I may have seen a small or young mountain lion across the street last night, calmly walking down the sidewalk to where the road turns right over the I-5. Straight ahead, a trail of a city sidewalk is obscured by dense conifers and barricaded by two ties of guard rail. Once down a steep dirt trail, it runs parallel to the freeway over-grown with wild chicory, fennel, sweet pea, ceanothus, elderberry.Read More
Alan Feng, my contact for Penjing in China, notified me they will be having an exhibiton 19th-23th November, 2014, at the International exhibition center, Dongguan, Guangdong, China. I have offered to help them organize a tour from the US. Stay tuned for more details!Read More
Last day of the old year is sunny and warm, not smoggy, riding to Beijing Nan Zhan Railway Station, going in another, new direction. My little leaf boat swirls in the current, drifting with the tug of tide! Faintly I detect the salt tang and morning mist in Qingdao.Read More
Early wake up call at 7am followed by fabulous western style breakfast: appetizer of cai green vegetables with sesame seeds, red shred and curly carrot garnish, glass of hot water, cup of delicious kaffei nai he tang, New Zealand butter, Austrian strawberry jam, square toast, buttermilk medallion size pancakes, omelet cooked in butter, and slightly sweetened yogurt. Piping hot. The shy waiter is named Pok. I'm so relieved. The let down brings tears. This trip is starting out pretty good. Everyone is pleasant and smiling at Chery. On the plane, at the security check at the diminutive airport, the guards couldn't hold back from returning my smile. My two tour guides and driver met me at the airport. The hotel is very nice. My room is huge with lots of closet space, two thick, red wool blankets with a floral design plus the duvet. Forced air heat on a thermostat. Pretty warm, 20C / 68F in the room.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
Artwalk last weekend was a huge success from the number of visitors estimated at over 400. I got to exhibit with two friends of mine: Joy Price-watercolor http://siskiyouartscouncil.org/joy-price/ , and Dorthea Schoenstien-oil.http://siskiyouartscouncil.org/dorothea-barlett-schoenstein/ You can see us in the city council chamber for the day.
Birds are on a feeding frenzy: hummers, their fat little bellies pressed against the feeder rail, sucking down the sugar water. Blue and scrub jays call out to Bruce, “peep-squawk” “feed-me-peanuts.” The scrub jay can carry two nuts at once if they are small. It thinks it’s being clever, burying them on the edge of the compost pile in deep duff. I’m watching the whole time from my cozy nook in the kitchen.
Finches arrive in a cloud of fluttering, peeping wings, harvesting every last seed from the gaunt, bent sunflowers.
Everyday Bruce and I pick a 5-gallon bucket of apples and process them for our freezer. That means Bruce runs the ingenious hand-crank, mechanical peeler and slicer. We pack the apple slices into freezer bags with a little sugar, ready to make strudel or pie all winter. We have flats of whole, perfect apples in the shed where they should keep a long time in the cold. Mind you, these aren't any old apple. These are artisanal apples that hail back to the day when Dunsmuir provided fresh apples to the burgeoning population in San Francisco during the gold rush of 1849. The fragrant, juicy fruit have a faint blue tinge to the red, prominent now it has frosted, making them a deep purplish-red compared to the sunny golden red of summer and a delicious, apple-flavor that reminds you of what apples tasted like when you were a kid.
The first big winter storm swept through, Mt Shasta Baise Shan is white down into the tree line. Sixteen inches of snow fell at Crater Lake, Oregon. http://www.nps.gov/crla/index.htm
In Dunsmuir today the sun is shining, its 50-degrees F (10 C), kids are walking home from school past my house.
Black-headed Oregon juncos have arrived. During the summer, they live high up in nearby mountains. The snow drives them down to Dunsmuir for the winter. They’re picking through the remnants of the dry, sunflower stalks.
Leaves on the oaks and maples are still mostly green with patches of gold. Here and there a red flame of dogwood or ash. The dead-looking, dry grass has sprouted fresh, green blades overnight.
In China the Golden Week and National holiday, Guoqing jie and Huangjin zhou, has passed. On October 1 Chinese celebrate the founding of their Peoples’ Republic of china in 1949, marking the first day of the week long vacation. Many Chinese travel to visit local and distant attractions during this most beautiful time of year. Forbes says Chinese consumers are shifting from luxuries to camping. Chinese media reports more than four million people visited the nationally monitored scenic spots, a rise of 23.7 percent from last year. Campsite tourism and scenic drives are a new trend for re-balancing their economy as the Chinese lurch towards a more sustainable growth factor.
Remember this summer, when I visited southern California? I got to see my family and a friend from Beijing, Feng, and her son, Alec, and her husband who was attending a conference in Anaheim. This woman befriended me at Tsinghua campus. She worked in the housing office and would help me with things because her English is very good and because she is good hearted. I was sorry to leave Feng and the many Chinese and ex-pat friends I made in the short ten months of my tenure. Writing this blog helps me massage that sore spot in my heart where Beijing sticks like a dart.
Feng tells me about her Golden Days outing with her family. She says, “The holiday is very relaxing and casual. I have a lot of fun chatting with friends, barbecuing outdoors, enjoying good scenery and delicious food. I love staying in the outskirts of town and didn't want to come back.”
These are Feng’s recipes for her family camping barbecue.
1. Lamb skewers Sheep hindquarters, the best little fat. Appropriate cut into small pieces (2 cm or 1-inch) marinated. Marinade: onion, white wine, salt, sugar, a little, put some dry chili marinade if you like spicy food. Add to the Marinade Drizzle a little oil. Generally marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Before grilling, sprinkle meat with some chili powder and cumin powder. Brush with any favorite sauce or dressing.
2. Grilled chicken wings Wings can be marinated with a ready-made barbecue sauce, pickling spices and mutton. Brush a small amount of honey on the outside skin will be crispier. You can use the Drizzle oil or not according to taste.
3. Grilled vegetables
Vegetables good to grill are mushrooms, beans, eggplant, garlic, leek, peppers, sweet potato slices, and potato chips. Brush a little cooking oil while they grill will cook them faster, but not easy to paste. Brush with any favorite sauce or dressing. Fast Flavors: butter + a little oil + a little sugar, spice powder, sprinkle on the vegetables some for the fragrance. Do not buy meat with flesh attached off-the-shelf. Some people like to buy chicken gristle + Chicken already skewered in the package for convenience.
Feng adds “The barbecue is very happy, but the photos are very few, people only enjoy the food!!! Ha-ha, it is very cold now, how fast this fall passes!”
Tao Te Ching Philosophical Interpretation By Feng GuangXing and Ms. Feng Jingwen
I received a book in the mail from my friend Feng. Holding the white and green bubble cushion China Postal envelope with red stamps, I was excited with anticipation at seeing her father and her sister’s book on Taoism had arrived.
Feng’s father was Dean of the Administrative Law Department at Northwestern College of Law and has published numerous academic books and journal papers. This book about Taoism is his first attempt to capture that elusive quality of the Tao. Also an author is Feng Jingwen, his daughter, who currently works as a faculty at the Law School of ShanXi University of Finance and Economics. Ms Feng is distinguished for having studied law, receiving a BS at the University of Shaanxi and a MS from the Law School at Shanxi University where she now works; she has published articles in the Social Science Journal.
I asked Feng, what is it about? Water: The best of humanity is like water, which benefits all things and does not contend against them, which runs in places others disdain, abiding within flow. 上善若水。水善利万物而不争，处众人之所恶，故几于道。
348 pages, this book can be purchased from Shaanxi people's Publishing House ‘issued section.’ Feng says, “In XI'AN my parents’ apartment has some books, if someone want to buy one. They only provide books, but can’t provide receipt. The publisher said because these kinds of books are professional, too bad sales, the author may sell books, but does not provide the invoice. He-he, Sounds a bit complicated.” If anyone wants to get a book from Feng, let me know and I will forward your request to her.
After the first strong rain, Oregon stream fairies can be glimpsed standing in ditches next to roads looking ephemeral.
See you later
November 12 Saturday we travel by subway to China Railroad Museum way on the other side of town inChaoyang district. From the Sanyuanqian Zhan we take a taxi out to a far industrial area. The museum is in an unused railway complex. Maybe a Chinese person reading this can tell us why the big complex is closed and abandoned. Did they build it too far from people? Did heavy industry move to another city? We don't know why this big area is no longer in use. It is great for housing and displaying at least 40 locomotives, passenger and other cars under one huge roof with translucent skylights. Japanese, French, UK, American and Soviet locomotives before 1950, after all Chinese made. In front is a little switcher looking like a little black Thomas engine, heisede Thomas the children call it. Thomas car toys are for sale in the gift shop with Chinese railway collectibles.
Art District 798 is on the way back and is a surprise favorite place for Bruce since it is all one huge 1950's factory area given over to artists. Impressive with a lot of western 20's and 30's technology preserved and incorporated into ultra modern glass and masonry structures built in 1990's for trendy architecture and design offices, art studios and galleries. Built by East Germans in 1950s for an electronics factory, it is one of a few Bauhaus examples still existant found around the world. Delicious ham and cheese sandwich with fries and spicy pasta with coffee al fresco in late afternoon sun. 140K $22.
Bruce found the mother lode coal loading gantry surrounded by a network of conveyor belts, gas works tank, little pipes with steam condensate clouds, exposed asbestos pipe lagging everywhere. Inside one gallery lit by candles, Tibetan monks were making a big sand painting mandala, scraping metal funnels to jiggle colored pigments out the narrow mouth grain by grain into intricate pattern.
Grabbed a taxi and got back to subway station and the long ride home.
Sunday we traveled by bullet train to Tianjin the 6th largest city in PRC (People's Republic China) in a beautiful setting on the Hai River near the Bohai Gulf with a beachy climate and clean air the day we visited. Located at the Northern most end of the Grand Canal built in the Sui Dynasty 589-618AD, it has always been an important city. It was also the location of an incident in 1856 when Chinese tried to defeat British and French opium smuggling. At the end of the Second Opium War in 1858 China was forced to open Tianjin to foreign trade (opium trade). And it presently is one of five cities home to the most active Chinese criminal gangs.
Western nations have had concessions and garrisons in Tianjin over the previous century and it was occupied by Japanese in 30's until 1945. One of the world's fastest supercomputers is located at the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin. In 1906 it had the first city-wide tramway system in China. The main railway station was built in 1892 and rebuilt from scratch in 1988. A bonsai friend of mine, Frank Bardella, lived here with his family before immigrating to San Francisco when he was eight years old in 1950.
I was excited to find large, in ground Lu Tian Pen Jing Fraxinus hupehensis Chu Shang et Su, Chinese Ash recently transplanted in the plaza in front of the Tianjin Railway Station.
Bruce is impressed by the size of the bullet train station in Beijing, called the South Railway Station and is about 16 stops down subway line #4 from Peking University. There is no parking problem, people get there by subway. The impressive stations are huge, cavernous, but beautiful and lit with natural light, many shops and cafes and seating for everyone waiting. Bullet trains are coming and going every 10-15 minutes. Our track was elevated on a raised concrete roadbed from Beijing to Tianjin so things can pass underneath.
There are perhaps three classes of seats, coach, business and first class with western style washrooms. There is a snack bar in the center of the train. Coach class has 5 seats across with an aisle in the center. Business class has 4 seats with a center aisle. The seats are built on locking devices which only take a few minutes to turn around, wash all the windows and go the other direction. It costs 55K $8.67 one way for coach to travel 69 miles or 112 kilometers. The train travels 178mph or 287km/h top speed, quietly and smoothly, only taking about 30 minutes. We pass farmland with smokestacks and groups of apartments to protect farms from being eaten up with housing like in the US.
Looking at California doing high speed, it will never be able to compete with what the Chinese have done. Our farmers are tying it up with lawsuits and the airplane mafia is unhappy, says Bruce.
The Beijing subways have a light board above each door showing the progress of the train. The tracks are sealed off from the people with big glass walls. Two sets of doors at the station platform line up perfectly so people can't fall off the platform onto the tracks. We've been working on high speed rail, spent billions of dollars paying 'experts' to study and going nowhere with it, adds Bruce.
November 14 Bruce's last day we started with French Toast at home. Bruce shopped and found German strawberry jam, organic eggs, fab bread. We had lunch at Pizza Hut International, a classy restaurant with full menu of international dishes with Chinese characteristics.
We had individual pizzas one shrimp and smoked salmon with mustard sauce and green pepper, the other popcorn shrimp with peppers and onions. French mushroom soup, cappuccino. We were stuffed! Afterwards we biked around Wudaokoulooking for smokestacks and found a gas station, visited my tailor and paid my bill. We ended the day with a full body therapeutic massage in a room for two 360K $57 1 hour.
Out the window the bright fall sky lights up leaves falling in big piles on the side of the hutong alley. Magpies swoop through bare poplar branches. Clouds of steam and smoke roil out of a tall smokestack in the near distance. I am planning a 3 week visit to California in December to visit my family. I just learned that Bruce has bladder cancer and will be going in for surgery on December 7.
Hui tou jian
I want to get pix of the colorful street life in the upscale neighborhood. The breakfast cafes and stands are doing brisk business in the early hours. Pancake or Beijing pizza atTu Jia Jiang Xiang Bing. Steamed buns -baozi - come with a variety of fillings -zheshi shenme xianr de baozi? My teacher WuDan Laoshi happens to walk into my picture frame. Her favorite filling isnai huang bao - steamed creamy custard bun.
On the subway I see some young men with these ENORMOUS packs get on in front of me. They pose for this picture. The subway car shakes, sorry about the focus.
Deng Wei writes: 'Thanks for your photo. We enjoyed our trip during the two days (weekend). We went to BAIHE (White River) Gorge to camp and cook barbeque. Fortunately, the day before yesterday was a sunny day. My face was shined and became very black.' Here's a link to a blog posted by a couple of Americans who camped with motorcycles here. Great pix. http://www.mychinamoto.com/forums/showthread.php?390-Beijing-Hebei-Two-days-along-Baihe-%28White-River%29
If you look carefully at the Penjing balcony image you will see a penjing on the right side. Wandering in and out of side streets back to the subway station I see some very exclusive dress shops and interesting people.
http://www.thatsmandarin.com/our-chinese-schools-in-china/beijing-chinese-school-dongzhimen/ The district where my language school is located is around the Dongzhimen subway station and near a lot of embassies. The rents vary from RMB900 ($142) a month for a micro miniature studio to RMB10,000 ($1,577) for a mistress apartment. RMB5,000 ($788) will get you 2 bedrooms and about 200sq m. Check out apartment rentals here http://www.beijingrealestates.com/VirtualEastGatePlaza.htm
The National Holiday - Shi Yi (10/1) - has come and gone since I last wrote, from October 1 to 9. Everyone is going out of town on holiday except Cher, it seems. I'm looking forward to some quiet time I can paint uninterrupted.
One day it's warm and sunny, the next cool and hazy. Casual summer dress and lifestyle is over, fall is blowing bits of yellow leaves onto the green mondo grass by my office. The ginkgos are the first to color. In the warm afternoons I pack up my little folding chair, zipper portfolio, bag of art stuff and pedal around, looking for a nice scene. Lots of trees in rows with road or sidewalk feature. Kind of impressionistic VanGogh-esque, French looking to my eye. I try to improve my Chinese brush technique, adding some color. When the poplars turn gold I'll try some plein air in oils since I shipped my easel, tubes and brushes this summer.
The holiday starts off with a trip to art district 798. This time I go with some young students from Beijing foreign Language University. Two boys and two girls. They all speak good English. The subway ride is long and we have to transfer once. We then take two taxis (Beijing regulations, only 3 people in back seat, they have cameras on the overpasses our taxi driver explains) to the district. Only cost 14K ($2.21). The subway is 1K or less if you have a subway card which I do.
We finally made it and stay all day, have lunch and dinner there, before the long trek home. It is fun, talking art and looking at some 'good,' some not so 'good,' some really 'good' art and then of course the people watching. I like one exhibit so much I bought the book and have been wondering if it's possible to meet the artist. Some little oil sketches from LA area beaches, palm trees, make me a little nostalgic for the old LA art scene.
The next day I am up early. James the cab driver picks me up at 7am. We drive about a half a block to a tiny canteen where he has a quick breakfast. We next drive across campus to pick up Li Zhang - young research assistant - who is my interpreter and photographer at the Beijing Botanical Garden - Da Guan Yin.
Liu Dongyan picks us up at the entrance in a garden minivan. The director Mr Zhao welcomes us at the Penjing nursery. He wears dark blue pen-stripe trousers, blue chambray dress shirt and navy windbreaker. He serves us Kwan Yin tea in tiny glass cups and pours tea over the tea pet, a frog with a coin in its mouth. The interview and tour lasts all morning. The winters are so long in Beijing that they must put ALL the Penjing in green houses for seven months. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beijing_Botanical_Garden http://www.beijingbg.com/English/v.asp
Li and I had lunch at the garden over-looking the ancient palace lake. Li is an expert at Chinese cuisine. She orders for us mushroom shrimp soup which comes in a hammered brass tureen over a flame, little yeast raised buns with chopped green onion,qieza (eggplant), maopo dofu, and rice.
Tieguanyin tea is an oolong premium tea, produced in Anxi in Fujian province since the 19th century. But it's history is longer than that. Discovered in the 18th century and given to the The Qianlong Emperor as a gift, it is a very delicious tea with a distict and flowery flavor and aroma. Needless to add, it sells for a premium as well. There are numerous steps to its production:
- plucking tea leaves.(cai qing)
- sun withering. (shai qing)
- cooling. (liang qing)
- tossing. (yao qing)
- withering, this includes some oxidation. (wei diao)
- fixation. (sha qing)
- rolling. (rou nian)
- drying. (hong gan)
- After drying some teas go through the added processes of roasting and scenting.
Tieguanyin is one of the names of the adored Chinese Boddhisattva who has been influencing Buddhism in south Asia nations for centuries. The name of the Chinese tea is translated in English as "Iron Guanyin", and sometimes as "Iron Goddess of Mercy."
My deadline for the Golden State Bonsai Federation magazine Golden Statements is on Wednesday, so I only have two days to finish my article. This is my second Penjing article. The first is of the Shanghai Botanical Garden Penjing collection in March. At last I send off the article with several of Li's hi dpi images and am able to think about painting.
They continue to tear up streets around my neighborhood. One day you will leave the house one way only to return to find barricades up and a giant ditch where you used to go! I discover little paths and alleys through the hutong I never would have. When will we get back to normal???
Hou tou jian
This week's blog is in two parts. Part I features the Forbidden City with many pix of Palace Museum treasures and a few palace ladies.For my Chinese friends, Mandarin will be in bold.
At noon on Friday, I met Li and Emily at the west gate. Shang zhou wu zhongwu, wo yu jianle Li he Emily zai ximen. Where we parked our bicycles is close to the subway station. Women tingfang zixingche. Ta li ditiezhan hen jin.
We take #4 line to Fuxingmen Station. Women zuo #4 haoxian qu Fuxingmen zhan. And then transfer to #1 line. Ranhou women huan #1 haoxian. After two stops, we arrive at Tian'anmen East. Liangge zhan yihou, women daole Tian'anmen Dong zhan.
The Forbidden City, Zijin Cheng, (built 1406-1420) is rectangualr in shape and oriented on a north/south axis, surrounded by high walls and a most, the FC is the world's largest palace complex. Factoids: 960m (3150-feet) NtoS, 750m (2460-feet) EtoW, 720,000-square meters (2,362,204-square feet or 447-square miles); the moat is 6m (20-feet) deep, 52m (170-feet) wide; the outer wall is 10m (33-feet) high and 3400m (11,150-feet or 7-miles) long. Inside there are 5 halls, 17 palaces, 9,999 rooms, nine being a lucky number for the emperor.
I'm telling you all this to help you appreciate that we walked approximately 5610m or 3.5 miles within the FC complex, add on to that another .5 to .75 to and from the subway on both ends. So totally we walked at least 4 miles that day! Women wanquan zouliao 4 yingli di na yitian!
The southern section contains the 'outer court' QianChao with five ceremonial halls. The northern section contains the 'inner court' HouQin where the emperor lived and worked with his concubines, eunuchs and servants. The buildings have beautiful glazed tile roofs. The roof ridges are now protected by lightning rods. At the roof corners, small figures protect the building: immortal riding a phoenix followed by a dragon, phoenix, lion, horse, sea horse, a number of mythical creatures and a LiWen at the top end.
First, we visited the Porcelain collection in the Imperial Garden, YuHuaYuan, and then we wanted to see the big jade. Women xian canguanle huangjia yuanlin. Ta shi porcelaine shouji. Ranhou women yao kan dao de dayu.
The Song Dynasty was a period of unrivaled development of arts. Many rare and precious specimens of all dynasties are displayed and protected at the national Palace Museum as China's cultural heritage and proof of legitimacy for rulers of all ages, proof of ownership of the symbols of China are equivalent to proof of embodiment of China.
An example of the rareness of some of the great Chinese antiquities to be found here is the 'Ruware' from Henan province. The location of the site of the kilns is near modern Baofeng Qingliangsi and was recently identified in 1986. Luxury crafts patronized by the nearby court at Kaifeng stimulated the emergence of several technologically innovative kiln manufacturers. Ruware is most highly prized in later times because of the relatively short period of production. Only operational over a 40-year period, the kiln ceased production with the 'disaster of 1126.' Fewer than 100 complete pieces are know to exist today.
'Yu the Great Taming the Waters' 1787ce Qing Dynasty, is the largest carved jade in existence. The original boulder was 2.24m (7-feet) high and 5330kg (11,726-pounds or 5.6 tons) and was discovered in the western area near Khotan.
Khotan was an ancient Buddhist city on the Silk Road near the Taklamakan Desert. Built on an oasis, its mulberry trees produced silk for export as well as nephrite jade. Legend is that a Chinese princess brought silkworm eggs in her elaborate hairdo when she was sent to marry a Khotanese king. Khotan was the first place outside China to cultivate silk.
It took 3 years to transport the big jade to Beijing on a wagon drawn by 100 horses and requiring 1,000 laborors for road and bridge construction. The jade boulder and two full-size wax and wooden models, approved by the Emperor in 1781, were sent by boat south to Yangzhou where specialized jade craftsmen took almost 8 years to complete, 150,000 working days, and returned to the palace in Beijing in 1787.
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
The weather has made a decided shift to humid after a long dry and sometimes windy winter. Different from where I come from with most of the precipitation in winter in the form of rain and snow followed by a long, dry and hot summer. I love the dramatic thunderstorms with lightning, thunder and pouring rain, sometimes blowing in through the open windows. I was out the other night. While finishing dinner we could hear thunder. This had not been predicted on the Beijing weather-by-the-hour. I'm learning that the weather can change suddenly here. I ended up riding my bicycle the several blocks home in the rain.
I haven't gotten the hang of riding my bike with an umbrella in one hand. Will have to learn that one if I don't want to get soaked again. It's the Mary Poppins style, floating over the hutong rooftops. I will say this, my hair loves the rain water rinse!
At the coffee shop (kafei ting) on break this afternoon I saw a woman walk up, and she didn't look Chinese. I gave her a big smile as she passed and went into the shop. A few minutes later she came out to the patio and greeted me. Turns out she's Italian from Milan, Guiseppina (Pina) Merchionne. We sat and sipped coffee, finally we exchanged info by calling each others cell phones (shuoji) and got into our phone books.
Friday night Pina and a darling student of hers, Elena who teaches fashion in the Art Institute here, brought fresh tomatoes, garlic, Spanish olive oil and Italian pasta. We drank Chines beer while Pina and Elena took over my tiny kitchenette. Pina is working up a proposal to start Italian conservation classes at Tsinghua. She tells me no University or college in all of China teaches art conservation or preservation. Shes working on a glossary of conservation terms from Italian to English to Chinese. I am very happy to have met, finally, someone my age. Sadly, she returns to Milan at the end of the month.
At the darkest hour of the early morning, the first birds awake and begin their bird voices chirping. Otherwise quiet hours before the red sun is seen and the pearl gray sky shows above the rotating speck of earth that is Beijing, and where I lie sleeping. Dreaming furious and complicated scenes, peopled with strange and familiar faces. Endlessly changing rooms and settings, threatening or just plain weird conversations and situations. Even while dreaming, observing myself from a close distance and at the same time living the dream's actions. That's how it was when I dreamed I gave birth to a lump of flesh that was at the same time myself. Preparing for and undertaking a journey, the dream goes on...
Enjoy some images from the campus art show. Cynical realism, contemporary Chinese art movement, is seen in many of the pieces in the Tsinghua University Art Department graduating seniors' projects exhibit this June 2011. The movement began in Beijing, and it is fitting that some Tsinghua students would pursue their individual expression in this style. This one shows ragged and rustic street men beautifully and brightly painted.
Hammered metal 'Sunflowers' places patterns inside metal organic petal ellipses with downward growing, upside down roots mingling in this original composition with skulls and snails and clouds, rain and sun.
Surrealism influences of Max Ernst abound in a gigantic triptych altar of atmosphere. The central panel is a Titianesque cloudscape in lurid neo-classic color tones, flanked by double panels in black with splatter nebulae.
A world in a conch shell advances hyper surrealism beyond Dali to make this personal statement.
Getting old is heck, I say. I've been bothered by some minor issues with my feet and finally realized I should try some traditional Chinese treatment. I wrote up a little description of my problem with personal details a doctor would ask about, went to Google translator and got it printed out in Chinese. Saturday afternoon around 3pm I biked over to Qingqi Fitness-- "Strengthening the body resistance, Treating both manifestation and root." "All the masseurs have the certification of senior masseur accredited by the nation."
A nice older woman with a beautiful and interesting face gave me an examination. I saw her in photographs on the wall with various other people at a big dinner or conference. She checked my pulse as I rested my wrist on a little pillow and looked at my tongue. Standing, she checked pressure points along my spine and down the front.She had a friend interpret a bit, asked some more questions and moved me into the foot massage room.
A half hour soaking in warm herbs, kneading of shoulders, toes, ankles, calves was followed by an extraordinary two hour experience in a private massage room by a different masseur. First he checked me standing, poking in various ingenious places. Although he couldn't speak English and I "Wo bu hui shuo hanyu," I understood he wanted to know if it was tender or sore where he was poking. He was very interested, looking in my ears, grunting with surprise "huh?"
Next came a thorough manipulation and meridian/pressure point routine. He zeroed right in to my problem areas-- uneven shoulders and corresponding opposite hip, contrapposto as it were. I was breathing hard and squeaking when he got into a particularly sensitive point. That made him chuckle? He would rub his hands together for only a second and they would get hot. He would place them on me and bring heat to an area. Similarly, his finger tips felt like burning embers.
Gradually I got the idea that he was moving the electrical current around my system by manual manipulation, moving it through blockages deep in my right hip and left shoulder blade. I have to be honest, there were a couple moments I might have blacked out. I won't kid you, IT WAS PAINFUL! They want me to come back on Sunday for further torture. If my body straightens out and my feet recover, it will be more than worth it. I will keep you posted. $250Y for 2 1/2 hours ($43) for Chinese therapeutic massage.
As I'm sitting here working up the breakfast letter, imagine me listening to the Beach Boys on Jazz FM 88.5 KSBR Internet Radio from Saddleback College in San Diego, California. Anyone out there who knew me when I had my sweet (Little Douce Coupe) (taikule!) Supra 1988?
Hui tou jian