I didn't mean to be gone for this long. I wanted to write every day of November. But after the elections, it got hard. It is still hard, knowing what we are up against in the coming months (years), but strangely, life goes on. It must. It's December now and chilly. I've turned on the heat in the apartment. I've changed our sheets. The light in the afternoon is intense and short-lived. It gets dark by 5pm. I light candles. I want to light fires. We had a small Thanksgiving dinner at home with the Mendozas. It was just the way I wanted it to be.

thanksgiving table joms & kat imo, asha, bubs bubs, yumi, isaiah joms & kat asha nacho & isaiah millie eyeing the rosemary



"There are, it seems, two Muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say, 'It is yet more difficult than you thought.' This is the muse of form. It may be, then, that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work and that when we no longer know which way to go we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings."
- Wendell Berry, from the essay "Poetry and Marriage: The Use of Old Forms," 1982. (via Samin Nosrat)


election day

The other day, I heard Anthony Bourdain being interviewed on public radio and he said something that struck me: "Food is political." It is true. And not just in terms of how we grow it, or buy it, or cook it, or eat it, but also in how we talk about it and how we share it on social media. For instance, posting pictures of food on Instagram might seem like the most apolitical thing, but it isn't. It is political; it is ideological. In the act of posting, say, all these photos of food you've eaten at trendy restaurants, you are expressing and perpetuating a particular worldview. Which brings me to the matter of this blog, and how I make a conscious effort to compartmentalize my life and write as though I am living in a bubble. I chose to call this blog "immanence" because it pertains to domestic life, that is, a state of being inside, of "existing, operating or remaining within." But because I borrowed the term from Simone de Beauvoir, I knew from the very beginning that I wanted this space to be rooted in a kind of political awareness, even as I was talking about my personal life. I admit though that I get lost in all my talk of family vacations and recipes and interior decorating. Not that those things don't matter, because they do -- the way simple pleasures matter and are sometimes the only things worth holding on to in this crazy, crazy world -- but sometimes I wonder if I should be talking more explicitly about the larger issues that are distressing to me, that I feel very strongly about. Like the very specific ways in which the news and Facebook and Instagram as of late fatigue and dishearten me, like how I've had to overcome some serious cognitive dissonance so that I could, in good conscience, give my vote to Hillary, like how the existence of Trump-supporting Filipino immigrants boggles the mind (and embarrasses the face), like how sometimes self-loathing masquerades itself as righteousness when you're a person of color and so you vote against your own best interests, et cetera!! I wish I could find the language and the endurance with which to write about these things. Maybe tomorrow. If there is one. art by Lydia Leith


home improvement project #3

One of the things I love about our apartment is the patios. We have two! One accessible from the living and dining rooms, and another connected to the bedrooms. So even though we don't have our own yard, I am grateful to have our own outdoor spaces. Our patios have evolved throughout these past months, as I've tried to find the best arrangement that suits the way we use them. I think that after a year and a half of living here, I've pretty much figured it out.

long table

The latest update to the front patio is this awesome wooden planter that Imo built out of repurposed wood (from old Ikea furniture that we've disassembled and no longer use, such as Yumi's toddler bed). I planted a bunch of succulents in it.

wooden planter made by imo, filled with succulents transplanted succulents

I have another reclaimed-wood planter on the other side of the patio which I planted with new flowers. I transplanted the succulents that used to live there into pots. I also continue to grow some herbs that I use most for cooking: thyme, rosemary, oregano. (I used to have basil and tarragon, but sadly couldn't keep them healthy. I am learning to pick my battles in the garden. It isn't easy, but for my emotional well-being, I find that sometimes I simply have to let go, and if I am brave, start over.)

flowers & herbsrepotted succulents front patio

As for the back patio, I added a pair of wicker chairs that I found on sale at Home Depot, and an ornamental grass in a container.

bedroom patio

Just last night, I moved the fire bowl to this spot too. I think it looks very cozy.

bedroom patio + fire bowlbedroom patio at night


lazy sunday

We haven't had one of these in what feels like such a long time. It was nice for once to not have to leave the house! No soccer games, no gymnastics meets, no errands! And the bonus was that we had an extra hour of sleep last night because Daylight Saving ended. Last night too, our new neighbors, a family from Argentina, came over for dinner -- Yesi, who had grown up in Peru before moving to Argentina, made delicious papa a la huancaĆ­na and lomo saltado -- and drinks and a movie (the grownups, plus Nacho and his girlfriend, watched El Orfanato -- so good). We had a great time! It was the perfect evening for a little party, because today we could sleep in and lounge around the whole day. The only slightly stressful thing that Imo and I had to do today was fill out our vote-by-mail ballots.

lit a fire in the patio (I lit a fire in the patio. Perfect end to the day.)


home improvement project #2

I switched things around in the living room. I moved the couch so that it now faces the patio (instead of the TV) and it sort of spiraled from there. Imo and I had been meaning to replace the ladder shelves with a piece of furniture that will hold all of his records and the record player, as well as the TV and speakers, and since I had moved the couch and disrupted the whole flow of the living room, we (I) figured we might as well get around to that too. Plus a sofa table to go behind the couch (the back of which was now exposed and the first thing you see when you enter the apartment). It was more work than we (I) had imagined because the new media shelves needed to be modified to fit the records and the sofa tables needed to be repainted. Anyhow, two trips to the hardware store (for a jigsaw, a wood planer, sheets of sandpaper, and two cans of black satin spray paint) and a few days of work later, we were done. And we were pleased.

rearranged living room mini potted pork & beans succulent hoop chair living room, lamps new entryway rugsofa table & new rug

At night:

new media center, at night new lamp + succulent


home improvement project #1

I was also busy over the summer (driving Imo crazy) with my "home improvement" projects. The first one was a simple reorganization of the kids' bedroom. This was really for practical purposes. I moved Nacho's clothes out of the main closet (so that the girls could take over it, which means I reorganized it too) and got him his own wardrobe. I got rid of one bookshelf, some toys and books (and clothes), and consolidated what remained of the books into just one bookshelf (well, two narrow side-by-side BILLY bookshelves).

i finally got around to (re)organizing the kids' room

(I don't have a "before" photo, but perhaps this will give an idea of what this side of the room used to look like.)

With my kids growing up (even more than they already have), I've had to think of ways to adapt their small, shared space to their needs. I hope my solutions have been working. Well, it seems like they are. So far.

quiet wednesday night


halloween 2016

We managed to do well this year! Perhaps even better than last year, given our crazy schedules and therefore procrastination. I was able to make/assemble costumes for the kids and organize a little party with my siblings and some friends. I like that we went out to trick or treat early, before it got dark, and that it felt like a proper, chilly fall evening. After trick-or-treating, we had a potluck dinner in the courtyard and an outdoor movie for the kids. We had a lot of fun, considering it was a Monday! (The party did end promptly at 10 for the kids, and 10:30 for the rest of the grownups. We packed up and cleared everything quickly. It was like nothing happened! Haha.)

Here are the cousins with our neighbor Agustina:

the kids in costumes

(Just in case anyone was wondering, Asha is Aggie from Paranorman; Nacho is Tyler Joseph in this music video; Yumi is The Girl With the Green Ribbon.)

A band of trick-or-treaters in the courtyard:

gathering in the courtyard

Trick-or-treating around the neighborhood:

trick-or-treating on beech streetbubs & lucia

Our Halloween party:

scooping up some witches' brew some of the food! joms & katsteve the monkey & flint lockwood agus, yesi, pablothe theme is black steve being a ham witches

Asha was telling me and Imo that one of the last houses they trick-or-treated at had "Make America Great Again" posters all over it. "Maybe it's just Halloween decoration," Asha said. In any case, we agreed, it was horrifying.


millie the cat

I jinxed myself yesterday when I happily pointed out to Imo, "Millie hasn't had a poopy accident in weeks!" because this morning, after I'd had only four hours of sleep, I was startled awake by Imo who caught Millie scooting her poopy butt on our bed (due to a poop biscuit that got stuck there). Needless to say, Imo and I scrambled to give that naughty cat an emergency bath (it was not painless, for all parties involved) and to do emergency laundry/cleanup/disinfecting. All before 7:30 a.m. This, plus mangled houseplants and unwelcome playtime at midnight (where our feet under the blanket are "prey") and a vomiting spell and a two-week spay surgery recovery period and a disappearance scare (where I nearly lost my mind until I heard a tiny meow from inside the linen closet, which I had already checked) and an additional $50 in monthly rent (seriously), pretty much sums up our new kitty-parenthood. But let me tell you that it is all worth it, because FLUFFY SNUGGLES and HILARIOUSNESS.

millie closeup

We are so happy that she is part of our family.


catching up (an attempt)

Good grief, three months have flown by! And now it's November, the holiday downward spiral has begun, and I feel that I have to make up for the time I've been absent from this space, before my not-blogging gets out of control. I took a ton of photos over the summer, but now I'm not sure I should even post them because so long ago. But what the heck, here I go!

We spent a week in Florida, where Asha competed in the USAIGC World Championships. She bagged a silver in vault!

silver medalist for vault!

And since we had never been to Florida, we decided to stay there for a week to explore what we could in/around Orlando (Disney Springs, the Harry Potter amusement parks, East End Market in downtown Orlando, the scenic boat tour in Winter Park) + Caladesi Island.

sunset and hot air balloon entering diagon alleyeating their ice cream winter park train station yumi, boat tour

Asha turned 11!

happy birthday, asha!

We went to the beach and Isaiah loved it!

bubs & yumi seaweed!

We spent a weekend in Big Bear with the whole clan. We played pool, and drank, and soaked in the hot tub, and drank some more, haha! We took the kids kayaking and we got rained on! But the highlight of that trip, to me, was the game of Sardines that all the cousins played one night, with all the lights out, in the labyrinthine cabin we were all staying in. It was awesome.

asha & yumi afternoon view of trees & lake kampai!

Here are the kids meeting Pan (among other monsters) at the Guillermo del Toro exhibition at LACMA. They have yet to see the movie. (Actually, they won't be seeing it anytime soon. Haha.)

pan from pan's labyrinth

On Labor Day weekend, the five of us drove to San Francisco for Nacho's team's soccer tournament. Nacho played and we watched his games that whole weekend, but we also got to stay and hang out with Baloo and Irving, and see some parts of the city we/our kids hadn't been to before.

brunch at marla's imo & irv after checking out the poetry room"in chinatown, howling at night..." pogi

Anyway, there's more to show and tell. Another post tomorrow.