Let It Snow

>> Wednesday, December 30, 2009

This stretch of the garden is my FAVORITE place in the autumn. The ginkgo trees create an arc of gold. I wish the picture here did it justice, but I guess that's what you get when you ask random garden visitors to take your picture. It's magical to walk through.

Autumn is a funny thing in our neck of the woods. Living in the Botanical Garden, you'd think that we would have beautiful fall colors every year. The problem is that Beijing is also windy. So, as soon as the winds hit, any leaves that were thinking about turning golden are blown away. A lot of times it just ends up being green leaves and leafless branches without much in between. This year was gloriously different. This year we had beautiful leaves that lasted a while. And then, to boot, we had a snowstorm that showcased the leaf colors. It was a wonderful way to end the season. We took the camera out the day after the snowstorm and took these pictures.


This is one of our favorite places in all of the garden. In the Spring, we come to see the buds and have picnic lunches overlooking the pond. In the summer, we look at the bats flying around the pond and look at frogs and scoop up tadpoles. People do tai ji here in the morning. It's peaceful.

Windows

This pond has great windows. One aspect of Chinese gardens is that no matter where you are, you are supposed to be greeted with a new view. Each spot in the garden should be unique. It makes it interesting to walk through the garden and see all the different perspectives.

I first heard about this and thought, "Nah. Couldn't work." A few days later we were walking around the garden and I looked in these windows. They're just a few feet apart from each other and from far away they just look decorative. But, when you look inside, you see how they frame their surroundings in back. Each window and background looks completely different.




These two are a bit overgrown, but when they're trimmed up, it's beautiful.





This is before the snowball fight started.

What an amazing end to Autumn.

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Wild Animals, Tennis, and the Last Day on the Job

>> Sunday, October 25, 2009

There is a really neat zoo/wild animal park near Beijing. Everyone talks about the part where you get in a cage on the back of a truck and then ride around with raw meat while bears and lions and tigers eat from the cage. That WAS really cool but there were other neat parts, too.

First of all, the red panda. Grandma Hinckley told Sam about the red panda a few years ago and we finally got a good look at one. It's really small in comparison to regular pandas and it's very very cute. This picture is just for you, Grandma!




We went with our friends from church. Here Sam and some of the boys (Michael, left, Jerry, middle) goof around.

One of the cool/sad parts of park was the animal shows. I have to admit it was really neat to see the bears riding bikes and doing somersaults and walking on stilts and parallel bars. But it also made me feel sad for them, too.

The goat climbed up the ladder and stood on the tiny platform. Then the monkey on it's horns did a hand stand.



This is our friend Sean who went with us. We wouldn't usually include someone else's picture on our blog, but if you take a look at the kangaroos in the back, you'll see something a little different. This photo makes us laugh so hard! We're glad Sam was with some friends and not at this part of the park.


Does anyone know what kind of bird this is?




This was one of the coolest parts. They had lion and tiger cubs that you could hold and take pictures of. I have wanted to cuddle a wildcat for a long time. It was wonderful!
Kat went with us to the park.


This is Sam feeding an animal from inside the cage.

That's a bear!

This is a tiger!
video
This is us sitting in the cage outside the part where the wild animals roam.

Another animal show.



video



After a day of fun, the boys came to our house for a sleepover.




On another note...

Anyone who knows me well will know tennis is one of my favorite things in the world. Beijing has a tournament every year that attracts the top players. Last year I found out about it a little too late to go to tons of matches. This year, I made sure that I was there for a lot of the action. Here are some of my favorite pictures.

Rafael Nadal returning a volley from Marat Safin.

This was Safin's last match of his career. He's retired now. Of course Rafa won the match but they both stuck around for Safin's retirement ceremony.


Rafa serving.

This is Novak Djokovic serving.

Sam was so good. He watched tennis for most of the time. After a few matches, though, he had to have a little diversion. He drew and played games with Sis. Ricks (who came with us).


The cameras.

Maria Sharapova serving.

Sharapova and Nadal on the practice courts.


Elder and Sister Ricks came with us to watch the match. He is a big tennis fan and was as delighted as I was to be there.

I love how this player is the "I" in Beijing.
This tennis tournament is one of the reasons I love living in Beijing.


I worked at TIBCO for a year and a half. I edited software manuals (snore) and got to work with the best people. I taught a weekly English hour and this was my last class. The other foreigner is Austin who has taken over my job.
So this isn't the most flattering picture of any of us, but this is my last day at work with my team.
From left to right: Ning, Tonglei, me, Qing (Wenjing is missing from this picture.)

I love these girls! They were the best team I have ever worked with.

I'm teaching at Sam's school now. Besides all the nose picking and the whole dirty bathroom business, it's great. The kids are wonderful--most days.

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September Fun

>> Sunday, September 20, 2009

We had a friend, Sandra, come visit us in Beijing. She was doing research in Inner Mongolia at the same research station as Matt. She was a delight to have and we did some fun things together like visiting Panjiayuan (a.k.a. the Dirt Market), the Summer Palace, eating Peking Duck at Quan Ju De, and getting a massage.

This lady was selling textiles at Panjiayuan. She had rows and rows of hand-sewn baby carriers, booties, pillow covers, etc. They were really works of art, each one of them. I wish I would have taken close-up pictures to show the fine detail. I'm going to buy some of these before I leave Beijing.

Here is Sandra, our friend who was visiting. She was a delight. She's sitting on a boat crossing the lake at the Summer Palace.


A view of a temple at the Summer Palace.

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The Great Wall Annual Trip

The Great Wall Weekend is something we look forward to every year. The two branches in Beijing get together and stay at a hotel near the Great Wall. We leave Saturday morning, hike Saturday afternoon, have a party Saturday night, and then have church Sunday morning and go back home to Beijing. It is one of the highlights of our year.

This year, I let Sam and Matt hike the wall while I stayed in the hotel and took a nap. We didn't get a lot of pictures as a family, but we had a lot of fun.


I love how you can see the Great Wall snaking over the tops of these mountains. Matt took this picture while he was hiking with Sam.

Here is a view that shows the grandeur of the mountains.

The most handsome man in the world!




Matt said that Sam did a great job hiking all the way up to the top. The only problem he had was with the spiders. He's not a big fan. Here's one of the spiders they saw.






I think this is one of the funniest pictures we have taken here. We often buy movies here and this one turned out to be a pirated one that was filmed in the theater. (BTW, we turned it off after a few minutes because, fine satire that it is, we just couldn't stomach it.) The subtitles were much more entertaining than the movie. This is when Bart is writing on the chalkboard, "I will not illegally download this movie." The subtitles of the pirated copy we were watching are displayed on the screen: "I ain't illegal to download this movie." We found this funny on so many levels.

That about wraps our our month so far. I guess we've had a few changes that I haven't really posted about. The big one is that I quit my editing job and am now teaching 6 hours a week at Sam's school. Except that I haven't really quit yet because they haven't found anyone to replace me. So, instead of working less, I'm working more. But only until the middle of October and then I'll be done!

The other new thing is that I'm seeing a new Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor. He's really amazing. I feel really blessed to have found him.

Life is good.

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