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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.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Unlike brooms and mops which happily occupy a class by themselves, some things just don't fit into a category. So, like covered containers we find hunkered down in the corners of a fridge, photographic leftovers deserve a place at the dinner table too!

This is the niftiest drain stop!  It swivels!  The end of drain grief!  So rock, China.  I wonder if our apartment manager would notice if we took the whole sink.

Ye Olde Little Red Book.  English translations of Maoisms???  Have yet to see those.

Chops.  Sort of personal stamps.  Craftsmen carve your Chinese name into the end as you wait.  You buy a little tub of dense red ink to accompany your chop. Paco purchased a yin/yang Taoist symbol one.  I'm waiting to see it show up as a temporary tatoo on him someday when I least suspect it...

A ping pong store!!  One of dozens we've seen.  Not just a section--a whole store!!

Raisin cart!!!  Isn't it gorgeous???

 Look for these plastic crocheted edges purse thingies!!!  Coming to an enrichment meeting near you!!!!!!  Surely it is only a matter of time...

Can't help myself--but I am going to a self-awareness seminar, "You and Your Mop Obsession--Cleaning Out the Mind's Dark Corners of Repressed Tendencies".

"I say embrace that obsession, Mad!  China and I applaud you!  Too many foreigners completely miss our mops and brooms!  Photo ON!!"

Take a baby bottle. Fill it with fish food.  Cut the heck out of the nipple.  Fill a pond with hundreds of fish.  Charge a fee.  Find a way to hold that bottle.  Stand back and watch the Chinese completely absorb themselves in the activity.  Food Frenzy Taken to the Next Step!!!


And yet another sucker!

Oh to fill these cages with some gregarious parrots...

 Ukes for my fifth graders, who incidentally will ALWAYS be referred to as "my fifth graders" even though they hopefully continue to get promoted yearly to the next grade.  They know who they are...

Where we church!!!  Thanks to Chevron for providing such handsome digs for their expats.  We, of the humble "projects", appreciate seeing how the other half lives each Sunday.

The deck of our "church".  We all leave our shoes here before we go in.

A calligraphy shop!

Life-sized vases.  I'm not sure what one does with them.  I can imagine they grace something palatial.

This little ball of fluff really doesn't like me.  He barks and snarls and generally gets his knickers in a wad every time I pass, and this man tries to calm him down with, "That's not an alien, Toots.  Just an American.  Don't waste your breath." -- or something to that effect.  Little does Toots know that I am a deeply-rooted dog lover...If Toots would meet me halfway, I know I could at least bring a few biscuits in my pocket and pat his adorable head..

Whoa!  Just where do you think YOU'RE going, kid?

The end.

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