Xingfu means blessed.

Xingfu means happy and blessed in Chinese. Even though 2014, the year I started this blog, was a busy and, at times, difficult year that is the word I thought of for this space. Mama not because I have many children but because I seem to fall into a caregiving role. Sometimes I feel like Mama to the world.

The name XingfuMama means Happy Mama with undertones of being blessed.

Streets of Downtown Seattle

I used to go downtown pretty often. Of late I take the whopping 20 minute bus ride two or three times a year. This past weekend I attended a conference downtown so went in twice. That takes me to above my annual average this year.

Son of a Beach’s Which Way Photo Challenge

100 Years Ago

The armistice that ended World War I began 100 years ago today. Europe lost almost an entire generation of men in that war.


In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

The Poppies: Weeping Window art installation is a memorial to those who lost their lives in World War I. These photos are from when it was at Carlisle Castle last June.

Patrick Jennings Pic and a Word: Remembrance

Soft Light Magic

For a while now I have been really enjoying the beauty of photographs posted by Bren at Ryan Photography. In her November 5th Flower of the Day post she describes how she post processes images using radial and graduated filters in Adobe Lightroom, which I actually have and know, more or less, how to use. So many of the techniques require photoshop or other fancy things I haven’t learned yet. Last week I had an afternoon free from other worries and while the chili cooked I took a few photos from a fall walk around my neighborhood and gave her techniques a try.

I found it to be relaxing, almost like meditation, to play with the light and shadows. A big thank you to Bren for sharing her techniques.

Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge: Magical Light

Pull up a Seat Photo Challenge-Week 10


Welcome to week 10 of Pull up a Seat. Take a load off and share a favorite perch by linking your post to this one, either with a comment or ping-back. For more detailed directions go to Pull Up a Seat page.

Thank you to everyone who is participating. It is really fun to see all the different ideas conjured up by the theme.

Here’s a few from my archives

These were architecturally a great match for the space, the Microsoft Auditorium at Seattle Central Library, but not particularly comfortable.


Whose couch is it?

Garden seat outside a clinic.

Over to you.


If we were having coffee…

This past weekend it would likely have been in the cafeteria or lobby Starbucks of the hospital. Of the past 9 days my grandmother spent 7 in the hospital, in two visits. This is wearing on me in a lot of ways.

It starts with a call in the wee small hours from a nurse saying they called 911 and have taken Grandma to the hospital. They say the name of the hospital, but on one occasion they were incorrect so I phone around trying to locate her. By the time I locate her and talk to her nurse I’m awake, the nurse always says don’t bother to come right away wait until morning.

To speak with the doctors you have to catch them while doing their rounds. Which means being on site. Grandma is all there mentally but she doesn’t hear well and her back up plan is to pretend she does hear and give a reasonable answer based on context. She’s very good at it and people rarely realize that she didn’t have a clue what they said. For that reason I like to hear for both of us, then I can explain it to her.

Hospital time is different. It seems like it is always wait then hurry up. As we waited for them to coordinate yesterday, we watched a “reality” TV show about weddings, with the sound off. Although it is a bit hypnotic, I think the premise is wrong. Four brides compete and judge each other for the chance to win a fancy honeymoon. Tens of thousands of dollars are going into these affairs. I guess what bothers me is the judgement and competition about the event itself. A wedding, in my old-fashioned view, is about recognizing a relationship and the formation of a family unit, not the dress, the venue, the food and the experience (the four judgement points for the show).

Somewhere I heard that there is not a correlation between the cost/elaborateness of a wedding and how well the relationship lasts. What they were able to correlate was whether or not the couple took a honeymoon or not, and it didn’t have to be a fancy one. Probably not a surprise that spending time together is more important than putting on a show for others. I wonder whether turning the wedding into a competition has an effect on the longevity of the relationship.

Is this obsession with drama and competition over substance and relationships what is wrong with so much today?

Watching these shows and seeing these folks head off to Bermuda and other tropical locations on a dark day with a sliver of a view framed by two brick walls is a bit depressing. Especially since costs associated with this week of hospitalizations have probably eaten away any chance that we will get much of a vacation this year. Making it more depressing is that the second hospitalization is because the insurance company refused to approve a prescription ordered when they discharged Grandma on Wednesday and they gave her a medication for breathing that caused her heart rate to skyrocket in its place.

We took her home again today and are paying out of pocket for the prescription, which is way cheaper than the cost of just one day in the hospital. Supposedly we will get reimbursed when the approval comes  through…

Hopefully she is stable for a while.

When we got home we took the dogs for a walk to enjoy an unseasonably warm fall day. There is still a lot of pretty color, although some trees are looking bare. A nice, peaceful end to a stressful period.

I hope your weekend was peaceful.

Pull up a Seat Photo Challenge-Week 9


Welcome to week 9 of Pull up a Seat. Take a load off and share a favorite perch by linking your post to this one, either with a comment or ping-back. For more detailed directions go to Pull Up a Seat page.

Thank you to everyone who is participating. It is really fun to see all the different ideas conjured up by the theme.

Here is my contribution:

Seating at the Beijing Capital Airport, Terminal 2.

This past week I spent most of my time at the hospital with my grandmother.

Over to you. Hopefully your seats are more fun.


Life lag

I got home from China a little over a week ago. Since I don’t work I don’t usually fuss about jet lag. I try to go to bed and get up at about the right times and not worry if I oversleep a bit or need a nap, after all sometimes that happens anyway. It takes a week to ten days to adjust.

I’d been home a few days when we got a call at 1:00 am that they had taken my grandmother to the hospital. It took over an hour of phone calls to find out where she was, which was a bit unnerving.  When I finally located her, I spoke with the nurse attending her and since she was sleeping stayed home until the next day.

I finally drifted off sometime after 3 and didn’t get going until after 9. The first sign that things were a bit amiss was seeing the blood on her carpet when I stopped to pick up a few things for her on my way to the hospital. There had been no mention of bleeding from the nurse who called me.

When I got to the hospital she looked awful, her left hand was severely swollen and bruised, seems the EMTs had botched a blood test and attempt at inserting an IV (at a guess they had dropped the sample resulting in the blood stain I saw). Also, the left side of her face was red blotches, more blotch than skin by a lot. The nurse, when I asked, said that Grandma had said it had been going on for some time, months. I said “no”. We had spent Wednesday evening with her and it wasn’t there then.  She hadn’t seen herself in the mirror and didn’t understand what they had been asking her about.

She looked awful, but the superficial wasn’t the real problem. She had coughed herself into atrial fibrillation. If you are my week ago naive self you don’t know what that means: In a nutshell the top valves of her heart aren’t playing nice with the bottom ones.

Because of her age, 95 years, and health history including a very bad reaction to one of the drugs they usually use to treat this and kidneys that are barely managing day- to-day life, the usual approaches needed modification. So we went from the nurse I spoke with on the phone the first night saying she was just being admitted for overnight observation, to “tomorrow”, “tomorrow”, “tomorrow”, “tomorrow”, “tomorrow”. She is finally home (at her nursing home) now.

While she is in the hospital I suffer from life lag. I have to drive over and be around to find out what I can. We have to arrange a wheelchair van to bring her back and it takes both of us, so when they keep saying “tomorrow”, we keep putting off our own life (vacuuming, grocery shopping, etc) so we are ready to bring her back.

It takes a week to ten days to get over jet lag; I wonder how long it will be until I feel like I’m over life lag, or if I’ll get over it before the next crisis: her heart isn’t really back to the old normal, and the coughing that popped it out of sync last time has been coming and going for years.

Have you ever had life lag? How did you cope? I feel like I need to have a strategy moving forward, because I fear this wasn’t our last rodeo.

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