Saturday, February 21, 2009

Li Jiang China, May 2008

I just put this album together so I thought I'd go ahead and post it here, in case anyone is following. This is not in order; we went to Beijing before we went to Li Jiang, but this is all so long ago, I figure getting anything up from our China trip would be an improvement. I didn't spend too much time culling photos, so it is pretty long. These are photos of the week we spent in Li Jiang, China, our last stop before returning to the USA May 25, 2008. We were in the Li Jiang area around May 19 - May 24, 2008.

Unfortunately, this trip was so long ago, I've forgotten some of the details. Li Jiang is near Dali in the Hunan Province in the west of the country. It is quite close to Nepal. The area is populated mostly by Chinese minorities, such as the Naxi. The Naxi written language seems simpler and more directly pictorial than the main Chinese written language. The Han are the Chinese majority. I think the Old Town Li Jiang, where we stayed, was absolutely charming, as hopefully the photos will show. Lots of low-priced shopping to be done there, and LOTS of Chinese tourists. There was a definite military presence there as well as this was about the time some issues with Nepal were coming to the forefront again.

We hired a guide and translator, Kelsey, whose English was very good, and a van and driver. We couldn't have gone out and about the way we did without a translator. While there, we visited some nearby small villages. A National Geographic staff member lived most of his life in one of them. We also visited 2 main tourist attractions in the area: Leaping Tiger Gorge and Snow Mountain. We took the tame hiking path at the gorge. The park policemen were stationed all along the walkway and would regularly yell through their megaphones that we were to stay next to the rock wall, a safety precaution against potential falling rocks. At least that is what Kelsey told us they were yelling, and the did motion us to stay next to the rock. At Snow Mountain, it was interesting to see snow as a tourist attraction. I think the area doesn't get much snow in the winter and/or tourists come from other non-snowy regions of China. Canisters of oxygen were sold for those who thought they might need it; the altitude was 4506 meters, which is the highest any of us had ever been. I bought a can but didn't use it. Snow Mountain is popular with newlyweds for wedding photos. We saw 2 or 3 couples doing photo shoots while we were there. They didn't look like they were dressed warmly enough, but hey, I'm not their mom.

The area surrounding Li Jiang is beautiful, with mountains and valleys. Like my impression of most of China, there are surprisingly modern areas and surprisingly primitive ways of living, often closely juxtaposed. The agriculture in particular seemed very primitive. I didn't take a photo, unfortunately, but we regularly saw farmers with their oxen pulling plows in the fields or carts on the side of the roads. Sometimes people were pulling carts. One woman was threshing her grain by throwing it on the road and having the cars drive over it. We were disgusted, however, to see several places where heaps of garbage were just dumped down a ravine next to the road. Judging by the amount of garbage dumped, these may have been "city dumps" for some of the small country villages.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mom's quilt

This is our anniversary present for our 18th anniversary, summer 08. My mom made it. I don't remember how many pieces she said there were althogether, I think over 1000.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Milestone

I think I found a gray hair last weekend.

My response? A huge grin on my face. Right after my announcement, Elise said, "Boy Mom, you sure seem happy about it." I guess I am happy about it. In fact, I'm downright proud of myself, though I can't think exactly why. It's not like I made that hair grow that way. Maybe I'm seeing it as a badge of honor, heralding the emergence of an older, wiser (ha ha!) me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I Just Wanted to Tell You That.

As I was driving Ian to church youth group Wednesday night, we chatted comfortably in the car. He shared how a girl at school had actually taken notice of him the preceding week. It was either the beginning or end of a class, and he was standing by a desk talking to another boy. A girl he didn't really know made her way through the throng of kids, straight up to him, clearly eager to tell him something. While periodically shushing the other boy who was obliviously trying to continue his conversation with Ian, she started sharing. "I know some people with eyebrows, but you got it down - bushy and straight across your head." Ian said he just looked at her. He didn't know what to say. So, she concluded with, "I just wanted to tell you that," and walked away.

With his story finished, Ian couldn't hold it together any longer and just broke up, laughing so hard he was doubled over and speechless. Of course, I was laughing too, though I tried not to double up so I could keep my eyes, teary though they were, on the road. When we were capable of speech once more, we discussed this interaction a little further. Ian didn't think the girl meant anything unkind by her words. She is African-American, and we wondered if maybe unibrows weren't common among African-Americans so maybe she found his particularly intriguing? We also talked about how the genes of my bushy eyebrows and David's very light unibrow have united in a special way in him.

This is not the first time he has gotten comments on his unibrow. A year or 2 ago, school kids started noticing, and the comments started coming. He always found it mildly irritating whenever a kid would inform him of the arrangement of his eyebrows - or should I say eyebrow? - as if their new discovery would be news to him. In this case, though, Ian wasn't irritated at all.

Afterward I thought to myself, of all the ways he could have responded to this girl's bold pronouncement, his was definitely among the healthier options.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Engulfed by Fall

A favorite among Hannah's fall photos.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What can you do with a pig?

You can read with a pig.

You can play chess with a pig.

You can play outside with a pig. Even the dog likes
to play with the pigs -- after she got over her fear
of them.

Two Little Pigs

I just wanted to introduce the two latest additions to our family. Starburst (L) and Taffy (R) were adopted on Sept. 20, 2008. We think their birthday is July 20, 2008, give or take a week or two. We were told they are sisters, but I'm not so sure. Taffy is larger than Starburst, besides a lot hairier.

What do guinea pigs do? Well, mostly they sit still for very long periods of time. They also eat and poop. That's pretty much it. They will run and play in their cage sometimes, usually late at night or early in the morning. And they do make lots of wheeking noises whenever they hear the rustle of a plastic bag; they think they're going to be fed. They don't bite, and they don't generally pee when you hold them on your lap, two important don'ts.