To decorate or not?

Well we are now officially past All Hollows, Saints and Souls days so that means there are no more holidays from here until Christmas in the Philippines.  Of course that didn’t discourage malls from setting up Winter Holiday decorations as early as September, and playing songs that I have already grown sick of…yes especially you oh pop version of Little Drummer Boy.

To Decorate or not to decorate.  The holidays just don’t feel like something I should celebrate on my own.  My idea of celebrating Christmas is very much tied to my identity as part of a family unit.  I am so used to decorating with Shaw family decorations, that in a way, home holiday decorations don’t seem ‘real’ without that familiarity of decorations that have been built put up for as long as I can remember.  Yes, ornaments get updated, wreaths appear, some older decorations make way for new ones…yet the overall feeling of it remains the same.  Probably because the main decoration architect is my mother.

I haven’t decorated for Christmas at all in the 6 years that I’ve been living away from home.  I do put up ‘Christmas lights’ but I use them as lighting in seasons other than Christmas.  This year, I will not be celebrating Christmas with family.

I do want to celebrate and decorate and I hope I can find some simple decorations that move me to remembering Advent and celebrating Christmas.  No, I will not be buying a fake Christmas tree.  I hope to get some Christmas lights and a few things to put around the house.  I still don’t know how to handle Christmas without cold weather, yet the meaning of Christmas isn’t tied to the weather…although it seems most of popular Christmas & holiday songs are tied to it somehow (Jingle Bells, White Christmas, Winter Wonderland etc…)

Tons of people have a tropical holiday season, Hawaii thrives on it 🙂  I just need some good ideas for tropical Christmas decorations, and I need an adventurous and open mind to try out my own way of decorating, knowing that it’s okay if it’s not as nice, artistic, well planned or as tasteful as how my mother decorates. I need to learn how to appreciate the decorations I come up with as well.  I already picked up a scented candle that throws a cozy light and pleasant aroma around the house.  I don’t know what I’ll do for a tree, or if I even want one but…

At least I will still have Christmas lights!


Autumn Blues

Last week I finally hit the fabled “wall” of homesickness.  It is a relief honestly – the first stint I did here back in ’11 I hit that wall right away, so spending almost 9 months here without it made me feel both gratified and a little on edge for if it would ever come.

Perhaps because it was my birthday month (29!) or perhaps because my home-latitude (home-lat) is entering my favorite season of autumn, whatever the cause, it was compounded by my feeling under the weather with a swollen throat and cough.   That mundane illness procured my homesickness.

Surprisingly, going to church helped fix that.  It had been about 4 Sundays since I was able to attend a Methodist church.  I was on vacation for 2 Sundays and then I was in Manila for work during the last 2 Sundays.  It was a steadfast reassurance to be back at church, to see friendly faces and share some conversations with people that I know albeit only from 1-3hrs on Sundays.

As far as communities go, it’s not that much yet at the same time it reminds me of similar church communities in my home-lat and that, dear readers, plus the messages of support on my FB and personal emails from family was just enough to lift me over the wall.

This week I head back to teaching.  Unfortunately my trusty macbookpro has been having many serious problems after updating to Sierra 10.12.  I’ve had that thing for 6 years now and it has quite the data I need on it.  Whatever happened to my laptop also corrupted my backup, but luckily for a fee the service center is backing up my files before they try to fix my laptop.  Their initial scans shows that all was well with the hardware (except for the battery but c’mon it’s 6 years old!) so here’s to hoping I do not have to buy a new laptop.  I really love my old macbookpro!

Back to teaching- all my lesson plans are on that computer.  I will just have to teach by the sweat of my brow and quite possibly we’ll be doing review because I haven’t taught for a month and am lost to where my students are.  I think I will also be switching to only teaching grades 10 & 11 physics and earth science.  We will see.

In the meantime, I am using this cool windows laptop that I have no idea how to get the most out of, and trying to remember all the things that I have stored on my macbook whilst maintaining a level of work that doesn’t get me fired during this data less jaunt.

Autumn is starting and I miss it dearly but I would appreciate any pictures you might take of your autumn-time!  If you feel generous please share them to me by emailing me at  I will only be looking at them, not posting or anything – It’s like sending me a homemade card that gets here right away.  I hope that I get to live autumn vicariously through you, dear readers.

Until next time!


Living alone sucks when sick.

I like living alone.  There are certain freedoms and qualities that I just can’t get enough of:  like doing whatever I want, when I want wearing what I want.  Having no one to blame or congratulate except myself when things go poorly or well.  Not having unspoken expectations and different standards of cleanliness irritate me.

The thing that sucks a lot, is when I am sick.  Ain’t no one gonna take care of Adam when he far away from home and feeling like something the cat dragged in.

I felt pretty good this time around in the Philippines, no immediate depression or intense culture shock or diet shock or rejecting rice as a meal 24/7.  No things were great until last week when I went to visit a school I’m to be volunteering at this June.

Now things aren’t so fun.  I don’t want to work, I want stay home, give up or go home (all the way home.)

Good health is one thing I haven’t taken for granted since 2011…looks like I will value non allergenic reactions with the treasured gaze from now on out as well.


Another time, a timeless place

One of the things that I value about music, or music that connects with me, is how it draws me out of myself, out of my location, time and place…either into a memory of another time or a timeless place.

My parents are both musicians, siblings all seem to be as well, aunts, uncles on both sides and cousins too – even ancestors.  For better or worse,  I am a musician as well.  For most other disciplines be they professional or otherwise: I would rather have a measure of decent skill in many and be exceptional in none…however for music, I would rather be exceptional in one instrument than many.

Having at one point in time or another undertaken piano, recorder, trumpet, voice and guitar; I have for the past 2.8 years been playing ‘ukulele.  This is the instrument that fits my lifestyle right now.  Compact to travel painlessly, suited for humid weather.  Easy to learn the basics, lifetime to master and yet, advanced techniques aren’t as far away as they were to me on other instruments.  I can combine it with my voice and sing songs…yet the ‘ukulele really calls me out into timelessness with its own voice.

I gravitate toward ukulele songwriters and instrumentalists more than singers, offering myself as audience, waiting to be drawn into a timeless cosmic recital of notes, chords, strings and singing wood.

The song that transported me today is this one, from the movie Amélie and adapted for two ‘ukeleles by Ka1a1aika two youtube duet brothers.  For me, it is cathartic.  I hope to play it one day with my own ‘ukulele and friend. (or brother *ahem John…🙂

Warm feelings

“Sweet corn, Maaaaiize”

Saying it out loud like a sweet corn peddler as I walk into the office at 1pm makes me chuckle, thinking of all the people I could surprise into thinking I am Filipino with my voice.

The office is a little dead, the usual suspects are in the kitchen, making their lunches, chopping up pineapple to serve.  I get asked about my morning trip to the Bureau of Immigration and we catch up on things that happened since we last saw each other…namely recounting the InPeace staff beach day with those who were unable to join us.

Eventually – inevitably, someone – Francis in this case – grumbles about how hot it is in Davao.  Though I today too am wearing long pants, socks and shoes from my visit to immigration and am sweating my skin off, this grumble makes me feel good.  In  a weird way it is satisfying to know that I am not the only person who is suffering in the heat…that my filipino coworkers are also suffering in the hot hot sun, and in someway that I am more adapted to the heat, because it is ok to complain about how hot the sun is right now – look even sun hardened Filipinos are doing it.

I share my bathing tale from this morning:  how I went for my usual glorious cold water bath, the one that gets me through every hot day, and how the water was so warm it didn’t even feel cold, or cool but body temperature.

Around the lunch table people nod their heads sagely, commiserating and wondering why the summers are getting hotter.  Are we still feeling the effects of El Niño?  Is it related to pollution or more people and less trees?  Is it related to Global warming? That unbelievable liberal rumor…

Regardless, this brief hot moment makes me smile, knowing that I am not the only one who feels the heat…I might just be the only one who burns in 10 minutes of sun exposure. UV 12!!

Feeling Sunny!