Archive for November, 2011

Thanksgiving Outing

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

One of the places we decided to visit was the beach area. Shixiong took me to a high point in Corona Del Mar where we took a leisurely stroll, enjoying the view of the ocean and the rocks below. It was a beautiful, warm sunny day. We looked at the houses on the hills, wondering at the prices and the kinds of people who lived there. We did not go down to the water, but we did sit on a bench and just enjoyed the moment.

corona del mar

We happened to meet this family visiting from out of town who asked us to take their picture. Since I had a camera phone, I asked them if they could return the favor. It is not a clear one, but this picture does well to capture this special moment for us.

day at the beach

Thanksgiving Dinner

Friday, November 25th, 2011

One of the events I was looking forward to was Thanksgiving Dinner that night. After visiting Shixiong’s friends, we went back to his house and he took out veggies that he chopped the night before. He had promised to make bihon for our family Thanksgiving party. Since they were all ready, he began the mixing and cooking.

veggies

I was very impressed with the way he boiled the noodles at exactly two minutes and patiently stirred in the vegetables. He was also expertly adding sauces according to taste.

patiently stirring

I wish I had more space to post the play-by-play of his cooking method. But the finished product was a beauty! Colorful and delectable. It was a hit that night, especially with those who remember the taste of home in the Philippines. I’m so proud of him.

bihon

Thanksgiving Homecoming

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

My preparations for Thanksgiving started a week before. I had gone shopping, made a checklist of what I needed to do, and prepared for each day that I was going to be in LA. I got to the airport early for my one-hour flight to Dallas. I got there early enough to take a leisurely ride on their Skytrain to Los Angeles. As I waited at the gate during my 1 1/2-hour layover, I was curious as to why there were so very few people traveling to LA for Thanksgiving. About an hour later, a cold realization traveled down my spine: I was flying into John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana and not LAX. I quickly checked the screen for the right gate number and bolted to the Skytrain, willing for it to run faster. This was the escalator I took on the way up … it was the longest escalator ride I’ve ever ridden, maybe because it was literally the longest escalator I’ve ever been in.

dfw airport

When I got to the gate, I found no one there and I thought the plane left without me. After all, I got there right on departure time. I was only hoping it was delayed. As it turns out, the attendant there told me there was a gate change. When I got to the correct gate, I saw people lining up and just beginning to board. I learned that the plane to Santa Ana was delayed. What a relief! I thought I was going to miss my flight to my Thanksgiving homecoming.

Imagine my delight upon seeing the greens and blues of Orange County while I was still way up in the sky!

orange county

Fall Sights

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Oklahoma Fall continues to fascinate me. On this day, I went running around my apartment complex and admired the red leaves that hang on the trees. The sight just seems to amplify the coolness that hangs in the air as I run. It is a sweet feeling.

red leaves

On the day I visited my professor’s house, I looked out their front yard and saw these flocks of flying black birds. It was a magnificent sight as hordes of them flew from one tree to the next in seeming uniformity. I’d never seen so many birds all moving at the same time in the same type of movement. Kind of eerie but also awesome to witness.

black birds

Morning Drink

Monday, November 21st, 2011

I woke up to a very cold morning so I decided to make a hot chocolate treat for myself. Finally opening my new Hershey’s cocoa powder, I heaped three tablespoonfuls into two cups of milk. Then, I added vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chili powder. Needless to say, it was so rich that I had to add more water to dilute the strong taste. I enjoyed the warmth of it, though!

hot chocolate

B & N Bookstore

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

On this night, I decided to search out another study area. There was this coffee place inside Barnes & Noble that served Starbucks coffee. Actually, I only order hot chocolate or mocha frappucino, anyway. When I got here, I discovered that this offered Starbucks but did not accept the card. Oh well.

barnes and noble cafe

I settled myself in a corner and started to type away at a writing assignment that I’d been trying to complete. I stayed until closing time around 11 p.m. This was my view from my corner table. I love the sight of books, books, and books!

cafe with a view

Arab Spring

Friday, November 18th, 2011

egypt 2011

I still remember in early March of this year. I was lounging around in a nice hotel room in Chiang Mai, Thailand, flipping through the channels. When I saw the CNN report on Egypt and their people power revolution, I was riveted. This was a country that saw its dictator of 30 years being deposed in a matter of days because the people gathered in Tahrir Square decided to assemble and do something about it. It sent chills down my spine because I remember being in Egypt just two years before and sensing the political and religious discontent among the people. As I watched the revolution unfold on TV, I knew history was being written right there and then. As people rejoiced over their victory, the possibilities seemed endless, to say the least, especially in a country where they’ve only known one ruler for decades. I remember being excited for them.

Freedom. Liberation. New Beginning. Hope. Finally. Really?

As I read the headlines this morning, this same crowd gathered on Tahrir Square to protest the military, who refused to turn the government over to civilian rule. Could the people do something about this new strongman? I suppose it’s easier to topple a dictator than to build a government system that would work for everyone. What price, liberty?

Friend

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

The semester is almost over and I’ve been in OK for a good three months. I’ve met all kinds of people and have gained some good friends. One of those is Ken. He’s in two of my three graduate classes and we enjoy discussing education, life, and faith. He is one of those people I would call a “kindred spirit.” Like me, he was an English major during undergrad and an aspiring writer. He is knowledgeable about all kinds of topics, and we can talk easily for hours. We’d been planning to get together for a while now because I missed a book club meeting on Mere Christianity, and he offered to catch me up. We had such a good discussion time that I decided to take a picture to remember it. Again, it’s blurry because of my camera phone. Ken is in a wheelchair because he was born with a disability. In spite of this, or maybe because of this, he has this spirit to overcome his difficulties to strive for his goals. I’m thankful to have him as a friend.

ken

Birthday Hotpot

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

teacher he

This evening, I took Teacher He out for Thai food on her birthday. She arrived in OK from Yunnan, China, about the same time as myself in August. Since it’s her first birthday away from home, I thought she needed a nice dinner treat. There’s this popular Thai restaurant near campus that I’ve been to before. I ordered the classic Thai offerings, like Pad Thai. She ordered the spicy Tom Yum soup in a hotpot bowl (picture above).

During dinner, we talked about our respective trips to Thailand and how much we enjoyed the food there. Somehow, talking about it made our Oklahoma-based, Lao-owned Thai experience less appetizing. Personally, thinking about the authentic lemongrass, coconut, curry Thai delicacies affected my palate this particular evening. I will not go into the quality of the food in this restaurant, but I will just say that our fellowship was what made this night meaningful. We ended up taking a lot of leftovers (which I ended up having for lunch and dinner the next day). I hope she felt special on her first birthday in America, anyway.

5.6

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

The night before Shixiong left, there was a 4.2 earthquake. We both felt it and thought it was strange that one would happen in Oklahoma. As Californians, we expected it in earthquake country, but not in heartland of America! Then, the next evening after he left, there was another stronger one. I was sitting on the sofa surfing the internet when I saw the furniture move and the walls shake. I stood up and felt the ground move under me. Since I live on the second floor, I felt it more. I quickly looked it up online to see if other people felt it, but no one posted anything until much later that night. It was scary to be alone in an earthquake, especially since I became used to having company for the whole week!

ok earthquake