Tag Archives: flowers

Into the wilds of Michigan

6 Aug

As the heat continues to beat down on me in Shanghai, my thoughts have flown to the other more pleasant places I have recently rested my head.  Towards the beginning of my long trip in June I was lucky to spend several days in northern Michigan at my family’s cottage on Lake Huron.  It is the place where I have gone ever since I was small to escape both from the normalcy and extreme pressures of life.

Branches of the trees tangle over the water leading to the dinner table

Branches of the trees tangle over the water leading to the dinner table

My first full summer in China I escaped there for a week after which I was able to recover from a near break down and finally abandon my perfectionist tendencies that were holding me back in China.  It is a comforting place – but one that is quite literally worlds away from where I currently call home.

Looking out towards the pines

Looking out towards the pines

Part of what makes it such a wonderful place to escape is the nature that surrounds the cottage.  Looking out the picture windows I can see Lake Huron and the ducks and seagulls that float and fly by.  On the lawn and behind the house are Michigan white pines that have seen generations of my family play and grow old.  There’s not a meal that goes by where a naughty squirrel won’t run across the lawn or a hummingbird samples the syrup at the feeder.  We have flowers surrounding the house – both real and plastic (the wind on the lake side punishes flowers) and the long drive that leads you in makes you believe you are miles from everywhere.

Spiders catch prey while I enjoy the view

Spiders catch prey while I enjoy the view

Even the "creatures" can enjoy the view

Reflections of home

We take friends on nightly deer watching rides as dusk slides over the land.  Skunks and bugs and bats all call this corner of northern Michigan home and they have been there much longer than I.  It is a constant battle against the sun or the wind or the water to preserve our privacy and the house that exists there.

Dusk at the water

Dusk at the water

On hot nights in Shanghai I go there in my dreams to the place where the lake laps at the shore and the bats and chipmunks scratch at the roof.  It is wild and it is home.

The perfect iris

A wild iris

This post was inspired by Ailsa’s travel theme – Wild.  I haven’t linked up with her for quite some time, so if you are curious about how others define Wild – click the link and check it out!

What does wild mean to you?  I think cities can be wild – the constant people and tall buildings and the acceptance of things that where everyone knows your name just don’t happen.  The wilds of nature have rules that are as old as time, where the rules in cities keep changing.  Which do you pick?

Happy Birthday to me!

23 Sep

Happy Birthday to me!

At the time that this post will be published I will be cheering for my alma mater (Notre Dame) at an ungodly early hour (due to the time difference) in the annual rivalry against the University of Michigan. My family is a divided family – Notre Dame vs. Michigan where the taunting and heckling come out every year.

I remember once my grandmother called my father (different sides of the rivalry) and heckled him after Michigan won.  I’m lucky to be able to see the game this year.  After the game I plan on spending the afternoon at a spa.  Even though I am not yet fully unpacked, some “me” time will be the perfect antidote to a busy schedule.

Perhaps my birthday luck will lead the Irish to a victory?  I hope so.

Flowers of Tengchong, Yunnan

29 Apr

As I referenced in my post about my layover in the Kunming airport, I recently took a trip to Tengchong, Yunnan. The trip was similar to my trip last year to Zhangjiajie, Hunan as it was with my work colleagues. The scale of this trip was smaller – it was only folks from the Shanghai office and it was about half of those (a tour group of about 15 people), the ones who have been with me over the last three and a half years. At this point we can enjoy each others company without talking about work and we really had a beautiful trip.  The other advantage of traveling with my colleagues is that it really allows me to “go local.”  The entire time that I was there I saw no other foreign faces – zero – so I’m pretty sure what I ate and what I saw is well off the beaten tourist track.

One of the pleasures about Tengchong and Yunnan in general is the beautiful flowers everywhere.  The climate is such that it appears if you put the plant in the ground it will multiply and thrive on its own.  Looking through my trip photos (and I took a lot) I realized that flowers were a consistent theme no matter if I was visiting the hot springs, the mountain gorge, the old town, etc., so I thought I would combine my flower photos for a collage of Tengchong’s best as an introduction to this little visited part of Yunnan.

One note – I do not know the name of these flowers – in English or Chinese, so if you have any guesses or thoughts I’d be happy to have some idea of what I took!  Most all are flowering trees so it may be that I would recognize the fruit, but not the flower.  Which is your favorite?

Layover at Kunming airport

22 Apr

I was recently in the Kunming airport to do a transfer to another city in Yunnan called Tengchong.  The Kunming airport is definitely not up to the standards of the Singapore airport – with my major example being that all of the toilets in the airport (that I was able to find) are squat toilets.  This time I had a much more pleasant experience than the last time I flew through when I had some stomach trouble and the state of the bathrooms was higher on my priority list.

Since I had a couple of hours, I wandered through quite a bit of the airport and even pulled out my camera.  Because Yunnan is so close to Myanmar and Thailand, there is a lot of fruit available and some of it is very unusual.  These photos show Buddha’s hands, which I have never had, as well as the classic smelly fruit – the durian.

In addition the beautiful weather in the province means that there are beautiful flowers everywhere – even the airport.  I didn’t buy any because I was transferring and at the start of my trip, but the idea that you could buy them and bring them home was really nice.

So many beautiful flowers!

After I took these photos I still had some time so I paid 20 RMB (about $3 USD) for a chair massage and then headed to my gate.

Any favorite places for layovers?

Butterflies at the airport

8 Apr

In my post on business travel summarizing the success I had in Singapore, I may have said that my project was “almost done.”  For better or worse, those words came back to me when last week my company requested that I return to Singapore – yet again – to try to finish it.

The trip was even shorter than the last one and even more jam packed, but I still took the time each night to have a walk and look at the brilliant sunsets over the Singapore skyline.  I tried a different hawker’s market, found a roast chicken restaurant that served the chicken with mashed potatoes and green peas (I don’t know the last time I had a green pea) and even managed some yoga in my hotel room one evening.

I’ve been through Singapore’s Changi airport a dozen times in the last several years, but when I got to the airport, my departure gate was in an area that I had never been to before.  As I was looking for the restroom prior to my flight, I stumbled across a sign that read Butterfly Garden.  Pushing open the double doors and then through the chains protecting the door, I pulled my roller bag into a butterfly paradise.  They were everywhere – on the bushes, on trees, even on a little girl who was standing entranced by the bushes at the front.

Butterflies everywhere - even on her head!

There was one large butterfly who was attracted by my bright blue purse.  As I was trying to pull my camera out it flew directly to my purse and wouldn’t move.  I wasn’t sure what to do – it was sitting on the zipper.  I have never touched a butterfly before – so I gently shook my purse until he flew away and then I pulled out my camera.

Beautiful flowers - and more butterflies.

Bright colors, warm air – a tropical feeling engulfed me as I stood there for a few minutes, then hurried to my gate, much better for the experience. Singapore’s airport has won awards and even locals will come there sometimes for recreation and shopping and food.  They also have koi ponds (which I have seen before), lots of seating with speakers built in, huge desk areas to charge your laptop, free internet browsing and of course, lots of shopping – I normally buy peanut butter M&Ms.

Happy Easter to you!  The butterflies (with a touch of chocolate) seemed to be the perfect post for today.  Any favorite airport stories or Easter stories or Easter airport stories?  Best wishes as spring rolls us forward.

Blooms

29 Nov

A bad day.

No more.

Beautiful lilies.

Enjoying now

Today is a present

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