Gratitude Post #9: FDA Part 1

If you’ve recently read the L.A. Times, you’re certainly aware of the food safety concerns the Chinese government is contending with. (Google it.) Sure, we’ve got issues in America, with our pink meat taffy processed into happy little chicken nuggets. But we’ve also got much more transparency and disclosure when it comes to consumer products.

The Food and Drug Administration was established in 1930, after the creation of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 (thank you, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle). The FDA oversees and promotes public safety by regulating industries such as food, drug and cosmetics. And by George, I am grateful for it. As an expat in China, I have tremendous concerns about the meat and produce I purchase. I tend to purchase imported dairy items, like UHP (uber-pasteurized) boxed milk from Germany or the U.S. or imported Land o’ Lakes cheese and butter. I’m still working on finding the safest cuts of meat for consumption but am at a loss knowing the wisest way to research it. Needless to say, with the high cost of living and many import items I buy, my food bill is double the cost of what I was paying for quality items in the United States.

At meal times, praying for the Lord to “bless our food” has taken on a whole new meaning.

Gratitude Post #5: Quality Healthcare

One of the greatest blessings in this country is the quality of health care available to everyone. Yes, I said everyone. (Hospital worker friends in L.A. share plenty of stories; no one is turned away. What a blessing.) No, I’m not attempting to engage in health care reform debate. What I am sharing, however, is a perspective of someone who resides outside of this country and has access to limited health care. While Pudong has a good 8 to 5 western clinic, the nearest western emergency room is forty minutes across the river, in decent traffic. Friends have asked me about the possibility seeking local care. Mr. Smith mentioned that people line up for days in the local Chinese hospital, waiting in line for treatment, passing their illnesses to one another. Socialized medicine in action…

The Circus and I arrived back to the United States on Monday evening. Within the week, we made several doctor visits, some previously scheduled and planned, some (like my surgery) unexpected.

Day 1: Within 24 hours of arrival, I had an ultrasound for gallstones.

Day 2: Pinky Stinky’s tube stopped functioning in Shanghai. On Wednesday, it was removed by her ENT and the other tube functionality was tested by an audiologist.

Day 3: The Kid suffered a possible broken nose, after rough housing with a friend. X-rays were taken at the ER at 7 p.m. Due to swelling, results were inconclusive. He’s scheduled to see the ENT.

Day 4: One of the best surgeons in Utah squeezed me in for gallbladder surgery. In one hour, they laparoscopically removed my gallbladder (and over 50 gallstones) through four half-inch incisions. The next day I went to Walmart with my sister.

Let’s be frank. There’s no way in Hades I would have surgery in China, even with a western trained surgeon, if I could help it. I am grateful to be cut, cleaned and stapled back together here, where medical people wash their hands and sterilize their equipment. (Again, true China story of surgery infections.) And if they don’t…you can find someone who does.

Steamed Buns Part 2

Remember the buns? We buy them at a franchise chain called “Babi.” Yep, Barbie.With savory or sweet fillings. Ordering from the menu. Either I haven’t noticed inflation within a week, or the location in Jinqiao enjoys price gouging their large expat community. The buns by my home cost under 1 RMB.
Pay and pick up.
Steamers. Babi is considered one of the more hygienically conscientious chains. I’m down with that. (Translation: Hep vaccinated.)

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.

Temple of Heaven Part 2

Fire pits.

Forgive me if I seem distracted tonight. While we were eating dinner, a giant cockroach flew in through our kitchen window. The Hubs is gone and The Circus and I ran around screaming our little heads off. Then, the bar in my closet broke and my clothes were strewn everywhere. It was an “Our pets’ heads are falling off!” moment.

The Circus is snug as bugs (shudder) in their beds. And I am considering contending with the roach under the glass jar in my kitchen. It’s been doused liberally with kitchen cleaner. Somehow, the bugs come out of hiding when The Hubs is gone. I suppose they can smell fear a mile away.

Back to the Temple of Heaven. I am intrigued by all of the symbolism and use of numerology. Have you read about the Temple of Heaven, yet?
The Circular Mound Altar was fascinating. The number of stones were of the sacred number nine or nonuples. The Heart of Heaven, or center stone, is where the emperor prayed.
The Kid, praying for more sunshine.

Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite. Or cockroaches.

Temple of Heaven Part 1


On our last day in Beijing, we made a quick stop at the Temple of Heaven. It was near closing time, so we hurried through the three main sites.

Inside the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.

The Circus, enjoying it.

Perhaps I felt rushed or tired. Or a bit frustrated with my photos; the lighting was too bright or shadowed or fading. Regardless, I wish I had enjoyed the Temple of Heaven more, like The Circus. I hope you’ll read about it. More photos to come.

Wangfujing, Bug Free

No more bugs, I Pinky Stinky promise.

In my exuberance to share what I deem an interesting aspect of another culture, I fear I’ve alienated some of my readers with too many creepy crawlies. I don’t blame you one bit. I could barely kill the little spider in The Kid’s room yesterday without stifling a small scream of terror. (Arachnophobia is real!) But fear not, as intriguing as the bug eats are, Wangfujing offers a myriad of other snacks.

Meatballs and fishballs with goji berries. Speaking of goji berries, my father grew them in our backyard in Utah. I have wonderful childhood memories of my grandmother picking and drying goji berries, every summer.

Roasted chestnuts. This is how I envision Christmastime, courtesy of Nat King Cole. With Jack Frost nipping at your nose. But not necessarily with a billion Chinese people.

Flat dumpling wraps.

Chinese gyro.

Stinky tofu. Don’t ask. The smell is beyond repulsive. But my parents will enjoy this photo.

Egg wraps or Chinese burritos.

Crackers and cookies.

Better than bugs, eh?

Window Shopping at Pines

There are stores galore here filled with real designer handbags, expensive cashmere sweaters and jewelry. Things that I’ve never really considered or found interesting. But to each their own. Instead, I find myself and The Circus window shopping at Pines, an expat grocery store, loaded with goodies from the United States.

Cocoa Krispies for 71.80RMB/$11.04USD. Eat your wheaties, kids. Or whatever cereal your mom bought for under $4 at the grocery store. Because there are American children in China who would happily eat it for you…namely The Circus.

Prego 45.50RMB/$7USD. It makes you appreciate those Boy Scout spaghetti dinners so much more.

Hershey’s chocolate chips 46.90RMB/$7.21USD.
Let’s be honest. Who needs cashmere when there’s chocolate to be had? (Or Japan to be helped.) It’s all about priorities.