Sunday, April 7, 2013


Chinese people can sleep anywhere.  The following two pictures were taken minutes apart.  The first was as we headed to the metro stop close to our home, and the second was when we emerged at the other end.

Just last week I was driving in town (taking the boys to meet dad for lunch) and passed two construction workers in the middle lane of a round-about tucked in between their two trucks laying on the ground asleep.  In the middle of the road.  Granted, that was their work site--there was equipment around and a hole in the ground.  But who decides to just park it next to a hole in the ground and inches away from steel metal death missiles hurdling past through the chaos that is Chinese traffic?  Who??  Those two Chinese dudes, that's who.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Our blessed a-yi!  For the past month James and I have been enjoying Saturday afternoons out while our a-yi (housekeeper) stays home with sleeping kids.  It has been such a sanity-saver for us to be able to get out together just the two of us and explore the city.  A couple of weeks ago we traversed two uncharted (for us) areas of our new hometown.  The first, Xintiandi, is famous for being the location of the first congress of the Chinese Community Party as well as its traditional shikumen ("stone gate") houses on narrow alleyways.  The beauty and the poetry of it is, this significant historical site for Chinese Communism is now a thriving shopping area (long live Chinese capitalism!).

The next stop was an antiques market.  Take "antiques" with a grain of salt.  Shop and stall owners will swear up and down that this vase or that statue is 700 years old, but if you look closely, you'll find workers in the back room taking spanking new merchandise and aging it with sandpaper and dirt (or so it is told on the grapevine).  But, if you are looking for antiques from a more recent era, there is a cornucopia of relics from the last century: radios, fans, lamps, microphones, typewriters, record players, telephones, iron stoves, propaganda and silver screen movie posters, ancient suitcases, medium-format cameras name it, it's here, crammed in some shop or laying in a heap on the sidewalk.  

Whatever you do, don't say cheese--large-format cameras and cannons don't combine well.

The scrum of treasures

Zhqt do you notice?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Someone told me it's all happening at the zoo

The Shanghai Zoological Park is a short walk up the street from us.  I, like many of you, have seen the YouTube videos of crazy stuff going down at Chinese zoos, so I've been a little hesitant to go.  However, after being locked up with three boys for three weeks of Christmas break, I was willing to brave the lions.  We went twice in a three day period with two different groups of friends.  On Friday (week ago last), immediately upon entering the gates, the children heeded the invitation of wide open spaces to RUN.

 and RUN

We saw a few creatures, Jonah found a snake skin on the ground of the reptile house (not a display, just trash...ah, China)...

then found another field in which to run and throw dirt clods at one another (with only one occurrence of a rock injury--sneaky rock).

We ate lunch near another field, with more running, then focused on animals and walking through the park for a while.

The following Monday we went with a different set of monkeys...

(Look at those beggars!  Sign clearly visible to not feed the animals, but they know they're going to get something.)

So actually, these were the monkeys:

We learned where to go to avoid danger:

Something tells me it's all happening at the zoo.  I do believe it, I do believe it's true.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dinner and laundry

Or the public execution of Daffy.

(Yes, those are socks on the palm tree/bush in the foreground.)

Friday, January 4, 2013

The weather outside

Yesterday was gray and frightfully cold.  Snow sprinkled down intermittently like a flurry of polka dots. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmasing in China

Christmas is the new, hot thing right now in China.  Its presence, however, is really only felt in the centers of commerce.  Local malls and stores invite their customers to enjoy a shiny, plastic Christmas in their homes, but we don't see much evidence from the street that this is happening--or at least happening in the way that we are used to.  Twinkle lights are scarce, and the festive twinkles in eyes, and springs in steps, and "Merry Christmas!"-ing that we're used to enjoying from passers-by is non-existent (or is that really just the manic panic of getting everything done before the big day?  "MerRY ChRIStMaS!" [twitch]).   Malls here have invested in lovely holiday displays, and each time we go to our local Carrefour, our visit is accompanied by "Jingle Bells" played on a continuous loop ("Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleeee...").  Ah, Christmas in China.  It's all packages, boxes, and bags, no dahoo dores. There is no antecedent, so the holiday hangs prettily in its plastic casing...meaningless.  It's like when Americans try to celebrate Chinese New Year.  So we're looking forward to some pretty serious festivizing come February.

BUT we had a great Christmas day!  There was a wild, mad dash to the tree and a flurry of wrapping paper.  When it settled, James let the boys open a few presents.  We gorged on pancakes with strawberries (in season here somehow), played with new toys, took naps, then got cleaned up for a little get-together with new friends.  It was a perfect day.