Sunday, March 21, 2010

March 21st: Smoggy Weather and Painting Drama

Hello everyone! Sorry, I’m already slipping at keeping this updated now that classes have started and things are going on. Feel free to send me a message to keep me on my toes!

The past couple of weeks have gone just fine. The day I started teaching, March 8, was mind-numbingly cold—in the thirties, sleeting and then snowing, with a strong wind blowing. My hands were bright red just from walking across campus from class without my mittens on. When I went to dinner with some of the other teachers that night, I was chilled to the bone even with two layers and a wool coat, scarf, mittens, and hat on. However, the next day, the sun came out. Ever since, we’ve enjoyed sunny spring weather, with temperature up into the seventies this past week. Spring seemed to come overnight. This next week is supposed to be rainy again, so we could still see some cooler weather. I’m happy it’s going to rain—with so many days without rain, the pollutions and dust and pollen has fogged the air to the point where even looking across the street seems hazy. The sky is a murky shade of off-white even with the sun shining through. The rain should keep the dust down and clean the air, and hopefully all of us who have been suffering with allergies this past week will get a break.

I’ve met a lot of new people over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been to Tabby’s to spend time with some of our women friends. Last Monday, I spoke to the group about growing in our lives, and certain characteristics that we should cultivate. The talk went quite well; I talked and answered questions for a couple of the college girls afterward; they had never read that part of the book we’re studying. Over the next few weeks, some of the other women will take turns giving talks.

On Saturday, we had a women’s lunch together at Jane’s house in Shashi (pronounced Shah-sure). It was another good opportunity to spend time with new friends and get to know them better. Tabby and I did laugh, though—when we arrived, two of the little girls and one of the women were on the balcony playing—you guessed it—Settlers of Catan. I tried a few foods that I hadn’t before, including duck meat.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had quite a bit of drama about paint. I really love my new apartment; it would be quite beautiful painted. The walls now are a normal beige color, which isn’t bad, really. It’s just I’m not the type to have white or beige walls. I like color. Ideally, I’d like to paint the living room my current favorite, a bright olive green, and then a light blue-green would match the duvet cover I bought for the bedroom, and the hallways would be great in a bright golden yellow. The kitchen and bathrooms are tiles, so no painting there. The kitchen has grey cabinets and a dark blue countertop. I’ve got a couple of art-nouveau prints with dark blue and yellow in them, so all the kitchen towels and dishes and such that I’ve bought continue the blue/white/yellow theme in there. I’ve been to the apartment of Dale and Lisa, another American couple here, a couple of times, and I saw that they’d painted their apartment, so I asked Lisa about it.

I didn’t want to spend too much money or go to too much of a hassle painting an apartment that I should just be in for this year, but at the same time, I might as well enjoy while I am here. Lisa said she’d help me out finding out about paint. Her husband had done all of their painting a couple of years ago while she was still is the states visiting family (they’ve been here six years now), but he didn’t remember too much about the process. Anyhow, it started out as a seemingly simple idea. Find out how much paint costs, and can I get it in the color I want? However, things aren’t always so simple here. First of all, there are different qualities and kinds of paint, and then color costs extra, and then some shops can mix the color for you and some can’t, there’s no guarantee you’ll get exactly the color you want; and then anywhere that actually has paint chips and can actually do any specific color charge much more, and ...

Anyhow, I didn’t want it to be a hassle, but in the end it took Lisa and I three trips to figure it all out. I couldn’t do it on my own since very few of the shop owners speak any English. Lisa speaks Chinese quite well, but the last two trips, we were accompanied by a couple of Chinese guys, Derek and Jimmy, who helped do a lot of the talking, too. In the end, I did get some paint. I have a large can of the green color I wanted; that was enough of a hassle that I didn’t want to get into the hassle or expense of other colors. I’ll paint the living room first and see how much I have left, and then consider how much green I want to scatter out elsewhere. I’ll probably start on that project on Tuesday; I’ll post pictures of my apartment after that’s done. In the end, paint is pretty expensive for here, but still cheaper than what it would be in the states. Who would have thought a simple question about paint would turn out to be so much work...

Today's pictures are, top, several of us English teachers walking towards the apartment building where we all live, and, bottom, the decorative pond in front of my apartment building. 


Anonymous said...

It is nice to see where you call your humble abode. I love the picture of your community pond.
Your enthusiasm of the painting aspect seems to reflect a bit of your Dad's interests.
I am looking forward to you helping to put the personal touches on this simple dwelling back in the states.
Did I tell you lately that I love you.

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