27 February 2008

Lantern Festival

Currently listening to: 2.24.08 Sunday teaching from FEFC

Currently reading: Red Letters: Living a Faith That Bleeds by Tom Davis

The elevator at school really doesn't like me. Episode one: In the fall, I managed to get stuck in it (alone!) with the computer cart. Apparently a paper clip chain attached to the wheels on the cart jammed the doors so they opened only a few inches. I was rescued when our science teacher pulled the doors apart after I went up and down the five floors multiple times.

Episode two: Yesterday. I got the DVD/TV cart from the library and wheeled it into the elevator. Another woman was in it and when we got to the fourth floor, the elevator jolted a bit. Then the woman reached down and handed me the DVD player because it fell off the cart. When she handed me the DVD player, the cord was only about 2 inches long. I freaked out but tried to contain myself because I still had to get the cart off the elevator. I tried pushing the cart but to no avail. Why? The elevator missed lining up properly with the floor by about 4 inches. Try as I might, I couldn't pull the cart up over the gap. Then the same science teacher from episode one walked by and again came to my rescue. I took the DVD player to my principal and explain what happened. While I was worried about it, the teacher side of my brain was thinking that I had a classroom full of students waiting for me and the bell was going to ring any minute. As we were getting started for the morning (this all happened before 8 o'clock!), I told them how I severed the cord in the elevator door and how awful I felt. Then the science teacher came in. In his hands he had the severed cord that was stuck in the doors from the third floor. Apparently the ayis saw it and were getting ready to call the building maintenance because they thought it was a broken cord from the elevator itself. He kindly explained that it was ok and that it was only a broken electric cord. I wish I had a picture of the cord. It was a good foot and a half long and the tail end was completely stripped of the plastic coating and showed all the frayed copper wires. The best part of the story--how the maintenance workers at our school are so awesome that with a little electric tape and some patience, they were able to salvage it--only in China!

Last Thursday was the official end of Chinese New Year celebrations (read: the last day for everyone to set off fireworks). Lantern Festival has it own set of cuisine and my Chinese teacher was kind enough to invite me to celebrate with him and his family in his new apartment. After a wonderful dinner, we went to the Amusement Park (the Chinese name for this park is the Happy Garden) where an impressive display was set up. It was quite crowded--very different than the last time I was there in June. We walked around the park for a while and then returned home to multiple amateur firework shows (AKA neighbor pyros just having fun).

Three sided dumplings and fried sticky rice balls, among other happiness.

My language partner, our teacher, his daughters and wife in their new kitchen.

The explosion of fireworks we set off near our compound as we left for the park.

The crowd of people buying admission tickets to the park.

In my imagination, this was what the whole park was going to look like.

In reality, this was what the displays looked like--more like beautifully lighted scenery that tells a story.

A close up of the ancient Chinese woman.

Nicole, Liu Laoshi and I enjoying the lanterns together.

A dragon is a vital part of all things Chinese.

An amazing replica of Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, Russia.

The ever-present fireworks.

The theme for this year's show was the Olympic venues from around the world (hence the orthodox cathedral symbolizing the 1980 Games).

An artistic attempt at capturing the lighted walk ways.

The trashed ticket stubs at the entrance/exit.

The entrance gates lit up in all their Beijing 2008 Olympic glory.

Trying to stay warm!

That light in the upper corner is a floating lantern. It works like a hot air balloon--there's a candle in the inside and a paper dome surrounding it and when it gets hot enough, they take off into the sky by themselves. The sky was dotted with them that night. They were so magical. My goal is do (make?) one myself next year! As we were walking back, we saw one that caught on fire. It looked like a shooting star because it burned up before it hit the ground.

The debris left over from the fireworks outside my gate.

It wouldn't be a complete post without some funny signs.

I spotted this at a restaurant this weekend.

How does a sandwich have eggs taste?

This weekend is our lip sync contest/sleepover. Please Think about our sanity as we deal with 100+ middle school students in the wee hours of the night.

Trusting in His strength,


17 February 2008

Guo Nian Hao!

Currently listening to: The Stage Names by Okkervil River

Currently reading: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (About 5 years too late, I know, I know)

Happy New Year to all! I am safely back in China and enjoying my last few moments of freedom before school starts. I've just been laying low but it feels great not to have a whole lot on my plate. That last statement dissolves tomorrow at 7am. I had two goals for the weekend--I had to finish my grading (mid quarters are due on Tuesday) and I wanted to post about my time in America. It looks like they will both be accomplished. Three cheers for achievable goals!

The Monday before I returned to the States, my language partners and I took our Chinese teacher out for a nice American meal at TGI Fridays. Those are the first two pictures I have to share. The rest are from my trip. I was excited to see real snow and lots of it, so there are a few nature pictures, but most of them are from our family outing to the Denver Art Museum. Being in an environment like that brings out the artsy photographer in me, so hang with me, there's a few of those pictures. And, of course, some family pictures--it was, after all, a family event that brought me back.

Enjoying a nice western meal together.

Our teacher tasting his first jalapeƱo burger--he still claims it wasn't hot.

Our snow-covered street and big, blue sky.


Even the pastry counter at Whole Foods was celebrating the Year of the Rat.

The street lamp on our corner in the middle of a snow storm. It was a good test for me to see if I can still drive in snow. (BTW, I can!)

The beautiful result of scary snowstorms.

A slightly grainy, yet super cool picture of a nice display at the art museum.

The Meyer women back together again.

This artist filled up a wall-length linen canvas with words--it was quite the effect.

Another great sculpture made of metal rods put together to form a human figure.

I guess even hubcaps are art.


A view of the snow-covered Rockies and the Front Range from inside the museum.

The cute newlyweds!

I had one--beer is growing on me, slowly.

Colorado's capitol building, complete with a gold leaf roof, exactly 5280 feet above sea level. We aren't called the Mile High City for nothing :)

My favorite picture from the trip.

Our family after the memorial service.

Well, Lantern Festival is on Thursday, so I'm sure that I'll have something exciting to report then.

In this season of Lent, in steadfast faith, embrace and hold fast to the unchangeable Truth.


06 February 2008

The Market

Currently reading: Rocky Mountain News February 5, 2008

Currently listening to: The Joshua Tree 20th Anniversary Edition by U2

Last week after Fellowship, we went out to lunch at McDonald's. I am not proud of the fact that I've probably eaten more McDonald's in China than I ever did in America. But since KFC is the only other option for western fast food (sad day--no Wendy's, Chipotle, Noodles, Sonic, etc.), McDonald's it is. While we were standing in line, I stuck out to the street market to snap some pictures of all the Spring Festival decorations.

The variety of things that can be purchased on the street continues to amaze me. Here we have boots, slippers, backpacks and purses.

These traditional red knots are used to decorate doors for the upcoming New Year.

Paper cuttings like these go on everything--windows, door posts, and walls are just a few of the places I've seen them.

This woodcutting is just gorgeous.

The market includes a nice selection of dried fruits.

Our local Blockbuster--with varying degrees of quality.

Here are some random pictures from the last few weeks:

Eating yummy Korean BBQ with the Kennedys, our head principal and family, Melva and I.

I can never decide what part of Korean BBQ I like the best--is it the meat and peanut sauce or the fried veggies? Always a tough call!

We see 3-wheeled cars all over the place (actually I guess they are usually trucks), but I finally took a picture of one. Check out the nice U-lock on the front tire.

Trader Zhou's, Trader Joe's, what's the difference? Well, Trader Joe's sells happy baking mixes and yummy granola bars that travel well to China (among other things), and the Chinese knock off, Trader Zhou's, sells imported wines. Almost the same, right?

Well, I'm off with my parents to see Juno. Another movie I had resigned myself to seeing on DVD (if I could find it) in China. But I get to see it in the theater--I'm so excited!



04 February 2008

Home Sweet Home

Currently reading: Paste Magazine #38 February 08

Currently listening to: Boxer by The National

Over Christmas break (after the trip to Guilin) we painted our apartment. Sara helped us pick out the colors when we first moved in and our theme was a bright green. A basket that she gave me for my birthday last year (to help with my orange couch) was the inspiration. As we kept looking, we would see blankets, pillows and much more--all with this color scheme. Around Thanksgiving, we found the wonderful rug that tied it all together at Home Depot (yes, we have a real Home Depot--with American prices--but a real one nonetheless!). Then, over Christmas break, we returned to buy our paint. So here are some pictures to help understand what a vast improvement painting was for our apartment.


These were taken last June when our housing had finally been assigned--I was just stopping through on my way back to America for the summer.

This is the only other decent picture I have of our living/dining room from before we painted.


Our wonderful friend TJ did all the cutting in and Sara, Melva, Lauren, and I did the rolling.

A nice warm green and a periwinkle blue make a wonderful combination.


The framed pictures are all ones I took this summer in Colorado.

Next up--getting real curtains (similar print to the striped pillow) made that will keep the cold air out from our ping tai (porch/clothes drying area). Aren't our Greek columns something--they really popped out with the paint!

On the bottom you can see just a bit of our wonderful rug that inspired the paint.

Our family starts arriving on Wednesday and the memorial service is going to be held on Friday--what would have been my grandma's 93rd birthday. We look forward to celebrating her life and honoring all that she accomplished.

Wednesday is also New Year's Eve--Welcome the Year of the Rat!

Chun Jie Kuai Le,