Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Muppets Sing Bohemiam Rhapsody

Two great things that go great together...

Oh, how I love the Muppets!
They always make me smile. :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Introducing "Chico"!

I've been meaning to post this picture for a few days.
When I was in Stockton last week, my cousin, Bruce, drove up with his three daughters (who I refer to as my nieces, which I understand can be a bit confusing).

Chico is the latest member of their family.

You see, Youngest (Bruce likes to keep the names of his daughters private, so he refers to them as Eldest, Middle and Youngest) has been wanting a pet dog for a while. Unfortunately, Bruce's current position requires him to travel a lot, and the family agreed early on that they would not be able to get a new pet until after this position ends (next summer). Poor Youngest - she has had a pet dog and a pet rat, but she wasn't quite old enough at the time to really enjoy them. Now that she's older, she's ready to have a pet, but will have to wait a bit longer.

The compromise:

Chico is a stuffed-animal life-sized dog that Youngest convinced her Mom to buy. He's adorable, and apparently, goes everywhere with them (which is why I had the pleasure of meeting Chico in Stockton). Chico is always waiting by the front door when the family comes home, and he rides in the back seat, with his head between the two youngest girls when they go out for a drive. He even has his own collar! He's clean, cute, obedient and always happy! What more could you want from a pet?

I told Bruce that he only needs to really worry if we ever see Youngest taking Chico for a walk around the neighborhood. ;)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gift Exchange Name Generator

At last! I've been looking for something like this for the last couple of years.

I believe that both my family as well as Dick's family plan on drawing names for our Christmas gift exchange this year.

In the past, we drawn names out of a hat, but that doesn't always work because sometimes someone draws the name of an immediate family member that they were already planning to buy a gift for.

Today, I did a search on Bing, and came up with this:

Free Name Drawing Utility

It's fantastic, and very easy:

Step 1: type in all of the names of the people involved

Step 2: Add Constraints (you can lay out rules or constraints for individuals who shouldn't buy for each other)

Step 3: the list is generated!

Handy Dandy!

It was Eleven Years Ago, Today...

Dick and I never celebrated any anniversary dates until after we got married, but I always remembered that the first time we met was the Sunday before Thanksgiving, 1998.

We met through our mutual friend, Alice, who passed our phone numbers to each of us, and we went on what I like to say was the first and only blind date I ever went on.

We met at the Tully's on Castro Street (at 4:00pm), but after Dick found out that I don't actually drink coffee, we made our way across the street to The Patio Restaurant where we hung out for a couple of hours. I remember we talked about Macs vs. PCs, Star Wars vs. Star Trek... you know, things every couple talks about on their first date. :)

I never really paid attention to the exact date that we met - only that it was the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I just looked at my calendar to see what date it actually was, and what do you know? It was Sunday, November 22nd! :)

So, today in every way, is the 11th Anniversary of the day that I met the man who would later become my husband. &heart;

It's too bad the Tully's is no longer there. It's now a cigar/smoke store. The Patio has been closed for years, but has been under construction lately, and is threatening to open again soon. :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Kitten Ball!!

Dick and Noe are playing "Kitten Ball" - in which Dick does the Heisman Pose and Noe does her best impersonation of a football. ;)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Observing Chinese Mourning Traditions

I believe I am correct in saying that my Grandmother is the person in Stockton who people in the Chinese community call to ask questions about traditional rituals regarding births, weddings and funerals. My Grandma is a wealth of information, and these traditions are very important to her.

My family and I are learning about many of these traditions, trying our best to follow all of them. Some I knew about, and many I didn't.

I know that these traditions may be different for different families. These are the traditions that my Grandmother and my family will follow in honor to mourn the death of my Grandfather:

For the next 30 days, we will not wear anything with the colors red, or pink. We also must not wear anything with floral prints.

We will not attend any kind of celebrations for the next month: no parties, weddings, or social gatherings.

For the 3-days of funeral-related events, we will not wear watches or jewelry. (wedding bands are acceptable.)

I spent the day in Stockon today. My cousin and my niece (my cousin's eldest daughter) assisted our Great Aunties in assembling the red and white envelopes. The white envelop contained a piece of hard candy as well as some denomination of money. (in our case, a quarter.) The red envelope contains money as well.

The envelopes are given to people who will come to the house to pay their respect. They must eat the candy before they leave - the sweetness of the candy is meant to take away the bitterness of the death. The money is meant to be spent on something sweet as well. It must be spent, and not saved.

We had quite an assembly line going between the 6 of us, and assembled about 750 envelops in total. They will also be distributed at the funeral.

I am proud that my Grandmother continues these traditions, and honored that she is passing them along to each of us.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In Loving Memory of Chuck Chow

March 7, 1922 - November 18, 2009

Chuck Chow

The world lost a great man today.
My Grandpa, Chuck Chow, passed away peacefully late this morning, surrounded by his loved ones, at the age of 87.

My Grandpa lived an extraordinary life - it was very full, very fulfilled, and full of love.

Grandpa celebrating his 87th Birthday with his children, his wife, and his Great-Granddaughters

I'm not sure if my Memory or knowledge of his life is entirely accurate, but this is how I remember it:

Chuck Chow was born on March 7, 1922. He was adopted by a family in a small Chinese Village in Southern China who did not have a son. He was raised by his mother, his Grandmother and his Great Grandmother. He went to school, and worked in the rice fields of his village.

He was the first person to leave his village in the early 1940s at the age of 16 or 17. He came to the United States after having found someone in California who he paid to "sponsor" him by claiming he was related. He changed his surname to that of his sponsor.

He moved to Stockton, California, and quickly found a job to earn money. He wasn't in the country very long before he found he was drafted to serve in the US Army during World War II. He was trained in Hawaii, then went to fight in the war. One of his commanders warned him to stay near him so that his own squadron wouldn't accidentally fire at him, mistaking him for Japanese.

Chuck Chow serving in World War II

After the war, he was stationed in Tokyo, Japan to work at the Imperial Palace.

When he finished his service in the military, he returned to California, then travelled back to his old village in Southern China where he took part in an arranged marriage to my Grandmother, May. She was only 16. He was 23. They had never met before they were married.

Chuck and May Chow, 1947

Chuck and May moved to Stockton together where they raised 4 children: Henry, Billy, Lani and Wesley.

Chow Family, 1953

Chow Family visiting Disneyland, 1961

My Grandfather worked as a butcher at the local Central Mart Grocery Store. He retired in the late 80s. He stayed in touch with, and always sent back money to his family's village in China.

My Grandparents were very active in the Chinese Community in Stockton, and was especially active within the Chow Association.

Proud Grandpa with Tiffini and Bruce, 1969

My Grandfather was a world traveler, and loved going to new places and learning about different cultures. My Grandparents took their first trip back to China, and their villages in Southern China in the early 80s. They took all of their children to their villages in 1987, then took another trip with their children, and 3 of their Grandchildren (including me and my sister) in 1992. When we were there, we were able to see the village that my Grandfather grew up in: the fields he worked in, the small room where he went to school, and even the tiny room in which he was born. We saw the new school building which he had helped fund, as well as the new village gate. We also met his mother, and were able to celebrate her 90th birthday with her, their village, and all of the neighboring villages.

Wesley, Chuck and Henry in front of Grandpa's Village Gate, 1987

Chow Family in China, 1992

Last year, in March of 2008, at the age of 86, my Grandparents were able to go on a trip with their two youngest Grandchildren, now in their 20s, to share their villages with them as well. My Grandfather loved the trip, was incredibly active, and walked the entire time.

My Grandfather shared his life with all of us by showing us where he came from, and the sacrifices he made for all of us by being brave enough to move the United States at age 16 to truly live the American Dream. I am eternally grateful for the opportunities that he has opened up for all of us.

My earliest memory of my Grandfather was probably when I was 3 or 4 years old. My family was living in Modesto, CA, and my Grandfather was visiting from Stockton. I remember that he brought two pairs of training chopsticks with him to teach my sister and I how to properly use them. One pair was pink, the other was blue. They were made of plastic, and had tiny little Chinese figurines on top of each stick. I remember his patience with me as he tried to explain the proper technique to a 4-year old.

I'm chuckling to myself as I recall another story from just a couple of years ago. My sister and I tried to visit my Grandparents every few months to take them out to lunch, and them run some errands (usually at Costco) afterward. We almost always had dim sum for lunch together. There was one time a couple of years ago when my Grandfather noticed that I was holding my chopsticks incorrectly. He had to teach me all over again the proper technique! :)

Whenever my sister and I would come for our weekday visits, we were able to observe one of my favorite and most endearing habits of my Grandfather: Every weekday at 3:00, he would drive to the Mall to meet his friends. They would go to McDonald's, order a senior discount coffee, sit down, and people watch together. He did this for years. Sometimes, I would call my Grandparents house in the afternoon, my Grandmother would answer, and she would always say that my Grandpa was "at the Mall". The memory of this still makes me smile.

Grandpa, Tiffie and Grandma ordering Dim Sum, 2008

My Grandfather lead a very full life - he was very active - socially, mentally and physically for more than 86 years. He really only slowed down due to his medical problems over the last few months.

My Grandfather was married to my Grandma for more than 62 years. On their 60th Anniversary, the entire family (that's 20 of us in total!) went to Las Vegas for a few days to celebrate together. What a great time it was. It makes me so happy knowing that we were all able to do that together.

Grandpa and Grandma celebrating their 60th Wedding Anniversary
April, 2007

My Grandfather was a great man. He shaped the lives of his wife, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He allowed us all the ability to lead great lives full of opportunity and love.

Just a few months ago, at the end of August of this year, the entire gathered together to have a professional portrait taken. The last time we had a full-family portrait was in 1982 - we were long over-due. My Grandparent's children and grandchildren all chipped in to have the portraits taken as a gift to Grandma and Grandpa. I cannot express how glad we all are that we were able to have this done while Grandpa was still here with us.

The entire Chow Family (minus Cousin Bruce), August 2009

I am eternally grateful to have been able to have had my Grandpa in my life for over 39 years. He is tremendously loved, and will be forever missed.

Goodbye, Grandpa. I will always love you.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Case of "The Mystery Gift"

A couple of weeks ago, right after Dick and I returned home from our vacation, Dick received a package in the mail (or was it UPS?). In it was a copy of the book "One Fantastic Ride".

Apparently, this book was just published. We had first seen it while we were in one of the Sports stores on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill while we were there in October. Dick picked it up, read through it a bit, and looked through the photos. He considered buying it there and then, but remembered that we were on vacation, and that it would add to the weight of our luggage.

I reminded him that the holidays were coming up, and that this would make a great suggestion. When we saw his family that night, we mentioned the book, and one of his sisters told us not to buy it.

We were home for only a day or so before he received it in the mail.

It came only in the cardboard box - no invoice with the sender's name, and no gift card. We figured one of his family members were really on top of things, so Dick emailed his Dad and his two sisters, thanking them, and asking which one of them sent it.

No one responded.

So, we figured, that maybe they forgot to respond?

I was exchanging emails with one of my sister-in-laws, Kathy, today, and remembered to ask if she had sent the book. She said she couldn't take credit. She asked Meg (Dick's other sister) and found out that she hadn't sent it either. Kathy suggested that perhaps her daughter, Adrianne had sent it to Dick, and to ask her.

I emailed Adrianne and asked her if she wanted to claim the title of "gift giver" but she said it wasn't her, either. She suggested that perhaps the publisher had just heard how much Dick loves UNC. :)

That made me laugh, because when I mentioned the book to my parents a couple of weeks ago, they suggested that maybe the school sent it to Dick because they know how much he loves their basketball team. :)

So, it's still a mystery. Dick has had enough time now to read the entire book, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Does anyone want to take credit as the mystery gift sender?

Thank you to whoever it was!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Good Day/Bad Day

Today was one of those mixed-bag kind of days:

I found out in the early afternoon that Dick's building at work 9and all of the buildings around it) were without power. Apparently, it had been going in and out all morning, but the last time it happened, it lasted for hours.

so, that's not good.

It's hard to work on computers all day without power.

Dick called me around 1:00 telling me about the power outage, and asking if I was free for lunch. His boss was in town (from Seattle) for meetings all day, but since they couldn't get any work done without power, they decided to come to San Francisco for lunch. He asked if I would be able to pick them up from the Caltrain station.

I picked them, and we headed to the Ferry Building for lunch.

We had a very yummy lunch at Slanted Door!

Very good.

We had parked in a metered spot on the Embarcadero, and had until 3:00 - which gave us about an hour for lunch.

A few minutes before 3:00, I offered to run down to the car to check on it (or feed the meter), but we were just finishing up, and were waiting for the bill, so Dick and his boss both agreed that we could all wait, and we'd only be a few minutes late, and I'm sure it'll be just fine....

You know where this is going, right?

We get back to our car at 3:05, only to see a line of tow trucks on the Embarcadero, and yes, there's my MINI before towed away in front of our eyes.



We all three failed to noticed the "No Parking after 3:00" sign hiding behind a tree a few cars down. Now, I will say this for the SF towing company they are very efficient. Go figure.

So, we get the information about where we're supposed to pick my car up, and take a cab across town....

I walked in, was helped right away, was asked for the make/model of my car, gave them my drivers license, they look up my car, and print up my bill:

SF Admin Fee - Excluding Tickets: $155.75
$ - Extra Dolly or Flatbed Fee $43.75
Tow - Passenger Vehicle: $174.25
Passenger Storage Vehicle: $0.00

Total: $373.75


..and you know there's more coming...

She gives me my receipt, directs me to the car lot, where I had another guy my receipt.

He tracks down my car (which really, was there for less than 5 minutes) and brings it to me...

...with a parking ticket on the windshield:

Parking Ticket: $83.00

Grand Total: $456.75


So, there you have it. One of those days.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Dinner with the Timbangs :)

Michael & Leilani

Tonight, I had a wonderful evening with two friends that I hadn't seen in a very long time.

I taught Michael and Leilani way back in 1994 and 1995 when they were both sophomores (and later juniors) in high school! I was one of their color guard instructors at James Logan High School. I can't believe that was 15 years ago.

After I finished teaching, I moved to San Francisco, and they finished high school, went to college, started their careers, etc., Oh, yes, and during that time, they also started dating (they were friends in middle school and high school, but didn't date then) and they got married last year!

Through the wonders of the internet (blogs and Facebook) we have reconnected over the past year and a half or so. It's been so wondering reconnecting with them, and learning more about them and their lives.

Michael and I ran into each other in January of this year at MacWorld. We figured it must have been at least 10 years since we'd last seen each other. It's probably been about that long since I've seen Leilani.

We've been trying to figure out a time to get together since then, and we finally managed to do that tonight! Yay!

I really loved sitting down and chatting with them for a couple of hours. It's funny how we've all stayed in touch now via blogs and Facebook, but there's nothing like seeing each other face-to-face.

Thank you for the visit, Michael & Leilani. What a wonderful treat it was. I'm looking forward to seeing you both again soon!