Sunday, November 19, 2017

Brrrrr, Football, Cheerleading, Thanksgiving with Kids, New Mattress


It started to get really cold this week.  Thank goodness the heat it is on, but we still have to supplement the radiator heat from the city with the electric heaters.  It was down to 19 degrees F. (-7 Celius) on Saturday morning.  That is the coldest we have had it here this year so far.  It wasn't so bad the first part of the week, and it will get warmer tomorrow and over the next few days,  but then it will get cold again.  Winter is on its way.  Glad that I brought equipment to handle it.


Last week, we had played a game in our classes that introduced American Football to the students.  Some of David's students were really interested in learning how to play football, so they ordered a regulation size football from Taobao (China's Amazon), got permission to play on the school playground (an all purpose field that you can play basketball and soccer on) and set up a time for students to meet there.  I went along to take pictures.  Nine students showed up, eight guys and one girl.  David played quarterback for both teams as he taught them how to play "two-hand touch."  It didn't take too long for them to catch on and they were having a blast doing it.  The girl even caught the ball!  One guy had some good hands and was becoming an interception champion.  It was so fun to watch and see them enjoying it.


The university has different activities for the students to do in some spare time.  A few weeks ago, it was a choir competition.  Then there was a dance competition.  This week was a cheerleading competition.   They took the whole day and did team after team after team of competition.  David went over to the stadium to watch.  He had several students performing in it.  I had work to do here at the apartment, so I stayed nice and warm while he almost froze on his way to the stadium.

He was amazed at the uniforms and the dance routines.  We're not sure, but we think that the winning team was able to perform at a basketball game that was played later that afternoon in the stadium.

Thanksgiving with Kids

We were asked by Wang Jing, one of the other English teachers at the university if we wanted to do a little Thanksgiving presentation for a class of young students that are learning English.  It is Wang Jing's aunt that runs a private school for students to learn English.  We decided we wanted to do it, so we scaled down a power point that we had used for our English classes and went to the class on Friday evening.

The students ranged in ages from six or seven to one girl who was twelve years old.  Some of the kids were not afraid to speak to us, but others were.  Part of it was because they were in awe of these Americans who were coming. We showed them the power point and then sang the old classic, "Mr. Turkey" that I learned in Primary from Sister Sumner.  I will always be thankful for learning that song.  We sang the song once for them and then taught them how to say, "Gobble."  When they had the word down, David and I would sing the lines and them point to the students, one at a time so they could sing the "Gobble" part.  They had so much fun!  Then we talked about writing thank you notes.  Wang Jing's aunt had some paper plates that the students could write it on.
I didn't learn this guy's name, but he was a crack-up.  He really liked doing the "Gobble" part.

Doris is her English name.  She was rather quiet, but so sweet.

I didn't learn this little guys name, but he wrote that all himself.  They did have words on the wall that they could copy but I was still amazed how well they did.

Michael is Wang Jing's son.  He went to the US with her when she was studying in South Carolina.  He was in Kindergarten and then first grade, so his English is pretty good.  He rather likes David.  Wang Jing was telling us that after he came home from his first day of Kindergarten in South Carolina, he was so amazed that there was a toilet in the classroom that they could use anytime they needed to go.  There was also a drinking fountain that they could go get a drink from when they were thirsty.  In China, you go to the bathroom when the teacher takes the whole class and you go get a drink when the whole class does.

This is Ma Mong, my special friend.  She is twelve and plays the violin REALLY WELL!  She also speaks pretty good English.  She wanted to write to her parents that she was thankful for letting her play the violin.  Wang Jing was busy, so I was helping her.  I told her that I had wanted to learn violin when I was about her age, but learned piano instead.  We also told her about our grandson, Jacob,who is learning the violin.  She was really excited about that also.  She had to tell me about the violin books that she uses that are really good.  She asked Wang Jing to look it up on her phone so Ma Mong could tell me what series of books we should get for Jacob so that he can learn to play the violin really well.

And a picture with both of us and Ma Mong. 
Cute girl.  She was one of the younger ones.

David and I with all the students.  They are showing off the thank you notes they made.

This cute little guy is, Yu Yi.  On his plate is the life cycle of a Thanksgiving turkey!  It was hilarious!  

After the activities and a few refreshments, Wang Jing called a taxi for us to take us home.  Ma Mong walked out with Jing and us.  She seemed to be really attached to us.  Such a sweet girl!  We did fear a little for our lives because the taxi driver seemed angry.  After Wang Jing told him where to take us, he sped off up the street.  He only slowed down when he had to.  We did make it home safely, but didn't understand his anger.  So uncommon here in China to encounter that.

New Mattress

We have not been happy with the bed here in China.  It is hard as a rock and the old mattress topper that was here four years ago has gotten old and flat.  We have been trying to live with it, but I have too many sleepless nights where I wake up aching in my hips and back.  We had talked to Eva about getting a new topper and she thought we could get one at the old market, but we couldn't see what we needed the last time we were there. After Wednesday night's really bad sleep, we decided to ask Andrew if he could help us order a foam mattress topper off the internet.

Andrew suggested that we go to IKEA.  Yes, they have an IKEA store here in Jinan!!  He couldn't go until Saturday evening.  We offered to buy him supper before we left, so we met him at the canteen.  He got a taxi for us and started out for IKEA.  It was a long drive, made longer by the fact that the traffic was terrible.  Drive time... need I say more?

We arrived safely at IKEA and then had to wander through the store, stopping several times to ask if we were on the right path.  We found the place for mattresses.  They had some thin toppers and then they had foam mattresses.  After looking at the options, we decided to get a 14 cm memory foam mattress.  IKEA delivers! Andrew had a membership app and was able to get us about a ten percent discount on it!  We also decided to get some decent pillows and a larger comforter.  Most of the comforters here only come to just over the edge of the bed, so after you put a couple of bodies underneath it, the cold air can get in from the sides.  The cost for a comfortable nights sleep here in China?  $300!  (1994 RMB)  The mattress will be delivered on Monday afternoon.  My body can hardly wait!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Brace, Go My Son, Football Game, HEAT!


Monday morning, I found my way to the hospital to meet with Dr. Tricia and the orthopedic surgeon.  The office was super busy, so she gave me a chair to sit on while I waited for her.  They have an office that all the doctors in her department and all the doctors in the respiratory department on that floor meet in.  It was pretty noisy.  When she finally had time to get the orthopedic doctor to come, he looked at the x-rays.  Fortunately there is no broken bone!  Really relieved to hear that. There was still a lot of pain though, so he said I should get a brace, use an anti-inflammatory cream and also get some shock wave therapy for it.

By the time this was decided, the physical therapy department (where I needed to go for the shock wave treatment) was closed for lunch, so I wouldn't be able to have it done until they opened up again at 1:30 p.m.  Dr. Tricia went down to the cafeteria in the hospital and brought up some lunch for  us to eat in her office.  One of the containers that she had brought up was a very, very spicy dish.  I don't do hot and spicy.  I took one bite and my mouth was burning.  I told her I couldn't eat any more of it.  She gave me the other dish that was not so spicy and when she had eaten a little more than half of the spicy dish, declared that she couldn't eat any more of it because it was too spicy for her also.

My companion for the next few weeks.  It does help with the pain.  The doctor just said to go to a sporting goods store to find one, but we would need someone along with us that speaks Chinese to help us. We called up Andrew and let him know what I needed.  Andrew found one online for 48 RMB (about $7.25) and brought it on Friday when it came.  It does help with the pain and keeps it stabilized.
David ate lunch at our apartment and then came to meet us at the hospital.  She wanted him to meet with a traditional Chinese Medicine doctor because Dr. Tricia thought David looked pale and she thinks some of the traditional medicine will help build him back up.  The other doctor came in, looked at my hand and then David's hands and skin and then prescribed a traditional medicine for him to drink, and one for me to soak my hand in.  David's medicine tastes terrible and I'm glad that mine is one that I can just soak my hand and wrist in!


In our classes this week, we have been showing the students about American football.  We have a power point that explains about football and how much a part of our culture it is.  Then we play a game with two teams, where they have to answer questions about the power point.  We have a team captain who asks a question.  When someone wants to try and answer the question, the captain throws the toy football (we brought a couple of them over with us so that we could play this game) to the person and then they answer the question when they catch the ball.  Then we have a very short football field that we have drawn on the chalkboard and "move the ball" down the field.  It has been a great hit in our classes.  Some of the boys want to try and play a flag football game, so they have arranged a time to play on the "playground," purchased on the internet a regular football, and let other students who are interested in playing know the time and location.  We will see how that goes on Wednesday.

"Go My Son"

David has been teaching some volunteers from some of his classes to sing the song, Go My SonHe has been able to get four or five from most of his classes to come and learn the song and the hand motions.  We have had practices, in the afternoon and evening at different times all week long.  On Thursday, the day we have classes in classrooms next to each other, he invited my class in so that we could listen to them sing.  They have had fun with it.  We had a practice tonight for the class that will be singing on Monday in class.  They said they have practiced and sang it so much that their roommate, who is not in the class, has told them they can't sing it in the dorm anymore!  They still want to sing it.
A group of David's students practicing "Go My Son."

Two dinners

Kim and Alan Malan, the supervisors from BYU that run the China Teacher's Program, came this week to check on how we were doing and also go to some of the classes of the teachers. They didn't go to any of our classes, but they did go meet with the Foreign Languages Department heads.  We  were informed at lunch that we were invited to have dinner with Kang Ming and another Chinese English teacher and the Malan's that evening.  They ordered a LOT of food and when not all of it was eaten, they bagged it up and gave it to us so that it wasn't wasted. Shrimp dumplings are wonderful!

Thursday evening, we had arranged to have the Malan's and the other BYU teachers from SDNU come for a dinner at our campus.  Eva had helped us order the private room and order the dishes.  They all exclaimed over the choices to say how pleased they were with the food.  We had a fun visit also.  One more time, we take most of the leftovers home with us.
Some of the food left over from our meal with the Malan's and the other BYU teachers.  That soup was super delicious!

Dinner with Bob and Anna

Saturday, David and I spent most of the day in our apartment getting some assignments graded.  It was kind of a cold day and we didn't care to go out.  We did get a call from Bob and Anna and they wanted to come over and bring us some apples.  They also wanted to practice their English.  We sat and talked for about two and a half hours.  They invited us to come eat dinner with them, so we since we had eaten most of the leftovers from the dinners this week, we said we would go.

They took us to a restaurant that does Hot Pot the old fashioned way and Chinese BBQ.  We had a fun visit and then walked to a place that makes what they call, "Fried Yogurt."  It is pretty much flash frozen yogurt and it tastes pretty good.  It is frozen so hard that it takes quite a while for it to soften.  Otherwise it is pretty crispy.
Bob and Anna and the traditional Hot Pot.  There are coals under the water part to keep the water boiling.

Very excited for this coming week because...  THEY TURN ON THE HEAT ON WEDNESDAY!!!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Apartment Assignment, X-rays, Jinan Zoo

Apartment/Roommate Assignment
The in-class assignment that we gave our students this week was to furnish an apartment for $300.  We gave them a list of possible items along with the cost for each and then put them in groups of four.  They had to pretend that each person who was their roommate could not speak Chinese and that the only common language was English.  As I circulated the room, if I heard any Chinese being spoken, I would say, "Was that Chinese I heard?  Remember, your roommates can't understand you!"  They would titter as they looked at each other, but it really got them into using their English well.

It was also fun as I went around to each group and talked about what they were getting for their "apartment"; what things they saw as important and their reasons.  Probably the top priority on most of their lists was having air conditioning.  It hasn't been until recently that their dorms were equipped with that and the ability to have cool air in the summer and heat before the government allows the nation to turn on the radiators.  I think they like that...

One of the items on the list was curtains.  I listened to a group that had three girls and one boy in it argue about whether the curtains were necessary.  As I came around to listen to their group, the girls had just won the argument and were writing that on their list, so I asked what they had been talking about.  I just had to laugh when the boy insisted that the girls might need curtains, but he, as a boy didn't!

Another item of the list was pajamas.  One group that had one boy and three girls had on their list only three pajamas.  I asked who was going to go without pajamas and the boy spoke up.  He said he sleeps in the buff, so he doesn't need them!  In a different class, a group that had two boys and two girls only had two pajamas listed and the boys said that they didn't need pajamas.  I said I didn't need to know any more than that!  It was a fun activity with a lot of laughing and a lot of English being spoken!  Goal achieved!

X-rays at the Hospital
My left hand and wrist have been giving me a lot of pain, so Dr. Tricia (the doctor who helped me last time when I was here and landed in the hospital for ten days with blood clots) set up an appointment for me to meet with an old retired orthopedic surgeon for a consultation.  They have taken away this doctor's hospital privileges because of his age (he's 80 now), but some doctors will still bring him in on consultations because of his experience and knowledge.  He checked over my hand and did some poking and caused a great deal of pain.  Then he asked (though Dr. Tricia) if I had been injured.  I couldn't remember anything right off, but he considered it a serious situation and said that I needed an X-ray.

David had also been having pain in his ankle ever since we went to Red Leaf Valley.  We bought a brace for it and that helped some, but he was still having pain after almost two weeks, so the doctor also looked at his ankle.  He said that the problem with David's ankle was easy to fix and recommended having some physical therapy (a "shock wave" treatment) and then an anti-inflammatory cream to use.  He ankle has shown a lot of improvement.

They have young men that are pharmaceutical representatives that hang around the hospital and do favors for the doctors so that the doctors will listen to them about new drugs and things that come out.  Dr. Tricia called two of them and one of them took David to his physical therapy and the other took me to the basement where the X-ray machine was.  He got me signed in and it looked like I was to be about third or fourth in line, but when they called the next few people's names, they all insisted that I should be next!  They almost pushed me through the door! They were so kind to me and I thanked them as I came out and shook their hands.

So I got the X-ray, but it was going to be an hour before the X-ray was looked at and the results sent up to Dr. Tricia, so we went back to her office.  We were talking about how she would let us go home and then come back in a few days when a nurse came rushing and to say that there was an emergency with one of her patients, he was having a seizure.  She quickly said "Good-bye," as she ran down the hall and we assured her that we could find our way out.  We did.  I go back on Monday to find the results of the X-ray.  If they can't find something through that, they will order an MRI.

While I was getting ready for bed that night, I remembered that while we were in Guizhou for National Holiday, I had tripped on a rock that was in the pathway.  For some reason, the Chinese think that paving around a rock is beauty, so you have random rocks sticking out in the pathways.  When you are in a mass of people, it is hard to see those hazards.  I had scraped my knee and also had tried to break my fall with my left hand.  Now I understand why it has hurt so much!  I have had pain in that wrist from my arthritis so I had just assumed that it was a really bad flare up.  I actually brought the issue with my wrist up to Dr. Tricia to see if acupuncture would help it.  We'll see what the problem is tomorrow at my appointment.

Hot Pot Restaurant
Thursday evening, we had planned to go with some of the other BYU teachers to a "hot pot" restaurant. It is all the rage here in China and they say it has health benefits.  The Vietnamese man that meets with us on Sunday, Aaron, said he knew of a good restaurant south of the campus that those teachers teach at, so he led us there to enjoy Hot Pot. A hot pot restaurant has a heated basin of water or broth with spices and other things added to it.  You add the very thin sliced meats, tofu, and all sorts of veggies and cook  them as desired.  It was a fun evening.
The entrance to the Hot Pot Restaurant.
The heavy pan of water herbs and veggies was just put in front of us.  Below it is the hot plate to keep it hot.
The tiny table we all sat around.  The man to the left of the photo is Muhammed.  He comes from the Sudan and teaches Arabic at Shandong Normal University, where the others from BYU teach at.
A better look of the hot pot from above.

Aaron, our Vietnamese friend, did most of the cooking for us.  He's the expert!
Jinan Zoo
There are two students that we have been spending time with, Bob and Anna.  Bob is the son of Yi Bing, who is a friend of Eva's.  She went on a couple of adventures with us when we were here last time.  Bob and Anna want to improve their English so that they can hopefully go to study at Duke University in the US next year.  Bob's English is pretty good, but Anna's is not as good.  They are boyfriend/girlfriend.  Bob was able to pass the English test a few weeks ago, but Anna was not able to.  So the solution is to hang out with these two "old Americans" and learn better English. They really are a nice couple of kids.  They invited us to dinner on Monday at a nice restaurant.

We told them that we wanted to go visit the Jinan Zoo, so yesterday we met at the bus stop that we needed, and rode to the zoo together.  Our particular interest was to see the pandas.  Jinan Zoo has pandas and we wanted to see them.  The zoo is not particularly big, but it still takes some time to get around.  There is an amusement park near the entrance.  We made our way through the zoo, looking at exhibits that were of interest to us, all the time getting closer to the pandas.

They have two giant pandas in the zoo.  One is a recent addition to the zoo because their old one died.  They keep them apart and the panda on the left seemed to be trying to get the other panda's attention.  It was funny to watch.  No wonder everyone thinks they are so cuddly, that fur was just as fluffy as could be!
The two giant pandas.  I guess I was a little surprised at how big they were.
They also have a ring-tailed or red panda.  I tried to get a picture of that tail, but failed.  I was able to get a good shot of the face.  He walked around his enclosure and when he got to where we were standing watching him and waiting to get a good shot, he stopped and turned to face us!
Such a cute face on the red ring-tailed panda.

I discovered how much Anna likes to eat.  She had some flash frozen yogurt when we met for the bus (after having had lunch), then a bought a container of caramel popcorn when we first got to the zoo.  She wanted to try cotton candy when we were at the zoo (at first they were calling it marshmallows, but when they pointed it out to us, what she wanted to try, we told her the correct name), and then as we were leaving the zoo, they bought some cooked quail eggs on a stick.  They will put six fried quail eggs on a stick and then put some sauce on them after you buy them.  I guess being young and Chinese, she doesn't have to worry about the calories.
This is a Himalayan Black Bear.  They have signs that say don't feed the animals (at least that's what I read from the signs) but people still were doing it anyway.  The bear was just waiting for goodies.

A peacock in full strut mode.  Their feathers don't get very long because they pluck them out and sell them for souvenirs.  

These are Golden monkeys.  Beautiful color, but I would NOT want to tangle with those fangs!

It was a fun afternoon at the zoo.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Mike's Bread, Double Nines Festival, Halloween Party

Mike Qi's Bread
We had to go shopping for some groceries on Tuesday, so we decided to go to Carrefour, a French based grocery and retail store that we like the best.  It is also the easiest for us to get to from our campus.  There is also a small "baking store" near there that we have been able to get whole wheat flour, good brown sugar, pickles and several other things that most stores just don't carry.

We stopped at the store (called Mike Qi's) to get pickles and look for a metal baking pan that I can use in this small toaster oven that we have.  Right now I only have some glass pans and when we take things to our dinner group on Sunday, they are pretty heavy and David is afraid of breaking them.  We couldn't find the pans (even with Mike's help) so we bought some bread flour and the pickles.  We were checking out and Mike is the one helping us. Mike has some English that he has learned, so it was fun to talk to him.  Very personable.  He sees the bread flour and asks if I make bread. I told him that I did, then he says to wait, runs back to the back of the store and comes out with a loaf of bread.  Mike opens it up and invites us to have some.  "Just tear it off," he says.  So we did and the flavor was so wonderful!  It was a dried cranberry and coconut bread.  We just knew we had to buy it and bring it home to enjoy.  I don't think he really planned to sell it at that time because of his reaction when we told him we wanted to buy it.  My mouth waters for that bread just thinking about it!
Mike Qi's Cranberry Coconut bread.  YUM!

Double Nines Festival
Saturday was Double Nines Festival in China.  Eva told us that there would be things to do on Buddha Mountain, so we decided to go with her and see what was going on.  Double Nines Festival is a day to give respect to the elderly and, also for hiking, being outdoors and getting fresh air and exercise. 

We took the bus to where we were pretty sure we needed to get off.  We tried to ask someone on the bus, but she tried to tell us that we needed to take a different bus.  It may have been that the Chinese characters that we had printed off were not the correct ones for what we needed.  The bus was very crowded.  We had to stand the whole way and there was a traffic jam and so the traffic was extremely slow.  The bus kind of crawled to the stop where we thought we needed to get off.  When it was almost to the stop, the bus driver decided to open the doors and let us off.  (They will do this quite often when there are a lot of buses waiting in line to drop off and pick up passengers.)  The majority of people on the bus seemed to be getting off here, so we decided that it probably was the correct stop.

We followed the crowd and soon we were in the midst of a crush of people, some going and some coming back from Buddha Mountain.  We weren't sure if we would need to get a ticket, because China has a policy of allowing people over the age of 62 to enter for free, so we just had to show our passports to the guards at the gate and we were in.  We didn’t know where to find Eva so we walked along and passed a LOT of booths that were selling food and trinkets and toys. 

We decided that we needed to stop and stay at one place until we heard from Eva.  There was a little open lane that went off to the west, so we took it.  The mass of people was gone (there were still a lot there, but we weren’t rubbing shoulder to shoulder anymore) and we were able to find some steps to sit on where we could wait.

We watched the people- and they watched us, occasionally saying hello to some and just smiling at others.  Then a really cute little baby boy that looked to be just about one year old, started smiling at us with the cutest smile! He kept watching and smiling as his mom tried to get him to climb the stairs.  Eventually the family just sat behind us on the steps and David kept interacting with the baby.  There was a man that noticed us and he had tried to talk to us, but with our limited Chinese, there wasn’t much to talk about.  He had a pretty fancy camera and started taking pictures of us and of David interacting with the baby. 
We just loved this smile!

Then a lady came by with some dried sweet potato strings (which were really good!) and offered some to me.  I took one out of her bag and indicated that I like them, so she came over and had me hold out my hand and she poured a whole bunch in my hand!  Then she waved and left with a smile.

We were starting to gather a bit of a crowd around us.  One grandma came by with her nine-year-old grandson and he said “Hi.” I said “Hi,” back to him and then the grandma came up to me and said something.  The boy started using English words he had learned, and she kept encouraging him to show me how intelligent her grandson was that he could speak English.  When he had exhausted about all the words he knew, the family decided to move on, but we had made dear friends by the time they left.  All this time, the guy with the camera was snapping pictures of us and the people we were interacting with.  Of course, the grandma and her grandson had to have their picture taken with me using their camera.
We saw this at one of the booths on Buddha mountain and it looked so good so we bought a package of it.  We waited until we got home to try it.  We thought we were getting a piece of a cake that looked so good.  It wasn't.  It was glutinous rice (sticky rice) that had a little flavor.  Sorry, this one went in the garbage, not to our tastes.  We were a little disappointed.

 Eva finally got there. She had met a friend who works for the government, and she was going to take us to some friends that live on Buddha Mountain and have lunch there.  However, they didn’t tell us that information until AFTER we had bought some of the local snacks and eaten some boazi (steamed buns with meat inside), that we would be going there for lunch.  They had prepared some jiaozi (dumplings) for us and when you eat dumplings at a Chinese house, you are expected to eat until you feel ready to burst!  By the time we had eaten about five or six dumplings each and also a special kind of wrap they made for us, we were very full and ready to burst.

I liked the shape of this one and also the dragon handle.  There were SO many shapes and kinds of pots.  Some dated back to the Ming and Qing dynasties.  There were over 3,000,000 RMB worth of pots in this museum.  

A very creative pot showing the elements of the earth.
After lunch, we were shown to the museum that the family takes care of.  The museum was about the history of teapots.  I don’t remember hearing the name of the woman who runs the museum, but she took us through with pride and then showed us the rest of her house.  She operates a health spa at her home, but is trying to start a business in the main area of Jinan.  
This pot was for someone who was going to be moving up in life.  The circle handle on the top shows that it can be picked up and moved.  There was one pot that didn't have the top part and that was for someone that wasn't going anywhere in life.

Then she demonstrated the art of the tea to us.  We told her that we could only drink herbal teas, so she assured us that these were not the black tea, so we would be okay.  We had to take her word for it.  Everything was run through Eva because the woman spoke no English.  They gave me a stool to sit on but had David sitting on a cushion on the floor.  We had tea in tiny cups (I was able to get about five small sips out of the cup). 

We had tea, more tea, ate some Ginko nuts, more tea, then some pomegranate, then she played some music on an ancient Chinese instrument, then more tea.  She gave me a silk scarf that she had used natural dyes to make.  She also gave one to Eva that was dyed from a flower that comes from Tibet.  We finally asked to use her bathroom and then after a little more tea, and David trying to play the instrument, the woman changed from her traditional Chinese dress to something more modern and we all headed back down the mountain, taking the back roads and avoiding all the people who were still there on the main path up Buddha Mountain.  Eva took the bus home and the woman ordered what amounts to China’s Uber driver and drove us home.
Playing the Guqin an ancient Chinese musical instrument.  Her guqin is about 500 years old, handed down to her from her grandfather.
The interior courtyard of her home.

A most interesting work table.

This water feature (the blue bowl) was added to the courtyard to add feng shui because the tree left the courtyard open to the gate, or something like that.  This pecan tree was over 70 years old.  She also had a Ginko tree that was 200 years old.

Chinese Halloween Party
On Sunday, David and I had been invited by another one of the teachers in the Foreign Languages Department (she is Chinese and teaches English) to a Halloween Party.  Wang Jing’s eight-year-old son is in a fencing club and they wanted to have a party for their children.  She wanted us to present a short program for the children showing how American children celebrated Halloween.  We modified a power point presentation that we had for our college age students and made it simpler for these children.  We also sang some Halloween songs for them and taught them one song.  One child wanted to know why it is called “Halloween,” so I tried to break the history of it down into shorter information that could easily be translated by Wang Jing to the Chinese children.
After the program, we watched some of the children display some of their musical talents.  One played a guitar and sang, and three of the other children played traditional Chinese instruments.  We ate some sandwiches, and some fruit and were invited to sit on a bench in the middle of everyone (the place of honor) to watch the performances.  

We had just finished with our food when someone came along with a piece of cake.  The man who was the fencing coach had just asked his girlfriend to marry him in front of the group and after he did, they cut the largest cake that I have ever seen and served it to us all. 

Some of the Halloween decorations.  They had pumpkin and skeleton lights up also.  CJ would have been so proud of them!

The wedding proposal.

She said yes!

After the cake, they brought us dumplings and then a cupcake and then some juice.  We were feeling pretty full after all of that.  There were a few more things they were going to do, some games and a few more performances, but we decided that we wanted to get home, so she ordered us a taxi through her Didi account (the Uber type driver).  It has been a fun week.
Here we are with Michael, Wang Jing's son.  He seemed to  understand English quite well.  I think she talks to him at home and other places using English.  A nice young man. 
They were dressing up some of the children as mummies. This boy played the part well!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Reader's Theater Pt. 2, Dr Tricia, A Visit from Former Students

We had the rest of the Reader's Theaters performed this week.  I decided to record some of them and after seeing this one, I knew it needed to be posted to my blog!  Probably one of the best ones all week.  I love how innovative the students get in preparing props and using what they have to make it better AND add a Chinese twist to it.  The criteria for grading was on individual performance, enunciation, pronunciation and emotion.  The main actor in this one got a near perfect score. 

We went to see Dr. Tricia on Wednesday.  Mostly just to talk, but she is worried about David, thinks he is pale and has lost weight (not sure that he has, but whatever...).  She would like him to try some traditional Chinese medicine to help build him up.  She will set up an appointment sometime in the next two weeks.  I also told her about the problem with my wrist and thinks I should see the orthopedic specialist here to see if there is something that can be done to avoid the surgery that my US doctor says is necessary to be rid of the pain.  We'll see what they have to say.  It would be nice to not have the surgery if it can be avoided. 

Some of my former students from four years ago wanted to come for a visit, so they came on Saturday and had lunch with us.  I made some BBQ chicken and some cookies. They brought fruit.  Six of them came.  They would have brought more students with them, but I told them how small our apartment was and so it was just those six.  It was so good to see them!  They have matured a little, but in some ways, they still retain that innocence that was so endearing when I had them the first year.  They are now in their fourth year of medical school and they will start working on their residencies in another  year or two.  They don't let them choose a specialty for another three or four years. 
From left to right, Li Ai, me, Penny, Lydia, Matthew, Ted and Jack.
They all struggled to remember their English because they don't use it that much.  Ted was probably the best of them because he spent three months this summer in Toronto, Canada receiving special training at a hospital there.  Of course, we all had to exchange WeChat ID's to stay in touch.  We will probably do this again in a few weeks.  Such promising young people!

On our way to Church today, we saw the bus we needed to catch coming down the street and so we decided to try and catch it.  When you haven't run in a few years, your muscles don't like to be pushed and so I strained a muscle in the back of my thigh.  It is painful to walk.  Did some stretches when we got home and it feels a little better now.  Won't be running again for a while. 

Yes, we caught the bus!  Here's how that happened.  We saw the bus and thought in dismay that we were just going to miss it, when all of a sudden, the bus that was coming from the opposite direction stopped for us as we waited at the crosswalk!  That RARELY happens here in China!  Pedestrians are low man on the totem pole.  The bus we needed was coming from the other directions, so we took the opportunity to cross and the bus we needed had to slam on his brakes (he was still a safe way down the street, but he was going at a pretty good clip).  After we crossed, we started running.  The  bus makes it to the pick-up spot.  People are getting on the bus.  More people are getting on the bus.  We are getting closer, still jogging.  David is closer and just as the last person is getting on the bus and the driver is closing the doors, he notices David in the side view mirror and opens the door back up.  I am still coming (in pain) and we were able to make that bus and get to where Church was on time!  Small blessings we are grateful for!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Reader's Theater, Haircuts and Red Leaf Valley

David and I had assigned our classes reader's theaters to start presenting this week.  It was fun to watch most of them.  Some students only put in the effort to get it done.  Their voices were monotone and all they were doing was reading from the play.  Others did a power point to add to the background, added props and others even added different voices!  They were so fun to watch when they added all these things.  One play had a "brownie" in it.  They were looking up online what a "brownie" was.  The picture that I saw on one of their phones was a brownie that you would eat!  I had to find a picture on my phone to show what the brownie was that they were supposed to portray. 
On Thursday afternoon, we decided to get our hair cut.  David asked one of his student helpers to go with us because we wanted to go back to the woman who had cut our hair when we were here four years ago.  The student brought along a male friend of hers and he spoke English fairly well also.  The woman was pleased to see us and remembered us from when were were there before.  She was so happy to see us!  She cut my hair a little shorter than I am comfortable with, but it will grow back.
She insisted that we get a picture with her and then she immediately posted it to QQ (China's Facebook).
We had lunch with Eva and Dani (a student helper of Eva's that has helped us several times) on Wednesday at the Canteen.  Eva was asking if we had plans for this weekend and mentioned that it would be fun to go to Red Leaf Valley.  We had lunch with Eva again on Friday and she asked again about it.  We thought it would be fun to go, but Eva didn't want to drive her car there and try to park.  She found a tour company that would take us up there and back and got us in for 100 RMB each.  Sounded like a great price to us, so she arranged for the three of us to go.

We got up early Saturday, took a taxi to the place we were to meet the tour group and Eva, and got on the bus.  It was about an hour ride south and east of Jinan.  As we get close to the site, we have to go up this rather steep road in that big 60 passenger coach bus.  Some of those turns the driver had to take were very sharp.  One turn, he had to back up a little bit (with a sheer cliff on the other edge!) and then start on up the rest of the turn.

We walked and saw a lot of the things from a small aviary to some carnival rides for children, but mostly we wanted to get where the leaves had started to turn.  There are a lot of maple trees and other deciduous trees that make pretty autumn colors there.  They also plant a tulip garden for the Spring and they have orchards of apple and cherry trees in the Spring also.
Some of the color in Red Leaf Valley.

Looking down at a gate that is amid all the colors.

A view of the pagoda.

The waterfall that is by the lake.
We walked up to where the pagoda is, occasionally being stopped by people for pictures.  We decided to stop on some stumps to rest and have a few snacks.  While we were sitting there, people passing by and then a few children wanted to use their English and say "Hello."  We tried to talk to some of them and then they wanted pictures.  I lost track of how many children came next to me to get their picture taken.  Eva was getting a kick out of all of this.
This little girl was so happy to have her picture taken with both of us. 

This woman was so happy that we let her get her picture with us.

The little boy that I'm "talking" to just kept coming over to me and wanting more attention.

Another little happy Chinese child that got to meet the Americans!
After all the children left, we continued our way up the mountain. One of the areas was called "Lover's Valley."  They decorated it with probably a million pinwheels all around the area.
Lover's Valley.  Eva wanted to know our story of how we met.

We stopped at one of the little make-shift restaurants that just pop-up all over the place.  We had a type of dumpling that is fried, rather than boiled and some won-ton soup.  Both were delicious and hit the spot.  A boy that looked to be about eight, just stood and watched us the whole time.  He had been playing with Legos while the parents worked, but he stopped and came over close to our table and just watched us.  Sometimes it feels like we are aliens and they can't believe that we eat and drink and talk.
These are the fried dumplings.  Filled with pork and leeks.  Very tasty!

Won ton soup with pork, kelp and what Eva called, "baby celery."

We made our way back to the tour bus on time and then took a city bus back to our campus area.  We stopped by a new fruit and vegetable market that is in our area and bought some fruit.  As we were crossing the street headed back to the campus, two men, that we learned were here from Pakistan, started talking to us and asking where we were from. They are here getting their Doctorate degrees in microbiology and physics and then they plan to go back to Pakistan and help their country build their knowledge and program there.  They received their Bachelor and Masters Degrees from Pakistan where all the courses in their schooling are taught in English. Then they come to China for their Doctorate degree and have to learn Chinese along with work on their Doctorates.  They offered us some of their food, but we declined because we had already just bought what we needed.  They sure seemed like fine young men.
Some of the places we were walking were fairly steep and it was bothering my knee, so Eva suggested that walking backward would not be as hard on my knee.  The way David was holding me, I suggested that it felt like we should be dancing.  Well, we started to dance!  That was fun!  Also, another picture taking opportunity for some girls who were passing by and applauded us.

Among the colorful leaves with Eva.

Paddle boats that you can rent to paddle around the small lake.

It was fun to watch kids playing in these plastic bubble rolls.  It looked like a lot of fun.