Enter the Dragon’s Lair: Part 3 – Halloween in China

I am sure that over the years much has changed in China when Halloween comes swooping in. Unfortunately I believe it is most likely not for the good. Western celebrations, if we count Halloween as a celebration, do tend to be carried out to a level of craziness I have not seen at home. The following is the story of why I will never offer to do anything for the day unless I am either paid exceedingly well or have helpers chained to me to do my bidding – preferably both.

My daughter likes Halloween so I did a bit of decorating

The day was October 31, 2001, Xin Cun, Guangdong, China. Halloween 🎃. I have a vague memory of a white pumpkin, or possibly it was green. The following are from the crypt archives. Cue the spooky music – I think I played Monster Bash first. Sadly, no pictures were taken. I hope everyone has a marvellously crazy Halloween! Time to read the Monkey’s Paw again.

It was indeed a Monster Bash!  500 students is a lot. 
We set up three stations with apples hanging from
poles to have apple bobbing which meant everyone was sitting in
a large three deep circle.   I put candles at each station, we had some “scary” music, turned out the lights and told a scary story.  This meant reading by candlelight. To this day I am surprised there was not a fire!After each sentence, read slowly and with what I hope was a relatively spooky voice, another teacher translated. Like the mists of October much most likely went over their heads but the translations had enough of the creepiness that students listened.  
I walked around the room – a good size auditorium- and would approach a student to
emphasize things. My two younger daughters wandered behind the students and
would say BOOOO! every now and then.  Great spooky effects.After that things were a bit crazy!  My junior students were the ones most interested in doing apple bobbing. My youngest would try to pick students from
different classes but they were mostly unwilling.  We had about 200 students try bobbing for apples then I handed out the remaining apples. It is no small feat to tie up a couple hundred apples!
Unfortunately none of the teachers “helping” actually helped!  This meant I had to keep telling the students to sit down before I would give them anything.  The candy was another story!!!  One of my daughters was so incensed at how rude, in her view, everyone was and lost her voice from yelling at them! One would think these kids did not get fed. I swore that if I ever do anything like that again I will insist on having more time in the one day and doing each class separately. 
I already knew that was possible after putting on a great Halloween party I with other English teachers at a different school a year or so earlier. We even had a moving, talking mummy! (We wrapped my youngest up in toilet paper, she was laid out on a table and would rise when given the cue. As each class came in separately through one door then out the other end there was no chance of warning other students. That was a major success.
Originally I was going to do things in each classroom but that would have meant two or three days of Halloween!  I had 7 classes, each 40 mins. I really didn’t want to take that long for what is supposed to be a one day activity and setting it up would have been a logistical nightmare.

Urban Walk: Christmas Eve (daytime)

A friend had shared a photo of a Christmas tree at Esquimalt Lagoon a few days earlier – one of those days when the rain held off. I had not been there for ages and thought this would be a perfect afternoon walk.

The only thing marring an otherwise enjoyable 30 minutes was all the off leash dogs playing on the beach. Perhaps that is allowed. Rather than leap away whenever one approached me I headed back to the relative safety of the curb side where cars park. I am happy to say I still enjoyed the ocean, the driftwood art ready for the holiday and the camaraderie of strangers also out for strolls. Even the dogs. (The captions are all mine) I never did find the tree.

You will enjoy Christmas.
You forgot the presents!?
Really, really, really! I really saw Santa!
Is this dressy enough?
Can I, can I, can I? Oh please can I open my stocking now? (Upper right)
Oh yes, this really does set off my feathers nicely.
Dinner will never be ready!
Where?
Bah, humbug!

As I was walking on the lagoon I spotted a gaggle of family. Two cars, both laden down with gifts, all passengers wearing their requisite masks. It was a distanced gift exchange! We are all doing our best to cope with what has been a very challenging year.

Driving home I heard the unmistakable vroom, vroom of a big motorcycle that then stopped at a stop sign, was that Santa riding to catch his sleigh? Beard and hair flowing as he sped off to the honks of ecstatic drivers. A fitting end to my Christmas Eve walk.

Urban Walk: Oceanside discovery

We tend to get a lot of rain leading up to Christmas, and beyond. Which is fine by me as I really do not enjoy snow and the cold. However, rain usually means no lovely Oceanside walks. Today was shaping to be the one day of the week the sun might make an appearance and I was not about to waste it!

My first stop before heading to town was for a coffee – no real (lactose free) milk for my morning cup was not going to put my in a bad mood. We have a Starbucks barely a five minute walk away. I drove, parked, went inside and ordered a flat white. A lovely drink for my roughly 30 minute drive. I collected my sister and off we went. Today she was able to go farther after a nasty fall a week ago – going for a walk with me. We decided to tackle the longer board and cement walk along the water.

We both made sure to use the treads on the boardwalk sections! The ocean crashing on the shore churned up quite a wake. However, the weather held to present us with glimpses of sunshine. And then a glint flashed off the bushes ahead of us. Someone had decorated the various bushes for all to enjoy!

All we need was a bench to sit down and enjoy
Like shiny, plump plums!
An invitation to all. I have a great school bell – will you ring in the magic on the 24th?
Kitten has lost her mittens? A kind soul tacked these to a lamp post.

Maybe ‘[she] found her mittens’. I was very tempted to claim them for me! However, that would have been a very Scrooge move, or for those who are younger than me, the Grinch, before they both grew hearts.

After a round trip walk of about six kilometres (part way back my sister informed me she had been ready to turn around much sooner) we went grocery shopping (for my sister and one of my daughters). I feel a bit like an elf.

Urban Walk: a rainy morning

Still wanting to get out for fresh air, and still allowed to, I made the decision to keep many of my walks nearby rather than driving ten minutes to one of the few trails nearby. Although we cannot travel we can enjoy our neighbourhoods.

One of those trails is tantalizing close. I have been waiting for the connector to finally open up to join two trails that will mean avoiding traffic on narrow streets without sidewalks.

Next to the defunct E&N Rail. The fence was down – an end in sight? It was the weekend which meant no work.

One bonus to walking in my neighbourhood is actually the density. There are all sorts of stores, cafes, restaurants and even a small library one can visit. Many are local businesses.

This one is closed for renovations. Waiting behind this bin for a grande or venti might be a test of patience. (For a Starbucks fix there are three more about a 10 – 15 minute walk away.

I would not be surprised if some caffeine deprived drivers tried to line up here.

More West Coast November: a wander through James Bay

On my last day looking after my daughter’s cat, before going home to my two, I took advantage of the foggy yet fairly decent morning to walk along the coastline pathways. So many people think the west coast of Canada is too grey in the fall and winter – I say they are not looking for the gems. Although I have not left the island, nor gone beyond Greater Victoria, I can find so much to enjoy.

Fisherman’s Wharf. The always popular, colourful mix of houseboats and fishing boats where you can find eateries, artists, kayaks to rent, music, hopeful seals seeking a handout (I believe no longer allowed) and a mix of visitors. Mirror clear.
Art installation?
I have no idea if the bits and pieces were added before this stump washed up on our shores or if someone saw its potential. I love the tide surrounding the base.

West Coast November: revisiting stomping grounds

Autumn on Vancouver Island, Although we may not get the colours of Eastern and Atlantic Canada when we hit November the temperature hovers around 10 C and higher, the sun was out and it was time to visit the beach and kick up some leaves. Toque, gloves, scarf added to my daily walking attire and I was ready. There are times when family stuck in Ontario pine for such days, particularly when they have snow. I send photos.

The sun was out, the sky a lovely blue, Mount Baker was peeking out across the water. Everyone and their dog were enjoying the beach while still maintaining friendly distancing. It was actually busier than some warmer days. I was astonished to see one brave soul actually swimming! (We watched to ensure they were not waving frantically for help)

My sister had joined me, Willows Beach was our starting point with Cattle Point our destination before turning around. An easy 3 km walk with some adventurous clambering over rocky outcroppings for closer views. Just as we were about to turn back a flotilla of 26 sailboats rounded the safe harbour of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club to make the morning perfect.

After I had lunch I went for a bit of a down memory lane afternoon walk. Still a gorgeous day out. This was my weekend away. Cat sitting for my daughter in a part of the city I rarely wander about anymore. I even managed to get in another 4 km. Exploring your own backyard is good for the soul.

Mountain Baker (in the U.S.)
Driftwood fort tucked away. Too dangerous for me to get a better angle.
Kicking up the leaves. (Perimeter of Beacon Hill Park)
Clinging on high above everyone.
(It was a bit of a stretch to take the picture)