Thursday, June 30, 2011

America, America

The upcoming Fourth of July is reminding me once again that I haven't celebrated any Philippine Independence Day celebrations for a long time.  Not because there isn't any celebrations going around in my neck of the woods, it just doesn't figure in my TO DO list anymore.  Usually the celebrations are in San Fran and would require entrance fee.  It would also mean crowded streets and parking woes.  I just didn't want to be bothered, that's all.

Sometimes I question my patriotism.  How does one manifest this virtue?  Do I have to subscribe to TFC to get the latest news about my motherland? 

My case is different from others.  First and foremost with the exception of a nephew and his family, I don't have any "family" left back home.  I do have cousins and nieces and nephews and I guess a few aunts and uncles as well, but they are extended family and we were never very close to begin with.

So I don't have to fill a balikbayan box and send it to someone.  I don't have to skype anyone for news or to share problems with. 

As a matter of fact, as far as I know, when I moved here years ago, I packed in my luggage everything that was important to me - letters, photos, mementos.  I had a feeling when I was leaving that there was no turning back. Mostly because I was the "last one" to move here.

For the most part, I like my life here in America.  My family is here and my job is here.  I seriously wonder if I could ever get a good-paying job back home.  I had a job when I left for America, not financially satisfying but in many many ways very rewarding.

I adored my co-workers - they are lovely human beings.  The nature of my job wasn't boring nor extremely challenging, and the students were endlessly entertaining.   It made me realize that this part of the job is what caused many teachers to forget about themselves and end up being spinsters.  Nope I wasn't a teacher.

What I missed back home are my friends - my high school friends, college pals, co-workers, and neighbors/childhood friends.  That's what is seriously lacking in my life right now, connection to these friends. 

Anyway, I have fully embraced all that America has offered me.  I don't know if I'm living the American life,  but my cupboard is filled with international delights, not just American.

I most especially enjoy the beauty that is California. Looking out in the bay everyday is a joyful thing. 

Just like any other posts, I started with a goal and ended up somewhere far from the goal.  I need to take writing classes, seriously!

Happy Fourth of July America!

Monday, June 27, 2011

It's Over!

Finally the long-awaited church fundraiser is over. It was held last Saturday from 6:30 to 9:00 pm.

No more planning meetings, no more editing, no more researching. It's over! A sigh of relief was released in unison.

The truth is it appeared to have been a success. Why did I say that without certainty? It's because the monies were not tallied yet as of this writing, but seeing the people's happy faces that Saturday night, it was a powerful community bonding event.

I have never felt like a part of this community despite living here for 18 years until I joined this church.

Anyway I was on cashiering duty that night. We had silent auction in addition to all the chocolate tasting. When the tables close the items on the tables will be moved to us. There were two ladies arranging the items in the back and they send it to us when the winners come to claim their items.

I was a monster at using the credit card machine. Kidding. I got trained 30 minutes before opening on how to use the credit card machine. I swiped and swiped the cards. It's fun not to be using my own card to swipe.

However, we bid on a pair of Thomas Kincaid paintings, which we won. All in all it was a fun evening. I had a great time. I even managed to abandon my shyness and engage people in animated conversation about our community. Can you imagine me chatting easily with people? Must be God helping me overcome my shyness.

So what's next? Summer is still here despite the weather cooling off a bit. It's the perfect summer weather if you'd ask me.

Since we were busy with church all weekend, I didn't do any chores and next weekend is a long weekend, but I'm gonna be taking it easy. I'll have an outpatient surgery on Friday and was advised on my preop to take it easy all through the weekend. So I'll probably get a little movie marathon going and cuddling with my cats.

BTW, I watched ECLIPSE again the other day and do you agree with me Twilight fanatics that those three main characters can't act?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Prayers

altar flowers

My friend's husband passed away on Father's Day. I read her post on FB. I have been feeling sad and low since I read her post. My heart sank. If you see the photos of their family on FB you knew they were at the peak of their life. Two teenage kids, a girl and a boy, and the lovely couple who look more like in their 20s than in their 40s.

A couple months ago, I think, she commented on her sister's wall that her husband is back home after bouts of chemo. I immediately sent her a note that I'd pray for her husband's recovery.

It happened so soon from where I am. I don't know what happened, how long the battle with the big C had been. But I'm just sad.

Today, I read her post asking for more prayers in the following months as she is feeling his absence every single day :(

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Time

It's the first day of summer around these parts and it's hot. So fitting I think. Today makes me want to reminisce some summer pasts.

Growing up, summer meant:
  • long daylight hours make for longer play time
  • waiting for the dirty ice cream vendor @ 4 pm
  • running after the fishball vendor
  • waking up to my mother's yakking about how late the hours is and how high the sun has been
  • carrying mom's basket while she goes marketing
  • shatung, patintero, tumbang preso
  • Cathecism
  • excursion to the beach
  • annual pilgrimmage to Our Lady of Manaoag
  • Holy Week services + procession in hot conditions
We didn't go anywhere when I was growing up.  We had to endure the heat and "boringness" of the 2 months at home.  No one in my neighborhood went away for vacation either.  Everyone was home helping out with chores and after lunch we all play at Peia's yard. They have a big yard and it has no plants in it.  It was perfect for playing. We could play sports there, like soccer or baseball if we wanted to or knew how to. 

They have a big gigantic acacia tree in front of the house with large trunk that could shield us from the sun's rays.  It was perfect. 

I cannot believe how nostalgic I am of that acacia tree now that I started to write this. I hope it's still there. I know Peia and family moved out since they didn't own the land. 

I've spent many summers in my family's home, which btw has suffered major damage during the quake of 91 or 90?  And it's begging to be taken down/demolished.  It will be soon.  Out of the many summers, one could easily stand out. It was the summer where either I was finished with Grade 5 or Grade 6, that part I couldn't remember.

But it was the summer where almost all the neighborhood kids banded together, girls and boys, and played.  We never all played before nor after that summer.  So that was what made that summer special.

I remember we played shatung a lot. I was masterful at that game.  We also played patientero.  And when the summer was ending, I organized a disco at my front yard.  Could you believe that?  It was a spur of the moment decision.

I sprung the request to my mom at around 3 pm and by 5 pm we have the stereo playing loud music and kids dancing in our yard.  We had no food but we danced the evening away.  I still remember my verve at asking permission for this boy, about 4 years my junior, from his sister because his folks were not in the house at that time. I can't recall why I have to since I know this boy stays out later than the 5 pm party time, but I still did.  And the funny thing is his sister is only about 4 years older than I am!

Another thing that I remember about that day was my friend's mom came to the yard and asked my mom what was the party about?  And my mom told her the kids wanted to dance :)

We sure did dance the summer away!

Monday, June 20, 2011

I Get More Than A Footlong When I Go to Subway

Every time I go to Subway to get a footlong I leave the store with much more than a footlong. My town's Subway restaurant is owned by an Indian family. There are two elderly Indian women who man the store. Let's call them Morning auntie and Afternoon auntie. Both of them have a tough time communicating in English but they get by.

A long time ago I came in with my husband. My husband looks like Indian; he isn't. But the fact that his features are so similar to the Indians made them sort of adopt him as their own. In the process I got sorta adopted too as some distant relatives.

Therefore whenever I come in I get asked personal questions. And when they found out a while back that we are still childless and have been working hard at getting a child, they give me symphathy, unsolicited advice, and concern.

Sometimes I am not as patient with them, but I never show any irritation. After all I find their interest quite comforting. It feels like being home in the Philippines where elderly members of the neighborhood/community take part in one's life. Nope I really don't consider it being nosy. It's the way it is - the Asian way.

Today (I am writing this Saturday) my husband and I swung by Subway to get something for dinner when the afternoon auntie chatted him for over 20 minutes. On the drive home my husband told me what they talked about, they were speaking in Hindi. She told him how she was in the same position that I am right now. It took her long to get pregnant, while her friends were all pregnant and having babies. She felt lonely, alone, and I'm guessing useless. That is why she doesn't like seeing people who are struggling to have a baby. Now I understand her concern and it's not just being nosy.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Food Craving Friday

spinach dip

I'm supposed to have a Food Craving Wednesday, but I only remembered it today.

I am a bit saddened that the little restaurant next to the cinema is closed. It was a combo of restaurant and sports bar and it has a rocking happy hour 7 days a week. My favorite during happy hour is this chips and spinach dip. The price is right at $3 and the portion is just enough. Plus it's really good. Now where am I going to get my spinach dip?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fashion Sense

When I was little growing up in a farming community right smack in the middle of Central Luzon, there was very little fashion statements to be found.  It was after all before the age of internet and text and cell phones.  The time when only 4 or 5 tv stations are operating and when you live outside of Luzon, you'd get your shows delayed by days.

Knowing that you'd know that there is no way to be exposed to fashion at that age.  My mother always wears a bandana to cover her hair when we take public transportation.  Riding in jeepneys or buses can ruin your hair you know.  I always associated bandana as an accessory for old people.  But I liked it. I liked having my head covered.

Fast forward to many years later and here I am living just outside San Francisco and having all sorts of fashion statements in my face and I still have no fashion sense.  What remained however is my fascination for bandana or head coverings.  I still don't use them; I have a few in my closet but I use them to cover my shoulders. 

So I am happy to be around Indians because their culture calls for this accessory. I sometimes wear it when I am with them.

Do you like bandanas, hair coverings?
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School uniforms with the sash/orno they call it in Bangladesh.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Heavy As Those Clouds

june 1 to 4 2011 016

I have a heavy heart.  My pet parakeet died on Saturday.  He suffered.  He got bit by Emma, my lovely and well-behaved cat.  I was torn.

Emma had always been quiet, well-mannered (for a cat), and did no shenanigans around the house.  So it was a total shock to me to learn she was the one who bit the bird.  I don't want to expound on this. 

Let's just say that cats know what you're feeling.  They can sense your emotions.  She knew I was upset.  That she was partly to blame. 

She became very aloof all weekend.  Didn't cuddle with me except during sleep time at night.  And when I went to get her, she even went under the bed. 

Anyway, it was really sad. I know it's only a pet, only a bird.  But you get used to them, they become part of your life, your family.  And when one is gone, it just isn't the same.

We got 2 parakeets in his place.  I don't know why we did that.  Just in case, the one left behind will never be alone, I guess.

In an unrelated news, I had a lovely impromptu lunch at Jollibee with my mom and my two bros.  It was such a surprise thing that came together without a plan.  I love having lunch with my bros and mom.  Plus I get to eat spaghetti.  Wasn't I telling you about the spaghetti craving last week?  Well, after I had the Jollibee I didn't even bother to make it at home.  That lunch satisfied my craving.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thursday Shorts

Today's short hops of ideas:

  • The new season of Search for the Next Food Network Star began on Sunday, June 5.  Early favorite turned out to be Pinay native Orchid.
  • Had headache as I came home from work, so what I did to distract myself  after dinner was to vacuum the whole house, up and down.  Got rewarded with cheesecake by hubby afterwards.
  • All week of sun, so different from all the rainy days we've been having prior to Monday.
  • Launched blog for EMMA AND BUSTER.  So far well received by the kitty community. 
  • Need to replace water heater.  Some costly undertaking.
  • Always hungry lately and stomach wants real food all the time like stuffed bell peppers with mashed potatoes.  Oh wait that's what's for lunch at the cafeteria today.
  • I'm craving for some pad thai.
  • And grown-up version of mac and cheese.
  • Don't forget some spaghetti and meatballs.
  • I have to make spaghetti and meatballs this weekend.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Chick Flick, Man Flick and other Highlights

I finally managed to find time to finish EAT, PRAY, LOVE this weekend. I started it some days ago, but wasn't able to finish the whole movie until this weekend.  I don't get  how this movie did not connect with me.  I am a sucker for chick flick and any Julia Robert movie.  But this one, nothing.  Did nothing to me.  Why? 

Sure the cinematography was excellent, who wouldn't want to visit those three lovely locales.  But the story did not touch me one bit. I was disappointed.  Talking with a fellow church member this Sunday I mentioned to her how the movie did not connect with me and that I should try reading the book and see how it would affect me.  She liked the book, have not seen the movie, but while she liked the book she wasn't sure what's all the hoopla was all about.  Anyone would care to comment?

Oh I broke my rule of not going to the movies on a film's first weekend run.  Yap, guilty!  And what movie made me break this rule?  X-MEN: FIRST CLASS.  Now this movie on the other hand is 100% entertainment.  I loved everything about it.  I enjoyed watching the cast.  I enjoyed learning what they were before they become who they are.  I always enjoyed the prequels, you know.  I am always curious as to what made the characters the way they are.  And not a follower of comic books, I have no knowledge of who these characters are outside of what they tell me on the movies.  It was a good, good way to while the time away on a cold rainy weekend.

In addition to these movies, I finally created a blog for my little furbabies, BUSTER AND EMMA, which means that you'd see less of them here and more of my ramblings from now on. 

Another thing that made my weekend was that I was able to upload on Flickr video clips. Yay!  For the longest time I was barred (by my firewall? my browser?) from uploading video clips to Flickr and/or You Tube.  I didn't try You Tube yet because I was busy uploading on Flickr. I didn't want to jinx it.  Needless to say I went crazy and because it was rainy all Saturday, I had all the time in the world to be online doing all these uploading.  See Buster and Emma for a sampling of what I uploaded.

Still don't know why I was able to upload. My husband guessed some updated version of something. I didn't care to know as long as I was able to do what I wanted to do :)

And yet another good news.  Have you heard of YELP? Go ahead click it!  Basically it's a website where ordinary (and extraordinary) people go to review restaurants, hotels, doctors, etc etc. 

Okay so here's the good news about YELP.  I am a member, which means I have created a user name and persona and have reviewed something.  YELP is holding a little shindig - with food and drinks and entertainment.  See poster below and here is the link to the party.  I better put this on my calender lest I forget it. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Page From My Journal

January - February 2011 Mexican Riviera Cruise

It seemed a little odd to me to be taking the Mexican Riviera Cruise after I had already taken the Mediterranean Cruise a year and a half ago [the Mexican Riviera is a sort of entry-level cruise destination]. But the need for a vacation, a time away from our busy schedules, one that would be easy to organize and easy to take arose. And because we already made a deposit previously in another cruise and the fact that the pricing for this cruise was within our budget, we opted to sign up for this one.

I did some cursory online research on the 3 ports of call - Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta, and jotted down some sights I wanted to see. No activities were penciled in as this was to be a lazy holiday - nothing to do week. Little did I know I could have done zip lining and parasailing.

I cannot remember our drive from home to the long-term parking lot near the airport or the shuttle ride to SFO. However, I do remember how disappointed I was upon entering the plane, a Jet Blue. I could not shake off my anxiety as I was already afraid of flying and now to fly in a small plane??? But my husband assured me that the flight to Long Beach would only take an hour. That is so much better than driving there for about 8 hours.

To my amazement, it was a smooth flight, including the take off and landing. I took a few peeks out the window and the sun was out bright. And 55 minutes later we were landing in Long Beach.

It took us another 20 minutes from the airport to port of Long Beach where we would be embarking on a 7-day cruise of the Mexican Riviera. Where was the traffic that SoCal was so infamous for? Must be the time of day or must be because it was a Saturday??? I wouldn't know, but I was glad that there wasn't any delay to the port.

We were dropped off curbside and I noticed that it was crowded. There were three ships, and one of them is Queen Elizabeth, one of the fancy schmancy cruises where you have to be garbed in a Gucci or something (my impression). Our little NCL ship sat next to this humongous vessel and there was a line snaking in to the building. I asked if this was the line to the NCL and was told that was it. I parked my luggage next to me and snapped some shots. I found myself getting a tad irritated at this long line (which always gets my goat no matter where the line is). Not helping my surly mood is the fact that I have been nursing a two-day old cough and sore throat and I sounded like froggy. My husband left my side to investigate what's the hold up. He returned without an answer. The line was thankfully moving, at a snail's pace. However, he found that we could send our luggage in ahead of us and they will be delivered to our rooms. That's a good thing not to be pulling and pushing heavy luggage while trying to take pictures :)

Eventually, we found ourselves inside this huge hangar-like building that serves as the arrival/departure point of the cruises, NCL for this one.

We were given a stub with a number on it upon clearing the x-ray machines and were told to sit and wait for our numbers to be called. People were hungry and tired from standing on the line for too long and we were all crabby. I could not see one relaxed face inside that hangar - well except for the hubs.

Our number was finally called and we presented ourselves at the mmigration officer where we presented all the necessary papers. When we were handed our number we were also given a medical waiver kind of document where you click a box that says you are sick or not. Something of that sort.

And crabby me I click yes on the box that says I have cough. I wasn't allowed to get through. Instead I was taken to a makeshift room a few feet away from the desks and was told to wait for the doctor. BTW, I was told by the officer that almost NO ONE checks yes on this document, but today, I was the second to say YES. My hubs although irritated at my stupidity said nothing, but gave me a hug and said things will be alright. When I was sitting inside that makeshift room, I realized what I'd done. I could potentially be barred from going on board. Our vacation was at jeopardy and we both really needed a little time to get away to soothe my frayed nerves :)

It was at this time that my husband saw concern and panic wash over my face and I got another hug. It was at this time that a security officer came into the room and handed me a walkie talkie. The doc was on the other end of the line and wanted to speak to me. I answered her questions truthfully and when she asked if I had fever or having chills, I replied no and that must have convinced her to let me go.

When I was cleared we were both ushered into the elevator next to the room. WE didn't need to make that long walk to the other side of the hangar and take the escalator or elevator upstairs.

We quickly made it to on board, gotten into our room and rapidly descended to the restaurant to get something to eat. It was hours since my last meal and it was nearing 2 pm and all I had was coffee I believed.

The Romanian waitress that served us was very cheerful, made me laugh and forget about my irritation at all the delays in embarkation. It was through her that we found out the reason behind the delay. If people in the front told passengers up front there wouldn't be too much frustration now, would there?

So it began when the ship was coming in to dock at the port in the morning. They couldn't because of heavy fog. They were waiting for the fog to clear out. That delayed them over two hours. That 2-hour delay trickled down to delay to disembark passengers, delay to restock supplies, etc etc etc up to delay to allow new passengers, i.e. us, to embark - the domino effect. Isn't that easy to announce that there is delay caused by fog. Who would get mad at a fog, at nature?

We made it through all the required activities - like the part where they show you how to respond to emergency in case one arises, etc. The following day was a sea day and Cabo San Lucas was the first port of call.

***Will be blogging about the ports of call in my photo blog.***