I'm back in synchronicity. From a mood in black and white dyed sepia to one in full saturated color filled with chirping birds, laughter, smiles and upbeat tempo. Finished design on new website "China Accents" and moved into the next video project. Creative inspiration gushing, thinking about art for the first time since arrival. Treated myself to foot massage (zu liao) at local hole-in-the-wall spa 'Qingqi Fitness' whose motto is "Strengthening the body resistance, Treating both manifestation and root." 98Y or $15 for a half hour treatment. Starts with soaking feet in bamboo tub with Chinese herbs. While soaking, I got a thorough neck, shoulder and upper back rub, hitting all the pressure points and stimulating meridians in head; next I got covered with a light blanket while he rubbed my feet and calves with lotion, wrapped one foot while he started to work on the other. Sipping light jasmine tea, it's a relaxing and sometimes shocking way to contemplate new video projects.
Strolling along the little outdoor mall, I spied a cute dress shop 'Deying.' I've heard of these places, like an outlet for a clothing line. Happy to find one so close to home and very cute clothes, darling little store with attentive salesgirls who will scurry around finding 'M' size for the big American. Surprise, things are not cheap here. Labor is but items are not. Still, I got two spring skirts and blouse for 1404Y or $216. Luckily I just had been to ATM and had cash.
I passed a couple flower shops, could see in the open doorway where they are making big wedding arrangements. Next a 'Lady Book Saloon' bookstore, coffee shop, frame shop, badminton supply. I parked my bicycle in the shade of a big street tree. Pedestrians cross the big highway on an overhead ramp. The other side has a long array of restaurants. Still treating myself for finishing the new website, I headed into a cafe I've been to before.
They bring over a big glass carafe with stopper of hot jasmine tea, I can see the leaves floating in the pale water. An aquarium to one side has fresh fish, crab, and eel. A girl scoops out a big fish with a large net and expertly flips it into a plastic bag, weighs it on the big commercial floor scale, and carries it to the table to show the customer before taking it to the kitchen. Fresh live fish in Beijing, 90 miles or 145km from the Yellow Sea where I have been assured no self respecting yellow croaker, hairtail or butterfish would possibly swim into the Japanese Sea area.
Easy to order from the menu with excellent color pictures. Tofu, MaPoToFu Szechuan (Sichuan new shorter name) style, prepared with black beans, black cloud ear fungus, red and green sweet pepper, chili pepper flakes, served with a little bowl of rice, including tea comes to 35Y or $5. I look up and see my waitress flirting with the cook/chef in white jacket and checkered trousers.
May 3 is Labor Day in China, celebrating the eight-hour work day, was celebrated in our neighborhood with a block party right under my apartment windows. Umbrellas, tables and stools sprouted like mushrooms. They played cards, ate sunflower seeds and drank, I'm not sure what, and basically enjoyed themselves til long after dark.
New blooming plants for this week include: Lonicera maackii Bush Honeysuckle, a pretty hairy, salmon orange colored primrose, which obviously comes up from seed, is just finishing. In drifts of purple and green sword foliage, a sweet dwarf iris is now moving into center stage. The Eurasian Smoke Tree, Cotinus coggygria, is blooming. In an English style flower border near the dorms, sweetly spicy fragrant Rosa rugosa is blooming with columbines and early red dwarf roses.
On my tour around campus today I found my favorite surreal sculpture by SKorean artist Shin Eun Sook.
The sun parasols are out, see, smell and taste the exotic and familiar fruits at the neighborhood farmers market.
Pedaling under arching green trees, I arrive home to the apartment in the hutong where the gate ladies are spoiling baby 'Amy,' the most popular girl's name in China this year.
Saturday Sunny, Co and I went to visit an Improv Club at the Beijing Film Studio downtown. Improv is a new popular way that the young people use to socialize and BTW gives them ways to learn self expression, something they desperately need. They are filled with emotions and have no outlets in their daily lives, stoicism being the predominant feeling allowed expression. Practicing funny skits in small groups, a different one every 15 minutes for two hours, they can practice acting out for fun. And fun it was.
Hui tou jian