Friday, February 27, 2009


One of my jars of shells

Since I was little, I have been a collector of things. It all started with bottle caps, and then Model planes, cars, aquarium fish, birds, old coins, stamps, books…

The Biggest shell in the world - South Padre Island

Cowrie shells

You name it and I probably had them in some sort of collection, at some time in my life. One of the things I treasure most is my shells. I’ve bought books on them, sought out rare ones, collected sand and shells from every beach I’ve ever had the pleasure of combing.
I can spend hours walking on the beach listening to the surf crashing and seeking out these elusive little trinkets. I’ve even made a lamp from a vase full of shells.

The amazing thing about these beautiful creations of God is its intricate design, colors and patterns.

Some even have legends attached to them.
The Legend of the Sand Dollar will be in another Blog.

Naturally cut cross-section of shell
Artists, engineers and even architects sometimes get their inspiration and copy their designs from nature. Frank Lloyd Wright used shell-like spiral forms when he designed the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City

“I have the world's largest collection of seashells. I keep it on all the beaches of the world.... Perhaps you've seen it.” Steven Wright

If God bothered to put so much creative process and work into sea shells; He must have so much more planned out for you and I!

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous – and how well I know it” Psalm 139:13, 14 (NLT)

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. Psalm 24:1, 2

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Memories of Surf and Sand

When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t believe my eyes; it snowed again last night.
Just when I was looking forward to longer and sunnier days!

Footprints in the snow and sand

A beach just doesn't have the same appeal when it's covered with snow

An unusual sight greeted me when I took a short walk along the seawall. It didn’t really fit the typical scenario; a beach scene with palm trees, but it was coated with a dusting of snow.

As I took in the unusual sight; my mind was transported to a warmer beach setting. Palm fronds waving in the tropical breeze and the surf washing over the beach.

“Happy is the soul that has something to look backward to with pride, and something to look forward to with hope.” Oliver G. Wilson

Hope is a powerful quality in human beings. Like a stroke of a brush; it paints over the dark clouds; it covers up those moments that are less than perfect.

I can’t help but dream of the days ahead when I can revisit my favorite places; travel to new places, feel the sand under my feet and the sun in my face.

“Keep your heart open to dreams. For as long as there's a dream, there is hope, and as long as there is hope, there is joy in living.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Garden

10 inch bloom on Tree Peony

The hobbies and things of interest in my life are many and varied, but one of the most refreshing and soul-satisfying activity, is tending to my garden. Ever since I moved into my present home, I’ve invested much time and resources into this veritable “Eden” of mine. I started out with restoring and repairing the lawn, which was damaged through years of neglect.

I landscaped and built a, “16 by 8” feet high trellis, followed by a low trellis. A year later I added a gazebo, which proved to be an interesting project. The biggest challenge was to put up the top rafters, and secure it in place. I put in a pond and then enlarged it a year later. A mowing edge, comprising a few hundred, 100 year-old bricks salvaged from the chimney of a demolished old house, was the final, backbreaking achievement in my backyard garden.

A garden wouldn’t be complete without the plants and trees. Due to budget constraints, most of the plants were grown from seeds and castoffs from friend’s gardens. It took sometime for the six varieties of clematis to eventually creep up and cover the gazebo, but it was certainly worth the wait and all the years of pruning. In my tiny backyard garden, I have managed to squeeze in fruit-bearing trees; an espaliered apple tree; a Chinese pear; a wonderfully sweet peach tree that has become overgrown; a grape vine; a black currant bush, and a Rainier cherry tree grown from a seed.

I love taking close-up shots of flowers

As much as I have enjoyed the fruit of my labor; it’s also the wildlife that has made my garden their home that amazes me. Three pairs of hummingbirds have made it their seasonal home; visiting me twice a day from spring to fall. Once, a Greater blue Heron landed right in my pond looking for a quick meal. Migrating birds stop over and wash themselves in the bird bath and eat from one of my many bird-feeders. There are even some Chickadees that have nested in the bird houses that sit atop the trellis. The occasional Monarch butterfly that flits and flies from the Bee Balm to the Mallows makes every visit in my garden special.

Tiny little hummingbird hovering over the fountain

It’s a lot of work to maintain this backyard garden, but I enjoy every moment and look forward to every spring and summer burst of colors from the many flowering plants.

"You will always reap what you sow. So don't get tired of doing what is good. Don't get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time." Galatians 6:7-9

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Want A Snack?

It’s amazing that anywhere you go around the world, people love to snack. They are served either hot or cold, on skewers, in plastic containers, or wrapped in banana leaf. Some are so aesthetically pleasing to the eye that you don’t feel like eating it.
Yet, there are some snacks so exotic they really belong in a glass display in a entomologist’s library.

In some poorer countries like Ghana, where children have not tasted cookies or candies, they snack on bananas.

Growing up in a household of eight, I remember always coming home to find snack food on the table. Mom somehow always found the energy and time to make all kinds of snacks for the family. The only problem was, as kids, we preferred snacks over real food.

Sometimes Christians are the same way, we prefer tidbits to the Word; we rather read “Chicken Soup for the Soul” than do serious Bible study to strengthen the soul.

“The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John 6:33

Saturday, February 21, 2009


What you see is not always what you get! Looks can be deceiving.
Lovely beaches, but most people don’t realize that the process to create this particular tourist beach has destroyed the marine life that makes it appealing in the first place. Tons of white sand was purchased, transported by barges, landscaped, to make this a “tourist” attraction. In the process, many beautiful, tiny little uninhabited islands in neighbouring countries have disappeared forever.

In life, it’s hard to judge based on what you see. We’re really good at masquerading and putting on false fronts. We spend so much time and resources on fake stuff. Millions are spent every year on plastic surgery so we can be more beautiful, look younger and appear more presentable. We have fake watches, fake handbags, fake credit cards, and sadly enough, fake “people”.
We become “fake” when we neglect the one thing that makes us truly beautiful and lovable. The thing that sets us apart from all other living things, is the very thing we fail to invest in – our souls! What’s beneath the surface is what really counts!

“Don’t judge by his appearance or height…people judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at a person’s thoughts and intentions.” I Samuel 16:7

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Tale of Two Canals

Produce boat in Venice

This week I came across some of the photos I took in two separate vacations. Something caught my eye when I was reviewing my Venice pictures. I came across a photo of a floating vegetable and fruit stand right in the middle of a canal. It immediately jogged my memory about another floating market, the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Thailand.

In Venice and Bangkok, we find two world famous canals separated by 8798 km. Two tourist magnets, that attract millions every year. Two very different canals, in two very different cities, yet subtly similar in certain areas.

I discovered that there are over 100 canals in Bangkok. The best known floating market is at Damnoen Saduak, some 109 kilometres southwest of Bangkok. We were told to get there before 10 A.M. because every morning, hundreds of boats crowd the market area to hawk their ware. Most of them are paddled by women with picturesque straw hats. Visitors can find everything from vegetables and fruits to freshly-cooked noodle and souvenirs at this very colorful and lively market.

The best way of appreciating the floating market is to join it, to take a boat ride through the vendors to savour the smells and sounds as well as the sights. I even tasted a bit of the foul-smelling water when I was splashed by a passing speed boat. Exploring the back canals I was rewarded by scenes of a traditional way of life that has scarcely changed over the years.

Some of the canals are so narrow, you can literally touch the sides.

Long-tailed boats

The canals in Venice are grander in scale and class. The huts and shacks alongside the canals of Bangkok are replaced with colorful and regal old 14th and 15th century buildings.
Instead of the fresh coconuts sold everywhere in Bangkok, you’ll find Gelato Shops in every alley and corner shop in Venice. Strangely enough the Gelatos cost less than the coconuts. Instead of long tail boats, we took the Vaporetti, Venice’s very own public water taxi.

Vaporetti take visitors along the main canals, to the islands, and around the lagoon.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the number of photos I took in Venice must be worth a best-selling novel.

Two canals, two worlds apart, yet they exist for the same reason – to support life. Two very different cities, but the canals carry the same importance and value to those who depend on it.
In a similar vein, we may all be different in one way or another, yet our basic needs and aspirations are similar.

Strive for unity, not uniformity!

“We are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future.” Ephesians 4:4