Thursday, November 29, 2012

Drawer # 5.7 : Scraps & Fake Flowers

How one thing leads to another:

I was under some dark theft star one night last week, very unusual here: in the evening, a pickpocket, sneaking up behind me in the dark, tried to get into my purse; the following morning, I discovered that during the night some other knave had nicked the ceramic flower box that was home to our kitchen window morning glories, leaving all their poor naked roots dangling helplessly in the wind. The pickpocket I grabbed and told off (in my best Anglo-Saxon) & got on with things if a little shaky with adrenaline. But the flowerbox broke my heart. Our neighbor & housekeeper, Wu Fang, wrote 素质差 (su4 zhi4 cha4) on my phone which my (life-saving) Pleco translation app translated as “So ignorant! So uneducated!”

All summer the morning glories had brought pleasure to our neighbors who use the narrow walled-in lane behind our block of rowhouses, for washing vegetables in their outdoor kitchen sinks & hanging out laundry on the bamboo poles overhead. I’d look up from my own (indoor) sink to see someone paused in their path to gaze for a moment at the unexpected beauty of the vines. Once, an elderly man who had once lived in America as a chemistry professor, spoke to me approvingly as I watered the flowerbox: “I think you are very comfortable in China.” (Not.)

So morning glories gone but determined not to be robbed of beauty outside my kitchen window, I plotted my own theft…

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The perfect storm begins

An email almost exactly a year ago from my friend, the artist Holly Roberts:

And Missy, why aren't you doing a blog?  You're a good writer, you're living this exotic life in a very foreign city, you're an artist and it sounds like you feel somewhat disconnected from your world in China.  What could be a better perfect storm?
So here it finally is: a blog that searches thru the contents of the 64 + 3 drawers of a 100+ year old Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Cabinet, a cabinet that I stocked over the course of 5 years with the puzzles & wonders of my Shanghai life.

Over the next year, I'll post a drawer a week, in random sequence as current adventures inspire...& add occasional posts on curiosities, newly discovered, that should have made it into the cabinet & posts on curiosities that just don't fit into a  x 4.25 x 4.5 inch container.

This blog will be my new wunderkammer, a 'chamber of miracles.' I hope.