Thursday, May 31, 2007

Not much new going on - just hot, hot, hot weather!!

Here's Duane's old car - Richard is driving it now. He has installed a different muffler - makes it sound really loud and "low rumble".....

Yesterday, he got some new here it is in the middle of the process (the rear tire is the new one....really "thin" tires - looks like it would ride like a horse/wagon!

He seems to like it....

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Here's the latest from Richard - his latest project...His Scoutmaster gave him this van.....Duane and he have actually gotten it running. He has bleached it - so it looks a little bit better.....

This weekend, my wonderful neighbor invited me over again to share his garden's bounty. I brought several grocery bags full of various greens and veggies - dumped them on the counter and in the sink.

This is several different types of lettuce. All tender and yummy. (And some brocolli that was just about ready to bloom and go to seed- getting a little late/warm here.)

Here are the beets cleaned up a bit. The white veggie is a german raddish, he said. I expected it to be harsh - but it was just right!

I'm not the best rose-tender....but when we came back from China, the roses were pretty! (Some years, they don't bloom at all - I'm sure I'm just missing something).

And last, this is one of the only still photos I took the other night at Robert's last high school band concert. He's still wearing Daddy's old hat....this is the jazz band (informal) performance they do in the lobby after the formal concert.
Gotta run, K

Friday, May 25, 2007

So we're back from China and back from the beach trip! After we came back from China, we just checked in with the boys, mowed the lawn and the next morning we headed to the sailboat. Duane needed a little vacation after the tough work in Beijing. I, of course, did nothing tough in China!

This is at the tip of Cape Lookout....we wandered from the protected "bight" over the sand dunes to the Atlantic view.

We were the only ones for miles! This is our dingy pulled up out onto the shore so we could go walking. I understand that weekend days in the summer that this place is swarming with powerboats. I think mid-week in the spring is better!

Just a photo of the boat anchored near Beaufort.

This is my string of flags...the top one is the Oriental, NC flag. Next is a set of flags that supposedly means "come over to our boat for a drink!" - that I got by sending in several corks from Pusser's Rum from BVI. The bottom flag is the BVI flag. Just for fun.
Duane found the prettiest shell I think I've ever actually seen (not in a souvenir shop) laying on the shore. Cape Lookout had a huge number of really pretty shells.

One last boat photo...ran across this one in Beaufort - I'm sure this is Hagen Das ice cream....there are two little "dots" over the "O" in Frozen. Cute.

My lovely sis made this top for me for my birthday. I found it in the garage this morning - the mail-lady sometimes scoots things under the garage door that we leave open a foot for the dogs. There was no one else around to take the photo, so I decided this would be a good way to do it...I think I look kindof weird. Maybe because it's "mirror image" (haha) of how photos of me usually fits wonderfully, thank you very much. And the color is my fav! Gotta work on some pale green underwear.....

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The people Duane has been meeting with this week took us out to dinner again last night. It was really a treat. All kinds of great food - best of all was the Peking Duck - fresh roasted for us - you made these dainty little won-tons with duck meat/skin and various vegetables/sauce. Yum!

Here is Dean (in the middle), also from Raleigh (he went with us to the Great Wall and out to eat most nights we were here - enjoyed his company!)
The lovely couple! I joined them directly from work - so they didn't have time to change out of work clothes.
The highlight of the evening was several live performances by some really talented folks. Here is an un-believably flexible young lady. If you look closely, she is balanced on her TEETH - her "butt" is basically contacting the BACK of her heat. She's spinning these cloth discs on her extremeties. She did other amazing flexible poses, but the other shots were blurry.

Another very interesting performer was a "face-changer" - this fellow changed his face over and over....really cool in person.

Last shot was the little flexible girl. They called her over to pose. She was very sweet.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Our 25th anniversary dinner was very late! Duane didn't get finished at work until 9:30PM - so our original choice in restaurants was out... so we got a suggestion from the hotel desk. It was quite nice - nothing particularly special though at 11pm! We'll have to do it again in the states (Duane would prefer some American food at this point anyway!!)

I did enjoy mine - some crispy coconut shrimp was a highlight. Fun to eat with just chopsticks! (And I think handling your food with your hands is a no-no in China!)

That was last night - this morning I started the day with the breakfast of champions - McDonald's!! They don't have apple pies - so I got this Taro Pie - kind of a purple sweet potato. Actually pretty good!

Then it's off to visit the Summer Palace - a 40 minute taxi ride north of town. Actually, it's still in town, but so is everything around here!

It apparently was a "getaway" built in the 1700's for the royalty. Torn down by various sects and invaders. Rebuilt in the 1800's. So, it's not as old as a lot of the things around China. It's really just a great big park in the outskirts of town. A local /tourist spot, for sure.

Pretty cool covered walkway around the edge of the lake. Can't let the royalty get in the sun, can we?

This was one of the few rooms they had visible to visitors. They put this plexiglass up - and it's dirty and a bit foggy. You really can't see much. I found a trick with the camera - put the camera lens up to the plexiglass - turn off the flash - and you'll be able to see what's inside! Unfortunately, what's inside is a bit dirty and dusty....
The stuff on the floor that looks like dust - well, it's dust!

View of the temples from the bottom of the hill.

Very cool looking...looks very intricate from a distance. Up close, not so intricate. Still pretty cool.

Pretty tiles on the outside but a little beat-up looking. These are all Buddhas.
This was one of the main attractions at the temple on top of the hill. Sorry, just a little disappointing considering what it looks like in the distance!

This is the view from the top - looking from the railing of the temple in the previous photo. A pretty good size lake....I walked all the way around.....crazy, I believe. So, I exited the temple on the hill to the right and walked all along the shoreline all the way back to the left. Took about 3 hours. Felt like several miles. About 1/2 way I was wondering about my sanity! I wanted to be sure and visit the "island" in the middle....

Maybe 1/2 hour of walking I was experimenting with my "wide-angle" function on my camera. I was trying to get more of the shoreline included in the shot. I don't think it made much difference.
Looks like a peaceful postcard photo, doesn't it. I can imagine strolling down the willow-shrouded lane with a breeze blowing across the lake in the pre-air-conditioning days. Very nice.
This is the farthest point I walked, I think. See the temple far, far away in the middle. Wow, my feet were complaining!

I guess I look like a friendly tourist, because I was asked 3 times to take peoples photos today. This nice Chinese man handed me his camera and motioned for me to take his photo with the temples in the background. I, of course, then motioned for him to take my photo with the temples in the background!! If you look closely you'll see I have my Beijing 2008 hat on - purchased the other day from a street vendor of a buck - it was so windy it flew off several times today.

I finally made it around to the "island" I first saw from the hill - nothing much really there. Just more buildings.

I'm pretty sure this sign says: this tree is very old. It was propped up in several places. They had some other trees (willows along the water) with signs in English that said the trees were over three hundred years old.

I don't rant much, but you know my amusement/feelings about the "squatty - potties" - they really need to fix this issue with the upcoming Olympics!! American ladies just won't be able to cope..... with the splatter, no handholds - I can see it now, the headlines will read - "Millions came to the Olympics - 1/2 of them had to be rescued from the crouch position in the squatty-potties"

Almost finished with my million-mile march, I spied these "porta-potties" -China style....if figured, they must have real potties inside!! Am I lucky, or what? There are two "attendants - so they're probably nice & clean!
Well, I refuse to show you a photo - it just would insult your senses! Inside was, indeed something that looked somewhat like a toilet. It was, however, a toilet seat on top of a structure that held a plastic bag. UGH! Needless to say, I closed the door and departed the area towards the nearest squatty-potty! I guess nothing more needs to be said about what the attendants are for!!

On to brighter scenes - the area that was apparently a stage for the royalty was being used by a couple of "fighters" - I'm sure it all had meaning. Just not sure what the meaning was. It was pretty cool to watch - they really came close to each other with the swords.

I know these aren't too terribly clear, but it shows what the dancer's faces looked like. I'm not sure if they were guys or gals...

That's about it for now - I probably won't be able to post again - tomorrow (Thursday) is a travel day - and so is the next day if I can't get my reservations changed to better flights. I will overnight in Vancouver by myself on Thursday night - Duane has much better flights - but his tickets are done by IBM's travel agency. I'll be at the mercy of the American Airlines ticket agent. We'll see if we can convince them to put us on the same flights! Zaijian! (see ya!)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

So I just bummed around today - taking in more sights and getting a little more used to the subway system. Here is the subway near our hotel - a very nice neat station. Note how empty it is here:
This is maybe 2 minutes later. Amazing how fast the cycles are.
This is a station further away from the "business district". They get a little more "tired" looking.
But inside, they're all quite nice. Everyone is quiet - sleeping or just standing. No one hardly ever speaks at all. Usually just a child talking to a parent.
Here is a scene outside of a subway station. Everyone rides their bike to the station. It's a bunch of bikes - this is just 1/2 of the bikes at this station.

I was brave again today for lunch! This nice young lady cooked me some lo mein while I watched. The bottles on the counter were filled with various stuff she squirted into the wok. I assume soy sauce, oil, maybe some vinegar. Hey, what the heck - the wok was very hot, right?

She had a stainless container (visible beside the wok) that had some sort of chile spice liquid. She motioned "do you want some" to which, of course, I nodded "affirmative". You can see the bits of spice in this photo - wow. It wasn't really hot to your tounge, but if you breathed in while chewing, watch out! Actually pretty good - 4RMB, so about 50 cents!
Walking back from picking up my lunch, I spied these kids on the sidewalk.
Kids are the same everywhere. These were apparently from the same school - having a blast walking somewhere.
I walked into the room and found roses on the counter from the hotel staff. Very nice touch. For my birthday - they must have recorded the info from my passport.
It's our anniversary night - 25 years.....we're heading out to a restaurant that one of Duane's Chinese executives suggested. I'll be sure to report!!