Friday, January 30, 2009

The Beauty of Poems

I love reading poems. It definitely speaks a lot of one’s personality, struggle and creativity. To me, poems are subtle sermons or exposing oneself hoping somebody can strip them off from the thick covering of their choice of words.

I used to love Robert Frost’s poems coz he uses simple and basic words but as I grow older, I came to appreciate deeper thoughts. One of my favorite is Kahlil Gibran. I have been fascinated by his writings and poems, very profound. I could imagine how hard his childhood was- being alone without anybody to share such gift. I think the most awful poem I had read were poems from Jimmy Carter for his wife, Rose when he was in the Navy. He shared those poems in one of his books, Living Faith. It was just funny reading those poems, very straight forward just like reading a whole paragraph.

I have been posting every once in a while some of Kahlil Gibran’s poems. Here’s more:

My soul preached to me and said, "Do not be delighted because of praise, and do not be distressed because of blame."

Ere my soul counseled me, I doubted the worth of my work. Now I realize that the trees blossom in Spring and bear fruit in Summer without seeking praise; and they drop their leaves in Autumn and become naked in Winter without fearing blame.
My soul preached to me and showed me that I am neither more than the pygmy, nor less than the giant.

Ere my soul preached to me, I looked upon humanity as two men: one weak, whom I pitied, and the other strong, whom I followed or resisted in defiance.
But now I have learned that I was as both are and made from the same elements. My origin is their origin, my conscience is their conscience, my contention is their contention, and my pilgrimage is their pilgrimage.
If they sin, I am also a sinner. If they do well, I take pride in their well-doing. If they rise, I rise with them. If they stay inert, I share their slothfulness.

My soul spoke to me and said, "The lantern which you carry is not yours, and the song that you sing was not composed within your heart, for even if you bear the light, you are not the light, and even if you are a lute fastened with strings, you are not the lute player.

My soul preached to me, my brother, and taught me much. And your soul has preached and taught as much to you. For you and I are one, and there is no variance between us save that I urgently declare that which is in my inner self, while you keep as a secret that which is within you. But in your secrecy there is a sort of virtue.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Flowers in Bloom

The first week I arrived here, Jim and I were so busy planting more flowers in the yard. I love flowers especially roses but our location doesn’t get enough sunlight for the roses to grow. The funny part though was when Jim bought bags of dirt at Home Depot. I thought that was funny since we can just grab some dirt on the hill. I mean, that’s how we do it in my country. My husband was just laughing at me; he thought I’m being silly, lol!

When my Mom was here, she always wakes up so early in the morning. She goes out strolling in the neighborhood. One time, when it’s time for her to leave- she told me if it’s okay to pick some stems of the flowers in the association’s place (where they put the community sign). She really wanted to bring some stems to plant once she gets back home in the island. I was panicked, I told her- she might go to jail for that, hahaha! My Mom loves gardening and she spends more money on her orchids than her clothes.

Anyway, our flowers are in bloom right now despite the winter season. Ah, early spring for them. Here’s some pictures from our front and back yard.


The Art of Selling

Jim noticed that I love watching old movies. One of my personal favorite is “Les` Miserables”. I think, I had watched the movie several times and every time I watch it, I cry, aha! Corny, lol! I love watching romantic comedy, lighter drama and true-to-life stories too. Thanks to NetFlix for having such a great selection.

My husband suggested that I might as well watch the movie “The Death of a Sales Man”. A very sad movie. A story of a person who is imprisoned by his own false pride his entire life. Well, it’s a tough job.

Last week, B went to AZ for a meeting with the buyer to one of our major accounts. He’s really a positive thinker and had a “never say never” attitude which is very good. A very motivated, pushing-himself- too-hard-kind of guy but he’s young and successful. He’s only a year older than me. This is the time where I can really appreciate his contribution to the company. I’m no sales person at all. I had been to conventions with them (my husband) and sometimes they just leave me alone talking to customers. Really what they were doing was to test my sales talent. I don’t think I got one, hahaha!

So, when B together with Rech left the office, I asked my husband what Rech is doing to the company since he’s been around here lately. He said, he’s our new rep. What? What happened to D? Apparently, D was fired. The buyer knew Rech better. Rech used to work in a big company for almost 20 years and had put a lot of money into the company, multi-million. He’s one of the top guys in the company for sales and when the economic crunch hit, one of the company’s solution was to fire him since he’s making millions every year. He’s paid through commission. He was pissed when he got fired and so he’s trying to annoy the old company. Well, it always happens in business.

They say that when you’re not stressed out, you’re lazy and when you’re a businessman, you’re all about money. During conventions or trade shows, I’m always so cautious and had an open-mind about business as much as possible. I’ve met different personalities, there are people who are kind of beggars (come to the show and ask for left over products), a lot of drunk people at night but they still manage to get a deal. There’s one friend that was bragging about how much he got from day one, tons of orders but really what it was- just a mere possibility of a PO. Then, he went out and enjoyed the rest of the show, bought a 100grand-Porsche. Surely, he’s making good money but he also spend his money like crazy. I’ve heard his business is hurting these days. Rule number 1, don’t count your chickens before they're hatched.

Anyway, we always make sure we have a dinner with a new buyer or touch base with old and loyal customers during trade shows. One of my favorite business associate is our big distributor in Europe. It’s a family business and they’re way 9 times bigger than our company. Yet, they remained very humble, not extravagant, nice and real people. Real to me coz they always make sure family is the top priority. I realized not all businessman is all about money; not even my husband. He’s a tough guy when it comes to decision-making and he always does what is right. He’s a lover of justice.

Something Fishy

I know, it looked disgusting, haha! I had lunch date with my friends at home yesterday. I didn’t work half of the day. It was D’s day off; Faye will have her classes late (night) and no work for both Faye and Jinks. So, I decided to grill the dried fish which I had stocked in the pantry for a long time. My husband freaked out when he found out there’s dead body in the pantry, lol! Okay, I thought he’s going to work early and so I invited my friends to come over before 12 noon. It appears that my husband can’t go to work since he’s working on his new Christmas products at home. Yikes, he will surely smell that stinky fish, hahaha! Thank goodness, our next-door neighbor, W is not around- I didn’t see his car outside. So, it’s okay to grill those dried fish outside.

My husband was fine with it. He said I can do it once in a while, hahaha! He already told me I can’t cook dried fish inside the house. He threw up one time. It’s all so stinky that I felt so bad. Well, I’m just craving for it and had cooked bihon too.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Wonderful Weekend!

It was a beautiful Sunday! The skies were very pretty and we had a relaxing weekend. Here are some of the pictures I’d captured from the veranda.

It’s really amazing to see this picturesque sunset and one of my most awaited time of the day. Well, who wouldn’t be so grateful everyday for such a lovely painting?

The Saddleback mountain wasn’t visible then. It’s covered with clouds but I hope to take a picture one of these days. I drive to work everyday and I can’t help but appreciate all the beautiful hills that always greet me in the morning!

Anyway, it’s been months that we’re so busy redecorating the house. Now it’s time to remodel the kitchen. We got a great deal on the carpet. It really pays off when you broaden your choices. It’s just a lot of work but it’s worth it. I’m just glad my husband is really a smart and disciplined spender.

All in all, our weekend is pretty busy. Saturday night at the bookstore and movie. As usual, I blew off my diet again. Hmmm, when my husband’s not so much into his diet; then, I became weak too. Guilty, eh? Well, at least I had my Krispy Kreme for snacks and Linguine Pescatora for dinner today, yumm!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Happy Friday!

I have loved the weather lately. It was warmer since last week with an average of 80’s F. Today, I woke up with the sound of rain drops. Ah, making me so lazy to get up, lol! Thank goodness, the rain had visited us once again. My husband called after few minutes I arrived at the office- wondering if I got in safely.

You know, I always thought we lived in a small town or maybe because we’re frequent to some places like the Market (Vons), Bank, Post Office, Yogurt place, and even restaurants. My husband and I get along pretty good when it comes to foods. When we discover a new place to eat; then, it becomes part of our routine. Sometimes, when we go to a certain place, the waiter/waitress already knew what we’re going to order. Same all, same all- that’s all needed to say. Or when I go to any of these places by myself, I always get the same line of “where’s your husband?” or “say hi to Jim” thing or worse, when they won’t see him for a while- it would be “what happened to your husband? Is he okay?” I thought it’s funny. Or it could be that it’s easy to familiarize because of our colors, hahaha! Nevertheless, I’m happy for that kind of concern or attention. I don’t remember having a problem with racial discrimination which is good.

Happy TGIF! A invited us over for a dinner at their house and a movie after then:)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"Cold Nose, Warm Heart"

Yeah, meet my ever beloved body guard in my car, he thinks he can drive too:)
shhhh, he's taking a nap...
so tired from the office barking at anybody:)
Jakey in my husband's car... making the seat warm, lol!
Did you know that he was such a chick magnet when he was just a pup? A used to borrow him when he goes to the beach just to attract some hot girls, lol! He was so adorable that even our next-door neighbor will visit him every once in a while to play with him:)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Magic Number 51

It was our final exams for EEII (Electrical Circuits). The exam was held in a big conference room (seat arrangements in ascending order) and the chairs were 5 feet apart. There were about 120 students taking the exam. It was a 3-hour exam and of course the instructor can always tell whose cheating since everybody’s visible from afar.

The exam was composed of 100 questions/ problem solving, multiple choices and “show your solutions” at the back. I was all so prepared for the exams, studied every possible problems and activities at every Electrical Circuit book I can find at the library. Nevertheless, the exam, scenario and the circuitry presented was so complicated. Actually, it was just one situation. The trick though is if you can answer the first part then, you’re good to go. Even that first part was found on number 51 question. So, you have to go through all the questions. They’re all scattered like a puzzle.

I sweated for the first 30 minutes. I had tried every possible technique and principles on the problem but I just can’t find the answer. I was stuck on number 51. Then, an hour passed and I still can’t find the right answer. My paper was all messed up with possible solutions, numbers and formula but still I was stuck. If only I can get the answer for that number 51! Darn! I was looking at my other classmates specially those whom I know can possibly answer but they’re shaking their heads. Then, I started to panic. I know, I had to pass this exam otherwise, I will lose my scholarship! At that time, the university just changed the grading system to finalist- meaning, 70% of our overall grade is taken from our final exam.

My mind was just wandering on the second hour of the exam. Scared, frustrated and hopeless. I imagined myself out of school, trying to apply for a job. I look around and seen the seats almost empty. Just a few students remained in the room, trying hard to answer the problems. Then, I started praying the rosary, trying to calm my mind, asking for a miracle and a light from the Holy Spirit. I finished the rosary in about 30 minutes and I just let go of my dreams. Well, I tried my best after all.

Then, I looked down again on that number 51 question. As if a certain idea came up and I hurriedly tried answering the question by filling up the answers first. In short, reversing the problem. I tried all the choices from A-D, I realized there should only be one answer to the question and every problem there is always a solution. I bet you, I was right! I was all so shaking as I found the answer to #51. I only have 30 minutes left! And there’s still 99 questions to answer but as I said, it will all be easy as long as you know the answer to #51. Ah, the magic number!

Not only did I pass the exam but I got a perfect score! That instructor gave us a problem that was given during their Licensure Exams, grrr! Then, he approached me, shook my hand and said, “Congratulations!”. I know that I got a good grade but I didn’t realize it was perfect. Wow! He was so shocked! He thought I was all so smart, hahaha!

Anyway, when I took the review for our Licensure Exams, one of the techniques they taught us was “Reverse Engineering”. I just smiled onto that idea. Oh, I know what that means. Above all, there’s one thing I found out after that incident. Miracles do exist! Sometimes, all you have to do is discover it within you coz that’s where it resides:)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Song of the Soul

In the depth of my soul there is
A wordless song-a song that lives
In the seed of my heart.
It refuses to melt with ink on Parchment; it engulfs my affection
In a transparent cloak and flows,
But not upon my lips.

How can I sigh it?
I fear it may Mingle with earthly ether;
To whom shall I sing it?
It dwells In the house of my soul, in fear of
Harsh ears.

When I look into my inner eyes I see the shadow of its shadow;
When I touch my fingertips
I feel its vibrations.
The deeds of my hands heed its
Presence as a lake must reflect
The glittering stars; my tears
Reveal it, as bright drops of dew
Reveal the secret of a withering rose.

It is a song composed by contemplation
And published by silence,
And shunned by clamor,
And folded by truth,
And repeated by dreams,
And understood by love,
And hidden by awakening,
And sung by the soul.

It is the song of love;
What Cain or Esau could sing it?
It is more fragrant than jasmine;
What voice could enslave it?

It is heartbound, as a virgin's secret;
What strings could quiver it?
Who dares unite the roar of the sea
And the singing of the nightingale?
Who dares compare the shrieking tempest
To the sign of an infant?

Who dares speak aloud the words
Intended for the heart to speak?
What human dares sing in voice
The song of God?
-Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Measure of Passion

My husband collects coins as his investment. The prices of the collectible coins right now are surprisingly high. Last week, he was pissed because he bought a whole bunch of coins- probably around $800 total from one seller on eBay. When it arrived, he was so disappointed. The coins didn’t look exactly as the photos. So, when he saved the photos and blow it up, some marks were gone. The photos were greatly photoshopped! Oh, a bunch of thieves, he said. When we looked at his sales, he had sold a lot, more than 3000 feedback in a month. Wow!

He asked for a refund and returned some of the coins that looked terrible. The guy gave his refund but my husband still is not satisfied. He asked me if it was me- “would I give him a negative feedback?” I said, no- maybe neutral. But he said, it’s stealing and if he wouldn’t respond correctly, it will just continue. Of course, he is right but I don’t think I had the nerve to do it. Wished I’m like him.

My husband’s attitude pretty much reminded me of my Mom. When I was a kid, I’m always scared when my Mom got into trouble. I mean, she doesn’t tolerate injustice, lies and misconceptions. She’s very upfront and outspoken no matter what, where and to whom she’s speaking with especially if she knew that it’s not good. One time, she attended a PTA during one of our high school’s general assembly. She was all the way speaking against the lazy teachers, inconsiderate nuns, lousy teaching strategies, poor discipline, etc. Nobody can do it except my Mom and most parents were just nodding, they had complains but doesn’t talk at all. I was the class President at that time but I didn’t really go to the meeting room. She already told me that she’s going to speak. I begged her not to do it coz it would be embarrassing but of course nobody can stop her. It was just one of the scenarios though. Presently, she acts as the voice of the employees and she’s the President of the Union. Thank goodness, it’s a government union to sort of protect employees.

My husband kept asking me how is it possible that most of her kids (us) are so coy and timid unlike our Mom which has a strong personality. He even asked me if I’m still embarrassed of what she had done. Well, after all these years, I realized my Mom is right and I’m proud of it.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Busy and Getting Hot in Here

Wow! It’s surprisingly warm here in our place (Southern CA) since yesterday. I wondered where winter went. Some places might have some inches of snow and yet we had an 89deg F. We had no choice but to turn on the AC, gezzzz. The past weeks, I have been complaining about the cold weather. The heater was always on. It could be the reason why my fish was dying because of the warm weather. The water wasn’t that hot though.

Anyway, it’s nice to know that we’re almost done with all the taxes stuff. I just remembered the day my husband taught me the basic things about running a business- getting familiar with the program (QB), billings, bookkeeping, balancing the check book, payroll, taxes and organizing the files. The rest he said was “go figure it out”. What? Well, he said he learned it eventually and so I can ask him if I had trouble and I’m on my own. Whew! It wasn’t that difficult though but so much of the inexperienced complains. As the business grows, the more work to do. I’m just happy and grateful for that since it’s very nice to be occupied with work. I can’t imagine myself not doing anything productive at all. It’s a lot better too since I am my own boss- I mean, in my own department, lol! There are only 5 employees and we are our own boss.

Looking back, I think I did a lousy job when it comes to accounting but there’s always a room for improvement!

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Beauty of the Moon

“If skies are clear Saturday, go out at sunset and look for the giant moon rising in the east. It will be the biggest and brightest one of 2009, sure to wow even seasoned observers. " That’s what NASA said January 10th.

A week before that we’ve been trying to figure out what planet is it that’s very visible near our area. So, my husband decided to take his telescope out from the closet. It was quiet hard to see it from afar on the first night since it’s moving so fast. It was very clear last Saturday though. We can even see the scars on that planet and it’s twinkling. It was very fascinating to me since it’s my first time to see a planet (or maybe it was a star) and a moon from a telescope, hahaha!
However, last Saturday the moon was really hard to find unlike the previous nights. We even thought Rosa might have cleaned the lens the afternoon, it was all so bright- quiet hard to focus. Hmm, we were wondering if it was because it’s said to be the brightest or maybe the lens was just dirty. Well, it was worth a try though. Still, it was such a nice picture of a big, full moon! We live near the beach and so the moon is very picturesque from there as its lights reflect on the ocean. How wonderful!

I'm Bummed!

It would probably be the last supper for my first fish tonight. I found him staying at the bottom of the tank when I arrived from the office. I knocked on the glass and he swam a little bit but that's about it. I hurriedly feed them and he did eat a little bit but went back to the bottom. It really hurts to see him like that. He tried so hard to swim but he just can't. He looked as if he wanted some help:( Poor fish. I asked my husband about it and he'd no clue and hadn't seen something like that before. The hard part though is I can see him from my desk since the tank is just above the little refrigerator in my office (at home). Hayyyy, he might not be able to make it tomorrow. I felt really bad!

Keeping Up

I’m so happy that I’m on the right track on my New Year’s resolution- so far. Last year, there was a lot of procrastination. The year just slipped by so quickly and realized I haven’t been on my diet and exercise at all. I had gained 6 lbs and never lose it. It was just lame excuses one after the other. It happened when we were at the lake, river and went for vacation in my hometown for the summer.

This time though I go to the gym 3 times a week and I still loving it, lol! I eat all I want though but at least, I do the exercise. I’m hoping to finish all the left over desserts (some are thrown already) from the holidays. After that, I can go back to my South Beach diet. Hmmm, I wonder where all my motivations go? As they said, it’s a state of mind, a lifestyle and so I should take it one day at a time.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Life as a Christian

The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says, “Give Me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and there, I want the whole tree down. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked- the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”

Christian way is both harder and easier than what we are all trying to do. You have noticed, I expect, that Christ Himself sometimes describes the Christian way as very hard, sometimes as very easy. He says, “Take up your cross”- in other words, it is like going to be beaten to death in the concentration camp. Next minute he says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”. He means both. And one can just see why both are true.

But it is far easier than what we are trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call “Ourselves”, to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be “good”. We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way- centered on money or pleasure or ambition- and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly, chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do. As He said, a thistle cannot produce figs. If I am field that contains nothing but grass-seed, I cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass may keep it short: but I shall still produce grass and no wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and re-sown.
-Clive Staples Lewis "Mere Christianity"

Friday, January 9, 2009

Funny Pictures to Brighten Your Day!

How was your cereal this morning?

Ah, Boy Genius!

Did you forget something?

I'd rather hold it!

Yes, right, it's wrong spelling- where did you go to school?

I know, I'm just tired and I'm so looking forward for another weekend:) Happy TGIF!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Gifts For Me

It’s Christmas once again for me, haha! I’m so happy to have received a gift for myself and from my close friend (in Thailand) today at the mail. Thanks so much Radex for the beautiful accessories and dye-tie, sexy dress:) That's very thoughtful of you! They’re all so cute! I love wearing accessories but it’s just so expensive here. Anyway, I give myself a Louis Vuitton purse and wallet as souvenir from my hard-earned bonus:) The rest was put to my IRA and hopefully I can put more into it in the coming years. I have been working since I was 22 but I had never thought of saving for myself then. I decided to start saving for my retirement and I don’t want to depend on my husband on this. I’d love to prove to myself that I’ve done it. Well, it’s part of my New Year’s Resolution- be more responsible with my money and be a more smart shopper:)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Your House as Your Larger Body

My husband invited me to come over at his old neighborhood and wanted my opinion. He warned me that we’re not moving or anything, lol! Every time he does it, I’m not really interested. I love our house and the neighborhood. I just wanted to set my roots first. What I’m really interested in going to open houses is the arrangement of furniture. Sure, it makes a lot of difference if the house is well-decorated.

He said that he’s very curious about this house that’s for sale. It’s surrounded by walls and all you can see is the garden when the gate is opened. All the neighbors are wondering what’s inside. They used to call it “The Fort”. The old lady that owned it has just passed away and so she left the house to her caregiver. It’s an old house- built in the 1940’s where the lady had lived all her life. You can see really old appliances and the rusted steel in the kitchen. She’s a painter and so all her paintings were all over the place. The owner didn’t do anything to the house and it looked horrible to me. However, it has a million-dollar ocean view. The realtor is trying to sell it for 1.8M. Basically, you’re just buying the panoramic ocean view.

I liked the place- it has magnificent view and overlooking Ritz Carlton. I just don’t really like to live near the beach. I don’t like the smell of the sea breeze at night and the heat of the sun will be coming in the house during summer. Most of the time, the skies are boring- only when there’s a storm and that clouds will appear that can make it prettier. There’s one house though that has a lot of different views in different rooms- hills, street lights at night and the ocean view and the house is not that old to remodel but it’s worth a million more than our house. Well, it’s better to keep the money:)