Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas 2011

My Christmas season began with a cookie baking and decorating afternoon.

The smell of gingerbread is always one of the lovely things about Christmas.
Nothing like candy and cookies!!
Just one finishing touch to make it perfect!
On Christmas Eve we had Jill's parents plus one of our teachers and all of us in our
little place.  Darrell, Jill's dad had the honor of carving the turkey!!

Rachel has picked out her own dress  and was very cute!
Drawing dinosaurs!
Kylie, Blaine and Darrell. 

Jill and her mom Darlene.
She's got them mesmerized!
Pillow fight with Uncle Kylie!
Reading the Christmas story.  Grandpa had extra help this year!!
Because of the size of our space we broke up gift giving.  The grand kids each unwrapped two
 presents at our house, and the rest at their own homes.
Snuggling with grandma Darlene.
Kylie, Jocelyn and Rachel.
Needs a little help from dad.
What did you get?
Admiring Rachel's camera.
Keegan is wearing out.  This celebrating is exhausting!
Ready to head home!

Present opening at Kylie and Jocelyn's.
Reading a story with Rachel's new leap frog books.

Kylie now has his own grill pan!!
Rachel and her new bug light.

Christmas Day. 
Opening her Christmas bag!
We started Christmas Day by sharing a birthday cake for Jesus that Rachel and
Jocelyn made.  We then took a bus and headed out to Ryan and Jill's for
gift opening with them.

Wow, a castle with men and horses and everything!!

This was the hit of the day!!!

Even dad got into playing! 
Jill was thrilled with her new computer!
They spent most of the day playing with their castle.
Ryan loved his new suspension seat for his bike!
Keegan helping grandpa with our family picture jig saw puzzle. (l've already finished it and it's
 hanging on the wall)
Helping grandpa Darrell.
Modeling their Chinese kimonos!
Keegan picked out earrings for Jill! 
Kylie and Jocelyn arrived just in time to help put up the new tent!
Loved crawling through the tunnel. 
Jill, Ryan, Keegan, and Hunter.  They are excited to be welcoming a new little one in July.
  I only hope it arrives before we have to leave!
Christmas Day coming to an end. 
The weather was chillier than normal for here, but one hardy soul is still wearing his shorts!! 
Barbecued hamburgers on Christmas Day hit the spot! 
Plastic animals are a big hit with the younger set!
Wonder what mischief these two are planning?
We had a great Christmas together with our family, friends and grandchildren.  We trust you too had a special blessing celebrating this wonderful time of year. 
As we look back over the last year and then into the future New Year, we can say with the Psalmist
 " if l rise on the wings of dawn,
 If l settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast"
We are so thankful it doesn't matter what side of the world you live on, God knows where you are
and is there to comfort, guide, protect, heal and love you no matter the circumstances.
Happy New Year to each one of you!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jade, Marble and The Sacred Way

Jade has been used in China practically since China began.  It is prized for its durability, musical qualities,
translucent colors and its protective qualities.  It was thought to prevent fatigue and delay
the decomposition of the body.  Jadeite contains an iron component which appears red, chromium that
appears green, and many other colored types and is very hard.  Known as the "king of jade", it is usually the most expensive and the type that jewelry is made from.  Nephrite jade can also be divided into different classifications according to color: white, grey, green, topaz and black.  Apparently the black comes from deeper in the ground, according to our guide at the store. There are various areas in China which produce jade and each one has its own varieties, but the jade from Nanyang also produces
 colors like red, purple and blue which are rare.

Isn't this ship the most incredible looking piece of art!! The hours it must have taken to carve this.
To me jade was green and l never thought it was any other color, but you see a lot of white jade here.
You can acquire pretty much any kind of statue or piece of art work you want, made from what ever grade you can afford.
I'm afraid there wasn't much we could have afforded in this store.  Most of these big pieces are bought by
corporations or collectors.

This lady was demonstrating the grinding tool used to make one of these balls.
I liked these balls.  I can't remember what they were called, but they represented family and how you were intertwined.  It's made from a solid piece and there are three separated rings inside and each piece moves independently.  Each ring is carved with designs.  There were ones made by students and ones by the master carvers.  I bought a student made one!!!  Much cheaper and still pretty.
This eagle was magnificent. How do you know if jade is the real deal?  Chinese believe jade is a living
stone and if held up to a strong light and you can see flecks of stuff in it, it may be real!!  Also each type has a specific density but you'd need to know how to measure for that.  Real jade also has a certain sound
like with crystal but you can't always tell by the either, so the only way to know if its real is to have
an expert check it out.  Real pieces come with an authentication certificate.
Highly polished horse.
I'm not really sure but l think this is a giant bok choy!
Exquisite panels.
To me jade should still be green!!!
This bear didn't do it for me either, but look at the price tag!!!  That's about $21,000 Cad.
They had a lot of marble vases that l could have easily taken home, but alas they too were
 way out of reach!!
The Ming Tombs are a few miles out of Beijing, and although we didn't have time to
see them, l wanted to see the Sacred Way which leads to the actual tombs.
Marble Memorial Arch in front of the entrance.  It was built in 1540 and is the largest of its
kind in China.
Dallas and our guide David in front of the Stele pavilion.  Inside is a giant 50 ton tortoise which has a dragon head and is carrying a stone with  the names of the Emperors buried at the site.
One of the stone carved steles that are on either side of the gate.  There are 4 of these, one on each
corner of the pavilion.  Each of the mythical beasts on top are facing in a specific direction.

Beginning of the Sacred Way or also called the Spirit Way.  It is lined with 24 pairs of marble statues
of animals, and mythical Chinese beasts.  This hexagonal column is carved with
a cloud design and has an identical one on the other side.

A lion apparently!
Now this one l know!

The trees foliage was very pretty.
Each statue is carved from a single stone.
We had to have a picture with the same elephant that Mao had his taken with!!

Mao and cohorts visiting.
These statues have been here for 500 years, leading the way to the tombs.

They don't look very large until you stand beside them.  There are 24 animals, two  kneeling and
two standing.
Love this guys eyebrows!!

  After the animals come the humans and there are 12
people and they represent a funeral cortege of the Emperor, made up of
civil, military and officials.

End of the 4 mile Way.  Guarded by a Qilin which has scale's on the body, a cows tail, deer hooves 
and  horns on its head.  Isn't he lovely!!!

Looking from the end back towards the entrance.  Aren't the trees magnificent?

Heading to the final gate.
The Dragon - Phoenix Gate.  Beyond this is the Seven Arch Bridge and then you go further into the mountain to where the tombs are.  We didn't have time to go there but the Sacred Way was lovely
and serene.