Sunday, August 30, 2009

They're Gorgeous

After I left church today, I went to return some videos I rented at the red box at Tom Thumb when I realized I locked my keys in the car. I was furious at myself but then I saw a fireman at the check out counter so I approached him and asked him if he could help me unlock my car. He puckered his lip, nodded his head and asked where I was parked. Outside was a firetruck where 2 other firemen were waiting for him so he told them I needed help and they quickly jumped out of their seat and got a wire/pole and here they are-Anyone who helps me is gorgeous to me, so all 3 of them are, but the middle one is especially cute with that salt and pepper hair. When I grow up I want to marry him. And don't blame me because I love me some fireman.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Sense of Place

When Don was alive, we always said that home is "wherever Chat is" but after he died, I felt displaced and wasn't sure where I belong anymore. I tried living in Cebu, and I only lasted 9 months, then 2 years later I tried it again and it lasted 6 months. My Filipino ex offered to build me a hut somewhere on his farm in Negroes, "there, you'll have the mountain air and the sea breeze" he said. NJ, my American ex who owns a business in Malaysia, offered to sponsor my resident visa through his company if I want to live in Malaysia. Both offers confused me more than it comforted me.

So I told myself, "No, thanks. I am a vagabond." And hearing myself say that, comforted me and still does. Chat was very supportive of a vagabond mother and because she's very independent, I didn't feel that she needed me close by anyway. So I started simplifying my life and cutting down expenses with the idea that sooner than later I will be moving to Cebu; I stopped buying anything besides the essentials, I bought an old car that I paid cash so I am not tied down to a monthly payment and I stopped using credit which to this day, I am proud to say I have no debts. I live where I live now when I could live somewhere cheaper because I can't compromise on the quality of the neighbors and the neighborhood.

Then God spoke subtly through Chat's wisdom teeth. When Chat called me 4 weeks ago frustrated, afraid and in pain, I felt needed. I felt my place, a sense of place because normally Chat would just take care of things and tell me later. Finally, I realized: I can not be anywhere but here. I have to live close by Chat. And with this realization, I suddenly feel the need to replace my drapes, buy a new sofa, rearrange my apartment and hopefully still have enough money left to buy real flowers, not cuttings like this one which the apartment grounds crew were more than happy to give me after I practiced my Spanish on them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Extending Grace

I stopped by Pier 1 Imports after work today because I am thinking of replacing my living room drapes. I found the design that I like but I have to get it at another store. As I was leaving, I found this wine hut - the tag was $199 down to 20.00. I just had to buy it, regardless that I don't have the space for it or the wine to put in it.

The store clerk loaded it in my car and as soon as I was backing out to leave, I saw a young man and woman in their 20's running towards me, the lady was red in the face, sweaty, crying and hysterical, "Ma'am, we have an emergency, we need gas for our car." She was standing by my side window and the man was behind my car. I told her to go inside the store and ask for help there, she started spitting on my windshield and screamed at me "You stupid bitch."

I backed up and the guy pounded on my trunk and she started screaming again, " Bitch, you just hit my boyfriend, you just hit my boyfriend." Now I got scared, I was fumbling for my cell phone and called 911. When they saw me talking on my cell phone they started running away from me and I watched them cross the heavy traffic to the bridge to the east side of the freeway. They kept running until they were out of my sight. The 911 operator kept me on the line getting more description of them. I was shaken but not as much as feeling sorry for them because I know they were high on something and after all, they are someone's kid whose parents are out there wondering and worried about them. I think God put them in my path so I can pray for them -God spared me from them and extended His grace to me, so I have no choice but extend the same grace that I was given.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What The...

Victory is not making it to the finish line, victory is knowing when to quit.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Oxtail Anyone?

Last week when I was catsitting at Chat's house I found a recipe in one of her Malaysian cookbooks. Today I got bored (again) so I made it- tangy oxtail.
8 shallots -chopped
8 garlic - chopped
6 red chilies, seeded and chopped
1 0z fresh galangal
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp ground turmeric
8-10 pcs oxtail
2 tbsp oil
1 (14 oz) can plum tomatoes- drained
2 stalks lemon grass halved and bruised
handful of kaffir lime leaves 8 oz tamarind juice
2 tbsp sugar
salt to taste
1. Grind the first 4 ingredients to a coarse paste
2. Mix flour and turmeric then dredge the meat to coat and set it aside
3. Heat oil and stir in the spice paste until it smells fragrant, add the meat and brown all sides then add tomatoes, lemon grass, lime leaves and tamarind juice. Add water to cover the meat and let it boil. Skim off any fat and then let it simmer for 2 hours.
4. Stir in the sugar and salt and cook uncovered for the next 30-45 minutes
(Don't omit the sugar because it tempers the tangy-ness but I don't like it when I am able to taste the sweetness, so I should only use 1 teaspoon on mine. )

No Compromise

Give a man everything he wants, and everything will not be everything - Kant

We want somebody's spouse, why can't you be like so and so, we want somebody's house, her kitchen is more spacious than mine and her closet has more clothes, we want somebody's job, it's less stressful. We want everything else.....besides what we have.

Marriage is the most demanding of all relationships. And yet, men and women alike pursue it like it's the next expected step after breathing. When we're single, we want to be married, when married, we want to be unmarried. Even my friends are confused of what I should be so they sent me this idea as a compromise in between.
I definitely don't need this, because I want one who will hide in the garage and pretends he's working on his car when I ask him to vaccuum the floor.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Twenty-one years ago, I worked as a scheduler and my job was calling people to set up their insurance exams. I spoke with a very heavy Filipino accent, but understandable nonetheless. My company serves several different insurance companies and one day, I was calling a client who applied for insurance with Indianapolis Life. "Hi, this is Ritchie with Indiana-police and I need to set up your insurance physical...." Click. The person on the other line hangs up on me. I called again and as soon as I open my mouth, I hear click. So I asked my co-worker, a 23-year old blond, green eyed aspiring musician named Frank to try and call him, see if he would hang up on a man, I thought maybe this client didn't like women. Frank is very sweet and soft spoken with very thin balding hair that he nourished to grow past his shoulder. "No, it's not about you being a woman, it's your accent, he thinks you're with the police force."

Why am I bringing this up? because Lydia, a reader of my blog sent me a link to a concert review done by a blogger named Elise. Elise wrote about Journey's concert in Indianapolis and people just about skewered her for her opinion - which by the way, you and I are entitled to also. Ok, she didn't like "My Arnel's" tight white pants, she thinks he jumps too much and that Neal should cut down on his guitar solo. That's what float her boat, would you wish her ill for that? It's cute that people rally behind "My Arnel" with the loyalty of the American pit bull and the ferocity of the Taliban, but it's hoi polloi to skewer people who dislike what we like.

Back in September 2008, I tackled Andy Greene with Rolling Stone magazine because he took Arnel Pineda's statement out of context, which is not the same as speaking out your opinion. Another reason why I am also more forgiving of Elise, is because she must be like me -an amateur, or newly self-appointed music enthusiast or she would not say what she said "I didn’t detect any trace of an accent when Pineda sang, so it was a little strange to hear our city name mispronounced." Hello? Have you heard (of ) the The Beattles (or what's left of them) and the lippy Mick Jagger? Listen to them talk and listen to them sing. I think Randy Jackson would say - "Shut yo mama dawg, just sing dawg, just sing."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's unfamiliar, but it's safe

For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Tigger hurt his left leg somehow while Chat was out of town, I don't know what he did to hurt himself, but he started dragging his left leg Saturday night. I was hysterical when I noticed it, I called Chat and she was ready to get back on the next plane back to Dallas. She was besides herself when she got home because she was concerned that Tigger would have to be sedated and she was thinking of the worse case scenario. "What if he has a tumor and needs surgery?" I could not concentrate at work and my stomach was in a knot all day - I could not eat or think because Chat was a basket case and Tigger has become a big part of my life too.

From the animal hospital Chat called and told me that Tigger did not need surgery, did not have to be sedated and that the x-ray showed that he might have sprained his leg but that it will heal soon enough. She told me Tigger put on a fight when they were trying to put him in his cage and was shaking and meowing in the car all the way to the emergency hospital. Chat theorized that Tigger was meowing not from the pain but from the fear of not knowing where they were taking him, wondering where he was going, and thinking that he was going to be hurt. And this reminds me of how we react when God tries to get us out of our comfort zone so He can take us to the next level. When things are unfamiliar, when we don't understand what's going on, we think that God is not on our side, that God has abandoned us, when actually, He is taking us to the healer. The trip is frightening, the road is unfamiliar,but His goal, if we trust Him is to heal us and make us better.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

What are you saying?

When I first came to America, I chose to be a Republican not because of any ideals or principles I have but because "Republican" sounded exotic and classy. Any word that has "crat" in it, just doesn't appeal to me. Then someone asked me a stupid question, "Why are you a Republican, are you rich?" I said, "No, but what's wrong with being rich? I don't see poor people hiring and giving out jobs, have you?"

And I refused to be branded a Republican, I am not - I am just a run-away train. Sans the teleprompter, the "agent of hope and change" can mumble just as stupid as his Texan predecessor. Watch this.

At the moment

My friend gave me this mamon cupcake that she made and I bought this pan desal (brown bread) at the Asian Market, it's really not like the pan desal we are used to in the Philippines but good enough for me. This is breakfast today.

I love waking up early, today I sat in my patio eating my bread and drinking my coffee and watch the sunrise.
I bought this Chinese lantern yesterday to add color to my patio

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Restless weekend

I'm catsitting this week because Chat and John are in Wisconsin for Road America. I could not find the spoiled grandkat when I came in because he was hiding in the bathroom.

One of my instructions is to take grandkat out to the backyard so he can see his friends -the wild bunnies.

I came back to my apartment yesterday and baked bread. I like to make coco bread when I have the time. But too much work on the coco because I like the filling freshly shredded then caramelized. I made the red bean paste instead, but I don't like the pure paste sold in cans, so I bought the canned one then boiled a cup of dried azuki beans and mixed it with the paste. It gives the coarse effect and the added sweetness from the paste. Depends on how you like them,you can add more sugar.

Roll out the dough and fill.

It's better if you shape and fill the dough individually so the filling won't dry out in the baking. This one is dry but just fine with me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Road America

When Chat had her wisdom teeth extracted last week, I was a nervous wreck because Chat freaks out when it comes to needles.(Reason why she postponed this very much needed extraction for so many years) She was a basket case before they gave her the sedative, and after she got the sedative, she talked constantly like a drunk person.
And after the surgery as the nurse was wheeling her out to the car,I could tell she had been crying. And continued crying on the drive home. "Mom, they were so mean and violent to me, I kept telling the doctor to move over because Dad was behind him and he won't move over. Then I told him to tell the nurse to move over, he won't tell her."
I told her to pardon my refusal to accept her invitation to hallucinate with her, which of course ended 3 hours later. "Mom, the doctor is so nice and gentle, I really like him, he should be your dentist too."

Well, thank God that's over. Now it's her spoiled cat I have to deal with for the next 6 days because this morning they're flying out to Wisconsin for Road America racing. She won't be able to do as much because the dentist told her to baby her mouth for another week, but because she promised Brabham to see him and the crew, " I have to be there mom."
Last years Petit Le Mans (2008 Atlanta)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Almost there Torta

I did not grow up eating desserts but there's one Cebu delicacy that I remember with longing - the Titay's Torta. It's never the same anymore as what I grew up with and for the life of me, I don't know what they put in there that made it so distinctively rich and flavorful. There are so many variations but I am only interested in Titay's, but of course that recipe would be a trade secret.

I have tweaked this recipe from the different recipes I had, after the fourth try I think I got it as close to Titay's as I can now...(Thank God,or I'll be broke buying the ingredients.) Because I can't find my oven thermometer, I think my oven was hotter than 350, reason why this cracked in the middle. You can solve this problem by buying Magi-cake strips and line the sides of the pan or just make sure your oven temp is right because Torta is not supposed to have a crack or at least the one I remember. Here's my recipe:

3.5 c All purpose flour
4tsp -baking powder
2 c - sugar
1 (12 oz. can) evap milk
1/2 can - condensed milk
20 egg yolks
3 c - vegetable oil

1. Sift together flour, baking powder and sugar then add evap milk, mix well and set aside 5-8 minutes.
2. Mix eggs, condensed milk and oil, then add the flour mixture to this blending it well.
3. Pour into lined tin molds and bake 30 minutes about half or 2/3 full..

You can brush the top with egg wash 5 mins before it's done then put it back in the oven to have that shiny effect, but that's too much work. Mine, I just rub with butter then sprinkle with sugar.
Tip: I did not have tissue paper so I used parchment paper to line the mold- bad idea, it made it more hot and the sides were crispy. So this batch I made sure to use tissue paper

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Pardon My Opinion

"I don't agree with what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it."--Voltaire

I have a friend whom I have known for 5 years now and just like all of my other friends, I tell him everything I want to tell him. And because I have an opinion about some things, he calls me "very opinionated." It's ok for him that I have an opinion as long as I don't voice it out, or as long as my opinion is something that he agrees with. In other words, he doesn't want to be engaged.

But really, I do that to all my male friends; I don't engage them. The only man I ever engaged in a debate or a serious conversation was Don because he was secure in himself. He did not feel threatened by my knowledge, he did not feel deminished because I knew more than him on some subject. He knew who he was.

Well, my patience and energy is running out on this friend. I took in more than anyone would, I can handle anger but I can't handle hatred. I could not take the insult anymore, all these 5 years, when we talk about politics he would scream and make me feel vile: "It's your war, it's your president." He hated Bush so much that I had to defend that poor Texan even if I didn't vote for his second term. But this afternoon I got tired of defending Bush or myself, I told my friend to go some place hot. He won't engage, he hang up on me.

With all my friends, I try to accept their flaws as they readily accept mine, but it's harder dealing with an emasculated man. I love them as friends and I love them around but God is using them as a good reminder why I should not get romantically involved with anyone anymore. Until I find a man who will engage without making me feel that I am his enemy, I am at peace with what Gloria Steinem said: A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.

Come, Sit, Hear

The other day a note was left on my door, it was from my new Hindu friend Mr. Gupta. He left me the phone number and address of the center where he will be going for his 10 day of silence. Well, today near my walking trail, I saw him again -up on that picnic table. "Where have you been? I have been waiting for you." He seemed to be excited to see me. I told him, I work because I have to eat.

I thanked him for the note and told him, that I have started observing my breathing but that I can't sit with my legs crossed because my legs are so stiff. "Practice, practice, and patience." he said. And that I have to find my "dharma" or one's righteous duty or a virtuous path. "As cool is to water, and heat is to fire, you have a dharma," he continued. free guru, but I already know my righteous duty - to love God with all of my heart, my mind and soul.

He then went on to tell me a story of a learned and wealthy man with 2 wives (I didn't ask him why the man has to have 2 wives) who wanted to go to the forest and renounced what he had in the city. "Nothing in the forest except for him to come, sit and hear because it's very hard to be silent." I said, "Ooh, but I have a hard time not talking to myself." Mr. Gupta likes to laugh, he burst out laughing and said -"But you have to get rid of all that chickens in your head, too much vile." I wonder if he meant it literally because I told him last week that I am now planning to eat only fish and chickens and he is a pure vegan.

Our lesson lasted as long as I could stand it. He had more to share with me, but I had to run because I am meeting friends for lunch. We agreed to meet again after he comes back from his retreat, but mostly I want to see him again so we can go to a Hindu restaurant. By the way, I don't subscribe to any other doctrine, new age or otherwise, I only follow the doctrine of Jesus Christ, but I am open to listen to what others will share with me and filter which I can or can not use. Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

It's all in the Training

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it-Proverbs 22:6

Who said that all they do is cry and eat? If you train them early, they can mop the floor too.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Just a Phase

I'm just going through a phase, reason why you're seeing me with all these cooking or trying to cook anyway. Today's lunch....Crawdads!!!

I turned my very small kitchen into chaos central today trying to learn how to make torta bisaya. After all the work, and I overbaked it and tasted nothing like a torta..oh well. I think I overbeat it and overbaked it but I know I should use a shallow mold next time.

Take Less and Give More

Just got back from my walk but I didn't finish the 2 miles because I decided I had to talk to this guy. Lately, at the picnic area near my walking trail, I would see this dark man on top of the table meditating in a yoga position, (I'm not sure if the Americans appreciate him using their picnic table as a yoga mat) but I could not take the time to stop to talk to him because I have to get to work. Well, today I decided I have time to be nosy.

His name is HS Gupta, a Hindu from India, he is visiting his son who works here in the US. He is a vegetarian and practice Vipassana yoga everyday. We talked for 18 minutes and I wish I had a pen or my camera with me because he showed me some breathing technique and some profound principles -"Take less and give more, you'll be happier."
I teased him - "I study Jesus' teaching but I could use yours too, would you consider staying here in the US so I can study under you?" He just laughed. He summarized yoga simply for me, " If you pay attention to your breathing you can control your thoughts." Breath deep and slow; you have peace, breath fast; there's adversity or chaos in your thoughts. Hmmm.