A hodge-podge of thoughts

It’s been an easy few weeks for the most part — restful yet productive still, and peppered with enough opportunities for me to not only catch up on my reading but also watch some of the shows I love to download from iTunes. I’ve been going back and forth near places and I use the time on the plane to either sleep or read and watch some more. Or sometimes I just stare out into the clouds, resting my mind, and I think of the most wonderful ideas, things that I can do or want to do, that get me so excited I scramble to get my Moleskine and write it down lest I forget. Which reminds me, I need another one. I am down to my last few pages and it really does look like a notebook that went through the year with me.

Juliana is back to school and comes home with math homework that makes me nervous. They are into fractions now, and together we try to figure out missing numerators and denominators. Like life, sometimes the answers come easy, other times flat-out not. That is just the way it is.

I’ve gone through closets and cabinets again, giving a lot of them away, and I feel lighter. I will not be surprised if new stuff almost magically appears at my doorstep soon. It always happens; there is no science to it. When I give, somehow I always receive and often in a measure even greater than what I had to part with.

Ben, wonderful and thoughtful person that he is, will suddenly send me a bagful of clothes for no reason at all. Once I went through my stash of makeup and shared them with my cousins and a few days after Kris came back from a trip with a package full of makeup for me, in the pinks I wanted no less. I shared this quiet observation with a friend of mine, of always receiving after giving and how it has happened too often for it to be a mere coincidence and she said I should try to give away a vehicle and together we will wait and see if I get something like that also for no reason at all. That made us laugh. I don’t think I will go that far.

I have a hodge-podge of thoughts and things that have made me happy lately and I want to share them with you,

1. Fried rice. I’ve always wondered why fried rice in Hong Kong tastes so good, how buhaghag it is and after so many years I finally know why. I picked up a copy of the local paper on a recent trip and there was a little feature about fried rice and how to make it taste perfect each time. Apparently, the not-so-secret secret is use leftover rice that has been chilled in the refrigerator. And do not complicate it by adding too many things, just keep it simple and it will be perfect just like that.

2. Jojoen. It is this really delicious restaurant, a little pocket tucked in a corner across the Pan Pacific Hotel in Manila. I remember braving the flooded streets once at around midnight with Richard and Juliana because we were craving their food. You cook the thin slices of Wagyu beef on a grill that has been tucked in the middle of the table and you dip the meat in some special sauce that I know I will never be able to mimic in the kitchen at home. Then you eat it unapologetically with very good steamed white rice. It is wonderful.

3. Diane Von Furstenberg, A Signature Life. I love her clothes so much, even those that go beyond the famous wrap dress, and while I was in the DVF shop I saw this book that she wrote, which is an autobiography of sorts. She somehow always finds her way into my closet I figured I might as well get to know her more. It makes for a breezy and inspiring read, the latter mainly because to get to where she is right now she basically just believed in her product, treated people right, worked hard, and trusted her instincts. And she is so honest.

4. Sugar cane juice. I always have a glass of fresh sugarcane juice with my lunch. Daddy came home from Robinsons with bottles of it that we store in the freezer (it keeps for two weeks). It is a refreshing treat. I have to ask him where exactly in Robinsons mall does he get it. It feels like such a treat.

5. Bubble tea. Over at Wilson Street, it is our newest happy place. The bright interiors make for a wholesome ambience and bring back memories of childhood and milkshakes. I love their Royal Milk Tea and the Taro Milk Tea. You can take it cold but I like mine hot.

6. Songdo. This is a Korean restaurant up a flight of stairs in Julia Vargas, in that area where Strumm’s and Racks used to be. I love how a Korean meal has so many little plates with so many condiments, not all of which I recognize but love anyway. When I go there I do not question anything; I simply eat what is before me and come out all the happier for it. I love to go there when I am really hungry.

7. Play paint for use on bathroom tiles. We bought in three colors — red, yellow and blue — because Juliana and I love doodling with soap when we take baths together but now it has gone way beyond that. Juliana poses a question on the bathroom wall, her daddy answers it, and then I join in when I see it and it has been for the past few months this fun, sweet, message board that always makes us smile. The power of words and how beautiful they are to a life when they all come together.

8. Newspapers. Mommy was right. The best way to clean mirrors is really by using newspapers. You get them sparkling, squeaky clean with no streaks at all.

9. Postcards. How come no one ever sends postcards anymore? I remember the first postcard I ever got from a guy. It was from someone I met one summer who liked me and I sort of liked back also but not in an always and everyday kind of way. But when he went to a far away place after that he sent me a few postcards and I’d turn it over and over because it all seemed so magical to me. How he remembered me and how that little piece of hard paper did not get lost in the sea of mail the world has to actually find its way to me in an address that simply said Bonifacio St., Ormoc City. My dad’s sister, Tita Inday, passed on to me two postcards she had kept sent by my dad to his two younger brothers on his first visit to Europe. The date said 1958 in my dad’s loopy and crooked handwriting. It is endearing and I framed each one in glass so I see both sides and they now hang in our kitchen wall together with a cluster of framed paintings and drawings. I wish people still sent each other postcards nowadays, even if they are just in another province or town, even just to say hello.

10. Valiant. I am glad my work takes me to Ormoc often because then I get to spend time with my family there and especially with my sister’s little boy, all of one year and a few months old, who is round and plump and shiny and reminds me of bread dough. When he starts giggling and cooing and babbling words he has made up it is so hard to walk out the door. I can spend the entire day just playing with him, bundle of joy that he is.

11. Calligraphy and crochet. These are two things I know I can be really good at if I just had time to learn it thoroughly. They make for happy entries in my wish list and one day I just know I will find time to do it.

12. Ridge Forrester. After Grandizer of my childhood, Ridge Forrester of The Bold and the Beautiful was the first guy I wanted to marry. I remember his square jaw and easy grace and oh, he was always such a manly man. I wonder how old he is now. I’m sure he still looks good, perhaps better than he ever did. Why don’t they show The Bold and the Beautiful anymore? I watched that religiously every afternoon for years during my college days!


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