And then it starts..

A whole work-week finally done. What did I accomplish? A lot actually. And the thing is, no matter how much I love my job or how interesting it is, I’ve never really blogged about it. It’s enough that after I clock out (while actually still doing snippets of work after work, on the weekends, on the bus, on my vacation…) there is little enough (just in my mind I believe) time or energy for personal stuff which is funny and ironical because the stuff I like to do after work is the same thing I do for work (insert that laughing emoji with tears).

But this week I managed to maintain a decent work-out routine. It helped I think that I got new shoes to motivate me (insert that laughing emoji again with the tears.)

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I also got my new glasses and at the bus stop today I struggled juggling the damned things- take out the reading ones to read texts; put it back and put on the distance ones to check the bus time-table; put everything away and take out the sunnies because the bus is coming.

After having vowed never to buy Wayfarers again after having lost my fifth pair, I bought a new one (OMFG, insert that laughing emoji again with the tears ) because they were 60% off. Who can resist that tell me?

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Plum Cake

I’m not much of a fruit-person really but it’s hard to ignore fruit when they’re growing everywhere; and Kiwis don’t generally care if their yard is carpeted with fallen fruit just rotting away. So what to do with a bagful of plums from Jong’s garden and from the neighbours at Wattle Downs? Make a plum cake.

This recipe- and there are a million recipes for this cake- is from Chelsea Sugar’s Recipe Club Bake-Off winner and uses almond meal which I think gives this cake (and fig cake which I’ve done before) a lighter, airier texture which I like.

  • Ingredients:
    10 dark red plums
    3 Tbsp white Sugar
    300g butter
    1½ cups white Sugar (I only used 3/4 cup)
    3 eggs
    Zest of 1 orange (I didn’t have an orange so didn’t include this)
    1 tsp vanilla essence
    ½ cup milk
    1½ cups flour
    1 cup ground almonds
    1 tsp baking powder
    Icing Sugar for sprinkling

  • Method

    Preheat oven 180°C and grease a 26cm tin. Cut plums, discard stones and put into a bowl with 3 Tbsp sugar. Set aside.

    Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs one at a time and then mix in zest and vanilla. Stir in milk, flour, almonds and baking powder.

    Spread into prepared tin and then place plums over the top. Bake for 1 hour.
    Sprinkle icing sugar on top when cool

The eyes are the window to your (body)

I had my yearly eye-test today which is sort of confusing because it’s supposed to be every two years, but I’ve been bombarded the last couple of weeks with reminders by OPSM, the eye-glass retailer that I’ve been going to since I started wearing prescription readers, to get one and so I did.

I’ve been obsessed with getting a pair of Tom Ford readers as well and hemmed and hawed all through-out the holiday season about getting one, but the prices never really got any lower (starts at $380). And because OPSM is quite expensive, I wasn’t about to spend nearly a thousand dollars bringing in a brand they don’t carry (which they should because they carry everything else like Prada, Armani, D&G etc) on top of putting new prescription lenses on them.

But I forgot all about the Tom Fords when I went into an OPSM shop and saw the lighter RX series of prescription frames by Ray-ban and of course I just had to get a new pair; I picked this one:

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I got bi-focals last year but in that space of time, my general vision has deteriorated a bit. Below is how I see things; left is without glasses on and right, with glasses. It’s even gotten to a point where I bump into door-frames, protruding open shelves, table edges and basically everything at the periphery of my unaided vision.

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The good thing about eye-exams is that they can also reveal whether you’re sick of something else like glaucoma, diabetes, cataracts etc. I had none of those thank God, but my cholesterol levels needed to be checked because the eyes can show cholesterol deposits as well and surprise, I have quite a few.

But that’s life- there’s nothing you can do with normal ageing and its effects, but you can manage what you eat.

Media Noche 2018

The theme for this year (and the new one) is: less carbs. Well, I’ve been doing this for decades really but I guess it hits home when you try it and seeing for yourself how dramatic the results can be as Jong has found out. We had grilled lamb, pork and chicken, a salad, shrimps. For desert, Doyet baked a cassava cake- we tried to look up Erwan Heussaff’s recipe- but with half the sugar. Over-all, the meal was satisfying and the clean-up, a breeze. Less is definitely more.

New Year's Eve 2018

The good thing about celebrating the New Year is that it’s not burdened by sentiment- that’s reserved for Christmas. You start afresh. There’s promise of a new beginning (whether you believe in that or not). The day literally transitions from an old day to a new one- and so can you.

The worst thing you can do is to mentally believe that nothing has changed.

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Ten very Eddie Garcia Things

I like Eddie Garcia. First thing, he looks like dad. My dad was like him in so many ways except for one thing- a distrust of our very mortal bodies. This was one man who was incredibly fit and incredibly conscious of his health. If my dad had been more of the same, he would most likely be still alive today.

About fifteen years ago, I read an article about this and how he supposedly takes more than a dozen vitamins and supplements a day. I’ve done the same thing since then and never questioned the cost or the efficacy because if there’s ever a guarantee for things whose outcomes are not certain, it’s consistency.

Be consistent on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and the results would be optimal; be consistent in eating crap and sitting on your ass the whole day and well, you know how that story turns out…

Eddie Garcia is 89 years old. That's almost nine decades (and just 11 years short of 100) on this God's green earth, and, as we found out during our candid interview with the legendary actor, he's made sure to lead a disciplined but colorful life.
  1. What you could do today, you should do now so you could do something else tomorrow

  2. Tiime and discipline are important

  3. On directing and editing: be definitive on what you want

  4. Passion is important. if you can’t find passion in your job, find something else (for nearly 70 years I continuously did movies because it was a job i really liked)

  5. Money earned but not spent is really not your money

  6. The reason you earn is because you want to spend it

  7. Women should be put on a pedestal (Ryan: and pray that they’re worth it)

  8. Cheating (when you’re in a relationship) is wasting time

  9. Only set goals that are realistically achievable

  10. On legacies: if you’re dead, you’re dead. Who cares if nobody remembers you?

I’ve also done an Eddie Garcia on skin-care   because what’s the point of living up to a very old age but look like you’re already dead and decomposing??? Again, it’s consistency; just as I never miss taking my medications, I never miss slathering something on my face before I go to bed or before I go out. Brands change, but at this point, I always have something for my eyes; for night, I have a serum, a moisturiser and a facial oil; for day, I have another serum specific for day and a sun-screen with an SPF of 50.

I’ve also done an Eddie Garcia on skin-care because what’s the point of living up to a very old age but look like you’re already dead and decomposing??? Again, it’s consistency; just as I never miss taking my medications, I never miss slathering something on my face before I go to bed or before I go out. Brands change, but at this point, I always have something for my eyes; for night, I have a serum, a moisturiser and a facial oil; for day, I have another serum specific for day and a sun-screen with an SPF of 50.

Noche Buena 2018

I should be grateful and not moaning about the fact that my camera was not getting the shots I pictured in my head. My go-to answer is always- buy another one..but I won’t. Christmas done, and for New Year and my main resolution- be smarter; work and study harder. Much as I’d like to believe I’m already doing that, I’m actually not. I could do so much more- we can be so much more.

Currently Reading: Jesus' Son and a missing (American) president

Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson is as far removed from the Christian tradition as anything. It’s a collection of short-stories linked by a troubled narrator who is an addict. In one story, the narrator hitches a ride in a car he somehow knew before-hand was going to crash- supernatural prescience? Too much drugs?

There was a time in the 90s and all the way to the early 2000s when all I looked forward to on Christmas eve was to drink alcohol at friend’s houses. I started on my street and finished off at my best friend Eric’s before staggering back home and putting out the food 30 minutes before mid-night. Things changed when we all became adults. My parents had always been a team- left to their own devices, they would have coped happily whispering sweet-nothings to each other without having to worry about keeping up tradition for their adult children. Alcohol and the company of friends made the night more bearable.

But things swung back to how they were when the kids started to come- there was Matt and several years of Christmases when all the gifts under the tree were his; then Yanna but all too briefly because Al & Binky already lived abroad; then Toni and Jay’s kids.

Christmas is really about the children, no doubt about it. When Chini grows up, I think finally, I can have that Christmas I’ve always only recently, been thinking of having- to be alone, somewhere cold (or hot it wouldn't really matter), happily coping with just memories, and drinking tons of alcohol because this time, I’m actually happy at the thought that the holidays- unburdened by glossy memories of the past- is finally mine and mine alone..(does this make sense?).

THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING , by Bill Clinton and James Patterson. I remember one Christmas break when I read The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy and it affected me so deeply that I was in some weird funk for weeks. So never again, and this time, something you’d read with a popcorn in hand. I think this is the first novel of James Patterson’s that I’ve read- everything else I’ve probably watched as a movie. This is the kind of fiction that has brought this man over $750 million.

THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson. I remember one Christmas break when I read The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy and it affected me so deeply that I was in some weird funk for weeks. So never again, and this time, something you’d read with a popcorn in hand. I think this is the first novel of James Patterson’s that I’ve read- everything else I’ve probably watched as a movie. This is the kind of fiction that has brought this man over $750 million.

The best eats of 2018

All the best meals and food items for 2018 in photos because why not- you’re a compulsive photo-taker of your food since 2003!

It's Christmas: what did you give yourself?

How can you be generous to other people when you can’t be generous to yourself? I’m still mulling over getting a pair of Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35 Shield Water-Repellent running shoes but then who knows?

Sometimes, I just want to disappear into the woodwork

We were on one of our usual road-trips for work and we stopped by this town called Woodville. Now I’ve lived in New Zealand for nearly a decade but my perception of life is still distinctly different; ‘just get on with it’ does not always cut it, like I will not go to a wedding in jeans and a short-sleeved shirt. And so a town derided as being hicksville is for me, actually charming and serene; of week-day afternoons walking down the empty main town-centre and stopping by at the cafe for coffee. I wouldn’t mind living in hicksville, in a ‘bucolic’ hovel filled with books (or an iPad filled with books), with a comfy bed, and an over-grown garden. In reality however, I cannot account for how I’ll survive- what to do for a job (maybe rely on the benefit system?) to pay for Internet (not sure if Woodville has fibre connection), for proper heating in winter and for food because I honestly have no idea on how to create and sustain a garden.

But that is the clear picture in my head coupled with a sense of relief that I probably wouldn’t have to worry about ‘just getting it on’ with what to wear to a wedding; I would have no need for fancy clothes nor score invites to weddings. I would just be this old Asian person shuffling about town with the same regularity as everything else.

Does that sound sad? I actually think of it as a possibility, an outcome and I neither fear nor dread it.

It could be worse- like a future you never anticipated and in which you’re too old and too fragile to cope with even the simplest things.

Why not leave it at that?

I have been very busy which I guess, is a good enough excuse to miss blogging. At some point I begin to question the whole point of this, and then ultimately, to question every other thing that I do that is not about work, or living (like eating properly, exercising, taking your meds, putting on moisturiser followed by a serum and then another moisturiser). I am after all, my work and I think, isn't that enough? It puts food on my table (good food), guarantees some security in my old age, makes me smug in the belief that I am actually happy.

So why don't I just leave it at that?

The Obsession

Someone told me that a long road trip would do wonders for my creativity, that it would stir up my imagination, make me want to write again and that this time, something would come out of it. Turned out they were right. My imagination was stirred up. I wanted to create something, but it wasn't stories- I wanted to take pictures and make videos.

Now, I've been taking photos the moment I had a mobile camera. I have photos on the cloud that pre-date Apple's iCloud. Sixty-percent of the storage on all my devices is images. There is a probably an image of something or someone every other day of my life since 2006. I barely remember stuff, but I can scroll back in time and see what I had done, what I had felt, eaten and worn. It makes sense to take pictures and make videos but what doesn't make sense is how shallow my understanding of it all is and how superficial. I take pretty pictures but have no understanding of how I do it.

I remember one summer (I think) when my dad brought home the first professional camera he's had since he was at university studying Fine Arts. It was a manual Canon, the model of which I can no longer remember. He took photos of all of us- of my mother posed touching flowers in the garden; of my sisters in half-profile, with those weird bowl-cut bangs of the 80s; of me super up-close, pupils half-way up as if I was rolling them; and the best photo of all, of my brother Jay with his famed curls that everyone envied and with our mother's beautiful, placid face.

But this was the thing- half the photos were bad. The one of my mothers' touching the flowers and even the close-up were under-exposed. There was a photo of my dad from the shoulders up taken as if someone had bent at the knees, camera tilted awkwardly downwards (was it my mother who took this with instructions from my dad? Was there a tripod I couldn't remember?) I would've used a different lens to capture a wider angle, or I would simply take the photo face on perpendicular to the subject.

And I know this now because since the trip, I've been studying- something which I HAD NEVER DONE. My dad did photography as well as painting when he was younger and in the space of time between that and the summer he got the camera, a lot of things had changed. I don't know why he had that idea to get the camera and do a leisurely shoot. Was it to take the photos as references to future paintings? Was it to update himself on a hobby/art that he used to do? Whatever the reason, that was the last and only time. The camera was put away in his closet and we would on occasion, try it out after saving enough money to buy film and to have it developed (we had this 'photo-shoot' once with my sisters where they put on make-up and wore black satin dresses and the whole mess turned out blurry and over-exposed, the face foundation coming off as if they fell face first, onto a plate of flour).

I just feel that most of the time, we do things where we just coast along, and I have a long list of these- but after the trip I felt like this is one thing I am simply no longer taking for granted. I don't want to look back and regret having just done things casually and in the same vain of what Leila and I have to label as impeccant mediocrity.

"Ang gand, pwede na" no longer cuts it.