Hi everybody! *waves* It's been ages since I posted here, especially at anything like regular intervals. Please accept my apologies. Life has been, well, interesting, to say the least. I've been teaching, working, involved with a spoken word performance group, and in late May, I discovered I was going to China for four weeks spanning July and August to teach ESL.I just got back August 13th and have been out with back problems since then, but I wanted to get back in the saddle here at Blogorrhea, at least briefly.
The China trip was amazing, to say the least. The beautiful thing about travel, even if you're going abroad to teach, is that you always learn at least as much as you teach, especially on a trip like this. I may not have learned a lot of Chinese language (just hello, thank-you, and the word for beer so far), but I made some wonderful friends and had the chance to observe China from the inside, less as a tourist than as a resident. That's my favorite way to travel, and it's generally impossible in a place where you're both illiterate and unable to speak the language, but I was privileged to have some gracious and kind interpreters from Harbin Institute of Technology (China's MIT) and experienced some marvelous moments as a result. If you're interested, you can read more about my trip starting here on my (other) blog, Dowsing, and see the pictures at my Flickr account.
One of the things I did was visit the Harbin Art and Culture center, which was a kind of mini-mall for artists, and met a couple of painters and calligraphers. From Teacher Tang, I bought 100 sheets of beautiful handmade paper; she then took me over to another store to buy ink sticks and an ink stone. Several days later, I went back to buy some calligraphy too (which is now out for framing; I'll post pictures of that when it comes back). The large ink stick was about $10 and smells heavenly of pine, which is what it's made of (pine soot). The smaller ones were about $1.50, but they'll all last a long time. I've finally gotten hold of a Chinese calligraphy book by Yat-Ming Cathy Ho, called The Chinese Calligraphy Bible: The essential illustrated guide to over 200 beautiful characters. Teacher Tang very kindly offered to tutor me via the Chinese IM program qq.com, but I don't have a camera on my computer set up yet and the time differential is pretty formidable (12 hours). She did show me how to hold the brush and how to grind the ink. Most of my instruction so far has been courtesy of a wonderful teacher on YouTube, Yang Haiying, from whom I learned about ink sticks and ink stones too.
She has many, many more useful videos, so if you're interested in Chinese calligraphy, silk painting, , definitely take a look. When I get going, I'll share my efforts with you. But I have a bunch of books to make before then, and some blogs to keep up with. So I hope I'll be posting more often now. Stay tuned!