Thursday, January 29, 2009


If I was a sea lion, I would not have pay someone to teach me how to swim. The instructor was very kind and encouraging even though my feet and arms coordination was terrible. I explained to her my fear of not able to feel the bottom of the pool. I could swim only if the water is not over my head when I have to stand up when I need a break. If only I would relax and don't think too much about when to turn my head side to side. I thought how similar with living my life and my weekly swimming lessons. I know the instructor is nearby, there are lifeguards around, the lane that I am in is only 4 '6" deep. All I have to do is stand up and the water is only up to my chest. Yet, my body is so tense with fear of drowning. How many times in life we are afraid of the unknown, afraid to take action, to apply for another job, to go back to school, to speak up, all because we don't think it is safe or something bad will happen?
This week, when the instructor asked if I wish to move over the next lane, I responded yes confidently. Half way down the lane, I looked up and saw "6 ft" on the side of pool, suddently my whole body just paralyzed and turned into a big rock. The fear of drowning took over, I started flapping my arms and feet like a frighten turtle, except I did not have a shell to hide. The instructor put out her hand, calm me down and I was able to finish my lesson with drinking a minimum amount of water.
Just like the time when I was floating fine until I saw the instructor on the side of the pool, I realized she no longer holding me, I immediately sunk to the bottom!
I just hope next week lesson will be better or I will be the worst student among six years old swimming class.
These photos were taken last summer at St. Louis Zoo.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Today is January 1, 4706 in the Lunar calendar. It is the Year of the Ox. It is my Year according to the Chinese astrology based on a cycle of 12 years (Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig) and the five elements - metal, water, wood, fire and earth. I am a metal Ox in the Chinese horoscopes. It got a little complicating since I was born on December 12th of the Ox year, so technically I am considered a water Tiger with a metal Ox tail. No wonder I have always suffered from identity crisis!
To all my adoring fans and faithful followers, Chuc Mung Nam Moi (Happy New Year in Vietnamese) and Gung Hay Phat Choy (Chinese), may you and your family enjoy many years of good health, prosperity and happiness.
Lion dance or dragon dance is one of the highlights of the New Year celebration. The dance is a ritual to whisk demons away and to bring prosperity to businesses and homes. Performers received money in red envelopes as an appreciation for their services.
Hey Qaptain Qwerty, look what I found. What a coincidence that I found this issue celebrating the New Year in 1994, the Year of the Dog, from the magazine named Tuoi Tre published by Vietnamese-American Youth Organization. Did you draw the front cover? Hope it brings back good memories seeing the magazine and the description of what the organization tried to provide to the community.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Here is an update on my quest to be clutter-free and not allowing useless stuff taking over our living space. This year, as it has been our tradition that the Sunday after Thanksgiving would be when we put up our Christmas tree and decorated the house, we sorted the ornaments into three groups, must-keep, maybe and to Good Will. The must-keep ornaments were those with our names, years and places we were on vacation. Of course, we also keep the Red Wings, Patriots and others that had family and personal attachment. The maybe ornaments were somewhat meaningful but not too sentimentals. We might consider donating these "maybe" next year. We took two banker boxes to Good Will and the lady there told me that they would put pricing on the items and on the shelves right away.
To keep myself from eating munchies all day, I decided to go thru the closets, gathered two large bags of clothing and dropped the items off a local Thrift Shop that supports group homes for mental & physical challenged adults. We also donated two boxes of things. I took the photos below to show the things we kept and it felt good to donate them, kind of letting go of the past and moving on to the clutter-free future. When my husband moved to Grand Haven from Detroit, he lived in an apartment and thought the porcelain dog and puppy would make him feel at home and less lonely being away from his family for the first time. That was in 1982, and CP said it was time to give the dogs away to someone else.
My sister CH and I used to go Pier 17, a multilevel dockside shopping mall at South Street Seaport, to hang out with sailors when the ships came into town during July 4th weekend and summer months. From Pier 17 you could have the view as far north as midtown Manhattan and as far south as the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge. There were also concerts, street performers and plenty of people-watching activities. We would wear light jean jackets with these silly looking pins (photo above). CH loved the sailors, their white uniform, and cool looking hats. We did not get drunk and had one-night stand or anything that would be shameful to our family, we just talked to the sailors, maybe flirt a little and when they got a little over-friendly, we got away by telling them we needed to use the wash room. The pins were popular back then in the late 80's. I put these pins in a box with other earrings and jewelries that no longer age appropriate for me to wear, and to Good Will they went. This handmade doll (photo below) was purchased at a craft show a few years ago. She looked cute in the rocker in the living room. Then we moved her to the guess room, sitting on the dresser. Maybe a child would spend more time playing with her instead of just being a decorated item in our house.

Friday, January 23, 2009


What in the world is The Loopy Ewe? How about an "educated" or a "lucky" guess? Sorry, there is no special prize or award for the correct answer. Please send your comments anyway, just for fun.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I did it, I cooked dinner last night. I could hear the laughters coming from Qaptain Qwerty all the way from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. In case you did not already know from reading my blog that I do not cook. I don't have any recipes, Vietnamese nor Chinese dishes. I enjoy eating the good food my Mom prepares but was never interested in cooking. My Mom said to me one time that without cooking skills, no one would marry me if we were in Viet Nam. I responded, "That was why we came to America."
Where we live, there are many restaurants along Main street, most of them are fast food. I would call to place an order, then either CP or I would pick up dinner on our way home from work. There is a favorite Mexican family restaurant where we usually ordered bistek zacatecano (strips of steak covered with tomatillo sauce served with tortillas) and combination plate with tamale, flauta, burrito and enchilada. We also order walleye sandwiches or BBQ ribs from other restaurants or pizza delivery.
We are trying to cut down on the expenditure of take out dinners, but I am so sick of salad, canned soups or cereal. We already packed sandwiches for lunch. One of my goals this year is to eat healthy, definitely no more fast food. So cooking a decent dinner would be the appropriate answer. Except for the bell peppers that I had to cut up into little pieces, other ingredients were just open the bags or container and place in the skillet. I also have to cut the sausage and the kielbasa. Surprisingly the bowties pasta turned out just right. I cooked enough for next day lunch and probably two more dinners. I plan to make fried rice this weekend.
Note to Qaptain Qwerty, make sure Mom is sitting down so she won't faint in disbelief when you tell her that I cooked dinner. I am sure she would never believe from looking at these photos that I actually cooked a decent meal. She probably thinks I did it with lot of help from CP.

The broccoli and cauliflower were raw. I was too hungry to wait so I decided to cook them the next day. I love mushrooms, shredded carrots (has to be shredded), bean sprouts, any kind of bell pepper, green, yellow and red.
This rice cooker (photo below) was a gift from my brother, TL, after I got married and moved to Michigan. The joke was that it was so easy that even someone like me who was (still am) so domestically challenged could cook a decent pot of rice. My mom showed me how to wash the rice, add the right amount of water, press the button and when the rice was cooked, the button popped up, that was all there was to know. Well, I must admit there were a few times the rice was either half cooked (not enough water) or really mushy (too much water). It must be the wrong kind of rice!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


The Lamplight by Loise Pinkerton Fritz, published in Salesian Inspirational Books by A Salesian Missions Publication 2002.

In this world of haste and hurry
Where there seems no time for Thee.
Lord, look upon Thy people
And draw all close, I plead.
We're prone to wander aimlessly
When there is none to guide,
But when we know our Savior, Christ,
There's purpose in our lives.
In this world where doubt and worry
Seem to have the upper hand,
Lord, look upon the masses
In Thy created lands.
Midst suffering and heartache,
Oh, be the Lamplight still,
That hearts might be inspired, Lord,
To do Thy holy will.
(Photos taken at Holy Family Church at the United Nations, New York City, Christmas 2007)

Monday, January 19, 2009


I had my first half-hour swimming lesson today. It was a lot of fun and the instructor was a very nice mid-30 young lady. I told her the last time I got in a pool was 20 years ago. We went thru the basic steps, pushing thru the water, feet flapping, keeping head above water, and floating on my back. I was able to swim the entire length of the pool, of course with the instructor nearby. I did not take any photos of the community pool. These photos were from the Alaska cruise on Princess Cruise Line. I look forward to my next swimming lesson.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


The phone rang, it was Kurt Warner (quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals). Kurt said, "Mrs. P, please cheer for the Philadelphia Eagles. We heard about the other teams that suffered defeats because you jinxed them with your cheering." It hurts to be known as a jinx in the sports world! Of course, my predictions stink too since I make a friendly wager with the boys at work that the Titans and the Giants will be in the Superbowl. So much for my sports analysis.

Last weekend, I picked the Tennessee Titans and they lost to Baltimore Ravens 10-13. I wanted the New York Giants to win (my hometown team and I like Eli Manning), Philadephia embarassed the Giants 23-11. I thought Carolina Panthers would have a better chance, I was glad Kurt Warner and the Cardinals won 33-13. Big Ben and the Steelers proved they were strong with a win 35-24 over San Diego Chargers. As the Ravens, the Cardinals, the Eagles and the Steelers advanced, the Conference Championships all gone to the birds!

I don't have anything in the house with Ravens. I only have cardinals and eagles as my husband has a pretty good collection of eagles. CP made the above cardinal at a stained glass class and the eagle below is an ornament from our trip in Alaska.

I look forward to watching the games but I will not make any predictions and at Mr. Warner's request, I will cheer (jinx) for the Eagles instead!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Lucy: It's Here! It's Here!

Lucy: This is My Year! It's going to be all mine! This is My Year!

Charlie Brown: Where does that leave the rest of us?

Lucy: Nowhere!


This is My Year!

This is the year that I will discard the emotional and mental baggage that have made me grumpy, sarcastic and angry at the world. This is the year that I will discard useless, meaningless earthly possessions that have cluttered my living space.

This is the year that I will say goodbye to negativity that have dragged me down. I will stop the irrational beliefs that have kept me spinning.

I will discard my own inflated ideas that others should always treat me well and that I should receive special treatments. This year I will encounter life's injustice not with acceptance of defeat but with courage to be strong and determination to create my own success.

This is the year that I will focus on making my own success by working hard, completing the tasks, being optimistic and self-aware of my abilities and limitation.

This is the year that I will not be afraid of finding meaningful work despite of the job market or the downturn in the economy. I will not stay at a job that turns dreary, just waiting for retirement or afraid that I would not be able to find another job because staying at a job that has become dreadful would be too many years of bitterness and resentment.

This is the year that I will make improvements and learn new skills.

This is the year that I will take swimming lessons to really learn how to be a good swimmer. I will schedule my boxing training often. I will make my workouts a priority.

This is the year that I will take extra weeks of vacation to visit my family in New York and really spend quality time with my Mother (to celebrate her 70th birthday and also spend the first Mother's Day with her since I moved away in 1988.)

This is the year that I hope to go back to Viet Nam, the birthplace I left when I was a teenager and now visiting it as a middle age woman. I hope to take the trip with my Sister and spend a whole month traveling from Sai Gon to Ha Noi.

I long to spend time with my nephew, just sitting in the same room, just being with him and if he let me, hug him, kiss him and tell him how much I love him.

This is the year that I will live my life to the fullest, to be aware of each breath, each moment, to appreciate each day, to enjoy the bird nests on the bare tree branches and to be alive and to be the best performer on the stage of life.

Unlike Lucy, I invite you to join me and share My Year!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


"God is my witness I will never be hungry again." Scarlett O'Hara, Gone With The Wind.

Last year my husband had a cold for a few days after Christmas while we were visiting my family in New York. After he got better, we decided to take the subway from Brooklyn to Central Park to take a few photos. When we passed by the restaurant Tavern on the Green, I told my husband that I used to help serving pasta dinners to the runners before the Marathon. When we debated whether to continue looking for a place for breakfast or going into Tavern knowing how much it would cost, "We are on vacation" was what CP always said when we had to make decision to spend money on something foolish.

As I sat in the dining room with festive Christmas decoration, fanciful table cloth, the fine china, the flashy overwhelmed wall paper, the flowery carpet and the formalities each server lavishing on the guests, I thought of what Scarlett said to Bhett Butler when he told her to go ahead and spend as much money as needed to make Tara what it once was, the wealthiest and extravagantly ornated plantation. "I want all the people who's been mean to me to be pea green with envy", O'Hara said. Ms. MK who told me that I could never find another job because I did not speak any English, the person who told me "Let's see how long you will last" when I told him that I would be working full time and attending college at night and the person who saw my face and told me that the job was offered to someone else when I arrived at the scheduled interview (the day before he told me I was perfect for the job and asked how soon I could start), I want all these people to be pea green with envy that I did what they told me I could not. I did not have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. I did all the hardwork, the American ways, working and paying taxes, financing my own college education, purchasing my own home and God is my witness, I will never be hungry and that I have achieved my American Dream.
The Tavern with one of the many glittering fancy chandeliers and soaring vaulted ceilings. The restaurant is a maze of dining rooms, each decorated with different fantasy theme and the garden area which is enclosed under a beautiful canopy of lighted trees.
According to an information sheet, when originally built in 1870, the rural Victorian Gothic structure now known as Tavern on the Green was designed by Jacob Wrey Mould as a sheepfold. The first incarnation of the restaurant was launched on October 20, 1934. In 1976, the Tavern reincarnated and dazzled New Yorkers with the additional glass enclosed Crystal and Terrace Rooms, lavish use of stained glass, etched mirrors, erratic antique prints and excessive adorned chandeliers.
$105 for breakfast for two that included two tiny cups of coffee, two glasses of orange juice, a cheese omelet, a scrambled egg with ham and harsh brown, English muffins with butter and jam, no white or rye toast, was it worth it? The server told us that "traditionally" no toast being served at New Year breakfast. What tradition and who decided that it was a tradition? Were we supposed to know the tradition? Since we asked for toast, that proved that we did not belong at the Tavern. We were just two "wannabe" poor country mouse in a place where we don't belong. A meal at the Tavern is not about the food or service, it's about being there and about being seen of being there!
The sign reads, Private Dining Room, where celebrities and distinguished New Yorkers, enjoy their meals away from the masses. Photo below showed the decorative whimsy in the waiting area, right outside the Garden Bar.

PS: This January 10th marks the 29th Anniversary of my family arriving in New York City, beginning a new life and becoming Americans. God Bless America.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


This Zuzu's Petals is a gift shop on Main Street in Washington, Missouri. There is another gift shop also named Zuzu's Petals in Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York. The photos I took of the store in Brooklyn was in the memory stick which I accidentally deleted together with photos from the Rangers v. Canadiens game. (It was a year ago and I still feel the pains - just kidding). Please note that Zuzu's Petals restaurant in Kirkwood, Missouri has been closed for a couple of years. It would be terrible for somone from Florida to travel all the way to St. Louis only to find out that the restaurant was no longer in business. If that happens, I would be more than happy to offer that person a few Captain's Wafers!

Monday, January 05, 2009


It was no fun being wire-less. For about eight days I did not have wireless network connection on my laptop. I had to bring the laptop down to the basement and connected directly to the router. In the summer with typical St. Louis heat, it was nice to be in the basement where it was cool. Not in the winter because I was freezing as well as uncomfortable without my docking station connecting to the regular keyboard. To make matter worse, my husband came down with a cold thus unable to assist me. Later between my husband and my brother, we spent over an hour without positive results. We kept getting messages such as "no such IP address or network unavailable". My brother suggested a Compact Wireless-G USB Adapter. I purchased the adapter and attempted to perform the installation by myself. I followed all the steps in the instruction leaflet. First I inserted the Setup Wizard CD-ROM, then connected the Adapter into a USB port when prompted by the Setup Wizard. After putting in the WEP key needed for connection, then the passphrase, I got a message, "Congratulations! Setup is complete". Well, it was not really completed. I still received a message telling me that there was no wireless connection available. I decided to shut down the laptop as it was getting late. The next day to my surprise, I had wireless network connection on the laptop. I wish I knew what happened so I could share with others or at least know what to do the next time. It was not a joke after all, if your computer does not work, just close Windows or shut it down, walk away and it will work when you turn it back on.
Without internet connection, I decided to organize the CDs and photos from our recent Mediterranean vacation. Photos above and below were from Tunis, Tunisia (Africa). Those columns could be communication towers and the stand below would serve as a nice stand for laptop usage. There was enough room for a cup of coffee and a biscotti.

I don't see any wires for cable connection here. Photos above and below were the broken fragments of sculpted marble and stone at the Forum in Rome. While others were busy taking photos of remains of palaces, Arco di Tito (the triumphal arch erected in AD 81), Tempio di Vesta (the original temple dedicated to Vesta, the goddess of the hearth), the tour guide noticed and asked why I kept pointing my camera to the ground. "What kind of photos are you taking?" he asked. I told him I looked for remnants that would be different from everyone else photos. I am no professional photographer, but look through the guidebooks or books about ancient Rome and you might see these same photos. I specially like the photo below with the pretty purple flowers growing next to what once was an elegant grandeur of Roman architecture.

Sunday, January 04, 2009


I was not hopefully that my beloved New England Patriots would make it to the Super Bowl without Tom Brady. I thought with everything in place, Matt Cassel would at least carry the team into the playoffs. After the Dolphins eliminated the Jets, I decided to cheer for Chad Pennington and the Dolphins as they deserved the support for coming back from being the last place finish last year. I also did not like the fact that the Jets traded Pennington to make room for Farve after he changed his mind about accepting a coaching job at a retirement home in Arizona!
My husband still believes that the Rams should never trade Kurt Warner. Whenever we go to a game, CP would only cheer for the Rams only when they play defense. He would pretend to make fun of Marc Bulger for throwing like a girl. CP said he did that just because I like Bulger. Just for old times sake, I post the above photo showing the banner from 1999 when the St. Louis Rams won the Super Bowl and Kurt Warner was named MVP. Someone commented that the Super Bowl is named as World Championships and for baseball, the World Series, yet there are only American/Canadian teams participated.
My Wild Card weekend was ruined. Of all the teams, only the Cardinals (30-24 over the Falcons) moved on to meet the Panthers in the Divisional match-up. The Dolphins fell to the Ravens 9-27 while the Chargers defeated the Colts 23-17 in OT. I am sure that being named the League MVP for the 3rd time did not help ease the pains for Peyton Manning. Coach Dungy is again evalutating whether he would retire after his 8th season with the Colts. The Eagle beat the Vikings 26-14, no crying for me there as I don't care much for neither teams. What else could happen to make my weekend worse than having the teams I cheered for eliminated? Well, how about my eye glasses broken in half! I need these glasses at night after I remove the contact lenses. I did not know my own strength and broke the frame in half when I tried to make adjustment. Why does it have to happen to such a nice person like me?

Friday, January 02, 2009


I had to work today. Most of the people in the company chose to take time off as vacation day. I did not mind much as the office was quiet. No phone calls, no loud-talkers, or no individual who spends time on the phone yakking about feeding raccoons and squirrels in his backyard. It is frustrating when your workload is piling up while others shamelessly getting their paychecks without actually do much work. Well, enough about my hard day at the office. I found these comic drawings while continued on my quest to be clutter-free. I started to take photos of things that are sentimental or plan to use in future posts before discard, recycle or giving the items away.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


Wishing you and your family a happy new year filled with love, peace and blessings.
Photo above was taken at Rockefeller Center and a bottle of champaign (photo below) on a building (if you know the name of the building, be the first to tell me - no winning prizes, just the title as my #1 adoring fan - haa haa) on Washington Avenue, downtown St. Louis.


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