photography

Chong Chong at 15 Months

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Fool on a Chair

I’ve been to many Chinese weddings (or, as we call them here, “weddings”) during my time in the Middle Kingdom. These days, I’m usually the only foreigner in attendance. So, well, if I’m going to stand-out anyway…

There’s something akin to “trick or treat” that one can play with the bride and groom as they make their rounds after the wedding ceremony. And, in the tradition of the Monkey King, I usually opt for the trick.

That is, to stand on a chair and have the bride light a cigarette. This results in the groom lifting her up. Sometimes the cigarette accidentally moves out her reach. Well, okay,  not really accidentally. In any event, depending on how the groom is doing, I’ll eventually stand still and even bend my knees.

So, there you have it, fool on a chair.

Chong Chong at 14 Months

Or, as I like to call it, “Attica! Attica!”

We’d just installed the gate on the door to my office, and Chong Chong wasn’t quite happy with it. That is, he’s trying to get in, not out. Shanshan’s leg and arm are in the background since his walking is still a bit unsteady.

Anhui Tower

Taken with my iPhone five days ago, on what was a beautiful blue-sky day.

Today, unfortunately, is not such a day. The aqi at the US Embassy is at 429 as I write this (the scale tops-out at 500), and I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets worse over the evening. (One note… the reading at the US Embassy is from just one site in a city with a municipality that is larger in area than Rhode Island… it is great as an indicator, and for historical comparisons, but shouldn’t be used as the definitive guide to Beijing’s air quality.)

During the winter months, steam is produced at plants throughout the city, and then piped to distribution centers, before going into dwellings. Unfortunately, these plants are coal-fired… and I don’t mean the “clean burning” type, either.

In addition, there are (usually poorer) households/communities that don’t get steam, and rely on heat by directly burning coal.

During these grey days, I do as most other Beijing people do: limited outside activity, wear a mask when outside, keep the windows and doors shut tight when at home, and look forward to the next big wind.

That said, I don’t dwell on it. It has been part of life during my eight years here, and is certainly not overshadowed by other things that I think make Beijing a wonderful place to live.