Yes, I know a lot of you would probably react and say “it’s too early yet”. I know, I know. Yesterday before my son left for work he asked me to listen to the new downloads on his tab saying that I would surely like it and adding that it’s my favorite album of all time. I was surprised. He downloaded the whole album of Gunter Kallmann’s  Christmas Sing In. Around this time every year, I would bring out the various CDs and play them randomly and one of them is the album Christmas Sing In. As if that was not enough, son said, “listen to this Ma”. We smiled, remembering those days when they were younger and we would listen to the Jackson Five belting out ♫♪Santa Claus Is Coming To Town♪♫.

Did you ever believe in Santa Claus? Did you let your kids believe that he comes on Christmas Eve bearing gifts that they asked and prayed for? I don’t remember my kids ever having asked Santa about what gifts to receive for Christmas although they each had a picture with Santa Claus, a perfect capture of smiling kids on Santa’s knee.  Those were the days when parents and their kids line up at one section of the mall  to wait for their turn to be pictured with Santa. I wonder if they still do that these days. Since I resigned from work more than fifteen years ago, my check list on buying Christmas gifts has dramatically narrowed down to just family and close friends. I do my Christmas shopping early depending of course on available budget and finding gifts for family and friends that they will truly appreciate. It’s not the cost that counts really, but the thoughtful gestures behind the gifts.

I remember our Christmas celebration last year with Nate’s infectious smiles while  embracing a Mickey Mouse toy which was larger than he was.  Back then, Mickey Mouse was his favorite. Now he is into Minions and large Lego blocks. I wonder what will be next when he celebrates his third birthday come November.

I bought a food magazine on home-cooked Pinoy classics. Chanced upon it when I went grocery-shopping. I would love to try those luscious local fruit pies (at least one on their list), recipes using coconut, and locally famous desserts. One can always buy them here (Cainta is famous for kakanin) but the challenge of course lies in learning how to cook them in one’s own kitchen. I would love to try the good old-fashioned Bibingka wrapped in banana leaves, topped with grated coconut, a little amount of sugar and butter and those cheesy Ube-Cassava cakes…heaven.

Oh, I am listening to the remastered Christmas album of Johnny Mathis. I think of Dad when I listen to this, he used to have an LP (a long-playing record) way back then.  It makes me smile and a little thoughtful listening to the catchy and lovely Christmas songs in the album.

I know, it’s that time of year again!

Color Me Green

Sometimes a picture needs no words. It speaks for itself.

Sometimes a picture needs no words. It speaks for itself.

September came and went like lightning,  a dry September if you ask me because the days were just like summer, so hot with  thunderstorms in the late afternoon or early evening. I can’t recall any particular event worth-remembering except Nissa’s birthday and having Nate around over the weekend.  And yes, the endless gardening task  trimming the grass, deadheading my Gardenia and Crossandra  and replanting some Ruellias. Gardening is sometimes a bit boring if you have to wake up early in the morning while the sun is still in slumber. It gets too hot even at seven in the morning.

October started with early morning drizzle then at exactly 3 o’clock this afternoon, the heavy downpour drenched our garden and our garage. Manila Water chose to replace our water meter today (of all days) and according to the contractors, they replace water meters every five years. The new gate valve has to be connected to our existing water line, bringing in a spray of mud and water that reached our car. The pressure was too strong.  The rain has stopped a while ago but they haven’t cemented yet the concrete that they have to break up  earlier to change the meter.  There is a storm coming although we are not in its direct path but it would surely bring monsoon rains until early Saturday morning.  What a start for a new month.

Still and all, I welcome October with joy and anticipation. It is my birth month after all. I am always thankful for all the graces and blessings  that came and will come my way. It is a celebration of another year ahead, a celebration of life, a celebration of  joys and pains that give life its meaning.  Even in times of adversity, even when we feel sometimes that we are alone in this world, it is always a blessing to feel that inner strength, that unshakable faith that all would be well in the end. We learn through tears (sometimes) and we embrace gladness in our hearts. Growing old has its rewards.

Happy new month. a blessed October to all!

Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose. – BT Bradford (Hidden)

Today’s Quote

One of my favorite poets is Mary Oliver. Let me amend that, my favorite poet is Mary Oliver. I love her writings so I followed her page on Facebook, a sure way of being  updated with her works. She has another book coming this October called Felicity and they raffled off  15  extra early copies (or galleys). I was not lucky enough to win but I hope I’ll find a copy when it goes out in bookstores. Here’s something from one of her lovely books, A Thousand Mornings.

Mary Oliver quote

I remember my  earlier post about life being a dance and I quote:

Life is a dance. Sometimes, it is a harmonious fluid movement. We are in sync with the music, utterly attuned to the dance steps, well synchronized with the motion – two steps forward, one step back. Others may lead and others may follow. It is a mad dash to a world of perfect twists and turns, but the journey is not one long road to success and happiness. One wrong move, one wrong turn, one missed step would spell disaster.

We are constantly seeking perfection and excellence in everything we do but there is really nothing perfect in this world that we live in. Life is a meaningless pursuit without challenge. They say that the journeys walked in solitude are always the most remembered. There is something we always learn along the uneven pathways and the most profound events in our lives do not end with the six o-clock news and the setting sun.

This was when I was learning to adjust to the life of being a  cancer survivor. When we falter in our steps, God is there to do the rest.

Have A Grateful Heart

I have followed Pope Francis’ trip to the United States via  Vatican Radio and CNA (Catholic News Agency). I am grateful for his inspiring words. Yes, I am grateful too for the many blessings. Here’s a partial text  of Pope Francis’s address during Vespers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, a beautiful message that truly inspires and touches the heart:

Joy springs from a grateful heart. Truly, we have received much, so many graces, so many blessings, and we rejoice in this. It will do us good to think back on our lives with the grace of remembrance.

Remembrance of when we were first called, remembrance of the road travelled, remembrance of graces received… and, above all, remembrance of our encounter with Jesus Christ so often along the way.

Remembrance of the amazement which our encounter with Jesus Christ awakens in our hearts. To seek the grace of remembrance so as to grow in the spirit of gratitude. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves: are we good at counting our blessings?


What, Books Again?

The other day, I was updating my journal, transferring some quotes and one-liner words that I have accumulated in my thought box when I saw this printed list of books that I have culled from my account at shelfari.com, the first virtual library that I have painstakingly updated when I started using social media (think Friendster and Multiply) several years ago. I could no longer access my account there since I have already forgotten my password. When most of our books were destroyed by typhoon Ondoy last September 2009 I haven’t visited the site as much as I wanted because it pains me to  see the titles of those volumes  and book titles. It makes my heart bleed just seeing that all those lovely books that I have collected over the years are now gone. The Shelfari site was where I met book nerds not just here in the Philippines but from some other countries too. From there a friend created a book club which is still active until now though I haven’t attended the monthly sessions for a number of years.  When I got sick, I stopped joining the group in their book discussions but I follow a number of those who have separate book blogs  both at WordPress and at Blogger.

I now keep tract of the books that I’ve read and the books that I want to read via Goodreads. My wish list back then was quite long but I have found several books through the years of searching for those copies either at National Bookstore or at Booksale. There is nothing like finding one particular book in your list when you least expect it. Here is my updated wish list for 2016. It would be nice if I could find even half of the remaining ones that I haven’t read yet.

  • Ada by Vladimir Nabokov
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  • Caught In The Quiet by Rod McKuen
  • Happy All The Time by Laurie Colwin
  • Hello From Heaven: A New Field of Research-After-Death communication by Bill Guggeinheim
  • I Am David by Anne Holm
  • If Not Now, When? (Penguin Twentieth-Century classics) by Primo Levi
  • In Search Of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
  • In The Dark Before Dawn: New Selected Poems of Thomas Merton by Thomas Merton
  • Looking For A Friend – Rod McKuen
  • Love’s Been Good To Me – Rod McKuen
  • One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  • Rites Of Passage by William Golding
  • Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Christmas Box Miracle: My Spiritual Journey of Destiny, Healing and Hope by Richard Paul Evans
  • The Devil In The Flesh by Raymond Radiguet, Alan Sheridan
  • The Graduate by Charles Webb
  • The Heart Of A Woman by Maya Angelou
  • Honorary Consul by Graham Greene
  • The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
  • The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton
  • The Trial by Franz Kafka
  • Too Many Midnights by Rod McKuen
  • Traveling Light by Max Lucado
  • Watch For The Wind by Rod McKuen
  • West Wind by Mary Oliver
  • Witness To Hope: A Biography of Pope John Paul II
  • Your Name is Renee: Ruth Kapp Hartz’s Story As A Hidden Child in Occupied France by Stacey Cretzmeyer.

And last but not the least is P. Anciers’ Libertine’s Destiny. I read this when I was in college and the only copy of  UST’s Main Library was never in the shelf. Back then, when somebody returned the book, there was always someone who wanted to borrow it. The story started in Germany during WWII. If I were to rate it now, I’ll give it five stars. There is a discussion group on Goodreads about this book and some have sourced different libraries in the US to no avail.

What about you, do you have a favorite book that you want to reread and makes you smile just remembering  it?

A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.–Neil Gaiman

Something To Think About

“You must speak to Jesus not only with your lips but with your heart; in fact on certain occasions you should speak to Him only with your heart… One searches for God in books. One finds Him in meditation.”

Happy Feast Day St. Padre Pio, one of my favorite saints.


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