Thursday, December 27, 2012

Buddy's blog

Why do people here insist on treating dogs like..,er,..dogs?  I am part of the family!

Things I will never do:
1.  Wear shoes
2.  Color my hair - have some pride, please..
3.  Beg for anything - pizza does not count
4.  Wear anything called an "outfit"

Things I will always do:
1.  Eat all my food in one gulp
2.  Drool water from my bowl
3.  Bark at the mailman - my job
4.  Smell everything
Shoes and standing?
this is abuse
I had to go to the vet the other day.  She who is called "Mom" thinks I might have a bladder infection.  Don't ask me where I got it.  Heh, heh.  So I been pee-ing a lot - what's the problem?  Just making my mark if you know what I mean.  But it's a drag that I have to go outside to pee in the mud - it's been raining a lot lately.  I like the paw art I make when I come back in though - I didn't realize I was so artistic - hidden talents rise to the surface.
      Anyway, going to the Vet is the worst.  First they had to take my temperature - that is just messed up.  If you knew where they took it, you would shake your head with pity.  They had to hold me down for that one.  Don't like being violated, no sir, dog.
      There is a pet store next to the Vet that "Mom's" puppies Emily and Katie hung out in.  There were dogs there for the girls to pet.  These Chinese dogs have no pride.  Lots of begging, and yipping and generally doing anything to get the girls' attention.  Shameful.
      Now these girls are asking for a new dog!  What's up with dat!  Imma gonna put my paw down, and say NO more.  The one that smells like pencil led and toothpaste, Emily is going on and on about how they are cute, and cuddly.  What am I - fog?  Does she think I'm not listening?  Then the one that smells like candy and peanut butter, Katie even said she wanted a kitten!  A KITTEN!  Revolting.
       This is a one pet family.  It could get ugly.  Grrr.

check it

Holiday Vacation

      Emily and Katie have been out of school since Thursday, December 20th, and Chris has taken the week off.  On Friday, we made dumplings at our friends' the Jost's.  It was the night of Winter Solstice, and it is traditional to eat dumplings that night.  The girls were into it, and although the dumplings may not have been pretty, they were still tasty.

      We had a great Christmas, but very different from Christmas back in Pasadena.  We decided to come up with "new" traditions while we are here in China.  So on Christmas Eve, Katie got to pick what we have for dinner: Mexican Food.  It was actually very good.  Not as good as El Super Burrito on Colorado Blvd., but the best we've had in Shanghai.
       Christmas morning, we opened gifts (thanks to Nana & Papa, and Grandma, Jichan & Uncle Charlie!), and had sweet rolls for breakfast.
       On Christmas night, we went to see the Chinese Acrobats Show.  It was really great, like Cirque de Soleil, but less magical, and more acrobatic.  Less European and more Chinese - does that make sense?  The girls loved the show, and watched a lot of it peering through parted fingers.
       Today, Chris and Emily both had hair cuts.  The hairdresser shampoos your hair in the chair by piling it up with lather.  Also, Emily had her first manicure - very cool.  Later, we went to Tom's World at Super Brand Mall (like Chuck E. Cheese without the pizza).  Katie was sitting at a game where you lower a crane and it tries to pick-up a stuffed animal.  Chris said he could picture her in 20years at a slot machine in Vegas with a bucket of quarters and a gin & tonic.

I love tokens!
Slot machines are in my future
Things that are hard to find:
1.    Canned beef stock - hard to make a stew without it.
2.    Fresh tortillas - usually they are frozen, and sometimes stale.
3.    Craft supplies
4.    Planting soil

Things that are easy to find:
1.    Variety of really great oranges:  tangerines, pomelo, mandarins, all kinds  
2.    Good fake Uggs boots - $15 USD for really good looking fakes
3.    Lots of things with Disney / Mickey logos - shirts, mugs, purses, anything you can imagine.  All unlicensed, but hey, it's free advertising.

Thoughts on Shanghai...

      I think it'll take about a full year until we really feel like we have this Shanghai thing down.  Right now the weather is really cold, and we are so not used to it!  It may actually snow on Sunday morning.  This week it has been rainy - not heavy, but constant.  And when it's not raining, it's still very cold.  It will rain and be gloomy for the next few months, with January and February being the coldest months of the year.
      Our floor heater is working now, and it is very hot!  The heater gauge for each room goes from zero to 35, and I keep it under 10.  Sometimes the room so warm, that I have to open a window.  I've heard from people that if you keep the downstairs heat on, you may not have to turn on the upstairs.  That is what we are trying right now.  But it is nice to have warm floors in the bathrooms when we wake up in the morning - very toasty!
      We had some trees and hedges trimmed in our small back yard.  A gardener came first with a pair of hand clippers and hedge trimmers.  I told him that there was also a large tree in the back yard that was dead, and asked if he could remove it.  This lead to a conference of sorts.  He didn't really understand what I was asking, in my beginning Mandarin, so we had to call Marie.  Marie is our "butler", basically a person who works here with the Seasons Villas Property Management that is assigned to help me.  She is great and speaks very good English.  She had the head landscaper come out, and he agreed the tree was dead and authorized it's removal.
       Suddenly, 4 men showed-up to take care of business.  They brought a very rickety old ladder - looked like it was made by twining together boards and slats, and a bicycle with a flat trailer hooked to the rear.  They cut the tree branches from up on the ladder, but removed the tree trunk with a small hand-held saw.  The rake they used to clear the leaves looked like it had been handed down several generations.  It was held together with wrapped coat hangers.  So these men worked very, very hard and very, very quickly with poor tools and bare hands.
      This is such an example of China.  The people don't make their own decisions, they don't go outside the box and they do what they are told, but nothing more.  Maybe this is due to generations of following the status quo, and the population is not encouraged to take risks.  But once a job is assigned, they work harder, and faster than anyone else.  And there is no complaining, just perseverance.
      It's easy to admire the simple lives a lot of people have, until you realize they are stuck in poverty.  They live better than the previous generation, so they are proud and feel blessed.  Their children, the next generation of young Chinese are really the ones that will impact the world.  They are modern and educated and driven.  But they are still very close to their families, and very connected to their towns and villages.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Holidays in Shanghai

Kuài lé Shéng dàn!

We decorated the Christmas Tree yesterday.  We decided to opt for a live tree instead of a fake.  The live tree was delivered in a pot that I can transplant at the end of winter, and next winter I can re-pot it and bring it back in.  It's a little scrawny compared to the big american trees we are used to.  It's more of a juniper bush than a pine, but it still has a lovely smell.  But regardless, Emily and Katie still decorated it with love and listened to holiday music all the while.  We brought most of our holiday decorations with us, and I'm glad we did.

This is a photo of the window alcove in our family room.  Emily made the snowflakes and hung them above the poinsettias.  Both girls have been working on a window gel craft of holiday decorations.

The girls will have a very long school break beginning December 21st.  Over 3 weeks off.  We may go out of town, but it all depends.  Chris has been working a lot lately, and may only be able to get away the week between Christmas and NYEve.  I may be too late to book anything for that time.  We might just stay put and explore Shanghai a little more.  The city of Shanghai is so huge, and we've really only seen our little pocket of it.

Da Boots
1.  Emily needed white shoes for the holiday show at school.  Only thing close I found were a pair of furry boots (abominable snowman?), and the only pair that fit her were on the window display model.  So in my beginner mandarin, I somehow explained to the sales person that I wanted those boots and could she get them for me.  Nailed it!
2.  SCIS Holiday Program:  Emily's 5th grade sang "We Go Together" (from Grease), Katie's 2nd grade sang "Singin' in the Rain", and all the kids ended with John Denver's "Country Roads".
3.  Packages received from back home - hooray!  The kids love having American snacks (Cheetos, fruit roll ups, etc).  They have them available here, but very, very expensive.  I can't see myself spending $14 on a bag of imported chips.  Thanks Grandma, Jichan and Uncle Charlie!

1.  SCIS Holiday Program:  Beginning guitar and recorder (really, the instrument) and "Smoke on the Water".
2.  Floor heater install.  First the boiler needed to be repaired.  Then we turned on the floor heaters, but still not working.  Sigh.  Very typical.  Will try again this week.
3.  Google map directions from online!  After back-and-forth arguing with our taxi driver, telling him to make a U-turn, how we're tracking our progress on our map, etc., etc., we were the ones that were WRONG and he was right.  Burn.
Me & E