Thursday, April 30, 2015

Travel: Monkeys and Growing up in the Philippines

The picture above was taken at a hill station in Southern India, at a lookout where tourists could view the mountains. Monkeys also gathered there to beg or steal. This little guy got a prize -- an ice cream cone, which he held and licked, just like a human being.

The other pictures were taken at a temple in India during another visit.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Gardening: Ginger in My Container Pot

Last fall I planted ginger, turmeric, and tomato in an oak barrel.  Nothing grew and I thought I'd wasted a lot of ginger and turmeric. But recently I've seen shoots coming out of the container pot, and some of them are clearly ginger (or turmeric). The tiny plant on the right side is a tomato plant. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Writing Workshop for St. Theresa's College Alumnae in Southern California

l-r: Edna Consing Concepcion, Marily Orosa, Cecilia Brainard, Lucila Dypiangco

I conducted a Creative Writing Workshop for some graduates of St. Theresa's College at Lucila Dypiangco's home last Sunday afternoon.  A group of around two dozen were there to learn some elements of creative writing.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Favorite YouTube Videos: Battle at Kruger & Thriller

Here are two of my favorite YouTube videos

1, The Battle at Kruger - This is very dramatic! It shows how some lions take down a young buffalo, and how some crocodiles drag the poor buffalo away from the lions, and how the buffaloes save the young buffalo.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Restaurant Review: Max's of Manila in La Puente Hills, California

l-r: Cecilia Brainard, Maria Ciocon, Sim Ciocon, Andy Heiter, Tina Heiter

Some friends and I had lunch at Max's of Manila, a Filipino restaurant, at La Puente Hills, California. To many Filipinos, Max's is a nostalgic place that brings back memories of yesteryears in Manila. The beginnings of the restaurant goes back to 1945 when Maximo Gimenez opened a cafe. The chicken, in particular, was popular, and soon other Max's Restaurants opened with the slogan "The house that Fried Chicken Built."

Family Pictures in the Hallway

Framed Collage of family pictures in the hallway - A whole lot of history in these pictures!

Read also

Friday, April 24, 2015

Flash Fiction: A Very Short Story by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

I've thinking about Flash Fiction or Short Shorts, and thought I'd find the ones I've written and share them with you.  Here's another one, which has 125 words. "A Very Short Story" is part of my second short story collection, Acapulco At Sunset and Other Stories.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Flash Fiction - The Dirty Kitchen by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

The writer Susan S. Lara recently conducted a writing workshop for participants of the Young Writers Workshop in Manila. She used one of my flash fiction or short short, "The Dirty Kitchen", along with other writers' works. Susan informed me her young work-shoppers "loved "The Dirty Kitchen" and empathized totally with your young protagonist."

To those who don't know, flash fiction or short short is a story that's under a thousand words. There is another category called micro fiction, which refers to stories that have less than 300 words.

"The Dirty Kitchen" has around 253 words.This story is part of my third short story collection, Vigan and Other Stories (Anvil 2011); it was first published in the anthology Fast Food Fiction (Anvil 2003).

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pets Animals: Pictures of My Cats

Here are random pictures of my cats.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Guest Blogger: Celine Conejos Reviews Restuarants in Brussels, Belgium

Our Guest Blogger is Celine Conejos, a Philippine Diplomat's wife, who is a permanent resident of Makati, although she currently lives in Geneva, Switzerland. She reviews hotel, restaurant, and attraction sites in TripAdvisor under the name of Coellum. She says this of herself:

"My father was very fond of traveling. He passed on his wanderlust to me. I enjoy traveling and planning for my trips. People close to me benefit from this. My children have many good memories of happy vacations together. At present, I live in Geneva temporarily. Being in the heart of Europe gives me many opportunities to see new places."

The following reviews of some restaurants in Brussels, Belgium, first appeared in TripAdvisor and are reprinted with Celine Conejos' permission. I look forward to posting more of her reviews about other places in my blog. Thanks to Celine Conejos for sharing her reviews.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Travel Pictures: Thinking of Paris, France

This Monday morning, I'm thinking of Paris, France. We're planning a trip there and I'm deciding on what clothes to pack. It's cooler there than Southern California. The temptation is to pack a lot, but my common sense and experience dictate packing light. This is difficult to do!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Cecilia Brainard Google+ 3.89 Million Views & Blog Stats

Cecilia Brainard
Google+  3,899,347  views

Many thanks to the visitors of my Google+, Blogspot, and Facebook sites.

This blog's top 10 all time visitors are from: United States. Philippines, Germany, France, Russia, Ukraine, Canada, United Kingdom, China, Poland.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Los Angeles Restaurant Review: Alejos vs Eddie's Italian Restaurants


We've been dining at Eddie's Italian Restaurant (4002 Lincoln Blvd., Marina del Rey 90292) for years. This used to be called Alejos, and we were aware that there was another Alejos in Westchester. Around three years ago, the two family-style restaurants must have split up because the one in Marina del Rey switched its name to Eddie's. But we knew there had been some kind of historic connection at one time.

Friday, April 17, 2015 Biography of Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

Someone forwarded this Biography of me in The bio mentions the name of the street I grew up, a name that is known to few people --- the name of the street has changed -- so I'm curious how the writer even knew about this.  I do like the reference to the Babaylan, a powerful female figure in the Philippines. Here's the bio:

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard Biography

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Namibia by Elaine Sweet, American Peace Corps Volunteer

Herero Ladies from Namibia

My friend Elaine Sweet, American Peace Corps Volunteer, who had served in Azerbaijan and the Philippines, is now in Namibia, a country in southern Africa. I have her permission to reprint her Easter letter and pictures taken in Opuwo, the capital of Namibia. Her report is fabulous, so enjoy, dear Readers!

Thank you Elaine, for allowing me to share your wonderful Namibia Easter letter and pictures.

From Elaine Sweet:

Easter in Opuwo,
I have now been in Namibia for three months.  It is the new “normal."  I have learned the basic methods of transportation to get around in my area.  First I ask the teachers at my school for a ride to the paved road. Then there are taxis which are constantly going back and forth between the main travel points.   It is not as difficult as I first perceived it to be.  On non-school days, the local people traveling the gravel road will stop for passengers.  There are established pay rates for travel to different points.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Goodbye for Now - Maryknoll College Reunion in Las Vegas

Goodbye for Now - Maryknoll College '68 Mini-reunion in Las Vegas

Here are some pictures of South Point Casino and Spa in Las Vegas. It's a good place to stay in Las Vegas - new, clean, reasonably priced. The only downside, which may not be such a negative thing, is that it's not on the Strip, which means you have to drive to get to the main drag of Las Vegas. It's a straight route on Las Vegas Blvd. and not difficult at all.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Update Maryknoll Reunion in Las Vegas - College Quezon City

 l-r: Becky Marfil, Tina Borja Heiter, Baby Navarro Ciocon., Cecilia Manguerra Brainard,  Boots Besa Browne, Marissa Munda Tay

Baby Ciocon picked the venue in Las Vegas -- South Point (very good choice!)-- and Tina Heiter invited Lina, Becky, and Boots to join the group of us who had driven to Las Vegas. Boots in turn arranged for us to visit another classmate in Las Vegas, Carol Valencia, whom many of us have not seen in years.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Maryknoll Reunion in Las Vegas - College Quezon City

A group of Maryknoll graduates from the college class of 1968 met in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The picture above shows l-r: Lina Flor Dimayuga, Baby Navarro Ciocon, Becky Marfil, Tina Borja Heiter, Boots Besa Browne, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, and Marissa Munda Tay. Lucy McGinley is expected to join the group.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Las Vegas: Elton John and Green Nails

Elton John

We're in Las Vegas for a reunion with some Maryknoll friends. We arrived a day ahead to see the Elton John Concert (Rocket Man, Bennie and the Jets, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, etc). It was very entertaining. Performance was fine; the stage was glitzy; the drummer/percussion man was exceptionally good. 

Restaurant Review: Dim Sum at Ocean Seafood, Chinatown, Los Angeles, California

We've been having Dim Sum at Ocean Seafood (750 N. Hill St., LA, 90012) in Chinatown, Los Angeles, for years. To those who don't know, Dim Sum is Chinese food which is served as individual portions in carts. Servers, usually women, wheel the carts around the restaurant. All one has to do is look at their display and decide which dish to order. The server lifts the container, places this on one's table, and marks the bill on the table. There may be three or four pieces in a container, so it's perfect for two or three people to share, allowing all to sample various dishes.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Creative Writing:What To Do When Your Work Goes Flat

Writing Tip: What To do When Your Work Goes Flat

Listen up Creative Writers, here's something I learned: Writers Need to Listen or Tune in to Their work. Let me elaborate.

Warning: Novelist at Work, Bystanders May Be Written into the Story


Novelist at work
Bystanders may be written into the story

I'm working on my novel, so this is all for today, please check back!

Please note the fair warning above. And please, never, never piss off a novelist because it's not "may be written into the story" but "will be written into the story."

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Native American: My Good Luck Storyteller Dolls

 I have three Storyteller clay figurines that give me good luck with my writing.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Philippines: Vintage Postcards of Filipino Women

Filipino Washerwomen

Monday, April 6, 2015

Family Easter Pictures - 2015

We celebrated Easter yesterday, April 5, 2015, with food, drink, stories, and ... PINATAS, one for the children, another for the grownups.  We had picked up the pinatas in the pinata district of downtown Los Angeles, from a shop called Amazing Pinatas. This shop has pinatas of all sizes, candy, and other party goods.  

Here are some pictures. Click on the picture to make them larger.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Restaurant Reviews: Manny Gonzalez Reviews San Francisco Restaurants

Happy Easter!

The following reviews of some restaurants in San Francisco, California are reprinted by permission of the author, Manny Gonzalez.  A resident of Whistler, Canada, Manny Gonzalez is a Director/shareholder at the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa in Mactan, Philippines. He travels extensively and enjoys reviewing the hotels and restaurants he's visited. 

These reviews first appeared in TripAdvisor.Thanks to Manny Gonzalez for sharing these reviews in my blog.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Barcelona, Spain: Salman Rushdie and Manny Gonzalez Reviews

This is a picture of Salman Rushdie and me, taken at a PEN Conference in Barcelona, Spain. His novel, The Satanic Verses, had just earned the ire of the Muslim community and there was a fatwa on him at that time.

Here also are reviews of some restaurants in Barcelona, Spain by Manny Gonzalez.  This is his second review of restaurants in Barcelona. 

A resident of Whistler, Canada, Manny Gonzalez is a Director/shareholder at the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa in Mactan, Philippines. He travels extensively and enjoys reviewing the hotels and restaurants he's visited. 

These reviews first appeared in TripAdvisor.Thanks to Manny Gonzalez for sharing these  in my blog.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Christianity: Good Friday and the Stone of Anointing

I took this picture of the Stone of Anointing at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It is said that Jesus' body was anointed there before His burial. There is liquid (oil?) on the stone, which visitors sop up with handkerchiefs and other pieces of cloth.

When we visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or Church of the Resurrection in 2008, I was surprised to find various religious orders taking charge of portions of it. There were Franciscans, Greek Orthodox, Armenians, Coptic Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox,and Ethiopians. Curiously, the custody of the door and the key for the church is entrusted to two Muslim families (Nuseibeh and Judeh); this custodial line dates back to 1244.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Christianity: Holy Thursday and the Garden of Gethsemane

 I took these pictures of the Garden of Gethsemane in 2008 during our visit to Egypt and Israel.

It's Holy Thursday now, and Christians recall the Passion of Christ that culminated in his Crucifixion and Resurrection.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What Household Things Make You Smile?

I pose the question: What household things make you smile?