Why do I hike?

When I find myself literally at the end of a rope in China, hiking is the ultimate brain eraser. Either I’m concentrating on the beauty or not slipping, totally forgetting that the snack I purchased for my cat was freeze dried baby birds (I will spare you the photo).

Forgotten Wishes

The 26,968 steps to the summit of Mt. Jiaozi were grueling. It wasn’t altitude sickness or the ripping sensation in the back of my calves, but the memories I packed in my backpack. I trekked to the top of this holy mountain once before to make a wish, one that rusted in the wind.

yān gē (cat-snip)

Without pondering too much if I would have to change the cat’s personal pronouns, I got my cat snipped, the pin yin for cat neutering being, yān gē, which, if pronounced incorrectly, could mean anything from death to singing.

Nails

Hopefully, someday, Easter will be restored to a holiday where I can enjoy going to church, biting the heads off chocolate bunnies instead of eating frozen pea-sicles, and thinking about the nails of the crucifixion, not mine.

Tombs and Brittle Bones

It’s sad. Folks spending eternity in a cemetery really are forgotten. We have don’t even have a word for them. We have words for the grounds (cemetery, necropolis, catacombs), words for the urns and burial stones, words for that stupid piece of plastic on the end of your shoelace (aglet), but no word for our collective of loved ones that left us their Hummel collections.

Rice 饭 Fàn

his year for Christmas, I travelled to Xishuangbanna, where rice is anything but a bland side dish. There are rice stuffed pineapples, purple sticky rice, speckled rice dumplings wrapped in Bamboo leaves, and rice stuffed bamboo shoots.

Local Color

I went to Kunming’s Museum of Contemporary Art this weekend and viewed what I thought was an abstract poodle. While I enjoyed the art, I found the streets just as colorful. This bean lady at the market reminded me of my mom. I really think it was her. She didn’t have her own booth or her own QR code, but […]

Paperwork

Working at an international school, I have been trained for fires, earthquakes. Hostage Takeovers. But what if a student gets stuck in the bathroom? It was photo day and my class was right after the snapping of pictures. Mars’ bow tie was next to the crayons. Albert’s jacket was on the back of his chair. But Yael’s kitty cat ears? […]

An American in Wuhan

Oh yes I did! I have just completed the Covid 19 Triple Dog Dare. I went on a cruise, ate at a buffet and ended up in Wuhan, then lived to blog about it. Actually, it’s not as insane as it sounds. Since I’m “land-locked” in China this summer, I thought I’d finally see the country. It’s not like I’ve […]

Pokes and Probes

So what’s an expat to do when it’s time to get back on the saddle again–wait–I mean back in the stirrups? Make an appointment at Women’s Angel Hospital for a pap smear and mammogram. Considering China makes more babies than any other countries, maybe it’s time we trust them with other female needs.

Temple Attire

So, just what do you wear to a temple or monastery, even if it’s one for chickens in Shangri La? It depends on if it’s a Buddhist temple, monastery, or the Hundred chicken temple.

Yak and Hack

Does anyone know of a good wine pairing for yak? That’s what you eat in Shangri La. And don’t laugh. Yak is where it’s at. I was referred to this little hole in the wall, a Tibetan version of a blue plate diner. I ordered Diced Yak with noodles and Yak Meat Pie. The crust was amazing. Plus, I had […]

Born to be like ginger

In America today, I officially turn into human wallpaper. It’s my birthday, or 生日快乐 shēng rì kuài lè, in Chinese. But no Barbie dolls or pin the tail on the donkey games this year. I turned sixty. The big Six-O. In dog years, I’d be dead. In America, childhoods that pre-date Google means you have become as desirable as panty […]

You Care Too Much

The three words silenced my room: “What the hell?” They weren’t from a junior high student, because the utterance would have been in Chinese. The slip of the tongue was from a second grader. From the same kid who doesn’t know his sight words. I looked at a coworker, who heard it too. While I was thinking about school policies […]

Smoke

There is a famous Chinese proverb: 不到长城非好汉. He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man. And after he visits the Great Wall, he picks up a pack of cigarettes.  Smoking is huge in this country, even with doctors, including my “no chicken, no OJ, drink broccoli juice” acupuncturist. Before the young doctor light his cigarette, […]

A new stamp for my collection.

On Christmas morning, while Santa was sliding down chimneys wearing a red Haz-mat suit and mask, I got a present better than a Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle. I found a boarding pass to China in my stocking. It was a complicated gift, full of hoops, forms, the grace of God and nail biting, and hopefully, no returns. The international flight originated in […]

The Other Ten Commandments

I am glad that when Moses came down the mountain with two tablets, there wasn’t another set for those of privilege. Thou shall not steal, unless of course, you can afford a good lawyer. Thou shall not commit adultery, unless you are a politician who can afford payoffs. Thou shall keep thy Sabbath holy unless you want to go to […]

Lessons in Doing Nothing

Last night, someone slept through my class. But it wasn’t a student. It was me. Not only did I also slept through my midnight/lunch-time catnap alarm, I slept through three calls from my classroom assistant in China wondering where I was, along with a text from my principal: “Is everything OK?” Well yes and no. My Zoom didn’t turn into […]