Posted in God's blessing, photography, words of thoughts and spirit

a child’s reflective conversation

Reflecting

reflection1 Here is a conversation overheard.

Child: Mom, I can touch the clouds.
Mother: No you can’t.
Child: Yes I can.
Mother: No, they are too high up.
Child reaches her hands into the water, and says, “See, here they are, not high at all.”
Mother: No, you are not touching the real ones. These are mere reflections.
Child laughs and ignores the mother. She continues to play with the clouds’ reflection in the water dancing at the touch of her hands. She is happy.

If the reflections do not have a meaningful purpose why does God create reflections? A point to ponder on.

Posted in creative writing, God's blessing, photography, power of words, words of thoughts and spirit

we can hear the colors before we see them

It IS Easy Being Green!
green 4I took this picture by the roadside. When you look at the picture closer you will find that it is not perfect. It has a lot of lush green leaves but it also has leaves with holes. It is by the side of a little park which is regularly maintained by odd job workers who merely cut the grass or trim overgrown branches which intrude onto the road. Otherwise the plants just grow as they like. Rainfall is ample and there is no lack of tropical sunshine. The color of green is common and people do not particularly notice it. The park benches were painted green once and soon faded. Why are there holes in the leaves? Well, the insects and birds and other creatures live here and thrive too. Some mornings we can hear beautiful melodies sung by birds of unknown names. In the evening we hear all sorts of other little creatures each performing its utmost best to outdo each other perhaps. We cannot see them. The bushes are thick and the trees are tall and form a green canopy surrounding the park. The footsteps of the wind often sound like those of the rain. But when we hear the sound of creatures we know it has to be the wind and not otherwise. Green is an easy color. So are others. The Lord has made them all, beautiful and awesome! The wonder of all is that we can hear the colors before we see them.

Posted in God's blessing, photography, thoughts, travel, words of thoughts and spirit

a resilient solo color show


resilient-red

I am often attracted to flowers by the roadside because they are Resilient. It is not easy to find a picture for this week’s photo challenge. Although I have stocks of other plants which are typically drought resistant in more arid zone, I decided to choose this one. I took this picture during a walk to the local town centre last October. It was hard to find flowers along the road and this tiny red one stood out because of its color. As I paused and looked at it I noticed how little soil it needed to thrive. It required little space and the leaves and stalks were small. I ask myself whether it served much purpose because it was alone and tiny. I would not have noticed it if I had not deliberately looking at the ground to spot a flower. Looking at it now, I suddenly realize that my question of its significance is irrelevant because it was the only flower around that morning! it was the star of the show at that time and space.

~~~~~~~~~~~
‘Flower Carpet Red Velvet’ is a vigorous, low growing, spreading shrub with green leaves and good disease resistance. It has deep-red flowers that bloom from late spring until the first frost. It prefers hot warm conditions and just blooms and blooms and blooms. This is a genuinely easy-care groundcover rose – consistently one of the most disease-resistant roses ever bred – ideal for both home gardeners and professional landscapers. Simple to grow and easy to maintain, without any spraying or even fancy pruning. And during the long flowering season, this rose will self-clean so that there’s no need for fancy pruning or deadheading. Can thrive in a variety of soil conditions. A perfect commercial landscaping plant for low-maintenance color. (Information from various online sources)

Posted in God's blessing, photography, words of thoughts and spirit

the path of water

path-of-water

The Path of water is there. I read this with surprise one day. There is a path everywhere seen and unseen. One day a little boy told me he wanted to become a pilot when he grew up. Then he explained to me seriously, “Of course I need to learn the path of the sky first.” he knows there is a path in the sky.

I took this picture one morning as I looked out of the hotel window. I went there to attend a wedding, thousands of miles away from where I stay. The dawn was not yet ready for my simple cell phone camera. I took the picture anyway. And the photo turns up as I look closely seeing if I can find a path in the water. The water is still and calm and the houses near and far are sleeping. It is a beautiful day and the sky is clothed in the colors of love and romance.

Bible verses on “path”:
Psalm 77:19
Your way was in the sea, Your path in the great waters, And Your footsteps were not known.
Psalm 65:11
You crown the year with Your goodness, And Your paths drip with abundance.
Psalm 8:8
The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea That pass through the paths of the seas.
Psalm 16:11
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Posted in Bible verses, blogging, God's blessing, photography, travel, words of thoughts and spirit, writer's blog

May my readers find hope and strength in the small things in lives, just as these little endangered birds do.

It is hard to put into words a person’s life. But I try to do so. I perceive myself as a fluid, unhurried, unclassified blogger. Why blog? I like to test the water of the thinking river. Thoughts. Words. Pictures. Just as they appear. Like this brightly painted building next to the Amtrak rail on one fine mountain climbing day. I just happened to look out of the window of the train and saw it. Yellow is not my usual color. But it was a striking moment that appealed to me at an appointed time in space. I captured it. When I look through my pictures at random to find something for this blog, it comes out and so I use it to represent a view.

Roseville copy

I would describe myself as a mere keeper of some words which do matter to me a lot. I do not want to forget. I preserve good words. Preserving words is like preserving life. (I wrote this introduction two years ago)

Added on December 17, 2016.
In some ways, I am waiting with Anticipation.
Yes, an anticipation for a future. Come to think of it, our future can be a past soon, just as many futures of yesteryear. Here is an updated photo for this week’s challenge. May my readers find hope and strength in the small things in lives, just as these little endangered birds do.

micah-77

Posted in God's blessing, photography, words of thoughts and spirit

a fun though somewhat costly family reunion time

It’s Not This Time of Year Without…
japanese-foodToday I decided to post a different (off season) food picture. I made my yearly visit to a sibling’s home over the sea recently. On the day before I left after the morning church service, I decided to treat the younger generation to a restaurant of their choice. And here (plus other stuff) is what they chose that day.
We also shopped for clothes as I wanted some cotton ones. Before paying I suddenly realized I wanted to give gifts for this season. So the young ones happily selected their own favorites as well.
It was truly a fun (though somewhat costly for my pocket) time for the family.

Unlike many Christians who celebrate this season with yearly gifts to each other in the family, I have stopped this ritual for many years to the point that I treated my habit as a norm. But this year was different. Perhaps I was in a good mood. Perhaps I decided to be generous. But the truth is I always give during hard times, when they encounter hardship. Why did I give gifts when they are not in hard times? Was it because of the sermon of the preacher? He was talking about “Don’t give up, keep praying!” Perhaps the Lord has granted my nieces’ prayers because they didn’t give up praying for those nice Sushi and dresses! Truly our God answers prayers. Don’t give up, keep praying.

Posted in Bible verses, God's blessing, photography, poetry, words of thoughts and spirit

a closer look at you: my tiny white flowers

Tiny flowers in yonder garden
beauty veiled at distance but not nigh
lo, transcendental strength to halt the turning time of tide
strive you would to thrive like your ancestors from eden

Notes: When I took these photos I did not really look much at the flowers. I just wanted to click away at whatever that broke the monotony of the impending bareness of the new season. The leaves were turning yellow and unsightly. The flowers tried to do a good job by blooming and cheering up those who walked pass and happened to pause and cast a casual look. When I look at them now I realize how wonderful they actually look in their whiteness even though they were really tiny and could easily be unnoticed by a traveler like me. I now wonder the number of lost opportunities I encountered with beauty and missed seeing them because they seemed too small and unimportant then.

White, an inherently positive color, is associated with purity, virginity, innocence, light, goodness, heaven, safety, brilliance, illumination, understanding, cleanliness, faith, beginnings, sterility, spirituality, possibility, humility, sincerity, protection, softness, and perfection.

Posted in God's blessing, photography, thoughts, travel, words of thoughts and spirit

The rain came on the night I departed

A precious H2O account.
january-rain-dropsThe rain came on the last day of January. I was getting ready to pack and leave. It was just an ordinary rain and it was not exceptionally heavy or spectacular. The drops were large. And I was looking out of a glass window at a parched dry garden being newly nourished and replenished of its green. On good days the owner came home and plodded through the garden plowing, digging and planting. A guest who came for a month joined her. The two happily gardened and imagined the beauty when the garden would be in its full bloom in a new season. The arrival of rain was a good news to them. The two ladies saved time and efforts as the garden sprinkler system had broken down and water had to be carried manually.

I recalled one unpleasant experience of an arid land in a distant country. I arrived in March and was confronted with draught. The rain did not come for months. I was indeed in shock as I had then come from a land of plentiful rainfall. I was told that the drinking water came from the drain/well. I dared not think of the sources of the drain/well water. I asked my hostess when the rain would come. She said normally it would come in late May, or June, or July. I left finally in July/August. She rang me and told me the morning after I left that the rain had come in the night like a troop of army. I could imagine the dusty brown earth and the dry bare trees hungrily gulping down the heavenly water.

Water shortage remains a major issue in many parts of the world. I just watched an interview of a missionary and she said that a significant percentage of the world’s poor population are in danger of dying of thirst. The water crisis is the #1 global risk based on impact to society (as a measure of devastation), as announced by the World Economic Forum in January 2015. 663 million people – 1 in 10 – lack access to safe water. In low and middle-income countries, 1/3 of all healthcare facilities lack a safe water source. Globally, 1/3 of all schools lack access to safe water and adequate sanitation.

After returning to a station of life where there is plenty of safe water both in terms of rivers and rainfall, I feel I could breath easier as I walk through lush green trees and surround myself with green plants, acknowledging and giving thanks to the Creator for the rich blessings I have enjoyed often without even noticing how precious they are.

Indeed, water is precious to this earth. So are many things which we have taken for granted.

Some facts (Quoted from: 1990-2016 Water.org): The world doesn’t stand a chance without water. It spreads disease. Compromises safety. Makes education elusive and economic opportunity farther out of reach. The lack of access to safe water is deadly, dangerous, and a major obstacle to the people of developing nations becoming economically empowered. It is what is standing between billions of people and their health, safety, and the opportunity to unlock their true potential.

Posted in Bible verses, God's blessing, photography, travel, words of thoughts and spirit

edge of light and season

Edge
edge-of-colorsThe edge that demarcates light from darkness fascinates me. The contrast is so clear in this picture taken in last September. The dark side is a wall of hedges. I was new to this place and was walking along the side of the road. The trees on the other side were turning into autumn’s yellow but the willow tree was quite adamant to stand out in its lush greenery.  I cannot figure out now what the white spots on the ground are. But they too contribute to the contrast in colors between the black and the white. The path too, clearly marked by a white side and a dark part shadowed by the tree. There seems a marking of a boundary between two sets of realms, one in the bright sunshine and the other one in the dark. Again it makes me think of our lives. Some are in the bright sunny realm where the light is and some in the dark and shady realm. One thing is certain, all living things need sunshine to grow and thrive, even the trees and the grass. With the seasonal changes one may enter a bleak and bare grey and colorless period. But the good news is the sun and the light with all the glorious and rich colors always come back with another season. Being an optimist I believe that this too applies to life.

Genesis 1:14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;

Posted in Bible verses, God's blessing, photography, words of thoughts and spirit

balancing on edge

Edge
edge-balanceSomeone sent this photo to me. It is interesting as it is like someone performing a balancing act with one limb standing. It reminds me of life. Often we have not much choice in our circumstances. We can opt to stand (even if handicapped) or fall. In this case this rock opts to stand precariously along the edge of a hill/mountain slope. Amazing how nature portrays our daily lives. How long has it been standing? Pretty long, I am told. It is in a national park, a regular tourist visit place. What keeps it from tumbling over and roll down the slope or worse crashing down the chasm and crumbling to pieces? Does this rock fear of its plausible fate? There seems a hidden gigantic hand that holds it there, in place, over the ages, along an edge and always on edge. Again, I can’t help but marvel at the many things we are yet to find out about a realm which we cannot see with our physical eyes.

Bible verses that come to my mind:
Isaiah 44:8 Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.’”
Isaiah 48:21 And they did not thirst When He led them through the deserts; He caused the waters to flow from the rock for them; He also split the rock, and the waters gushed out.

Posted in Bible verses, blogging, celestial journal, God's blessing, life of riches and honor, photography, thoughts, travel, words of thoughts and spirit

a tale of two gardens

a morning at SetiaThis picture was taken in a tropical garden where there is ample sunshine and rainfall. It is a private park open to the public in a residential estate. The developers have maintained the park well and given the residents and nearby visitors a place where they daily recreate, exercise, and meet for community and social connection. It is quite a refreshing change from the Western scenario. The people are less mobile-phone-bound. A morning means bright sunshine and green trees. There are joggers and even families with small pre-school children. The seniors practice their daily folk dances or other forms of cultural exercises. There are cafes all around the park. There are private schools nearby too. The park is right in the centre of activities and living. I was told by someone that this little park has won an official landscaping prize and the property value rises consistently.  The efforts of consistent up-keeping maintenance by the developers are being recognized and rewarded. A large park nearby has gone to ruins and become a den of thieves and drug addicts because of the negligence of maintenance by the developers after some years. The value of their properties drop drastically. The contrast between the two parks is so obvious. So are the fortunes of the two developers.

Morning

I am reminded this morning of this little verse which describes a prosperous and successful king* in the ancient times:

“And every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered.” 2 Chronicles 31:21

Have a good day!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
*For those who are interested to know a bit about history, here are some notes from Wikipedia on King Hezekiah:
Hezekiah purified and repaired the Temple, purged its idols, and reformed the priesthood.[7] In an effort to abolish what he considered idolatry from his kingdom, he destroyed the high places (or bamot) and “bronze serpent” (or “Nehushtan”), recorded as being made by Moses, which became objects of idolatrous worship. In place of this, he centralized the worship of God at the Jerusalem Temple. Hezekiah also resumed the Passover pilgrimage and the tradition of inviting the scattered tribes of Israel to take part in a Passover festival. He sent messengers to Ephraim and Manasseh inviting them to Jerusalem for the celebration of the Passover. The messengers, however, were not only not listened to, but were even laughed at; only a few men of Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun came to Jerusalem. Nevertheless, the Passover was celebrated with great solemnity and such rejoicing as had not been in Jerusalem since the days of Solomon.[5] Hezekiah is portrayed by the Hebrew Bible as a great and good king. Knowing that Jerusalem would eventually be subject to siege, Hezekiah had been preparing for war for some time by fortifying the walls of Jerusalem, building towers, and constructing a tunnel to bring fresh water to the city from a spring outside its walls.[7] He made at least two major preparations that would help Jerusalem to resist conquest: the construction of the Siloam Tunnel, and construction of the Broad Wall.
It is interesting that King Hezekiah built two great constructions: the famous Jerusalem underground water tunnel and the famous Jerusalem Broad Wall. Points for pondering today. Key words: Wall and Tunnel.

Posted in blogging, books, creative writing, God's blessing, life of riches and honor, literary magazines and publishing, thoughts, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

writing with an aim

winter and branches
Writing without an aim is like taking this winter picture of bare branches at random while strolling by. Is it essential to have an aim? I believe so. HERE ARE SOME DEFINITIONS of AIM:
Objective, object, goal, end, target, design, desire, desired result, intention, intent, plan, purpose, object of the exercise; ambition, aspiration, wish, dream, hope, raison d’être.

I ask myself, “Why do I write this little note daily? What is my aim?” My answer is, “I need the practice.” Blogging is an effective way to practice writing and keeping your brain working a bit. Reading and writing are still the more tested way of keeping a person’s brain cells exercising a bit and not falling into stupor for too long to the point of eventual incapacity. A point of no return. The more reluctance one feels the more one should try to write and read. One way of learning to write is to copy. Take your favorite book and start copying chapters. Make it a daily habit. Another way is to write a letter to a loved one. You may not get to post the letter but it does keep you going and building a habit. I just read of someone who actually hand writes to many people. Over the years many have received and even collected his handwritten letter and notes. Some frame them up. (You know who the person is as he is in the news right now.) I have not posted a physical letter for years. Even my email has been replaced by short social text or multimedia messages. But I find that the short messages do not take brainwork to compose. It is more like clicking at random and giving automatic pre-programmed short replies.

When I interview some persons I find that they have nothing to say. They are not even capable to think. They have nothing to say about themselves or others. Their minds do not store words. I note that they spend the bulk of the interview time messaging or reading messages on their mobile handheld phone including iPads, iPhones and other smart phones. I find it sad to look at them or think about their lives. Can a man or woman happily leave out a big part of what God has perfectly created and designed for them to have and enjoy? I often wonder. Please do not get me wrong. I am not judging the rightness or wrongness of a lifestyle. I am just lamenting the loss of quality of life that God has given so richly to each of us as human.

Writers ad poets like to dream that one day the whole earth will be filled with readers of books. I am one of such dreamers.

Posted in Bible verses, God's blessing, life of riches and honor, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

a writer’s moral decision: sowing good words

a rich sowing field
a field for Spring sowing

It is difficult to select what to post and what not to post in terms of links and introduction of other writers. We know that the fictions, poems or even essays may not represent the true lives of the one who pens/posts them. As many writers have uttered, their writings are mere imaginations and compilations of stuff they read and research of the works of many others. They do not necessarily live that way. But somehow I still know deep down a part of me comes out no matter how good and deliberate I have been hiding it from my writing or compilations. On this matter, I speak for myself and not others. There is no such thing as being completely neutral in writing/posting. For example, I do not agree with certain traditionally immoral and amoral values and I have thus avoided ‘publicizing’ them. I have also made my lifelong goal as: to protect my little ones from being exposed to them, so that perhaps I can save them from harm and hurt later in their adult lives.

Admittedly, I have read some good writings by some talented and creative writers. I find that the way they present their thoughts, hurts, struggles in their personal lives appeal to my compassion as human being. I can empathize with their struggles and the yearning for freedom to love and be loved, and freedom from hurt and pain. Yet I find that I cannot be honest to my heart and post their writings. Why? I am still a person with my own subjectivity based on my moral and religious belief and priorities. Someone may not understand this adamant adherence on my part to values which some may have discarded as being archaic and not conducive to developing a more creative and perhaps wider zone of liberal experimental and experiential learning through writing like in other forms of art expressions. I can see their points and their motivations and motives in their perspective of the writing paradigm. I do not dispute their perspective. On the other hand, I remain firmly established in my perspective of my world. I believe this peaceful co-existence between two patches of green turfs remains undisturbed as long as both of us are willing to give mutual respect to each other’s world view regardless of the vast and somewhat irreconcilable dichotomies in this world.

Personally as a traditional responsible elder, I shall continue to avoid exposing my own young ones from what I consider as contrary to the moral values I have adhered to with my extended family. Why? I still believe the moral values since creation have sustained our continuing survival as a human race on earth thus far. A further reason beyond physical survival is my belief in spiritual survival in eternity as well. My adherence is not to mere dead letters. My conviction is to a living reality in my spirit. But I am not going to have a long discourse in this blog on spiritual survival and the reality of another realm. So I would just say I cannot post or publish some thoughts, behavior and lifestyle even though they are good creative presentations and writings from really talented writers.

At times, I do sigh as I look at the rich fertile field for sowing of good seeds in spring time . The field is well cleared and plowed. Such a vast land. Such hope for a good harvest. All we need is the sower of good seeds. The same applies to the writing field in life.

Bible verses:2 Corinthians 9:9-11 New King James Version (NKJV)

9 As it is written:

“He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.”[a]
10 Now may[b] He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.

Footnotes:

2 Corinthians 9:9 Psalm 112:9
2 Corinthians 9:10 NU-Text reads Now He who supplies . . . will supply . . . .

Posted in creative writing, God's blessing, life of riches and honor, literary magazines and publishing, photography, power of words, thoughts, writer's blog

Conversation outside the box: football and writing exam questions

February flowers3 copyI include below excerpts from a recent casual social conversation between a reader-R (in her forties), a child-C (around thirteen) and me-M. The goal is to encourage thoughts outside the box about starting a (money-making?) venture like writing reviews or doing something interesting and useful for their own specialty lifelong hobbies.

C: we never have enough money. Mom’s earning is like below the market rate for her qualification and experience. We are classified as living below the poverty line.

M: ok. tell me what you like to do and what you are best at? (addressing R)

R: i like reading. my only talent is reading.

C: but reading cannot generate any money!

M: yes, you can. tell me, can you write something?

C: mom cannot write one word. her mind is full of numbers and horror fiction stories (she is a graduate in economics, with professional qualification in accountancy).

M: can you write something, anything, just jotting down your thoughts as you read?

R: i cannot. i don’t know how to express myself in words.

C: she has never done it!

R: i can write good english. i scored high in english language. i have never tried writing reviews. i don’t know how to do it.

C: (started yelling in the background that her mom cannot write, will not write,  and is not interested in writing words at all as she does not even want to communicate with her in words except shouting repeatedly a few short commands-all negative, for her to carry out).

M: (addressing the mother) ok. i suggest you start by reading others’ reviews. just do it. read and learn how others write reviews. since you have read so many (perhaps thousands) books, read good reviews on those books you like. start writing something about why you like or dislike in a book. write something from a different angle. your angle. read others’ reviews gives you the perspectives, structure, and essential contents of a review. send your reviews to me. i shall help you along the process. ok?

M: (addressing the child) ok. what can you use your best talent or interest for (in terms of making money)?

C: well, shall i start a blog? i am right now interested in stuff that cannot generate any money. i am not in the main stream. i like stuff others rarely like in my environment.

M: such as?

C: Well, i like football clubs that are way out here and i don’t quite like the local club. i have nothing to say about them.

R: the local sports writer is lousy. he writes poorly.

C: NO, MOM! he is good! he writes good sports writing! he is a good reporter!

M: ok. why don’t you start writing too? anything about what you know?

C: i can’t. what i know is noway compared with so many good football reporters/writers know. there are many many who know so much more than me. i cannot start a blog when there are people out there who know more.

M: there you are wrong. you don’t need to compare or compete or measure yourself with others. you measure yourself with yourself yesterday, one day at a time, always progressing in steps. today you are doing better than yesterday. at thirteen you know more than at twelve.

C: ha? i can do that!

M: from what you have been writing (poetry and short commentaries on football matches), you are pretty good at them. you have natural talent in the use of language and creativity in thoughts and perspectives. your imagery is rich and vibrant. i have always enjoyed your hidden sense of humor behind your sharp and accurate observation. you will make a good teenage sports commentator. send me your reviews and reports and i shall work through them with you. ok?

P/s While I was sending my visitors off at the train station, the avid reader suddenly remarked that she would write mathematics examination assessment books! What an insight! On the other hand, the kid thought of her own social media blogs with a more focused goal-targeting her own niche of one particular language speaking group of teen girls like her. The hurdle is she needs to further improve her communication skills in that language. On return from the station, I found a newly arrived email advising me of a job vacancy Associate/digital media/football in a global group in sports and entertainment. Certainly this is interesting and not a small coincidence. Of course I am not applying. But it does give relevant information and the kind of job opportunities for young people in the world of digital media.

Posted in books, God's blessing, literary magazines and publishing, photography, thoughts, travel, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

all about my editor friends: two ships

2 rabbits oakland zooHow to find a good editor? I have several good ones. Why several? Each for a specific genre of writing. One for each language too. If you are writing in two languages you will need editors conversant in each specific language. In terms of genre you just cannot mix up. For example, how can an atheist understand anything about Christianity? And vice versa. The depth and breadth of the editor is important too. I first encountered two editor friends in my younger days, working for two rivaling big newspapers. Both attended the same church! Both were in charge of the literature section. Later one was promoted to the section for the Editorial/Opinion columnists/contributors on politics,business,economics and social commentary etc. I was thus given a chance to contribute a variety of articles and get published. I was not aware of their professions until we were rather close friends. They knew I could write and they volunteered to read and publish for me. They even delivered the monetary payments to me together with the acknowledgement slips I needed to sign. Thinking back, I recall more of our friendship and the quality time we had spent together as friends standing for/with each other through thick and thin times. I was not really that concerned with whether my articles were published or not.  Often they had to keep reminding me to write so they could do something for me. What did I do for them? Lots of stuff that mattered to them. We grew together in our respective professions. I was fully engaged in the corporate fast-track. One of them got married and settled down in juggling her editorial (for a national newspaper) and family career (‘raising’ a husband and one son). Another one joined a big national Christian counseling publisher. I went on to where I am today, moving from one fast-track to another and eventually settling onto this relaxed narrow lane of writing as an amateur but almost full time. Sometimes I happen to pass by their cities and manage a call in the airport. Often I don’t. We just get on with each of our lives with a memory of a good time together. The time we were. From a long term perspective, I am touched today to quote the following from a poetic metaphor by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882):

1874, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Tales of a Wayside Inn, part 3, section 4:
Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.

Posted in Bible verses, books, God's blessing, literary magazines and publishing, photography, power of words, thoughts, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

a writing contest between the sexes?

a backyard viewI have my suspicion confirmed when I read this following information about who the avid readers are and how female writers fare compared to male counterparts in terms of reviews and publicity. The statistics tells a story of the tough reality some or most women, in this case, writers, face in our society. You may wish to do some research on your own over the internet. It is interesting to note that there are more women readers than men in Britain. What makes the British women read more? This is a worthy topic to research into. Do women read reviews and buy books accordingly? Or do they have their own mind and ignore the critics? Interesting. This reminds me of the famous Bible character Mary who ignored the male critics and insisted on pouring her priceless perfume over her Lord as her highest form of appreciation and honor. The rest is history.

The following are quotes/excerpts:
Quotes from: Research shows male writers still dominate books world : Statistics from US campaigners Vida confirm dramatic gender imbalance in literary critics and the authors reviewed (The Guardian, February 4, 2011)

“The gender imbalance at the heart of the British and American literary establishment has been laid bare by a new study confirming that leading literary magazines focus their review coverage on books written by men, and commission more men than women to write about them. Statistics compiled by Vida, an American organisation for women in the literary arts, found gender imbalances in every one of the publications cited, ”

Quotes from: Male writers continue to dominate literary criticism, Vida study finds (The Guardian, April 7, 2015)

“The continuing bias towards men in the British and American literary establishment has been confirmed by a study released on Tuesday. Vida, a US organisation championing women in literature, examined a wide range of publications from both sides of the Atlantic, including.., and found that in 2014 the majority still had heavily male-centred literary coverage, both in their use of reviewers and the books that were reviewed. The figures are at odds with the publishing industry in the UK, where some of the biggest-selling authors of 2014 were Hilary Mantel, Donna Tartt and Kate Mosse. Women are also responsible for buying two-thirds of the books sold in Britain and figures compiled in 2009 found almost 50% of women were avid readers, compared with 26% of men.

The figures did show a gradual but still notable shift. Of the 15 major magazines surveyed, 14 had seen an increase in content by women over the past year, and for the first time in at least five years the New York Times Book Review had more female reviewers than male ones – an increase of 41 from the year before. Similarly the New Yorker had 17 more female contributors than in 2013, continuing a five-year trend, while in Granta original submissions were split almost equally between female and male writers.”

Erin Belieu, the co-founder of Vida, said: “We want editors, readers and writers to be aware of their habits and open their mind to other voices, and we at Vida do really think that is genuinely happening. And I would say overall we have seen a lot of positive trends over the duration of the five years we’ve compiled these these figures. Absolutely there is still this gender bias inherent in literary magazines. We are talking about people who have done things a certain way for many years and literary magazines tend to be places where one vision gets put forward and even commissioning editors can get trapped in this culture. But generationally I think it is a problem that is going to be taking care of itself more and more. People under the age of 40 have been raised in an entirely different environment.” She added: “Is it true that women are raised to feel culturally very uncomfortable putting themselves forward? Maybe not as true as it used to be – but of course it still has an impact. But we see Vida as a form of erosion, making gradual but permanent change.”

The Latest: a better picture:

Female authors make inroads at major publications – survey
Bylines by women at the New York Times Book Review and the New Republic are among the ‘dramatic increases’ over the last year, according to Vida’s annual survey of the publishing gender split (The Guardian, March 31, 2016)

For the first time, this year’s Vida count also looked at female reviewers and authors’ race and ethnicity, sexual identity and ability after surveying almost 700 female writers, finding that straight, white, able-bodied women were best represented. In these respects, some female writers better represented in print, Vida said in its report, asking: “To what extent is the status quo rendered bankrupt by such glaring absences? If the literary landscape is dominated by specific groups, how can we be healthy as a society and benefit from both our differences and commonalities? Isn’t one of literature’s effects to humanise populations beyond our own?”

Posted in God's blessing, photography, thoughts, travel, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

the choices of a very young poet/writer

a road not takenA very young member of my extended family has been selected to attend a young writers’ workshop camp in the best university in her country. She is elated. So we all are. In my family I have been the lone writer for years and now it appears she has become a sort of successor. Quite a comforting thought. I pray that she really learns something useful and decides to make this a serious hobby even if she wishes to become a scientist and not a linguist as I have suggested. She had to submit six written pieces for the qualifying selection. I believe she wrote some poems and proses/stories. When I recall my writing life I realize that I started writing stories and poems around her age too. When her grandad passed away, while preparing to go back for the funeral, she told us (in the family chat) she had written a poem for her grandad. I told her to take a picture and send via the chat. It was a well written and touching poem. I was surprised at her gift in expressing the grief and yet Biblical hope and assurance on this occasion. She will make a young writer with promising potential. Pity she wants to become a scientist or an engineer like her grandad. I too made the choice of taking another road when I decided on my own career. I did not choose literature or art stream. “The Road Not Taken” remains my favorite till today. But I did not choose that road. “It is a poem about the necessity of choosing that somehow, like its author, never makes a choice itself—that instead repeatedly returns us to the same enigmatic, leaf-shadowed crossroads.”(David Orr) Did I ever make a conscious choice and consider taking literature as my lifelong pursuit? I did until I turned twenty-one. Then I became distracted by other roads. Young as I was, I could not see beyond the bend of the road. Even though my first love was literature, like Robert Frost, “Oh, I kept the first for another day!” At that crossroad again…

Posted in God's blessing, photography, the Word, thoughts, travel, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

rare species: a librarian

library booksI went to the library today to return the books. I found this little library on the top floor of a shopping mall turned into a multi-purpose one-stop center for all local public services. There are still some shops for commercial purposes. The library is a branch of the main public library. It is conveniently located and those waiting for their legal documents to be processed or renewed can rest their feet and have a quiet reading time in this library. The librarian told me that this year’s membership is free. So I registered and borrowed six books. The maximum is fifteen for two weeks (on the presumption that we should read one book a day) and I may call them if I need extension before expiry. After extending twice I finally went there to return with no intention of borrowing anymore as I just do not seem to have time for their books. But the librarian persuaded me to re-borrow the one book that I did not manage to finish. He also persuaded me to go and look at the shelves and borrow more books than that one book. In the end I lingered longer and found six more books. So I have seven books for two weeks. When I left the library I was happy and not burdened. The bag of books seemed light and easy to bear. The librarian’s gentle persuasion and his holding fast to his love for this profession of books reading somehow affected me. True, every book on the shelves was written by someone who must have loved words. Writing books in general is not a profession that can create monetary wealth overnight. For many writers it does not even make ends meet. The books (usually in two copies only) remain new and untouched on the shelves even if they make it to the library. When I look at the page where they still stamp the dates I realize mine is the first one. How long have those books been waiting on the shelves? How long has the librarian been waiting for someone to come and agreed with him and borrow some, at least more than one perhaps? I am a book lover all my life. I collect books. I have my own personal library. I give away many books too. Perhaps others do the same. Perhaps that is why the public library is not being used that much in this country. I want to think of the bright side about books still being in demand by avid readers and collectors. Writing a book, getting it edited, printed and proof-read, formally published, marketed, sold and finally read by someone is a long and difficult process for many. It is like conceiving a baby, nurturing him or her to full term and finally giving birth. A book is a living being too. It takes a lot of nurturing to become what it is when reader reads it. Imagine a baby having been born in such painstaking way and then be left neglected, for years on a shelf. Unthinkable. So does a book. When I told the librarian I only wanted to re-borrow one book he had that sad look of despair. He had encountered many like me before. But he did not give up. I would consider this a good librarian. A man who knows the true worth of a book. He would go any length to promote and defend a worthy course.

I too long to see the day  an individual who reads one book a day turns up.

Posted in celestial journal, God's blessing, life of riches and honor

after harvest

harvested filed

clear calm alone rest

end of last season’s conquest

waiting dreaming best

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Matthew 9:37 [Full Chapter]

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.

Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.