Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas in England

Hello Friends and and Merry Christmas!

Well, it's the 27th of December and Christmas is over. It was a wonderful time spending it here in England with Mark's family. It has been even better knowing Ben was able to come and spend time with his Brit cousins! They have been having a great time and enjoying taking him out to the local pubs to partake in consuming the local draughts! He has been enjoying that.
The weather has been typical English weather, dreary, overcast, and rainy....but no complaints from me...I'm with my husband and son and having a fabulous holiday! Ben leaves the 29th for Detroit before he heads home to Atlanta. Mark and I leave on the 30th for our return to China. I only have 8 weeks left in China (I leave the 23 rd of February) so I can do my Capstone practicum for the last 15 weeks of school at home. I will probably also work a bit at my job so I don't forget how to be a nurse!! ;) I miss my work family and it will be good to see them. I really can't believe how fast time has flown by! I will be done with school at the end of May/ beginning of June and then I am done! The light at the end of the tunnel is a lot less dim, and getting brighter with each passing week.
Till next time.....

Friday, December 2, 2011

Yowzer...time is flying by! It's December 2nd already?

Hi Again..so it appears we are posting WOO-HOO! So much has been going on over the last few weeks. I will do my best to do a bit of a synopsis. Have gone and done a bit of shopping a couple of times in Shanghai. One trip was with just 5 other ladies. MJ was heading back to the USA and wanted to get a shopping trip in before leaving. We did that on a Thursday, and the following Monday, we had a bus full of expat ladies heading to another shopping area to shop for the holidays before heading back to homelands for the holidays. I have become quite the bargainer!
In fact, my reputation preceded me into the shops! (We call it the "Chopstick Express") Once it's known there are Westerners in the area who are buying...word spreads from shop to shop! One lady said to us, "I will deal with her (pointing to one of my shopping companions) and then YOU (poining at me)...I know you look like tough negotiator!" Seriously? Okay...and bargain I did! I scored 3 bluetooth keyboards for 3 of us who have Ipad 2 for $20 each. I also got quite a few gifts for Christmas and a few other personal bargains! I'll tell you it's a sport to shop here...and I am getting to professional ranking!! :)
Speaking of rankings, my poker club has been busy and fun. It's getting quite professional in as much we have been getting ranked and even have a banquet scheduled on December 8th. I am looking forward to it, and it should be a lot of fun for us degenerate gamblers! I adore these folks who have welcomed me with open arms and make it fun as well as competitive to play poker with folks from all over the world! I always look forward to my weekly poker game at Ollie's. On Thanksgiving, we had Thanksgiving dinner at Ollie's with 2 other couples. It was a lovely traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It made missing it with my family back home a bit easier to deal with. We enjoyed it and our table companions were fun.

Crafting has been busy on Fridays to get things completed for the Craft Bazaar being held tomorrow at a local hotel. It's a charity event that raises money for some local charities here in Suzhou. Mark and I will be volunteering from 12-2. Should be fun, and a productive day. There will be quite a few vendors there as well, so I am sure I can get a few Christmas decorations for the apartment while there. I have NOTHING that even resembles a Christmas feel anywhere! Even though we are going to England to spend the holiday with Mark's family, I need it to feel a bit "Christmasy" while here before we leave on the 22nd. I will miss spending Christmas away from my family in Michigan, but at least Ben will be joining us there! Mark found him a flight from Atlanta to Manchester on the 24th. He will be with us for 5 days and get to spend time with his cousins that he hasn't seen in 8 years! It should be a great time for all of us. The down side is, it will be rough for the family since it's the first Christmas without Mark's mom since her passing in August. It will be nice to see Mark's dad and spend some time with him and see how he is doing.
So that's a bit of what has been going on here. I hope to be more of a regular blogger...let's hope the Internet, Blogspot, and my proxy server cooperate! Ciao my friends!!

Been busy..and frustrated with Blogger!

Hello Friends!

I know...longtime, no postings! Believe me, I am beyond frustrated! I know it has something to do with Blogger and having to use a proxy server to access the internet to publish my musings from this foreign land. If it was something easy to fix...I would but it's hit or miss. The internet over here has been pretty dodgy the last few weeks as it is. So, this is a bit of test(again) to see if this will publish. (Crossing fingers and saying a prayer.....)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Surviving in China...husbandless!

Mark is in the USA, and I am in China. He had to go back for immigration travel document issues. He was supposed to leave on the 10th of November, but we pushed his flight up so he could see a doctor while there. His ankles and feet were still pretty swollen and now he has a horrible rash all over his body! We stopped his meds (antibiotics and diuretic) because obviously he is allergic to something! So, he left on the 4th to head home and I have been solo in China for over a week. It's been a bit lonely at times, but not too bad. I have a lot to keep me occupied between school work and activities with the other expat ladies.
It also made me realize, I have become quite acclimated to living here in China. I can fend for myself (with a little help from Mr. Shen), and I have plenty of things to keep me busy without feeling alone. There is always something I can find to do, even if it's just going for a walk to get a coffee, shopping, whatever. It's a good feeling that I can be in a foreign country and not feel isolated.
I even went and played poker on Tuesday and Thursday. I usually just play on Thursday, but decided to play on Tuesday too. I didn't win, but I had a great time. It's nice to spend time with my poker friends because they are always fun!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The rest of my week...

Tuesday consisted of getting my final paper completed and turned in. That was accomplished. On Wednesday, I had a Tai-Tai outing to Taicang. Taicang City is located in the South Jiangsu Plain and on the southern bank of Yangtze River, close to the mouth of the river. The city borders Baoshan and Jiading Districts of Shanghai on the south, Kunshan City on the west and Changshu City on the north. It was about an hour bus ride for us. We visited 3 different areas of agricultural gardens. A few pictures:

Pretty Finnish Ladies! They have made me an "honary Finn" They even gave me a Finnish name "Key-ah-lou" (that's phonetic spelling because I have NO idea how to spell it in Finnish!) it means lilly of the valley (flower) the national flower of Finland! I love these gals! :)

It was a nice day for it. Not too hot or cold. We had lunch there…here are some pictures of some interesting food choices:

Mark worked late, so I had the evening to just relax and do a bit of leisure reading. Mark got home from work around 8:00PM and we just relaxed the rest of the evening and went to bed early.
On Thursday, Val and I had made plans to take the bus downtown to obtain a bus pass for me. She had gotten one while I was back home and she has become a “semi-expert” on the bus system here and she knew where I needed to go to acquire one for myself. So…we headed out around 10:30am for downtown. We got there and it was very straight forward and no problems. Woo-Hoo! You just never know here…some things are more problematic and you just learn to roll with it. We decided to go down Pingjiang Lu' (Píngjiāng Lù, 平江路) street. We both enjoy just strolling that street and taking in the culture and browsing in a few of the shops. My camera is dead..so no pictures but I have posted pictures of this very picturesque street before. After walking around for a while, it was coming up on lunch time, so we decided to head back on the bus and go to Heidi’s for lunch near home. We hopped the bus back; (using my new bus pass) which proved for an interesting ride. Our bus driver was of the belief that his aggressive driving and using his horn would get us there much quicker! Also, this bus’s suspension was nill! It made for a very comical ride to say the least!

We arrived back to Singha Plaza (about a mile from home). We stopped at Summit which is a market that carries many import items for westerners and picked up a few things here. Then we headed over to Heidi’s for lunch. We enjoyed our lunch of chef salad and ice tea and ate outside. We ran into a few of the other expat ladies we know. It was a nice day. We then headed back to our apartment complex. I made spaghetti for dinner and had picked up some garlic bread at the Franco Papa bakery that was quite tasty! That will be something to get again when having pasta for dinner.
It’s Thursday, so that means poker night! Mark’s feet and ankles are still bothering him, and even though the swelling has subsided, they are nowhere near normal. So, I tuck him in bed with the dvd clicker and one of his tv series to watch and head over to Ollie’s for poker. I enjoy my poker night with my poker buddies; they are a great bunch of people from all over the world. I did not fare as well as last week, and get knocked out of the tournament around 10:00PM. I then catch a cab and head back to the apartment. I get home and Mark is awake and still watching his tv series. Off to dreamland by 11:00PM.
It’s Friday am and it’s crafts at Pam’s from 10:00-12:00 then we usually do lunch after. So Joanna, Val, and I meet up at the gate to walk over to Pam’s. There is quite a big group this week. Ladies are working hard to get things finished for the craft bazaar which is being held on Dec. 3rd. I had to pin quilt squares together for the quilt that is being assembled. As much as I love to craft…I suck at it! So something like pinning is easy for me to do and I really can’t screw it up! J Here’s a picture of the crafters hard at work:

Around noon, we decide to head over to Casa Zoe for lunch. They have a nice lunch buffet. So, 12 of us (some ladies had other obligations) walk over to the restaurant. It was a nice lunch and I had the opportunity to talk with a few ladies I don’t know. It was very enjoyable. Time to pay…where is my little bag with my money and other things? Hmmmm…I empty my HUGE purse contents onto the table…it’s not here. Did I leave it on the dining table at the apartment? My friend Theresa loans me lunch money (thank you Theresa!) and pay. Some of the ladies are heading downtown for some sightseeing and shopping. I pass as now I have to go and find my little silk purse that has not only my money, but my new bus pass, my expat membership card, my address card (I use this for taxi drivers to get me home), and the card that lets me into the apartment building when the doors are locked (they are usually left wide open…but sometimes they are closed, and you just never know when you may need it to get in). Susanna and I head back towards are respective apartment buildings and say goodbye at one of the corners. I head up to the apartment. My little silk purse is NOWHERE TO BE FOUND! I search all over the apartment. NO luck. SERIOUSLY??? I know I had it in the taxi coming home from Ollie’s last night. I am really upset and mad at myself! Where could it be? It must have fallen out in the taxi or out of my bag between getting out of the taxi and walking to the apartment building last night. GREAT…now I have no bus pass, expat membership card, address card, not to mention the money that was in there! Mark calls, and I tell him I lost my little purse and he can tell how upset and distraught I am. He tells me not to worry, everything can be replaced and at least it wasn’t my wallet with my ID or credit cards. True…but I am SOOO mad! I just got my bus pass yesterday and now I have to replace it? Not to mention the other things and the money! I am such an idiot!
So, I figure I’ll turn on the TV and see what might be on…oh and a side note here, to add insult to injury, my Slingbox is not working. No American television for me. It stopped working last week, and after my brother reset it, it worked for a day and is NOT working again. So…Chinese television and DVD’s it is. Mark has to hardwire it to the router when he goes back in November for a week (another long story!) instead of it being wireless. It loses the signal too easily being wireless. So, I turn on the TV to discover it is not working! All the channels say “this channel is not handled by your smartcard” Great! This day is just getting better and better! Mark offered to take me out to dinner but I told him I didn’t feel much like going out and I was probably not fit for human interaction at this point of the day. So, when he got home, we ordered Indian and it got delivered within an hour. Dinner was good and we just hung out at home. I was not good company and that wonderful husband of mine just tried to make me feel better.

I just need to count my blessings and realize that losing replaceable things is really pretty trivial in the big scheme of things isn’t it? Lesson learned… I’m no worse for wear, and I’m still a very blessed and lucky lady to be living the life I have! Hopefully, the weekend will be an uneventful, calm one. I’ve had enough turmoil this week. Till next time…

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Monday, October 24th.

Hello friends!

It's been a fun week so far. I did manage to finish my last paper for my class and skipped a couple of things with the ladies early in the week to get it finished. Mark and I had a trip to Metro (like Sam's Club or Costco) on Monday night for some essentials. We decided we needed a wok for cooking so that got purchased along with a few other things. We had a pretty big haul of stuff. Mr. Shen had taken us so he assisted with putting it all in the trunk. Then...we headed over to Zappata's for dinner (burger deal night). Since Malone's has closed...we have been searching for a replacement burger place. While they are okay here...not as good as Malone's! After dinner, we headed home. Mr. Shen dropped us off and we had to get the loot from our shopping trip and Mark's computer bag out of the trunk. What?? Mark's computer bag is there...no shopping purchases! Mr. Shen had taken it upon himself to take it to the apartment for us while we were eating dinner! It was a miserable day/evening too. It had been raining all day. He had taken all our purchases up to the apartment for us in the pouring rain! What a superstar driver we have!
That man is a blessing everyday that we are here! I thank him profusely and let him know that it wasn't necessary, but very much appreciated! Let me tell you, hearing some of the horror stories about drivers over here with some of the other expats...we are extremely lucky to have him in our lives in China. My friends over here love him too! They even realize what a gem he is! Yes...my husband spoils me rotten...and so does Mr. Shen! :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saturday, October 22nd

Well it's been a good week in Suzhou. I went to play poker on Thursday and managed to finish 2nd in the tournament from a field of 30. I like it when I can play AND win money! It was great seeing all my poker buddies after being gone for 4 months. I enjoyed myself and I am looking forward to next week and playing again.

Friday I went to Crafts at Pam's apartment. I met a few new people that have arrived while I was gone. We then went (there were 10 of us ) and had a Chinese Szechun lunch. It was delicious lunch and as usual, very inexpensive (3.12) and we had a really nice time. Then it was off to Franks Place. This shop is located down by Humble Administrator's Garden (a very "tourist-y" area. It sells a lot of souvenirs and Chinese trinkets, as well as furniture and tea sets... LOTS of stuff. We (the expat ladies) love going down there. It was the first time I have actually felt uncomfortable while being here in China.

It was very crowded and busy with a lot of people. There were many tourists and I was getting a lot of stares and pictures taken. Ok...fine. I can deal with that. Well ...a few times people came up to me and in my personal space (way too close for my liking) and blantantly stared and touched. I actually began to feel like some sort of freak show! I told some of the others...I need to get outta here! They were sympathetic and understood. The blonde hair and green eyes on this chick just fascinated some of these Asian folks! Thank goodness Mr. Shen was nearby and came to fetch us fairly quickly. It was quite surreal...I never felt uncomfortable like that before. I hope I don't ever again. it was not a good feeling.

Saturday Mark and I got up and decided to head to Casa Zoe for breakfast. Picture on the left. It was very good we stayed a bit longer and had a couple extra cups of coffee while signing up for benefits through Mark's company. We discovered while back home, this year we had NO dental and the international medical insurance pretty much sucks!!! So...we will have decent medical insurance for 2012. Woo-Hoo! We are now off to the medical clinic. Mark's feet have been swollen since he got back home (in the U.S) at the end of September. At first, we thought it was from flying...but it didn't go away...then he had extremely swollen and one ankle was reddened. So, my husband who HATES going to the doctor and/or taking medicine says he needs to go...so off we go. You have to love going to the doctors here. You sign in and you see a MD within 5 minutes. Well, the doctor runs some blood work and figures it's some sort of infection ....so IV Rocephin dose for him...
Well...me being the nosy nurse that I am...I am just sitting there, decide to scope out the room and look and see what kind of medical supplies and "stuff" they have. Mark was truly appalled that I was opening drawers and rifling through things. Hey...they don't want me being nosy...lock the drawers..if it's not locked it's fair game! Here is a few things I found:

After the antibiotic infusion, we got his oral antibiotic (Augmentin) and off we went to Eurofoods across the street to do a bit of grocery shopping. We bought a few things...then it's time for a coffee break at Starbucks where we sat for a bit and enjoyed our little break. it was a lovely day to sit outside and enjoy the day. We got back to the apartment around 3:00. We stopped off at the market to get some produce and chicken for dinner. It's been a good day. Hopefully, the antibiotics will work and Mark's feet will be back to normal soon. He has a follow-up appointment on Tuesday. Let's hope that his feet will be back to normal and he can wear shoes without trying to squeeze his feet into them!
Till next time....

Friday, October 21, 2011

Getting into the swing of things...

Hello Friends!
Yes, it's taken some getting used to...but I do believe I am getting back into the swing of being a "Tai-Tai" (housewife). I even remembered to pick up milk and bananas for Mark's daily breakfast while coming back from getting my nails done! Poor guy...sometimes this housewife "forgets" the simpliest of things to do on a daily basis. I am really trying to better at the housewife thing this go around in China.
I did take a couple of photos while in the local shop that is located right downstairs in our apartment complex.
These are some kind of "Nabisco" (China -style) Oreos... notice the lovely colors? I have NO clue what the flavors are...I can only imagine they are something I would NOT eat! The photo above is a shop of one or the aisles...PACKED with all kinds of food from all over the world. Many imported items at "imported" prices. I was lucky...usually this place is pretty crowded. Imagine these type of aisles with a few people in them. Oh so fun!
I remembered to take shopping bags in my purse so no paying for bags! Yes, I am getting back in the habit of running through a checklist in my head of things I may need while out and about in this wonderful city. The list is long and the purse I carry here is HUGE!
I really must figure out why my photos are not getting placed where I want them on these blog posts. It is very frustrating.
So...I must go and work on my last paper for this class I am in. Two more classes (16 weeks) and my practicum (another 16 weeks) and I will be finished! Hopefully, graduated with my Masters degree. Till next time......

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gettin' my groove back...it's been a busy week!

Well, it’s been a full week back in China. It has been a busy one and pretty exhausting too. On Saturday, we headed out with 7 other couples to dinner at Piccola Italia.

Divided table: men at one end; women at the other.

Group table shot

It was a great dinner. Then after dinner we headed over to Harry’s Bar that has a really good band for entertainment. There wasn’t enough room for a large group inside, so we sat outside. It was a beautiful night for it.

Jim goofing with Marcy's new shoes!

We enjoyed a couple of cocktails and then called it an evening.
Val and her husband (Phil) decided they were ending their evening too. So we all headed toward the street to catch a cab back to the apartment complex.

Mark and Phil (Mark really isn't avoiding Phil...Phil is just blocking the light that was blocking my camera shot!)

It was a lot of fun. We hope to do it again soon. One funny thing...on the walk to our apartments in the complex we discovered some new signs that have been posted:

It says: "Take trecautions atainst durglais" ("CHINGLISH" TRANSLATION: Take precautions against burglars.....HILARIOUS! We see a lot of this and I really need to take more pictures of them...so much gets "lost in translation!" Oh...and take a look at the "no horn" sign...yeah...like that will EVER happen. I think the horn is attached to the gas pedal on Chinese driven vehicles!

***I must apologize in advance for the lack of postings that will be posted until I figure out the reason I am having so many technical issues with photos and general posting/ publishing issues. It has taken WAY TOO LONG do get this one done. Ridiculously too long {over an hour! :( }
So bear with me as I try to figure this out or find another site to blog on. We will see what the future holds. All I know is...I can't take over an hour to post one little post! *** Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I'm back...and so is the jetlag!

We arrived back at the apartment around 9:15PM on Monday night. We were exhausted and tired from being on a 14 hour flight in cattle call economy coach class plus a 2 hour drive from the Shanghai airport. After about 11 hours…I’m over it! It also doesn’t help that Delta is using their 747-400 aircrafts much more often for this flight (more bodies more $$$ I suppose) which do not have video on demand. But, we survived and arrived safely and that is the goal.

We did a bit of unpacking, showered, and went to bed around 10:30. I woke up around 3:30AM, attempted to go back to sleep, but was unsuccessful. I got up around 4:00AM and did a bit more unpacking, and some school work. Mark got up at 6:30 when the alarm went off. He is off to work today. Poor guy had no milk or OJ for breakfast so…he made do with my oatmeal.
I have a big day ahead. I phoned my friend Val to see if she was attending the monthly EAS (Expatriate Assoc. of Suzhou) coffee at the Renaissance Hotel. She had another engagement so we chatted a bit and made plans to get together tomorrow. So, Mr. Shen arrived to pick me around 10:15 to drive me over (I would have walked…but it looked like it may rain). It was wonderful to see so many of my friends! There were lots of hugs and chatting, and catching up on what was new. At noon, a few of us decided to go to lunch before Mahjong started at 1:30. Off to Zappata’s we went. It’s a Mexican place that offers a great lunch deal and there is plenty of offerings to choose from. Lunch was delicious and then off to play mahjong. I got high hand!! Must be beginner’s luck because I sure needed a bit of a refresher! We all put in 10 RMB (around 1.50) so I won the pot! So…lunch for me was a freebie!

After mahjong, I had to stop off at the market to get some essentials. The fridge and cupboards were pretty bare! Of course, I forgot to put a shopping bag in my purse..so charged for bags! Grrrrr… I really have to remember that I have to carry everything but the kitchen sink when I venture out! Back at the apartment a little before 5:00PM… Mark calls at 5:15 to say he is on his way and it’s Indian for dinner!!! Score! No cooking for this chick!
Dinner was delish…as usual at Indian at the Cross. The traffic to get downtown was horrendous as they are still tearing it all up for the installation of the subway system. I’ll tell you, our driver Mr. Shen should get hazard pay! He’s a Gem! We are very blessed to have this man in our lives in China. He is my “go-to” guy when I need him. I brought him back a couple of pairs of Levi’s and an Itouch to show my appreciation for all he does and he was very appreciative and thankful. It’s the LEAST I could do! Mark let him know the gifts were from the “Big Boss”…not him! It’s a running joke with all of us….Mark is Mr. Shen’s boss…but I’m the “Big Boss! LOL! I just want to keep him happy and make sure he continues as our driver because decent ones around here are not easy to come by! So this girl will make sure Mr. Shen is a happy guy!

So…of course I can barely keep my eyes open by 9:00PM and it’s off to “Dreamland”. It was a good day and I am looking forward to seeing Val tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll sleep in a bit longer!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

T- 8 hours and counting...

Ok... I am packed and ready I do believe for my adventure in China to continue. I am actually looking forward to seeing my friends that I haven't seen in 4 months. It will be good to be back in a semi-routine without having to work (not that I worked all that much over the summer anyway!!)
The plane leaves at 4:00. We arrive in China at 7:40PM on Monday. So my dear friends and followers, the adventure will continue and I wil blog and keep you all updated on my crazy adventure in China!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Back to the Grind......

Ok...so I am back. I have been back in the good ole' USA since June 6th. (I was supposed to be back on June 4th...that's another long story that I'll save for another time!) I am working a couple 12 hour shifts a week on midnights (7p-7a). It is tough getting back in the groove and being a working stiff instead of going out to lunch, playing Mahjong, and taking afternoon field trips with the other housewives! I live a charmed life in China....but I love my life in the USA and wouldn't give up being an American for, ..WELL...ALL THE TEA IN CHINA!! :)
 So, I will be posting periodically, but not as frequently until I return to China. The schedule departure date is October 9th. Mark is coming home at the end of September and we are flying back to China together. So...that's what's going on for now...I'll let you know of any earth-shattering, ground-breaking news as it happens! In the mean time...I gotta get back to work!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pictures from adventures I have yet to Blog about...

I am so behind on this blogging thing! I really need to make it a habit...(yeah, like I should make exercise a habit!) I have pictures on the camera that I know I should blog about individually...but I don't have the time or energy....so here is a break down as I go through the camera....
My friends Susanna (from Finland) and Val (from the U.K.) We spent the day in Shanghai on Wednesday, May 25th. It was a great day...lots of shopping, and seeing the sights. Oh, and of course cocktails and dinner! These two lovely ladies have made my transition to China not only tolerable...but lots of fun!

A picture of Mark (the love of my life!) and I at a dinner with his team at Indian at the Cross (our favorite restaurant in Suzhou) We went out on Friday, May20th. with his employees. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed seeing employees I had met before and new members of his team!

A picture of where I play poker on a weekly basis. I plan on going tomorrow and take pics of all my poker buddies....they are a great bunch of folks!

 This is our driver Mr. Shen who drives us safely all over Suzhou...and Shanghai or wherever else we need to go...this man is a GEM!! This picture was taken after the team dinner...we went to a Karaoke place and he is demonstrating the use of tambourines!!

             This was taken at a luncheon to say "Good-bye" to Angela (on the left) She is from New Zealand and is leaving Suzhou to head back home. She is a real sweetie who will be missed! :(  My great friend Val is on the right. It's a real bummer to have to say good-bye to people, too frequently!

                            Angela and I....I will miss her!

  So, in a nutshell, that's what's been going on. A few others are leaving....I hope to connect with them before I  leave....A.B. is one of them...hopefully, I can at least connect with her before I go to say goodbye. If I don't  well, her family is being relocated to Michigan...so I may be able to see her when I am back home. That is the definite drawback to life as an expat....make friends and then have to say goodbye. The one plus is, I can actually say I have friends all over the world...how many people can say that? I am truly blessed that I have been given this opportunity to live in a foreign country and meet people from all over the globe!

Friday, May 27, 2011

School =Anxiety and Stress!

I know I have been seriously lacking in Blog posting. I have good reason. I am in a class with an instructor from H***!! As far as I can tell, he is pretty much of the assumption that we are a bunch of idiotic morons...I am questioning myself and my capabilities to continue... I hate that I feel like this and I know better than to allow a professor to make me question my work and writing aptitude. Really? I need to use the writing center to proof my paper? I've had two instructors ask my permission to use papers that I had written as exemplar papers for their class (without the assistance of the writing center...THANK YOU VERY MUCH!)...so...now I have to get an 8-10 page paper written a full week early so I can have an English major at the writing center go over it and make sure it is in proper APA format and grammatically correct?? Oh, and I have to turn it into the writing center the DAY AFTERI get home from China.
      I really should stop complaining and be grateful. Most of my peers in class are working jobs, taking care of families, and keeping a household running. I got it easy in comparison. So, Michele shall take off her "WHINING CAP", put on her "big girl panties" and just deal! I have 4 more weeks of this class...half way through...I can and will get through this class!I'm NO quitter...and "Dr. EGOMANIAC" isn't going to scare me off with his PhD and snide remarks. I grew up in Detroit for goodness sake, AND I packed up and moved to China....NAH ..."I ain't scared...I AM WOMAN...HEAR ME ROAR!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011-Shopping and Lunch!

Today did not start out so great. My computer is running WAY TOO SLOW. It has something to do with my proccessor...it runs at full capacity (and it shouldn't...according to Mark). I had to do some homework, so slow or not I have to use it. Oh, and when I say slow...I mean really slow...like taking 10-15 minutes to load a web page! Mark said he'll send Mr. Shen back to pick it up around 11:00am to take back to work so the IT guy at work can take a look at it. So, I do research...waiting...waiting...it takes quite some time but I somehow manage to get a few things done.
Val and I decided at mahjong yesterday that we are meeting at 11:00am to go over to see a vendor that comes monthly selling his wares of Chinese goods (handbags, jewelry boxes, scarfs, etc...) So, as I head downstairs...Mr .Shen is arriving to pick up the computer. We head back up to the apartment and I give him the computer and he asks where am I going? I tell him that Val and I are headed over to Bialing Mansions (another apartment complex where we play mahjong) he says he'll take us before heading back. Score...we don't have to walk in this humid, hot, sticky weather (it's already 87 degrees out). So, we get dropped off and go to see what the offerings are from "David the Silk Man"
There are a few other ladies from the EAS there. There is a lunch at Heidi's at 12:00 and we plan on heading to that after shopping. So, when we were getting ready to start our walk over (it's just about a mile away) one of the ladies offers us a ride because she has her driver with her. Woo-Hoo! Another unplanned ride...love it! So. off we go to Heidi's. It's a nice little European cafe that has a great menu with many offerings. It was a really enjoyable lunch. I met a couple of ladies I hadn't met,and it was just a lot of laughter and chatting! Here is a table shot:

Val and I headed back...no ride this time and it was HOT and a bit humid. About halfway way home, we were both sweating pretty good! Let me just say...if this is "Spring" in China...I am sure glad I am NOT staying here for the summer! Unfortunately...Val is! :( From what everyone says...summertime is pretty miserable here...VERY hot and VERY humid....No thank you, I'll spend my summer in Michigan! We said our goodbyes and parted ways. I am just hoping my computer is working when Mark gets home with it...I need to do some school work.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday, May17,2011-Getting ready....

Yes, it is that time that I start the planning/packing for my trip home to the good ole' USA! I do believe I have one full suitcase of souvenirs, trinkets, and gifts for folks back home. I am sure I will be "yanked" at customs to make sure I am not bringing back any "illegal" items (i.e., replicated handbags, watches, electronics, designer items...etc...) Search away...I have more Chinese made trinkets, tourist items, and memorabilia than I care to think about!
I head home June 4th, and as much as I am looking forward to it, I feel a bit of sadness too. I will miss my wonderful husband a whole LOT, and the new friends that I have made while here in China. I probably am really going to miss the Tai-Tai outings and just the general "sisterhood" I have found in these great ladies. It's only going to be 4 months that I am away, but it's also changing a lifestyle that I have become accustomed to living. I like living with my husband, I like spending days exploring this beautiful city of Suzhou, I like spending Tuesday afternoons playing mahjong, I like having lunches with my new friends, I like playing poker at Ollies, and mostly, I like that I am not committed to a job and can focus my attention on school. Heading back home and working this summer is not going to be easy. While I do miss my co-workers, and my job, it has been so very nice to be able to concentrate on my studies. Oh well, I've done it before and I can do it again. The plus side is, I do not have to commit to working any more than I want to. That is a definite plus to going contingent. I do know I want to work...to keep my skills up, earn some money, and see people at work who I haven't seen since leaving.At least I will be working on my terms.
School work calls before I head out this afternoon for mahjong...till next time....

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mark tries "needlework"

For all of you who have been inquiring about Mark….he went to the clinic and they did put him on some steroids. We went back last Saturday for a follow-up and I was able to speak with the doctor. I asked about putting him on an anti-viral along with the steroid regimen. So, after some discussion, it was decided to increase the steroids and put him on an anti-viral.
Mark has a colleague at work, who is certified in Chinese medicine. She prodded him all week about going to the Chinese doctor for some good old Chinese medicine to help him with the Bell’s Palsy. So, on Friday…he relented and went to the hospital.
Here is a picture of him receiving one of his “treatment”:

Yep…Acupuncture! He said that they also hooked it to some electrode thing, so he had electric muscle stimulation. They also did some “cupping” therapy.

Cupping therapy is the method of using glass or plastic cups to create localized pressure by a vacuum. The Chinese have been doing this since ancient times by using heat inside glass or bamboo cups. Nowadays, cupping sets use suction to create the vacuum. The vacuum inside the cups causes the blood to form in the area and help the healing in that area.

Ancient Chinese medicine have believed that the body contains "Meridians". These meridians are pathways in the body which the energy of life called Qi ("chi") flows through. It flows through every body part, tissue, and organ. Cupping therapy is mainly performed on one's back because there are five meridians on your back. When these meridians are opened, the internal energy is able to flow through the whole body.

Another healing aspect of cupping therapy is through the release of toxins in your body. The suction from the cups can penetrate deep into your tissues causing the tissues to release harmful toxins. It triggers the lymphatic system, clears the blood vessels, and stretches and activates the skin.

Cupping therapy has been found in ancient records dating back 3500 years and it is still used today by many alternative medicine practitioners. New advancements in technology and materials have been integrated with cupping therapies and its uses now range for many different treatments and applications.

He will be having these treatments for the next couple of weeks, 3X’s a week. He no longer has any pain in his neck; behind his ear, and he is able to blink the left (side affected) eye. So, these are all good things. Let’s hope that between the Western medicine regimen, and the Eastern alternative therapy, Mark get’s the left side of his face back to normal.
Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. Like Mark says, it is more annoying than anything else, and he really hates that he has to use a straw to drink anything so he doesn’t drool down his chin! This is from a man who NEVER takes medicine, and never uses a straw either. So, we will wait and see. Recovery from this can take weeks to months, you just never know. I know he is hoping for a speedy recovery, as am I. Till next time….

A nice day in the gardens...

The Tai-Tai outing on Wednesday, May 10th consisted of visiting the Lingering Garden…
>With a history of more than 400 years, the Lingering Garden has changed hands several times. Each owner did his best to perfect the garden. It was first built in 1593 during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) by a retired official named Xu Tai. During the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911), it was bought by Liu Shu. As a calligraphy lover, he carved masterpieces on both sides of the corridors of the buildings. He had also collected unusually-shaped stones in the garden. The succeeding owners followed his model when doing restoration work. Almost demolished in the 1930s, the garden was repaired sponsored by the government and then opened to the public.
Like other famous gardens in Suzhou, the Lingering Garden seeks to create stunning natural landscapes within limited space. In this garden, domiciles, ancestral temples and private gardens are included. Buildings, trees, and flowers blend harmoniously with their surroundings. The garden can generally be divided into four parts: the central, eastern, western and northern parts according to the style of the buildings.
It was a bit chilly and we had a bit of drizzily rain, but that did not stop us. Here are a few pictures of the garden…

After the Lingering Garden, we headed off for a traditional Chinese lunch. Then, it was off to the West Garden Temple…
West Garden Temple is the largest temple in Suzhou City. It blends garden art and temple art. In the temple you can see the ancient trees flourish, the temple houses layer upon layer, the bending river, the green grass, hear the birds singing and smell the fragrant flowers. What a splendid spectacle it is!
Now let's come to the scenic spots located on the middle axis line of West Garden Temple. From south to north along the line are Arches (Paifang) of three rooms, Mountain Gate, Jingang (diamond) Temple, Fangsheng Pond, Daxiong (grand) Palace, and Sutra Collection Pavilion. When you come out of the Jingang Temple, you can find Arhat Temple on your left and Kwan-yin Temple on your right.
The Arhat Temple was constructed at the end of Ming Dynasty where there are five hundred arhats of different names, different facial expressions, and who maintain the characteristics of a round face and plump body. They are all seated with clothes of good texture. These five hundred arhats were carved and painted with special care by the skillful craftsman in the southern area of China. Viewing the whole you will find they are of different ages from old to young, and of different personalities from lionhearted to kindhearted. But these characteristic arhats all have one thing in common: they are regarded as the symbol of power and luck by everyone in all walks of life containing the deep connotation of Chinese Buddhism and Chinese Culture. The whole architecture represents the consummate craft of sculpture from the southern area of China, which belonged to the first-rate sculpture of Arhat in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It is architecture unique to the West Garden Temple.
In the center of the Arhat Temple there is a sculpture of Kwan-yin 13 meters (about 43 feet) high carved by fragrant camphor timber, which has thousands of eyes and hands. The main focus in the temple must be a peculiar figure of Buddha beside the Kwan-yin who has four faces said to represent the four famous mountains of Buddhism: Mt. Jiuhuashan in Anhui, Mt. Emeishan in Sichuan, Mt. Putuoshan in Zhejiang and Mt. Wutaishan in Shanxi. In addition, inside the Arhat Temple there are two well-known sculptures called 'Mad Monk' and 'Jigong Monk' whose words and deeds are also praised by people though they are not the traditional arhats and hence got the name of the 'Live Arhats'. The Arhat Temple with five hundred arhats is the only one in southeastern littoral area.

Here are some pictures of that lovely temple:

It was a very nice day. The weather actually was not too bad…at least it was a bit cooler than it had been…and it only rained a couple of times for a few minutes each time.
Here is a picture of my Finnish friends that I have met while living here in China…they are a great bunch of gals!! Left to right..is Susanna, Sari, Raiha, and Sari. Sari even decided to be funny and give Susanna “Rabbit Ears”

So, I must get back to school work. This class is a bear with an instructor who demands perfection and grading has been pretty harsh! A couple of people have already dropped the class and there is rumblings of more casualties to leave. I refuse to be a quitter and I will NOT let him intimidate or scare me….I picked up and moved to China …not a whole lot scares me any longer!!

Credit must be given to http://www.travelchinaguide.com for the great descriptions of the gardens. They do a much better job on the history than I ever could!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

.Royal Wedding...... Bell's Palsy!

The week-end came and went quickly. Friday was spent with friends at the British Pub "The Drunken Chef" for the Royal wedding festivities. We had a lot of fun checking out some of those hats! LOL! We had a nice English dinner, it was a buffet with many offerings. Roast beef, Roast pork, Yorkshire pudding, shepherd's pie,salad, vegetables, and apple crumble for dessert. I was so full from dinner, I skipped dessert. Sorry, forgot to take the camera....so no pics of the lovely English spread.
On Saturday, Mark and I made the usual trek to Casa Zoe for breakfast. We ran into Pam and Jim there. We run into each other a lot since we frequent the same places and live in the same general area. They were both at the Drunken Chef the night before also. Mark and I then decided to head over to the produce market for some fruit and vegetables. It was pretty warm and the sun was actually shining. By the time we got there,(it's about a 2 mile walk) we were both pretty hot and sweaty...and for those of you who know me...I DO NOT like to be hot and sweaty, AT ALL! So , we picked up what we needed then before walking back, decided to "cool off" with a gelato. It was yummy...a nice small lemon gelato to cool off and then journey back to the apartment. We were going to make dinner, but then Mark decided we needed to go check out Piccola Italiano over at the Li Gong Di by Jinji Lake. Okay...so we caught a cab at dinner time, and headed over. This place is owned by a man who used to have a place Mark frequented quite a bit on Bar street, but had closed. I had heard a couple of weeks back that the same owners owned this Italian eatery so Mark wanted to check it out. We are glad we did. Shirley (owner's wife) recognized Mark and was very happy to see him! She told him she had wanted to contact him, but had no way of getting a hold of him. Mark then gave her his card, and they chatted. She informed him that they still had the same chef and Mark said it looked like the menu still had quite a few of his favorite items. Let me just say, the meal was excellent. I had a chicken dish with asparagus and blueberry sauce(I know...it sounds weird, but it was fabulous!) mark had a veal dish and said it was wonderful, just like he remembered. Shirley even bought us a drink and we enjoyed those cocktails while sitting outside. I then received a text from Ollie about poker that evening. Ollie's is directly across from where we had just had our delectable dinner...so I ask my most wonderful husband..."Do you mind if I play poker this evening?" He of course does not, so he goes back to the apartment and I head over to Ollie's to play cards. I had a good time...except I busted out at number 3 {they were only paying top 2 finishers :( } But, I had a fun evening.
Sunday was spent doing homework (after my Awesome husband made me pancakes for breakfast!)and relaxing. We watched a movie (No Strings Attached) and just hung around the apartment. Mark is off on Monday because of a Chinese holiday (I do not know which holiday) so we just hung out at home. He started to practice his saxophone, and then informed me he can't play it right because his lips "aren't working". After chuckling, and telling him it's probably because he hasn't practiced much, he says no..."my mouth won't work right." I look at him..make him take off his glasses, and then tell him to smile at me....UH OH...his smile is lopsided. Now, he had complained of neck pain the day before and after refusing to take anything for it (my husband absolutely refuses to take any "tablets" for anything), but he came to me later in the evening and said what should I take? I knew the pain was probably pretty bad for him to want to take something for it. I gave him some motrin and we had gone to bed not too long after. He said it was still a bit achy that morning, but my husband is not a complainer, so it's always hard to assess how his pain really is. Anyway, I ask him does his face feel numb, can he close his eye on that left side, raise his eyebrow, etc... (the nurse in me is doing a neuro exam) I think...hmmmm looks like Bell's Palsy to me. So, I head to the computer and do a bit of research...yeah..it's Bell's Palsy. I ask him to go to the doctor... of course it's No, I'll see how I feel in the morning! Really? SO...where is my husband now this next morning? Heading to the clinic....because now it appears to be affecting his eye on the left side as well. I hope they can give him some steroids and/or anti-viral meds to help with the swelling of the facial nerve that is affected. It's true what is said about this affliction...it comes on suddenly! So, I sit here waiting to hear from him as he heads to the clinic (He HAD to go to the office first..that workaholic husband of mine!)Just keep good thoughts...okay? I'll keep you posted.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday, April 25,2011

It's Monday evening. I had a wonderful week-end with my incredible husband and I am kind of sad. I miss my family. My Mom and sister went to surprise my Aunt in Minnesota for her 70th. birthday...I was unable to go because I am here in China. I have not heard from my son who has moved to Atlanta, Georgia...and that weighs heavy on my mind, and my heart. The reasons are many and far too complicated and complex to go into here.
I will be home in the USA in approximately 39 days. WOW! The time has flown by, and I can't believe I have been here for almost 5 months. The plus side is, I actually have enjoyed this fantastic experience and have made many friends and I will miss them when I go home for 4 months.
Now ...on to the week-end. On Friday, Mark took me to the Intercontinental Hotel for an exquisite steak dinner! To say it was OUTSTANDING is an understatement! You are talking to a "Meat and Potatoes" Midwestern gal here....she misses (and CRAVES!) a good steak dinner every now and then. That ain't easy in China, folks....So we splurged and paid for it dearly...but worth every penny if you ask me (or Mark!) :) We then ventured over to their Cigar bar so Mark could indulge in a cigar and we could have a nitecap to top off our evening. It was a great "date night" and I am one lucky gal!
Saturday and Sunday we just relaxed (I had NO homework, school is over and resumes May 4th). We went to Casa Zoe for breakfast on Saturday, then hung out at home. Sunday Mark made me pancakes for breakfast (YUMMY...he makes the BEST pancakes!) then we went to Auchan (EXTREMELY large grocery and superstore kind of store,... think Meijer's or Walmart) for groceries and a new coffeepot. We needed a new coffee pot because I broke the carafe of the old one by leaving it on the hot burner, forgetting to turn it off...and POOF..cracked all along the bottom! Yeah...I'm such a brainiac arent I?? :( While there, I had Mark take a picture (I didn't have my camera with me) of this because it always makes me laugh and grimace at the same time!
Yes it's Lay's potato chips...with the strangest of flavors...Hot and Sour Fish flavor, Blueberry flavor, and Lemon Green Tea flavor...doesn't that sound appetizing and appealing?? "BLECH" There are more weird flavors...I just happened to get those three in a row and thought a picture would be fun!! :)

SO, that was done. A nice, leisurely week-end.
We went to Malone's for dinner this evening (it's Monday!)and had our staple burger and beer for the week. A good burger as usual while Mark had a conference call. It was a balmy 74 degrees out, so we were outside. A nice evening. I also called my friend Celeste to say goodbye and safe travels as she is leaving tomorrow to head home to San Diego till August. I won't see her till I get back in October. I will miss her!! She has been such a good friend to me and I am lucky to have met her...I can't even think about her leaving at the end of the year without being very sad....at least we'll have the Fall before she heads home for good. Time to close and bid adieu till next time....

Friday, April 22, 2011

Class over...

I know that my blog postings have been lax, but it has been for good reason. My school work was taking a lot of my time. I turned in my PowerPoint presentation and my last paper for my class. Thank goodness my wonderful husband is a "PowerPoint Whiz" because I wouldn't have been able to create such a cool presentation without his help doing all the work with the graphics and placement. Now, for a much needed week break. The next class starts May 4th. (we have access April 28th for reading and checking for assignments). I am in need of this break.
It rained all day yesterday, and today doesn't look like it's going to be much better. It's very cloudy and hazy out. I am supposed to meet my friend Celeste for coffee later this afternoon, let's hope I don't have to walk in the rain!
I was looking out the apartment window yesterday....and took a shot of something that is common here, but you don't see people carry things like this at home:
It must have been heavy because he set the load down in the middle between crossing the street. I am still amazed at the loads these people carry like that, or on bikes. It's a sight to see that's for sure!

On Monday, I had to deal with Mark's bag being delivered from the airline. He made it back from Germany (through Rome) but his bag did not. So, around 3:00 in the afternoon, doorbell. I go to the door, and the man starts speaking Chinese and has a paper in his hand, shows me ...so I figure ok...I'll sign for it. More speaking of Chinese and I am standing there shaking my head saying "I don't speak Chinese" (in English)...oh and as a side note I can count from 1 to 99 and tell time in Chinese...Thank you very much! Too bad he didn't want to know the time or quiz me on my excellent counting skills! :) Ok,this is getting me no where...so what do I do? Well, I call Mr. Shen of course! I have spoken of Mr. Shen before, he is our driver, fixer, problem solver, speaker of Chinese...and quite frankly our savior on many, many occasions! I do not think I would have survived (sanely) without Mr. Shen. So I call him and tell him I need him to speak to this man about,....hmmm...I don't know but I hand the phone to the nice Chinese gentleman and he speaks to Mr. Shen. So, after a few minutes I get back on the phone and Mr. Shen informs me he needs Mark's passport number. Oh, I know where that is..go to get it..NOT THERE! So, call my wonderful husband to inform him that this gentleman has been her for over 10 minutes and I need his passport but it's not where it should be. Mark has it with him...great! So, I get the number from him go to write it on the paper...no ...more speaking Chinese at me and obviously this has still not solved our dilemma of what I need to do to get this man to be on his way and take possession of the bag! So, call Mark again...the man needs something else...Mark hands the phone to one of his colleagues who speaks to the gentleman for a few extended minutes and then... ok here's my phone being handed back to me, he writes down the passport number hand me one of the carbon copies of his quadrupled copies (I don't know what it is over here, but this country LOVES carbon copies and they love to stamp things with a red stamp!!) So, I have the bag, my lovely carbon copy, red-stamped receipt, and off he goes. I get back on the phone with Mark, who is chuckling and he asks "do you know what he wanted?" Ummmm... NO! That is why I've made phone calls to get this resolved. He explains to me that the man was trying to let me know Mark's shaving gel got confiscated on the train because it was pressurized! Really?? The same can that got transported on 4 different pressurized planes...got confiscated on the unpressurized train from Shanghai to Suzhou? Seriously? Well, welcome to China...and if you want to know what time it is ...I can tell you in both English and Chinese!!

Friday, April 15, 2011


Don't ask me why these photos wouldn't load for the previous post...BUT HERE THEY ARE:

The ladies enjoying their Indian lunch

Table shot of the group

Celeste and Pam (two of my favorite ladies!)

Group photo...the poor workers at the Indian restaurant ("Namaste")more and more cameras were given to them so everybody got their own picture!

So here is those lovely little "dragon eyes"

Oh and the grapes....(yes, I'll be eating grapes a lot over this next week!

The down side....

Oh yes...there are down sides to living in a foreign land. The biggest one (besides the language barrier, missing family, favorite foods being unavailable, missing friends from home,...you get the picture...)is making friends in this foreign land of China and having to say goodbye to them because they are going back to the their "homelands".
I attended a lunch for Christine (part of my "Four Friend Posse") yesterday. She and her husband (along with her dog Charley) are heading back to the good ole' USA next Wednesday. I am going to miss her something terrible. She is an absolute hoot to be around and we always have so much fun together on our outings! The plus side, Christine and her husband are going to Michigan! Yes, the greater Detroit area too. We will still be able to see each other this summer when I get home and spend time together! She is not originally from there, but that is where her husband's company wants him...so "Welcome to Michigan!" I lucked out on that one, but I do know it will be extremely difficult to say good-bye to others as they leave and not be able to spend time with them regularly. I can't even think about it without getting a bit teary-eyed. So many of these women have helped me to navigate this adventure by showing me where things are, how to get around, including me in outings and activities, and just being there to let me know I am not alone. What a sisterhood it is here! So, it's really sad to have to say good-bye.
Okay..... pictures are supposed to be here, but I have NO IDEA why the picture icon to "insert image" is not working but I can tell you this...it's annoying me! Sometimes technology just makes me crazy!! Hopefully I can get them to post in a different posting. I will continue to try.
After the lunch, Mr . Shen drove Pam and I to the local fruit/ vegetable market. I needed to get some produce and Pam is always up to go places! :) So, off we go. I picked up some apples, grapes, and clementines. I also got some peppers and potatoes. Oh, and eggs! Incredibly large fresh brown eggs! Again...pics but alas, I am unable to post them. The funny thing was, my bag was extremely heavy, so I told Pam, "I think I have more stuff in here than I should...my bag weighs a ton!" I check, and sure enough I have a bag of 5-6 apples (they are huge!)Plus, the bag of two that I bought. So, I take them back to the vendor...smiles and thank you's! :) We get what we need...off we go to head home. Drop Pam off, then to the apartment for me. Thank Mr. Shen for the safe ride, and off he goes. I get up to the apartment and I discover more things in my bag that I did not purchase! There is another bag of grapes (enough to feed an Army) and some little yellow/brown things (I have NO CLUE what these are!) I feel bad because I did not purchase these items and they ended up in my bag. The only thing I can think of, is one of the lovely girls at the fruit stand put them in my bag, and I put my purchases in too. Well, I'll be eating A LOT of fruit this week!
I had Chinese language class also. Ashley came at 7:00PM and we had class (Mark is in Germany, so this is solo) I take the opportunity to show Ashley my "accidental fruit" to inquire what exactly are these? She tells me they are "Long yan" (Dragon eyes) Oh...really? Hmmmm...she encourages me to try them...and what do you know? They are good! Again...pictures to follow when I can get them to load! So, it was a good day...fun and productive... and I am a fruit absconder!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Homework Sunday.....(BLECH!)

I have been working on a paper that is due tomorrow. I've had all the research and things I needed but, I just didn't want to do it. I just want to be done with this class! it seems redundant; writing about the same thing..over and over again. I need a break from school! Thank goodness there is a week break after this one. I just detest when a class has the imbalance of over 60% of your grade depends on the last three weeks worth of work in an 8 week class. oh and the best part? I have a power point project presentation due for the last week of class (due on Thurs, April 21st.) and I have never used power point for anything! Yes, that's right folks....Michele doesn't know the first thing about how to use it! Thank goodness Mark is an "ARTS and CHARTS" kind of guy sometimes for his job....because he will be doing "helping" me with this project for sure!
For other news... on Friday, I went with the craft group down to Ping Jiang Lu street( the heck with homework!) for an authentic taste of city life in old Suzhou, a stroll down Pingjiang Street's flagstone lanes is probably best. Quiet, leafy and slow-paced, the street is lined with old Chinese houses as well as restaurants and teahouses serving traditional food and drink, upscale cafés catering to the historical chic crowd, as well as a few hostels. The Mingtown Hostel was very nice! We went in to check it out and see what we discovered:
The courtyard of the hostel

family outside their house along the canal

Group picture (except me...I'm taking the pic!)

A canal shot

It was a fun day, and as our day started winding down, we were enjoying a cup of coffee at a little cafe, enjoying the beautiful weather. We were getting the usual stares and people taking pictures of us...when all of a sudden we see a group with a BIG video camera and I say to the group (we are now down to 5 of us, as a few had to go for other obligations)"Hey, I think now were going to be on TV!" Sure enough they come over and explain that they are from CCTV 9 (Chinese English speaking channel) and they work for the travel portion of the show. They wanted to know why we were there...and simultaneously we all say "WE LIVE HERE" Oh, and so the interview begins! Yes, we are going to be part of a travel diary about life in Suzhou! They actually broadcast on the internet as well, so when I know it's on I will definitely post the link. Yeah, a bunch of Western women in China, talking to an interviewer about the lovely city of Suzhou! Go figure!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Oh the (mis)adventures of baking in China!!

So, I ask my friend Pam, what can I bring to the going away luncheon being given for one of the women leaving in the next three weeks? She says a desert would be great. No problem....so bought a small cake mix (8x8 pan size) and figured I'd make it this evening.... Luncheon tomorrow, 12:00 Now, I haven't really used the oven because it's not exactly clear on what these pictures represent on the oven knob. Mark (the darling husband has toasted bread in it and has made his favorite "cheese on toast". I have not had the desire to try to figure it out.
Well, he is here, so I figure we can make this a joint effort. So, I mix (by hand...no electric mixer) the cake batter (in a stock pot...I have NO mixing bowls here), and pour it into my 8x8 pan. I ask mark to convert the Celsius to Fahrenheit on the oven, so oven pre-heated and ready to go. Set the timer (brought one from the USA)and now we wait....After about 15 minute I ask him "does it smell like it's burning to you?" he says "no...smells like it's cooking." Okay...no light for the oven, so we can't see in. Don't want to open the door for fear the cake will not rise and let all the heat out...I just must be overly paranoid.
After about 32 minutes ....DING DING... timer goes off....Here is the result...................

YES...IT'S BLACK!!! A lovely "burnt to a crisp" yellow cake!! Just cooking he says...back to the drawing board!!! Oh, did I forget to mention how much i love living here and dealing with the appliances??

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Some pretty pictures from Europe....

I figured I should post some pictures from my trip...
Standing on the oldest bridge in Venice..A bridge that spans the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy is known as the Rialto Bridge and is the most famous in the city besides the Piazza di San Marco. This single span bridge in Venice was designed by Antonio da Ponte and was completed in 1591, eventually becoming one of the architectural icons in the city of Venice, Italy.
The stunning Rialto Bridge has three walkways, two along the outside railings and a wider central walkway that leads between rows of small shops. From the outer walkways you have a beautiful view of the Grand Canal

That's me on the bridge...
A view from a bridge in Amsterdam...
Amsterdam is a beautiful city too!
having lunch at an outdoor cafe in Amsterdam.
We were fortunate to have beautiful weather the whole week. We ate ALL our meals outside. These are two cities that I would highly recommend people to see if given the opportunity. They are full of history and just absolutely beautiful.