Tea ceremony

In Beijing, after we visited the Temple of Heaven,


we went to an official tea house where we enjoyed a remarkable and pleasant experience.



I don’t remember the details, but I do remember that there were a lot of them (details).



Incredible flowers were involved.



Look what this one does when you pour boiling water on it.



May your weekend include ritual and friendship.


A prediction for publishing, and The Temple of Heaven, Beijing

I don’t make many predictions, I really don’t have any idea, I just kind of go along, but I have this one thought to share. And that is that once print on demand (POD) books come down in price to match mass market, things will change. I don’t know how exactly, but mass market prices for POD books would seem to have many repercussions. Independently published authors like myself for now (meaning independent of the big publishing houses) get their books into print by using POD.

My 2015 prediction is that prices of POD will start to come down in 2015.

What do you think? How do you think it would impact traditional publishing if you could make any book equivalent in price to a paperback on a rack in the grocery-store line?

The panorama picture below shows people enjoying the very long covered walkway in The Temple of Heaven park in Beijing. People were out in droves playing games with their friends. I loved the idea of getting together with friends and playing games like this. What a wonderful lifestyle. Very healthy for the mind, body and spirit. And such a peaceful scene.

Temple of Heaven park
Temple of Heaven park

Have a peaceful weekend with your friends and family.

The Hutongs of Beijing

The Hutongs are the old part of Beijing, quickly disappearing, where you can slip into the past. We took a taxi there, traveling through streets lined with shops and looking quite contemporary, not fancy, but not rundown, lots of restaurants and clothing shops. Then we arrived at the area called the Hutongs.

As old as everything is, there’s a Starbucks near the entrance!




We were wandering along, wide-eyed, wondering how to find a rickshaw driver to take us around, when a very industrious man found us. He had a laminated piece of paper that showed his rickshaw and all the stops on his tour. So we went with him.

He was wonderful. His rickshaw had a little motor, so we didn’t have to feel badly about him peddling large Americans around on his tour. He didn’t speak much English, but what he did speak, he put to good use. “Nice to meet you!” He would say, with a big grin. And “Rickshaw photo!” Then he’d pull over and take our picture with our cameras. We really loved our tour.

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Confections and confessions

Travel was sometimes a feast! For my camera, at least…I never had room after the main course. Well…almost never. I did eat a chocolate cupcake in Hong Kong, but I didn’t take a picture!

Hopefully this will inspire you to make dessert. Today I am going to make two apple pies from the amazing harvest that awaited us upon our return from worldwide travel.

St. Regis Bali
St. Regis Bali
Hotel Icon, Kowloon
Four Seasons Beijing

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Monochrome madness from Beijing

Hello blog followers! Sorry for the long silence. For the part of the trip in Townsville Australia, I was very busy with my co-author’s family…the kids were on school holidays, and we had a lot of playing to do.

Today we are in Queenstown New Zealand. I wish I had my camera out when we flew in, also when we arrived. I was tired as we hadn’t had much sleep, but I did take a phone photo, fortunately, because now it  is raining and you can’t see as much.

Today’s photos are 3 monochrome shots I took in Beijing, some of which will show up in Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness series.

The Forbidden City
The Temple of Heaven
Silver bird outside the hotel
Silver bird outside the hotel
The Beijing TV station
The Beijing TV station


Riding the subway in Beijing

Yes, we did it! We felt safe in Beijing and a Chinese man we met in Sweden said we had to try the subway. We would be amazed at its efficiency. Once we were assured that the signs were also in English, we decided to give it a try. We rode all the way across the city to go to the zoo.


It was a challenge but manageable. It was nice to mix with the locals. We avoided rush hour but even so, the way back was more crowded, because it was around 3:00.

We made one mistake and went the wrong way on the above-ground connecting train. We stepped off at the first station and waited for the train in the opposite direction. I used the opportunity to take pictures out the window, finding it fascinating to see a non-touristy part of Beijing. It was called the Wudaokou Area. Apparently there are three universities in this area including one where Chinese learn other languages and foreigners learn Chinese. It is written about by a native here: http://blogs.transparent.com/chinese/top-10-places-in-beijing-wudaokou/. I was tempted to learn Chinese when I was on the Subway because the recorded voice pronounced the words clearly and I could hear the musicality in the language. It was good to spend a day really concentrating on the language. Who would have thought that a trip on the subway would have been a lesson in Chinese? I asked our guide, the previous day, why they had signs in English. She said for convenience. I asked if it was because there were a lot of American business travelers, and she said, no, it was that they are teaching English in the schools now, and it is a good common language. Anyway, it was interesting to listen to the translations on the subway.


Here are a couple shots from the train station window. Not much, I know, but a little peek at another place.


Yes, we did make it to the zoo, which is pretty. I have a few shots, but I won’t share the ones of the giant pandas, the reason for our trip. These magnificent animals shouldn’t be in zoos. I get depressed every time I go to a zoo because I don’t like seeing wild animals confined. I made an exception to go see these pandas, but I had the same reaction I always have. I think the only place I didn’t have that reaction was the Desert Museum in Tucson.

According to this sign, the preservation of habitat is expanding. I know the reason for zoos is to show people these magnificent animals and that helps people to have the will to protect them in the wild. The children who saw the pandas that day were delighted.


Here is a WWF article about the giant pandas and their work with the Chinese provinces to preserve their habitat: http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/giant_panda/panda/where_panda_lives_habitat/

I think the waterfowl are quite happy, though. For one thing, they aren’t confined. Here is one I thought was pretty.


I decided not to enhance the photo so you would see the smog, which is quite heavy a lot of the time in Beijing.