A Visit to Vietnam

For most Americans the word Vietnam evokes painful memories, a cherished person gone too soon, and a hateful war we’d rather forget.

Our welcome committee in Nha Trang, Vietnam

I probably would have never visited Vietnam if our cruise ship hadn’t put it on its Far-East itinerary that included five days in China, Beijing and Shanghai, a stop in Okinawa (Japan), a visit to Taiwan, two days in Hong Kong, and two days in Vietnam, before we reached Singapore to fly home.

NHA TRANG is one of Vietnam’s most popular seaside destinations. It offers white-sand beaches, azure and turquoise waters, coconuts palms swaying in the breeze, and gaily painted fishing boats in the harbors of small villages. We took a guided tour to visit the Long Son pagoda, the Reclining Buddha, the Cham Tower complex and a couple of factories.

Long Son pagoda, or White Buddhist Pagoda as called by the locals, is a beautiful Buddhist temple built in the 19th century, on top of Trai Thuy hill. A pair of dragon mosaics stands firmly at the entrance, while lush topiary lines the main grounds.
On the way to the top of Trai Thuy hill, we admired the reclining Buddha statue made of marble. People say that The Reclining Buddha represents the potential that all beings have to release themselves from suffering. The serene and smiling expression of the reclining Buddha statue portrays the compassion and calmness that come with the enlightenment. 
Po Nagar Cham temple complex was built between 8th and 11th centuries by the Cham people who once ruled the central plain of Vietnam. They are renowned for their skills in sculpture and architecture, and left behind a legacy of artifacts and temple settlements not only in Vietnam, but also Cambodia and Thailand.

 

The towers of Po Nagar Cham are square red brick structure with protruding support frames and tapering roofs. Their towers are shrines to different deities. The tallest building, the Po Nagar Kalan, is the most impressive. 
Cri Cambhu, goddess of fertility.
Vietnamese women practicing the art of picture embroidery, at a local workshop for embroidery..

 

A lacquer factory where I bought a gorgeous jewelry box

Our second day in Vietnam was spent in the capital, Ho Chi Minh–or Saigon– a bustling metropolis where bicycles, motorbikes and cars fly down at dizzying speed. We took a walking tour around the downtown.

Ho Chi Minh City Hall
Independence Palace
Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon
Pedicab is a special type of transportation for Vietnam. 

Unfortunately I haven’t cruised for two years. Now I spend my time writing. My latest book is released today. I hope you will celebrate with me and enjoy RESCUE PLANS, book 3 of Love Plans Series.

RESCUE PLANS

To forget the drama that shook his life years ago, Captain Rafael Lopez dedicates himself to his career as a helicopter pilot, transporting patients in need of urgent care. His new flight nurse holds his attention with her gorgeous face, sassy mind, and indomitable spirit.

With determination and a lot of guts, Arianna Garcia survives life in the slums, learns to conquer her fears, and fights for herself. Rafael gives her the courage to break from her past. And Arianna is delighted to be Rafael’s flight nurse by day and passionate companion by night. After meeting a few jerks, she doesn’t believe in crazy promises and sex-driven hypocrisy.

Will Rafael discover the skeletons in her closet, gain her trust, and restore her faith in love?

Rescue Plans is book 3 of the Love Plans Series

Crocheting

Years ago, my mother-in-law decided to teach me crochet. My first reaction was to protest. With a full-time career and an overwhelming schedule as a lab manager, I hardly had time to cook for the family, let alone sit on a chair for hours and crochet, but she insisted I would learn without effort. With incredible patience and perseverance, she managed to teach me the basic stitches. Her compliments encouraged me to crochet a blanket.

My first afghan is 30y old: Unfortunately, I forgot how to stitch this pattern.

Things didn’t go easy as she chose a complicated pattern where I had to continuously concentrate on the task and count stitches. My first blanket took forever. I had to undo and repeat every time she detected a mistake, which often revolted me, but when it was eventually finished I was quite proud of myself.  We started a smaller afghan with a much easier stitch, one that repeated itself. I got the hang of it. Over the next five years I crocheted afghans for every relative in the family, baby blankets for every young friend expecting a baby, and a mix of these that were auctioned at the church festival, for a total of almost thirty pieces.

After I took an early retirement to pursue my dream of writing novels, I didn’t have time to crochet. Fifteen years later, I realized I completely forgot how to crochet. When I found a note in the church bulletin announcing a crochet hour every Thursday morning, I showed up with my old crochet bag. I explained that I was ready to learn again. The group of ladies reassured me they would teach me in no time. “It’s like riding a bicycle. It’ll come back right away.” Surprisingly it did. They taught me an easy stitch lemonade, and a few others.

One of the old ladies reminded me of my mother-in-law with her short white hair and her way of saying, “Doesn’t look right. You better undo it, dear, and repeat.” At Christmas time, more than two-hundred afghans and blankets are exhibited in the church hall and then shipped to the veterans and to the hospice.

The afghans ready to be shipped to the veterans or the hospice at Christmas time.

Now that I finally mastered a couple of stitches, I find crocheting immensely relaxing, and an excellent therapy for my hands, especially after a whole day at the computer.

My work in progress.

10 benefits of crocheting you won’t want to overlook

  • It’s a stress buster. …
  • It helps with depression. …
  • It’s good for your body. …
  • It keeps your mind active. …
  • It’s creative. …
  • It contributes to mindfulness and relaxation. …
  • It increases self-esteem. …
  • It helps others.

Can I teach you to crochet?

Of course during the day I write, and publish. Here are two books newly released during this month.

#NewRelease SAILING AWAY PLANS (Love Plans Series, book 1) A romantic comedy, realistic, sexy and emotional: Dr. Winston quits work to start a new life in the Caribbean, on his new boat, in a new clinic, but love strikes at the wrong time.

#NewRelease DATING PLAN (Love Plans Series, book 2)  Happiness finally seems within grasp for Matt and Brenda until the bullies in her daughter’s class pull her into their web again.

The ‘Wake Up in the Morning with a Smile’ Virus

Happiness and goals: these are gifts we give ourselves.


It’s been four years now and I’m still smitten with the happiness virus. Mine is fed by giving in to my love of writing. Such happiness is not to be cured but should be spread. Fortunate is she who has found her love and followed it. My advice to others: if you have something—a talent or maybe just a strong desire—that causes you to awaken with a grin, embrace it, cultivate it, and share it. It might be good for others, too.
Writing is my happiness. Sharing is my privilege. As of December 2012, I have composed four and a half novels (and published two of them), penned numerous novellas, spent a week in and about Greensboro, North Carolina for the sole purpose of research (it’s the home zone of most of my stories), purchased and/or downloaded dozens of research books, and cut and pasted countless rows into my Excel database of storylines for THE FAIRIES SAGA. I compulsively jot random plots, quotes, and themes into notebooks or tap them onto my smartphone, saving them for (possible) inclusion in future works. Writing is still my happiness.

November 12, 2012, after my return from Greensboro, NC

Goals are gifts we give ourselves and my next one is to travel to Australia in January 2014. Part of FAIRIES DOWN UNDER, the fifth in my series, transpires in January 1788 with the arrival of The First Fleet, the ships laden with prisoners transported from England to Australia. I want to endure the climate at the same time of year as did those hardy men and women, touch and smell the exotic flora, tread those historic sites, investigate the museums, and barefoot those seashores. It’s also a great time and place for research since I’ll be leaving Alaska in the icy gloom of winter to spend a couple of weeks in sunny, summertime Sydney.
Give yourself a gift, a small goal, not one of monetary gain, but of seeking happiness. Singing, sewing, serving others: do what truly makes you happy. A song written for the church choir, a cap crocheted for a new baby, a book of poems for your mother, mowing the lawn for the old couple next door. These are simple gifts; gifts to yourself, and also for others.
Happiness is ours to create, culture, and ultimately, to share.

I left room for my mega novel FAIRIES DOWN UNDER, still in process.

NOTE: I originally wrote this blog almost nine years ago. I think it still applies today. Well, except my ‘fifth’ novel is still not written. I skipped past that one for now, but I DID go to Australia for the research! There are thirteen in THE FAIRIES SAGA series now, and I’m at forty novels written and/or published. Do I still love to write? Absolutely!


Doctors in Love 2: Download to your KU Library or buy today for 99cents on a Countdown Deal!

How To Eat ~ 3 Simple Rules by @Donna_Fasano #HealthyLiving

How To EatI don’t know about you, but I love food. There aren’t very many food items that I won’t eat. Over the course of my life, I’ve been skinny and I’ve been chunky. I’m happy to say that, right now, I’m at a weight that is healthy for me. Here are the three simple rules I used to get there.

Eat Mindfully

Three times each day we have the opportunity to truly practice who we are and what we believe. All of us should ask ourselves a few questions about what we’re eating. Are whole foods healthier for me than processed foods? Am I bothered by what the overuse of pesticides and fertilizers is doing to our planet? Am I concerned with GMOs? Do I want to contribute to my local economy? You could probably think of many more profound questions to ponder… and I invite you to suggest them in the comment section.

Eat Just Enough

My beloved father has passed away. But when eating out, his favorite places to go were “all you can eat” buffets. He was obese and suffered with Type 2 Diabetes. I inherited my love of food from my dad and I’ve come to realize that I am often compelled to eat for reasons other than hunger. I try really hard not to do that, although I have to admit that I fail every once in a while.

As I get older, I find that I am eating less. My metabolism has slowed down, so I don’t need as many calories. I feel better when I eat smaller meals; I suffer fewer bouts of heartburn and bloating. I’m not telling you to go hungry. I’m only suggesting that you eat just enough to feel satisfied and then stop.

Eat Mostly Plants

It’s a fact: eating meat contributes to heart disease, cancer, and a shortened life span. And I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that animals used for food are treated with abject cruelty. Many years ago, in the time of the hunter/gatherer, there was a deep sense of gratitude, even reverence, offered to any animal that gave its life to the hunter; the sacrifice of the animal was recognized and appreciated. We’ve completely lost sight of that concept. Today, we do the slaughtering in hiding, and the practice is horrendous. A tiny bit of research will show you it’s true. Everyone who eats meat should take the time to really think about how that steak, that bacon, that fried chicken came to be on their plate.

Am I telling you to become vegetarian? Absolutely not. I eat meat. I just don’t eat it very often. And when I do, I do it mindfully.

Reverse Heart Disease

Did you know that a plant-based diet can reverse heart disease? It’s true! Other great reasons to eat mostly plants:

  • Most veggies have only 10 to 50 calories per cup, while 1 cup of cooked ground beef contains 340 calories with 44% saturated fat.
  • Eating plants is better for the environment. It takes 15 pounds of grain to raise 1 pound of beef, and 5 pounds of grain to raise 1 pound of chicken. Animal products are the highest producers of greenhouse gases. It takes 460 gallons of water to produce one quarter-pound hamburger. Wow!
  • It’s cheaper. The average “fast food” meal for a family of 4 costs an average of $24. Well, you can cook a whole pot of lentil soup and serve a fresh salad with a loaf of crusty, fresh-baked bread, and the meal will cost right around $10 for that same family of 4.

I guess what I’m trying to do is get you to think before you eat. I am still a firm believer in the old adage “all things in moderation.” I still have a sweet tooth, and I work hard to get in my 10,000 steps per day, but if we practice more conscious living, all of us will be the better for it.

How do you feel about my 3 simple rules for how to eat? Are there any rules you would add?