Saturday, March 31, 2012

To market

I pass this little dried fish stand a few times a week when I take the bus into the Macau peninsula. Grocery shopping takes forever here, going from shop to shop (or stand to stand) to get all the items needed for a meal. Life is certainly slower paced. But there are more opportunities for interaction, which is a good thing in my opinion. At least on the days that I'm not rushed and frustrated and just want to get home. Which tends to be often. But I'm working on it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Six Years Later

While trying to get my photos in order for future posts, I came across this photo I took in October of 2011 at Disney's Hollywood Hotel in Hong Kong:
Nathan is just shy of 11 here, Ben is 8.

It was taken after a very long day of traveling to Hong Kong from Macau and then spending all day with friends at Hong Kong Disneyland. I took it so that I could re-create (from memory, not perfect) a photo I'd taken in September of 2005, six years earlier at the very same hotel:

Nathan is just shy of 5 here, Ben is 2.
Times flies, doesn't it? The days are so long, but the years are so incredibly short.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Blue Sky

There is a weather pattern in our beachside community in Los Angeles called June Gloom. It's the inversion layer coming off the Pacific Ocean where high level fog covers the sky for about six weeks, right around June. It's generally quite cool, as the Sun never really breaks through. A bunch of my friends love this time of year where it's summer yet still chilly. Personally, I hate it. I crave sunshine on my skin despite the fact that I only burn and freckle.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

March 17th

Though most people in America (and generally Americans abroad) call March 17th St. Patrick's Day, we call it my cousin Josh's birthday. So while the rest of you get to enjoy this ridiculously awesome photo of the Chase family in our finest green, it's mainly for him.

Happy Birthday Josh!

Special thanks to my friend Cassi, who asked what I missed about America and when I replied, "My green wig, I left it in storage," went out and bought me a new one. Along with the mustaches. She's a girl who appreciates a good costume change!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Just Ducky

When we lived in Japan we were frequent visitors to the Tokyo Sea Life Aquarium. There you could visit sea creatures native to that region of the world. And then after seeing all the cute little sea urchins, you could go into the Aquarium's restaurant where you could then order them for lunch. It was very disturbing.

Throughout Macau you'll find shops and restaurants with full cooked chicken, pigeon, ducks, and geese hanging in the window ready to be cut up into your meal. Feet, beaks, bills and all. As Americans, unless you grow up in the country, you tend to be pretty far removed from your meat in its more natural state. If you buy a whole chicken in the States, you get a neatly trimmed bird without a head or feet. It's much more difficult (for me) to buy poultry here where the whole chickens have eyes. I'm getting used to it, but it never ceases to make my old vegetarian lifestyle start to look more and more appealing.

Today at Disneyland I felt a flashback of our time in Tokyo. We visited our pal Donald Duck, and then went to lunch where right at the counter we were confronted with duck as a meal option, hanging right in front of us.

Guess what? I had the char siu BBQ pork and the boys had shrimp fried rice. Just couldn't eat Donald. Not today anyway.

Small World After All

We're in Hong Kong all this week (so grateful for old friends who lend us a place to crash!). Today I am at Hong Kong Disneyland with the boys while Michael is in meetings all day. We arrived prior to park opening and got to experience the famous rope drop countdown at the end of Main Street USA. In a lifetime of Disney visits, I'm pretty sure it was my first. At any rate, while standing with my impatient-to-be-on-Space Mountain boys, a gentleman approached me and asked if this was my first visit to HKDL. Uh, no. We got to talking and I found out he is from our hometown in the States. Awesome to be on another continent and run into someone who is literally from the same neighborhood! He told me that as soon as he entered the gate, he had officially visited every Disney theme park throughout the world. Wow. We can almost claim the same, the only missing park is Disneyland Paris. It's only a 14 hour flight...

The rope dropped and we went straight to Space Mountain where we were the first ones on the coaster. Because the boys sat together and I was alone, they stuck a single rider next to me. She was a tourist from Mainland, and she held on tightly to my arm the entire time, screaming and moaning her head off. I just laughed and laughed. And then snapped a photo of us at the exit. She looks like she's having fun, right?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Taxi!

Last night we made a special trip to a grocery store on the far side of town that always stocks popcorn kernels. Though microwave popcorn is available all over the place here in Macau, Michael prefers to make his on the stove top. We'd planned a movie night to take advantage of watching some of the non-pirated DVD movies I purchased back in the States, and the three guys in the family can't watch a film without popcorn!

Popcorn in hand, we made our way back to the bus stop to catch a ride home. We'd also picked up ice cream, so when an empty taxi pulled up along side us, we hailed it for a quicker ride home. The driver took us two blocks, pulled over, shouted something at us in Chinese, exited his car while it was still running, and then high-tailed it into a 7-11 on the corner.

We sat there perplexed for a moment, and then came down with a ridiculous case of the giggles. Michael plucked the CB radio off the dash, and made like he was going to talk into it, which made my laughter so much louder. We couldn't see him inside the 7-11, and normally they are not known for having public restrooms, but we can only assume that is what he was in need of. Because when he finally returned, his hands were empty. Let's just hope they were clean!


We were thisclose to having a taxi of our own, people. Except we would have had to figure out how to drive on the opposite side of the road. And how to steal a new license plate. And cover up the taxi number. Okay so maybe a life of a crime isn't for us. But a life of laughter sure is, and this guy abandoning us in the road with his motor running was quite the comic relief. I'm just glad it wasn't a bomb or something!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Priceless

On six hours notice, I did something totally crazy...







I used 65,000 of our 400,000 frequent flier miles and booked a flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco to Los Angeles so I could walk in the door of the mortuary and give these people the surprise of their lives.



My cousin Kelly, through sobs: What are you doing here?
Me, choking back tears of my own: This is the family viewing, right? I'm family. I'm here.

I spent four days soaking up the love of my family, grieving, laughing through tears, buying American candy, eating In-N-Out Burger (twice) and Mexican food (every day), and then jumped back on a plane to return to my husband and children. It went by way too fast. I didn't see anywhere near all the people I would have liked to see, and since I didn't mention the fact that I was in town to anyone, friends who found out after the fact are a little bewildered. But I accomplished what I set out to do, which was to hug my cousins, hold my Aunt's hand, put my arm around my little brother, tell everyone how much I love them, and share the burden of grief over my Uncle's passing. The daily dose of guacamole was just an added bonus.


I flew home to Macau on Leap Day (my cousin Leah's birthday!) and since the International Date Line is crossed while travelling this direction, I completely missed out on doing anything spectacular to mark the occasion. Though I'm pretty sure showing up out of the blue from China to surprise my loved ones has to be one of the most spectacular things I've ever done.