Archive for September, 2011

Mid-Autumn Festival

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

I was actually quite excited about this outing. It was advertised as a BBQ for Moon Festival, sponsored by the Chinese Christian Fellowship. We were going to Thunderbird Park, a place I’d always wanted to visit since I saw it on the map. It was quite a big turn-out as people waited around for the carpool. When we got there, there were people already grilling meat and we could smell it from far away.

critter alley

While we waited for the food to cook, we explored the lake area. One of the things that stood out to me was the red, red dirt. Someone told me that if you get the dirt stain on you, it will be hard to get off so I was very careful. More than once, I heard people comment on how land and scenery are wide and expansive in Oklahoma. Almost everyone at the BBQ are from China where land is not exactly small. I personally think it has to do with the fact that there are no mountains, just plains as far as the eye can see.

lake thunderbird

Since it was a potluck, most people brought their specialty. I actually did not bring anything because I did not hear the announcement. In any case, there was enough food for everyone at the party. It was yummy, especially the BBQ!

good chinese food

After the meal, we had a time of worship and singing. Not everyone there was a believer, but they joined in the singing. If there is one thing I know about the Chinese, they love to sing, and it showed!

worship

It was a few minutes after our time of singing when we looked back and saw the sun beginning to set. It was as if a hush fell on the group. We just sat there, transfixed on the scene before us. It was beautiful and breathtaking. People sat and watched the scene quietly. Some people held their significant other close by or called them on the phone. Some people, like me, took pictures.

sunset

What’s a Moon Festival without mooncake? It’s one thing to eat mooncake in China during MId-Autumn Festival, and it’s another thing altogether to eat it in Oklahoma. There was something nostalgic about seeing international Chinese students reminisce about the different ways their families prepare mooncakes back in their hometowns, how much it usually cost in the store, traditions they follow, and their favorite kind of mooncake. Personally, I like the kind with the egg yolk in it, like this one:

mooncake

Her name is Echo. After being in China for so long, I’m used to the names and didn’t think twice. She is also in the College of Education and we became fast friends. She and I explored the landscape and strolled around while she took pictures. She has an eye for nature and captured some very dramatic images. I took this picture of us with my phone camera. I like how it turned out.

new friend, echo

Morning Breakfast

Friday, September 9th, 2011

This morning, I had a craving for waffles. Not just any waffle — chocolate waffle! So, with the recipe I had on hand, I whipped one up in a jiffy. I tried to modify this one because when I did it the last time, I remembered that the cocoa powder made it bitter, so I added more sugar.

The consistency was thick enough and I was pleased by how it poured so easily into the waffle iron.

waffle iron

The actual waffles actually look better than this picture, but I just had to take the shot before I wolfed them down. The next day, I added some pureed strawberries into the batter and it was delicious! Somehow, it always seems to taste better when the batter sits in the fridge for a night or two!

alton brown's chocolate waffles

Chinese Corner

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Recently, I started going to a program called Chinese Language Corner. It’s for people who want to learn and practice their Chinese speaking skills. It’s nice to be with other people who are interested in the same thing. I learned that the visiting scholar who organizes the activities is from Beijing Normal University. From talking to him after class, I also learned that his ancestral hometown is the same as my family’s in the Fujian province. Besides language practice, he also gives seminars on Chinese culture. The first lesson was on etymology of the Chinese language.

seminar

I just discovered this private study room in the College of Education building. It’s an enclosed place between the computer lab and the end of a hallway. I spent a few hours doing some last-minute reading here yesterday afternoon.

college of ed study room

Another Flat Tire

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

First, it was the car tire. Now, it’s my bike tire. I was on my way to visit the Education Office when I noticed the flat tire. I tried to pump air into it but it was completely flat, like it had no way of keeping air in. I ended up walking to school. It wasn’t bad at all. I noticed many kinds of interesting insects on the path along the way. I would never have seen them if I had been whizzing past with my bike.

my bike

I knew there was something seriously wrong when I could not pump air into this really flat tire. The last time I saw a flat tire like this was when I was in China. At that time, I simply went to a roadside bike repairman, and for 3 yuan (about 50 cents), he dipped the tube into the water to find out where the hole is, patched it up, sanded it down smooth, and put it back inside the tire. It took about 30 minutes.

totally flat

I brought my bike into the store today to get it patched up like how they did it in China (how naive of me). They said a new tube would cost $5 and the labor would be $8. I asked about patch work. They looked at the tire and said it’s tricky to sand it down because it might split at some point if it’s not done right. They offered me 6 patches for $2 if I would do it myself. Of course, I didn’t take it. I ended up paying the $13 to get the whole tube replaced. In the end, it turned out to be this sharp metal that punctured the tube. It would have been hard to salvage it, anyway.

the culprit

On another note, I went on another baking spree. This time, I baked banana bread to share. Again, my neighbors really appreciated the western dessert. And I brought some to the Education department staff. I chatted with someone who has a daughter-in-law who is half-Filipino and mentioned something about a strong Filipino population in OKC. I asked to be invited to one their gatherings sometime. It would be interesting to connect somehow.

banana bread

Lap Swim

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Besides running, I’ve added swimming into my repertoire of morning exercises. It doesn’t hurt that the complex where I live is just 5 minutes walking distance from the pool area. There are indoor and outdoor swimming pools. Which one to choose at 6:30 a.m.? Hmmm ….

poolside

There was a break in the heat wave this past week, so instead of warm air, the nippy air met me as I walked out the door this morning. I wasn’t freezing but I was afraid I would be after I got out of the water. The lap swim was so refreshing and relaxing. There were not a lot of people. The lifeguard looked bored, actually. The sun had come out by the time I was ready to head back, so it wasn’t as cold as I expected. I have a feeling I’m going to be using this pool a lot!

morning swim

It’s Laundry Day

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Every time I hear the words “laundry day,” I remember Jason Mraz’s opening to “Geek in the Pink.” Just a random thought.

I haven’t been to a laundromat since I was a freshman in UCB. To be doing it at this point in my life seems laughable, but I actually don’t mind it. Most of the time, there’s no one in there. People leave their clothes spinning or drying and come back after the allotted time. Even though it’s located about 10 minutes walking distance from where I live, I usually drive. Besides the heat, it’s a bit awkward to be carrying my loads of laundry along the sidewalk.

laundromat

Instead of putting coins in the slot, there’s card-swiping now using the student ID. I think it’s pretty cool. Most people must have their own washer/dryer because the machines are usually empty. Also, I noticed that the people who use these most often are the Chinese students who live in the same campus apartment.

washers

Speaking of Chinese, this is what I used to do when I was China: hang my clothes to dry. I actually have the choice of using the dryer, but why spend another $1.25 on a load when I can hang them up and they usually dry within 30 minutes? And so, I picked up a $1 bag of clothes pins from Walmart and have gotten into the habit of hanging ’em up to dry. I save the environment and save money, all at the same time. Am I Chinese or what?

dryers

Flat Tire

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

I was at Radio Shack today picking up some batteries when I noticed that my car had a flat on the right rear. It was then that I realized that I didn’t know the first thing about car maintenance. My mind actually went blank.

Sheepishly, I asked the guys in the store if they had advice for me. Maybe because it was a slow day or they were just genuinely nice people, but they went out of their way to explain to me what I needed to do. One of them actually took the time to take a compressor from his car and helped me pump air into the tire. Then, they advised me to go to a tire store about a block away (thankfully) to tell them about the slow leak and to ask for a patch. If they didn’t give me the vocabulary to use, I wouldn’t know what to say, either. So far, I’ve met some of the nicest people during my time here, these guys included. And so, off I went to Firestone.

firestone waiting area

I was in the waiting area less than an hour before they called me in and told me the car was ready. It was quick. The cost wasn’t that bad, either. The experience taught me a little something about cars and a whole lot about Southern hospitality.

good as new