Monday, September 25, 2006

Pearl Farm Day Trip

I went to see how they grow pearls with the International Club. It was very interesting. This photo is how they implant the pearl with tiny pieces of membrane from another clam to start the formation of pearls. They plant several into each pearl. Its is a pain-staking process. In one full work-day, 2 people can do about 120 clams.

This photo is the farmer lifting a rope to show us the implanted clams. They put 2 or 3 three clams in a net bag and hang them from a rope going across a pond. Each clam must wait for 5 to 8 years before the pearls are ready.

Here are some opened clams. People sit on small stools and remove the clams from the shells into buckets. Men come by and scoop up the clam shells and carry them to big piles.

These pearls are not polished or cleaned. They are in a bucket a worker has just dumped pearls into.
This little boy is one of the farmers child. He was very interested to see his photo.
Here is a mature rice field almost ready for harvest.

September 19, 2006

I thought I'd first share some of the "Do you know what I saw" conversation my friends and I have had this week:

In an airplane in China, they tell you what is going on in Chinese, and then they read a card in English. You can rarely understand it, but my friend heard this in the middle of the flight," Please sit down and fasten your seatbelt. We are preparing for take-off." A while later, everyone heard " We will be arriving somewhere at sometime." obviously, they were supposed to insert the correct city and time!

There was a lady mowing her lawn in a fancy skirt and sandals.

There was a woman driver with her car stopped in the middle of a busy road. Cars were making their way around her. Getting closer to her, you could see why she was stopped. She was busy text messaging, of course!

A truck was stopped in the middle of an intersection, under the power line. They were repairing a traffic light. The power was still on. There was a man balancing on a 20 foot ladder sitting inside the bed of the truck. The ladder was being held up by the electric cable.

Always something exciting.

Back to our life. Last week on Thursday, I was in my friend's car. I'm used to being in our van, with the sliding door. So, I didn't think to check before I started opening my door. A motor scooter was driving past very close and very fast! My door touched her bike. She over-corrected and tipped it over, breaking the mirror, and she scraped up her leg a little bit. I felt so bad! I got out, and wanted to tell her I was so sorry, and of course, pay for any damage. Well, she just kept yelling and yelling at me. Her friend came, and they spoke such rapid Chinese, I had a hard time understanding. They told me that they wanted a little bit of money to start, and I should give them my address and they would come for more. I said I wouldn't give them my address(I've heard horror stories about that) but that if they took official receipts to my husband's office, I would pay them. The little bit of money they wanted was 2000rmb! That is a HUGE amount of money! I laughed. They could easily by a new motor-scooter with that amount. Anyway, My driver and my friend's driver eventually settled on 500rmb. This was also very high. But, I had been standing there for over an hour, and needed to pick up the children. I couldn't see how to get out of it, so I paid. I cried all the way home! But I didn't cry in front of them, so I thought that was pretty good. I decided later that it could have been so much worse, and that I learned a lesson, and they had a really nice shopping trip with the money I gave them!

Well, you would think that was enough! But, for the first time of the week, Mike was coming home at a decent hour. It was raining, and the person behind them rear-ended them! And...It was in that same friend's car! We had traded, so that she could take some company around town that weekend. Mike spent over an hour at the police station, and didn't come home early. I'm just grateful he's OK.

The good news is, this week nothing has happened so far!

The kids have been so busy with sports. Rachel went to Shanghai this last weekend for Volleyball,and Rachel and Nicole go this weekend for Rugby. The girls and I are still at our morning runs. They are getting better and better. They will outrun me, I'm thinking, by the end of the year. Eli's favorite after school activity is cooking class, on Wednesdays. He comes home with yummy treats. He feels so big when he makes them (there isn't any real cooking involved). Jay loves basketball day. He was a lion in an assembly today. He really did a good lion imitation. Caitlin and I have started writing back and forth to each other in a journal. She saw this idea in the Friend, and it has been lots of fun!

We have been to the tailor the last couple of Tuesdays. The boys are having suits made. Those of you who know Jay, will know how very excited he is to have his suit. Eli is also excited, and can't stand that he has to wait. He really wants to watch them make it!

Well, just over one week to our big trip to Singapore and Indonesia! I think we are all very ready. Especially Mike. He has been working so long and hard these last few weeks. He will be so ready for a break!

Love to all of you! We miss you.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Please take a walk with me...

On a Thursday morning last week, a group of ladies from the International Club went on a walk to "explore" Nanjing. It is a monthly outing that I have wanted to join, and since Eli is now in school, can. It was a two hour plus walk, starting out along a river, and ending up at Lion Tower Hill. We saw so many incredible things, I thought you may like to see some of them:

These ladies are separating the good veggies from the bad at the wholesale vegetable garden we saw.

And the owner of this bike is ready for his delivery.
These men are laying cement for this road.
I absolutely love this picture. Chinese doors are so intriguing to me...What is behind it?

There was so much to see and purchase, if we wanted, at this market.
Meat anyone?
Dumplings for sale

A man offered the 7 of us a ride in, vehicle, so how could we refuse? We tipped him nicely. Can you see the crowd we drew?

After cheating a little (because of our ride) we arrived at our destination...the foothills of Lion Tower, to eat our packed lunches, and talk about our very adventurous morning. It was a wonderful morning. Thanks for joining me!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Lucky Eli gets to add the chocolate chips.
Here, we are making those yummy cookies.
The breath-taking view that makes the stairs worth it.
Here is the mausoleum.
Heading down for my second climb.
Mike looking like a "biker" on our bike ride. It is VERY HOT and HUMID

Love to Dance

The time is flying by again. Why is it that as soon as school starts, the weeks just pass before your eyes? I never thought that when I was in school. A few things that happened this last week:

On Wednesday, I had a friend who was sick. I decided to make some soup and breadsticks for her. I asked the driver to please take me to the store, and then pick up the food when it was ready, and take it to my friend. When we got to the house, after going to the store, Jiang asked if he could please watch me cook. I thought he was joking, but no. So Jiang came in, while Wan (our ayi) was ironing clothes in the kitchen (it is not lost on me how spoiled this all sounds, having an ayi and a driver). They both watched me make the chicken vegetable soup, and the breadsticks. They were intrigued, and discussed every move I made, especially with the breadsticks. They have never seen an oven work. I was like their child, as they watched proudly, making comments and talking about me as I went. They were making jokes about coming to work for us when we move back to America, and we were teaching each other words in Chinese, and English. The breadsticks were a hit, but Jiang didn't want to try the cream soup. He informed me he doesn't eat milk with vegetables. Hmm...

On Saturday morning, Mike and I decided to wake up early and go for a bike ride to Purple Mountain. It isn't too close, so I guess only Mom and Dad Russon can know to be impressed by our ride:-) Anyway, don't be too impressed, the mountain isn't like the Wasatch Front or anything. Its more like really big hills. Well, we had a great time. We went to Sun Yat San's mausoleum. It is a pretty impressive structure, and beautiful, with the trees and the view. There are 400 stairs leading to the tomb, which my friends and I have been known to make an exercise excursion out of by doing the stairs several times. I did them twice that morning, but Mike refused. He just didn't see the enjoyment. We got back in time to get the kids breakfast, and I can't wait to go again!

On Monday night, for Family Night, we watched part of the Founding Fathers movie Mike's Grandpa Smith gave us for Christmas. It was great. We are also learning the Pledge of allegiance. Eli was supposed to share a food from the USA today at school, so we all made Toll House Cookies as well. It was great having our "Patriotic" night, and we will continue for the next few Mondays. While the kids are learning all sorts of wonderful things about the world, they aren't getting all of our U.S. history, and we don't want them to miss out!

Tonight, Mike had meetings, so he stayed late to work. Poor guy missed out on our dance party. We turned on our recessed-blue (yes, blue) rope lights and danced to the great 80's music that Emily burned for us, as well as some Bangles, and show tunes. Poor Mike! We all know how he loves to dance. This, at least, I am proud to have passed on to my kids...They all LOVE to dance, like their Mamma! We may not be good, but we have heart.