I wanted to write something memorable for my husband’s 2nd death anniversary. Matt always recited verses, mostly incongruous and funny while he was alive. I kept telling him to write them down because I could not possibly remember them. He did not listen.
I’m not a poet. This little poem just popped out of my head from nowhere. Is Matt dictating this to me?
Queen Elizabeth was the first grandiflora rose, introduced in 1954, representing the best characteristics of its parent hybrid tea and floribunda rose. Winner of the AARS Award in 1955, the American Rose Society Gold Medal in 1960, Queen Elizabeth still ranks in the top 10 in popularity over the past 50 years. A classic rose, she was elected to the Rose Hall of Fame and deservedly so. Large trusses of blooms 3 ½” – 4” double on strong, straight stems, it has moderate fragrance and blooms continuously and profusely. The large flowers have lots of petals (35 petals) and are arranged individually or in clusters on the plant. They made great cut flowers. Color is clear, ranging from pale pink to rose or carmine, and is weatherproof in any climate. It has dark green, glossy foliage, very vigorous, and tall, about 4-6 feet or more and 3 feet wide. It likes to be tall, so do not prune drastically. It is winter hardy and very disease resistant. A climbing counterpart exists.
Grace Tedesco, an old friend from Oyster Bay, grew mostly Queen Elizabeth roses. She started with the mother plant that she said belonged to her mother. She had about 30 Queen Elizabeth roses in her garden, and she won the Grandiflora section of our rose show almost every year when she was alive. She passed away in 2012 at age 101, was married for 76 years, and exhibited Queen Elizabeth till she was 97. She fell that day picking up her roses for the rose show in 2007 and never seemed right afterward. I do miss her. She was a very good friend of mine who treated me like the daughter she never had. In Oyster Bay, where I lived, Grace was called the Rose Queen, and I was called the Rose Lady. I miss her and her constant advice that I should slow down
Well, Grace, I finally slow down and stop to smell the roses.
TIP OF THE DAY: Listen to classical music to calm you down. Close your eyes and just enjoy the soft music. You’ll be surprised how great you’ll feel after that short period of time when your brain is given a rest, free of those loud noises that surround us all day.
I am grateful 2020 is over, gone and done. The New Year comes with an opportunity to reinvent, refresh, renew, and brings us better luck. It’s up to each of us to make plans for a better YOU.
2020 was a very stressful year for the whole country. We lost loved ones, the economy started going south, unemployment shot up, and with the lockdown caused by Covid-19, the entire world went into a spin. We got isolated from our loved ones, got restrictions to enjoy life, even going to church was forbidden. I hope with the coming of the vaccine, 2021 will be a lot better.
I need life to go back to normal. I’m tired of what is going on in the country. The election, the politics, divisiveness, the riot, the life restriction are not the life I envision in America. I long to return to the old days before Covid. I want to see my friends and be able to travel again and be free again.
To cure my loneliness, I found out music is good therapy. I find myself playing music most of the time. I play Filipino Kundiman to keep me connected to the Philippines. I want to go home and visit my parents’ grave. I missed Mom’s funeral, and it saddens me to no end.
What are your goals for 2021? I call it goals because it seems that resolutions do not work anymore. Studies show that resolutions seem to be out the window by the end of January or early February.
So forget about resolution. Instead, set some goals for a better YOU.
With some determination, you can accomplish a lot if you set your mind to it.
Did you accomplish anything about your goals in 2020? I accomplished a lot but not all.
Interestingly enough, diet or losing weight was not one of my goals. I lost a lot of weight last year without going on a diet or even thinking of losing weight. I think the fact that I had to go up and down the stairs at least 20 times a day (17 steps to the second floor) to attend to my sick husband made me lose weight. I did not follow any of those diet fads. If I do, I’m sure I will gain weight. I’m slowly getting back to my normal weight while maintaining a good eating habit.
I tried to learn a new language last year. That did not go too well because I lost motivation to do anything after my husband died. Grief took hold of me, and I could not function. I will try again this year.
One of my goals last year was to learn how to play the piano. I bought a piano a week before 2020, and I started teaching myself how to play the piano again. I play to distract myself from things I don’t want to think about. It’s for my enjoyment only and an exercise for my fingers to thwart arthritic pain.
I will continue to downsize my garden to a sustainable level. I’m planting more shrubs and vegetables and cutting down on roses which need more care. Since we don’t have a rose show anymore, I’m opting for easy-care roses.
Regarding books, I was able to spend less on books last year. This year, I’ll try to cut more on book purchases. I have enough books to read in my lifetime. Last year, I only read 12 books. I plan to read more this year.
And write more. Last year, I edited one of my manuscripts, and with the help of a friend who is reading it will try to finalize it this year. Then on to the next one. I have plenty of ideas percolating in my head, but in 2020, I felt overwhelmed after losing my husband and could not get back to the swing of things. I hope 2021 will be a better year. I need to stay focused.
One last thing I plan to do this year is to continue organizing my home, although I can’t find stuff after I get organized. Right now, I know where things are. Every year I said it is time to organize, but life gets in my way.
One important thing I found comforting, despite the pandemic. My true friends came to my rescue when I needed it most. They called and emailed me to comfort me, and we reconnected again after so many years of disconnection. I am very grateful to all of them. After the pandemic, we plan to get together and have a blast.
For a change, I plan to do things for myself. Charity begins at home!
So that’s my plan for this year. I hope 2021 to be a wonderful year for all of us!
Wishing everyone a very Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!!
What are your plans for 2021? Share and comment below.
Did you ever lose a loved one? I lost two within six months of each other – my mother in November 2019 and my husband in May 2020.
My mother’s passing in the Philippines was devastating to me. I could not attend her funeral because my husband was nearing death himself. I could not leave him. My mother’s 1st death anniversary is coming soon in two weeks, and it brings tears to my eyes in unexpected moments. Now that I can go, the pandemic prevents me from going to visit her grave in the Philippines.
When my husband died, I always thought I was ready for the inevitable since he was very sick for five years. I found out it was not that easy.
After his death, there were so many things I had to deal with. I kept myself busy organizing the house to where it was before his illness. Then I had to deal with all the paperwork concerning social security, his will, and other tax and financial matters. For a while, I trudged along.
I started editing my old manuscript to keep me busy – the last one I did for the NaNoWriMo in 2017. After I was done with it, I asked an old friend to help me read it and see what he thinks of it. That helps tremendously. If you are reading this, BP, thank you very much, and I mean it sincerely. I joined the NaNoWriMo again this November to give me something to do.
When my husband got sick, I slowly abandoned all my charity work and devoted myself to taking care of him. He was my charity.
When he became bedridden, I didn’t go anywhere because I could not leave him alone. I worked doubly hard as a caregiver.
When he died in May this year, we were already into the pandemic, and social distancing was already the norm. So I continued isolating myself. I’m so used to it that it did not bother me initially, but I believe deep down, it did.
I tried listening to music, mostly classical and ballads, when I’m alone. It soothes my soul and helps me cope with my grief. I even started to teach myself how to play the piano again. It helps a little bit. Music is a great equalizer.
I don’t know what happened to me yesterday and today. I could not stop crying. I have not cried this hard since the funeral parlor’s people took my husband’s body away for cremation, and I said my final farewell. I could not even go to the funeral parlor because of the Covid-19 restriction.
All these months, I thought I’m fine, but I guess not. It was all bottled up inside me.
I don’t know what hits me this week. I feel miserable, and yesterday and today were the worst.
I don’t know if it is the pandemic, the election, the veterans’ day, or just being alone and isolated for almost six years. Maybe it’s a combination of everything around me. Most likely, it’s my mother’s death anniversary causing it. I miss her terribly.
I feel all alone all of a sudden. Yes, my son is in residence, but he works all day. Maybe I need someone to talk to besides Skipper, my son’s dog, and a shoulder to cry on.
Usually, I keep my feelings to myself. Today, I feel a need to share it and get it off my chest. It helps ease the pain.
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.