pink has never been this pretty

spring flowers

it stands in the middle of our front yard, this tree. i don’t know what it’s called but right now, it’s the prettiest i’ve ever seen it. blossoming wildly in the beginnings of a warmer season. pink and white petals on the branches and on the ground. a beautiful confetti scattered on top of the grasses that badly needs jeff’s mowing.

spring is finally here.

i can’t wait to do up the yard my green thumb is itching. hahahaha. if you know me, you’d also know that’s the biggest joke ever. i don’t have a green thumb. i once planted weeds — weeds! — and they died. in spite of me watering them regularly and all that shit. (for the record, they were the kind of really nice-looking flowering weeds that grow near rivers so, no, i wasn’t crazy.)

but, yeah, the flowers at the front look so lovely they deserve a blog post. thank god i have a photographer husband who’s happy to go along with my request, on account that he just bought himself a sony A7R mark 2.

or should i say, THE SONY A7R MARK 2. in a morgan freeman voice. because apparently, in the world of cameras, sony’s killing it. you should hear jeff talk about this shit. if the topic won’t hold your interest, his unbridled enthusiasm definitely will. lol.

anyway, back to the pretty stuff:

spring flowersspring flowersspring flowersspring flowers

these photos were taken last sunday. he took some nice pictures around the neighborhood too ‘coz he went for a walk. ironic, because i was the one who bought a fitbit on that day to challenge me to take more steps and he was the one who went for a walk. go figure.


wanna build a snowman, bro?

mt. bawbaw, victoria, australia

it was a good 1 and a half to 2-hour trip up to mt. baw baw from moe. there’s not really much to see along the way, unless you’re the type who gets blown away by stunning scenery. which i am. except that i was sleeping pretty much the whole time, like i said. a waste of window seat jeff was kind enough to offer, with me being a snow virgin and all.

mt. baw baw, victoria, australia

after what seemed like 10 years, the bus suddenly moved at a very slow pace. a long line of cars. some moving slowly with us, the others parked on the side. i was suddenly giddy.

is this it?

but where’s the snow?!

turns out we had to do a bit of a pit stop that didn’t involve emptying out your bladder. apparently, the roads were f*cked. meaning, it was iced all over and every one who wasn’t driving 4WDs needed to put on tire chains to temporarily boost the industry that’s supplying, manufacturing or renting them out.

now, i’ve read about tire chains in books but prior to that day, i had no idea what they look like or how you put them on. i know they prevent cars from skidding on icy roads but at the same time, i also wondered if having chains around the tires would also prevent them from rotating. because, you know, janjan’s law of motion or whatever.

it still spins but it does affect the speed of the car. but i reckon a slow-moving vehicle on an uphill drive is better than a fast-moving one sliding downhill out of control. jeff said that if your car’s engine is at the front, the tire chains go on the front wheels. if it’s at the back, then they go on the back wheels. i’m no expert in cars so i might just have to take his word for it. this time.

and so with probinsyana curiosity, i watched our driver, as well as other drivers, attach tire chins. kneeling on muddy ground, placing the chains in position, moving the car forward to align the chains to the tires, getting out of the car to secure the chains into place. doing the same routine again for the other tire. at that point, i was just really thankful to not live in a place where there’s snow and ice. no offense to the people who do. but i could just imagine the hassle of going through all that, i don’t know, every day?

mt. baw baw, victoria, australia

it took a while before the snow-covered trees and plants manifested themselves once we hit the road again — albeit, slowly. everything was so white and oh-so pretty it kind of makes your heart skip a beat.

“OMIGOD, ARE YOU CRYING?” jeff practically shouted asked, loud enough for the other passengers to hear. tormenting me with his teasing laughter.

for the record, something got stuck in my eye and jeff was being a poofter.

mt. baw baw, victoria, australiamt. baw baw, victoria, australiamt. baw baw, victoria, australia

i have to admit that the moment i jumped out of the bus and into the snowy pavement for the first time in my life, the first word that came to my mind was slush. because where i was, it was wet and well, not snow white snowy, you know what i mean? not the pretty white but rather, the gray or brown ones. dirty, leftover footprints and tire tracks melting into tiny, dark, disheartening puddles.

but the walk inside the resort was something different, though. i felt like a kid teleported to the north pole.

“merry christmas, jeffy!” i greeted him maybe once or twice. okay, thrice.

i couldn’t help it. i’ve always equated christmas with snow and reindeers and santa claus. typical illustrations on the holiday greeting cards i grew up seeing right around january because the local post sucked at delivering snail mails on time.

mt. baw baw, victoria, australiamt. baw baw, victoria, australiamt. baw baw, victoria, australia

one of mt. baw baw alpine resort‘s popular tourist activities is tobogganing. i’m kind of a scaredy cat when it comes to pretty much everything adventure-y stuff (except for ziplines. the longer and higher, the better. the shorter ones kind of induce irrational panic within me like that time when…). but, man, even the 3-year old kids sliding down the slopes looked like they were having the time of their lives i figured, hey, why not?

turns out, it was actually quite fun. but then i worried too much about running into other people that i would keep trying to slow my pace with my feet if i could help it. because forget steering. those split-second decisions of veering left or right had me gripping on the ropes and mentally making the sign of the cross while i closed my eyes and prayed that i don’t hit anyone to a point of concussion.

but everyone hit everyone at one point anyway and they’re all cool with it so no dramas. when you’re there, you just have to watch out for yourself and not deliberately ram into people like a tobogganer from hell.

mt. baw baw, victoria, australia

as it is an alpine resort and all, you can also go skiing in there. i saw a lot of little kids practicing on their cute skis and an even cuter grandma who was doing the same.

mt. baw baw, victoria, australiamt. baw baw, victoria, australia

if i really think about it, jeff and i were just there for picture-taking purposes. and speculating whether or not to buy this gorgeous lodge for sale that we both know we could not afford. yet.

mt. baw baw, victoria, australia

and settling with taking photos of adorable huskies who’ll take you and a friend for a ride for $100+ a pop.

take me to the snow

lo and behold, wordpress now has distraction-free writing mode!

it’s been a long time. feels like forever. even jeff’s been asking me why i haven’t blogged for so long, or have but so erratically.

i don’t know.

“been busy practicing calligraphy” is a pretty good excuse so let’s just leave it at that. although, not really.

girly sent me a video link of the youngest pen master in the world. said that it reminded her of me. and while it’s flattering to have one of your bestfriends suggest that you’re talented as hell, you also kind of have to factor in the fact that for all their wonderful intentions, they could also be blinded with bias love. but i certainly wouldn’t mind being branded a pen master in the future, though. if only i can get past italics which is like infancy stage as far as learning calligraphy is concerned.

life is good. last sunday, we went to the snow. my very first time to ever see one except for those times i shoved my head in the freezer when i was a kid. or watched in fascination as my breath fogged up inside S&R’s freezer room as a self-respecting adult.

it’s not that far from here, the snow. well, it is kinda far in terms of distance but considering that the roads and the traffic here are pretty good, i’d say it takes about 2-3 hours to get there. that includes a generous amount of leeway as i’m probably the last person you’d wanna ask directions from. just so you won’t call me a liar, take that estimate with a grain of salt. i kinda fell asleep along the way.

and who wouldn’t? we left really early. like, 7am early. which meant waking up at around 6 and hearing jeff say “baby, hurry up, they’re waiting for us!” once every 2 minutes as i fumbled into the set of snow gear i borrowed from jeff’s cousin. or should i say, jeff’s cousin’s 12-year old son. (fits like a glove, i tell ya. lol.)

victoria, australiavictoria, australia

“wow, look at those rangers!” jeff exclaimed, simultaneously driving and taking in the scenery at the same time.

it cracks me up how he always says ranges with an R. every time he does, i have to remind myself that he’s not talking about forest men in brown uniforms and cowboy hats. then again, i’m starting to get used to australians putting an R in their words when there’s none and omitting them when there’s one.

and just to indulge jeff a bit, yes, the rangers are pretty amazing. driving in the regional areas of victoria sometimes feels like driving through a lush forest. it really is very nature-y down here.

oh, yeah, we had to drive to moe. pronounced as maw-ee. about an hour’s drive from home. that’s not where the snow is. it’s the meeting area where we get on the bus for the pre-arranged trip to mt. baw baw.

victoria, australiamoe, victoria, australia

moe’s a quiet little town. i can actually see myself jogging around its blocks. except that i don’t really jog. at all. but i don’t know if i’d wanna live there, though. i find it a bit too far. sure, there’s the v-line train but like i said before, v-line trains service regional areas that are way out of reach for the metro lines. and while regional areas definitely have their charm, i don’t know how i’m going to survive without internet, or a very unstable one at that.

moe, victoria, australia

either we got to moe very early or the bus was late. either way, in true jeff valledor form, he took the opportunity to take his camera for a romantic stroll. taking pictures of cobwebs and moss and trees hibernating during the winter.

i, on the other hand, took my sweet time playing cookie jam. the sound of jason’s soft snore who was sleeping in the backseat fading away as i concentrated on clearing all the waffles and boxing all the goodies just so i could get to the next level.

moe, victoria, australiamoe, victoria, australia

outside my little addiction cocoon, little aurora took her mom and dad for a walk.

by the time the bus arrived, all this had already happened:

moe, victoria, australiamoe, victoria, australiamoe, victoria, australia

see you on the other side…


me and daddy

it’s always a treat to see old photos of you as a kid. especially if once upon a time you were a really cute kid. which i like to think i was. hahaha.

you know what makes it even sweeter? seeing a very old picture of you and the father whom you love more than life itself looking at you like he felt the same way right at that very moment.

that, for me, seals the deal.

but i do have the greatest father in the world. it makes me ugly cry writing this right now but i’m very lucky to be blessed with such a wonderful dad (and mom too, of course) who now happens to be a wonderful lolo (and lola) to these kiddos.

the huge retro glasses might be gone and some wrinkles might have formed here and there. but that look in his eyes is the one thing time hasn’t touched.

daddy and adiaeva and adi


i can’t draw pretty things but i can now write pretty words


i thought it’s a dying art. i was wrong. nowadays, it seems like everyone’s taking up interest on calligraphy. and i just jumped on the bandwagon.

i’m on week 2 now.

2 weeks of re-learning how to painstakingly write every letter and every systematic stroke.

i feel like a child again. but then again, i was always that kid who was asking my mom how to write and/or spell this word and that. i’ve always loved writing so might as well improve my penmanship while i’m at it.

as geeky as i am about to sound, i find calligraphy very therapeutic. it’s the equivalent of watching fishes in the aquarium for ADHD kids. it literally shuts my mind up. mainly because majority of the time i’m too focused on making sure that each and every letter is perfectly written, according to how it should be written. so while it treats my existing psychiatric disorders, it creates another one: OCD.

you win some, you lose some.

while calligraphy is striving for perfection, it’s very forgiving to mistakes. and trust me, there are a lot of mistakes. i find myself congratulating and berating myself with every other letter because just when i nail one, i fuck up the next. it’s a cycle that goes on and on and i’m starting to feel okay with that. as long as i’m learning in the process, then it’s all good. =)

the one place my spirit always goes to when my body is asleep: what i wrote about at the creative writing workshop

if you ask me if i’d still wanna join another creative writing workshop, the answer is… i don’t know. probably. probably not.

the two-part workshop i attended the last two saturdays was nice. well, i didn’t exactly learn anything technical but then again, technicalities fuck up creativity to some extent. what i did learn was to appreciate this thing that i have going in terms of being able to come up with beautiful proses out of my love/hate relationship with life and all its dramas.

so, yeah, i paid $20 for people to validate my worth as a writer. something i always get for free from girlie and jeff. (god forbid they start charging me now.) but if anything, it was worth every dollar. everyone there was just really nice and encouraging. a lot of them were REALLY GOOD. and i mean REALLY GOOD. caps lock and all. and for them to tell me that i did great as well was definitely an ego booster. (i’m still shy as hell, though, so i’m probably the last person you’d see walking around with an inflated ego.)

now, the reason i’m kinda hesitant to join another creative writing workshop is that i feel i’m not really serious enough to want to write a book or get myself published big-time. writing is just something that i do and love to do and would continue to do and if it leads me to that path, then good. if not, then i’d still be here doing my thing, regardless.

i’m going to shut up now and share with you guys what i wrote, albeit nervously. (no kidding, i’m actually as nervous at the thought of typing this down as i was reading it at the workshop.)

here we go.

dear jan,

they say it’s one of the oldest houses in your hometown. your mother proudly boasts about the year it was constructed. 1935. an old yellow ancestral house with wooden doors and wide open windows that have welcomed several typhoons, as well as hundreds of guests over the years. while keeping the dark secrets from revealing themselves to the outside world.

it’s a nice house. you spent most of your childhood in it. surrounded by fruit trees and flowers your mom religiously watered everyday, you have grown to love it even when you hated the toilet, with all its shabbiness and lack of proper lighting.

the trains have long since retired. the train tracks that used to sit near the house have all been removed. some of the metal components, perhaps stolen. but it fascinates you to think about a railway station nearby. even when you never even witnessed it for yourself because the trains have long since stopped operating before you were even born.

the house, at one point, was shaped like a cross. your grandfather took it upon himself to renovate the house to shelter such a large family — him, your grandmother, your mother and her 8 brothers and sisters. he was a good man, your grandfather. a very good, talented genius of a man who built the first windmill in your town. when he wasn’t drunk. unfortunately, he was drunk pretty much every day of the week when his vices finally took hold of him and his personality.

funny, though, how he gave you your name even when he was already dead. his ingenuity found a way to break through astral dimensions and into your father’s dreams when your mom was still carrying you in her tummy. “name the child jewey,” he said. your father woke up and wrote the name down on a calendar that was hanging on the wall. he didn’t even know if you were going to be a girl or a boy. but he knew how to spell your name. your grandfather spelled it out to him as part of his instruction.

so now you wonder what that dream could mean. you wonder if you really are that special. well, you are. you don’t know how or why yet but like your father’s dream, it will come to you.

the house is still there now. broken. dilapidated. aging badly like a person who lost care in the world. but in your dreams, it looks just as good as when you were last living in it. almost all of your dreams have its setting there. as if you never left. as it it’s the one place your spirit always goes to when you’re sleeping.

ever since you came to australia, you don’t dream about the house no more. in your dreams, you are somewhere else. somewhere you’ve never even been to or remotely familiar with.

why is that?

on creative writing

okay, so i joined a creative writing workshop last saturday. i thought it was about time i improve on my writing skills and maybe learn a trick or two on how to write creatively.

however, no tips or tricks were dispensed that day. instead, we were asked to write a letter to ourselves describing the place we live. a writing prompt that gave us 30 minutes to exercise our minds and purge out words from our pens.

i never really had any trouble writing it. just as i didn’t have any trouble defying the instructions. because while i started with “dear jan,” i followed it up with sentences and paragraphs describing a house i have not lived in for 12 years.  i don’t even know why i chose that as my subject. i guess i’ve never really been a stickler to rules.

as we were all just sitting down, it wasn’t my knees that were shaking when i read my writing out loud to an audience of strangers. it was my voice. funny how the words flowed smoothly while i was writing it but when it came to actually reading it for other people to hear, the words somehow became unreadable and all i heard was the beating of my heart clashing against my thoughts silently screaming “omigod, why did i even volunteer to read this crap?”

somebody in the group must have uttered “wow!” because that was the first thing i heard when i finished reading my last sentence which wasn’t really a sentence because it ended with a question mark. either that, or i was hallucinating. but they all thought it was really good and i was just in disbelief as i still am now. like, really?!

fiona tuomy, the coach, said it was a creative piece of work. jeff, who’s very creative himself, thought it was brilliant when i read it to him later that night. (bless him, he is such a wonderful and supportive husband.)

so now i wonder, WHAT (REALLY) IS CREATIVITY?

but more importantly, why can’t i see it in myself when i can so easily and clearly see it in others? weird.