Downward-Facing Dog

After yoga class Saturday, I checked out a nearby farmers market and ran across this sculpture that recalled yoga’s downward-facing dog pose.


Buddha’s Hand

A friend grew this citrus fruit, called a Buddha’s hand. From wikipedia, “In China, the Buddha’s hand fruit is a symbol of happiness, longevity and good fortune.” And that’s an excellent wish for the balance of this year and for the new year!

Continue reading Buddha’s Hand

Liebster Award

I have been nominated for the Liebster Award, which discovers and recognizes new bloggers. I truly appreciate the recognition of this award by Dennis Wagoner, as well as the comments and likes from folks reading this blog. Thank you all very much!

Dennis’s blog, A Trivial Mind at Work, covers life and shares my interest in photography, nature, and travel. Dennis and I are both interested in math.

The Rules: If you have been nominated for Liebster Award and accept it, you are required to follow a few rules.

  • Write a post about the Liebster Award.
  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Post a link to the person’s blog who nominated you on your blog.
  • Answer all the 11 questions provided by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 deserving blogs, who have a follower count of less than 1000. (You can also nominate who has already received this award.)
  • Create a new list of 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
  • List out all the rules in your blog post.
  • Do not forget to inform the nominees. You can do this by commenting on their blog post. Most importantly, give a link for them to your post.

The Questions: Dennis posed these questions, with my responses.

  1. Why do you write? I started writing a blog when I retired three years ago to add a narrative to our travel photos, capturing memories and what worked well for us. The process of writing helps me organize and express my thoughts. The blog reflects our interests — art, food, travel, culture, photography, history, wildlife, California native plants, and the environment — and provides a durable record that we can revisit and share.
  2. What do yo do to ‘get away from it all’? We’re fortunate to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and we’re very happy staying here. That said, we like variety. We’ve travelled a lot to Europe, the East Coast, and Hawaii.
  3. What is next on your list of big things to do? We’re planning a trip to Southeast Asia, preparing by reading history and guidebooks.
  4. What one thing during your school years would you have done differently if you knew then what you know now? Part of me wishes I had tried harder socially. But I’m happy with how life has turned out, so I’d probably stand pat.
  5. What is your favorite all-time blog post (could be yours or from another blog – please include a link if you can)? My favorite blog post is Paris is one of our favorite cities, and Theodora Brack’s breezy style is enchanting.
  6. What is your idea of ‘success’? Success is doing what is meaningful and valuable to you. At the end of the day, you want to be able to look back and have few regrets about missing out on something important to you. Deciding what’s meaningful can be a difficult, personal, and change over time. Our health care provider gave us a life care planning booklet that asks about values: if I were having a good day, I would be doing the following; life would no longer be worth living if I want not able to _________; life would no longer be worth living if I had to _________. My whole life, I’ve wondered what I want to be when I grow up. I never quite figured it out, and these questions are even harder!
  7. What makes up your favorite meal? My taste in food has changed the past few years, as we pay more attention to what we eat and moved to a Mediterranean diet. Despite this new knowledge of what’s good for me, a recent rib roast dinner with family was wonderful, and I can’t think of anything better!
  8. What advice would you give a new blogger? Write about what’s important to you. Write for yourself, and with time you’ll find your voice. Writing isn’t easy — it takes practice and time. Blogging has to be important enough to consistently put aside other things you enjoy or need to do.
  9. What are your impediments to writing a blog post? Selecting a subject and having the time to prepare and write the post. As with any communication, the hardest part is deciding what not to say.
  10. Who gives you the most encouragement? My wife, other family, friends, and other bloggers are all important. But you have to find value from within, to be satisfied with what you’ve thought through, felt, and written.
  11. What every-day chore do you despise? I’ve learned to put up with the everyday chores that have to be done, so fortunately I don’t despise any. If someone else would take out the garbage, that’d be great. But that’s not going to happen, so I take out the garbage.

The Nominations

  1. Cornel Apostol at Cornel Apostol.
  2. Matthias at Wildlife Weeks.
  3. Colin at A tramp in the woods.
  4. Gin at Darwin on the rocks.
  5. Creative thinker.
  6. Blue dot.
  7. Billy at Billy’s Travel Album.

The Eleven questions

  1. Why do you write?
  2. What’s next on your list of big things to do?
  3. What one thing during your school years would you have done differently if you knew then what you know now?
  4. Who said something to you that really encouraged you as a child?
  5. What is your favorite all-time blog post (could be yours or from another blog – please include a link if you can)?
  6. What advice would you give a new blogger?
  7. What are your impediments to writing a blog post?
  8. Who gives you the most encouragement?
  9. What is your idea of ‘success’?
  10. What gives you happiness?
  11. What are you trying to learn or improve?

I enjoy blogging, and I hope to continue for a while. Once again, my thanks to Dennis for the Liebster Award nomination. My best wishes to Dennis, the folks I nominated, and Theodora Brack.


PB — Personal Best

A few weeks ago, my yoga class was doing a supported headstand, where you stand on your head and elbows with your feet in the air. A gray-haired lady near me had trouble raising her feet up, which gives everyone trouble. I felt she was close. After class I suggested that she move her elbows closer together, clasping her elbows with her hands to start. I showed her the arm position and the headstand. After the next class, she came to me and said she had just done the headstand. I congratulated her. She had just achieved a personal best (PB)!

When we learn something new, which is all the time, we need to celebrate PBs and the hard work it takes. Some poses are hard, especially poses with balance or flexibility, and I feel I can never do the new pose. But seeing other students do the pose encourages me to keep working at it, and sometimes I eventually get it.

Reaching a PB, such as achieving a new pose or holding it longer or more steady, feels good . Helping another student achieve a PB also feels good. PBs help keep us going. Here’s to enjoying PBs by taking a moment to bask in the warmth they bring.

Retirement at Two Months

Before you retire, you wonder if retirement will work out for you.  Today marks two months of retirement.  Retirement has been good so far, with no surprises.  The long list of chores that you don’t have time for during a weekend is much shorter now.

Retiring just before Labor Day, retirement seemed like a long vacation at first.  Then there was a Monday when it sunk in that I didn’t have to go to work. I don’t miss work and the pressure, and no one misses the commute.  I miss talking with some people at work. I’m doing things important to me: traveling, doing this blog, going to more yoga classes, taking pictures, and improving my photography and gardening skills.

Last week American Airlines had a sale, and we purchased tickets to visit Chicago after Thanksgiving.   The really cheap seats disappeared in a day so in Hong Kong we bought the tickets we reserved the morning before in Yangshuo.  First time we bought airline tickets without our managers’ approval.  With retirement, you have more time than money, so being able to jump on travel sales is much appreciated.

A surprise about my 401k.  We read recommendations to invest in low-expense mutual funds and ETFs.  I’ve been asking for the actual expenses for the mutual funds in my 401k for several weeks.  We are provided estimated expenses, but  I learned the hard way that actuals may vary from estimates.  A supervisor at ING, the custodian for my 401k, told me today that ING doesn’t know the actual expenses for the mutual funds offered in our 401k and I can contact the management company for each mutual fund to get this information.  I told the supervisor that with over 100,000 people in the savings plan, ING should collect and provide this information as a service to the investors.  But the ING supervisor promised no action and could not provide the contact at my former employer who oversees ING.  As a retiree, I can rollover my 401k funds to a company that knows, manages, and discloses expenses to the investors.  And I will do this.

The best 5 years

We recently retired.  It seems like we’ve worked forever, so retirement is a big change and a bit scary.

When I was 50, a wise friend asked “When are the best 5 years of the rest of your life?” The best 5 years of the rest of my life start today.  And now, years later, the best 5 years of the rest of our lives start today.

These are stories of how we spend our best 5 years.