Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hello Kitty!

We shamelessly admit it--we kind of love Hello Kitty! These two little cuties actually have been sitting in our living room on their Chinese mah jong stools since last April when Dale brought them home from a school trip. They have since become somewhat bizarre stand-ins for our future kids from China, and although we think they are great, we are really hoping for the real ones (kids, that is, not cats--got those already!) soon...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Hung Out to Dry

'Tis the season here in Shanghai--our cold, dry winters are the perfect time to start drying your favorite meats...outside on the sidewalk, usually with your skivvies being hung out to dry right next to the meat (bummer that isn't a part of the photo, but I'll make it a mission of mine). This pic only caught ducks, unidentified sausage, fish and a garbage bag?? Truth be told, we were on our way to our favorite breakfast hangout down the road from our apartment, and on the way, my plan was to take the photo of the drying meat; however, there was an addition to the selection: dog. Hmmm, not something everyone wants to see, so I waited on the photo until after breakfast. On our way home, the hanging dog was gone. Hmmm...a good thing perhaps for the weak of stomach reading our blog, but where did it go? Taken in for lunch? Chinese don't have any qualms with selling dog and eating dog, but Dale is rethinking his meals he had at this restaurant after soccer games.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lantern Festival

China's population of 1.3 billion in total and about 20 million here in Shanghai alone often keeps Dale and me inside during big festival times, but I braved it this year for the chance to see the lantern festival. A few friends and I headed down to this cool place called Yu Yuan to check out the lantern display this year. Yu Yuan is a touristy area that has buildings with Chinese curved roofs, lots of things to buy, ever-popular dumpling shops and, of course, the requisite Starbucks that one seems to see about every 20 ft. in China. It was gorgeous and something out of Disneyland's "It's a Small World," surreal and loud and fabulous. And, yet again, PIGS, PIGS, PIGS! Here is a picture of me in front of the zodiac paper lantern wheel. This will have to become a tradition here in Shanghai every year from now on...

Monday, February 19, 2007

Cultural Differences in Toothpaste?

Wow--we have discovered that blogs are super easy and we can finally get back in touch with family and friends after years of being very lame at communicating, so be prepared for an onslaught in these first few days. We figure this can be a means of sharing random China happenings and then morph into a page to share pics of the girls when they arrive (their cuteness might make our stories pale in comparison!)

OK, random China story--I find China to be similar to the US in that there is an abundance of choices when going to the grocery store. When we lived in Africa and South America, we just simply didn't have an entire aisle of laundry detergent or anything else like in the US, and so our decision making was quite simple! However, here in China, there are lots of different brands and choices, but the tricky part is that everything is in Chinese, so the decisions become that much more challenging...

One day, we ran out of toothpaste, so I went to the store in our 'hood and looked at all the types (as you can see, CREST is the only English!) and found one with this leaf on it. Mint? Wintergreen? Something of the sort, I assumed...

Brushing my teeth later that night, I was completely taken by surprise with the flavor. What the heck was it? Something my taste buds could not register--not anything like mint, and also very unappealing to me. Turns out it was GREEN TEA flavor!!!!

An extra dose of humor is that Dale was at band practice when I discovered the "green tea surprise." As the ever-loving wife that I am, I left a note on the bathroom mirror and went to bed. I awoke to the screams (mumbled, of course, b/c of a mouth full of toothpaste!) of Dale discovering, too, the joys of green tea toothpaste.

Let's just say green tea is a very popular flavor here from ice cream to toothpaste, but not one of our favorites. I have since seen strawberry, honey, lemon and orange flavored Crest, and we haven't even begun telling you about the Shanghai summertime favorite---corn ice cream!

Dale's New Band

Dale is currently playing guitar in a band with a bunch of international guys--British, American, and Croatian--at a British pub here in Shanghai. Called Midlife Crisis, they play straight up rock and roll and blues and throw in the random mid-90's angst-ridden love song. It's taken a while, but Dale's finally found the "good times" band he has been looking for since we left Cameroon almost four years ago. The band plays every other Friday night at the pub called the Thirsty Monk.

And besides Midlife Crisis, Dale is gearing up for hosting a St. Patrick's Day music party at our local bar called the Happen Bar where Dale hosts an open mic each month.
The year of the golden pig is shaping up nicely for Dale music-wise! (insert British accent here) Raiiiight!

Year of the Golden Pig

As we ushered in the Year of the Pig yesterday, all of China is even more excited than usual b/c it is the year of the Golden Pig. From what I am understanding, this happens only once every 60 years and is something about the end of the 12 year cycle. Whatever it means, there are pigs everywhere (not real ones, although there are those as well, but usually seen here in the back of a truck on their way to...don't really want to know where, actually). Big, larger than life papier-mache pigs in front of malls, pigs that look very similar to our Porky Pig, pigs, pigs, pigs! Dale and I always love this time of year in China b/c everyone is giddy with excitement and there are fireworks at all hours of the day. And I mean GOOD fireworks, like our fourth of July fireworks, not wimpy bottle rockets. Dale got a chance to watch the 360 degree display in our neighborhood and got some great pics and videos. I, unfortunately, was on my library class phone conference at 12 midnight, so I only heard the sounds. Definitely not as much fun!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Entering the 21st Century!

Wow! We have a blog...maybe now this can make up for all our years of not sending holiday cards and we can reenter old friends' lives!

Our thinking was to start this to document our travels, life here in China, and then hog most of the space for our little Chinese cuties when they arrive. By the way, we are thinking now that they will arrive around March. Until then, enjoy the last vestiges of Tara and Dale as a pretty relaxed, chilled couple living life in Shanghai.