old friends framed in time together

old friends copy
Old Friends.

A picture on the wall of a mining museum. A man and his dog. From the background it appears they sat for this portrait in the artist’s studio. How long had they been patiently sitting together in this posture? How many sessions? Perhaps not too long. In real life how long had they been friends? I recall two faithful dogs (our longstanding family friends) we used to have as kids. They were mother and son, the son lived about fifteen years, the mother lived eighteen years. They accompanied us growing up. After they were gone, I do not remember my parents keeping another dog.

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whose heritage?

heirloom
Heritage
means something that is handed down from the past: as a tradition, a national heritage of honor, pride, and courage; something that comes or belongs to one by reason of birth; ; something reserved for one: the heritage of the righteous; something that has been or may be inherited by legal descent or succession. any property, especially land, that devolves by right of inheritance.

It is no coincidence that I recently came across a small heritage through a relative. The items are not exactly that old. The original owners lived around the time when the formation of the Republic of China as a constitutional republic put an end to 4,000 years of Imperial rule. The Qing dynasty, (also known as the Manchu dynasty), ruled from 1644–1912. I brought some of them back to the heirs who have confirmed that they are not selling. The above photo shows two Chinese Swatow (Shantou) Pewter Tea Caddy Containers (possibly a hundred or less years old), a Vintage Chinese Hand-carved Cork Art and a collection of modern poetry published in 1987 included because they were found together.

According to China Daily, Shantou people “drink more tea than anyone else in China. Shantou became a city significant in 19th-century Chinese history as one of the treaty trading ports established for Western trade and contact, sited both American and British Consulates. Today the historic quarter of Shantou features both Western and Chinese architecture. Online source states that about 2% of the population belongs to an ‘organized’ religion, with 40,000 Protestants, 20,000 Catholics and 500 Muslims.

What are the real values of heirlooms? No one can place any intrinsic value on any item except the heir herself/himself. In this case, I have checked the websites of some auction houses and found varying values have been cited on similar items. But the final word is from the heirs and they say, “No, we intend to just keep them.”

I try reading up the history of those who fled the strategic trading and battle port occupied by the Japanese army during 1939-1945 and moved to the rest of the world. I cannot imagine how they could have carried and preserved heavy tea canisters and other intricate sets of silver and beautiful fragile bone China tea sets which I have also found in that house.

There are many things we do not understand about the generations before us. I cannot understand their values and priorities. Perhaps I am too engrossed in the modern technology-savvy world in which we give high value to anything close to ‘weightlessness’. We grumble about a laptop weighing 3lbs and above. On the other hand, we do not mind going to the gym to lift heavy metal to get our muscles in tune.

Well, here are some realistic observations from a book I am reading, by a futurist.
“…For example, today’s high school students have a hard time understanding why Columbus risked life and limb to find a shorter trade route to the spices of the East. Why couldn’t he simply go to the supermarket, they ask, and get some oregano? But in the days of Columbus, spices and herbs were extremely expensive. They were prized because they could mask the taste of rotting food, since there were no refrigerators in those days. At times, even kings and emperors had to eat rotten food at dinner. There were no refrigerated cars, containers, or ships to carry spices across the oceans.) That is why these commodities were so valuable that Columbus gambled his life to get them, although today they are sold for pennies…”

Yet, on the other hand, the futurist admitted this, “…The point is: whenever there is a conflict between modern technology and the desires of our primitive ancestors, these primitive desires win each time. That’s the Cave Man Principle.” ”
― Michio Kaku, Physics Of The Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny And Our Daily Lives By The Year 2100

Agree. I would rather take a cup of hot tea with a spot of fresh milk than staring at the cold laptop in the cold, unheated cave. You know, the value of a laptop easily depreciates to zero within a couple of years. But a tea canister appreciates its value with decades/centuries and is still going strong.

You are not alone: a haiku bird song

an evening lone gull

Seeing with your heart
I am next to you in tune
You are not alone

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At first the traveler thought there was just one lone bird perched on a pole. When looking closely at the picture, another tiny bird emerged on a lower pole. Voilà! Not a lone bird after all.

(This much reduced-size photo was taken from a series at random by another traveler who kindly shared them. Sizes of photo-data are reduced as internet is limited and costly here. The sky is so water-color-dream-like. It reminded this traveler of the first water-color assignment copied from a magazine as a kid many years ago.)

And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” (Genesis 1:20-22)

random words, definitions, quotes: LIBERAL

Claude_Monet_023sToday we look at the definition of a popular English word that came from France. LIBERTY/LIBERAL/FREE. French libre ‎(free, having liberty, at liberty)

Origin of LIBERAL comes from:Middle English: via Old French from Latin liberalis, from liber ‘free (man)’. The original sense was ‘suitable for a free man’, hence ‘suitable for a gentleman’ (one not tied to a trade), surviving in liberal arts. Another early sense, ‘generous’, gave rise to an obsolete meaning ‘free from restraint’.

Oxford dictionary Definition of liberal in English: adjective

1Open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values. 1.1Favorable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms 1.2 (In a political context) favoring maximum individual liberty in political and social reform. 1.5 Theology Regarding many traditional beliefs as dispensable, invalidated by modern thought, or liable to change. 2 [attributive] (Of education) concerned mainly with broadening a person’s general knowledge and experience, rather than with technical or professional training. 3(Especially of an interpretation of a law) broadly construed or understood; not strictly literal or exact: 4Given, used, or occurring in generous amounts: 4.1(Of a person) giving generously: noun 1A person of liberal views.
Synonyms of liberal in English: adjective
1 the values of a liberal society
tolerant, unprejudiced, unbigoted, broad-minded, open-minded, enlightened; permissive, free, free and easy, easygoing, libertarian, indulgent, lenient
2 a liberal social agenda
progressive, advanced, modern, forward-looking, forward-thinking, progressivist, enlightened, reformist, radical
3 a liberal education
wide-ranging, broad-based, general
4 a liberal interpretation of divorce laws
flexible, broad, loose, rough, free, general, nonliteral, nonspecific, imprecise, vague, indefinite
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Oxford dictionary Definition of liberty in English: noun (plural liberties)

1The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views 2The power or scope to act as one pleases: individuals should enjoy the liberty to pursue their own interests and preferences 2.1 Philosophy A person’s freedom from control by fate or necessity.
Origin Late Middle English: from Old French liberte, from Latin libertas, from liber ‘free’.
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QUOTES ON “LIBERTY”
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
George Orwell
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Nelson Mandela
“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?”
Mahatma Gandhi
“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”
George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman
“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
[Inaugural Address, January 20 1961]
John F. Kennedy
 “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”
John Philpot Curran
“The most fatal thing a man can do is try to stand alone.”
Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”
John Milton, Areopagitica
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QUOTES FROM THE BIBLE: LIBERTY FROM FEAR
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
“So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” John 8:36
“Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.” John 10:9
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love”  1 John 4:18 [Full Chapter]

His eyes are too blurred: a dictionary of a haiku

blurred eyes

His eyes are too blurred

hands too shaky to focus

a sharpness in soul

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Writing Haiku is an art and a science. Here is a summary of the structure and usual form. Being a haiku writer since I first encountered a Japanese haiku many years ago, I now say it is more an art than a science. Although I like to discipline my writing to its form and structure, I have allowed the moment of event (a picture, a thought, a feeling) free flow in the content. It takes seconds to put down the words. But it could take sometime to look at the pictures I have taken and try to capture the moment in time as spoken in my picture.

A summary of basic haiku writing (without a picture):

There are no specific rules for writing haiku; however, the structure of a haiku is usually the same, including the following features:

  • Only three lines, totaling 17 syllables throughout
  • The first line is 5 syllables
  • The second line is 7 syllables
  • The third line is 5 syllables like the first
  • Punctuation and capitalization rules are up to the poet, and need not follow rigid rules used in structuring sentences. (For ease of typing, I do not use punctuation or capitalization unless a particular haiku warrants them.)
  • Haiku does not have to rhyme, in fact many times it does not rhyme at all. (I like to rhyme at times as I sing the haiku out loud.)
  • Some haiku can include the repetition of words or sounds. (The sound of words adds flavor to languages. As I read out loud I like to put in words that sound right.)

The content: Haiku is a descriptive form of poetry. Originating in Japan, haiku poems typically discuss the natural world: seasons, months, animals, insects, and even the smallest elements of nature, down to a blade of grass or a drop of dew. However, the individual today writes whatever words that come to mind. I am not particular about this. On the whole, my readers would have noticed I tend to stick to nature in my photography and poems.