Showing posts from February, 2008

pet stores

Today I took the bike out for an hour's ride. Cruising street after street, for some reason I passed dozens of pet shops. Dogs, especially samoyeds, grooming places, animal recovery hospital, aquariums. And in a grassy area along a pedestrian/bike street, several people were parading their large well-brushed and cared for canines. Walking my bike along one block, a distinguished hound sat on his haunches looking like he knew his place and he was a member of the community, and why was I looking at him? I saw a lone cat for just a moment, then it was gone.

Feb 24 08


Heavenly Home Cooked Meal in China

Feb 23 08

Now that's what I call China. My landlord invited me to have a meal with him and his family during the spring festival, but I didn't want to intrude on their holiday. Finally he convinced me that I should come over today, since I was free this weekend. They live in a nice complex not too far from me. Each of them has their own room, one for mom, dad and son. Mom made a day out of cooking for us...11 dishes plus a soup. These were fantastic! This was some of the best cooking I have had in China. She said she taught herself how to cook. We discussed each dish and I told them that you really cannot get these dishes nor their ingredients in the states unless you go to a Chinatown and get lucky.

1. cold ham slices with Spanish peanuts in the middle
2. cold cucumber in garlic sesame vinegar sauce
3. fragrant mushrooms with pickled vegetable
4. marinated fungus
5. sauteed shrimp with corn and peas in a sweet sauce
6. seaweed shreds
7. hongxiao rousi: tiny pork pieces in a …
Feb 22 08

I bet there will be many weddings tonight, as the date is 2008-2-22 and twos are lucky for couples, and 8 is also considered lucky. A colleague is having a going away party as he is getting ready to head to his home country.

I bought a new pink bike with two locks this time. One lock is a heavier cable lock that I can hook through the bike so either the thief would have to carry the bike away or cut through the frame of the bike or the cable. It also has a round sliding key lock on the frame and back tire. Those are the ones I wonder about being able to cut through. I know if someone is determined enough it will be stolen again. It's a pain, but knowing that I spent on that first bike what I would spend on a full tank of gas in the states puts things in perspective.

Thinking on more positive moments, yesterday the lanterns were wonderful at Yu Yuan. You had to pay an entrance fee of RMB 50, but that included coupons for RMB 10 off of snacks. So I finally got the cha…

Feb 20 08 Me 2 Tall

The frying world's largest Jesus statue above is in Rio de Janeiro.

If I need to spend some money on fashions, I can always head over to Crackstep, next to an internet place called Kooknet. Or, there is a chain of clothes stores called Hot Wind.

I now know what it is like for my very tall friends. I find myself too tall for my kitchen, which was made for someone about 6 inches shorter. I bump my head on the vent over the gas burners. I have to bend my knees to wash dishes in the sink.

Kiddos were naughty again today, though not to my room. Someone lit a poster on fire on the 3rd floor, so the whole school got scolded, warned and now no student can go out of a classroom during class for any reason. Although, this could have a net effect of increased smoking in bathrooms between classes. I suppose they could actually take away the doors to the stalls like regular Chinese bathrooms, then they couldn't hide the smoking.

But the sun is still shining and I'm listening to N…

Dream Job, Nearly

I am sometimes blown away by this job and how enjoyable it can be. In the years I have been a teacher in the past, I have never had a teaching assistant, let alone one who is a college degreed opera singer! It is a real privilege and joy to have her for many of my classes. Sometimes I have a professional dancer as my assistant. And the work day--imagine having enough time to do your planning and keep up with grading, coordinating with other teachers and actually laughing over things at lunch. Did I step into a dream or is this for real? OK, the conditions are not what I had before, like the brand new school, antiseptic cleaning, adequate heat and hot water. And I will not deny that those things are all good creature comforts that I wish we had here now. But now I have to ask myself how relevant those things really were to an education. OK so we are leasing a former Chinese high school, with no hot water in the bathrooms, the service people never use detergent or c…

Feb 18 08

Yay, no smashed up machines on my watch today! It was a good day. An uneventful day, though another kid appeared, in yellow long sleeved polo, jeans and matching yellow converse high tops, enthusiastically telling me he would like to learn violin. We had his first lesson, mostly learning how to hold the bow. The naughty computer smashers have been permanently expelled. The air seems lighter at work somehow.

After work I set out for the tailor across the street to do a repair, then to order a side dish for dinner at the Sichuan restaurant on the corner, and then to buy some yinliao, or soft drinks, to have on hand. I was nearly out of drinks. In a country where you can't just grab a glass of water from the tap, having sealed beverages on hand takes on new meaning. I should just keep some cold water in the fridge. I just dread lugging the 15 gallon jug of purified water back by myself because I can really only manage it if I fill it about 75% full.

The tailor was a little shop …

Puma? Ha ha!

One of my networking pals, a young lady named Chris, sent me the link to this photo.

I really enjoy it when I get your emails from home! Thanks to all who are writing and leaving comments. I love it.

So the truth is, I feel mixed about the security situation on the job. As some of you know, before I started officially on the job, some kids snuck into one of my classrooms and smashed the computer monitor--it was one of the nice flat screened ones. This actually happened again, just after the school replaced the monitor, on Valentine's day, while I was out. And they also smashed the dvd player and ruined all the lockers on the 4th floor. Apparently these kids were observed by other kids and caught. Only this is not the first time these kids have been in deep trouble. The principal let me know these same kids set FIRE to a wall there in the fall...! I hope these kids find out that not only would they be kicked out of a Chinese school, they would be permanently DEPORTED back …

beemers in Shangers

I try to temper my bad language with *holy cow* instead of *holy sh*t* but I slipped up at least once today, when I realized that in my neighborhood we have chinasidecar -- so I looked them up when I got home. HOLY COW & GOSH these bikes look like fun! Ever since I started riding with Glen I have been interested in a BMW bike, well also after seeing the World's Fastest Indian movie, and here are some vintage models. Apparently there is no tarriff to send it home if I bought one! Not sure about getting the side car. I guess that could be added later. But right in my neighborhood...I learn something every day. I also passed a fat mini poodle that was white, except for its ears. Its ears had been dyed a flourescent orange.

I almost forgot. Another enjoyable moment. I took time out to eat American at Moon River Diner--eggs benedict no less. And they were very good, even when I sent them back to cook the eggs harder. Real hashbrowns…

holy sh*t

There is a phrase that has entered my vocabulary, in English, I am not proud of. It pops out at the worst of times and best of times. Any time something catches me by surprise like intense pollution, finding great music in my neighborhood CD shop, stuff I could not even buy in the states, realizing that the ginger I was searching for in the wet market was being sold by the first guy I walked past as I walked in the door as I was about to leave. I took my first call on my cell phone, my 'shouji,' while riding my bicycle. An international call. Riding past kids calling out "Hello!" while I say "Hi" and the kids crack up. I stop when I pass firecrackers going off and realize it would not be getting better next to a freeway. Even people who live in the old housing and struggle to make ends meet have a shouji. But the time for firecrackers is past now; police are starting to crack down. On the way to my flat, in my complex's park, a guard on bicycle…
Feb. 14 08I awoke at 4:00 a.m. today worrying about things like 'did I catch the flu from my colleague' who was sitting across from me at lunch, blowing her nose and sneezing practically on top of the food, and was my phone account in the states compromised because they sent me a notice of a 'security' update and did I initiate it?This comes on top of someone stealing my identity in the states to open credit and trying to run up bills in my name...OK I just called to check up on it and that's ok; apparently this company sent out the notice to all of their customers regarding security, and my account is OK, THANK GOD!
So what do you do in a developing country to stave off a virus?I am being proactive here, eating oranges, eating pistachios and drinking green tea.By the way did you know that you can eliminate most of the caffeine of tea by steeping the leaves for 30 seconds and pouring off that liquid, then adding the water for your tea?I do this all the time now.It i…
These are a few egg rolls I made to snack on. I don't feel too bad about a few extra calories with doing 20 flights of stairs or so plus biking in freezing takes on a whole new meaning as far as burning calories for fuel to keep warm and healthy! I splurged on a pizza at Hello Pizza tonight -- it was wonderful! Really I eat rice and noodles most of the time with vegetables, tofu and some meats.

I've started 4 girls on violin, one of whom is learning on a Yamaha electric. One of them is also an extremely accomplished pianist and only in 6th grade. Short blog today as I'm fading fast and in need of the warm bed. Like a fool I tore off for work today without a scarf nor my new winter coat and I paid the price in feeling the cold after work today. Washing my hands in ice water at work didn't really help either.

Despite my moans I am happy so far!

Feb 12 08

Today was my first day back on the job. It went fine. I asked when we would get my computer monitor set up in the dance room and it happened today. We are back to juggling rooms as one teacher had scheduled the dance room for gymnastics this quarter during 3 of the periods I teach. I will also be getting a 'Connections' class because the middle school teachers don't have enough room for all their students. We are considering where this class should be held, keeping in mind that I need to be in the room where I will teach so I can get ready too. There isn't an easy solution to that one at the moment unless kids meet in the dance room or auditorium ... neither of which has a networked computer. Connections is a 15 minute period at the beginning of school and end of school like a home room; the teacher acts as their guide such as a guidance counselor to help them transition into their day and to get ready to go home, giving them any updates they need. It was on th…

Feb 11 08

New explosions.Celebrating the arrival of the god of wealth.All night long!The picture is a few remains of the red papers holding the fireworks but they've almost been all swept up by 7:15 a.m.Is that getting rid of the evidence?All I could think about was how to write a symphony of the celebrations...using amplified timpani; one 'boom' sends up the bomb and a second 'boom' blows it up in mid air.These 'explosions' are not your average 'kapow' -- take a rife shot and amplify by about 15X. We could amplify clapping to get the firecracker effect.The music store I planned to go to either is closed today or just didn't open yet.A lot of businesses are closed for a week or more.A violin factory I got in touch with sent me a list of their fantastic fob prices but they won't be back open until the 18th.

The lantern festival is coming up on the 22nd; I imagine a lot of weddings will take place that night because it is 2-22-08.The number 'two'…

Feb 10 08

Bet you didn't know niacin is an important nutrient to consume during the winter to help keep warm. Check out this article on the Chinese ways to keep warm.

I'm cooking some Xinjiang style beef, with tomato and cumin sauce, sauteed onion, garlic, potato and carrot. At the last minute I will add some pepper pieces. In a short while I will start the rice. I just wonder about the stove I use. The part that holds up the pan or pot is painted with some kind of paint that burns off a little more each time I use it. It's a bit noxious. I wonder how it compares to the outdoor pollution. The past few days the weather has been the same. It starts off sunny, beautiful, and as the day grows longer the clouds (pollution?) start to blot out the sun by afternoon.

I took the subway to Zhongshan park, what looks to be a large green area on the city map. When I stepped off of the subway, I entered into a supermall…

Feb 9 08

Gr8 F!reWa11...

Strange. Today I can post but I cannot load the blog to view it. The wonders of posting from inside the middle kingdom. I will be grateful for what I have though, as I am able to publish and edit. I was very lazy today, enjoying the freedom of vacation, sleeping 10 hours last night. I did put away some laundry and found an ATM close by that let me withdraw renminbi from Bank of America for quite a lower fee than most other US banks. I heard my colleagues were going to shoot pool and drink beer tonight at Baby Bamboo but I don't think I'm going to make it, as I am so feeling lazy and want to enjoy the free time...also I was thinking of getting a few groceries because it is so much easier to do that when the crowds are at home!

On a long ride yesterday I went to Carrefour, the French Walmart, which had a lot of organic and international foods. I will probably shop there often as it's close to the area my colleagues love to frequent. I'm interested i…


I enjoyed these articles today. I hope you do too. I am getting some sun by bicycle this afternoon. Slow down and refrain from overindulgences.

Feb 7 08

Happy Chinese New Year, the year of the Rat. The bombs have been bursting in air, between apartment buildings, next to my windows, in the streets, on the sidewalks, just about everywhere. When I looked out my window this morning the ground was red from the papers covering all the fireworks that exploded all night. The action continues, but it is slowly dying off. China has no inhibitions at this point on lighting off fireworks in the city! I think adult males are getting a bigger kick out of the pyrotechnics than the kiddies!

I have enjoyed reading someone's posting on about how to stay warm during a cold Chinese winter while living in local housing. I'm going to add one suggestion: the old hair drier technique of warming up one's boots before heading out. The fluffy slippers work great indoors but as a foreigner, I just can't work up to getting my pretties all dirty outside, unlike many Chinese who have no problem doing so.

Feb 5 08

Today I planned to go out on my bike around the neighborhood and beyond, but drizzle kept me indoors. Good thing, because at 9:00 a.m. my doorbell rang and my landlord appeared, saying he came to wait during the 3 hour period that the internet serviceman would be turning up to install my service...I guess I was just lucky today to be there since no one bothered to let me know the day or the hour this would be occuring! Now that it is set up, wow is it blazing fast, and I put it to the test by Skyping -- yes video -- with Lenny LaLumiere and it worked fabulously.

After that I Skype-to-phoned Glen and we visited as he was getting ready for bed.

I decided I couldn't stay in all day even if it was rainy, so I decided to take the subway Line 2 to Jing An Temple area, near which I lived before. It was hardly recognizable but I walked around the block in something of a wet daze. I almost laughed out loud -- ok maybe I did -- passing by a boutique called S&T. The name by itself, …