29 April, 2017


Due to a minor miscalculation, tomorrow will be the skipped posting day, not today. Our trip is not today and tomorrow, but tomorrow and Monday. Monday might be missed as well, depending on our return time. That said, here are my thoughts on movies I watch repeatedly without tiring.

I could re-watch any of the Star Wars movies over and over and never tire of them.
I mean, obviously. Check out my avi.

Very few new movies strike me that way. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is one that I can re-watch, not because I love it or think it's a great film, but because I know it, love the book it's based on, and can leave it on in the background while I do other things. But for the most part, if I watch a movie repeatedly, it's an old classic.

Older than Star Wars. Well, except The Princess Bride. I don't know when that came out, but I'm sure it was more recent than 1977. I can quote that one top to bottom.

I've seen Bridge on the River Kwai enough times I can almost recite it. Same with Doctor Zhivago (both directed by David Lean, incidentally). Breakfast at Tiffany's and Casablanca are two more movies I know extremely well.

Of newer movies? Red. The A-Team. Those we have for "everyday". They're at least since the turn of the century, right? 

I guess this was kind of a blah writing prompt for me. I can give you a list as long as my arm of movies I watch over and over without getting tired of them, because when I like a movie, that's what I do! Why not go with a sure thing instead of try to watch some new thing that's horrible? Do you agree?

28 April, 2017

An Exciting Trip is Coming! I Just Wish I Knew to Where

I'm combining the next two posts from this writing challenge into one. So follow along, it may get convoluted. 

Could I write two posts and just schedule one to go up tomorrow? Yes. But this isn't a moderated challenge and there's no prize. I'm doing it for myself, so if I can't write tomorrow, why pretend?

"But Red, Why 'can't' you write tomorrow?" you ask?

Because we have to meet the bus at 8am. Which brings me to Writing Prompt 1: Something I am excited about.

We are going on a two day (one night) trip out of the city! Yea! I'm very excited to see any part of China that isn't Beijing, just because we so rarely can do that. 

Which brings me to Writing Prompt 2: Five Blessings in your Life.

Blessing 1) I am blessed to travel so widely. Personally, I believe travel is a choice. Both Brett and I know people who express jealousy over our adventures, when really, before moving here, most "adventures" were within a day trip of home. It is not impossible to travel, but I do acknowledge that it takes planning and you have to make it a priority. 

Even moving to Beijing - also a choice - I understand is an easier choice for those of us with no kids, and no deep ties to place. Also because we are in good health. Leading me to...

Blessing 2) I'm in good health. I suffer from no chronic physical ailments, aside from having horrible vision. Nothing requiring complicated or expensive medication. Aside from the occasional cold, I'm fit as a fiddle. All my limbs function well, too.

I have often noted to myself since living here, how very very blessed I am that both of my legs function without assistance. Although, obviously, there are Chinese people who require wheelchairs or crutches or canes, to move as a foreigner to this city where walking is not an option would be an extreme difficulty I would not wish for. Legs are so very important here! If yours work, take a moment to be thankful! Which ties back into the story of this exciting trip...

This? Maybe!
Not only are we getting out of the city, we are going out INTO THE GRASSLAND! Something about a farm, and we will be horseback riding tomorrow afternoon! I'm very excited. I like riding horses, but have only done it about twice since middle school. Now I'm no expert equestrian, but I believe this activity would be nigh impossible without complete control of my legs! (see how I tied it together?)

Blessing 3) is that Brett and I travel well together. Ha! Obviously we made it halfway around the world! Seriously, though, we discovered this early in our dating, which has made our adventures even better. Enough said.

While on this weekend excursion, on the second day we will visit "The Great Kahn Palace". This is the first I've heard of it, and I don't have much time to do research in advance, so I'm grateful for...

Blessing 4) An inquisitive and intelligent brain. Holy crap, you guys, with little time this evening, a quick search for "Great Khan Palace" brings up "Kublai Khan" in the first mentions. THIS IS ONE OF MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE POEMS! Not that I'm a huge poetry reader, but this one is it. "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree..."
Not what I'd call a dome... but poetic license, yada-yada...

Xanadu = Shangdu according to my very quick search.

Kublai Khan, dubbed "China's favorite barbarian" by BBC.

If this is the right place, it was from the Mongol empire! The very people that caused the Great Wall to be built - to keep them out! I really need to know more Chinese history. But I think this is right.
GENGHIS KAHN - wait...what?

Just informed by our guide: It's Genghis Khan's palace. Still, Mongol!

And honestly, China is completely unlike anyplace else. It seems virtually untouched by the western world in its history and culture. Everything I see and learn here is 100% new and unique and fascinating. So Genghis, Kubla, whatev.

Blessing 5) I'm blessed to have this blog. Right now? How this ties to this trip? If I wasn't writing this very blog-post, I probably would never have done any brief research at all, and just gotten on with packing and eating, and resting because I'm getting over a cold.

I'm so freaking excited. The Mongols are coming!

27 April, 2017

Life Twists

The biggest transforming incident of my life, I am convinced, was when I chucked it all and drove east at 25. I didn't know where I was headed, but I knew I wasn't happy where I was!

"Your job's a joke, you're broke, your love-life's DOA. 
It's like you're always stuck in 2nd gear. When it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year..."

Sound familiar? Besides being the "Friends" theme song, that pretty well describes the way I felt at that time.

WHAT IF... I hadn't moved?
What if I let the fear tell me I needed a plan?
What if I had actually talked to someone - anyone - before taking the plunge? I doubt anyone in my life at the time would have encouraged such a foolhardy choice.

I was stuck living out other people's goals for me, trying to do "the right thing" with my life, and going nowhere. 
Afraid to get a real job, I kept working on campus and going to school.
My "relationship" if you can call such a one-sided business that, was truly DOA. 

I was going nowhere fast... stuck in second gear!

This "what if" is one that has occurred to me so many times:

If I... never moved to Pennsylvania, I wouldn't have been transferred to Delaware - my home for the longest time, and a place I truly love.
If I... never worked for a state park, I would never have seen an ad for an Environmental Studies degree and gone to Grad School.
If I... hadn't lived in Delaware, I probably wouldn't have been so open and honest on The Transformed Non-conformist blog, and Brett definitely wouldn't have been so fearless in flirting with me... 900 miles away! 
IF WE... never met... never married... my life would be much less colorful.

I doubt I would have done much. I wouldn't have realized what I really can do! I had to fend for myself for the first time, and I succeeded! When people tell me I'm strong, or confident, or independent, the biggest reason is because I forced myself to do it.

I will always encourage people to take the scary option. Don't say you are stuck. 
Don't ever say that or think it. 
Your perfect option may not be available, but there is ALWAYS an alternative.

So tell me, what is something that makes you wonder "what if..."

25 April, 2017

Cleaner, Greener, Leaner

We're killing our planet. We are. Can it recover? Probably, but if things don't change, it will only recover after all the planet-killing humans are dead, boiled away in space on an overheated planet, or after the next major war eliminates everyone.

I'm not going to quote scientific articles here, mostly because this is a BLOG, not a scientific journal. However, I have studied this, and the fact that so many people are waiting for "more science" is just a subtle way to maintain a current lifestyle without thinking about it.

WHILE waiting for "more science", it certainly doesn't hurt to stop trashing the place!

We see and know that air pollution is bad. Why should we wait around for "more science" to clean up the air? Fish are over-harvested and are smaller now than they were years ago for that reason. Why should we wait around for "more science" to set realistic limits? Or to curtail water pollution?

The planet IS warming. The oceans ARE rising. Do we want to wait until we have measurable feet of rising oceans to begin changing things? Because by that time it may be too late! I get that the people on the "wait and see" side expect that this is a phase. If the planet has been through this before, we aren't to blame. But the fact of the incredible speed with which this warming and rising has happened - since the industrial revolution, roughly - should indicate that even if this is a phase, it has been exacerbated by human involvement.

Lightening our footprint is never a bad idea.

Water is a finite resource.
Oil is a finite resource.

Learning how to purify water to make it potable will ultimately be more valuable to more people than simply digging more and deeper wells until we run completely out.
Testing and finding better fuel sources than oil is a great idea and one that needs to be encouraged instead of making the alternative energy sources more expensive.

I do not have the answer. For every solution there is another drawback. But surely we have to try? I feel utterly helpless in this regard. AND I feel like a lone voice sometimes, based upon my peer group.

Today's post brought to you by the prompt "something you feel strongly about".

24 April, 2017

Wisdom for all Ages

When I get a cold, it takes over all of me. I am the worst. I'm also on my 5th cold since moving to Beijing and seriously thinking it's not me, it's the place. 

Suffering through a stopped nose and a fuzzy brain, when asked what words of wisdom speak to me, the best and brightest gem that floats to the top is:

Starve a cold, Feed a fever.
I know, that's not "wisdom" per se, but it has stuck. 

For the longest time, I couldn't keep it straight in my head which got starved, but then a few years ago I read something about cold remedies. Ahem, ahem, ahem...

A COLD is a virus. Viruses love the sugar your body turns food into. Eating sugar or simple carbs that turn into sugar is bad. 

A FEVER means that your body is fighting off an infection of some sort. Your body uses energy to do this, so it needs you to fuel it appropriately.

Should you fast when you're sick? Of course not. But I like this logical way to think about it: eat less to feed a virus, but keep your body fueled for a fever.

23 April, 2017

The Struggle is Real

"Share something you struggle with."

BAHAhahahahaha! I moved to China 7 months ago. I could make this a list of the chaos of big and small hurdles that require maximum agility to survive. 
But I won't. That would just annoy me. Humor is better. 

There is one thing that is a daily struggle in my life, regardless of where I live. It is a part of married life, I suppose, and perhaps you can relate:


Yes, I married a blanket hog. It's a sad tale, but true. Love him as much as I do, a part of me catches a draft several times a night as he rolls over and takes the blankets with him. We celebrate our 3rd anniversary next week - just THREE YEARS! - and we have already discussed the need for single beds. 

The struggle is real.

First, he is bigger than I, so I recognize that it takes greater blanketal area to cover his body than mine. Add to that the fact that he wraps himself around both a large pillow and a bunched up quilt, and the volume of his space that the blankets must cover is doubled.

Then, that pillow and quilt act like velcro on the cotton duvet cover and grab onto it with each somnolent movement.

I know he tries to be careful. He wakes up to turn over, and tries to keep that velcro action from happening, and cautiously rolling without taking the blankets along. But inevitably I awaken too, either to grab tight hold on my end of the blanket and hold it in place, or with a freezing shoulder, arm, or hip - whichever is exposed.

Do we need a larger blanket? Yes. But the bed is not very high, and I don't want it dragging on the floor. We actually added a fleece blanket on top, which gives several additional inches on each side. It does help, but not completely.
This is us in a few years.

There is no resolution. Only separate beds will fix this.

22 April, 2017

The Music of My Life

I'm not up on popular music. Heck. I live in China. A prompt asking my favorite current music is kind of moot.

Lucky for you, I was raised in a musical family. There is always music in my head even if I can't hear it with my ears.

Just today, I belted out, along with iheart radio the version of Nearer My God To Thee by Vocal Point. This is not a hymn I've ever really liked - kind of slow and dirge-like, usually. But I will always crank up this a capella version.

Listen or watch, here.
I love the counterpoint of that pulsing Latin chorus running all the way through. (My mom does not like this version. I guess it's "too weird.")

Lately, Phantom of the Opera songs have been parading through my head in succession. This is my favorite musical, which I've sadly never actually seen. I've even read the original book, which just adds depth to my love for this. It's actually a heartbreaking love story. I played the soundtrack again a few days after we saw a Chinese Opera, and suddenly wish that it would play here and I could take my musical Chinese friend to see it.

Sadly, I can't find any decent versions on youtube to share here, and I don't know how to drop in a sound file from my computer. You just have to imagine it.

Then, yesterday, randomly, while Brett and I were standing at a bus-stop, something reminded me of narwhals and we were singing that song.

Remember this? It was in an ad in the US last year.

But growing up, we all learned piano and sang in church choirs, from a young age. Mom had a huge Reader's Digest music collection of hits from all different eras. In high school I impressed a friend by knowing all the words to "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head", "Blue Moon", and "The Beer Barrel Polka." Including multiple verses, the bridge, etc.

So many of these have fun little stories within the lyrics. I love it.

Those are just songs. I love classical music, and going to the symphony brings me joy. Number one favorite is Sheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov, but my favorite composer overall is Beethoven. His music resonates with me and definitely affects my mood when I listen.

What about you? Do you have favorite songs, or musicians? What is your go-to music?