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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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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The church (Halloween story)

Halloween night is the best time to tell ghostly story to anyone who dare to listen.  A cup of hot cider around crackling wood fire make this night memorable.

Feeling the need to have a short walk, I said to grandma I am going to visit the ruins of a church. You are going there she asked. Yes, I answered, just to look around. She started to mentioned it was haunted. Oh grandma do you believe such nonsense. She looked at me in silence with her convincing look.

I turn around walk to my room and gathered my camera bag and start to walk toward the church. An afternoon walk in the heat of the day. Common in the tropic.

Gradually I could see the church ruins. I walk faster to get there before sundown. In the tropic night time comes early at around four by five darkness arrived.

The church was built by the Dutch in 1800 and burned down by the village people in 1940 before the Japanese invaded Indonesia.  Unfortunately   there were fatalities.  Some people did not have time to escape the church as it was full with congregation.

By now the church lay in ruins only the walls and altar made out of concrete still standing. Finally arrived at the ruins, the church wall covered with meandering vine even a small tree growing near the walls. Everywhere I see only weeds and other vegetation.   I took a shot whenever I can with my camera. Then I heard a soft noise coming from the altar. Turn around to see what was that noise,   I could not see anything. May be an animal, perhaps a dog or a cat or something else.

I did not think much of it and kept looking for a good shot. All of a sudden I saw something in front of the altar. A white mist appeared slowly like a slow motion movie changing into the shape of a priest with white robe  holding a cross. Next to the apparition another two priests appeared . I was transfix with the scene in front of me. I stood still not moving.

The three apparitions was performing a ritual. Still looking at the performance I try to walk out but could not as if my feet were glued to the weedy ground.

The first priest turned around, I saw a grotesque face looking at me, I got a chill right away. Then I heard a voice telling me I don’t belong here. Go away.  As soon as I heard the priest voice the three apparitions disappear.  After the incident, the church felt peaceful.  I heard bird chirping nearby, it seem while these phenomenon happen every living thing went silence. By now I have the strength to turn around and run as fast as I could. Half way from the church I stop gathered my composure and walk as if nothing happen.

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Halloween Pumpkin

PUMPKIN PATCH

At this time of the month October there are plenty of pumpkin to choose from the patch or grocery store.    Pumpkin is a member of the Cucurbita family, large trailing vine with heart-shaped leaves.  they are in reality a winter squash.

Pumpkin are high in vitamin A, B, and C, iron, phosphorous and potassium.

About 99  percent of the pumpkins sold in the grocery store are used as jack-o-lanterns.  these large, deep orange color pumpkins is a variety called Connecticut Field are stringy to eat and high water content.  they are not good for eating, suitable for carving only.

Smaller pumpkin called “pie” or sweet  flesh that is less watery making these the best for eating.  I grow this variety in my garden excellent for pies, quick breads, cakes and muffins.
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My favorite sweet pumpkins for eating are winter luxury and New England Pie.  winter luxury will grow 5 to 7 pounds, it has a unique netted skin, dense and sweet tasting.  New England pie  will grow 4 to 7 pounds, dry, stringless and relatively starchy.

The best temperature to store pumpkin is 50F to 55F, with relatively low humidity.  Storing in high humidity will rot the pumpkins.  Store away from light in area with  good ventilation.

To keep your home-grown pumpkins or store-bought, cut them into slice pieces or large chunks nd microwaved, boiled, baked in oven or steamed.  Puree cooked pumpkin meat, freezes well and can be kept frozen up to a year.

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FOR DELICIOUS HALLOWEEN TREAT………

 

ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

 

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Roasted pumpkin seeds, also known as “pepitas” are wonderful nutritious snack !

Cut the pumpkin, scrape the seeds and put them in colander to rinse.   Remove any pulp strings. (this can be tedious) and dry thoroughly. Put seeds in a large bowl, add a few drops of olive oil (I like extra virgin).  Spread on cookie sheet line with parchment paper.  Roast in the oven at 375F until seeds are golden brown color.  Keep and eye on them and move them around occasionally to ensure even roasting.  Cool completely  and store in air tight container.   If this sound too much to make buy in health food store or in grocery store with bulk section.

HALLOWEEN PUMPKIN CARVING FACTS

The most prominent Halloween symbol is of course the carved pumpkin with lit candle inside.  This is an Iris tradition of carving a lantern, which goes back centuries.  this lantern usually carved from a potatoes or turnips.  The pumpkin carving was first associated with Halloween in North America, where pumpkin was more readily available much larger and easier to carve.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN AND HAVE A SAVE ONE………..
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