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