The Constant Shift

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Mandatory shot of the “last sunset”  from the former nest

So I know that this blog is essentially a documentation of a semi-nomad’s nesting habits, or something close to that effect.  Perhaps it wasn’t conceived in that context but as it evolved, I recognised patterns in my life that I was keen on recording — that as much as I thrive in uncertainty and restlessness and the constant shift of space, there will always be the yearning and fascination to make the space my own and dwell in the comfort of a home, regardless of time and impermanence. 

After two weeks of nomadic bus-jumping, city-hopping, shelter-seeking, cross-cultural explorations in India (but that’s for another post) I returned to an abrupt hobo situation. A boring story which only involves a laid-off landlord and a prematurely terminated lease. I had barely clocked 5 months into that new flat. And yes, I do think I am fortunate to be in a position with options and solutions; that I can still find a replacement in less than a week, that I have the means to grab and secure a place, that the biggest predicament and inconvenience would be the packing-evacuation-transporting-unpacking process. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t dire at all. I have found a new place, moved and started to ease myself into it. 

And I must say, the idea of just settling in and staying put (for a while at least) sounds appealing and comforting. I cannot guess when the restlessness will kick in and the feet will itch yet again, but for now, some stability and steadiness would be quite nice.

A Cup of Comfort

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A frustrated barista’s homemade attempts to beat the rainy midday blues. 
Actually, I had been thoroughly enjoying this cold weather and thought it’d be more enjoyable with a warm, cosy, frothy latte. Without an espresso maker though, the result was a “cappuccino” and still hit all the right spots. 

Back home I would probably be whipping up some hot tsokolate with the trusted batirol, whipped thick and extra rich in traditional Spanish Eh! fashion or creamy and frothy for the sister. 
Reminder to self: bring back a maleta full of tablea or cacao balls the next time I visit home.

PS. Quite off-tangent, but somewhat relevant.
Last week, I had a girl friend over for coffee and chitchat. I mentioned cacao, and how I missed its bittersweet flavour and making it at home. She replied, “Cacao? You mean cocoa?” 
I shrugged, “Yeah.. cacao. Yeah, like cocoa. Chocolate.”
She was still really confused. “Cacao? What is that? What a funny word.” 
It was my turn to be confused. I barely believed that she had never heard of the word cacao. 
I had to ask: “Wait, where do you think chocolate comes from?”          
My friend isn’t a ditz. Well okay, she seems to never have bothered to ponder on the origins of chocolate. There are sooo many other things to think about after all.
She also comes from a place where cacao trees do not grow and sprout pods and chocolate is in its final refined form, wrapped and ready to eat straight from Willy Wonka’s factory. So I tried my best to describe what little I know about chocolate, its plant form and how it is processed. It was rather refreshing, for someone who grew up with the tradition of making hot chocolate, paired with suman (a Filipino sticky rice snack) and mangoes on rainy days and holidays. And it really made me miss the stuff and feel a bit homesick.

Nest: The new one

I’ve moved, I might have overlooked to say.
It was long overdue and spontaneous at the same time; I was growing more and more restless within those four (sometimes cosy) walls, and an opportunity had landed on my lap one day.

So here I am, thoroughly enjoying this new nest. Here’s a sneak peek of the week so far.

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My new workspace + coffee ritual den

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View of the ‘hood

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This way to my sleeping quarters. Yes, those are sliding glass doors.

Other +1s that came with the place: flatmates (yay people yay), spacious kitchen for cooking, spacious and cosy couch area for hanging out and working, more space for working and roaming about, finally the bedroom is the designated resting/sleeping area.

Results so far: work productivity has increased by 40%, sleep quality by 85%.
So far, so good.

Tools: The All-Natural Grime Buster

Palm Fiber Cleaning Scrubber

Ah, this is a nesting blog after all. I have not forgotten, albeit the overflowing basket. Rest assured, the basket has indeed overflowed. So that’s that. Moving on.

What do you use to scrub off the grime stuck on your bathroom or kitchen sink?  Why, any handy brush I can get my hands on, you might say. So what about this nice, scruffy, sturdy-looking bad boy above? The brush head itself is usually twisted into wire like this one, sans handle. I am confident you’ve spotted this at your corner store, mini mart or grocery, particularly if you are residing within the Asian region. If not, perhaps more likely because you dwell in a part of the world where coconut palm trees aren’t abundant and would find these in home stores distributing imported goods, then be introduced (or re-introduced) to the coconut palm fiber cleaning scrub. Or a Coir fiber cleaning brush.

Where I am from, this heavy duty household cleaning tool is widely used all throughout the archipelago and the brush head is made from the fibers of the sugar palm tree (Arengga pinnata). The tree has several other aliases, varying per region where it grows and is harvested, such as bagatbat (Negros Oriental), ibiok (Capiz and Bohol), rapitan (Ilocos), irok (Zambalez and Mindoro), kauing (Bataan), and the more mainland cabo Negro (Spanish-Filipino) and kaong (Manila and Rizal).  While the tree has sustained societies with the various wondrous uses of its parts, its most vital industrial yield is from the fibers,   (commercially referred to as gomut) producing ropes, filters, thatching materials and cleaning brushes, to name a few.

So, what is so good about it? Well, it is natural and devoid of synthetics and plastics. It is durable – those fibers are known to withstand long exposure to fresh and salt water, as well as being fire resistant. As a cleaning scrub, it is popular for scrubbing oily pots and pans made from cast-iron, earthenware and stainless steel, and effective for sinks and bathtubs. And these things are inexpensive, like seriously cheap. I got that one with the handle above for a little more than SGD2 from a general store in a Singaporean mall (yes, a commercial shopping mall).

So there, it is all sorts of amazing, it is.