Category: American Appreciation

Chatting with Former White House Chef Walter Scheib

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I’m gonna start with the moral of the story:

Do what you love to do and share it,

and maybe someone will ask you to do it again.

(Feel free to quote me on that!) 

I’m referring to both how I got my most recent gig, and the guy I worked with on said gig. I was acting as the Mistress of Ceremonies for a “State Dinner” with the former White House Chef, Walter Scheib. He loves to cook, I love to communicate, so ….

 Malayna with Walter-md 

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Synchronicity, Symbolism & Giant Stone People

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I recently experienced one of those moments when it seems that a glimpse of the grand design is revealed, even if only for a second, in seemingly insignificant ways. It happens to me every now and then, and yet it still surprises and excites me, and inspires me to believe that there is a purpose and a synchronicity in operation beyond what I am able to see and understand.

I was at the doctor’s office, and since I expected to wait for over an hour if not two, I brought some books to read that can be expected to have a fair amount of overlap.  “Man and His Symbols”—an exploration of Carl Jung’s work with the subconscious, and “The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers”—which is based on Joseph Campbell’s study of the Hero's Journey in “Hero with a Thousand Faces”.

Jung’s colleague, ML von Franz, explained that the Self is often symbolized by stone—perhaps because they are complete, unchanging and lasting. “Many people cannot refrain from picking up stones of a slightly unusual color or shape and keeping them, without knowing why they do this. It is as if the stones held a living mystery that fascinates them. Men have collected stones since the beginning of time….”

Buddha-galVihara She says that this is why practically all civilizations have the urge to erect stone monuments to local saints or heroes, on the site of important or religious events, or to express an otherwise inexpressible experience. From the alchemist’s Philosopher’s Stone to the Ka’aba in Mecca, from huge stone Buddhas to Mount Rushmore, people are moved to create and identify with stone monuments.

Then I read in The Writer’s Journey: “the Statue of Liberty is a recurring symbol of the immigrant dream, a lighthouse beckoning the newcomer… The Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France to the people of America , is a colossal example of the ancient practice of sending statues of gods and goddesses from a founding city to its colonies to connect them by a psychic thread, a religious tie. …”

More giant stone people!

This particular passage I was reading was a mythical analysis of the film “Titanic” and the ideas of the time in which it was set. Moments later, as I pondered the synchronicity of the ideas, I could hear Celine Dion singing the theme from Titanic over the waiting room TV. Weird!

Or is it just that I was in that moment, at the right place, at the right time, and I was open to all that it could bring? I think perhaps I was.

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The Words of Inauguration Day – Poetry

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The power of words and of music, of culture, of prayer, and of history were felt today. President Obama's speech is available online, but I couldn't find Elizabeth Alexander's poem, or the Benediction Prayer, so here they are, transcribed by me, to the best of my ability!

Only the coolest presidents had poets…

Alexander will be only the fourth poet to read at a presidential swearing in. Robert Frost read for President John F. Kennedy, and Maya Angelou and Miller Williams read at President Clinton's inaugurations.”

(According to

Elizabeth Alexander’s

Praise song for the day

Each day we go about our business and pass each other

Catching each other’s eyes or not,

About to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise.

All about is noise and bramble, thorn and din.

Each one of our ancestors on our tongues.


Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,

Repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum, with cello, boombox, harmonica, voice.


A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky.

A teacher says “take out your pencils, begin”

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed

Words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone

and then others who said "I need to see whats on the other side,"

"I know there’s something better down the road,"

"We need to find a place where we are safe"

We walk into that which we cannot yet see.


Say it plain, that many have died for this day.

Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,

Who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

Picked the cotton and the lettuce,

built brick by brick the glittering edifices

they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle

Praise song for the day

Praise song for every hand-lettered sign

The figuring it out at the kitchen tables

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thyself"

Others by "First do no harm" or

"Take no more than you need".

What if the mightiest word is "love"?
Love beyond marital, filial, national.

Love that casts a widening pool of light

Love with no need to pre-empt grievance.


In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air

Anything can be made.

Any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp.

Praise song for walking forward in that light.

The Words of Inauguration Day – Benediction

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Dr. Joseph E Lawry’s Benediction


God of our weary years

God of our silent tears

God who has brought us thus far along the way

Thou who has by thy might led us into the light

Keep us forever in the path, we pray.

Lest our feet stray from the places, oh God, where we met thee.

Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee.

Shadowed beneath thy hand, may we forever stand.

True to thee, oh God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we’ve shared this day.

We pray now, oh Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant,

Barack Obama the 44th President, of these United States, his family, and his administration.

He has come to this high office in a low moment

in the national and indeed the global fiscal climate.

But because we know you ‘got the whole world in your hands’,

We pray for not only our nation but for the community of nations.


Our faith does not shrink, though pressed by the flood of mortal ills,

For we know that Lord you’re able, and willing

to work through faithful leadership to restore stability,

mend our brokenness, heal our wounds,

and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor, (or the least of these),

And from favoritism toward the rich, (the elite of these).

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th President,

to inspire our nation to believe that Yes We Can work together

to achieve a more perfect union.

And while we have sown the seeds of greed, (the wind of greed) and corruption,

and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption,

we seek forgiveness, and we come to spirit of unity and solidarity to commit

our support to our president

by our willingness to make sacrifices,

we respect your creation to turn to each other and not on each other.


And now Lord, in the complex arena of human relations,

help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate,

On the side of inclusion, not exclusion

Tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family.

Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosque, wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, first lady Michele, look over our little angelic Sasha and Malia.


We go now to walk together, children,

Pledging that we won’t get weary in the difficulties ahead.

We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power, and your heart of love.


Help us then now Lord to work for that day

when nations shall not lift sword against nation,

When tanks get beaten into tractors,

When every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree

and none shall be afraid

When justice will roll down like water and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labor rest

Joy of a new beginning,

we ask you to help us work for that day when:

Black will not be asked to get back

When brown can stick around

When yellow will be mellow

When the red man can get ahead, man

And white will embrace what is right

Will all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen, say Amen, and Amen.

“Commander In Chief” = Prophetic TV?

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So here I was, sitting in my living room in Sri Lanka, watching some TV when the show "Commander in Chief" comes on.CommanderinChief1  If you don't know, the premise of the show is that the president dies, leaving his female VP in the place of taking over the presidency.

Has John McCain ever seen this show?

I don't know if this has already occurred to everyone else, cuz I'm kinda removed from the American media, BUT…

If the Republican party & McCain keep harping about Obama's supposed inexperience, and then McCain decides to run with someone who has even less experience, and let's face it, he's 72… Don't you think this may be our future pictured above?

I'm all for a female president, and Geena Davis did a great job on the show, but she's not running and I'd prefer one with a bit more experience. Having said that, I chose Obama over Clinton because she seemed almost too good at the game of politics.

I'm happy that Obama has chosen to run with someone well-versed in foreign policy, because as an expat, I really see the need for America to work WITH the rest of the world, and not act like a nation above all the others.

There's my 2 rupees!

The Freedom to Travel the World

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Photo from:


One of the freedoms we Americans forget about is our freedom to travel just about anywhere in the world. All we need is our American passport and a ticket, and we’re off. 


In contrast, much of the world has to get permission every time they want to enter another country. Here’s what my husband, a Sri Lankan passport holder, has to do just to TRANSIT for ONE NIGHT in Japan, though he’s gotten the same visa twice a year for the past 3 years (by the way– pretty much every embassy has the same procedure). And remember, this is the “easy” process, since he’s already been given the visa before.


  • Get a letter from his company stating that he is indeed employed and does have vacation time coming to him, along with his company ID. (So they know he’ll come back from their country and won’t migrate illegally.)


  • In addition to the form, he needs to attach a letter asking for one day processing, because as an airline pilot, he kinda needs his passport every day and can’t let them have it for a week.


  • He has to bring his tickets and confirmation from a hotel to prove to them exactly what he’ll be doing and when. The magic of this is that if they refuse the visa, the tickets have to be cancelled and may not be refundable.


  • His current and previous passports.


  • Stand in line in front of the Japanese embassy from 7am, because they only let a certain number of people in each day at 9am, and they don’t care if you only have one day off to take care of this (or if you’ve traveled from out of town, as many do). If you don’t get in, you’ll have to come another day.


  • When his number is called, he presents all of his documents to a Sri Lankan who has been employed to keep out the riff-raff and is on a major power trip. (Because these people are so evil, they are hidden behind reflective glass so no one recognizes them and takes out their aggressions on them after they get off work).


  • This person ignores all the evidence and demands paperwork that he doesn’t have with him and that are not asked for in any documentation from their embassy—a faxed confirmation from the hotel, a copy of his work schedule, his bank details, his birth certificate.


  • Then he has to argue with them, reason with them, and demand that they look at the stuff he’s brought that proves he’s done this many times before and they have always given it to him.


  • Then they usually say okay, come back in one week and he has to argue with them to pick it up later in the day or the next day.


For many people who are not airline captains and have not done this before, they need to show proof of all of their assets to prove they’ll come back. A divorced friend was a concern to the US embassy because they feared he had no reason to return and would lose himself in the underground. (Read “The Inheritance of Loss” by Kiran Desai to get a sense of what the underground life is like. It’s not very appealing.)

And all I have to do is arrive in Japan and show my U.S. passport. That’s freedom!

God bless America!