Winter Has Arrived

The first week of December, not 12 weeks since the humidity index was 120 degrees, Beijing was at 10 degrees and windy. There's a reason weather isn't mentioned in Beijing's Chamber of Commerce blurbs.

Griff On Stage

At our language school's Christmas party (yes...it was as wild as it sounds), Griff was recruited to juggle for the crowd. Apples were the only suitable objects available and Griff stepped up without hesitating in spite of the invitation's being a surprise.

Swimming In -8 Degrees F

The swimmers of Harbin, in northern China, are crazy. A group of about 10 swims every day of the year and it gets colder that the -8F we had. They hammed it up and were in no rush to get out. (This is the river where, several weeks before, the widely reported Benzene spill shut down the city's water supply.)

Snow Sculptures In Harbin

A companion exhibition to Harbin's famous ice buildings (see below) was a series of sculptures made entirely from snow. Unlike the ice structures, which are built from large ice blocks, the snow sculptures had remarkable detail. We think that is Sophie bundled up to Andy's left.

Famous Harbin Ice Sculptures

Everyone should go to Harbin (northeast of Beijing between North Korea and Russia) to see these ice structures once...no sign of global warming here.

Standing On Ice Steps

The scale of these buildings and the lights embedded in the ice is hard to describe...it would be fascinating to see these under construction.

Looking Out Over The Ice City

Sophie had the warmest hat in town. Although she wasn't sure about the fashion statement, its utility was unquestioned. This is the best panorama we have of the buildings...it just happens to have our two favorite kids in the foreground.

If Only We Liked Scotch

The setting...a snow cave with all furnishings (bar, stools, shelves...even the glass we drank from) made from ice...was sublime. Too bad we can't stand the taste of scotch.

Volleyball Champions

Sophie's 7th grade volleyball team won first place in the season-finishing tournament, after a very exciting final.

Chinese New Year

It's the year of the Dog. Not clear why that is celebrated by men in make-up walking on stilts, but it is all part of the fun of Chinese New Year...the one holiday when the Chinese really cut loose.

More Year Of The Dog

(Unrelated to this picture)...after 11 years, the ban on fireworks in downtown Beijing was lifted. Not sure why...there's no indication things are suddenly safer. Six straight evenings/nights/early mornings of fireworks throughout the city. No concerns about buildings, cars, and sleeping Americans were evident.

Riding Ice Bikes

Needless to say, everything that was water in Beijing is now ice, so ice activities have taken over. These were novel and fun adaptations of a bicycle that we rode around one of Beijing's lakes

Obligatory Painted Cow Picture

Taking inspiration from the famous painted cows on Michigan Ave in Chicago, one Beijing's parks has cows painted by each of the EU countries. This one (for Holland) is included because of the devilish horns (from another cow in the background) that appear perfectly on Griff's head. Coincidence? I think not.