Moon in the night sky of Beijing today

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The lunar calendar already waves goodbye to the summer. But these days we find summer still lingering around, the air pretty hot and dust dancing in the mist making the sky grayish. The yellow moon I shot just now reminds me a lot of an album by Coldplay, Parachutes, in which the counterpart I guess is a yellow globe.

The moon is always mysterious and magical, and sometimes I can’t help thinking she, the moon, is signalling something to us human beings in a language we have absolutely no idea.

And one coincidence I found and wonder about is the moon appears to be in the same size and shape of coz with the sun. Is it a mere coincidence or it is a trick played by the Creator who could intend us humans take the moon as the sun in the evening? Maybe this is just some lunatic silly thought.

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Alter of Heaven

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This is the full view of the Alter of Heaven, a place where the emperors of China used to make sacrifice to heaven. I got this from the back of the alter, so not many tourists blocking sight. Of course, seeing is not enough. You have to be there to experience its scale, especially the square on which the whole temple was built.

One pity is the sky looked grayish. But it is really becoming harder to have a blue sky in Beijing nowadays, not to mention clear air.

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This is a closer look of the alter. The exquisite style is quite characteristic of the buildings in Qing Dynasty. To get a look at the inside is almost impossible, not only because access is not allowed, but also because of too many tourists blocking you away from the door narrowly open on the other side. I wish next time I could come at 6 a.m. when others are still in bed!

Japanese soba noodle

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Japanese soba noodle

My wife and I had this exotic food this evening to celebrate Chinese Valentine’s Day, which is the seventh day of July.
Soba is made of buckwheat. It is usually served cold and with soya sauce. Remember to bath the noodle in the bowl of soya before you have it. Otherwise the taste would be bland. On the whole, soba noodle is refreshing and cools you down in the summer. However, Japanese have the custom to have soba the night before New Year’s Day. And at that time they also ring the bell in temples if possible. I regretted that the dish was not as good as that I had last time, though it looked as attractive!

A Prelude to Chinese Valentine’s Day

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Wednesday is the day that should be celebrated. It marks the end of half the journey, only two days to go for the beloved weekend. But I feel like weekends are overrated these days. Anyway, I always like Wednesday and have a sense of relief when it finally comes.

Today is no exception. However, with two more reasons, today deserves more to be written down.

This noon, after I went back from yoga class ( Thanks to my humane company, I can attend yoga class during business hours, hooray!) , lengthy lunch and a little bit walk around the office building, a colleague came to my desk holding some paper in hand.

“Hey, my parents brought some consvenor momordica fruits from hometown. I put them in the mini-kitchen. Please feel free to grab some.”

(In case anyone that doesn’t know what consvenor momordica fruit is, here is the link of what it looks like)

“Sweet, thank you.”

Then she handed me one piece of the paper.

“What’s this? Wait, you print out the introduction and function?”

“Yeah, many people don’t seem to know how to eat it, so I prepared a brief introduction.”

Free fruits to sample and someone considerate enough to google this and print out for you. This is really sweet, isn’t it?

Speaking of “sweet”, this brings out the next thing I want to talk about. Guess what that is? Watch out, tomorrow will be Chinese Valentine’s Day!

Unlike its western counterpart, Chinese Valentine’s Day is counted with lunar calendar, which means each year it falls upon a different day. This year, the day will be August 23. There are many folktales concerning the day and here is the most famous and celebrated one.

Years and years ago, there was a hard-working young man called “Ox Man” (niu lang, I know the translation seems strange, but please bear with me:P). He lived on farming and he was single. One day, the Heaven God’s (yu di, who is the most powerful god in the heaven) seven beautiful daughters came to play on earth. The youngest one was called “Weave Girl” (zhi nv, a peculiar name for a girl, isn’t it?) and she caught a glimpse of our Ox Man. They fell in love at the first sight. The brave then decided to stay with the boy and didn’t return to the heaven with her sisters.

In the first few years, they lived happily like a fairy tale. Every day, Ox Man would go farming and our girl would stay at home cleaning, cooking and waiting for her man to back home. They also had two children, a girl and a boy. However, it’s not a happily-ever-after story. You should know that the inter-marriage between an ordinary person and a fairy is not allowed. The evil mother of the girl found out and was extremely furious at them. She sent out a regimen of soldiers and forced the girl to back to the heaven. Ox Man didn’t want to give up. Carrying his two children, he ran after the soldiers and pleaded the mother in the hope of winning back Weave Girl. However the mother was hard-hearted and couldn’t be assuaged. In the end, she took out her hairpin and scratched a wide river in the sky to separate the two lovers. And thus how Milky Way (known as Silver River in Chinese culture) came into being.

Sadly, Ox Man sat on one side of the river while Weave Girl on the other. And they wept, a lot. Finally, magpies took pity on them and once in a year, they would fly up to heaven and build a bridge for the two lovers to meet. And the day is July 7th, according to Chinese lunar calendar.

Since then, the day has been celebrated as Valentine’s Day in China.

As the first Valentine’s Day after our marriage, what kind of surprise Frank is preparing for me? What presents will I buy for him?

Well, that’s a secret I’ll never tell.
Until tomorrow 🙂

PS: For anyone interested to know Chinese Valentine’s Day more, please refer to the following link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qixi_Festival

The version of the story might differ in details but you won’t mind, do you? This is what I was told when I was a kid.

Below is the photo of the fruit and the introduction page, sweet, sweet:

The twilight in Gotland – Breakfast Poetry

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As the sun rises slowly in the morning, we keep our pace with the sun.

No rushing to work.

Because as you rush, your spirit may get lost.

Instead, sit down, read a poem and awaken your spirit.

Instead of breakfast tea, we have a cup of breakfast poetry.

The Twilight of Gotland 

(Written by Lan Lan <a Chinese poet>,

Translated by Beijinghome)

                                                                                                    哥特兰岛的黄昏

蓝蓝  作

Beijinghome  译

” Ah! Everything is so perfect!”

“啊!一切都完美无缺!”

I sat on the grass, the bitterness like the flood around my feet

我在草地坐下,辛酸如脚下的潮水

Pouring into my eyes.

涌进眼眶。

Older waves were afar, younger ones nearby.

远处是年迈的波浪,近处是年轻的波浪。

Seagulls perched on a reef alike

海鸥站在礁石上就像

a church’s roof tip.

脚下是教堂的尖顶。

When they faded away in the twilight, stars loomed

当它们在暮色里消失,星星便出现在

Over our heads.

我们的头顶。

No. There was nothing missing.

什么都不缺:

Breeze, grass, sunset, and the sea.

微风,草地,夕阳和大海。

There was nothing missing.

什么都不缺:

Peace, affluence, tranquility, and the church’s evening bell.

和平与富足,宁静和教堂的晚钟。

Perfection is rejection. I was shocked at the view

“完美”即是拒绝。当我震惊于

Without parents, children, and relatives,

没有父母、孩子和亲人

And no chaotic streets in my neighborhood.

没有往常我家楼下杂乱的街道

— The soiled happiness

在身边——这样不洁的幸福

Enlarged the shade of my eyes…

扩大了我视力的阴影……

It seemed like an unintentional insult

仿佛是无意的羞辱——

For you, you hard, rounded sun setting into Baltic Sea

对于你,波罗的海圆满而坚硬的落日

I was an outsider, one from China,

我是个外人,一个来自中国

A stranger with a blue heart.

内心阴郁的陌生人。

The twilight in Gotland turned everything into a nightmare.

哥特兰的黄昏把一切都变成噩梦。

Yes. There is no view colder than this.

是的,没有比这更寒冷的风景。

A Book about Time

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The narrative is in chronological order, which is really reader-friendly. Unlike some other books that set up traps where readers easily get lost, One Day is so friendly that which page the reader turns into, he/she can quickly grasp what’s going on.

Even more, all chapters start with the St. Swithun Day. Different years, same day. What’s more chronological than that?

However, one fallout for this narrative is lengthiness. Sometimes, it’s too trivial, too nagging, that you just want to skip and move on.

Of course, overall, the books is quite enjoyable.
As the book spans from the late 1980s to the 1st decade of 21st century, you can clearly spot trends in people’s daily life. For instance, at that time, cell phone was yet to be popular. Not until in the middle part of the book did we have a first glimpse of its existence. It’s interesting to see how people changed their way of connecting with each other. Kudos to the development of technology.

What resonates with me most is the confusion young graduates feel when fresh out of college. This seems universal, across times and countries. Some heedlessly try to find their own place, some resort to travelling. One way or another, you will gradually land and live… Here I use “live”, because it may not be what you expect life to turn out but you will feel contented and know life is worth living.

Fancy as TV presenter may sound, Dexter ends up opening a cafe and only at that time, he finally turns up all right to people around him. Living on writing? Quite unimaginable. However, Emma made it. There are dark moments when she worked at a local restaurant, taught a bunch of kids, played in a nameless theater, but perseverance kept her going. And she made it. Her books, which may be not as deep as she wished, were best-sellers and was franchised. Truly, you never know what life prepares for you. Just wait and see.