Twelve Months. Twelve Days. Twelve Moments.

To wrap up my year, I decided to choose one picture from each month of my phone’s 2015 camera roll.  When I actually sat down to do it, it wasn’t so easy.  Do you choose your favorite picture, or a picture of your favorite day, or a shot of something you still laugh about now, months later?   And it’s different choosing a picture now versus what I may have chosen months ago.  Our memories change.  Our emotions change.

These twelve pictures were clicks on my phone.  So fast.  They were simple and memorable and perfect in their own way.  That’s what moments are.  They add up to the hours of our days, and the days of our months and years.  Sartre compared moments to little diamonds.  Aren’t they though?  Some small, some big, some you’ll never have … some brilliant, some rough, all perfect in their own way.

It’s good to look back as we set intentions for the new year.  There are important people and important things that happen in our lives every single day.  It is about those big goals we set in front of us, and it’s about the little things too.  The lovely perfect and not-so-perfect things.  It is about the things we looked forward to, and those we never intended on, never planned on, never knew would come.  It is about the every day, and how we live each moment.

Enjoy.

“She smiled and said with an ecstatic air: “It shines like a little diamond”,
“What does?”
“This moment. It is round, it hangs in empty space like a little diamond; I am eternal.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre, The Age of Reason

 

“If the whole world I once could see
On free soil stand, with the people free
Then to the moment might I say,
Linger awhile. . .so fair thou art.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: First Part

Pack It Up, Pack It In, Let Me Begin

It isn’t a beginning, just a bonne continuation!  After more than five years in Shenyang, we will soon be packing it up and in, and moving on to the next part of our simple adventure.  In August, we will be making our lives in South Carolina again.

In honor of the sorting, saving, tossing and packing that will happen over the next couple of months, we present some images, and their informative, somewhat sarcastic descriptions, of the Shenyang moving methods.  Enjoy these not so random photos that we’ve seen over the years in this big city.  Not to worry – I’m sure Asian Tigers will take our move in a slightly different direction.

There will be other posts/diatribes about the move and our experiences, perhaps to include a short synopsis of ordering rabies vaccine on Taobao because the government vet office wouldn’t give us the vial label for the health certificates, and a list of possible reasons why T insists on keeping said rabies in our refrigerator long after their labels have been put to use.  I think you can also expect to read a list of what we will miss (i.e., so many beautiful people) and will not miss (i.e., why does my bathroom always smell like cabbage?).

Change is not a bad thing, just difficult sometimes.  I am comforted knowing there are smiling faces and beautiful places all over the world.  We are lucky to know so many.  See you on the flip side.

For our original 2011 post on the incredible ways they move stuff in Shenyang, check out Push, Pedal, Pull.

To revisit the Irish heritage in rap music’s 1992 hit, “Jump Around” by House of Pain, click here.

Take Five

This time of year, I usually write a post about the changes on our familiar skyline.  The beautiful diamond building showing progress year to year.  That diamond now plays host to concerts and shows, a far cry from the hole in the ground it was a few years ago.

Last May, we moved from that south & east facing apartment with the diamond view.  We got a new outlook on life and on Shenyang.  My favorite daily view is the Ke Pu Science Park.  It is a wonder, a living thing that moves and changes every hour of every day.  Tai qi, basketball, ping pong, balloons, pond life, walkers and exercisers, kite flyers, dancing clubs and walking clubs, bird statues that light up at night …  Public parks all over China are a wonder.

Here are some recent shots of our views in Shenyang, plus one more recent sunrise in the Instagram feed to the left.  Enjoy.

 

 

So Many Beautiful

The 1st graders at school have a little trouble with certain parts of English grammar.  For example, when they want to say they ate too much, or that they like something a lot, they say, “I ate so many lunch.” or “I so many like it.”  As teachers, we find ourselves using this phrase to express the same gleeful satisfaction.  On my December trip to Jiangxi Province, someone may have asked, “Isn’t it beautiful?”  Yes.  So many beautiful.

Wonderful hostel for about 150rmb/night:  Jingdezhen Youth Hostel at the Sculpture Factory – http://www.yhachina.com/

Fantastic Guide & Driver (and he can show you the best coffee in JDZ):  http://www.tojingdezhen.cn/home.html

Helpful Webpage to learn more (Thanks, Time Out Shanghai!):  http://www.timeoutshanghai.com/features/Travel-Weekend_breaks/8873/Weekend-break-Jingdezhen.html

Beautiful shop and residency available from The Pottery Workshop (shops located in other cities too):  http://www.potteryworkshop.com.cn/Jingdezhen.asp

Beautiful retreat to visit and residency available from Sanbao:  http://chinaclayart.com/index.html

This City

To walk this city
at my pace
I see me.
I am glorious blue, and polluted gray, shades among.
I am determined and loud, lost and exactly in place, silent and moving,
constantly moving.
I belong and I don’t.  Who knew?
It knew.  This city knew.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Summer – a recall on blue

I took my summer Sperrys out for a walk yesterday, wishing for sunshine. I searched for colors, saw two things I had never seen before, got rained on a little, and shared an overhang with a woman and her gorgeous handbag. While I take a few days to sort photos from our recent travels, I thought I’d share some sights of a Shenyang summer.

I choose not to include one of the dismal sky, preferring to remember the beautiful spring we experienced this year.  This year’s summer sky is one described best by Barbara Kingsolver in Flight Behavior.  She wrote, “Whoever was in charge of weather had put a recall on blue and nailed up this mess of dirty white sky like a lousy drywall job.”  Yes, just like that.

I will keep wishing for sunshine and searching for beautiful things.  Enjoy.

More summer shots on Instagram @thesimpleadventure, including a short clip from a local noodle shop.  This post is ipod pictures only.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gu Gong

Where was an Emperor to live with his Empress and 14 concubines during the Qing Dynasty?  A little place in the middle of Shenyang did nicely.

The Shenyang Imperial Palace (Gu Gong  沈阳故宫) is more than 60,000 square meters, 300 rooms, and home to 40,000 relics from the Qing Dynasty and other royal families.  The main buildings were constructed in 1625 when Nurhachi was in power.  The site was completed in 1644 under his son, Hong Taiji (also referred to as Huang Taiji).   Shortly after, the capital moved to Beijing, though Qing emperors spent some time in Shenyang every year.  Qianlong expanded the palace in 1780.  It has been well-preserved and was listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 2004 as an extension of the much larger and only other existing palace in China, the Forbidden City in Beijing.

On a recent visit, I was fortunate enough to see the dragon robes on display, learn more about the external chimneys as a part of the advanced heating system of the time, and see a performance of the royal wedding of Hong Taiji to his favorite concubine, Harjol.

“Actually, a pretty nice little Saturday.”

Short videos of the wedding performance show can be seen here. http://youtu.be/wv5ARlFCeTQ  For more details, click on the photos.

 

My Heart is Here

Last week, it was time for our annual cupcake decorating day at school.  This is a day when I bring in 5 dozen cupcakes, perfect frosting, and so many sugary decorations that the children either squeal or stop in their tracks when they see the options.  Then the delicate construction process begins.  The next day was our last day of school, and I never know how many will be back in the fall.  So I cherished every moment, and then, wait and see.

Four years volunteering in the same school, watching children grow up and mature right before my eyes, it is unbelievable.  I am so lucky they are a part of my simple adventure in life.

A piece of my heart will always be here, and here, and there, and with each and every one of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes. Please.

There were quite a few authentic and traditional Chinese dishes we had to try when we went to Xi’an.  We did our very best to eat our way up and through the Muslim Quarter.  Some things, we had to try more than once or twice, just to give it a fair shake.

Rou jia mo is like a Chinese hamburger on a flatbread-type bun.  Every one of the 4 I tried (ha!) was fantastic, and the spicy vegetarian version (cai jia mo) was fantastic too.  Biang biang mian is a carbohydrate dream – wide, thick, long hand-pulled noodles in a sauce of varying spiciness.  Yang rou chuanr is a lamb skewer and at each stall, there are different spices available for you to add your own.  Cumin is a regular favorite.  There were sweet rice cakes, nutty candy, fried little potatoes, noodles, fruits and vegetables, drinks, nuts, breads and so much more.  Enjoy!

Build Yourself an Army

Is it only emperors who can build themselves an army?  My friend, the talented potter / highly educated chemist, can she build herself an army of ceramic cats to protect her from unseen forces?  If I buy enough souvenir Eiffel Towers and display them in organized columns, will they come to life and become my garde militaire?  Seems like reason enough to buy another Eiffel magnet.

Last month, I had the fortune to travel to Xi’an with friends.  It was a whirlwind weekend of seeing and tasting, laughing and thinking, being with people full of love.  It was a weekend of armies, history, emperors, relics, food and a little more food, and plenty of photos.

Xi’an, located in the heart of China in Shaanxi Province, was home to 11 dynasties over a period of 4,000 years.  Nearby is the Banpo site, home to a village in the Neolithic period, 6,000 years ago.  Xi’an was the farthest eastern destination of the Silk Road and the first capital of a unified China more than 2,200 years ago.   Today, it is home to 14km of intact city walls, pagodas, the Terracotta Army, and, in my opinion, one of the best history museums in the world.

In 1974, 3 peasant farmers were digging a well and came upon the tomb-guarding warriors of Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi.  Little did those farmers know that there were three pits and more than 7,000 life-size soldiers, archers, officers, horses and chariots.  Each one was once colored with pigment and had a weapon, and they all have an individual expression on their face.  Huangdi knew how to build himself an army for his life after death.

The Shaanxi History Museum is an eye-opening experience.  Not only can you see the terracotta soldiers up close, but you can see thousands of relics from the varied history in this province.  On special exhibit while we were there were relics discovered inside two large pots.  Again, a Shaanxi farmer was digging for something and found Tang Dynasty treasures instead.  This museum is amazing and the displays are very well done.

I’m not sure I can choose just a few photos for this blog post.  Keep an eye out for more on the food in Xi’an.  Enjoy.

 

Close your eyes and clone yourself.

Build your heart an army.

To defend your innocence

while you do everything wrong.

Don’t be scared to walk alone.

Don’t be scared to like it.  

Worry, why should I care?

John Mayer – “Age of Worry“.