Belgium, Flashbacks, Simplify

June Mowing

No Mow May (Maai Mei Niet) ends today for D and I. We were able to not mow the lawn for an entire month of May and then four days into June.

Last year, we let a patch or two go wild. But this time, we mowed everything! Well, at least I still have flowers along the fence and in my flower beds.

Flashbacks, Jibber Jabber, Simplify

Rain Shower Water Regulating Cartridge

Three days ago, I managed to pry the water regulating cartridge out. I inspected it, de-calcified it, and returned it to its spot, making sure that I tightened the fixtures well. And yet, it still dripped. 🙁

After doing some serious read up on this particular fixture, I attempted to disassemble the entire thing yet again two days later. Well, it was one time too many. A small piece of plastic broke off from the cartridge. Needless to say, the dripping became worse…

This morning, D called a shop to ask if they might have the replacement part we needed. As luck has it, they do. Pricey as it was, it was immediate gratification. It took me only a few minutes to insert the new cartridge. And damn, no more dripping, smooth turning, it was like a new shower!

Business & Creativity, Flashbacks, Simplify

Depend Less

When we need and want less, we spend less. And in this manner, we depend less on those who produce, provide and sell to us.

In the past two decades, I have mindfully set limits on my consumptions. I do not buy cheap ass Made-in-China trinkets. I have a food budget. I wear hand-me-down clothes without shame. In doing so, I limit my dependence on what are usually evil enterprises. I stop putting money into the pockets of those unethical bastards.

My wallet, my health and my conscience thank me for that.

Flashbacks, Malaysia, Numbers

The Quiet Years

From end-1995 to mid-2000, I was back home in Lahad Datu. Things I have done in this period do not go on a résumé. Yet, I feel the need to list them here:

  • Successfully launched my youngest brother off to college, and then later to university in the US. I did the research, the calculations, the preparations, the planning. I wrote his university application letter for goodness sake, and flew with him to the US!
  • Both my parents reached retirement age. I was there to assist them with their claims to their retirement funds. My father’s retirement fund was solely from his teaching career. My mother’s retirement was from her 20 years as a teacher and partly from her life insurance career, which she continued.
  • For my mother’s insurance business, I helped in renovating the Lahad Datu office, set up a new one in Kota Kinabalu, and have a home-office built beneath the living room.
  • I planned a solo US-trip for my father to meet up with my sister who was then in San Francisco and my brother who was still in university in Kalamazoo. He had the experience and time of his life!
  • Gifted properties were formally and legally transferred to the rightful owners. We then went into small-scaled oil palm planting and development. I recalled driving to a weighing station to collect a cheque for sales of oil palm seedlings?!
  • I had a wisdom tooth removed, by my childhood dentist. I survived LD style dental brutality!
  • Planted trees along a busy street.
  • Because I worked for my mother as an administrator, I had to help manage a secretary, a handful of death claims, a lot of accident claims, and tons of paperwork.
  • Spent some good and memorable time with church members and friends, some sadly no longer amongst the living. Cancer is a bitch!
  • Then there are plenty of things I no longer remember…
  • My last big act was planning my getaway from Lahad Datu, to begin the next chapter of my life.

Five and a half years of accomplishments that were quietly executed. Deeds that were easily forgotten due to their lack of glamour. When you lived in cities like San Francisco and Las Vegas, people do not bother to know what happened to you when you lived in hell holes.

I have no regrets spending half a decade back in Lahad Datu. No one forced me to stay. They were years well-spent and well-lived.

Belgium, Flashbacks

Six Years Ago

Six years ago today, religious terrorists attacked the airport at Zaventem and a metro line in Brussels. March 22nd, 2016 was a dark day, and the shadow of the attacks still hang upon us today. Once again, the senseless acts of terror and violence have forced us to impose all those annoying security measures. Why do human beings treat each other this way? What is there to gain, all the pain and sufferings?

Flashbacks, Jibber Jabber, Simplify

Coffee Machine Maintenance

Heck, water stopped coming out of the Dolce Gusto when I tried to make my morning coffee. And the freaking red light would not stop flashing! So, it was the internet to the rescue again… and I did not like what I read. I disassembled the machine (boy, that took a while) and checked to see if there were any issues with the inner parts and circuits. Because I did not see any visible mechanical problems, I proceeded to clean the thing the best I can. After a few times of stubbornly and repeatedly trying to run a mixture of vinegar and water through the machine, water started to come out. Phew… I managed to fix it this time! I better not push my luck too much, and remember to descale the coffee machine more often. One more task to the maintenance list.

Belgium, Flashbacks, Malaysia

Power Outage

What the heck?!

There was a 30-minute power outage, and now I have to reprogram all the digital clocks in the house. Half an hour of no electricity meant no radio, no buzzing sound from the boiler, the refrigerator, the freezer and every other electrical appliances we tend not to think of all the time. So freakishly quiet…

This reminds me of the serious blackouts I used to experience in Lahad Datu. Day-long power outages meant that refrigerated perishable food had to be cooked and consumed quickly. No lights, no televisions, no radios, no fans! And in the later years, no computers and air conditioning. But blackouts then were never quiet. There were always the animals, the insects, people conversing amongst each other, and my parents scolding me for messing with the candles or oil lamps.

Events, Flashbacks

Farewell 2021!

By now, everyone I know has been vaccinated. The occasional social gatherings took place. Harelbeke city festival was a success. There is a self-dug pond (with plants and fishes) in our backyard, with the surprise presence of froggy during the summer months. We also have a family of house sparrows that eat out of our never-empty bird feeders. There were overall improvements in our lives. Despite the pandemic and my postponed travels, 2021 has been a fairly good year.

Bye bye 2021. Let us make 2022 an even better year!

Belgium, Flashbacks, Health, Numbers

In One Week

The following are what happened in the past seven days:

  • Plumber came to clean the boiler. A once every 2-year maintenance.
  • My Dolce Gusto machine broke down when I tried to make a cup of coffee for the plumber. So, I turned to the internet to troubleshoot the problem, removed faulty part, and ordered the replacement online.
  • Did my weekly bread and grocery walk.
  • Cooked up a small pot of seafood bisque, using up all the grey shrimp shells I have in the freezer.
  • Trench composting in the vegetable patch.
  • Tidied up some of the fence-side sunflowers, sprinkled the seeds on the ground. The birds went bonkers over these when I was back indoors.
  • Armistice Day, D came back from the farmer’s market with too many surprises…
  • Ate vette darmen like I am a pure-bred West Flemish dude. Damn, the smell alone can kill brain cells!
  • Made pizza.
  • The coffee machine diffuser arrived in the postbox. This went into the Dolce Gusto in a jiffy and the machine is working fine again. Yeah, I can fix things!
  • Hot dog lunch.
  • Transferred and converted MYR to USD.
  • Did more research regarding online brokers, and got a bit wiser.
  • Europe’s Covid-19 numbers are worsening. I feel sorry for the elderly and the healthcare personnel. And hope to God that this will not result in the enforcement of a lockdown.

On this drizzly Tuesday, I walked to the baker for fresh bread. Baker’s wife said that they will be closed the next two days because her grandmother had just passed away. I wish that I do not have to say innige deelneming too many times in my days here in Belgium, but I guess that is impossible and unavoidable.

After the bread, I walked to the bank and withdrew and converted some dollars to euros. I can always get larger withdrawals from this bank.

My last stop was the grocery store where I got extra points for six bottles of milk and a bag of keropok. Because of my rather heavy grocery bag, the walk back home turned into some sort of strength exercise. And it started to drizzle more along the way, but I do not mind, I am breathing…