Remembering Vietnam

By Sharon Younes

The following thoughts were inspired by a request to give tips when travelling to Vietnam.  Thank you to my husband, Tim, for the pictures and memories.

Both my children are from Vietnam. So In 2013 we took them back to their country of origin. In addition, my husband made a couple trips there to do humanitarian work.

 

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I guess it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: always drink bottled water or soda. And be careful of the ice in the glasses. You may want to opt out. There were times when I felt I had to have ice, so I did. I didn’t get sick, but you could be taking a chance. Try different foods. Some of it is delicious. In the hotels, their breakfasts are very big. They serve hot and cold foods, like a smorgasbord. And soup is served every time of the day, all the time.! At first you will not understand why, because the humidity is something else!! Very different from what we’re used to. It feels like 150% humidity. And it slaps you in the face and there’s no escape. What I mean is, at night, it doesn’t cool down very much. I remember showering in the late afternoon, so I could eat dinner feeling refreshed. But it didn’t happen. By the time we got to the restaurant and sat down,  I was all hot and sweaty again. To get the most out of the day, rise early, when the sun is a cooler. And plan your sightseeing and adventures in the morning.  Be careful of the vendors on the streets. Some vendor food can be very good. Most is inexpensive.

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The traffic in Saigon and big cities is crazy and you’ll wonder why you don’t see many accidents. There seems to be no organization to it. When you cross the streets, walk slowly across. The traffic, bikes and cycles will dodge around you. Don’t try to dodge them. In a day or so, you’ll get used to it. The beds in the hotels are very hard, the toilets can be crappy. When you leave the hotel room, your power will be turned off. Power outages are not uncommon.

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The Vietnamese are very friendly towards Americans. And you need not worry about violent crime. Be sure to bargain for everything, especially in the open air markets. When you need to rest you’re weary feet, get a pedicure. They are very inexpensive. On the whole, many things are very reasonably priced or cost next to nothing compared to what Americans are used to.


The Vietnamese people are small statured. And everywhere you look, you see little plastic tables and chairs; the kind used by children in America. But in Vietnam, they are a common site at outdoor eateries for adults! You will come to know what it is like to be different, to be the minority.

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If you ever visit this exotic country, I hope you have a wonderful time. Your comfort zone will certainly be challenged. And you can grow in graciousness and appreciation for what really counts in life. I miss the people:   their joy, simplicity of life, and their resourcefulness.

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Finding Love

      Video by Underground Pilots.

      The following poem was inspired by the Bordner Cabin Video.  And the fact that all is quiet in my home.

I long for a slower pace,

Six or seven days on retreat

In a cabin in the woods

Would do me just fine.

Take in all the sensations

Breather deeply fresh, crisp air

Warm sunshine; earthy smells

Surrounded  by trees that climb to the blue

And house the birds beyond what I can see.

To quiet my mind and follow

My slow, steady breath

Until my heart is quiet, too.

And I am present to the now,

To all stillness within me

That whispers love.

Yes, I am loved, I am loved.

In silence I find Love.

sharon younes, https://wondersatmywindow.wordpress.com

Reflections on Bringing Her Home

“One Happy Lady!”
        July, 2015

Jenna is placed in our arms at Portland Airport, March 14, 1994.

Jenna is placed in our arms at Portland Airport, March 14, 1994.

Reflections on Bringing Her Home

I am a Christian
And I believe in God.
I have known Him for a long time
But He has known  me forever.
No, He is not a figment
Of my imagination.
His presence was so strong
 One difficult Christmas Eve
That I had to turn my head
To see if He were physically
Joining us at the dinner table.

No, He was not physically there,
But I knew He was with us.

His presence and support
Were what carried us through
As we waited for the U.S. government
To allow our little girl
To enter our country
And become our daughter.

Oh what joy we had
When she was placed in our arms.
March 14, 1994
In Portland, Maine, U.S.A.
Driving home, what a haul
Stopping over night to get some sleep
A dresser drawer became her crib
And the crying did not stop.
So wide-awake at 4:00 a.m.
We packed the car again
For six more hours
with a six month old
Oh, how the car smelled of formula
when we pulled into the driveway
 in Camp Hill, PA.

She had some nicknames,
Like “Energizer Bunny”
For her never-ending energy
She became Houdini one day
Squirming out of her bouncer
All by herself.
Jennifer Huong Younes
Soon became Jenna
And the short name
Fit petite Jenna perfectly.

She smiles all the time
And has a pleasant disposition.
“She is one happy baby”
I remember Tim saying.
She wakes up every morning
With a smile on her face
And she sings for hours on end.
Not a baby anymore,
She still loves to laugh
And make others smile
She continues to be
One happy lady.”

I helped a bird today

Catbird on a Cage

I helped a bird today, a gray catbird, that is. He was in my garden, flitting around the tomato cages. As I watched, I saw him tug on some string. It was white kite string I had used last spring to hold the tomato vines in place. They were knotted here and there on the rungs of the  cages. He tugged and tugged, but with no success. Oh, I thought, he needs some help. So I walked over and he flew away. It took me about two minutes to get the tiny knot untied. There you go, little bird, come back and get your string. And he did, without a doubt!

Only One Person

                        

The following poem was inspired by my mother,
Carolyn,

 who used to yell at pivotal moments
 at my father, “Frank, I am only one person!”

My mother, Carolyn Caeti

I am only one person.
One mind, one heart, one soul
Two hands, two feet,
Two eyes to see,
Two ears to hear
And then to touch and taste
And smell yellow roses
And other such things
That come and go
And constantly flow
In and out and round about
My very being and soul
To put a stop
 To the endless thoughts
 Glance up at Me to see
My presence in your sight!
  

Befriend Yourself

Beautiful hibiscus in bloom, summer, 2013

Beautiful hibiscus in bloom, summer, 2013

I awoke this morning and looked out the window. There were those white dancing flakes again. I tried to work on a poem I started a couple weeks ago when the green, green grass appeared. But Mother Nature was not cooperating. So I chose to share this poem written by St. Teresa of Avila, a mystic who happened to be born some five hundred years ago today.  Her poem spoke to me of love of self, kindness and caring towards one’s very being. It is an important quality to aspire to; that of being a friend to yourself.  In finding your inner “friend”, you can find God.

LAUGHTER CAME FROM EVERY BRICK

Just these two words He spoke changed my life,

“Enjoy Me.”

What a burden I thought I was to carry –

a crucifix, as did He.

Love once said to me, “I know a song,

would you like to hear it?”

And laughter came from every brick in the street

and from every pore

in the sky.

After a night of prayer, He

changed my life when

He sang,

“Enjoy Me”.

– Teresa of Avila

taken from Poetseers.org

Oh where, oh where is Malta?

Malta, Malta, oh where oh where is Malta? Somewhere in the Mediterranean; actually 50km south of Sicily. My interest piked. My grandparents were from Italy, and one grandfather from Sicily. To find another island in close proximity! How exciting! Because Italians live for their food, I was interested in what types of food you’d find in Malta. Sure enough, there were some familiar sounding words:  fish in pasta sauces, sponge like desserts, kinnoli stuffed with ricotta, and a sugary paste of crushed and whole almonds.

In Malta, the fish in the pasta sauces are squid and octopus.  Not that I am familiar with such dishes.  But interestingly, my other half just made a pasta dish topped with “sawdust”, which is breadcrumbs mixed with sardines, anchovies, and sauce. My Aunt Anne  passed the recipe onto her 4 boys, and yes, her father (my grandfather), Nunzio, was from Sicily.

Kinnoli, richly stuffed with ricotta, can be found around the  US if you look for it. And the sugary sweet almond candy is one I so remember from my childhood. I recently tasted this sweet dessert again when I found it in a restaurant called Eataly, in New York City. It is called  Torrone, but in Malta it is known as Helwa-tat-Tork.I do imagine they are very similar in taste and texture.

A favorite dessert in both Malta and Italy.

A favorite dessert in both Malta and Italy.

There is another very appealing reason why I’d seriously consider traveling to Malta: the language. They have 2 official languages: Maltese, and English! Yes, English, I know how to speak the language. And that makes for an easier and more enjoyable time.

Fighting Back to Back

Virtues fighting vices, stained glass window (14th century) in the Niederhaslach ChurcH    En.m.wikipedia.org

Virtues fighting vices, stained glass window (14th century) in the Niederhaslach Church
En.m.wikipedia.org

 Virtues and Vices
Fighting back to back
Struggling to dominate
And be the one to win.
Purposeful intentions
Easily slip by
The busy mind and heart.

Vices those habits
We like at the start
They weigh us down
Cumbersome, heavy
Thief of money and time
Reputation and energy
In a not so easy knot
Tangled and drawn tight

Virtues build character
Light, strong and free
Lifts up what surrounds
Carries it oh so high
Extends to community
Rejoices with the good
Strives to give away
That which is love.

Day 9, Writing 201:Poetry

Strong as a Rock
When I first read this assignment, I figured I’d just pass on it. Not my “cup of tea” using others’ words and poetry. Until I read Dawn’s poem. I like how she arranged the words to form a strong, tall, Rock! So cool I may attempt my own Found Poetry in the near future!

Daily Devotions with Dawn

The lesson is to write a ‘FOUND’ poem, of scraps of words that are found in print, and make a collage, writing a poem about landscape, using enumeration.

Path and Rock are mentioned in my poem, and might be acceptable for landscape, but I had fun with the words, and this is what it says:

First,

Look UP

Things are going well,

Consider something better.

Seek a new destination.

Arise! Embrace! Discover! Endure!

Obtain strength,

Appreciate the Path,

Following my Companion’s Celestial Shoes,

Because Greater Faith

Changed my Heart:

LIVE,

Encircled

Upon the Rock!

Found Poem

Following my Companion’s Celestial Shoes, I thought of following the footsteps of the Lord, Jesus, who is my constant companion and my rock. He ‘encircles me with His love.

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