Saturday, February 20, 2010

Let's move, buddha's hand of 13 fingers and banana bread!

Harana Men's Chorus, led by Music Directo Ed Nepomuceno
Banana Bread with Mango Slices and Orange Zest, next to 13 fingers' buddha's hand aka as lemon and new blooms on the orchid ( it took a year for it to bloom in my kitchen window )

Mangosteen and Chico, purchased in Westminster, CA -- tropical fruits normally found in the Southern Part of the Philippines...

Let's move!
I woke up at 530 this morning, eager to do an uphill walk up a canyon in Los Angeles, in keeping with the First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move Campaign. I chose to be part of it. It feels good to be fit, healthy, and full of energy to do the chores of the day, a much better quality of life!

I was in Leyte 3 years ago. Walking was easy for me, but for my asthma, my legs were strong, physically I could tackle the strenuous trails, but my lungs gave up at times. I was then physically fit, doing aerobics on the treadmill, elliptical, lifting weights, doing pilates so travelling was easy, walking was easy, except for moments when asthma took hold of my lungs.

Now, with my asthma under control, I want to be in charge of my body. It was a quick decision for me.

I decided it was time to be in charge of my body instead of my body being in charge of the quality of my life. This time, I want it to be different and part of the motivation is my daughter's wedding. It is a mother's dream to be next to her beautiful daughter, Corina Teresa Delacruz in her upcoming wedding to Sergio Nino Flores, and to satisfy my ego, to look not that much older, to look not much fatter, just fit and healthy!

So, let's move, I told myself. Get out of bed and let's move!

Take charge of my life. Wow, for awhile it felt difficult to write about this, to acknowledge I am in fact in the last two seasons of my life, fall and winter, having lived my spring and summer seasons.

I used to take pride in introducing myself as the youngest in a group, graduating 14 years old from high school, and 19 years old from a five year college degree. I will not claim to be smart, but it was an economic necessity for my mother, who did not have reliable babysitting and decided to enroll me at 4 1/2 years old in first grade.

Not anymore, I am now the 'oldest' in a group. One time, I joined the Wide Eyed Writers Workshop, led by Brandy Lien Worrall and Shirlie Mae Choe. I was the only 50 year old participant, the rest were 30 years old and under. I felt amused to be with these young adults and found it quite intimidating that they could be creative on demand: compose a poem or a rap or a story in less than an hour. Wow, that takes innate talent, I told myself!

And now, in my fall and winter seasons of life, I find that I am as creative as I wish to be. I have been writing now for 2 years, completed 24 stories the first year, did 64 editorial column submissions the second year, and with four front pagers to boot. And when I am not writing, I am cooking, creating recipes, even baking new ones.

It is something I am proud of, and my thanks to these young folks who helped liberate my creative self, formerly caged by years of resentment, anger, fear, and bitterness. It took arduous work to 'do the work', examine, challenge and remove these encrustation. Now, I am freer to write, until I dry up for lack of inspiration. Then, I keep moving, yes, moving gets me going. And music keeps me going.

In a week's time, two events converged to make moving so necessary.

First, my brother - in - law, Eduardo Alcantara got a triple heart bypass, one that kept him in intensive care's hospital bed for awhile, ala Pres. Bill Clinton who also got a stent recently to open up a blocked artery.

Second, I injured my back when I slipped when water from the dishwasher drain flooded the kitchen. After slipping, I went about my normal routines. I neglected to apply cold compress to the injured part. Instead, I went to a movie screening, cooked for Director Dante Nico Garcia and Bennie Salindong and visited for hours. My back was already 'talking back' in the evening, but, I dismissed it as simply tired from what I did.

The next day, I could barely walk. Bending down hurt my back. I could not even walk without my back hurting. When I applied hot compress, it gave me some relief. A full body massage allowed me to walk and even drive the car with tolerable pain. I pushed myself to move more the next day, but it was not a good decision.

With an aching back, cooking became too much to do. I got 'grounded' by my spouse, Enrique who insisted I cancel all meetings and heal myself first. I rested, but the pain did not abate. It got worse.

While lying down for 2 straight days, I realized that was not the way I want to live. Being on my back, incapacitated, and in pain limited me and with a deteriorating quality of life that is unfulfilling to my creative self. I was miserable, unable to write.

Six days later, I got better. By the 7th day, I worked out with my family, using kettle bells. The kettle bells resemble a kettle, round, hence the name, but with a U-curved handle. It takes a cluster of muscles to carry the weights, to make sure the wrists are straight, not bent the wrong way, and it takes precision to move the kettle bells.

The next day, all my muscles talked back. It was a very loud conversation, I took noticed of where these muscles were all located.

Back to Moving.
I started at the bottom of the canyon. Halfway through the canyon, our companion, Sergio had already completed a run uphill and now is going down. I was barely navigating a third of the canyon. Yet, I felt determined to reach further than the resting bench where I was before, a half mile up the canyon.

At the end of this uphill climb is a lovely view of Los Angeles, without the brown blanket enveloping the city. In a few hours, it would be different, it would be hot, as the sun rises in its full splendor, and the canyon filling up with runners, and folks who walk their dogs.

I moved slowly, still recovering from my muscles 'talking back'. I reached the next bend, about a mile or so. I wanted to go one more mile but my legs stiffened. I stopped and the sight of my husband coming down the hill got me excited, for now, I can have some support. But, his strides were longer. I assumed the same long strides, but still felt short. So, I told him to proceed.

Two strangers boosted my spirits " You are doing well. " " Keep going ", another said.
I did two miles. When I got home, my legs could barely move. I could not fix breakfast. My hubby fixed it for both of us, and with a good cup of coffee, I was filled with energy. A buddha's hand at the center of our table caught my attention.

The buddha's hand. I stared at it for awhile, wondering why 13? A friend, Nonoy Alsaybar came by to drop off 20 pounds of navel oranges. He looked at it and remarked " It is looking more like a devil's hand. "

Well, readers, if there are some of you out there, leave me a note, and let me know what it looks like to you. But, still why 13? Is it like Judas, the 13th apostle?

Unable to find my answer, I opted to bake banana bread, but altering my core recipe.

Banana bread with banana chips.
The changes included dried banana chips, instead of walnuts, diced mango slices, orange zest and orange juice.

1 stick butter
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 tbsps. sour cream
1 orange, add juice of half, zest entire orange and add to recipe
2 ripe bananas
1 1/2 cup flour
10 slices of dried mango, cut in thirds
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Cream butter. Add sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Mash bananas. Add sour cream. Add salt. Add flour, sugar, the mashed bananas, orange zest, orange juice, dried mango slices, vanilla and baking soda. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes or longer until the toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Do not overbake. It is baked when the toothpick comes clean and brown on the top surface. Serve with a good cup of coffee or hot tea. Sometimes I serve it with white cheddar cheese or cream cheese.

Since I am exercising this week, I cannot have the banana bread the way I want to, a slice for breakfast. Instead, I invited the Harana's Men Chorus, and tonight after their practice, they will have my banana bread. It satisfied my culinary artists' sensibilities without undermining my exercise routine or my 'get moving' program. First Lady, I am sticking to this national program, Let's Move, it is a matter of national interest as well as personal interest for a better quality of life. As I want to listen to more of Harana's Men Chorus Concerts and live music so I can live better!


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