Friday, August 26, 2016

Lunching with the ladies

Playing an ice-breaker game before we eat lunch.
I'm back overseas, but while I was away, some of my American friends had left. Returned home! Imagine that! 

Other American friends have been gone for the summer. So I decided I need to find some new expat friends. I love my Chinese friends, but it's helpful at times to be able to talk to people who relate to your background and upbringing. 

I went to the international church in town last week, and they announced a women's potluck luncheon the following week. So I went. It was held in the home of a couple who are here on an "expat package." I suppose that most foreigners here are on that type of support package. That means they generally have a huge, expensive multi-level house with a yard, a full-time maid, a chauffeur at their beck and call, and for those who have kids, tuition paid to attend the international school in town. All costs are covered by their employer.

For the luncheon, we met at a villa. It is unlike any other kind of housing in this country, so it really stands out.

It was a far cry from my usual life, but it was fun anyway. The lady of the house was humble and said it wasn't really her house, they were just tenants. One lady said she didn't like having a driver because she misses her independence and the ability to come and go as she liked. 

These particular ladies really seem to have no idea how the rest of this country lives, but it is their reality. It's certainly not their fault they have an easy life.

The pastor's wife, from South Africa, told me she was raised a Baptist, and they always had potlucks in South Africa. I laughed. Isn't it the same in the U.S.? She quickly realized that asking people to bring dishes of food in this country was rather inconvenient. A few had carried their dishes by subway, a few by foot. I brought mine across town by e-bike. The rest got their food there by chauffeur-driven vans. 

I met ladies from the Philippines, Brazil, South Africa, other parts of Africa, Germany, U.S.A., Malaysia, Taiwan, and I forgot where else. 

The Chinese government doesn't allow Chinese to attend the International Fellowship. Only foreign passport holders are allowed to attend. Many foreign Christians live in this city. Who knew?!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

First haircut in two years

It takes a long time to grow hair back after you lose it all. It was finally getting long enough to look normal, but was a little bit uneven. I needed a trim.

I read another cancer survivor's account of growing her hair out for over a year, only to have a careless hairdresser cut off all her progress. She was devastated. So to avoid the same thing happening to me, I had to choose my hairdresser carefully, and had to be able to communicate with that person well.

I found one. My hairdresser, a Chinese young man with the English name Steven, listened carefully and is helping me with my plan to grow my hair out. He trimmed it, gave it some layers in appropriate places, and decided a few highlights would make it look better. 

It was nice to save money on haircuts for the last couple of years, but it better to be back among the normal people who have to pay to get haircuts!

And, by the way, I would also choose baldness over cancer and its consequences. Some people make too much of their hair, letting vanity take precedence over fighting cancer with all of one's strength. Having hair again feels nice, but it is not everything.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Random Summer Summary 2016


You know it is hot when you have to travel to Thailand to cool off.

The heat index got up to 126 degrees Fahrenheit one day here where I live in the Middle Kingdom. Most evenings the heat index has been at least 100 degrees. Not every summer is this hot. For instance, any summer I am not here, it is not that hot. It wasn't that hot here last summer.


I am not in this picture and I did not wear a swimsuit, so don't be wondering which one of these Russian exhibitionists is me. 

Some day when I am full of energy, I will get the good photos off of my good camera instead of just showing you my phone photos.

Honestly, while in Thailand I saw the beach for about five minutes every day, usually just before the sun set, but I wasn't at the beach much. 

I have been on three trips this summer. I have been to Taiwan, Thailand, and a desert area of China. I did fine on each trip, but when I got home from the trips I had trip recovery issues. Maybe when the weather cools down, I can recover more quickly. My health still drags me down. 


One day near the end of Ramadan, on one of my trips, I was out in a public park and the Muslim lady above invited me to her house for dinner. She was very friendly and insisted. I told her I would visit her house, but I wouldn't eat because I'd already eaten dinner. I got there and she started cooking, because she didn't believe I'd really already eaten. I wasn't really planning to eat her food, and she wasn't planning to eat it either because she was still fasting. So finally we just took photos and laughed and talked about things. Here she is at the sink washing the food she planned to cook for me. Her hat is what Muslims wear. Sometimes they wear scarves, but the purple hats are easier to throw on. 

She told me that her husband was staying with their daughter for a few weeks, because he wanted to eat and his daughter would cook for him. So this lady was willing to cook for me but not for her own husband.


One day, in my own city, I went to eat at a Muslim restaurant. The Uighurs who work there are very conservative, cover up with scarves, and are very unfriendly. You can say hello to them and they won't even acknowledge your existence. People go there to eat because the food is good, not because they want to be acknowledged as human beings. 

So imagine my shock when I went to the restaurant one day and one of the women came over to TALK TO ME. She wanted schooling help for her children and thought I would have information to help. Her husband came over and we exchanged contact information. I texted a Chinese friend to say I was at this restaurant, and that Chinese friend wrote back asking if they were being mean as usual. I wrote back and said "NO, WE ARE FRIENDS NOW!" My Chinese friend thought I was being sarcastic and didn't believe me! Haha.

I've been back several times. The last time I was there, a torrential thunderstorm came up. The sidewalks became rivers. I had to stay at their restaurant a really long time. I thought I could chat with them more, but they were busy running the restaurant. 


When a mild break in the rain came, I ran across the pathway to a coffee shop and hung out until the storm ended. It was one of the most beautifully decorated coffee shops that I've ever been in.


I felt bad that Mimi was home alone during the storm though. Poor dog child.


Besides going to the doctor for appointments, these are the sad little highlights of my summer so far. Thank God I've been able to do this much!

I've tried to write blog posts more often, but the internet always seems to cut out when I have time to write. Thanks to the Great Firewall of You-Know-Where, I have to use a VPN to write on this blog, and VPN slows down the internet and doesn't work at all sometimes. I do the best I can with what I have.

Please pray for good health for me and my family (my parents in particular). And, as always, please pray that cancer stays away from my body forever, please.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

"He was asking for it," says Mimi

My dog bit the groundskeeper this morning. I was trying to talk to him and I was holding her usually tight leash a little too loosely. She must have not liked the look or smell of the guy, because she went right for his ankle, a move she tries on every person and dog that comes too close that she doesn't take an immediate liking to.

I think Mimi thought in her own little brain that she was playing with him, because she didn't try to kill him or anything. She just got her slobber all over the leg of his trousers, like she was teasing him to come chase her or something. He pulled up his trouser's leg to see if she broke skin, and though we could detect a little redness, she hadn't broken his skin. The groundskeeper is such a good sport though; he laughed it off and said "mei shi," no problem.

Mimi was all smiling and everything. She looked at me for approval and wondered why the game ended before it ever got started good. If only we could find a game for her that didn't involve her teeth and "mouth water" as they call it here....

I understand the groundskeeper's initial fear. In this country, rabies are a big problem. If you get bit by a rabid dog (which Mimi acts like sometimes, but is not), you have to go to the hospital and pay a couple of hundred dollars for a series of rabies shots. If you don't, you may start foaming at the mouth, bite people and die within a few months. If Mimi had seriously bit this guy,  I would have had to pay for his shots, and rightly so. I know, I must remember to keep that leash tight, or else pick her up and throw her over my shoulder like a baby when I stop to talk to someone!

In America, Mimi and I would walk and walk and walk and never encounter another person. But in this most populated country of the world, we can't walk more than five seconds without passing someone or some group of people. I'm usually very careful to keep her leash pulled tight so she can't lunge at anyone.

I told the guy Mimi has had her rabies shots and cannot carry the rabies disease. But no one here believes that story, although in my case it is true. Even if you showed them your pet's rabies' certificates, they would assume they were forged. Lots of people try to save money by not getting their pets vaccinated, and some find fake certificates to use. But my dog really did get rabies shots, in Texas in December. So she is really good.

And when I say good, I mean bad. Mimi is really bad to be biting people. She has a bad master who could never figure out how to train and restrain this notoriously off-the-wall doggy breed.

On the other hand, her behavior works great for her watch dog status, and I always feel very safe with her around. If the delivery guy tries anything funny, Mimi will have him for lunch.

My 11-year-old Mimi is so sweet, calm and loving when she is home inside with me with the door closed. My neighbors who share the elevator with Mimi wouldn't believe it. I've told them as much, and they are like "are you kidding me?"

Anyway, she's my sweet little wolf, and I"m keeping her.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Weather

View from my balcony. The tall buildings in the distant mid-left look much, much bigger in real life.
The "plum rain" season of May and June has finally given way to the steamy days of summer. From now until the end of July, we have forecast highs of 100 degrees Fahrenheit every single day, with the heat index running anywhere from 114 - 121 degrees Fahrenheit. 

First the rain and dangerous lightning storms hindered gatherings of friends, and now it is the heat. No one gets out unless it is absolutely necessary, like to go to work or buy groceries. Since most people, including me, rely on pubic transportation, and getting to said transportation requires lots of walking and waiting, it becomes dangerous to be out. The humidity is the killer.

Usually by the middle of August, the humidity drops dramatically and it is just normal summer heat. I'm looking forward to that time, when life will start to get back to normal and the electric bill starts having lower numbers on it. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

On a cool June day

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Out and about since I've been back

The beautiful horticulture of the Middle Kingdom can't be beat. This is inside my apartment complex, where I take Mimi for walks.
Cute little neighbor girl flashes the "peace" sign
I decided to stop and smell the roses, literally. If only it didn't hurt so much to bend down to smell them.
My veggie seller was sure surprised to see me after my lengthy year-and-a-half hiatus.
I love Chinese food, and I especially like Xingjiang (SHEEN-gee-ong) food that originates from western China. This is a Xinjiang restaurant in the city where I live.
The city has beautiful free public parks. I noticed this little play area was in the shape of "ying-yang."

Before I left Texas

Before I left Texas, some college friends came to bid farewell. In this photo: (l-r) Phil Moore, Laura and James Wilson, Jane Collette, Andy and Patsy Phillips, me, Mark Thomasy, Cindy and Bruce Welch. My parents, Laura's mom LaVerne, my niece Valerie and my nephew Nathan were also there. I had bronchitis at the time, and was kind of "out of it," so I didn't get to visit as well as I would have liked, and I can't remember some of it either (meds?) but I will never forget their gesture of love at coming together on my behalf. Thanks to you all!

P.S. For the record, this is not my hairdo of choice. This is what you get when you let your hair grow out after 11 months from a state of baldness.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Catching up

Since arriving back in town, I've tried to catch up with some of my previous friends. I met with Oscar and Damian at Starbucks. These great young men are kind of like my local little brothers. They are the ringleaders of a group of young people that I often meet up with. It was so good to see them again and to know that their lives have gone well over these past couple of years. I have quite a few others I need to catch up with soon as well. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Elephants never forget

After a year and a half in Texas, in a one-level home that has a fenced in backyard with grass, you'd think this little Pekingese might have been confused when she returned to her high-rise apartment, elevator, in-door potty training expectations, and all the other things that are different in her life in the Middle Kingdom.

She acted like she hadn't been away a single minute.

They say elephants never forget. Nor do Pekingese.