Thursday, February 7, 2013


Another Brownie story... dedicated in memory of a special and beloved dog.


Liam woke up to the sound of the outer kitchen door banging. It took him a minute to orient himself to his surroundings. His mother had sweet-talked him into home-sitting their old house in Queens to tend to the plants, the cats, and the parakeets.

So, for the whole month that she vacations in Florida, her son was ordered to abandon his swank condo in Manhattan and to commute from his job as a successful surgeon in the city.

If only his residents could see him now. His reputation as a tough task-master would definitely suffer. His gruff talk usually caused his surgical residents to buckle and fumble, and he took great delight in it. But he could not say "No" to his dear old mama.

As luck would have it, the blizzard came and blanketed the city in 3 feet of snow. His body ached from shoveling the snow on his mom’s front yard, as well as the adjoining neighbor’s house, as per her mom’s latest phone text. He had expected his neighbor’s thank you but had not seen anybody in their house as yet.

And to top it all, he almost hit a lady jogger just a block from his mom’s house. His Expedition braked just in time, its tires squealed in protest.

He had right of way, so of course, he yelled at the jaywalker, and she promptly gave her a middle-finger. She also cursed her out in whatever language it was.

Liam got a glimpse of the woman, and found her attractive enough despite her belligerent attitude. Her lovely almond eyes flashed in anger, and her brown, smooth skin glistened from the sweat. Her beautiful face captivated him. A spunky, feisty woman. Over the years, Liam had to fend off advances from subservient, fawning females; this woman is so much different than them.

His physical reaction to the woman surprised Liam. He wanted to reach out to her and to know her more, but she was fuming mad. Just before she walked off, she threw a snowball towards his SUV, directly splattering his license plate. Liam shrugged it off; he really didn't care about his customized licensed plate that his teenage nephew had ordered online for him.

A muffled sound from the back of the house brought him to the present. Liam went into full survival mode and ran to the kitchen door. Through the kitchen window, Liam saw tiny footprints leading away from the house.

Armed with a bat, Liam gingerly followed the foot prints to the side of the house. The culprit was a medium-sized dog frolicking in the snow while a little boy was putting a carrot nose on a small snowman.

“Stop! What are you doing here?”, Liam shouted, startling the little boy.

Both boy and dog froze in their tracks. Liam's hulking presence was intimidating. The boy's brown eyes were wide with fear. When Liam approached, the boy grabbed a slat from the wooden fence that separated the neighbor’s property. It looked like that was to be his escape hatch.

Liam was out in the yard when the dog growled at him, in full protection mode for his owner. The dog’s brown fur gleamed in the sunlight, but he didn’t look cuddly at all as he glared at Liam, his tail raised and his teeth bared in warning. He looked like a beagle mix but sounded like a ferocious Rotweiller.

The boy was already halfway through the fence opening and turned around to call his dog, “Hurry, Brownie.”

Seeing his master almost safely out through the escape hatch, the dog snorted at Liam and paused to make sure that Liam was looking, then boldly pooped on the snow.

The boy started to chuckle at his dog’s boldness, but stopped when he saw Liam’s astounded face.
“Mister, so sorry. Brownie never pooped in here before!”, the boy’s voice cracked.

Liam cocked an eyebrow. “Never? Before?”

The boy bravely said, “Grandma Mary always let me come to this yard to play. Our yard is smaller because my mom has her garden.” He patted his dog’s brown fur. “And Brownie only poops in our yard.”

“Grandma Mary is my mother.”, Liam tried to sound stern, but there was something about the boy and his dog that made him smile. The boy looked appropriately dressed with a thick winter coat and gloves. His red sweater matched with the dog’s body sweater. They looked cute together. Except for the poop.

The boy visibly relaxed when he saw that Liam was trying to hide a smile. He must have decided that Liam is trustworthy because he eased himself back to Liam’s yard and seemed ready to engage his new friend in a conversation.

“Oh, you’re watching the house for Grandma Mary? My name is Jordy.”

Jordy turned out to be a chatterbox. His animated face and gestures amused Liam. The boy’s features hinted of a mixed parentage; maybe of Asian and white heritage, but his beautiful brown eyes looked familiar. He lives with his mother Kim and grandmother Delia who actually went with Grandma Mary in Florida. Since he was only five years old, he was scheduled to enter school next September.

“You know, I’m very smart. Just like my mom. She’s a nurse. She takes care of people with sick hearts and broken arms.” Jordy added as he proudly declared. “My mom is an ER nurse.”

“Really, that’s interesting, Jordy. I’m a doctor, too. I operate on people.”

“O-op-rate? My mom told me that some doctors are not nice. Especially those who o-op-rate”.

Liam smiled. “I think I am an exception.” He thought that if the mom is most ER nurses, she’s probably one of those feisty nurses who give his surgery residents a hard time.

“My dad left us so it’s just me, Mom, and grandma. Brownie’s smart too. Just like me.” The boy’s words rolled over, as if he was in a hurry to impress his new friend.

“He’s so smart that this Brownie chose to poop here instead of in your yard?”

Brownie barked when he heard his name. When Liam pointed to his poop, the dog averted his brown eyes and walked slowly back to the fence opening. The dog’s down-trodden face looked so comical that Liam couldn’t help but laugh out heartily.

The dog sensed that Liam would not be wielding the bat, so he sidled over Liam’s side and nuzzled him with his cold nose, as if apologizing for the offending poop. Brownie's face shone in the sunlight and his mouth was open in a wide grin.

From inside the other house, they heard a woman calling for Jordy.

“Mister Liam, please don’t tell my mom that I.. twespassed.”

Both boy and dog went through the opening, as they must have done countless of times before. Jordy put back the wood in place, almost hitting Liam on his face.

Through a little hole in the fence, Liam saw the mother step out into the yard. She had lovely almond-shaped eyes, a cute pert nose and brown smooth skin.

She was lovely. She was the one who flipped him the middle finger.

Kim… (posted 12/21/13)

It was so uncharacteristic of her to flip a middle finger. Her mom would cut her finger if she just knew what she did to that man yesterday. Her own son Jordy would be so shocked too at her childish gesture.

But Kim could not comprehend the way she reacted to the man and his car. It was her fault for not paying attention to the passing car; she was in a hurry to pick up her son from his play date. She had just finished walking Brownie and had dropped him back at the house. As soon as she reached the crosswalk, she slipped on the snow and just missed being hit by the car.

The driver yelled at her. She was ready to apologize, but then she saw the customized license plate on his Expedition: “SRGN 1”. And that’s when her almost irrational dislike of all surgeons came to fore and made her flip her middle finger at the driver. Another surgeon, just like her ex.

As luck would have it, the man also happened to be the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen. His green eyes bore into her and she remembered feelings that should be better forgotten. Instead of responding to her flipped finger, she saw the man smiling at her, as if she had amused him.

That was yesterday afternoon. She had picked up her son Jordy from his playdate, fed him and the dog, then tucked him in for an early bedtime. By 7pm, Kim laid down on the sofa for a quick nap, fully intending to wake up in two hours to start the grueling task of shoveling the sidewalk.

She woke up the next morning to find her son and the dog missing. Frantic, she ran to the front door. It was still locked.

Kim heard Brownie bark in the backyard. Heaving a sigh of relief, she started to go towards the kitchen door. But then, she looked outside the window and saw her front steps and her sidewalk had been shoveled.

Kim whooped with joy. Mrs. O’Donnell must have volunteered her son’s shoveling services. Ever since they had moved to the house she inherited from her departed aunt, the O'Donnells had welcomed Kim's family with open arms. She had met all the sons except for the one who lives in the city. She thought of bringing her neighbor’s son her famous cassava cake as a thank you.

Kim went out to the back yard and saw her son and Brownie go through the hole in the fence.

Jordy had a guilty look on his face. "Sorry mom, Brownie and I twww... twespassed." Brownie looked away, with the same guilty look like his master.

Kim started to caution her son against going off on his own, then she heard somebody chuckle from behind the fence.

Jordy pulled the man into her back yard, the same man with the “SRGN 1” license plate. The gorgeous man with the green eyes.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Simple Pleasures: Beloved Geniuses

BOB ROSS (1942-1995)

A tree is not just a tree, not when it’s Bob Ross’s tree. He painted happy trees and happy clouds. Even a simple snow-capped mountain glistens and the river streams joyfully on his canvas.

Bob Ross, the Air force veteran turned painter and PBS television host, has a cult-like presence in the internet and his “Joy of Painting” show is considered the most-recognized, most-watched art show in the world.

It’s not just the painting. Just watching the bushy-haired and mellow-voiced Bob transform a blank canvas into a beautiful world of landscapes with an occasional squirrel provides a peaceful respite from the crazy world.

It is some kind of therapy; a reminder to pause in our fast paced daily existence to enjoy the simple things in life.

I had a curious fascination with Bob as he charmingly instructs us on his wet-on-wet technique of dabbing vibrant colors, often changing his mind where his happy little trees and bushes reside.

“We don't make mistakes, we just have happy accidents.

I can't think of anything more rewarding than being able to express yourself to others through painting. Exercising the imagination, experimenting with talents, being creative; these things, to me, are truly the windows to your soul.”

“There's nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend.

The secret to doing anything is believing that you can do it. Anything that you believe you can do strong enough, you can do. Anything. As long as you believe.


Norman Rockwell painted Americana. It is his artistic legacy.

Norman Rockwell’s warm and humorous depictions of small-town 20th-century America had given the world a wistful glimpse of a much simpler and innocent time.

He is the quintessential American who had inspired genius filmmakers like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas to collect their own Rockwells.

His vivid illustrations on the Saturday Evening Post covers showcased ordinary people in a nostalgic frame of naivete and simple joys. His paintings were charming anecdotes of the time, but he had also chronicled more serious themes such as his famous Four Freedoms and Civil rights series.

"Maybe as I grew up and found the world wasn't the perfect place I had thought it to be, I unconsciously decided that if it wasn't an ideal world, it should be, and so painted only the ideal aspects of it," he once said.

“The secret to so many artists living so long is that every painting is a new adventure. So, you see, they’re always looking ahead to something new and exciting. The secret is not to look back.”