Wednesday, April 29, 2009

plant friends

One day I'd love to have a garden. A real garden. With soil to dig in. And included in said garden would be a decent-sized herb garden. I love fresh herbs, but am always reluctant to pay supermarket prices for them.
Until the real, get-my-hands-dirty-in-the-soil garden materializes, I'm determined to be happy with a potted indoor one. I just started the herb section of my indoor garden the other day (well, not counting the rosemary that I tried to grow that died almost immediately). I picked up some basil and mint the other day at the Mong Kok flower market. I'm hoping that the basil will really take off so that I can start harvesting some leaves. Basil seems to grow well in HK, as seen by the basil bush that my parents had growing in their yard a year or two ago. Hopefully being inside will not hinder my new Mr. Basil.
Basil. Grow like crazy, please.
Mint. I realized recently that I love the way a little mint tastes in a smoothie. Really. You should try it if you haven't. And then of course there are other favorites -- yogurt mint sauce... my mouth is watering.
And I don't think any part of this plant is edible, but I couldn't resist buying it. It looked so intriguing, just barely starting to bloom... I just had to see how the blooming would progress. If you know what this flower is and how I should care for it (i.e. will I need to regridgerate the bulb at some point?), please do share your tips.

I feel a little silly saying this, but these plants have made me so happy in the past couple of days. Even this morning, they looked so friendly and cheerful that I was tempted to call in sick and stay home with them. Yes, you heard me right... stay home with plants. Staying home with a human loved-one? Acceptable. Staying home with a pet? Well, if it's a creature as adorable as Templeton, people would probably at least understand. But a plant? I think I might have gone off the deep end...

Sunday, April 19, 2009


There are a lot of things I could and probably should update you on (though nothing life-changing like an amputated limb or an engagement). I realized after posting my pictures from Tianjin that there are a couple other trips I've taken this year that I have not shared via the blog. So I will attempt to get caught up on the travel side of life soon, or at least before my next trip, which will hopefully be in early May (spring traveling has been a bit on the excessive side, I know). But for now, here's a little craft update.

I wasn't feeling too well yesterday, so decided to stay home from church today and get some rest. The weather was conducive to staying in as well -- close to 100% humidity with periodic torential rain storms. Lovely. Definitely the time of year that one regrets any complaints about the coolness or dryness of winter.

I allowed myself to do only restful things today, and so, besides some reading and a moderate amount of cooking, I got back to work on a series of prints that I had started some time ago and not done anything with.

I designed them to be greeting cards, and am quite pleased with how they look. Some of them need some cleaning up, but overall I'm grateful that these got done with no major hiccups. I find that linoleum is so smooth to carve, that sometimes you end up cutting away more than you intended, and if that happens to be a part of a letter in a word, or a critical part of a picture, there's not much you can do to fix it.

This one is what I worked on for most of today (yes, these tend to be quite time-intensive for me, but maybe I'm just slow). The ice-cream cone idea came to me quite late in the process, but I'm very happy with the end result. I love ice-cream.

I did this one a few months back. It probably needs a little cleaning up, though I tend to like the imperfections and roughness...

Another one I did a few months ago. I still like the concept for this one, but wish the pencil was at a slightly different angle.
Another thank you card, also done a while back. Not sure this one fits nicely into the mix, but I guess I like it well enough.

So, if you have a birthday coming up (or one that I missed!), are expecting, or are owed a thank you card, there's a high probability that you will be receiving one of these soon.
On a related note, I might be selling some prints like these online in the near future. Sal and Kaiser have been working on a new website for us to use to sell our handmade goods. They showed me yesterday what they had come up with so far, and it looks great! (But how could it not, with Salome's artistic flare and Kaiser's web sense!) So stay tuned for some shop info, especially if you've been wanting to purchase a cozie, cards, and whatever else we end up selling!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

easter in tianjin

I'm making good on my promise to post photos of the kiddos. Here's a link to an album I created on Facebook... an album that even stubborn, non-FB users will be able to see. ;)

Happy Easter everyone!

Friday, April 10, 2009

taxi driver welcome

I'm in Tianjin at the moment, enjoying the long weekend with my sister and her family. I will post photos of the kids soon. But first, an account of my welcome back to Tianjin.


I landed in the TJ airport close to 1 am, disoriented and groggy after having slept almost the entire 3-hour flight from Shenzhen. I had told Amy that I felt comfortable finding a taxi and getting to their place on my own -- definitely didn't want anyone out that late to meet me -- and so, stumbled over to the airport taxi stand, ignoring the touts I passed on the way. I got in a reputable-looking taxi and did my best not to butcher Amy's address (it'd been 4 years since I'd visited (!!), but I hadn't forgotten how to say Fu Kang Hua Yuanr). I was still very tired, and would have happily napped there in the taxi, or stared mindlessly at the passing scenery... but very soon realized that would not be happening. Like most Chinese taxi drivers I've met, this gentleman was very friendly.

He seemed to consider me for a moment in the rear-view mirror, and soon the usual questions were flowing.

Where was I from? What did I do? Why was I visiting Tianjin?

A short pause.

How old was I this year? Any children?

I was a little confused by this question, because I had just finished telling him that I was here visiting my jie jie and her family. Was he asking about her, or me?

Oh, of course, me.

I said politely that I didn't have any children, and added that I wasn't married yet. This seemed to bother him.

Twenty-eight and still not married? Why not?

Let me just pause here and say that this is possibly my least favorite question to be asked. It's such a loaded question, and I'm never quite sure how to answer it. I get asked this question from time to time at school, by elementary girls, and am often tempted to say very dramatically, "Really? Do you really want to know?" And then go into an hour-long lecture about the many facets of singlehood and the possible reasons why I am still in its ranks, and how, when it comes down to it, I would much rather choose singleness over being married to someone I was less than crazy about.

But, since my Chinese is limited, I opted to tell the driver that I just hadn't met the right guy yet.

Once again he was incredulous. I guess it makes sense, though. I hear that a lot of women in China are spoiled for choice, what with the imbalanced male to female ratio. Unfortunately, I have no such ratio working in my favor. To show me how shocked he was by my situation, he repeated to himself a few times while shaking his head, "28 years old and still not married, no child. 28 years old..."

Maybe he sensed my annoyance, because soon he was trying to lift my spirits. Did I at least have a boyfriend?


Even longer awkward silence.

At this point, I think he must have begun analyzing why someone as old as me would still be unmarried. He said something to me that I couldn't fully understand. "You Westerners don't care much about ___."

I told him that I didn't understand and asked him to explain.

"I think you foreign girls don't care much about fixing your hair, wearing nice clothes, putting on make-up. Is that right?"



I took a deep breath and told myself that I wasn't going to take this personally, even though I was probably the basis for this impression of his. Another deep breath, and I told him that no, a lot of Western girls cared a lot about their appearance. "Right now I don't care about my appearance very much, because I'm very tired, and I've been on a plane for three hours."

It must have been obvious that in spite of myself, I'd taken his comment personally. His next words were almost apologetic. "Yes, I'm sure when you go to work, I'm sure you look very pretty... very pretty."


So thank you Mr. Taxi Driver. I will work hard on making myself more presentable, and if you know of any eligible bachelors, be sure to send them my way.