Beneath this bowl of stars...

toddler activites, food, photos, and other orbital occurrences

Today was a really dark, gloomy, overcast, rainy day. We went out only to attend our first Gymboree class, (which was a dissapointment), and later to look for dark beer. So, I didnt get any more pictures taken. Since we spent so much time inside today, I remembered to write about the lack of paper towels in china.

China is very 'green' when it comes to paper and plastic. There are not any paper towels for sale anywhere. No paper napkins either. What they do have are what seems like a package of kleenex/tissue but not in a cardboard box, in a plastic bag with opening to pull them out. These paper things are not anywhere near as soft as tissues that we would use in the US to wipe our nose. They are more along the lines of a paper napkin, only they are very small (a bit smaller than a baby wipe) and very very thin, as thin a generic brand tissue.... which means they are completely useless as soaking up water or yogurt or honey, or milk or whatever substance Amber seems to spill or get all over her. And they sure wont dry a dish or pan, and yes they become soggy and fall apart when wet. (if i have room in my suitcase in may, maybe i will bring a bunch of packs back for everyone). I went to the big expat store to see if they had any paper towels. Sure enough they had about 4 rolls on the shelf, at.... $7 a roll!!!!! Currently the kitchen towels/rags that we have are also useless b/c even though they are cloth, they do not soak up water, just move it around. I guess I just need to go out and buy several dozen small cloth things that will soak stuff up and leave a little laundry hamper in the kitchen.

The other interesting thing is that stores dont give you a bag when you make a purchase. Some stores have some (ultra thin) bags that they will sell you if you need one, but the smaller stores do not even have that option. All of the larger stores also have reusable bags that you can purchase for around 50cents a bag, so its not expensive. BUT, the catch is that you cannot leave home without a bag.

This evening I was making Guinness (or dark beer) beef stew for dinner. The other day I picked up a half liter of nice dark shanghai brewery beer for about 35cents at a little corner market. It tasted like it would be perfect in our stew. Amber took a later than planned nap and left me waking her up to rush out to find the beer. It was pouring down rain, so I decided to carry her on my back. The store where I purchased the beer the other day was a little too far to walk for this arrend so I decided i should be able to find another store closer. After walking for 30 min and going in at least half a dozen little stores, no dark beer was to be found. I eventually gave up and just got a light beer. I paid and then realized that I had forgotten to bring my Baggu (thanks Jen for the bags). and of course this store didnt have bags. So there I was baby on my back, umbrella hanging off my arm. My wallet in one hand and the huge beer in the other. I still needed to get bread from Paul's (the french bakery across the street) and open and close my umbrella.

Umbrellas are another thing I want to talk about. After living in NYC for several years and buying or aquiring and losing or tossing at least a dozen of the crappy $5 black umbrellas I never could have imagined a cheaper, worse quality, useless umbrella. Around here the cheap (and only as far as I can tell unless you go to Burbury) umbrella costs 5rmb, which is about 75cents. They come in nice colors (not boring black like in NYC), but they require at least 4 hands to open, and they feel at though they might not even last around the block. When you open one, it opens flipped (you know, the thing that happens to your umbrella when you walk across the street and the wind is blowing, and then its sometimes impossible to flip it back?) Well thats how these are designed to open... only they are not any easier to flip back. The pole that you hold is also so cheap it might just bend in the middle if the wind were to blow.

Somehow I made it home with a non broken beer bottle and a squished loaf of bread and a kid who didnt get her eye poked out by an umbrella.

The stew was horrible.