Wednesday, June 28, 2006


It's been a very busy week. Today was supposed to be my day off but I went to the dentist for my 6 monthly cleaning and checkup. Everything is ok in my mouth. Scott, my dentist, likes to hear about all my trips abroad. It seems every 6 months I have something new to tell him. How did this happen? How is it I can make so many trips abroad? By saving very hard. I haven't even worked any extra shifts. It's mostly by being very very frugal, nothing but. I always pack a sack lunch to work. I cook once or twice a week and eat leftovers all the time, even when I go to my brother's house for dinner. I bring leftovers home and I could eat for days on it. I don't drink Starbucks coffee. It's too expensive, I make my own. I don't go to the mall at all. My biggest expenditure are books but they last forever. A book is a gift you can open again and again. A stack of books did arrive for me yesterday, 3 of them from Dan Price about journaling. I found out about him from Danny Gregory's books; 2 were about China. I'm preparing to visit China next fall. I just finished "Opium, a history" by Martin Booth. I have 2 more on China, "The Taiping Rebellion" and "The Opium wars". Why Opium? I'll write about Opium when I have time. I came back from the dentist and an indication light came on on my dashboard. I called Marina Del Rey Toyota, they tell me I have a blown taillight bulb. I was going to run over there to have them fix it for probable $100 when I saw my neighbor working on his RV. He said he could fix it and he might just have the right bulb for it. He did and I paid him $20. I washed the car and I'm now writing this blog. Next I'm going to cook dinner and go through some of the books that came. Dan Price's books are a lot of fun. It'll keep you busy for a very long time. Nothing in your life will be trivial; you will be more observant; every relationship will be important; you'll notice every leaf that falls- I'm exaggerating. After reading Danny Gregory's books, I notice I don't have the patience and lack concentration. To do more detail artwork requires focus, discipline and concentration. I now know I lack these qualities. Not that I can't change. I can and I want to. It's almost like being lazy. My writing initially was superficial and it's a sign of laziness. So I'm changing. I'm forcing myself to write more details. To do that requires sitting longer at the computer and requires reading a lot more. Phew! I'm only blogging! I guess a lot of us have become lazy. We prefer to unwind in front of the tube where all we do is watch. To participate in life requires involvement and work. It's hard after working at a fulltime job but I'm forcing myself to have a life after work instead of lying on the couch and watching the TV screen. I've cut my TV viewing down a lot. There's nothing on TV, I don't have cable but I've seen cable shows, there's too much superfluous programs just to fill up airtime. So I read some more and save and travel. I have a trip to London coming up and I'm writing down all the things I'm going to do there, food I'm going to eat and places to see. I've been there many times. I love shopping in London even though I can't afford anything. I love the British style; it's more chic than anywhere else.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


I've not drawn anything since grade school; since my art teacher made me cry. She really did a number on me and for almost 30 years I never drew again. I've seen art books, watercolors books and have passed them by, thinking I shouldn't waste my money. She was also my needlework teacher too. I cried in that class too. She would make unpick and redo everything. But in adulthood, I would go on to sew for myself, sew for nieces. I went on to do fancy lacework, smock and embroider. I sewed all the drapes in my house, all the quilts on the beds and all the decorative pillows. I could sew anything. Draw? I never took it up again till one day, in a whimsy moment, I bought Danny Gregory's book, "the creative license". He started drawing pretty late in life and looking at his work and with his encouragement, I made a few feeble attempts and I loved it. Here are some examples. He said, "draw anything, draw what's in front of you". I loved the print on my pajama bottom; its so pretty; it makes me feel pretty when I have it on. I decided to draw the fabric print. I still can't get over baroque architecture. I just realize I'm a very girlie girl. I love pretty things and it stands to reason why I would fall so hard for baroque architecture. I have read guide books denouncing it as "over the top". For me, I can't get enough, the more the better. I've been trying to find an out of print book called, " Sicilian Baroque" by Sir Anthony Blunt. I saw one on for $75. I hesitated and it was sold. When I was ready to buy, it was sold. Maybe there's someone else out there who has discovered their passion for baroque architecture. I am going to Sicily next year. I might have to write my own book........

Saturday, June 24, 2006

proverbs 16:20

"He who gives heed to the word will prosper and happy is he who trusts in the Lord". The word of God is a goldmine. Everyday I mine the word of God for nuggets of gold in the form of spiritual nourishment and encouragement. To set me up on the right relationship with the Lord and therefore the right relationship with the world. The right relationship with the world leads to an industrious life which leads to more and more money in the bank. It is actually very simple. I didn't say easy. We must be diligent in reading and meditating on the word of God. We must be diligent in applying the word of God to every area of our lives. Our life's work would be one of excellence. This leads to promotion and a bigger paycheck. I started writing 6 years ago. It started with reading the word of God and living it out in every area of my life and documenting everything. I have accumulated an immense collection of books. I have reread all these books many times. This is a labor of love; a love for God and a love for the life He has given me. We need a diet of words everyday. This is more important than food and clothing. We need a diet of bible verses everyday that empowers and embolden. Without it, we will be lost in this world of negativity. The word of God becomes your shield to protect against negativity and becomes a weapon to rid our lives of negativity. God then inhabits us to bring into our lives the fruits of our labor. We then become spiritual warriors.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Life is so daily

My prayer- not for ease, for fulfilling work, for interesting travel, for compelling and exciting leisure, for enlarged group of friends-all encompassing. This is my life, my daily life; all my prayers are being answered, daily. I have nothing to rant about, but everything to be thankful for. Every negativity is dealt with in prayer- to squeeze out of it every benefit. Napoleon Hill said, " every adversity carries the seed of equivalent or greater benefit". Everyday is different, no one day is the same as another. Every day brings its own gifts. Be open to receive daily. Daily life doesn't have to be boring or bland if we have a life plan. A life plan, an unlimited life plan, is a fantastic way to get through each day. How do we want to live our lives? What would we rather do for a career? Where would we rather go? Who would we rather associate with? What classes would we take? For those out of school, has learning stop? Each day then is a step or a few steps in the fulfillment of our life plan. Enjoy each day while we're at it because they say its the journey of getting to our destination that counts. Stop and smell the roses or the coffee. Enjoy and savor each day for however awful or good the day is, it is soon gone and we cannot have it back. Enjoy each encounter with everyone and every situation. Someone said, "time flies whether or not you're having fun". To that I say, "try to have fun always". Today begin with a blank sheet, "tabula rasa".... Write down your life plan. While being realistic, don't be too timid. When I bought this house, I told myself to be a little more ambitious and looking back I'm glad I did. Choose the best location you can afford- I asked myself where I'd really want to live, the answer, as close to the ocean as possible. Friends had advice for me but beware of well meaning friends. At $491,000, it was scary. What if I bought at the top of the market? Today (after 5 years) its more than doubled. When we reach beyond our comfort zone, its scary and hard. We don't know our resilience or our adaptability. Your life is too important to just leave to chance. This is the only life we'll ever have. Be careful what you wish for, you might get it. How wonderful!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A 5 year plan

I have just mailed off a resume. I thought I'd explore the prospect of changing jobs. Anyway the prospect of making $170,000 a year was too good to pass up. I don't know if I'll take the job if it's offered to me. It's with a correction facility; but I've decided I will go as far as the interview process. I'm not sure if I'm ready to give up my current position, even for that kind of money; about $40,000 more. There must be something about that job if they're willing to offer such a lot of money; something not good. Anyway I was thinking about the interview process. What questions would be asked? Do you have a 5 year plan? My answer would be "No!" I only have a 5 day plan. I have a sort of plan to get through the week. Things are changing too fast in the world; today with more information I think differently from yesterday. What I liked yesterday, I've already disliked today. What was important yesterday is not important today. Yesterday I was sure I'll change jobs but yesterday the boss has already implemented a pay and bonus structure for me that a new job is not so attractive today. Yesterday I was sure I'll take the job if it's offered to me. Today I'm only willing to go as far as the interview process. Who knows how I'll think tomorrow. I'm not flighty but some jobs are worth keeping and staying at. Not all jobs require a grand 5 year plan. Some jobs would prefer you to stay and grow with. With stability comes consistent service. I can't even say when I'll retire. I'll take it one day at a time. I'll continue to be prudent with spending; continue to invest in upgrading my skills; continue to save and invest; continue to travel and have fun doing all these things.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

italy on my mind

I can't help it. I still have Italy on my mind. The visit to the Baroque city of Lecce in Southern Italy was an afterthought. When I got to Bari on the Adriatic coast I still wasn't sure if I was to take the daytrip to Lecce which was a 2 hour train ride away. Rough Guide described the Baroque as "over the top". Every building in the old city was in the Baroque style that one can gag. I didn't. In fact I fell in love with Baroque, with the moldy, honey colored old buildings. My only regret was I didn't spend enough time there or even spend the night there. I heard there are a lot of Baroque style cities in Eastern Sicily and I'm really excited. My digital camera ran out of power in Lecce added to my regret.

hakka- on being hakka

My Chinese ancestry is Hakka. There are thousands of different Chinese dialects and the people of the same dialect usually are found together in different parts of China-each speaking their own dialect and eating their own cuisine. There is an official dialect which is mandarin and only one form of written Chinese. The amazing thing is the written form could be read in any dialect. It is not a special thing to be Hakka, in fact, it is almost shameful. Hakka people are peasants and are classless. Growing up, I have other Hakka people who told me in whispers they were also Hakka and in the same breath, say that they don't speak Hakka. If possible, you'd rather not be Hakka. Who are the Hakka people of China? Lynn Pan, in her book, "A history of the Chinese Diaspora" said it the best that I can't improve on it. "The Hakkas, whose name means 'guest families', have been described as the gypsies of China, people who live side by side with speakers of different dialects in enclaves scattered across six Southern Provinces, without a homeland of their own. They were a rugged lot and even their women had to be hardy. Little wonder that the Hakkas were the only Chinese to refrain altogether from binding their daughters' feet into the 'golden lilies' that were de rigueur everywhere else. One thing Hakka women were not was dainty". These remarks, rather than incensed me, actually excited me. I am proud to be of Hakka stock. I am a Hakka woman, a hardy Hakka woman, as Lynn Pan called us. She is Shanghainese, from the North. Northerners always felt more superior to Southerners. It gave her more confidence growing up. She has gone on to be a successful author. I have some of her books. Apart from being both Chinese, we share a more common background in that we spent a good part of our lives in than British North Borneo.

A Bat mizvah

It's Ashley's Bat Mizvah today. It's a beautiful Saturday morning. I came early to the Synagogue and am right here at the venue about 5 minutes drive from where I live. What is a Bar Mizvah or a Bat Mizvah? It is a rite of passage for Jewish children. At 13, they pledge their taking a personal interest in the Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible ascribed to Moses' authorship). The Torah is the central part of the Jewish faith. It is the word of God given to the Israelites.
......... It was a beautiful service. Being Christian, this is the first time I've attended a Shabbat service. They were very successful in creating a sense of community by incorporating families into the Torah reading. The whole focus was God, His word(Torah) and the community. Everything was in Hebrew. My sister-in-law, Rivka, is from Israel. She read part of the designated Torah passage in Hebrew, so did other relatives, as did my other niece who is raised here but spoke only Hebrew before she went to school. Ashley read her part of the scripture passage in Hebrew and gave a little speech on what it meant to her. She did well, she's a natural born perfomer with no fear of an audience. She loves being in the spotlight. There was a kiddush reception after Shabbat and I found this congregation to be very warm, friendly and welcoming. I was impressed. One of Rivka's aunt is a holocaust survivor. She was 12 when she was in Auschwitz. Being christian, I am grateful we share the same God and a common heritage, the Old Testament,

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Father's day

A few years ago I decided to write my father's life story. Throughout my life I have heard spits and spats of his growing up at the dinner table. It wasn't till a few years ago as I looked at him, a man approaching 80 and still with such physical, intellectual and spiritual vigor that I realized when he leaves this earth, he takes with him these stories. Unless I take up the gauntlet and document these stories for posterity, they are going to be lost forever. I will be too busy doing other things that I, too, who was told these stories, would forget. Even if no one else in the world wants to know of this man, I should memorialize these stories for the next generation and the generations to follow. Were his stories unique? My mother lived in the same village and just a few years younger never has such stories of survival to tell. My father's siblings does not have the s\same stories either. They were unique stories of immense struggle for mere survival. A life of being the only surviving son in a Chinese culture where sons are supposed to be worshipped but wasn't the case in my father's life. It was a life of extreme poverty combined with tremendous abuse on the part of my paternal grandfather and the cherry on the top was WWII with a Japanese invasion and occupation, culminating in the landing and occupation of Allied Forces after the defeat of the Japanese. All these contributed to the hardships in my father's adolescent years, seen by very few in the history of mankind. It reeks of Frank McCourt's tales in "Angela's Ashes". It was shared suffering in Frank McCourt's life. In my father's case, he bore the brunt and the full force of the pain and struggle. Unless we read of survival stories and I don't mean the television series on "Survival", we will continue to sleepwalk through life. We will continue to live a very shallow existence. We will continue to be bored and be boring.There has been lots of holocaust stories and there should be. We must not forget. We must not be complacent. While WWII raged on in Europe, there was another war in the Asian front-the spread of Japanese Imperialism. They had a rhetoric, not unlike the Nazis. In fact, the Japanese Imperialists and the Nazis were collaborators. Here's to my father.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hollywood

I am a Chinese American and in Europe, I am mistaken for being Japanese. I try to tell people I'm from Los Angeles or California but most people don't know where either one is. When I say I'm from Hollywood, then I see the regconition in their faces and everyone will say "Oui" in France or "Si" in Italy or Spain. I was at the train station in Santiago de Compostela last year, waiting to take the train to Hendaye, the French town at the border with Spain. There were a whole bunch of pilgrims taking the same train to go home. I was seated next to one of them. I asked if he finished the 500 mile Camino. He said, "Ja". He sounded German but he said he was from Austria. So I told him I was from California and that our governor is from Austria. He said' "Ja, the terminator" in an accent that sounded exactly like Arnold's. We both laughed so loud that everyone in the train station began to look our way. I use Arnold Schwarzenegger's notoriety all the time in Europe.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The wheel of fortune

All through my house I have little reminders, little pictures and inspirational words to encourage me to continue in this mindset. The feeling of worthiness comes from inside. Emerson said, "Great hearts send forth steadily the secret forces that incessantly draw great events".Someone else once said,"your outer life is a reflection of your inner life. So the question is, "How do you live? Is there beauty in your life? Are you living the life you want? The first thing to change is your thoughts because these thoughts will ultimately become your expressions; Metaphysicians call it "demonstration"- same difference. It is so important to write down our goals. There's a greater chance of achieving our goals if they are more concrete; if we can express them in writing. Another way of memorializing our goals is in the form of a picture; a wheel of fortune. On it we could paint or paste pictures of the house we'd like to own, the places we want to visit; maybe stick on it a check written to ourselves for $1m. If we should get lazy or depressed, we could look at that picture wheel again to remind ourselves of what we want to achieve in this life. I have all kinds of reminders all over the house. I am not a collector of souvenirs but I do have some, 2 cafe au lait bowls from Nice, France; 2 cake plates from London; an embroidered shawl from Seville, Spain. I buy all my shoes from the Doc Marten store in London. They're a daily reminder of the blessedness in my life. I am truly grateful. When things get tough at work I remind myself and I say "Italy" under my breath and I could handle anything!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Laws of prosperity

I have a book by Catherine Ponder called, "The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity" which has been instrumental in my getting into the path of prosperity. I remember one lonely night, after realizing that I've just lost $80,000 in a business venture with some family members, I went on my knees and I prayed, "Lord, I want to prosper, prosper me!" I remember I laid the blame solely on my own shoulders and did not apportion blame on anyone else. I went to and typed in "Prosperity". This book by Catherine Ponder was among the hundreds that stood out. I've read and reread the book many times. It is one of the many books that set me on the path to prosperity. What it did for me was it made me feel worthy to be rich, successful and prosperous. Often times we sabotage ourselves and our success by feeling unworthy. I had to readjust my mindset. Once I did, I was well on the road to prosperity. It's an incredible feeling.

spring is in the air

These are pretty and delicious pictures. The whole idea is to create a beautiful and inspiring blog with everyday life. This is the life I live away from work. Work is very different. I work in Skid Row; the neighborhood is completely the opposite of how I live.
But I bring to my work the same creativity I live with. It only looks different outside. I care very deeply about my work; I care very deeply about the people I serve at work, the homeless, the paroled felons and the mentally ill. Serving them brings great joy to my life. I wouldn't work any where else.

It is finally here, well, in Southern California, it comes early. I spend most of my free time outdoors in my backyard wearing my old straw hat that I bought 10 years ago from Walmart. It's seen me through 2 houses. I just came back from the Santa Monica farmers' market. I bought some flowers (Peonies and Tuberose), raspberries, raisins, baby Brussels sprouts and a loaf of raisin-pecan bread. I went through my old magazines and selected a stack of old English magazines and I'm going to read them again in the backyard with a cup of tea. I love foreign magazines, French or English. I might walk down to Venice beach and hang out there for a bit.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

roughing it- in Europe

I have stayed in expensive hotels in Paris, Venice and Avignon. The European taste is so different and much more charming. American hotels tend to uniformed and stuffy. I've stayed in very cheap lodgings too. By far I enjoyed the cheap lodgings more. Each one is so different; you never know what to expect and that makes it so much fun. One place had the toilet wedged in the stairwell in between floors; you have to watch your step when you leave; you might fall down the stairs. Another place is a big old house run by a very nice young French couple. I always choose places where the guidebooks describe as friendly. The friendliness makes up for the rusticness. Rustic- that's the word for it, it sounds better than dumpy. These pictures were taken in Carcassonne, France. It's someone's loft which was painted pink and had lots of colorful provencal fabrics. It was cheap and delightful. The kids loved it. We stayed right in the center of the medieval city and cheaply too; 64 euros per night for the 4 of us. The balcony looks out into old and moldy buildings and the turrets and crenellations of the ancient city walls. The kids want to return to Carcassonne.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The high cost of vacations

With the high cost of fuel every expert is advising the public to take vacations closer to home. I have seen a little of the USA and have loved the sights. Yellowstone comes to mind and it is an absolutely fantastic place; a national treasure. I do strongly recommend visiting Yellowstone. However if one doesn;t go to Europe, One misses out too. Vistas like these are only found in Europe whether it be the Grand Canal in Venice or the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. There are hundreds of years of history in the sights in Europe and it is mind boggling. Venice is so different and so fantastic. You don't have to be on a honeymoon to visit Venice. There's no other place like it. The Alhambra was built by the Moors when they conquered Spain. When Spain was retaken by the Catholic Kings, Isabella and Ferdinand lived there and raised their children there. Their oldest daughter, Catherine was the first wife of King Henry VIII. In historical tales of Henry VIII, they make mention of Catherine as having grown up in the Alhambra. It's so full of historical significance. There are so many other places. One cannot see them all in one's lifetime. Venice was once a very prosperous city as evidenced by the gorgeous palazzos built in the water. I remember my first visit. As the train drew closer, I strained to see the city on the water. I couldn't see it, it took the train a long way into the water before I caught my first glimpse. It was magical. I stepped out the train and on to a vaporetto, a water bus. It zigzagged its way over the Grand Canal and to my hotel stop. I want to be beck there again and soon. There are so many other magical places in Europe.