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!) 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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. 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 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 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'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 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.