Sunday, September 23, 2012

Happy Places

We all trooped to the boys' good old Montessori school this weekend for little Bootsie's art fair. He proudly showed off his artworks and the seeds he planted and stuff. I'm just glad he didn't misspell his name in them like some of his classmates did. Haha.

Ches and I are also thankful bcoz school is one of the boys' happy places. Whenever we go there they run around excitedly and chat everyone up and squeal all over the place. They were overjoyed to see their school bus mate Gabe, as if they don't see each other from Monday to Friday. Haha. I cannot remember being this happy about school, ever. Not even UP. There is something not normal about my kids, I'm telling you. Haha.

We celebrated Ate's birthday in absentia with a dinner at one of our favorite restos, Barrio Fiesta. We had kare-kare and crispy pata, of course, plus crispy chicken, pancit palabok, and bangus belly. The last three were kind of disappointing - the chicken was no great shakes (Ann's version is way better and we can have that every week at home), the pancit was dry and had only toppings (not like Little Quiapo pancit that is overflowing with sauce and sahog), the bangus was a whopping P355++ when it was not even one whole fish.

Anyway, the kids lapped the chicken up, and Pops didn't find anything wrong with the pancit. (Gosh, he is such the pancit addict. Haha.) I was telling Yosh Barrio Fiesta supposedly invented crispy pata (one of his favorite dishes), and next time we'll just stick with that and kare-kare. Haha.

We also took the little princess Vada to Moonleaf bcoz she's crazy about it. She has queer tastes for a kid, that one. She likes Starbucks, too. Haha. Moonleaf she takes after me, Starbucks after Ches and Mama. My own boys prefer plain old Slurpee. Haha.

For lunch the next day, Ches took us to the Kenny Rogers Roasters that recently opened in the neighborhood. It was Ann's weekend off and at these times, Ches either cooks or takes us out. (Yes, nobody expects me to be whipping anything up in the kitchen, not even scrambled eggs. If anyone makes that dire mistake, it means death by either starvation or food poisoning. Hahaha.)

It's the first Roasters we've tried where it's not self-service, they have waiters to take your orders. The interiors were classy, too - high ceiling, quirky lamps, artwork on the walls. And not a single picture of Kenny Rogers in sight. Haha.

The boys do their usual toasts with our drinks.

Yoshi: Cheers to our healthy and happy family!
Boots: And when we grow old, we hope we're not dead!


The little girl from the next table slowly inches her way to Bootsie.

Me: Check out the chick, Bootsie.
Yoshi : She's too little for love.

Too little for love?! That's a good one. I know a lot of people like that - figuratively too little to deserve any love. HAHAHA.

My boys are priceless.

And then we were off to Grass bcoz Tito David wanted pictures to see the progress of Project Mike (it's Project Meadow to him and T. Thelma hahaha). The cabinets and ceilings were all done. I think the only things missing are the second bed and furniture from Randy, and Melody's finishing touches. Everything's looking good. Gosh, it is always such a relief to be working with people who are just so reliable and do exactly what you agree on and right at the time you need them to. I think that's just so rare these days.

Grass is also the boys' happy place bcoz they get to swim in the huge pools. And it was so perfect, too, bcoz it majorly rained when we got home after their swim, in the same way that the rain stopped in time for our family dinner the night before.

Thank you, Lord, for another fun weekend.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Lighthouse Cruise

For her birthday, Bryan took Ate on a cruise of five lighthouses across New Hampshire, Maine, and the Isles of Shoals. (You da man, Bryan!) And Ate being Ate, she emailed me amazing pictures and long stories of all these lighthouses that we both so love. Hence, I've been on a lighthouse high again all week - albeit vicariously. Haha.

This is the Nubble House in Cape Neddick York, Maine. This is apparently one of the most beautiful and most photographed lighthouses ever. It's plain to see why, right? Res ipsa loquitor. Gosh, it's too perfect. Ate says they do weddings here. (Hmmm. Make a mental note, Chestnuts, for our 25th wedding anniversary. Haha. As if.)

(Ate: The next time you come here, we can visit the Nubble House and Portland Headlight in Cape Elizabeth, and Longfellow's house.

Me: YAY! Thanks, Ate. I love you already.)

This is Boon Island Light in the Isles of Shoals. Amazing, isn't it? It looks like it's just floating out there in the middle of all that water. Ate says the tour guide narrated a story of seamen who were stranded here in winter and who had to resort to cannibalism bcoz there was just no food available; the island is all just rocks. Eeooww. Next story, please.

I think one of my Anita Shreve novels, The Weight of Water, is set in the Isles of Shoals. It was a family drama with a gruesome murder. Ate said there was a murder in one of the islands that became the subject of a book and a movie. So that could have been it, my Anita Shreve novel!

This is White Island Light, also in the Isles of Shoals, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Apparently, a 14-year old lived here for years and later on wrote an article about life in the lighthouse. Can you imagine being a teenager and spending all your days and nights in a place as remote and deserted as this? I'm ancient and not even a teenager, but no blog, no wedges, no buffets? Seriously? Ok, I love lighthouses, but I know I would NEVER survive. Haha.

This is the Portsmouth Light in New Hampshire. Ate says this is the tenth of eleven light stations established in the American colonies in 1771 before the American revolution. One lighthouse keeper reportedly lived here for 35 years. Omg. That is almost my entire life! Another keeper moved here from Boon Island Light even if it meant a huge paycut, bcoz Boon was just too isolated and it just wasn't worth it. In my next life, I will know how to swim and be a full-fledged lighthouse keeper.

And this is my and Ate's favorite of all, the Whaleback Lighthouse in Maine. Doesn't it just look so old, alone, and tragic? You know I'm obsessed with bricks, too, bcoz they're just so country. Most lighthouses I've seen are painted white. I'm glad this one seemed to have retained its natural brick shade. It shows so much more history that way. This lighthouse is LOVE.

Ate told me that a lighthouse keeper's wife named Connie Small wrote a book when she was 85 years old. She said: "When that light flashes again, you look at it, and look at it really hard. It will talk to you, and reach down into your heart. Then you'll realize lighthouses are something beautiful."

It doesn't get any more perfect than that.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Kitty Half

She was maybe seven, which means I was four, and we were coloring loose pages by the window. Suddenly there was a strong wind and our papers flew out to the yard. She told me to go and get them and I did, without hesitation. As I bent down our pet monkey bit me on the nape.

I have that scar on my nape still.

This is not at all a sad memory for me. It makes me happy, actually, to know that, way back when I was still a little girl, I was already some kind of a hero. And I wear my little badge of courage on my nape to this day. Haha.

Sometimes it's hard for me to believe we're even related. She used to be starstruck with Ricky Martin, back when he was still with Menudo and, er, straight. I couldn't stand pop even then. She spends HOURS on her hair. Me, I could never care less. If I so much as blow dry my hair before I meet someone, you can bet that someone is pretty special. Haha. She's great in math. I took up the most useless undergrad course - Political Science - just to avoid all those math units. She's generous to everyone to a fault. No one will ever fault me for being too generous. She can get anal about even the littlest things like her handwriting. I've always been anything-goes, even with big-ticket items like my career. She makes a mean pinakbet, kaldereta, chicken pastel, buko pandan. I, uh, don't cook.

Oh, but we're also almost like twins in many ways. We are whom Yoshi calls Combined Maldita Powers. We're both feisty and cannot stand push-overs. We're both drama queens and crybabies. We both love to shop, travel, and eat bad, bad food. We're both obsessed with Hello Kitty and are the only two persons I know with Puroland (that's Hello Kitty land in Japan for you poor, benighted souls) in their travel bucket list. She's crazy over Rondo and the Celtics. I'm crazy, too, period.

She has always shared my joys about my family and friends and job. She knows my passions as well as her own - I never needed to tell her. She's my favorite person to be tragic with about family issues - she understands me best and knows exactly the perfect thing to say when we wallow in our pity parties. After Ches and me, she's the third person in the whole universe who loves Yoshi and Boots the most. My three boys and all my friends who know her just absolutely love her.

Happy birthday, Ate! I may roll my eyes at you and call you The Travel Nazi and tell everyone about how you murdered a Chowking manager - but the fact is, I'd still bend down and get bitten by a monkey for you, any given day. You don't even have to say the word.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Free Lunch Week

This week was the rare week where I did not have to spend at all for lunch.

Monday was Ardo’s and Karen’s birthday treat at Mesa, that even included their significant others. Good food, good friends. We missed Ann, tho, but that’s ok bcoz she’s enjoying her maternity leave.

(I love the interiors of the resto. The lighting fixtures look like overturned chicken coop.)

Tuesday, Karen and I got another lunch treat at Figaro from one of my favourite executives in the office. More than the free food, I treasured the gesture bcoz we’ve had our differences and I didn’t think she even liked me anymore. It’s heartening to realize that friendship still trumps stupid office politics.

Wednesday was the usual board meeting lunch buffet of crispy tadyang, bulalo, and bangus. There were some new dishes, too, like pancit luglug and fresh lumpia. Hard to enjoy all that good food amid what is usually My Most Stressful Day of the Quarter, but it’s better than nothing, right?

Thursday, the bosses again whisk us off to Abe’s to a lunch feast of more crispy tadyang, pesang dalag, gising-gising, morcon, bangus sinigang sa bayabas, dilis rice. I also order my favourite tamarind shake and leche flan. Yumminess.

Friday was the birthday party of my absolute favourite boss. I think he is one of my favourite human beings, even. He regales us with stories of how he used to work as a truck helper while going to UP at night, sleeping thru his classes, and getting a grade of 5 in Math 11. He picks up his mobile phone in the middle of his board presentation, if the caller happens to be his wife. He drafts his own contracts notwithstanding his stature as president of two companies. He drives a BMW but prefers to walk from office to office along EDSA. He teaches me his secrets to happiness and success, such as: ‘Better they get mad than I get mad’. Hahaha. He is certainly one of the most brilliant, most humble, and funniest people I have ever met. We all love him dearly.

Whoever said that there is no such thing as a free lunch … obviously did not work in my office.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Amazing List 13

1. Minor miracles in the form of finally, finally booting out The Big One, and in the process earning me a lunch treat in Mario’s and extra lechon skin from my allies

2. I’ll say it again: working in QC and being able to do so many fun stuff, like go on impromptu lunches with Thom

3. A no-plastics policy in QC. What took you so long, Bistek?

4. Having the time to watch all these movies: the silent movie The Artist, New Year’s Eve (set in New York and centered on the ball falling in Times Square and Jessica Biel’s character carried a Vera Bradley hospital bag haha), Nanny Mc Phee (with Boots), Everything Must Go (Will Ferrell doing a dramatic turn in this lovely, quirky indie movie), Being Flynn (which is one of those movies that are too painful and it turns out it is actually based on a memoir)

5. An endless supply of amazing books: House of Holes by Nicholson Baker, The Pact by Jodi Picoult, The Understudy by David Nicholls, and Whitethorn Woods by Maeve Binchy

6. Catching up with Mailyn over work and CafĂ© 1771’s snooty drinks and coffee pie (it deserves all the fame)

7. My weekly dinner dates with Ches, at places like Sakae Sushi (sushi buffet!), Cyma (roka salad!), and H Cuisine, which claims to have ‘the most awesome angus beef belly’ – and we’re glad to confirm that’s no exaggeration.

8. Regie’s lunch and milk tea treat for Babette and me at Sandy Daza’s Wooden Spoon and Saint’s Alp. Great food and milk tea, and all free, too. I love my Atenean friends, be they ever so snooty. Haha. Babs also finally, finally remembered to bring her British birds day bag, which is the perfect twin of my own. Winner! (Thank you, Regie and Babs!)

9. A Cath Kidston box bag and a fabulous Juicy bag from Rocky, in exchange for my legal services. The Cath Kidston bag also came with kitchen towels in my favourite shooting stars print. Happiness! (I ask Jon for help on estate settlement. Jon: Mukhang may paghahatian kayong kayamanan. Me: Para sa friend ng ate ko, kapalit ng Cath Kidston. Jon: Ayos! HAHAHA.)

10. A lechon and swimming party with office friends

11. Serena magnificently coming from behind and beating Azarenka in the US Open. Woohoo! (You gotta stop losing on all our bets, Chestnuts. It’s seriously getting old. Hahaha.)

12. Getting to see my favorite friend Randy all the time bcoz of our work on Project Mike

13. Yoshi calling me Mrs. Thumbelina bcoz I’m always emailing or texting away on my phone. I gotta admit - it’s a lot funnier than CrackBerry. Haha.

14. Yoshi doing well in the first quarter of school and earning himself a Chinese feast in his favorite resto