Sunday, May 31, 2015

Travel France: Ernest Hemingway in the Left Bank of Paris

Ernest Hemingway, photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Sunday, I set out to trace (some of) the steps of the famous American writer Ernest Hemingway. I'm staying in the Saint Germaine District, on the Left Bank, where Hemingway had lived in the 1920s. It was a cloudy and brisk day, very different from the sunny days we've been having, a good day for a walk.  From our apartment near the Pont Neuf, I walked South in search of the buildings Hemingway had occupied and to get a feeling of his Paris world back then.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Travel France: Some Pictures that Make Me Smile

Here are some pictures taken in France that make me smile. 
The top photo shows the Eiffel Tower at sunset. the next two show the youngest member of our travel group posing for me.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Travel France: Paris, Luxembourg Garden, Conciergerie, Cluny Museum

We visited the Luxembourg Garden in Paris, which was started in 1612 by Marie de'Medici. The Luxemburg Garden is owned by the French Senate; the garden is open to the public. The sun was up and people sat around in chairs and benches to enjoy the lovely weather.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

France Travel: Paris, Sainte-Chapelle and Musee d'Orsay

To avoid the crowd of tourists, we went early to Sainte-Chapelle. Even at 9:30, there was already a line although the wait to get in wasn't that bad. People entered in batches. We went through a metal detector and security check, after which we bought our tickets and entered the royal medieval chapel built by St. Louis (King Louis IX) in the 13th century. The Gothic chapel was intended to house Jesus' crown of thorns and other relics.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Travel France: BatoBus in Paris for Sightseeing

I discovered the Batobus of Paris last October. It's a boat service on the Siene that makes eight stops: Eiffel Tower, Musee d'Orsay, Saint-Germaine-des-Prix, Notre-Dame, Jardin des Plante, Hotel de Ville, Louvre, and the Champs-Elysees.

Travel France: When to Visit Paris

Mid-June through August are the peak season months for visiting France.

The shoulder season runs from September to mid-June and from September to October. the off season months are November through March.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Travel France: Impressionist Painter Claude Monet's Giverny

We left Brittany and made our way to Giverny where the artist Claude Monet had lived. Monet was one of the founders of Impressionism. From Wikipedia, I quote:

"From 1883 Monet lived in Giverny, where he purchased a house and property, and began a vast landscaping project which included lily ponds that would become the subjects of his best-known works. In 1899 he began painting the water lilies, first in vertical views with a Japanese bridge as a central feature, and later in the series of large-scale paintings that was to occupy him continuously for the next 20 years of his life."

Claude Monet, picture courtesy of Wikipedia

The top pictures were taken at Giverny. It was a sunny day and relatively warm, and the flowers at Giverny were blooming. Unfortunately, Giverny was crowded, which minimized the pleasure of the visit, but it was still a great opportunity to see the artist's house and pond. We also saw a Degas exhibit at Giverny.

One of the things I have enjoyed in our trip is seeing the sites, such as Honfleur, Pont-Aven, and Giverny, that had inspired famous artists.

The other night we stayed in a house that featured in one of Monet's paintings (titled On the Bank of the Seine, Bennecourt), the original of which is exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago. (Look at the house on the top right of the painting. See that window? That's the window of the room we occupied!)

France Brittany: St. Vincent Ferrer in Cathedral of Vannes

Remains of St. Vincent Ferrer in the Cathedral of Vannes, Brittany

This is about St. Vincent Ferrer, Spanish saint who died and is buried in Vannes, Brittany.

I grew up hearing about St. Vicente Ferrer but knew little about him. Some friends who learned I was touring Brittany told me to be sure and visit his burial site in Vannes, which I did.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Travel France: Brittany, Carnac and Josselin

Internet is painfully slow, dear Readers, so this will be short.

We are in Carnac which has pre-proto-Celtic megaliths, 5,000 year-old stone structures. We have seen  megaliths in Ireland and Stonehenge in England, but Carnac is said to have the most number of megaliths, some 3,000 standing stones.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Travel France: Brittany, Pont-Aven - Commune of Gauguin, Impressionists

Marker at Pont-Aven indicating the laundry area that Gauguin had painted. I took a picture of the same location, above.

Today we left Quimper to head toward Carnac, but along the way, we meandered through charming villages. There was a market in one place, and we stopped to take pictures and buy a few things. We saw many lovely places, but I'm going to focus on one place that was spectacular -- Pont-Aven.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Travel France: More on Brittany, Quimper

I thought I would learn more about the Bretons from the Museum in Quimper, but frankly I didn't. The museum near the cathedral had paintings mostly, and only some were on Breton subject matters. The paintings  showed pictures of the sea, farming, and women wearing their local garb.

Travel France: Coast of Brittany St. Malo, Roscoff, Finistere, Pt. Matthieu

From Mont Saint-Michel, we continued our journey west to the coast of  Brittany, which is in the north-west section of France.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Travel France: Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy - UNESCO,Pilgrim Site

Mont Saint-Michel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Normandy. Its beginnings date back to 708 when the Bishop of Avranches built a sanctuary in honor of Archangel Michael. The mount became a major pilgrim site. A village grew around the walls, and the sanctuary itself developed into a maze of buildings that developed upward culminating in the abbey's steeple. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Travel France: Normandy Beaches and World War II

The biggest attraction in Normandy, France are the beaches of Normandy where the Allied Forces of World War II landed to liberate the French and launch an attack against Nazi Germany.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Travel France: Bayeux Tapestry, Cathedral, Norman-Saxon History

Cecilia with William the Conqueror

Cathedral of Bayeux

Dear Readers,
Be patient with the following history. It will explain my excitement at what we saw today.

Before taking this trip to France, I happened to see a documentary about the history of England, which included information about William the Conqueror. The film explained that it was the marriage of the Saxon King Aethelred to the Norman Queen Emma that made possible the Norman claim to the Saxon throne. The Saxon King Edward appointed the Norman William his successor. However the Saxon Harold decided to take the crown for himself.  William fought Harold to get what he believed was his right.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Restaurant Review: Dog in a Restaurant! - Bistro des Artistes, Honfleur, France

Despite the compact size of the seaside place of Honfleur, it has numerous restaurants, galleries, and shops.  The manager of the apartment we stayed at recommended the following restaurants:

Friday, May 15, 2015

Travel France: Pilgrimage to Therese of Lisieux Sites

Cecilia at the Basilica of St. Therese

The convent schools I attended had two statues of St. Teresa.  They both wore the brown habit of Carmel. One statue showed a woman ooking up to heaven (Teresa in ecstasy); the other stood upright with flowers at her feet. The first one was Teresa of Avila from the 16th century; the other was Teresa of the Child Jesus or the Little Flower who was born 1873. Nuns talked to us about these two saints. We were to emulate the intelligence of the Spanish Teresa while imbibing traits of the sweet Little Flower. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Travel France: Rain in Rouen and Sunshine in Honfleur

France greeted us with rain!

Honfleur, l-r: Lauren, Cecilia, Doug in front of St. Catherine's Church

It was wet and cold in Rouen when we visited the site where St. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake (now the Church of St. Joan of Arc), theMedieval Clock above an archway, and the massive Cathedral of Rouen.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Travel: Coming Up Normandy, Brittany, and Paris, France!!!

Coming Up Normandy, Brittany, and Paris, in France!!!

The plan is to do a our own driving tour of Normandy and Brittany, after which we'll spend some time in Paris. I'll do my best to blog our trip, so stay tuned, dear Readers. (If I miss a day or two, I'm still around, just check back.)

We'll be seeing places like Rouen, Honfleur, Mont Saint Michel, Normandy beaches, Bayeux, and more. And by the time we get to Paris, the weather will be lovely there, to make up for the coldest spring the City of Lights had when we visited a couple of years ago!

Vietnamese Boat People and Lee's Nail Salon in Santa Monica, California

There was a long wait at the nail salon I've been going to, and I got grumpy so I went to another place on Lincoln, Lee's, near Ashland in Santa Monica.

Note that Lee's has a Monday special for their manicure and pedicure at $22. That's very cheap. The owner, Lee worked on my hands, while another woman did my feet. Lee's didn't have the razzle-dazzle of my other place, but neither did they have these aggressive women who were constantly pressuring you for massages, and Lee's did a good job for half the cost.

More importantly, I got a story from Lee, the owner of the salon!

Lee came from Vietnam, is a die-hard Catholic, and a chatterbox.

Lee asked me where I come from and when I told her that I originally came from the Philippines, she beamed and said she loves Filipinos. I've heard that before and I smiled, but Lee must have had a flood of memories because she could not stop talking. She has an accent and I had to work to get her story, but bit by bit it emerged.

Lee and her son were boat people, one of the 800,000 refugees who had left their country following the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese Army.

Lee said she had sold everything she owned in Saigon to leave in 1984. She wanted to join her father who was in the US. However, the people who took in the boat people were not honest, she said. According to her, they just wanted the passengers to die. There wasn't enough food nor water in the boat.  She said for one month they were at sea, slowly dying. Lee kept saying it was only because of God's help that they survived. When they were thirsty, they prayed, and it would rain. She said they ate nothing; she was breastfeeding her son and was dry. I believe she said her brother died in that boat, but I'm not sure. (Lee speaks rapidly and jumps from topic to topic.)

Their boat made it to Hong Kong where they stayed for three months. It turned out she was pregnant and she said the officials pressured her to have an abortion: Get rid of the baby. What will you do? You have nothing.  They talked to her daily, but Lee said she was a Catholic and said no, she would not get rid of her baby.

After three months, the refugees were moved to the Philippines. She talked of how differently they were treated there. Filipinos were nice to them; they housed and helped them. They gave her vitamins so her baby would be healthy. She lived in Bataan, which had a Philippine Refugee Processing Center. They had to walk  far to fetch water, and when she was seven or so months pregnant, she was carrying water and fell. She was afraid she'd lose the baby, but with God's help, didn't. The baby was born with half his face black (bruised, I assume). This eventually faded.

Philippine Refugee Processing Center in Morong, Bataan, Philippines

She named this son Philip, after the Philippines. She said he had a Philippine passport, and is handsome like a Filipino. She showed me a picture of her children, and Philip was taller than his older brother. Her children were all nice-looking. She pointed out Philip and kept saying this was the son that the people in Hong Kong had told her to abort.

Lee went on to tell me that she had no problems with her children. They went to school while she worked. In fact, the girl, the youngest, had to stay home without child care and she would even prepare dinner for them. (Lee said she would stand on a stool to reach the stove.) One son is an engineer, another is a professional as well, and the daughter is in medical school. They are all Americans now, but she reminds them of where they came from, and she tells them to pray. (Every three o'clock, they pray the Divine Mercy prayer at the salon, she said, every three o'clock.)

On Mother's day, she obliged her children to go to Mass with her, and they did. She said they had gifts for her and kept telling her, "Mom, you're very strong."

Lee said she may work for seven more years, until her daughter finishes med school, and then she'll retire. She has been travelling on pilgrimages with her church group.

Well ... before I knew it my nails were done!  I was almost sorry to leave the salon because I had more questions for Lynn, and I didn't even get to take pictures of her and her work place.

Next time, I'll do that.

Pictures of the boat people and PRPC are courtesy of Wikipedia

Read also
Manicure and Pedicure at Vietnamese American Nail Salons
The Pinata District of Los Angeles, California -- Ole!
Los Angeles, California: The Fairfax District and Canter's Deli

Tags: Vietnamese, Vietnamese American, nail salon, Leen's, boat people, Fall of Saigon, refugees
This is all for now,

Monday, May 11, 2015

Cooking with Cecilia: Chicken Malunggay or Moringa Soup

While I'm on the mend, I haven't gotten rid of my cold. The worst day was Day 3, but at Day 6, I'm not done. I continue to be vigilant and am resting and taking my medicines. I've added Aleve to my arsenal of treatments.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day: Pictures with My Family

It's Mother's Day today!

I'm sharing some family pictures. The first one was taken in New York. The second was our first family picture.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mother's Day: Remembering My Mother Concepcion Cuenco Manguerra

Tomorrow is Mother's Day and I'm posting some pictures of my mother, Concepcion Cuenco.
Her parents were Mariano Jesus Cuenco and Filomena Alesna. She married my father, Engineer Mariano Manguerra, and they had four children. I'm the youngest.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Cooking with Cecilia: Pospas, or Lugaw, or Congee

Perhaps because of my cold, I've been thinking of the comfort foods I used to have when I was young.  Number one on that list is Rice Porridge known in Cebu as Pospas. Tagalogs call it Lugaw or Arroz Caldo. Other people call it Congee.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Health: A Bad Cold and What I'm Doing About It

I've got a cold!

I caught a chill yesterday, which probably contributed to my condition. Here I am with a sore throat and runny nose. My eyes are watery and I feel lethargic.

Here's what I've been doing to help myself. I've been gargling with salt water to help the sore throat. I started taking a 500 mg L-lysine, and a 500 mg Vitamin C, twice a day. L-lysine is supposed to kill viruses. I've been drinking ginger tea. I'm using a saline nose spray. I'm also resting. I'll be taking a lot of chicken soup. I get the packages with chicken bits, as this is easy to prepare.

And oh, I've been rubbing Vick's VapoRub on my chest, neck, and forehead -- this is very comforting! This brings back a lot of childhood memories!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Interview Cecilia Brainard: "Woman with Horns" and Different Facets of the Filipino Woman

A freshman student at the University of Santo Tomas, Kin Rish Daguio, interviewed me about how my work relates to the different facets of the Filipino Woman.  She wrote, "My group mates and I have chosen your work "Woman with Horns and Other Stories" for our research paper in the course, Philippine Literature. We just want to ask you some questions about the said work because our topic will be: The Different Facets of the Filipino Woman: Personalities, Traits and Beliefs within Filipino Culture and Society."

She sent some questions, which I answered. My short story collection, Woman with Horns and Other Stories, is popular among students, and so I'm sharing my answers in this blog:

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Travel: Full Moon in Cambria, Central Coast California

When we were in Cambria recently there was a full moon and we built a bonfire on the beach.  Click on each picture to make it big. 

Cambria is a relaxing place where we, family members, and friends can unwind and take in the sea breeze, listen to the waves crashing on the shore, eat and shop with leisure. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Travel: Visiting Cambria, Central Coast, California

May 2 - We're visiting Cambria, Central Coast of California and doing what we usually do. 
First, we had breakfast at the Creekside Gardens, then we stopped at the only big supermarket in Cambria, the Cookie Crock. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Boxing: A Very Short Letter to Manny Pacquiao

May 2, 2015
And the winner is: 

Unanimous decision for Floyd Mayweather
Manny accepts it with grace and class.

Dear Manny,

Take the 120 million and RUN!

Yours Truly,

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Restaurant Review: Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market and Patio Cafe, California

Friday, May 1, was a glorious day. On our way to the Central Coast (of California), we had lunch at a cafe along the Pacific Coast Highway. My son, who surfs, introduced us to this seafood place in Malibu, California. Apparently this cafe is a favorite surfer hangout.

The Malibu Seafood Fresh Market and Patio Cafe has very good fish and chips, mussels, clam chowder, lobster, crab, shrimps, and other seafood.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Travel Pictures - Lions of Kenya, Africa

I was going through some travel pictures and came across these photos of lions in Kenya. We were there in 2010, and a good thing we went on that Safari because I'm not sure we'll be going back there any time soon.