Cereus Cactus

I inherited this beautiful plant from previous owner of the house we purchased.  It did not bloom for several years.  I repotted and fertilized in  the hope it will bloom.

Pure white flowers the size of a dinner plate open as soon as the sun go down and stay open all night, then it close in the morning.  My Epiphylum Oxypetalum in Latin or night blooming cereus will give an intoxicating fragrance that permeate the room where the flower is.

It blooms in waves during the summer months with sometimes as many as 15 flower at once.  a magnificent creation by nature leaves us in awe by this elegant Cereus.  A member of orchid cactus family, it needs period of dryness and cool time temperature in the winter to ensure summer bloom.  It is indeed a gorgeous flower.

 

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Ayuthaya The Lost City of Siam …

Headless Buddhas, fallen arches, ruins of redbrick walls and scattered carved stone pieces… This is what you find when visiting the ancient city of Ayuthaya, the once glittering capital of the kingdom of Siam, located 80 km north of Bangkok. Built along the Chao Praya river, Ayuthaya is renowned for its magnificent palaces and temples. It enjoyed peace and prosperity until the arrival of the Burmese who ransacked burning and looting that even after it was recaptured by the Thais, it was never the same again. The capital was then moved to Bangkok. One can imagine, walking through maze of ruins how the city could have looked like in its heyday. And I did just that …. while scouring through the ruins I can picture the great pillared halls of the King’s palace decorated with exquisite gold wall paintings surrounded by elegantly carved Buddhist statues and lanes of golden pagodas shimmering against the sun rays … Today only remnants of a bygone era still stand as silent witnesses to a former glory of what was once a fabulous city of the East. Ayuthaya was prosperous and wealthy. It traded with its Asian neighbors as well as the West with strong commercial and diplomatic links to that of Louis XIV of France, Spain, The Netherlands and Portugal. Although most of the city lies in ruin, some well preserved monuments are to be found on the western side of the archaeological garden which include the 14th century temple of Wat Mahathat, Thailand’s oldest.

 

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Among the remnants of redbrick walls is the serene Buddha head now embedded in the twisted roots of an ageless Banyan tree. Undoubtedly still cherished by locals, as it is given regular offerings of incense and flowers.

 

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Not far is Wat Pra Si Sampet, ruins of the royal chapel once situated on the grounds of the palace. Apart from the ruins are reconstructed temples and some shrines that were spared from the Burmese. Nearly all has a golden Buddha within pillared halls. Walking through the ruins among bell shaped roofs are Buddhist monks clad in yellow saffron robes climbing the steps towards the shrine – a sober tradition that has transgressed the many centuries to the present.

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To get a better picture of what ancient Ayuthaya was like, a stop over at the Sam Phya museum is worthwhile. It houses a wonderful collection of statues, ornaments and other art works. Ayuthaya, the lost city of Siam is wholly remembered as once the seats of the great Thai kings and queens. Today although left in despair, its past grandeur is still reflected through the extraordinary ruins.

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Please don’t feed the ducks

There are two parks I do my walks, clear water and Island park, both are short distance from where I live.
Island Park is my favorite as it runs along Willamette river. It is not a big park, there is a play ground for children near the parking area. A little creek meandering along on the south side with few fallen trees and ducks enjoy swimming around. There are two covered area for picnics or just resting after walking.

Flock of Canada geese enjoy feeding on the green grass. I have to watch out for droppings on the lawn and pathways. I notice that the geese are not afraid of human. They just looked at you as if waiting for a handout. Of course I would not feed them they are wild.

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While observing the flock, I notice several geese have deformity on their wings. This is permanent and it is a concern. It is also known as “angel wing syndrome” caused by artificial feeding of goslings who when fed by human foods, grow faster then their wing bones can develop. The weight of the growing flight feathers places excess stress on the weak muscles attached to the wing bones causing the wing to develop in a twisted manner, not conducive to flight. Left untreated, the geese cannot fly, drastically decreasing life expectancy.

Owning a property close to water, I never fed any wild ducks or geese as they will be dependent and will also ruin the lawn. Droppings every where, this will  cause algae blooms in water and increase bacteria which can cause human health problems. Ducks and geese can also lose their natural wariness of humans and become aggressive if unnaturally fed.

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Never fed ducks and geese with human food, bread, popcorn, French fries these can cause starvation spread disease, cause deformities . Left on their own, ducks, geese eat a variety of foods that provide the nutrition they need, such as plants, seeds and bugs. Ducks likes to eat slugs, good for the garden. I enjoy watching these wonderful water fowl from my living room, keep them healthy and wild, do not feed them. Do them a favor.

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Happy New Year 2019

Arrived at the airport, suitcases rolling into the large jumbo jet heading to New Year city.

Waiting patiently and remembering 2018 with open mind.  Finally flight 2019 has been announce to board the long journey to New Year city.

Hope you have checked in only the best souvenirs from 2018 in your luggage.

The UGLY and DISAPPOINTMENT if carried with you, must be discarded in a large garbage container on your final destination.

The journey will be 12 months long, so relax, loosen up your seat belt and enjoy !

The stop overs will be, Health, Joy, Love, Harmony, Well being, and Peace.

Refueling will be at Giving, sharing, and Caring.

The following menu is offered and will be served during flight. Cocktail of Friendship, supreme of Health, Sautéed of Prosperity, bowl of Excellent News, Salad of Success, and Cake of Happiness.

All accompanied with hearty laughter……

You will enjoy these meals and the journey better if you talk, share smile and laugh together. Sitting alone quietly will make the flight seem longer.

But remember, flight 2019 will be especially a long bumpy journey with plenty of turbulence along the way. So seat belts will be necessary.

Wishing everyone an enjoyable trip to New Year city in flight 2019…….
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Dreaming of tea in….Shanghai

There are some nice tea houses in Shanghai and a must taste is the Chrysanthemum tea.  Served in most tea houses this special tea has unique taste.  It is a mixture of Chrysanthemum flowers and chines wolfberries.  the lysium barbarum wolfberry species grown in Ningxia, Tibet and the Himalayan regions are supposedly beneficial for health (antioxidant and anti aging).  Here are images of the old tea house in Yuyuan gardens, expensive and touristic but a must wisit for the time visitor in search of impression of Old shanghai.

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Chrysanthemum tea

 

Green tea sencha and Maofeng Huangshan grown mostly around the Yellow mountains.

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Green tea

 

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Yuyuan Garden Tea House in Shanghai

 

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The Old shanghai teahouse
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The old china hand reading room in Shanghai

When in Shanghai come to these tea rooms.  The Old Shanghai Tea House and the Old China Hand Reading room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bali, isle of heavens

No other place in the world has been so highly praised for its beauty as Bali,  many temples, shrines and beautiful palaces.  Even the most remote  corners of the island, the visitor’s eye is engaged by magnificent views of these richly ornamented constructions.  Very much living shrines, they are the sites of both daily observance of the Balinese Hindu rites and more spectacularly religious festivals.

A mask dancer performing in Pura Sadia temple during the Galungan-Kuningan festival, the most important in the Hindu Balinese calendar, celebrating the victory of good over evil.  It is believed that during Galungan spirits descend to bless the earth and ascend back to the heavens on Kuningan day.  Music and dances performed in temples are considered as offerings to the deities.

Bowl of flower petals and holy water are left on temple altars after blessings or purifications rituals.  For the Balinese people, offerings of food , flowers and incense to the gods and the elements, promises a state of equilibrium where man, nature and the divine can co-exist in peace and harmony.

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IMG_0529                                Rows of fishing boats along the beach of Jimbaran.

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Carved decorative Balinese door.

Children learn to dance and play musical instrument at a very young age.

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31Women dressed up in their splendid attire in preparation for a temple festivity.

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Barong a character in Balinese mythology He is the king of leader spirit of the host of good.  Banas Pati raja the good spirit which animates the Barong.  The character of the Barong often accompanied by two monkeys (dancers dressed in monkey costume)

 

 

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Haunted Paris

Paris and surrounding are full of ghost stories that has been told  many times.  People who have interest in this subject will explore all haunted spot.  Whether is in Paris or other places, they will find what they are looking for.   Here are stories that will intrigue readers in Halloween night.

CATACOMBS OF PARIS

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It is said to be haunted by strange orbs and human figures from different centuries.  there have been reports of voices being heard through the walls and the feeling of being stared at.  Another legend of the catacomb is the green man.  At the end of eighteenth century, the quarry men working on the stones designed to shape modern Paris saw a green man leaping through the galleries and hiding in wells and cellars.  Those who saw him were cursed, and even today people will feel a presence behind them without ever being able to identify if  it was the  “greenman”

THE RED MAN OF TUILERIES

It seems that the palace of the Tuileries is haunted by a butcher, named John the Flayer. He worked for Queen Catherine de Medici, who had a passion for the occult sciences. The henchman was in charge of the queen’s relationship with wizards and warlocks.  But Jean  started to know a little too much, and Catherine de Medici had him murdered. Before he died, he threatened his murderer Neuville: “I’ll come back to haunt you.  He did not live well the following days. He felt like he was being followed. The Queen’s astrologer, Cosme Ruggieri, went to check the scene of the crime and found nothing , only a pool of blood. Shortly after, the astrologer had a vision of John, who predicted that the queen would die “near St. Germain.” Catherine de Medici then fled from all places bearing this name. It was in her death bed that she was overtaken by fate. His confessor was called Julien de Saint Germain.   Since then, the red man of the Tuileries appeared to Louis XVIII, to Marie-Antoinette, prisoners at the Tuileries before  execution, to Napoleon the day before the Battle of Waterloo and in the inferno of Communards burning the palace of the Tuileries.

PALACE OF VERSAILLES

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Once home to the French royal family between 1682 to 1789.  A few tourists and employees have seen people in 18th century clothing.  There have been sightings of Queen Marie Antoinette, orbs and ghostly presences in tourists’ photos and descriptions of being touched by the  unseen .

 

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THE MARIE BRIDGE PHANTOM

It is said during the German occupation, a French woman who was married to a resistance had an affair with a Nazi officer.  She was a spy for her husband.  On a cold night she waited for him on Marie bridge,  he did not come and she froze to death.   People would hear her sobbing in the dark on the bridge.  A story do doubt destined to torment the collaborators.

PHANTOM OF MONTSOURIS PARK

The phantom  of Isaure de Montsouris would haunt this park located in the south of Paris since his assassination with ax by a band of looters in 1831.  One would regularly see his specter stroll near the Bardo, a small monument of the park which has mysteriously burned in 1991, while 15 million francs had been used for its renovation.  Since then, the silhouette of the beheaded has been seen, moans have been heard.  Montsouris park also a place where Dr. Guillotin tested for the first time his macabre guillotine in 1792 .

 

FATHER LACHAISE CEMETERY

The largest cemetery in Paris, France.  It is the most visited cemetery in the world and is said to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in Europe.  Some people have experienced overwhelming shivers and a sense of unease, while others have experienced a  feeling of calmness.  Claims have been made of photos  of visitors and investigators revealing orbs and ghostly apparitions.