Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Call from China

I'm worn out - too much Wii I think, but I am enjoying it. Initially I only had one handpiece, but now have two, and another DVD with more games, and the Wii Fit, but not the opportunity to try it all as yet. I have enjoyed the "bowling" and have managed to improve my performance. Still a long way to go to match the talents of the 5 year old grandson!!!

I've had a few emails from students in China, as it is school holidays so many are at home and not sure what to do.

At the same time I have had a call from someone I have only met briefly who was seeking information about cancer treatment for her sister. She was a nurse when my husband was in hospital last year, and she was thinking of going to China to teach, but in the meantime, her sister is diagnosed with cancer. The lady has five children and not a good family life. In any case, the nurse has become her sister's career.

I contacted a doctor friend in China, who is a very caring person. I thought he'd email me the information, but he phoned me.

It was quite a shock. I said, "Where are you calling from?" thinking that he must be in Australia.

His reply shocked me. "I'm in Shaoxing."

I was in a car out the front of our house, as I'd just come home with a friend, so told him to hang up, and I would call him on Skype. Which I did.

We had quite a chat.

What a thrill.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Wee or Wii?

It all started last year when my son bought a Wii (pronounced 'wee') for his family. Because of my travelling I didn't really see it until quite a few weeks ago, when 5 year old grandson beat me at every virtual game we played.

I'd been a good tennis player in my day, and have good ball skills, but this 5 year old beat me at every game. And later at Trivial Pursuit, though I confess to playing a bit dumb with that. I COULD have won, but I let him. (For the last time! I'm fighting back!!!)

So for my birthday I requested my very own Wii. Not just to practice to overpower this little grandson, but I was impressed with the exercise regime the Wii offered, especially the Wii Fit program. I could do with an increase in physical activity!

When the box arrived and I looked inside - I knew I needed technical support. I MAY have been able to sort out the myriad of bits and bobs, but when you have a talented son-in-law who is always keen to play with technology, I called him. After all, with all the babysitting I am ahead quite a few brownie points.

So he came - fortunately with Misses 5 and 9 year old. They were clearly more experienced at Wii than he was. They don't have one at their place, but the girls had played often with their 5 year old cousin.

I watched in awe as the girls assisted their father (who at one stage had to phone HIS brother to get advice on one aspect of the connection), but soon it was in full working order.

The girls set up me Mii (my virtual persona), and we played ten pin bowling. As it was my gift I was not so graciously permitted to have the first "go". I was in awe at the talent of the girls, but pleased to advise that in the end I was the winner (albeit by a small margin), of the first game.

Then tennis. Not such a good result here. I will have to practice more.

I will have to spend more time with my Wii - and get my skills up to speed so that I can at least keep my head up high when I play with young Mr 5 year old.

I do wish the makers of this amazing technology had chosen a different name. A lady of my tender years discussing one's "Wii" does give my friends an initial scare, as they have no idea what I am talking about, and at first think I am inappropriately discussing bodily functions. I guess I will have to have a few "Wii Parties" with my friends to introduce them to this technology.

In any case, there are several benefits for me with this new technology.

* It allows me to discuss modern technology with those who are most impressed (my grandchildren)
* It will give me the opportunity of exercising in another way, rain, hail or shine.
* I will be able to practice tennis and perhaps win one or two points to minimize the embarrassment when I play the 5 year old!
* The girls are keen to visit me more often because they do not have a Wii.
* I can have wine, Wii, and cheese parties in my loungeroom! Wheeeeee!!!!

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Summer holidays = more emails.

About which I am delighted I might say! The students with no worries about study have been sending me emails. I love to keep in touch with them - and give the occasional English lesson as well, correcting their minor errors.

You know the good students - the ones that are keen to keep trying their English - and don't mind sending messages and getting the occasional advice on their grammar or spelling.

One delightful lady has been able to gain a place in a higher education facility - she was only doing Diploma but now will start a university in Hangzhou where she can get a Bachelors degree. I so love to hear those stories. It is very competitive and I remember getting a Skype message from this young lady who was so worried that she had not passed the examination.

She was quite desperate - and I had to convince her that "she had done her best" and that there was little to do but feel positive and await the outcome. Of course all her worry was for nought, as she did manage to upgrade her skills.

She sent me photos of her classmates - all young people who attended my classes - so it was good to see them. My, how some of them have changed - hardly "grown up" as they were in their twenties when I knew them, but they do change hairstyles, some feaures etc.

So wonderful to be able to keep in touch.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Great new tool!

While in Adelaide on Wednesday night I picked up a brochure about the latest popular books - I was just interested to see what is regarded as the good books to read right now.

Only today did I discover a great advertisement on the back cover - for something I have been looking for! When I travel to China or Korea, I always have a luggage problem. If I didn't want to take books, and other teaching resources with me it would be easier, but I always struggle to keep within the luggage limits.

In Australia we have a limit of 20 kgs - not a lot really, and when you stay for long periods and have to take winter and summer clothes, it is a challenge. Buy things there? Mmmm. Please tell me where......... you see I am tall, and much bigger bodied than Chinese or Korean women so buying in a shop is not an option for me. And I can't buy shoes - my feet are too long!

So the weight of my luggage is a big issue. Last time I tried to find scales - even to going to BCF to look for fishing scales, but they were too big and expensive.

Imagine my delight to read on the back of the brochure from Adelaide airport that they have a tiny digital luggage scale - which looks so simple and easy to use.

I must have one.

So I've got my scouts checking out today - not that I need it urgently but when I get it I can tick it off my list.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Tram to Glenelg

I remember the "old" Glenelg tram that used to go from the centre of the city (Hindmarsh Square I think) down to Glenelg - they were green, timber trimmed trams and rattled along the tracks. Quite romantic in a historic way. In recent years the tram track has been extended to near the Adelaide Railway Station on North Terrace, but it was on King William Street that I joined the tram.

Strangely we were offloaded at East Tce, as unbeknown to me and other passengers we had climbed aboard a "shuttle tram" so we had to wait about 10 minutes until another tram arrived to take us to Glenelg.
The new trams are modern air conditioned models, but many lament the passing of the old trams.

Soon I was at Glenelg and I alighted at the Brighton Road end of Jetty Road, and slowly walked along the full length of Jetty Road, popping into shops occasionally, but just enjoying the walk.

At Glenelg there is a jetty - I think for most of my childhood I recall that there was none, as the original jetty had been washed away in a storm very early in my childhood. It was rebuilt in 1969. I stood at the jetty and looked back - to see great high rise apartments where once there were parks. Still standing though is the old Glenelg Town Hall - where as a teenager I attended the regular Saturday night dance.
I don't recall how I got there - but I do remember my father always waiting for me at midnight as the dance finished. Not much chance to play up!!

Beside the old Town Hall is a huge monument to Governor Hindmarsh and the first settlers that arrived on the good ship Buffalo way back in 1836. Strangely not only my ancestors (the Abbott family) but my husband's ancestors (the Broadbents) were also on board, and were obviously part of the first settlers to Adelaide.

Strange that years later descendants of two families on board would join in marriage. I had lunch at a little restaurant near the end of Jetty road - enjoying some calamari and a glass of wine. Then I tried to catch a bus back to Marion. I'd been given information as to where I could catch the bus, but when I arrived a fellow traveller disputed my information, so I phoned the information centre. I was in the right street, but on the wrong side! In any case, just after I crossed to the correct place a bus came along and I climbed on board.

The bus wound round and round the back streets of Glenelg, Somerton, Brighton, Hove and Seacliffe on a long route to Marion. I often remember my struggles with travel sickness as a child, when I could not go very far in a car without being overcome with nausea etc. And so it was with the bus trip! Perhaps I should have got out and caught a taxi, or when near a railway station, the train, but I endured the suffering, hoping that my stomach contents would remain in my stomach until we got to Marion. I really suffered, but luckily got to Marion and quickly got off and walked slowly in the fresh air to my sister's place and quickly recovered.

Adelaide City

I enjoyed my "PFD" - parent free day. I go to Adelaide for the express purpose of visiting my elderly parents, so endure most of my time living the past, being told the same story over and over again, eating food that I'd rather not, but then enjoying the frequent glasses of Pattriti Tawny Port!

On Monday I had my "PFD" and caught the train into the city. I learned that as a "senior" public transport is free (buses, trains, and trams" during the hours of 9 am and 3 pm) so I took advantage of that.

I caught the train from the new Oaklands Railway Station - moved a little from the station that I was more familiar with as a youngster. It was on the station that I met a lady, of Italian descent, who had lived in the area for 52 years.

Many migrants came to Australia post war and she and her husband came out from Italy (somewhere near Venice) and lived there. He is no longer around (I assumed deceased) but she spoke of him with a little bitterness as she claims he forced himself on her when she was just 18, and a pregnancy resulted!

Her son and I went to the same school, though he was a couple of years younger than me, and I did not recall him. We had quite a chat on the train going to the city.

When we arrived at the city, we parted ways - but it was a wonderful short time we spent together. I walked a little way along North Terrace and when I saw at the top of the entrance steps, a sign that said "Welcome to Parliament House" I ventured up the stairs and into the main foyer.

Now, when I was a regular pedestrian on North Terrace as a school girl, and as an office worker on North Terrace, only parliamentarians and people doing high level business with our politicians were permitted.

As it turns out, Fridays are the days to see through Parliament House on guided tours so, I had picked the wrong day, but perhaps I can do that next time I am in Adelaide.

I walked around to Rundle Mall and walked the length of the Mall before getting on a tram in King William Street and going to Glenelg - another place that I have great memories of, all those years ago when I lived in Adelaide.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Is this a lemon?

Isn't this the weirdist????

It is a malformed lemon that appeared in a greengrocer shop - and given to my sister.

We initially wondered what it was, but I looked closely and saw that it had the texture of lemon skin, and we slightly scratched the end near where it would have been attached to the tree, and found the strong lemon scent.

Maybe will be told the story of it - but at the moment - I know nothing. Freaky really.

My Dad and his hat.

I gave my Dad one of the Shaoxing hats, and he looks good in it - but he's not a "hat man" and though he is impressed with the look, I'm not sure where or when, or IF he will wear it.

At 90 he still plays bowls, and they guys there know he has a wild sense of humour, so I suspect he will one day be "brave" enough and wear his new hat.

It is bitterly cold in Adelaide at the moment and the houses I spend time in are not well heated. They have heaters but one has to almost stand on the heater to get warm. (No wonder I moved to Brisbane and stayed there!!!)

I've spoken to the folks (my parents in particular) about split systems but they are resisting. It is not lack of funds, but they don't think they will get value for their investment! Mum intends to be around for another few years - she reckons that 95 would be a good age to reach.

I find their house SO COLD I'd put in a split system even if I only had a few months to go. The folks often complain of the cold, and in the summer, they complain about the heat. Go figure why they won't solve the problem!!!

Dad's a pretty progressive guy - he has a digital movie camera and a cell phone - but I can't get him to consider the better heater.

I am here in Adelaide to be with the family for Dad's 90th birthday. He didn't want a great event - he'd rather have little attention, and no gifts. But we are having a family luncheon tomorrow - that's all. For me it will be great to have my parents, sister, her two children (28 and 30 years old!!!), and my neice's fiance, and my sister's partner all at one event, and yes, it will be in a cold house, but I think we will warm ourselves up with laughing, eating and drinking.

I've spent quite a lot of time with my folks, but a quiet day on my own today. Did a little shopping, and will do some cooking.

Just a nice quiet "me" day, as my sister is out.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

My Shaoxing Hat

When I was in Shaoxing (China) I bought several of these hats. The story is that they are worn by the boatmen who ply their trade in Shaoxing boats around the many waterways of Shaoxing.

They are always black, made of double felt, and of course work wonders in keeping the head warm in the very cold winters of that part of China.

Generally the folk that wear them are "old men" so I was told, and not only the boatmen but the tricycle (modern rickshaw) men wear them too.

They are sold during winter in the tourist spots around Shoaxing, and I took a fancy to them. I bought some for some of the men folk of the family, and one for me. I'd never worn it until yesterday.

I've got to say, on me it is a great fashion statement! I wore it almost all day as I had a couple of appointments. Everywhere I went people asked me about it. Even the ENT specialist I went to see asked if he could hold it and feel what it was like. He too had been to China and we chatted about our experiences there for a bit.

Last night I went to a "soiree" at the office of an Australian Senator (politician) and as I knew from previous years, that it was to be outdoors and it was very cold, I chose to wear my Shaoxing hat.

Again, it was a talking point, and so many people commented on how it suited me - looked great. Even I felt gret in it.

So I think I'll wear it a little more. I'm off to Adelaide next week, and I do have one for my father for his 90th Birthday, but I will wear mine too.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

I've rejoined 5W!

I think some readers will have no idea what that is, so I will explain. In 2005 when I was headed to Ireland on my own, I found out through reading a travelling magazine about an international organisation based in the UK, but with members from all over the world that connect for cultural exchange.

5W? Women Welcome Women World Wide - there are the 5 W's, and with thousands of members all around the world it is especially good for creating friendships across countries, across borders, and so forth.

When I went to Ireland I did stay with a member near Waterford, and I note that she is still a member.

Today I made contact with a member in Adelaide, and I may well meet with her when I go to Adelaide next week. Not that I am short of things to do in Adelaide, but I'm always happy to meet new people.

So if there is any reader who is interested - you might visit the website. You can join on line - there is a membership donation of 35 pounds.

Women Welcome Women World Wide

Saturday, 4 July 2009

I miss the grandchildren.

I guess the people I miss most when I travel are the grand children, and when I return it is good to see them again and catch up with them. My, how they grow!!!

We have four now - the eldest is turning 9 on Monday and she is celebrating with some friends from school (it is school holidays) with an Asian themed party. Now the children do have quite a few souvenirs from my travels and I am reminded frequently that I had stated that I would like to take the two older ones to China. I mean it. I'd love to - subject to my bank balance being filled from an unknown source by thousands of dollars. I mean, it would cost me up to $4000 per person, and the two girls want to go, and of course their mother, so I'm up for $16,000 - before the menfolk put their bids in. And the other family - the other two grandchildren will want to go too, so I'm up for big bucks which I just don't have.

Meanwhile we will just have to play at Asian things. Mind you, the order for the birthday cake to be in the shape of a red Chinese dragon, will be a challenge for mother. The guests will get Asian gifts and some food will be Asian inspired, but we are not sure of the inspiration for the requested purple plates, serviettes and so forth, though I will produce some of my purple Chinese souvenirs to convince some people that purple is still popular in China.

I did have tickets in the $90,000,000 Ozlotto draw and was pretty confident, but something went wrong and I didn't get a cent. Still, you've got to be in it to win it they say. And since I only spent $5 on tickets, it was worth the gamble.

Today I attended an Eisteddfod where granddaughter number two performed in her very first competition. Boy, I was proud. I thought she was the best and she probably would have won a high prize but near the end her nerves got the better of her and she missed a few steps. Still, she got a Highly Commended and we were are all proud of her. She has also announced that she was proud of herself, so we have higher hopes for the next three attempts at competition coming up over the next few months.

Still, these are the things that grandmothers should attend. I've missed some great events, and I hope not to miss too many,but with 4 grandchildren there are many events on offer and still I would not be able to attend all - even if I was in the country all the time.

Meanwhile, I'm writing some course material for a TESOL course. I'm kept busy. Dreaming. Writing. Keeping up with the family.

Friday, 3 July 2009

My Purple Passion

In recent years I have developed a passion for the colour purple. I think it crept up on my because eventually I found I had an extra ordinary collection of purple things.

Dresses, t-shirts, scarves (a looong story there), bags, shoes, pictures, picture frames - and could I go on. Recently I bought a huge purple fluffy blanket for my bed. I like white too - so purple and white things adorn my room.

Today I added to the collection. Now, just in case MM would look in horror at another purple invader of our house, I announced that it was my gift for a donation to the Leukemia Foundation. It is true. Actually I bought it knowing that some of the funds would go to the Leukemia Foundation - as part of their Lavender promotion which is held each year.

I think this cute little bear is going to live on my bed for a while.

Meanwhile if any reader would like to add some dollars to the Leukemia Fund - look around for displays of their Lavender products.

For more information click here.

Cooking the Figs

What do you do with ten small figs? I do like eating them fresh and raw, but I have determined to make a conserve and found a good recipe on a blogsite here. I don't have a kilo of figs, and there are two more to ripen, but if I don't use the ones I have picked I will have to freeze them and I don't want to do that.

So today I will follow the recipe (divided by 4) and see what I can produce. At least the figs won't go to waste.