Tag Archives: Featured

Surprise visitor

I looked up from washing dishes and there was a hawk sitting on the rail of our deck.

I  have never seen one there before. I raced off to find my camera and, as quietly as I could, I removed the screen and opened the window. It didn’t notice the screen removal but flew up into our maple tree when I opened the window.

We tried to figure out what type of hawk it was using the pictures and a field guide, but only got as far as recognizing that it was immature. It is likely either a Sharp-shinned or Cooper’s hawk. Both common around here, but not in my front yard.

It made my day.

Cherry On Top

Up on my feet, down on my seat

Part of a series of posts about my experiences on a trip to China in October 2015. The series of posts related to this can be seen on my page “Sleeping Dragon Slowly Opens One Eye”.

As I have mentioned a few times, I am a planner. I like to know where I am going and have an idea of what to expect. This post is about going, rather blindly, along with the flow.

Our trip was planned by others, and the plan changed more than once, to the point where we went to bed the night before only knowing that someone was to pick us up at 8 am the next morning. James didn’t know which of the people he knew were going to be picking us up, and we didn’t know where we were going.

Sunny posing for a picture taken by her dad.
Sunny posing for a picture taken by her dad.

It turned out to be the family of one of his students, a little cutie named Sunny. He knew her parents and had been to Mount Tai with them and some others last summer.

In the car we learned that we were going to a national park called Yishan and it would take about two hours of driving to get there.  It was not until I got home and was able to plot the GPS data from the pictures I took that I was able to figure out where Yishan is: southwest of Weifang, almost as far south as Qingdao but to the west of it.

Entrance to Yishan National Park, Weifang, Shandong Province.
Here we are.

Although Yishan is not oriented to westerners many of the signs have English explanations. I used photos I took of the signs and sights to piece together a better idea of what I saw than I had at the time I was seeing it.

Yishan National Park in Shandong: hotel under construction.
Hotel under construction.

Yi Shan as a national park struck me as new. The entrance, visible in the picture through the windshield was fairly new and there was a lot of construction going on, including what looked like a large hotel pretty far up the mountain. That could be a very nice place to stay when it is done.  The views will be terrific. I wonder how hard the beds will be. Even though the park buildings are new there are temples and features that are very old.

You take a shuttle bus up from the main entrance area to the start of a series of stairways, to the Jade Emperor Pavilion at the summit of Yi Shan.

Yishan National Park in Shandong: View looking to the top from the bus stop.
You walk up from here. View looking to the top from the bus stop.

On the way up I noticed that people had put stones in the trees. I asked our host and, after consulting his cell phone, he said that they are for blessings.

The walk up and the summit had nice views out in many directions. It was over cast and just a bit hazy, much less hazy than it had been the previous weekend at Tai Shan. Apparently, when it is very clear you can see to the sea from the top of Yishan. It wasn’t very clear but the views were nice.

The Jade Emperor Pavilion at the top is a charming temple. Less majestic in scale than many but it has many ornate details and is well maintained.

I am not sure what is the significance of this rock, but it was the place to get your picture taken.

My son and I at "the rock".
My son and I at “the rock”.

You then slide down a granite slide on your backside. This is not my type of activity, but I could see that it would take all day to walk back down all the stairs we had climbed. So I tied on my seat cover donned my gloves and sat down. I didn’t go very fast for fear of losing control. The way to control your speed is to push your feet against the sides of the slide. Even though I wouldn’t have signed up for the experience it was an efficient way to get down and I would probably go a little faster next time. It was fun once I started to get the hang of it.

On the bus ride down there were two stops: Marvellous Waterfall

and Yishan DongzhenTemple.

At the Dongzhen temple they did a reenactment of an imperial rite.

The main temple is quite new, in fact they were still painting the entrance gate red, but there are some very old trees, an altar and a bixi (giant stone tortoise with a stele on its back) that are very old.

An explanation…sort of.

This sign explains a bit, but after trying to find information online and reading the signs, I couldn’t totally figure out what was what beyond that the altar, some trees and the bixi are quite ancient and that the temple, in fact the whole site is a sort of seaside Mount Tai and that some emperors came here either in addition to or instead of there. The Dongzhen temple is analogous to the Dai Miao in Tai’an.

Regardless of my lack of understanding, it was a great day enjoying the scenery and culture in China. Stuff I couldn’t have planned since I knew nothing about their existence and wouldn’t have dared to try if I knew about it ahead of time.


Gramps’s Legacy

Going through papers looking for the information needed by the VA for a pension for Grandma , I found these items in an old chest of my grandfather’s, things he collected and cherished.

Memorabilia from the Marines. Including all the letters related to his Distinguished Flying Cross. He was a Marine, an everyday, ordinary hero, manning up until he could no longer stand up.In physical therapy during the week before his death you could see him struggle, but he never complained.

His ukulele book. He taught himself to play the ukulele and brought it along on many vacations. We learned the songs with pauses for chord changes.:

  • I’m looking over a four leafed clover, That
  • I over-looked before.
  • One leaf is sunshine, the…
  • second is rain,
  • third is the roses that…
  • grow in the lane…
  • No need explaining, the one remaining is…
  • somebody I adore. 
  • I’m looking over a…
  • four leafed clover that
  • I over-looked before.

A joke we had fun with. Can you figure it out?

  • OSAR
  • LIB
  • OSAR
  • LIB
  • OSAR
  • LIB
  • OSAR
  • LIB

I don’t know how I want to be remembered. My brain seems to only be firing on a couple of cylinders right now, but when I saw the prompt, it made me think of Gramps.

I can almost prune an apple tree, due to his coaching. I would be up the ladder in the tree and I could tell when I should cut a branch off because his hands would twitch, as if he were using clippers.

I mostly find humor in things…and I sing “I’m looking over, a four leafed clover” with gusto, out of tune and with rests in all the wrong places. And I tend to stick with things…to a fault sometimes. Maybe, just a little bit, I am his legacy. And maybe what I wish for as a legacy is someone who remembers me with fondness, even though I am usually out of tune and it takes me a while to change chords.

Semper fi!!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Don’t You Forget About Me.” and Legacy.

Happy Mama

KSM-20140418-HappyMama-12-480pxI was in Qingdao, China. In an adorable cafe called “The Giraffe”. I was with Emily, my son’s girfriend, and our ability to communicate together was quite limited, smiles, laughter, shei shei, Emily’s cell phone app and my Lonely Planet phrasebook, and I was tired, oh so tired.

James (my son) insisted that I should have a Chinese cell phone so I could reach him or Emily in case I needed as I wandered Weifang alone while they worked. I got it the day before Emily and I went on our outing to Qingdao and had set the alarm for 5:30 am since Emily was going to pick me up at 6. I went to sleep and was wakened by the cell phone. It felt like I had only been asleep a few minutes. I crawled out of bed and headed for the hot pot to make instant coffee. I was so tired my eyes weren’t all the way open. After a cup of coffee my brain started to function. It seemed awfully dark for that time of morning. Turns out it was11:00 pm. My phone had bleeped because its battery was dying.

KSM-20140418-HappyMama-01-480pxThe next morning I was in a little better shape, but the caffeine at 11 meant that I didn’t get the best night’s sleep. We rushed to the train station. The ticket line was so long that we were not going to make our train. Emily talked a young woman who was close to the front of the line into buying our tickets for us. This meant that we were all sitting together.

After leaving the train station we went to the beach, bought some souvenirs then headed out to see the town a bit. Emily had a Chinese map of the city and was looking for the house of a famous author. I later learned from my son that Emily, while she has many fine attributes, can’t read a map.

I really didn’t much care about seeing any particular site. The cherry blossoms were out in force and it was a beautiful day, sunny, mostly clear skies, not too hot or too cold.

But as noon approached these old bones needed a rest and I really needed something to drink, preferably with a bit of caffeine.

KSM-20140418-HappyMama-10-480pxWe spied the light pole first. As soon as I realized it was a coffee shop I somehow communicated that this was where I wanted to be.

At the table they had a little book for people to write in, and people from all over had written notes. Emily enjoyed reading them and wrote something in the book herself then passed it to me. I wrote that I was happy to be there with Emily, since she does not read English I looked up “happy” in my phrase book and signed the note XingfuMama. (In Chinese Characters).

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “All About Me.”