> Faces at the Festival


This is one of my personal favorites. This guy was just drumming away and there are so many "typical" Chinese faces in the background.


Our friends Ian and Laura. Ian is from Australia and like Wynter is a visiting member of the Weifang University faculty teaching English. Laura is an English major at the University. She has helped us on several occassions and the girls really enjoy her. I have mention Ian a time or two already in this blog.


As usual, heads snap around for a good look those foreigners. They tend to linger a bit on us when they see the girls and try to "grok" how that happened. I'm reading "Stranger in a Strange Land" right now and the term "grok", coined by Robert Heinlein for that book, seems just about perfect in this situation. If you haven't read the book, do and this will makes perfect sense to you.


Wynter and Mattie met up with this man carrying his son so the two children met in midair. The little boy was quite friendly but Mattie had had enough of being open to strangers at this point. It's worth noting that people here are indeed friendly and outgoing most of the time. Smiles are generally returned in kind. There are some differences in what is considered socially acceptable behaviour but it's all small stuff and we don't think it's worth sweating over.


It is almost a given that we will be asked to pose with passersby for photos any time we're out and about. It seems odd by our standards but we are unusual in our own way and folks seem to like to have their pictures made with oddities. The trick is to learn to beg off while not offending anyone once you've had your fill of being a celebrity. For us that generally takes about five minutes.


The local and national press found us endlessly interesting as part of their coverage of the festival. These two guys regularly popped up all morning to catch us enjoying the day. At one point Wynter and the girls had several still cameras and two professional grade video cameras on them at the same time.


Wearing a T-shirt that says something in English on it is likely to lead to folks coming up to you and practicing their English skills on a real live English speaker. In this case it led to yet another friendly moment.


The team from downunder were fun. They had some really cool high performance kites that they flew as a team.


The clock tower, the "Swatch" kite and the team jacket just say it all.


This is the kite team from Taipei. Friends of ours in Texas are from Taiwan so we stopped by to say "hi" to these folks. As usual this led to a picture and also to very nice Taiwan Kite Association pins for Wynter and the girls. Once again, smiles all around. Well, if you don't count Marit in this particular photo.


I saw this father and son out of the corner of my eye and just loved the way they were both examining the kites. Moments later the father set down his folding chair and had a seat. He saw me and motioned me over to say hi. I asked to take his photo and he graciously posed for me.


Yet another of those expressive faces I find so interesting.


These two young ladies are two of Wynter's students. They had the honor of being guides and translators for one of the kite teams for the weekend.


This face says so much. The item he is carrying is a small folding stool that is very common in this area.


This is a common sight in China. In most families both parents work outside the home, even on weekends, so children are often left with their grandparents during the day. It is a system that has some real benefits but, as in America, children sometimes miss out on parental attention.


Ye ye and granddaughter heading to the festival along with us.


This was one very cute and happy little girl. She just loved flying her kite.


This is another case of a grandparent caring for a grandchild. And both seem to benefit from the experience. I'm glad our girls have the same, although more limited, experience back home.


Austin and Laura spent the day with us. I am not sure but I think the college "borrowed" them to keep an eye on us and the girls while at the festival. Austin carried Mattie around most of the morning and Laura was always there to lend a hand. Marit is a little short of front teeth right now and about to lose a couple more. She's been giving the tooth fairy a workout.


This little guy was having a big time, too.