Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I grew up in Pittsburgh, an ethnic city. I miss that…the ethnicity. I think of the restaurants my husband and I loved. Too many Italian restaurants to single out. A Middle-Eastern one, Samreny’s that had the best food. Then there was a Jewish deli that I visited after every obstetrician visit after having starved myself since the previous appointment.

My friends ran the spectrum of ethnicities. Some I knew their backgrounds, some I didn’t. It didn’t matter; they were friends.

My father had a lot of dislikes. He didn’t like Italians, Irish, English, German and the Serbians. He was Croatian. My Uncle Mike was that damned Serbian. If I mentioned a new friend, his first question would be, “What nationality is he/she?”. I was absolutely forbidden to date Italians. (My aunt had gotten pregnant by an Italian and in those days it was such a disgrace. She got an abortion from a back-alley butcher and was never able to have children). I dated them anyway, but had to meet them up the road. I had thought all that died with his generation. I was wrong. It appears to have resurfaced stronger than ever. Really as vocal as my dad was at home about other nationalities, I believe he would be saddened by what we see and hear now. I don’t believe in his heart he really hated any of those people from long ago.

Last week, my family got together for a picnic to celebrate birthdays at a park that has a sunflower field. A two or three acre one, I believe. We were sitting at a picnic table by the sunflowers and near a large swing set. It was pretty busy with all the kids swinging. My 12 year old grandson went over to join in the fun. The boys his age were all black. It didn’t matter to him nor them. They had a good time together. I felt there was hope for our country after all.

And then on Tuesday I watched the House Committee on the January 6 attack on our Democracy. And I listened to the stories the policemen told about their experiences with the hate and violence that occurred. I didn’t actually cry. It was more like my eyes kept leaking. What have we become?

Afterward, I went onto the Fox News Facebook page to see if they were covering it. I could be very mistaken, but as I recalled, when the riots were occurring, they weren’t covering it much. I don’t have cable, so the Facebook page was my only source. I was surprised, although I shouldn’t have been, that the only comments people were making were sarcastic remarks about no one wearing masks. Really? Nothing about the testimonies at all? Nope.

Today on my news page, I listened to the voicemail Officer Fanone got from an absolutely hateful person. Hateful. How angry and hateful must someone be to take the time to leave such a vile message? What a menace someone like that is! And he probably has multiple guns. I hope they are able to track that call and take his guns away before he harms innocent people.

So my optimism of last week has just blown up. I hate to think of the world we are leaving for my grandchildren. Does anyone have any hope that this will change? Boy, do I ever need hope. Do you have any suggestions on where I might find some?

Waa … I want to travel!

I’m a three-quarter hermit. While the pandemic has really affected many, it hasn’t been a problem for me as regards being stuck in the house. I just really don’t go outdoors much. I even joined a gym because I can exercise indoors. Not that I even go there much. And not at all while it was closed because of covid-19. And actually, truth be told … I haven’t been there since it opened.

What do I really miss? Travel! Big time. Since my last post, you know that I was a participant in the Pfizer clinical trial for the vaccine. They notified me in February that I had, indeed, received the vaccine and not the placebo. I went in March for them to draw blood looking for antibodies, I suppose. Jim became fully vaccinated in March, so we’re ready. But, I still don’t feel comfortable going to any of the hotspots … Florida, Georgia, Texas, Michigan, etc. Too many people feel no responsibility to help keep others safe. Don’t want their personal rights infringed upon.

We have reserved a weekend in Daytona Beach for a 4 day Smooth Jazz concert in November. Since I got my shots in July/August 2020, I hope I will still be protected with antibodies. I do feel comfortable that if my blood draw in March shows my antibodies weakening, I will be notified to get a booster. Fingers crossed.

We just booked a Smooth Jazz cruise out of Amsterdam next May 2022. So far off! I want to go now! I keep telling myself a year isn’t sooo far off.

The travel company we have used for our travels the past number of years, Gate 1, has started booking tours again but the prices are so high! Much higher than we’ve paid before. And Europe is such a virus hotspot that I’m not comfortable even considering it. Being crammed into a plane for all the hours it takes to get across the ocean with people who may or may not be carriers is darn right scary. Getting a temperature check doesn’t insure that in an hour you won’t become sick.

This brings me to a comment I heard David Brooks make on the PBS News Hour. He is a Republican conservative writer for the New York Times. For all you who believe PBS only promotes far-left liberal ideology … well, you are wrong. He’s on a segment on the Friday broadcasts and I hate to miss it. On this particular one, they were discussing the vaccine passports. Should we have them … should we not. He was all for having them. His reasoning was that if people are taking the virus seriously and doing what is needed to be done to get this pandemic under control, they should get perks … rewards. We should be the ones allowed on planes. We should be the ones to go to sporting events. We should be the ones to eat out in restaurants, etc. Those who don’t want to do their part should have to stay home and miss out. Right on, David! I’m tired of people who feel my rights don’t equal theirs. That I should respect their right to infect everyone, but I should just stay home if I’m afraid of getting sick. Afraid of getting a needle stuck in your arm? SUCK IT UP. It’s not going to kill you, but the virus might.

I’ll fill you in on what fun I’ve had this past year. It wasn’t rollicking, but it did use up time! Till then ……

It’s the Small Things, Really

It was just after Christmas and my son, grandson and I decided to tour Historic Oakwood near downtown Raleigh to see some of the decorated historic houses. We’re so used to developments where all the houses are one of a choice of a few models, it was so interesting to see variety in architecture like these house styles.

It was still daylight, so if any had elaborate lighting, I was not privy to it. The simplicity of the exterior decorations were delightful.

But first, I had to meet them in the Historic Oakwood Cemetery. I know … my grandson wanted to go there. Go figure. It isn’t the kind of place you think a nine year old would want to go. It was my first time there and it was huge. And I think I drove every inch of it looking for my family. Finally, I made the decision to text them to get a clue. “Where are you?” I still wasn’t sure where to go, but luckily I happened upon them. Since they weren’t near their car, they jumped in the back seat. Once we exited the cemetery, I parked the car and we began our exploration.

I must say, I enjoyed it more than I expected. Some of the houses had no decorations, while others were noteworthy. One even was over the top … one my grandson said was inappropriate for Christmas. It had a huge dinosaur about 10 feet tall, with a reindeer in it’s mouth. I had to agree. I didn’t take a picture of it. Dang.

As it began to get colder, we made the decision to head toward my son’s car. My grandson was cold and tired of walking around. So as I left them, I refused the offer of a ride back to my car. After all the goodies I had eaten over the previous few days, I needed the exercise. As I was heading back, it dawned on me that I had no clue where I had parked. Now what do I do? At this point, I knew my son would already be out of downtown. And it being the end of the business day, I didn’t want him to have to turn around to get me, so I just forged on. Down this street, over onto that street. Dang, where the heck was I?  I knew if I could find the dinosaur house, I’d be able to find my car. Unfortunately, nothing looked familiar. I began to have visions of calling 911.  Do they send help to senior citizens who have managed to get themselves lost? When what to my wondering eyes should appear? The house with the dinosaur eating the reindeer! Ho! Ho! Ho! I turned left and voila! This was the street. I’d seen these houses before. Heading down the block, I felt the urge to give my car a hug. Or at least a pat. After getting in my car and driving off, believe it or not … I got lost. But this time, I had GPS. Whew!



From one of my favorite bloggers …

Aging Gracefully My Ass


While AGMA has never been sexually assaulted or raped, I grieve along with the tens of thousands of women who have had that horrific, life altering experience.

I grieve that so many of them have felt too terrified to tell their stories and their attackers have gone unpunished.

I grieve for the women who have summoned the strength to tell their stories at great personal risk, but have been summarily dismissed as ‘troublemakers’.  Like Dr. Ford.  And their attackers have gone unpunished.

I grieve for the women whose rape kits are sitting in law enforcement labs gathering dust.

I grieve for the women who have been so damaged by sexual assault/rape that they could not function after their assault/rape.  Some have not been able to finish their education, hold down a job, have a healthy physical/emotional relationship with a partner and and and…

I grieve that the unaddressed, unacknowleded, unresolved…

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I Just Don’t Understand

Why have we become so ugly? So mean? So prejudiced? So unaccepting of each other?  I am sad beyond sad. Is that possible? And it’s not a difference of opinion.  We’ve always had a difference of opinion with people.  It’s that people can’t discuss anything without being hateful. Without name calling. Without labeling with the intent to diminish. We’re ugly, folks. Yes, you and me.

I’ve always loved politics.  My first foray was in the 7th or 8th grade when I was the campaign manager for a black girl running for student council. I mention that she was black because I had never encountered any until I went to junior high. But, her blackness didn’t prevent me from feeling she’d be a good addition to student council. I think she lost because I made the mistake of memorizing my speech and when I looked out over that auditorium of people, I forgot a line and silence followed until I got my act back together. There were even a few snickers, as I remember. Sorry, Elnora.

Then, I stuffed campaign literature in envelopes for JFK. Back then, it was all about mailings. After that, door to door for a Republican friend who ran for the PA State Legislature.

I voted for Barry Goldwater and then Jimmy Carter.  I don’t always pick the right one. I sent way too many telegrams to the White House protesting the Vietnam War, much to my husband’s chagrin, since he was paying for them.  I wanted to join the Civil Rights marchers, but I had two small children and a husband who traveled.  So I had to take care of my own responsibilities.

I voted for Reagan and campaigned for John Edwards. (Boy, Edwards was a monumental wrong call on my part. Huh?) I campaigned for Bernie Sanders, switched to Hillary Clinton and would have voted for Jeb Bush had he been the Republican nominee. I did not vote for either of the other Bushes. I liked Jeb after watching a town hall on C-Span where he answered the questions honestly and as they were presented to him. He didn’t bob-and-weave.

As you can see, I never voted party lines. Neither party has the monopoly on doing the right thing. Or even for what they stand for. There are good and bad, crooks even, in both parties.

So when did we start down this ugly path?  I think it was when Obama was elected. At that point, I began to see absolute hatred toward Obama that I had never seen before from people I knew. And it shocked me. I’m not talking about them disagreeing with his policies or positions. I’m talking something more than that. Racism? I don’t know.

Around that time, I joined Facebook. This is when I really began to see the ugliness.  I unfriended a number of people, not because of their views, but because I didn’t feel posting memes with Michelle Obama or the daughters with monkey faces and teeth were people I cared to be friends with. Those ugly kinds of things offended me. And then we really began going down that awful path. It seemed to be okay to go against everything our parents ever taught us and we began to let our real selves out.

And then the Republican primary.  And Trump. And this I don’t understand.  I have supported people and voted for people who I admit was a mistake. But, there appears to be a fervor among his supporters that is beyond my understanding. I wonder — is he the anti-Christ?  It all kind of fits the description, as I recall. And when I have asked why people don’t hold him accountable for his words and actions,  I am called names and accused of being a poor loser because Hillary lost. I never get an answer that isn’t full of bashing rhetoric. Trust me, I would have voted for Jeb Bush!  My heart is not bleeding for Hillary. But, I was shocked that Trump won. I don’t deny that. I just would like to know why he is given a pass. Just because he’s a Republican?  That doesn’t make enough sense to me.

Why is it okay for him to tell such bold-faced lies? All the time! Why is CNN, or NBC or CBS all fake news that is not to be believed, but Fox News is gospel? What takes it out of the “media” category? It appears to be media to me. Or maybe, it’s that it supports your opinion. What exactly do the media haters consider media?  Definition from the Dictionary: media (usually used with a plural verb) the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet, that reach or influence people widely.  I just don’t understand. And I want to.

Why do my friends post so many things about their Christianity while simultaneously condoning how he treats people?  It’s wrong to be a bully in school, but okay to be a bully as President? I was brought up to believe, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. What does it mean to be a Christian nowadays?  Is it just to spout Bible verses? Does the Golden Rule no longer apply? Does caring about humanity matter at all? What would Jesus do or say if he was walking beside you?

I was told that Born-again Christians don’t have to do good works. God doesn’t care. You can be a murderer on death row and if you choose to believe Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you go to Heaven. That’s not the kind of Bible I was taught growing up. Didn’t Jesus feed and take care of people?

Now is when I tell you I am an Agnostic.  I’ve been a Methodist, a Catholic, an Evangelical United Brethren, a United Methodist, a United Church of Christ, a Presbyterian and then I gave up. Am I going to get into Heaven?  I don’t know.  Does anyone, really?

In the meantime, I’m going to continue to do good works. And I’m going to hold a man like Donald Trump accountable for how he treats people; how abusive he is. I’m not willing to accept his rhetoric that all black, brown and every color in between are people who want to rob, kill, or rape me. I employed many of them and found them honorable, good people. I don’t live in fear of immigrants.

I have principles I’m not willing to abandon.  An extra few dollars in my paycheck over the year is not enough for me.  My price is much higher. Way higher.  What’s your price?  It is high enough?

Western Pennsylvania World War II & Steelworkers Tribute

My memories of growing up in Pittsburgh are of seeing the mills at night with the orange and yellow glow lighting up the sky along with the smoke coming out of the stacks. It always seemed otherworldly to me.

My dad was a mechanic working on all the heavy equipment.

Steel Mill, Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania earned international fame as the Steel City and for generations the steel produced here created many of America’s buildings, bridges, memorials & monuments. Steel mills and factories lined the railways and river ways of communities throughout the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania. The steelworkers soon garnered a reputation for being tough as nails with a solid blue-collar work ethic they adopted from their immigrant parents from countries around the world. The daily life of a steelworker involved the constant banging thunderous explosions of steel on steel, fumigating smoke & dust, overhead cranes & chains, searing temperatures from molten steel & pulverizing flames & flashes that could blind a man. The city became a melting pot of people from all over the world seeking the freedoms denied in their homeland. The mills provided them the  opportunity to make a better life for their families and…

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My Heart Cries for Houston

So, all this heartache happening in the Houston area has been occupying my thoughts this past week.  I just can’t imagine being in that situation.  To that extent as well.

Like you, I’ve been keeping up with the news and find that sometimes when the newscaster is talking to the people who’ve had to be rescued, I find tears finding their way down my cheeks. So sad. So many people who’ve lost everything.

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Eventhough I’ve never been in that situation, I can certainly feel for those people. Unlike our great leader who is still talking about the crowd size. I did see G.W. Bush talking to some athletes and how I wish he was still our President.  He had heart.  He was a good person. I miss him.  I never voted for him, but he was real. I should have appreciated him more when he was President.

I’ve been reading a lot about it too.  A good bit of it on Facebook.  You know that major news source for many people.  And I have to say many of the comments make me sick. Too many of us have become ugly. Not everyone. Not by a long shot. I’ve been seeing and reading about many heroes. But I can’t help but wonder what the mothers of the ugly ones would say.

This flood is not a black and white issue.  It’s a human issue. And it’s a government issue.  Development should not be approved in areas that should be left vacant.  You see this all over the place, not just in Houston. I saw it the last time I was in Southern California.  They were in a terrible drought, but what used to be scrub brush on hills, were now houses and land being leveled for more houses. And it happens in coastal North Carolina.  The sand keeps disappearing with bad storms and people who’ve built right on the water start carrying on that their house is in danger of falling apart. Too bad, I say.  Shoulda had more sense.  If you were smart enough to earn enough money to build or buy that house, you should have had enough sense to know one day it would get knocked over. Locals know not to be on the first row.  Be on the second or third row.

Quite a number of years ago, my homeowners insurance increased rather considerably from one year to the next. I hadn’t had any claims, so it stymied me.  I decided to call my agent to inquire why this was so.  I was told that the homeowners on the coast had such high insurance liability that the Insurance Commissioner from this great state of NC ruled that the costs would be equalized over the entire state.  Say what? WTF??  I had to pay higher insurance premiums because someone from New Jersey built a 10 bedroom, 8 bath house right on the water to rent out to tourists and I was supplementing that house? The premium has never come back down so I guess I’m still supplementing.

So I blame our planning commissions and city and county governments for approving development where it shouldn’t be. It seems many feel inclined to blame the Mayor of Houston.  But I’m not sure he should be blamed.  He did tell people if they didn’t evacuate, they should write their names and Social Security numbers on their arms with permanent marker so they could be identified later. And no one expected rainfall and storm surge like that.

And you shouldn’t blame the people who are poor and had no resources to go anywhere.  If you live paycheck to paycheck or welfare payment to welfare payment, you don’t have the financial wherewithal to go to a hotel. You take your chances and hope for the best.  I read this was a 1 in 1000 year rain. Who would have ever expected 50+ inches of rain? I’m 65 inches tall.  That’s just 15 inches more. I measured my head … I really did and it was 11 inches.  Only my head would be out of the water … just barely!

I hope our esteemed leader gives up on his idea of the stupid wall.  Spend it on some needed infrastructure. Maybe visit the Netherlands and see how they keep the North Sea out of their country. But I heard on the news this morning that contracts have been put out for prototypes of walls.  Someone needs to tell him that around San Diego and Arizona, they tunnel under the wall and come out on the U.S. side in a building.  I used to have hope that Congress would have some balls to do what’s right, but I’ve given up on hoping that.  It ain’t gonna happen. And let’s reconsider that climate change just might have played a part in all the weather events we’ve had around the world recently.  What can it hurt? It’s either that or God is really pissed. He’s not liking what He’s seeing, I’m sure.  All this hate.

Maybe tax reform that Trump proposed will be that we all pay more taxes and stop driving $60,000 vehicles.  Wearing $200 sneakers.  Don’t need those $1500 high heels. You know the ones with the red soles.  But I’m thinking those reforms are going to make it better for the people who just want to accummulate more wealth.  I’m worth more than you … see, Forbes says so.  We desperately need help in getting our priorities straight. We’re really screwed up. We want everything, but don’t want to pay for it.  Well, we don’t mind paying for our wants, we don’t want to pay for our needs.  And we certainly don’t want to pay for someone else’s need.  Like I don’t intend to get sick and don’t want to have to buy insurance because somebody else might get sick.  It’s not fair!  Why should I pay taxes for schools?  I don’t have anyone in school. Get my drift?

So we don’t want to pay higher taxes.  I get it.  But we keep having these weather related disasters,  which climate change is NOT causing.  <wink>  But how much will it cost us in tax dollars for Houston and the surrounding areas? And now it looks like another hurricane may potentially hit us again.  What do you think the answer is? Should we be going the Ark route?



An Open Letter to Rev. Franklin Graham from a “Small Church” Pastor

Exactly what I believe.

Peter's Outer Cape Portico

Dear Frank

Can I call you Frank? This is just pastor to pastor. Feel free to call me Peter. Anyway, I have to say I was flattered when I learned that your Decision America Tour took a detour off the beaten path to call upon us “small community churches.” We are nothing if not small. We seat 30-40 on a good Sunday. And we are a century old fixture of our small community. Most often we are overlooked and overshadowed by mega-churches and politically influential religious voices like your own. We don’t hold a candle to an auditorium filled with the music of a one hundred voice choir led by professional musicians. We probably will never be recognized in any nationally syndicated media. After all, we don’t do anything really “newsworthy.” We just preach the good news of Jesus Christ; love one another the best we can (which sometimes isn’t…

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Three Gorges Dam … and then some

Goodbye Wuhan……Hello Three Gorges. As we were departing Wuhan and heading down the Yangtze, we happened to look out and see … what else?  A Walmart!0814162253 (640x623)

That’s some kind of cruise ship that we are passing.  We saw a number of them in different areas. Notice the high rises.  It’s quite common to see these all over the place.  The cities seem to build up, not out.

But, we did find little towns along the river that just appeared.  0815160137a (640x480)

We were told that a building boom occurred via corrupt officials and contractors that resulted in many buildings never being utilized.  Ghost towns.  I don’t know if this was one of them, but it sure looked ghostly to me.  And yes, the water color is accurate.  It was brown, for sure.

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I don’t have anything to say about this.  I just liked it.

Eventually, we arrived at the dam.  You couldn’t go on or into the dam.  You had to view it from above. To get up there, you had to climb a 1,000,000 stairs.  Well, there were landings after every 100,000. Okay, so I exaggerated — there were only 900,000. Here’s what it looked like from the top.0815160405 (640x480)

I know my civil engineer brother John will be very chagrined with me if he reads this, but it didn’t impress me much.  I know it’s an engineering marvel, but when’s lunch? I don’t know what I expected, but this wasn’t it. It was really big, though.0815160411 (640x480)

The worse part, our trusty guide, Jonathon told us it would be an easy 5 minute walk down to the buses.  A walk in the park he said. Well, we did walk through a park. It was a walk from hell. We all learned then that he lied.  We never believed him after that when he would tell us about short walks, etc. It was hot, we were sweaty and we all just plodded along, putting one foot in front of the other. Did I mention the Chinese all had these pretty little umbrellas to protect them from the sun?  You had to be really careful around them or you’d lose an eye. I wanted one, but never had an opportunity to get one. Not the pretty ones they walked around with. And they all had Chinese fans.  I brought one back for my granddaughter, but I don’t think it was much of a hit. Remember when we had those growing up?

The next day, we had an excursion to go on sampan boats into the Lesser Three Gorges below this dam. Some of the most beautiful scenery occurred here.  The Ba people used to hang their coffins on the hills a thousand years ago.   The villages and farms along here were abandoned and the people relocated when they built the dam.  I must confess at this point, I didn’t go on this excursion.  Boats aren’t my favorite thing.  AND — Jonathon said we would not have the ability to go to the bathroom for the hour and a half trip.  That did it for me.  Count me out! I didn’t want to get motion sick and have to pee all at the same time. No sirree, Bob. Jim went but he didn’t see any of the hanging coffins. And he said the boat would not have made me sick. I still would have had to pee.

The bus took us back to the ship and off we went on our way to Shibaozhai where we would see  and visit the Shibaozhai Temple.  It was built in 1819, without the use of nails, I was told.

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When we arrived those steps were filled with people washing their clothing in the river.  I’m not sure how clean they could get them in that brown water, but they were washing, nonetheless. We had to walk off the wharf, up 50 or so steps, up a hill, through a village and then cross a suspension bridge to get to the temple. Confession time again … I didn’t go. I stayed on the boat and talked to the other wimps, of which there were four. Jim walked up and through the village but didn’t go all the way to the bridge. It was really hot and his legs were bothering him. My feet yelled “uncle” days before. I looked at all those steps and that hill and it was all she wrote.  Not to mention suspension bridges.  Aren’t those the things that sway and you can see through them?  Yep, that was the case!

Jim got pretty done in by his day and ended up falling asleep kinda early.  I was sitting on the balcony reading in my pjs while we sailed along.  I could see something blue off in the distance. I couldn’t figure out what it was, but it looked like it might be interesting so I kept my eye on it.  As we got closer, I realized it might pass by on the other side of the boat and I might miss it.  So, I decided to head up to the observation deck where I could see better.  Most nights it was pretty quiet up in the lounge so I just kept my pjs on.  Who would see me, really?  Well, it was our last night onboard and I forgot its always a big deal.  I walked into the lounge to get out on the deck and the place was packed, what with people doing the Macarena and such.  I pretended like I was invisible and went out on the deck.  What a marvelous sight!

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It was a bridge!  And the suspension sections kept changing. I loved it! On the one bank was a city with skyscraper after skyscraper.  On the other, it appeared to be a hotel or resort complex.  As we passed under it, people on the bridge were yelling down, “Hello.”  We were yelling back.  By this time, everyone from inside the boat had come out.  I took that opportunity to slink back to my room. What the heck — I’ll never see these people again.

Tomorrow, we get off the ship at Chongqing (chongching is how it’s pronounced.)


On to Wuhan …

Right, I never heard of it either. It’s the gateway to the Yangtze River Gorges.  We flew out of Shanghai and were told that any flight within three hours of the scheduled flight time was considered on time.  I believe we waited an extra hour to board.  I guess pretty good by Chinese standards. Did I say, “I hate waiting?”  Well, I do.

We were given box lunches to eat while we were waiting to fly out.  We all started digging in when I discovered all my sandwich halves had mayo on them.  Did I mention I hate mayo?  I really didn’t know Chinese people ate mayo.  I thought it was an English thing. So I threw them away and made Jim promise if they gave us peanuts on the flight, he’d give me his.

It was a pleasant enough flight and they actually served lunch, so I arrived well fed. But, I was tired and cranky –mayo on sandwiches does that to me. We boarded our buses and were told it would be about 45 minutes into town.  Wow!  Such a lot of construction going on.  Since our boat wasn’t going to be ready, we were going to stop at a museum. I like museums. I really couldn’t tell you much about this museum because all-in-all, we saw so many museums they all ran together.

The one thing about this one was the entertainment.  They had a little ensemble of retired people who performed Chinese music for us.  Delightful!  There were three men who played something called a 2-string violin. This instrument sat between their legs like a cello and only had the 2 strings — hence the name. The man that sat in the very front — I guess he was the first chair — was very animated and clearly loved performing.  The man behind him and to his right never even smiled. I enjoyed the women who played things I can’t identify. They finished with Auld Lang Syne. We stood and cheered.  It was one of my favorite moments of the trip.  I wish I had taken a picture.

We boarded our ship and while dining, started our journey down the Yangtze River. The next day, we took an excursion to an elementary school in Yueyang. This was another of my favorite things. As we walked onto the school grounds, two lines of students were lined up saying, “Welcome to our school.”  They put on performances for us and then we went into individual classrooms for discussion with the teachers.  Since this was summer break, so only the students who lived nearby were the ones in attendance for us. Can you imagine this happening in the U.S?0813162137 (640x480)0813162143a


This was a 6th grade math class.  There were 75 students in the class; 41 of them boys.

If you notice, some of the students had red ties.  These are the exemplary students.  They achieve high scores and are designated as good citizens.  There are four levels they need to achieve during their schooling years.  If they achieve the 4th level, they can become Party members, which affords them all the perks of being such. They get the best university opportunies, jobs, etc. Our guide was not a party member.  Most of China’s citizens aren’t.

Prior to making this trip, I knew we would be visiting a school, so I went to the dollar store and bought pencils and such to give out. All were made in China!  Of course. I gave them out anyway because so many of the students are poor at this school.  Viking River Crusies sponsors this school — actually they sponsor three of them in China.

Back on the ship and heading 150 miles to the Three Gorges Dam.  I’ll fill you in on the next post.  Stay tuned!