Monday, November 23, 2009

Fo-Pas and such

Today I was in the elevator at the hospital and I tried to say "12" to the elevator attendent in Chinese, and everyone in there (I mean everyone and the elevators are crowded) looked at me and repeated what I said and cracked up. Later I was trying to say "bye bye" to Jenna's helper Lulu and I accidentally said "dumpling." Lulu and I spend our down time in the room teaching each other words such as "apartment" and "God bless you" and "carrot."
Today was Sunday, Jenna's day off, and Jenna and I came over to the apartment for the afternoon so that she could get the hell out of the hospital room. (The doctor almost didn't let us because "many people on the outside have H1N1".) We sat in the "sun room" and watched some people in the alley down below cut up some bloody meat in a plastic garbage bag down on the nasty ground and then put it in a big vat to take in the back of the restaurant that is there to cook.
Last night I was looking out the window and I swear I saw a ferret run through the parking lot. I guess it could have been a cat. Also, dump trucks worked late into the night delivering loads of asphalt fixins to the road next to the apartment. And there is a little girl directly upstairs who alternates running crazily through the apartment, playing the piano very badly and having temper tantrums.

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Chinese treatments

We are at the First Teaching Hospital of Tianjin, which is the biggest and most famous Traditional Chinese Medicine hospital in China. It is a teaching hospital, where doctors receive their training. Every morning, the doctor, who looks like a combination of Dr. Spock and the antagonist Jade Fox from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, comes in the room with about 8 trainees. They are wearing masks. We (whoever of the Nagle family is wanting a treatment) are expected to be lying on the beds and ready when they come in promptly at 9:00. First the doctor needles Jenna all over her head, face, ears, and legs. Then she pulls down half of my pants to needle me in the butt, hip and low back (because I am getting treated for what has become chronic hip pain). My needles stay in 10 minutes, and Jenna's stay in 20 minutes. Once my needles are removed they haul in this device called a "Computer Fumigate", which I lie down on and put my butt in a large basin that has small holes in the bottom. Underneath that basin is a pot of steaming herbs. My butt and hip are steamed from this device for 30 minutes. After that a nurse comes in for "cupping." This is where many glass cups are suctioned onto the body using a heat vacuum (from a small flame). Jenna gets 12 cups over her lungs for 5 minutes, and then I get 8 or so cups over my butt and hip and low back. This leaves many round bruises from the suction. The cupping improves circulation and such. After that, the nurse brings in a hot herbal compress wrapped in a towel that is placed on my hip for 20-30 minutes. Then the nurse pulls down half of my pants again and rubs some black salve all over my hip and puts a heat lamp over it for 20 minutes. Then for the rest of the day I take herbal pills and drink nasty bitter hot herbal tea from a plastic bag. It is quite intensive. Jenna gets acupuncture again in the afternoon and also tui-na massage. She also gets physical therapy (called "functional exercises" in China) and drinks herbal drinks and such. Sometimes a translator comes in and says things like (to my Mother) "The doctor says you elder daughter probably has pain because your elder daughter does much hard labor." Or (to my mother) "The doctor says perhaps you have stomach pain because perhaps you should wear more clothing." The doctors, physical therapist and massage therapist all answer cell phone calls while treating the patient. The physical therapy has been great for Jenna, but maybe more on that in another post.

Today my hip is starting to hurt less and last night I did not wake up from pain at all (first time in months). In fact I slept so hard Mom had to kick the bed to wake me up after 10 hours. Either my hip was better or I was having some sort of delayed jet lag...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dear Readers: (from China)

Dear Readers,
I am happy to report to you that I am safe and sound in China. Tianjin to be exact. I am also happy to report that Jenna, my mei mei (little sister), is doing well, gaining weight and improving her balance and working really hard on her health program here. I am less than happy to report that China does not grant access to my blog, which means I cannot update it from here. Don’t you worry, though. I have connections in USA who will transcribe tidbits onto the blog for me so that you, Dear Readers, can be “in the know” (or “in the no” however you want to look at it…)
First of all let me tell you that it is really cold and crowded and dirty here. There are frozen phlem balls and other such nasties all over the streets. There are people and cars and bikes everywhere, a constant flow of movement of humans. It is very different than the atmosphere I prefer. But having said that, let me notify you that my first impression of the people here and the way they move through their world has been surprisingly pleasant. They seem practical and industrious, traditional yet curious, modest but confident, non aggressive yet assertive. They seem like a paradoxical and complex bunch. These are just first impressions.

Let me provide you with 2 lists:
First, Things in China that Delight Me:
*Steamed Dumplings
*Crimped Hair-dos
*Older women doing some sort of dance routine in a courtyard early in the morning with red fans when it is 20 F degrees
*The commonplace use of medicinal herbs everywhere and seemingly by everyone
* Weird shit that’s in fashion like the belt buckle in photo
* Quail eggs
* Jenna’s caregiver Lulu who stands in the window and gazes out over the city and sings to herself very beautifully and quietly

Things in China that do not Delight Me:
•Being a foreigner who does not understand jack for shit
•Piles of miniature dog shit
•Having a doctor pull down my pants in front of a bunch of interns to stick
Acupuncture needles in my hip (ass showing to all)
•Concrete jungle

Those are a couple of little listy-poos for you. Other than that I am just staying busy being with Jenna, getting treatments myself, walking to and from the hospital, trying to learn some Chinese, manhandling family dynamics, etc. Thanks for checking on me and keep checking. If this post works I will try to do more through USA friends.
Love, Dana

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Big Day #1

I like to buy beautiful, serene, and remotely located land from my good friends, and then eat chocolate truffles and drink toddies out of lovely china. Then a few days later, I like to go to China, to a crowded and dirty city that is, pretty much, the polar opposite of the land I just purchased. But that's just me.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cornflower Blue Mix, in some detail

Rosemoon (see Moonmeadow Farm blog link) recently did a blog post which was a sort of an ode to the color blue. I found out she had never heard the Kate Wolf song Cornflower Blue, so I decided to make her a mix cd that starts with Cornflower Blue and then contains a set list of songs that I feel compliment it. Here are the songs I selected and maybe a little something about each one:

1) *Cornflower Blue by Kate Wolf: This song is not only the most beautiful musical ode to a color that I have ever heard, it is also the sweetest and most sentimental of love songs. Kate Wolf takes her sweet time in the delivery of this song, which makes the quality of sweetness top notch.

2) *Southern Moon by the Louvin Brothers: This ode to the South, the moon and old times, delivered in the classic harmonies of Charlie and Ira Louvin, does country music justice, big time.

3) Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show: This song is perfect for driving or dancing around the kitchen. It is incidentally also about coming home South.

4)*In the Great Beyond by the Primitive Quartet: sweet Western North Carolina gospel about life after death (in Heaven of course)

5)*Trouble in Mind by Roscoe Holcomb: This man lived and sang and played banjo in Kentucky. His voice is excrutiatingly high- very exhilirating

6)*Pale Moon by Uncle Earl: This song is a dear waltz by an old time girl band. The lovely fiddle is played by my friend Rayna Gellert.

7) You are My Flower by Willie Nelson ( a Carter Family song)

8) *We Will Pray by Eliza Lynn: a waltzy, lullaby-like song that is so comforting you might cry

9) *Rush of the Fall by Eliza Lynn: so sad, so beautiful; another waltz

10) Rambling Boy by the Del McCoury Band (a Carter Family song)

11) I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes by the Carter Family: call me crazy, but I think Carter Family love songs are kind of creepy, but in a way I like...

12) My Rose of Old Kentucky by Bill Monroe: Songs about roses are quality. Period.

13) Mother Pray by Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama: This is an a capella rendition of an old spiritual that I can listen to over and over.

14)*What Would You Give in Exchange for Your Soul by the Monroe Brothers: Emily Staton put this song on a cd for me and when it came on the harmonies almost made me gasp. I listened to the song over and over.

15) Van Lear Rose by Loretta Lynn

16) Love is a Rose by Linda Ronstadt: I'm partial to rose songs, obviously.

17) *If the Devil Wrote a Honky Tonk Song by Lance Mills: I heard Lance Mills play (accompanied by Will Straughan) at Trail Fest this year in Hot Springs. The music was so beautiful I bought a cd. I have practically worn that thing out over the last 6 months. This song is a catchy and clever blue grass tune about good old fashined sinning.

18) Dear Someone by Gillian Welch: I admit this song is sort of cheezy. But it is a waltz and it is sweet and lullaby-ish and I like it pretty well.

19) Gold Watch and Chain by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (A Carter Family song): "Oh the white rose that blooms in the garden, it grows with the love of my heart. It broke through on the day that I met you. It will die on the day that we part." Very nice arrangement of this song, including what sounds to me like an accordian...

20) *Telluride by Kate Wolf: This, ladies and gentlemen, is my idea of a perfect song. It has everything a song should: it tells a story, it has sentimentality at an almost unbearable level, it conveys a strong sense of place, it has real characters, it has a lovely instrumental section, and the harmonies are perfect. Once again, Kate took her time delivering this song, and even so, it always ends too soon. Because it is a perfect song.

* These are songs/artists that I highly recommend listening to if you haven't before. Of course, I think you should check out everything on this list, but particularly the marked ones.