Yes, I’m Home WITH All Those Bags!

February 22nd, 2010

As promised, I am blogging a few more times.  I’m still a bit “fuzzy” from the 15 hour time change so “reflections” of the trip will come at another time.

At 1:30PM Tuesday, Regina and Carl graciously took me to the airport, helped me check in AND assisted in rearranging the packing of my bags so not to be charged 560 Yuan ($80.00) for an overweight bag.  Whew!  I made it.  Actually, I think it was still over weight but the ticket counter attendant wanted me “gone.” :)

While leaving Shenyang and saying goodbye was difficult, it was tempered a bit by the frenzy of the “repacking” of bags.  My plane for Beijing departed at 4:05PM.

The trip from Shenyang to Beijing was uneventful except for my “stuck” carry-on bag in the overhead bin compartment of the plane.  It took four people to eventually pry my bag from the bin.  All my assistants were amazed by the weight of the bag.  Of course this was my interpretation of the grimaces on their faces and their loud chatter. :)

With about a three hour layover in Beijing, I attempted to eat western food – a Panini sandwich.  Okay, it was a nice attempt at a vegetable and cheese Panini but not quite “there” yet. I departed for LAX at 9:00PM.

The 10 ½ hour flight home on Air China was relatively calm and peaceful.  I became a bit restless toward the end of the flight when breakfast was served.  The western breakfast was an omelet and the Chinese breakfast was porridge and a packaged duck egg.  It was a tough choice, but I went with the omelet. :)

I arrived at LAX at 4:30PM Tuesday.  Yes, I arrived home on the same day I left and at approximately the same time.  I liked gaining my “lost” day back. :)

I made it through U.S. Customs with no glitches.  Then my only injury of the six month adventure occurred.  I tried to help a lady retrieve her bag off the baggage carousel only to rip off one of my fingernails.  Wouldn’t you know my only injury would occur on American soil!

So to finish “the rest of the story,” here’s Glen’s version of my departure for Tucson.

It was the perfect plan…the ultimate surprise.  Deb was flying into Los Angeles, Tuesday evening before heading on to Tucson later that night.  I had a meeting in California that day and would be flying from LA to Tucson that night also.  So, without her knowing it I booked the same flight she would be on…a United flight leaving Los Angeles at 9:25pm.  I had even arranged for us to have seats next to each other.  All day I had debated in my mind whether to surprise her in the airport or wait until she boarded the plane and then go sit by her.  As I was driving into LA a little after six o’clock, my cell phone rang.  Identifying itself as a call from Deb, I picked up the phone and said, “Welcome back!” She asked, “Where are you?” I responded, “Why?” She said, “Because they have put me on an earlier flight and I’m sitting on the plane about to take off.” I then explained to her that I was driving to LAX to surprise her on the later flight.  She said, “Next time you try to surprise me, tell me.” And at that moment I realized that life is back to normal.

Okay, life may be back to normal for Glen, but not for me.  I am still fighting the “jet lag.”  After a bit more recovery (hopefully only a couple of days), I’ll write more and attempt some genuine “reflections.”  Until then, see ya, bye, bye.

Pictures Tell the Story..

February 16th, 2010

This stuff is staying for the "next" CAC teacher :)

This stuff is staying for the "next" CAC teacher :)

This stuff is going home with "this" CAC teacher. :)

This stuff is going home with "this" CAC teacher. :)

The pictures tell the story, don’t they?  Yes, this is my last posting from floor 7, NEU, Shenyang, China.  I have been here five months and three weeks.  Okay, let’s just call it six months… Indeed, the time has flown by.  When I arrived it was warm and humid; today I awakened to minus 4F.  When I arrived I was like a new born baby – totally dependent on others for my well-being and survival.  I believe I am leaving as at least a teenager – able to manage on my own but still finding myself in need of periodic help.

I don’t really know what to say.  Perhaps I need to go home and ruminate for awhile on this incredible, life-changing journey.  So very much to say, but yet it’s all jumbled in my head. I think I need some processing time.  All I know at this point is I’ve experienced the adventure of a lifetime. It has been one of the highlights of my entire life.  I am returning home a different and changed person – for the better, I hope!

Perhaps it’s just best for me to blog about the blog.  Yes, that’s right – the blog.  As I worked on setting up a blog before leaving home, some of my friends doubted the usefulness of such an undertaking.  I was spending much time trying to figure out how to set up a blog and some questioned that perhaps I wouldn’t use the blog much, and it might be a waste of time.

As you know, when I arrived my original blog was blocked in China.  I used Google BlogSpot and there seems to be China/Google issues.  Then my friend Todd came to the rescue and got me up and running again.

So has the blogging been worth it?  From my perspective, the answer it a resounding, YES!  I am thrilled I return home with a documented account of my trip.  I’m not sure I would have done as well if I had just written in a journal. I probably would have gotten lazy and quit.  However, I knew at least my mother was reading the blog, so I felt obliged to write most every evening.

Secondly, the blogging proved to be quite therapeutic for me.  As I reflected on the events of everyday, that reflection heightened my awareness of the experiences.  It helped me find the humor in the little things of life.  Also, it gave me an appreciation for the experiences.  I think blogging helped me find the positive and stay focused on the real reason for being here – to teach.

Finally, something unexpected occurred with the blogging.  I have renewed old friendships,   kindled new ones, and been more in touch with family members.  Who would have thought?  Some of my students I taught 30 years ago have been reading and emailing me.  Family members have emailed and commented on the blog. Many of my friends and family have chosen to correspond through  email which has been great.  Dear friends that I’ve allowed myself to “get out of touch with” have been reading, and we have been communicating again.  Do I have to go to China to remind myself of how very important family and friends are?  I think not.  I hope I have learned my lesson.

I do know there are “silent” readers out there and that’s great as well.  I hope if nothing else, this blog reminds me of the importance of family and friends, to look for the humorous things in life, and appreciate everyday as a gift!

I’ll continue to blog a few more times when I return home and process this trip a bit more.

Until then, thanks for reading.  Talk to you from the good ‘ole US of A!!!!!!

Xin Nian Kuai Le – Happy New Year

February 14th, 2010

What an incredible finale to my time in China!!  I have so much I’d like to share about celebrating the Chinese New Year.  However, Teresa, my counselor/advisor (bossy best friend) for 45 years, told me this morning that people don’t want to read; they want to look at pictures and videos.  Okay, ye “Great One” – I will try to tell the story in pictures!  BUT, tomorrow I will write of some of the traditions and stories that accompany Chinese New Year and Chinese New Year’s Eve.

I do want to begin my “picture show” by saying I spent New Year’s Eve day and evening with Regina and her family.  First, Regina invited me to her beautiful home and then we proceeded to her mother and father’s gorgeous home. Regina’s brother, his wife, and daughter also were there for the celebration.  I was welcomed with opened arms and made to feel right at home.  What a marvelous time!

Regina's Home - She's giving me some final lessons in Chinese.  I'm a poor Chinese language student. :(

Regina's Home - She's giving me some final lessons in Chinese. I'm a poor Chinese language student. :(

Carl, Michelle, Regina at their home

Carl, Michelle, Regina at their home

Fireworks for sale everywhere!  On our way to Regina's parent's home

Fireworks for sale everywhere! On our way to Regina's parent's home

Regina's parent's apartment complex

Regina's parent's apartment complex

Cousins Viola and Michelle checking out the fireworks stash.   Hey, Favorite Cousin, is this like us at Granny and PaPa??? :)

Cousins Viola and Michelle checking out the fireworks stash. Hey, Favorite Cousin, is this like us at Granny and PaPa's??? :)

All decorated for the holiday~

All decorated for the holiday

Making dumplings!!!

Making dumplings!!!

My "first" dumpling! :)

My "first" dumpling! :)

Regina's mother and father - very proficient at dumpling stuffing

Regina's mother and father - very proficient at dumpling stuffing

Just a "few" of the finished products!

Just a "few" of the finished products!

Tradition to set off a round of firecrackers before the New Year's Eve feast

Tradition to set off a round of firecrackers before the New Year's Eve feast

At the door of the parent's apartment - Spring couplets for happiness, prosperity, long life

At the door of the parent's apartment - Spring couplets for happiness, prosperity, long life

An incredible feast including fish, shrimp, mutton, chicken, ham, pork, pig's feet, brocolli and bell peppers, radish slaw, potato noodles, eggplant and vegetables....

An incredible feast including fish, shrimp, mutton, chicken, ham, pork, pig's feet, broccoli and bell peppers, radish slaw, potato noodles, eggplant and vegetables....

This phenomenal meal was prepared by Regina's brother!!! Her brother!!!

This phenomenal meal was prepared by Regina's brother!!! Her brother!!!

The absolutely LARGEST shrimp I have EVER seen!  I mean it!!!

The absolutely LARGEST shrimp I have EVER seen! I mean it!!!

Regina's mother

Regina's mother

What an wonderful family!  Regina's father said it was "destiny" bringing us together to celebrate.  I would agree. :)

What a wonderful family! Regina's father said it was "destiny" bringing us together to celebrate. I would agree. :)

On the way home, people burning fake money at crossroads in memory of relatives who have died this past year. Many of these little fires dotted the streets.

On the way home, people burning fake money at crossroads in memory of relatives who have died this past year. Many of these little fires dotted the streets.

And!!!!!!

And!!!!!!

Finally, there is absolutely no way to capture the magnitude of celebration at midnight – fireworks, fireworks, and more fireworks – VERY LOUD fireworks!!! All I can give you is a small taste that does not do the sight and sounds justice.  Here are the fireworks we set off at Regina’s parent’s apartment.  The Family Fireworks Lastly, here are the fireworks out my balcony.  Also know that there were even more fireworks out my bedroom window.  Fireworks everywhere.Happy New Year! One last comment – the fireworks have been occurring randomly for about a week now, day and night.  New Year’s Eve day and night the fireworks were constant.  Needless to say I’m feeling a little sleep deprived – of course it’s worth it! :) Tomorrow, “the rest of the story.”

A little talkin’ A little walkin’ A little lookin’ and a little listenin’

February 12th, 2010

Today’s post may be the most “random of random” I’ve written.

First, let me relate a perplexing communication episode – at least an “attempt” at communication.  As I left the apartment to run down the seven flights of stairs to dispose of my garbage, I was detained on floor five.  There seemed to be an intense conversation between JuneJune (or NayNay – whichever you prefer) and the Russian teacher.  It appeared JuneJune/NayNay wanted to enter me into this conversation as well.  Not understanding a word JuneJune/NayNay said, I looked to the Russian teacher for guidance. (I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know the Russian teacher’s name.) Anyway, with a confused look on her face she said, “I think she is saying something is happening in four hours.”  So I ran down my litany of past occurrences. Will the water be turned off in four hours?  Will the electricity be turned off? The Russian teacher (I’ll call her Olga) did not know.  JuneJune just kept talking like we would eventually “get it.”  The only thing we knew was it involved four hours (or so we thought).  Finally, Olga called a Chinese teacher who speaks Russian and handed JuneJune the phone.  Then Olga talked to the Chinese teacher.  It seems we are invited to a dinner tomorrow at 4PM given by the International Exchange Office on floor 4 somewhere.  I find it odd that the international office would tell the non-English speaking JuneJune/NayNay to relay this message to me and Olga when they have Jake who speaks English in their office.  Oh well.  You know my response by now, don’t you – Who Knows???

Next, I decided to literally “take a walk in the park.”  While it was a balmy 6F, I felt the need to escape for a while from floor 7.  As I sat in the park, just me and the pigeons, I couldn’t help but smile as I recalled the past pleasures sitting in this park.  Here are two contrasting pictures.

Park 2
Park five months ago :)

The park today :)
The park today :)

Finally, I decided to take one last walk out the big West Gate.  I noticed the Chinese New Year decorations adorning the various stores. The stores are decorated with Spring Couplets.  Spring Couplets are paper scrolls engraved with blessing and wishes for good fortune, happiness, prosperity, health, wealth, and a long life.  These Chinese couplets have three pieces, two longer ones vertically hung on each side of the door, and one shorter one horizontally hung on the top of the door.

Notice the Spring Couplets
Notice the Spring Couplets

I also took a glimpse at the vendors, and of course the firework stands. Click here for a stroll out the big west gate

Should I buy fireworks for floor seven??? :)
Should I buy fireworks for floor seven??? :)

Finally, let me end by sharing some of the celebration out my apartment window this evening.Some Action Outside My Window

I told you it’s random….but then again, that’s how my brain seems to be functioning these final days in Shenyang :) :) :)

“This is the way we wash our clothes, so early in the morning…”

February 11th, 2010

Please sing along with me – “This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes, wash our clothes; This is the way we wash our clothes so early in the morning.”  Yes, I’m singing! Sorry about that for all of you who know how I sing. :) So it was another “see ya later alligator” day – Not a sad “bye, bye” but certainly a memorable one.  Today was my last day to wash clothes on floor two.  While tromping up and down six flights of stairs to wash clothes has probably helped me drop a few pounds, it will be nice to wash and dry on floor one of 2918 N. Ivory Ct. (Yes, I know.  I am a self-indulgent, lazy American.) Nonetheless, I’ve provided a little narrative of my journey down the stairs. Click Here And I have posted a video of the trek back up the stairs. Click Here I thought all my self-indulgent fellow American friends might enjoy this last journey with me. :)

Bye Bye Floor 2 Washing Machine :)

Bye Bye Floor 2 Washing Machine :)

More Goodbyes…

February 10th, 2010

While yesterday was a pleasure to say “see ya later alligator,” today was great fun, yet sad.  Mrs. Wang, who has been cleaning the apartment since my arrival, came and we visited and laughed for over two hours.  I asked Yvette to come so she might interpret for us.  While Mrs. Wang and I have been unable to communicate using language, I think we’ve done a great job communicating through our hearts these past six months.  She brought me a beautiful wall hanging symbolizing, “May you bring in more money than you spend.”  You’re happy on that one, aren’t you Glen?!?! :) :)

I learned she is a few years younger than me and has a 22 year old son.  We talked (through Yvette) of our homes, our favorite foods, and our children. She told Yvette I was a good singer.  I laughed so hard. I asked Yvette to find out why she said this.  Mrs. Wang reminded me I showed her pictures of my daughter in my niece’s wedding.  To try and explain that the picture was taken at a wedding, I hummed a little “Here Comes the Bride.”  Now I laughed even harder!!! :) :) :)

Mrs. Wang - We communicate through laughter!

Mrs. Wang - We communicate through laughter!

After I said a sad goodbye to Mrs. Wang, Yvette presented me with some bracelets and a video CD she made.  I was so touched that she would take the time to make this video.  She has been spending 7 to 8 hours a day studying

Goodbye to my wonderful student, Yvette...

Goodbye to my wonderful student, Yvette...

for the GRE.  We watched the 13 different videos of Chinese singers, musicians and dancers. She explained the stories and significance of each clip.  I will cherish this CD.  Just wonderful!  I love knowing the stories behind the dances and the songs.

After drinking hot chocolate together, I said goodbye to Yvette about 3PM. She will be moving back home today out of the dorm as they have turned off the heat in her dorm room.

Today reminded me that the reason my experience in China has been so marvelous is because of the people.  I have truly been blessed to have all these wonderful people in my life even if it has been for just a short time. I am forever changed by their kindness and their marvelous uplifting spirits….

Bye Bye Carrefour

February 9th, 2010

While yesterday was a nostalgic day, today was a “bye bye Carrefour day.”  I must admit I have no sadness over leaving my weekly treks to Carrefour.  Today proved to be the “great send-off.”  As people are shopping for the Spring Festival, I can only compare my shopping experience to this – imagine combining the crowds of Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving Eve, Easter Eve, and just for kicks throw in the day before 4th of July and Halloween.  Then multiple that combined crowd by, oh let’s say a thousand, and you’ve got the Carrefour shopping mob.  Unbelievable! Not wanting to EVER repeat this experience, I once again bought too many bottles of mineral water.   Since I’d been so successful with cabs lately, I decided to buy 12 bottles and catch a taxi back to campus.  Not to happen – it was not a banner taxi day, and I ended up hauling my loot on my back again.  While trekking like a pack mule, a random wad of spit came flying from  a passing hacker and landed on the sleeve of my coat.  And just to make it a perfect day, I fell on the ice right before I entered the east gate. Yes, folks, it’s been great, but it’s time to come home……

A Little Chinese, A Little Japanese, and A Little Italian/American Food

February 8th, 2010

It’s been quite a successful shopping day.  Yvette, the student I coached for the English Speaking Speech Contest, took me shopping.  We returned to Tai Yuan Street where Daphne, Glen and I shopped last week.  First, the weather was excellent. While it was “wet” from a snow yesterday, the temperature was around 30F.  That’s WARM to me these days.  Also, we had no problem with hailing a taxi going or returning.  Daphne showed me a location where it was easier to catch a cab, and sure enough it worked today.  We caught one within minutes when we were ready to leave.  In the past I have waited 45 minutes to find a taxi to take me back to NEU and as many as ten cabs might turn me down before one will drive me to campus.  So the taxi episode was a miracle in and of itself.

Glen you will be proud.  I found a pair of boots originally $170.00 American dollars for only $58.00.  And yes, I bought them.  How I will pack them, I don’t know.  Can I wear a pair of tennis shoes and a pair of boots simultaneously on the trip home????

After shopping we ate at a type of “food court” in Isetan Department Store, a Japanese based company.  There we feasted on sushi, hot pot and pizza.  That’s right – pizza.  While it was a bit “different” as one of the seafood items on the pizza included squid, it was still tasty.  We were even given knives and forks with which to eat.  While I opted for the American way to eat pizza (with my hands), Yvette tried the knife and fork for a while.  She finally gave up and announced “chopsticks are wonderful tools for eating.”

Yes, Yvette, A knife and fork is a good thing :)
Yes, Yvette, A knife and fork is a good thing :)

I think Yvette is quite proficient with the fork and knife.
I think Yvette is quite proficient with the fork and knife.

Never mind - Chopsticks are wonderful for eating!!! :)
Never mind – Chopsticks are wonderful for eating!!! :)

We ended our outing with a trip to Starbucks.  This was Yvette’s first Starbucks trip.  She tried the Carmel Macchiato and proclaimed it as “excellent.”  I reveled in a mug of  plain black coffee.  I do love my black coffee!

A "first" for Yvette

A "first" for Yvette

As I walked back to the apartment from the south gate, admiring the fresh layer of white snow, I became a bit nostalgic thinking how I will be walking this path for only a few more days.  While it will be wonderful to return to the desert, I have come to feel comfortable maneuvering around Shenyang.  Six months ago nothing, absolutely nothing was comfortable or familiar.  I smile thinking about my six month personal journey…. :) :) :)

Xiao Nian – Not Box Toss Day

February 7th, 2010

I have an answer to one of my “I don’t knows.”  Yesterday was not Box Toss Day.  It was Xiao Nian. What is that you ask?  It’s like super special spring cleaning.  How did I find this out?  I received an email from Daphne asking me if I was hearing fireworks. (The answer would be yes indeed.  The fireworks filled the night with sounds I can only imagine resemble a war zone.)  She explained that today is XIAO NIAN, and Chinese people enter into the Spring Festival. Not knowing what “Xiao Nian” was, I looked it up on the internet and here is the interesting explanation and story I discovered.  Enjoy!

Traditions assert that a mortal named Zhang was a wealthy farmer who owned acreage of fertile land with great harvests and livestock.  He had everything he needed and had a good family.  However, one day he

Kitchen God

Kitchen God

became attracted to a concubine and his wife eventually left him.  He lived a vicarious life until he exhausted all his wealth.  His concubine left him and he was left to wander the streets as a homeless beggar.

One day in the winter Zhang became too weak and fainted while knocking on a door begging for food.  The lovely lady who answered the door took him in and nursed him back to health.  When he awoke he found himself in a small kitchen next to the warm hearth.  When he looked out the window he had seen his host.  To his surprise it was his old wife.  Embarrassed and not being able to look her in the face he jumped into the hearth.  She tried to douse him with water but the fire kept on blaring and in a flash his ashes went to the heavens.

Upon receiving a report of Zhang’s story, the Jade Emperor declared and appointed Zhang to be the Kitchen God. The heavenly ruler declared that someone who learned such a lesson would be all knowing and could influence the heavens for eternity.

Spring Festival traditionally begins on the 23rd or 24th of the 12th month of the lunar calendar.  This day, called Xiao Nian  which occurs about 7 days before the Chinese New Year, marks the beginning of the holiday as the households begin “Spring Cleaning” to prepare for the New Year Celebration.  This also marks the day the legendary Kitchen God is sent to everyone’s house to oversee the affairs of the household. It is said that the Kitchen God on the last night of the twelfth month, returns to heaven to report back to the Jade Emperor about the harvest and behavior of the families.

It is therefore a tradition to offer sacrifices of sweet candies and/or cakes made of Lotus to the Kitchen God so that he has difficulty speaking and passing on any negative reports.  Interestingly enough the sacrifice is a compromise since the Kitchen God never minds the sweet candy and usually accepts it.

On New Year’s Eve (the last evening of the lunar year), the Kitchen god and various other gods will come down to earth to spend the New Year’s Day with the mortals. On New Year’s Eve people of all walks of life hold a feast to usher in the Gods.   After the feast they burn kitchen God Prints, paper chairs, and paper horses while sprinkling over the flames three cups of liquor to bid the gods farewell.  It is then responsibility of every family to pay respect to their ancestors.  They might have a family tree with some food, drink and incense burning to their honor.

The Kitchen God is represented by a rice paper print and hung in the kitchen near the stove.  He is considered the soul of the household and is usually placed near the hearth for that reason.  After making sweet sacrifices to the Kitchen God, Qingdao locals burn the print so that the Kitchen God can go to the heavens and meet with the Jade Emperor (keep in mind that this is a Taoist tradition even though many non Taoist mainland Chinese have assimilated it into their culture).

There are many nationalities in China, and traditions vary from county to county and province to province.  For instance, in Shandong many people burn the Kitchen God Print to send him to the Jade Emperor on Xiao Nian.  In other places they wait until New Year’s Eve.  Today, many people may have a wood version that sits near the stove as a permanent fixture.  They also sell prints at temple fairs and cultural stores. These versions are not intended to be permanent fixtures in your kitchen and Kitchen God prints are sold separately for this annual burning.

The Kitchen God is an important deity in China. It is considered the soul of the kitchen in many households.  Sacrifices are made to this deity in the belief that the Kitchen God will ensure that there is abundant food, good harvests, and good health.  No matter where you are, if the locals believe in the Kitchen God, they will post a new print in the kitchen and a Door God on the door symbolizing that the Spring Festival is starting.

“Box Toss Day” and Other Random Observations

February 6th, 2010

To begin with an update, after a 30 hour trip, Glen safely arrived at 2918 N. Ivory Ct. greeted by a “stinky” but extremely elated Yoda.  I’m always glad when my visitors are safely home.  Next, it’s my turn. :)

The countdown to my departure has begun. As I prepare to leave, I’ve contemplated my approach to blogging. Should I  “recap” memorable moments? – Or how about reflections of lessons learned? – Or perhaps thoughts on intercultural theory vs. actual intercultural living? As I left this morning to buy a new jump drive so I could copy  some public speaking files for Father John, it became very clear I would continue to write on the never ending topic of “new” observations.

As I left my apartment and entered the apartment compound yard, it literally began to “rain” boxes.  I looked up and people were throwing boxes of all sizes and shapes out their windows – floor 5, floor 6, and even floor 7.  As soon as they hit the ground a few men pounced on the “treasures from the sky” and began to dismantle the boxes to be carted away.  So is this “box toss” day?  I decided perhaps it would be safer to walk on the far side of the road in the compound to avoid being hit by the “flying boxes.”  My conclusion – yes, once again the answer issssss… “I don’t know.”  I suppose I could live here forever, and I would continue to encounter the “I don’t knows.”

Raining Boxes....

Raining Boxes....

Collection of the "Box Toss"

Collection of the "Box Toss"

Oh, here’s a “random” observation for you.  As I returned from my USB purchasing trip out the east gate, I passed the Russian teacher living on floor 5.  We smiled, said hello, and continued on about our merry way.  I thought how sad it is that I’ve been in the foreign teachers apartments for six months and basically have only met Kim and Han (from the Netherlands).  There is the Russian teacher, a Japanese teacher, a Chinese teacher, a German teacher, and who knows who else.  The only reason I met Han is because he and his wife are Kim’s neighbors on floor six and they came to her Christmas party.  I wish we’d had an opportunity to all meet at some sort of gathering.  Then again, that’s just me.  Maybe none of them are interested in socializing with Americans.  Who knows?  Yes, I’ll say it again – “I just don’t know.”

Next, I had lunch with Father John at his favorite family-run eatery.  While the place from the outside is anything but attractive, the food is quite tasty.  We always eat fried eggplant when we go.  I enjoy visiting with Father John.  He’s been here a few years and hopes to stay a few more.  I took him some of my clothes, shoes, coats, and blankets to distribute to the homeless.  I toted all the stuff to his dorm in my rolling suitcase.  It looked quite “suspicious” as I went to Father John’s with my suitcase and blanket. :)

Home of the Best "Fried Eggplant" - zha qie zi

Home of the Best "Fried Eggplant" - zha qie zi

Happy and full of zha qie zi

Happy and full of zha qie zi

I think the Chinese New Year “pre -festivities” are already beginning.  All night random “booms” and “pops” invaded the evening.  As I type, massive fireworks are going off.  At first I thought perhaps all fireworks were city displays, but I’m beginning to think individuals purchase fireworks and set them off  throughout the city of 7 million.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll find out.

Okay, so maybe I’ll begin my “meaningful” recap of my China experiences tomorrow.  Who knows??? :)