Sunday, April 23, 2006

BULLETIN: They've Hatched!!!

 Olivia and her newly-hatched ducklings somehow made it down from the roof and are swimming in our upper pond. I just hope that the cats, raccoons, skunks and other creatures of the night leave them alone. She'd got about a dozen. Obviously she knew what she was doing when she nested on our roof. We humans, however, weren't convinced. I have no idea how she got them down. All I know is that she was sitting on her nest yesterday afternoon. This morning the ducklings were on the pond. I feel like a grandmother. Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 14, 2006

Up On The Roof

 It's difficult to photograph a pale-feathered female mallard sitting in a pile of leaves that are about the same color as she is. Kerry gave it his best shot. It doesn't help that she has her beak tucked under her wing. So this is Olivia, Larry's mate, sitting on a nest of eggs. How she will ever get those chicks off the roof when they hatch is beyond me. We don't know how long she has been up there so we can't even start watching for them. I'll keep you posted. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Dragon Boat on West Lake

 The boat on which we toured the lake was much smaller than the Dragon Boat. It looks like something you would go on at night and have dinner. West Lake covers 1,483 acres but is only 5 feet deep. Posted by Picasa

The Forbidden City

 This is one of several thrones we saw in the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City has 9,999 rooms. Much of it is being renovated for the Olympics in 2008. Construction of the city began in 1407 shortly after the capital of China was moved to Beijing. The City covers 250 acres and is surrounded by a moat. Bridges on all four sides provide access to the area. A 32-foot wall surrounds the City to keep the common people out. That's why it's called the Forbidden City. Now it's a museum. Posted by Picasa

More Friendly People

 We were leaving the tea plantation on our bus when these women spotted us. Everyone waved and smiled. It's a good feeling when this happens. Posted by Picasa

Boating On West Lake

 Everyone waved and smiled at us no matter where we were in China. These people were out for a boat ride and picnic on the lake. We were in another boat for a tour. They saw us and immediately waved. We, of course, waved back. Posted by Picasa

Ladies In The Park In Shanghai

  There are so many beautiful young women in China. But aging is not kind to some. These women probably had a pretty hard life too. They were sitting together on a wall outside a park. Posted by Picasa

There's A Duck On Our Roof

 Yes, there is a female mallard (pictured here but not the one on our roof) who has built a nest on our roof. She picked a spot where several angles of the roof come together. That spot regularly catches lots of leaves from the oak tree so I doubt she had to do much to build it. Her name is Dame Olivia (aka Livy). Her husband is Sir Lawrence(aka Larry). Larry did his thing and is no where to be found right now. She's sitting on the nest on the roof. The ground predators can't get the eggs the way they usually do. Hawks might find the eggs instead. But, if the chicks hatch in about 30 days she will have to figure out how to get them off the roof without having them go splat on our deck. Livy is much paler in color than the usual female mallard that's how we know it's her. Livy and Larry hang around the bird feeders in the front yard nibbling on stray seeds dropped by the birds when they are feeding. The ducks actualy are pretty tame. I will keep you posted. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

China's Grand Canal

  This is a section of China's Grand Canal which is the longests and the oldest canal in the world. It surpasses the Suez and Panama Canals. It connects Beijing and the area surrounding it with Hangzhou in the south. Most of China's rivers move east to west so this is an important transportation artery. The canal is 1,114 miles long. Construction on it started in 486 B.C. during the Wu dynasty. It was finished in 650 A.D. It has 24 locks and 60 bridges. Posted by Picasa

McDonald's Rickshaw Advertising

 The rickshaws are like taxis, taxis often carry advertising so why not advertise on a rickshaw. We saw a lot of these in Shanghai. They are not for tourists but are a means of transportation for residents. If you would like to buy a rickshaw go to They sell the Cadillac of rickshaws and are based in New York City. Posted by Picasa

The Many Faces Of China

 After being in China for a few days I began to realize that the way the Chinese look is as varied as the way Americans look. This picture really brought home that lesson. It's not good to categorize people by physical characteristics. The clothing worn by the woman in the middle suggests that she might be from an area to the north, but I don't know for sure. Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 03, 2006

It's Not Lowes, Home Depot Or Ace Hardware

  But the shops along this roadway in Suzhou had everything that the average resident would need to do all his or her home repairs or construction. We saw many of these small shops. I'll bet the customer service is better here than at the big boxes. Posted by Picasa

Another Small, More Mature Forest

  This was a large underpass that had obviously been carefully planted with trees and bushes. It was lovely to look down and see all the greenery. Keep in mind that it's still winter there so many of the trees had not leafed out yet. Posted by Picasa

Building A Forest By The Highway

  We saw lots and lots of people planting trees all along the highways in the areas that surround Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou. This photo illustrates what we saw over and over again. It's probably part of some grand plan that the government has to make the roadways more beautiful. Afterall, they are already clean, now what. The people planting the trees were not using mechanical things to make it easier. It was lots of sweat and sore muscles. In a few years it will be beautiful. Trees are so important to the ecosystem. Also, planting trees is another way to employ people. Posted by Picasa

There Is Definitely A Theme Here

  As we were leaving the Forbidden City in Beijing, Kerry spotted the three young women. We both just like the photo. Posted by Picasa

Silk Embroidery in Suzhou

  In Suzhou (southern China) we went to the National Silk Embroidery Institute. We watched several women working with wispy strands of silk thread to create masterpieces like the one pictured here. The copyright label over the flowers is designed to keep people from stealing it. I'm just using it to illustrate a point. They don't have to worry I won't be embroidering it anytime soon. Suzhou is the place to buy embroidery. The area developed silk embroidery about 2,000 years ago. This was another one of those places where it was hard for me to watch the women bending over the fabric making tiny stitches. The light was not good and the chairs looked pretty uncomfortable. One thing Suzhou is famous for is two sided embroidery. On one side you might see a kitten. Turn it over the there is a puppy. I have no idea how they do it but the animal does not show through to the other side. Needless to say this is art and therefore, very expensive. Not my taste. I don't think anyone on our bus bought any. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Famous Terracotta Warriors

 We didn't get to see these because they are in Xian, which was not included in our trip. This is one of the reasons I want to go back to China. Shortly before our trip we saw a Discovery Channel show on the First Emperor of China, Qinshihuangdi. So far archaeologists have found 8,000 terracotta warriors buried in front of the Emperor's tomb. In addition to burying these warriors, he also buried about 700,000 people in the tomb. These were the workers who built it and childless concubines (not sure why). He didn't want anyone to find it. Pretty effective way to keep the tomb hidden. The warriors were mass produced through a series of processes that began with the molding of solid legs. Attaching a hollow head and body on the solid legs enabled the warrior to stand upright and not topple over. All of this was done 250 years before the birth of Christ. Posted by Picasa

Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou

  On the path to the temple you pass several statues that have been carved into the rock wall. The Laughing Buddha is one of them. I like it best. Contrast this to Christianity. When was the last time you saw a laughing Jesus? I'm terrible. Posted by Picasa