Back to Canada for another try!

Presently I am in the process of making plans for another trip to the U.S. Consulate in Toronto Canada in a few weeks. This trip Matt has volunteered to assist me, so I am hoping he will bring me some good luck. I will try and explain the process.

I have been interested in becoming an American citizen for the last few years but was always hesitant because I did not want to denounce my Canadian citizenship. My mother found an article in the newspaper that explained that an old law had been revised which would allow me to become a dual citizen of Canada and the U.S. since my mother is an American citizen. In order to accomplish this, we have to prove that my mother had physical presence (lived) in the U.S. for 10 years around her 14th birthday.  I hired a lawyer to help with the issues and was advised as to what the necessary proof would be. Luckily for me, my mother had kept a couple report cards, her drivers license from when she was 16, a few pay stubs and she wrote to Social Security and received a paper showing her contributions. So with all this in hand and a letter from the lawyer, I was ready and excited that I would return to Utah as a dual citizen.

When Mark,  mom and I reached the window and I handed over the package and the letter from the lawyer my hopes were dashed when she said “I don”t look at anything from lawyers, it was not necessary for you to get one as you could have done all of this on you own.” She looked threw all the papers and explained that the drivers license did not prove that she lived in Michigan as anyone can get a license. The high school diploma only counted for one year instead of four as she could have moved there the last year. The social security papers showed only a small amount she had contributed 60 years ago, which she said could have been made in less than a year. … So instead of having 10 years of proof, she counted 2 years. We were told to collect more information and return within 6 months. The one good thing they did was allow  was for my mother to give her sworn testimony that she is my mother, and sign the affidavit so she does not have to return with me.

For the last couple months my mother has been trying to collect more information from the schools she attended over 70 years ago. It is proving to be VERY difficult since the elementary school she attended was a one room school house that contained grades one thru eight. The school has been gone for many years along with the records. She did find  an award that she received in a spelling bee, and a certificate of achievement  from the “Boys and Girls Club” stashed in a box in her basement. She has contacted many old school friends in the hopes someone might be able to find something  from the school but everyone is at a loss. We are just going to collect everything she has found and take it all with the hopes that it will be enough. I really don’t want to think of the alternative.

I should say that my lawyer was surprised with my news, as in the past the papers she told me to collect were sufficient for the citizenship. She did not have any more ideas than what Mark and I found on the internet, so we are doing the work on our own. So if everyone can be thinking very positive thoughts for me on the morning of Monday March 14th, it just might help.

On a happy note, my whole family is excited to see me again so soon, and Matt is looking forward to getting some good home cooking from my mom.

School update:

Yesterday I had to give all the directions to the taxi driver, and we made it there on time. The big test is tomorrow on the 7 chapters we have learned so Grace is coming up to my apartment this afternoon to help me prepare.

Little packages of food

I would venture to say that most Chinese like fresh food, so a daily trip to the grocery store is a necessity. The closest Chinese grocery store is a 15 minute walk from my apartment, and luckily on my way home from school so I often stop in to pick up a few items. I have learned that when you need an item weighed that there is one line for veggies and one line for fruit.  I find it quite fascinating to see all the small prepacked fruit and vegetables.

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The produce is very reasonably priced compared to the western grocery stores.

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This brand of milk is found in many stores with just this one size of container. Some just have whole or skim, so nice to find the low fat. The expiry date is always on the day you buy it or a day or two old. I have yet to find one before the expiry date. It all tastes good to me and we haven’t had any adverse reactions so I guess we are okay.

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I think I am building some muscles carrying all my groceries!

My old Chinese barber stools

Last week while shopping with Simon and Tom, I made another purchase. I could not figure out what they were and then Tom explained that they are old barber stools (mine are reproductions).

The barber would carry them around, hanging from a pole that he balanced on his shoulders, and when needed he would sit on one and the customer on the other. There are 3 small drawers to  hold scissors and other necessities.

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Right now I have them sitting by the front door until I find the perfect place for them. Mark suggested getting a piece of glass put on top so it could be used for an end-table. I am thinking about it.

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I think the slots in the top were made so a device could be put in to carry them.

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The salesperson in the store was happy to hear the explanation as she did not know what they were.

Baby slippers for sale

The last couple days on my walk home from school I noticed this sweet little lady sitting outside the local grocery store selling her handmade goods. Today I stopped and couldn’t resist buying a few of her baby slippers at just 20 RMB ($3.00) a pair. She was really pushing her chair cushions so I also bought a couple of those for 30 RMB a piece. It will be a fun remembrance of the year of the rabbit with the small rabbit prints on some of the material.

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Can you tell that I think they are cute!

School update:

Today was a great review of our daily routine. The taxi driver even got to hear about my whole day, so I gave a nice tip for his help with listening, and corrections.  He smiled and gave a little chuckle as I got out of the cab. In the elevator in my apartment a women asked if I was a German citizen, my reply in Chinese, I live in the US but am a Canadian citizen.  It is usually one of the first questions that is asked when you meet someone. I did hear that the biggest group of foreigners here in Beijing are from Germany. I am also of German descent on my mother’s side.

Wo zuo an mo!

I bet you are all wondering what I have done. I went for a massage. It turns out there is a spa on a lower level right here in my apartment. When Simon was here we went down so he could translate for me, and I was impressed with what I saw. They are running a special for new customers so I figured I would give it a try.

First they have you smell the lids of 10 different scents to which you pick 3 that you like, so they can see what your body needs. I was told that from the three I picked, that I need a remedy for cold hands and feet, a sore dry throat, and recently not sleeping well. (all true)

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While they are preparing the hot bath a chance to sip on some hot rose tea.

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One on the oils is added to the water for you to soak in for 20 minutes.

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The other oil is used for the massage. It felt wonderful and I guess my body really did need it, as when I left I was not feeling all oily. Not quite sure why they have you pick three when they only use two.

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I left feeling great, so I purchased a card for future visits. It is very popular in China to put money on a card and then receive a discount on visits. So, now each time I will go for a service I will receive a 40% discount.

All the services were written in Chinese, so the one gal that speaks English is going to translate it for me.

Update on school:

Yesterday was jam-packed with new words about daily schedules. I had to say  in Chinese my daily routine, including times and how long each one takes. Learned the words for getting up, showering, brushing teeth, eating, resting, going to bed. Grace came and tutored me for an hour also, so my brain was tired. Today for homework, I have to write down what I do and tell the class tomorrow.

Furniture purchase!

Now that I have my own credit card I purchased this cabinet. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it.

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I don’t think I will want to put anything on top to cover the beautiful artwork.

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I have it sitting right outside the office so I can look at it while I work on the computer :)

Pictures of Susan’s baby

Since I returned to Beijing in January I have not done any traveling with Mark to our old apartment in Changzhi. So I have missed seeing old friends, but it has been good for me to concentrate on my Chinese classes.

I have not been able to visit my dear friend Susan and her new baby daughter. Susan just sent me pictures which I would like to share.

Susan, Joan and Mary (mother of Gua Gua) from 5 years ago

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Susan and hubby 6 weeks before the baby was born

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Here is Chen Mei Han which means beautiful and well bred.

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Her nickname is KeKe which means cute!

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Isn’t she a bundle of joy.

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Susan, she is beautiful, just like her name. I can hardly wait to meet her in April.

Update: Yesterday I had a private lesson for the first 30 minutes before another student arrived. We talked about places I have visited in China, and if I liked them.

Simon came to town so we spent the afternoon shopping for more furniture. It was so much fun to see him again, and just laugh and laugh about old times. My heart got a good work out with all the laughing. Mark and I wanted a chair/bench to put by the front door and found one that we liked, but the owner would not dicker at all on the price. We went back to the same place and I stayed out of sight while Simon worked his magic and he saved Mark a bundle. Thanks Simon! What a dear friend you are. Today he is going with me to sign up for a Chinese credit/bank card. Before I would always have to be with Mark so he could use his, now I will actually be able to charge things on my own!!!

My orhcids after 6 weeks

I thought I would show how my orchid plants are surviving after 6 weeks.

The plant from Korea

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After 6 weeks has lost of all of its flowers.

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The orchid from Japan that was three times more expensive than the other two, and was suppose to last for 3 months.

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It has one stem with 5 flowers.

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The orchid from China

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This one has lasted the longest. They were all watered the same, but this one was in our bedroom, where we have had a humidifier going at night.  A fun and beautiful experiment.

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Now we know which ones to purchase next year.

Chinese Lantern Festival

Last year I took many photos of lanterns of all colors  hanging around Changzhi. Here in my area of  Beijing I have not noticed as many, but have learned of a new tradition of solving riddles. The act of solving lantern riddles dates back more than 2,000 years, chiefly as pleasure for the educated classes. Riddles written on paper are attached to the base of the hanging lanterns, which marks the last day of the Chinese new year period. People pick a riddle are try to answer it.

When President Richard Nixon made his well known visit to China in 1972, he presented a riddle: “What are 12 items you can give 1.2 billion Chinese with everyone getting one?” Guo Moruo, a Chinese poet immediately answered they were the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.

A couple riddles that were popular this year: “What is full of holes but can still hold water?

What is clean when you don’t wash it, but dirty when you do?

The riddles were hung on these lanterns in the lobby. I did not attend since all the riddles were written in Chinese characters which would have been a huge riddle in itself. When I took the photo all the riddles were taken.

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Riddle answers: Sponge and water (Did anyone guess the answer.)

A morning with the pool to myself

This morning I went for a swim at 8:30 and loved being the only one in the pool for a whole hour. One of the workers told me that the water was a little cold (in Chinese) and I understood her. Not cold at all compared to some of the pools I have been in. Here is a small tour of the facility.

The locker room

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Kind of cool how half the locker is taller to hang your coat.

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The showers with curtains

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The lap pool

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The other side of the pool facing the mall.

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The children’ s pool.

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Maybe a nice place to hang out on a sunny day!!

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