Sunday, August 31, 2008

100 Species Challenge (6-9)

I'm participating in the 100 Species Challenge started by Sarah Sours. You can read the previous entry here.

Voilà my growing list:
1. Shy grass
2. Lantana
3. Creeping fig
4. Ginger lily
5. Asian sword fern

This week, I'm adding four, starting with:

6. Hibiscus

We call it gumamela. In other places it's called rosemallow. In elementary school, we always used hibiscus to study the different parts of a flower (it's easy to spot its different parts I suppose). The plant grows pretty tall and can be used as a border or a natural fence. The flowers come in all sorts of colors. We also have the peach one, but I didn't see a bloom, so this one will do. Apparently, they make teas, jams, and other edible goodies from hibiscus, but as a kid, I mostly used the leaves and flowers to make homemade bubbles. Something about them make the soap extra thick or sticky, so we used to pound them and then mix them with regular soapy water. We twisted wires to make a bubble wand (though we also sometimes used papaya stalk sort of like a straw).

7. Bougainvillea

We call it the same thing in Filipino, but in a tagalized manner (something like bo-gan'vil-ya) Practically every house here has bougainvillea growing either on the ground or in a pot. It's woody and creeps upwards, so many use it to frame structures. People also like to plant it by the fence probably because it's thorny and can scratch up a careless burglar.:) The flowers come in many shades.

8. Quisqualis indica

We (at least my household) mistakenly refer to it as the "yesterday-today-tomorrow" plant, but it seems it's common name is either Chinese honeysuckle or Rangoon creeper. However, it does have the same properties as the correct YTT plant: the blooms change colors from a deep pink/red to light pink to white. Its fragrance is pretty potent (hated passing by ours when I was pregnant). It's also medicinal and its various parts can be used to treat diarrhea, fever, rheumatism etc.

9. Guava

We love the fruit (the one shown here is tiny - just had a harvest, lol). We eat it as it is or use it for cooking. The plant itself has many uses. The leaves and bark are commonly used in folk medicine (an especially necessary element in non-modern circumcision practices, lol). It's one of our power plants. Have one growing in your yard and you may never have to go to a drugstore at all.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

<3 <3 <3 Fangirl at Large, Pls Sedate and Keep in Custody When Spotted

*screaming like a bansheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee*
O hai, so I had like a major relapse.

Danke schön to 19Pittbull86 for uploading this video (Aaron Peirsol on Conan O'Brien in case it's not obvious).

Friday, August 29, 2008

La Graine de Moutarde

I'm participating in a Bible reading challenge hosted by a very inspiring young lady (that's you, Rachel;-)). Anybody who's interested in joining can find the
rules here.
When Marguerite was still an infant, I used to read a chapter of the book of Psalms to her in the early morning (classical poetry at night - I think I got this idea from "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn", lol, but anybody with a good foundation in literature is expected to be familiar with the Bible and Shakespeare). I think when she started getting more mobile and grabbing at the flimsy pages, I stopped. I have to remember all the ideals I had as a brand new mother (even our Spanish hour is so sporadic, I'm sure she learns more words from Dora than me and she doesn't even watch Dora!). I definitely want her to form her own devotion system as she grows up and I want to find a way to do it that motivates and encourages instead of forcing her into a habit. How did I end up talking about this?
Anyway, I'm actually following several online devotionals (plus doing a frequent perusal of Sue Buchanan's Duh-votions) and I told Rachel I'd simply incorporate the three chapters-a-day into my current system. Today's text was about the faith and mustard seed analogy in Luke chapter 17 (v.6 "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea', and it would obey you.") However, as I moved back into bed to read the entire chapter plus two others, my mind did a neat little trick and switched from Luke to Matthew in my memory, so I ended up reading Matthew chapters 17-19. I didn't even notice as there's also a mustard seed faith in Matt. 17 (v. 20 "...Because of your unbelief (as to why the disciples couldn't cast the demons in the epileptic child out); for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you." How very uncanny, I thought when I'd found out about my mistake. Anyway, it's definitely a welcome mistake as so many things from the chapters I read today are incredibly fitting in my life right now. You know how the Word of God is like a double-edged sword? It can very well be like those target missiles that unrelentingly follow their, well, targets. I mean, you can run and dodge all you want, but it always finds you and the message gets delivered.
The following are some of the lessons that I was reminded of today:
Matt. 17
v 21 - the beauty behind prayer and fasting
Matt. 18
v. 3,4 - being as children, humbling myself
v. 6-9 - the gravity of causing others and myself to sin
v. 15-17 - dealing with an erring fellow Christian (thus avoiding the tendency to gossip)
v. 21-35 - Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (ouch, aimed right at yours truly and my tendency to nurse anger and grudges)
Matt. 19
v. 21 - how to esteem earthly possessions
v. 26 - "...with God all things are possible"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I *heart* Your Blog

Muchísimas gracias to Annika and Maricris for giving me the Brillante Weblog Premio yet again. Maricris also gave me this one:

And now I'm passing it on to other deserving bloggers as stated in the rules (put logo on your blog, add link from the person who awarded you, give to other blogs, add those blogs' links, leave a message to the bloggers about their award). Some of the blogs I love:
Annika's Blog, Starr Salon, Simply Home Remedies, A Pondering Heart, and A City on a Hill.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

ABC Meme

I was tagged by Annika et voilà :)
  • Attached or Single?: Attached
  • Best Friend?: I know best is best, but each one of the ones I consider my best is the best in his or her own way :)
  • Cake or Pie?: Cake! No, wait. Pie! I mean cake! No. Pie! Gah, I can't decide so I'll have both. (Shush. Don't let the weight ticker hear.)
  • Day of Choice?: It used to be Friday, but I like Saturdays better now.
  • Essential Item?: Computer
  • Flavor of Ice Cream?: Vanilla (Yesss, I am so vanilla. *snort*)
  • Gummy Bears or Worms?: Worms, easier to eat (Gah, you put both in mouth, chew, and swallow. Eating gummy candy = nuclear physics, ja?)
  • Hometown?: Marikina valley
  • Indulgences?: books
  • January or July?: January (the year's still new and full of hope)
  • Kids?: The Marvelous Marguerite
  • Last Movie I saw in a Theater?: can't say
  • Middle Name?: Middle name here is mother's maiden name which I'm not giving out because it's usually a security question. Edit: Scratch that. I'm married! My middle name is PAPA, my own maiden name, GAH!
  • Number of Siblings?: One (younger sister)
  • Oranges or Apples?: Both
  • Phobia or Fear?: Aren't they both fear, only the first is unreasonable? Hmm, I choose... MANIA!!!
  • Quote?: "Everybody loves a good jazz square." Ryan Evans, HSM 1. It's true! Everybody does!
  • Reason to Smile?: MARGUERIIIIIIIITE
  • Season?: Cool and dry (December to January - Dry! I obviously have forgotten about those horrible December typhoons)... tropical life, want it?
  • Tag Four More: Frances, Chell, Christine, and Maricris
  • Unknown Fact About Me?: Up until I was in college, I used to sleep with the light on. I wasn't scared. I just always fell asleep reading. Make it two facts. I only need one pillow - for my head. I used to cuddle books. Make it three. I never had any use for stuffed toys.
  • Vegetarian or Oppressor of Animals?: Working towards being an ovo-lacto-pesco-vegetarian
  • Worst Habit?: sarcasm
  • Xrays or Ultrasounds?: Ultrasounds, simply because of nicer associations (or not so nice. Hyperemesia, remember?) I only ever had to do xrays for routine physical checkups.
  • Your favourite food?: I'm not like that.
  • Zodiac?: Scorpio

Monday, August 25, 2008

Daybook 19

The Simple Woman

For Today...

Outside my Window...night skies
I am thinking...about how I'll schedule writing this week (this should be fixed, but I have some other non-regular gig things going on and I need to find time for them), how to effectively lose weight, how to schedule blog posts (yes, I confess, I do scheduled posting when I know I have a busy week ahead), how to make Marguerite's birthday celebration as eco-friendly as possible, possible parenting article topics... and, okay, maybe I'm still thinking a little bit about Aaron Peirsol. Okay, scratch that, maybe I'm still gushing like a busted water pipe about Aaron Peirsol ;-p
I am thankful for
...the energy to keep up with Marguerite

From the kitchen
...nothing I can get credit for although we do have chocolate mousse and little cheesecake sqaures. I haven't been spending time in the kitchen lately so all the baked goodies are store-bought. I'll definitely make up for this.

I am creating organizer for Marguerite's birthday; stories, articles, and essays; various pending craft projects

I am wearing
... shorts and a holey shirt (Grunge lives on! LOL)

I am reading
...Entrepreneur magazine

I am hoping lose pounds and make something happen to that weight ticker in the right margin :)

I am hearing
...whirring fan, humming computer, children playing, the TV from the other room

Around the house
...a miracle - every one of Marguerite's toys is put away; It's 8pm and the place does not look ravaged!

One of my favorite things
...high tea ("She thought that maybe - just maybe - Western Civilization was in a decline because people did not take time to take tea at four o'clock," from EL Konigsburg's The View from Saturday)

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week
... accomplish as many writing assignments as I can, finish one of my fiber projects, pin Husband down and ply him with caffeine for a business meeting, get in touch with Subic friends...

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you

This was taken by Husband when we were up in Binangonan checking out the petroglyphs. We had to walk through a tunnel and our friend Dorothy wanted a picture of us walking towards the light.:)

Here I Go Stereotyping

Husband and I have been meaning to check out this vegan restaurant-cum-craft shop in UP (a very "UP-type" place near Sara's, the infamous, er, legendary watering hole at the Gulod frequented by students during vacant hours whereupon they show up in their next class - say the 5:30 to 7pm PI100 - all red in the face and very sleepy with speech kinda slurred too. Umm, just to put it out there... I'm really not talking about myself. Rilly!) and we finally did last Saturday with Christine. It's called Likha Diwa. It serves vegan (some seafood as well) fare and sells handcrafted items. It's a neat little place with a great ambience. Then again, I'm from UP so I'm not sure if you can go by what I say; it's just the kind of place that appeals to me.
The walls currently feature an exhibit of Maia San Diego's artwork (now I'm not sure if I got the artist's name right). She's a 12-yr-old girl under a home study program. There might be a nuance of difference (because she is enrolled in a regular school, only she opted to do the work at home), but allow me to go, "See? Another extraordinary homeschooler!"

I bravely post a pic with yours truly looking like that only because I love the expression on Marguerite's face; Marguerite eating her wild mushroom quesadillas; Marguerite's hair after she did away with her Chun-Liish 'do

That girl is an unrepetant doubledipper; All dark and brooding because we said we already had to go bye-bye

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fangirl Rebuked (in Pentecostal Terms)

So. Most of the hits I've gotten since the last post were from people googling Aaron Peirsol. I don't know why I'm surprised when I've been doing the same thing for days now (Google Blog Search, you'll get an ode out of me one of these days). Apparently, fangirling is a real epidemic during the Olympics. Let me see, past Olympic obsessions? Hmm, I think this would be my first, although I remember being fascinated by Alexei Nimov and Dmitri Sautin several Olympics ago. I know it wasn't during the Athens one because I had more pressing matters to attend to that year (started a new job, moved to the jungle, worked on my thesis proposal as well as on passing a graduate class I showed up in exactly once - successfully I might add ;-D, prepared for my wedding, etc...). Anyway, my actual point is that getting hits because of Aaron Peirsol made me feel guilty somehow (I'm a pastor's kid so - not sure if this is a universal rule - it really doesn't take much to make me feel guilty. Man, I spent my growing up years and some just feeling guilty), so to show the world that I'm having my weltanschauung (gah, Comparative Literature 101 has a way of sneaking up on me when I least expect it) come from the right place again, I'm posting pictures of my daughter. Yes, folks, we are working on taming the fangirl.

If you must know, I did choose the pics that didn't show too many of my chins and layers of gut blubber ;-p Garrr, that weight ticker is mocking me.

Marguerite wouldn't let her daddy hold on to her, but she did have a death grip on those bars. She didn't want to sit next to him either. Next thing you know she'll be scanning the ads for her own place.:(

Friday, August 22, 2008

Because Nobody Would Take Me up on My Offer to Rave about Aaron Peirsol

I'm a tween in a 30+ year old's body. It's pathetic, but what can I do? I've always been a fangirl (You did get to read my nostalgic little post about NKOTB, right?). Last week I was gaga over Gerry Butler, but the Olympics happened and my affections were transferred to US backstroke legend Aaron Peirsol. This crush will probably last only until the closing ceremonies (perhaps it's even already waning now as I write this post since the swimmers are gone from the limelight; however, there's always YouTube and a treasure trove of videos over at Please allow me to rhapsodize: Oh,Teh Internets, you are a godsend), but right now I'm googling like mad and stalking any site with even just a passing mention of Peirsol's name.
And then dNeero initiated this conversation about Michael Phelps. If you read the way I answered, you can see I peppered the survey with mention of Aaron Peirsol (gah, I'm always on the verge of misspelling his last name - or maybe it was his ancestors who misspelled it? That's something to chew on right there.*rolls eyes because midlife-approaching women acting like tweens are sillier than actual tweens. And really very sad. sigh*) because people should know better than to give me an opening - even a minuscule crack. So, yeah, I pretty much *heart* Aaron Peirsol and just ignore my husband as he rolls his eyes and mutters, "Here we go again."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

No Cellphone at the Moment

Hi. If you've been trying to text me and I'm not replying, that's because Husband is using my phone (he dropped his cellphone Tuesday morning and the LCD(?) is busted). So, if you need to get in touch with me, please do so via landline or email. Thanks. :)

100 Species Challenge (3-5)

Here's my second entry in the 100 Species Challenge started by Sarah Sours. Previous entry is found here.

Growing list: (in their common names as I like those better)
1. Shy grass
2. Lantana

I'm adding three this week. Here goes:

3-4. Ficus pumila and Bilimbi

Ficus pumila. This is the vine covering the wall of our garden. Its common name is Creeping Fig, but for some reason the Filipinos refer to it as ivy (I'm opposed to this as that's my name and I want people to be accurate about my plant equivalent:D). It's indestructible, so think long and hard before growing them outdoors. Some use them as a decorative houseplant, but most of us here in the Philippines naively plant them to cover walls and other structures thinking that would be quaint only to regret it later because the things take over everything. It's okay if you're diligent about pruning every freakin hour, this way they stay contained (although I sincerely doubt this) and their leaves stay small. As you can see, we've given up on ours and we just meekly allow its invasion. Again, I read about the plant having fruits but ours is all leaves.

Bilimbi. The fruit-bearing tree from which the birdhouse hangs is commonly known as Kamias around here, but its English common names are "Cucumber Tree" and "Tree Sorrel". I love the kamias fruit. It's sour and juicy although eat too much of it and your teeth will get fuzzy. You can also have the preserved sweet version, but I like it fresh and so sour each bite makes you squirm. The entire plant is utilized for something. It is definitely herbal, ex. the leaves and flowers can be boiled to treat various maladies like coughs, thrush, birthing-related inflammation, etc.

5. Nephrolepis multiflora

There are so many fern varieties in the Philippines, but I do think that this is the Asian swordfern (correct me if I'm wrong). I really don't know much about it, whether it's edible or not (we have some varieties that we put in soup or salad) or if it has medicinal properties. It pretty much just appears and grows like a weed. I need to look into this more.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

These Are the Days (Don't Read if You're Eating or Planning to Eat After)

Husband got home from work and he was barely inside the house when I greeted him with:
"Guess what your daughter handed me this morning in a very delicate pincer grip."
He knew it right away. (My mom had guessed a knife(!) at first and increasingly got hysterical as her guesses became more and more fatal)
Anyway, the thing had somehow slipped out of Marguerite's diaper (actually I know why, her dipe was already pee-logged and sagging, so no wonder - awesome parenting skills around here, eh?) and since she had shucked her pjs off (she does a lot of stripping these days. I suppose she's just proud that she can do it. Also put on loose shirts, if anyone wants to know:)), it rolled out with no trouble. It was dry and pebble-like and when she handed it to me, I... curiously took it. I know, I know, I know! EW!
Anyway, as soon as I realized what it was (it didn't smell, so it took a bit to register) I moved on auto-pilot and into action with wipes and then off to the bathroom (we were actually already getting ready for her bath when this happened). I reached for the germicidal soap ("Oh, you mean the one I use," Husband cut in) and got as purgatorial as I could. You should know I was emitting incredulous little shrieks the whole time, as well as laughing and groaning at intervals. Fortunately, Marguerite thought I was being funny.
After the whole poop episode, I slumped down in a heap of pillows badly needing a drink while my daughter demanded that I take her out to play in her tent. And as soon as my nerves were no longer in a mad jangle, I did as she asked.
Man, days like this can't be beat! Sometimes I wonder why in the same universe some can win 8 olympic gold medals and some are handed poop by their daughter. As I watched my daughter play, it belatedly occurred to me to be thankful that she hadn't tried to taste it. And speaking of the Olympics AND since I'm being all vulgar with tales of delicious motherhood, I gotta ask: Anybody else think Aaron Peirsol is HOTT?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Daybook 18

The Simple Woman

For Today...

Outside my Window...very dark; rainless, but starless, as well; the bright full moon surrounded by a brownish ring peeks now and then out of wisps of black clouds
I am writing schedule for the week; how to end the article I'm currently working on
I am thankful for...yesterday's holiday and Husband getting to spend time with us
From the kitchen...leftovers from yesterday (it's a few minutes before 2am)
I am creating...a long list of articles and stories
I am wearing...nightshirt
I am reading...Toujours Provence by Peter Mayle (when I get the time to just sit and read)
I am hoping finalize major details of Marguerite's 2nd birthday celebration

I am hearing
...whirring fan, humming computer, some traffic from the main thoroughfare

Around the house
...Marguerite's tent right smack in the middle of things; toys incongruously scattered all over (she's learning to pick up after herself, don't worry)
One of my favorite things...serendipitous finds at secondhand bookshops
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week
...finish different writing assignments, update WAHM blog

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you

That's my kid giving the camera 'tude.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I'd Like to Thank My Family...

Thanks to Marye for giving me this bloggy award:

So the rules of the award are:

1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you
3. Give to seven other blogs
4. Add links to those blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blogs.

Thus I now pass on to seven other bloggers this lovely award:

All That Is Good - such an inspiring family

Annika's Blog - lovely person, has great tastes, a kindred spirit
sara's art*house - very creative (love all the vibrant colors)
The Boulie Blog - very artistic (love her creations)
Marikenya - very informative, inspires interest and affection for our city
The Crafty Crow - a true godsend, a great resource for parents
Tip Junkie - another great resource, very creative and inspiring


It's Time for Blog Action Day Again

Were you able to participate last year? This year, it's about poverty. Watch the video below to find out how you can be involved in Blog Action Day 2008.

Friday, August 15, 2008

100 Species Challenge (I do claim to love botany)

I'm participating in the 100 Species Challenge. Here's how it works:

1. Participants should include a copy of these rules and a link to this entry in their initial blog post about the challenge. I will make a sidebar list of anyone who notifies me that they are participating in the Challenge.

2. Participants should keep a list of all plant species they can name, either by common or scientific name, that are living within walking distance of the participant’s home. The list should be numbered, and should appear in every blog entry about the challenge, or in a sidebar.

3. Participants are encouraged to give detailed information about the plants they can name in the first post in which that plant appears. My format will be as follows: the numbered list, with plants making their first appearance on the list in bold; each plant making its first appearance will then have a photograph taken by me, where possible, a list of information I already knew about the plant, and a list of information I learned subsequent to starting this challenge, and a list of information I’d like to know. (See below for an example.) This format is not obligatory, however, and participants can adapt this portion of the challenge to their needs and desires.

4. Participants are encouraged to make it possible for visitors to their blog to find easily all 100-Species-Challenge blog posts. This can be done either by tagging these posts, by ending every post on the challenge with a link to your previous post on the challenge, or by some method which surpasses my technological ability and creativity.

5. Participants may post pictures of plants they are unable to identify, or are unable to identify with precision. They should not include these plants in the numbered list until they are able to identify it with relative precision. Each participant shall determine the level of precision that is acceptable to her; however, being able to distinguish between plants that have different common names should be a bare minimum.

6. Different varieties of the same species shall not count as different entries (e.g., Celebrity Tomato and Roma Tomato should not be separate entries); however, different species which share a common name be separate if the participant is able to distinguish between them (e.g., camillia japonica and camillia sassanqua if the participant can distinguish the two-”camillia” if not).

7. Participants may take as long as they like to complete the challenge. You can make it as quick or as detailed a project as you like. I’m planning to blog a minimum of two plants per week, complete with pictures and descriptions as below, which could take me up to a year. But you can do it in whatever level of detail you like.

Et je commence. Here are my first entries. I'm starting with two right away because I meant to start this earlier, but got too busy with something else.

1. Mimosa pudica

It's the one with the pink pompom-like flowers. We call it "Makahiya" in Filipino or "Shy Grass" in English. However, when I googled it, I found out from Wikipedia that it also goes by the following names: sensitive plant, humble plant, shameplant, sleeping grass, and touch-me-not. It's a very entertaining plant for its reactive movement: it closes when you touch it or shake it. The breeze or any other source of vibration (sometimes even loud sounds) can make the leaves close up too. They are everywhere here. Filipinos trample them without a second thought because they're considered as weeds.
They're very hardy and can withstand the trampling though. It was interesting to learn from one of my Korean students that they are sold rather expensively in Korea and other countries as well. The plant has herbal properties and medicinal purposes. It can be boiled into a sort of tea to relieve asthma attacks (I know this first hand), but it is also used as a diuretic and alterant.

2. Lantana

We found this growing wild up in the mountains, thanks probably to birds or insects that had distributed them. I don't think they're native to the Philippines, but they're everywhere. They come in various colors as well. I got some for the garden once, but they're kind of a thug and take over everything. They proliferate rather effusively and since our garden space was small, they had to go. It's interesting to note how the color of the flowers change as they mature. I read somewhere that they're supposed to bear berries, but I have yet to see one. The plant leaves could also be poisonous to some animals although the fruit is edible when ripe. The wood of the plant is also useful for wickerwork.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Daybook 17

The Simple Woman

For Today...

Outside my Window...a dry version of last week's post, night skies
I am we should celebrate Marguerite's second birthday
I am thankful for... God's protection and safekeeping, my sister being able to join us for church last Sunday (she had to go home halfway through the service, but this is certainly a milestone for us)
From the kitchen...chicken, pasta, mess from a smoothie experiment
I am mystery story, one inspirational story, a crocheted blanket for Marguerite (almost the same as last week's + a food essay)
I am wearing...shirt and shorts
I am reading...a back issue of The Old Schoolhouse and a zillion blogs :)
I am hoping hear from one of my publishers regarding a story

I am hearing
...Marguerite playing, some traffic

Around the house
...Marguerite's things all over the place
One of my favorite things...a crossword puzzle with morning tea
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week
...bake, craft, write, meet deadlines, organize finances, lots of Marguerite Moments

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you

This was taken by Husband at the beach we frequented when we were still living in Subic Bay. He was just getting started in his photography hobby and this is a picture I've always liked. Somewhere along this stretch of sand lies my husband's wedding ring as well, harrumph. :( I'm not sorry about choosing to move away although I do miss being this close to the sea.

Day-old News

We had an exciting day here yesterday. Marguerite and I were still in bed around 8am (Husband had gone to work early as he had an important presentation at Microsoft) when my mother poked her head in and said, "There's a fire close by. The smoke's coming from somewhere really near." In a heartbeat, I had scooped Marguerite up and brought her to my grandmother's house at the front of the compound (my parents' house is at the back). I handed her to my cousin Jaymee and went out to our sidewalk (in my sleeping clothes) to better see where the smoke was coming from. It looked like it was coming from about two buildings behind our place. That's close. I ran back inside, called 161 (our 911) to see if the fire had already been reported because the firefighters hadn't been anywhere close at that time (we couldn't hear sirens) and the dispatcher told us that it had. I asked her where the fire was and she said it was across Banco de Oro on the main thoroughfare (our street is adjacent to this road). I knew then it was the hardware store with all its flammables (paint, thinner, solvent glue, etc.) and as I hung up I thought I heard a series of explosions, so I moved into action although it turned out to be just one of the fire engines' muffler.
I changed into Tshirt and shorts, got our money, my purse, Husband's electronic gadgets, and a couple of other things into an over-sized tote and ran back into my grandmother's house. I handed it to one of our helpers and ran back to ring Husband (He ended up rushing back home and taking the entire day off). He reminded me to get our important documents out (right, I actually forgot about those), some of his photography equipment (he had most of them with him), my laptop (I thought about grabbing the CPU of the desktop - it had about four hours of work there I had yet to turn in and all those pictures that never got printed, argh...) By this time, the smoke was pretty thick, my mom had already shut down our power (as opposed to the last time) and the firefighters were telling our street to evacuate even if only for the smoke. I had already told Jaymee to bring Marguerite and go along with my mom and my sister (who had to walk quite far in her condition). Most of the helpers had already evacuated, so I left most of the things I'd hauled out in my grandmother's living room except for the big tote and ran to the corner where the smoke hadn't reached yet. When I got there, my sister was sitting on one of the benches outside the bakery. She was panting for breath, but she seemed to be composed enough (she gets anxiety attacks and we were afraid that the panic would set her off). Marguerite was still in her pjs and had apparently saved her binky.:)
I remember running back and forth, at one point to tell a couple of our helpers who stayed back with my aunt and dad (who was actually at the sports complex when all this started - he saw the smoke from there) to start putting things inside my dad's vehicle. My dad they said was on the roof. I thought he was hosing our exterior with water, but he was just there calmly watching the smoke. I called out to him and asked if we shouldn't load the things into the car yet and he said there was no need; there was a tall firewall and the smoke was already white anyway. I went back to the corner and helped tend to Chip. Lalaine, our nanny, went back to get Chip's wheelchair and a pillow and I bought water from the bakery. We stayed there until the smoke had cleared.
Some interesting points from this experience:
1. I have asthma and had no trouble running back and forth in the smoke (someone's cigarette smoke is usually enough to set off an attack) - the wheezing came afterwards when we were settling back inside the house.
2. There was a woman standing in the middle of our street (the road was closed off, there was no traffic save for a fire engine parked in front of my great aunt's house next to our compound) and rebuking the fire. Honestly, she gave me goosebumps, but in a good way. Of course, we were all praying but she was there in front of the crowd saying in a forceful voice with her hands up brandishing the fire away, "In Jesus' name, fire and smoke, begone!" The credit for the fire not spreading might actually go to her and not to the firefighters who had arrived somewhat late. :)
3. One of our helpers, Vina who is somewhat of a tomboy, was at the market when it all started and when she found out where the big fire was, she started crying. She got home, saw the place powerless and seemingly empty and started bawling in front of the neighbors and onlookers (the residents were evacuated, but the mirones came by in droves). I think Vina'll continue to be razzed over this for a long time, lol.
4. In the short span of time since the fire started, there were already multiple versions of the story going around. The one that seemed the most credible (because one of our helpers said she got it straight from one of the hardware's gofers) was that the fire started because the business owner, a female Filipino-Chinese, had an accident with the incense she was using for praying. Apparently, she did that for luck everyday right before business hours.
5. The fire was contained because the hardware building was all concrete. It touched the ceiling of the walkway it shares with several other businesses, but the appliance store right next to it was unharmed (I'm not sure if it got soaked inside though). The house on the other side of the hardware (a relative's - we're practically all related here, if not by blood, then by marriage) also remained untouched.
6. Ate Baby, my grandmother's housekeeper, is being razzed by the neighbors, saying "Hey, Baby, how come you saved Jackie (the dog), but you're letting Jay (my uncle) sleep through the fire?" Apparently, as soon as the fire started, Ate Baby got her Bible, took Jacky by the leash and went out. They're just razzing, of course. Tito Jay wasn't even in the house.
7. It was the tricycle drivers who alerted us about the fire. They opened our gates and prepared to help evacuate things. Some of them helped out the beauty parlor (a relative's) two doors down, some helped the computer shop (a cousin's), and they would have helped the clinic too, but it was still closed. Nothing got stolen. Like I said, this isn't the best of neighborhoods, but it has retained the small-town Marikina feel despite it now being more of a commercial district (it was a farming area when my grandparents first built their house).
8. Oh, and as I was buying water from the bakery, somebody had just bought cigarettes and proceeded to light one right next to us. I rather rudely told him to "Move away. I have a baby right here." He docilely obeyed.
9. None of us actually panicked. We just did what we thought was SOP in that kind of situation, but we were certain the entire time that God had His hand upon us, so we didn't need to be afraid.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Moments of Doubts and Second Thoughts

When your child is still a baby, it's easy to make firm pronouncements carrying a conviction that is really mostly elicited by imagination than any real experience. No, I'm not really having doubts or second thoughts about the parenting philosophy I've opted for although they may very well come later on. It's just... not as easy as I thought it would be. And I wasn't really fatuous enough to think it would be easy. I guess the proper phrasing should have been "it's just harder than I thought it would be".
It's the little things, really. Trivial stuff. And whatever thoughts (not doubts, but they may lead to doubts) I have simply come in passing. I haven't had the chance to actually sit down and analyze. Until now. And I'm doing it as a post. Pretty brave (or foolish) since I've yet to arrive at a conclusion and with my personality, there has to be conclusions.
What am I talking about? I don't really know. It has something to do with the fact that I've wondered a couple of times about Marguerite's weight. Her pediatrician has assured me that her weight is normal and she's perfectly healthy, but she's on the slender side. In her last measurement, I know her weight was below the 50th percentile for her age, but her height was somewhere in the 97th or 98th. Neither Husband nor I were chubby babies, so Marguerite's frame makes perfect sense. However, in a culture that expects babies to be chubby, I've heard people comment that Marguerite is thin, using the adjective pretty loosely (I'm sure some of them don't mean to say that my daughter is actually thin, just that she's not baby-chubby). Even with our pediatrician's assurance about Marguerite's health, I do wonder, albeit fleetingly, if I'm feeding my daughter enough (I do mentally measure in terms of nutrients and servings, but I go by her cue on whether she has already had enough and she is getting enough, sometimes even more than that) and if her weight has something to do with the fact that I've kept her diet meatless. Does that count as a doubt? Maybe it does, but really, just a passing one. It takes me all of five seconds before I just become irritated with the thoughtless remark.
There are other thoughts, of course. Now that she's a toddler, they're mostly about my stand on discipline and co-sleeping, but I'm pretty good at regrouping and simplifying arguments (even ones I have with myself - and those are pretty complicated) and in the end, I remember that I did put in considerable thought before making my choices and my reasons have always been sound and valid.
Honestly, even with convictions and lots of research and many inspirations, I seem to do a great deal of floundering with this motherhood thing. I've made up my mind about certain matters, but at the same time, I'm careful about keeping my mind open. Man, the things that find their way in there! This is why I have to be constantly praying about being a mother. As much as I read and observe, what I really want is that I be in tune to God's instruction and guidance. My daughter, after all, is a blessing from Him and I should care for her and raise her in a way that pleases Him. Isn't that the best way, anyway?

SEO and the New Age of Marketing

You may not think that search engine optimization (SEO) is a popular concern, but it really is. Anybody who has some sort of business on the internet should consider this as one of his/her marketing priorities. Even simple bloggers care about their search engine rankings, especially if they have monetized their blogs. As a WAHM and a blogger, SEO is definitely something I’ve had to deal with. The thing about search engine optimization though is that you need to be familiar with the movement of the internet and know what works for your ranking and what does not. It is not simply about being visible because if you do it wrong, it can have negative repercussions and you can end up being labeled a spammer or a troller. SEO management requires some technical know-how, especially concerning the logarithms of search engines and the shifting online trends. This is where SEO professionals such as usually come in.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My Little Girl

It was Husband who did the straps, I swear.

I remember having a baby. Honestly, wasn't that just two minutes ago?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I am a Reliable Realist

My personality type: the reliable realist

Okay, according to the test I took, I'm a reliable realist. This is probably mostly true, but I'm also given to bouts of flightiness and flakiness. Yes, I do have to work at being spontaneous and I'm the type to make plans to make plans and I have to send myself a daily memo to go out of my way and experience joie de vivre lest I be lost in all the structure and method (good luck unschooling), but every now and then I crack or have spells of fancy or whimsy. If you read the description of the Reliable Realist, I'd say everything applies... only not all the time. I took the personality test for Husband and he turned out to be the Dreamy Idealist. Not all of the adjectives in the description apply, but a lot of them do. The thing is, the compatibility analysis says that we're not the ideal match and we've got some challenges ahead of us. Yeah, like I really needed Carl Jung to make me realize that, lol. I think this post shows how different our personalities are.

Monday, August 4, 2008

My Own Daybook

The Simple Woman

For Today...

Outside my Window...torrential rains, water flowing from the eaves, wet plants, birds cozying up inside birdhouses
I am thinking...writing schedule, Marguerite's activities, time I can grab sleep
I am thankful for...not having to go out for work or school during the monsoon season
From the kitchen...cookies, pasta
I am creating...two mystery stories, one inspirational story, a crocheted blanket for Marguerite
I am wearing...shorts and tank top
I am reading
...(rereading) Libby on Wednesday
I am hoping
...for good weather
I am hearing
...white noise from multiple sources (whirring fan, humming computer) drowned by the sound of the deluge of water
Around the house
...dusting, toys to put away, areas needing scrubbing
One of my favorite having the power go out when it's cold and raining, and all the family end up in one room to share candlelight and baked goodies, the aroma of which permeates the air, and somebody brings out the guitar for a round of oldies but goodies ...
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week
...take care of writing assignments, put in time for crafts and baking, try out new activities with Marguerite, have a meeting with Husband over business ventures
Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you

This was taken by Husband more than a year ago on a pleasant summer afternoon at the UP amphitheatre. It has been a while since I got to view a proper sunset. All of my recent attempts had been thwarted by cloudy skies.

Happy Anniversary to Spinning Lovely Days!

It has been a complete year, people! Remember my first post? Did I do what I said I intended to do with this blog? Have the days been lovely? For certain, the weekly whimsy part ended up anything but weekly. I plan to revive that anyway.
This past year, I was able to share through this blog several monumental happenings in our life. Through this blog, I made some good friends as well. Let's not mention being able to earn from posts too. Spinning Lovely Days has definitely been an important part of my life since I started it.
My posts usually consist of personal anecdotes, health concerns, parenting issues, topics on homeschooling, working at home (although I've created a separate blog for that now), and numerous pictures and I hope that somehow they have been of service to their readers.
As a sort of resolution thing, I'm adding a weight loss ticker here. Marguerite is almost two years old and people just laugh when I still blame the excess pounds on the pregnancy. The desired end is to lose about 20 lbs. So, here it is, folks:

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Aquí pasaron las figuras de nuestra historia

A few days back, I with Husband and Marguerite went to the Manila Bulletin office in Intramuros to collect my checks and get issues with my articles that I missed. I love going to Intramuros since everything is so period and authentic. As a Spanish major, I spent many hours there just trying to get a feel of what life may have been like back during colonial times (as if we ever got out of them) and trying to summon a connection with José Rizal, not in a spirit medium sort of way, but more of a "his molecules were here, they were mean to him here, that's where he wrote his farewell" way and trying to imagine him alive. I never had a crush on him as students usually do when they're studying a romantic figure who did great things (I did with José Palma though - I wrote a paper on him and spent research time crying and sighing and gushing while reading his poems - and Lord Byron whom!... I still insist Husband resembles, hehe). I remember one of my professors in graduate school, a nun at that, telling me how she fell in love with Trinidad Pardo de Tavera while working on her doctoral thesis on him. It's an occupational hazard, I suppose.
Anyway, we decided to drop by Ilustrado Restaurant, which is down the road from Manila Bulletin. Husband had a photography gig there one time covering a birthday party and being reminded gave him the craving for cake. Afterwards, we were all set to go around to take in the sights and take pictures of Marguerite of course, but it started raining. Ah well, another day.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Reading Marguerite's Mind

These were taken last Saturday while we were having dinner at this restaurant in Gateway called Café Ten Titas. Apparently, it's owned by a local actor (I forget which one). It's got an interesting menu. The first dish listed was something called "Drew Bagnetmore". Anyway, I don't think I'll be going back to Gateway anytime soon. The last two times I was there, some big event was happening at the Araneta Coliseum right next door (an important UAAP game the first time and a Lifehouse concert last Saturday - Chip probably would have watched had she been well. She's got a huge crush on Jason Wade.) and Gateway was consequently packed.

"I'm up to something. Mom will be shrieking when I'm done."

"I'll get her when she's not looking."

"And you think that makes a convincing argument?"

"What is the woman feeding me?