Saturday, November 19, 2011

Organic Food and Farm in Shanghai

We've been eating fresh organic produce from Tony's farm since early September.  We got a deal where we paid up front ($15 a week for a the math).  Anyhow, we get great lettuce, spinach, cabbage, onions, garlic, ginger, interesting collection of potatoes, mushrooms, and a few unknowns delivered in a box each week.  It's nice and it's local and it's healthy.
Awesome Grow box, and this one was just for display
Josephine and Quinn pick their own lettuce and spinach
    Now although e have seen vegies everywhere we also have heard plenty about the pesticides and fertilizers that local growers use.  When we were in Zhouzhang we saw most people washing their vegies in the river that was the main canal in town - not the most sanitary thing.  Then they'd let the vegies dry on the sidewalk right outside their cafe and they'd try to lure you into their place by pointing at the vegies drying on the ground and give you a look like, "Ymm, these are good come on in and eat them."  Although they looked good, the canal-wash did not.  Made us glad we get tony's.
   So we had an opportunity the other day to visit Tony's farm and try the organic goods.  Rachel, the gal from Tony's who spoken very broken English told us just to take the subway to the other end of town and then catch a cab.  What wasn't clear was that it was a good 50km cab ride past the end of the subway.  Live and learn and sometimes pay a lot of money along the way.
The dinner we had at Tony's...Hot Pot style
    It was very refreshing to see the farm and all the modern growing techniques that they employ.  The treat their own water on site and employ the square foot planting routine.  Plenty of composting and its CLEAN.  Their are many local workers that help out.  It is way out in the South East corner of the Shanghai peninsula.

Why buy art work when you can paint it yourself?

Bridget works late into the night on the 2nd edition (on the right) of "The Life Series."
Quinn's "Untitled" Finally gets hung on our wall.
In late September the girls bought a bunch of canvasses and began painting.  We finally got these hung on our walls!  These paintings now decorate our walls.  I had to borrow a drill from my neighbor. Our walls are all cement so it was a loud hole to bore.  We've got a neighbor who smokes cigs and often the smell sneaks into our apartment. It is rather unpleasant.  Perhaps my drilling was bothering my indoor cig smoking neighbor. Regardless, we've now got some good art on the wall and by the end of the day tomorrow we'll have more.

Quinn had her second oral surgery today.  She's had these impacted canines that we've been watching mis-behave for the past few years and here in China things had finally gotten to be too much.  SO we found a good ortho, Dr. Ian, and a good oral surgeon, Dr. Gao, and now Quinn has a better mouth.

Currently, it is 10:40 PM (Day of surgery) and Quinn is hovered over 9  canvases painting something yellow.  I guess we'll find out later what it is.  I'm sure I could ask but the mystery is nice.  She has a beach theme in her room.

Ok, so now it is 12:40 early Sunday Morning and Quinn is finishing up and it is a glass of Lemonade. I'm tired and it is late and it is time for bed.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Christmas Shopping for...bugs, birds, and what not!

Bridget, Josephine and I took the subway into Shanghai last Sunday to do some mild Christmas shopping.  We thought we could get some ideas of things we could send home to family.  We were looking for this little Market that Bridget had found earlier in the year when we stumbled upon a bird, rabbit, rodent, and bug market.  Wow this place was happening.  The bugs were a hit.  Bugs of all sizes.  All Colors.  All LIVING.  Each in their own little bug container and for sale.  Men gather around the venders and discuss the varoius offerings like they were rare postage stamps for collecting.  Beetles, locust, grasshoppers, and plenty more.  Then there are the birds.  All types of parakeets, parrots, finches, love birds and on and on.  And they are squeeking and squaking all the while.  There are rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, mice, rats, chinchillas, and more!!

Christmas Shopping for...bugs, birds, and what not!

Bridget, Josephine and I took the subway into Shanghai last Sunday to do some mild Christmas shopping.  We thought we could get some ideas of things we could send home to family.  We were looking for this little Market that Bridget had found earlier in the year when we stumbled upon a bird, rabbit, rodent, and bug market.  Wow this place was happening.  The bugs were a hit.  Bugs of all sizes.  All Colors.  All LIVING.  Each in their own little bug container and for sale.  Men gather around the venders and discuss the varoius offerings like they were rare postage stamps for collecting.  Beetles, locust, grasshoppers, and plenty more.  Then there are the birds.  All types of parakeets, parrots, finches, love birds and on and on.  And they are squeeking and squaking all the while.  There are rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, mice, rats, chinchillas, and more!!


Bridget on the shores of West Lake, Hangzhou
"There's heaven, there's earth, and in between there is Hangzhou."  Or so the saying goes.  Bridget and I got to experience the most beautiful of what Hangzhou has to offer.  We stumbled upon an add looking for a family, or a single businessman to give up and couple of days and be filmed running around the various touristy spots of Hangzhou for a tourism video.  Bridget submitted our family but they ended up already having a family and wanted to use me as the business man.
Morning Fog on West Lake, Hangzhou
   What the heck?  The adventure began with Bridget and I catching a cab downtown Shanghai to the Fly Films studio where manager Xining (pronounced shee-nee) and fashion consultant DD took us to H & M to get fitted for costumes.  I brought a few shirts and pants with me, but they didn't like my stuff!  We spent that evening trying on clothes, sending pics of me in them to the director, who then gave his thumbs up or thumbs down.  We left with a few outfits picked out and a tour of their makeshift office in the French Concession, and two train tickets to Hangzou leaving on Friday 10/30 and returning Tuesday 11/2.
   We decided to leave our girls with the care of Mirjam (neighbors) with their own costumes and very specific trick or treating and what not intstructions (which Quinn interpreted with her own judgement...another story!)  Thus, a driver picks us up Sunday afternoon, takes us to the Hongqiao train station, and we board the bullet train for Hangzou!  This baby travels 311 KM/hour, making this 150 kilometer trip in much less than an hour - not bad.
Inside the "Bullet Train"

Notice the camera!  Hey My Sis Worked for Them!!
   We arrive in Hangzou to much smog and some confusion about where to find our connection. Although a touristy, small resort town on a lake, the city of Hangzou still has over 7 million people, and NO traffic control.  Once we got picked up it was the longest 1.5 hour 3 mile car ride I'd ever had.  We got checked into our hotel, met with Norman, the director, who gave us cash and a suggestion for dinner.   The place he recommended was hosting a wedding this evening.  It was a large buffett with tons of traditional Chinese food.  This ended up being a great opportunity for us to try some new food. Crab, clams, mussels, various fish, meat and veggies, and a bottle of beer.  Not bad.  We got back to the hotel and were to meet in the lobby the next morning for a 5:30 AM call.  Wow, that's early!
    We meet Norman, along with Adrian - the producer, Mark - the cameraman, and about a dozen crew members and support staff.  We pile into busses and head to the first location for a shoot, an old buddhist temple.  We have a small plastic bag filled with a modest breakfast.
     Norman, Adrian, and Mark, explain to us their over all concept for the shoot.  It will be a promotional tourism video for the city of Hangzou to be aired on CNN, Adrian's employer.  The idea is that Hangzou is so beautiful and relaxing that a businessman (me) could find time during his visit to wander around the many attractions of the area.
     We arrive at the temple, make up is applied, the crew sets up there stuff and I'm floored to see they're suing a RED camera!  Wow, I tell everyone I know that my sister used to work for RED and that I think it's the coolest thing in the world that I'm actually seeing a real RED camera.  Everyone is mildly impressed.
  It is cold and smokey due to the masses burning incense, but beautiful and a very impressive temple with a massive buddha.  Bridget and I get to hang out, enjoy the sights, and every now and then I have to "walkie walkie lookey lookey" as Adrian puts it.  After a few shots at the temple (Probably a total of 20 seconds for the film but 3 hours of work for these guys) we walk around the back side to the buddhist caves.  Again walkie lookey walkie lookey, but this time there are plenty of crowds.
    Next we move on to a national park or something.  We eat lunch here (taditional Chinese) and take more footage. We meet a local man, Alex, who is a liason for us with the hangzou government.  He has to play middle man for a few policeman who are curious in what's going on.  We soon pack up and head to the last location, a tea plantation.
Street Writer Patiently working the streets
THE Master non-asher!

Filming at the temple
   This place was incredible.  Beautiful rolling hills and rows and rows of tea.  When we first get there, bridget asks a woman if she can get a couple of cups of tea to go for us.  This takes much translation, she isn't quite understanding until finally she walks up with two cups and a large thermous.  Great!  We take it with us and head up the hill to where the shoot is.  However, the tea woman is soon running after us..."Wait Wait, you have my tea cups!" in chinese.  Norman helps us explain everything and off we go. The producers have staged this and are paying 100 yuan ($15) each to a number of the local tea pickers (Women old enough to be grandmothers) who climb the hills and begin picking tea.  The filming begins and as I've realized, these three guys (Norman, Adrian, and Mark) have varying levels of perfectionism, Mark leading the pack, so MUCH care and time goes into each of these shots.  We work until close to dark when Mark is leading the crew - camera, rig, gaffs, and tons of equipment I don't know the name of, way way up up up this mountain looking for the ideal shot.  The crew is tired, smoking, and losing the good attitude when finally Norman shouts out "NO MORE" fortunately, before anyone lost it, we wrapped it up with good footage and headed back to the bus and to a GREAT place for dinner called Green Tea - really out in the middle of the hills outside of Hangzou.  Plenty of Chinese people on the crew to order good food for us.  One of the best meals Bridget and I have had since being here in China. Back to the hotel and to bed for another pre dawn call.
       The next morning we head to West Lake, the pride and joy of hangzou.  It really is something else.  As we are warming up and waiting for the crew to get set up (Mark and Norman were up at 4:30 climbing some mountain to get a good sunrise time lapse shot) Bridget and I see this older gentleman writing on the street.  He has a bucket of water which he dipped into the lake and what looks like a paint brush that is about 4 feet long.  He dips the brush in the bucket of water and writes incredibly meticulously constructed chinese characters about 1 foot in length each in straight lines and columns on the street.  People drive the motorcycles and walk all over them, but he just keeps on writing until he runs out of water in the bucket.  Then he packs up his stuff and leaves!
Reviewing a take up in the hills of tea country
  The first shoot of the day was to be of me walking by a tai-chi class and admiring it.  The crew had hired the local tai-chi master and about 5 others to perform for this.  The master was awesome.  he warmed up by lighting a cigarette and beginning his routine.  He went through the whole routine puffing on the butt, but never grabbing it and ashing.  As a result he had this HUGE ash on his cigarette, but it never fell due to his mastery smooth tai chi moves!
   After shots at the lake we ended the day at a tea house in the city.  After a late night, we were driven to the train station and back home to Shanghai via the bullet train in time to see Quinn to bed.  It should air on CNN in the next month or so.

Friday, November 11, 2011

An interview with Josephine

Hi Josephine


What happened yesterday in school?


Anything special?

Yes, we had a "SO long ago" performance.

What is SO long ago?

Its a performance where each class is a different  Civilizaiton.

And which Civilization were you?

We were Asian.

What did you do as an Asian Civilization?

We got blue costumes with little knots to tie them together and we sung a chant about the Chinese land forms.

Who are your friends at school?

Emma, Andrea, Kathryn, and Lily.

Who is the funniest of them?



She is always making jokes.

What is your favorite subject in school?

Science and Reading.

What have you been reading?

I have recently finished a Series of Unfortunate Events.

How many books in that series?


Which one is the best?

um, 6, the Eratz Elevator.

What is your favorite part about your new school?

um, I like how we have healthy lunches.

What do you usually have for lunch?

Um, Some chicken or beef with a sauce and cucumbers, or a pizza, and watermellon.

What is the white mellon with black seeds?

Oh, it is also pink, it is called Dragon Fruit.

What activities are you doing outside of school?

I have Tennis at the British school where I just moved into the big, harder class.  My favorite part of tennis is the forehand because it is easy to do.

Do you like hitting the ball soft or hard?


What else are you doing?

I have violin on Mondays.

Do you like violin.

Yes, I like violin because it has a pretty sound when you learn how to do it beautifully.

Where are you going for Christmas?

We are going to the philippines.

Are you looking forward to it?

Yes!  very much.

Ok Josephine, thanks for talking to me.

You're welcome.  I'm going to read!

bye bye.

An Interview with Quinn

An Interview with Quinn:

Quinn, tell me a little about intramural soccer.

It's like this thing thats like a tournament inside the school.  There are 4 teams in the girls league. There are four teams, Barcelona, China, Liverpool, and I don't know the other one.  I'm Liverpool.  Every Monday we play an hour and 15 minute long game against one of the other teams.  At the end of the game we tell our score to the coach.  The jersey's are REALLY large.

What # are you?


What position do you play?

We switch mostly, but I usually play midfield, once I played goalie.  Midfield is my favorite.


Because I feel like I'm in a lot of control at mid field.  When I'm on offense I feel like I have to score a lot of goals, and on defense I am the last resort to save the ball.  But in midfield I can get a little bit of everything and it is alot of running which I like.

Is it just once a week?

Yes, Every Monday from 3:00 - 4:30.

And is there other soccer this season?

I have pre-season on Wednesdays.

And what is that?

Its basically um, training, for to get ready for the actual season of soccer, which is 3rd season, this is 2nd season right now.

How many girls are on pre-season soccer?

I'd say 15 to 20?

Who is the best girl out there?

There is a girl named, I forgot, she is a sophomore.

How about you?

I'm a freshman.

Yes, but are you any good?

Yes, I'm OK.  Some of the girls are beginners, Some of them have been playing all their life.  I'm pretty comfortable playing with them.

OK, Great.

So, moving on to your friends.  Who are your friends?

Femka.  We call her PHemka, becasue she is so PHat (which means cool.)  Adrienne, Lisa, Salus, Mikaela, Alica, Natalyn, Lexi, she is from Colorado.

Is Alicia the same Alicia that I have in Geometry?

Yes, Alicia Chen.

Who esle?

Thomas Ryde, he's from Denmark, and then Josh Singh.  He is a swimmer.

Who is the funniest of this crowd?

Salus can be pretty random, which is funny.  But then I'd probably say Adrienne.  Yep.

And how are your classes?

Um, I am liking all my classes.  PHysics was hard at first, but as I keep working and getting help I understand.  All my other classes are a general repeat of what I had before.  I just finished swimming in PE.

Tell me more about PE

Every class we have to get 20 minutes in zone - like heart rate zone.  So far we've done, softball, fitness 1, swimming, and now we are on sex ed/health.

Do you feel like the PE class is getting you in good shape?

Um, actually yes I do!  I feel like I get good exercise doing it with friends.

Who is the cutest boy in the school?

Um, I think there is a jr that is really cute, but I don't know his name and I don't want to get to know him and I think he has a girlfriend.

What is your favorite class?

I love my study hall, but I like english class and Asian History.

How about art?

I love art and I have it with my friend thomas.  He and my other friend Stanly are always talking in Chinese and I don't know what they're saying.

You're turning 15 soon, what is the best part about being 14?

Um, I don't know.  I can't say I have more freedom than I did last year, but I don't.

Thanks for talking with us today Quinn!

You're welcome, thanks for interviewing me.  I'm going to do some homework.