Sunday, May 31, 2015

Wild Flowers at Austin - by Lily

Every time we go to Austin, in addition to sampling the great food there, we try to visit a scenery place. This Memorial Day weekend we decided to check out the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. I have heard about it from a friend. With all the rains we got recently I would imagine a lot of blooming flowers; and we were not disappointed.

Even before entering the park, a variety of colors jumped at us.

Once in the park, we saw some unique sculptures accompanying the flowers and the pentatonic chime sent waves of music into our ears.

Winding through the stone pass we were surprised to see some rock assemblies decorated with palm trees and other green plants, and the other side of the wall was a lovely waterfall.

The center was not only home for some butterflies but also decorated by some lovely butterfly shaped lawn chairs.

The mission of the Wildflower Center is to preserve native plants and natural landscaping. It supports a lot of research programs. At the end, we bought some bluebonnet seedballs that can be tossed onto the ground in the fall. Seedballs are a natural farming method of adding new plants to the landscape without digging or disturbing the soil. The clay and compost spheres protect the seed within until sufficient rain melts the seedball, allowing the seed to germinate. Some lazy landscaping I need :)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Green Prairie at Oak Point

It has been a very wet spring at North Texas this year. Two weeks ago we had a rare sunny weekend, and we went to Oak Point Park to enjoy the green that the rain brought.

We went there after Nicholas's Sunday Chinese class for a late picnic lunch in the shelter by the Oak Point Pond and then went on biking to enjoy the beautiful breezy spring day. The pond was full, the bank was green. In fact everywhere we looked at it was green. It was so soothing to the eyes.

Lily and Nicholas rushed out to try to finish the long bike trail to South Woodruff Park and back in 40 minutes. I did not chase them, but rode at my own pace to enjoy what the rainy spring brought. There were patches of flowers here and there, not as wide spread as I wished, but nevertheless very pleasing. Water was running in the Rowlett Creek by the bike trail, but Egrets, which we saw last couple of times we visited the park, were no where to be seen. Where are they? Not the season for them to be there?

Despite high humidity, the breeze made it a good day for out and about. There were quite a few people fishing at the Oak Point Pond.  A few people like us biking, a few more jogging along the trail. There were  lot of people at Woodruff Park as always.

Woodruff Pond
Patch of flowers at the Prairie
Yellow Flowers surrounded by tall grass
As I was entering the final stretch of the bike trail, Nicholas turned around from the end of the trail already. I stopped and let him passing by. As I looked south, I saw this tapestry like scene  - a large meadow with tall trees at its south border, and a few white clouds between the trees in the blue southern sky, I stayed there a couple more minutes to take all this in before turning back.

On the way to the parking lot, I stopped at Oak Point Prairie for a few more minutes, to enjoy the expanded green prairie. What a beautiful Spring day it was!

Nicholas Biking at South Woodruff
A sunny spring day 
Expanded Prairie at Oak Point

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Illusionists - by Nicholas

           Seven great magicians of this era have gathered for one, magnificent, magic performance at Dallas during the week of April 11. The manipulator, the futurist, the inventor, the anti-conjurer, the trickster, the warrior, and the escapologists. From all over the world, these varying magic performances awe audiences all over the world. Illusion, levitation, mind-reading, disappearance, and supposedly the first ever full view water torture escape. It is magic in its purest form. 

On Saturday night of April 18, the last day of their performance here, we witnessed these amazing acts first hand at Musical Hall at Fair Park.

Bright lights shone upon a single figure. With the stage lights bright and focused on him, he took center stage and introduced himself as “The Futurist”. Quickly, he had performed the first trick of the show. He asked a woman to name 3 things that caused her happiness. First, she listed an emotion, joy. Then, she named her father, Paul, as the cause of her joy. Finally, she named the year 2015 as her joyful year. Summoning a fortune cookie, the following message was quickly revealed. “May you feel joy as you did with Paul in 2015.” 

Just as suddenly, a fantastic crash sounded. As the curtains were drawn and the stage lights dimmed, nine shadow cloaked figures had taken the stage (2 were assistants). Tricks began to fly in rapid succession.

The synchronization of the futurist and electronic display on a big screen made us to feel that he could get in and get out of the virtual world at will! 

The manipulator , a world magician competition champion, performed his magic via cards. In addition to the usual card tricks, his card magically floated between his hands. In the grand finale, he rowed up his sleeves, and displayed his tricks in "bare hands and arms".

Overall the show was entertaining and from time to time exciting, from archery so precise that it could shoot a ring out of the center of an apple to comedic relief, the Illusionists did it all.

Of course all their magics is illusion. But to figure them out was not easy. For example, my dad said the floating card must be due to magnetic field and magnet on the card. When I opened my own Ultimate Illusionists Floating Card kit at home, I found out that the mechanism for the float was very rudimentary. 

Note: this post was derived from a journal written by Nicholas