Monday Musings: Afterstorm Thoughts

MondayMusingsLogoI wanted to write during the weekend but all-day and all-night snowstorms tend to turn down my energy levels to an all-time low.  So no, I didn’t get to do a Friday Five update from last week’s list — probably more because I didn’t really have much to say.  But there is hope that list will get done a week late.  But still done.

I tried to take a walk yesterday but there was still #snow everywhere. This #firehydrant in front of my place is usually my #meterstick when it comes to the #snowfall. He's buried deep as you can see. Not looking forward to walking out to catch the busIt snowed, and it snowed and it snowed.  Most people from where I come from (where we do NOT have snow and where it is HOT all year round even when it’s coolest in December) dream of seeing snow and witnessing the snow falling.  I did, too, when I first got here and I got a big snowstorm to make that wish come true during my first winter.  Then I had to walk out the day after the storm because someone was sick and I just felt I had to go get some tea.  So I went out in the snow and got some tea from the grocery behind our apartment. It was then that I realized it wasn’t all that pretty—and I lost my love for snow after that.  It’s one of those things that you wish would fall so you could enjoy it and then magically disappear.  Alas, it doesn’t.

Because it’s cold it usually lingers.  And when it warms up a tad, the snow melts and then freezes into ice.  I don’t know about you but I like walking without having to worry that I will fall, and I have fallen a few times.  I am thinking of the warmer climes of Manila and wishing the snow away.  While the sun finally showered us with so much needed sunshine yesterday and today, just because so much of it fell, I don’t think the snow is going away anytime soon.  There are mountains of snow in the city taller than you and me.  (Of course, I’m a short 5’2″. )  Then again, Mother Nature might relent.

Peasant Pasta, my go to comfort food.  I gave up rice decades ago, but I have always had a love-hate relationship with pasta.  I love to eat it and I can cook it well. Of course I have to be firm with myself when I actually am on a diet — because pasta is anathema to any cleanse or weight loss regimen.

For all the ingredients and cooking secrets (like how to make it sweet like the Jollibee spaghetti even my little tyke loves), my favorite pasta is actually a simple mix of pasta dressed with olive oil or butter and sprinkled with black pepper and a ton of parmesan cheese.  I went into the weekend ready, and I cooked up some for one of the meals during the storm.

  •  I cook enough pasta for one serving in, believe it or not, a tiny sauce pan.  I had read up somewhere that you don’t really have to have a huge pot boiling.  You just need to estimate the pasta you need, cut it up in the appropriate size to fit in the itsy-bitsy pan and fill it with water to cover the pasta.  Make sure to stir during the first 60 seconds to stop it from adhering and be sparing with the olive oil.  I don’t salt my pasta because I have a bland palate.  (I even do my eggs the same way — no salt AT ALL.  Gasp.)
  • I don’t rinse my pasta but just drain it.  (Pasta for one goes straight into my bowl, and I find that rinsing helps only if you intend to store the pasta leftover for use with a different sauce or more sauce later.)  While still hot, I put a slice of butter, sprinkle some pepper and then toss to coat the pasta.
  • And the final touch — grated cheese to your heart’s desire.  I don’t toss the cheese with the pepper or the oil/butter because I find that it tends to clump together and gets concentrated in some of the pasta.  I do it at the end.
  • Eat heartily.

Somehow, just writing that up made me hungry again.  And I have sworn off pasta for until my next “break” in between phases.  That might be a while.

Social media can be a blessing and a curse.  I’m including this here as a reminder to myself that this is one post I must write about one day soon.  So many secrets have been spilled via social media.  Don’t you just hate how you can stumble on to something you wish you never knew about or found out — but it was just there for all the world to see, and turns out, you were the last to see it?

One can deny the truth to death, but beware of exif data on those snapshots.  And everything online is dated — even if Instagram makes you calculate by number of weeks passed, you’d eventually arrive at a proximate timeframe within a week’s window.  Which reminds me how just a little more than a year ago, I received one such picture of what would have been easily deniable without the photo evidence.

The universe listens and when it speaks, it’s our turn to pay attention.  It’s so uncanny how right at that moment when you feel your grip slipping, something mundane or ordinary chimes in and reminds you to keep your focus on the positive instead of dwelling on the other side.  Silly hats and unexpected hellos that remind you that for every person who hurt you or broke your heart, you found two or three who blessed your life with their friendship and love .  It’s as if the universe heard your anger boiling up inside and decided to send a refreshing breeze your way to remind you about the good things that came out of all the tears and the pain.

And you end your day thinking “Yes, I’m in very good place.”
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A matter of faith

Ash WednesdayI went for ash at a nearby parish which was a short walk from my building, like I had done the last 3 years.  There was this pair of ladies on the church stoop with a camera on a tripod, and I was curious but had secretly hoped they wouldn’t stop me for whatever it was they wanted to ask.  But stop me, they did.

They were doing market research and putting together a documentary in the process, and would I be willing to answer a few questions about Ash Wednesday for a talent fee of $10.  I don’t know what made me sign the release form pronto, but I said yes, took off my shades, and waited as they got set up with the rest of New York walking past me.   I was lucky that it was a sidestreet and not a main thoroughfare, but this being New York City, the traffic was pretty brisk during the lunch hour.

From the first question of what is Ash Wednesday to whether or not the Pope’s admonition about Ash Wednesday brought me here (and no, it did not — I go for my ash whoever the sitting pope is) — I’m glad I took the time to answer the questions, because it was a reaffirmation of what I have grown up to believe all my life about my religious leaning.

Like all other surveys and interviews, there is that question that sticks with you:  “How would you define faith?”  And spontaneously, I replied, “It’s believing in something or someone, a higher power or being even if you cannot see Him or physically feel him.”

That is the kind of faith that I am trying to teach my son, and it’s a kind of faith that you cannot give to someone if you don’t have it in your heart. 

I did a Lenten fast yesterday which was rare and not easy for me, but I made it through the day with a few slices of bread and water.  At night, I made do without the meat and had grilled cheese.  For the season, I’m trying to give up red meat.  So far, so good.

This Lenten season is more solemn to me for many reasons, and I want to make the most of this season or repentance and renewal and flesh out my relationship with God.  Faith has always been a very personal aspect of my existence, and while I wear my faith on my sleeve literally, what goes on and what I think and say to Him stays between Him and me. 

I am also trying to find the courage to forgive and to not let anger or pain crowd my heart.  It is not easy but I know it is the only way to find my way to inner peace and calm.  I try to be more introspective now, thinking before I say or do something — and reminding myself of what is right and just according to His word.  I am trying.  I am praying.

The past few months have seen me feeling closer to my God and I have never been more reassured of His presence in my life than at this time.  I feel blessed. 

I wish you all the blessing of that kind of presence and reassurance, and hope that the Lenten season will find you having a closer and more meaningful releationship with Him.

I wish I could…

It’s another Friday — and a super cold Friday at that.  I took this snapshot of my favorite fountain here in Bryant Park this noon on the way to pick up lunch and a few odds and ends for a weekend project at the bead stores.  As you can see, the Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain is freezing up again and will likely be another elegant ice sculpture over the weekend, more so when we get some snow again from Sunday into Monday.

The Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain all frozen

I can never tire of taking pictures of this gorgeous fountain.  It’s not one of our more majestic ones but it has it’s own reason to be proud as a source of beauty in this great city.

I’m waxing poetic, I know.  It’s been a long and tiring week for me.  I feel as though many parts of my life were put on hold due to the rest taking it over.  I have even missed a day here and there on Instagram.  (THAT busy!)

I haven’t quite moved as progressively as I had wanted in the fronts I had hoped to work on.  I wish I could… but sometimes, you just get paralyzed from all the movement and find yourself moving and not moving at the same time.  There are the projects and homework to finish.  He takes precedence, of course.  At the end of the day, I had wished I could just finish dinner and curl up in bed and lay down to sleep.  But there have been many late nights and no reprieve from being the first to wake up the next day.  Tomorrow, I will get my chance — I hope.  Even just an extra hour would do wonders.

I wish I could just sit in the park and watch the world go by but it is too cold to do that.  There are many thoughts crowding my head that at times, something as trivial as playing slot machine games (just for play, not for money) on my iPhone helps to bring me down to a quiet calm. 

I haven’t written much.  None of the letters I had hoped to write have been written.  Rereading those two sentences made me sigh deeply at the thought that my world seems to be stuck at a certain point even if I know I’m moving in all directions.  Sometimes we get so busy that we end up seemingly standing still even if we aren’t. 

But it’s Friday. 

And although it’s another winter weekend — I hope to do a few things and hopefully report back with something accomplished.

I am looking forward to a restful weekend with the family.  No real plans as of now except to get  a treat from my boy who promised me a present for all the help with his school projects.  He was being overly generous but I told him I’d be happy with some polymer clay or other odds and ends.  He said as long as it’s at least $50.  That’s my boy who promised mom a diamond ring when he’s working already.  (And if he doesn’t have a girlfriend yet.)

Have a good weekend, everyone!

A Wintery Friday

This has got to be the longest winter yet, not because it is literally long but because the snow just keeps coming. What’s worse is that it’s been so cold that not only are we accumulating snow because it has been coming storm after storm after storm, but because we haven’t had high enough temperatures to allow the previous storm’s snow to melt.

Friday was the worst because we already had inches of snow that got a foot more over a 36 hour period. I wasn’t surprised that the car service company told me they weren’t taking reservations and couldn’t promise they would have anything by the time I needed it to bring Angelo to school and get dropped off at the bus stop.

Oh, and did I mention I had helped him make a newspaper project which we had to bring to school this same morning?
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For all of you who like snow, I agree that it looks beautiful when it’s freshly fallen and you see all the undisturbed white. But then it changes when you have to walk on it, snowboots or no snowboots.
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It was just beautiful and quite a relief to see blue skies above for a change.  We’ve been having grey and muggy skies of late and it helps when the sun is out in full force.  Not only does it lift your spirits up but it helps to temper the cold on the ground.
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This even as the sun was just rising at a few minutes past 8am.  I walk past this bike path in a park behind my son’s school to the nearer bus stop.  It meant moving two stops back, but I couldn’t risk the icy and slushy walk to the one I usually take.  I figured it was easier to go this way.

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Every time I walk through this path, I can’t help but take pictures of this patch of trees — green in the spring and the summer, fiery during the changing of the colors of fall, and bare yet elegant in the winter months.

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Layered and all bundled up, I walked with my gloves and I trudged through the snow.  There were little things that had fallen after the storm and nestled snuggly into this soft bed of white.
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Part of the walk still had undisturbed snow.  I had to take a picture before my trail marred this undisturbed carpet of white.  This is a normally flat sidewalk with grass on either side, but the previous week’s snow was a few inches high, and both the walk and the sides got a generous snowfall that made it look like there was a foot-tall embakment.

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And finally I crossed the highway to my stop.  This is an eerie shot of the sun continuing to rise behind another thick cover of bare trees in the foreground.  Still I cannot help but keep taking shots although I’ve done this many times.  The concrete is glistening with melting snow.  It looks like it just rained but that’s actually the ice melting away.  Slow, though, it may be.

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I can’t believe they’re saying we’re going to get some snow today.  Yesterday’s skies were prettier — now all I have is another shade of grey above.  We’re home sitting warm and toasty — the thing with snow and rain is it warms the atmosphere up, save for the natural cold that you feel from snow still on the ground.  (Imagine how dry ice cools something in your cooler.)

Winter is a photographer’s dream come true but it stops being a pleasant one once you try and go about your normal day with the snow all around you.  I got into the city eventually.  The snow is not as beautiful as it is down there because they plow the roads quicker, and the sidewalks are cleared faster.  (There is a law that property owners must take care of the public spaces around them within four hours from the end of a snowstorm.)

No more snow, please.  Keeping my fingers crossed I get my wish.

Purple Hearts and Vintage Books

I spent part of the weekend sitting at my little craft corner. I think I managed to move a few things, find my pasta machine (for the polymer clay), gather up my polymer clay stash, even tried to run some scraps through the machine. I attempted a stroppel cane but didn’t quite get anywhere and I think what I came up with was nowhere near what a stroppel cane should look like. (So I guess I’ll try again.)

I didn’t quite get to the jewelry making although most of my supplies are within arm’s reach. I need to reorganize the bits and pieces that are out in the open and get them in the proper organizer box. (Might try tonight.)

Purple HeartMeanwhile, over my lunch break, I managed to condition and mold these two polymer clay hearts in purple. Pretty. =) I have had this project brewing in my little brain to create hearts to be made into pendants and pins to raise funds for Tacloban. They are trying to get up on their feet but are nowhere near it, and this is going to be a long-term effort. I’m inspired by the efforts of Dr. Ron Lehocky with the Heart Pin Project he’s been running for years for the Kids Center for Pediatric Therapies. For now, it’s a thought.

Over the weekend I was at Strand Bookstore where I managed to grab five antique books in their outdoor bargain book shelves while waiting for my stylist.  I wanted to stay longer and browse some  more but time was up.  I will write about this separately and just wanted to pique your interest by showing you this haul:

My Vintage Book Haul from Strand Bookstore

My original intention really was to pick up books whose pages I can use for crafting since vintage book pages are all the rage.  I picked up one in French (which is so brittle that its pages are crumbling in my hands) and two in German.  The first appealed to me because of the language, the second because of the typeface.  There was another interesting book in German which, again, appealed to me because of the typeface.  Then I saw a 1915 print of “The New Poems of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning”.  And then there was a book of Irish Love stories that had a pretty border on each page.  That plus the fact that love stories would mean words I might be able to use for blackout poetry.  Five books, $10.00 for the entire haul.  Book heaven!

So my week has begun.  How has yours been so far?

It’s been very cold in New York although I’m biting my tongue on whining about the weather since I’m sure other parts, like Lou’s, are probably getting hit with more snow and even colder temperatures.  Can you believe we’re halfway through February?  Well, almost. 

February 14, 2014.  That can be written as 2/14/2014  — double pairs of 2s and 14s.. Hmmmm… My brain stops there.  Let me leave you with that.

Friday thoughts

I have been itching to write since this morning but had to wait until the lunchbreak hit — and so here I am.  (I’m trying to instill discipline so I can get more work done.)   I usually write the title of the post, but I have no idea what to call this one, because I have a hundred things I want to write about. 

Change of plans.  You know how you peg your calendar on someone’s plans and look forward to something nice like a very light and relaxing week — then that someone (the boss) changes HIS plans.  So I’m twiddling my thumbs trying not to let it get to me.  He was supposed to go on a trip then changed his mind.  I guess it means it’ll just be another regular work week.  I’m just glad I haven’t set up any lunch dates, but I am hoping I can find time to spend even just a quick one with cousin M somehow.

Feeling the love at work.  The boss did make my day with a stellar review which makes me feel appreciated indeed.  Of course we can always hope for more (chaching!) but I SHOULD be happy and AM happy about the figures I saw on my comp sheet.  (God is good!)  I always remind myself that I am more than fortunate to (1) have a job in these uncertain times, (2) have THE job that I have, given how huge this organization I work for is, and (3) that I feel secure where I am, although I am never one to get complacent.

Missing home again.  I’m over the denial of Mom’s visa renewal.  We’re making other plans.  Still, I miss home terribly.  Thinking about the bibingka with quezo de bola at Via Mare… halo-halo at the Peninsula.  Even just the hot air.. the hot pandesal (which is tops on my boy’s list)… sigh.   I still dream of the day when I can spend a birthday back home… someday.

Freezing cold in NYC!  I went out to grab lunch for the boss and maybe a treat for me, but I had to go out and rush back in because the air was frigid.. BAD!  I couldn’t wait to go  back inside the warm confines of my cubicle.  (Forget that there is such bad static on the floor we actually see the sparks fly.)

Happy Friday, everyone!  (

Cold NYC

Brrrrrr.....It’s a cold, cold day in New York again, and we’re all looking forward to a long weekend, thanks to the observance of the Martin Luther King Day on Monday.  Any break is most welcome, even if it doesn’t mean much considering the torturous weather we’ve been suffering through the past couple of days.

I stopped by Bryant Park on the way to work and snapped  some pictures before heading up.  It’s not quite as icy as it was last year but it’s cold nonetheless.

So we’re all bundled up and braving the cold, looking forward to the coming of spring.  It can’t come soon enough!

I’ve managed to put away the holiday decorations (hooray!) and have a few hand-wash items to take care of this weekend.  I just want to read, watch my Pinoy soaps (Imortal is killing me!) and relax and recharge through the weekend.  I’m even willing to pass up a day at an indoor waterpark father and son are planning to visit over the weekend to get more things done.

I also want to put together a small packet to send home, as some officers of the company I work for are jetting to Manila to visit our call center operations down there.  About time that we bagged some of these contracts — I’m proud and envious at the same time.  I have made a joke to each officer who I know is going about taking me with them.  I even mentioned to my boss that she should accept any invitation to go and head that way, take the corporate jet, and I don’t care if I have to sit through the whole trip instead of getting one of the reclining beds, I’m going to take any opportunity to go home.

An audible sigh just escaped my lips there.  I am green, green with envy.

It doesn’t matter that I was just there a year ago and most recently, 6 months ago to lay Dad to rest.

One of the officers going made a joke of the security situation and I proudly told him the Philippines is actually one country that really loves Americans.  (So no reason to fear.)

Sunny in Manila and cold in New York.  Maybe thinking of the heat back home will keep me warm here.

Waiting for the snow to start falling…

It’s 10pm and I just finished washing the dishes, cleaning up in the kitchen, plus I even managed to wash one of my self-knitted scarves and Angelo’s beanie.  I have been using a silken ladder yarn scarf but I now realize I need more protection from the elements when the temperatures take a dive.  I have not bought scarves for the winter for a couple of years now because I have taken to knitting my own.  I’m no expert knitter so I tend to experiment with sizing (oversized stitches given a yarn thickness) and then I add trim.  For some of the scarves, the embellishment or “arte” lies in the kind of yarn I actually use.

But paper is what has kept me preoccupied of late.  I opened another store on Etsy dealing primarily with paper — recycling paper in particular and creating gift tags and gift cards, and eventually — hopefully other paper products.  I am researching making hand-made recycled paper and just today, came across a tutorial on making paper beads.  (Talk about combining two of my current passions!)  I even have the paper cut today which caused me to wash with one hand in a latex glove.  (One reason I don’t throw away those disposable gloves that come with your shampoo-in hair dye.)  That’s nothing compared to the multiple cuts my hands suffered from some 14 months ago when I experimented with resin domino pendants.  Hmmmm.. the pendants are still in the experimental stage so no, they haven’t exactly been something lucrative.  At least I have the many lessons I learned in the process.

Snow.. I know I ought to take comfort in the words of my favorite weatherman that it won’t be as bad and as much as the blizzard. Uhm, just 3-5 inches (!) of snow.. I wish I had the same optimism.  Anything beyond a light dusting is cause for frustration.  Then again I must remind myself I live in a part of the world where cold winters like this one are the norm.  (Lightbulb in my head… reminder to self: note to Donna.)

I braved the cold today to walk to Rockefeller Center to take pictures of the Christmas tree.  It was lovely but very cold.  Am I surprised that I seem to have caught a bug?  Nope.  I came all wrapped and snuggly but it looks like it wasn’t warm enough.  (Nothing my throat spray and lozenges cannot handle..)  Christmas in New York is not quite like the all around Christmas spread in Manila, but it has its own charm.

It brings me back to Manila where we all spent Christmas last year, and where Angelo and I had our first New Year’s Eve, me after 9 years of having spent that night in New York.  It was also our first spent apart as Alan had left earlier for home.  I opted to stay behind because Dad was sick.  I extended once and was ready to extend another time, but the flights were full.  I had work and Angelo had school.  So on the 7th, we bid our goodbyes and that was that.

So back to the snow.. =)  At least it’s a Friday, and hopefully, I’ll get to go home early enough.  Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…