Archive for May, 2007
Today we go to Tanjo! Last night Randal hosted a final little beer/ soda/ orange juice bash for the workers. It was fun, but a little sad. Lots of photos taken; many of the workers wanting to pose with Randal. Many have gotten to know him quite well from daily contact as they worked on projects together. We’ll say our final good-byes this morning. Bill is in Hong Kong, but he and Stella will see us in Tanjo. So it’s exciting, sad, and just a bit scary. We’re cutting that umbilical cord and going off on our own. We’re leaving many new friends; good friends. They will stay in our hearts as we move on. The journey to Tanjo is about one and a half hours and Fido or another Chinese captain will drive the boat. It’s not a giant step because we’ll be at the other boat yard getting final work done. But it is a step. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to email again, but will as soon as I can. Wish us luck!
Just quick. Randal was able to spend last night on the boat. He returned to the hospital this morning, but really just for a final check. He was released for good and given some meds. But other than losing about 8 pounds, he seems his old self. I will try to write up more later. This morning I am catching up on all of the laundry while the sun shines. It is very Hot!
Just a quick note. Randal is back at the boat tonight. He has to go back to the hospital tomorrow for not sure what. More IV drip medicine? Consultation? Pay the bill? Most medicine is given intravenously so it takes forever. Plus other drips of liquids because of his "runs." But solid food seems to be staying in him and his fever is gone. I will write more about the experience tomorrow or the next day. The staff were all kind and friendly and professional. It is family members who provide food and other necessities. Our hospital is a teaching hospital and mid-level as far as being modern and new. The "fever" ward is the last to be updated at some point in the future. So it looks bare-bones and old fashioned to us. But the staff isn’t and that’s more important. A Russian surgeon once told us he could perform surgery in the US using our modern equipment, but US doctors would be at a loss in Russia with their antiquated equipment. These Chinese doctors would love to have more contact with other doctors and just the world in general. But they are bright and cheerful and good.
ps not sure when we move to the other yard. will keep you posted.
Randal now has an official Chinese name. Landal. He needed it to sign into the hospital yesterday morning for what everyone thinks was a case of food poisoning. He is on the mend, though still there this morning. Thursday evening Randal ate some canned corned beef he bought in the Philippines. I honestly thought it tasted terrible so didn’t eat it. Mid-day Friday Randal started to feel feverish and sickish. But he didn’t want to go to the doctor. Or Saturday either though he felt terrible but could still function. Sunday I gave him no choice; he had sweated, chilled and had the runs all night. Stella and I took him early Sunday morning and they immediately went to work taking blood and giving him IV drips. As he seemed to become less feverish during the night he was soaked with sweat. I spent the night and we both fit into his tiny twin bed. The staff were kind, professional and cheerful. Randal is much improved today. I left him with Jane who can interpret for him. Stella arranged for Jane to be with him today. Jane is a project manager at the boat yard. I am going back later with clean clothes and supplies for him. The hospital isn’t as modern as Roanoke Memorial, but the Doctors are very good and the nurses are great. It is a teaching hospital and some med students really impressed me with their questions in trying to diagnose Randal’s problems. He seems to have acute intestinal somethings. Everyone else ate the same food at lunch Friday so the culprit seems to be the canned meat.
I was worried last night because Randal was so feverish. Sunday morning his temp was 39 and 36.8 is normal. It seemed to take forever to go down; but this morning he was normal and cool though still sweaty.
Stella has now been to the hospital with me and Randal! Both she and Bill and everyone have taken such good care of us. We even had a visit from hotel staff who had learned that Randal was in the hospital. Randal is in the "fever ward." Both men and women share the room. The woman in the bed next to Randal has shared mosquito incense and has helped keep an eye on the drips.
So that’s it for now. But we are fine! Really!
This email is a little sad; but good too. My little dog Belle has been living with my sister since Randal and I left Roanoke. My sister already had a dog, Jennie, but Belle needed a home. Belle and Jennie were friends and Harriet’s cat’s gradually got use to Belle. We were never sure exactly how old Belle was; I was her third owner. Judy Pace, who had rescued Belle from the animal shelter, thought Belle was at least 15 in 2005! I had gotten Belle from Judy in 1995 because I needed a dog and Belle wasn’t fond of little children and Judy needed a child friendly dog. It wasn’t love at first sight for Belle and me, but gradually I realized what a smart and lovable little dog she was. She looked to be a lab beagle mix and barked more than anyone needed. Belle had some quirky habits. When we were out walking she would growl at other dogs, if they were bigger, but let them into the house and was instantly friends. She ate any cat food in sight; but got along with the cats. She could out hike anyone on a cool day even when she was over 10 years old. Belle and I walked 3 or 4 miles every day and she was great company.
Jennie was rescued by Harriet and Jim. She was part chow and had a purple tongue. Jennie also liked to walk. But where Belle barked too much, Jennie would pull too much and pull and pull. Not so fun to walk Jennie. She liked to lick the salt on your legs too. But she was a good dog and got along with Harriet’s cats and any cat that came into the house. But for some sad reason Jennie started to forget things and would just seem to wander around and look lost. You can look at a dog and think it looks unhappy. That’s what happened to Randal’s dog Simon. He just didn’t feel well or seem happy and it was sad to watch.
My sister went off to my nephew Andrew’s graduation from grad school in Philadelphia and boarded the 2 dogs at the vet. Harriet received a call from Dr. Honeycutt explaining that Belle could no longer stand and could move very little. Jennie was looking sad and lost. Harriet and Dr. Honeycutt both made the decision that it was time to say good-bye to the dogs. My niece Jessica and her friend Gene went to be with the dogs so they would not be alone. They cried, my sister cried. I’m crying now as I write this.
Yesterday evening Lillian and more of the hotel staff came for one final visit. Stella gave us some incense and some "burning money" and when the evening got cooler we had a Chinese memorial service for the dogs. This in no way diminishes the importance of the ceremony to perform it for dogs. Dogs are family members in American families. Lillian, Singkey, who was there too, and the hotel staff all treated me and my feelings with utmost respect though they do not see animals as we do. We sent the dogs on their way with food, drink, money and some burning incense. It made me feel connected to the dog’s deaths though I couldn’t be there with them. Here is the ceremony.
The symbolic offerings of food, drink and money for the dogs’ journey.
Some last tears for the dogs.
I think about the dogs while everyone gave me time for quiet.
My simple painting of Belle and Jennie.
Here we are burning the paper money. Then we poured the 3 glasses of wine in front of the ashes. The food was symbolic and we took it back to the boat. Me, Singkey, Lillian, the Hotel’s chef.
We may be moving to the fiberglass yard Saturday. Then on to Hong Kong a few days later. I’m not sure what Internet access we will have when we leave Baijiao. I’ll keep you posted as much as possible.
Monday mid-day Randal went to the Philippines with Bill Kimley to bring boat parts to our friends Dave and Dorothy Nagle. I’m here on the boat, alone, having a “stay at home” adventure. I call it that because, it is the first time I have stayed alone on the boat. My first reaction to Randal’s leaving was, “here I go missing out on another adventure.” But when I got over that, I thought it would be kind of neat to stay here and take over all of the space on the boat for just me. And the cats. And lots of boat yard workers it turns out. There are last minute things that need doing but it works ok. They all work in the saloon and speak Chinese and I have the pilot house or our room where I can speak English to myself or the cats. Stella kindly asked me if I was worried about being alone and asked if maybe Lillian or Jane should stay with me. I said that I’d be fine having lived alone for many years. Stella asked the night guards to be extra vigilant and also left the wifi on for me to use my computer through the evening.
Monday morning, before Randal and Bill drove away, I walked into Biajiao and took the ferry across the river to a market in Jingan. I wanted to buy diet coke without lemon and some bottles of plain yogurt. It seems we have already bought every can of plain diet coke in the nearby markets of Baijiao and Jingan. It had been so hot lately that we were drinking it as fast as I was lugging it to the boat. Only the lemon flavored is left on the market shelves and I don’t mind it, but Randal doesn’t like it. So I walk to the further away markets where no one else who buys diet coke seems to go, and I buy 10 or 12 cans of plain diet coke at a time. Add a few cans of beer and a few other groceries and my pack weighs a ton. It makes me really stingy with those cokes. And unfortunately, none of the markets on our side of the river sell yogurt. So I made a quick trip and was back in time to say good-bye. Lunch was about 1:30 and by the time we were finished it was mid-afternoon and the day was going very fast. I tried to sketch a picture of Slick the cat, but he wouldn’t cooperate and kept moving and I wasn’t fast enough to get done between moves. I had to keep erasing his head. In the early evening Stella checked on me before she and the office crew left for the night. I made a light dinner finishing the really terrible peanut butter bread I had made. The recipe had you mix the peanut butter into the flour rather than the eggs and milk so it had the consistency of pie dough with egg milk poured on top. The poor thing never recovered and was very dense. The cooking time was way off too. But I ate it and it’s all gone. I put yogurt cheese on it and honey and that was that. I make yogurt cheese by straining the yogurt through a cheese cloth. It has the consistency of cream cheese but not the taste. I like it. Randal doesn’t. Then I watched a video because our cable connection wasn’t working quite right. About 10 pm I went to sleep. Slick slept in the pilot house. There were rolling waves and I was rocked to sleep in no time with not a worry in the world.
Tuesday, I got up early, about 5 am, knowing the workers might come aboard at 7:30 to continue their work. I ate my usual oatmeal with raisins and yogurt, and some tea. A quick shower, my patched cutoffs and I was ready. I took the computer out onto the cockpit and picked up the wifi and read email, read about the Red Sox, and at 7 am went to the Fox Sports site where you can follow the game with their little diagrams and text. Unfortunately the Red Sox lost to the Yankees but are still 9 ½ games ahead. Later, at 10:30 Ray Wolfe was leaving the yard to return to the Philippines. He inspects boats for many owners, like a home inspector. He and his wife and 2 daughters live in the Philippines and I am looking forward to meeting his family, their pets and horses! Ray was leaving China through the port of Gongbei so I caught a ride with him to window shop the zillions of bazaar like stalls. It is an all indoor area and with the rainy weather I figured it was a good day to go. I had been there twice before so knew how to get the bus home. It was also just a few blocks from the Vanguard Supermarket that sells cereal Randal likes. About 10 minutes after I got to Gongbei, I was ready to leave. But I wanted to buy a few more shawls having given mine as gifts. I found a shawl store and the clerks pulled almost every shawl for me to try. I knew I would buy at least one so the high pressure sale didn’t bother me. I bought 2; one to use every day in air conditioned Hong Kong, and one for dress up. Or to give away. I also had my heart set on a red bead bracelet. It would be my good luck, win the World Series Red Sox bracelet. Not that I need any more proof of my fanship. I have the hat, shirts, watch with a big red B and a tiny baseball hat charm on a chain around my neck. But you can never have too much good luck and pitching. Hopefully the fact that I paid less for the bracelet than they asked won’t jinx it. I probably paid more than they expected. But it was only about $2.25 U.S., a bargain compared to the $190 we paid last fall to see the Sox lose at Fenway park. Then I was done and headed for the Vanguard Supermarket for Randal’s cereal. It was still a bit drizzily so I was wearing my too heavy rain jacket and sweating away. The supermarket is huge and I’m not really so familiar with the layout. By the time I had found and waited in line to pay for the cereal I was definitely ready to go home. I walked over towards the bus terminal and caught the 601 bus to Jingan just as it was leaving. Luckily being early afternoon on a week day there were lots of empty seats on the bus. I have had to stand during the 90 minute ride when the bus was crammed packed. The bus stops in Jingan about a half mile from the ferry terminal. Before catching the ferry I stopped in a wet market to buy some dinner veggies, and then hot and tired caught the ferry back home to Baijiao. In Baijiao I thought about taking a little green 3 wheel taxi but opted for the exercise and walked back to the yard with my shawls, bracelet, 4 boxes of cereal and cauliflower. When I was on the boat, it was back into my tattered cutoffs and time to relax. About 4:30 some of Stella’s friends from Hong Kong came by and I gave them a boat tour. They were very charming and I shrugged off the fact that the boat was messy from the work still being done and just life in general. (I’m sitting in the cockpit, early morning now as I type this, and the sun has just come out making it hard to see. But it is drying the clothes I washed earlier in hopes that today would finally be sunny after all of our rainy days. I also just asked Stella to write a note in Chinese for me telling the workers to make me move if I’m in their way. After my visitors left I cooked myself some cauliflower and had a glass of wine. That and a Chinese cup cake for dessert was dinner. I watched some tv and went to sleep at 10. Slick the cat slept in the saloon. About 2:30 I woke up hungry so had a cup of tea and read for a bit and then back to bed until 5:30 this morning.
I’m typing this as I follow the Red Sox/Yankees game on the computer. The workers are busy inside the boat. When the game is over I’ll walk to one of the wet markets for dinner veggies. Since I vowed to paint during these few days I got out my paints and paper and will attempt it some time today The workers are in the pilot house now too and on the fly bridge so I’m not sure where I’ll find a place to sit. I did take some photos of the really huge boats at the yard next door. So that’s it. Back to the game for me. Red Sox won. I did turn on the tv and sat and painted a picture of the blue and yellow tin that holds our pens and pencils. I like the way I painted some of the things in the tin. It’s either not bad or I’m easily satisfied. I did eat that awful peanut butter bread!
And today, Thursday, is an exact repeat of yesterday’s early morning paragraph. I did ride my bike yesterday afternoon on our 9 mile loop. And this morning I washed and hung another load of laundry. The game is on the computer and the workers are in the saloon finishing things. It’s only the second inning of the game and the score is Yankees 3/ Sox 0. I’m going off to the market for veggies and will check on things when I return and finally send this. Randal will be home later this afternoon.
Early yesterday morning Doramac was surrounded by small fishing boats that nearly came floating into us.
This boat looked to be a husband/wife team. Hard work!!
A giant from the neighboring boat yard.
Really big neighbors. That crane is used to dredge and looks like a dinosaur as it open and dips into the river for dirt.
Two together take up the whole river.
Helped by a little tug.
5:30 am Tuesday 5/22/2007
It’s very typical that high school students will come up to either Randal or me and practice their English. One day a young high school student on her way to the big book store saw Randal and began a conversation with him. A few days later they met again on the ferry from Jingan to Biajiao. That was in early February. February 17th Randal received a lovely letter from her. Her English name is Singkey. Randal wrote back and invited her to see our boat. He offered to help her set up an email account so she could write to us and practice her English. Yesterday Singkey came to visit our boat. She and Randal spent some time before lunch setting up the email account. After lunch they practiced making sure Singkey could access the account and understand how it works. Singkey lives with her mother in a house they rent in Baijiao. Her grandfather was a practitioner of Chinese medicine. She didn’t mention her father, so I didn’t ask about him. Singkey doesn’t have a computer at home and none are readily available at school. As it turns out Singkey is in her first year at He Fong, the same school that BoBo, and Zoey will graduate from next month. Gotsome, Bobo’s brother is a 2nd year student and is quite good with computers. I emailed him and asked him to look for Singkey to help her with the email. Apparently the school computers are mostly for teacher use. But Singkey is a reader so loves that the school library has many new books.
Setting up the email account
She asked for a photo with Auntie Ruth!
Here is a copy of her letter. The students don’t have much chance to practice their English so she really appreciated the time Randal took speaking with her when they met. I didn’t correct anything, partly because I might not really understand her thought; partly to let the charm of the letter stand unharmed.
Dear Mr. Johnson,
How is everything going? Guess who am I? I am Singkey!
Ok, at first I must tell you. As I only know a little about English. So maybe there are some mistakes in my words. But I hope you can understand me. Know what I have to say.
I think I am very lucky, Mr. Johnson. Why? Because I met you, a kind man from USA. My English teacher told me most of America are very friendly. I believe that since I met you. I can see the smile always appear in your face. To talk with you, I feel very happy. To make friends with you, I feel very, very happy, too.
I’m a High Middle school student. I’m going to university three years later. Let me think. I have studied English for six years. Do you know? I feel very happy as I can talk with you in English. Although sometimes I couldn’t understand what you mean. So I will try my best to study English. I believe, I can easy to talk with you someday. I can do that.
Aha, tomorrow is Spring Festival. I feel very happy. As you know, Spring Festival is very, very important for Chinese. We will do a lot of things before Spring Festival, such as clean the house, buy some new clothes, buy something to eat and so on. Family and friends will get together. It’s like your Thanksgiving Day. But, the happiest thing for us is we can get the lucky money. Anyway, during the Festival, a lot of interesting and happy things will be done. But my English is too poor now. I don’t know how to tell you in English.
You told me you will go back Hong Kong after the Spring Festival. Right? Oh, I will miss you, Mr. Johnson.
In fact, I want to visit you, but I don’t know how to speak to you when we are face to face. If you have time, I hope you can write to me before you go back Hong Kong.
Do you remember my Chinese name? My Chinese name is…(Chinese characters. ) The Chinese address of my school is…(more Chinese characters)
Happy new year and have a good time here, Mr. Johnson.
Last Saturday night Randal and I were invited to attend the dinner for Connie’s sister’s baby girl. It is called a 1st Month Party and is sort of like a baby shower. Guests do bring presents. But it was really a dinner for family and friends and a chance to meet the new baby. She is a very pretty baby. She slept through the entire evening with not a peep as everyone held her, and in my case, flashed a camera in her face. It was a lovely, friendly, informal dinner with father and grandfathers coming to each table for several toasts. (Too many toasts was the last thing I needed. We had stopped at the Blue Angle between the ferry back from Hong Kong and the restaurant where the dinner was to be held later in the evening. I had a Bloody Mary ??? where the tomato juice was suspect but the vodka was real.) Randal and I brought some baby lotions and oil in a really cute pink drawstring cloth bag with cats quilted on it. Bill brought some tiny pink shoes called "crocs" which everyone has but me. Stella brought a giant teddy bear.
Here are some photos.
Stella holding baby, daughter-in-law Aunt Connie, son Uncle Fido
Our friend Jerry Wallace, Baby, Me.
Baby and Mom and Teddy Bear
Traditional dish of hard boiled eggs colored red for good luck. (They look brown here, but were red there.)
Ruth and Randal
Boston Red Sox hat travels the world.