Walking the Beach – Part 2

bya Gabrielle at 3:14 PM

Here are some more pictures of our stroll down the beach two weeks ago. Like last time, less talk and more pictures.

How many brides can you count getting their pictures taken?

Me trying to be artsy fartsy. Eh, I should stick to being a teacher.

Be a good rock and don’t buck me into the ocean.

From further away, these parasailors looked like winged ants about to fly off the mound to mate.

Um, isn’t there something missing here. Like a person.

Categories: China,Xiamen
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Walking the Beach

bya Gabrielle at 3:00 PM

More pictures. Less talk.

Here are some of the pictures from our trip down to the beach here in Xiamen. I was a little disappointed in the weather. It was overcast and chilly. I imagine that it would have been more beautiful had the sun been out.

Three wise Palm Trees watching the waves crash
on the beach one lifetime at a time.

Phil striking a pose on the Boardwalk. I wish more beaches had this feature.

The water comes in. The water goes out.

Rocky beach and the Boardwalk.

One of about 15 brides-to-be taking their wedding photos.

Categories: China,Chinese,Xiamen
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Gloria and Eduardo

bya Gabrielle at 4:05 AM

While we are on the subject of pets, I want to mention two certain someones I have failed to ever talk about on this little blog of mine. Why has it taken me this long? I don’t know. In the beginning I guess I was too upset. After that I guess I just had other things to talk about and eventually their pictures just got lost in the sea of all the others somewhere on my C drive. I think that is where they are stashed. So, here is there long over due featurette – the short story of my beloved Gloria and Eduardo.

For our National Week vacation in 2006, we decided to go to Shanghai since it was so close and on our to-do-list. I have several posts that mention our week there. You can go here, here, here, or even here to read about them. Even before I got to Shanghai, there was one thing I wanted to do because of something I had seen on ETV right before leaving. On the episode, they talked about all the things you could do in and around Shanghai and also mentioned some of the old traditions still popular.

And that was how I found out that it was possible to buy crickets as pets or as prize fighters. Yes, prize fighters. And yes, when I say crickets, I’m talking about the insect that chirps us through summer and the little guys that you see hopping through your front yard as you try to mow down the mile high grass you let grow far beyond what it should. Well, these are more of the green variety(not the common black ones that we are familiar with), but you understand.

I guess one could compare this act of aggression to dog fighting, except neither one of the cricket dies in the act of fighting. The weakest just gives up and cowers in the corner. This is what the TV show told me anyhow. Somehow or another, this sport became very popular and the crickets also became a symbol of luck for the Chinese.

Now wait, don’t go getting your ahead of yourself. I didn’t want to go buy a cricket to fight. I would never ever want to do that. But, you see, I’ve owned just about every kind of animal you can buy at a local pet shop, but I’ve never been able to buy a cricket, so I had to use this opportunity to add another weird creature to the big ol‘ long list of pets I’ve had during my interesting life. And that is exactly what I did.

After a day or so of being in Shanghai, I met up with fellow blogger, Louise, and she showed me around Shanghai and took me to some cool places that I other wise would have never found. After a fabulous lunch in expat central, where I had my first BLT in what at the time felt like ages, she took me to a pet market where they indeed had crickets as well as half a dozen other creatures for sell.

It wasn’t long until I found what I was looking for. Several vendors had stands set up with individual crickets in clear jars. It was pretty cool to hear so many crickets, with so many different songs, at one time. But man, they were noisy.

You wouldn’t think it would be so difficult picking out a cricket, but it was. I investigated each jar at several of the vendors to make sure I got the best, most healthy cricket. In the end though, it was the cricket that one of the vendors took out of a roll of newspaper and tossed on the table that I decided to buy. After Louise used the Chinese that she knew, which is so much more than mine, I agreed to pay the 30 yuan for the silent green cricket sitting ever so still on the counter. I had hoped that the vendor would have let us bargain, but she/he, I can’t remember now, wouldn’t budge. I paid the 30 yuan anyway and took off with my new cricket in hand.

The only thing my new cricket needed was a name. We talked about it for several minutes. Louise said that she(we decided that it was a she) it needed to be named after a good female artist since she was a natural singer after all. It was Louise who thought of it. And that is how my little cricket got the name Gloria. Louise got me a taxi and off she went in the other direction.

The entire way back to the Koala Youth Hostel where Phil and I were staying, Gloria didn’t make a sound. I figured she was just scared and that she would sing when she was ready. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Phil was still at the hostel because he was sick. I was going to give him Gloria as a part gag gift and a get well even though I knew it would be me taking care of her. When I got there I had Phil try to guess what I had bought him. When he asked if it was a live and I said yes, he looked all worried and said, “You didn’t buy me a cat did you?” He’s allergic.

“No, silly, I bought you a cricket!” I said pulling out Gloria from behind my back.

“A what?”

“A cricket. Meet Gloria.”

And that is when I decided to do something stupid. I decided to take Gloria out of her little jar.

OWWWW!” I screamed.

“What?” Phil asked.

“She bit me!”

I had no idea that crickets could bite and actually hurt, but man, I found out really quick. Crickets have strong little jaws. It didn’t break the skin or anything. But OW! It hurt! Poor little Gloria got flung across the room. Phil and I spent the next hour holding her and trying to get her used to us so that she wouldn’t try to bite me again. We even fed her. Crickets eat beans that look a lot like Lima beans and come in long fuzzy pods. She must have been starving because she woofed down her bean in no time flat.

Gloria sitting on my arm.

Only once or twice did Gloria try to jump away. Beside that, she sat very still in the palm of my hand. A few times she tried crawling up to my shoulder. It was if she didn’t know how to jump. I guess if I had lived in a rolled up piece of paper all my life, I wouldn’t know how to either. She was a tame cricket. The only tame cricket I had ever seen.

For the next 24 or 48 hours(I can’t recall how long it was now), Gloria didn’t make a sound. I was beginning to think that I had bought a broken cricket. So, to make sure she wasn’t completely broken, I convinced Phil that I wanted to buy her a friend and see if she just needed a companion.

Lucky for us, Phil’s friend and old roommate from college was in Shanghai the same week we were and was able to take us back to the pet market before we had to leave. And that is when we bought our second cricket, Eduardo. I actually got him for cheaper, for some reason, maybe perhaps because he came with his own little jar or maybe he was older or a different type of cricket. Who knows. I think I paid either 10 or 20 yuan for him. It’s been too long to remember exactly. I knew for a fact that he knew how to chirp. I heard him.

Gloria liked to cuddle in the small of fist. I think it kept her warm.

It wasn’t more than a few hours of putting the two of them together that the chirping began. It went on and on and on and on and didn’t seem like it would ever stop. Buying two crickets to talk to one another was probably the stupidest thing I could of thought of doing. The rest of the time in Shanghai and for the rest of their short lives- we didn’t get a lot of sleep. I can remember screaming “Shut up” a lot during their lives. It’s amazing how loud they could be.

Taking them back on the train was particularly funny. Before we had got on, I had told Gloria and Edwardo that they had to be quiet as if they could understand me. I didn’t want to get kicked of the train because of bringing crickets on board. To make sure they didn’t chirp I rattled the cages a little bit every once in a while. They were pretty quiet there for the first thirty minutes or so and then they started.

Shhhh,” I whispered into their cages. “Please be quiet.”

Ah, but it didn’t matter. The other Chinese passengers had heard and now they wanted to see what the laowai had with her. I reluctantly pulled them out of the bag I was carrying them in and placed their little cages on the table. The Chinese ewwwed and awwwed. Some asked how much I paid for them and where I got them. They thought it was really cool, so I no longer feared my crickets being taken away from me.

Eduardo sitting in his cage. Gloria had a bigger one made of wood. You can tell that it is Eduardo because he had darker eyes than Gloria, and he wasn’t nearly as friendly. He never tried to bite me though.

For the next three months, all was great. I fed Gloria and Eduardo their beans, gave them little treats I had picked up in Shanghai, and gave them fresh water every day. When we would have parties, I would take out Gloria and make her the smash hit of the party. She would sit in the small of my fist and make her rounds like a good cricket. Everyone thought I was crazy to have a cricket as pet, but they all wanted to hold her just the same.

Toward the end of the three months, I could tell they were getting old. They weren’t chirping as loud or as long. Their songs weren’t as vibrant as when I first got them. I knew that they wouldn’t be with me much longer.

One morning, late in December, Phil and I got up a little early because we wanted to go to Longmen Village, an old Chinese city built in the Ming dynasty. The night before, there was a party held at our place – I forget the occasion. It was probably someones birthday or something like that. I had done my normal thing and carried Gloria around introducing her to all the guests. All seemed normal at the time. But when I got up that morning and went into her room, I could tell something was wrong. She was laying a little on her side and there was a little blood on the paper towel lining the bottom of her cage. When I picked her up I knew immediately that she was dying. She bit me. Not nearly as hard as the first time three months ago, but enough to get my attention. She was scared and confused. She didn’t know who I was.

I spent the next two hours letting her sit on my hand and I’ll admit it, I cried. I know that she was just a cricket, but I still felt helpless that I couldn’t help her fell better. So, I let her sit out in the sun with two little beans beside her and put on a collection of music for her to listen to. I made sure that it would continue playing no matter how late we got back from Longmen Village.

Gloria in her final hours.

When we got back, she was lifeless. She was dead. I cried some more.

A day later, Eduardo died too. I like to think that he died of a broken heart.

With both of their bodies in a box, we carried them over to a pretty park with lots of trees behind the high school. It was a pretty park, and mostly quiet due to few people walking through it. The park was hilly, if not a little mountainous for Fuyang, so we found the highest peak, Phil dug the hole, and then we put both of them in together.

I said farewell to Gloria and Eduardo and cried all the way back home.

I never thought I would be able to say this, but I was the proud owner of the sweetest, cutest, crickets, a person could ever have. I often think of them when I’m falling asleep at night and can here their cousins chirp me to sleep. I’ll probably never think or see crickets the same way again. Go ahead and think me crazy if you wish, but I can’t help loving all animals and insects. It’s just who I am.

I miss them.

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Student Life

bya Gabrielle at 2:26 PM

The following is a conversation that happened in my Part-Time Advance class this past Sunday morning. I was going over a questionaire in their book and having them discuss their answers.

“So, Jeff, if a foreigner took your picture, would you be A) flattered B) annoyed C) amused D) or none of the above?”

“I would be annoyed.”

Laughter in the classroom. “Why would you be annoyed?”

“Because that is the only word I know.”

More laughter in the room.

Several minutes later . . .

“Alright, number 5, Jeff. If you were walking down the beach with your girlfriend, would you A) hold her hand B) walk arm in arm C) walk close but not touch or D) none of the above?”

“My answer is D – none of the above.”

OK, Jeff, why?

“Because I don’t have a girlfriend.”

Even more laughter in the classroom.

Funny stuff.

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Creative Filler – Satan, Zombies, and the Possessed IBM

bya Gabrielle at 2:08 PM

I have things to talk about, I’m just too busy or tired to go through the motions of uploading the pictures and talking about them. So, instead of going silent and having the few constant readers that I have questioning my existence, I’ve decided to post a story I wrote back in the days of college.

This isn’t my normal writing style. This was a project for a Children’s Literature course, and I was copying the format and the style of writing from a book I had to read for the class. This was my attempt at being . . . funny – something I’ve never really tried before. I’m usually much more depressing than this. Ask anyone I know. And like many things I write, this is largely based on my life. The cat and computer exist(I’m typing on her now), and the speaker of the story was modeled after me, of course. Do enjoy. Oh, and please don’t try to steal this and put your name on it. I’m just posting it so people can get through their boring days by reading about other people’s boring days.

Satan, Zombies and the Possessed IBM

Monday March 22
My Computer Room
7:19 p.m.

Oh. And by the way. I’m not exaggerating.

7:20 p.m.

Mom’s out. I’m home. Alone – – which makes the house über creepy since I just got back from watching the new Dawn of the Dead movie at the ever so evil Carmike. Carmike is the scum of all the movie theaters in town. It’s run down. Even their renovations have yielded lack luster results. In an attempt to house as many movies as the other theaters, they’ve effectively created the longest, scariest corridor in cinematic history. All humans and zombies alike would agree. But don’t even get me started on the bathrooms. Ick.
So, I guess to set the mood for the movie, this is why my immature friends and I decided to go specifically to Carmike. Subconsciously, of course. In retrospect, it was sort of “like a horror movie within in a horror movie” as Yossef, the Persian, said. No, not a Persian cat – – a human.
Although, sometimes, I wish he was a zombie – – as long as he didn’t eat me. I wouldn’t be very tasty. Or would I?

7:32 p.m.
I think I heard something bounding down my hallway. I hope it isn’t Yossef, the zombie.

7:33 p.m

Whew! It’s just Satan – – aka Morgan Rose Ireland Yvette DeWitter. See, Satan is much easier to roll off the tongue. It’s unfair how she can just ooze in and out of the shadows. Oh, by the way, she’s a cat and she’s black. Sorry. But yeah, she’s Satan alright. I hope I’m not offending “Mr. High and Mighty” as my Mom, the Bible thumping Baptist, might say. Back to Satan. You wouldn’t know she was Satan by first glance or second. By the third it would be too late. She looks like an ordinary, cute, bumbling, kitty. She meows all angelic like, and purrs happy tunes. She’ll even love on you and then . . . hell opens up and Satan lets loose. You should see the battle scars I’ve obtained from fighting evil. Aw, Satan wants to be petted.
OW! Someone call 911!

7:40 p.m.

Alright. I’ve slowed the bleeding. Sorta. I hate Satan. Most people do. Except those weirdos who worship him. They’re nuts.

8:00 p.m.

My hand is bandaged. Completely. I look like a mummy. I wonder if I’ll turn into a zombie now. That’s what happened in Dawn of the Dead. If you got bit, you were screwed. You’d be a walking, or rather, running, flesh eating, menace to the rest of the human race within an hour or two depending on the severity of the flesh wound and how soon you died of blood loss or insanity. At least, that’s what my immature friends and I determined from viewing the gory film. So, I guess, only time will tell.

8:01 p.m.

Still not a zombie.
8:04 p.m.

Haven’t turned yet.

8:15 p.m.

I guess I’m safe. Satan is glaring at me with her green, demonic eyes. They are as green as the hills of Ireland. That’s how I got one of her many names. She looks disappointed – – probably because her bite didn’t infect me, but yet happy, because she inflicted pain on her master. If cats could grin, I’m sure she’d be laughing. Wouldn’t that be hideous? Thank God for small miracles. I’ll never know how Alice dealt with that darn Cheshire cat.

8:31 p.m.

I’m as starved as a zombie. I mean . . . they are always hungry. They just never stop eating. It doesn’t matter how much human flesh they devour. If you are within a hundred mile radius and they’re hungry – – which they will be – – you’ll be their dinner. Zombies are such animals. I’ll be more wary around Satan from now on.

9:10 p.m.

Fully satiated and time for school work. I wonder if my computer is in a good mood. Maybe Satan and the IBM are kindred spirits. I pray not. At least not tonight. I’ve got too much to do.

9:20 p.m.

I don’t even know where to begin. At this rate, I’ll never finish on time. And if I don’t finish on time, I run the risk of being sacrificed to the angry homework gods. Ugg. They aren’t a happy little bunch either. I’ve met with them on a few occasions.
Ok. I’m lying.
Many occasions. Still, I’d rather be sacrificed to a hungry zombie. I suppose I should be careful what I wish for – – Satan is still glaring at me and she just licked her chops.

9:30 p.m.

Alright, alright. I’ll do it already.

9:32 p.m.

Everyone should own one. A possessed IBM laptop computer that is. It’s the new craze. Well, no, not really, but evil seems to totally dig me. First, Satan, and now the possessed IBM. It was a courtesy gift from yours truly, me, because my first evil PC overloaded with vile intent and exploded. I wasn’t aware that possession was a part of IBM’s package deal when I bought it. Possession is nine-tenths of the law, did you know that? Anyway, back to possessed IBM . If I had known about Mr. IBM’s special personality, I would have doused it with barrels of Holy water, sung hymns of religious glory, and blessed it with anything and everything that my fellow Baptists had taught me about possessed technology. Which for me, sadly, is and was precisely nothing.
So, like a bad western, it is just me and Mr. Possessed IBM – – staring each other down and ready to draw our guns. Reality check. What guns? I really hope he blinks first.

10:35 p.m.

Well, after nearly writing for an hour – – I’ve at least found my direction. What direction you ask? Directly down the page. Time for a break. My eyes hurt.

10:40 p.m.

Either I’m hearing things or there are rats the size of Satan in my attic. And for the record, she’s the size of a ten month old baby – a human baby. I think it’s that darn movie getting to me. Rats don’t get that big, do they?

10:41 p.m.

I wish my Mommy was here.

10:42 p.m.


11:15 p.m.

I don’t want to walk back down my hallway to my computer room. The living room is a comfortable place to be. I need to finish my homework though. And even though I think homework is seriously overrated, I really don’t want to come face to face with those angry homework gods again. Basically, they are teachers, but since my future is being placed in their hands, they are gods to me. I think it is a fair title. They can strike you down or let you pass through the golden gates at graduation if they want you to, but it is solely at their discretion since grades are arbitrary. I hope I am not offending “Mr. High and Mighty” again. I apologize if I am.

11:20 p.m.

Where is Satan?

11:21 p.m.

No, really, where is Satan? No, not Hell. The other Satan. Morgan.

11:23 p.m

“You mangy, cat!” I screamed. “Get off my computer! Now!”
She had never in her kitty life been obedient. So, I guess there is no better time than the present. I was confused, scared as she raised up like a dirty, black cloud. Her entire body appeared as though it had engulfed my computer. And then I saw her back left paw. It was fractions of millimeters away from pushing the ever so crucial power button.
The rest of the scene unfolded in the slowest, most torturing, slow motion event ever caught on film . . . except I didn’t have a camera. She looked like she was smiling again and her black coat was standing on end. I had a Halloween cat on my hands. She really was a poster demon . . . err . . . cat for Halloween.
Oh God! The horror!
And then, faster than a lightening bolt, even though I am not quite sure how fast one of those are, I saw a dark streak zoom past me and watched as my pretty lit up computer screen flashed completely black. Egads!

11:25 p.m.

Oh, please tell me I saved it. Tell me Mr. IBM auto saved it. Most computers naturally save every ten minutes or so, but my computer is far from natural. It’s never been normal.

11:26 p.m.

Now loading windows.

11:27 p.m.

Come on already.
11:28 p.m

A file did not close properly. Do you wish to open it as it was last saved?
God, yes!

11:29 p.m.

Before me was a pure, white screen. No black letters. No apologies from Satan or Mr. IBM. Nothing. Just pure white snow.

11:31 p.m.

You’ve got to be kidding me.
Satan inched back into the room again. She appeared normal, but I knew it was just an act.

11:32 p.m.

You’ve really got to be kidding me.
Satan jumped up into my lap – – purring.

11:33 p.m.

This can’t be happening to me.
And then – – POOF!
My words flashed back on the screen as if they had never gone . . . oh, but I knew otherwise. They had been gone . . . hadn’t they? Mr. IBM had just been frozen, right? I didn’t care.
“HALLELUJAH!” I screamed.
Satan, disgusted that Mr. IBM had decided to spare me in my moment of agony, ravaged a remarkably large portion of my bandaged hand with her chainsaw like teeth and then took off like a flying saucer. I was too happy to cry.

11:59 p.m.

Evil let me win today, but I know tomorrow will bring a new challenge. Satan and Mr. IBM always keep me on my toes.

Categories: Creative Writing
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啤酒 (pi jiu) the Wonder Fish

bya Gabrielle at 11:00 AM

Once upon a time, we lived in 沈阳(Shenyang), and there we adopted a certain fish that we quickly named 啤酒(Pi Jiu). 啤酒 means beer in Chinese, by the way, and as long as the new Google Pinyin thing is working, those are the correct symbols. Yes, we named our gold fish, Beer. We’d been in our apartment for a few days before the other teacher sent to Shenyang with us, Christine, was given a temporary apartment of her own in the same building as ours. When she saw it though, she was very disappointed and refused to stay there. When she came to our apartment to complain about it, in tears, we asked if we could see it. It wasn’t that bad, it was clean, but it didn’t have a suitable bed as well as a few other essential things. The bed was just a bunch of sheets piled on top of each other on the floor. Phil and I probably could have stayed the few days there that they were asking her to, but Christine is much older than us, and getting in and out of the bed everyday would have been hard. I’m not quiet sure who, but by this point, one of us perked up and said, “Is someone living here?” Apparently, who ever had been living in the apartment had gone on vacation(perhaps permanently), and while they were gone, they(or perhaps the land lord) were allowing Christine to stay there until they could get the other apartment ready for her. When we asked Chris about the whole ordeal, he said that the hosts of the apartment had left very quickly and he had no idea where they had gone or if they would be returning. I’m still a little confused about the whole thing. Everything, including their bike, photograph albums, cookware and other personal things were still there. It was as if they had just vanished in the middle of the night and everything that they owned had been left behind. I don’t think I will ever really know what happened or if they came back to collect their stuff. Of all the valuable things still remaining in the room though, only one thing peeked my interest – the big glass bowl sitting next to the window overlooking the city of Shenyang. By the look of the bowl, he had already been there for several days without food or clean water. He kept swimming up to the top to get some air, and when I let my index finger barely touch the film on the water, he tried to eat my finger. Thankfully, gold fish really don’t have teeth, so it didn’t hurt. Me, being the animal lover that I am, I immediately turned to Chris and said, “Can I have the fish?” “You want the fish?” Chris asked with a look of bewilderment on his face. “Yeah, do you think the hosts will mind?” Chris kinda shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t think so.” It was quiet simple logic, really. It was either I take the fish, or he would undoubtedly die a slow, painful, suffocating death. I picked up the bowl, found it too heavy to carry myself, and handed it to Phil. As soon as we had him in our own apartment, we poured him in a temporary holding cell until we were able to clean out his bowl and refill it with clean water. I wasn’t sure if throwing him into new water without letting his body get used to the water temperature first would kill him, but we didn’t have anything we could put him in that could be placed in the water, so we threw him in and hoped for the best. Several hours later he was still swimming and breathing. I figured it was time to name him since it looked like he was going to make it after all. As I mentioned above, we ended up calling our new little gold fish 啤酒(Pi Jiu). I can’t really come up with a good reason why I picked that particular name out, except for the fact that my Chinese vocabulary is rather limited, and it seemed at the time to be both suitable and cute. How he became known as 啤酒 the Wonder Fish is another story. Keep reading. Just after we had gotten ourselves settled and used to our new surroundings, as you’ve read in previous posts, we got the call that we had to go back to Beijing to get a new health check in order for the government to issue us resident permits. We had been told that it would just be a day or so, we didn’t worry so much about our new found pet’s well being. I threw in a handful of bread, wished Pi Jiu well, and left hoping he wouldn’t be floating at the top of his bowl when we returned. Somehow, what was supposed to be a few days, turned into a week and three days. After the first three or so days, I gave up on the idea that we would return to Shenyang to find Pi Jiu swimming happily in his bowl. I had enough gold fish as a little girl to know what happened to fish that didn’t eat. I just didn’t want to have open the door and smell his death. It was bound to happen. We’d been gone too long. After we landed in Shenyang, there was no point rushing home in my eyes. I had even told Phil that he was going to be in charge of taking care of poor, dead Pi Jiu. I felt too guilty. Here I was thinking that I had saved him, just to kill him a few days later. When we finally got back to the apartment, I hesitated putting the key in the door. I didn’t want to have to see what was on the other side. (Yes, I was being a bit dramatic, but things like this really bother me. I can be such a girl sometimes.) When I finally summoned enough courage, I turned the handle and looked in the direction of the bowl which I had placed on my bedside table. To my surprise, I didn’t see a gold colored fish floating at the top. My first thought was that perhaps he had sunk to the bottom, but none of my previous pet fish had ever done that. In the center of the bowl, I could see a bit of gold reflecting off the curvature of the glass, but it wasn’t moving. I dropped my book bag next to the front door and started the awful 2.4 second walk to the table. The water was dirty, cloudy, and without a spec of food anywhere, but low and behold, it was Pi Jiu – and he was ALIVE. Barely, but alive. “Holy crap!” I screamed. “He’s alive. He’s really alive!” “Really?” Phil asked. “Yeah, he doesn’t look so good, but he’s very much alive.” Chris just sorta stood there looking curious as to why I was so happy that a stupid gold fish was still alive. As fast as I could, I returned Pi Jiu to a nice clean environment. I still didn’t have any fish flakes, so I threw in what bread and pieces of crackers I had. At first he didn’t seem very interested, but soon he started eating. The entire time that I was trying to make his home livable again, I knew that Phil and I would be leaving for Xiamen in less than a day, and this time we wouldn’t be coming back. I had no idea what to do with him or who to give him to. I asked Chris repeatedly if he wanted a pet fish. His answer was always no. He said that his home was too small and that he didn’t know what to do with a fish. I knew he had a girlfriend, so I tried convincing him to give it to her, but his excuse for her was the same as his. It seemed that I had reached a dead end. When it was time to leave the next day, I fed Pi Jiu one last time, and asked Chris again if he wanted him or knew someone who did. Chris assured me that the host of the apartment would come back and perhaps he/she would adopt it. It was my only real option, so I had to take it. With our luggage in hand, we closed our Shenyang apartment door for the last time and said goodbye to Pi Jiu the Wonder Fish for the last time. Just yesterday, Phil and I were walking along the streets of Xiamen when we saw a pet store full of colorful fish. It made me think of Pi Jiu and I wondered if perhaps he was still alive. I like to believe that the host of the apartment did come back and took a liking to the little fish sitting on the bedside table. Perhaps even now he is swimming in a nice big glass bowl staring at his seemingly never ending reflection. That is what I hope.

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Carolina Wildlife Care

bya Gabrielle at 6:03 PM

OK . . . this is completely off topic and has nothing to do with China, teaching, or anything else that has happened to me in the last 8 months, but I thought it was high time that I put in a word for an organization that I believe in and want the general public to know about(if they don’t know about it already.) If you know me, you know that I’m a HUGE animal lover and have been since before I can remember and will be right up until I’m evicted from Earth. Some people think I am eccentric because of the lengths I will go to to save creatures both big and small, but it’s just who I am. Thankfully, there are others out there like me that will go to even greater lengths to help the animals, specifically wildlife when they are sick, wounded, or abandoned.

The organization in which I’m speaking of is called Carolina Wildlife Care. It’s a registered nonprofit organization and receives no state or federal funding, but operates on private financial support through donations, fundraising, and grant assistance. CWC, its abbreviated name, is located in Columbia, South Carolina, USA, and has a few full time and part time staff, but has a large base of volunteers to keep in running smoothly.

CWC has been around since 1989 and with the ongoing education of the public, each year just keeps getting better and better, but that is because of the help from the community. Without the help from the community, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible to keep CWC running. There are many different avenues to assist CWC and their goal to help the wildlife of South Carolina. Some people, like myself, put in a little time to feed the animals, clean and set up cages, prepare formulas and diets, clean the center, admit animals, and answer the phone, but there are a slew of other things you could do. There are constant projects in the works that could use a handy man or woman. Basically, any help is appreciated, whether physical or financial. No time is too little and no task too great. So, if you are interested in helping out in any way, you can click here to find out how.

And there is my little plug in. I urge you to at least go to the website, and read more about CWC and see if there is any way that you can participate and help. Working with CWC is not only fun and educational, but it’s rewarding as well.

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This Little Piggy Was Dinner!

bya Gabrielle at 2:31 PM

You’ve probably heard the nursery rhyme This Little Piggy, but just in case you haven’t, it goes like this:

This little piggy went to market,
This little piggy stayed at home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy went…
“Wee wee wee” all the way home…

That is what I thought of when I saw this picture in a window of Chinese restaurant:

Chris, our friend in Shenyang, told me that it translated into something like this:

“For you I will sit in the pot.”

I of course found it hysterical and had to take a picture. This little piggy may be willing to be dinner, but he sure as heck doesn’t look very happy about jumping into the pot of boiling water. I don’t think I would be very happy either.

So, maybe the nursery rhyme should go something more like this:

This little piggy went to market,
This little piggy stayed at home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy went…
“Weep weep weep” til the meat fell off his bones …

Whoa, I was just trying to be creative, I didn’t mean to get all Grimm on everybody. Heh, but it was a little funny . . . if just a little bit.

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Hall of Chinese Panoramas

bya Phil at 9:48 AM

Alas, you’ve found the hall of Chinese panoramas…
***Now updated to work for Firefox and IE users.

***Click on the image once, then click again and drag it around.

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The Dragon on the Wall

bya Gabrielle at 9:00 AM

Not much of a story to go with it, but I thought it was cool, so I took a picture of it. It was the decoration on the wall paper at the restaurant in Shenyang where we mistakenly ordered 2 kg of dumplings. I’d never seen so many dumplings in my life! They were stacked over and above my head. No lie! Looking at the picture now, I can’t decide if it’s more a dragon or a sea horse. It sorta looks like a mixture of the two. Technically, I guess a sea horse could be a small dragon. A dragon of the sea. Either way, it’s still pretty neat looking. Just thought I would share it.

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