Friday, October 24, 2008

Settling In

We can hardly believe we have been here for almost two months. We are so busy and the experiences keep coming at us so fast we can barely take them in let alone record them in this blog. Nevertheless, we have settled in nicely and are comfortable in our circumstances.

In the previous blog we described the building in which we live, and there is a picture of what it looks like on the outside. The inside is equally Spartan, but we have gone to great efforts to fix things up even though we know we will have to leave them behind after our tour is over.

Our first effort was to fix up the kitchen. That meant buying some appliances we thought we needed to make life livable. Elva bought a few pots, dishes, a frying pan for the gas burner, and a microwave. We have since added a toaster and crock pot. But the purchase that really put our life in order was a new washing machine. It only does a small load. It fills from a cold-water tap under the kitchen sink (although you can add some warm water from the faucet) and drains into the kitchen floor. But it works great. We then hang the wet clothes on a line on the back porch if it’s warm enough outside or on a drying rack in the spare room when it’s not. Oh, we also had to buy an iron to press them with.

Basic furniture was already in the apartment—sofa, chairs, desks, and bed—but it was pretty bleak. True to our natures, we spent the money to decorate. (That was when we had money before the stock market tanked.) Beautiful Chinese wall hangings are now displayed in the living room and bedroom. We have also bought some original Chinese oil paintings (and have our eyes on more). A colorful bedspread spruced up the bedroom.

We had functional drapes in all the rooms, but they were not up to Elva’s standards. They were an ugly beige color, dirty, and older than Lao-Tzu. Moreover, the hems were uneven, which gave Elva nightmares. But a trip to the fabric market put this right. For a few hundred Chinese yuan she had new ones made. They were done in two days by young girls on treadle sewing machines who were working in an outdoor alley. They did a good job. Gold for the bedroom and red and gold for the living room. (It seems that red and gold are our colors these days.) And all the hems are the same length.

But the weather is turning cold. The leaves are dropping. Fall is here and winter is not far behind. I guess we’ll be back to the fabric market for winter coats soon.

1 comment:

emily said...

That line up of them sewing outside cracks me up! Looks like you've made some lovely additions! You're going to get it looking so good that you're going to not want to come back. Maybe you should stop all of the improvements!:)