Monthly Archives: April 2009

Home and sorting…

Home to the sunny windiness (is that a word? it should be) of springtime in the mountains- one day in a black tantrum, the next in spasmodic, ebullient sunshine. I have unpacked. My laundry is NOT finished (nor is it ever really like to be). There are new bits of the world decking my walls. I’ve finished three books (this is my particular form of coping with jetlag) and am hot on the heels of the fourth. These are, in case you are wondering, Mysticism, by Evelyn Underhill, which it has taken me two years to finish, Reading the Classics with C.S. Lewis, also awhile in coming, but entirely satisfying. I now have my own self and C.S. Lewis composed reading list for the next oh, thirty years or so. Finished my first Dorothy Sayers mystery, and found my instinct that it would be great plane reading to be entirely right. And am now hotly pursuing the completion of Wendell Berry’s Standing By Words. Reviews will follow. Someday.

In the windblown aftermath of this journey, I find it far easier to sort pictures than memories – to pick the photos most poignant to my heart, draw out their color, crop them the slightest to bring the essence they embody to the fore. It’s one of those hands on arts that works quietly on my brain, letting an unthinking action allow my thoughts to form. For now, here are a few of those photos, random glimpses of a country which sparked a healthy, and unexpected affection in me. A few of are events and friends. More are just the still-lifes that blinked up at me with particular allurement as we walked a dozen streets/markets/gardens/airports. Hope your springtime days are renewing whatever winter lingers in your heart and garden.

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There's just something fun about seeing this in existence in the world.

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He looks like a sage to me.

They call him the little emperor.

They call him the little emperor.

Out of the corner of my eye...

Out of the corner of my eye...

By the river...

By the river...

Guide, host, friend.

Guide, host, friend.

A recurring sight.

A recurring sight.

Amazing hand done lettering - she just color-swished these dragons and sunsets and birds out in front of our eyes. This dimpled assistant kindly displayed the finished product.

Amazing hand done lettering - she just color-swished these dragons and sunsets and birds out in front of our eyes. This dimpled assistant kindly displayed the finished product.

Something ancient and intriguing must be lurking behind that door.

Something ancient and intriguing must be lurking behind that door.

In a Beijing market.

In a Beijing market.

The guy in red was laughing at me as I tried to nonchalantly get him on film. This is in the Empress' Gardens in Beijing.

The guy in red was laughing at me as I tried to nonchalantly get him on film. This is in the Empress' Gardens in Beijing.

Very new and now, very beloved friend, Rossana.

Very new and now, very beloved friend, Rossana.

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All good things must come to an end…

We fly out tomorrow. I’m gonna miss this place! Next stop… home!

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Glimpses

I can’t even begin to think of how to describe the flood-like rush of emotion, memory, and friendship that has marked this trip. For now, I wanted to say a quick hello from Beijing, our last stop before home. Below are a few of my favorite glimpses of China. This has been a soul-expanding trip. Here’s at least a few of the pictures that fill my mind from our travels. Hope you all at home (even in the general home of the US) are faring well in this springtime month. Sounds like I’ll be arriving to the iffy loveliness of springtime snow. Hope there are some flowers for most of you!

Soup dumpbling nested in soaked ginger. A memorable Shanghai meal. Balancing one between ebony chopsticks, plopping it hurriedly in one's mouth, and then having it burst in tangy mouthful of broth. Well.

Soup dumpling nested in soaked ginger. A memorable Shanghai meal. Balancing one between ebony chopsticks, plopping it hurriedly in one's mouth, and then having it burst in tangy mouthful of broth. Well. That's a taste sensation to remember.

 

The Great Wall.

The Great Wall.

 

We've eaten a LOT of these. Found this wide-eyed lot for sale by the bag full for snacking in a little river side village. You should try some!

We've eaten a LOT of these. Found this wide-eyed lot for sale by the bag full for snacking in a little river side village. You should try some!

 

I love this picture. I just love this picture. In Beijing, shopping for scarves, and there she was. A queen of her corner.

I love this picture. I just love this picture. In Beijing, shopping for scarves, and there she was. Queen of her corner.

 

"The pearl market," our friend said, "that's the one place I want to take you." Oh my. Real pearls, hundreds of strands in the muted luminesence of ocean colors. Everywhere. Stand after stand.

"The pearl market," our friend said, "that's the one place I want to take you." Doesn't it just sound exotic? Oh my. Real pearls, hundreds of strands in the muted luminesence of ocean colors. Everywhere.

 

Behold, our taxi.

Behold, our taxi.

 

And the translator was who?

And the translator was who?

 

In one corner of the gardens of the Summer Palace (created when one strong-willed empress appropriated naval funds to create a garden), this woman hand letters English and Chinese characters. She did each of our names in swiftly stroked letter pictures that turned our names into kissing birds, fiery dragons, and sunsets into

In one corner of the gardens of the Summer Palace (created when one strong-willed empress appropriated naval funds to create a garden), this woman hand letters English and Chinese characters. She transformed the letters of our names into fiery dragons, kissing birds of paradise, and splendidly setting suns. It was joy simply to watch her hands move.

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From the flowery streets of Shanghai…

Downtown Beijing, where we had a real Chinese feast.

Downtown Beijing, where we had a real Chinese feast.

Us... jetlagged? Noooo.

Us... jetlagged? Noooo.

These are fascinatingly everywhere.

These are fascinatingly everywhere.

Joy and I were brave and ventured out into Shanghai by ourselves. These horses galloped along one of the streets under the overpasses.

Joy and I were brave and ventured out into Shanghai by ourselves. These horses galloped along one of the streets under the overpasses.

Adorable little girl getting Mom to sign a copy of her book.

Adorable little girl getting Mom to sign a copy of her book.

Mom's lovely new book in Chinese.

Mom's lovely new book in Chinese.

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In China!

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Into the arching, criss-crossed ceilings, and echoing terminal of Beijing, we stumbled off our 12 hour plane flight, feeling that dizziness that comes from still being awake when your body has decided you’re asleep. It’s a pearly morning now and we are settled round our lovely hostess’ table with very strong coffee and bagels as we discuss our itinerary. We are here for eighteen days. My mom will be speaking almost every day, and we will be traveling all over the country. I’ve signed on as the journalist of this adventure, so I will hope to be able to update here as often as I have connection. Oh, and I just got a camera, so I’ve stepped up in the world! The first speaking engagement is this afternoon, so I’m away now to dress up, and tonight we fly to Shanghai. I am humbled to be here. Very humbled. Remember these times and people in your pr@yer. There is so much need and it is a grace to be here. Au Revoir for now.

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