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Monday, December 8, 2014

To: 5B With Love From: Madhadder

Dear 5B,
     Hello!!  I took these pictures for you a few months ago and then just never got around to sending them.  At least when I see a hedgehog (or a whole case of them!), I will think of you.  I wish I could magically teleport each of you individually here for a day.  I would take you all over Chengdu, and I am sure I would spend most of the day picking your jaw up off of the ground!  You would be absolutely fascinated by everything.  This is a completely different world.  I spend most of the time saying, "Oh!  So THAT'S how they do it here!!"  Because Chinese culture is 5,000 years old, it is vastly different from our 200 year old American culture!  After four months, I am finally getting a little used to it!
     Yesterday I visited a private elementary school of 1200 students with a Chinese friend from church.  This was THE COOLEST school I've ever been to.

Can you believe this???  A child-sized kitchen exclusively built for teaching American cooking classes!!!

A calligraphy classroom for learning the ancient Chinese art of writing.  Aren't the bowls of ink beautiful?

Notice all of the different-sized brushes hanging.

Pottery room!!

 Inspirational sign.  What do you think???  I think this school needs some Happy Pants signs too!!

A dormitory room.  300 of the students stay overnight at the school during the week and go home on the weekend because they live far out in the province.  All of their slipper shoes were lined up outside each of the rooms up against the wall.  8 kids to a room!!!  Sounds like an eternal sleepover!!!!!  I also met the doctor who lives here with them in the dorm!

My favorite was this magnificent art room!!!  I was drooling!!!

Notice the huge beanbag couch on the left with the red pawprint cloth!  I guess you get to laze there if you finish your art!  Or maybe you can lie there to think about what you want to make!

Oh my...I forgot to tell you that this was the art room for grades 4 and 5.

Paper chairs!  Why didn't we think of that???

And the best thing of all--this OVER THE TOP funky art teacher!!!  Believe me, you do NOT run into Chinese characters like this every day!  Her dress is made of felted wool!!!!!! Go ask Mrs. Etcheverry to explain that to you.  She and I felted wool in Boise a few summers ago.  Does that blackboard behind her look like it might be a gigantic Boogie Board??????

The icing on the cake was this roof garden!!!!  It was about 6 times bigger than this picture can show.
 I have sooooooooo many other things I would like to tell you and show you, but enough about me and 1.3 billion new friends!  How are YOU?????????????????????  Write!  I am so curious about how 6th grade is going for you.  I hope the things we did last year have helped you progress on.  If you're not reading lots of books, I will come and haunt you!!!!  Briston!  YOU have a marvelous time on your cruise!  I want to hear all about it!  Kage, you showed up in my dream the other night!!  Jaxon, last night (did I mention my dream patterns here in China are UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!  If I were still your teacher, I would be telling you about a new crazy dream EVERY day!) I dreamed that Mr. Hadd and I moved in with your family for a year!  I told your dad, "We'll try to be gentle guests."  Isn't that weird?  Ecko, I miss Mugsy more than I can even tell...Everybody else--let's try and facetime again soon.  Write and I will write back!  I see some of your pictures on facebook (Shanyce, Lydia), but I still would like to get an email from you!  Jennifer, my favorite book was Summer, 1927.   I am accumulating Chinese "treasures" for each of you.  We will have a picnic next summer, and you can choose something.  Have a Merry Christmas!  I was remembering the other day about how much fun it was to practice our ukuleles for the program and also when Rosie gave early gifts to us!  And that party!!!!!! BEST EVER, Mrs. Passey!!!!!   I love you all, M. Hadd

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Who Knew...

 that dogs in China have complete wardrobes?  Since the weather has cooled, every day is a virtual Easter Parade of decked out canines!

that Mad needed to come clear across the world to find such complete photographic satisfaction in simple mops and brooms?  The added implements here are wax strainers--useful for removing copious amounts of solidified melted wax out of the water bases of...

these!  Burn a candle for good luck in the coming year!

But, of course, every tradition has its downside.

 (I threw that glove in at the last minute for effect--as did I also with this photo.)

Who knew monasteries held such mysteries as a free floating ball carved in the mouth of a beast,

or that Buddhist monks dry robes and longjohns in the recesses of their monastery? Is this the world's most beautiful laundry room or what???

I found these jokers languishing on the opposite side of that laundry room.

Who knew stairs leading up could be so enticing,

 or that this is the correct spelling of fier?  After all these years!!

 Who knew most of my Chinese friends would be under 3 feet and wear the greatest hats,

 or that some Chinese families include two children and another on the way??

 Who knew you could glaze strawberries and eat them off a stick,

or that so many willing subjects would leap before my camera?  And lastly, who knew

I would find the history of China

 etched onto these faces--telling stories I could never read in a book or see in a movie

or ever...

dream in a dream?

Monday, December 1, 2014

100 Books


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Fruit Salad in a Bedpan

We had a post Thanksgiving Day dinner today after church, and I was assigned a fruit salad for 20.  This assignment was not exactly on par with searching for the  Holy Grail or rustling up a Golden Fleece.  Nevertheless, living here in sub Girls Camp conditions, we struggled.  Paco scouted out a large can of tropical fruit.  I chopped up a few apples, threw in a bunch of bananas, and then the fun shifted.  How do we find a container big enough?  We have limited supplies on every front.  Our digs are furnished, but furnished in this case doesn't account for the stretch that taking a large salad on a 30 minute bus ride presents.  I'm not going in to how we also had to take mashed potatoes for 20 as well as cooked carrots--that would be a distraction from the REAL challenge.  What our options all boiled down to was a round metal device hunkered down in a back corner of the kitchen.  I scrubbed and scrubbed and dumped all the fruit in.  Bedpan?  Most likely not.  But then again, I didn't know that I was dousing cucumbers in wine for the last branch dinner.  Nor do I know if toothpaste is caulking or herbal tea is kitty litter or spices are red Jello or potato flakes are soap flakes...we have mysteries.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Because It Was There

We hopped on a train with a Chinese friend, Autumn, and took a little cultural weekend trip a few weekends ago.   His aunt hosted us in a very nice little country condo place.  No English there, but our charades serviced us quite nicely.

I am a sucker for a mop-headed dog.  I am particularly fond of this fellow's nose.  He's a classic.  We were warned in our training about touching the dogs--they are supposedly flea-ridden.  I haven't been too worried about the fleas with most dogs I've met, but they all seem to want to de-hand me.  I take pictures and admire them from afar.

Our first day's expedition took us to a 2,000 year old dam that is still holding.  It's a UNESCO site--very famous--Dujiangyan. If it ever breaks. good-bye Chengdu.

This was the first executive helicopter inspection stop following the 2008 earthquake.

We spotted this pretty floral wreath on a little joy hike--an obvious remnant of a medieval jousting event...sooooooo many renaissance fairs here.  yeah, right.  I like to picture a young Chinese manboy placing this romantically on his damsel's fair head.  Or maybe a crazy wind just tangled it together and whipped it up into the tree.  I wouldn't be surprised if that monkey-written novel is around close too!!

Bugs on a stick for a ridiculously low price.  I think those on the left are pupas of some sort.  Notice those ever-present sinister Sichuan spices...

I ate two.  Crunchy.  The downside was that the little wings and legs stuck like popcorn kernels in my teeth that I had to keep fishing out.

Paco was skeptical about PDA after my bug eating.  Chicken...

This is such a dandy accupuncture chart that I would be remiss to not include.  There IS some accupuncture in my future.  I just need a good garden variety malady--nothing life-threatening.

Day 2.  Ahhhhhhh....QingChengShan.  Shan is mountain--very sacred mountain--birthplace of Taoism.

Our host and hostesses (sisters!)

Let's Go!!!!!!  Enlightenment awaits!!  We clocked about 9 miles today I swear.

The woosey Chinese take buses or cars up to the base, and then they hop aboard a sleek German ski tram.

But the REAL Chinese (and apparently us) climbed

and climbed

step over step over step over step...


clinging tenaciously


we reached the top!  Magnificent 3 hour hike!!!!!!  S, T & Th--put away that resthome application!!!

We could have paid to go up this way.  Not even!!!!!

But we did take the tram down part of the way.

And then Autumn took us to "Dr. Stone" for a foot massage!  Rock therapy.  Not for the pain skittish...but we lived to see another day.

Favorite books

  • Me 'n Steve
  • Thundering Sneakers
  • James Herriott's vet books
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Travels with Charley
  • A Walk in the Woods
  • Peace Like a River
  • The Egg and I
  • Mary Poppins
  • Extremly Loud Incredibly Close
  • How Green Was my Valley