Somewhere, somehow a writer who has taken a Sabbatical and an extended one at that has to start writing again.
Reasons are endless and flooded with denials.
“When it’s spring, I’ll start writing.” “In Autumn, I would definitely sit by the window and type away.” “It’ll be better to start during summer.” “It’s perfect to just stay inside in the winter and write.”
Yet, seasons come and go and still, very still.
But, these past few months of this mild, windy and wet winter, beguiling images and situations have been popping up, like the golden daffodils sprouting now along the islands on the highways, to shake free the knotted dangling ideas out of my obstinate mind.
Then, thanks heaven, my mind subdued and my heart opened to do what I love most.
And, lo and behold, I AM here!
To express myself. For the worth of a writer is to narrate into words and phrases a story that readers can understand and relate to.
If by expressing my opinion, it can inform at the least, better yet can clarify and at best can produce a smile and inspire then this won’t be a futile attempt after all.
We are at the breaking-away season. Fall, is what I’d like to call its early stage. When all the leaves are browning on the branches of trees and gracefully flying and whirling all around. And Autumn, when those gold and orange crispy leaves have settled down and carpeted the grounds.
Lovely weather we’ve been having this September. Cool, windy and bright as summer. Having sensitive eyes, I have to protect them from the sun’s glare and harsh wind with sunglasses.
But at 6:30 in the evening last Tuesday, September 27 the sun was at its luminous stage and setting. I can even stare at it without hurting or blinking my eyes.
That’s why, as I looked out from the window of the tram and saw these two men about to cross the street both wearing “very dark” and obviously expensive sunglasses, it had seemed quite odd to me. There was a woman with them but not with sunglasses.
It was an intersection. I was seated on the left side of the vehicle and we were on STOP letting the vehicles on the right to pass.
These two men that had caught my eye with their sunglasses look totally familiar suddenly. Two names immediately came to mind. They had stopped walking too while waiting to cross. The younger man on the left has a slight build, erect posture, clean trendy hair cut wearing a black bomber jacket, black jeans, shirt and shoes and carrying a black canvass bag with a colorful printed logo but worn reversed. Who had been all this time gesturing his left hand and talking to the older man.
As for the older man he is in his late 50’s, short, lanky, sporting a shoulder-length loose hardly-combed bottle-colored black hair wearing an all black ensemble. He was holding hands with a younger (late ’20’s) attractive Asian woman who could either be Korean or Japanese. ( I’m betting on the former) She was wearing a typical fashion for the season, a beige outfit.
This appraisal happened in less than a minute. I have seen how they walk, their front sides. As they cross to the right, I followed them with my gaze and had to extend my neck to do so. I was embarrassed to stand because my seat mate was busy with his mobile. Right profiles, checked. And as they turned, back sides noted.
Are they really the personalities I am thinking about? I asked myself.
If they were not them, why would they be wearing those “very dark” sunglasses in an about to get dark surroundings. Because they could be spotted?
We are in a European city, we can also behave. And why not sprinkle us with some of your sparkles?
This incident was kind of surreal but on the other hand it’s also a confirmation that we can easily identify people even if we just know them through the media be it movies, TV, newspaper and of course the internet. Even if they were wearing sunglasses and out of their country of origin.
All because of familiarity.
I did not seek them. They were just there, being unavoidingly familiar.
Want to play Sherlock? These two well-respected and celebrated personalities played important roles in a film that won an award in the recently concluded Venice Film Festival.
Yeyeng, that was my Mother’s nickname. For me, it gives a calming sound specially if it is pronounced as “YEE-yeng”. Derived from Claring from her full-name Clarita, her younger sister, Auntie Fely tried as she might to say Claring came out as that, Yeyeng.
Being the eldest and started in her late teens, she helped her parents toil their farm. She rode the carabao with ease compared to boys her age. Wielding a scythe? No mean feat, be it grass or rice stalks. Field fire? She could outrun anybody while making sure she had a load of wet sacks for dousing the burning crops.
Green thumb runs in the family and she could revive a withering Orchid by talking to it or persuade vegetables with the likes of “upo, patola and ampalaya” to grow longer and rounder, by hanging round bottles and long logs of woods alongside the emerging vegetables.
Hardworking was her middle-name. Next to her mother, Inang Pina, she was the hardest working woman I know. Up before sunrise, she would open all windows and ask the Lord to let His “grace” be upon all of us and our household. And we all had to get up by then, of course!
But, her parents, Inang Pina and Amang Islaw, both called her “Kalaring”. Nanay, as we called her, and Inang Pina used to run a snack eatery and it drew crowds. Simple yet honest-to-goodness foods that make you want for more. Later, when my siblings and I were of school-age, she and our father also had a snack eatery that specialized in “Puto-Bumbong” which not only drew crowds but lines, as well! She made her own version of ” suman with latik” and would get hundreds of orders specially on holidays and even brought as “pasalubong” for Filipinos abroad.
And she even progressed to catering birthdays, weddings, parties, wakes etc. Was also consigned and had her own snack section in a famous high-end restaurant in a well-heeled shopping area. How she loved to drop names of famous celebrities who knew her by name!
Nanay’s education stopped in primary school but she was good in Math. English? She understood and she did speak it. And with wit and humor, too! (Please bear in mind that I am doing it for love and in memory of her).
In the latter part of her life, she went to church everyday and the first mass at that. Belonging to a women’s church group, the night before she would prepare her uniform, underwear and so on. If she could not find something, she would ask me or my sister Nina like , “Where is my happy slip?”
A hearty laugh would now echo through the whole house. We had corrected her so many times that the right term is “half-slip” but we think that she was really intentionally doing it just to make us all laugh. Or she would say, “I think the new hair condition that you bought is giving me dandruff!” Nanay, it’s “hair conditioner!” And she would laugh even harder than us!
There are still so many anecdotes about Nanay. This is just a peek into her meaningful and well-lived life. There are still so many facets on her attributes and talents. She amazed me with her simplicity, strength, native intelligence, cleanliness and preparedness. No matter what, her children’s needs came first.
Her quiet beauty ushered many suitors. She chose well. It was the witty and good looking guy with two moles on his left cheek, our Tatay.
Our father knew and admitted how lucky he was. And how lucky for us, her children to have her as Our Mother.
We love and miss you so much, Nanay. Please keep those windows open for us, your children and grandchildren. Your happy slip is on the left side of the closet. A blessed happy birthday!
The Jewish people celebrate their holidays on the evenings before the actual event. Like the Shabbat that starts on Friday nights.
Having a Jewish best friend (who is also like a sister, an aunt and a mother) I get her pampered attention the night before my birthday which helps me to prepare myself to the grand event.
A grand event in the sense of being given another “GO” to celebrate love and life.
Always been low-key in everything. Never seeking fame, fortune nor fanfare. A simple dinner with my family and closest friends suits me fine.
What I appreciate more on the actual day of my birth is how ecstatic I am that I have already reached this “certain age” when in actuality I still feel like – don’t laugh now, a 17 year old, which is a very practical age, not too young but not yet mature.
Ecstatic that, it opens up my mind to aspirations like: to be and let be, to accept everything as is, to enlighten spirituality, to restore balance, to embrace humanity, to pamper nature, to showcase art and music, and of course, as I said earlier to celebrate love and life in each and every moment.
That, I could in all respect not only aspire but sincerely practice and diligently do all these and apply them in my life.
Each bright new day to utter a prayer, to phrases like “of course” and “yes, that is great.” To hum a tune, offer a seat, give flowers, look up to the sky, say thank you or smile just smile. And with all of these, I pray;
For the divine reason that I am still here, I am very grateful and humbled.
But, don’t let the shivers get in the way. Have your coffee and get into your layered clothing and chunky jackets with bonnet, scarf, gloves and wooly boots. Then before going out of the door, brace yourself and …do your sunshiny smile. No way? No chance at all?
Ok, it’s winter that’s an acceptable reaction.
Spring. Great, the weather is better!
Buds are shooting out and days are brighter. But, still the long, knotted face? It’s windy? Hard on your eyes and hair, biking or walking is torture, you say! Look at the daffodils and the narcissus, how lovely ! Please smile for smile’s sake! Maybe, an almost smile? A tentative spring-y smile ?
Waiting for summer? It’s almost here! Will you smile by then?
Weather changes are just shallow excuses that can bring one down. Hidden reasons like family problems, relationship goals, financial obligations, school requirements, work crisis, health issues and life in general are the much profound weight that tied the long, knotted face.
Avoid asking “How”. Learned that from my father. You look and observe. Learn and experience it. But he did not warn me about the question “Why” because knowing him he would laughingly answers, “Why not”?
Why wait for summer? Or autumn for that matter.
It’s been said, written, sung and shared a millionth time how smiling can be beneficial to everybody.
Yes, you too!
Why not smile, starting now. In spite of all your sticky situations, aspire for smile goals. Delete that long knotted face. Do your sunshiny smile.
Michael Raedecker “Camouflage” March 18 – April 23, 2016 at GRIMM
A window rendered in gray immediately caught the eye. Reminds you of an icy winter dusk. Yet, it’s welcoming and reassuring comfort. At its back panel was another window this time done in grayish black. The dusk had turned into night. But, these two “regular” paintings are just preparations. For?
At the near left, a potted palm curtained in gray and dotted with several wine bottles. On the middle wall, another potted plant again in swatches of gray fabric all sticthed delicately onto an old rose canvass. Then, more potted house plants with looser gray curtains. The fabrics have some touch of the batik style.
To stitch or to embroider is an arduous process. Light, skillful hands are needed to pull the threads. Not tight, not loose but just so. For the creation to be perfect.
Come more grays in the form of woven fake fur cut-out precisely into a chair. A bigger and higher frame of this gray fake fur material was scissored and trimmed into seven waiting room chairs. Aptly, a cobweb image was not overlook. It was the most natural object you could expect for this gray fake fur medium. There was no spider in sight, though.
From afar, these frames look solid and heavy, as to quote the exhibit flyer written by Tom Morton, “chiseled from concrete.” Do go closer, and it is of course soft and light. Yet, arresting.
By the end corner of the room, something other than the color gray came into view. Patterned in smaller leaves, the swatches of fabrics are embroidered on soaked dark green canvass. It looked new, fresh and alive. That summer has arrived.
Raedecker’s chosen mediums are demanding and time consuming. You could almost grasp the sentiments of labor in his embroidery, his weaving and trimming. His objects had ceased to be ordinary. They had been chosen. To be seen closer. For an aesthetic rush.
“Camouflage” has blended well to its surrounding. ==<==<@
But unlike, holding an honest-to-goodness book be it borrowed, second-hand or new there is a certain sense of tenderness and charisma while turning its pages.
Those leaves of paper that when crisp and new could leave cuts on the fingers or tear and disintegrate when yellow and faded. Be it dog-eared, lined, clipped, filled with sticky notes or the normal paper marker for markings, there is that sensual attachment when holding a book.
Toss that unfathomable hard cover. Embrace the most favorite one. Go sleepless with that page-turner of a best seller. Adore all of them organized on the shelves or scattered on the floor.
They are permanent fixtures in my sphere. By the table, by the bed, in the bathroom. My bag is empty without one.
Reading a book is a very personal ritual. Like taking showers, I consider it both a necessity and a luxury. ==<==<@