90 years

It’s hard to comprehend, but Mom would’ve been 90 years old yesterday. From her childhood in Bangkok to a suburban life in North Jersey and retirement in southern California, she packed so much into a life of 87 years.

2004 — A portrait before the Alzheimer’s took hold. Her eyes still speak to every joy and pain experienced in a life lived across two hemispheres.

It’s often said you don’t know much about people until they die. There’s a lot of truth to that.

We knew her as “Mom” after all. She was the one who walked you to school on that first day of kindergarten; the one who would hug you when your 5-year-old ego was bruised and you sat pouting in the corner. She comforted you when that cold made your nose so full you were sure each breath would be your last. Mom also made sure you didn’t fail to practice your clarinet or violin for at least 30 minutes a day or wash the dishes after dinner.

In her life before us, she was the one who ran around Bangkok raising money and scavenging much-needed equipment for agencies serving the disabled. She worked in hospitals and hospices comforting the dying, and farang (foreigners) who were far from home. She had ties with the United Nations and the World Health Organization. She knew people with titles like “princess” and “dame.”

She decided to take leave of her international life, marry dad and raise a family in a modest New Jersey suburb.

When she and Dad thought it was safe for us to be latchkey kids, she studied for her nursing boards and went back to work. She was a good boss who loved her work.

Those were external things we never really saw as kids.

What we did see was a woman who valued wisdom above all and learned from every experience and every moment. She had a remarkable capacity for forgiveness and never lost her sense of sanook, that wonderful Thai quality of seeking the positive in everything.

We will  never know the debt we owe her.

URSULINE SCHOOL — Mom, far left, poses with her class at her beloved Ursuline school in Bangkok. She had the highest praise and warmest memories of her time there, especially for the work the sisters did. I suspect Mom’s inspiration for her life of service was based on the role models she had at school. 
1953 — At age 31.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Through (2)

Pinhole photography has always fascinated us. With the passing of film*, we wondered whether it could be done mechanically using a digital camera rather than using the software version that’s available on some cameras. After a little experimentation with shutter and aperture settings, a black piece of cardboard with pinhole in it, and a little (cringe) tape, we think we got it working, or some reasonable approximation, with no digital monkeying.

*We don’t really believe film is dead. Just taking a little nap.

So, our second weekly challenge entry is through a pinhole. (and below, more weekly challenge entries to love!)

STARS AND STRIPES -- Our wind-blown porch flag.
EARLY BLOOMER --A half-unfurled coreopsis flower greets Saturday's sunlight.
TEAPOT -- A closeup of a teapot made in my aunt's ceramics shop in Bangkok. A beloved memento of a trip there more than a decade ago.


And the “mother site”: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/weekly-photo-challenge-through/

LITTLE TEAPOT -- Several visitors to The Interface have asked about the teapot mentioned above. Sorry, not a great shot, wanted to get this up ASAP. It's small, holding about two cups'worth, but was made with loving hands.


My adventurous cousin has provided more photos from her extensive sojourn in China, this time in Xi’an in central China, whose settlement dates back at least to the neolithic.


Elaborately painted roof trusses in Xi'an
Elaborate designs and bright colors mark these roof trusses in Xi'an.
Lanterns Grace the Streets
Red lanterns grace the streets in Xi'an.
Looking out the window of an ancient building.
A window in an ancient building opens onto the modern in Xi'an.
Elaborate Garbage Can
Even the garbage cans are beautiful -- this dragon-topped bronze garbage can cover keeps the aesthetics right in Xi'an.



Sweeter than honey.

My cousin in Bangkok loves ruang phung (“honeycomb”) flowers. Coming home from work, she was surprised to see a vase full of them. She loved these flowers that grew at her old house. Alas, the plant could not move with the family. She missed the sweet fragrance and how the shrub would explode into a yellow mass, alive with bees.  The gray cat in the background, Sour Orange, does not seem to share my cousin’s enthusiasm for these spectacular blooms.

ruang phung flowers
Ruang phung flowers brightened my cousin's day.