31 December 2009

life is a journey

The sun rises, the sun sets; then to its place it speeds and there it rises.   -Ecclesiastes 1:5

28 December 2009

blue skies and good-byes

You can take a girl out of the islands.

But you can't take the islands out of a girl.

17 December 2009

joyeux noël

If all goes well, I'll soon be on a long, long journey to be somewhere really, really far from France.

So here's wishing everyone everywhere a peaceful, restful Christmas. May you all be surrounded by love and blanketed in comfort.

I'll be flying back on the night of the 24th -- I'm hoping that perhaps, just perhaps, I'll be looking out of the airplane window and see a certain sleigh led by a group of reindeers.

14 December 2009

first snow

We were decorating the church when the children came in and told us, "It's snowing outside!"

The light, fluffy snow melted as soon as it touched the stone pavement. As I looked up to the sky and watched it fall, the word that came to my mind was "forgiveness."

We sang carols (my favorite part was singing "Silent Night" in German), chatted with friends afterwards, and headed home with a cup of vin chaud in hand.

11 December 2009

which way to bethlehem?

Mark doesn't say anything at all about the event. John's account is abstract and figurative.

Matthew mentions the Magi but not the shepereds. Nothing about the manger, either.

Luke doesn't discuss the wise men, but gives the poor, lonely shepherds the big honor.

And did anyone really say anything, anywhere, about the inn being overbooked? Guess it's time to find out.

07 December 2009

marché de noël de lyon

I love outdoors markets, especially the seaonal ones.

I've been to many Christmas markets in my life, but Marché de Noël de Lyon may just be the best one I've ever been to.


I've already been there twice, and I'm planning at least one more trip down there.

And why not? Even if I don't buy anything, it's so much fun to just walk around and look. Of course, it's hard to get out of there without buying anything!

There's plenty of food, and if it gets a bit too cold, there's vin chaud. Ahhhh.

The prices tend to be high, but these are all artisan stuff. Beautifully made, beautifully packaged.

The vendors all display their goods very artistically. Again, it's fun just to look. Can I go around one more time?

No, my son says. I have to bribe him with food. Would you like crepe, soup, or German sausage?

These chocolate chunks with wooden spoons are for chocolat chaud -- one for 3€, four for 10€, or ten for 20€. Guess how many I bought?

You can read more about Marché de Noël here. The market is right outside of Perrache station, and there is a nice playground at the square if you're with little ones and they get antsy. You can watch them play as you sip that cup of vin chaud.

04 December 2009

mele kalikimaka

She's come a long way, from the Christmas market at the Mission Houses Museum in Honolulu, all the way to France. That's half way across the world.

I wonder if she misses home. I sure do.

01 December 2009

come, christmas

Our front door, Christmas version.

I thought about hanging a wreath, but there seems to be a rule enforced by the homeowners' association in this building, that says "heart-shaped ornaments only on front doors."

So, no wreath this year.

27 November 2009

the annunciation

The angel said to her, "Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God's favour. Look! You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High." -Luke 1:30-32

18 November 2009

giving thanks

Having missed out on Halloween, I signed up immediately when I heard about this Thanksgiving gathering.

Then I brought the dish I've always made on Thanksgiving, a layered salad, that everyone seems to like. It's not a dish I'd make for a family of three, so I was very happy to have a large group of people to prepare it for.

I got a little teary when I walked in, because the place was decorated so beautifully. Turns out there was a group of people visiting from the U.S., and they had brought the holiday decorations with them for this occasion.

Did I ever mention anywhere that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of all? More than Christmas, more then Easter, it has always resonated with me. I hold dear the idea of having a formal occasion to gather together with family and friends to share a meal, for the simple purpose of giving thanks for all that we have. I also like how it hasn't been commercialized (or "kiddied-down") the way other holidays have been and is therefore low-key.

I was very, very glad to have a place to be and people to be with, to celebrate my favorite day of the year, albeit several days early. I sat across the table from a local (i.e., French) gentleman who reminded me of our uncle in Nothern Virginia, not least because they have the same name. Oh, how I miss him and other relatives on the East Coast.

But this is where I am now, and these are the people I am with. It would be a shame not to celebrate that.

So I say, with a thankful heart, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, everywhere.

07 November 2009

one small light

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. - Matt 5:16.

02 November 2009

scenes from Geneva

Geneva. What a beautiful city.

We only had a day (and spent nearly one-third of that at Palais des Nations), so I'm not sure if we saw much.

But what we did see was lovely, and we enjoyed it all.

The weather was perfect in a it's-the-beginning-of-fall kind of way, and because it was a bit overcast, I had excellent lighting for taking photos all day.

This kind of shows what my frame of reference has become, but my first impression of Geneva was that its streets and sidewalks were clean. I was walking around while looking up at the buildings and taking photos, and I didn't have to worry about stepping on something!

The only thing that wasn't lovely was how expensive everything was. We went to Starbucks for breakfast (because breakfast for a family of three at our hotel would have cost us over 100CHF), and there, a venti cafe Americano was 6.20CHF, a maple walnut scone 3.80CHF. I wanted to buy one of those huge mugs that said "Starbucks Geneva" (I know, I know, but I was a tourist in Geneva), but I didn't get one because it was 19.50CHF! That's approximately $19.50, or 12€!

A quick web search reveals that Geneva has the honor of being the fourth most expensive city in the world. Ouch. FYI, Lyon has the 18th position, Paris 9th. I'm not sure why San Francisco didn't make the list -- L.A. is listed at 15th.

But this post isn't about other cities; it's about Geneva.

We had to pay 30€ for a Swiss Highway Pass that expires at the end of the year, so our plan is to go back soon.

It's only an hour and a half away, so why not?

22 October 2009

a walk up (and down) the hill

I love walking around in Croix Rousse.

It's a section of Lyon that's on the hill, with narrow streets loaded with curious façades and passageways. It's hip and artsy here, but there's never too much traffic -- at least not when I'm wandering around, which is usually earlier in the day. I just meander about this way and that way (thank you, whoever invented GPS), stopping here and there to take photos.

Speaking of artsy, I think Croix Rousse has the best selection of graffiti in Lyon.

When I first came to Lyon, I was very surprised at the amount of graffiti that littered the city. Here we were in a lovely French city with century-old buildings, and many of them were covered with graffiti! In fact, I think there's more graffiti here than anywhere else I've ever been to (and I've lived in the D.C. area as well as the L.A. area). What a shame, I thought.

But my take on that has since changed. I still do not appreciate graffiti on old wooden doors -- that would be difficult and costly to repair -- but I see many graffiti that are very intricate and very sophisticated; I can tell that someone spent a lot of effort creating them. It's a form of expression, a creative outlet.

So I've come to see them as pieces of art. They are part of Lyon's character.

Here's a link to a self-guided walking tour (in English!) in Croix Rousse. But Croix Rousse is a great area to get lost in, and just following whichever street appeals to you the most may be an excellent way to explore this fantastic section of Lyon.

Just remember to bring your GPS (or follow the dog down the hill).

19 October 2009

found at Monoprix Cordeliers

Classic Foods of America!
Original Pancake Mix: America's Finest!

The original recipe of America!

Ingredient list in French and German...

Also in Spanish and Luxemburgish (I'm assuming, because the flag is that of Luxemburg. I had to look it up)...

Preparation method explained in all these four languages as well. But not in English. After all, this pancake mix is produit de France.

I guess, if you're from the U.S., you should know what's in America's finest original pancake recipe, and you should also know how to make it, right?