Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Project: Bananas No More

Part One: Remove Banana Trees - check
Two weeks (3 hours a day), half a bottle of Motrin and a tube of Icy Hot! That what it took to uproot 18 banana trees (saplings to full on trees) pushing on the wall threatening to knock it down! This morning, the largest clump of roots came out. Now I have to break up the pieces for the dump.
Banana trees

Part Two: Rebuild
The banana trees were pushing against the wall shared by the neighbor to the left. I didn't really see how bad it was until I removed the last huge clump of roots. I was using the wall as leverage to pull out the roots when I saw the wall move!
I am going to have to disassemble the wall and rebuild it. Looking at the parts that are exposed, I see that it is hollow and has no reinforcement.

Shopping list:
  1. Cement
  2. rebars
  3. time
  4. a book on how to build a brick wall

Maybe I don't need the last one but I will definitely need the third one.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Heavy Metal Bee Gees and the Silversun Pickups

Stephanie had tickets for a "Bee Gees tribute band" playing at The House of Blues in Downtown Disney last Saturday. I was a late fan of the Bee Gees, really late. The disco era passed me by when it came through the first time. My family was moving at the time (Guam - Hawaii - Los Angeles) and I was preoccupied at trying to fit in at whatever new school I ended up in. I was still into the music that my older cousins were into when we had left Guam. I was just starting to appreciate Led Zepplin, Bad Company, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Eagles, Deep Purple and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
I didn't see Saturday Night Fever until long after Staying Alive was finally being showed on KTLA's afternoon movie special on TV! My sisters were more in touch with the current music than me. I think it was Celia that introduced/re-introduced the disco era music to me in the late 80's. That's pretty much the timeline for my appreciating the Bee Gees.
So back to the concert. So, Stephanie told my she had 4 tickets to a tribute band. I had asked a few friends if they wanted to go. It was last minute and with the next day being Easter, there weren't a lot of takers. The group ended up being Hank, Berda, James and myself. The concert was at Downtown Disney at the House of Blues. I did not learn that the tribute band was a Heavy Metal Tribute Band! Hmmmm, Bee Gees songs played in heavy metal style! I was curious but I was a little worried about Berda. I wasn't sure if she would be able to take something like this. Unfortunately, there was an opening band and I did not care for them at all. Berda was enjoying their spectacle for a while but it wore off quickly. If there wasn't an opening band, I think Berda would have lasted longer as it was, I was surprised she lasted as long as she did. Having to stand up the whole time also took a lot out of her, so she told us she would wait outside after 3 songs and Hank went with her. James and I stayed for another 3 songs then rejoined the two outside. We walked around for a bit then went to Pho 54, a Vietnamese restaurant in Fountain Valley for some pho.

On the tram from the parking structure.


James wanted to tease our friend Casey by taking this photo.

Silversun Pickups
My cousin Amado calls and tells me that his son Chris has a ticket for me for his band's concert in Pomona. The last time I saw the band perform live was at the Troubadour in Hollywood three years ago. Silversun Pickups have come a long way since then. Their latest album (are they still called albums?), Swoon, will be coming out this tomorrow.
There were 2 opening bands, The Happy Hallows and the Deadly Syndrome. They were very good bands to warm up the crowd that was starting to fill up the venue. By the time the Deadly syndrome was wrapping up their set the place had already sold out. From the VIP section, above the floor, I can see the people outside who couldn't get inside. The singer for the Deadly Syndrome had a strong voice and very distinct.
When Silversun Pickups took the stage the place erupted. Their set had a lot of songs from their first album. When they played their new songs, looking at the crowd, I was amazed at how the crowd already knew the lyrics and were singing along. Chris' mom commented how she thought that many in the audience were going to have neck aches the way they were all bobbing their heads throughout the concert!
After the concert we went backstage to congratulate the band. I loved how the rest of the band all called Amado and Emma "tito Amado" and "tita Emma". I told Chris, "you know that you are doing well, when you have roadies packing up all your equipment for you now."
They are going to be at Coachella on the first day, Friday. Still not sure if I will be going.

With Chris backstage.

With his parents.

View from the VIP section. Only had my little point and shoot camera. Christopher on the left on drums.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Yes! We have no bananas!

Banana Tree Removal
One of the "not on the fun list" things that has been keeping me busy is the removal of a bunch of banana... trees! Dad had gotten 3 banana tree saplings a couple of years ago and planted them in the backyard. I was actually excited about the prospect of growing bananas in the backyard until certain things came to my attention.
  1. They grow like weeds (they spread out, other saplings grow from the original).
  2. It was the plantain-type bananas, they have to be cooked.
  3. They NEED a lot of water to produce fruit.

Dad planted one of the saplings a little too close to one of the fences shared by the neighbor and the wall is now leaning to the point of "uh-oh". The point of "uh-oh" have been known to turn into "^#$*&^%$*%"!!!! So, I'm digging up banana trees! I say banana trees because from that one sapling, I am now dealing with multiple trees (see #1 above). Here are more facts about banana trees.

  1. They are like Yucca trees. If you didn't know, they have a high water content.
  2. They do not die easily! See #1!
  3. You can't take a chain saw to them. They are fibruous and see #1!
  4. You can't take an axe to them. Axes are too think, they bounce off after the initial cut because see #1 & #3!
  5. You have to use a machete! Fortunately, I had one of those! No self respecting Pilipino will not have one or four in the tool shed!
  6. Their root system are tenacious! They hold on and they spread!

So, with these facts in mind my tools are:

  1. machete
  2. shovel
  3. pick axe
  4. gloves (which get slippery if you handle the banana trunks soaked with its water content)
  5. My aching back!

But it isn't going to win!

The start. At the corner!
BananaTree (1)

Diggin in and the first root!
BananaTree (2)

This one has a lot of roots!
BananaTree (5)

8 down! Don't know how many more!
BananaTree (7)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Playing Catch Up II

So there were times I was able to get out while my dad was recuperating. A few times friends took me out for a spell. Now that dad is getting much better, though not fast enough in his opinion, I've been able to relax a bit more.

Tony's New Tank
I had lunch with most of the Wong family a few weeks back (sorry Bradley but you were in school). Turns out Tony got himself a new 150 gallon aquarium. This would make it how many Tony? Looking around their home, I told Grace that she had better watch out because if she blinks Tony will have the swimming pool filled with more coral and a shark or two!
Tony's new tank

Sam & Brieanna got married!
Last week Sam and Brieanna got married! The ceremony was small and very nice. It was held at the Clarke Estate in Santa Fe Springs. I would never had known that such a place existed! It was well hidden away section of an otherwise busy section south of Downtown Santa Fe Springs. The ceremony was in an open courtyard and the reception at the gardens.
Brieanna being escorted by her father.


The newlyweds

With Mrs. Brieanna Smythe

This will be all for now got more!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

"I'm going to Disneyland!" - B. SooHoo

I'm going to be playing catch up with the next few posts. Things have calmed down quite a bit since we got the great news about dad's cancer-free status. He is still recovering, having an 1/8th of your left removed is not something you get over from overnight. I was able to get away every now and then while mom took over watching after dad. One of those days, I was able to celebrate with another cancer-free diagnosis.

Berda's Going to Disneyland!
My good friend Berda has been fighting with breast cancer for the past year or so. She went through chemo, a double masectomy and radiation treatments. Through the whole ordeal, she managed to keep such a cheery disposition that it threw off many who did not know her very well, including some of us who did!
Last month, she completed her final radiation treatment, given a clean bill of cancer-free health and will be looking forward to reconstruction. She arranged to have her last radiation treatment as early as possible in the day so we can go to...
Almost there
Yup! you guess it!


We had a great time and even met with a galactic hero.
With Buzz!!

Congratulations Berda! It was a blast celebrating with you!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Dad's Birthday Party and Late Present

Dad is recovering from his lobectomy very well. He has been home for a couple of weeks and he has a hospital bed at home and is no longer on opiate-based pain medications. The pain is lessening in intensity if not frequency but he is managing it well.
Last Saturday was his birthday and we weren't sure if he was going to be up for a party or visitors for that matter so it was pretty much up in the air. Mom was going to be gone for the weekend at a church retreat. I told her that she should go and I'll take care of dad.
Wednesday, I asked dad if he would be up for the cousins and the kids coming over Saturday for his birthday. It was very last minute so I wasn't sure if people would be able to show up on short notice. I just called/emailed Celia, Jim, James I & II and the cousins to see if a get-together was do-able. By Friday, we all had it all planned out. I tried a new pork loin roast recipe that I have been wanting to try; Celia made her famous, at least it is now, mochi cupcakes, cousin Aurora had her patented pancit malabon, cousin Johana brought more pilipino food & a fudge oatmeal dessert and James brought HIS cranberries juice.
I had so much going on that I did not even think of taking one picture! Talk about busy! But it was a lot of fun!

Cancer Free Gift
This morning, dad got a late present. We learned from his Uncologist that he did not have any trace of cancer in him. He isn't going to need any chemo nor radiation treatments! He needs to go back in 3 months for follow up tests (x-ray, CT scan, blood work, etc) but for the most part he is "good to go"!

Thank you everyone for all your prayers and well wishes. It has been difficult for all of us and we, I would not have been able to get through this the way I have without your help and prayers.