Saturday, May 27, 2017


After every storm always comes a period of calm.  Sometimes storms come one after the other but there is always a promise of rest and peace from any form of storm or stirring.  The storm I'm talking about here represents a change that comes from a move, a loss or even a gain.  In other words it can be initiated by either an upward, downward or even a horizontal change.

The change...
It has been two years since my daughter Shannon moved to Wisconsin to take on a lucrative job at Epic.  And because she finished her degree earlier than scheduled, we could say that she was under-age to be on the career ladder.  Add to that the fact that she has always been the youngest if not one of the youngest in in her class.  Fresh from college and barely had enough tome to go on the trip of her choice (which we promised if she finished her degree within four years) before she started her independent life.  Although the career opportunity presented to her was great, getting on it involved tremendous stirring in her young life.

For her - having a career job, buying her own car, having her own place and away from home is a dream-come-true.  It is something she has long dreamed even before going to college.  Things were happening in the right direction for her.  It was all very exciting.  But like any storm, everything was happening on hyper-speed against time that is moving on normal speed on a child who is maturing at normal rate.   And although her opportunities and events seemed good at the time, she was taking a beating...

Suddenly she was managing her own finances, paying her own bills, signing her own car loan and apartment lease.  She had to learn working in a huge corporate world - meeting deadlines, finishing projects beyond her control.  As a student her success depended solely on her performance.  But suddenly she had to figure out what to do when success depended on others doing their job.  This was a huge change for someone  who is goal and success- oriented person.

She may not admit it, but there was also a whiplash that came from living in a place that had real winters and rains to a person born and raised in California.  :)  She was alone.  She had to learn, alone.  She had to make new friends.  I too went to a different land in my earlier years but I was not as young as she was.

All these things will probably form one of the biggest change in her life at that age.

For the first 15 months or so, everyday was a day of adjustment or for a more current choice of word - recalculating.  We step into a situation sometimes that involves many unknowns. We have no control on everything and each step we take is not always the best.  No matter how thoroughly we plan our lives, there will always be factors that alter our desired outcome.  Therefore we recalculate.   That is fine - it happens everyday in every life and humans are designed to be experts in recalculating. Shannon is no exception.

There is a Jeep Compass Recalculating TV commercial on television this year which portrays man's life as planned but ever-changing and ever-recalculating journey.  "Whatever your destination there is a million beautiful ever-changing ways to get us there." 

And now...
After two years since she started life-after-college, she seems to have come out of the storm. Things are calm again - not a lot of stirring.  She has shifted her position from playing in the defensive to the offensive.  Thank God she made it through to get to this point in her life.  As long as she keep moving on, change will happen again.  However, having successfully recalculated to this point improves her position and her experience prepares her to be more composed to face the next storm.
God is good, indeed!

No one would have crossed the ocean if he could 
gotten off the ship in the storm.  
Charles Kettering

Sunday, May 21, 2017

207 Completes the Race

Shannon participated in the Capitol View Triathlon and Duathlon today and she completed it satisfactorily!  Since she's a beginner triathlete, she decided to do the Sprint which included a 400-meter swim; 10-mile bike and 3.1-mile run.

The morning was cold with a breeze when we got there - about an hour early just to be able to park somewhere within a reasonable distance from the starting line.  And the lake look intimidating even for someone who was not going to get her feet wet,  As the sun slowly rose, the air warmed up a little but not enough to make a difference in the water temperature.  To some,this is just one of the events that they participate in on a regular basis.  This is their life.  And it is easy to recognize them by their confidence and the gear they wear.   Listening from the conversations of people standing by the shore, I can tell there were many beginners like Shannon.  There is an undisclosed fear of the daunting unfamiliarity and challenge that awaits them.

I must admit that I was nervous.  I am no athlete and thus have no accurate understanding of what this event entails. As soon as my daughter started each leg I waited with hope that I would soon see her at the transition point and finally the finish line. When she walked - along with the rest of the participants - into the frigid Lake Mendota, I walked away from the crowd of spectators and looked up to the heavens for grace on my child.  God was listening.

For a parent sending out a child go out to conquer a certain goal, there is nothing sweeter than seeing that child appear at the last bend before the finish line.  It doesn't matter how deep the mud as long as you get close enough to see them reach the finish line. :)

"I think I'm just stubborn." ~  Shannon after completing the race.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Clarksville Day

Today is history day in this house because we visited Clarksville which opens only one day a year. Clarksville is an old settlement in on Lincoln Highway (now Hwy 50) which happens to be on the now El Dorado Hills.  The school building still remains along with some of the houses including the home of Samuel Kyburz (who, according to some controversial sources, first discovered gold, not James Marshall, in Coloma Valley).   When the gold rush subsided and people realized that there was not enough gold for everyone to live on, some began to venture in agriculture.    Although there is not a lot visible signs of agriculture that remain in the area, remnants of an agrarian past can be found if you look harder.  For example, my husband and I, on our hikes on the undeveloped hills around, found some old troughs which indicate that the area was once used as a pasture.

Miriam, Nick and Griffin had a display at the old school house of Clarksville.  
 Along Hwy 50 just east of El Dorado Hills Town Center,  Clarksville looks nothing more like an old barn but if you get close and learn about the place, it is quite interesting.  One thing I learned today is that the first concrete road in California was built in Clarksville.  In those days cement new concept and so Portland Cement build a section of the Lincoln Hwy to demonstrate the effectiveness of cement as a construction material for roads.  To this day, part of that historic road remains.

The most prominent remaining structure on Clarkville used to be a school house. 

In those days, they would be traveling on dirt road.  :)

Pony Express

Maybe these horses are of better breed than the what the folks had during the Gold Rush.

This would have been a real estate to write home about.

Explosive were probably a legal but not cheap form of entertainment :)

Even this UC Davis Mom was there (notice the hat) :)

And so with this UC Irvine Dad was there. 

 It seems to me that our community is raising awareness to the fact that our place was once upon a time a lively community in a time gone by.  There was a period of when not much was happening but it is again in an era of change and development.  The future generation will see footprints of what is being done now by us who are here and now.  Some of the things they'll will see will be appreciated while some will leave their minds questioning.

History links the present back to the past - maybe for a better tomorrow.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Familiarity is not Mastery

Pink Cymbidium: A Study

Cymbidiums are in bloom in my backyard right now.   They bloom every year - the earlier ones blooming in January and the late varieties are just starting to open now.  When they are in bloom I move them to the patio close to the kitchen window and door so that we can enjoy them throughout their showtime.  In addition to that, I also cut and bring in some of the flowers.  As a matter of fact, a vase sits at arms length from me as I type.  I'm saying this to make a point that I spend a lot of time being close to these flowers.  However when I tried to paint one of them, I found it so much more difficult to portray the features of this remarkable flower than I had imagined.  It bothers me that my paintbrush does not confirm what I think I know.

Because we are familiar with something does not mean we have the mastery to depict or characterize it with accuracy.  It takes a careful study and understanding of a certain subject for an accurate retelling of the way something actually is.  In my pursuit of art, my style tends to lean towards realism which makes it even more frustrating especially in this early stage of my learning. The more I pay attention to my reference the more authentic my painting looks.  The closer my painting looks like my reference, the happier I am and vice versa.  We all like good art like we all like good stories.  After all, art is a form of story-telling using a different language.

 I will digress and bring this truth into my social life.  My relatives, friends and acquaintances from my different social circles are all familiar to me.  I interact with them in varying depths and so I claim with all audacity to know them.  However, in the same way that I cannot easily paint the picture of cymbidium, in spite of basically living with them, I do not have the license to assume I can accurately retell someone's story without first investing effort and time in understanding them.  The older I get the more I believe in the saying - "Little knowledge is a dangerous thing."  Stories made out of meager bits of facts can lead to deception and false representation.

Attentive listening for the sake of understanding - not for the sake of concocting prescription - is like staring at a flower for the sake of accurate portrayal.  There is a true story that lies behind every assumption.  But why is it that as social beings we are content in knowing just one side of the story of people around us?

Familiarity maybe incidental, but mastery is intentional.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Another Milestone

Today, Miriam got the one thing that most junior-high kids desire to have - driver's licence.  It is the status-symbol of freedom, so they say.  Needless to say, she's very excited.   As a matter of fact, she drove her self alone to school tonight for the basketball game - normally, I would have given her a ride.  (Lord God, please keep her safe.)

From our point of view as parents, our youngest child is a driving person now - which means:

1.  We don't always have to be there to bring her to places.  She can go to her music lessons and band practices on her own now.

2.  We can send her to go to the grocery store now.

3.  We will have to share the use of one of the vehicles or Tim and I will have one vehicle now.  It is a good thing that he works from home.

4.  We can watch Doc Martin now without having to pause when it is time for us to pick her up. 😉

 5.  Etc.

Although I am convinced that parenting lasts a lifetime, this event in particular signals the imminent dawn of empty-nesting.  Somehow this thought frightens me a little.  Soon I will have to decide what to do with my life without children at home.  
So help me God.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Twenty Six Years

This year Tim and I reached the 26th year milestone in our marriage.  God has been good to us all these years.  Sure we had our share of trials and tribulations just like any normal couple would but the Lord has not turned his back on us.  And so we celebrated the day with gratitude and contentment. One might wonder how this kind of celebration looks like.  After doing all the trivial way of celebrating this special day, Tim and I sat down unhurried and leaning on each other - we reflected on our life together.  We brought to memory a summarized glimpse of every big chapter of the life we've lived so far.  (As a couple we seem to be good at this.  As matter of fact, during our first anniversary we both wrote to each other a letter - State of the Marriage Letter.)   Surprisingly, the story consistently remained on the theme of  two people in love learning life together.  The times when we acted as if we got it and had nothing to learn were the times when the story was rough.  Surprised?  :) God willing, in the next 26 years we will be the same learning and loving - but more experienced beings in a slower shriveled human form.  We are convinced that God still has to reveal His plans for us in the next chapter.  As we follow His lead, we expect great and exciting things are ahead of us.  So help us God to remain on track.

Twenty six years is a long time but not long enough to be with the person I vowed to spend my life with. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day

When I thought he was running out of ways to surprise me, Tim did it again.  Yesterday, I received a package that contained four dozen roses.  This is not the first time that he bought me 48 roses but because he does not celebrate Valentines day, this was a true surprise.

Valentine's Day might not be very special to him but it is a significant day on my calendar.  It was on this day, some 30 years ago,  when I was convinced that God would show me the man I was to marry.  To make this long and often-told-story short, I saw Tim.  I didn't think his appearance meant anything because I had someone else in mind, but eventually when the story began to unfold, it all made sense.  God showed me how something so improbable happen.  The full version of this story can be retold by any of my children in detail.  😀