The month flew by. Spring green has ripened to the greens of summer: the oak leaves thickening, the ornamental conifers push bushy tufts of soft, balsam scented needles. The red, pink, yellow and creamy white roses, tea scented or musky or spicy.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
Long term Unemployment-- What about it? I know a little about being unemployed. In the 80s I was out of work for eight months when Microsoft dropped PC DOS on the market and everyone in the computing industry either adapted or dropped out of business. Couple that event with an untimely exit from my employer, something which unqualified me for unemployment benefits. So-- I scrambled.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
After a wild ride from the airport with a cowboy cabdriver at-- flying through tolls on a toll pass and weaving past laden trucks and pokey cars at about 120 kph or 74mph-- we stop unexpectedly in the middle of the expressway for a red light manned by police. Cost 159Y or $25.99.Read More
The Hotel 7 Days is an economic choice for students and businessmen in the heart of downtown Guangzhou. The taxi drops me off at the entrance of a large, guarded courtyard. Two handsome Libyan men help me with my three bags. They are local residents, possibly students at the Campus France Alliance Francois de Canton adjacent to the Hotel car entrance.Read More
While enjoying dim sum breakfast today, we're overlooking the world's largest flower and bonsai market. Alan Feng is washing the tips of our chopsticks in a little hot water before eating. He explains this is a local custom.Read More
From the airport in Guangzhou, the taxi takes me to a large hotel in Foshan City where I am met by Alan Feng and his Master CHEN Zhi Jiu. After getting to know each other over supper at the hotel, they drive me to another one in the downtown district. It must have been grand in its day, a little shabby now but royally gorgeous. I can imagine great leaders staying here in the day. The lobby is loaded with gigantic stone penjing and carved wood pieces in glass cases. In the elevator area on my floor a huge glass etagere displays countless small ceramic treasures without as much as a cover. My room features a huge bed and baroque trappings, the bath is all sculpted ceramic tile and stone with fancy appointments to hold water glass and such. Marvelous glass encased shower with lots of hot water.Read More
We checked out of our hotel in Haikou after an early breakfast of fried bread, kaffei hui nai he tang and hurry up hugs good-bye. I board a bus with new friends and depart for the Volcano Park. We climb steps cut from polished blocks of lava through tropical paradise dotted with large penjing and grotesque rocks, croton, bougainvillea, mango manguo, cactus xian ren qiu, aloe, coconut yezi, papaya and red hibiscus. We circulate the small, extinct crater dripping with exotic foliage and fluttering butterflies.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
We visited Medford, Oregon, where Bruce gave a presentation as part of the Ashland Historic Railroad Museum’s monthly lecture series. The Medford Mail Tribune said, “Author Bruce Petty will present a slide show of historical photos of Southern Pacific’s Shasta Division at 6:30pm Friday, March 8, at the Ashland library.” Bruce’s co-author Larry Mullaly and his wife Alice live outside of town surrounded by farm land: cow pastures, alfalfa fields, and one wild elk. She has violets, daffodils, forsythia and apricot blooming.
Delicious camarones y pescadero tacos with horchata on the way out of town at Restaurant El Kora. I passed the time in the car doing easy Sudoku and working on my latest manuscript draft, an invertor in the cigarette lighter of the Explorer allowed me to use Pépe the netbook with powercord. Beautiful sunny day, warming up to 59 F or 15 C.
Professor Don Eads shared this image with us, an Obama family portrait. Left to right: Craig Robinson, Leslie Robinson, Avery Robinson, Marian Robinson, Akinyi Manners, Auma Obama, Maya Soetoro-Ng, Konrad Ng, Savita Ng, and Suhaila Ng.
I tested and turned on four irrigation valves today. Then I set out the downstairs bonsai. I’ve been hand watering every day for the past few weeks. Peas are well up and flowering. The Tuscan kale is finally going to flower here and there: blue crinkled leaves and bent coat hanger flower stems surmounted by a sparse spike of four-petaled yellow flowers. Purple and white lilacs are blooming on the hill. Apple blossoms scatter in the breeze drying towels on the umbrella-style solar clothes dryer.
Dustin Song Tao Zhu shares news from Beijing: Dear Petty,
How is everything going?
Now is spring, and we are enjoying the clean weather.
Last Sunday is our student festival, and was playing in one modern drama.
Here come the photos!
After replacing my netbook Pépe with Pépe II and all that entails with wifi accessories, printer, security downloads and reinstallation of Word … and all the rest: I finished and sent reports to the Overseas Office, finished reading my ms out loud to dear friends willing to give me the time, made improvements and sent to editor: 26,000 new words. Now I’m relaxing in the backyard, playing Sudoku, eating a sandwich and finishing my coffee from the Cornerstone Bakery.
A mature gray squirrel snuck into the yard and nibbled peanuts I had set out for the jaybirds.
Eunice Woo from Beijing shares with us: I went to the Garden Expo yesterday, know you love these stuff. This picture is the typical kind of gardens in Southern China (Jiangnan District). Here's the Expo's website: http://en.expo2013.net/cj/list.php?tid=111#5. This one from Daguanyuan, a garden, too, the TV show "The Dream of Red Mason" filmed there.
I visited this site and found it to have an excellent English version and many pages of interesting horticultural exhibits of Chinese style.
Beautiful veggie garden this year with tomatoes, medicinal and culinary herbs, sunflowers, marigolds, snapdragons. I planted pole lima beans with morning glory. Planted basil and more morning glory on the old pea netting. Big full moon this weekend and rain forecast.
Just groovin’ on the porch. The sun went down behind Mt. Bradley an hour ago. The sky is still light and the air is fresh and pleasantly warm at 79 F or 26 C. Listening to Grover Washington “Just the two of us.”
Finished my manuscript Beijing Abduction. YAY! Now, I’m looking for an agent who will represent me to a publisher. Every day I send a Query Letter and samples of my writing. We call this a numbers game. The more query letters I send the greater are chances I will find the right agent.
Not so busy now. I go to the lake with my husband to the lake or Farmers’ Market. Thursday after 3:30pm, the Dunsmuir Growers’ Market takes over the corner next to the Dunsmuir Brewery, making it convenient for locals to shop and stop for something cold to drink. The director of SAM (Siskiyou Arts Museum) Lauri Sturdivant sits across the table from local activist Joanne Steele at an impromptu party for Linda Price’s sister Tammy and Helen Cartwright’s daughter Nicole. Who needs a reason? Entertainment a string ensemble traveling from North Carolina.
Last scene at the Brewery Thursday night: Brett LaMott proprietor and chef at Café Maddalena quaffing summer ale with Bruce Petty, after shopping for new okra from Redding growers. Ted and Bonny Lou, fans of Wendy Crist, one of the organizers of the wildly successful Dunsmuir Growers’ Market. Wendy and hubbie Michael grow micro herbs at their sunny location behind the Von Hein’s place for local eateries like Café M and the Dogwood Diner. Not only fresh veggies and fruits are available but also local food items, BBQ and homemade tamales. Boomer, live, soft rock entertainment.
See you later
San Francisco Bay Area
Bruce and I drove to Palo Alto, CA for his annual checkup at Stanford. His doctor, Harcharan S Gill, MD from the Urologic Oncology Program, commented: “Excellent!” Dr. Gill credits Bruce’s great attitude for much of his outstanding recovery. Bruce had a chest X-ray and blood test at Stanford before leaving. We still have to get a CT scan up in Mt Shasta to complete the tests. Bruce will have to continue with these annual checkups for ten years. One down, nine to go. J
The Penrod northern California family has suffered the loss of beloved Vera, wife of Jay and mother of JP (Jay Pierre), Brian and Trudy. The beautiful memorial service was arranged by Trudy at the Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Castro Valley, Vera’s neighborhood parish. At the beautiful and inspiring service in the vast sanctuary with stained glass windows glowing like jewels, it was interesting to see the many friends and family from Vera and Jay’s sides of the family.
Afterwards, we gathered at the Willow Park Golf Course event center, also in Castro Valley. Flocks of ducks were busy ducking and swimming in the pond near the putting green when Bruce, Parker (my young cousin and son of Michele), and I drove up. Again, Trudy arranged the dining room settings and buffet of fruit salad, cheeses and basket of breads, escarole salad, rotini and grilled chicken. I got to meet Vera’s exercise group; she led the class only two weeks before her passing. A young cousin made a slide show of many images of Vera from a young woman in bathing suit to bride to grandma, set to music like Frank Sinatra singing “My Heart Belongs in San Francisco.”
Tuesday night Feb 12, I drove to Palo Alto from Livermore where Bruce and I were staying with cousin Michele Hively and son Parker. At Renzo's I met members ofBayCHI, a group dedicated to the human element in computing. About fifteen people, half men and women, shared an excellent meal before the main program. I met many interesting younger people who had worked with the speaker, Jason Kunesh, on the successful Obama social networking digital campaign. I had Sicilian Chardonnay with stuffed sautéed calamari and minestrone soup.
Jason was the first director of user experience in US Presidential campaign history. He flew from Chicago to meet with BayCHI. He sat next to me at dinner. He’s very outgoing and an excellent communicator, as were all the BayCHI members I had a chance to meet. He says, “He takes very seriously his efforts not to take himself seriously. SERIOUSLY!”
After dinner, we met at PARC (Palo Alto Research Center formerly known as Xerox PARC) in their comfortable auditorium seating about five hundred. At the start of Jason’s presentation, "True Believers, Geeks and Kool-Aid Drinkers: Tall Tales of Design Chicanery from Inside Obama for America HQ", he asked “How many people here are looking for work?” I turned in my seat near the front to see maybe a dozen hands out of a group of about three hundred. Next, he asked, “How many people here are looking to hire?” Twenty-five or thirty hands show. I had heard that the tech industry had unfilled positions. This is the first time I witnessed that fact.
Returning home after the long visit in the Bay Area, all the berries are gone as well as most of the snow. I gardened a couple of days in the sun, trimming roses and planting dark red grasses, miniature conifers and Japanese maples in two large pots near the front steps in the sunny weather before the next passing snowstorm. My friend Linda is having a big sale at the Boxcar Gallery.
James sent me a darling picture of granddaughter playing with the puzzle we got for her at the McCloud Mercantile.
Snapshot: One Year Later
Over the Spring Festival holiday, I heard from many of my friends in China, young people I met in 2011 while I was working at Tsinghua University. We had cooking parties, visited the art district 798, and painted huahua.
I met Bruce at the lotus pond at Tsinghua while I was brush painting one Saturday in late summer. He was in Beijing doing an internship year at Beijing University in the Total Immersion Program. He is an instructor in the program and is called LaoLi or Teacher Li. He has a BS in molecular biology from Shanxi Agricultural University. We gave Bruce a sendoff when he left Beijing for his hometown where he planned to start his own English Language School. Jerry was in graduate school at Beijing Language and Culture University, studying to be an English teacher.
I wanted to know if Jerry was doing anything fun for the holiday. He answered:
“Yes, I went to Atlanta see the dolphin show, St Augustine, Miami the south beach, Key west sunset, Orlando the Disney world, have a great time there, it's very different from where I live in Kentucky, and this helps me have a overall understanding of America. Hope everything goes well, I miss you.”
Jerry has spent the past year in Bowling Green, KY, teaching Mandarin through the Confucius Institute. He writes to me:
“I'm happy staying in touch with you, too. Now I have met a nice student teacher in my school， we are having fun get together every weekend with some other friends, playing desk games and I go to church with them on Sunday. By the way, is Eunice coming to US this year?”
Eunice shared her holiday with us:
[Eunice’s hometown is Gan zhou in the southeast of China.] “The climate is very good, we have very short winter, just a week ago it reached 82F. These days it's about 60F, but soon the temperature will go up. Unlike big cities like BJ, environment in my hometown is among the best at least in China, my city has the title of garden city. Since we have good climate and good geological location, we can grow many things, every time I go back home I will be fatter, many yummy food can't be found in Northern China.
Today is Chinese New Year's Eve, the most important festival in China, tomorrow will be the first day of 2013 in lunar calendar. I hope everything goes well with you in 2013, big sale of your book, wish you happy and have good health^_^. Love you!”
Eunice and Claire were graduating seniors at the Beijing Language and Culture University in Wudaokuo, classmates of Jerry. She wants to study in the US, but for now she is studying for an English translator test in May. If she passes, my boss at Tsinghua said she would hire Eunice to help translate my novel into mandarin. I understand it is very difficult test.
I asked Jerry: “What about our other friends? Claire and Bruce?”
Jerry writes back: “Claire is now in South Carolina Confucius Institute the same work as me. Bruce is now running a small English Training Company with his friends in Taigu , a county in Shanxi Province and they are doing now much better than the beginning. There is a photo of him.
“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Petty tai tai : )”
Snapshot: Dustin Song Tao Zhu
One of my first friends at Tsinghua was a young man my department found for me through the Student Organization. He and his friends in the Chemistry Department met with me several times for dinner or to have a cooking party in my apartment. I was very happy to hear from Dustin over the holidays. After graduating with a BS in Chemistry, Dustin is altering his educational course, pursuing a degree in finance for his MS.
Dustin wrote to me: “Hi , Petty: It's a long time not to talk to you.
“These days is the biggest festival in China, and I have come back to my hometown in Jiangsu. Today is the first day of new year, I wish you good luck in new Chinese year of snake! GONG XI FA CAI(Chinese old saying: wish you make much money in new year)
“I am still studying finance, and will graduate [from Tsinghua with MS] in 2014 summer. The first picture is one of my photos which was taken when I was an host in our new year festival. I find to be a host was so interesting. And the second one is shot when I participated in the concert and I was dressed in ethnic costume. These ethnic clothes look so beautiful.”
Snapshot: Chinese dumplings jiasuo
Li Zhang and I met at the coffee shop on campus near where we worked. Li was a research assistant for my friend Sara Sterling in the Anthropology Department that year. Li accompanied me on a trip to the Beijing Botanical Garden to translate for me and photograph the penjing collection. Li taught me a lot about Chinese cuisine. She wrote to me this holiday from her hometown in Jiangsu Province, near Shanghai.
“Happy Chinese New Year! I took some photos of Jiaozi made by my grandfather and parents. It's my family's tradition to make dumplings on the New Year Eve. You can see my grandfather's hand in the picture.”
Snapshot: Book Corner
My philosopher friend Daniel A Bell (see Thanksgiving Nov 23 breakfast letter) crossed my radar last week. I want to share the link to this recent Huffington Post article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-a-bell/chinese-nationalism_b_2603116.html
New Ways to visualize and Make Sense of Data
By Hunter Whitney
I met Hunter at the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of ACM (Assoc for Computing Machinery) SIGCHI (Special Interest Group on Human-Computer Interaction) dinner at Renzo’s in Palo Alto, on University Avenue, before the program. This book is an in depth and at the same time broad reaching compendium of ideas relating to visualization of data ideas, including some diagrams by Hunter such as Figure 6.2 Data analysis, the Yin and the Yang.
310pp with many illustrations on every page in black and white and color. You can find this jewel of a book at Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Data-Insights-Ways-Visualize-Sense/dp/0123877938/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1361406540&sr=1-1&keywords=data+insights
See you later
Yong hoy fat choy! Xinnian hao! On December 20 I got the manuscript back from my editor Kathyrn Robyn. I can’t remember any longer what revision I’m on, but the filename is now BA ver.6.1. Not finished yet, but getting very close to it…J
Cedar wax-wings are getting into the Boston ivy berries. Little, teen-aged, gray squirrels pop up from under the snow at tree wells or edges of the house—sooo cute, like Chip’n’Dale...
Chip'n'Dale are two chipmunk cartoon characters created in 1943 at Walt Disney Productions. Here's a link to Utube cartoon that must be fifty-years-old, just like cartoons I watched when I was little. Apologies to my China friends who can't access Utube.
... they scamper over the snow or slide down with little feet sticking out—wheee! Stay safe little squirrels, the fox is nearby …
On New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2012, gray foxes track through the back yard, tripping the motion sensor light. In early morning, Bruce saw a pair of them, with bushy tails as long as bodies, walking together down the street, boy and girlfriend.
We've had tons of snow this past month, and I am not exaggerating. The city was plowing at midnight on Apple Street at one point. Click on Cornerstone Bakery to see hilarious pix of the Explorer after we dug it out, still had at least two-feet of snow on top!!
Friday night, January 18, artist friends of mine were hosting a reception of their new work at the Liberty Arts gallery in Yreka, that’s north of Dunsmuir by about an hour driving. Yreka is the county seat of Siskiyou and is surrounded by cattle ranches and agriculture.
New China Style
My son, James, is sharing a Willamette 360 project he worked on two years ago for a very good developer in China. There were four homes in the package for which they designed the elevations, but the plans were really designed by the Chinese client. The style is one they've been developing for the last several years that is quite popular. It's a mix of neoclassical and Mediterranean styling they call the "New Chinese style."
China Culture: Laba Day
Zhoumo wo hezhou le … This weekend I drank porridge
January 19 is Laba Day, celebrated in China on the 8th day of the 12th month in the Chinese lunar calendar. It’s a traditional Buddhist practice to offer rice porridge to the poor to show faith in Buddha and pray for the coming year: good weather and good harvest. At the time of the Ming Dynasty, in the 16th century, it became a royal food. The practice spread throughout the country. The porridge today is a nutritious mix of yellow rice, white rice, glutinous rice, water chestnut, chestnuts, peeled Zaoni with Shuizhu Shu, tropical red peach kernel, almond, melon seeds, peanuts, hazel Rang, pine nuts, sugar, brown sugar, raisins, red river beans, millet, Chinese sorghum, peas, dried lotus seeds.
Anyone know what zaoni with shuizhu shu?
Eunice Woo shares with us:
The word "La" is another way of saying December of Chinese Lunar Calendar, "Ba" means the 8th day of this month. the festival is originated from ancient emperor's sacrifice to God, dried fruits and grains are used to celebrate harvest - thank God for last year's harvest and pray for the next year's harvest. Most important tradition of La Ba is making and eating "La Ba porridge". every family's hostess gets up really early to make the porridge, the first family gets the porridge done will have the biggest harvest the next year. when you have the porridge you'll find different kinds of grains and dried fruits and nuts, many people think there are 8 kinds of them because the word "Ba" in the name of this festival, but it's not true, it's definitely more than 8. as to what Chinese people use specifically in the porridge, i'm not sure, different regions have different features. generally speaking, people from Northern China like sweet porridge without any meat in it, while in Southern China people like salted porridge with meat. in ancient times, the Emperor would serve his people porridge made by the emperess, today many big well-known temples still serve porridge freely to people. having La Ba porridge is super good to one's health too, although our ancestors don't know today's scientific theories, they decided to do this more than one thousand years ago.
Selected Poems of Zheng Min
This statement from the Publisher’s Forward of this slim book of verse is strangely prescient of the announcement of Nobel winner Mo Yan. “China is a country with a history of over five thousand years, rich with ancient cultures and civilization. China is also a country of poetry. China's poetry is recognized for its great achievements in art. Nine sessions of International Poet's Pen Club have taken place in China. The World Congress of Poets (WCP) frequently meets in China. Chinese poetry will surely be linked more closely with world poetry, thereby giving impetus to the further development of Chinese and world poetry.”
In November 2011 at Tsinghua University I was privileged to attend a reception for Zhen Min, a 91-year-old poetess who was writing before New China, was a member of a writers group called the ‘Nine Leaves,’ but who was suppressed during the Cultural Revolution. From 1948 to 1952, Zheng Min studied in the Department of English at Brown University, receiving her MA. This little book is of several of her later poems, nineteen poems on the subject of death. 71 pages, English and Chinese on each page.
See you later
The last week of November, Bruce and I drove to Dorris to have Mexican lunch. By the time we arrived at noon, the freezing fog was burning off a ridge of mountains to the north, near the Oregon border where it spills over from Lower Klamath Lake.
A series of warm storms from the Pacific, called Pineapple Express, blew through, dropping a lot of rain, but no flooding here. A seasonal stream runs past our house, down Apple Street, from a spring higher up on the ridge behind the house. Wet, black, crinkled bark on oaks is fuzzing over with fresh, velvety, green moss. High 50-degrees F Low 43. 10-degrees C/6C.
Between squalls a ruby crowned kinglet flits about the Boston ivy berries.
Fresh and white, Mt Shasta, Baise Shan, dominates the sky, overlooking nearby McCloud while Christmas shopping for the baby granddaughter. Bruce found mantles for an Aladdin lantern. Happily, I found licorice shoelaces for the mouse tails, wound in a flat spiral.
McCloud is an unincorporated town, population 1,101. Hudson Bay trappers were the first documented white men to arrive at this location in 1829. Others followed, and in 1892 a lumber mill was built, combined with the construction of a railroad, and the fortunes of the locals improved. The mill closed in 1963, starting a gradual decline in jobs for families; it is now home to remaining locals and retired émigrés from the San Francisco bay area.
That night we spied on a sleek, Gray Fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus in the backyard. Standing in the warm in the kitchen nook, we watched the fox zigzag from the compost pile across the railroad tie stairs and back up the grassy hill, disappearing into inky, green-black shadow. The common gray fox has been crowded out of its habitat in the eastern US but is dominant in the west. An noteworthy trait of the gray fox is its ability to climb trees, something it shares with Asian Raccoon dog. This allows it to escape predators such as domestic dogs and the coyote. They mate for life.
Tree-lighting in downtown lasts only a few minutes. The Garden Club decorates a tree and provides cookies and cocoa. Santa (Big Dave our neighbor and city councilman) and Mrs Claus (Tammy) entertain the children while we try singing Jingle Bells in the freezing cold.
BREAKFAST LETTER TRAVELOGUE
Feng, from Beijing, was attending a meeting in Guilin in Quangxi province last month. She’s sharing her images with us.
“the pic which looks like meat are some stones, haha, it is very Realistic, the next is Longsheng terraced, there is some water , Yangshuo Yulong River rafting Guangxi scenery - Hongyao long-haired woman I want to recommend,u can see some pics: http://www.17u.com/blog/article/1049748.html good luck! expect for see u again here! Fh”
This link is to a 23 minute long video from the tourist bureau in Yangshuoren, amazing and gorgeous production values preceded by 30-second animated trailer or ad in Chinese.
More fun for Chinese culture fans:
click on Christmas card from Feng. If you have your own QQ account, click on the orange buttons. If not, click on blue characters below orange buttons.
I’m skipping the book feature this month, instead attaching files of Duncan the Steam Engine stories Bruce made for children to enjoy at Christmas over the years. We’re calling this collection The Best of Duncun. 2013 production is scheduling an international theme with Duncan visits cities of the World. The scenes are shot on Bruce's HO layout.
See you later