Tag Archives: People

Operation Tutu

operation_tutuJust had to share a very fun adventure with friends… Inspired by the Tutu Project that supports cancer patients on chemo, on a rainy day in June, a bunch of my friends got together at Bradley Lake in Puyallup in tutus. I was the lucky one chosen to capture it all on film. You can find at more about our ‘Operation Tutu’ on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/OperationTutu/.

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Wuxi – Lingshan Buddhist Scenic Area

lingshandafoAs most of you know, Mike received his license last year and has been driving around town for months now. All the driving has developed a large amount of courage in his ability to drive beyond Suzhou. Already having drove to a nearby city of Changshu, Mike was ready to travel farther.

I had found an article in an Expat magazine about a Buddhist-styled theme park north in Wuxi. Since it touts as having one of the tallest Sakyamunis in the world, we just had to go. Located in the Maji Mountain area, the park was nicely thoughtout with the tallest mountain behind the Grand Buddha, hills on the side with the view of Lake Tai (where the gardens in Suzhou attained their rocks-you have seen them in past garden posts). The Buddha was erected near the 1000 year old temple of Xiangfu, where many come during the Spring Festival to hear its bell rings for luck in the following year. The Buddha (Da Fo) is made of tin and copper and weighs over 700 tons. Standing over 100 feet taller than our own Statue of Liberty, this Buddha leaves an impression. On its left hand is the symbol called “Shi Wu Wei” with its intent to reduce suffering in the world, the right hand has the “Yu Yuan” symbol for happiness and the chest has the ancient symbol of solemnity and virtue.

Interestingly, this place was built by Japanese investors in 1997. In the recent years, the overdone, elaborate palace was built. We were in shock as we cruised through it. It was way beyond anything enlightened, i.e. humble, mild and meek. It was over-the-top; beautiful & tacky. We spent most of the day here. Mike only took one wrong turn, that paid off for us… we found all the strawberry farmers. They were super sweet and juicy. We ate one large bowl on the way there and purchased three more on the way home. Yummy!

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Guangxi Province – Bicycling

guangxi_bicyclingToday was the reason why we were even here on vacation. It’s QingMing or better known as Tomb Sweeping Holiday to the English speaking world. It’s a time to remember ancestors and pay homage to them by burning offerings of material items, such as cars, houses, servants, etc.-all are miniture paper items, cleaning their gravesite by removing foliage and burning incense, light fireworks to scare the evil away and offering of food and eating it at the site. It’s a happy occasion. On this day, we past many people celebrating with their departed. It was a neat experience. It was sad to see the few sites here and there that did not get any love for the day. We suppose either all have passed or more than likely those still alive have moved away to the cities for work.

Yesterday, in the Yulong River Valley, wasn’t enough for us. We had to find another way to spend more time there. The morning time we took it easy and played a couple of hours of badminton. We had brought our sets with us. Sissy joined us and we had a great time. Sissy and I did our most to best Mike. It was so fun.  After lunch, Zachary and Nathan were convinced they would do well on a tether bike – two seater. So we borrowed one of the renters and they practiced a bit on the road way. It took them about five tries to get it figured out. They are not as easy as they look. Zachary had to be the driver and Nathan the backseat driver to make it work. After that, they convinced us to go for another ride toward the Yulong River. Zachary and Nathan on a two-seater and the rest of us on our own. Mike remembered there was a way across the Yulong River that connected with a road on the other side. The route would be a big loop; taking us from our hotel, along the river, across the river, through a few valleys, into Longtan, back to the main road and to the hotel. Not knowing for sure how to do it, made it our priority to figure out. Here is some video of the craziness on the roadway that was along the Yulong River…

We bike far enough up the river, we ended up at the place we had started rafting from yesterday. Mike did a bit of mapping and determined we missed our crossing a bit down the road. So we retraced some of our trip to a so called bridge… ya right… whatever, Mike! We took our bike halfway across the river on this little concrete ledge and realized the water was too deep for us to cross by ourselves. Mike was so determined to get across he just stood there scanning the horizon for potential routes. Soon a gal on the otherside waved at us and pointed to her raft. Mike motioned yes and that was all it took. This lady took a pathetic bamboo raft from her side and in two trips got us and our bikes on the otherside. What a riot! The raft was three quarters underwater with all the weight and it was not sturdy at all. I was nervous to say the least. It is not like I have the best balance in the world. But the kids and Mike were all for it. Lots of fun.

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Guangxi Province – Longtan Village

Yesterday was a nice day, but today was fabulous! Hardly any haze out and the sky was so blue. Here was what our breakfast table looked like…

Watching the video gets us all wishing to return. We just loved it there. Zachary was up for another walk today, after yesterday’s awe-inspiring views, we attained a new route from Luna. She suggested we head down the road to a village called Longtan. Most of its buildings are over 1500 years old. Then head back to the hotel cross country. Mike was all over that idea. Cross country, yes! So this time, we had the hotel make us some sandwiches and we filled up our camelbak with new water. (Hey, we found adding one drop of consumable peppermint oil in 1.5 liters of water makes for refreshing water along a warm walk. Try it! I also takes away the plastic flavor that the camelbak bags produce.)

Shortly after leaving the hotel, on the main road, we found all kinds of ladies trying to help everyone out. They were located in front of the entrance to the Moon Hill; a very famous location to visit. We smiled and said hello. Little did we know we would pick up a guide out of the group. A sweet, older lady decided she would walk her bike with us as we hiked to Longtan. Mike was hot! He did not want another demanding guide, like the one we had on Mount Emei or in Xi’an. He tried several times to get her to leave. But nope, she held tight. She kept trying to teach us all a little mandarin and would tell us about the sites. She was funny and she finally worked him over with her good-natured personality. Frankly, after it was all said and done, she was a delight! If we did not have her, we never would have known what we were looking at, nor would we have gone as far into village as she took us. We never got her name, but the kids did pose with her in a picture, which is in the photos. Once we got out of town and found our path to take cross country, we gave her a hug each and a gift of 100RMB. She was tickled.

Our cross country adventure require a river crossing. The water was warm and a nice change of pace. Close to our hotel, we came upon a ghost town. At least, that is what it felt like. We asked later what it was and found they are trying to construct a fancy hotel. Oh my, do they have a lot of work ahead of themselves. It ought to be neat once it is done. Not quite as many photos as yesterday’s, but a fair amount still.

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GPA and GMA’s Service at Tahoma National Cemetery

Out of the sorrow from the losses of my GMA in 2007 and my GPA just recently on February 9, 2012, my Mom, kids and I were part of an astonishing military service for my GPA and GMA today at the Tahoma National Cemetery. It was planned to have their ashes interred at the Cemetery and no service.

My sons, Nathan & Zachary, were deeply moved by the idea of GPA having a service with the guns, flag, etc. So my Mom quickly arranged with the Cemetery to have a service giving the boys the honors of the flag. We figured it would be something little. Oh my, how we were wrong. It was so much more… (Excuse me, while I have to catch my breath and wipe a tear.) The Air Force Honor Guard was present and the American Legion, with about 10 veterans, were in attendance. GPA received a five gun, three shots each, salute with two horns in the background playing Taps. It was so moving…

Here was something that was read in the service I just loved:

  • “Tahoma” is the Puget Sound Native-American Name for Mt Rainier, the namesake of these hallowed grounds. Therefore, we feel it is entirely appropriate to offer the uplifting memorial on death.
  • Do not stand at my grave and weep
  • I am not here. I do not sleep.
  • I am the thousand winds that blow;
  • I am the diamond glints on the snow.
  • I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
  • I am the gentle autumn rain.
  • When you awake in the morning’s hush,
  • I am the swift uplifting rush
  • of quiet birds in circled flight.
  • I am the soft star that shines at night.
  • Do not stand at my grave and cry;
  • I am not here….. I did not die.
  • ~Mary Elizabeth Fry (1932)~

I was so lucky because my friend, Beth, came and took pictures of the service. I really just wanted a photo of the boys receiving the flag, but she did so much more. Thanks, Beth!

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