Slideshow of quilts

Friday, February 14, 2014

Frustrating Day in China

my Tomato over
      Today, as I watched The Pioneer Woman,  Ree Drummond, on, I was frustrated.  I love her blog, I love watching her with her family but when I try to recreate anything I find on the internet,  I find it is meiyo (not available). I have a large toaster oven that sits on my dryer for baking.  I use, said oven, to make my family's bread, cookies, casseroles. It is a great blessing in my life but by it's very nature is limiting in what it allows me to do.  I have a Phillips hand mixer which I use for mixing up frosting. I only it use it for frosting because it won't handle cookie dough or quick bread doughs etc.  I have the great joy of having the beaters pop off in the middle of whatever I am making, no matter how well I seat them before I begin. I brought my measuring cups, measuring spoons and spatulas from America when I moved here.  Every trip I take home I bring back a suitcase full of things to make my life just a little easier in the kitchen. You know the little things, like real vanilla, the imitation stuff just isn't the same. Not that I have found it for sale here in Hangzhou either but I have found a surprising amount of things available and it does grow more each month. A fact for which I am very grateful. It's almost as if the buyers for the stores here, get to peek into the suitcases of the incoming expat's and then stock it on the shelves at usually double or triple what I would have to pay at home.  A very small box of Post Cereal sells for $10 USD, So, it's always a game to me, how much can I cram into a suitcase, and have it only weight 50 pounds! This time I brought my Lodge cast iron, dutch oven.  It didn't leave a lot of weight for other things but is such a blessing to me.  I have two gas burners in the kitchen, there is a high flame setting and higher flame setting. Simmer really isn't a good option. It's great for stir fry and wok cooking but not for much else.  The pans here are usually thin as well, so having a cast iron pot is a large step up for me.

My best tool for cooking here is my electric pressure cooker, it's my crock pot that tenderizes meat!  I love it for making beans and soups, in 30 minutes my meat is tender and we could eat or it will "simmer" for hours like a crock pot. It isn't a good option though for cooking chicken and dumplings!  You really can't boil without building pressure and the pressure ruins the dumplings.  So for those I start in the pressure cooker and finish up carefully on the gas burner with my dutch oven.

As you can see from the picture, my oven sits atop my wonderful Bosch dryer.  The dryer is in my kitchen and washing machine sits on my balcony.  The dryer collects the water in a tank that must be emptied with every load.  It is surprising to me how much water each load of laundry has.  I am very grateful to Bosch for developing a dryer that doesn't have to have a vent to the outside.  There is no way that I could do that here in China conveniently. The dryer was 6500 rmb or about $1100 USD.  Expensive but so helpful, when it rains here there is no drying the clothes.

Today, we have a high of 45 degrees, with a low of 32. Over the past week and a half we have averaged a high of 39 degrees, during this time our heater has only worked sporadically. When it first began to fail, we found out about it from our downstairs neighbors.  I guess it was making quite a bit of noise and they wanted us to turn it off because the noise bothered them. (This China where it is never quiet, horns are always beeping, people talk very loudly, fireworks go off day and night, and did I mention this was the week of Chinese New Year where fireworks go off more than normal?) They came to demand that we turn our heat off at 10 pm. We told them sorry, we weren't going to go without heat overnight but that we would do our best to have it fixed first thing in the morning. First thing in the morning, David goes down with our friend Kimber to see about getting the heater fixed. Our neighbor is there ahead of him, demanding that management cut the heat to our apartment (good thing Kimber speaks Chinese or of course we wouldn't know any of this). Dave requests management send up their maintenance man to repair our heater.  Turns out the maintenance man has been given 3 weeks off for Chinese New Year and won't be returning until the 15 of February.  Oh Joy! Manager promises Dave that he will find someone else to repair it and not to leave our apartment so they can get in to fix it.  We miss church to stay home a wait for the repair man to show.  During one of trips to walk my dog (my 26 and 24 year old sons were waiting in the apartment for repair man). We come back to find said manager and downstairs neighbor turning off the power to our apartment! That did not go well, we spent the next three hours arguing with our neighbors and the apartment manager about "living the Chinese way" in other words, having no heat in a concrete box with high winds and thin panes of glass.  Because after all, better that we freeze than they have to listen to noise.

Suddenly, the neighbor remembers that he knows a man who can repair our furnace. 100 rmb later, the noise stops, oh joy, neighbor leaves, they are happy, the noise has stop, we are freezing and do so for the next four days, while my husband's company tries to track down a repair man for our heater.  Yesterday, a repairman does show up, 350 rmb later one of the heaters is working, the house actually begins to warm up, but I am realizing I may be cold for the rest of my life... Once you get that chilled it's very difficult to get rid of, only to wake up this morning to find that our heater has once again stopped working.  What I have learned from this experience.

  1. Don't trust your Chinese neighbor to find a repair man for you, he only cares about getting his needs met. It doesn't bother him at all that you are freezing.
  2. Repair men here will only do the bare minimum to repair said problem, they won't bring proper tools and their response to everything is meiyo. (I am so hating that word)
  3. Live on the ground floor, that way you won't panic when sons and husband try to fix the problem.
My life is definitely an adventure.  I am so grateful for heating blankets, the only source of heat I have had for the last week.


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