This week, for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, Amy invited us to look at the colorful April that spring brings us. Every year, the cold of winter melts away and spring brings a new beginning.
April is National Poetry Month. I’ll include a poem “A Light Exists in Spring” by Emily Dickinson.
Every year, the cold of winter melts away and spring brings a new beginning. The nature and the creatures wake up from their hibernation, stretch the limbs and pop the heads up to give us a big smile.
The flowers in my garden invited me to give them a visit.
When I take my afternoon walk, the vibrant colors stopped me more and more frequently to capture their beauty.
I’m grateful for living in a community with the walking/hiking/horse trails snake through the cities. These trails are in the neighborhood yet they seem to be away from the distractions of voices and noises.
A Light exists in Spring by Emily Dickinson
A Light exists in Spring Not present on the Year At any other period — When March is scarcely here
A Color stands abroad On Solitary Fields That Science cannot overtake But Human Nature feels.
It waits upon the Lawn, It shows the furthest Tree Upon the furthest Slope you know It almost speaks to you.
Then as Horizons step Or Noons report away Without the Formula of sound It passes and we stay —
A quality of loss Affecting our Content As Trade had suddenly encroached Upon a Sacrament.
Written in around 1864 but not published until 1896 (as with many of Dickinson’s poems), ‘A Light Exists in Spring’ beautifully captures the way that spring slowly appears in our consciousness, like a light in the distance. The final stanza of Dickinson’s poem also seems to acknowledge what we now call ‘SAD’ or Seasonal Affective Disorder, with the passing of spring affecting our contentedness.
I woke up with this exciting news. My debut children’s eBook Tina Lost in a Crowd was #3, then #2 and now is #1 on the Amazon Hot New Releases! It’s from #50 to #22 on the Top 100 Paid Best Sellers. Thank you for your pre-order (I think the pre-order counts)!
I just received the proof copy of the paperback from Amazon. It looks good. It’ll be ready for purchasing on April 15.
I’m excited to announce that my debut children’s book Tina Lost in a Crowd will be published on April 15 and is available for preorder. The paperback will also be available. I’ll share with you the making of the book during the book release.
On Amazon, the eBook is $1.99 from preorder to the end of April. The paperback will be $6.95 from April 15th to the end of April.
The Hardcover and eBook will be available on Barns & Noble later.
The Book Release Tour will be from Monday, April 19 to Sunday, April 25. I’m thankful for the friends who will help to host the tour. I will post their links and invite you to visit the tour.
If you are interested in helping me to host a tour, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment below with your preferred date.
Here is the book cover of Tina Lost in a Crowd.
Why I Write Children’s Book
My experience of writing the children’s books was when, at age 26, I worked in Hong Kong as the Director of Children’s Department at Asian Outreach, which was a Christian literature publication company. They recruited me to design and write children’s magazines for the third grade and higher students. I modeled after a well-established local children’s magazine and wrote stories with Christian values.
This was the process we went through to publish the children’s magazines:
I set the themes of each issue and wrote the stories, games, word puzzles, and riddles.
My boss, David who was the Director of Asian Outreach edited the contents.
I worked with the supervisor, Martin and the illustrator, Isaac in the Art Department on the illustration design. It was exciting to see the pages from sketches to the completed products. They were creative and artistic. On one story about the farm animals, they took the stuffed animals to a village area, used the village as the background to film the sequence of the story. I had fun going to the darkroom watching the photos being developed.
I worked with the typesetter who did the typesetting in Chinese.
Back in the late 1970s, there was no digital design. When the artists finished with the drawings, the typesetter would type according to dimension of space for the text and printed out the words. Isaac cut and pasted them to flow with the artworks. Then he took photograph of each page and sent the negatives to the print shop to ordered the “blueprint” which was the same size with multiple pages as the blue print for buildings.
When the blueprint came back, I proofread the text, the artists proofread the artworks, and the manager ordered the printing of the magazines.
It was exciting to see my first magazine in print coming back to our office. I published four children’s magazines before leaving the office to come to the US.
The experience of working at Asian Outreach was a great asset to my current publication of the children’s books.
Did you have an Easter egg hunt this morning with your kids or grandkids?
Last year Autumn dyed the eggs with the help of her dad. On Easter Sunday, she had an Easter egg hunt outside of the house. My daughter, Mercy did a good job hiding the eggs, but Autumn found all the eggs.
When Mercy was a kid, I put messages in the plastic eggs and hid them inside and outside of the house. I helped her find the first egg. She read the age-appropriate math problem, solved it, and read the message that led her to the next egg until she found all the eggs. She looked forward to the Easter egg hunt for many years.
When I sang in the choir, the church used to have four Easter Sunday services with the first service starting at 6:30 a.m. The following recording was from 2015.
April 2021 marks the 25th annual celebration of poets and poetry.
Launched by the Academy of American Poets in April 1996, National Poetry Month reminds the public that poets have an integral role to play in our culture and that poetry matters. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world, with tens of millions of readers, students, K–12 teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary events curators, publishers, families, and, of course, poets, marking poetry’s important place in our lives.
Each April, the Academy offers activities, initiatives, and resources so that anyone can join in National Poetry Month online and at home. Please visit National Poetry Month for a list of activities.
In 2014, I joined the Poetry for Pleasure group, which is part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute program for the retirees or age 50+ individuals.
The Poetry for Pleasure group meets once a week for two hours during the regular quarters and intersessions at the California State University, Fullerton. We study the lives of the poets, classic and contemporary, and their works. Members signed up to lead each session. The leader would share the introduction, then the members would take turned to share and read a poem by that poet. Besides studying the poets and their works, we study types or themes of poetry such as humorous poems, poems from a 4-legged point of view, or poetry about love, family, and seasons.
In the second hour of the meeting, members would read their own poems. One member had been in that group for many years prior to my attendance. She was 90 years old when I first met her. She still wrote new poems until early 2021 at 96+ years old when she died of Covid complication. I remember her citing poems she wrote at age 6. It was an inspiration to watch her coming to the poetry group every week reading poetry of her own and others.
The group publishes an Anthology once a year. Each member has a share of eight pages to publish their unpublished poems. The last section of the Anthology is a themed poetry contributed by anyone in the group. One year, the theme was I Am From. The poems could refer to an actual location or a mental, physical, and emotional state, or a family origin. Such as…
I am from Boston where…
I am from a family of seven…
The following was my poem contributed to the anthology.
I Am From –
From a familiar land of Hong Kong, I came forty-some years ago –
to a land of the unknown in Portland, Oregon, following the rainbow.
From a dramatic scene of a skyscraper jungle crowded with people –
to a forest like of sky-reaching trees and behold the first snow.
From restaurants filled with muffled noises drowning my own voices –
to cafes so quiet I could hear the whispering and chewing of Époisses
From television, music, and chattering sounds saturated everywhere –
to air filled with crispy rubbing leaves and whooshing wind brushed my hair.
My surprising discovery was the intermittent tinnitus in my left ear –
which was masked by the environs from my discovery for many years.
The foreign land of the unknown now became my home.
Even when I traveled to places around the globe,
I long for coming back to my bed in my present home.
I will post poetry related posts during this month including the poets and their works, selection of my published or new poems, and other poetry projects.
What would you write if you were writing a poem or a thought on I Am From…? I would love to hear from you!
A beautiful tribute to Sue Vincent from Jim Webster. Thank you, Jim, for speaking for all of us and let Sue know what you were doing before her passing. She held all our love and appreciation with her.
Sue lived a courageous life. She was still writing when her legs were too weak to stand up. She showed us to be true to ourselves and be vulnerable. She didn’t complain about her dying but continued to value her living.
Sue, you lived a life greater than life itself. We all missed you tremendously and we’re thankful for the precious words you left behind!
There are times when a poet must make a stand and say, “This has happened without my cognisance and I will not accept it!” Today has not been the best of days. Today I got a note from a patron. Common enough, especially from her, as she was always quick to praise, swift to encourage. But today the note had a bitter flavour. She was sitting awaiting death. A week? Longer?
And what can a poet do? A poet can protest, a poet can stand tall and say firmly that this will not do. A poet can bang the table with his wine glass obvious of the fact it has shattered and the pieces lie glistening but incoherent, shards of dreams never now to be dreamt.
Others have known Sue for longer than I, others will doubtless feel the grief more keenly, will mourn longer, but my job as a…
I have had a membership at different gyms since 1980. My first gym was a small outfit owned by a couple. The wife led the aerobics class until late in her pregnancy. My routine was using a some weight resistant machines, doing the aerobic, and finishing it with 15 minutes in the spa.
I later joined the LA Fitness in 1989 and stayed with them until present. They were closed because of the lockdown.
During my twenty-five years of working, going to the gym on the weekend was not a luxury but necessary to keep me going for another week. My routine was doing yoga on Saturday, using the machines and swimming on Sunday.
When Lynton retired at the end of 2016, he wanted me to join him going to the gym. We went to the gym together for four years. Besides working out with him, I kept my weekend swimming schedule.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, the gym closed. It was difficult for our bodies to come to a haul from a regular workout routine. Lynton kept the running schedule in a local park but needed more for the upper body. He bought a manikin to practice boxing. Gradually, he modified it to make it look like an actual person. He called him “Bob.” Punching “Bob” was still not enough exercise for him. He resurrected the dumbbell set for weightlifting.
It’s more difficult for me to adjust the workout routine. I try walk 30 to 45 minutes five days a week. When I get busy with other routine such as blogging or gardening, I conveniently forget going for my walk. I tried to do yoga with YouTube, but it was hard to stay motivated without actual people around me.
Something wonderful happened during our visit with my daughter, Mercy, and the grandkids. Mercy and I took Nora with us to go for a morning walk. She used an app Strava to track our walk. I used to have an app to track my steps, but it had too many commercials, so I uninstalled it. The one Mercy uses doesn’t have commercials, so I downloaded it. One good thing is that we can follow each other. After I downloaded the app, I followed my son-in-law, Will, and one other person. The followers could click “kudo” to show support of anyone’s walking, biking, and other athletic activities.
I now feel motivated to stay with my walking and doing the recumbent bike at home. Even though Mercy and I are not walking together physically but we keep track on each other. I was thinking about the accountability but on a second thought, no, we’re not holding each other accountable. We just want to stay in touch and cheer up each other! To me, it’s the connection, and connection, and connection that counts!
Do you go to the gym? What do you do to keep up with the exercise? I would love to hear your ideas.
These are some of the comments:
Claire Fullerton One of my favorite topics, Miriam! I taught a ballet barre/Pilates mat class in Malibu for 8 years, and although I don’t teach anymore, I stay on top of the movements as a way of being in the world. I’m at my desk a lot, and still practice what is basically a combination of yoga, ballet, and Pilates. I use free weights– never over 2 pounds because more can be taxing on cartilage and joints. Weights are great for isometric engagement, alone. All this counters the time I spend at my desk. I also recommend stretches after getting out of a hot bath. And walking is the best exercise of all. I’m of the belief use it or lose it, as the saying goes. The older I become, the more I realize it’s worth the effort.
Hedy Bach Wonderful Miriam yes yoga and walking the mutt but missing my pool and weights hoping things open up more here but who knows … spring is arriving so fun in the sun 🤞happy weekending ~ smiles Hedy ☺️💫
Chelsea Owens What a great idea! I used to go to our community gym before COVID and pregnancy, but haven’t made time for it again or felt safe yet. I mostly do YouTube videos and agree that we need yoga once a week.
Toni Pike Hi Miriam, That app looks great, thanks for that. I like walking for exercise and doing some exercises at home, so I’m not worried about the gym. But I’ve put on some Covid kilos over the last 12 months, and really need to lose them to get back in shape. Toni x
Hints of Life Great post! 👍🏻 I try getting 20 minutes run 4-5 times in a week. Somedays, nothing better than simple stretches and yoga. 😊🙏🏻
Pete SpringerI was going to the gym 4-5 days a week for three years after I retired. It was the longest I’ve ever stayed that disciplined about going. I’ve never liked to run, but I did find that I felt better and got a sense of accomplishment each time I finished. Now, I haven’t gone in more than a year since the pandemic began. I walk 5-6 days a week and miss it when I don’t. I’ve put a few of the pounds back on that I lost before the pandemic. I get as much mentally from walking as I do physically. It’s where I seem to do my best thinking.
Janet Gogerty My favorite exercise apart from walking, gardening and swimming in the sea is aquarobics. Alas, even before Covid my various aquarobics classes were always disappearing – either the teacher would leave or the pool would close down! I had an app on my phone to measure walking distance, but it kept talking every time I stopped to cross the road or met someone I knew.
Stevie Turner I always walk and cycle every day. I cycle for half an hour and walk for about an hour and a half. It keeps me fit.
Elizabeth GauffreauBetween working, blogging, and writing, my home exercise routine that I’ve had for years is falling by the wayside–and I’m feeling it. I need to make a change. I think I’ll start with walking, as getting outside will be a big motivator from an enjoyment perspective.
Norah Colvin Exercise and I are only passing acquaintances, Miriam. We haven’t really got to know each other yet. I think exercise might be a bit bossy for me, and exercise doesn’t like the way I ignore them. Perhaps one day. I agree with you that it’s the connection that’s important.
Jill Weatherholt I workout each day. It’s been part of my routine for many years to combat stress. In my early 20’s, I had a membership, but I always found excuses not to go. It was raining, the traffic is terrible, etc. Investing in my own equipment works best for me. Is that a Schwinn recumbent bike? It looks exactly like the one I purchased during the pandemic after my treadmill died. I also have an elliptical, a trampoline and a stair stepper. I could start my own gym! 🙂
Barbara Vitelli Hi Miriam – I don’t go to a gym but I walk and do aerobic workouts with weights in our basement. I have been doing the same indoor workout since my twenties, when I did go to aerobics classes at a gym. I memorized the routine and have not needed to go. It’s hard to keep up with the walking when we get busy, isn’t it? I try to do a walk a few times a week and squeeze in a walk during one of my work days. I’m glad you like Strava. My sons and I use RunKeeper which is similar. It’s fun to see where each of us goes. One uses it for walking and running and the other uses it for biking.
Willow DotI used to go to the gym three times a week for years after breaking my back, both times. Then about 5 years ago I switched to Pilates twice a week and gym twice a week. Then 4 years ago I stopped the gym and just carried on with Pilates. During lockdown I carried on the Pilates lessons via zoom. Then I got ill so for last 8months I stopped Pilates. I now do Leslie Sansone health videos, walking for life usual a 3mile work out, plus usually I get out and walk daily. It’s not perfect but it’s better than nothing.
Alethea Kehas Hi Miriam, my kids and I convinced my husband to got a Nordic Track Peleton-like bike for Christmas and it has been the best motivator for me. I try to do five rides on it a week, which are around 30 minutes. I enjoy it because you can “travel” with the instructor to different places around the world. Other than that, I teach two Zoom yoga classes during the week, so that motivates me to get some yoga in too. And, I walk our dogs every afternoon.
John Steiner Good morning. Like you, my wife and I miss our visits to our respective gyms as well. They have opened up again, and in the next few weeks, when we get back to North Dakota, we’ll rejoin. For the duration of the lockdowns, we’ve been using the online versions of the training programs we are used to doing. Lynn does her yoga, several types, and I bought a barbell set to continue my weight training. Though the equipment was expensive, the total cost to retrofit our home was less than the monthly fees we saved by only paying for the virtual programs available from our gyms.
Roberta CheadleHi Miriam, this sounds like a lot of fun. I’m glad to know you have found a way to stay connected while walking.
Jacqui Murray Great post. I don’t go to a gym–haven’t for decades–but walking here and there used to keep me in shape. Pandemic meant I couldn’t. I took up walking, often with my husband. I love the look of that app. I’m going to check it out, see if I can get my son on it (he is in Okinawa and walks all over that island!). I downloaded the app, figured out the setup and can’t wait to try it tomorrow.
Mae Clair I’m not a gym person, but I do jog five days a week. I used to do yoga, but ran into lower back issues. Now I just do stretching on top of my jogging. I’ve also got a Fitbit that lets me track steps, sleep, etc. I’m going to have to check into the app you mentioned.
Bette A. Stevens I walk and join my Soaring Seniors group on FB since COVID. Grateful. Being part of this awesome group is not only fun, it inspires me to do the work! Thanks for sharing, Miriam!
Jan Sikes Walking and yoga stretches are my favorite forms of exercise. I have not heard of this app, but will check it out. Thanks for sharing, Miriam!
Yvette Calleiro I was walking until I formed a heel spur. Now, I’m stretching and riding my bike around the neighborhood. I’m hoping to incorporate more walking soon. Great post, Miriam. 🙂
D. Wallace Peach I’m so impressed with your dedication to staying fit, Miriam. I’m on the couch way way too much. The walking app sounds wonderful, but we don’t have walkable roads where I live – no sidewalks, sharp blind corners, and logging trucks. That said, my goal is to exercise every day for the month of April to start making it a habit and get over my initial resistance and excuses. Wish me luck and keep it up, my friend. You’re an inspiration!
The host for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #140 is Beth at https://wanderingdawgs.com and the theme is A Change of Scenery. We want to thank you, Beth.
A change of scenery can happen in a short distance such as from room to room, from outdoor to indoor or from indoor to around the neighborhood. But last week we changed a scenery from state to state.
Before leaving town, I took a few photos of the spring blossom in my garden. The Freesia was in full bloom. The plum trees just started blooming. It looks like we’d have a promising harvest this summer.
The scenery changed from sunny to rainy in the weather but our hearts are warmer.
My husband and I landed in Portland, Oregon last Thursday from California. We came for a week to spend time with our granddaughters. Our younger granddaughter Nora’s first birthday was Sunday, March 22. My daughter Mercy planned a party on Saturday in a park close to home. We had a wonderful time warming up with our granddaughters Autumn and Nora on the first two days. We had not seen them since October 2020. We canceled our trips for Thanksgiving and Christmas because of Covid.
It was pouring on Saturday early morning. Mercy changed the location to a school site with a covered area. We didn’t know how many people would show up. An hour before we left the house, the rain stopped.
Many families with kids came to the party. The school has a large playground for the kids. It was the first time some friends got together since Covid started. Both the grown-ups and kids had a wonderful time.
Later in the afternoon, the sky turned dark and it was pouring again. We were thankful that the rain stopped for a few hours so we could have a great party.
A friend made three dozen cupcakes for everyone. Mercy bought a small birthday cake for Nora. It was Nora’s first time to have cakes, and she sure loved it.
This week for Lens-Artist Challenge #139, Tina invited us to visit our special moments. While there are so many, I would included three events.
Mount St. Helens in Washington state was erupted on May 18, 1980. I was a student at Seattle Pacific University. The 5.1 magnitude earthquake caused a lateral eruption that reduced St. Helens’ height by about 1,300 feet (400 m) and left a crater 1 mile (1.6 km) to 2 miles (3.2 km) wide and 0.5 miles (800 m) deep. It was a major eruption among the 48 states since 1915. The ash drifted over many states and could be seen as far as Chicago. The evacuation was announced before the eruption. Mr. Harry Truman, a caretaker of a resort lodge, refused to leave. He said he belonged to the mountain and would die with the mountain. He, along with fifty-six people were killed.
My family and I went back to visit on September 10, 2016. The mud and debris still filled the river, and the crater was still very much alive. It seemed like nothing or few things would survive. I was in awe to see miles of century-old forests destroyed by the eruption have come back, richer and different from before. There were many beautiful wildflowers. Life overcomes!
I came to the US as a student in 1977. In all the years I was in Hong Kong, I had never visited the Great Wall. In 2012, some family member expressed the interest to take a family vacation in China. I got some tour information from the Chinese Newspaper and made contacts. One tour company offered a private tour with a van and a driver for ten people. After I got the commitment of eight members, I started planning. By the time we set the itinerary, made reservations for air and hotel, three members couldn’t make it. I was a little disappointed. The tour company contacted the tour in China they agreed to accommodate the seven of us. It was a special vacation because I have other countries on my visiting list and may not return to see the Great Wall.
We rarely get to celebrate the birthdays or anniversaries on the day of the event. In 2016, I could plan a trip to Spain in August during our anniversary. When we visited the Mosque of Córdoba, the architecture fascinated me, and I was busy taking photos. The tour moved on without me. It panicked me. Fortunately, my husband is tall, and I spotted him, and quickly merged back to the tour saying nothing.
We were in Barcelona to celebrate our anniversary. I wish to tour inside of Basilica de la Sagrada Familia but the tour didn’t not schedule it. We only had time to take photos. I literally was lying flat on the ground to get the view from the bottom to the top. Of course, my husband was on guard so people wouldn’t step on me and kill me.
The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc (Font màgica de Montjuïc) in Barcelona.
This week, the theme from Amy for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is Natural Light. She invited us to look at photography uses the sun as a light source and share photos of changing light throughout the day.
I took this opportunity to study the phenomena of changing light.
The different colors of the natural light determined by the sun’s rays during the light phases of the day. They depend on the elevation of the sun. The phases are the nighttime, morning twilights, morning magic hours, daytime, evening magic hours, evening twilights, and nighttime. The dramatic colors of blue, red, orange and yellow are in the golden hour and blue hour when the sun is lower in the sky during the morning magic hours and evening magic hours shortly before and after the appearance of the sun.
Steven Ackerman, professor of meteorology at UW-Madison said, “Molecules and small particles in the atmosphere change the direction of light rays, causing them to scatter. Scattering affects the color of light coming from the sky, but the details are determined by the wavelength of the light and the size of the particle. The short-wavelength blue and violet are scattered by molecules in the air much more than other colors of the spectrum. This is why blue and violet light reaches our eyes from all directions on a clear day. But because we can’t see violet very well, the sky appears blue.”
Brian Resnick at the Vox.com further explained, “At sunset, light has to travel through a greater distance of atmosphere to reach our eyes — so even more blue light, and even some green and yellow light, gets filtered out. That leaves us with the warmer hues of the visible light, the reds and oranges, and it’s why many sunsets look like fire.
As we approach the winter solstice, the time the sun takes to set lengthens, due to the angle the sun takes in setting into the ground. During the equinoxes, the sun pretty much sinks into the ground at a 90-degree angle. Nearer the winter solstice, the sun sets on more of an angle, drawing out the time it takes to set. Which is to say: Sunset colors linger closer to the winter solstice, which allows us to enjoy them for longer.”
Here are some examples of my photography showing the colors of light shortly before sunset in different months.
These two photos were taken on my walk in the neighborhood in July. They were taken in a less than one minute apart.
These two photos were taken during a Columbia River Gorge Cruise, Washington in September. The two photos were taken in just minutes apart while the cruise ship traveled.
These two photos were also taken in my neighborhood. They sky was clear with spots of scattered clouds in this December early evening before the sun disappeared. Again, the photos were taken in a few seconds apart.
I love taking sunset photos because of the dramatic change of light.