Van Gogh Alive

This art event titled “Van Gogh Alive” indeed proved to be a very cool way to experience Van Gogh. Placing yourself in the exhibit hall, you’d be surrounded by a slide show of larger than life sized images superimposed on the walls and you’d see perhaps the largest number of images of his work.

Van Gogh has such an intense and remarkable way with paintings, the vibrant colors and the intense emotions of these paintings just draw you in and make you stare and stare at them…

Struggled with and tormented by such a debilitating illness during his short 10 years as an artists, he was still so brilliant and amazingly prolific… You can’t help wonder, what if he had more time, what if he didn’t have to suffer what he did?

Kathleen and I got to play with the interactive screen, trying to create our own master pieces. How did we do? :o>

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Water Dragon for 2012

Chinese Astrology, based on traditional astronomy and calendar (a Luni-solar calendar) and closely related to Chinese traditional philosophy (Yin and Yang), is very complex. I won’t pretend that I know all about Wu Xing teachings, Heavenly Stems, Earthly Branches, Lunar years, Solar months, Equinoxes and Solstices and shall just jump to say that it is a Yang Water Dragon year.

Individual’s prediction for the year, based on birthday, birth season and hours is, again, complex. General forecast I’ve read is positive with a caveat. It is water but since it is Yang Water, the scale of Yin and Yang might incline to tilt towards the Yang end. Chinese psychology comes into full play here. A believer or not, be mindful and apply the art of moderation/balancing to all aspect of your life. I think moderation is common sense and middle of the road is the way to achieve peace and harmony.

If anyone is turning 60 between Jan 23, 2012 and Feb 8, 2013, know that this is a special year for you in particular. The 60 year cycle of Chinese calendar means this is the year when your zodiac sign and element (Metal, Water, Wood, Fire or Earth) are united.

In addition, I’d like to share with you a Chinese custom. If this is your year, wear something red at all time as talisman and/or lucky charm. It can be anything from red undies, clothes to ruby ring, etc. It is unclear how this practice has come about but it goes long way back. Nowadays it is believed to be more commerce than science, if any at all. But if you like, be creative and have fun.

Happy Year of Dragon – red bags and cards!

The dragon ladies

Time for a red bag

Kids busy at video games

Thank you for coming to Yvonne and Jay’s Chinese New Year celebration!

Hope floats

“Libya declares cease fire after UN vote”. My heart leaped with joy at the headline. Is it really the end to the most violent clash of the multitudes of Middle East uprising? It would be most welcoming after such a long bloody battle between the rebels and the brutal Gadhafi regime. And the world really needs some good news amidst Japan’s battle against natural disaster.

Since Tunisian revolt that ousted their President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in mid Jan. and brought about his flight to Saudi Arabia, the world has gone through tidal waves of events. Following the success of Tunisian revolt, a series of demonstrations and clashes broke out through Middle East, in Yemen in Algeria, in Egypt, in Jordan, in Syria, in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, in Iran, Bahrain and Libya. And as Gadhafi’s force advancing and cornering the rebel forces, Japan was hit by monstrous 9.0 magnitudes of earthquake and tsunami which caused hellish nuclear crisis that has hindered the so desperately needed recovery and rebuilding.

As I watched the events unfold, I rode an emotional roller coaster along the way. I was touched by people of the Middle East standing up and demanding rights, dignity and democracy, fundamental human rights that they had been deprived of for too long. There is oppression, there is revolt. In the meantime, the seeds of democracy are finally talking roots. I was heartened by their courage and bravery. I was inspired by their wisdom and intelligence, staging peaceful demonstration in large and using internet and technology to facility their movements. I hailed Egyptian military for not yielding to Mubarak regime and not taking part in slaughtering protesters. I was saddened by news of casualty and I cursed those essentially medieval regimes that abused powers and cracked down its own people. I was encouraged by the success of Egyptian revolution but depressed by Gadhafi’s madness and ruthlessness.

As the international community debated on the Libyan crisis, nature dealt Japan in the other part of the world a horrible blow. The devastation is heartbreaking. And yet the stoicism and orderly conduct Japanese have exhibited is uplifting.

Maybe, human decency will prevail after all. Dynamic and momentum of the Middle East movements are indelible. As usual, champions of democracy of the developed world such as France, Britain and US led the way, others of the international community including Arabian members lent their support and UN voted. The way ahead is yet long but once the spirits are awaken, they will not be put back to sleep.

Welcome the Year of Rabbit

Chinese New Year 2011 started on Feb 3rd for the Year of Rabbit. Soothsaying for the year ahead abounds. In general the peaceful and auspicious potential of a Rabbit Year is welcomed and it is up to us to tap into its rich potential and bring about harmony and prosperity. Among the festivities, our annual Chinese New Year celebration continued to its 6th year and heralded in the New Year with a positive bash. The grand prize from this year’s red-bag drawing, a cloisonné vase, goes to Robby or rather his grandma Cathy. We wish everyone a healthy, wealthy, peaceful and successful year!

Wish you an auspicious new year!

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A White Christmas

Snow started falling blithely on Christmas Eve, 2010, and it just kept going and going… More than 16 hours later, it completely transformed our surrounding and it made my first white Christmas at home.

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Promisingly a True Fairytale

Royal romance has always captured the public’s imaginations and there is little wonder that the announcement of Britain’s Prince William’s engagement to his long time girl friend Kate Middleton would send both sides of Atlantic all abuzz. He, a handsome, rich and philanthropic prince who will be the king one day, she, a glamorous, proper and amiable commoner who is extraordinary nonetheless in her own right, it fits the bill perfectly.

Gullible to a good romance, I find myself sucked into this one.

Williams and Kate’s love story is touching and captivating for the legacy of Princess Diana, who inspired and fascinated the world, was infused into it when William gave his betrothed his mother’s engagement ring, which was imaginably Princess Diana’s design.

And it dredges up memories from eons. News of Princess Diana’s engagement and wedding thirty years ago was not something that could be seen on any part of China’s media. Being in Guangzhou however, my teenage girl friends and I had access to whatever newspapers and magazines brought in by friends and relatives from Hong Kong and/or Macau. We were completely taken in by a dreamy fairytale playing out in reality and engrossed ourselves with every photo and piece of report we got hold of.

Williams and Kate’s story is also lifting for the course of their modern time courtship, which was over eight-years long, displayed on William’s part wisdom and intent to avoid his parent’s tragedy and on Ms. Middleton quality of independence as well as devotion and patience, thereby the promise of a true happily-ever-after fairytale in the making. They are the future faces of Britain’s King and Queen and are welcomed, very welcomed.

Credit is due to Ms. Middleton’s parents, ambitious entrepreneurs who elevated themselves into millionairedom and made the right investment for their daughter; also to the royal family for learning to let true love run its own course.

Bring in the New Year

This year Chinese Lunar calendar aligned first day of New Year (Year of Tiger) with Valentine’s Day (of Georgian solar calendar). It is a rarity. Significance of the year however varies, according to Chinese Astrology, as it depends upon one’s animal sign, natural element, dominant element, yin and yang, and companion in life, where the first four are determined by birth year, month, day and the 5th element is determined by time of birth. Throw western astrology into the mix, the reading can get overwhelmingly complicated. But as with Fengshui principles, I take the practical approach, let common sense, and convenience, rule. The goal, after all, is to try to enhance life with the knowledge not to encumber it, and there is always some enhancement or remedy to be found for every situation.

As usual, I celebrated Chinese New Year with enthusiasm and the New Year was received in a busy secession of festive events: attending the annual celebration by local Chinese Association, cooking an elaborate New Year’s Eve dinner in Cantonese Style for my family, joining friends for pot lucks, having Dim Sum while watching Dragon Dance and Lion Dance and to top it all, having annual Chinese New Year bash at our house.

Dragon Dancing at Dim Sum

Lions Dancing at Dim Sum

Party at our house

Snacks included red watermelon seeds, crispy cookies(fried dumplings with crushed peanuts and sugar ), candies and tangerines.

Dishes were arranged all over the kitchen counters. On the center island were Cantonese BBQ, General’s Chicken, Chinese sausage, Spicy fish with bamboo shoots, fried noodles, Golden Tofu, Eight-Treasure Veggie Plate, assorted pickles.

Crescent and Fan shape cookies decorated with Chinese character “福”(Happiness)made by Betty wowed the party.

My husband Jay(left), his friend Mike and Jane(Mike’s daughter)

Les, Betty and Jane

In the dinning room

More tables set up in sitting area on the east wing

The teen table

Diane, me, Caroline and Judy

Time for party favor: Every one picked a red bag with ticket inside indicating what the surprise favor was to be. Betty got the top prize this year: a Cloisonné vase. Here, I was explaining to Caroline about the jade ornament she got: a 八卦 图(Bagua Map).