Category Archives: flowers

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #148 – Spots and Dots

Ann-Christine’s Photo Challenge this week is Spots and Dots. She wants us to have fun with it! But, also recognize and enjoy the different interpretations, meanings and importance of these two little words. Spots and Dots. Because even if they are small…they can make a big difference.

I came back from a delightful Mother’s Day week visiting my daughter and the grandkids. My daughter Mercy talked with Autumn about Mother’s Day celebration and Autumn understood the relationship of mothers. She said, “My mommy is a mommy. You’re a mommy and you’re my mommy’s mommy. I’m not a mommy.”

Autumn loves to have the undivided attention of grandma. She has a huge appetite for books. On the days when she didn’t go to school, I read about ten books to her after breakfast. Then she played for a little while. Her latest favorite was building a fort with tunnels. She took out all the cushions from the couches to build the formation and covered them with blankets. She didn’t want my help but wanted me to watch (with attention).

Apparently, she has nap time at school, but she doesn’t take naps at home. Mercy wants her to have quiet time when Nora takes a nap. It’s also the time when Mercy takes a nap. It takes a lot of energy to care for a toddler and a baby.

There are boxes of books from my teaching days. I pick the age-appropriate books with me on each trip.

After the quiet time, I read another ten books to Autumn. She likes to listen to the same books over and over again, especially the books with longer text. She picks up more details of the stories from each repetition of reading.

The day is getting longer, and the sun doesn’t go down until about 8:00 p.m. We take the kids to a school playground across the street from the house. The neighbor next to the school has a home farm with chickens and six or seven goats. Many kids love to feed the goats.

After the walk or playground time, we read several more bedtime books to Autumn. She would ask to read “one more,” but we must be firm, otherwise, we’d be reading all night long.

In the afternoon on Mother’s Day, my daughter’s family, joined by another family went to the zoo. Autumn wanted to see the Polar Bear and carried the white stuffed bear with her. The Polar Bear was in the water under the cave for a long time but swam outside for a little while. I was glad that Autumn was not disappointed.

Nora turned one-year-old in March, so she is learning to climb the stairs and playing with different toys. She loves to follow her big sister and does the same thing. During the several days of my visit, she learned to do new things. It’s amazing to see the kids making so much progress at these ages.

There are many small dots of progress in the child development but in a long run there’s a huge impact in one’s life these small dots make. Research shows the first two years of a human life make the fastest and most growth within the shortest period compared to the remaining life span. As parents and careers, we could facilitate and make the small dots and spots colorful ones in the kids’ lives.

Mercy’s orchid plant
Spots at the zoo
More spots at the zoo
This gorgeous guy was in another garden showing off his spots and dots

This is Autumn at the zoo. How many dots and spots can you see?

Nora was fascinating to watch all the spots and dots flowing in different directions. She was trying to catch some of them.

Thank you for reading! Have a wonderful week ahead!

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #143 – Colorful April, National Poetry Month

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.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #143 – Colorful April

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #140 – A Change of Scenery

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.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #140 – A Change of Scenery

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Lens Artists Photo Challenge #137 – Soft

This week for the Lens Artists Photo Challenge #137, Ann-Christine wanted to continue with another S – Soft. This is all about how we interpret Soft.

I see soft Physical appearances, softness of characteristics, and hear soft sounds everywhere. The photos included here represent the several things that are soft in sight and in touch.

“Perfect happiness is a beautiful sunset, the giggle of a grandchild, the first snowfall. It’s the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events.” – Sharon Draper

This photo was taken from the ship of the Ensenada Cruise. It was my first time watching the soft glow of sunset in the middle of the ocean, even though we were not too far from land.

“Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We saw the fluffy clouds all the time when we were in Maui, Hawaii. They don’t seem to bring any rain except on one trip among our multiple trips.

“Water is the softest thing, yet it can penetrate mountains and earth. This clearly shows the principle of softness overcoming hardness. ” Lao Tzu

Water is soft, but when it combines with other natural phenomena, it can be powerful. The tide was coming in this sunny afternoon on the Makena Beach, Maui.

“The red rose whispers of passion, and the white rose breathes of love; O, the red rose is a falcon, and the white rose is a dove. ” – John Boyle O’Reilly

I love the softness of the Iceberg Roses. The innocent color brings me refreshing calmness.

“The only escape from the miseries of life are music and cats…” – Albert Einstein

This was my daughter’s neighbor’s cat. She had such an unusual combination of soft fur colors and soft blue eyes, and I wondered if it was a kitten. I would love to have a kitten like this one.

“A wee bit of Heaven drifted down from above, a handful of happiness, a heartful of love.​When the baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into thousands of pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.” From Peter Pan

Thank you for Balroop Singh‘s comment on the softness of a newborn baby. I added this photo of my younger granddaughter Nora. My daughter Mercy did a photoshoot of her when she was three weeks’ old. Nora will be one-year-old on March 22! I look forward to going to her birthday party.

Lens Artists Photo Challenge #137 – Soft

Weekend Sky #19 – March 6th

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #136: Subjects Starting with the Letter–S

For this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #136, we’re circling back to the alphabet. This time, Patti invited us to focus on the letter S. She quoted Mike Wilks who strung a sentence with all the words begin with the letter S and indicated on the shelves in his store stacked with stock of 1,234 Ss to see.

I don’t want to list some seventy-seven S-things. I only chose several to be included in this post. I simply tried to have samples.

“May you see sunshine where others see shadows and opportunities where others see obstacles.” – Anonymous

Sunny sky above the summer sand

“Rise above the storm and you will find the sunshine.” – Mario Fernandez

Sunny sky above the snowy summit

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.” Helen Keller

“If roses tried to be sunflowers, they would lose their beauty; and if sunflowers tried to be roses, they would lose their strength.” Matshona Dhliwayo

Sunflowers surged into the sky searching the sunlight

“Millions of trees in the world are accidentally planted by squirrels who bury nuts, then forget where they hid them. Do good and forget. It’ll grow someday.” – Anonymous

“Little squirrel opens human heart because they have lots of practice with the nuts.” – Swapna Ch

Squirrel, squirrel, what do you see?

“A smile is happiness you’ll find right under your nose.” -Tom Wilson

“Life is like a mirror. Smile at it and it smiles back at you.” – Peace Pilgrim

Sweet smiles from my daughter Mercy

“Having a sister is like having a best friend you can’t get rid of. You know whatever you do, they’ll still be there.” – Amy Li

“Sister is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship.” – Margaret Mead

Songs sisters Autumn and Nora sing together

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #136: Subjects Starting with the Letter–S

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Lens – Artists Challenge #135: Glimpse into your world

This week, the theme from Sheetalbravon is ‘A Glimpse into your world’She invited us to show the things we love that make our world spin or things about our world that make us delirious with joy.

The immediate world that fills me with inspiration and amazement is my garden. My morning routine, especially in the summer, is to visit the garden while I drink my coffee. After coffee, with the gardening tools in hand, I check the flower bushes, trim the dead branches, or dig up weeds.

I started feeding birds from 2014 and the regular visitors are Ruby Throat Hummingbirds, mourning doves, American Finch, American God Finch, Scrub Jay, Song Sparrow, White-Crowned Sparrow, and a few I couldn’t quite identify. Over the years, there were baby Mourning Dove, baby House Finches, and One baby Hummingbird born in my garden.

There are other animals such as squirrels, stray cats, and lizards roaming during the day or at night.

I have many hobbies, more than I have time to fully enjoy each of them. Not included in the images here is photography, which I started as a teenager when the photos were black and white. Another hobby is ceramic. I did the whale free hand with clay. I made it into a nightlight for my baby daughter. When my daughter was nine years old, we took a ceramic painting class together in the summer. It’s something we continue doing separately until these days.

I learned to draw and watercolor painting as a young adult. After retirement, I took classes on both and used some watercolor painting to illustrate the poems in my book.

My immediate community of 35 years is a church fellowship and the group of ladies. They are a part of my world for fun, for friendship and support. Some of these friends’ kids and my daughter grew up together. The ladies gave a bridal shower to Mercy for her wedding. Some friends still send gifts to my granddaughters as their own.

Music has been my world since I was a kid. I didn’t have a family background to nurture my love of classical music. It seems to be a natural favorite. The first time I performed Handel’s Messiah was when I was still in Hong Kong.

Most of my family except for one sister are in Hong Kong. Lynton’s family is my extended family, and we see each other regularly.

The biggest world to me is my daughter’s family. My granddaughters lighten my heart and give joy every day. My daughter has a TinyBeans.com account where she posts multiple photos and videos daily to chronicle the kids’ growth and family activities. There was not one day I go without checking on what they do. Nora’s birthday on March 22, and I wish to visit them.  

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Thank you for reading. I hope to hear what the things you love that make your world spin or things about your world that make you delirious with joy.

Lens – Artists Challenge #135: Glimpse into your world

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Lens-Artists Challenge #134 – From Forgettable to Favorite

This week for Lens-Artists Challenge #134, Tina invited us to show a few images that may not have met our original expectations but that through editing we’ve turned into “keepers”. I turned two originals into three edited photos. The originals are at the end of the post.

The small Alcatraz island in San Francisco was once a fort, a military prison, and a maximum-security federal penitentiary. The prison is famous because no prisoner had ever successfully escaped. The 1966 American action thriller film The Rock was filmed at this site. The film, stars Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage and Ed Harris, is about the eighty-one civilians on a tour of Alcatraz. During the tour, Marine General Francis Xavier Hummel takes the civilians hostage with the help of other Marines. He threatens the F.B.I. to launch the VX rockets. The F.B.I. is forced to resort to John Patrick Mason, an ex-con who broke out of Alcatraz in 1962, to break into Alcatraz to defuse the launch.

Sean Connery is one of my favorite actors, and we watched The Rock at least twice. Alcatraz Island fascinates me because of the film and the history. I have never taken a tour on the island, but during one visit, my friends and I leisurely walked on Fisherman’s Wharf and I took several shots of the Island.

I had a small pocket camera. The day was smoggy. I looked at the shots afterwards and was disappointed. Then something caught my eyes. A bird flew in front of the camera and showed up in one shot. I did some cropping and editing the colors and clarity to make two version, one to bring out the bird and the other with more clarity of the Island.

2017 was the first year the plum tree had an abundant blossom. I just needed the bees to pollinate the flowers. Yellow flowers were not my favorite color until this year. I had clover plant with yellow flowers popping up in early spring every year. I usually pulled them out and tried hard to replace with other plants in the same spots. But clover bulbs multiply and multiply, and there seem to be no way to get rid of them. One morning this early spring in 2017, I pulled a couple handfuls of clover plants out, but at the corner of my eyes, caught some bees hovering on the yellow flowers.

It surprised me with excitement, and I wanted to plug the plants back into the soil. From that moment on, I had a keen interest in the clover and the bees. I cropped and edited one photo of the clover and brought out the focus on the bee.

Here are the originals.

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Lens-Artists Challenge #134 – From Forgettable to Favorite

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Lens Artists Photo Challenge #119 – My Hideaway

Ann-Christine invited us to explore the theme of Hideaway and would like to see our interpretation.


There is no time like this when we all need a hideaway. A place in which we could find safety, calmness, beauty, feel the contentment of being, and sustain the patience of riding out the storms.

My garden is my hideaway. Nature and the little creatures speak to me and I find comfort in their messages. The branches bend when the wind blow. The roots reach deep to draw water and nutrients. The flowers dance in the breeze. Some plants go dormant in the winter. Some creatures migrate south in the cold season. They don’t fight against nature but make the best of what nature offers and maintain their balance at their present state.

Music is my great hideout.

Lens Artists Photo Challenge #119 – My Hideaway

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Lens-Artists Photo CHALLENGE #114: Negative Space

This week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 114, Amy invited us to look at Negative Space in photography.

This is my first time explored negative space in photography. It made me interested to do a quick study about the subject. I only looked at three photography sites and the following is the basic idea.

Negative space is the area surrounding the main subject in a photograph. It allows us to create a dramatic image that attracts viewers to lead their eyes towards the smaller area of positive space.

Negative space should take up more of the image than the positive space. It has the effect of making us notice and inspect the main subject even more. It can be an unoccupied area.

This was three days before the full moon in July 2017
California fires: 3,154,107 Acres Burned, 7,718 Incidents, 20 Fatalities, 6,334 Structures as of Sept. 12, 2020
(Photo from my backyard Sept. 6, 2020 4:00 p.m.)

The contrast in size makes us more curious about the main subject. The smaller the subject in the positive space is, the more noticeable it will become.

A grasshopper the size of a grain of rice sitting on the African Lily in my garden.

The negative space does not have to be an empty space. Things surrounding the subject are peripheral. They almost blend into the background, but they should never be the main subjects.  They cause you to focus even more on the subject.

Rose bud in spring
I captured this yacht during a whale watching trip.
My husband turned around for a photo before he dived in the Great Barrier Reef.

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LENS-ARTISTS PHOTO CHALLENGE 114: NEGATIVE SPACE

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #110 – Creativity in the Time of Covid

This week, Tina’s theme for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #110 is “Creativity in the Time of Covid.”

Early in May this year, I spotted the Monarch feeding on the Salvia flowers. It renewed my interest to create a butterfly garden. My hummingbirds feed on the Salvia which attracts many bees. For all these reasons, I bought several Salvia plants and planted them in different spots in my garden.

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Milkweed is the host plants for butterflies to lay eggs. The bright color Tropical milkweed was my favorite, but it grows year-round in California, and interferes with Monarch migration and reproduction.

Several kinds of milkweed are California native plants. They die in the winter to encourage Monarch for migration. They come back in spring with fresh growth. After days of research and learned how to grow milkweed. I bought the Narrow Leaf and Showy milkweed.

Most milkweed seeds in North America need a cold moist stratification to encourage spring germination. Cold moist stratification is a technique used to simulate the real-world conditions a seed would receive outdoors after the frozen winter gives way to a warm, wet spring.

I wet a paper towel to make it damp but not dripping with water. Then I spread the Milkweed seeds out on the damp paper towel and fold it to fit inside the Ziploc bag, then placed it in the refrigeration for 30 days before planting.

The seeds were planted on July 10th and most of them grew into two or three inches in three weeks. The roots grew through the peat pods yet the seedlings were young. I added the extension of the pods with plastic cups filled with top soil and punched wholes at the bottoms for drainage.

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The seedlings continued to do well. I transplanted the five or six inches ones to the soil. It has been hot with 97o F to 99o F the last days. It will be 102o F this Wednesday. I used the chicken wire to create a Cylinda shape around the young plants and put a semi-transparent cover on top with opening for water, air and light, but protects them from the direct heat.

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One major area for most of the milkweed is exposed to the sun all day and the soil dries up fast. A cooler temperature would help the plants to establish. I transplanted some into bigger flower pots while waiting for a cooler weather.

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There are other butterflies in my garden such as this Swallowtail which will benefit from the milkweed.

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This has been a fun and learning creation of my butterfly garden during the pandemic. My hope is by summer next year, there’ll be caterpillars on the milkweed and butterflies fluttering in my garden.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #110 – Creativity in the Time of Covid

 

Thank you for reading this post. I look forward to hearing your comment. Please click the above link to view other posts or join this challenge.

 

 

 

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