Thursday, June 30, 2011

China Part 6: Snapshots at a Farmers' Market

One morning in Beijing we had a little time and took a stroll through a farmers' market.  It was both familiar and exotic.

Coming from the Seattle area, I am used to having a great farmers' market.  The Pike Place Market is extremely well known, and deservedly so.  This market was a great one, too, and I really enjoyed the time we had to walk and wander, gawking and admiring all the gorgeous produce for sale.

I loved seeing the families doing their shopping and this mother and her adorable little one caught my eye.

Our tour guide, Peter Wong, explained the more unusual vegetables and fruits to us, but this celery needed  no explanation.

Nor these carrots!

These are garlic chives.  They are delicious in stir fry.  I can sometimes get them at my own farmers' market, the Edmonds Summer Market.

These happy ladies at a butcher stall were as happy to have their photo taken as I was to take it.

Every single item in the entire market was beautiful, fresh and clean.  It make me want a kitchen to be available so I could experiment with all the fresh, local ingredients and try my hand at cooking something truly Chinese.

Here you have the famous durian fruit.  You either love it or hate it, and for good reason.  To some, the aroma of a durian is delicious, to others, most offensive.  I find it somewhat stinky, but perhaps I have never had a full nose full, to be honest.  I have been told that the flavor is wonderful.  I would like to try it sometime.


Black fungus, famous in Chinese cuisine.


"1000" year old eggs....

The most surprising find were these apples----from Washington State!

The sunflower seeds looked great.  I didn't realize that sunflower seeds were used in Chinese cooking.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

First Visit to Rawlings

I just returned from visiting Rawlings and her doting parents last night.  I was only away for three days, but it was three days of bliss.  I sat, as I said I would, on the couch, holding my newest grandchild, and watched her face as she slept and listened to her little baby grunts and gurgles.

Once in a great while I let her parents have a moment with her....but mostly I hogged her the whole time I was there.  Her mommy did a little work while letting Rawlings sleep in her new carrier.  It worked out very well.

Her daddy headed for her the minute he got home from work.  He seemed to expect that I would relinquish her to him.  Bah.  Fathers!  What do they know?

Occasionally I  had to let them hold the little one because it is exceedingly hard to hold a baby and take a picture of that baby at the same time.  I know this for a fact.  I tried it repeatedly with less than stellar results.

Rawlings is definitely interested in the people around her.  She is also very enamoured with lights and her father's hair.

And, oh my!  How her daddy does love her.

Her mommy loves her, too.  In fact, they dote.  (As they should.)

I enjoyed both my flights, to and fro, as the weather was clear and I had lovely views of passing mountains.  Mt. St. Helens was looking most interesting.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


 Denise Bossieux, EAF president,  and I exchange a hug during the Festival
photo courtesy of Susan Penning

The 2011 Edmonds Arts Festival is history.  We had a happy Festival this last weekend, here in Edmonds.  Many people came on Friday and Sunday.  The fact that anyone showed up on Saturday is amazing, as the weather was awful!  It rained and/or misted all day long and it was a very soggy day here.  (Like most of our spring.)  People came all weekend, they looked at some astoundingly good art (and some sort of mediocre, to be honest), they ate some good "fair" food (the Greek salad was my favorite) and they enjoyed the shopping with over 220 juried-in vendors and listened to some great bands.  Many parents got to watch their children dance, too.  I use the adjective great a lot because it was great!

Nonie (L) and me, at our desk in the Volunteer Room
photo courtesy of Susan Penning

Nonie and I, co-directors of Volunteers, were blessed with many happy, helpful people this year, who kindly gave up their free time to come and work for us, for free, with a smile on their faces and a willing heart.  I can't thank them all enough.  Since there were close to 200 who gave multiple hours to work the all-volunteer Festival, and it takes a lot of people to work the 125+ job slots each day, I won't name each and every one of them.  (But, really, I should.)

It was a great Festival, but I'm tired.  REALLY tired.  I'm getting too old for this marathon of 14-16 hour days for a week.  I am going to go to California tomorrow morning and I plan to sit on my daughter's couch and hold her new baby.  For three days.  And quietly hum happily.

More from my China trip when I return.  Please, Dear Reader, be patient with me---I've been busy!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

China Part 5: Visit to a Beijing Park

One of the most interesting things we did in Beijing was spend part of a morning in a local park.  It was a beautiful and large park, and I, of course, can't recall the name of the place---but it is near the Temple of Heaven (Tian Tan).  The whole park is a beehive of activity.  This gentleman was practicing his calligraphy buy using a very long-handled brush and plain water on the paving stones.  Clever!

Parks in China have exercise equipment, rather like the gyms many of us in the US belong to, but in China the equipment is outdoors and free (or a very nominal entry fee to the park is charged).   The Chinese government encourages people of all ages to exercise, and in the early morning hours, most parks in China are full of seniors, doing just that.  They use the equipment, they walk, they do tai chi, they use their muscles to keep fit.  You don't see a lot (hardly any!) over weight people in China.  You might see a little plumpness or a bit of a pot belly on an elderly person, but it is not the norm.  I will admit I did see more chubby teenagers than adults.

I felt big as a whale!

Here we have Nonie, availing herself of one of the pieces of equipment.

Everywhere in the park, activity.  Each piece of equipment was being used.  It was a busy, busy place.

Most of the members of our tour group took part in at least trying out a few of the exercise machines.

This man was waaaaaay too skilled!  He was going a beautiful routine on the parallel bars, and he was at least 70.

Rhonda and Debbie, from our group, tried out this sinister looking device.  I understand that if you weren't careful, you could end up practically doing the splits and really strain your legs!

Here Carol was assisted by a nice lady in the proper placement of body parts for using this piece of equipment correctly.  All the local people were so willing to help us.  It was a lot of fun trying out the different pieces and interacting with the others.

It became obvious that many people in this park were way too flexible.  I couldn't do what this man is doing in my youth, let alone now.

This extremely flexible and limber gentleman was around 75.  He is a local legend, not the norm, thank goodness!  He has students who come everyday to learn how to be as flexible as he, and they were all around, stretching and bending, according to his instructions.  Many of his students were ladies.

 I needed a massage and an aspirin after watching this demonstration!

Our Beijing guide, Lian, used the bull whip.  He says it is very good exercise and while this whip was much longer than the one he is used to, he reported that he often trains with a whip at his local park as part of his fitness program.

In other areas of the park you could see seniors playing cards and games.

And the card players were serious, too!

This elderly man sang and danced for us.

Besides card playing, there were groups of ladies knitting, embroidering and doing other handcrafts.  There was always someone there to assist if you were having difficulty with a stitch.

And in yet another area of the park was the "Granny Chorus."  This is a group of people, many of them older ladies, I gather, who come together to sing songs from the Cultural Revolution.  They are not a political group, but rather, an informal musical one.  The rousing patriotic songs from the Cultural Revolution seem like they would be fun to sing.  Obviously a lot of people come to join in and/or listen.  There was a very large crowd and everyone was singing at the top of their lungs.  (It was May 1st, International Labor Day and a national holiday.)  Fun!  I especially enjoyed the flag wavers.  Some of the flags were very large.

And, of course, there were beautiful specimen trees and plants all over the park.  It was a lovely place.

My very favorite memory was this man, who was playing a sort of lute (???), or whatever sort of stringed instrument it is, in a quiet corner of the covered pavilion in the park.  He played beautifully.