Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cries of pain

to you I will not bow
nor blink an eye
cruelty and deceit
you’ve crushed my spirit

how dare you speak
of twisted lies
you have no remorse
of my constant cries

midnight shadows
lurk in the dark
through the windows
moon dressed in cloak

your sharp words like a dagger
pierce through my heart
your sweltering hand
harshly grips my neck

I cannot breath
my body limps
engulfed with heat
from limb to limb

roughly you swing
one hand over
the loss of your bearing
made you crave for more

swing after swing
infused your ignition
hostility becomes your ally
increasing with passion

blood gushes out
as I cry in pain
no one hears me
there’s none to gain

my eyes completely shut
from the wild clout they took
yours become wide
I can feel you are hooked

you left me in a heap
as you walked out the door
I rock myself to sleep
in a pool of deep horror

let the night be over
let the music begin
for when the morning comes
the birds will sing
the sun will come
so will the day
I will not bow

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ralph and his Magical Zucchini

Ralph has 22 zucchini plants, so we were told. I can't tell you more about Ralph because I barely know him, but he's got lots of zucchini, tomato plants and apricots. Word is, he's got money too—lot's of money. He lives alone and probably lonely—or not. He came by the house the other day and dropped off a bag of these fast growing green giants. He was telling us how one day they're just little buds, and like magic, the next day, full-grown greens ready to fulfill zucchini lovers' appetite. He said, you can literally see them grow if one stood long enough to watch. I wonder if he's done that before and spent the night with a zucchini plant. Did I already say he lives alone?

So yesterday, for dinner, I whipped up zucchini stir fry. First time! Organic extra virgin olive oil, garlic, green onion, tomato, thinly sliced pork, shrimp and julienne zucchini. Of course salt and pepper to taste. If the stench of fish sauce doesn't bother you, use that in lieu of salt. If you've never used fish sauce before, consider yourself warned! Serve over steamed white rice....mmmmm... buono!

Today, here's something I made. First time, too! Surprisingly, it turned out amazing if I may be so blunt. Here, try this!

Naughty Nutty Zucchini Bread

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated zucchini (do not drain off liquid)
  • 1 peeled and grated apple or crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts makes it Nutty
  • a jigger of fruit liquor makes it Naughty (totally optional)

  1. Grease and flour-dust or sugar-coat two loaf pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. In a medium bowl, mix and sift, flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon. If you don't feel like sifting, it's okay.
  3. In a large bowl, dump eggs (without the shells of course unless you want your zucchini bread to have that extra crunch), oil, vanilla, and sugar and get to work and develop good muscles with your whisk. Mixer works wonder especially if you're lucky to own a Kitchen Aid. Is it creamy? Yes? Then stop! Slowly add dry ingredients to the mixture, and beat or mix well. If you want to look like you've slaved yourself over these, go ahead, pour the dry mixture in one heap, and turn the mixer on high. 'Have a blast' (no pun intended). It will be very sticky, but this is not the time to worry. Stir in (do not use a mixer at this point) zucchini, apple and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans. Now worry. The oven is hot!
  4. Bake for 30, rotate pans, and bake for an additional 15-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and on cooling rack. If you're like me, cut into it when it's still warm. Slap a generous spread of butter and let it melt in your mouth. Ah, this is soul food! Stays moist for days and they freeze well.
When baking, don't be afraid to use your imagination and be creative but most of all, have fun! Very seldom I follow a recipe to a T. Some turn out to be flops and most turn out to be good, and better the next.

Tomorrow, pork and zucchini kebobs.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

A night spent in the garage

It was just a few minutes before midnight after a long three and a half hour drive from the coast when I pulled into the driveway of the totally empty Grangeville house. A long refreshing shower was in order and I know this was the place to take one. As I enter the side door from the garage, I announced my presence to the emptiness with a tune from the 1982 movie, Annie that went like this, 'the sun will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, come what may . . .' Forgetting the line that came after that, I decided to whistle instead. I imagined Mr. Warbuck probably whistled better than I did and would have had a better way of masking his fear, if any. Flashlight in hand, this tune carried me throughout the round to make sure all four walls and windows of each empty room were intact. When satisfied and convinced myself that all the bad spirits have left the empty building, I opened the garage door and by design, backed the car into the garage in case of a quick and easy getaway . . . well, now is not the time to think about ghosts and goblins. I rummaged through a small suitcase in the trunk to find a fresh set of clothes to change into.

Not wanting to alarm anyone in the neighborhood, I decided to leave all the lights out except for the lamp on auto timer that was lit on the kitchen counter. It gave enough light in the hallway to the bathroom as long as the door was left open. So, left open it was. The much needed shower was soothing, and instantaneously washed my fear away. It was short-lived—so was my shower. Thinking I heard a scuffing noise from the kitchen, I quickly rinsed, shut off the water, dried off, dressed, brushed my teeth, all in a matter of five minutes. 'Forget the lotion' I thought. Gathering my belongings was done in a jiffy. I already knew where to spend the night—in the car—in the garage.

Like a stranger in the night and making sure that no traces were left in the house, I made for the car, locked myself in, and did a quick check. Flashlight, keys, garage door opener, cracked-open windows for air, and to fill the hunger pain—a Fiber Bar. I decided to opt out on the latter in case it did its job before the sun came out. The thought of having to run to the bathroom in the dark made my stomach more nervous. After a long hard day, it wasn't difficult to doze off as soon as my head hit the lumbar pillow that often traveled with me in the car.

I'd like to think I was already fast asleep and just dreaming about the noises that came that night and the people peering through the dusty, spider web-covered-blinds that hung sloppily over the garage window. I've always wondered why a window and such a large one in a garage. In the 'dream,' an older woman was peering through the crack of the car window inviting me to go inside where it was more comfortable while Papa and Meme paced outside by the window calling out my name. This seem to have gone on forever until I woke up at the first crack of dawn. My mobile phone read 5:16 a.m. Drowsy, a bit confused and aware of the ever presence of knots and kink in my neck, I sat up and decided to move to the passenger seat. Placing my computer bag on the floor and reclining the seat, I was able to get a good stretch and slept till 8 with no interference. I should have taken the passenger seat from the start.

The house that goes back three generations was under the care of property management and I didn't want to be found in the premise should he show up with prospect renters. It was still early, so I decided there was time to put lotion on after my morning shower.

As I roam the dairy farm town that morning and right through the early afternoon, hunger pain struck so I decided to stop at Panera for a bite to eat. As I situated myself comfortably in a booth with an Asian salad and a turkey panini, I decided to write about last night's dream. The night's experience in the garage was so vivid that when I was about to start typing on my computer, the most unusual thing happened. I had hairs standing up and it made me wonder . . .

I never had the opportunity to meet her, but they called her Grama Van.

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Place I call Home

What is a Home? How should a Home feel like? Where is Home?

Not sounding like a nomad, these are some of the questions that come to mind when I'm battling with 'nostalgia.' I once had a home—a beautiful home. Not so much in a physical or structural sense but the unmistakably oozing warm feeling of homeyness. Toys strewn and two boys running around making their presence known. The occasional loving and sometimes not-so-loving screams of defense from one child to the other was their way of relating and making sure that someone especially a parent was listening. The fuss made over a spilled hot chocolate on a rug that had every flavor of each day's family meal only played a small part on a chapter about growing pains and growing up. The aroma of home-cooked meals that permeated the walls including a hand woven wall decor that hung ominously above the family room brown sofa was hard to forget especially after a two day cook-a-thon in preparation for a Christmas eve dinner and later finding out that the offensive-to-some smell during Midnight Mass was made up of the family's Christmas dinner menu. My eyes wander among the various ethnic groups during an Advent hymn as I try to match the different smells that lingers in the packed church. I can bet the 'collection basket' that a perfect match each time was right on the money.

Sounds like a stinking chaos? But it's my definition of 'Home'—a real Home! Not according to Merriam Webster or Wikipedia or anyone else for that matter. I yearn to be in that kind of home again. A place to call my own, to do whatever I darn well please. Where without fear of complexity, bacon will sizzle in a frying pan and tilapia fish baking in the oven will send out a stench as far as the Carmel river runs. Where I could freely walk around naked and not have to worry about anyone seeing my unwanted hanging love handles as a sign of a well-fed soul. So maybe the latter is just a bit much and won't stand a chance but it's definitely going on my Bucket List.

Here's a letter I wrote to a friend shortly after the move to a place that briefly felt like Home:

Yes, we’re just about settled in at our new place. What I love most about the area is the beauty of nature that surrounds us. Looking out from our third floor apartment living room windows are lush green mountains with a few houses randomly slapped on them. From our small veranda, if allowed, one can almost touch the various birds that land on the huge pine tree with limbs that partly dip into our balcony. Yesterday, a Wood Pecker worked a hole and today was a Blue Jay that landed on a large pine cone. Directly behind the apartment building, although pricey, is a nice little market to make a quick run for basic necessities. Yes, they even carry a lot of organic produce and serves a variety of hot meals for the Village yuppies and worker bees. This small quaint village of Carmel offers about half a dozen wine tasting outfits and a variety of cozy restaurants and a neat little library where a free membership was issued without any troubles.

Tourists flock here mostly on weekends, and soon, the entire summer. Waking up to the song of birds and the scent of pine trees that travel through the slightly opened windows along with the rays of morning sunshine is refreshing especially when mixed with a hint of eucalyptus flowed in from the nearby trails. At night, the chorus of frogs can be heard from a river a mile away. That, combined with the sound of the neighbor's soothing wind chime is something that makes me wish of breezy nights.

About 4 miles into the mouth of Carmel is Garland Ranch Park where we hike. Among many wild animals, it is known to inhabit mountain lions, rattle snakes and poison oaks. Fortunately I have only encountered the latter and quickly learned to recognize their season colors and avoid them. I hike alone when a partner is unavailable . The feeling when on top of the mountain looking down at Lupine loop that marked my starting point, and the winter green mountains that cradle the village is exhilarating. No fear for mountain lions will take that away. Not even the two-legged creatures they strongly warn female hikers of.

It was an honest feeling that seem to have dissipated too quickly by a force of random disposition. The recipient of this letter responded with a "wow" and adding "this was written beautifully and very descriptive. Thank you for allowing me to participate and giving me the feeling of being there."

I hope to someday feel like I have a Home again, and where? Who knows. Like the healer of all wounds, Time will tell.

This photo of a mother Dove with her two babies on a glass pie plate is a classic example of 'being Home.' The 'pie plate-turned-nest' sat on a corner pillar of a patio gazebo built between the house and a swimming pool. The Dove, oblivious to the small gathering in the gazebo cooed as she played with her babies.
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