Wednesday, April 30, 2014

California: Night Tour of Santa Monica Pier

The Santa Ana winds are blowing causing very warm weather in Southern California. We visited the Santa Monica Pier one evening and found people promenading or fishing. Some people were wading in the ocean.

Here are some pictures taken at the Santa Monica pier and nearby Chez Jay Restaurant. Click on the picture to make it larger, and enjoy.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Funny picture: Cat in Desk Drawer

"Oh, hi, there! Um... what's that? You want your desk back?" my cat said to me.

Read also
Immugen for Cats & Dogs
My Cat's Sick - Allergy
Kiki, a Story About Our Cat

All for now,

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Syria War: Child Soldiers - This is very sad!

 Child Soldiers in Syria - This is very sad!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Guest Blogger: Paulino Lim, Jr., "Preface to a Work in Progress" - Sabong

Dear Readers,
Our Guest Blogger is Paulino Lim, Jr., whose new anthology, SABONG, is forthcoming. Dr. Lim says Sabong "comes from the log of a lifetime voyage of teaching. The stories conform to Edgar Allan Poe’s idea of the short story as an artistic composition controlled to produce a single unified effect. The “Etc.” section sheds light on the fictional elements, as well as history, language and philosophy."

Friday, April 25, 2014

Creative Writing Class: "Getting Started" at Writers' Program, UCLA Extension, by Cecilia Brainard

I'm teaching a beginning class at the Writers' Program, UCLA Extension, beginning May 7, for six weeks.  We'll be looking at fundamentals such as character, conflict, dialogue, point of view, plot, voice, setting, scene, etc. I like to conduct my workshops in a supportive way so students are in a safe environment.

Because of my busy schedule, I don't teach all the time, so if you're interested in being in my writing workshop, do join us.  Call Katy Flaherty at 1-310-206-0951 for further information.

The Course Description of "Getting Started" follows:

Many aspire to write creatively, but few know how to get started. This supportive workshop provides you with many fundamental techniques to motivate and guide you. You learn how to use observation and personal experience to create dynamic characters and dialogue, and to write from different points of view. By the end of the course, you will have met your goal of writing creatively, with a series of short sketches or a draft of a short story in hand.

 Read also

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Witness Your Healing through the Intercession Mother Mary!

An Invitation to Witness Your Healing through the intercession of Mother Mary. Please email your letters directly to Anton Luat,

Hello Ms. Cecilia Brainard
My name is Anton Luat and I am a student from St. Robert Catholic High School in Toronto, Canada. I've read your wonderful book on Mama Mary's Pilgrim Sites and I know________personally -- she is a good friend of mine. Your book on Our Lady has inspired me and my club mates at our Chaplaincy club to do a project for Mama Mary this coming May. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Concepcion's Great-Granddaughter Wears a Tiara too

Today's blog entry is for pure fun, dear Readers. 
My mother, who was Petit Carnival Queen of Cebu in 1931, would have been amused to see this picture of her great-granddaughter.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Pictures: Breaking the Pinatas from the Pinata District of LA, California

Dear Readers,
I'm sharing some pictures taken last Easter Sunday. In yesterday's blog I mentioned that we bought two pinatas from the Pinata District of Los Angeles, California. These pictures show the fulfillment of their destinies, and other Easter pictures. (Easter, which celebrates the Resurrection of Christ, is a major holiday in the United States.)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Pinata District of Los Angeles, California - Ole!

First of all, to those who don't know what a pinata is, it's a decorated container usually made of papier mache, which is filled with candy and small toys, and then broken at a celebration. In Los Angeles, pinatas are popular in children's parties. Children line up to have a turn at whacking the pinata with a stick; the kids are blindfolded and the pinata is usually pulled up and down with a rope so it's more difficult to hit it.

Easter: He Is Risen! ~ With pictures of the Stone of Anointing and Galilee

"On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

My Two Paelleras and Paella Recipe - Cooking with Cecilia

 I'm sharing with you pictures of my two paelleras and favorite paella recipe.

I got the stainless steel paellera from Madrid, Spain, decades ago.  It was somewhat expensive but I really wanted it. It was a wise buy because I've used it a lot.

The copper one came from Chile. A group of us were in a car when we saw a man selling copper pots and pans by the side of the road. We stopped and I bought this one. It has a lid, but the lid has irregular patina, so it hasn't been included in my blog.  I could polish the copper with lemon juice to shine it up, but I actually love the dull copper patina, so I'll leave it alone.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Syria War - #Save Homs & #Save Aleppo - In Solidarity with the Syrian People

In Solidarity with the Syrian People

"The United Nations envoy to Syria on Thursday said the besieged central city of Homs has become a 'theater of death and destruction,' and he urged both sides of the country's civil war to return to negotiations... The central city has seen some of the worst fighting in the three-year-old conflict..." from Syria's warring sides must save Homs, UN envoy urges 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Olive Trees of Gethsemane and Matthew 26

Since it's Holy Thursday, I'm sharing pictures of Gethsemane, which I took. It is said that some of the olive trees witnessed the Passion of Christ.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Health: The Sugarcane Plantations of the Philippines and Muscovado

I take Muscovado daily, primarily for the health benefits. It has a lot of magnesium, potassium, calcium, chromium, iron, zinc, and other minerals. It also has Vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, plus cholorphyll, antioxidants, soluble fiber and other healthy compounds.

 My friend, Bingbing Garrovillo Ponce de Leon, has been supplying me with Muscovado from Negros Island, Philippines.

The Island of Negros, in Central Philippines, has traditionally grown sugarcane on vast haciendas. I recall in the 1960s, when the world price of sugar was high, the kids from Negros whose families owned sugar plantations, used to fly over to my island of Cebu for the weekend. Young men owned Cadillacs and other luxury items; the sugar made them very wealthy.

When Ferdinand Marcos was in power, he and his cronies controlled the sugar, coconut and other industries, causing quite a scandal, one that contributed to Marcos's downfall.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Garden: Helping the Birds and the Bees with a Feeder and Fountains

I was happy to find some birds at my bird feeder. The birds can finish the contents of my bird feeder quickly, and so I parse the feed out, otherwise they finish a sack of feed quickly.  The squirrel also comes and I find him/her hanging from the branch almost committing suicide to get to the feed.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Los Angeles, California: The Fairfax District and Canter's Deli

In mid-Los Angeles, there's an area called the Fairfax District, known as the Jewish center of LA. A favorite tourist stop, it has a lively Farmer's market, CBS Television City, Canter's delicatessen, among other sites.

Canters, which has been operating since 1931, is considered a Los Angeles institution. Open 24-hours a day and close to the Hollywood scene, it's been patronized by Marilyn Monroe, Arthur Miller, Jack Benny, Elizabeth Taylor, Sydney Poitier, Mel Brooks, Wilt Chamberlain and many others.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Vigan, Philippines: Four Women, a Man, and a Four-poster Bed

I'm remembering the time when some friends (Cynthia Posa, Maribel Paraz, Mila Aguilar) and I went to the City of Vigan, in Northern Philippines. We stayed at the historic Villa Angela, a centenarian heritage mansion, where the actor Tom Cruise stayed while filming Fourth of July. He occupied the master's bedroom, the Cuarto del Senor.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Historic Chez Jay Restaurant in Santa Monica, California

For years we drove by a seedy little bar-restaurant, Chez Jay, on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. It looked like a trailer. It was right behind Rand Corporation and the Civic Center, and one block away from the ocean.

Friday, April 11, 2014

My Cats Make Me Laugh Every Day!

My cats make me laugh every day!

These two have been together from the womb of their alley cat mother. They were born behind a shrub and rescued by a saintly Animal Rescue Woman named Carol.

Tesla and Che (after Nikolai Tesla and Che Guevara, may they forgive me) were a few weeks old when we first saw them. Their first "Mom" Carol used to boil chicken for her rescued animals, and these two gray kittens were lapping up chicken broth with bits of chicken in it.

Following Carol's lead, I too boiled chicken for them at home, but they snubbed it. They are dreadfully picky. I've tried just about every label of canned food, and they'll eat a bit, then they'll hate it. Their dry food is Royal Canin Special Formula for Sensitive Stomach.  Yes, they are prone to regurgitating. And Tesla needs a Lysine pill everyday because of a chronic virus condition. Imagine what fun it is to catch him, pry his mouth open and shove that pill down his gullet. (In fact, he's quite good about this and even "arranges" the pill in his mouth so he can swallow it.)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

GUEST BLOGGER: Evelyn Ibatan Rodriguez, "Celebrating Debutantes and Quinceanieras"

Our Guest Blogger is EVELYN IBATAN RODRIGUEZ, sharing with us an excerpt from her recent book, Celebrating Debutantes and Quinceanieras: Coming of Age in American Ethnic Communities (Temple University 2013). Evelyn is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of San Francisco.  Thank you, Evelyn!

"Rodriguez presents a nuanced reading of the coming-of-age celebration in both Mexican and Filipino communities in her analysis of the two vis-à-vis larger issues of representation and situated identities. Her careful and insightful writing about issues that seem to lie beneath the surface of many of these celebrations includes extensive quotes from fieldwork that add depth and meaning to the analysis and discussion of the sexuality and complex social and economic networks inherent in these rituals." 
Norma Elia Cantú, Professor of Latina/o Studies and English at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and author of Canícula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Syria War: Jesuit Father Frans Van der Lugt Murdered in Homs

 "I don't see Muslims or Christians, I see, above all, human beings (who) hunger to lead a normal life." - by Jesuit priest, Father Frans Van Der Lugt, shot to death in Homs, April 7, 2014, after refusing to leave besieged city.
The following is from Morning Star News, copyright 2014 by Morning Star News

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Garden Update: How My Orchids and Cannibal Plants Are Doing

Garden Update - I've been puttering around the yard, re-potting plants, fussing with my orchids and carnivorous plants (Nepenthes and Sarracenia Purpurea). I also checked to make sure there are wild bees in my garden - and yes there are, although not very many.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Syria - Bashar al-Assad's Victory "Mine! Mine! All mine!"

Bashar al-Assad's Victory: "Mine! Mine! All mine!"

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Visiting Cambria (and Surroundings) in the Central Coast of California

From the Los Angeles area to Cambria in the Central Coast California, we have to drive north through the Ventura area, the Santa Barbara region, to the San Luis Obispo region, a driving trip of around 4 1/2 hours.

The Central Coast is usually chilly, but this visit, it's been warm and picture-perfect. "Central Coast" evokes images of seashore and bluffs, and stretches of vineyards. There are many wineries in the Central Coast, and wine tasting is a favorite tourist activity,

During this visit to Cambria, we broke the drive by having lunch at Brophy's Restaurant in Santa Barbara. Brophy's has excellent clam chowder and views of the harbor.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Pictures of Gardens and Water Elements

I must have Spring Fever because I'm thinking of gardens a lot.

Here are some pictures of gardens with water elements.

The one on the right was taken in Burma; it's a flower arrangement in a huge jar with water.

The next three fountains with plants were taken at Sonya's Garden in Tagaytay, Philippines.

The picture with the koi was taken at Antonio's in Tagaytay as well.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Interaction Between Lepers and Regular Folk - Che Guevara Quote

My work-in-progress involves a fictional leper colony in the Philippines in 1909. I've been doing research and some of you may have read my earlier blog entries about Carville and Culion. From that research, I had enough information to get the chapter rolling, but then I got stuck, not really understanding how much interaction lepers had with regular folk.  The lepers were isolated after all, and it seemed to me logical that they would have extremely limited contact with people, beyond perhaps those providing health care.

I remembered the movie, "Motorcycle Diaries" - a good movie, by the way - based on Che Guevara's writings. The movie and book include a section where Che and his friend Alberto go to La Colonia de San Pablo in Peru. The movie makes a symbolic act out of Che's swimming in the Amazon: on the night of his 24th birthday, while they were celebrating his birthday in the compound for non-lepers, Che swims the river to join the lepers. I love the book and movie.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Garden: The Flower Market of Burma (Myanmar)

My gardening activities have triggered the memory of the Flower Market of Maymyo in Burma (Myanmar). We visited Burma two years ago, the hottest time in Burma, but it was an opportune time to observe changes in the government. The military government decided to be less restrictive and Aung San Suu Kyi was released from her house arrest. "On April 1, 2012, she was elected to the ... lower house of the Burmese parliament ... and her party also won 43 of the 45 vacant seats in the lower house." (info from Wikipedia)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Garden: Bees and My Pride of Madeira Bush

Several years ago when I learned that bees are dying (Colony Collapse Syndrome), I made an effort to plant bee friendly plants in my garden.  I have all sorts of flowers, but the bees love my Pride of Madeira Bush and Rosemary bushes most of all.  Here are some pictures.