" . . . poetry is our most ancient form of prayer, 
is a healing medicine . . . can be a nondenominational form of prayer, 
a companion through difficulty, 
a doorway to the soul, and a direct conduit 
to an inner source of joy, peace and inspiration." 
~ K.Rosen

Horsehoe Cove
thank you, Great Spirit, for the words 
that bespeak our deepest thoughts . . .  
Delphic like the massive plunge of the inlet's sandbar
. . . that connect to our most heartful memories -- 
saddened that our loved ones will not be seated at the dinner table
to celebrate holidays like today -- 
blessings surround us
like the bayshore's lapping waves 
as we whisper thanksgivings 
in Horseshoe Cove, our humble sanctuary 

What I miss
The holidays don't seem to be the same without Dad.  As A. & I drove home down the NJ Turnpike, we talked about what's different.  We still shuffle between our families -- Thanksgiving lunch with his family, dinner with mine.  The same people are in attendance -- minus Dad.   And then I realized, our gatherings lack a certain color to them that Dad always managed to radiate. While some family members can be quite colorful, it's not the same extroverted banter that Dad enthusiastically shared during the holidays.  He had his moments that would leave us in bellyaching laughter, unable to breathe.  And that's what I miss most.  

I guess that's why younger kids' crazy energy is so delightful at family gatherings.  A strong reminder to be in the present.  Thank you to my nephews, two-and-a-half-year-old J. & one-year-old-plus S., for being my amusing prompts today!


A shower of lil monkeys & more

This past weekend, we attended M. & R.'s baby shower in Stamford (CT) thrown by Tita R., M.'s mom, at their home.  M. and I have been family friends since we were six years old.  M. & R. came in from OH where they moved a little over a year ago.  To go with their zoo animals theme, my cousins, K. (in from GA) and M. (in from CA), decided to bake monkey cupcakes.  

Naturally, I am ecstatic for M. & R. who have been together for the past 22 years.  For the longest time, they were a couple who'd decided they didn't want kids and were madly content with their familial entourage of farm animals -- dogs, guinea pigs, birds, hamsters -- all who followed them to their new home in OH.  For the longest time, they'd made it clear to family and friends that they were not interested in expanding their family to include children, and no one bothered them about their decision as they remained the favorite uncle and aunt on R.'s side of the family.  

Almost two Christmases ago, M. shared that she and R. changed their minds and were going to be not-so-cautious and try getting pregnant.  At the time, I'd also shared that we'd been trying for quite some time, nothing was happening, and we were eager to start our adoption process.  Beyond first tier testing to be more informed about our fertility as a couple, we'd never been the kind of folks who'd wanted to explore pregnancy through all medical means possible, and we'd discussed adoption as a choice to expanding our family since we dated.  We've also been quite aware that stress does not work in favor of getting pregnant -- from A.'s open heart surgery to Dad's cancer journey and death.  

Still, baby showers are always a source of momentary anxiety as I anticipate the usual -- 
Do you have kids? . . . Why not? . . . Maybe you'll be next?  Comments that M. & I used to endure together for many years.  

I tried very hard to have a positive attitude as this was M. & R.'s celebration, and I am genuinely excited for them.  Still . . . 

I'd just walked through the door and hadn't taken my coat off yet, when . . . there it was. The source of my anxiety.  Tita E., whom I've known since I was a little girl and whose own daughter, C. who married a year ago is pregnant and due next week, greets me with an innocently enough enthusiastic, "Are you next?"

Feeling the not-so-shocking blow but a blow nonetheless, I put my coat and bag down in one of the bedrooms and head straight for the wine bar.  After all, I'm not pregnant, I can drink.  I proceed to have a glass of red, then white, alternate with a bottle of water, then another glass of red.  I was excruciatingly annoyed.  What if we'd been trying to get pregnant, had multiple failed IVF attempts and were crushed that pregnancy was just not an option for us?  

I can accept cultural and generational excuses to some degree.  Not really.  

Thankfully I didn't go ballistic though A. says maybe I should try it next time.  That should quiet any nosy tita who wants to know when I'll be next.  

As the evening went on, another tita who happens to be an adoptee herself and whom I hadn't seen in years felt comfortable enough to ask, Do you have kids?  I responded, Not yet. But we're in the adoption process.  

No reaction.  Our conversation ended there.

Still, K., M. & I had a lovely time catching up.  I was heartened when M. introduced us to her other friends as her "sisters."  I was even more charmed by the three playful four-year-olds at the festivities, one of whom especially reminded me of a young apl. from the band Black Eyed Peas, who was sponsored through PSB (our agency).    

Four seems to be a great age.  Maybe our lil monkey will look just like him.

Wishing M. & R. a most healthy pregnancy as they wait to welcome X.!  


Local gems

As we continue to wait for our child match, every so often A. & I throw with-our-child-isms into the conversation.  For example, we finally visited Cheesequake State Park just 15 minutes from our home.  It took four years to decide to go on a hike there.  A. assumed it was a not-so-lovely nature preserve.  We were pleasantly surprised by the range of difficulty of hiking trails and the local flavor.

With-our-child-ism:  Can’t wait to take our child on hikes at Cheesequake Park.

As we hiked the moderate blue trail, we stumbled upon hash-a-thon runners, one of whom was dressed in fishnet stockings and revealing turquoise shorts (didn't seem like running shorts).  Once the herd passed us, A. turned over a handful of logs searching for salamanders & snakes. 

Stepping on pine needles, strolling past the lake fishermen, spotting the ospreys’ nests across the salt marches made for a most meditative Sunday outing.  And after our hike, we hit our favorite Keyport bruncheonette, a local gem -- Lenora's, where the crunchy french toast, authentic huevos rancheros and homemade turkey klub sandwich on multigrain are my personal favorites, all baja fresh and artfully prepared by Lenora herself.

(Can't wait to take our child to Lenora's.)

What a way to taste the autumn!


Holiday's approach

fallen leaves drift
as memories pour from the cerulean
and down my face
unafraid of your guardian angelic love
i glance above
and catch a peek --
your winged embrace coasts down sunbeams
and jostles me


Sama-sama (Together)

hinahanap namin kapayapaan
at ipasok natin
  . . . bilang kung ang aming huling hininga
puntos ng liwanag
magkasabay sa pagkakaisa

we seek peace
and we enter 
  . . . as if our last breaths
points of light 
together in harmony

Salamat, E., E., A. & A., for sharing in the journey towards illumination.


Remembering Smoky Mountain's Children

my heart burns
like dreggy diapers and rancid leftovers
erode into Smoky Mountain
where child hunters
climb the garbage steps
into homely scrap metal slumber
and sister merchants
fancied with perfumed sampaguita necklaces
catwalk alongside Manila traffic