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Mornings are definitely getting colder.

I was pleasantly surprised.  It was kind of foggy when we woke up.  Officially, “amihan” is finally here.  PAGASA  has declared the start of the northeast winds a few days ago. We call it “hanging amihan”.  It signals the end of the rainy season and the start of  cold weather until February of next year.

I love this season. One would not need to worry about flash flooding or heavy downpours although based on experience, this is where we sometimes have late strong typhoons.  The weather is good though, sunny and bright.

We  are thinking of putting up the Christmas tree but we still have to buy new sets  of lights to decorate it.  So lazy to go out 🙂  They have changed the mall hours, it’s now from 11am to 11pm until January 15  of next year. So if you don’t want to be caught in the  Christmas rush, you can do your  Christmas shopping now. I did mine two weeks ago but I still need a few more for close friends.   Some of us are planning a get-together one of these days of November.  Fr. Lovell and I agreed to meet after Christmas. He is busy with work and we won’t be able to see each other if we don’t make time for it.  I love meeting friends. I love the camaraderie it brings. I love getting in touch with each other. My close friends usually visit me here and I normally cook for them. Nothing that special, just good food to tide us over.

October has been a quiet one except for the days we went out for Nissa’s birthday and mine.  It was just the family. Looking forward to Nate’s birthday but then he’ll probably celebrate  it in school again  just like last year where Nissa ordered food for his classmates and they had it for snack.  Maybe we could go out again after his birthday or  after Nissa’s and my son-in-law’s  annual vacation  (mandatory leaves) scheduled this month.

Of course, I am excited for Christmas, who would not be? xmasclock.com says it’s 51 days, 8 hours and 34 minutes to go before the day.

 

 

 

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I’d like to think we are not that old yet. Most of us have just reached the ripe age of 60 and we call that being  senior citizens  here.

Tuesday afternoon was another day so memorable to me. A small group of high school batch mates came over for a visit.  The batch is having a grand reunion come January 2018 and the core group is busy contacting classmates and batch mates to attend. If I am not mistaken, this will be the 7th grand reunion since 2003.  We left the portals of  the University of Santo Tomas Education High School almost forty-five years ago.  I attended three  reunions in the past and some small get-together in between.  It is always nice to get in touch, renewing friendship and old ties.

Willie took some shots in his cellphone.

 

Of course, the smiles would always be there.

I remember our days in high school.  Coming from the province, it was hard for me to adjust during the first few months of my high school days. I was a shy kid, not really that friendly.  Imagine, immersing your student days in a big university with new  classmates, teachers, environment and all.

Life in high school.

There was a separate entrance for boys and girls. We were in the morning session while the boys were scheduled in the afternoon.  We only get to mingle together during school activities like the different programs, Sunday masses, Christmas celebrations and the like.  Some of my classmates though managed to meet the boys and became boyfriends/girlfriends.  The excitement of youth…haha  🙂

No stress.

We always emphasize that we would just enjoy the camaraderie when we see each other which is not often.  But always, always, there will be laughter. Most of us have our families now, some of us with grown kids and grandchildren.  We enjoy reminiscing about high school days, keeping up to date with news  about other classmates who  have gone ahead of us.

Food.

No get-together would be a success without food, right? I prepared a simple pasta dish for them  and ensaymada.  They brought me a big box of ensaymada too of a different brand. No matter how simple the fare is, what is important  is being together.

Hopefully, we will see each other again one of these days. Elsa, who came alone  ahead of the group said, ” Now that I know your place, I would surely come over to visit you again”.

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Dreams. Curiosity. Exploration. Friendship.

Discovering life’s simple pleasures through the eyes of a child. This is one of my favorite shots which  I  took during our trip to Tanay one  December barely a month after my last chemotherapy.  It was one  of those times that one feels so relaxed just enjoying the cold breeze and exchanging pleasantries with a friend. Nissa brought a book to read while Jane and I were just contented inside the tent looking after the two kids – my six-year-old niece Bobic and her three-year old daughter Jaden. They were looking for spiders and ants. I told my niece that spiders don’t normally stay on the ground and that ants are seldom found on the grass. They were so disappointed. They just watched some crawling insects outside the tent. And before I knew it, I was laden with gifts of dried leaves and wild flowers.

How simple life could be if we let it.

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Had good chats with two of my close friends last night. One of my friends who is a third order Carmelite attends mass daily at Sto. Domingo Church.  He was in doubt but he asked me if Fr. Lovell was the one who officiated the mass. He said the latter’s homily was a breath of fresh air.  So I asked Fr. Lovell later, he said yes. He  even mentioned my plight as a cancer survivor, how  having a grave ailment would someday be an inspiration to others to get well.  We talked about life and survival, we talked about our families and moving on. We talked about how life seems so hard sometimes.

I do agree, there are times when you feel so alone in your struggles.  There are times when you feel like giving up but it is not an option.  There are always instances when  you feel so down. Life is all about our struggles and little victories we gain from being brave and strong.  It’s hard sometimes to show strength when you really feel so weak. It is easier to show how you’ve become saddened and disappointed with what is happening around. Problems are part and  parcel of this thing we call life.  It may get a little  complicated at times  but trying times are not always here to stay. Our attitude towards vicissitudes in life spells the big difference between living and existing. It’s survival of the fittest as people often say. I do believe though that one’s weakness becomes one’s strength  in the long run. We learn, oh how we learn to survive. Staying positive may be hard to do but it is one moving force for us to survive and accept a particular situation not to our liking. I remember one writer (the name escapes me now) who said, “When life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back”.

 

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Out of the blue, a friend who arrived home from San Antonio about a month ago called me up and said she is coming over for a chat.  Of course,I was elated.  Who wouldn’t be? The last time we saw each other was sometime in October 2014. she said her package has arrived and she brought all these gifts for the family. She even gave some cash to Mommy when she found out that Mom is having her birthday on Wednesday.

Two hours of updating on each other’s lives although we always chat on  Messenger in between.  She brought with her a dozen pocketbooks, baking chocolates, Spam, Skittles and M & M for Nate, a box of Pringles and two hardbound copies of two of my favorite authors Mary Oliver and Richard Paul Evans. Upstream is Mary Oliver’s latest book while The Mistletoe Secret was published last November.  To own such copies, priceless. This is my third book  of Mary Oliver, the first two are books of poems while this one are essays she wrote.  I’ve collected several books  of Richard Evans.  His latest will be out in the market in May.

Celebrating friendship – the smiles, the laughter, the serious talk about life itself, the many, many things that make friendship beautiful. This is the only time that she is free because she has come home for good and has many things to do.  Who says online friends are not real?  We used to be online friends at the Catholic site on Facebook where I am one of the admins. it started with just a few chats in  a group which my priest friend, our chief administrator created. We saw each other several times in the past. Every time she comes home, we make it a point to see each other. This is one of those blessed days to renew friendship. Just so happy.

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That’s the funny thing about writing your life story. You start out trying to remember dates and times and names. You think it’s about facts, your life; that what you’ll look back on and remember are the successes and failures, the timeline of your youth and middle age, but that isn’t it at all.

Love.

Family.

Laughter.

That’s what I remember when all is said and done. For so much of my life, I thought I didn’t do enough or want enough. I guess I can be forgiven my stupidity. I was young. I want my children to know how proud I am of them, and how proud I am of me. We were everything we needed – you and Daddy and I.  I have everything I ever wanted.

Love.

That’s what we remember.

When a book makes me cry, I give it five stars. Yes I know, the quotes sound cheesy, it’s a YA book after all.  Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah in one such lovely read. It’s my 17th book on Goodreads’ 2016 Reading Challenge. When I review a book, I don’t summarize it for other people to read, it’s more like sharing what it made me feel. Was I inspired with the story? Was it interesting enough to recommend to other readers who love stories on life-long friendship and family and how  genuine love plays through it all?

You can always read the summary and some book reviews on Goodreads, some maybe disappointed, some find it wonderful.  The story line is such that it made me cry. When I started college life, I worked in the university library for almost three years and there I found true friendship with some of my colleagues. We’ve been friends since I was seventeen and the three of them are still my friends until now. We don’t normally get to see each other but we get in touch despite the distance.  Thea is now a Franciscan nun, Grace has migrated to another country and Precy is a successful businesswoman.  Except for Grace, the three of us experienced life-threatening ailments that made us closer together. Precy once said that we had to undergo the same kind of pain that cancer brings.

Near the end, Firefly Lane delivers such painful reality of losing a mum, a close friend, a daughter and a wife. It pains me to remember the agony of being not 100% fit,  and I do remember vividly what it was like going thru chemotherapy .  Sometimes though, life let us experience something that makes us stronger, ready to accept the ugly realities and grateful for the blessings in between.

Really, when a book makes me cry, I give it five stars.

 

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Rich

They always say that everything happens for a reason.

I believe that too. It’s the same thing with friendship. It goes a long way, a lovely journey of discovery, a truly meaningful sharing with kindred souls. It’s hard to find true friends but when you find them, they are more valuable than gold. I treasure the days that I share with my friends. Some are there to make me laugh and make me realize that it is okay to cry, cleanse our eyes and hearts with all the hurts and pain. Some are there just to listen, no words needed but a ready shoulder and loving arms to make you feel you are truly worthy of being a friend. Some are there to give advice and make you see the truth no matter how painful it is to face. Some are there for a long time,  guiding you, lifting you up, rejoicing with you in your triumphs and  empathizing  with you when you are down. Some are there to make you smile and make the day worthwhile.

What a wonderful thing friendship is. What a wonderful world friendship brings.  And it’s true, “what a difference having a friend makes”.

P.S. For those friends I met through this blog, I could not thank you enough. You made a difference in my life.

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