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Oh Great Gaint Dumpling, I Bow Before Thee

Hi yes, hello, it’s me, most annoying sporadic blogger ever. It’s the end of the big National Holiday Week here, G and M have gone back to work and school respectively, and I am left to my own devices. I should be cleaning the house or grocery shopping or some other useful thing I suppose…



Anywho, one day this week we decided to go out for lunch and have some dumplings at a place called Din Tai Fung, which many of you may already know because it’s a Taiwanese-based chain that has several global locations, including about 7 here in Shanghai. They have fabooluss xiaolongbao, the delicious little parcels of yumminess I was so looking forward to stuffing myself with upon arrival in Shanghai that they were part of the inspiration for the name of this blog. (Yes, this blog, the one I hardly ever write in, I know, I know.)

Well, we trekked over to the branch closest to our house, which happens to be in the Shanghai World Financial Center, known locally at The Bottle Opener. See if you can figure out why:

So we go over and have our lovely lunch, and as we are leaving the building, I spot this in the atrium:

Giant Dumpling! Be still my heart. So of course I need a photo of this. I pull out my camera and take a snapshot, then realise I’ve got the settings all wrong on the exposure, so I start fiddling with it so I can take another pic. But before I can so that, a security guy comes rushing over shouting “No! No photo, no!” and waving frantically at me to put my camera away. Clearly, photographing the Giant Dumpling is some sort of security risk. Or perhaps I am stealing a part of its soul, or bringing shame upon my ancestors, or something.

“Why don’t you write in your blog anymore?”

Oh my poor poor neglected bloggy. I really have been so very remiss, it’s true.

So what have I been doing, then?

Well here’s the thing that has been taking up most of the time and energy that I should otherwise have been at least in part spending here:  I have been working very hard, along with four other dedicated expat mothers, on a website for parents here called Shanghai Mamas. Have a look at Some of the site you won’t be able to see, because you have to be a member to visit the ‘private’, password protected areas, but there are other ‘public’ areas you will be able to see. What do I do there? Oh, lots of stuff. I am unofficially the official “content editor” for the site, which mostly means I write articles, cajole other people into writing articles, edit other people’s articles, beg people to keep blogs on the site, come up with competitions and wheedle prizes out of sponsors, compose daily summaries of  activity on the site to email out as a daily digest to our members, and so on and so forth and all the rest. It’s good, it’s fun, I feel really productive and I’m happy to be part of creating something that is valuable to so many people. But it has been sapping my energy away from stuff like writing here.

However, things on the website are up and running and ticking over nicely and all that, so I can hopefully pull back slightly and try to, like, be here more. So stay tuned, I do have lots of things I’d like to write about, so many things have happened that really do bear telling you about – school trips, holiday celebrations, everyday weirdness…

Can’t argue with that

Well no, it isn't, is it.


Huge illuminated billboard for a local restaurant. Because nothing’s more appetizing than a giant dildo. With sauce. Right?

(Apologies to anyone offended by my use of the word ‘dildo’. But you know it’s true.)

The Giving of Thanks

Whew. It’s been an age again since I posted, hasn’t it? Sorry about that. Feels like I’ve been rushed of my feet lately, except for the days I’ve been knocked out. I think I posted a couple weeks ago about a a cold I was having a hard time shaking. Was taking some strong decongestant-y stuff for that, which made me feel very fuzzy and out of it for a while – couldn’t focus on anything, felt like my head was stuffed with wool, etc. And it didn’t even do any good; turned into a sinus infection, which by the time I got to the doctor I could tell was migrating south to lodge in my chest (which is what always f’ing happens with me). All clearing up now but it’s slowed me down. except for those days where, as I said, I’ve been rushing around like mad. Oh and I have a job now, of sorts. More on that another time.

Today though of course is Thanksgiving, so that means I ought to quit bitching now about having been unwell and instead reflect upon how very lucky I am to have access to good quality medical care, and to be able to take time to get a bit of extra rest without much consequence. To be honored that I have an amazing husband whose skill, intelligence and hard work has enabled us to continue on this incredible adventure. To be in awe of this small, mad, wonderful little person who entered our lives five years ago as a tiny kidney bean on a hospital monitor and who continues to teach me more and more every day about who I want to be when I grow up. To be grateful beyond words for my family, scattered to the wind though we may be, who have always believed in who I have always been. To marvel at the tight web of friends-as-family I have somehow managed to weave around myself on three continents. I give you all my thanks, and all my love.

Does my bum look big in this?

What do you think of the new look?

I’ll need to go back at some point and edit a few things, as some photos from older entries don’t fit so well into this new theme sizewise, but hopefully having a sidebar with searchable archives will make it easier for you to find stuff I wrote before, um, now. Assuming you want to.

Still have a whole mess of things I need to write about but it’s been such a busy week and wekend and I am (STILL) not feeling especially well, I think I have some low-level virus hanging about keeping me feeling like I am functioning on a low-speed setting and tired all the time. So I am going to bed.

I’ll leave you to ponder this sign I spotted the other day in WalMart:

Time keeps on slipping slipping slipping into the future

Gah! So much is happening, so much I am trying to write about, but I cant write about it because it’s happening and I have to live it. Which is good. But bad. Anyway, I hope to get some time later to write about M’s class field trip on Tuesday to the Potato Digging Forced Labour Camp, but right now we have to go get flu shots (FUN!) so in the meantime, please enjoy another photo of a really cute puppy.

A funny thing happened on the way home from the fabric market

or, How I went to buy drapes and ended up with a dog.

or, Anyone want a puppy?

This puppy, specifically:

Love me.

Honestly there was a bunch of other stuff I was going to write about today as it was a rather busy weekend and lots of things happened, but now I’m a little preoccupied with this little wriggly fluffball (who is presently lounging across my chest as I am trying to type this.) Oh and if I haven’t mentioned it yet, anyone want a puppy?

OK so what happened was this: I had to go out to the big bedsheety curtainy market thing again, this time to pick up curtains I’d ordered for M’s room.  I go, get those, pick up a couple of accent cushions for the sofa while I’m at it, etc etc. Now I’ve got two big bags of stuff, plus also my laptop bag, and I make my way out of the giant building, through the giant clusterf*ck of a walkway/parking lot/general stand-around-and-scratch-yourself zone out in front of it, over to the side of the road to try and get a taxi to haul me and all my hen duo dongxi home.

Suddenly in the road right in front of me there’s all manner of screeching and horns blowing and yelling and scooters swerving wildy, and this little dog comes darting through the traffic. I mean, if you could see this road, it’s totally amazing that he made it across alive and unharmed. (Cao’An Highway, for those of you who might know it.) It’s like eight lanes of cars, trucks, and buses, and massively busy bike lanes on either side. So the dog darts past me, into the giant clusterf*ck zone, and stops running, but is sort of, like, looking all around, kind of spinning, trying to figure out which way to go next, I suppose. He starts back towards the road a few times, and some of the random men standing around, to their credit, stop him – but, the way they stop him is by kicking him. Not kicking him sharply, but by getting a foot under his belly, lifting him up and sending him flying several feet, and laughing. And I’m still trying to flag down a taxi, but no luck. Finally the dog comes sort of near to me and flops down, looking really exhausted, and just stares at me, like “pllllllllleeeeeeaaaaaaase laaaayydeeee.” Another of the random men standing around decided to amuse himself by throwing pumpkin seeds at him. Nice, right? I fixed the guy with my best ‘death glare’, but he was having too much fun throwing pumpkin seeds at a puppy to notice. Not that he’d have even cared if he had, I imagine.

And at that moment, a cab pulled up. So what was I supposed to do? I threw my stuff in the trunk of the taxi, scooped up the dog, and we were off.

Gave him a good look-over in the car and although he was a bit grubby, he seems to be in pretty good health and good shape. I mean, I am of course not a vet, but have shared my life with many dogs, so I can identify your basic fleas, ear mites, skin conditions, etc etc. Gave him a good bath when I got home – which I believe I can safely say, was not his favourite thing ever – and Ayi Xiao went out and found a bag of puppy chow at a local shop. He ate some but not a huge amount, didn’t seem to be starving. Has been good at ‘doing his business’ outside and not in the house so far; and he’s had a good solid poo, which bodes well (i.e., is not full of worms).

But, we cannot keep him. As G put it, “A new puppy isn’t exactly THE last thing I need in my life right now… but it’s pretty far down there in the list.” He’s very sweet and it’s a good bit of fun having him here for a bit, but he needs a proper home. SOON.

So, anyone want a puppy?

No fair

I just want to go on record as saying, I feel it is completely unreasonable that I should have to get struck down with a shitty head cold mere days after finally kicking the insidious food poisoning stomach yuck that has plagued me for the better part of the past two weeks.

Looks like another day to sit on the couch drinking cups of tea. Except today Xiao is not her to make the tea for me. Waaah, waaah. Welcome to my pity party!

They did the mash

When I was back in the US recently, many people asked me whether Halloween/Christmas/Easter etc is observed in any form here. The answer is yes… sorta… in a way… If you’ve been a somewhat regular reader of this blog, then you might recall my Christmas entry from earlier this year.

The way I’ve taken to describing the way Western holidays unfold in China is, it’s sort of like this: Imagine a ship full of space aliens landed in the middle of America on Christmas Eve. And they looked around, made some observations, but didn’t actually try to find out why people were doing the things they were doing, wearing the things they were wearing, eating the things they were eating, etc. Then they went back to their home planet, and tried to recreate what they’d seen based on what the remembered of what they’d seen. It’s pretty much exactly like that – all surface, no depth.

Halloween of course is a fairly superficial holiday anyway, so no biggie there. I mean I know it’s got ancient pagan roots and all that and that of course there are things to “know” about it, but let’s face it, for most of us it’s pretty much kids hopped up on costumes and candy. So they do fairly well at Halloween, if they can be bothered to do it; which is to say, in the ‘local’ areas not much happens, but in the more expat-heavy zones, there are decorations and parties.

Our housing compound did organise a party and trick-or-treating for kids, but as it happened we were invited to another party coordinated by some other expat parents, so this year we didn’t get the full-on Chinese Halloween experience. Which is OK – my recent bout of food poisoning was pretty much enough of a full-on Chinese experience for this week, so I’m good.