Beach, Life is

i. Early morning in Rayong

ii. Some of my happiest childhood memories are those spent on the beach.

iii. History repeats itself. When I told the kiddo that we would celebrate the new year at the beach, I saw my own excitement many years before in him. “Mommy, I can’t sleep. How many hours til we go?” Precisely the same lines I used to bother his Grandma with as soon as a beach day was announced.

iv. Nang Ram Beach near Pattaya, 1-1-2018

v. The latest beach I have been to was in Rayong yesterday which was also Teacher’s Day in Thailand.

vi. Bangkok campus administrators of the university I work in treated lecturers to a beachfront breakfast. Then set us loose on the beach. I take it they were expecting us to be refreshed and re-energized to tackle another year of academia. Well, it’s a win-win.

vii. Natural exfoliant on one’s toetips

viii. Beach benefits natural and free
ix. What really made the day remarkable for me was my beach read – breaking news back home and a beach hottie’s thoughts on this triumph of the law.

x. Life’s a bitch to brats. Long story. I provided links in case anyone is curious. Meanwhile…

xi. Beach. Life is. And more
xii. like “the three great sounds of nature are the sound of rain, the sound of primeval wood and the sound of outer ocean on the beach” ~ Henry Beston

and

xiii. On Chesil Beach  ‘the truly great books are those that are constantly revelatory’

ABC WednesdayThursday Thirteen

Asik – Asik Falls

The loveliest waterfall I have ever seen in my entire life to date –

Asik – Asik Falls. It is found in a small, far-flung village called Barangay Upper Dado in Alamada, a town in North Cotabato province in the Philippines.

The pleasure of beholding this waterfall comes with a price. Visitors have to descend 550 steps to see it and ascend the same number of steps to get back ‘to civilization.’  A bit physically daunting; it made me realize that I was not getting any younger. Where did those college mountaineering days go?

If I were to operate some business in the area, it would be helicopter rides for visitors like me who had their nostrils flaring on the trek down and gasping for oxygen on the arduous ascent.

But the sight is so worth it. ‘Whoa…w!’ was all I could exhale when I saw it. Then I was speechless.

Asik-Asik Falls is liquid drapery. The atmosphere about is balmy, clearing sinuses brand new. The hum of the water could lull you to slumber. I would not have minded drifting off had I not have the kiddo to watch.  He was approaching the waterfall as if it was an enchantress beckoning him.  There was magic in the place.

My photos (taken from an iphone SE) do not do this fantastic falls justice but they are what would at least serve as reminder of this beautiful experience.

View from the jump-off point

The muddy way gets steeper but the quiet is therapeutic.

Someone thought Asik-Asik would be easier to get to without shoes

With me were my twelve year-old and two nephews (cousin’s kids) on a school break.

Beginning our trek down

‘Mommy, are we there yet?’ was the son’s excited refrain. He meant he saw a couple of what looked like high school kids swinging on a vine and he wanted to try it. As soon as we heard the water, we exchanged grins and followed the sound literally running, skipping fallen logs.

First sign of the falls

And there she is…

Asik-Asik Falls, April 2017

Most people came with picnic baskets. I sat on the rocks opposite taking it all in including the mist which was the perfect skin moisturizer.

Nature’s shower

The nephews lost no time in exploring the falls.

Agility, come back to me!

The falling water is potable. I do not know what but one thing about Asik-Asik Falls intrigues me: there is no river above it.

ABC Wednesday / Thursday Thirteen

Zanoni

Boekentips

A Rosicrucian tale by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
1842

At a glance, Zanoni is a novel about a member of an ancient fraternity who gives up his power of immortality for love of a human.

Plot is of course available on Wikipedia. The flowery prose some reviewers say Zanoni is filled with does not bother me perhaps because reading it is different from listening to it which I did on LibriVox. There are excellent commentaries and reviews on goodreads. They are usefully enlightening for first time readers like me.  I first noticed this book from a list of David Bowie’s Top 100 Books. One connection I see as to why the book was among Bowie’s Top 100 is music. Viola, with whom Zanoni (main character) fell in love, is a promising opera singer and daughter of a misunderstood violinist.

Aisling ~ Pierre-Cécile Puvis de Chavannes

Bowie may have been attracted to the idea of immortality.  “I feel puny as a human. … I want to be ‘superhuman.'”  Emphasis on superhuman. Zanoni is immortal.

Zanoni is said to be inspired by a dream.  This one refers to my choice of this book on Aisling Tales.

More reads or skimming if you will –

i     Musings on Zanoni… as source of theosophical beliefs
ii    Rosy Cross
iii   Pleasing sort of terror
iv   Divine madness

Notes to remember Zanoni by –

v     The spiritual and the occult are not the same.
vi    It’s “a truth for those who can comprehend it, and an extravagance for those who cannot.”
vii   The fourth part of the book, “The Dweller of the Threshold” contains esoteric facts and experiences.
viii  The French Revolution is which the book is set represents the nadir of humanity which affects even Zanoni.
ix    Zanoni makes few concessions to realism, an ideal Bulwer-Lytton had contempt for.

Zanoni –

x    is a pioneering book on esoteric writing
xi   describes occult as the kind that searches for wisdom
xii   approaches the ‘divine without the fetters of religion’
xiii  is a book for those interested in early British occultism

ABC Wednesday  /  Thursday Thirteen

Year 2017

Another year is about to go. Time flies. Isn’t that an often-heard of refrain? As I made a mental list of my highs and lows this year, I realized there really was just one low: the fur son crossing the rainbow bridge. The rest must make me a very lucky girl. Correction: blessed.

Year 2017 gratitude list:

1 Good health. No hospital visit except the one where the doctor would declare you fit to work another year.
2 Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Crackdown on corruption, economy looking up, Duterte is the best thing that ever happened to the Philippines.
3 Friends who ring in the night to say they are bored with Bangkok and therefore would be flying to Zurich. I am officially amused.
4 Home nothing beats flying home, seeing familiar faces, eating home-cooked meals and all that
5 Asik-Asik an enchanting curtain waterfall; another one off the bucket


6 Mozart my love, you will always be in my heart.
7 CJ the biological son is back with me. Oh, the real time bonding!
8 Milestone that board room meeting where the execom strategized our exit; separation pay, recommendation to other universities permeated the air. But perhaps more than I realize I’m ready to jump ship.


9 Thai-Cambodge Border. A huge market, casinos and the immigration police sorting out my entry and exit for a fee was some experience
10 Back to blogging re-learning a hobby is a good use of free time
11 Finances dividends and savings here we go
12 Church I can’t believe I am attending again but I am and it’s not bad

13 Piano it took me forever to buy one that is perfect for my post-divorce home, but finally…. Waking up in the morning and heading straight to the keys to serenade my nook has been sheer joy.

Hope your 2017 was great. Here’s looking forward to 2018. Happy holidays!

ABC Wednesday / Thursday 13

Xmas Gastronomy

What do you think of “Xmas?”

The “X” stands for the Greek letter “Chi,” which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός, which in English is “Christ”. The “-mas” part is from the Latin-derived Old English word for Mass.

So there. That should also serve as my own reference as soon as I forget what in the spirit of the holiday season does it mean. I normally do not spell Christmas “Xmas” even if it means saving space or economizing characters in a text message. That is the reason why I only remember why Christmas is sometimes spelled Xmas only when I read why or because it happens to be that time, the “most wonderful time of the year.”

The powers that be: Immigration Department & Labor Ministry. Between them is a liaison office staff girl who daydreams in the job a bit too much. Hanging on the line is my holiday plan.

In the course of two decades I celebrated Christmas with family and friends only three times. Some of the other Xmases I have been either alone or alone for a couple of those years and nursing a broken heart to boot. But I love Christmas a.k.a. Xmas so much that celebrating without the company of other beautiful humans over the years never made a difference in the way I respond to it. It apparently also helps that I love food and use it to celebrate whether things are up or down.

Less than twelve hours ago there was a conflict between my visa and my work permit. A threat more like to be honest. Some staff girl in the liaison office unfortunately mixed up numbers on important documents, but as soon as it became clear that the problem was going to be sorted, as most problems are anyway, I started imagining all the treats I was going to get my hands on.

Where is that latest Michelin star restaurant in town? Which cafe has the best red velvet cake? Which recipe should I tinker with next? Book a table in that palace-turned-garden restaurant….

Xmas Gastronomy. These are some of what’s been happening so far in my little corner – 

1 Vegetarian potluck solution. I didn’t know these things could be tricky. Ideas everywhere but not a dish to bring. Finally I rang a bakery.

Vanilla chiffon, S&P Restaurant

2 This should hopefully be the last meatloaf of the year. When I hit 40 I began refraining from meat

Beef with mango strips, broccoli, cauliflower, bitter melon, roasted potato, steamed carrot and shrimp

3 Maybe a little rough around the edges, but very yummy. It looks like banana cake and tastes like yema (candy made from condensed milk)

Maja Blanca

4 – 5  Some days I put things together myself

(4) Peanut butter and guava jelly toast sandwich, bitter melon with egg, wild tomatoes and seedless grapes, minced spring onion with butter (5) Capsicum salad with seaweed paper and lemon grass juice

6 – 7  Rice dishes; the tamarind sauce (lower photo) is to die for

Above: steamed string beans and carrot sticks, catfish chips, shrimp and salted egg  (S&P) Below: fried mackerel, squash patties, cucumber, gourd, tamarind sauce (JJ food court)

8 – 9  Vegetarian dishes

(Left) Kebab – cherry tomato, cucumber and pickled mango (Right) Afritada

10 – 13  A little sugar rush. Chocolate with the red velvet is divine. Purple macaroon has a lavender scent while the red one is rose

(Above) red velvet & chocolate, rainbow macaroons, Landmark Hotel Restaurant (Below) strawberry and durian ice cream on chocolate waffle, iBerry; mix-berry mousse, Cafe D’ Oro

ABC Wednesday / Thursday Thirteen

Warabi mochi

Warabi mochi with matcha ice cream and red bean paste, Yayoi Restaurant, BKK

I am fond of Japanese food; the main dishes at least. It was not until I had enough time to be curious that I got acquainted with a dessert called warabi mochi. The names are strange to me. Here are some of what I learned from reading around about it:

1 Warabi mochi is a Japanese confection made by dissolving sugar and the starch from warabi bracken in water, letting it set into a jellylike mixture and dusting it with kinako
2 Warabi bracken is an edible fern
3 Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made of mochigone
4 Mochigone is a short-grain japonica glutinous rice
5 Kinako is roasted whole soy flour
6 Mochitsuke is a ceremony in which warabi mochi is traditionally made
7 Katakuriko is potato starch used as substitute for bracken starch
8 Here’s an easy warabi mochi recipe
9 Variations with sesame and green tea dips are popular
10 Ichinoseki in Japan is known as the mochi mecca
11 Mochi can last a year if frozen; a couple of weeks if refrigerated
12 Mochi is served in different festivities in Japan especially the New Year
13 With its consistently gooey chunks, mochi is a choking hazard. Use caution while enjoying these sticky treats

ABC Wednesday / Thursday 13

Vertebrates

[envira-gallery id=”652″]

Spinal column: the one thing vertebrates have in common that is easy to remember long after other bits and pieces are forgotten and new vertebrates may be discovered by science.

Helping the son do his science homework last night which included several pages on vertebrates, not only gave me an idea for this week’s post, it also brought back a few memories. That Biology exam I perfected in ninth grade, fancying becoming a medical doctor, falling in love with RJ, the town doctor’s son and dating him briefly (can’t blame myself – those red roses, as red as that vertebrate on the above photo, love letters and cards he sent while away in medschool were just lovely), RJ himself becoming a surgeon later and chatting me up live on Facebook recently to explain things while he was removing my son’s ruptured appendix….

Did RJ bend his spine while performing laparoscopic appendectomy on a fellow vertebrate? I wonder.

Apparently I did one morning in Laos while playing with another vertebrate, Malcolm Red. I named him after my own pet Malcolm Black, who gilled his last years ago. Next to humans, fish are some of my favorite vertebrates. They are fascinating in literature, animation and movies.

1 James Pond a fish in a video game based on a James Bond styled fish
2 Freddie Fish in the Freddie Fish Series
3 Cleo a goldfish owned by the word carver Gepetto in Pinocchio
4 Dory a palette surgeonfish in Finding Nemo
5 Flounder a tropical fish, Ariel’s sidekick in The Little Mermaid
6 Mrs Puff a pufferfish in Spongebob Squarepants
7 Edward Bloom in the Big Fish
8 The Crested Basketfish in Astonishing Animals by Tim Flannery
9 Swimmy a blackfish in Swimmy by Leo Lionni
10 Ikaroa a longfish in Maori mythology
11 Namazu a giant catfish that causes earthquakes in Japanese mythology
12 Oscar a bluestreak cleaner wrasse in Shark Tale
13 Inspector Gill an anthropomorphic fish in the Fishwrap Comics

ABC Wednesday / Thursday 13

Unbearable Lightness of Yoga Booking

It is – or not – a laptop. It is – or not – a tablet.  The Yoga Book by Lenovo is in-between and that is futuristic, at the same time familiar, describes Lauren Goode. She reviews, “it is an incredibly thin and light tablet-like machine with a flat, touch-sensitive surface that lights up into a glowing keyboard….”

I notice that alright, and to echo Cornelius Fudge, that’s that. I bought my Yoga Book when I thought I wanted to come out of a blogging hiatus. Despite limited knowledge on techy stuff, I am curious so I tried something new to me and now I am still finding my way around this thing.  Forever perhaps. I can see myself flying a helicopter more than mastering this machine. How unbearable.

1 Civilization is unbearable, but it is less unbearable at the top.
~ Timothy Leary

2 I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable. There is something unfair about its use. It is hitting below the intellect. ~ Oscar Wilde

3 To die is poignantly bitter, but the idea of having to die without having lived is unbearable. ~ Erich Fromm

4 I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful. ~ Bob Hope

5 Television has made dictatorship impossible but democracy unbearable. ~ Shimon Peres

6 I love us so incredibly, insanely deeply; it’s almost unbearable to see what we do to ourselves. ~ Alice Walker

7 Without art the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable
~ George Bernard Shaw

8 Often, I can scarcely hear anyone speaking to me; the tones, yes; but not the actual words, yet as soon as anyone shouts, it is unbearable. What will come of all this, heaven only knows. ~ Ludwig Van Beethoven

9 Comedy without darkness rapidly becomes trivial. Darkness without comedy becomes unbearable. ~ Mark Haddon

10 By making college unaffordable and student loans unbearable, we risk deterring our best and brightest from pursuing higher education and securing a good-paying job. ~ Mark Pocan

11 How unbearable at times people who are unhappy, people for whom everything works out. ~ Anton Chekhov

12 The ecstatic insanity of romantic pursuit can be so enhanced with music that entire romantic conquests, victories and ruinous crushing defeats can be tied to songs to such a degree that it is almost unbearable to listen to them again as they bring back the memories so vividly. ~ Henry Rollins

13 I’m aware that many of my friends will be saddened, shocked or shocked-saddened, over some of the chapters of ‘The Catcher in the Rye.’ Some of my best friends are children. It’s almost unbearable for me to realize that my book will be kept on a shelf, out of their reach.
~ J.D. Salinger

ABC Wednesday / Thursday 13

Terrace of the Leper King

‘Built in the Bayon style under Jayavarman VII,’ the Terrace of the Leper King is located northwest of Angkor Wat’s Royal Square. The name, they say, is derived from a 15th century statue discovered on the site.  I do not remember seeing such statue.  If it still exists then I missed it.  Next time I will do more than just snap pictures – pay enough attention to a guide to ask if something (I should have seen) was available for viewing.

Why Leper King?

The statue was called the “Leper King” because discoloration and moss growing on it was reminiscent of a person with leprosy, and also because it fit in with a Cambodian legend of an Angkorian king Yasovarman I who had leprosy. The name that the Cambodians know him by, however, is Dharmaraja, as this is what was etched at the bottom of the original statue. (Wikipedia)

Rows of statues behind the terrace are arranged like a little maze. Quiet. Eerily peaceful. Free from the scorching sun. The stone sculptures exhale oxygen moisturizing human skin. I spent more time wandering here than in any other part of the largest religious monument in the world.

The first association I know of leper or leprosy is that of the Bible.  Miss Chiu, our second grade teacher would exclaim, ‘unclean! unclean!’ to explain to us eight year-olds that that was what lepers would shout to warn people of them.  Today as I read around I realize that leprosy seems scarier than cancer or AIDS. But these lepers probably did not have to shout unclean…

1 John Early – soldier / USA (nation’s most famous leper)
2 Otani Yoshitsugu – lieutenant / Japan (…unification of Japan)
3 Nguyen Trong Tri – poet / Vietnam (lovers and crazy poetry)
4 Baldwin IV of Jerusalem – king / Israel (when you’re a rich leper)
5 Damien of Molokai – priest / Belgium, Hawaii (voluntary leper)
6 Alice of Schaerbeek – laysister / Belgium (hagiography bull****)
7 Miriam – prophetess / Israel (why was she punished so harshly?)
8 Joab – army commander / Israel (cursed for avenging someone)
9 Moses – (adopted) Egyptian prince (momentary leprosy)
10 Simon – meal host in Bethany (hair and perfume commotion)
11 Uzziah – king / Judah (if the incense is not your job…)
12 Naaman – army commander / Syria (go wash in the river)
13 Gehazi – servant / Israel (when you misuse your authority)

ABC Wednesday  /  Thursday Thirteen

Spectacular Saint Basil

Saint Basil view from the Moscva River

Except the nice breakfast my hotel served that day, this was the first photo I ever snapped in Moscow. Pity I forgot to instruct my photographer to take a shot of this icon without me. Knowing I had very limited time, I attempted to take it all in at once. Those multi-colored onion domes!

Saint Basil’s Cathedral. The ultimate edifice of Russia.

A few fast facts –
* Address: Red Square, Moskva, 109012
* Opening Hours: 11:00 – 17:00. Close on Tuesdays
* Height: 65 m
* Built by Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century (1561)
* Saint Basil’s Cathedral became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990

As the cold curdled my blood, my heart rested warm and easy among thoughts on this iconic piece of architecture.

i.    Thank you, Pyotr Baranovsky – people’s travel experiences are enriched further by the spectacle that Saint Basil is. An architect and restoration artist, Baranovsky defied Stalin’s orders to demolish Saint Basil, and spent five years in the gulag for that.

ii.    What luck! For lack of time the French troops were unable to blow it up

iii.   Humans. At least those who are keen on destroying beautiful things, have they no thought for posterity?

iv.    Vasily from which Saint Basil is now known for, beside predicting the 1547 fire that burned nearly a third of Moscow, was probably called holy fool for his suffering for Christ.

v.     That Ivan the Terrible blinded the architects Barma and Posnik so they could not replicate Saint Basil is a legend that may not be very hard to believe considering Ivan’s nickname.

vi.    Then some claim that at Basil’s funeral, Ivan the Terrible himself acted as pallbearer.  Would Basil have minded if he knew before his body gave out from all that suffering?

vii.   Specify! The anthem of my lecture to a bunch of undergrads working on a business presentation which will serve as their final exam. We meet again soon. If I see no improvement, I will start using Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokus on the Moat (Saint Basil official name) as example on how to make a descriptive title.

viii.  Like Order of the Rose, of the Garter, of the Spandex, so on. Just specify.

ix.    Saint Basil would probably not appeal as much or set anyone in childlike awe if it had retained its original white and gold colors

x.     According to one theory, Saint Basil symbolizes Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God which I have always thought as such until a friend told me stories of his years in Israel working for the UN.

xii.   Jerusalem as a heavenly city has walls decorated with precious stones. So that is where the colors come in. I cast a searching glance at one of my drawers. Someone has not worn those turquoise, rose quartz, onyx, jasper necklaces in awhile.

xii.    A theory that makes me want to play The Holy City on the piano. Alas, this apartment I am in right now has none of that instrument so I’ll make do with some lyrics – A dream so fair / Jerusalem, Jerusalem lift up your gates and sing / Hosanna in the highest…

xiii.  ‘The sun grew dark with mystery, the morn was cold and chill…’ I finally found the line that perfectly describes the way Saint Basil looked and felt when I first saw it.

ABC Wednesday / Thursday Thirteen