Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2010 Favorite Things

Here are my favorite things of 2010:

  1. My handy dandy Brother ES-2400 sewing machine which I have used to make so many quilted gifts for family & friends!
  2. My iriver e-reader & Nookbook (technically my husband's but then what's his is mine too :)) - it has widened the choice of books available to me infinitely, especially here in English books -deprived China. Now it follows me to the gym & makes my workout much shorter than it seems (thank God), & I can carry it along with me if I am stuck in traffic (a frequent occurence in Beijing) & yes, I will admit it, it also makes for bathroom reading. And don't forget that it is much greener than buying actual paper books!
  3. The Garmin GPS navigator - one of our best buys of the year! It was invaluable during our road trips in the US, enabling us to find not only our destinations, but also last minute stops at supermarkets/movie theater/restaurants/department stores etc.
  4. My new favorite restaurant in Beijing: Hatsune! I usually am not a fan of sashimi, but the salmon here is to die for...
  5. One of my favorite reads of the year, "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortensen.
Merry Christmas & Happy 2011!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Impressions from China - Corruption etc

For those who have lived/are living in China, this article should not come as a surprise.

Sad to say, I do not have a favorable opinion of the Chinese insofar as ethics is concerned. Money is the god that is worshiped here. Anything goes. Contaminated milk, medicine, toothpaste and what have you...ethics be damned. Anything for some extra money in ones' pockets. Whether you are a government official or a private entrepreneur does not matter.

It is fine & dandy that those who get caught are punished (severely, by world standards: some are executed). And Chinese history has shown that breaking the law comes with harsh punishment (if caught, that is). But this has not seemed to deter those who are determined to make that extra buck, no matter the consequences.

Doing business here, or the mere simple act of shopping in a local market can be dicey. For those new to these shores, getting cheated or being charged exorbitantly is not uncommon. Hence my aversion to bargain shopping at places like Silk Street or Hong Qiao, where foreigners are seen by the vendors as prime bait carrying wallets full of cash, ripe for the picking.

This aspect darkens the glory & achievements of the Chinese civilization. Along with civilized social behavior, & proper traffic etiquette, the Chinese need to catch up with the rest of the developed world in realizing what ethical behavior is.

Otherwise, China will remain, essentially, just one big cowboy town with a heck of a lot of economic clout. A scary thought indeed.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Cheer

Our house is decorated with Christmassy paraphernalia, both old & new.

There are our precious ornaments collected over the years, hanging on our Christmas tree...

Nostalgic pieces...

This was hand-made by Z. in preschool...

And this by W...

A fairly recent addition...

Then there are our Christmas stockings which used to hang over our fireplace in Pennsylvania but have since hung on staircase banners or wooden decorative grills or whatever else space I could find to hang them from, for lack of a proper fireplace!

Then there are these two snowmen buddies, & our snowman sitting on a wreath, bought right here in Beijing 3 years ago...

And our latest addition, this Christmas bunting, handmade by a very craft-y friend here in Beijing; the very same friend who introduced me to the world of Quilting. I will soon have to say farewell to her as she will leave Beijing in several months' time :(...but this memento will stay in our collection of precious Christmas possessions that have followed us around the world ...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reconnecting again

Z. comes back to Beijing in less than a week to spend his Winter break with us. We are all looking forward to the reunion.

I met with a couple of friends, ex-classmates from medical school, who were here with their family on holiday recently. Their kids are younger - one in primary school, the other in secondary school. He asked me how I feel about being an almost-empty-nester to which I reply that I am looking forward to the next phase in my life.

However, to reach the next phase, we will have to go through the transition of separating with W. Now, THAT, I do not look forward to.

Monday, December 06, 2010

New York

For some reason, being in New York City always seems to put me on edge.

Maybe it's the crowded & dirty sidewalks, with people milling around or walking to their destinations or tourists/locals talking loudly to each other.
Or the heavy traffic & honking & often heard sirens of the police car/ambulance/firetruck.
Or the sight of the homeless drunk stumbling along or trying to stay warm under his pile of raggedy blankets & cardboard boxes.

Great place to visit. But I don't think I could ever live here comfortably. Give me the wide open spaces or suburbia anytime.

Saturday, December 04, 2010


I felt rather depressed walking through the supermarket this afternoon for the last time before heading "home" to Beijing.

The abundant variety & availability of anything you may need to stock your pantry was almost too much to bear. The high prices of imported goods (the limited selection that is actually available) in Beijing add salt to the wound.

The locals take it for granted, this convenience.

We have packed our suitcases to the brim as we prepare to head home in a couple of days.

Until next time, America....


Wednesday, December 01, 2010


I guess ours was, what one would call, a whirlwind romance. We knew within 6 weeks of meeting each other that "This was IT". We knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, as mates, partners for life.

To call it being 'madly in love' was an understatement. We spent almost every single free minute we had together, in each others' company. We were an unlikely pair: an American Naval Officer, and an exhausted intern who had never met that special someone who sparked even the remotest of romantic interest. Until him.

That was just over 20 years ago.

Tomorrow, we celebrate our 20th year together as a wedded couple. The intense, passionate, fiery feelings have smoldered into a deeper and lasting emotion. As with most marriages, we've had our ups and downs, but through it all, the constant love has always been there.

Happy Anniversary, A. What a ride it has been.