Monday, February 22, 2010


Okay folks, I'm a wee bit pissed off. I've been up since 3:30 am and it is now 4:57. Living in Shanghai is in some words; exciting, polluted, noisy - what NOISY?!?!? Yes, NOISY.

I've had this cough for about 3 weeks now and well, I didn't want to keep Mike awake - he has to go to work every day, if you know what I mean. He needs his rest to be at top form to be able to deal with the people in his office who don't speak to him in English. His command of Mandarin is even less than mine and that is saying alot.

So, I've been sleeping in the back bedroom so he can get a full night's rest. It still doesn't work because he usually gets up about 5 anyway.

Tonight though at 3:30 am they started with the jackhammer and I had about enough. I called downstairs and woke Tim up - So sorry Tim! BUT darn it - Mr. Chen says that if you call the police, the police will make them quit. So I called Tim and he was sleeping and I'm sure I woke him from a sounds sleep - he's in the Lobby so he would not have heard it - there are stores on the other side of his area that would have muffled the noise. So sorry Tim.

Anyway - after about 30 minutes - the jackhammering stopped. NOT because Tim sent the doorman out to check it out but because they were done.

You see, they are working around the clock - and I mean AROUND THE CLOCK to get this huge city of 21 MILLION people ready for the World Expo 2010. Every street has been dug up (or so it seems) and pipe laid and God-knows-what-else-has-been-laid so that they can pave the streets and make it absolutely beautiful for the World Expo.

Everyone has suffered sleepless nights because of World Expo - I sure hope it's worth it. . .

I'm going back to bed now that I've vented!

Good night.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A new year and a new Walmart!

Yesterday, Cynthia, Julie, Connie and I took our lives in our hands and went to Walmart. What I mean is that Julie's driver is a crazy driver - our Westinghouse drivers are not nearly as wild and crazzeeyyy and I'm glad for that. I'm also glad I had my book to read so I didn't have to watch the road. He was weaving in and out of traffic. Pretty terrifying for me, an old lady. . . It was a real treat though. Saw lots of interesting things - Connie was looking for a bicycle and I think she found one - a folding one - that costs about $28.50. It's so cute - If we move to a decent area in June, I might think about getting one.

Walmart was great. Clean and not as crowded as Carrefour and we found Keebler crackers, Heinz ketchup and some beautiful produce. I bought carrots, chives, leeks for chicken soup (it's going to get cold again) and some great strawberries and bananas.

Mike went to see Avatar last night with John Kennedy. He really enjoyed the movie - I'm so glad because I would NEVER go see that kind of film. I'm glad he's found a buddy to do things like that with.

Today I attended the Chinese Symbols and Patterns lecture by Mr. Joe Zhou at the Shanghai Museum. It was lovely, we received a book detailing all the symbols particular to Chinese history and proceeded through the Museum checking out all those symbols we had learned.

Mr. Zhou treated us to tea and a pastry in the Tea Room. Cynthia and I enjoyed that and then we went over to the Museum Shop where we found many beautiful items - note cards, umbrellas, Chinese jackets and beautiful table runners. I wish I had lots of money to spend but I know I will not be able to keep all the beautiful things I've seen here. My apartment is only 3 bedrooms and my house in Plum won't contain all Chinese furniture and other items.

Was supposed to meet John to go to the Fabric Market - he and Jane are going to a work dinner tomorrow and they need to wear traditional Chinese clothing. I couldn't get a hold of him -his Chinese phone is being wonky and Jane's has lost it's charge. Go figure! He will meet me tomorrow morning and we'll check out the scene then.

Need to check on Myszka - she had a cough yesterday - it is going around. And my friend, Sue hasn't been well since she got back. The dirt and grime of coal-fired power plants really takes a toll on us living here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Walk in The French Concession

Good evening,

Monday was the day I got to meet CeCe's sister Carol and her friends, Ann and Amy. Carol is from Wisconsin, Ann is from New York and Amy is from Connecticut. They are lovely ladies and I felt like I'd known them forever.

Yvette took us to the French Concession and we all enjoyed it immensely. We found ourselves at Joffre Terrace where the famous writer, Ba Jin. We walked a little further until we came upon the home of Xu Guangping, the editor and his wife, Lu Xun. We walked to the Astrid Apartments that consist of 8 floors and 40 apartments - it was built in 1933.

We saw a lovely building owned by the Chinese government but the suites there can be rented. Lovely antiques - some shown here - I loved the red trunk and the screen.

It was a warm day - lots of sun and we moved along to Fuxing Park where we met a lovely older couple near the Rose Garden here. Not many blooms yet - maybe in a few weeks - The gentleman was writing calligraphy on the sidewalk with a long pen with water in it. Just as soon as he would finish writing a character, it would disappear. His wife told us that he took up this art about 3 years ago but we thought he was an expert. She said he had a career as a designer in Shanghai. Their only child, a daughter, now lives in New York City. Her mother told us proudly that she has a 4 story home. They lived with her for two years. The older woman didn't like living in New York. She couldn't talk with her neighbors;even though her husband had learned a little English. They moved back to Shanghai because "the leaves were falling from the trees". Which meant she wanted to be home in her own country when she died. What lovely people they were.

Yvette told us the story of Mr. Du who was the "Mafia" person here in Shanghai back in the day. He was into prostitution and even had his own opium den. He had a few wives and many children. We saw his garden - see above.

After the walk, we went to Pearl City where I finally finished my Chinese Charm Bracelet. It is one of my proudest accomplishments. I got this great idea when Denice told me about the charm bracelet her mother had made for her when she was young. I decided that I wanted to make a charm bracelet with all the good things I've found here in China.
I went to Pearl City months ago after I met Valerie who owns a little shop there. She's a lovely woman who sells her beautiful sterling silver and gold-plated jewelry at the American Women's Club and Shanghai Expatriate Association Coffees. She had a wonderful chain and I bought some wonderful charms - a map of China to anchor it and a little heart-shaped locket with a key - it sort of reminded me of Mike; you know, like the "key to my heart". Valerie had those two charms soldered onto the chain and off we went in search of additional charms.
In the past few months CeCe and I've been to the Commodity Market and the Science and Technology Market scouring the shops for sterling silver charms. I have found some great ones and the bracelet is now complete - well, maybe I have space for one or two more items but it is basically complete and I'm taking it home to show my Mom and Kate. I think they'll like it too!
There are no photos of it in this posting - I want it to be a surprise. If you want to see it - post a message for me and I'll create a blog posting later next month - after I've shown it to them.

Walk with Yvette


Last Friday, CeCe, Denice, Ellen, Jane and I went on a walk with Yvette. She was born and bred in Shanghai and moved to Chicago when she was 16 to complete school there. She went to college there and met her husband and when he was working on his PhD at U of Illinois, she got her Masters in International Studies. She's a fascinating woman and I'm sorry to say, she'll be leaving Shanghai in July for Boston. She is presently final edits on a book she is writing to be published in June. I will make sure to pick up a copy before she leaves.

When she moved back her 3 years ago with her husband and 3 children, she decided she would learn everything she could about Shanghai because back when she lived here, people didn't talk about history much.

So she has accomplished what she set out to do and she took us on a walk in the Jing An District and we had a great time.

We went to Haushan Hospital and toured their beautiful Garden. I am adding some beautiful photos from there. The turtles were sunning themselves on some sort of pad and another turtle came along - his "friends" didn't even help him get up on the pad - he did it all by himself.

She told us a little bit about healthcare here as her mother is a retired internist. Her father was an attorney.

The wisteria, the urns and the sidewalk was paved in the shape of bats which denote good luck.

We stopped by a Shanghai theatre academy where they train up and coming actors and actresses. Yvette told us it was a huge opportunity to be accepted into this school. There were many students out front of the school dressed to the nines pretending to welcome some delegates. We assumed they were practicing for when the World Expo 2010 comes to Shanghai next year.

She told us a sad story about a well-known actress who lived across the street from the academy. She pointed out the villa where "The White Countess" was filmed with Natasha Richardson. I need to pick up that video next week before I leave Shanghai.

We went by her old house and the high school where she went before she left for Chicago.

I hope you enjoy these photos.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Grocery Shopping with CeCe

Yes, last week I was very busy. Wednesday, CeCe and I went out with Skip. We went to The Pines store in Hongqaio. We don't get there very often because it is far and you really cannot take a taxi there.

We can buy very interesting things there like Bounty paper towels and Jello puddings. Yes, I know you people buy these things every week. But remember, we might have Chinese equivalent items but we can't read the package so we don't know what that might be.

So my purchases last week included:

  • Bounce fabric sheets that have a scent in them - a number 2 scent.

  • Jello chocolate pudding

  • Campbell's tomato soup

  • Canned pineapple

  • French green beans so I can make Green Bean Casserole

  • A beautiful whole chicken minus the head and feet - it was clean, really clean inside

  • Stove Top stuffing mix.

My BIG disappointment was the Mobier cheese that cost 57.80 RMB = $8.25 for a very small piece. I didn't buy it - I'll be at Penn Mac in The Strip on Thursday, April 30th to buy a HUGE piece though.

Yes, that is the photo posted with the blog post. The piece of Mobier cheese - my fav and I had to leave it there.

Yes, I will be better for it - I have experienced a huge letdown but I will recoup and grow in the knowledge that tomorrow is another day - or I will survive!

So long Linda and Reuben

Good morning from Shanghai,

I've been remiss. I was very busy last week and hadn't had a chance to tell you about the wonderful dinner our friends Lisa and Rafaele planned as we said so long to our friends, Linda and Reuben. They are moving back to the West side of the world and we were very sad to see them go. I spent many hours with Linda as she shared her techniques for how to shop and bargain and deal for lots of interesting items here in many markets. We would see Linda everywhere - Commodity Market, Pearl Market, Yu Yuan, SEA, AWCS - we enjoyed her immensely. She is already missed but we know they arrived safely and are awaiting word on their next assignment.

On Monday, April 5th, the 14 friends journeyed to DaMarco's for a WONDERFUL dinner planned by Lisa and Rafaele. Denice, Kirk, Mike and I arrived early because we took a taxi - the other 10 arrived later because they had to come from the Dark Side of town = Pudong. It's not really dark there - it is just over the Huangpu River. You Pittsburghers know that people don't like to cross the river but we do it all the time - there are some very interesting things in Pudong but most of the exciting things happen here on the Puxi side (Mike and I live in Puxi).

DaMarco's is a fabulous Italian restaurant - there are two locations. We usually go to the one at Grand Gateway because it is closer to our apartment.

The fruits of this dinner are - - - Prosecco, in a word. . . and well, lots more goodies to describe to you.

The first course consisted of appetizers that included fried bread that looked like fingers, clams and mussels in garlicky, butter sauce, artichokes, fresh mozzarella, chopped tomatoes and peppers, arugula, roast beef with a mayonnaise, salami, prosciutto, soproseta - OMG - it was fabulous.

Then the pasta arrived in a beautiful red bowl (I must buy one or two before I go home). The waiter cut open the puffy, pizza crust that had been placed over the top of the bowl. Inside was linguine with shrimp, crab, and clams in a tomato sauce. The presentation was over the top.

Another bread bowl was placed beside it with tagliatelle and a wild mushroom and herb ragout.

All this time, the red and white wine flowed and flowed and flowed.

The seafood course was next - although we thought we'd already had it with the clams and mussels and then the linguine but NO - more more more more - salmon and crab and seared tuna.
Next was the veal Marsala over toast points. It was totally amazing - tender and flavorful. I could not believe there was more.

And dessert - well, little donuts dusted with sugar in a lovely custard sauce.

Needless to say, we didn't need to eat on Tuesday

Monday, March 30, 2009

On Top of the World!

Greetings again from Shanghai,

Last week I went to lunch with my American Women's Club friends on the 93rd Floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel at 100 Century Avenue, in Pudong.
CeCe is making some snide remark in the first photo and Denice snapped it but I decided to keep it anyway. In the second photo there is Denice (her back to the view - she's frightened by heights) Ali and Linda. The third photo is the view of The Pearl Tower with the Huangpu River below. There were three cruise ships in port last week. Shanghai is a major stop for the Asian cruises. The river reminds me of the Allegheny River after a Spring rain; muddy and fast flowing.
Linda and her husband are leaving us next week and I will certainly miss her. She has been here six months and has out shopped us all. She's having a "garage sale" next week because she cannot take all her "household goods" and her "Chinese treasures" back with her - only the treasures so those of us left behind will sift through her goods and determine what we cannot live without. We will then toast them next Monday evening at a restaurant here in Puxi. We have spent some great times with her at the Fabric Market, the Pearl Market, the Northern Market, the Commodity Markets and at coffees each month. I hope our paths will cross again.
This lunch turned out to be very nice. It was another sold out event and the restaurant imported all the food for the luncheon. Alaskan Salmon and Australian beef. I had the beef and it was great with very crispy french fries which, in my opinion, is the only way to eat them. No Heinz Ketchup here - it was home made - not my fav but what the heck - some places like to make their own - I'm a Pittsburgh Girl Pure Bred!
Then I promptly got bronchitis for the entire weekend.
We've got a huge April in store - lots of classes, and the Botanical Gardens (Springtime edition). All before I go home in 3 weeks. Hopefully, we can put an end to our living arrangements before this week is out. I hate having that hang over my head.
And I have some shopping to do before I go home. . .