Monday, January 23, 2017

That Special Tree

July 19, 2015


First spring moved to Virginia, I was pleasantly surprised to discover so many mulberry trees growing around my neighborhood.  I just returned from Peace Corps - Azerbaijan and still felt nostalgia for the uncomplicated life there.  So seeing a mulberry tree is like seeing an old friend from Azerbaijan.  In the village where I lived, nearly every house has a mulberry tree in its court yard.   Right before summer arrives; the mulberry begins to ripen.  Women place a huge blanket or tarpaulin beneath a mulberry tree, children kick, hit and shakes its branches playfully as instructed by their mother or grandmother.  Their playful action brings down all the ripen mulberries down to the ground.  Women collect those precious little berries and make jam for their homemade breads.  My host mother makes the best mulberry jam.  The taste of that sweet delectable glue on toast is one of my much-loved breakfasts in Azerbaijan.        


Just down the hill by where I live in Virginia , there are two mulberry trees.  One bears black fruit and the other has white berry.  The white one growing on the hillside is my favorite.  The fruits are bigger and sweeter.  The tree boughs are strong and healthy; its leaves are big with shinning dark emerald hue.  Although the tree is very tall but some of its branches bend downward and allow a petite person like me to have easy access to its fruits.  Early June, I walk by the tree every evening after work and collect its berries.  Mixing them with yoga, I eat these miracle fruits two weeks straight for lunch.  Berries of any kind are antioxidant.  Besides providing me with the best nutrition, the fruit is gift from god, free of charge.    My neighbors often stop and look at me with odd stare, drivers slowdown on sidewalk wondering what in the world I am doing.   I guess “civilized” people do not pick fruits directly from tree.  They would rather purchase them from supermarket! 


Even after the fruit picking season is over, the tree continues to intrigue me.  Its fallen fruits provide feast to many birds and squirrels.  Leftover ones decay and fertilize the earth.  After the initial acquaintance with the tree, I visit it often.  Especially on a hot summer day, its thick foliage offers a cooling canopy.  Many times, I image myself hanging a hammock under the tree, look up to the rustling leaves above my hammock, fall asleep and have many many wonderful dreams.   


One evening returning home from work, I looked up the tree and saw a bird with bright red breast, perching on a branch and singing its heart out.  Then a black squirrel rattled up and down the tree barks, chasing the bird out of its territory.  I stood there enjoying the saga unfolded.  Gradually the sky turned pale, gray and then dark.  Afterward a magic began.  Tiny sparkling of lights came into view underneath the tree.  They were fireflies.  As an urban dweller living most of my life in New York City, seeing a firefly is exciting to me.  I was acting like a little girl, chasing and catching the lights.  Despite the mosquito bite and the unbearable itches, I lingered under this special mulberry tree for as long as I could.   


That night in bed, the vision of that tree, calm, enduring, with the wind whispering through their boughs, brought sleep and memories of the peaceful periods in Azerbaijan.


Monday, January 16, 2017

January 16, 2017

Two months after the election, some folks still refuse to accept the result. Hillary and her team continue to blame others for her lost.  I dislike politician for most of them are egotistic and lack of a true motive to serve the public.  They may start with a good intention, but soon surrender to temptation; money, fame and power.  Hillary and her husband are the epitome of today politician.  I am not a fan of Trump but he had the audacity to voice what most of us afraid to say, so he is a better choice.  

While most of us are ready to move on and accept Trump to be the next president, some arrogant democrat including the Clinton, continue to play the blaming game.  It is everyone’s fault but theirs.  For them, accepting responsibility of their action is the hardest time to do.  To admit they are wrong is sin.  Not only have they lost the election, they have lost their self-respect.  I pity them.

I was a Peace Corps Volunteer.  My contribution to the world is no less than that of the president of the United States for my motive is pure and humble.  I admire candidates who run their campaign at the gross root level, visiting small towns by bus and not by private jet, asking ordinary citizen and not the Wall Street billionaires to fund their campaign, talking to mum and pop and not Hollywood celebrities about their unpretentious daily life and wearing a regular clothing and not a designer outfit to shake our hands.     

Hillary’s lost is inevitable.  Anyone runs a campaign and lives his/her public life as supercilious as hers will fail.  History will validate that.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


January 22, 2016
Over the years, I have written many adventure stories and short essays, made countless entries to my face book and blog.  My affection of writing stems from reading; and my passion of reading springs from my innate aspiration of adventure, and endless love of nature.  

My early writings, received unexpected attention from friends and strangers, but they were “raw”, marginally acceptable; plain, full of errors and as such received countless attacks from one reader.   I never paid much attention to his insensitive and cruel remarks, for I know deep down inside he enjoyed reading my stories or he would not keep analysis them and came up with those remarks.  Nonetheless, I did begin to pay more and more attention to my writing including narrative skill, appropriate grammar, and organization of storylines.  I read more intensively, when come across some good descriptive words, skillful sentences, I memorize them and try to apply them on my next writing.  Sometimes, I find myself completely lost in my reading, unaware of my surrounding and indulge myself to a piece of good adventure story.   My friends begin to think that I am growing odd, eccentric, and even anti-social.

Their reaction reminds me of a classmate in the 5th grade.  He was a quiet fellow, average student and always sat in a corner with his head down, totally absorbed in whatever he was doing.  One day, his behavior caught our teacher’s attention.   He was asked to stand up and show his hands.  What we saw was astonishing, delicate little animal figures carved out of a piece of chalk were exposed.  I don’t remember what punishment he received, but it did not stop him from carving.  He continued to live intensely in his own world making beautiful figurines.  As soon as he had a piece of white chalk in one hand and a knife in the other, he was happy.

Writing is a lonely process but it is satisfactory one. It is this strange satisfaction, this joy of molding words into sentences that gives me the most profound incentives to writing.  It is difficult to explain and hard for others to understand.  It is similar to the joy my 5th grade classmate had; his chief delight in life was to crave a figure out of a chalk.
To my friends who think I am growing odd, all I can say to them is: they have no idea of the fun I am having!   

I may never be able to sell a story for a penny, but if I have written a sentence that “sings”, I pay myself a million dollars.  

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Retirement or Not

Retirement or not
January 17, 2016

The creator of Spider man, Stanley Lieber, who is 93 years old, was asked by a reporter when he intended to retire.   He smiles and says “I enjoy what I do, why should I retire?”
His reply echoes my friend Derrick’s answer to my repeated question “when are you going to slow down, Derrick?”  His answer is always the same, “I enjoy what I do Chi!” 

After he retires, Derrick works as a translator, devotes his time to help the non-English speaking Chinese immigrants for their needs and rights.  His work is admirable but keeps him very busy.  Derrick is an old friend and an excellent hiker.  Many times, I wish he could quit his busy translating work and join me for the outdoor adventures.  My motive maybe a bit selfish, but I do want to see him enjoy his retirement and return to his passion which I always assume is “hiking”, period.

33 Retirement Wishes, Messages and Happy Retirement CardsDerrick still enjoys hiking, I am sure.  But his passion is more than just that.  Helping others is also his “zeal”.  He is one of those lucky individuals who know exactly where his heart lies and is passionate enough to pursuit that desire until the end.   “Why should he retire?”  I finally understand.  Maybe next time, when I announce that I want to retire early, in stand I should say

“ I am changing my career to which I love so much that I will never ever retire!”

Thanks Mr. Stanley and Derrick for waking me up, your insightful advice and the commendable example of life. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Life After Peac Corps - A Story of Guilt

A Story of Guilt
January 18, 2015

A famous Chinese writer once wrote a story about his boyhood recalling an innocuous but yet cruel act towards his younger brother.  One autumn day, the author found his brother hiding inside a chicken shed, instead of performed his duties as instructed; the young boy was making a paper kit enthusiastically.  The author was frustrated and angry, without a word, he stepped on the nearly finished kit and smashed it into pieces.  He left his brother in the shed with misery.  It probably took his brother many hours to make that kit.   

Years later, they both grew up as an adult.  The author became a writer and his brother was a successful business man.  That innocent conduct resurrected one day from the author’s memory and since was tormenting him.  Finally on one family gathering, the author brought up the event.  To the author’s surprise, his young brother had no recollection of the occasion and laughed at his brother for remembering such a childlike thing.  But that did not make the author feel any better.  He carried that guilty conscious well into his old age and finally confessed his remorse through his writings.  That story caught my attention and stay with me for many years.

I was also once a young innocent but hot tempered adolescent.  Many such shameless acts were placed upon my elder sister.  Today, my sister may not remember any of those instances or possible she has already forgiven me.   Yet, like the author, I have this enormous guilt living inside me…………….

To err is human, to forgive, divine.

Not sure I can forgive myself, but one thing I can do.  We once grew up together, and we can certainly grow old together…..