The Meanderings of Two “Seenagers”–We Explore Another Culture

It is often said that some of the greatest adventures are in our own backyard, and this past week, Burt and I once again found this to be true.

We rediscovered another local treasure that reminded us of the joy of studying a culture new to us, but ancient in its origins.

It brought to mind my childhood belief that while growing up in the small town of Middle Village, New York—where the only green to be found belonged to the weeds growing up between the cracks in the sidewalk, and I could often be found watering and caring for them—I could always, at some juncture of alleyways, find a shortcut to another country in an instant! I know, I was a strange child.weeds-in-sidewalk-2

I also have to admit that along with my dear friend, Doreen, (with whom I am still close friends after almost 66 years), to digging in a vacant Middle Village lot with our small shovels with the goal of reaching China. I have to say that my mother was particularly happy because the endeavor kept me occupied for over a week—but let me not digress—back to Burt and our recent rediscovery.

It was while teaching commercial art at a local college that I learned much about the Vietnamese culture. Many of my students had migrated from Vietnam, especially post the Vietnam War, and a good deal of them settled in Orange County; an area of Southern California very close to where I now live in Huntington Beach. There are so many residents that the special designation of ‘Little Saigon’ was soon used.

Many of my students were settlers in this new (to them) country and while their English was certainly better then my Vietnamese, they were often embarrassed to ask questions in class. So I offered to come in to school early and help them with whatever they seemed to be having a problem with.

It was during those pre-class meetings that I would hear stories of not only their homeland but also of their struggles and concerns. We truly connected and many became treasured friends. My understanding of their hardships and triumphs also expanded.

These generous people were so appreciative of my efforts to help them that they shared bits of their culture that came as a revelation. It sparked a sense in me of wanting to explore further.

This past week, Burt and I drove to Little Saigon hoping to visit some shops and have dinner in one of our favorite restaurants.

Immediately after stepping out of our car, we were transported to Vietnam; because the residents fashion their homes and shopping areas in a style that is reminiscent of their country of origin.

I am glad they settled here because as well as being thoughtful and conscientious students, they are diligent workers.


The outside of the Asian Garden Mall in Little Saigon features elaborate statues.


Inside, the stores are colorful and offer a multitude of products.


Ginseng and other herbals are offered in this unique shop.


Many jewelry shops with a vast selection of treasures for sale.


I have taken many friends to the onsite jewelry repair shops in the mall. They will fix your broken jewelry, usually while you wait and watch. Hint: Go up to the second level and you will find many repair shops at the back of the various centers.
The prices are well below what I used to pay locally.

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All kinds of lovely tchotchkes!—(sparkly things)
Since I’m just a big kid, they really appeal to me and I am drawn like a moth to a flame!


Colorful and intriguing!


The clothing and fabric stores are a veritable rainbow of color and style.



….And then there’s the food!

So many interesting offerings. Remember, life is an adventure or it is nothing at all—so be brave and try something different.


Luckily my students gave me many hints about ordering and now we have our favorites.

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This is one of Burt and my favorites: Vermicelli noodles with BBQ’d pork, grilled shrimp, and egg rolls. It is served with a delicious sweet and tangy fish sauce—I am addicted!

And so ends another day trip for the Meandering Seenagers—so glad you could join us!

Please do set out to find an adventure in your own neighborhood.

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Having lived these good many years, (71 to be exact), has given me the opportunity to reflect on what I value most. Family, good friends, and the precious pets that have shared my life  have enriched me as a person. I’ve evaluated what is most important to me and what lessons I’ve learned, and what I’ve determined is that I want to leave this world a better place for having lived here. It is one of my deepest desires to be able to help those who have no voice — because animals have always played an important role in my life. They were constant friends when the world around me was changing.  One, (a small parakeet named Petie), accompanied me when as a child my family moved across country twice, (New York to California and back again)-I can still see Petie in his small travel cage sitting on my lap as I explained to him where we were stopping for the night and feeling that his company as well as my dear parents were all I needed to feel safe and secure. My pets were with me in good times and bad, often being the consistent non-judgmental voice my heart needed. Although I spent my working years as a commercial artist, both teaching the craft at a local college and in my own studio, it seems that in my later years it is by painting with words that I am now able to reach out to people, and it is my joy to do just that. I hope my stories help to connect people to kindred souls that wear fur on their faces but are just as capable as we are to feel great love in their hearts.  Rescue animals particularly deserve another chance at a happy life and it is my honor to bring their stories to light and hopefully be the catalyst that joins two different species on their journey. The connection we share with our pets is like no other, There is no need to be anything other than who and what you are. No amount of money or privilege will impress them as much as your kindness and attention. I do know that in the final analysis, life is good and most people honestly want to do the right thing. If that includes opening their home and heart to another living being, then my purpose is accomplished. I hope in some small way I can contribute to that greater good. Bio- Born in Middle Village, New York- 1945 Mother to a wonderful son, Michael who truly would be a cherished friend even if we weren't related--and fortunate in meeting my kind and thoughtful soulmate, Burt, in later life- I am blessed indeed. Retired teacher/ Orange Coast College/ former owner and operator of a commercial art business in Huntington Beach, California.
 Lucky to have had the opportunity to work in the art field where I was often quoted as saying, "You mean I am being paid for something I love to do?!"

 Interests: travel, enjoying local points of interest, movies, volunteering at the Newland Animal Shelter and writing about the wonderful personalities I have been honored to meet there, both human and furry-faced, and generally enjoying the retired life.


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