Category Archives: Life

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #108: Sanctuary

Xenia at Tranature is the guest host for Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge this week. She invited us to look at the theme of Sanctuary.

We have been in lock down because of Covid-19 since March 11. The initial projection was to close schools and stores for several weeks. Five months have gone by, we see new surge of cases in many countries. This is an unsettling time of the history.

Xenia’s theme is timely for us to think about and find sanctuary among the chaos.

 

Sanctuary is the tranquility where the mind and soul find serenity and peace. It could be in the ocean, a park, or your garden.

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It seems to be miles away but Laguna Lake is in the midst of the residential homes.

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My garden

Sanctuary is the harmony where the chaos, strife, and discords dissipate. It could be somewhere in the forest or the perception through our filtered lenses.

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Trees find their way toward the sun at Laguna Lake.

Sanctuary is the quietness where the demands, interruption, and disturbance fade away. It could be a bench under a tree or in the depth of your heart.

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Benches like this one are facing the water around Laguna Lake.

Sanctuary is a resting place where the struggles, conflicts, and confusion subside. A nap can be a pleasant luxury, a mini-vacation. It can provide an easy way to get some relaxation and rejuvenation.

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Tucking the head under the wings is a perfect way of napping for the ducks.

Sanctuary is a hobby you emerge yourself in for leisure and pleasure. You may find it in reading, hiking, or fishing. I find mine in singing and painting.

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This family enjoyed fishing at Laguna Lake

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My watercolor painting

Sanctuary is a haven where one finds security, love, and care for the young.

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A content mama duck with eight fuzzy ducklings

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #108: Sanctuary

 

I love to hear where you find your sanctuary. Please share with us in the comment. Thank you!

 

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #107 – Winter

This week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #107, Ann-Christine invited us to look at the difference in the winter when we compare the Northern Hemisphere with the Southern Hemisphere. 

The first time I saw snow was my first year in Portland, Oregon. It was in November. I walked along the hallway from one classroom to the next. My eyes glanced through the floor to ceiling window. A thin layer of white stuff drifting down in the air. I stopped and observed. Each layer above seemed to get thicker and whiter. I realized what happened and called out while jumping up and down, “It’s snowing. It’s snowing!” Some male students walked by and looked at me. Probably the last time they saw and heard of it was from their little kids.

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When I finished school in Portland, I went on to Seattle Pacific University for my second graduate study. The city welcomed me with seven inches of snow. When the snow came to a pause, I put on my knee high, custom made leather boots and my leather gloves to make the first snowman. The leather gloves got hard and stiff after they were dry. My boots were fine, probably they were made differently.

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Is winter warm or cold? I think winter is warm because it’s the time for events such as Christmas concert, Christmas light cruise, Christmas parties with family and friends, and my daughter’s birthday the day after Christmas.

One New Year, we visited my sister’s family in Vancouver B.C. We couldn’t go skiing in Whistler B.C. because the heavy fog came in. We managed going to a nearby mountain for my husband, niece, and nephew to do snowboarding.

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Back home in southern California, our chorale started rehearsing for the Messiah concert first week of November, leading to the two performances before Christmas. This is the highlight of the year for me.

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The adult fellowship group at church has many Christmas parties. One year we had a catering dinner at a deluxe retirement home. The chef built a gingerbread village every year. He made one gingerbread house at a time throughout the year and froze them. By early December, he assembled the village with a train track and an electrical train going around it.

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The last two years, we went on the Christmas Light Cruise and watched the Christmas Boat Parade.

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Two years ago was the first-time snow and Christmas met. My husband and I went to Portland, Oregon to spend the holiday with my daughter’s family. I saw snow before the plane landed and was so excited to have a white Christmas.

Most exciting of all during Christmas time is my daughter’s birthday on the day after Christmas. Here, Mercy opened the birthday card from her daughter Autumn.

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Is winter warm or cold in your part of the world? I would like to hear from you.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #107 – Winter

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 106: Autumn

The theme from Patti this week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #106 focuses on the season autumn.

Forty years ago, I came to the graduate school in Portland, Oregon. One thing I appreciated Oregon is the distinct four seasons. Autumn is the most impressive with its red, yellow, and orange foliage. The highway by the school lined up with trees displaying the splendid colors for miles and miles. I finished my studies and moved to southern California, and I left the four seasons behind.

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My daughter went to the university in Portland, Oregon. She continued to stay there to work and then got married. Even though I visited her often, but somehow those visits didn’t fall into the season of autumn until my granddaughter Autumn was born.

Autumn was born on September 28, 2017. I was there to help such as doing laundry so Mercy and Will could concentrate on taking care of their newborn.

I took these photos early October in Mercy’s neighborhood. Trees started changing colors. One tree was indecisive, so half of the tree changed to yellow and the other half wanted to wait. Other trees around the corner had green and yellow and orange and red.

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There was a park nearby surrounded by Acorn trees. Squirrels were everywhere collecting acorns, ate some and buried some for the winter. Another squirrel was chewing something. It turned out that what he had was a fruit, not an acorn.

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During my stay in October when Autumn was born, we went to the Cathedral Park. Someone was making giant bubbles. The kids had fun chasing them.

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In Portland, Oregon, one annual fun thing to do in the autumn is going to the pumpkin patch. Autumn picked her favorite pumpkin last year. We don’t know if we’ll go to the pumpkin patch this year but I’ll be at her third birthday party for sure.

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This is the park with the Acorn trees. Autumn is in the center of the autumn leaves.

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I would like to conclude this post with one of my favorite song “Autumn Leaves” sung by Matt Monro.

“Autumn Leaves”

The falling leaves

drift by the window.
The autumn leaves of red and gold.
I see your lips

the summer kisses.
The sunburnt hands I used to hold.
Since you went away

the days grow long.
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song.
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall.
Since you went away

the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 106: Autumn

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #102: Quiet Moments

This week, Patti is challenging us to capture “A Quiet Moment.”  Maybe it’s a walk early in the morning or the time you sit down with a book and a cup of coffee.  Include shots captured at home or in your neighborhood, or from a trip to a faraway place months or years ago.

Yesterday was the first time we got together with Hubby’s siblings. They live in a quiet place with neighbors who are acres away. We practiced the social distancing, wearing masks, sitting several feet apart. Hubby and I brought our own food, water, and utensils for lunch. It was surreal that we finally see each other after a time that seems like an eternity. We didn’t have a large family party; we only had a precious quiet lunch with a few members.

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A pair of mourning doves fixed up the old nest on June 5, the female dove came back to lay eggs on June 7. Today, June 22, the dove took a break from her incubation. I stole the chance to take a photo of the nest. One squab was hatched. It’s amazed of how tiny the eggs are. According to my observation during the previous years, the dove would nurture the squabs until they are mature. By the time the squabs are ready to fly, they are as big as the adult doves.

The squabs are quietly growing.

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After I spotted a Monarch and a Swallowtail butterflies in my garden, I looked into cultivating a butterfly garden.

The Monarchs face many risks that are resulting in declining populations in both the eastern and western parts of their North American range. The largest effects come from the loss of habitat for breeding, migrating, and overwintering. In addition, pesticides that are used to control insects and weeds have harmful unintended consequences for monarchs, a changing climate may make some habitat less suitable and forcing changes in migratory patterns, and monarchs face many risks from natural enemies, such as predators, parasitoids, and diseases.

The loss of milkweed in agricultural fields is a major cause of decline in monarchs, though there are other factors contributing to the decline in milkweed availability.

If you’re interested, you can download a Milkweeds: A Conservation Practitioner’s Guide https://www.xerces.org/publications/guidelines/milkweeds-conservation-practitioners-guide

I wanted to create a butterfly garden from seeds. I ordered the California native Narrow leave and Showy milkweed seeds.

The seeds are in quiet germination.

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I wait with anticipation to see more butterflies in my garden.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #102: Quiet Moments

 

 

Sunday Stills: Home is the Happiest Place

The theme for Sunday Stills this week from Terri is: Home. 

As much as we enjoy traveling, I always looked forward to coming home before the trip was over. Perhaps the tours I booked were too vigorous, and I got tired by getting up early or sitting on the bus too much from city to city.

I’m comfortable at home. This morning I spotted a Swallowtail butterfly staying on one flower for twenty minutes. I thought she came to lay eggs. I checked after she was gone. No, she didn’t, but I found a tiny grasshopper only 1/3 inch long. 

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About a dozen mourning doves, many house finches, and sparrows perching on the telephone wires around 4:00 p.m. every day, waiting for me to feed them. A pair of mourning doves came to fix up the old nest on Friday, June 5, and the female dove came back last Sunday to lay eggs. Now she is patiently incubating her young.

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My home is shared by a family of four hummingbirds.

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My home is the happiest place to me!

I’m even happier when I’m at my second home, my daughter’s home. Nothing gives me more joy than being with my granddaughters. So far, I only spent time with my two-and-a-half years old granddaughter, Autumn. I love playing with her and reading to her. I haven’t seen my second granddaughter Nora in person yet because of the coronavirus. I look forward to seeing Autumn and Nora when it’s safe to travel.

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My daughter’s home is the utmost happiest place to me!

I love to hear what make you happiest. It could be something, some place, some people, or something you do.

 

Sunday Stills: Home is the Happiest Place

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #94: At Home

This week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, Amy said, “Due to the lock down, we are spending more time at home. But, hopefully this isn’t limiting our interest in photographing. This week, we invite you to share photos taken at home.”

“When you’re safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; when you’re having an adventure, you wish you were safe at home.” – Thorton Wilder

This is the seventh week staying home for me. Like most of the people, I go out only when it is absolutely necessary. I face each day with the hope to stay healthy to enjoy my grandchildren when the pandemic is over. There are enough things at home to keep my life interesting such as gardening, checking my daughter’s Tinybeans account where she posts the photos of my grandchildren, reading or re-reading paperback books, exercising, and even cooking a couple times a week (my hubby took over the full time cooking when he was retired in 2016. Lucky me!).

Spring is in the air. The buds are all over my 30 rose bushes. I started with 12 pink rose bushes. Eventually I added 10 white iceberg rose bushes, and some orange and yellow roses. Now it’s not so boring looking at the roses.

Most of the plants in my garden are low maintenance. I do have several patches  for annual flowers and this is the time to plant new flowers.

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Nothing gives me greater joy to see the photos of my granddaughters every day.

When weather permits, I go on a walk in the neighborhood. On some other days, I can do yoga at home.

Piles of book for reading and re-reading.

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My new cooking is this Sausage and Vegetable Casserole. One 9″ x 13″ dish last for three alternate days for lunch. On the other four days, hubby cooks his regular lunch.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #94: At Home

 

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #91: Simplicity

Patti Moed invited us to focus on the theme Simplicity this week as the Coronavirus pandemic spreads and intensifies, many of us around the world are spending a lot of time at home, following governmental regulations to shelter in place.

As of April 6, 2020, California has 15,221 cases reported and 351 deaths, according to a New York Times database. The government issued the rules of wearing masks outdoor and when shopping.

 

We have tried our best to stay home and keep things simple. We set up a home gym with workout bench, dumbbells, and treadmill. Hubby has a manikin to practice boxing. He runs in a nearby park. I walk around a nearby lake or in the neighborhood.

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We eat simple food with eggs, avocados, tomatoes, and fruits for breakfast, vegetables and alternate chicken and salmon for dinner. The shopping list is simple, so Hubby only goes once a week for a quick run. I rarely go to the stores.

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To increase physical activity, I do more gardening when weather is clear. I planted some seeds for gladiolus several years ago. They multiplied, and some flowers grew under a grapevine last year, not getting enough space and sunlight to grow. I dug them up last week and transplanted to another area to grow better.

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My daughter has a Tinybeans.com account where she posts photos of her kids and family activities. I checked the account every day to look at the photos and videos. They give me much joy and I look forward to them every day. The daycare is closed, so Autumn stays home. She plays in the backyard, rides her balance bike or skateboard in the nearby park or on the street.

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Stay safe and please share with me in the comment how you maintain simplicity yet keep your life interesting.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #91: Simplicity

 

 

Lens-Artists Challenge #90 – Distance

Tina looked at the “Social Distancing” and invited us to focus on DISTANCE this week as a challenge to serve as a reminder of its importance.

I grew up in a big city and now live in one. When we traveled, it amazed me to realize some people live in a great distance from each other. It made me think that these people do not have the convenience to access many things, things at our fingertips we take for granted. These people also don’t have the luxury or technology city people have. I asked myself why people choose to live in these locations and live in this lifestyle. “Are they happy?” Then the next question is, “What makes people happy?” I think people either have no choice or choose to be content wherever they are and however they live.

 

The first set of photos is the distance in the land.

“Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective, and maybe objectivity.”Robert Morgan

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Longleat in Somerset, UK, is an English Stately home. The house is set in 1,000 acres of parkland with 4,000 acres of let farmland and 4,000 acres of woodland.

 “Ocean separates lands, not souls.” – Munia Khan

Four Miles Beach Port Douglas, AU

Four Mile Beach is considered the premier beach of Port Douglas, Australia, beginning at the northern rocky headland and continuing for four more miles without any buildings or construction interrupting the pristine views.

 “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller

Denali National Park, AL

Denali in Alaska is the highest mountain peak in North America, with a summit elevation of 20,310 feet (6,190 m) above sea level. With a topographic prominence (measures the height of a mountain or hill’s summit relative to the lowest contour line) of 20,156 feet (6,144 m) and topographic isolation ( the minimum great-circle distance to a point of equal elevation) of 4,629 miles (7,450 km).

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The next set of photos is our family practice of social distancing.

Because of the Covid-19, I canceled my flight to be with my daughter, Mercy, for the birth of her second daughter. I planned to be there to watch Autumn while she was in the hospital. They live close to Washington sate which is on the top three states with most Coronavirus cases and death. I live in California which is one of the three states among the top three. It was for the safety that I canceled the flight. If it were not for a dangerous situation, they could have friends volunteer to watch Autumn. Under these circumstances, on Sunday, March 22, my son-in-law was able to take my daughter to the hospital but not staying with her during her labor. They did video chats during her labor. After baby Nora was born, their friends watched Autumn in the afternoon so Will went to the hospital and held Nora in his arms. They continued to do video chats in the next two days. The hospital discharged my daughter on Tuesday. Baby Nora had the first check-up appointment on Thursday.

Mercy and I did video chats and sent video messages to each other. She set up a Tinybeans.com account for her older daughter Autumn. She also posted many photos of the family and Nora on that account. That is the account I don’t miss checking every day. I can’t get enough to look at the photos and videos again and again.

“Distance means so little when someone means so much.” – Tom McNeal

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Happy mother and daughters. I think Autumn read to Nora!!

“I exist in two places, here and where you are.” – Margaret Atwood

2. Autumn practices

Autumn practiced care for the baby in the car seat.

“Love knows not distance; it hath no continent; its eyes are for the stars.” – Gilbert Parker

4. Autumn & Nora

Autumn had Nora on her laps. She was very gentle with Nora.

Let’s do our part and keep social distancing. Stay safe!

 

Lens-Artists Challenge #90 – Distance

 

 

 

New Granddaughter

Yay! I’m a grandma of two granddaughters now!

 

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I visited my daughter Mercy at the end of February. Her friend planned a baby shower on Saturday for her second baby. I arrived on Thursday. Her friend called on Friday to cancel the shower because she was exposed to someone who might have exposed to the Coronavirus. She didn’t want to take the risk to cause any harm to my daughter’s pregnancy.

Mercy has a headache and runny nose. She worried that she might have the virus. Nobody knew exactly the symptoms of the new disease. I didn’t want her to add any worry to her pregnancy. I told her that the Coronavirus may have flu-like symptoms, but not all the flu-like symptoms lead to the new disease.

My son-in-law Will took Autumn out for a bike riding. Mercy and I spent time talking about various things while I gave her a head and shoulder massage. She had a good night sleep and felt better the next morning. She was released that it wasn’t a Coronavirus.
After I came home to southern California, I booked the tickets to fly back on March 24, four days before Mercy’s due day. They needed someone to watch my two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter, Autumn.

On Thursday, March 11, The California Governor announced the social distancing policy that the gatherings should not be over 200 people. By Friday, March 12, the school districts announced closing of the classes. Our church announced cancelling all the meetings, including small group meetings. The world was crumbling down like an avalanche.

On Tuesday, March 17, Mercy and I had a video chat. She said she worried about my health and didn’t want me to get sick from the pandemic. I tried to ease her worry for me and still wanted to go. After talking for a few minutes, I sensed that she also worried that if I got sick, it would affect the babies. I then canceled my trip.

On Sunday, March 22, Mercy went to the hospital at 5:00 a.m. with 7cm dilation. She video called me at 9:00 a.m. before taking a nap. Baby Nora was born at 12:30 p.m. weighted 6 pounds and 7 ounces. Will sent me a couple photos of baby Nora. Mercy video called me again around 1:00 p.m. and chatted.

The doctor discharged her on Tuesday afternoon, even though the baby didn’t eat too much and didn’t have too many pees and poos yet. Because of the Coronavirus, the doctor sent her home with distant support. She called me again on Wednesday when she was feeding the baby. They were thrilled to have Nora.

I later found out that on March 22, they left Autumn at home while she was sleeping. Will dropped off Mercy at the hospital and rushed back home. Will was not with Mercy when baby Nora was born. In the afternoon, their friends watched Autumn for a couple hours so that Will could go see Mercy and the new baby. How I wish to have been there!

Will started taking paternity leaves. When he resumes working, he still works at home because of the Coronavirus. It’s so good to have him working at home in times like these.

 

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #88 – Joyful moments in Chaos

The theme of the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge from Ann-Christine correctly depicted the state of the world at the moment, “Chaos.”

According to Wikipedia, Chaos Theory is defined as “the field of study in mathematics that studies the behavior of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions – a response popularly referred to as the butterfly effect.” In other words, Chaos Theory refers to how meaningful and profound even the most seemingly insignificant things are and teaches us that nothing is trivial.

As of today, Schools in eighteen states in the USA are closed, affecting 20 million students. It does not include some states such as California, because districts closed schools voluntarily so far. Los Angeles Unified School District which is the second largest school district in the US with 734,640 students just announced closing of schools as off Monday, March 16, 2020. I went shopping the last few days. Within a few days, two major stores ran out of paper products, water, cold and flu medicines, can goods, bread and a lot more except some perishable items so far.

The California Governor announced on Thursday, March 12 to stop any gathering over 250 people. Disneyland is closed. Our church with several thousand members stopped all Sunday services and group meetings. Sunday services will continue with online streaming viewing.

My friend Debbie and I signed up to host a Spring Brunch on March 14 as a fundraising activity for the missionaries. After the church announcement, Debbie and I continued with the brunch for the fourteen ladies who purchased the event. Our logic was the gathering had sixteen people and some of them were in a meeting together less than a week ago. None of these ladies had any symptoms of illnesses.

It turned out to be a joyful gathering at Debbie’s beautiful home. We teased each other by giving elbow hugs. The ladies appreciated us for keeping the brunch. They lingered for a long time to chat and enjoy the cozy social time together.

Ann-Christine reminded us that, “Let us focus on the possibilities, staying on the right track. Maybe nothing will be quite the same again – but let’s hope this chaos is the beginning of something new and positive.”

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #88 – Joyful Moments in Chaos

 

 

 

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