The Year of Pleasures – Elizabeth Berg


There’s one thing about going to the hospital alone – the wait time allows me to start or finish a good book.  In April when I started visiting doctors to see what was up with the never ending cold that I had since the year started, I took The Watchmen with me. Many times though, I found myself not being able to concentrate on reading so I only managed a couple of chapters.  This time around, Elizabeth Berg was my chosen company.  I had the book The Year of Pleasures with me when we went to Baler – it appealed to me like a book fit to read while on vacation. I thought about reading while we were on the road but it was impossible with the bumpiness of the ride, and also because I found admiring the view of the countryside a better pastime.  While Alfred was taking a siesta (still at Baler), I was out at the 2nd floor verandah, put my feet up and started to read. But the cool breeze and the lightness of the surroundings just took over me.  I felt that the afternoon was too beautiful to just spend on reading.  So I gathered the kids who were with us  and tried to do something with them instead (right before heading to the water again!).

Today, I finally finished the novel.

I’ve read Berg’s True to Form and Never Change and remembered really being moved by both stories.  I knew what I was in for when I picked this one up.

The Year of Pleasures is about Betta Nolan who lived a very happy life with her husband John. But the novel isn’t about Betta and John really, because the novel starts after his death.  Betta sells their home, and then drives to the midwest in search of a new life.  It’s wonderful how she found her new home, made new friends, but also reconnected with old ones – friends from before she met her late husband.

The book showed me that there is no single proper way to grieve the loss of a loved one. But it’s also a good resource for someone who may be suffering, so that she may find strength and pleasure in everything that happens around her, even in the small things.

It talked to me about dreaming too. And that it’s never too late to pursue something, specially when it is what will make your heart happy and your life full.

It also made me aware of how true it is for some of us women to totally lose ourselves in our relationships. Not lose in the sense that we have no identity, but… That we get too engrossed in our own little couple-world that we shut everyone else out – without meaning to.

It gave me comfort that Betta reconnected with her college roommates whom she hasn’t seen nor heard from in decades. They remained friends, but they never forgot her. It was amazing how they were automatically there for her when she let them know she needed them. No resentment. That’s what true girlfriends are about.

I fell in love with Betta’s house and her new neighborhood. I could live there, I would love to live that life. I love the idea of her quaint shop – What A Woman Wants, though if it was me, I’d setup a pastry shop/bookshop.

But I was also thinking how stupid it was to move in to a new place, all by yourself, and not install an alarms system! I mean Jovani (a character in the book) had a point – what if someone came in through the door and you didn’t hear it? I lived in a quiet neighborhood and I was left on my own a lot of times, even when I was younger. But no matter how safe you feel, it’s still better to be secured. I know that installing alarms systems is not the norm in most Philippine households, but Betta’s in the States – she should know better! Haha.

There are gems of wisdom in the book, but what stuck with me was a line John spoke to Betta – Don’t let your habits become handcuffs.  Just become you’ve been used to something doesn’t mean you can’t do it a different way or have something else entirely.

Sometimes I think about what will happen to me if the boyfriend dies…

Then I was also thinking, having been away from work for three days because of these flu-like symptoms, that I really don’t want to work anymore. And it’s not because I hate work, or that I don’t like what happens at work. No. Because I was actually happy to be at work these past two weeks. Conflicting, aren’t I? Hear me out.  I like what I do there, but I know I could be happier doing something else. So I think that’s what I’m going to work on.  I will prepare my life so that I can leave and do what I really want. It’s going to take a long time to get where I want to be to do this, but I will work on it.  If I can make half my current month’s salary doing what I love to do, I will quit my full time job. Seriously.  I don’t want to wait until a tragedy happens (like in Betta’s case) before I find an excuse to be daring and to live the life I’ve been imagining for myself.

(It’s probably not going to happen, but it’s good to think about these things, you know? Haha)

I just dug through my blog archives, and you know what I’ve found? This book has been on my to-be-read pile since September 2008! Crazy!

Visit the link below to buy the book from Amazon, or to read reviews from others. And if you’ve read it, tell me what you think okay?

Food and smiles brighten up a dreary day

If you’ve been following my Tweets, or my Plurks (see the widget on my sidebar), you know that I’ve been pretty much under the weather. Okay – a lot under the weather.  And today, well, the visit I’d been anticipating (read my second and third posts down) has already arrived. So there are two things causing my body aches and pains – acute upper respiratory tract infection (it’s not the flu, doc says) and menstruation. Ugh.

So after the doctor’s visit yesterday morning, I walked home. Good thing there was only a drizzle, so my teensy little umbrella gave me enough coverage. I arrived home and found my brother cooking lunch. I had thought he’d have gone by then, but his plans changed apparently. He was cooking an all-time favorite – Chicken Cola. The weather was perfect for having tinola but we didn’t have ingredients for it so kuya opted to make this other comfort food.

Yes, I consider Chicken Cola as one of my comfort foods. We all love it here. Perhaps not because of its sweetness, but because of it brings us back to our childhood. At least it does that to me. No, I don’t have images from the past going through my mind when I eat it, but the feeling is there. The simplicity of life, and the love of family. So when I don’t feel well, chicken cola can help pick me up.

chicken cola

This photo does not do chicken cola any justice. I’m guessing my brother didn’t add enough ketchup to make it redder. It looks quite pale doesn’t it?

Anyway, another comfort food I had yesterday was banana with cheese spread. Ahh. Simple pleasures.  Who does not love cheese or cheese spreads? I mean even dogs love them right? And we’ve had Cheese Whiz on bananas since we were kids. I never get tired of it.

banana with cheese spread

I realize now that the photo has some R-18 likeness to it, sorry that was never intended. Haha.

Eating gave me a temporary comfort, but the headache still came in the evening, causing me to miss out on AJ boy’s birthday dinner. I had all intentions to take photos of his well-wishers, his cake, and all his cuteness. But I slept through it.

I do have a photo of this sweet little boy from earlier that afternoon:

birthday boy

Omakase lunch

When I decided to get the Elba, I told myself I was not going to spend on anything else for photography. That meant not signing up for photography workshops, and not getting additional gear. If I wanted to get anything camera/photography related, I’d have to earn from either baking or blogging to get the money for it.

Well yesterday, I went against that decision.

Jo mentioned earlier this week how she wanted to checkout a camera shop that is said to have Hidalgo prices – without having to actually go to Quiapo. I looked up their Multiply site and went gaga at so many things. So we set a date for Saturday afternoon. I asked my friend Edsel to be there too – we need to be sure we’re buying the right stuff and not just be swayed by the sales people right?

So off to the camera shop we went, and I ended up getting a UV CPL filter/polarizer, and a +10 macro filter. Jo ended up not getting a filter, but she did go home with a tripod.

There were other things I would have wanted to take home but I had to stop somewhere.

The original plan was to go home in the morning after my shift, and meet with everyone at Il Terrazo at Morato extension where the FotoHub was located.  But I didn’t finish my work as early as intended, so I ended up staying there til 12. Alfred came by, and we went to lunch at Omakase (also at Il Terrazo) and waited there for both Jo and Edsel (who arrived separately of course).

Of course we ordered my favorite salmon sashimi, but we also ordered a couple of other things:


The American Dream

omakase 2

Rising Sun

omakase-jap potato salad

Japanese Potato Salad

The only one I didn’t really like was the Japanese Potato Salad. It tasted more like french fries/potato wedges than salad. 🙁 It was a full meal though, we were stuffed even though these don’t look much.

I feel bad though that I couldn’t ask Jo to spend the afternoon shooting around with our D60’s.  I was just so sleepy already! 🙁

I deserve chocolates!

super shiny T-zone was just the tip of the iceberg.

At work last night, I started feeling woozy like my neck and my head were weighing me down. Seriously.  I went to the clinic but I had no fever as it turns out. I was given a pill for body aches and the nurse said that it could be the colds that causing the headache.

Methinks it’s another to be blamed on PMS.

And it probably means that I will have an even worse time when AuntFlo comes around. Yay me! :S

Yesterday, I really wanted to share this photo:


I made truffles last week and, as expected, it was a smashing hit 🙂

I mixed another batch yesterday, but I didn’t get to coat them with chocolate. My brother agreed to pick up what I needed for a makeshift double boiler (what I used before was already thrown out) but he got caught up in traffic so he had to head straight home rather than stay on the road during color-coding hours.  I tried melting chocolate using the microwave oven but I couldn’t get it right! No melting today either thanks to the aches.

I hope it goes away this weekend – I need to be well so I can finally bake something!

Shiny T-zone

gatsby-usedIf you know what this is, well I’m sorry you had to look at it. If you don’t, then… I just hope I don’t offend your sensibilities when you find out what it is!

We had clients at work, and they’re on very important business. People were busy, including myself (though not necessarily because they were around).  Everytime I went to the ladies room, I cringed to look at my face starting back at me through the mirror. It was suuppppeeerrrr oily. As in.

Add to the extra shiny T-zone is a huge zit just above my left eyebrow.  Then there’s a tiny one at the corner of my left eye.  I feel a bump on my nose too. Waaaaaaahhhhh!!!!

I guess it’s near that time of the month again – if it’s actually coming around this month. 🙁

If I carried lipstick around with me, I probably would have put some on this unwelcome zit. Do you do that? Put lipstick on your pimples? I don’t remember ever trying that so I don’t know if it worked. I did use toothpaste before, they helped dry out the zit faster I guess.  When you’re growing up and your face starts to get dotted with pimples, you’ll hear a lot of people say that you’ll be getting your first period soon. Then you’ll definitely receive a lot of tips on treatments for acne and people will swear by their proven methods.

But eventually, you realize you don’t need treatment. Your skin eventually clears up, ready for more when the next month comes rolling in.

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