Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: A Breakdown

January – February – March

The first quarter of the year is a good time to travel when the weather is mild and the crowd is nowhere in sight. We were quick to avail of a Vegas vacation package on sale. While hassles arose due to scheduling conflicts and changes, the Vegas trip went as planned with the exception of how to get there. Initially we were to fly but we drove instead(long story) – road trip #1 for the year.

The trip was meant for photo walks. Finally got to see Zion National Park, although I always thought that we would hit the big 5 at one trip, this side trip to Zion was well anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed.

On the same trip, we returned to visit Valley of Fire State Park, a park that stole my heart at first sight, then stole it again on second sight.

While we didn’t get to see much of Vegas nor experience much of its allure, the trip was worth it. Vegas became our home base as we visited nearby parks for photo shoot. Death Valley was in the plans but we ran out of time, may be next time.

April – May – June

Road trip #2 to Lake Tahoe and Yosemite. Stayed in a cabin with Murphy’s bed (my first) in North Lake Tahoe (first time too) for two nights, drove around the lake stopping to enjoy the sights and took a lot of photos by Emerald Bay lookout. Took the scenic drive through Highway 395, stopped to admire the tufas in Mono Lake, entered Yosemite, took photos, drove through and rested for the night at the borrowed cabin of friends in Groveland.

The next day we set out to do a little hike at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite. Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is the supplier of drinking water for the city of San Francisco. The day was pleasant, quite warm for late May, but the scenery was fantastic and we engaged in photography.

This trip also made us see the devastating outcome of the rim fire a year ago that gutted a huge part of Yosemite. It made me sad to see a large portion of the forest burned, but likewise pleased that regrowth has been happening and nature started to heal itself. (In the summer, another fire came to Yosemite. I am not sure if it was in the same area as the year before.)

July – August – September

The summer months are my time to hibernate. I normally don’t schedule any trips around this time, because I know that this is the peak season of traveling. Kids are out of school so the sights are crowded, the hotel rooms are expensive, and the weather is super hot.

However, summer is perfect for a camping trip to nearby Samuel P. Taylor State Park, an hour’s drive from home. The camping trip was organized by my husband for our church group. We stayed for two nights, cooked our meals, sang songs around the campfire, roasted marshmallows, hiked, some went to nearby beach, played games, did yoga under a cathedral of tall redwood trees, and afterwards had a mass in the same site.

October – November – December

For three weeks in October – November, I was in 2 continents, 6 countries (7 if you include a layover in Germany), 4 islands, 7 cities.

The trip/s went like this:

Flew to Venice, stayed there for 2 days. Took a cruise for 7 days and visited the following Greek islands: Corfu, Mykonos, Santorini and Katakolon.

Cruise returned to Venice and stayed in Lido for one night.

Flew to Barcelona, stayed for 2.5 days. Took a cruise for 9 days and visited: Marseilles, Genoa, Malaga, Casablanca and Lisbon. Decided to leave cruise (was on the way back to BCN)and stayed in Lisbon for 2 days.

The flight back was long and exhausting. It went like this Lisbon – Barcelona – Munich – San Francisco. It felt like we were flying for a whole day.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Thank You 2014

A new year is in the horizon and the old one is fading into oblivion. Crazy how year after year it seems that 365 days just whizzed by. I'll try to attempt to do a reminiscing of what transpired in 2014, but I know that I barely was conscious for the majority of the year. I felt like this year I was running on "auto mode".

Many of my "goals" for the year remained unfulfilled. I failed to even make a semblance of an attempt to reach some of them, pity on me.

My heart was full this year. Full of joy. Full of hope. Full of sadness. It was full of one emotion after another.

I reached a point in my life where I feel like my goal is within reach and yet for unknown reason or fear I am paralyzed to extend my arms to grab it. I need courage for 2015.

I need focus. I need compassion. I need tolerance. I need faith.

I want to reach my goals this new year.

I want to become more than I am now. I want to grow as an individual.

I no longer want status quo. I'm sick of status quo.

I want to be more open to new experiences. To stop saying NO and start saying YES.

I want to just go out in the world.

I want a deeper relationship with my family, with my friends and with God.

Lastly I want to learn how to use my freaking DSLR before I get a new one :)

Happy New Year y'all.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Here We Go Again

I have to ‘fess up. Neglecting this blog is not intentional. The Holidays is a very busy time of the year and with everything that goes into the preparation for Christmas in one’s plate, at least one of the items in one’s tasks is to suffer. Unfortunately, it’s this blog.

I supposed that putting my thoughts into words require more time than I have right now. But here’s what’s been happening and what I’ve been thinking lately:

· The Christmas tree came up later than I wanted or planned. But it’s up and so far thankfully the cats show no interest at all in the glittery balls hanging and whatnots connected with the tree. As a matter of fact, when I was trimming the tree, Emma was sitting at the stairs landing content at snoopervising me from a distance, while Buster was nearby but aside from sniffing each and every ornament that got picked he was a model of good behavior. Moreover, we have not had any ornament casualty yet.

· We have had a series of storms, some carrying heavy downpour and packing strong winds. Scary. The cats, especially Buster, get spooked when the winds howled. He’s been sleeping close to his mama lately, sometimes even taking catpapa’s spot in the bed.

· I missed the Parol Festival or Parade again this year. I was reminded by a fellow blogger about it but the date coincided with our annual Tenderloin project. This would be the 3rd year in a row where we stuff Christmas sacks for the people at Open Cathedral. Open Cathedral is a project our reverend actively participates in. So every year we get together on a Saturday night, after collecting items to be put into the sacks all month long, to put together these gifts for the homeless of the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. Items collected are socks, scarves, mittens, toiletries, ponchos/umbrellas, etc. In addition we also make home-made Christmas cards, which I participated in this year. I usually just go around taking pictures and running around as a go-for girl. This year I sat on the craft table and found out that there was a little girl inside of me that still enjoyed making paper crafts. I thoroughly enjoyed it. On another table a group prepared sandwiches for bagged lunch that were also distributed the following Sunday after service. Then there’s another table that threaded cross for necklace. Since we have a large number of people who came to volunteer (the activity is advertised in the local magazine), we were able to finish quite early. Thus the fun singalong while our choir director tickled the ivory got underway earlier than usual and longer than normal. It was such a fun night. The remarkable thing about this is we have a Muslim family that is friends with the church and came for a second year in a row. It’s really nice to see Muslim family singing Christmas carols side by side with Christian brothers and sisters. A group of us, excluding the hubs and I, went to the Open Cathedral in the city on Sunday afternoon to attend mass and distribute the goodies. We were too tired to go to the city and had too many errands to run.

· In the midst of all the chaos of rain, shopping, and traffic, we managed to watch The Mockingjay Part 1. That just goes to show you that if there’s a will, there’s definitely a way. What can I say I’m already invested in this series and I love J. Law.

· So I was on Facebook one night and saw a posting by hubs ex-coworker and so I commented and the next thing I knew we were having dinner at a little hole in the wall in Albany, near Berkeley, at a burrito shop that sells burrito with Middle Eastern flavor. The Hot Shop in San Pablo Avenue corner Solano Avenue makes flavorful and reasonably priced burritos. They were so good. Talk about things moving fast, I think we’re going out of town together very soon, as we both bought a voucher for a cabin stay near Sequoia National Park.

· Last night I finished wrapping presents. Hopefully, that’s the end of it, although I know there’s a few that may or may not need wrapping.

· The Golden State Warriors, the local basketball team, is doing fantastic this season yet. We have been following them for years now and the excitement is rising exponentially this season.

· My goal before the Season ends is to get a decent Christmas/Holiday picture with the hubs and the cats, good enough to put on the cards next year.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

4th of December

Today is my father's death anniversary.

He's been gone a long time.

Nope. Correct that.

He's been gone a very long long time.

Three decades.

I asked myself, surprised.

How did we manage to go on without him?

It makes me sad to think that he didn't enjoy his life.

When he was alive he spent most of his life working. And he was not earning a living sitting in a cubicle tapping on some keyboard. Nope. He was doing manual labor. He was a driver, a vendor and did many small jobs. It was a tough life.

He persevered. Did not even enjoy the fruits of his labor.

Makes me really sad each time I think about that.

Rest in peace Dad.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Three Weeks Later

It is three weeks since the last post and roughly 3 weeks since we got back from our vacation.

Lots of things got in the way. There were tons of tv binging. Catching up with the regular tv programs we follow took up a lot of time. Didn't realize that we watch so much tv, that we follow too many tv shows.

And because we were glued in to the tube, I have not completely tidied up my stuff from the vacation. I have yet to locate the earrings that I wore in Europe, minor issue for now.

Thanksgiving came and went. We don't normally do Thanksgiving as a family (my bros and I) so we do that separately. In the past few years we always do the traditional spread, well we try to keep it as true to the core as possible, and invite people who have no plans for Thanksgiving.

This year, a whole 16-lb turkey and all the fixings and there's just us and one friend who decided to share the day with us.

To add to the busyness of the season, hubby's birthday fell on Black Friday. We don't join in the shopping madness and if we ever are going to shop it would be either late Saturday or Sunday.

In the past we use Black Friday as a good day to go for a short drive and typically that drive leads to the wine country. We followed the same plan this year. However, much to our surprise we timed it with the annual Festival of Lights in Yountville. Unfortunately though we arrived late so much so that all the tasting tickets were sold out.

The single glass tastings however were still available so we had a beer for him and cider for me. We have been dying to have some sweets from Bouchon Bakery, but the line was tooooo long, naturally. As much as we hated to walk away from the line, we did. We wanted to catch a bit of the fading light so we could do our fall color photography. We managed to get a bit of shooting until twilight.

Still hankering for some sweets we found our way to one of our favorite stops in the valley, Dean and Deluca. While the sweets was what we came for, I fell in love with the onion and chives cheese that was out for sampling. Now I'm kicking myself for not buying a wedge of it. It truly was delish, very creamy.

On Saturday it was rainy and gloomy and we were driving to Yuba City to meet up people who could tell us about managing small business. That took longer than we expected and by the time we finished it was dark, no way that we could do any more shooting. We thought we'd talk to people then get out and drive to Grass Valley and shoot.

Plan B was to swing by Old Sacramento just to check if the Christmas lights are on. After all, it's been a few years since we were there. And another bonus to this side trip, they have Theater of Lights presentation. What a fun show for people of all ages. Of course it was cold and rainy, but didn't stop people from having fun. We saw a lot of kids (a few adults) wearing jammies, must be something going on that we didn't know about. After walking around, we stopped for a bite and a sip.

Sunday was shopping day and we mostly went to Costco for some necessities. Got a robe and hoodie for hubby and nada for moi. Oh and we were able to replace our tired but still working bedroom tv. I'm loving the new tv btw, plus it was on sale.

Right now I'm writing this with my two kitties cuddle up in bed with me. Take care.