Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Memorial Day Tribute

I love this country. I love what it stands for. I appreciate that it took great sacrifice to build it and to keep it. I wish war were not necessary but apparently it is. Thank You to those who go, thank you to those who stay and wait. Thank you for your sacrifice. I am one who was able to immigrate here. I am so grateful for you all. I am so grateful for life in these United States. Thank you.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I have to tell his story

I cannot NOT tell you what I heard today. I have been going to the same nail salon for a while and though I am not regular, they know me.

I have usually been treated by the young wife who speaks very little English, but today the husband of the team did the manicure and as we chatted, he told me his story. Though good, his English is still improving and my Vietnamese non-existent. While I did ask questions, I didn't catch all the details and was more impacted by the bridled yet raw emotion that came through as he told his tale. I had only known him up to then as a light-hearted young father. This is his story.

During the Vietnam war, his father worked with the US forces, they did not want the Communist take over under way. When the US forces left before the formation of a local government, the communists from the north (that's what he called them) came in and violently took over.

The US was trying to get those who worked with them out as quickly as possible he said, but must not have gotten to his father in time. The Communists from the North put him in jail. He was there for three long years. He suffered so much during his imprisonment that he never recovered his health and has remained a cripple to this day. I don't know how his release happened but it did and later (again, I'm not sure how much later) he was able to come to the US with his family. My friend the manicurist was then a working young man.

He said life under the Communist from the North was horrible. The control was everywhere and anything could only be settled by a bribe, under the table was his gesture. Upon arriving in the US, life was hard, they shared a home with two other families. They worked for food, not even pay, but they were grateful to be here. They counted themselves lucky.

When he began to earn a living in the US, he saved it all so he could return yearly to visit his grandmother. Then he met his lovely wife. He quickly returned again to marry her. For nine long years, he worked and saved for that yearly trip to see his wife and eventually their little girl who now looks to be about 9 years old. The separation was horribly hard he said. A year and a half  ago he was finally able to bring her here through immigration channels. They are now working as a team in their shop and his family live over an hour's drive away. Though his father has remained very ill, things are much better for them all.

He kept saying, we were the lucky ones. It all started when I asked about a small picture of the two of them hanging on the wall. It just looked like an overseas picture to me for no particular reason. Yes, said he, that was taken after a church service in Vietnam. Then came the rest of the story. I will never forget it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spring Beauties

At left you can see sprouts, the promise of my new grassy area. Thought I'd include these volunteers, they grow better here than in California; they're practically considered weeds but I still love 'em.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Signs of Life!!

Ok, ok, I know this is my second post today but I couldn't help it: my little lawn... Signs of life. Do you see the green shoots??

Only in one location. These are little forerunners. Nowhere else do I see anything but seeds.

Amazing how that goes. Some just are ready before others. Planted at the same time, pretty much same conditions but came out way ahead of the others. Gives me hope for all the rest.

Maybe that's the idea :)

Have a wonderful end of weekend everyone.


This morning, the pews of our not too large church were overflowing with a tide of visiting children. Three families came camping in our beautiful neck of the woods (and waters) and blessed us with their presence. Such gorgeous children between them all, too many for me to count, wanting rather to just behold them; they were exuberant and full of life without being distracting in any way. Adorable little tanned faces of all ages just out from the tent.   

Altogether, these families were the picture of wholeness and radiance and more: I saw on them a cleanliness that went far beyond the morning shower or the kiss of the sun. Such a sight they were, I was on the worship team today so I faced everyone and could easily feast my eyes. I couldn't help but notice again the importance of mothers. Each time a mother would move, her husband's attention would immediately turn to her. The children truly were their commendation. The women were clearly the heart of all three of these families and instantly I was proud of them. And so grateful. After all, the children they are raising are the face of our future.   

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Black Letter

The Seeds aren't showing any signs of life yet so here is our end of class Calligraphy Project. I did not design the "Illumination" of the O, only colored it in, but did write out the rest.. I had no idea freedom and creativity were so encouraged in Calligraphy. I'm hooked.

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Still no News

I would show you another picture of my new lawn-ette but nothing has changed. Some things must take time...  Instead I'll show you one of my favorite watercolors. I did this in my one and only workshop to get me started on watercolor, the teacher was Stan Miller. Visit for an amazing watercolorist.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


So, as promised (phew, I made good) here are some of the seeds. Can't say we put in a lawn, way too grand: a lawnette?

Four days now and if they don't germinate, I'll be sad. They might need a little time...

We've had heavy rains and I feared they'd wash away; the valiant little things are still here.

Gotta keep them watered.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How Does My Garden Grow?

I love before and after pictures...

Here is a before, well somewhat before, picture of topsoil (and too many pebbles to remove); what you don't see are the seeds we scattered over the surface.

We water it every day, keeping it damp.

I think I'll take a close-up so you can see the seeds.

I will keep you posted of course on the growth but with sun and water... it's practically garanteed!

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

I told you earlier I don't like to travel. This is one of the many reasons: I live near this park. In fact I live on an Island so anywhere you go on my island, you see sights like this one. There are also many lakes on my island. But that'll have to be for another time.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

This for you travelers stuck in an office and unable to hop on that plane. I personally love staying home. I can't stand travel. Anywhere. I took this in the oldest Duchy of France, which in itself is amazing for a nation that took care of most of its nobility some years back... Off with their heads was the battle cry then. Anyway, it's a city called Uz├Ęs not too far from the Meditarrenean Sea. There is still a Duke, pardon-me "un Duc" sometimes in residence there in his real life Medieval Chateau complete with turrets, located of course at the heart of the town. I love the red doors and shutters on the near left house. Gorgeous glossy color. The middle strip is for the water runoff when it rains. I bet when it was built, way before the Revolution, there was something else running down that culvert... You don't want to know.  Enjoy!

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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Salute to Tulips

Do any of you remember Goofy's Salute to Father. If you (or your) kids were born in the 70's and you had the Disney Channel, you'd know. Well this is Salute to Tulips, no relation. I was driving through the Valley today and Tulip Season is now absolutely and completely over... I only went out once to see them very early on and these beauties are what I saw...

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ok, here is the retouched version (I could feel that one coming).. I grabbed my impatience by the scruff of the neck and made it heel. I like it better.. Hope you do too..

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Proper Skill Level

I painted this hammer under Stan's tutelage (see previous post). I had to chose a subject at my skill level, take a photo of it with an eye to composition (even for such a simple object), do it all with a 1 inch brush and black paint. I can see the difference between this (I like) and the Cottage (couldn't do it justice). So check out Stan's website. He's phenomenal. It's -no dub-dub's. Totally worth it.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Even Acrylics can give headaches.

Well, I thought I would remove any and all suspense - don't worry you likely never noticed -since my last post, and show you my little watercolor completed... for now. I may retouch it later (if I do I'll show you). I started Watercolor two years ago with a fabulous Watercolor Workshop taught by Stan Miller ( Afterwards, I took a few lessons from Stan who insisted students chose a subject with the right level of difficulty for their skill and this subject definitely exceeds mine. But I couldn't resist! I had started painting four years before that with oils and acrylics (no lessons just books) but during my watercolor period, I had no more headaches so yes, Sherlock, turns out I was reacting to oils (acrylics too, even perfume now sends me into coughing fits)... It was hard to accept at first but hey. You know I never did like the smell of oils as some people do. Maybe that was my first clue. I'm saying all this for the benefit of any oil/acrylic painter who gets headaches, they say acrylics are fine but not for me. Fortunately, I like working with watercolor best but I love, love, love how oils gleam and look so palpably rich... This is my friends' cottage nearby, they took the photo that inspired me so I owe them. We live in Tulip Country and it's incredibly beautiful here (shhh.. we like it just the way it is).

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