Friday, March 26, 2010

My Afternoon in Stockton

I had a very interesting afternoon yesterday in Stockton. It's been a few weeks since I'd last been to visit my Grandma, and I wanted to spend some quality time with her. My Dad usually spends a couple of days a week with her, and I planned my visit so that we would overlap.

Our day started out in the usual way - we met my Uncle Wes for lunch at our favorite Dim Sum restaurant, China Palace. Yum.

Dad, Uncle Wes and Grandma

After lunch, my Dad, Grandma and I went to do some grocery shopping at my new favorite (and cheap!) grocery store: WinCo!

We love Winco!

Here's when the interesting part of the day came.

We are in the midst of observing the "Ching Ming". I am learning that The Ching Ming Festival is an opportunity for celebrants to remember and honor their ancestors at grave sites.

More here on wikipedia

We went to the cemetery where my Grandpa's ashes are interred on Sunday. I didn't blog about it, as it was very similar to when we went to honor him on his birthday a couple of weeks ago. My Cousin Bruce write a small account of it here.

Anyhow, while we were in Stockton, my Grandma took my Dad and I to the Chinese Cemetery in Stockton where many of our family and friends are buried. On our way there, we stopped at a CentrOMart along the way to pick up some flowers to bring to the graves. While we were at the grocery store, I took this photo from the butcher counter. I found it interesting to find these items at the butcher counter of a traditional grocery store - I had only seen them before at Asian markets.

Pork Ears, Snouts and Tails (they also had plenty of other interesting items!

It turns out that the CentrOMart was only across the street from the high school that my parents attended - Edison High. I'm sure they've drove me past it before, but I couldn't remember, so my Dad drove by so I could take this photo!

Edison High School

Since we were in the neighborhood, my Dad decided to drive past his old house (my Grandparent's first house in Stockton, where they lived from 1951-1971). My Dad and Grandma were very pleased to see how well the current owners have taken care of it. The house and yard looked beautiful!

The Old Howard Street House

Next, we drove a couple of miles to find my Mom's old house. Again, I'm sure they have shown these houses to me before when I was a kid, but I don't remember them. I'm so glad we were able to do it yesterday!

Unfortunately, my Mom's old house isn't kept up quite as well as my Dad's old house.

My Mom's old house

Just around the corner from my Mom's old house is the Junior High School where my parents went. Pretty cool, huh? Remember, my parents had gone to school together (and had been dating the whole time!) since they were in 6th grade!

My Mom and Dad's Junior High School

We eventually made our way to the Chinese Cemetery. I don't think I've been here in 10-15 years. I was happy that I had the chance to go with my Grandma and my Dad yesterday.

The Chinese Cemetery

My Grandmother's Father was buried here when he died in 1961. I didn't know until yesterday that he was only the 2nd person buried here in the Chinese Cemetery. That would explain why his tombstone is in the front row.

My Grandma loved her father very much, and was very close to him. Unfortunately, he passed away fairly young. He was only 55. My Dad was only 13 when his Grandfather passed away.

We brought flowers, and bowed at the site of his grave. I was so glad to have the opportunity to participate in honoring him yesterday.

My Great Grandfather's tombstone

We also went to visit the grave site of my Great Grandmother, who passed way in 1991. I was fortunate to grow up knowing her.

Great Grandma's tombstone

It was a long, and very interesting afternoon. My Dad had wanted to show me the prison oops! jail (big difference!) where he was once arrested (!) but we ran out of time. Another day, another story, another blog post!

We went back to Grandma's house so she could rest for a couple of hours, before heading out to dinner.

We went to a new family favorite restaurant across town. (Can't remember the name of it right now.) My Grandmother knows the owners (my Grandma knows everyone!), and we really like the food.

I took a photo of my Grandma and my Dad, along with two of the owners of the restaurant.

Dinner Time

What a nice afternoon. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to experience this day with my Grandma and my Dad. I feel so lucky to have had the chance to go to these special places with them, and to learn more about each of them, and their lives.

Sneaky Gays

My gaydar has been broken for years - and now I have to worry about "Sneaky Gays?" I'm in big trouble. ;) I ♥ Glee!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Chow on Board!

I'm in Stockton, visiting my Grandma today. My Dad is here, visiting
too. :)

I was helping my Dad load some stuff into his trunk when I spotted
something that I hadn't seen in in many, many years. (at least 15

Tucked away in against the side of a crate that my parents keep in
their truck, I saw the instantly recognizable "Chow on Board" sign!

Way back in the mid-80s everyone had these yellow plastic signs stuck
on their car rear windows that said "Baby on Board!". I suppose the
idea was that people would drive more carefully if they knew a baby
was in the car in front of them. ;)

I think we found this "Chow on Board" sign at a local pet store. We
all thought it was hysterical. I think we kept it in/on our car for
several years.

I had forgotten all about the sign until my high school friend,
Christina, mentioned it to me a few months ago on Facebook. It had
been so long since I had seen it, I assumed it was long gone, never to
be seen again...

So, I was obviously pleasantly surprised when I spotted it in my Dad's
trunk today.

For the record, it still cracks me up. :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hamburgers, Hot Dogs & S'mores with the Cousins!

Tonight was "Cousins Night"!

The five cousins, along with our spouses, significant others, and kids got together at our house for dinner tonight.

Dick barbecued the hamburgers and hot dogs (okay, chicken apple sausages). It was such a nice day out (low 70s in SF) that we had planned an outdoor BBQ, but then the SF chilly evening came, and we all decided to eat indoors instead....

Cousins Dinner!

...except for the two little ones, who decided they wanted to stay outside, and brave the elements!

Brave, cold girls!

The highlight of the evening came when we all ventured back outside to roast marshmallows over the fire pit to make s'mores!

Here's where's the shocking truth came out:

It turns out that somehow, I've never made s'mores before! Apparently, I'm the only one in my family who has never participated in this age-old tradition. Go figure!

Cousin Bruce shows his two youngest how it's done!

And yes, you can't really see it, but there is a flame there. We have a gas fire bowl in our backyard. It was a bit windy out, so I had it turned on very low so we wouldn't have to worry about any stray, dancing flames.

Bruce & Robin's three girls

Kenneth & Cheri

Trying to roast marshmallows over the low flames

My First S'more!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Client Site Launched!

I launched a new client site last night: Ayuh Yoga.

It was a fantastic project to work on. Not only am I very happy with how the design and finished product turned out, but I also thoroughly enjoyed working with these clients.

I actually taught (color guard) most of the people on the staff of Ayuh Yoga when they were in high school in Union City 15 years ago. I lost touch with most of them over the years, but had the wonderful opportunity to become reacquainted with them via Facebook. I've enjoyed meeting up with them at different events and gatherings over the last couple of years.

It's been such a pleasure to become friends with all of these people again, and to have the chance to get to know each other as adults. It was such an honor to be asked by these friends to design and implement the web site for their new business venture.

Congratulations to the team at Ayuh Yoga!

I wish you great success in your business, and many more years of friendship! :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Only in the Castro...

Dick and I were walking on Noe Street in the Castro this evening, on our way to dinner. (Dinner at L'Ardoise! Mmmmm...)

As we were nearing the restaurant, we passed a jogger who was heading in the opposite direction. He was jogging at a good pace, and had his earphones in.

As he passed by, he said, "Cute Dress!"

LOL! Made my day! I was wearing a new dress that I had just bought last weekend.

Only in the Castro!

I love my neighborhood.

Thank You Card

How cute is this?

This is the Thank You Card that I received yesterday from my neighbor's Granddaughter. She is the 3-1/2 year old who invited me to a tea party on Tuesday.

I had brought a small gift for her - a set of Raggedy Ann and Andy book ends. I think she really loves them. :)

Obviously, her Grandmother helped her with the writing on the card, but she drew the picture of Raggedy Ann herself. I think she did a very good job - It's SO cute!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


A couple of weeks ago, I bought a new geek t-shirt.

Am I the only one noticing how small women's t-shirts are becoming?

I fully recognize that I am not as petite as I was, say, 20 years ago. But, considering the fact that I will soon be entering the fourth decade of my life, I think I'm still in pretty good shape. I could be totally fooling myself into thinking that I'm still fit, but I do workout regularly, and generally eat pretty well, and well, I think I look okay. :)

I usually wear a size Medium, and I'm perfectly okay knowing that I no longer fit well into a size small.

But, when I was selecting this shirt, I realized how small the medium seemed to be, so I grabbed a large instead.

Good thing I did. It fits well - exactly how I would want it to. (but it still seems a tad ridiculous to me.)

So, this is me.
Size: Large.

go figure.

I want to know who's responsible for deciding clothing sizes...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tea Party!

This afternoon, my Raggedy Ann and I were invited to a Tea Party, hosted by my neighbor's 3-1/2 year old Granddaughter! I brought my favorite Raggedy Ann ("Raggie") with me. She hasn't been to a tea party in decades, and was very excited! :)

posing with our Raggedy Anns

We all had a lovely afternoon. My neighbor's Granddaughter (who I'll refer to here as "A") was a wonderful hostess. She brought out her Raggedy Ann doll to meet mine, and the four of us, and "A's" Grandmother all sat down at her little table, all set up with a tiny tea set.

Tea Party!

"A" and her Raggedy Ann

Our "tea" was apple juice that "A" served to us from her tea pot. We also had heart-shaped sugar cookies that she made with her Grandmother yesterday, in preparation for the party.


"A" really fell in love my my Raggie. After our tea party, "A" took Raggie into her bedroom, and tucked her in under a blanket on her bed. Then, she sat down next to her and read some of her favorite books to Raggie.

"A" reading to Raggie

After story time was done, and dear Raggie had rested, "A" brought her back out to play for a while with some of her toys.

My Raggie was in rag doll heaven. She hadn't been played with like this by a little girl in a very long time. :)

We had such a nice afternoon at the tea party. Hopefully, "A" and her Grandma will invite us back soon. :)

Raggie and her new friend

Monday, March 15, 2010

Claude Cat-Chow

I'm very sad to report that we've lost another furry member of our family.

Claude was my parent's kitty. He passed away today after being diagnosed with ailing kidneys about a month ago. His health diminished quickly, and he had a rough last few weeks - he was on a special diet and needed to receive fluids via an IV. Sadly, he lost his appetite over the past couple of weeks, and wasn't sleeping well. My parents made the very difficult decision that his quality of life wasn't what it should be, and that it was time to let him go.

Claude was a very special cat.

Actually, as Dick once pointed out to me, he was the original "Cat Chow".

Claude was my very first cat. Dick and I adopted him from the San Francisco SPCA on May 7, 2000 - just over a week after his 3rd birthday. Dick was the one who chose Claude - he was quite taken by him when he saw him, and told me that Claude would be a great kitty to take home.

He was right.

This was before Dick and I had moved in together, so Claude moved in with me in my Condo. He was quite shy at first - he hid on top of the cabinets in my pantry, and under the armoire in my hallway for the first few days. He eventually came more comfortable in his new environment, and was a great furry companion.

Claude, about a week after he came to live with me in May, 2000.

By the time Dick and I moved in together in 2002, we asked my parents if they would adopt Claude. Dick already had Marcel and Noe living at his house, and we were afraid that Claude wouldn't be happy moving in as a third cat after he was so happy being an only cat. He had been to my parent's house to visit a few times at this point, and we all agreed that it would be best for him...

...and what a lucky cat he was!

I always teased my parents that Claude was the most happy (spoiled) cat ever. :)
He was so well loved, and so well taken care of. My parents had never had a cat before him, and they showered him with love and attention. He was so happy with them. I used to feel guilty for giving Claude away, but that went away as soon as I saw how happy he was with my parents, and how happy he made them, too.

Claude was one-of-a-kind. He was very dog-like in some of his mannerisms: he would follow my Mom wherever she went around the house, and he would always come to her when called. He would always run down the stairs to greet her when she came home (sometimes, he remembered to greet my Dad, too). ;) My Mom and Claude had a whole song and dance routine when it was time for his supper - they trained each other well. :)

Dad, Mom & Claude, Christmas, 2004

Claude had the softest coat of fur, and very long legs. We called him our Panther Cat. After he overcame his shyness in his earlier years with us, he later became a very outgoing and friendly cat to everyone he met. He loved car rides, and would even go with my Mom to visit my Grandma at her apartment. He loved walking around my parent's backyard on his harness, and especially loved to watch his birdie-friends from his sliding glass door.

Claude, sunning himself in the garden window

It was a good life. He was a very happy cat.

We will miss you, Claude. Thank you for all of the love and joy that you brought to our family.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My Old Phone

I'm spending the night at my parent's house tonight, sleeping in my
old bedroom. It looks almost exactly as it did when I was growing up.

On the wall next to my bed hangs my old telephone. It has big, huge
buttons that always made dailing quickly easy. I won many a radio
contest calling in from this phone - and that was long before the days
of speed-dailing! ;)

I just noticed a switch on the side of the phone that I had forgotten
about: it lets you choose between "pulse" or "tone".

How's that for old-school?

I doubt I could find anyone under the age of 35 who would know what a
pulse dial is.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Schizophrenic Weather

This was my status on Facebook about an hour ago:

crazy schizophrenic weather in SF today: it's cold. it's sunny! it's raining. it's sunny! it's windy. it's cloudy. it's raining. it's sunny! it's pouring..... waiting for the hail to wrap it all up.

Then, wouldn't you know it... within 20 minutes or so, we had a hail storm!

I took this photo of our back deck. The size of some of the hail was almost pea-sized!

Hail on the Deck!

Then, we had a pretty rainbow!

The Rainbow Connection...

Another 15 minutes or so later, and we had yet another hail storm!

This one seemed to last longer than the first.

I took another photo - this one is of our putting green in our backyard.
(yes, we have a putting green in our backyard... ;) )

Our putting green, covered in white...

What strange weather we've had today. It's about 30 minutes later, and the sun is out again...

Maybe it'll all repeat the pattern again. :)

Sunday, March 07, 2010

In Honor of Grandpa's Birthday

Today would have been my Grandpa Chow's 88th Birthday.

Our family met today at the Memorial Park where he was interred. (we've been back on several occasions already, so this wasn't the first time.)

My Grandma is so good about following the traditions passed to her by her ancestors, and she has done such a good job of teaching and passing these traditions down to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

I hesitated asking if I could take this photo, but Grandma said it was okay. I thought it would be good to document what it is that we do for these occasions. I know the symbolism of some of the items, and am still learning what other things mean.

We always present the basics: incense, a chicken, roasted pork, three bowls of rice, and three small cups filled with whiskey. I should look up the meaning behind each of these items, but I do know that the three bowls of rice and cups of whiskey are offerings to the gods. The oranges and tangerines symbolize luck and wealth. The other items - the dim-sum and bao were some of Grandpa's favorites. We also had cookies (with birthday candles!) for his birthday. The tradition of presenting all of this food is so that the deceased can enjoy their favorite foods.

I learned about another specific part of the tradition today. I've always known that the chicken head should face forward - towards the grave. I learned today that you also pull off the bottom part of the beak of the chicken and break off the tips of the wings. My Auntie told me today that the reason why you break off the bottom of the beak is so the chicken cannot talk badly about your family. :)

After we offer the food, we burn (fake) money (so we can send them money in the afterlife), and more incense.

I really value the traditions that my Grandma has passed along to our family. I've learned that these are Old-World traditions, which are still regularly practiced in the rural Southern Villages in China where our family is from. As people move to more urban areas, they stop following many of these traditions, which I think is a shame. It seems like such an important tie to one's culture and heritage.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Reunion at the Regional

I had a really fantastic afternoon/evening today in Union City. Today was the local WGI Regional, held at Logan High School, where I helped teach the color guard many moons ago.

I saw so many old friends - some of whom I see once a year or so, but some that I hadn't seen in over 20 years, and only recently reconnected with over Facebook!

Here are a few photos:

Esther, Trina & Aki

This reunion was most amazing - I haven't seen either of these girls (women? ladies?!) since 1985. That's almost 25 years! Esther and Aki marched in an Elementary School Prep guard that my friend, Milton, and my sister used to teach. They were in 5th grade (or so) back then! We got reacquainted last year on Facebook, which has been wonderful. When I mentioned on my Facebook status recently that I was planning to go to the regional, they decided to come - neither of them had been to a guard show since the mid-90s, or earlier. So wonderful to see these two again!

I just found a photo of when Esther and Aki marched. I think it's from 1985. They are the first two on the left side. Look how cute!

Vinci Park Pirates Color Guard, 1985

Chad, Nikki, Scott & Trina

Here's a photo of most of the Logan HS Color Guard staff from '94-'95. I don't think the 4 of us have been back together since then. Wow. 15 years.

Chad, Trina, Josie and Teri

Josie and Teri were in the guard while we taught at Logan. They both started at Alvarado Middle School in the early 90s when Scott and Nikki first started the program there. Amazingly, Teri's oldest daughter is in her second year in Alvarado's guard!

Philip & Chad

Two of my dear friends. They haven't seen each other in years. We all live in San Francisco. Hopefully, we can all get together more often.

Diana & Chad

Diana - my "oldest" color guard friend. (and when I say old, of course, I mean in the number of years that we've known each other - not our age!) Diana and I met when I was 14 and she was 15. We met at "try-outs" for Sparks - the color guard that we both marched in the mid-80s. Diana is a dear, dear friend.

I'm so fortunate to have so many wonderful people in my life. It's quite remarkable to me how long our friendships have lasted, and how we still are in each others lives. Who knew so many great friendships would develop from learning how to spin a flag. :)

Friday, March 05, 2010

Flute Power!

I had a really nice visit today with some old high school friends: Kimi, Missy and Sabrina. I had kept in touch with Kimi, and saw Missy last year, but as a group, we hadn't seen each other in years - perhaps since we were all in high school.

We all played flute together when we were in our High School Marching Band. We had all reconnected sometime last year on Facebook, and finally found a day and time where the four of us could get together for an hour or so. Everyone has such busy schedules these days, but we were happy to squeeze in a little time together.

It's so great reconnecting with everyone after so many years. So interesting to get to know each other as adults, and hear about their lives now - their families, careers, etc.,

Such a nice afternoon. I look forward to seeing you all again!

Sabrina, Missy, Kimi & Trina

Monday, March 01, 2010

The "Over the Shoulder Cat Butt" Gun

Oh, dear. Noe is going to be so embarrassed...

Unfortunately, I turned off the camera before the very end. Right after I turned it off, Noe looked over her shoulder, and ever-so-calmly said, "Mew". :)