Friday, September 26, 2008

"My Husband Rocks" Friday - 2008.39

Al rocks because he is such a sweet man.

He always takes my hand and lovingly kisses its back. I feel like a nice and dainty lady from the Victorian days. Wouldn't you, too? In this time and age, I think that's precious!

(In the Philippines, we have a tradition of mano where in a younger person greets an older person by touching the back of the older person's hand to younger person's forehead a sign of respect. Granted, I am older than Al...I don't think he is doing the mano! I would like to think )

Twice in the last 2 weeks as I was multi-tasking again - laptop on lap while watching TV at the same time...As I reached out to my back to plug the power cord to the wall outlet (which was just behind my seat), my dear husband anticipated what I was going to do and plugged it in for me. Even if he was seating on the next chair and further from the wall outlet!

I think that he is taking this verse seriously:

"Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner..."
1 Peter 3:7

Well, I don't mind that at all!!!

That is why my husband rocks!!!


How about you? Why does your husband rock? Join us as we focus on our husband's (or wife, or husband-to-be, or wife-to-be) strengths and potentials. Write about it and go link to Katy Lin's blog on the latest "My Husband Rocks" Friday post.

And Katy Lin has a contest with lots of prizes to celebrate her and Austin's first anniversary cum MHR contest. (Two of the prizes are my favorite - the His "my wife rocks" and Hers "my husband rocks" shirts from From*me Tees!) Go check out her blog and get a chance to win! Contest ends on 12MN Thu 10/2. Winners to be announced the next day Fri 10/3.

Have a great week-end!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Waiting for the Crape Myrtle to Bloom

Fall is here...

The crape myrtle leaves are starting to turn red and brown. Has it just been a few months since Al planted them by himself? Yes, he planted the trees himself - he perseveringly (is there such a word?) dug through the solid limestone 1 hole a day for each of the 8 trees/shrubs!

(The Mexicans I contracted with never returned after digging a few holes, discovering solid limestone a few inches below the top soil and renegotiating the price - mucho trabajo... otro precio...)

Anyway, here are the "fruits" of Al's hard labor. They were taken early in the summer. It's just too precious not to share ... Enjoy!

Waiting for the Tres Marias to bloom...

July 2
1st crape myrtle tree planted. 1st buds.

July 12
10 days later...Same tree, same buds. 1 flower has broken out!

July 20
18 days later...Same tree, same buds. All flowers are out!

The other crape myrtle tree surprised us when one day, it was full of blooms.

The Tres Marias from a different angle...

"Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation:
seed-bearing plants and
trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it,
according to their various kinds."
And it was so.
The land produced vegetation:
plants bearing seed according to their kinds and
trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.
And God saw that it was good.
And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day."

Genesis 1:11-13 (NIV)


Friday, September 19, 2008

"My Husband Rocks" Friday - 2008.38

(SUBTITLE: Of Puppies, Legos and Nephews)

Al loves children. He thinks that all babies of different species are all cute though. He thinks that...


No kidding! He is quickly enamored with babies. (See how he lovingly cups Timmy's head with his hands?)

Al enjoys playing with children, too.When we visited my sister in Winnipeg, he entertained the kids for sometime while the adults were visiting. He modified the dodgeball so that it is appropriate for my 3-8 year old relatives.

Closer to home, Al is Josh (his nephew) favorite playmate. (Of course, that is only after his Dad, his hero.) When we visit them, Josh gets so excited that he literally jumps up and down. Josh knows he can use his lambing voice on Al because he knows Al won't resist. Al lovingly obliges.

And did I tell you Al loves Lego too? Here is the Scorpion that has inspired Josh's latest insect Lego builds.

That is why My Kid-At-Heart Husband Rocks!


How about you? Why does your husband rock? Join us as we focus on our husband's (or husband, or husband-to-be, or wife-to-be) strengths and potentials. Write about it and go link to Katy Lin's blog on the latest "My Husband Rocks" Friday post. (It's her 1st wedding anniversary on Monday, so why don't you visit her blog and greet her!)

Have a great week-end!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Where Do I Park the Boat?

Perhaps, here?
Really, I did not know that these places exist!

Actually, it is not a boat parking. It is actually the storage of rental boats of Aquaholics.

Anyhow, the Director of Al's department sponsored an outing in Lake Travis on a barge. According to Al, they anchored at some place in the Lake and they started jumping out of the barge to play in the water. (Al did not though.) Beware the water snake! Yikes!!!

Meanwhile, Al discovered that Aquaholics also rent out pontoons (small boat with "balancers" on each side of the boat) for about $65/hour. So one of these days, we will go.

I am not very comfortable with it though... no one among us have done it before. Although our neighbor said it was easy to control and navigate. But what if the pontoon tips over? (that's why it has balancers!) What if there are water snakes? what if???

Any of you tried this already? Send me tips (aside from the sunblock and the life vest)...

Anyhow, I'm sure I'll get over those. And when we eventually go, you will see the photos here too!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Before Fall Arrives...

The last 2 nights have been nice cool evenings at about 70F. According to Mr Weatherman, the temperatures were going to be as low as 59F.

So I thought before Fall is officially ushered in next Monday 9/22, I'd like to share the pretty flowers I took pictures on throughout the summer. (Asterisk * after the flower name denotes that the flower can be found in the Philippines, too. At least, as far as I know.)

Crape Myrtle* (Arboreteum)

Lantana* (HighPointe)

Orchid* (San Antonio Botanical Garden)

Texas Sage

Plumbago (HighPointe) - I am guessing the flower name here...

Esperanza (Hula Hut) - this is the same flower plant that Al got us for our anniversary last June.

'Katie' Ruellia (HighPointe)

Cherry or Penstemon Sage (HighPointe) - Hummingbirds love these!

I don't know what this is... (San Antonio Botanical Garden)

Dahlia* (Econolodge, San Antonio)

Weed flowers (our backyard :) ) - flowers are about 5 mm.

Anyhow, my favorites flower is still the spring tulips... I miss the ones I planted in Boise. So I bought a bag of tulips from Costco for planting this fall. Let's see how it does in the Texas hill country's alkalinic soil!


Monday, September 15, 2008

A Primer on Hurricane Categories vs Typhoon Signals

In our high school e-groups, one school mate said that she thought the Hurricane Categories in the US were the same as the Typhoon Signals back home in the Philippines. All the while, I thought so, too!

I remember those typhoon days when we were young...
- When the streets are not flooded, we would walk to school in our tsinelas (sandal thongs)
- When the streets are flooded, we would be using our water boots
- During the weekend or when school is suspended (Signal #3), we would go play in the rain. Our favorite is going under the gutter and "take a shower". Sometimes we end up being sick (fever).

... but I never remember needing to evacuate.

Anyhow, I did quick research and below is what I got:

US Hurricane Category, Wind Speed
1: 74-95 mph (119-153 kph)
2: 96-110 mph (154-177 kph)
3: 111-130 mph (178-209 kph)
4: 131-155 mph (210-249 kph)
5: >150 mph (>250 kph)

Philippine Storm Signal, Wind Speed
1: 30-60 kph (19-37 mph)
2: 60-100 kph (37-62 mph)
3: 100-185 kph (62-115 mph)
4: >185 kph (>115 mph)

That means the following:
- all US hurricanes are actually Signal 3+ typhoons
- Signal #1 and #2 typhoons are not considered hurricanes in the US.

So that's why perhaps I do not remember needing to evacuate because there really was no need then. Anyway, since Mt Pinatubo erupted in 1991 and the dikes built were the only protection of my hometown from the lahar, there may now be a need for evacuation during strong typhoons.

Anyway, there you have it, the hurricane-typhoon decoder.


What Hurricane?

The news since Thursday was full of Ike, the Category 2* Texas-sized hurricane. This is how it developed and what we did.

THURSDAY: Austin was in the path of Ike. We were sort of welcoming the rains Ike would bring since it has been dry and hot here for sometime. We were not worried because we knew that once Ike make landfall at the Texas coast, its fury would be lessened as it made its way inland to the north, towards Austin.

FRIDAY: Ike changes path. Austin is now in the fringes of Ike's path. Wind advisory of 25-35 mph with gusts up to 50 mph still were in effect. Since we planned to drive Ann to San Antonio Saturday to have her citizenship thumbmarking, we planned to bring the Gigi, the small car, and go through I-35 instead of the usual scenic 290-281 route.

SATURDAY: Not a drop of rain. No high winds. So we took the scenic 290-281 route. It was a bit cloudy earlier in the morning but when we were near San Antonio, the blue skies started showing. It was actually a very good day!

Ann's thumbprinting only took less than 5 minutes and we were done with our "official business".

Of course, a trip to San Antonio is now no longer complete without going to Mekeni Filipino Buffet restaurant. There were a lot of people when we arrived there at noon but we were seated immediately. As usual, the food was oh so delicious! By 1 pm though, there was already a wait. I saw some actually leave before they were seated - perhaps they could no longer wait.

We dropped by the San Marcos Factory Outlet Stores and we were surprised that there were plenty (as in the parking lot was full!) of people. I got a bit excited because I thought there was a big sale. I immediately learned that the people were coming from 2 places:
- evacuees from the east due to hurricane Ike
- Mexicans across the border since it was Mexico's Independence Day

Here in Austin, we got a couple of prayer requests for friends and family of churchmates who were going to be in Ike's path. We got our share of evacuees who attended church last Sunday, too, and the ones I talked to reported that their homes were okay.

In Houston, I heard from my high schoolmates that they were okay, too - power went out (and is still out for some), some boarded their windows, some neighbor's trees went down.

Meanwhile, there is a lot of devastation in the coastal towns of Texas. Galveston, known to be a tourist spot, was badly hit (and we have not even visited it yet!). It's sad that there were a lot of people who did not heed the call for evacuation.

If you'd like to help, this is Red Cross donation page.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

And The Winner Is...

Georgie at Decisionally Challenged! Congratulations, Georgie! I will be mailing your $5 Wendy's gift card (woo hoo... hahaha) as soon as I get your mailing addresss.

Anyway to save you from checking out what her answer was in the comments of the Guess Which Shades? CONTEST, I am telling you here that Georgie voted for #3 - the biggest frame that covers even my eyebrows.

Guess what her adjective was - HAWT. Is that the a new spelling of "hot" or is that an acronym for something? I have learned what SAHM, SAHW, WAHM, WAHW already but not sure what HAWT means, if at all it is an acronym! Any guesses?

Thank you again, folks, for voting.

I am now officially not confident about my choice. But oh well, life goes on...


Friday, September 12, 2008

"My Husband Rocks" Friday - 2008.37

Al rocks because he's such a talented man - he's the classic right brain-left brain person. He's an electronics engineer by education, programmer by vocation but artist by avocation.

I can't describe his professional accomplishments here because that is reserved for the big corporation's periodic performance assessments. :) But I can definitely yak about his creative outputs:

He draws and paints (watercolor, acrylic and oil, still life and abstract).

He creates wicked graphics (and websites, too!).

And I am soooo excited when it is my blog's turn to have a facelift!

When he was still courting me, he drew me a rose with colored pencils and he made me a beautiful card (with flowers and all) by MS Excel - UNBELIEVABLY AWESOME!!! (I gotta dig those from storage somewhere.... :) )

That is why My Husband Rocks!


How about you? Why does your husband rock? Join us as we focus on our husband's (or husband, or husband-to-be, or wife-to-be) strengths and potentials. Write about it and go link to Katy Lin's blog on the latest "My Husband Rocks" Friday post.

Have a great week-end!


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Nine Eleven, Across the Pacific

We interrupt the CONTEST sticky in honor of 9/11.

Seven years ago, I was getting ready to retire to bed when a neighbor called me on the phone saying that a plane just slammed into the World Trade Center and for me turn on the TV.

I turned the TV on and proceeded to look for any news about this. You see, I was looking for images of the World Trade Center along Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines (as that was where I was!) and I could not find any. And only after going around the channels a couple of times did I see the twin towers in New York! I realize that it was THE World Trade Center that had a plane slam into it.

On a 13" TV, I saw one of the towers with smoke coming from it. Then, the footage of the plane hitting the tower was replayed and I was utterly shocked! I remember thinking - What happened? How could that happen? In this day and world where we've got high tech tools to navigate planes!

Then a few minutes later, and this time, I am seeing it live...another plan hit the other tower. And I gasped. And I heard the commentators gasp and they were wordless.

Then as if that was not enough, the towers started to crumble. And I thought, where are the people? How could a building collapse like that? Could it be that there are explosives in the building? Did someone plan this?

Then we heard about the 2 other

I cannot recall exactly if the one of the towers collapsed first before the second plane hit the other tower. To me, it is not important. All of these was destruction.

All I knew is that I felt confusing emotions - shock, disbelief, anger - as I helplessly watched all these unfold in a 13" TV.... across the Pacific.

The hairs in my body still stand even as I recall this.

Across the Pacific, the next day was somber. I remember a lot of muted conversations in corridors and cubicles. I remember some meetings with our US counterparts being cancelled. After a few days though, it was business as usual.


I have been up the World Trade Center. A gracious high schoolmate brought me there when I was visiting New York in the early 1990s. At that time, these buildings did not mean a lot to me. (In fact, I was more excited about the Empire State Building.) They were just 2 tall buildings with views of the city at the top. Just like any tall buildings in the middle of any city. (Sure, it had underground stores and the subway - which at that time was new to me.)

I lived across the Pacific until about 5 years ago, where we were a bit insulated from the long-term emotions of events such as this. Sure, the technology has made it possible for us to know the latest and greatest news from all over the world. However, unless you actually live in the affected country/region/area, the drama of the event eventually blows down faster, as what I earlier described.

Today, I live in this country where Nine Eleven is a hallowed, sacred date to many people. What does it mean to me now?

I am from a generation who has not experienced war first hand. In the midst of everyday life, I still can get entangled in the busyness of life and forget that monstrosities and wars of the past can happen again.

In the same way that I can forget, there will be some people who will in the future again inflict such unfathomable violence and disrespect of human life.

For the Word of God has already said that nothing is new under this sun. Man has not changed.

" What was will be again,
what happened will happen again.
There's nothing new on this earth.
Year after year it's the same old thing.
Does someone call out, "Hey, this is new"?
Don't get excited—it's the same old story.
Nobody remembers what happened yesterday.
And the things that will happen tomorrow?
Nobody'll remember them either.
Don't count on being remembered. "

(Ecclesiastes 1:9-11, The Message)

Whatever happens, there is one thing that is steady in my heart:

"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." (Philippians 3:20)

Would you like that, too?


At Ground Zero and everywhere, banners saying "We will not forget." go up and are taken down. I have read many bloggers still saying the same - "We will not forget."

I am not an American but I pray to God that I, too, will not forget.


Guess Which Shades? CONTEST

NOTE: This is posted Tuesday 9/9 but is "sticky" until Friday 9/12 midnight when the contest ends.

My eyeglasses-cum-sunglasses has been with me for about 2 years now. It uses those clip-on shades and has those nose pads that get entangled with my hair if I use my eyeglasses like a hairband. I have been wanting to get me a pair of sunglasses but I wanted one that I can have my prescription lenses put in.

My eyeglasses-cum-sunglasses finally "broke" and I also lost the clip-on shade, so I now have an excuse to go get new ones! Plural. That means 1 prescription clear eyeglasses and 1 prescription sunglasses.

As for the Shades that will have Prescription lenses? Guess which frame I chose? and win a $5 Wendy's gift card! I need to bribe you in order to know if most of you choose what I chose. I have a need for approval. The price is not really big - after all you just had to guess, right? :)

1? 2? or 3? Yes they may look very similar to each other but they are actually different. And yes, I look like a dragonfly. Anyway, see the number in the upper left corner of each photo.

I took these photos in the eyeglass store in the mall as I was being ogled by a customer. I can only imagine what he might have been thinking - how weird the lady is taking a picture of herself in the mirror. This is how I actually looked like taking the pictures above:

Anyway, I digress again... Here are the RULES:
1. Leave your guess as a comment to this post.
2. Just write the number.
3. Write an adjective. Any adjective. (It does not necessarily have to be related to this post or to the frames or my photos or if I look like a dragonfly.)

By Friday 9/12 midnight, whoever guesses correctly, will be eligible for the draw. I'll find a way to make the drawing fair. :)

One other thing... Unfortunately, the Wendy's gift card is only valid in the US and Canada... Don't let that stop you (from outside of the US and Canada) though on putting in your opinion on this extremely critical decision - hahahah!!!

Go ahead... guess which frame I chose to validate that I made the "right" choice and leave the number and adjective in the comment!


Everything's Bigger In Texas! (Part 2)

Ready for the North side of the Texas Capitol?

Unassuming grounds, right?

Wait till you find out that under these grounds are 4 floors of the Capitol Extension carved from solid rock and built in 1993 to the tune of 667,000 square feet area. That's about 200-300 houses worth of space!!! Underneath. the. ground. Visitors are only allowed to 2 floors, so I guess there's some secrets going on in the other 2 floors...

So let's look at the same picture again, but this time with a fresh eyes and
with the picture annotated:
Let's take a closer look at those 3 places in the Capitol Extension - the Open-Air Rotunda, the Skylights and the Elevator Pavilion...

From the inside of the Capitol Extension, this is what it looks like.
And you can see the dome from one of the skylights.

In the Open-Air Rotunda, there are more stars...

From there, you can see the dome as well.

And yes, this is just an Elevator Pavilion!
The roof is similar to the roof of the main Texas Capitol.
And the railing also has the ubiquitous star of Texas.

And even the elevator doors has them, too!

And here we are... goofing around at the Elevator Pavilion

Anyway, I could put more in here but then I would be stealing the script of the Texas Capitol tour guides. :)

So let me share my impressions and what pleasantly surprised me about the Texas Capitol:
- Although the Capitol is big, it is not ostentatious. (True!)
- The thoughtful marriage of the classic Capitol and modern Extension architectures. There seems to be a beautiful balance achieved here.
- The very detailed treatment of spaces, furnishings and fixtures. With all the stars and symbols of Texas all over the place, it is still tastefully decorated (except for the ballrooms chambers... but I guess I never was really a fan of solid oak and walnut and velvet draperies.).
- The strategic framing of grand views all throughout.

This has been a long post, so let me end with a few more trivia about the Texas Capitol:
- It is the largest State Capitol building.
- It is 15 feet (or 5 meters) higher than the National Capitol in Washington DC

Things are really BIGGER in Texas!

Hope you enjoyed the trip! Let me know that you visited by leaving me a comment!


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Everything's Bigger In Texas!

This could have been another great post last week when the Blog Around The World (BATW) ladies were visiting as I was showcasing Texas. But oh well... we just visited the Texas Capitol last Saturday and I got all excited about blogging about it. It's a shame to keep this post until the BATW ladies come back, so I hope you enjoy this new Texas treat!!!

Let me tour you around the Texas Capitol - home of the Texas Governor's office, Senate and Representative Chambers - which was built in 1888.

If you are a bird, this is probably how the Texas Capitol grounds looks like:

But since I'm very sure that you are not a bird, you will definitely go in walking at one of the entrances. :)

If you go in from the main entrance, this is what will greet you in the South Foyer:
No, no... not Mamang Luisa, the kneeling lady. Instead, it is the corridor whose terrazzo floors list the 12 battles fought on Texas soil.

Further in is the Rotunda which is also a Whispering Gallery. Stand in the middle of the star and whisper... and hear your own words much louder as the walls echo it back to you. This is really, really cool!

And since there are paintings of the past Texas governors and presidents of the Republic hung on the walls around the Rotunda, you can actually talk to them govs (including Dubya "W") while you are in the middle and no one would know you are talking to them!

Look up and you will see the that the ceiling of the dome has a star and letters around it spelling out Texas. The star is supposed to be 8 feet in length while each of the letters that spell out Texas is 15 inches long.

Here are the Texas Senate Chambers...
and the Texas House of Representatives Chamber:
which looked more like ballrooms than chambers with their fancy ceilings, chandeliers and solid wood furnishings.

Here's some trivia.... Look where more Texas and its star symbols are peppered inside the building...

I better cut this post into 2 as this has gotten to be a longggg post. So....

Come back tomorrow for the pleasant surprises at the North side of the Texas Capitol!!!

Meanwhile, tell me if you stuck around to the end of this post by leaving me a comment. If not, I would think that you were like the bird in the first photo who just flew by...

See you tomorrow!


A Few of My Favorite Songs

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