East meets west


Oh, man!  So much to catch up on.  Been down a week and a half. May even still be down!  Don’t know.  Half the site reports ‘clean’ and other half still verboten.  Reader wrote to report that ‘all is good on the west coast front!’.  We’ll see.

Firstly – the Chinese have invaded!  Every year we receive a group or two of Chinese students from my friend, Dennis.  He is their ‘sponsor’ and the ‘cheese’ of the school he supports in Hong Kong.  The place where my daughter and her fiancé are now teaching.  Where Sal and I have taught in years past.  Last year, Ms Wong came with the students and she liked it so much that she chose to come again.  Ms Wong likes kayaking and chopping wood. I am sure that she likes listening to music and taking long quiet walks on the beach, too.  But it is the chopping of wood that she can’t resist.  She’s a machine!

This year we have Serena, Helen, Chung and Ms Wong.  All three students are from mainland China.  They all grew up in several small villages and they learned to speak in their local dialect.  When they went to primary school, they had to learn Cantonese (as different from their mother dialect as southern Appalachian is from English-as-it-is-spoke on Haida Gwaii).  And, when they went to middle school, they had to learn English and Putinawah (or Mandarin which is not similar at all to Cantonese).  By the time these kids are reading Dick and Jane and Spot and Puff, they have had four separate languages to master.

Admittedly, they are masters of only one (and I have no idea which one it might be) and are unfettered manglers of English.  We are often challenged to ‘get’ what they mean.  Last night at dinner, Helen remarked that she loved all the smiles.  We all did.  So we dutifully smiled at her.  And so she did so to us, too.  But, after a pause, it seemed to her that we didn’t get it so she told us again that she loved the smiles.  And, feeling admired and praised for our beauty, Sally and I smiled some more.  And Helen politely smiled again in return.  And we looked at each other (as if the other was mad!).  Finally, Helen sniffed the air and said, “I love the smiles!”

“You mean SMELLS!” said Ms Wong.  And so we all laughed.

I am also teaching them to do some carpentry.  We are building a simple outdoor table.  But, of course, even a simple table requires thought, planning, measuring and imagining the product in your head so that you can first virtually build it without cutting the wood.  As we go through each step, they are impressed with the complexity.  “Oh this is so much mess!”

“Excuse me?!”

“So much mess!”

While it is true that I tend to work in a disorganized manner and mess is an inevitable outcome for me, at the time I was thinking that everything was quite orderly.  In fact, I was pretending hard to be organized so that they might learn good work habits.  So, I pursued it.  Seems Helen had no idea that so much MATH was involved in carpentry and so she was remarking on all the mess…..er…..math.

And, so it goes as we get to know each other.  It is kinda fun.

But the best part of yesterday was the whales.  Yep!  A large pod (12+) came up and cavorted about our front yard for over half an hour.  Tails flapping, body rolls, snorts, half-leaps (Orcas are pretty big.  They leap high as often as I do) and a lot of, well, cavorting.  Whale gamboling.  Playing around.  It was great and the kids were thrilled.  Later in the day, the whales came back for a brief encore (politely introduced by Fiddich who heard them coming and ran to tell us – otherwise they might have gotten away while we were all inside making dinner).  Whales are impressive but dogs trained to be whale-lookouts is no small sight for them either!

Yeah, east meets west and the fun is just beginning…………..



3 thoughts on “East meets west

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