When rain threatens

I left the house wearing my rainboots, but I packed my raincoat. It was too warm and humid to be layered — so I opted instead for my sweater blazer.

I got off to a slow start today. I didn’t even prepare anything beyond the morning cup of espresso and I crawled my way through getting ready for work. It’s one of those days where, if I had a choice, I would have opted to just stay home.

But there is work.. And it’s almost Saturday. (Trying to stay positive about this..). I tell myself that no matter how glum things get, there will always be something to smile about.

Rain threatening in the horizon

It’s just another day, I tell myself.  But the normally bright sunshine we have to put the shades down for is nowhere to be seen.  Gloomy and grey… =(

Strong Rain today

I can just sit in front of this window and watch the rain all day until it stops.  You know it’s bad when you can actually hear the rain as it pelts the glass.  The fog outside makes it even look gloomier.

Just another night

It’s minutes past 9pm and I’m exhausted.  Got home from a full day of work trying to find a visa genie for my boss who’s trying to go somewhere that makes the US Embassy process in Manila seem like a piece of cake.  I am trying, and despite my processing company’s pessimism, I believe in miracles.  Between that and the usual things associated with a normal work day, I went home ready to whip up dinner.  Fried chicken wings (what else?) for the boy, and I whipped up some Pork Giniling with Foie Gras.  Rich, I know.  But the delicacy was going to go to waste… I needed something to thicken my giniling and add some flavor to it.  Success!  Rich, indeed. =)  Well, an indulgence once in a while is well-deserved.

A colleague of the hubby’s had given us this gourmet stack of foie gras from Paris a while back, and the ‘best by’ dates were almost past.  It was many notches above liverwurst, and totally yum!

I have a present to wrap up and finish which was requested by someone I made a version of this a while back.  (I can’t be specific as I might have to plead the fifth if someone zeroed in on what it was.)  Other than that, I’m hoping to do more writing, retire early, and heed my body’s pleas for rest.  I wasn’t feeling too well all day, and while the two Aleve’s (naproxen) I drank mid-afternoon somehow helped, it didn’t take care of the problem completely.

Just another night for me.  I just thought I’d write a post before I start wrapping up my evening.  It was THAT busy — no post !  It does happen.

Midweek yet again.  Time did fly once more, but in a good way.  I’m not whining.. just chronicling things here.

Trying yet another different look at Gotham Chick.  Go help my ticker move for that site and visit.. let me know what you think.

Celebrating me

I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I joined this company.  My boss was actually instrumental in surprising me earlier today after I thought I had sent him off to a luncheon in one of the restaurants around our building.  Minutes later, he calls me from his cellphone telling me that he had accidentally left his organizer in one of the conference rooms where he had his meeting earlier in the morning, and that he needed me to grab it immediately because there was some sensitive information in that book.  So off I went and lo and behold, when I opened the door, I found the boss and his team and my fellow admins all seated with two bouquets of flowers, cake and lunch all set out…

I was so shocked and it was totally unexpected, and while I will say I know I deserve it  (Ha!), I still feel totally in awe at the gesture.

Flowers for my Anniversary at work - 10 years  Happy anniversary.. to me!
Flowers for my Anniversary at work - 10 years

Daily Prompt: Normal

Daily Prompt: Is being “normal” — whatever that means to you — a good thing, or a bad thing? Neither?

When we experience something that moves us or changes us in a profound way, or which unsettles us in a very pronounced manner, we sometimes equate things getting better to things going back to normal.

I like that the prompt leaves the meaning of normal open without confining it to a concept which might apply to all.

I had to let a sigh out as I started focusing on defining my “normal”.  To me, that would be “status quo” or the way that things are — or that state where things used to be before the life-changing event that shook my world.  That it is good or bad or was good or bad then is what will define if it’s a good or bad thing to be back to as a state of being.  (I know I’m probably only making sense to myself at this point. Please bear with me.)

We often tend to accept everything that goes on around us as “normal” — whether they help us grow or hold us back.  Although “normal” as a concept is usually thought of as something positive, it’s not always the case.  There are times when we just resign ourselves to a state of being because we somehow become convinced that whatever that state is, it is okay.

I remember a friend who chose to keep the peace instead of pursuing the one love he had always coveted.  It was a choice between keeping his family happy and keeping the peace as he called it but forfeiting his own happiness, or risking their wrath and ire to fight for what he thought was his one shot to be truly happy.  He chose “normal” against what would not be normal but would have meant “better”.  He chose to give up his own happiness to make others happy.  So where does that leave “normal” as being good or bad?  It is ironic that in sticking to “normal”, he ruined the life of the one person he declared to be his one true love.  In his “normal” state he thinks she’s fine.. and it easy to be blindsided by the thought that in thinking one is doing the right thing, any consequence of that action has to be good.  Normal then, is a state of denial that all is well when it is not. 

And there are those times when we try to break free from what is ‘normal’, seeking to find a better state but failing in our journey to find it.  Then we go back to what we had hoped to shake free from, and by some miracle, things go back to what they used to be — back to the ‘normal’ one had sought to be free of.  And things go back to being the same way they were — even if one has changed in the process.  So you learn to accept “normal” and just stop struggling against it, steeped in the realization that that is where you are meant to be.  That that is your “normal” — this is how you are supposed to be.  Acceptance comes as  a matter of course.  Normal becomes a fact of acceptance in which case it is neither bad or good.  It’s a safe place to be, to be there where you are — you are neither above or below the status quo.  It’s not a “good thing” or a “bad thing” — it just “IS”.

So when is “normal” good?  

When “normal” is an ideal and not just the common state, when we manage to go above what we are used to as the norm and achieve something better, then normal is good.  When we stick to the basics of one plus one equals two and stop convincing ourselves that one plus one equals one, then we can achieve a normal that has no ifs or buts.  It’s when we can be true to how we feel without reservations and when we can seek the forgiveness of those whose hearts we broke in the course of our pursuit of normal can we truly say we have found a state of “normal” that is good. 

Sometimes to be “normal” is to be “safe”.

To me, being “normal” is good.  It lets me go from day to day knowing I’m still able to look forward to the next day.  That although I try to live my life a day at a time, I know there’s going to be another one coming even as the sun sets.  I can disappear into the background and know that it won’t rock anyone’s world if I decide not to come out of the anonymity of fading into the crowd.  I don’t need to be anything but normal.  I tried to once before, and failed miserably at it.  For all the heartache and the battlescars I carry from trying, I think that I’ve learned my lesson and have found my place under the sun.  Embracing normal as this life I am living.

 

From rain to sunshine

Rainy afternoon in New York City

I’m probably being overly optimistic with the blogpost title, but it’s stopped raining this Saturday, and the sun is being lazy, hiding behind some clouds.  We were pelted with rain and wind yesterday as you can see from the view from my window above taken late Friday and it rained all night.  It’s just nature taking care of us again, making sure we have enough water to sustain spring into summer.  Thankfully — at least in our area, that is — we didn’t have an over-abundance of mother nature’s blessing.

I’m looking forward to a quiet weekend.  Hoping to create a few pieces, and sending off some Zentangled Mail Art from Swap-bot that you can read more about at my craft blog, Gotham Chick, once I’m able to post (link to be supplied when the post is uploaded…).  I was supposed to mail it out this Saturday, but I ended up leaving my ‘inserts’ in the office.  (Mailing on Monday then!

I did my postcard giveaway video in connection with some lenticular (3D) postcards I picked up from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) which I had picked up this week.  I got so excited seeing the new postcards displayed on their rack when I hopped over the museum shop before meeting up for the ride home, I had to grab a copy plus an extra before they ran out.  I had advertised the giveaway at our Postcrossing Philippines Facebook group and I promised the drawing would be my Saturday.  I wanted to show that it was all done above board, so the video pertaining to the actual drawing is straight-through, uncut, so there are no substitutions, cuts or what-not.  All fair!  =)  I’m sending the winner’s postcard prize (I had them choose the artist) via snail mail with some extra goodies.  Playing postcard santa!

I guess now that THAT’s done, I can look at maybe beginning another Philippine Map hand-drawn postcard before the weekend ends.  (I currently have five finished which I am dying to post but scanning the PC has been too much trouble.  I will try again next week.)

So here’s the video I worked on this evening.  I’m totally bushed after editing it and putting music to it, so no, you don’t have to bear with my narration/spiel.  It was fun to make, though.

If you’re interested to get any of the postcards in the video, please e-mail me at postcardmailbox at gmail.com.

Enjoy!

Is it the weekend yet?

Spoilage unspoiled - repurposed art materials

It’s one of those days when I wish it were Saturday tomorrow instead of Friday.  But hey — I’m hours away from MY weekend, so I’m not complaining.

I have successfully scanned my multi-colored paper towels and found a good file size to save it at, zipped it and have been stumped at uploading.  It used to be so easy to log onto my webhosting account to do an FTP transfer, but all these improvements on IE coupled with the security hurdles I need to jump over and climb under have me stumped.  So I’ll give it another day.

Meanwhile, I’m tired and trying to catch up with some reruns of Criminal Minds.  It’s one of those shows which I don’t mind watching over and over again.

Minutes to Friday, one more work day to go.  I hope it goes by quickly.  I’m already beginning my weekend in my mind. 

The mind can be a powerful means of escape.  We can either take control of it as we are supposed to or let it take control of us.  I’m telling mine to wind down and get ready to rest and head to dreamland.

 

With these stained hands, I type

Angelo saw my hands this morning as I handed him his daily allergy dose.  “What happened, Mommy?”  He looked on curiously as he saw my hands, stained with pink ink. 

“I was  busy last night.”

Busy, indeed.  Thankfully, after more washing and a shower, the stain is hardly visible.  And wonder of wonders, my nail enamel was totally unaffected.  (Vanity again. LOL)

I finally worked on a new set of stained map backgrounds and now have an additional 22 backgrounds to work with.  (Happiness..)  I also did something different by purposely “saving” the paper towels I used to wipe off the spray ink from my work mat (which is a plastic surface) and I came up with some rather interesting tie-dye like napkins.  I am scanning these and putting them up at my craft blog, Gotham Chick, as soon as I can make up my mind about the theme for the site. 

I need to rev up traffic to Gotham Chick, and what better way to do it than to offer digital files of the backgrounds as downloads for the digital and hybrid scrapbookers out there?  (I always like freebies!)  Soon.
Digital Paper Pack: Stained Paper Towels

Meanwhile, I made an effort to step out and actually HAVE a lunchbreak, and I went to my favorite Thai food street cart over at 43rd Street and Avenue of the Americas called “Bangkok Thai Street Food by Tuk Tukk Boy.”

Lunch: Thai food c/o Bangkok by Tuk Tukk Boy on 43rd and 6th Ave

I’ve been craving their Thai Shrimp Dumplings which I had already featured here before, but this time, I tried their Chicken Basil without the rice.  (Yes, I’m starting my diet unofficially, in baby steps.)

It was yummy as is, but would have been even yummier with rice.  I loved that it was spicy and yet not overpowering.  I got a little extra chicken because I didn’t get any rice to go with it.  (Thanks, Boy!)

 Thai Street Food on 43rd and 6th

I wanted to disappear into a corner in the airconditioned public area across from my building, but all seats were taken by people who were lounging around after the lunch hour rush. I didn’t want to go into the park, so I went instead to the open seating behind my building where I ate my lunch under the sun. It was pleasantly cool — and the sun wasn’t scorching. I really should do this more often.

 

Daily Prompt: Silver Linings

Daily PromptWrite about something you consider “ugly” — war, violence, failure, hatred — but try to find beauty, or a sense of hope, in your thoughts.

Epic failure.  We’ve all heard that phrase at one time or another, usually in reference to a sarcastic remark or a taunting retort to something that didn’t quite work out as we had hope it would.

Between the examples above (although I am aware that I need not confine my post to the exact words in the prompt): “war”, “violence”, “failure’, “hatred” — “FAILURE” speaks to me in capital letters, loud and clear.

But I want to focus more on the lessons learned and the so-called silver lining behind all that had happened.

I can say that whatever failure I had come across, I am grateful that I can say now that I know myself better, and I look at the world with more pragmatic eyes.  (or jaded?)  I have mellowed many grades down, learning how to fade into the background instead of being in the spotlight where I used to be.  No, it’s not the background, I’ve become part of the audience.  I watch and listen.  And I just watch and listen.

In the same way that we usually underestimate ourselves, there are many respects where we often overestimate our capabilities.  Sometimes it takes a personal failure for us to get a better grasp of who and what we really are.  It is what we do with what we learn and what we find after the dust has settled that gives us that silver lining.

Speaking for myself, I like the mellowing down.  It’s given me a more practical view of life.  I am not wont to go for the fairy tale endings anymore.  HAPPY is no longer spelled in capital letters.  I’ve learned to appreciate the regular happy things — the smaller signs that someone up there is watching out for me — and I savor that and say thank you.  I’ve learned to appreciate who and what I am, realizing that the years have changed me, and what I used to be is just that – WHAT I USED TO BE.

I’ve learned to rely more on myself in the absence of friends who used to be around every waking moment.  The silence has helped me listen to my own thoughts instead of regurgitating someone else’s.  The silence has made me appreciate the presence of those who, while they may be silent themselves, are forever present in my life.

Failure can either break you or make you stronger, and while I have to admit I have been broken in some respects, I’d like to think it has made me a better person, if only because I have “come down to earth” so to speak, looking at the world with more pragmatic eyes.   Blog Graphic for Daily Prompt Post: Silver Linings

Staying put this Sunday

By late last night, I had decided NOT to go to Springfield, MA for Heirloom’s West Springfield Rubber Stamp and Paper Arts Festival this Sunday — this, despite the fact that I had been “dreaming” of being in craft heaven today.  I just hated the fact that I’d have to wake up earlier than I even do during the work week.  Saturdays and Sundays are precious for the extra hour or so to just vegetate and catch up on sleep.

There is always a next time, and there’s Amazon.com.  I received three products I ordered in the mail yesterday, and seeing my new dies convinced me I had enough to keep me busy over the weekend.   I got the Spellbinders S5-154 Shapeabilities Expandable Patterns Botanical Swirls Die Templates (on the left below) and the Spellbinders S5-148 Nestabilities Decorative Labels Eight Die Templates (picture on the right).

In addition, I got another one of my Ranger DYC-33882 Dyan Reaveley’s Dylusions Collection Ink Spray, Lemon Zest which should make for a good addition to my current stash of spray inks.

I figured I could always order online and just wait for it to arrive at my doorstep.  That way, I control the expense better and I don’t get carried away with all the fantastic demos I see in the craft fair!

I am going to color some plain white envelopes for a zentangle envelope swap over at Swap-bot.  I am just postponing “staining” my nails which is a natural consequence of using these inks.  I also want to do more of my Philippine Map postcards to make room for spoilage.  (My most recent attempt in writing the lyrics of the Philippine National Anthem as background cost me two prepped backgrounds.) 

Sometimes we really just have to take the time to slow down and recharge.  Yesterday was a good day to do that because of the scorching heat in New York. (And summer isn’t even here yet!)  Plus, I had to help the little tyke do a project for school which, I’m happy to say, turned out quite well.

I’m looking forward to the week ahead.  So you might actually see samples of projects done with my new “tools” — and I might even get to post in the shop again over at Gotham Chick (on Etsy).  I’m inspired because of a recent sale.  Time to get crafting again!