Sunday, March 29, 2015

Take Time To Smell The Flowers

Enjoy the little things.

Bask in the sunshine.

Dance in the wind.

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Make a new friend.

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Remember to always take time to smell the flowers.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Mindless Mumblings.

Almost a week ago today, the sad news that Philippine movie personality Liezl Martinez succumbed to the big C came to me as I was about to sleep for the night. Her passing affected me in a way I did not expect. I guess one reason is that I’m still whirling from losing my niece to the same dreaded disease. Another reason is that I have been following (okay reading since I don’t have an account) her tweets and Instagram for a while now. I enjoy looking at her photos. I don’t recall watching any of her films; I don’t think she had many. I wasn’t even maka-Albert (Albert fan) during the Regal Babies days. But her passing saddened me. It felt like air was let out of my balloon. Rest in peace Liezl, another one gone way too soon.

Anyway, things are the way they’re supposed to be. Did not go on any trips, long or short; however, there’s one in the offing that I’m quite excited about. I’ll let you in on the planning soon.

Yes, I’ve returned to Zumba. I missed two weeks of February because we were too busy with the niece being in the hospital and then the funeral. But I’m back. Now if I could only lose some weight.

Spring is officially arriving tomorrow. Out here in Cali, we’ve had Spring since after Fall. I don’t recall any winter like conditions here. And because our winter was the driest in how many years, the drought conditions are getting worse. I read somewhere that the water supply we have right now is only good for one year. And then what?

I’ve been telling anyone who would care to listen this. Why not transport all the extra snow that the other parts of this great country received this winter and dump it all in California? That would solve some of this state’s problems on water, right? Kidding aside, how feasible is it to do that? Pipeline from one coast to the other?

Another thing on my mind is the worsening traffic in the Bay Area. Can we not utilize our waters to ease congestion? Is there a way to make our ferry system affordable and appealing to the commuters? Talks have been going in the past about a ferry depot in Hercules. As a matter of fact, construction of housing and stores have been put up near the location. If my husband reads this he would tell me to attend the town hall meeting. We have attended one time and it was about this same issue. I believe that was nearly 5 years ago.

Speaking of commute, I was able to share my route, the scenic route, to my co-worker. I did not realize we live near each other. And when I told her about my route she was flabbergasted that such a route exist. When you’re commuting in the I-80 in the East Bay you are expected to have a plan B or route B because if you rely on taking the freeway the rest of the way you’ll be in big trouble. The most obvious plan B is to take San Pablo Avenue. It somewhat parallels the freeway. The only problem with this route is that everyone knows about it and it’s the first one they take when something goes wrong on I-80. There’s another route that also uses San Pablo Avenue, but this one takes Arlington and you’d end up in Oakland.

Now this is the route I use nowadays. I don’t even bother to go to I-80 even though I see it’s clear near my house. I know it’s jammed in Richmond or in Berkeley, so what’s the point.

I take the backroads. My commute is through the rolling green hills with grazing cows, and electric poles and lines covered with birds, then it comes out to a curvy San Pablo Dam Road that passes by dams and hills and Orinda town where I take the freeway to Oakland.

My co-worker has been taking the route for days now. Today she was beaming from ear to ear and said her commute is down to 40 minutes. Well that’s still long, but better than I-80. I’m just glad I shared this super secret route, which actually was shared to me by others as well. Pass it on.

Friday, March 6, 2015


Amid all the despair and sadness of the past few weeks, I managed to find something really beautiful. I thought God gave me this day to tell me that things will be better.

My niece had lost her 3-year battle with pancreatic cancer the day before this video was taken. When she was first diagnosed I was about to leave for my India/Bangladesh vacation in 2012. I remember that clearly because I phoned my brother just to give him a heads up that I will be out of the country for a month and our elderly mother who lives with me has all the sitter she needed at that time. I always ring my brothers and email them later whenever I leave so that they know my whereabouts and at the same time ask if they could drop by the house to see mom, as she gets sad when I'm not around.

Anyway, when I rang him he said he's in LA because my niece is in the hospital. They discovered something in her insides they don't know yet, but likely cancerous in nature. She was a very strong intelligent woman with 3 small children, ages 10, 7 and 5. The tumor was small when they found it in her pancreas, chemo blasted it or something. She had a few months of health. But it came back, more aggressive or something. I don't know really what happened. I get different versions depending on who I talk to. Needless to say, pancreatic cancer is tough to beat.

Long story short, she kept battling until the very last breath. My SIL (her mom) told us that under the respirator she mumbled: IT'S TIME. She bravely chose her ending. I don't know how she did that, but you know I'm not very surprised because while alive she's been doing things I'm afraid to touch with a 10 foot pole. And while technically I am her aunt, our age gap is merely 7 years and we're more "cousins".

She was in the ICU for a couple of weeks before she passed. We saw her on the first week and she was without respirator, but by the next week she just couldn't breathe on her own. The chemo made her lung linings (pleura I think) very thin that enabled water to fill her lungs making it very difficult to breathe. She had tube on her side, or back, to drain fluid. She was suffering too much.

Anyway, when the plan to take a short weekend trip to the mountains she was in status quo. Nothing was said about taking the respirator off. On Ash Wednesday, my hubs phone rang while we were in church. I stepped out to take the call and my brother said it's bad news. Her ICU doctors said they cannot do anything else for her. The husband asked if he could take her case in Stanford for second opinion. My travel plans were hanging in the balance until Friday afternoon.

We decided to push through with the trip on Friday evening. When we were leaving for our trip on Saturday morning, I rang my brother to check on them. They were arranging funeral services. That was when I found out that my niece and her family decided that she would go that Saturday, respirator would be taken out at 2 pm.

With our bags packed we drove to the hospital to say our last goodbye. Other nephews and nieces picked up my mom and drove her to the hospital for their last goodbye as well.

The whole drive, I had one eye on my phone. By 2 pm, I texted my nephew to ask if he's still in the hospital. By 3 pm, I got a text saying she passed on. It was a tough road trip. Road trips usually give me boost, a therapy for whatever ailed me in past.

The snow was unexpected. Days before the trip I kept calling the lodge to inquire about weather. When all I heard was sunny skies without chance of snow, I packed accordingly. Then on our second day, we awoke to this.....

I captured our travel buddies going to their car to get to the restaurant for breakfast.

Not my first winter wonderland experience, but it's the first in a very very long time.

Who knew snowfall can be very comforting and therapeutic?