Lending Hands of Faith to our Finch of Faith

Before reading, if you haven’t already, for the background story check March 28 post, “Mea Culpa.” 

Thunderstorms engulfed our area of Illinois yesterday evening.  The weather cells affected large swaths of the Midwest, including swooping down through the southern states which suffered tornadoes and destruction.  For those affected, I send out my thoughts and prayers.

In Marshall, high winds pushed through the entire night. In the back bedroom of the house, where I am now sleeping, I heard tree trunks groan, branches snap, the wind howl, and the garage door bang.  I wondered about our little Finch of Faith, whose wreath-nest home was sheltered under the porch but teetered on precariously flimsy grounding. Only a single nail held the wreath in place, and the massive winds I heard seemed most likely to send her circular abode flying.

The finch nest is sturdily secured within the wreath but the wreath itself, not so much to the side of the house.

This morning,  despite the cheerful vibrant blue skies speckled with fluffy white clouds, the blowing continued.

On the front porch, I watched the wind  lift high and sway to and fro our bird’s home without her being in it.  But it was not completely empty.  Three eggs, not present yesterday, were now sunk deep within.

“We need to anchor it,” my mom suggested as we pondered how to help our little one protect her charges.  I suggested string, tied to an adjacent nail on the right, while my mom took to the other side with adhesive tape and tacking in place the back of the wreath itself.

Together, we carefully and quickly gave our ward the stability needed for her to remain safe on her eggs, without the worry of the entire thing being flung across the yard with yet another assailing gale.

We have done all we can to give her the safe environment needed for the protection and nurturing of her young.  Now we wait for her return, and have faith that she will be here very, very soon.

Today’s Prayer:  Dear Lord, Give me the faith I need to make it through challenging days.  When I feel overwhelmed with tragic news and hopelessness, open my eyes.  Help me see You at work in the world: at work through others, at work in daily routines, at work in home and at work through my own hands, guided by Your strength and grace.  In Your name I pray, Amen.


Posted in A Message of Faith, A Visit Home to America, A Visit Home to Marshall, Illinois, Smalltown American Life | 1 Comment

Toilet paper back in stock: “Mine, mine, mine!”


The surprising run on toilet paper the past 2 weeks left paper product aisles vacant.

Toilet paper and boxed tissue/Kleenex items were not to be found until recently when at least bulk toilet paper returned this week to our local Walmart.  My mom and I, however, were forced to buy a 20-roll package of Scott, our favorite brand, instead of single or 4-roll packages, which were not to be had.

20 rolls of toilet paper were our only option.  That’ll last us well into next year!

Aside from us, who else in the family was interested in toilet paper?  None other than our Chinese rescue, Bridget.  

Miss B, as we like to call her, has been with my mom now for 9 months after I brought her here from China last summer.  She has adapted very well to American life, and that includes her love of toilet paper.

To those of you with a canine companion:  Keep your toilet paper close, and your dog even closer.  Enjoy your day, everyone.  I know Miss B is certainly enjoying hers.


Posted in A Visit Home to Marshall, Illinois, Travel, Visit To The States | 1 Comment

Mea Culpa: It’s the Finch of Faith, not the Dove of Peace

Hey, folks!  I owe you all a mea culpa.

Last post eloquently postulated about our mourning doves which I announced had created a nest in the front door wreath.  It was a logical assumption as last year, they made woven homes in my mom’s hanging porch pots.  However, seems I  jumped the gun on that one.

My mom has just informed me that a house finch fluttered from the nest this morning after she went out to get the mail.  I’m owning up to this one.  No dove of peace but what say you to the Finch of Faith?  I like that!

And I even found a fitting quote to go along with our sweet little nesters:

“Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.”  Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), Bengali poet, short-story writer, song composer, playwright, essayist, and painter out of Calcutta, India.

From Illinois, here’s to keeping the faith, and the 平安 (ping ahn), Peace.

Posted in A Visit Home to America, A Visit Home to Marshall, Illinois, Smalltown American Life, Travel, Travel, Visit To The States | 2 Comments

Our little bird brings hope

The mourning dove

We know spring is here when our mourning doves are flitting about with tufts of dry grass, weeds and stalks in their beaks.  According to the mourning dove info I’ve found, peak nesting time is in late spring or early summer.  But for our mourning doves, looks like they’re getting a head start on things.

Upon getting the mail today, we noticed something quite unusual and surprising in the front door wreath at our house:  A mourning dove nest!

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According to the experts, the eggs (when they finally appear, usually as a pair) are incubated for 14-15 days. Both parents will take turns keeping them warm.  When the young finally do hatch, the adults will brood them continually for 4 to 5 days.  If true, we have a lot to look forward to and for an extended period of time, so it seems.

Let’s celebrate new life in the midst of the turmoil and upheaval surrounding us. Leave it to the bird of peace to bring us hope this Eastertide.  Thank you, mother bird!  My mom and I anxiously await the arrival of your little ones whose presence is greatly and enthusiastically welcomed.

Waiting with anticipation for our nest to be full.

From Illinois, may a mourning dove enter your life and  平安 (ping ahn), peace, embrace your day.

Posted in A Visit Home to Marshall, China, coronavirus, Illinois, Luzhou, Luzhou Vocational and Technical College, Smalltown American Life, Travel | Leave a comment

A year ago today: My Rescued Amaryllis

I had so much been looking forward to this time of year in China due to a particularly touching rescue which took place a year ago.  I include my WeChat journal entry here to explain the story and my sadness in a delayed return.

March 23, 2019

Today, I took advantage of the cooler weather and a free Saturday to once again trek the countryside trails in my area.


For 3 years,  I have been exploring and visiting farm families in the deep hills surrounding  the school.  But, alas, the bulldozing and construction sites have finally taken over. Plans for the expansion of my school campus are the culprits.  Luzhou Vocational and Technical College is well on its way to spreading far and wide into its Phase 2 development project: building a nearby second campus.  This includes a high-rise apartment complex for our teachers’ families (we only have a single teacher apartment building at present), an experimental elementary school run by the college to train our future teachers, a furthering education department for adult educators of all majors, new dormitories for increased student population, more classroom buildings and another cafeteria plus school store are expected to be completed within the next 2 years.

Land was handed over by the city government for this but construction didn’t begin until just recently.


The Chinese Farmer’s Lament

I enjoyed talking to my newfound friends on my weekly  wanderings and we had a treasured relationship.  I often asked when they would leave. They continued to wait, knowing it would take time for the workers to get to their area.

The time of demolition arrived after my return from America during our Spring Festival holidays.  The Year of the Pig brought no reprieve for my friends.

Today, I walked my old countryside pathways to find rubble where once stood happy homes.  My farming friends were lamenting their loss of land, community and beauty of countryside life.  They had stayed as long as possible but now, a majority were moving to a more populous city area, into housing complexes provided by the city government.

My bulb rescues

During those years of walking trails, I had admired a rusted bucket of amaryllis which bloomed  with such elegance.  I admired these flowers for 3 springs but dared not remove them. Today, with their impending doom, I rescued the hardy bulbs to take home with me. I salvaged 6, placed in a discarded bag and returned to my apartment to replant in a new home.

The sadness I felt watching the China landscape I cherished being ripped to shreds was overwhelming.  It is hard to witness such destruction and feel powerless to stop it.  But I have this one small piece of the friends I once knew:  amaryllis which someone kept with such care and devotion, tending to the plants’ needs and watching them bloom at the doorstep from their bucket resting place.

Whoever you are, fear not that your flowers have disappeared along with your family home and memories of nostalgia.  I will keep them safe. Your flowers and I shall make a new life together, one which will make you proud.  And every year, when they bloom, I will think of you, your family members and your lovely home surrounded by tall, thick bamboo, those many years ago.  Know that you will not be forgotten.  I am sure they will grow to be happy here.  I certainly know I am happy to have them.

April 3 – 10, 2019


Follow-up:  Today, March 25, 2020

I left my amaryllis pots and my houseplants in the care of my colleague and neighbor, Bruce Lu. All are positioned on the bathroom’s tile floor, where it is easier for them to be watered. Bruce has the key to my apartment and has been tending to them every 2 weeks, a duty which now seems to have no end in sight.   I can only imagine my amaryllis might be feeling a bit depressed, once again feeling deserted by family they loved.  I have not heard reports from Bruce if they’ve begun to grow yet or not after a long winter slumber. I can only console them with this:  “Take cheer, little ones.  Grow as best you are able, and hope that next year, we will be reunited to once more enjoy your beauty together.” 

From Illinois, here’s wishing you 平安 (ping ahn), peace, for your day. 


Posted in A Visit Home to America, China, coronavirus, coronavirus situation in China, Luzhou: Yangtze Rivertown Stories, Tales of China, Travel | Tagged | Leave a comment

An Update from Australian, Geoff, in Luzhou, China

Geoff and Snow in Luzhou, along the Yangtze, last year

My posting of February 24, “My friend, Australian Geoff, gives daily Luzhou updates” told the story of Geoff and his Chinese wife, Snow, who are currently in Luzhou.  Geoff’s posts can be found at snows.site123.me.  

If you are interested in the back-story of these two, I suggest returning to my February 24th entry which explains the fascinating story of this couple, including the current state of Snow who is confined to a wheelchair after a massive stroke at the age of 51.

If you get a little confused upon logging on to Geoff’s site, that’s because he has been re-posting from 3 years ago Snow’s stroke situation, which happened in Africa.  Just scroll onward and you will see he moves into the present-day situation of Luzhou, which is now almost back to normal.

Geoff has just written a piece for his local Australian newspaper in Lithgow which I will pass along to you here. You might be interested in the read.

https://www.lithgowmercury.com.au/story/6679908/living-in-lock-down-through-the-eyes-of-lithgows- geoff-ogden/?cs=14713

We Didn’t Act Soon Enough

Geoff’s comments in his website posting today shared his bafflement at the slowness to take the virus seriously:   The world had an unprecedented heads-up on this virus situation by watching China’s struggle to contain and deal with it.  Why didn’t anyone act sooner?!

I have no answer for that but we are in the midst of it now.  All I can hope for is we listen to the experts, adhere to our local, state and national government’s adamant suggestions how to stay safe, follow others’ advice to the letter that is needed to halt this thing, and lend one another support as best we can.

From Marshall, here’s wishing you safety and 平安 (ping ahn) for your day, along with  this lovely quote below:

“When you are in doubt, be still, and wait;

When doubt no longer exists for you then go forward with courage.

So long as mists envelop you, be still;

Be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists-As it surely will.

Then act with courage.”         — Ponca Chief White Eagle, Go Forward With Courage




From my countryside walks in China: A field of rapseed in full bloom.

Posted in A Visit Home to America, A Visit Home to Marshall, China, coronavirus, Travel | Leave a comment

Today is World Happiness Day! Rejoice and be glad

Hey, Folks!!
Let’s think of something other than doom and gloom in the world, and what better to lift our spirits than today, March 20, World Happiness Day?
I had to do some research on this interesting UN sanctioned day, which I was unfamiliar with until I came across it in a CNN news article today.
The Prime Minister of Bhutan was credited for having started this one in 2011.  Read below of what I learned.
About Bhutan
Bhutan is a tiny country of 700,000 located adjacent to China and Nepal.  It is touted as having a unique culture and traditions steeped in mysticism and spirituality.  One website lists 5 characterics of the people:  satisfied with how they live (not overly materialistic); not into modern devices (computers, cell phones, appliances); strong belief in Buddhism; no one smokes (a smoking ban has been in effect since “forever”);  the citizens live in a pollution -free environment, with the country tucked deep into the Himalayan Mountain range and the people living in untouched wilderness.
Tourists are said to regard Bhutanese as the friendliest people in the world.  Is it any wonder that Bhutan proposed a World Happiness Day to the United Nations in 2011, which brought international attention to happiness as a measurement of well-being.
In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly declared March 20 as World Happiness Day, which recognizes “the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives.”
If you’re wondering which countries, besides Bhutan, are listed as the happiest, take a look at what I found.
The Gallup World Poll yearly analyzes 156 countries and ranks according to happiness.  Here are the findings for 2020:

World’s happiest countries

1. Finland
2. Denmark
3. Switzerland
4. Iceland
5. Norway
6. Netherlands
7. Sweden
8. New Zealand
9. Austria
10. Luxembourg
On World Happiness Day:  Take Time to Do Something which brings you Happiness!
I realize that many of us at this time find little to be happy about.  Fear, anxiety and worry engulf us as dire doom-and-gloom announcements bombard us on a daily, hourly, even minutely basis.
Let’s try to pull ourselves away from the TV, disheartening newspaper articles, computer pandemic searches and listening to disconcerting radio reports.  We can use  this extraordinary, precious opportunity to spread some happiness, both in our lives and in others.  We can take extra time to:  be with family, read good books that have been put on hold for years due to busy-ness, watch a fun movie, dig through long-lost recipes and try out a few for upcoming meals, tidy up the house for a self-satisfying feeling of accomplishment, go through old photograph albums of nostalgic memories past and present, or mail cards and hand-written personal notes to relatives, friends and lonely neighbors in your community, or, for those who are religious, your faith-centered family.
I am sure if you sit down and think on it, you’ll come up with even better ones than I’ve listed.  Give it a go!
My Happiness Defined
Despite the indefinite delay in my return to China, a country I call home, and my full-filling work as an Amity Foundation English teacher there, I am very grateful and thankful for this time in Marshall with my mom.  It has been a Godsend in many ways, and continues to be so, as we spend our special time together reminiscing, discussing, advising, agreeing and disagreeing, getting on each other’s nerves (yes, it does happen!) and everything else that goes on between a close-knit mother and daughter pair.
Rest assured, I’m taking advantage of as much good as I can find from all this.  Hope you can, too.
From Illinois, here’s wishing you happiness for your March 20th, World Happiness Day.
Posted in A Visit Home to Marshall, China, coronavirus, Coronovirus Situation, Illinois | 2 Comments