21 May, 2017

Fuzzy Truth - FiveMinuteFriday

Just a short Five-Minute Friday post. On these posts, I follow the one-word prompt from Kate at Heading Home.  
If you want to join, click that link to her blog. Every Friday is a new word, and the only rules are:  Write for 5 minutes.  Link your post on hers.  (You have a whole week to get your post up.)

It's pretty cool, and I find a new blog every week.

This week's one-word is "Truth". 

Timer starting...

My best friend is a real stickler for the truth. She will cut you out of her life if she catches you in a lie... maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but she won't trust you again. That lie will kick you in the shins for the rest of your relationship. I've seen it happen.

My husband is a great story-teller. He prefers to tell it the way it is funniest. He's popular on social media, and makes friends easily. When it counts, face to face, he's honest. He just has a fuzzy idea on the value of truth. It took me a while to get completely comfortable with that.

Which is best? Personally, I can't lie. Is that why I'm not nearly as popular as my husband on social media, and I struggle to make friends? I don't think so.

Truth is, I've gotten better at appreciating the moment for the moment. I'm trying to learn to accept things that happen and let go of the things that I only wished to happen. My will cannot change what is.

It might change the way I remember something happening, but the truth is, in fact, the truth. The truth is not what I over-analyze it to be even!

What is, is. I pray that it is right.

Stop timer.

18 May, 2017


I'm uninspired, so I'd better just write, right?

Now that my challenge is over, I have to make up my own stuff to write, I guess. Since people seem to appreciate my writing about things that are different in China from the US, I'll start there. Let's talk Tea.

Here, anything can be tea. The Chinese serve hot water all the time, but if you are in your own home or office, you may add something to it. Not just tea! Flowers or dried fruits are common.

Right now, we are looking at a series of 100-degree days, and there was still a huge thermos of hot water in my office this morning. They believe that drinking warm water is better for your stomach - less of a shock to the system or something. I'm used to it by now, but in this heat? Ugh. I poured some, and left it to cool to room temperature during my first class.
My tea, right now.

However, now that I've come home and had a couple glasses of normal water, I'm actually having some tea. (I'll let it cool a bit.) I was turned on to Chrysanthemum tea by my tea lady. After trying it and deciding this mild, pale (not even as colorful as the palest pinot grigio), flower was something I could drink regularly, I did some research.

Chrysanthemum tea is not just mild and easy on the stomach (lack of tannins), but it is good for the heart, liver, and kidneys! Go me! Also, it has "heat-reducing" properties - good for fever or heat rash, or, I'm hoping just being hot from 100-degree temps!

So when you hear the phrase "all the tea in China" just remember that all the tea in China includes more than just tea! I've even made "tea" out of orange rinds and cinnamon sticks! It'll knock your socks off.

15 May, 2017

The Goal Post

Haha. Goal Post. Like a football goal-post, get it? I got the jokes today.

Not really. The prompt is "What are your goals for the next 30 days?" So since I'm setting goals today, I wanted a title that I can easily find to check back on myself.

(Weak beginning, step it up, Red.)

First, I have been successfully posting every day, even when it's kind of crap. But I have been only so-so about checking in with the blogs I follow, and I want to fix that. So I think for the next 30 days I should intentionally visit my reading list daily. It's not realistic to check out every new post every day, but I will visit at least one from my reading list every day. And I need to update the blogroll on this page, to the right.

Second, I need to broaden my horizons. I will visit a new blog every day. My hopeful goal is to find at least one a week to ADD to my reading list. That would be cool. (Ann Bennett, if you are reading this, please provide your blog link!)

Those are blogging goals. In life, there are a few things I need to do within the next month.

PRIMARY TARGET - Tickets. We are planning a return visit to the US, and it is causing me deep depression and anxiety. Nothing is easy here, and somehow, planning a trip is even worse than getting a work visa! I hate it, and I typically love planning... I can feel my pulse racing just writing about it. But I MUST get our tickets this week. Today if possible. This was on my to-do list for last week, but when I went to buy them I found more hoops to jump through and these are on fire. 
Just shoot me now. :-(

Work Target - My final TKT test is in June. This is a 3-part test that provides me with a certificate saying I am qualified to teach English. I did the first two parts in December. I have about a month to finish the workbook in preparation for the final test.

Finally, the school year will end for me within the next 30 days and I am looking forward to never teaching again! That's not the goal, though. The woman who has been our primary contact in placing us in schools knows I will not be teaching next term, and I look forward to building a friendship with her without the strain of work. She is very sweet and kind and smart, but as our main contact, she hears all the complaints. 

Friends are good. I'm looking forward to meeting this goal. What about you? As summer begins, what do you have on the agenda?

14 May, 2017


I'm in another slump, where trying to list things I enjoy is a good idea and might help, so I'm actually doing this prompt... if I can. They want FIVE things that make me LOL. Hmmm...

Here in China, I have to say, the off-color accidental misspellings make me laugh out loud. Or not even misspellings, but statements that would be off-color in the States and nobody knows the difference here.

Like the student with the legend "F*** Off" written across the knees of his pants. Seriously.  A 6-yr-old.

Or the teenager wearing a T-shirt telling the world "This body's for you" - really? For whom?

The examples are endless.

Secondly, my own typos often cause me to laugh out loud. It's fairly lonely in my head, and sometimes while proofing my own work at the engineering firm in Indy, I'd see something I wrote incorrectly that made an audible laugh escape my lips. No one around would understand if I explained, but it amused me!

Third, Douglas Adams' writing style. I'm currently re-reading So Long and Thanks for All the Fish and frequently laugh out loud. Actually there are several authors that do this: Jenny Lawson and Dave Barry come to mind. One time in the 90s I laughed out loud to Dave Barry while sitting at a bus-stop. The people around me were very curious what was causing my reaction!

That's all I can think of. Some TV shows do, my husband does, but I can't think of particular reasons that cause the laughter. 

... this is not my best work. As I think of better examples, I might update this post.

13 May, 2017

The Best Ever!

In contrast to yesterday, the prompt is to write about a part of my life that's kicking butt.
Easy Peasey.

I have a great job.
I had a great job in the States before we moved to China, too, but that was different. 

I work at the office of a publishing company, and speak English. I'm their English expert. My degree is in business communication - focus on written - so this is actually perfectly suited to my skills and education.

They have video-recorded me reading story books for young children just learning English, and we are in the process of scripting little videos that incorporate their beginning English curriculum, for very young learners. There are several other story book series' on tap for future recording, too.

I lead a conversational English chat group, where I teach parents short statements they can use specifically with their children, to help the kids practice English in the home. Things like "Zip up your coat" or "Breakfast is ready!" 

I have already gone through the English version of their website, to make it readable. Chinese is a very concise language, and a strict translation that you get from a translating app does not often make any kind of sense. So I was given the Chinese text, the literal English translation, and went through and added punctuation, articles, prepositions, everything to make it read well to an English speaker.

When my boss first hired me, she mentioned, "And maybe someday you will write a book, and we can publish it!" I don't know about all that, but I'd love to do some of their editing. 

The office has just a few employees, only one of whom speaks English fluently (besides the boss). It's easy to focus because I'm not distracted. Everyone is very nice, and seems to enjoy working there. So in addition to enjoying my actual work, it's a nice environment to be in.

Right now, it's just 10 hours a week, very part time, but the position is already changing and growing. I would be happy to do 20 hours a week if we get to that point!

12 May, 2017

New and Improved!

I almost skipped this prompt as it could easily be a negative post sending me on a downward spiral: "Something about yourself you'd like to improve." I'm far from perfect, and there are many directions I could go.

So let me just be superficial. That should be fairly painless to share! 

What would I like to improve? My fashion sense.

There you have it. I cannot put together an outfit to save my life. I worked in retail for years, and of course then, the store tells you what goes together. But it never looked right on me. I'm tall, which means nothing ever fits. (Don't get me started on the GAZILLIONS of stores that carry petites but not talls!

Forget dress pants. I have the option of jeans, or skirts. Well, shorts and capris are okay.
Yoga pants? Nope, one washing and they are floods. 
Flannel pants? Sure, at home, when I can wear them hanging off my hips.

But that's just half of it. Observant folks may notice that I only ever wear solid colored shirts. That's because they are easy to pair with bottoms and accessories.

My mother is always nicely dressed. She has enough accessories to wear something different every day for a year! Sister Diana is the same, and a bit of a clothes horse, to be honest. But always completely unique outfits - she looks artsy and cool, and no one could ever replicate her look. Even Hestia, who chooses clothes based on comfort, has well-matched outfits for every occasion.

I hate clothes. Shopping for clothes is the worst kind of torture, for me. People talk about "The curse of Eve" because she ate the fruit first and now we are all doomed to a life of sin... to me, "The curse of Eve" is that we now have to wear clothes. If there was no fall into sin, we would be blissfully naked and comfortable about it.

Maybe in Heaven. 
For now, I'll stick to jeans and tees as much as I can.

11 May, 2017

Some thoughts on Mandarin

Weirdest prompt ever:
"Think of a word...search for images...write about the 11th image."

So, I need to learn Mandarin Chinese, and I have a little phrase-book on my desk, and so "Mandarin" popped into my head. When I googled it:


Okay, this is actually timely. You have no idea how many oranges there are here! The tiny mandarin ones are just past season. I could probably find them if I wanted to pay the off-season price.

Ugly oranges are in right now, but they are expensive to begin with. They're nice and easy to peel, like a tangelo, but sweeter. 

I asked Brett to pick up some oranges before our recent trip north, thinking of any of these easy to peel varieties, and he picked up standard oranges as we might find in the US... with the peels that cling like sticky rice to the slices inside. I discovered this when we stopped for a bathroom break on the way to the grasslands, and I decided to sate my hunger with fruit, only to have it juice all over me. I delayed everyone  because I had to finish my orange outside the van, and of course no one would share with me because I massacred it in the peeling process.

There's another type of orange smaller than the mandarin ones... or maybe the mandarins are the smallest and the slightly larger one is something else? Anyway, these also peel easily, and they taste almost exactly the same.

pop 'em like grapes!
But my favorites so far are the kumquats. LOVE them!