Monday, January 31, 2011


I immediately thought of the Lone Gunman aka Salabencher when I saw this alligator. No, I didn't imply that LG shed crocodile tears! Let me explain, please. It was because I usually associate alligators with Florida and LG lives in Florida. Also, I am sure LG could tell more about the reptile from all the years reading National Geographic than my useless knowledge about hockey and football!
LG - this croc is for you!

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Sunday, January 30, 2011


On Saturday, January 29th, we went to St. Charles’ Fete de Glace (Festival of Ice). The festival took place on Main Street in the historic downtown. I had so much fun taking photos and watching the carvers and the master carvers working on their ice sculptures. Each carver was given 2.5 hours to complete their masterpieces. Now in its 13th year (this was our first time attending – we need to get out of our cave more often), the festival features 2-man 5-block monster carvings team competition and also individual artist using a single block of ice. Fete de Glace was so much better compared to the festival at the Loop because the crowd got to watch the ice carvers bring the ephemeral carving to life when they worked on the sculptures using chainsaws and chisels, grinders and knives, as well as hot irons and cold spray. Some of the carvers make their design decision on the day of the competition, based on the weather.We got to the festival around 1:30 p.m. just in time for the individual competition. The team competition was from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The temperature was in the upper 40s so the sculptures already dripping off. I have great admiration for these artists creating such intricate work and delicate piece of “cool” art. Check back often as I will share photos of many other wonderful sculptures.We ate lunch at Lewis and Clark Restaurant, across from the Visitors Office (No Qap, they don’t have .99 cents menu). We did not stay for the awards presentation. The Fete de Glace is unique because the sculptures are judged by the crowd. The people vote for their favorite pieces. I would have a difficult time voting for just one. Next year I plan on being there early for the team competition.
The little kids and a few big kids had fun sliding down the above "cool" slide.

Friday, January 28, 2011


I stopped by the garden nursery where I have gotten fresh eggs but there was a sign saying that it would not be opened until mid-February. Last time I bought two dozens and that was a few weeks ago. I was tempted to jump over the wooden gate and get the eggs myself. I know where the chicken scoop is and since the chickens don’t stop laying eggs just because the place is closed, I should be able to get what I needed and leave the money in the mailbox. But I was too “chicken” of being caught trespassing!
(I really like these public sculptures because they are so unique. The vertical colorful art work gives the Loop an interesting look.)
I called to check on my sister this afternoon. CH told me that she has not gone outside for a week because of the snow storms kept coming in NYC. She was able to work from home but so sick of the winter weather. To lessen the cabin fever, CH tried planning our vacation in May when we “girls” would get together for our “Sistas Get-Away”. We both wish we could go on a Caribbean cruise like we did in January 2006. The cruise was a gift from CH to me for my 45th birthday.
Actually while I was on that Caribbean Cruise in 2006 that I met Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. He was there with a group of fans on their Annual Packers Fans Club Cruise. I took a photo with Rodgers. I wonder if he remembered a short chubby Asian woman who kept asking him to put on his “cheese head”. I know I should cheer for Rodgers and the Packers. But I have a feeling that the game will come down to a field goal or a 2-point conversion.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


(Wooden sculpture in front of the community farmers' market in the Loop.)
We’ve been having nice sunny, not-to-cold weather the last few days. I did not even need a coat when I took the recycles out to my car. There are no recycle programs at the company or collections bins in the building where I work. I started and have been managing a “one man” Let’s be Green Initiative since 2005. Soda cans and water bottles would be taken home and put into the bin for weekly (Thursday) collection. The paper and cardboards would go into the bins at either my church or a neighborhood elementary school (if the bins at the church were already overflowed). I even tried to recycle plastic containers/fruit trays when we have in-house training seminars.
Wednesday (Jan. 26th) was a long day and I did not get home until almost 10:00 p.m. due to a Board of Directors meeting. The person who set up the NHL (the Red Wings schedule to be exact) must have a sick sense of humor because there would be good/great games in the same evening of the Board meetings. This time it was the Wings v. the New Jersey Devils. I was so glad that we had to wait for a few Board members who were running late. I watched the game as long as I could until the chairman yelled out, “TOTA, get in here for the meeting or you won’t have a job tomorrow!” During the meeting I had to excuse myself (for bathroom breaks) a few times to check on the scores. (Have you ever tried to watch a hockey game without making any sound for fear being caught for playing “hooky” from work?) I did not find out until I got home that the Wings won 3-1. Next time I plan to be sick from something I ate at lunch thus unable to be at the Board meeting!
OK, here it goes – I got kicked out of Bible Study on Tuesday night. I took the comment (words of wisdom) from the Lone Gunman aka Salabencher and got a Red Wings tattoo. When I showed off the tattoo at Bible Study, another woman who happened to be a St. Louis Blues fan, said the tattoo should read Dead Wings or Broken Wings would be more appropriate. Well, the Lord's command, "Love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34)" went out the door! I gave the woman a left hook and then an upper cut. She fell flat on her butt with a bloody nose. As I got up after being ordered to leave and never come back, my Bible “accidentally” knocked another woman off her chair. I checked the church website this morning and my face was on the front page above the word “unwanted” and also on the bulletin board. Thanks a lot for your comment, Salabencher. It was really a bad idea!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


The above ice sculpture was created for a tuxedo rental business - how appropriate!
I thought of saying to the people who put their faces behind the face openings of the sculpture below, "I double dog dare you to stick your tongue to the ice. I triple dog dare you!"
Above were the chocolate gold coins in the ice cubes we got from the shops.
I will leave it to the Lone Gunman and Qaptain Qwerty to come up with a clever comment for the sculpture below. (Comments from any male readers are also welcome.)

Cold feet or frozen legs?

Monday, January 24, 2011


Saturday, January 22nd – The last few weeks I started looking for another vehicle to replace my 8+ years old (100,000+ miles) Mazda 626. Previously, when I turned 30, I purchased a light blue 2-door Escort, then another Escort – Green color this time when I was 35 and owned the 626 in 2002. Since I will be turning 50 next month, it is time for me to get another new car. I selected three different models, did extensive comparisons and am very close to make my decision. One of the important factors is that the vehicle must have a high percentage of being produced (also parts) from assembly plants in the U.S. I am not in a hurry to get a new car during these winter months (don't care for snow, salt and mud) and the 626 is still running good. My husband keeps a good schedule of maintenance on our cars. The dealerships need to sell more than I need to buy.It started to snow around 8:00 p.m. on Saturday evening into Sunday afternoon. I thought it was nice that we already attended 5:30 p.m. Mass yesterday and we could stay inside all day. Though I am not against going to Mass on Saturday evening, I prefer attending the traditional Sunday Mass.Sunday was another exciting day filled with NFL playoffs games. The Packers sent the Bears “packing” with a 21-14 victory in NFC Championship Game. I was torn between wanting the NY Jets to win because deep-down I am a NYer (well, I have always thought the Jets were more New Jersey than New York team!) but I resented that the Jets kicked my Patriots’ butts. I also thought the Steelers already won the Super Bowl in 2006 (we were there) and again in 2009, so perhaps I should cheer for the Jets. The Steelers won 24-19 over the Jets in the AFC Championship Game.

Hey Lone Gunman, how about a friendly wager for the Super Bowl? What would be your pick, Steelers or Packers?

Friday, January 21, 2011


I had another busy week that included evening activities almost every day. As mentioned, I have Bible Study for the next 10+ Tuesday evenings. My beloved Detroit Red Wings came into town on Thursday, Jan. 20th for a game against the St. Louis Blues.
We did not get home until almost 11:00 p.m. because we again purchased tickets that were Club Seats which include food, drinks, comfortable leather seats and a hockey stick to be autographed by selected Blues (not Red Wings) players. After the game (the Wings won in overtime 4-3), we had to wait for goalies Jaroslav Halak and Ty Conklin to come out of the locker room. Both Halak and Conklin noticed my Original Six scarf which had the logos of the teams they were traded from, Halak was the goalie for Montreal Canadiens and Conklin was a former Red Wings goalie.
We had about 6” of snow from Wednesday evening to Thursday early morning. I was able to get to work but a lot of people did not make it in. The road crew did a good job of cleaning the highways and we did not have any problems driving to downtown for the game on Thursday night. The drive home was not too bad even though the temperature was in the single digit but the pavement was not as slippery as predicted.
I thought of getting a Red Wings tattoo but decided that it was a bad idea since I already got in too many fights at the game – haa haa.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I don't know the name of the artist but he was pretty good with using the chainsaw, a heavy duty ice pick and a few other tools to make this cool looking snowflake.
To be an ice sculpture artist requires many years of training and a pair of steady hands. So, kids and adults, do not try or even attempt to do this at home!

Monday, January 17, 2011


Saturday, January 15th – We went to the 6th Annual Ice Carnival in the Delmar Loop. It was our first time because I did not know about this Carnival. I only knew about the Ice Sculptures Festival in St. Charles. That goes to show that there is always something new around town (and we have been living here since 1995). Do you have Ice Carnival/Festival in your town?
(I thought of my nephew JL when I saw the above ice sculpture of the dragon since JL was born in the year of the Dragon.)
It was a lot of fun taking photos of the ice sculptures in front of different businesses. There were 5K and 10K Frozen Buns Runs starting at Blueberry Hill. I will post more photos of the ice sculptures and also an Ice Carving demos. We visited a few shops to get free chocolate coins (some lucky people also got real dollar coins) frozen in ice cubes, given away to get potential customers into the stores.
According to the Loop's official website,, "A century ago at this location, streetcars from downtown “looped around” to return to the city, which gave the area its name. That movement and momentum continue today, as The Loop expands into the City of St. Louis with the exciting new growth and development that have made it a destination."Sunday, January 16th – Tom Brady threw his first interception in 12 games and was sacked five times in one of the worst performances of the season in a stunning 21-28 loss to the New York Jets. New England Patriots, the team with NFL’s best record, made so many inexcusable errors in the Sunday AFC Divisional Playoff Game. Brady’s 2-yard touchdown pass and a 2-point conversion provided a temporary gleam hope at half-time. The Patriots fell apart on both defense (allowing the Jets’ runs down the field) and offense with Branch and Welker dropped many of Brady’s long passes. (Even my grandmother could catch the ball and ran to the end zone!) After the game, as tears were falling down my face and onto the keyboard, I opened a comment that read, “Let’s go Jets!!! Jets, Jets, hurray!”. Who else would send me such kind and loving (NOT) comment but Qaptain Qwerty. I promise not to respond to such “trash talk” and will wait patiently for Friday, April 8th to come around – haa haa!
My football playoffs life must go on in anticipation of the match-up between the Packers v. the Bears in the NFC Championship game next Sunday at 3:00 p.m. follow by the AFC Championship game between the Jets v. the Steelers at 6:30 p.m. Hey Qaptain Qwerty, any prediction for the Superbowl? How about a friendly wager for a nice dinner at the Landing?

Friday, January 14, 2011


(Here I am a week late and a few dollars short – well, I am more than a few dollars short but that is entirely different story which I will save for future entry.)

I took these photos of the famous Chrysler Building when we visited NYC last November. The Big Apple offers so many great images to be captured. I was asked many times what my impression of America or New York when we first arrived. When we were in Viet Nam, we watched American television shows such as Mission Impossible, Hawaii Five-O and various Variety Shows, plus living in Sai Gon, the capital of South Viet Nam (we lived in Cho Lon (1) to be exact), we were familiar with modern metropolitan living. I personally was not intimated by the hustle and bustle of NYC. However, for some people, NYC could be too hectic and I know a few Americans who find NYC is a bit too much!
The first few years, we had to learn everything quickly from taking the subway (this would be intimidating even for some Americans), learning to speak English, making new friends and knowing whom to trust. We learned how to survive from watching, listening to others around us and pushing ourselves forward while creating our own pathways. We did not have time to be choosy or the luxury to select something else. It was not easy but it was not difficult either. NYC is a fascinating town and there are so much to do, see and enjoy. NYC is a great town for someone who is rich (money definitely comes in handy anywhere), young, thin and beautiful. Too bad I did not have any of these when we arrived on January 10, 1980! (I still don’t – haa haa)
Tuesday, January 11th – I began a 13-week Bible Study for women at our parish. There are about 50 women signed up. We begin at 7:30 p.m. and end at 9:00 p.m. The gathering includes reading the scriptures, providing support to each other thru prayers and encouragement as we learn to renew, to re-discover the joy and fulfillment God has planned for our marriage.

Wednesday, Jan. 12th – I did not get home until almost 10:00 p.m. from a work-related (dinner meeting) activity.

Half of January has gone by. We had many sunny days and pleasant temperature this week. I promise to write more about a few projects that I am working on. No resolutions but I am actually excited with the changes I have already made.
(1) Cho Lon means Great Market (Cho = market, Lon = great or large) was a Chinatown of Sai Gon. Many of these Chinese who were born in Viet Nam did not attempt to learn Vietnamese nor considered themselves Vietnamese citizens. The Chinese merchants controlled 50% of the imports, textile factories and major trading. After the Fall of Saigon in April 1975, the Communist government nationalized all Chinese-owned businesses in 1978. In the Spring of 1979, we were among the Chinese-Vietnamese who chose the extreme escape route by boat over the South China Sea.


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