Solitude

Gulangyu, Xiamen

Voices everywhere,

And cars, buses, trains and planes —

Far from them — silence!

——–

In this busy and noisy world, may you find time and a place for solitude. 🙏🏽

T.

Shine bright: Two haikus

Though clouds block the way

Find slits through which to shine bright

Shine bright and give light.

———–

Dark clouds hide the sun

Then the wind blows and clouds move

Briefly — the sun shines.

———-

I was on a moving bus when I took the picture above. I have always liked watching the sun’s rays through the clouds. To me it always feels like the land is being blessed.

But the haikus I attempted to write aren’t about that. They are about being optimistic and sharing that optimism with others.

I hope you find reasons to be optimistic today! 💕

T.

So near, yet so far

Seen from a distance

Laughter heard across the miles

But untouched — unreal

——

Technology has made our lives easier and communicating with family more convenient.
Yet, somehow seeing your loved on the screen of your computer or phone or iPad is not the same as holding their hand or hugging them.
Online communication still seems so unreal.
Maybe it will feel “normal” in the future. Maybe.
Happy Tuesday!
T.

LAPC: Seeing Double

Two map puffers at the Manila Ocean Park

“There is no satisfaction in any good without a companion.” — Seneca the Younger

Two penguins at the New England Aquarium

Meteorites exhibit at the Harvard Museum of Natural History

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Wax figures of two former presidents at the Dreamland Wax Museum, Boston

Wax figures of two members of the Royal Family at the Dreamland Wax Museum, Boston

“A good companion is one you wouldn’t mind dying with.

— Frank Herbert

May you find a good companion in life, if you haven’t yet. 💕

T.

Lens artists photo challenge: Seeing Double

Being alone in old age

“No one should be alone in their old age. But it is unavoidable.” Santiago in Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

I think I have written on this theme before, but I am reminded of this again recently rereading Old Man and the Sea and also by something I saw while walking at the park one evening.

While walking at the park a few evenings ago, when the lights had not been turned on yet although it was already a little dark (the lights are turned on at 6:30 in the evening), I saw this tiny, frail-looking white-haired woman, her back hunched, sitting alone on a bench under a tree.

I don’t know her story, maybe it’s not a sad one, but it made me think how at my age now, I love having a “ME” time — being alone during the day and certain of company later in the day when my husband comes home, having someone to talk with about how our day went.

Many times I have heard parents of young children and teenagers complaining about how they don’t have time for themselves and cannot wait for the time when their children become adults and leave the house. But I have also heard many older parents who talk about missing their adult children and hoping, waiting for them to visit or even just call.

Sometimes we behave as if we will always be what we are at present — strong, healthy, not needing anybody. I think the more often we remind ourselves that one day we will need company, one day we will need help, one day we will miss our children, one day we will fear being alone — the more gracious we will be in living our present lives, and the kinder we will be to people whom we think we have no need for at present.

Sure, aging parents can be a burden sometimes, especially when they become demanding or even mean. But perhaps it is their illness that makes them so; they would probably never think of saying or doing these things when they still had full control of themselves. Perhaps they need compassion and understanding more than anything.

I learned this from my mother whose own mother disliked her when my grandmother was still strong and able. But when my grandmother became sick and unable to walk, my mother came and offered to help and forced us, her daughters to help as well. At first my grandmother still refused to talk to my mother but after a while she probably realized my mother was not going anywhere. They were able to forgive each other before my grandmother died. My mother’s humility in front of my grandmother and her sincerity in helping her in her hour of need made an impression on us, her children. My mother was not perfect, but we loved her and took care of her the best way we could. From her we learned that though your parents made mistakes, they did raise you the best way they knew how, and just as you have compassion on strangers who are suffering, you can be compassionate with the ones who loved you enough to try to give you a better life than the one they lived.

We are all going to grow old and weak, if we don’t leave this world earlier than expected.

The sooner we realize this, the more compassionate we will become.

Blessings. 🙏🏽

T.

A Trip to Gulangyu

I’ve been living in Xiamen for 17 years and I’ve visited Gulangyu over a hundred times over the years, but there are places on both islands that I still have to see.

So I was glad to get to the top of Sunlight Rock for the first time yesterday and be able to take pictures of the southern part of Xiamen island and the view of Gulangyu taken from the top of Sunlight Rock.

As we arrived there early, we were able to avoid the crowds of tourists that started to come around lunch time when we had already walked over 7km.

I was also able to get inside the Christ the King church which had to be unlocked by a kind lady who asked me if I was from the Philippines and did I want to pray.

It had been awhile since I last came, so I was happy to be able to come to this church again where I came to hear mass every week for years.

You can come to Gulangyu by ferry from Youlun Zhongxin (for tourists) and tickets cost 35RMB. (Thankfully we have a card that shows we work in Xiamen, and so we pay the local’s fare of 8RMB and get on a different ferry that is not crowded at all!)

We spent one morning on Gulangyu and walked for over 9km.

But surprisingly, I wasn’t tired at all.

If you’re ever in Xiamen, you can’t miss Gulangyu. It is truly worth a visit.

Have a lovely Thursday!

T.

Darkness and Light

Zheng Chenggong, Gulangyu Museum, Xiamen

We went to Gulangyu this morning, and I was able to visit places that I had never been to before.

One of these places was the museum that one could go in for free. It doesn’t seem to be a very popular place (there were thousands of tourists outside but less than 50 people inside this 3-story museum), so it was nice to walk around and learn about the history of this tiny island.

I took a picture of this statue of General Zheng as I liked the contrast of darkness and light where it stood. It was dark coming from the left side, but there was light coming from the window to the right. I thought it was the perfect location.

As a general he probably went through many times of choosing between darkness and light.

At least that’s what I saw/thought of it. Or maybe I am just overthinking again!

What do you think?

T.

On Unlikely Friendships

Recently I was told by someone they couldn’t believe I am friends with one of my best friends when we are so different from each other. What did we talk about?

I wasn’t able to give an answer that satisfied them (they have asked me this at least twice), so I got to thinking , why indeed?

The answer really is, we have known each other for years, and in those years we have talked a lot about everything — politics, religion, philosophy, music, movies, our families, our work, our worries and fears, things and people we love and hate — I can’t think of anything we have not talked about.

Isn’t that how friendships are formed?

We become friends with people who may seem different from us at first, but when we spend time to get to know them and for them to know us, we find that underneath the unimportant differences, we have more in common in our hopes and dreams, joys and sadness — in our humanity.

All it takes is listening: we listen to them, and they listen to us.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” — Aristotle

My three best friends and I may have very different temperaments, and we disagree with each other on so many things — but we respect each other’s views and accept each other as a friend with different views on things.

“A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.” — Baltasar Gracian

What I am most grateful for in my friendship with my 3 best friends is that they all have taught me, at different periods in my life, something that I find valuable, useful.

Apart from my son, these three have helped shape me into the person that I am now — one that is still not perfect but one that I like and respect.

Wouldn’t you feel blessed to have such friends?

Have a peaceful weekend!

T.

LAPC: Candid Part 2

There are two places my 8-year old son who has Autism, loves to be at — the airport and the beach. But whereas at the airport he likes to walk or run around, he is most calm sitting on the beach. At one beach we went to early this year, he and his dad sat watching the sunset for over an hour.

I was at first hesitant to post candid photos of my son, but then I realize most of these photos were taken with his back to the camera.

I have used these photos before in my posts about him and Autism, so these are “recycled” photos, but definitely candid. 😉

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Candid

LAPC: Candid

Gentle and glowing,

She dazzles every creature

With her candid pose.

—–

I know Ann-Christine suggested candid photographs of people and animals, but I don’t have lots of those that I think I can share publicly. Then I saw the moon tonight and thought, “What a beauty!” And I attempted a haiku praising the moon, and thought of the word “candid.” So there. 😉

Have a lovely week!

T.

Lens Artists Photo Challenge: Candid

Happiness is a letter E

Last week I ran into a co-worker who had not seen me in a while, and she asked me how I was doing and how my son was doing. She knows my son is on the spectrum, so when she asked me about my son, I excitedly told her I would show her something that shows my son’s progress. And she looked so eager waiting to see a picture of my son.

But when she finally saw what I had wanted to show her — the picture above, I saw the dramatic change in her facial expression — one of pity, which just made me laugh saying, “I know my happiness is too simple!”

At 8 years old, my son just learned how to trace the first letter of his name, E. I was ecstatic. My sisters were so excited. My husband was so moved. This picture of his first letter E kept me smiling for days. And when my co-worker saw me that day, I was still “high” from that letter E! LOL.

I fully understand why my co-worker felt sorry for me — she then talked about how there are good schools in other countries — but we see the progress in my son’s slow progress. And every progress is something that brings us happiness and are thankful for.

My son is fortunate to have teachers and therapists who have so much patience to teach him. He is blessed to have my sisters and my nephews who love him for who and what he is. And we are all blessed to have him who has taught us that happiness does not have to come from big, expensive stuff.

Happiness can come from a simple drawing of a letter E. ❤️

May you find happiness in simple things.

T.

Coconut Water

When I was a kid, we never had to buy coconut or coconut water as my late grandfather had a farm and we could have all the coconut water we wanted. The tenants’ sons so expertly climbed the tree and got us young coconuts which they then as expertly cracked open with the blunt edge of a bolo.

Those were the days.

Now we have to buy young coconuts for the water. I’ve only tried the coconut water sold in stores once, and that was it. It didn’t taste like coconut water at all. Luckily for me, I come from a country where it’s in abundance so it’s pretty inexpensive. I was quite surprised to find the price of one here in Jimei is 15RMB (2.15 USD). For that price back home, it’s served in a restaurant and you don’t have to open it yourself! Lol.

Coconut water is supposedly rich in potassium, richer than bananas even. It is also low in calories and free of fat and cholesterol.

I had kidney stones as a kid, so my mother often encouraged me to drink more coconut water. Back then I didn’t know why but having read about it more, coconut water is supposed to help dissolve kidney stones because of its richness in potassium which helps prevent formation of kidney stones.

I honestly think it helped me back then, especially as I don’t remember taking medicines for my kidney problem.

However a few articles online also said that if you have chronic kidney disease, you should limit your potassium intake which means coconut water may not be best for you.

Like most “findings” these days, it’s hard to determine which one’s right or wrong. One day “experts” say something is good for you; later, another group of “experts” say it’s bad for you.

I guess the best advice is: moderation.

But one thing I can assure you: fresh coconut water is healthier and more refreshing than an ice-cold soda!

Happy weekend!💕

T.

Ghosting

When I was younger, “ghosting” was not the term for when someone you had been chatting or texting with all of a sudden went quiet.

As an older person who has experienced being ghosted and ghosting someone, I realize “ghosting” is merely a one-sided view of the situation. The one who stops texting (A) does not think of her “indifference”as “ghosting” as she is just living her life. She does not see the need to text or contact because she is busy with other things.

If the other person she has been texting with (B) also has a busy life, her (A’s) absence or silence will not be an issue. But if B relies heavily on A’s “company,” then B will definitely see A’s silence as “ghosting.”

Is someone “ghosting” you? Or you just need more friends? 😉

Have a fun-filled weekend!

T.

Bitter (Gourd) Memory

This is what I had for lunch today: bitter gourd with egg, sprinkled with black pepper and cumin.

I loved it. But I haven’t always loved it.

When I was a child, my mother often prepared a bitter gourd salad which I could not even chew because of its bitterness. In high school, our Practical Arts teacher told us this vegetable (or vegetable-fruit) was a blood purifier. That really stuck with me. Several times I tried to like this vegetable, but it wasn’t until only a couple of years ago that I could finally appreciate the bitterness of the bitter gourd.

And am I thankful that I like it now!

It’s supposedly packed with nutrients and can help reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels. And as it is rich in fiber and low in calories, it’s great for weight loss as well.

Did I enjoy my lunch? I sure did! (I learned from my Korean friend that this is not cheap in South Korea. However, there’s an abundance of bitter gourd in southern China where I am now and in my home country as well. So, lucky me!)

Have a healthy week!

T.

LAPC: Filling the Frame

My favorite subject for photography is flowers as I find them easier to frame than it is to frame a building or a wide, open space or a moving animal. And flowers, whether you zoom in or out, almost always come out beautiful.

Here are some photos of flowers I have taken over the years. They all “fill the frame.”

Have a lovely week! 💕

T.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Filling the Frame