June 22, 2007

Where the Air Is Clear

The first thing that hits you when you step out of the airport after a prolonged sojourn in China, is the blessed blueness of the sky and the sweet, fresh air. I’m still marveling about it two weeks later.

We’re grandma-sitting in Palo Alto right now, giving my bf’s aunt a vacation. During the day I field the many questions of a wandering mind, dole out reassurances, and think up clever distractions to calm anxiety. But grandma goes to bed at 8:30, and then I take my laptop out under the stars to write. We’re here for two more weeks and then it’s back to our little 1886 farmhouse in the Pacific Northwest. Our renters say there’s a bountiful crop of luscious raspberries and plump blueberries in our yard this year–yum. Cherry trees and fresh rosemary will be so wonderful after six months living in a hotel.

My favorite baby was in the hospital getting a cleft lip operation on my last day at the orphanage, so I couldn’t say goodbye. But I knew his life was improving, and I have high hopes for his eventual adoption. I’m staying in contact with the other volunteers, and they will keep me updated. For some obscure reason, the Chinese government makes it impossible to adopt from a facility where you were a volunteer, and they recently tightened their adoption restrictions, so that my bf and I would have to be married for two years before we could adopt. I sobbed and sobbed when I had to leave. I wanted to take pictures of the babies but it was forbidden. I’ll never forget their dazzling smiles and pleading eyes.

I’ll post reflections about my time in China as they come to me, as well as the long-promised post on men reading romance. I’ve been a very inconstant blogger lately, and for that I apologize. I’ve never been good about sticking to routines during times of change. My writing suffered as well, but now I’m back on track and sinking my teeth into a dark and sexy gothic featuring a brilliant, obsessive hero named Rodric. More on that later. And check back next week for information about my very first contest. The prize will be a treasure I bought in China.

Oh, and speaking of contests, I am dying to win a coveted single-maven critique from one of the fabulous Manuscript Mavens. Read all about this priceless prize here. I haven’t won a blog contest yet. Maybe this will be my lucky link.

I’ll leave you with some photos. Thanks for reading, and sorry for the long dry spell.

No, I do not play the pipa (more’s the pity), but the gentleman sitting next to me is a zither master. He was teaching me a traditional pingtan aria for voice.

Scene from the opera we saw in Beijing, The Marriage Between the Dragon and the Phoenix.

Azumeth on top of the Beijing Ancient Observatory.

Shadow puppet play in Wu Zhen.

Rice wine distillery in Wu Zhen.