Monday Musings on a Wednesday: Pre-Fourth of July

Monday musings in paper and ink

The good news, its been only two weeks since I last hit “publish”. The truth is, I started drafting posts and just didn’t get the chance to actually finish writing any of them. I’m hoping to rectify that this week, but allow me to begin with my favorite way to round up the thoughts racing through my head via my Monday Musings. (This post got stuck in my drafts so I am publishing belatedly.)

Summer blooms

I’m not even going to whine about the fact that the last post was under the same banner. I’ve always meant this to be a bunch of short blurbs of what’s going on in my life on the day I write it. Recently, this seemed to be the easiest way to get around writing a post.

Early start of the day. I found myself getting out of bed at 5am today, and that’s really early for me. I’m actually heading into Manhattan today to work on-site, so I figured I have around a half hour or so to chill and try to write a post. I’m not really a morning person but I find myself waking up earlier than my alarm on the phone. Excited much? I think not. My body has always had this way of waking up just before the alarm rings — one thing I’m glad she hasn’t thrown out of whack! I still thrive in the evenings better than these early hours.

Getting ready for the Fourth of July. I’ve never really been big on this holiday except when I have guests to bring to the fireworks display or what not. This year is different, though, as I’ve been invited by some friends to go on a holiday weekend road trip. I’m pretty excited because we’re doing something I’ve never really done before. It was a rather spontaneous invitation and acceptance that just saw everything falling into place, and I am “in the zone” and all stoked about this adventure. Finally hitting one of my 21 for 2021 goals of taking a trip outside of the Tri-State area. More about this later.

So I’m getting my gear ready and researching the things I can do where I’m going. That’s 5 days of “me”..

All these birthdays. The last couple of days saw some very important birthdays coming to pass which seems to tell me that I have an affinity with folks born during this month. Best friends in Sydney and Hong Kong and some new friends make for a very busy month of greetings. I am blessed to have you all in my life, whether as the friends who warm my heart or being one of the rare people who give me the warm and fuzzies. The latter still makes me smile impishly at the thought, but these days, any reason to smile is something to be grateful for.

I’m off to an exciting week with promises of many new firsts I am looking forward to. More to come..

Fourth of July in the time of Corona

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AThe Fourth of July holiday is one of the most celebrated holidays across religions and states and ethnic and moral persuasions in the US. We literally stop everyday life preparing for and celebrating freedom. It is an excuse to party and go on vacation and just have a good time. Not this year.

With most of the country seeing a surge in cases and deaths, there is not much to celebrate. Here in New York, I’d like to think we’ve been through the worst of it, but I say that with a bit of trepidation knowing the heavy hand of a resurgence can hit us anytime.

After months of working from home, I’ve learned to ease up and start working towards “normalizing”. But what exactly is that during this time when we are living life in such a different atmosphere?

For the first time in many years, the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks display was cancelled. Many New Yorkers, and many Americans in general, contented themselves with local fireworks displays from home or the neighborhood. Nothing quite like the fireworks show of New Year’s Eve back in the Philippines, but loud and celebratory in a different kind of way. It was like America was saying we will celebrate freedom, corona virus or no corona virus — but know we cannot celebrate like we used to.

The subject of Freedom itself is being stretched in all directions in recent months. It’s like a renewed consciousness among a very diverse people who are reacquainting themselves with the notions of race and authority — in very varied ways. I will not get into that here. It is still a very raw subject matter, and I don’t feel I am in a place where I can discuss this for now. In time.

We in New York still feel the threat of the virus very strongly. And I am grateful for that, because I know we’re moving towards getting back to a semblance of normalcy, but with an abundance of caution. I am grateful to be given the option to work from home. I am also grateful that wearing masks is now mandated by stores and other establishments. It has sunk into our consciousness as part of the social norm. If you don’t wear a mask, you risk the ire of other New Yorkers who do, and you will be denied entry into all establishments that require it. That makes it more acceptable to go out and live everyday with less fear, but not without it.

I think fear is a good thing. It makes us take that extra step to ensure that we do not unduly expose ourselves to the risk of infection. The virus is very real and still ravaging parts of the country and the world as a whole. It has penetrated our every day lives in such a pervasive way, that we are rethinking how we go about business and life, in general, with sweeping strokes.

On Friday, my sixteen year old son asked permission to join a group of friends for a Fourth of July gathering where they had fireworks. It was in the neighborhood, and he asked for a just a few hours. My first impulse was to say no. But we have had to be cooped up the last couple of weeks, and I know he wants to see his friends. I have allowed him to go biking or play hoops with a small group of 3 friends from way back. I have instructed him not to go into anyone’s house, and to be sure he wears his mask. All of this is on an honor system, and I’ve reinforced the fact that he has to abide by the rules.

My ex husband has even driven him to a park to meet with three classmates from high school, giving them a few hours to hang out and then driving him back home.

As summer has arrived, my ex and I have agreed to limit these social interactions to one a week. So back to the party.

I immediately communicated my reservations to the ex, but also told him I don’t really want to have my son feeling like he was being deprived of the opportunity to enjoy the summer. With reservations, I told his Dad that maybe we should consider it. My son had name-dropped one of his childhood friends who was going, and I thought I would speak with the mom, whom I knew, just to set parameters. But I didn’t know the host.

I woke up the next morning with a very heavy heart and a resolve to not allow the boy to go. How can you maintain social distancing in a Fourth of July party? It was in a home, not in the park. Parties and such gatherings have been known to become breeding grounds for super spreading, which has led to many infections in other places. I just wasn’t ready to take the chance.

Fortunately for me, the ex felt the same way. For all our differences, parenting is one of the things we still usually agreed upon. We decided not to let him go.

Breaking the news to the boy wasn’t as easy, as he immediately responded with an emotional “Why?”. I tried to explain my reservations, and told him his father and I had agreed with no argument. We felt strongly about it and it wasn’t a risk we were willing to take. These are unusual times. On anormal Fourth of July, we would not think twice about letting him go, but we are far from normal.

He made no pains to hide the fact that he was deeply disappointed. But that was that.

I don’t want to be part of the problem — many people have gathered and broken social distancing rules. It makes me feel frustrated about the fact that relaxing the social distancing norms seem to be so widespread among those who feel they can, because they are being careful. In my mind, no matter how careful you may think you are being, the fact that you are increasing your exposure to infection is diluting your caution.

I still feel uneasy when I encounter people who aren’t wearing a mask, as I walk past them wearing mine. I have resorted to finding alternative walking routes with less traffic, giving up the path in the park during popular times when many joggers and other visitors forego the required mask. I know it’s an open air environment, but that does not mean the absence of the possibility of infection.

The local grocery requires masks and gloves now, and I felt bad that I went in earlier after my walk without the gloves. (Reminder to self: shove a pair in my pockets tomorrow.). I do walk with a small bottle of sanitizer which I either tuck in my leggings pocket or hold with my phone during my usual walk about. Signs are plastered to maintain distancing. Even the neighborhood bagel shops had social distancing in the lines that formed outside. This is the new normal.

So even as we celebrated a different way, we celebrated. We celebrated freedom, even with the constraints of our new normal. Happy Fourth, America!

Crafty Long Weekend

We are rarely blessed with four day weekends like this year’s Fourth of July (last week) and I had long ago decided I will stay home and try to deal with sorting out my craft supplies and projects, with ample time for catching up with the writing here and in my craft blog, Gotham Chick.  In fact, I managed to write something about my return to Polymer Clay there even before I started writing here.  I am trying to apportion my free time between the thousand and one things I want to take care of.. and whatever gets done, gets done.  What I don’t get to do, I will go back to another time.

I used to stress about keeping up and posting all my post-worthy pictures and blurbs all over– and then one day I just paused and stopped.  One thing I found out was that doing that wasn’t actually so bad.  It wasn’t the death of me.  Sure, the instagram followers stayed steady at just over 700.  But I never really set out to be a media influencer with thousands of followers.  I was happy to have a media presence.  And I am keeping it that way.

I can’t be holding my phone typing away when I want to find new ways to do crafts– and to actually make something of the many supplies I had acquired through the years.  I can actually keep crafting without buying anything with the way it is, unless I decide to change the medium of my crafts.  And I’m not planning to do that anytime soon.

I have enjoyed going back to my unfinished projects and planning how to make something new and different from that which I originally intended.  Projects I had discarded as epic fails can now come to life as something else.  It helps that I never throw things away unless I completely ruined it.  The crafty side of me always insists that even something already twisted or baked or formerly wound up can be fashioned into something new and beautiful again.
Work in progress

I found these round or donut-like beads I had made from polymer clay scraps.  Not quite there yet, but I think I’m ready to start working on the next phase.  Photographing them from this angle gives me new ideas to rework or use them, and I am taking this as the “before” pic.

While I have pushed the limit on sleeping late and waking up even later, I feel like I’ve had ample time to recharge and get things done at the same time.  

I finally finished hand rolling one of my silk scarves I had bought a while back.  Thanks to YouTube, I found a nice way to hand sew the edges of this panel fabric featuring a giant flower print.  Considering this was my first attempt, I’m quite proud of the way it came out.  It tells me what to do and what not to do for the next one, but I think it came out neatly even if there is some unevenness in the project.  I will write about that more in the craft blog soon.

I like the quiet pace of a staycation because then going back to work come Wednesday won’t be such a drag.  I’m actually looking forward to it as I prepare for a new chapter at work.  

The weekend has been all about taking care of me and that has given me a chance to breathe.  No special spa day or what not, but simply taking the time to do the things I want and care about at the pace I want to do it has been treat enough.  That’s my kind of a vacation.

Take care of you… 

Celebrating Freedom

Another Fourth of July weekend just ended and we’re heading back to work today.  It’s  one of those Tuesday’s that feel like a Monday and make you wish that the weekend didn’t just end.

I have been here, there, and everywhere with around three posts wallowing in my draft folder here.  So not for lack of trying, but it’s been quite the effort to get something published.  I did go on vacation (yay!) and before I get started on dreaming about that and getting stuck there again, let me just say that Fiji was just paradise!  (Fourth post to be drafted!)

I didn’t have any special plans for the long weekend that just passed, probably due to the fact that I am still “recovering” from the week-long taste of bliss — and I am glad I didn’t push it because I think I finally got rid of the jetlag.  16 hours ahead of New York isn’t that easy to get back from, more so since I plunged back into work the day after arriving at past midnight Monday.

This is is now my 17th Fourth of July celebration  and I’ve mostly celebrated it  just watching the fireworks on television, except the two times when I watched it “live” in the city with my sister in 2001, I believe — (Or might’ve been 2002..), and the last time in 2013 with BFF Donna and her family.  It’s a spectacular show but one which, once you’ve seen it, you can chalk up as an experience under the “been there, done that” category.  It’s just too much hassle to get close to the city on this day of days and then make it back to wherever you came from.

But one thing struck me yesterday as I was reminded by a friend’s Instagram post on how we celebrate freedom in these parts.  She quoted Erma Bombeck who said:

You have to love a nation that celebrates its Independence Day every July 4th not with a parade of guns, tanks and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”

I never took notice until I read this the other day, and I must say it speaks for the American way of life in volumes.  While most Americans are unaware the the basic freedoms they take forgranted are denied many people in other parts of the world, the way they celebrate the birthday of the nation emphasizes the very core of what those freedoms have evolved to: the right to do what they want on this day.

I was a Martial Law baby and I grew up under a regime that has curfews and where the basic right of the writ of habeas corpus was suspended.  That is a concept and a world that many wouldn’t be able to visualize or imagine outside of the Philippines.  Even now, many young people back home hold their strong opinions about the curtailment of those freedoms back then, without actually having experienced their curtailment.  I was not a victim back then and I have my own opinion about whether or not we were better off then as a people, or if we are better off now— but the flood of freedom in a country that lives it as a way of life is not lost upon me.

There is much to celebrate and be grateful for.  Happy birthday, America!!

Thankful

Sometimes colors just come together in an unexpected way at the moment you least expect it in the most unusual place.  #mynyc #mynewyork @onmywaytowork #manhattanskyline #ontheLIEWhen we were children, our parents always admonished us to say “Thank You” and “Please”.  Even now, I do the same to my 10-year-old.  And yet when you look at how we go about our day, there are many things that we don’t say “Thank you” for.  There are a lot of people we don’t get to say “Thank you” to. Sometimes, we crave to hear a simple word of appreciation and we get nary a thanks, when that would have made a world of difference.

This got me thinking the last couple of days and I’m deep into a “Thank You” project.  It’s still in the works so let me leave it at that.  I just find it to be one of those little acts of kindness that can literally mean so much and change the world.

Call it a means of paying forward the blessings I have and continue to be blessed with.  When the challenges seem to be piling up, the best remedy I have come to discover, is actually LITERALLY counting your blessings.  There is so much that we should be thankful for.  And yet as we go about our day, there is so much — and there are so many people — who go unappreciated.  More often than not, we do acknowledge the significance of whatever it is we ought to be thankful for, but we don’t always say it or express our appreciation outright.  How great would it be for someone to send us an unexpected “Thank you”!

I’m pulling together such a project, and I’ll write more about it when I have it in place.

My Thursday feels more like a Friday because of the Fourth of July weekend.  I am actually looking forward to recharging and getting things done — even if we’re not really going anywhere special.  I am also trying to do my Fourth of July weekend differently this year, because the past years have been non-events or days I would rather forget.  So between trying to make ‘new memories’ and trying to forget the bad, I’m trying to focus on other things.  (Like my “Thank You” project.)  Plus, Mother Nature has been pounding us with rain and pummelling us with nasty winds.

Last year was nice because my BFF Donna from Australia was in town.  And yet so many things happened, half of which I didn’t come to find out about until much later, which makes it one of the holidays I am not looking forward to.  So I try and count the positive — trying to keep my outlook bright and praying for the resolve not to give in to negativity.

If you ask me, I’d just like to be by some poolside or beach, sitting in the shade (I am not a sun lover), sipping a cocktail or two, and sleeping the day away.  It’s not even 11pm and I am already raring to hit the sack, so to speak.  Soon.

Still I wish you all a Happy Fourth of July — this great nation is celebrating it’s birthday and toasting the freedom we enjoy today.

Independence Day 2012

Red, White & Blue in Bryant Park (41 Storeys Above) Red, White & Blue in Bryant Park Red, White & Blue in Bryant Park

Red, White & Blue in Bryant Park Red, White & Blue in Bryant Park Red, White & Blue in Bryant Park

Red, White & Blue in Bryant Park Red, White & Blue in Bryant Park Red, White & Blue in Bryant Park

Fourth of July on a Wednesday.  What could be worse?  But I’ll take a day off any day of the week.

Day before the actual holiday, I grabbed the chance to go home early, but not before I grabbed some photos of this installation in the park courtesy of Tide.  (I’ve always believed in giving credit where credit is due.)  Thanks to my photog friend on the floor, Didi, I wouldn’t have even looked out the window and snapped a photo 41 storeys above.

Enjoy the photos.  I don’t quite have an answer to the question posed, but like most Americans, I’d say it means “Freedom” to me.

Happy 4th of July everyone.

Of blogs, friends, and snail mail.. oh, and yes, my Fourth of July weekend

I will try NOT to make this a rambling list, but coming off of a three-day weekend and continuing to be in holiday mode is a little dangerous.  Still, I didn’t want to miss out on the chance to update my corner of the blogsphere.  Happy fourth, everyone!

I was just visiting my favorite artist’s corner, Balzer Designs by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, where I stop by for some bit of inspiration every now and then and what do you know — she was writing about blogging (Some Thoughts on Blogging) which I could truly relate to.  I guess you can say this particular post is part of THAT inspiration.  I feel bad that I haven’t yet started my journey in art journaling just yet, but I might get on with it this July.  (Promises, promises…)  It helps that I am actually seriously considering creating cards for some friends I want to bug all summer long (and beyond) just so we can keep the USPS (United States Postal Service) relevant.

Earlier in the day, I also stopped by for an update on a friend from way back who is doing a great job chronicling her personal journey against the big C in The Evil Crab.  I have known Anna Lisa German-Thomson or Annalee as we called her then and then Chinot as her close friends know her, since our elementary days in St. Paul Pasig — and thanks to Facebook, we reconnected even if we went our separate ways from high school on.  We have popped in and out of each others blogs every now and then, but I must say her new blog has made such a big impact on me.  I hate that I had not been current with my blog hopping nor FB status checking (which, I now realize, is the curse of having too many people on my friend list), and it took me a while to catch on with what Chinot has been up against.  So a few days ago, I sent a card her way (yes, via snail mail) after sending her younger sister who I had know way back when, too, a note requesting for her mailing address.  I know that most people will swear by electronic mail — it’s just that I’m rather old fashioned when it comes to correspondence, more so when I feel a need to have my thoughts travel the distance in a tangible form.  I know it can make a difference and it has made a difference — so I have added another destination for my cards, letters and clippings.  (Someone in Horseshoe Village gets a regular dose.. or is getting a regular dose, too, again.)

The three-day weekend was a good chance to recharge, create, and spend some time with friends doing the winery route in the North Fork of Long Island.  I like picnics because they’re casual and relaxing, but I didn’t come prepared for the sun beyond wearing an almost full-length long sleeve tunic.  End result was sun burn on my neck, and I saved my face from over exposure to the sun by sitting on the side of the picnic table which had my back to it.  Some of Alan’s friends from high school had gathered for a reunion and some fun.

Cheese from Murrays, a small tray of dried fruit, some pepperoni and Saucisson Sec from Freshdirect, ample seedless grapes and fresh strawberries, crackers galore, packed the picnic bag with enough utensils (slicing board, serrated knives for the meats and spreaders for the cheese), ziploc bags, and take out lunch from Panera’s catering menu — and the lovely setting: Martha Clara Vineyards — and we were all set.  The wine was good, the company even better.

We went to Palmer Vineyards for a quick stop, then to Tanger Outlets, and finally dinner at Boulder Creek.  (I was too tired by then that I could only tackle a bowl of french onion soup.)  It was tiring but a lot of fun, and it is always good to reconnect with friends doing the things you like doing.  It was also refreshing to see my seven-year-old interacting with children from Manila — and with fellow Fil-Am children here in New York.

The weekend saw me creating quite a number of pieces for posting in my Etsy shop which should be up soon.  (Will I ever hit 300 items for sale?)  And yes, the button repairs were done quite successfully.  =)  For all the things I consider done over the last three days, I still feel I didn’t quite accomplish everything I wanted to.  I did inch forward slightly reading the latest installment I’m trying to catch up on.  You’d think that spending an afternoon lazing away under the sun in a vineyard would’ve given me time to read.  Nope.

It’s a Tuesday that feels like a Monday.  This is the downside of a long weekend… but there’s work and the rest of life to get on with.  Getting there, getting there…

Coming soon on GothamChick (ETSY)

The Fourth of July Weekend looms ahead

I started writing this post two days ago (Monday) as I was thinking about it being a Monday when I was in a (somewhat) upbeat mood and yet looking forward to the weekend.  We are planning a short weekend trip to Lake George where we hope to spend some fun time together as a family.  We’re even taking my mother-in-law who has been enticed by the change of scenery and the promised fresh air.

I didn’t get any further than that first paragraph and my blog post lay in draft mode. 

I’ve been ticking off a mental checklist in my head, and I am actually going to do a written one today — marshalling my resources and making sure I have everything covered.  I even got a new swimsuit more suitable to my current voluptuous size. (wink)  I am also trying to get together the pantry supplies we will need, as well as trying to cover “entertainment” options.  (Read: downloading my ABS-CBN soaps so I can catch up.)  I would like to see the P-Noy (President Noynoy Aquino) Inaugural or part of it if I can.  (Check.)  I also want to be able to finally finish the English translation of Il Filibusterismo which has been in my living room all this time, and maybe start reading something new.  (I am still trying to get on with “Pride & Prejudice” which came free with the E-reader from Barnes and Noble on my Blackberry.)  I just let out an audible sigh after I realized that I have been no good in the reading department even if I don’t have to buy any new books to read, because I’ve had a dozen or so collecting dust on my bookshelf.

Sunblock, lotion, chapstick.  Snacks, artificial sweetener, water.  Some of these things we will probably get closer to our destination.  (Milk, for one, cannot be lugged from Queens to Lake George — unless I get the UHT variety…)  And the usual stamps and address labels for my postcards.  I am actually thinking about using some vintage postcards of Lake George that I came across years ago and which is part of my New York Postcard collection (vintage and new) and send them home which is what I customarily do whenever we go on a trip. 

I am even working on my scrapbook embellishments ahead (this time) just so I can start some layouts as I go along.  I’m using brown (kraft) paper on this project and am all excited about the different things I’ll be creating.  (Which I hope to share as downloads for those digital scrapbookers who might stray into this part of the blogsphere.)  So let’s see where that goes…