Saturday, December 27, 2008


We learned a good lesson that we must request for complimentary admission tickets for mid-night Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Requests are accepted after Labor Day. We should have known that for security and safety, the maximum accomodation would strictly be applied. We attend Christmas morning Mass and it was a beautiful experience.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


The photos above were taken a few years ago 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.

The above photo shows the nativity which used to belong to my husband's parents. After Pa WP passed away in 2000 and when Ma JP finally had to be moved into a nursing home in 2004, the brothers and sisters decided that each person should take an item that has the most meaning as keepsakes of the parents. We asked for the nativity and a recliner which was Pa WP favorite chair. I would love to see the looks of the drivers driving behind CP on Interstate 94 with Mary, Joseph and three wise men in the back of his Ford Ranger. We spent the weekend putting on fresh paint and purchased a new baby Jesus. The last three years, we have carried on the tradition of displaying the nativity in front of our house.

Above photo was the re-enactment of the First Christmas from the performance of the Christmas Spectacular we saw last year at NYC Radio City. It was a nice surprise as I did not think my cheesy pocket camera would take such good photo considering we were way in the back of the theater. The nativity shown below was at Church of the Holy Family, the United Nations Parish.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Photos taken of the Diamond District during our visit to NYC last year. We walked around looking for the NHL store and CP told me that it was the first time he actually in the famous Diamond District. He also said he would have purchased a big diamond engagement ring for me had I taken him there 20 years ago.
Here are a few suggestions for your last minute shopping. A $2.49 jeweled nail file that any practical women would appreciate. (Don't blame me if you followed this suggestion and found yourself outside the front door because your house key no longer worked.) Or a portable espresso maker comes with a travel case and two lightweight, unbreakable cups for his and hers, only $160. Feeling really generous? how about a delicate, handmade 18k yellow gold and diamong earrings, only $1,650. Dazzle the lady in your life with an 18k ring with 3.9 carat emerald and 130 diamonds. If you have to ask how this ring cost, then you don't have enough money to buy it, so forget it!

For the man in your life, you will enjoy seeing his excitement when you present him a $11,700 watch with Swiss-quartz movement and a mother-of-pearl face, gold and diamond. After that, you could get the whole family together to spend a month in Nice using the Marquis Jet Card which was loaded with 25-hour flight time on private aircrafts at a reasonable fee of $126,000 to $349,000. The cards are re-loadable for your convenience!
This Lamborghini/Bentley dealership is about 3 miles from my poor humble subdivision. I ask who has the money to buy these toys? I made a promise that one day I will drive up in a pick up truck, walk into the dealership wearing a clean but worn out Life is Good sweatshirt, jeans and sneakers and asked for a test drive! I would love to see the reactions of the saleperson and what the person would respond to my request. I probably won't even get thru the door or even get off my truck in the parking lot!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


"I want to live again. Please God, let me live again." George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life (1946).
For those who are familiar with the American classic movie It's a Wonderful Life, "Zuzu's patels" was what George Bailey said with great excitement when he found the petals he hid in his pocket when he told his daughter Zuzu that he had "fixed" the flower so that Zuzu would stay in bed and go to sleep. George was so happy that he was back to living, back to the life he thought he did not want to have or wish he had never been born. George was also so happy telling Bert, the policeman who was also his long time friend, "my mouth is bleeding". The petals and the blood on his lips were the symbols of recognition and appreciation for what life is about as George Bailey realized that despite what he thought was the worst thing that happened to him, taking one's own life was not the answer. George thought his life was not worth living and that he should never had been born. Through the help of the lovable angel 2nd class named Clarence, George saw how the community and the world beyond his neighborhood was positively impacted by his generosity, kindness and how many lives he directly or indirectly saved by a few simple actions. In this alternative world, George was given an opportunity to see that he made a big difference in the world.
George Bailey with the look of desperation and hopelessness we all could relate to at some points in our life. Like George, we all have great ambitions to see the world, to save mankind, to be famous, to be powerful, to be successful. Somehow our dreams never became reality because like George we have to sacrifice for our family (like my Dad started working as an errand boy at the age of nine to help his family and had to quit school after 5th grade so his younger brothers and sisters could continue their education), putting off our big dreams, accepting less or settling because we thought that was all we could expect. Or someone with good intentions like the board members at the Building & Loan when they placed the condition that they would vote against Mr. Potter only if George himself run the business. Like George, we all have big plans and were ready to "shake off the dust of Bedford Falls, go to college, become an architech and design famous bridges, skyscrapers". Like George, there was time when I thought my life was a massive failure, "worth more dead than alive" or "better off dead". I wondered what difference does it make whether I was born or not and what difference have I made in the world. Am I just like the "oxygen thieves", taking up space without any useful purpose or real benefits to society? What would I see in the "alternative world" where my family members and people I knew did not recognize me because I was never born? What if instead of being born into the world of a Vietnamese-Chinese female, lived under Communist controlled system, endured the horrid journey as boat people, survived months in the refugee camp and started a new life in New York City, I was a Swedish-Canadian hockey player with the Detroit Red Wings and won a few Stanley Cup rings? Would I appreciate freedom and what America has provided to a refugee like me and never take things for granted if I did not have those life-changing experiences? Watching the movie at Christmas time has become a tradition for us because we want to remind ourselves what George Bailey finally realized that he is "the richest man in town" and that life is worth living.
A few years ago I bought the above can of popcorn because It's a Wonderful Life is one of my favorite movies. The popcorn was not that good but I kept the can and placed items such as plane tickets when I moved to Michigan, plane tickets when I flew to NYC for my Dad's funeral, a note my sister wrote to me after my hospital stay due to a blood clot, a dried single rose my husband gave me and other sentimental pieces that are representation of events in my life. Each time I add a new item, I looked thru those already in the can. It is kind of my own on-going time capsule. I remind myself that life is a picnic, you take the sunshine, the rains, the flowers and the bees, and all the hamburgers and all the tofu hotdogs!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Most of my adoring fans, faithful followers and loyal readers of this blog probably knew about the re-construction project that shut down eastbound and most of westbound on Interstate 64 or Highway 40 for over a year. (The news was on the front page of USA Today.) St. Louisians adjusted very well as companies instituted flexible work schedules and telecommuting for others. A number of businesses even relocated their offices. Interstate 44 saw an increase in additional vehicles but traffic flowed steadily, not much worse than the normal bottlenecks at interchanges. Well, enough on my traffic report. Here are the photos I took at the re-opening celebration on Sunday, December 14th.
A number of activities took place before the western half of Highway 40 (Interstate 64) open to vehicles on Monday, December 15th. Pedestrians and bicyclists were treated to a once in a lifetime opportunity to walk and bike on the open highway. I thought it was such a neat experience to stand in the middle of the soon-to-be four lanes interstate with concrete still had the fresh clean look, without even a tires mark!
The St. Louis Track Club hosted a five-kilometer run and a bike ride was organized by the St. Louis Bike Federation. I thought my brother, the Qaptain and my nephew JL that they would enjoy this event as much as I did.

Life saving wake-up call before a motorist completely ran off the road, hopefully preventing the vehicle from smashing into the rail guards.
The next time I see this sign will be thru my windshield or window and not standing still with my camera.
A view from the highway towards South Lindbergh Boulevard.
Even Santa got off his sleigh to chat with someone or to tell him that he is not getting any presents this year. The Frontenac/Town and Country Chamber of Commerce sponsored a horse-drawn carriage rides. We did not know until later that the Frontenac Hilton Hotel served refreshments in their lobby. That would have saved me $4.50 for a cup of hot chocolate and a sugar cookie that I had to have!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


New York's famous landmark, Grand Central Station, looked so festive and beautiful with the lights shows and decorations.
There I stood, with my camera, taking photos like a typical tourist, in the middle of a sea of people rushing around at Grand Central Station. Trains arriving from Connecticut or Pennsylvania poured waves of bodies onto the platforms. These waves of bodies then crashing across the lobby, rushing towards the subway, emptied into various tracks, uptown Manhattan/the Bronx or downtown Manhattan/Brooklyn on #4, 5 or 6, to Flushing, Queens on #7 or to Times Square-42nd Street if you wish to get a seat when the train makes its last stop before turning around heading to Flushing. Looking at the Subway map, I just realized that I never took the S train which only runs back and forth from Grand Central Station to Times Square. My sister CH said she felt like Pacman in the video game whenever she gets off the subway, walking across the lobby to get outside the building then to her office. CH said she tried to time her steps, to the left, to the right, as not to be crushed alive by giant waves of passengers rushing from the trains to the subway. (How I wish I could protect my little sister who was born with muscular dystrophy from people who have no compassion towards those who are physical disadvantage. I am always proud of my sister because she never allowed any setback deterring her independence.)
I have a lot of wonderful memories taking the trains to Connecticut and Pennsylvania with a group of foreign exchange students. The years were 1982-84. There were about 20 students in the group. Each American family would receive two or three students for the weekend. The students had the opportunity to practice their English and to meet "real" Americans, in additional to typical New Yorkers! I still keep in touch with two families I met back then.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


These photos were taken when we visited a museum in Valetta, Malta. The museum housed a large collection, displays of statues complete with mid-fifteenth-century plate armours with shields, banners and surcoats, of the Knights Hospitaller (known as Knights of Malta Orders of St. John). Lately there are a lot of talks about "a tall, strong man on a large white horse", the knight in shining armour, and that he would come to the aid of people in distress, to defend the weak from oppression, re-distributing wealth taken from the rich to give to the poor and with his charm and gentle smiles, he would bring peace to the world!
What is a real knight? How would we recognize the real knight and how do we know to dismiss the impostor? The real knights have "no consideration of personal advantage, nothing could sway him from adherence to his beliefs and loyalties". The real knights followed a set of high standards from a system of values in which the principles of personal integrity, the practice of virtues such as generosity, compassion and the desire for the highest honour. If these are the characteristics of a real knight, I don't see any around, definitely not in the neighboring State!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I finally finished mailing all the Christmas cards. This year I cut the list down in half by not sending to those that I have not heard from the last two years. Next year I might even learn to send Christmas eCards.

In keeping with the tradition, here is my "braggin' letter" included with the cards.

"We hope 2008 was a peaceful year for you and your family. We wish you a blessed Christmas and a New Year filled with good health, love and happiness.

CP and I celebrated our 19th Wedding Anniversary with a Western Mediterranean cruise. We visited Portofino, Italy; Nice and Cannes, France; Valencia, Spain, then cruised the Mediterranean Sea to Malta, then onto Tunisia, Africa and an extra 3-day in Rome after the cruise. You might wonder why celebrate 19th Anniversary. We say why not 19th, why wait for 20th or any other year. Isn’t every year worth celebrating?

Our other highlight was attending Game 1 of the Stanley Cup to cheer for our Beloved Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings won their 4th Stanley Cup Championships within the last 10 years.

We keep in touch with our families in New York, Michigan, South Carolina, Colorado, Texas, and Wisconsin thru phone calls, email, blogs and Facebooks. I finally have my very own Facebooks but I rarely checked the page or do anything with it. Currently we are both employed, not sure how long in this uncertain economy. Our investment is very conservative so the setback was not too bad and with a few dollars in savings, we hope to weather the storm.

We do keep our servicemen and women in our prayers and appreciate their sacrifices keeping America safe and providing freedom and liberty to the world.

May peace, love and happiness fill your heart and your home. We hope you will keep in touch and look forward to hearing from you."

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


The 76th Christmas tree lighting ceremony took place at 8:58 p.m. this evening at Rockefeller Center in New York City. The 8-ton, 72 feet Norway spruce carries 30,000 energy-efficient LED lights. These photos were taken last year when we visited NYC for my husband 49th birthday. I just realized that last year was 75th Anniversary for both Radio City Christmas Spectacular Show and the lighting ceremony.

We had a wonderful time staying at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel (just one night), walked to Rockefeller Center, to Radio City for the performance of the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular, and attended Mass on Christmas morning at St. Patrick's Cathedral. It was one of the most memorable and enjoyable being in New York City at Christmas time.
The gilded statue depicting Prometheus bringing fire to mankind.
Rockefeller Center by night (above) and by day (below).


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