Oil on wood, 9"x13"

I've been painting quite a bit, but nothing interesting has been happening with it lately, but I'm kind of excited about this dead chicken. I made a clay pot chicken dish with his cousin, but decided to use this one as a subject.


Chinese lesson.

(ni3 hao3)

(xie4 xie4)

(zai4 jian4)

(wo3 yao4 zhe4 ge)
I want this.


(bu2 yao4)
No, I don't want it.

(duo1 shao3 qian2)
How much is this?

I have it.

(wo3 ming2 zi shi4 Catalina)
My name is Catalina.

(ta1 shi4 wo3 men xiao3 hai2 zi)
He is our baby.

(wo3 men zai4 bei3 jing1 lv3 xing2)
We are traveling in Beijing.

(wo3 shi4 mei3 guo2 ren2)
I am American.

(wo3 shi4 ge1 lun2 bi3 ya4)
I am Colombian.

(ta1 shi4 yi1 nian2 sui4)
He is one year old.

(bu4 fang4 wei4 jing1, shao3 xian2, shao3 you2)
No MSG, less salt, less oil.

(wo3 shi4 chi1 su4 de)
I'm a vegetarian.

(wo3 shi4 fo2 jiao4 tu4)
I'm a Buddhist.

I'll help you with pronounciation when you get here, but you can use this to make fun little cards.

In other news, my job is fun and my students are great, although I'm looking forward to vacation. Let me know Miami stories, things that are happening...


Small reasons why I love China...

* Directness. Chinese can be brisk and too-the-point, which makes dealing with waitresses or shop owners all the more easy. The language is very practical and sometimes tactless. With bargaining, telling someone that the shirt should be cheaper because it's a little ugly or cheaply made is socially acceptable. So is yelling 服务员 (fuwuyuan! Hard to say... you'd have to hear it) to call a waitress, which is literally calling a "servant." Yelling 买单 (maidan) is "pay bill" and when you want something like napkins or extra chopsticks, it's okay to yell out just the word. If service is too slow, feel free to say 快点儿! (kuaidianr) "faster!" and one of the 12 waitresses taking a nap or gossiping will come help. It's not rude because things are done like this here.

* Public transportation. It's so easy to get around. The subway is fast and taxis are very cheap. I'm on an equal playing field.

* Grammar. I speak with, I'm sure, terrible grammar in Chinese, but that doesn't mean people don't understand me. Chinese grammar is far, far less strict and far more simple than English grammar, with no verb conjugations, real past tense or plural forms. Many Chinese don't really know their grammar rules since it's not so essential to get it right always.

* I have a cleaning lady. I'm spoiled, I'm aware, but having someone mop your floors and clean your bathroom is a luxury I've never had before. It's wonderful.

* 24 hours. Yes, the Chinese embrace the 24 hour restaurant, kwik-marts, etc. principle. This is comforting.

* (zhou, or say "joe" in monotone) 粥, maybe known by it's Cantonese name "congee" in the states, is a spectacularly simple rice porridge with other various, sometimes medicinal, ingredients usually eaten anytime in the day. Calling it rice porridge makes it sound like prison food, but 粥 is simply one of the best things ever. 粥 with sesame, peanut and pinenuts, cold 粥 with melon, 粥 with "black chicken" (a chicken soaked in ginseng and medicinal herbs) and walnuts, 粥 with shredded seaweed and mushrooms, 粥 with jasmine flowers... the list is endless and delicious.

more, more, more...

My foot is doing much better! I'm sure it'll be completely healed in a few days. Post!


Everyone, I successfully injured myself. Going to work this morning, someone mysteriously dumped half a gallon of water on the apartment steps and I slipped and twisted my ankle. It didn't hurt too much until I got out of work, after which I limped across the street to get a cab to take me to a hospital. The place was extremely rundown with a strange candler hanging in the main room. Everyone was helpful and struggled to understand my terrible Chinese, and I paid my slightly too high bill and got a black cab to my house. I'm now on some herbal pill thing and these patches that numb my foot with what smells like clove and licorice. I'm limping around the house. Wish me a quick recovery.

In completely impossible, shatteringly, unbelievably wonderful news, CHAD, CAT AND LEIF ARE VISITING ME IN TWO WEEKS. Wow. I'm elated.



On the top of 碧云宫


Abandoned monastery

Pavilion on the foothills of 香山

The hall of arhats


Yesterday the girls and I went to 香山 (xiangshan, or "Fragrant mountain") and walked all over for most of the day. It was my first time there; surprisingly beautiful with loads of old Chinesey things and clean air and rolling hills. The highlight was 碧云宫 (biyungong, or "azure cloud temple") which is an early 18th century temple highlighting Buddha and the arhats, which are all in one building, life sized, cast from bronze and painted gold. The sculptures had incredibly refined and elegant faces, super expressive with some being a bit grotesque. They are a bit older than the temple itself, and most have been spared the terrible Chinese habit of slapping on generic semi-gloss house paint on old things. The temple complex is large with many buildings devoted to many gods, including a rather recent,(90 years old) rather circus-y portion that was strange and almost frightening with screaming gods and circular painted clouds. Really amazing painting, bright and garish. A highlight, for sure.



Subway drama
At a bar called "Sex and da city"

He asked for a picture.



Long pause... I've been busy with our visitors, Erin and Susie, taking them all over this gritty city. It's been great. Above are a couple pictures, two of me! Wow! People, visit me! I'll post more words later.