Saturday, January 29, 2011

Busy Saturday

Chess Tournament 2011. Shannon and Miriam played as a team and won First Prize at the Brooks Elem. Chess Club Tournament.  Miriam also won First Prize as an individual player.  That's right; they came home with two trophies.   This was a Parent-Child Chess Tournament where parents play against parents and their kids against other kids.  Each parent-and-child is a team. Brahms and Tim ran the tournament.

Sam visits us.  Sam is the new addition to George and Barbara's household.  We got to see him when today.  Miriam and Brahms played outside with him until he got tired.

Preliminary interview for Princeton.  One of the many schools Shannon applied to is Princeton University.  Today she drove herself alone and met with her interviewer.  Different universities take different approaches to evaluate applicants.  At the moment we do not have any clue as to her chances of being admitted to any school.  Only God knows and He knows everything about it. 

Monday, January 17, 2011


One of the wonderful blessings brought to us during the Christmas season was the time spent with Daniel and Becky! The bride-and-groom-to-be at our house! Getting to know them as a couple was as exciting as learning about some of the details of their wedding which is right around the corner.

When she talked about the number of pie plates she has now and the practicality of increasing it, knowing that she will soon be a (pie-making) Mrs. Gossard, I couldn't help but be reminded of a tradition that runs in the Gossard family (Tim's mother’s side). There is a belief that is almost religious in the Gossard family that "All pie is good pie. Some pie better than other pie, but all pie is good pie." I do not adhere to this belief because my judgment tells me that it is a superstition. But even so, being a kind wife and mother, I consciously go far and wide to provide the necessary pies for my family—for the sake of this tradition. I was told that Tim’s grandfather, Waldo, was the father of this [religion]. I've witnessed him along with Paul, and Johnnye eloquently carry out poetic exchange during times when pie is being served. In the early days of our married life, I kept quiet to try to make accurate interpretations of what I was hearing. I supposed this is what other new members of the family would also do. Later on it was revealed to me that I was not the only one feeling out of place because Mark was the same way after he and Jennifer got married. For as long as I can remember since Tim and I got married, I’ve heard this saying said every time the family got together - as if to remind the family about the exalted status of the pie. It has become a significant part of the pie-eating ritual. The weird part of it all is that when the men in the family get closer to being wise and married they automatically begin to participate in the oration of pie verses. I can remember the joy and pride on Tim's face when he initiated his first pieoratorical (pie-oratorical). David my brother-in-law, then an apprentice pitching in some verses here and there, was soon to be part of the club after he and Saskia got married. If I had thought about it sooner, it would have been a good idea to have recorded all their sayings.

The women in the family are supposed to be entertained by the pieoratorical; they are obligated to feel slighted when the men do not try all the pies on the table; and rejoice when the pie plates are emptied.  Pie-eaters are expected to show grace and kindness to the pie-makers by going back for seconds or thirds  .

Next month Daniel and Becky will get married. Daniel, who served as ring bearer in our wedding, will take on a new role in life – husband to Becky. There is an unexplained joy in the Gossard clan. Soon there will be a new couple to give pie plates and pie recipes to. Their marriage announces the possibility of new grandchildren, nephews/nieces and cousins. The wedding will mark his official induction into the pie-oratorical club. But wait, that's not all. Daniel and Becky after they will have been declared man and wife will upgrade the tradition with something that no Gossard has ever done before. Pie will be elevated to the pinnacle when Daniel and Becky serve pie at their wedding for dessert, instead of cake.  There we will see a multitude of people in designer dresses and tuxedos, declaring, "All pie is good pie!"

 These are exciting days indeed!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Capturing the Foggy Days of January

  The last rose flower remaining in my garden. (January 6, 2011)

California Quails (Callipepla californican) on a foggy day. (January 7, 2011)

 Ridgeview Village at 8:30 in the morning.  (January 7, 2011)

There have been many foggy days this month and I love it.  The fog reminds me of England.  It brings back fond memories of those days at the University of Reading.  It made walking from Sibly Hall to the main campus very pleasant although I had to cover my nose with my scarf so as to avoid inhaling too much water. 

In taking these pictures I attempted to apply the Rule of Thirds but I don't think I got it yet. 

Understanding Natural Light

 Outdoor on a clear sunny day.  (Apple Hill - December 27, 2010)

Foggy and facing the source of light.  (January 7, 2011)

Outdoor on a foggy afternoon.   (January 7, 2011)

Indoor and facing a sunny window. (January 14, 2011)

Photography = light writing.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Gift That Enables

Today, Miriam had a job of choosing who she would want to help through KIVA.  The three kids got a gift certificate each from their Grandpa George and Grandma Barbara.  KIVA is an organization that connects people who have extra with intrepreneurs who need money to start or expand their small business.  Well, my in-laws just provided my kids with the ability to participate in this flourishing program. 

I had no influence on their choice at all.  It turned out that they all have chosen to support a business which they themselves understand.  Brahms decided to lend to a man from Dominican Republic who is in the food business.  I must say that his choice has been influenced by his own love of food.  Anything that has something to do with preparing food should be encouraged and supported. :)  He has seen people in the rural areas of the Philippine where women are seen selling homemade food such as banana-que (fried bananas on sticks) and puto (muffin-like rice cakes).   He ate a lot of those while he was there last year.  These food vendors are often limited in their production by the lack of money to buy their supplies. 

Miriam gave a loan to a farmer from Ecuador.  This farmer grows cacao, bananas, rice and corn.  I'm guessing that Miriam decision was affected by the memory of her experience sucking on cacao seeds from my sister's backyard.  She has also been in the rice fields, which she enjoyed so much, with her cousins collecting snails (escargot).  Miriam might not understand what goes on behind the fun of playing in the rice paddies but small farmers often have the problem of coming up with cash during planting season.  They need money to buy the seeds, fertilizers and for labor cost.  Farmers get their income at the end of the cropping season.  Smart farmers save the needed cash to plant the next crop.  Sometimes, however, natural events (drought, floods, and pests) can reduce their harvest or destroy a crop completely.

Having spent a considerable time in a similar economic situation, the kids have a clear image of the conditions of these people they are helping.  They have seen how small stores look like (such as the one owned by their aunt Rowena).  Shannon loaned money to a seamstress from Rwanda and another one in Mongolia.  Shannon got the chance to see and interact with a seamstress in Tuguegarao when my cousin and his wife (Eddie and Nenie) tried to find someone who would customize a gown for her.  She did not end up getting a gown made because the seamstress did not have wide variety of fabric to choose from.  Personal experience influences our choices.

George (my father-in-law) is a retired City Manager of Hollister.  He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Pakistan and Bangladesh in his younger days.   Barbara (my step-mother-in-law) is a retired lawyer.  She has been involved in a number of philanthropic activities in her community.  They have shown us, their kids, how to get involved in the lives of others.  In the previous years they have sent animals through Heifer International in our names - to help some families somewhere to start raising animals for food and money. They have been consciously opening the eyes of their grandchildren to a wider scope of their surroundings.  Even my children learned so much by going through the list of potential entreprises in which they can get involved.  Through this process, they realize that there are people out there whose dreams can be realized when others help.

KIVA enables people (somewhere) to move away from poverty.  It also enables people (here), like my children, to experience the mental exercise that drives them to dream with and pray for the people they have chosen to help.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Item on Budget

Tim sent me a copy of our 2011 budget to review.  It was almost the same as last years except for the increased cost on car insurance due to the inclusion of a new driver in the family - Shannon.  I thought that it was pretty good.  Then I realized that this new driver will also be going to college this year.  That means there will be more than car insurance that we will have to help her with.  I emailed Tim who was at that time working upstairs. While Shannon is not going to college until the fall, we might as well get used to the idea of having less discretionary money.  He agreed.  And the budget was revised.  Now a portion of our budget is going somewhere as if our daughter is already in college. 

In some ways this is like breaking-in a new pair of shoes (for a special event) in order to avoid those nasty blisters.  We'll see how we do. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Making Our Own

Instead of using store-bought Thank You cards, Miriam and I made cards yesterday by painting/drawing on stock paper.  They turned out to be beautiful!  As the painting dried out, Shannon and Brahms wrote messages of gratitude to relatives and friends. 

Similarly, the Christmas cards we sent earlier were also hand-made.  I used a metallic pens to write messages on white cards.  They were very simple and inexpensive and yet they were elegant - I thought.  I would like to do the same thing next year.  This is the kind of cards that reflect the true nature of our family.  My "third-world-upbringing" forced resourcefulness to be part of my lifestyle. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Photo

Our tradition:  To open up a bottle of Martinelli's Sparkling Cider for a New Year's toast.   We don't look so excited because I tried to use my new camera for this picture but I could not get the timer to work.  I needed to read the manual some more.  Anyway, Brahms took this picture and many other ones but Tim was being silly in most of them.  :)