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
“Rise above the storm and you will find the sunshine.” – Mario Fernandez
“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
“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
“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
“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
This week, the theme from Sheetalbravon is ‘A Glimpse into your world’. She invited us toshow 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.
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.
Chinese New Year begins on Friday, February 12, 2021.It is the year of Ox. The holiday was traditionally a time to honor household and heavenly deities and ancestors. It was also a time to bring the family together for feasting.
When I was a kid, my favorite family time was Chinese New Year. We had one week off from school and my dad had five days off from work. On New Year’s Eve, Flower Markets took place in major parks. They were open from early evening to 5:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day.
One year, I went to the Flower Market with my older sister and her boyfriend. We lived in western side on the Hong Kong island, and took the tram to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. By the time we finished walking through the entire market, there was no tram in operation until morning. We followed the tram track and took one hour and thirty minutes to walk home.
I was half asleep even though my feet were moving with one hand holding my sister’s and other hand holding something she bought me. I dropped the bag on the ground many times, bent down, picked it up and continued walking on autopilot.
By the time we got home, my mom had made special food as part of the Chinese New Year ritual. I liked sweet rice balls. We ate and went to sleep for a few hours. On New Year’s Day, everyone put on new clothing. Kids would say “Gung Hei Fat Choi” (Wishing you prosperous) to the parents and adults. My parents and the adults in the neighborhood gave us kids Lucky Money in red envelopes. It was the tradition for the married people to give Lucky Money to the kids and unmarried adults. We visited our relatives on the second, fourth, and fifth day. Kids loved that because we could keep all our Lucky Money.
We anticipated with excitement on the 3rd day. There were three activities became our family tradition. In the morning we went to Tiger Balm Garden, which was a private mansion and garden that eventually became a public garden. After Tiger Balm Garden, we went to the Botanic Arboretum, and visited the Governor’s Garden, which was open to the public during Chinese New Year.
Being able to spend five holidays with my parents was the best thing for me as a kid.
Why Chinese New Year is on a different date each year?
Chinese New Year is based on the ancient Chinese lunar calendar. It functioned as a religious, dynastic, and social guide. Oracle bones inscribed with astronomical records show the calendar existed as early as 14th century B.C. when the Shang Dynasty was in power.
A lunar calendar is based on the monthly cycles of the Moon’s phases, with the new moon being the first of the month and full moon the middle of the month.
Each lunation is approximately 29 1⁄2 days. The lunar calendar alternates between 29 and 30 days a month and an average of 354 days a year.
The Gregorian calendar has an average of 365.25 days a year, and therefore 365 days a year with 366 days in a leap year every four years.
Approximately every three years (7 times in 19 years), a leap month is added to the Chinese calendar. To determine when, we find the number of new moons between the 11th month in one year and the 11th month in the following year. A leap month is inserted if there are 13 New Moon from the start of the 11th month in the first year to the start of the 11th month in the next year.
Chinese New Year usually begins when the new moon occurs between January 21 and February 20, and it lasts about 15 days until the full moon arrives with the Festival of Lanterns.
The Legend of Chinese New Year celebration
According to Chinese mythology, a Nian is a beast lived under the sea or in the mountains. It was unclear whether the Nian was an authentic folk mythology or a local oral tradition. Some sources cited it resembled a lion’s head with a dog’s body. Towards the end of winter, on Chinese New Year’s Eve, the Nian came out to feed on crops and sometime children. All the villagers hid from the beast. One year, an old man came to the village. On the New Year’s Eve, after the villagers escaped, he put red papers up and set off firecrackers to drive off the creature. The next day, the villagers came back to their town and saw that nothing was destroyed. They later found out the old man discovered the Nian was afraid of red and loud noises. It became the tradition the villagers celebrated the New Year wearing red clothes, hanging red lanterns, and red scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian.
Chinese New Year Traditions and Symbols
The Chinese New Year is a time of change and new beginnings, wearing something new is a symbol of removing the old and welcoming the new. Red is the color for celebrating any happy occasion, as it represents prosperity and good luck.
Lucky Money Red Envelopes The married people give the Lucky Money red envelopes to children or unmarried adults to bless them with good luck/fortune and happiness/abundance.
Plum and Peach Blossoms
People decorate their homes with fruit blossoms to symbolize a plentiful crop in the new year. Peach blossoms symbolize long life, romance, and prosperity.
The homophone of the Chinese word ‘fish’ is the same as the word for ‘surplus’ inferring more than enough. By hanging up fish decorations or eat fish, people hope the New Year will bring wealth and prosperity.
Tangerines and Oranges
Both fruits symbolize abundant happiness. The homophone of ‘tangerine’ is the same for the word ‘luck’ and the homophone of ‘orange’ sounds the same as the word for ‘wealth’. When visiting family and friends, it is a custom to take a gift bag of oranges or tangerines.
Rice-cake — Progression or Promotion
Glutinous rice cake is a lucky food eaten on Chinese New Year’s Eve. This is play on words to infer “getting higher year after year.” It can imply children’s height, rise in business success, better grades in study, or promotions at work.
Sweet Rice Balls — Family Togetherness
The homophone of ‘ball’ and round shape are associated with reunion and being together. They are favorite food during the New Year celebrations.
I hope you enjoyed finding out something interesting!
I love landscape painting and chose this as Sue’s sample paintings.
Sue has been a caretaker of her son for 11+ years since he suffered from the traumatized attack. Besides the challenge, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. This is the time she would appreciate the support when she can’t run full speed because of the side effect and the exhaustion from the treatment, plus the impact from the Covid pandemic.
Carrot Rach has created a Rodeo Classic to orchestrate the support event. It calls for a 99-words flash fiction contest. To take part, you write a flash fiction story of 99 words or a poem of 99 syllables, using the photo prompt at Carrot Ranch to find the “Hidden” Inspiration, and enter the contest using a form on the post, then you’d be invited take part in a small donation to support Sue.
“Each story needs to have a beginning, middle and end. Poems must have distinctive theme, movement, and rhythm; no rhyme scheme is necessary, but neither will rhyme be punished…” – H.R.R.
There is a $100 grand prize and five runners up will each receive one paperback from Sue’s collection of published books (those who live in a region where the paperback is unavailable may receive an e-Book instead).
The contest will close at midnight on Friday, February 19, 2021. Winning entries will be announced and read at CarrotRanch.com/blog on March 22, 2021.
I hope you would participate and enjoy the fun!
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You may find Books by Sue Vincent and those written with Stuart France available in paperback and for Kindle via Amazon.
This week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #131, Patti invited us to focus on Emotion. We choose the photography or a theme that evokes emotions. I could think of many situations for this theme, but for this post, I narrowed down to a couple of thoughts.
The latest excitement for us was on January 3, less than three weeks ago, when my husband Lynton turned 65. He retired in November 2016 and had an extension of health insurance for another 18 months, and then just paid cash for prescriptions without paying the premium for full coverage. He started the Medicare on the first of this year. It has been less than three weeks, but he had a Zoom visit with a family doctor, got all the prescriptions filled, and made all the other doctors’ appointments to establish a baseline of his health. He was like a kid in a candy store.
My friends and I arranged a surprised birthday party at their house for him. I told him they invited us for brunch but hearing me talking on the phone and running to the store; he wanted to know what was going on. I’m not good in keeping a secret, so I told him it was a surprised party. He had to act as if he was surprised to see the guests.
There were eight of us meeting at our friends’ patio. We didn’t go to any parties for ten months and were hungry for chatting with friends of thirty years. We were in no hurry to finish the meal. Even when we did, we continued to talk, and the party lasted for four and a half hours.
My daughter Mercy, and her husband Will, enjoy outdoor adventures. They regularly go cross-country skiing, camping, kayaking, to name just a few. They are in good company with a core group of friends who have the same passion. In June 2015, Mercy, Will, and their friend took part in the triathlon–swimming, biking, and running. Two other friends who didn’t enter the race but rode their bikes along the trail to cheer them. Will kept Mercy in sight all the time. The last leg was running, and they ran side by side. At the last stretch they were holding hands, pushed through the finish line together. Their proud smiles were ear to ear.
Friends came with signs of cheering messages. It was my honor to be there to join the cheering team and photographed the event.
In early 2017, I had a strong emotion connection with Mercy and sensed that she was pregnant. She didn’t say too much when we talked on the phone. In February, I couldn’t withhold my feeling and asked if she was pregnant. She changed the subject. My husband and I scheduled to visit them late in March, but early in the month, she and Will skyed us and showed us the ultrasound. She was going to surprise us during our visit, but their excitement couldn’t wait for another two weeks.
It is a blessing for them to have two adorable and intelligent girls. The three-year-old Autumn is a toddler nerd. She started reading by herself in her bedroom when she was 15 months old. For the first two years, she preferred books than toys. She now loves to play with problem-solving toys. Like parents, like daughter, she is a daring rock climber, hiker, and biker. She is her mom’s proud helper in cooking. Nora is an all time happy child with a biggest smile.
This week, as we are approaching the end of 2020, Amy invited us to share some of the precious moments we have had, before or during the pandemic.
I love travel. I know I won’t return to many places I had been and always treasure the experiences of being there and seeing those places. Yet if I must choose between travel and spend time with family and friends, I choose the latter. It is the relationship that makes the moments precious.
Our family photo which was taken in 2006. One young girl on the left got married a few years ago and now has a baby daughter. The other one on the left just got married last month. The three little ones are in college. Lynton’s dad, second from the right, died 12 years ago.
Eight years ago, we took our family trip to China and stopped by Hong Kong to see my family. Seven of us were in the middle of this photo, with my siblings and their families on the left and right sides. Will’s mom (behind Will, in green) died three years after the trip. My sister, third from right, died last year when we were in Hong Kong for my nephew’s wedding.
This is a group of my lovely lady friends celebrating Christmas in 2019. We missed each other tremendously.
“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” — Elisabeth Foley
Many of my friends and I were in this chorale last year singing in the annual performance of Messiah. The past weekend would have been the usual schedule for the performance. It didn’t happen this year.
“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” – George Moore
This precious photo was taken with my daughter Mercy and granddaughter Autumn last year. We cancelled our trip this year because the Covid cases were worse than when it started.
This week Amy invited us to reflect on our time staying at home mostly due to the pandemic, compared to what happened to our life prior to this situation. What happened then, and what happened now?
“Eventually all things fall into place. Until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moments, and know everything happens for a reason.” — Albert Schweitzer
It has been over eight months since COVID-19 hit. Did time go by fast?
It did not; it was like forever. The second week of March was difficult to be confined at home. I wanted to run outside to do something. I wanted to shout or talk to someone. It was boring to do the same things day after day. There were no special events such as travel, movies, family and social gathering, birthdays, or holidays to punctuate the different seasons. As time went by, I accepted the new normal and set up my new routine. In fact, I appreciated the concentrated time to do certain tasks without interruption. Even when the social distancing was relaxed, I was not ready to take risk except going to see my granddaughters with great caution.
On the other hand, time went by fast. This one enormous bubble of a single day was in fact eight months long. Yet, it will not last forever. History told us that this will end. I will do my part to observe the safety regulation. I will stay safe and keep healthy, so when this is over, I can fully enjoy my family.
We had been doing major traveling since 2000, went to Australia, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Germany, Austria, Spain, and China, to name some countries. We didn’t go anywhere except Portland to see Mercy and her family. I spend a lot of time gardening.
Thanksgiving is our major family gathering time. Two sister-in-laws and I took turns to host the Thanksgiving dinner. Mercy and her family came to California to join us. Two weeks ago, California, Oregon, and Washington jointly announced a new restriction. Upon arriving in Oregon, we would have to be self-quarantine for 14 days. The new spikes of cases spread throughout the country, it is worse than March when the pandemic started. Hubby and I will spend the holiday just the two of us, and cook a 15-pound turkey, eat some and freeze some for later.
Autumn had a big birthday party with many friends her age in 2019. We are not big cake eaters. Autumn had a birthday pie. This year, she had a smaller birthday party in the front yard serving a cake to her friends and aunties and uncles. They came in masks keeping the social distancing.
Nora is growing fast. The first two years of a kid’s life is the fast growing period in proportion to the remaining of one’s life. When I visited her in August, she was not sitting up yet. She turned eight months two days ago. She is now sitting up and enjoys eating many mashed veggies.
This week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #122, we are excited to have Ann as the guest host. Ann invited us to look at the theme, “The Sun Will Come out Tomorrow.”
I follow the theme to meditate on the sun will come out tomorrow. This thought also led me to contemplate the idea that on a cloudy day, the sun is shining bright in the sky even when we don’t see it.
“What I know for sure is that every sunrise is like a new page, a chance to right ourselves and receive each day in all its glory. Each day is a wonder.” – Opera Winfrey
When something went wrong, instead of spending too much time asking why it happened, I found myself asking, “What should we do next?” It’s valuable to assess what went wrong so we could avoid making the same mistake. Staying in the pity pit for too long and we could be drowned.
“Hope abides; therefore, I abide. Hope abides; therefore, I bide. Countless frustrations have not cowed me. I am still alive, vibrant with life. The black cloud will disappear, the morning sun will appear once again in all its supernal glory.” – Sri Chinmoy
On one Maui trip, we drove up to the Haleakalā or the East Maui Volcano. The tallest peak of Haleakalā (“house of the sun”), at 10,023 feet (3,055 m), is Puʻu ʻUlaʻula (Red Hill). Halfway up the mountain, the black clouds gathered, and it started to rain. We droved past the low clouds. I saw the bright sun in the clear sky. It was an experience I never forget. How often do I stay below to see the black cloud and forget the sun is still there even though I don’t see it at the moment? The similar experience applied to traveling on the plane. I could see the sun above the fluffy black clouds.
“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Some people say they don’t have any pleasant memories in their lives. I wonder if we could create a good memory today. When tomorrow come, we would have one day of good memory. It’s like making a deposit of one positive day at a time to the “Good Memory” bank.
“Grace comes into the soul as the morning sun into the world: there is first a dawning, then a mean light, and at last the sun in his excellent brightness.” – Thomas Adams
My husband Lynton said to me, “I kiss you and tell you ‘I love you’ before we go to bed every night because I don’t know if we would die asleep. I hold you tight in the morning because I’m happy that we are alive to welcome a new day.”
“Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.” – Helen Keller
There’s no doubt we have shadows in our life, the matter is our choice. We choose to face the sun and focus on the energy that carry us through the darkness.
This week, at the Lens-Artists Challenge community,Tinashared with us her thinking behind the theme: “There are many terrible aspects of the COVID 19 pandemic, too numerous to count really. On the other hand, there are a few positives as well. This week I experienced the latter – which in the spirit of Halloween week here in the U.S., I am calling ‘quite a treat.'”
Visiting my family is always an enjoyment, but our last trip was surely a treat to me and my husband.
When Autumn was born, I flew to Portland, Oregon once a month to spend time with her and my daughter Mercy. After her first birthday, I went every six weeks. Being an educator, watching her growth and learning unique skills was an amazement. In March this year, because of the Covid, I cancelled my trip when Mercy gave birth to Nora. Eventually, I took a trip to meet Nora five months after she was born. As to my husband, Lynton, his last time being with Autumn was January 2019 when we took a family trip to Hong Kong and Japan.
Early this month, it was a real treat to me and Lynton to visit Mercy’s family and spend time with Autumn and Nora.
Autumn was attached to Lynton right away. She came into my room to wake me up gently every morning and said, “Where is grandpa?” “I think he went to the store to get a newspaper,” I said. She wanted Lynton to read to her, doing puzzles and other projects with her.
Nora grew so fast. She loved to smile and make distinct sounds. Lynton enjoyed interacting with her.
I took tons of photos, of course!
We did many activities, even though it was limited by the Covid. We went to a pumpkin farm. Autumn visited the cows, goats, and pigs. She and Daddy went on a hayride, train ride, and jumped on a giant bouncing bed.
We went to the school playground across the street from my daughter’s house. We went on a walk in the neighborhood. Three nights in a row, we played board games after the kids went to bed.
What a Treat!
Taking family photo is a challenge to get the kids look at the camera.
The rain stopped when we arrived at the pumpkin farm and the rainbow appeared.
Reading and cuddling
“I want grandma to get in.”
We played Yahtzee, Scrabble, and a detective game. I’m as competitive as Mercy and Will.
Autumn’s new favorite is the geometric block patterns. She knows the names such as hectogon and trapezoid.
Autumn is a loving big sister. When Nora fusses, she would pat her, hug her, and bring her a toy. She can hardly wait to run around with Nora.
Reading and learning through playing are important for the kid’s growth and development. Mercy and Will read to the kids from the beginning of their lives.
Our next visit to them is Thanksgiving. We look very much forward to it.
This week for Lens-Artists Challenge, Tina invited us to explore the theme of Inspiration. I could name many aspects around are my inspiration. I finally decided on three for this post.
Gardening is my hobby and my joy. My life is enriched by the inspiration from gardening. There are several basic things for a healthy garden. 1) Good soil. I started a butterfly garden and vegetable garden this year. Several sections have heavy clay soil. I dug at least one foot, soaked the soil and drained, mixed in several inches of organic soil. Use the correct amount of fertilizer periodically. 2) Watering. Test the daily watering to ensure the soil is moist, not just wet on the surface. 3) Proper planting space. The full-grown milkweed will be several feet in diameter in the butterfly garden, whereas the Zinnias are several feet tall but several inches wide. 4) Trimming the withered limbs according to different plants by season or regularly.
Learning from gardening, I need to continuously cleanse, nourish, and make changes to my mind, my heart, and my action to be a healthy person.
Traveling gave me the opportunity to see the wonderful nature near and far. We were at awe with the vast Denali wildness in Alaska, over 10,000 hydrothermal features such as geysers, hot springs, mud pots, travertine terraces, and fumaroles in Yellowstone, and four active volcanos in Hawaii, to name just a few.
Nature comes in all shapes and forms, all kinds of temperature, and different colors as reflected in our human life.
The maternal instinct in the animal kingdom was my inspiration and touches my heart at the deep spot. Humpback whales migrate farther than any other mammal on earth. They can travel around 3,000 miles between their breeding and feeding grounds regularly. During the migration with the newborn, the female Humpback would lift the calf above the water for it to breathe. The female and the calf are caressing each other constantly for affection.
A nest in my front porch was a cradle for four births of baby Mourning doves. The dove eggs are smaller than chicken eggs. I observed the female doves lay two eggs at a time. It takes about 35 days after hatching for the baby doves to fly. Last year, one baby was ready to fly and left the nest. The female dove left for a while but came back in the evening to stay with the second baby, kept him warm until he was ready to fly. The bigger baby also came to keep the little brother company. Then they flew away together.
Even though I was not able to be a stay-home mom when my daughter was a baby, I’m now a big fan of stay-home moms for them to treasure and enjoy those precious moments.