Forbidden City

We're in Beijing today. I lost the internet in Ya'an where the pandas are so I will have to fill you in another day. It was quite an experience.

Today we went to the Forbidden City. Many years ago I had read Pearl Buck's books on China, including her Nobel Prize book, "The Good Earth." The Forbidden City that she had written about was as grand as I had imagined it from her descriptions. The huge courtyards where the concubines had gathered, the courtyard in front of the Emperor's Official Palace where people came with business The long buildings with the high pitched rooves painted in gold. The interiors are painted in magnificent bright colors with red columns.

I loved the story of the Dowager Empress. She and  Wife #2 ruled the young emperor. They sat on a high throne behind him, a curtain separating them from the prince, but thin enough for him to hear them tell him what to do and say. We were able to peer into the throne rooms and see the two thrones, a larger one for two separated from one in front of it.

The Imperial gardens where the concubines walked were charming with huge stones piled to create fascinating sculptures.

I am closing now. We go to Chinese opera tonight and I need to memorized who the various characters are.







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    Carolyn Boiarsky

    " I am an American," but not "Chicago born" like Augie March. Only Chicago aged. I'd like to think that if Henry Louis Gates were to investigate my geneology, he would discover in my past three women who traveled around the globe, chronicling their adventures. Sarah Kemble Knight traveled 112 miles by carriage from Boston to New York in 1704, a journey most women did not embark on alone (and men did so only with some trepidation). In fact, women were only just beginning to exercise their independence in the 1920's when Emily Kimbrough took off with her friend, Cornelia Otis Skinner, to explore Europe. But it is Auntie Mame, transforming herself from a New Yorker to the wife of an Austrian Baron and climbing the Matterhorn, whose mantra I have adopted. "LIFE IS A BANQUET...LIVE!" I began travelling in the 1960's when I traveled around western Europe between graduating from the Univiersity of Pennsylvania and my first job as a statehouse correspondent for UPI (United Press International) in Charleston, West Virginia, which was about as foreign a place as Europe was to someone who grew up in the environs of Philadelphia. Since then, I've also traveled to Kaunas, Lithuania, to teach at Vytautus Magnus University and to Sheffield, England, to present a paper at an engineering conference. I've been to the Alps and seen Auntie Mame's Matterhorn while climbing, by a series of cable cars rather than by foot, toward the peak of Mont Blanc. For 10 years my husband and traveled to unique places: a sheep farm during lambing season in England's Lake Country, a hotel on one of the Barromeo Islands in the middle of Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy, and a cottage in Dun Quin on the Dingle Peninsula which the Irish claim is the last parish before Boston. Between excursions, I'm a professor in the Department of English at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Indiana,. My husband passed away recently and, Auntie Mame-style, I am in the process of transforming myself. I've joined a tour to Central Asia and traveled to China to work with the pandas. This year I'm on my way back to Europe--Inreland, England, and France--to present a paper at a Conference and then visit friends. A new adventure. Old friends. Another banquet.

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