Showing posts from 2009


This was my lunch a few days ago when I was out and about. I stopped into a Xinjiang lunch spot and enjoyed my dish of some peppers and a bit of spicy beef over rice. The soup is complimentary.  Xinjiang is the northwestern-most province in China:  a gigantic, underdeveloped and wild but beautiful part of the world.  There are numerous non-Chinese local languages spoken there, predominantly Uighur but many others as well.  Also the native people from this region are caucasians.  This region borders on Tibet and the Stans as well as other far western areas of China. Kashgar on the Silk Road is a major city in Xinjiang; the capital is Urumqi.   

> Two Months of Holidays

Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas. —Peg Bracken.

What do we do when it gets cold in Shanghai?  We bake, drink tea and go out for hot pot.  Hot pot is a steaming vat of broth, sometimes divided into two sections with one very spicy and one more mild, that you add ingredients into to cook at your table.  Then you take out the food and dip it into a sauce that you created. 

Did I mention that we play on the internet and I like to use Skype...when it works!  Lately it seems like my connection crashes over and over. 

This holiday season I am getting on a plane and going to my home in the states.  I have many people in my life I am grateful for and will get to see some of them during this vacation.  This week I have only to go to work and prepare mentally for that long flight and the mental cultural shift of life for 2 weeks in the states.  
The twelve days of Christmas from the west is more like the two months of holidays in Shanghai.  It star…

You know you've been in China for a while when...

-everyone you know has had some kind of major digestive problem that seemed life-threatening at the time -you no longer ask why, you just go on with a WTF sigh -it's an ordinary thing to see someone walking backwards clapping their hands on the sidewalk -you get on the elevator and there is you, a family of 3, a bike, and a stroller and it doesn't seem crowded -you are used to getting your salary in cash -your taxi swiped your refillable pay card and switched it on you to one with a zero balance -you live in local housing and have no heat source in your kitchen or bathroom, but that's ok because why do we heat them anyway? -receiving international personal mail is a cause for celebration -you regularly take motorcycle taxis...


Lately I have fallen for music composed by the living artist Yann Tiersen, a Brit living in France.  He wrote the score for the movie Amelie, perhaps most famous for the piano piece Comptine d'un autre ete L'apres but I just love Sur le fil which is for viola, as well.  I love the emotional intensity in his work.  He has some other cool stuff, like Le Train and Rue de Cascades, which made me think about the meaning of the word 'cascades' as we have the Cascade mountain range in the western part of the U.S. and crossing them is a rite of passage for me, a wintery routine we must pray that the weather gives us passage through during the winter.  Cascades literally means "waterfalls."
First photo shows a bit of pollution at ground level a few days ago.  The second is looking out my window today.
On Nov 27 2009Air quality in BeijingShanghai is Good, index II (index max: V).
In AustriaBelgiumFranceHong KongMadridUKthe USA, same air would be considered as Bad, index 8 (index max :10).
This is not just my imagination...the air is BAD. 
I think we were in the Hankou area of Shanghai on a walking tour of the former Jewish ghetto, where thousands of Jews took refuge during the holocaust.  Then we moved on to a former slaughterhouse, now called "1933" which is trying to be a fashionable, upscale consumer destination for the rich and is well on its way to doing so.  Personally I felt horrible fengshui in it and I had to force myself to remain with my 8 friends when I felt like getting far away from there.  Ironically it's a hot spot for fashion and photo shoots but no amount of money and glitz is going to erase what that place once was.  

Later I went with another group of friends to have 'hot pot' in a restaurant that specializes in fish hot pot.  After we chose our ingredients and flavors, they showed me the fish.  I'd say it was about 8 pounds.  The taste was actually really delicious - only it was served with the bones in, like every Chinese restaurant.  Still I would return there because we…
It's like using an outhouse during the winter.  You get used to it.  Oh there is indoor plumbing alright.  But most bathrooms are NOT heated in China, including mine and my school's.  The ice water to wash your hands is even more exciting!  Well, I was commiserating with myself over this situation recently but got around to covering my toilet seat with a cushy, tacky, red but WARM soft cloth cover.  And it's hard to believe but my ayi (my wing's custodian lady) just now showed me there is a hot water heater to wash our hands with warm water on the fourth floor where I teach...TCB (That's China Baby) At home it's not that bad. I just turn on the heat lamps and leave them on for a while.  But I also turn them off.  Really, why do we waste so much energy on heating bathrooms in the west anyway when it's a room we hardly spend much time in overall! 
Oh, it is cooooooooold now.  Thirty three degrees F and a breeze makes it feel below freezing...this is brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr on a bike!!!! Glad for my hat and gloves and warm coat!  I knew I should have brought my ski goggles this time. 
I think prayer is not a hot, cool or sexy topic for most blogs.  Especially for most party-going Shanghaiers (which if you know me, is NOT me.)  But I think prayer is important and wanted to refresh my ideas about it.  So I looked at Guideposts' link and I particularly agree with number six--praying for someone who gives you trouble, who is in trouble, or is in some way a problem for you.  I also think it is not selfish to pray for yourself in this way when you are your own worst problem!  In a general sense I believe our nation and many nations need both prayer and action, starting in our own backyards.  In a personal sense I have neglected prayer somewhat but I am utterly thankful for the people and experiences that God graces my life with. This links to a story about the internet situation in Xinjiang, the huge northwestern province in China where there has been fighting that left about 200 dead in July.  Since then the internet has been shut down there.  Although on the page it says there are (0) comments, there are a lot of comments there if you click on comments.  It is an interesting time and situation which affects the rest of China and should be a question for the world at large when our so-called innocent social networking becomes a tool of darkness and terrorism.  It does make me rethink how important those online tools are in the bigger picture, though one would think that the government would be able to track the situation very readily following electronic footprints. 
On odd days I teach a lot of violin and some guitar.  On even days I teach piano, choir and guitar.  On really odd days I'm in charge of field trips like this one to the zoo.  If you go I suggest skipping the elephant pen but wander around everywhere else.  Just go to the elephant show and be prepared to get some serious exercise. If you have decent weather like we have during October, maybe even November, pack a lunch and have a picnic. 

Normally this is my favorite season, cool and dry.  Today the temperature is 71 degrees Farenheit or 22 degrees Celsius.  But with a strong wind off the sea it feels chilly!  I wore sunglasses, a fleece jacket, a windbreaker with my hood on, a 3/4 length overcoat and gloves and I was still a bit cold on the ride to work.  There were a few moments when I was pressing with all my weight on the pedals into a head wind and made only a little progress.

Bonny Buckley
Tel.  86 136 4194 6784 "I never painted dreams...I painted my own reality."   --Frida Khalo
A few art-day photos from Brilliance West Mall and Moganshan area.  
I was fortunate to attend the "Soul of Shaolin" kungfu masters show at the Shanghai Theater Academy last night.  It was a delightful show of contortions, fast motions, drama and jumps.  One of the most fun moments was when a fellow in the next row shared his popcorn with my colleague!
I took on a small translating job for a friend who wants to send a container of some souped up refurbished motorcycles to the US so we visited a couple of shops to check it out.  One of the shops also offers some 1 day or weekend tours. 
A couple of photos from October 24, 2009. 

Fw: e-post check

This is only a test of sending a post via email; here are a few photos near my apartment.  The blue and green ones are where I live. The water is Suzhou Creek, just over the bridge around sunset.

Don't forget where you parked it


I have a problem with reading. I love to read. The better the book, though, the more in-depth it is, the slower I go. Like I've been reading Sidney Rittenberg's "The Man Who Stayed Behind" and it is taking over a month. I cannot read it every day. It is so much. And so great. It is the history of his life and the birth of modern China. He was there. He lived it and fluently -- not a little -- extremely fluently in Mandarin, participated. I cannot rush this reading. I am fascinated by it. Everyone who is interested in how the current China came to be should read that.

I am also reading Derek Sivers' ebook -- I love it but I need to re-read several things. The drawings are really funny, too. This is about how to succeed in the music business, in particular if you are an independent musician. An interesting and thought-provoking read.

Shanghai Quiet

Some friends and I gathered for teppanyaki last night. Teppanyaki is a Japanese style of grilling your food right in front of you while you watch the chef's cooking style. This was a charming restaurant scarily devoid of people, not because it wasn't good, but because most of the local population had returned to work from the long vacation yesterday. This place had the air conditioning just right, an exhaust fan that was not loud but did the job of removing the oil-smoke, and "old" Chinese brick walls. Teppanyaki is not something I eat very often because it is like a gastronomical exercise. You order whatever you like and you can eat as long as you like. It sounds kind of sick but over a couple of hours and matching meat with vegetables is actually very delicious. I'm partial to mushrooms. We had beef, lamb, ox tongue and some kind of clam; green pepper, two kinds of mushrooms, asparagus and eggplant. We kept reordering the green pepper and mushrooms. T…

Copying a Social Application

OK, it is not an exact replication. But there are the same colors, similar layout, and creepy feel that it is an imitation nonetheless. If this is big brother's answer to the American-owned international Facebook I am not buying it. I seriously advocate for Facebook founders to sue these makers in international copyright court. - use google translator if you need to. I guess the joke is on me, since I actually enjoyed using Facebook to keep up with family and friends back home.

Paradigm Shift

par·a·digm (pār'ə-dīm', -dĭm')
One that serves as a pattern or model.

A set or list of all the inflectional forms of a word or of one of its grammatical categories: the paradigm of an irregular verb.

A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline. []

>>>Yesterday I had dinner with a new friend and musician. We were discussing all sorts of personal life choices, dreams and hopes. I love music and I love being a musician; providing a source of joy to others as well as teaching that is very important to me. But during this conversation when he kept saying he hoped I could get back to the states, it suddenly occured to me that music, while I intensely enjoy that it fuels my livelihood, is not my goal. Strange. But I felt a distinct shift -- momentary, yes, but it was there -- that I have a goal. One overriding life goa…


Finding a good map of Shanghai has not been easy.

The best ones I have seen so far are on
and the latest English subway map (same site)

Here is a link to Shanghai bus routes in English and are pretty much up to date

Sorry I cannot hypertext these links at the moment -- I am limited posting only text for now.
Ditto for adding any pictures.

just a post

The good thing about China's internet blockers is that it trains many of us on new ways to use the internet if we are determined to do so. Hence I am able to post now.

I believe that helping pave the way for others' success is one of life's important meanings. If you are someone in China that needs a way to your blog, email me.

Zhoushan Trip No. 1

Friday at 4:00 I took off from work, backpack in tow, for the subway on my trek to find a way to go fishing in clean water somewhere near Shanghai. I was looking for a good place to fish in water where the catch can be safely eaten. My search took me to Zhoushan, where there is a series of islands to the southeast of Shanghai.

I do not own a private car in Shanghai so I opted to take line 2 of the subway, then changed to line 4 to the Luwan Bridge station where I bought a bus/ferry combination ticket to Shenjiamen, one of the main ferry ports of Zhoushan.

Luckily I was in time to get a bus leaving at 5:30 for the 4-5 hour trip (which actually ended up taking 6 hours.) Unluckily I had to change my seat because some families with babies had got the tickets for the front of the bus. I got seat 25, which was sandwiched between a mom and her 18-or-so month old girl in front and the husband/father seated behind me. This was the most talkative and energetic 18 month old I’ve ever seen. …

Creative Copying

Be careful how you copy an idea. When something is a cute gimmick for one organization, for another to take the exact same idea is pretty obvious. Take Cleveland Opera, whose blog I follow. It has its 'chicken' spokesman. It's cute, it works, it's fun. Now my local Yakima Symphony has suddenly out of the mysterious blue taken on its own ugly "Teddy's Tales," by a spoiled looking doggy. I am not amused and I think it is entirely unclever.

On the home front I have a new recipe to add to my cookbook project: Fiery Pasta Verde! Perhaps this project will be my impetus for inspiration throughout the year. I am still shying away from another writing project although I did get one lonely little idea for working on that too.

I am in the middle of reading Sydney Rittenberg's "The Man Who Stayed Behind" of his personal accounts of his work in China, working with Mao Ze Dong, Zhou Enlai and Zhu De and colleagues during the revolution. It is pr…

Smoov Latte

Nestle has a new drink on the market in convenience stores here called "Smoov Latte." T-shirts I saw people wearing on the street "Well Trained" and "Lick Me" -- not sure that the wearers exactly got the meaning, but then who knows.

temperatures are falling

Wow, it is like one degree Celsius cooler today, and you can actually feel the blessed difference!!!

Back on, LIVE!

Holy moly macaroli. The powers that be are pretty fearsome these days in the land of the non-free press. Fortunately there are ways to deal with it and so I hope with all my heart that this fix will last me until I am not a resident in Shanghai any more. If you are living in China and need a way to your beloved sites, just drop me a line and I will give you free advice that works for me and others. Knowledge, now more than ever, is power!

Numbers seem a bit down for enrollment in the school I teach in but that just means a smaller student to teacher ratio and a better deal for those kids. Every day of work in this institution I feel grateful to have a job and that it is an important part of this international community. It's about the first job I have ever been in where I feel all my colleagues are pretty much team players and even have a good working relationship with all my superiors. So despite missing family and friends back home I am very happy. And Skype is a beautiful thing…

blogging again

Finally I learned how to get around that firewall in the sky keeps moving right along. Anyone who needs help, just holler. Here are a few things I designed and had tailored. More to come.


Yummy eating at Charme, a classy and clean restaurant at Brilliance West Mall.

Persian Dining


Japan vs Korea Baseball

After 2 games won by Korea and 2 games won by Japan, today was a big day for our students with the final tie-breaker game. At 3-3 at the end of the 9th inning, more innings were added! Finally Japan scored 2 points to win 5-3.

street Meat


Please Follow!

Did you know you can follow my blog? I don't post every day so you won't be inundated, I promise. But you would get a notice when it is updated. Just click on the button below and to the left "follow."

A Day in the Life

6:00. I wake up early, ready to get out of bed and entertain the day. Take a shower, make some coffee and get dressed.
7:00. Grade some papers
7:30. Going to put some coins in my wallet, but what, no wallet! What has happened? I had it last night to buy groceries...I text my TA to ask for her help to call that store and say a quick prayer, not expecting that the wallet will be returned.
7:50. Go to work by bicycle
8:05. At my desk, I check email. A Taiwanese friend has written from Toronto--we have not been in touch for over a year but are checking in with each other and keeping up on our lives. I receive a call as I write that my wallet was found! I can pick it up at 10:30.
8:30. Students are arriving for their connections period with me; middle school students who come before their first class. We talk about how each is doing and I tell them my wallet story.
9:00. Period 2 (even day classes) arrives for Piano Class. We listen to a 1930s jazz arrangement of Mary Had A Little…

This is the current Shanghai pollution index.

weekend is over

Strawberries are in season now so that made a sweet dinner a few nights ago! The picture below is a cross stitch done in a shop at Qibao Old Street. On the bottom Naomi is posing on a boat.


Slept in today while waiting for the heating unit on my wall to warm my room. I enjoy my remote control heating and my bed hot pad that I sleep on. Kind of a boring day but the tailor called to say the dresses that Naomi and I had made were ready to be picked up. So we met there at 3:00 pm and the dresses looked nice. She even had used a beautiful thin silk lining in Naomi's items. I'll try mine on at home and return if I need any small adjustments. After that I went to my classroom to do some work, downloading some articles and worksheets for the choir. I am vowing to do better teaching in March than I did in February. It's been so dank and rainy and cold I feel like my head is a bit in the sand. More rain is predicted. I hope this is the long stretch of ugly weather before the months of beautiful spring.

Just read someone else's blog who lives in Anting new town in Jiading District. His called something like "Becoming a Chinaman." Besides a lot …

What would you do?

A new school on the international school scene begins to participate in the regional soccer association. At one game, the opposing and more established team's coach happens to referee the game. Fouls are not being called for his team, as his players continue kicking the new school's players, again and again and again. Yet the score is tied 3 - 3. Finally the newer school's star player is kicked for like the 11th time and he screams "F - - K!!!" To which the crowd falls silent. The student is suspended for the rest of the game, embarrassed by his outburst. If you were the new school's coach, what, if anything would you do? Nothing? Call the game off due to obviously unsportsmanlike refereeing? Reprimand the student despite the student being justly indignant? Demand to coach the second half of the game? In the end the opposing team won, 4 - 0, with no consequenses for the lack of sportsmanship and bad refereeing. I think doing nothing set a bad exam…

don't smoke



I survived food poisoning, again. So did my friend Naomi. The whole time my body was getting rid of the junk I had visions of Glen ill on his trip back to the states, plane ride from hell. But it turns out he was fine. Lucky him. Took my stomach ten days to reach normal after that ordeal. Watch out for the Hilton brunch buffet where the eggs were undercooked, twice. Naomi ate the same thing. She even went to the hospital. I suffered it out, only falling asleep at my desk once the next day. It's funny. In Shanghai, I have no allergies and no coughing, despite the severity of pollution at times. In the states at home I just can't stop coughing, ever. But this food poisoning, I can't be 100% sure it was from the Hilton, as we had had a lot of sushi at another 5 star hotel the day before. But the other friends who ate a lot of oysters there were fine. The other time I got this ill in Shanghai also occured about 2 days after consuming an oyster...sad because I reall…

Qibao Visit