Monday, May 31, 2010


It is the Veteran -
who gave us the Freedom of the Press, not the reporter;
who gave us Freedom of Religion, not the preacher;
who gave us Freedom of Speech, not the poet;
who gave us the Freedom to Vote, not the politician;
who gave us the Freedom to Assemble, not the campus organizer (definitely not the community organizer);
who gave us the Freedom to Fair Trial, not the lawyer;
Let's remember to salute the flag and never forget the men and women who stood proud and tall in defense of our country, who gave their lives so we could have freedom and liberty.
Eternal rest grant them O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them.

Friday, May 28, 2010


"Ok, TOTA, there is no balloon getting stuck on the power line, so what's the story about this industrial crane?" you may ask. The reason is very simple, I just like to capture images of this crane, a manmade giant tool, against the beautiful blue sky. One of my favorite television programs is Modern Marvels on the History Channel. I had an opportunity to tour a manufacturer that makes giant equipment from a 90-ton hydraulic excavators and ultra high demolition machine that stood at almost 200 tons. One of my favorite program would be the building of the submarine.
When I first moved to Michigan, I worked for an engineer who designed and wrote instructional manuals for operating industrial cranes. I knew about industrial cranes as much as I knew about cooking (or boiling water). All I did was typing up his notes and making sure the pages were in the right order, printed and sent the manuals to the customers. To this day I still have fond memories of this experience and a soft spot for cranes. I wonder how fast could the operator get down to the ground when he needs to answer nature calls!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


One of our favorite activities on the weekend is to go to downtown Kirkwood (Missouri). After getting a treat from the Custard Station (mine is vanilla with coconut and chopped nut and chocolate with butterfinger for my husband), we would either watch the freight trains coming thru or the Amtrak trains dropping off and picking up passengers. This Kirkwood Train Station has been boarding travelers since 1853 and is now managed entirely by volunteers. It is a pleasant walk around downtown Kirkwood as there are lot of shops, specialty stores, Farmers' Market and plenty of historical buildings such as the above Van Goor Buildings.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Above is a display of the 9-foot tall "San Marco II" twin horse sculpture by Ludovico De Luigi, at the entrance, welcoming visitors to Chesterfield City Hall. These two bronze horses stood in the lobby of the downtown St. Louis Adams Mark Hotel for 22 years. The sculptures were cast in the same Italian foundry used by Leonardo da Vinci.
Below are the Kinetic Horses (there are three horses, red, yellow and blue) by artist Fred Prescott, on display behind Lowe's store on Edison Boulevard in Chesterfield Valley.
Keeping with the theme of horses, below is a display of lot of horsepower at the Mustangs Show sponsored by the Museum of Transportation. I went inside the gift shop while my husband engaged in serious discussions about the engines, the models and every details from the chrome wheels to the sequential tail lights, with other members of the Mustang Club.
Below is a new addition to the family, a 2010 Mustang, my husband's new toy. Actually, I call it "the 2nd Mistress", the Thunderbird is the 1st Mistress. The ride is much more comfortable than the T-bird and it is not a convertible so I don't have to worry about getting my hair all mess-up!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


It was typical of me to be a few days late (and a few million dollars short) when it comes to posting timely topics. Not that I would bike to work (I don't even have a bike) when it was National Bike to Work Day last Friday, May 21st, but these photos would have been appropriate instead of the regular Friday Sky theme.
Trailnet, an organization in St. Louis, promoting active living, ( declares May as Pedal Past the Pumps month and encourages citizens to use their bicycles for short trips and errands, participants then qualified for a drawing for a chance to win a new bike (one for men and one for women). A few years ago my husband bought a set of bikes, his and her, both deep purple color, with a good intention that biking would change our unhealthy lifestyle. We sold the bikes after using only a dozen times. We are still known around the neighborhood as the same chubby husband and wife driving around in the T-bird. I am not planning to purchase another bike, but I might consider answering the call of Transportation Alternatives:Biking & Walking by walking and combining errands to reduce the use of driving.
Benjamin traded his yellow vehicle (bottom photo) for this yellow bicycle (photo below). Then he realized that he was not going anywhere fast and decided to walk home instead! The temperature already reached 90+ yesterday and the same today. After the noon mass, we stayed in and watched the Blackhawks swept the Sharks to capture the Western Conference title and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Canadiens are not going too well and I am afraid to think of game 5 tomorrow night. We expect rains and thunderstorm the next few days. I will have a busy week ahead with council meeting on Monday and Board of Directors on Wednesday. One more month and we will be on our Route 66 adventure, all the way to Arizona.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Being a friendly individual, Benjamin tried to engage in a conversation with these two "colored individuals" but he was told they were not interested because "Three is a crowd". Where did Benjamin go?

Friday, May 21, 2010


Driving to work one morning last week, as I looked up at the traffic lights waiting for the green light and there they were, a bunch of white and blue balloons got stucked on the power line. The balloons were almost fully inflated so they must be from a recent party. Probably from a birthday party for a boy since it was white and blue or it could be for a girl who loves the color of blue instead of the typical "girlie" pink! Well, you know my obsession with watching the balloons that getting stuck on the power line. I had to turn around, pulled safely into a nearby parking lot and took these photos.
Here is what I wrote in previous post, an oldie but a goodie, "A few months ago, as I was sitting in traffic, I saw one of the balloons broke away from a car dealership lot. The balloon flew off but then was caught on the electrical wires. As I watched the balloon swaying in the wind, I thought how sometimes in our lives we feel as if we were the balloons stuck on the power lines. No matter what you try to do, you could not break free. Just like the balloons, you were up high but going nowhere, flapping around in the wind, slowly losing the air inside, then the emptiness took over, still hanging on the wires but nothing left of what was once a pretty balloon full of air." I am sure you would think of me, a chubby, grumpy old woman in St. Louis, whenever you see balloons on the power lines!

Thursday, May 20, 2010


From my recent visit to the Butterfly House, here are the photos of the "Miracle of Metamorphosis" featuring butterflies emerging from carefully mounted chrysalids. Nature is so wonderful. Do you have a Butterfly House or something similar in your town?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I was so glad that I had my camera with me when I saw this sign. I thought Qaptain Qwerty (and other punsters) would appreciate the cleverness. Caution, you might wish to cover your goodies in the picnic basket because Uncle Sam might wish to take away from you and "re-distribute" to someone else!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Last month we made a visit to the Tropical Conservatory at the Butterfly House I have been there before and it is always a wonderful experience. According to the brochure, there are as many as 80 butterfly species and about 150 tropical plant species are exhibited. Almost everyone finds the display called "Miracle of Metamorphosis" fascinating because you could witness a butterfly emerging from carefully mounted chrysalids. I should try to remember not to take any photos when I first walked into the conservatory because the warm tropical temperature would make the camera foggy and the result would be like in the top photo. In keeping with the weekly theme "Tuesday Two", below are photo of two butterflies on a hanging banana and lot of butterflies on two hanging bananas caputured in the bottom photo.

Monday, May 17, 2010


And then it was over! It was more than 2 weeks and I am finally able to talk about the pains in my heart that my beloved Red Wings were eliminated in 5 games in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I went to bed after the 2nd period because I could not stand to watch the desperation in the last minutes of the game. I always like watching the handshakes at the end of the series. It is so sportmanship when the players form a line at the end of the game, shaking hand with the opponents to show the love for the sport and respect to each other. I read that the Red Wings players had mixed feelings that they were eliminated so early but grateful for the time they now have and are able to spend with their families. Let's not make this a yearly habit, eh?
In other series, I cheered for the Vancouver Canucks because I wanted a Canadian team to advance. I am sure every Canadians wanted this to be the year that they would take back their national pride after winning the Gold medal at the Olympics and the hope that a Canadian hockey team finally brings home the Stanley Cup. Sadly, the Chicago Blackhawks sent the Canucks packing in 6 games. The most shocking "how could it happen" was the Canadiens v. the Pens series. No one would have predicted that the #8 seed Habs would give the #1 seed Washington Capitals a hard time. Instead, the Habs eliminated the Caps and then rolled over the Pens to advance to Round 3 taking on the Philadelphia Flyers. Sorry, Gomer (Dan Bylsma), let's hope it will not be a repeat next year. I was hoping for an Original Six match-up between the Boston Bruins v. the Montreal Canadiens, but the Bruins squandered their leads, not only in the series wining the first 3 games but in Game 7 after leading 3-0 then ran out of steam, allowing a major upset losing to the Flyers 3-4. I guess it is true that when it comes to playoffs, the winners are those that play disciplined games and wanted to win more than the other teams. I am not going to make any predictions or putting my wishes in writing because I might jinx the outcome. I will just sit back and enjoy the coolest sport on earth!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I don't know who Cyndi & Bill Weiss are but I like what they chose to put under their names "Live Your Dream". The plaque is one of the many placed on the guard rails at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. Most are memorial plaques while some are for anniversary or to commenmorate other important events. I wonder what the Weiss' dream was and how they actually lived their dream.
Over the years my dreams have changed from a simple dream of being a journalist/teacher when I was growing up in Viet Nam, then after survived the boat journey, seven months in the refugee camp, the first few years in America, I dreamed of becoming a nurse so I could volunteer for an assignment going back to the camp to serve the refugees that were still left behind. (That was the 20 years old naive and foolish me!) Somewhere along the way, around 1984, after a few years living in America, my dream turned 180 degrees to self-serving goals of being a "Yuppie"! I wanted a good life with money, fancy home and social status.
In 1987, a Spanish professor encouraged me to sign up for an internship program with the United Nations. She told me it would be a great match for my language and cultural knowledge of Vietnamese/Chinese and since I majored in Communication/Political Science, I should consider a career as a diplomat. I completed a year of internship with the UN in 1988 and in 1989 I got married and moved to Grand Haven, Michigan! (That was the "smart women foolish choice" me after I became blinded by the silly thing called love!)
I don't remember the last time I became passionate about living a dream. It was almost as if I just treading along, accepting whatever handed to me instead of setting goals for what I wish to become. Sure, I had a few good years of the limelights including being featured on the front page of a national magazine, getting a person-of-the-year award and 15 seconds of fame from articles I have written for local newspapers. Now at the age of 49, I could not formulate what my dreams are and how I wish to live out the rest of my life? It was as if I have become frozen, rusted, unable to move beyond the trapped door of complacency.
Should I follow the steps of Ryan who ran from Amsterdam, Holland to Athens, Greece in the summer of 2009? (Ryan completed his run in October 2009, but you could read about his interesting stories at
Or Teresa, a school teacher who gave up all the security to live on a sailboat to explore simple living. (You could visit Teresa at
Or I should look beyond my own needs, stop being selfish and dedicate my time and energy to serve others instead of being self-indulgence. There are millions of good causes that could use more volunteers and financial support. Excuse me, I think it is about time I take my sorry a$# to the back of the shed and give it a good whipping.
Would you like to share your dreams and how you plan to live life to the fullest?

Saturday, May 15, 2010


According to Wikipedia, Armed Forces Day "was created in 1949 to honor Americans serving in the five U.S. military branches – the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard – following the consolidation of the military services in the Department of Defense. It was intended to replace the separate Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Days, but observance of these days, especially within each particular service, continues to this day.[12]"

Prayers for Our Armed Forces - B. J. Morbitzer (Liguori Publications)

I asked the Lord to bless you

As I pray for you today

To guide you and protect you

As you go along your way.

His love is always with you

His promises are true

And when we give him all our care

You know he will see you through.

So when the road you're traveling on

Seems difficult at best

Just remember I'm praying

And God will do the rest.

Sunday, May 09, 2010


We went to the park last week. After all the rains, thunderstorms and the constant threat of tornadoes, we were so happy to be outside on a sunny day. I was chatting with another parent about the NHL playoffs but when it was time to go home for lunch, I could not find Benjamin anywhere. Would you help me find Benjamin?

Thursday, May 06, 2010


I am back! It has been more than two weeks since my last entry, did you miss reading all the intelligent discussions, profound ideas, and deep thoughts, from my writing? Ok, you could stop laughing now and help me celebrate Benjamin's belated birthday. Since moving to St. Louis, Benjamin has been active in the community, attending council meetings, serving on the Board of Adjustment and participating in discussions on how to improve various aspects in the neighborhood. Photo above shows a representative from the Mayor of City of St. Louis presented the key to the City and a jewelry box to Benjamin, for his contributions to the community.
Since I am not sure when Benjamin was "born" (the tag only reads Made in China, is there anything made in America anymore?), so I based his birthday on the day my nephew gave Benjamin to me, May 6, 2009. I drafted this post in April to make sure I would not forget to timely celebrate Benjamin's First Birthday on May 6th. Then I got sidetracked with NHL playoffs and was so depressed after the Red Wings were eliminated. It was painful watching my beloved hockey team down 0-3 in Round 2, came back strong in game 4 (7-1) but it was not good enough to make a comeback and the Wings were eliminated (1-2) in game 5. There I go again, talking about hockey while writing a belated birthday post! If there was a category for the worst mother, I would be in my own league. Benjamin told me he still has nightmare about being dropped in the middle of the 4-lane busy road. He still felt the tires running over his back with his face mashed down onto the asphalt while trying to keep all eight of the yellow strings intact to his little head.
Sorry, I did not bake a cake (did I ever bake anything?) and it is too late to buy a cake, so let's just wish Benjamin a Belated Happy Birthday and may his future be as bright as his ever smiling face!


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