Friday, June 29, 2007

A Little Friday Humor

Jokester: Knock, knock.

Audience: Who's there?

Jokester: Interrupting pirate.

Audience: Interrup.... [Jokester]: ARRRRRRRRR.

HAHAHAHAHA. Heard that on Last Comic Standing last night and I had to pause my dvr recording because I was laughing so hard. I know, I know ... juvenile sense of humor ... what can I say?? :)

Happy Friday, everyone!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Add "Crazy Plant Lady" to my resume!!

Oh man, my poor condo neighbors ... they do NOT know what they are in for!!!! You see, I have been missing my garden lately. You remember, the garden I grew at my old house under the tutelage of Ms C?

Ah memories.....

And now that it is spring/summer and everything is a'bloomin' out and about in Portland... I've found myself wandering amongst nurseries yearning for some of my old plants ("yearning" in only a platonic sense, of course!!!!).

I mean, my deck does have a lavender and a jasmine in pots which I brought over from my old house and those are doing well. (they'll be doing REALLY well once they start bloomin' (come onnnnnn Jasmine!!!)). And I also have a few gigantor bamboos I purchased from a neighbor who was moving out.

But yet I yearn.

I yearn for the old. (hello? Issues with letting go??)

But thankfully, I do not have issues with "shopping" and so I went on a shopping spree for more plants!!

Only, I couldn't bring myself to buy "normal" container style plants because I loved the plants I used to have! And so I purchased some of those.... you know, the ones which should be planted in a yard, grow really really big, are perennials, like full sun and, did I mention, they grow really, REALLY big?!?!

Heh, heh!

So I'm not sure how well they will do in containers on my only partially sunny deck but .... see those big white daisies in the picture above?? Yeah, I bought those. And those tall, purple coneflowers? Yep, those too. And in the very front, the lavender color?? ... that's catmint. My cats loved it (yes, shamefully, in the "wink,wink" fashion) and so I bought one of those for them too (see, "Crazy Cat Lady" still stands!!!). And I may have bought one or two other plants (what? :))

Anyway, so if all those grow well there won't be room on my deck to sit. Seriously!!!!! BUT ... does The Crazy stop there?? Oh no, no, my friends.

Because yesterday I was out on my lunch hour looking for this one particular flower I still wanted which would "finish" off the deck, so to speak. I didn't find it. BUT ... I did find a butterfly guara that I!!! A butterfly guara which also grows Freakishly Large!!! Hee hee hee.

But wait, there is more to this Crazy! So I bought the guara during my lunch hour which meant that I had to leave it in my car for the rest of the work day and so I was concerned that the car might get too hot. So I cracked a window for it! HAHAHA (*slaps knee in merriment*). Yeah, there's the true crazy, my friends.

So send help. OR ... better yet, send more potting soil! Because I think it's still early in the planting season and someone just mentioned something called "plant stands"! ;)

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Harlot Does Portland

So, now that we are off the topic of China (*insert clapping and cheering*), back to Real Life!

I went and saw The Yarn Harlot speak at Powell's Books on Friday June 8th. It was a Packed House, let me tell you! Here's a picture showing part of the room.

Isn't that crazy!!?!! And there were more people to my right. As well as other folks turned away at the door due to overcrowding! I tell ya, it was standing room only with 45 minutes still til she was scheduled to speak. Luckily we all had knitting to while away the wait. I found myself knitting on a sock which (oddly) saw the light of day the last time I saw Stephanie speak. (and I wonder why it isn't finished yet! :))

Here's the Harlot upon arrival. I think it's so cute that you can barely see her over the massive podium!

And her obligatory sock pictures:

(Sorry for the blurry pictures. Apparently my camera has yet to recover from its workout in China!)

Anyway, and last but not least, I took video!!!! (shhhh, don't tell!)

So for any of you who have never seen her speak, here is a little blurb! She is so cute and funny, and is seen here talking about a possible wool shortage!!! (too cute!)

So, as always, a grand time had by all! Even for those of you Muggles (non-Knitters) out there ... I recommend checking her out next time she is in town. She truly is a hoot!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

People, Places and Things ...... oh my?

Okay, so apparently I took WAY too many pictures in China and so maybe I'll pare this post down to just People. Because if I add on Places and Things I'm certain Blogger will disown me. As will all y'all! ;)

Anyway, I loved people watching there. And everyone was so sweet. And interesting. And the lifestyles and surroundings were just a photographer's dream!

So without further ado, here are some of my favorite photos from China.

Cute kids! These taken at the Chongqing Zoo:

Just look at that little girl in the first pic with her hair!!! GAH! ... sooo cute! I smile every time I look at her!

And I asked Gramps if I could take a picture of his grandbaby because I wanted to show you the No Diaper Phenomenon I found everywhere (seriously, didn't see even one diaper. Just bare bottoms). But Gramps figured I'd want a front shot so turned the baby towards me and I couldn't figure out how to non-pedophiley explain that I wanted a picture of the baby's bare butt!! So I didn't .......and settled for just this Cute Picture instead. :)

But at least in this next one you can kind of see the opening in the baby's clothing. No diaper. Which may or may not explain the stain down the mom's leg. Just sayin'.

Taken in Chongqing's Old Town

My favorite cute kid! He was hanging out at a dock when we were in port one morning and I snapped this picture through the cruise ship's dining room window.

I think his mom worked on the docks. Here he is watching as his mom worked on the fishing nets.

We visited a kindergarten class. They sang the ABC song for us!

In the port of Fengdu, a vendor carrying her baby:

Also in Fengdu, a vendor baby! (hello?! Labor Laws???)

And last but not least with regard to pictures of Young 'Uns (how you hanging in there, Ms C?? :)), I found these girls while I was wandering the streets of Xian. They were playing Chinese jump rope (would that just be called "jump rope" there????) and I wanted to catch a picture but they came running over to pose when I pulled the camera out. Love it though. They were so sweet!

Okay, on to adults! Here's one of the Peking Opera stars gearing up for the night's performance:

A gentleman outside a club in the Hutong area (took that one while cruising by in a rickshaw!):

Our group heading into the Forbidden City in Beijing on the only rainy day we encountered on the whole trip!

Check this out. In Chongqing, motorcycle taxis!!! (no helmet for the passengers)

(sorry for the reflection ... taken through the bus window)

In the Yu Yuan Garden in Shanghai. There was sweeping going on EVERYWHERE in China. I even saw one person sweeping the highway! (seriously!). And this broom is the style they all used.

A street scene outside our bus window in Wuhan. Not sure why the man was standing around in his underwear ... but now he's on the internets (that'll teach him!! :))

I took this outside of the Summer Palace in Beijing:

And this in the Hutong area of Beijing:

On the Li River outside of Guilin:

A seemingly popular way to carry things in Old Town of Chongqing. Looks like Moving Day in that second picture...

In fact, my theory is that you could hire these guys to carry things for you. I saw some men sitting around with some of these poles nearby. I wish I had some of them locally ... I've always got some stuff I could use schlepped around!!! :)

Also in Old Town, this picture:

A Chinese coworker believes the sign indicates this is a dentist's office. The question is .... is this the waiting room ... or are these the dentists??? :)

And last but not least, two pictures of men playing a game. I figured it to be Chinese Checkers which is why I snapped the pictures. Hee heee ... Chinese Checkers ... in China! HA! (seriously, I'm like 12 ... I know this!! :))

Outside Summer Palace and in Chongqing's Old Town, respectively.

Okay, that will do for awhile. I think we've all had our fill of China pictures. Next up ... something non-China related!! :)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Excuse me, can you spare a square??

Here's a little tidbit for future travelers to China .... bring toilet paper!

No, no ...... seriously. Because it's not as if the existing toilet paper there is, say, a little rough, or something. You know, like in Europe. In China, the toilet paper for the most part is just plain ole Missing In Action.

You'd enter a stall and there just wasn't even a PLACE for toilet paper to be hung. You could try moseying back out to the "common" area of the bathroom in hopes that a toilet roll holder would exist there (a couple of bathrooms had it this way). One bathroom, in fact, had a bathroom attendant who handed you a small wad of toilet paper as you headed into a stall. (how's that for a sucky job??) But really, about 50% of the time there just wasn't toilet paper. Nada. Nothing. Kaputz. And it's not like I was out wandering in the backcountry, ya know? I'm talking even in mainstream tourist areas and big city restaurants.

Luckily I had plenty of small packets of tissue with me. So I never went without. But that doesn't mean that I'd always enter the stall prepared with tissue in hand. Oh no, no. Often I'd be midstream (sorry for the mental image) and reach for toilet paper, find none, and realize I then had to wrestle out of my backpack and dig around in the bottom of it for a packet or two all while balancing in the most awkward of positions.

"Why is that?", you ask. "Why weren't you just comfortably sitting astride the lovely toilet? Are you subtly telling me that I need to pack toilet seat covers as well??"

Nope. You certainly CAN take toilet seat covers with you ... but you might then also want to pack an actual TOILET SEAT as well. Because the majority of toilets there, my friends, looked like these:

That's right, our tour guide called it "Oriental Style". And this style of toilet was the status quo. So airport, nice restaurants, etc all had toilets such as these. (the hotels we stayed at, luckily, had "Western Style", god bless 'em)

Now, granted, that first one pictured above needed a good cleaning. Seeing this picture with all the wetness around where I had to stand to squat is just making me want to grab my antibacterial wipes and rescrub the bottoms of my shoes. (*shudder*). And sadly I visited much worse than this one. MUCH WORSE. Though this particular restroom didn't have it, the "nicer" ones actually had a bathroom attendant whose job it was to mop the floor around these toilets after each use. (a job even suckier than the TP Chicks!). Of course, I just kept thinking about all the ickiness on the mop ... it's not like it was cleaned and sanitized (or even dipped in water) between each mopping. (where did I put those antibacterial wipes again??? GAH!)

But the good news about both of these toilets is that these actually FLUSHED. Because the ones which didn't, and there were certainly ones which didn't ... yeeeee doggie. Just be happy this blog isn't scratch-n-sniff is all I'm sayin.

Of course, even a lot of the nicer restrooms smelled because they requested you throw out your used tissue (ahem) into the wastebasket instead of flushing it down the "toilet". So even if the toilet flushed most of the restrooms had quite a strong stench to them. And that wastebasket, not a sight for sore eyes, know what I'm sayin'! Ugh.

Now these Oriental Style toilets took a bit of getting used to. And being creatures of habit, or lazy, or just really bad at balancing in the squat position, the folks in our group would check each stall to see if any were Western Style so we'd know. And if one was found, we'd line up to use that one. But I finally figured out that you could tell which stalls were which style just by looking to see if there was a step up into it. Like viewed below:

See the step up into each stall? ... yep, all Oriental Style. Much easier than checking each stall.

But I tell ya, after one particular restroom experience I no longer cared which style toilet I used. Whatever got me in and out of the smelly bathroom quickest, ya know? Because there was this one restroom break we took at a reststop (picture a gas station) between Wuhan and Yichang. Good. Golly! A number of folks wouldn't even use it because they couldn't stay in there long enough without retching. Plus there was no privacy. And you pretty much just peed into a trench. If they had souvenir t-shirts reading "I survived the bathroom facilities here" I'd a surely bought one. Let me tell you, I must have gone through an entire packet of antibacterial wipes after that!!!!!!!!!! So once I survived that restroom all the others seemed pretty damn nice to me ... oriental style or not!!

Of course, later in the trip I saw this sign on a restroom and had to go in just to check it out.

For the record, the restroom it is referring to contained the flattest toilet of the two pictured at the top of this post. Not quite the 4-Star Facilities I was hoping for .... but again .... compared to that reststop restroom .... this one was gold!

So, Future China Travelers, let's recap what you should pack:

1. Toilet Paper
2. Antibacterial Wipes
3. If you plan to use that one particular gas station reststop, additionally pack a gas mask, a stall door, and a portable antibacterial shower. At the very least!

And in preparation for your travels to China, be sure to build your quadriceps up well. You're gonna need 'em.

p.s. I found the following, an "Etiquette Bell", in each stall of the Seoul, Korea airport (which is by far the cleanest airport I have ever been in!).

Does anyone know what the hell that thing does when you push the button?? (along with why?). I have one guess ... but I don't want to say. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller??

[update: ah ha! Success!!! I finally thought to just Google the Etiquette Bell and found this! (hee hee hee)]

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

I didn't plan on posting this "Signs" post next but that damn song* keeps playing in my head. So I figure maybe posting this will exorcise the song. (why yes I am a bit of an eternal optimist ... why do you ask?? :))

And when I say "everywhere a sign" ... Hong Kong especially had them crammed in pretty tight. Take a gander at these:

That's a lot of signs! And that last one in particular cracks me up. Because, isn't the sign in front itself a warning??? Maybe it's just me. :)

More in Hong Kong:

Also in Hong Kong, I found this one at the ferry terminal.

Hee hee .... they say it's a safe city and then immediately warn you about pickpockets!

Apparently the city is also not safe for pedestrians. As this sign indicates. (blood and all! tee hee heee)

A shout-out to my GE homies (this photo taken at the airport in Wuhan, China):

One of my favorite .... at the Three Gorges Dam in China:

"No Turning Over, Please" ..... hehehe (*slaps knee in merriment*)

This one I found at the Three Gorges Dam viewing site and I'm STILL trying to decipher the top portion of it!!!

This one there as well. Difficult to read but it says "Workaround. Please stop." (so polite):

I have to admit that I decided to pass on buying this snack in the Hutong area of Beijing (poor da Eyore):

Also in Hutong, a sign outside a bar:

On the Li River cruise ferry:

In Chongqing, China .... one of three Walmarts they have. I was told all are very, very popular and even have shuttles to go bring people to the store.

This in China:

Y'all, not a blade of grass in sight!!!!

And this one, with its 4 foot tall rock formations ..........

"Perilous Hills" .... hee hee hee!!!!

Another of my favorites ...... "no scratch"!!! A-ha ha (I know, I'm easily amused. What can I say?! :))

Found this deck of cards at the Xian airport. I was too scared to buy one pack to see what the cards actually pictured!!!

Are they really a deck of cards with pictures of Xian on the backs?? Or the pictures have something to do with "Amorous Feelings"???? I'm a little confused.

And this product ......

Seriously, what IS it?? "Senile Fleck Dispeller Cream" ..... should I have purchased 10 of them???

At the Starbucks in Shanghai:

In Hong Kong .... "healthy dessert"?? Isn't that an oxymoron?? (or it should be for a dessert to be a proper dessert at least!!! :))

In the City of Ghosts on a chairlift up to the temple, running, walking and/or skipping is fine ... but for godsakes, "No Striding"!!!! :)

For those of you familiar with Britain's "Mind the Gap" subway sign .... here's Hong Kong's version:

And also Hong Kong's version of Britain's "Look Right" warning to those of us pedestrians accustomed to cars driving on the right side of the road. (that's "right" as in "not left" ...Just sayin'! :))

And last but not least, clear indications that it was time to go home:

* "Signs" by Five Man Electrical Band