Hello, World…

Hello everyone, I’m still here and doing well. It has been a while since my last post. I hope to get back into regular blogging next year, which I can’t believe is less than a week away. Where did the time go?? 2013 has been a year of surprising opportunities and rediscovery for me — both good and not so pleasant. But in the end, I try to learn from my furry kids, Evie and Max… live life in the moment and enjoy the good times regardless of its duration — for I’m grateful to be alive, healthy, and with my humanity still intact. Best wishes to everyone, see you next year…

“May All Beings Be Happy & Peaceful.”

Snow Pups The Golden MomentFoodie ConsultantHappy PupsRoad Tripdsc7624

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The World Didn’t End On 2012

Great! The world didn’t end yet… 😉 I will be able to make my yearly Christmas wish…

May All Beings Be Happy and Peaceful.

Evie & Max

Home Sweet Home

After more than three days and 1400 miles later, the furry kids and I finally arrived to our new home. This is the view of our new back yard  playground. I took this shot from the side deck of the house.

It was an incredible journey for my mind, body and soul. During my journey of escape to freedom, I went through a roller coaster ride of emotions. It’s amazing what your mind will think about when you have nothing to entertain you but a long and winding — mostly uninhabited road through some of the most amazing landscapes in North America. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos. Not that I didn’t want to… there were so many breath-taking sights. But with a heavy eight-foot trailer towed behind my SUV, made it difficult to just stop and park anywhere. The most difficult part about the trip was traveling with the furry kids. While they were the most well-behaved traveling companions, finding a place to stay with them was not easy.

On our first night, I couldn’t find a motel that would take the furry kids. Since it was freezing cold out, I couldn’t leave them out in the truck on their own; we ended up sleeping in a motel parking lot. Yes, at least they were kind enough to let us use the parking lot. Needless to say, it wasn’t very comfortable sleeping with the steering wheel and it was so cold. I didn’t get very much sleep that night. Our luck was much better the second night. We stopped at a very small town. And there were two restaurants to choose from. One was part of a casino. I was surprised to see a large casino out in the middle of nowhere. So, my instinct told me to choose the small family restaurant instead. And it was the right choice. After subsisting on Subway sandwiches, beef jerky, and water for two days, I was ready for some really good home cooked meal. As I waited for my food, I started to chat with the owners. They were a very nice couple who had been through some hardship themselves. After learning about my plight, the owners were very generous and didn’t charge me for dinner and they also offered free breakfast the next morning. They also directed me to a motel where the nice owner decided to let slide the “NO DOG” rule for us. I was very touched by their kindness and generosity. I felt as if these people were like my guardian angels. They gave me more than just food and shelter; they gave me HOPE and COURAGE to continue on my journey.

On the third night, I thought about staying in Las Vegas. It has been over twenty years since the last time I’ve been to Las Vegas and if I had thought it was an ugly city before, it’s even more ugly now than I had thought. Looking around the environment, I can see why it’s nick named — Sin City. I decided to skip the city and thought maybe a motel outside the city limit would be better. However, the motel I came to would not take Max because he was 10 pounds over the weight limit. It was really late and I was very tired. I pleaded with the clerk to let us stay but he wouldn’t. The clerk refused to budge from the rule that they will only accept dogs less than 45 pounds. Guess I wasn’t surprise by the clerk’s lack of compassion. After all, it was Las Vegas. So, I drove on for another few hours while trying to stay awake… finally just when I thought about sleeping in the SUV again, we found a place that took the pups and without extra pet fee. 🙂

The next day, we arrived to our new home around noon. I met my new roommate Shannon and instantly; I knew we would get along just fine. Her home is on the end of a street, surrounded by the beautiful wilderness. The back yard is part of the national forest with hiking trails that go for miles.

And for the first time in my life, I was able to wake up every morning and look outside my bedroom window to witness beautiful sunrise.

For the last few days, the furry kids and I have been getting up every morning to hike up to the top of the hill to see the gorgeous sunrise. As I sit on top of the boulder looking at the brightly lit sky, casting a warm glow to the valley below — I knew I found the place that I can finally have the quality of life I’ve been looking for. While I know there will be challenges ahead, but for the first time in years; I truly feel happy and free. And it looks like the furry kids feel the same way…

Thank you everyone for all your support. And for those of you who’ve donated money or bought prints, I can’t tell you how much your contribution means to me. All I can say is — THANK YOU!! I will never forget the favor and will find ways to pay it forward when I am back on my feet.  Happy Valentine’s Day! 😀

Snow Wimps In Action

I woke up this morning expecting the rain to come and wash away all the snow but since I live in the convergence zone, we got more snow instead — while the rest of the greater Seattle area got freezing rain on top of the snow from yesterday’s storm. Needless to say, the city pretty much came to a standstill from layers of ice. While I do agree, Seattleites are terrible drivers in snow but was it really necessary for the L.A. Times newspaper to insult us? Yesterday, the L.A. Times did a report about our snowstorm and called us snow wimps. The reporter was very condescending about our reactions to small amount of snow. I mean really… of all places, L.A.? They don’t even know how to drive in the rain and I doubt they would know how to drive in the snow at all — yet the reporter has the audacity to lecture us about our snow driving ability? I don’t like it when people make judgments without knowing how it really is. Does the reporter even know what the Seattle streets look like? I find the reporting really rude and not to mention bad journalism.  I know when I first moved down from Alaska, I had no problem driving in the snow but over the years, my ability becomes more cautious because of lack of practice. It’s hard to practice when it snows maybe a few times a year if even that. And that’s part of life… when you don’t continue to practice, you are not going to be good at it and eventually you might even forget how to do it. So… Take that L.A. Times… we are snow wimps and proud of it!

And speaking of practice. It has been a while since I shot my furry kids in action and with all the thick, fluffy snow; I thought it would be a good opportunity to practice my action shots. By afternoon, the snow fall had lighten up enough that I thought it would be okay to take my camera out in it. And of course, the furry kids love any opportunity to play in the snow.

One great thing about shooting Max in snow is his golden red fur. It creates nice contrast and makes it easier for me to get the correct exposure. Unlike Ms. Evie whose creamy white fur blends in too much with the snow. I tend to shoot her a little underexposed so that I can capture the details of her better.

Max is quite an athlete. He can catch Frisbees, knows how to play basketball, and he loves soccer. Nothing like a fun game of soccer in the snow. This was his first time playing soccer in the snow and as you can see, he was pretty good at it. 🙂

Will Work For Chicken Jerky

There was a rain break this afternoon and I thought I would take the opportunity to walk around the neighborhood with my camera —  and see what I can discover. As I was putting on my shoes, the furry kids started to jump around me with excitement. When I told them “NO, you stay”, they looked so disappointed; I felt guilty. Then as I walked out the driveway and past the big piles of leaves, a bright idea came to mind. I thought it would be fun to shoot the furry kids playing in the leaves. It wasn’t as easy as I thought. They weren’t exactly thrill about the modeling session and protested but… in the end, they were willing to work for chicken jerky. 🙂

One of the biggest challenges about photographing Max and Evie together is probably their contrasting fur colors. Because of Evie’s white fur and dark features, the camera has a difficult time detecting the correct exposure. If I set the exposure for Evie, Max usually end up being too dark and vice versa — if I set it for Max then Evie’s fur ends up being over exposed and lack contrast. In this case, I set the exposure for Evie and that way in Lightroom3, I have more room to play with the lighting to bring out the correct exposure in Max and the surrounding elements.

Be a Better Photographer: Shoot Your Dog

I love taking photos of my furry kids. Their wonderful personality and silly antics provides me with humorous entertainment but also a challenging opportunity to be a better photographer. Shooting the furry kids has helped me learn how to use the settings on my camera better than any other subjects. Most of the times, it’s a hit or miss kind of situations to get a good shot. Although with patience and treats, there are moments I have captured that are just precious.

Evie and Max playing in the summer snow.

Can you touch your nose with your tongue?

Weekend Discovery

After months of rainy, cold weather, the sun-drenched weekend was a welcome relief. On Saturday, we decided to head East on U.S. Route 2 or otherwise known as Stevens Pass for another much-needed road trip. Route 2 is an east–west U.S. Highway spanning 2,579 miles (4,150 km) across the northern continental United States.

With the cost of gas hovering close to $4.00 a gallon, we didn’t want to go too far and thought it would be fun to drive the scenic route 2 to the town, Leavenworth. It’s located about 115 miles from Seattle. Leavenworth is a small Bavarian style village nestled in a beautiful valley surrounded by tall mountain peaks. The last time I visited the place was about 15 years ago. Although the scenery was still amazing, the town felt more like a tourist trap. Especially, when a grilled bratwurst on a hot dog bun cost $11.

After we had our expensive hot dog, we drove around and saw a house for sale with the view below. What an amazing place to live… it almost made me want to move there. But, then again, I’m an ocean girl at heart. I like living close to the ocean.

On Sunday, we decided to stay closer to home and headed to Discovery Park in Seattle. What a gorgeous day!

Flowers blooming…

Kites flying… boats gliding…

We sat and soak up the sun, as we watch the furry kids run around, play ball, having a great time… just living in the moment.

Another beautiful day… ahh… life is good. 😀

The Unlucky Bamboo

I bought this lucky bamboo over a year ago for its beauty and name but also, hoping it would bring me some luck. 😉 Well… if there ever was a time when a name is misleading, this poor lucky bamboo got it. First, my cat decided to do a taste test on it and plucked all of its leaves. The lucky bamboo must have gone into shock because it took almost a year before I saw a new leaf. And just when it finally start to flourish, yesterday; Evie knocked it off the table while we were sleeping. Unfortunately, she plucked some of the leaves and ingested a few of the crystal gel fertilizer pieces. To make the long story short, a few hours later I had to rush Evie to the vet. Thankgoodness, she recovered but the lucky bamboo cost me $125.00 in vet bill. Gee… looks like I should call it the unlucky bamboo or perhaps, I should just throw it in the trash. 😦