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
The other day Bruce and I played hooky and drove to Gumboot Lake.http://creagrus.home.montereybay.com/CA-SIS-Gumboot.html Gas prices dropped to $4.05. Our internet connection was down and while we re-booted the wireless modem we relaxed at the lake.
There is still over 150 feet/46m of snow at the top of Mt. Shasta. http://www.shastaavalanche.org/ The drive to Gumboot Lake is only 40 minutes from my house in Dunsmuir but takes you above 6,000 feet/1830m. We took the road through the resort http://www.mountshastaresort.com/ behind Lake Siskiyou, past the Castle Lake turn off, all the way to the top near where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses. http://shastacascade.com/showrecord.asp?id=458
On the hike to the upper spring we chanced across a circle of pinecones and sticks arranged like a sun in the grassy meadow. Anemones and dodecatheon ‘Shooting Star’ bloomed in the moist stream margins. Mats of Phlox diffusa http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phlox_diffusa and some type of eriogonum grow together in a natural rock garden. Pedicularis densiflora ‘Indian Warrior’ are blooming just now. See it here at the feet of host plant manzanita, also flowering now at this altitude.
To celebrate the solstice Mary Jo and I visited Stewart Springs Spa.http://www.stewartmineralsprings.com/nodes/aboutus/ Their motto is ‘Soothe your Body Indulge your Soul.’ Their brochure offers, “Soothing private mineral baths, a wood burning sauna, cool river plunges, reflection and transformation gained from a traditional sweat lodge.” Mary Jo and I roasted in the sauna, wrapped in sheets while others sat in lotus position. The cool showers of natural spring water, full of silica, invigorated our skin. Gas is down to $3.93.
See you later
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
A temporary glitch with my internet connection meant I was dark all of last weekend. I learned some new Chinese as a result: Zhoumo wode diannao bukeyi shangwang. 'I could not go online all weekend.' Youshihou wo zai qinqua shangban hen yumen. 'Sometimes it's frustrating working at Tsinghua.'
I have been carrying on with the massage. After the initial 2.5 hour marathon, my appointments are only 1 hour twice a week, for 180Y each or $27. And the masseur, anmoshi, is lighter in his touch. I suppose the first time is to soften you up and that step was the most rigorous. Now he goes in with surgical precision, delving into the deep pressure points. More than once he asked if my heart was ok, or if I was feeling pounding in my heart by making a heart shape with his fingers and holding it to his chest or making a pounding gesture there. He keenly watches my eyes for every response. More ear checking, at times running around the table to check my pulse and tongue. I wish I knew the science of this medicine. The organs get massaged also, not just muscles and pressure points.
Language here is going through a transformation as is the culture. How do I know this? I studied Mandarin only briefly at UCLA in the 70s, but a few phrases persisted. One was 'wo bu hui shuo Zhongguo hua' or 'I can't speak Chinese.' Now you say wo bu hui shuo hanyu. It's been shortened. Another example is 'bathroom.' I learned nu cesuo from the Mandarin immersian cds I studied in January. Well, that's like saying 'water closet!' No one uses the term anymore, and young people have never heard it. No wonder I got blank stares whenever I tried to find the bathroom. Now you say xi shuo jian 'hand washing room,' slightly shorter. Not just vocabulary is shortening, but sentence structure is changing, and the use of English terms is now ok. And that's how they are talking Mandarin in Beijing today.
On a practical level, now that it's hot in the afternoons, I like iced coffee-- kafei bing jia nai he tang-- with milk and sugar. It comes in a tall glass with ice and only 13Y or $2.00. Now I can order in Chinese I get fewer surprises, and I get what I want!
Walking down the hall, I heard odd sounds coming from the other office. Song had her 6-year-old son at the office, and he was amusing himself like little boys everywhere, playing a game with a few leggo pieces and a small transformer bot. I introduced myself, 'wo shi Cheryl. what's your name?' I asked in English. He piped up with 'Johnny.' So at 6 years he knew what I was asking, and he responded with the English name his teacher has given him. His mother says he's been studying English for 3 years, since he was 3.
After 10 years of drought, China is now having the worst rain and flooding in 20 years they say. Mostly in the Yangtse basin, but also where it empties into the China Sea at Shanghai. Finally we are getting a taste of it here in Bejing. I noticed people leaving the building early last Thursday. By 4pm the sky got dark as dusk, streetlights were on and car headlights could be seen through the pelting rain. The wind was blowing the rain sideways and gusting in the trees wildly thrashing. By 5pm there was a lull. I was ready. I jumped on my bicycle, grasping the umbrella in left hand, I maneuvered through the sparse traffic towards home. As I crossed the ancient canal I was surprised to see it had risen about six feet or 2m from puddle of a rivulet to a turbid and swift river. A worker was struggling with a big iron grate.
Riding slowly through the quad I tried to keep my feet dry through the giant puddles. I could see where the greens keepers had quit cutting the grass half way across the big lawn. The annoying peddlers had packed up their bazaar near the old gate, and water was running swiftly along the edge of the street under ice cream cases, covered tables and collapsed umbrellas. The closer I got to the hutong the more frequent were gushing drain pipes, creating giant puddles or diverting brick lined ditches. Near the Senior Center the whole street was full of water six inches deep. Hopeless to keep the shoes dry. My only thought was to get home before I got drenched like the other night.
At Qinqi massage the pain intensity has been reducing with each appointment-- only momentary bursts of of transcendental awareness through 'tang.' Liujun the 'anmoshi' masseur fetched a basket of bottles and packages. He selected a paper packet, tore it open and produced some long thin acupuncture needles and inserted them into my left wrist and right calf, behind the knee. These stayed in about a half an hour as he carried on with the treatment. I couldn't feel them at all. Odd, looking at them hanging out but no sensation there.
When the session was over, he wrote a prescription for me on the back of my language notes. But of course at the time I had no idea what it was. At the desk, setting the next appointment went smoother with my few little phrases, wo shenme shihou zailai 'when do I come again?' Nide anmo zende hen youyong 'your massage is really helpful.'
On Saturday I got a visit from Ms Feng from the housing department. She came with a workman to check the windows in my apartment where I got a minor flood during the big storm, came right through closed windows and made a big puddle on the floor. Figure that one out. A flood on the 5th floor. Over a cup of jasmine tea 'yige bei huacha' I showed her Luijun's prescription, and she was able to tell me I'm to drink the juice of a winter melon. ok, I think I can do that.
I went to the farmers market and showed them the characters for winter melon and brought it home, cut it up and simmered it until it melted into a soupy stew. I strained it and drank the juice-- not to bad 'bu tai huai'-- almost sweet with a light squash flavor. This is supposed to help with the foot.
My cabdriver friend James was robbed this week. Someone snuck into his room while he was hanging out his shirts and pants he washes by hand. Carelessly he had left his door ajar. Still, petty crime is almost non-existent as we know it in the west. The Chinese people are very honest and disinterested in taking what is not theirs. I happened meet James in the street the morning after the theft. His eyes were red and swollen and he was distracted and agitated. I urged him to report this to the police, but his landlord urged him not to. Well, obviously, the landlord knows something and may be protecting the thief, someone nearby who could spy on James' movements undetected in a tiny walled courtyard. It does no good to mention I had told him weeks ago to open a bank account and deposit his cash somewhere safe.
Hui tou jian