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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Monday Musings: Cold, Cold and Colder

MondayMusingsLogoIt looks like our crisp nice mornings are switching to cold and colder ones with the onset of near freezing temperatures here in New York. I’m trying to be a bit cautious with the layers, though, which is why I think I ended up being underdressed just a wee bit today.  I will live.   Days like this make me miss Manila all the more — even if everyone complains about the humidity and the heat and dreams of snow.  Keep dreaming — it’s not all it’s cooked up to be.  Ha!

So another Monday, another set of musings.

Layering.  We all tend to be in denial when it starts getting colder and try to ‘brave’ the cold thinking “Nah, it’s not THAT cold.”  Then we get hit by the freezing temperatures as we walk out the door.  Vanity has a lot to do with not wearing a suitable hat or cap because we all hate having to go through hat hair after spending time prettying ourselves up for the day. Then there’s that big decision on which coat to wear — do we wear the shorter and handier one or the long and bulky ones that might make us look like we actually want winter to come.

I’ve started taking out my winter scarves and will  be folding away the lighter, autumn ones.  And over the weekend, I started re-knitting one of the long and chunky yarn scarves which I had made last year, and worn only once because I had done it too long.  I’m trying to make it into an infinity scarf and I’m almost a third of the way through.  Totally excited!

I’m also putting away my ballet flats and polishing my leather boots, and gathering all other winter wear musts.  (T-shirts to wear under the sweaters, sweaters to layer, and gloves to wear.)

Getting ready for my tree.  I have an artificial tree which I assemble and disassemble every year.  I’ve already started clearing that part of the living room where it usually stands and will hopefully be able to put it up this weekend.  In the meantime, I’m making a mental note to look for the christmas balls we had done by color motif each year and fashion some window decor out of them for an additional festive feel.

New York City is getting into holiday mode and the tree in Bryant Park is already up.  I haven’t had the chance to browse the stores and visit, but I hope to feature that here in a forthcoming post.

But before Christmas comes Thanksgiving.  I am not so big on Thanksgiving but Angelo has requested I cook dinner (or lunch) this year.  He’s not particularly into turkey, so we’re going with chicken instead.  It’ll  be a simple dinner but I want to start a new tradition where we say to each other what we are thankful for.  I know that this year has been a challenging but very rewarding one for me, so my list will be rather long.  Or maybe not.

I was planning to make my famous leche flan tonight and had even stopped by the grocery to pick up some limes, but I didn’t realize I was out of condensed milk.  So I guess I am going to have to disappoint the girlfriends counting on their llanera of this Filipino version of the versatile flan.  I will have to make something else for dessert.  I’m thinking some homemade mango ice cream I will make out of regenerated dried mangoes and vanilla ice cream.. Yum!!

I have started saying my “Thank you”‘s.  We always give thanks in general when Thanksgiving can be made even more meaningful by saying thank you to the people who deserve it.  So this morning I texted a friend who is bound for warmer climes with the family this Thanksgiving holiday and simply said that “the friendship we shared was one of the things I am most thankful for in the past year, and I want you to know that that means a lot to me.”

What are you thankful for?  Ah, yet another blogpost.

And so the snow came…

And the white stuff keeps falling.. At its prettiest before everything turns horribly cold.  For all the griping we do against it, #snow is one of Mother Nature's breathtaking gifts to us if we only stop a while to see the beauty in it. #snowfall #onmywayYesterday was one of those days that made me pine for Manila.  Trudging through the snow in the morning and literally climbing in and out of it on the way home is one of the things I hate most about winter.  And forget having to worry about stepping on freshly plowed snow or snow that had turned to ice, and it’s one treacherous walk.

It is a pretty sight as it falls and starts blanketing the surroundings.  But pretty, like in real life, fades eventually.  Slush and ice, not necessarily in that order, often supersede the vision it started out as Mother Nature takes over.

So it’s another Friday –can you believe that?  And we’re into March.  That’s  quarter of the year passing us by.  I’m not even going to ask where it went.  I’m at that point in my life when I actually appreciate the passing of time instead of trying to fight it.  Maybe it’s me mellowing down.
The New York Public Library under half a day's worth of #snow and it's still falling. #CantWaitForSpring to get here. #NYPs #manhattan #mynyc #mynewyork #winter #winterinnewyork #cold #snowstillfalling #midtown #bryantparkOne of the departments under my boss has gathered its global heads and is holding an offsite in the city.  The boss made a joke about what they’re doing in New York during this unfortunate time — but the truth was, more than half of them couldn’t be happier to be here right now because they have never experienced snow like this in their respective countries.  Like us in Manila.  It can be such a thrilling experience to be in a snowstorm the first time, watching and feeling the snowflakes fall and watching it accumulate around you.  A typical New Yorker would probably not find that experience as awesome, but to those in countries where snow doesn’t even exist, it can be the experience of a lifetime to watch that for the first time.  Well, they got their fill.  We got a LOT of snow.
Ice and snow laden pine needles after the snowstorm.  Pretty in the cold.  Trying to see the positive in all of this.  #winter #winterinnewyork #iceandsnow #onmywayhome

We’re also springing forward this weekend, and we will now be effectively 12 hours, instead of 13 hours, behind Manila now.  That means the longer days will be upon us soon — and I can only wish that spring can finally come and be truly present.

I’m trying not to get too excited about April.  Last year, it was one of the worst times I’ve ever seen of the month, and I’m determined to make things better this year, even if by my own efforts alone.  It means pushing down expectations, and making the “good” happen instead of waiting for it to happen.  I’m turning 49, can you believe that? =)  Not quite the big five-oh yet, but getting there..   And while I thought years ago that it would be something I would dread, I’m actually looking forward to it.  Life has a funny way of mellowing one out (or driving one to panic — depending on how you look at the passage of time), and I like where it’s taken me this past six months or so.

It is true that things did get better.  You know how you hate it when in the midst of all the turmoil, the bearers of cheer and good tidings keep harping on how things will get better?  I’m way past that now and actually nodding my head in agreement.  I’m not quite over the worst, but I think I’m in a much, much better place today compared to a year ago.

I have much to be thankful for.  Yes, despite all these winter blues. =)  Like this.
Looking eastward: my midtown cityscape glows as the snow threatens to fall from the skies. Gorgeous nightscape.. Can't believe I almost said goodbye to all these once upon a time.  I'm here to stay.. #midtown #midtowneast #mynyc #mynewyork #cityscape #man

It is a beautiful city, and it has been a part of my life for a good third of my existence now.  It’s brought me my greatest joys and biggest heartaches.  I used to think about leaving — for good.  But I think I’ve settled down to the idea that I am here to stay.  My little boy is turning 11 this May — I have a long ways to go before I can think of going some place else.  Though I try to fight it, I have to keep reminding myself that he IS an American.  This is his world, and this is where he wants to be.  This is where he should be.  So here is where I will stay.

I’m looking forward to a “ME” weekend.  Let’s see how that goes.. Happy Friday, everyone!

 

Five things to be thankful for.. on a freezing Tuesday

Wouldn't be complete without Maison Kayser's pistachio eclair. Taste of heaven! #maisonkayser #foodporn #foodtrip #foodtreat #pistachioeclair #midtown #mynewyork #manhattan #40thstreet #lunch #withPeterOI am trying to focus on the positive as I just saw that temps outside are in the single digits.  I am already mentally planning my winter attire today, including how many layers I will be wearing top and bottom.   In the meantime, let me get started and hopefully jumpstart my optimism quotient by typing away.  Again, I try to write this as spontaneously as possible to keep it simple and just so it comes from the heart.

1.  Pistachio eclairs from Maison Kayser.  I’m supposed to be on a diet but I did indulge with Peter O last Saturday and am so tempted to go and drop by later today to grab another one.  If you haven’t tried them, they are absolutely to die for.

2.  Warm winter clothes that make me look fab anyway.  (LOL)  I have had a difficult time trying to look fashionable with my one size bigger winter coats which make me look frumpy.  My favorite fuschia pink coat also needs a replacement.. in the right size.  But I am so happy they keep me warm.

3.  Baileys.  I think of Baileys and I think of as close to chocolate heaven as I can get, but I’m resisting the urge to grab a bottle.

4.  Angelo texting me “I like to text.  I love you, Mama.”  He recently got his own iphone and is happily texting away, in COMPLETE sentences, mind you!

5.  Thinking about being in Manila in a couple of weeks time.  Just plain bliss.

Bundle up and hope everyone has a nice day.. I know I will have one..

Monday Musings: Rain + Snow =”Me not happy”

Monday Musings are snippets of what’s going on in my mind as the week begins.  It’s not meant to be a coherent post.  It’s mostly a list for my own consumption.

Yes, the snow did come!  We had snow last night and the weathermen didn’t disappoint this time.  I sense they are being modest with their forecasts because of the brouhaha over last week’s “over-forcecasting of x feet of snow”.  Really.  I can’t understand why people are complaining that we didn’t get buried in what was being broadcast as one of the worst snowstorms in New York history.  Me, I’m just grateful that it was what it was.  I got a snow day which I didn’t mind at all — even if it meant being cooped up at home.  I still don’t like the “after” — slush and ice but it warmed up quickly enough that I didn’t have to worry too much about slipping as I walked outside.

Today’s snow is mixed with rain, though, so while back home in Manila, people would think of that as something akin to the snowcone (which is like our Italian Ice here in New York), what actually happens is a sheet of ice forms being that temperatures dip mixing the ice and the rain, instead of the rain melting the snow.  Perfect equation for Dinna slipping on her way home.  (Fingers crossed!)
Snow never stopped New York City.. The lights burn bright illuminating the snow-topped buildings.  It's actually a pretty sight from my perch.  It tells me how cold it might possibly be but I'm all bundled up.  Keep warm!  #mynewyork #snowneverstoppedNYC

Creating again.  I stayed home all weekend, most of the time with my fleece blanket keeping me warm on the living room sofa.  I didn’t really nap — I think.  Not much.  I also managed to do more than just journaling — I did backgrounds.  What’s more, I created this pendant from a fancy half strand of Rose Quartz faceted nuggets, and one of five fancy cut pink quartz puffed square beads I bought ages ago for quite a price, but had no idea what I would do with it.  Angelo was amazed at what I came up with in what he thought was such a short period of time (only half the afternoon, thank you) — but the truth of it is, it took me around 4 attempts until I was happy enough not to cut the wire and disassemble the piece to try again.

I need to get used to my pliers again and find my wire.  (I only found the gauge 30 artistic wire which was too thin and I didn’t want to crochet wire this time. It took me awhile to decide between the gauge 22 and 24.  I finally settled on the latter.)

I needed the creative outlet because I was deep into a document that was being thrown back and forth, and which, for all it’s simplicity, was giving me the biggest throbbing headache I hadn’t known in more than a year.  (Yes, the ghosts of unresolved dilemmas from that far back can come back with a vengeance that not even Aleve can help me with.)  I could’ve gone on and on but Sunday afternoon saw me deciding to postpone it and give my tired mind (and heart) a break.  I wrote back that I will give a response this week.  The world will not stop turning, waiting for my reply.  I have one all written up, but it was too snarky and might muddle the peace process.

That’s when I decided I was going to make myself a Rose Quartz Pendant I’ve aptly named “Heal my Heart.”  (Note to self: post about the piece in the other blog.)
Pendant: "Heal my Heart" In Rose quartz and #pinkquartz - happy to be creating again, this time a piece to wear.  Gemstones are touted to have different properties and energy.  #RoseQuartz is touted to be both a #StoneofLove and a #HealingStone.  Large fa

I’m beginning to miss Target.  I usually go there every other week.  I’m going to miss going there for a bit because I don’t drive.  I remember Lou telling me there will always be cabs and other ways to go –if I need to go — until the little tyke is big enough to drive me.  And yes, there’s Target online, after all.  It won’t let me go through the make up and all (which is a favorite to-do.. what’s the latest shade, latest product.. let me get that one, and that one!), but when you really think about it — I can always go to the local neighborhood drugstore and pick up my stash from there — at least the ones I don’t get from the department stores.  And let’s not forget Sephora which is everywhere around me in the city.

As for Michael’s, thankfully, there’s one nearby that I can commute to.. even closer than the one in the city that is commutable from work.  I will survive.. “for as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive… ” .. Okay, enough of the singing.  The rain is bad as it is. LOL

I need to seriously diet again.  Luckily, I haven’t gained weight.  The sad thing is, I haven’t lost any beyond the half pound I gain and lose depending on how much chocolate I ate.  I have to get serious about this because the wedding is in April, and I am slated to buy my gown, in say, 6 weeks.  (I’m going to be a Ninang to the groom who is my godson in baptism.  A favorite one, at that!)

I’m so excited about this trip home for many reasons, primarily because it’s my birthday gift to myself.  (Jumping up and down for joy!)  And like Ces had told me last year, if I ever need loving, all I needed to do was go home because there was a whole lot of that back there from her and from the family.  I can’t wait.  Even if my last trip home was just December 2013, it seems like it’s been forever and a day.

But back to the weight loss saga, it’s a toss up between seriously plunging into the crash phase of The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep It Off Forever (again) which has worked for me (lost two sizes and its the same diet that is helping me not gain any weight..) or do this new program about doing 21-day cycles.  (Purchase plus commitment to do 30-minute workouts daily.  Might work..)

TO MAKE YOU FEEL MY LOVE: Notes, Chords and all.  Yes, I did it.  Just bought it from Music Notes today…  Then I had to think about whether or not I would transpose to a lower key which, after whispering the song in the lowest possible volume to myself in 2 keys higher than the original and one key lower, I realize is the better one to sing to —  hence, the one I should endeavor to study.  Next step, find me a rehearsal studio.  With all the crappy weather this week, I think I’ll target next week for the first hour.. or maybe this weekend.  (I  have a “ME” weekend coming up..)

Of course, I’m no Adele — but she does sing at a relatively lower key that is manageable for trying hard singers like me.  But more than just the singing, I want to PLAY the song!  Lou (from Chicago), is offering me her piano for free.  I WISH!!!!  I would gladly take that off your hands, if I could, but getting that from there to here would be such a herculean task that I will have to pass up on the offer.  (SADLY.)

First Monday of February.  Where did January go?  I’m actually grateful that the month has passed.  It makes me feel like I’m actually moving forward.  Maybe it’s just because I’m in the middle of something I’ve been told will take a tad longer than I would want to give it time to be completed.. but that is beyond my control.  The passing of the months is actually comforting, because then, the longer period of time I’ve been told to expect will be done in no time at all.  Patience, Dinna — I tell myself.  It has never been one of my stronger suits.

Compassion comes from the strangest of places.  I had a talk with a lady who, in her professional capacity, gives out compassion in buckets every single day.  I tried to be cool and collected, laughing through her inquiries, and yet trying to let her know I’m really at a loss as to what I’m supposed to do.  I spoke, she listened.  Then in a very calm way, she told me I should take care of me.

She gave me her professional opinion.  Again, I listened.  And I stood calmly, clutching my phone to my ear, and my mind to my heart.

“It is important that you take care of yourself,” she said.   Hearing that from someone I only knew professionally, somehow felt like a warm hug to the heart — on this day when I am trying to bundle up against the cold of winter, and when I am trying to find my balance as the road starts to get uneven and steep, those words came like the crutch I needed.

Time to brave the cold.  Bundle up, New York!
Snowy morning in Bryant Park.. The ground hog said six more weeks of this!  Lovely to behold but it's another thing to wade through this all layered up... Keep warm, NYC ! #groundhogdayNY #sixmoreweeksofwinter #nyc #mynewyork #manhattan #midtown #wintervi

Monday Musings: Expecting snow yet again

It’s a few minutes past 6am and I have another 15 minutes to let the color mousse in my hair set in — it’s one of those mornings when I have to multitask between breakfast and other routines.  So I thought I’d sit here and write a post in the meantime, and since my brain is still in weekend mode and unable, as yet, to write a full post, let’s do our Monday Musings bit: a collection of snippets I pull together on Mondays.

A good breakfast is having a favorite treat: like giant sesame balls.  I just love sesame balls — or buchi as we call them back home.  I have an Asian grocery a short drive away which has a bakery in house which makes them in this humongous size.  As in tennis ball size!  The only problem is that the Sunday lunch crowd usually grabs them early on, but I was there around 11am yesterday and I managed to get 3.  So I had one for lunch, another for an afternoon snack/part dinner, and one for breakfast today.  Yummy!

So to keep on my weight loss journey, I always switch a treat for a meal or make up for it with extra physical exertion.  That way, I don’t overload on calories and sabotage my fitness goals.  I’m a little disappointed I have plateaued yet again, but I am proud to say I haven’t gained weight despite the occasional indulgence.  This, of course, means that I will have to go on the “shock phase” of my diet yet again to regain my footing and hopefully break through the plateau I’ve hit.

I am thankful for another week — even if they said we’re expecting rain and snow yet again, specifically today.  Everyone back in Manila and in most parts of the world which don’t see snow are so awed by it.  It IS quite a sight when it is falling, more so when it’s a glowing sky above and the snow starts to really accumulate in a thick coat on the ground and everywhere else.  Until you have to walk under it and get to work in the slush or slippery ice. And worse, when things like your iPhone falls on the soft snow and you don’t even hear a thud.  (And it is never returned to you, of course.)

Yes, I lost another phone — and I’m waiting for the replacement.  It’s back to the good old reliable blackberry for me, in the meantime, which I carry anyway as a backup.  The iPhone 5s was on the Good app which was good, but which had to be prompted to refresh unlike the blackberry which keeps refreshing as the mail comes.  The good news is, I’ve been told that the iPhone 6 actually runs on Outlook which should be much, much easier.  (We shall see.)

Again, I hate the hassle of losing almost 2,000 photos on that phone, just when I was about to back it up, having learned from losing thrice that much in pictures the first time I lost one.  (Lesson learned!)

It is heartening to see France uniting against violence in the midst of the terrorist attacks of last week.  I didn’t quite see it but heard about it in the news, and I am sure that the newspapers will be awash with coverage of the weekend demonstrations with the French coming together to show their solidarity as a country sans religious distinctions.  That, to me, was a triumphant declaration that violence will never be tolerated, and that there is a lot of good in humanity out there — no matter how deep the hatred may lie in certain factions of society.

It shows me there is hope that peace will prevail, and that the hand of violence will always be slapped down shackled, if need be, by the voice of the majority.

Of course as a New Yorker, I cannot help but fear that the same things might happen here.  I hope not.  Let this be the one and only incident of such a nature.  That is my prayer.

Well, time to get ready for work.  I hope everyone stays safe.  Let’s say a prayer for those who lost their lives on both sides in the tragic events that occurred in France last week.  Paris is, and will always be, one of my favorite cities.  I hope to one day go back and walk your streets again..

Remembering Paris: one of my rare personal photo treasures -- taken many years ago with a shot from one of the clocks within the Musee D'Orsay showing the Louvre across the Seine.  One day I'll take that third trip to Paris yet and maybe take a better sho

One of my favorite shots of the Louvre from one of the windows outside the clock of the Musee D’Orsay.

 

Work in Progress: Wire Wrapped Earrings

Work in progress: wire wrapped agate earringsI’ve been trying to stir up the creative juices again.  It hasn’t been easy even if I’ve made it a point to sit at my craft corner a few minutes each night.  And then there are nights when I’m just too tired to do even just that. 

I’ve been trying to create polymer clay canes which have proven to be quite the learning experience for me, which I guess, translates to it being a hit or miss kind of thing right now.  Fortunately, it’s a very cheap medium and I have stocked up on it the last 12 months. 

The past two nights, I turned my attention to some wires I had bought before the weekend (which remained untouched because other things preoccupied me), and I started trying to manipulate the gauge 18, 22 and 24 wires just to get a feel for it with respect to what I wanted to do.

The picture you see is one of my more successful attempts at creating a wire-wrapped dangle for an earring which I am trying to get the hang of, and which I want to “execute” as a tighter and cleaner wrapping eventually.  (Like most things, this takes practice.)

You might think the earring above which is the size of a nickel (roughly) is heavy, but it was surprisingly light, using a 10mm round agate bead.  I made the earring hook from the same wire I used to wrap the gemstone. It’s pretty rough but I liked the way it felt as I wore it today. I always make it a point to “test run” my wares, more so if it’s not your ordinary beadwork piece.  My ears are rather sensitive these days but this was comfy and light and didn’t even irritate my skin one bit.  I’m looking forward to doing more of this over the weekend, while at the same time trying to continue to organize my jewelry crafting supplies.

New York is cold again.  I think Mother Nature didn’t get the memo about the forecast for temps up to 51 today so it’s a gloomy Friday that holds no promise for warmer temps.  We’re going up to 39 which is just 7 degrees above freezing so it’s not very promising.  Still, it’s Friday, so I’m going to stop the whining with that.

I have my work cut out for me over the weekend with test prep for the state tests on Angelo’s calendar and mine.  I have the organizing and cleaning up to do over the weekend and maybe I’ll try and get some serious reading done.

Day 3 into Lent and I’ve kept myself clear of red meat.  It was  a bit of a challenge last night as I cooked some spicy skirt steak for Alan, but I stuck to my grilled cheese.  By the way, did you ever try grilled cheese with an ever so thin swipe of mayo (light mayo for me) on the outside in lieu of butter?  I read about this in one of my older mags and boy, did it taste more delicious, indeed!  I’m now a convert.  Don’t overdo the mayo, though — do it as you would butter, but maybe just a smidge less.

Hope everyone is having a good start of the weekend.  Happy Friday!

 

 

 

 

 

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.