Posts Tagged ‘story’

When bugs try to enter

laelene Posted in general blogÔľĆTags: , , , , , , ,

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? ūüėČ 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.

The pounding on the door

laelene Posted in general blogÔľĆTags: , , , , , , ,
front door as viewed from inside room

What was on the other side of the door?

It was about 1:30 am and I was working on my laptop in the living room. I heard some voices in the hall of what sounded like drunk people coming to or from an apartment. “Rowdy neighbors,” I thought. Suddenly, there was banging on the door. It sounded like the drunk people who were supposed to be leaving causing some trouble as they headed out (or kids being mischievous knocking on doors and running away). I dismissed it since it seemed like a poorly-chosen joke. Then a few minutes later, a couple more thuds followed by the doorknob turning. I was surprised to hear the knocking again and suddenly wondered if someone was trying to figure out if we were home so they could break in or something. When they tried to enter the apartment I got a little freaked out, but I figured the best policy was to act like I wasn’t here.

Unfortunately, I had a light on that you could probably see from the sidewalk, so the knocking continued. This time I carefully tiptoed to the door and hoped that the person wasn’t watching if the peephole got dark from my head blocking the light. There was a slightly disheveled man standing there. He started to call someone on his cell, so it seemed like he’d soon figure out he had the wrong address. I returned to my computer. Just a few minutes later… again, that loud knocking. At this point I wondered if Panda and his dad would wake up. They were already asleep inside the bedroom and didn’t seem to be bothered by this. This time the guy used our metal door knocker for a crisper sound.

Seriously?! It’s in the middle of the night and he won’t go away! Finally, I went up to the door again and looked out. He was just waiting there (and actually looked like a different guy… perhaps there other one was downstairs calling their friend?). I carefully opened the door and stuck out half my face to tell him he had the wrong address, please stop knocking. He looked rather dumbfounded as I quickly shut the door and locked it. By this time I definitely had some nervous energy and I was glad that he was gone, but I felt vulnerable since the porch door was right next to me and the shades weren’t drawn. What if someone climbed over? I’d be terrified.

Of course, much of that was an overactive imagination making ghosts in the dark. That guy didn’t mean to scare the pants off me, but if he hadn’t been drinking perhaps he would have been clearheaded enough to not keep banging on a door if he couldn’t get a hold of his friend. I warily went to sleep and told Panda all about it the next morning. It’s funny because in that moment of stress, I never even considered waking him up, but that’s exactly what he told me to do. In the future I’m sending him to investigate. We’ve also decided to add a welcome mat or door wreath or something to that extent to make our door look different from others – hopefully that will help!

What would you have done in this situation? Would you handle it yourself or wake up a loved one?

A stubborn victory

laelene Posted in general blogÔľĆTags: , , , ,

wooden large-tooth comb made with fragrant woodIt’s been months and I’ve been looking for this hairbrush every time I go home. I knew that I had taken it out to use when I was here and though I searched high and low without success, I refused to give up. I like how it has wide teeth and is made of a fragrant wood. It’s also glossed and I think is even anti-static. Perfect for a quick brush-up in the middle of the day. I used to keep it in my purse, but then one weekend when I was hanging out at home, I lost track of it. Ever since then, I’ve been on the hunt.

Tonight I asked my mom about it again and she said she actually found a wooden comb while cleaning up. Unfortunately, she couldn’t remember where she had put it, so this sent us on a house-wide search for the elusive thing. As it turns out, she was referring to a smaller comb (the kind they give at hotels), which was sitting on the desk. Since I had already searched almost all of the house, I decided to keep going and flipped just about everything around. Then, I thought that I should check the pile of blankets and pillows on the bed upstairs, which I had used for awhile a couple of months ago.

Lo and behold, after lifting up a couple of blankets, I found it lying there, neatly hidden away! I’m really glad to have it back and will make sure to store it safely in my purse again. Yup, being stubborn does get me results.

Unexpected consequences

laelene Posted in general blogÔľĆTags: , , , , , , , ,

Tonight Panda, Houdini, and I went to a dinner with my apartment mate (I’ll call him “Roomie”) and one of Houdini’s high school friends. ¬†When Houdini met my apartment mate, he immediately wanted to set good ole Roomie up with a friend of his who he’d met up with recently. ¬†She had told him she was interested in dating and possibly a relationship and hey, Roomie happens to be doing the same! ¬†So, Houdini set about getting a blind date arranged (with himself, myself, and Panda as company).

Well, tonight Houdini gets in the car and tells us that she’s not coming. ¬†Instead, we’re going to go pick up this high school friend of his, who he thinks might actually be a better match. ¬†Shocked and confused, we asked what happened and as it turns out, this whole blind date thing was made into quite a big deal in one of the classes that the original blind date girl is taking. ¬†On Friday, one of the people in that class (that she works with too?) actually asked her out because he liked her and didn’t want her to go on this blind date (and potentially get swept away by Roomie!). ¬†She said yes, so she wasn’t going to come anymore.

Coincidentally, Houdini had another friend (the high school friend) who is single and looking to date too. ¬†He even felt she might be more fitting for Roomie, so he invited her to come instead. ¬†She agreed and hence we went to pick her up tonight rather than the other girl. ¬†Funny, isn’t it? ¬†Houdini’s attempt to set up his friend ended up in her getting a date with someone she already knows. ¬†Meanwhile, Roomie and the high school friend had a pretty lively conversation tonight and whether or not they “like” each other, I do believe they had a good time and met a cool new person.

I am infinitely amused by the unintended result of trying to set up that first girl with Roomie. ¬†Houdini got his wish and got her and Roomie dates (just not with each other, lol). ¬†All in all it’s a pretty hilarious situation. ¬†Certainly not how we envisioned or how it was supposed to go, but it’s all good! ¬†And this is why we should be open to things that come our way. ¬†You never know what might actually happen in the end!

The early years

laelene Posted in general blogÔľĆTags: , , , , , , ,

Branching off from my description of generational gaps in my family

For my parents in particular, my maternal grandmother heard of my dad through the wife of a professor at the local university, which is where my parents both went to school. ¬†My maternal grandfather was also a professor at the school and his professor buddy had my dad as a student. ¬†Through the women talking, my grandmother learned that this young man was the professor’s star student and first in his class. ¬†My parents were introduced to each other and my grandfather approved without ever meeting the young man. ¬†All he had to know was that he was a hard worker and an excellent student. ¬†My grandmother, on the other hand, wanted to meet and get to know this potential suitor. ¬†As the legend goes, she sat him down for an interview (probably mostly asking about academics and his professional future) and liked him as well. ¬†My mom decided that of the guys she’d been introduced to, she liked this one the most, and so they were married. ¬†Or something like that.

It turned out to be a great decision, since my dad was smart enough to be allowed to leave China, which was a bit of a mess back in those years. ¬†The country had been in lock down and it was extremely hard to get out. ¬†My dad got into a PhD program at Penn State, which is what took him abroad. ¬†About six months before I was born, he left for the land of the free and began his studies. ¬†A year later, when I was a few months old, my mom followed suit, going to Penn State for her Master’s. ¬†I was left with relatives in China and I believe my paternal grandmother was mostly in charge of raising me those years. ¬†By the time I was three and a half, my parents had saved up enough money to fly me over.

I don’t remember much from those years, but I did have one strong memory from the plane ride, about the lady who escorted me from my family in China to my parents in America. ¬†I have also been told by my mother that when I first arrived, I refused to let my dad sleep in the bed. ¬†After all, it really was like meeting them for the first time – my dad had never seen me before and my mom had only been with me for about half a year. ¬†My mom attributes this behavior to a child’s need to cling to one adult they trust. ¬†Apparently between my parents, I chose my mother. ¬†So I clung to her and slept with her, but initially wouldn’t allow my dad to share the space. ¬†Poor guy must have had a couple of rough nights camping out on the couch or something.

And so that is how I spent the first couple of years of my life. ¬†Most of it’s a blur and photography was too expensive back then to have many pictures capturing my toddler years. ¬†The few I do have are quite amusing, with me all bundled up in winter clothes with a red dot on my forehead, or hanging out in a crib with my cousins standing around me. ¬†Perhaps I’ll dig those up someday and share them too.

A story of shopping and sandals

laelene Posted in general blogÔľĆTags: , , , , , , , ,

I don't remember what I was doing here, but probably lamenting the 9 Baht I lost out on (read on...).

I don't remember what I was doing here, but probably lamenting the 9 Baht I lost out on (read on...).

When I was in Thailand and Hong Kong, there were plenty of places to shop where price tags don’t exist and everything is done through bargaining. ¬†In places like these, initial prices are never to be trusted and it’s wise to walk around to get a feel for the products available first. ¬†After all, things tend to be the same from shop to shop and if you find the lowest asking price, you have a good starting point to hack from. ¬†You never know how much they’re trying to earn off of you, but you can bet that their quoted price is at least two to three times as expensive as it needs to be, if not more. ¬†My mom can usually get things for about 20-40% what the vendors try to sell for. ¬†I’m happy when I can get half (even when I know I’m still being ripped off).

In Bangkok, I spent some time at the Chatuchak Weekend Market as well as the Night Bazaar, searching for fun little trinkets that I could give as gifts to friends. ¬†I was also on the hunt for a bikini and a pair of flip flops for myself. ¬†I’d been told to check out the weekend market, if only for its pure massiveness, so I found a buddy at the hostel and we headed out for a day in the heat. ¬†At first, we weren’t sure which section we were in and wandered around the antiques area, crossed over to the food (where I had to stop to feed myself!), and finally ended up in the heart of it all, where the clothes and shoes and knickknacks are sold.

The only pickings from a day of walking, walking, and shopping.

The only pickings from a day of walking, walking, and shopping.

None of the swimsuits impressed me that much and the lady selling the best stall’s worth was extremely unfriendly, so I decided against giving her business. ¬†I found a stall with very cheap flip flops at 59 Baht and chose a pair that wasn’t half bad. ¬†I really wanted it for just 50 Baht, but they weren’t budging and my friend was impatient to move on, so I took them. ¬†To be environmentally friendly, I decided to not take a bag and just hold them on the way back. ¬†And I swore that that 9 Baht would matter down the line, but of course he didn’t believe me! ¬†We headed out not long after, leaving behind the football field of place with little to show.

On the ride back, I fell asleep and woke up to find us in front of the hostel again.  I quickly got out after paying and we went inside to say hi to the lady running the place.  Right as I was about to step over the threshold, I realized I was holding one flip flop.  One.  Alas, I watched as the taxi went out of view, carrying with it the other half of my now useless shoe.  My shopping partner chortled at me, tickled by the absurdity of the loss.  It was the only thing either of us bought in the ENTIRE market!  -____-  Those cursed sandals!

This is when I realized that I now had a useless shoe.

This is when I realized that I now had a useless shoe.

And you know what? ¬†Before I left Bangkok, I realized that I was exactly 9 Baht short of paying for the airport express. ¬†I knew it’d come back to kick me in the butt. ¬†I had no ATM card (the new one was sent to my home address since I didn’t think I’d need it in the few weeks I had left – boy was I wrong). ¬†My credit cards wouldn’t let me take a cash advance (I never set up a PIN number to use in ATM machines). ¬†So, I had to borrow from my poor roommate who I had barely known for two days. ¬†Bless her kind soul. ¬†She helped me get from Thailand to Hong Kong!

More on my shopping experiences at the Night Bazaar and the Hong Kong markets in a future entry

Organic bouquet …for a squirrel?

laelene Posted in photo blogÔľĆTags: , , , ,

I’ve been attending a sustainability lecture series and one day in class, a speaker (Mud Baron), brought some organic flowers from his garden at North Hollywood (or was it Hollywood?) High. ¬†A couple of volunteers were tasked with making some nice bouquets as he spoke and at the end of it, the eager ones went up to claim a bouquet.

There was one stipulation, however: you must give it to someone else on the streets or wherever, after you leave the lecture hall! ¬†Then we were to take a picture of said “someone,” happily touting his/her new home decoration piece, and send it to Mud so he could post it on his Twitter feed.

I knew exactly who I wanted to give mine to, but along the way, I got distracted and nearly gave them off to this fellow…

Suddenly, this little guy runs up to me and stares longingly at my bouquet!  Should I give it to him?

Suddenly, this little guy runs up to me and stares longingly at my bouquet! Should I give it to him?

He got a whiff and decided against claiming himself some flowers.  Oh well!

He got a whiff and decided against claiming himself some flowers. Oh well!

Alas, I guess they weren’t his type of plant, so I did end up giving it to the person I had in mind (a former roommate, who was having an art exhibit that night). ¬†It was certainly an amusing detour though. ¬†After all, Mud never specified our recipient had to be human!


laelene Posted in general blogÔľĆTags: , , , , , , , ,

Today my dear friend Philosopher arrived from a looong trip over, from across the pond, as they would say.  I encountered far more traffic than I anticipated going down and then spent 40 minutes driving in circles trying to see if he was out yet.  I had neglected to tell him to wait outside for me and the poor fellow had to wait for me for an hour while I was stuck in traffic and driving around outside wondering if he had gotten his luggage!  Thankfully, I finally figured it out and parked my car to go get him and that little round trip was expedient enough to render no parking fee!  Brilliant.

I made a pit stop to Boston Market on the way back because I love their cornbread and chicken pot pie, but alas, they no longer have pot pies! ¬†Philo had wanted a salad that they were out of, so I got some cornbread and we headed back closer to Panda’s and ended up getting some CPK salads. ¬†I learned (too late) that the half size was not quite big enough for my appetite, so I had some of the wooonderful cornbread to supplement my meal. ¬†I think Boston Market’s cornbread is amazing – it’s soft with crunchy little bits of meal (or whatever grainy thing that is) and has a bit of sweetness to it.

When we got back, I was surprised with a box of Quality Street candies (between that and Celebrations, I could be dancing in heaven) and a bar of luscious chocolate, straight from England!  Philo then went off to shower off the grime from the trip and refresh a bit before eating.  We then had a lovely chat, with me sharing a lot of the things that have been interesting me in my life lately Рlike Google Wave, which I finally received my invitation for!  After a few hours, it was getting late and he was getting tired, so we set up his little bed for the night.

I played around with Google Wave for a bit and now it’s time for me to retire as well – I’ve still got a busy day at Opportunity Green tomorrow!

Let’s Relax Spa

laelene Posted in general blogÔľĆTags: , , , , , , , ,

I’ve realized that I write a lot of my thoughts and opinions, alluding only occasionally to experiences, so I’ll now attempt to do some more storytelling and share some of my adventures.

entrace to let's relax spa in phuket thailand, with water decorations

Very zen.

Let’s start with a wonderful spa experience at a place called Let’s Relax. ¬†I discovered it when I was in Phuket, Thailand. ¬†At a getaway place like that, I couldn’t resist indulging in some spa services, so I looked up a few sites and went for this one because they were one of the few places with a hot stone massage and of those, had the best price. ¬†I opted for the Executive Hide Away package because it included the hot stone massage that was my main target, plus it included an herbal steam (a nice bonus) and a facial that I probably needed. ¬†A three-hour experience, all for 3600 Baht (at the current exchange rate, around $107.37). ¬†Not bad at all!

Well to start off with, I didn’t get the best of directions and probably should have copied the map better. ¬†The bus driver and my fellow passengers had no idea what I was looking for and couldn’t tell me where to get off. ¬†By a stroke of luck, I was looking out the right side of the bus and the building had a large sign, so I found it. ¬†I got off the bus and made my way to the entrance, where I was greeted by a nice little landscaping in the front area and huge wooden doors. ¬†As soon as I stepped in, I knew I had chosen wisely. ¬†This place was impeccably clean and very nicely decorated. ¬†It was quiet and peaceful and the ladies working there were all well-mannered and well-dressed.

tray of herbal scents and facial treatment options at let's relax spa in phuket thailand

Take your pick of aromas and treatments! Top left: herbal scents for the steam room. Bottom: facial treatment options.

After I checked in and paid, I was given a cooling green tea to sip while waiting. ¬†All too soon, a lady was there to lead me up. ¬†We got on the private elevator and I changed into a bathrobe in a nice bathroom before she took me to my first stop: the sauna. ¬†Well, I guess herbal steam room is more appropriate, but you get the idea. ¬†I had chosen the scent I wanted (I think it was lavender, but now my memory fails me) and got the place to myself. ¬†I sat and lay on the cool stone inside as my lungs filled with the aroma of sweet flowers. ¬†It’s hard to stay in there for long, so I had to come out a few times and made good use of the ice cold water they provided. When time was nearly up, I came out and took a nice rinse in the shower to clean up and cool down.

lobby of let's relax spa in phuket thailand

Nice place to just chill.

tea and centerpiece with flowers and candles at let's relax spa in phuket thailand

Beautiful decorations and delectable tea.

tray with cup of tea, bottle of water, and hand wipe at let's relax spa in phuket thailand

Iced water tastes so much better coming out of the steam room.

towel, shower cap, and black knit underwear for use at let's relax spa in phuket thailand

Everything you need to enjoy a hot stone massage. That black thing was knit underwear.

I was then taken to another room for my hot stone massage. ¬†I was given a funny little black underwear thing to put on, as well as a shower cap and towel. ¬†A nice little lady came in with the hot rocks and began to work on my weary muscles. ¬†She used two stones to stimulate my muscles and would trace the bones in my ankles or other areas where it felt really good to have something hot and firm running along it. ¬†Sometimes it would just be one stone or her hands and some lotion. ¬†The heat of the stones was just enough to leave a burning trail wherever it went, but certainly not enough to burn or hurt. ¬†She knew just how long to leave the heat there before it would start to generate more pain than relaxation. ¬†I wondered how her hands could handle the stones – as far as I could tell, she did not use gloves or anything to protect herself from the heat. ¬†When she wrapped up a few stones for me to lie on to soothe my back, I began to see how the prolonged heat could cause discomfort. ¬†We made a quick adjustment to protect me from the heat a bit more and I comfortably lay there for awhile. ¬†At the end, she had me sit in positions I’d never tried before, then pushed or pulled just the right way to make my neck and back crack. ¬†I’d never been cracked like that before and I imagine that’s what they’d do at a chiropractor’s. ¬†I fully intend on finding out one day.

ginger tea with almond cookie at let's relax spa in phuket thailand

Delicious ginger tea that was just sweet enough, yet with a slight kick.

When that was complete, it was time for the final installment – a facial. ¬†I hadn’t been given a choice of treatment type, so I’m assuming they used a generic one or chose for themselves what was best for my skin type. ¬†As usual, I fell asleep during the process. ¬†There’s something so soothing about lying there with someone massaging your face. ¬†When I woke up, I was given a little hairbrush to straighten out the mess that I’d gotten since coming out of the shower. ¬†Back in the lobby, I was given a warm cup of ginger tea and an almond cookie before being sent on my way. ¬†It was a wonderful way to end and I felt invigorated as I departed!

If I get the chance, I’d definitely want to do that again. ¬†It was a great service experience. ¬†Next time I’m opting for the four-hand herbal massage… two hours of synchronized movements from two masseuses at 1400 Baht! ¬†How many people have four hands massaging them at once? ¬†Until then, I’ll dream of going back, or getting the unique¬†jade stone massage at Le Petite Retreat, right here in LA.


laelene Posted in general blogÔľĆTags: , , ,

smoke from southern california wildfires start to darken the blue skies

Clear skies darken.

The sun glows a blood red in the distance, as it shines through the smoky clouds.¬† Dark orange and brown clouds of smoke creep into the clear blue sky.¬† There is no movement outside; all the creatures have withdrawn.¬† With the sunlight blocked, an eerie glow alights your world and casts it in a shadow of red and orange.¬† The typical heat of the evening sky no longer irritates you as the temperature cools.¬† The air smells of burning wood and a breath end in a fit of coughs as the clouds settle into a haze and you are surrounded by unseen floating particles.¬† Before you hurry inside, you notice small things floating down from the sky.¬† Is it snow?¬† As it settles, you look down on the ground to find a thin layer of ash is raining down.¬† It’s time to get indoors before you get respiratory problems.

sun obscured by smoke clouds from wildfires appears to be glowing red

Ruby red in real life.

The next day, you drive to school to find the parking lot empty.¬† One lone nark (the school’s patrollers/guards) stands at the entrance.¬† You approach, rolling down your windows, and she tells you school is canceled.¬† Surprised, you go home and turn on the television to listen to the reports of the wildfires burning through your neighborhood.¬† The ash is still falling gently so children and the elderly are advised to stay indoors.¬† Videos of fires are shown along with clips of planes flying by, dumping tons of that pink stuff to put out the flames.¬† Some houses have been lost already, but you live in a densely-populated area far from the wild vegetation of the hills.¬† The fires would have to burn through a lot of houses to reach yours, so you stay put.

water in outdoor spa sprinkled with bits of ashes from wildfires

Floating ashes.

There has been an order for evacuation in a neighborhood on the other side of the freeway, a few miles away.¬† It was a neighborhood you almost bought a house in when moving to this city.¬† You have friends who live there and you wonder if their homes are in danger.¬† As night falls, you look out at the view from your backyard.¬† The once dark hills in the distance are glowing with firelight.¬† There’s probably still a good 10 miles between you and the closest fires.¬† The spa in your backyard might provide a useful refuge if the fire somehow makes it this far.¬† You don’t see why you’d still be around by then though.¬† You consider packing the cars with emergency items and sentimental things, in case your family needs to drive off somewhere to escape the burning wrath in the distance.¬† Perhaps tomorrow though; there is no imminent danger.

wildfires at night seen beyond lights of the city in the faraway hills

Fires glowing above, city lights below.

As the days pass, you hear reports of how the fire jumped the highway.¬† You drive by on your way home and find all but the far left lane shut down as the fire burned next to the shoulder.¬† By the time you squeeze through, the hills are blackened and smoking from the dead fires.¬† Their charred faces are steaming unhappily, but they have been subdued.¬† Firefighters remain just to watch it a little more before they go on to the next site.¬† Soon the fire is mostly contained – 50%, 60%, then 80%.¬† School is back in session and you try to stay indoors.¬† The smoky air irritates your throat and gives you a hacking cough.¬† One of your friends is out there somewhere, fighting one of those fires.¬† He posts period updates on his profile, with pictures of what he’s up against.¬† Finally, one day, the threat is gone.¬† The fires in your neighborhood have been completely contained and another summer is through.

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