Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mack Makes a Discovery

Little "Mack" comes to visit

Something is Moving

Discovering what's new in
Auntie Carol and Uncle Gordon's courtyard...
through the eyes of Little "Mack" our 18 month-old buddy.

See? Right there!
Ten Fish!
Here, Fishy, Fishy, Fishy, Fishy! *
Half of a pomegranate...

Okay, what else is there to do around here?

Hey Casey, let's go find a Bigger Fish Pond!

Fun to feed the Fish, but really HARD to let go of the Bread.

Our courtyard pond has been replenished with 10 new koi.**  We haven't named them, just in case the culprit who 'took-off' with the last batch returns; cat? heron? roving neighbor?   The new batch swims in a healthy environment because we spotted a six-inch crawfish in the pond this past weekend! 

 Nature is amazing! - and so is Little "Mack!"

Thanks for Reading,


Next week is Golden Week - a National Holiday in China. 
There are live fish reasonably priced for sale...I may have to have just a few more!

*  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUusX1Js6R0
** http://cricketsvoice.blogspot.com/2011/06/pond-scum.html

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tai Chi and Me

Tai Chi Circle Drill

I'm half-way around the world and learning new things and trying new things almost on a daily basis.  I started out this Monday morning at 8:15 am with an outdoor Tai Chi Class. 

An ancient Asian exercise system, Tai Chi uses slow, smooth body movements to achieve a state of relaxation of both body and mind.  It is also a martial arts form, but not on day number one in Nanjing, China.

Tai Chi uses the following moves:

  • Slowness. To develop awareness. 

  • Lightness. To make movements flow. 

  • Balance. To prevent body strain. 

  • Calmness. To maintain continuity. 

  • Clarity. To focus the mind

  • Four of us faced east in a courtyard on what is the first breezy and cool day in Nanjing in months. The lack of humidity was awesome and a light jacket proved a necessary accessory.   The breeze was cleansing and Du Yi Sheng (Dr. Du) contorted my arms in a circle of fluid motion.  I closed my eyes to help memorize the movement and feel the satin-smooth breeze.  This took me to a place I like to go to when I'm outside looking at a rising moon or a setting sun.  I can't help but reflect that this will be the SAME moon and sun that my family and friends across the planet will see within 12 hours or less, day or night.  Today's China morning breeze was commissioned to speed along my windy wish that all is well with each of you.

    That thought process seemed to coincide with the "flow" that Du Yi Sheng was demonstrating.  Allow the energy from the air and wind and earth to fill your extremities with life. Inhale slowly and exhale completely. Unclench your hand, spread your fingers and reach. Let life's energy enter into each finger and breath. Don't clutch life with a clenched fist or jaw, allow life to flow into you. Plant your feet on solid ground from which energy flows. It felt like meditation with some very structured, yet fluid movement.  


    Many of the moves were done in rotating circles.  Significant to the circle of life and the way energy should flow throughout each of us, back to the earth and back to us again.  Du Yi Sheng chanted some of this with each circular move,  "Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter."  "Morning, Noon, Evening, Night."  "Yi, Er, San, Si." (one, two, three, four)

    Tense shoulders are the norm for me.  I wasn't surprised that he caught on to this and asked me to "loosen your shoulders" which I did immediately each time he said it.  What surprised me was how quickly my shoulders would tense up again without me recognizing it.  Politely, he would repeat the command.

    Du Yi Sheng was 'hell-bent' on having my shoulders relaxed and my feet planted firmly on Pearl S.Buck's Good Earth*.  My spine should remain erect, my face forward and my elbows bent and moving as I breathed in and out with my tongue gently placed at the top of my upper palate.  That's about 5 more directions then I can accomplish in a 7-direction command, by the way.  Oh...and don't forget to give a wee smile. Tan gardeners walked past in their straw hats pulling green two-wheeled carts and didn't even smirk at today's show. That's composure, people.

    Then came the balancing act of having one leg with knee bent balancing and dangling in the air as the other was planted on the ground.  Believe it or not I could do this.  Not for a LONG time, but I could do this.  He walked in front of each of us to test our "dangle."  We all passed without skinning our noses on the cement.

    This may sound like a generalization but it is descriptive to say that many Chinese people are not gentle with words or volume.  They almost "bark" at each other as they speak. They aren't necessarily angy with each other, they just communicate this way.  Our instructor was much different in his speech and actions.  Never a scowl...never a loud or sharp tone.  That alone was refreshing and makes me want to go again to his Tai Chi session. 

     He said to me as I left, "You be sore in the night time but you sleep very good."  

    My dear neighbor who invited me to the class said, "Carol, this is such a gentle 'sport' that you could do it in a wheelchair."

     Let's hope it doesn't come to that by sunrise....

    Thanks for Reading,



    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    And so it Begins...

    School has begun in much of the United States, Across the World, and of course here in China.  There is excitement from children and parents and anticipation by their teachers.  So much to learn, isn't there?

    Last week, our son-in-law, our son, and my dear husband, the Big Guy, were teaching and training classes of  adult learners within the same week!  I just HAD to share the photos of each of my guys being "lǎoshīs" - teachers. I'm very proud of each of them and if you know me at all, you know I can wear button-busting PROUD with panache!

    Son-in-law Josh -  at Mount St. Mary's University
    Los Angeles, California

    Our Son Garrett-"Train the Trainer"- for Apple, Inc.
    Austin, Texas

    Big Guy at Ford - "Negotiations Training"
    Authored and Presented

    We're putting the Mandarin Lessons with patient Stefanie on hold for a week of learning outside of our home and away from the Power Point presentations.

    After a full 5-months of living in Nanjing, China, the Big Guy and I are about to practice our tourist skills and learn more about China.  We're not going that far, just Xi'an and Shanghai, but we're packing sensible shoes and heading out of our little bubble of comfort.  Yes, it's time.

    Our first house guest, Linda from the USA, will arrive late Thursday evening in Shanghai after her flight from Detroit, Michigan and a three hour car ride to our home. Linda will grace our guest suite on a level all to herself. The towels are fluffed, the closet re-arranged for open space and her request of Crystal Light and an appointment for a Thai Massage on Friday will be granted. She will meet our friends, "the Normals,"  Ford co-workers who all arrived for a China assignment about the same time, an extended family of sorts, all "Embracing the New Normal in Nanjing!"  We'll attend an open house, strut about town and welcome her to the sights and sounds "Watch your Step!" that we have come to embrace.

    Linda is our impetus for our September learning.  She is well-traveled and confident and wants to see the terracotta soldiers in Xi'an and so we will.  We will head there by plane on Sunday. Our guide is in place and sounds like a colorful soul that I'm sure I'll be blogging about.  I'll be reporting back on what we see and do. More specifically I will share what we learn while there. I fully expect to put the Nikon to good use in doing so.  Slide Show! 

    We're never too old to learn something new and take wee risks to learn MUCH! 

    So... Happy New School Year to those who "get" that learning never stops and return to Cricket's Voice to learn something next time about Xi'an and those terracotta soldiers!


    Thanks for Reading,


    p.s. Linda is afraid of dogs...
    Our little dog is a yapping terror until she understands that the guest is here to stay and didn't arrive to drag her "peeps" out the door and down a path to their demise.   We will rise above this...we will rise above this...we will rise...