Keep on Learning.

Write on the Sound

Monday morning, and Jane, one of my favorite clerks at QFC, was scanning my baby spinach and ground beef and avocado.

“How was your weekend,” she asked.

“Good. I went to Write on the Sound.”

“Oh!” It was an upbeat “oh.” Most people in Edmonds have heard of the local writers’ conference. “What did you learn?”

Whoa! Such a difficult question so early in the morning? “Odds and ends,” I said, inserting my credit card. “The keynote speaker was Kristen Hannah,” I added. “Have you read The Nightingale?”

“Yes.”

I wasn’t surprised. In earlier conversations, Jane had mentioned a family military connection, and she was the right age to be interested in World War Two.

While she scanned my broccoli and cold cuts and canned black beans, I told her about all the research Hannah did before starting the book. “She read everything she could about the war and the French resistance. Then she flew to France where she interviewed people and explored all the locations she would use in her book.”

We were still talking out Kristen Hannah and also about what I was writing when she finished scanning my groceries. “Okay,” she said, about to hand me the receipt. For a moment, neither of us noticed that I hadn’t paid and she hadn’t given me my “cash back.”

I started to stuff my wallet into my handbag and stopped. “Wait. Don’t I have to sign?”

She laughed and jabbed a button to bring up the screen. I signed and took my cash. Then I gave a quick goodbye wave and pushed my cart out to the parking lot.

The question, however, still remained: What did I learn?

Write on the Sound is a popular writers’ conference. With a capacity of about 275, registration fills up within a week or less. Dawdlers lose out. I figure all those 275 participants must think they’re going to learn something. But it’s hard to put your finger on what exactly that thing is.

I’ve been writing for a long time, so a lot of what I hear at a writers’ conference is in the category of tips and reminders.

For example: One of the presenters, Ray Rhamey, talked about “Crafting a Compelling First Page.” Obviously, I’ve written first pages before and I’ve read advice about how to do it well. Nevertheless, it’s really hard to write a good first page. And it’s really important—the most important page in the book. If a reader doesn’t like your first page, she may simply close your book and look for another one.

After talking about compelling first pages and looking at examples, both good and bad, Mr. Rhamey provided us with a ten-point checklist. Here are some of the points:

* The character desires something.

* The character takes action.

* (I like this one near the end.) Backstory? What backstory? We’re in the NOW of the story.

* (And this one.) Set-up? What set-up? We’re in the NOW of the story.

For the whole checklist, visit his website, Flogging the Quill.

Another presenter, Eric Witchey, held a session on The Irreconcilable Self. His theory is that the best stories are about a character that possesses two extreme and contrary characteristics. Clashing extremes within a single person create turmoil and conflict. Unless the story turns out to be a tragedy, the character will need to experience some sort of transformation in order to reconcile the two parts of his Irreconcilable Self.

Other presentations I attended discussed crafting a great novel synopsis, historical research, finding your writer’s voice, writing and selling personal essays, moment by moment character development, and story structure.

I skipped the last one, which probably was worth attending, but I was full of enough ideas by then. It was time to go home and veg out for a while.

What new things have you been learning?

Do you have (or have you had) a job that requires continuing education?

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books, Edmonds, writing , , , , , ,

The Lady Washington’s Short but Eventful Life

the Lady Washington

 In August, a few days before the eclipse, two tall ships sailed into town: the Lady Washington and its companion vessel, the Hawaiian Chieftain.

the Hawaiian Chieftain

They tied up at a couple of docks along the Edmonds waterfront where I often take walks, so I stopped by to take a look. A crew member had conveniently placed a step beside the Hawaiian Chieftain, and since he was offering his hand, I took it and climbed aboard.

a little visitor at the wheel

below deck

sturdy ropes and casual knots

Of the two ships, the Lady Washington is the larger one and the one with a more interesting story. She is the official tall ship of Washington State. But it wasn’t our state that gave her her name. She’s a full-scale replica of the original Lady Washington which was named after Martha Washington.

The original Lady Washington left Boston Harbor in 1787 and for the next ten years sailed the world. Here’s some of what she accomplished:

* She was the first American-flagged ship to sail around Cape Horn.

* She traded furs with Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest

and took part in the tea and porcelain trade in China.

* She was the first American-flagged vessel to reach Japan. Commodore Mathew Perry didn’t sail into Tokyo Bay until 62 years later.

* Another couple of firsts: visiting Honolulu and Hong Kong.

Finally, in 1797, after her short but history-making life, the Lady Washington foundered in the Philippines.

Lady Washington masthead

masthead on Hawaiian Chieftain

Her namesake has also had some shining moments. She appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl; she was Captain Hook’s ship in Once Upon a Time; she played a prominent role in Blackbeard; and she was in the Macklemore video for Can’t Hold Us.

On more ordinary days, the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain and their crews visit ports up and down the West Coast where they educate students, welcome the curious, and offer cruises. When they were in Edmonds, they had a special eclipse cruise.

Nothing’s more graceful that a ship at full sail. But since the two ships didn’t hoist their sails while I was there, I missed out on that sight. I did, however, enjoy the patterns made by their ropes and riggings and the view of a daring man climbing the masts.

Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain

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Edmonds, Washington State , , , ,

Family Visits–Eat, Talk, and Walk

 

R and P at Hurricane Ridge

My three daughters live in places with nice weather in the spring and fall (Indiana, Maryland, and Eastern Washington). So that’s when I visit them. But nothing beats our summers here in the Pacific Northwest.

This year all three of them plus one son-in-law, and one grandchild showed up in August.

So what do we do when we all get together?

On this trip, we visited a spray park, a street market, and a rock-climbing place. And we took in the Terracotta Warriors Exhibit at the Pacific Science Center. But most of the time we stuck to our old favorites: eating, talking, and walking.

Eat

I have a picture in my head of family gatherings centered around the kitchen, mom up to her elbows in pie dough and pot roast, sweating, her hair falling in her eyes. Well, that’s not me. I did make a couple of good dinners, and my daughters and I put together some tasty lunches. But we also ate out at some favorite spots, and when my nephew and his family visited, we had Thai takeout.

Breakfasts were mostly self-serve. Even my nine-year-old grandson made his own, which was good because, still being on East Coast time, he wanted to eat before I wanted to get up.

Talk

I talk to my daughters on the phone at least once a week. But talking on the phone is not the same as talking face-to-face or talking while we eat or walk. It’s not the same as conversing as a group.

Walk

Walking is our old stand-by, one of our favorite things to do. We walk for exercise and pleasure, and we walk to experience beautiful or interesting spots.

Here are a few photos from our walks.

Hurricane Ridge is a beautiful place for hiking.

It was a hot day with lots of hills to climb. My grandson took a moment to rest and hydrate.

The next day we hiked on a shaded trail on the shore of Lake Crescent.

sitting on a mossy rock with Lake Crescent behind

When daughter #1 arrived, we took the ferry across to Kingston.

a break to pick blackberries

The next day, we walked through Washington Park Arboretum.

Finishing off with xiao long bao at Din Tai Fung in University Village.

What do you do when your family gets together?

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Chinese food, photography, summer, walking, Washington , , , , , , , , ,

My Mysterious, Miraculous Cure.

 For the past eight years I’ve had asthma, the main symptom of which was frequent coughing. Several times a day the coughing would progress to a full-blown asthma attack with thick mucus building up in my throat and lungs.

My doctor sent me to a pulmonologist who measured my lung capacity and poked me with needles. He prescribed two kinds of inhalers, a steroidal nose spray, and an antihistamine.  At his suggestion, I bought special covers for my mattress and pillow; I washed my sheets every week in hot water; I even replaced my wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood floors.

I was a good, obedient patient, doing everything he told me to do even though it didn’t seem to be helping. But hey! Maybe I would have been worse without it, and he didn’t seem to have any other workable ideas. (He’d already tried a scan of my sinuses and sent me to a gastroenterologist to see about GERD.)

On my own, I bought doctor-written books on asthma, changed my diet, did time-consuming breathing exercises.  (Are you getting tired of all this? In case you’re already bored, I’ll jump now to the cure.)

The Cure.

One of the side effects of my asthma was dental problems. I spent a good portion of most days sucking on cough drops. I think you can imagine the effect all that sugar had on my teeth.

One day last month (only weeks after a previous dental appointment) I noticed a bad taste in my mouth. I traced it to an upper molar and quickly called for a new appointment.

The tooth already had a crown, but I thought the dentist might be able to put a little filling down at the edge of the crown. But no. The crown had to be cracked in two and taken out. Well then, I thought, maybe she could give me a new filling and a new crown. Sorry. No can do. Oh, dear! I thought in my usual understated way. Not a root canal!

Nope. Not even a root canal. The tooth had to go.

I’d never had a tooth pulled before. Well, as it turns out, you don’t really get a tooth pulled. They extract it. A specialist cuts into your gums and digs the tooth out. In my case, the tooth had three roots, each heading in a different direction.

It was a long procedure, done with an adequate amount of pain killer. Not long afterwards, though, the meds started wearing off and my mouth hurt. That afternoon, I was focused on the pain and the bleeding. I barely noticed that I wasn’t coughing. Strange! By the next day, I still wasn’t coughing. Stranger still.

That was August 17, and I haven’t had an asthma attack since.  I guess I’m cured. Hurray!!!

So … how did that happen? Like I said, it was a mysterious cure. Although I do remember reading in one of my asthma books that a low-grade, chronic infection could trigger the immune system to overreact and result in asthma. That must be what happened. I told the dentist who did the extraction, and he said, “Hmm. Might have been a necrotic nerve.” The thing is, whatever it was, it didn’t show up on an x-ray.

Since my “miraculous cure”, many things have changed for me. When I had asthma, laughing made me cough; singing or talking for more than a few minutes made me cough. Lying on my back, eating spicy foods or drinking a cold drink, sitting still too long and exercising made me cough.

As you might imagine, it was hard to be sociable when I couldn’t laugh or engages in a conversation without interrupting it with my coughing. Now I’m feeling more friendly.

Last night my daughter and I watched Spy with Melissa McCarthy and Jude Law. It was hilarious. I laughed until I cried.

I hadn’t done that in a very long time.

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Health , , , , ,

Notes on a Typhoon

photo courtesy AusAID

Looking through some old journals, I found some jottings on a typhoon.

It was October 11, 1989. Our three daughters were in college or grad school in the United States. Eugene and I were living in Manila in an apartment on Roxas Boulevard, walking distance from Asian Development Bank where he worked.

I must have been standing on our balcony, looking out at the storm and its effects and writing my impressions in a journal.

Roxas Blvd. from our apartment

Here’s my journal entry:

High winds, not too much rain so far. Electricity out. The roar of the building’s generator. The insistent swish of wind in the trees, gusting to a low, rolling bellow. Leaves lifting from the ground, rushing past our sixteenth floor window.

A metal reflecting surface taped to a clothes rack on a balcony across from us comes loose and twangs and rustles in the wind. Shook foil. Palm trees bending, off-balance, their leaves pushed to one side, showing their coconuts.

Leaning antennas, long, draping TV cables, clay pots broken and scattered. Corrugated metal roofs ripped off in jagged, irregular pieces.

Broken tree branches, their white, virginal wood open to the elements. Branches, coconuts, leaves strewn around the old lady’s garden. Lots of work for her gardener tomorrow.

old lady’s garden before typhoon

Sign boards and canopies blown down. A man leaving a jeep covers his head with his jacket. Four men walk the service road looking for things to salvage. They find an antenna and cart it off.

Our curtains alternately billow in and get sucked out.

Later: The typhoon has passed. Out to the South China Sea, I suppose.

I didn’t write anything about the aftermath. This one must not have hit Manila, or at least our part of town, hard.

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expatriate life, Philippines, storms , , ,

Remembering Typhoons in Manila and Port Vila

 

photo courtesy of Graham Crumb, Imagicity

Watching the coverage of the two devastating hurricanes in the US southeast the past couple of weeks made me think of some of the tropical cyclones I’ve experienced.

We don’t have hurricanes in Washington State where I’d lived all my life before we moved to the Philippines. So I had no idea what to expect when my first typhoon approached Manila.

Fortunately, my husband grew up on an island on the southeastern coast of China. China has more tropical cyclones than any other country on earth, most of them on the southeastern coast, so he’d been through quite a few. When the storm warnings came into the residents of Manila, Eugene knew exactly what to do.

I must have been too young and foolish to feel frightened. But I do remember being surprised at how much work it was to prepare for a typhoon. Here are some of the pre-typhoon tasks we did:

* We stocked up on food, candles, matches, and batteries for the radio;

* we removed pictures and scrolls from the walls and tucked them away, rolled up the carpets and pushed all the furniture as far from the windows as possible;

* and we filled pots, tubs, basins, and buckets with water. (We always kept water containers taller than our children in our bathrooms. Our water depended on our own electric pump.)

little helpers

No one mentioned evacuation. With around six million people living in Manila at the time, few of them car owners, that could have been a big mess. Besides, when you live on an island, where can you go?

Over the years, we got used to preparing for typhoons and then putting things back again when the storm was past. The Philippines gets hit by more tropical cyclones each year than any country on earth besides China. We must have gone through dozens of them.

We were lucky though. We missed two of the most damaging typhoons. Typhoon Yoling hit Manila in 1970, less than a year before we arrived. We heard many stories of what people went through. Yoling left 611 people dead on land and 135 at sea. Metal roofs flew off houses, glass was shattered, acacias and palm trees were uprooted, and the electricity was off for weeks. The other big typhoon we missed was Ondoy which swept through Manila in 2009.

Port Vila, Vanuatu

In Vanuatu, they don’t call a tropical cyclone a hurricane or a typhoon. They just call it a cyclone.

Our life in Port Vila was usually peaceful, but Old Man Weather did shake, blow, and drench the country on a regular basis. During a three-year stay, we experienced a fair number of earthquakes and cyclones, and we visited one of its many volcanoes. Again, we were lucky–no tsunamis.

There’s something about living on a small island in the middle of a huge ocean that can make you feel small and helpless. If you think about it too much, you can imagine the wind and water blowing in and sweeping you off the other side of the island.

It didn’t happen, of course. Instead, when a cyclone hit Port Vila, we sat inside, listening to Australian weather news on the short-wave radio, and waited for it to pass.

I mentioned luck a couple of times. Obviously, good preparations and good choices by both individuals and governments are crucial. But you can’t rule out luck and the grace of God when it comes to surviving a typhoon or a hurricane.

Have you experienced hurricanes and/or typhoons? If so, I hope you were one of the lucky ones who made it through relatively unscathed.

I wish all the best to those touched by recent storms and wild fires.

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Philippines, storms, Vanuatu , , , , ,

A Sunday Walk along the Edmonds Waterfront

The Edmonds waterfront is a five-minute drive from my house, so I walk here often. Last Sunday I parked a little north of Anthony’s Beachfront Cafe, somewhere in the middle of the waterfront walk.

Anthony’s serves seafood and surrounds itself with flowers.

It also provide a sand pit for restless children.

That morning a bit of marine air sifted in, so even at high noon the temperature (69 degrees) was still cool enough for a very pleasant walk. My one complaint: Canadian wildfires. They’ve stolen our blue skies. Who knows when they’ll be brought under control. Rain would help, but here in Washington State, we haven’t had any rain for more than fifty days. I suppose it’s the same in British Columbia.

The kayakers above don’t seem to mind. As long as they have a few crabs in their traps, they’re happy.

A beach design

Low tide expands the dog park far beyond its boring fenced-in area.

Summer “Sea Jazz”. I sat down for a few minutes to listen to these excellent young musicians. What a delight to hear old jazz favorites brought back to life! (Edmonds Woodway High School has an award-winning jazz program.)

Heading back north, I started paying attention to the names on boats. The owners of this sailboat must be looking forward to some good cheer on the water. Clink.

Pity! The swordsman and poet has such a big nose. Is this boat owner a poet? Does he have a big nose? Does he pine for Roxane?

A small boat with big ideas of escape.

There’s something about sailing away that evokes feelings of freedom and rule breaking.

Moonbeams and a constellation.

Sanitarium: “an establishment for the medical treatment of people who are convalescing or have a chronic illness.”

What better way to recover one’s health than to sail away on your own sailboat.

What would you name a boat if you had one? Or maybe you do have a boat.

The Port of Edmonds provides planters all along the waterfront walk. These yellow flowers are quite big, but they remind me of the little buttercups that grow in the grass.

A crab trap on the fishing dock. All except one of these crabs were keepers.

Washington State ferry seen from the fishing dock.

That concludes my walk for today.

 

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summer, walking , , , , , , ,

Identity: Digging Deep & Expanding Horizons.

 

photo courtesy D. Guillaime & wikimedia

Deep diving into the identity I inherited.

It was a sunny afternoon. I was sitting on the grass at the University of Washington after a writing class and feeling insecure about my ability to write. What, I wondered, ever made me think I was cut out to be a writer?

I leaned on my elbow and ran my fingers through the grass. Then, out of the blue, my Grandma Nora’s name sprang from my subconscious. I say “out of the blue” because I’ve never met Grandma Nora. To this day, I’ve never even seen a picture of her. But I knew she was Irish, which meant I was one-quarter Irish. And aren’t the Irish known for their literary skills?

The next morning, with a spring in my step, I went shopping for a green dress. It was a plain green dress, and I wore it until it was out of style and looking shabby.

My sister and cousin are more diligent than I am about digging deep into the part of our identity that’s related to our shared ancestry. They’ve spent hours searching through ancestry.com and various dusty archives. My sister even traveled to Ireland and to the Orkneys in Scotland where our grandfather was born.

Expanding horizons.

There’s the identity we’re born with; and then there’s the part of our identity we pick up along the way.

When I married my Chinese husband, Eugene, that didn’t make me Chinese. But proximity to him and my own expanding interests did change me. I read books about Chinese history, I studied Chinese brush painting, I cooked Chinese dishes, and I learned to like kung fu movies and Bruce Lee.

Despite all my northern European ancestors, I haven’t spent any more than a few weeks in Europe. On the other hand, I lived in Asia for almost twenty years.

My blogroll and expanding horizons.

I’ve included in the “Asian Connections” section of my blogroll several bloggers whose connections to Asia have more to do with marriage and interest than with blood.

     West Dates East.

Autumn Ashbough from the blog, West Dates East, isn’t Asian, but she is married to a Chinese guy. Andy is second generation, so his main connection to China is food, cooking, and bargain hunting … and his parents. If you like humor, you’ll love reading Autumn’s blog. She writes about the escapades of her Chinese in-laws, her dogs, and her seven siblings, as well as the humorous aspects of daily life for her and Andy. Take a look at a recent post, The Boyfriend Thieves. I think you’ll like it.

     iLook China.

Lloyd Lofthouse is a white American author living in California. He’s married to a Chinese woman, also an author, who was born in China. Lloyd’s knowledge about China is wide and deep. On his blog, iLook China, he writes about everything from the Empress Dowager to bullet trains to romance Chinese style.

My blogroll and digging deep.

     Jennifer J. Chow.

Jennifer is a Chinese-American writer and blogger. She blogs a lot about writing, but she sets aside Fridays to dig deep into her heritage and write about food. She has introduced her readers to Matcha Crisps, Green Tea Oreos, and Eight Treasure Dessert. She says she’s “like a fortune cookie … twisted into dual selves,” Asian and American. Her blog serves up her words and culture in a written delicacy.

     Mabel Kwong.

Mabel is an Asian Australian who writes about what it means to be Asian in Australia. She was born in Australia to Chinese-Malaysian parents. She lives in Melbourne now, but much of her childhood was spent in Malaysia and Singapore. “Today in countless situations,” she says, “I always find myself transitioning between adopting a persona favouring the Chinese values that I’ve been brought up with and a persona that takes on the Australian / Western mindset.”

A sample post from Mabel: Why Are We Afraid Of Standing Up Against Racism?

     Traveler on Foot.

Through his photo essays and travel narratives, Glenn Martinez (the Traveler on Foot) digs deep into his own country and culture, the Philippines. His main interests: “Philippine history, Filipino art, architecture, food, culture, folk and tribal art, late 19th century and early 20th century furniture and objects.” His is not a travel blog for the casual traveler with a few days to see the country. It’s a gift of love to his country, its people, and its history.

Glenn usually takes his son on his travels. The boy shows up in many of Glenn’s excellent photos. So, where to begin? How about a trip to Mount Samat to see monuments, a shrine, and a museum in remembrance of the Bataan Death March?  Or accompany Glenn and his son on a visit to Baliuag to see antique furniture, a church from the Spanish period, a museum and library housed in a robin-egg blue building from the nineteenth century, and an artisan who does carabao bone inlays.

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blogging, cultural identity. Asian Americans, identity, writing , , , , , , , , ,

Expatriates. Why Do They Do It?

at the airport–leaving home, heading for Manila

Expatriates. Why Do They Do It?

Why do they leave family and friends and a country they love to live in a place that’s foreign to them? A place where they in turn will be considered foreign?

The answer is seldom simple, even in a single person or family. It may be a job opportunity, a transfer, the search for adventure and challenge, curiosity about the world, or the desire to be on the outside looking in.

In our case, it all started when my husband’s company closed during the great economic downturn of 1971 for engineers in Seattle. Eugene went months without work. Even then, he probably wouldn’t have considered a job with the Asian Development Bank in Manila if he hadn’t been Asian and if I hadn’t had a sense of adventure and an interest in Asia. Besides, we thought we could always move back home in four or five years. We never dreamed we’d be expats for the next twenty-two years

In Hong Kong to meet my father-in-law on the way to Manila … Tired

Expatriate bloggers

In my blogroll (to your right), you will find quite a few expatriates in the “Asian Connection” section. You’d have to visit their blogs to get a true sense of their motivation. But I’d like to introduce you to a few of them.

     Jasmine Tea & Jiaotze

The author of Jasmine Tea & Jiaotze, is a “trailing spouse.” In other words, she’s someone who moved abroad for the the sake of her husband’s work. (In my day, we were just “expat wives.”) An ex-magistrate, Herschelian is from South Africa. She spent her 30s, 40s, and 50s in London, and now she and her husband live in Beijing. A smart observer with an obvious fondness for Chinese culture, her posts are always full of fascinating insights and details.

     Life, the Universe and Lani

Lani is an American from Hawaii. She moved to Thailand in 2009. Before  that, she lived in Ecuador. Now she and her boyfriend live in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Lani is one of the most thoughtful people I know. She obviously doesn’t believe in living the “unexamined life.”

Why is Lani an expatriate? According to her she’s “looking for adventure, answers and an alternative lifestyle.”

     My Hong Kong Husband

Lina is a lively Polish woman married to a Hongkonger. She and Sing live in Ireland now, but they’re preparing to move back to Hong Kong, a place she seems to love every bit as much as her husband does.

Lina, who is only 26 years old, is wise for her age. See her post on rules of arguing and also her post on when your uterus becomes family business. She always leavens her wisdom with some humor.

     Susan Blumberg-Kason

Susan isn’t actually an expatriate. She lives in Chicago with her second husband and children. But she has the mentality of an expatriate. She spent her childhood “dreaming of the neon street signs and double-decker buses of Hong Kong.” When she was old enough, she moved there to study. Her first husband was a good looking young Chinese from the mainland.

In her memoir, Good Chinese Wife, Susan describes the five years she spent trying to adjust to Chinese family life and to an emotionally abusive husband. You can read my review of the book here.

Despite a problematic marriage, Susan hasn’t lost her love for Hong Kong and China, and her blog reflects that love and interest.

     Other expatriates

In last week’s post, Are Online Friends Really Friends?, I wrote about some other expat bloggers:

Jocelyn Eikenburg of Speaking of China,

Marta of Marta lives in China, and

Constance of Foreign Sanctuary.

If you visit any of the blogs I’ve mentioned, let me know what you think.

 

 

 

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blogging, book reviews, China, expatriate life , , , ,

Are Online Friends Really Friends?

 

batik on silk by Nicki Chen

Most of the bloggers listed in the blogroll on your right are people I’ve never met in the flesh. We’ve never hugged or shared a cup of coffee. And yet, through our blogs, we know each other pretty well. And we care about each other, I think.

So yes, I’m going to say that my blogger friends are real friends.

That’s why I have to make a confession. Until a few weeks ago, I’ve neglected to put together a blogroll, one of the basic ways bloggers support each other. I should have done it a long time ago.

Today in an attempt to make up for past negligence, I’d like to tell you a little bit about some of my blogging friends, beginning with the “Asian Connections.”

In 2013 when I started my blog, I was looking forward to the publication of my novel Tiger Tail Soup the following year. And since the novel’s story takes place in China, I wanted to get acquainted with other bloggers with a China connection. By a stroke of luck, the first person I found was Jocelyn Eikenburg, who writes Speaking of China.

photo courtesy of Jocelyn Eikenburg and Jun

Jocelyn is at the center of a large group of Western women with Asian connections. Many of them live in China and are dating or married to Chinese men. She calls them AMWF (Asian men white female) couples.

Rose in Xiamen

Finding and following those AMWF bloggers was real eye opener for me. My Chinese husband and I did know other interracial couples during our thirty-year marriage. But in most case I can think of, the man had left his home country before he found his Western bride. The idea of single women moving to China and finding Chinese husbands there was inconceivable because for many years, China was locked away behind the Bamboo Curtain.

Times definitely have changed. One example of the change is Marta (Marta lives in China). Marta moved to China from Spain in 2006 thinking she wouldn’t stay very long. Eleven years later, she’s still there, working as a translator and tester for a mobile games publisher. She and her Chinese husband live in Suzhou with their “chubby” golden retriever. Marta and C got married this past May. In this post, she shares wedding pictures and tells all about their Chinese wedding.

Timo (Crazy Chinese Family) is one of only three men on my Asian Connections list. He and his beautiful Chinese wife live in Germany, but they met when they were living in Finland. One of Timo’s favorite subjects is the antics of his in-laws, especially his mother-in-law. (I assume she doesn’t read his blog. At least I hope she doesn’t.) Since the birth of his son and, more recently, his daughter, the in-law’s antics have to share space with news about the kids.

Constance, who writes Foreign Sanctuary, is from a small town in Canada. In 1999 she moved to Taiwan, where she now lives with her Chinese husband and their toddler. Constance is writing a memoir. And she’s a fantastic photographer. Here’s a small sample.

I’d like to tell you more about the blogs I follow, but that will have to wait for a future post. In the meantime, feel free to click on anything in my blogroll that strikes you as interesting and follow the link.

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blogging, China, expatriate life, interracial marriage, Tiger Tail Soup , , , , , , , , ,