“As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world, raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world
To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the lamp of wisdom, and keep our mind strong and clear. Water surrounds the lotus flower, but does not wet its petals.”
The Buddha -- Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Nature's Touch

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. --- William Shakespeare

I really like this quote because so many times in the presence or spectacular natural landscape like waterfall, mountain, lake, sunset ... the boundary that normally divide us like social status, wealth, value systems seems to vanish ... my experience is there seems to be no desire to find out what the person next to us is doing for a living ... a homeless person and a billionaire can stand next to each other and don't even know because we are being awed by what we see and we like to openly share with each other the wonderful feeling ... we are there to witness, appreciate the wonder of nature and that's when we connect in the most sincere level, imho.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Duyen in Vietnamese means 'meant to be'

A few months ago i went to an exhibition at the American Museum of Ceramic Art to see a special exhibition on the ceramic tradition of Korea ... after the exhibition i went to the gift shop / gallery area to see what's on display ... one piece called for my attention in particular, it's a large bowl (about 14in in diameter), the inside has crystalline glaze which normally  i am not a fan of because of the glossy finish ... but the bowl's color, a light blueish lavender, was very soothing to my eyes that i decided to get it ... at the cash register i noticed a tiny crack, about 1/3 of an inch, at the rim, which was easily blended in with the design of the bowl  ...  naturally the transaction was off and the person helping me said ' let's find out what the artist thinks about this'  ... i felt kinda sad because the bowl was defected but i reminded myself of the Japanese philosophy of 'wabi sabi' which beautifies the the nature of imperfection so i did not mind to have it but at the same time i didn't want to pay full price for the bowl either :-) ... the artist, Tom Wallick, was not around so the lady in charge of the studios asked for my information and she would let me know once she talked to him and she even asked me how much i wanted the piece to be discounted and i told her i would let him decide and i told her that i really like the look of the bowl.   

A few days later, i got an email from her saying that Tom wanted me to have the bowl if i still like it.  I was so surprised and really appreciated his generosity.  I think probably to him anything that's not perfect to his eyes is not worth selling ... talking about making art for art sake, not money ... how beautiful! imho ...  i guess it's duyen that i have this lovely bowl :-)

There was another piece by Tom that i like very much, a plate which has the same glaze but different color and since Tom gave me the bowl i decided to get the plate which again meant i have duyen with it too :-)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Unintended favorites

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” - Robert Louis Stevenson

After a trip i always came home with a few thousands pictures ( can't help clicking :-) ) and going thru them takes a lot time but looking at the pics i felt like i was doing the trip all over again and i realized that many of my favorite photos have nothing to do with the sight that i set out to see

 I saw this lady walking a pig on the road next to the school that we visited in Otavalo - Ecuador


 This sand 'painting' was on the beach where i went to watch the sunset


 Went to Yosemite to see the snow and on the way to the bus leaving the park i suddenly
 looked up


 This pattern was on the sand at sunset


 Saw this cutie on the hike to Mt Rainier, finnally caught him/her taking a breath after a good chase :-)


 An overnight stop in a sleepy but lovely lakeside town in Norway turned out to be one of my favorite places to stay. I can still hear the sound of the little waves hitting the shore

Wandering the area around Geirangerfjord in Norway


 From the bus in Norway


 This beautiful lady was one of the vendors in Peru


 Looking down from the restaurant in Peru where i went for lunch


 Zion national park


 At Havasu Falls in Havasupai Indian reservation


 I came to Verona to see Juliet's balcony (as in Romeo & Juliet) but i fell for these windows


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pondering the creative process

'Waiting is certainly an unsung part of the creative process.  Perhaps it is a part of life itself' - Brother Thomas Bezanson

Some of my favorite photos were created from 'non-qualified' ones or by accidents and that inspired me to adopt the non-plan mentality which means not having a concrete result in mind when i start working on a 'creative' project.  I found out that by having this non-controlling mentality i can set myself free and this in turn opens many exciting possibilities.  Then i realize that the creative process is only possible if i approach it with an open mind and heart,  not trying to control what the outcome should or shouldn't be.  The journey then becomes a wonderful experience,  full of unexpected discoveries,  and sometimes mistakes could be blessings in disguise so i embrace them too.   Treasure could really come from trash so i let the work unfold itself and come to its own existence.

This picture

came from this one 

This picture 

came from this one (the flame-like background was accidentally created when i tried to cleanup the shadow)

May you find treasure in trash :-)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Out of the comfort zone

Do you venture out to places alone? I am not talking about shopping :-) but to activities and events like dining, attending concert, gathering for certain causes, going to exhibition at museums/galleries, attending workshop/retreat  ...

I have and i've had wonderful experiences and chances to meet and befriend with great people :-)

Not that i don't enjoy company, nothing could compare to having good companions, but sometimes when this is not possible then i don't mind venturing out on my own at all.

I have to admit that this takes some mental prepareness :-)

I remember the first time i went to a classical concert alone (most of my friends are not into this kind of music) i felt a little strange but when the beautiful sound of music started i felt like i was one of the luckiest persons in the world. One thing i notice is there are a lot of solo concert goers out there. If you attend a concert alone without buying ticket in advance you might even get free ticket at the box office :-)

Dining alone could be an intimidating experience so make sure that you pick the restaurant that you absolutely love because when the delicious food takes center stage you won't have time for anything else :-).  Many times in the past i had to travel for business and when i had a chance to go to a new city i always look to see if there is any restaurant that i like to try and i always had a great time. Also you could get VIP treatment eating alone in gourmet restaurant :-)

I even went hiking alone but i stopped because i don't want unexpected thing to happen while i am alone in the wilderness.

Being among others with the same interest without having the obligation to interact, having the freedom to be an observer and only chat with whomever you feel like can be a fun experience, imho.

Give it a try, you might like it :-)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fava bean

If i don't go to farmer's market the chance is i would have never known fava bean, except when it's presented to me in the restaurant as an accompaniment to the a main ingredient.

The first time i saw fava bean pods was in Santa Monica farmer's market.  I have to say they are kinda ugly. The pods were big and most of the time they did not have a 'clean' look like green bean, string bean, snap peas.  Intrigued by the look i bought some and i found out that it's one of the most beautiful vegetables that i have known both in look, the bean itself, and taste.

When i split open the pots the bean look like they were cradled in a case lined with a thick layer of soft cotton, pristine and even jewel-like.  It sure commands my admiration :-)

Fava bean



I gently took the beans out of the pods, they reminded me of the sugar coated almond candies that i used to adore when i was a kid.

Fava beans

Then i steam the bean with the shell on.  When the shell is taken off, the bean is shown in a beautiful bright green color.



I could not resist munching on them until they are gone :-).  But sometimes i make sucotash

Sucotash with fava bean

However,  i still prefer to eat the bean right out of the shell with it's flavorful unadorned wholesome goodness.

One day i visited the Learning Garden in Venice high school and i saw the plant and a bean pod and this time i think the pod is pretty good looking :-)

The Learning Garden - fava bean

Friday, May 31, 2013

Yin Yang at play

In reading the fascinating book "The Tao of Physics" i learned that opposites qualities are complementaries part of a mutual whole. As part of the Tao, they are merely two aspects of a single reality. I find this thought-provoking and the idea really dawned on me when i looked at my flowering cactus plant.


The plant is solid and the thorn is painful to the touch, having the masculine characteristics like rough, strong, hard.


The flower is quite the opposite.  The petals, filaments, anthers, stigmes are so light that when i touched them i could hardly feel their presence.  They have the feminine qualities like soft, delicate, yielding.






The flower bud is probably the ugliest bud i have ever seen.  The first time i saw a bud i thought it was a fungus and almost cut it off the plant.


yet the flower is one of the most gorgeous


The contrasting qualities of the cactus plant is another thing that amazes me about the natural world and i can't help wondering what are the yin and the yang within each of us.