Tag Archives: Garden

Anniversary Trip

Lynton and I celebrate our anniversary this week. We have been in Santa Barbara since Monday, August 16 and will stay until the 20th. Even though we’ve visited our granddaughters in Portland, Oregon several times during the last eighteen months, as far as vacation, this is the first vacation in almost two years.

Our original plan was to go to Banff, Canada, for our anniversary, but because of the pandemic, we had to change the plan. Santa Barbara is only a two-hour drive from home. The last time we came to Santa Barbara on a train probably was twenty years ago.

We decided to drive this time so that it would be more flexible to go to nearby places. Two days before the trip, I listed of the information of the places to visit. So far, we’re on schedule. We have walked around Santa Barbara downtown, visited the Old Mission, and the Botanical Garden. Today, we drove to Solvang which is forty-five minutes away. Tomorrow, we’ll visit the Natural History Museum and the butterfly garden.

After we return home on Friday, I’ll rest on Saturday. My next trip will go to Portland, Oregon from Sunday, August 22 to Saturday, September 4. I’ll help my daughter to take care of my granddaughters, but basically just take care of Nora. My daughter got a job and started working already. Knowing that I would take a trip for our anniversary, she asked me to go afterwards. She needs me to help until Nora goes to the daycare on September 7th, the day after Labor Day.

I have a couple of posts scheduled for the next two weeks. I’ll also post some news about Autumn and Nora, and try to pop in to check your blogs every so often.

The following photos are Downtown Santa Barbara and our first dinner there.

The drought affects all the plants in the Botanical Garden. The creek is as dry as the dessert.

Santa Barbara Harbor boat docks

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

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Lens-Artists Challenge #149 – Blue and Green Peacocks

This week Tina is returning to the color wheel and its cooler members, which include blue (primary) green (secondary) and blue-green or blue-violet aka purple (tertiary). 

When I think of this group of colors, my first thought took me to the post last week in which I included one photo of the peacock. This week I wanted to return to the Los Angeles County Arboretum to share with you what I learned about the history of the Arboretum, the original owner of the land, and the origin of the peacocks in the United States.

Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin (April 3, 1828 – March 1, 1909) was one of the greatest pioneers of California business, an investor, and real estate speculator during the second half of the 19th century. He earned the nickname “Lucky” Baldwin due to his extraordinary good fortune in a number of business deals.

Baldwin was born in Hamilton, Ohio in 1828, the fourth of 14 children. At age 18, he married a neighbor girl named Sarah Ann Unruh and started to farm and train horses. In 1853, at the height of the California Gold Rush, he decided to relocate to California. He joined a large wagon train in Iowa. During the five-month journey, he got lost and save by friendly Native Americans who brought him back to the wagon train. He made a fortune during his remaining wagon journey and became a key player in the San Francisco Stock Exchange. His building materials were used to construct the U.S. Mint, Fort Point and the fort of Alcatraz Island.

In 1875, Baldwin moved to Southern California, purchased Rancho Santa Anita and constructed its buildings and grounds. With cash in hand, he opened the original Santa Anita Park racetrack, a few blocks east of its current location, in what is now Arcadia Park.

Baldwin was married four times. When he married his fourth wife, Lillie Bennett, the Queen Anne Cottage was built at the location where the Arboretum is as a honeymoon present by Lillie’s father.

During the 1890s, his wealth diminished, but Baldwin maintained an interest in horse racing and poker. His wife Lillie and his daughters Anita Baldwin McClaughry and Clara Baldwin Stocker were among many relatives and friends at his side when he died at the Arcadia ranch on March 1, 1909.

The Arboretum began in 1947 with California and Los Angeles jointly purchasing 111 acres to create an arboretum around the Baldwin site. The first greenhouse was constructed, and the first 1,000 trees were planted. In 1956 the Arboretum was open to the public. Construction and renovation of both greenhouses and gardens continued.

In addition to the gardens, the arboretum is home to a flock of some 200 peacocks, which are descendants of original birds imported by Baldwin from India. The peacock is a symbol of the city of Arcadia. The first record of peacock in what is now the United States was the introduction by Frances Sinclair on Kauai, Hawaii, in 1860. However, the first reported introduction into the continental United States occurred in 1879, when Elias J. Baldwin brought 3 pairs to his vast ranch in the San Gabriel Valley of California. Currently, peacocks can be found throughout neighborhoods surrounding the arboretum.

Queen Anne Cottage

The cottage was constructed in 1885-1886 for Baldwin and his third wife, Lillie Bennett, the daughter of the cottage’s architect Albert A. Bennett. Upon Elias J. Baldwin’s death in 1909, his daughter Anita closed the cottage and disposed of all furnishings. Some of the architectural elements of the cottage, such as the stained-glass windows, black walnut doors, and marble fireplace mantels, were stored in the coach barn. The stored items were reinstalled in the cottage during the 1951-1953 restoration.

The cottage has been used for many films and television shows, most famous for the opening of Fantasy Island where the character of Tattoo is ringing the bell in the cottage’s tower and Mr. Roarke is exiting from it.

Sources: Elias J. Baldwin, Los Angeles County Arboretum, Queen Anne Cottage

Peacocks in Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden- Arcadia (CA)

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #149 – Blue and Green Peacocks

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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 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 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 Challenge #115 – Inspiration

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.

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LENS-ARTISTS CHALLENGE #115 – INSPIRATION

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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 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 Challenge #105 – Crystal Springs

Tina’s theme for Lens-Artists Challenge #105 this week is: SPRING

“The promise of spring’s arrival is enough to get anyone through the bitter winter!” –  Jen Selinsky

Some may consider the winter in Southern California as mild because there’s no snow. Usually the temperature doesn’t drop below 40oF. Yet accustomed to the warm climate all my life, this mild winter cold still chills my bones. I find not being motivated to do outdoor activities.

“The first blooms of spring always make my heart sing.” –  S. Brown

Many of the plants and trees in my garden are perennial that doormat in the winter. The earliest budding appeared on the plum tree. The tiny innocent white buds popped out to sing to me, “Spring is coming.” I made a daily appearance in my garden to search every branch of the plum tree anticipating the delightful blossoms. Within days, the scattered white buds became full covering the entire tree and some popped open the smiling faces. How I wanted them to stay forever!

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“The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.” –  Gertrude S. Wister

Flowers spark my eyes and warm my heart. During our trip to see my daughter and her family in May 2018 as a Mother’s Day outing, we visited the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. I wanted to swallow all the beauty of the greenery and vibrant colors and let them forever be alive in me.

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The more than 2,500 rhododendrons, azaleas, and companion plants in the garden have all been donated by volunteers and interested individuals, or purchased with specially donated funds. Beginning in early spring and continuing into summer, they provide a magnificent display of color.

“Sometimes the smallest thing takes up the most room in your heart.” – A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

The Canada geese and the goslings feast on the grain and graze on the grass. The field by the lake is a haven to raise the young goslings.

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I wrote this poem for my poetry collection Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude

In Sync with Spring

Seeds were fallen,

hidden in the soil.

Coldness in the dark

keep them quiet in the ground.

Light and shadow

Gradually shift

to bring the warmth of

sunrays to the earth.

Calling the seeds

to wake up and come forth,

to feel the warm breeze and

smell the fresh air.

Slowly and gracefully

buds pop out,

unfold their petals and

the fragrance they breathe out,

dance joyfully in sync with

spring!

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Lens-Artists Challenge #105 – Crystal Springs

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #101 – One Single Flower

Thank you, Cee, for hosting the Lens-Artists Challenge #101 this week.

The topic for this week is one single flower.  Cee’s favorite quotes is “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.  Buddha.  Flowers have changed her world. I must say flowers brighten my days and helped me to survive the toughest moments.

I take photos of flowers in my garden year-round to see the changes throughout the seasons. I also like to use the natural sunlight at different hours.

“In joy and in sadness, flowers are our constant friends.”– Unknown

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Late summer early in the morning as the sun just rose up.

 

“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.”– Zen Shin

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A winter morning when the sun was soft.

 

“Open the bloom of your heart and become a gift of beauty to the world.”– Bryant McGill

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The same winter in the afternoon as the sun started to descend.

 

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”– Audrey Hepburn

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A late spring morning when the sun was gentle.

 

“A rose can never be a sunflower, and a sunflower can never be a rose. All flowers are in their own way, and that’s like women too.”– Miranda Kerr

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Early summer morning when sunflowers were in full bloom.

 

“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.”– Henri Matisse

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Late spring at night using flash for this photo.

 

Please join us for fun and check out the stunning photos at Cee’s One Single Flower.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #101 – One Single Flower

 

 

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