Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Back of the Bike--mobile store edition

People not only use their bikes for hauling stuff, but they will sometimes operate a store off the back.


I've seen many more things being sold off the backs of bikes, I will try to get more of them on camera for your viewing pleasure. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Modern Ballet

Thursday night I attended a modern ballet performance by the Trey McIntyre project.  Truly amazing performance.  It was another one of those cultural exchange events that is sponsored by the Public Affairs department of the US Embassy.  In case you didn't know, one of the things that the US Embassy does is to promote US culture and arts overseas.  At some point last year I discovered these events (they were there all along but one of my friends made me go) and started going to as many as I could attend.  They are awesome!  It makes me wonder how I can get onto one of these lists in DC, because I'm sure the US government is not the only government that likes to promote its culture and artists. 
Normally I do not really appreciate modern ballet, they tend to use modern classical music, and there is way too much symbolism for me.  Another thing about me, I suck at symbolism, if someone writes about a tree, I see a tree not family or love or growth or any of those things.  It's unfortunate, because I really want to like poetry, but I can't figure it out.  But back to TMP, the performance that I saw was very accessible because they choreographed their dances to popular music, like Simon and Garfunkel. So not only did I get to appreciate the beauty and athleticism of the dancers, but I also was able to appreciate the quirkiness of the music. 
At intermission, as a surprise, we were treated to several live Chinese musical performances.  At first I was annoyed, I wanted to use this time to get up, stretch my legs, look around the theater with the lights on, etc.  But after a few minutes I was able to appreciate these unexpected surprises too.  After intermission, I was surprised to hear kids music as the soundtrack to the dancers performance.  Who would ever think a modern ballet could be danced to "I'm being swallowed by a boa constrictor?"  Not me, that's for sure. All in all, the evening was great, I liked it so much that I'm going to look for the Trey McIntyre Project in the future. 
For your viewing pleasure here is one of their promotional videos.  

Friday, May 25, 2012

Baby Booties and a hat

Sorry for all the knitting posts, but I haven't seen anything too crazy outside and I've been knitting a lot trying to finish some baby booties for a friend who is leaving post on a maternity evacuation.  I started last week, but with moving coming up I did not have the set finished (of course) for her party.  I finished up last night.  The booties were easy enough, but didn't come with a gauge, so the first pair I made might have been to small, so I made a second pair. OMG these booties are cute and SO easy!  3 hrs a shoe!  Seriously!  And I think you could make them faster, I just usually get distracted by something so it takes longer.  Anyway, here is a picture of the tiny shoes and the octopus looking hat.

And then all wrapped up and ready to gift.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Another Shawl

For Christmas I asked Hubby for a yarn of the month subscription.  He obliged and signed me up for the Smell the Roses club from the Unique Sheep.  It has been fun so far, the first shawl kit that they sent was for a Damask Rose Shawl.  There was some grumbling amongst those who signed up because there wasn't quite enough yarn to finish the whole pattern as written, but it is a beautiful shawl.  I used smaller needles and ended up with quite a bit of yarn leftover.  Unfortunately, neither the first, nor the second shipment were in colors that I would normally wear so I'm going to have to give them away.... Which is ok, because I had already decided that I would send the first shawl to my grandmother.  I finished it on her birthday, but she's not going to get it yet because I'm going to try to make her matching fingerless gloves to go with it (just to use up the yarn I have left).

Monday, May 21, 2012

These are a few really creepy things....

Ok, so those words don't really fit into the song made famous by Julie Andrews, but I wanted to warn you before you looked too closely.  This is another post that I've been meaning to do for awhile now, and I keep forgetting to take the pictures.  There was actually a whole abandoned amusement park that I meant to take pictures of but never got around to it (it's probably gone now, so I haven't bothered to go back).  
The kiddie rides here are SOOOO creepy looking.  You know the ones that they usually have outside the grocery store.  I don't know why but the ones here are terrifying.  I don't know why Babes wants to ride on them.  Don't believe me?

Then there are the dolls....  I wonder if this is what they think Western children look like.  And also why are there no Chinese dolls? 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Yikes! What's that on the back of the Bike!

I've been collecting pictures of the things people carry on the back of their bikes.  In other countries people would need trucks, or vans to haul crap, but here, they just strap it onto their bike with bungee cords.  No trucks needed. I was just going to do one post, but I realized I have WAY too many pictures so I think it's going to have to be a series.  (missing from this series is the picture of the family on a scooter with a slaughtered pig on the back of their bike because I did not have my camera with me that day *Sigh* the things I miss because I don't have a camera or my camera is too slow)

I think this guy recycles cardboard, and has a pretty typical load.

I don't know if you can see it, but the guy in the middle of the picture (behind the traffic light) is carrying another scooter on the back of his scooter.  I have seen this more than once, so maybe this is some sort of towing service?

These guys are my favorite. The delivery guys, they often have boxes stacked super high on their bikes, all precariously balanced. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

They do it differently here

So in the US when you come upon a construction site you are expecting it.  There are signs, there are traffic cones, there are guys in orange vests standing around... you know warnings.  In Chengdu, you're driving along and-- Hey! There's a guy in the middle of the street spreading asphalt with a shovel! 

... and yes, that is regular traffic trying to figure out a way to get around the man with the shovel and the machinery. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Chengdu's Burning

I woke up this morning and thought something was burning.  I sniffed around the apartment trying to figure out if something was malfunctioning or maybe we'd left something running too long, but no.  When I stepped out our apartment door I realized that it was Chengdu that was burning.  The sky is a yellowish brown color and the air is solid.  I walked Babe to school and back and my eyes, nose, and chest are on fire.  Luckily there aren't that many days like this, but I'm staying inside as much as possible today. Yuck.
Oh in case you don't believe me, here's a picture.  This isn't night time, it's 8 in the morning. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Two meals of fava beans

So I did get myself together to make a fava bean puree.  It was good, but boy are fava beans a lot of work!  To be able to eat them you have to shell them twice! 

 Luckily Babes proved able to handle this part of the task and we had a lot of *fun* shelling beans and watching a movie!

Then they need to be blanched.

 and peeled again (Babes was adept at this too)

Then they are ready to be simmered with oil, garlic, and herbs

Next comes the smashing (or in my case blending--I love my stick blender!)

FINALLY we can eat!
I served my Fava puree on some oatmeal sourdough that I pulled out of the freezer, some boiled potatoes tossed with butter, stir fried greens (the purple ones) and a little feta cheese.  I actually really liked the puree with the feta and next time I might puree them together. 
The very next day I used the second half of the batch of fava beans (prepared up to the second shelling so I didn't have to go through all that AGAIN) in a pasta stir fry.  I basically sauteed the fava beans with red bell peppers, garlic, a few greens, and cherry tomatoes and tossed it over angel hair pasta.  YUM!   And we did two vegetarian meals in a row, how about that?

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

2 weeks of veggies

So I forgot to post pictures of our veggies last week, and I already have this weeks veggies.  I was sick last week so we still have more than half of our veggies from last week to eat up.  I foresee a couple of vegetarian meals in our future.  Which is good because that means I don't have to order meat until next week. 

Last week we got, yup you guessed it, more greens.

These were interesting, mild in flavor, very tiny and pretty good stir fried with the grass.  

I had no idea what these were, they look like oversized peas, but when you open them
 They are fuzzy inside and look a little like lima beans.  It turns out they are fava beans.  I'm pretty excited to cook them, they are supposed to be great spring beans to eat.  
This week there were still greens, but less of them.   Look at that purple green!  

 And some more fava beans and potatoes.  I think maybe tonight I'll try them pureed, I don't think Babes will eat it, but I've been wrong before. 

Monday, May 07, 2012

It feels like fall

 The trees here are weird.  I don't know what kind of tree they are, but they shed their leave in the spring.  Yes, in the spring.  Last Friday was rainy, a little chilly, and the leaves on the tree were yellow and littering the ground.  If I didn't know any better I would have sworn it was October, but no it's May.  Don't believe me? 
Here are some pics I took on Friday.  Excuse the crappiness of the pics, I was taking them through the window of my car with the crappy little camera. 

Friday, May 04, 2012

Construction sites

I have noticed that in China, nobody looks out for your safety.  You are completely responsible for your own well being.  Other drivers aren't looking out for you, other walkers aren't looking out for you, the government is certainly not looking out for you, and companies are down right out to get you.  So it should not have been any surprise to me that construction sites, in their final stages, are open to the public. 
When serious construction is going on, construction sites are boarded up.  I guess it's too annoying to have to shut down anytime they drop something on a pedestrians' head (or maybe this way they don't have pesky witnesses to the injuries to the construction workers?).  But once the main part of the building was done the blue barriers went away.  I was thrilled, now I could walk on the sidewalk and not have to risk death on the side of the road...  until I saw that construction was still going on. 

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

getting to work

One of the interesting things about walking down the street in China is transportation.  In America you basically see cars, SUVs, trucks, buses, and people on foot.  In China, you have cars, buses, bikes, e-bikes (bikes that run on electricity), scooters, three wheeled cars, three wheeled trucks, taxis, and all manner of hybrid vehicles.  So in answer to the question how do people get to work, here are some pictures:
You've got your chevrolegs.
 with your baby attachment.
Then your standard bike and scooter.  
 This is a Sanlun che (three wheeled car) it serves as a sort of low cost taxi.  These guys are cheap, but crazy.  I have only ridden in one once. They are crazy like taxi drivers but not bound to the street, they can (and do!) weave in and out of cars, bikes, and pedestrians... 
 If you look to the left of the 3 wheeled car you see the family bike.  I think it's also an e-bike which means you don't have to pedal.  This guy has his family out, wife, daughter, and infant child all on his bike (This is not uncommon, in fact it is fairly commonplace to see three or four people on a bike). 
I wish I could get a front picture of this... This lady is basically riding a bicycle with a back seat.  The front looks like a bicycle, and the back is a chair on top of two wheels.
 Which is different from this ladies 3 wheeled e-bike with chair. 

And you have your three wheeled delivery truck.  These are super common for hauling things here. 


Mianbao che (bread shaped car, kind of like a tiny van)

and bus
Looking at this collection I need to add a black Audi because anybody whose anybody drives a black Audi.