Friday, November 30, 2007


O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree! How are thy leaves so verdant!

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, Much pleasure doth thou bring me!

To everyone, may Christmas tree also brings you pleasure and joy!

This is a Christmas tree musical box. Press the flower button to open the box and inside is a tiny Christmas tree with a train set going around the tiny tree while "O Christmas Tree" song is playing. My husband is one of the people who loves knick knack. He specially loves to decorate the house at Christmas time. It is understandable since he was born on Christmas Day. In the Knights of Columbus newsletter, you will find December 25th birthdays starting with Jesus and next is my husband's name as CP birthday also on December 25th.

The above photo was a Christmas card I received this week from MC, a very good friend I have known for almost 28 years. MC was the first American friend whom I was blessed to know from my first job at MK Company. This Christmas tree reminded me of the tree Charlie Brown picked out and was ridiculed by the other kids. When Charlie saw the tree, he commented that it was the perfect tree. Yet others failed to see what Charlie saw, a little tree that needed someone with loving hearts. At the end of the episode, the tree was surrounded by Linus' security blanket and other decorations and then everyone agreed that it was a perfect Christmas tree.

The photo below was taken in November during a drive through of Festival of Lights in Carthage, Missouri. We went to Carthage to visit Precious Moments headquarters and its famous chapel. There were about forty displays of lights, all coordinated and funded by a religious order of Vietnamese-American Catholics. We also learned that for more than 20 years, Marian Days, the week long religious celebration in August, attracts more than 40,000 Vietnamese-American Catholics and thousands other American Catholics to Carthage. Both Festival of Lights and Marian Days are listed as major events of Art & Culture in Carthage Convention & Visitors Bureau website.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Where have the days and weeks gone since I started this entry entitled Thanksgiving 2007? I am now ready to publish and it is already mid-December!

Sincere apology to my adoring fans for not writing as often as I promised. Seriously, I would love to be able to write everyday or at least record what I did during the week as I often wonder what I did the entire year, 365 days, 52 weeks, 7 days, 24 hours, all gone in a blink!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving starting with a great dinner, all prepared by my husband. About three years ago, CP started making turkey at Thanksgiving. He has gotten very good as the turkey came out tender and perfect all around. We usually got a 10-lb turkey, enough for Thanksgiving dinner and lunch for the next two weeks.

CP also made apple pie and pumpkin pie. During his college years, CP stayed with his parents and it was then that he learned to make pies from his mother. The crusts were made from scratch and the pies always came out deliciously golden. Sorry, I won't give away the secret. We enjoyed the apple pie with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream for the pumpkin pie.

On Friday, we went to a hockey game. A co-worker had tickets but was not able to attend the game. The Vancouver Canucks were in town and I always like to arrive early to listen to the Canadian anthem. I usually stand in the area where the visiting team came out for 30 minutes warm-up before the game starts. With my camera, I would try to take photos of my favorite players while they "fly" by. I tried not to look so silly as the only geezer (also an Asian chubby woman) among all the little kids begging for the players to throw the pucks over the glass.

I tried to take photo of the Sedin twin brothers (Daniel #22 and Henrik #33) but they did not line up nicely for my shots! I was able to take a few photos of Markus Naslund (the captain #19) and Curtis Sanford (back-up goalie who was with the Blues two years ago). I wonder if Sanford blamed me that he was traded as I also got his autograph three months before the St. Louis Blues sent him to minor.

On Saturday, it was our tradition to put up the Christmas tree and the outdoor nativity we inherited from my husband's parents.

On Sunday, we went to another hockey game, this time the Calgary Flames were in town. The tickets were from my boss who were not able to attend due to family obligations. The seats were in a club section at $100 each and we could not turn away such luxury. Captain Jarome Iginla (#12) and goalie Mikka Kiprusoff (34) are my two favorite players on the Calgary Flames. Less than two minutes into the game, Dion Phaneuf, the enforcer for the Flames, set the tone by started a fight. Then another fight a few minutes later with gloves and helmets flying all over the ice. Manny Legace earned his first shutout when the Blues won 3-0. It was a good hockey game!

After the hockey game, we went to dinner but I made sure we got home to watch the Patriots v. the Eagles. It was an exciting game not only because of the Patriots but also because everyone wondered if the Eagles would be the team to break the Patriots' running records of 10-0 or be the 11th team beaten by the Patriots. We got home enough time to catch half of the 3rd quarter and the rest of the game when the Patriots won 31-28.
It was a wonderful Thanksgiving, two hockey games, a great football game, plenty of good food, and of course we are grateful for our families and all the blessings.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


There is a saying, "The Early Bird got the Worm". When it comes to Black Friday, I will leave all the worms to the other birds/shoppers. Unless the stores or the lines are for Stanley Cup games or Superbowl tickets or spending a day in the Detroit Red Wings' locker room, I would not be among the people waiting outside the doors.

I got up this morning, Friday, November 23rd, at 9:00 a.m. My husband and I ate breakfast while reading the newspaper. We watched the news and saw the people who camped out since yesterday waiting in line for "doorbusters" sales items. At 11:30 a.m. we decided that we would take care of a few errands. It was around 40 degrees and no wind chill. The above photo showed Value City (it is similar to Big Lots or Trading Posts) opens at midnight to 5:00 a.m. while K-Mart has "wake-up" sales from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. There is nothing at neither store that I would desperately want that I would be willing to stand in line for hours to get such bargain.
I read a local newspaper in Michigan that people camped out all night in 20 degree temperature. When asked, most of the people said that it has become a family tradition to be a part of Black Friday shopping tempede. Last year, my brother VL aka Qaptain Qwerty, got up at 3 a.m. and was among 200 people lined up outside the Circuit City store at Gateway Mall in Brooklyn, New York. QQ stood in line but was not able to purchase the item he wanted (Kodak Z612 camera). QQ wrote that he wasted the day and suffered from a terrible headache from all the hassle. He promised that he would never do this crazy thing again. Reading QQ's blog, he kept his promise and stayed home this year! Perhaps when I am 90 years old with nothing to do, I would not mind getting up early to stand in line at 4:00 a.m. But then again, at 90 years old I probably would not remember why I stood in line once I got inside the store, what items I wanted to get!

By the way, about a year ago, Macy's opened stores in St. Louis. My adoring fans know that I don't care for shopping. However, every few months, I would go to Macy's just for the feelings of being in New York. There is a Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in St. Louis but on a much smaller scale. I went to a few Macy's Thanksgiving Parades in New York, not sure of all the years. The only year I remember well is in 1998 with my fiance/husband-to-be at the time. Perhaps next year I would try going to the parade here in St. Louis. Or I could try to get a spot holding one of the balloons or riding the float, waving to the people.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I have been under the weather the last few days. It started with a headache which I attributed to the hectic schedule of hockey game (my beloved Detroit Red Wings were in town - they played a strong 1st period then got sloppy the 2nd period. Hasek allowed four goals within a few minutes. Lidstrom and Chellios could not stop the shot when the Blues had a 2-man advantage. I got my wish when Osgood replaced Hasek in the 3rd period, but it was typical Red Wings game plan - too little, too late!) and work-related evening activities. The body ache followed by throwing up lunch and dinner. As I spent the evening in the bathroom, next to the toilet bowl, waiting for the next wave, I thought of the response from my little brother VL when he was about six years old. More than thirty years later, I still smile whenever I thought of VL "from the babe's mouth" response.

That day VL already was not feeling well but that did not stop him from eating a big meal. As he was throwing up, Mom asked VL a sarcastic question, "Do you want to eat some more food?". We all laughed when VL innocently responded, "Yes, but just a little more." VL probably wondered why Mom was laughing so hard at his honest answer. Come to think of it, perhaps at that young age, VL already developed his sense of humor, and became as a clever punster today!

Another similar story about honest answer is about a man who always came around my maternal grandparents' home at dinner time. The man would stay on as we were setting the table. Many times my grandfather would have no choice but to extend invitations to the man to take part in the meals. One time my grandfather said to him, "I am sorry we only have simple selection for dinner, not of the lavish feast you are used to." Thinking this would be a polite way to not inviting the man and hope that he would not stay for dinner. Instead, the man responded, "How about a bottle of good wine? That would make up for the plain dishes."

Monday, November 12, 2007


According to my blurry memory, after six months of living in an apartment building on Fordham Road (#4, 5 or 6 train to Pelham Parkway) in the Bronx, my family moved to Elmhurst, Queens in July 1980. These were the early years in America when each member in the family was trying to survive together as a unit but also "swim or sink" in our own little world. My Mom stayed home while my Dad and I worked. My sister, CH, brothers TL and VL attended Newtown High School.

While going thru boxes of photos and an album filled with 35mm films, I found these photos which I took with my first Canon camera. I read an entry in Qaptain Qwerty's blog about his visit to the old neighborhood, and since his lousy old cell phone could not capture the street signs, I got the idea for this entry about the old neighborhood from my perspective. There were many wonderful memories in that small one-bedroom apartment but also unpleasant instances of being in such tight living quarter. In August 1986, I moved out to my first "crib" in Forest Hills, Queens.

Elmhurst is a neighborhood in northwestern Queens. The apartment building we lived in was only a block away from the #7 Flushing subway line. The station was 90th Street/Elmhurst Avenue. We could see the subway from our windows. My Mom used to sit by the bedroom window looking out for my Dad. He often waved from the platform when he got off the train. Whether for safety reason or just trying to keep dinner warm, Mom always kept an eye out for Dad and had everything ready by the time Dad rang the door bell.

We lived in one of the apartment buildings as shown in photo below.

I remember going to Jackson Heights/82nd Street with my sister CH on the weekends to do shopping, seeing a movie or just hanging out at a drug store because we were infatuate with a store manager named Gerry. Back then we thought he was really good looking and because he was always smiling while saying hello to us. As we got older, our taste in men has improved over the years. CH and I got a good laugh now and then when we talked about our silly crush on Gerry who was a plain looking middle age man with receding hairline.

I also remember going to the library with CH & QQ. One time we tried to check out more than 20 Peanuts books because we loved the comic strips. The librarian told us that one person could only borrow 10 items each check out. We went back to a nearby table, divided the piles between the three of us and were able to check out all the books! Another fond memory was when we thought we saved money by going to an early double-feature show. We all got terrible headache afterward! Well, at least the Qaptain did not cry and demanded to leave the show after he ate all the popcorn and candy!
The above photo must be the view from the windows in our apartment. Unlike the movie "Rear Window" starring James Stewart as L.B. Jefferies who was confined to his Greenwich Village apartment with his leg in a cast and witnessed a murder from his window, we only got the good view of the subway trains and the people getting on and off the trains. In the summer, my Mom would make comments about young women who wore very little clothing or older women who did not dress appropriately for their age by exposing too much of their bodies.

The neigbhoorhood back then was already high population density with many ethnic groups. Perhaps because we were still learning about the new land, I was not able to distinguish a Russian immigrant from a white American, a Kenyan refugee from a black American or a Mexican from someone of Dominican Republic. I read the book "Queens - What to do, Where to Go (and how not to get lost) in New York's Undiscovered Borough" by Ellen Freudenheim that in 2006, people from over 100 different countries are living in Elmhurst. This is much different from the first half of the 20th century when the neighborhood were mostly upwardly mobile Italian and Jewish.

This probably was the window Qaptain Qwerty mentioned looking for his schoolmate walking toward the building. Back then, we did not talk much about our daily lives and I only learned about QQ's first summer job at Hot Bagel from his blog. It is one of the reasons why I really appreciate blogging. I have to ask my sister CH and brother TL about their experience during that time and about attending Newtown High School. The Newtown H. S. located at 90th Street & 48th Avenue, was built in 1917. It is one of the city's largest public high school serving approximately 4,500 students.

The above photo was from one of the stores along Roosevelt Avenue which has been one of the main commercial strips through the Jackson Heights neighborhood. I went back there in 2003 and understood why the area was called Little India as evident from the colorful fabrics stores, displays of saris, silk cloth, grocery stores with fresh and dried Asian spices and vegetables. The aroma of exotic ingredients coming from restaurants that are Pakistani and East Indian could be overwhelming to visitors who are not familiar with the new cultures taking place. The old theater we used to go to now showing Bollywood movies in Hindi and Urdu.

The photo below must be the grocery store on the other side of either Roosevelt Avenue or Elmhurst Avenue. I remember crossing the street, away from the apartment building to get to the store. My Mom did most of the shopping (and cooking), while I only went with her on the weekend to carry the packages home.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


I continue to enjoy taking photos with the not-so-new camera (Sony Cybershot 7.2 megapixels) my husband gave me last June as an 18th Wedding Anniversary. Along with the camera is 2.0 GB memory stick that would allow me to take plenty of photos. I became more aware of the world around me as I try to capture nature in meaningful ways or at least thru my own interpretation.

The above photo was taken after we ate lunch at a cafe in Central West End. CWE is located west of downtown St. Louis. The neighborhood is filled with charming sidewalk cafes, art galleries, shops and cozy pubs. The tree-line, cobblestone streets are often filled with medical students and young urban professionals from nearby hospitals and Washington University Medical Center.

I took these photos at Forest Park while my husband took photos of his T-bird nearby. I just learned that Forest Park in St. Louis is 500 acres larger than New York's Central Park. Over 12 million visitors came to enjoy the beauty and outdoor recreational activities at this park. There is a dockside restaurant or people could bring their own picnic baskets. Families with children often take part in paddling canoes.

The park is also home to the St. Louis Zoo, the Muny Opera House, St. Louis Art Museum and Missouri History Museum. The photo below needs no introduction nor explanation - T-bird at Forest Park.

Friday, November 02, 2007


So Halloween was over. We did not have as many kids visited. There were only a few cute kids with cute outfits. I did not care for teenagers dressing up as hippies or mobsters. At around 8:30 p.m., we decided to shut off the lights in the front porch as we did not expect anymore kids to come by. I immediately hid the candy to stop my husband from eating. The last two years, my husband has gained a lot of weigh (over 60 lbs) and he did not try very hard to curb his intake of sweet and junk food. I did what most parents would be doing after Halloween, trying to get rid of the candy the kids have collected. I brought the left over into the office.

Whenever my husband and I look at the photos on our wedding day and younger years, we would comfort ourselves by saying, "we are chubby now and we are happier". I remember when I used to tie a bandana around my waist and still making two knots at the end. Back then I used to walk ten blocks to get to a subway station to avoid the crowd when transfering from one train to another. A few Saturdays, I would go to the library at Hunter College on 68th Street, then walked to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 86th Street. That was almost 30 city blocks. No wonder I was 50 lbs lighter compared to my current out-of-shape, never leave home without my automobile, health status.

Last week I picked up a book from the library on weight loss guide for kids by Dr. Susan S. Bartell. At first I thought I would read the book and pass the information on to my brother VL. The books provided suggestions such as controlling the amount of time your child spend on viewing television, no snacking while watching TV, keeping a watchful eye on food (lunch) served at school, the vending machine and unhealthy snacks. Other suggestions include exercise and physical activities that would be interesting, better yet, making it fun and involving the whole family. Something simple such as assigning a chore (taking out the trash, sweeping the floor) could be good to get the child off the couch or a computer game.

I read thru the book and realized that my brother probably already knew about all the suggestions. We live in a world with ever-present temptations and children as well as adults are constantly losing the weight battles. Everyone knows the ways to break the cycle of unhealthy living patterns by eating good nutrition, exercise and engaging in physical activity. It is not too easy trying to putting these into practice. If I was to have a child, I don't know if I could do better or setting a good example with my husband and I are both overweight.

Last week I went to the Boxing Gym after work, Monday thru Thursday. I still enjoy my kickboxing classes. I am trying to encourage my husband to find an exercise that is fun for him. He has cut down on his intake of soda but still has a long way to go with his weight. We tried hypnosis, we tried an eight-week program of auriculotheraphy (stimulation of the external ears or ear acupuncture), none worked! These treatments were supposed to make the person feel full quicker to lessen the intake of food, thus losing weight. Again, along with the treatment, the person must modify his diet and suppress temptations to consume unhealthy food and to regularly exercise.

I am embarrassed and disapointed to report that none of these treatments helped my husband. I won't even tell how much we paid for these treatments. I just hope that it will not take something serious to happen to get my husband to realize that his health is in danger.


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