Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thankful Thursday - #91-100

This Thursday I am Thankful...

that I could accompany my husband on this week's business trip which included a 10-hour overnight train ride.

for an incredible breakfast of home-made cinnamon rolls, granola, fruit salad, breakfast burritos, and coffee (some were desperate :) after reaching our destination at 7:30am.

for awesome, exceptional co-workers and their heart, enthusiasm, encouragement, and sense of fun.

that we had a beautiful, comfortable, convenient venue for our meetings.

for the sweet and serving couple who handled all of the arrangements and on-going details of our stay and also for the cheerful, attentive service personnel at the meeting site.

that our teenage guys did pretty well home alone for 3 nights.

that I was given the opportunity to come back early and be with them.

for late night travels in which every detail was smooth and uneventful.

for a jubilant poodle who greeted me at the door at 1am, and that this precious girl came out again after we had settled in to bed as if to be sure I was really there and tell me how happy she was to see me.

for warm teenage boy greetings and hugs.

Thankful Thursday is hosted by Rhondi at Rose Colored Glasses. I wrote this up a little early and thought I would go ahead and post it. I believe Rhondi may be taking a break this week for Easter. But be sure to visit her beautiful blog to join in and find links to future Thankful Thursdays.

Did I mention I got to spend time away with my husband and that he is terribly fun to be with?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thankful Thursday - #s 81-90

This Thursday I am thankful for the most random, nice things ...

for the gift of a husband who is patient with me (maybe not in every little detail, but in the things that count).

for the passage of time (in terms of being able to celebrate years together, the growth of our boys, or time overseas; and/or good things that I could not have foreseen which have come to pass).

for the unusual quiet and cleanness of a home minus two teenage boys; and that this status is only temporary.

for the gift of spending time just with LaoSan (the youngest).

for a really kind live voice who listened and helped sort out an online account problem.

for authentic, inexpensive Indian food in our city.

for colored pencils.

for Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti telling me about Creative Commons images on Flickr.

for the new ideas, suggestions, and encouragement you responded with on my How do i begin.... Creatively post. Please keep them coming!

for SoyJoy bars here in town. (A girl can have a treat every once and a while.)

Thankful Thursday is hosted by Rhondi at Rose Colored Glasses.

Paint With Me Beach Doodle

Ever since spiral-bound notebooks, I've been littering my note-taking margins with countless varieties of unknown flora. So for my first Paint With Me Thursday, I thought I would do the same. I kept thinking I should go look online and see what tropical flowers and palms and beach chairs really look like; but that would have required me to stop drawing, get up, and exert some technology. Oh well, maybe next time. This Beach Doodle is for Allen ... ... sigh. Paint With Me Thursday is the brainchild of Simply Feather. You can participate and find more fun artwork here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

J - Just for Fun

Jenny Matlock

This Alphabe-Thursday is featuring the letter J as in Just. I don't mean the glorious adjective relating to all that is honorable and fair (though this is a great word), but "just" in the adverbial way.

I am promoting the usefulness and effectivity of the modifier "just." For example:

Just because...

(you're you)

Which is closely related to the wonderfully precious, "Just because I love you."

How about, "You look just the same." A thoughtful lie which I am happy to receive on any occasion in this season of my life.

And "just in time." Evidently the preferred arrival schedule of wizards in Middle Earth. But also relating to each individual's own life scrapes and circumstances, and especially nice when having to do with love....

No more doubt of fear I've found my way
For love came just in time
You've found me just in time
And changed my lonely nights that lucky day

Just in time

Just in Time
melody written by Jule Styne and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. You can hear a bit of this 1956 song made popular by Tony Bennett here, rerecorded as a duet with Michael Bublé (Duets: An American Classic, 2006).

There's "just a minute" (which conveniently means an undetermined amount of time, especially when spoken by a teenager involved in video gaming or an adult on a computer).

The ever popular silent, grumpy day response in our home.... "I'm just tired."

And the usually fun, though at times borderline, "just kidding."

So if you read through this blog and think I'm crazy to be participating in 3 Memes on Thursdays, remember that it's all... Just for Fun.

Speaking of "just for fun," I first encountered this on Facebook...

Jedi... another great J word!

Alphabe-Thursday is hosted by Jenny at on my tangent... Jump over and check out the other J posts here.

The other 2 Memes I am participating in are Thankful Thursday & Paint With Me.

Love image Noël Zia Lee
Bouquet of Roses image georgereyes
Time passes image CarbonNYC
Automatic doors image Valley Library (Oregon State University)
All images from Flickr Creative Commons. Automatic doors has been altered by me. If you would like to use any of these images please click the links above to see attribution requirements.

Monday, March 22, 2010

How do i begin...... Creatively

i am waking...

blinking, stretching, and looking around the world with interest after a season of semi-hibernation. There are so many things that I want to learn about and try, but I don't know where to begin. I am also a little afraid; and don't want to plunge in, waste a lot of money (and probably time), and just end up with a lot more piles of accumulated mess scattered around our home.

These are my current curiosities:

ball-joint dolls
making a cloth doll
digital collaging

These are some of my questions:

How do i get started? (i mean the very beginning - don't assume i know anything - because i really don't)
What supplies do i need?
What resources are there?
How can i find community?

These are some of my parameters:

*finances are an issue; so frugality is a must
*there are no craft or hobby stores within my city
*also no garage sales, flea markets, or Goodwill
*no used English book stores (or anything in English for that matter)
*there are material markets and basic hardware and paint stores and small yarn and cross-stitch stores (cross-stitch has become very popular here in the last five or so years)
*there are some small basic art supplies stores near college street

As far as i can tell, most of these forms of creative expression have just not taken off in my city yet. i would love to find someone online, as well as someone right here where i live, to share these interests and pursuits with.

Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to share your wisdom, experience, and passion; thereby pushing a little fledgling dreamer out of the nest and into the big world of creative discovery.

Tell me the truth, "Am i overstepping my resources and abilities?"

Thank you to foxypar4 at Flickr Creative Commons for the cute Fledgling photo.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thankful Thursday - Change

As I am experiencing the wonderful transformation from winter in to spring, I am mindful and extremely grateful this Thankful Thursday that anyone (including me) really can Change over the years and seasons of life.

He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." Revelation 21:5

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known....
1John 3:2

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

I am thankful for trustworthy Promises and Hope.

Thankful Thursday is hosted by Rhondi at Rose Colored Glasses.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I is for Images

Jenny Matlock

I intended to write about children's book illustrators for my Alphabe-Thursday "I" post. But yesterday while exploring a nearby antiquities market, I was inspired by the intriguing images I found there to go in another direction....

As I looked through old art magazines, mostly from the 70's & 80's, I began to wonder what the images we publicly put forward communicate about our country at any given period of time?

These color images came from MeiShu 美术 25 January 1978 issue.
The artists' names are included on the print.

I also found some delightful copies of ink block (or woodblock) prints. Incidentally, this form of art, requiring a block of wood to be chiseled in relief mosaic, originated in China. The images are clean and, in general, joyful. Each carefully crafted with intention. As you examine them, see if you can interpret the impression and information, the print was intended to give.

The above prints came from a lovely soft bound book called HeiBaiMuKeJi 黑白木刻 (1 May, 1975, ShangHai). Again, the artists' names are included on the print.

BanHuaYiShu Vol 12, 1983

Aren't they incredible?! As I was leaving, I inquired off-hand whether the shop owner had any old photos.... He did, and I found some sweet pictures that seemed to date from the 1960's. While flipping through the remains of old photo albums and scanning stacks of miscellaneous images, I felt curious about the lives and personalities of the faces I saw before me. What were their hopes and dreams, their joys and sorrows, how did everything turn out for them? In innocence or infamy? Or events inconceivable to my western culture and thought. The intricacies of each life story being so precious and yet, in this case, hidden to me.

Quite unconsciously, I began to wonder what will happen to the images I am capturing and cherishing today? Will they some day end up in a dusty, old shop full of comic books and other ephemera, with a totally unconnected individual imagining what our lives were like? Or will they find a home in the hearts of future generations that will deem them and our life stories worth treasuring.

Please visit Jenny Matlock at on my tangent... to check out these insightful "I" posts.

Monday, March 15, 2010

How do you find the right side of the bed?

I was short with my children as I was getting them off to school this morning. In fact, I probably made them feel like they were a hassle to me; when really, they aren't. They are truly fantastic, well-behaved, fun boys. I guess it's kind of prophetic that I wrote a comment to Mumsy yesterday about my imperfections in parenting. Sounds like apology time.

The whole grumpiness thing began when the alarm clock sounded at 2am ( okay, maybe a little later, but it was still dark outside), and my body said, "You should not have to be getting up yet." I've been fighting a cold or allergies lately and feeling some what weary. Anyway, as I got out of bed, I looked over at my husband, still asleep; and scowled. Wouldn't it be nice if he was getting up instead of me.* Of course, in my heart of hearts, I don't believe he can move the boys through the morning routine in as calm and conscientious a way as I can. He just kind of leaves them be to (imagine this) wake up and wander around all on their own, taking responsibility for their own clothes, school stuff, time, etc. When my better half did finally appear in the living area, I gave him the all telling silent huff treatment. Haha... that will show him. (I'm not sure he actually had a clue.)

Okay, so now you've seen a little more of my dark side and probably better understand the necessity of the "No Whining" button on my sidebar. The funny thing is I kind of made a commitment yesterday with some other women to be looking to see how God would reveal himself to me daily this week. Can I go back to bed and try again?

*You know all I had to do was ask and he would be up in an instant taking care of things.

Cherry Blossom Smiles

cherry fizz skies
curious, crinkling eyes
shaken soft like snow
petals swirling to and fro
cherry blossom smiles

Friday, March 12, 2010

Of Candy, Chinglish, & Durian

Yesterday afternoon, I took care of two very cute children while my friends continued to open and unpack boxes in their new apartment. After lunch we stopped by a neighborhood "Mom & Pop" (actually, sister & sister) convenience store, and I let the kids pick out some candy. (Don't tell.) Anyway, I'm not sure if they had ever tried this kind before, because it's not a common brand (even though it some what resembles Starbursts or Sugus).

Well, the candy had an inner layer of rice paper (which is edible and not that unusual for China) and was as hard as a rock (think Now & Laters) until you sucked on it a bit. The flavors were okay and upon tasting various ones (who was this candy for, again?), my oldest son and I got tickled. He vowed and declared that the yellow ones were Durian* flavor; and to support his claim, showed me the picture of Durian on the package. At this point, I offered the rebuttal that the package also flaunted images of ginger and corn. (Yum, yum.... All 3 of these tastes actually are used in candy in China btw.).

Then the English text caught his eye....

I should point out that Chinese and English are nothing alike and therefore do not translate word for word very well at all. Also since Chinese does not use an alphabet in the way we do, the whole concept of letter order and spacing can seem somewhat irrelevant. (This is not so much the case below, but will come up in future posts.) And some times advertisers just must think that flinging random English on the product, makes it more appealing.

This is what he read to me,


I think I'd rather "the wave" stay down, especially if the flavor is Durian.

Hope you have a sweet day and find some time for laughter.

*Durian is a Southeast Asian fruit with a pungent, rotting smell and unusual taste that people either love (addictively) or hate.

Thank you to irwandy and "Soggydan" Dan Bennett for the great Durian photos.
Flickr Creative Commons.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thankful Thursday - #s 71-80

"A happy heart makes the face cheerful...."
Proverbs 15:13

I have been thinking over things that have brought me happiness this week and came to the conclusion that this is pretty much another way of expressing my thankfulness. So this Thankful Thursday my list will reflect the happiness of my heart....

I am happy that my husband is home (at last) after a 2 week long business trip.

I am happy to have three unique, vibrant young men as my sons.

I am happy to have a space (desk) of my own to organize; decorate; and sit, dream & create at.

I am happy to help friends move into our neighborhood.

I am happy to receive gleeful child hugs.

I am happy to have tears and feel the healthy highs and lows of life (anyone who has ever had to take medication which stabilizes, but also flat lines emotions may possibly relate).

I am happy to have a cute, cuddly pet who speaks with her eyes (as well as the thoughts and words we enjoy assigning to her mouth).

I am happy to be able to write today.

I am happy there is no school tomorrow.

I am happy to have humor in my life.

Thankful Thursday is hosted by Rhondi at Rose Colored Glasses.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

H is for Hidden

H is for Hidden

While I am attempting to keep the appearance and content of this blog "light-Hearted & lovely," there are just some things about life that are Hard. Some where on this life journey, I also picked up the idea that I should try and Hide my short-comings and weaknesses, in order to maintain a strong exterior. So revealing my messy interior does not come easily.

However, for several years now, I have held the conviction (if not always the courage) that bringing Hidden thoughts, fears, failings, hurts etc... in to the light is the only way to gain Healing and also, Hopefully, encourage and bless others experiencing similar difficulties.

So now, I must reveal to you that I possess another Hidden blog. It has no link on this blogsite, nor does its name appear on my profile. I am not ashamed of it. In fact, it is deeply personal to and reflective of me. I just felt like doing something different with this fresh, new blog. To understand my "secret" blog, you will need to know a little bit about me.....

I trust there is a real and loving God who cares intimately for me and has a unique purpose in and for my life. Over the past year, I kept a blog of my Heart questions, ponderings, and struggles as I have walked through a season of depression. I do not claim to hold all, or any, of the answers related to depression... the whys, the causes, the chemistry, the convictions. I only know what it has been like for me and what I have learned. Others may have a completely different experience and understanding. We are none of us alike. So while we may share common pain, confusion, apathy, or numbness; there are no "cookie cutter solutions" or "pat answers."

The name of my unseen blog is Hidden Darkness. If you are curious, you are welcome to click the link and wander around. (The link places you at the beginning.)

"I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD..." Isaiah 45:3 (The Bible)

I can't believe that when I initially published this post, I totally left out the H word Hope. I have hung my heart on this word many a time.

Alphabet Thursday is Hosted by Jenny Matlock at on my tangent.... You can find Heaps of other Happening H posts here.

Thank you to Swamibu and Flickr Creative Commons for the Dreaming of Diamonds image.

Jenny Matlock

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Four Seasons Like Spring...

Living at over a mile (or 1600 meters) above sea level, but also positioned way down south; gives our China home quite a temperate climate. In fact the local saying related to our city is "四季如春" (or "four seasons like spring"). So while many of you have been hibernating under layer upon layer of freshly fallen snow, we have experienced a fairly mild "cold season."

However, the locals seldom let you in on the rest of the adage, "一雨变成冬" ("but with rain, it changes to winter"). Well, the gray skies mysteriously gathered today and the drop in temperature was amazing. We do desperately need those rain clouds to open up, though; as area farmers are fighting a terrible drought. So while I too long for and love cherry blossoms and daffodils; I'll willingly wrap up in a comforter and huddle by the heater in anticipation of a "wintery" rain.

How's the weather in your part of the world?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

About the Kitty

So many people have commented on or asked me about the kitty in my header. I have to confess that she is not mine. This wonderful picture came from iStockphoto and was taken by Makiwang (more from this photographer here).

When I created this blog, I especially wanted to memorialize our sweet Thai kitty, Katie. She had sleek black fur; sympathetic, golden eyes; and a mew which sounded practically human . You can find out more about the creation of this blog and Katie at these two earlier posts:


Flashback Friday - Katie 1999-2000

Unfortunately, none of the photos we took of her during our two years together were all that great. I chose the image above because it had an old-fashioned, romantic look; and (like Katie) this cat strikes me as one who could chase after some dreams.

Being a very visual, art loving person; iStockphoto is a sensory smorgasbord for me. (Also they offer a new free image each week.) I love having an account; although I would recommend searching for coupons or using the new user's discount when signing up.

So that's the story. The boys are concerned that our little poodle MeiMei is getting the shaft in this whole blog thing. So I will leave you with a picture of her.

MeiMei trying desperately to walk her friend Rusty. I wonder if this qualifies for Debbie's Fun Foto Friday?

As always thanks for stopping by. I love your visits.

Thankful Thursday - G is for Gratitude

G is for Gratitude.

On Thursdays I have been enjoying posting through the alphabet with Jenny Matlock et al and also taking time to cultivate a thankful heart with Rhondi at Rose Colored Glasses. So gratitude is a more than appropriate theme for the day....

Can you imagine a two level Dutch Colonial house on a large corner plot filled with tall oaks and ancient magnolia trees? There are light purple and pink azaleas; old-fashioned rose bushes with chunky, soft buds; a Chinese cherry tree; and a fragrant, hidden lilac bush enclosed within a split-rail fenced backyard. What a playground for daydreams.

A fresh faced, brown haired lady sits on the front brick stairs with a red wooden door to her back. She sees a little girl climbing through the brush of a small hillside leading up from the street... and smiles.

My mother loves great stories, the theatre, antiques, walks on the beach, and all things beautiful. Together we shared many a trip to an antique shop or craftsman's fair when I was a girl. She has the eye and knack of a decorator. And a sensitive, thoughtful nature which shaped my entire childhood and continues to gently influence and bless my adult life.

Today on Thankful Thursday, I am grateful for my mother who celebrates her 70 somethingth :) birthday tomorrow.

I am also linking with Amy at Keeping Up with the Schultz Family, because our mothers share the same birthday. She is hosting Family Fridays.

Thank you to karen's whimsy for the vintage images.

G is for Guānxi 关系

Jenny Matlock

Today in Mrs. Matlock's class we will be having a cultural lesson.*

G is for Guānxi (关系), a Chinese word meaning "relationships" or "connections."

Guānxi is at the heart of Chinese culture and a bit of a mystery to those outside of it.

"At its most basic, guanxi describes a personal connection between two people in which one is able to prevail upon another to perform a favor or service, or be prevailed upon. The two people need not be of equal social status. Guanxi can also be used to describe a network of contacts, which an individual can call upon when something needs to be done, and through which he or she can exert influence on behalf of another." Wikipedia

"It's often the case that you can't even get (the first thing accomplished) in China without guanxi, and you can do just about anything... - when you have it.... It has everything to do with whom you know and what these people are willing - or obligated - to do for you.

Guanxi is, of course, a reciprocal obligation. You are expected to behave in similar fashion and to deliver favors to those with whom you have guanxi. Nor need the currency of guanxi be cash - it seldom is in fact. You might be asked to procure hard-to-get theater tickets, arrange an appointment with a well-known doctor, introduce someone to a potential business partner, secure a visa for someone, or recommend someone for a trip abroad.

Guanxi often involves going via the houmen (back door)....

The Chinese generally expect foreigners to understand guanxi and behave according to its rules."

Seligman, Scott, , and . Chinese Business Etiquette. New York, NY: Warner Books, Inc, 1999. Print. pp56-57

Closely related to guānxi is reciprocity - the doing of favors and Giving of Gifts. "The economy of favors between two individuals or units is expected to remain in rough balance over a period of time.... A second corollary to this rule is that you should proceed with caution before putting a Chinese in a position in which he or she is totally unable to return a favor. Giving an extremely expensive gift can place the recipient in an uncomfortable situation. If there is no possibility of the person's ever repaying the gift with something of approximately equal value, he or she will always be beholden to the giver - or else lose face."

Seligman, Scott, , and . Chinese Business Etiquette. New York, NY: Warner Books, Inc, 1999. Print. PP 59-60

A current example of this in my life would be my Saturday afternoon tutoring. Our really nice neighbors upstairs asked if I would be willing to help their eleven year old son with his English. They offered to pay me to tutor him once a week. Now in my mind, I am thinking, "These are really nice folks and I would love to get to know them better." Additional thoughts were, "I'm not qualified as a teacher and do not want the pressure of feeling like we couldn't miss a week or change the day & time now and then." So I said yes, but hemmed and hawed about the payment. Finally I let my husband communicate that we appreciated their friendship, that I didn't feel quite comfortable being paid, and that there would surely be help we would need from them in the future. We understood in saying this that, in all probability, the gift giving would begin. And it has... a box of fruit, a New Year's present for our youngest, etc. We really do like them and, generally, I have fun teaching "Jack;" so I would do it for nothing. But that's just not the way here.

As independent Americans, I think we some times feel that we don't need anyone and that we stand on our own two feet or accomplish and achieve things solely through our my own merit. I'm not fond of the pressure or expectations of guānxi or the fact that people are not always rewarded due to talents and hard work, but instead by who they know. But cultivating relationships and being thoughtful is the sunny side of the coin. We do need one another after all. And who doesn't like receiving a gift now and then.

*I'm afraid this lesson is a little long (maybe we should have spread it over two days). I hope you were able to hang in there with me.

Be sure to check out all the Gee posts for this Thursday's class at Jenny Matlock's on my tangent....

The free vintage China images came from


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