Tuesday, November 29, 2011


The theme for December at the Butterfly House ( is Snow in the Tropics when over 1,000 Paper Kite butterflies in free-flight over white orchids. The black/white butterflies gave an illusion of snow falling inside the tropical conservatory.

Not much happening after the 4-day Thanksgiving break, just the typical work load and daily lunch that consisted of left-over turkey. The weather was still in the mid-40s. CP finally stored his golf clubs away. He also put the hard-top on the T-bird and then carefully giving "her" a good coat of wax. I started looking around for ideas what to get CP for his birthday/Christmas. It is nice to marry to a man whose birthday is on December 25th. I only have to buy two presents and then decide which one is for birthday and the other would be for Christmas!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Taking advantage of the sunny, warmer than expected weather, my husband worked on the Nativity display. After Ma passed away in 2006 (Pa passed away in 2000), the family went thru items in the house and getting it ready to sell, we mentioned that we would like to have the Nativity. We have been carrying on the tradition of displaying the Nativity in front of our house since then, just like the way Ma and Pa used to do during Christmas season.
For football fans, Thanksgiving is also a special time since we could eat and be merry watching the games all day. Traditionally, the Detroit Lions and now the Dallas Cowboys would schedule gameday on Thanksgiving. Nothing against Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay but I thought it would be funny if the Lions won the game and broke the Packers' winning streak. (Only serious football fans would understand why I thought it would be funny if that ever happened.)

My husband once again did a great job with cooking the turkey. He also made pumpkin and apple pies and my favorite side dish, green bean casserole. I reminded my husband of our "insider" funny story what happened in 2009 after we found the wishbone in the turkey. We silently made our wishes - my husband got the larger piece of the wishbone and I got the shorter part. CP then told me that his wish was that the exact model of the 2010 Mustang he ordered would be delivered sooner than scheduled. Well, he did get the Pony a few months earlier. What was my wish? I wish for peace in the world and for God's blessings for America. Talk about priority - if only I got the larger piece of the wishbone, the world would have been a peaceful place! (This year, we both wished for peace. Hopefully our wishes will come true!)

Friday, November 25, 2011


These photos were taken at last year (2010) Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in NYC.

Besides visiting my family, being in NYC during Thanksgiving also sort-of anniversary celebration for us. Exactly 22 years ago (1988) that my husband flew from Michigan to NYC at Thanksgiving to ask my parents for my hand in marriage. When my husband said that he was very nervous not only about asking but also about the language barrier as my parents did not understand much English, I told him not to worry because my parents would be so happy that their 28-year old daughter (an very old maid in Vietnamese culture) finally got married!

We had a wonderful time and 2010 Thanksgiving in NYC was a memorable event. My husband got his wish of eating a Nathan's Famous hotdog in Coney Island. We broke our piggy-bank to pay for a delicious steak for lunch at Peter Luger Restaurant (only cash and PL credit cards are accepted there). Thanks to my brother, QQ, for driving us to see our 1st home in America on Pelham Parkway in the Bronx. The next day, we walked around Flushing Meadows Park and then visited the apartment building in Elmhurst, Queens - our 2nd home in America. The highlights were spending time with my godparents, listening to my godfather telling stories about his service at the Battle of the Bulge during WWII, attending Mass with my 95-year old godmother and having dinner with my best friend from college and her family.

We are deeply thankful to be living in America and for the many patriots who love and serve our country. We thank God for His blessings and we pray that America will recover from its current downward, self-destructive path and with God's grace, we will once again look forward to brighter days.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Much of Savannah's charm and beauty is found in the layout of its historic squares by General Oglethorpe. On June 9, 1732, King George II granted a charter to British General James Edward Oglethorpe (1696-1785) and 20 Trustees for the creation of a new colony to be called Georgia, after the king. In 1733, General Oglethorpe landed on the historic bluff above the Savannah River and founded what would become the 13th colony in America. (I just found more information about these squares. Telfair Square is named for the Talfair family, whose members made important contributions to Georgia in the areas of politics, business, the arts and philanthropy. Well, no square will be named for TOTA, a poor church mouse!)Oglethorpe made his dream into reality with the layout of the new city. In this dream city, he created a town that filled with squares that would be earmarked as "green lungs" or public parks (he was green before the so-called green/environmental friendly stuff was cool). Oglethorpe wanted an orderly grid composed of 24 squares. (I went to the above Pulaski Square expecting to find a statue of General Kazimierz Pulaski but was greatly disappointed because there was no statue there. The General fought and died in the Battle of Savannah during the American Revolutionary War.) PS: The General was a Polish Count. (Again, no square is named for TOTA, the hockey fanatic for the useless talent of knowing the goalies in all 32 NHL teams or all the names and jersey numbers in the Detroit Red Wings roster!)I did not troll through all the 24 squares. Prior to the visit, I planned to visit and take photos of all the squares (just to prove that I was there) but I realized that the goal was not that important and down right silly. Walking, riding the horse carriage and driving around, I probably saw most of the squares. (Orleans Square named for the Battle of New Orleans, an American victory in the War of 1812.)

Madison Square is named for the fourth president of the United States, James Madison.

Johnson Square is named for Robert Johnson, the royal governor of South Carolina who aided Oglethorpe in establishing the colony of Georgia. Most of the squares are rather unadorned and basically patches of manicured greenery, Spanish moss hanging like curtains on beautiful oaks trees, wooden benches, fountains, inhabited by squirrels and unflattered residents. Johnson Square and Wright Square are two of the stately grandeur landmarks. Most visitors are interested in Chippewa Square where the bench which was a prop during the filming of the movie, Forest Gump. We were told the bench is in the museum, but that did not stop people from standing by the Chippewa Square sign for a photo op! My sister and I had our photo taken there too :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I was rushing back to the hotel after the 7:30 am Mass at Cathedral of St. John the Baptist to meet up with my sister for breakfast. Then I saw these well-dressed distinguished gentlemen sitting on the bench at Orleans Square. I said good morning and they greeted me with a smiled while continued with their conversation. They spoke quietly, just enough to hear each other. When I reached the other side of the square, I turned around and took the photo below.

It was a beautiful sunny and comfortable morning. These two gentlemen must be on their way to church. Or they are those who always dressed properly whenever they are in public setting. You just don't see this kind of social grace anymore. People (myself included) are careless with how they dressed and how many times did you see individuals (both young and old) and felt embarassed just looking at what they were wearing?

I started to slow down, no longer rushing back to the hotel. (My sister is not a morning person so she probably still was just getting out of bed!) I continued walking yet began to appreciate the warmth of the sun and the quiet of Sunday morning. There were no roses, just the smell of the fresh grass, the leave on the ground and the sun streaming through the Spanish moss hanging on the tree branches, simply a beautiful day in Savannah.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


When you have a brother who is a self-proclaimed punster, you tend to spot signs or businesses with clever and funny names. I saw the Which Wich in Atlantic Station (midtown Atlanta). Vinnie Van GoGo is located near City Market in Savannah and the Bar Bar is in the center of Ellis Square, also in Savannah.

Notice the hand-written sign "CASH ONLY" - I wonder if anyone ever got their ear cut off writing bad check ;>)

At Vinnie, there are tables and chairs outside the restaurant, but don't try to sit down because food are only ordered to gogo - just kidding ;-)

Friday, November 18, 2011


We walked along Savannah River in the Riverfront District, a popular tourist area. Buildings along River Street feature restaurants, souvenir shops, galleries and businesses that cater to visitors. Looking up the building, you could still tell from the structures were once warehouses housing cotton ready for loading and shipping. Instead of bales of cotton being loaded onto ships and barges, the Savannah Belles Ferry is waiting to provide dinner cruise and entertainment to visitors. We skipped the old passageway of alleys because my sister was unable to walk on cobblestone walkways.

More images from the Gingerbread House (above) built in 1899 will be in future post. It is known as the most photographed house in Savannah and as the most beautiful and elegant structure. You could search for it to find out what the address is - not very flattering!

For a minute there, we thought we were in New Orleans when looking up at second-floor of the Marshall Hotel and saw the cast-iron veranda, a reminder of the French Quarter. The Marshall Hotel (123 E. Broughton Street) was considered the finest hotel in Savannah when it first opened in 1851 by a businesswoman, Ms. Mary L. Marshall. When the Union (damned Yankees) came, the building served as army hospital in 1864-1865. After the war, the hotel re-opened under new ownership and after going thru renovation. The hotel closed in 1957 and only the first floor was used for businesses. The current Marshall Hotel, opened in 1999, with all the modern conveniences such as king-size beds, flatscreen LCD tvs, luxirious bathrooms (

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


We went to the first match-up game of the 2011-2012 season between St. Louis Blues v. my beloved Detroit Red Wings. It was Tuesday (November 15th) evening so we did not get to the arena until after work. The City Hall parking lot (across from the arena) was full when we got there. We had to wait for the attendant to remove the barricade to open up more parking space. We missed the warming up, not that I did not already take enough photos of "the guys" from previous games.

I knew it was early in the season and there are many changes in the line-up with "old guys" being replaced by the "new kids", but the Wings' power plays were terrible. In the first period, the Wings could not score even when the Blues got a 5-minute penalty for personal misconduct (late hit from behind). Second period was not any better, the Wings passing was lousy and so many turnovers in the neutral zone. Even when #5, 13, 40, and 93 were on the ice, there was no scoring! The Blues had more shot-on-goal than the Wings in the third period. The Blues won 2-1 .
Watching the Wings skating around the rink (they sure did not play hockey the way I expected - blaah), the players looked like they already ate too much Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing. I am glad we did not spend our hard-earned money on the tickets. Last year we purchased club seats that included food/drink and a hockey stick to be autographed by the Blues players after the game. This year we just bought "cheap" tickets. Actually the seats are center-ice and just right below the suites level. Or I finally reached a point in my life with an attitude, "been there done that" - how much food could I eat or how many more autograph sticks do I really need?
Next game is again on Tuesday, December 6th. I just hope the guys don't play like as if they were stuffed with cookies and milk!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Walking along Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta, I came upon this building #200, across from the Hard Rock Cafe restaurant. At first I thought it was a giant peach sitting on top of the blue canopy. It was a giant red lightbulb normally found on Christmas tree or for New Year celebration.
It was my first visit to Atlanta, Georgia and I am impressed with what I saw, learned and interactions with the good people of "A-town". It is easy to get around town by car (a crossroads of three major interstate highways), by air (the airport might be a bit confusing but once you learned the system, it is very efficient and well-organized) and public transportation is dependable, clean, modern and safe. This is only my personal humble opinion and based on limited experience from living in New York City and visited Chicago, London, Paris and Rome, so I only compared Atlanta to these cities. Of course, once you managed New York Subway, other systems would be rather simple and easy.
I found downtown Atlanta to be interesting and a pleasant place for walking. I did a lot of walking in a few days there to make up for all the driving (non-walking) in St. Louis. There are many historical places and major attractions. (We went to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, World of Coca-Cola, Underground Atlanta, Margaret Mitchell House & Museum, the Fox Theater, even the Varsity). The good people of Atlanta are friendly and helpful. I fit right in with the southern customs of saying, "please", "yes, sir", "thank you, ma'am". Reading history of Atlanta, I could see its strength from a proud heritage of a city that rose from smoldering bitter ashes (after being burned down to the ground in 1864). When in Atlanta or elsewhere in the State of Georgia, you could step back in time to learn about the past, then enjoy all the modern attractions and look around at the on-going development to see what the city is getting into its promising position in the future. If I was 25 years younger, single and the economy is good, I would consider moving to Atlanta. But then that would be a reason anyone would re-locate to a new city where they could find suitable employment, reasonable cost of living, comfortable housing in a vibrant community and a good place to raise a family. What would be your dream town or perhaps you already are living there?

Monday, November 14, 2011


Stop by the Visitors Center at Underground Atlanta (65 Upper Alabama Street) and you will see the above display of more than a dozen streets named Peachtree. To make it more interesting, when looking for an address, be sure to check whether northeast (NE) or southwest (SW). When you see W. Peachtree Street, it is not west of Peachtree Street, it is entirely another street runs parallel with Peachtree Street.

This Peachtree Center is where you could get on the Red Line (North Springs) and Gold Line (Doraville) when going north. The Airport is the last stop going south for both Red and Gold lines. To transfer to the Green and Blue lines, you need to get to Five Points station. Visit to read more about MARTA system, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.
There you have it - Peachtree Street NE,
and Atlanta Financial Center on Peachtree Road,
and here is the 138-foot light tower at Underground Atlanta where the Big Peach would be dropped at the stroke of midnight to ring in the New Year. It is Atlanta's very own version of New York Times Square 200-pound ball being lowered each December 31st. I am sure this Peach Drop does not attract the million-bodies crowd as the event at Times Square.

Visit for more information about the festivities.

I will share photos from Underground Atlanta in future post.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Since I don't have a photo of a black cat or a tall ladder, this butterfly named Great Mormon from Southeast Asia, will have to be. When I made arrangement for the trip back from Atlanta, I wanted to spend an extra day (Saturday) with my sister and also to make it easier for my husband to pick me up, so I booked the returning flight on Sunday, November 13th.

I don't consider myself to be a supertitious person. I say things like, "knock on wood" while gently knocking on my own head, just as a joke. I broke a few mirrors but I never became paranoid that something bad would be happening for the next 7 years of my life. I just found that it was a funny coincidence when I got to the Atlanta airport while waiting to go thru security checkpoints, the agent tried to get things moving by telling the passengers to go to a shorter lane. I was directed to lane #13.

Mind you, I was not at all concern that I am flying on the 13th and now I stood in lane #13 and getting on an airplane to my seat #31E. As I was waiting at the gate (21A), a small question came to my mind - should I be worry? Not at all because there are many people, Qaptain Qwerty included, was born on the 13th and there were many times that his birthday fell on Friday the 13th. My Godfather birthday was also on the 13th. Hockey players are known as the most supertitious in sports, and many of them wearing #13 (like Pavol Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings) on their jersey and that is considered good luck. So who is afraid of #13, definitely not TOTA ;>)

Saturday, November 12, 2011


I don't know when and how it started but I have been interested in the design and decoration of entry doors, whether buildings or homes. I was like a kid in the candy store when we were in Rome trying to take photos of so many interesting looking doors. They were all different, no two doors were exactly the same. In Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia, doors were painted blue, the color of happiness, against the white paint of the structure, just beautiful. The robin's egg-blue sympolized the color of the Mediterranean sea.

It was a treat when I saw the above door #125 with the word PEACE while walking along Liberty Street in Savannah. I was walking back to the hotel after the morning Mass and seeing the door reminded me that God has always provided strength and a peaceful heart for whatever is coming my way.

Friday, November 11, 2011


According to the Cathedral's website, "French Catholic emigres established Savannah's first parish, called the Congregation de Saint Jean-Baptiste, shortly before the end of the 18th century." Many of these emigres were nobles fleeing the French Revolution that had begun in 1789. In 1849, the Church of Saint John the Baptist, then the only Catholic church in Savannah, became the Cathedral.

In 1876, the new brick Cathedral was dedicated. The style was of French Gothic with imposing nave and transepts. Bronze-colored iron columns supported triple rows of groined arches. The brick structure was also stuccoed and whitewashed. The building of the spires was completed in 1896.

In 1898, the Cathedral survived the fire that nearly destroyed the structure, only the outside walls and the two spires remained standing. The Cathedral was rebuilt and re-dedicated in October 1900. A major restoration of over 50 stained glass windows was completed in November 2000, in time for the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the diocese and the 100th anniversary of the re-dedication of the Cathedral.


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