cocktail hour in the laundry room (or maybe we’ll sit inside where it’s cool!) :-)

Sunday evening, wine o’clock: If you dropped by for cocktails this evening, I’d be so pleased to see you that I’d usher you right past my laundry room and into my icy air-conditioned living room.  It’s so hot, humid and miserable outdoors that your clothes and body would probably be drenched in sweat, so you’d breathe a sigh of relief that I’m not making you swelter in my laundry room.  Then I’d offer you either a cold Budweiser, as that’s all I have this week, or a glass of Chile Cabernet Sauvignon – Valle Central 2013.  I forgot to chill it though, as I can never get used to chilled red wine, so it might be a little warm.  We can always add an ice-cube or two, but I don’t know if you’d feel safe with it as we don’t drink water from the faucet in China.  You might get sick, and I wouldn’t want to be responsible for that.

lush lotus

lush lotus

Have a seat in my comfortable chair and tell me about your week.  It’s June, so summer is upon us. Hooray!  Do you have any travel plans over the summer?  Are you starting to visit farmer’s markets and getting some fresh produce?  Have you been to any outdoor concerts?  Do you have some time off from work?  How about family visits?  Do you have grandchildren or parents or children or friends coming to visit?  Will you go to the beach or a pool for a swim any time soon?  Will you be having a barbecue?  If so, what will you make?  Will you invite me? 🙂  I sure would like some grilled corn on the cob (hint-hint!).

perky lotus

perky lotus

I took a short walk around one of our lotus ponds on the campus this afternoon.  It’s nice to have fresh flowers for a cocktail hour, don’t you think?  I couldn’t stay out long because sweat kept dripping into my eyes, I was getting eaten alive by mosquitos, and my camera lens kept fogging over. I think I’m late in the game in photographing the flowers. I should have done it earlier when they were at their peak.  Now they seem to be fading a bit.  I guess their late stage goes hand in hand with my final days here in China.

Lotus pond at Guangxi University

Lotus pond at Guangxi University

I’ve had a busy couple of weeks, so I’m sorry I’ve missed hosting a few cocktail hours.  Don’t worry; I didn’t have one and not invite you.  You’d always be invited, and very welcome.

Two weekends ago, I went with my friend Erica to Yangshuo.  She has never traveled anywhere during her year in Nanning, although she’s been in China for seven years and has traveled prior to this year. We had to squeeze in a lot during a short time, so it felt a little rushed, but we still managed to do shortened versions of three of the four things I did in Yangshuo during the 4-day National holiday in October.  It was a lot of fun, although we got rained on a few times.

Lotus flower

Lotus flower

It’s unbelievably damp in Nanning.  I’m so tired of feeling hot and wet all the time.  I know, that doesn’t sound good, but that’s how I feel.  I get all showered and blow-dry my hair and put on clean clothes in the morning, only to walk out my door and immediately become drenched in either sweat or rain.  I really hate this weather in the south of China; it’s one of the biggest reasons I look forward to my escape on July 15. I wish for once I could work abroad in a nice climate, such as somewhere in Europe on the Mediterranean. Or even a northern country, where I’d have to stay bundled up all the time.

Umbrellas in the hallway of the 9th floor of the Experimental Building - this is Nanning :-)

Umbrellas in the hallway of the 9th floor of the Experimental Building – this is Nanning 🙂

Escape is in the cards. It’s visible on the horizon.  I bought a ticket for July 15 from Nanning directly to Seoul on Korean Air and then on to L.A. where I will visit my sister in Reseda for about a week on my way home.  A week after I bought that ticket, Korean Air canceled that flight, so I had to search for a new flight. Now I will fly to Beijing, then to Vancouver, then to L.A.  The scary part is that I only have a 1 1/2 hour layover in Vancouver, and I already know I will probably miss the connection.  Planes are notoriously late taking off from airports in China, so I’m preparing myself already.  At least it will be Air Canada’s problem if I miss the connection, because both flights, from Beijing and from Vancouver, are with Air Canada.

Lotus blossoms

Lotus blossoms

Yes, my time in China is winding down.  Because my departure is imminent, I dropped out of my Chinese class.  This was long overdue.  Our teacher, Miss Hao, kept telling me I was very clever, because I was able to figure out sentences and vocabulary meanings in class.  The problem was that when I left the class, I never studied.  I could be a clever person if I actually applied myself. 🙂  Also, the other two people remaining in the class, Gavin and Reed, are very advanced, and frankly, I was holding them up.  So I made a quiet and uneventful departure.  However, Miss Hao was keen on inviting our class to her house for dinner, so we went on Wednesday night, June 3.

Miss Hao lives on the 18th floor of a new building on the university campus; during many of our Chinese classes, she was busy on her phone talking to contractors and decorators about fixing up her house.  It’s a lovely sprawling apartment with great views over the university campus.  However, she doesn’t have air conditioning.  It wasn’t that she hadn’t turned it on; she decided not to have it built into the house at all.  I can’t imagine no air-conditioning in Nanning’s heat and humidity, but I did have the (ahem) pleasure of enjoying (i.e. suffering through) the heat for this one evening.

She had originally promised us we would get to help her make dumplings, which none of us were thrilled about because we’re all pathetic at making them and don’t enjoy the process at all.  But we prepared ourselves, only to find, voila (!), she’d already made them when we arrived.  The lack of air-conditioning was something I was prepared for however, simply because I know the Chinese mentality.  I predicted she wouldn’t have it and I was right.

Left to right: Reed, Gavin, unknown Chinese friend of Miss Hao, Miss Hao

Left to right: Reed, Gavin, unknown Chinese friend of Miss Hao, Miss Hao

We did have a lovely evening there nonetheless, and I loved the dumplings.  Dumplings are one of my favorite things to eat in China, and these were especially good. Gavin and I brought our own beer, and I’m glad we did because Miss Hao didn’t have any.  She did bring out a refrigerated bottle of red wine partway through the dinner, however, so we could make toasts to each other.

Clockwise from bottom left: spicy cucumbers, watermelon, dumplings

Clockwise from bottom left: spicy cucumbers, watermelon, dumplings

Besides that little outing, I met fellow-novelist Paul for dinner one night to exchange our novels. He’s given me the next 50 pages of his, which I’ll read this week, and he’s said he’ll finish mine.  He’s leaving in a week and a half, so we’ll see if we get through them.

lotus leaves

lotus leaves

I had a couple of lunches with Gavin, but now he’s mad at me because I didn’t leap at the chance to help him make the listening final exam over the weekend.  He knows my strong feelings about preserving my weekends for myself, and so the fact that he didn’t plan ahead enough so I could help him before this weekend showed a bit of disregard for my beliefs.  As a teacher, it’s all too easy to let your planning and marking, which must be done outside the classroom, spill over into your personal time. I like to have a clean line between work and pleasure, so I keep the line very rigid.  Only in an emergency will I let work encroach on my personal life.

Oh well, if he doesn’t get over it, I’ll be leaving soon anyway.

dropping petals

dropping petals

Last weekend, I went to Beihai, the only coastal city in Guangxi province, to visit Mari.  Mari is a Finnish lady who lives and works in Beihai for a Finnish company, Stora Enso, known for publication and fine paper, packaging board and wood products.  She’s in charge of supply chain management for container board used in milk cartons.  I met her when we went on a tour of the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xi’an.  She kindly invited me to visit her in Beihai, sending her personal driver to Nanning on Friday afternoon to pick me up and drive me the three hours to Beihai.  He then drove 3 hours each way Sunday night to return me home. Besides that, she invited me to stay in her apartment, which was beautifully decked out IKEA style.  She was the perfect hostess; and we had a great time and lots of laughs.

lotus flowers in the pond

lotus flowers in the pond

In addition to those two weekends away, my students turned in 73 outlines and brainstorms/clusters that I had to grade in the first of three staggered deadlines.  They’re writing their final research papers for my class and there are three stages in the process.  I thought I’d be able to go through them quickly, but it was very time-consuming mostly because they were a total mess and many of them were off topic.  Oh dear.  If we get through this process it will be a miracle.

lotus pond on the university campus

lotus pond on the university campus

Since our last cocktail hour on May 25, I’ve mailed one big box home by ground; I sure hope it makes it back to Virginia.  I should mail another this week.  I went out for a “drink” with one of my students, which turned out in fact to be a “mango mountain.”

I finished watching the first season of Madam Secretary, Skyped several times with Mike, Skyped with Sarah, and finished watching Season 5 of Grey’s Anatomy. I also watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, one of the few DVDs I brought here with me, for about the 20th time.  I continued to plod away on the depressing Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian; it’s a hard-to-take book but I’m learning something about the Armenian genocide prior to WWI. It’s always good to learn something new about the horrible things we as humans are capable of.



I also had an interview with Teaching House in Washington, D.C. because I applied to take an intensive CELTA (Cambridge Certificate for English Language Teaching of Adults) course in September. I passed the interview and committed to the class.  So now I know what I’ll be doing this fall: taking the course and enjoying the holidays with my family.  I’d like to stay home for a while, but who knows how long it’ll be before I get itchy feet again.  Going back to work at NOVA is not something I can get excited about.

lotus blossoms under cover

lotus blossoms under cover

I’d love to hear all about your last couple of weeks, so feel free to stay awhile, and tell me what’s on your mind.  There’s no rush.  I have nothing to do tonight because I don’t work on weekends. 🙂

fern and leaf

fern and leaf

I do want to apologize for not visiting many of you as often as I’d like.  My internet is very slow here, and often I open the pages to your blog and wait and wait and wait for them to open.  By then I’ve gone on to something else, or I’ve gone to bed.  I hope to be better once I return home to the US of A, where the internet works smoothly and quickly and without issue. 🙂

Categories: Asia, California, China, Chinese language, Chinese language class, conversation, D.C., ESL Teacher, Guangxi University, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Language barrier, laundry room cocktail hour, Los Angeles, Nanning, Nanning Wuxu International Airport, Reseda, Sino-Canadian International College (SCIC), Teaching English as a Second Language, United States of America, Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , | 28 Comments

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28 thoughts on “cocktail hour in the laundry room (or maybe we’ll sit inside where it’s cool!) :-)

  1. oh, those water lotuses are beautiful! just what my eyes needed this morning.

    i stayed in town at a small hostal and am on my way to the beach where they’re battling the ocean’s advance… sorry, i’m still recovering from dengue and chikungunya, so no alcohol, but maybe i’ll pretend that my raspberry juice is red wine!


    • Thank you, Lisa, I’m glad you enjoy the water lotuses. I see them everyday all over our campus; they really are a treat. I’m sorry you haven’t yet recovered from your dengue and chikungunya. Raspberry juice it is then. Do you feel better by now? (I’m sorry I’ve responded so late!)


  2. I like your stream-of-consciousness, conversational tone, Cathy. I would love to have a lotus pond (no matter what size) to walk to everyday and see the life cycle of the lotus flowers. One more month!


    • Thanks so much, Annette. I’m glad you enjoy my cocktail hour post! The lotus ponds really are lovely here now; I’ll enjoy them as much as possible before I return home in 24 days! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The lotus pond was just lovely Cathy, and I ‘m glad you took me to see it. I must admit, however, that the coolness of your living room is delightful, and a huge relief after the heat and humidity outside. I am not a fan of heat, and less a fan of humidity. A glass of red wine would be good, but in the heat a beer sounds better, thank you. I prefer my red wine room temperature, but when I drink white I like it chilled. I wonder why that is? Speaking of internet, mine has been giving me intermittent fits for a few months now and has resulted in several calls to tech support – one of my least favorite things to do. Finally, finally they decided I need a new modem. But it didn’t come and didn’t come, and in the meantime my old modem behaved, until the day it did not. Again. I called. Again. The replacement got here Friday evening and I decided to install it yesterday morning. As things have been of late, it was not the simple project it should have been and resulted in another one and one-half hours with tech support, but finally! Victory! The appropriate light turned green and my service is noticeably better now. We won’t even talk about the new dishwasher that arrived looking just fine, but my installer realized – late in the game – had a damaged frame. That has been picked up and a new one ordered. Oh my! I did talk about it, didn’t I? I’m glad you are seeing light at the end of your tunnel and July 15 will arrive before you know it. My son, Gep, is in the states for the summer, and daughter Kat is on her way. I will see them for a couple of weeks just a few days after you head home. We will be going to the Beer Fest in Portland again this year for a couple of days.
    Thank you for the conversation, the lovely cool air and cold beer. I’ve enjoyed our visit.


    • I’m glad you enjoyed coming along to see the lotus pond, Carol. There are a lot of the ponds on the campus; I should get out and take more pictures of them, but it’s so hot and humid right now, I don’t feel like venturing out at all. We’ll share the cool beer for sure, as the wine is just too warm from sitting inside my sunny kitchen all day in the heat.

      I’m sorry about the problems with your electronic devices: your computer modem and your dishwasher. I’m the least technical person you’ll ever meet (I can’t even figure out how to work the TV remote!), so those things of which you speak would frustrate me to no end.

      I’m so glad you have Gep and Kat coming home for the summer. I know you’ll love having them home! The Beer Fest in Portland sounds like the perfect way to celebrate their return home.

      Thanks for coming by, Carol; it was a lovely chat indeed and I really enjoyed it. 🙂 xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Cathy,
    I also love your Lotus Pond photos. The textures and changing colors are enticing. I appreciate the
    problems you are having with the heat. I remember only too well the heat in Hong Kong although it may well be even worse where you are.
    Were you ever able to get to my blog?
    I have typed it into my search engine several times and have not yet been taken elsewhere.
    I think you may live not that far from me in VA and would appreciate meeting you sometime if you like.
    I look forward to your next post.


    • I found your blog and followed it on my reader, but I don’t see an email sign up. I don’t have time to get on my Reader much, so I’d like to get email notifications of posts, otherwise I’m sure to miss them.

      I’m not sure how the heat in Hog Kong compares with that in Nanning. I imagine both are the same, but at least Hong Kong may have some sea breezes.

      Where do you live in Virginia? I’m in Oakton, not far from Fair Oaks Mall. Do you live in northern Virginia? I’d love to meet you after my return home July 22. 😊


      • I missed this from you so I am replying now. I am in Shepherdstown WV in the Eastern Panhandle not that far from Northern Va. 1.5 hrs maybe. I thought there was an email sign up on my site. I’ll check. It may be time for a new theme.


      • Sue, it turns out I did sign up for your email notification as that’s how I found out about the workshop you were attending. You don’t sound like you’re that far from me; we will definitely have to get together upon my return. 🙂


  5. Thank you for the wine. Warm is fine. I don’t chill my red wines, either. Your lotus photos are so beautiful. I think you must be one of the busiest people I know, on- or off-line. The dumplings look scrumptious. I think I’d gain about 100 lbs. in China if I had access to good dumplings. It’s always a good thing to draw a firm line between work and your time off. Otherwise, people will be constantly trying to move that line.

    As you already know, it’s been a slow week for me so I don’t have much more to add. I did get to Assateague yesterday which was wonderful. It is so hot and humid here, and at least we were able to cool off at the beach once the wind switched to a sea breeze. We got a glimpse of the Blue Angels (who were there for the Ocean City air show). The really exciting part was finally seeing a horse on the beach. M and I were sitting in our beach chairs under our umbrella with the cooler between us when some kids walked up and started giggling. I turned to see what they were giggling and pointing at and there was a horse, his head hanging over the cooler trying to get it open. lol! I stayed seated and remained calm (I read today that you’re supposed to move slowly away until you are at least a bus’s length from the horse). The horse wandered off, walking on beach blankets and trying to raid other coolers.


    • Ok, a glass of warm red wine is here just for you, Robin. When I say warm, I do mean WARM, as it sits in my sunny kitchen with no air conditioning all day, so it’s warmer than room temperature. But as long as you don’t mind, we’ll go with it.

      The lotus flowers are really pretty at this time of year. That’s one thing I’ll miss when I leave China. Also the dumplings. My favorite are some pork dumplings with water chestnuts at a place we call Red Sign just because we can’t read the name on the red sign! You would love them if you’re a fan of dumplings.

      Your day at Assateague sounds marvelous, especially as you saw a horse. I’ve been there several times and have yet to see one of the wild ponies there. I can’t believe the one you encountered has learned how to raid coolers. I wonder what kinds of treats he’s gotten before, and what it was that struck his fancy!! Such a great sighting. Hope you enjoy your Sunday and have a lovely week. 🙂


  6. Darn it! Missed another cocktail hour! 🙂 I have to leave a chunk of time for you Cathy because you never say anything short (I know the feeling 🙂 ) and I always want to ask questions and it just goes on and on. But that’s what blogging mates are for, right? So, I’m going to comment here and then make some toast to eat while I read another of your posts. Walking soon so just a small window of opportunity.
    Corn on the BBQ? I’ve not had it. Not dry? I always just boil and if I’m feeling naughty lots of butter. 🙂
    A stopover in Vancouver might be cool? I’d love to see that city. But no- I know you’ll just want to get ‘home’ to your sisters.
    The lotus are fabulous, Cathy! So exotic… I can’t imagine being surrounded by them. We’ve just had 2 of our garden fences replaced so our garden is a major makeover project right now. We have 4 adjoining neighbours at the back. 2 have agreed to split costs (£2,700 overall!) The Chinese lady next door (well into her 70’s, maybe more) has a well-off son who says his mum is a poor pensioner who can’t afford it. Is that what you meant about the aircon- that she won’t pay for the cost of running it?
    Counting down, Cathy! Glad you’re still having fun as well as feeling soggy. Hugs, darlin. 🙂


    • Hi Jo, sorry you missed this cocktail hour, but don’t worry, I’ll have another, maybe tomorrow as we have a three-day weekend. I love corn on the BBQ; you wrap it in aluminum foil and butter and cook it and that butter just steams its way into the corn. It’s so delicious! I should have given more thought to my stopover in Vancouver; as it is it’s short and I’ll nr ready to head to LA to visit Stephanie. I’m looking forward to seeing her as I was too rushed in January of 2014 when I went.

      The lotus flowers in all the ponds are very pretty right now, Jo; I don’t know how long they will last, although I do remember seeing them when I arrived in September.

      Sounds like your garden project and fence is a major deal right now, Jo. I hope you can sort it out with your Chinese neighbor. As for the A/C, the Chinese just don’t seem to care about it that much. They don’t sweat like we do!! I always turn it down in my classroom to 16 degrees, and as soon as my back is turned, my students grab the remote and turn it up to 20-26. They complain that it’s freezing, while meanwhile I’m sweating up a storm! They probably wouldn’t want to pay the cost of running it either! Most of them here don’t make much money and are very frugal. Yes, I’m so ready to go home now, Jo. I still have those horrible essays looming; 73 of them will come in on Friday, July 3. I’m trying to enjoy my freedom until then. 🙂 xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yikes, how could you survive those hours at dinner with no airconditioning. Love the way you’d already mentalated that Miss Hao wouldn’t have it.


    • It was a rough time, Dai, and honestly I’m not sure how I survived it. The cold beers Gavin and I brought may have saved the day! I definitely predicted it, as the Chinese really don’t seem to care that much about air conditioning. I’m always fighting with my students over the A/C remote in our classroom. I turn it down and as soon as I leave the room, one of them sneakily turns it up. We go around and around about it!! It’s so hot and miserable here now, Dai. I don’t want to go anywhere except back to the USA! 🙂


      • Well your time is coming soon, Kat. It’s easy to do something if the room is a bit cold: wear a sweater. But when a room is too warm, what can we do ? Strip off? I used to say this to friends in Thailand who didn’t like my airconditioning. Many people cannot tolerate heat and I am one of them.


      • I’m with you there, Dai. I hate the heat and am waiting patiently to leave sweltering Nanning and return to my four distinct seasons in Virginia! The summer in Virginia is quite miserable too, but at least autumn will be right around the corner!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Sorry to have missed the cocktail hour, but I was out on Sunday evening raising some money for charity by having tea and cakes with friends, at another friend’s house. Well, I thought it was going to be tea and cakes, but it turned out to be a lovely buffet supper which my friend had spent quite a lot of time making. Luckily I hadn’t had anything to eat since lunchtime so that I had room for the cake I thought I was going to eat!
    We don’t have BBQ plans for this weekend, but maybe the following one so I will let you know. We often have corn, so I will be sure to keep some for you. 🙂
    The lotus flower photos are lovely.


    • Well, Elaine, I’m not sorry you missed my cocktail hour as it sounds like you had a much nicer time than you would have here in my humble abode. There’s always next time, after all. I’m looking forward to having corn at your next barbecue! 🙂


  9. Thank goodness you have an aircon place to hide from the heat and humidity, I find the humidity so hard, I hate the feel of sweat running down my face (and every where else!!!) A beer will be spot on. Those lotus are so beautiful, such a serene flower. Well not much longer now and you must be getting excited at the thought of being back home. We had some excitement this week as we have bought a car. It really spells freedom to me. I have not missed it when we were house sitting but back home I had become adjusted and had so much to catch up with at first, ie gardening, getting together with friends and family (who were kind enough to pick us up for outings. But now I am looking forward to being able to get out and about without having to plan buses, trains etc. We have had lots of rain this past week, but the garden just loves it, and so do I as I don’t have to water all the pots of vegies. Jack is going to Sydney on his own tomorrow for 5 days to spend time bonding with his middle son. So I am planning all sorts of outings while he is away…. 🙂


    • Oh Pauline, you’re a woman after my own heart! I too hate the heat and humidity and hate the feel of sweat running down my face and into my eyes. It’s a constant here, so lately I’ve been content to stay huddled in my apartment.

      I’m very excited to be returning home soon. I am counting the days (24 as of today!).

      I’m excited about your new car purchase. So have you had no car at all before now? It sounds like you haven’t. I didn’t have one during the year I lived in Korea and now this past year in China, but most of my life I’ve been lucky to have one. It’s hard to be without when you’re used to having one.

      I hope Jack is having a good trip, but mostly I hope you’re having a lot of fun outings on your own or with friends. I sure wish I could join!! 🙂


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