cocktail hour in the laundry room

Sunday, May 10: I’d like to invite you to join me for a Sunday night cocktail hour in my laundry room.  It’s a bit of a nondescript and narrow space, but I’ve been imagining it’s something nicer, and I’m hoping you can stretch your imagination as well.  We’ll imagine we’re in an embassy house, sitting on a screened-in porch in a Mediterranean country somewhere, perhaps.  That’s what I’ve been doing, ever since I read American Romantic by Ward Just.

I always wanted to be in the Foreign Service, but I failed the Foreign Service exam in 2007 and I never bothered to take it again.  Never mind; it’s too late now.  Their cut off for entering the Foreign Service is 59 1/2 and I’ve already passed that dubious benchmark.

Here is my boring laundry room

Here is my boring laundry room

I’m afraid I don’t have any hard liquor, but I do have some red wine that I bought from Wal-Mart.  It was a good deal, 3 bottles for 99 yuan, or less than $16. Now you know that’s a really good deal for red wine, but of course you can’t expect the wine will be very good.  That’s okay.  We can imagine it is and we can sip on it and enjoy some nice conversation.   I have three kinds: a Brise de France Cabernet Sauvignon, a Marques del Norte Rioja, and finally a Merlot Vin de France.  Which would you prefer?

I can also offer you a Tsingtao beer, but I only have one and it’s a small one.  Maybe next time we meet, you can tell me what you’d like, and I’ll make sure to have it around, and in larger quantities.

Today, in honor of your visit, I washed my prettiest sheets and hung them on the line to create a special atmosphere.  See how much nicer I’ve made it look just for you?

my decorated laundry room :-)

my decorated laundry room 🙂

The view through the windows isn’t very nice, as my laundry room looks out over a characterless courtyard behind a hotel.  We can observe the laundry hanging from the hotel guest balconies.  Maybe we can make up interesting stories about the owners’ lives by looking at their drying clothes.

the view from my laundry room window - think of the stories we could tell from that laundry

the view from my laundry room window – think of the stories we could tell from that laundry

I meant to buy a couple of houseplants to make it more homey, but now that it’s hot, I don’t imagine we’ll want to sit here for long.  We might even have to go inside to the air-conditioning as it’s so hot and humid out in this laundry room, which is really an outdoor room, like a patio, but not.

another angle to the view

another angle to the view

If my laundry room were on the other side of my apartment, and if it were a balcony, like most of the other apartments in our building, we’d be overlooking a pond.  Of course, if we were on the pond side, we’d have to talk VERY LOUDLY to be heard over the screech of the crickets and the gurgle-swallow-burp noise of the thousands of frogs.

the view on the other side

the view on the other side

I’m sorry that I only have one comfortable chair that I bought from Wal-Mart, the only place in town where you can buy some useful Western items.  I’ll give you the comfortable chair, although when I actually have real people join me, I’m often quite selfish and give them the hard chair.  The hard chairs are the only chairs provided for us at the university.  I apologize for their hardness, their total lack of comfort, but these are the chairs the Chinese use.  We better get used to it, I guess, if we’re going to be here in China.

Sorry, I'm in the comfy chair.  However, I'll glad give it up for you. :-)

Sorry, I’m in the comfy chair. However, I’ll glad give it up for you. 🙂

Anyway, welcome to my humble abode and cheers!  Clink!  I’d love to hear about your week.  Did you go anywhere interesting or do anything extraordinary?  Did you do anything at all, even something mundane?  Did you see any good TV shows, watch any movies, read any books?  Did you hear any good music or possibly make a playlist you’d like to share?  Did you have any deep conversations about how you always wanted to straighten your hair when you were younger?  Or did you maybe talk with someone about the meaning of civilization?  Did anyone reveal their deepest darkest secrets to you?  Did you have an altercation with anyone?  Did you have a romantic liaison?

I really want to hear about your week, but I’ll tell you a little something about mine first.  I returned from Shanghai on Monday by noon after a fun but partly rainy weekend.  On the plane, I finished the book I was reading, The Memory of Running, by Ron McLarty.  I could relate to it as it was a kind of quest for the protagonist, Hook, to find meaning, and to find himself, after growing up with a crazy sister.  I know about crazy. I grew up with it too.  I don’t want to do crazy any more; and I’ll avoid it at all costs.

Upon finishing that, I immediately embarked on reading The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian.  I’ll tell you more about it when I get further along.

I had to invigilate for midterm exams on Tuesday morning, which was deadly dull, as always.  The Foreign Service it’s not!  Then over the rest of the week, I marked 146 essays that were mostly poorly written by Chinese students who tend to say, “You should turn down the voice” (meaning turn down the sound of the music) or “You often listening the loud music late at night,” and “…so I often lose sleep and it let me can’t get up on time in the morning,” and “Is it convenient for you to stop the way of life?”  Or they have to explain a not-so-complicated bar chart that they make ultra complicated in their analysis.  I wished for someone to put me out of my misery, but no one came to my rescue.  It’s okay.  It’s over now, thank goodness.

welcome to my cocktail hour! cheers!!

welcome to my cocktail hour! cheers!!

I had dinner one night at a Korean restaurant and another night at the Red Sign Dumpling place which has suddenly gone upscale.  They used to have metal chairs and uncomfortable tables with a bar across the space where your knees should go, and they used to have no air-conditioning.  But they got new tables and cushioned chairs and they even have a brand spanking new air-conditioning unit!  It was like heaven eating dumplings, mashed potatoes, pork wrapped in wonton skins, and chicken with vegetables there.  Accompanied by a tall bottle of beer.  It hasn’t always been so pleasant to eat there, although the food has always been good.

Me at the Red Sign in February.  It's really gone upscale now.

Me at the Red Sign in February. It’s really gone upscale now.

I walked 3 miles several times this week and did sit-ups and edited a lot of pictures and wrote a lot of blog posts in between marking my exams.  As a matter of fact, I can only stand to do ten exams at a time and then I need an hour of another activity. Some of the hour-long filler activities included watching episodes of Homeland Season 3, Grey’s Anatomy Season 5, and the 21st episode of Scandal‘s Season 4, which just aired in the U.S.  I even began watching the first episode of Madam Secretary, which seems pretty good. By the way, do you know that here in China we can watch any TV series we want for free on Youku?

It’s been very hot and humid here in Nanning, and I am inclined not to go outside unless I have to.  At other times, we’ve had the sky let loose in torrents of rain.  It’s not very pleasant, and I find myself counting the days until I go back home to Virginia.

I find myself quite depressed here lately.  My income in China is very low, and it barely pays for the travels I’ve done.  I was hoping to go somewhere on my way home from China, but that’s out.  I want to take a CELTA course in Washington when I return home and I don’t want to work next semester, so I won’t have any more income coming in until I find another job in spring of 2016.  This is the worst-paid job I’ve ever had, about half what I made in Korea and much less than half what I made in Oman.  In both of those places, I also earned one month’s salary as a gratuity for completing my contract.  I don’t get that here.  Of course, Mike supports me and I have a home to return to, but by not having my own money, I forfeit my independence.  I don’t like that.

But that’s not the real reason I’m depressed.  I’m depressed because I don’t have a partner in crime here.  There is no one I connect with here who is adventurous or fun-loving.  In short, there is no Mario.  It’s often a lonely existence, and that’s why I waste my time with a lot of ridiculous activities like watching all these TV series, something I have rarely done before.  I usually am not a TV watcher at all.

I do have some friends here, but I find we have an unbalanced relationship.   I am a very open person.  Anyone who reads my blogs knows that.  I’ll always tell anyone anything they want to know. I’m an open book.  But I find it’s always me talking and never getting anything in return.  I feel like the friends I have know everything about me, and I know almost nothing about them.  They’re reticent, reserved, or unwilling to open up.  These are not the kinds of relationships I like, and I find myself getting annoyed at the one-way nature of them.

I’m tired of people here who have never lived or worked anywhere else but China, and who have blinders on.  Not knowing any better, they think China is the be all and end all of existence.  It isn’t.  I can guarantee you that.

It’s time for me to go home.  I hope I’ll survive my loneliness and my deteriorating attitude for two more months.

As you can see, it hasn’t been a very exciting week for me here in Nanning.  The most exciting thing in fact is this cocktail hour in my laundry room. Please come again. I promise I’ll give you the soft chair next time around.   But only if you’ll stay awhile.  And only if you’ll share a part of yourself.

This post was inspired by Robin’s Weekend Coffee Share over at Breezes at Dawn: If we were having coffee

Please, tell me something about your week in the comments.  I’d love to start a conversation. 🙂

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Categories: Asia, China, Chinese food, conversation, Dumplings, Guangxi University, laundry room cocktail hour, Nanning, Sino-Canadian International College (SCIC), Teaching English as a Second Language, Tsingtao Beer | Tags: , , , , , | 62 Comments

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62 thoughts on “cocktail hour in the laundry room

  1. Now that was something very different, Kat. Very amusing. Well I wouldn’t want to make you envious but here we can buy red wine for almost nothing in Portugal. Yesterday we paid 1,29 Euros ($1.44) for a bottle and it was pretty good too.,

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    • Thanks, Dai! I’m glad you liked it. I made myself laugh out loud with some of it, so it made me a little happy. I am very envious of your cheap red wine, especially if it’s pretty good. I’ll be right there, Dai. Will you invite me for a sip of wine? You know I love Portugal. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Cathy! Sorry to hear about your depression, and yes, I had sensed it. Even some of your photographs had taken on a darker hue! I am afraid you have confirmed my view, formed before I read your blog, that I really don’t have any burning desire to visit China at the moment. There has been quite a good programme on UK TV about China’s wild life and some of its tribes which will do me for now. Apart from the jellyfish stew that is! The cuisine seems so different and although as a vegetarian I might get on better than a meat eater I’m not sure I would want to subsist on eggs. Do they do beans, pulses, tofu etc? I know here in the UK Chinese food bears little remblance to the real thing.

    I was interested in your description of the temple on Mandalay Hill in Myanmar, because I found it somewhat garish. Each to their own, but the bright shiny tiles didn’t appeal and I was more interested in the covered walkway which snaked up the hill and was much used by pilgrims before the tarmacked road came into being. And I must admit to getting somewhat fed up with walking around barefoot on some fairly disgusting floors, although not in that temple which was spotless. I must have got through a treeful of wipes.

    Nothing of great interest has happened in my week apart from the General Election, which proved to be a big disappointment. I was going to stay up and listen to the results but it was obvious from the exit poll what the results was going to be so I went to bed. I am a volunteer driver and on Friday I lost my way and turned up late for an anxious old woman who was going for a hospital appointment. I promised her I would get her there on time but that I might have to put my foot down which I duly did. When I got her back home she congratulated me on my driving and asked if she could have me again so all was well that ended well!

    I’ll have a glass of the cab sav, as they say in New Zealand, please. I’m very partial to a glass of red and spend a fortune with the wine club I belong to, interspersed with wine boxes when I think I’ve spent too much. The wine bill, when abroad is nearly always bigger than the food one, although that’s partly because I don’t eat meat. Order a good fish and it balances out.

    Cheers
    Vee

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    • Hi Vee,
      Thanks for joining me for my cocktail hour! As you know already from my most current cocktail hour, I did find your comment a little curious, as I don’t see my moods (which are quite changeable) reflected in my photos. The weather here in China, especially Nanning, is usually very hazy, cloudy, rainy or generally gray and dreary; sadly I have no control over that and certainly don’t like it in my photos! I did read your more current comment though, so I understand where you’re coming from. You probably have been able to sense some depression though. As you know, I do miss my family quite a bit, and friendships here are not like they’ve been in other places I’ve lived, especially Oman where I had my dear friend Mario! There is simply no Mario here in China, and no one even remotely close, so that makes my life a little lonely.

      I have found this year in China to be an interesting one, just because it gives me an insight into how 1 in 4 people on this earth live. I am surprised by many things, and find that even though the Chinese are developing rapidly, they still seem to live somewhat of a hard life. That of course means that I’m also living somewhat of a hard life. I wish for once I could work in a prime spot, like somewhere in the Mediterranean. Now I think I could even stand being lonely in one of these countries: Greece, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, or Turkey!

      It’s tough if you’re a vegetarian in China as they love their meat. I do survive basically on vegetables that I cook myself, some pork dumplings, which I do like, and eggs and tofu. I rarely see any kind of beans like what we eat in Western countries. Actually, in the US, Chinese food is different than what I’ve found here too; I prefer the Westernized version because at least it’s prepared to our tastes!!

      I found the kitschy and what you call garish temples in Myanmar quite interesting because I’d never seen anything like them before. They were kind of fun. I didn’t much care for walking through the monkey poop though! I have a flip-flop story which I’ll tell in future posts; it’s a pretty funny story.

      I’m sorry you were disappointed in the General Election. I take it you were for Labour? Although, I must confess I know nothing about British politics.

      That’s good you got your elderly lady to her appointment on time and that she was pleased enough to ask for you again! Funny, maybe she liked the excitement of you putting your foot to the floor!! 🙂

      I’m glad to find a fellow red wine drinker! I love Cab Sav too, but it’s really hard to find good wine at all here in China. I wish I was back in Spain and Portugal where I loved the wine. When I return home to the U.S., I know exactly where to go for good red wine.

      Thanks for your long and thoughtful comment! I’m so glad you dropped by and I hope you’ll come again. 🙂 xxx

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  3. Oh Kat! I can relate to your current plight, but only from a month in Venice, not a year on Nanning. And, people who don’t open up? I totally get that, too. How can we be friends with people who don’t share their thoughts, dreams, fears? We would have a fine time in your ‘Spa Room’ (heat factor of your laundry room) drinking wine and you telling me all about your time in Shanghai! (Since I was just there and am familiar.) we could enjoy Mother’s Day as mothers whose children are grown.
    What was my week like? Well, I finally bought a patio set, cheap, and it looks quite cute in its red resplendent color and pagoda shaped umbrella. Plus, now that I have seen China first hand, and have Chinese antiquities thanks to my family’s time there so long ago, I put some bamboo plants on the deck, red impatiens, and am going with an Oriental garden look. Join me in Seattle for a glass of wine or 3! Cin Cin! ;.) ~Vivian
    P.S. Very clever post your wrote! Made me chuckle.

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    • Hi Vivian, Thanks for dropping by for cocktails. Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. I still need to get over to your blog to compare notes on Shanghai. I will get there soon, I hope!! I’m surprised you can relate to my current plight from a month in Venice. I would give anything to live in Venice!!

      As for people who don’t open up, I find it really hard to have any kind of long-lasting meaningful relationship with them. I feel like I expose myself totally and they’re like a brick wall. I would love to sit in my steamy laundry room (well, maybe we’d have to go inside into the air-conditioning), and share stories of Shanghai and grown children with you. Maybe someday that will happen, but I hope it will be in a nicer place than this!

      As for Mother’s Day, it didn’t much feel like it as my children didn’t send me any messages or anything until I was already asleep. In their part of the world, it was still Mother’s Day, but it was over for me. I felt a little saddened by that, but was happy to wake up Monday morning and find messages from all of them.

      Congratulations on your new patio set. It sounds very cute, and very Chinese with its “pagoda-shaped umbrella!” Oh, I would much rather join you on your cute Oriental patio than to sit in my ugly steamy laundry room. How about if I come to your house instead? It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Seattle, but I love it there and would love an excuse to visit!

      I’m glad my post made you chuckle. I was laughing out loud at some of its ridiculousness! 🙂

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      • Oh the stories I could tell… Venice is not all it is cracked up to be, especially when it is freezing cold in February. But, on the other hand, it is a spectacularly and strangely beautiful place.
        I am still wanting to finish the Shanghai Blogs but life keeps getting in the way. Plus I have a synopsis and 10 page chapter to edit before sending it on to a mentor they have assigned me for the writer’s conference I will attend in Denver at the end of June. Yikes, it’s May 20th and due the 31st. Stress!
        Just think, you’ll be back in the boring U.S. soon and you can plan your next escape…um…holiday…um…vacation…oh!…ADVENTURE!
        Just let me know when you want to visit me in Seattle (I am actually 12 miles north in Edmonds…with a ferry dock!). Rick Steve’s lives here, too. As a traveler, you may have heard of him. (While I have learned a lot from the lectures Steves’ organization has taught me, I do wish it was Anthony Bourdain who lived here! His CNN show on Scotland recently was awesome.)

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      • Well, I’ve never been to Venice, Vivian, so I wouldn’t know. But I do know it seems very romantic. Have you seen the Italian movie “Bread and Tulips?” It’s one of my favorite movies of all time and takes place in Venice.

        Very exciting about your book and the writer’s conference. What is your book about?

        I do know Rick Steves and love him, also Anthony Bourdain. I haven’t seen his show on Scotland but hope I can. I’ve been to the Pacific Northwest and Seattle, as I lived in Coeur d’Alene from 1980-1984. My daughter was born there. I hope I can get out that way one day and we can meet. 🙂

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  4. classy cocktail lounge! i would be there in a minute to swap stories with you! we’d be imagining all sorts of fun stories about the neighbors, especially the little old lady that’s actually a spy.

    sometimes life places us where we stare soberly at our surroundings and wonder how in the world did we get here.. but we’re learning lessons or teaching lessons, some we may never know the impact….

    i think i need to boot this chikungunya out of my system before i soar over on the magic carpet. as for my day, it’s been one of being flat on my back as most every muscle in my body aches…this is a weird virus!

    stay well and thanks for hosting the cocktail hour! the wine wasn’t that bad either! z

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    • Haha, Lisa, I’m glad someone thinks it’s a classy cocktail lounge. It cracks me up, but I really have been using it as my place for cocktails, although in the last week, it’s become much too hot and I’ve been huddled indoors under the air-conditioning. Yes, I think some of the old ladies here may be spies, but I don’t know. They’d have a hard time knowing what was going on though as it’s highly unlikely they speak any English. But we can make up stories about them for sure.

      I know that in these last 10 years, I’ve really been wondering how on earth I got here. Luckily, I can go back home to my family, and everything is familiar and comfortable. It is a great adventure though, to be living in these foreign and exotic worlds and trying to soak in some understanding of where other people are coming from.

      It’s taken me a while to respond, so I really hope by now you’ve gotten rid of that chikungunya. That really knocked the wind out of you, didn’t it? I hope next week, you’ll feel better and maybe you can fly on over on your magic carpet. 🙂 Take care and be well. xxx

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      • well the third blood test came back dengue.. so i’ve had it in the past and am recovering from the 2nd case. it’s been a long process of healing, and there’s a long road ahead before i’ve recovered my energy.

        one day at a time – thanks!

        enjoy your cocktail terrace! you’re definitely living your destiny even if at times you’re wondering ‘how did i get myself in this chapter?’!!!

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      • I’m sorry about your dengue, Lisa. Are you feeling better now? I hope so!

        Yes, I definitely wonder how I got myself in this chapter!! 🙂

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      • si i am better and enjoyed your post this morning though most imaged didn’t load… 😦

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      • Glad to know you’re better, Lisa! Hallelujah! I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and I’m glad the images loaded for you later. I have this problem all the time here in China as WordPress is blocked and I have to use a VPN, making things very slow!!

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      • i’m impressed that you’re able to upload so many amazing images! at least you have lots of projects to occupy your time!

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  5. sometimes life places us where we stare soberly at our surroundings and wonder how in the world did we get here.. but we’re learning lessons or teaching lessons, some we may never know the impact….

    i think i need to boot this chikungunya out of my system before i soar over on the magic carpet. as for my day, it’s been one of being flat on my back as most every muscle in my body aches…this is a weird virus!

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    • Hi Lisa
      Really sorry to hear you’ve had dengue fever. I know how awful it is. My son was traveling around Mexico at the beginning of the year and got infected with dengue fever. He was still suffering with the itchy stage when he came home. Thin and weak.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve been known to bring a drink down to the laundry room a time or two and your’s has a much nicer view… I think we’d get along quite well. 🙂

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  7. Dear Kat – Like Vee above, I also sensed your growing frustration as you were traveling, getting sick, being cold, and getting homesick. It’s not much longer now – thankfully – and you’ll be home. I’ll be posting more pictures from Ginter (I went on Friday) and that will help you too. My sister has had the same issue with making friends in Minnesota – she’s there now for 30+ years – but people just didn’t want to be friends. It’s gotten easier, but she had to really hang in there.

    I saw my daughter several weeks ago, so I did not go back to Atlanta for this weekend. The husband and I had a nice lunch at Firebirds (Cheesecake Factory was way way too busy) and are not having a quiet afternoon at home. I took a short nap, went to AmFam to swim, and am now puttering on the computer.

    I read Jon Acuff’s book, “Do Over” recently and really liked it. I’m now reading this one and it’s great!

    http://www.brainpickings.org/2015/05/05/the-crossroads-of-should-and-must-elle-luna/

    The mornings have been nice this week. I’m starting my day out on the deck until about noon, at which time it’s hot and the sun is on my chair. I’m really enjoying it though. That was always my complaint about work was that on nice days, I was inside behind a computer.

    I did get a job offer last week, but we had to pay our own relocation. While it was in Atlanta near our daughter, we finally decided we didn’t want that financial hit. I have one more opportunity here in town that I’m waiting on. If I don’t get it, I’m retiring and moving on to my creative ventures instead.

    I hope this helps cheer you up! I can’t wait to meet you this summer.

    Nancy

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    • Hi Nancy. Thanks for dropping by for cocktails. It’s so nice to have you!! I really like that you called me “Kat.” My friend Dai from Nepal calls me that, and I never asked him to but I like it a lot. Especially, I think it’s funny as my name is Cathy with a “C,” but he calls me Kat with a “K.” I do feel like I’ve been sick a lot here in China, and it’s always difficult to travel anywhere here, but I feel stronger and more confident that I’ve managed to survive being sick a lot plus figuring out how to travel. I still usually need the help of my Chinese students, but they’re always willing to help, which makes things not quite so daunting.

      I need to hop over to yours to see your pictures of Ginter. When I get home, I will be coming to Richmond and we must meet! My son is also going to be attending VCU in the fall and will be moving to Richmond as well, so now two of my children will be living there. You’re right, it isn’t long now, less than 2 months. My semester is winding down and I need to start shipping things home soon.

      I feel for your sister. I seem to have trouble making friends under any circumstance, but it’s hard when you keep moving to new places and have to start over again. I do often find it’s easier to make friends with fellow expats, but that hasn’t been the case here in China.

      How old is your daughter in Atlanta? I’m glad you had a nice lunch at Firebirds. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten there. Sarah works at Joe’s Inn, and she really knows the restaurant scene in Richmond, so she’s always taking me to unique restaurants. I’m supposed to Skype with her tonight. I hope she remembers!! Naps on Sunday afternoon are always nice and a swim sounds awfully inviting right now with the heat we’re having in Nanning.

      The book you’re reading now sounds really interesting; I’m putting it and the other book you mention on my Goodreads list. I look forward to checking them out when I get home.

      Spending every day until noon on the deck sound marvelous. I bet the weather is great for that right now, but as Virginia summer will soon be upon you, I don’t imagine you can do that for long.

      Congratulations on your job offer, even though you didn’t take it. Did you hear on the other one? What kind of work do you do? I say move on to the creative ventures… Much more fun!!

      Thanks so much for the visit, and you did cheer me up! Can’t wait to meet you before long. 🙂

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      • Thanks for the long note back! I’m glad you enjoyed the visit.

        I do corporate tax work. I was employed by MeadWestvaco in downtown until I was laid off last fall. I specifically do state income taxes. There’s a low demand for that kind of work, but there’s also a low supply. When employers need me, they really need me.

        My daughter is 33. When she got married in 2013, it was a surprise. She’d made her peace about being single and the next time out was the guy she ended up marrying!

        I still haven’t heard about the job here in Richmond. If they say no, I’m moving on!

        I called you Kat because I thought that’s what Mike called you. I thought it was the nickname you used 🙂

        Nancy

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      • Oh, good to know what kind of work you do, Nancy. Oh well, if you don’t get the job, I’m sure you won’t be heartbroken, as it will allow you do pursue your more creative endeavors.

        Your daughter is only 2 years older than mine. Mine would love to find someone special to have in her life, but so far she hasn’t found anyone. I’m hoping one day, she’ll surprisingly find the right one. She really wants to, that’s for sure.

        Mike just calls me Cathy, or honey or nothing. No one has ever called me Kat except for Dai, and I really like it. My name isn’t Catherine, it’s just Cathy, which is already a nickname, so no one has ever given me a nickname except my old high school friends, who all call me Bird (because my maiden name is Birdsong). 🙂

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  8. I’m with you Cathy but I will BYO I have just opened a Pinot Grigio, I’m a white wine person, not much of a connoisseur though, I look for award labels and cheap… This one was $10 which I guess is pricey by Chinese standards, but bottom shelf over here.. Love your cheerful and colourful sheets certainly add a bit of atmosphere. My week??? Well decided the garden needed a BIG tidy up after being a bit neglected for the past 2-3 months. So we set too with gusto and secateurs and shovel and mattock to the fore we went for it. All those rampant Heliconias had to come out, much easier said than done, next doors invading tree branches, gone. Mulching machine working over time, so much back log of mulch now I don’t know what to do with it. Then disaster struck… Jack tripped over a protruding metal stake (that he had pulled out and left in the way!!!) He was feeling very sore and sorry for himself. But quick trip to Docs this morning to confirm no lasting damage, but I have banned him from the garden. Most of the hard jobs have now been done so just pottering now. Planted some lettuce, silver beet, rocket and coriander seedlings and am willing them to grow quickly…
    Good friends are certainly worth their weight in gold. Not much longer and you will be back among your family and friends. Chin up….

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    • Great, Pauline. I’m glad you’re bringing some Pinot Grigio to add to the mix; I’ll be happy to share a glass of that myself! I used to like white wine, and then I was only a red wine person, and now I’m back to drinking both again. My taste buds seems to change with the seasons, and I never know what I’ll like from one period to another. Yes, your white wine is quite expensive by Chinese standards, but not for Western standards. Now I’ve taken down those lavender sheets, so I’m afraid my next cocktail hour will be very drab indeed.

      Oh dear, all that work in the garden really sounds tiring. You must like gardening, right? I’m not a big fan of all that hard labor myself. I’m sorry about Jack’s accident. Are you sure he didn’t do it on purpose to get out of the work? It sounds like something I might do myself! 🙂 All the foodstuff you planted sounds wonderful, especially the beetroot and the coriander, two of my favorites.

      You’re right, it won’t be long now before I’m on my way home. I will miss some things here, as I always do in every place I’ve lived, but I am looking forward to getting home, at least until I get wanderlust again. 🙂

      Tell Jack to take care of himself, and I hope your goodies grow quickly so you can enjoy some nice treats. xxx

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      • Thank you for the lovely long reply Cathy. Jack is fully recovered now, but I’ve banned him from the garden. Any way I have got most of the hard pruning done now, I always have lots to do when I get back from time travelling. I love gardening it is one of my passions so I do not look on it as hard work, though at times it is. It is also good exercise…

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      • I’m glad you enjoy gardening, Pauline. It is good exercise and I’m sure very rewarding. I have never enjoyed it in Virginia as the summers are so hot and humid, and it’s very unpleasant to be doing all that work out in the heat, with mosquitoes swarming and sweat pouring off of you. I wonder if Jack is happy or sad to be banned? I’m glad he’s recovered!

        Like

      • Actually that is exactly the type of climate we have here. So I LOVE gardening in the autumn/winter months and do all the hard yards ie pruning, digging, planting then, but only like light gardening in the summer, when I wait till after the sun has gone down then smother myself in repellent!!!!

        Like

      • It’s so much nicer to be outside gardening in fall and winter, Pauline. It sounds like you’ve got your gardening routine down pat. 🙂

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      • Just about, we have very good friends rent upstairs and they are gardeners and enjoy looking after things, but we don’t expect them to do any heavy work, as long as they water and pull the occasional weed. I enjoy getting stuck in when I get back from extended trips.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. How much longer till you go home Cathy? Did you ever do any more work on your novel? I’d love to know how the story turned out.

    Like

    • Hi Carol, I leave here before July 18, but I’m not sure yet of the exact date. My visa expires on that date, so I need to be out of here by then. My novel has been revised twice now, and I have a colleague here reading it. He’s been very encouraging and can’t believe I’ve been sitting on it for over 10 years!! It is crazy I know, but it did need work and I’m much happier with it now. I’ll work on sending it out once I return home. I have several plans for the fall, getting that out and taking a CELTA course in Washington. Then I may be looking to go abroad again for the spring, unless something just drops in my lap in Virginia, which is highly unlikely. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, that will come up fast enough now. I’m pleased to hear you’re working on your novel again, I think it is well worth the effort. I’ll be looking forward to hearing what happens next for you.

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      • Well, I wouldn’t say I’m actually working on my novel right now, Carol. I’m just sharing it with a colleague; I’m also reading his and we’re giving each other feedback. Most of the feedback in both directions has been very positive, as he’s a good writer and I love his novel, and he seems to love mine. His is more autobiographical, and since it takes place here in China, I know many of his characters.

        I’ll be looking forward to hearing what happens next for me too. 🙂 I’m hoping to take an intensive CELTA course in Washington this fall; then I may be looking to go abroad again for spring semester. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Hopefully your two months will pass quickly, although they often do not when you want them to. Sometimes TV shows are a good escape mechanism – I have watched Madame Secretary this season and enjoyed it. My Sunday night shows are now over for this season, which means I must find some other mindless activity for that time.

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    • The two months seem to be going quickly now, Carol. Especially as I now have plans for the next three weekends; when I’m traveling, the time speeds by. I do like all my TV shows now; they make some awfully good series these days.

      I’m certainly looking forward to getting home, but I know myself all too well, and I have no idea how long it will be before I have wanderlust again. 🙂 Did you find another show for your Sunday nights?

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      • I’ll watch netflix’s Grace and Frankie ( or is it the other way around?) but that’s only 13 one-half hour episodes. There are some others I’ll probably investigate on Netflix and Hulu, and I have some movies on my watchlists, not to mention the many books in my Kindle and Nook apps, Cathy.

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      • I found Grace and Frankie on IMDB and I’ve put it on my list, Carol. I can’t see Netflix here because I have to go through a VPN and all that is too slow. But I’ll check it out when I get home! I have a lot of books too, so plenty to read, but usually once I start reading, I fall asleep, especially when I’m just getting into a novel!

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  11. Hi Cathy,
    Love how you could transform your laundry room into a place for cocktails. I’d love to join you there.

    I’m sorry to hear you’re so lonely. I remember that your adventures in Oman were always with Mario and wondered how you were feeling having to spend so much time eating out, and traveling by yourself. As I have met you personally, I can say with authority that you’re a friendly, open person, its so easy to like you and to be instant friends, and ready to go on adventures with you (and I look forward to doing that!). I can’t imagine what kind of people are living over there. I agree with Vee Martin. You’ve confirmed my opinion – formed before you went to Nanning – that I really don’t have any burning desire to visit China at the moment.

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    • Hi Rosie, Thanks for joining in my cocktail hour, though I won’t lie, it really isn’t a nice place no matter how much I like to imagine it is! Especially in this heat; I’m now moving indoors, but I do like the idea of sitting partially outside, at least for a bit.

      I do feel really lonely especially on weekends. During the weekdays, I have my students, and I also often have dinner or lunch with colleagues. But the weekends are very lonely indeed, as most people here work several jobs on weekends, or they have significant others, or they’ve been in China so long they have no desire for adventure or travel. Granted, I’m getting to feel that way myself as travel in China isn’t easy. It isn’t like Oman, where I could just hop in my car with Mario and drive off easily into the mountains!

      I’m glad I came to China and spent my time here; it enabled me to see how 1/4 of the world’s people live. It wouldn’t be a life I’d choose though, and thus one year is plenty. I’m looking forward to seeing where fate leads me next. You know me, I’m always ready for the next adventure.

      Thanks for your kind words about me, Rosie. You say some incredibly nice things, but I can be temperamental and ultra-sensitive, so sometimes I’m hard to deal with. I know that. I do love it when I find a fellow adventurer, and a Mario is hard to come by. I miss him dearly and I think it would be hard for me to find anyone who could come close to matching him. We had such a great rapport, a similar sense of humor, a love of photography, adventure, and wine and cheese! Maybe he’s spoiled me and now my sights are forever going to be too high. I do often think of returning to Oman because though many things were a hardship, I was really content with my free-time activities there. And my friendships as well. 🙂

      Take care, Rosie. I hope all is well with you and your creative endeavors. Let me know what you’re up to these days. xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Happy to hear that you’re pleased you came to China. I don’t comment every time but I have enjoyed traveling with you.

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      • Thanks, Rosie. I’m glad to know you’ve been coming along with me. It’s not much longer now, but I do have a couple of more trips coming up before I leave. 🙂

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  12. Hang in there. China is a place I wouldn’t mind visiting – sometime, maybe. But constant crowds would drive me mad. I’m also a very social person, and would need a partner in crime myself to feel complete, especially with such large language and cultural barriers. When I was in my early twenties I moved to the UK to work. It wasn’t such a radical stretch from Canada’s western ways, and everyone spoke English. I still struggled with homesickness some days, not having a close friend or family member just around the corner – and that was long before email and the internet! (And I missed pets!) Fortunately I met my husband there, and have a couple of friendships that have survived the 25 year separation.

    One of my bosses in the UK had lived and taught in China for a while and said that they’ve lived under such oppression and fear that feelings and personal details were not aired. He also said that the Chinese were brilliant at memorizing details, facts and history, but when he asked them to ‘think’ (analyze), it was a challenge because they were so used to doing things the way they were told. I’m sensing that’s changed over the years – particularly in those brilliant minds that have left China.

    Unfortunately blinkered existence exists everywhere. I listen to Canadians bitch and whine about things they take for granted and my standard response has become, ‘why don’t you leave and go live somewhere that doesn’t have public healthcare, a stable economy, abundant supplies of food, a virtually uncorrupt police force, and democracy. See how long you survive’. The worst comes from those who haven’t traveled.

    You have Wal-Mart wine (and I had a couple of really nice $4 bottles in Maui a few years ago), and tv. If you haven’t seen it, watch Suits as well. (Madam Secretary is excellent.) I hope you find another posting you love, and that your course goes well.

    I’ll leave you with some happy spring flowers as cheerful thoughts. I went out and shot photos for fun this week. (OK – shooting photos is both my job, and my fun, but there’s a difference between shooting events, and just going out and getting some fresh air with a camera in hand.)

    http://www.photoswithfinesse.com/new-beginnings-spring-flowers-at-reader-rock-garden/

    Suzan

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    • Suzan, thanks for your nice reply and thanks for joining me for cocktail hour. The constant crowds in China do drive me crazy, especially having worked in such a sparsely populated country like Oman for two years.

      It’s good when you went to England that you met your husband and had someone to share things with. I just need a friend, and in Oman, Mario was that friend. It’s tough to find a person like him anywhere.

      Your friend’s analysis of the Chinese is right. I find my students are great at memorizing, but not at analyzing. It’s very difficult to get them to think outside the box. Also, they’re very sheltered.

      Yes, the people wearing the worst blinders are those who haven’t traveled. I agree with that wholeheartedly.

      Thanks for recommending Suits. Someone else recommended that as well, so I’ll have to see if I can find it on Youku. I have to finish Homeland before I add another show first, but I’m nearing the end of that.

      Thanks so much for the cheery spring flowers. I really needed them to brighten my day. 🙂 xxx

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  13. The first part of your post, inviting me to join you in the laundry room, made me laugh! I think I’d like a glass of the Merlot please, but it was a really hard to choice to make as those would be my top three choices for wine too. The part of your post about being ready to go home is poignant. It must be marvellous to be experiencing a different country, but to be doing it mostly on your own isn’t much fun. I think it has highlighted for me just how very very different some cultures are. Hopefully when you are back home you will look back on your time in China and be glad that you did it.

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    • I’m glad you found the first part of my laundry room post funny, Elaine. It made me laugh out loud when I was writing it. I had a fun time with that one. A glass of Merlot coming right up. Cheers!!

      I don’t regret coming to China, but I just wish I had found one good friend who liked to travel and was adventurous. Most people here are very staid and solid and not at all adventurous. They’ve also been in China for many years and have “been there, done that.” As it’s been my first and only year, I’ve been anxious to squeeze in as much as I could. When I was in Oman, Mario and I had a LOT of adventures together. We shared a love of photography, exploration and we had a similar sense of humor. It’s not often you find someone in life like that.

      Thanks for joining me for cocktail hour. Hope to see you again. 🙂

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  14. I love your cocktail spot and would love to join you, Cathy. I’ll have a glass of the Cab, thank you. Well my week has been busy catching up with mowing the grass yet again yesterday after just after mowing it 4 days ago and putting out more plants in the large pots on the patio and today washing my car. My son graduated from University with a BS in Business Marketing so we had a busy weekend.
    I read several books about folks living and teaching in China and it seems such an adventure.
    I meditate and spend a lot of time on my own in between my jobs. I work as a CRNA doing locus and
    I write poetry and take photos. In between I am clearing out the accumulated unnecessary stuff from my home.
    My meditations consist of going within, following the breath to the heart and inviting the Light in. It is peaceful and I have been doing this for a few years. There is a link here that you may find useful. http://www.saimaa.com/en/blog/entry/work-with-spiritual-light
    In the meantime keep writing. I so enjoy your writing and photographs. I am looking forward to reading about your time in Oman and all the other places.

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    • Thanks for joining me, Sue! A glass of Cab coming up. Wow, it sounds like you’ve been very busy. I guess it’s that time of year back home for yard work and spring cleaning. I bet you were really proud of your son for his graduation. Congratulations to him!

      I’d really love to know the names of those books about people living and teaching in China. I’m trying to decide where to try to go next, whether to teach English or work as a volunteer of some kind. I’d really love to read those books you read.

      I think it’s great you do a lot of meditation and write poetry and practice your photography. It sounds like you keep very busy, but in a good peaceful way. I go through spurts of being more meditative and contemplative, and then my busy mind takes over.

      Thanks so much for sending this link. I’ll definitely check into it soon. I’d love to find some inner peace.

      I’m glad you enjoy my writing and photos. I really need to get busy on a new novel. I have so much to write about really. I have one novel I finished about 10 years ago, and then revised twice over the last several years. I have a friend here in China reading it and he is very encouraging. He said he can’t believe I’ve been sitting on it for over 10 years. That always helps to hear that.

      Oman was a great adventure, and I really do seriously consider going back there eventually. I can’t wait too long if I do because I’m not getting any younger. 🙂

      Take care and hope to see you for cocktail hour next week. 🙂

      Like

    • Sue, I don’t know what’s happening but when I click on your link it takes me to English World News.

      Like

  15. Cocktail hour in the laundry room! There’s always our imagination if life gets too boring 🙂 You are almost finished with your tour of duty (or tour de force?) in China. I can’t even imagine having to read and grade so many exam papers written in bad English. Are there at least a few gems in there?

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    • I guess you have to use your imagination when you’re living in circumstances such as mine, Annette, otherwise you’d go bonkers!! Yes, winding down now on my tour of duty. Thank goodness my midterm marking is over, but now the final papers will be looming before long. Once done with those, I’m out of here. There are sometimes a few gems, but usually there isn’t much thinking outside the box. It’s usually the same old stuff over and over!! Thanks for dropping by for cocktails, even though I think you don’t drink… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Look at all the lovely responses you got to this, Cathy! I wish I’d been able to come and be your partner in crime for a little while (mine’s Cab Sauv, but you know I’m not fussy -whatever you have left 🙂 ). But 2 weeks in the scheme of things wouldn’t make much difference, would it? Thank God for your imagination, Cathy. 🙂
    Crowds/dross weather/unimaginative people… it’s all part of life’s rich pattern? You have had some incredible experiences, and more to come I’m sure (before that 60th jamboree?) The Chinese have my sympathy over the language issues- I have enough struggles with Polish, and wouldn’t know where to start with a pictorial language like theirs. We’re just very different in the west, and maybe very lucky to be so. Somewhere in the US there may be a Chinese person doing what you’re doing in China? By the way- what is the CELTA you mention? Travel association?
    The clock’s ticking here this morning. I need to find a little more Myanmar before it’s time to start Sunday lunch and boring stuff. Try not to be depressed, hon. Just one life, huh? You’re filling it as best you can, and much better than many 🙂 )
    On a personal note, Cathy, my Lisa is having big issues with depression again, and shutting me out. I could rage and cry but it won’t help.

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    • Oh Jo, I know I got a lot of wonderful responses to this. It was so much fun to read them and now I need to take the time to respond to them all. So many things to do and so little time and energy. I really appreciated every comment and learning a bit about everyone!

      The language issue is a big one, both English to Chinese and Chinese to English. It’s such a leap for us to learn each others’ languages! We all struggle so mightily for understanding. As for the CELTA, it’s a teaching credential for ESL teachers that is quite extensive. Right now I have an online 120-hour TEFL certificate, not accepted by many places. They want the in-classroom, Cambridge University program of CELTA. It would be a nice credential to add to my resume, so I hope to complete the course this fall in Washington.

      I’m sorry to hear about Lisa, Jo. It’s so hard when someone you love, especially one of your children, cuts you out, and when you feel so helpless. We’re having some of those same struggles with Adam right now. I’m really sorry, Jo. You’re right, raging and crying won’t help the situation, but it might help relieve some of your stress about it. Do it in a closed room, away from everyone. Love and hugs to you. xxx

      Like

  17. I like your cocktail hour. Much more grown-up than the coffee chats, or maybe I just think that way because I surely would enjoy a glass of wine or even a beer right now. Thank you. And one of the hard chairs is fine for me. I might even sit on the floor because sometimes I find that more comfortable than a chair. Thank you for the link. I probably should have said that first. I meant to come around earlier in the week, but I’ve spent most of my time napping this week.

    The dumplings at the Red Sign Dumpling place look amazing. We don’t have good dumplings here, or if we do, I haven’t found them yet. It seems like most Americans in these small town areas prefer fried dumplings, and I like mine steamed.

    The sheet you put up is very pretty, and really does brighten up the laundry room. My week has been lousy, to be honest, because I’ve been sick with the flu, and I am weary of being sick and tired. Hopefully once this clears up, I’ll be finished with illness for a long time.

    I do hope your remaining time in China doesn’t drag too much, and that you find something exciting and fun to do before you come back to the States.

    Like

    • Thanks, Robin. I’m glad you like my cocktail hour, despite it being in such a pathetic location! I have plenty of wine and I even picked up a couple of beers, so you can have whichever you prefer.
      Don’t worry about when you can drop by my blog; I for one certainly understand the demands on time, and sometimes it takes me a very long time to finally be able to respond to comments and read other blogs.
      I think it’s a good thing you’ve been napping a lot; your body needs the rest to recover from that horrid flu. I’m so sorry you’ve been so sick.
      Next time at the cocktail hour, I should bring along some dumplings from Red Sign. Isn’t it funny we just call it the red sign because it has a red sign. Of course we have no idea what the sign says. 🙂 You would love the dumplings from here, Robin; they are steamed and really delicious.
      Please get well soon. xxx

      Like

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