Sunday, May 31, 2009


Last week Benjamin got his first ride in the T-bird. He had the time of his life when he (sort of) took over the wheel (photo below) driving down the road with his hair (actually only eight strings of yellow yarn) flowing in the wind. Benjamin started to sound just like my husband when he commented that it is so wonderful to be in the open space, breathing fresh air and enjoying God's country.
The next day I offered to take Benjamin out and he refused to get into my 7-year old Mazda 626 (bottom photo) because it was not as cool as the T-bird and not a convertible. So much for simple living and non-materialistic.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


May has been another busy month with a visit to NYC the first 10 days and with NHL playoffs games every evening and weekends, I did not make any progress towards my quest of de-cluttering and simple living. At the beginning, it was easy to discard items that no longer carry meanings or outdated. It is getting harder to let go of things such as books, family memories and personal sentimental. On a positive note, I have not made many purchases without giving up an equal quantity of existing items. I am sure you would agree that de-cluttering include not only getting rid stuff we already have and also not making new purchases.
Our church is planning a rummage sale at the end of June as a fundraising for a local shelter. It would be a good motivation for me to seriously gathering items that are in good condition as donations to a good cause.

I saw and quickly captured the above photo but did not see who the owner was. I was on my way back to my sister's place after dropping off two large bags of clothing as donation from CH at a thrift store on Flatbush Avenue. Was the owner of these bags a typical bag lady or a homeless man and the bags were all of his earthly possessions?

CH told me she has tried to de-clutter her condo and hopes to make significant progress prior to her trip to Viet Nam in September this year. On our way to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden the day before, CH told me that she almost purchased a 600 square foot condo at this building (photo below) for a hefty price of $110K. That was in 1994, and even in this downturn economy, the seller could still ask for $200K easily. The realtor said that was a good price considering the building is right across the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, nice Public Library, two blocks from the subway station and it is, after all, Park Slope, a hip, relatively safe neighborhood and with lot of characters in Brooklyn!

Friday, May 29, 2009


STANLEY CUP FINAL - this is the most wonderful time of the year - my beloved Detroit Red Wings won the Western Conference Championship, getting ready for another re-match in the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Let the Real Party Begin. GO WINGS !!!!!!!!
On Wednesday evening, May 27th, my beloved Detroit Red Wings closed out the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 5 at the Joe, for a back-to-back trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Guess where I was while the entire game was going on? I had a work commitment, Board of Directors meeting started at 6:30 pm and I was only able to catch the last minute of regulation in the 3rd period. That was already after 9:00 p.m. I called my husband to let him know that I was coming home, promised that I would drive carefully, not speeding, and to make sure the game was still being recorded. I got home just in time to see Number 43 scored the overtime goal at 3:58 minutes into the 1st overtime. As I looked thru all the photos I took of the Red Wings, I saw that I captured a few of Darren Helm. Perhaps I should call the scout at the Red Wings and tell them that I have the skills that recognize talents early on :)
These photos were taken on April 6,2008 at the Red Wings home game v. Chicago Blackhawks. My husband got the tickets for my birthday because he wanted to fulfill my dreams of seeing all the Original Six Teams on home-ice. So far I only attended two games - New York Rangers v. Montreal Canadiens at the Garden and Detroit Red Wings v. Chicago Blackhawks at the Joe. I saw all the Original Six teams played except Toronto Maple Leafs at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


This "Caring Hands" sculpture by Leon Bronstein is on displayed in front of a Skilled Care Center and Residential Community on Big Bend Boulevard, near Daugherty Ferry Road in the City of Valley Park. As you could see, Benjamin is in good hands and quiet comfortable :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


After we sang Happy Birthday to Mom, the cake was cut and distributed, I sat and listened to Mom repeating events she has told many times before. I saw no need to tell her that I already heard these stories. I knew someday I would wish I could hear Mom telling these same stories but she would be no longer around. Later, I asked Mom if I could look over her vast collections of photos in albums that are neatly organized and labeled. We had a wonderful time, just the two of us, looking over family photos including those when we first came to New York in 1980 taken with the really cheesy Kodak camera using 110 millimeter film.
(Photo below of cherry blossoms was taken on Saturday, May 2nd during a walk around Bay Ridge neighborbhood.)

Mom giggled while telling me about the black and white photos in her youth, the different poses, especially when she was 17 years old. Mom pointed out who was who in her family and her friends in Viet Nam in each photo. I tried to write down in my notebook as fast as I could without asking Mom to slow down because I did not want to interrupt her thoughts. I marveled at the differences between our lives, from birth, childhood, grew up in Viet Nam then to America, marriages, to the changes in our world that shaped the persons we have become, the cultures that both included opportunities as well as barriers to us a women, where we are and what we will be.
Mom was the only daughter and the youngest child with three older brothers while I was the oldest child with a sister and two brothers. When Mom was born, Viet Nam was part of French Indochina (the federation ended in 1954 after the French surrendered at Dien Bien Phu) while the US escalated its involvement when I came into the world in the 1960s.

(All photos below taken on Wednesday, May 7, 2009 at Brooklyn Botanical Garden.)
(I took the above photo while imagining Mom and I sitting together on the bench in the garden talking and sharing stories.) Mom got married when she turned 20; that was the year I came to America, after escaped from the Communist controlled and also a possible arranged marriage. I got married when I was 28 years old (a really old maid), living in Michigan; at 28, Mom was a mother of 4, living in Cho Lon, Viet Nam.
When we came to America (NYC) in 1980, Mom was 41 years old, having to start her life over, learning a new language and adjusting to a new culture. Would I have the strength to do over at that age, giving up my home, my car, my comfortable living for the chance to live in freedom? I thought of the time when I tried to explain things to Mom, only to find out later that I was wrong. Mom never had a job outside of the family business. She never learned to drive and travel on vacation was a luxury for her generation. I had plenty of opportunities to obtain higher education, working as office professional and making financial decisions without seeking prior approval from anyone. Mom loves to show off her cooking while I love talking about hockey and football.

At 70 years old, Mom still has beautiful and almost flawless skin. She takes pride in her cooking and taking care of her only grandson brings her happiness. What would I be when I am 70 years old? What purpose do I have in life besides my hockey games? Why do we always have regrets and wish we could erase the times when we were disrespectful to our parents or believed that we knew more than they did? I am lucky that I didn't have a daughter who would give me the heartache and half of the headache I caused my parents. Thank you Mom for all the loving you have given me. Happy 70th Birthday!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


We attended the Memorial Day Service at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery (approximately 30 minutes driving time from where we live). The Service was scheduled to start at 10:00 a.m. but was delayed briefly due to the rain. The program began with Opening Ceremonies, Memorial Processional, National Anthem, Posting of Colors, Pledge of Allegiance, Memorial Prayer, Memorial Wreath Ceremony, Benediction and Closing Ceremonies. A memorial address was given by Mr. James R. Mueller, Post Commander-in-Chief, Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Musical Medley was provided by United States Air Force Band of Mid-America (photo above) and St. Louis Gateway Singers.
It was wonderful seeing so many people attended the Service despites of the gentle rain. The sun finally came out when the ceremony was almost completed. My husband and I as well as many others stood up during the reading of participating organizations and veterans groups, especially when Viet Nam Veterans of America was mentioned.
Let's never forget those who died that we all live in Freedom and Liberty.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Inscription on a memorial plaque at the American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach, "These Endured All And Gave All That Justice Among Nations Might Prevail and That Mankind Might Enjoy Freedom and Inherit Peace."
Thanks to Sammi, our tour guide in Carthage, Tunisia, after the regular stops at Bardo National Museum and Sidi Bou Said, Sammi arranged an un-scheduled visit to the World War II North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial. I have always felt a sense of gratitude and respect when visiting National Cemetery, it was even more special during our vacation because it reminded us to pause and remember the men and women who gave their life and fought with honor and commitment so we could enjoy freedom and liberty.
On this wall are engraved the names of 3,724 American Missings who gave their lives in the military services ranging from North Africa to the Persian Gulf during World War II. Photos below showed headstones of final resting places of 2,841 American soldiers.
July 2008 Carthage,Tunisia, North Africa

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Benjamin in front of the mural, a beautiful memorial tribune to the heroes and the victims of the September 11th attack. The mural is on 86th Street and 20th Avenue in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Photos taken on Thursday, May 7, 2009.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I always like this painting at McDonald on 86th Street in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. It is much better than the mass-produced framed, made in China, meaningless posters. Perhaps next time I should try to find out who the artist was and to compliment the restaurant for selecting the painting. You probably could tell by now that I appreciate paintings that are patriotics, especially those featuring New York City landmarks such as Statue of Liberty.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


My adoring fans and faithful readers, please join me in extending a warm welcome to Benjamin Saturday. Isn't he adorable? Benjamin was a gift from my World Best Nephew (WBN) during my visit to Bensonhurst (thus Benjamin) on the 6th day of the week (thus Saturday). Above photo shows Benjamin (aka BEST) in front of Brooklyn Public Library and Grand Army Plaza in Park Slope.
For 10 days earlier this month, I was in NYC having a wonderful time with my Mom celebrated her 70th birthday and a nice family dinner at Tropical Malaysian Restaurant for Mother's Day. (I was pleasantly surprised that Mom agreed to let us treat her to a dinner and did not insist on cooking instead.) My sister and I visited the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and had dinner, just the two of us girls, at Blue Smoke BBQ on 27th Street, near Union Square in Manhattan (the owner is originally from St. Louis but we did not receive a discount). I was trusted to take my WBN to school in the morning, and one evening when both my brother and his wife attended a function, after homework, I helped WBN with a bath and read to him at bedtime. I hope that proved that I could be trusted as a good babysitter :)
Special thanks to my brother TL for his understanding in making sure that I would not miss any NHL playoffs games, especially when the Red Wings were playing. I even managed to turn WBN into a Red Wings fan and hopefully he will become a hockey fanatic like me :)
More about my visit and of course, plenty of photos of BEST, my visit to Hunter College, my former work place on Exchange Place, Wall Street area and Coney Island, with lot of stories, in future posts.

Monday, May 18, 2009


The sign reads, "Happy Mother's Day. Mom called and said she wants a mattress."
Saw during a walk on Sunday, May 10th, clever marketing by Sleepy's on 86th Street and 23rd Avenue in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Message to my World Best Nephew (WBN) - WE WON, Our Red Wings eliminated the Little Duckies - moving on to Round 3 - GO WINGS !!!!!!

Monday, May 11, 2009


Corner of Fort Hamilton Parkway and 9th Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. The "PIZZA" sign and the arrow pointed down supposedly to the building below but where?

Mr. Wong will not ask whether you wish to have your crust medium or heavy starched. And don't ask for extra cheese and extra pepperroni on your pizza either!

Sunday, May 10, 2009


St. Mary, Mother of Jesus Church in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
Happy Mother's Day to all MOMS and to all those who love and take care of others just like Mothers would without the official title.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Prayers Are the Stairs to God (by Helen Steiner Rice)

Prayers are the stairs

We must climb every day.

If we would reach God

There is no other way.

For we learn to know God

When we meet Him in prayer

And ask Him to lighten

Our burden of care.

So start in the morning

And, though the way's steep.

Clim over upward

Till your eyes close in sleep.

For prayers are the stairs

That lead to the Lord,

And to meet Him in prayer

Is the climber's reward.

Monday, May 04, 2009


At first look, it was just a regular furniture store (photo above) on 86th Street (36th Street) in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn but the large sign on top of the building (photo below) listed FUNITURE. Perhaps it was not a mis-print but a clever marketing message that the store wanted to tell potential customers that their tables, chairs, beds ect. are more than just household items but FUN to have in the house.
When I saw the mop being dried in front of a house on Bay 40th Street, I wondered if it would be considered like "toilet seat" in front of a mobile home in a trailer park somewhere in the South where the labels such as "hicks" and "red necks" are being used to explain the reason for the toilet seats or broken vehicles taking permanent places in the front yard!

Saturday, May 02, 2009


Empire Beauty School on 86th Street in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.


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