress.  I do not know how or when this happened- I didn’t make her bed when we moved in, and so it was hidden from me  for some time.  It had to be hastily removed and dumped in the wash while the Cherub was hosed off in the bathroom one very ugly morning, and in my haste and the emergency, I didn’t see it (btw, did I mention my washing machine is actually outside, in my backyard?).  So by the time I did notice it, it wasn’t just torn, it was frayed, and there was no way to just reattach the two, no, four sides of the rip and still be able to get the sheet on the bed.  In order to make the two sides of the rip meet,  I needed a buffer.  There’s a metaphor in there.

I had to figure out whether to just leave it alone and let it grow until we had to go buy another sheet, to spend a few hours sewing it back together through some make-shift method, or whether to spend hours and more money (including probably four dollars or more in taxi fare to get where I was most likely to find a sheet for her bed) shopping and looking for a sheet that I hoped would fit her bed.

I decided to hang out at home and sew, and sew, and sew.  I listened to an audio book while I sewed, killing two birds with one stone.  It probably took me 8 hours total and the result isn’t pretty- because I am not a good seamstress, because I was making up what I was doing as I went along, and because once I stitched at least six inches of air to six inches of sheet because I didn’t notice that I hadn’t gone far enough past the fraying edge to reach the the sheet that was still there, so I had to go back and do it again.

But it is functional, and I was able to stay quietly and peacefully at home instead of trying to get the Cherub up and down stairs, in and out of taxis (she will *not* scoot over for me, but belligerently sits as stiffly as she can crossing her legs to establish the fact that she will not move), through stores and past kiosks of tempting food, up and down the escalator (honestly, a nightmare, and not all places of elevators and those that do, they are not necessarily nearest the store I need, so I end up walking to the opposite end of the mall, taking the elevator and then walking the length back).    The last time I took her shopping with me, we had to leave by an entrance with outside stairs and she was so annoyed, she kept trying to sit on the steps. Two young Filipinos came over and one put my groceries in the cab and one took the Cherub and got her down the stairs and in the cab for me, bless their hearts.

Anyway, I think my 8 hours of hand sewing was adequately spent, given the alternative.  This is the kind of things that is hard to explain when expats say that everything takes longer here.

What I did to make sure that repairing the tear wouldn’t make the sheet too small for the corner it has to fit is to take a cut strip from a sock.  I had the strips already, because, remember, I use loops of old socks to stuff my crocheted turtles and octopuses, so I had brought some along.  I also had brought along a small sewing kit from home- needles, a few small spools of cotton thread, scissors, and this is the result:

That’s just part of the straight end of the rip- I didn’t take a picture of the vertical slice.  I might later if I think of it.

So that’s the story of how and why I mended the Korean sheet for my American kid in my house in the Philippines.


*Now one other alternative I might have tried is to pay somebody to do it, but I needed the sheet that night, because we don’t have a spare for her bed, and I didn’t know where to find a sew lady that quickly.  If you’ve been here longer and are more established, you could do that.

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Palm Tree and Vine

There are two different plants here, which is obvious in the pictures but was less obvious when I was standing in the hot tropical sun, hunching underneath the tree trying to get pictures.

The vine is, I am told by somebody who should know, a member of the tinospora species. One particular member of this species, but not, I think, this one, is very common in ayurvedic medicine so that’s the one that turned up the most while googling. There is some highly specialized and formal information about the general species here.

The other (the one with the pods) is, I am told, likely a Dypsis palm, and as there are only 170 species of Dysis to choose from, I am willing to stop here. But somebody else suggested a MacArthur Palm, which is native to Australia.  I don’t know if they’ve been commercialized for ornamental gardening in the Philippines. I am charmed by the photograph of the hornbill eating the fruit (top right side) on this page and hope that is what this may be.

Tinospora sp.
Dypsis Palm

These posts, btw,are not for people to actually *do* nature study from. You shouldn’t plop your kid in front of these pictures and ask for some nature study. These posts are for me, so I can look back at them and
see what was growing here in Davao City and when (I took these pictures mid February).

As a secondary goal, I hear from other missionaries in other parts of southeast Asia, homeschooling their kids and not sure what to do for nature study. So I hope maybe a few of these posts will help identify things they have already found and observed. Nothing beats observation in the real world.

If you have a palm or a vine like this around, here are some things you might notice:

the shape, size, and growth pattern of the leaves, branches, trunk (or vine stem).
The growth pattern of those ‘berries.’ Pick one and see what is inside (do not eat anything unless you are sure it is safe)
The feel of the vine or the trunk- smooth? Rough? hard? Soft?
How does it grow? Where does it grow?
For identifying the Palm tree, members of the plant ID group wanted to see the shape of the tree as a whole- some look like triangles, some look like Dr. Seussian characters….

What’s growing in your part of the world?

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Davao Diary, Collection of Miscellaney

Minor things that I just find interesting:
At restaurants and such, you can order half a fried chicken. When you get it, you remember that chickens in the states are over-processed, hormonally stuffed, cage fed mutants. Because half a chicken here has about as much mean as a leg quarter does in the states, if you are lucky, but it also has about three times more rich flavor.
Eggs: I buy them in the store. They are not always 100% clean.
This is puzzling to me: I make deviled eggs here a lot, and more than half of the time the yolk is not dead center of the egg, it’s more toward the end, which means the deviled eggs are not quite so pretty. But why would the yolks be all the way down at the narrow end of the egg so often? What makes them grow that way?
Vinegar: I have seen apple cider vinegar in the stores, but it’s kind of expensive. Vinegar is mostly white and made from cane sugar. I did not even know that was a thing. Whole 30, paleo eaters would have a hard time here. Everything is sweet.
On the other hand- as an assiduous label reader due to Cherub’s allergies (corn, wheat, eggs), I have been very happy with the things she can eat here that she could not at home. Corn, not being a government subsidized and thus artificially saturating the market ingredient, is *not* in everything. It’s not much in anything except products you would expect it to be in- corn nuts, corn chips.
It is in a couple things I would not expect it to be in, but it’s well labeled. It’s in some desserts- a kind of ice cream, a custard. Whole corn kernels. It’s rather shocking after coming from Indiana. I remember a Japanese friend telling me that the one American food she could not get used to and none of her friends from Japan could, either, was rice pudding. It was so wrong to her. This is how I feel about whole kernels of corn in a dessert. Culture does that to you- because why is that so weird? Fresh sweet corn is one of the sweetest things on earth, after all. But you eat it with butter and salt, not sugar and ice cream, because that is just how it is. (at Shakey’s pizza in Japan, they put corn on pizza, and this was also totally bizarre to me, although I did learn to enjoy cuttlefish on pizza, I never could handle corn pizza).
Likewise, due to my southern heritage, I eat my watermelon salted. My kids do find that weird, but I know they are wrong and I am right. Filipinos eat their jicama (singkamas) with salt, which I find weird. I tried it, and I still find it weird. But I can’t figure out why it should be. Watermelon and jicama are both sweet and juicy. I think watermelon is delicious lightly salted, and salted jicama just tastes like somebody had an accident with the salt shaker, but there’s no objective reason this should be so. Culture is that thing where you don’t even know you have it until it bumps up against somebody else’s different culture and both of you are wondering why on earth the other one could…. think that, eat that, enjoy that, be offended by that, not be offended by that, not see that, do things that way, not do things that way….
Traffic can be crazy busy, and drivers do what seem to me to be daring and risky things, but it mostly works. Somebody told us whenever there is a bad snarl and backed up traffic jam, that is almost always because there is somebody directing the traffic instead of leaving it alone and letting it work itself out. This fits with my own observation as well.

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An Exciting Discovery About Living In the Philippines

People!! My book friends in particular and especially!!!
Did you know there is an Australian Gutenberg? You probably did.
And did you know Australia’s copyright laws are different from the U.S? You very likely do know this.
But did you also know that here in the Philippines **I*can access Australia’s Project Gutenberg collection freely?
Do you know what this means?????
I don’t know the full extent myself, because I only just discovered it fifteen minutes ago, but I can download to my Kindle all
of Bess Streeter Aldrich books, Frederick Allen’s classic microhistories Only Yesterday and Since Yesterday, Austin Freeman’s Dr. Thorndyke mysteries, several E. Nesbit books I didn’t even know she wrote, Willa CATHER, Rawlings (The Yearling and others), Thorne Smith (he wrote the funny Topper stories), Suicide Squad stories from the 30s and 40s, JOSEPHINE TEY!!!!!

If you don’t see me around, you know why.

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