To many gardeners, dogwoods are the most beautiful of all flowering trees. These delightful trees often begin to blossom when they are only 4 to 6 feet tall, and their spectacular flowers are so tough that they often stay colorful for three or four weeks, twice as long as the blossoms on other trees. But the flowers are not the trees’ only attributes, for dogwoods have other traits that extend their usefulness well beyond the flowering season. The white or pink flowers are followed by bright red fruits, which are relished by birds; the dark green leaves of summer turn deep orange in autumn, and the horizontal tiers of branches are attractive throughout the year. Even during winter, the upturned ends of the twigs look interesting, since they are tipped with fat greenish buds that will become the next season’s flowers. Dogwoods usually grow from 6 to 8 feet with an equal spread in about five years.
I had a palmetto tree on my front lawn that I never liked. Last fall, it looked so bad, I told the HOA landscaper to take it down. At some point, I thought of getting a magnolia tree, but then a fellow gardener told me to be prepared to rake the leaves all the time. That made me go for a dogwood tree instead.
I bought a small dogwood tree from Fast Growing Trees, which I planted during one of those warm days in the Fall. In late December, I called the supplier and told them that the tree lost all its leaves and looked dead. They assured me it was OK. We’ll see how it does this season.
There is a legend to the dogwood tree.
At the time of the Crucifixion, the dogwood had been the size of the oak and other forest trees. So firm and strong was the tree that it was chosen as the timber of the cross. To be used thus for such a cruel purpose greatly distressed the tree, and Jesus, nailed upon it, sensed this, and in His gentle pity for all sorrow and suffering said to it:
“Because of your regret and pity for My suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. Henceforth it shall be slender and bent and twisted and its blossom shall be in the form of a cross. . . two long and two short petals. And in the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red, and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns and all who see it will remember.”
In a few hours, 2019 will be gone. Over and past. The New Year and a New Decade will be here. With it comes an opportunity to reinvent, refresh and renew. It’s up to each of us to make plans for a better YOU.
Have you had a stressful year in 2019? You’re not alone. I had a very stressful year. I hope 2020 will be better. I am making plans to do just that. For starter, I need something to keep my mind off my problems. To be able to relax, I found out that music is a good therapy.
A year ago, I bought a retro Victrola record player which plays vinyl records. Yes, I still have my old vinyls from the ‘60s. I intend to play most of them in 2020. They always bring back happy memories of the past.
When I lost my Mom a few days before Thanksgiving, my life changed drastically. With both my parents gone and being the eldest, I’m now the head of the family and it carries a certain responsibility. I do miss calling Mom. There were days when I thought of calling home, only to realize she is gone forever and I can’t call her anymore like I used to do for the last 52 years since I left home. There is one thing Mom promised me when she was alive. If I move back to the Philippines, she would buy me a piano. That’s not going to happen now so I decided to treat myself on my birthday a few days ago and bought myself a piano. It’s as if I fulfilled her promise to me. I always want to learn how to play the piano and with a piano at home, I should be able to do that. Where do I begin? As Fraulein Maria a.k.a. Julie Andrews from the “Sounds of Music” said, you begin with Do-Re-Mi.
Last May, my husband’s health turned for the worst and he decided to stay on the second floor for the duration of his illness unless he had to go see his doctor. That meant I had to bring his food upstairs. Most days, I made the trip upstairs 20 times a day and with 17 steps each way, I logged in about 680 steps a day just attending to his needs alone. I lost 16 lbs so far this year. Not good for me. At the rate I’m going, I will be back to when I was single, – 90 lbs soaking wet. Funny! But then I look at it this way. That’s a very good cardio exercise for me. Who needs the gym? I get my exercise right here at home and it is free.
There are a few book projects I want to do but so little time. I want to finish one book this coming year. I meant to do a final edit on one of them in 2019 but never did anything. I just had no time. I’ll make time this year.
There are piles of books I want to read. I barely met my reading goals this year. Most of my time that I was reading in 2019 were doing research for my blog. Blogging will take a back burner from now on. I am considering of spending less time on blogsphere and also engaging less on social media and political news in 2020. I’m sure others will not agree with me but considering what is good for me, I’m staying with my goals this coming year.
My garden did not get much attention this year either and I lost a lot of roses. The crazy weather did not help at all. I’m redoing my garden to include more shrubs and perennials, easy care plants. I promise myself to buy only 2 roses this year. I’m looking at David Austin English Rose catalog. I have enough plants to cheer me up and give me the outdoor exercise I need. I also got a beautiful red mini rose plant a few days ago. The sender wished me a Happy New Year but did not sign his/her name. If you are the mystery sender, I thank you very much. That’s very sweet of you to think of me and it cheers me up.
I have done a lot of volunteer work in NY and now here in SC. At this point of my life, I’m cutting back on that and leaving that to the younger generation. I’m still on the HOA board which is a thankless job. I just happen to like working with our property manager and our developer and I can watch where our money is being spent. I’ll stay on that since I can do it without leaving home which is impossible these days because of my husband’s health issues.
Lastly and the most difficult task I want to tackle this year. I want to organize my paperwork and my house. After almost 50 years of marriage, we have accumulated a lot of stuff. We downsized when we moved south but I still have plenty of things. I hate to think what my kids will do when I go so I’ll start unloading some of my stuffs now.
So that’s my plan for this year. I feel great already. Hope 2020 is a wonderful year for you! What are your plans for 2020? Share and comment below.
Happy New Year! Wishing you all the best in the next decade!!
My mom, Fausta (Pacing) Rosales, lovingly called Lola by her grandchildren, passed away on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. She was 96 years old, a month shy of her 97th birthday on Dec. 16. She was the last among her nine siblings to pass on.
I thank you Mom for all the years you loved and took care of my three brothers and me, our spouses and your grandchildren, for your love and loyalty to Dad, for your zest for life and the courage to tackle all adversities that life brought upon you and your family.
I remember stories you told me about my struggle with meningitis when I was two years old. You and Dad and my doctor godmother pulled me through otherwise I would have died. When I was five, all my playmates were all in school but I was too young to enroll in 1st grade but you convinced the teacher to let me just sit in class without grading me. I was admitted and ended up getting 80 at the end of the school year and got promoted to 2nd grade. As I became a teenager and through my twenties, you were my ally when I had problem with Dad about boys. When I was reviewing for my CPA board exam, you were there making sure I ate right to sustain my long days and nights reviewing for my exams. When I left home, you were heartbroken but let me go to pursue my ambition. You knew I would be OK in New York. You were always supportive of what I wanted to do. You were easy to deal with than Dad who was very strict but both of you made me the person I am today because of your strict discipline. Thank you.
Here is my family when I left home for New York in 1967, taken at Manila International Airport.
(left to right) – My three brothers, Robert, Radelo, Renato, Me (Rosalinda), Mom and Dad. All four of us have the same initials – R.A.R.
Here we are again in May 1993 for Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary.
After I got married, you came to U.S. for the first time, after my first child was born. You stayed for a month to be with your first grandchild and later when I decided to go back to work, you stayed with me for four years until the boys are old enough not to have a babysitter. During those days, when my kids called her “Lola”, people asked me why my children called their grandmother by her first name. I had to explain that “Lola” is the Filipino word for Grandma.
Every time, I moved to a new home, you were around to give me a helping hand on my move. Mom was a well-seasoned traveler, traveling back and forth from the Philippines every two years. Mom enjoyed her U.S. trips to visit us all, alternating her stay between each of her four children. When she got tired of one, she went to the next one. We will always remember those happy times during our family gathering at Thanksgiving and Christmas at my home. Mom could get into an argument with one of my brothers who loved to tease her and she would use a few phrases she picked up staying with my other two brothers in New Jersey. We roared with laughter. She was feisty and hilarious. She loved meeting my American friends and always with a smile on her face. The last visit was when we first came to see our new home in Charleston in 2008. Our third bedroom is still called “Lola’s room” because she was the first one to occupy it.
My mom had a good life with few hardships during the war and in between Dad’s downturn in his business. She was the favorite among her siblings as she was growing up. She was a beautiful lady and Dad fell in love with her even before they met. Dad saw her picture in a magazine. Below was the original copy and the picture that Dad fell in love with.
When Dad married her after 4 years of courtship, Dad got her a maid even before I was born. We don’t consider ourselves rich but we are comfortable. Dad built Mom a nice home which has been the envy of the town. It’s made of granite, marble and steel and it has fared very well during typhoons and earthquakes.
She loved sewing and I had to have tons of sewing projects for her to do during her stay with me. Otherwise, she got bored. I still have the sewing machine she used and I was hoping for years that she would come back because I still have tons of fabric for her to do some work. She made curtains and slipcovers, did alterations for me, fixed buttons, mended things and made some of my early clothes.
One thing she was not an expert is cooking. Since she always had a maid, she very rarely cooked. But she was a big help to Dad in his business by taking care of the books. She was very organized and constantly in motion. She was a strong and confident woman. You would not dare cross her path because she would have something to say. She always stood her ground and we love her for that. Maybe that was the key to longer life.
She is now with Dad who left us in 2007. Dad must be smiling to welcome her in his arms once more.
I love you Mom and will miss you terribly. I wish I was there with you to send you off safely home to God and Dad. Rest in peace and thank you for everything
I received an email from someone asking for donation regarding the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington DC on Monday, May 27, 2019 of which he will be the Marshal. My husband being a WWII veteran I sent in a donation in his honor and also because of who sent me the email which brings me to this topic of mistaken identity.
The person soliciting the donation is no other than Lou Holtz, the Notre Dame coach. Since I have never been a football fan, I didn’t know who Lou Holtz was years ago until my husband told me a story when he came home after my son’s soccer game when my son was in grade school.
One of the kids watching the game called his father and said, “Look Dad, there is Lou Holtz.”
A lot of people have mistaken my husband with Lou Holtz. I have no idea how tall Lou Holtz is but my husband is 6’ tall and blond. He used to be reddish blond. I see Lou Holtz is also blond.
When we moved to Charleston, we were at the Charleston Market downtown having a quick snack and people stopped and asked if he was Lou Holtz. He denied it but people did not believe him.
The first time we went to dinner at Hyman Restaurant downtown, we saw a picture of Lou Holtz on the wall. I noticed people stared at my husband and then looked at the wall.
Then when my stepdaughter and her husband together with my three granddaughters came one summer, we took them to Hyman. Lou Holtz’s picture was one of the pictures posted along the stairway. They seated us on a table near the stairway. On the table was carved “Lou Holtz sat here.” I didn’t know if it was intentional or a coincidence that we were seated at that table.
Another time, we were waiting in line outside for a table and the waitress asked for our name and our guests having known the story said, “Holtz like in Lou Holtz.” When they called Lou Holtz, we were taken to the bar and there was a picture of Lou Holtz at one corner of the bar. Customers at the bar looked at my husband and then at the wall and asked if he was Lou Holtz and he said no. They didn’t believe him. When our bill came at the end of our dinner, our guests picked up the tab so the restaurant did not know if he was Lou Holtz or not.
The last time we were at Hyman with my son and his girlfriend, the same thing happened. It was hilarious to the point of totally out of control. It was the worst in my opinion. Two people addressed him as Lou Holtz and asked for my husband’s autograph. They even asked to have their pictures taken with him. It did not make sense to me because Lou Holtz was supposed to broadcast a game the same day in another city. He could not possibly be in Charleston at the same time. People were not thinking.
A waiter must have tipped the owner of the restaurant because he came over to our table and thanked my husband profusely for coming and bringing some friends. I think he really believed he was Lou Holtz. I could not wait to get out of the restaurant. My son paid the bill so it was still a mystery to the restaurant if he was really Lou Holtz. My son’s girlfriend suggested my husband should study Lou Holtz’s biography so he could answer questions intelligently to make it look real. I said, “No!”.
I don’t think I’ll ever set foot at Hyman Restaurant again. At least not with my husband. Of course, with his health condition right now, he can’t go anywhere so that solves that problem.
Fall is definitely in the air but as long as the weather stays mild, the roses will keep on blooming. I cleaned up the garden this weekend, pulling out all the bedraggled annuals and planted the rest of my spring bulbs. I saw some roses are still blooming but they are smaller than the spring blooms and the color is more intense. I saw this beautiful rose blooming next to my back door. It’s named Dr. Jane Goodall, to honor the legendary ethologist and conservationist, Dr. Jane Goodall.
Here is a lovely poem written by Thomas Moore (1779-1852) that carries my sentiment for the season.
For nothing better to do today, I decided to try my hand on baking a cheesecake. I saw this recipe months ago and clipped it.
7 oz. pkg. cannoli shells
3 tbsp unsalted butter melted
2 tbsp sugar
4 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ c flour
½ whipping cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp orange zest
5 large eggs
1/3 mini chocolate chips
Confectioner sugar for sprinkling
A handful of chocolate chips for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch springform pan with parchment.
Crush cannoli shells (food processor works best), add butter and 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to pulse until med-fine crumbs
Press crumbs firmly onto bottom of pan. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool.
Beat ricotta cheese, remaining sugar and flour in bowl of electric mixer on medium until well blended. Add whipping cream, vanilla, zest and chocolate chips. Mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing just until blended after each addition. Pour over crust.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, then sprinkle top with a handful of chocolate chips delicately, pressing chips in lightly. Continue to bake 10 more minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake.
Cool before removing rim of pan. Refrigerate for 4 hours or more. Before serving sprinkle with confectioner sugar.
Top with whipped cream if desired. Store leftovers in refrigerator. Serves. 10.
I don’t usually follow any given recipe. Somehow I always tweak it to suit what I have on hand in the kitchen. Same thing happened here when I baked this Cannoli Chocolate Cheesecake.
I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand so I improvised. Since I didn’t have cannoli shells, I used 16 ice cream sugar cones instead. I also used regular butter, not unsalted. For whipping cream, I used Cool Whip. For orange zest, I used the orange zest from the Orange malmalade. I added the last ingredient which was not in the original recipe.
I’m not a baker also so I don’t own all the baker’s gadgets so I also improvised. I don’t have a food processor so I crushed the ice cream cone inside a zip lock bag and mixed everything by hand using big wooden spoon.
They came out pretty good and quite delicious. Not bad for a first try.
Today is my court appearance for traffic violation. I am a bit nervous not knowing what to expect. Do I get fined $232.00 or something worse?
Two months ago, I got stopped by a cop on my way to take my husband to his kidney doctor. I saw a cop on my left waiting for the light to change. When it turned green, I followed the cars in front of me and crossed the road. Then I saw the cop behind me in my rearview mirror. I kept on going and then turned left to where the doctor’s office was. Then I saw he was still behind me and then I saw his blinking lights. I pulled over. I opened my window as he approached my car. He said my car tag expired. I said I did not know.
I never checked my license plate. I told him my husband took care of that and he got sick and pointed to my husband sitting on the passenger side. He asked for my driver’s license. I had to get out of the car because it was in my purse which was in the back seat. Then he told me to get back inside my car. It took him a while before he came back with my license and a ticket. He told me to report to the court and if I bring my new registration, he’d cancel the ticket. He let me go and told me to drive safely.
The last time I got ticketed was 18 years ago when I was a real estate agent. I was driving very slow checking on houses to show my clients. That was before GPS. I did not see a stop sign and the cop followed me make a left, then right before he turned on his siren and blinking lights. I pulled over. He gave me a ticket. I went back the next day looking for the sign. It was hidden behind a tree and if you did not live in the area, you’d not know it was there. That ticket cost me $75.00. That was the only time I got ticketed before this one.
When I told my son I got a ticket, he said, “For driving too slow?” I remember years ago, we went to Vermont and he said, “Mom, the farm tractor passed you”. Both my two kids think I drive too slow. Not really. I have seen some drivers drive slower than me. I just follow the speed limit. That’s all. I think if I get a ticket for speeding, my family will cheer.
Well, today my court appearance was at 10:00 am. I left the house early just in case there was traffic or accident on Maybank Highway. In our nick of the wood, it takes hours to clear traffic once there is an accident. I got to the court house plenty of time so I just sat in my car until I saw the Deputy Sheriff’s car drive in.
When I went inside, I was told to leave my cell phone in my car so I had to go back out and left my cell phone in my car. Apparently no cell phones allowed in the court room.
The court room was small. There were about a dozen people sitting and waiting for the judge to appear. At exactly 10 am, the judge and the sheriff arrived. I was called near the end. I had my ticket and my new registration ready and handed them to the sheriff. He said the plate number is different. I told him DMV gave me a new plate. My plate expired two years ago, in April 2017 so DMV had to make it a new registration instead of renewal. We might have received the registration renewal form in the mail but I don’t remember seeing it. It was about the time my husband had kidney failure and was sent to ICU.
The sheriff went into his computer and punched some keys. I waited anxiously. The judge and I never talked. After a few minutes, the sheriff handed me my ticket and the registration papers and said, “That’s it. You’re done.” I thanked him and the judge and left. That was it. I saved $232 and the ticket was cancelled.
I learned a lesson not to depend on my husband anymore. He is not well and I have to take care of everything now especially since the car is in my name.