Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday's Fave Five, 8/15/14

Link to Friday's Fave Five home blog.

1. Great friends from a long time ago were here for supper last night.  So good to spend time with them.  And my mom made a pie for us!!

2. Got a lot done this week at inservice.  Still have a lot to do, but at least the walls are done.  And my dad is helping me with covering books!

3. Daughter is getting started in a good way at her first teaching job.  Very proud of her.

4. Going out to a new seafood place, with some other good friends, in about an hour.  Sometimes we see hardly anyone for weeks - but when it rains, it pours.

5. Good visit with orthopedist on Wednesday.  I've got to have some shots in my knee to keep it going for awhile longer, but he said it looks good and I can go to the gym if I'm very careful and not overdo.  I felt really good after the two months of getting ready to do a lot of walking in China, and don't want to lose all of that.

And - tomorrow is Saturday!!  I can sleep in!!  After being used to a summer schedule, this first week of setting an alarm is rough.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

First Year!!

Very proud of my daughter's hard work at putting together her classroom!!

She is so creative (yes, her mother is biased, but her mother also knows creativity when she sees it) and it's nice that she has a venue where she can really use her abilities.

I helped her a couple of days last week, and Mike came in on Friday also.  We set up a little refrigerator for her, and he put together some things she needed.

It is a big responsibility to be a teacher, but it is also nice to see a young lady who has worked very hard, who has the ability, and who loves children, to receive an opportunity to show what she is made of.

I am so proud of her!  So is her dad!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tuesday Trivia

--My presentation about China went very well on Sunday night!  Thanks to family and friends who came.

--Knee doing well.  I'm icing it right now because yesterday I was on it too much, a friendly reminder that it is not completely healed yet.

--Bargain of the day:  Dial 8-bar bath soap, $4.89 at Walgreens; buy one get one free this week, and I had a $2.00 coupon.  16 bars of soap for $2.89.  :-)

--Daughter in her room at her school!!  I'm going to see it in a little while.  Starting a first teaching job is a very exciting time in life.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Andrew sent these pictures this morning.  They are at another camp, this time in a country compound of some sort, with about a hundred and fifty children of "family."  It was supposed to be teens only; however, it ended up being children of all ages, so they have quite a mixture this week.  Andrew has done some teaching; however, the nighttime teaching has been done by one particular leader of the family in the area.  Andrew says keeping all those kids busy, of all different ages, has been quite a challenge.

There is no commentary on the pictures because they are all I have.  They tell plenty of stories by themselves.  They look like classic pictures of kids at camp!  I do think the last two pics are the cutest.  :-)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Meniscus Repair

Well this has been an interesting three days, after outpatient meniscus repair surgery on Thursday morning.

It's about 4:45 a.m. on Sunday morning right now.  Mike has left for work, and I figure - it may be early, but the orthopedic surgeon said it's OK to take the Ace bandage off on Sunday.  So off it has come.

My right knee is very swollen.

Everything was fine, after the meniscus repair on Thursday, until Friday night, when I got hit with excruciating pain.  It may have been from a couple of unsuccessful attempts to get out of the recliner (the angle and grip have to be just right to keep from putting weight on the right leg); or, it might have been from too much exertion on the leg during the day.  It took a series of Lortabs and several hours to get the entire area settled down.  It felt like there was swelling under the Ace bandage, and with the pressure that exerted, there was nowhere for the swelling to go except down, into the surgery area.  Pain.

So yesterday I was very good.  Stayed in the recliner all day.  Kept the knee on ice.  Used a walker!!  (Now that was a real humiliation.)  Did what Mike said.  And it has been better.  I can tell, though, that it still is going to need a lot of gentle care.

Mike has been a trouper.  He has taken care of everything I need, and the kitchen looks better than it does when I clean it up.  I am very grateful for all he has done to help me.  And when all this is over, I hope to be grateful for a repaired meniscus also.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday's Fave Five - 7/25/14

Link to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. Thankful for a fine Christian orthopedist, with whom we used to go to church, who operated on my knee yesterday and did an arthroscopic meniscus repair.  Hopefully that will take care of the problems.  I would not have made it through the China trip without a good brace.

2. Thankful for a good recliner, a nice fancy ice pack my husband went to get yesterday, and lots of good help from family and friends.  Oh, and Lortabs.

3. I have gotten many favorable remarks on the China posts, especially the last wrap-up one.  The trip was really special, and knowing that people were following it and interested in it made the trip even better.

4. We noticed that our natural gas bill was higher than it should be this month, as during the summer we only make the base payment.  (We only use gas for supplemental heat.)  Turns out we have a pinhole leak in some aluminum piping under the house.  The gas man who came to check it said we probably had a lightning strike at some point, and that kind of piping is never used any more due to such problems.  We will get the piping replaced, but there is no rush to do so (the gas has been sealed off), and the gas man said the hole was so small that there had been very minimal risk of explosion.

5. Just got word from my son in China that he is being moved to a brand new apartment that is right on his university campus!  Right now he and two fellow teachers are living in a building on a university that is about four to five miles away from where they teach.  I am so glad for that.  His current apartment leaves much to be desired and it sounds like this will be much better.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Some Final Thoughts About China

Here are my final thoughts about China.  Granted, two weeks in a country are not enough to make a person even semi-informed, much less an expert.  But it is time enough to make some observations - nothing new or profound, but still what I saw and thought.  I'll share these final musings here, and then try to think and write about some topic other than China for awhile.

Typical apartment building in the city
1. I observed evidence that China's people and way of life are truly emergent, in the sense that they are both modern and backward.  They want to be a first-world country, and they are coming along, but there is much of the third world that is dragging behind their first-world ambitions.

For example, I was in several buildings that, due to the level of dirt and poor quality, appeared to be twenty-plus years old, or more.  It was a surprise to find out that the buildings were only 4-5 years old.  The philosophy in China is "Build it, let it run down, tear it down, and build it again."  (There is construction going on everywhere.)  Andrew's boss is one of the first ground-breaking thinkers to actively work on this problem, and to try to instill the concept into the national psyche of building maintenance.  A country simply can't put as much energy into improving its state of being, when the current state is constantly having to be rebuilt.

Street sweeper outside my son's apartment building
There are basic services in China that need work if the people are going to completely dig themselves out of third-world status.  They don't seem to know what to do with their mountains of trash.  Their sewer systems are inadequate.  All the agriculture is done by hand.  Many streets are swept by hand, with old-fashioned corn brooms.  I didn't see many, but did see a few donkey-driven carts, as well as many bicycle-pedaled trash carts.  The Chinese have come a long way (train systems, modern architecture, etc.), but they have a long way to go.

Some things are being done well.  I thought that the Air China employees had a higher level of professionalism, both in appearance and actions, than the United Airlines employees I dealt with.  And Beijing (probably because of the Olympics) is much more modern, and somewhat westernized, than where we were.  It was not hard to find a hamburger, or a Starbucks, or many familiar names, in Beijing.  Except for a few KFCs and McDonalds, there were not recognizable names in our city.

2. This is a no-brainer, but I still observed that eastern culture is very different from western.  The visitor is simply not in the same world.

There are few similarities in the food, to what Westerners are familiar with.  Those who go to China had better learn to like sesame oil, soy sauce, noodles, and dumplings.  And they'd better not look too closely at the conditions of the kitchens where food is prepared.  Health department regulations do not appear to be a source of stress for purveyors of food in this country.

I saw people in this eastern culture nation burning money to appease the spirits, and saw people stuffing Buddha statues with money for good luck, and heard fireworks being discharged to keep evil spirits away from new businesses.   

Babies in China are held over shrubbery, or over the sidewalks, to relieve themselves.  Children tend to rule the roost, more so than in the west.  I was told that the main role of a grandmother in Chinese society is to care for the grandchild (usually singular) so that the mother can work.

One day we noticed that lines had been painted on the street we walked on often.  My son commented wryly, "That will be a nice decoration."  It made absolutely no difference in the crazy way people drove.  That is typical of eastern nations.

One college girl, introduced to me, did not want to lift her eyes to me as we conversed - a throwback, according to the Chinese adult who was with us, to the era when girls were supposed to look down at all times.  The acrobat show we went to in Beijing had an act with native Chinese costumes, and the girls' shoes were designed to give the appearance of the old bound feet of centuries ago. 

3. China's people reveal the effects of growing up in a completely secular state.  The main goal of the young people, and the educational system, is to look out for themselves, get ahead, and be successful.  I heard that philosophy stated, but observed it also.  In Wal-Mart, a young man spotted me as a foreigner and introduced himself, and we had a nice discussion right in the school supplies department.  I told him my son was running a world-view camp in a couple of weeks, thinking that if he had any interest at all I might try to link him up to it.  His only comment was "Oh, that's good, he can make more money by running that camp."  (Little did he know!!)

There is a very high level of expectation in the educational system.  The pressure is immense.  (One man at the English Corner, when we were discussing education due to the fact that the American guest was a teacher, made this statement:  "Chinese schools are prisons.") However, partly due to the huge social pressure placed on these students, cheating is rampant.  If there is little to no moral training, other than to make parents proud, it is understandable that any means to the end of being successful would be acceptable.

Most people look out only for themselves.  They think nothing of crowding others on subway or train platforms or squeezing ahead in any way.  They get unhappy if you take too long bagging your groceries ahead of them in a store line.  The rule of the road is - whichever driver can get there first, around the others, gets the advantage.  It's all about self.

Most of the people I saw on the streets did not have joy or happiness on their faces.  If you try to engage someone with a smile and a look, if that person returns the look, it will be with a startled expression.  A few will smile back, but most quickly look away.  I was told that any attempt at friendliness is usually interpreted as "What do you want from me?"  Everyone is out for himself.  Most people work long, backbreaking hours, many at menial jobs, and they are jaded.

Sunday is a day completely like other days.  There is little evidence of it being in any way a day of rest.  We in the west may have taken much out of our day of rest, but there is at least some attempt to keep it as a day set apart - not so in the east.  Also, in my two weeks of traveling many places in this city of seven million, I saw exactly one (state-run) church building.

All these observations, to me, reflected the results of secularism.

Observed in the apartment of a Christian couple
4. And finally, I observed that those who do identify with the Father are serious about their decision.  There is absolutely no advantage, socially, to doing so.  Therefore, most are genuine about their desire to follow the Father.   They are firm in their direction and they are also firm in their desire to help others in the same path.  They are creative in their ways of meeting.  They know that an Assembly is not a building.  And those of us in the West, who are of the same mindset concerning the Father, can learn much from their example.

In conclusion:  It was an overwhelming, exciting, awful, great, tiring, inspiring, and wonderful trip, all at the same time.  Seeing my son, and what he and his teammates are doing, was alone worth the expense and time.  Spending time with my son was sweet to this mother's heart.  And it was a joy to meet brothers and sisters in that setting.  Learning about another culture was great, but it was secondary to the experience of seeing the Family.  (There was no escaping the culture - it was forced on the newcomer in every breath, sight, and sound.)  It was worth the fatigue and the jet lag and the digestive difficulties.  I would happily go again.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pics and Videos - Last Group!

One last post of photos and videos.  Just have a lot to show.

This is crazy short, because it was supposed to be a photo.  I went ahead and posted it because it so perfectly shows a very dressed up lady, next to a woman in jean shorts, and a man with his shirt rolled up.  Very typical sight.


This (below) was also pretty typical, of the street up to the grocery store where I walked several times.  There was so much more I wanted to capture, but usually didn't have a camera, or couldn't get to it, when the best sights presented themselves.  (You learn fast NEVER to set your bag or packages on the ground, for any reason.  And benches are non-existent.)  I would have loved to have gotten a picture, for example, of the man I saw who had been "fire-cupped"--big brown circles on his back where a ritual of ancient medicine had been performed on him.  I don't know if the circles are current burns or are scars.  I would also have loved to get a picture of the men on bicycles with large carts behind them, taking trash to who knows where.  Or the man who was burning money on a street corner; according to Andrew, to appease his ancestors.  Or the man in the Beijing train station wearing what we would consider to be a little boy's summer pajamas, screen printed with birds.  Or the people who stared.  :-)

This photo is of the same general area as the video above.  I wanted a picture to show how, wherever you see an arable spot of land, someone has planted a garden on it.  This was no exception.

Two examples of Chinglish.  The first one was at the back room of a restaurant where the group met on a Sunday morning; the second one was on the side of an escalator.

I took this because it was a typical sight.  This is the back door of the restaurant that is located near Andrew's apartment building on the college campus.  The lady squatting (a little hard to see) is doing some kind of prep work of vegetables or meat.  I saw this in many places - the preparation of food takes place outside of restaurants or even homes if possible.  Seeing people squatting doing this kind of work is very common.

Andrew's washing machine.  It holds about five pieces at a time, all of which have to be hung to dry.  He just got a drying rack from a friend who came back to the States; before that, everything had to be hung in the wet bath - which meant it took about 24 hours to dry.

Waiting for English Corner to start.  This young couple is coming to the States this fall to continue their eduation.  They just graduated from a very intense, Ivy-league style school in the city.

Another view from the Great Wall.  It was beautiful.  I would have loved to have taken a video on the chair-lift ride up, but the potential risk of dropping phone or iPad was just a little too great.  Had I realized how beautiful the ride up would be, and gotten it out of my pocketbook beforehand, I would have done so.  But Mrs. Klutz herself wasn't about to risk it while on the chair-lift hanging who knows how high above the jungle.

Beijing on the day I left.  It was not a cloudy day; the fuzzy appearance is smog.  On this day, the smog level was FIVE times the maximum allowable levels of smog in the U.S.

I wanted to post a video showing the church group singing, but the only one I have that doesn't show people, is also too long to put on here.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Videos from China

Here are some videos taken on the trip.  This first one is walking down a busy city street.  This is a big shopping area in the downtown area.  Right before filming this, we walked past a terrible stench - and discovered it was an open sewer pipe flushing into a drain.  A little different than we would expect in the States. . .

This is a Wal-Mart deli counter in China. . .

. . .and Carolyn, a teammate and friend of Andrew's who took me with her to Wal-Mart on the other side of town, trying to communicate with the lady at the deli about some of the food choices.  She is using a translation app on her phone to help.

This is a good example of some of the chaos on the streets and also of how women wear anything from shorts to what we would consider more formal clothing, even on weekdays.  On my last day we noticed that lines had been painted on this street.  "Nice decoration," Andrew said. "Won't make any difference at all."  He was right.

At the train station in Beijing.  People everywhere, but it was actually a very light day!  If you can see the ground in front of you, the constant traffic of people is considered to be normal and not busy.

I have more to load, and may edit this and add more later (or do it in another post).  Ready to go to bed.  Right now I do not know when to sleep and when to be awake.  Was told it would probably take a week to feel normal, and I believe it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Food pics

Most of these photos were taken at either Metro (the import store) or Wal-Mart.  I thought the
 various things were just too interesting not to remember.  Hope you enjoy a 
"taste" of a few of the food items I saw.
Who knows what "dried meat floss" is?  It was a powder.  None of those I asked seemed to know--

Ah, yes, there was bacon!  Until I looked at the actual product. . . 

Interesting department label--

This is just two of four complete shelving units in Wal-Mart stocking soy sauce and flavored vinegars.

Not sure what this was, but it wasn't anything like any Great Value product we would find here.

These are steamed breads.  To me the ones on the lower right look like they ought to be popped into an oven and browned, but they are cooked and ready for eating just like this.  They have no taste.

Eggs, anyone?  Chicken feet, anyone?
Chinese Oreos
Chinese version of a frozen pizza.  Not real appetizing-- 

Note the item that is labeled "green beans."
So would you add this product to your next grilling party?
Goji Berries and Dried Sliced Kelp.
Wal-Mart Deli Bar
The pink fruit on the left is dragon fruit; in the middle are coconuts; and on the right is a large fruit called Durian that has a TERRIBLE smell.  Many Asians love to eat it in spite of the smell.  I'd heard of it, so had to take a big whiff.  It really is awful. 
I thought it was funny that these were labeled "Clean Vegetable."