Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Survey

Here's my 2009 survey.

Here's my 2010 survey.


In 2011:


Did you do something you would never do?

>>I went white water rafting and ziplining. Two actiivities that I really thought I'd never ever do.

Did you keep any New Year's Resolutions?

>>I never make any so nothing to keep.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

>>No one.

Did anyone close to you die?

>> Yes, a dear friend and faux FIL, Ken died in December.

Did you visit any countries?

>>Yes. Went to Mexico and Costa Rica

What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

>>A child of my own.

Will any date from 2011 stay etched in your memory forever?

>>I can't think of any one particular date.

What was your biggest achievement of 2011?

>>Conquering my fear of heights by going ziplining.

What was your biggest failure?

>>Unable to conceive. Inability to follow a strict diet-exercise plan to lose weight and be healthy.

Did you suffer illness or injury?

>>Epstein Barr, hypothyroidism and low iron level.

What was the best thing you bought in 2011?

>>Maybe not the best, but the most expensive. I finally got a hybrid car.

Did your behaviour changed over the year?

>>I tried to be more sociable.

Where did you spend most of your money?

>>Travels, bills and car purchase.

Are you happier than this time last year?

>>I don't know.

What song will remind you of 2011?

>>Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars

What do you wish you would have done more of?

>> Diet and exercise.

What do you wish you would have done less of?

>>Blogging and tv watching and worrying.

What did/will you do for Christmas 2011?

>>Same thing every year, a day with family.

Did you fall in love in 2011?

>>Yes, I fell in love with Costa Rica.

Did you get your heart broken in 2011?

>>Yes. My fertility treatment/procedure wasn't successful.

Favorite TV program of 2011?

>>Merlin, Haven, Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, and many more.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

>>Nope

What was the best book you read and/or movie you saw?

>>I haven't read a single book in 2011, which is a pity really. Best movie? Off the top of my head I'd say BIUTIFUL.

What was your greatest discovery?

>>What a fascinating country Costa Rica is and how warm and friendly are its people.

What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?

>> We went to Esperpento for lunch and had glorious tapas then walked off the calories in Mission District.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

>>Having a baby.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2011?

>>I don't have a fashion concept.

FRIENDS:

Who was the best new person you met?

>>I met a few people this year, but Heather is reallhy lovely.

Who did you wish you did not meet?

>>No one.

Who was your bestfriend?

>>My husband

Who was your enemy?

>>Laziness and procrastination.

Who do you miss?

>>My girl friends from high school.

Who will you never forget?

>>The lovely couple from Germany Lars and Andrea who we met in Costa Rica.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

>>Just Do It, or you'll run out of time.

What will you always remember about 2011?

>>Busy schedules, church meetings, church activities, church plannings.

ASPIRATIONS FOR 2012:

What do you want to do in 2012 that you couldn't in 2011?

>>Have a baby..

Any resolutions?

>>Walk, move, exercise.

What is different about 2012 than 2011?

>>Lots of good things, I hope.

Anything you want to change about yourself for 2012?

>>Reinvent myself by adopting a new positive attitude towards life.

Do you want to make more friends in 2012?

>>Absolutely!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Three-Day Weekend is Over

The three-day weekend, aka Christmas Holiday, is over and here's how I spent it:
  • We spent Saturday cooking and vacumming the house, even though I wasn't expecting anyone. 
  • Attended a little party at a friend's house.  While sipping wine and munching on delicious cheese we were talking about the woeful state of our city's economy and the blunders our city managers have made regarding some projects.  Boy did I feel so adult that time :)
  • Immediately after leaving the party, went to church so I could set up the altar for the 9 pm mass.
  • Attended the 9 pm mass.
  • Took mother (with hubby) to the 11:30 pm Carols and 12 midnite Catholic service.
  • Sunday started with a mass at 9:30 am.  Hubby said we're all massed out for Christmas :)
  • Went to brother's house for our annual family Christmas luncheon.  Sadly, there were no shows.  How I hate that :(
  • Monday came and we went to drop off presents and some ham and nilaga to our Vietnamese friends.
  • Went shopping.  Didn't hit the jackpot as we did last year.  Not many things were on sale this year, or did we just start very late in the day and the shelves were nearly empty.
  • Stopped at Trader Joe's hoping we'd find a stollen.  We always have stollen for Christmas since we got married.  We have it for breakfast on the 24th.  Not this year as we forgot to buy it, because we didn't go to Cost Plus.  But they didn't have it anymore.
  • Ate nilage for dinner while watching our Netflix rental the ZOOKEEPER.
Now am back to work and we're all fogged up here.  Once the fog burns out later, we'd see a high of 60F, which is really really good for this time of the year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dreamland

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Last night I had a dream, one that baffles me. I don't dream often, or perhaps I do but only few I still remember when I wake up. This one from last night is one that I remember vividly. I cannot remember the last time when a dream stayed with me all day long.

The setting was in my hometown. That's a guess. How else can my high school girlfriends and I be in one place if not for our hometown. Plus the people in my dream actually still live in my hometown.

So it began as a group of us girls were heading to the library as my friend, the main character of this dream, was to return a VHS tape and borrow another one. Yes, you heard that right VHS. In the dream I didn't put too much emphasis on VHS versus DVD. Why not DVD?

The other girls in the dream had no speaking part. They just loiter around us, browsing at the shelves. I know 3 of them. However, I know there were more with us than those three girls.

Anyway, the main character told me that she and her husband have split up! That she wants my opinion on this new guy she's eyeing! OMG! Totally out of character!

I must have said something to her when she dropped the bomb on me, but I don't remember. All I could remember was how could they break up when they were the most solid partnership in our group. And I don't know where the phrase "solid partnership" came from.

Now in my waking state granted that I've only been fully awake for 3 hours, the dream has been occupying my thoughts. I don't want to put too much stock on a dream. What did Freud say about dreams anyway? He said they represent wish fulfillment.

It cannot be my wish fulfillment. Absolutely not! I love them, their first-born is my godchild. Oh lordy, what a baffling dream so close to Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What Have I Been Up To?

Or a little update from my side of the universe :)

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  • My son (the cat) and I made creme de menthe cookie truffle on Monday night.  It's a recipe I found on one of the blogs I read regularly and she featured this little treat.  When I read the ingredients and the procedure, I thought it was easy.  Turned out it was easy to make.  Except that I am not really good in the kitchen.  The truffles can be made prettier - you know balls can be made rounder - but they taste wonderful.  My husband and I decided this would be the chocolate item we would participate in next year's CHOCOLATE EXTRAVAGANZA, a church fundraiser. 
  • I almost got run off my lane by an unattentive driver.  I was so shocked.  Luckily no one was hurt and he got control of his pick-up before it's too late.  Thank God.
  • Up until 2 days ago, the host of our annual family Christmas luncheon was not fixed.  I was getting anxious that I might host it two years in a row.  Thankfully, my SIL came to the rescue and said she's hosting it.  It's really her turn anyway :)
  • We lost a dear friend of ours a week ago today.  I have written about them here many times.  Ken, the husband, and my adopted FIL died in his sleep and he and his wife have decided not to do anything, no service no funeral.  He chose to be cremated and his ashes will be scattered some in the water because he loved fishing and some will be transported to Wyoming where he was from and where he loved to vacation.  It's sad that his wife is now alone in their house. 
  • I seem to have more presents to wrap.  When I thought I was done, there were more items to buy.  I even wrapped presents earlier than usual this year so I can have the remaining days preceding Christmas stress free.
  • Can't believe the year is about to close again.  What happened to 2010?
Happy Holidays to one and all.  Have a lovely, peaceful, joyful, and safe celebration.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Thank You Kayni!

Blog pal Kayni proposed an exchange gift and I was one of those who responded to her proposal.  Last week, I received a wonderful package from her and a Christmas card also.  I know I'm not supposed to open it before Christmas, but I couldn't wait any longer.  The minute I opened the package, my little cat Emma zoomed in on the mousie toys. I don't know why she went crazy tearing up the packaging. I was thinking maybe it was spritzed with catnip.  I enjoyed watching her and neither I nor the hubby remembered to capture her joy at getting her mousie.  No video nor images, tsk!

Lookie here what I got:
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My loot - not including the cat toys.
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I fell head over heels with the artwork of the journal cover. I wonder if it's a copy of a famous painting, anyone knows?
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Fancy and whimsical is the design, love it.
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This I'm saving for Christmas!!!!

Thank you again, Kayni.

Monday, December 12, 2011

He May Not Love Me After This Weekend

My husband that is.  You see I dragged him to watch BREAKING DAWN Part 1 on Sunday.  He knew we were going to eventually watch it you know.  And he was miserable the entire time.  He couldn't help but make snide remarks throughout the movie, which I don't blame him. I would have spouted the same remarks myself.  The movie was how can I put it mildly, well a waste of time.

But that didn't mean I didn't enjoy my time.  I love the characters.  May be more if I read the books, but even without knowing them thru the books I really embraced them.  I feel like I know them.

When the first movie came up, I was blindsided. I didn't know anything about the movie.  I didn't even bother to watch it on the big screen.  On DVD, I found the story appealing to not only teens but eternally romantics like I am.  So what if the characters are high school students. I  can totally relate to the boy 1 loves girl and girl loves boy 2 situation.  I also can relate to the torn between two lovers scenario.  So this really appealed to me.

So when the second movie came out, I dragged the hubby into the cinema for date night.  He was difficult but I promised him that this would be the only one of the series that we'd pay money to see.  But I lied.  Despite the fact that the second movie was boring, I was eager to see this one too. 

It took a lot of cajoling to get him to agree to see the movie.  Until know I really can't pinpoint what made him change his mind.  I'm guessing he said yes just to shut me up.  Like all husbands do, you know.

However, I must say that subjecting the husband to mushy chick flick about teens is bordering on torture.  I pity him and feel for him. 

But I have to be alert now and find ways to get him to see the Part 2 when it comes. My job is laid out before me. I must prepare. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Favorite Movies of the Season

This season is one of the most hectic in the entire year.  Shopping here and there, Christmas parties everywhere. 

In order to restore my sanity, I lean on my old reliables to rejuvenate me.  My old reliable movies that is.  Every Christmas season, networks are filling their slots with holiday movies as the regular shows take a break. 

Here are my favorite Holiday movies of all time, in no particular order:
HOME ALONE:

The last movie I watched in the Philippines before I migrated.  My bff and I watched it in Ali Mall and we halfheartedly watched it.  We were mostly chatting, making the most of our last moments together. 

Every Christmas time, I welcome Kevin to my household like a long lost relative.  Super funny, as I'm sure you all know and agree.


THE SANTA CLAUSE

One of my favorites for a reason: Tim Allen.  I love Tim Allen in his HOME IMPROVEMENT days.  I have not outgrown this family oriented flick.  The little boy who played Tim Allen's son is oh so cute. 


A CHRISTMAS STORY

Wouldn't be Christmas without it.  A mainstay in Holiday fun. 


WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

I love, love, love Sandra Bullock in this quintessential chick flick.  I know it's not necessarily marketed as a Holiday movie, but it's set during the Christmas season. 

I'm cuddling with the kitties this weekend hoping one of these movies is on the tube.

So what are you favorite Holiday movies?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Are You Watching?

Oh my lordy, I missed my yearly fall tv posting this year.  Must have been due to my hectic scheduling.  However, despite said busy schedule, I manage to keep up with my tv shows with help from my newly discovered ally:  ON DEMAND. 

My old favorites are back including:
  • The Good Wife
  • Grey's Anatomy
  • House
  • Castle
  • Desperate Housewives
Now for the newcomers of the season, the freshmen, so to speak, are you watching these?
TERRA NOVA: 
The show begins in the year 2149, a time when all life on planet Earth is threatened with extinction due to dwindling worldwide air quality and overpopulation. It has become virtually impossible for humanity to survive, and almost no vegetation exists. At Hope Plaza, a massive ring shaped structure in Chicago, scientists discover a rift in space-time that allows people to travel 85 million years back in time to the late Cretaceous period of an alternate prehistoric Earth. The Shannon family (father Jim, his wife Elisabeth, and their three children Josh, Maddie, and Zoe) join the Tenth Pilgrimage of settlers to Terra Nova becoming part of the first human colony on the other side of the temporal doorway.

The Shannon Family starts a new life in Terra Nova while dealing with carnivorous dinosaurs and the Sixers, a splinter group of colonists from the Sixth Pilgrimage who are trying to transport all of Terra Nova's resources back to 2149.  (wiki)

ONCE UPON A TIME:
On the wedding day of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (James) (Joshua Dallas), the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) arrives and delivers an ominous threat about a powerful curse she intends to release upon them. Some time later, a pregnant Snow White is worried about the curse and visits Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle), who issues a prophecy that the Queen's curse will take them all someplace terrible where there will be no happy endings. He also reveals that Snow White's unborn daughter, Emma, will return when she is 28 years old to rescue them, thus beginning the final battle with the Queen. On advice from the Blue Fairy, Geppetto (Tony Amendola) and Pinocchio fashion a wardrobe from a magical tree which will allow one person to escape the Queen's curse. Prince Charming intends for Snow White and their unborn daughter to use the magic tree to escape the curse, but Snow White goes into labor and gives birth to Emma just as the wardrobe is about to be completed. On the day Snow White gives birth to their daughter Emma, the Queen's curse strikes. Prince Charming places their daughter in the magic wardrobe, but is grievously wounded battling the Queen's henchmen. The Queen stands triumphantly over Snow White and Prince Charming as the curse takes them to "someplace horrible."


In present day Boston, Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) lives a lonely existence working as a bail bondsman and bounty hunter. On her 28th birthday, Emma is approached by a ten-year-old boy who identifies himself as her son, Henry, whom Emma had given up for adoption as a baby. Not wanting a relationship with him, Emma agrees to drive him back to his home in Storybrooke, Maine. Along the way, Henry shows her a large book of fairy tales, insisting that all of the stories in it are real. When they arrive in Storybrooke, Henry informs her that everyone in town is in reality a fairy tale character, exiled by the curse and with no memory of their real identities. This includes his therapist, Dr. Archie Hopper, who is really Jiminy Cricket, and his teacher Mary Margaret Blanchard, who is really Emma's mother Snow White. He claims that time is frozen in Storybrooke, and the people are unable to leave, but that the curse will be broken by Emma since she is the daughter of Prince Charming and Snow White. A skeptical Emma returns Henry to his adoptive mother, the town's mayor who is really the Evil Queen. When Henry soon runs away again, Emma finds him and decides to stay in Storybrooke temporarily. This decision causes the hands of the town clock, previously frozen, to begin moving again.  (WIKI)

REVENGE:
Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp), whose real name is Amanda Clarke, moves back to The Hamptons to take revenge on the people who caused the death of her father David (James Tupper) and destroyed her family. When she was a little girl, Amanda's father was arrested on trumped-up terrorism charges, and was tried and convicted for treason. He died in prison. Emily feels her life was destroyed; she ended up in juvenile detention and on her 18th birthday inherited the wealth of the company in which her father invested. She changed her name to Emily Thorne and decided to take revenge on the people responsible for her father's downfall.  (wiki)

What are you watching?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It Feels Like Christmas

My Christmas tree is up and I joyfully completed the task on Saturday after Thanksgiving. What is more amazing about that is I did it by myself. I am growing up hahaha!

I found so much joy putting up the tree this weekend that I took the least amount of time necessary to get it up and lighted. You see I am a master at procrastination. My style is minimalistic so my ratio of green to ornament is heavily in favor of the green tree. I know my mother’s style is the opposite and she may still comment on my very minimalistic approach, but for now she keeps mum.

This year I have used my red ball ornament. I’m still trying to get as much use from my old ornaments as I could. But the tree that I have right now is a new one. I gave my old tree away to Salvation Army. I use plastic tree versus real one. I love the smell of the real tree, but disposing it is so much hassle that I have never purchased a live one again.

Likewise the garlands are already decorating the banister in my staircase, they’re lit up as well. That’s about the extent of my decoration so far. I have yard decors that would have to wait for this weekend to be put up.

And speaking of Christmas, blogger pal Kayni broached up the idea of x-change gifts. I know this may cause a little wrinkle in the blog world as I passed the chance to play x-change gifts with Princessa Musang this year and said yes to Kayni. I’ll make it up to my other blogger pal some day.

Here’s my list for Kayni’s Christmas party:

Something you can use everyday: Cutesy journal

Something cute: Anything Sanrio/Hello Kitty

Something light or small: Kitty ornament or kitty item

Something fancy: Fancy (fashion) earrings

Something sweet: Dark chocolate bar

Favorite colors: Pink, yellow

Something you really need: Small wallet

Something you collect: Pressed pennies, postcards, ref magnets

If you have one wish, what would it be: Is this about world peace or totally selfish answers? I want to have one 5 x 8 print of your most favorite picture that you took. I’ll frame it and put it up on my wall.

I hope to get Kayni's response to these questions/lines soon so I can start shopping.

Happy Christmas everyone! I know too soon right?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Grateful

I'm always grateful for the emails I get even though many of them are forwarded inspirational or humorous messages from my friends. I read them all whatever they are and I keep them in my inbox.

A few minutes ago, I opened my email and saw this solitary email in my inbox. It's a wonderful prayer/poem. I'd like to share it with all of you.

A General Thanksgiving


Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have
done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole
creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life,
and for the mystery of love.


We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for
the loving care which surrounds us on every side.


We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best
efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy
and delight us.


We thank you also for those disappointments and failures
that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.


Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the
truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast
obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying,
through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life
again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.


Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and
make him known; and through him, at all times and in all
places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Today I'm Thankful for...

My post yesterday was about how thankful I was for winning concert tickets. Later that day I was reminded again that this is Thanksgiving week and a few months earlier I was planning on posting my daily thanksgiving post. Too late for a whole month's edition, right? So I'll just make do with daily gratitude for a week.

Today I'm grateful for the unexpected free coffee from the chief of our department. At about 4 pm I went down to the coffee cart for a little pick me up and I found him there getting his chai. He was just putting in his order when I showed up and before he could finish his order he said without hesitation --- and whatever she's having.

He certainly made my day. It wasn't just a cup of coffee, it also meant my budget for the week went a little further. I hope I'd be able to pass this generosity on to someone who most need it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I Won! I Won

After years of lamenting my lousy fortune at raffles and other contests, I finally won something substantial. Ok, many moons ago I won a tee shirt. But I found out about it much later on so when I contacted the company that hosted the raffle, they said the time claiming prizes has lapsed. So that didn't count.

This time around it counted. Last week I was notified via email that I won a contest for a Pink Martini concert tickets. I don't know who Pink Martini is. If you don't either, just google them. The email also mentioned that someone would be contacting me for claiming info.

A day later the info was left on my answering machine. I was to go to the box office of the venue, which was Paramount Theater, the wonderful art deco style theater in Oakland, and collect my will-call tickets.

What a great thing, isn't it? So my husband and I decided to make it a date night. The concert starts at 7:30. Oakland is 20 miles away. We left by 5:30 - 5:45 and headed to Chinatown which is near the venue. Parking took up a few minutes to secure, street parking that is. Then we went to a Vietnamese place where we ordered Singapore noodles and some Vietnamese noodles. My apologies I cannot remember the "actual names" of the dishes. The Vietnamese noodle dish is the one I like and order all the time, but the Singapore noodles take a little bit of getting used to. I cannot marry the curry flavor with a noodle dish, sorry. One of my many many flaws is my inability to totally embrace the curry flavor.

When we reach the venue we found street parking, 2-3 blocks away, and the will-call and box office line was long. But we managed to get the tickets in the least amount of time. The theater is really opulent. I'll have to go back and see this theater in a tour or something.

The line to get some refreshments/beverages is long that we decided to just abandon that when 7:30 came around.

We have enjoyed great music via a 10-piece orchestra. Global music I think one said is their forte/genre.

Unfortunately it was a Sunday night and we had to work today so we left during the intermission. While we both wanted to stay and finish the concert, we knew that we'd be paying dearly Monday if we did. So old fogeys that we are we left for home.

I'm so glad I finally got to win something. One of the many things I'm thankful for.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

HOW TO STAY YOUNG

1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay 'them'

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle.. 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.' And the devil’s name is Alzheimer's.

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person, who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love , whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER :
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Worry about nothing, pray about everything

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dear Blog

Poor neglected blog. 10 days since the last post. There’s a lot on my plate right now and maintaining four other blogs – mainly photo blogs – something has to suffer and I’m afraid it’s you.

Around these times you know I tend to be stressed out, dealing with traffic in order to get to and from work and the same thing during the weekend from one errand to another – too much drain on the energy.

I have stuff to tell you, but am too tired to make some sense still. But I have been caring for these little balls of fur that visit every day. This weekend hubs and I got to pet little Fuzzy. Yap, you know it, I have already named 2 of these cats. The other one is Midnite.

Fuzzy is fascinating. She came when she was a baby, brought by Gray, one of the original feral cats that visited us last year. Gray came to us as a baby and grew up a bit. She/he brought Fuzzy to us as a baby. Fuzzy played through the screen door with Buster. So they knew each other from the very beginning.

Gray and Midnite – the original one – were our first babies, they came every night. Because they were babies we used to put out bowls of milk, then they graduated to table scraps and cat food.

All of a sudden Midnite and Gray no longer came to visit. I was constantly worried they might have been run over or you know killed by dogs or something.

Our neighborhood is a safe haven for them, I believe. I know for a fact that our neighboor who we share a back fence with also feeds them.

Now this group has grown. And Fuzzy has grown too. She/he’s probably 3-4 months old now and very sweet little one. We got to pet her and she/he purred for us. Next step is to pick her up. And if she/he’s willing, we’ll get her spayed/neutered, get checked up and given all the necessary shots and we’ll adopt her.

Now all these is based on whether she will be tame enough to allow us to carry her. If that happens, I still have one hurdle to overcome. What will her/his arrival impact on Emma. Emma has been really aloof with all the cats feeding in the backyard. Buster we have no problem, he’s the sociable one. He greets them and plays with them thru the screen door.

We have put up an interim shelter for them since it has been raining lately and the temperature has dropped. Fuzzy has that wonderful long hair and it appears to have doubled since the weather has changed. What a beautiful cat.

However, the cats don’t seem to know how to use this interim shelter. We’ve been extremely busy with our weekends that we had no time to make their house. We still plan on making them some sort of shelter when the weather is lousy.

See how busy I am. I am not even mentioning about work, as I don’t want to say anything about it.


Love,
Me

Friday, November 4, 2011

Feeling the Season

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Finally cool enough to be fall, and the leaves are starting to change colors.

This image was shot in Plumas County 10/22/11. There are some trees like this around my neighborhood, but not quite this showy yet.

The cool breeze is very welcome and the chill in the air is very comforting. I want to light a fire tonite while hubs and I cuddle in the couch laughing our heads off while watching BIG BANG THEORY on syndication.

Now I have a plan.

Happy weekend. Hope you're enjoying your fall season.

Monday, October 31, 2011

This and That

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A week had gone by again without a post. Yes, I was busy with stuff - aren't we all?

But I was mainly staying away from writing down my feelings, or anything for that matter. Except that I had drafted a post last week to coincide with my dad's birthday. It was a very emotional week - mainly because I still miss my dad despite all the years of his passing. Additionally, my system is full of hormones (undergoing fertility treatment) which makes me really emotionally imbalance. So weepy. And so the post I crafted last week will remain unpublished.

How was your week? Were you busy with Halloween parties? Not once did I attend a Halloween Party or don a costume, although seeing the receptionist dressed as a Minnie Mouse,at the fertility center today where I had my ultrasound earlier,I was a tinge envious that they wear costumes to work on Halloween. May I add, she's such a fine cute Minnie Mouse in her red polka dot dress and her mouse ears.

Last week also we had a little dinner in connection with church business and this Sunday we'll have luncheon also. This quarter of the year is always so full of something to do.

Still affected by the hormones, I managed to help my husband prep the linen closet this weekend. On Saturday, he stripped the carpeting and we installed wood laminate floors. We're quite pro at this after having installed all the wood floors downstairs.

On Sunday, despite all my whining and weepiness, we were able to paint the walls of the linen closet. This is in preparation for our custom built closet that will be installed this Friday. I am so excited. The master bedroom closet will also be redone. We worked with the closet company a few months ago when they were running some sales so we thought that we made a good deal. Well, I mean we had a budget in mind before we approached them and when the design was on paper and all the materials and labor costs were totalled and they were within our budget range, we gave them a go signal to complete this work order.

Why it took so long to get installed? We purposely did that because we were taking that vacation in September. So this Friday my new closets will be installed.

I hope this would make my closets really neat and tidy. Except that with this new installation all the other boxes we have there would be all gone, and Buster, my cat, wouldn't be very happy with that. He likes to nap in those boxes.

Oh I almost forgot my little nephew (my niece's only son) age 17 months came for a visit so we stopped installing floors to visit with him. He was so energetic and was playing with Buster. Poor cat, he is so patient with toddlers but he gets beaten up - whap here, whap there. And poor Buster he could only run away from this monster of a toddler.

We spent a couple of hours over dinner at a friend's house last evening. Her husband was here for 2 weeks and was leaving again and we thought we had time to spend more time with them, but 2 weeks came and gone and we only had 2 times to be with them.

I guess this would do. I just had to document these things that are happening in my life right now. Thanks for reading my nonsense.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Street Photography #11

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Just a little update:

*** Discovered THE BIG BANG THEORY - a real laughfest. Been watching it on ON DEMAND and syndication.

*** Found 2 little kitties, approx a week old, in the backyard on Sunday. I could guess where they came from, but they were from a pack (do you say pack with cats?) of feral cats or stray cats from this neighborhood. We bottlefed them and put them in a box in the garage overnight. Then husband surrendered them to the Animal Shelter the next day. Will go and visit tonite or sometime this week. I missed them already. Our hearts broke when we had to give them up. Much as I'd like to add to my brood of 2, we cannot take care of that young an animal since we both are at work all day long. The kitties will just die of starvation.

***Went to Plumas Co. on Saturday for our annual leaf peeping drive, except that the leaves were late in changing this year. The explosion of colors wasn't there but we managed to salvage some shots with fall colors.

***Am thinking of reviving my other blog - which is solely for random photos. Let me sleep some more on this.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Shaken and Stirred

Yesterday was a day full of excitement. Not all good excitement mind you. Yesterday we had two earthquakes, the first one at about 3 pm was a 4.2 and the second one at about 8:16 pm was deemed to be only 3.9 in magnitude.

This is earthquake country and the last big one that hit this area was in 1989, 22 years ago. Whereas the major faults around the globe had big ones lately, we still haven't. It is inevitable to have a big one. One is expecting it, but also fearing it.

Living in this region certainly makes one always on the lookout for the big one. The first earthquake happened when I was at work, near the epicenter (Berkeley). Our building shook once or twice, but not the sideways shake, I thought it was the up and down movement, which was scarier. Now our building made so much noise that nerves were rattled more than anything in the building. This reminded all of us that well we never had the big one.

The irony of it is yesterday was statewide earthquake preparedness drill. Every gov't offices and schools performed safety drills a few hours before the first one.

I recovered well from the excitement of this shaker, but the second one was a bit more difficult to get over with in my case.

We were dining in Berkeley, of all places. Who knew there would be another quake after the mild one earlier this day. We were having a good time getting together with friends who moved in the area from New York 3 years ago. We knew each other from church but we didn't really see each other outside of church functions until last night.

We chose to eat at TASTE OF HIMALAYAS, which is a Nepalese and Indian restaurant. The food is superb by the way. But this post is about the temblor so I'd forego the food descriptions.

We were done with our dinner when the quake hit. Everyone inside the restaurant paused and you could see that no matter how savvy these people are having lived here and experienced the shaking, you could tell the nerves have been rattled. Mine was definitely frazzled. My heart skipped a beat and I felt ill :). I was thinking was this going to be the big one. Because the shaking took longer than the first one and more noisy.

I couldn't wait to leave the restaurant and go home, which is about 15 miles away. I was worried that mom felt it and panicked, that something fell on the floor, glasses broke, and that the cats were spooked.

Luckily when we got home mom had no clue what just happened. Neither did she feel the first one. Good thing. And the cats seemed to be behaving normally.

Now this calls for preparations for the big one. While we always keep a case of bottled water in the garage and we have some first aid kit, we don't have the emergency preparedness kit. That is the next in line. We also must have food set aside for when we couldn't cook. It's scary. And I'm still frazzled.

You can't blame me. I had a big one experience. I was in the Philippines for the 1990 earthquake that hit Central Luzon. That was the scariest experience of my life and I don't want to repeat that.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Eleven Hints for Life

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1. It hurts to love someone and not be loved in return.
But what is more painful is to love someone and never
find the courage to let that person know how you feel.

2. A sad thing in life is when you meet someone who
means a lot to you, only to find out in the end that it was
never meant to be and you just have to let go.

3. The best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a
porch swing with, never say a word, and then walk away
feeling like it was the best conversation you've ever had.

4. It's true that we don't know what we've got until we lose
it, but it's also true that we don't know what we've been
missing until it arrives.

5. It takes only a minute to get a crush on someone, an
hour to like someone, and a day to love someone-but it
takes a lifetime to forget someone.

6. Don't go for looks, they can deceive. Don't go for wealth,
even that fades away. Go for someone who makes you
smile because it takes only a smile to make a dark day
seem bright.

7. Dream what you want to dream, go where you want to go,
be what you want to be. Because you have only one life and
one chance to do all the things you want to do.

8. Always put yourself in the other's shoes. If you feel that it
hurts you, it probably hurts the person too.

9. A careless word may kindle strife. A cruel word may wreck
a life. A timely word may level stress. But a loving word may
heal and bless.

10. The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best
of everything they just make the most of everything that comes
along their way.

11. Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss, ends with
a tear. When you were born, you were crying and everyone
around you was smiling. Live your life so that when you die,
you're the one smiling and everyone around you is crying.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Why I love San Francisco

Twilight In Golden Gate As Seen From Fort Baker

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Grant Avenue

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Just a few of the reasons why I love it here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Just an update

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It's been a week I know. But what can I do? Well I have been working on sorting all the photos we took from our last vacation and I must say that 3 weeks after coming back from the amazing trip I have already posted 2 albums for 2 different cities on Facebook. 2 down, 3 to go!

Taking photos is so much fun. While I'm in the moment, I never pose to think how much time I'd put into getting all the photos together and choosing which ones to share with friends and the blog. But the moment we get back and the task at tackling a mountain of photos is at hand, then the regret of taking too many pictures come into mind.

Nope the picture above is not from our last trip. This one's from Napa, I simply love the the rainy gloomy mood of the image - it reflects my mood today even though the rain has stopped and we are on the first day in a string of 4 days where our temps are supposed to climb up to 80 degrees again. Back to Indian summer people.

Last week was hectic. I started to attend a sort of bible study at church so my Wednesday evenings are booked until the end of the year.

Over the weekend we took Emma to the vet. I was concerned that she wasn't eating well enough and that her weight loss or perceived weight loss was worrying me. I knew that most cats are not amenable to changes and when one changes their food this causes some trauma to the cats. Well, I did change or keep changing their brand of food, but 2 weeks before her vet appt I went back to their old food which I know Emma loves.

As a result, 2 weeks before her vet appt she was back to eating normally and I have felt her return to her usual weight. I could tell. She walks all over me every day, especially in the a.m. when she wakes me up - after I put the snooze button on the alarm :)

So the vet visit was a confirmation that everything with Emma is normal and she did gain weight from her previous appt - a whopping 1.7 lbs :)

The other cat, Buster, was given his first animal blessing at church in connection with St. Francis of Assissi's feast day. Yes, he cried the whole way to the church - he hates car rides - but was surprisingly docile and quiet and well behaved at church. Did not even bite anyone who petted him, he was popular.

But while he behaved marvelously at church, the minute we loaded him up in the car and drove away he again cried and cried. We really should train these cats to enjoy car rides. The only time they get loaded in the car is when they go to the vet and so the negative association.

Also last Sunday our friends had a housewarming, finally! I really like their 4br 1.5ba in nearby Richmond. They have a sizeable backyard, fenced in and mostly cemented with basketball court for the boys. The front yard could use a little landscaping, some flowering bushes and shrubs and even roses would definitely add value and curb appeal to this wonderful house. The exterior also needed a fresh coat of paint, but that's about it. She and her husband really did a good job buying this house. I love it.

That's all for now. I have run out of things to day.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Oh So Short Weekend Is Over - Again

Really when was weekend long enough? When did we have enough of the weekend? When was the last time I was raring to go back to work?

I cannot remember the time I was going stir crazy and wanted to go back to work. But every weekend seem oh so short. Not all the chores can be accomplished in the 48 hours. It's not just long enough to cram all the housework and the "fun" stuff that we imagined we'd be having when weekend rolls around.

I did have another short weekend, but it was sorta fun. Our little Alex turned 2 and so there was a little "handa". Alex is my niece's son. That niece and I are 12 years apart, but we are mentally equal. I consider myself not having achieved full mental maturity as of yet :)

Because this time around we arrived at the time that was specified on the evite, we were there before everyone else is, except for family, which really made the time more special. Particularly since my other niece's 16-month old son happened to be there. It was the first time I'm seeing this adorable little boy who is a mini me of his mother. Just a carbon copy of his mother.

I again attacked the homemade lumpia that my niece made. I only go for the lumpia, I'm such a maniac when it comes to lumpia.

Anyway, we were there for about 2 hours chatting and eating with family when we decided to go. Then it was time to drive mom to the grocery store to grab a few items.

Then it was grocery time (Costco) and haircut (hubby) time. Then it was off to the church where I got to dress the altar - it was my schedule this week.

It was 8 pm by the time I got home and sat for supper.

Sunday was equally short I thought. Was at church until about 12 noon. Hubby had a web seminar at church at 2 pm. While he was away, I vacuumed the entire house. I totally abhor vacuuming, I'd rather wash dishes by hand or do the laundry. I hate everything with dusting, sweeping, mopping or vacuuming. But it was my week to do the vacuuming. It was really needed too, as I emptied the container 3x while I was doing the chore.

Immediately afterwards I headed out to the front yard where our rose plants have dead buds that needed clipping. So I was there clipping the dead hips and buds and doing some pruning as well. Then I noticed that the agaphantus had dead flowers too, which needed clipping as well.

Since I already was in the garden very long, I decided what the heck and continue snipping dry, dead blooms. I have been meaning to cut the dry lavender flowers from the plants because I can see newer growths coming out.

And so there I was on my knees clipping these aromatic blooms. It made for a lovely scented air whenever a breeze comes blowing. I loved it.

I have a paper bag full of clippings. I may give them away. Right now it is giving my house a wonderful aroma. I may make some bunches and bring them to work and give them away.

But I'm sure I'd keep some for bathroom and linen closet. I love lavender.

Oh I also found time to upload some bloggable pics on Flick'r and compose a post.

But that's about it. That's how the weekend went.

Friday, September 30, 2011

It's October

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The season is changing. The air is cooler. Darkness comes earlier. The smell of cinnamon would soon be in the air. Cider. Apple cobbler. Turkey. Sweaters. Boots. And most of all the greens would be turning into all shades of beautiful - red, yellow, orange, brown.

I love the fall season.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

So Many New Things

It's been a week since I got back from my vacation.  I'll write something about this vacation one day when I can sort out everything, when I'm not too tired from work, when I'm not worrying about Emma's skinny frame, or nursing a headache.

While I've seen and experienced many wonderful new things and adventures in this vacation of mine, the one I'm going to share here is what I experience for the first time while riding our local subway, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), on the way home from the airport.

Despite my brother's offer to pick us up from the airport, we decided to just ask him to pick us up from the BART station, 10 miles from home.  We were arriving at near 8 pm so we didn't really want to bother.  Although he insisted there is no bother when family is concerned.

Anyway, we boarded the train from the airport and I was surprised to find the trains still full.  We made a transfer in Oakland, and when the train was travelling in Berkeley, a fight broke out between 2 guys.  Fistfight!  I 've never seen one in person and not so close to where I was sitting.

Let me give you a back story to my day.  I awoke at 3:30 am to catch a 7:30 am flight to Miami.  Had an easy 2 hour flight to Miami and ate lunch during my 4-hour layover.  Didn't have anything to eat on the plane during the 5-hour flight to SFO. 

And at 9 pm as I was nearly completing the last leg of this long journey home, a fight broke out just a feet from where I was sitting.  My luggage is infront of me and I was too tired, too hungry, too numb to react.  My hubby who was about a yard away from where I was sitting was calm - as usual. 

And I sat there. Just sat there.  I don't know what I was thinking. I was afraid someone was packing. You don't know who's carrying guns nowadays.

Thankfully it was just a fistfight.  A brave guy came in between the two.  Then another came in.  The other people jumped out of the way, others chimed in and egged the fight.

When they got separated and one of them alit at a stop, the one left behind told everyone that the guy he fought with was groping women.  My husband saw this man grabbed a woman's breast and that's when this standup guy said something. I heard him say THAT'S NOT COOL, MAN.

So this guy who we first thought was the bad guy asked us, why no one stood up for that girl who got groped?

If I saw the deed, would I say anything?  Especially since the guy who did the bad deed looked like bad news follows him around?

Why didn't the others speak out?  Some of the women and even men told this standup guy to leave it alone.  This thing happens everyday.  Really?  Will you, can you let it go if you were the victim or the eyewitness?

Call me chicken, but I'm glad that I'm driving to work everyday.  I've always wanted to take public transport, but my workplace doesn't really qualify for a public transport. If I were to take a bus or train I would first walk 9 blocks downhill to catch a bus.  Bus 1 would take me to stop 1 where I'd take Bus 2.  Bus 2 would take me to Train station.  From Train station I need to take Bus 3 to work.  All that. 

Thank heavens I'm driving and I'm blessed with a car.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

All About Eva and the Dumb Doctor

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My search for the right person to ease my pain ended when I found Eva - a masseuse.  She is a little Chinese woman whose features belie the power that emanates from her fingertips.  She is little and yet so powerful.  She kneaded the knots out of my back and shoulders and neck.  I have never felt so good after an hour.

It was funny too.  It was my first time to have a little Chinese woman walk all over my back and I liked it.  I have already scheduled (in my head) my next session.  Glad I found that little place.

And I finally found time to visit my dentist.  I am aware of how important our dental health is but going to the dentist is not such a fun experience.  In the past years though I have made peace with going to the dentist especially since all I need are regular cleaning.

So today I went to see her.  I have been feeling yucky about my gums and wanted to raise this point to her even though my appointment is for cleaning.  She gave me x-rays too, it has been a year since the last one.  And there I found out I have a cavity.  Oh no! I haven't had one in over 20 years.  I must have been neglecting my flossing.

Anyway, while I was in the chair before my dentist could clean my teeth, I told her to give me a referral to a gum doctor.  Her eyes got big and was confused?  She asked, why and before I could answer her she added she needed to treat me first.

When I got the chance to reply I said, I needed the referral coz my gum hurts.  She bursts out laughing saying she heard me say DUMB DOCTOR the first time, hence her confused reaction.

My dentist is a hoot.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

One Fine Weekend

The long weekend aka Labor Day weekend had come and gone and the next 3-day weekend will be roughly here in 3 months.

This weekend also signals the end of summer in everyone's mind. The kids have gone back to school and daylight is a little shorter than it was a few weeks ago.

People usually take trips, camping trips as a last hurrah for summer during this time. We stayed home given that in a week's time we'll go on our long-awaited vacation.

Three things happened this weekend. Let me enumerate:

First - I finally got to cruise the bay. The San Francisco Bay that is. Courtesy of a voucher from Travelzoo that we purchased a couple of months ago, we boarded the Happy Hour Bay Cruise out of Pier 39. The cruise was a 1.5-hour ride in the bay with snacks and drink/s. I checked online for regular price of the said cruise and it was $35 pp. We paid $25 for both of us - huge savings.

Well, you know how locals always say they won't be caught dead in the tourist spots in their town, right? I on the other hand love to be there, to watch the tourists enjoy the city that I love and call my own. Of course I don't live in the city. I live outside the city, but I call this city my very own.

And so I enjoyed walking the 2 blocks from where we parked to the waterfront, watching people/tourists marvel at our very cold weather. How they enjoy everything about this beautiful city.

Anyway, the cruise boarded at 6 pm. There was a spread of snacks - chips and salsa and guacamole, cheese and crackers, assorted nuts. Our ticket also included one alcoholic drink per person or 2 non-alcoholic drinks. Of course we went for the alcoholic drinks given that this is a happy hour cruise. I had blue margarita and the hubby had tequila sunrise.

As the Blue and Gold Fleet was leaving the dock we passed by the sea lions, not as many as it used to be. Still a mystery why they came here and why they left.

Then it cruised by Alcatraz, close enought to get shots, but the weather wasn't cooperating. It was gloomy, cold, and breezy. Oh yeah, foggy too.

Then it went back and cruised along the city waterfront terminating in AT&T Park which is a jewel of a ballpark along the water. We stopped there for a moment then went back slowly to Pier 39. It was a wonderful experience, cruising under the SF Bay Bridge.

There are other itineraries, some go to Golden Gate Bridge.

We were so stuffed that we didn't have any dinner at all that night. I may have snacked myself full with cheese and crackers - they served the cheese that I liked.

Second - Our friends abducted [kidding] us and took us to this Vietnamese restaurant that they loved and have wanted to show us for months.

The pho definitely was good. Our friends and my husband all went with pho and I had something else. I cannot remember what I had but it's noodles and grilled beef with veggies. Really fabulous and full of taste.

However, I got really sleepy midway through. Could it be they have way too much MSG in their food? WE also ordered durian pearl shake. OMG, the durian smell was outrageous. I hated the smell but at the same time I loved the taste that I was torn between sipping and not the whole time.

It was indeed a good place to get pho. It was inside a strip mall with nondescript facade. The interiors were sparsely decorated and it was a local hangout. It was full and people kept coming.

Third - my waterheater died. Luckily we knew this was going to happen as it died before. But this time it was for good. It leaked and flooded the garage. Lucky that I was looking for my cat Buster who I knew was at the garage the last time I saw him and when I went there to call him I saw the floor flooded in one corner.

So there we were sopping up all the water that was dripping from the water heater. I watered all the plants with all the water we got from our garage floor. Not too fun time, but the guy that we contacted before came through for us. One day later, our new water heater is installed and I didn't have to shower in cold water. I'm really blessed. HOpefully, this will last me 30 years.

How was your weekend?

Friday, September 2, 2011

When?

I was at the doctor's with the hubby this morning for our shots in connection with our upcoming trip next week. He was called in first and given his shot, and I came later because I needed to take 2 shots and apparently that needed more time to prepare.

Not wanting to waste time, he decided to go to the pharmacy, which is a few yards away from where I was waiting, and pick up our prescription - a thyphoid (did I spell that right?) vaccine tablets and some diarrhea medication for just in case.

So 2 patients later I had my shots and went to the pharmacy to join my husband. We were waiting for the RX to be filled up. In the meantime I decided to wait in line since the line was quite long. I was right in taking that measure because the minute my name was up on the board, I was 5-6 people away from the front of the line.

Now here's the kicker. While waiting in line I was checking my name under my MAIDEN NAME and not my married name. So it was my husband who pointed out that my name was up on the board. I wasn't checking under my married name. Still I consider myself as Maria M and not Maria R, which is really ridiculous. However, this made me think. On the spot like this, I always check M for my name first before R, where I belong now.

Funny how when people ask my name, automatically I say Maria R and that name comes out of my mouth smoothly.

But when I am by myself, I see myself as still Maria M, is that what this incident means? Or am I making too much of it?

When will I get used to my married name?

Does this happen to you too?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I'm Excited

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I'm excited at the prospect of leaf-peeping drive this fall.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Blah, Blah, Blah

Friday again, another end to another work week, and an end to the first week of school.  I am well aware that kids are back to school even if I don't have one at home.  I pass by the elementary school on the way to the freeway so yes, I do get the slow down by the school every day. 

While technically there is still a whole month's worth of summer left, the return of school in session has somewhat cancelled the rest of the summer and fastracked us into fall.  Now here I am again wondering where summer went. 

We have been really lucky with our summers.  If I remember correctly, this would be (knock on wood) three summers in a row where the temps were cooler than usual and the number of days where our heat index went up way north were limited to a handful.  I guess it's the "normal" weather pattern here in this side of the bay.  But I'm real thankful just the same.  I cannot even imagine the torture that the rest of the country had suffered due to overwhelming summer heat.  I was watching the news one day and the meteorologist said that it was the 40th consecutive 3-digit temp in Texas.  Whoa,  a whole month + of 100 F or more in successive days?  That's a lot of hot!

But I guess they are used to it by now.  They all have AC out there I presume.  The houses in my neighborhood were built in the 1980s including mine and they are not equipped with AC, because well, we are close to the bay and the temperature does not really rise high enough to require an AC.  Plus, when we do have successive days of oppressive heat, it doesn't last long.  A week tops, then our natural airconditioning kicks in, in the form of a fog bank. 

And so this summer I am cooped up in my little hole working.  I just realized I badly need a little break.  Doncha worry I am getting it in a couple of week's time. 

Meanwhile a little shake up at work.  Now you know I hardly share anything about work situation, because I don't like to put that part of my life up front and in print.  I'm quite sad that the people I work closely with are going to be gone.  One has left a couple of weeks ago and the other is due for retirement at the end of this month.  They do not belong to the same department as I am but my job is closely link to theirs. 

I am sharing it here because it's part of my documentation process.  I have to make a mental note to get her flowers next week. I appreciate all her guidance and tutelage and her teamwork.  She's a great leader.  Far too young to retire, except that she's worked here a looooong time.  She is qualified to receive her full retirement benefits including the medical benefits.

I just hope they hire her back on a part-time basis, otherwise, it's going to be hell where I'm concerned.  My boss even said we're looking at rough sailing here for a while.  Yeah!

Change gears here.  I have a new crush.  A travel crush.  I mean a travel destination that just captured my heart.  I was watching my Netflix rental 2 nights ago and I was besotted to the location of the movie.  The movie is THE AMERICAN.
And the location is Castel del Monte in the Abruzzo region of Italy.   This is what wikipedia has to say about this gorgeous village:

Castel del Monte is a medieval and Renaissance hill town and comune in the province of L'Aquila in northern Abruzzo, Italy. Located in the heart of Gran Sasso mountain range, the town is set into a steep hillside nestled beneath mountain peaks near the high plain of Campo Imperatore. Castel del Monte sits opposite the ancient mountaintop fortress of Rocca Calascio and faces Monte Sirente in the distance. It is located in the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park.


Cobblestone streets, Medieval architecture, scenic views.  Oh yeah, the movie is good too.  Classic Clooney.  The movie is actually based on a novel, A VERY PRIVATE GENTLEMAN by Martin Booth.  Note to self, check this book out. 
Happy weekend everyone.  Stay safe. 


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Love Affair With Roses

Ever since I can remember I have always been fascinated by roses. I love them. Rose trees, rose bushes, rose vines, ground cover roses, fragrant ones, singles, doubles, any kind.

While we have a few rose plants in the house, my husband was not agreeable to planting only roses in the garden. I do love other flowers too, but my love for roses remain at the top of my list.

What's not to love with these?

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Note To Self

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Take time to smell the trees. It's good for the soul.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sometimes There's Nothing To Say

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My cousin was diagnosed with cervical cancer, stage 1 and had radical hysterectomy. She's looking at chemo and radiation. Nothing to say but pray.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Movies Lately

I was reading back some of the posts here lately and noticed that I haven't done one regarding the movies I have seen lately in a month's time.  And so this is that post.

KNIGHT AND DAY:   I saw this on HBO before Netflix so I took it off my queue.  This is a "romantic action comedy" movie starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.  There is nothing to this movie that is appealing.  Maybe the actors, who are both good looking and trim and fit and have good smiles and teeth.  Other than that the movie was rotten and I'm not just saying that. It had gotten a "rotten" rating from Rotten Tomatoes. 

THE KING'S SPEECH:  Via Netflix.  A well made historical movie about King George V and his battle to overcome his stammering.  Marvelously acted film that gave one of my fave actors Colin Firth an Oscars.  Helena Bonham Carter as Elizabeth the king's wife and Geoffrey Rush as the speech therapist also were recognized for their wonderful perfomance. 

Honestly I thought I'd be bored since historically I am bored with historical movies, but this one was the exception. 

RED:   Via Netflix.  CIA operatives now retired are forced to return to their old habits when one of their colleagues' girl got abducted.  I found the movie funny.  It has some moments in it, but all in all I think this movie is mainly for entertainment purposes. I don't think it has any ambitions to be anything but that and oh to make money of course especially since the casting is fabulous - Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren.  That's a cast don't you think?  I wonder how it fared in the box office?

THE TOWN:   Via Netflix.  An adaptation of the novel Prince of Thieves.  This movie is all Ben Affleck - as the lead actor, director and co-writer.   A well acted movie that garnered supporting cast Jeremey Renner an acting nod for Oscar Best Supporting category.   The movie is about friends from the dangerous streets of Boston who held up a back and taking the woman bank manager as hostage.   When they escaped, they release the hostage, but not before she saw a distinguishing tatto on one of the robbers.  Then the Ben Affleck character followed the bank manager, befriended her and fell for her.    This is the kind of movies I want to see Ben Affleck in. He excels in scenerios like this. 

NO STRINGS ATTACHED:  Via Netflix.  Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman in a story of friends with benefits.  I'm sure the movie FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS is 95% similar to this movie.  I found it very entertaining and it actually got my undivided attention.

BLUE VALENTINE:   Via Netlfix.  Critically acclaimed movie starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams about a marriage that grew apart - she was bored and he was dissatisfied in their sexless life living in rural Pennsylvania.  I really enjoyed the honesty portrayed in this film.  Scored high marks on my rating sheet.  Plus the actors were superb in this movie.

GREEN HORNET:   Via Netflix.  One word - FUN.

LITTLE FOCKERS:   Via Netflix.  You know I enjoyed it.  My husband and I were laughing at this third installment of the Focker saga.  The critics weren't too kind in their reviews though.

LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS:  Via Netflix.  Animated movie about owls.  This movie made me really appreciate the joy of owning a Blue Ray player.  And the theme song at the end of the movie when the credits were rolling was really good.  Plus I won when I guessed it was Carrie Underwood who was singing.  My hubby was not buying it that the voice belonged to Carrie U.  Not only did Carrie sang the song, she also wrote it.  I just forgot the title, anyone knows?

GROWN-UPS:   Via Netflix.  An Adam Sandler laughaton!  My husband is a big Adam Sandler fan so we have this, but I must say this one movie is really fun for me too.  Nothing really outstanding, but a good use of your free time.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Good/Bad Weekend

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Can't wait for the leaves to change colors!

Poor blog, you are neglected aren't you? I have been really uninspired lately. I cannot string words together to make a sensible paragraph that people would read and understand, hence the weeklong silence.

However, I know I owe you a post so here goes.

I had a busy weekend, interesting really. It was my birthday last Saturday and here's how I spent the weekend.

Got woken up by phone call from in-laws overseas calling to greet me a very happy birthday - they never fail to remember important dates, am so blessed.

Left the house about 11 am and had breakfast/brunch date at Waffle Stop, the one I like to have breakfast at. I've taken my mother to eat here over the years and only last Saturday did I realized that the name of the restaurant was Waffle Stop. You know what I thought its name was all these years? Country Waffles. Duh! The sign says Waffle Stop, Country Cooking. So apparently I mixed up the sign and came up with my own name for the restaurant.

Like always I ordered 2 sunnyside up eggs, a side of hash browns, and wheat toast. My husband went for the omelette. He couldn't finish his order so we had a little to-go box. I knew I could finish that food I ordered. It's the same one I get each time I eat breakfast here. And the same quality of food they serve each time. Plus I simply like the fact that they have the same crew/servers for like forever. I like it when people who do their jobs wonderfully keep their jobs.

It was nearly 12 noon when we got to the church. I had to go there because Sunday was my day to dress the altar and we dress the altar on Saturday for the Sunday service. However, there was something going on inside the church. I had to wait for them to finish; they finish at 12, thankfully.

Then another problem, I misplaced my key to the sacristy. Thankfully, my fellow altar guild member Marguerite was at church meeting with some people about finances (she's also our bookkeeper) so she opened all the doors for me :)

It wasn't a meditative time for me this time, cleaning up the altar and preparing all the items needed for the service because there were a lot of people still loitering about the church.

But I managed to complete the task in the least amount of time.

And then we drove to the city for a little visit to the Farmers Market. We encountered a little jam on the roadway since the Giants are at home, plus it's always traffic in the weekend around here anyway.

We arrived at the Alemany Farmers Market nearly 1 pm and the whole place is starting to shut down. We knew that! But the good thing about coming during this time is that many of the veggies have lower prices so we snag what we need at a discount, which satisfied our budget-conscious pockets.

Lunch was next in the itinerary. From the Farmers Market we drove to the Mission District. I love driving around the city, so many things to enjoy, the architecture, the restaurants that we passed by, the people going about their daily life.

We easily found the place, and luck of all luck, we had snagged a street parking. Of course street parking cost an arm and a leg, but still we got parking :)

Esperpento was the site of my birthday lunch with hubby. We both have dreamt of eating there since we heard of it from Check Please Bay Area, a local show about dining about town. It's a Spanish/Tapas restaurant. When we entered the place (it's a 2-storey), I easily felt at ease. I loved the cool ambiance and the casual atmosphere. Walls were decorated in Spanish plates and posters and there is a clock on the wall showing Spain time.

When we got there there were four other tables that were occupied, the rest were empty, but this was a small restaurant to begin with. It was past 2 when we sat down and read the menu. I love tapas or small plates. It's like having only appetizers. That's what I love. I'm not an entree kind of diner. Give me appetizers and I'm all set and happy.

We first ordered a sangria for moi and Barcelona beer for hubby and we got some tapas:

Gambas ala Plancha - grilled jumbo shrimp
Cazuela de Pescado con Almejas - snapper and clams cooked in spanish sauce
Patatas Bravas - spicy potatoes
Escalivada - roasted eggplant, peppers, and onions
Jamon Serranon - canape of Spanish cured ham on toasted French bread with tomato and olive oil
Estofado de Conejo - rabbit stew

We also ordered a side of rice, which we never touched, it's sitting in our refrigerator right now.

Small plates can easily fill you up, it did us. The gambas were good, but the ones we tasted in Barcelona were superb. The snapper and clams in tomato sauce was wonderful as well. We sopped up the liquid with the free bread they give. The patatas bravas was excellent, I love the spicy aioli. The roasted eggplant was yummy too. The rabbit - well I'm going to say it, it really did taste like chicken. If I didn't know I'd say I was eating chicken. The canape was likewise very good.

Overall, this was a good meal. I would be coming back here if I find myself in this neighborhood someday. Plus all those food and chocolate mousse for desserts and the drinks only came to about $50.

We had to take some home on a to-go box. I was not hungry when we came in, but believe me I ate more than I needed that day.

We left the restaurant and put more coins in the parking meter, left the food in the car, and walked around Mission. Walking around Mission is wonderful, it's like a different place. I felt I was transported to a Hispanic town, it's no longer San Francisco here. It's Mexico, it's Honduras, it's El Salvador. This is a vibrant neighborhood, restaurants next to each other. We walked several blocks for an hour and spotted 2 of the restaurants we wanted to eat at. Now we know where they are located.

In our itinerary for the day, we also included a little sunset watch on the waterfront, but the day was windy and cloudy and very cold I didn't think there was sun all day and I reckoned no sunset to speak of either.

So we went to Chinatown instead. We walked some more in search for a wind breaker. My husband was shopping, I thought it was for him. It was for me for our upcoming trip. I don't need a windbreaker, I'd rather get those cheap ponchos for when it rains.

On the walk back to the car, I found myself in need of a bathroom. You know Chinatown, there isn't any public bathrooms. You have to be a customer. Since we were stuffed still we didn't go to any restaurant, but we passed by a bar and so we ordered a Chinese Mai Tai and I got to use the facilities :) and enjoyed a wonderful libation.

After we crossed the bridge, hubby asked if I wanted some desserts, like the chocolate mousse at the restaurant didn't happen, so I said yes. WE both had this little bakery in Solano Ave in the city of Albany in mind. We got us a little breakfast bun and a slice of brownie. That was worth the drive.

Sunday was church and I got to feed the church members as it was also my day to host coffee hour.

After church, my mom took me and hubby to have some Chinese lunch at this little known place in El Cerrito. Mostly Chinese come here. On Sunday, I saw an African-American couple, us, and a white guy. The rest were Chinese. The food is wonderful, my mom loves it here. We had 5 different dishes, so there were to-go boxes too. But the minute we left the restaurant I started to have a little stomach gas pain. My husband wasn't feeling so well either. Too much MSG probably.

We went to drop mom off then off we went to buy some tools, power tools :) and then it was time for COWBOYS AND ALIENS. If you haven't seen this movie, I suggest you go and see it. It's a well made movie with outstanding cinematography.

The bad part about the weekend? I didn't get to blog at all :(




Friday, July 29, 2011

Street Photography #10

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Have nothing to say really, except that July is ending and with that I feel like Christmas would be here sooner than any of us expected or wanted.

And with that sobering thought in mind, I come to reflect on how the summer has gone for me so far. It hasn't really made an impact to me yet. I don't expect it to. Every year I ride the summer months hoping I'd get over it without being too hot and uncomfortable. I know not a good way to see summer.

But summer hasn't really been my favorite season. It's the time when I'd rather be cooped up in the office working those long daylight hours and come home with some light still to do some gardening or just swing the remaining daylight away in my backyard swing.

I have no travel plans this summer. The local beaches would still be cold in the summer time - they are cold all year long. This is California, but not Southern California where the people are on the beach year round.

I've been watching a lot of Netflix lately. However, I am outraged that Netflix decided to raise the price. Currently I have a combo of streaming and one dvd. Last night I changed my setting and I opted to forego the streaming option, since we hardly use that anyway.

I have 6 movies on my queue that I must see before I finally decide whether I'd keep the subscription or simply put it on hold. In the past we always keep it on hold when we go away for vacation or when we get too busy to watch dvds at night.

Well, it's another Friday and I have no plans for the weekend. Wait, I have one. It's not a happy plan, but I am set to go to Alemany Farmers Market in Daly City, which I believe is the oldest and largest in the bay area. I am craving for some Filipino dish. We haven't had any Pinoy food on the table for over a month. It's time I have some munggo and bittermelon.

Have a lovely weekend.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Defeating The Dark Lord and Conquering the Rapids

I went and saw.  I cried and cried. Inside the cinema.  Mostly because the story had concluded or at the time I was shedding tears, the story was reaching its climax.  It's sad when one thing comes to an end - even a joyful conclusion couldn't take the bitterness out of the fact that well there is no more.

However, the movie was indeed quite something.  How long was it?  I heard 3 hours.  It felt like 30 minutes to me.  The minutes flew by and when the credits were rolling I was like, that was it? 

I could have gone for more.  Still, the producers made one of the best Potter films here.  I wonder though if like LOTR this film would take in incredible amount of trophy at the Oscars.  What do you think?  Will the powers that be in the industry look kindly to the Potter series and see what well made films they were?  Or how successful they were and how incredible the story telling was? Or will they dismiss them as simply blockbuster movies aimed at kids? 

Needless to say I loved the movie.  There were minor things in the film that I would have loved to see expounded or further explored, but not having read any books I don't know if they were further explored in the book and shortened on the movie.  Those were minor. 

That was my Saturday. 

And here's how my Sunday went.  I mentioned in the previous post, which is a week ago that we were going to do some white water rafting.  We did.

We met at 7 am at my hubby's worksite, which is 2 minutes drive from home.  We swung by Starbucks first and bumped into one of the guys there also picking up some caffeine treat.

The decision was made to carpool.  Five people in our car and 7 on the SUV.  Twelve people in all.  When my husband was making reservations for this trip they were told that they have to have groups of 6 as 6 per raft is required.  More people wanted to go but not enough to complete 18.

The drive to Gold Country - the place were gold was found and mined in the 1800s here in California - took about 2 hours of scenic pastoral countryside.  We brought sandwiches, but apparently the people in the backseat all had breakfast.  It was a quick drive it seemed.

We arrived at the camp and was surprised to find that camping is allowed here.  The place was teeming with people. It seemed like a crowded Sunday on the river, but the air was festive, all buzzing with excitement.

Chunk - that's his name - approached us and told us to chill for a bit since the trip would commence at 10 am.  He pointed towards the direction of the river and said we could check it out while we wait instead of milling about our cars.

And so we did and found that there were tents up along the banks.  The water however was pretty chilly.  We were all looking at each other fearing it might be too cold if we found ourselves on the water instead of on the raft later.

The guys opened up some cold ones and decided to enjoy a can of brew before starting with the trip.  Then Chunk came around and told us to go to a spot where the life vests and helmets are located and that we should go and get ready for the trip.

There was mandatory talk and instructions given by Chunk.  He is the leader of this group.  It is a huge trip.  A lot of rafts went out that day. 

Anyway, we were shuttled to upriver by what look like prison bus. I was the first to notice it and then someone from our group said the same thing. 

About 15 minutes later, we were pulling up inside a park, like a regional park.  This was our launching station.  Chunk got in the bus and told us to use the facilities since there would be none along the river route. 

Back in the camp we were grouped into 7 and not 6 as we were previously told via phone.  Since the SUV contained 7 people they were boat 1.  There were 5 of us and we needed 2 more.  Luckily there was a couple that signed up for the trip without a group so we absorbed them.  Here lies some misunderstanding via phone registration.  Anyway, the couple, Jennifer and Neal were cool and easily blended with the group.

We were assigned to Derrick, blond, cute, hunky and dreadlocks.  He was also the funnest guide EVER!

The first two hours of rafting was like testing the waters.  There weren't any rapids in this part of the river.  We were simply rolling on the river on a lazy Sunday with temps in the 90s and the water below us was at most I'd say 60 F.  We played games while we were floating.  He would ask one to stand up and balance himself on the side of the raft ala Karate Kid.  We played more games.  He would push people randomly into the water to "cool off" he says.  All in good fun.  Our raft was always noisy full of laughter.

Then we stop for lunch.  Lunch consisted of burgers, chips, and fruits.  The guides prepared them.  There was a camp kitchen and all the guides manned different posts and started grilling and fixing lunch.  The burgers tasted really good in this environment.

Away from the water, we could feel the temperature had really risen.  Our skin burned where the sun kissed it.  It was up in the 90s for sure.  Luckily for me, it was dry heat.   The way I like my hot weather.

Our afternoon ride commenced soon after lunch was served.  This is the part of the trip where we would be conquering some rapids, the Satan Cesspool, the Hospital Bar, and one more that I can't remember now.

While we were rolling onto some smooth river water, our guide continued to give us some tips on what to do.  We would practice them on his cue so the next time it would come up we would know.

Just like this morning's ride, there was lots of water fights between boats.  In the morning run we were catching up with boat 1 where our friends are and would splash water onto them.  I drank lots of river water because I was in the line of fire whenever another boat would splash us with water.  There were lots of rafts on this day.  One contained many kids and they play splash with us.  The other guides would abduct people from one raft onto theirs.  It's called piracy, or pirating here.  What fun.  The kids on the other hand would yell at our raft and say, TAKE ME!.  We took 2 kids and kept them for a while.

Now to the rapids.  Well, they were more manageable than I ever imagined.  They were big, but not big as I've feared.  Probably because this was a run for beginners as well as experienced rafters.  With all the kids in this trip, I'm sure they wouldn't allow them if this run was dangerous, right?

Anyway, 2 of our friends were thrown out of their boat when they shot the rapids.  We all laughed at how they could have done that.  Anyway that is a possiblity.

All in all the day of rafting was fun.  Three rapids and all successfully conquered by us.  We have pictures to support this claim. 

However, I had the fright of my life when Derrick suggested we play another game that afternoon.  All of us would rise up and stand around the boat and lean back as far as possible.  The object is to fall back into the river with the raft floating empty and we'll all go swim back to the raft.

There is one hitch. I don't swim.  My husband doesn't swim.  Sokny doesn't swim.  The minute I landed on the water I panicked.  Water was coming into my mouth but surprisingly I was floating, just like Derrick said.  The vests are designed to make you float.  And then my husband reached up and grabbed my hand and hand in hand we floated on the river on our backs and from that position I could see our group starting to go into the raft.  We floated quite a bit and then when the raft came close to us we got pulled up into the raft.  That was scary but fun as well.  The cold water took away the 90-degree heat.

That was one heck of a trip. 

Later back in the camp with our dry clothes on, the people on the other boat told us that we were the party boat.  We were continously laughing and having fun and our guide was very cool and super fun, unlike theirs who only lecture about the river :)

Before heading back to the Bay Area, we stopped to get some brew and chow at a local dive next to the photo place where we could order our shots.  I'll show this adventure on my photo blog one of these days.

All in all it was one heck of a weekend.