Sunday, April 20, 2014

Bruce and I celebrate Easter - Ha Jin, Chinese author of Waiting - Scott's Pizza

Bruce helped me make our mushroom omelet for breakfast. He remembered that the last time he was here I'd make omelets smothered in cheese - oh, doesn't that sound delicious! - but I'm trying to lose weight so I've given up cheese.

He enjoyed the omelet, also made with garlic and green scallions. He had a Triscuit, which he found too salty, and a bowl of ice cream, which he found delicious!

 Ever heard of Three Twins? Now you have.  I find it delicious and akin to sherbet.

 I love having Bruce back. It's like having a well-behaved teenager of my own. He's 17, born 1996.

After breakfast we visited Dan and Family.

We did a little tai chi in the living room.

Today was a Landmark Day. Grace, who will be four in August, used the potty for the first time.

She explained to us, Mommy will still put on Pull-Ups at night, but during the day she'll wear big girl panties. She showed us a stack of em in the kitchen.

These all have patterns, she said. She was wearing solid pink, her favorite color.

When Grace spoke about using the potty, she said it with such certainty, it did seem like she'd never go back to her childish ways.

Ready to go for a walk around the block in Dan's neighborhood?

Grace, hop into the new red wagon. Here's a famous poem by Wm Carlos Wms about the same:

Pardon! The Red Wheelbarrow.....

The Red Wheelbarrow
  by William Carlos Williams   

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

The Red Wheelbarrow

  by William Carlos Williams
so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white
- See more at:

Walking down the street where Barry and Claudia live. Barry gave me invaluable information. The flowers Ellen and I saw at The New Church are a variety of Vinca. 

Is there a God or what?

Claudia came outside and I asked her if she could read a piece I want to submit. She is literally the only person I can show it to due to its erotic nature.

Last night I was telling Bruce about a wonderful novel I read by the Chinese author Ha Jin, a pseudonym.

When Jin - and friends - were learning English, it was physically painful.

Here's what he says in his interview in the Paris Review.
Speaking was painful. My jaw hurt, my tongue hurt, my throat hurt. Some of my classmates took painkillers because their mouths hurt so much. It was not easy. 
 He talks about the restrictions in "the police state" of his native China.
But I also didn’t work very hard [on learning the language.] I stayed at the lowest level throughout. It was humiliating. Then, after the third year, I knew I wanted to study American literature, and in order to get into a good program I had to take a very big English test—that was the basic requirement. Once I realized I wanted to study Hemingway and Faulkner, I began to work hard on the language.
Also, we were supposed to follow instructions and avoid books written by foreign authors and old Chinese texts that had remnants of the old culture and customs. And not just books. If you sang an old movie song, someone would report you.
Ha Jin

Was the intellectual culture outside the army any more hospitable?
No. There were book burnings—I remember one bonfire in the middle of my parents’ yard. And the colleges were all closed. They were closed when I got out of the army, and they had been closed for ten years. Until I was twenty, I had never seen a public library.

At the time I knew I wanted to go to college; that was very clear. I tried to teach myself systematically but there were a lot of gaps, a lot of holes, in that kind of education. A lot of people were like me. A whole generation taught themselves.

But after the Tiananmen Square massacre, I was lost for some time. I was going through a lot of psychological torment. I was very sick. I was in a fevered state for several months. I was often mean to my family. I didn’t really laugh. When I saw my family laugh, I just said shut up. 
I love liturgical music. WRTI-FM just concluded four hours of Saint Matthew's Passion.

When I lived in San Francisco, I mailed a boxed set to my friend Iris Arenson. I wonder if she remembers. 

Bruce's "host family" will pick him up tonight. They're celebrating Easter in Maryland. Their names are Matt, Alyssa and daughter Lorelei, who's three.


Six o'clock and Bruce and I get out of the car - we visited Mom and Ellen - and enter Scott's aromatic house, smelling of Pizza.

Says Bruce: "This is the best pizza I've ever had."

Scott tops it with provolone but he also tried Goat's Cheese, which we both love.

However, the taste was too overpowering for the pizza.

Nine more minutes until Call the Midwife on PBS.

How can I bore you for nine whole minutes.


All is Lost starring Robert Redford as "Our Man." Indeed he is the only man in this film.

What a spectacular performance Redford gave as a man in his sinking yacht, then sinking raft, trying to find help in the Indian Ocean.

Incredibly suspenseful. Will he die in the end as his rations give out?

Rent it at your local library as did I. You will not regret it.

Redford, who's had no facial plastic surgery, shows you what a 77-yo man looks like and how he moves. He did most of his own stunts, said the Special Features at the end.

Virtually no dialogue, his face and body language reveal his feelings.

Read about it here.

Let's end with a poem, shall we?


In sandaled feet
I arrive at Ming’s to
read my book and
await my soup.

I read about Herodotus
traveling the wide world
wondering where it ended
which sea was the last.

Footsteps I hear behind me:
A man, voice melodious, speaks:
a trickling waterfall,
then, a woman's,
gentle as a fish swimming downstream.

I look up from my book
and listen to voices I cannot understand -
Korean -
Like Herodotus in a new land
They crossed the endless seas.


  1. Ruth, your blog is always enjoyed by me, though sometimes it confuses my probable ADD when there is so much in each post that I want to remember and comment on. Interesting, all of it. I have heard others say English was an impossible, hard language to learn. I can see painful...To me words or letters, when you say them, have a certain "taste" or feel in one's mouth.

    I do remember getting the records but what confuses me is..Weren't we living in SF pretty the same time??

    Never heard of that ice cream but now will look for it. I am also watching my weight, though.

    Nice poem!!!

  2. yes, when i sent you the passion we were both living in SF, OR maybe i mailed it to you from huntingdon valley pa after curtis branch broke up with me. in any event, i did have a bit of money in those days so i could do nice things like mail someone a gift