Call Me Alexander

What is it with full moons and craziness? My friend K and I were discussing how we feel a bit nutty and foul inside. Maybe Jekyll/Hyde syndrome? Today, I felt very much like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Anything that could go wrong did go wrong. We were late to a Relief Society luncheon. I broke my last bottle of makeup from the U.S., with broken glass shattered across the bathroom floor. Pinky Stinky threw tantrums galore… the list goes on. I’m a realist. Now and again, we all have bad days. However, I wish I could have mine with some privacy and a shred of dignity.

Most days, I miss the luxury of having privacy. There is always someone watching, whether it’s the ayi, the driver or the Communist government. But some days, I miss hopping into my own clunker car and driving to a destination. I miss having a messy house all to myself. As K puts it, “you can’t even burp or fart in your own home or car.”

Not that we do those kinds of things… Right? Right. Well, hopefully you’re enjoying not doing those things in the privacy of your home or car.

Perhaps I’ll move to Australia or Timbuktu, too.

The Nanpu Bridge

Nanpu Bridge.
We reside in Pudong, in a more “suburban” part of Shanghai. There are high rises everywhere, but since it’s a relatively newer developed area, people here consider it “suburban.” (Despite the fact that Shanghai’s financial center Lujiazui is also in Pudong.) I suppose the streets are slightly wider, which merely makes for more erratic and just plain bad Chinese driving. But every now and then, I make the thirty-minute trek out to Puxi, the other side of Shanghai. My favorite part of the drive is crossing the Nanpu Bridge, suspended over the heavily polluted Huangpu River, in all of its filthy glory. According to, the Nanpu Bridge is the 57th longest cable-stayed bridge in the world. I have yet to drive across its sister bridge, the Yangpu, which is the fourth largest cable-stayed bridge in the world. Time for Pinky Stinky and I to take a field trip and go exploring.

Buy My Turtle

Turtle man.
A few days ago, I managed to sneak a photo before this man turned his body, hid the turtle and cursed at me.
Today, this man stood at my street corner, hoping to sell his turtle.

My apologies for the grainy shots, taken from inside a car. I debated about posting such poor photos, but I’ve been bombarded with requests to see the turtle hawkers. Mr. Smith mentioned that the turtles cost several hundred RMBs and feed on raw meat, like pork or chicken. I’ve had snake soup, but I’m not sure if I’m adventurous enough to try turtle soup


Prince of Peace by Liz Lemon Swindle

Today’s incident immediately brought these scriptures to mind, from Matthew 16:13-17:

“When Jesus came into the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

The Cable Guy came today. As he looked around our home, he noticed a small painting of Liz Lemon Swindle’s Prince of Peace. I love her depictions of Jesus Christ. Her work has provided me great comfort and while my paintings now hang in storage, a few cherished prints made the journey with me to China.

The Cable Guy looked at The Hubs (who is bald), looked back at the print and asked, “Is that you when you were younger?” China does not know, yet…

I am thankful for my many American freedoms, which have allowed me to explore and experience a variety of faiths and religions (ranging from Atheism to Buddhism to hanging with the Hari Krishnas to Christianity) and to discover my own spirituality and beliefs.

Jesus said to Peter: “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”


The House of Illness. Pinky Stinky had an ear infection and I have a sinus infection.

Today, a man stood in the middle of the road selling a giant turtle. He hid the turtle and cursed at me as I tried to take a photo. Time to save for a telephoto lens. Mr. Smith told me Chinese people make turtle soup, sometimes for medicinal purposes.

I went to the doctor, instead. I am now, happily, in possession of antibiotics.

Turtle soup can wait.

The Recycle Man

This post could almost be considered a Wordless Wednesday. I haven’t been able to breathe through my nose, smell or taste in four days. Today at a Church baby shower, everyone said I looked tired. So I’m off to bed! Hopefully, tomorrow will bring recovery.

The Nose Knows

You never realize a blessing until you no longer have it. I’ve been battling severe allergies for a few weeks now. I keep telling The Hubs, “I am allergic to China!” But he just ignores me. Guess I’m here to stay. My nose is completely stuffed, all day and night and I haven’t been able to smell. Which means I also haven’t been able to taste. I’ve been grouchy, to boot. That olfactory system is pretty important. In my desperation, I’ve created my own neti pot (a squeeze bottle) and saline solution. (Thank you, internet.) Here’s to hoping I can taste my chocolate again. Or whatever this vendor’s got cooking.
Beijing breakfast vendor.

Happy Mother’s Day Part 2

I awoke to sweet little cards made by The Circus, followed by the morning rush of Church. Getting ready, snacks and bag packed, hustled downstairs to find a taxi…
I love my Church. I find our gospel doctrine truly edifying and uplifting. The speakers were eloquent and witty in their praise of the women in their lives, mothers, wives, grandmothers. I was especially touched by Brother C. who spoke about his grandmother. During the Cultural Revolution, his grandfather was sent to labor camp and his grandmother raised their seven children on her own. She also helped to raise her grandchildren. Brother C. paid tribute to her temperance and patience, despite the significant trials in her life, including living in poverty. The poignancy of his story touched me deeply. Next was Brother P. who has cared for his five children during the last eight months while his wife has received treatment in the U.S. to fight breast cancer. Remarkable stories of women, men and their families.
After Church, we came home, grabbed our lunch (prepared last night) and headed downstairs for a good ol’ American picnic.

Chicken salad sandwiches on croissant. (I found croissants!)
Pink lemonade and brownies.

V&V’s cute kids.
The beautiful weather, light breeze and laughing children made it seem like a vacation. I felt serenity, peace and joy…feelings that often elude me here in Shanghai.I owe The Hubs and my Circus a special thank you for creating a lovely occasion.
Dinner was a simple fare of creme brulee french toast, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen.

Followed by a fun surprise. A package, delivered today (I guess China post delivers on Sundays, who knew) from my mother.

I share part of a beautiful address given by President Joseph F. Smith. He was only five-years-old when his father Hyrum Smith was martyred. Shortly thereafter, Joseph walked from Missouri to Utah with his mother, Mary Fielding Smith, a remarkable woman who died before he turned fourteen.

“I learned in my childhood, as most children probably have learned, … that no love in all the world can equal the love of a true mother. … I am at a loss to know how it would be possible for anyone to love her children more truly than did my mother. … It was life to me; it was strength; it was encouragement; it was love that begot love or likeness in myself. I knew she loved me with all her heart. She loved her children with all her soul. She would toil and labor and sacrifice herself day and night for the temporal comforts and blessings that she could meagerly give, through the results of her own labors, to her children. There was no sacrifice of self—of her own time, of her leisure, or pleasure, or opportunities for rest—that was considered for a moment, when it came in comparison with her duty and her love to her children.”

You can read more of the address here.
“I have often said, and will repeat it, that the love of a true mother comes nearer being like the love of God than any other kind of love.”
-Joseph F. Smith, sixth Church President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Happy Mother’s Day

Flowers for you.
I’m one day ahead of you and tomorrow is Mother’s Day for us. Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, The Hubs’ mom and all of our loved ones, including the women who are not mothers but have tremendous mothering hearts who have taken loving care of my Circus or me. Sometimes, it truly takes a village…
Long stem roses and daisies. I’m the kind of mom who buys myself flowers. My favorites are gerbera daisies; they’re incredibly happy blooms. Come back tomorrow and if I’m lucky, I’ll have some hand drawn cards from my Circus.

“God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.”
-Attributed to Author Rudyard Kipling

Panda Food

Fresh bamboo shoots.
I haven’t used the word “rad” since the 90s, but tonight was RAD. I helped V shoot for a friend’s wedding Open House. It was casual and low key. No biggie, but the experience revived a dream of photography lessons. Not-so-secretly, I would love to be a food photographer. But all in good time…

Z Ayi returned from Anhui, bringing us a bag of fresh bamboo shoots.
Peeling outer husk.
Got bamboo?
I stir-fried them. They tasted interesting, a cross between a string bean and asparagus in taste and texture. Z Ayi also suggested that I braise them with pork and soy sauce.
Maybe next time.