Saturday, May 22, 2010

Paint With Me - Dandelions

As I was finishing up a dandelion drawing I started a few days earlier for "Paint With Me Thursday" (obviously I'm a bit late), I began to reflect on the structure and beauty of this flower (I know... weed) in a way that I hadn't before. Exactly how does this turned up, sunshiney flower transform in to an elegant, sphere of soft symmetry. The image that came to my mind was that of popcorn; but the dandelion's form is so perfect. I understand the functionality aspect of the change in terms of transmitting the seeds to the wind; but the miracle of the "how," the amazing complex design, and the splendor of each minute detail causes a quietness and awe in me.

See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
Matthew 6:28-29

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.
Romans 1:20

You can find this week's "Paint With Me Thursday" artwork here at Simply Feather. Next week's inspiration is Fences.

Dandelion by Donald Macleod
Dandelion (fluff) by Alex Rouvin

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Two important places in my heart

The town I grew up in.

Richmond on the James

I remember as a girl riding downtown in our family station wagon and anticipating the moment when the car's tires would hit cobblestone. It was like entering in to history. Once on Monument Avenue, I always scanned for the statue of Jeb Stuart; because in my girlish, non-historical mind, he embodied the spirit of cavalier romance - dashing and brave with long strawberry blond curls. I thought there was a way to discover whether each rider had died in battle or not by observing the direction the statue faced or the activity of the horse, but I couldn't find anything on the internet to substantiate this memory, so.... Isn't it funny the things you pick up in childhood and don't know how or where from.

I suppose I am the truest kind of Richmond native (even though I moved away over 15 years ago). I was the only one in my family actually born in the heart of the city at the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) hospital (in the ancient days before it aligned with the VCU campus). I love the old buildings and renovated downtown areas aesthetically and for their remembrance of bygone eras. But, though I currently live in a city of around 3.2 million, I'm not really a city girl. Parallel parking, fast pace life and business dress, and knowing the latest restaurants and night spots; in general, isn't me.

One of the coolest parks in Richmond is Maymont. We took yearly field trips there in elementary school. And it always seemed so strange to me to find all kinds of birds and other indigenous wildlife within the borders of this regular, quiet, botanical city park. We had picnic lunches and petting zoos, but I don't think we ever entered the mansion.

My favorite place growing up was the University of Richmond campus. Both of my parents attended there when it was Richmond and Westhampton Colleges (the boys and girls separated by the lake). My first experience with ice skating was on that frozen lake one winter. And my first true kiss almost happened there, but he chickened out I guess. I imagined and played there while my Dad jogged the lake's winding, wooded paths. Beside the lake at the Robins Center, from my childhood through my teens, I sat up close in alumni seating and cheered the Spiders in their basketball contests (that is if I wasn't wandering the arena corridors hoping to run in to boys). I took my future husband to the lake when I was showing him my world; and we brought our boys there as preschoolers to run, explore, and throw bread crumbs to the ducks. So much of who I am and my memories, are tied up with this beautiful campus.

Westhampton Lake

One final Richmond image that I want to leave you with is the old Main Street (train) Station clock tower. We used to pass it multiple times during holidays and summer vacation, crossing the James River via I-95 on the way to visit my cousins. Every time I saw it, I grieved its forsaken and neglected state. I called it "Big Ben" and cherished it as such a forlorn, romantic spot. For years and years it remained ignored and unkept while businesses and buildings grew up around it, much like "The Little House" in Virginia Lee Burton's storybook. But then finally in 2004 the city completed renovation of this gorgeous Renaissance Revival style building and it has moved forward to become a vibrant part of railroad and downtown life.

The Main Street Station aka Big Ben

The town I adopted by marriage.

I love this city tucked away in the mountains of Virginia with its community feel and sense of, particularly, railroad heritage. But I think because of my earlier verboseness and the beauty of this dear place, I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

View of Downtown Roanoke from Mill Mountain

The Hotel Roanoke

Icons of downtown

I couldn't not show you the Dr. Pepper sign.... Remember have one 3 times a day 10 2 and 4.

The Farmer's Market

Southwest Virginia Morning

McAfee's Knob Appalachian Trail

The Blue Ridge Parkway - My husband's grandfather was one of the hardworking engineers who designed this amazing and picturesque roadway.

Rocky Knob Sunrise

Many of the images I posted came from Jimmy Joe's (Jim Clark) Flickr photostream. He has taken some wonderful city photos in the states and Europe . You should check it out. I am grateful to him for:
The pink Dogwoods (state flower of Virginia)
Maymont Park Mansion
Maymont Park Bison
The Mill Mountain (Roanoke) Star

Other beautiful images came from these great photographers:

The Richmond Skyline by JeepDawg
The image of the Jeb Stuart monument by Hal Jespersen
Westhampton Lake image by suzymcg
Mainstreet Station (Infrastructure) image by taberandrew (Taber Andrew Bain)
(photostream has more cool Virginia pictures)
View of Downtown Roanoke at night from Mill Mountain by Ben Schumin
The Hotel Roanoke image by Dstewart2
H&C Coffee Sign image by theamericanroadside (Ron)
Dr. Pepper and H&C Coffee image by Cavalier92 (Chris Pesotski)
The Farmer's Market and the Southwest Virginia Morning images by Weaselmcfee (J.E. Fee)
(photostream has more gorgeous SW VA pictures)
McAfee's Knob image by Seuss
Blue Ridge Parkway image by str_collection
Rocky Knob Sunrise image by Michael Vadala

I am linking up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. Links to rare and precious "R" posts can be found here.

Wordless... Volleyball Tournament

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

All this for less than $1.50

Q is for qiáo (桥) or bridge. Or more importantly, the qiáo in guòqiáomǐxiàn (过桥米线) "Over the Bridge Noodles." The part of China in which we live is famous for "Over the Bridge Noodles." And in order to bring you the best of local culture, I made a special visit to a nearby noodle restaurant. But first... the story:

In more ancient times there lived a scholar who, in diligent preparation for his examinations, sought the peace and quiet of a lake island. He stayed in a little shelter there, and his loving wife would bring him meals every day across a long, connecting zig-zag bridge. He was so engrossed in his studies, however, that he often forgot to eat. The food, having already traveled far, would turn cold and unappetizing. As he became more and more thin, his wife worried for his health. One day she sent a nourishing hen in a pot, which he once again neglected to eat. When his wife arrived, she noticed the untouched meal and thought that surely it would be inedible. To her surprise, when she uncovered the pot, the hen and broth were still hot. In this way, she discovered that the oil from the fat of the hen would keep the broth hot and that she could even add cold vegetables and noodles to it to be cooked. From then on she brought a pot of hot broth covered with a film of oil and, separately, the other ingredients to be added and cooked later. And her husband could always have a hot meal.

This is the premise of "Over the Bridge Noodles"... a bowl of hot chicken broth with a sealing film of oil to which you add uncooked greens, meat, and noodles.

So sparing no expense... I took the #66 bus to The Brothers Jiang, which is a noodle serving franchise with locations all over the city and specializing in "Over the Bridge Noodles." Tons of business folks and students grab a quick lunch here every day. Natives will tell you that there are other, more authentic places to get the "Over the Bridge" experience; but this restaurant is pretty popular and well-known. So I put my nine yuan (about $1.30) down for the bottom of the line, least exotic version; and here's what I received....

I'll try to identify some of the add-ins:

tofu skin on the plate with the spring onions and chives
quail egg (another Q word!)
pork slices
some unidentified meat slivers that may have been liver and squid
chicken leg
pig's foot

Then I dumped a huge bowl of rice noodles in with the rest. I added some red pepper to mine for a spicier flavor. After that, it's much like a treasure hunt. Here's the egg....

And me coming to the end. I did spoon out some of the soup to drink.

I am linking up with Teacher Matlock for Alphabe-Thursday. You can find many wonderful and creative Q posts here.

The gorgeous bridge image displayed above was taken in 1924 by Sidney D. Gamble and restored by ralph repo. It depicts the Jade Belt Bridge 玉带桥 (or Camel Back Bridge) on the grounds of the Summer Palace in Beijing. It is "an 18th century pedestrian Moon bridge." Please check out more information about this lovely photo and bridge here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wordless... 1st "Formal" Date

Don't Go Down that Road.

MeiMei in the laundry
This morning I woke up to the sound of the alarm and my second son starting his shower. One down, three more to go. I knew I could sleep a few minutes longer until he was close to getting out. Then I woke up the oldest and youngest, and got a bowl of cereal for the latter. All the little details of getting them out the door and off to school took place. The third never did get his turn to be clean. Then it hits me. The house is a wreck, not only strewn with boy odor clothes that I walk around and gather up; but also bowls and trash that are left on the floor... by computers, and near comfy chairs. It's not just that mess either. I know in my beauty loving heart that there must be some way to make our home appear intentional, ordered, coordinated, designed, lovely. This leads me to other thoughts. I never quite seem to make it or get even close to creating or doing something wonderful. And are these the type of things that should really matter to me anyway.... I go back in bed. Last year this kind of thinking led me down a dark road of discouragement and sadness. I better watch out. I slept (with a little, sweet poodle snuggled up by my side). I woke. *What is my purpose?* No answer. And slept some more. I do know that the primary purpose of each life is to love others. But I don't seem to do even this very well. I determine to get up and do my physical therapy stretches and exercises. Then take a shower. I take some time scanning the internet - wondering what to write in light of the lovely homes; amazing photos; creativity; and incredibly clever, funny, or meaningful posts that delight my mind and eyes at every click of the mouse. I hope I can honestly say that I'm not fishing for complimentary comments. And I certainly don't want harsh ones saying, "Just get your act together, dear!" either.... I need to go fix dinner. It will be something ordinary: rice, stir fried chicken and zucchini, and maybe carrots on the side (my oldest doesn't like cooked ones). Served straight from the pan on plasticware dishes rimmed with flowers, no garnishes or extras. I hope it fills these ever hungry teenage stomachs up..... Bye for now.

I've been doing some more thinking and am wondering if my issue (besides lethargy and motivation) is with giftings and talents.

Some words from the Bible to ponder:

All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats' hair.... The Lord... has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. And he has inspired him to teach, both him and (another). He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer. (Exodus 35-36)

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace....
(1Peter 4:8-10)

Also 1Corinthians 12

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ten things I've learned so far from Physical Therapy*

1. 9 out of 10 people experience back pain at some time in their adult life and I am one of them.

2. Posture does matter.

3. The right chair is important. Slumping on the cushy sofa and typing on the computer (or even propped up in bed) does not qualify. *tears*

4. I should not sit for more than 30 minutes at a time. Instead, I need to stand up and take walk around breaks.

5. Sweep things you want to pick up towards you with a straight arm, don't arch over the table and gather them up.

6. Squat don't bend, when picking all (not just heavy) things up.

7. I have Transversus Abdominus (TVA) muscles... theoretically.

8. Sleeping with pillows under or between your knees is not as comfy as it sounds, but good for positioning the body.

9. StREtch....

10. Walk... Walk... Walk... and Walk some more.

*Fun fact: Many other countries prefer the term Physiotherapy.
P is for Physical or Physiotherapy.
I am participating in Jenny Matlock's wonderful meme "Alphabe-Thursday." You can join her class here at on my tangent... as well as peruse some terrific posts.

Please go check out Ellie's pets on Flickr. The image above came from her photostream and she has lots of other wonderful photos of her pugs and kitties.

Psalm 23 for Paint With Me Thursday

This week's "Paint With Me Thursday" theme is:
Black and White.
It's not too late to pull out pencils, crayons, markers, and paint brush... whatever your creative preference... and join in. Simply Feather hosts this meme; and you can find wonderful, original art here. Next week's inspiration is Circles.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Day in Hong Kong

Mosaic Monday is hosted by Little Red House. You can find many lovely mosaic posts here.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

What to draw

I did not make any "words to live by;" but had, inspired by Nicole's artwork, made this doodle with just Words.

"Paint With Me Thursday" is hosted by Simply Feather. You can find wonderful, creative entries here.
Next week's idea starter is Black and White.


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