Monday, July 30, 2012

Hot Summer Days

Mid-Atlantic summers can be brutal. 

Since summer started, we haven't had a break from the humidity and 90+ temperatures. I've avoided the sun as much as I can and I've been packing lunch every day to avoid going out at all. At home, the AC has been working every single day, and goodness knows how expensive the electric bill will be this month and the coming hot months. In spite of not liking the blistering temperatures of summer, I welcome the absence of textbooks and semester papers; a few months off from grad school is a welcome respite from the busy school months ahead.

There hasn't been anything big going on, on my side of the woods, but here's an update in bullets if you're interested to know:
  • Kepi and I spent this weekend at Strasburg, VA. It's a town located up in the Shenandoah Mountains, and it's a sleepy little town. It's a great place to just unwind and get away from our everyday life. We explored a winery, soak our feet on the serene Shenandoah River and waited for nightfall at our hotel's deck.
  • My shop has been keeping me busy. It's a wonderful surprise to see my shop doing fairly well. For a five month old shop, I'm happy to report that I have made over 200 sales already. In the next few days, I will be opening a second shop. Please look forward to this announcement, as I'll be doing a blog giveaway. I'm still lining up the prizes.
  • Wedding preparations are going well. There are still a few more things to do, but I thank Kepi for being proactive in helping prepare for our wedding. In fact, he does a better job keeping up with the to-do list.
  • On the health side, my White Blood Cells are normal for the first time in six years, but my Red Blood Cells and Platelets are still lagging behind. I am thankful that I am no longer neutropenic, but how I wish everything is now normal. Somehow, I don't feel complete with the other two lagging behind. Sometimes, my wish to be "normal" seems so faraway, but I have to keep fighting.
That's just a short update from me.

Today, I am hoping for a good soaking rain to wash away the humidity and 90 degree temperature. I am already wishing for the coolness of Fall.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Okras, Tomatoes, Green Beans and a Potted Parsley

The past few posts have been about travel. I've been avoiding talking about home as my bout with Aplastic Anemia is not getting easier; it's still an unpredictable roller coaster ride. It is easier for me to reminisce about faraway places than deal with the battles I wage at the health front. I thank God for my family and their unyielding support. Home is still a wonderful place, it's just connected to something I don't like.

In my effort to recognize home as a great place. Today, I'll talk about home. Well, about my backyard garden. Every time spring arrives, starting the vegetable plot is something that I look forward to. Every weekend, I'd ask Kepi if the ground is safe from frost or is it okay to start the vegetable garden yet. For me, having my hands dirty and planting seeds that will soon sprout into plants keeps me close to reality. That from smalls seeds, these lovely life-giving plants would grow. It also makes me realize that all I need is one small seed of hope in order to survive the unbearable heat and the turbulent storms of the future.

The backyard garden is thriving, and it looks like it's a world of its own. I can't wait when it's time to harvest and share them with friends, neighbors and coworkers.

  The Okras are really thriving this year. In fact, my small vegetable garden is thriving.

On the herb side, I have a potted Parsley, and I intend to plant more potted herbs and bring them inside the house during the winter.

Baby tomatoes.

I'm hoping these should be ready for harvest in a couple of weeks.

Here's my small vegetable garden L to R: Tomatoes, Green Beans (front row), Yellow Peppers and Eggplants (Back Row) and Okras.

A baby Okra.

Not a lot for the first picking but I wanted to get these before they get too hard and inedible. I also got one Eggplant the other day which we've drizzled with Olive oil, a little salt and baked in the oven.


Monday, July 9, 2012

The Faces of Kleifarvatn, Iceland

The heat has been unbearable the past two weeks.  Last night, we finally had a thunderstorm, and although it was loud and scary, it was a welcome relief from the triple digits heat index and the brick-like humidity.  It seems that this year's summer will be best spent indoors or some place near the beach.

The summer heat is making me wish I was back in Iceland and the still, cool waters of Kleifarvatn.

During our stay in Iceland, we rented a car to explore the Reykjanes Peninsula. Driving in Iceland is very easy because there's only one major highway that loops around the island.  Also, we found the roads wide open except for the slow traffic concentrated within Reykjavik. One of our stops was to explore Kleifarvatn.

Kleifarvatn is the largest lake on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The water level of this lake has always been very sensitive to climate changes and has been used as a local rain gauge.  Since June 17, 2000, the water level in Kleifarvatn has been lowering at an average rate of 1.3 cm/day. Spawn from trouts were released into the lake in the sixties and have thrived quiet well.

Below are the different faces of the lake:

The road going to the lake is darkened with volcanic ash and gravel.

There were still ice caps on the mountains far ahead. The clouds came down to kiss the earth.

This part of the lake looks perfect to pitch a tent and spend the night.

The water was calm and quiet. You could hear a pin drop in this area.

I could sit here all day - just me and my thoughts.

This photo was taken at around 10 PM. It's amazing because it felt and looked like early morning.