Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful

It’s been a busy past few days what with Thanksgiving, all the travel involved (a pretty painless drive I have to admit!) and also the drama of a 10 year high school reunion! I still can’t believe that 10 years ago I was a senior, trembling on the brink of becoming a college student (and a mature adult… sometimes I think I’m still on the brink there!). I also cringe when I think about my terrible style choices during high school… or rather the lack of style. Everyone looks the same but different – I’d like to think that I’ve improved with age, at least in terms of clothing. Maybe.

In any case I’ve been a little belated on the photo challenge posts and my own miscellaneous posts so it’s best to just get into it! This week at the Daily Post we’re giving thanks, timely considered the holiday that just passed.

This is a cross-stitch that I made and framed as a gift to my parents for Chinese New Year, which reads “家和萬事興”, meaning that a family that lives in harmony will prosper. If there’s anything that Asian families aspire to, it’s to live in harmony (and also for their kids to become doctors/lawyers, ahhh). Definitely there have been inharmonious moments in my family life (read: the teenage years) but as I’ve grown older I’ve learned to appreciate my family a lot, especially all the effort that my parents have put into raising me. The distance in  years (and also in miles!) has given me a lot of insight. Dare I say, I even miss them sometimes?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Green

Only now did I realize I was supposed to use only one photo for the Weekly Photo Challenges at the Daily Post! I’ve been cheating all this time. But this week’s theme is a multi-image challenge so now I’ll play by the rules and post up pictures of green! Nature is the best source of all things green for me – although I do curse that I never got that traditional green “Ithaca is Gorges” shirt when I was in college, it would have come in handy here!

Travel theme: Mystical

What mysterious photo challenge has Ailsa whipped up at Where’s my backpack? Why, a mystical one of course! This week we’ll be celebrating all things dreamlike and ethereal. It’s interesting how a scene that seems utterly innocuous in normal daylight transforms into a magical one with some fog, or with a blanket of snow. Suddenly even the familiar becomes shrouded and obscure, unfamiliar and otherworldly.

These ruins are from a family trip to Greece several years back. We had the opportunity to explore some of the ruins on the hillsides of Delphi. Because it was wintertime, a few flurries of snow were falling – totally incongruous with the bright green grass that was still thriving. Standing in the bones of a civilization with the grand mountains ahead and the snow melting on our faces, it definitely felt like a mystical moment!

Also from our trip to Greece, we visited these amazing clifftop monasteries that are literally perched on pillars of stone, like the one seen above. These monasteries were definitely isolated, a good way for monks to focus on their prayers and shut out the sinful world outside. They used a rope-and-pulley system to transport goods from down below to their monasteries up in the sky. From such a high point, I’m sure they felt closer to heaven.

These next few pictures are from a trip to Japan. While exploring the area around Hakone, we walked through a moody forest with just a shaft of sunlight streaming through.

The sulfurous hot springs of Owakudani in Hakone. The rocky, desolate ground, releasing plumes of smelly steam, stand in stark contrast to the bright green hills in the background. It’s said that if you eat an egg boiled in the spring you will add seven years to your life!

A bamboo walkway in Kyoto, Japan. There’s such a mystery in wondering where the path leads, and also a feeling of serenity – like you could walk along this path for hours just admiring your surroundings.

The start of a long line of torii gates at the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan. Walking through the gates is a mystical experience – the journey from the beginning to end feels almost transformative. A torii gate is supposed to separate the normal from the sacred – and with thousands of gates at this shrine there’s a lot to be held sacred here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Renewal

Ooh I almost forgot to do this one! Just getting it in now… This week at the Daily Post the photo challenge is about renewal. For me, spring is the season that brings the meaning of renewal to life! The season of baby animals being born, fresh buds on trees that lay dormant and stick-like all winter – that’s renewal at its most basic and literal.

A robin, harbinger of spring, out on the prowl for juicy worms!

The delicate first leaves forming on the trees, pale and yellow-green before they mature and grow larger and darker.

Blossoms just about ready to unfurl into glorious bloom!

Cherry blossoms at their peak in the spring season at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

New life, and perfect little baby toes.

And of course, a glorious warm vacation goes a long way in making me feel renewed!

Travel theme: Soft

This week at Where’s my backpack? we’re talking softly. Soft to me means fuzzy animals, freshly whipped cream (soft and also delicious!) and piles of just-laundered clothes – must be all those TV commercials for those softener sheets! I rounded up a few photos that mean softness to me – here they are!

Flying above the clouds, they resemble softly whipped peaks of cream or a landscape of freshly piled snow. So inviting to imagine jumping into them and feeling their coolness around you, like in Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. Great book by the way!

Soft and also sexy! This was a bridal shower gift for a friend, and perhaps for her fiance as well. The delicate design of the lace is sensual without being overpoweringly sexy.

Fresh from a bath and looking quite cuddly! After getting a nice blow-dry this doggie will turn into an energetic little ball of fluff.

“But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.”
– Shakespeare

Lies, this isn’t a sunrise but actually a sunset taken at Cayuga Lake. But I couldn’t help but think of the quote with the sun gently breaking through the clouds!

This horse has such an soft, intelligent look in his big liquid eyes.  This one seems very wise – and patient as well, since he was constantly getting petted and stroked!

Bunnies are adorable, the end! Can’t you imagine running your hands through his fuzzy fur?

Tuesday Trip Back in Time – Qingdao, China 2010

A few days after my then-boyfriend and I arrived in Jinan to visit his family, we made a brief one night trip to Qingdao, a city that is a brief 2.5-3 hour train ride away. Qingdao is probably known best for being the city behind Tsingtao beer (different spelling, but Tsingtao =  Qingdao)! Tsingtao  beer is brewed in Qingdao and is famous for being brewed with Laoshan spring water which gives it a mild and pleasant taste. I’m not a big beer drinker, but when in Rome… or rather, when in Qingdao…

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