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Surviving Riyadh


Conclusion Of The Missing Ring

    “You know that I’m engaged,” she replied. “I owe you money but I’m not going out with you.”

    “Really, we’ll see,” Bob replied with a threatening voice.

    “You can’t threaten me, goodbye.” Christine hung up and thought what had she done.

    She didn’t know Bob and what he was capable of doing. Somebody was trying to open the door. She ran to the door and said, “Who is it?

    “Honey, I’m back.” It was Patrick.

    “You scared me. I didn’t expect you,” Christine replied, opening the door. She clung to Patrick as he stepped in.

    “You’re trembling, what’s wrong?” he asked.

    “Nothing, I’m okay,” she replied.

    Patrick looked at her finger, “What happened to your ring?”

    “I put it in a safe place,” she said. Then she told him the truth.

    He said, “You didn’t have to go through this. The ring I gave you is not that expensive.”

    They decided to return the ring and pay the money she owed Bob. They would buy another ring that was within their means.

Keywords: missing ring, money, engaged, threatened, ring,



More...The Missing Ring


The missing ring, however, stated to bother her. Grabbing the towel, she wrapped her long red hair. She stepped out of the tub, put on her bath robe and walked towards the kitchen. Then she swung the fridge door open, grabbed a small bag of mixed fruits and a milk cartoon. Pouring the milk in a glass, she carried both to the living room. She clicked the control on a funny channel chewing the crunchy fruits. The fruits were tasteless and nothing funny registered in her mind. She swallowed her glass of milk, and put the remaining fruits back inside the fridge.

     Clicking the T.V. off, she went to her bedroom. Christine lay on her bed staring at the ceiling. She had to replace the ring before Patrick got back. I’m a good typist, she thought. I can always find a part time job.

    The nest day, she went to work trying not to think of her ring. She typed memos, dictated materials, correspondences, etc. The day went by very quickly. Christine left work in a hurry. The phone was ringing when she got home. She picked up the receiver. “Hello”

    “It’s Nancy. Bob is here and has the money. Do you have time to come over?”

    “Yes,” Christine said. “I’m coming over.”

    Bob Damon, a graying stocky man in his fifties, had a look that she didn’t trust. “We finally meet,” he said as they were introduced by Nancy. They talked for a while. Then Bob handed Christine a contract and said, “Please read, sign and date it.”

    She didn’t like the conditions stated in the contract but she didn’t have any alternative. She signed and dated the contract and handed it over to Bob. He, in turn handed her the money. She thanked them both and left. She would go to the mall to pick up the ring the next day.

    When she got home, Christine went through the ads of her Sunday newspaper. There were lots of typing jobs but the pay was not good. She wrote down the companies and their phone numbers. She didn’t have any appetite. She lay down on her bed and closed her eyes. I have to be strong and face this problem, she thought over and over until she fell asleep.

     With renewed strength, Christine got ready for work the next day. Fortunately, it was a light day. She was able to call some of the companies she had noted. The usual questions were asked such as her typing speed, availability of work, and etc. She told them she was interested in a weekend or evening job. She scheduled two interviews.

    After work, Christine rushed to the mall and purchased the ring. I have to be very careful with this ring this time, she thought. Did she have to tell Patrick about the lost ring or not? What if he found out that it wasn’t the original ring? Well, she would deal with it when the time came. She went home feeling much better than the previous night.

    At home, Christine put the ring in a safe place. Now you’re safe. She wouldn’t wear it until Patrick came back. Her phone rang. It was Bob.

    “I want to see you,” he said.

    “Why, what for?”

    “Just talk, I want to know you better.”

Keywords: missing ring, milk, fruit, mall, ads, typing





     Christine Sharp was about to leave work when she realized her engagement ring was missing. With trembling hands, she emptied her purse on top of her desk and lifted each item one by one.  She then pulled out drawers, fingering the items inside. No ring. She rushed to the restroom and looked but it was not there either. Patrick Cosley, her fiancé, was out of town for a week. A replacement was necessary. First, though, she had to find out how much it cost.

     The shopping mall was just a mile away. But traffic was moving like a snail. When Christine reached the mall, she frantically checked each jewelry store, looking for a replica of her ring. The ring was expensive. It was beyond her means. The only solution was to borrow money from Nancy Smith, an acquaintance. Nancy’s boyfriend, Bob Damon’s business was money, charging outrageous interest.     

     The first thing she did when she got home was to dial Nancy’s number. “Hello,” came Nancy’s familiar voice.

    “Hi, I’m sorry to disturb you but I need your help,” Christine said hurriedly.

    “How can I help you?” Nancy asked.

    “I lost my engagement ring. I have to replace it but it’s so expensive.”

    “I don’t have the money but I’m sure Bob will help you,” Nancy offered. “How much are we talking about?”

    “A thousand dollars and soon,” Christine replied hesitantly.

    “I’ll ask him. I’ll call you tomorrow and stop worrying will you?” Nancy said.

    “Thanks very much. I’ll wait for your call.” She hung. How was she going to pay back the amount? If working two jobs was the solution, she’d do it.

    Christine had a bubble bath, closing her eyes, as she savored the invigorating warm soapy scented water on her flesh. I can stay here forever, she thought.

Keywords:missing ring, engagement ring, shopping mall, jewelry, fiancee




June 20th, 2000, marked the culmination of the long awaited tour to the Holy Land. I joined friends and their church's group in New York. We departed for Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv via JFK in New York. We arrived at Ben Gurion Airport and took a tour bus to Tiberias for dinner and overnight sightseeing.

The next day, we crossed the waters of the Sea of Galilee aboard a sailing boat. We arrived in Capermaum where Jesus choice to center his ministry, traveled to the Mount of Beatitude where Jesus preached to the Multitude. At Tabgha, we visited the Church of Multiplication of the fishes and loaves and the chapel of Saint Peter which recalls Jesus instruction to Peter.

We traveled the ancient caravan route to the well-preserved archeological site of Tel Magiddo, a fortified urban center where excavations have revealed remnants of 22 layers of occupations. Mount Carmel, was the next stop and other traditional sites where the Prophet Elijah defeated the prophet Baal. We visited the Roman Aqueduct and Theater at Caesarea, a center of the early Christians.

We renewed our baptismal vows at the Jordan River. We then traveled to Beit Shean to visit the ruins of the ancient city which was under Egyptian rule during the 16th to 12th centuries B.C. Continuously inhabited for 5000 years, this was one of the Roman cities Jesus passed on His way from Galilee to Jerusalem. Jesus' boyhood town of Nazareth is revered as one of the holiest town in Christendom. We also visited the magnificent church of the Anunciation which dominates the town center. The small village of Cana is a remainder of Jesus first miracle at the wedding feast.

We traveled the Jordan desert and descended below sea level for a visit to Masada, the spectacular mountaintop fortress built by Herod and famous as the strong hold of the Jewish rebellion against the Romans. We took a cable car ride to the top to explore, and peered down upon the remains of the Roman camps and seized ramp below. The next stop was the shore of the Dead Sea where some of us took a dip in the salt and mineral laden waters.

Next day was Qumran, site of the Dead Sea Scroll discovery. We proceeded to Jericho and visited the ruins of ancient city which was conquered by Joshua. It is also the oldest known inhabited city in the world and parts of ancient city walls have been discovered.

In Bethlehem, we explored the caved revered to be the place where Jesus was a boy. The church which has been constructed on the sites is the oldest functioning church. We sang Christmas songs at the Church of the Nativity and the Shepherds Field. In Mount Olives, we enjoyed a remarkable view of the Golden City of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock. Next stop was the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed for God's will to be done.

The Old City of Jerusalem is where everyday life and customs within narrow crooked streets have remained much the same over the centuries. We retraced the events in the final hour of Jesus life as we walked Via Dolorosa, The Way of the Cross. We visited the possible site of Jesus death and resurrection, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In Mount Zion, we viewed the site of King Davids tomb, the Upper Room revered as the site of the Last Supper. Finally the 7 days tour was over ending the most exciting and memorable tour of a lifetime.

Keywords: Holy Land, tour, Sea of Galilee, Cana, Jesus



How I Was Guided By My Life Inside The Convent

My life in the convent is one of the memorable events of my life. I just graduated from college and was recruited by Catholic school to teach in Palawan, an island at the southern part of the Philippines.

I boarded a ship that would sail for three days to reach my destination. It was a very stormy journey. It was noon time when we arrived and nuns were awaiting my arrival. The jeep that carried us to the convent traveled a narrow road, winding underneath varieties of towering trees. I felt joy as I savored the ilang-ilang scented air. I was amazed at the enormous beauty of nature that engulfed us. Flowering orchids abounded on tree trunks. Mayas caroled high in graceful palm trees, others glided freely above us. We passed by gumamilas, sampaguitas, rosal and other varieties of flowering plants. Soon, the convent was visible. As we get closer, houses started to emerge.

A wooden two-story rectangular building stood at the middle of an enclosed property. The first floor housed the Mother Superior’s office, visitor’s room, ten small rooms for the recruits, the dining room, the kitchen, and the bathrooms. The second floor was occupied by the nuns.

The Mother Superior was the law inside the convent. She was a heavy lady in her sixties made heavier by her black habit which were layers upon layers of loose clothing. Her hair was covered by a black veil. She had the eye of a lion and a voice like thunder. She strictly enforced the rules and regulations such as: attending mass at the chapel at dawn from Monday through Saturday, supervision of the students on Sundays for mass at the church, permission from the Mother Superior when venturing outside the compound, turning off all lights at 9 p.m., curfew hours at 10 p.m. for both teachers and students. Failures to abide by these rules were punished accordingly. Nuns were punished as well by the Mother Superior. Nuns would kneel for hours and teachers were reprimanded by not allowing us to venture outside the compound, and students would stand at the corner of the classroom until the class was over.

Occasionally, with the permission from the Mother Superior, we would have dinner, and attended parties or dances outside the compound. Those were enjoyable times. Once in a while, we would miss the curfew hours and the Mother Superior would reprimand us. Singing with the nuns at the tune of “The Sound of Music” and talking about our lives prior to our arrival at the convent were nightly routine at the patio.

Interaction with my students was very memorable. Some of my students were my age. I became their teacher as well as their friend. Physics and Math were difficult subjects but the majority of students were able to cope with it. Slow students attended my remedial classes. I encouraged parents to play an active role in their children’s school activities. I updated them about the progress of their children during Parents Teacher’s Association (PTA) meetings. Some students would come to me for advice about their personal problems. During sports competitions, I cheered them with their parents.

Other fun times were spent with the priests and nuns on picnics, sightseeing around the island. The island was entirely surrounded by water. Strolling on the white sandy beach, some weekends or canoeing where we would venture farther to either fish or just have fun. We paddled the canoe that carried us farther, clear blue water splashing on our faces and getting us wet.

All the recruits became my friends as well as my family. Away from our family we depended on each other during good and bad times. I remembered one of the recruits who had a hard time adjusting to her situation. Apparently, she always had maids attending to her needs. She would cry whenever she started pumping water for her bath, laundry, and etc. Months later, she joined our sing-along with our pianist at the auditorium singing to our heart’s content.

When the school year was over, we went back to Manila, the city where we came from. We had a reunion the next year. Some came with their husbands and it was an enlightening moment. Years later, I met some of my students who came to study in Manila. I followed up their progress. They became successful individuals in their chosen careers. I would like to think that I contributed, though in a small way to their success. My experience as a teacher, though short-lived, instilled in me the self-discipline and self-confidence that guided me throughout my career.

Keywords: convent, teacher, students, Physics, Math

The Angel Cat

The incident at my mother's deathbed was almost forgotten. Then on July 26, 2007, I watched Glen Beck of CNN interviewed a doctor from Brown University about a cat. This particular cat can predict death accurately better than the doctors. The cat would stay with the senile patient hours before the patient’s death.

Mother's Deathbed on Mother’s Day

My mother was very ill. It was noon, a Sunday, when the nurse informed me that my mother's organs were no longer functioning and she was near death. I called my family to come over as soon as possible.

When they arrived, we all surrounded the bed, prayed the rosary. My mother loved to sing. We sang songs that she loved to sing, and religious songs. While everybody celebrated Mother's Day, we were waiting for our mother's last hours on this earth.

Arrival of the angel cat

All of a sudden, a cat entered the room. The cat took his position by the window sill as though he was familiar with the place. He watched us, wagging his tail. We wondered whether he was a pet of a patient and just happened to wander to the room. He sat there for a while, and suddenly jumped to the bed next to my mother. We tried to move him out but he stayed put. That was the time I realized this was not an ordinary cat. He was there for a purpose. After sitting there for a while, the cat jumped out of the bed and out of the room.


When the nurse came over to check on my mother, we informed her of the incident. She said that this particular male cat always knew when somebody's going to die and stayed with them. Hours later, my mother took her last breathe. The nurse told us we could stay as long as we wanted and gave us instructions on what would happen after we leave. We stayed with my mother for a while and one by one we said our last goodbye. Relatives from different states were notified of her death.

The incident at my mother's deathbed would stay with me forever. I'm very glad that an angel in the form of a male cat was sent to be with my mother on her last hours.

Keywords: Mother's day, angel cat, mother, death, Glen Beck

Freda, My Amazing Lovebird

Freda was a naughty and playful little lovebird. She was about two months old when I purchased her for forty dollars. She has a nice green plumage and a short tail, that spread like a fan when displayed, light-brown feathers on her forehead and dirty-white on her neck. I hung her small cage by the living room window. On the first day, she climbed to the top of the cage whenever I came close. Although she made a lot of noise, living others in the household complaining, I was not at all bothered by her noise. I referred to it as singing. I enjoyed the way she changed her music from soft chirping to loud, sometimes angry, harsh sounds.

I decided to move her cage to my bedroom where she could see and hear other birds in the backyard trees singing or taking a bath in the fountain outside the bedroom. She responded to their chirping and singing. By this time, she allowed me to touch her during feeding time. I enjoyed watching her flapping her wings, doing her acrobatic acts, grooming or listening to the various sounds she made. She loved to take a bath, dipping her head back and forth in the water bowl, sometimes losing her balance and her whole body sinking inside the water bowl. She shook and choked as though drowning and climbed back to her perch. After taking her bath, she jumped on her swing, flapping her wings to get rid of the water. She then patiently straightened and dried her wing feathers one by one with her beak.

One day I decided to open her cage while on my bed reading. She flew down and landed at the bottom of the bed. I tried to touch her, but she flew back to her cage. I continued reading. She flew down again and this time, came closer to me. She just sat there, and I did touch her. These small flights went on for a while, until one day she flew and landed on my shoulder. I grabbed and held her, and she didn't do anything. She sat on my palm for a while, hid her head underneath her wing and fell asleep. After that she followed me anywhere, when out of the cage. She enjoyed playing with my jewelry, sometimes unhooking my necklace, playing with my earrings. She loved to pull my hair or loosen the screw of my eyeglasses. When I was talking on the phone, she wanted to hang on the antenna of the wireless phone, but I shooed her away.

The back yard had shrubs, flowering plants, and vegetables. I spent a lot of time taking care of my plants after work. When working in the garden, I hung Freda's cage on the branch of a tree in the middle of the back yard. Other birds sat on or clung to the cage and chirped and sang.

Freda became very popular with kids. When relatives visited, their kids laughed and giggled when they saw Freda. They enjoyed touching and rubbing her feathers. Freda often playfully bit their hands. Occasionally, I let Freda sat on my shoulder while doing my grocery shopping. Kids in the store giggled and laughed especially when she displayed her beautiful voice. She was dubbed "my baby".

One afternoon, I turned on the ceiling fan and forgot to close the door of her cage. The phone rang. Talking on my phone, Freda few over and tried to hang on the antenna. I shooed her away, but she kept coming back. Eventually, she flew to the ceiling and was caught by the blade of the fan. Fortunately, the fan was set at low. She dropped into a corner, gagging and gasping. I dropped the phone and ran to her rescue. She was hurt badly and was hardly moving. I held her in my hand, praying she would be okay. I called an avian vet and made an appointment for the next day. At the vet's office, people with sick birds and animals were waiting their turn.
When it was my turn, I followed the assistant to a room and sat down to wait for the vet. To my surprise, the vet had a sling on his arm. He introduced himself and took Freda out of the cage. He carefully checked her with one hand, saying that he had to take x-ray. He showed me the x-ray afterwards and said that Freda could no longer fly. I was devastated, but glad she was still alive. The vet put a sling on her, wrapping both her wings. He said that it would prevent her from further injury. He also gave some medicine for her and told me to come back in three weeks. I paid the bill and left.

Freda's recuperation was slow. She would not take food but at least was drinking. She sat in one corner of the cage, balanced herself, closed her eyes and went to sleep. I had to manually opened her beak and forced the medicine in. She was very weak and stopped chirping and singing. Even the chirping and singing of the other birds in the back yard didn't cheer her up. As the days went by, Freda started to take food and moved around inside the cage. When out of the cage, she walked slowly, balancing herself. I still did not hear any sound from her. Nursing her back to health was an agony for me.

Three weeks later, I went back to the vet. He checked Freda thoroughly with one hand (he was still wearing his sling). It took him a while to remove Freda's sling. He checked her wings and said they were healing properly and that Freda would be okay. With the sling off, Freda was able to slowly move her wings. The vet gave me more medicine and told me to come back in a month. He said that by that time, the wound would be completely healed. I thanked him, paid the bill and left.

Freda slowly regained her health. She started chirping and singing again. Sometimes she attempted to fly but could not lift off. She became very dependent. If out of the cage, she followed me anywhere inside the house. She climbed, grabbed my pants or skirt with her beak and climbed up until she reached my shoulder where she sat. Sometimes she sat on my palm and fell asleep. Inside her cage, she fell off once and she stopped using her swing. She exercised her wings by flapping them, attempting to fly but with no success. In the back yard, she continued to respond to other birds' singing and chirping. A final visit to the vet confirmed that she was healed.

One morning, I was in front of the house tending to my roses, having left the front door slightly open. All of a sudden I heard her twitting, clinging to my pants. I picked her up and put her on the grass. She played on the grass, pulling and cutting the grass with her razor-sharp beak. I watched her as she moved to a shrub and slowly climbed the trunk. Finally, on top of the shrub she spread her wings, flapped them over and over, chirping and singing. Other birds responded to her singing and chirping. Before long, many birds joined the choir. I was glad to see Freda happy again.

One day I bought another lovebird and called him Pete. Pete has yellowish-green feathers. His forehead and neck were covered with bright-reddish feathers. He was smaller than Freda. I carried him in a paper bag with holes. Stepping inside my front door, he started twitting. Freda,  in the bedroom, responded. When I put Pete inside the cage, both instantly became friends. They chirped and sang simultaneously, embracing each other with their beaks. I bought a bigger cage. Freda was dominant and would not let Pete eat from her food bowl. Watching them was both pleasure and a learning process for me. Their acrobatics were amazing. They could turn their head 360 degrees and reach every part of their body. Pete loved to swing and did a lot of stunts. I was thrilled to see them embracing each other, feeding each other, grooming each other and performing lots of tricks together. Once in a while, they fought just like husband and wife who quarrel once in a while.

Freda stopped following me around after Pete joined her in the cage. I was sitting on the floor reading a newspaper one day when Freda started tearing the newspaper with her razor-sharp beak, each piece precisely the same width. She quickly shredded the newspaper. Pete tried to do the same but ended up merely punching a hole on the newspaper. Since then I referred Freda's shredding as "reading." Freda shredded any paper she could find.

These two lovebirds had their individual characteristics. Freda was serious while Pete was playful and loved to watch himself in the mirror, flipping or flapping his wings while watching himself. When out of the cage, he watched himself in the mirrored door, turning and doing other tricks. Freda had no interest in the mirror.

Soon the pair started to mate. Pete varied her chirping when initiating the mating. Sometimes Freda initiated the mating. During the mating Pete produced a different sound. He was exhausted, panting hard after mating. By listening to the sound of their chirping, I could tell what they were up to. Whenever I let them out of the cage, I gave some papers to Freda to read. As usual Pete was close by.

One day Freda started shredding the paper and stuck the shredded paper pieces one by one on her back. She was a funny sight with different lengths of shredded paper sticking on her back. She ran under the bed, followed by Pete. Freda came back minus the shredded papers on her back. She shredded more paper and stuck them on her back, then ran under the bed again. They kept playing this same little game over and over again. I left them alone for a while, but when I heard them chirping, I decided to find out what they were doing. Both sat side by side under the bed. I could not reach them, even using a rolled newspaper to make them move out. It took a while before I succeeded in driving them out. I picked up Freda, put her on the cage and closed the blinds. Pete followed. While removing the shredded papers from under the bed, I suddenly realized what that little game was about. They were making a nest.

A friend of mine who bred lovebirds told me to purchase a nest and recommended I buy a book about lovebirds. I bought a book and a nest for lovebirds. I was surprised to see that the cage was big compared to the size of the birds. I attached the nest to the cage. Immediately, Freda went inside, and Pete followed. They spent most of their time inside the nest. I also noticed that Freda stopped eating from the bowl. Pete, on the other hand was constantly eating. Freda sat at the door of the nest, and Pete regurgitated and dislodged his food inside Freda's beak. Her feathers changed from a lovely green to a dull color. Occasionally, she came out of the nest and vomited. She acted strangely, quite mean and even bit Pete after being fed. Pete cried out and flew to his swing. I could no longer touch Freda. She stayed inside the cage most of the time, coming out only to do her droppings. Curious about Freda's strange behavior, I opened the nest top and peaked inside the nest; there were three tiny eggs. Freda rushed back inside and started chirping loudly and angrily.

According to the book it would take 28 days to hatch the eggs. I eagerly awaited the hatching. A month passed by, but the eggs did not hatch. I went back to the book. Male and female lovebirds would lay eggs. If the eggs were from the same sex, they would not hatch. I was disappointed. Freda sat on the eggs for a while. One day a rotten-egg smell came from the nest. I opened the top of the nest, and Freda was eating the rotten eggs. I forced her out of the nest and removed the rest of the eggs. When the eggs were gone, Freda again spent more time outside the nest. She and Pete chirped and sang, attracting other birds from the outside.

Cycles of mating and laying eggs followed, but the eggs never hatched. I came to the conclusion that my lovebirds were of the same sex. As time went by, Freda became really mean and I could no longer touch her without being bitten. Her beak was so sharp that it drew blood when she bit. Pete on the other hand, was same playful lovebird. I never got to tame him the way I had tamed Freda. He playfully bit my hand, when I tried to touch him.

Fourteen years later, Freda become an old and mean bird. Pete is a year younger. Freda still enjoys her "reading" shredding any paper I give her. She still collects the shredded pieces on her back and carried them to her nest. I bought another nest for Pete as Freda does not allow him in her nest. Since Pete can’t shred the paper the way Freda does, he punch holes in the paper and eats the pieces. They habitually do lots of chirping and respond to my calls.

Somehow, I never get tired of my lovebirds. Feeding them, cleaning their cage has become a routine. Both are nearing the end of their lives. I realized how similar my lovebirds are to human lives after studying them for many years. They go through the same sex cycles and life changes that we humans experience.

Now both my lovebirds are gone but the memories and lessons I learned from them will linger on.

Keywords: lovebirds, birds, nest, cage, avian vet

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