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September, 2010

  1. Red Red Whine

    September 21, 2010 by admin

    I have a little story to get off my chest and then I’ll let you go.  So Natalie and I are out last night having a bite and some wine.  We went to this expat hipster spot that opened this summer called The Apartment, yes, it’s too cool for school.  We had a really nice time and great service…until the bill came.  We both handed over our credit cards to split the bill.  After much ado they came back and said my card wasn’t working, then after much more ado, they came back and said Natalie’s card wasn’t working and at some point they realized their credit card machine wasn’t working.  We had cash on hand but were about 80 kuai ($11) short of the total.  So if you can believe, they told us that we had to go to the bank, BLOCKS AWAY mind you, and they would send a busboy with us to bring the money back.  Dumb.  It’s just so damn hard being an expat, can you believe the problems we have??!!!

    Musing Mandarin is going to be Musing Italian for a few weeks and will be without her laptop glued to her fingertips and will instead have a glass of wine glued to her fingertips.  If I return with enough braincells than I shall wax eloquently on the benefits of Marco Polo’s Eastern travels and the origins of the pasta noodle morphing from the Chinese noodle.

    Or maybe not…

    Red Dragon at the China Pavilion

    New Kittens at the park

    The Lupu bridge all lit up

    Obligatory Bernie and Niu Niu

    And I leave you with our happy blue friend



  2. “MacArthur park is melting…”

    September 20, 2010 by admin

    “In the dark, all the sweet green icing, flowing dowwwwwn”

    That’s the song that was streaming through my brain this morning when I woke up.  It was Donna Summer’s version and the long version at that which is the ONLY version you should ever play.  It’s the one that includes the verse:

    “I will drink the wine while it is warm and never let you catch me looking at the sun

    ohhhh, and after all the loves of my life, after all the loves of my life, you’ll still be the one”

    I DO love that song, but now it’s haunting me in my sleep and I think it’s because I’ve just recently spent so much time at the Expo (green, melting, warm wine…).  Ken and I went back AGAIN, at night, to try and cover some of the Asia/Middle East side of the park.  It’s just so unbelievably big that I really wished I had brought my rollerskates.  There are still so many pavilions we didn’t get to see, so many kebobs and fish soups uneaten, traditional dances unseen and so many water fountains to stare at and wonder if it’s actually safe to drink from them.

    Prior to what was probably our last visit to the Expo, we went for a zip on the Scooteretta and just like two dorky expats, we let it run out of ELECTRICITY!  So here we are at some shop getting some juice.

    And off we goooooooo



  3. He said, she said

    September 16, 2010 by admin

    Let’s put aside our prejudice, our fears and our stereotypes for a moment, shall we?  Because not all Americans are gun-toting yahoos, not every Italian man is trying to get you in bed and I’m pretty sure there are a few Chinese people that know how to safely operate a vehicle, OKAY?  Yes, French people are rude and the Germans love their order and all Sicilians are in the mafia…oh stop it, you know I’m kidding.  It’s just that you can never get away from these type of things, everybody does it and it’s no different in China.  If you’re from the south you eat rice, if you’re from the north you eat noodles (Shanghainese eat both).  Shanghainese women like to yell while Beijing men like to push.  The most beautiful girls are from Xi’an. Lord.  Is there anyone from the south of China enjoying noodles??  If so, please come forward and help me put this to rest.  And you know what else, real men do drink Jasmine tea.

    Anyaustraliansarethebiggestpartierseverhoo, we decided now that the weather has cooled down it was time to visit the Expo at night so off we went.  There are still some lines but they move quickly and it was beautiful to see the pavilions all lit up and  sample all the different foods.  I did have to tell them “mei you on the Mayo” on the Belgian Fries because mamma doesn’t have good experiences with mayo in China and we’ll leave it at that.

    Before we get into the pleasant Expo photos, I want to call out the girl wearing these nude hose anklets and bedazzled purple angry shoes because she and her small statured boyfriend managed to MOW us down in line and cut in front of us!! “Better city, Better life” people…

    Now, on to the pleasant memories

    Entering the Netherlands

    Taking a badly needed breather in Holland

    Girls having fun in Denmark

    The German pavilion had a live band playing…covering a Bob Dylan song

    My sweetheart getting us wine by the Italian pavilion

    Polish DJs getting ready for upcoming show

    Time to go home on the brand new subway line



  4. “Saturday, in the park”

    September 11, 2010 by admin

    But it wasn’t the 4th of July (and if you know what song that is from then you’re old like me).

    So the best place ever for a great day spent outdoors, with your DOGS ironically, happens to be in China.  I mean it, the best place ever.  It’s in Songjiang, 45 minutes from Shanghai and it’s called Shanghai Sculpture Park.  You have to pay for each person and dog to enter (and it ain’t cheap) but it’s worth every penny.  There is a man-made lake with a beach where you can swim, yards and yards of manicured lawn and gardens, an art museum, loads of sculptures to admire as well as play on and wonderful restaurants and cafes.  It was raining slightly the day we went so we had the park to ourselves!  There is also a Meridian hotel on the property that I just may be checking into for the rest of my life.

    A day of fun, nature, sculpture…and interpretive dance


  5. Some things are a must.

    September 9, 2010 by admin

    If you are alive and a human being then you understand these two things when it comes to dining out.

    1. When you go to a restaurant in the morning, a server should be at your table ready to take your coffee order and have it on the table within 5 minutes of you sitting down.  Period.

    2. When you go to a restaurant in the evening, a server should be at your table ready to take your wine order and have it on the table within 5 minutes of you sitting down.  Period.

    So imagine my mood (swinging violently) when I went to a new wine cellar/bar/restaurant and it took 12 minutes to get two glasses of wine and that was after they took our order and brought one glass of the wrong wine.  Okay, so they have some bugs to work out and it wasn’t such a great first impression but I would still return for a second punishment because it’s such a lovely space and it’s filled with amazing wine.  It’s on the Bund and the building is called the Roosevelt House, as the Roosevelt family purchased the building and brought in partners to renovate and develop this stunning old building that once housed a british trading company (opium too no less).  You can skip the bistro on the first floor as I believe Ken’s exact words were, “if I owned this place I would kill myself” and head straight to the second floor to the Wine Cellar.  The entire floor houses bottle after bottle of lovely champagnes and wines from every part of the world and at every price range.  You can just come and pick out bottles to take home, sip a glass at the bar or sit down for some serious tasting and munching.   Let’s just hope they get their service issues worked out quickly or someone with lots of time on their hands will be writing them a letter.

    From the front windows of the cellar there is a perfect view of the river and the Pearl tower.  This was taken out in front of the building and I believe I captured a UFO or the planet Mars in the right hand corner.


  6. Seek and you shall find

    September 7, 2010 by admin

    For me this photo really reflects what it can be like to live in such a big and busy city like Shanghai.  It’s can be so exciting and alive and yet so jarring at the same time (BTW, I actually took this photo at a cool new development going up which houses the Dutch Cultural Center and Gallery at 800 Changde Lu).

    For this California native it’s really important to find green areas where I can get some fresh air and exercise for the two beasts whilst enjoying nature and escaping the city for a bit.  This past weekend we did just that and discovered the amazing gardens and bamboo forests of the Sheshan National Forest Park.  There are never-ending pathways wandering through lush trees and foliage, an old, lovely Catholic church perched on a hill (no mother, I did NOT attend mass) and for the kids there is a bamboo amusement park.  There is a small fee to enter the park and they let us bring the dogs in but only because they weren’t too big.  whew!

    Entrance to the park


  7. You can’t go home

    September 1, 2010 by admin

    Well, actually you can.  and I did.  I mean I am.  Oh, what is home anyway??   Home used to be the place where my mom and dad lived until I turned 18 and my mom couldn’t wait for me to GET OUT ALREADY.  Hey, I was the last of 6 kids and you’d feel that way too if you had to raise those first 5! (I just felt 10 collective eyeballs roll back in their head).   But what I mean is, when you’re an expat, where is home?  We’ve been in Shanghai now for a year and it sure feels like home…until we come back to California and see family and then THAT feels like home.  I guess it’s like the song says…”home is where the heart is” or better “where the chips and margaritas are”.

    Some fun-in-the-sun California pix

    Zuma Beach, Mae and her daddy



    The Southern Californian Palms


    A family gathering in Newport Harbour


    Phoebe and Macy, respectively