Wednesday, January 25, 2006


ive been dreaming of Papao, my maternal grandfather, for two straight nights now. amidst the tossing and turning from disturbing dreams, Papao's face would come up, commiserating with me.

the first night, i actually dreamt him more fully. in my dream, i was crying and sobbing so, and he embraced me and i lay my head on his shoulder as i continued to sob. he looked grim-faced; i could sense he was angry at the cause of my pain, but he was tender and gentle with me. he never said anything, and i felt comforted.

tonight, i just suddenly woke up from seeing his face flash in my mind, and the quick thought that January is his birthmonth. for a hazy while, i thought of calling him up to greet him, but then i remembered that he is not in this world anymore...


i am suddenly missing Papao so. he was the fatherly presence and love in my young life, when my own father was too busy making a living, and too incapable of being tender and loving.

sometimes, i think, that Papao's early influence in my life somehow made up for and buffered me against the many onslaughts of misfortunes i would face later on. his love for me was unconditonal, his belief in me solid.

when i was still the only grandchild, and airfaire was cheap, i remembered being "borrowed" by Papao and Mommy (my maternal grandmother) on weekends or even on weekdays, to stay with them in Cebu.

i was only three years old then, but i still remember our daily ritual of my waking up at 7 a.m., taking a bath, eating and finishing my breakfast, for my prompt reward at 8 a.m.-- my daily one-peso Magnolia drumstick, from the ice cream man who would come rolling by at exactly the same time, every day.

Papao was an industrial and mining engineer, and he would go off to work each day promising me that he'd slay witches and dragons for me, from the many underground mines he was going into, and bring me their eyeballs as trophy at the end of the day, if i promised to be a good girl and do as Mommy bid.

i would try my best to be a very good and obedient girl and not ask too many questions (although i remember Mommy scolding me one time for asking, "Mommy, who created God then if He created all of us?"). by 5 in the afternoon, i would sit by the bay window and eagerly await Papao's arrival.

sure enough, soon, i would hear his car coming in and i would run to the door to greet him and get my trophy. sure enough, every day, without fail, he got me two full plastic bags of witches' and dragons' eyeballs, red round little balls with black dots on them.

it wasn't until i was already 17 when i learned that those "eyeballs" were actually seeds from some wild plants in the mountains, but when i found out, it only made me smile and love Papao even more.

i also loved to sit on his office chair and rummage through his drawers and things, trying them out for my own use. i especially loved his old Olivetti typewriter, the solid feel of the keys and the smell of typewriter ribbon, even as i typed gibberish happily, and "wasted" reams of paper. later on, when i learned to read and write, i would copy quotations from his many inspirational books, type them up on paper, and bind my papers together with some fasteners or ribbons, making my own little "book of verses".

he regaled me with stories, mostly of World War II, and history came alive for me because of him. my favorite story, though, is not of the war, but of his own grandfather (mine, too), who was a Tausug pirate named Tatay Dusli ("dusli" means to enflame, to burn), who terrorized the seas of Visayas and Mindanao by burning ships and entire villages if he wasn't given what he wanted, but made the women more than swoon at every port. eventually Tatay Dusli landed in Leyte, and fell in love with the daughter of a Chinese landowner, but their love was not meant to be, as she was of the rich gentry and he was not only an outcast, but a feared outcast at that. still, their love bore fruit in the person of Papao's father, Rafael, who was taken away from his mother but given to a good, hardworking childless couple who managed one of the Chinese's farms. this couple bore the family name Concepcion, and that was how he and us came to be Concepcions. Tatay Dusli, though, when the Spaniards came and colonized the islands, eventually bore the family name of "Noguerra" (for "no more war", as that was what he was made to promise by the Spanish colonizers, in return for considerable booty. : > ). true or not, i choose to believe his stories still.

in most of my teen years, i asked to spend my summers with them, not only to escape the drudgery of watching our store, but because i loved spending hours with Papao at his laboratory. he invented all sorts of things to make every day life easier and i was his young and eager and curious assistant. i remember this little battery-operated gadget he made to keep mosquitoes away. it emitted a soft buzz, and he explained that the soft buzz was to keep female mosquitoes out, as it is only the female mosquito which bites.

we loved watching movies together. i watched his favorite, King Arthur, with him many times, and he watched my favorite, The Sound of Music, with me sixty times (!), that summer of my fourteenth year.

in my later teen years, when my parents would take trips, he would come over to Bacolod to watch over us three kids, and he loved to stay in my room while i moved to my sister's. he loved reading my books, especially those on Theosophy and astrology.

Papao gave me my first and only set of Tarot cards, and handcrafted for me my first and only set of Runes.

Papao not only gave me unconditional love and support to be who i was and who i wanted to be, he also nourished my imagination and curiousity about the world, and treated me with utmost respect and consideration, never looking down on me patronizingly. he gave me the gift of utmost and unwavering belief in my self, that i could do anything and be anything, and that belief stood me through many many years of turbulence and confusion and pain and seeming loss.

Papao died in december 1997, a little more than a year after Mommy died.

Papao was born on january 23, 1919. the first aquarian i knew and loved. : )

belated happy birthday greetings, Papao.

thank you for still coming to my comfort, even when you are already in another world, another life.

i love you, Papao, always and forever.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Pacquiao, Our Hero

i am not a sports buff, much less a boxing aficionado.

but this time i watched the Pacquiao-Morales fight on cable, live via satellite. a lot more hangs on this fight than just for the sport of it, for me and i think, for all of my countrymen and women.

Manny Pacquiao as a person is simple, humble, hardworking, with heart-- your typical every day Filipino and Filipina. not at all the corrupt government politicians nor the war-freaks and kidnappers and cheats or prostitutes or victims of abuse Filipinos and Filipinas portrayed in media.

this fight is about honor.

and this win reclaims that honor, in some way, somehow.

thank you, Manny Pacquiao.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

5 a.m. Thoughts

i am jolted awake at 5 a.m., so i get up and walk around the house opening windows and peering out to see if the sun has come up. it hasn't.

my first thought that im aware of is that i'll do my walking on the tracks around the school football field after i bring the kids to school, so i better change into my walking outfit when i drive them to school.

next i sit down at the pc, and open my "Intention 3" file on the desktop. it's part of my Maintaining my Focus and Staying in the Feeling exercise that i've started to do after ive finished The Attractor Factor; it's a 30-day challenge set by its author to try, a documented experiment for me.

anyway, Intention 3 has to do with money (of course!) : ) but i will not elaborate on it here. for this 30-day experiment, im writing down my detailed "What I Desire" (Intend) and what's happening day-to-day in my going through the 5 steps of The Attractor Factor in my handwritten journal. for really really deep things, handwriting works best for me to get things out.

anyway, contemplating my Intention 3, i google search-- what can 100 million dollars buy? And then, a little later, what would it take to eradicate poverty?

i am wide awake now at what i've just learned--

it took 100 million dollars for Batman Begins' marketing.
it took 100 million dollars in a recent US aid to Colombia for counterterrorism.
it would take "$60 billion, once and for all", to eradicate poverty. that means only 600 more movie hype budgets or Colombian counterterrorism budgets, or a mix of both, to eradicate global poverty. in UN terms, that means only 0.7% of the gross national income of each of the 22 developed nations' budgets set aside for international assistance. this target was set by the UN 35 years ago but still hasn't been reached today, though. explains that ending poverty would even have a multiplier effect:

What would ending poverty do for us? Many things.

Ending poverty would provide rich soil in which development, even leapfrogging could take root. It would reduce global tensions, helping to fight terrorism and minimize conflict. It would take pressure off the environment, helping us respond better to biodiversity loss and climate change. In every imaginable way, progress will be made easier if more than a billion of us are not struggling for survival.

and i thought 100 million dollars was already way too much, way too big to Intend! : ) : ) : )

(wink, wink!)

why would i limit what the Universe wants to give?

heehee. this is fun. now im back "in the Feeling" again.


P.S. interesting not-so-fun fact : ( --

World military expenditures topped $839 billion in 2001, up from $798 billion in 2000. The United States government's military spending accounts for 36% of that amount, which does not reflect increases in spending following September 11

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Divine "Nudge"

the magazine feature is actually a double blessing for me. the ego stroke is okay, everyone always appreciates one : ) but there's another deeper blessing for me in it.

you see, i received the interview questionnaire from the church annulment process the ex is now filing, so he can marry his gf soon, almost a week ago. but, i just put it aside and tried to ignore it for a while... the questionnaire asked too many probing questions, even more than the Court did, and i dreaded the idea of rehashing the past and writing about it and opening up old wounds which are just newly-healed. it was like opening my very own Pandora's Box, something i don't want to do ever again, especially at a new beginnings time like now. but then, i wanted the church annulment, too, as it would free me up too, to marry the one i truly loved and who truly loves me back, someday, with church blessings. so, it was a dilemma.

anyway, the initial interview with my magazine-writer friend felt a lot like the church interview questionnaire. and early on in the interview, i frankly told my friend im not ready to dig up the past again just now, can i just send her the looooong personal response to the Court i wrote before, as it detailed everything anyway (the gist of my response was that, the ex's side detailed only the last year of the ten-year marriage; now here's the rest of the 9 years, to be fair!)?

and she agreed.

this then gave me the idea to finally just get on with it, attach the same response to the church questionnaire, and finally close the past for good, too!

isn't the Universe/God so great and kind and gentle and loving? : )

i am soo blessed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

two happy news : )

im still in an introspective mood, cleaning out personal files and my email boxes now... but i thought i'd take a break by sharing some happy news--

1. a woman magazine writer who happened to buy my book last year and who emailed me to congratulate me on the book and who has made efforts to befriend me, contacted me again today saying she wants to feature me in the first of a series of women survivors and winners her magazine has asked her to do, done Oprah-style. the magazine is for national circulation. so is this the beginning of fame, or what? : ) i hope the fortune follows soon after!

2. the German consultant on the peace journalism project im involved in and been asked to be national coordinator in just contacted me earlier too, that our grant proposal from Misereor has been approved!!! this means 3 years' paid part-time and flexi-time work in a project im passionate about, and an extra income of 200 Euro a month (12,000 Php; most people's monthly income already!!!) for the next 3 years!!!

oohhh, God is sooo good!!!


Friday, January 13, 2006

the upside of bliss

i got the answer to my own questions in my previous post below, about my writing and what it feeds on, while i was driving home for lunch an hour or so ago.

it came to me that maybe now, the time has come to take my writing to a higher level, the level of pure craft and Art.

after a weeklong creative writing workshop i attended in 3 years ago, i was asked to deliver the "valedictory" address in behalf of my co-fellows in the workshop, and i remember speaking about my own insights into the writing process, about how it has three levels:

1. the level of catharsis - usually most of us are driven to writing just to "get it all out" or we'd burst from all the pent-up feelings and confusing thoughts deep inside

2. the level of self-expression and self-understanding - when we've gotten the hang of it, we tend to continue writing just to express our selves, to hear ourselves think and see ourselves feel, so to speak, and in the process come to a better and deeper understanding of who we are and how the world is around us

3. the level of craft and Art - from self-absorbed writing for emotional release and self-expression, the highest level is probably that of pure craft, where we seriously study now our gift and its Art, and apply ourselves to the discipline of using it to touch others and communicate more effectively, beyond ego at last, just submitting ourselves to the training of our Muse.

and that's where i see my self going into in my writing now.

so be it! : )

Thursday, January 12, 2006

if there's a downside to bliss

if there's a downside to bliss, it may be that Art has nothing to feed on. i am discovering that for my self, these days.

i am in a good place in my life, i have peace of mind and heart, i am content with what i have and trusting that whatever lies in store for me in the future i will be provided with what i will need. i have love in my life and i am growing into my potentialities. a secret gurgling brook of joy sustains me and nothing can touch it now, as it is a hard-earned kind of joy borne out of hard-won inner and outer battles.

everything is perfect, knock on wood. and i find that i cannot write as prolifically anymore.

is it just because i have been used to angst feeding my writing, or is that really how it is-- how Art must feed on pain and chaos?

or, maybe, my joy is just too precious and rare, writing too much about it would diminish it in some way... ?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Time Out : )

1. Go to

2. In the search field, type "failure".

3. Click on "I'm feeling lucky".

What do you get? : )

Friday, January 06, 2006

Why an "Attitude of Gratitude"?

i got this from a subscription email today (good reminder!):

Creating a life of abundance for yourself is simple if you remember the magic words: "thank you." It's important to be reminded of how much we all have to be grateful for, and to make that "attitude of gratitude" a part of our daily lives.

Now, you might say, "What does being grateful have to do with abundance? And maybe I don't feel like I have much to be grateful for. I'm not a millionaire, I don't have a Jaguar, I hate my job…." The list could go on, couldn't it? But you may notice something else about that list. It consists of everything you don't have. That's called focusing on a lack. And it's a rule of the Universe that what you direct your focus on, you emphasize or energize and create more of. So, by focusing on what you don't have, you're simply creating more lack. It reminds me of learning about adding a positive and a negative number in grade school – you will always get less than what you started out with.

I'm talking about giving thanks for what you do have and the fortunate experiences of each day. You can start small. For example, maybe you got a seat on the bus or train this morning on the way to work and didn't have to stand. Maybe the weather forecast said rain, but the sun came out. Or, even if you're unhappy in a job, at least you have one! And then, of course, there are the people in your life. You can be grateful to have the love and support of a spouse or mate or circle of friends or relatives. And don't forget the unconditional love of a pet.

The Hausa people of Nigeria have a saying, "Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot." And that is just how the Universe works. When you focus on and express your thanks for what you do have, and the joy and love already in your life, the more abundance, joy, and love you will create in your life. To help you in this process, why not take some time at the end of each day to jot down a few things that happened that you were grateful for. You can call it your gratitude journal. I know that you will be surprised at all of the entries you can make when you take time to think about it. You are already blessed, and will only be blessed more when you have a grateful heart.

And, as Native American wisdom teaches us, don't forget to "give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way."

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Harnessing Popular Will to Renunciate War

After The War
by Howard Zinn*

The war against Iraq, the assault on its people, the occupation of
its cities, will come to an end, sooner or later. The process has
already begun. The first signs of mutiny are appearing in Congress.
The first editorials calling for withdrawal from Iraq are beginning
to appear in the press. The anti-war movement has been growing,
slowly but persistently, all over the country.

Public opinion polls now show the country decisively against the war
and the Bush Administration. The harsh realities have become visible.
The troops will have to come home.

And while we work with increased determination to make this happen,
should we not think beyond this war? Should we begin to think, even
before this shameful war is over, about ending our addiction to
massive violence and instead using the enormous wealth of our country
for human needs? That is, should we begin to speak about ending
war-not just this war or that war, but war itself? Perhaps the time
has come to bring an end to war, and turn the human race onto a path
of health and healing.

A group of internationally known figures, celebrated both for their
talent and their dedication to human rights (Gino Strada, Paul
Farmer, Kurt Vonnegut, Nadine Gordimer, Eduardo Galeano, and
others), will soon launch a worldwide campaign to enlist tens of
millions of people in a movement for the renunciation of war, hoping
to reach the point where governments, facing popular resistance,
will find it difficult or impossible to wage war.

There is a persistent argument against such a possibility, which I
have heard from people on all parts of the political spectrum: We
will never do away with war because it comes out of human nature.
The most compelling counter to that claim is in history: We don't
find people spontaneously rushing to make war on others. What we
find, rather, is that governments must make the most strenuous
efforts to mobilize populations for war. They must entice soldiers
with promises of money, education, must hold out to young people
whose chances in life look very poor that here is an opportunity to
attain respect and status. And if those enticements don't work,
governments must use coercion: They must conscript young people,
force them into military service, threaten them with prison if they
do not comply.

Furthermore, the government must persuade young people and their
families that though the soldier may die, though he or she may lose
arms or legs, or become blind, that it is all for a noble cause, for
God, for country.

When you look at the endless series of wars of this century you do
not find a public demanding war, but rather resisting it, until
citizens are bombarded with exhortations that appeal, not to a
killer instinct, but to a desire to do good, to spread democracy or
liberty or overthrow a tyrant.

Woodrow Wilson found a citizenry so reluctant to enter the First
World War that he had to pummel the nation with propaganda and
imprison dissenters in order to get the country to join the butchery
going on in Europe.

In the Second World War, there was indeed a strong moral imperative,
which still resonates among most people in this country and which
maintains the reputation of World War II as "the good war." There was
a need to defeat the monstrosity of fascism. It was that belief that
drove me to enlist in the Air Force and fly bombing missions over

Only after the war did I begin to question the purity of the moral
crusade. Dropping bombs from five miles high, I had seen no human
beings, heard no screams, seen no children dismembered. But now I had
to think about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the firebombings of Tokyo
and Dresden, the deaths of 600,000 civilians in Japan, and a similar
number in Germany.

I came to a conclusion about the psychology of myself and other
warriors: Once we decided, at the start, that our side was the good
side and the other side was evil, once we had made that simple and
simplistic calculation, we did not have to think anymore. Then we
could commit unspeakable crimes and it was all right.

I began to think about the motives of the Western powers and
Stalinist Russia and wondered if they cared as much about fascism as
about retaining their own empires, their own power, and if that was
why they had military priorities higher than bombing the rail lines
leading to Auschwitz. Six million Jews were killed in the death
camps (allowed to be killed?). Only 60,000 were saved by the war-1

A gunner on another crew, a reader of history with whom I had become
friends, said to me one day: "You know this is an imperialist war.
The fascists are evil. But our side is not much better." I could not
accept his statement at the time, but it stuck with me.

War, I decided, creates, insidiously, a common morality for all
sides. It poisons everyone who is engaged in it, however different
they are in many ways, turns them into killers and torturers, as we
are seeing now. It pretends to be concerned with toppling tyrants,
and may in fact do so, but the people it kills are the victims of
the tyrants. It appears to cleanse the world of evil, but that does
not last, because its very nature spawns more evil. Wars, like
violence in general, I concluded, is a drug. It gives a quick high,
the thrill of victory, but that wears off and then comes despair.

I acknowledge the possibility of humanitarian intervention to prevent
atrocities, as in Rwanda. But war, defined as the indiscriminate
killing of large numbers of people, must be resisted.

Whatever can be said about World War II, understanding its
complexity, the situations that followed-Korea, Vietnam-were so far
from the kind of threat that Germany and Japan had posed to the
world that those wars could be justified only by drawing on the glow
of "the good war." A hysteria about communism led to McCarthyism at
home and military interventions in Asia and Latin America-overt and
covert-justified by a "Soviet threat" that was exaggerated just
enough to mobilize the people for war.

Vietnam, however, proved to be a sobering experience, in which the
American public, over a period of several years, began to see through
the lies that had been told to justify all that bloodshed. The United
States was forced to withdraw from Vietnam, and the world didn't come
to an end. One half of one tiny country in Southeast Asia was now
joined to its communist other half, and 58,000 American lives and
millions of Vietnamese lives had been expended to prevent that. A
majority of Americans had come to oppose that war, which had provoked
the largest anti-war movement in the nation's history.

The war in Vietnam ended with a public fed up with war. I believe
that the American people, once the fog of propaganda had dissipated,
had come back to a more natural state. Public opinion polls showed
that people in the United States were opposed to send troops
anywhere in the world, for any reason.

The Establishment was alarmed. The government set out deliberately to
overcome what it called "the Vietnam syndrome." Opposition to
military interventions abroad was a sickness, to be cured. And so
they would wean the American public away from its unhealthy
attitude, by tighter control of information, by avoiding a draft,
and by engaging in short, swift wars over weak opponents (Grenada,
Panama, Iraq), which didn't give the public time to develop an anti-
war movement.

I would argue that the end of the Vietnam War enabled the people of
the United States to shake the "war syndrome," a disease not natural
to the human body. But they could be infected once again, and
September 11 gave the government that opportunity. Terrorism became
the justification for war, but war is itself terrorism, breeding rage
and hate, as we are seeing now.

The war in Iraq has revealed the hypocrisy of the "war on terrorism."
And the government of the United States, indeed governments
everywhere, are becoming exposed as untrustworthy: that is, not to be
entrusted with the safety of human beings, or the safety of the
planet, or the guarding of its air, its water, its natural wealth, or
the curing of poverty and disease, or coping with the alarming growth
of natural disasters that plague so many of the six billion people on

I don't believe that our government will be able to do once more what
it did after Vietnam-prepare the population for still another plunge
into violence and dishonor. It seems to me that when the war in Iraq
ends, and the war syndrome heals, that there will be a great
opportunity to make that healing permanent.

My hope is that the memory of death and disgrace will be so intense
that the people of the United States will be able to listen to a
message that the rest of the world, sobered by wars without end, can
also understand: that war itself is the enemy of the human race.

Governments will resist this message. But their power is dependent on
the obedience of the citizenry. When that is withdrawn, governments
are helpless. We have seen this again and again in history.

The abolition of war has become not only desirable but absolutely
necessary if the planet is to be saved. It is an idea whose time has

*Howard Zinn is the co-author, with Anthony Arnove, of "Voices of a
People's History of the United States."

Monday, January 02, 2006

Being Good to Me

it is the last day of christmas vacation today, and i mostly spent it still cleaning up.

i only initially wanted to sort out and reorganize my old files and books, but one thing led to another, and before i realized it, the whole house was being cleaned! (you have to understand that i don't usually do the cleaning as the maid does the routine ones; when i do "cleaning", it means complete overhauling--sorting out, deciding which ones to keep and give away, rearranging, reorganizing... and all the while the same processes take place within me mentally, emotionally and psychically. so it becomes not only an active kind of meditation but even like an inner pilgrimage.)

i have other, "more important" things to do with my time and energies, but i hold them at bay. im also succeeding very well now at not indulging in self-bashing and guilt-tripping for slacking off from the "more important" things and attending to my inner and personal needs for cleaning in all ways instead.

off the cuff, here are the things i am supposed to have finished by today, as i should have worked on them during the two-week christmas vacation:

1. check students' papers and exams
2. update class records
3. compute Prelim grades
4. work on and finish my aunt's marketing project/blog stories on suppliers, promised due at around this time
5. work on and finish a friend and client's master plan project for the media network she's overseeing, promised due at around this time
6. write final output on an individual study began in 2001 yet
7. write final output on a group research on pop culture, promised due at around this time
8. translate two talks i have given into papers for publication
9. do my MA assignments in: International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Ethical and Religious Perspectives on Peace and Conflict, and Conflict History; all due weeks ago!

but, you know what, this christmas vacation, starting on dec. 19th when i also started preparing for christmas and got caught up in the holiday spirit, i simply decided id prioritize me and my needs for rest, enjoyment and relaxation this time, after having driven my self to produce and produce for others for most of my life.

i figured, work will always be there. and it will be done when it's absolutely time for me to work on them. but, i cannot afford to risk going on shortcircuit due to burnout anymore, not when im all i and my kids have got.

i have been sensing for a long time that if i don't do this now-- give to my self at last-- i will not have anything much to give to others for the long haul, at least not the kind of whole hearted giving i do, when even my most routine of work projects bear the stamp of my intense passion and love for the work itself.

i am 95% done with my cleaning project now, and i figure i can let the 5% go for another week, or delegate it to the maid. in a little while, i'll start on To Dos numbered 1, 2 and 3, with the rest to follow as they come up for "last deadline" status in the next two to three weeks.

im going slower, but surer now, taking care to treat my self gently and lovingly, and giving way to my periodic needs for rest before i can go on again, instead of pushing my self on overdrive like i used to before.

that is basically my only New Year's Resolution now-- to just be good to me at last.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

the kids and i spent our new year differently this time-- with my sister, honey, and her husband, ping, and their kids at their farm. the initial idea was to have a quiet and "nonviolent" way of welcoming the new year, without our own fireworks, but just watching the city in fireworks below, but with kids around... well... ping couldn't resist! : )

we went there in the morning of dec. 31. the road to Brgy. Alangilan was smooth but from the barangay up to the farm, it was like riding in a moon buggy, with large stones and craters as obstacle course material. still, we had fun! we adults were getting groggy and nauseous but the little ones were tickled and giggled so, while the older ones didnt even notice as they were so engrossed in their multi-track conversations.

reaching the clearing of the farm itself, though, was well worth the wild ride. as it was on elevated terrain, the air was suddenly cool and fresh, and letting the kids out of the van was like letting long-held prisoners out of jail! : )

as we adults settled in, the kids had the run of the place. when they saw the home-made pool at the back of the house, they immediately stripped and changed into their bathing suits and dove. the littlest one, ella, just stripped naked and climbed down into the pool! : )

while the maid prepared lunch, honey went into the bedroom for a nap and ping had to go back to the city for business (he was to come back later in the evening with the generator and other stuff). i volunteered to watch the kids in the pool while i read. i laid the sleeping bag on a grassy spot and opened my book, even as i watched them from time to time.

after a while, the big girls suggested exploring the trees beyond the clearing and the two little boys jumped up to follow. i was left with bea and ella giggling and splashing about. after a while, i couldn't resist my self, changed into my bathing suit, too, and had fun with the little mermaids.

that's all we did, swam, or walked around, or climbed up the mezzanine floor to watch the whole city below, then ate, then went back to what we were doing, then ate, then did other things instead, then ate. i was careful to stick to my newfound resolution in "reveling in my perfect weight" though... : )

in the afternoon, the little ones had fun running around chasing a chicken. the boys then went into a clearing to follow a goat, and came back with redd retching from some leaf stuck in his throat. apparently, the boys tried to eat what the goat was eating too.

in the evening, ping came back with a bang. he rode into the clearing "shooting" fireworks all over the place with the toy gun he was holding. all the kids, especially the two boys, ran to him and begged to play with the fireworks immediately, even as dinner was spread out in the candlelight, and ping said he wanted to get the generator going first.

well, anyway, somehow, everything got done at the same time-- the generator got going, even as the boys now started shooting their own toy guns. then we had dinner together, after which, the girls retreated into the bedroom to rest (thea slept, having stayed the whole night up the night before working on her role play sites stuff on the net) while the little ones jumped back into the pool for a night swimming session.

while waiting for midnight, thea, bea and i somehow fell asleep in the bedroom, along with ella, while the others set up a bonfire outside and toasted marshmallows and hotdogs.

we were awakened by Tarzan's (ping) wild cry, with the copycat howls of redd and paolo following close behind. it was 12 o'clock midnight, already!!! : )

and then, ping let out his secret stash of more and grander fireworks and the kids were beside themselves with the loot, even as honey and i just watched them having fun, and the resplendent glory and earthshaking sounds of the fireworks going off in the sky from our otherwise quiet spot and the city down below.

Tarzan howled again with a Happy New Yeaaaaaarrrrr!!! and the little monkeys followed suit, too. we burst out laughing when a far-away voice from somewhere answered, Happy New Yeaaaaaarrrrr!!! back. : ) : ) : )

everyone, except Thea (who was still sound asleep) and i, had midnight snack and slept at around 3am already.

we woke up to January 1, 2006, full of good feelings and warmth and joy. what a wonderful way to start the year off!

that's my sister's and her hubby's farmhouse behind me Posted by Picasa

that's the entire city behind and below me  Posted by Picasa

bea (in orange) and cousin, ella, with shark friend Posted by Picasa

thea at farm grounds Posted by Picasa

kids in farm pool 1 Posted by Picasa

kids in farm pool 2 Posted by Picasa