Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Avocado - Vegetable or Fruit?

Growing up in the warm, balmy surroundings under the almost always blistering Philippine sun, it never occurred to me to ask this question. Avocado is a fruit, no doubt about it. And so I grew up seeing it eaten as a fruit – a dessert, a sweet snack, a sweet, cool drink. It was, still is, a favorite ice cream Flavor of the Month by the 2 competing largest ice cream factories in the Philippines.

Here is how I usually ate my avocado, the way I saw my mother eat it too. After I carefully cut the avocado in half, all around, lengthwise, and scooped out the pit in the center, I would take one of the halves of the avocado, pour milk, preferably evaporated milk, in the hollow in the center left by the pit, take a generous spoonful of sugar and sprinkle all over the top, and just eat with a spoon right from the skin. If I wanted it cold, I would scoop out the flesh randomly into a bowl, add the milk and sugar, and some crushed ice cubes, and enjoy!

When my children were growing up, we planted two avocado seedlings I bought from a nursery. I was told it was the evergreen variety. The fruit was bigger and remained green, even when ripe. The seedlings grew into sturdy trees. Soon the branches were heavy with the beautiful green fruits, about 5” long, and maybe 31/2” at its widest point at the bottom, tapering to the point where it connected to the branch. The skin was green and smooth.

Harvest time meant milk shakes and ice cream we made from this fruit. The flesh of this avocado was soft and creamy, and not fibrous at all. For my little girls, of course I would make milkshake in the blender, using the same ingredients, adding more milk and sugar for a creamier, sweeter taste. And if I had some in the freezer, a couple large scoops of vanilla ice cream. Or I would pour the mixture into an ice cube tray and pop it in the freezer. The girls always loved this! They would be opening the freezer and sticking their little finger into the tray, every few minutes, to check if it was ready.

When they grew older, they would make the same recipe, minus the ice cubes, and pour just enough of the mixture into long, small, narrow plastic bags and tie the open ends securely. They put these in the freezer. This was locally called “ice candy.”

Fast forward now to my grandma years, in this other part of the world where my girls are now raising my grandchildren. Here are some reactions from our talks about how we ate avocado in the Philippines,
“That's gross!”
“You don't eat avocado that way!”
“That's a weird way to eat avocados.”
In fairness to my grandchildren, and to be honest, that's exactly how I felt, the first time I saw my son-in-law, eating avocado from the skin, but putting, to my horror, instead of my milk and sugar, a little olive oil and vinaigrette, and salt and pepper, in the hollow in the center! I think I blurted out.
“How can you eat avocado that way?!”

Well, to tell you the truth, I am now a convert – to guacamole, avocado dips, sandwiches and salads and soups, even sushi, with avocado, and the list goes on...It doesn't mean I have given up on avocado milk shakes and ice cream! It simply means, I have opened my eyes and arms to the infinite possibilities of this amazingly versatile food! Sweet, savory, spicy, cold, hot – the avocado can mix it up, and tame, satiate, calm, and satisfy the strongest craving of your palate. There's a whole world out there!

Milkshake or guacamole, anyone?

Avocado Milkshake

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 2 to 3 Servings

  • 4 avocados
  • 1 (14 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 cups ice cubes
  1. With a knife, halve avocados and remove pit. Using a spoon, scoop flesh and cut into cubes.
  2. In a blender, combine avocados, milk, sugar, lemon juice and ice. Process until smooth and blended.

Photo and Recipe from Kawaling Pinoy

Friday, March 7, 2014

Loving My Self

“Mehmeh, are you pretty?”
The question came from my 10 year old granddaughter, Gianina. That caught me by surprise, as we were preparing the table for dinner. I was even more surprised that I couldn't answer it.
I, instead, answered with a question, “What?'
“Are you pretty?” Gianina asked again.
The question is pretty straightforward. It could be answered with a yes, or a no. But I couldn't answer it. Not so much because it came out of the blue, but because I found it complicated.
All I could manage was a lame, “I don't think so.”
The simple question brought back all those growing pains of searching and trying so hard to believe in myself. Am I pretty? Am I worthy? Am I good enough?
The answers to these questions feed off from others' perceptions. It begins in the cradle. Relatives come to visit the new addition to the family. They gather around the crib, look at the baby, a lot of oohs and aahs all around. Then comments can range from,
“Oh, look at the nose,” “what a pretty baby – so fair, mestisa .” Immediately, there is the standard by which this little girl will be judged, by others, and then, by herself. It starts with how you look, currently mainly dictated by fashion and media. One could say, however, culture and history also plays a part. In this case, it goes far back to 300 years of Spanish colonization. Hence the term, mestisa.
Where I grew up, pretty is fair skin, long, sleek, straight hair, aquiline nose, tiny waist, belly flat as a board. I could check only the last two, mainly because I was too skinny. I was the dusky one, with curly hair. And because I was what is called, morena, I was discouraged from wearing bright colors.
“Stick to pastels,” I was always told. Red, orange, fuchsia, electric blue, emerald green do not go with my dark complexion. Gushing over these colors from afar, I settled into the safety of light yellows, olive, very light pinks and blues.
My hair was always cropped, to tame the curls into place. How I envied the girls with long hair. I would imagine having braids, and would flick my head to one side pretending to take away my braid from my face. I had to get used to the joke, “mahangin ba sa labas?” (Is it windy outside?) every time I entered a room with my tousled, curly hair. To this day, I still have the nickname, “Colot” (Curly), thankfully now affectionately shortened to Lot.
It wasn't until I entered college, that I gained some confidence to make some changes and decisions about how I want to look. I grew my hair long. I was so happy to discover that the curls dropped to the tips! I learned to wear my hair, parted in the middle, and sleeked down and tied into a low pony tail, or twisted with a ribbon threaded through it. Fortunately those were en trend in the 60s.
Meanwhile, the race to look like that perfect, beautiful woman goes on. The TV ads are flooded with products and services to stretch and straighten the hair, powders and creams to whiten the skin, teas to melt away the fats, sauna belts to sweat away the inches from the belly and the waist.
Store shelves were, and still are, crammed with Lyna and other brands of pearl cream guaranteed to whiten your skin like a Kabuki face. There was even White Princess, the powder you mix into a paste, spread all over your body, and leave it on for something like 3 or more hours, until it dries, rinse it off, and voila (!) - fair complexion! It doesn't end there. Now there is Glutathion! It is a capsule you take, and it turns your complexion from dusky to fair!
And when all else fails, there is always now, photoshop, so you can lull yourself into believing, as you gaze into your image, “Yes, you are beautiful.”
Thank goodness, school, and the business of growing up, although fraught with fears and yes, pains, had kept me too busy to worry about my complexion and my hair and my shape. Surprisingly, I began to discover vast spaces and places where true beauty lies, not only outside of me but even within me. When I look at the face, I do not see the complexion, I see the eyes, where the smile begins. When I look at a person, I do not see the hair, or the shape, I see the heart from where love flows. When I hear someone speak, I do not see the lips from where the sound is coming, I listen, to the voice from which bits of wisdom and feelings fall. I found that as this capacity to discern and see beyond what just meets the eye, developed, albeit slowly, so did my self-confidence, my self-esteem, my self-worth. It feels wonderful to be able to say to myself – Yes, I am worthy. I am good enough.
I can even look at my image in the mirror today, and I see wrinkles and call them laugh lines. I see grey hair and I say silver. Maybe I can even say to Gianina,
“Yes, I am pretty.”
                                                                                Women's Month
                                                                                March 8, 2014
                                                                                Round Rock, Texas

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Blessings Jar

Hours before the countdown to the NewYear, my three girls
and I were hurriedly checking our list – thirteen round fruits, check! Bubbly, check! Ham, check! Who is bringing the fish? Grapes? Check! And fireworks? Check! Looking good.
The table, laden with goodies that made it to the list, not only
because of taste, but more important, because of the good luck it's supposed to bring into the New Year, was ready and looking good. Bring it on, 2013!
Preparedness is key. And it's all about lists – menu list, gift
list, fireworks list, and of course, the New Year's Resolutions list. The latter though, did not make it to our list this year.
I noticed, as the years went by, that my New Year's resolutions kept getting shorter and shorter. This is not to mean that I continued to achieve my resolutions of the year before. Rather, it only means that my list of achievable goals realistically got less and less. Or put simply, I just did not have the motivation to keep on making a list which kept getting broken year after year. This did not do a lot for my self-esteem either.
       It just occurred to me, that making a New Year's resolutions
list is counting what you don't have. I decided I would rather count what I have. It's all about having a more positive attitude to goal setting.
       So this New Year, I added something new to our tradition. On our Media Noche table, mixed in with the arrangement of 13 fruits, there were 3 jars, simple glass jars, festooned with holiday ribbons, one for each of my daughters' family. I labeled each “Family Blessing Jar.” Inside, to make it simple, I put the instructions on what to do with it.

          Here is a sample of the note I placed inside each jar:
                   FAMILY BLESSINGS JAR

Please feel free to embellish this jar any way you want to make it truly YOUR FAMILY's very own.

How To:
  1. Every time you receive a blessing or a wish or a prayer comes true – write it down, put the date, and drop it in the jar! It doesn't even have to be a note – it can be anything: a note, a symbol, or something that will make you remember.
  2. At the end of the year, the next New Year, you get everything out – and your family COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS! And then, if you feel like it, say a prayer of THANKS.
  3. And start the New Year again with the EMPTY JAR, and a prayer for more blessings to fill the jar, and your lives, for the whole year!



       My oldest grandson, Xavi, asked me to explain. He is a linebacker in his Football team. So I asked him, “What is your greatest wish when you go into a game?” And he answered, “To win!” So I told him, and when you do, that is a blessing. And you can mark each and every win, put a date on it, and drop these in the jar. Blessings are not labeled big or small. They are not judged important or not. Because they are personal and subjective, each one is big; each one is important. They are obstacles overcome, finish lines crossed, stars reached, and dreams coming true.
       I was happy to see my family on board with the idea. Who wants to make a list of resolutions, which at the end of the year, you have to pull out and see how many, if any, you even started. Will that make for a happy new year?
       Wouldn't you rather, open that jar, and see the blessings spilling out and filling you with joy and gratitude?
    So at the end of 2013, as the family once again gather to welcome the coming New Year, we will open our jars, and count our blessings, and offer a prayer of thanksgiving, and start the new year with our empty jars!

                                                                     Sylvia Hubilla
                                                                     New Year  2013

Post Script
New Year 2014

       Gathering again for our Media Noche, at midnight of December 31, 2013, our families brought our Blessings Jars to the table. I was happy to see that they were all filled with pieces of folded paper inside.
       “I dropped a lot of thank you notes inside our jar, Mehmeh,” my 10 year old granddaughter, Gianina, whispered to me. I was overjoyed to learn that even the children were counting their blessings too throughout the year.
       We decided though, that what we wrote and dropped in the jar, might be private, so we just included our thanksgiving for blessings we have received throughout the year in our prayers asking to bless the bountiful feast laid out on the table.

       It was one happy, noisy gaggle of children and slightly buzzed adults, wearing polka dots in some form or another, gulping down 13 grapes each, toasting the bubbly, and sparkling apple cider for the kids, and loudly counting down the seconds while watching the ball drop in New York City on the TV, ending in one collective crescendo of “Happy New Year!” After some sparklers and safe kinds of fireworks, the cold outside, started to move this party indoors, and to the serious business of eating.
       The children didn't want the evening to end, but some of the adults had to work the next day, so goodbyes had to be said, and just one more hug and greeting. We promised each other, we would open our blessings jar when we got home, and pray and say “Thanks” for the blessings received.
       Before I went to sleep that night, I sat on my bed, opened my Blessings Jar, and watched the folded pieces of paper spilling out. The feeling of joy that came over me was undeniable. And as I read each date, each blessing written on each paper, the feeling of gratitude was overwhelming, so real! The date was a time line of what was happening in my life on that date, and the blessing I needed and prayed for. I could not but say a fervent prayer of heartfelt gratitude for each and every blessing in that jar. It truly is a great thing to do, this Blessing Jar. For how easy it is to forget and take for granted the good things that happen in our lives.
       It was a joy to receive messages from my daughters before falling asleep that cold New Year dawn, to say they felt exactly the same way I did.
                 Here is my Facebook post that 1st day of 2014:

       Opened my Blessings Jar last night! Literally counting and reading my 2013 Blessings - overwhelming warm feeling of gratitude washes over me. Thank you dear God, for prayers answered, wishes granted, and sprinkles of little miracles along the way! My jar is empty now, waiting to be filled with 2014 Blessings...

                                                                   Sylvia Hubilla
                                                                                New Year 2014

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Perks of Being a Grandma

     “Memeh, what do you want to drink?”
      “Hmm, I don't know.”
   “Well, you have to eat healthy, so here, have some low fat milk,” quickly grabbing a small carton of milk from the counter, and putting it on the tray.
       “Oh, and you will want peas, right?” proceeding to put the little bowl of peas on the tray. “And the baked potato with broccoli and cheese.”  Down the line, the little hand picked up an orange, saying,” You don't want the mixed fruit in syrup. You do not need syrup.”
       This was the exchange between me and my five year old kindergarten granddaughter, Ari, while going down the cafeteria line for lunch on grandparents
           Ari's healthy choices for grandma

       One would think I was speaking with my fitness and diet coach. But I'm in good hands, obviously, with my youngest granddaughter.
                selfie time before healthy lunch

She can even be my very own fashion consultant. She was with me and one of my daughters on one of my shopping trips, mainly to look for a black purse. I almost always just go for the neutral colors like black, or beige, or gray, so it is easy to coordinate with any color clothes.
       “No, no, no, Memeh (this is how all my grand kids call me). You are always wearing black, or black and white. Look, you are wearing black right now,” she said as she pulled me towards the colorful purses.
       “Here, how about this?” she said, as she took a bright yellow cross body bag from the rack.  “You should have some color in your life!” she lectured me some more.
       A lady looking at us, who looked like a fellow grandma, couldn't help laughing, and said, “My, they start young nowadays, don't they?”
       I ended up buying the yellow bag, and she relented and agreed on a dark blue one in lieu of the black.

       I never knew how it felt to have a grandma, growing up.  Both my maternal and paternal grandmothers had passed away before I was born.  So I had no idea what to expect or how it would feel to be a grandmother.  I had no standard to follow, to gauge my performance as a grandmother against, except to remember how my mother was with my children.

       I first joined this elite club thirteen years ago, and received the highly coveted title of “Grandma.” I had to travel all the way to the Netherlands just to see this precious prince, and claim the perks and rewards of hugs and kisses. And for each and every one of the 5 grandchildren who followed, in California, and Arizona - I made sure I was there.

       When I had my first child, people told me, bayad ka na or 'You have paid back.' I have often heard this said before – that you can't pay back your mother
for having brought you into this world, until you have given birth to a child of your own.  What a horrible thing to say! This statement is the exact opposite and definitely does not come close to the joy and elation that comes with becoming a grandparent.  One does not think of a payback, or worse, revenge. My mother never told me that. I never told my daughters that. I don't know how this notion ever came about.
       All I know is how I feel. Being a grandma is a gift. It is a joy and a privilege to be part of these young lives. And I intend to enjoy them and celebrate their triumphs, big and small. I intend to claim my hugs and kisses before they get too tall for my arms to enclose them, or they get to be teenagers, and therefore I would get my hugs only after their mom barks at them, “Give your grandma a hug!”

       Oh by the way, there is another rumor going around, that grandparents love their grandchildren more than their own children. In all honesty, I have to say, there is some tiny truth to this. Maybe because we are here to just enjoy them, and have the luxury of returning them to their parents when they become difficult. After all, I just want to be a popular grandma to my grand children. Their moms and dads can discipline them.

       I have gone from being a daughter, to a wife, to a mother, and now, to a grandmother. All of the above have been great and wonderful. But I have to say, I have saved the BEST for last.


                                                                                      Grandparents' Day

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

New York, New York!


"These vagabond shoes
are longing to stray
right through the very heart of it,
New York, New York..."
                               Frank Sinatra
                                    "New York, New York

         I love New York! Always have, always my mind. It seems like I can never say no to New York. Every chance I get to visit this city that never sleeps, I jump at it. It's like a high for me, and I don't know why. Now that last sentence even sounds like a rap - "New York, New York, it's like a high, and I don't know why..." See what it does to me?!
       And so my next trip to New York.....
My daughter told me she was bringing her three children for a 5 day trip to experience the city and would I like to come. She saw some tickets on sale with Southwest Airlines. It was like an invitation to happy hour! A no-brainer. So what do you think my answer would be?
       I immediately booked my round trip ticket without even checking my account balance, on the same flight as my daughter's. I had been having some health issues for the past two weeks. But who cares? I threw caution to the winds, like some secret love affair was about to happen.
       "Mom, remember all the walking and subway stairs you have to navigate. Are you sure?" my other daughter cautioned me. "And, it's summer and New York can get really hot," she continued. None of that fazed me. This was two months before the trip, and each week my excitement grew. It was going to be mostly, a walking tour. The key words – travel light. So the five of us each armed ourselves with back packs, with only the barest minimum inside. I was the only one with a check-in luggage, where we put in some goodies and souvenirs from Texas for my brother in New Jersey who thankfully opened his home to us to be our base.
      Finally, the day came. We were all filled with excitement as we went through the process of boarding and choosing seats close to each other, not to mention window seats for my 3 grandkids. We got seated and buckled up, ready for take-off. We were all giving ourselves high fives.....until the pilot made an announcement.
       "Ladies and gentlemen, we are being asked to delay our flight by two hours, due to inclement weather in New York. We will have to ask you to disembark, and we will give back your boarding passes as you step out of the plane. We will make an announcement for boarding in two hours, and you will follow your same boarding number. Please bear with us. Thank you."
       Uh oh, is this a peek of what's to come for our New York trip? But no, I'd take the rain over the blistering sun anytime! This positive attitude was still alive and well, even after the reboarding and well into, finally, take off. But soon, the ride became too bumpy for comfort. Several times the announcement of turbulence ahead kept us buckled up for the rest of the 4 hour flight.
At last, the announcement, 
       "We have started our descent...82 degrees in Newark, New Jersey, with chances of rain." 
        We made it! Wow, 82 degrees. It felt so good to leave the triple digits of the Texas summer behind, even for just 5 days.
Soon we walked out of the terminal of the Liberty International Airport, into a warm, cloudy, and muggy afternoon. New York now was just a trainride away.
       It was so good to see my brother again. We saw each other just two years ago in the Philippines for our late mother's 100th birthday. But it has been 19 years since I last visited him in his home. My nephew is now a grown man!
       Looking over our crammed New York itinerary, my brother said he will bring us to Edison Station every morning, where we will board the train that will bring us to Penn Station in New York City. And we should go back to Penn station in the evening, and board our train again to go back to Edison where he will pick us up. We just need to give him a call when we reach Metuchen, the stop before Edison. Now we have a plan. This will be our daily routine. We did a dry run that night. We learned how to get the tickets from the machine. We were all set.  Woo hoo! New York, here we come!
       We were up bright and early. After a breakfast of bagels and lox, and armed with our back packs, my trusted umbrella and sunjacket, and my daughter with her NY app downloaded into her iphone, we headed out for Edison train station. My brother bade us goodbye and wished us luck. We waited for our 8:00AM train for New York Penn Station.
The enthusiasm of the teen, the almost teen, and the pre-teen, and their determined Mom was contagious. I flexed both my mental and physical muscles, especially the legs and feet, to prepare myself for what's ahead. Bring it on, New York!

    Pounding the pavements of New York City

Walking out of Penn Station and onto the busy sidewalks of New York City, brought back the memories of my first New York visit in the Autumn of 1994. It was love at first sight. I was young then.
My daughter whipped out her NY app, and said, "Alright, let's do everything within walking distance first." That sure brought me back to the present. The words "within walking distance" is relative, to age, I mean. And that means keeping pace with 2 marathoners, 1 football linebacker, and the budding 10 year old football linebacker. What exactly is walking distance? The question in my head was soon answered. "Let's go to Times Square. It's just about a mile and a half from where we are now. You think you'll be okay with that, Mom? We'll play it by ear. When you get too tired, we'll stop and rest."
That definitely sounds good. We stopped in the first convenience store we passed and got a bottle of water each. Then before anyone became "hangry" (our word for feeling angry when hungry) we stopped at the first hotdog stand we saw. New York dogs all around. This is so New York!
Soon, Times Square – the huge neons, TV screens, the ticket line for the Broadway Shows. I'm falling in love all over again!
From here, we decided to board a bus tour. It was called, a "hop on- hop off" tour. It means, we could go down any part we pass and want to explore, and then later, get back on another bus, to finish the tour.
We were having fun taking a lot of photos as the bus wound its way around the famous New York landmarks, and listening to the information from the tour guide. Then the sun hid behind clouds, and I started to feel a few drops. Soon the tour guide was starting to distribute plastic ponchos for the rain. We gamely put them on, and the tour continued as the rain poured.

          bus tour under the pouring rain

We decided to hop off at Chinatown. By this time the sun was blazing. We literally were left out to dry. We decided to have lunch at one of the Chinese restaurants there, along Canal street. We had some dimsum, and duck.
After lunch, more walking, exploring the shops, playing the haggling game, pretending to walk away, and coming back, when you finally get the price you want. We passed by a couple of young guys I thought were rapping, and when I got nearer, they were actually reciting a litany of brand names like Loise Vuitton, Hermes, Rolex, etc., etc. They were actually catching the attention of those wanting to buy knock-off brand items.
We spied Little Italy from the sidewalks of Chinatown. We decided we will have dinner there. But first we had to catch the tour bus and hop on back to finish the rest of our city tour. So we decided to put off Little Italy for tomorrow. While enjoying the last half of our bus tour, we were treated to a heart stopping experience of siren sounds and a mass of firetrucks and police cars crowding the streets of Manhattan, and people pouring out of their buildings. My heart was literally pounding as I imagined the worst scenario happening around us as our bus was caught in the middle of all these. Our guide was shouting, "Everybody stay seated please!" We were eventually directed to other streets and had to be satisfied with just catching glimpses of other landmarks.
We never really found out the reason for all that – a bomb threat, a terrorist threat? But I was glad to see the quick response of the City's Finest. It made me feel safe.
That evening, I met with my best friend from elementary days. We haven't seen each other in years! I really appreciated her coming to see me, braving the downpour which came again with a vengeance in the evening. The meeting was perfectly memorable – until we made a choice to have dinner in a restaurant on 42nd Street. We would have prefered Little Italy, but the weather just did not cooperate.
The meal would have been okay, inspite of the rude server. Maybe it was just unfamiliarity with their culture, I thought. But when it was time to pay the bill, the series of events that followed, really confirmed my first impression. First, they just informed us at this point that their machine broke down, which I highly doubt, and so would accept only cash. Then he took away the receipt. Then the waiter came back demanding in a rude tone that my friend pay 18% of the bill for tip, and in the absence of the receipt, how could one compute 18% of what? So he had to produce the receipt. Then my friend had to go to the cashier to demand her change, which the waiter never brought to our table.
       I felt so bad for my friend. How dare those people mar our perfect little reunion! We walked her to the subway. Thank goodness the rain has let up. We all gave her a hug and thanked her for dinner. It was sad to say goodbye. It will probably be years before I see my BFF again.
       We were tired. We were damp. My hair was getting frizzy again from the humidity in the air. I hated walking through the city's grime after the rain on the sidewalks of 42nd. I hate those rude staff in the restaurant! I hate New York!
       My body felt like my first day in the gym after a long absence. We were ready to call it a day. I wonder how many miles total I walked from 8:00 AM to past midnight. I felt like I've been through the wringer – and it was only Day 1 of our trip. In my head, I told myself, New York is only for the young. I will never come back.
But after a warm shower, a good night's sleep, I was gung-ho for Day 2!
       It's true – this city never sleeps. It was still buzzing when we were walking back to Penn station. The last train that leaves for Edison from Penn is at 1:00 AM. So we maximized our days, cramming as much of New York as we can until almost midnight, everyday. For four straight days.
I never felt so proud of and amazed at myself! And I never felt so tired and pummeled to a pulp. Up to now, I can't believe I climbed 192 steps from the ground up to the base of the Statue of Liberty. Without my health coach, (read my daughter) I know I would have backed off from the challenge.

       Navigating the subway stairs left me huffing and puffing like the big, bad wolf. My friend told me she almost never travels by subway anymore, preferring the bus, to save her knees from, literally, the wear and tear. But then I had a cheering squad. So my aging feet and knees plodded on.
       I actually enjoyed the subway. Where else will you see, in the midst of the rush hour, a young man whip out his violin, and make the most beautiful, soothing music to quiet the soul, inside a packed train.
       And it was in the subway, oddly enough, where I fell in love with New York all over again. On two separate occasions, strangers came to my rescue, like guardian angels in disguise.
We were told by a friend, that it's easier to just have one ticket for everyone, and just pass it on as we go through the turnstiles, and we did exactly this. We filed through, five of us, one at a time, me, being the last. When my turn came, the turnstile wouldn't turn! We tried swiping the ticket several more times - nothing. We just loaded the card with $30.00; it can't be empty. I looked around, perplexed, and very worried. We will miss our train!
       I must have looked so lost and helpless, for suddenly, I saw a knight in shining armor coming towards me. On his armor was emblazoned NYPD.
       "Is there a problem, Ma'am?"
This damsel in distress could not be more relieved and happy. It turns out, the card can be swiped only 4 consecutive times, and not more at one time.
So this kind, good-looking policeman, swiped his own card to let me go through and join my family waiting on the other side. Truly, New York's finest.
       Next, we went down to a station planning to buy my card there, only to find out there was no ticket machine. We were tired from walking. We were looking at the map, trying to decide what to do next. A man walked up to us, and just asked, "Need help?" Turns out he was a Metro Transport staff, obviously on his way out, maybe on his break, but still went out of his way to help us. He used his key to let me in. I couldn't thank him enough.
I Love New York City!
       On the fifth day, I rested. I was done. My body told me so. No amount of cajoling from the grandkids can make me get up and go again. That's it for me.....until next time. The song is still playing in my head,

                    "I want to be a part of it,
         New York, New York..."
                                 photos by:
                                       Sylvia Hubilla 
                                       New York 7/5/2013

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Digital Disconnect

across each other in a coffee shop, sitting,
heads bowed, eyes transfixed
fingers on devices, tapping.

steam from the cappuccino rising
the creamy foam so inviting.

talk at each other,
or not talk at all,
lol and omg
it doesn't matter after all.

The steam has turned into mist.
The foam has gone flat to the taste.

relationships so quickly built, <3
and just as quickly broken :-(
in the tweet of a second
in acronym and emoticon.

Words unsaid, hands unheld. feelings on hold,
The coffee has gone cold.

                             Sylvia Hubilla
                                     Round Rock. Texas

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New York in haiku:Reflection

Mirror in the sky,
a Hologram of Valor
pay homage, Courage.

photo and haiku by Sylvia Hubilla
9-11 memorial

New York City 7/4/2013