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Oh My (This Is Crazy)


Allow me to rant a little.  I am trying to avoid stress but this makes my head ache. Two years ago, my immediate neighbor (our properties are divided by a fire wall and since our house is on a corner lot, it is the only house next to us) decided to have a second floor of their house. My problem started then because our roof near their house was destroyed when debris of cement and hollow blocks rained on it. They didn’t have protective covering so I have to make a proper complaint to our homeowners’ association to remind them of it. After two weeks I went to the engineering office of our town, showed them the pictures of the damage done by our neighbor to our roof. They sent someone to inspect a week after several follow-ups but at that time, no worker was around so they didn’t talk to the owner. In short, they left the project hanging, with just plain hollow blocks encircling the structure, no beams to speak  of (and that is dangerous for them and for me too), no enough steel bars to hold it and I presumed seeing the site, there was no building plan and building permit. The framework looked pathetic.

My brother is an architect so I had him check the site from our end and he said the building was not safe. I had a few arguments with the owner to no avail.  We had our roof repainted and repaired  three weeks ago. Our two painters even cleaned the area where bits of cement got stuck. Two days ago, while Mom and I were having naps, we heard a loud noise coming from our roof in three successive times. Since it was my son’s day of, I asked him to check it, true enough, some debris were there, and it was like our newly painted red roof was scattered with cement powder.  I talked to them and we argued, the owner (the wife, I mean) was like a tiger let loose on a cage together with her daughter telling me that I am always complaining so I told her I have a right to complain because this is my property. She hurled insults that were too personal and has nothing to do with what we were trying to resolve. I told the story to some of my friends and most of them told me to sue her for slander and oral defamation. I don’t want a stressful life so I’ll just probably make another visit to the engineering office of our town so they could visit it. Her husband promised that they would put a net but until now, they haven’t done yet and the debris kept raining on our roof.  My son took pictures again and we haven’t removed all those debris yet. Come to think of it, at least they should offer to clean it, right? The half sack of cement, sand and hollow blocks we collected two years ago from our rooftop is still lying in a corner of the garden, evidence of their not so neighborly attitude.

I get along well with our neighbors across the street where we live, they are like extended family but this particular one is a pain in the neck. How I wish we could choose our neighbors but they are here to stay. Inconsiderate people never learn.

And if I may add, this is how their structure looks like.

IMG_6614

Look at our gutter, it is full of debris. and that dent on our roof….it was two years ago when they started their house renovation.

Look how poorly done it is, this is on our side and those hollow blocks....crazy....

Look how poorly done it is, this is on our side and those hollow blocks….crazy….

Crude....the coco lumber they used two years ago were left hanging on our property line and when the two painters removed them they crumbled into pieces.

Crude….the coco lumber they used two years ago were left hanging on our property line and when the two painters removed them they crumbled into pieces.

No corner beam done here.....

No corner beam done here…..that’s their roof.


There is really no contest between the two. I love both and this is actually another experiment because it was the first time I used chicken as the main ingredient instead of ground pork. I haven’t baked anything in a while, desserts or recipes. I am not really that too busy  but the last few days have been so stressful that I have to think of a way to relax and cooking relaxes me. One morning while we were having breakfast, Josef and I discussed about what we used to prepare on the table and I told him, let’s prepare something for mom that she would surely like. My mom is turning 86 in a few days and she’s talking of going home to the province before the month ends. I told her to wait for her birthday here. There is no reasoning with our old folks once they decide on something. She just told me yesterday to call my brother so he could fetch her. One thing I like about her is that she is always appreciative of what I cook. When she is not familiar with it, she watches  me prepare the ingredients and asks questions.  We’ve been on mostly fish and vegetables since the season of Lent started and Fridays are totally “no-meat days”. Sourcing what is available in our pantry, here it is, a yummy chicken shepherd’s pie. It always tastes good with panini bread, just plain grilled slices.

Mom loves the melted cheese and mashed potato on top. Baked it just to melt the cheese.

Mom loves the melted cheese and mashed potato on top. Baked it just to melt the cheese.

Never been good at taking pictures of food. One more try, that is...

Never been good at taking pictures of food. One more try, that is…

P. S. And here’s the recipe,as promised Ren. You would need the following:

1 whole deboned chicken breast, boiled and cut into bite-size pieces

2 boiled potatoes

1/2 stick butter

dash of pepper

white onion, diced but it is better to cut it into small cubes

1 large carrot

1 cup of green peas

1 small can of Campbell Cream of Mushroom

grated cheese

Mash the potato with 1/2 stick butter, set aside. Saute onion, carrots, green peas and chicken then add in the can of mushroom last. Don’t put salt because the saltiness of the cream is good enough. Put in a baking dish, top with the mashed potato then grated cheese. A friend suggested that you can add bread crumbs to the cheese to make it crunchy to the bite  (it’s up to you). Bake for 30 minutes covered in aluminum foil or until the cheese melts. Serve hot with your favorite bread. I used the regular American loaf bread pressed on a Panini maker.

Oh So Slow Smartbro


I am getting frustrated. Maybe this is the wrong time to upload pictures because our internet provider is so slow. I wonder why. This morning I made a backup of all the shots I took since January. I copied them to my hard drive including the pictures of Nate that Nissa forwarded to me. Better be sure than sorry.

Since I posted the pictures I took of my garden blooms earlier in another blog, I am sharing  them with you. They are in high-resolution format. Again, my problem here is lack of free space for uploading. At least at Gardens and Empty Spaces, it’s just my 86th post. Come visit my other blog if you are not yet subscribed to it.

Do you know that I also collect key chains as a hobby? It started with just one gold-plated gift from a former boss one Christmas  season thirty years ago. I have  more than two hundred pieces from different countries mostly in Asia. All of them are gifts from family and friends. Those who know my penchant for collecting don’t find it hard to give me gifts. Yes, key chains are enough. I recently received two from Nissa, one is from Singapore and the other one is from Brazil (Football Connect). Last Saturday, Reymon, one of my friends who came over for our small party gave me two more. He visited Malaysia and Hongkong late last year and bought some lovely key chains. After all these years, they haven’t tarnished.  I wish I could find some from Europe like Spain or France or Netherlands or UK, I don’t have those yet. I have a Bible key chain too, the only one I bought years ago but I could not read the words since they are too small. The wonderful world of collecting.

A friend recently signed me in to another book group, this time at Facebook. I’ve missed attending their monthly meetings since I could not keep up with their discussions. Every month, they hold it in different places with assigned moderators. Two questions that elicited so many comments were these: 1) What are your three favorite books of all time? 2) What are you reading right now? I love reading their comments and what books really  influenced them or inspired them that these are their favorites.  Number one on my list is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I reread this for the third time when I found a paperback copy at Booksale a few years ago. It made an impact on me when I read it way back in college. Number two is Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. I can truly relate to this. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery comes close to third of my favorite. I got two more actually, The Road Less Travelled by M.Scott Peck and Man’s Search For Meaning Victor Frankl. What about you, what are your favorite books? Would really love to hear from you :)

Oh, this Smartbro is really so slow :(

Life With Mom (Part 6)


I think Mom just gets bored playing solitaire so I opened the television early for her to watch but then she insists that I should switch it on at 5pm because that is when she starts watching her favorite programs. I am not really into it but I take a glimpse of each program she watches every day until she falls asleep.

Earlier on I was cooking dinner and she was watching.  Not for lack on what to do, I imitated a television ad by doing a few odd steps while watching the girls dance. She could not hide her mirth and I  knew she was smiling while covering her face with her two hands.  I smiled at her and embraced her on my way to check  the pork afritada  I was cooking for dinner. She said in our native dialect, “Oh, I seldom see you dance”. We looked into each other’s eyes and smiled.

What a nice feeling, going back to just being  a daughter sometimes. She’s happy, I am too :)


“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

I love quoting these lovely words from one of my favorite writers,  Henri Nouwen,  for they exactly describe how friendship should be and what it really means to me, when you could be just as you are with them, when they accept you in their lives and in their hearts, warts and all.

Last Saturday was another lovely celebration of friendship.  A few close friends came over to just celebrate the day with me and mom.  Two of them will be celebrating their birthdays this month and what a fitting way to share laughter, smiles, hugs, serious stuff (you would not believe this  but most of our topics touched on our faith and the beauty of being a Catholic) and food of course. Mom was so amazed to learn that they came from  places outside Metro Manila and she was full of questions like how I met them,  why they are visiting me when we could choose to go out  and spend the day in malls, she asked where they work, things that a typical mom wants to know. When they have left, she said “ang babait nila”. Mabait in English has no exact meaning but it encompasses various traits like being kind, gentle, friendly, generous, amiable, considerate, you name it, it is all in there in that single word.  We had a good laugh of course while we were taking pictures. They brought their cameras  and we took some shots.

That's mom on the extreme right. She was gracious enough to join us in our picture-taking.

That’s mom on the  right. She was gracious enough to join us in our picture-taking.

For WP2

for WP3

Food galore....

Food galore….

Sinful mango cake from Red Ribbon...

Sinful mango cake from Red Ribbon…

IMG_6578

We were all so full  we just snacked on polvoron (yummy powdered milk candy from Red Ribbon), boiled peanuts and adobo peanuts while sharing and discussing so many topics, touching even politics and world affairs.

It was a lovely day to celebrate friendship.

Today’s Quote


Richard2


And since it is my 7th anniversary, allow me to repost a blog on the beauty of exchanging letters, it’s now what you call snail mail. I still look forward to these snail mails that seldom arrive on our doorstep nowadays.  I wrote this more than four years ago but I still think of those friends who used to write those long, long letters. By the way, they are still kept in shoe boxes but I covered the latter with Christmas wrapping paper :)

Have you ever wondered how you were able to get by when the use of typewriters, e-mails, texts and such modern way of communication were not yet in vogue?  Or shall we say, do you still find it a delight  to receive something from the mail, those seemingly heart-stopping-oh-so-exciting moments when the mailman hands a letter to you addressed in bold strokes of the hand, and not just your familiar utility bills?  I still do and  I still get excited receiving one.

Hubby and I spent the early part of the morning cleaning our large floor to ceiling cabinets and disposing some of the things we have accumulated over the years – a big box of baby clothes,  children’s dresses, jumpers, sweaters and everything  a baby of a month to a  child of six or seven would need.  After all these years, they are pretty much  still in good condition so I selected some  layette, around two dozens of bird’s-eye diapers which my mom painstakingly embroidered at the edges when my two kids were born.  The rest, together with some transformer toys  still in their original boxes,  we bundled and told the garbage collectors to give to their neighbors or to  whoever would need them.

Imagine my surprise when hubby handed a big bag of old, old letters which I thought were all destroyed, with the rest of my more recent mails, by flood Ondoy last year.  And I mean,  they are really,  really  old, some of which dates as far back as 1971.  “Set them aside’, I told him,  “I’ll take care of those.” Most of them were addressed to me anyway. I found myself in awe of  counting around three hundred or  so  letters from a grade school friend, from a cousin who never failed to send a postcard everywhere he docked, letters from my brother-in-law when he was assigned in the Middle East,  letters from college classmates,  small notes from some high school teachers, lots of  postcards from different part of the globe, concert tickets  during my college days,  daily notes from my  then best friend,  and some quaint bookmarks from pen friends from Japan.

Letter1

I was fascinated and I felt I found a treasure just sorting the pile.  I spent the whole morning reacquainting myself with these old friends who made an impact in my young life.  These are my personal treasures –  living  testaments on how I was as a teenager, struggling with college life and  the emotional upheavals.   The pain of first love, the disappointments  early in life, the support  and encouragement from close friends some of whom are still my friends until now, the days of sharing  on what life was all about, these made me what I am today.   My tears were flowing as I read some of those letters all over again – tears of joy,  a big YES, tears of reminiscing the past, partly, but most of all I am glad, truly glad that these letters are still here with me after more than thirty and close to forty years.

Letter2

Letter3

This was from a  friend who lived all the way from  Aparri, Cagayan.   I am just sorry that we lost touch after all these years. To think we could touch on such subjects as the values of friendship, the woes of college life, the books we have read and shared.  He was a terrific writer.

I was laughing out loud while reading letters from two of my friends at the Philippine Military Academy.  They were recounting their training –  the jump squat, the push-up etc.  They were frankly telling me how to court a girl while touring her around the campus of PMA.

I have another friend who has now migrated to Canada, and believe me, we used to write each other everyday when we were together as student librarians at the UST Main Library.  Please don’t tell, but we used up a lot of date due slips for stationery.   She was  a little older than  I am  so we  kind of adopted each other as the younger/older sisters.  It was through her that I poured my heart out.  I am glad that after 37 years, the friendship is still going strong.

Letter4

I remember this, it was the first day of issue of the  University of Santo Tomas  (UST)  stamp, the 50th anniversary of the College of Science.  It was dated June 07, 1976.

Letter writing is definitely an art and I don’t mean posting and sending them via the internet, it’s the art of choosing a good stationery, composing an interesting message and writing in a style that would enthrall and fascinate  the receiver.  I still get excited receiving one via snail mail. There are still people out there who prefer the good old-fashioned way of letter writing.  And my heart beats an unusual rhythmic sound every time I get a surprise from our Kartero. At least now, they use a motorbike instead of walking from house to house to deliver mails.  They are here to stay, don’t you think?

I wish they’re here to stay. Just like holding a new book in your hands and smelling its printed pages, there is that certain thrill of receiving a letter written in long hand and delivered via snail mail.

 

 

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