Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #127: Precious Moments

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.

We are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.” – Paulo Coelho

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.

Every moment of life is precious and can never happen again and therefore is a reason to appreciate, be grateful for and celebrate the fact that you are alive.” – Zelig Pliskin

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.

But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.” – Thomas Jefferson

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.

Precious moments are small elements of time, we show and share love and kindness, with those we care about.” – Tom Baker

The family of four – from left, Autumn (3 years old), Mercy, Nora (8 months), and Will. Our hearts are together even when we’re apart. We’ll keep in touch with them and will see them very soon.

Thank you for reading!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #127: Precious Moments

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My Favorite Christmas Music/Dance/Movies – White Christmas

This week I present another of my favorite Christmas music/dance/movie

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, October 1954

White Christmas

Plot

Having left the Army following W.W.II, Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) team up to become a top song-and-dance act. Davis plays matchmaker and introduces Wallace to a pair of beautiful sisters (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy Haynes (Vera-Ellen) who also have a song-and-dance act. When Betty and Judy travel to a Vermont lodge to perform a Christmas show, Wallace and Davis follow, only to find their former commander, General Waverly, as the lodge owner, who, they learn, is having financial difficulties; his quaint country inn is failing. So, what’s the foursome to do but plan a yuletide miracle: a fun-filled musical extravaganza that’s sure to put Waverly and his business in the black!

The Story Behind “White Christmas”

The White Christmas first aired during the Kraft Music Hall radio show December 25, 1941. Then-host, Bing Crosby, crooned the carol which is special at the time. Pearl Harbor had been attacked just a few weeks before.

It turns out, the song has a sad back story too. It was written by Irving Berlin, a Russian-born immigrant who did not celebrate Christmas, as he was Jewish.

Berlin’s three-week-old son had died on Christmas day in 1928, so every year on December 25, he and his wife visited their baby’s grave.

He wrote “White Christmas” for a musical that eventually morphed into the movie Holiday Inn and ended up winning an Academy Award for the song. In 1954, it became the title track of another Bing Crosby Christmas musical, White Christmas.

Crosby’s rendition quickly became an American favorite. It was constantly requested by troops during Bing’s USO appearances overseas, which gave the singer some mixed feelings. He didn’t want to come that far to make them sad. For this reason, several times he tried to cut it out of the show, but these guys just hollered for it. Clearly, they identified with the wistful lyrics about holidays at home. Since then, “White Christmas” has been an all-time favorite.

Bing Crosby sings “White Christmas” in Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn, 1942

Bing Crosby & Danny Kaye sing “White Christmas” in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, 1954

The King’s Academy, WPB, FL performed “White Christmas” in February 2018

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #126: An Alphabet Challenge – A: Australia

For this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #126, Patti invited us to go back to basics–namely, the ABC’s. We’re starting at the very beginning with the letter A.  I chose A for Australia.

Australia was my husband, Lynton’s birthplace, and childhood home for 10 years. When we started our travel journey, it was logical that it was our first choice. We like to fly nonstop as much as possible and it was a 17-hour flight from Los Angeles, the longest flight we have had.

Our first visit was to tour the Sydney Opera House. I was especially interested in the design and the structure. From the tour I learned that 233 designers submitted the designs for the Opera House international design competition held in 1956. Jørn Utzon from Denmark was the winner, receiving ₤5000 for his design. There are over 1 million roof tiles covering approximately 1.62 hectares sitting over the structure. They were made in Sweden. Besides the tour, we watched an opera available during our visit.

The Sydney Harbor bridge opened in 1932. It is the tallest steel arch bridge in the world, measuring 134 meters (440 feet) from the top to water level. It spans about 500 meters (1,650 feet). You can walk and cycle across the bridge. We joined the guided tour to climb the Bridge. We wore the special hooded suit that wrapped around us with nothing loose outside the suit.  There were belts and connecting straps buckled on to each climber of a group and each climber had hooks attaching to the steel railing leading to the top of the bridge. The view on top of the Bridge was breathtaking. It was a climb of a lifetime.

Lynton’s aunt and uncle lived in New South Wales which is less than a two-hour drive from Sydney. They took us to Blue Mountain, and we went down to the visitor area that provided a spectacular view to the Jamison Valley below the Three Sisters.

We went to Koala Park Sanctuary in Sydney. Koalas are cute and calm creatures. They could cling on to the tree trunks for a long time without moving. We had photos taken with a koala at a photo booth.

Koorana Crocodile Farm was established by John and Lilian Lever and was open in 1981. It was the first crocodile farm in Queensland. The person at the gift shop told us that the average heart rate of crocodile is 9.8 beats per minute, and it can reduce to 2–3 beats per minute to save energy as reduced cellular respiration. Crocodiles do not have sweat glands and release heat through their mouths. They often sleep with their mouths open.

We flew from Sydney to Cairns and rented another car. At Cairns, Lynton went diving in the Great Barrier Reef. Most of the corals lost the colors due to climate change. The dive was his highlight of the trip. I don’t dive but had a pleasant boat ride and a spectacular view of the ocean. We drove north to Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation before flying back to Sydney to return home.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #126: An Alphabet Challenge–A: Australia

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My Favorite Christmas Music/Dance/Movies

When I was teaching, my Christmas field trip was taking the students to watch the stage performance of The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. After I left the classroom, instead of driving to see the performance, I kept the tradition by watching The Nutcracker movie at home.

All the ballet pieces in The Nutcracker are beautiful. I chose two versions of the following dance.

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker (The Royal Ballet 2017) 2:39 minutes

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker (Bolshoi Ballet 2010) 3:31 minutes, the dance finished at 2:47 minutes

Do you like it? Which version do you prefer?

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Lens-Artists Challenge #125 – Save the Ocean

This week it’s all up to us – Tina asked us to choose our subject and to share whatever it is about it that we find interesting. 

I’m always interested in our planet earth. April 22 this year marked the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970. For this post, I would like to reflect on what oceans mean to us and the part we play to save the ocean.

Oceans are the lifeblood of our planet and all the creatures that live there. They cover nearly three-quarters of the earth and hold 97% of our planet’s water. We depend on the oceans for the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and even the products that keep us warm, safe, informed, and entertained. Ocean water can give our brain and senses a rest from overstimulation, get into a mindful state, and trigger insights and ideas. It also inspires us to be more compassionate and connected.

“There’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.” – Sarah Kay

A morning walk with some lady friends on Huntington Beach, California.

“The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides, and, in its depths, it has its pearls too.” – Vincent van Gogh

My husband dived in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. His diving buddy took the photo.

“The sea knows no limits, makes no concessions. It has given us everything and it can take everything away from us.” – John Ajvide Lindqvist

Our last trip to Maui, Hawaii, on the way to Road to Hana.

“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.” – William James

We loved to visit Makena Beach, Maui, Hawaii.

“Dance with the waves, move with the sea, let the rhythm of the water set your soul free.” — Christy Ann Martine

This was one of the surfers paradise day with waves at 10 feet high at Newport Beach, California.

“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul.” – Robert Wyland

I was so excited to see the school of dolphins swam under our diving boat in North Carolina.

“Like the ocean that remains calm in its depths even when waves rage over its surface, and like the sun that continues shining on high even during storms, we can at each moment create value and develop our state of life, enjoying our existence to the fullest in times of both suffering and joy.” –Daisaku Ikeda

Our first day of the Ensenada cruise on the North Pacific Ocean.

Ocean Threats and Solutions

Human Activities are threatening the health of the world’s oceans. More than 80 percent of marine pollution comes from land-based activities. From coral bleaching to sea level rise, entire marine ecosystems are rapidly changing. Global warming is causing alterations in ocean chemistry and many oceanic processes, and it is threatening many species of marine animals that cannot cope with higher temperatures. Overfishing is a serious problem in many parts of the world.

Conservationists advocate creating expansive marine reserves to protect the biodiversity of the oceans. We can play our part to reduce carbon dioxide, use reusable instead of single-use plastic products, properly dispose of hazardous materials, use less fertilizer, pick up garbage and littler near beaches, and buy ocean-friendly products and eat sustainable seafood – Sustainable seafood guide.

The Economist Group’s World Ocean Initiative asked Sir David Attenborough and four other leading thinkers on ocean conservation how they would invest $1 billion to protect the ocean.

YouTube June 8, 2020 12:11 minutes

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Lens-Artists Challenge #125 – Save the Ocean

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My Multitalented Muse

Fantasy, Fee, Flower, Meadow, Leaves, Wing, Magic
Images by Willgard at Pixabay

“You have a post to write for Diana’s prompt,” my muse said.

“I remember. I’ll do it when I get home from the walk,” me said.

“You can do both, walking and writing on your phone.”

“I know, it’s not the first time. I haven’t decided what to write, though. I took several days off from writing.”

“You’re supposed to write about your conversation with me. So just write what we’ve said so far and continue.”

“Okay… now I must slow down my walk. Good thing it hardly has any traffic in the neighborhood. I still ought to be careful. One eye on the phone, one eye on the road… alright, I’ve done this much. Then what?”

“Let me paint you a picture.”

“What are you talking about? I’m the in-house artist. Besides, we’re walking. How can you paint?”

“I’ll show you, just wait.”

“I see. There are words.”

“Exactly. Does it look like anything you know?”

“Well, half of it resembles something I remember and half of it looks disaster.”

“Remember now?”

“Remember what?”

“Of what it looks like…”

“The only thing I could think of is what I did for NaNoWriMo in 2017.”

“What happened?”

“Well, I didn’t write for days over the holidays but still wanted to reach the word count. I kept writing without the coherent plot.”

“What happened after that?”

“I put it in a folder, one of my many writing folders.”

“Are you going to do something about it?”

“I’m too busy to pick it up right now.”

“I know. You’re halfway through another project but kept going back to the beginning. Why?”

“I’m editing from the beginning.”

“Aren’t you supposed to finish the entire book before editing?”

“Well, I just need some satisfaction of polishing a few chapters and call them semi-done.”

“Don’t wait for too long before writing a new chapter.”

“I’ve been busy with another project as well.”

“I know. I’ve been helping you.”

“You have? What did you do?”

“Come on, be sensible. Didn’t I help you with the description of the book cover?”

“The last thing was the description of the children’s book cover for the illustrator. I thought I had given him a description.”

“You gave him a sketch of the book cover suggestion. He needed a description. You can’t assume what you see is the same as what he sees in the sketch.”

“Sorry for being absentminded. You helped to make some bullet points for him. Did he get the idea now?”

“I don’t know. You must wait for him to send you the sketch to see if your bullet points made sense to him. I can’t read his mind over the internet. I can’t talk to him either. He is in Ukraine.”

“Now what?”

“He would do unlimited revision, wouldn’t he? He did for many pages so far.”

“It took a year to find someone to work with. Three gigs failed me. The last one waited a month to tell me his grandfather died. I wonder how many times his grandfather died. This gig is busy, but at least he spends some time on my project.”

“I hope this gig’s grandfather won’t die too soon.”

“He put a lot of work into it. I don’t think he wants me to cancel the order, or he cancels on me at this point.”

“Fingers crossed.”

“Well, mate. We’re home.”

“Isn’t it a perfect timing? Now, just email the notes to yourself.”

“I can do that at the front porch. Until next time, my walking buddy.”

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For Diana W. Peach – My Multitalented Muse

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Lens-Artists Challenge #124 – Now and Then

Happy Thanksgiving from Beach Ford! | Beach Ford

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.

Toledo, Spain

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.

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Lens Artists Challenge # 124: Now and Then

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Lens-Artists Challenge #123 – Found in the Neighborhood

This week for Lens-Artists Challenge #123, Ann-Christine invited us to look at our neighborhood and see what we can find regardless of being trapped in our Covid19 bubbles.

It has been a while since we last walked around Laguna Lake which is within walking distance from our home. The weather in the last several months has been crazy with record breaking heat, stubborn fires, and a sharp drop of temperature with pouring rain. We had no other options exception staying home especially under the restriction of Covid-19.

After the cold spell, the temperature warmed up to 89oF this afternoon.  The trail around the lake is only ¾ mile. We walked around it twice. The waterfowls normally migrate in the winter but it’s not cold enough yet. They are still around in the afternoon sun. When the Egyptian geese first came to Laguna Lake, they only showed up occasionally. A year ago, they decided to make the lake their home.

The lake was built in the early 1900s as a watering hole for livestock. The lake originally was up to 11 feet deep, by the mid-1990s, had decreased to 5 feet as years of sludge piled up. In September 2004, the renovation started with the funding of $2 million grant from the California Coastal Conservancy, because the muck from the lake drained to the ocean after storms.

In the process of draining the lake, the workers discovered a monster, known to locals as Old Bob, who turned out to be a 100-pound alligator snapping turtle.

When the restoration completed in 2006, the lake was restocked with 1,000 trout, bass, catfish, and bluegill. Anybody with a fishing license can cast a line into the lake, but only the trout are large enough to keep.

Today, Laguna Lake Park is a pleasant park for joggers, hikers, bikers, horse riders, fishing, picnic, parents walking with their kids or baby in the strollers, or owners walking with their pets.

Home owners by the lake built staircases to have easy access to the lake.

524-Laguna Lake – Fullerton,CA – Where In The World Is Scott
Old Bob, Google Image
Fullerton asks: Why is Laguna Lake leaking, and how can it be stopped? –  Orange County Register
Old Bob, Google Image

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Lens-Artists Challenge #123 – Found in the Neighborhood

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Fiction in a Flash Challenge Week #24 – The Odds

This is Weekly “Fiction in a Flash Challenge” Week #24. Each week Suzanne Burke will be featuring an image and inviting us to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing. Maximum word count: 750 words.

Here is the week #24 Image Prompt.

people-3120717_1920
Image by skalekar1992 from Pixabay

The Odds

“Christmas is around the corner. My parents are hosting the family gathering this year. My mom is sending out invitations to all our extended family. It will be 58 people if they all could come,” Margaret said.

“How often do your parents host the Christmas party?” Darin asked.

“Once every five years. My mom has four siblings married with children. My dad has one sister. They live all over the country. My grandparents live close by.”

“Most of you aunts and uncles are from the same family. It sounds cozy.”

“My mom wants you to come.”

“Of course, I’ll come. We have a small family. Just my parents, three sets of aunts and uncle, my grandparents, and me. I should spend Christmas morning with them. I’ll come in the early afternoon. Is it okay?”

“Sure, the party will be all day long.”

“I’ll be away for a few days after Christmas.”

“Where’re you going?”

“It’s a long story. Well, I have to tell you, eventually. My parents shared something with me a year ago. My dad said he couldn’t give children to my mom. He suggested having sperm donation at a fertility clinic. My mom agreed. In fact, he went with my mom for the insemination.  My dad waited for my mom’s procedure. I felt awkward that my dad is not my dad. I mean, I don’t have his genes. It doesn’t matter now. He’s my only dad. They said that having children through using donated eggs, sperm or embryos are common alternatives for couples who have infertility problem to have their biological children.”

“Oh, thank you for telling me. I got something to tell you. But tell me more.”

“My dad suggested I had a DNA test to locate the sperm donor because it was anonymous at the time of the process. Not that he wanted me to meet him, but just didn’t want to leave it as a mystery.”

“Did you do it? What did you find out?”

“I did the DNA test. Unfortunately, I found out something shocking and wished it wasn’t true.”

“What was it?”

“The DNA pointed to a doctor who used his own sperm to help around 600 women conceived. Someone started a website calling people to do DNA test to find out if this doctor was their sperm donor. The guy of the website says these 600 people were literally half-siblings. The purpose of the identification was that people who have this doctor as the sperm donor won’t end up getting married. The risk that two of the offspring may meet unknowingly and start a family of their own, which could cause serious genetic problems in their children.”

“Oh, no.”

“What’s the problem? What’s wrong?”

“My mom told me when I turned 18, that she had me from a sperm donor. She also asked me to take a DNA test to identify the donor.”

“Oh gosh, what were the odds we met?”

 “Why will you be away after Christmas?”

“Among the people responded, five of them, two men and three women, who live in the neighboring states would like to meet. After all, they are… we are half-siblings. We just want to meet and talk. Did you find out the name of the donor?”

“Yes, the last name is Vardags. He was an Oxford law student at that time, and he only made one donation. What’s the name of your donor?”

“It was Dr. Bertold Wiesner. Oh, gosh, I’m so relieved. I don’t want to call you my sister. I want you to be my wife.”

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Fiction in a Flash Challenge Week #24 – The Odds

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Breaking News

I don’t normally post local or international news, but I just made an exception.

(CNN) Drugmaker Pfizer said Monday an early look at data from its coronavirus vaccine shows it is more than 90% effective — a much better than expected efficacy if the trend continues.

By Nadia Kounang, CNN Updated 11:08 AM ET, Mon November 9, 2020

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNN that Pfizer expects to have 50 million vaccine doses globally this year, and 1.3 billion in 2021. Continue reading…

(The world population in 2020 is 7.8 billion.)

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