Archive for August, 2010

Our Kidney Journey

Glad to be back after almost two weeks of  inactivity!   I wish to share a link here and I hope you will also find time to visit.  Archie’s mom is badly in need of prayers and possible donor for her kidney transplant.    Any help that you could extend would be highly appreciated.  You can get in touch with him at this site:


Or you can just click the link which I’ve added here.  Thanks!


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“What are you doing there?” Hubby asked while he was maneuvering the car out of the garage.

“Are you praying?” he further questioned so I simply answered, “I am meditating”.

For about an hour, I sat in front of  a pot of purslane which I transferred  to a larger  pot  over a week ago. I bought the cuttings from a vendor at the wet market. They are of different colors of yellow, light pink, fuchsia, orange  and white.  I just can’t wait to see them bloom.  This morning, while I was watering the plants, I noticed that they finally had those buds ready to burst open.   Purslane or pig weed are locally know as Vietnam  Rose.

I took a chair and waited until they unfolded one by one.  What a lovely sight.    And I was thinking, I was given another chance to witness a miracle – a simple unfolding of a bloom.  Nature makes us appreciate everything about life,  the simple  truth of knowing that there is Someone up there showing us the wonder of creation, right before our eyes.

I am humbled Lord,

I am truly  amazed.

These flowers simply fascinate me

No one else could paint such

a beautiful canvas about life

Except You!

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A silent chanting

In my heart:

I am healed,

I am healed”.

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Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. ~Berthold Auerbach

There are times when, we long for those days when life was simple and uncomplicated, when one’s idea of bliss was listening to soft, inspiring,  relaxing and calming instrumental music.  Yesterday, last night rather, was one of those  nights spent just remembering. I started  playing the whole album  Ballade Pour Adeline by Richard Clayderman .  Dubbed as the Prince of Romance, he is one of my favorite artists.  I get such a thrill just listening to his music. It evokes a feeling which is kind of sad and happy.   It’s like having a concert right at home.  Nostalgia trip to the max!

La Tendresse is one of the 27 cuts  in the album, written in French.


A friend  of mine introduced me to another artist, Kevin Kern.  Kevin Kern is an American pianist, composer and recording artist.    At age 4, he started learning the piano and at age 8, he  began writing music.

I Am Always  Right Here by Kevin Kern

After The Rain by Kevin Kern

(courtesy of NewOcean flower 2008)

Gone by Jim Chappell

(courtesy of rockmaster333)

Jim Chappel  is a smooth jazz  pianist born and raised in Michigan.

Somewhere in Time by Maksim  Mrvica

Maksim Mrvica is a Croatian pianist who plays classic crossover music.  Somewhere in Time, the movie, is one of my favorite movies of all time.  I love watching Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour in this movie.

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We went back to my urologist this morning for the final schedule of my stent removal.  Armed with the latest result of my kidney ultrasound, I was a bit apprehensive  on  what he will find this time. I must admit, I am not familiar with the medical jargon written on the result but he explained it to me complete with an illustration.   The stones on both kidneys which the radiologist  saw were actually small benign cysts  which  are outside the medulla.   They can’t be removed  no  matter how much amount of medications I take but they are also not in any danger  of affecting my kidney functions. And the smaller kidney stones can be flashed out  even without medication.  He suggested though that I undergo kidney ultrasound every six months  as precautionary measures.  I breathed a sigh of relief on hearing this good news.  Any small improvement to my health is a miracle for me.   I am finally scheduled next Wednesday for the stent removal.

On our way home, I was telling the hubby that when you are on the receiving end of a good deed (read:  the consultation was free), you feel so happy.  I am touched and humbled that after more than a year of being in and out of the hospital, having several doctors who are all  wonderful,  I found another kind and compassionate doctor.   It is easy to do your bit of random kindness to people around you and you feel a certain kind of satisfaction in knowing that in your own small way, you have touched lives.  And the smile that you receive from such act is like a ray of sunshine illuminating your soul.    The stent removal is a little expensive  though, and it has to be done in the operating room with local anesthesia.  Dr. Jubilado suggested that we file a Philhealth claim to minimize on the cost of the procedure.

We dropped by the store to buy a kilo of grapes, a kilo of avocado, and some Japanese corn for afternoon snack.   “See”, I told the hubby, “this is a gift from Dr. Jeff, may sukli pa”. He was laughing so hard and I just smiled and said, “God wants me to have these”. Then he answered,  “the ever practical Arlene”.

Thank God for answered prayers.  Thank  God for small miracles.

I am posting a video of the Irish prayer which I always enjoy watching every time I feel down.  May the message comfort you as well!

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It’s another  beautiful Sunday, a little cloudy outside with rain showers in between.  Sundays are always spent with the family.  It’s one of those days that the hubby, my two kids and I always look forward to.  Breakfast seems quite long during Sunday mornings  and sharing thoughts and news over a cup of coffee and hot pan de sal seems to be the accepted ritual.  I love  Sundays and I try to catch up on the morning mass on TV before we attend the 9am mass at the church near our village.   I find great joy just hanging around bookstores, having a siomai fix or simply lazing in the garden playing with our two dogs and our new puppy. I was greatly touched by Fr. Orbos’ homily – travel light, let go of the excess baggage,  do not fear, trust in God.  How many of us can let go of our emotional insecurities, our financial worries, our fears of the unknown? How many of us are concerned about having less in life and yet we are still happy because we have enough faith in God?  Most of us are fixated on material things  that we sometimes forget that  life is not all measured by what you have.   Life could be whimsical at times, or perhaps full of angst  but the best things come when we learn to trust  and let go. The past year, my journey has been one long road of struggle  and pain.  Among friends and family, I’ve learned to accept things and  go with the flow. “Where life takes me Lord, I will follow”. Two weeks ago, hubby and I enjoyed sharing with one of my friends.  We’ve been friends for more than three decades and I am happy that after all these years, we have managed to maintain the friendship.  Sr. Thea, FMM is a Franciscan nun and she is also a cancer survivor like me.   One thing that I remembered well that she shared was this,  being sick give us the privilege of making our selves closer to the Lord.   Yes, I do believe that  too. Fr. Orbos said in his homily  that  illness is also a blessing because we are given the chance to  prepare ourselves to meet our Maker.  How true!    Reality hurts sometime , but the more life throws at you, the more you become stronger.  Next week, I am again scheduled to go back to my urologist for removal of the DJ stent which they inserted when I was hospitalized last May.  My latest kidney ultrasound shows that the stones are still there. “Lord, let my stay at the operating room be quick and painless, hold my hand while I am in there “. That’s all I asked for today at least.  And for my dear friends out there, will you include me in your prayers?   Thank you!

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Spent the early part of the morning having another kidney ultrasound.  I had KUB less than two months ago but my urologist requested for a new lab to see if there is an improvement in the  treatment of my kidney stones.   I am keeping my fingers crossed that everything would be okay – which means – I hope by now the stones  underwent a disappearing act on their own.   I’ve been bombarded (for want of a better word)  with medications for kidney and gall stones and a regular take of Ambasc for my blood pressure.    Finally, after more than three months of being so cautious because of the  DJ stent insert , I am scheduled to have it removed next week.   Hallelujah!  Life is good!

Hubby and I were able to swing by Jubileum bakeshop to buy their silky soft ensaymada.  I was in a quandary on what to choose, they have  lots of macaroons which look so yummy, and baked pies and pan de sal.  If I have my way, I would buy each of those displayed on their shelves, finally though, I settled for a dozen pieces of  special  ham ensaymada and two big loaves of ube bread.  Can’t wait to have them with a hot cup of green tea.

When we are in the area, we make it a point to visit our good friend, Br. Lovell at Sto. Domingo Convent.  It’s always a joy to share and to update each other on what’s the latest happenings in our lives.    He showed us the  Camiguin Norte Photo exhibit. I was impressed, I wish I have a good camera to capture photos like  those displayed there.  Right there and then, we joked about going to Camiguin next year (I wish) which  comes with a hope and prayer that I would be fit to travel.  He said it is a traveling exhibit  meaning, that after Sto. Domingo, there will be other places where it would be displayed.   Imagine my surprise when I saw all the photos in one of the albums of my other friend Philippe who is also a student of UST.  I asked permission to post some of the pictures here and he said yes, so people will know that the children  of Camiguin need help in their education.  The place is truly amazing.

Fourteen hour bus ride from Manila to  Aparri and  Four to Eight Hour Boat ride to Camiguin…..Wow!

Dolphins – a delightful show of grace…..amazing!

Lobsters at Camiguin….

Lovely, isn’t it?

How  lucky they are living in this paradise….

Credits goes to Fr. Joemar Sibug, OP and to my good friend Philippe Hernandez for allowing me  to share these amazing shots.

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I must admit, there was quite a slack in my blogging lately.  I got so engrossed reading  and visiting some bookstores in search of  something on my wish list which is getting quite long.  Though I haven’t been successful in my quest, I was able to buy some treasures which I am excited to  read pretty soon.   I am almost done with The Red Pyramid, and will start on The Hunger Games next (I hope).  Don’t ask me why there was this sudden shift of reading genre.  Some of my friends who know I am into serious read would probably laugh that I now enjoy reading  books for teens, and kids for that matter.  Well, more than the entertainment values that I get from these, I feel like I am learning a new language.  I’ve never been a fan of Greek or Egyptian mythologies, they bore me no end but when I  started  a few pages of  The Lightning Thief and saw my daughter’s collections of the Vampire diaries, Blue Blood series, Cirque Du Freak  and a lot of books from authors I never heard before, I was a little intrigued.  Christopher Pike, yes, read a book or two several  years  ago, but there are now three thick books on Thirst. L. J. Smith, Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, Melissa Marr, and a Filipino-American author named Melissa dela Cruz  – haven’t heard of them until now.

Back when everyone was into reading  the Twilight series, I was never tempted to read one  although my daughter has a complete set of it.   How she raved about every book of Meyer, even to the point of asking NBS to reserve copies for her.  Out of curiosity, hubby and I watched the movie version of Eclipse  (a month ago I think, I can’t remember now),  which they say is the best of the three series shown, so far. But I was nodding my head off in the middle of the movie and my daughter chided me by saying that I always fall asleep while watching the big screen, so I told her it’s not my cup of tea.  I must tell you that  I enjoyed reading Harry Potter  and  watched every movie version of those books.   This sudden penchant for heroic-demigod-magical powers is altogether different though, I am learning Egyptology and little by little those quite unfamiliar names which I only used to see on crossword puzzles suddenly come to life.   Amazing!

And before you think that I’ve completely abandoned  reading  other books, you’ re wrong.  I’ve  found and purchased a lot of books too,  all additions to my growing TBR list.   Time and again, I would buy memoirs, I wonder why they fascinate me no end.  Frank  McCourt’s  Ti’s and Angela’s Ashes are favorites although I need to replace my previous copies because I wasn’t able to save them during the flood last year.  Had I been well enough to set aside the paperbacks, I would have done it but I was not allowed to sort the dirty piles  because at that time I was in the middle of my chemotherapy sessions. I recently bought  The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls at a  twenty percent discount at NBS. I like  the description on the cover which reads, “The Glass Castle is the kind of story that keeps you awake long after the rest of the house has fallen asleep”. It is a memoir of resilience and redemption and a look into a dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant family where love still reigns despite the odds and all the peculiarities involved.  I am saving it for another rainy day.   I think it’s my fourth or fifth buy of   The  Prophet , the first three I got for some friends as gifts and my copy now is the smallest and the cheapest I could find.  Kahlil Gibran, the author of  The Prophet is a  Lebanese-American poet and philosopher and the book has been translated into more than 20 languages.  Back in college, I devoured almost every copy of his books even to the point of keeping a separate notebook of all the best quotations I could find.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – a complete and unabridged copy.  Come to think of it, I have forgotten the story of orphan Jane and the famous Mr. Rochester because the last time I’ve read this book, I was still in high school.  I never had the chance to reacquaint myself with the book until now.   I bought Ilustrado two months ago, got a good review from Blooey, one of my friends at Flip Flipping  Pages.  The Filipino author Miguel Syjuco, is a winner of  the 2008  Man Asia Literary Prize.  I have yet to discover how he writes because the book is still in its original plastic cover.

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson – bought a copy at P625.00 at Bestsellers.   I’ve started reading this  about a month ago but it’s not the kind of book that you would want to finish in  one seating.   It’s a  true account  of mountaineer Greg Mortenson who drifted into a mountain village of Karakoram after a failed attempt to climb K2.   He was touched by the kindness shown by the inhabitants there and promised to return and build a school for the children.  

It is the astonishing , uplifting story of real-life Indiana Jones and his remarkable humanitarian campaign in the Taliban backyard. Just a quote from the book, “here in Pakistan, we drink three cups of tea to do business; the first you are a stranger, the second you become a friend, and the third, you join our family and for our family we are prepared to do anything – even die”. (Haji Ali, Korphe Village Chief, Karakoram Mountains, Pakistan).  Eversince I’ve read Khaled Hosseini’s  The Kite Runner and  A Thousand Splendid  Suns, I was fascinated  by how the people live  in these Islamic countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan.  I even saw a book entitled  Reading Lolita in  Tehran by Azar  Nafisi, another memoir,but that would be on another trip to NBS.  And who told you I am addicted to  memoirs?  I just did!

Life is not all memoirs though because in between reading these, I also managed to buy more books at less than a hundred pesos –  Anne Tyler’s Breathing Lessons, Andrew Greeley’s   Irish Linen.  Greeley is a Catholic priest and priests do write love stories. I’ve read several of his books in the past and I found  Cardinal  Sins the most controversial.  It’s about life in the Vatican written in fiction.  Nissa bought me some chick lit books and a couple of hardbound James  Patterson.

And to end this book blog which wonderfully reached a word count of 1101, let me quote  Isaac Barrow on how he views books:

He that loveth a book will never want for a faithful friend, a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter

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My goodness, I feel like a teenage kid hooked on a teenage novel.   I am in the thick of reading The Red Pyramid, sharing it with my son who is glued to it every time I am  surfing the net.  Ancient  Egyptian gods, magical kids,  fast-paced  scenes, and a bit of Harry Potter in between. I totally love Bast, the cat’s goddess. Oh boy, I am learning history here, Egyptology,  for a start.

Move over Harry and  Hermione, let’s follow Carter and Sadie to New York…..then Paris next!

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