Monday, January 31, 2011

China's Best...Happy New Year!

2011 Year of the Rabbit

Those born in the Year of the Rabbit tend to be conservative and peaceful people.  They do not embark in activities that involve risk.  They prefer to lead a conservative life, focusing on color, design and emphasizing small details.  Most generally, the rabbit gets along well with others.

The festival of Chinese New Year is one of the most important and certainly the most colorful and elaborate festivals in China.  It is celebrated on the 1st day of the first moon of the lunar calendar.  According to the solar calendar, the date for Chinese New Year could be anywhere between January 21st and February 19th.  This year it falls on February 3, 2011, the Year of the Rabbit.

Preparations for Chinese New Year are followed precisely by tradition and by the lunar and solar movements of the moon.  This is the time for family reunions and for expressing congratulations for making it to the New Year.  "We made it through the old-bring on the new!"  During these family times, the Chinese re-inforce the importance of family ties.

One of the first items on the list of preparations is called "The Sweeping of the Grounds".  For several days prior to the New Year, the homes are swept inside and out, much like we in the United States do our Spring Cleaning (or in my case, it's fall cleaning!).  Decorative scrolls worded with poems and good wishes for the family are hung outside the entrances of the home.  Most of these scrolls are made from shuan paper instead of rice paper because the wrinkles can be easily smoothed and stretched out. And this paper is more compatible with Chinese brushes and ink.

       Chinese Good Luck Dragon    Chinese Grace Virtue Scroll

Flowers and fruits are also used to decorate the home.  All of these preparations are made in the spirit of  "turning over a new leaf" and in hopes of receiving favorable reports from the "Kitchen God".

Once the Kitchen God has left the home to report to heaven his findings of a family's behavior,  it's time to resume preparations for festivities for the much awaited celebration.  Children are given red envelopes with money for gifts called "Lai-See" envelopes.  It's kind of like one big Birthday party for everyone.  Gifts are given to relatives and friends, and wherever you visit, there are fruits and other traditional delicacies served.  The people put on their best clothes and set out for the parades and socializing.  Red is a dominant color during the festival-symbolizing fire, it is believed to burn off bad luck.  Poems are written on red paper, and people wear red clothes.

The children really get involved in the holiday too-and they also experience the family closeness and the joys of being included in the fabulous celebrations.  They are invited to make their own decorations and take part in the parades and festivities.

year of the Tiger craft

children on parade
And, oh!  Speaking of decorations-the Chinese people, in my opinion, are the most creative and colorful when it comes to outdoor decorations.  Where do they come up with their ideas?  And how do they determine what colors they will use for all of the costumes and masks?  Where do they store all of the giant decorations during the year?  It has been said that the masks are used exclusively during the New Year holiday only, so, I can see how the once-a-year decor can bring about such excitement and joy.  The masks are constructed from a variety of materials such as paper and cloth, or leather, shell, metal, and even grass.  Of course they are painted with vivid colors and designs, and can resemble animals and, or, humans.  Some of these masks are even displayed in various museums and art galleries around the world and many are highly sought after by collectors.

 Get a load of this extreme and fabulous mask!

These two masks are just a couple of examples of the creativity of the people.  They have such realistic features depicting spirits, and, or, beings that have superior power over humans.  Yes-some are a litttttle SCARY!

The Chinese New Year festival lasts about 15 days, and on the 15th day is the Lantern Festival.  There is dancing in the streets with the main feature-The Dragon Dance.  The dragon can stretch as far as one hundred feet in length.  And the people carry lanterns into the streets forming one great parade.

And don't you just love these lanterns?  I am so fascinated by them-would like to have one!

And, so, my dear readers, all of these events are just small quips of the wonders and delights of the Chinese New Year.  From trays of togetherness, fruits, sweets, flowers, and well wishes for family and friends, to dressing up the house and oneself, and celebrating with extraordinary, colorful embellishments in the streets, (this is a mouthful!) dragon dances, parades and children's laughter-oh, how exciting it all must be!  It's hard work, but to the Chinese, the social and personal rewards make it well worth the wait for another
 New Year!

My husband Karo has been a mechanic since he was a young teenager-always working on cars and getting clunkers on the road and running like new.  In his 20's and 30's, he owned a gas station and worked on cars for a living.  He commends the Chinese for their craftsmanship in producing quality tools.  Karo says that in the 1950's and 1960's some of the tools he bought weren't of the best quality for the money, not holding up to wear and tear very long.  But later, in the 1970's and 1980's, he started purchasing tools made in China, and, for the money, they are very well made.  He says the prices are very reasonable and he just can't figure out how the Chinese are able to produce such good quality tools and get them over here to the states at such reasonable prices.  A couple of years ago, Karo purchased an acoustic guitar that was made in China and says that for such an inexpensive instrument, it is very well made with a good sound, and he feels quite certain that all of China made string instruments are of superb quality. 

So, there we have it!  You know, I've been trying to get my newest survey on my sidebar, but with no luck.  The title and question shows up, but the answer choices are invisible.  I never had this problem before I changed my blog template.  Can someone help me figure out WHAT THE HECK?  Or, is someone already trying to tell me something?  NO MORE SURVEYS!?!  Well, you'd better believe it-as soon as I figure out "what the heck", there will be a slew of surveys popping up!

And now, I would like to thank the internet and all of the resources made available to me.  It's wonderful to be able to visit the places of your choice to see how other folks live and celebrate.  This time I was fortunate to find worlds of information to just write a small bit about such a BIG holiday in a very interesting country.  

google search

Thank you, my kind readers and my husband, Karo, who continues to encourage me to write.  Please visit as often as you like and feel free to make comments. 

"Kong Xi Fa Cai"
Make your great dreams come true this Chinese New Year!

Friday, January 28, 2011

"We're Hostin' The Superbowl!"

Collage kreated at KardKorner Headquarters by Suzanne

There's a lot of hustle and bustle in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas Metroplex this week and next.  Both cities are scrambling and preparing for the piece de resistance-SUPERBOWL 45! Some of the streets around Dallas Cowboy stadium are already being blocked off and closed in order to control traffic and expand the security zone.  The Green Bay Packers will be staying at the Omni Madalay Hotel in Las Colinas-Irving, Texas.  And the Pittsburgh Steelers will be staying at the Omni Fort Worth in Downtown Fort Worth, Texas.  I work downtown Fort Worth, and the city has been preparing for this event all week.  ESPN has already set up their tent to start broadcasting at 5:00 am Monday morning near Sundance Square downtown around 3rd street at Houston and Main-I work at 3rd and Commerce, just a block away.

The "Cradle of Champions" sculpture was installed at Sundance Square in Fort Worth on January 25, 2011 (just the other day).  It houses an excess of 2,000 NFL players names who played football at Texas high schools.  And Fort Worth's mayor Mike Moncrief declares "Fort Worth is Ready!"

I can't find any information on where the Green Bay Packers will practice for the game once they are in Dallas.  It is said that the Pittsburgh Steelers will practice at the TCU indoor facility in Fort Worth, and practices will be closed to the public.  I'm sure SOMEONE will try to sneak thru to get a glimpse or a picture-NOT ME!  I'm staying put on my side of downtown.

Here are some of the stats and predictions being tossed around town:
1)  It is expected that 105,000 people will be in attendance for the Superbowl
2)  The temperatures are expected to be mild in the 50's
3)  Some parking spots will be going for $500.00+
4)  Wingstop predicts that at least 5,000,000 wings will be sold
5)  It's an "All Call" for planes, buses, cabs and limos
6)  People are offering up their homes for rent to out-of-towners to the tune of
7) The average cost of a ticket to the Superbowl is $3,600.00
8)  Motel rooms are going for a minimum rate of $699.00 per night
9)  Hotel security will definitely be upgraded
10)  This event is expected to be the BIGGEST tourism weekend that North Texas has

This is truly exciting, and Dallas isn't even playing in the Superbowl.  There will be tons of money coming into our area and businesses will be booming.  In our building at 3rd and Commerce Street we have already been advised that once we get parked into our garage for work next week, we need to stay put and not drive out anywhere for lunch.  Chances are that if you leave the garage during the day, you will not find a parking place upon your return.  There are some reserved spots (expensive), but it's first come-first serve.  There will be security posted at the garage entrances.  I usually enter the garage at 7:40 am, so I should be ok, and I don't leave the area for lunch.  I would like to walk around downtown a little tho, and see if I can snap some good photos.  We'll see-wish me luck!

So see you Sunday, February 6, 2011, at 6:30 pm (Texas time) for the big game!

  Grandson Shawn at the Park-photo taken by "Awmaw" (me)

We had our grandson Shawn, aka Scooter, Scootie, and Sweetie for the past week.  He doesn't allow me to blog-he wants to blog.  So, I got behind on my writing.  He does enjoy the pictures on my blog except for some of the ugly witches on my sidebar, and does his own scrolling to view the photos!  The photo above is his "bad boy" look on his Hot Wheels trike.  When he's on that trike, he's in his own world and you have to pick the trike up with him still on it to get him back to the car and home!  The child does not let go!  We had a lot of fun with him, tho, and he loves coming to Grandma and Grandpa's house-cookies and other good stuff to eat.  By the way, he's wearing the very jacket his 31 year old dad wore at the age of 2.


photos by Suzanne 01/23/2011

Little Fossil park is less than a mile from our house.  It is currently being updated with new sidewalks, trails and picnic areas.  There were a lot of trees and most of them had clumps of mistletoe.  Well, they looked rather wilted and trees were otherwise bare.  But I got a few photos of them just the same.

Many thanks to the following resources:
Yahoo Images
NBC 5 News
KLUV Radio
Fort Worth Star Telegram

and photography by Suzanne's KardKorner!

Thank you for stopping by...I'll catch up to you again soon.

"Weekends don't pay as well as weekdays, but at least there's football".
~S.A. Sachs

Friday, January 14, 2011

He Had A Dream...A Humble Tribute!

Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968)

Martin Luther King day will be observed Monday, January 17, 2011.  On this day, those of us who have lived during his time will remember the events of Dr. King's life and of his death.  Martin Luther King, Jr. was a highly admired Civil Rights Leader, whose focus was on using non-violent methods to end poverty and the VietNam war.  He was a well educated young man, who entered Morehouse College in Atlanta at the age of 15, and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology.  In 1948, Martin Luther King, Jr. entered the ministry and becomes ordained at the age of 19.  He attended the Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania where he earned a Bachelor of Divinity Degree in 1951.  And Martin Luther King, Jr. received his Doctorate of Philosophy in 1955 at Boston University.  In 1964, Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end segregation and discrimination, and  he vowed to use the money from this prize to further finance the Civil Rights Movement.  Dr. King was the youngest man, and the second American to receive this prize.  Some of his writings include:  "Why Can't We Wait", "Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story", and "Where Do We Go From Here?"

Trouble did follow Martin Luther King, Jr., even though it was his intentions to conduct peaceful demonstrations.  While imprisoned in jail for leading a non-violent sit-in to protest the segregation of eating establishments, he wrote the famous "Letter From Birmingham Jail."  During a book signing in Harlem Dr. King was stabbed by a mentally ill woman.  And he was stoned in Chicago while leading a march an effort to open up the city for housing.  After enduring threats on his life, being arrested numerous times, and his home being bombed, Martin Luther King, Jr.  continued to work toward his goals.  He founded the "Southern Christian Leadership Conference", was named "Man of The Year" by Time Magazine in 1963,  and he was a member of the executive committee of the NAACP.

On a rainy night in Memphis, on April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his last speech.  The speech would become known as the "I've Been To The Mountaintop" address.  In this speech Dr. King said, "I just want to do God's will.  And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain.  And I've looked over.  And I've seen the promised land.  I may not get there with you.  But I want you to know tonight, that we, as people, will get to the promised land."

1...2...buckle my shoe

In 1968, I was 19 years old.  Although I am not politically inclined, I was aware of the problems in Viet Nam, including the college anti-war demonstrations and the issues with draft evaders.  Women were burning their bras, or, just throwing them away, (yes, me too!) and also demonstrating for equal rights, and equal employment opportunities with equal pay.  It was somewhere during this time that women were given the right to wear pants/jeans in the workplace.  I worked for Hallmark Cards corporate headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri during this time and we were among the first in the city to start wearing pants-and on came the t-shirts and jeans!  Hoorah! 

The news of Martin Luther King's death hit, and the repercussions of this tragedy were felt worldwide.  I remember the problems that resulted from this event.  Even in my city there were riots and vandalism.  The National Guard were everywhere and curfews were placed within the city.  During the week, you were to be off the streets by 7:00 pm and 10:00 pm on the weekend.  I can't remember how long this lasted-2 or 3 weeks?  My brother worked for the H.D. Lee company downtown Kansas City, Missouri after school.  I had to pick him up one evening, and we were worried I wouldn't be able to get through the roadblocks to get to him.  Stan and I would just barely make it home to the Kansas side before 7:00 pm.  But-I took the backroads and managed to get through.  You could see the jeeps of the National Guard parked at intersections-what a Ghost Town it was.  There wasn't any trouble at my workplace, thankfully.  Hallmark Cards was, even at that time, an Equal Opportunity Employer.  It was the greatest place to work at, and the employees always conducted themselves with respect.  There was a lot of sadness for days after Dr. King was killed-I could feel it too.  And, in time, the sadness lifted.  Our nation has come a long way since then, and so have I.  Still not politically inclined, I do understand more and I believe Martin Luther King, Jr. REALLY had a dream-he wasn't out there just blowing off steam!  And he gave his life for that dream.  On January 20, 1986, the nation observed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's. Birthday as a federal holiday for the first time.

In August of 1963,  Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his most famous speech in 17 minutes, "I Have A Dream."  Dr. King's last book, "Where Do We Go From Here" was written in 1967, and he delivered his last speech the night before he died, April 3, 1968.

It was on April 15, 1865 that President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C.-the first President to be assassinated.
On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
In February of 1965, civil rights activist Malcolm X, was gunned down in New York.
On the evening of April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot down outside of his Motel in Memphis
June 5, 1968, just two short months after Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed, Robert F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Los Angeles after winning the California primary for the Democratic nomination of U.S. President. 

Anybody here seen my old friend Martin?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked 'round and he's gone.

This is a verse from the song, "Abraham, Martin and John", that was written by Dick Holler in 1968 and recorded by Dion.

 I am thankful for all of the available sources of information that enabled me to write this post. 

OH-and before I more Birthday!  My aunt Gertrude, whom we call Auntie Gerty, and lives in Wisconsin, turns 82, also on January 15.  I do believe that she and Martin Luther King, Jr. were being born at the same time, worlds away.  My aunt is a couple of years younger than mom, and was also born in India.  Having come to the United States around the same time as my mom, the two sisters have been able to spend a lot of time together.

Happy Birthday Auntie Gerty!

 Here is a picture taken at a Kansas City Royals' game 7 or 8 years ago with my mom on the right, Auntie Gerty in the middle and her husband, my uncle Chuck, riding shotgun! 

News Flash!  My favorite radio station KLUV broadcasting from the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, now has a national toll free number.  You can call from anywhere at "855-987-KLUV".
I listen every morning to Jody Dean and the Morning Team.  They play 1960's, 70's and 80's rock and roll, soul and pop rock music.  On Sunday Mornings at 7:00 am they have "Elvis Only"  for 1 hour with Elvis music and Elvis history.  And then, from 8:00 to 9:00 am, after Elvis, you can listen to "Breakfast With the Beatles" music and history.  It's a fun radio station!  Tune in if you get a chance.

Well, I'm sure that by now you're wondering when I plan to put out a new survey for your voting pleasure.  And you're all psyched up, full of anticipation about which subject I have picked this time!  I do have one worked up and hope to add it to my sidebar in the morning.  And I'll let you know how much time you have to bravely dive in with your answers!
 You too, cousin Obaid!
And so, my fond readers, I will bid you adieu.  Thank you for visiting.  We are currently under cloudy skies at 45 degrees in Fort Worth, Texas, and expecting a bit warmer temperatures for the weekend.

au revoir

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dear Mark Twain...We're Not Gonna Let Them Mess Up Your Work!

It has come to my attention that due to racial content Mark Twain novels may possibly be re-written.  According to Bay News 9 some High Schools across the country have already banned "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn" from their lesson plans.  "Banned in the USA" reports that "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" is the fourth most banned book in schools.  It seems as though publishers think that new  editions of his novels eliminating Twain's derogatory, and, or racist words, could increase public interest in his works.  I have seen accounts of this rubbish on the news and have read some opinions on various sites containing "Mark Twain" in the news. 


Mark Twain was an  "American" author-he loved "his America".  When he traveled abroad to lecture and to write, he missed America.  He bragged about American coffee and real cream, and the trout he would catch and eat from Lake Tahoe.  He loved fried chicken and corn pone, and he loved the American people.  Mr. Twain enjoyed his travels and the people he met, who touched his life and enabled him to share their lives with us too, through his writings.  He brought back exciting and interesting stories from Europe-stories which we have enjoyed for many years. 

Here are a few of the comments I have read today on the subject-
please note: they do not necessarily reflect my personal opinions on this event.

"The nerve of these losers to correct the writings of the legendary Mark Twain"
"Do you think he's the only one to say something derogatory???  How about Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Wright?  Have all their statements been corrected?  Of course not, because they are not White...only the Whites need to be perfect."
"This comes up over and over.  Obviously Twain is college material, not High School.  Without Twain's language the books do not have the meaning and gravitas that merits their study in the first place.  Leave the books alone."
"It would be covering up and changing the history of this Country.  He wrote of the times, and used words of the times.  They should be taken at face value of that stage in history, and the story told."

*The above are only a few of the thousands of opinions that have been circulated from the "Associated Press" and "Bay News 9".

Mark Twain did not want his memoirs released until after he had been dead 100 years.  It has been said that his memoirs have been in residence at the University of California, Berkeley.  And, recently, his autobiography came out-check with  They are temporarily out of stock on this item.  See???  What's happening here is that we're bringing Mr. Twain back to life!!!    And I did vote on a poll at Bay News 9. The question was "Do you think publishers should rework Mark Twain's novels to remove what some high schools perceive as 'racist language?' " And I voted NO!  Leave well enough alone!

And let me remind these people who intend to edit Mr. Twain's writings-
Mark Twain did not invent the N word!  He was merely a product of his environment just like the rest of us,  and he lived, and lived, to tell us what it was like.  Not only was it his life, it was the lives of those many folks he broke bread with, fished with and shared stories with.  I believe he thought we could all benefit from his serious thoughts and quick humor-and, be entertained from his antics on the river through his lifelike, exciting tales of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.

"I have no color prejudices, nor caste prejudices, nor creed prejudices.  All I care to know is that a man is a human being, and that is enough for me; he can't be any worse."
~Mark 'Samuel Clemens' Twain
(my hero)

Thank you for stopping by-it was not my intention to offend anyone, and I sincerely hope I didn't.  I am merely defending the rights to leave our History as History goes!

I'm gettin' off of here now-too passionate about this ridiculous event!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"Sweetness and Honest Scrap!"

My first Blog award!

On November 18, 2009, I was graciously given this "Sweet" Blog  Award from Becky at
Just Being Me-Becky!

Actually, Becky's the sweet one.  She's a great teacher-her little students love her.  She she has compassion for all animals, and is a great wife and mom.  I felt kind of shy about the award-really don't even know where they come from.  And to think that someone you've never gotten to meet takes the time to read your stories and enjoy them.  But it's really an honor.  There are so many blogs out there-just wish I could read more of them.  It's hard to do since I work fulltime and try to write too.  You know, I have to read some before I can write, and, in some cases, I have to research the subject.  Honestly, I take my notes and some paper in a folder to work, and write when I can steal a few moments.  And if an idea hits me, I scribble it down real quick to keep from forgetting about it.  Sometimes a person can just say one word like "salad", and I'm off and writing!  Or "hornworms"-well, I actually got pictures of them!  I've only been blogging since late May-why, I still can't tell you.  I guess my brain got tired of storing all of the information that I think is funny and interesting.   

My Second Blog Award!

This award presented to me today, once again, by Becky!  WOW!  Becky received both of these awards herself.  The first award she gave me, flabbergasted me-didn't know what to do but thank her.    Apparently you are to pass them on to other "blogmates"!  And, according to Becky you are to share 5 random things about yourself and then pass this award on to 5 more "blogmates".  Do I know 5 random things about myself?  Let's find out!

1.  I always save the best for last.  And when I met my husband, I got the best-AT LAST!
2.  I do love salads-eat a salad almost everyday.  We ate salad for dinner almost daily when I  was growing up. 
3.  I enjoy being outdoors, even on a cool day.
4.  You'll find me in a t-shirt, gym pants, and barefoot- often.
5.  I love 50's and 60's Rock N' Roll.  Don't care if it gives away my age.  

So, there it is!  I hope you'll bear with me, dear readers, and allow me to get back to you on my choices to pass this award on to 5 others.   AND I hope this post, in fact,  does POST!  I am having some trouble the last few days with this blog.  I should probably leave well enough alone-quit trying to be so "unique"!  Thank you for stopping by, and THANKS BECKY! You inspire me, too!

At 47 degrees in Fort Worth around 7:57pm, I will leave you with this!

"Today you are You, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is Youer than You."
~Dr. Suess