Seriously, is there a computer alive that doesn’t auto-save every few seconds? Yes, there is. I am writing on it at the moment. Geoff will say it has nothing to do with being an Apple product and the problem is with WordPress, our blog provider, but what the %$#@^&**(()^%$*! is what I say! I just finished my blog and am now trying to recreate it after accidentally scrolling down and touching who-knows-what that caused it to disappear! Is there anything more frustrating? No, there is not, not at this moment anyway. So now that I’ve vented my ire, I will try to start again.
We had such a bad flight home from China in July with Air Canada! At the check-in counter in Pudong, the girl clearly was unwilling to help us. We asked about available seats and were told there were none. Meanwhile, we watched as the passenger in the next line-up had her pick of better seats. Once on the plane, the crew was, ahem, elderly and bitchy, and completely indisposed to smiling, being helpful or offering service in anyway. We overheard one stew say disgustedly to the other, “He wants a second bun!” at which my ears perked up as I thought, “You can have a second bun?!” It was the only thing worth eating on the tray! The flight attendants were a hair’s breadth away from openly hostile–we thought it best just to lay low. Our first inkling that things would go better on our return flight was when I approached the desk at the gate to ask if there were any aisle seats available and was told, “No, but these two seats behind the bulkhead are great–you can have them!” Yahoo! The first row behind executive class–leg room! Imagine our delight when we boarded and were met with a smiling, welcoming crew! Even the food tasted better! The only downside were the movies. Unable to sleep, I watched three: The Great Gatsby (up for the worst film of the decade); Parental Guidance (which made me laugh; love Billy Crystal!); and third (which has left me with no memories whatsoever).
We were picked up by the school’s driver and quickly made our way out of Shanghai, but what a discouraging sight–so many trees absolutely crisped by the extended high, high temperatures they had all summer–+40C. When we arrived in Jiaxing, the scene was about the same. For some reason, I had been thinking about our little street sweeper and watching him shake the young ginko trees along Hongbo Lu last Fall to make their leaves fall and his job easier. No problem this year–almost everyone of the trees looks dead, with crisp, brown leaves that are sure to fall soon.
When we got into our apartment, we found almost all our house plants dead. Geoff’s geraniums were crispy brown husks and all but 3 leaves were dried and brown on our expensive orchid and two other plants. Our cheap cactus that I bought from a guy under a bridge over the canal who had picked it up when it fell off a truck was doing fabulously! I have since moved it into the prime viewing location so I can admire it every day and pay no attention to the pathetic few strands of life left in my other pots.
We haven’t been out much but a few things have changed along the walk to school. The third stage of our apartment complex has been under construction since we came here but it looks like it is nearing completion. Today the workers knocked out a few sections of the brick fence to tear down their brutally austere living units so I guess their job is done. Someone else must be on hire to clean up the soil, plant and otherwise beautify the complex. I imagine there are still mini canals to be built and water to be pumped in to recreate a lush and lovely environment.
On the walk home, I noticed a couple collecting the fruit from the street-side ginkos. He was up a tree shaking the branches so the fruit would fall into the back of his Tuk-Tuk, while she picked up any that bounced on the sidewalk. How do I even know ginkos produce fruit? I’d just read a description of it in a novel which said that it is referenced in Shakespeare as medlars or “like” medlars which look like female genitalia and smell like…well, if you step on them they are messy, so there was a pretty serendipitous experience for me! Up to that point, I hadn’t even noticed that they were ginkos, but sure enough, they were. Seriously, does anyone but me notice these things? You have to start walking to work, or wherever you go. It really is very interesting.
We had our usual opening day school wide assembly on Sunday. It was all in Chinese but shorter than last year. One of the big items is to give out the awards they earned last year.
The big event, however was unseen by almost none of the 1800 or so people in attendance. Only Geoff’s sharp eye caught the action. Here is the photo – explanation below.
(Ed. note 1: So I am watching the worker climb the 20 foot ladder to the open window. Just outside the window (no longer visible) is a step ladder (maybe 6 feet or so) on a small overhang. He goes through the window and gets on to the top of the step ladder and tries to pull himself up on to the upper roof (see arrow). Unfortunately, he is not quite tall/strong enough to do so. Undaunted, he ponders things for a moment and then grabs on to the edge of the roof and JUMPS up. Success! He is now on the roof. However, as physics would dictate, leaving the step ladder with some force causes it to fall over. I watch for 45 minutes more and see no little face peering down so I tell one of the teachers about it and they say that they will get someone to help him. Who knows – he may still be up there, but I am fairly certain WorkSafe BC would not be pleased with any number of infractions here.)
(Ed. note 2: For those of you who will not be there, here is sneak peek at Terry’s beautiful new gown for Jelena and Conor’s wedding. If it cools off, she will have the jacket.)