‘Tis the season…

Now that you mention it, it wasn't really the night before Christmas and we weren't in a house. In fact there were many creatures stirring (mostly human, I think) and I didn't see any stockings hung anywhere, there not being a chimney nearby. Be that as it may…

We had a wonderful Christmas play put on by the children of the parish, shortly after the end of Mass last week. Here in Shanghai, many of the foreigners in the international parish make plans to visit their home countries during the Christmas holiday, so our celebrations are pushed forward on the calendar to a time before people start to leave. Here's a collage from one of our “staff photographers” showing the little angels all dressed up like little angels.

Later that day, the parish met to celebrate a potluck luncheon and enjoy some caroling. We served about two hundred or so and enjoyed ourselves immensely. The caroling was great fun, and the food was delicious. But the best part was seeing the parishioners come together…many different faces from many parts of the world. Being an American, it made me think of home.


So, even though it's still a little early, Merry Christmas!


Our visit to Xi’an on National Day 2011

Our visit to Xi’an on National Day 2011
The first part.
October 1 2011. National Day celebration in China is a week-long holiday. Since school was out for the period, we jumped at the chance to travel. Of course, so did a large fraction of the population. Marianne and I decided to take a tour of the area of the terra-cotta warriors near Xi’an. She arranged a tour for us and we were looking forward to a great time. I’m American and never have seen anything close to the majesty of  this archaeological find; Marianne hadn’t seen it either, so we were both looking forward to the trip.
We began our journey Saturday morning in Chong Ming. We walked up to the main road in town and took one of the tricycle taxis over to the long-distance bus terminal for the one hour trip to the Shanghai bus terminal. We arrived in good shape. It’s not a troublesome bus ride; the busses are comfortable, if crowded. From the bus terminal, we walked the short distance to the Metro station, where we were going to transfer to the Number One Metro train. For that to happen, we needed to catch the train on the platform above the street, for Metro runs above and below ground at different parts of town. Shanghai Metro is fairly well accessible, but some places are better designed than others. The Wen Shui Lu (okay, that’s One Shway Loo in phonetic English) Metro terminal has installed small lifts in several places—these are large closet sized elevators. The lift reminds me of an industrial strength (and square) push-up ice cream treat, or, less tastefully, a syringe or worse yet, a tube of caulk. There is no passenger compartment, but only a platform and its control panel which rises and lowers within the walled elevator shaft.
Except when it doesn’t work. When it works, it’s a little scary; when it fails, it’s more than a little scary.
Understand that the lift is reserved for people with mobility problems, so any trouble with the elevator is harder to deal with than you first think it will be. So, when we found ourselves stuck in the lift at Wen Shui Lu, halfway between floors, I thought to myself, what a great way to begin our vacation. Interesting challenge. But we’ve been in these kind of situations before and it was just another time when we put our trust in the Lord and went ahead, doing what we had to do.
That day I taught Marianne to climb a ladder. Metro personnel were on the scene quickly, with the ladder and copious vocal encouragement. She stood up, we passed the wheelchair over our heads to the waiting hands above us. Then it was her turn. As we were arranging to climb out, she says “I cannot do this!” I said “Sure you can.” Of course she could, there was no other choice. With the station crew pulling, and me pushing her up, putting her feet in the right spots on the rungs, she climbed out of the elevator well. All OK. She did just fine. Like she does this stuff every day. Angels come is all descriptions; some look like Metro workers.
A short Metro ride later we were at home in Shanghai.
That night, we saw some live entertainment at the Shanghai Cultural Square. In a production by the Shanghai Grand Theatre Arts Company, we enjoyed two hours of Broadway show tunes in the newly completed venue. It was well done, we thought. Featuring a broad complement of entertainers from the States and around the world, we were impressed with the performance.
The next morning we woke up late, attended Mass at noon and then wandered over to the Shanghai train station to begin our journey to Xi’an and the terra-cotta warriors and archers. (Xi’an is spelled with the apostrophe to show that the word has two syllables pronounced something like “She” and then “ahn”)

Where’s the water, waiter?

Over at the Hao Hao Report, they’re discussing some favorite brands in China. Among other items, they’ve featured a brand of packaged drinking water (the stuff from the tap is unfit). The brand name is Wahahah Water. I imagine hearing someone calling for one of these things in much the same way as a football cheerleader might do, with a similar response from wags around the world. “Gimme a Wah! Gimme a Ha! Gimme a Wah Hah Hah!!”

And of course, now that my brain has awakened to the insanity of possibility (or should it be the reverse?) I presume that somewhere, someone is establishing a New, Improved version of Wahahah Water. Of course, this newly developed second version must be identified – it could only be known as version “B” — giving us the opportunity to enjoy a


any time we choose.

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