Qing Dynasty drama performed at Tsinghua University.Read More
I look up to see a tall and handsome conductor sternly saying something to me and implacably shooing me and all the passengers in the car out onto the platform and up the stairs to the exits. I emerge into the dark somewhere I don't know where I am. I beat past the illegal cab drivers looking for a legitimate one.Read More
At the moment my plane is landing at Beijing Capitol Airport PEK in the late afternoon, the smoggy haze begins lifting. Feng and her husband SUN Libin find me in the Korean restaurant in the recreation building opposite my wing, the only place open at this late hour of 8pm for me to eat. We exchange gifts. They have brought me a ceramic bottle of Korean miijiu, 51% alcohol. Whoa baby! Back in my room we open it and have a little welcome home party. It feels great to be back in the big city and seeing my friends again.Read More
After flying from Monday to Wednesday, RDD to SFO to SEA to DET to SHA to HAK, and actually arriving at Xian Lu Fu Hotel at 1:24am Thursday morning. Basically without sleeping. One day was passing the international date line.Read More
Frost over the weekend drops all the leaves. Like golden doubloons, spinning in cerulean blue space, breaking with a soft snap, showering and whispering. Driving behind Lake Siskiyou, up into the mountains,Read More
The scrub jay, Leonard, visited every day, squawking for peanuts which he can take from our fingers mid-air. He was also good at catching insects and was gone many hours every day, probably down at the river catching those huge bugs they have down there that the fish like.
Today I puttered around with the bonsai/penjing trees, weeding and trimming. The long and limber pear and apple tree branches are bowed down to the ground, heavy with fruit this year. And I have lots of tomatoes, fangie or xihongshi. This is my best garden in years.
In the morning, before the hot sun blasts over the ridge behind Apple Street, Bruce and I keep up with small improvements and maintenance on the house.
Bruce and I drove the less popular, back way to Eugene to visit my son and granddaughter for her fourth birthday. We took the highway 97 turnoff at Weed and turned east on highway 161 which paralleled the border through Grass Lake to the town of Tulelake where we crossed the California border near Merrill, Oregon. We picked up highway 97 again at the city of Klamath Lake where we skirted the east side of Upper Klamath Lake. At Chiloquin, an Amtrak depot, we investigated the area around the railroad tracks. The highway passed near Crater Lake, but we pressed toward Eugene and promised to come back next summer to explore the beautiful and remote region.
The party, at a park in Eugene, swelled to include children and adults. I was thrilled to see my ex-husband Richard and Bruce visiting over the cupcake table.
I spent the day savoring the last of summer at Whiskeytown Lake with Helen and Barbara. Canadian geese strutted across the sand while sailboats tacked and turned in our sheltered bay.
On Labor Day, 9/2, I made grape juice for jelly from Marty’s Concord grapes, small but flavorful and grown in north Dunsmuir. On 9/11 we remembered the tragic anniversary.
Every day we must pick fruit and prepare them in for winter. I canned pints of pear halves. I picked fat, windblown apples, red and streaked and spotted yellow with a blue blush, while Leonard the gray jay sang a warbling tune from a low branch. The blue morning glories climbed up the porch and are taller than the tallest sunflowers, past blooming, and making seeds.
My darling son, James, took his first business trip to China, traveling with his boss and an interpreter. Here he was in Shanghai. They provided architecture services in design for clients there.
Happy Mid Autumn Day, Zhongqiu jie, September 19, 2013.
Suddenly the rain arrived in cold chi clouds. I ran between raindrops to fetch ripe apples, downed by last night’s thundershower. I have seen less and less of Leonard the gray jay. This morning black headed juncos from the mountain lakes arrived to pick through the debris of my garden.
Wo hui dao Zhongguo
Every day I study Mandarin. Wo meitian du dou xuexi putonghua. I have mp3 files for lessons I took in Beijing from my teacher, laoshi, Wu Dan. I’m preparing to take a two-month trip that starts in late November in Hainan, the Hawaii of China. I’m attending the 10th CAFIC International Conference on the theme “Intercultural Communication for a Harmonious World: Challenges and Opportunities." I’ll be presenting a paper, co-authored by my boss at Tsinghua, Chen Hong, Director of the Overseas Promotion Department, titled “Building a Better English Website for Chinese Universities” based on research I conducted while working there in 2011.
From there I will travel to Ghanzhou to see the Qingwan Penjing Garden and conduct an interview with the proprietors for European bonsai magazine Bonsai Focus, and California magazine Golden Statements. The next stop is Xi’an and finally on to Beijing where Bruce will be meeting me for a few weeks of Chinese New Year, Spring Festival. The Beijing Breakfast Letter will be revived with more adventures and images.
See you later
One apple caught in the crossing branches,faded red, rotten, hiding in the new snow.
As if marking a milestone, my old gmail account crashed in December. Google denied me access. When I finally got into it, it was empty, everything gone, emails, addresses, all my old Beijing Breakfast Letters. Fortunately I have my old hardcopy diary. I was able to import all my addresses from another location. Finally I am writing to you again.
After spending several wonderful weeks with my family in california, I returned to Beijing on New Year's Eve, Dec 31. I wake to misty mornings, wisps of steam condensate drift between the apartment buildings, feeling sad and confused.
On Jan 2 I had a meeting with my boss Chen. While Bruce prepares for his STanford U Medical Center appointment, Cheryl returns to Beijing. After taking care of business at Tsinghua, I packed up my apartment, visited friends, had my last Chinese hair and massage treatments. I shipped 5 parcels for $4,000. I mounted art on scrolls. I gave away everything I could. We drank saki at my farewell luncheon with Feng and the Department.
On Jan 16 we drive to Stanford, staying at my aunt vera and uncle jay. Sunrise at their house in San Leandro hills in the east bay, near san francisco and stanford. After a good meeting we head home ahead of a storm. Next day it snows 12 inches.
Boxes from China are arriving everyday. The Overseas office is closed for four weeks during Spring Festival. It's been snowing for days. It started the day we got back from the bay area. 12 inches the first day.
Quiet in the afternoon. Snowing outside the nook which is my winter painting studio. Spread out dishes and brushes and paper and enjoy painting persimmons on a branch in black and colored paint. Outside the window I see the snow bending the two kinds of bamboo and burying the tops. Walking in the quiet streets, warm boots and snow sticking to the wool scarf around my neck.
On nice days I walk up the hill behind the house. I took my old dell computer to the shop to get its broken lid removed. The idea is to use the keyboard on the CPU and the external monitor I brought back from China in my suitcase. Later I walk around Castella with Helen. She shows me her juniper bonsai.
At home I scrape snow off the concrete blocks I use for stands for clear plexi lids, reinforced this summer by Bruce using old redwood from the McCloud mill site. The lids cover my bonsai collection for the winter. We now have about 30 inches snow accumulation!
See you later
It's getting colder, down to the 40's at night, sunny and nice during the day, if its not windy, high 65-degrees. I'm getting used to it.
Several times last week they were filming a movie at Tsinghua with the actor Wang Li Hong. (Leehom Wang) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leehom_Wang He is an American born Chinese singer-song writer, record producer actor and film director. He received classical training at Eastman School of Music, Williams College and Berkelee College of Music. He fuses Chinese opera and fold styles with R&B and is a four time winner of the Golden Melody Awards, the Taiwan 'Grammys.'
They had all the gear there, booms, giant reflectors, vans and truck and lots of security. Its a beautiful campus with buildings of all eras, I'm surprised they don't film here more often.
Feng and her 9 year old son Alex came over Sunday nite to hua hua with me. We painted lotus and rocks and water falls, practiced lines, cross hatches circles and little guppy fish.
I've been rising at 5am, sitting in my favorite chair in the living room looking east I watch the sunrise while drinking hong cha and writing. Zaoshang wo yibian hecha yibian xieshu.
Early morning rising before dawn only a faint hint of light in the sky to the east between the business park buildings. Facing the morning, I watch the color stealing through the black tree foliage in the hutong, pink to salmon to dark orange when the reveals in brilliant red gold.
One morning a big magpie in his black and white tuxedo plumage flew onto the window ledge and looked into my apartment while calling out 'caw caw.'
Tired golden brown leaves drop one by one off smooth white barked branches of magnolia denudata, leaving fuzzy buds of next year's flowers on the tips. Some leaves are still green, showing burnt brown edges where the sap is slowly draining away. Birds ate all the coral red berry fruit that hung in bunches along the branches all summer.
Not much blooming now. I was surprised to see these roses near my office. Although the tag said Rosa chinensis jacq. when I looked it up online it doesn't resemble the pink rose I found there.
Friday Dr's Monica and Sharon and I met for lunch. The first time in a long time it seemed. We had a lot to catch up on. Monica works in a key national laboratory. On the door of the building it says: Tsinghua National Laboratory for Information Science and Technology. She is a research scientist studying DNA.
For fun I took a picture on the door to my office: Office of Overseas Promotion.
It's getting colder, foggy/smoggy, heavy mist almost like rain. The melodious sound of a Chinese flute floated over the brown spent lotus foliage of the lotus pond shui mu qing hua. Workers are chipping bricks from a demolition project adjacent to the road and sewer work in our neighborhood.
Saturday Li and Eunice came to my apartment for another painting party. They are pictured next to their first huahua.
One thing I like to draw and paint are the grotesque rocks used to decorate the landscape here at Tsinghua, and other places. Many of the finest come from Tai Lake in Jiangsu Province. There are many accounts of emperors ordering fantastic rocks be delivered to the capitol. Men lost life and risked much to bring them in the old days. If you were the captain in of a rock delivery that fell into a schism you would run for the hills and become a bandit before returning in disgrace to the capitol.
This particular rock is in a small park between my office and the little coffee cafe I like. It has a marker rock that says: "TAIHU SHI"(太湖石).
Hui tou jian
It's final, I will be visiting Dunsmuir this summer, July 27 to August 16! The end of the term is fast approaching. Suddenly I am very busy proofing articles for the next campus newsletter. It comes out 3x and is a 4-color glossy journal produced in English by our department. Other projects suddenly are phasing into the final stages, and all are needing proofing by the foreign expert in English. Every two weeks I search various international news outlets like Businessweek and Reuters for mention of Tsinghua. I found a nice bit about all the US patents granted this year. I think IBM had the most, over 500, and among universities Berkeley was #1 with just under 200. Tsinghua was right up there in the top 10 universities. So we made an article out of that for the newsletter/journal.
At the anmo clinic, I met a delightful and beautiful young woman busying herself with the tea set and who poured me these tiny little fluted porcelain thimbles of tea. Jasmine is the most popular kind in Beijing, hua cha. She had an art book in her lap and that led to exchanging cards and attempts to talk, her in Mandarin, me with a few pitiful phrases alternating with English. But the main ideas were clearly communicated. I wanted to see her studio, and we both wanted to check each others websites to see what kind of art the other did. http://www.qiuyunart.com/ She is pretty accomplished in Chinese brush painting, hua zhongguo hua.
She, QIU Yun, and her husband PEI Yunzhang, picked me up in her Honda. They took me to her studio in a nice apartment building which they bought and finished the interior themselves. It's huge with several rooms and a couple little East facing balconies. She also paints in oils with a spiritual Buddhist theme. They, Yun and Yun, are Tibetan Buddhists which also means they are vegetarian and don't drink.
We later went out to eat at a tony 'Natural Vegetarian' restaurant. For you foodies: we had cone-shaped nori wraps with lettuce, slivered pear and some other things, a vegetable stew with yellow squash and something purple cubed, little tofurkey sausages with Chinese katsup and powdered cumin dipping sauce, big communal plate of lightly seasoned escarole piled up high with cubed pickled something red and orange on the side, veggie pot stickers presented under a puffy paper thin rice batter crepe, and braised tofu slices.
The next day, on Sunday, xingqi tian, we went shopping for Cheryl's art supplies. We went downtown near the big Art Academy which is surrounded by little art shops where I got brushes and tubes of water base tube colors. wo maile huabi he yanliao.
BTW Yunzhang works at Google, yes there is a Google office still in Beijing at the Tsinghua (TUS Park) Science Park. He is 38-years-old, slightly older than my son. They have a 9-year-old son and live two buildings away from me with his mother and grandmother who is 90.
I went downstairs to do a little photography and happened to catch some big equipment squeeze through the gate, a big front loader and two big dump trucks. So I guess they don't use manpower for everything. The migrant men were off for the day, xiaban, eating their ramen noodles and drinking beer next to the little minimart. They are friendly, not shy about the camera. Clean clothes. Decent, hard working guys with families back home, far away.
Listening to some sets of Steely Dan made me think about the 80s in LA and my old friends and life at Cooke's Crating, living in a warehouse in downtown LA with other young artists. Steely Dan captured the whole LA scene, cocaine, yearning for fame, living life with art and music and disillusionment. Where is Rick Cox now? The talented studio musician and the coke whores Genisse and Sarah? I saw Chas on a demo video online doing the same ambient music awhile back. He still lives in the same house we lived in Sherman Oaks. Lisa with the green hair and Heather, Jame's favorite babysitter? I got my first computer job back then, working for Walter Bilofsky in the Union Bank building on Ventura Boulevard.
Today Yun and Yunzhang came over with their son James to give me a little Chinese painting hua zhongguo hua lesson and have dinner. Afterward we all got into Yun's car and drove to the TusPark complex where Yunzhang works. At the lower level are some little shops where Yun introduced me to a young woman who is a tailor. She is making up some things for me.
My internet connection was down for 24 hours again this weekend. Zhoumo wode diannao bukeyi shangwang le.
Monday was my last anmo treatment. My shoulder is pretty nearly straight, and my foot is back to normal. I got acupuncture needle treatment in my hand and foot. More excruciating massage of abdomen and legs, but the painful pressure points in my arms and shoulders have diminished, so I guess the treatment is working.
I went downtown for the last time to pick up the residence permit in my passport. This will be good until the end of my work contract at Tsinghua, in March 2012.
Hui tou jian
I finally got the Beijing hay fever from all the wind, dust, pollen blowing around. Discovered the yaodian, pharmacy, next door to the little market and bought some asipilin, aspirin. I examined the package carefully, and it looks like genuine Bayer but big effervescent tablets with some vitamin C, a great way to take aspirin! Box for 22 Y or $3.38, not cheap. The store smelled like Chinese herbs, ginseng, clean and brightly lit with pairs of pleasant sales girls behind every counter. They fill out a slip which you take to the cashier and bring it back stamped ‘paid’ to pick up your purchase.Read More
This morning I awake to fresh snow, delicate as powdered sugar, lining the branches and covering the brown dirt of yesterday’s winter landscape. Hurriedly I dress and go out with my camera to capture the magical morning, my first day staying on campus at the Jiasuo Guest House in the old part of the campus. The school president’s office is catty corner to Jiasuo and is housed in a Qing Dynasty era compound, once the residence of a prince. The architecture is exactly the same as the Summer Palace building adjacent to the large Tsinghua campus.Read More