morgaina: (Default)
2016-11-01 03:54 am
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Another Kind of Adventure

My Artist in the Schools Residency has begun. I was a little unsure of how it would go, but now that we are into the swing, it feels pretty good and I hope the kids and teachers feel the same way. I feel a little more comfortable showing these pictures since they involved my Residency.
The signs all over made me feel legit:


Is there anything on earth cuter than a child focused on their art? These pics are of second graders.


ISB has children from around the world although most are Chinese. Classes are taught in English, but many younger kids come to the school with no English at all. These kids have been doing really nice jobs because their powers of observation are how they make their way in this school while learning English:




morgaina: (Default)
2016-10-29 06:35 pm
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Around the Great Wall

It was persimmon season. Persimmon trees drop all their leaves and leave the ripe, neon orange, persimmons hanging. Trees are dotted all over up to the Great Wall. My son said fruit trees were planted for the soldiers manning the wall. So presumably these modern fruits are descended from those.
There are merchants all over selling persimmons and nuts, sometimes ugly plastic toys, everywhere you go. They are persistent, yelling, pestering hucksters. I would probably buy more stuff if I knew the price and didn't have the language barrier. We are very aware that as foreigners we are being charged more than the Native Chinese. But in these cases I don't really care if they get a couple of extra yen, the people have so little to live on.

In this photo, my son was pretty sure we didn't get the pounds of fruit we bought and argued with the merchant a little. She brought out her scale to prove we did. (Such an honest looking scale). I wanted to take a photo of the scale and she thought I was further mistrusting her, but the funkiness of the scale was my intention.


Another beautiful site was this mountain near the mountains of the Great Wall. It must consist of all stone and looks like such an anomaly in the midst of the green mountains:


And because there can never be enough wall space. A lot of people walk here, so a lot of the wall has been repaired, still...those steps:
morgaina: (Default)
2016-10-29 06:14 pm
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The Great Wall, or bits of it anyway

Writing about the Great Wall of China is like writing about the terra cotta Warriors, but moreso. It is so epically, immensely big, that photos can't possibly do it justice. It can be seen going over and a little down the mountainside, sometimes taking great dips down a valley. But we can only see a small portion at a time.

So here are some totally inadequate photos:


My son says that if someone walks the entire length of the great wall they are awarded a gold medal. Some of the areas look quite impassable.


This is the area where I spent the most time, it was close to the road so we were able to park nearby. I wanted to do some drawing in my travel journal, but it was so cold I could only get some preliminary sketches done then finished back at the apartment from my photos. Not what I had hoped.
morgaina: (Default)
2016-10-28 03:41 am
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Beijing Drivers and Xi'ng Museum

I have spent a couple of days at ISB for my residency. It's enjoyable. They asked me to come in several extra days. The planned residency starts next week. Today I was a volunteer though, a chaperone for Beatrice's class field trip. Beijing drivers don't change just for children. The bus stopped to let the little 4 year olds off and a driver behind us got so mad at the wait she got out of her car and went up to the driver and screamed at him, not speaking Mandarin one supposes it was to move the bus. As well as the bus driver, the gentle soul Pre-school teacher screamed right back at her, even more impressive since Miss Suzanne is American. I guess one catches on to the language. I salute her, she was great.

Since it isn't cool to show photos of school kids, more gratuitous museum pics:
This jar is the favorite pot I have seen so far. You can't see the under shape but it is exquisite. T'ang dynasty of course.


These statues are gold and about 7" tall. I suspect some cross-pollination, the bird/griffin's beaks look Sythian. This section of the Museum was al T'ang dynasty, but maybe not as the labels were all in Chinese.



This is another of my favorites, a porcelain bag-shaped pot. So beautiful.


This fierce guard is about 3feet tall. The care and skill taken to do his face compared to his hand makes me wonder if different craftsmen made different parts.
morgaina: (Default)
2016-10-25 04:09 am
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Chen Lu itself

This village was picturesque, beautiful every part of it we saw had pottery everywhere.

Wall of pottery, one of many:


This walkway didn't have one of the more intricate designs in the set in pottery. Those were not only lovely, but gave good traction on the clay-y mud paths.


Some of these paths were built on top the cave houses:
morgaina: (Default)
2016-10-25 12:33 am
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Zounds! We find a potter

While walking befuddled down a Chen Lu street, we walked past a shack and someone stuck his head out and emphatically motioned us to come in. We were hesitant because of the aggressive tourist traps we had walked past in Xi'an. But finally we did and found an honest-to-goodness potter. Or rather he found us.

In his studio he had about 7 low-to-the ground electric wheels. He demonstrated throwing a pot and then (this was all in Mandarin so I missed the conversation) I was scooted over to his wheel and sat down. The way his wheel worked was the on switch was on the wall, it had one speed....1000 miles per hour. The clay was very wet and soft, he used no tools. I had noticed that rather than cutting the top off with a pin tool when it got uneven he folded the clay into itself inward. So I gave that a try, he kept helping. He cut that pot off the hump (another of his techniques) and said, through an interpreter that he wanted me to throw another one because I used my hands differently than he did and wanted to see what I did again. So I threw another pot.

I'll be honest, both the little vases I made were embarrassingly weak shapes. If I had some time to practice I think I could have done fine, but it would have taken me some practice to get up to speed. As it was he said I was the best tourist he had ever had and I was Middle Class. What we think this meant was that I could be an apprentice.

So that's something...right?


He was another very friendly person. So many in this village were:
morgaina: (Default)
2016-10-24 06:24 pm
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The Dragon Kiln

We did get to see (by accident) sections of an old dragon kiln. We were just walking down the street. The bricks look like they are still in decent condition. Never have I wanted to break down a fence more than I wanted to break down the flimsy fence that kept us from walking in and through this kiln:


The arches are in excellent shape:


It was another happy accident to see another kiln chamber of the kiln with most of the chimney stack. This was about a block away from the chamber we saw a street above it. It must have been a gigantic kiln in its day:


A close up of the top of the chamber. Those bricks look like they are ready to fire another load:
morgaina: (Default)
2016-10-23 10:21 pm
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More terra cotta warriors

It looks like the heads were set into the bodies:


So many face variations:


Still quite a few that have not been reassembled (my archaeologist friends are drooling):
morgaina: (Default)
2016-10-23 06:57 pm
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Someday this will be funny

We contacted a tour company and arranged to have a tour guide and driver take us to Chen Lu, an ancient pottery village which is not a common tourist destination. We were told our tour guide had knowledge of ancient ceramics, the village, history, everything we wanted to know. The village was on top of a mountain and the road up the hill was windy and slick with clay. We saw terraced hillsides everywhere where corn and wheat was grown for how many eons?

On the way up, I spotted what looked like an outcropping of purple clay that may have been like the Yxing clay, my son spotted what looked to be a kiln built into the hillside. We asked to stop to take photos, but the guide said we would soon see hundreds of them. I clapped my hands in trusting anticipation.

The village itself was so picturesque it was beautiful. It had been carved into the hillside, as terraced as the gardens. All the walls were either completely made of ceramic jars, or a combination of jars and bricks. The streets were vertical and had set-in ceramics. The houses were all cave houses, carved into the hills. (I will post photos of those next time). Although we had emphasized handmade pottery, the first place he stopped was a porcelain factory, where he boasted about it all being machine made. He wanted us to go inside, I refused, which wasn't hard to do since the factory looked like it had been mothballed for 10 years. We stayed there standing in front of it for a heck of a long time, we didn't know why.

Then he directed us to what he said was a completely handmade pottery shop, he even demonstrated using his hands. We walked inside to find it was an old lady's home. After a bit of us being bewildered and she being bewildered by our entrance, she graciously invited us into her home. We kept looking around for the pottery the tour guide told us was there. None. The Lady served tea and her even older Auntie came over to as she said (through some interpretation) she had never talked to foreigners before. They really were very kind to us after we burst into their home so we felt we had to stay and be sociable for awhile.

When we finally left, my son saw a sign for "The Kiln God Museum". The guide said it was up a steep path, which I didn't think I could climb, but Deva was quite interested so the guide led him. It was to another person's home. After our first experience he knew this wasn't going to get any better so he left sooner than we managed to previously.

Guide also tried to get us to go down a steep path where he said there were potteries everywhere, but looking over a fence to the spot, we could see that there were none. Just more homes to barge into.

At this point the tour guide confessed that he had read many books and had a lot of knowledge about the pottery in this area, but had forgotten it all.

The next stop was when he dropped us off at a Mall intended for locals, not tourists. I wondered into a Chinese pharmacy and got scowled at. Then a floor covering store which sold mostly contact paper. Then we couldn't find the tour guide, so we called his main office.

We did have some clay experiences. (which I will write about later), but it was as much a surprise to the guide as it was to us. And we found them because I knew a little of what to look for.

Driving back home, we were tired, disappointed, and feeling like we had been cheated, when the Tour Guide turned to us and began to tell us that he supported Donald Trump. His support was shown by pumping his fists and shouting that name.By this time I had no patience and snapped at him, which he ignored. Deva tried engaging in a reasonable discussion, which he also ignored. He would not stop. I wish China had the equivalence of Yelp, but it does not. I can kind of see the humor in this, it was a bit like a sitcom. However, on the positive side, we got to meet two wonderful old ladies, and see streets and walls that were memorable.

This is the Lady's cave house cooking area and bed. The two metal lids are where she cooks over coals, when the cooking is completed the coals are used to heat the bed. She was certain I didn't have a warm enough jacket on so insisted I sit on the coal-warmed bed to warm up. I could tell where the coals were under the hard surface.


This is a shot of the Lady's pillow. The ceramic rectangular, glazed piece on the bed. I had seen pictures of Chinese ceramic pillows from ancient times in books, but it was a surprise to see they are still used daily.
morgaina: (Default)
2016-10-23 03:13 am
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Terra cotta warriors

It's a little difficult writing about the terra cotta warriors because the view and the concept is so overwhelming. There were three pits, but this one was the best. The third pit was an excavation site with only dirt showing, but it did have about 5 of the best complete, most interesting warriors.

Getting to and back from the museum was difficult though, it was an incredibly long walk. Every museum I've been to in China has a small or no parking lot and a walkway, including random stairs that take up more space than the museum itself. I was exhausted by the time we left the third pit. I am very concerned that we may have missed one of the museums but I simply couldn't go any farther.





This was under glass, but I was 16 inches away from him.
morgaina: (sagger fired pot)
2016-10-17 09:26 pm
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Xian Bound

Next stop is Xian. My son and I will see the terra cotta warriors. Wednesday night we are going by sleeper train, we will have two strangers in our sleeper with us, which is a little disconcerting for me. There is also a nearby pottery village and an ancient dragon kiln.

My residency doesn't start for a couple of weeks, but will go in tomorrow as an extra day they requested. Also 4 extra days next week, although one is a volunteer as a chaperone for Wee Beatrice's field trip

We went to a HotPot restaurant. The noodle maker made noodles at the tables, it was kind of like watching a hula hooper with a slack hula hoop, only faster. Maybe like a cowboy with a lasso doing rope tricks, only faster:
morgaina: (Exeter jug)
2016-10-16 05:57 pm
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Beijing Market Day

We went to the kids' favorite market yesterday. It was similar to Pike Place only with motorcycles zooming down the aisles of stalls. And durian *choke*.
The chicken is solid black, the slightly pinkish tint is the fault of my camera.


Me dressed in my Beijing finery:


The tea shop: An example of old fashioned Chinese hospitality and tradition from a young man and delicious tea:


Durian, not as prevale:nt as in Cambodia, but still it exists. My son said he wanted to get one buy Jenny and I stood in solidarity against it
morgaina: (Bart)
2016-10-15 06:17 pm
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China Driving

Jenny said that a Chinese National who is her colleague told her that every child in China is told "You are the most important person in the world, you are number 1, but you have to fight to get what you deserve." (This may be a result of the One Child policy). This is probably very hard to deal with when a child starts school, and they start early.

So often, I have seen friendliness and courtesy in shops, etc. that it doesn't seem to have a lasting effect....except standing in queues, in which the Chinese will get ahead of you and push, plus other such behaviors. The other is driving. For being a society that follows rules so assiduously, they drop all pretense of civilization when driving. Stop lights are not stopped at, unless forced to by the car ahead, speeds are ignored, following the car ahead of you, bumper to bumper, driving with a tire on either side of the lane, never-ever stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks, creating an extra lane where there is none. But the very worst is merging, cars force their bumpers in a space of about 3 feet in front of the car in the lane they want to merge into, and continuing to do that when the car behind is just as determined not to let them. They never purposefully let a car merge in front of them, just when they are moments from a collision. Friday night where we wanted to turn, so many cars from the far side of the highway to the closest to the turn, going both North and South all tried to turn, would not let anyone go in front of them, or would not back up a little to undo the knot of cars until there were 20 cars at a standstill. The center car had cars holding it in the center from front, back, and both sides. Then they all started screaming at each other. Wow! If each car had cooperated, by backing up or letting another car go before they did, it would have been solved. But they didn't and we ended up driving perhaps 20 miles out of our way to find another, less crazy, place to turn.

Jenny drives a bubble car, basically a tuk tuk. It is not powerful. The front can go all the way down so that it looks bubble like. There are bicycle lanes she drives in, but sometimes had to go on the highway.
Jenny said "I really need to get braver about going through intersections. I begged her: "No No, caution!!!!"
morgaina: (Wuh?)
2016-10-14 08:53 pm
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Contrasts

China is such a place of dichotomies.
We went into the old part of the city intending on going to museums. There is a website that lists all of Beijing's museums and because there are so many and not adequate information on the one page websites, we had to guess which we would be most interested in seeing.

We chose two that were sort of close to each other.
The first was "Museum of 100 crafts" Sounded good. But what it was was a mall in an old building with quite a few shops (not 100 though) of crafts. These were oriented to the Tourist and quite high-priced. That being said, we went into a ceramics shop with some of the most beautiful traditional Chinese glazes that I have ever seen, including in museums. Reduction reds, purples, several different celadons, oil spots, hairs fur. They were all exquisite, but pricey. I came very close to buying an oil spot tea bowl out of my budget and I still kind of wish I had bought it. But settled on a smaller sang de bouf tea bowl.

The second museum was such an opposite. A dusty private collection of mostly ancient pots. I took a zillion pictures. This museum sent a guide along and another museum goer offered to translate for us. They were so very gracious and friendly. After our tour of the small, dusty exhibit, they served us green tea and were very hospitable.

Then for the third contrasting experience was a Beijing rush hour traffic jam, which I will write about later.

From the T'ang era:



Another camel shot. I took this from atop my camel in the Gobi. I just liked the photo
morgaina: (Exeter jug)
2016-10-13 09:59 pm
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Mongolia

Computer is strange, but I got another pic at least.
My son is in the foreground, Wee Beatrice and Miggy, our translator, are on the far camel. I was amazed at how brave Bea was getting up on that camel and then our ride and getting down again. After we got off the camels the adults all walked in a stiff-legged, inverted "V", Beatrice ran to play with her little new-made friend Star.

morgaina: (enviornment)
2016-10-13 04:00 pm
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More Beijing and Mongolia

Pollution levels are dangerous today and last night it was very dangerous. *cough*.

I took a little walk around the compound here in Beijing. People I passed by mostly ignored me with either neutral or unfriendly faces. Then I stopped in a playground and pulled out my travel sketchbook and began to draw trees. A fairly modest little sketch. But the difference in the passersby was astounding. People stopped to see what I was doing and either smiled, or gave me the thumbs up. Even the stern guards (or were they police?) who cycled by, nodded or smiled. Some teenagers who were whispering together came over ( I thought they might be talking about me) and asked to see my sketches, of course I showed them, and they were appreciative.
So I heartily recommend travelers bring a sketchbook, or maybe a musical instrument. It has really opened doors in my experience.
I wanted to post more photos, but my computer is not letting me do it.
morgaina: (Exeter jug)
2016-10-12 01:30 am
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Cave horses

I am back in Beijing. I don't have all my photos posted on Facebook yet. We haven't been able to get through the government controls. I also can't get Blogspot or Tumblr, but I am able to read and post on Live Journal, go figure.
Anyway, I wanted to share a few photos using my close-up, of the wonderful, wonderful Prezwalski's horses we saw. This was such a thrill.Papa stallion made sure to put himself between us and his ladies.




morgaina: (Exeter jug)
2016-09-01 05:24 pm
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I already have the hat for it.

All my thoughts and energies now are on my trip to China. My son found us several side trips to take, so it looks like I will be going weeks earlier than originally planned. Sept. 28th is what we are talking now. I am anxiously waiting for my “letter of invitation” to China. I am really rushing trying to get some of the chores done with a total inability to concentrate. Finding health travel insurance, visas, finding vaccinations since there isn’t any place in the Palouse that does rabies apparently. Deciding which vaccinations to take, I checked the CDC site and a senior travel guide, they seem to err on the side of caution. I fortunately had an appointment with my primary care physician this week and we discussed which vaccines were ones I really should have and those that I could have done if I wanted to. I told her I looked on the “traveling for Senior Citizens” site and she said I was least like any senior citizen she knew of. I am inordinately pleased by that, but in the back of my mind my sister is saying: “that’s because you’re immature.” ;-) Then she said she wanted to friend me on Facebook to follow my travels. That also made me inordinately pleased.

Side trips include: the Great Wall, the terra cotta warriors, two traditional pottery villages my son found, we hope they are actually pottery villages rather than pottery factory towns which would make me puke. But the most exciting side trip (who knows the other trips may be greater) is a trip to Mongolia!!!! Eeek! We are going to fly into Ulaanbaatar, then take a jeep out into the Nomad country, stay in a yurt for a couple of nights. My son is working out the details. I did ask my physician if it was OK to drink mare’s milk. She proscribed me antibiotics in case of diarrhea. Oh My God I am excited.

Every time my son emails me or calls me about the trip I get so excited that I can’t focus for ½ day. I am not exaggerating. I am only able to focus at the potters wheel, but then I don’t get this other stuff done. I am making a large bunch of small ceramic bowls to give out as thank-yous and other gifts. I was sorry I did not do this when I went to Cambodia.
morgaina: (jumping elephant)
2016-04-14 02:43 pm
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CHINA!

My trip to China has been confirmed.
End of October beginning of November.
Not only that, but I am being paid $1000. a week for teaching there.
PLUS The school is paying for my plane ticket.
OMG

Daedin is taking a much needed nap and I am attempting to refrain from waking her to tell her.