Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Jed's Friendship Assembly

Here is Jed singing with his friends in the kidergarten friendship assembly at school. There are 5 American children in his class of 16.

Everything takes longer

I bought a dress at Lord and Taylor before I moved here last year. The strap that goes around the back of the neck needed to shortened, so I decided to take it to the Tailor Xiao Shi. I dropped it off last week and she said it would be ready on Tuesday. So, today I went by to pick it up on the way home from dropping Huck at school. My intention was to pick it up and then go to the gym for a work out before the Chinese conversation class I am going to, or planned to, starting today.

When I walked in the work room of the flat, I saw my dress being set at a machine. They were JUST STARTING work on it. I saw that I'd be waiting a long time for the alteration so I tried to convey that I could just go back tomorrow. She would not have it. Everything is about saving face, but I really didn't care. I'd rather have been able to go about my day. Instead, I waited there and tried on the dress at least 7 times. Getting a near perfect fit. As it turns out, shortening the strap was only the beginning. The entire dress was too big. It fits now but the process took nearly 3 hours. I am not exagerating.

In the US, a dressmaker would rather not have a customer hanging around all that time, but here, her face was saved because she was able to send me home with the dress on the promised day.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Israeli Gala

We attended a gala celebration marking 15 years of friendship between Israel and China. A famous Israeli singer, David D'Or, performed with the Beijing Symphony which was conducted by a famous Israeli conductor. It was great. The guest of honor was Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of Israel.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


I want to tell you about a conversation Tom had in December.
We were curious about drinking laws in China. We have friends who have high school aged children so we were wondering what it might be like to be a teenager here.

So, Tom asked Xiao Shang, our driver, if there is a drinking age in China. Xiao Shang said "small children shouldn't drink." Seems obvious, but Tom decided to try again and got the answer that there is no law regarding drinking age here and it depends on the family as to what they allow their children to do.

Tom followed up the question with one about the driving age in China, whether or not there is one and if so, what it is. Xiao Shang proceedeed to tell him that you should not drink and drive. :-)

The Chinese language is unique. There are so many words that sound alike and it often takes several repetitions of a statement to get one's point across. I enjoy listening to conversations around me, trying to desipher what is trying to be said. It really is an interesting language.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

computers are not working well

In December there was a big earthquake in Taiwan. Several fiber optic lines were cut so our internet has been messed up ever since. We lost our connection completely for several days but, thankfully, we got it back. Now, for over 3 weeks, our connection has been slow and hit or miss. Some sites work and others don't. Mail sometimes goes and sometimes doesn't. So, that's why pictures haven't been posted or emailed lately. I keep trying.
Thanks for understanding.

Close but not quite there...

"Close but not quite there" is a sentence that is used all the time to describe things here.

For instance, yesterday I went to Walmart. It looks similar to an American Walmart but it's just not the same. They tried very hard to make it seem the same but the experience is anything but American right from the start. The parking lot is around the back, down a different street and very difficult to find. Then, once you are inside the garage, you have to drive for about 5 minutes, around tight corners, to find the actual Walmart parking spots and then you still have to walk for 3 minutes to find the entrance.

Once inside, the environment is Walmart like, with a Chinese twist, like whole frozen fish, in bulk.

Pizza, from Dominos, is another example of this phenomenon. If you order a vegetable pizza, it comes with onion (ok), mushroom (ok), tomato (ok), snap peas (huh?), and corn (what?)... It's actually pretty good, but again, not quite there...

Another example is the Chef. Please don't get me wrong, I am NOT complaining... Two days ago I sent a recipe for chocolate chip cookies so that his wife could translate it for tonight. Again, let me prefice this by saying that I am not complaining about anything related to having a chef twice a week. I am THRILLED with the privledge. I just want to demonstrate how nothing in China is as easy as it may seem. So, anyway, I sent the recipe. Today I saw him baking the cookies and found he had used a large bag of chocolate chips, twice the amount that the recipe calls for. There are 24 ounces of chocolate chips in a batch of cookies that calls for 12 ounces. Also, he used spreadable butter from a tub, rather than sticks. Huck had a still warm cookie for a snack and because there are so many chips in the cookies, it basically fell apart when he took a bite and he was quickly covered in chocolate... hands, face, shirt, chair. It was very funny.

Also, last week the chef was baking for guests coming the next day and I discovered he was using peanut oil in the baked goods, rather than the crisco vegetable oil I brought from America. Now I know why the baked goods have been "close but not quite there" lately.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Here it is...

Here we are at Tiananmen Square. It took us 6 months, but we did finally get there. Huck stayed home because it was very cold. But it was really great to finally get there and see it in person.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Here's Huck, dressed for our current weather. It's usually in the teens. That doesn't stop the boys from wanting to ride their bikes to the bus, though. Also, they play outside at school during recess a few times per day, no matter what the weather. The only thing that cancels recess is when the pollution reaches certain levels.

The coat Huck is wearing is duck down. It was made in my ayi's village. We had them made for each of the boys and they each chose their own color. Each one cost 170 rmb, about $22.

The Chef

Here's a picture of Chef Bai in our kitchen. My Dad took it when he was here. It's great having the chef here twice a week. Yesterday he made Mandel Bread and Friday he'll make Challah. He also made sweet and sour chicken, crab rangoon and spicy tofu yesterday. I call it our American Chinese food dinner. He makes cookies for the kids. cinnamon buns or coffee cakes for breakfasts, whatever we ask, as long as we provide a recipe, he'll make it! It's tricky to try a new recipe on guests, though, because we can never be sure how the recipe will translate into Chinese and how it will turn out, so we have to plan ahead.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Only in China

Here's an example of the difference in our cultures and languages. This is a hospital that Tom passes every day on his way home from work. I can't imagine a hospital with such a name having much success in the US.