I so enjoyed last weeks Scavenger Hunt Sunday that I'm joining up again.
So, we're off!
Beneath Your Feet
In Japan, I don't get the impression that pigeons are thought of as the rat of the skies. In fact, they seem to be appreciated. So much so that the shrine at the bottom of my street offers pigeon food vending machines (of course) and a couple of weeks ago, an old lady filled my hands with bread crumbs so that I could feed the flock of pigeons that live on the grounds of the shrine.
Face Your Fears
Two years and one hour since my girl was born. Exactly. This was where and when we had her birthday party. Today.
I've been following along with Scavenger Hunt Sunday for a while, seeing the meme pop up on blogs which I frequent, and I've long thought about getting my act together and joining in. But. Well, getting my act together has never really been a strong suit of mine. Until this week when I decided I was going to DO IT I SWEAR. But, turns out that a week is sort and being creative means that you have to get your brainz to work and stuff, so. Anyway. This is what I've got. Hopefully as the weeks go by, my act will slowly congregate, get together, and be strong. Until then....
I started off the week with good intentions. I was determined to get writing again, and do all the things, and catch up from last week's chickenpox stagnation, and the previous week's toilet training extravaganza. But see above and acts and my inability to get them together. Ha. Also life totally went kablamo. More on that later. Still, I have a nice notebook and pretty rainbow pens, so.
You guys, this one is a total stretch. But...my kid's hair. Some major fluff. As the humidity builds and we enter rainy season it's getting fluffier. And though I know it bodes poorly for adolescence hence, (I mean, helllo...her hair came from some place, and I'm pretty familiar with that particular part of fuzztown), I'm pretty stoked about a return to baby curls.
My child's favrouite thing in all of creation is riding the subway. And in the ten minutes it takes to get from our stop to downtown, she cycles through sitting on the seat, hanging onto the handles, standing in the aisle, terrifying me with her toddlerish instability (mental and physical), and hanging onto the handrails.
Not trees exactly, but sorta. Kinda? In our city there are several green buildings. Called thus because they are green. Literally. As in, covered in plants.
I'm still reveling in my recent trip to China. And despite Mr. Chef's admonitions that I not talk too much about China on this here blog for fear of invoking his own Sino nostalgia, I'm going to indulge myself once again. Because, whatever, this is MY internet.
Stella and spent a sun-drenched afternoon at the Beijing Furinature Market with our Beijing friends. A massive space, full of trinkets, and curios along side stone lions, goddesses of mercy, and Buddhas by the billions. If you happen to be in the market for a two-story high stone pagoda, well, this is your place. Merchants spread their antique Communist propaganda and "antique" porcelain on tarps in the middle of the market grounds. Further into the inerior there row upon row of permanent stalls where you'll be badgered to part with your money in exchange for silk skirts from Southern China, little Chinese shoes, bracelets, taxidermy sparrows, plastic toys, and strange rocks that sound like a cat when you strike them in just the right way. It's packed on the weekend, mostly with Chinese tourists, rather than their foreign counterparts.
The atmosphere was something to behold. Shouting, and good-natured insults, bargaining in that particular Chinese style, and the promise of discovering some hidden gem. It was magical. Stella was the star of the show, obviously, being the only foreign kid there. And, thank goodness for that, because I did keep her about about three hours beyond naptime, and it was only the promise of sprinting free amongst the stalls to elicit fawning attention from the shopkeepers that kept a massive meltdown at bay.
If you're in Beijing, this place is a definate must visit.
Yeah. That one. Who gets picked up and loved by every stranger we meet.
What I love best is girt and steel. Gleaming monuments, steel and glass and straight edges, design that makes you think that you might have gotten on a subway train and emerged in the future right along side grunge and noise and chaos and people getting their breakfast at a street stall, two bao zi steaming in a flimsy plastic bag, and men looking for work, or the lucky ones earning a few honest dollars in the street selling sundries or fixing your bike, or carrying away what the rich don't want. That's Shanghai.
I first arrived in China in August 2006. It was hot. The air was stagnant and nothing moved. It wasn't until evening that we got out to explore and as we rounded a corner in our taxi, people came into view. A community of people on dining room chairs, dragged out of still-gaping front doors. A semi-circle of people, formed around a man-made lake, as people ate, gossiped, and stared. In China, life is vibrant, loud, passionate, and in your face. And it's lived outdoors in the streets, where you can get a meal, a shoe-shining, or a haircut.
I spent three years in China, and then moved to Japan. Now, after being away from almost two and a half years, it was time to go back. So we did, my girl and I, to Beijing and then Shanghai.
Beijing hutongs offer a glimpse into this outdoor community. While the hutongs have suffered the ravages of central planning and development, and the ones that still exist are overrun with tourists, mostly Chinese, there still clings a sense of real China around the edges.
My girl and I spent a long time wandering arond hutongs. This is what we saw.
Hutongs are full of mystery and atmosphere, life and noise, food and clatter. The center streets are bustling with tourists, food stalls, young men standing around, and grannies walking kids home from school. Side streets are empty and quiet, but hanging laundry and leaning bikes, and the clatter of a pot and in some deep and distant kitchen and offer hints as to the life behind closed doors.
For more on Hutongs, read The Last Days of Old Beijing. It is a truly wonderful tale of a vanishing way of life.
Seeing as how we're less than two weeks from the big C, I thought I'd better do something about Christmas cards. You know. Because there's still like two weeks to go! Plenty of time! And heyyyyy, I've got things to be finishing and deadlines and stuff, so let's spend the entire weekend day stalking the elusive toddler pose conveying the perfect amount of holiday cheer while staying well on this side of cheeseballz.
We only got ONE good shot. But one is all you need.
Here are some of the others:
Setting up our shot. Creating a seamless backdrop with my sheets and then allowing my toddler to climb over everything. Because I'm so pro.
Practicing posing. Where posing = running away then coming over to me demanding to see the poorly executed picture.
Deciding to do a photo shoot with twinkeling fairy lights and then disovering that the lights that you bought are battery powered and the battery holes are covered by a plastic plate which is screwed on by the world's smallest phillips-head screws and we don't have any screwdrivers small enough but that's okay, I'll MacGyver a solution with a pair of tweezers and some scissors and OH THERE! I got it open, but that's the computer chip so let's go back and unscrew these other screws and now I've stripped the screws and now this is impossible and it's naptime therefore eff everything I'm sending my husband to the hardware store. A poorly executed plan if there ever was one.
Okay, regrouping. Testing the setup with Baby Honey while Stella naps.
Run away baby.
Trying really hard to get some festive non-cheezy hat photos. (Shuddup. It's not a cheezy idea.)
With a very suspicious toddler.
Who is obviously taking none of my bs.
I tired really hard for the hat photo, guys. It just wasn't hapening.
Anyway, there you go.
Friends and family, from the above outlined evidence, you can expect your cards sometime before Valentines day.
Internet, I'll post the winning picture on Christmas Day! Hooray! You WIIIIIIINNNN!
****Updated to add*****
OMG BLOGGY FAUX PAS!!! I forgot to attribute this idea! I got it here! I wasn't trying to be mean and steal stuff like ideas and things, but I just forgot! I swear! I forgot! Anyway, Baby Rabies gave my the idea, and you can go there now for a wonderful tutorial on how to take photos JUST LIKE THESE (with hopefully a more willing participant).