Monday, December 30, 2013

This is how the cookie crumbled in 2013

So it's that time of the year again. As the door closes it's door on the old year; another door opens to welcome the new year. Thus, it's time to take note of how the cookie crumbled this year for me.

First sake tasting ever (will probably not repeat since I'm not fond of sake.)

Read The Alchemist by Paul Coelho, Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan, the first 3 books of the Twilight Series

Seen with my own eyes the TERRACOTTA WARRIORS and THE GIRL WITH THE PEARL EARRING.

Spent anniversary weekend in Mendocino.

Camped with friends in Cabin 4 1/2 in the Sierras.

Visited Sequioa National Park.

Visited Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden.

Went for invitro fertilization (IVF) procedure in Mexico - was unsuccessful. Broke my heart and spirit.

Suffered from vertigo the first half of the year that almost disappeared in the second half - thank heavens!

Celebrated my birthday in Isla Mujeres, Mexico by touring the island and visiting the turtle sanctuary.

The Bay Bridge has a new eastern span.

First time to eat at an Indonesian restaurant.

Movies I've seen this year include: Oblivion, Taken 2, Solitary Man, Catching Fire, Before Midnight, White House Down, Gravity, Breaking Dawn 2, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Epic, Abduction, Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi, Magic Mike, The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey.

I'll try to reflect on the highlights and low lights of this year and create a post later on.

Happy New Year!!!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Off The Cuff

Did you know my childhood did not include a Santa Claus? Nope I did not know him until I probably was 11 years old and I only knew of him because he graced the Christmas cards that we were to exchange with our classmates. By the time I got to know the "existence" of the bearded one, I was too old to believe. After all, he was supposed to know where every child was at Christmas eve and drop off presents at their homes. So for the past 11 years, I did not get any presents and so I was never going to believe anyway. I didn't get presents for Christmas. None of my neighbors and playmates did either. All we got is new dress and shoes (hopefully) for church service.

I am trying to remember a memorable Christmas for me. I cannot. There didn't seem any one that tower above the rest.

First off my entire childhood was kind of weird. I think it is. We lived in one compound, our house was in the front. Behind ours is my oldest brother's house where he and his family lived. And bringing up the rear is brother #3's house where he and his family lived. So we were together all the time. My playmates were my nieces and nephews.

My father was ill when I was born. My mother said he was already ill when I was conceived, which accounted for my sickly childhood. He contracted tuberculosis in the army. He battled the disease for a long time until his death when I was 17 years old.

So my father's health was always in the back of my mother's mind. We never traveled, because he was not healthy enough to do that. He was homebound, not bed bound thank heavens. But he was always sick. Thankfully, none of us had contracted tuberculosis, considering it's a communicable disease.

Thus Christmas was a simple affair. I thought my mother's poor upbringing did not allow her to experience any kind of Christmas. To her the pinnacle of Christmas celebration is to have a potful of steamy hot nilagang baka (boiled beef soup), a leg of ham cooked in 7-up, and a queso de bola (gouda). Sometimes, just to make the celebration go overboard, a bowl of fruit salad is on the table. Other times, it's spaghetti.

All these food on the table gave everyone a big smile and made our hearts sing, not to mention or stomachs very happy.

And so there was nothing pretty special about our celebrations. We did not decorate our house except for a parol. We did not have a Christmas tree until the very last Christmas before I left for California. I don't know where we got it, but I decorated a table top green fake Christmas tree and wore that dreadful pink lace eyelet straight dress (that I thought then was sooo elegant) at church, that made me look 20 years older than I was. I really don't have fashion sense even then.

Now that we're all here in California, each decorate his/her house and we follow the American tradition. We gather at one sibling's house for Christmas lunch, which is in reality a whole day's affair. It's potluck so the host doesn't get that much burdened. This year it's my year to host. I have my menu all written down. The hubby had made minor adjustments, especially to the dishes he would create.

I know someday there's one Christmas that will stand out, but for now, I am really happy with the simple way we celebrate Christmas. Then and now, we always, always go to church on Christmas Eve before all the eating can commence.

Happy Christmas everybody!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Crazy Cat Lady post

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Crazy cat lady and kitties napping during one of my sick days off.

Please I beg your indulgence in this purely selfish, crazy post.

It's about what happened in the bed last night. Did I hit your curious nerve there?

Aha, this is not R-rated, if you must know. It's actually sorta Disney-esque kind of post.

It's about my furbaby Buster. I've been yakking here about Emma sleeping on my legs or in between them almost nightly (except when it's hot). Buster on the other hand has claimed under the bed as his kingdom. That was the first place we went to when we got him from the shelter and so we put his catbed there. Now his catbed is gone, he doesn't like to sleep on it anymore, instead preferring the dusty carpet floor, or if he surfaces from under the bed would sleep in the computer chair also in the same room.

Well the night started as usual. Emma in between my legs, Catpapa next to me snoring. As I was trying to catch my sleep I heard a noise. I knew Buster jumped onto the bed and before I knew it he's next to me. He does this sometimes, asking for head rubs, neck and ear scritches. If I'm not awake, he would head butt my palm, and instinctually I would do as he asks in my half awake state.

Last night I was fully awake. It's been my habit to have a pillow on one side while the hubby sleeps on the other side. It feels more comfy and warmer that way.

So Buster proceeded to beg for head rubs and scritches, which I willingly gave. Then his motor started running, he's a big purr machine that one. As he purred and purred while I rubbed and rubbed, he started to make himself comfy on top of the pillow.

And my last waking memory is that of my hand draped around Buster's body, while his sleeping face was inches away from mine.

We slept cuddling. He was so sweet to allow this moment and experience with me.

Yap I admit, I am certifiably a crazy cat lady.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A week before Christmas

A week to go before Christmas and I find my energy level for the Holidays a bit down. Likewise my enthusiasm meter shows it's way down. I don't know what happens to me during this time of the year. I cannot seem to summon up enough energy, enough excitement, the same eagerness I once had for this holiday.

As our family had been doing for a few years now, what with the original nieces and nephews all grown and some have little kiddies of their own, we now only buy one present with a set price (usually $10) that would hopefully be gender neutral which we would number and then we'd pick out a number and we'd get the present with the corresponding number (like a white elephant thingy). Now if you pick the one you brought, you could pick another number. This way we can all cut down the cost of Christmas. Our family is big, and if we continued doing what we were doing before (buying each and everyone a present) well, it's crazy expensive. And completely unnecessary expenses, I might add. We all agreed that the adults (which now outnumber the kids) don't actually need anything, don't require presents at Christmas. So we all only buy one present, however, all the kids under 12 still get presents from everyone. After all Christmas presents are for kiddies, right?

That being said, trips to the stores/mall have been curtailed in half, or even less, especially since we almost always pick something up from the store all year round, or hit the buy button on websites for deals we see.

Be that as it may, I still found myself at the stores this weekend, the horror! I was slated to pick up some clothes for moi. I don't normally shop much for clothes except that I had budgeted some money for clothes from my vacation fund. I had found some pants, work pants, that I kinda like, but when I saw the long line at the cashier, I didn't hesitate to leave them behind and march out of the store. Long lines and shopping chaos give me headache.

Also this weekend, our 2nd annual project for the homeless in the city went underway. On Saturday we filled Christmas sacks filled with goodies from toiletries to food and bible. The evening also consisted of dinner and caroling. A fun time. Sunday was when the gift sacks were distributed; however, we didn't go with the group to distribute. We had other things to do.

We had a heavy heart all weekend long, helping friends with relationship woes. It's really hard to keep a relationship going. It's true love is not enough to keep it going. So many little things required for a partnership to bloom and thrive and grow, things like respect, compassion, romance, trust, etc. It's hard when you are friends with both of them. It would be easier if you are friends with just one of them, then your focus and support is with the friend. The hubby and I were on call and we've been fielding calls all weekend long. I pray that they can find a solution that is right for both of them. It makes me sad to see a relationship crumble, especially when you don't see the crack forming right before your very eyes. You only become aware there's trouble when the whole darn building collapses. That's what happened here. The hubs and I look at each other in disbelief. We had NO clue at all.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Well.....

Me: Do you have proof of this accusation?

Him: No

Her: He has no proof because it's not true.

Me to Him: If it were true, can you overlook it? Can you move past it? Is this a deal breaker?

Me to Her: If this were true, can you move past it? Can you go on without this baggage and whatever it is that drove you to make this mistake? Can you both keep on living together without looking back at this time in your relationship?

~ This is why I didn't pursue counseling. I suck at it. Plus I take it personally and too seriously.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Award, Weather, Movies

The supremely talented PRINSESA'S ANATOMY has bestowed upon me another blog award. Well to be precise the award went to my meme blog, FRANKLY MY DEAR. However, since I have been using that solely for memes, I thought I'd acknowledge the humbling honor that she passed on to me.

Muchas gracias mi amiga!

And now to the talking points for this post:

WEATHER:

It's silly that I'm even talking about it, considering the impact that bad weather had on other people all over the globe. The terrible snowstorm that's happening on the other side of the USA for example; or that deadly typhoon in the Philippines a month ago. Yet, it's been cold here. Freezing. Over the weekend, I don't think the temps have reached 50 F. It's cold! I'm worried about the outdoor cats in our neighborhood. My hubby has put out boxes in the yard in case cats want to get out of the elements and hang inside the box. Also we had that rainy day that downed a lot of water, then raced out of here like an unlicensed sidewalk vendor at the sight of a policeman.

And as crazy as it may sound, last evening we hang lights in the backyard, in freezing cold temp. Hubs said we've been postponing this task for weeks now (we've been truly busy), it was now (yesterday) or never. So we dressed warmly (or so we thought) and went to proceed with the task at hand. Needless to say I was shivering the whole time and my fingers froze even though I had gloves on. My jeans were no match for the biting cold. Well at least my body burned a lot of calories trying to warm me up.

MOVIES:

I've been very lucky with movies lately, both on Netflix, cinema, or on tv. I saw this old movie on tv that featured Michael Douglas called Solitary Man. I liked it a lot.

Then on Netflix I've seen Oblivion, which is good too. This one's with Tom Cruise. Have I told you that Tom Cruise rubs me the wrong way, so as long as I can help it, I don't see his movies in the theater and wait for the dvd if I ever was going to see it? But this one's a good one.

Also on Netflix I saw Taken 2, sequel to Taken of course. Maggie Grace is a 30-year old actress who can play a teenager, good for her. I think there is a part 3 to this the way the story went. A special bonus for me in this movie is its location. It was sorta travelogue for Istanbul, a bit, and I like it.

What else did I see on Netflix? Lemme think.....Oh I've seen Argo. What an excellent movie, no wonder it was the talk of the town at last award season. If you haven't seen this, go rent it.

Finally, I got to see CATCHING FIRE, which I thoroughly enjoyed every second of the movie. I am beginning to like Jennifer Lawrence after seeing Silver Linings Playbook (also courtesy of Netflix) and this second installment of Hunger Games series. I don't know what the ending of the movies is since I haven't read any of the books, but I hope that Katniss ends up with Gale. You know why I hope that? I've got a miniscule crush on the actor playing Gale, Liam Hemsworth. So happy he's no longer with that Cyrus girl.

That's all for now.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

These Pretties Make Me Happy

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Hope you find your pretty that makes you happy.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Now That Thanksgiving is Over


Now that Thanksgiving is over, bring on Christmas!

But before that, let me tell you how Thanksgiving went. I took an extra day, Wednesday, so that I had a 5-day holiday, what fun, isn't it?

Spent the Wednesday tidying up the house, vacuum, sweeping, mopping, dusting, all the works. Each time there's an occasion I vow to regularly do a clean up like 2x a month just so the house is always "clean" and when big days come there's only a little bit of dusting or sweeping slash vacuuming to do; instead of this half-day affair. BUT it never happens. The other half of the day was spent chopping and slicing. I was tired.

Thankfully on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, there was very little thing to do. The turkey would go at the very last hour since we were deep frying it. Nope it is good deep fried. It's not our first time to do this. The skin is crispy, but the meat is super juicy. A crowd favorite.

The mashed potatoes were done the day before; just like the roasted veggies. Since we were deep frying the turkey we decided to do french fries and sweet potato fries.

We had 8 guests; not one is family, at least not by blood. Our family doesn't do a thanksgiving as a clan; we wait for Christmas to do that.

The toughest part of the preparation is not the cooking nor the cleaning; it's the digging up the boxes in the garage to find where the good china is. I wasn't going to serve dinner and use Dixie. In the same vein finding the good utensils was equally hard. Take it from me, mark your boxes accurately when packing for moving.

Anyway, we found the good set. We know that there's two sets because I bought two of them. However I could only find one set. It's a set of 8, good right since I have 8 guests. But that means we have to find something for me, the hubs and my mom to use. Long story short we found a way to complete our table setting.

Friday we stayed in bed till around 12 noon. I was dog tired from yesterday. When the party ended the clean up began and we didn't get into bed until way after midnight.

Initially planned on watching CATCHING FIRE; but when we eventually finished cleaning up from the party (putting back the china et. al.) it was an hour or so before the showing. We hit two stores just browsing. By the time we were driving to the cinema we noticed that the parking lot was so full we drove away and abandoned our plan of watching a movie.

On Saturday our friends took us to a seafood/sushi buffet. I know, more food, so soon after Thanksgiving. I don't know what's going on here.

Then we all went to Costco for a little shopping. We managed to get toys for little kids we have on our list.

Sunday we drove to Daly City to go to another seafood/sushi buffet. What's going on in here?

In recap, my five day holiday was more about food and not too much about shopping. Oh and I need a vacation from this one.

Kidding aside.....I am very thankful. I am blessed tremendously, more than I deserved.

Friday, November 22, 2013

It's About The Double Date and The Scenic Route

On Tuesday night the dinner with another couple finally happened. I honestly didn't think it would happen. Each time we bump into the couple we make cursory attempts at getting together. Anyway, it's nice. We spent a good evening with them. Except that they are so into PDA (public display of attention). So touchy, so feely-feely. One can easily tell they're not married, by the way they are pawing each other in public. :)

It's nice that we chose the Pear Street Bistro in downtown Pinole, not only for its proximity to both couple's homes (although the other couple's guy lives in another county), but also because I've been wanting to eat there. Apparently of the four of us, I'm the only first-timer in that restaurant that night. Pity that we didn't really explore the menu. Maybe next time I'll find another chance to eat here. For one the ambiance is suitably relaxing. The wait staff is there when you need them and invisible when you don't.

This week I've taken the "scenic route" to work. It's a lot longer in terms of miles but with the congestion in the freeways (the downside of living in the Bay Area) I have not choice. This route cuts through the hills and the road is flanked by trees, whose leaves are a-changing. It's curvy and rural.

At the end of the scenic drive I arrive just outside of Caldecott Tunnel in Berkeley and only a few miles/minutes away from my workplace in Oakland.

Taking this road is beneficial to my emotional health. Driving here is the opposite of taking the freeway that's always stop and go and most of the time is at stop. When I take this route, it feels like I'm on a roadtrip. This Tuesday I drove here and the weather was gloomy and gray. The fog floats on the top of the trees with the hills behind it. So pretty. On the part where it's curvy the fall leaves are in full display, I was so happy to be driving to work.

Speaking of commute to work; today happens to be one of most horrible Friday commute I've had in a while. I have taken the scenic route but was delayed significantly by a fender bender near the junction to 580.

I think I need a rootbeer float as a reward for enduring daily stressful commute to work. Happy weekend.

Monday, November 18, 2013

This and That

It has been a busy few days. And I don't mean physically busy. I don't mean application of elbow grease. Just busy. Things around me are busy.

This weekend my aunt from Texas passed on. I found out on facebook. My relationship with that part of my family is sustained by facebook. It's sad I know but before facebook we hardly had any relationship at all. So yes, facebook made it better to communicate with relatives. When I told my mother, she said, "Oh no, we can't go right? Apparently all day Sunday her mind was filled with thoughts of this aunt and her husband, my uncle, my dad's younger brother. I think the spirit of my aunt was visiting my mom.

The news about possible turkey shortage spurred the hubs and I to run to the grocery store yesterday and grab a turkey before they run out. Funny I know. But it's better safe than sorry. The fact that we only have turkey once a year on Turkey Day makes the availability of the fowl on our table on that day much more important. I remember one year for Thanksgiving as we were shopping for turkey we saw a lot of goose. Every grocery store carried so many frozen goose that year. Since we were having turkey for thanksgiving we decided that we'd have goose for New Year's instead, ham was for Christmas. And so when we got back to the grocery stores after Christmas for goose, there were no more goose to be found. We drove around for goose but no goose. Since then, we vowed to buy something when we find it just to be on the safe side. However, we never attempted to serve goose after that failure.

There is another park in Pinole! I mean a park that I like to walk and bbq at. It's mind boggling how one can live in one place for decades and still find something new. I'll be back here bbqing in late spring through summer. It's a lovely spot and there's a walking trail that is perpendicular to the Pinole Creek. We weren't ready to walk the length of it but the trail from the park will definitely lead to the shopping center where there's Five Guys Burger and Jamba Juice, not to mention Chipotle and Peet's Coffee. Will take that walking trail another season.

I had a wonderful day yesterday. I made dinner plans for Tuesday with another couple, and the hubs and I went to dinner at friends' house. We got invited when the male friend mentioned he was making paella. His paella was excellent. He really has talent in the kitchen, I suppose that's why my hubs and him getting along so well. They both love to cook. I promised to have them for dinner someday (they've been to the house for 49ers watch party and bbq) where I'll have them sample Filipino cuisine.

I'm exerting immense patience by not putting up the Christmas tree before Thanksgiving. I think I'm going to fail, because I really want it up by next week. What do you think, early tree up okay?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Kitties, Before Midnight

I'm going crazy. Batshit crazy. Over kitties.

I started to dream about them. In my dream, I'm feeding them. In my backyard and even at my friend's backyard. What is wrong with me?

Or is there?

In other news, I recently watched BEFORE MIDNIGHT, which is the third installment of the Before movie series (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset). The main attraction for me in the movie is its witty dialog. Like its two predecessors, this movie is filled with talking. Real talking about relationship, about feelings. If you are a fan of the movies, you'll know why this is a home run for me. If not, I don't know how to convert you.

I watched it with the hubby. He was a bit dejected. Okay maybe dejected is not the right word here. Let's say disappointed at my choice of movie via Netflix, but he stuck around the whole time. Well he got nowhere else to go, plus he was also reading the papers at the same time.

However, he was really fascinated by the screenplay. He seemed to relate to the characters and I laughed at the same places he did. We both pointed fingers at each other and saw that relationship are the same everywhere.

I just love the relatability of the characters. To me it doesn't feel like I'm watching a movie. It feels like I'm privy to real people's lives. The actors, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy (I heart her a lot.) are so good at being natural. Hats off. I hope there's a fourth installment.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Random

Life at random captured forever.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Another Week Later

I had a horrible dream yesterday. It's almost a nightmare. I woke up (twas 5 am according to the clock on my bedside table) with my heart racing and I was feeling very very hot. The former is attributed to the almost nightmare, but the latter was because I was buried under a blanket, a quilt, and a throw and two cats. Both cats were snoozing on top of my legs and feet. The throw is our futile attempt to have a hair-free quilt. Except that the cats when we're not in the bed like to burrow under the throw and sleep on the quilt. I don't know why we keep the throw, but it's still there. Minimizing the amount of hair that goes on the quilt.

I finally got around to eating Vietnamese food yesterday. You'd think I was pregnant by the rabid craving I have for this Vietnamese dish (vermicelli bun - like pho without the broth). And I only want to eat it at this little hole in the wall, no frills Vietnamese-Cambodian restaurant. Glad hubs wanted to eat as well.

And speaking of Cambodian, a Cambodian couple mistook me for another Cambodian. Now I've been mistaken for a Thai, Indonesian and now Cambodian. Without a doubt I definitely have Asian features.

And also we have finally cleaned out the other half of the garage. It's not completely clear and clean, but there is more leg room in there. We need more shelving and hooks to hang the bikes and the ladders.

I'm also seriously considering putting up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. Our neighbors already have lights up, not lit just yet, but up just the same.

In addition, I have completed my Twilight Saga books. This weekend I found ECLIPSE at a Goodwill Store. We dropped off some donations and then stayed for a little browsing. Got some items including a kitty mug set and the Eclipse copy for $2.99. So I started to read it. But too many things got in the way this four-day weekend that I haven't gotten past the first chapter yet.

One more thing I think I've forgotten to mention in the past posts, I baked scones. They were good. However, there were some errors in execution, so I'll try again. My niece came and tasted the cookies while I was out and when I got back and she was still there, she knew they were scones. So this is definitely very encouraging results. I shall try again.

In the same night while I was busy making scones, the hubby's project was home-made Mexican tamales). Oh they were good, a tad dry but they were good.

Until next week (kidding).

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

One Week Later


So one week after the last post, I'm still struggling to write a post. I've got something to talk about but somehow drafting it takes a lot of energy on my part.

Some days, writing comes easily. Other days, like lately, it's like pulling teeth.

Despite this obstacle, I'm finding so many little things that make me happy. I choose to be happy.

Costco's rotisserie chicken makes me so very happy. It's so good I have to snack on it on the drive home.

Another happy occasion happened when I finally got to see BREAKING DAWN Part 2. I'm so pathetic. A woman of my age should not be watching these kinds of films; but I suppose it's the romantic bone in my body that make me crave these chick flicks.

In addition, my kitties continue to make me happy. I love watching them sleep. I love playing with them. Buster has gotten to be very vocal and we engage in full blown conversations. I don't care if you call me crazy cat lady, but Buster and I understand
each other.

Hopefully I will find the inspiration to write more, because first and foremost it makes me happy.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Daily October

Ooops...

Yikes...

Oh noes....

Yap I did it again. I was unable to sustain every day blogging. Why do I even try.

This recent violation saw me missed 5 blogging days in a row. I don't know what happened. Well that's not true. I knew what happened to some of the days, but the first 2 days I cannot remember what prevented me from blogging.

Since my senile brain is unable to recall Thursday and Friday, let me tell you what a hectic but wonderful day Saturday was.

It was my dad's birthday and although he had passed on 3 decades ago, we still remember him. This time around though through the insistence of mom we got together at home to pray, except that mom said she already prayed the novena 9 days before dad's birthday. So we ended up just hanging together for lunch at a Chinese buffet.

I was so happy to be hanging out with my brothers - all 4 of them - all at the same time. There was good food too. Too much for that matter.

When lunch was over we drove back home and chatted at the backyard and they started catching up. Funny how our lives are so busy that we need times like this to catch up with one's family. The irony of it all is that we all live within a 10-mile radius of each other, well maybe 7 miles.

I hated to cut my time with brothers short but we had to head out for church for the monthly night out. We were feeding about 30 people who signed up for our DINNER AND A MOVIE night. We played THE LIFE OF PI and our menu was pie-ta chips with hummus, pie-na colada, and shepherd's pie with apple pie for dessert. Another fun night with people.

Sunday was nice. With another couple we drove to Napa for some leaf peeping. Fall is not at peak yet, but there was plenty of colors to be seen. We enjoyed the outing.

I was off Monday again, you know too much vacay time that it is imperative I take time off. I ran errands with mom and then spent a good chunk of the afternoon editing photos. By evening when hubby got home from work, we went to get cat food and his costume at Party City.

They say Halloween is a 7 billion industry and I saw how. Party City was jampacked with people getting their costumes. I lost my hubby more than once. His group at work decided they were to dress as SMURFS. We were hunting for Smurf hat and blue paint. I found the paint, but no hat. There wasn't anything SMURFS related on the shelves, such a shame. When we saw the long line to the cashier we abandoned the body paint and left for home hungry.

It's madness, people going overboard for Halloween.

I told the hubs maybe one year we'll host a cocktail Halloween party so we all could dress up.

So that's what's been happening in my absence here. Feel bad that I didn't complete this daily blogging exercise.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Daily October (23)

A PAGE FROM MY JOURNAL

Day 5

Arenal Volcano

We arose from a restful sleep in our spacious hotel room and ran outside in our backyard where we caught a glimpse of the fickle peak of the volcano. The view was clear one minute and the next it was cloud-covered.

Our free breakfast buffet was lovely with meat dish, rice and beans, fried yucca and with an omelet station. The table carrying fresh fruits, watermelon, strawberries, papaya, pineapple and melon was always full. I could definitely get used to this.

On our first breakfast, the next table to us was occupied by a couple from Oklahoma whom we exchanged pleasantries and information with while we ate. They have nothing in mind to do this day so we told them why not go to the waterfalls. There is one in La Fortuna. They hiked on the volcano perimeter the day before already.

The servers at the restaurant were friendly. Kaylor was our server and he was very chatty. When I told him I’d take his photo for Facebook he willingly posed.

We met our tour mates, the couple from Baltimore, at the reception area where we asked the desk guy to ring us a cab. Our plan of action was to go to the town center of La Fortuna and look around. Every next door is a tour agent so we could easily shop around for whatever activity fancied us that day.

We were dropped off the side of the plaza facing the church. We stopped by the church first and took a few photos then walked around the town center. Boy was it hot. We pretended to shop for souvenirs while our hubs inquired at the cost of various activities. There was butterfly garden, kayaking, ziplining, and other activities aside from the tour of the volcano. Upon research prior to trip we found out that going to the volcano was doable, no need for a guided tour. Besides guided tour would cost nearly $100 pax. We weren’t keen on paying that.

Taxis are assigned a spot, so it’s easy to find them. They are in line too so you go get the first one. Lucky for us we got a good one. William is his name and he was our driver for the day. We asked him to take us to the volcano. Wasn’t far, but the road was not paved, it was like riding in a bumper car. Upon inquiry he said they have to change tires every 2 months because of bad roads, but the gov’t subsidizes this – he reasoned must be cheaper for govt to do this than to pave all the roads. He ended that with a sheepish grin. We were here for an authentic Costa Rican adventure and that is what we’re getting, including the bumpy gravel and dirt roads.

We paid our entrance fee and he drove up until the parking area. Then we asked him if he could pick us up after 2 hours and take us to the waterfalls. He agreed. And not only did he agree he didn’t want to get paid until the end of the day. We jotted down the mileage. I cannot remember if we were paying by miles, but we were tracking the mileage. What an honest guy, isn’t he? We are foreigners and he trusted us. He doesn’t even know where we stay. We could have easily turned around and called for another cab you know.

Anyway, with maps of the park in our hand we look at the best trails/path to take while here. We tried to take one in between tall grasses that are similar to sugarcane. But we abandoned the trail since it wasn’t going to lead us to the volcano overlook. I’m not sure this is the way to go closer to the volcano. Because by the looks of it and by the brochure I was holding I could tell that the volcano was farther than the 2 km that the longest path on the brochure indicated. There are, however, tours that would take you hiking up the side of the volcano, although I think that’s quite risky. We weren’t really looking for that much adventure you know.

We found where the path leading to the overlook. While it wasn’t long and difficult, it was on a slope uphill. Shame on me, I was breathless!

We arrived at the overlook with plenty of time. It’s a covered spot ontop of a small hill with benches. Another family was already there. They look locals to us.

It’s wasn’t long before we realized that we gave ourselves too much time to spend here. Two hours was definitely way too long to admire the volcano from this spot, no matter how beautiful it is. There wasn’t anything else to do other than go back down and take any one of the trails, which we weren’t keen on doing since it was very hot and the sky was turning dark, impending rain was visible.

The Baltimore guy took a nap in one of the benches, my hubs went around photographing flora especially the variety of ferns that grow here and us girls we snacked on some Indian munchies that Baltimore gal brought.

We took photos then decided we’d walk back to the entrance to ask the guy manning the booth to call William as we’re ready to go. Along the way, we passed by guava fruit scattered all over the ground. We looked up and lining the trail are guava trees. We helped ourselves with the juicy fruit. We picked from the tree and ate some for our lunch. So delicious.

There is a little hut with covered porch area across from the ticket booth and we stayed there when the guy said he has no phone for us to use. Left without recourse, we waited by the porch for the time we gave William to come.

William showed up on time and by this time the drizzle has been ongoing for about 15 minutes. We asked him to take us to La Fortuna waterfalls. I read somewhere that this was the same waterfalls they used in the opening of the movie Jurassic Park. Remember the scene?

Also we asked if he could take us for a quick stop at a local market, I have been craving for some passion fruit – maracuya. He stopped at a nondescript one story building with a small opening/door. I was expecting an airy open-air farmer’s market type of setting, but probably due to weather, extreme heat and constant rain, they decided to put a roof over their market.

This one’s very small - just for snacks and fruits and veggies. I didn’t see any seafood or meat products. We bought some rambutan and passion fruit and tamales. Our Baltimore friends have never tasted this but has seen them once or twice before.

Off we went. Again we requested him to fetch us at a certain time. This time around the entrance to the waterfalls was open for another hour. You can stay as long as you want but no more entry after another hour.

The rain continued to come down, although mildly this time. We stopped at the lookout point. From that vantage point the waterfalls was clearly seen, except that we wanted to descend and see it up close.

The descent was manageable. The humidity was bogging me down, and the rain was adding a little misery to my already petulant demeanor. Honestly people I cannot fathom why I was kvetching.

The second we reached the bottom, we immediately peeled our clothes off, we were wearing our bathing suit underneath. The water was cold. Did I mention that there was thunder? Lucky for me there wasn’t any lighting, that would have completely get me cowering under all the trees. We spent a few moments taking photos and dipping our toes and legs in the water, cold did I say?

The rain wasn’t letting up, it was alternating between mild drizzle and a moderately heavy downpour. It was also starting to get dark and misty when we were down by the river so we thought we’d wrap up our time here in this gorgeous waterfalls.

Moreover William would soon be out in the parking lot waiting for us. Now this was the most difficult part of this entire trip – the climb up. Huffing and puffing, I struggled to clamber back up. Despite all my huffing and puffing and all the constant stops, we managed to complete this task – all of 500 steps some say – in 30-40 minutes.

As expected our friend William was waiting in the parking lot. The rain got heavier as we reached the top where the souvenir store and entrance is. We let the heavy downpour pass for some minutes, but it wasn’t really letting up. So we decided to just go and get wet. We had one umbrella.

We asked William to take us back into town for one more round of window shopping and possibly eating. We haven’t had anything but some fruits in the falls and chips by the volcano. And breakfast was long time ago. It was nearing dinner time.

We asked him to take us to the soda he goes to. It was across from a supermarket. Again he only dropped us at the soda and he was going to meet us at the taxi stand by a certain time.

Still drizzling we were not sure if we wanted to eat right away. So we crossed the street and snooped at what’s in the supermarket. We found a variety chips – potato, yuca, and other root veggies in one package. We bought 2 packages. The store has an ongoing sale on ground coffee beans, Costa Rican coffee, so we filled our shopping cart with it – pasalubongs for people back home.

Well the rain was nonstop as we looked around at other souvenir and knick knack stores. Finally we decided to just take some food home since the rain wasn’t going to let us have a moonlit stroll around the plaza. The server at the soda was very friendly. She noticed that my husband and our friends are Indians (hubs is not, but well) so she boldly shared how her daughter is currently backpacking in India – Goa – and how the daughter couldn’t handle the spices in Indian cuisine. We seemed to talk forever as she, Dona Flora, got more brazen. Our little Spanish and her almost nonexistent English went a distance with sharing one anecdote after another.

We hurried to the taxi stand carrying our dinner. Initially we thought we’d all go back to the hotel and meet at the pool so we can take a little dip at the jacuzzi. However, on the ride to the hotel we all realized we were very tired and didn’t want to soak in the jacuzzi under the constant rain. So we said until next morning.

We turned on the jacuzzi in our little back porch – each room has this feature – and enjoyed a little warm soak while enjoying our Costa Rican dinner. Then it was off to bed, our last night here in Arenal.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Daily October (22)

I'm a few pages away from finishing New Moon, the second of 4 Twilight books. I don't know about the reviews for this book or the movie for that matter, but the fact that I'm tackling these books long after all the hullaballoo is quite lunatic on my part.

However, there was something about the Twilight movie that made me long to read the books. I like it when a story is narrated/seen from the protagonist's point of view.

The thing I liked about the first book is that it's an easy read. I liked the pacing of the story on the first two books.

In the movies I belonged to team Edward. But when I read New Moon, I couldn't help but switch sides to team Jacob. In the books Jacob was written so appealingly. In the books I never liked the Edward character. But I liked him in the movie version.

Anyway I am enjoying the story so much that I read the two books in 3 days, well almost done with the second one, which is a record. Well at least now that's a record. I used to devour books a long time ago. However, I do not have the 3rd book Eclipse, which may delay my reading the whole saga. I don't want to skip a book; I'll see if there's a copy of Eclipse in the library.

In between these books I read Sidney Sheldon. I'm trying to read Sheldo again because I want to analyze what it is about his stories, his writings, his characters that resonated with me and appealed so much to my sensibilities.

I remember in college or something we would read his book and put the characters under microscope and identify all the psychological fibers/abnormalities of their persona. It was a fun activity to do after reading the books. Of course we were all psychology majors pretending to know more than we do. I hope this time around after reading the books I can dissect the characters better than I did back in the day and that I can understand the reasons behind why the characters do the things they do or why they did in such a way and not another way.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Daily October (21)


Something wonderful and unexpected happened today. Like last Monday I was home again today, on account of overflowing vacation accrual. Woke up midday since it was my day off anyway. Made a quick brekkie and hurried off to the dealership to get my car serviced. You know since last Monday I was sent away due to overflowing work load. Luckily this time around my guy Fernando was happy to accommodate me. The job would require at least 1.5 hours. I didn't expect it to be that long. 30 minutes tops was all I thought it would take. That was why I brought a book.

When I learned it would take 3x longer, I took the free shuttle back home. Instead of wait there and read a book, I would rather finish up the load of laundry.

When the shuttle stopped at the curve, I saw a familiar shape in my drive way. Fuzzy! Or who I thought was Fuzzy!

I jumped out of the shuttle and started for the cat. Once upon a time - or a year or so ago - there were little kittens that came to the house. In the backyard every night two of them came for feeding. One gray and one black. Both of them with long fuzzy hair. They came regularly. The gray one was skittish. The black one was tame. She would go inside the house and socialize with Buster. We named the gray Grayce (very original right) and the black Fuzzy, for the hair.

I don't know how long they regularly visit, but while Grayce continued without fail to come, Fuzzy disappeared for about 2 weeks or more. When she returned her ear was clipped, which is a sign that she got fixed and that she/he is being cared for.

When she returned from her temporary disappearance, she went back to her normal self. I got my nightly visits, she allowed me to pet her. I enjoyed her nightly date with me. I toyed with the idea of keeping her, but I was overruled by the hubby. His reasons were valid. Emma wasn't keen on adding another cat to the family. She is barely tolerating Buster on most days. And Buster is simply a jealous cat. He doesn't like it when the hubby touches another cat; sometimes he voices his disapproval and unhappines even when the hubby is petting Emma.

I just couldn't risk getting Emma depressed. It's not only wrong but costly as well.

Besides we tried to shut the door when Fuzzy was inside, she freaked out. She didn't want to be inside the house without a visible way out. We only wanted indoor cats; Fuzzy was definitely not an indoor cat only.

Then one day suddenly she disappeared. One day. Two days. One week. Two weeks. A month. Then two. I stopped counting altogether. For months, well even up to now, every night we go to the backyard and call her name. We do in the hope that she would be running to get food. Just like before.

My fear was that she was run over. I keep my eyes peeled for roadkill; thankfully no cat resembling Fuzzy. Well no cat at all, period.

And then today.

There was a cat in my front yard, she looked like she recognized me. I called out Fuzzy, she ran towards the neighbor's yard, I followed. She kept looking at me, I kept calling her name.

From a distance I swear I could identify the clipped ear. I was so happy. However, she does not recognize me fully. Will not come to me when I called, but I was relieved that she is alive, all these months. Then she went inside the yard of the neighbor's two houses from me. She was this close all this time. Just two houses down.

I'll start putting food in my front yard for my baby, Fuzzy. I hope it's you sweetie.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Daily October (20)


I've been reading. I finished Twilight. I think I like to do it like this. Watch the movie version first then read the book.

Then I followed it up with a Sidney Sheldon book, The Stars Shine Down. I've loved Sidney Sheldon and devoured his books in college - decades ago - and I'm enjoying rereading them. I've got three more of his books pending.

Oh the leaves are changing colors. I love to go out and photograph the leaves, maybe next weekend. Later today I have to take the kitties to get their shots.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Daily October (19)

"You must take time to grieve. It is after all a lost. You must admit it to yourself that you lost something. That way you can grieve. It is only in giving yourself time to grieve that you can move on."

"There could be no such thing as a fastrack to moving on; there is no shortcut. Take your time. Be kind to yourself and let yourself be sad. When you're done, then you can move on."

Those were the wise words that were given to me as an advice by someone who's been there before. She walked in the same shoes I was walking on, not once, not twice, but three times. I listened to her, heeded the advice because I know that she knew what is in my heart. She was able to give names to feelings that I couldn't identify. It's a blessing to have people like that in one's life.

Lately I've been thinking about all the people that come in and out of our lives. Some come in and nourish us, others come in our lives because we happen to be the nourishment they needed.

In the past 2 years or so, I've been nourished by the cats that come in my backyard. My belief is strong that each one of us has specific roles in this world. I think I just found mine. I'm here where I am right now because the cats need someone to look after them; someone to feed them; someone to keep them safe.

One day we arrived from running errands and as soon as I entered the family room/kitchen I noticed four kitties standing in the backyard on the other side of the glass door looking in. It was dinner time, or just about. The minute the older cat saw my face, they meowed. I couldn't hear it because the door was closed, but all their mouths moved in unison. I have never felt been more needed than that moment.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Daily October (18)

October is a crazy time. It's no longer summer but the temperature has not gone down significantly from summer. It's the period of quiet before the storm (of Holiday activities).

I'm getting antsy. Bored. But I don't blame October for that.

My feet wants to go place. My camera longs to photograph something new.

I need a breather from the routine.

I need a trip.

Even a road trip.

Happy weekend everyone. I must go check where I can go for a short break soon. I need it.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Daily October (16)

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Today is the 3rd anniversary of Buster's adoption day. Here we both were in this picture a week after his adoption, we were already bonding.

We love you Buster.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Daily October (15)

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This is how I feel today :(

Monday, October 14, 2013

Daily October (14)


As I was writing yesterday's post, hubby was taking a nap with the kitties, a common sighting on Sundays we decide to stay in. Nothing was unusual with that. When they awoke I was reading Twilight, he played red dot (laser) with Buster then we fixed dinner.

After dinner we all went upstairs in the bedroom instead of hanging out in the family room. I went straight to the computer desk to edit some photos. He went straight to bed and we watched some of the tv shows we follow. Later I noted that he was all curled up in bed. And he was shivering. I sprang out from the chair and was on his side quickly. I felt his forehead and he was burning up. Holy cow! Hubs had a fever. He told me he already took some pills but didn't kick in. He asked for Nyquil cold and flu and I gave him 2 pills. He took them and then I put a cold compress on his forehead. He slept while I kept watch, at the same time I caugth up with my recorded shows - Revenge and The Good Wife. When I felt his temp was going down I slept.

Woke up to find him only a little lukewarm. Went to fix him breakfast in bed, then I went out to run errands with mom. We both took a day off today prior to him having a fever.

Upon my return he was out of bed, dressed in his sweats and was ready to drive me to get my car's oil changed.

At the dealership, Fernando my man in service, was just telling another customer he can't take her car today because they were full. I could see the line of cars to service. I spoke briefly with Fernando and tried to sweet talk him into taking my car, but I knew when to push it and when to pull back. This was time to pull back.

Then the hubby proclaimed: Let's see a movie today. I hear Gravity is really good.

I looked at him quizzically and he smiled, "You always complained I'm not spontaneous!"

Gravity's showing is scheduled at 4:45 pm.

We had time to grab lunch. Subway footlong for that. We parked in the cinema parking lot and split a footlong. I ate my sandwich while reading Twilight.

Gravity is a wonderful movie. Sandra Bullock is fabulous. It's very rare to have a movie with only 2 characters and they make the movie work. Kudos!

Hurried home to fix dinner. Was thinking of proper dinner, but I wasn't too hungry and just like him I was feeling fluish. Plus we have burger buns (homemade) thawing. So dinner tonite was burger and zinfandel, perfect combination. Only ate the bread around my burger and left all the meat on my plate.

I just let you in on my offline life.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Daily October (13)


It's only 4:48 pm but I feel like I've had a full day. And I've only done two things today. Go to lunch with friends and go to the local library's book sale.

At the book sale I managed to get all three (only 3 right?) Twilight books, about 5 Sidney Sheldon hardcovers - I've read them all back in college. Since he is my fave author so far, I thought I'd start collecting his books and maybe someday I'd be able to complete the collection. I simply love the way he tells a story.

I've started reading Twilight and just stopped so I could blog, hahahaha!

And all these books - plus others that my hubby picked - for $1.00. I'm so happy!!!!!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Daily October (12)


I almost forgot to post today. It's nearly 10:30 pm now and both Emma and Buster (my cats) are already in dreamland for quite sometime.

The weather has been chilly for a couple of days now. So it's so much more enjoyable to sleep early.

Hubby is scouring the net for place to have brunch with friends tomorrow. If he'd listen to me I already have one in mind. I really like this place for it's scone and lemon curd.

Wish that's where we go tomorrow.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Daily October (11)

I just want to share a few shots from a bouquet I received a while back. I dug the photos and uploaded them on Flik'r last night. I thought they look pretty.

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Enjoy your weekend. I'll make sure no cleaning for me this weekend. Had enough of that last time.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Daily October (10)

Overheard:

"The last time I had FUN, I couldn't walk for two days."

Me:

Whoa, I never had that kind of FUN in my life!!!!!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Daily October (9)

I was a little depressed yesterday after realizing that the year is almost over and I hardly went anywhere this year, even though I have cleared my required/mandatory 1 big trip + 1-2 small (read: California)trips for the year.

Yes, that's how we structure our annual vacations. We have to have one big trip and up to 2 small ones. To be considered a big trip, it must be at least one week and must take a plane, domestic or otherwise.

Small trips are generally your run-of-the-mill overnighters in the coast or two-nighters up to 250 miles from home.

My big trip for the year was an 2-week sea and sand in Cancun. The two small trips are a 2-night camping trip in the Sierra Nevada and a 2-night Mendocino get-away. While all these are satisfying, I seem to want more. So greedy of me, I know.

Thankfully, yesterday as I opened my email I got this notification that via Travelzoo, Southwest Airlines is offering a too-good-of-a-deal-to-pass-up trip to Vegas, 3 nights including air for $129.00. Yap, that's about the same price we paid for the same package we took in 2009. 4 years later the same package is available.

So without delay hubs and I went online and bought the deal, although from the dates that were available we chose the first week of February next year to go to Vegas. I figure in February all the chaos of the holiday season has died down and life should be running quietly then.

The promise of a good time in Vegas perked me up. I've got a little hop to my step today.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Daily October (8)

A PAGE FROM MY JOURNAL

Day 4

Excitedly the hubs arrived from his early morning trip to the beach with the gang to tell me all about his wonderful experience. Today is our last day here. We’re spending a couple more hours before we depart for our next leg of the tour.

We sat at breakfast table with the same group of people we dine with here. The German couple have their plans mapped out courtesy of our antiquated laptop, remember? They are excited to spend the remaining days of their Costa Rican adventure just lounging by the beach.

The rest of us will head on to Arenal, home of the famous volcano of the same name.

Breakfast was where we said goodbyes to other guests we became buddies with during our short stay in this lodge. We exchanged emails and facebook pages, etc. I was a bit sad, especially separating from the German couple. They were very nice and found out were mostly like us in many ways.

After breakfast, hubs and I took a walk around the perimeter, one last time. It’s so relaxing being surrounded by nature in this setting. While I was looking forward to seeing our next adventure, I was sad at the same time at leaving all this behind. We both wished we could spend more time here.

At the dock, we were sorted into 2 boats. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the same Spanish-English speaking grouping. So we got separated from our German friends. Sad to see that happen. They went off first, then it was us, all 7 of us with a boat full of people.

This time the ride was not narrated, unlike when we were coming here from San Jose. I enjoyed seeing the familiar places now, the birds and the butterflies and the trees and the grazing cows, water from the canals splashing into my face and arms.

We arrived at the restaurant where we would be waiting for our tour bus to take us back to El Ceibo restaurant where on day 2 we had our second breakfast, remember?

When the buses arrived we were sorted again. And the ride back was faster than the one we took to get to Tortuguero.

A lunch buffet spread was awaiting us. Unfortunately, by the time we got in the El Ceibo in Guapiles, our German friends were no longer there. They are traveling on their own and I suppose only the ones in travel packages get to have lunch. They probably caught their bus to their next destination. Here we managed to say another goodbye to the same people we said goodbye to at breakfast time in Pachira Lodge. We don’t know where they were going. Some of them were heading in the same destination but taking a different transportation.

We took a van that carries about 8-9 people, just perfect for us. Cozy. The ride to Arenal took about 4 hours from Guapiles. We were traveling all day. The passing scenery was not all agricultural lands, we passed by many small towns. The long ride gave me a chance to indulge in wool gathering while enjoying the scenes outside my window. We even stop in a small restaurant/bar where our driver had something to eat.

It was pouring when we got near Arenal, we expected it. It is rainy season afterall. We just got lucky in Tortuguero, that was the exception, not the rule in this trip.

We stopped by a tour office and inquired about tours around the area. Nothing jumped at us and we thought we could easily do the tours ourselves without signing up for a guided tour.

The town of La Fortuna bears many resemblance to many small towns in the Philippines. The plaza is the center of the town with the church across it. I could totally live my Philippine lifestyle here, except this one’s full of tourists. Stores surround the perimeter of the plaza/church. It’s that feeling of I have been here, but I know I haven’t that really caught me off guard.

In our group we have a 94-year-old grandma who came to Costa Rica with one mission – to zipline. When she broached this to her son, he and his wife agreed to take her so she can fulfill her wish – another off the bucket list. My husband asked the tour office if they have a zipline where one is not going to climb up the platform but some sort of a gondola ride would take anyone up there. Roberta signed up for ziplining in Tortuguero. Nobody did because apparently the ziplining in Tortuguero is considered weak in comparison with the other areas of Costa Rica. Perfect for her. The problem was she couldn’t handle the climb up to the stairs on the platform. She felt dizzy.

And so when the tour operator said their zipline has a gondola ride to take one up to the platform to zipline, it was like destiny. She signed up for the next day.

Nobody else signed up for any trip; the couple in Baltimore along with us decided we’d make it simple and make this a do-it-yourself tour of the La Fortuna and Arenal.

When our van deposited us at the front of our hotel/lodge – I don’t know how to classify it – we were all impressed. The one-storey building/bungalow style in vivid bright reds and yellows Spanish decorated only housed the reception area. Across it, on a hilly portion is the dining area. I was bugged eyed at how lovely the d├ęcor was and how behind the reception desk was a large window with the view of the volcano, who needs painting when you can have this active volcano decorating the reception area. Needless to say, natural light was aplenty here, except it was cloudy and rainy when we checked in. Two nights here, let’s get it started.

With our luggages in tow, we needed to have the golf cart to take us to our rooms. It’s a little walk uphill, but it was drizzling and dark. Our rooms are sprawled all over the property. Landscaped, paved paths and bungalows housing 2 rooms each dotted the green landscaped area. Our bungalow was the first one from the reception area.

It was about 5 pm and we have nothing to do. The woman from Sacramento suggested we go to Baldi Hot Springs that night and get our hot springs experience over with. No wasting of time here. We all agreed. We agreed to meet at the reception area by 6 pm.

And because we had a plan before our van driver left, we asked if he could pick us up – not part of his job – and drop us to Baldi Hot Springs, not far from our hotel but not walking distance either since our hotel is a little remote, in a hilly portion of Arenal with unpaved muddy roads. He agreed and also agreed to bring us back to the hotel afterwards, for a fee of course.

While the leading hot springs attraction here is Tabacon, we decided it was okay for all of us to go to Baldi instead. They have many spring pools with varying heat levels. The ticket we purchased included a buffet dinner, can you believe that? If we knew, one could easily buy a ticket in the morning, stay all day here soaking in very therapeutic water, then have some eats.

WE sampled different pools testing whether the heat is just right for us. We found a very nice pool with just the right heat and a feature of a waterfall. The waterfall mimics the aquamassage in parlors, have you had one of those? So splendidly good. We didn’t want to leave. We had our meals, buffet style, typical Costa Rican food and a station for pastries and other sweet things. The good thing about this restaurant is men are not allowed to eat without putting their shirt on, but women can walk around and eat with just their bathing suit. We wrapped the towel around our suits, we were prudish.

And then it was time to leave. The driver was already waiting for us outside the hotel/hot springs. We asked if he was available the next day as we thought we’d just hire our transportation and we’d go wherever we wanted to go. But he wasn’t free the next day.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Daily October (7)


I have a headache.

I miss my San Francisco Giants.

I just realized that I only have one trip this 2013 and I already cancelled the one that's supposed to happen this 4th quarter of the year.

I'm grumpy.

I'm cutting down on carbs, that's why.

That's all for now.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Daily October (6)


Today is chores day...

Vacuum, mop, laundry...

Didn't make it to the free museum day in Asian Art Museum...

As a treat for cleaning, I'm giving myself a mani/pedi.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Daily October (5)


Watching the A's-Tigers match, game 2, and it's bottom of the 9th, 0-0.....


The A's just won....walk off hit by Vogt.


Yay!!!!!!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Daily October (4)

Episode 1, Fall Season 2013 Part II

What do you know I have forgotten a few of the shows I follow on the previous post about premier episodes?

So here are the rest of the shows I watch and what I think of their premier episodes:

GREY'S ANATOMY - This would be the 9th or 10th season for this durable show. While they lost me as an avid viewer sometime during the course of its long run, I found myself coming back last year. The thing with GA is that it's like an old neighborhood where you grew up, or the neighborhood where you lived while in college....while there are many changes (new characters), the landmarks (mainstays) are still there. You can easily reconnect with it, with the characters. The 2-hour show held my attention, it was like visiting with old friends. I have a feeling that this might be the last year of the show. Leave while you're still somewhere near the top :)

THE BIG BANG THEORY - Seriously I don't know how I could have forgot to write about this on the previous post about premiers. It has never wavered in the entertainment value; the comedy is terrific. Watching the show makes one realize that it's an well-oiled machine at work. What a great cast. Not since FRIENDS have I been this awed at a casting of a show.

SCANDAL - Wow, what a first episode. I was hoping that the affair would be out there in the open and see what happens, but then again there will be no storyline if that is what happens. So Scandal, bring on all the shows!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Daily October (3)

I cannot remember if I wrote about the brunch we had last weekend. If I hadn't, well a friend of ours invited us out for brunch because she really wanted to eat there.

Since then I have been like a hungry bear wanting food....breakfast/brunch food. I find myself googling menus for brunch. What is happening to me?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Daily October (2)

Got the surprise of my life yesterday. Had taken the day off to accompany mom for greencard renewal. Her interview was set in Oakland. They no longer have it in the downtown office; they now have it near the airport, which was good since there is available parking and it's easy to go - after you've battled your way out of the traffic jams from 80 to 880.

Anyway, as I have said I had taken the day off because I really don't know how long it would take and just in case an emergency arises I don't need to be worrying about going back to work.

Our appointment was 9:00 am. We arrived about 8:40is. It was quick. The process was greased lightning. Pain free, hassle free. She was called upon arrival to the next desk where her expired green card was slapped with a sticker signifying the extension of the said card to another 9 months. 5 minutes max - that's all it took then we were headed to the fingerprinting and taking of pictures. Another 5-7 minutes.

I commend the job done by the USCIS to facilitate the processing of renewals.

By the way, I have downloaded the form online and sent it out with the renewal payment ($450) and a couple of weeks or so I got the appointment letter in the mail.

How about DMV....is there still a long wait?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Daily October (1)


Here I am again attempting to write daily for a month. Keeping my fingers crossed this will happen.

Let me begin this project by writing about my success in the kitchen today. I attempted to make "ginisang ampalaya" or sauteed bitter melon with shrimps. I'm all thumbs in the kitchen, so this is a victory for me. This would be the first successful thing I cooked that I could remember.

I've made some wonderful dishes before, but everything lacked something. Salt is the most common lacking in my previous dishes. This time around though I aced it. Hubby even gave it two thumbs up! My mother was really impressed and I had the gall to tell her that I learned to cook without getting any help from her.

My mother was a great cook. She fed us with wonderful dishes when I was growing up. In her advancing years, she lost her mojo in cooking and in sewing - two trades she was really good at when she had all her faculties.

She taught me how to sew and use the sewing machine. BUT she never taught me how to cook. Hence, today makes me more hopeful about my abilities in the kitchen.

Next up.....I'll attempt to bake a scone.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Episode 1, Fall Season 2013

With the exception of SCANDAL, all my fall tv shows have started their new season. Here are some of my thoughts:

CASTLE - Castle is about bestselling author Richard Castle observing a NYD station for his book. In return, he gets to help the department solve their cases, be friends with Esposito and Ryan and get involved with Det. Beckett.
This season opens with Beckett no longer in the police force (now with FBI) and no longer in NY. And she's also engaged to Castle. With this scenario on the season opener I wonder:

• Where does Castle fit into this FBI set-up, when he can no longer actively participate in solving crimes.
• What will happen to Esposito and Ryan?
• Will Beckett eventually move back to the police force to be near Castle?

Likewise, will there be storyline for Alexis (Castle's daughter) now that she's off to college and bringing boys home?

PERSON OF INTEREST - I must defer my thoughts and comments on this show for another time. I need to rewatch the premier because for some reason I was multi-tasking when I saw it and didn't get hold of the gist of the show.

ONCE UPON A TIME - One episode is not enough for me to tell where which direction this show is going. I am fully aware that there is a spin-off called ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND, I don't know if somehow the two shows will intersect again, like in the past. One thing I know is that Sunday's premier was not powerful enough to catch my full attention.

THE GOOD WIFE - The writing continues to be good. The acting is solid as usual. I feel that this show will continue to gather good ratings and the writers will throw us a curve ball. What will happen with Alicia. Will she leave with Carey. Is Carey still leaving with the group? I am excited to see the rest of the show this season. Good job on E1.

REVENGE - Jack knows Emily Thorne is really Amanda Clark. Nolan refuses to be geek god after brief stint in the slammer. Ashley is finally shown the door out. Will Amanda get her revenge soon? Who shot Emily Thorne?

HAVEN - This Syfy mainstay opened ahead of network shows. It has plenty of questions to answer, like where is Audrey Parker? Is she stuck in purgatory-like niche? How will she find her way back to Haven? Well for that matter how will she regain consciousness of her Audrey Parker identity? If she remembers who she really is, which one of those personas will she remember? Is there going to be a happy ending for her and Nathan? What about Duke? So many questions, awaiting happily for answers.

HOSTAGES - This is a new one this season, despite the fact that I have no more room in my evenings for another serial to follow. The preview attracted me. I like Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott, they are both good actors. And I like any show that has something to do with the White House or the POTUS. So far, the first show was meaty. I hope the writers are able to sustain this kind of writing the whole season.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Sleep like a cat

I love watching her sleep.

A former student and now facebook buddy doesn't update her status much, but when she does it's always imploring the high heavens to give her sleep. I think she's insomniac.

I don't have a problem with sleeping, thank heavens. Despite all my many ills, perceived and real, difficulty in sleeping is thankfully not one of them.

However, once a month, coinciding with female hell time, I experience difficulty in sleeping. It doesn't fail to happen, once a month, at that specific time.

So the specific time happened to me on Sunday night into Monday this week. I've already seen replays of the Giants game earlier that evening. I've also seen a show I've DVRd. I still couldn't sleep. Emma (see picture) who sleeps in between my legs was also getting affected. Finally she left her spot and walked up to my belly and looked me in the eye as if to say, 'GO TO SLEEP, SO I MAY SLEEP TOO.'

It's really funny. So when the tv turned itself off (we put timer on tv when we go to sleep) I let it be. I thought that I could easily fall off when the distraction is gone, but it wasn't to be.

The ugly thing about laying awake in bed while everyone's sleeping is that you hear funny noises. Some scary noises too. Or perceived noises?

Thankfully in this house where we are living now for 4 years, I have yet encountered the house to "breathe". In my previous place, the townhouse which was relatively newer than this house I'm in now, squeaks and creaks at night. So when I get those once-a-month insomnia, it was very disconcerting.

Also as if it timed itself, Monday was a day off for me making my lack of sleep a nonfactor in my Monday.

As if to reward myself for my lack of sleep, I spontaneously got a massage.

All's well that ends well.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ooops!

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First off happy fall season to everyone.

In my mind I have already posted a few entries here. And when I came to check on this blog, I'm even surprised that the "entries" weren't here. LOL. I am definitely losing my mind.

On Saturday, the last full day of summer, we tackled the job of cleaning out the garage and getting rid of stuff that we don't need. We only managed to one side of the garage, the left side due to the fact that we stayed in bed until nearly 12 noon. It was a rainy day, bed weather, so we stayed and watch some cooking shows on tv.

I found 2 boxes that contained the cards and letters that I received over the years. In the past I have been saving all of them for the time when I can figure out what to do with them. However, we barely have room to move in the garage, let alone use it for what it is as a carport.

My mind may have been clouded by the dust I've been inhaling, the cobwebs in my hair and whatever smells that are mixed in there - Emma and Buster pee there for instance, just to be naughty.

Anyway, I dumped all these mementos in the garbage bin. As I was doing that I was having second thoughts, but I knew that had I kept them I wouldn't find time to read them again or for that matter figure out a way to keep, use, or store them. They would be gathering dust.

Because I was keen on getting one side of the garage organized (we have more elbow room now) I didn't read the letters and cards, I just dumped them.

A couple of days later I still think about those letters and cards. I may have been rash in throwing them out. Or was I?

I don't know, for now I know how my heart feels. It feels like it had made a boo-boo.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Money Talk

Last night I came across a phrase that I haven't heard before. Nor have I thought about before. Money autobiography.

Basically it's a term that describes about how you think about money, feel about money, use money, etc throughout your life.

I was very fascinated by the hand out that was given to us; and while at the meeting I kept to myself (like I always do), the questions were very thought provoking.

Money is a very sensitive subject. I know I am very private about it. I don't discuss with anybody how much or how little I make. I remember my mother getting really furious (exaggeration I know) one time when she inquired exactly how much I'm making. I think the question was brought about by me lecturing her how to save money. I know, my fault. How dare me to lecture her on budgeting and using money the right way. This is a woman who managed to feed her family and send all her children to college and not get buried in debts with what little she has to go on.

And so during this outburst, my mom said that she cannot understand how her children turned out to be tightfisted with money and how we don't share with her how much money we make. (She has money of her own, she was nosey about how much we make.)

It shocked me to the core that I wasn't willing to share how much money I exactly make. My husband knows how much I make and I know how much we make during tax time. Only then that we look at our finances that closely.

During the rest of the year, I believe that we live within our means. I do feel that most of the time we even live below our means. I am thankful that he is very disciplined with our spending. If I'm in charge, we'd be in credit card debts by now. I don't go to the malls, stores very often, because I don't like too much crowded places and the HVAC in dep't stores give me congestion and headaches so I stay away. BUT on those rare times I go in there, I am very prone to impulse shopping. My past has shown that I have many purchases that were donated to Salvation Army that were not used. Many still were hardly used, they were brand new.

So with this new awareness of money talks, I am going to reflect on how I feel about money, how I use it, how I feel about sharing it and how generous I can be without feeling the pinch.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Are You Ready For Fall?

Three more days and we're officially in Fall Season. Well, when kids returned to the classrooms and the freeways got jammed again, it felt like Fall Season, but our weather here has been more summer like, very typical of our Indian summer.

Anyway, I'm trying to digest this fact. I'm not ready yet. All summer long I have been telling myself to pull out the box in the garage where the fall (halloween and thanksgiving) decorations are stored so that I can decorate on time.

But it's only three days and I haven't located the box yet. I know I am disorganized like crazy.

But I am ready for fall.

With Fall, comes cooler weather, boots, jackets, sweaters, scarves. Hot chocolate drink before bedtime. Soothing jasmine tea. Piping hot coffee.

Likewise, my fall shows are coming back. Person of Interest, Revenge, Once Upon a Time, The Good Wife, Castle, Haven, Big Bang Theory.

I'm also very ready to move on from summer. Summer has been a heartbreaker for me and I'd like very much to just leave all the aches and pains of summer with summer.

What are you looking forward to this fall?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

My Kind of Day


My kind of Sunday really. The weather is 79F. There is a little breeze. The washing machine is running. I've done the ironing. May do a bit of vacuuming later tonite. Presently watching the Giants while tinkering with Flick'r. And most importantly I'm in the same room with my cats, who are making the most of Sunday sleeping. Buster is by my foot, while Emma is comfortably in dreamland at the bed.

So how are you spending your Sunday?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Oh Giants, My Giants


It is the second week of September. The baseball season is winding down and I've only blogged about the Giants 2013 season here once. And only two pathetic lines saying the Giants were opening their season at Chavez Ravine (LA Dodgers) and they lost their first game of the season. I even ended that paragraph with it's only one game. Meaning I was hopeful that despite a lost to begin their season that it was after all only game 1 of 162.

That was the full extent of my Giants coverage this season. Pathetic isn't it? Add remiss to that as well.

I remembered about the Giants last night while watching their 10th inning win over the who-the-heck-were-they-playing again? Anyway, because the game was quite exciting for a no-bearing game, I was reminded to check my Giants posts this year. That was when I found out that I made one mention of them on an April post this year. That was all I wrote.

Unfortunately for the Giants, after highest of highs last season, their 2013 was dismal. The Giants resigned 2012 heroes back to the fold in Marco Scutaro, Hunter Pence, and Angel Pagan. Of the three, only Hunter seemed to earn his paycheck. Marco Scutaro was on and off, in and out, was hurt and wasn't as effective. Angel Pagan was effective until he got hurt and needed to stay on disabled list for a long time.

The starting rotation that was unbelievably effective in last year's post-season seemed to completely forgot to pitch. Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Lincecum - they showed no sign of the brilliance of the past post-season. I'm not 100% sure about Vogie, but I believe all 3 have contracts expiring at the end of this year.

If I were the Giants, I'd resign none of them. Barry Zito already has made money off the Giants with that incredulous contract he signed years ago. Vogelsong on the other hand has his peak and I don't think he'd be able to go back that high again. Tim Lincecum is a tough problem. He had 2 lackluster seasons, but he's once the face of the franchise and this year had shown glimmer of his old brilliance with that no-hitter against San Diego. But if I were the Giants, I would beg off resigning him.

As a fan, I would like the Giants to resign Tim Lincecum. While his stuff as a starter is no longer there, he is a great reliever. He still has nasty stuff in middle relief. Plus, it would really be weird if he dons a different jersey.

As a Giants fan, I would have no problem releasing Barry Zito. While his work in the community is unparallel and noteworthy, he simply doesn't have the stuff to be competetive in the field.

For Vogelsong, as a fan my loyalty remains, but as a fan I also would like my team to field a strong crew that will be able to compete for 162 games and beyond. This is after all a business as well. The fans come when the product is effective.

It's sad to see them go, but it's time to shake up the team.

Other players that need to go Gregor Blanco is one. While his defensive skills are without doubt, his offense is lacking and dismal. And if the Giants resign Hunter Pence (please do) then they only need one outfield post for next season. Are there any in the farm system that can come up and patrol the left field?

I am very pleased with the recent development of Brandon Belt as an offensive punch he's been expected to be since his arrival in the majors. It took him long enough but he's finally showing what the management was excited about. I would like to see more offense from the other Brandon - Crawford. I would like him to be a double barrel threat. I am expecting him to get Golden Gloves very soon, if not this season.

I hope that the adorable Panda would take his physical conditioning seriously. He lost time this season with injury and while that has nothing to do with his weight (or maybe it does) he needs to be in fighting/playing form. Please Panda do something.

It's really hard to complain about Buster. In fact I have nothing to say against him. I just hope that with a longer time off this season he can stay rested longer and return next season fresh and healthy and ready to take home more accolades and awards.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The heat, the bridge and a little wine tasting.

In short, a little update.

Last week was all hot and humid, and by the end of the week it was still hot and no longer humid. Thank heavens for little mercies.

It was too hot to do anything on Saturday, so after driving mom to her errands I watched some movies on tv. There was a weekend marathon of Harry Potter, which ABC Family channel has periodically throughout the year. Each time, I find myself rewatching the movies over and over.

On Saturday afternoon they were showing the Sorcerer's Stone, the first one, my fave of all. When ABC does a marathon, they usually skip the first movie, for reasons I don't understand. As a fan of the movies, it gives me a kick to see the characters again when they were very young and cute.

Even the hubby who dislikes staying home on the weekends sat and read newspapers and whatnot. I didn't realize that he had plans later in the day.

We drove off at quarter to 5. Unbeknownst to me we were meeting up with his carpool buddy and his wife and we'd have a walk to the new bridge date.

When we got there, the hubby called him and he was already walking on the trail about 10 minutes ahead of us. We encountered heavy traffic, that's why it was 5:30 by the time we were starting our walk.

The path/trail starts just outside of Ikea in Emeryville and winds under freeway and beside freeway lanes. The path was well paved and very popular. We had many companions walking that afternoon; many more pedalling ahead.

Then we reached a point where we could see where the path would curve and apparently that's where the beginning of the bridge path is, but it was already closed. The sign that says dusk to dawn at the beginning of the trail meant something. At 6:00 pm for now the trail is closed for pedestrian. Bikers have no restrictions. We heard that later on they would make the trail accessible 24/7.

Sigh! From Ikea to the bridge is 2 miles, very doable. Not difficult at all. We'll try again someday.

When we got back to the parking lot, we both decided to browse at Ikea, while the other couple decided to grab a yogurt and go. We stayed and I was most tempted to buy something, but since hubby was with me (and the thought of long lines for paying) it was easier to resist the urge to spend.

Spend we did however for food as we were quite hungry. We split a meal of chicken tenders and fries. All I want is fries anyway, been craving for them lately.

By the time we finished eating, we were hoping the traffic to the city would ease up a bit so we could do our mandatory first drive over the new span thing. Thankfully despite all the traffic, we were able to cross the beautiful span in less time than what I feared. After all, it's past 7 PM.

Since we crossed the bridge anyway, we might as well go to Embarcadero and take photos. We found parking easily and snapped a few shots. Afterwards we took a short detour to Treasure Island for more shooting. Hubby did the shooting. I was using my smart phone, he brought his camera.

We got home nearly 10 pm, and the house was still hot.

Sunday was going to be in the 90s here; but we weren't going to be home all day. Our friends invited us to a wine tasting in Napa; and we told them we're taking them for early dinner once the wine tasting was over.

Napa was hot, but it was beautiful, as always.

Our first order of business was light lunch so that we won't be tasting in empty stomach. Our friend found this Mexican grocery store with a little taqueria at the back. Their specialty is carne asada so the hubs and I split a super carne asada quesadilla, while our friends split a carne asada burito. It was a good spot for these dishes. Affordable too. We ate at a picnic table behind the store with views of the vineyard. So very Napa valley!

We went to 2 different wineries for wine tasting. On the first one, where we have reservations, we took our time and sampled about 6 wines. I like only 2 of them. We sat in the garden underneath the umbrella and have fans on us; it was a hot day, but the garden seating was inviting. I didn't melt, although I was sweating like a pig.

The second winery was all spur of the moment. We finished tasting at the first winery and found that we had so much time to kill before the restaurant would open. Our friends like this second winery and they have been tasting here for years. The good thing about it also is that the tastings are free. So few of the wineries nowadays offer free tastings. I begged off this time, but when it was time to taste the port, hubby just had to make me sip. Glad he did, because it was a good port. It's the best wine I've tasted that day (not including the wine we brought for dinner).

Another stop we made was at Dean and Deluca, a gourmet food store. I really like browsing here and tasting. We left empty handed.

We arrive at the downtown area with plenty of time to go before the restaurant opens for dinner service, so we walked around the riverfront, giving tour to our friends who often visit Napa but don't come to this side of the city. We browsed at stores, enjoyed the gardens, photographed the tile mural and then it was time to eat.

Zuzu was our choice. We wanted to have them taste and see what they think. Overall we had about 11 or 12 small plates including the desserts. Rioja was the bottle that hubby brought with our dinner, and it's one of my favorites. The meal was satisfying. You know what they say, good food good friends good life. It was a good day to spend in Napa Valley with friends.

Oh, I think the temperature is going south starting Tuesday. Hey Autumn, aren't you coming in yet?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Weird Few Days

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I've experienced something I don't recall having experienced before as a resident of this wonderful region. We have had a string of humid days. Humidity! It's here. In the Bay Area.

Humidity and I we don't get along well. I'm Miss Cranky Pants when humidity makes an appearance. And while I'm really brave vacationing at locations where heat and humidity is the norm, I can be assured that when the vacation ends I could go back to my drylandia.

But these past few days were crazy. So humid. My house was too hot and humid and it's not even that hot outside.

Anyway, because there is so much water in the air, our skies were so pretty, something like this. This picture was taken a few months back, but this cloudscape reminded me so much of what we had this weekend.

Changing topic here. I finally got a taste of Indonesian cuisine courtesy of PADI in Berkeley. Our dining group (for lack of better term) met up at the College Avenue location, the website said they have another one in San Lorenzo, and partake of the 12-course group meal. I really enjoyed a few of the dishes, but there is nothing that I would brag about here. My hubs on the other hand was really impressed.

Good food and good friends was a great way to end the holiday weekend. But that's not all.

After dinner we decided we wanted some ice cream for dessert, even though our 12-course meal included a delicious dessert.

So we bravely queued up at ICI, which against my better judgement turned out to be a good idea. I don't like lining up for anything, much less ice cream. But the ice cream was made in Berkeley, I don't know exactly if it's in this location, but it's artisanal and quite good.

They have different flavors everyday and from a list of about 6 on the chalkboard, I had a scoop of burnt caramel, which was quite subtle. I wanted a bit bolder caramel taste. The hubs had a scoop of ginger creme brulee; hardly brulee taste and very strong ginger taste, which overpowers the flavor. However, it was good.

So after 20 minutes in line our group of 9 including 2 kids had our scoops and ate them standing on the sidewalk chatting the night away.

It was about 9 pm and we thought we'd be able to go from Berkeley to cross the new span that night, but the bridge didn't open until after 10 pm so we just went home and got ready for another week of work.

It looks like our dining group is indeed going to do it monthly this time around. S reminded us that the last time we met up for dinner was some 6 weeks ago at Dixie; however, there were only 4 of us that were able to make it that time.

Now with all these eating (we didn't even bbq for Labor Day) I must do something about losing all these weight.