Inspired by Life

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wandering

I am wandering in the labyrinth of my thoughts today, contemplating my life and its nuances, exploring it through the eyes of the fiction that I am currently reading, losing myself in the dimmed hallways within the dark recesses of my mind, trying to make some sense of the feelings that course through my soul.

Always on the move mentally, I look ardently to find clues to myself, perhaps hidden behind some imaginary boulder, or in the nook of a branch in a favorite tree I used to climb up and read it, or even perhaps in between the lines of the novel I hold in my hand.

This combing of my soul has long been overdue and I had allowed myself to be buoyed along by life's events in the near past - coming back to America to pursue a lifelong dream, the ensuing relationship, life outside of that relationship, the lengthy road of embarking on a discovery journey of oneself through marriage, gaining of a job, losing of another, taking trips to ease the complexities of one's daily routine, searching, searching, always searching.

This feeling of being trapped, or being helpless creeps up on one if one allows themselves to slowly lose touch with the reality that within each of us exists a deep power - a power to change anything we want. This gets cluttered. Being a wanderer both in reality and in the abstract sense, in my thoughts, I tend to, after a short period of time, feel like I have painted myself into a corner, and need to find ways to explore beyond the bounds of what has been thrust on me, to be the boundaries of my life at the time.

It is this restlessness, this wanderlust approach that has taken me to places I would never have been before on my own or to experience life in a way that I would not have considered before. All around me, I see and smell and taste the same sense of urgency in others to find oneself - to take control of one's life in any way possible, to give one's life meaning, to make sense of what the purpose is for each of us in our own individualistic and unique way. All around me, I see people find within themselves that inherent power we are born with, and use that power to take baby or giant steps into the future - a future that they feel deep within is better than their present.

I am wandering today...sometimes skipping through the small paths that hold happy memories, and at others slowing down to a crawl, almost reverently, examining the contents of the containers that may hold some little, sliver of a clue as to what and where my path could lead.

I am wandering within my thoughts :)

A day in the life of...

...an Indian farmer.

India is an agricultural country. Despite the influx of the western world and India's rising importance in the world, it still remains a vastly rural country, depending on its agricultural products. As India goes through economic reform, and the metropolitan cities are developing aggressively, there are over 600 million farmers being left out of this process of "development".

Who is an Indian Farmer? It could be a man. It could a woman. And in some cases, even a child!

He wakes up in the wee hours of the morning after spending a night in here, sleeping on a mud floor, covered by a very threadbare sheet to protect him from the elements while he sleeps:
Food  is prepared in sparse conditions, and eaten with great urgency so that they can get out to the fields early and work hard before the sun bears down on them, with intensifying heat as the day goes on.
The cow is an animal of sacred qualities but it is also one which provides the basic fuel for the cooking. The cow dung is picked up off the ground as soon as it leaves the body of the cow, and patted down on the sides of the walls of the mud hut they live in.  During the day, the heat of the sun dries them up and makes them very stiff. These patted down cow pies are then taken off the wall, broken into pieces and inserted into the crevices of the mud stoves they use to cook ( as in the picture above - note the dried cow pie in the bottom left of the picture) their daily food.

Here is a pile of drying cow pies, soon to be used as fuel. These when lit are also a good deterrent for mosquitoes that generally tend to swarm these areas filled with stagnant waters in the fields. Of course, the smell of one of these burning is enough to make you say goodbye permanently to your abilities to breathe in deeply. But due to the very poor conditions that the farmers live in, this is the best fuel for them to use:
Once the food is prepared and eaten, the men go off to work. Which mode of transportation would you prefer? The one you have right now or this:
The men are not the only hard workers here. The women work alongside their men and they sometimes have their children work with them too! In a three-income household, you would think the farmers are rich, but it is quite the contrary...these hardworking farmers provide a country of close to 1 billion people their daily food, and yet they get very little of it. They are taken advantage of and exploited by money lenders, government regulations and middle men. They get very little to eat, their children have no access to school, good food or clean water, no health care whatsoever, and they continue to live in these squalid conditions, in a vicious cycle of poverty, being completely unable to break out of it.

Women farmers, bent over all day, standing in ankle-deep water, planting in the hot sun. And they do this every single day of their lives. Does it make you thankful for your job - in an air-conditioned office, desk, computer, phone, internet, ergonomic chair and you get to take a break on the weekends?
The basic necessities that we take for granted are so hard to come by: water & electricity. Often the government regulates when and for how long, villages get their electricity. This causes constant problems because they only have two hours of electricity. The government decides to run this electricity for two hours - but at night, so the fields that need the irrigation by pump water, can only be done by night. The farmer has worked a very long, hard day and now has to spend a good part of his night making sure his fields get irrigated or else he will lose his crops.

Women collecting water in the pots they then carry on their heads back to the huts to store it for use till the next time they get water, which could sometimes be two or three days:
In order to survive, sometimes it takes the whole family:

They live in what is considered horrible conditions by our standards of living, they eat whatever they can get after working so hard for it, they swat flies, fight mosquitoes, stand in open fields all day under the sun, with no shade or protection, they work the fields over with their animals, have their basic needs be governed and regulated, watch their children suffer with no education, no health care, no means of a future. They wake up every morning hoping against all hope that it would be a good day and that they would be able to live one more day to do it all over again, that one of them doesn't succumb to some disease or gets ill and cannot work.

Some are even committing suicide due to the pressure of the money lenders, the lack of water to irrigate the fields and several other reasons. Being unable to see a way out, they kill themselves, leaving families in the the wake to deal with the debt that they will never in their lifetime be able to repay.

Micro-finance is a liberating thing for the villagers in these very rural parts of the world and it helps them build businesses that keep them off the fields ( at least, the women) and allows them to bring in some income and provide some basic needs for their families. It allows them to see the light in the eyes of their children who could now afford to attend a local school for a few hours instead of working in the fields with their parents.

There is still so much to be done and if you have the means to help in any way, seek out these opportunities, and do something for someone who has so little. It will bring you that peace you are looking for, that sens of being - just by offering a helping hand to those in need.

Have you done any good in the world today??

Heaven on Earth - Mount Diablo State Park

A stone's throw away from where I live ( okay, I would have to have a phenomenal pitching arm to throw a stone at Mount Diablo from where I live, about 10 minutes away, resides this impressive mountain, with an equally impressive State Park right at the center of it.

An interesting thing to note: Mount Diablo is considered sacred to many Native America tribes, who, according to the Ohlone and Miwok mythology, believe it to be the point of creation. If all else fails to impress during a dinner conversation, I could always throw in this juicy tidbit to stir up some excitement!

Bearing a very daunting name like "The Mount of the Devil", it is quite the opposite. It is also considered sacred to both Aaron and I as it was the site of our very first date. I, of course, having just landed in America two days ago, after being gone for nearly a year to India, had conveniently forgotten how to hike, thus ended up being fully winded after .5 miles into the hike. He still married me two years later and I am glad that my hiking abilities were not taken into consideration. Speaking of hikes, does this even remotely look like the Devil's Mount to any of you?
 Mount Diablo looks to me what I had always imagined the Garden of Eden to be - lush, green hills, rolling together for miles on end, tall, stately trees, short, stout bushes, beautiful and brilliant wildflowers that dot the landscape. A dazzling array of green, where all forms of plant life, compete in their best shades of color, making the viewer gasp at its first sight.  This heady mixture of heady woodland, savannah and open grasslands leaves one utterly breathless.

When I die, I would want to wake up here in the afterlife, my eyes just soaking in the beauty of this heavenly place, listening to the happy wind rustling through the trees, while the sun kissed the tops of everything green, and the trees glistened in the light. The sky provides a perfect backdrop against this canvas awash in spotless green. I breathe in.

You are all welcome to visit me and this lovely slice of heaven that I am so blessed to have, right here in my world.

Changes -

Change is the one constant in our lives, and whether we like it or not, it happens. I, generally tend to create the change I like to see in my life rather than being pulled by its inevitable forces, or being dragged through change, kicking and screaming all the while.  Now I am not an expert at being able to create every single change in my life right when I want it, but I certainly try - just like most of us do.

If we know that change is inevitable, then how do we usually respond to it? Interestingly, I have learned that we respond most of the time, in one of three ways - Pain, Pull or Push. I found a great article that talks about this really well.
http://www.learningplaceonline.com/therapy/motivates.htm

The thought of change has been floating around in my head all day - I am surrounded by it these days. In my world, I am about to experience a slew of changes - moving to a new place as a married couple, taking a month off this summer to travel, living life on one income for a few months, taking on new responsibilities at work, etc. Each of them deserve their own allotted time but of course, life is never that organized and they all pile up on you at the same time, in a big jumbled jigsaw puzzle heap, and you have to start by grouping all the same colored pieces together, only to find that color appears in more than one place in the puzzle. So you have to start all over again.

Some people tend to be excited about change, while others tend to ignore it, to the utter frustration of another who can't stand ignoring something that one needs to obviously change. Some people tend to approach it very cautiously while others tend to rush in headlong without thinking of any consequences, whatsoever. Some tend to go numb and refuse to accept it while others bathe in the change, reveling in its redemptive powers.

I am trying to take it all in at the moment, and have to admit, feel a bit of everything - exhilaration, excitement, a bit nervous, but mostly glad that life is not stagnant. That life allows change and change allows growth and growth allows possibilities and possibilities lead to change.

What do you think of change?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

O Summer! Where art Thou?

The world outside my window this morning seems to have been robbed of another day of a very elusive summer. So elusive, in fact, that I have hardly seen it around here. The sky had started out as a blue palate and now is flooded with white, puffy clouds. A light breeze ruffles the green-yellow leaves of the tree that has parked itself outside my window, in a backyard that has been roughly weeded. For all intents and purposes, the flowers and leaves indicate that spring had come, yet summer is still on its way.

The large, flower-filled tree is the most active around here - bees buzzing and fluttering all day collecting their precious load of pollen, which leaves Mr. Taylor with frightful allergies. I can hear the birds chirping, hoping with all their might that the sun would come out to play, and the world, at least my world, in a Small City, not too far away from The City (San Francisco), would once again be awash in its warm rays of light. They usually tend to rejuvenate me and I come alive as the sun appears more consistently in the heavenly blue skies. Summer is my favorite time of the year.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hello Madam. My name is David. Ow may Hi elp you?

Ring. Ring. Ring.
"Hello?"
"Hello madam?"
"Yes, hi. I am calling to see if it is possible to change my current phone plan to an unlimited one."
"Shoor (sure) madam. Not a problem. My name is David. Ow may Hi elp you?"
"Hmmm.. I would like to change my plan to an unlimited plan."
"Absolutely, madam! Now what can I do for you?"
"Err..David?? Considering that you have not heard a word of what I just said to you, could I speak to someone else who actually can help me?"
"Not a problem, madam. (Big Smile voice). I would be very appy to help you madam."
"I would really prefer to speak to someone else about this account."
"I will get someone to help you, madam. Please be patient." ( he must be psychic!)
 "Yes madam. How can I help you?"
"Huh- it still sounds like you David. Is there anyone else I can speak with - an American, please?"
"Madam, I will do my level best ( at this point, his level is really low for me) to elp you madam."
"Aargh!!!Ok. Listen. I know your name is not David and I know where you live!!!!" Click.

If you have ever tried to reach customer service for companies like Vonage, Dell, HP, and banks, software companies, the list goes on, I am sure you have, at some point, had a conversation that may have been very similar to this.

CBS News did an article back in 2004 on this very topic. A fantastic article: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/12/23/60minutes/main590004.shtml

The Washington Post also did an article addressing the frustrations of Americans losing their jobs to Indians and the call center reps get the worst of it. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A56474-2005Feb26.html


Having been back to India recently, I was astonished to see how this unique culture of Call Centers has evolved. They idealize and epitomize the Western influences. Like midnight marauders, their lives are dictated by a graveyard shift and a life that is so vastly different than the one they lead during the day time.  They take on whole new personalities, deal with a slew of new issues, learn a new language - the accent training is very heavy in these organizations, and their saccharine-dripping voices trudge on with the phone call even if the other end of the line is oozing poison. This very different lifestyle has given the 20-30 year-old's in India, a new-found freedom. They too like their counterparts in the country they are pretending to be from, now live away from their homes, are financially self-sufficient, and are able to pursue some varied interests that would otherwise have not been made available to them before.

Along with the good influences, come the bad. Promiscuity is rampant, and abortions due to the new-found freedom, women smokers outrank the men in numbers; alcohol, drugs, sex and clubs now inundate the lives of these youngsters and the rap culture of America is very appealing to this generation in India. They imitate everything - from the food, the clothes, the style, the language and even the slang - albeit, in an Indian accent.

I was torn between the two worlds - America and India. Call Centers in India - good or bad?

This is the world outside my window.

2-for-1 - Expired Drugs & Oil Racket

I love the news in India! The Front Page News of The Hindu carried an article today titled "Expired drugs in government hospitals seized".  Although the hospitals and their state in India is another blog entry, I proceeded to read the article. Noting that the article was written by an anonymous "Special Correspondent", I was surprised to see just a paragraph describing a sting operation to confiscate said expired drugs. The last line of that paragraph reads, "Some of these drugs were antibiotics and anesthetics, Mr. Kumar said." Next line - new paragraph - "Oil racket unearthed".

If you are thrown off by this, do not be alarmed, so was I. After reading the next paragraph that talked about pilfering oil tankers, I realized there was a common thread that I failed to detect the first time I read the article. (Yes I read it more than once.) The commonality between the two paragraphs was that they both contained quotes by Mr. Kumar, who is the CBI Joint Director (Central Bureau of Investigation).

I must admire how economic newspapers are becoming. Not only are they condensing Front Page news articles to two paragraphs, but they are also grouping events that require input from the same person! Irrespective of the heading, once you start reading, they know you will want to finish the article, so therefore a 2-for1!

How very clever of them!  http://www.hindu.com/2010/05/21/stories/2010052157810100.htm

Thursday, May 13, 2010

स्वागत - Swagat

My love affair with Indian food is a lifelong one. I am grateful to have married a man who enjoys the delectable array of spices, sweets and rice that the Indian kitchens offer.

On Monday night, unable to muster up the desire to cook and being famished, we decided to eat out. A place that I usually frequent for their lunch buffet, is called Swagat - which means Welcome. It is a local favorite and my girlfriends and I have come here often. Instead of doing the dinner buffet, we wanted to order some biriyani - spiced Indian rice dish with your choice of meat. Delicious! Debating whether we should stay and eat or get take-out, I sent Aaron inside to order what he wanted, while I waited in the car. It looked like he was consulting the owner and had picked something off the menu.
I went inside just to use the restroom and when I came back, Aaron says he has picked the Indian Thali. "A thali is a selection of different dishes, usually served in small bowls on a round tray. The round tray is generally made with steel with multiple compartments. In North America, people sometimes use plastic thalis because they are disposable. Typical dishes include rice, dhal, vegetables, chapati, papad, curd (yoghurt), small amounts of chutney or pickle, and a sweet dish to top it off. Restaurants typically offer a choice of vegetarian or meat-based thalis. Kerala way of Thali is known as Sadya, with rice as staple food, and other specialities.
Depending on the restaurant or the region you are in, the thali consists of delicacies native to that region. Thali starts out with puris, chapatis (rotis), different vegetarian specialities (curries)." - description courtesy of Wikipedia.
The picture is an example of the delicious meal we had that night! The fragrant blend of spices wafted in our dining area long after we had done the dishes and gone to bed. Mmmmmm....pure bliss!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortenson

GO READ THREE CUPS OF TEA BY GREG MORTENSON!!!!

It is first of all, a very inspiring book. No superfluous language, just plain, simple English that brings home a very powerful message. The real picture of life in the villages of Pakistan and Afghanistan are painted vividly, describing the situations as the countries are thrown into war. While the media reports on what they consider to be "news-worthy", taking the stories that are trickling down from those who may have been in the war zones, instead of actually going to check it out for themselves, one man wages his own war to fight illiteracy - to encourage and support education which he believes (and I agree) is the key to helping eradicate poverty. He goes to the impoverished country to climb a physical mountain and failing to do so, is suddenly faced with an altogether different mountain to climb, one that would challenge him beyond all belief but one that would put him on the path to finding his true purpose in life.
The thing that really stood out to me, among others, is the complete lack of guile in Greg. He was not trying to deceive these people. He had no airs about himself because he was a foreigner, he wanted no special treatment, he lived like the natives, slept and ate just like them in their poor state, dressed like them, learned their language, and most important, he always kept his promise. In return, they loved him!!! His story is awe-inspiring! You NEED to read this book. It will invoke in you the need to make a difference, however small.
"We can do no great things, only small things with great love." ~Mother Teresa

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Kidnapping of Aaron

One weekend in April, not too long ago, I decided that it would be fun to take a road trip (gluttony for punishment - given that only two months ago, we drove 1800 miles), and I packed up a carry-on bag, threw it in the back of the car, drove to Aaron's work and KIDNAPPED him to whisk him off to Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey!! We had never been there before and love exploring new places.

I want to say this: I LOVE CARMEL!!!!

I want to go back there as often as I can!! The description on their website says it all:
"Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. A city in the forest. A one mile long pure white sandy beach. A cultural mecca for the performing and visual arts. Superb dining and shopping experiences. A story book setting!"

We stayed at the cutest Best Western right by Ocean Avenue in a darling little room with a fireplace. After having a lovely continental breakfast of muffins, toast, jam, eggs, bananas and juice, we grabbed the camera and set off to explore this fairy-tale city. It is jammed with high-end boutiques, art galleries galore, fine dining areas and quaint houses, little parks and shopping areas, eclectic stores, and everyone is friendly and ready to tell you stories about their city and their lives.

We set off on our discovery journey. It was the perfect weekend for this - perfect weather (not foggy), gorgeous views, people-watching at its best, and of course, the ocean! What's not to love?? We grabbed a generous slice of a fruit tart at Patisserie Boissiere, a French Pastry shop, and walked a few blocks, found a stone bench on the corner of a street, basked in the sun while we ate and watched people walk by. Disposing of the box that held the tart, we launched ourselves into what we have dubbed "The Gallery Day".

First Stop: Park Gallery

Owned by a lady named Tamara, who was French-Armenian and who kept saying that I had a good eye for art. Anything I stopped to look at, she would say: "Wow, you really have a good eye for art. I won't say more." Later she said she would be willing to work with us on payments if we saw a piece we truly liked. As we were leaving the gallery, she followed us out, closed the door behind her and walked us to another gallery she owned. After talking some more, I gave her a hug (Aaron rolls his eyes - he doesn't understand how I hug perfect strangers :D), we left about 45 mins later.

Second Stop: Vanguard Gallery

This was an Americana vintage art collectors gallery and was filled with nudes and pin-up girls and other paraphernalia like WWII planes and paintings of Elvis & Frank Sinatra, old juke boxes, etc. The manager, finding out that I worked for a law firm, showed me a poster of the only "legal" pin-up girl - a girl in court, actually. He then proceeded to tell us how that girl reminded him of his ex wife, who took his kids and left one day, and how he used detectives to drag her back to court and she would run away again, and how he went bankrupt trying to get custody of his kids, etc. Then he tells us about his current wife and her kids and how they all have a loving relationship and get along with her ex husband, and how he still has not seen some of his biological kids for over 10 years or so. We were in there for quite a while!!

Third Stop:

Elite Gallery & California American Galleries. How did we do two at the same time?? Divide and conquer. Aaron and I decided to split us and go to two different ones in the hopes that we would not be privy to the private info of the owners again, and we could just admire the art and get away. While I wandered off with no one bothering me, Aaron on the other hand, was in deep conversation about business and private equity with the manager of his art gallery. So I walked around the gallery, coveting some lovely pieces of art that I can never afford, while he finished his conversation. These galleries had art that I could see in our home. If only!!

Taking a break from the Art Gallery stroll, we walked around the little shops and coffee houses and artist studios, and then walked down to the white sand beaches - absolutely gorgeous!!!! We then walked back and had some light refreshing sandwiches - my smoked salmon with cream cheese sandwich was delicious!

Being art galleries addicts, we decided to do one last one: The Garden Gallery of Thomas Kinkade.

Both Aaron and I like his art, and we met the manager of the place. He was fairly new but in the course of one hour, we learned about his life and his part in trying to create a Public Arts Program in Stockton, his wife being diagnosed with cancer and only having 3 months to live, them not being able to have any children, the program being canceled after working on it for two years, his wife dying 6 months ago, and how he moved to Carmel and is starting over without his darling wife (he teared up just talking about her).

Needless to say, we had a wonderful and exhausting day!! And we loved it! We came back to the hotel that night having heard life stories of four people, who until that day, we never knew. And we got to experience God's incredible creation - Nature at its very best that day.

Our lives are rich and blessed and we often tend to forget that.

We are going back to Carmel next weekend for the Arts Festival :D

Aaron decided he'd like to be kidnapped more often.

Family Home Evening - NBA Style.

A few months ago, the management of the Golden Gate Warriors - the NBA team, had an LDS night, where all LDS families and members could attend a game at the Oracle Stadium at a heavily discounted rate. It turned out to be the largest attendance they have had from any group they had invited in the past!! To show their appreciation, they sent out some free tickets to be distributed to those who could not make it that night.

This is how I became privy to the existence of said tickets. I immediately responded to the open invitation to call and ask for tickets. There were 20 available and figuring I could get some of my friends to go, bravely asked for 10 tickets. No problem! Not wanting them to go to waste & knowing that Brett Napper had a little birthday celebration later that night, I extended the invitation to the organizers of that party and invited the whole group. What better way to celebrate one's birthday!!!


To my surprise, when I picked up the tickets, the lady handed me all 20 tickets and said, if any one needs it, just leave them at will call. Within a matter of hours, we rounded up 14 of our friends and met at the stadium. Watching what turned out to be one of the best games the Warriors had played in a long time (although true to tradition, they lost in the fourth quarter), we laughed, ate hot dogs, screamed and cheered for the teams, took pictures, and had a grand old time!!!

What an absolutely fun way to have Family Home Evening!!!

On the Road - Again?!?! - Our Honeymoon!

Northern California - Utah - Vegas - Southern California - Northern California

Total mileage: 1,823 miles

What a way to put our marriage to the test! In 13 days, we had visited 3 states! 'Are we there yet?' was the motto of our trip towards the very end. Despite all the driving, and the battling of bronchitis, etc, Aaron and I had a fabulous time on our honeymoon. We had two honeymoons, although the one in Utah may not count since we spent most of it with family :)

We did however get to see Paul Cardall in concert with some other local celebrities and it was a wonderful and magical evening. It was a benefit concert for CHD - congenital heart disease. Paul Cardall was the first artist that Aaron and I shared a passion for - his music is amazing! In Utah, we stayed at the Marriott, courtesy of dear family friends of mine - Stewart and Leti, we did lots of family things - had breakfast with my friends, opened gifts with Aaron's family, taking all the siblings to a movie and then to get some food, going to the concert and finally saying goodbye to them to embark on our real honeymoon trip.

We stayed at the Cancun Resort - courtesy of my dear friends, Peter and Fiona. It was beautiful and the Vegas lights shimmered in the night. We were welcomed with some lovely flowers and sparkling cider. Crashing into fatigue-induced sleep without a desire or need to wake up for several hours, we allowed our bodies to recuperate - somewhat. After all, we were in Las Vegas!!! Who sleeps in Vegas, right?

Aaron and I made the best of our honeymoon by walking the Las Vegas Strip, walking through some hotels and their endless casinos, and soaking in the sights and lights. Since we both love plays and musicals, we bought some tickets at a discount price to see a few shows. The Lion King was fascinating! The Blue Man Group - very entertaining and I am glad we did that - sensory stimulation and audience interaction was really great! In fact, it was hard to contain Aaron in his seat, as he constantly kept jumping up wanting to be picked on to go on stage and participate.

Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum at the Venetian was totally and utterly worth it just to hear Aaron scream - Britney!!! - upon sighting her wax figure in the midst of other celebrities :D I had no idea of this adoration for the Oops girl! It was scary how Prince and I looked like brother and sister; how I would have spent all evening just taking pictures of MJ and I. I got to play the keyboards with Stevie Wonder, sing with Prince, get married to George Clooney, chat up a storm with Julia Roberts and hang on Brad Pitt's arm on my way to the Golden Globes.

In another part of the building, Aaron played some hoops with Shaq and realized he was the perfect height to smell Shaq's armpits, bared his biceps next to Angelina Jolie, scowled with Larry King, grabbed J Lo's derriere, hugged and kissed Britney Spears (several times, I might add), shared a drink with Hugh Hefner, rapped with Snoop Dogg and ended the night by saying goodbye to none other than the King - Elvis!!! What a night!!!

The lion exhibit at the MGM Grand was fantastic. It was a natural setting, climate controlled and had two massive lions gnawing on some very large bones hanging out in a glass-walled exhibit. At one end of it, there was a ledge made of glass, so visitors could look up and see the huge paws of the lions as they walked across this ledge. But one is never prepared for when the lion decides to sit down and you are rudely awakened to the sight of lion genitalia in equally massive proportions staring you right in the face! It's Vegas, baby!

The most advertised restaurant was Tao Asian Bistro at the Venetian which showed the sensuous slope of a woman's bare back with Chinese writing tattooed along the spine and the caption reading: Always a happy ending. Very eye-catching, in fact I would catch Aaron's eye being caught by it all the time :D

In the midst of it all, Aaron and I managed to go to the Las Vegas Temple and do a session there. It was so beautiful with the desert as a background. We enjoyed the vast difference between the Strip and the surroundings in which the Temple was set.

Aaron spent each night in Vegas with his head out of the car window, taking in the sights and the lights and being totally invigorated by the constant motion and the essence of Las Vegas Strip, exclaiming at several points, "I love Vegas!!". I have to agree - the buildings are really awe-inspiring, the throngs of people, the constant cha-ching of tinkling coins, the traffic, the lights, the sounds, the food, the fashion....a sudden sensory assault in a world that is so surreal!!

On our way out of Las Vegas, we drove to the Red Rock Canyon and did a mini hike. Although it was overcast and rainy, it still had some great formations of rocks, not quite as red as I thought they would be. Nonetheless, the desert has its own unique beauty and we enjoyed the drive through it. We said our goodbyes to Las Vegas, promising to return again, and headed off to Southern California. This was just to appease my desire to see Fiona and Peter and really, just to play with Micah :D But we were able to rest up, spend time with the family, and drove back on the following day.

Back to life. Back to reality.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

FEBRUARY 12, 2010. - Our Wedding Day.

This family has been about two years in the making and every moment of that has been worth it. On February 12, 2010, Aaron and I became Mr. and Mrs. Taylor! We have had so many blessings along the way and have become each others' best friends. We truly enjoy each others' company, love to laugh and be silly and share several common interests, while respectfully allowing the other to maintain their individuality. Every day is not a bed of roses, we feel the thorns too, but, we are working together and side-by-side to make it a beautiful garden.

Thanks to everyone for believing in us, praying for us, showing your love and friendship so freely towards us and making our wedding day incredible!