Archive for December, 2009

“how could something so seemingly insignificant give comfort to someone?”

how do you give someone a piece of sky?”

This much I remember while I was in the middle of reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I’d better jot them down before they become obscured and buried in oblivion. No, I am not attempting to write a book review here, this book deserves a better time and more attention than these few hours before the old year changes into a new one.  Call me a little too sentimental crying over a good book but I just did when I finished  reading the last page .  Some books really touch you to the core and The Book Thief is one of them. It reminds me of Leon Uris’  Mila 18 which I’ve read some thirty years ago. And so far, this is my best read for this year.  Reading has been few and far between. I don’t know, I was not really inclined to make a marathon of it but I remember that before my surgery last July, I was so engrossed with almost all of the new books by James Patterson.  It would have been nice  if we were able to save most of the books in our shelves including our long list of TBRs but then typhoon Ondoy made that a long lost dream.

So how do you give someone a piece of sky? Dreams never end just because your life turned upside down all of a sudden. Dreams never end just because something unexpected touched you and you felt the pain.  Dreams never end just because a few friends turned their backs on you at the time you needed them most.  The unfairness seemed magnified at some point in your life but then you realized  how lucky you are to still be alive and enjoying another sunny morning, enjoying a few moments of peace just looking at the sunset, dreaming maybe of someone giving you a piece of sky.  Lately,  I realized that in life, there are more things to be thankful for than to complain about.  There are more things that make  you happy than  things that make you sad and lonely. The  trick is to open your eyes to the beauty of everything around you.  My illness taught me many things. Everyday  should be something special, you have to embrace it as if it were the last day of your life.  The journey may not be as smooth as you want it to be, but it is in the struggles which make you stronger than most, being able to face another day with a wide grin and a grateful thanks that you survived the hurdles along life’s way.

Have a blessed new year, a few more hours to go and we’ll be changing a new leaf in the calendar. I wish 2010 would be a little better than 2009.


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Happy New Year

One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this:  To rise above the little things – John Burroughs

Cheers to a new year –  a new beginning,  new opportunity, and a blessed, blessed  2010.  Happy New Year to all!

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My heart leaps with joy just hearing your voice!

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I looked for you

Looked for you everywhere

Except in the one place

Where you’ve never left

Deep in my heart.

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The heart remembers, no less, the joys more than the pain.

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The long and winding road

That leads to your door

Will never disappear

I’ve seen that road before

It always leads me here

Lead me to your door.

The wild and windy night

That the rain washed away

Has left a pool of tears

Crying for the day

Why leave me standing here?

Let me know the way……

This song was playing round and round  in my head as we were traversing the long and winding  highway of Mayamot, Antipolo, Rizal.  Our destination – Tanay, Rizal, a good one a a half hour trip from our place in Cainta.   We were in convoy with our good neighbors Jom and Jane Ramirez.  There were occasional jeepneys full of passengers up to the roof , otherwise, we were in tandem, admiring the scenic view and making ohhs and ahhs as we passed by some cloud formations along the mountain top making you feel like you are touching heaven.  A few minutes before we reached the town of Tanay, Jom told us to roll down our windows and savor the nippy morning air,  and the light morning breeze gently playing with the bamboo trees along the way. To smell the clean, fresh air, what bliss!  Up and down, going down the bend, climbing a little higher, the longer the trip was, the more beautiful the scenery we saw along the way.  You could literally hear the sound of the wind.

This was my first longer trip away from home since I started my treatment last July.  My life was recently divided into the pre-chemo days, my struggle to finish my six cycles of chemotherapy and the long road back to recovery.  And  the  days in between were just spent on laboratory procedures, hospital and doctor visits, church visits  and yes, blogging.   Reading books has somehow lost it appeal during the last five months that I was on chemotherapy.  I am slowly catching up though, recently reading The Book Thief by Markus  Zusak.  It is now a challenge for me to finish a book in a week or so.  And why is that?  Sometimes, my attention really gets  haywire.  It was a sedentary lifestyle to the max.  There were so many things that I could not do like gardening, doing heavy work at home, taking charge of  the weekly marketing and anything that would tax my weak body, which was  battered by chemo IVs , chemo tablets and maintenance drugs.

Communing with nature  always  has that welcome appeal for me. It was comforting to know that Tanay is  nearer, traffic is almost unheard of and the place is truly beautiful.  We left the house before seven o’clock and reached the farm at around eight thirty in the morning.  It was a long descent from the highway, going down on foot via narrow foot trails, admiring the view from the top.  We had our jackets on even before we left the car, that’s how cold it was there.  We reached the place after about fifteen minutes of shouts and laughter from the four kids we had in tow.   They were as excited as we were. The log house is still under construction, a one bedroom affair that seems to blend with the rustic feel of the place.  Jom fetched a tent for us and the kids. We brought along cooked food. Fancy a sandwich toasted direct from the makeshift grill (charcoal and bits of wood found at the place),  hotdog on sticks grilled to perfection, even the  slices of Spam tasted so good. Just a simple way to celebrate life really.  And the camaraderie is wonderful!  After lunch, the boys (I mean the men in our group) went trekking.   The  hubby told me that  there were  lots of interlacing brooks and streams in the area and the water was icy cold.  Hunting is prohibited.  I  found several flowers growing wildly and got excited taking shots of them.  Nissa and I took lots of pictures, the ever changing scenery in the distant Sierra Madre mountains was a sight to behold.  It was incredibly beautiful. One minute, the clouds were hovering, closely touching the mountaintop, a few times, the place was shining like gold due to the sun’s intense rays.

We started with the upward climb back to civilization after lunch.  It was a twenty minute trek back to the top.  We discovered this  beautiful vine with its flowers spread like a blanket.  The owner said it is called Lover’s Vine. We bought a sapling of it for P100.00, so costly for such a very small branch but it would be quite a challenge to grow  it.  We passed by the Spring Valley Resort for a few shots.  The kids wanted to take a swim but the water was so cold.  It’s too bad that some of the trails which they have made were destroyed by soil erosion.  There were no sturdy trees to hold it. We passed by another scenic route in going back to Cainta,  Manila East Road to Baras, Morong, Teresa  then Antipolo.  Bing bought a  rattan hammock (duyan), it’s a permanent fixture  now in our garden. We ended the day hearing mass at St. Jude Thaddeus Parish. Our Tanay adventure was a little bit tiring  but it was worth it all.  I posted some shots at my Multiply albums (http://arlene1027.multiply.com).

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Sometimes, the heart accepts what the mind rejects!

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Although its been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas”. And so that’s how the song goes, and it’s barely five days to go before Christmas.  Come to think of it, last year, I had posted several blogs about this much awaited event, it’s my favorite time of the year after all. I haven’t been inclined to share my thoughts lately though, a pathetic one or two blogs at the most and some pictures I took at the garden. I’ve been sidetracked by lots of things that need attending here at home. And I am glad that we have finally put up some Christmas decorations to make the house a little bit more welcoming. The kids have been busy too with office parties left and right so there are only the weekends that leave us free.  The hubby is  so engrossed with his vegetable garden and he is really proud of it.  He has converted the small plot outside our perimeter fence into a sort of a bahay kubo sort of garden, planting sweet potato, squash, eggplants, string beans, radish and okra and oh boy, how they are blooming. Interspersed with what was left of my American climbing rose and some dracaena plants, they are eye-catching. I think he is the one who has the green thumb, not me.

Don’t you just love the nippy morning air and the cold long nights of December? I do.  Waking up early makes one savor the silence all around.  It’s this time of the year that I always look forward to, no matter how commercialized the celebration of Christmas has become, it always evokes that nice feeling within.

This year so far was the most eventful one for us. The year started with our family trip to Caleruega followed by an overnight stay in San Antonio, Zambales, where we had the chance to bond with my 94 year old mother-in-law  and see the beauty of the shores of Punta de Uian, Nora’s Beach and take a glimpse of Capones Island. It was sad though that we lost her the following month. To think that we even planned to take her to Anawangin last summer.  It was a life well lived, I know she is happy now with her Maker.Last March,  I met a  a world renowned artist, Manny Baldemor through my good friend and younger brother here at Multiply, Tobbie.  We were starstruck looking at his two unveiled paintings which were converted into cross stitch arts by DMC.  What an experience! Sometime last June, I underwent that much needed colonoscopy followed by several laboratory tests and a resection of my colon the following month of July.  It was a turning point for me, another difficult journey to go through and undergoing six cycles of chemotherapy is really not a piece of cake.  Typhoon Ondoy capped it all, our house got flooded in almost seven feet of muddy waters prompting us to have it renovated, replacing the destroyed cabinets and repainting the whole house.

God touches us in so many ways. Believe in the power of prayers, it  is one thing that we could really do sincerely. Communicating with God through prayers really uplifts the soul.  I remember Fr. Fernando Suarez’ homily in his TV mass this morning. We have the freedom to choose an attitude in any given circumstances.  It is up to us whether to wallow in self-pity or rise up and meet the challenges that life deals us. It’s like looking at a glass half empty or half full. There is hope in everything .  Some close friends have been telling me that it seems as if I haven’t experienced that life changing situation battling with cancer –  the same bubbly attitude,  high-spirited, and still smiling despite the raging storm in my life. My quick answer is, I have lifted everything to God.

Wow, I found lots of old friends at Facebook, some are former officemates at Bank of PI, others are college friends and mostly relatives from all parts of the globe. I had a chat or two with them and it was fun.  And I admit, Facebook is one modern technology that easily allows us to reconnect with friends. I still prefer the kind of interaction I get from my Multiply friends though. Wonderful!  Blogging at WordPress keeps me upbeat,  sharing is one thing that makes life worthwhile and if you could touch somebody out there who needs a little push, then you are fulfilled.  Simple dreams for a simple me.

I would like to greet you all a very merry and blessed Christmas.  I’d like to share this little quote with you:   I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year. from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens


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Yesterday, I made my first gardening attempt after so many  months of not even visiting the garden and touching the soil.  I replanted my dwarf sansevieria plants and took shots of some sparse flowers growing there.  It was the last day of our two hired painters and Bing had the garden set painted as well.  

How I wish I could now overhaul our garden and plant more.  I easily get tired so I never try to do things for long.  Typhoon Ondoy brought me a lesson in gardening though.  It showed me what sturdy plants could survive in a flood.  It is sad that my healthy rows of oregano are all gone now.  I have always love the sweet scent  of this mint outside our bedroom window, now it has been replaced by the hubby’s healthy ampalaya.

I noticed some shoots of butterfly weed and they are growing nicely along the border where my mayanas used to be.  My pink angel has also survived the flood and it’s about to bloom. The orange marmalade or what you call crossandra are thriving so well, Bing even replanted some and they are now producing tiny orange flowers which are a sight to behold.  My orchids are all gone except for this healthy yellow dendrobium that is in bloom again.  Oh yes, I noticed my Amazon Lily producing a nice little shoot in the shade, wonderful.

I now have a companion while gardening, our dog Soo Kee thinks that the garden is his playground. She cuddles up with mom when she gets tired. Pampered dog!  Wait till you see the two doghouses which the hubby and the two carpenters built for our two dogs made out of scrap materials which they have discarded.  I want to paint them in bright colors, they could accessorize the garden too.

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It used to be when guyabano was just a part of the backyard fruit trees, just like mangoes, star apples and avocado.  I clearly remember when I was growing up in the province, my lola used the leaves for nausea (hilo), crushing them a little and letting the person smell them.  She said that it was so effective.   We never appreciated it then, preferring the commercial variety of guyabano concentrate drink where you will just add water and presto, you have a refreshing guyabano juice.

I once received a forwarded e-mail  about the efficacy of guyabano as treatment for cancer. I asked my cardiologist once and he told me, it is still not proven. Of course,  some doctors would always choose the  safest way to answer such questions, right? Since I was diagnosed with colon cancer and undergone chemotherapy, I’ve always been researching for some alternative way to fight it- may it be food or herbal medicines which are so abundant here in our country.   The study on the effectiveness of guyabano as cancer treatment might not have been made public yet, those big corporations reeking money producing and manufacturing those costly drugs would not want to have their business goes kaput. You can  probably buy a  whole truck  of guyabano on a single P60,000.00 session of chemotherapy.

Lately, I included this wonderful fruit as part of my daily diet.  Eaten raw, just a little cold from the fridge, it really taste so good.  The white edible pulp is high in carbohydrates and dietary fiber. It is also low in cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium.

Don’t look now, that plateful of this delicious fruit is all gone!

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