Friday, July 18, 2014

our moving castle, part 4

Restaurant Shenma
Monday! Xixi Guojia Shidi, the greenest place on (the good) earth. Had mochis for breakfast; Mom called me “bai bai pang pang” over video call. Family packed up for a trip to the wetlands, just 30 minutes away. There was a place for “man sheng huo,” or slow living. We met Samuel’s mom’s cousin, who nestled us into an eclectic (no better word for the boggliness), white-washed (not figuratively), slightly dusty tavern called Restaurant Shenma (character for horse). Telescopes for decoration, broken vase mosaics. A long patio downstairs, squishy, patchwork quarters above. On the way into the park we acquired coconuts, chicken, and stinky tofu. 
 very -omantic outing
Samuel and I took a boat that led to another boat. And another, and another… Each stop yielded a new patch of bamboo island to explore, rife with jewel-bodied bugs and gnats, with tall grasses and dead fish that were very silver. We walked on the wide cobbles, one behind the other, until we tired. Shared a very luscious Shou Zhua Bing. The first boat was empty but for us; another Howl’s Moving Castle! We found a secluded bench, and I held Samuel’s head in my lap for the longest time, counting his eyelashes, looking for my reflection in his pupils. One of the happiest moments I’ve passed, stooped shoulders and all. Had a Haagen-Dazs at 3:30, another bing, and various pokings around the neighboring village, in search of the elusive caramel shop. Posed under the -Omantics sign (a clever hedge blocked the “R”). 
a good brother
Samuel messed with Timmy using a new remote-control red car, and we wandered to the nearby bridge (illustration) and hid in a stairwell, until Timmy and Wai Po spotted and fired twigs at us. 
Oho! Forgot the mention the oyster. Samuel bought a live oyster which the vendor promptly sliced open, revealing more than twenty pearls in white and purple. Gave one to a small girl, set two in earrings, which I aspire to wear often (I do)!
Then, an unctuous dinner at Wai Po Jia, the fanciest one I’ve seen: hair-covered banisters, walls papered in live ivy and moss, a rooftop garden of cacti. Samuel drank 2.5 tumblers of vodka, which I thought tasted like my mom’s fermented broad bean paste but even more lethal/potent. Many thanks to (illustration of JJ ayi) for delicious, 18-dish dinner. Went into hysterics over OTATOP, crammed into humid little can (positively dying from multiple afflictions). ’Twas yet another wondrous day—each one outdoes the yester. 
silver scene

To-day, Tuesday. Ran home early from breakfast at a corporate (Zhejiang Communications) cafeteria to shower; emptied Will Smith's litter box and bought milk at Tomato Store with S. Then, embarked on attempt to walk around West Lake with our new neighbor friend, who loves to speak. Shun Shun, said neighbor, raised 18 bunnies in his career, and gave great insight into the bunny-noisemaking process (shutting them in drawers... D:). Was the grayest day; the lake and sky met in milky nothingness, and all floated in a cloud. Met family for Hangzhouish lunch of vinegar-fish at Lou Wai Lou, one of the great marbled buildings on the lakeshore. 
Cozy tea shop
An afternoon of Game of Thrones and a tummy ache (made better by S). Headed out at 4 for an afternoon coffee that would spill into a Zhang Yimou-directed light show on the lake. Lo and behold, there was a baby grand piano on the mostly empty second floor, ripe for the playing! Very snuggly and serene couple of hours spend drinking sugar tea and attempting duet with Ariel. S read Wild Swans contentedly; on the homestretch. Mr. Peter joined biked over from a meeting with professor and we had lovely (still unctuous) meal; befriended Jiang Xi waiter boy ("Keep the change!"). Puttered off, arm in arm, to the show ("Impressions of Wests Lake"--very impressive), a rendering of The Legend of White Snake. Euphony of lights, lake, and fluffy Truffula trees. Most impressed by fog mountain that rose out of the water, downy feathers, and the way performers walked on water ("Wet socks." -Samuel). S got up and sat back down into a nonexistent chair, wahaha! Striking music--jarring might be the word for it. Señor biked home, while we caught a friendly driver of a non-cab from Anhui whose ringtone rang A's bells. And now we are tucked back into Ding An Yuan, reading, writing, poring over old photos in the yellow evening light. Mistook-for-a-Uyghur count: 3. Xie xie Shang Di.
a boy and his book
Then came Wednesday. In the morn, popped in my purple pearl earrings, and huddled into beige Mercedes van with everyone. Off to Hongge Ayi's home house palace! Nestled among rosebuds and willow trees, and tightly walled in, her elegant abode stood in a row of closely-neighbored estates of similar dimensions. Three tasteful stories, two kitchens, one maid-helper; matched slipper sets for both indoors and outdoors. Hand-embroidered walls, chocolate-covered acai berries and pineapple on the patio, a home theatre with a trampoline (we watched Gravity, a movie of great gravity). We ogled the view from the Juliet balcony, with its sun-and-stars-tiled pool and koi-filled ponds. 'Twas a pleasant time in clear-aired paradise, thanks to S's mom's dear friend through high school, college, and the present.
with Skittle-colored bouquet
We had lunch at a light-filled hotel in the House District (Fangzi Qu)--notable scrambled eggs and four-season beans. Periodic stroll with Timmy to the garden to let him toss rocks into the fountain guarded by the sign that said "Parents Please Restrain Little Kids from Throwing Items into Water." First walked with Ariel, discovered caged parakeets and happily stumbled upon a wild Samuel playing Cut the Rope, trying to win extra levels. After lunch we took Timmy to see the peacocks past the pool, and as we hopped across the stream, S procured a bouquet (Skittle-colored and sized!) and launched into "There's this girl I know..." and my little coeur did a dance and I figured that playing Cut the Rope after beating it = writing new poem with words like "intertwination" in it. And as we walked the green loop with Sheep-sheep and spotted a boat in the algean water and commented on weighted peacocks I gave thanks for this one boy in a million and once again prayed for eternity. Then, in slight contrast, we ate a 1000-calorie pastry in the theatre.
That night, we munched with parents' college classmates at InTime mall (third floor, very posh, mossy walls again) and relieved them of Timmy by taking him to Cold Stone, many escalators down. S ordered beloved strawberry with nuts (? :D) and Ariel and I shared a Cheesecake Fantasy. And what do ye know: before five bites, Timmy stood on a chair, shoved paw into waffle cup, and knocked Cheesecake Fantasy -SHFLAT- onto the ground. "Timmy, I actually hate you," wept/snorted Ariel, and we promptly assailed S's strawberry with nuts. Timmy's Wai Gong came up the escalator, arms open like a savior, and to take him home, a sight that somehow stuck. The night was well-spent, for I was physically spent.
(Thursday and Friday blended because of a brief bout of stomach sickness)
The next day, we were all supposed to go to Shaoxing (of wine fame), but S succeeded in staying at home for homework, I fell to fever, and Ariel latched onto the lazy boat too. So off they went, and left Wai Po, S, A, and me at the apartment. I swallowed various pills (chomped them down with wontons) and existed horizontally on parents' bed for several hours, occasionally woken the sounds of by Wai Po hanging laundry outside, preschool recess, and the call of the recycler (tone quality of Mosque caller), a true decrescendo, a gradualness to emulate. Slept with hands at sides, tried to do S's breathing trick, which soothed me to sleep. The day passé in a soft wind of porridge, The Good Earth, and flannel pajama bottoms.
Japanese restaurant had green-tea dispenser
Eventually S woke up and we tried to go out, but I shriveled. S kindly fed Will Smith, brought me cups, and worked in the interstice between bed and cupboard atop Timmy's sheets. When he could work no longer, and I sleep no more, we watched the epic Dahk Knight Rises (DUN     DUN     DUN) until it was black outside and strolled to InTime in scrub outfits for Japanese food. No Cold Stone, but a nighttime Melona for Samuel at the Gerbil Trainer of Death and an early sleep for me.
Errhbit, another sick day. Finished Good Earth in the morning, played two notes on the violin, and felt well enough to eat Pizza Hut (huh huh) for lunch. Stupid Glob ate globs of cheese: three stuffed crusts, and felt after-effects soon enough. Tried to walk it off with Ariel by buying underwear at Uniqlo, but still felt like blob. Blob spent money and waddled home to rest.
cheered my sleeping self with scenes like these
Before long, trotted with female folk (A & A) to Longqiang market, a triple-decker cheap-stuff mecca just two subway stops away. Shopped a bit, then waited on as stool, contemplating cigarette smoke and wondering what people do when they absolutely nothing to do. They found me and we walked through drizzling Hangzhou, onto the two-yuan metro, and disembark. Was exhausted, but proceeded to family banquet. We fill two banquet rooms this time: every great-grandpa's son and second cousin was present. Demolished leaning pyramid of pickle corner by corner while Samuel passed the time by slow-motion recording his motorboat lips (flub web wee web) and taking Picasso-esque panoramas. Daughter of HongER Ayi, aged 26, studier in Australia, had same headband as me, Carrie Underwood ringtone, called Yuan Yuan--was nice! Took Ariel to stead restaurant later. Tried to stall departure by drinking tangyuan with Samuel, but soon enough we three left for McD and a photo album-sleep at home. I slept in S's nook, curtain drawn. I hummed the Moses lullaby and Samuel hummed it back. He knew it.

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