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Posts Tagged ‘guilty pleasures’


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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Some friends are coming over tomorrow, friends I’ve met at my online Apostolate when I was just starting as an admin there. Time flies, it is almost five years now since I met them.  They are definitely younger than I am, some call me Mommy, a lot of them call me tita (an adopted auntie) and I consider them my extended family. They help me grow and in the process, I am learning a lot too. There is no dull moment when they are around because we could talk about anything under the sun, we could share some serious stuff about their lives and their families. Sometimes, I wonder how we have bonded this close considering we don’t see each other often, they are just a text away though. Two of them are celebrating their birthdays this month so we decided to hold an informal gathering here at home. They told me not to stress myself preparing the food as they will just bring it over so I will just probably bake marble potatoes and boil a kilo of fresh peanuts  which I bought from the market this morning. I already prepared a laing dish, a personal favorite. Laing  are dried and shredded taro leaves cooked in coconut cream, diced pork  or shrimp and chili. It need not always be spicy, but  the chili goes well with the coconut cream and that is applicable for some dishes that use the latter.

We chanced upon this fresh alupihang dagat in the wet market today and my son told me that he hasn’t tasted it for more than a decade so we bought a kilo. I have to make research on what it is called in English, it’s mantis shrimps. The only downside is, it is hard to get the meat because of its pointed shell but I think it taste better than shrimps. It was a yummy lunch paired with sautéed ampalaya with eggs.

Bear with me, I am just excited meeting old friends again. Never mind the gargantuan task of preparing and  washing drinking glasses, plates, utensils for us to use tomorrow because I a not a fan of disposable plates and such.

When friends meet, hearts warm. I just love this Scottish proverb. It always holds true.

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How long has it been since I last posted here? It’s almost a week  and I need to catch on the many blog posts that I missed over the last few days. Busy, busy, busy – busy gardening, busy searching for books to read, busy reading at night until my eyes hurt from the glare of my cellphone. Oh well, it is nice to be back. I am just glad to know that even if I’ve been away for a while, I finally reached 320,000 plus (320,180 as of this writing). Not that it matters much but it is important to me that some readers go back to my earlier posts and leave comments. Having more followers of course in the last two weeks are an added bonus.

Last night, some thoughts were playing in my head but I was just too lazy to jot them down. Regrets come always late of course because I could not remember them now. I’ve been to my once-a-month  hair trim at David’s this afternoon and as usual I had a nice chat with some of the staff and their other customers there. My hair stylist told me that they will be transferring to Oasis hub by June and I asked her why and she said that the present site will be converted into a mixed-use structure with a mall and residential units.  When it comes to the latest news, they are always updated.That pretty started our conversation about developments in the area. Ever Gotesto mall which has been here for almost two decades will finally close its doors on Sunday. I asked them why and they told me that it was sold  to a larger entity whose owner is the richest man in the Philippines and included in the Forbes list of billionaires in the whole world. “You mean we will be having another SM mall here in our area?” They nodded in unison and a customer exclaimed “Good luck sa traffic”. I wanted to buy some kitchen towels but when I reached the mall, almost everything is packed and even the grocery shelves are almost empty. I felt sad for those employees who will lose their jobs because they were hired from an agency. Some tenants are just waiting for their contract to end. I asked one of my favorite shops there, a small entity that sells all things Japanese, meaning, their shelves are full of things made in Japan if they are going to transfer too and the cashier said they don’t know. I  always visit this place every time I go to Ever because I love looking at their small kitchen gadgets, I love looking at their tea sets and Japanese mugs/cups used in tea-drinking. Come to think of it, we have an SM mall at every nook and cranny of Metro Manila and suburbs, I am just wondering how many more they would build in the future. Do we really need all that much? It will always be a welcome development of course, I am just wondering what will happen to those small enterprises which are still existing in the area.

Yeay for good books. I finally found some books that I’ve long wanted to read. Some of them are e-books which will be part of my 2015 Reading Challenge. Here are some of the titles I’ve added to my TBR list. So excited to read them all. I am six books in advance for  this  challenge. I hope I make it this time.

  • The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom. I’ve been on the lookout for Albom’s books since Tuesdays With Morrie.
  • The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. Just started reading a few lines. This is my third book of this author after the legendary The Secret Life of Bees  and The  Mermaid Chair. I wrote a short review of The Secret Life Of Bees long ago and watched the movie too. If I have time, I will look for the movie adaptation of The Mermaid Chair on YouTube and will watch it too.
  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. Finally, after a long search :)
  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. My book club friends rate this as a five-star. War torn Barcelona, 1945. So curious about the story.
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. I’ve long wanted to read this too but I could not find a copy.  I wonder why it belongs to the 500 must read books and one of the 1000 books you have to read before you die. It’s a friend’s favorite book.
  • The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times (Book 1)by Jennifer Worth. Set in East End slums of post-war London.
  • Shadows of the Workhouse (Book 2) by Jennifer Worth
  • Farewell To the East End (Book 3) by Jennifer Worth. I read the short summaries of these three books on Goodreads and I can’t wait to start plus the book covers of two kids on the last two say a lot. I love memoirs.
  • First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen. I’ve read books of this author before and I love the magical touch of paranormal in her stories.
  • The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson. I love every title with the word book in it, that’s why. A first novel so maybe it’s worth it.

I wonder how long it would take  me to finish these ten titles. We’ll see. How about you? What books are you reading now?

 

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Gosh,  how time flies!  I can’t believe that it’ll be summer in a week or two. Here comes the sun and probably a series of brownouts that the Department of Energy is warning the public since last year. And it is not a case of I hope we have enough supply because it will definitely happen (according to news reports). I am thinking of buying a rechargeable fan to beat the summer heat.  Despite these setbacks though, summer would always be welcome, never mind the heat, we are used to it. What I love about the summer are the varieties of local fruits you’ll find only during the season, mangoes (we produce the sweetest mangoes), star apples, santol (wild mangosteen) siniguelas (Spanish plum) rambutan, avocado, duhat (Java plum) and many more.  My annuals bear flowers during the summer months and I love the surprise I always see in my tiny garden during this season. I could now see a growing  kamantigue with its dark violet flowers.

This has been a productive week for me. I finished painting two spans of our fence grills, three more to go. I bought garden soil and did some repotting  and replanting of my prayer plants. I have three varieties of them. I found a white vinca growing outside and replanted it too in one corner together with the pink ones. Mom said I should take a rest because every day I am outside trying to refurbish our small garden. We have this old lampshade made of ceramics and  when the electrical wiring was not working anymore, I made it into a garden accessory and repainted it in black together with a water fountain that we no longer use but still a lovely accent piece in one corner. It’s hard work I know but the fulfillment one gets seeing a new look is priceless.

Of course the day would not be complete without taking a few shots.   Here’s a picture of my Shanghai Beauty.

Pretty in pink...

Pretty in pink…

 

It's called Mexican Firereplant or  Wild Poinsettia

It’s called Mexican Fireplant or Wild Poinsettia

 

How was your week?  Happy weekend to all!

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I seldom endorse a product,I am not even a lover of donuts (meaning, I don’t crave for it) but I can’t resist sharing this.  They’re the best I’ve ever tasted, not too sweet but melt in the mouth goodness. Compared to other brands, J.Co donuts are just so good and they come in many flavors with such eye-catching names. Fancy this – Alcapone, Mr. Green Tea, Oreology, Berry Spears, Forest Glam, Tiramisu, Coco Loco to name a few.  These bite-sized donuts come in a box of two dozen different flavors, they are soft and chewy because they are baked and not fried. They have 29 branches here in the Philippines (next to the 135  chain of stores in Indonesia).

J.Pops baby donuts. They're quite expensive but people line up in their outlets to buy donuts or fat free frozen yogurt.

J.Pops baby donuts. They’re quite expensive but people line up in their outlets to buy donuts or fat-free frozen yogurt.

Pair it with their unique flavor of Italian blends coffee and you’re good to go. I prefer my own Twinings’ Green Tea and Lemon or Celestial Seasonings’ Raspberry Zinger.

Donut, anyone?

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That’s  right, I am just borrowing the title from a book I have just read.

Have you ever chosen a book because the title and the book cover make you smile and make you remember something deep, memories that you treasure in your heart? I did just that, three days ago. In between re-reading inspirational and uplifting books for the season of Lent, I managed to find a lovely book by Kelly Moran. It is my first time to read a book from this author. Inspiring romance books are not really my cup of tea but I got curious that it received mostly five stars on Goodreads.  An easy read, amazing and heartwarming tale of  friendship, family relationships,  and getting on with life despite all the setbacks, finding love and meaning  in the end.  I don’t normally post a book review when I blog about a certain book that I’ve enjoyed reading, it’s for you to find out.

A friend once told me that when a book makes you cry then it must really be good. I love the poetic style of the author, the play with words  – I can almost imagine those intense moments, I can almost touch the pages of the family albums and commune with nature  the way it was told in the story. It’s actually one of my best reads so far for my 2015 reading challenge.  And as usual, I had my journal ready to write some quotes that I liked.

Don’t let the past get in the way of the now.

How many times has the past hindered us from making decisions in our life? How many times have we let the past rule our present life?  Learning to let go and learning to move on might not be that easy but sometimes we just have to do it for our peace of mind.

Home is where they love you and care for you. Home is where you go back to when there’s nothing left and you want to find peace again.

What a difference a moment can make.

Speaking of the 50 books I wanted to read this year, with no particular author in mind and no particular book on my list, I have just finished 12. Next in line though are memoirs and the books I have of Mary Oliver.  I want to reread Randy Pausch’ The Last Lecture, it inspired me when I was undergoing chemotherapy. I want to get reacquainted again with Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays With Morrie. My former surgical oncologist saw a copy I read at the hospital when I underwent surgery more than five years ago and he said it was a good book so I gave him a copy. My cardiologist who was a very caring doctor too saw my pile  and told me I had good choices of books to read. I gave him one too. They are both doctors so they could relate to what ALS is all about.

I just love books. The solitary hours are more meaningful when books take you to places you’ve never been, people you’ve never met and a world probably more interesting than your own.

When the leaves stop falling, you find love.

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Just started on my reading marathon (if you could call it that). I finished reading book one today, a nice first-novel  chick-lit by Deborah Meyler called The Bookstore. I promised myself that I would at least read 50 books this year. For a bookworm like me, that is not much actually. I know of some members from my book club who could and do manage to read books as much as a hundred.  As it has books on its cover and there is the word book on its title, I guess that made it my number one of the fifty books I want to read. I don’t have a list  because I don’t want to concentrate on just fictions.

I must admit I cheated a little since I started this one on the last days of December but  put it  on hold because of Christmas and New Year celebrations.  For a first time novel, I found it charming and nicely written. Here is a short summary culled from Goodreads.

A witty, sharply observed debut novel about a young woman who finds unexpected salvation while working in a quirky used bookstore in Manhattan.Impressionable and idealistic, Esme Garland is a young British woman who finds herself studying art history in New York. She loves her apartment and is passionate about the city and her boyfriend; her future couldn’t look brighter. Until she finds out that she’s pregnant.

Esme’s boyfriend, Mitchell van Leuven, is old-money rich, handsome, successful, and irretrievably damaged. When he dumps Esme—just before she tries to tell him about the baby—she resolves to manage alone. She will keep the child and her scholarship, while finding a part-time job to make ends meet. But that is easier said than done, especially on a student visa.

The Owl is a shabby, second-hand bookstore on the Upper West Side, an all-day, all-night haven for a colorful crew of characters: handsome and taciturn guitar player Luke; Chester, who hyperventilates at the mention of Lolita; George, the owner, who lives on protein shakes and idealism; and a motley company of the timeless, the tactless, and the homeless. The Owl becomes a nexus of good in a difficult world for Esme—but will it be enough to sustain her? Even when Mitchell, repentant and charming, comes back on the scene?

A rousing celebration of books, of the shops where they are sold, and of the people who work, read, and live in them, The Bookstore is also a story about emotional discovery, the complex choices we all face, and the accidental inspirations that make a life worth the reading.

I love going to bookstores. A trip to the mall would not be complete without visiting one. Even if it is only to browse and find new titles, it is a joy in itself.  I was a student librarian once when I was in college. I spent almost three years of my college life working part-time at the Humanities Section of the main library of University of Santo  Tomas. Where would you find such wonderful books in Literature, Psychology, Ethics and  Philosophy but there? Those days were the best years of my college life – learning the basics of a library work, finding joy in books, making new friends  from all the colleges of the university. Reading The Bookstore made me remember those long-ago days and it makes me smile just thinking of it.

Can’t wait to start The Goldfinch which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2014.

 

 

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