Friday, August 2, 2013

The Remains of Summer (A Farewell to our First Home)

A farewell to our first home.

Where did the summer go? Mother Nature must be punishing us for having our summer vacation in advance, idling on the beach under the tropical sun, while the rest of the country froze in the middle of winter. When we returned spring had sprung. 40 plus one winks later, summer came, and just a couple of days ago, my husband said we only have a few more weeks before the first golden leaf starts to fall.

The lazy warm days are escaping me too quickly, although lazy isn’t the word that I would use to describe the past few weeks. More like crazy. This is the reason why I am posting my summer banner blog just a few days shy of autumn, and I apologize. Summer is usually packed with family affairs and events around the city, but it has gotten even more hectic while we prepare for another major adventure in our life.

I really thought this is where we would grow old in.

We are moving to Texas. My husband got an incredible job offer from a multinational company, a top tier management position with a compensation package that we couldn’t refuse, a post that will soon see my son riding the most advanced helicopters (if he’s lucky, he’ll get to test ride the President’s chopper!). So the last few weeks have seen us preparing for the move – house hunting and getting our first home ready to be sold.

Thank you for the love, beautiful home.
Aside from the highly attractive compensation and benefits, we were given a relocation package that many people say aren't offered anymore. So the move won’t be as stressful. There will be professionals coming in to do the packing.  I won’t even have to lift a finger to pack my toothbrush….well, maybe my underwear. As easy as they are making everything for us, the move will still be painful as we love our first house.

My best friend from high school came to kick off our summer.
This house has filled our days with love and joy. Every guest that has come to see our first home always comment on how lovely it is. They probably are just being polite, but even all the realtors that have come to appraise the property are confident that we will be able to sell the house quickly not only because it is in a prime location (one of the best neighborhoods in the city), but also because it has so much character to it and has been so well maintained. True enough, less than a week after it was listed, we had several offers. After we made a verbal agreement, somebody called asking to for a chance to overbid. Needless to say, we got more than we asked for the house.

This summer has been kind, blessing us with lots of rain. And our backyard bloomed!
I had planned to include a sprig of Crape Myrtle blooms from our trees in honor of our beautiful backyard and front yard, but I have so much in my mind lately that I forgot.  In its place instead is an old fashioned key that hangs from the doorknob of my bathroom. I think it best represents the house’s old world charm.

The bathroom where the key belongs to.
Anyway, my husband had hired landscapers to plant Crape Myrtles over a year ago, and I wasn’t pleased about it because it had not been cheap. But it all paid off as they now bring more color to our yards. Although not much grows in the back (thanks to the dogs), my husband works hard to keep the backyard somewhat looking decent as we love to hang out there on warmer days to entertain or enjoy a glass of wine (or two). His front yard is also his pride and joy. He has received numerous praises for it and the big joke in the neighborhood is that people are making bets on whether the grass is real or not.

Dining in our backyard is joy.
During sunny days, I also allow our child to roam free in the back to make mud pies in his fort or chase after our terrier while I watch from my office window. This is one of the many reasons why a good backyard is a non-negotiable when looking for a house. This means absolutely no townhouses or condominiums not only because there is something to be said about owning your own plot of land, but also because we want our own private backyard.

Travel white: shawl from Hanoi, Fugitive Poems by John Keats, Salvatore Ferragamo  
white bucks, and Calvin Klein leather tote.
You might notice that this banner is predominantly white, my ode to this white hot season.  It was taken in my home office, the last banner that will be shot in one of my favorite places in the house. Yahoo recently wrote about the white purse trend for the season of the sun, and of course I have my own white tote from Calvin Klein, one of my summer must-haves. When my son was a newborn, I made do without a purse for the longest time, simply because it was a hassle to tote around a baby bag, a purse, and on most times, a camera bag. Not counting the baby carrier of course, and the stroller, and the Baby Bjorn and on and on and on. Then I discovered the magic of the big tote – a mommy purse and a baby bag in one and a camera bag too! My white leather Calvin Klein tote does it all for me.

My place of worship overlooks the backyard.

If you’ve been traveling with me for a while now, you would know that I have little love for all things frou-frou, including baby bags.  For my baby shower, my sister-in-law had gifted me the JJ Cole Swag Bag, a little too expensive for my taste, at least for a baby bag that I know I won’t be using for long, but I like it because it is not too obvious and still stylish, I think. And while we’re on the topic of stylish baby stuff, I gotta rave about our stroller – the Quinny Maxi Cosi. I love it not only because it’s lightweight and easy to maneuver (unlike the common clunky ones) but also because it’s like a modern version of the traditional baby carriage (btw if you’re looking for a stroller the JJ Cole Broadway 360 is similar to the Quinny one. Really cute!). People have stopped me several times, complimenting the stroller and the baby of course (I love how people here are generous with their compliments. Even strangers come up to you and say, “I love your dress”, or “cute shoes, where did you get it?”, or “gorgeous baby!”)!

Love this stroller. Love this house. Love this life!

Now that all that baby stuff is out of the way – after all, my baby is now a big boy – let’s move on to the other items on the desk. The handmade bracelet is one of the gifts my husband had brought home from a business trip in the Bahamas. And I got the camera pendant from a little boutique during my last trip to Bacolod. It’s one of those cheap kitschy products from Korea, but I think it’s cute.   

The book for this summer is the Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I’ve always known her as the tragic poet, and I’ve never found the taste for poetry except for a few moving lines from Rumi. But recently, a friend had mentioned that Plath did write a novel, and I thought fiction from a Pulitzer Prize winner would be worth the time, tragic or not. Besides, it is an American classic.

Another little milestone for Ana Viajera.

A number of people had asked me how I choose my reading list. Aside from the classics and the literary canon, I usually go with the suggestions of writer friends. The New York Times can also be a good guide but then they’ve also been known to give a thumbs-up to the likes of Paris Hilton. I have been guilty of wasting my time reading a few NY Times bestselling potboilers and shallow reads like Daniel Steel, Sidney Sheldon and the like back in the summers of my high school years, but I guess as a writer, it is something that I had to go through. One of my mentors had said once that you have to know what is out there – the good and the bad - to know what to avoid or emulate.

One of my summer shoots.
With Plath being a poet, I had expected her prose to be more lyrical, but she surprised me. She did not bother to impress with lyricism. In fact her language was straight forward, oftentimes blunt, but not to say that her work is less than remarkable.  

Love shooting at Bricktown because of all the interesting elements.
Esther Greenwood, the disturbed main character, is somebody that I can’t identify with, yet she made me laugh and cry. I can’t understand why she wants to end her life in spite of how the universe has been so generous. She also despises the picket fence kind of life, the kind that I think I live although my fence posts are rainbow colored.

The JJ Cole diaper bag I used, before I discovered the practicality
of the big tote (photo from
“The last thing I wanted to get married. The Last thing I wanted was infinite security and to be the place an arrow shoots from,” says the heroine. Esther is my complete opposite. I DO want infinite security and it gives me joy to be somebody’s place where an arrow shoots from.  I am one of the characters she loathes, the ones who would have reveled in that glamorous internship in a top fashion publication in NY. She would probably think of me as shallow and vapid the same way I would have found her exasperating and tedious.  This is one of the reasons why I found her novel fascinating as it offered a different perspective to life, because what may be exciting to one can be dull to another.

Just because we were crazy busy didn't mean
we weren't able to squeeze in some sun worship!
And although Esther and I are complete opposites, there is one thing that I agree with her. Like her, “I wanted change and excitement and to shoot in all directions myself, like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket.”

I wasn't able to take pics of a lot of fireworks, but I think this small one
outshines the big guns. Surely you can tell why.


As the seasons change, so will my desktop banner. I will be adding little touches to it, moving the items around, and customizing it for the season. I will archive its transformation on My Desk. 

Read more about how I put the banner together and how my real writer's desk looks like at My Desk. And tell me how your desk looks like, and I will tell you who you are.


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