New year’s is a very big deal here.  It’s a very noisy deal, as well.  In the days and maybe weeks leading up to New Year’s you can buy your own noise-makers from any of dozens of street carts dotting the main thoroughfares as well as a number of by-ways.    One of them is a long plastic horn or trumpet (like the Angel Gabriel, if he were using a plastic trumpet).

A few days after New Year’s, in the middle of a damp, hot night, we had a power outage in our neighborhood.  With the air-con and fans off, we could hear every single noise in our not too quiet neighborhood.  There are over half a dozen dogs around who  seem to have a raucous conversation every single night, for a couple hours at least.  There’s music, usually, up the road a bit.  There’s an occasional lonely cat as well as passing motorists, and honking your horn here is a courtesy.  And that night, as the darkness continued and the damp, uncomfortably itchy warmth increased, one of the neighbors a few houses up the road pulled out one of those plastic horns and blew it, a long, low blast.

“What on earth?” I thought.

And then another neighbor, slightly further off, answered with a blow on a horn of his or her own.  The first one blew again, a deep and unmelodious noise.  More neighbors replied with their own horns.  I was baffled.  Why would they do this? Was this some sort of signal the neighborhood had devised of which we knew nothing? Some Filipino custom nobody had ever told us about?  It was midnight, did they not worry about sleeping children trying to get enough rest for school the next day? Did nobody have jobs to go to?  I have never yet been even mildly annoyed by a local custom here thus far (and I know we’ve been here a laughably short time), but this, this was more than an annoyance.  I was becoming  outraged.  I was tired. I wanted to sleep.  And this NOISE just continued, as around the neighborhood horns tooted back and forth in some forlorn sounding call and response.

“The bullfrogs sure are loud,” said my husband, beside me, also not sleeping.  The mosquitoes were also bothering him- they never bother me if he is around to feast upon.  “I wonder if they are this loud all the time, and we just don’t hear because we have the aircon on?”

“Bullfrogs?” I asked.  “These are bullfrogs?  How do you know?”

It turns out, when we were still in the guesthouse and sometimes he and our son would leave late at night to go to the coffee shop or to shoot hoops and I stayed in the room with a sleeping Cherub, they would hear the frogs on their way back.  The frogs are huge- as big as two of my fists.  They are loud.  And while they are also my neighbors, they were not the neighbors I was growing irritated over.  I was embarrassed, even though nobody need ever know my unjust assumptions and irritation.   My neighbors were neither as annoying nor as inconsiderate as I had imagined.  I had been incredibly unfair to them, if only in my thoughts.

I was relieved I learned about the frogs before I had been even more unjust and made a huge fool of myself, perhaps complaining to somebody, or glaring blearily at one of them in the morning for no good reason.

I was ignorant and very tired and uncomfortable, but I should have withheld judgment, I should have exercised a bit more imagination in wondering what else that noise could be besides inconsiderate neighbors.  I jumped to the first conclusion that come to my tired, somewhat grouchy self.

The air-con came back on, mercifully before my husband was eaten alive by the mosquitoes.  Physically comfortable again, I rolled over to go back to sleep reminding myself as I dozed off, “Self!  Shame on you.  Let that be a lesson to you!’

But it probably won’t.  I will probably make other mistakes, misjudgments, false assumptions.  Probably not many as silly as this one, but possibly far more serious.   I will make them because I am human, and a slow learner.  I will be subject to those same mistakes made by other humans in my direction. It’s part of life.  We all rub along as best we can in this old world, making mistakes, being done wrong and doing wrong, learning, moving on.  What’s important is that we extend the grace to others we’d like to have extended to ourselves, to overlook those errors others make in our direction while trying not to be the one misjudging others. 


I tried to record the frogs earlier this week, and I posted it here. You can’t hear the bullfrogs as well here- you have to listen to pick up the lower, longer notes in the background.  Most of what you hear in the recording is the smaller frogs with higher pitched croaks.  They were silent the night I thought my neighbors were blowing horns. It was just the bullfrongs, one at a time, resounding through the neighborhood.

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Davao Diary: Service with a Smile

One of the things I love about the malls here is that they all have a supermarket attached. I am not sure, but I think the only grocery store not connected to a mall is the Costco version (it has another name but it is associated with Costco and works much the same way, except the cost of membership is about fourteen dollars.

But what I really love about the supermarkets at the grocery store isn’t just the grocery store. It’s the package holding, or even the shopping cart holding. You do your grocery store shopping, or you shop at the mall and have too much stuff to carry, and all you have to do is take it to package check in place just outside the mall-side entrance to the supermarket. You can park your entire shopping cart there if you like. They give you a tag and attach a matching tag to your stuff (or your cart) and they stash it and keep an eye on it. You come back for it when you are ready. Then you hand in your tag, they give you your things.

You can then even take the shopping cart outside of whatever mall entrance you need to to load your car or catch a cab or jeepney.

It makes life so much easier.

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The Inaugural Speech

Trump’s inauguration speech- read it here. I liked it. I see no reason why it should be controversial for the elected leader of any country to put his own country’s interests first. That is, in essence, the job description of a president or prime minister.

I like that he calls out establishment politicians on what they’ve been doing (since at least the 1900s, as Heinlein was mocking the cycle in fiction by the 40’s), which is the antithesis of what elected leaders of a Republic are called to do. Nobody put it better than Thomas Paine in Common Sense, which we have quoted often in this blog over the last dozen years (here’s one, here’s another):
A ‘representative government’ ceases to be representative if the ELECTED

“form to themselves an interest separate from the ELECTORS,”

I believe this is what we have had in both parties- they have more in common with each other than with us. Their interests are actually more allied with each other than with the voters.

Thomas Paine also explained what we should do in order to prevent this from happening:

“prudence will point out the propriety of having elections often; because as the ELECTED might by that means return and mix again with the general body of the ELECTORS in a few months, their fidelity to the public will be secured by the prudent reflection of not making a rod for themselves. And as this frequent interchange will establish a common interest with every part of the community, they will mutually and naturally support each other…”

But our politicians do not return to private life. They remain in office forever, and when they leave, the stay in D.C. and become lobbyists. They do not make a rod for themselves. They do not apply the laws to themselves (or Hilary would never have been able to run for anything because she’d have been in jail, as would her rapist husband).

Our ELECTED have long since formed an interest to themselves separate from the ELECTORS, namely, getting reelected and solidifying their own power and perks. Even the so-called ‘good’ ones.

So I hope Trump does what he has said he will do. I didn’t vote for him because I don’t trust him. But I hope I was wrong. At least half of what I previously believed about Trump turns out to be lies created by the media. The media certainly seem to be worried, so worried they are continuing to make stuff up about him and his cabinet picks.

The silliness continues with the press.

But back to the speech- in fifteen minutes he accused all the politicians in Washington, of both parties, and essentially four previous presidents, of selling out the American people for the political and financial interests of those in power. I agree. So I liked it. It’s divisive only if you’re seeing it from the point of view of those loathe to release that political power- say, the media, or establishment Republicans or Democrat politicians.

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The Cherub In Davao

Everywhere there are signs encouraging people to give place to the elderly, the pregnant, and the handicapped, and they really seem to represent the general view of the culture.

I was told to be aware that Cherub would be stared at a lot because people don’t tend to take family members like her out in public much. They stay home. That was only part of the story, though. At least I think so, from my perspective. People do stare. But they are only interested, and they are very kind. They are quick to talk to her, to try to engage, to ask me how to interact with her, to try to give her treats. One lady at church gave her some candy that she cannot have, and once she learned about her allergies, she often brings her a pomelo to eat later at home. People have stepped back in a taxi line to let the Cherub and I ahead- even when there has been some competition for the cab line (not every time, but I was surprised it happened at all, and once it was a group of four young people.) One mall has a special comfort room for the disabled to use, but I didn’t understand that, so we were headed back to the regular C.R. The attendant came racing back to gesture me over to the private bathroom, where he unlocked the door and waited in the hall until we were done to make sure we didn’t need anything else (and probably to make sure it was clean for the next customer).
Cab drivers back up and unlock the street side door for us when they realize her needs. But it is true I seldom see other disabled people out and about with their families.

Having moved around a bit in the city, I think I understand more the reason family members like her stay home- it’s just 100 times easier. The streets and sidewalks are uneven and rough and hard for people who aren’t steady on their feet. There are not always escalators or elevators, and escalators are hard for her, anyway. Restrooms are small, stairs may or may not have rails, getting in and out of public transportation is a slow process. Some streets have no sidewalks.  To walk home from the school the most direct route requires us to walk on a busy road for several yards.  Traffic slows while we walk there, nobody honks or shakes a fist, shouts, or otherwise indicates we are annoying to them.  They give us a wide berth.  Sometimes a pedicab/bike or a taxi will look to see if we want a ride, but by the time we get this far, we have five minutes left to walk. It seems silly to pay a dollar for that (if we take a cab, it’s .80 USD just to get in).  I don’t like that stretch of road, but the drivers here are so very careful that I don’t really fear it, either.

But because of the lack of sidewalks and bump terrain and the narrow aisles and tiny bathrooms, it’s true I often prefer to wait until somebody is home to watch her before I go somewhere myself.  It’s a trade off- legal access and better roads at home, but generally more akwardness and worse attitudes.

P.S. I’m typing this from table in the mall, outside a Starbucks. I just watched two boys, early teens, walk into the Starbucks and go up to a table of three women- I assume one was their mother. They went to the other two first and did ‘mano’ and then walked the long way around, because their way was blocked, to greet their mom with a kiss and visit for a moment before going to their own seats.

I love it here.

P.P.S.  The STarbucks was very crowded- not an empty seat in sight. While typing I noticed a sudden stir, with an undercurrent of excitement such as you might see if somebody mildly famous had walked by. I looked up to see every face in the restaurant turned toward me and most of the younger ones were giggling and whispering in excitement to their friends. Reflected in the window I also saw the cause- my son had walked up and was standing behind me. He is a minor celebrity just for existing, apparently.

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Free Kindle Books: Romance, Mystery, Devotional

Free for Kindle: Penned Without Ink: Trusting God to Write Your Story
Reader Review: My advice? Read this with pen in hand. My copy is already underlined and marked up. I have found this book to be easy to read, but it has depth and substance. For anyone who has strained to see God at work when faced with painful circumstances or struggled with trusting Him, Penned Without Ink will validate those questions and emotions but guide you back to God and His Word. Sarah Phillips is very quotable and I love how she takes profound truths and phrases them in memorable ways. I have found that I will re-read portions or whole chapters so I don’t miss a ‘nugget’ in there. This gets a thumbs up for me!

Free4Kindle: Climbing with Abraham: 30 Devotionals to Help You Grow Your Faith, Build Your Life, and Discover God’s Calling (Testament Heroes Book 1)

Free4Kindle: Brownies and Betrayal by Heather Justesen
Amazon Reader Review: is a combination of delicious romantic options, baked goods, and a suspenseful mystery. We’re introduced to Tess Crawford, a pastry chef who’s moved from Chicago to small town Silver Springs after she’s caught her fiance cheating on her. She’s opening her own bakery and doing refreshments for a wedding when one of the wedding guests gets into a petty argument with her over her brownies. Tess later finds that guest murdered and she becomes a suspect when the police find out about the argument and her fingerprints are found on the murder weapon. In trying to clear her name, Tess finds herself in several dangerous situations as she zeroes in on the killer.

The thing I like about Heather Justesen’s books is that she writes romance really well. Family by Design had some really great romantic moments that made me sigh, and I was hoping for that with Brownies and Betrayal. Heather does a good job of balancing the mystery with a “love triangle” of sorts, but there’s not a lot of romantic resolution, instead there’s more of a romantic set-up for the next book (this is the start of a new series from what I gather). The mystery was good, although I called the killer early on, but I liked the twists and turns the story took. The recipes sounded yummy and I’d definitely like to try a few of them. This is a great curl-up-on-your-couch afternoon read.

Black, by Ted Dekker- he’s a Christian mystery and suspense writer (he dabbles in other genre as well). This is the first of a trilogy, and based on reviews, it’s not really a stand alone book, so be forewarned.

Free4Kindle: A Promise to Believe In (The Brides of Gallatin County Book #1), Tracie Peterson, Christian historical fiction, romance, clean, looks like a fun, light read when you don’t want to think too hard.

Free4Kindle: Dangerous Passage (Southern Crimes Book #1): A NovelReader Review: The first book in Harris’ Southern Crimes series introduces Avery North, widowed mother and Atlanta police detective, who comes from a family steeped in police work. Her father and late brother were both officers. As the story begins, she is called in on a case on her day off when a Jane Doe is found with a magnolia tattoo that matches the one found on an earlier victim. Both victims were young Asian women in their teens. It looks like the work of a serial killer. At the scene she sees that the medical examiner assigned to the case is Jackson Bryant, who she has dated a few times and who escorted her to her father’s retirement party. Good police work and forensic detecting lead them to the identity of the second victim and from there into a labyrinth of international criminal activity. The combination of police procedural and a Christian love story is nicely plotted, and the characters are interesting, boding well for the future of the series. –Diana Tixier Herald

In For A Penny (The Granny Series Book 1) According to the negative reviews, the writing is good, the story is interesting, the characters are hilarious, but the language is really salty and will distract from many of my readers’ enjoyment.
Amazon blurb: Honey, these are not your momma’s grannies…

When Lillian Summer Fairview’s husband up and dies on her, it leaves the last living member of the most prestigious family in Summer Shoals, Georgia, in a hot mess. While Lil was busy being a proper Southern lady, Harlan squandered dang near the whole family fortune on lottery tickets. To keep her financial skeletons in the closet and give him a decent burial, Lil made a deal that has now landed her in prison.

Desperate to keep her troubles a secret and the family estate from falling down while she pays her debt to society, Lil entrusts Summer Haven’s care to her best friend, Maggie, who recruits two more over-fifty ladies to live at Summer Haven and help keep it afloat.

But when Maggie discovers that Lil’s restitution is ten times the amount she “borrowed” from the federal government, she’s convinced Lil has taken the fall for someone else’s crime. And these gals will use every trick in their little-old-lady bags to prove it.

The House on the Beach (Pilgrim Cove Book 1), reviews say she writes good clean romances centered on family and love.

Above are all affiliate links. The books were free at the time of listing. That may change, because none of these are in the public domain.

Happy reading!

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