Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Before we left New York, Benjamin wanted to take a few photos so he could show his new friends in St. Louis special landmarks that regular tourists don't get to see when visiting the Big Apple. Park Slope, Brooklyn, is where my sister CH has been living for more than 10 years. Her condominium is only a block from #2 & #3 subway line. A few blocks away are the Brooklyn Library, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. CH said that purchasing the condo has been the best decision in her life. Park Slope has much to offer to young people, single or married with children, and it is only a few subway stops from Manhattan where real estate is so much higher.

Above is The Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch at Grand Army Plaza. According to Wikipedia, "Originally known as Prospect Park Plaza, but renamed in 1926,[2] it is perhaps best known for the Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Arch, Brooklyn’s version of the Arc de Triomphe. It is also the site of the Bailey Fountain and a monument to John F. Kennedy, as well as statues of Civil War generals Gouverneur Kemble Warren and Henry Warner Slocum, along with busts of notable Brooklyn citizens Alexander J.C. Skene and Henry W. Maxwell.[3]

The Quadriga - Columbia in her chariot (below). "The Quadriga resides at the top and depicts the lady Columbia, an allegorical representation of the United States, riding in a chariot drawn by two horses. Two winged Victory figures, each leading a horse, trumpet Columbia's arrival. The lower pedestals facing the park hold the Spirit of the Army group and the Spirit of the Navy group. Installation of the groups began four years later, starting with the Quadriga on December 4, 1898, and finishing with the Navy group on April 13, 1901. The work took nearly seven years to complete, about twice as long as the construction of the arch itself. The arch is 80 feet high (23 m) and 80 feet wide with an interior arch height of 50 feet (15 m).", according to Wikipedia.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I dedicate this post to my husband and also to Qaptain Qwerty for their great sense of humor with comments like, "Look TOTA, gums on the streeet. Quick, take a picture of it.", as a way to make fun of how I constantly snapping images of everything around me. (That is what digital cameras are for.) Well, guess what, it really happened, I did take photo of gums on the street. Last May, after a few days in Bath Beach, I spent the night at my sister's condo in Park Slope. The evening news featured Cipriani Club Residences, a condominium at 55 Wall Street, tried to entice potential buyers to move into the building with an attractive option of rent/lease to buy. When we passed by the building the next day, I took the photo above and without realizing that there was a piece of gum on the second "I" in the engraved "Cirpiani" in the photo below. Enlarge the photo if you don't believe me. Honestly, I did not see the gum until I got back to St. Louis and looked closely at each photo.
So go ahead, my dear husband and "little" brother, have a good laugh. I admit it, I take photos of gums on the streets!

Saturday, September 26, 2009


The light rain came in early morning, then the pouring, as if a giant bucket of water came straight down from the sky above. I stayed inside all morning, then decided to run errands in the late afternoon. When I went outside, I saw the rainbow. It was so beautiful. It made me happy to see the rainbow, as a reminder from God that there is always hope and to keep the faith. Just like the Vietnamese expression, "Sau con mua, troi lai sang", After the rain, there will be sunshine.
These photos were taken with my cheesy camera that has only 5x optical zoom. First, I was kind of upset that I could not take better photos for my blog, but then I came to my senses. I should be thankful that I was able to enjoy the rainbow with my own eyes, that I could see the beautiful colors of the rainblow lining the sky. How many people would care about my silly blog or appreciate the photos I have spent time selecting and posting? Anyway, I hope you enjoy these "cheesy" photos and that you will see the rainbows with your own eyes and to treasure those beautiful moments.


During our trip to Michigan last August, we stopped at a really nice rest stop near Elhart, Illinois. The lady at the counter was very friendly and she provided us helpful information about Route 66. I especially enjoyed the above display of historical artifacts from people who travelled the Mother Road during her glorious days.

Below is Bill Shea's Historic 66 Museum, a private museum that filled to the rim collections of Route 66 memorabilia. When we stopped by, Mr. Shea was eager to give us a tour and if we had time, we could spend a whole week listening to stories and looking at the jackets as proof of his working years, first with Texaco and then Marathon, after serving the country in World War II. We got permission to take pictures of old gas pumps, signs and products that were used to be sold in by-gone gas stations. There was even an old telephone booth with a rotating phone that is in working condition.
Benjamin tried to keep smiling even though he was so hungry when we came upon this abandoned Route 66 Cafe (above). Photo below shows Benjamin impersonated Gomer Pyle, pretending to be pumping gas like the character Gomer working at Willie's Gas Station in the Andy Griffith Show.
T-bird at the crossroads of historic Route 66.

Friday, September 25, 2009


As promised, for this St. Louis Friday series, photos from The Great Forest Park 2009 Balloon Race. We had to rush to St. Louis Blues Fanfest, so we did not take photos of the Energizer Bunny, hopefully next year, including the Balloon Glow on Friday night!
Here are a few interesting facts - The Great Forest Park Balloon Race is the most well-attended, 100,000 plus spectators, in the United States, and the largest sporting event in Missouri.
It is the second oldest balloon race in the United States, with Albuquerque, Mexico being the oldest.
The Balloon Race started in 1973 and only cancelled twice - in 2001 after September 11th and in 1983 due to high wind. This year there are 70 hot air balloons took to the sky.
The Energizer Bunny lands and puts out an X at a select location and the team that drops a bag of birdseed closest to the X mark is the winner of the Balloon Race.
Here is a saving tip for the family budget - You can fly a balloon for approximately 3.5 hours on 44 gallons of propane. The cost of a flight is seldom more than a few dollars. Hot air balloon "engines" are the burners that heat the air inside the balloon. Because hot air rises, the heated air lifts the balloon and makes flight possible. I am considering selling my car, purchase a hot air balloon as my mode of transportation to work. I have plenty of hot air and I know people I could get hot air from, it is the wind that I am a bit worry. Any suggestions?

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Last Saturday as we were leaving Scottrade Center after the 2nd period of the Blues v. Stars game (the Blues lost 4-2 to Dallas), I mentioned to my husband that the sculptures at Citygarden are spotlighted and the walkways are lit with foot-lighting. We decided to drive by for a look. When we got there, knowing I would like to take a few nice photos, my husband told that I could take the pictures from the southeast corner and he would stay in the truck as there was no parking space nearby. CP said I should stay where he could see me and not walk into the park. As I was taking the photo below of the sculpture "Eros Bendato" by a Polish artist named Igor Mitoraj, I heard someone saying "Do you have 85 cents?". I turned around and found a homeless man standing next to our truck asking my husband for money. CP gave the man a handful of change, more than 85 cents, from the cup-holder while making sure I was ok. I lifted my camera into position, thinking if the man tried to do something funny, the flash could blind him, enough to give us time to get away.
According to the information in the brochure, artist Igor Mitoraj was inspired by ancient cultures and in this bronze sculpture, he constructed the head of Eros, the Greek god of love and desire that has been excavated and lies on its side with eyes and mouth wrapped in bandages. The bandages symbolize civilization as broken in which desires and ideas were imprisoned and at the same time, held together despite destructive forces created by so many opposing views in the world. Below is the Two Rabbits by Tom Claassen, a Dutch artist. The sculptures are created in traditional bronze but enveloped in white paint, creating the impression of marshmallowy lightness.
The homeless man took the change, said thanks and walked away. I quickly got back into our Ford Ranger and we left without taking any more photos. In my wild imagination, it could have been a "what if" story of someone tried to carjack or attack us, the worse would be we would get shot, without a chance to surrender our vehicle or my purse. It could have been a bad story for the late night news! A few years after we moved to St. Louis, probably 1997 or 1998, a person was killed while sitting in his car, waiting for his wife to come out of the house so they could go to their English class. Two teanagers walked up to the person, shot him in the head, pulled his body out of the car and left him bleeding on the sidewalk. The killers did not need a vehicle, they just wanted a joyride as they abandoned the car later after having enough fun. The victim was a Vietnamese soldier serving under South Vietnamese army, was imprisoned by the Communist for almost 20 years, survived all the torture and mistreatment, after years of waiting to unite with his family in the US, finally came to America so he could live in peace and freedom. He died a senseless death on the street of St. Louis six months after arriving the land of liberty. To this day, I am still haunted by this tragic story. The photos in this post will be the only night photos of Citygarden in my collection because I do not wish to take another chance of a "what if" ending story.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


During my visit to NYC last May, my sister treated me to a great breakfast at The Usual Restaurant on Vanderbilt Avenue (Park & Prospect) in Park Slope. Like me, CH does not cook, especially just for herself. She told me that she enjoys breakfast and it is a treat when she has someone to share the meal with. The day before (May 6th) we spent a wonderful afternoon at Brooklyn Botanical Garden and in the evening we went into the City for a nice dinner at a BBQ place near Union Square.
As we walked into The Usual, with all the posters and decorations on the wall, the first and only thing that caught my eyes was the plaque below "The Canadiens Club". I asked the person who greeted us , "Who is the Habs fan here?". The next hour, while enjoying my two eggs over easy, harsh brown, ham and toast, I had one of the most exciting discussions about hockey with Mike, the owner of The Usual, while my sister being so understanding, sat quietly eating her breakfast. He is originally from Montreal, of course, and a few years ago purchased this restaurant with his brothers. I told Mike about my goals of seeing all the Original Six home games, about my trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and about my sports blog called Short-handed Goal. We felt so connected when Mike told the story about his father made all the kids promise that they would never let go of the Montreal Canadiens season tickets priviledge. I treasure this encounter and was glad to meet a truly hockey fan from Montreal.

When we were ready to leave, Mike told us to wait. He went to his office and came back with a Canadiens cap as a gift to me. That was so sweet and thoughtful. Mike, if you happen to read this, "I am wearing the hat, but only when the Habs are not playing against my Red Wings" haa haa !!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


We had a fantastic weekend (actually I did, more than my husband) starting with seeing the Colorado Avalanche visiting on Friday night, then another game on Saturday of the Dallas Stars without a chance to see Mike Modano (I was so very disappointed). There were other activities around town prior to the evening game including the St. Louis Blues Annual Fanfest when the fans had the opportunity to get autographs and get up close and personal with the players. The Great Forest Park 2009 Balloon Race also took place on Saturday and we took a lot of neat photos of the balloons. (You know how much I love watching the balloons flying up into the big open sky.)
Come back later this week for more photos of the balloons in the St. Louis Friday series post. We already planned for next year that we would take the Friday afternoon off to get a good spot for the Balloon Glow on Friday evening. Then on Saturday we will have a picnic and spend a whole day in the park. Just hope the weather will be as nice like this year.
Above photo of the fans waiting to get autograph from the goalie Ty Conklin (he was with the Red Wings last season). The two lovely young ladies with perfect hairdo, polished nails and make up, welcoming Conklin to St. Louis. I wonder how many real hockey fans walking around the arena in high heels like these lovely young ladies who probably had other agendas than hockey games!
After the game, actually after the 2nd period, my husband requested (more like begging) that we should leave. I agreed since it was pre-season game and watching hockey two days in a row would be a torture for my husband (or anyone) who is not as fanatic as I am. We stopped by Citygarden and took the photo below. Come back later and I will share a "what if" or "it could have gone badly" story that you would find scary.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Twenty years later, this corner of Lexington and 68th Street, still looks exactly the same as when I last saw it in 1989. I remembered passing this orange cone marking some kind of sewer utility work being done here. When I made a visit last May to Hunter College, my alma mater, I looked at the orange cone and thought of all those years rushing to evening classes after my full time job and then running down the stairs trying to catch the train at 9:45 p.m. The same corner, the same orange cone, without anyone around actually doing any work - exactly the same as it was in 1989.
I wish I could ask these "Lady Liberty" why they stood so close in this particular corner at Battery Park. Would it make more sense for one of them to take up a spot at another corner for maximum exposure? It seems that most of the living statues are performed by men since they could "hold" better than women. I snapped a quick photo and moved away before the "Lady" had a chance to demand a fee.
The man in the orange vest (photo above) looked like he was guarding someone working underground or just making sure no one walked right into the hole while busy texting. The same for the construction workers (photo below) as they must be either on their coffee break or waiting for materials to be delivered. In a city where people are constantly rushing and moving at high speed, there are many that stood still as if in suspended state. In a crowded street, I like to step aside and watch others rushing by and those who took their time walking as if refusing to get on the roller coaster of city living.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


This shrine was erected in 1959. The Carrara Marble Statue of Our Lady of Lourdes from Italy is inscribed "Mary, Loving Mother of Jesus, Protect us on the Highway". This shrine was placed here, in Waggoner, Illinois, to give travelers a chance to pray for a safe trip.
A series of sign along a nearby fence recite the "Hail Mary".

Friday, September 18, 2009


Below - "Big White Gloves, Big Four Wheels" by Jim Dine, American artist. Pinocchio welcomes visitors to Citygarden.

This will be the first post of "St. Louis Friday" series and I thought a post about Citygarden would be most appropriate as this new sculpture park right in downtown St. Louis has become a major new destination attraction. Opened in June of this year, the two block sculpture garden has received praises from "experts" as well as regular people around the country. This urban public park is completely open, accessible and fun for the whole family. The adults enjoy the sculptures, the lush landscape, reflecting pools or a drink at a cafe while the kids having fun climbing up the Two Rabbits or getting wet on a hot day running thru "the sprays from the water leapt six feet into the air from 102 nozzles implanted in a paved plaza" (Commerce Magazine).
Above is "Zenit" by Mimmo Paladino, Italian artist.
Below is "Tai Chi Single Whip" by Ju Ming, Taiwanese artist.

I thought of my nephew, JL and a great time we would have if I could take him to Citygarden and all other fun places. I plan to put together to send to JL another "picture book" of Benjamin and what is happening in St. Louis.
The garden has drawn steady crowd of tourists, art fans, office workers, loft dwellers and many others who wanted to experience a relaxing and peaceful moments in a Citygarden.
The best of it all is no admission fees and no specific schedule (hours of operation) to follow.

More about Citygarden in future St. Louis Friday posts. Visit or call 314-802-9571 for an audio tour.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Nicknamed "Big Board", the New York Stock Exchange is the largest securities exchange in the world. NYSE can handle a trillion shares of stock per day and how these stocks perform each day is broadcasted as news around the world. This 1903 building has an impressive Corinthian entrance and my all-time favorite, the American flag spread across the columns.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


This globe was recovered from the ruins of the World Trade Center buildings and is placed here at Battery Park as a monument for the strength in the American spirit.
"Terrorist attacks can shake the foundation of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.
Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature, and we responded with the best of America, with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could." President George W. Bush's address to the nation on Tuesday night, September 11, 2001.


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