Here is my assigned Chinese name in Chinese characters. It is To2ng Le3i. Those numbers right after the “o” and the “e” indicate a tone mark. Since you probably have no idea what those are, don’t worry about it. Tong Lei is Pinyin, the romanization of the pronunciation of the Chinese characters. Tong is just a family surname, no meaning. Lei means high as in social status, honor etc, and big as in great person/influential people. Not much correlation to me, but thats ok. Later, I think, after I am well into Chinese and really have a good grip on the language and culture, I can change my name. Many people do that. By the way, I wrote that vertically, but more and more Chinese people write horizontally, from left to write, just like us. Often if something is written vertically it is for traditional, artistic, or literature reasons.
Warning! This is a long post, prepare yourself!
This being the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America, I decided to take Serena to a once-in-a-lifetime event and fill in some gaps in her history education. She was only in kindergarten when we studied early American history as a family. Oh yes, the government had their official, politically correct, Indians are the good guys, settlers were murderers and rapists of the land event in May, attended by Queen Elizabeth, and including Jesse Jackson, Jr., and Al Sharpton on the panel that discussed the settlement. That was NOT the event we attended. Instead, we went to a week-long celebration (that word had been forbidden by the establishment) of the providential history of the Jamestown settlement. The point was to examine the source documents, and determine what was the real impetus for the colony, and what the participants, themselves, had to say about it. It was put on by Vision Forum, a Christian ministry that you can read more about here.
We began our trip driving as far as Staunton, VA, and staying in a motel. Since we were to be staying with friends the rest of the time, we wanted to store up a little private time. The friends in Williamsburg, the Owen family, put us up for a week, making our attendance at the conference possible by saving us hundreds in hotel bills. I realized that we would be passing close to Monticello the next day, so I asked Serena if she wanted to see it. “What’s Monticello?” she asked. To a born and bred Virginian, that settled it — we had to stop there! I, gardener that I am, braved the bright sun to stroll through the very long garden on the grounds. I actually found a perennial that I had never seen before, labeled globe lavender on the stick by the plants. Monticello sells some of their heirloom plants and seeds, but alas, not this one. The house was fascinating, with all of Jefferson’s ingenious additions and inventions contained therein. Here’s a picture of the front, which I really took for the huge and ancient tulip poplar tree to the left. We had 2 of these in our front yard growing up — typical tall straight trunks with branches high up. If I hadn’t seen the leaves, I would have thought this one was an oak!
Continuing on our way, we arrived in Charles City County in plenty of time to attend the wedding of Olivia Potter, daughter of old and dear friends who live in Williamsburg. Sarah and Lydia, you will recognize most of the Potters, but here are the rest: Continue reading “Trip to Jamestown Quadricentennial – June 9-20”
Last Sunday was bittersweet– my entire family (sans LifeForms at home) was gone in various directions. My mom stepped in and swept her men off to an excellent dinner and afternoon on top of the Kaden Towers in Louisville. At that event, I gave my dad a card and a short meditation on something we used to do together 45 years ago. This was to thank him for all the years I’ve been privileged to be his son, and in his honor, I share it here [more…]
Ted and I, Lydia, Serena, and Emily (Nana) traveled to Chattanooga on Thursday, May 3 to spend some time with Sarah and attend her graduation from Covenant College. The trip down was overcast and drizzly, but the weather cleared some- what by the time we got there. Sarah had choral rehearsals in the afternoon and evening, so the rest of us went to the Tennessee Aquarium. There was definitely more than we could see in 2 hours (2 buildings worth), but we skimmed through it all. Our favorites were the seahorses, the snowy egret that posed for a picture 3 feet away, the butterfly garden, the octopus, and the tank of penguins. Here’s the egret.
Sarah met us for supper between rehearsals. We went to Food Works, which was a very nice restaurant with somewhat unusual selections. We also saw Sarah later Thursday night, when she came by our cottage with her boyfriend, Dani.
Friday, after breakfasting at Sarah’s apartment while trying not to wake up her sleeping roommates, we drove half-way down Lookout Mountain to a park trail that leads to a waterfall. The girls had been there before, and wanted us all to see it. Sarah said the trail was only 1/4 mile long. We were concerned about whether or not Emily would be able to make it. As it turned out, it was more like 1/2 mile, or felt like it, with lots of rocks to negotiate near the falls. Emily did manage to make it with several rests, and lots of assistance over the rough parts. To complicate matters, she was recovering from cataract surgery in one eye. Check out her cool shades in one of the following pictures.
Above: Serena is wading in the pool the waterfall falls into.
After lunch back at Sarah’s apartment, we left Continue reading “Sarah’s Graduation”
Here’s something that didn’t make it into the newsletter, but should have. Last fall, for her history unit study, Serena studied ancient Greece. Being someone partial to cooking, she chose as her end-of-unit project a Greek feast, along with a written report on food and feasting in Ancient Greece. The food was very interesting: Pork cooked with celery, in egg and lemon sauce; fish with feta cheese, summer salad, baked apples and leeks, farmer’s bread, and baklava made from an ancient recipe that included a sweetener made from grape syrup and wood ashes!
But we haven’t yet gotten to the subject line of this post (look at it again). I have always seemed to be able to find, whatever subject we were studying, something lying around in this “museum” to enhance our study, act as a prop, or decorate for a dramatization. When we studied birds, it was Bommy’s copy of an Audubon book of color plates. For the Medieval feast, it was an awesome set of brass candelabras for our table. When we studied the times of Mohammed and the Muslim conquest, there was an English translation of Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat, which we were to read selections from to illustrate Arabic poetry. For early American history, we found arrowheads, Indian stone implements, and a musket. This list could go on and on! However, I was speaking about a certain Greek feast. Where else could you find ionic columns on the front porch, Grecian-style bronzes in the attic to decorate your table, and small ceramic bowls shaped like the Greek krater that we used for drinking bowls?
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