At Home: Fall Stories and Crafts

Nov. 2015

Halloween is just around the corner and fall is here in the Inland Empire. It almost rained and almost stayed cold last week, but now it’s back in the 80s. Nevertheless, I’m enjoying the warm but “cooler” weather and sometimes I even play Christmas music in my room.

Truth be told: When I used to teach, I used to take Veteran’s Day off and take the longer weekend to visit New York. The first time I visited during Veteran’s day weekend, I went to look at some wedding dresses (2010). I remember walking through Greenwich Village to a small wedding dress boutique and seeing The Sartorialist and Garance Doré sitting at a cafe across where I was walking, and they were both looking in my direction, and I imagined–had they been walking on the street, perhaps they’d taken a street photo of me. Haha! (Please excuse my vain memory/imagination/hallucination). Fall weather was so perfect, I took a mental note and visited during the same time thereafter. The photo from two posts prior was from this visit (in 2010).

It is a lovely time to be in the city. The leaves are golden and falling, and it is right before wind and rain invade the city and take down all the leaves so that on one bitter morning before you realize what has happened, all things fall and golden lay on the ground in grey mush. Never in my visits during the same weekend have I experienced inclement weather. Ideally, one should visit New York City during the first week of November. Not before Halloween though. Halloween in New York is crazy and unpredictable. You have to go after Halloween when people have shaken off their eerie party spirits and are feeling more light and festive. When the pandemic is over, keep in mind, dear readers, the best time to go to NYC to experience fall is right after Halloween (the first two weeks of November).

Random story: During my first year at NYU, I didn’t know about NYC’s crazy Halloween parades and festivities. On the night of Halloween that year (2006), I had finished my evening classes after a full day of classroom observations, and when I exited the building which was located around Washington Square, I found myself in the middle of a Halloween parade. Mind you, I never attended a Halloween party in my life, and there I was in the middle of the biggest one in the city, or so it seemed. The streets were closed and everyone, adults and children, were in elaborate costumes. I remember seeing Marie Antoinette (full wig, gown, makeup, etc.) and a mother hen (full-feathered) with three little chicks, etc. Those were the most memorable costumes that stuck with me, but when I say people went all out, I mean, The Walking Dead characters would feel normal in such a setting and I don’t think you could’ve gotten away with a costume from Target. I was in regular old clothes and so tired, I shoved myself across a flood of people though three blocks and remember wanting to get away from such mayhem. Oh, the memories.

To change the subject,

Here are some fall crafts to enjoy with family:

  • Leaf crafts also this: I especially like the card concept
  • Pumpkin seed craft: Similar to the above idea, but with dyed pumpkin seeds
  • Seed Pictures: Another similar to the idea above, but more versatile
  • Dried Flower Turkey Gourds: A chic take on decorating the table
  • Caramel Apple Recipes: Yum! I think E will enjoy the DIY Caramel Apple Bar. She prefers peanut butter over caramel, so we might have a peanut butter apple bar instead.
  • Apple Cider Caramels: Smitten Kitchen’s recipe and she claims it’s her favorite, in her own words, “These apple cider caramels are my love letter autumn in my city, my attempt, as I wrote in the book, to ‘pack everything I love about New York City in October — the carpet of fiery leaves on the ground from the trees I didn’t even know we had; the sky, impossibly blue; the air, drinkably crisp; the temperature finally delicious enough that it implores you to spend hours wandering around, sipping warm spiced apple cider from the Greenmarkets — into one tiny square.'” Perfect for gifting later in the year. I never saw the appeal of caramels until a coworker brought homemade caramels to share at work and people were inhaling them. I tried one and couldn’t believe how soft they were! Not sticky on my teeth as I had imagined. Hopefully Smitten Kitchen’s turns out similar.
  • Try a stuffed squash recipe. A savory option for fall cooking.
  • Family game night: Scattegories using fall themes: Fall movies, fall foods/dishes, fall harvest (seasonal fruits/veggies), etc.
  • or Pumpkin Games: some active options

Happy Fall!

Little Story #004: Me Duele

In 2001, I was admitted to the hospital every couple of weeks to receive treatment. Because I was seventeen and still considered a child, and because I received treatment at a county hospital, I shared a room with three other little ones and their parents. If you didn’t know, nights at a hospital are far from peaceful. There’s the constant beeping of machines, the nurses stabbing you awake with a needle to draw blood, poking to check sugar levels for some, toilets flushing due to the nonstop pumping of fluids, and doctors coming and going and talking to you or others around you as though it was day. If the sounds and poking didn’t keep you awake, the crying did.

I remember one night when I found myself asleep in the midst of all the noise, I woke up to a boy crying in the bed next to mine. “Me duele, me duele,…” It was dark and I didn’t know what was happening behind the curtain dividers. He continued crying me duele, me duele, and no one seemed to be able to console him. At seventeen, I was able to tolerate pain and discomfort, but it was different for the little ones. How could they know; how could they know how to endure such pain. His cries broke my heart. His words broke my heart, and I prayed,

Lord, please hear his cries. The boy is hurting. Please take away his pain...

Now when I lie awake at night thinking about prayers and tomorrow’s plans, sometimes I think of the little children in hospitals and hear echoes of me duele. I pray for the children. I pray the Lord will give the children in hospitals a peaceful, painless night. To comfort their little bodies, to wipe away their tears, to let them hear His voice.

To be in pain no more.

Little Story #003: Rainbow Road

Little Story #003: Rainbow Road

On March 6th, 2019, Elaine witnessed her first rainbow. We were driving down to San Marcos on a rainy day to celebrate my father-in-law’s 60th birthday. It had been raining all week, all winter, and rainbows were nothing new. But Elaine had been in school, at home, at church, indoors mostly because of the rain, and she never had the chance to see the magical colors paint the sky at the right moment in the right place, when the rain stops and sunlight seeps through the clouds causing light to refract and reflect to form a rainbow.

We pointed to the faint rainbow almost camouflaged by the colorful hills, and she yelled, “A rainbow! A real rainbow! I’ve never seen a real rainbow!” Then the rainbow disappeared because we were driving away, because light works in funny ways, and she was sad to learn that they didn’t last.

A few minutes later, we witnessed another rainbow along the road and I exclaimed, “Another one! Look!” and pointed to the left of our path. “God wanted to show Elaine another rainbow,” I thought, and surprisingly another rainbow appeared, and another, and another. I think we witnessed at least five on our drive down, and the very last one was painted over the poppy fields. Patches of orange against green hills, and a giant rainbow gracing itself across the green, down to our road, exactly on our path,

and we drove along the rainbow road,

with a pot of gold on the other side shining with golden poppies.

My Marathon

Some run a 100 meter dash, many others run a marathon. Maybe I was meant to run the 100 meter dash — living life fully for a short amount of time. But maybe I don’t want to run the 100 meters; I want to run the marathon with everyone else.

My 100 meters are up and I stumbled from starting too fast. My hands and knees are scraped, I twisted my ankle. I didn’t wear sunblock so my skin is burning. I didn’t eat enough so I’m already without energy. My nose is running constantly. I wasn’t in shape to run the marathon in the first place and I didn’t train for it either. But that doesn’t matter. I still want to run the marathon.

I’m running with my injuries and disabilities. Everyone is fit, or at least not injured, and running with obstacles that come with the journey: uphills and downhills, curves and uneven pavement. Of course, some trip and fall, some give up or walk, and some seem to prance along in their fancy shoes. But in the end, don’t we all struggle to catch our breath as we near the finish line?

I’m 1/3 of the way, I hope. I’m limping and bleeding, coughing and wheezing, my nose is running, my skin is burning, muscles aching; but I’m running alongside others because I want to finish the 26 miles. When those around me look to see how I’m doing, I smile reassuringly. My family has been my crutches, my daughter pushes me along, my friends have provided water, food, towels, and have cheered me on. And I am so thankful.

I wonder though. Can I make it or will I end up with the ones picked up by the truck for those who couldn’t finish or will I end up with the emergency response team?

For now, by God’s grace, I’m still running.


little story #002: treasures in the wild

There is a piece of land in the middle of nowhere that my father calls home. The land is covered with shrubs and weeds, so much so you that cannot see the dirt underneath. Trees that bear various fruits line a narrow path that weaves through the terrain into a forest. The land has been left alone for more than twenty years, resting, flourishing, and the trees that have grown tall and wild sway with the wind trickling sunlight onto the ground below. Sunbeams play games and reveal only what they want you to see, and you wonder what are hidden in its shadows.

Wilderness is not the kind of beauty that a modern eye appreciates. It is chaos. Disorder. Nature. But the fruit that grows within the chaos becomes a fruit that bears the most nutrients: a super-fruit. It has withstood all its enemies, i.e., harsh weather, weeds, insects, birds, etc., and was still able to blossom and grow. Those are the kinds of fruits that my father’s land hides. They are hidden between the weeds and shrubs, under the ground, behind the rocks, and up on the trees. Treasure is everywhere if one is willing to search and the Lord provides the best in abundance.