Friday, February 29, 2008

Spring flowers, Gods and Men

our indoor hyacinth

[..]and from his blood I have caused a flower to spring up,
sweetest, fairest of flowers, inscribed with letters of woe[...]

-from Hyakinthos article of Theoi Greek Mythology
(Lucian, Dialogues of the Gods, 16)

It seems that the weather is back to being dull and gray with occasional rain showers. Between that and a throbbing toothache (I’m having another wisdom tooth. And I’m already way beyond “young” to have them), I feel so cranky. It’s a good thing that some flowers grow indoors . They cheer me up when I feel like tearing my hair off their roots. Like our pink-colored hyacinth.

I’m really glad it is one of those bulbs /plants that doesn’t need much light to grow. Even with this dismal weather it doesn’t fail to give you flowers. And hyacinths come in different colors--- blue, red, white, pink. You can even have them in orange, violet and yellow. I love their sweet, subtle scent. Plus, the flowers look really adorable --- like star-shaped bells, albeit with 6 petals, not 5.

There’s an interesting legend about them. They’re supposed to have been borne from the spilt blood of Hyakinthos, a young man well-loved by Apollo. Apparently, another god, Zephyrus, was also in-love with the mortal boy. But since Hyakinthos preferred the sun god over the latter, the wind god Zephyrus got envious. So, when Apollo and Hyakinthos were playing the ancient Greek version of Frisbee, the jealous wind god blew on the discus, causing it to hit and kill Hyakinthos. And Apollo, in his grief turned the boy's spilt blood into a flower (source: wikipedia).

It’s funny though that two beautiful spring flowers were named after young handsome men--- Hyakinthos (hyacinth) and Narcissus (narcissus, more commonly known as daffodil). I wonder what it says about men and women.More about men for, that matter. Well, I wouldn’t delve into that right now. Maybe, next time :)...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Not-So-Wordless Wednesday

le lac de Gaube (Gaube lake), Hautes Pyrénées

This is my first entry for Wordless Wednesday. I know this is supposed to be wordless, but I just want to say a few words about the photo. This is the Gaube lake (lac de Gaube) in Hautes-pyrénées seen from approximately 1900 m above sea level. We passed by the lake on our way to les Oulettes de Gaube (and from les Oulettes, you will have a magnificent view of le Vignemale, the highest point/summit of the French Pyrenean although you can already have a great vista from lac de Gaube) . The path is part of the GR10 (grande randonnée 10), an official hiking/trekking trail.

There’s a chair lift (télésiège – the kind used in ski resorts) from the starting point of the trail to the lake. Afterwards, you can hike up to this point (where the picture was taken). We chose not to take the lift. We’re not professional hikers but I don’t feel comfortable taking the télésiège so we walk all the way. But the physical exertion was all worth it, especially when you see the spectacular panoramic view of the valley. Aside from that, the trail itself is quite breathtaking and you will have an adrenaline rush, not only from the effort of hiking but also from the landscape.

see other wordless wednesday participants

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Opus Natura

Azure Window, Dwejra, Gozo, Malta

Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight
one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next.
What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes.

- James Caviezel as Edmond Dantes
in The Count of Monte Cristo (film 2002)

This is a photo I took when we visited Gozo. I believe most photos of Azure window are taken from this vantage point. Another wonderful angle can be seen by taking the inland sea. It must be breathtaking to come here during a tempest, with waves swirling and breaking around the arch. I consider this as a natural work of art --- a product of thousands of years of weathering of limestone cliffs on the Gozitan coast, forming a 50 m. aperture where you can see the equivocal blue sea. If you are into diving, there are two known dive sites within the vicinity called the Blue Hole and the Chimney.

Have you seen the movie The Count of Monte Cristo with James Caviezel and Guy Pearce? If you have, then, you would have seen this tourist spot. In fact, several scenes of the film were shot in Malta, including the one where Mercedes and Edmond have just taken a swim and are talking about getting married (with the Azure window in the background). I love this film. It's not only a story of betrayal and revenge but also of forgiveness and letting go of your hatred. The movie line I mentioned above strikes me as true. Our character is not only molded by the good fortunes we've had. But even more by the blows that life is throwing in our direction. And as Nietzsche says: what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Some say that the French version of the film in 1999 with Gerard Depardieu is closer to the book than this Kevin Reynolds pictures. Well, I still have to see that one. Also, I need to read this work of Alexander Dumas before making any comparisons. I've heard the book is quite long... and if that's the case, maybe I'd settle for the English translation than the original version (it would be easier for me to read it that way) . Anyway, so far, I really like this movie. And having seen other Reynolds films (Tristan + Isolde, Rapa Nui, Waterworld, Robin Hood:Prince of Thieves), I can say that I greatly appreciate this director's works.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Spem Reduxit

spring crocus... our first flowers for this year

Lo! where the rosy-bosom'd Hours,
Fair Venus' train appear,
Disclose the long-expecting flowers,
- Ode on the Spring by Thomas Gray

Finally, after days of damp, dreary weather, we had a day and a half of sunshine and warmth this past weekend.It was such a nice change from the gray, rainy mornings and bleak, covered afternoons we've had these past several days. Oh yes, we did have some sunny days but the temperature was most of the time between 0 to -5 ° C in the mornings and around 5 - 8° C in the afternoon.(yep, it may sound contradictory, but it does happen) Then, you have the additional wind factor to consider which can make the days really chilly.

Anyway, it was such a real treat to feel the sun on your face, to have a warm- bordering- on- balmy temperature (you don't have to wear those cumbersome pull-overs) and there was neither rain nor wind to spoil the day. For me, it felt like it has been ages since we had this kind of weather. I mean, last year, we had like a dozen of summer-like days in April and 2-3 weeks of sun in summer. But the rest of the year, it was like it was always November --- cold, wet and gloomy.

And seeing these crocus (our first flowers for this year) really cheered me up. Spem reduxit...they restored my hope... my hope for an end to overcast sky and dull days... and for the beginning of sunny days, picnics and walks in the woods. I know it's still too early to hope for spring (it's officially still a month away), but I really miss the sun.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Neptune's World

the mangrove forest, the sea and the sky seen from Apo Reef Lighthouse

Apo Reef is the second largest contiguous coral reef in the world and
the largest one in the Philippines.[...] It has a shallow lagoon with a
depth of 2 meters to 10 meters surrounded by mangrove forest.
[...] Its diverse corals are approximately 34 of reef where
different species of fish, marine mammals and invertebrates thrive.

-taken from UNESCO's World Heritage Center site about Apo Reef

I love the sea --- especially at sunset as the waves roll towards the shore in a white foam, the water lapping at my feet as I watch them sink inch by inch into the sandy shore with every ebb of the sea. However, I don't even know how to swim (I start to get afraid when the water reaches my neck). Hence, I just have to content myself with aquariums, films and pictures to see Nemo's fascinating world. So, just imagine how excited I was when we went to Apo Reef. Why would we I be so thrilled to go there when I 'm afraid to have my head underwater? Well, that's it! In Apo Reef, it doesn't matter if you know how to tread the water or not (yes, it would have been a lot, lot better if you do) because the water is clear and rich in aquatic flora and fauna that you can even see a school of fish at waist-deep water :).

Plus, the boatman from Pandan Island was really nice (too bad I didn't catch his name because I felt a bit uncomfortable asking him. But I do remember his face:)) to have anchored the boat in an area where there are a lot of corals and you can see them without having to dive (the area is deep but nevertheless, with a clear sky and clear water, you can see various types of sea creatures). He was even kind enough to tell me to use the boat's short flight of stairs so I can go into the water without fear of drowning. So there I was, sitting on the bottom-most step of the stairs, watching the colorful corals and the school of fishes passing by and having a grand time :) Well, as much as I'd like to take photos, I don't have an underwater camera. All I can do is to commit to memory the breathtaking scenery.

How to go to Apo reef? Well, there are several ways. First, which I can guarantee to be really good (I speak from personal experience) is to go to Pandan Island. The resort there organizes boat/diving trips to Apo reef which is located roughly less than 2 hours from the island (plus, the resort itself and staff are nice. I'm not in the payroll, but we really did enjoy our stay there). There are also other boatmen willing to take you to the reef from Sablayan, Mindoro Occidental (this is actually the take-off point if you want to reach Pandan Island resort). I believe resorts in Puerto Galera and Palawan are also offering diving trips there.

Well, I hope we can go back there when I finally learn to swim :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

On Ephemeral Things

pyrethrum daisy in our garden

- Do you like flowers?
- Not particularly, no. Well, I mean, yes, but we don't really have them around the house.
Mother says, "Why purchase something you can get for free?".
Then, we really don't grow them either. It is silly really.
To put all that effort into something that's just going to die

-Kitty (Naomi Watts) to Walter (Edward Norton)
in The Painted Veil (2006)

Well, I'm not going to spoil The Painted Veil for you by discussing the story. I just think the characters' lines above sum up the personality of the main protagonists, the "lesson" of the story... and maybe, life in general. Some people might not believe in exerting effort in something so temporary or short-lived... like flowers... like sand castles... like love... But the momentary joy you feel by touching the petals, by seeing your castle before the tide comes, by listening to another's heart beat as you gaze at the stars, is worth opening yourself to the probability that they won't last.That they will die. And all you have is the memory of the petals' softness, the castle's grandeur, the heartbeat's resonance.

Moreover, I believe the knowledge that they are transient increases (not diminishes) the drive to capture these moments (no matter how fleeting they are) and enjoy them while they last. Yes, we expose ourselves to disappointment and hurt when they fade away (for many reasons, some of them we don't understand). But, at least, once in our short lives, we felt alive... we LIVED. Well, maybe, I'm just too hopelessly romantic to think this way.

Anyway, regarding the film, if you're into the Out of Africa-The English Patient kind of movie, I think you will like this one. The cinematography is wonderful --- it's a mixture of bucolic charm and nostalgia for the days gone by. Edward Norton is excellent as a reserved and intellectual yet romantic and loyal kind of guy. Naomi Watts is perfect for the lovely, snobbish and flighty -turned-mature and level-headed in the end. They and the rest of the characters are believable. And on the lighter side, I like women's clothes during this period (1920's). It might sound chichi to some, maybe others will find me old-fashioned or even downright dowdy, but hey, not everybody is into the 21st century model-on-the runaway look :).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Nota Bene

O.C. (obsessive-compulsiveness) is not limited to humans, right? because i think cats have this "behavior"
when it comes to cleaning themselves *giggles*

I know, I should stop trying to modify my blog layout. Since, I'm no javascript/html expert, even with the tips I get from some web sites, I spend a lot of time trying to make them fit the "style" I want. And I'm a teeny-bit particular with alignments and achieving a "neat look". I guess it's a sign of being an O.C. (obsessive-compulsive). I have this seemingly trivial urge to make this blog appear "clean", trim, everything is in its "proper" place... well, at least, from my point of view.

And speaking of helpful sites, I'd like to take the opportunity to thank Vin of Beta-blogger for Dummies and Bizwhiz of Tips for New Bloggers. For me, their sites are a really for the textbooks re: blogging. Particularly for dummies like me (and a neurotic one at that).

Well, I guess having convinced myself to STOP tinkering with the layout, I can now spend time doing some posts (I'm already slack in making entries as it is... even without my apparent frenetic focus on details).

Now, where was I?... Hmmm..... Ahhh yes! How do I make texts fade in a loop?... and how do I... how about... why not.... uh-oh...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ad Multos Annos

my birthday pot... i prefer receiving potted plants than flowers... they last a lot longer...

-A year is a long time.
-Not so long. Just once around the sun.

-Irene (Uma Thurman) to Vincent (Ethan Hawke) in Gattaca (1997)

Another year has passed. Should I make a list of random facts about me (wherein the number of info listed corresponds to my age)?... Naaah, it's gonna be a really looooong list. Hmmm, should I note down all the things I'm thankful for?... Uh-uh, I think I'm going to end up soaking the keyboard with my tears (well, if you haven't noticed, I have this tendency to be quite melodramatic). How about drafting my resolutions and goals for this year?...Tsk, tsk, tsk, not a good idea, my dear (well, at least not a good one for me) because I'll just wallow in frustration and disappointment, if by the same day next year, I haven't even reached aim no. 3 (besides, I believe I have enough "should do's" and "should have done's" to last me a lifetime)

Well, one think I'm sure of is that, all things considered, I'm quite happy and content with my life so far (despite my perfunctory wailing and whining) --- I have a loving husband, a supportive family, commendable friends, decent roof over my head, clothes on my back, enough food on the table and from time to time, can give in to a few of my whims...

Tut-tut, I'm beginning to sound mushy again, so I'd better end this litany... And speaking of being sentimental , maybe I'll try not to be too maudlin from now on. After all, I'm not running to be the next soap opera queen. Well, the operative word is TRY :)

Anyway, here's to another 365 ¼ days of my life (actually 366 because it's a leap year)! Cheers!!!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Amor Supero Omnia

Côte de Granit Rose, Bretagne (Pink Granite Coast, Brittany), France

You were right.
I don’t know if life is greater than death.
But love was more than either.
-James Franco as Tristan in Tristan + Isolde (2006)

Without love, life is devoid of meaning, of purpose, of reason. Love amplifies everything. It intensifies pain but it also magnifies joy. One might say it is better to live without love than to feel misery and dejection. But, by loving, there’s always a chance of finding immense happiness and contentment. It’s a risk. But a risk worth-taking. One might feel utter agony when one dares to love… but because of this, you'll be capable of appreciating better the subtle colors and shades of bliss and contentment.

Mon amour, life and death are inconsequential in the face of our love. Ours is not perfect… one instant we are flying atop the clouds, then we sail in rough oceans the next. But I know, together we can overcome anything.

Amor supero omnia… Love surpasses everything...

(final part of my valentine's day entries)

Happy Valentine's Day!
Bonne Fete de St. Valentin!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Noster Nostri

Vallée de Gaube (Gaube Valley), Hautes Pyrénées, France

My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods:
time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees.
My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath:
a source of little visible delight,but necessary.
Nelly, I AM Heathcliff!
He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure,
any more than I am always a pleasure to myself,
but as my own being.
-Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

My love, you are my Heathcliff. A thousand Lintons of this world can never satisfy the emptiness inside if I lose you. Without you, life is insignificant. My very essence will perish. I will be just a hollow shell… existing but not living.

We are of one heart, one soul… noster nostri…

(part 3 of my valentine's days entries)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Semper Fidelis

Dwejra Coast, Gozo, Malta

Love one another, but make not a bond of love;
Let it rather be a sea between the shores of your souls.
-Kahlil Gibran

Our love is like the sea... one moment placid and soothing on a clear cloudless day... then becomes disquieting and turbulent during a winter storm. Sometimes, when big waves hit the shore, we lose something familiar and comforting... other times, they bring ashore something strange yet exquisite to behold.

It is vast, deep, unfathomable... something we cannot fully comprehend... yet we cannot fully ignore despite its mysteries... for it is the very air we breathe.

Despite its inconsistencies and frivolities, the sea keeps kissing the coast. The tide may ebb and flow, but it is steadfast in its return to the shore. It never falters... like the waning and waxing of the moon... like the sun's journey from east to west... like our love.

Semper Fidelis... Always Faithful...

(part 2 of my valentine's day entries)

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Posse Ad Esse

coast of Côtes d’Armor In Bretagne (Brittany), France

Sometimes, I feel like there’s a hole inside of me, an emptiness that at sometimes seems to burn.
I think if you lifted my heart to your ear, you could probably hear the ocean […]
I have this dream of being whole […]
Sometimes, when the wind is warm or the crickets sing,
I dream of a love even time will lie down and be still for.
I just want someone to love me. I want to be seen.
- Sandra Bullock as Sally Owens in Practical Magic (1998)

Thank you my husband, for seeing me across the ocean...
for filling the void in my dreams, my hearts, my life...
for loving me as I am...

Now I know how it feels when time stands still...

A Posse Ad Esse... from dreams to reality...

(part 1 of my valentine's day entries)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Comme Une Peinture Impressionniste

one of the boat stations in Bruges, Belgium

On our way to take a boat ride in the canals of Bruges, I found myself charmed by this boat station. It reminded me of impressionist paintings at musée d’Orsay. I admire the way these paintings capture the essence of moments, may it be of nature or of day-to-day scenes. They speak to me --- tell me how the day was or how the shadows dance… talk to me about the sea, the sky, the girl walking in the field… whisper how the breeze brush against your cheek and make the flowers sway…

Impressionist paintings fascinate me for I believe them to be a celebration of light and colors...of nature... of life. They awaken feelings of nostalgia as time and seasons pass, of exhilaration at the rising and setting of the sun, of tranquility of a quite afternoon, of movement and spontaneity of people, of fear and excitement at the ambivalence of the sea, of joy at feeling the sun on your face or the grass under your feet…

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sic Vita Est ( Thus is Life)

the town of Cauterets in Hautes-Pyrénées, France

Sometimes, there's so much beauty in the world I feel like
I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in.

-Wes Bentley as Ricky Fitts in American Beauty (1999)

It’s fascinating to watch the play of shadow and light as the clouds roll by atop the mountains… with the village cozily nestled at their feet…The bucolic charm of the landscape makes one forget that we are in a world of diminishing purchasing power, of stagnant or even a downhill dive of economic growth, delocalization of industries, and so-called “one-man debacles” of big, supposedly tamper-proof and reliable companies…The system which is supposed to protect us is now being turned against us …and we are falling, falling, falling… without a safety net…

And so, I guess, seeing glimpses of such vista now and then is a good and needed respite for our world-weary souls…

Saturday, February 2, 2008

of roses and beasts

scented rose in our garden

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

- an excerpt from somewhere i have never traveled, gladly beyond
by E. E. Cummings

i love this poem of e.e.cummings... it makes me think of something intense yet fragile... something ephemeral and yet, the memory, the impression, the emotion it evokes is quite lasting --- like a rose, or love, or life...

if i remember right, this poem was also used in the tv series the Beauty and the Beast. i find it positively appropriate for the show (which i happen to like and watch every opportunity i could)... plus the song the first time i loved forever... these elements, put together, made me wish for my own beast during my younger years...

well, until now, i still prefer a"beast" rather than a "prince charming"... (the latter is too good to be true for my taste)... and i find the beast considerably more human than the stereotype prince with his almost perfect traits... more so, for i'm no beauty and i do have many faults... i believe i'll end up miserable with a prince because i'll keep finding myself inadequate and full of flaws... with my beast, i know i can be myself and still be accepted without any feeling of coming up short... with him, i know i'll be fully loved and respected for who i am... in addition, those who have known sufferings and loneliness can better appreciate the joys and contentment life can offer... well, that's just me talking.

anyway, why the photo of a rose?... well, it's the image used in the poem... one of the core elements in the fairy tale story... and why this particular rose?... because i like its subtle color, its delicate fragrance, its fragile petals... it reminds me of the above-mentioned poem... of the lonely beast whose beautiful spirit is waiting to be found...

well, there goes my rambling thoughts :)...

Friday, February 1, 2008

Entre Ciel et Mer

view of the sea from Pandan Island, Philippines

how do we distinguish the sky from the sea?... are they really seamlessly woven together or is the continuity just a trick of the eye?... where is the end of one and the beginning of the other?... are we supposed to set sail on a journey, only to find out the horizon is an elusive thing... there's always another one far ahead... that looking for that seam binding the sea and the sky is an effort in vain because it is supposed to be found in the horizon that is always beyond our reach...

but why focus on finding the end and the beginning of this seeming continuity?... there's a whole gamut of emotions, events, people in between... there is you.... there is me... and if we find ourselves embarking on a quest for answers, maybe we can find more of them in the journey itself than upon reaching the intended goal... maybe by taking into account everything around us as we sail, we'll have moments of clarity about who we are... our place in this world... our own sea and sky...