Sunday, November 30, 2008


The first snowfall of the season greeted us when we got up this morning. The snowflakes were falling gently. A soft white blanket covered our backyard. I went outside to take these photos and it was surprisingly warm. By the time we came home from 10:15 morning Mass, there was no accumulation from the snowfall. My husband put the ice scrapers/snow brush in our cars. I guest it is time for me to gather items such as blanket, a set of extra clothing, crackers and extra bottle of water in a duffle bag. I keep the bag in my car in the event of unexpected really bad weather on the road even though my office is only work 15 minutes from home.
I promised my husband that on Sunday we would go to see the new 007 movie, Quantum of Solace. I did that before checking NFL schedule. Turn out the Patriots v. Steelers game was on television. My husband insisted that I keep my promise and forget about the silly football game. The movie was full of actions which my husband likes but I closed my eyes half of the time, otherwise I would get a headache from looking at all the cars chasing and buildings got blew up scenes. In the end I was glad that we went to the movie as the Steelers hammered the Patriots 33-10.
Our Thanksgiving was wonderful and we hope you had an enjoyable and relaxing time with your family too.

Friday, November 28, 2008


"And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorified God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. Jesus said in reply, "Ten were healed, where are the other nine? Had none but this Samaritan returned to give thanks to God?" Luke 17:15-18

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving day starting with morning Mass at 9:00. The church was full and everyone brought either canned food or non-perishable items or cash donations to be collected for two local shelters. After we came home, we enjoyed a full breakfast. My husband had his usual two eggs over-easy, sausage, potatoes and toast while I had the same except instead of meat, mine was veggie sausage. Then we each had a slice of pumpkin pie. We watched the Lions (0-11) v. Titans (10-1) game but it was too depressing so at half time we decided to take a nap instead! CP did a great job again with the turkey, the apple pie and pumpkin pie (bottom photo). We had a nice Thanksgiving dinner completed with a small bottle of sweet wine (a very inexpensive kind).
As we enjoyed our Thanksgiving feast, we thank God for His blessings upon our families. We also pray for the safety and well-being of our military forces, particularly servicemen and women serving overseas. We pray for law enforcement, emergency personnel, the firefighters who risk their lives daily to save strangers. I am sure each of us is doing something, no matter how small, to support our troops without the publicity and the fanfares. Most of all, please keep these men and women in your prayers.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving to all my adoring fans, faithful followers and all the loyal readers! Wishing you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving with lot of delicious food that nurture the bodies, love, happiness and peace that nurture the souls. (Must be the brocolli or could be the asparagus in my veggie meals again!)

In the past I don't care much when someone suggested before sitting down at the table to enjoy the Thanksgiving dinner that all join hands, after a prayer, each person would say what they are thankful for. Not that I don't think it is a good way the express our gratitude but saying out loud is too mushy for me. I am not very good at letting my emotion shown, especially in front of too many people, even if they are family members. Writing is different, so here are what I am thankful for.

I am thankful for every moment of living, able to see the world around me, to hear, to be able to communicate, to experience emotions of being happy or feeling sad, to make sound decisions as well as when to accept my limitations. I am thankful for the love I share with my husband, our good and bad times, sharing laughters, settling disagreements, for all the little boring daily activities we do together and for the big dreams we hope to enjoy in our old age.

I am thankful for my family, no matter how far apart we are, we know that we are connected. I think of my family often and keep them in my prayers for their well being. And whenever we are together, the distance and the months in between visits did not matter because the bond was never separated.

I am thankful for the goodness of America, the strength of human spirits, the resilient of individuals who accept responsibilities to do good work, taking care of their family and serving their community. I am thankful for God's Blessings, for His precious gift thru my Savior Jesus Christ. It is faith that have sustained me thru all the difficult times, lifted me up from the darkest hours. I am thankful for this moment and all the moments I have lived.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


My friend, Mei, told me that she turned 50 this year. I called Mei to wish her a Happy Birthday as it was too late to send her a birthday card. This is the second time I forgot the occassion in 27 years of our friendship. I never knew that Mei is three years older and have always thought we were of the same age. I looked out the kitchen window watching my husband blowing leave, getting ready for the city's weekly leaf collection schedule and recalled that Mei told me about how her parents made it clear that she should only marry someone of Chinese ethnic. How different from my parents that they welcome my husband with open arms. My parents have always been so accepting and only concern for their children's happiness. My mother had commented that my children being mixed race "My lai or Amerasian" would have been so cute! I thought of how Mei and I became friends, the years we have known each other and the tales of our lives. I met Mei when we attended LaGuardia Community College in Astoria, New York City. I helped Mei with her English composition, writing reports and she helped me with Algebra and Calculus. I was not good with computer programming classes either!
Mei and her husband, Kei and their children, Tei and Wei (not their real names, of course) live in Flushing, New York, in the same house since 1989. From the house, going to work in Manhattan, Mei either has to take a bus or Kei would drop Mei off at the subway station (#7 Flushing line). Mei has worked in accounting department at the same publishing company since she graduated in 1983. My office is only 15 minutes drive and I moved out of states twice, changed jobs a dozen times since 1983! Mei's family originally came from China, exactly where I never asked. Her father went to Hong Kong and a few years later joined by her mother and all three girls. The whole family came to America in 1979, a few months earlier before my family arrived (from Viet Nam, refugee camp in Indonesia) in New York early 1980. Mei said that her father half jokingly said that he had to leave China and then Hong Kong because he could not bare being made fun of having all girls and no son!
We have always stayed in touch after I moved away. We tried to get together whenever I visited NYC. While Mei taking her children to swimming, dance classes or Chinese lessons, CP and I are living a carefree childless life, instead of taking Paulina to music lessons or Andrew to soccer games, we went on day trips and taking naps whenever. (Paulina and Andrew are our imaginary kids) I enjoyed seeing Tei and Wei growing up and became fine young people. Tei is currently a sophomore at a well-known art school and Wei is a high school senior. On the weekend, while we attend Sunday Mass or going to antique shops in Kimmswick, Mei probably visits her parents in Brooklyn, taking Wei to ACT classes or going to dim sum with her sisters.
One time Mei and I were waiting for our trains to arrive. We stood on the same flatform but expected different trains, connecting to another train to Queens for me (back then I lived in Woodhaven) and Mei was single, living with her parents in Brooklyn. We talked about Mei's older sister, Zei and young sister, Yei, both had gotten married. About our little circle of friends from LaGuardia, Sei and Nei also were married. I jokingly said that whoever train arrived first would be next to get married. Looking back I realized that being 3 years older would be a big deal for Mei to get married and I also did not really care about being an old maid! Trying to finish my 4-year degree while working full time was my priority rather than finding a husband. I never forgot the horror and almost painful look on Mei's face when the train from Queens arrived. I thought it was funny, started to laugh but stopped when I saw the disappointment in Mei's eyes. We waved goodbye, said "See you later" but I could not forget what just took place. CP and I attended Mei's wedding in July 1988. The following year, Mei was seven months pregnant with Tei when CP and I came back to NYC for our 2nd reception (our church wedding and first reception were in Detroit) as my parents wanted to make sure their friends did not think I just ran away without a proper wedding ceremony. More than 20 years later, I still wonder if Mei ever thought of or even remember such incident with the trains.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I think of my brother Qaptain Qwerty (VL) whenever I see homes with plenty of space, front yard with roomy driveway, backyard offers lot of playground for his son and of course, the luxury of his own garage! I worry about VL that whenever he is unable to park the old van in front of his house or within his own street and has to walk home, especially in the evening when it is raining or snowing (dark and stormy nights). I wonder if VL would be happy living in these homes or he would prefer a more modern home. Would VL appreciate the front porch where he would relax, reading and enjoying a cold drink on a lazy warm summer day? Most of the small towns have high speed internet services, some even with wireless connections, so VL would not feel disconnected to the world wide web. I took the photo below when I saw the red scooter because I thought of my nephew JL and all his toys, the white picket fence compared to the rusted iron fence at VL's house and the roomy garage instead of the narrow aisle VL had to share with his neighbor. I thought of my visit in July of 2000 when my husband worked to remove the rusts, then painted the fence while my Dad tried to help by handing CP the necessary tools. Dad complimented CP being such a handyman and how much we appreciate his help. It was my last visit seeing Dad walking around before being confined to his bed, unable to even take a few steps without feeling tired since the chemotherapy took tolls and he was given only three months to live.

JL loves train. I would be so happy taking JL on the train rides from Kirkwood to Hermann or just sit on the bench by the river, watch the trains go by as we share a large bag of kettle corn and drink root beer floats. Last Christmas we sent a train set the week before our visit. It was one of my favorite moments watching CP and JL put the train together on the tracks and sharing JL sweet laughters when the train blew its whistle coming out of the tunnel. It is true that having (in my case loving) a child will forever change your life. Whenever I see trains, I automatically think of JL, wishing we did not live so far apart so I could see JL often and all the fun we would have riding the trains, playing in the parks, learning together at the Science Center, taking JL to school, picking him up from different activities and turning JL into a hockey/football fanatic!
I left New York City when I moved to Michigan, but NYC was never taken of my heart. I love NYC with all its city glamours, East Coast conveniences (like direct international flights or cruise ships leaving from Brooklyn), the subway and most of all, being near my family. If I had to, I could adjust to living in NYC again. But I also have gotten used to living in the Midwest and its spacious surrounding. Driving became the only transportation and having more than a few cars ahead of me is considered traffic jams! While QQ decided on another van to replace the old broken van, my husband is comtemplating what features he would add further to his T-bird (photo above). We never had problems with parking our vehicles, the T-bird is always in the garage, my 6-year old Mazda in the driveway and the 10-year Ford truck (CP winter vehicle) has its place on the street in front of the house. The truck still runs pretty good and handy for carry stuff or when CP does not want to get the T-bird dirty.
I guess there is a trade off when comparing living places. City has its own convenience and small town has its charm. Everyone feel comfortable and makes the best of where they live. Whether the person lives in a house with neighbors all around (photo above) or in the middle of nowhere (photo below), the people and the love that filled the house would make it a home. For a city mouse that has turned country mouse, I enjoy my current town with all its pluses and minuses. I only wish NYC was an hour drive from St. Louis!

Friday, November 14, 2008


I finally put away all of the summer clothes and gathered the sweaters, sweatshirts, pants and thick winter socks, ready for the cold months ahead. I developed a rotating system that has worked pretty good for this purpose, putting away and bringing out seasonal clothing. First I piled all the summer clothes, mostly t-shirts, shorts, sleeveless shirts from all the drawers on one bed, then transfered winter clothes from storage bins and dresser from the guest room onto the bed. I would apply the same rotating system when it is time to switch from winter to summer. I usually handled the tasks on Sunday afternoon while watching football games to make the work less boredom. As I sorted thru the items, I tried to set aside pieces that could be donated. This time I dropped off two bags of clothes into the collection box at Goodwill. I often thought of the time when my family and I first came to America, our clothings came from donations at the refugee office. We could not believe that people would discard items in almost perfect condition. I wrote about how exciting it was for my sister and I the first time we went shopping. It was great to take the price tags off as a symbol of "making it in America", no longer wearing donated clothes. Now just my husband and I, we filled up a walk-in closet complete with an organized system in the master bedroom and just my clothes alone took up two other full size closets. I mentioned many times that I hate shopping, especially for clothes and spend no more than a few times a year at the malls nearby, yet how did I accumulate all the items in the house? I even stopped buying souvenirs. Who cares if I was wearing t-shirts from Rome, Paris or Malta! I must find a way to purge more, perhaps once a month instead of only when bringing out seasonal clothing. Someone suggested that when purchasing a new item, donate 2 or more from current inventory, would help cutting down on the cluster. How about not buying new items at all and giving at least a carton of stuff every week?

This week I stocked up on canned soups. I hope some marketing person from Campbell's Soup will send me a coupon for posting the above photo, giving the company free advertisement. These are two of our favorite flavors. I loaded up the shopping cart with all 20 cans when I saw the sale price at $1.44 each. I just paid $2.00 at another store for the same items! Another reason we buy Campbell's soups as we collect the labels for the school thru "Labels for Education" program. Sister Rosario reported that a laptop was obtained from the points accumulated.
Here is our brand new kitchen window which should be energy efficient and easy to clean. The new window has better insulation keeping the heat in when it is cold in the winter or when the air condition is on in the summer. We could easily slide the screen over to get some fresh air into the house if it is not too hot. By the way, evident that the housing market is terrible when we saw a bird took a peak inside the birdhouse and left without an attempt to even get inside! We replaced the wooden mailbox with a new free standing heavy duty mailbox with a slot for mail to be safely kept inside a container when we go away for a few days. My husband converted the wooden mailbox into the birdhouse but so far it has stood empty.

Farmer Jack sure got enough wood there!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


My husband and I enjoy visiting Hermann, a charming town on the Missouri River. We love the great view of the river from the bluff at the end of town. From there we could also see downtown dotting with small shops, historic homes, churches, bed and breakfast inns and restaurants that serve down-home cooking. Hermann is part of the River Heritage region and well-known for its many wineries.
I wrote about Hermann and its Wurst Festival (March 26, 2007). The town of Hermann is about an hour from St. Louis. According to the tourism brochure, Hermann was founded in 1836 by the German winegrowers in search of the ideal location for their vineyards. They found a site bounded by hills and bluffs on three sides and the Missouri River on the north which was similar to the Rhine River region in Germany. In addition to the famous family-owned wineries, there are many bed & breakfast inns with the view of the Missouri River, many fine restaurants with authentic local cookings, gift shops and antiques places.
Here are a few photos from our Sunday drive in the country. Perhaps we could all slow down and for just a few minutes appreciate the serenity of an open field, the red barn against the blue sky, the white cloud, the bright red leave or a walk in a freshly planted vineyard.

How about sitting down on the swing in this front porch, pour yourself a glass of home-made lemonade, sit down and relax. Forget about the fast car, the modern lives that full of every possible convenience, time-consuming yet meaningless activities and just for once enjoy the moment of breathing and living.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


"My husband will take you in one round," I said to the man sitting in front of us who wore a Penguins jersey. The man was not happy after I tormented him with a previous comment, "Nice patch", pointing at the Stanley Cup Playoffs patch on his jersey, "but the Red Wings won the Championships." The man turned around, angry look in his eyes, then raised his fist to my face. I did not back off, "I am not afraid of you, loser. My husband will take care of you." Turning to my husband, I offered words of encouragement, "Go ahead honey, teach this loser a lesson." Well, it did not turn out too good as the man stood up and he was about 6'4", 250 lbs or more. A security guard heard my yelling and approached the man. As the man explained to the security guard what happened, I decided to run as quick as I could to our car, leaving my husband far behind, also running.
OK, I was just kidding about the above story. I did torment a few others Penguins fans sitting nearby. I pretended that I did not know and asked what the patch was about and who won the Championships. These photos were taken when the Penguins came to St. Louis on Saturday, November 2nd. The game was well-attended as the fans wanted to see Sidney Crosby (#87 - photo below). Only 21 years old and already being named captain after his first year in the League. A lot of talks even before Crosby was official drafted by the Penguins about how good he would be, predictions that he could be the greatest hockey player and how the NHL future will depend on Sid the Kid.
We already saw Crosby at Game 1 of the Stanley Cup on May 24th. A couple we know who are also hockey fanatics (they are loyal St. Louis Blues fans) were at the game and the wife had the flu, yet she did not want to miss seeing Crosby. Their seats were in the next section to our left and the whole time she had to be covered with blanket, shaking because of the chill and constantly blowing her nose. When we left at 8 minutes into the 3rd period, the Blues were losing 3-5, yet the sick woman was still there. Talk about one crazy hockey fan!
As mentioned in a previous entry about a hockey player named Satan but pronounced as "Sar ten", not Sat'n. #81 full name is Miroslav Satan (Slovak Republic). Satan was with Buffalo Sabres, during the time when Dominik Hasek and Michael Peca were there. It would be most fitting if the next team Satan goes to would be the New Jersey Devils!
Ever saw the face of Satan? Make sure you don't look directly in the eyes of Satan!
I could never understand why the announcer has to request that fans (mostly men) remove their hats during the singing of the National Anthem. I thought it is a given, you don't need to be told. It is common sense to show respect to the flag and our nation. Some people argue that because of the negative actions by the government and they disagree with what is being carried out by the current administration, and that is the reason they did not remove their hats or also turn their back to the flag. I have always thought that we should always respect the flag and be proud of our country, separate from grievances against the government. I also don't appreciate people talking during the national anthem. What could be so important that these people could not wait for a few minutes? I took the photo below because I thought of the election on November 4th, and the direction our country will be heading in the years ahead. I said a prayer asking for God's blessings and may God has mercy on us for the foolish things we have done.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Looking up at the sunlight flowing down from the dome at the Pantheon, it was as if gazing up to the heavens. The opening was the only source of light, intended to symbolize the "all-seeing eye of heaven".

A poem by Kay Hoffman, published in Salesian Inspirational Books by Salesian Missions Publication.
Turn your face toward the sun
And leave the clouds behind;
Today is yours, God-given,
A precious gift of time.
Yesterday's beyond recall,
It cannot be redone;
Tomorrow is still unclaimed;
It may or may not come.
If there's kindness you can do
For another's sake,
Do it now while there is time,
Tomorrow may be too late.
Keep your face toward the sun
And happiness you'll find
Cherish the gift of each new day
And Leave the clouds behind.
Too often we worry over
The bridge we'll never cross
And miss the joys of today,
To be forever lost.

I hope you enjoy the poems. I had a great time taking the photos and have carefully incorporated them into the selected poems. The above bridge is part of the Katy Trail, along Route 100 also known as The Lewis and Clark Trail.

Friday, November 07, 2008


Week 9 of the NFL season and I finally am able to talk about the games. I was not a happy camper after Tom Brady got hurt against Kansas City Chiefs in the first week (Sunday, September 7th). It was supposed to be the beginning of another great football season and my favorite quarterback injured his left knee, so bad that it required surgery and would miss the remainder of the season. Technically it was the whole season as Brady got hurt in the first quarter. Then I was really depressed when the Patriots suffered an eviscerating loss 13-38 to the Miami Dolphins (0-16 last season) in Week 3. (I learned the word "eviscerating" from reading the sports section.)

"It's American football", the stranger said, looking at me as I was watching the New York Jets v. Kansas City Chiefs game. We had to make a rest stop at a McDonald on the way back from a Sunday drive in Hermann. I responded, "Ya, (Brett) Farve just made a short completion, the ball is at Chiefs 18". The stranger walked away, a puzzled look on his face. He turned around giving me a second look. Only much later I realized what happened, the man thought he had to explain American football to me, little did he know that he just encountered an Asian woman who is a sports fanatic.
That was not an isolated incident. During a business meeting on Monday morning, started with the men talking about Sunday games. One person commented "Let's stop talking about football in front of a lady." as he saw me walking into the room. To which I responded, "I don't mind as long we don't talk about the Detroit Lions or what happened to Tony (quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys) Romo's pinkie." Again, the person had a stunned look that I had such knowledge about NFL teams and players. Just like the time when my husband came into the house after his Sunday morning golf league and heard me yelling, "Go for it". He shook his head in resignation when I told him the excitement because Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers) was going for a 2-point conversion to tie the game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
To understand my love of sports, please read entries "NFL Playoffs" on January 16, 2007 and other 2008 posts on January 19th and February 3rd.
These photos were from the Rams v. Giants game on Sunday, September 14th. We left when the score was 27-13, with only 7 minutes left in the 4th quarter. We got home and saw the final was 41-13. Two weeks later, the Rams fired coach Scott Linehan after the loss to the Buffalo Bills. The next day the Oakland Raiders fired coach Lane Kiffin. Yet coach Rod Marinelli of the Detroit Lions still has his job even as the Lions currently at 0-8!
With Brady being out, I guess it would be alright for me to cheer for Eli Manning. After all, the Giants are my hometown team!
The 42 years old punter, #18 Jeff Feagles (photo above) getting off the field after the warm up. I did not realize that a person could still get a job in the NFL after 40. I guess it does not require much physical to be a punter or a kicker.
I always like to take photos of cameramen at work - capturing them while they are capturing other people in action.
Of course, the highlights of any football games, to the delights of the male fans, were the performances by a group of talented, highly intelligent, lovely young ladies. It was a welcome distraction especially when the team you are cheering for had not scored a touch down, your receivers keep dropping the ball and your quarterback either got sacked or throwing incomplete passes or worse interceptions.


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