favorites

21 Oct

There are these huge hideous shrubs that line our East-facing windows. They’re so ghastly that I suspect they’ve never been trimmed in all their plant-lives. The one thing that’s pleasant, besides being an excellent window shade while it still has leaves, are the birds that perch outside our window. It’s usually a crowd of overweight sparrows, but occasionally we get a cute little Chickadee or a bright red Cardinal.

The part I’m really digging now is a corner of our dining room with the newest addition of our house: Devin’s grandmother’s former sheet music shelf. It used to house piano music while Devin’s grandmother was still alive, and for a while it was banished to the Edmonds’ garage for being useless and taking up space. Now it has a new home, ours, and it pays its rent by shelving all our miscellaneous crap (as well as look very handsome)!

Other favorites: Keroppi frog pillow and our home-made bookshelf.

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house

16 Oct

Now residing at our new house on E. Johnson St…

with boyfriend, a turtle, a snake, a salamander, a gang of frogs, and soon some fish and a gecko.

Devin has lived on the East side all his life, but this is my first year on this side of town… and I like it, so far. It isn’t ghetto like South Park St, but not crazy wealthy like the Vilas neighborhood, not college-y like the Downtown area, and not obscure like the North side. The East side has a bit of everything: old hippies, young hipsters, punks, professionals, food co-ops, local restaurants, dark, dingy bars, and generally a nice, welcoming feel and a close proximity to all the places you want to be in Madison.

Tea and fruit.

Tea and fruit.

see our house…

China

4 Oct

Back in Minnesota from my travels, so I’m also back, blog-wise.

Devin has a pretty good city-for-city entry about China already, but I feel obligated to write one for my blog — so here we go.

Hong Kong

Devin and I spent a week in Hong Kong before heading into Mainland. Overwhelmed Devin with countless aunts and uncles, all doting on him and us. Saw the sights, fought a few times, enjoyed each other again for the first time in over 3 months.

Devin at The Peak. The Fam.

Guilin

First stop: Guilin, city of limestone mountains. The scenery is so strange that it almost looks like Wookiee Planet C from Star Wars. Our friend Kuhn Yin and her family hosted us for several days. During that time, we climbed 6 ‘mountains’, feasted on a Guilin-style banquet and saw the city by foot.

"fucking cave!"

Yangshuo

Being trapped in the heart of Yangshuo was somewhat unpleasant, kind of like ending up in Vegas when you were expecting countryside. But we got that too, by biking out half an hour from town. We saw a 1400-year-old Banyan tree and climbed on top of “Moon Hill” for a spectacular view of the surrounds.

I was pretty proud of the woven hat that I bought from one of the vendors, who offered to sell it to me for Y50… to which I said ‘hell no!’ I got it for Y15 in the end. It left me when we returned to Guilin, after leaving it unattended for a couple hours on a stairwell.

Old Banyan On top of Moon Hill.

Chengdu

We made this city our vacation from vacation, but only because we found an amazing hostel called Sim’s Garden Guesthouse. These people have thought of everything; you name it, they have it. They’ve got answers for you even before you’ve thought of the question. Chengdu was easy to get around, so between walking and taking the bus, we got to know the city fairly well. We splurged on DVDs and ate Sichuan-style food, which was both oily and spicy. I guess I’m all-in-all a Guangdong gal cuz I definitely prefer the food from my own region.

Oily Sichuan BBQ Turtle Salesman

Moxi, Hailuogou Glacier and Gongga Shan

I think the Chinese army decided to set up a military base near this small mountain town because Devin was pulled off the bus at one of their checkpoints on the way to Moxi. Every day, legions of young Chinese men and women jog up and down the streets of the village itself. I suppose if you can run for miles on a mountain, doing the same distance at a lower elevation would be a sinch. I was out of breath every ten steps while clambering over this glacier.

Tibetan prayer flags Cable car over the Hailuogou Glacier Gongga Shan

…and back again.

Back in Hong Kong, we celebrated Devin, Uncle Norman and Aunt Po’s birthdays, saw big fish, and got sick just in time for the flight home. The ending of a fun trip!

Singing happy birthday to themselves. This is why I don't swim.

Shenzhen

27 Aug

Shopping

Hong Kong is the reputed shopping mecca of the world, and people wonder what you’ve been doing there if you didn’t experience the commercial frenzy that describes HK best. But actually, the best deals can be found across the border in Shenzhen, which is where I went yesterday.

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Oh. My. God. Going with my three aunts gave “shopping” a new definition entirely. They were lionesses on the prowl. Like sharks with mad bargaining skillz. Wielding a ten-foot price machete. My aunts are the type feared by most shop owners, as they will push it the lowest it can go, and then push it even lower. Almost made a few shopkeepers cry. In fact, some seemed to give us low prices out of sheer respect. It was like a game, really. Towards the end of the night, amidst a negotiation, my aunts and the shopkeeper burst out in a fit of giggles because of how ridiculously stubborn my aunt was. The trick is to be able to walk away from anything you are bargaining for. The shopkeeper came after us 100% of the time and dragged us back to their shop, but only when they realized we really wouldn’t come back.

Let’s be honest though, I’m a little bit– no, absolutely and completely appalled by the amount I brought back.

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Sometime in the afternoon, a fight broke out between two women at a bed covers shop. They were screaming and pushing each other, and an entire intersection of the mall was jammed up with crowds of people watching the rather ridiculous brawl. A security guard arrived at the scene and stood around uselessly, looking a bit intimidated by these screaming elders. A second one broke out at the restaurant later that night, which involved a lot of yelling. I’ve never seen so many public conflicts in my life.

Eating

I shouldn’t even start. How 4 women can eat so much is beyond me. Last night, we ordered a tofu dish, spare ribs, 2 vegetable dishes, 1 fried fish dish, 1 chicken and 2 desserts. And Chinese people eat everything. There’s no such thing as wasting food, even if you’re about to burst. And indeed, we ate everything. Oh, and it was so scrumptious.

The Specs

Best Bargain: Y680 lowered to Y200 in two minutes.

Two public fights.

7 hours.

Dim sum for lunch, 8 dishes of food for dinner.

6 dresses
3 belts                                                      All for less than
2 purses                         =                      a single pair of glasses
7 bras                                                      that I purchased in Madison.
4 underwear

*Sorry I don’t have pictures!

wedding

2 Aug

Some pictures from the wedding. Teresa was gorgeous and the whole thing went smoothly, except perhaps a couple of — maybe drunk– aunts. They were entertaining.

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books

21 Jul

Makin’ progress!

The 2009 Book List

playground

17 Jul

Hadn’t been to Edinborough Park in Edina for a long while. It seemed like a good option out of the cold and rain of July (sigh, our weather), and what do we find? A 5-story freakin’ heaven for kids. Needless to say, Brian and I frolicked all the way to the top.

$185K playset for rich kids.