The Most Gorgeous Weekend (So Far) in 2011

The weather continued unseasonably cool for March.  It rained, but not copiously.

Self braved the Millbrae BART station to pick up niece G and Steven, then treated them to lunch at The Counter in Palo Alto.  Hubby stayed home to watch the NCAA games.

It took us over half an hour to get a table at The Counter.  Self tried the “Signature Burger.”  It was OK.  She wished they hadn’t put so much of the red, spicy sauce on top.  What she really loved was sharing a peanut butter milkshake with niece!  And of course, the sweet potato fries.  Yum-yum!

“The Lincoln Lawyer” was a fun movie.  Matthew McConaughey is still the same Matthew McConaughey, still fine-looking.  Even his hairstyle hasn’t changed a bit from “A  Time to Kill,”  where he also played a lawyer.  Five stars.

Self is sad that Geraldine Ferraro, vice-presidential running mate of Walter Mondale, passed away.

Saturday was Amanda’s birthday:  self called and was able to greet her in person.

The book she is reading, Joseph Finder’s Power Play, has picked up its pace.  She loves the scene when the hero waits impatiently for an old iMac to boot up, and describes the powering-up as sounding like a “Beethoven sympathy.”  Naturally, there are armed thugs just outside the office door, threatening to kill anyone at the slightest provocation.

Self cooked chicken and pork adobo for the first time in ages.

She ate two whole bags of chicharon on the same day.

She mis-placed her car keys and the spare key she had would not allow her to unlock her car doors, so she had to call a Triple-A locksmith to meet her at Woodside Plaza.  She waited an hour and a half.

Self observed that Gracie, instead of rushing to the backyard immediately after her evening meal, instead waits patiently by self’s feet, waiting for her daily Humulin injection.  It is not that the li’l crit enjoys these injections so very much.  Sometimes, if self happens to hit the wrong spot, she even flinches.  But, there she waits.  Here is a prime illustration of the Pavlovian theory of “conditioning.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Unbelievable! Simply Unbelievable!

It is late afternoon.  Self has spent all of today (starting from 9:30 am) at the San Francisco Airport.  Her Delta flight to Manila was supposed to leave at 12 noon.  Boarding began at 11:30.  The plane started to taxi.  The pilot announced that we would be in Tokyo in just over 10 hours.  Self heaved a great sigh of relief.

Whereupon —  awful smell began to seep out of the lavatories.  It smelled like —  well, it smelled like crap, frankly.  Like someone had taken a huge dump and forgotten to flush.  After a while, people started craning their heads back, to where the lavatories were.  Others began to cover their noses with their scarves.  Finally, the captain went on the loudspeaker and said:  “Ladies and Gentlemen, it seems there’s a problem of unusual smells coming from the back.  That’s been a recurring problem with this particular aircraft”  —  at which point, self thought:  Oh really?  This aircraft has intestinal problems?  Har, har, har!

She was not sniggering quite so much when the captain announced that we would be returning to the terminal to have the problem corrected.

After a few moments, another announcement:  “Ladies and gentleman, we ask everyone to please disembark and take all your belongings with you.  We may have to substitute aircraft.  Please wait in the boarding area for further announcements.”

Much grumbling.  Self dragged herself and her puny belongings back to the boarding area, sat, and tried to doze.

Then, a further announcement:  “Ladies and gentlemen, Flight 59 to Tokyo has been cancelled.  Please proceed to the ticketing area and re-book.”

OMG!  There was a mad stampede for the escalators!  By the time self reached the Delta ticket counter, there was a line of about 300 people in front of her.

Which is why, at 5:51 pm, self is still at the San Francisco Airport.  Her only consolation being:  at least they have 45 minutes of free wi-fi now.

Methinks there is a trend here:  Yesterday, self dropped Gracie off at the vet’s.  She had an appointment for 2:30.  She didn’t get to leave the vet’s until 6:30.  Hubby kept calling:  Where are you?  “At the vet’s!” self said.  “They’re still processing Gracie!”

First they had self sign all sorts of papers, stating that she was authorizing them to have Gracie taken to the hospital in an ambulance, should she happen to have a setback.  Then she had to sign over a delegation of authority for her husband, in case he was called upon to decide whether to “put Gracie down.”  Then they told self that she must pay $3,000 right then and there.  (“If that turns out to be too much, we can easily issue you a refund.”  I’ll bet!)  Then the doctor had to run a complete set of medical tests on Gracie.  Then they suggested that perhaps self should postpone her trip.  (“Gee,” self thought, “I really wish you could have told me earlier, instead of waiting for the night before I’m supposed to leave!”)  So, what with all that, and then hauling a 40-lb. bag of dry dog food from her trunk, and bringing down all Gracie’s medicines (two different antibiotics, in addition to humulin —  which hubby dropped on the ground yesterday, by accident he said, but self couldn’t help wondering why the dear man seemed to relish telling self, “Now you’d better buy a new bottle.  That old one’s no good.”  Oh sure, hubby!  What’s a measly $100 when money is flying right out of our ears!), and also a pillowcase which Gracie enjoys smelling, because it has some of self’s scent —  after all that, four hours zipped by, and suddenly it was dark and freezing cold outside.

(This morning, when self was supposed to leave for Manila, she made a hurried last visit to Gracie.  Then the friend who was bringing self to the airport called and said she was arriving half an hour early.  So self had to scramble back home, toss everything into her purse, give her wayward locks a hasty combing, and pray, fervently, that she hadn’t forgotten anything.  Of course, now, self is home again.  Ha ha ha!  All that scrambling around ended up being for nothing!)

*     *     *     *

At long last, self is home again.  She has a flight confirmed to Hong Kong, but no flight yet from Hong Kong to Manila.  The exhausted Delta ticket agent said to come back tomorrow.

In the meantime, there’s Jerry Brown on flat-screen HDTV, delivering his first “official” speech since being elected Governor of California.  He’s saying something about “sacrifice.”  He’s saying something about deep budget cuts.

America is suddenly a depressing place.  Self will arrive in Bacolod bedraggled and no doubt utterly exhausted.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Gracie Update 2

Son startled self by walking in at 8 p.m. last night.  He’d decided to cancel a dinner with his Bay Area friends.  He didn’t look happy.  Instead, he walked right past self, sitting in the living room, and went to the kitchen.  Poor li’l crit was lying on some towels and pillows in the center of the kitchen floor.  All day, self had agonized over whether to take her to the nearest emergency room.  The vet had been closed for three days for the Christmas holiday.

The last time self took Gracie to the emergency room (for snail bait poisoning), the bill reached nearly $2,000.  The hospital kept her for three days.  But when son walked in the door last night, all of self’s ditherings flew out the window.  She said, “Let’s go now.”  Hubby was already asleep and could not make his feelings known.  So self and son set off for the emergency clinic in San Mateo.

We returned home at midnight.  Self’s jeans were covered with Gracie’s piss.  She had asked son whether he still remembered how to drive a stick shift, and he said he did.  Besides, he said, he’d much rather drive than have a pee-ing dog on his lap.  After several stuttering starts, he managed to get the car going.

Son was starving:  he hadn’t yet had dinner.  On the way home, we stopped by good ol’ Burger King, the very same place where self used to take son, every afternoon after picking him up from school.  Good thing self still had $6 in her wallet (She had to settle with the emergency clinic:  $400 in cash.  Good thing she’d had the presence of mind to withdraw more cash that morning.  Perhaps she always knew that as soon as son came home, he would go with her to the emergency clinic.  She prayed, and he appeared)

At 1 a.m., self called the emergency clinic.  How was Gracie?  She was “in process.”  Self started watching a SyFy movie called “Minotaur.”  She recognized Tom Hardy.  She became very interested.

She fell asleep.  The next thing she knew, the phone was ringing.  It was the emergency clinic doctor.  When were we planning to pick up Gracie?  Self glanced at the clock:  YIIKES!  She was told all the animals needed to be picked up by 7 a.m., and it was 9!

“I’ll be right there!” she yelled, and flew out the door, still in her pajamas.  She arrived at the clinic, and for a brief moment imagined she saw Gracie leaping over the receptionist’s desk.  Of course, that must have been a hallucination.  After several long moments, however, the li’l crit appeared, walking —  shakily, but on her own.  Oh, what joy!

There was a catheter sticking out of Gracie’s leg and self was told to go straight to her regular vet and have Gracie kept on a fluid drip for the rest of the day.  But since Gracie seemed so much improved, self decided to take her home instead (Self knows, she knows.  This is terrible.  Call her trash!  Go ahead!)

Mid-afternoon, the vet called.  When were we planning to bring Gracie in?  Self said she was really doing much better; did she really need a drip?  At which, the vet grew incensed, so self didn’t bother to argue.  She hauled Gracie off.  Then, there was an hour-long wait in the vet’s office.  Then, we were told the vet had to make an urgent house call, return the next day at 8 a.m.

In between all these comings and goings, Gracie became increasingly ambulatory and alert.  By the time we returned from the vet’s office, she was sniffing at the ground and acting very curious about smells and such.  Self took the li’l crit to the backyard.

She helped Gracie along by lifting up her hind legs.  Now and then, the li’l crit would just collapse.  But when self would try to carry her, her legs would flail out, as if she very much wanted to walk.  So self would put her down, and that li’l dog very determinedly walked.  Her eyesight has deteriorated:  she kept bumping into the edge of the deck and knocking her head against the fence.  But every time self tried to bring her inside, Gracie would resist.

Finally, self left her out in the backyard and checked on her periodically.  Suddenly, while self was in the kitchen, she happened to glance down, and Gracie was at her feet.  Somehow, self doesn’t know how, the li’l crit had groped her way on to the deck, up the back stairs, through the doggie door, and into the kitchen, totally un-aided!

As it happened, the vet called shortly thereafter to check up on Gracie.  Self told him that Gracie had a ravenous appetite.  Moreover, she was very active.  The vet seemed pleased.  He wasn’t so mad at self anymore.  Self agreed to bring Gracie in the next morning, 8 a.m. sharp.

Then two of son’s friends came and knocked on the door.  There was a shrill series of barks.  Gracie, from her perch in the middle of the kitchen, was barking her head off, the way she always used to do when strangers knocked at the door.  Shortly after that, she began pushing the other li’l crit, Bella, off the sleeping cushion next to the living room sofa, re-asserting her right as “Top Dog.”

Will wonders never cease?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The New York Times Book Review: “10 Best Books of 2010”

The New York Times Book Review of 12 December 2010 contained the list of the “10 Best Books of 2010,” five fiction and five nonfiction.  Of the 10, these two really piqued self’s interest:

After reading the rest of the book review, here are the books self is interested in reading:

After reading Edmund White’s review of Christopher Isherwood’s The Sixties:  Diaries, Volume Two:  1960 – 1969:

  • Christopher Isherwood’s The Sixties:  Diaries, Volume Two:  1960 – 1969

After reading Gail Godwin’s end-paper essay on “Working on the Ending” :

  • Samuel Becket’s “late novel” Worstward Ho (The one that contains the sentence:  “Fail again, fail better.”)

Son is home, helping self to attend to Gracie who, although still quite weak, is at least able to walk unaided.

Miraculous Gracie

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: From a Very Very Old Issue of the Journal PHILIPPINE STUDIES

It is Christmas, finally.  Self hardly noticed its coming.  All she knows is that Gracie can walk —  in fact, wants to walk, but her legs are weak.  Self wants her to walk as soon as possible, so she places food a few feet from Gracie and coaxes her.  She does this for hours.  Which is why it is now 2:29 a.m.

Since self knows she might as well write off Christmas (considering how many dramatic events have occurred in her life lately), she decides that she will consider the day well spent if she does nothing more than browse through her vast collection of Philippine Studies.

In the First Quarter, 1992 issue, There’s an article by Harold Olofson and Araceli Tiukinhoy, about Muro-Ami Fishing in Cebu.

Since self was recently in Cebu, the article’s title piques her interest.  And the very first paragraph is quite interesting.  Here’s an excerpt:

In a controversial article on the state of Philippine Society, published three years ago in The Atlantic Monthly, James Fallows, the magazine’s widely travelled Asian correspondent, wrote that because of a failure of nationalism, “people treat each other worse in the Philippines than in any other Asian country.”  Whether this is a realistic assessment or not, we cannot verify.  But certainly his statement is only one side of presumed normative interaction in the country.  There are those who mete out ill treatment, and those who receive it.  Were Fallows to be more rounded in his view, he would also have to write about how many ordinary Filipinos allow themselves to be mistreated without complaint, even without the consciousness that they are not getting what they deserve, throughout the course of an ordinary day.

So fascinating.  Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Gracie Update

She’s trembling, the poor li’l crit, under the broad leaves of a giant agapanthus.

Self stayed up with her last night, then fell asleep around dawn.  At some point during the night, Gracie was barking, barking, barking.  This is just the li’l crit’s way:  when she is frightened or nervous, she barks.  Last night, she kept it up for hours.  Hubby eventually got up.  Self heard him moving around the kitchen.  She must have fallen asleep.

When she came to, it was already past 10 a.m, and hubby was mopping up dog pee from the kitchen floor.  He declared that Gracie was completely blind.

We told the vet we’d start insulin treatment.  We went to the clinic so a nurse could show us how it should be done:  “Tent the skin,” the nurse told self.  “Here, you practice on one of our boarders.”  Another nurse came in, leading a gigantic and supremely gentle collie on a leash.  Self put her right hand on the ridge of the collie’s back, grabbed a pinch of skin, lifted, and jabbed in a slender needle with what she hoped was convincing assertiveness (Syringe was filled with saline solution only).  It didn’t go in all the way.

“It’s all right,” the nurse said.  “I know it’s different when it’s not your dog.”

Since Gracie became so weak, the other li’l crit, Bella, has been staying clear of her.  Funny how these things go, this animal instinct for self-preservation.  Whatever it is Gracie has, Bella must be thinking or feeling, she surely doesn’t want any of it.

Self bought cans of special prescription dog food, mixed some with warm water, and Gracie lapped it up.

Let’s see, what else today?  In spite of all the drama over Gracie, self managed to finish Jose Saramago’s The Cave, which she started reading on the plane to Manila (Last time self was in Manila, she managed to read four books.  This time, she couldn’t even get through one) She brought it back to the library, hoping to borrow another book.  She had just put money into the parking meter when a man said, “Library’s closed today.”  Self expressed surprise, dismay, disappointment.  She kept on walking until she reached the library’s front entrance and saw the posted holiday schedule.  The library re-opens on Sunday, the day after Christmas.

Self wishes the holidays were over already, real fast.

Just now, she made hubby help her bring Gracie back inside.  Hubby complained that her fur is matted with urine, which is true.  But, at this point, self doesn’t care that the li’l crit stinks to high heaven, only that she is still alive.

Son offered to take Gracie back with him to Claremont.  Self actually thought this was a pretty good idea, as Gracie loves son.  But how would he handle the blindness, the twice-daily insulin injections, his classes, as well as an assistantship?  Self wondered if perhaps Gracie might be happy with son’s girlfriend, whose parents have a farm in Nipomo.  Amanda has two other dogs, and she knows animals.  So many things to ponder, and self’s been back barely two days.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Gracie Presenting with New Symptoms

From the moment self walked in the door, yesterday afternoon, (after 23 days spent visiting beloved homeland), self knew there was something wrong with Gracie.  At self’s entrance, she lifted her head lethargically from her sleep cushion and presented self with eyes that were dull and marbled.

Then, the poor li’l crit kept self up all last night, whining piteously.  Self must have risen ten times during the night, each time presenting Gracie with bowls of water which she lapped up voraciously.

This morning, self watched the li’l crit as she dragged herself to the backyard to do her business.  She was listing sideways.

Finally, self couldn’t stand it anymore.  She called desperately around to friends, the Peninsula Humane Society, Beagle Rescue, Pets in Need —  in fact, any organization which might have a friendly local vet who would provide diagnostic services free of charge (since she dreads the $500 bills she gets from her regular vet, sometimes just for basic exams and shots).  The Peninsula Humane Society said they could treat Gracie, but only if self agreed to surrender her first.

No one could help.  Her friends said they knew of no vets who would provide services on a “humanitarian” basis (Self had somehow been under the mistaken impression that there existed the doggie equivalent of Doctors Without Borders.)

Finally, self broke down and called Gracie’s regular vet.  When told that an exam would cost only $52, she made an appointment to bring Gracie in.

The vet took one look at Gracie and said that she certainly looked like she would need hospitalization, “and that can run you anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000.”


Self called hubby, she called son.  Hubby said not to spend anything, but son was of the mind that we should at least request tests, “so we’ll know what’s wrong.”

So self opted for $159 blood tests (plus $52 office visit, bill for Gracie would come out to $211)

After a long wait, during which self crouched down on the floor beside Gracie and stroked the poor, weak li’l crit’s head, the vet returned with the blood test results:  Gracie apparently suffers from high cholesterol and advanced diabetes (much like self’s own Dear Departed Dad).


Self has to adminiter insulin shots to Gracie, twice a day, for the rest of Gracie’s life (The li’l crit is 9 years old.)

Self inquired as to the cost of such treatment:  $100/ month.

Again she felt like blurting out, NOOOO!!

She took the poor li’l crit home, after telling the vet she needed time to think.

Hubby was already home, and self instructed him to prepare Gracie’s dinner, supplementing her regular dry dog food with ladles of broth.

Gracie ate approximately half her dinner, and then fell asleep.  Her breathing is somewhat laboured, but at least she is sleeping.

It is now 8:33 pm in Redwood City.  Self thinks it is about time to call it a night.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Rainy, First Sunday of November 2010

It is raining today.  Feels like it has been raining for hours.  Time moved backwards, so that the clock says 6:53 even though she expected it to say 7:53.  Out in the living room, she hears the beagles jumping and clattering all over the hardwood floor, trying their darndest (Beagles are so dumb) to wake her up.  Well, she is up.  But, unless they can hear her typing, she will pretend she is still asleep.

This morning, still reading Joshua Ferris, she comes to a section of his novel where a character named Lynn, recently diagnosed with breast cancer, thinks of the time she drove a lousy car around Lake Michigan.

Self too had a lousy car.  Several of them, in fact.  She wrote about one of them in a story called “The Lost Language,” one of those hybrid stories that are part essay and part fiction, that is told in segments.  And it was published in Isotope, whose fabulous editor was Chris Cokinos, but now no one in America (or anywhere else in the world) will ever read it, because two years ago, Isotope ceased to be.

“The Lost Language” is the title story of the collection that was published last year in Manila by Anvil.  Maybe people in Manila will read it.  Maybe a dozen people?

And then this year she finished a novel called “Leaving.”  It was about a Filipino maid.  Then Mona Simpson came out with her big novel about a Filipino maid.  Then self watches on YouTube as Mona Simpson reads from the section of her novel that has to do with a Filipino maid.  The maid is called “Lola.”  She is far more competent with children than Mona Simpson is.  Oh.  Wasn’t that Dear Departed Sister’s maid?  The one self just encountered in New York, this last trip with Dearest Mum?  Her sister’s maid was getting paid so much money, self wished she were a maid and not a writer.  Seriously.

Self, where is this going?

Rainy thoughts, rainy thoughts.

Last Night

Niece G was with Dearest Mum.  Hubby and self were heading home from the Airport (Got in at 7:20 p.m.  Virgin America is a really “fun” airline!  Self loved the Filipino stewardess, all bubbly smiles.  For $2, she got a bright pink set of earphones, and ended up watching multiple episodes of “Two and a Half Men”) when she got the text:  Hurry!  We’re in Redwood City!  It’s scaaary driving with Dearest Mum!

So we met up and went to City Pub and had dinner of fried calamari and pub burger and steak burger and tried the beer sampler and the waiter was very nice and we had a very good time and we dropped niece G back in the City because she has to teach tomorrow and then we went home and self fell asleep at past 1 a.m. (which, she just realized, was 4 a.m. in NYC)

Before she went to sleep, she saw two dead potted plants and took them inside and soaked them with water and counted eight snails nestled among its stems and went on a rampage of sorts, picking them off, even the tiniest itty bittiest baby snail, with some wadded up tissue.

Then the li’l crits set up their whining at 6:30 a.m.  Gracie seems to have lost a little weight.  Hubby maintains that self was feeding her too much, so he halved her food.  And apparently, aside from whining piteously at 6:30 a.m. and eating her own crap, she is none the worse for wear.  Bella is per usual:  indifferent to the world, except when it comes to her walks.

The weather was cooler than when she left, and the Bougainvillea Purple Queen had undergone some kind of transformation:  before self left for New York, it was all stems and nothing growing.  Now, it is absolutely bursting with leaf.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Today, the Sun

Oh, the sun is really bright. And it’s only 9:03 a.m.

They say June 21 is the longest day of the year.

At the moment, self is in the backyard, having coffee. Bella, self’s older beagle, is inside, unable to do much more than sleep and eat now. She is 15 years old, which makes her as old as Methuselah. The younger one lies next to self on the deck. Dogs are God’s creatures, through and through.

The weekend just ended was such a good weekend. Not only did self get to go to the Mountain View Farmers Market, yesterday she saw no less than three movies.

Yup, you read right, dear blog readers. First, there was the 11 a.m. show of “Get Him to the Greek.” My, the chemistry between Russell Brand and Jonah Hill was really quite touching. And self can’t remember laughing this much during a movie, ever. Four stars.

After dinner, she Read the rest of this entry »

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