Sunday Post: Unforgettable

DSC_0122Unforgettable? I’m 62 years old, and I have a lifetime of unforgettable moments; I had not truly appreciated that fact until I started to look for images to post for Jakes’s Sunday Post.

I now realize that I am blessed to have had far too may unforgettable moments to post on this blog.

Unforgettable: the first time I opened the blanket to touch Baby Elle’s little toes three years ago. (“Image by Mona” … nope my son/her daddy took this shot.)

Unforgettable: All of the incredible moments I am fortunate enough to spend with her as she grows into a remarkable little girl.

Unforgettable: If you’ve followed my blog for any time at all, you know that I spent the past two summers working and playing in China, part of it trekking about by myself. The first summer, when I was 60, I took a night-train from Shanghai to Beijing alone and toured the major sites with an English-speaking tour group. The second summer, I spent a week alone in Shanghai. This might not be that remarkable to those of you who are seasoned travelers, but it is quite UNFORGETTABLE and remarkable for me because this was my first time out of the United States.

Unforgettable: An invitation to dinner in a private home in Feicheng, Shandong Province, China. What’s even better is that we were allowed to “help” in making the dumplings.

New to Word press? Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, you’re invited to get involved in my Weekly Competition to help you meet your blogging goals and give you another way to take part in 2013 Lucky Snake Event. (It’s the Year of the Snake!) Everyone is welcome to participate, if your blog is about photography,Video, Graphic Artwork Or Writing.

1. Each week, Jake provides a theme for creative inspiration. Show the world based on your interpretation what you have in mind for the theme, and post them on your blog anytime before the following Sunday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. Subscribe to jakesprinter so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS. GET THE BADGE FOR YOUR IMAGE WIDGET….

 

Make sure to have the image link to http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/ so that others can learn about the challenge, too.

Posted in: Sunday Post

The Community of Games

I surreptitiously watched card games and Mahjong games being played on make-shift tables on sidewalks all over Shanghai and Feicheng. The players, seated on small collapsible stools, spent hours at their games.

I was disappointed that I was never able to get a picture.

At the end of my stay in Feicheng, I had a few hours to wander in the park across from our hotel, and finally got my shot, not of cards or Mahjong, but something equally absorbing. The haze of cigarette smoke drifted amidst the men who were so focused on the game that they took no notice of me or my camera.

Not a single man glanced my way, which allowed me to watch their game without feeling as if I were intruding.

They play with discs that are similar to checkers; yet the moves seemed more like chess.

I learned later that the game is called Chinese chess.

Respect for Elders

I understand that, based on the teachings of Confucius, respect for elders has been the foundation of Chinese culture and morality for more than a thousand years. 
 
Last summer, when the teachers in my workshop learned my age (only 60) they referred to me as a “senior citizen” and were astounded that I would still be working; they said that their moms (who are my age) live with them, are taken care of, and do very little work other than play with the little one (their words). I must admit that there have been a few times when I’ve longed to retire in China at 60 rather than continue working in the US until 70 or so. My 81-year-old mother, by the way, just recently quit working. 
 
While wandering around the streets of Shanghai this past week, I’ve frequently seen an elderly person on the arm of a younger person — I assume a daughter or son. I compared this sweet relationship to our seemingly barbaric practice of putting our elderly in nursing homes.

 
 
But I googled it tonight, initially searching for Confucius’ teachings on the relationship between parent and child and on showing respect to the elderly. My search eventually led me to disturbing information that challenges my previous conception that those over 60 live out their golden years in ease.
 
The traditional social security system in China has been the family. But, according to the  sources I read tonight, that support is dwindling. See  “ELDERLY PEOPLE, RETIREMENT AND GRAYING OF CHINA.” In addition, it seems that there is a shortage of nursing homes and retirement centers.
 
With China’s one child per family policy, there are fewer children to take care of mom when she can no longer support herself. In many rural areas, with the flight of young people to the cities, dad’s situation is precarious. A Time article dated August 31, 2011, “100 Million Elderly: China’s Demographic Time Bomb,” indicates that many of China’s growing population of old people live alone and many in hardship. 
 

Ni Hao Shanghai

I arrived in this beautiful city last night and have enjoyed walking in the streets around my hotel. The skies are cloudy, hinting of rain; however, I have not yet seen a drop. I am savoring the food as I had not found a single restaurant in Phoenix that serves authentic Chinese food and I have missed the delicious flavors and textures of the dishes here.

The shot below is from my stay here last summer. I am looking forward to roaming the city with my camera in hand again.

Shanghai Street

The Mutianyu Great Wall

When I was in Beijing, I chose the Mutianyu Great Wall over the Badaling Great Wall because it was advertised as less crowded. I had seen incredible shots of endless vistas revealing the immense structure snaking across the mountain ridges and looked forward to capturing similar images.

However, it was not to be as a fierce storm set upon us … actually, when I was alone on top of the wall. For a few minutes, when I was standing at a juncture, with the rain falling in sheets and lightning painting the sky much too close for my comfort, I did not know which way to turn. I had moments of true concern (fear?) thinking of the tour van leaving at the scheduled time while I wandered in the pelting rain on top of the mountain.

While I was on the Great Wall, the mist enveloping the mountain soon turned to heavy rain, thunder, and lightning…gifting me with a fantastic display of Nature’s power and beauty.

The narrow, steep steps posed a slippery challenge in the rain.

The Great Wall at Mutianyu was rebuilt during the Ming dynasty in the 16th Century upon the foundations of the wall originally built during the Northern Qi Dynasty (AD 500-77).