Photographs and memories

For the past 800 years, if the tree could talk, it would be able to tell us what it has witnessed on better days. For the tree to still stand and withstood the foibles of humanity, nothing is better than getting a good hug from it.

Dante Alighieri is another example who has seen better days. When he was exiled from his hometown, Florence, he was heartbroken. His heartache drove him to write the famous Divine Comedy.

In Canto 5, Dante met Francesca de Polenta. She said to Dante:

There is no greater pain
than to remember happy days
in days of misery.

Francesca committed adultery and was put in the circle of lust. She discovered that her happiness having a forbidden love is now her misery.

This year, we are celebrating the 700th year of Dante. What a better year to delve in his work as a poet and a pilgrim while we ride the wave of pandemic. So I joined reading 100 Days of Dante. It would go on until Easter 2022, by then we are hoping the malaise of the society has very little negative effective in our mental health.

When I think of better days, I think of a plum and prune.

What did the prune say to a plum?

I’ve seen better days.

White Space

I spend many times staring into space as much as I can whenever I can. It’s an important activity that disconnects me from the busyness of work during coffee and lunch breaks. It is a luxury to be able to do this when I have long list that requires attention.

As I was waiting for the bus sheltered by plexiglass during my early commute to work, I noticed the fog forming. I wrote: White Space.

White space.
It is a space in between prayers and thoughts creeping in. Hail Mary full of grace … prepare meeting agenda … the Lord is with you … must return phone call … Blessed are you amongst women … gosh I forgot to return the books … and blessed is the fruit of your womb …. buy kitty litters …. Jesus, help me focus praying.

White space.
It can be annoying that I cannot even complete a single prayer. Forcing myself to complete the Hail Mary is work so I stop praying and stared into space. I find that staring into space provides the stillness of thoughts and I become involved in a thoughtless prayer.

White space.
The pause between breaths: breath in, Hail Mary, pause, breath out, full of grace, pause … puts me in a meditative stance as if breathing is a prayer. This is nothing new, an old technique I learn to calm my thoughts and body. It is a necessary pauses that connects me to God.

W  h  i  t  e      S  p  a  c  e

Cast in Stone

 A photo taken 33 years ago in Manila reminds me how sad and brave my grandmothers were as they bid us farewell for our journey to Vancouver.  After final blessings, embraces, and tears, we boarded the plane with suitcases crammed full of everything we could bring from our old life.  Everything except my cherished umbrella which we had somehow neglected to pack.  I loved that umbrella the way other four-year-olds treasure dolls or teddy bears.  My new friends were mystified by my broken spirit and broken English.  I did not know the word for umbrella.  “My payong, my payong.”  I repeated woefully.  I wanted the umbrella that had sheltered me from the hot sun. 

I wanted to escape this strange place where umbrellas held the wind and rain at bay.  As I got older the memory of my umbrella drizzled away.  I planned my getaway: Paris, Tel Aviv, New Delhi … even Toronto.  Anywhere but rainy, boring Vancouver.  Like my parents, I sought a better life elsewhere.  Unlike them, elsewhere left me disappointed.  I yearned for the seawall and for Granville Island and salad rolls.  In my homesick mind, I heard the seagulls at Kits Beach, and breathed in the deep green peace of a day spent at UBC.  I longed to smell the cedar tree in the backyard of my childhood in Marpole, and to taste the vegetables my parents tend there.  I ached for Vancouver. 

Today, I show the photo, taken all those years and countless lost umbrellas ago, to my husband and children.  I will leave umbrellas behind, but I don’t forget where I have been or how far I traveled to get here.  Once it was a distant destination promised in a photograph.  Now it is the place I love and call home.  ~ Bernadette Gonzales McGrath 

The story of Bernadette is in two places.  One in Marpole, close to where she used to live, attached to a lamp-post.  The second is a monumental rock where each word is cast in stone, at Queen Elizabeth Park, a forever chiseled story cast in stone. A masterpiece. 

Bernadette and I are cousins.

 

Sunday Snippet

This is supposed to be a reblog but I am having difficulty doing it in my second generation iPad.

The source is from friarmusing, I call him FrG as a term of endearment, short for Fr. George.

His writings are enjoyable to read and exceptionally good reads. This post is about a list of reading materials.

This post is by no means complete, thorough, or makes any claim to being the last word. It is just a slice of what is out there on September 4th that caught my eye, looked interesting, and so I gave it a read. Maybe you will too.

▪Worried About Breakthrough Infections? Here’s How to Navigate This Phase of the Pandemic – New York Times.

▪Long-Haulers Are Fighting for Their Future – The Atlantic

▪Six Important Questions About Booster Shots Answered – Smithsonian

▪The Coronavirus Could Get Worse – The Atlantic

▪Pandemic Psychology – The Guardian

The Pandemic Psychology from The Guardian surprised me. As I dig deeper, a Canadian Psychiatrist from UBC Department of Psychiatry published an article that I never encountered in our news media written by Steven Taylor in 2018 pre-covid era. I have so much respect for this department because they helped me reshape my faulty thinking due to brain disorder.

He interpreted that pandemics “are essentially a psychological phenomenon and about the behaviors, attitudes and emotions of people” and that “the psychological footprint is bigger than the medical footprint”.

That, Taylor says, is not to downplay the significance of the disease to those that have become sick or died, but that many more people have been psychologically affected. The analysis was fleshed out in another academic paper, published in Canadian Psychology, in which he wrote that “pandemics are not simply events in which some harmful microbe ‘goes viral’”.

He wrote: “Psychology plays a central role in pandemics, influencing the spreading and containment of diseases, and shaping pandemic-related distress and socially disruptive, divisive and potentially harmful phenomena such as panic buying, racism and protests against pandemic mitigation restrictions.”

Lesson learned: Sunday sermon is not all about the Gospel.

Photographs and Memories

My feet carry me in different parts of the world to understand the divinity of Mother Earth.  I am grateful what Mother Earth provides beneath our feet.

Along the way, we encounter a bridge and calm water that create a perfect reflection of what is above the still water, ‘as above, so below.’

Passing a bridge walking along Santiago de Compostela

Passing a bridge walking along Santiago de Compostela

Pilgrimage takes me to sacred sites where I deepen my faith and understand other’s devotion. The road beneath our feet can be a rocky terrain. There are others that will go up hiking barefooted to feel more connected with the Earth.

Stony path hiking to the top of Medjugorje

A flat paved surface is a pleasure to walk along the groves of olive trees as we pray the rosary and meditate on the passion of Jesus Christ.

Flat surface at Fatima

For more adventure, climbing Mt. Sinai requires the help of a guide or a camel ride in the dark. At Mt. Sinai, we meditated about Moses’ encounter with the burning bush and talking to his God. At the top of the mountain, we welcome the rising of the sun. With the sun’s glorious light, a new day dawning and darkness dispelled, the walk down is more treacherous. A rock beneath your feet, one could take a tumble on a slippery slope.

Rugged terrain at Mt. Sinai

Walking a Sacred Labyrinth in tuned with every step and every breath we take quietens the mind. There is no right or wrong way to walk. There is no time limit. Meditating or staying prayerful as we step one foot forward, stop and pause as long as we want, then take the next step. One could never get lost going in the center with an open mind and heart . We walk out of the circle feeling rejuvenated and centered.

Labyrinth at Naramata

According Hermes Emerald Tablet ‘as above, so below’, I can only translate this according to my Catholic faith.

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” ~ Jesus Prayer

Church Cemetery at Oberammergau

As a pilgrim, I keep walking, passing through these places. In the end of it all, I will be the one lying beneath His feet.

Negative Space

The City of Vancouver provides this plaque with blue triangle as a decor of heritage places especially old house that are preserved by new tenants. It’s fascinating to see old homestead and bricks surrounded by modern homes.

Community gardens are also provided by the city for green space. You can plant what ever you want. When it comes to my humble abode, I like negative space. Hardly any decor at all.

Remember IKEA? (I Know Everything Already.) It’s the number one home decor store that is within your budget. The only thing is you have to assemble your furniture. I have no patience for reading adding instructions and deep six that idea. Needless to say, i have no IKEA stuff.

Remembering Heart Surgery Blues

G.A. Miller sketched his self-portrait when he had a heart surgery, titled My Golden Colorado Days. Not only can he draw, he’s a singer as well. A good one I must. say.

GAM thank you for putting this all together for me. Much appreciated. Seeker.

To listen to the heart surgery blues song, please visit my post here.

Meanwhile in Canada

Reading memes, one-liner jokes and satire are tricky. There are a few abrasive ones that made me squirm. But satire won’t always make us comfortable, or even always make us laugh.

These two made me laugh and smile.

“Watching fully vaccinated people scared of unvaccinated people is today’s comedy show”
“Why call it a vaccine passport when you can just call it a covID”

Meanwhile is Canada was once to be a funny site filled with memes and jokes. It can be political and shares its meme with the news. But it went overboard and some readers where aghast.

“this page used to have funny memes. Now it’s just pushing vaccine propaganda and shaming the anti vaccers. It’s terrible. I can follow local news to hear this.”

“This page is quickly becoming political and basically Covid Only content.. we hear and see enough of this on the news, social media, etc. If you aren’t a professional, don’t speak on it like you are.”



“A lot of interesting comments indeed but I do miss the lighthearted/comedic commentary that this group generated. Shout out from Sweden 🇸🇪 ”

“Imagine using your very well known page to spout off on your personal agenda because you know better, even though it should be a personal choice.”

“Meanwhile in Canada again keep your own opinion out of this… ”

It used to bring a smile on my face unfortunately it became a site of hubris.

I made a comment on this post “Meanwhile in Canada About page is “Looking at the lighter side of life in Canada and Canadian politics. Hope you “like”. It! Satire (including comments). Nothing to like here.”

Thank you Meanwhile of Canada for deleting my comment and blocking me. Now I can only share a comment elsewhere. So, I’m sharing.

The Grace of finding Veronica Shoffstall

Having different names can be inspirational. I, for example, have used many names from Seeker to Pilgrim to Perpetua. Then there is Grace.

I have posted “Plant your own garden, decorate your own soul” twice. The poem has been an inspiration to so many. However, it has been attributed to so many names such as Jorge Luis Borges, Shakespeare and Veronica Shoffstall.

Jimmy and GG

After a while, you learn the subtle difference Between holding a hand and chaining a soul And you learn that love doesn’t mean security, And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts And presents aren’t promises.

Grace found the poem posted in three different occasions at Ravenous Butterflies in Facebook attributed to Veronica Shoffstall. In the first post, Grace being ungraceful commented insisting that it was written by Borges. A Ronnie Shoffstall was inspired to reply that she and Veronica are the same. Still Grace is skeptic

On the second post, a quote showed up in Ravenous Butterflies:

So plant your own gardens and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for some to bring you flowers.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Grace commented: Kindly give us the full quote of Jose Luis Borge. And Butterflies obliged attributing it to Borges.

Pandemonium ensued that Veronica Shoffstall is the author commented by many.

Therefore, Butterflies changed the author to Shoffstall. Fair enough since it was originally posted as Shoffstall.

Enter Grace commenting again since she is so inspired by this poetry attaching it to her photos as an avid gardener.

“Ravenous Butterflies, what made you change the name of the writer from Borges to Shoffstall.”

Grace is the ability to redefine the boundaries of possibility. ~ MANNING MARABLE

garden

And you begin to accept your defeats With your head up and your eyes open, With the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child. And you learn to build all your roads on today, Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain. And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

The following is the conversation in Ravenous Butterflies third post between Grace Siglos and Ronnie Shoffstall (in italic).

RS: because Veronica A. Shoffstall is the author of this poem. Sr. Borges wrote a different poem, and someone (who would get pimples and hemorrhoids) taked my poem onto it.

GS: word for word added a few lines, wart and all, I suppose anyone can call it theirs. Just like I said, I wish the dead could speak. ( GS and RS had a previous conversation before in the first post).

RS: So do I, my fried. So Do I.

GS: unfortunately Jorge Lois Borges died when the poetry showed up written in English.

RS: Like I said, if you really want to know, do some honest research with the facts I’ve provided. Otherwise, please don’t spread misinformation. It’s hurting me.

GS: I am not spreading misinformation and I am not the only one that is questioning the validity of the poetry. I am hurting as well.

RS: So check it out. Satisfy yourself.

GS: hahaha … not buying your response. YOU have to provide th facts since it’s in your name.

Maple Tree

After a while, you learn that even sunshine Burns if you get too much. So you plant your own garden and decorate Your own soul, instead of waiting For someone to bring you flowers

RS: I have done. I will do again and again. *First published in The Ivy, yearbook of SUNY Mohawk Valley. 1972 Yearbook was late, so it was delivered in a boxed edition, with my poem beautifully printed on a piece of parchment.

This must have made this easy to copy, distribute, or hang on refrigerator doors. It made its way around the SUNY system and eventually showed up without my name.

By December 1982, it had found its way to the syndicated Ann Landers Advice Column. My mother was a dedicated Ann Fan and called me, all excited, when my poem appeared in the column, someone asking who wrote it. I was in contact with Ann Landers office at the Chicago Tribune, and Ms. Landers posted my poem many times afterward, correctly and properly attributed, calling it, in her book WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE, one of her most requested items.

Since then it has been published in more than 40 books, ranging from a Jewish book of advice, a quilters manual, a lesbian live novel, and a Christian marriage manual, and in several novels. It was even recited in its entirety in a played called, NANTUCKET SLEIGH RIDE, by John Guarre. Each of those authors found me, researched me, and requested my consent. An excellent calligrapher. Sherry Locker, markets my poem and gives me a percentage of the profits to the Polycystic Kidney Foundation, a disease my brother, sister, dad, aunt and uncles, as well as myself, all experience(d).

People started showing up claiming this poem, changing this poem, or asking my permission to corroborate on a better version of my poem. Several have been given permission to set it to music. I haven’t made as much money from this poem (maybe $500 since 1982?) as I’ve spent to defend it, with a lawyer who told me it would be like “gathering feathers in the wind”. So now I depend on angels who know the truth about this poem’s creator and defend the truth.

You asked for this, Grace Siglos. I hope I don’t have to say all this again. I don’t know who makes up a story like this, but if it sounds MORE LIKELY TO YOU that I would put my name in the work of a FAMOUS poet, then you are certainly have freedom of belief. You are one of those blasted feathers in the wind.

GS: thank you. You should do more that this and write to the copyright powers to clear your name. Plus post it on your FB and your blog site. If I am the real writer, I wouldn’t be mad and start name calling but be thankful that this piece of poetry is associated with famous writer. It’s all a blessing similar to Madame Currie’s invention and became a Nobel Prize Winner.

RS: Grace, I think the only thing I called you was a feather in the wind. I apologize if my tone was filled with frustration and indignance but I’ve been dealing with this a very long time. I don’t have children so this poem is my only thing that will outlive me. I rarely ask for money, usually a signed copy of the book (I have KISS ME LIKE A STRANGER, by Gene Wilder!) or tickets to the play by Mr. Guarre (it sucked btw). Anyway I appreciate that you a seeker of truth — I belong to the Baha’i Faith and we’re big on that. And I’m an American, which at least proclaims itself to be. So I did not mean to offend you and I’m sorry if I did. I was just frustrated . And since you forced me to write all this out, I’ll save it so I don’t have to keep doing it. So thank you, Grace.

Bouquet of flowers

And you learn that you really can endure… That you really are strong, And you really do have worth And you learn and learn and learn. With every goodbye, you learn.

GS: I can understand your frustration. My background is mostly validation on facts, figures, science, legal and strength of materials. I have strong faith as well. You still have time to send notification without costing you to clear confusion as I mentioned above. BTW, thanks for visiting my site.

If any consolation to you, the Spanish community vehemently saying this is not the work of Borges or Shakespeare but yours. I doubt Shakespeare wrote this. Gosh, you’re famous amongst these literary writers. I suppose people are looking for Veronica and not Ronnie where the confusion lies.

RS: It’s crazy. Jorge Luis Borges has books of poetry, he’s got biographers! He’s an esteemed, productive poet! It boggles my mind that there is any confusion at all. I guess I should be honored, but it really makes a problem for me, particularly because it is already in so many books and publications. I hate that anyone thinks I’M the plagiarist.

GS: Just like I said the confusion lies on the name between Ronnie and Veronica. Hope you pinned a note on your FB and blog sites that Ronnie/Veronica is the same person.

In the meantime, Grace found the yearbook with the poetry, provided it to Butterflies that is was written by Ronnie Shoffstall and change the name to clear the confusion.

RS: Thank you, but my name is Veronica. Ronnie is a pretty standard abbreviation. Please don’t change my name. Ronnie is what my friends call me. It’s my “home name”. As far as the bank, the government, my insurance companies, and other matters of importance, I’m Veronica. If you are my friend you can call me Ronnie, but Veronica wrote the poem, copyrighted the poem, and attributed to the poem. None of my important papers say Ronnie. I doubt that my nickname was the problem. But thank you for your concern.

GS: To end this on a good note. Here’s the message I received from Centro Jorge Luis Borges Biblioteca Nacional Mariano Moreno Republica Argentina:

I am writing to you in order to answer mail that I send you above the message.

By this means, I have to say that the text that you have sent us does not belong to Jorge Luis Borges and of course is not part of his Complete Works.

I think, is just a fake text that apparently appears in a page of googlereads (goodreads) as many others.

Best regards,
German Alvarez

Plant your own garden

My gardening days are winding down Inspiration to garden lives on passing it down

Cats, Diapers, Sperm, Infertile, etc. etc. etc.

Moot points. Let the debate begin. I have all day.

RESPONSES TO THE QUESTION, “WHY DIDN’T YOU EVER HAVE KIDS?”

“Diapers are an environmental disaster (and also, yuck).”

“I enjoy my carefree lifestyle of two jobs, an elderly mother whose crises necessitate expensive bi-weekly trips out of state and a diabetic cat that needs insulin shots twice a day.”

“It was so great to catch up with you after all these years, really, but would you look at the time?”

“According to their profiles, all the sperm donors available were Rhodes Scholar finalists for both the Fields Medal and the Man Booker Prize who’d at least bronzed in the Olympics, and I really just wanted a regular kid.”

“That’s kind of a personal question, isn’t it?”

“I hate getting up before 9 am (mainly because I am sometimes up until then finishing freelance work).”

“I considered it, but I couldn’t afford a nanny, a dangerously ill-trained au pair or even a teenager who might work for $5 an hour and access to my unlocked liquor cabinet.” (That mid-shelf bourbon is fucking expensive.)

“My mother had it rough with my grandmother. I had it rough with my mother. My cat seems to think I’m pretty fucking awesome.”

“Do you ask childless middle-aged men this question?”

“As a matter of principle, I’m opposed to minivans.”

“Yes, I realize I’ve missed out on an integral part of the female experience. But the one week a month I spend writhing on the bathroom floor and bleeding through every goddamn overpriced tampon in the box helps remind me that I am, and always shall be, one with the sisterhood.”

“Why didn’t you ever have a cat?”

“Watch an episode of Better Things and then let me know if you still have any questions.”

“That’s really none of your business, is it?”

“Maybe I’m infertile! Maybe I had a miscarriage! Maybe I never met the right partner! Maybe I thought the prospect of having a child alone only made sense for women with a trust fund and the patience of Gandhi!”

“Maybe I wanted to break a dysfunctional family pattern and the only way I could figure out how to do it was to not have kids.”

“Maybe it’s none of your fucking business.”

“You’re right, I will have regrets when I’m in menopause! I regret staying in my dorm to study that night in 1984 when R.E.M. played The Rat. Beyond that, I’m good.”

“Yes, I realize there will be no one to take care of me in my old age. No one I can demand to hop on a plane to change my burned out lightbulbs and clip my toenails, no one who will spend hours scrubbing my kitchen — cleaning out the moldy cheeses and rancid mystery meats from the fridge, handwashing all the dishes because the dishwasher is broken and I’m too cheap to get it fixed — and who I will then berate because I would have preferred said adult child (almost certainly a daughter) use a different kind of cleaning solution, one that I refuse to believe has not been on the market since 1992. I’m good with paying strangers to put up with this kind of shit, thanks.”

“MAYBE IT’S NONE OF YOUR MOTHERFUCKING BUSINESS.”

“Yeah, probably I’m just selfish.”

Source: McSweeney written by Lisa Borders

Post Card to myself

Although i may have travelled all the roads,
crossed mountains and valleys from East to West,
if i haved not discovered the freedom to be my self,
i have arrived nowhere.

Although i may have shared all of my possessions
with people of other languages and cultures;
made friends with pilgrims of thousand paths,
or shared alberque with saints and princes,
if i am not capable of forgiving my neighbor tomorrow,
i have arrived nowhere.

Although i may have carried my pack from beginning to end
and waited for every pilgrim in need of encouragement,
or given my bed to one who arrived later than i,
given my bottle of water in exchange for nothing;
if upon returning to my home and work,
i am not able to create brotherhood
or to make happiness, peace and unity,
i have arrived nowhere.

Although i may have had food and water each day,
and enjoyed a roof and shower every night;
or may have had my injuries well attented,
if i have not discovered all that the love of God,
i have arrived nowhere.

Although i may have seen all the monuments
and contemplated the best sunsets;
although i may have learned a greeting in every lanaguage
or tasted the clean water from every fountain;
if i have discovered who is the author
of so much free beauty and so much peace,
i have arrived nowhere.

If from today i do not continue walking on your path,
searching and living according to what i have learned;
in from today i do not see in every person, friend or foe
a companion on the Camino;
if from today i cannot recognize God,
the God of Jesus of Nazareth
as one God of my life,
i have arrived at nowhere.

This is a postcard titled “Pilgrim’s Prayer” written by Fraydino I bought not as a souvenir but a reminder that I am only a pilgrim on earth.

Let Us Ask Ourselves

Let us not lose the memory preserved by the elderly, for we are children of that history, and without roots, we will wither. They protected us as we grew, and now it is up to us to protect their lives, to alleviate their difficulties, to attend to their needs and to ensure that they are helped in daily life and not feel alone. Let us ask ourselves: “Have I visited my grandparents, my elderly relatives, the older people in my neighbourhood? Have I listened to them? Have I spent time with them?” Let us protect them, so that nothing of their lives and dreams may be lost. May we never regret that we were insufficiently attentive to those who loved us and gave us life.

Source: World Day for Grandparents and Elderlies

Photo: Dear My Friends Korean Show

Photographs and Memories

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” ~ Marcel Proust

IMG_1179

Youngest cousin surrounded by older (Instamatic Camera)

Memories:  This is one of the very few prints I kept using simple instamatic disposable cameras. I can’t even remember who the baby was, for we had so many of them — looking at this photo brought back memories of me when I was maybe four or five. My brother was just born, the youngest in our family. My siblings and I were at the foot of the bed, watching the baby in awe. A fluid was dripping from my nose, stuck out my tongue to like it. 

It’s strange how my brain conjured this memory. Maybe my brain is telling me that what I see in my mind is essential versus what I see.

A lady bird landed on my arm. (Canon camera)

Symbolism and Meaning:  A ladybug landed on my arm when I was on one of my pilgrim walks. The other pilgrim said it’s a sign of luck that Mother Mary came to visit This belief is based on Christianity. One thing I know for sure, when I see a ladybug, it brings out the happiness in me.

The other day, I was watching “The Dig” on Netflix. It’s a true story that happened in 1939 that changed England’s history where they dug up a burial site of an elaborate ship filled with treasures. One of the items they found is a well preserved yellow ladybird. What’s fascinating is the treasures were carbon-dated during the early Anglo-Saxon period around 410 to 1055. 

I wonder what made them carry this object. Is it for divine protection for the afterlife?

Medjugorje Christ Statue (instamatic camera)

Pilgrimage:   Returning from spiritual travel, folks always ask for a photo to support stories I tell them. They want to see pictures of churches, masses, the incorruptible, and miracles such as a dancing sun or an apparition. Really!?! Maybe, I can photoshop some of my pictures. But I don’t. What you see is what you get.  

When I was at Medjugorje, an imposing larger than life, Christ Risen bronze statue stood at the square. I noticed a man wiping the knee of the sculpture. When he was gone, I went to inspect what he did. The statue is solid to the touch but hollow inside. Touching the knee, I cannot determine what the man saw. I just stood there baffled, and then I saw a trickle of water dripping down. Interesting. Where is this condensation coming from, I thought. I even checked if there’s a water valve attached to the statue to fill the hollow part. Nothing. So I wiped the water off with my hand. It has no smell. I looked at the knee with great intent and saw water forming like a tear. I wiped it again, checked if there is a hole on the knee. Nothing. The tear-life liquid leaks again. I was mystified. 

Did I take a photo of the liquid? Unfortunately not. I’m not a photographer equipped with all the proper camera. All I have is a story.

For those who believe no miracle is enough, for those who believe no miracle is necessary.”

Apparently, a liter of liquid comes out of the statue daily.  There are oral testimonies that it is can cure illness.  On the scientific level performed, it’s 99% water with traces of calcium, copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, sodium, sulfur and zinc.  The Church does not comment on the phenomenon.

A Year of Finding Things Out

Miracle.  All of it!  That’s the sum total of my year.

Pineapple Sage

There are miracles and miracles.  It is regarded as a miracle if God does someone’s will.  The best miracle is if someone does the will of God.

For two years, I nurtured the pineapple sage from sampling to maturity.  It grew into a huge bush, mostly leaves.  Pleading to the plant to please, please, please, flower for me; even just one flower.  It did not.  Maybe I placed it on the wrong side of the garden where it only receives 6 hours of full sun.  I thought, next year, I have to give this plant a rest.  On the first day of winter,  I saw the most beautiful shade of red. It’s flowering despite low temperature and snow.

I knitted you in your mother’s womb.

Oh, baby, baby.  Our newest addition to our family, Sawyer, finally moved closer to home, from the east coast to the west coast at the beginning of this year.  Needless to say, we are all ecstatic.  I am proud to say I knitted this blanket that he is finally growing into.  The pattern is called minted square.  One square is completely different from the rest — an error – I found out when it’s all finished.  That’s okay.  Sawyer wouldn’t notice the difference.

All good things are wild, and free.

The annual camping tradition was not canceled.  Thank goodness our provincial park did not close our playground due to the virus.  We were good abiding citizens and practiced social distancing during camping.  The kids booked their own campsite side by side and we have one big site for communal all day cooking and eating.  The pleasure of being simple in the woods, keeping voices low, not breaking the sound of silence, and kumbaya is the balm to these city slickers’ souls.

You Rock Garden Helpers

Just go with the flow, said the stone to the river and I’ll wait right here.

Apart from growing plants, painted rocks are additional ornaments to brighten the garden.  Inspirational and spreading kind words written on the rocks such as joy, love, peace, live life pass it on, you rock, gratitude, etc. is becoming the norm.  I must say I enjoy reading them.

Humans, eat your heart out, says a senior cat.

During the pandemic, people are keener on having pets to keep them company.  This senior cat got it made having a human servant to push her carriage around.  I am happy for the cat yet feeling a tinge of jealousy at the same time.  Jealous because I was thinking of those seniors in retirement, care, or nursing houses where their children cannot even visit them due to the restrictions.

The Peace of Wild Things

Pay attention to what gives you joy. These gifts of joy are meant to help us during times of desolation.

On my birthday, as the celebrant, I pick where I want to go with my golden ladies.  We are golden in terms of age.  There are three of us.  Trust me, I always take them where the wild things are.  This time destination Garry Point.  It’s a 75-acre waterfront part with an open and rolling landscape that provides spectacular vistas across the Salish Sea and beyond Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.  Snow geese are ubiquitous in this area.  Needless to say, it was another day to remember with the golden girls as we make memories and not count years.

Blowing kisses to Uncle Josh

While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.

Two days after my birthday is another day to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos,  The Day of the Dead.  No better way to spend it in the boneyard on a beautiful autumn day to rattle and wake the skeletons, bring food on the sacred ground to feed the hungry ghost, and blow kisses to the faithfully departed.

It’s all about Grace.

If you think long enough about what you see in a cat, you begin to suppose you will understand everything, but its eyes tell you there is nothing to understand; there is only life.

Back at the beginning of the year, I adopted a cat named Grace.  I remember when she was a kitten.  When I used to stay overnight at her home, I wake up with Grace beside me.  She is so adorable, charming, and loving.  Lucy loves her.  How did she come into my life?  Well, because my younger cousin died.  She left behind three cats.  I don’t know who took the others.  With my cousin’s demise, Grace will always remind me of her.

What did I truly find out this year?  I found out that 2020 made me live with little of what I have.  I laugh at myself a lot.  There’s not a hell lot I can do.

Ending 2020 with a high note, I watched the Death of 2020.  This is the best monologue that I replayed over and over again.

With no cure for Covid in sight, life for millions has been reduced to a creepy and a seemingly an endless lockdowns.

I live on my own and after a while got so lonely.  I developed multiple personalities on purpose, so I can keep myself company.   But, then, of course, I had to try and keep two meters away from myself at all times.  Don’t know if you’ve ever tried doing that, but it’s a bloody nightmare.  So I started doing video calls to keep sociable.  I did so many, I sometimes glitch in real life now. Like, I just freeze now and then.

Wicked as what the brits would say.  I went to bed in stitches with a smile on my face.

Christmas Time

Stonehenge, UK.

Today is Winter Solstice marks the beginning of winter. It is the shortest day that celebrates light triumphing over darkness, and as the day ends, we prepare for a new year.

In 2018, we welcomed the winter solstice at Stonehenge, UK. We said goodbye to long days of darkness and rejoice in the coming of Christmas.

Lights of Hope

Let there be Light of Hope is the message of St. Paul’s Hospital Church. It’s the time of year that we remind the Star of Bethlehem shone brightly to light up the path for the three wise men. This year, the Star of Bethlehem will be visible on the horizon. Jupiter and Saturn will align in the night sky on Dec. 21, also referred to as the “Christmas Star” — marking the planets’ closest encounter in nearly 400 years. The two planets may appear as a bright light point that will be easily visible in the night sky.

Christmas Decorations

Every year, my sister sets up Christmas decorations for the children equipped with Santa’s workshop, electric train, angels, snow, christmas carols. Here’s little Jimmie is so proud to show off his twinkle toes.

Little born Henrik

To see a baby snuggly ensconced with a knitted baby blanket smiling in his sleep is the centerpiece that makes the Christmas atmosphere peaceful. But in reality, we were all gogo-gaga around Henrik, making noises to wake him so that we can all take turns to carry and play with him.

We are a family

Family: A crazy bunch of people who deeply care for each other, who live, laugh, forgive, dance and love together.

Mother

I think this is the last Christmas photo of my mother. Christmas for us is all about celebrating the birth of Infant Jesus.

Susan Hauck at the Church of Nativity, Holy Land

My sister is a Jesus freak in a good way. Here she is at the Church of Nativity carrying Infant Jesus. She managed to have her photo taken before the guardian of the church said to the crowd that the statue is off-limits to visitors. Too funny, that she was the only one who got away with holding the infant. When it comes to telling me the story, it’s really difficult for her to share stories of miracles about her experiences as a servant of Infant Jesus.

The center of the holiday season in my family is Christ-mas. It’s all about the birth of Jesus whether we lose faith, we always return to Him.

On Christmas, we gather around telling tales, jokes, memories, eating, drinking, singing. There is one great story of my sister Susan on lost and found.

One thing that I find miraculous is when I lost my mini statue in Mexico in 1997. While in Mexico, I went to church daily and prayed to Our Lady of Guadalupe that I want my Baby Jesus back. I was so heartbroken leaving Mexico without him. Many years passed, in 1999, my friend contacted me if I am interested in receiving bales of clothing coming from Montreal for free. My first thought was it would be great to sell them for fundraising to pay for Novena booklets’ production. So I accepted 19 bales of clothing. I discovered when I opened the bales, they were second-hand clothing and not brand new. I was disappointed, left the clothes for three months, and did not do anything about them. My daughter and her friends opened two bales just for fun to check them out. My daughter found some clothing for her and left it on the kitchen table. I moved the clothes to another area of the house, and something fell off. It was a mini statue of the Infant, and I just put it with the rest of my alter. This happened on Holy Thursday. On Easter Sunday morning, I was praying the rosary. When I reached the 4th mystery, The Presentation of Child Jesus at the Temple, I heard a voice: “I came back to you.” I ignored it and returned to my prayers. As I recited the 5th Joyful Mystery, “Finding Jesus in the Temple,” I heard the voice again: “I came back to you. Remember, you’ve lost me?” When I listened to this, I remembered the statue that fell off from the clothing, and I quickly went down to look at it. When I honestly look at the figure, my Baby Jesus I lost in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, three years ago. I checked all the clothing tags to appease me, and it said: “Made in Mexico.” With the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Baby Jesus came back to me.

Christmas 2019

From my family to yours, we wish everyone a Blessed Christmas. We made it this far!

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Write. Read. Wrong?

Write. That is a complete sentence — a full statement.

Having learned how to write, it becomes an obsession. I still prefer longhand writing using the old cursive loops. Sometimes, I can’t write fast enough as fast as I think. I can’t write them all. Just as well, maybe it’s not that important. Yet, writing to me is a compulsion. I am a compulsive obsessive writer. Sometimes, I write on white space using my breath and a window. It leaves no trail. Poof.

white space

There is a box full of spiral notebooks accumulation of my writings. I don’t read them. I write my thoughts to make room for more thoughts. I am not a writer. Nor do I want anyone to read my innermost thoughts. Hence, I started purging. Again.

Lucy obsess with my torn up writings.

If I had written negative about somebody else, and then they surprised me by behaving completely differently to how I had characterized them, I might say, “Well, they made me eat my words” (in hindsight, this may embarrass or even pleasantly surprise me. Should it’s embarrassing, I have to take back whatever negative remarks I made about them). Is it better to put my foot in my mouth or to eat my own words? Idiomatic.

Nowadays, most of my writings consist of groceries or a things-to-do list.

End result of purging my writings served on a plate.

Nothing has been written that hasn’t been said before. So I use some writings as a quote and unquote. Quotes are better.

I recently used a quote and posted it as a comment on Donald J. Trump’s Facebook page.

"The SCOTUS isn't insane enough to be on Trump's side. 
He will lose again. This makes me happy. 
Trump is a horrible human being."

Note that this was posted previous to the SCOTUS decision. I truly have no idea how the Rule of Law will swing nor how SCOTUS will respond.

Much to my surprise and amazement, this comment received more than 1.5K replies, all inflammatory directed at me. Aside from that, I received messages via Messenger. Some visited my personal public FB page, left a trail of laughing and angry emoji. Some were bold enough to write comments. The good thing is that FB is smart enough to filter their comments. All I have to do is delete them. Easy peasy.

Read! Doesn’t anyone know how to read at all? It’s a quote. Geez.

One exception. One person read. One person really knows how to read. And I quote:

*Daamnn its sad over 1000 people never heard of quotation marks…youre almost famous now lol”

Wow! Wow…wow…wow…you actually caught the quote. You are the only person that paid attention to what I posted. If this is a lottery, you won the jackpot. I responded.

“Ya…it looks like [they] were screwed tho.” He responded.

Write. Read. Wrong?

Dear Dad, Thank you for making us happy. Love, Lucy

My dad was a humble man. Well-travelled, well-loved, and simply well lived. Although his successes in life include travelling the world, finding love that lasted near 40 years, and having 6 kids, he never boasted about his life accomplishments. As I now rest in the wake of my dad’s death, I think about how he was a man of few words.

Lucy and Dad, Sweet Dreams

Often times, I find myself exhibiting my dad’s characteristics, especially when it comes to a shortage of words. In the days since my father’s passing, I have been hesitant to share this part of my life with others, even concealing it from some of my close friends. It wasn’t that the grief was too heavy to talk about, but rather that I couldn’t find the words to properly explain how I was feeling.

Lucy and Dad, Camping Days

As the youngest sibling, my relationship with my dad was different than the rest of my family’s. When my older siblings had all moved out, I remained home with my parents. On days when my mom would work, I’d be left home alone with dad. We’d both do our own things, never speaking much except for when we’d share a meal. Words between us were rarely ever needed. Instead, it was my father’s calming and gentle presence that always made me feel secure. It’s funny to think about how the most mundane memories are ones I cherish the most.

When the day came for us to say our final goodbyes, I was eager for words. I felt as though I needed to say the perfect things in order for him to forgive me for the years of lost communication. It wasn’t until after he passed that I understood how wrong that mindset was.

Dear Poteet

When I reflect on our relationship, it is not the conversations had that bring me peace. Instead, it was his presence. It was being at home and knowing I was safe there with him. It was knowing he was proud of me. It was knowing that he would support me in whatever I wanted to do. It was feeling his love instead of hearing it. It was knowing I would never be alone.

Thinking about adjusting to life without my dad is scary. For the first time in my life, my mom will go to work, and I will be home alone. Although physically, he won’t be there, I still know his gentle presence will always look over me. I know that even now after he’s gone, I will never be alone.

Rummaging through old mementoes of my parents and their shared love has inspired me. I came across one card my dad gave to my mom. She always said that he would never write her long or extravagant messages, but the short notes he did write held so much love. The one card I found read,

“Thanks for making me happy.”

Lucy and Dad, Grad Night

Lucy and Dad, Grad Night

I now know I inherited my father’s minimalistic love language. Knowing that, if I could say one more thing to my dad, it would simply be:

Dear dad, thanks for making us happy. Love, Lucy.

A Gift To Be Simple

Nature is winning as the world is at a standstill. To think that life is for the birds, we got it all wrong. Birds have a simplistic view of life. Bird brain? Small they may be, they can thrive all year long at the Holly Tree growing in front of my balcony. It was fascinating to observe this bird to prepare a nest to lay her eggs.  When the fledglings were mature enough, they took a leap of faith from the birdhouse, flew and never to be seen.

Nest material

Staying home, staying safe and distancing oneself can be an opportunity to rest, have a healthy self-reflection, pick up the pieces where I had left off when I became too busy making a living and no life to enjoy the beauty that surrounds me.

Note to myself: Do not watch the news. Do Not watch the news. DO NOT WATCH THE NEWS. When I do, my mind goes into a curve of never-ending spiral of negativity. Binge on Netflix instead.

Oh, I do know what people are currently preoccupied with, the ‘c’ word. Whenever I say this godforsaken word, the curl of my lip is indescribable.

The other day, I spoke to my Jewish friend inquiring how she is managing with her children. Our conversation turned to excitement about how we are going to celebrate the next few days. She and the children will celebrate Passover Seder with her mother and sister. While I will be observing the Triduum alone watching the live broadcasts of the mass either from Vancouver or the Vatican.

Holy week for me is not complete without viewing The Ten Commandments, an old-time movie favourite with Yul Bryner and Charlton Heston. According to the bible, ten plagues happened in Egypt. The motion picture showed at least four: turning the Nile River into blood, the storm of fire, darkness and death of the firstborn humans.

Egypt

Go down, Mosses. Way down in Egypt land. Tell ole Pharaoh, let my people go!

In the movie, they found a cure against the 10th plague, death of the firstborn, by sacrificing a lamb and smear the blood on the door of their house. The epidemic passed over houses with the lamb’s blood.

I wish it’s that simple with COVID-19.  There I said the ‘c’ word.

Crystal Clear

”No one is ever born into life alone. Everyone has shared the bond of family, at least at birth, and for many people, it is a bond that will follow them throughout life. For many people, it is the most essential bond of all.”

I was lucky enough to have in my life a family filled with love, compassion, acceptance, and tolerance. I am what I am as a direct result of a family life where belonging is imperative.  It is gratifying to my health and one of the reasons why I am still alive.  Without my family’s caring nature, I cannot conceive living alone.

Reflection 25 years ago

Reflection 25 years ago

When I was younger, I tagged along with my sister, her husband, and two boys.  Have a van, and we travelled anywhere. I was more than welcome to join since I can chop woods and carry water on top of being a babysitter. Stopping on a pristine crystal clear rocky river bed to cool off on the way to the campground is always part of the fun.

Reflection of my 17 year old nephew

Reflection of my 17-year-old nephew

I used to drive the children around and take them on a field trip.  Sometimes, I am the one that takes them out for the weekend of cub scouts or brings the boys along on a camping trip without the parents.  Yes, they trusted me with their children.  Trust is essential.

Years flew by, and I am the one being driven around by their fifth child. Making a short conversation so that I don’t distract him while driving, I asked: “Aren’t you much too young to drive as a sixteen-year-old?”  He quickly exclaimed: “I’m seventeen years old!”  “Oh, pardon me, young man,” I responded.  His father beside him was chuckling while he teaches his son to drive. No, I wasn’t scared of a young person driving me home.  I trust him.

Reflection of a one and half child

Reflection of a one and half-year-old child

Life is all about the play when I am with my sister’s grandson. At his age, everything is magical, even playing hide and seek behind a jug of water. ROAR, he screamed as he was trying to scare me with his dinosaur sound.

Through thick and thin, our family will pass the bonding to the younger generation. I am hopeful that we have shown them the importance of forming an intimate family unit as a cornerstone of our existence.

Pilgrim Progress: The Road I Travelled

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Little do I know that the road I travelled in 2017 will become the theme for unity in the Christian world this year. Malta. Photos taken were stored, collecting dust. Now, I am revisiting the pictures I’ve made and reflect … Continue reading

Living for something bigger than myself

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to live the words of the prophet: “I, the LORD, have called you…I have grasped you by the hand…I formed you…and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations” (Isaiah 42:6)

 

via A view from the kitchen window

“How long should an engagement last?”

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Ask me a question, and I will answer accordingly. In social media, Aleteia started its post by raising this question: “How long should an engagement last?” It sounds rhetoric to me. I am more interested in the question rather than … Continue reading

“I asked my reflection, How did you get there?”

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“The Gift-Wrap & The Jewel” by Wanda B. Goines

I looked in the mirror and what did I see,
but a little old lady peering back at me
With bags and sags and wrinkles and wispy white hair,
and I asked my reflection,
How did you get there?”

You once were straight and vigorous and now you’re stooped and weak,
when I tried so hard to keep you from becoming an antique.

My reflection’s eyes twinkled as she solemnly replied,
you’re looking at the gift wrap and not the jewel inside
A living gem and precious, of unimagined worth
Unique and true, the real you, the only you on earth.

The years that spoil your gift-wrap with other things more cruel,
should purify and strengthen, and polish up that jewel.

So focus your attention on the inside, not the out
On being kinder, wiser, more content and more devout
Then, when your gift-wrap’s stripped away your jewel will be set free,
to radiate God’s glory throughout eternity.

 

Original news you may read here.

The nature of Emerald Isle

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“It’s the one place on earth heaven had kissed with melody, mirth, and meadow and mist.  ~ Irish Proverb.” Never have I seen so many shades of green in this rolling hills of Dingle Peninsula. According to the song Johnny … Continue reading

Pilgrim Progress

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Here I am, another Sunday, another sacred space of faith and spiritual journey, more memories and reflections. There are times I don’t want to understand the course of our actions that affect other people similar to a “butterfly effect.” Still, … Continue reading

The Journey and the Dream still continues…

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Twenty years ago, I made the first journey to Assisi on my own. I was young, healthy and carefree imitating the life of St. Francis, poor in spirit. Alone I was, I met a lot of strangers along the road. … Continue reading

Reaping the rewards

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  “Blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed” – John 20:29 It is with his scientific mind that he has proven black holes, gravity, and wrote the book a Brief History of Time, Steven Hawkings absolute cannot reason … Continue reading

Approaching Good Choices

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  Decision making is challenging because sometimes we have no idea the impact of what we have decided. Just thinking about what to choose to wear is a grueling daily event. Some outfit brings happiness, others blah. What made us … Continue reading

What a day. Snow in Vancouver.

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    It hardly snows in Vancouver. Winter is not winter, without snow. Last night it snowed. Calvin:   Wow, it really snowed last night! Isn’t it wonderful? Hobbes: Everything familiar has disappeared! The world looks brand-new! Calvin:   A new year … … Continue reading

What’s Next?

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The past is seeping into my thoughts. It happened long time ago. Drawn to the memories like a bee attracted to a flower. The bee couldn’t help it. Who is she? Only a monk can answer that. She lived with the monks … Continue reading

Fill in with your imagination

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There is place for me in this historical tapestry, in the upper right corner, just above the Beatles. And so I write words, words that I have heard, a jumble of notes, these words are not mine. And so it … Continue reading

Filling the hole in our heart.

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They say dogs love you, cats own you. Maybe so. Cats are just as loving as dogs. They are love, oozing with so much love to give and receive. With their love, we become captives. I had two cats, Maurice … Continue reading

As far as eyes could see, yet always drawn nearer.

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There is something about looking at the vastness of water on earth. It has a mesmerizing effect between heaven and water. Hypnotic. Walking on the beach or sailing around, looking at the horizon as far as eyes could see, there … Continue reading

Last Impression

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The Empty Chair spoken by Tyrone Siglos for Josh Siglos So strange to hear this spoken at the church service tonight. Beside my bed is an empty chair. Lucy my cat and I were in bed, suddenly something fell from the … Continue reading

Wandering Wonders

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Somewhere in Canada, I was given four glorious days to spend time at Victoria, BC. It was a gift for being part of belonging in a delegation to make a better British Columbia for the working class. The timing was … Continue reading

Good vs. evil: The answer is found in Easter itself

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It’s God’s gift that enables peace. The supernatural message of Easter is that Jesus overcomes death, and when people believe that and act upon it, it changes the headlines. Spiritual beliefs change how people respond to evil. The bloody cross … Continue reading

Life is full of surprises

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Who would know where life would take you. We make plans, we check it twice, we cross our t’s and dot our i’s, we invest all our energy and yet, we could never be sure. My mother said many times … Continue reading