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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Eating a Different Pyramid

I have been doing the super low carbohydrate diet for just over a month, and overall it is a lot easier than I thought it would be to manage, once you get used to the fact that the food pyramid is now almost upside down from where I started.  Fruits? Bad.  Vegetables?  Mostly okay.  Even cabbage has to be tracked, though.  And fat and protein galore!  Which is a bit of a challenge for me when left to my own devices because I have almost no experience cooking meat.
The hardest things are two-fold.  The first is that when cooking for a crowd, you really do need a side dish that is a carb or the meal seems lopsided.  We had a dinner for an out-of-town guest and the people who invited him to come this week and my spouse took a large scoop of risotto before he realized that is off the list of acceptable foods.  Oops!  The other is that eating in restaurants can be a little tricky.  Interestingly, the higher end the restaurant, the better the choices.  In some places, salad is the only real option.  In others, where there are good low carb meat options, but you can get caught.  I ordered scallops and they came with a bit of bread crumbs on them.  I ate them, because I am not going to be a crazy woman when it comes to all this, but my first thought was "what??".  And my second thought was that the prosciutto and spinach deviled eggs were delicious and that I am going to have to make them at home.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Grand Canal, As Seen from Souzhou, China

The Grand Canal is the longest man made waterway in the world.  It was built in the Sui dynasty (600 CE) and runs between Hanzhou and Beijing.  In the Song dynasty (10th C) an engineer, Qiao Weiyue, invented the lock, and allowed ships to navigate the length of the canal.  Is it any wonder that when the Chinese sailed the world, long before Europeans did, that they saw nothing that impressed them?  No, it really isn't.  They were just so far ahead of the rest of us.  This canal was used to transport goods up and down China, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.  And very lovely to sit along side and watch the boats go by.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Tian'ai, The Shanghai Road of Love

 Graffiti is not widely tolerated on China, but this street in the Hongkuo district is an exception to that rule.  Hongkuo has long been home to the different in Shanghai.  It is where immigrants are drawn to today, but there was a time when that was where they were allowed to be.  So a street that is all about love does seem to belong there.  On one side of the street there are these bold paintings that are loosely love themed.  Some of them are gentle and romantic, and others, like the one pictured on the right, are bold and challenging.  The street is not very long, but it holds a lot of visual stimuli.
The left side of the street is decorated with love poems.  These are printed on plaques with traditional shapes.  The poetry is from around the world.  I found one by Pablo Neruda.  This side of the street is delicate and almost tender.  And then, at the very end of the street, is a green freestanding mailbox, where it is traditional to mail your love letter from.  We saw people stopping in front of it to have their picture taken there.  It is all a bit of free fun and I highly recommend it.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Make Earth Day About Science

The new administration has been very successful at activating the usually somewhat lackadaisical amongst us to be more involved in telling our legislators what it is that we want.  And that is just about the only good thing that I can see having come out of the most recent election. The terrible horrible no good thing about it is that many of the efforts  the Obama administration made to help prepare us for a future where renewable sources of energy are highly sought after have been cut off at the knees.  The effect of climate denial is not just a poor choice for the planet, it is a poor choice for those who hope to see a manufacturing resurgence in the United States.  Coal may or may not make a brief comeback, but it is just that.  A short term solution to very deep and long problem that won't go away by making fun of it, as #45 is doing.  Sadly, it is the people who voted hi in as their savior who are most likely to suffer the consequences.  So today, stand up for science.  And pray for a better tomorrow.

Friday, April 21, 2017

It is New Year's Everywhere


 So much celebrating!  I had no idea what a huge holiday New Year's (or what is also known as the Spring Festival) is in China until spending two weeks there in the midst of it.  The whole country is taken up with it for weeks.  The only thing that I have seen that is similar is Christmas time in Latin America.  The whole country is on the move, everyone returning home to spend time with family and to celebrate.  The decorations abound and the shops are closed, or at least half of them are.  Even the street vendors are away.
The peacefulness of the crowded streets, and the sensation of being very close to others without feeling pushed or shoved is very nice.  I was at a tea house in a crowded part of the old town in Shanghai, and it was just packed, with a long slow line to look at various decorations.  But not once did I feel uncomfortable, and when the line wound it's way to the front of the tea house, we went in and enjoyed an interlude there, looking down on the crowd.  It was quietly joyous, and it was very nice to be a part of that.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

It has been a month since I had my end of treatment visit.  We did not have a big talk.  In many ways, it was a long time coming and chemotherapy was definitely taking its toll on me in a lot of little ways.  But the thing about getting it is that you feel like you are actively doing something.  Intellectually I know that is faulty thinking.  It is certainly true that I have been pretty beat up by chemo this past year and a half, and a break in that has been a long time coming.  People ask me if it is fatiguing, and I really can't say with certainty.  But the fact of the matter is that when you finish, all there is left to do is wait, and that is very hard indeed.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Framing Nature in a Chinese Garden

 On my recent trip to China I spent a lot of time walking, period.  The two days that we spent with people who had grown up in China, the very first thing that we did was to walk through gardens.  If you want to know something about the culture of China, pay attention to what they want their visitors to see.  The ingenuity and artistry of these gardens in creating spaces that are intentionally staged but remarkably beautiful and restful abounds in the Shanghai area.
This is just one of literally hundreds of examples that I saw of beautiful frames the natural world.  Chinese gardens have a lot of imported rock formations that are designed to accentuate and in some cases, to create a focal point for the framing.  These rocks are interesting in and of themselves, and they also work well with trees and flowers to create memorable peaceful portraits that can change with the season.
In one garden we were in, I saw people getting photographs of loved ones that utilized these beautiful frames for the portrait.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

I Saw The Light (2016)

This is a painful movie to watch, but is still well worth it, especially if you have a soft spot for some of his music.   Hank Williams Jr, had a lot of self confidence and a dream of performing at the Grand Ole Opry from an early age.  He also had a need to be married but not the concomitant need to be faithful to said wife.  His first marriage was very tumultuous as a result.  He also had a very bad drinking problem at a very young age, which led to a number of other problems, none of which are side stepped in the movie.
Williams was a songwriter and a performer with equal parts talent at both.  He wrote memorable songs with his own stamp on them--but the drink is what took him down, and he died at the young age of 29 years.  I had no idea the scope of what he wrote that I like, and no idea that he died so young.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sage Cherry Vodka Cocktail

My kids got a cocktail of the month kit for my spouse for his birthday this year and April is vodka month.  This cocktail, called "Under Sage Drinking", was a very good start.

2 oz. Vodka
1 Tbsp. Cherry Preserves
1/4 oz. Elderflower Syrup
1 oz. Meyer Lemon Juice
4 Sage leaves

Add ingredients to an ice filled cocktail shaker, saving two of the sage leaves out.  Shake vigorously for 30 seconds, then strain into ice filled glasses and serve.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Shanghai Longtangs

I love this picture, because while their time may be limited in the new China, the longtang or alley, is an oft seen phenomenon, and they also have a much more urban landscape (see the skyscraper in the background?  That is the norm, not the exception).  The old ways mixed in with the new.  These alleyways bustle with activity.  The comings and goings are frequent, but the longtang forms a neighborhood of sorts, a community that is not the same as what you would have if you moved into and apartment building.
The thing that I do not know is how does a person rate such a dwelling, versus those that live in more modern but also more congested apartment buildings.  I would be far happier myself living with less newness and more tradition. Here, amidst China's impressive surge of urbanizing its population over a very short time period, there are still vestiges of the way things used to be in the 1930's heyday of Old Shanghai.