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

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

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

Queen

Independent.co.uk

(Wikipedia) Fast facts:
~British rock band formed in 1970 in London
~Freddie Mercury (lead vocals, piano), Brian May (lead guitar, vocals), Roger Taylor (drums, vocals), and John Deacon (bass guitar).
~Their performance at the 1985 Live Aid concert has been ranked among the greatest in rock history by various music publications.
~Estimates of their record sales range from 150 million to 300 million records
~They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

My 13 favorite Queen hits:

  1. Bohemian Rhapsody
  2. We Will Rock You
  3. Don’t Stop Me Now
  4. Another One Bites the Dust
  5. We are the Champions
  6. Somebody to Love
  7. Killer Queen
  8. Too Much Love Will Kill You
  9. Radio Ga ga
  10. Love of my Life
  11. Friends will be Friends
  12. Fat Bottomed Girls
  13. Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Last night I stayed up late watching a documentary of Freddie Mercury’s last days. Suddenly The Great Pretender seemed such a lonely song to listen to.

As soon as it was announced that Queen was coming to The Big Mango, I ‘stampeded’ my way to get a ticket for a chance to see live the greatest band on Earth – only to find out I had no cash on hand.

Manic at the agent: please hold a seat for me (turning my purse upside down) or I swear I’m gonna have a Sheer Heart Attack.

Ticket Agent: (looking intently at my terrorized purse) Madam, how about using your MasterCard? Would you then like to insure your ticket?

Me: I will if you stop calling me Madam, but what MasterCard? (suddenly remembering I do have one but realizing it’s the emergency fund) Oh, well this is going to be an emergency if I don’t snag a seat in the next 3 minutes….

While my seat was sorted, I thought of how crazy I sounded trying to make sure that I get to see a set of aging rock stars. The money I was spending to do that did not come in cheap.  I did not even care about who replaced the dearly departed among them. I just thought this would be my way of saying ‘I wish you were still around, Freddie.’

Queen Brian May playing God Save the Queen on the roof of Bucking Palace, 2002

My main motivation probably was the fact that Queen has been part of my childhood. At twelve I got spanked in the butt for practising Bohemian Rhapsody on the piano instead of a two-score worship song that my mom, the head chorister in church wanted me to master.

A few hours before heading off to the concert venue, I shared a video on Facebook with this caption: Brian May, commander of the British Empire, see you in the flesh tonight.

Sounds and laser lights. Six tennis courts capacity smoke machine – an epic show for a bunch (thousands really) of delighted Bangkokians. I sat emotional and nostalgic as Freddie Mercury materialized on stage to deliver Queen’s most legendary hit, and Impact Arena exploded.

If my mental telepathy was successful that night, Mother could have heard her happy rebel daughter tell her as she sang along Bohemian Rhapsody, “Mama Mia, that spanking drama has come full circle. Justice is served.”

Thursday Thirteen  /  ABC Wednesday

October

Once upon an October dream
of pages and fall
of teas and maple
of cheese-laced Olenna tongue and
golden petrichor

Photo Credit: Chaotic Bookshelf
Photo Credit: The Chaotic Bookshelf

October. How I love the month!

Before I wax dreamy though, I would like to take note of something remarkable out there which happened over the weekend in my home country (Philippines): Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon are dead. Gone. Killed by government forces. Finished! Maute and Hapilon are top leaders of an ISIS-linked militant group, some of FBI’s most wanted terrorists.

There I said it. I may like sweet dreams a lot (who doesn’t) and would prefer to dwell more in them if not for daybreak, but I am also aware that many present day events are nothing but sweet and they affect us one way or another. Life. Living it is as real as nightmares and dreams. Now back to October and what I love about it –

i-ii   Oatumn. I don’t care that I live in the tropics, obviously. I am in love with the season. That’s that. Looking at autumn scenes is a joy to me. While I am not where the season is happening, I make do with photos taken in October.

Fall in the tropics

iii-iv   October is the opal month of the year. It is the month of glory, of ripeness.  It is the picture-month. ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Strawberry cheese cake to accompany going over three dozen abstracts before publication.

v-vi   October is crisp days and cool nights, a time to curl up around the dancing flames and sink into a good book. ~ John Sinor

Acmonan. Photo Credit: Gary Buenaventura

vii-viii   October is a symphony of permanence and change. ~ Bonaro W. Overstreet

Roadside Farm, Saraburi

ix-x   Sweet October, fill with praise, Rich and glowing as thy days, Every poet’s heartfelt lays. ~ Caroline May

October fruits

xi-xii   The sweet calm sunshine of October, now Warms the low spot; upon it’s grassy mould. The purple oak-leaf falls, the birchen bough Drops its bright spoil like arrow-heads of gold. ~ W.B. Yeats

Receiving area centerpiece, Wattana Apartment

xiii   October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins. O autumn! O teakettle! O grace! ~ Rainbow Rowell

Thursday 13  /  ABC Wednesday  /  Our World Tuesday