Category Archives: Snapshots from a Happy Life

Let’s Go Fly a Kite

Weifang, where my son lives has one major claim to fame: the International Kite Festival. They love their kites.

You can buy your own set of wings:

Several colorful butterfly kites hanging on a wall in a kite shop.
You can buy your own set of wings. Kite shop in Weifang, China.

I had a serendipitous backwater experience in Weifang last spring…I got to fly a kite with an older Chinese man who did so as a hobby. Even though we could not “understand” each other we somehow understood each other.

Meet Mr. Xu Xue Lian and his butterfly kite:

 

With your feet on the ground you’re a butterfly in flight, with your fist holding tight to the string of your kite.

Chinese man holding the reel of kite string flying a kite.
With your feet on the ground you’re a butterfly in flight.

Send it soaring up through the atmosphere:

Kite soaring beside a tower.
Soaring up in the atmosphere.

(it is a Chinese city so the air isn’t clear!)

Oh, let’s go…fly a kite!

 I couldn’t believe it when he handed me the controls ! I think he wanted to share with me the exhilarating feeling of controlling the kite so high up in the air. I have never experienced anything like it. And he had a really good time playing with the camera (one more advantage to having an inexpensive easy to use camera!)

I learned his name because a young woman who spoke a little English and worked in a nearby coffee shop was out walking in the park during her lunch hour and stopped to chat.

 

What is Serenity?

This was harder than I thought. I didn’t know what the word really meant and had to look it up. Going through my pictures I realized that I have some serene baggage.

Dawn looking out over Masai Mara, an infinity pool in the foreground reflects the clouds and a hot air balloon is flaring.

My five elements of serenity:

  •  It needs light, but also an edge of darkness.
  •  It needs to have sky in it, but not perfectly clear.
  •  It needs water in it, unruffled water.
  •  It needs to have land in it.
  •  It needs life in it.

 

A courtyard of the Forbidden City in China, It has stone paving, a basin holding water, a couple of trees and tile roofs.
Forbidden courtyard

I am not sure why I like my sky cloudy and my water smooth. But for every rule there is an exception:

Agapanthus Flowers with a backdrop of the  harbor of Crescent City on the California coast.

 

Then of course there is his Serene Highness:

A profile of a lion in grassland facing the sun.
His Serene Highness.

Aren’t dictionaries great?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Serenity.”

Kuku Gifts

In this photo my son’s puzzled look about how to handle a gift chicken is amusing an African man.  The formal presentation of chickens was one of many new experiences for us.

On our first trip to Africa in 2012, as part of a very small NGO, we received many chickens.

At first it was puzzling, since we obviously were not going to take these souvenirs home with us. However, we eventually realized that the gifts were really a form of hospitality.