Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy Reunion




That's Helen with me.  She is a dear friend and classmate from Nursing school, and we had not seen each other for 19 years.  So we decided to meet at the mall.  I said, don't tell me where you're seated.  Just tell me what color shirt you're wearing.  She did just that, and of course, it was a BIG mall with an equally BIG food court.  My eyes turned as round as saucers when I got there.  But slowly I walked.  From table to table.  Scanning faces.  On the look-out for a green shirt, thinking, what in the world did Helen look like now?  

Then I spotted a bewildered-looking girl who probably thought she was as lost as the one looking for her. Ha!  What a joyous reunion.

I thought I'd post it here because Sir Joey sent me a beautiful sentimental email (the one that has nostalgic music against a picturesque background), and it made me think of good friends, happy memories.  You know how it is when you say good bye, and you just can't finish?  That's the kind of friend Helen is.  Well, I hope you remember one of yours this holiday season and catch up. 

It's a good feeling.

Oh, yeah, bring it on!

Tomorrow's the 31st, so out with the old and in with the new. 

Curtains, bed sheets, cushion covers, towels, rugs - we changed them all. The laundry room's busy, there is absolutely no piece of clothing to be left behind.  Wash, wash, wash.

M put coins on the windowsills.  Yup, attract the gods of the finances, to always keep them in order.  Only round fruits on the table.  "Mom, onions?"  "No, dear, just fruits."

No broken anything.  I have a vase in one of the bathrooms that I fixed with superglue a few weeks back.  That has to go, too.  My china and utensils have to be in perfect shape. 

Only good thoughts now.  That's right, bring it on!  Let the tiger ROOOAAARRR!!!

What are you doing to usher the new year in?

Falling Leaves

I watch the leaves fall to the ground

Before the wind rushes

To take possession of them.

The leaves are the reddest, fiery and golden.

They tease the senses

At their most transcendent.

I watch enticed

Only for so long.

In a whisper, they all glide away with time.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cold



picture source:  ourhangout.net


The electric bill came up to $146.00 for last month.  Whew.  That alone makes me shiver even more.  But we can't help it (or can we)?  It's the winter break, and the kids are mostly at home, we've had some guests over the holidays, and it's REALLY  just cold.  It's 22 degrees outside right now as I type this.  I crank the heater way over 70 almost everyday because despite sweaters and socks and quilts (thanks, Ms. Sandy, AJ takes his Thomas quilt everywhere around the house), it is still freezing. 

I think I'm getting better, though.  When I talk, my voice is raspy, booming, whispery, or not there at all.  I am following everybody's advice, thank you so much, and since I'm off  today and tomorrow,  I hope to get the rest I need.

How do you all cope with this winter chill?  Brrrr!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Understanding Jesus

On December 9th at 11pm, Debbie was not to be seen.  It wasn't like her to be late.  She was one of the CNAs scheduled to work.  But before I could find out what happened, someone blurted out the news.  At 5:30 that afternoon, she was caught in traffic by the train tracks in her SUV with her two young sons aged 9 and 6 sleeping at the back, when the Amtrak train barrelled down on the car.  The boys were instantly thrown off the vehicle and killed on the spot.  Deborah was rushed to Duke, and survived.  All that the witnesses could remember was an explosion and Debbie's screams.

My legs crumpled.  A staff member fled to the bathroom and threw up. 

Later that night, I gathered my staff in a circle and,  holding hands, we offered individual prayers for the children's souls and for Deborah's peace of mind.  Fourteen months ago, she had just lost her first-born son to a shooting incident, and before this recent event,  was still visibly grieving.

I don't get it.

I don't get that we have to die in such a violent way, especially children -  in which case, people are bound to point fingers. Why leave the living in anguish and pain?  Debbie was heard to say later, "Somebody up there must really hate me."

I married late, and it took three years before I became pregnant.  It was an ecstatic moment, more so knowing we were to have twins.  But I miscarried at 13 weeks.  They would have been the first grandkids on both sides, and the third generation of twins on my side, at least.  We buried the placentas, but the memories lingered. I saw the pain in my mother's and my husband's eyes, which compounded my grief.  I felt the burden of guilt and blamed myself for the longest time, even though I am a nurse, and knew better than to do so.  My mind did, my heart didn't.  Nobody blamed me, but I tormented myself. 

Earlier this year, I was pregnant again, but lost the baby in June, at 6 weeks.  Matthew wept and the memory of my 6-year-old clinging to my bosom wailing the loss of  "my baby sister" (as he was sure it was a girl) continues to sting my heart.  My husband cried a silent tear. "She" has a simple resting place by the tree behind the house.

I am comforted by the thought that we have three angels watching over us, and that the twins now have someone else to love, and they won't be so lonely.  It takes a lot of explanation to Matthew, and I know I am not equipped.  He is on a journey to knowing Jesus, while I keep on stumbling on my way to understanding Him.

Jesus died in the most violent of fashions.  His disciples and the multitude of His followers were stricken.  They felt horrified, and scared.  And they also pointed fingers.  They were guilt-ridden.

Debbie must feel the same wretchedness as the disciples, the same unworthiness, loneliness, and grief beyond all griefs at the untimely deaths of her sons, leaving her to bear the brunt of suffering.  Fingers pointing her way must feel like a thousand daggers, even as her mind screams for mercy, and her heart wails for her loss.

I draw my analogies as I type, and so forgive my lame attempts. 

One day, I hope to understand what I have written. 

A Very Sore Throat

Does anyone please know of any remedy?

I had the H1N1 mist about a week ago, and then, with FULL warning of course, started feeling an exodus of symptoms.  First came the backache, then my finger joints just felt sore, my muscles hurt like crazy, everything was out of whack - I had to ask my husband to give me a good massage right away.  My whole body was on fire, it was unbelievable.  Eventually,  Extra Strength Tylenol quickly got rid of all that.  (I still take it PRN/as necessary.)  But then came this awful, awful sore throat that I can't shake off.


It is so bad I've had to apply Vicks on my neck and wrap a short kind of scarf around it TO and AT work for two nights now.  I've been drinking hot tea, eating nothing but soup, and pumping up on vitamins and pain killers, to no avail.  A friend suggested ginger.  I'll probably have to drink the water I boil it in, I forgot to ask.


My throat feels swollen, (though I don't believe it is), and swallowing is extremely painful.

What a nightmare and a half.

HELP!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'Tis indeed.

I am all geared up to write if only to greet you all a blessed Christmas.  I don't suppose anyone will have the time to sit down in front of the computer on Christmas day, though, what with all the hype and rush, but I am taking my chances.

I think of all the Christmases past, and how they compare with this year's.  I think of the Philippines heated up not only by the Mayon volcano acting up in Albay, but also by the horrendous political goings-on there.  I think of the thousands of Filipinos who are brilliant, capable of making names around the world, whose talents remian untapped because of lack of opportunity.  I think of those to whom opportunity is given, but who happen to be wasteful, arrogant, deceitful, and greedy.  I think of all the blessings laid out before me, and how I have used and (squandered) many.  I think of the friends I made and kept, and those who have betrayed me for personal gain.   I thnk of hearts I have broken, and those who have broken mine.  But I push them all away, clear my mind of cobwebs, and look forward.

This is the Season of Nativity, when the Lord has shown us great mercy through the birth of His Son.  I think and I think deep, of the times I had thought I was not worth redeeming, of my unworthiness in His eyes.  But this Season, I think even more.  Of hope and renewal, of acceptance and forgiveness.  I think of all the hurts I caused because I judged people to be less than I.  I think of my own weaknesses and how I can transcend them and perhaps improve myself.  I think of ways to make this Christmas different from the others - beyond all the cooking and gift-giving, and trimmings and nice clothes.  The smiles will hold.  The hugs will not be mere politeness.  Perhaps that way, I will continue to touch more lives.


This article is for all the family and friends I cherish and keep.  I know we've all been busy one way or another.  But I thank you for always remembering.  Here's to you - for your loyalty, respect, and love.  May your life continue to be full, may the Lord watch and keep you, may you be blessed this Holy Season and always.

'Tis indeed the time to embrace each other and give thanks.


Happy Christmas, one and all!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Trial Post

Hi, friends, I don't know if this will be published, but I did some tweaking because it has been the longest time since I last accessed my blog: couldn't open the dashboard to post new articles. I could and can open the past posts and reply to your comments, but as far as posting a new one, no go.


So let's see.


I miss you, guys. I don't know if I can come back to this site, but we'll see. I can always start a new one. I had been really busy, too. My calendar's full, that without the boys' schedules yet. But I'm here. For now.


I hope you get this. Thanks! Take care!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sorry

I had been busy, and preoccupied lately.  Still am.  I have you all in mind, and will sit here and serve you coffee, truffles, and whatever you fancy.


But not right now, friends.  Momma's a little busy.


So bear with me, please.  Be good.


And don't forget to wash your hands.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Out of this World!

At  3 o'clock this morning, after I had gruellingly 'fixed' a new site and told everyone about it, this comes right back! 

Well, I am happy.  But, I'll see you on the other site as well, okay, my friends?

I'm bushed.  Good night!

(To those I hadn't informed yet, my other URL is http://uncoveringaculture.blogspot.com/)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Unbankable deliveries

Got a phone call from a bank today.

Me:  Hello.
B:  Hi, may I speak with Cherie De Castro?
Me:  This is she. 
B:  Ma'am, this is (name) from (Very Prominent Bank).  You have  a problem with your account, and ....
Me:  A problem with my account?  What happened?
B: (chuckles) Well, we are about to send you a .... for .... You don't have to commit right now.  Your account shows you have an excellent record...
Me:  Wait a minute.  First of all, you just said that my account shows I have an excellent record, which contradicts your introduction to me.  (I could hear the poor girl sounding embarrassed on the other end of the line.)  Second of all, I have already told somebody from (Very Prominent Bank) that I would contact you if ever I became interested.  And I am not.  Thank you for calling.

And I put the phone down.

Really.

And that's just one of those.  Try this.  It happened about a few months ago.  Also from them.

B: Hello, is Aristotle De Castro there?
A:  This is Aristotle.
B:  My name is (name) from (Very Prominent Bank).  Do you speak English?
A:  Aren't we talking already?

 And Aris continued to entertain.  But reported the rudeness to someone higher up.

Now, I don't know if it's just me, but I think people-oriented jobs require a lot more refinement from the employees, especially so if the company they're working for has a reputation to protect.  Whatever their reasons, the first scenario showed perfect incompetence, and the second one outright idiocy based, we suppose, on records of a not-so-English-sounding last name.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

This Side Of Town


turned a hundred posts today.
I truly didn't mean to celebrate.
But my neighbor Carol (of the tamales) chose this night to knock on my door again.
This time, she waved a plateful of delectable roast beef complete with garnishings in front of me. (I seriously MUST work on my Spanish - and quick.)
I took one look at my man. He took one look at me.
Then he went to the kitchen and reached for a bottle of red wine.
Come, let's clink glasses!


(photo source: Google Images bettyboop-a.doop.com)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Indomitable Spirit

Catastrophes can either make or unmake us.

I was 18 when Super Typhoon Sisang (designated Nina) slammed into the southern part of the Philippines, most especially the Bicol Region, where I was studying. It sustained winds of 275 mph as compared to Ketsana's 105 mph. Sisang/Nina was (at that time) reportedly the worst typhoon to have hit the Philippines in 20 years. I was in the dormitory, in bed, on the second floor, with no clue as to what was to come. Suddenly, I heard and saw girls screaming, doors slamming so hard, beds flying outside the window - yes, from the second floor. All of us who could pry our doors open ran downstairs, and huddled close as the winds continued to lash against the windows. Then the building shook. The piano in the corner slid to the other end. Other furniture followed. Broken glasses. More screaming. Flooding in. I remember hugging two of my friends and praying out loud, "Jesus, save us."

We stacked chairs and furniture one on top of the other as high as we could and perched on top, my fellow dormers and I. I helped remove shards of glasses from the arms and legs of the other girls who were unfortunate enough to have been by the windows when the winds lashed their fury.

We waited out the 'eye of the storm.' It was past midnight when the stillness engulfed us. Nobody slept, to say the least. Morning greeted us waist-deep in water. No breakfast, of course (I was mildly amused despite the situation), but everybody talked of going home, which was 60 km away (1 1/2 hours) for me. I packed whatever I could and started off with my friends. As the dormitory was inside the university campus, we had to walk through the maze of corridors in order to get out.

There was no university in site. One building was ground to a pulp. The rest was a sight to behold. Flood and debris everywhere. Hugging my belongings to my chest, I gasped when, thigh-deep in water, I saw a rat, about a foot away from me, swimming for dear life. It was then that reality sank in.

No transportation (we took buses). Landslides everywhere, buried bridges. We walked. Not the whole way, but miles and miles and miles of it just the same.

Home meant overlooking the moon at night as part of the roof was ripped off from my room. One friend joked he had to enter their house by the window. It was the only one open. Many more were worse off, as they had no houses left.

The whole thing meant no electricity (I think in the whole province) for 3 months. None. I do not know when we resumed classes (I was in my second year of Nursing) but when we did, it was in a modified building. No fish on the table. All sorts of stories like finding fingers and rings inside fishes' bodies circulated. And plenty of dead. I heard a story about a body floating from one town to another. And not enough coffins. The local priest had to minister benediction to bodies rolled in mats. And at least one woman went crazy looking for her dead. I heard these stories. And there were many more.

Ketsana's damage was in the unceasing rains, causing the 20 feet flooding, a catastrophe unheard of in more than 20 years. I perched scared and cold on top of chairs many years ago, while many of the recent typhoon survivors ENDURED hopeless days and nights on rooftops, not knowing if they would live or die. There is no fear like the fear of the unknown, and certainly the fear of death.

I am almost ashamed to admit that I do not know how I would have survived Ketsana with only the clothes on my back, and my undying faith.

Especially since my sister says the pedicab driver across the street continues to mindlessly ferry people to and fro while playing Christmas songs.

***

I thank everybody who has joined me and millions of others in the crusade of helping the calamity victims not only in the Philippines but also in Vietnam, Indonesia and the American Samoa. As we sleep tonight, many of them are still hungry or in search of their loved ones, or sick and injured. Let's keep them in our prayers. Many, many thanks, and God bless us all. ~~~ To those who still want to donate or help spread links to relief centers, please check out my older posts. Thank you for your kind heart.



Thursday, October 1, 2009

"Please give me back my smile."

(photo source: nzherald.co.nz)
Skywatch and a still picture of the tsunami aftermath in American Samoa a few days ago.


(photo source: BBC News)
Skywatch over Indonesia after the killer quakes a few days ago.


(photo source: BBC News)
~~Watery Wednesday meme entry~~

Twenty feet of floodwaters swallowed these houses, and so much more in a month's worth of rain that poured non-stop for 12 hours in the Philippines over the weekend.



My dear friends, here are a few more links to our desperate brothers and sisters
in the Philippines, Indonesia, and the American Samoa. Let us help them get their smiles back:


1. The Catholic Relief Services. It is the international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. It provides assistance to people in more than 100 countries and territories based on need, regardless of race, nationality or creed.

This week alone, it has responded to 4 emergencies, including those in the Philippines and Indonesia.

To donate via phone: 1-877-HELP-CRS

To donate online: www.crs.org

To write a check: Catholic Relief Services
P.O. Box 17090
Baltimore, MD 21203-7090

(source: Thomson Reuters Foundation AlertNet - Alerting Humanitarians to Agencies)

2. To donate to Samoa (as I am not sure that it is included in the countries CRS serves, maybe so): please contact the American Red Cross
ARC - 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767)

Disaster Relief Fund:

American Red Cross
P.O. Box 37243
Washington, DC 20013
or your local ARC chapter

For a secure online donation: http://www.redcross.org/


(source: the American Red Cross. org.)


***


Thank you, everyone, for your patience. Would you link this up to your site (write a short article) so maybe we can gather more readership and touch more humanitarian hearts? We can't help these countries enough. Their needs are immediate. Many, many thanks from the bottom of my heart.

An Article on Southeast Asia Improving Its Response to Disasters

(lifted from CTV news, Oct. 1, 2009)

About 60 per cent of the world's natural disasters happen in Southeast Asia, and in the last few years important measures have been taken to limit the impact of these tragedies in the world's most vulnerable region.

The region is fraught with environmental circumstances that challenge rescue and relief organizations, experts say.

The last few days bear witness to just how fragile the region is:

Two earthquakes have hit Indonesia, killing hundreds of people and leaving thousands trapped under rubble.

A deadly Tsunami washed over the nation of Samoa, killing at least 150 people.

Residents of the Philippines are still trying to recover from devastating floods and Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos are bracing for a dangerous typhoon.

These low-lying Southeast Asian countries are located on "extremely active" grounds, said Alison Bird, an earthquake seismologist with the Geological Survey of Canada.

There are several subduction zones in Southeast Asia that not only trigger earthquakes but spark volcanic eruptions and stir tsunamis.

Tsunamis are the most dangerous of natural disasters, Bird said in an interview with CTV.ca Thursday.

"Even the smallest wave can go quite far inland and cause quite the destruction," she said. "You can't outrun these -- they're too fast, too powerful."

Part of what makes the region so vulnerable is the land's topography. There's not a lot to protect residents who live close to the coast from a tsunami or even high winds.

Plus, poverty and dire circumstances has forced hundreds of people to live close to the water, putting them and their shelter in immediate danger of being destroyed.

Smart structures

A key element to helping people survive these disasters is better infrastructure and smarter engineering, said Bird.

"It doesn't take a lot to make structures earthquake resistant," she said. "It's been proven that there's an incredible increase in people's chance of survival."

Building better shelter and training Southeast Asian volunteers about survival has been a key mandate of the Red Cross, particularly since the calamity of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed nearly 230,000 people.

The Red Cross has built 5,500 homes in Indonesia since the disaster and has trained 1,200 volunteers in first aid, emergency evacuation, shelter and community preparedness, said Christina Lopes, a spokesperson for the organization.

"Build back better is our policy," she said. "The homes were built with more earthquake-resistant materials and they are better located, further up from the shore."

She said the recent disasters have shown her how much better residents in the area are prepared than they were back in 2004.

People were quicker to evacuate and the impact -- though devastating -- was not quite as deep.

She said she wouldn't be surprised if the Red Cross relied less on international assistance this time around than it did when it dealt with previous disasters.

Tough to overcome

Despite the overwhelming response from disaster relief charities to Southeast Asia, there are some obstacles that simply can't be overcome with charity work.

The challenges of developing countries are always exacerbated during a crisis. Weak and aging infrastructure turns into washed out roadways and bridges that make it impossible for relief workers to deliver supplies in a timely fashion.

"Poverty makes difficult living conditions even more difficult when there's a disaster," said Wesley Normington, a spokesperson for GlobalMedic -- an organization that sends paramedics and police officers from the Greater Toronto Area overseas to help out during a catastrophe.

The organization has sent several people to Indonesia to help with rescue and relief efforts.
"Their sewage system gets backed up which makes flooding worse. People don't have funds to purchase new items for their homes that would help them survive or they can't get themselves to a hospital," he said. "In the third world, they can't afford transportation so they have to walk for days to get to the nearest health care."

However, because the region is so prone to natural disasters, relief agencies have learned from experience over the years and have begun to coordinate their efforts.

Best of all, Normington said, accountability of the charities have drastically improved.

"Accountability is probably the most important thing that has come out after the (2004) tsunami," he said. "Not only are people more aware now but steps have been taken by the international community to make sure charities are more accountable."
Bird agreed that things have certainly improved since the 2004 disaster and credited public education.

"The tsunami really woke a lot of people up and education goes a long way," she said.


***
I want to thank everyone who has extended most valuable and needed help to the Philippines. It seems as though there is no end to all the tragedies. With one out, another one comes in. It is very sad. But there is no devastation so immense that can break a faithful heart. Thank you for crossing the lines, for embracing brotherhood, and for giving LOVE a whole new meaning. I am a mere stranger to many of you but you have not been hesitant. Let us now help our brothers and sisters in Indonesia, Vietnam, and the American Samoa. I will post the international relief organizations here for said countries as soon as I can. Or if you have them, please forward them to me, too. God bless you, my precious, blogger friends, my brothers and sisters.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Thank you for helping us.


My dear friends, this is the map of my country, with the darkened areas severely affected by the Typhoon Ketsana over the weekend. 12 hours of rain (a month's worth), 20 feet of sweeping, muddy floodwaters in Marikina, Pasig, and Antipolo, and over 300 thousand lives displaced.

This is an excerpt from the letter of my friend Melodie of Immateur Anthropologist, to me, and I forward it to you.

If anyone from abroad is planning to send donations in cash or in kind to any of the relief organizations in the Philippines, please be informed that at this point, the relief orgs prefer that assistance from abroad be sent in the form of cash/funds.
Help is needed ASAP and relief orgs do not have the time / personnel / resources right now to arrange for the release of any shipment of goods from customs. They need the funds to purchase food, medicines, drinking water, toiletries, blankets, mosquito nets, etc.


Click
here for an updated list of verified relief orgs. (More organizations are setting up their own operations.) Some of them do not accept cash donations of course as they are government agencies. But maybe you can send help through your relatives here.

Here is the link to the Philippine National Red Cross.

We thank you for helping us help our countrymen. Please contact any Filipino in your neighborhood, and see if their church accepts help by any means. Thank you so much.

(photo lifted from Yahoo Pictures)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Litratong Pilipino: Palengke

The title literally means Philippine Photo/s: (the) Marketplace
Since the holidays are coming up, I'm taking the opportunity to showcase some of the products that are very much part of the Philippine tradition: the Christmas parols or Christmas lanterns. These are usually made of bamboo, crepe paper, and a candle inside (I don't know how it's done without burning the lantern). More sophisticated ones are made of shells from Capiz, a region in the Philippines known for its mother-of-pearl shells.
Parol comes from the Spanish word farol, which means lantern. Our intricate tradition owes much of its roots to 400 years of Spanish influence. Seldom will you see a Filipino household without at least one hanging parol by the window at Christmastime. It symbolizes the star that led the Three Wise Men to the manger where Jesus was born.

This is an example of Capiz-shell-made Christmas parol, for export. You bet it is expensive. But go to the Philippines and even kids will make you export-quality ones! LOL!

The guitar shows the Philippine flag. That's all for now, folks. Hope you enjoyed this one!

(photo source: hubpages.com)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I swear

Earlier today, Aris was running a fever, and had all the classic symptoms of a cold. That was all it had to take to set the stage.

I had done everything else from the medicines, the massage, the fixing and changing of the sheets. Even the tissues, small trash can just for him, the alcohol for his hands. And the remote. Everything except for one. He wanted to cuddle. I relented after he'd begged about three times. Locked in that firehot hold, I braced myself for the expected monologue. "You don't want to come here because you think I have swine flu? Well, at least if I die, this is the last thing you'll remember." I told him to can it. Did he? Oh no. "And then, when I die, you're free to marry again. You know." (Will you stop?) "Is it time for my medicine yet? I've probably overdosed myself, maybe I will really die soon." (Arrrghh! Eeeee! All this drama, I don't want to hear another word of it any more.)

Of course he was teasing me, but he was so corny and I finally managed to bite his arm and run for my life.

This house is full of it. Even the three year-old has the bug. When denied something he really likes at the moment, he goes "Mom, look at me. I'm sad." Eh?

And how so the first born? Last night, he showed me the letters he made for Santa. (Don't ask.) He wrote 4 letters, asking for 4 different items for each of us. I said, "Well, remove the apostrophe in like's." That was it. He threw into a fit because he said he used an inkpen, and erasing was hard. I said to rewrite, there was plenty of paper. Did he? No. He went to the room and wrote this:

and gave it to me. I said, "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings Matthew but I just want you to write well. What would Santa say?" It didn't work. He came back out with this:
Man above! What's with the testosterone level in this house? So I said, "Come here, let's talk." He came out and I gave him a lecture on how a seven-year-old who is in the advanced classes should be careful with his letters. I said, a smart boy listens to his mom and does not get frustrated so quickly. Blah-blah-blah. I guess that did it. Eventually, he got 3 letters done. Except for one. He said, "Mom, what does Dad want for Christmas?" The Dad, of course, heard, and was on cue, "If I live to see Christmas, son."

Really. Only in this family. In the end, he got his letters sealed. I don't know what he asked the bearded man to give his dad. I hope the boy had sense enough to ask him for FORTITUDE for his mother to bear with more of this onslaught in the coming years.




This Way Thurs-Way!

I think we were on our way to Williamsburg, VA when I spotted this. I don't know what that means, really. Please enlighten me.

Thanks!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - If Women Controlled the World




These images were emailed to me by another friend. Aren't they funny?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Well.

Fall has fallen. It is 4:15 in the morning, Sept. 22nd. My son wants snow TODAY but I said we live in North Carolina, where it hardly ever snows even in the deadest of winters.

I am very sleepy. But I am at work. The floor is quiet, thank God. Some nights are just glorious. (But I prayed really hard for this from the HOUSE, not just from the CAR, on the way here.) Answered prayer, thank You, Jesus!!

Yesterday, my neighbor knocked on my door with a plateful of tamales. Now I DID not have the slightest idea what it was, but tasted one. Very flavorful. I brought some to work last night, and Zulma (remember Zulma of the Picadillo post?) said she could guess my neighbor was from El Salvador because the food was wrapped in banana leaves. She also said it was a killer. That means very good. She said nobody makes tamales better than her mom and that the one I brought last night was cooked well. I heated mine up quickly and ate it hot. With my hot cup of cocoa. Sumptuous. (Don't know what tamales is? I had to google it myself - it's made of corn husk, pork or chicken, and an assortment of vegetables. The meat and vegetables are inside the soft, flour-y mixture. Go figure.) But now I have to make it up to Senora Carolina and dream up some dish to return the favor. Ai-ai-ai, gotta brush up on my Spanish!

I am presently reading Sakharov Speaks. Sometimes.

I want to eat some PILI. Not the candy. The pulp. And dip 'em in soy sauce with pepper and a dash of lemon.

I'm wondering how long it takes to carve a pumpkin because Matthew wants us to do one.

That's the end of my random thoughts.

***
Good morning ~ hope this one is bright and sunny!



Monday, September 21, 2009

Macro Monday Entry




We were at Farmer's Market a week ago, and had fun snapping pictures! The owners of these pumpkins had them in all sizes! Happy Fall!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Stills - The Purple Color



Halloween is in the air, I guess. Can you tell?

Today's Flowers

[One day, as a crowd milled around, jostling and elbowing Jesus,
a woman drew near
with faith in her heart and one thought in her mind:
"If only I can touch the tassel of His cloak,
I'll be healed!"
She did - and was healed.
Then Jesus stopped.
"Who touched Me?" He asked.
Dull-witted, as usual, the Apostles answered,
"Master, how can You ask such a question
when there are so many people
pressing about You on every side?"
But He ignored them and insisted,
"Someone touched Me.
I can tell My healing power's been at work."

By this time, everybody realized something serious'd happened.
They held their breath and backed away,
then blurted out:
"I didn't do anything."
"Don't look at me!"
"I didn't even come near Him!"
And the poor woman,
trembling and alone in the circle they'd cleared,
admitted, "The one who touched You - it was I."]
(Text source: That Man Is You by Louis Evely)
*****

I love that book, I read portions of it every once in a while. I thought the text goes well with the flowers I chose for today's meme. I hope you enjoyed both. Beautiful Sunday, my friends!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Six-Word Saturday

(picture source: Funny Pictures of Babies)


is MOM!

It is the most popular word in the house, and this being a Saturday, it reverberates around the walls, at maybe 100mph.


'Mom, look!....'
'Mom, I said milk.'
'Mom, how does meat feel in your hands?'
'Mom, where are the scissors?'
'Mom, c'mere!'
'Mom, the house is on fire!' ~~~okay, I made this one up.~~~


******

I haven't joined in a while. I hope this pretty much explains it. (grin) Have a good one, everybody!









Conflict

Have you ever been in a sticky situation, where it called only for split seconds to make decisions? I often find myself doing that.


I once had to do a straight catheter on a man who had urinary retention. He'd been calling all shift for assistance to the bathroom, each time with zero output. Bladder scanning revealed 306ml of urine. I obtained an order for a straight catheter, which would immediately empty his bladder and offer relief. I was right INSIDE, about 4-5 inches, when a CNA slowly knocked on the door and whispered to my ear, "Sorry to interrupt, Cherie, but whenever you are done, Ms. X in Room So and So had died."


WHAT? The nearest nurse was a floor away. I told her to call the Supervisor. BUT at the same time, I had to do something, immediately. Pronouncing the dead was one thing. Making SURE that the person was truly deceased was another. To top it all, leaving the present procedure you are doing right in the middle of it just complicates everything else. What to do?


The urine by now was NOT flowing. (And to this day, I wonder why. Catheterization is a very easy procedure, and one I'd done countless of times prior to this incident.) I inserted a little more. Thirty seconds more. None. I decided to withdraw, and explain to my patient that there was an emergency. I said I was going to be back as soon as possible.


I rushed to the said room with my stethoscope, and did my assessment. The patient in Room So And So was really gone. I pronounced her dead by 1:45am. The Supervisor did not show up till after 20 minutes after that. I couldn't have waited that long.


In the meantime, no action from Mr. Catheter's room. Then, about 30 minutes after I left him, his call bell rang. The patient had GONE on his own, for some reason. My earlier poking must have stimulated his bladder, and as a result, he went and WENT, wetting his bed, and everything. By this time, he had also been waiting for me. But the CNA and I were busy with the body. And then I had to do the necessary notifications. It was all bad timing. The CNA rushed to him as soon as she was done. I was fortunate to have worked with a good one.


Needless to say, the gentleman was not very happy. To him, I would always be the nurse who left him, and from that day onwards, would not allow me to do any catheterization on him, although he would let me stick his arm for blood work.


Looking back, given the same unfortunate circumstance, I don't think I would have hesitated to do exactly the same thing. But it is instances like this that leave me bothered, wishing in my heart that things could have happened differently, but also knowing that just at that very moment, couldn't. And I am often left feeling bad about myself, sorry for the whole sick situation.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Litratong Pilipino: Karatula Blues

(rough translation: pay before undressing - a sign by the poolside)
(eh???)
(uling, please, ULING - meaning charcoal)
(er, you get it, right?)


These were emailed to me by a friend a while back, which I thought to save for future 'use.' Well, here they are! (With all due respect.)

But, puh-leeesee forgive me for laughing myself off of my chair. Hahahahahaha!!!!


This is a first post for me for Litratong Pilipino (Philippine Photo/s), another meme. It is late, but I hope you still enjoy this post! Karatula, which was the theme I chose to join, means signboard.

Mommy Moments: Treasured Pictures




I find looking at my son's baby pictures very relaxing after a tiring night at work. These are pictures of Matthew and AJ when they were 3, and a few months old, respectively. At 3, M already acted like a big brother, so protective of AJ. Now, AJ is 3, but still acts like a baby. LOL!

This is my first time to join the Mommy Moments meme. I hope you enjoyed the pictures.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Lord's Commandments, Interpreted

Matthew writing ways on how to keep holy the Sabbath day



Our son is enjoying his Sunday school. When they first learned about the Commandments, it was most interesting how the kids interpreted them. They were even taught a song to help them remember all 10.

When we got home, M set to work. I was wondering what kept him up. He said he was writing house rules. He was writing rules on how to get closer to God. He put them up the kitchen wall for everybody to read. Here they are:

1. No pushing.
2. No punching.
3. No fighting.
4. No yelling or screaming when a person is sleeping.
5. No teasing.
6. No bad words.
7. No scaring.
8. No breaking.
9. No scratching.
10. No switching of lights on and off.
11. No panicking.
12. No worrying.

Now, I have no doubt he means his brother and himself. But isn't it amazing how little kids can actually translate the fears of the adults, too? Worrying, for instance, which Catholics (like our family) seem to have a monopoly on. But I guess no one is exempt.
We all know too well that the Commandments can be summed up in one word: LOVE. The sad part is, sometimes we need kids to remind us about it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Skywatch

The clouds looked like sharks fighting, at the break of dawn.
I think this is a better shot, taken just a split second later.
Closer now.
A few turns and moments later
Finally, at the beach.

******
We went to Wrightsville, NC, and enjoyed the beach two days ago, with friends. We've been to three different beaches this summer, and had a great time!! Thank God for good weather!!




Thursday, September 10, 2009

LOL

My friends, I have a thousand and one things on my plate right now, so I can't blog long. Instead, I'll leave you with another one of our family anecdotes:

We all brought Matthew to school today. And it just hit me! One surefire way to keep Aristotle awake in the car is:

NOT coffee
NOT Red Bull
NOT rolling the window down an inch when the aircon is on
NOR music, NOR plenty of talk:


JUST let Cherie drive. Wee-heeeee!!!
^-^
Hope everybody has a fabulous day ahead, and gets to finish his/her tasks!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Big Boy Joy

paid for it himself with his own money
had himself harnessed
and up he went

~~~~~~

Sorry for the blurry images, guys. I wasn't EXACTLY thrilled.

THE GIRLS OF MY CHILDHOOD

Well, we're women now. But these are the 'girls' from my hometown in the Philippines. Sisters, friends, schoolmates. Now fellow-bloggers! I am so proud of them!! Please visit their sites, here in no particular order:



Jesusa's Corner


Anna's Tasa


My Hodgepodge


Thinking Aloud


In time


The Immateur Anthropologist


Of Mirrors and Reflections


These are the girls I grew up with, and who are a big part of what I am today. Next time, I'll tell you all about our hometown.

P.S. Would you head on over to AT LEAST one of their sites and then come back afterwards? Don't click that COMMENT button yet...I want to know what you think of 'my girls!'

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pepper Surprise

I didn't know until I saw this garden that we could use pepper to adorn our flower beds. Did you?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Before I continue,


here's a CELTIC BLESSING I found while cleaning up some clutter today:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
May the rain refresh you on your way.
May you go with God for all your journey,
now and forever.


~~~~~~


This is dedicated to all of you who read my blogs, that the Lord may guide you in your decisions in the coming week. God bless, my friends.

My Weekend Memoirs

We spent some time with friends over some traditional food. Below are two of my favorites. Please bear with me, if you don't like them.
Philippine rice cake, wrapped in banana leaves

Fish stew, with garden-fresh vegetables



US residents, let's enjoy our long Labor Day Weekend!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Nancy Saves a Feral Cat

I just love Nancy because she is all-heart. She is one of our most devoted, hard-working clinical assistants. She works double shifts as much as she can so she can enjoy her time off with her animals, all of which she has acquired by adoption.

She moved to NC from New York about seven years ago, and settled in this old house by Jordan Lake. Soon after she moved in, she's noticed several dogs milling about her area. Those were hunting dogs. One day, she tracked them back to their owner, and, long story short, the owner didn't want them, and Nancy had her first pets. Not long after that, she found a goat and I think two horses in her property. Whatever happened, they are now hers and thriving. In time, she also became the instant owner of two stray cats, one of which I named Boots.

Well, about a week ago, she was telling me about this feral cat she saw by the side of the road. Two nights ago, she was saying, she's finally trapped it, and took it home. It wouldn't eat, wouldn't drink. But scratched her like the devil.

Yesterday, she had the poor thing spayed. The reason she took it she said, was, she noticed it was TINY, but that there was a litter of kittens beside it (wherever in the woods), and a few more older-looking ones. So Nancy thought, this cat may have been pregnant twice already. Well, guess what, she was pregnant again when the vet spayed her. Of course, she's lost this litter now, but, hey?

What's with all these pregnancies? Can we do something about feral cats? It just tears me up! Is there a way to catch all the tomcats and have them neutered?

I am not a cat person, but I care for animals just as much as I care about people. It is a very sad situation, just leaving all these animals at the mercy of the environment. It's sickening.



This Flu Season

It is so funny - I wrote about us Filipinos heralding Christmas by the first of September. The weather starts getting cooler in the Philippines then. Well, guess what. It did over here, too. NC weather is so dreamy now. And I have started imagining the leaves turning into a mass of colors. Autumn is my favorite season of all, it is so pretty. But alas, autumn, too, brings with it a host of respiratory diseases. Many cold viruses thrive in low humidity, not the least of them H1N1.

Well, today, I received a letter from the county of Durham Health Department, and it goes thus:

Dear Licensed Nurse in Durham County:

Your name was made available to our health department by the NC Board of Nursing. We requested the information to assist us in developing a list of currently licensed county residents that will be available to help with a mass H1N1 immunization effort. Names of nurses were also provided to other health departments across the state.

At this time, it is projected that the H1N1 vaccine will be available between October 15, 2009 and January 31, 2010. As a community, we plan to inoculate up to 60,000 residents (depending on the guidelines), and we expect each person to require two vaccinations. It is during this time period that we will need many volunteers to help us staff mass immunization clinics.

If you are willing to volunteer, please fill out the enclosed survey and return it in to us. The survey can be folded and stamped for mailing. There will be no payment for your service, just a 'thank you' from many grateful citizens.

Sincerely.

**************
My friends, I encourage everyone to please have yourselves be vaccinated against H1N1 and the seasonal flu. They are different from each other, but are equally hazardous. Always wash your hands, and avoid touching your mucous membranes. Stock up on juices. Air out your house as often as possible. Keep warm.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Long Life

All right. I was heating my food up one night, and one of the staff saw me. And stopped. Because I was using a microwavable bowl. I said I was trying to be more healthy. I said, it was bad enough that I was 'nuking' my food without using plastic. So....

She was fascinated.

Well, another co-worker who overheard us joined in and said, I have something that you might like, Cherie. And I did like it, so here I am sharing it with you.

This is taken from wikiHow, the how-to manual that anyone can write or edit:

How to Live a Long Life

1. Eat healthy.
2. Introduce regular exercise into your life.
3. Develop a sleep schedule.
4. Drink plenty of water.
5. Think first. (all about safety, protective gear, looking before you leap)
6. Reduce causes of stress and depression in your life.
7. Give up smoking.
8. Be safe. (all about avoiding potentially dangerous activities like skydiving, bullfighting, or marriage heheheh)
9. Stock up on antioxidants. (fruits and veggies)
10. Avoid overindulgence.
11. Have yearly physicals.
12. Wear sunblock.
13. Try not to be afraid. (don't be afraid, be aware.)
14. Drink lots of tea.
15. Eat dark chocolate.
16. Drink one glass of red wine a day. (or consider eating red grapes instead)

******

I have a patient who told me his wife is still living and they've been married 59 years. I said, wow, that's a long, solid time! He said with a chuckle, Well, I've learned how to take orders. LOL!

Well, maybe we should, too! Here's to a long, healthy life, my dear friends! Cheers!



Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Today

I received a call from one of my closest friends in college, which is eons ago. It was so good to hear from her. We fell into good-natured reminiscing.

I received an email from one of my schoolmates in high school (er, double eons ago) about helping someone from our hometown (in the Philippines) write an essay.

I also received a message in my Facebook inbox from a co-worker, apologizing for her crass behavior the day before, and thanking me for pointing it out to her in private. (Her attitude affected the team.)

A few minutes ago, a friend had popped up in my yahoo messenger, and we played catch up.

And last but not least, you've all written comments on the dangling legs/feet picture, so I am writing this to divert your attention. Hahahaha!!

YOU ARE ALL AS 'DEER' TO ME AS CUPCAKES! THAT'S WHY I CARE ABOUT YOU! KEEP ON CALLING! KEEP ON WRITING! BE SAFE!

May God bless us all.



Wordless Wednesday

We were enjoying the ocean view from the balcony of our hotel room, when upon looking up, we saw these. While we sat on chairs, these kids sat right on the floor and dangled their legs. Fun is just spelled in so many different ways.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Job Description for Parents

Some of you may probably have already read this before. This is hilarious! I got this from my son's Sunday school teacher, who said she received this one day in her email. Longish, but loads of fun! Enjoy reading, everyone!

POSITION:
Mommy
Daddy
Or preferred title
JOB DESCRIPTION:
Long term, team players needed, for challenging, permanent work in an often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities! Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.
RESPONSIBILITIES:
The rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5. Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not from someone just crying wolf. Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers. Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, and an embarrassment the next. Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys, and battery operated devices. Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product. Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.
POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT & PROMOTION:
None. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you.
PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE:
None required unfortunately. On-the-job-training offered on a continually exhausting basis.
WAGES AND COMPENSATION:
Get this! You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.
BENEFITS:
While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered, this job supplies limitless opportunites for personal growth, unconditional love, and free hugs and kisses for life if you play your cards right.

Try this, Mommies...

I noticed that AJ had a little cough this morning, and thought I'd try a remedy I'd read about a while back: I applied VICKS all over his feet and put socks on 'em. Before noon, and throughtout the day, the cough was gone.

About Me

My photo
someone very blessed to walk this life with you