SONYA’S HOUSE: Day 153, Wednesday January 29 2014


There is a constant supply of hot water. A kettle is kept boiling on the stove all day long, the water poured and stored in large thermoses that keep it hot for long period of time. The table this morning was covered in red banners and pictures. We’re only two days away now from Chinese New Years, and all the red is meant to bring luck and keep away the demons.


The sun is hidden behind a thick layer of clouds and the wind has picked up. It is very cold outside so we are glad to have walls around us. Paige was zipping back and forth across the living room on a child sized scooter when we got up. Looked like she was having a good time. We had grasshoppers and bean sprouts along with steaming bowls of rice pudding for dinner. Leftovers from previous meals are stored in the cupboard, and then brought back out for the next meal. I guess it must be cold enough in the house to stop the food from spoiling. The grasshoppers are much like the cicadas, only more crunch and less meat. They’re like chips!

We hung up the banners after breakfast. I had to jump up and down to keep warm, “No foreigners allowed,” I pretended to read “Oh no, we can’t go through!” Nate and I pretended to be held back by and invisible force.

We hung a banner on the traditional chinese bathroom, so we’ll now have demon-free poops, and one on the bedroom walls for demon-free sleeps. We also hung them up on the front gates, front of the house, and on the big wooden gates that lead to the main house area we put up pictures of immortals: the guardians. We still have a stack to go up at Sonya’s sister’s house.

We had chicken for lunch, it was delicious, though a little stringy. Halfway through the meal a man showed up at the house and everyone rushed away leaving their food half eaten! Apparently there was a cow for sale and they all wanted to go see it.


The roosters are gone… I’m afraid they’ve joined their friends at the neighbour’s house. Later in the day one of the roosters returned, sans feathers. He’s hanging on the line above his former pen. Sonya’s father returned from the market with three fish and a giant pig shank. New years will be a feast indeed!

We had hot pot for dinner. Sonya’s sister had bought a giant bag of different shaped meat pieces the day we’d arrived, and today we figured out what they were for: hot pot. It was an adventure biting into them because you could never be quite sure what you were eating…

We once again ended the night in Sonya’s parent’s bedroom on their heated bed weaving straw strands for rice hats. Sonya’s parents showed us Paige’s children’s day video (a celebrated holiday in China. The children often put on a performance at their school for the occasion). The video was pretty adorable, but what was even cuter was the live performance she gave us beside the T.V. As she followed the steps of each dance preformed. “She likes to dance,” I commented.

Yes she does,” agreed Sonya.

Ni na?” (and you).

Yes, but now I think I’m too fat!”

I looked at Sonya, a tiny twig of a woman with just enough meat on her to make her beautiful, “In Canada you would not be fat!” I laughed.

Uh!? How come?”

Well because Canadians have more fat on them… bigger butts, bigger boobs, easier to get a belly.” she laughed when I gestured to my boobs, “We think Chinese people are very skinny.”

Uh!? What? I don’t think so!” she laughed.

From sun up to sun down Sonya’s family are busy: washing laundry (by hand),doing farm work, preparing food. As we watched the dance performance we were all weaving hats, except for Sonya’s sister who was chopping meat for dumplings. I learned that Sonya’s mother sells each strand of weaved straw for less then 1 RMB. A lot of work for very little money if you ask me.

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