Wednesday, March 31, 2010


We went downtown on Sunday for the St. Louis Blues v. Edmonton Oilers game. It was not a real exciting game since the Oilers are in the last spot in the Western Conference. The Blues needed to win more than the Oilers because the Blues are still in the 10th spot, with not much chance to get into the Playoffs. The Blues won 3-2. Before the game, we drove by the Landing and I took these photos showing the rising water completedly covered the waterfront. You could judge for yourself how high the water was by looking at the photo with the Stop sign. For a second, I thought I saw animals in pairs lining up to get to the top of the arch!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Last Saturday we took Benjamin to Hermann, Missouri for the Wurstfest. As mentioned in previous posts, Hermann is one of our favorite towns when driving the T-bird for weekend/day trips. In fact, we like the town so much that we have been trying to find a nice 2nd/weekend home here. My sister CH visited Hermann when she came to St. Louis in 2005. We had lunch at Hermannhof Winery, then went on a tour of the winery and CH purchased a bottle of wine to take back to New York. The line at the Hermannhof Festhalle was really long. It must be at least 100 people waiting to sample and/or to purchase the sausages from six different purveyors (a fancy name for suppliers of food or sausage makers). We decided not to wait and went down to the waterfront. The boat ramp was submergered under water. We saw a large object in the river (bottom photo), turned out it was a dead tree (above bottom photo), probably the entire tree, including the roots, fell into the river. The weather people predicted rain but it turned out to be a nice sunny day. For more information about Hermann, visit or to read about the early history of Hermann.

Monday, March 29, 2010


These photos were taken around this time last year but looking around my backyard, I am still waiting for signs of spring. There are no flowers ready to bloom and there is no sign of pretty white flowers as last year (photo below). I noticed there are a lot of activities with the birds flying around, in and out of the trees. They must be building their nests. I sure look forward to again seeing the robbin's beautiful blue eggs (bottom photo).

Sunday, March 28, 2010


These photos were taken last year when I was in New York on Palm Sunday. Actually I came in on Wednesday, April 1st, the day before my Mom was scheduled for an operation. The surgery went well and I spent the next few days at the hospital, sitting by Mom's bedside. I was committed to make the trip because I would never forgive myself if the operation did not go well and I was not there with my family. Last year, Palm Sunday was on April 5th. My husband laughed when I told him that I attended 8:15 a.m. Mass. He almost did not believe me because he knew I did not like to get up early. I explained that I had to since Mom was scheduled to be discharged that morning. I flew back to St. Louis the following Tuesday after we were able to secure a nurse and a homecare aid to provide medical follow up and assistance with chores.

Friday, March 26, 2010


New York is always on my mind and in my heart. When I heard on the news about the Cherry Blossom in Washington D.C., I immediately thought of my sister, CH and our time together at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden last May. According to the website, "Cherry Blossom Season at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden lasts from April 3 - May 2, 2010. Hanami is the Japanese name for cherry-blossom viewing, and the Japanese have long-established customs surrounding this tradition, including picnicking under the boughs of cherry trees and trapping fallen petals in cups of sake. Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s peerless collection of cherry trees—-the largest and most diverse outside Japan—-creates a canopy of blossoms in the spring worthy of celebration."
These photos were taken the day after a heavy rain came thru so there were more petals on the ground than on the trees. Also, it was the end of the festival so there was not a lot of people there. I was glad that neither CH nor I fell while walking around on the wet ground. The pathway looked pretty but it was muddy and slippery under all the pretty pink petals. We asked other visitors to take photos of us together and it sure was a nice day to be with my sister.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


An unexpected event took place that created some activities in what would have been just another boring night in our life or to be more specific, in our bedroom. Wait, before you start looking for a video clip of "TOTA Totally Gone Wild" on YouTube, I am not talking about that kind of activities!
At around 11:30 p.m. I heard the first police siren that woke me up from my sleep. Then it became louder, accompanied by fire truck and ambulance blasting, completed with the lights flashing, coming right thru our bedroom windows!
I got up, went to the windows and looked outside, there they were, two police cars in front, two fire trucks and one ambulance vehicle to the right and two more fire trucks and one more ambulance to the left, of our house. I quickly walked back to the bed, only to find my husband sleeping soundly and snoring from the top of his lung, undisturbed by all the sirens and the flashing lights.
I "gently" shook CP to wake him up. "There are police and fire trucks in front of our house", I said "calmly"!
"Really, I did not hear anything", CP responded. After looking out the windows, CP declared that the emergency personnel had everything under control and went back to bed. Our house is in a corner lot of a cul-de-sac, so I could not see much from our bedroom windows. I tried looking thru the windows in the living room, also from the dining room, I could not see where the fire might be or what prompted such response. I put on my jacket and went outside, from the patio I was able to take these photos. Look closely you could see the hose was attached to the fire hydrant, getting ready for action. The police, the firetrucks and the ambulance finally cleared out the neighborhood around 12:15 am but I could not get back to sleep until almost 2am. Of course, my husband did not have the same problem!
When I was pulling out of the driveway this morning, I saw a car with an insurance company logo stopped in front a neighbor's house, three houses to the left of our house and there was a blue tarf covering part of the roof of that house. I am grateful to the firefighters for their quick response. It definitely would be scary to realize that we were so close to where the fire was. Last night I was getting to put on my Red Wings jersey and all my hockey stuff in the bag, in case we had to get out of our house and run for our live! (Here is a funny story about Qaptain Qwerty when he was about five years old living in Viet Nam. Every time he heard a firetruck siren, he would say, "Le le, lay bo do khong quan ban", translation, "Quick, I must put on my pilot jumpsuit". I still have a picture of the Qaptain in his favorite mustard color jumpsuit. The entire town could be burned to the ground, all the Qaptain cared about was his "bo do khong quan".) I guess we all have our priority!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


The first time I visited Hannibal was when my sister CH came to St. Louis in the summer of 1996. We started our trip pretty late (around noon) since CH did not like to get up early and it took her a long time to get ready. After lunch at Mark Twain Dinette (I remembered the place was packed with tourists), we decided to tour Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum. We were told that we had 30 minutes before closing time but we could come back tomorrow with the same admission tickets. We decided not to tour the home and the museum and just walked along the landing.
This year, my husband and I agreed that our first get-away weekend would be Hannibal and we picked the third weekend in March. We thought the weather would be nice and the town would not yet be crowded with seasonal tourists. As luck would have it, the rain started late Friday evening. All day Saturday was a miserable day of light rain mixed in with snow flurries. We paid a few extra dollars to get a room with "beautiful panoramic views of the Mississippi River and walking distance to historic downtown and major attractions". These were all true, except when it was raining, snowing and freezing weather. The view from the hotel window included the dinette across the street with its spinning coffee mug, not much of the river and a lot of noise when the trains blowing loudly while carrying at least 50 railcars coming thru every other hour!
There was no schedule listed for cruising on the Mark Twain Mississippi Riverboat. The rising water covered most of the parking area and flooded the boarding ramp. There would be no sightseeing while dining on the triple deck or dancing in the rain/snow! You could tell it was pouring from the photo below of Mark Twain statue by the Riverview Park and from the windshield as we drove toward Hotel Mark Twain. I started to wonder if there is anything in Hannibal not named Mark Twain or associated with the town most famous citizen!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


We went to Hannibal, Missouri last weekend. It is only about 1 hour and 45 minutes from our home in St. Louis. We left on Friday evening, stayed for two nights and drove home on Sunday morning. We got back home just in time to attend 12:00 p.m. Mass at our home parish. You could see from these photos that the Mississippi River was swollen with rising water. The above sign reads, "Parking for Parks Marina Staff Only". I am sure the Staff would not have to worry about someone taking these parking spots for awhile! How about the sign below, "No Parking Any Time. Illegal Parking Vehicles will be towed at Owner's Expense"? Should it be "Vehicles will be floated down the River at Owner's Expense"?
Here you could see that the water covered most of the road leading to the boarding area for the Mark Twain Mississippi Riverboat. We were able to walk to the Nipper Park (photo below) and I saw a big log washed up the landing. I guess there is a lot of debris in the water and the current is so swift that we don't normally see these large objects floating in the water. The town of Hannibal practiced "Better safe than sorry" by putting in place its levee door (bottom photo), just in case the water quickly got higher than expected. Back in 1993, the river crested near the 31.8-foot high-water mark — the second so-called 500-year flood in 15 years. Parts of the town were under several feet of water, but the historic downtown was protected by a levee built to withstand a crest of 34 feet. It is nice to live near the water but I am not sure about the constant threat of flooding.

Monday, March 22, 2010


We took the ferry crossing the Mississippi River. It costs $20 round-trip per vehicle (passengers included in the price). I thought of asking the question, "What would the fare be for a truck-load of people in the back of a pick-up truck?", but the young men who operated the ferry did not look like they were in the mood to chat. Definitely not amused by city people driving a fancy T-bird, paying $20 just to cross the river and come right back, without purpose. I was glad to capture the barge going down the river transporting a heavy load, probably rocks from one of the quarries, while watching the ferry coming back to Missouri side.
During our previous ferry ride a few years ago, we got off and drove to Fort de Chartres on the Illinois side. We walked around the fort, no admission fee required but there was no official guide either. We learned a little about French Colonial life from a brochure we picked up at the gift shop. It was in August and it was really hot so we did not spend much time there and I could not tell you much from that brochure or from what I saw or remembered, just that it was a rough life without any of the modern convenience such as cooking stove, refrigerator and no computer ** haa haa **
According to the Visitors Guide,, "Just north of town is the Ste.Genevieve-Modoc Ferry which the locals like to call "The French Connection." This ferry, two miles north of the Great River Road Interpretive Center on Main Street, takes vehicles and passengers across the Mississippi River to Randolph County, Illinois where visitors can experience more of French Colonial life at the Pierre Menard Home, Fort Kaskaskia, and Fort de Chartres. Hawn State Park and Pickle Springs Natural Area are located west of town and provide its visitors with unique outdoor experiences." More about America's towns along the Mississippi River in future posts.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


A few weeks ago, we drove to St. Genevieve for our "Sunday Drive in the Country". It was our first Day-Trip of 2010. We were so tired of the cold wintery weather and so ready for sunny warm summer days and to start enjoying our weekend trips. For my husband, it was more about driving the T-bird than the destinations. He usually "lets" me decide where to go! According to the travel guide, "The village of Ste. Genevieve, Missouri was established somewhere between 1722 and 1749. It is about an hour of driving from St. Louis. The villege is the only original French Colonial Village left in the United States." When in Ste. Genevieve, we walked around the town square, looked at items in antique shops (but never purchased anything because we are not collectors and would not have any knowledge to judge the values or conditions of the stuff in the stores) and a must on the agenda would be a piece of homemade pie and a cup of coffee before driving back to St. Louis. One of the historic houses is The Commandant's House which was a center for government activity during the final days of Spanish rule before the French took back the territory and sold it to the Americans. Jean Baptise Valle, its owner, came from colonial Ste. Genevieve's leading family, which had prospered in mining and mercantile business. For this post, I present to you the Old Brick House of St. Genevieve.
The plaque reads "First Brick House - West of Mississippi River - Built in 1785 - First American Court Held Here".

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Can you find Benjamin in the above photo? He pretended to be one of the pokes in the wheel. How about the deer racks chandelier in the photo below? Both photos were taken at a restaurant when we went to a local steakhouse for lunch.
I like taking photos of Benjamin when the objects had a yellow background. I called these photos, "Benjamin blended in when going undercover"! Or it could be like "Where's Benjamin?" similar to "Where's Waldo?". If you have any suggestions or ideas, please feel free to send them to me and I will forward to Benjamin for his consideration and approval!

Friday, March 19, 2010


I took these photos last year during my treasure hunt of public sculptures on display around St. Louis area. I found the statue of Mark Twain (aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens) at its permanent location on the campus of Logan College. Benjamin enjoyed reading Mr. Twain's noted novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) and tried to show off his knowledge in American literature!
Supposedly there is a 100th anniversary of Mr. Clemens' death (April 10, 1910 - April 10, 2010) in Redding, Connectinut. There will be a celebration of the 175th anniversary of his birth in November (1835-2010). I am not sure if Mr. Clemens would find such marketing ploys offensive when towns trying to get tourists who never read any books written by Mark Twain, yet would travel to places such as Hannibal, Missouri and would be so eager to pay for anything with his image on products that are mass-produced by China or Mexico!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


The above is my cheesy photo of a chocolate cookie entitled "Green Eyes Monster Cookie". I learned from other bloggers that when I don't have any interesting to write (actually I am not sure if anything I wrote was ever interesting ** heh heh **), I should post photos, just to keep my blog fresh which in turn drawing visitors to build up hit counter! I also read that some bloggers register comments such as, "Nice photos. I like what you wrote. You are so funny." or simply, "Hello from St. Louis." just to draw visitors from popular blogs to their blog. These bloggers were not sincere with their comments. Personally, I love getting comments but I would not sell my soul (i.e. remove the moderation feature) just to get comments. I appreciate those who cared enough to "jump thru the hoops" posting your comments. As far as "Followers", I wish I have more followers but I am happy just to have one Important Follower (i.e. Qaptain Qwerty), that is good enough for me! I noticed that one blogger has almost 800 followers (** wow **) and when he mentioned about his birthday celebration, he received about 65 comments (** wow **) wishing him Happy Birthday! I wonder what happened to the other 735 followers why they did not send him birthday wishes. Finally, since I have nothing important to write, "Orange" you glad I post these cheesy photos?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


These photos were taken last year when the Red Wings came to St. Louis in March 2009. What a big difference back then when the Red Wings continued their dominance in the Central Division in the top spots in the Western Conference. The question back then whether the Wings would get the President's Trophy again. Sadly, this year is a complete different story! Currently, the Red Wings are barely holding on the last playoffs spot, with a constant threat of being ousted by the other teams just one or two points behind. It is painful to watch my beloved team in a very unfamiliar fight for a tight race to keep the final playoff position.
So here is an Irish luck to my beloved Red Wings. Got to win those tight games to build momentum for the final stretch. With a full roster of healthy key players, it will help to give those who log significant ice-time a rest before the playoffs start. Below photo is a Happy St. Patrick's Day on ice to everyone and to all the hockey fanatics who love the coolest games on earth!


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