Monday, October 27, 2008

The Filipino Family with a Southern Flair

It's fun to be in a family who, even on the saddest of days, still manages to find hilarity somewhere...especially from my Auntie Milda's boyfriend, Allen, the Arkansan.

Today was a really difficult one, as we laid my grandmother to rest.  We had a very nice viewing and rosary last night, led by my mom's friend, Linda.  My friend Rudy sang a cappella "Ave Maria."  If only those cell phones hadn't rung during his song.  I was surprised by my dad speaking about Mama, because we hadn't really discussed that he would do so.  His story was funny and emotional, and, of course, I cried many tears when he thanked her for being his second mom.  Uncle Johnny (Jenn's uncle) also said some nice words, starting with the fact that he only that night learned that her name was "Maria," since he only knew her as "Mama."  Mama's makeup was done beautifully, and her hair was in the bun that she liked to wear for special occasions, with a pretty cream-colored dress.  She was holding a rosary, and had her coin purse at her side, which contained her prayer book and some money, presumably to buy herself a broom on the way "upstairs," as Allen calls it.  I was hoping that Allen would be able to share a couple of stories with everyone because I love the way he tells them, but I guess he was too emotional to do so.  Papa's sister-in-law closed the ceremony with a rendition of "Amazing Grace" on her harmonica.  I had forgotten all about how she used to play for us when we used to visit them in Santa Barbara.  That was really nice of her to pay tribute to Mama that way.

Thanks to all of my friends who joined us that evening and shared in the delicious food that people so generously made for us.

Today it was my turn to sing, and I made it through 3.85 songs before just losing it on the last one.  I did almost laugh during the psalm, when I heard certain Filipinos responding "shepherd" with an "f" instead of a "p."  I gave a little smile to Rudy, because I thought he might know exactly why I had a twinkle in my eye at the moment, since it was one of the things he would do to try to make me laugh in church choir.  Bro told me later that one of those people using the wrong consonant was my own mother.  My cousin Marie and my Bro did a nice job with the readings...and then the deacon proceeded to recite the same reading that Bro had just finished.  I don't know why he didn't choose to read from oh, say, the *Gospel* from Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, but whatever.  I guess he just wanted to reinforce what Bro said.  Then he started to recite the Prayers of the Faithful, which was supposed to be Jenn's portion of the program.  He saw me wave to her to go up to the podium, though, and let her continue what he started.  Veronica's eulogy was beautifully done, filled with bits of humor and memorable stories.  I especially loved it when she quoted Allen as saying, "When you say 'no' to Mama, it's like telling her 'yes' twice."  After the  ceremony in the chapel, we went outside to Mama's gravesite.   While we were seated and the deacon was sprinkling the casket with holy water, my godmother leaned over to my mom to ask where my grandfather's grave was.  My mom responded, "Over there, being stepped on."  

Thank you to those of you that were able to make it to the ceremony.  I know that many of you had to take time off of work, and I really appreciate the gesture, and I am thankful to have such supportive people in my life.  I sure did pick the right friends. :)

Thank you, also, to our funeral directors, especially Allison, and to all of those at Oakdale for being so pleasant to my family.

If you would like to see Mama's obituary and the slide show that was presented at the viewing, or you would like to leave a written or verbal message, please go to the Making Everlasting Memories site.

(If the link doesn't work, you can go to mem. com and search for "Maria Rojas."  There are 3 of them listed, and you can find her by the sepia-toned picture of her with my grandfather).

After the funeral services, we had a lunch reception at World Buffet.  They had a big selection of food, and I especially liked their sesame balls because, as V put it, "they had the right ratio of outside to inside."  Brady was digging on the fact that he had edamame on his plate.  He loves that stuff.  He ate half a package the other day at lunch, too.  

When our guests left, several of us went to the Tokyo Living shop, where Brady decided that he wanted a mushroom guy.  I found stuff for myself and one of my friends as well.  We then went to Tapioca Express and were overwhelmed by all of the different choices of drinks.  I ordered a Honey Green Tea with tapioca, and let others have a taste.  So here comes my favorite moment from today....

I told Allen to taste what I ordered, and after he did so, he said, "That was good.  I got one of Them Chew Balls."

So there you go.  Boba has now been renamed.

Excuse me while I go finish my drink with Them Chew Balls.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mama, Mama

There are times when one is forced to think about the people in their life, and the kind of impact those people had in the course of that person's history.  I tend to think about that stuff a lot, actually, but wanted to share this one with you.

My grandmother came to the USA a little while after my younger brother was born.  Mama took care of Bro while my parents worked and I was at school.  She liked to remind me of the days that she would take Bro in the stroller to meet me at the bus stop after school, and Bro would yell out, "Ata! Ata!" as soon as he saw me getting off of the bus. (He didn't say Ate correctly {A-teh} for awhile).  Of course, being the brat of an older sister I was, I tended to ignore his cuteness, but Mama never let me forget how much my brother looked up to me back then.  

Growing up with Mama in the house was quite different than before she had arrived.  I was no longer the pseudo-latch key kid, and there was now always someone home, cooking her wonderful dinners and snacks.  Mama made the best cascaron, and she also made other goodies like pechy-pechy and palitaw.  Many of those dishes consisted of freshly grated coconut, and I can still picture her or my grandfather using a special coconut grater.  Nowadays they could just buy the stuff already grated, but this was made from scratch, and with all the love that good cooking entails.  My friends loved it when Mama would cook pancit and lumpia, too...especially Angela.  Angela lived across the street from us, whom Mama also watched over after school, and Mama absolutely loved to cook for her, because she loved to see everyone eat her food.  Mama also loved cooking for Bro, and always insisted that I should like the dishes she made because "Ryan likes it."  Ah, the Bro.  The Golden Boy.  The one who now doesn't really eat Filipino food unless you trick him.  He was the light in her world.  Well, until Brady came along, and became Platinum Boy. ;)  Today I emulated Mama when I heated up my food on a frying pan instead of in the microwave, because that's how I learned to do things before the microwave came to fruition.  Fried spaghetti, anyone?  Mama was a home economics teacher in the Philippines, and she made play clothes for us.  Unfortunately, her sewing skills did not transfer to me, but Bro might make you a duffel bag if you ask him nicely.  

Mama raised us to be kind and polite.  She'd remind us to say everything respectfully to ou elders, and wonder why we didn't like whatever or whomever it was we didn't like at the moment.  She always saw the good in everyone, which kinda made me feel guilty because I knew she was right.  She was a wonderful model of a Christian, always generous with her self, her money, her cooking, and her ear.  When I got older and wasn't at my parents' home anymore, I'd still spend time with Mama and she'd ask about my friends.  She liked to hear my stories about them, and wanted the latest update on everyone's boyfriends, just like everyone else.  I think that I probably owe some purses to people because I told Mama some stuff, but not to worry.  I don't think she ever repeated anything I told her, unless she thought it might help me and my mom get along better.  Daughters and mothers always have a special kind of anxiety in their relationships, and Mama was always there to help smooth things out between my mom and me.   

Mama was also very devoted to God, and always had an offering out in front of the house's Santo Nino on special days.  Whenever I'm at mass, I can hear her voice during the different responses, because she would say them with meaning in every word.  Anyone that tells me that the Catholic responses are just words being parroted out of our mouths obviously never met Mama.  When she said "Thanks be to God," you could hear that she meant it, and she'd make you feel it, too.  Today was the first day that I went to Mass since the event of last week, and I had to struggle to keep from falling apart when I imagined her reciting the congregational words.  I remember her telling my grandfather that he needed to go to church with us, so that he could see "Sherry singing in front of hundreds of people."  She was one of my champions when I decided to sing.  I thought of her face in the congregation today, and wished so much that she was there these last several years.  (She hasn't lived in the area for awhile, so she couldn't attend my masses).

We all have great stories about the way Mama would make us laugh.  Like the time that she was making banana rolls (turon) at a family get-together, and she was so busy laughing with her friends that she didn't notice she was using powdered creamer instead of sugar.  That was some odd-tasting turon that day!  There's also the time that we went camping and it was so windy outside that we all ended up huddled in one tent, listening to the wind whipping around everything outside.  As we all discussed how strong the wind was, Mama decided to put in her 2 cents and said that it was also windy.  OK, that's what we were talking about, Mama!  She just wanted to be a part of the conversation, I guess.  We called her "Echo" a lot because of stuff like that, and also because she tended to pass the time away by saying people's and dog's names twice, like, "Ay, Cadence, Cadence."  This confused the dog because she'd wonder why Mama kept calling her and didn't do anything once she got to her.  

Mama was also quite the dynamo.  She never could sit still, except maybe to watch game shows or basketball.  She was always sweeping up something, or cooking, or doing laundry.  The reason she broke her hip was because even though she had been told not to do any housework once she became more frail, she walked outside to try to bring in the empty trash barrels, and fell while trying to pull one.  Even after her surgery, she would sneak outside when nobody was home, and sweep up the patio.  The family's love of basketball was not lost on her, however, and she'd sit down and watch games with us.  To the rest of the family's chagrin, she became a Chicago Bulls fan during the Jordan era, and rooted for them even when they played the Lakers.  And they called ME the traitor when I loved MJ so much and I was still rooting for the Lakers!  But I'd always go to where she was watching, and Mama and I would talk about the wonders of MJ. :)

One of Mama's proudest moments was when she became a US citizen.  She went to class at the community college, and I quizzed her before she took the test.  She was 80-something years old then, and I was really proud of her when she came home, waving her American flag.

Most of all when I think back on Mama's effect on me, I think of that smile of hers.  Even when she didn't have her dentures in, I loved to see her smile.  She found such joy in everything (well, except for when Papa was irritating her),  and I loved to see the light in her eyes.  That light was never so bright, though, as the days that she spent with her great-grandson.  We're all grateful that she was able to meet him, and I hope that even as he grows up, he'll still remember Mama.

Mama passed away last Sunday.  It's been a difficult week of preparation for our final goodbyes, but at least she's not suffering anymore.  We've been comforting each other with our funny stories, and I'm thankful to have a family that is supportive and caring.  She's the last of my grandparents to go, and the one to whom I was the closest.  On Monday, I'll be singing as my tribute to her.  I hope that God grants me the strength to sing well. 
I don't know if I'd be the person I am today if Mama had stayed in the Philippines.  I owe much of the kindness in my heart to her.  I like to think that I get my smile from her, and I hope that I get the chance to touch people's lives in the loving way that she did ... so they can catch the contagious smile, too.

Goodbye, Mama.  I love you, and just like you never forgot who I was even in this last difficult year, I'll never forget you.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Happy Not to Be A Duchess

Last night, the SheMoLo gals went out for some girl time.  Lo and I weren't so much in the mood for going too fancy, so we met at my house, and went to my now go-to restaurant, BASIL, for dinner.  

The woman at the restaurant immediately recognized me, and said to Mo & Lo that I must have a lot of friends, because I keep bringing new ones in.  I told her that they all enjoy the food, too!  I didn't want her to think that I bring friends and can't bring them back because they hate it, you know, so all of you out there that I've brought to the place, go back, OK?  Anyway, Mo ordered a salad that we all enjoyed, even though I'm not really into coconut flakes on my dinner.  But it was quite tasty.  After the rest of our food arrived, the chef visited our table and mentioned to me that all of the dishes we ordered had basil in them, with a smile on his face.  He told Mo & Lo that the last time I was there was the first time they'd ever run out of basil.  That's not a bad track record for 15 years.  I was actually too full at the time to order my fried bananas, but that's OK.  They know that I'll be back!

We then drove to Pasadena, checked out the dessert menu at Roy's, then decided not to eat there because they didn't approach us at the bar area right away, and we had a movie to see.  Our movie was "The Duchess" at the Laemmle's Playhouse.  We did go to the coffee shop in the Vroman's next door, and smuggled a couple of muffins and italian sodas into the theater, which had me freaked out from the spilling danger until we sat down.

My thoughts on "The Duchess":
  • Keira Knightley was outstanding 
  • Ralph Fiennes needs to be in a role where I root for him, because I've only seen him as this not-so-wonderful Duke and as Voldemort lately.  I'd really like not to be scared of him or want to slap him when Joseph introduces us to each other. ;)
  • I enjoyed looking at Dominic Cooper, who played Charles Grey.  (Ssshhhh, Ralph, don't tell Joe)
  • Beautiful score and cinematography
  • I'm really glad that I didn't live in that era, because I don't think I could handle the kind of living arrangement that the Duchess had to deal with.  WHAT was she thinking when she welcomed that woman into her home?  DUH!
  • That was kind of an odd Brady Bunch of kids.
  • What is up with the name "Harryo"?  For a girl, even.
  • Sometimes mothers don't care about happiness as long as their social status remains.  That pisses me off.  I also noticed that the Duchess never talked to her father about anything, which makes me wonder how he would have reacted if he knew what his daughter was going through.  Although maybe he'd be just like the mom.  I don't know.
  • She had a bunch of girlfriends at the beginning of the film.  Why did none of them come to visit her at her huge new home?  Perhaps this is why she goes and trusts someone she doesn't even know.
  • I think I'm going to need to read this book.  The story was fascinating, and the similarities between her and Princess Diana were striking, as Mo & Lo said, and that the website also mentions.
  • She had awesome dresses and hats. How in heavens name could she breathe while wearing the corsets AND hold up her head with those huge wigs and hats?!
  • "Please put out Her Grace's hair."

We had a great time.  Thanks, Mo, for the great movie suggestion.  (She had not wanted to see "Secret Life of Bees" because she thought that it would be too depressing, yet there we were, crying during this movie, too.  No, not happy tears).  I'm looking forward to our next get-together.  I think we're going to be inebriated so that should be interesting. 

Monday, October 13, 2008

Burning, Eyeing, Batting

I saw a couple of movies in the last 2 weeks with Linda, and here are some of my thoughts from those days.

Burn After Reading

1) Typical funny demented Coen Brothers movie.  Loved it.
2) Brad Pitt was hilarious as the wacky gym trainer.  I've seen him do comedy when he was on "Friends," and he did a good job there, too.  
3) George Clooney's contraption in his basement was crazy funny.
4) Loved Frances McDormand's obsession with getting enough money for her cosmetic surgery.
5) Anytime you see a hatchet in a Coen Brothers movie, you know there's going to be a need to cover your eyes pretty soon.
6)  Poor Gym Manager guy.  He just wants the best for Frances' character.
7) The CIA is watching your every wacked out move, but you can go ahead and move to Venezuela if you'd like to escape them.

Eagle Eye
1)  My stomach was in a knot from the first action sequence until the end of the film.  Ergo I could not eat more than one cookie.
2) When someone in the lobby was looking at me as he pulled his phone out of his pocket, I worried that he was being given directions to get rid of me.
3) I adored Sam's freckles.  Cute that his mom's face had them, too.
4) I'm afraid to answer my phone, or have it in the same room as me when I'm talking to anyone else.  Perhaps I'll be taking out the battery whenever I decide to discuss secrets with anyone.
5) If ARIA is for real, you need only to read this blog to analyze my personality, so maybe I don't have to be worried about answering the phone.
6) The government is watching your every wacked out move, but you can go 36 floors under the Pentagon to try to stop them.

I enjoyed both movies, and recommend the first one for anyone that likes Coen Bros fare, and the second one for people that like conspiracy/action/psychological thriller stuff.

Here's the bat cookie that I didn't eat last night:

Isn't it cute?!

Thanks, Linda, for joining me!  I had fun, AND I got a free Buffy DVD thing.  Not a bad day at all.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sherry and the Finished Series

This morning, I finally finished J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" book series.  

I can't remember when I actually started reading the series, but I probably would have finished the entire series within 7 straight weeks (or sooner) if I could have taken an extended vacation just to read.   I became interested in the books after seeing the first movie, but never actually sat down to read until a few years later, and swore to myself not to start any new books until I was done with the entire series.

So I'm done now.  The series was very well written, and I understand why Rowling has been praised for getting people to read again thanks to these books.  They were all quite engaging, and I had to tear myself away from reading, because otherwise I'd stay home and get nothing else accomplished.  I really cared for all of the characters, good and bad, and as I read the final pages of the last book, I cried.  Now, I know that y'all that know me well think that I cry at virtually everything slightly emotional, but I don't think I'd ever cried over a story in a book before.  I think it was not only the way the story ended, but also the fact that the story was over.  7 books, thousands of pages, lots of time reading -- just done.  I just couldn't believe it was over.   My reaction kind of surprised me.

I've been lucky that I've been able to read one book after another, and not have to wait between books like the other millions of fans.  I liken it to those people who watch "24" on DVD, and don't have to wait until the next week to see the next episode.  Those spoiled people are probably freaking out like I am because they will now have to wait until what seems like forever until the next season begins. 

So now I have the final movies to look forward to, although I won't get the same feeling from them as I did the written version, as I've learned from other people who have read books before watching the movie versions.  I'll probably still cry, though. ;)

Now I can start reading the other books I've set aside.

At least until December 4.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Rockapella has posted pictures from their tours in Germany and Japan.

Here's the link to my favorite one.

First of all:  That's a big piece of gumminess.  I love JT's expression!
Secondly:  Do you think they'd ever have Gloomy Gummi Bear?  You know, like for Hallowe'en?
Oh, and if you go to the new Japan pictures from dated 9/26/08, one of the guys took a picture of the fancy features for the restroom on the 3rd page of thumbprints.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

DLR LotD 10/05/08

Disneyland Resort Line of the Day
Sunday, October 5, 2008

(It's been quite a while since I've been to the resort.  So I'm listing more than one, just because I felt like it).

"Tigger seems to get enough of that at home." -- Sherry, at Plaza Inn, causing Tigger to act dramatically

"That's R-O-N-G wrong!" -- Sherry, at different times in different places

Bonus gross line:
"Oh, nothing.  I'm just puking." -- Some girl in the stall next to Sherry, speaking to someone on a cell phone quite matter-of-factly

Friday, October 3, 2008

I Like to Be in America

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Linda and I went to Target's American Film Institute Night at the Movies this week.  This is the second year that they've had this event, I believe.  AFI screens several classic/neo-classic movies at the same time in one night at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood, with either a prominent actor or director giving an introduction before the movie.  I was a little torn because Denzel Washington was introducing "Glory" in one theater, Jodie Foster was introducing "Silence of the Lambs" in another, and Rita Moreno was introducing "West Side Story" in yet another.  It also would have been cool to see Sean Connery (for "The Man Who Would Be King"), or Keanu Reeves (for "The Matrix"), though I wasn't as torn about those.  Linda was torn about Connery, though. :)  Since "West Side Story" is one of my top 10 favorite movies of all time, and I'd never seen it on the big screen, I decided on that one, and Linda eagerly agreed.  

Linda and I happened to arrive at about the same time, so we went to dinner at the Jack-in-the-Box across the street, and tried not to get beaten up by the homeless woman whom was loudly talking to herself and everyone else in general.  

We then walked to the theater, and saw Jim Carrey getting his picture taken on the red carpet.  He was there to introduce "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."  It must be difficult to have to deal with all of those people getting in your face to take your picture and yellling your name all the time.  Yes, I 'm serious.  It's just no wonder that some celebrities get such whacked-out views of the world.  The line to enter the theater was pretty long, but only because they had a security check.  Those people with cameras and cell phones with cameras were asked to either put them back in their car or check them in.  I had already left my phone in the car when I saw the sign, so our entry into the theater was painless.  We ran into one of Linda's co-workers, whom was there to see "American Beauty," which was introduced by Annette Benning.

Our theater was upstairs, and we were offered free drinks and popcorn, which was nice.  I made sure to get a water bottle because it had a fleur-de-lis on it.  I can't help it if I like fancy water!  After our trip to the restrooms with the hooks on the doors made at the height for Amazon Women in Heels, we went into the theater and were led to our seats, which were in the very back left corner.  Since the theater isn't that big, our seats were still in a good viewing location.

The screen showed trivia questions from WSS, and the speakers played music from all of the films being shown during the night.  A volunteer from AFI talked to us a little bit about the evening, and asked trivia questions (that were different from the ones on the screen), offering prizes like Target Water Bottles to the winners.  The second round of trivia questions required the contestants to finish the lyrics of songs, and sometimes required them to sing them.  Now, I love WSS very very much, but I knew that if I got up in front of everyone, I'd forget every single word of every song and look like a complete idiot.  Linda didn't go up there either.  Instead, we sang to each other quietly after people answered their questions.  One of the young girls had just finished playing "Anita" in her school's production of WSS this May; a lady had taken a picture with Rita Moreno in the Philippines when she found out that she was nominated for the Oscar; and an 11-year-old sang "I Feel Pretty" quite nicely.  Those that sang won movie tickets and AFI hats.  After the trivia questions were over, Linda asked me if she should just go up to the front and start singing (she would have completely blown away anyone else), and I offered to buy her dinner at Napa Rose if she did so.  She also had the alternative of just singing loudly from the back corner, and I offered her dinner at Catal for that, but she still couldn't get up the gumption to do it.  That's OK, Linda.  I would have been too worried that they'd kick out the two of us before getting to see Rita M.  

Some guy named Robert Mandel to tell us more about the movie's accolades.  "West Side Story" has been honored 4 times by the AFI, won 10 Academy Awards out of its 11 nominations, and one of those was Rita Moreno's Best Supporting Actress award.  

Ms. Moreno looked great.  She said that she was happy to be there, as she shops at Target all the time.  She marveled at the fact that WSS is 50 years old, and that the reason it endures is that the Movie itself is the star.  It has "universal emotions in it and truths."  She called the production one of "Choreographing to Character," as every move, every word that Anita did or said was pure Anita.  Nobody else would have moved like her or talked like her.  It was truly a treat for us to see her speak about how proud she was to be a part of the movie.   She's awesome.

The movie itself was, of course, wonderful.  My favorite scene of the movie is "America."  Whenever the movie is being shown on AMC or whatever cable channel, no matter how late at night, I flip to it just to watch "America."  I won't go to bed until I see it.  Yes, I have it on DVD.  But I'd just rather watch it right there.  Well, whaddaya know, but when the scene played, I clapped quietly, but a lot of other people applauded at that time, too, so I got to be loud about it after all!  I love that scene for the lyrics, the clothes, the dancing, the's just perfect.  I also love that George Chikaris and Rita Moreno are wearing matching colors, which makes sense, since she works in a dress shop and probably has plenty of access to nice materials.  The crowd seemed to particularly enjoy all of Anita's lines.  For some reason, we didn't get to have an intermission like when it is usually shown.  Perhaps they thought that we could last through the whole thing, which is fine, except for the fact that Linda and I love listening to that intermission music.  I think that the only thing that I've never liked is Velma saying "Oobly Ooh."  I so don't get that.  It must be a thing from that era.  I don't know.  Otherwise, I loved the movie just as much as every other time I've watched it.  I cried, I laughed, it remains a part of me.

Afterward, we shopped at the Arclight store, then stopped in at bodyfactory, a store with fancy health-type drinks and candles and such.  No, I don't know how one goes with the other.  Anyway, one of the employees there, Nadia, talked to us for quite awhile, and she was very entertaining about why she liked or didn't like the certain candle scents, and even talked about her roommates, and going to dance class.  She was hilarious.  

Linda and I said our goodbyes to Nadia and to each other, and called it a night.   Thanks, Linda, for accompanying me!  I had a great time, and hope that I get to go again next year.  THIS is why one lives in L.A.: to go to cool events such as these.  Middle America, eat your hearts out!