Full Moon on Christmas Day


What a beautiful sight, the full moon on Christmas night! It’s the first time it happened in 38 years, and the next one will be in 2034.

(More info on this rare Christmas full moon from space.com.)



Gatherings Then and Now


When I saw this nativity scene, I wondered how this small gathering could become a much celebrated event without social media. No tweet to announce it, but angels sang “Hark!” No Instagram photo, but animals and shepherds came to witness. No likes on Facebook from all over the world, but there were gifts from wise men who followed a star from afar.

As the story goes, it wasn’t a good time either. They had to travel far, of all things, to be profiled in a census. It happened in a manger because there was no other place to go. And they were immediately on the run for fear of the massacre that followed. It’s a good story except there was no YouTube to make it go viral.

But two evangelists blogged about it.

And it did go viral. In a big way. Over the centuries.

Because it was the greatest story ever told.

Then and now, there is really no perfect time for a story. The only right time is “now.”

May your celebrations be filled with joys and victories, of great stories in this journey of ours called life.

(Gathering and Now)


Tricycles Meet a Pump Boat

Passengers gather their belongings to disembark from a pump boat, thankful for a safe journey from the nearby island. They then get on one of the tricycles, which have gathered at the port to meet them and bring them to the next leg of their journey.

(On the island of Mindanao in the Philippines.)


A “pump boat” is a motorized outrigger canoe. The old, small ones used to be powered by small water pump engines (hence the name), but the newer and bigger ones usually have gasoline or diesel automobile engines.

A “tricycle” is a motorcycle fitted with a locally assembled passenger sidecar.

Both the pump boat and the tricycle are common modes of transportation in the Philippines – pump boats for inter-island travel, and the tricycle in small towns and rural areas.

(More info on the pump boat and the tricycle.)


Breakfast in Unfamiliar Places


“It’s better to look at the sky than live there.”
– Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Sometimes we wake up in unfamiliar places.

When we travel we yearn for new adventures, but we sometimes miss our comfort zones.

Waking up in the sky in a new place may be unsettling, but nothing beats a good breakfast in making the unfamiliar familiar.

After all it was also Truman Capote who wrote: “Home is where you feel at home.”

Give me a hearty breakfast and I’m ready to face the world and the adventures ahead!

Dartmoor, England, From a Rained-On Bus

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Wet, craggy, cold, lonely.

Dartmoor, in Southwest England, is one of those places you drive through somewhere between Bath and Stonehenge when you tour the UK. It’s not one of those top-of-mind destinations; after all, not too many people live in the area, except in Princetown where Dartmoor Prison is.

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Oops! It seems like we started off on the wrong foot. Let’s start over, OK?

Did I mention Dartmoor is wet? Yes, and craggy and cold and lonely. But perhaps that is what I found appealing about it. Somehow I found this kind of raw romanticism more real than the perfect sunny-day-at-the-beach and postcard-ready variety – or in this day, Instagram-ready variety.

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Rather than a prison, I find that Dartmoor represents freedom. This rugged and honest place –where nature wears no clothes of pretension – it makes you feel welcome, without question about your right to exist and just be yourself.

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These photos from a few years ago were taken from a bus on a rainy day (so what else is new?). I was mesmerized by the landscape and its character. I was snapping photos as we went, not paying too much attention to the images. It turned out the camera often focused on the raindrops on the bus window, which meant the scenery was not sharp, and of course the moving bus meant the foreground was blurred too.

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Still, I find the photos captured the experience well – a sense of transitory freedom.

The sun did break out occasionally.

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And we stopped where some free-roaming, wild Dartmoor ponies were nearby.

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Heeding Dartmoor’s call will always be a lingering wish, a fantasy perhaps, but one that is worth remembering and going back to.

(More info about Dartmoor and the Dartmoor pony.)