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Xưa thích đào phớt nhẹ nhàng; lớn nữa thích sắc mai vàng lạ phương Nam; nay lại quay về đào nhưng là đào thắm.

Xưa thích Tết được nghỉ học, ngủ nướng, đốt pháo, nhận lì xì; lớn nữa thì dửng dưng, nhất là những năm ở nước ngoài chẳng có chút vị Tết nào tuy vẫn có bánh chưng, hành muối; nay đã biết trân trọng thời khắc thiêng liêng này trong năm, theo kiểu con xa nhà về sắm Tết ăn Tết với bố mẹ. Chộn rộn đào quất, mứt kẹo, giò gà, và vẫn đôi lời cằn nhằn hết dọn dẹp lại tới băm chặt, nấu nướng.

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quán vắng chiều 28

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thú điền viên thành thị

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em nhỏ nhất nhà

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Quà Hà Nội: bưởi Diễn, cam Canh, giò bố gói, hành bố muối, lạc bố rang

chữ Thuận - Quốc Tử Giám It’s the last day of the year of dragon. After 7 years, I once again feel the spirit of the new year. Cherry and kumquat trees everywhere. House mopping, furniture dusting, bed sheets laundrying. Whole days of prepping food for all the prayers and for the next few days when the market will be close.

After lunch today, I managed to squeeze out a couple of hours to go to the Temple of Literature (dedicated to Confucius, teachers, scholars, and learning in general) to ask for lucky characters. It’s an age old and Chinese influenced tradition: people went to esteemed scholars for a couplet, a pair of hanging scrolls that they would put up by the house entrance to greet the new year. With the introduction of the Vietnamese alphabet and the decline in Chinese scholars, this tradition almost went extinct. It wasn’t till the early 2000s that we saw its revival. I still remember going to the Temple the first year that the new year’s calligraphy giving-away was organized; I was surprised seeing so many young calligraphy writers. The traditional image was that of an old scholar with balding gray hair.  Read the rest of this entry »

My old friend, Duong, came to pick me up at the San Diego airport on the 31st. Duong was, and still is in my group of close friends from middle school. We hadn’t seen each other for 4.5 years, since I left for college the summer of 2005 – how time flies. We left almost immediately with two more friends of hers. Direction: Las Vegas. So was *everyone* else. It took us 8 hours, instead of the usual 4. The traffic was absolutely insane – it was at times as bad as sitting in a cab in Times Square – it drives you nuts ’cause you are *not* going anywhere, and it seems like it’d be 5 times faster walking.

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