Thanksgiving reflection: Stewardship amid chaos

Life has a way of surprising us when we allow it. This Thanksgiving, I learned that my stewardship towards nature, causes, and relationships keeps me rooted. Stewardship is an active noun.

My parents have been living with me for two months now. The journey of getting to know each other again was arduous, yet fulfilling, because we were rooted in our stewardship to our relationship with each other. It involves a great deal of space, silence, respect, patience, open mind, courage, affirmation, humility, tears and laughter, assertion and forgiveness – from each of us… and here we are.

We’ve had quite a few adventures together – seeing redwoods and snow for the first time, experiencing the worst wildfires in the California’s history, exploring the history of Asian immigrants to San Francisco via Segways on Angel Island, visiting Legion of Honor to soak in the chronological artifacts of various culture and land, ruminating on Klimt and Rodin’s work, wine tasting, beer tasting, dancing, military appreciation, and adopting a new family of friends.




#parentshavingfun #rockymountains #colorado #firstime #snowlove

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Our “Romantic” Wedding Photos

Today would have been our 6th Wedding Anniversary.

The phone call went something like this on the morning of Oct 26, 2011 @ about 10:30 AM:

Him: Hello, honey, do you want to get married today?

Me: Hi honey. Is there any appointments open at the magistrate’s office today?

Him: Let me find out.

(He hung up and called the county’s office, and called back)

Him: There’s a 2:00 – 2:30 PM opening today. We’ll need two witnesses. I need to get back to him soon.

Me: Hmm… I’ll have to ask Steve. Can we, like, review every 2-3 years to see where we are?

Him: Ok.

(We ended the call and right in front of me was Steve. The rest of the unit were in Afghanistan. We were not deployed due to medical issues, so we were supporting the unit stateside comms and support.)

Me: Hey, Sgt. Young, can you be my witness later today? Gary and I have decided to get married.

Sgt. Young: What?! (laughing…) You crazy youngins… what time??

Me: I’ve to be at the county jail by 2:00 PM. Oh, and I need another witness.

Steve: What time is the appointment?

Me: 2.

Steve: Don’t you need to go back and change or something?

Me: But we get off work only at noon. Isn’t my uniform presentable??

Steve: (Shook his head laughing) Just go… leave now and go home and change. I’ll call Josh and we’ll see you there at 1:30PM.

Me: Yes, Sgt.

(I left work, walking to the car)

Me: Ok, I found 2 witnesses, Steve and Josh. Steve chased me home and commanded me to change my clothes. So I’m coming home now.

Him: (laughed) Ok honey, see you soon.

Steve and Josh signing as our witnesses in front of the magistrate, behind bulletproof glass in Moore County Jail.

Garden wedding in front of the library, across the street from the jail.

Photo shoot after the ceremony. Josh adjusting Steve’s uniform.

Letterpress and Beer-making

My parents are in town to visit for 2 months. We’ve not seen each other for more than 6 years…

I also started attending a grief support group 3 weeks ago. The first meeting was hard, as we were reminded of why we were gathered in the same space. I thought of dropping out of the group at first, but decided against it.

Activities that I have been doing:

A letterpress workshop that Tina introduced me to… At Sebastopol’s North Bay Letterpress Arts (NBLA). It was so enriching to go back in time, the 1800s specifically, to personally experience how papers and books were printed. We printed on little coasters that Tina brought. Again, with Tina’s brilliance, I made a little wordplay on mine…

#letterpress #coaster

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To keep myself in touch with the East Bay, I decided joined a very cool group of beer-makers in Berkeley, Queers Makin’ Beers:

I also returned to Denver over a weekend to visit new friends made during the opening. Since I still had Gary’s phone, I made a little timelapse of the city view from my room:


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Here Comes the Sun

Felt so much love last week. Caught up with old friends, made new ones, laughed together and cried together. Explored new places, do new things, breaking boundaries and limits.

Lizzy and Dave took really good care of me when I was in Idaho.

The airport staff were respectful and helpful. There were periods in the airport when it was crowded and noisy, something that a little Hiromi’s Beethoven Sonata #8, Op 13 Adagio Cantabelle on repeat quickly silent.

Randomly chatted with a woman on the train from the airport to downtown Denver – it turned out that we a common friend.

I also visited my first lesbian bar, where I got to know two women who were at the Standing Rock protests. Needless to say, they were at Gary and Stephanie’s opening night.

Stephanie’s impromptu dance at Union Station’s fountain, among the children, was priceless.

Our breakfast hostess not only came for the opening, but also brought Stephanie and I a bouquet of sunflower, each.

On my flight home from Denver, a kind man swapped his first class seat for my economy class seat, because we were both soldiers. I flew United. The stewardesses, and the 28-year law enforcement veteran who sat next to me were friendly.

All in all, my trip was rich, fulfilling and happy.

Dave and Gary in 2013

#mesafalls #nature

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Dave and I in 2017

Gary and Stephanie’s “Using Photography for Healing” opening at Art Gym

Frank and Steph

Gallery view from above

The people that made this show happen




Sometimes, there are just no words. What I’ve been doing since my last post:

  • Campout among the redwoods in Philo with a group of new friends. Made a new spoon out of a driftwood from this campout:

New spoon from #driftwood #stabilizedwood #woodworking #woodcarving

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  • Loved my first campout so much, that I made a solo campout nearby on the following week:

#bedroomforthenight #nature

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  • After months of avoidance, I finally recorded a self-indulging jam session.

Selamat Hari Raya Puasa (Eid ul-Fitr) to my Muslim friends…

My Muslims friends around the world are celebrating the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Growing up in Malaysia, I’ve observed many Muslim events. Over the years of being a bystander of Ramadan, I’ve fasted with friends, respected their quieter times, recited a few lines of their routine prayer, sat in our empty school canteen, preserved energy with my friends and weaved “Ketupat”, a weaved coconut frond case, used to fill and cook rice, as part of our preparation for “Raya”. We would also make a list of friends who had invited us to their homes during the week of celebration, and plan routes of whose home to visit first.

If I was in school till evening, mom would pick me up and head to the night market, or “Pasar malam”, as we call it. You’ll recognize one when you’re close – stalls lit up our little town at dusk, where glorious home-cooked were dished atop plastic or worn out laminated wooden folding tables. The aroma of spices, and smells from different curries, satay, roti, seafood, blend so well, as if the air molecules were dancing to Vivaldi’s Spring. If we were a little early, the sun ray would peer through the gaps of the stalls’ tarp that was held up by aluminum rods and tied down by a rope and boulder. As I wander shoulder-to-shoulder, with the rest of most likely 3 quarters of the town, very likely, we would bump into someone we know, and mom will stop for a little chit-chat, while my eyes roam around to see what I want for dinner. On a successful evening, we would score pink plastic bags of goodies bought from various stalls.

The end of Ramadan is followed by a week of visiting homes of various Muslim friends (and teachers), where we were welcomed with a feast of “Ketupat” (steamed rice in weaved coconut fronds), “Rendang” (beef curry stew), “Sayur Lemak” (vegetables in coconut milk), served with “Air Ros Sirap” (ice-cold rose water in condensed milk). We would greet each other with “Maaf Zahir dan Batin”, which means “pardon my physical and emotional wrongdoings” in Malay. After good food, drinks and sweets, it’s time to move on to the next home! Adults would send children of friends’ home with a green paper pocket filled with some pocket money.

One year, I remembered a friend gifted me a set of “Baju Kurung” that she grew out of. It was a little tight, but I wore it for a few special occasions.

Here’s a photo of me and the rest of the non-Muslims in my high school, making “Ketupat”, while our Muslim friends were in their Religious studies class. It had been more than 20 years…

… and here, a photo of my class, one of the “Science-stream” classes, after a period of Chemistry lesson. We are now mothers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, therapists and broadcasters. I was seated in the front because I was short, and in the center, because I was the loudest. 😀