Innocents Abroad

At the end of May we left our home in Suzhou, China to spend the summer in the U.S. where we landed in Columbus, Ohio, bought a dented Ford Explorer and hit the open road. It wasn’t long before my kids began to grin and poke each other, speaking out of the sides of their [...]

Cut-rate Elegance

I’m not sure why a female with that much armpit hair thought a sleeveless dress was a good idea, but perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. I love jewelry, pearls, diamonds, pearls, onyx, turquoise, pearls, rubies, emeralds, and did I say pearls. Yeah, I really like pearls. I suppose it’s lucky that Suzhou is one [...]

It Looks Kind Of Greek

Last week I was in Shanghai walking along the Bund with my husband and two boys, Chase and Porter. “It looks kind of Greek,” Porter said, nine years old and keenly interested in design and mythology. “This area was built by the English, and Greek architecture is meant to symbolize stability and ancient power,” I [...]

Life Without Seatbelts

When you first come to China the whole world is turned on its head and there’s a good bit of calling your sister to exclaim, “You can’t imagine what I saw today!” Trash bags are too thin, middle-aged women don’t know how to use a can opener, and it appears that the population is kept [...]

Tomb Sweeping Day

Today is Tomb Sweeping Day, a mandatory holiday which closed schools, factories, and offices on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week. Yay, three-day holiday, but there’s a catch, a left cheek sneaker that takes the shine off mandatory holidays—You have to hit the rock pile the previous Saturday and Sunday to make up for [...]

Text and Subtext

George Bernard Shaw pointed out that “the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” “Are there any cute boys in your class?” I asked my daughter, Abby. “They’re freaks, mom.” “Are there any cute freaks?” “They brought a toaster to homeroom. There’s a piece of burnt toast still in [...]

All the Emperor’s Men

The other day I was standing in the checkout line at the grocery store watching a fish slowly gasp it’s last in a plastic bag as the conveyor belt lurched forward so it’s dead body could be scanned along with the soy sauce and toilet paper. Gingerly I placed my items on the moist rubber, [...]

Cooking School

This morning Seth said, “Chase and Porter, we’re making stew that usually takes all day, but we’re doing it in thirty minutes, come peel this garlic.”  Chase looked up from his jam bread and Porter tore away from his Indian chicken curry over rice, his hair fanned straight up in the back like a peacock’s [...]


Several years ago my stepmother sent me an email from India where she and my dad were serving as missionaries.  On their morning walk they happened across a group of children combing a garbage pile for their breakfast.  The oldest girl carried the baby, and when she found a bit of discarded food, she fed [...]

Spa Day

China is all about manicures, pedicures and massages.  Spas abound, much to the delight of expats who might not have the chance to indulge in such luxury at home.  Although, there ought to be a small skull and crossbones at the entrance of every provider, a subtle warning that a fifty minute massage may include [...]