Friday, October 25, 2013

So I Dropped My iPhone in a Canal

Picture an idyllic Beijing day with crisp autumn air and the rare bright blue sky.  The grandparents are visiting so we’ve taken the day to enjoy the Summer Palace, the centuries old escape from the bustle of the city.  We walk where emperors once strolled, round the lake ringed with graceful willows. 

Grandparents delight the kids with a boat ride.  

We make our way through back canals lined with quaint shops/tourist traps.  Grandma is happy to oblige her granddaughter’s love of all things princess. 

We continue to make our way along the canal, careful to keep the kids away from the railing-less edge that drops four feet to the water.  I snap a few pictures on my phone, trying to capture the kids with the Chinese storybook backgrounds.  

Suddenly my chilled fingers fumble, phone slipping from my hand.  A frantic swiping motion only succeeds in making it bounce, pell-mell, tumble, bumble, slow motion horror, right over the edge into the murky water below. 

My father-in-law across the canal hears me shout, turns and snaps a picture, thus capturing my forehead-slapping anguish, my full-faced grimace.  

As with anyone who loses a phone, my mind races to all that is lost.  I feel incredible guilt over all the trouble my dear husband went through to get me this phone, searching for a good price, getting it all legally unlocked for use in China.  This is, no joke, my first smart phone, the only phone we’ve actually spent money on (an iphone 4s if you must know).  I am, of course, all ready completely dependent on it, and berating myself for not going with the waterproof case.   

We can actually see the phone sitting at the bottom of the canal.  I rush to a shopkeeper nearby, asking if she has anything to scoop it out.  She tells us to wait.

Ellie is at this point in tears, so upset for me.  I try to calm her (and myself) down a bit while we wait.  It would feel utterly wrong not to try to get it out, but, we lament, what good will a completely submerged phone be if we can get it out?  Still I refuse to give up hope (sometimes beyond reason), and a prayer pleads in my heart.   

We wait and wait, the chance of recovery growing dimmer by the minute. 

Finally, this guy comes paddling up the canal, rowing with the rescue net. 

By this time a crowd has gathered.  I’m pushed to the back as everyone points out the phone to the rescuer. 

He scoops it up along with a good glob of scummy muck.  But there, peering through the slime and leaves is a screen glowing with Aiden's smirking face.

Yes, after fifteen minutes completely submerged on the bottom of a canal, my phone is working.

Oh, happy, happy day.
We notice a bit later that the camera has fogged up.  So we go home, put it in a box of rice for 24 hours, and wa-la, camera is good as new.

There’s no explaining it really.  The case clearly said it wasn’t waterproof. 

So I’m just going to accept the gift, add it to my thankful list – my iphone miracle.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Then and Now, a Photo Series

I thought it would be fun to do a little "Then and Now" photo comparison from when we lived in China before.  One of the reasons we were thrilled to be back in Beijing was that we have a history with people here.  It's a new home in a new location at a new school, BUT we're able to be with friends, former students, and teammates that we've known for years. I can't tell you how good it feels to move to a new place and already be known.  Here's a little taste.  

Aiden and his buddy then...

And now...

This is one of my favorite pictures ever.  Ellie and her best Chinese friend, Missy, with baby Aiden.  Then...

And now... Aiden was not about to hold still for this, and clearly, Missy was "not impressed."  

I had to put this one in for pure cuteness.  Ellie at the Beijing Zoo with her favorite, cotton candy.  Then...

And now...

When I was pregnant with Ellie, we went to her ultrasound to find out her gender.  Our teammates waited for the news, wanting to know if their daughter, Sydney, would have a best friend or boyfriend.  Turns out, it was a best friend! Baby Ellie on the left with Sydney.  Then...

And now...  Makes my heart happy that Ellie has a friend that spans all the change in her life.  

Ellie has always had a connection with "Uncle" William.  Then...

And now...

The guy on the right was my student during our training class our very first month in China back in 2006.  We became friends with his family, and his twin sister became my language tutor.  CRAZY that these kids are now grown, graduated, have jobs, and she’s married.  So fun to watch them go through these life phases over the last seven years.  Then...

And now...  Aiden was a big fan of her husband, likely overwhelmed him a bit.  The young couple was planning to have a baby in the near future.  After an evening in our home, I think they may have changed their minds.

This is where we had our last meal before leaving China in June 2011.  This restaurant, nicknamed "The Green Umbrella" was near where we stayed when Aiden was born, meaning we ate LOTS of take-out from this place, which we didn’t mind since the food is a-mazing.  I dream about their lemon chicken.  The restaurant then...  

and now...

or at least where the restaurant used to be, knocked down into a pile of dirt for Beijing’s next building project.  The rate at which Beijing is building, expanding, is really quite astounding.  Housing prices have tripled, yes, tripled in just the two years since we’ve been gone.  (Thankfully, our school provides our apartment!) It’s all about the demand.  Across the world’s most populous country, everyone wants to move to the city.  Beijing is the crowning capital city, offering the best in education and jobs, creating the current population of over 20 million, and a city under constant re-construction.  And now, tragically, no lemon chicken.

So there you have a taste of the change between then and now.  

I'm planning to do a blog post showing people our home here.  Check back for the grand tour!  But I'm curious to know what people are interested in seeing or reading about our life here.  Leave a comment and let me know!

ALSO...lots of work has been going on behind the scenes.  Exciting news coming about Velvet Ashes!!