My 2016 Christmas Open Houses

I’m still playing catch-up after such a long silence.

I wanted to share these pictures of my Christmas parties for students, faculty and friends.  Mostly, I am very proud of all those decorations!  Being in a new apartment, it was quite the task to unpack my Christmas hoard of celebratory items (all 5 boxes of them) and try to arrange them for the first time in my new home.

Usually, decorating takes about 3 days, from beginning to end, but this year it was 7.  I was fortunate to have Jackie, the Peace Corp volunteer, to consult with about where things should go and give advice (not to mention help) in lining the walls with lights, posters, sparkly roping and whatever else necessary to fill in vacant spaces. (Many thanks to you, Jackie!)

The end result was magnificent!  Everyone who entered received quite a taste of Connie’s Christmas bananza.  In Jackie’s words, “I love coming into your home.  It just makes me  so . . . . happy!!”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.  Hope you feel happy, too, after seeing all the below photos.  Enjoy!

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A Trip to the Windy City

The following photos are for a few of my Chinese followers who were asking about Chicago and what my mom and I did there.  Here are a few visuals from our trip which we took a week ago.

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Nearing the Year of the Rooster

The Chinese Spring Festival, the Year of the Rooster, is January 27  and is nearly upon us.  My college’s Fall semester ended January 9, and finally, I find a moment to breath.  All I can say is:  What a crazy, chaotic, topsy-turvy semester!

Let me start with  catch-up news, of which there is plenty. It started with doing without.

The New Campus:  Unprepared and Unfinished

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The 11-story faculty apartment building for single teachers looked great from a distance but inside, a lot needed to be taken care of during those first months of the Fall semester.

No consistently working elevators.  No Internet. No hot water. No washing machine.  No gas for cooking.  No remote for the air-conditioning units.  No nearby grocery stores for shopping.

There was an even further dilemma of trash control.  There were no bins or trashcans yet on campus so rubbish from the the student dorms, cafeteria, and offices  was piling high in the most unusual places.

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One of those huge heaps was near our building.

Eventually, a giant iron garbage bin was hauled in to be plopped in the middle of our campus roadway.  Some improvement not to have to step over and through all that had been discarded but  I can tell you, the smell (and the sight of this) was pretty disgusting.

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Yes, it was a challenging move to the new campus (at the outskirts of Luzhou), for Jackie Zubin (a Peace Corp volunteer)  and myself.

 

Moving Into a Building Not Yet Ready

Our new faculty apartment building for single teachers, with 66 units of apartments (6 on each floor), was fairly empty the month of September because no one wanted to move into a building that wasn’t yet truly ready for inhabiting. It was the last building to hastily go up before the school opened, thus the one that had the most problems.  Many of the teachers held off moving in until December, when things finally settled down.

Wise move.

We two foreign teachers, however, had no choice.

Our  lease was up at the posh apartments we were temporarily housed at and the landlords refused to allow us to stay longer.  Also, the school administrators wanted us on campus for safety reasons, with no commuting from far away distances to reach the school.

Thus off Jackie and I went, a full two days of the 3-man-company movers coming back and forth in their small truck, loading and unloading our furniture, boxes, heavy appliances and other items we had.

Luckily on that day, one elevator was working  to haul everything to the 9th floor where we  finally settled into.

However, as we soon found out, there were many things that were not yet taken care of.

We had no hot water or gas hook-up for cooking for 3 weeks.  We had no washing machine usage for 6 weeks (The workers were too busy to connect our machines for us).  We had no Internet for 6 1/2 weeks until the school finally  negotiated  Internet terms with China Telecom. The students all  had WiFi connection via the entire campus system, as did all the offices, but the wiring in our building was defective.   We later learned that finding where in the building the faulty line was located would be next to impossible without electricians tearing through the entire network, located in the walls.

The astronomical cost and timely feasibility of correcting the error was pretty much dismissed as not doable.  Thus it was decided that each apartment unit would have to be connected to the city’s communication’s system, China Telecom.  For the foreigners, the school took up the cost of monthly payments but for the other Chinese teachers living in our building, they would have to pay the $200 US a year on their own.

Many decided not to bother and just use the campus WiFi once they stepped within the campus WiFi network.

And while the air-conditioning wall units had been installed, the remote controls were nowhere to be found as they were tucked away in someone’s office drawer.  We sweltered away in Luzhou’s horrible September heat for a good week before they finally were thrust into our hot little hands.

God Bless Elevators!

 We struggled through all the above with great fortitude and understanding . . . .  until it came to the elevators.

After our first week, suddenly, the two elevators were turned off.

I admit, the turning off was partly my fault.

I was actually stuck in one of them on the 1st floor and had to call out for help.  A worker came and jumped up and down on the top of it  (the entire compartment shaking and rattling as he did so) until the doors slowly jiggled opened.

Needless to say, I didn’t step back into that elevator again.

Not a problem in doing so again because once the word got out that the foreign teacher had been stuck inside, both were immediately turned off until a proper inspection could take place.  This left  me and Jackie to hike up and down 9 flights of stairs  every day for 3 days.

It would have been longer except I decided enough was enough.

I sent out 5 text messages to 5 different leaders.  I profusely apologized for bothering them but I was an old lady (in my 50’s), very tired from teaching so many, and walking up and down 9 flights of stairs every day was very difficult for me.

Could someone please turn on at least one elevator for old foreign teacher, Connie?  It would be greatly appreciated.

Within 1 hour of those texts, in the drizzling rain, 3 administrators arrived to my building:  English Dean Horace He, Mr. Liu (foreign affairs director) and  housing affairs director Mr. Chen with  the elevator key.  All gathered around the right-hand elevator while Mr. Chen ceremoniously placed his key into the lock and turned it on.  After that,  we all took turns going up and down  3 times to make sure it was in proper working order.

Mr. Chen posted a Chinese sign on the outside of the elevator  that said if something went wrong, call him.  (Why on the outside, I’m not sure because if you’re stuck on the inside, how would you know his number?)  I was then cautioned to bring my cell phone with me at all times so I could call for help.

Didn’t exactly restore my faith in the elevator but as long as I didn’t have to hike up 9 flights of stairs several times a day, I wasn’t going to complain.  I learned my lesson the first time!

 Settling In

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November finally had  Jackie and me settling in nicely, although here it is in January  and I still have many boxes yet to dig through. There just was no time in between teaching, swimming, church choir ( a huge commitment), 4 animal rescues (too many to report quickly), decorating and baking for the holidays, Christmas open houses (12 in total) and end-of-term testing plus grading.

Visiting the States

                Unpacking those boxes, by the way, is certainly not on the agenda today.

I’m back in Illinois, visiting my mom for my Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) holidays.  We’ve just returned from a trip to the Windy City where we enjoyed the lyric opera (The Magic Flute), Broadway’s “Hamilton”, a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry, as well as a few shopping ventures plus lunch in the Walnut Room,  located in what is now Macy’s but before Marshall Field’s.

Now it’s back to smalltown living where I am getting my newsletter in order and repacking the suitcase for my return to China on Feb. 7.  It is a very short holiday this year, only 4 weeks, so not much recuperation time from last semester.

This next semester won’t be any easier than last, either.

Our school’s second Peace Corp volunteer, Garett the lawyer, didn’t return after the summer holiday last August.  His surprising exit meant that all of his courses had to be divided between Jackie and me.  It was a bit of a chore but we managed and will be doing the same this coming Spring.

It’s added a lot of extra hours that we haven’t had before, thus the very long silence on my website.  Most likely, after I return to China, the same will happen but for now, just thought I’d update a bit.

As always, wishing you Ping An (Peace) for your upcoming weekend and smooth sailing into the Year of the Rooster.

 

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Sharing My U.S. Election Ballot with My Chinese College Students

 

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The move to my new college campus, at the outskirts of Luzhou (loo-joe) city in Sichuan Province, China, brought with it a lot of changes.  New area of the city, new school  buildings, excellent classroom equipment and a  modern 11-story faculty housing  complex with 66 apartment units.

                The latter has me finally settling into my 9th floor apartment overlooking a river, terraced farmland and a distant railway line that carries cargo during the midnight hours.    It’s not the Yangtze River, which was my balcony view before, but it proves to be just as pleasant.

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My current view from my balcony, including the distant cargo train line, raised high above the land.

 

 

 

             The new apartment has a much bigger space than my previous tiny one, thus I’ve been having open house student  visits which have become quite the campus buzz.

Each class, anywhere from 40 to 50 students, has been divided into two groups to visit my home. My college freshmen, sophomores and seniors have been alighting  during the past few weeks to play  table-top games, take countless cell phone photo snapshots and write housewarming wishes to me which are then taped to my balcony’s sliding doors.

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Students write housewarming wishes while sitting in my outer living area.

               

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After finishing their wishes, these were posted on my balcony sliding doors (in the background)

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So many wishes warmed my heart, and my home.

It was right before one of these open houses that my absentee ballot arrived, sent straight from our Clark County Courthouse by our very own County Clerk and Recorder, Carrie Downey.  

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My voting envelope arrived with self-addressed envelope and ballot inside.

                I had tucked away the ballot envelope on a shelf, where I’d later open to vote, when one of my visiting open house students, Ajay (Mize Ke), announced, “Your election is coming very soon.”

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Ajay corners me with voting questions.

               

      “Yes,” I replied.  “On November 8.”

                “So will you go back to America to vote?” Ajay asked me in all seriousness.

                I had to laugh at that one.

How could any American overseas teacher even consider  buying a $2,000 airplane ticket to trek back to America, vote, and then return to teach  classes within a 24-hour period? 

That’s a mighty dedicated voter! 

                Such a ludicrous question is understandable, however.   My Chinese students are quite provincial.  They think all Americans are rich.  Many have never been on an airplane before, much less know that my traveling time from Luzhou all the way to Marshall and back again would take much longer than 24 hours. Plus U.S. voting procedures are unknown to them so the question, while seemingly silly, isn’t all that odd.

                “Well, actually,” I replied, “I can vote via the Internet or even by mail. I’ve chosen mail. Do you want to see how we Americans do that if we live overseas?”

                “Yes!  I want to know!” Ajay piped up excitedly.

                “Just a minute and I’ll show you.”

                I retrieved my unopened ballot envelope and returned to an anxious Ajay.

                Those within earshot of our conversation began  gathering around as Ajay did the honors of carefully opening the outer envelope.

                “Your first U.S. Presidential election, Ajay,” I joked.

Didn’t take long for his classmates to join in on the fun.

                “Yes, Ajay.   Who will you vote for?” his roommate, Nick (Zhu Hongzhi), teased.  “Must be Trump.  He’s a rich man.   He will help you get a lot of money.”

                The other male students nodded in agreement.

                “No, not that man,” Jessica (Yan Yingqiu) retorted.  “Vote for a woman.  The woman president is best.  She will lead strongly, I think.”

                My female students murmured approval, backing up Jessica’s comments for Hilary Clinton.

                As Ajay finished opening the envelope, we pulled out the contents:  ballot, ballot information sheet and the self-addressed, return mailing also enclosed inside.

                I explained each piece of paper, including the fact that on the ballot, there were other people to choose from besides just the President.

                “After the national leaders, here are the candidates for my state and local offices.    In fact, my brother is running for a local office, County Board.”

                “Really?” Ajay asked, searching the ballot.  “Where’s his name?” 

                “He’s for another area, another county, so I can’t vote for him,” I said sadly.  “But I would if I could.”

                “In China, only Communist Party Members can choose government leaders,” Nick commented . “I’m not a Party member.  It’s too much trouble.”

                I’d already known that.

 I used to think everyone was a Communist Party Member in China but that’s not the case.  To join the Party, adults 18 or older must first have a sponsoring member to vouch for them, attend orientation meetings which introduce them to the duties and obligations of a Party member, take Party Membership classes  and  finally pass an exam.  After that, Party Members attend monthly meetings in their areas, pay monthly dues (around $30 US)  and are allowed to vote for  government office candidates vetted from among their ranks.  They can also run for government offices themselves with Party approval or group consensus from their different regions.

There is definitely a voting procedure that takes place in China but for most offices, it is among Party members only, not the grand masses.  And many city, provincial and national government offices are appointments only  by the higher ups in the Party, much like our US President who has the ability to appoint individuals to certain positions without Congressional approval.

Being a Party member can be quite a boost to one’s personal career, especially in the business world and if applying for civil servant positions.  Among educators, it’s somewhat a necessity to join the Party in order  to move  up the ladder in any school system, whether elementary, secondary or  tertiary .  Party membership allows a classroom teacher to ambitiously move upward to become a professor (no PhD required for this title), a principal, a dean or other administrative positions.

 Most of my students, who will be teaching English at the elementary or junior high school level, don’t bother with Party membership.  They are quite satisfied with being a simple school teacher without the pressures of a higher position.  But we do have Party enrollment meetings that take place on our campus every semester.  Those interested join in and finish their initiation process within a year.

“ So who will you vote for?” one of my students asked, looking at the empty ballot boxes not yet filled in.

“That’s a secret,” I hedged .  “Some people don’t like to share their opinion while others like to tell everyone.  Depends on the person.”

“How about  Little Sister?” Jessica asked with a grin, looking down at her feet where my Chihuahua  sat wagging her tail.  “Who will she vote for?”

“Good question,” I replied. “So, Sister, who will you vote for? Trump or Hillary?”

All eyes were on my dog.

Sister gazed upwardly at our expectant faces.   Her nose twitched.  Her mouth opened.  Was this canine actually about to speak?! 

It truly seemed so, until she scooped up a piece of candy from off the floor and scurried away.

We all burst into laughter.

                “Looks like her vote is a secret, too,”Jessica sighed.

                Yes, Jessica, I guess so! 

          Here’s a reminder to all that every vote counts, no matter who you’re voting for or from where.  My vote from China is already in my local ballot box in Marshall, Illinois.   Be sure to add yours for your own city or town elections.  Happy voting, everyone!

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Little Beautiful Sister is still deciding. Just remember, every vote counts! Don’t forget to caste your ballot on November 8.  It’s a great honor and privilege to do so.

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The English Association’s Halloween Party: A huge success!

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Back in China: Hectic schedules, Roasting runs, Unsettled Moves

It’s been 3 weeks since I returned to China on Aug. 6 and pretty much, it’s been non-stop ever since.

Leaving the States

Saying Goodbye: My mom on our front porch with my suitcase

Saying Goodbye: My mom on our front porch with my suitcase

My allotted 50-pound suitcase is exactly that, after I had it weighed at our local vet's office using their animal scales

My allotted 50-pound suitcase is exactly that, after I had it weighed at our local vet’s office using their animal scales

After entertaining Chinese visitors in Illinois, which was a rare treat, I didn’t have much time to get myself in order for the flight back to Luzhou. There were last-minute shopping sprees for coffee and other goodies at the Walmart, stocking up on U.S. veterinarian supplies for my abandoned charges at the Xin Wang Animal Hospital (the Chinese meds are not really that great), saying goodbye to relatives and friends, getting in those final early –morning pool swims and making sure Lao-lao, our Chinese Chihuahua rescue, had plenty of pets before I disappeared until next year.

So long, Lao-lao!  See you next year.

So long, Lao-lao! See you next year.

A Busy Return

Amity staff and our Luzhou Christian church staff at a farewell luncheon (L-R:  Me, Amity Education Director Helen Zhao, new Amity teacher Denise Mountain, Pastor Zhao (behind), Pastor Liao and one of our lay leaders.

Amity staff and our Luzhou Christian church staff at a farewell luncheon (L-R: Me, Amity Education Director Helen Zhao, new Amity teacher Denise Mountain, Pastor Zhao (behind), Pastor Liao and one of our lay leaders.

Once in China, there was the new visa to deal with (I actually pick up my renewed residence permit this Monday), entertaining/advising a new Amity teacher and accompanying staff member for a week (Denise Mountain from Australia, teaching in Inner Mongolia, and “Lisa” Meng, her language trainer from the Nanjing office), putting together my textbooks for the new year (still working on that one) and waiting anxiously to hear . . . . when will I be moving?!

My move to the new school:  Still hovering over my head

Yes, I am still located on the 22nd floor of the highrise apartment which I was supposed to have been moved out of in April, then June, then July and now last week.

From my balcony, I still can enjoy the views of the city from the 22nd floor. This is the 111 degree weather day. Whew!

From my balcony, I still can enjoy the views of the city from the 22nd floor. This is the 111 degree weather day. Whew!

Peering down from my balcony on the street below.

Peering down from my balcony on the street below.

Obviously, none of those moving dates have come to fruition.

The new campus, I’ve heard, will be ready  when students are to be landing to settle back into their dorm rooms come Aug. 31st, before the school year starts on Sept. 5. The upper classmen moved in last month and dumped all their stuff  before heading off for summer break.  Lots of grumbles and protests took place due to no water, no ceiling fans yet in place, no WiFi Net access and overcrowded rooms with too many bunk beds in place.

Hopefully, those difficulties will be settled before their return or the school officials will have a student uprising on their hands.

The freshmen will be arriving mid-September, as is common in colleges and universities in China. They will have their military training (more like a bonding session) for 10 days and then begin courses in full.

I have yet to see the new campus since my visit last May but just know that we are on schedule to begin on time, so the administrators have said.

I do know the lease runs out to my rented apartment on Sept. 3 so I’m guessing that I should be out by then but without any news of an exact date, I am finding it very difficult to motivate myself to pack up my things. They are just sitting here, nicely arrayed and homey,  and I am not dealing with it yet.

Without a moving date, I am just not at all motivated to pack!  My comfy home, where my Amity visitors enjoyed a week together.

Without a moving date, I am just not at all motivated to pack! My comfy home, where my Amity visitors enjoyed a week together.

Sweltering Heat Engulfs All;  Relief Hard to Find

The Yangtze River was full of swimmers. Safety floaties for 30 yuan ($5) a day could be rented at a teahouse for swimmers.

The Yangtze River was full of swimmers due to the unbearable weather. Safety floaties for 30 yuan ($5) a day could be rented at a teahouse for swimmers.

Another big problem has been the heat. We’ve had the hottest summer in Luzhou in many years, so I was told.  This brought out loads of swimmers to the Yangtze River at various spots in the city.  Families, their doggies and the elderly found this a cheaper dip than the local swimming pools, which charged 30 yuan ($5) a day.  (The Yangtze is free, although I’m not a fan of polluted waters, which the river certainly is.)

On the 111 degree day, I enjoyed tea along the Yangtze with Denise for her goodbye to Luzhou. She headed off to Inner Mongolia, to her new school, the next day.

On the 111 degree day, I enjoyed tea along the Yangtze with Denise for her goodbye to Luzhou. She headed off to Inner Mongolia, to her new school, the next day.

My sitting room hit 96 degrees two days ago as there is no air-conditioning unit except in the bedroom. Last Wednesday had us at 111, the hottest for the month, with days before and following always over 100 degrees.

I was melting every day, sweat pouring off of me as soon as I left the air-conditioned bedroom’s comfort in the morning. The pool swims were great but even then, the fitness center cooling units struggled to keep the entire building comfortable.

My volunteer duties at the animal hospital, dog walks at the clinic and cleaning cages, had poor Stinky the Yorkie needing a cool-off in pans of water. I’d prepare his pool dip before he took off down the block for our 10-minutes outing. After he panted his way back, he jumped right in to lie down for some relief in the comfy water, after which we’d go sit in the clinic’s air-conditioned outer room and watch the Olympics on their flat-screen TV.

Stinky, the abandoned Yorkie at the clinic, has his pan of water soak after our short walks during our 100-degree weather days.

Stinky, the abandoned Yorkie at the clinic, has his pan of water soak after our short walks during our 100-degree weather days.

A visit to my old campus on a 95-degree day saw plenty of hot animals.

A visit to my old campus on a 95-degree day saw plenty of other hot animals.

The heat of Luzhou had everyone panting, including Little Sister, flopped on the pavement.

The heat of Luzhou had everyone in misery, including Little Sister, flopped on the pavement.

I’m relieved to say that yesterday, we had a big rain which cooled everything down to the 70s and 80s. It was the first day back I actually was able to go out without becoming a puddle on the sidewalk.

Church Worship Just as Hot

Worship at the Luzhou Protestant Church has likewise been quite a challenge . . . for me, anyway, if not for the Chinese who are used to the Luzhou summers.

I’m sure many remember years ago when our US churches weren’t air-conditioned. I still remember fans blowing the smothering, oppressive air all around the sanctuary at the Marshall First UMC. Our poor pastor and layleader were wiping sweat from their brows constantly in July and August, much like our Chinese church leaders have been doing here.

The temperatures haven’t stopped people from coming to church, though. We’ve kept our usual constant of around 400 and in the evenings at 7 p.m., the young people’s 2-hour worship has likewise been well-attended, so I heard.

With our cooler temps now in place since yesterday, tomorrow should be a lot more pleasant in church, that’s for sure.

Today's temps are now in the 80s, thanks to overcast skies and a nice cool-down.

Today’s temps are now in the 80s, thanks to overcast skies and a nice cool-down.

Thoughts Before Closing

The big move will probably take place sometime this week.

I have no idea what condition the new apt. will be in. Most likely, it will be very dirty from all the construction work, and the Internet may not yet be hooked up. There will be air-conditioners to install and the washing machine to hook up, plus the water heater and gas burner to attach for cooking.

My furniture will have to be re-assembled (bed and wardrobe) and hopefully, nothing will be broken this time around. The workers destroyed my bookcase in the last move. The school has promised to buy me a new one but maybe they should wait a bit. Might be something else broken on the final upcoming move that needs replacing as well.

One never knows!

From Luzhou, here’s wishing you many blessings for the upcoming week. Ping An (Peace)!

 

 

 

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An Unexpected Culture Shock

As a reminder: I arrived in the States on July 1st and have been enjoying time with my mom in my hometown, Marshall, IL. My return date to China will be August 6.

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China rescue Lao-lao and I enjoy a sit in the sunshine on the back deck.  I found him with a broken jaw so he has no ability to hold his tongue in.  He also has lost a majority of his teeth to gum disease. He has lived with my mom since 2009.  What a wonderful life he has now, given lots of pets and care from those of us who love him.

The evening’s cool breeze was sweeping me, my mom and Chihuahua Lao-lao (Old-old, our 2008 immigrant street rescue from China) down Hickory Street toward our house on North Michigan Avenue. Our nightly walk with the dog was almost over when my mom said, “Does it ever feel strange, jumping from China and then suddenly landing in Marshall, every time you make these trips back to America?”

I’ve been doing these jumps for so many years that, in all honesty, there is no strangeness involved. When I’m in China , I feel right at home, even straight off the plane, and the same goes for Marshall where I replant myself as soon as I step out of the Indianapolis Airport before driving the 1 ½ hours into Illinois.

But I must say, the other day did give me a bit of a jolt, one that I don’t often experience.

It started with a trashcan, or rather what was in it.

An Early Morning Swim Raises An Eyebrow

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The Marshall Community Pool was first built by the Lion’s Club in 1956.  It is now owned by the city.  A new pool is scheduled to be built for next year at a cost of 3 million dollars.  Fundraising by local citizens and city funding will cover the cost.

 

Monday morning had me at our local outdoor pool, ready for my 6 – 8 a.m. lap swim. The high school lifeguards, although bleary-eyed and wishing for a sleep-in, show up right on time to unlock the gate for us early birds to straggle in. It’s been Brandon’s turn this week and he was there a tad early on Monday, which gave me an opportunity to stroll in leisurely rather than swiftly hit the water for my daily work-out.

The crack-of-dawn opening allows our guards, usually two of them, to clean the pool while we adept adult swimmers cruise the waters. Cleaning duties include washing down the pool deck, sanitizing the bathrooms, picking up the parking lot and emptying trash cans into the dumpster out front.

When I drifted over to the patio to deposit my towel and shoes on the picnic bench, I noticed the trash cans were completely full, ready to be emptied.

The night before, a pool party had taken place from 7 – 10 p.m., which is not unusual for the weekends. Many groups from Marshall and surrounding towns rent our public pool for their summer gatherings at a reasonable $115. We are the only city within a 40-mile radius that has continued to keep its outdoor pool open for the community. It is one of the many services Marshall offers to the public and we here are extremely grateful to have it, as are those who patron our pool facility.

Overflowing trash cans after a pool party are nothing to be surprised about but what stopped me in my tracks was what was in one particular the trash can.

Perched on top of an underlying pile of plastic cups, bags and paper plates was a big box of Walmart cookies, still in the container and unopened. And next to that was an untouched sack of deep red, ripe cherries along with another bag of plump, white grapes. Further down was a squashed bag of hotdog buns, damaged from being tossed into the canister without a second thought, even though I’m pretty certain they were quite fresh before they went in.

I was truly taken back.

My mom and I had seen those same gorgeous red, ripe cherries from Washington State in our local Walmart in the same labeled zip-locked bag. They were $7.00 a pound. We had debated spending the money on them, but getting rather cheap, turned instead to the Ranier cherries which were only $4.20 a pound.

We had also kept temptation at bay concerning the many variety of cookies displayed on the bakery shelves, mostly because we prefer homemade but also because we didn’t really need all those extra unworthy calories, did we?

Yet here they were, all those store offerings from yesterday, haphazardly discarded and set before me.

No ants were marching about and those cherries (definitely over a pound) were begging to be saved. The same went for the grapes, likewise dumped without a second thought. Also needing rescuing were the store-bought cookies, Snickerdoodles and peanut butter, cuddled next to the fruit.

I didn’t hesitate, even in my shock, to shamelessly pull the lot out of the trash.

The cookie container I deposited into the basket room for the lifeguards to munch on during their on-duty hours that day. The fruit I quickly placed next to my towel on the picnic table to take home for my own consumption. As for the squashed buns, I grabbed those as well to toss out to the birds in the city park next to the pool.

My determination was to let nothing of good, edible use go to waste, even if it meant pulling things out of the trash. I didn’t really care what anyone thought of me. Such wastefulness, money and foodwise, was just not something I could ignore.

In China, people would have packaged everything up after a party and made sure it went home with someone. Nothing would have been left behind, I’m almost certain, especially the fruit.

Yes, I know Americans can be quite wasteful, even myself at times, but at that moment, the actions of my fellow countrymen just struck me as being so vastly different from my Asian home across the ocean that I was rather gobsmacked, as the Brits would say. How I wish I could have boasted how Americans do things better but in that moment, it was the Chinese way of waste awareness that I wish had gripped those partiers the night before.

Enjoying The Fruits of My Labor, Yet With A Tinge of Sadness

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The discarded cherries, not going to waste in my house!

I am currently enjoying the fruits of my trash-grab. My mom and I have been gobbling down those gorgeous red cherries and juicy grapes for the past couple of days. We are thankful for the free goodies, courtesy of the pool revelers from Sunday night, and yet, with every cherry and grape I eat, there is a tinge of sadness because I found out who had hosted the party.

It wasn’t a family for a reunion, our local school district for the students, a softball team’s celebration for a season’s ending, or a local business for employees and their families.

It was, of all people, an area church group.

From Illinois, here’s wishing you Ping An (Peace) for your weekend and a little reflection time on the above story. I’ll let you formulate your own personal thoughts on the matter.

 

 

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