Come Undone

Come Undone is a poem for the lost and lonely.

Lurking in the darkness
With a reckoning slither
The hideous reflection
Unmasking a soul.

Is there not beauty?
For what eyes can see
Deep into the shadows
In a vale of misery.

How can it be
When in murky alleys
Even in filthy dead-ends
Is a wee dose of living.

In a sudden ray of flicker
Its breath in sillhouette
As a glow of warmth
Slowly dries up the damp.

See them all around
From the drumbeat within
Be gone what is done
Blown away, come undone.

 

photo credit: DeeAshley Scatter Brained and Broad Minded via photopin (license)

The Value of the Old Typewriter

The Manual Typewriter, A thing of the past

Old typewriter
My Dad’s Old Typewriter

My father owned an old Olympia, a German-made typewriter. It now sits on top of an old steel cabinet, rusty and dusty. I have been thinking of cleaning it and see if I could condition it to work. Maybe I would get to that sometime. (For more info on how a manual typewriter works, check this out ( http://www.explainthatstuff.com/typewriter.html )

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I have not tried yet to look for the serial number and the date it was made. It would surely take some thorough cleaning to find them. Nonetheless, I do not think it can be considered as a collector’s item. Of course those made the earliest would undoubtedly interest typewriter collectors. But, even so, I did a quick research on these finger-powered mechanical machines to learn some things. The most collectible and rare are the Underwood No. 5 and the Royal Grand, as they are among the early ones. Writers and journalists preferred the Grand, from what I have read. And my Dad’s Olympia is just as old I am, though I do not look as rusty and beaten!

My Dad

I remember those fingers touching and hitting the keys, strong and determined. The rhythm of those typing sounds, click-clack, click-clack, still lingers in my ears. I do not really think it made a click-clack sound though. Just the closest I could think of. It makes my lips twitch remembering those distinct sounds the manual typewriter made. A little bell sound when the carriage reached the end of the line, a zipper zipping-like sound when rolling the platen knob to feed or remove the paper. Or the zing it made when pushing the return lever. I can still remember a lot of tiny details connected to the typewriter. But I remember more of the big one, that of the man who sat by it.

My dad was not one who uses all ten fingers when typing. I think he only used three on each hand. He did not type fast, mainly because he did not like to make errors. Same thing when writing down on paper, he wrote every letter in cursive with very careful strokes.

Father had a flair for speaking Spanish as well an excellent command of English. He had a great talent for writing essays, speeches and poems and he could easily spot misspellings, incorrect grammar and syntax. He was a family man, a lawyer and a public servant . And being such the last two, his Olympia had unarguably withstood the test of time surviving documents, school projects, and even my mom’s school paperworks. In the village where I grew up, Father was among the only few who owned a manual typewriter. Understandably, when neighbors or friends needed some typewriting done, they would come to our place and ask if they could use it.

The clunky typewriter used to sit on its metal table with folding sides. This typewriter table had little wheels that made creaking sounds when rolled down the wooden floor. I have a vivid recollection of my father moving and positioning it to wherever he found it comfortable working. Sometimes, in the middle of typing, he would take a break but not without putting down the paper bail first. He wanted to make sure the papers he was typing on would still be in the same exact position. I should know because I had been in the same frustrating situation where I would get back to my typing and found out that the letters had jumped to a different line. Even the slightest movement would cause that.

The Legacy20170312_094001

Moving forward, I can not help but think of what we have today, the digital edge. I also think about what my dad would have thought of smartphones, tablets and computers. He passed away three months after his 65th birthday, in 2000, when most of the people in my community did not have much access to the world wide web yet. How I wish he were still around to witness how new technologies are shaping the world now. It would have been fun to see him touch-swipe screen, browsing the web and reading the world news. He liked to read anything that would stimulate his intellect. New inventions, as simple and small as a solar powered flashlight would have amazed him. He would have been excited to try new things.

Would he have switched to encode on a computer and print? Perhaps he would have, but I am certain he still would have kept the old typewriter by his side. It had always been a part of him like it has been of me.

So no, I am not selling my dad’s Olympia, even if its worth would be so much more than the Grand’s. Its value is priceless. This old typewriter is not just a family remembrance of my dad. The legacy is far beyond what is tangible, beyond all the words this typewriter had ever produced.

The mere sight of it makes me think of the things that mattered to my father. Like how writing meant so much to him. It serves as a constant reminder for me to pursue my passion, and to at least try to aim for perfection. And now I think of my own writing, my posts, my forever attempt at blogging. I knew mine is a far cry from his, with all the flaws which I may have never even noticed. But if only Dad were here now reading what I am writing, I am most certain I would see him with a very approving smile.

Read more:

Writing It Easy, Feeling Heavy

 

Sauteed Okra with Pork

Here’s a quick, easy and healthy okra recipe from my own kitchen.

Okra, commonly known as lady fingers to many English-speaking countries, is a rich source of dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. In addition, it is also loaded with antioxidants and believed to lower blood sugar and cholesterol. It grows in warm climate regions like in the Philippines.

I am one of those who grew up eating and liking okra. I knew that some found this vegetable intimidating because of its sliminess. Once cut, it releases a slimy juice which others found unappealing before they even tried it cooked. I like my okra boiled a little until it gets tender but not mushy. Another way is when cooking rice, placed on top to steam when rice is almost done. Okra sauteed in tomatoes is also one of my favorites. The tomatoes’ own juice blends well with the okra slime, giving the dish a rich and thick taste. It also turns the dish naturally saucy.

Here’s a simple sauteed okra with pork recipe that my seven year old daughter Innah likes. Note that pork is optional. You can cook it plain, or even add or substitute it with shrimps for a richer taste.

Quick, easy and healthy okra recipe
Innah’s favorite okra dish

250 gms okra sliced diagonally
100gms lean pork strips, marinated in 2 tbsp soy sauce
1 medium onion
1 clove minced garlic
2 medium tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, julienne cut
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 cup water
Fish sauce or salt to taste

In a pan, saute onion, garlic and tomatoes. Add the marinated pork strips. Cover pan and cook over low heat for 5 minutes or until pork is cooked. Add the okra, bellpeppers, and season with oyster sauce and fishsauce or salt to taste. Pour in water and let simmer for another 5 minutes or until okra is tender but not overcooked.

Serve over steamed white rice.

Sauteed Okra with Pork served over steamed white rice
Okra served on top of steamed white rice

Cooking time: 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy your meal!

How do you cook okra?

Rain In My Heart

No more tears to spare
Yet the pain lives
Like the stubborn weed
Taking in, all the life it brings.

I hear the sound it makes
From within so deep
Not the drizzle on tin roofs
Nor the faint trickle down its roots.

Cold as white pebbles
As white sands turned grey
When damp and wet they are
Waiting for the moment to subside
Dry but warm, not all hopes gone.

I am past asking why
Regrets I have none, a grateful one
Still holding onto my light,
As strong and ever so bright
Even when it is raining in my heart.

 

photo credit: jenny downing blades of chaos via photopin (license)

10 Practical Tips to Manage Stress


Stress is one of the most inevitable things that could happen at any point in our lives. How we avoid it or cope with it depends solely on our attitude and the actions we take to get things back into balance. Here are some practical guides to deal with it.

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Stress

1. Identify the stressor.

Major life events, work-related and financial problems are just a few of the many causes of stress. Once you knew the roots, do not just mope around. Start by making an action plan.

2. Know your limits.

Take a break if you feel you need to. Sometimes we need to go easy on ourselves. Everyone makes mistakes but not everyone can fix them. Blaming yourself or others will not change anything. When things are getting out of control, do not try to be a superhero and try to change the situation. Let them unfold on their own.

3. Eat the right kind of food.

We need all the energy we could have to stay focused. Having a balanced diet and a well nourished body is crucial to keep both our body and spirit going. Avoid fatty foods and cut back on caffeine and sugar. Stick to antioxidants that boost the immune system like fruits and vegetables and carbs which help the brain produce more serotonin. Serotonin is the hormone that relaxes us. For more info on how to eat right to reduce stress, check this out! http://www.pcrm.org/health/health-topics/how-to-eat-right-to-reduce-stress

4. Sweat it Out.

Get up from bed. Overstaying in bed will only make you more miserable. Do home chores, general cleaning or doing the laundry. It will give you a sense of accomplishment. Take a walk, sit on a bench at the park and watch kids play. If you are lucky you might even find company. One who is more than willing to unpack his own baggage or share his story that would cheer you up and make you realize you are one luckier person.

5. Think happy thoughts.

Do not dwell on bad events that happened in the past, regretting and wishing things were different. Think of pleasant memories and laugh at your own absurdities. Laughter is vital to keep our sanity in this mad world. Try to find humor even in the most difficult situation. Laughing doesn’t only make you feel better but also makes you radiate with positivity. Positive emotions greatly affect our physical and mental health and our overall well being. More on the importance of positivity here https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/think-and-feel-health.

6. Face the problem.

It won’t do any good to run from reality. Get to the bottom of the problem head-on. Do not pretend to be okay when you feel like the world is crumbling down on you. Transforming yourself into somebody you’re not, trying to be oblivious of the real turmoil inside of you, would only make you feel more lost and alone.

7. Talk.

You do not have to sit on a park bench and unburden yourself to a total stranger. But go ahead anyway, you would never know what would unfold unless you try. Get back to that one friend who is always willing to listen. With social media it is now easier to connect and reconnect with people. A simple hello to an old high school friend or a former coworker might lead to a blessing in disguise, an opportunity, or a simple eyeopener. Another way is to put your feelings into hard copy, meaning, to write them down, maybe in the form of a journal, and unleash them all in writing if you must. Or better yet, do number 8.

8. Find something productive.

Browse the web for some DIY, read informative materials like recycling tips. If you knew how to put your thoughts and feelings into words, try organizing them and post them in blogging platforms like Niume. Niume pays by the way. Just explore the site, read the FAQ’s and sign up here https://niume.com/86439.

9. Stay away from the negatives.

And by the plurality I mean people, places or events that would only make you feel more depressed. They add more chaos to the emotions. Distance yourself from negative people who would rather have you in the same boat than make you feel better.

10. Know that you are blessed.

Appreciate the little things in life, especially those we tend to disregard and miss altogether because of overfamiliarity. There is so much to be grateful for. Give back and send love and energy, and these will come back to you in many ways. Life is and will never be perfect. And we are all blessed fairly with the beauty of its imperfections.

Remember the adage, everything happens for a reason. We may fail to see the reason behind every failure and sorrow while they unfold right before our eyes. But when we look back, that is when we realize and see clearly why things happened the way they did. There is no mere coincidence or random chance. Sure we take the reins and hold on to them, but with an abiding faith that Somebody who is in more control is working in our life and guiding our course.