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.

22 thoughts on “Where the Air Is Clear”

  1. What great photos! So sorry to hear about the stringent conditions for adoption. You’d think with the situation being what it was, they’d make it a bit easier. Sounds like an amazing experience altogether, though, and I can’t wait to hear more reflections AND more about Rodric…

  2. You’re excused with the move~ I know when my husband and I were looking into adoption back in 2005, we would have had to be married two years to adopt from China. . .and we just didn’t want to wait. So instead of girls, we got BOYS from Guatemala. I can’t imagine my life without them.

    Thanks for buying CC. . .hope you enjoy it!

  3. Beautiful pictures, Lenore! How heartbreaking, about the orphans – but that’s so wonderful that ‘your’ baby is having the surgery! I’m sure you made a difference in their lives.

    Your farmhouse also sounds wonderful. Enjoy re-acclimation and fresh air!

  4. Thanks, Erica. It is pretty frustrating that we have to be married, since neither one of us really feels the need. But we’ll consider it, just because China is our first choice. Don’t worry, you’ll get sick of Rodric.

    Ericka, it was my pleasure. And I want to hear more about your boys.

    Tessa, our “farmhouse” is right smack in the middle of a city. I realized that the term might sound misleading. But we still like to pretend we’re on a farm. Next we’ll be getting chickens.

  5. Welcome home! I hope you brought back plenty of shoes with you, as well as memories that will last a lifetime. I’m sure you’ll be missed at the orphanage. Good luck with the writing, and give us some snippets!

  6. Lenora, welcome back! It is wonderful to hear from you, and the pictures are marvelous.

    We never see the end result of most of the lasting impressions we make in this world. I’m betting your presence in that orphanage will and has benefit(ed) the lives of so many.

    I’m so sorry you won’t be in Dallas! I’ll have to start saving pennies for San Fransisco, because I would love to meet you ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Thanks, Beth (Gillian?). I’m disappointed about Dallas. I was really looking forward to meeting you and other FanLitters. Ah well, it just didn’t work out. What part of the States are you in?

  8. I live in SE Kansas, Lenora, so Dallas will be a short flight. But we’ve been to Washington state–and my memories are of beautiful trees and the smell of the sea. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Shelli, I’m in the Oregon part of the PNW, but I do make it to your city once in awhile to visit friends, and eat better Chinese food, so I would love, love, love to have coffee with you and Lacy. Thanks so much!

    Oh, and I can’t go to Dallas this year. I’m so bummed! But I’m already planning for San Francisco ’08.

  10. Hi Griselle, Thanks for visiting again. I better run on over to your blog and see how you are.

    Welcome, Mary! I’ve been following your blog for awhile now. It’s so nice of you to stop by. It was a great homecoming present, and a good kick in the pants, because I want to get my first chapter ready to send to some contests this week.

  11. Wonderful photos Lenora! I was happy to catch up with everything’s that is going on with you! I was sorry to hear about the adoption requirements- I hadn’t realized the conditions were so demanding. Best wishes and welcome home!
    Sara ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Bummer on no Dallas ๐Ÿ™ But definitely San Fran!!

    Yes, let us know when you come up to Seattle and we’ll get together! Your home sounds FABULOUS. I love century old homes and beyond.

  13. Lovely photos! I was just reading about the change in Chinese adoption laws last night. One of the things they have mandated is BMI- I found that pretty interesting. My husband and I are expecting our first baby in early Aug but we have discussed adoption at some point.

    I wont be in Dallas either, sigh, but I do have SF on my radar!

  14. OK, Shelli, it’s a date (you know Seattle has some of the best Chinese food outside of China, right?)

    Yeah, isn’t that BMI thing weird, Lady Leigh? I love your blog, btw. Gorgeous pics!

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