My COVID Stories: Home Repairs and Spring Cleaning

For more than ten years, I have been using a toilet and bath that has a defective flush, uncovered shower drain and leaking sink. Our toilet flushed so well when it worked before because Papa, the mechanical engineer, configured the toilet system with vent pipes. He explained the configuration to me before when I asked why our toilet flushed better than the other house but I forgot the science behind it. Don’t ask me the details. The problem with ours then was that we needed to change the toilet bowl itself. Rust developed and the tank could no longer carry water for flushing. So, for more than ten years, I was using a pail of water to flush my toilet. Yes, more than ten years.

Family and friends who stayed overnight in my house knew this. I had family and friends from first world countries who had to contend with my lousy toilet. They endured the inconvenience and I never heard them say anything bad about their stay. You know you have friends for keeps when they remained friends even after subjecting them to a primitive toilet system.

Finally, I decided to do something about it this year. Since I have been living with an ugly toilet for years, I went beyond the bare minimum and decided to really make it beautiful. I was not aiming for just a repair. I wanted a makeover.

This was day 1 of my toilet renovation. Workers removed everything and started working on the floor and walls. I did not take a “before” photo because that would ruin whatever good reputation I have. Makadaot ug dungog! Hahaha. It was that bad.

I have a 1.8 meter by 1.5 meter toilet and bathroom space. It is fairly small but the space is enough for me. Without further adieu, this is my finished bathroom.

toilet

I bought a pre-fabricated enclosure from a hardware store so I do not have to scout for suppliers or contractors for the enclosures.

shower enclosure

I also chose a narrow sink to save space. The sink is so narrow that I had to gingerly wash my face. Bawal malaki ulo sa sink ko, guys. Hahaha I also found a narrow cabinet from a home store for my toiletries and towels.

bathroom

And I now have a manual bidet. Tabo no more!

toilet

I kept our old louvered door but opted to turn it to sliding one to save space.

louvers

My toiletries are very minimal.

shower

While the workers are still available, I took advantage of tapping them for the minor repairs in my house. I had my leaking roof fixed and some parts in the ceiling had to be replaced. I also had the cabinets in my parents’ room repaired. The house was infested with termites years ago and the damages on the cabinets are still there so I had them fixed.

Fixing the cabinets meant I had to unload everything in it. I still have some of my parents’ things. It has been more than 10 years since they have passed away.

spring cleaning

These are the interesting things I found and each piece has a story to tell of the life we lived.

I found my toy train and letters from friends.

toy train

I remember Papa asking me what I wanted him to buy in Cebu. He and my cousin, Kuya Edwin, went to Cebu to buy materials for the construction of my aunt’s house. I told him that I wanted a toy train since the impressionable child in me saw in a book an illustration of children playing with trains. Papa, the educator, had to chime in that the men on the moon went to Cebu to buy me a toy train. (Papa’s name is Neil. Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, gets?)

I live in Butuan City but I spent my high school in Davao. During summer vacations, I wrote letters to friends to keep in touch with what was happening with their lives. In these letters specifically, they wrote about where they would be enrolling for college.

Speaking of college, I found some IDs I had in college. The library of the UP College of Science then went digital. Library cards were replaced with Borrower’s ID with bar code. And I used to have a student’s discount card for Philippine Airlines. Plane fares are expensive. I only used this a few times when I traveled alone. I usually traveled by ship if I had someone to accompany me.

IDs

I also found my ballet costume. I had ballet lessons for a year and it was supposed to train me to have a better posture. Indeed, I had a better posture when I dance. I could do the pirouettes, plies, arabesque, jete and others. I was told I was a graceful dancer but when I am not dancing, I am back with my bad posture. Ha!

ballet

This is my aunt’s maid of honor dress that she used during my parent’s wedding. The little girl is my cousin who will be turning 50 soon. (I will not identify who she is. In real life, she looks way younger for her age. )

maid of honor

This is my Mama’s wedding gown and Papa’s coat. My parents would have celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary this coming May.

wedding

I also found my father’s job acceptance letter. I was 5 months old when he got a new job at a match company. He was paid Php 950 a month then. I hope it was enough to feed an infant who drank milk like it was water. I was an S26 (milk brand) baby.

letter

I also found a few of their old passbooks. My parents always had a bank account even if their savings were minimal.

passbook

Owning a refrigerator then was a big deal. They were issued with a Certificate of Ownership.

refrigerator

Owning a stereo system required a deed of sale. Wow.

deed of sale

I still have that unit but the different parts are now used as a tables.

stereo

The stuff I found gave a glimpse of how my parents took good care of their things.

I am lucky to inherit their things.

This was my mama’s dresser even before she got married.

dresser

I replaced the mirror, changed the knobs and repainted it. I am now using it in my bedroom.

dresser

There were also things I needed to let go.

This was my parent’s bed. It had been my bed since birth. (I slept in their room until my father’s death. Papa had a separate bed in the room).

bed

This used to be our setup. Mama and I slept in the big bed;Papa in the small one. (My Mama had separation anxiety when it came to me. I was away for school for 8 years.) When Mama died, I slept in the big bed alone and Papa still slept in his bed.

When my father died, I moved to my room but I brought with me the top mattress of the bed.

That is the only bed I had …until recently. The springs were already poking me. Before tetanus kills me, I decided to replace the bed.

I had the carpenter customize the bed for me. I wanted lots of storage space…

bed

…and an upholstered headboard. Voila!

room

Since I wanted a makeover, I decided to rearrange things.

This was how my bedroom used to look which, I think, was already cozy.

my room

This is now my new bedroom with my new bed and mama’s dresser. It is more functional this time around. I painted the artwork so that I have my own art in my own room. I moved my photos over my bed to a different area in the room. The photos still need to be updated. I have new nieces and new dog.

room wide lens

As a postscript to all these stories of repairs and spring cleaning, I also found the house plans that my father kept.

My father had these plans made when he and mama planned to buy a lot in a good subdivision here. They were not able to buy the lot because the money they saved for it was used to help my grandparents redeem their pawned property.

This was supposed to be our house.

house plan

I am kilig that they labeled it “daughter’s bedroom”. My room!

plan

My parents acquired another lot in another subdivision and Papa also had a plan drafted.

 

And there’s the daughter’s bedroom again. Excluding their planned walk-in closet, my room is bigger than theirs. Awww.

plan

I have always wanted a bedroom on the second floor.

But life is what happened when we are busy making other plans.

We did not live in a subdivision. My parents already sold that subdivision lot. We live in a small house in a small barangay. My bedroom is not on the second floor but I would not trade our house for another house. This is home. This will be my home for as long as God allows me.


Oh, I realized my father did build me a second floor bedroom even though I do not live there. I was even part of the planning. I even made a layout using Sketchup. This was the last project I did with Papa.

sketchup

This is my backup home for the zombie apocalypse. hahaha

house

I wish my parents lived longer. We could have done a lot of cool stuff together.

I should go back to cleaning before I get sentimental and bawl over these memories. Grief, they say, is love persevering. Something like that. Writing this post is my excuse for taking a break from cleaning.

I can do this. Aja!

My COVID Stories: Life Goes On

How’s your 2021 so far? It is my 14th month into this pandemic and I thank God for His graces. I wish I can be a prolific blogger and write as often as my neurons transmit information to other cells in my body but the middle-aged woman in me just wanted to feed my brain with lots of sleep, carbohydrates and k-drama. When it comes to art and this blog, I follow no deadline. So here I am going through my photos and trying to tell a story of what happened in the last 108 days.

My anxiety meter comes from the Butuan City PIO Facebook Page. This is where my city posts its COVID statistics. I am a numbers person so I am hyper-aware when I see figures.

Mid-January statistics was okay.

So I found myself making up for lost time. We went to visit my family’s ‘mausoleum’. I have not visited my parents’ tomb in more than a year.

I went to see my nephew and niece. My niece was sweet that day. She was giving hugs and I needed lots of it.

I went to another niece’s birthday after.

The week after, I met my cousins for a trip to the mountain to feel some cool breeze.

Then, COVID hits the family.  Two of my cousins tested positive for COVID-19.

This was my scared face as I was on videocall while Azenith was inside the ambulance en route to the hospital. She spent most of her February in quarantine.

Looking at my anxiety meter, there were lots of cases in February.

So I stayed home and pretended I was vacationing somewhere and this was the hotel lobby. Ha!

In reality, this is my aunt’s garage floor.

Feeling helpless over what was happening, I found a way to make meaningful contribution with just a little effort. There was this call for donations and I qualified since my hair was untreated and long.

I cut my hair short and donated it to Makati Med.

I only went out to buy essentials. Yes, potato chips are essential.

And even in my house clothes, color coordination is essential. Kidding!

Valentine’s came and it was a surprising one for me. My friend, Teram, sent three of us, her single friends, this cake. The english translation of the message on the cake is ” No boyfriend but loved by many”. It was a ribbing to my singlehood and I love it! Who does not love a free cake?

I spent most of my February painting.

By March, the number of cases dropped and my anxiety waned also.

We went to the beach to celebrate the healing of my cousins. Thank you, God, for their lives.

I pray for the people who lost their lives and I personally knew quite a few and it was heartbreaking.

There is something about being in an open space that calms my nerves.

I also went to see my teacher friends.  Three are getting married, two bought new cars and two moved to their new home.  What an impressive bunch!

My couple friends live in this awesome tiny house. I am so proud of them for building their first house.

I also found the part of the fence that my father donated when he still taught in this school. I think it was more than 50 years ago- way before I was born.

For the first time in my 43 years, I attended a debut. Finally, my friends’ daughter was able to celebrate her debut which was postponed for a year due to the pandemic.

Congrats to my friend, Cez, for successfully organizing the event.

It has been awhile since I last used my DSLR and my skills are a little bit rusty. My rusty skills are better than not having any photos taken so I said yes to shoot my friend’s sister’s wedding.

Holy week was fast approaching and cases in Metro Manila were rising and so was my anxiety. I stayed home for the Holy Week and did some spring cleaning (which I think needs a separate blog entry).

I celebrated Easter with a few of my relatives.

Oh, I went to my friend’s house blessing.  Bam built a pad for her and her mother in her brother’s compound so that they can have their own space. We visited this space in November but I was not able to take pictures with me in it because we came from walking. My sweaty self was not camera-ready. I took pictures of our breakfast then and the cozy space.  Look at that! You’d think I downloaded the photos from a magazine. So beautiful! I am so happy for Bam and Nanay.

Fast forward to 5 months after, I was able to finally pose for pictures in this awesome space.

I spent much of the first week of April cleaning.  I still am not done but there are silver linings. My room is clean and organized. I got myself a new bed.

I finally renovated my toilet.  I will write about the renovation soon.

The cases are rising in my city.  It looks scary.

I got my new bed and new toilet. I will stay at home. With fervent prayers, I will be okay.  Life goes on.

Sending you love,

Kat

My COVID Stories: The Last 3 Months of 2020

We are now 10 months into the pandemic and I think I have adjusted to a life in quarantine. I am not as anxious as before but I am still careful.

I lost two people from my childhood in October (not COVID deaths). It made me realize that life is finite and that I need to make the most of every day. I try to make time for family and friends even if it is a simple message on messenger, a videocall, a phone call or an SMS.

I also realized that I have FOMO (fear of missing out) so one would find me in every videoconference call organized by friends.  And I was often one of the few who would last till 3am. No, I did not dominate the conversation. I was just there listening and laughing at the banters. I miss people.  Or maybe I am now a little sentimental because I am growing old. I miss my friends, my childhood and my youth

I am glad to have spent time in the water with family and friends.

I also tried to get some exercise.  ‘Tried’ is the operative word. Ha!

I said goodbye to my ampalaya vine. My aunt placed plant boxes in their windows.

My ampalaya was an eyesore. Also, it was not giving much yield but I am happy to cook this last pick.

I had my roof fixed and the repair led to repainting this wall and new tiles in the kitchen.

My aunts have a new nook in their kitchen with my early works.

We decorated for Christmas after the repairs were completed.

I sold four paintings in an auction for charity. I pledged 40% of the proceeds to charity.  Thanks to all those who support my art.

I also finished some commissioned pieces.

I met quite a number of family and friends over the Christmas holidays. I tried my best to remember the health protocols.  It has been 18 days since the end of 2020. I am happy to report that we are all safe and in good health.

I hope to write longer next time. I am posting the photos here for the memories. Each photo brings back the conversations, the laughter, the good food and good company.  This is just a quick update. I just want to close 2020 (in the middle of Jan 2021! Ha!).

Looking forward for a better 2021!  I may need a haircut though.

My COVID Stories: My 2020 So Far

Prelude to Quarantine

For three years, I have kept this kind of journal. These contain pictures of the highlights of my year.

I have allocated the same type for this year but it is currently empty. I hope to find time to fill them with pictures.

This year, I upped the ante by writing more. I finally used the journal a friend gave me after I hoarded 2 more from a trip. So I am probably good for 2 more years of journal pages. I wrote this in December 31, 2019 to welcome 2020:

For 2020, I hope to fill my days with art, conversations, laughter and ideas. May I have moments of peace where I can listen to my heart, listen to God and just be. I hope to stay healthy and be a friend and family to the people around me. Life may not have given me longer time with my own family but I do get to spend time with the ones I have left. (Something wrong with the sentence but that’s what I wrote. I need an editor. hahaha) It is amazing how people form (become) part of my life through the years and I am glad with the ones I met along the way. I am looking forward to more fulfilling and purposeful life. May I live with intent and love. Goodbye 2019 and hello 2020!

I still have bad penmanship.

Funny how I never mentioned travel, how I wrote about moments of peace, being healthy and living with intent. And I now realize that the intention was just to stay alive.

This is what nine months of writing looks like. Yeah, not only do I write for a living, I also made it a hobby.  Grammar, be damned.  As if I don’t have enough hobbies to begin with. Full-time hobbyist, part-time worker.

As much as I enjoyed being at home, I looked through my photos before the pandemic and there were many things I did early this year that I surely missed. These are something I look forward to doing again when this COVID-19 pandemic is over.

I almost forgot it was only this year that I went to a fiesta with friends, had a Chinese New Year’s party , singles’ valentine’s party with cousins and met up with friends.

I got to hug these kids. I can’t now.

I miss my nephew, Adi. I browsed through my phone. I did not get to see him this year.

I never thought last February was the last time that, in maybe a long while, I get to fly for leisure…

… and travel for work.

The Quarantine Life

Things changed in March. Supposedly, I had a full schedule. I made a fuss about it in one of my projects. Then the pandemic happened and, boom, I was cooped up at home. While art and gardening helped me manage my anxiety, adjusting to life in quarantine has it ups and downs. I take it one day at the time.

I was supposed to spend the onset of summer in Dinagat with friends. I did not even get to meet them anymore but they sure know how to make me happy. They made sure I get my pasalubong nevertheless.

Then, there was the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). Just outside my gate, there was a barricade. No one can pass this side of the street. Well, except me, since they placed it before my gate. But if you know me, I do not go out unless it is my schedule to do essential stuff.

I wore mask and sunglasses whenever I go out. The streets then were almost empty (unlike today). I usually go to the grocery to buy food.

I try to keep my small pantry stocked. I am not really a hoarder. Maybe because I live in the middle of the city surrounded with food supplies. I can always take a quick trip to buy essentials twice a week.

This is my quarantine pass. I can do my errands twice a week. However, it is really such a hassle to go out.

I do not like wearing masks. It is suffocating for me. It is much more difficult now that we are required to wear a face shield.

I do my errands as quickly as I can. Prolonged wearing of face masks makes me tired. I usually just rest after an errand because it is so tiring. My middle-aged body calls for a rest. Just two hours of errand and I would be in my bed the rest of the day. So many wasted time. But didn’t I wish for moments of peace in 2020? This is the universe granting my wish. Ha! I know someday when we are back to the daily grind, I would look back at these days where I could just rest as I please.

Yes, staying at home is a way better option for me. I acknowledge that I may belong to the privileged few that can manage to stay at home. I am thankful for that. I pray for those who uncomfortably work full-time with mask and shield on.

I am thankful that I can work from home. My work entailed documenting seminars and other capacity building activities and these had shifted online via different web conferencing platforms. I used my parents’ old room as work area. I get the privacy I needed and this room has air-conditioning.

Not a fancy setup.

I have chosen this space so as not to cause mishaps like somebody passing behind my back while on videocall. I made sure there was a wall behind me.

I also made sure not to set it up in my own room where I get dressed. I read too many stories about those who did not turn off their cameras and ended up in a viral video in a bad way.

I have set aside my lounge pants for online meetings. No mishaps from me! But crazy old me still exists. I have enough lounge-y pants in my closet that I have not worn denims since the start of the quarantine. I should try to wear jeans again just to check if they still fit.

I stopped wearing makeup because no matter how fresh I feel. I looked like I am fresh out of bed on the screen. Let’s blame my 7-year-old laptop, shall we?

One of the things that kept me sane in this pandemic is that I have to walk these two twice a day. That is my exercise. I read we need Vitamin D every day so I get mine by walking and by gardening. Since I avoid hugging people, I am happy I have these two to hug.

I have refused to attend gatherings even if my relatives said there are only “a few of us”. In my head, I counted the possible few. I felt that (if my math was right) the number of people and area of their house defy social distancing rules.-not to mention being in an enclosed air-conditioned space with masks off, sharing of meals, laughter and chitchatting. I can imagine the saliva flying in the air and how easy it is to spread some deadly disease. No thanks. This is how I put my mathematics degree to practice. Hahaha I try to calculate things in my head and roll my eyes. I say no to gatherings and spare everyone of my anxiety.

I do understand how some people may be tired of following the protocols and just want to live their life the way the want to save their sanity. I am tired, too, but I still want to live so I wear my mask, wash my hands, practice social distancing and go out only for essentials. We have different ways to cope. I always follow the “Better be safe than sorry” route. And if for some reason, I catch the disease after doing all the possible precautions, I will try my best to live to tell the tale.

Even if I missed all the gatherings, I always keep in touch online. I enjoy the videocalls to family, high school classmates, friends and college roommates. I’ll just blur their faces because I am too lazy to message each one of them that I am posting their photos.

I also have my daily updates from friends through group chat. I get to keep in touch more with friends whether near or far and in various communication channels. I really do not miss much of the outside world. (Well, except when my friends post beach photos in areas where COVID-19 cases are low, I get jealous. That is when I feel I am missing a lot. )

I was able to go out to dine only once so far. It was in this not-so-accessible area in the city. My cousin was driving me around while our dog was being groomed. Aside from us, there was a couple in a table behind this divider.

The cafe was practically empty which soothed my anxious heart. The people in the photo were waiting for their take out.

Social distancing guides are in place.

I can’t reach my cousin from across the table so good job, Roadtrip Cafe.

By August, my hardinera heart became a plantita. Hardinera is what I can myself when I grow vegetables while plantita is for what I call myself for taking care of ornamental plants. Between my aunt and I, there was an unwritten delineation of tasks. I take care of my vegetables while she takes care of her plants. For some reason, the algorithm always shows all plants on my social media feed. I love this huge caladiums I saw in my feed that I said I wanted to collect plants with pink and white leaves. (Photo is from @plantqueenloves on IG.)

My aunt gave me my first few plants and now I have a few in my collection given by friends. I hope I can grow the leaves as large as the ones from @plantqueenloves. ( I will write more about the challenges of being a plantita in future posts.)

I also spent my birthday in quarantine.

I celebrated it with my aunts and cousins.

Two people came for lunch and two for dinner. I just ordered food I saw on my feed. I don’t want to spend my birthday cooking. Honestly, this is how I want to celebrate my birthday (pandemic or not)- not stressing about entertaining people and worrying if they enjoyed the food. (I sound like the introvert that I am. I guess the pandemic intensified my aloofness.) Besides, life should be celebrated every day.

So what interests have I caught on this year? Drum roll please. K-drama! I remember watching three K-dramas (which was called Koreanovela then) in the mid 2000s. These were Lovers in Paris, Save the Last Dance for Me and Princess Hours. I also watch Descendants of the Sun a few years ago. I wondered why I never watched more after that. This year I watched Crash Landing on You, Kingdom, Encounter, Goblin and It’s Okay Not to be Okay. I am currently watching Reply 1988.

Let’s see how long I can continue my interest in K-drama.

Oh, I finally got myself a Netflix subscription. Uh-oh. Since I am no longer watching movies in the theater, the subscription is way cheaper than the movie tickets. I hope I am making the most out of the fees I paid. I hope I don’t get sucked into the Netflix blackhole and  hope to learn to opt out someday so that I can explore the world when it is safe.

So far, it is a different and interesting year. I am immensely grateful for the memories and the opportunities that came my way. I hope this pandemic will be over soon and I hope we all survive it.

How’s your 2020 so far?

My COVID Stories: 10 Lessons Learned on the Road to Being a Hardinera

It has been four months since the quarantine started in the Philippines and I have not written anything about it. A friend of mine thought about temporarily shutting down her blog since she has not written anything new for years and she’s regularly paying for hosting. I was thinking about that, too, but I wanted to keep many of what I have written and I am too lazy busy to bother learning how to back up my files. So here I am pushing myself to write something by starting a series of posts about what I did during the COVID-19 quarantine.

The quarantine posed a lot of challenges but nothing motivated me more to start a vegetable garden than the thought that I might have trouble finding food in the future. The pandemic has rendered me an unessential worker and that bruised my ego a little bit. If this pandemic leaves me without a source of income, I should start learning how to survive by growing my own food. This started my journey to being a hardinera (gardener).

The local agriculture office had the same thought, I guess. They distributed seeds for households to grow. I asked my cousin who worked for the city government to get me some seeds which she sent my way by mid-April.

I was an eager beaver. I germinated all the seeds in the egg trays.

Lesson number one: germinate only what you can grow.

I learned this lesson the hard way. I was so happy that the vegetables started to grow after 3 days. I was given pechay, kangkong, eggplant, okra and string beans.


These trays were placed in a shelf outside the house. A rat probably ran through the trays and toppled everything because one morning, I found the trays on the ground with the seedlings scattered and dead.

Lesson number two: Try again

Since I wasted all the seeds given to me, I went to an agricultural store and bought seeds that are available so I bought carrots, cucumber and mustard greens. I only planted a few this time around and I germinated them inside the guest room. They were placed near the window for the sunlight. My family photos were even watching over the seed trays.

Still dead.


The sunlight may be too harsh and the room lacked ventilation.

Lesson number three: Seek help

It was already mid-May. Had I been successful with my gardening, I could have harvested something by this time. So I watched Youtube videos on how I can grow an urban garden with the limited space that I have. I also asked the help of my friend, Mitzi, where to source good soil, particulary vermicast (vermicast is a compost produced by earthworms). She underwent training on organic farming years ago and has started a hydroponic garden this year so she knows these things. She told me that the Caraga State University sells vermicast. I sent my cousin to buy soil for me there. When he came to deliver the soil, he also gave me three seedlings of lettuce which the caretaker gave him. He also gave me fresh lettuce he bought there which became my dinner that night.


I planted these on a self-watering containers made from coke bottles.

Gardening reginites my love for coca-cola. ( hahaha somebody found an excuse to drink more coke)

I cut and transformed the 1.5 liter bottles of coca-cola into self-watering containers. Also, my aunt helped me rummage the trash for these bottles. Yes, we became scavengers. Save mother earth!

I think my cousin enjoyed his time there because he told he was going back to buy some herbs. By his next quarantine pass schedule, he got me mint and basil plants. My garden dreams slowly came to life.

Lesson number four: Get your friends and family involved.

I have already dragged my cousin and one aunt into this garden goal of mine. Anticipating my need for planting containers, I asked another aunt to buy me pots.

But look at what she bought me. They are too pretty.

So I asked my friend to buy me regular pots and while she was at it, I asked her if she might want to buy me garden soil and coco peat, too. Hahaha! Most gardening videos I watched suggested mixing regular garden soil, vermicast and coco peat. (Yes, my friend got them all for me.)

I even asked my friend all the way from Cabadbaran (2 localities away from Butuan) to buy me these pots.


My aunts went another notch higher. They gave me an indoor garden so I was able to use some of the pots here.

But wait there’s more!  There is another rack in my entryway.

Lesson number five: Keep trying

I still wanted a vegetable garden. I have a few herbs already but I wanted other vegetables. In particular, ampalaya (bitter gourd). I have tried growing from the seeds I collected from the vegetable I bought. No luck. So I decided to order online. Since shipping cost is lower if I buy more, I got as much as I can afford. Tada! I got all these online from Ramgo.

I germinated them. I planted only 5 to 10 seeds at a time so that I can try again if I fail. Since I am more successful with hanging pots, I got hanging germination containers from yogurt and ramen containers.

I germinated some in used tin cans.

I used wood coffee stirrers for nametags.


Lesson number six: Be inspired.

My friends have awesome vegetable gardens!

My friend, Mitzi, has a hydroponic garden here in my city.

My friend, Ginee, has a thriving vegetable garden in Canada.

My friend, Grace, grows these fruits and vegetables  in her yard in Japan.

I also saw gardens of other friends, too, and I am happy to see them happy with their plant babies.

When MGCQ (modified general community quarantine) was declared (for just a short time) in my city, my friends and I trooped to the Caraga State University. I bought seedlings for blue ternate, Thai basil and stevia. I saw their greenhouse where they germinate the seeds and the vermicast area. It felt nostalgic to set foot in the campus again. I spent five months of my short teaching career in that place. A lot has changed and I was happy that I was able to explore that place again even for a short while.

Lesson number seven: Enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Sometimes, the fruits come from what your parent labored. My cousin sent me two boxes of mangoes as my share from the trees Papa planted at least twenty years ago.

This was me and the mango trees more than 15 years ago.

I shared most of the mangoes to family and neighbors.

My meals often had mangoes.


And some ‘fruits’ come from my own labor.

The lettuce grew well and so does the basil and mint.

I have been eating samgyupsal using my lettuce. I cut a few leaves and they grew every time.

I have used the basil for pesto pasta…

..and the mint for my drinks.

Lesson number eight: Share what you can.

I sent some seeds to Azenith so she can grow her own herbs and veggies.

She planted them and was happy to see her seeds sprouting.


I also gave some seeds to Mitzi, too. She is way more successful in growing the vegetables compared to me. I also gave cuttings of my aunts “purple heart” plant to Jeanne.

Mitzi also gave me some of her harvested lettuce before.

I hope someday every family has their own vegetable garden and we just exchange our produce. My friend, Grace, in Japan gets veggies from her neighbors. When we were there, there was a box of eggplant in the entryway. She gets different veggies depending on what her neighbors are growing for the season.


Lesson number eight: You win some. You lose some.

Sometimes you lose them from the mentally challenged.


The day after I proudly showed my plants to friends, I found my very lush lettuce gone. Only the container remained. Thankfully, I have another lettuce plant growing and it remained untouched so I made a salad out of it before anyone tried to steal them.

After posting about it on Facebook, one neighbor informed me she found the plant on the ground near the barangay hall. My aunt’s lilies were also in the mix and she did not even notice them gone.


I surmised somebody with mental illness made the plants into a bouquet and played with them and when that person got tired, the plants were just thrown on the ground. My neighbor told me she brought the plants home. I hope that those will revive in her care.


We then hanged the containers higher that I have to stand on a chair if I need to water them. Ha!


I also lost a lot of plants to pests, inexperience and for reasons I still have to figure out. These mustard, basil and arugula succumbed to pests and lack of sunlight.


I realized my plants survive better when they are hanged.

Lesson number nine: Appreciate the plants that survive.

This is my current surviving garden. I have at least 33 containers hanging with basil, spearmint, chocolate mint, stevia, pechay, kale, lettuce, kangkong, tomatoes, bell pepper.

I have 3 vines of ampalaya left. The one vine hanging for dear life is now dead.  I don’t know why that one plant died and the rest are thriving.

I replanted 4 seeds of cucumber after 2 vines died.

I have lemon, lime and calamansi seedlings I bought from a cousin.

My blue ternate started to flower and it started to crawl in my aunt’s window grills.

My tomatoes started to bear fruits. So far, there are 4 fruits. I hope we get to harvest soon. Fingers crossed.

I celebrate these wins.

Lesson number ten: We all need a good laugh.

So I have been germinating these onions.

For some reason, one onion seemed to grow faster than others. When it was already big (after more than a month!), I transferred it to the hanging container. After a looking at it and observing it regularly throughout the day, I had an epiphany. Is this really onion? I messaged Grace asking her how to tell if I am planting an onion. She told me to smell the leaves.

These little plants in that container smelled like onion. Such thin and tiny leaves emitted the onion smell.

This large and lush onion plant smelled like grass.

WAAAAAAHHH! I planted weed!!!!! I am turning into a crazy plant lady who planted weed- the legal yet annoying kind.

The universe is trying to humor me.  I had a good laugh.

So far I am enjoying the gardening process. I was never into plants before. Now my aunt who spends a lot of her time in the garden has an ally.

My friend commented that her family knows me as Katrina laagan (wanderer or wanderlust). I traveled a lot before. I replied, “Not anymore! Meet Katrina hardinera!”

What is your gardening story?



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...