Weekly Photo Challenge: Forward

One thing that always moves forward, whether we want it to or not, is time – that inexorable march through the years! I suppose I feel this particularly keenly because my birthday is this week and I will be hitting the big 29! Definitely not old (unless you are a single woman in China…) but every year I can’t help but look back on my younger days with a sense of astonishment and wistfulness. All the self-pics I took through high school and college (which I see my younger cousins doing) make me shudder now! Thankfully I never adopted the duck-face but still… I can’t believe that now I’m married, recently bought a house, contemplating having kids, thinking about college funds… good lord. I feel a little wistful for the days when my biggest worry was which lipgloss I would be wearing.

So in keeping with this week’s theme at the Daily Post, we will be moving forward! Onwards to the future and whatever surprises it might bring!

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An elderly couple walking through the fall foliage together. In the autumn of their life, they still enjoy each other’s company – I hope that my husband and I can sustain that through the years!

Travel theme: Mountains

To a short person like me (just a smidge under 5′) even hills can seem like mountains. And there were definitely times when I felt like walking up a hill was more like scaling a mountain of epic proportions (for Cornellians – slogging up Libe Slope through snow from West Campus to go to class during winter!). But for the sake of this week’s travel theme at Where’s my backpack?, I will stick to legit mountains and not just my little versions of mountains… or will I?

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Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of mountains – unless there’s a nice ski-lift bringing you up there!  Here in New York most people bemoan snow – unless they are avid snowboarders or skiers looking for fun. I love the powdery trees here – they look so serene even while there’s so much action going on between them.

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I’m pretty sure I’ve posted about these amazing monasteries in Greece that are built atop mountains before… but that is just how fantastic they are. Putting a monastery on a mountain? I don’t envy the builders but the result is completely magical.

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And now for something completely different – red rock mountains in Sedona, Arizona. The surreal landscape of Arizona was fascinating to me and my husband because it was totally unlike the scenery we’re used to in the Northeast.

DSCF2449And finally, a mountain of adorableness! Greece seems to have tons of stray cats and dogs running around, and this cuddly pyramid of kitties were just enjoying some sun… and dare I say… cat-napping?!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss

Valentine’s Day has just passed and I’m sure plenty of us were giving or receiving kisses, either in the candy form or in a lippy way! At The Daily Post, they want to continue that theme of Kiss, so it’s time to pucker up!

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I’ve always loved Greek mythology, starting from first grade when I first encountered D’aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths. First what attracted me were the colorful illustrations, but the vivid stories (toned down for the kids!) were just so fascinating! It was so amazing to imagine that the rising of the sun was caused by a specific god riding this fiery chariot across the sky… to imagine that thunder and lightning was caused by Zeus’ powerful lightning bolt… Not exactly scientific, but absolutely mesmerizing for a young child.

Sorry for being so longwinded… I just love mythology! Anyway, this statue is of Cupid and Psyche and it’s called “Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss”  by Antonio Canova. In current times, Cupid is always depicted as a chubby little baby with wings, flying everywhere and causing loves-stricken mayhem. Cupid does the same thing in Greek mythology… except he’s a curly-haired hunk with rock-hard abs (literally in this case). The story of Cupid and Psyche is wonderful as well, in that it has a happy ending – although it starts off kind of creepy. To have a lover that one cannot see… is strange, to say the least. I don’t blame her for wanting to see she’s been making love with!

Travel theme: Gaudy

Is it possible to be classically gaudy? Or tastefully gaudy? That is the question I will explore for this week’s theme at Where’s my backpack?! If there’s any city that can pull off gaudy in a stylish way, it would be Paris! A city full of beauty and gorgeous architecture, it also has its fair share of over-the-top extravagances. I mean, they even have a crazy ornate decorating style named after them – French Rococo! Even the word sounds gaudy. Look it up on wikipedia if you don’t believe just how gaudy it could be. Add to that, you have the Eiffel Tower – an elegant icon of the city by day, but at night it turns into a sparkling disco ball version of itself. I rest my case!

Still, Paris can make even the tacky look good – like a supermodel who can pull off an outlandish outfit that would look frightful on any normal human being. So here’s to the beautifully garish side of Paris!

Travel theme: Shadows

What’s there lurking in the shadows? None other than this week’s travel theme at Where’s my backpack! This was a tough one – I guess I tend to avoid shadows while focusing more on the light. Shadows can create a lot of drama in a picture though, and I had a lot of fun looking through other people’s interpretations. Here I have my collection of shady pictures!

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During graduate school I was lucky to have a lovely 2-bedroom townhouse with a great backyard. Often times in summertime deer would be grazing on the greenery just outside my window, and in fall I even had turkeys wandering by! I took a lot of photos of my backyard throughout the seasons – this photo is from a golden summer afternoon when the trees cast lacy shadows on the grass.

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A shadowy passage in Marie Antoinette’s estate in Versailles. Although the palace of Versailles is ultra-opulent and ornate, Marie Antoinette’s estate is supposed to be a bucolic return to nature and farming – but in a very luxurious and picture-perfect way! That means picturesque farmhouses, adorably thatched cottages, and oodles of gorgeous  blooms.

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Shadow boxing at Sunset Cliffs in San Diego. We were young and silly! Now we’re older and silly.

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At my parent’s home, the light shining through the lace curtains cast some beautiful shadows on the leaves of a normal houseplant.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unique

This week at the Daily Post, we are challenged to find something that means unique to us! For me, one of the most unique places I’ve visited is Japan. I’ve always been interested in Japanese culture and language (I took three years in college, of course all that has atrophied now… 仕方ないね。。) and I really enjoyed my visit there! Someday I will be back, but until then I can remember Japan fondly through my pictures.

Uniquely Japanese

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Back when I visited Japan, flip phones were DA BOMB! Also, the phrase “da bomb” and “phat” were in! So that kind of shows how long ago this was. Anyway, what’s the fun in having the coolest flip phone if everyone else has the same one? Of course you need to personalize it and bling it out like this crazy phone right over here. This was taken at the Tokyu Hands craft store – a real haven for crafty sorts with so many different departments that one can find anything they want! Including kits to bedazzle your phone.

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An advertisement for Mos Burger, a popular burger chain in Japan. I believe they are advertising a new “doo-na-tsu baa-gaa” – Donut Burger! With wasabi sauce perhaps. That is just so weird. But it looks strangely tasty…

DSCF7953Deer in the Japanese city of Nara! Within a certain area, there are wild sika deer roaming who are considered sacred and therefore it is illegal to hunt them. This would probably set all the hunters I know twitching with anticipation, but these deer are crazy bold and not shy at all. The sight of food will have them trailing you around for hours. Adorable but kinda dirty!

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In Osaka (and now Tokyo too I hear) they have a very important museum for a very important Japanese innovator and businessman. Of course, I speak of no one less than Momofuku Ando, the inventor of ramen! This staple of college diet is popular worldwide now – I love me some cup noodle! And there is the man himself, immortalized on a pedestal of cup noodle and brandishing a package of ramen. Glorious!

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These sushi are a real mouth-tease – they’re not edible but actually made of chirashi silk, painstakingly stitched together and then stuffed to resemble the real deal. They are amazing and look great but also bring up the question – do people really buy silk sushi to display in their homes?

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In Kyoto we got the chance to dress up as geisha and of course take lots of glamour shots! It was definitely a unique and surreal experience to get the makeup done and put on the multi-layered kimono, with the heavy obi – these things are seriously heavy and somewhat unwieldy! I loved getting to pick out the kimono though – it felt like I was wearing a rainbow!

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Sleeping on a futon in a tatami mat room in Hakone, Japan. This ryokan (small inn) also had their own hot spring! Hot springs are a must do in Japan. It’s a totally different experience… because you are naked! And that’s definitely unique because I am not used to being naked in front of total strangers.

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Only in Japan would you have an adorable mascot of an egg… a partially eaten one at that. Along with his eponymous buddy Hello Kitty, Owakudani egg extols the virtues of eating one of their special boiled eggs, boiled in the sulfurous hot springs of Owakudani and “guaranteed” to extend your life!