Posts Tagged ‘stories’

Royal bloodlines

laelene Posted in stories,Tags: , , ,
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Before I forget, I want to write this down…

When I was young, my mom mentioned to me in passing that I could have been a princess/lady (??). Somehow that became a little joke I would tell occasionally, saying that I’m 2% princess. I also knew that I had Manchurian heritage from my mother’s side.

This week when my professor said I looked Han Chinese, I wasn’t so sure so I called up my mom to check. She confirmed my memory that our family had a lot of Manchu from her side (my grandma being full Manchu and my grandpa being half). Since bloodlines go through the men, we were technically considered Han because my grandpa’s dad was the Han in the family.

I also clarified the whole royalty situation (as best I could) and learned that my maternal grandmother’s paternal grandfather was the last generation that was supported by the emperor. What does that mean? Basically, he was closely related enough to the emperor that he was taken care of by the ruler. This was for a Manchurian dynasty called Huang zhu, if I heard correctly. So if they had hung in there another 100 years, I could be living a cush life right now. Per my calculations, that makes me up to 6.25% royal. 😛

Now imagine my amusement when one of my friends recently likened me to Princess Bubblegum from Adventure Time… I know nothing about the show or about her, but I’m happy to embrace the title! 😉

Do you know what to do in a power outage?

laelene Posted in how to guides, stories,Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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The back story…

Yesterday morning I was woken up from a dream by Panda’s voice. It took me some time to figure out he was trying to talk to me. “The power’s out,” he said. Huh? That woke me up a bit He explained it had been out since 1 and asked if I knew how to open the garage door. I explained it to him and settled in for some more sleep before I had to get up. Moments later, his phone started ringing. The neighbor was calling to ask for helping opening her garage door.

Panda went to practice on our door first, and then called me to help make sure it was done right. For some reason, ours was not staying up once you pushed it. It took a lot of maneuvering to get it to a precarious position where it didn’t start sliding down. Luckily, the neighbor’s was working fine and stayed up the way it should. We both backed our cars out of the garages and Panda went off to work. The neighbor then asked me with help closing the garage door.

It was pretty high and took a little jumping to grab the handle and pull it back down. Once in place, I pushed in the manual lock to keep it in place and we went through her home so I could leave from the front door. She decided to show me the lighter she placed by the gas stove, explaining that she had no idea she could still use the stove! Panda had explained that to her. Then she did something that showed me she really hadn’t gone through power outages before – she opened the freezer door wide open.

She wanted to show me the ice packs she was afraid would melt and start leaking. I quickly got her to close the door and explained that if she kept her fridge and freezer sealed, they can retain their cold temperature for hours. I made sure to emphasize to NOT open either door until the power came back on.

This experience was surprising for me. I thought everyone knew the basics of what to do (and what you can/can’t do) in a power outage. While power outages aren’t commonplace in the US, they certainly do happen here and there, whether due to equipment failures or weather conditions. Haven’t we all been through one at some point? Perhaps not. So with Hurricane Joaquin and other impending weather conditions likely to cause a lot of flooding, it’s likely there will be more power outages up and down the eastern seaboard.

Are you prepared for a power outage? Here are my tips and suggestions:

Before the Outage

-Prepare supplies. This includes everything from extra food (canned or dry goods) and water to flashlights and candles. Don’t forget those long reach lighters! Make sure to have some warm clothing and/or blankets available if temperatures have been cooling in your area as they have been here.

-If you have any sort of health concern, have tons of medication or equipment pieces ready to use. If what you need requires power, it might be best to go somewhere that will have a backup generator and professionals who can help you.

-Get a battery/solar/hand crank powered radio. In case your phone signal has issues, this can allow you to get news.

-Try to fill up on gas now so you aren’t in crazy lines later. Just in case you need to evacuate (and assuming you can actually drive out of the area).

-Speaking of evacuating, throw together a “go bag” with power bars, some water, clothing, and other items you’d need if you have to make a quick run for it.

-Charge up devices, battery packs, and anything else that needs or stores power. It’s always better to have plenty of backups.

-Transfer some ice packs to the fridge to help keep the temperature down in there during the outage.

-When anticipating a storm, bring in anything from the outside that might get damaged or blown away.

-Gather up some books, board games, and other activities you can do without any electricity.

During the Outage

-Once there is an outage, be sure to unplug devices hooked up directly to the wall. Turn off any surge protectors just to be extra safe. Larger things like fridges and microwaves should be fine, so no need to go climbing in some dusty area trying to unplug those.

-Do not open the fridge or freezer doors! Feel free to throw down a rag by the freezer door to absorb any leakage from melting ice, but don’t look in there until the power has come back on.

-If it’s light out and not crazy windy or rainy, go outside and enjoy! If it is raining heavily and that’s why the power went out, grab a book and read by the window or spend some time chatting/playing games with your loved ones.

-Use the radio to stay tuned to any emergency news, especially potential evacuations or worsening conditions.

-If it’s dark out, snuggle up in a blanket, light some candles, and enjoy the peaceful flickers of light. Take advantage of the opportunity to get a little extra rest and sleep early!

-To open the garage door, pull firmly down on the red thing dangling down. This releases it and allows you to manually pull the door up. If you push it past your head and as far up as you can, you should be able to get it to stay there. To close, grab the handle (you might need a chair to help) and start pulling the door down. Make sure you support the weight and bring it down in a controlled fashion so it doesn’t slam down to the ground. From the inside, there’s at least one side with a metal bar that you can push to lock the door in place so someone from the outside can’t open it. Secure that in place and you’re done!

-For those with gas burners, when you try to turn on the flame and hear that clicking noise, light up a flame and stick it by the burner. It will catch the natural gas on fire and allow you to heat up food. Be careful not to get too close when lighting.

-Depending on the severity of conditions, carefully ration the food you eat so you don’t rush through it all. Same with the water supply, if your piping is affected and the water gets contaminated.

After the Outage

-Open up the fridge and check for anything that might have spoiled, depending on the length of time the power was out (say, more than 4 hours). If anything is above 40 degrees, it might be spoiled. The freezer can last up to 48 hours by some accounts, so your food should be ok if the outage wasn’t long. If you’re concerned, feel how warm the food is and make your judgement call on what to keep or toss.

-Replug anything that you’d unplugged and turn those surge protectors back on. Do a spot check of lights around the home. They should work, but you never know.

-Those with garage doors, you can pull the metal lock out and press the garage door opener. The piece will move until it clicks back into place and then you can open and close the door electronically like before.

-And then you can start moving everything else back into their original places too!

-Be sure to restock on anything that got low so you’re prepared for the next one.

 

I’ve shared what I’ve learned from personal experience. I’ve never had flooding, so you’ll find that area lacking in my points. Let me know if I missed anything else! I personally like a minor power outage since it forces us to live more simply for a little while.

My pet Hawaiian shrimp

laelene Posted in photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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Back when we were in Hawaii, I finally got myself a little Hawaiian red shrimp ecosphere. While I’d seen the crazy expensive closed systems before, I liked that the one I found includes a lid that opens. Just in case I need to feed them or change the water, right? So I happily bought the travel set, which included the jar with sand and a fake little plant plus a separate plastic bottle with the shrimp and some blue pellets (food, I presume). All I had to do was put it in my checked bag for transport back home!

I also decided to get a set of snails to add to my new little ecosystem, just to help clean the water. While in Hawaii, I kept them in the bottle together and spent hours watching them. The snails liked to hide up on the lid, out of the water. Whenever they did go down, the shrimp would immediately gravitate towards them and pick at their shells. They must have some tasty algae growing on those shells! When it came time to travel, I carefully wrapped the bottle in paper towels and put it in a box, just in case anything leaked. I then wrapped the box in some of my clothes to try to offer the best buffer between potential jolts and coldness.

Upon arrival many hours later (and a good 30-degree drop in temperature too), I gingerly opened everything and found minimal leakage of water. The shrimp and snails were just fine. I then set about setting up their habitat and enjoyed a beautiful jar to put on the counter or table. Check out the pictures below to show you what has happened since…

hawaiian red shrimp habitat in store

The original habitat I saw at the store! I couldn’t leave without my own.

hawaiian red shrimp eating off black snail shell

The shrimp, snails, and blue pellets in the travel bottle. Those shrimp loved following the snails around!

cat sniffing glass jar with sand and fake plant

Smokey sniffed at this mysterious new jar while I was putting it together.

hawaiian red shrimp and snails ecosphere self-sustaining ecosystem

I loved sitting and watching them. I mostly kept them on the coffee table or the island in the kitchen.

nerite snail eating in glass jar

After awhile, some shrimp and my snails died. The water began to get murky, so I got a nerite snail from the local pet store.


hawaiian shrimp and nerite snail timelapse from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

I did a timelapse video of the super active new snail and its four little shrimp friends! Little did I know what was about to happen…

spilled water and sand on hardwood floor

The very next day, disaster struck. Smokey clumsily jumped on the counter, but slid and took the entire box and the jar with her.

tools used for shrimp habitat spill cleanup

We painstakingly got the shrimp back in (one was already dead) and sucked the water back in the jar.

It was too much trauma and the water sucked back in was gross with dust and cat hair. Another one died promptly and I was so upset, until I realized that both my two remaining shrimp and snail are used to not just brackish water, but fresh water and salt water. They’re pretty good at adjusting to different levels of salinity, so I decided to clean out the jar and give them fresh water for awhile. Except I had no idea what sort of fresh water to use, so I used a water bottle. By the next morning, that seemed to kill the other two shrimp (or maybe they were already beyond help 🙁 ). And so it was just my poor little snail. Even it gave me a scare a few days later when I thought it had died. Thankfully, by that night it was climbing up the glass again.

After this happened, I immediately decided I needed to order some shrimp to replace the ones I lost and found Shrimp Mart after some searching. I felt they had really reasonable prices, especially when it came to shipping, so I opted for their 20 Opae Ula selection. I wanted to get their live Angel Hair Moss too, but they were out of stock at the time. Too bad! Maybe another time, or hopefully I can get some locally.

naughty cat laying in cage

Smokey was in a time out during our recovery and cleanup period.

packaging for mailed hawaiian red shrimps

The new shrimp arrived in the mail about a week later.

plastic bag with twenty-plus hawaiian red shrimp

Very well packaged! All shrimp were alive and they gave well over 20 (I think I counted 27, but with so many it’s hard to say).

I’m not sure what the pink thing is, but it seems to be a food source. I think it just allows algae growth on it and is just a sort of sponge that the shrimp wouldn’t eat. I carefully transferred the shrimp into the jar and the amount of water they came in was just perfect! I then noticed a strange thing squirming around, which I figured it couldn’t be parasitic or dangerous since it’d been in the bag with all the shrimp on the trip and they were fine.

hawaiian red shrimp larva in spoon

The strange worm-like thing jerking around turned out to be a larva!

over two dozen hawaiian red shrimp in jar with nerite snail

And now they’re happily settled in their new home. I’m thinking about splitting them into two for more space.

I need to make sure I get the right kind of brackish water for them before I use another container for some of them. I hope they don’t feel too crowded in this jar. I’ve since put the pink thing in with them, so they have a place to hide and eat from. And yes, I am much more paranoid about where I place the jar now. No place feels safe, even the ground!

hawaiian shrimp eating

Check out the video of them settled in their home!

One rotten apple…

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , ,
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She’s a poison coursing through my veins. Each interaction injects me with more venom, until I can hardly take it anymore. My mind fights the toxins but my body is weak… and all too easily I become consumed. This negativity must stop.

When I look at her (if I have to) I see ugliness. If I stare too long, the snaking tendrils of Medusa’s serpents take hold. Oh, but she’s a multi-faced chameleon. She’ll do what suits her best and get everything to her benefit. She’ll play you if she can. It’s a mirage though, and the moment you lose usefulness, she’ll throw you aside. Another carcass on the road.

Careful to avoid those eyes. Those dark, black, soulless eyes. If you don’t get lost in the abyss and turn to stone, you’ll become one of her kind. Who needs a vampire’s bite when you have piercing eyes of fury? Eyes that haunt me in my sleep, thrust me awake from their cruelty.

They say that one rotten apple ruins the bunch (and it’s true). Indeed, I can see the disease spreading. It’s not crippling, but the limping it causes is certainly not ideal. How much struggling can you handle before you break entirely? Make this rotting stop, before all is lost. Let’s cut out all the browning bits of apple and remind ourselves of the beauty of a fresh, ripe fruit. Don’t allow that one to ruin the bunch irreparably.

Fear and bravery

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , ,
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Fear. The thing that holds us back so often.

As open as I am, my deepest secrets I hold dearly. I want to trust others with them, but I haven’t been able to. So I fantasize about writing fiction and hiding in my stories. After all, who’s to say how much is real and how much is fabricated there? Even then I’m hesitant, though. What if those who knew the situations I speak of see my thoughts? What if people just assume it’s all true? (And maybe it is.)

Bravery to be vulnerable. To share those feelings, no matter how painful or silly or uncomfortable it feels. Like songwriters pouring out their souls in their lyrics. I want to be like that too. I want to express myself without censorship. But this is going to take time… maybe I’ll adopt a pen name. Sometimes it’s easier to be an illusion.

It’s a conflict of interest though – am I not sharing myself to connect with others? How can I truly do that if I’m hiding behind a facade? How much honesty is too much? I’m definitely grappling with that. Right now I recognize this weakness and I accept that I don’t know how to deal with it. I’m hoping I’ll get to the point where I’ll embrace it. Will it be liberating when I do? I sure hope so.

A blogger, an author, a poet, a writer

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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I want to write a novel. I’m not sure if I even have that much to write about, but I have some ideas I’ve been meaning to get down. I figure I’ll just start writing and see where it takes me. Maybe I’ll surprise myself with tens of thousands of words, or maybe I’ll get stuck after a few thousand. Whatever the case, a goal I have for the coming months is to get this going and eventually build up the courage to share it with some friends.

bottle of gold calligraphy ink and glass pen on clipboard with lined paperThis kind of came about due to a confluence of events, including friends sharing their writing and my personal need for expression beyond blogging. There are some things I want to get down on paper, but in a “fiction influenced by experiences” kind of way. I could post bits of it here, but I also want to explore the possibility of a story line that runs far longer than a blog post would allow. If I find I’m not writing that much, I think I might post installments here, but let’s go big first. At the same time, I had two friends who shared the various prose they’ve written and it makes me want to join their ranks. In addition, after reading the Fifty Shades trilogy, I see hope that you don’t have to be a fantastic writer for people to want to read your work. So a growing need, possible mentors/role models, and examples of success make me feel encouraged to produce something.

I’ve thought of myself as a blogger for a few years now, and occasionally I consider myself a writer. When it comes to being an author or poet though, it’s new territory for me and I like exploring that. It’s been a fantastic way to connect with some friends in ways that I haven’t before (and somehow Joseph Gordon-Levitt keeps cropping up in conversations with writer friends – who is this guy?!). I can’t wait to have more conversations about our writing journeys as we all work to produce something to share. I also find reading to be a completely different experience now that I notice what I like and don’t like about each author’s style. I feel like a new world is opening up to me and I look forward to stepping in!

George of Aegina

laelene Posted in stories,Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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guy and girl sitting at outdoor table having tea in greece

A most gracious host.

Meet George. I found myself taking a ride with him on his moped all around Aegina when I was visiting Greece back in 2007. My friend and I had explored Athens the day before and we decided to split paths for the day since I wanted to check out this little island and he wanted to see some museums. After arriving, I took a cute little carriage ride before finding my way to the beach. It was not the most welcoming for bare feet (all rocks and urchins and barnacles) but I insisted on at least getting my feet wet in the Aegean Sea.

pile of about two dozen little seashells with white and pinkish orange stripesThat’s where I met George. He was at the beach, picking sea shells. He liked to collect these cute little pinkish orange ones of a similar size. When he found he could speak to me in English, he was excited to practice. So we chatted, he sharing how I could use these shells to make a nice necklace or bracelet and I learning more about the region. He gave me all the shells we found so I could make something to wear. I still have them, but never quite got around to putting something together.

shadows of two people riding on moped

Our shadows from atop the moped!

He was such a sweet man that when he asked if I wanted to see more of the island, I decided to take him up on his offer. He had a little moped that he drove around and we went off, on the one large looping road that takes you all around the island. We first went clockwise along the coast, checking out cool sights like tables and chairs right at the ocean’s edge, beautiful homes and resorts, and an amazing coastline the entire way. After awhile, we turned around and headed back towards the main area of town where the port was. I can’t remember if we kept going along the other side of the island first or if we stopped for tea, but I think the tea came last. He showed me the teeny movie theater where he worked, a nice little shopping area with many vendors, and some old historical sites. As it was nearing time to part, he asked me to have some tea with him at a cafe right across from port. I enjoyed a nice pot of Greek tea with some random plants in there. When I left, he gave me a slip of paper with his address so I could write to him.

After the excitement and insanity of 5 weeks of traveling throughout most of Europe after that, the piece of paper got put to the wayside and eventually misplaced. I think I might still have it buried somewhere in all my stuff, but I haven’t found it. I always regretted not writing to him while I still had his address and I wonder if he thinks of me (and wonders why I never wrote). I hope he’s still doing well, putting on movies for his fellow islanders and enjoying moped rides around town. I’ll think fondly of him from time to time and send well wishes his way. He lives in a beautiful, peaceful little part of the world that holds a special place in my heart. Thanks to him, I got to enjoy it in a way I never would have otherwise.

My beloved teddy

laelene Posted in stories,Tags: , , ,
2

old teddy bearWhen I arrived in the US as a toddler, someone gave me this one teddy bear. I think it was the lady who flew from China with me, but I don’t remember. Whatever the case, it became my all-time favorite toy. As a kid, I slept with it and hugged it and brought it along to my trips back and forth to China. Over the years, it got quite worn out and I only loved it more for that. As you can see, it ended up quite raggedy and even acquired a couple of holes. I used to stick quarters in a hole in its armpit so it became a bit of a piggy bank for a period too. At some point, I outgrew the bear and just kept it at home. Eventually, I left it at my grandma’s, where it stayed ever since. I’d forgotten about it until I saw this picture again and I wonder if my grandma still kept it in her stuff. I guess I’ll have to check next time I’m back in China!

Do you have a childhood toy that you still adore?

When bugs try to enter

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,
0

large bug crawling up car window to crackI don’t know what it is about bugs and Panda, but they sure seem attracted to him. I previous shared a video of a bumblebee that wouldn’t go away from the window. It almost seemed to be searching for him each time it flew by and I was afraid to open the porch door because it nearly came inside. Just last night, this bug acted as if it wanted to enter the car as Panda was trying to get out. We kept the door closed hoping it would fly off again but it climbed up the window until it found the crack (and thank goodness it didn’t come in!!). I got out on my side to take a picture from the opposite view but as soon as it saw me it went off. Apparently I do not hold the same attraction that he does.

Then of course there are the mosquitoes that have gotten a few tasty meals out of Panda’s blood. That one at least makes sense, since they like to feed off us. But when it comes to the variety of other insects that have a strange fascination with Panda, I am just baffled. Does he emit some odor that only bugs can detect? Perhaps they find him fragrant as a flower? Or do they just like how he looks? 😉 It’s kind of a funny situation, especially considering how he is not a fan of bugs. While I will play with them, he avoids them. And it might be just that that attracts them. Ironic.

closeup of cicada sitting on stairsOh, and on a separate bug-related story, when we were heading out earlier in the day yesterday he told me about a grasshopper sort of thing on the stairs. We get to that part and I find a cicada lying upside down. Just as I was saying something about it being dead and he was trying to explain how it was alive, I went to pick it up by the wings and flip it over to show him what a cicada looks like up close. Suddenly, it started to flap its wings manically and I screamed so loud as I quickly let go! I nearly threw my phone from my hands from the shock. I really expected it to be dead. I mean, what cicada lies on its head? Must be a dying/weak one. So yeah, lesson learned – poke it first before trying to pick it up. This is like the time I was young and saw a cool fuzzy rock. I went to pick it up only to find it was actually a grey bumblebee and it stung me. I had no clue bees could be that color! And hey, how cool is a fuzzy rock?! Yeah… maybe my interest in bugs isn’t a good thing.

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