Too Much of a Good Thing

Too much of anything is bad.  Even the good things.

I love to try different ways of preparing food.  I am not as adventurous as O – like I probably wouldn’t eat fried locusts or really spicy foods but food is one of the highlights of our travel. 

I’ve discovered in my advancing years that there is merit to smaller portions if trying out new flavors.  Although the number of dishes to be served I would be comfortable with is around 5 or 6 at most.  Anything beyond just confuses my palate and is no longer enjoyable for me.  Some cousins tried some molecular cuisine and the set was composed of 12 dishes.  Small servings, enough for 4 bites or so – but still a lot!

We were in Manila the other day and went on a food trip with a friend.  He took us to this new Basque restaurant, Vask, which served fusion Basque dishes.  Although it was interesting, it was too experimental for my taste.  It’s one of those restaurants where you think it is good immediately after you have the meal but when you get home, you decide that you will not be going back.

Unlike one of our mainstay restaurants, Sala, which is French/Italian cuisine.  Now that restaurant is on our to-visit list every time we are in Manila.  Sala serves good food.  Nothing extraordinary, nothing shocking, some slight experimentations, but on the whole just good food.  Just enough familiarity to make it cozy and just enough experimentations to make me want to return time and again to check out what’s new.

Last night as O was watching Iron Chef, I was thinking of our weekend food trip, I had this urge to eat canned foods – spam, sardines.  It must be my body and mind rebelling.  I can not sustain such interest in fine food.  I need variety.  I was even thinking, what’s the point of all those fancy plating or clever combinations of spices/ flavours?  There is only so much anyone can take.  Last night I even had a blasphemous thought – such culinary preparations are so pretentious.

Ah, but I know in a few weeks time I will be back to my usual self, excited over the prospect of a fine meal.  I just need some about-face outlook in food to balance out the excesses of last weekend’s culinary overload

Saigon

On the strength of the interest of the boys in the Cu Chi tunnels, we decided on Saigon for our bonus travel courtesy of our award tickets from accumulated mileage.

And I thought two hours would be enough.  I was wrong.  We were there almost 3 hours and I still think we could’ve stayed longer.  As it is the tour was kind of rushed.  In this instance, we joined a tour to better understand and learn about the Vietnam War and the famous tunnels.

I never thought the tunnel networks, and we only saw a sample, would be so interesting.  

War is of course never welcome and brings untold miseries and sufferings.  But it has happened and we learned a lot on the tactics the Vietcongs used to fight the war.  Their torture traps and hideaways made for a very interesting tour.  

We chose to go down the shortest tunnel to see how it felt living underneath the ground.  And to think they had widened the entrance to accommodate Westerners, still it was very oppressive down there.  The air was dank and humid.  I was crouching while moving forward, sometimes squatting – like a duck walk.  It would probably have been better if we crawled but I didn’t want to dirty my knees.  That was only 20 meters but was I glad when we got to the steps going up.  The fresh air was delicious.  And the sunshine …  good.

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Afterwards we went to the War Museum, which was of course pro-Vietcong.  The bias is very obvious but as a good tourist, I kept quiet and just rushed through some of the photos that were very one sided.  The uniforms, guns, bomb fragments and other memorabilia made for an educational hour.  That is the most I could stand reading about the war.  Afterwards the boys posed with the tanks, aircrafts and other war machines outside while I browsed their mini bookstore.  I wanted to buy a book to better understand what happened to the country.  I didn’t want a foreigner’s point of view.  I didn’t want a military point of view.  One book caught my eye.  I don’t know why.  I bought it and when the guide saw the book I bought, she told me that it was one of the more popular books in the country.  It is taken from a diary of a doctor who was killed during the war.  Her diaries were found on her person.

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I read it when I got home.  Very poignant.  She doesn’t speak ill of both sides.  She mostly talks about the people she treats.  She also talks about the hardships of being a doctor in the jungle.  All in all, a riveting book but sad.  I was tired after reading the book.  It’s one of those that makes you think and sigh.

And not to forget that one of the reasons we chose Saigon is for the food.  It did not disappoint.  Well the fancy restaurant disappointed.  It was the street foods that captivated me.  I don’t know how many germs we ingested by eating food that was cooked on the sidewalk and prepared by the vendors with nary a glove in sight.  But hey, it tasted good.  And our tummies were ok the whole trip.

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I liked Saigon.  Someday, I will return.

Ignore

There are times when the significant other can be insensitive.  I don’t know if it comes with age though that would certainly be a more acceptable reason than if I think he just likes to needle me.  Some jokes are no longer funny. 

Maybe he thinks he is being clever.  Maybe it is I who is becoming more sensitive in my older years.

Whatever, I was hurt.  So I kept quiet.  No point in prolonging the hurt by talking to him.  Maybe he is andropausal.  

I did my thing.  I listened to music, did some office work, danced a bit and surfed the net.  I feel better now.  Best I ignore him for now.  Things might simply escalate if I engage him in conversation and allow him to hurt me more, if indeed he is  andropausal.  

I know I’ll forget this by tomorrow.  I always do.

Devil Sunday

We spent last Sunday with the Ducati Diavel. It was the first time we would be taking the mistress out for a longish ride. The route would take us from Bacolod City through the back twisty roads towards the east to Canlaon where we would have breakfast then on to San Carlos City for lunch. A 240km ride. The original route that is.

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 9.45.25 PM   The actual route we took.  320km.

A group of 14 bikers, members of the Thunderbugs met up at 8am for a group ride. I was the only pillion rider. I confess I had an ulterior motive for tagging along with O. It has been 5 years since I had been to Canlaon and we were thinking of opening a branch in that town.

Off we went. At first it was a good ride. Not much traffic and good cement roads. I loved it. I was close to O, unlike the GS1200 where the pillion seemed to be in a different world from the driver. We made good time and was having breakfast of chicken soup, rice and noodles (this is Asia after all). I had enough time to see the place and the group met up with a rider from a nearby city. He convinced the group to do a sidetrip to this 400yr old Balete (Banyan) tree. So off we went after breakfast with him leading the way in his pick-up.

Wow, rough roads galore, and some mud too. But magnificent views. We rode slowly. It wasn’t so bad. But of course I felt every rock and pothole we passed unlike the GS1200 where we would probably have coasted through with nary an ouch. Unspoiled nature, green rice fields, a small lake – it was nice weather too. All in all it was a good side trip. 

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On the way back to the main road, the guys suggested I ride the pick-up so that 1. primarily for O to have a lighter load while going through the rough roads and 2. for me to protect my behind. I think number 2 was just an afterthought. We were crammed in that pick-up with our gear, I think I was more comfy riding pillion with O. There were 4 other guys who had left their bikes at the breakfast place and had decided to go with the pick-up. I didn’t know that. I thought everyone was on their bikes. So yeah, it wasn’t that comfy a ride in the pick-up.

Next stop was supposed to be San Carlos just an hour away. The guys had a quick huddle. They wanted to check out a new beach resort in another city several kilometers away. Everyone agreed, so a change of plan.

The several kilometers turned out to be almost 35kms one way. What was bad was that the rough roads were in between really good ones. So you have O at more than 100kph when suddenly uh-oh, unpaved roads ahead. I flew off the seat several times there. As in my feet were off the pegs and not a few times the pegs flipped up and I had to feel around with my feet to redeploy them. By the time we got to the resort, we were all hungry and my knees were in pain I could not support my body on one leg to dismount. My knees on the Diavel were slightly higher than my hips plus I was leaning forward, it put quite a strain on the knees. My goodness, I felt so old as I had to put the other leg on the seat and slowly slide down to dismount. Kind of embarrassing.

Close to an hour of rest and a pizza meal (that was the fastest meal to prepare) had me almost as good as new. Doubling back towards the original San Carlos destination, I was better prepared and supported my body on the pegs every time we got to a bridge approach or to what I think are rough patches. That eliminated flying off the seat. I had more control. But then I didn’t expect the next hurdle, bumpy roads. There I was rapidly bouncing on the seat and almost vibrated off to one side. I had to hold on to O and haul myself back to the center of the seat. That was bad. During that time I certainly missed our GS1200, which we have chirstened Bruni, short for Brunhilde.

When we had our gasoline stop at San Carlos, at least I was able to dismount properly. The knees weren’t so bad. But I told O that I hope we take the last leg of the journey leisurely – as in below 100kph. Funny Benji jokingly asked if my libido had increased with all that vibration. I told him that even with the increased libido, the body most certainly will not cooperate what with the soreness on the butt, the shoulders (from holding on to O) and the knees.

And when there was no pressure to keep up on the way back home, the ride was again enjoyable.

I must say I love the Diavel on the turns, some almost 180 degrees. There was none of the trepidation that I had while riding pillion on Bruni. It is a good ride even on rough roads, if riding alone, without a group to keep up. It is an exciting ride. Fun. Exhilirating. But for long rides, I guess I would have to stick with our Bruni.

As O would reiterate, the GS1200 feeds his hunger. The Diavel feeds his soul.

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Speck

Something was blocking my left eye vision a while ago.  There seemed to be something stuck in my lashes.

I used my fingers to try to extricate whatever it was.  I expected a big blob from my eyeliner but when I took a look at my finger, a very small speck! 

There really is truth to that saying that a small problem can become a catastrophe if you are very close enough to the matter.  Step back, and the problem becomes negligible.

Opinionated

I have a facebook account, not as active as my blog but it serves a purpose. 

It is getting toxic over there.  Contacts, and I only have 79, keep sharing links of opposite opinions regarding the disaster here in my country.  You have those who support the government and say they are doing the best they can.  Then there are those who criticize the ineptness of the government and insult the president.  

When did people get so opinionated?  Some words are so vitriolic it is a bit depressing reading them.  Then you have those who share and react over news items that are sometimes proven to be false.  Where has circumspection gone?  

I am dismayed.

Wax On

O started waxing his jacket last night, to water and thorn proof it since the original dressing has worn off.  He finished 1/4.  I did a little last night too.  It was quite relaxing.  So tonight, while O was out, I waxed the other side of his jacket.

See what a devoted wife I am.

Anyway, I warmed the tin of wax to soften it – by standing the can in a tub of hot water.  Then I went into the bathroom so it would be warm, as that is what the instruction said.  One should apply the wax during warm weather for the jacket to better absorb the dressing.  The things a wife must do.  

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It was good exercise.  I tried to use both arms and I could feel my “wings” flexing.  Quite hypnotic too and addicting.  I was listening to ABBA as my mind wandered while waxing on the jacket.  Just wax on, no wax off.  I finished the whole front part.  And I didn’t know how to turn over the jacket without smearing the floor with the wax.  So I hung it, waiting for O to come home.  

I was looking at some portions of the sleeve.  It bothered me to see unwaxed portions.  And so I thought to do just one more panel.  And when that was done.  I saw that the panel above that wasn’t so big and so I did that too.  O came home and I finally stopped after  finishing one sleeve.  Very addicting.

Semantics

Our weather bureau gave ample warning before the typhoon.  They mentioned the possibility of a STORM SURGE.  I didn’t know what a storm surge was and I read a lot.  I am sure the majority of the people in the affected areas heard the words but did not actually know what a storm surge was.

Somebody suggested in the aftermath, for future considerations, if maybe they could use the word tsunami or tidal wave since these terms were more common and were easily understood by the people.  You mention these two terms and a definite image with its effects forms clearly in the minds of most if not all.

But no, the head of the weather bureau says it wasn’t a tsunami or a tidal wave that hit.  A tsunami is a result of volcanic movements and a tidal wave is caused by the moon’s movements.  Well yes, if you have to be technical about it.  But if it will help people to understand, can’t they bend the rules a little?

Those devastated cities/towns experienced a storm surge of waves up to 5meters high.  It inundated the city within minutes.  That is incomprehensible to most.  Now, if they had said a tidal wave was expected, now that – people would know the effects.  In fact that is how all people on the ground are describing how the water from the sea came in …  like a tsunami or a tidal wave.

I am no academic, preferring to get my message across rather than be by the book.  I don’t know how the majority would react though to the bastardization of terms that some are proposing.

I Need a Break

I saw the extent of the damage of the typhoon last Sunday.  I didn’t realize that the island where the typhoon made second landfall was that devastated.  No wonder we couldn’t contact any of our people there.

On Monday, a supervisor personally went to the place from a neighboring island to check on them.  It was total chaos.  Our branch had no roll up doors and no roof.  But thankfully all employees were located although one is so traumatized that he still seems dazed as of yesterday.  There is no local government – some are dead, some are missing …  the rescuers need rescuing too.

I was thinking that the devastation was wrought last Friday morning.  Saturday, the world tried to contact the city but no go.  We should’ve gone Sunday.  That way aid would’ve reached them a day earlier.  One day makes a whole lot of difference.

My head is swimming.  Unlike the earthquake last year which was concentrated in one town and the earthquake this year which was concentrated in one island, this typhoon affected us in four islands.  In total, 7 branches need assistance with 2 in a major way. 

In fact I think we will have to close down one branch.  There is nothing there but debris and death. 

I need this break.  Just a few minutes break writing.  The second tranche of relief goods for the hardest hit was dispatched today, while those slightly hit has left just now.  There will be another delivery this Friday for construction supplies for employees’ homes.

I do not donate to other relief efforts.  We help our own and their family.  In a way, it does help alleviate the burden on the government.

And I thought our disaster planning manual would make us better prepared.  It needs more work, it needs more planning.

My head is clearer now.  Back to work.

A Girl?

I suspect our eldest who will soon be off to university, is interested in a girl.  His mobile has been glued to his hand these past few months.  And the other night, nearing midnight as I was checking that all windows were closed, I caught him in the spare room texting on his mobile. Hmmm.  I just told him to turn on the AC so he won’t be too hot in the room.  I didn’t tease him at all.

I wonder who the girl is.  I can not imagine he is texting a male friend, that late in the night and so frequently.  It must be a girl.

Oh well, I hope he has good taste.