Finally, my peds got cured.

Yesterday I got my first pedicure in months.  We were so busy all summer with moving that fingernails and toenails fell by the wayside.

I took a “before” photo.  After I sent it from phone to computer and saw it enlarged I decided it’s too horrifying to include here.  Just trust me, my toes needed help.  I haven’t worn sandals since early May.  It was imperative to keep these dogs under wraps.

The Woodhouse  day spa just opened across the street. While walking Bronson in closed toe shoes (Me not him.  He goes barefoot) we stuck our heads in to see if anyone would have time to take on my sad tootsies.

The answer was “sure”.  I took Bdog home again, dug out a pair of sandals, and headed back to the spa.  The place is quite elegant.  They recently had a splashy open house complete with piles of appetizers and oceans of wine.  Many people from our building were there.  We were all gifted with a card for ten percent off all future products and services.

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My pedicurist was named Meimee.  While she struggled to restore order to foot chaos, I sat and wrote several pages in the red Mead notebook I take to writer’s workshop.

My morning pages–as suggested by Julia Cameron– have their own Mead notebooks. I’m on my third.  The first was aqua.  The second was yellow.  The present black one is nearly full.  Next will be kelly green, then purple and then I get to buy six more spiral notebooks on Amazon Prime.  Yay! The little things in life, eh?

I almost didn’t bother going to class.  Saturday Market was yesterday.  We went early to get the farm fresh eggs before they sold out. If you haven’t purchased extremely fresh eggs I recommend it.  They are divine.

The class began at 10.  Did I really want to bother showering and manifesting a face in only half an hour?

Jim reminded me how much I’d relished it the week before, so I pulled my act together, put on my closed toe shoes and went to school.

I was a couple of minutes late.  The group was asking each other questions to sort out what they had in common.  Supposedly this is a helpful exercise in character building.  Bob-group leader and all together fun guy-asked me several things.  First, “Where are you from?”

“Delaware.”  No common ground there.

Second, “What’s your favorite food?”

“Cream Cheese.  Out of the package.  Eaten with a fork.” Everyone laughed.  Weird since cream cheese really is feast from the God’s.  I never did hear Bob’s favorite food.  But I noticed he ate a Starbucks cookie during the workshop.

At the end of class we did a ten minute timed writing.  Our hands were not to pause.  It was freeing.  I decided to repeat the exercise and continue writing all through my pedicure.  Which, given the miserable state of my feet, would last more than a mere ten minutes.

As I wrote and Meimee worked I spent the time manifesting the three million dollar lottery win I have planned.  I’ve budgeted $16 a month for tickets, invested as follows: One two dollar ticket weekly on Mega Millions and two one dollar tickets weekly on Florida lotto.

So far I’ve only played twice.

I didn’t win last week.  Which was good because Florida Lotto was only up to 2.5 million. It is rolled over to 3 million now. I’m buying all the tickets from mom and pop places so they’ll win money too.  Ain’t I generous?

I have my winnings earmarked.  Fifty percent will go to two causes near and dear to  my heart.  Another percentage, not yet decided, will be pledged to NPR.  The lion’s share will go to our four kids.  The remainder will be for us.

I know Jim will want to use lots of it for travel.  Since I loathe flying we’ll splurge on Business or First class tickets.

I will invest a bunch in buying stamps and thick fancy stationery.  I’ll purchase a self driving car so when we take our long road trips I don’t have to gasp and stomp on the imaginary brake when Jim follows too closely.

Another thing I’ll do is eat all the cream cheese I want then go get liposuction to remove the inevitable fat wads.  I can’t get a facelift because my daughter, the critical care nurse, tells me at my “advanced age” (ouch) the time spent under anesthesia would be dangerous.

Meimee finally inquired what I was writing.  I told her I have a blog and was working out what to blog about next.  She shared that she’s writing her life story.

I then put down my pen and asked her to share that with me. I learned her grandfather was a General in the Chinese Army during the revolution.  When China became communist he moved his family to Taiwan.  Once Meimee was three Grandpa and Grandma took her to America.  Mom stayed behind.  Meimee goes to Taiwan every few years to see her.

I found myself wishing my hearing was better.  Between the bubbling water and her slight accent I missed a few answers to my questions.  Everyone has a book in them, don’t they?

Here is what Meimee created!

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Yes, I have the tiniest toenails on the planet.

Now, I have to go manifest a crab boil at Lynda and Rusty’s house.  She recently  had us for one and it was delicious.  She said, “Don’t tell Mama we did this while she was out of town. She will be mad to have missed it.”

Erika, aka Mama, was picking apples in Connecticut.  Naturally, I sent Mama a postcard and tattled.  Now Mama is recovering from a knee replacement at Lynda’s home.  I’m pretty certain a crab boil would be exactly what the doctor would order for  speedy recovery.  And Lynda, I’ll supply the crab, shrimp, sausage.  You just cook it all up in a pan.  Yay for manifesting great things!

Now all you good and gentle readers–go forth and prosper.

Travel to China

For several years I designed fountains, statuary, and planters. They were made in China and sold at Costco. The job required travel to China. I begged my boss, Mary Beth, to take me there. I had no idea how grueling those trips could be. After my first trek, I began begging NOT to go to China.

The flight from Chicago to Hong Kong was nearly sixteen hours. I was in economy, often a center seat. From Hong Kong, we took a ferry to mainland China, followed by a long car ride to the resin factory, Peak Top.

What I mostly remember was being horribly jet-lagged for the first several days. But we hit the ground running in spite of exhaustion. There was always a ton of work to jam into our two-week junkets.

Peak Top Factory was a large campus surrounded by a fence and watched over by armed guards. On the campus was a three story hotel where we stayed. The first floor had sofas, a reception area, and a dining room. The dining room had five large round tables. In the center of each was a lazy susan. Management ate there, as did any visiting guests.

One morning my breakfast companions were six tonsured Chinese monks wearing brown burlap robes, tied at the waist with a rope.

Breakfast was congee, a rice “soup.” Wallpaper paste. Dinner was always fried rice. There were other options, but none looked too appetizing.

The second floor had guest rooms as well as a karaoke bar. No one was ever in there during our visits. Our threadbare rooms were on the third floor, furnished with lumpy mattresses, a small round table, laminate night stand and an overhead light.

Each day our laundry was gathered and washed. It came back a bit gray. Possibly darks and lights were put in the same loads.

Other buildings on the campus were offices for management, a large showroom where buyers would view finished products, and the factory itself.

There was a giant plot of land where cast off fountains, statuary, and planters went to die. The puddles in fountains were a breeding ground for swarms of mosquitos. We spent hours wandering the graveyard looking for inspiration, being chewed on by bloodthirsty insects.

Every morning we walked from hotel to factory.  The cement stairways were long, each step unusually high. If you happened to be on those stairs when the lunch whistle blew you risked being trampled by hundreds of hungry factory workers.

We worked with design teams to turn our two-dimensional plans into three-dimensional products. First, factory workers made a styrofoam prototype. Once we signed off on that, they created a clay model and made a mold for the resin.

At lunchtime, we went to a small restaurant off campus, chosen because it didn’t serve dog. Before the meal, we washed our dishes with hot water poured from a teapot. Appetizers consisted of redskin peanuts. Picking those up with chopsticks was tricky, but I learned.

The street into Peak Top town was pitted. Chickens wandered the road, and raw meat for sale sat in the hot sun gathering flies. Small children played unaccompanied by parents. Mongrels roamed, picking up scraps when available.  We were told never to walk that street after dark unless accompanied by a couple of men.

While the work was physically exhausting, it was fascinating. We partnered with several English speaking upper management folks. Miss Gao, first name Sunny but no one ever used it, was a wizard with paint.  A skinny little thing, she wore shirt waist dresses, high heels, and on her wrist was a Hello Kitty phone case holding a minuscule cell phone.

When speaking Chinese to coworkers, she sounded angry. I once asked, “Are you fighting with those ladies?” She wasn’t. It’s just how Chinese sounds. Rapid and irate.

Jim Peng was a wonderful young man. He speaks excellent English and loves to read. I would pass along my finished books, and he would devour them in days.  He showed me photos of his childhood home, built into the side of a steep hill.  They had no running water or indoor plumbing.  The toilet was a hole dug in the ground.

Another woman we worked with was Maple. She was beautiful, gentle and ageless.

In spite of the long hours, we did find time for fun. Several times we went to Shenzhen and shopped Luohu market. Luohu is a vast building housing hundreds of vendors selling knock off everything. Gucci purses, Chanel jewelry, Hermes scarves. The shopkeepers are aggressive. They chase shoppers down the halls, pulling at their arms, demanding in pigeon English you buy from them.

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We were told never to pay the suggested price. Barter until you get down to one-third of asking. If you don’t get your price, move on. Three doors down will be another showroom carrying the same items.

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At first, I was timid about bartering, but as the day wore on, I began to have fun with it. I became a very “ugly American.” Mary Beth worked hard selecting half a dozen Kipling bags. She then settled on a price. I declared, “Mary Beth, we’re outta’ here! Put those back.”

She looked bewildered, then laughed and followed me to the hallway. Sure enough, the tiny shop girl pursued her. Mary Beth got the bags for a fraction of what she’d been about to pay.

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This is the Luohu ladies room.  No bathrooms offer toilet paper. If you don’t remember Kleenex you’ll be drip drying.

She was unable to go to China on my final trips due to illness. I went alone for two weeks, returned home for ten days, only to turn around and go back for another two weeks.  My body was completely confused about when to sleep, so I took Ambien. One night after swallowing my pill I opened the kitchen door to let the dog out.

The next thing I knew it was morning, Jim was looming above me. I had passed out and slammed my head against the granite counter top. Jim woke when a random man rang our door bell. He had Bronson in tow. The poor animal had been outside all night.

I ended up at the Emergency room getting ten stitches over my left eyebrow. After that, we decided I was too old to do such a taxing job.

My sister, Marilyn, is a nurse. When she heard my Ambien story, she said, “That’s why they call it the ‘velvet hammer.'”

I’m glad I had the experience of working in China.   And I’m glad I don’t have to do it anymore.

Related blog posts:

Introducing Bronson, our dog trained in the Colorado Men’s Penitentiary

I used to ask, “Why me?” Now I say, “Why NOT me!”

 

 

 

Coffee makes life good

It wasn’t until age who-the-heck knows–somewhere after twenty-five and before sixty–that I embraced coffee.  Now I adore it!

But only iced with (shame on me) full-fat milk and stevia.  I pretend the stevia un-does the whole-milk damage.

Todays breakfast is in a wee teeny glass Jim stole from a bar in Hong Kong while on leave from Viet Nam.

I LOVE this little glass.  Jim maintains he swiped it just for me.  Since I am embracing the “manifest-your-future” thinking I pretend he knew I was–eventually–a part of his life.

It’s cute, right?  For a long time it lived in the garage holding pencils.  I only recently promoted it to kitchen favorite.

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Only about five inches tall.  I wonder if the Imperial Hotel still exists  Project for today:  Figure out if that Hotel is still in business.                                                              Note to self: DO NOT MAKE A RESERVATION.  I’ve had enough visits to China to last a lifetime.  Visiting China was a wonderful life experience.  Happy to have done it. Happy to have it in my rear-view mirror.

I have to amend the “no go to China” thing.  I would LOVE seeing Jim Peng, Maple and Miss Gao again.  They were an enormous gift in my life.