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Wednesday, 30 November 2011


By Johna Ferguson

We get lots of visitors - former students of Zhou’s, his own former classmates, his old neighbors and a mixture of others. Some call before coming, others just drop by.

We just got home early this morning from sending my family off when the phone rang. It was a friend of Zhou’s saying he would visit us in half an hour. He had had a computer shop in our neighborhood and helped Zhou when he had problems.

Now he and his wife and four-month-old baby live in another city. But when they arrived this morning, there was a couple with them with a three-year-old boy. That mother immediately left for somewhere and left the boy and father, but the father ignored the boy and the child opened every door, cupboard, drawer as my anger slowly rose.

I shut our bedroom and computer room doors, but he kept opening them and going in while the father paid no attention. Finally I got the boy to go outside into our fenced yard, but he kept finding dirty sticks or rocks to bring back into the house to throw around.

The little baby just sat on his mother’s lap smiling until he peed all over the coffee table and on the floor. You see babies don’t wear diapers; they wear split pants and it all just hangs out, especially with boys.

Actually, they stayed two hours which was one and three-quarters hours too long for me. They did bring a big bag of grapes and a very good bottle of red wine and I felt I needed a glass of it as soon as they left.

As today is Sunday, no one has to work, so perhaps before the day is out someone else will come but hopefully call first. But no, a woman came to the door this afternoon with two warm ears of cooked corn.

Seems people think that because we are old, we never go anywhere but Zhou had gone shopping. When he leaves, I crank up the stereo to loud and play my favorite music as his choices and mine are different. I do not answer the phone for everyone speaks Chinese and I often don’t even hear the door with the music on. Better that way in my mind.

But to get to our house, it’s a real challenge since we live at the top of one of high hills in Qingdao. One must either climb up 92 steps from the street below or walk up the dead-end granite slab road which is steep and two blocks long. And then it’s another two blocks of steep climbing from the bus to that lower street.

Luckily, taxi’s are so cheap, so most come by them, but 90 percent get lost as this is such a short street and very difficult to find. Good thing for cell phones for the driver usually has to call Zhou to get more accurate directions.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring - more unexpected drop-ins, a quiet day or an unplanned-for sudden invitation to a fancy dinner from someone important. That’s life in China, always expect the unexpected.

Johna's Street Stairs

Johna's Street Stairs 2

Johna's Dead End Hill

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Johna - Nice story and pictures.

You and Zhou will live forever - having to hike up to your home everyday alone, or God forbid, with groceries!- Sandy

Wow! I guess those stairs are what keep you young and slim, but one would hope they would deter unwanted guests.

How fascinating to really hear how life is like in China. It always seems shrouded in mystery. And you give us such nice details, everyday life.
Thank you, keep it up.

Great story as usual.
Please keep writing.

As I have told you many times,Johna, I LOVE your descriptions of life in China.

Things seem so different there EXCEPT that we also have careless parents who don't watch their children while visiting your home.

Enjoyed your tale, as usual.

Oh dear, the little "fountain of youth" brings to mind a two year old brought to our home by a church member while our group worked on a project. No diaper, no pants! "We're training her!" Mama said with a sort of careless wave, and promptly forgot she had offspring (spring being the operative word!). Little wonder fountain carried a large plastic cup of juice and what she didn't spill juice on she peed on. Never was I so happy to see someone go home.


Lucky they didn't give that kid any prune juice the night before. OR DID THEY?

Love the glimpse of China..the visitors, not so much...it must be nice to be oblivious..the pictures added to the travelogue..felt like I was a visitor too..with panties on for sure...

I enjoy the story and pictures of a "slice of life" in China. It is so interesting. I too marvel at all the walking and steps but you two seem to manage any and all difficulties with ease. Thank you.

Nice story love the pics,ten steps to my front door is more than enough. I admire your fortitude.My version of all visitors 'they go off after 3 days' in this case 3minutes way way too much I agree, thank goodness they left the wine for you to drink Johna

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