Gardening Inspiration – China

It wasn’t intentional, but I found that several aspects of my garden were inspired by some of trips we’ve taken.  One of the most different from southwest Austin was our 2007 trip to China.  I really liked all the variations I found on Chinese Guardian Lions, Shishi, (aka Foo Dogs).  Here’s what we have on the deck…

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And here are a couple of the inspiration pieces…

Male Shishi - Forbidden City, Bejing, China 2007

Male Shishi – Forbidden City, Bejing, China 2007

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Female Shishi – Forbidden City, Bejing, China 2007

The other building I loved in Beijing was the Temple of Heaven.  The blue roof was amazing.

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Temple of Heaven – Beijing, China – 2007

And here’s what’s in the back yard (ok, this one is a stretch but it’s the blue element I was after).

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There was a park just northwest of the Forbidden City – Beihai Park  – that offer the first Buddhas we’d see all over China.  First mine…

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And the inspirations –

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Buddha Shrine, Beihai Park, Beijing, China 2007


Buddha Shrine – Great Goose Pagoda, Xian, China 2007


The Ghost City of Fengdu was a trip and a half.  It was supposed to be ‘Chinese Hell’ I think.  (It sure felt like it; subtropical heat and humidity with no wind…yikes!).  These are the ‘Soul Judges’ the dearly departed meets in the afterlife…


Soul Judges – Ming Hill, Fengdu Ghost City, China 2007

And finally, some landscapes from Beijing that I had in mind for the ‘Asian’ part of the yard.

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Asia in Central Texas

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Our bamboo gate in ‘Little Asia’


Garden of Tranquil Longevity, Beijing, China 2007


Garden of Tranquil Longevity, Beijing, China 2007


Garden of Tranquil Longevity, Beijing, China 2007


Garden of Tranquil Longevity, Beijing, China 2007

Staving off dotage is not for the faint-of-heart…

So for various reasons, I’ve been concerned about potentially declining memory and mental faculties.  To that end, I got a subscription to Lumosity for my birthday in June.  Lumosity is a website that has computer games that are designed to increase memory and mental acuity.  You ‘train’ everyday on five different exercises.  It calculates a ‘Brain Performance Index’ (BPI) made up of five components:  Memory, Attention, Speed, Flexibility, and Problem Solving.  (There’s a great piece in the July 29th New Yorker by Patricia Marx about all the different kinds of ‘brain training’ available.  Lumosity is just a drop in the bucket apparently. )

Anyroad, here are my current BPI indicators (this is so personal – I feel a bit like Anthony Weiner):

lumosity bpi

You’ll note that ‘Problem Solving’ is rather low.  If you delve further, you’ll find that Lumosity shows you how you compare with others in your age group and offers some words of encouragement, e.g. “You’re in a good place – now challenge yourself to get even better.”  Based upon my actual performance on the problem-solving games, I think Lumosity is dying to show this instead: “OMG!!!  Were you hit in the head with a ball-peen hammer?!?”  Sometimes I wonder.

Most of these Lumosity games I simply do not get.  Growing up in rural England in the ‘70s and ‘80s, I missed out on Pac-Man and Asteroids, so video games are anathema to me.  And as a child, the extent of my other game playing was Go Fish! and Candyland – not much strategery there.  In school, we played Spanish and French BINGO!  Spanish was fine, but French is awkward.  The 70s, 80s, and 90s are too much like math; 70 is 60 +10; 80 and 90 are 4 twenties (99 is 4 twenties and 19 – wow).   We also played a variant of Scrabble in German.  It was in teams and the object was to get the longest word.  Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung (speed limit) was the Holy Grail.   So in general, I’m not much of a game player.

The worst problem-solving games though are the math ones.  Uhg.  These little ‘rain drops’ are falling down the screen with math problems in them – 7+2; 5X3; 8-3; etc.  You’re supposed to solve the problem before the rain drop hits the ground.  While I vividly remember the pain of learning my times tables in 3rd Grade, apparently everything above the 5s was summarily dumped from my brain a decade later, likely to make room for the intricacies of the fief structure of the Tokugawa Shogunate for my ‘Japanese Politics’ class.  I should have retained my times tables; there’s rarely ever a need in everyday life to speak on the pros and cons of the Tozama daimyo.  But I digress… when the little rain drop math problems involve multiplication or division with 6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s, I completely panic and my score plummets, thus my poor problem-solving score. 

Notwithstanding the fact that my problem-solving skills place me in the nit-wit category, my memory and flexibility are “forces to be reckoned with” according to Lumosity, so I’m not panicking yet.  And as long as I remember to put pants on when I go to work, I call it a good day.