Monday, April 30, 2007

Miss Outdoorsy

I am not a girl who loves to hike, jog, or play the rugged life for that matter. I would be the first one to object to a camping trip. If argued into it, I might think over it twice or maybe thrice. But most likely, I’d pass up altogether. Call me vain and squeamish, but I just don’t think I’m cut up for rough pursuits such as long hikes, camping, mountain climbing, etc. I am not even enticed to try white water rafting.

I enjoy nature but not too much I wanna live for it. I admire people who take camping in the woods seriously, or those who jog even in the dead of winter. What I like best about nature is the magnificent scenery. And I do enjoy little walks in the park, and picnics in the park, or just plainly hanging out watching the world go by.

Last Saturday afternoon, I went with the hubby for a run in the park adjacent to the building where we live. It was a beautiful day, the sun was out and there was a gentle breeze. The hubby was itching to start his exercise, his get-an-active-lifestyle-oath. So we went through the back parking lot into the wooded trail along the creek, past the wooden little bridge into the park. We ran (hubby) and walked (me) two rounds around the park. The grasses and trees in the park are in its full spring glory that day, so it was a wonderful sight. Very relaxing. It felt good, I discovered. I might go with him the next time he goes for a run/walk.

Sunday afternoon was also spent outdoors. We took the mother in law to the Arlington National Cemetery. The weather was a bit warm, but just enough to enjoy the leisurely walks around the place. We visited the Kennedy gravesite, and then to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where we witnessed a ceremonial laying of the wreath and the notable ceremonial changing of the guards. The last time the hubby and I witnessed the ceremony was on a rather cold November day last year. Taps was played on bugle (trumpet) at the wreath ceremony. I think taps is one of the two most moving musical piece of all times. The other one, in my opinion, is the wedding march. The two are completely in contrast (taps convey “end”, while the wedding march denotes “beginning”), however, they connect in the manner of stirring the emotions.

Maybe I shall have more luck being Miss Outdoorsy this summer.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Harpers Ferry

Ah, glorious, glorious sun! The sun shone brightly last Saturday for the first time in months and the temperature shot up to a divine 70 degrees. To think that only a week before, I was shivering in my toes. Suddenly I was alive and perky! No wonder the Incas worship the sun. It gives life, it makes people happy.

And so last weekend, we went on a real excursion to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Harpers Ferry is a little, old historic town where three states meet- West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland. And it is also the location where two famous rivers converge- the Shenandoah and the Potomac. The tiny, tiny town is rich is Civil War history. So little was the town that you can tour it in half a day. But no doubt about it, Harpers Ferry is a picturesque town. To walk in its cobblestone streets and alleys was amazing. It has few restaurants, some little museums, a number of souvenir shops and various Civil War sites and memorials. It also has a history dating back 1747. And Lewis and Clark replenished their supplies at Harpers Ferry back in 1803. Being nestled in a ravine, and with its old world buildings, the town exuded charm and mystery.

Harpers Ferry is only an hour and twenty-one minutes away from where we live. By the time we got there at half past ten o’clock, the sun was shining splendidly and visitors start trickling in. We got a nice parking by vintage-looking train station. It’s amazingly beautiful to watch a train go by. I am talking about the old trains which carry supplies, mails, etc. AmTrak passes by Harpers Ferry, too. As outdated as it may look, but people still has wonder about a train coming. When the train siren sounded somewhere, people really liven up and wait for its arrival, and then watch the train roll by, leaving an air of amazement in its trail.

We had lunch at the Armory Pub. I had wanted to dine al fresco, all getting excited with the restaurant’s deck with a good view of the train tunnel and the two rivers. But the hubby said it’s out of the question since bees were hovering above. So we ate inside its all-wood second-floor dining hall. I had the tuna melt sandwich, the hubby had the Philly cheese steak melt, and the mother-in-law had the crab cake sandwich, which she declared as the best meal she has ever had so far in the US. The food was good, however, the strangest thing was we were charged 25cents for our glass of water. First time I encountered such a preposterous thing.

We explored the quaint, narrow streets of the lower town, the railroad trestle, climbed the stone steps up the hill to the St. Peter’s Catholic Church and the St. John’s Church ruins. It has a great view of the lower town and the two rivers. We trekked in the footbridge to the C&O Canal, and watched an AmTrak glide past us and into the tunnel. In the Arsenal Square stood John Brown’s fort- a significant Civil War relic. We trod the pebble path to the Point, a lookout point for the converging two rivers. The sun was high and ablaze that my nape, neck and the top of my shoulders got burnt. But what the heck, I’ve been covered up for far too long I’m proud I got mildly toasted!

We spent the last 15 minutes of our visit at Harpers Ferry sitting on a bench outside the dark brick-red color of the Waiting Room at the railroad station, eating ice cream cones. We were hoping to catch another train and see what it’s like. But the train never came and it was time to leave. Maybe next time.

We drove for another 14 minutes to Charles Town, West Virginia, to the Charles Town Races and Slots. It was close to 4 pm when we got there, and the 4th level parking was practically deserted. I was excited to go to the casino. But I never got to try the slots and missed my chances of winning thousands of dollars (hehe) because the security adamantly refused to let me in. They wanted my ID. I didn’t bring any. I was more worried about the thong sandals I was wearing and totally obliterated the matter of bringing any form of identification. The whole thing- is worthy of another blog entry.

It still was, a glorious, happy, toasty, merry Saturday.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Favorite Quote of the Day

"Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but only the pig likes it"

I came across this smart-ass quip online today, and it gives me the kicks since no matter what we say or think, it’s so true it’s funny!

It’s a pleasant distraction because of late, it has been dreary, moody and just plain bonkers. The weather sucks, not all things happen my way, stress can be excruciating. All I need is something to kick me out of glumness and stimulate my rather cluttered temperament right now. And what I need is a clever quote like that!

And the naked truth of the quote is diabolically cruel and wicked. But it makes us think. Hard. Why not? You choose your battles. If any loathsome character irks you, you just don’t jump at it and start a scuffle. It’s because loathsome characters intend to make your life detestable and miserable. And they get the satisfaction out of your misery. Rule no.1- never ever give them that satisfaction. As they say, no one can really hurt you unless you let them.

Life is too short to bother dueling off with pigs. There are many faces of pigs in this world – 1) one who unabashedly criticizes you in front of people; 2) one who thinks and makes you feel you’re beneath him; 3) one who is so inconsiderate he thinks he owns the world; 4) one who is so wasteful and selfish they never care about starving people in the world; 5) one who cheats; 6) one who constantly finds fault in everything you do; 7) one who thinks he’s the single most important person in this part of the world. And many other pig characters you can think about. Possibly, they’re clueless about their trashiness. But that makes them all the more dislikable.

It is also an atrocity to be thinking too much about these characters. That is why, you have to follow just the simple rules: 1) the quote above; 2) don’t waste your precious time fraternizing with people who pig it.

Have a happy-hippo life!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Knut and Leoooo

They're two of the cutest things this month! Well, next to my own knut at home, of course (wink, wink). Please READ. And this one, too.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

It’s Good Friday today, and we’re still at work and worse…. we’re having pork loin for lunch. We’re bad, baaad Catholics. In strict traditional Catholic terms, I ought to be damned for not observing this day in silence and fasting.

Why is it called “Good” Friday? English is, together with Dutch, one of the few languages that call Good Friday 'good'. While one could say that Good Friday is the saddest day of the year for Christians, the Church uses the word 'Good' to show that Christ has died to liberate everyone from sin and that suffering and death are not pointless.

Other languages use other names for this day.

In Israel, Good Friday is known as "Big Friday." In Germany it is "Sad Friday". In Malta, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria, Republic of Macedonia (and Eastern Orthodox Church in general) the day is called “Great Friday”.

In Latin America, Spain, France, Italy and Portugal the day is called "Holy Friday"; in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Faroe Islands and Iceland it is "Long Friday".

What I remember most of the Semana Santa back home are the stifling heat, semi-deserted roads and churches bustling with activity. And out of town trips and reunions, of course. Because Holy Week unofficially marks the start of the summer season. It’s a big, big holiday I love to “love and hate” at the same time. Love it, because of the long holidays, and hate it because it seems activities are limited. Well, except for that one Holy Week spent with friends in Camiguin Island, where activities were far from being “limited” and conducts far from being called “silent” and “restrained”. But it was a good holiday.

The Holy week in my mind is always linked to harsh sun, hum of church rituals, TV and radio stations on furlough, reconnecting with family and old friends. And sacrifices, little self-renunciation in our own personal way.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

worrywart VS. neurotic

worrywart- n. One who worries excessively and needlessly.

neurotic- n. A person suffering from a neurosis. A person prone to excessive anxiety and
emotional upset.

neurosis- n. a functional disorder in which feelings of anxiety, obsessional
thoughts, compulsive acts, and physical complaints without objective
evidence of disease, in various degrees and patterns.

Since neurosis is no longer in scientific use, I’d just call myself… a worrywart. Besides, neurotic is a bit tad grim.

I am just feeling a little antsy today. I am just a girl who needs sesame bagels and cream cheese…..

Monday, April 02, 2007

back to Pooh corner

After a three-day hiatus from work, and then a lazy two-day weekend, I am almost reluctant to get up this morning to go back to work- to mounting paperwork, amassed voicemails and horde of emails. But when I got to my tiny, corner office at half past eight today, I was instantly relieved to be in this safe, quiet haven.

I, luckily, am lying low in a corner office where only a few people ever bother to venture- which is the nicest thing since I don’t ever get disturbed. Sometimes, I could stay here in my office working all morning and all afternoon without being interrupted. I just hear muted conversations from adjacent offices, distant phone rings, and the oh-so wonderful silence. The world has gone mad, indeed, because the old me who thrived on endless chatter now glorify noiselessness. Or perhaps, I have just gotten old.

Last week, we made a quick trip to New York City to show my visiting mother in law around. The noise, fast and nonstop activity was overwhelming a bit. My mother in law loved it. She has complained to us that our place is too deafeningly quiet, too boring. But the hubby and I have grown devoted to a quiet, peaceful life.

We took her to the usual touristy spots in New York- Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Fifth Avenue, Central Park, Empire State Building, Liberty Island, Chinatown, etc. It would’ve way more fun if not for the dreadful cold and windy weather. My two previous trips to New York, weather-wise, were more desirable. Last year, the hubby and I had a great time with my best friend and her family when they visited from Australia.

The brighter aspect in the trip were my two rewards that day- a bottle of perfume and a red tote- a guaranteed mark to make any (shivery) woman happy!

So now I’m back here to my warm, quiet, obscure hole. I guess occasional chaos and fast pace would be good for the body and soul. It keeps the balance mentally and physically. I would love to visit noisy places from time to time, but right now, this hushed, unruffled surroundings seem as beautiful as ever…