Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Day at Home


This morning at 8:30 I was expecting to go bicycling with Jesse’s wife and lady friends, but her mother was ill so she needed to stay home with her. I was looking forward to going until I went out on the balcony to check if Don's jeans were dry on the line/ pole and realized it was raining and cold. When Cherry called to say her sister-in-law would have to cancel I said, “Ok. Because it is raining and cold.” Cherry said, “Oh, no. It’s because of Mother.” And then she explained. I guess we would have gone biking in the rain otherwise. I definitely need to get a rain poncho.

Note: I had a cute conversation with Cherry when she called to make the bicycling “date” with me for her sister-in-law. Cherry said, “She speaks no English. Her friends don’t speak English either.” I said, “It’s ok. I’ll just ride my bicycle.” Cherry giggled and replied, “Yes. Just don’t say anything and follow them.” I thought, I can do that.

Being that I ended up having time at home today that I had not expected, I decided to try to acclimate my ear to Mandarin by watching local TV. I watched…and listened…to what must be a 24-hour news channel because every 30 minutes or so the same stories would cycle through. I let several cycles go by trying to catch familiar phrases. Hopefully I was learning subliminally because not much was happening consciously.

While I had my ear on the news, I studied the calendar thinking I might be able to figure something out by recognizing repeated symbols. This was a very fun exercise. I can’t say that it made a lot of sense, but I did find a pattern. I started with the easiest symbols (+, =, “a teepee” and what I thought looked like a window with curtains) and advanced up to a few more complex ones. All the numbers on the calendar were made up of about 8 different symbols combined together differently. It made sense to me that it was like combining our 10 number symbols into ones, teens and twenties for dates, but I’m not so sure that’s what I could deduce.

Combined English/ Chinese solar calendar.

What I did find for a pattern, though, is that the order of symbols didn’t start over every month, they ran continuously for the 29 symbols they had and just kept repeating, unless there was a red-letter day and then the symbols were completely different…probably naming the holiday.

On reverse side, Chinese layout of lunar calendar (2011, Year of the Rabbit).

After I wrote all the symbols, I liked how they looked on my paper…like I knew what I was doing. Of course I didn’t. It looked like Native American symbol writing or a code of some kind. Anyway, that was my self-directed culture lesson for the day.

Oh, dear. I forgot I had clothes in the washing machine. This is a dilemma that one faces when there is no dryer. It is too late in the day for the underwear to dry outside. I guess the walk-in closet is going to have to look like a white jungle tonight. I’m going to have to get used to actually thinking about household chores instead of just doing them. (Not keeping my mind on them has consequences.)

Speaking of appliances, aside from having no clothes dryer, there also is no oven or microwave. We have a tiny toaster oven that fits 2 pieces of bread smack dab next to each other. There, also, is an appliance that we have not really figured out what it is. It’s above the sink below the cabinet and it looks like a microwave, but it isn’t. It has dishes in it. They are standing up on a rack that looks like a wire drying rack. It has a power switch, so it actually does something…not just store dishes. We haven’t turned it on because we are doing fine without it, whatever it does. Don thinks maybe some kind of drying or sanitizing appliance. We’ll get around to asking someone one of these days. For now, I just use the dishes, wash them, dry them and put them back.

Ok, now I’ve really got to get up to the balcony and get those clothes out of the washer. The longer I procrastinate, the less time they have to dry.

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