My First Nephew

Being an only child,  the closest I get to having a niece or a nephew is through my first cousins. Although I have nieces and nephews from my father’s side of the family, I did not grow up with them. I have met 3 or 4 of them but it did not feel like I was an aunt. They live far away from me.

The first week of July this year, we welcomed a new baby in the family (mother’s side). My cousin is the father of this cute little boy. It is amazing how one little boy can make a grown man cry with joy.  Yeah, my cousin is one proud daddy and I am a proud aunt.

My First Nephew

The sight of the baby sleeping is calming. I can stare at this all day. I tried carrying him but I worry that I might squish him or drop him. I have held a baby only a few times in my life so there is that fear that I was not doing it right. I do not think I can babysit for this kid. I’ll just wait for him to grow up and I’ll be his playmate. Hopefully, I will be the cool aunt- the one with all the candies and junk food. Hey, it is not my role to discipline. I am not the parent.  I do not think my cousin is reading this blog so I am safe to declare this things.

I pray that this kid will grow up to be a fine young man.

Below is a favorite poem of mine by Rudyard Kipling. It says everything I want to say to the little boy when grows up.

IF

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

What to do when the computer needs repair

Fair warning: This is not a self-help guide on computer repair.  The blogger is just narrating about the alternative activities she got involved in without using her Internet connection.
 

 I confess. I am online almost 16 hours a day. (Gasp!) I wish I am one of those people pounding the keyboard doing codes to create innovative websites. Embarrassingly, I am usually on Facebook and Twitter. I use Facebook to get in touch with friends and Twitter to promote my articles.

This year, I have been to the computer shop twice already: the motherboard and power supply were replaced. Last year, the hard disk was replaced and RAM was upgraded. When the computer conked out the third time this year, I decided it is time to get a new one. I am glad to learn that the new system will cost me Php 7,000 cheaper than the amount it cost me to buy the old computer six years ago.  I can not see myself buying a laptop because with the same specifications as the new desktop I am eying, it will cost me Php 10,000 more. As much as I like the mobility in having a laptop, it is more of a ‘want’ than a ‘need’.  Besides, I am not that mobile. I like working with a normal keyboard.

With the computer under repair and the new one still being configured, what should I do with the free time?

CLEAN THE ROOM

Stacks of paper have accumulated in the room. Old CDs are still kept even if I do not use them anymore. I do not even know what is in them. While the room looks in order and neat. Dust had settled in the nooks and crannies. Since I am buying a new desktop, I might as well clear all the clutter and start anew.  So, the cleaning begins.

In the past, I still managed to keep some items because ” I might need these one day”. Then I thought of the hoarders I saw on Oprah. I decided I can not be that kind of person. I should not hold on to material possessions. I closed my eyes and placed all those papers I stacked all these years in a garbage bag.  I hope the garbage collector will find something of use for them. ( Do they segregate trash? I hope so or this trash is going to a landfill. Oh no!)

READ

The Hunger Games is a trilogy by Suzanne Collins. A copy was saved in my phone. IBecause of the free time I have, I was able to finish it.  All I can say is that I LOVE the story. The trouble with finishing the book is that I want to continue with the next book which is still in my computer that was under repair. Today I found out that it is going to be a movie next year. I hope it is gonna be a good adaptation.  GO and read this book!

Photo credit: http://www.thehungergames.co.uk

Visit the official website and download some excerpts here to see if this book catches your fancy.

 LISTEN TO MUSIC

Lately, I have been listening to The Script, Adele, Train and Katy Perry.  But alas! I have not loaded the music files into my cellphone so I have to be contented with what I have previously loaded. I checked my cellphone and I saw that I still have Lea Salonga, One Republic and Wicked cast recording on my track list. Not bad. In the middle of the night, I put my headphones on and listened to the soothing voice of Lea Salonga.

Here is a youtube video of her singing Promise Me: (Video courtesy of MSManila80)
http://youtu.be/dw4SroBh5RQ

LAUNDRY

This is not one of my favorite chores to do. But I got ‘new’ clothes from the thrift shop that need to be thoroughly washed. (Read: Ukay) My hands got some beating after all the wringing I did. Although my fingers looked tired and sinewy, it looked beautiful. (Like they say, “Beautiful hands are hands that work.” 😉 ) I went to sleep with a feeling of accomplishment.

One of my favorite things to do though is folding laundry. I find comfort in the smell of fresh laundry. Smoothing the fabric and folding it is zen-like. I like seeing neatly piled clothes.  Maybe I should get a job in a clothing store.

REFLECTION

I am relieved to know that I am not that dependent on technology. I still can enjoy my day without my computer. I knew this last year when we had scheduled brownouts for two months. Every afternoon, I spent it looking through old photos, reading magazines and listening to music. I found a nice spot where there was natural light. While some of my cousins ranted about boredom, I was perfectly contented where I was.

I am never bored anywhere:  being bored is an insult to oneself.  ~Jules Renard

New Puppy and other Dog Stories

The last time the house had a dog was when I was still in grade school. His name was ‘Bagets’. If you are not familiar with the ’80’s Philippine pop culture,  Bagets is a coming-of-age movie which stars Aga Muhlach, Herbert Bautista, to name a few.

I was afraid of the dog. (I am afraid of dogs. Period.) Being the new face in the house then, Bagets would go near me which frightened me. I was so afraid to go near the dog that they let him out of the house just to stop me from crying. But when it was time to let him in, they could not find him. He strayed to some house a block away from the house. Even my grandfather looked for him. Good thing they found him. I realized that I should try not to panic around  Bagets because I saw how worried everyone was when he got lost.

It is evident in this photo that I was afraid of him. Bagets tried to ignore me. Thus, he was almost cropped out of the photo.

I was the little girl at the back who was afraid of Bagets.

Since I was often visiting my aunt’s house, Bagets and I became friends.  When we moved to this house, Bagets treated me the same way he treated other members of the household. He would bark and run about when I return home from school.  When my cousin and I would ride the tricycle to go somewhere, he would run after the tricycle wanting to go with us. We sometimes feared he might not be able to find his way home because he would run after the tricycle as far as he can. When he got into a fight with another dog, my cousin and I cried over his wounded leg. When there was a fire a block away from us and we were packing our things,  my cousin and I cried thinking that we will leave behind Bagets.  Bagets died when I was already in high school. I was not home so I did not see him die. I still miss him. He was a good dog.

Bagets died in the early ’90s. We did not have a dog until my cousin brought ‘Shawie’ home in 2008 ( Or was it 2009?). She is a dachshund.

Shawie’s stay in the house was short-lived. My cousin had to bring her to a place with a bigger lawn because my father vehemently refused raising the dog in the house. We visit her from time to time whenever we go to that place. Don’t get me wrong. My father loved animals. As a kid, my bedtime stories were stories about Rin Tin Tin (dog), the black panther and the bear. I do not know if he made the stories up. Most of his stories were the friendship formed between man and animal. My father objected raising the dog here because he believed that those in the city should not have dogs for a pet if there is not enough space in their house for the dog to run around. (We do not have a lawn.)

Now, my aunt has a new puppy and I get to play with him everyday.  I am the big sister to the puppy, so to speak. (There are no more objections from my father because he is already in heaven.) The puppy was named Joaqui. I hope he is a good dog like Bagets. He is still small and the entire house is his playground. He quite behaved. Although he is still not toilet-trained, he would find a corner to hide in shame whenever we shout his name because he pooped in the house. It is so easy to forgive his toilet mishaps when he looks at us with his doe-eyes. I think he is going to be a sweet, sweet dog. I just hope we will be able to raise him well so he can live a long life.

Nature and Photography

I love looking at photos.  Whenever a friend comes home from a trip, I always ask them to post their photos. I love photography. I am always in awe of photographs that friends post in Facebook.  There are a lot of them who took photography as a hobby and come up with excellent photos. As much as I would like to do the same, this hobby is pretty expensive. So I make use of what I have. I own a six-year old Canon A510. It is only a 3.1 MP but it can satisfactorily produce great photos, too. It has its limitations yet this camera has captured a lot of memories for me.

Canon

Photo credit: Canon USA

My next camera will still be Canon. I’m currently drooling over a Canon S95.

What I lack in photography skills and equipment I make up for it in editing. I use Photoscape. It lacks the masking and layering features of Photoshop but it has most of the editing tools I frequently use in Photoshop. The best thing about it is that… it is FREE!

With a low-tech camera and an editing software, I turn to the most reliable photography subject: NATURE. Foolproof! I get great pictures all the time. God is indeed THE CREATOR. He’s got great works of art.

I try to practice some photography skills with nature. (Yeah, I know. Too safe. It is foolproof, Kat! I amaze only myself. haha!) With this green landscape, I try to search for burst (or specks) of colors.

I used the “oil painting” finish for this photo and it did not change much. This goes to show there is no need for tweaking when it comes to nature photos.

Okra Flower

Because I do not eat a lot of vegetables, I just photograph them. Ha!

Camote Tops

In a Manila Bulletin article, some folks used this vegetable to help normalize platelet levels for those who have dengue.

This is Malunggay. I eat this one. We often use this in soups.

Malunggay leaves

And this is the Kangkong flower. If you look closely, there is a bee gathering some nectar.

Kangkong flowers and Mr. Bee

I like to use the macro feature in the camera. Even the small flowers can be appreciated.

I photographed the soil and captured rocks and mosses.

Rocks

Moss. Looks like a micro-forest down there.

My uncle took notice of my actions whenever I am holding a camera. He quipped, ‘You are like Kim’. I was surprised by his remark. I thought he was referring to Kim Chiu, the young actress. I thought, “Do I look that young? “ Most importantly, am I that thin? ( Who am I kidding? LOL! I just want to write that here. A girl can dream.) So, I asked, “Kim Chiu?” My uncle replied, ” No. Kuya Kim. He photographs even the ants.” I see. I can accept that. Back to earth, Kat!

Sometimes, I look upwards. The blue sky and the tall plants are picture-perfect, too.

Blue sky with some clouds.

I wanted to take a close-up photo of the red “fruit” and the flower but it is too high up so I have to be contented with this one.

Achuete

Even with my city’s black-sand beach, nature still makes me trigger-happy.

Sea shells on the shore.

The sea

Even as the day ends, the setting sun leaves the sky with some resplendent glow. I have seen sunset photographs of friends and those are breathtaking. Mine pales in comparison.

Sunset

After all I have said, the real experience trumps all the best photographs. See a sunrise, a sunset or both. Smell the flowers, feel the cool breeze, touch the sand with your bare feet.

So go out and get in touch with nature!

My Flood Stories

Butuan City, where I live, is a flood-prone area. My mother and her sisters had told us a lot of flood stories. They lived near the river (we still do). When rainy season comes, the river swells and overflows. There was a time that they experienced flooding for a month. They traveled using bancas (small boat without the outrigger). They had to live with my grandmother’s sister situated in a land with higher elevation but in a village far from the city.

My aunt narrates, “The city was flooded for a month. We had to live in San Vicente with an aunt. I had an earache so bad that I stayed for a week in another relative who was going to administer the shots. In the same month, my grandmother died. Imagine the challenges we had!”

“One time, we were in a boat and the strong current knocked our boat in a nearby tree. Then, the centipedes in that tree fell on us. Imagine us wriggling ourselves in the small boat trying to brush off the insects”, she added. Centipede venom can be lethal, I learned.

At a young age, I was fully aware of flooding in my city. I experienced it. This is a photo of me in a banca with my cousins and aunt while my grandparents and other aunts looked on. I think this happened in 1979 or 1980. (Oh my! I am revealing my age. LOL!) I do not know if the water level already subsided. I can see that the water was just ankle-deep.

I have not experienced flooding since this photo above. Not until 1999. So it was a novelty for my cousin and I to experience it again.


As I look at the pictures now, one thing comes to mind: Leptospirosis.
From Wikipedia:
Leptospirosis (also known as Weil’s disease,) is a disease caused by infection with bacteria of the genus Leptospira that affects humans as well as other mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles… The infection is commonly transmitted to humans by allowing water that has been contaminated by animal urine to come in contact with unhealed breaks in the skin, the eyes, or with the mucous membranes.

We are lucky we did not catch any disease by wading in the flood waters without boots!

On a regular day, the street looks like this:

And my aunt’s house looks like this:

Inside our house, my father had to clean up the living room, dining room and kitchen area.

We were lucky that the water level was not that high. Our bedroom and bathroom were elevated so we can still sleep and clean ourselves comfortably. Remember what I said about family and what matters in life. I still managed to smile and we still had a delicious dinner together as a family. Parang picnic lang! (Like a picnic!)

This flood incident prompted my parents to raise the floor level of the house to about an inch or two. Thus, by 2006, when flooding occurred again, we were spared. The streets were flooded but our house was dry.

Fast forward to February 2011, flooding occurred again. This time, it reached the living room, dining room and kitchen area.

Bedroom and bathroom area were okay. Thank you, God. Thanks to my parents for being astute when it comes to design and engineering. Our no plan/no architect house is still a safe haven.

Since the living room was flooded, we had to carry the sofa to a dry area.

My aunt’s house was flooded, too. They have never experienced flooding before. Since water in the garage area in my aunt’s house was more than a feet deep, my cousin’s motorcycle was parked in my emptied living room. Of course, someone took the opportunity to pose for a photo.

No furniture in the house was damaged. Cleanup was tiring but I was happy I got a workout out of it and a cleaner house.

The casualty

Like most Filipinos I know, I have a penchant for posing for a photo to commemorate an event (even sad ones). Since I have previous flood photos compiled, I thought of having my photo taken in my flooded living room. Since most people in the house were busy, there was no one to take my photo so I set the self-timer on a table. I quickly took my place in the middle of the living room. Alas! I slipped and landed on the flood waters face down. I tasted blood in my mouth. I realized that I chipped a tooth.

Maybe it is Mother Nature’s way of kicking my behind for not taking the situation seriously. I could only imagine what my late father could have said if he had witnessed my silliness. I could have heard an earful from him.

No broken bones. The unwanted fats in my body had a purpose. The flood water may have contributed in cushioning the impact. With a bruised ego and a chipped tooth, I still managed to smile for a photo to mark my stupidity. I already lost my tooth. I am not going to lose my sense of humor. It is a funny story to tell to friends and family. (Yes, I posted it on facebook. No, I am not posting it here. I have moved on. Ha! )

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