27 January 2017

UPDATES TO THE BEIJING APARTMENT

It is Chinese New Year!  Where is my Red Envelope full of money????  It is the year of the Rooster again, the same as it was the year I was born.




Chinese New Year!
Don't forget to eat your dumplings for good luck!

Just in time for The Chinese New Year which is this Saturday for us Stateside but Friday for Brendan over there in China (14-hour ahead of us time difference), we have some updates on my son's apartment in Beijing to show you!  Brendan told me a couple of days ago that he has been cleaning his apartment like a fiend, because that is the custom there:  people clean their homes top to bottom a few days in the run-up to the celebration of their biggest holiday.  I think this is for good luck and prosperity?  We communicate via WeChat very frequently, which is the most popular form of social media there. One has the option of typing or talking.  We use both.




Before we get into specifics on his decorating updates, Brendan wanted me to let you know that he is in the process of building his own website, in case any of my readers has an interest in following him and reading about his life and work in China.  I will provide the link when it is ready.


New blue chair and ottoman from Ikea arrived!
This is the reading spot.
As you can see above, his new chair has arrived, and he has rearranged the furniture yet again, so you know he is definitely related to me!  If you are new here, my son is a film producer, now living and working in Beijing, China.  You can read a post written by him in the featured post below the main post on this page.  He talks about his leased studio apartment which came furnished with very basic Ikea-type pieces.  This apartment, and others similar, actually sell for a staggering sum which would buy you a pretty great house most anywhere in the United States, but if you are just leasing as he is, the rent is comparable to most very large U.S. cities.  

He has gotten his art pieces back from the framer, and he says that the workmanship is just exquisite and the pieces are quite heavy.  He cannot hang them on the walls because there is a silk wall covering; therefore, he cannot put holes in it since it would be impossible to patch.  He solved that by propping all his art and mirrors.  I suggested that he might think about using an easel or something like that for one of the large pieces, and possibly try some easel style stands for the smaller pieces.  



In this photo, you can see a floral painting, very much in the Chinese style, propped against the bookcase.  The large mirror is propped against the wall on what is supposed to be a coffee table. This placement brings light into this part of the space, as our eyes perceive a mirror as a window.
One must always be aware of what a mirror reflects, too, and in this case, it picks up light from the lamps as well as another mirror.

Next to the reading chair, you see a small Asian print propped on what was one of the nightstands which he is now using as a side table.
He has turned the sofa sideways again with it's back toward the sleeping area dividing the room in half which has created a very cozy little sitting space.  He tells me he rarely has more than one guest at a time, so this works perfectly for those intense conversations.


You may remember that this table next to the wall, which was supposed to be the dining area, he now uses for his desk.  The TV which came with the unit is now the monitor he uses for his film editing, for which he uses his MacBookAir.  The large calligraphy piece in front is propped on the floor.

Center,  in profile here, is a large dressing mirror which is constructed on an easel type of base.  He has discovered the trick of bouncing light around the room with mirrors.  Yes!  Good job!



Here you can tell the sofa is perpendicular to the wall with the large windows in the background, just to right out of frame.  Another piece of Asian art rests on the console at the foot of the bed.  He likes the movement of air, being warm-natured, so he has a clip-on fan at the right to keep him cool as he sleeps.  I guess they don't do ceiling fans there?  Brendan tells me that the preference seems to be for very warm interior spaces, or at least to Americans they seem quite over-heated.  He dresses in layers so that he can get comfortable wherever he goes.  

You can see a bit of the bed in the foreground here, and this gives you an idea of just how compact this apartment really is.  The kitchen is right behind the wall with the bedhead.

When Brendan was here in Alabama visiting in the Fall, he commented, "I think your living room is bigger than my whole apartment!"
I remember saying the very same thing to a friend of mine when I lived in a studio in Texas once.  When you live alone, though, a small space is very enveloping, like your home is putting it's arms around you when you come home at the end of the day.  It is somehow comforting and reassuring.  I think it is when we live with other people that we become aware of our need for more space.



Enjoying tea and reading is how he usually relaxes now at home -- he is quite the tea connoisseur.

And ... for fun↓↓

Here is a shot of him enjoying a karaoke session in Beijing recently --  channeling Bon Jovi!



A dear friend commented to me the other day that if only we had had the opportunities like this when we were young, what we could have achieved!  Upon reflection, I know that my dear son has made a lot of these opportunities himself, that they did not just fall into his lap.  However, I know what she meant.  She meant if we had grown up with parents who were a little more worldly and had been broader thinkers; that if the social climate had been twenty years ahead of where it was when we were born at the end of WWII; if more doors had been open at that time of our coming of age -- there would have been no holding us back, either.  We were programmed for one kind of life, the one our mothers lived and their mothers before them, but we became young women during one of the greatest social upheavals in modern history with one foot firmly rooted in tradition and the other stepping out into the abyss of unknown possibilities.   

I was held back and suppressed during my growing up years which continued then as a young married adult, having been passed from my family home and authority to that of my (then) husband.  I was very much treated like a lump of modeling clay, being squashed into a mould and expected to turn out a certain way.  I was never encouraged to become my best self, and all those great things Oprah over the years has told girls they can do.  It took a number of missteps and a lot of trial and error to learn to think for myself.  I don't think I was ever even encouraged to have any original thoughts of my own, certainly not any in the sense that would take me away from my pre-ordained duties as the wife/mother/daughter I was told I was destined to be.

 

The death of Mary Tyler Moore this week has made a lot of us rather philosophical about the whole scenario of where we fit into the world and what we could ultimately be, I guess, in that her TV role as "Mary Richards" made us see more clearly that we could make it on our own, and she certainly gave us that hope that we could have a career and did not have to ride on a man's coattails.  This show and the changing times, in turn, led us to raise our own children differently than we were raised, encouraging them to spread their wings and fly, to see the world, to be who they could be, and to live their lives to the fullest.  Even when they move to the other side of the world and live in a much different culture, we support them to be the very most they can be.  

My son has never sounded happier with his life than he does today!  Isn't that what any parent wants?  It should be, in my humble opinion.  



Update --  Brendan's new website/blog is up, and here is the link:

https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/home

You will enjoy his writing style, I think, and I look forward to finding out things I didn't know myself about him!









22 January 2017

THE WEEK THAT WAS --and then some



The weather cleared up beautifully Saturday afternoon (well, until later, that is) for the Women's March at Kelly-Ingram Park.  We have had a ton of much-needed rain this week, and we have had no terribly severe storms as did our less fortunate friends down in Hattiesburg, MS and parts of Georgia.  I am so sorry for all the devastating damage (again) and loss of life.


In the park there stands a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr.

This past Monday was a holiday (MLK's birthday), and for the first time we tried Papa Murphy's (take and bake) Pizza.  I suppose we were a little late to the party, but there hasn't been one in our area till now.  It was quite good!  First, though, I went to the Y and worked out very hard, so I indulged in one slice.  Portion control!  I don't do well with restrictive diets, do you?  I like food too much to cut out this and that and everything, and it is just never successful with me.  So I have just a little bit of what I like and BACK OFF!


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This week I have finally gotten all the Christmas decorations packed up -- well, almost.  There are two items in the garage that need to go to the attic.  Maybe I will get around to it today.  Maybe not...


Remember when Sweet Hubs organized the attic again?  I cannot for the life of me find the blooming Valentine box!  I told him in no uncertain terms that if he ever did that again without me, I would slap him sideways.  (You know I am only kidding -- I will probably just yell a lot.)  He has promised he won't.  Time will tell.  But I still don't know where my valentine stuff is...


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Quick update on the antiques mall/chair saga:

I still have seen no money for my two chairs.
Sweet Hubs went over and picked up our little yellow wicker desk and chair, and they told him that they have changed accountants and we can hope to be paid sometime this week.  I will believe it when I see it.  I told them that if it is going to be like pulling eye-teeth to get paid, I will not be bringing anything else in.  I guess it remains to be seen if the money will be forthcoming.  

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I watched a made for Hulu series this week with Hugh Laurie (wonderful actor in these complicated character parts) called CHANCE.  Laurie plays a neuropsychiatrist who is more of a diagnostician who refers patients to another doctor for treatment in a specialized field of psychiatry.  He becomes caught up in a tangled web of sick and crazy and lust, crossing some lines both professionally and morally.  The 10-episode series is very dark, tense, riveting and rather draining at the end.  If you like a good psychological thriller, go for it!





Speaking of which, this week I read THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 by Ruth Ware, which was also super psycho-suspenseful.  This one would make a good scary movie!  I am now in the middle of THE WHISTLER by John Grisham.  It is interesting, but I can see how a person who is not really geared to how the legal system works would find parts of it rather tedious.  You may know that I worked for lawyers for quite a few years, and at one point in my gypsy life, I considered going to law school, so to me it is not really boring.  However, to someone who has not had that exposure, it might not be quite as riveting -- although the idea of a crooked judge who is in collusion with the Coast Mafia making herself very rich by skimming from an Indian casino might intrigue you?  


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Thursday we went to Pappadeaux for lunch, and it was quite delicious as always.  Speaking of food, I have been reading my BIG BAD BREAKFAST cookbook that I showed you last time.  It is hilarious!  I would recommend this book for John Currence's stories as much as for his recipes.  We are planning a trip to Oxford again so we can try  all six of his restaurants for ourselves.  


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You know that I am not going to skip saying a little word or two about the Inauguration Day of Orange Julius Caesar* (hereinafter referred to as OJC) this week, don't you?   What a walrus, lumbering around the stage as he "danced" with his wife.  Yuk.  She always looks so frozen, with her cheeks sucked in.  Maybe it is the Botox?




So here is the narrative of how it went:  Friday, the day of the national disgrace farce, I went to the Y, worked out very hard and read my book while on the bike and the elliptical.  Then I went home and cooked, filling my house with the delicious aromas of tomatoes, garlic and basil.  I made fabulous rich spaghetti, in the time consuming way, letting the sauce simmer slowly all afternoon.  Cooking is always my way of dealing with the world's problems.  By the time it was ready to eat, I had pretty much forgotten OJC and his mail order bride, at least for a time.


I saw a bit of a recap on the late evening news, though, and yes, the mail order bride's Ralph Lauren powder blue (one of my best colors, BTW) outfit was outstanding with the elbow length kid gloves which perfectly matched her suit.  Nice look, I must say, long gloves have not been seen in decades!  I wonder what all this finery cost?  Notice the gigantic rocks on said MOB's finger as she "danced" with OJC?  Probably more than the entire budget for a third world country.  Mrs. VP looked nice, too, in her royal blue ballgown. 


Bill Maher's return to his show Friday night did not disappoint, with Jane Fonda as his opening guest.  As he told her before giving her a serious departing hug, "You are the best looking old lady I have ever seen!"  I wonder how she felt about that?  Why couldn't he have just said, "You are the best looking lady I have ever seen" without qualifying it with age?  Wasn't it Bob Seger who wrote the song about her, albeit years ago, "I Love to Watch Her Strut?"  I believe she was the keynote speaker at one of the marches on Saturday.  

This 97 year old little lady proves you can still march even if you are old and in a wheel chair.

These Women's Marches across the whole world were absolutely astounding!  Did you see the size of those crowds?  (certainly a lot more than turned out on Friday in Washington)  Official numbers are coming in, and they blow the projected numbers out of the water.  These huge turnouts clearly show that nobody is going to take OJC's nonsense lying down.   Pun intended, yes indeed!  It also shows that he is not regarded highly anywhere across the globe.  


I think this one says it all!

On Saturday, Sweet Hubs and I participated in the Women's March here in Birmingham.  I saw some great signs, but there were so many people, I didn't get great photos of all of them.  There were as many men as women, and the crowd was made up of all ages and all colors and all ethnicities.  I shot lots of photos and made some great memories.  We actually ran into two couples from our neighborhood, and I jumped for joy when I saw them.  Two of the individuals are naturalized citizens from other countries.  No, I will not tell you who they were, but let me say, I was very happy to see them!  There were thousands of people in attendance, all colors, all ages, both sexes, and some who might be a bit ambivalent in that regard.   I was never so proud of Birmingham.  Who knew?  


I think this one is actually from New York's March, but it makes such a great statement.
My Sweet Hubs will usually never go into crowds like this,
but he was really feeling it yesterday!


There are more photos of Birmingham's march under my signature, so you can skip those if you like.  You probably shouldn't, though!

The historic 16th Street Baptist Church,
across the street from the park.

Waiting to cross the street into the park as the crowd was just beginning to assemble.

This little woman was belting out Aretha's song at the top of her lungs!


This one seemed a popular sentiment around the world.

This was a popular spot for photos

My friend carried this one:
Immigrants make America great!

There were plenty of colorful characters,
and it was all very peaceful.

This is the reverse side of Miko's sign

Sorry I missed the rest!

This sentiment seemed quite popular as I saw it in photos of all the marches.

One of many colorful signs

Adorable little girl in front of me.

Unfortunately, the sun was blinding me and I cut off the last word.
What it says is, "I cannot believe we are still marching for this shit!"
Too true.



*Thanks, Brendan, for the perfect name!

15 January 2017

FALSE SPRING AGAIN!


After our little "ice storm" last weekend, this past week turned rainy and then warm, very sunny and even downright hot a few times.  That, of course, leads to False Spring Fever, which leads to lollygagging outdoors, and some coveted January porch sitting.  On Friday, we raided the Summer side of the closet for clothes and went out to enjoy the eighty degree sunshine for the day.  We had lunch out a few times this week, too, something we don't do usually more than once a week.  Deep Dish Chicago style pizza and Chinese food -- mixed Mandarin -- (which I ate with the red chopsticks offered) were our little treats on a couple of those days.  My son told me the red chopsticks are for Chinese New Year and asked me if I took them home.  I didn't, but I should have, maybe.  I think they would look kinda cool crisscrossed through my silvery grey curls.  Maybe I will go back and ask for a pair because I think Chinese New Year is basically celebrated all through January.

Saturday afternoon found me checking out an estate sale of mind-boggling proportions, then recuperating with  more porch sitting with a glass of Simi Chardonnay and the latest Harry Bosch mystery from Michael Connelly.  I have had the book quite a while, just not reading as much as usual, but I am definitely back into it now.  I have read till past midnight twice and finished it two days.  Connelly never disappoints.

The birds were singing their little hearts out, and one neighbor a few doors down likes to play his mandolin or banjo, I can't quite tell which, on his own back porch on nice weekends.  It is a very pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  The blooming Canada Geese, which populate the lake areas around here, fly over the neighborhood now and then making a royal mess while squawking to beat the band, their momentary cacophony interrupting the pleasant dueling concerts between the birds and the banjo player every now and then.  


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Fancy ice bucket

Waterford

The estate sale was held in a very heavily wooded area that was developed probably thirty years or so ago, quite spiffy in it's day, and some of it still is.  I remember going over there a few times for decorating appointments.  


There were two of these, as well as many other gilded pieces.


I chose to take the second alternate route offered by GoogleMaps, and I relished the solitary ride through the countryside, populated with horse properties bookended by forests, blessed with glorious sunshine and pleasant temperatures.  Sweet Husband elected to stay home and do his laundry interspersed with his football watching.  To each his own!



Arriving about one thirty, I had to park at least half a mile away, so I definitely got my exercise for the day.  Then the house itself was so enormous, three stories and a pool house of two stories.  I took a few snaps as I walked through, but the items I had my eyes on in the preview slideshow were not to be found.  I did see a couple of things I might possibly like to have -- at the right price.  I was so exhausted I had to rest after my first trip through.


I really like this huge painting...

I didn't buy a single thing, although there was certainly a lot to see.  Who needs at least five dining room table and chair sets?  My life must be lacking something.  Maybe I will go back at the end of the sale and get something for half price, or maybe I won't.  I am resolved not to buy stuff that catches my fancy this year, just because it does.  I have decided to save my money for a trip to China, and I am not buying anything I don't (a) NEED or (b) LOVE AND CAN LIVE WITHOUT.   




Leo

On that note, I have to tell you that Trader Bob's told me they sold my two antique chairs right before Christmas.  I haven't seen the money, yet, but I did buy a silver-plated lion single bookend over there for fifteen dollars when I went over there to check.  I am a Leo, and that reclining lion just had my name on it. 


Pretty Limoges--
pretty china often does not get more than a cursory look at these sales
On the way home from the estate sale, I saw a dead raccoon in the middle of the road.  It's one of those things we don't cry over down here, but it struck me that I had seen quite a lot of roadkill on this little outing.  I think ALDOT is falling down on the job.  Speaking of roadkill, are you following what's going on in Washington?  Unbelievable.
  
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On the culinary front, this week I made ham and beans and rice and coleslaw for supper one night when it was cold and rainy.   Not an epicurean marvel, true, but very good, as was the egg salad, pizza, chicken soup and some other stuff like hamburgers and hot dogs I made this week, too, but I suppose none of it is terribly fascinating.  Just January comfort food.   (Yes, we had a homemade pizza the same week as the pizza outing:  we like pizza!)

We did go out again to Big Bad Breakfast for an late brunch/early lunch one day, and it has gotten very good again after sort of a slump there for a while.  


Sweet Husband bought me a signed copy of their new cookbook!  I had not realized that John Currence of Oxford, Mississippi restaurant fame (City Grocery), was connected with this place.  Cool beans!  The book looks wonderful, and our lunch was really very tasty.  I had the Big Bad BLT with avocado and a spicy Bloody Mary (which had some tasty pickled green beans stuck in as a garnish), and Sweet Hubs enjoyed the Breakfast Burrito and a Bloody Mary, too.  


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I will make another post sometime this week showing you some updates of my son's Beijing apartment, now that he has his wing chair and the art has come back from the framer's.  He has made a nice little home there.






Off to Costco, earlier in the week.
Silly me, ready for Valentine's a little early in blush jeans, red boots, bag and top.
I figure I am old enough to wear what I like, 
what makes me happy.
Who cares what anyone else thinks?
Not me!



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