How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE


29 Comments

Beijing, Day 5, Part 3: The Hutong and a Rickshaw Tour

After the disappointment of Olympic Park, the day became more interesting. We visited The Hutong, once the old walled city. The buildings were ancient with age and from life. We drove through the shopping district but did not stop. As the bus meandered through the old town’s narrow streets, we learned a new subway station had been planned for the area and building were being torn down and replaced.

To learn more, go to http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/beijing/hutong/

We were headed for a rickshaw ride.

That's a lot of rickshaws. This is still a popular draw in the Hutong.

That’s a lot of rickshaws. This is still a popular draw in the Hutong.

I had been worried about runners pulling us in traffic, as in cars. I suppose I’ve seen too many movie. Ricksaws had progress to pedal power.

Sue and I not sure what to make of this. We're not exactly featherweights.

Sue and I not sure what to make of this. We’re not exactly featherweights.

The roads are bricked and narrow. Other customers other than our Group 8 had come for a ride.

Someone else enjoying a ride. It's a wonderful day for it.

Someone else enjoying a ride. It’s a wonderful day for it.

Falling buildings and new parked cars. The alleys were full of contrasts. You wouldn’t believe the electrical boxes and the the plugs inserted in them helter skelter.

An artist's work on display

An artist’s work on display

We all know alleys are a playground for wandering, stray cats.  I saw none, nor any dog either.

Restaurant tables and chairs. Too simple. Let's bring all of the inside out.

Restaurant tables and chairs outside. Too simple. Let’s bring all of the inside out.

Sue and I whispered behind the driver’s back how guilty we felt having this not-so-young man peddling for all he was worth. We had been instructed to tip him, but no more than $2.00 USD.

The driver wasn't young but he must have been in good shape for all that heavy peddling.

The driver wasn’t young but he must have been in good shape for all that heavy peddling.

 Our driver,  a warm and generous guy, was happy to have a picture with Sue and I.

We weren't sure if he understood anything we said to him but he gave off happy vibes.

We weren’t sure if he understood anything we said to him but he gave off happy vibes. That’s the man-made lake in the background. How many people and how long did that take?

The things people throw out. I didn’t see anything wrong with the girl’s two wheeler but I also didn’t jump out of the ricksaw to inspect it.

Looks like home. All ready for garbage pickup.

Looks like home. All ready for garbage pickup.

I cannot recall is this is a restaurant or a temple.

Not a great photo because of the narrow street and my amateur photography.

Not a great photo because of the narrow street and my amateur photography.

 

Next on August 1, Beijing Day 5, Part 4: A Special Peking Duck Dinner

For more related links, go to China tab at top of the page.


53 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #142

To join in the fun

checkout:  http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week142/

This week’s prompt is  do you have to make that noise+ 100 words

100wcgu-72

THE PARTY

“Newcomer neighbors. I’ve enough!” Lizzie stomped to the door in pink terry housecoat and slippers. She grabbed the broom from the closet and snickered. What good is this?

She slammed her apartment door hard and something splintered. Doors behind her burst open; cold-creamed seniors gaped. She pounded her neighbor’s door, stepped back and bristled, rubbing tender knuckles. No response. She whacked again with the broom handle. The door cracked open.

“Do you have to make that noise? I’m trying to sleep.”

“What? Sorry.”

“The party—kill it.”

“No party. Granny couldn’t sleep. We’re watching Woodstock documentaries.”

“Quiet down. Give her brandy instead.”

“Join us?”

“You have brandy?”


111 Comments

Beijing, Day 5, Part 2: Olympic Park

The Olympic Park

The Olympic grounds had been built on razed farmland. We were told all the displaced farmers had been given jobs and a better apartment than the farmhouses they’d lived in. Everyone’s happy; a win-win.

To get to the entrance of the Park, a busy highway had to be negotiated by foot. The bus had been parked on the other side. Although busy, the hazards of crossing (four-lanes? can’t be sure now) presented less chance of being run over than in the midst of the city if you timed your jaunt.

At long last, we were free to wander the grounds. I found our time there boring, however. The sun smirked overhead. Paved walkways, expansive stone-tiled and bricked thoroughfare stretched miles ahead, too bright and stripped of real shade. Thank goodness for hats and sunglasses. It felt a clear day and I noticed no smog todate.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtjogMtnrjw  (published Feb. 2014, 2.53 min)

or

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12e3c6mAzfQ  (published May 2014, 9.45 min)

Notice the tents with trinkets for visitors. In the background is the 25-story IBM building (in the shape of Olympic torch)

Notice the tents with trinkets for visitors. In the background is the 25-story IBM building (in the shape of Olympic torch)

 I recall hawkers in the open and sellers of tourist knick-knacks in stall after stall after stall, along one side of the center road. These were actually white tents four or five feet wide with a flap raised on some as a sunshade. At intervals, empty stretches separated one cluster from another. The disappointment lay in discovering they all carried the same products! Every one.

One of the last ones, a larger tent, provided a digital opportunity for a mock emperor and concubine, or possibly his queen. Ernesto and Lorena, known for their carefree style, donned the costumes provided and had their royal photo taken.

Another frustration surfaced: no open exhibits.

As we left the Park, we ladies inquired about washrooms. Somebody spied one and pointed. “No, you won’t like that one,” Robert said. “See there? That’s a good one.” We’d heard a similar declaration several times now. I wondered in what way it might be different and not to our liking.

The Birds Nest National Statdium

The Birds Nest National Stadium

NO matter what was served for any of our meals, I would never starve. It struck me, though, lunch and dinner dishes were quite similar, with lot of repeats. Time will tell.

Lunch was served at a restaurant not far from Olympic Village. From where we sat, I saw back-to-back orange hoods / like half pods or huge footballers’ helmets and wondered what they were. Phone booths. Say what? Two by two they appeared on the sidewalk, back to back, closer than girlfriends. Migrants and low income workers use these phone ‘booths.’ For pictures, click below.

https://www.google.ca/search?q=public+phone+booths%2C+beijing&rlz=1C1EODB_enCA562CA564&oq=public+phone+booths%2C+beijing&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i64.12144j0j7&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=93&ie=UTF-8

Notice the water glasses, which vary in size from restaurant to restaurant

Notice the water glasses, which vary in size from restaurant to restaurant. Delicious.

LUNCH:

  • White rice
  • Tea (always hot and ready)
  • Pork meatballs
  • Chicken with cabbage and carrots
  • Kung Pow chicken
  • Rice (with duck meat)
  • Deep fried pork
  • Cucumbers with chicken\
  • Deep fried battered fish
  • Egg drop soup
  • Sliced watermelon for dessert

~ * ~

Some Quick Facts about Telephones:

  • Everyone has a cell phone, sometimes two
  • Use text message vs. phone because it’s cheaper
  • Two providers: China Mobile and China Unicom
  • Phone fee 200 Yuan per month or $40.
  • Use’ You Chat’ a lot

Housing:

  • Apartment rent 2 bedrooms $1,000 per month
  • Condo rent good location $1,600 per month (depending on that location)
  • Condos, 2-bedroom, 1,000 square metres, 1 toilet
  • Condos cost $6,000 per square metre
  • 1,000 metres = $600,000 per condo
  • A house and garage, minimum price 30,000,000 Yuan or FIVE million U.S. dollars

For all related posts click on China tab at the top of the page.


47 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grown-ups – Week #141

To join in the fun, check  out

http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week141/

This week’s prompt is ‘but there are so many seeds’ plus 100 words

100wcgu-72

SEEDS

Morgan paced, red lips set in a thin flat line. Clickety-clack, click. Three steps forward; two steps back. “How can she get away with this?”

“The public won’t have a clue.”

She whirled a scarlet nail towards her daughter, eyes black as onyx. “But there are so many seeds of half-truths and outright lies here.”

“This book is trash! Forget it.”

“Grievous insinuations—still, she didn’t name names…”

“So. Is it true about Warren Beatty? Who’s Cesare?”

“Ssh.” Morgan peered over her shoulder. “Where’s your father?”

“Why are you whispering?” Alexa jiggled flawless, penciled brows. “Spill.”

“Nothing to tell.” Arms folded, Morgan raised her designer chin.


38 Comments

Writing Process Meme

Note:  This is longer than my usual.

Kansen Sakura @http://kanzensakura.com/  asked if I’d be willing to answer and post four questions. I didn’t ask for details. The request sounded easy enough. It wasn’t until she posted her answers that the realization hit me: I’d already done this. What to do? Shush. Do it.

She is full of unbelievable surprises. She’s a chef, engineer, and a poet, with interests in ballroom dancing, photography, things Japanese and on and on. Recently, she became a student again in Pharmacy study. Check her out and be amazed.

J.B.Whitmore’s Scribbler’s Playhouse @ http://holdouts.wordpress.com/ is a new blogging friend who also asked if I’d answer four questions about my writing process. I asked to be excused as I had recently been tagged by Jacqui Murray at http://worddreams.wordpress.com.

Check out JBW’s open invitation to all Writers’ Writing: http://holdouts.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/open-call-for-writers-writing/

 

Drum roll, please. If you have not met these ladies, let me introduce:

  1. Colleen Brown @ http://bikecolleenbrown.wordpress.com/

Colleen writes about life as it strikes her. She has a particular way of looking at the world, peeling the layers one by one, until the heart of her topic is exposed. Laugh or cry, you’ll experience a new way of understanding. As well, you’ll enjoy her clever shadow people. I won’t explain; you must see for yourself.

 

  1. Vanessa Chapman @http://vanessa-chapman.com/

I can’t recall how I stumbled upon her blog a couple of years ago, but I have enjoyed her humor and inventiveness since. She’s not only a blogger, but is also a part time actor, a writer of magazine articles and works at a university in England.  I can almost manage one blog; she has a two. Do breeze over to: http://sugarness.com/

 

  1. Sherri Mathews @http://sherrimatthewsblog.com/

Sherri believes in hope. She says moving has been a constant throughout her life. Unexpected and unplanned changes and obstacles forced her to rethink her outlook. Opportunities came and vanished, but she ploughed forward. She currently blogs and works on her memoir with a radiant smile and sunny disposition. Stop and say hello and have a look around.

My answers:

The rules for this meme are to answer four questions about your writing method and nominate three new people.

 

What am I working on at the moment?

I’m sorting through and sprucing up short stories for submission before summer readings close. Matching the correct magazine to the story is my biggest headache and time consuming. Do I do contests or pay fees? At first I did for a couple, but no longer. I am retired after all and fees add up, although submitters usually receive a ‘free’ subscription in return. Since I first posted this, I’ve read reading fees are becoming a reality.

 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’ve a simple and unexciting answer to this question. I believe my writing fits into general fiction and not any sub-category. I tend to write about a variety of subjects which don’t include fantasy, sci-fi or horror etc. Everyday common-man-situations readers might associate with and cheer are what grab me as well. I can’t help being tickled if the stories are entertaining to readers when I release them.

 

Why do I write what I do?

I write to entertain myself, to analyze situations to better understand them, and to sort out the clamour in my head. I write about what grabs my attention. Sometimes, I believe I have a life altering idea and sometimes this is true, but not always. Okay, hardly ever.

 

How does my writing process work?

The middle of the day works best for me because I use up mornings to ease into the work after I’ve read the paper, my e-mail and blogs, and swept away diversions so I can concentrate.

I have a spiral notebook within reach to scribble fleeting ideas before they vanish. However, my handwriting has degenerated so much even chicken scratch doesn’t describe it. Most of the time I write like a demon and can’t make it out later. My favourite writing tool is my laptop from draft to finish.

I don’t accomplish as much as I should because I’m disorganized and easily distracted. Sometimes, I type as fast as I can to capture what’s going through my head and then leave it for another day because I’m not always sure what to do with the information right away.

When the going is hot—not often enough—my day vanishes. I’ve typed the first draft and filled in holes, patched bridges and edited as much as I can. I then put away the piece for another day when I can read it like a stranger. Only once or twice have I written a short story from start to finish in one day and been satisfied. Believe it or not, I enjoy editing the most because then I take my time.

 

Once again, these are my three nominees.

  1. Colleen Brown @ http://bikecolleenbrown.wordpress.com/  (July 21)
  2. Vanessa Chapman @http://vanessa-chapman.com/  (July28)
  3. Sherri Mathews @http://sherrimatthewsblog.com/  (Aug. 4)

Answer these four questions on your blog beginning July 21, 2014 (and on consecutive Mondays thereafter) and add three new nominations to your posts.

  1. What am I working on at the moment?
  2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
  3. Why do I write what I do?
  4. How does my writing process work?


88 Comments

Beijing Day 5, Part 1: The Pearl Store and Summer Palace

The bus set off at 9:00 a.m.

Upon entering the Pearl building, we were bustled into a small room with folding card chairs. Our pearl instruction lady described the different types of pearls: fresh water and salt water and advised the former as best, throwing in some color distinctions. She presented round and irregular samples as well as the reasons for the various colors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl

Thank you Microsoft

Thank you Microsoft

After this quickie presentation, we sprinted behind the pearl instructor into a larger, showier room with thick royal blue carpet and plushier chairs. Models, dressed in formal wear, appeared on the catwalk to showcase and model pearl necklaces and earrings. I wasn’t enthralled, but still  astonished by the flashy show, and I cannot lie, the jewelry was gorgeous. The fashion ladies withdrew and The Group 8 were bid to follow by a forward flourish. With a dramatic pull on a set of double doors, a whole new world materialized:  a magical place, with lights so bright they blinded at first. Rows and rows of glass cases, shiny as jewels themselves, glittered up and down the aisles. I swear a saleslady appeared for every customer. I noticed only one male clerk. A tour group left as we arrived and shortly afterward the French Group showed up. The showroom hummed and bustled like a beehive. New sales staff seemed to emerge out of thin air as needed.

Set up in one corner, I noticed a coffee and wine bar with bar chairs. No, nothing here was free to pacify / massage the customer. A list of hefty prices hung on obvious display. Avoiding sales staff who followed you like a shadow is thirsty work but I wasn’t buying anything. I’ve never cared about pearls and most jewelry my whole life (except earrings). Why would I buy them at this age?

Lorena and Bonnie bought jewelry. Our few non-buying members huddled together and made for the door at the first opportunity. We found an unbelievable treasure while we wandered around till everyone finished shopping. The walls displayed every size of oyster shell you never imagined with plagued descriptions underneath. However, we weren’t given time to amble around and were hustled out to the bus. Why? We had to go. So fast?

See the 'pearled' cream. One is for day, the other night.

See the ‘pearled’ cream. One is for day, the other night.

A clerk pushing Pearl skin cream caught my attention and said, “This will make your skin look 20 years younger.”

“Can I have a written guarantee?” I asked.

“Sure.”

Such a quick response. “What good is it if my face is young and the rest of me is sagging?”

“Madam, you can use it all over your body.”

“Look at me,” another clerk piped in, “I’m 70.”

We all tittered because she couldn’t have been a day over 29. I gave her kudos for her quick comeback, though. I hope she’s worth her weight in gold.

 

The Summer Palace

The Hall of Benevolence and Longevity

The Hall of Benevolence and Longevity

 

I enjoyed our tour of the Summer Palace. The park was enormous (over 700 acres, taken up mostly by Kunming Lake); a peaceful place to spend the day. It has a long, remarkable history. This will give you a better outline and will take less time to take in.

http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/beijing/summer.htm    (2.53 min)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ple6S_pjFzU

The Marble Boat

The Marble Boat

 

The Men’s and Ladies’ washrooms were again across from each other with a communal sink in between. The facilities tiny cubicles with elbow-knocking walls. I don’t take up much room but had a difficult doing the deed. Ouch. Lucky for me, the door I happened to offer a pedestal toilet. I heard later, the rest were squats. It was dark as well and I could hardly see.

Bridge to a point on the water

Bridge to a point on the water

 

Quick Facts on Education:

  • Kindergarten is bi-lingual (Chinese and English)
  • Government-paid until age 15
  • School 7:30 to 4:30 p.m. five days per week
  • For better school must pay $6,000 to $12,000 extra per year
  • Sometimes extra classes on Saturdays
  • Music lessons at school (not outside in music school)
  • Beijing has 70 universities
  • University cost for 2 semesters  $3,500 / year
  • College costs $1,700 / year
  • 70-80% Chinese kids go to college in Beijing
  • School vacation in winter 21 days (for travel)
  • Summer vacation in summer (2 months for travel)
  • $40,000 – $50,000 to study in U.S. paid by parents
  • http://news.at0086.com/China-Universities/The-university-fees-in-China.html

 

Up Next, July 18th, Olympic Park

For all related posts, click on China tab at the top of the page


71 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grown-ups – Week #140

To join, check out:

http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week140/

This week’s prompt: The photo below + 100 words

100wcgu-72

PALERMO

wpid-photo-20140702084425

“Reenie, come back.”

“One minute.” She rummaged inside her shoulder bag and whipped out a digital camera.

“Come on. We’ll miss the train.” His hot breath prickled her neck.

Hands unsteady, she fidgeted with the strap and buttons. “Give me a sec.”  The purse slid down her arm and she fought for balance struggling to take the picture. “Incredible sunset!”

“Please. The train?”

“Hold this?” She checked her shots and grinned.

Face pinched and distressed, he caught her arm and tugged. They dashed to the car.

“Tomorrow, a Palermo sunset. I’ll take my bag now.”

“What?”

A train whistle shrieked.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,124 other followers