Thursday, April 30, 2009


My April Progress Report is a No Progress Report. I did not do anything towards my goals of simple living. I had to make unexpected trip to New York attending to a family matter. (I would prefer not to provide any details at this time as the situation was private.) Currently, I am pleased to report that all is well.

After the trip, I spend most of the time playing catch-up at work. Since April 15th, I was pretty much glued to the television as Round 1 NHL Playoffs games were featured on Versus every night and on weekends.

It was not all un-productive as I managed to attend both City Council meetings (the City Council meets 2nd and 4th Mondays) and a Subdivision Trustees meeting. We have a new Mayor and three new Councilmen. Last year, the Mayor was supportive of my nomination to the Planning and Zoning Commission. I was not appointed because the Council at the time wish not to have too many Commissioners from the same Ward. I was not too terribly disappointed as it was not a paying job and like my husband said that I already have too many things on my plate.

Round 2 of the Playoffs starts tonight. It should be an exciting round with the Bruins v. the Canes and the Capitals v. the Penguins in the Eastern Conference. My beloved Red Wings taking on the Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks v. the Canucks in the Western Conference. I won't predict any outcomes. I am just so glad that the Canucks are still in the playoffs. Check out my shorthandedgoal blog for photos and posts about the playoffs.

Finally, 34 years ago (April 30, 1975) the Northern Vietnamese Communist took over South Viet Nam. 30 years ago (1979) my family made our final preparation for the boat journey, getting ready to escape Viet Nam from My Tho. I tried to re-construct my memories of how it all began. When and how exactly did my parents inform us that we would be making the almost suicidal journey? Was I scared or accepted the planning (what other options would I have anyway)? All the little details about our last meal together with my grandmother (Che Pho) kept putting more meatballs onto our plates. Where did the time go? I left Viet Nam as a teenager and now I am a middle age chubby woman who only cares whether Versus will show all my NHL playoffs games!

Monday, April 27, 2009


I hope you will enjoy this second post in my weekly Humor of the Week series. A few weeks ago while walking along Hamilton Parkway in Brooklyn, New York, I saw, then took a second and then a third look at the door in these photos. I don't know about anyone else but for a short person like me, it would take more than a jump to get inside. Do the people have to bring a ladder with them for each visit? Or just yell out loud and a ladder would be lower from the roof? I was tempted to knock on the door but I could not reach it! I did not see any evidence of stairs that was taken out or any kind of entrance/exit ramp. It looks like the door knob and keyhole are still there. Would any smart people have any logical explanations or educated guess about this door? There must be history or a story behind of what the door once was.

Friday, April 24, 2009


These wind driven kinetic sculptures were created by Lyman Whitaker. The whimsical calming wind sculptures are on displayed at Missouri Botanical Garden and at a park in my city. I really admire the creative art work and enjoy watching the sculptures move so beautifully in the gentle wind. Visit for information about the artists, the studio and other wonderful sculptures.
It was a beautiful, pefect day watching the wind sculptures dancing against the sky so blue and so clear with a few white clouds. I hope you enjoy a nice day at the park wherever you are.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Happy Earth Day! Here are a few photos I have taken of the beautiful flowers and another precious bird nest, in my neighborhood. I am sure individually we are doing what we can, reuse, reduce and recyle, in our homes and community. Therefore, I will not be like those celebrities broadcasting about being Green, yet live in mansions that require heating/cooling that would cost more than my annual income, or politicians preaching about global warming, yet flying around in private jets or those self-appointed environmentalists who drive around in gas guzzling SUVs, or pushing the popular green agendas, these people do not work at regular jobs or have to earn a decent living and could afford to write books or share their wisdom on talk shows. Some even received awards, for their inflated excellent work on "telling the truth", nothing but the truth!
This weekend there will be an Earth Day Expo at Forest Park. I plan to attend and will share interesting information, and of course, photos in the next post. Hope it will be sunny wherever you are this weekend!

Monday, April 20, 2009


When I saw the sign above while walking along Hamilton Parkway & 10th Avenue in Brooklyn during a recent trip to New York, I knew the photos would be great for a humor of the week post. First of all, would you trust your future to a psychic reading with an advertisement on a door between a corner restaurant and a convenience store? Also, why add the hand-written second sign? And if you dare to walk up the stairs, who would be there besides the psychic reader and who would know if you never came out alive?
Well, I was tempted to pay $5 just to ask the psychic person a question, "If you are really able to see into the future, why not walk over to the store next door and purchase a lottery ticket that would have all the winning numbers? Why waiting for $5 from a few desperate losers who wish to know what the future holds so they could avoid taking responsibility of creating their own success? At any rate, I hope this post brings a little humor to your week.

Friday, April 17, 2009


I hope you enjoy viewing as much as I enjoyed taking these photos and share my pleasant suprise of discovering a small wonder nestled so warmly and so cozy among the flowers.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Then Jesus said, "I tell you that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God." Matthew 19:24
You probably wonder and ask the question, "TOTA, what is it with your fascination with cemeteries?" The answer is because the above St. Paul Cemetery is right next to a building of Commerce Bank. The bottom photo shows a drive-thru ATM which gives you an idea where the bank is in proximity to the cemetery with the headstones visible to the right. I did not want to take photo of the front of the building as someone might be suspicious of my intention that I was staging a robbery. The bank parking lot is to the right after the stop sign in the photo below. St. Paul Cemetery, seen on the right side of the photo, is adjacent to the bank parking lot.
"OK, TOTA, so the bank is right next to a cemetery. What is so special to write about?" you again asked. Before we had direct deposits, I usually went to the bank at least once a month to deposit our paychecks. I often wondered about all the money a person had in his bank account while living whether it would make any difference when he died. It is ironic that a bank where living people try to save every dime and nickel, try to plan for their retirement, try to plan for the next vacation or accumulate material possessions to increase their social status, right next to it is the cemetery where death as the final resting place, where no matter how much money you have, lived in a mansion or a simple home, possessed how many sports cars and private jets, you could not take any of these items with you once you crossed the line or reached the end of living.
So here is my humble point of view, there are two things in life we all could be sure of, paying taxes and death. Therefore, my adoring fans and faithful followers, remember today is April 15th. Be sure to file your income tax and don't try to hide anything because the IRS will always find out and you will be in trouble. After paying your taxes like a good citizen is supposed to, try to save a few dollars for rainy days. But remember to enjoy your life and once in a while, spend money on things that would make you and your family happy (like Stanley Cup or Superbowl tickets) or bring everyone together for a nice dinner. You don't want to regret not living your life to the fullest because you never know when the next turn might be to the left into St. Paul Cemetery instead of to the right to make a deposit at Commerce Bank.

Monday, April 13, 2009


In a blog entitled "vanishingnewyork" by Jeremiah, there is a statement at the end of the page that reads "A New Yorker is someone who longs for New York" which I completely agreed. I am not sure if I could manage the fast pace of New York City like I did 20 years. After living in the Midwest, I would not want to trade my two-car garage, a nice backyard and plenty of parking space for the tight space and hectic flows of city living. Yet, New York is always in my heart because my family is there. Also because it was where I received my real life lessons "swim or sink", began a new life, learning English and the American culture, where my determination and strength were put to the tests as I worked full time while earning my college degrees. I still refer to New York as my hometown. The City always fascinates me with so many characteristics, history and ever changing neighborhoods of so many ethnic groups and cultures. Whether I would consider living in New York again, I am not sure. One thing I am sure that each visit will always have special memories and I will always long for New York, my hometown.
It was a special treat when my brother took us to this pier during our visit in December 2007. The above sculpture stands tall at 69th Street Pier at Bay Ridge Avenue. It emits a beam of light as a memorial to those who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Look closely and you will see Statue of Liberty (left side of the screen) and most of lower Manhattan.
The 69th Street Pier is the community's key seaside recreation spot. It attracts fishermen from other boroughs to find great catch of the day. A great view of the Verrazano Bridge could be seen from the pier even on a not-too sunny day.
The Verrazano Narrows Bridge, which connects Bay Ridge to Staten Island, was completed in 1964. Prior to the construction of the bridge, commuter ferry service was operated between this Bay Ridge Pier and the St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island.

Bay Ridge is in Brooklyn, southwest corner of New York City borough. To get to Bay Ridge by subway, take the R train Brooklyn line, getting off at Bay Ridge Avenue, 77th Street, 86th Street or 95th Street stations. (Be sure to check for any latest changes of the lines as other trains might be rotated by the MTA instead of the R as published on the subway map.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Wishing everyone a blessed Easter.

Friday, April 10, 2009


"God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" John 3:16
The Pieta Chapel - Rome, Italy - July 2008
Being at the Pieta Chapel was one of the most memorable moments and moving experience of our visit to the Vatican.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museum) Rome, Italy - July 2008
According to the tour guide, when viewers move from one side of the room to the other side, the eyes of Jesus in this tapestry depicting Christ at the Last Supper, will follow with intense gaze. As we moved slowly across the room, we saw for ourselves that the eyes in the tapestry did follow. Also the table in the tapestry below moved from left to right when we were at different angel. I am sure other paintings or tapestry would create similar appearances.

Friday, April 03, 2009


The new St. Louis Cathedral is on Lindell Boulevard in the Central West End. The Cathedral is known for its largest collection of mosaic art in the world. Look up the ceiling and you will see the heavens in the most beautiful art form. The annual Cathedral Concerts include the Vienna Boys Choir, Tenabrae, Chanticleer, Westminster Concert Bell Choir and our favorite, Christmas at the Cathedral.


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