Eddie Chau

One of my sweetest memories from Hong Kong was the day I met a wonderful Chinese artist named Eddie Chau. We met at the annual Christmas Fair at the Furama Hotel. We had booths adjacent to one another, and I watched as he would hold up these gorgeous works of art to potential customers. I went over and introduced myself. I later learned that Eddie was very active in the International church located in Repulse Bay. We lived in Repulse Bay, but I had never attended that church. He did all of the artwork and created greeting cards and the weekly programs for the church. He was planning on helping me get involved in the art for the church, when I learned that we would be returning to the States. I will always regret that I had not met Eddie earlier so that I would have had the pleasure of working with him and being introduced to the International Church.

He was an accomplished artist in mainland China. He came to live in Hong Kong with his daughter and wife and settled in a village near Deep Water Bay. After seeing his beautiful artwork, I invited him to visit me and my friends living in Burnside Estates in Repulse Bay. He returned the favor and invited me and my daughters to his studio. He gave me his address and we agreed on a time to meet.

I did not know what to expect, but nothing prepared me for what happened next. When I arrived I glanced at the hillside…Eddie lived in a squatters village. This was not what I had expected, but the spirit of adventure in Hong Kong made me feel flattered that he would invite us here. A squatter’s village in Hong Kong is comprised of hundreds of tiny tin roof cottages sitting next to one another very closely along steep hillsides. They have very little protection during the rainy season and are vulnerable to mud slides. They all have lovely clean laundry hanging from poles that jut out from the homes. Hundreds of people, otherwise homeless live in communities like the one in Deep Water Bay. Chickens run free and occasionally you will see a goat. I was so thrilled because people like me were not typically invited to enter this kind of community. We were considered outsiders and the save-face culture of the Hong Kong Chinese would forbid a Guillo from being welcomed here.

The girls being little didn’t give it a second thought and I was so pleased. I did not want to offend Eddie, and clearly he knew that he had been living in different circumstance when he lived in mainland China. When we arrived Eddie stood at the top of the hill waiting for our car to arrive. As we exited the car he stood as stately as an ambassador. Although we stood at the entrance of what was looked down upon by many, my sense of adventure and trust in Eddie smiled with approval. I was aware that Eddie had been a prominent artist in China. His work had been on exhibit in the art museum in Beijing. He did not belong here, but he stood as if he were escorting us into a mansion.

We carefully walked down the hill past many tin roof homes. When we entered his little abode it was immaculate. His daughter graciously offered us a glass of hot water and we accepted. My daughters had brought their friend Laura, a little neighbor from the UK. As we stood there, Eddie carefully pulled out this artwork portfolio from underneath the bunk bed. The three lived in the same amount of space as an American walk-in closet. By the joy in the rendering you can see how he loved his home. He told me how he would stay up late and paint while his wife and daughter slept.

His work was unbelievable. I felt privileged to have been invited, and more so that he would share his beautiful work with us. The girls were awe struck, and I remember Laura’s face beaming with delight. Her mother later told me how impressed Laura had been, being an aspiring artist herself. I often wonder if that day so inspired her that perhaps she is perusing art herself today.

I purchased two works from Eddie that day. He had a friend who was creating the most magnificent prints of his originals. Laura’s mum had bought a beautiful painting of a sunflower when Eddie had visited us in Burnside Estates. I bought one of his Repulse Bay renderings that showed where we were living at the time, I thought it a lovely keepsake, and I cherish it still. I have this painting hung over my bed. I also purchased this gorgeous rendering of his tin roof home, which lives in my art room. It is a constant statement of joy, a gentle reminder to be thankful for whatever my lot is in life.

I called the International church recently and asked if they knew where I could reach Eddie. They said that he had to leave the squatters village and had moved to New Territories, which is across Victoria Harbor and connected to mainland China.

I will never forget the thrill of being invited within a community of people I knew that under normal circumstance I would never have been allowed. We left Hong Kong in November 1997 just after the hand-over. I have heard difficult stories of how these people living on hillsides in tin roof houses were forced to leave their homes. Their hillsides have become home to the wealthy, squatter tin roof homes have been replaced by fancy high-rise apartment houses. I have heard of mud slides during Typhoon season that have left the squatters living on these hillsides homeless or dead. I know political circumstances put even more burdens on these people. Some have been hurt and even killed during protests. Because I was allowed into this hidden world, I feel connected by interest and compassion.

I will never forget that day, seeing Eddie so regal and his daughter so gracious. I pray that they are safe and that Eddie continues to create his magnificent artwork. I learned a wonderful lesson that day…it does not matter where we live, what our class, or what we have in life, but rather how proud we can stand when we know who we are in Christ. I don’t know whether Eddie’s religious beliefs caused him to flee to Hong Kong, but I do know that while he was there, he was a very loyal servant to the Church. Eddie was one of those people in life that are walking Bibles. I trust that when he gets to heaven he will have a mansion waiting for him.

JOHN 14:2. In My Father's house are many mansions

Children's Books

Once upon a time, when my two daughters were small I had a reason to be in the Children’s section of the library or the book store.

Over the years I learned what wonderful lessons, ideas and simple fun are inside every book. I have quite a collection of children’s books now that my daughter’s have grown. Yet from time to time when I am not having a good day, I wander over to my favorite book store. I march right over to the Children’s section of the store (I pretend that I am buying a gift for some other child) and I find life’s best therapy for this child. Besides the marvelous illustrations found on the covers and in all of the picture books, the area is usually quite charming. I always leave with a smile and a sense of renewed hope. There is a great deal of wisdom to be found in the Children’s section and all of our old friends are there. Why you will find Peter Pan and Wendy, the characters of The Secret Garden, and Goodnight Moon, and of course good old Paddington Bear and his amazing adventures. The best part...even though we get older, our favorite old friends never do. They are right there waiting to bring back the loveliest memories. The classics are there too, and to step back through the pages of Little Women or some other favorite treasure is such a comfort. No matter how chaotic this grown- up world seems, the characters in the Children’s section always manage to lead me back home.

With A Song In My Heart For Bloggerland

The Book 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff is one of my favorite books. Ann Bancroft starred in the movie of the same name and it too is one of my favorites. The book is a series of letters from Helene Hanff, which she always signed (Miss) Helene Hanff in her letters to Marks & Co. in London England. The setting takes place in an apartment in New York City and the topic is Helene’s love of old books. She writes to this lovely book store in London England to purchase special editions. Frank Doel of Marks & Co. starts to adore Helene’s letters and the two develop a wonderful relationship. During the course of the book as you read the letters you feel that you are observing as a beautiful relationship evolves and you learn about the history of the two settings. The wit and clever writing style leaves you begging for more. When I had the pleasure of visiting London some years back I went to Charing Coss Road to walk down the very path of my beloved Helene. To give you an example of the writing in this lovely little volume:

“Thank you for the beautiful book. I’ve never owned a book before with pages edged all round in gold. Would you believe it arrived on my Birthday? I wish you hadn’t been so over-courteous about putting the inscription on a card instead of on the flyleaf. It’s the bookseller coming out in you all, you were afraid you’d decrease its value. You would have increased it for the present owner. I love inscriptions on flyleaves and notes in margins, I like the comradely sense of turning pages someone else turned, and reading passages some one long gone has called my attention to.”

I was thinking this morning about our new world of blogging. We sit at our computers and write letters of sorts to people we have never met across the globe. We get to know a little about where they live through photos and words and start to care about these people. Swaps arrive in parcels from clubs and small groups sharing common interests. Through the ups and downs that we each endure we are able to receive comfort and support to help us through. Each blog is designed to reflect the author and many times it feels as if you just went on vacation for a while. As in Helene Hanff’s letters, I find myself like Frank Doel looking forward to reading blogs belonging to my favorite people. I find myself out for a ride and I will spot something to photograph for someone I have met through Flickr or their blog. Yesterday, I had the good fortune of being tagged to send a mosaic to a group designed to make someone who is hurting smile. Isn’t that grand? I read the comments on that group and these people were so supportive and so generous with their loving thoughts.

I grabbed 84 Charing Cross Road off the shelf this morning and I looked at the cover. What a coincidence, I never realized that I had designed my blog header so similar to the cover of this book. Never knowing that I would sit some day at my computer and write to people I have never met, just like Helene Hanff. People that I have become so fond of through their blogs or photos on Flickr. I always thought it so beautiful that this woman, Helene would develop a relationship through letters. Fascinated that although the relationship had begun for the sole purpose of purchasing books, it soon developed into an intimate and caring relationship. We are very blessed to be able to sit down in front of a computer and visit a land that we have created to share and invite others to share with us. In a world filled with so much trouble isn’t it just grand that we have this resource? One of my other favorite movies is called Brigadoon. In it Van Johnson and Gene Kelly by mistake discover a wonderful place that doesn’t really exist. It vanishes and appears at the will of all the residents. A love story yes, but I was always fascinated with the idea of a place created for only the people who had the ability to see the land. Just like in Lost Horizon the character leaves and returns to their reality only regretting that they might never find it again. By some magical stream of events both characters in both stories return and are welcomed back into their special land by their kindred spirits. Every day that I can sit in front of this lovely Mac and think which blog should I read first and “What shall I create today”, I feel so thankful. I believe that I have found my Lost Horizon and my Brigadoon and I am able to write and read letters just like Helene Hanff did from 1949 to 1969. All this exists in this wonderful creation called Blogger Land. I am thankful to the characters in these books for teaching me a life lesson which is to watch for those special connections in life and to cherish them with a song in my heart.

A Day in North Falmouth on the Cape

When I awoke this morning I knew that my soul needed to be fed. I was approaching burn out, and I had little left to sustain myself no less give away. When I am running on empty the only nurishment that brings me back to life is a trip to the shore. I don't know whether it has to do with being raised on Long Island, only being a short ride to the beach growing up, but I hunger for the ocean every now and again. After I dropped my daughter off at school I headed straight for the Cape.

When I arrived in North Falmouth, at my favorite beach, Old Silver Beach I breathed in the sea air, listened to the rhythm of the waves and began to feel better. I drove around some little roads in North Falmouth and spotted some lovely cape cod cottages along the way. As I drove past a Marina, I just had to drive in and photograph some names I spotted on some yachts. Serenity caught my eye, and I got a kick out of Justin Time. Aren't they Yar...remember when Grace Kelly said that to Cary Grant about their romantic little yacht, in The Philadelphia Story?

I spotted a set of benches overlooking the tip of North Falmouth. I always find benches everywhere in life. This is the first time I saw two together. I thought that maybe it was so that you could sit next to me and take in the view.

This little seagull kept making me feel guilty...Feeeeeeeed me. They are such little beach bums. I watched them for a while, and I noticed that they try to catch a breeze like the surfers try to catch a wave. Totally rad. Come to think of it I always seem to have someone waiting for me to feed them. If I sit in my favorite wing chair, Mittens my cat sits nearby and meows to be fed. If I walk into the kitchen my two dogs look at me with expectation. Whenever my girls are around they are always asking me...what's to eat, what's for dinner? And of course my husband when in the house expects me to be making something wonderful. When I walk upstairs near my daughter, Sarah's room I hear the cockatiels screeching to be fed.

Well, I do feel so much better now after my rejuvenating day at the shore. I am home again and my soul has been fed. I am feeling all renewed, before my crew walks in the door...I got home justin time to make dinner.

A Closer Look Into Happiness

The Hat Shop, originally uploaded by bluebirdsandteapots.

One of my cherished possessions is a little volume signed by the author, Margaret Moore-Jacobs. The name of this treasure is The Secret of a Happy Life. In it Margaret Moore-Jacobs writes short stores reflecting a sweeter time. A time when God was at the forefront of most lives, and people were mindful in all that they did. Families sat down to supper around the same time every evening. and the children were tucked safely into their beds at an early hour.

The wisdom in this enchanting book encourages me to think about designing my own life and that of my family around the sweeter things in life. Her book was published in 1952, but her view of life can be applied to our lives today. Whenever I read her stories I am always comforted. I am inspired by her writing to embrace the simple abundance that surrounds me now and to be thankful. On ever page of The Secret of a Happy Life, the warm memoir rekindles the desire to dwell on what is good in life. I found this little treasure many year ago in a wonderful old book store in Cranbury, New Jersey. I keep it by my reading chair, and whenever I lose perspective I pick it up and read one of her stories. The title is just what the book holds inside, a simple reminder of the secret to having a happy life.

On her wedding day

On her wedding day, originally uploaded by bluebirdsandteapots.

On Saturday I was driving through Concord, as always I wanted to drive past my friend Louisa May Alcott's home, Orchard house. Oh, I was thrilled they were having a wedding. It was the anniversary of Anna Bronson Alcott's wedding day on May 23, 1860. How exciting they were all dressed in costume and there was even an invitation, wedding cake and punch. I parked my car and was in photo heaven. Notice the red robin...the littliest guest there. Isn't it fitting that a robin would be a guest at Louisa May Alcott sister's wedding? The bride wore Aqua, and the wedding was held in the Concord School on the Orchard House property due to inclimate weather. So charming, I think Louisa was smiling down from heaven at the festivities. I overheard the shopkeeper say that some of the people dressed in costume were relatives. Isn't that fun?

The invitation was so lovely on perfectly proper linen stationary the words so lovely:

"I've felt for the first time in my life the joyful consciousness that I am truly loved by a truly good man, one that with all my heart I can love and honor...one who loves me for myself alone, and with an unselfish, patient, gentle affection such as I never thought to waken in an human heart."

Anna Bronson Alcott
On her wedding day
May 23, 1860

The Forget-Me-Not Cross

Back in March I was inspired to write a poem about the Forget-Me-Not Cross. I never thought for a moment I was writing it to help me through a trial that I would endure several months later:
In a field of green hills and flora,
I could see a vision of grace and
There stood the cross left in all its’
glory with spirit-filled
The closer I came, the more perfect its’
A carpet of flowers adorned each bough,
And once I touched my Savior’s cross,
I knew the meaning,
For on it lay hundreds of flowers,
Draped over my Lord’s gift to me,
Each one a sweet forget-me-not
A fragrant reminder to stay
close to Thee.

The day I took these photographs I was facing a difficult trial regarding my daughter. The grief I felt was almost unbearable. None-the-less I had to see my 81 year old mother for mother's day, so I got in the car and drove four hours. Along the way I stopped at my favorite place in the whole world...Stowe Vermont and the beautiful Von Trapp Lodge. As I walked through the fields and photographed the beauty around me I hoped to find some grace amongst the beauty. I came upon a spot I have never noticed before, as I walked through the path I looked down and saw a bunch of forget-me-nots. A little further and I was in the grotto and came upon the cross, and there He was in all His Glory, Jesus. Just like in my poem reminding me to Forget-Not who is there for me. I wept at His grace. You see I was walking in my poem and He was with me under that magnificent sky against those majestic mountains. I have been visiting the Von Trapp Lodge for over tens years, and I have never walked on that path, nor saw the cross. The timing was perfect...God's timing for me to discover such a beautiful place on such a day of despair. He is always with us, all that we need to do is not forget what He did for us on that cross.

“For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

The Von Trapp Family Lodge, Vermont

On the way to my mother's for Mother's Day, I stopped by the Von trapp family lodge. The beautiful flowers were everywhere speckled the stone walkways and steps leading to even more spectacular views. Such a gorgeous place. The web address is: http://www.trappfamily.com/familystory/index.php.