Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Lesson of Lost

Now that I have time in hand at home, I thought I will translate Elizabeth Bishop's One Art to Chinese just for fun.  Too bad I can't make it rhyme.


弄通"失去"的藝術並不難
許多的失去都沒什広大不了
每日都會丟了些東西
一會兒掉了門匙.一會兒浪費了一鈡點
有什麼大不了
弄通"失去"的藝術並不難

再練習失去更多更遠吧
什麼地方?什麼名字?那裡曾想去過
這些失去都沒什麼大不了

我曾失去我媽媽的手錶
再看看,我失去過曾鐘爱的二楝房子
弄通"失去"的藝術並不難

我失去了二座可愛的城
失去了讓我覺得曾擁有的兩條大河,一大陸洲
我想念他們
可是這也沒什麼大不了

甚至於失去你(那開心的聲音,柔情的動作)
我用不着説假話
弄通"失去"的藝術並不難
雖然看起來⋯
承認吧!像是個大災難

First Quarter of 2020

The first quarter of 2020 turned out to be quite a roller coaster quarter.  In early January, I flew to Houston to celebrate Lily's big birthday, also to visit some other friends including Terry, (and her husband Simon) Becky, Clara, Helen, her Mom, and Eileen. Unfortunately I only have pictures from some of the gatherings.
With Becky
With Lily:













With Terry and Simon:


The next day I returned from Houston, I closed my Columbia TH.  From Oct to Dec. 2019, I have had a lot of wishful thinking, discussion with my brothers, and various estimation done on renovation, then finally decided to sell my Columbia TH.   So luckily it was sold right away.  At the time I did not know the world will soon be twisted upside down by coronavirus.  What a luck!



In Feb.  I went to Utah to attend Meghan's graduation.  I am glad that I was part of this significant event:


We also did a bit sight seeing:







Then I was hit by the news of Kang's passing away.  She was a dear high school classmate. A wonderful human being, and a well loved and respected professor (as well as the Dean of the School of Engineering at University of FuRen).
What a beautiful soul! What a loss!

In early March, The threat of Coronavirus is growing higher.  I started to make preparations to stock up food and supplies .  One day I went shopping with Lyny and Paul.  We laughed to each other while Paul was pushing the cart in Wegman.  We were still quite light hearted.

Now we are in the second quarter of 2020.  US death toll has climbed to 20,110, and as many as 2000 people die every day.  We pray that the effort to flatten the curve will work, and we pray that the death toll will decline.  Life has changed!









69

At this age, I felt that I have found my peace.  Right now it seems to die is gain and to live is ................


In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, I have been enjoying on-line many operas from the Met, and some delightful shows from the BroadwayHD.  Plus some reading, surfing on the Internet, playing Bridge and climbing stairs, there just does not seem enough time in a day.

Metropolitan Opera watched 3/17 - 4/10/20
La Beheme
II Trovatare
La Fille du Regiment
Manon loved the songs
L'Elisir D'Amore loved the stage and costume design - like country paintings
Das Rhinegold on 3/24/20 - high teck set design
Ann Bolena **** WOW, the audience brought down the house
3/26/20 Die Walkure - Wagner's ring cycle section 2 ----Amazing, learned a bit about brass
3/22/20 Aida
             Eugene Onegin beautiful stage design, Renee the actress is so beautiful with such charming voice
3/23/20 Tristan und Isolde - nice music and singing, quite long.  Set and costume design were contemporary  and grey
3/28 /20 Gotterdammereung
3/29/20 Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg --- delightful comedy by Wagner.  Love the character of Cobbler Sach
3/30/20 Tannhauser
3/30/20 Dialogues des Camelites
4/2/20 Don Carlos
4/3/20 Les Pecheurs de Perles (The pearl fishers) by George Biset, the French composer who's last composition was Carmen before he dies at 36.  Beautiful songs of a story set in the fishing village in Srilenka
4/5/20 Macbeth by Verdi
4/6/20 Norma by Bellini, whose music is tender andfragil according to the singer Juice.  Also a sense of purity according to the meystral
4/7/20 La Fanciulla (girl) of the Golden West by Puccini - delightful plot and beautiful songs
4/8/20 Falstaff by Verdi:  Merry wives of Windsor.  A nice comedy that one can laugh out loud
4/9/20 Parsifal by Wagner's 
4/10/20 Romeo and Juliet, fancy costumes and nice songs

Broadway shows:
3/24/20 Am American in Paris - enjoyable!
3/29/20  Les Miserale
3/31/20 Elaine Stritch at Liberty
4/1/20 Salome, written by Oscar Wild  about the woman who danced for the head of John.  Quite some psychoanalysis.  Played by Al Pochico
4/2/20 Phantom of the Opera 25 years - Very elaborate costume and stage setting.  The actress is so beautiful and expressive. Cried!
4/3/20 Gypsy
4/4/20 She loves me (similar story line as the movie "You Got Mail"






Friday, April 10, 2020

Tour of Scotland, England, and Wales in 2019

Ed and I embarked on an one month (Sep 2 - Oct 4) tour of the Great Britain.  We flew into Glasgow, picked up a rental car, drove (Ed the driver) to Oban first.  Using Oban as a base, we explored the surrounding area mostly via hiking.  Then we moved to Isle of Skye and did some island hopping. The weather in Scotland and Isle of Skye are very similar to Ireland:  "Scattered shower with occasional sun"

 


A nice young couple we met on the trail (Billy and his wife), and we shared a delicious fresh sea food lunch together after the hike.
The field was covered with beautiful heather blooms:
 
Hiking in the rain and visited a garden full of unique rhododendrons
I found a monks dwelling:
On the Staffin Island:

 




Scenery of Isle of Skye:

Cotswolds
We took a train from Glasgow to Stratford-upon-Avon, and joined Ed's Cascadian friends for the planned hiking and biking tour of Cotswolds.
Strtford-upon-Avon, where you can see a memorial for William Shakespeare.

 

Broadway Tower:

 Cheltenham:

Almost like in Kansas:

We got to pick wild blackberries along some trails: They were delicious!


Stopping in pubs for lunch was always delightful after a few hours of hiking:


I almost did the biking, but bailed oout along with Sue and Monica. The three of us rode the luggage van to meet up with the bikes at each destination.

 
 Karen and Donna suited up in the morning to ride in the rain:
While I just stayed and wondered around town:


 Visited a bird farm:
Bourton-on-the-water:
Alan our van driver:
Sue, Monica and I certainly enjoyed the English Tea and scorns:
Wales
Ed and I said good-bye to the Cascadian friends, and headed out to Wales.  Our hiking tour continued.  The weather of all the days except the last day was cloudy or rainy.  I found the folks in Wales are more villagers.  They are more reserved and seem not to go out much to support local restaurants.  As a matter of fact, Ed and I had some hard time finding restaurants to dine in a few places we stayed. But most of the time we hikes and especially enjoyed the trail along the coast.
 A picture of one of the little village:



 Coastal trail:




 The last day we got to see some blue sky:



I am so glad to have taken this tour with Ed, and was reaffirmed that I am blessed by having a brother with such a kind and generous heart.  It made me happy to see him being friendly, kind, and generous to the people we ran into on this tour: Billy and his wife, the Air B&B owners, the people who served us in the restaurants, and to his Cascadian friends.  Hence it was  indeed my pleasure to treat him with a nice sea food dinner and tiramisu for dessert before we head back separately to US.



Wednesday, April 8, 2020

My Brother Dean

We think of Dean a lot these days in the midst of the Coronavirus crisis.  We siblings all have underline health issues and Dean's situation is especially challenging.  Throughout our lives, we siblings do not know how to express our feelings or affections.  We were taught to be disciplined, responsible, proper, study hard, pass all the entrance exams......., but not on how to be affectionate, how to love and be loved, or how to be happy when we grew up.  We had to struggle to learn about ourselves and others, to learn about the meaning of love, and to learn how to be happy.  We have been very lucky the way we turned out.  We care deeply about each other, and we all know about that fact.  Yet we need to learn how to say I love you.

Dean came to visit in 2016, and we took a trip to Annapolis together.  He can always find a good deal, and we end up in this wonderful breakfast place.  The food was delicious and the price was wonderfully cheap.


 

Tour of Peru in 2019

I spent about one month with Hope in Peru from Oct 12 to Nov 13.  We toured Cusco, Machu Pichu, Lake Titikaka, Lima, Huangcayo, and Huaraz.  We entered and exited Peru via Lima, and hence stayed twice in Lima for a total of 7 nights.  The self guided itinerary plus some locally guided tours gave us in depth experience of this interesting country.  We loved to talk to the locals, be that the taxi driver, tour guides, restaurant servers, hotel clerks, shop owners, massage parlor ladies, air B&B owners, train conductor......Using our combined Spanish language skills, and of course often in English, we seemed to be able to connect with many of the friendly Peruvians. It was indeed a rewarding adventure to be savored in my old age.

Lima
The peacock who lived under our rooftop room in Lima.  That hotel which was so cheap, so close to the square (where we took the train to Huangcayo), and gave us so much unexpected pleasant surprise of creatures who lived on the rooftop terrace where we partook our breakfast.
The turtles live on the Terrence:
 The window of our rooftop hotel room in Lima, which overlook the cathedral next door:


The hotel has some interesting old furniture:

The square near our hotel:
When in Lima, we met the taxi driver Mateo, who drove us to the beach front, and toured Chorrillos, Barranco, and a nice beach front restaurant for ceviche.
Mateo, now a Facebook friend of mine:
The statue "kiss" in Chorrillos:
The beach front, and the ceviche restaurant:

Barranco which is a trendy suburb of Lima:

Huaraz
We took a bus from Lima to Huaraz.  We passed a dessert along the pacific ocean toward north
 Also we passed the striking columns:
When in Haraz, we did horse back riding, hiking by a mountain lake, massage, shopping, and visited this cafe we really enjoyed on the second floor overlooking a square.
The cafe we loved:
 The cafe overlooked a nice square, where we saw a number of parades.
 We had lots of mango smoothies
 The street down below our hotel room.  These are the locals apparently are the huge consumers of many cheap products imported from China.
 This woman cooked the guinea pig for our lunch by the road side near the mountain lake.
 We had a lovely hike on a trail along the lake:


The horse back ride was a tough 4 hours in a cloudy day.

Lake Titikaka

The train ride from Cusco to Puno (Lake Titikaka) was most delightful:

 
The scenery we saw along the train ride:
 

We stayed on a floating island on Lake Titikaka:
 Floating on the lake in a reed boat:
The pretty duck outside our room:
We also did some sailing on the lake. Of course we were just passengers. Our hotel owner's father-in-law did the sailing mainly. 
 Cusco and Machu Pichu
The original plan was that both Hope and I will hike the 4 days Machu Pichu trail together.  But I was not breathing well after the first day's hike.  So I bailed out and went down to Ollantaytambo for two nights and took the train to MachuPichu to meet up with her and the rest of the group.  While in Ollantaytombo, I did some hike to see the ruin of an ancient wall.
On the first day of hike, I did get to see "the little Machu Pichu" down in the valley:

The ancient "Wall" on top of the hill:
overlooking the valley below:

 

 Eventually we met up at Machu Pichu.  Quite a credit due to Hope for her persistent and completion of the whole hike!

 The Urabamba river below Machu Pichu.  The train track was built along the river.
Earlier on, while in Cusco getting acclimated with the high altitude, we visited a number of places with local guides, including horse back riding, Maray, Maras and salt mine, Humantay Mountain hike, and Rainbow mountain hike.  The Tipon water irrigation system was a bonus recommended by some travelers we met in the hotel.

 

We also enjoyed in Cusco the Inka massage a lot, especially after a horse back ride, or a hike, or a trip to a farm of alpacas.  The hotel we stayed was a nice colonial style one with a beautiful court yard:


It was unfortunately that the day we were scheduled to hike on the Rainbow Mountain turned out to be of very bad weather.  It was so heard to climb (16,000 ft).  Both Hope and I ended up with riding the horse up.  We only saw snow covered mountain, and with that a very faint tint of green!

 The Humantay Mountain Hike, where one can see the impressive ancient agricultural experimentation station.


Huancayo
The train ride to Huancayo was not most pleasant as it was an old and slow train.  The scenery along the way was not too exciting either.  But I got to see that the mineral mining is indeed the first and most important industry in Peru.  There are a lot of heavy machine mining on the hills, and some hills are colored although not like rainbows. A more unique visit was the "towers" near the city:
We did get to visit a local artist who carves and paints gourdes.