Sunday, February 28, 2010

Renewal of Old

Our house was brand new when we moved in.  Although we've already spent ten years here, the thought of it being new still lingers in my head.  The house has been revealing its true age more and more as the days go on.  Like an aging woman our house has been continually deepening the creases of its age on different parts. 

It seems as though there's always something that needs fixing now.  The only built-in appliance that we have not changed is the oven.  Even then the oven is now unreliable.  It would turn the lights on and off by itself at any undefined time as if a ghost is operating it.  This month alone we changed the disposer, dishwasher and the microwave oven.   The good thing is that we did not only change them but also upgraded.  Old appliances are being replaced in order for the house to be functionable and technologically up to date. 

Well, just like an aging woman, our house is also getting better as the renewal process continues.  :)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lazy Weekend

The sound of rain woke me up thing morning.  The temptation to sleep in was intense as everyone is still quietly tucked in their beds probably defying the call of nature to the bathroom.   It would have been a good way to start a Saturday morning but the annoying throb of a headache succeeded in keeping me out of the bed. 

I thought that a cup of water would cure the headache and a cup of coffee to warm me up.  I watched the rain as I stirred my coffee and it seems as though the sounds made by the spoon hitting the cup drew Tim to follow me downstairs.  Before long the sounds of the shower announced the procession of my kids for breakfast.  Confused by the combination of smells in the air (cinnamon rolls, garlic fried rice and polish kielbasa), they required no prodding to get up. 

Tim and I drove to Sacramento through the rain to attend a Cymbidium show.  We saw great orchids and got to judge the orchids.  He had no problem choosing which one s he liked best, unlike me.   From the show we proceeded to the Asian Food Store.   Shannon, on the phone, asked us to buy fried fish, which we did.  We got home; everyone enjoyed lunch except for Tim who ate cereal.   As much as he denies it, I think he still does not like to see fried fish with the head on. 

Miriam asked if she could work for money.  There's a book that really wants to have.  We paid Brahms to teach her to prepare Tim's expense report.  This is her first time.  Her siblings have been making money doing this job for a long time but now it's her turn to learn to do the same.   What a great job!  Training is provided free by her employer. 

Now I am alone in the house.  With Shannon driving (Tim is the car), they all went to the book store.   I was left with a job to see what happens in the food competition that they started watching on Food TV.  The problem is - it is boring and I don't really want to watch TV.  I prefer blogging.

Most Saturdays are spent doing a lot of work that have been waiting to be done.  This day is different since we did not have a plan.  Sometimes having no plan is good.  It provides an opportunity to be spontaneous.  Spontaneity provides depth to experience without the weight of preparation.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Power in Weakness

Her sun-shiny morning attitude was subdued by stuffy nose and sore throat.  She had to stay home to get some rest and gather her strength.   I'm sure that Mr. N is glad not to have a vector sitting in his class. 

Sick days are happy days in this family.   If you are sick you get special privileges.  For example, reading the comics normally comes at the end of a long list of things: breakfast, devotions, chores and then comics - but not when you are sick.  Miriam, played unlimited hours of computer and PS3; normally she gets thirty minutes of screen-time a day after the required game of chess with a sibling.  

She was sick enough to stay home and yet well enough to climb trees.  I enjoyed working in the garden with her today.  She'd come to me and complain about her nose; I'd stop and sit with her on a bench and cuddle a little bit then she'd go around again.   

When Brahms came back from school his first question was "Did you stay home today?"  Shannon who came home an hour later asked the same question.  At first I didn't attach any meaning to their query other than probably concern for Miriam.  Eventually, however, the truth came out.  They know the "power" that comes with being sick and they were poised to take advantage of the situation by influencing Miriam's choices. 

"Mommy, can we have In-N-Out for dinner?"  "Ask Daddy."  "He said to ask you."  

We don't want our kids to get sick but we try hard to make sure that they enjoy being sick. 

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I was still in bed when Tim left...Men's breakfast was being served at church.  He said, "I'll come back at 9:30 with donuts for you."  So I slept in and when I was all showered and ready to go make coffee, I saw his glasses sitting on his night stand.  Tried to call him but his cell phone was here being recharged.  Then I began to worry.   He tells me he is blind and I've not seem him drive without his glasses on.  The church is near our place but the Heavenly Donuts, our favorite donut place, is two exits away on I-50.  I grabbed my purse and his glasses and headed to the church.  Maybe I could still catch him there.  I saw some of the other guys just leaving and ask Joseph Warrior if Tim is still there.  "He's there!" he said pointing to the building.  Relief came over me and then I drove around the parking lot hoping to park next to his truck.  There was no need to go disrupt him from socializing; I would wait till he's ready to leave. 

There were probably thirty five vehicles parked around the church that morning.  His truck was nowhere to be seen. Once more, I went around the parking lot.  My heart sank as I still could not see the white Ford truck.  I looked at El Dorado Hills Boulevard and prayed.  I went back home hoping that he was there ahead of me to get his glasses.  He was not there.  "Oh no!  He's going to run into all the other cars or he's going to fall off the cliff and he'll die!"

At this point I was very worried.  I began to blame my children for wanting to have Heavenly Donuts instead of the ones we can get from the grocery store.  He would have been safer, I thought.  Pray for your father, I told them.  Everyone was very quiet.  I looked out but I only saw other cars passing by.  I looked out again.   Then I went out and stood there hoping to see him soon. 

As I stood there, thoughts began to run through my head.  What if he died?  What am I to do?   Oh no!  My kids won't be able to go to college.   Oh yes!  We will go to the Philippines.  We'll sell our house (if somebody wants to buy it), and we will buy a house in the Philippines.  My children can attend good universities there.  Questions and answers were darting back and forth in my head and as if they were contained there by a tight frown on my face.   Then I saw this white thing drive towards the driveway.  It was Tim... And he is alive. 

I made my coffee.  My kids and I ate donuts happily, mine was an apple fritter.  Tim felt very important to have caused all that consternation.  :)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Close Look At My Children

Change and growth describe the events that are constantly happening with my three children.   Every time I take a close look at their faces when we kiss each other goodnight or when I watch them walk away to the bus stop every morning I see something new and different.   When we sit at the table for dinner or when I sit across from anyone of them in the living room as we discuss about what they read from their devotional book, it seems as though something had happened since the last time.  One child is now wittier, or slightly taller.   Another child now bends down to look at the top of my head; although not-quite-a-mustache yet but now with a prominent-fuzzy line.  Still another one is turning into a little grown-up girl, taking responsibility in a slightly more mature way. 

Indeed they are changing and following the path to maturity and isn't that what every parent wishes to see happen?  Yet it is interesting to see that there remains about each kid that distinguishes them from each other.  The growing and changing cannot hide the inherent nature of their personalities.

Only God knows what goes on in her mind but she keeps quiet and observes.  Shannon is cautious and always abiding to set rules.  We call her the Rule Police.  We have a picture of her and Brahms watching the TV-show "Little Bear" with a finger on her lips shushing her brother.  When her brother would be doing something different, her response would be "Did you ask Mommy and Daddy?"  She understands the price of following rules yet finds it freedom and pride in having resisted something for the sake of obedience to rules. 

She's always curious and yet very disciplined.  As she grows up, may she always choose God as the subject of her curiosity and obedience.

Brahms is a guy who would not miss any opportunity to experience something that's presented to him.  I remember a time we were in England and visiting Warwick Castle, he was nine years old then.  The resident jester was entertaining the visitors when he asked for a volunteer from the crowd.   He raised his hands voluntarily and helped the Jester do his tricks.    

Always doing something, he accepts challenges presented to him.   He has memorized the periodic table in order and he can name all the US presidents in the right order.  Sometimes he struggles during the process but to him the joy of having experienced it is a reward in itself.  God help him to choose wisely.

To Miriam, finding something in nature and being able to use it is more fun than buying something from a gift shop.  It does not matter where we are she would always manage to find a flower to give me.  In her album is a pressed and preserved flower which she picked for me in Istanbul when our family visited Turkey. 

She also has a desiccated pipe fish she picked on the coast of Dunbar in Scotland, which she brings out from time to time to her sister's disgust.  She is resourceful and likes to leave a mark where she's been.   When she grows up God help her to use her resourcefulness to help others.

To me they still are children...God's gifts to me. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reminders of My Mother

It is very rare to see an orchid in my garden but today I saw this flower from an old forgotten Cymbidium orchid.  I took the plant into a brighter place and took this picture.  It turned out really good.  

I have a natural attraction to orchids; one might presume that it is because of their irresistible and intricate flowers or because of the mystery in the way they grow (me being a horticulturist).  Yet, the reason is simple...they remind me of my late mother.

My mother was a gardener.  She planted trees, vegetables and ornamentals but the one thing that brought her pleasure were her orchids.  I remember watching my mother stick orchid plantlets into the bark of an old tree on the eastern side of the house or tying them around the trunk of the betel nut  trees around the yard.  She started them from very small plantlets and no matter how hopeless the plantlets looked, once my mother put her hands on them they would end up producing a profusion of beautiful flowers.  She even propagated orchids to give to those who admired her orchids. 

I've tried many times, during the last nineteen years that I've lived in California, to grow orchids and this is the first time that an orchid produced a new flower in my garden.  When I saw these soft pink flowers, my heart leaped...the sight brought back fond memories of my dear mother.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spring Festival

Others say it's Chinese New Year but in my house it is called Spring Festival.  We are neither Chinese citizens nor scholars of Chinese culture...but we have a reliable connection to China.  

Last year, Meng Wang became a part of our family when she was here as an exchange student.  We maintain communication with her even now.  In fact, today we received a package from her.  It was like a care package with a theme: Spring Festival.  One of the things she sent is the Chinese knot which now hangs brightly on our door.  There was a bag of Beijing specialties (a variety of goodies) which we have been enjoying.  She tells us that Spring Festival is very important to Chinese, just like our Christmas.  And just like the way pay extra postage to make sure that our presents arrive to their destination before Christmas Eve, Meng also made sure we had the ornaments, food and games during this week.  

Assorted Goodies: Beijing Style

Somehow I'm feeling homesick for Meng.  We had a good Spring Festival celebration with her last year.  We ate a lot of dumplings and played games of 'Higher and Higher.'   If God wills, we will see each other again. 

Happy Spring Festival Everyone! 

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Book Signing

Today the kids got their own copy of the book "Harnessing the UEFI Shell" signed by Tim Lewis.  They might actually read the book now that it becomes part of their personal library.  There remains a chance that they might develop interest in what their father does and loves to do - programming.  

If anyone else wants a signed-copy of the book just let me know.  :) 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Coast Trip - San Luis Obispo

Looking Ahead

One of our destinations during our trip last February was Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.  Being in her third year of HS, Shannon is now looking at colleges and universities wondering and dreaming about her next school.   She must receive at least two mails per day from schools throughout the country...but we figured that she can learn more about them by actually going to the campuses.  Whenever we have an opportunity we bring her to one and let her wonder around to learn whatever she can about colleges and universities.   She feels intimidated (normal for HS students) to go around but someday she'll overcome her insecurities. 

The future holds a bag of unknowns.  It takes courage to walk into it.  The good thing is every step that we take into the future reveals a little bit about it.  Only when we refuse to move forward that the hidden remains.

Looking Back

For Miriam, who is now studying about the California missions, we also stopped at the one in San Luis Obispo.  This mission is smaller than some of the ones we've seen so far but it is still an active parish church.  According to a literature that we got there, the museum is very well-kept compared to the rest of the missions in California.  There's a creek that runs behind the building where visitors can stroll near the water.  A bridge over the water leads to a shopping center behind.

Museums always trigger my imagination to go back in time.  How was life back then?  The tenacity of the pioneers inspires all of us to move forward.  They lived very challenging lives but they left interesting marks that we can appreciate and enjoy. 

Just Looking

The Lewis family spends so much time just looking... :)

Nineteen Years

Valentines Flowers from Tim

Nineteen Years
by Helen Lewis

He uses flowers to express his delight for me...and that's romantic. 
But nineteen years of buying me flowers is a very long time I think. 
He says, You deserve it...and I love to make you smile.
But nineteen years of giving me flowers is still a very long time.
It doesn't matter nineteen years or forever more
As long as I still can drive to the store I will buy you more.
I still say nineteen years is a very very long time.
When I'm old and can't drive anymore,
As long as I can "click" - flowers will still come to your door.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Coast Trip - Cambria

Cambria is a town of six thousand people, located at about five minutes south of San Simeon where we stayed.  We drove to Cambria a couple of times for several reasons like gas, coffee, headache medicine and breakfast.  We found out that there is one gas station in Cambria which opens at eight in the morning.  Gas is very expensive in Cambria.  There are no Starbucks coffee shops but they have an "espresso" place.   There are no fast food restaurants there but there is a restaurant called Pine Tree Cafe where where pancakes are the size of frisbees.

One time we picked up a hitch-hiker named Buttercup.  We picked her up as she was walking with a huge bag of wet clothes.  She said she's on her way to Paso Robles to dry her clothes at the Laundromat.   She was camping the night before due to the strong rain all her clothes got soaked.  Buttercup dreams of coming to Folsom.  If we had gone home that day, she would be by now a new transient-resident of Folsom.  She said that she is the process of straightening her path in life.  When we got to Cambria she got off, said thank you and remarked on how polite our children were.

I took pictures of some of the buildings but they don't seem to represent the overall look of the town.  These buildings were all built against a hill and facing the ocean.  The grey-house is one that I saw behind the Pine Tree Cafe where we had breakfast one morning.  It seemed as though they built it without doing any grading at all.  Cambria is a nice little place along the coast.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Coast Trip - Wonders of the Beach

We got to see elephant seals from a three-foot distance.  (The Coast Guard had his eyes stuck on us just in case we decide to touch it.)  They are amazing creatures.  They're huge and yet they've learned to take advantage of the violent force of the waves to advance themselves to the shore.  They'd stop and rest until the next wave comes and avoided to push forward on their own.   They know where their help comes from.

Sea weeds swept into the shore make a beautiful decoration to the otherwise monotonous sand.  They provided a destination for curious eyes.

In between the rocks Miriam found a lot of sea anemones sheltered in rock crevices waiting for live food to fall into their big gaping mouths.  The small shells scattered around were homes for the most active hermit crabs that roamed on the intermittent shallow ponds created by waves.

We came to a part of the shore where there were so many seals basking in the sun.  Watching them provided so much entertainment for our family as we stood on the rocks.  There was even a time when we were surprised to see one of them suddenly pop out from the water right next to Brahms' feet.

There is so much to appreciate and absorb near the ocean.  One of the most impressive of them all is the rock formation.  With a little bit of geology in my past studies, I tend to focus a lot on the appearances of rocks as they tell great stories about their past.  Rocks as we see them didn't always start as such.  They continually undergo a constant change as inflicted by the changing environment which results in beauty that is very specific to every piece of rock.  There are no two rocks that are exactly alike by nature.

Beautiful and calm, the sea shore is like a bustling city of many creatures.  As much as it is the source of their livelihood, danger lurks in the small dark corners of the place.  Sometimes a crab walks into this anemone and finds out too late that he had just moved from a free crab to a feed-crab.  But even as a predator, the anemone can become a prey when a girl called Miriam will pokes it with a stick. 

Birds of different kinds fly in different heights and land on different parts of the shore.  They are all in search of a different type of food.  God made all creatures big and small to live on this world.  There is a system that He put in place since the beginning of everything: each life regardless of size is meant to give so that others will live.

Everything that is in this world, God created them all...and saw that it was good.

Coast Trip: Hearst Castle

February is our wedding anniversary month.  Whenever we can, we'd go to a place we've never seen before or to a place that we know and like.  This time we went to the San Simeon where the famous Hearst Castle is located. 

Hearst Castle is very big and it would take five tours for a guest to see and appreciate all the things that they want to show.  We took Tour #2 which features the bedrooms, kitchen, offices, etc.   We thought that if we were still interested to see some more that we would take another one.  It turned out that we were quite content with one tour.  The tour started with an outdoor swimming pool called the Neptune.  To me, it looked like something that would have been seen in ancient Greece (never mind that I have not been to Greece) where the mythological gods strolled around in their white robes.  Then we were led to go into the world class castle and saw where Mr. William Randolph Hearst himself and his wife slept.  The tour ended with yet another pool, the Roman Pool, this time it is built indoor.  The special thing about this pool was that the tiles that were used to create the design on the flooring were glass tiles which have been individually laid with gold leaf within.  The effect created the impression that they are gold tiles.  A true picture of opulence.

After an almost two-hour of staring at things that one rich man and his interior decorator decided to put in the different rooms, things began to look boring.  After seeing so many of them, the beds, no matter how ornate and costly they were, began to look common.   The most striking feature of the house for me is the different ceilings in the different room.  Every room had a different ceiling.  Those ceilings were not made for the castle but instead they have been parts of other old buildings somewhere in this world- who knows where- and purchased at auctions and brought up to this isolated hill and installed in a room in the castle.  Imagine that. 

Mr. Hearst had a lot of money.  He used his money in the things that he thought would make him happy or significant.  Most of us do not have that kind of money (maybe Bill Gates does) but we can find happiness and significance by using our God-given resource which is love. 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dental Appointments

The other day as I sat flipping through magazines at the dental office while Shannon was being see I began to explain the reason for my being there.  Since the beginning of this year I have driven to that office once or twice a week.  If it was not for me it was for one of my kids.  Why do we have to go there very often?  There seem to be no toothache that prevented anyone from sleeping.  As if we're driven like slaves; they tell us when to go there and we go.  How did all this happen?  Then I figured out that this started with just one visit. 

First there was a need to see a dentist.  I looked for one who is preferred by my insurance and then a relationship with that office began.  With some amount of trust and a hint of skepticism I went for the first time.  I left the office that day with an appointment card in my hand.  The date on that card eventually translated into an event on the calendar.  Other things that came up had to give way to this appointment.  A guest teaching job from the El Dorado County Department of Education had to be turned down because of that date.  I cannot go out with my friend for coffee on that time and date. Sometimes I missed bible study because of this appointment.   Everything had to go around it.   Once it acquired a place in the calendar it became irrevocable. 

Having said sorry for everything else that called my time and attention, I went for that dentist visit again...Then I came home with another appointment card that will change the face of my calendar once more.  The same things will happen again.  It has become a cycle that goes on and on.

It all started with that one visit...suddenly an undefined covenant that says, report to me with your insurance card and I will keep your teeth in ship shape, has been established.   Still, I can't help but feel like a slave to those appointments.  :)

How about you?