Joan, Petra and Mother’s Day

Petra, who lives in China, is five. She is beginning to read, write and learn her phonetics. With that in mind, see the following message Gramma Joan received from Petra today together with photo of herself to punctuate the point:

Happy. Mother s. Day

I. Love. You Vae. Mah
You ar. Mie. Vavrite
You. Love. Me. And. I. Love. You
Love Petra

unnamed

 

Petra’s message made Joan’s heart swell.

RGK

*Children, when they are not worrying you to death, are OK. Grandchildren are a joy!

会说话的鹦鹉–talking parrot

Petra loves the talking parrot that is on the way to Wa-Mar (Walmart) in Shekou. He makes money for his master by saying,

nihao_hello-chinese-character1

That means “hello” in Mandarin. Then, the customer pays the master, and the customer may feed the parrot from seeds made available for that purpose.

China is a wonderous place for a little white girl with a heart of gold and silver slippers.

IMG_0457RGK

 

 

Children and chickens

As you know, my daughter Lisa, and her husband Karel, have just had their third child, Zora. Petra, their oldest child (5), has some understanding that Zora came from her mother’s tummy. Milan (3) is pretty clueless.

A few weeks before Lisa was scheduled to give birth, Karel returned to his teaching duties. Among other things, he teaches biology. He decided that it would be a good learning experience for his students to incubate live chicken eggs, and watch the tiny little beings emerge from their individual eggs. Petra and Milan frequently went with Karel to school during the weekends to make sure the chicks were maturing properly in the eggs. They adjusted the incubator temperature and that sort of thing.

During this time, Zora came into the world and she is now home. Petra and Milan love to hold her. Coincidentally, the chicks hatched this week. Below, see the photo of Milan and Petra reacting to the brood of chicks that have made their startling appearance in Karel’s lab. Notice Milan’s facial expression.

photo (1)

Now, go back in time with me to 1980. My first wife, Verdella, is not feeling well and she has gained a little weight. Because she is tall, a bit of extra weight is not apparent on her long frame. Verdella goes to see the local doctor. He makes a referral to an OB/GYN in Lincoln because “your uterus just doesn’t feel right.”

Verdella decides to take Marne (about 8) and Lisa (about 5) with her to see the OB/GYN in Lincoln. After the visit, the three of them will do something fun in the big city. When they arrive at the doctor’s office, the children, who are all dressed up, sit quietly in the waiting room paging through books for children as Verdella sees the doctor. An ultrasound quickly shows why Verdella is not feeling well and has gained a little weight. She is pregnant with our son Keller.

Verdella is stunned and surprised. We had no plans to have a third child. Collecting herself, she walks into the waiting room and sits down with the children. The shock shows on her face. Marne asks her mom what is wrong. Verdella says she is “pregnant.” Marne asks Verdella to tell her what “pregnant” means. Verdella patiently explains and includes a passing reference to the “egg.” Lisa is silent. Both children seem perfectly satisfied with Verdella’s explanation and off everyone goes to the car.

As they are walking to the car, little Lisa asks Marne: “Is Mom going to have a chicken?” Marne looks down, and sternly informs Lisa, “If Mom has a chicken, we’ll love it anyway.” At that point, Verdella burst out laughing and crying at the same time.

Some things are more important than others.

RGK

A “Rich” life

We all suffer travails. On balance, however, most of us, me especially, have rich lives.

My life is rich in intellectual stimulation. For example, Professor Akhil Reed Amar recently delivered the Chautauqua Institution’s 10th annual Robert H. Jackson Lecture on the Supreme Court of the United States.  The lecture, entitled “Robert Jackson and the Judicialization of the Judiciary,” was fascinating, insightful and a crowd-pleaser. You can watch it all here on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OR0IFnKWHA&list=PLZQsNvvrHNbT1c5AGYRdedEKTG5qjamvx. It is lectures like this that make my life especially rich in the world of ideas.

Then there is the joy of family like Petra traveling to Hong Kong with her mother to see the doctor and learn how the yet to be born baby is doing and proudly filling out her own her own travel papers before she boarded the ferry between the PRC and Hong Kong.

Petra filled out her own papers before boarding the ferry. She prints in big block letters much like her goofy grampa.

Petra filled out her own papers before boarding the ferry. She prints in big block letters much like her goofy grampa.

Petra and dolly on the ferry to Hong Kong

Petra and dolly on the ferry to Hong Kong.

Petra in the alleyway shops in Hong Kong

Petra in the packed and bustling alleyway shops in Hong Kong.

That’s it. There is no more, but that’s plenty.

RGK (Rich)

“Slippery” Noodles

I love China.

Joan, my wife, was born in Shanghai which is now the largest city by population in the world. Her mother and father had met and married in China during WWII. John was an officer in the Army Air Corps and Florence was a secretary for the State Department. After the war ended, they remained in China and John imported goods from America. Of course, they left when Chairman Mao and the gang came to town.

In the early 1990s, Joan and I traveled to Shanghai. We hired a very experienced guide who spoke English as if she had been born here. She was open about the fact that she had polished her English while in the Chinese Army monitoring American military traffic.

We had a wonderful time, and may have found Joan’s home in the old French Quarter. We parked the car near where the guide thought the home might have been and got out and spread a large old map on the hood of the car.

We soon drew a crowd of friendly Chinese. There were several old people who gave various opinions about whether we had found the home. If we did find the home, it had changed dramatically. It was now a multi-family dwelling that stretched to the street. The front gardens of Joan’s time were gone.

This silk piece hangs in our living room in Nebraska.  It came from Joan's home in the French Quarters of Shanghai around 1947.

This silk piece hangs in our living room in Lincoln, Nebraska. It came from Joan’s home in the French Quarter of Shanghai circa 1946-1949.

Daughter Lisa and her family live in China (Shekou) across the bay from Hong Kong. Lisa and Karel are teachers. Petra, who was born in a Chinese hospital in Guangzhou (formerly Canton), has “her” ayi (阿姨 – āyí) (“aunt” in Chinese) who she loves dearly. This very nice woman (we have “met” her on Skype numerous times), who speaks no English, looks after the kids when Karel and Lisa are gone. As a result, and even though she is not yet five, Petra is picking up Mandarin and a lot of Chinese culture to boot. (Ayi’s grandaughter and Petra are good friends.)

Recently the family went out for dinner at a tiny street cafe near their home. Petra ordered the meal in Chinese for each of the family members. Petra ordered the “slippery”* noodles that she so loves for herself and consumed the meal using chop sticks with no problem. “Slurping” is mandatory.

noodles.

I hope Lisa, Karel and the grandchildren stay in China. There is so much there to learn and the people are wonderful. The “slippery” noodles are good too.

RGK

*“The Chinese like their noodles long and slippery, the better to slurp down noisily.”  The Cook’s Thesarus: Asian (last accessed July 20, 2014).

%d bloggers like this: