Jul 31, 2009

Shanghai, China A Bloggers View

My son, his wife and our two granddaughters flew back to Shanghai, China today. They spend about six weeks in the states in the summer and have jobs in Pu Dong, Shanghai, PRC. They have lived in China for four years. So, as a result of this wonderful son's job, my husband and I have spent about six weeks in China over the last three years. When I say we have "been there and done that", I mean we really have been there and done that. AND I want to be there and do that again really soon.

Shanghai is just a wonderful city in every regard. It has been dubbed the "Paris of the Orient". Charming neighborhoods, interesting shops and just enough of the ancient city remain to make it very charming. The Chinese do not speak English fluently but they are very welcoming and helpful. Expats and tourist collect business cards for their favorite restaurants or locations and hand them to the taxi drivers. Usually you will arrive where you intend to be. The Metro subway system is absolutely wonderful and getting better all the time.

People Park
Originally uploaded by Always at Home

In the year 2010 Shanghai will the hosting a Expo 2010 Shanghai (上海世界博览会) on the water front near the down town. On May 1 the Expo will open to what is expected to be the largest crowds the World Expo's history. The are expecting 60-70 million people at a rate of about 400,000 per day. While this sounds like a huge number of people, we need to keep in mind that Shanghai is one of the largest if not the largest city in the world. Local people and return visitors might increase the count.

Preparations for this have been going on for years and, when they are done, they will have restructures a very large part of the water front on the Nan Pu River that divides the city. The Chinese have moved the shipyard out to an island and torn down some horrible slums to make way for the event. The city will put on a very big show for people around the world. (Widipedia information)

When China hosted the Olympics last year they doubled the size of the airport in Shanghai and over the last couple of years, they have also upgraded their subway system. We found it very easy to get to the center of the city from the east side, (Pu Dong). While shopping downtown is very expensive, you can still find bargains by asking about markets. There are fabric markets, eye glass markets, children's markets and even a wonderful knock off market. This knock off market is located in a subway station on the eastside and inquiries will lead to the location. While the government doesn't want to appear to be breaking international rules on selling knockoffs they don't totally shut this sort of thing down. The market was at one time in the open air in down town Shanghai. When the Olympics drew near they moved the market to it's new location.

Some of the best restaurants can be found in the French Concession. Just wander up and down the street and choose what looks good. You will not be disappointed. I can personally recommend Azul. By going to Frommers restaurant guide you will find the best of the best. I believe Fodors even has a listing in the back of all the restaurants in Chinese and we had a lot of success in showing the Taxi drivers this information.

For the ultimate dining experience, a trip to Pu Dong and the Grand Hyatt would be my choice. You will dine in a restaurant that is unrivaled. The food is magnificent, the view is...words fail me...and the service will spoil you forever. Your table will over look the Pearl Tower and the old city across the river. The evening we dined there the fog made the city look like a fairy land. Located in the Jin Mao Tower, (a building that was at one time the tallest building in the world and according to one website still the tallest in China), the Grand Hyatt has lived up to its name.

There are not many places in the world that I would go to again and again. Shanghai is the exception...I don't think we have even begun to understand and explore this city. We will definitely "be there and do that" again.

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Jul 28, 2009

Portland Oregon Vacation...stay in the suburbs!!!!

Yesterday's answers: Barnes and Noble, Waterfront Park, Brew Pub in St. Helens, Ore., McTarnahans Brew Pub, Countryside view near Carlton, Oregon.

I have a wonderful suggestion for you if you are heading to Portland, Oregon. Go out to one of the suburbs and stay in a bed and breakfast or hotel near the Max line. It is our life style for everyday. We live in a Hillsboro neighborhood called Orenco Station. The planned community as it's very own grocery, restaurants, Starbucks and even a store that features pet supplies. A manicurist, Oregon Hazelnut store and foreign import shop round the services out. There is a Marriot Suites hotel as well as a small hotel called Orenco Manor Hotel Suites. I walk by these browns stone homes that now house the hotel daily. I cannot imagine a more luxurious accommodations.

My son and his wife fly in from China, rent a car and drive out to Orenco Station. They can then take Max to downtown Portland and spend the day. Or they can take the drive to the Oregon Beach area in a little over an hour. Wine country surrounds the area and so a short drive can take you to very small wineries like Helvetia Winery or the small wine shop, Renaissance Wine & Cigar, on Orenco Station Parkway has outdoor seating for a late afternoon wine tasting very near your vacation accommodations. We love a drive out to the site of the old Rock Creek Tavern. McMenamim's has rebuilt an exact replica of the original tavern after it burned several years ago. The feature live music on Friday and Saturday nights. It is situated in the countryside and the outdoor seating is hard to top.

I just thought you would want to know. The adsense ads in the sidebar might have something for you or just follow the links.


Jul 26, 2009

Dragging MOM and DAD Screaming/Kicking to a Smaller House

I remember a story written by the famous Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen. In this short tale he told of parents taking their very old parents to the poor house. The young grandchildren came along for the journey. When it came time to leave the old people behind, they were given one blanket. A small child yelled "Wait!" and ran up and tore the blanket in half. The father asked "Why did you do that" and the child answered "I will need the other half when I bring you here when you are old."

The story of aging has changed a lot since the later part of the 19th century. But children still are feeling the need to take over their parents life. It could be that they are seeing themselves as the "caregiver" a long time before they need to. Here are some thoughts.


When should you suggest that your parents "Right Size" their lives? Let's say your mother and father are living in a five bedroom house and all the children have left the nest. The parents are approaching retirement. Is this the time to suggest a move?


I have a feeling that this all boils down to when the parent and the child feels a person is too old to live in such a house. In a recent survey released by Pews Research Center Publication called Growing Old in Amerca: Expectation VS Reality, the disparity between when an 18-29 year old thinks a person is old and what a middle aged person sees "old" are markedly different. The younger people feel that a person is old at the age of 60. The middle aged person gives themselves another 12 years moving "old" up to 72. Children also saw aging as much worse that what parents actually experienced.

So lets say, for example, you are in your early thirties and your parents still live in a very large house. You may feel that the time has come for them to get a smaller place so they can age in place in something that will be more practical in years to come. You still see 60 as old. Your parents who are approaching their mid to late fifties are thinking that the best is yet to come. They may be even be thinking of converting a bedroom into an exercise room and another into an office. Mom may have always dreamed of a craft room. They are looking forward to enjoy this home all by themselves for a few more years. It all boils down to the perception of when they are indeed old. I am 67. My 72 year old husband and I chose to downsize, not because of health issues but because we wanted a three story town house. We would have remained in our 4 bedroom home a lot longer if we had not chosen to move to a nearby city. The point is we moved when we were ready. We do not believe in "aging in place". Besides we are still healthy and feel very young.


The other thing that Pew's pointed out was the different perceptions of how much parents help their children monetarily and with child care. It seems that 51% of parents said they had helped their children with money in the past year. Parents still see themselves as needed in both these areas. What I read into that statistic was that the parents still see themselves as wiser than their children and really are not willing to listen to a child's advice or concerns. The communication is just not there

Pew's research actually showed that parents do not depend on children very much until they are quite old. At the age of 85 a full 80% are still living independently. As for asking for help with errands and other assistance, 42 % of those over 65 say they have had help. Now, I will add here that I have know quite a few older people that will ask their children for help as a plea for attention. When they cannot get their son or daughter to visit, they will call and ask them to come and show them how to work the answering machine. The children worry because their parents have forgotten how to do this function and come to see them. The parents have gotten what they want. My thinking is, if they truly have forgotten such a basic thing, children do need to be more attentive. But, usually, if there is no one to help, most old people can figure out just about anything.


So, when do you begin to talk with your parents about down sizing. Maybe never. I know, you have an idea what you want to do when you are at or approaching retirement. But this is where Pew's saw the biggest discrepancy. They called it the Generation Gap, Circa 2009. Pews cited work ethic, morals and values as the areas where the gaps appear. It could be that because young people are mobile in ways that the older generation never were, they do no have the attachment to a place. Seniors see "down sizing" as a giant leap from what they know to what they do not know or understand. For my generation, friendships were forever, most people did not leave or go to exotic places. Our value system was based on home, friends and family. Pressing a parent to move too soon really might take them out of their comfort zone. They are probably thinking that they would like to take it one step at a time. They will know when it is time. My generation likes security....a lot! AND in the end the children really cannot MAKE their parents do anything...not as long as they are healthy and of sound mind.

If you are a senior reading this, I would love your input. If you are a young person trying to figure a senior out, I hope you find this useful. I would love to hear your questions.


Jul 25, 2009

Oregon Brews Festival, Resturants...a day in Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon, July 25, 2009
The Oregon Brewers Festival
is in town.

Portland, Oregon is notorious for the number of "brew pubs" in it's metro area. When doing a search on google, I got over 1600 hits. So when the Brew Fest comes to town it is indeed a very BIG DEAL!!! After all with 80 different brews, Mt. Hood on one side and the Portland skyline on the other, how can you miss.

Vendors from around the country set up camp on the Willamette River water front in huge tents and Portlanders give them just what they want...a lot of attention and waves of shouting from tent to tent! Families come and set up camp along the fence that separates the water front walking path from the grounds. Admission is free and EVERYONE is carded as they enter. Small children are admitted...I don't know what they do about families with older children.

Portland, being the place that it is, provides activities for the children in Root Beer Tent where tattoos are painted on, a water table is set up and warnings about the dangers of alcohol are featured on a large display. Donation were taken at the tent to provide schooling for homeless children.

So we went with our son and two granddaughter, found 5 folding chairs, moved them into the shade under a tree and whiled the afternoon away sipping and visiting. Believe it or not the Acacia Beer was a great favorite with very long lines. I didn't take a count but I am thinking that the older crowd thought this was the find of the century...beer @ acacia berries!!! The crowds were huge (70,000 in 2008) in years past and I see no reason why the 22nd Annual Festival should not be the same.

We started the day with lunch at Goose Hollow Pub located at the base of the West Hills. The old pub was once owned by our famous mayor, Bud Clark and remains a mainstay on the Portland scene. Then we ended the day at Dan and Louis's Oyster Bar. This also a favorite of ours and has been since our 45 year old son was 9 or 10 years old. (It has been in existence since 1907.) We love to go with him when he is in town. The restaurant in located in the down and dirty Skidmore district almost under the Burnside Bridge. I can honestly say that it has not changed one bit since our first visit all those years ago. Bums line the sidewalks and people step over and around them without a thought. I even had one man fold up his (profane?) sign when he saw me coming with my 6 year old granddaughter. We exchanged greetings and I followed the crowd up the sidewalk. Outdoor tables are featured at almost every restaurant this time of year...we love the whole scene.

Incidentally, most people are using our public transportation for this event. Parking downtown is very expensive and hard to find. Our Max line is becoming more and more popular all the time.

I just thought you would all want to know what is going on here in town. Have a wonderful weekend.


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Jul 21, 2009

Down Sizing or Rightsizing? It's all in the attitude.

This is the house
my grandmother and grandfather
moved into 60 years ago when they "right sized" their life.

I was going through my twitter twits this afternoon when I noticed a blog link from the Red Stone Community in Alhambra, California. I think you all may find it very interesting.

Rightsizing Your Life is that move we all make where we decide that the children are not going to come home with three children of their own and a giant dog! While our culture may call it downsizing the truth is we are choosing to life in a house that fits our lifestyle now. See...it is all in the attitude. Take a look at this article and then check out the book on Amazon.com.


Rightsizing Your Live: Simplifying Your Surroundings While Keeping What Matter Most (Paperback) by Kiji Ware Author is available at Amazon.com

Jul 18, 2009

Charbonneau Living, Wilsonville, Oregon

If you should choose to retire in Oregon or have a second home here, Charbenneau in Wilsonville may be the place for you. The resort feeling community has a variety of types of homes. While Condos, apartments and alone houses provide just what you need. It is designed for aging in place or at least in the community and there are assisted living facilities and even an Alzheimer's unit near by.

The Charbenneau Golf Club located within the community features three nines. This type of course gives a member or visitor a variety of golfing experience without having to travel far from home. When you look at the rates, you will be very pleased. Weekend rates come it at $28 and a junior can play nine for only $10. For a retired Senior that loves to play, this could be just perfect. If you have grandchildren that want to play with you, it is very affordable.

More information in a day or two. I will include pictures.


Jul 16, 2009

RV Travel...family fun at it's best!

RV set up with computer.
This is a 35 ft. 2002 Dolphin with
around 20,000 miles on it.
We are still trying to sell it but are
enjoying it in the mean time.
More information available at

Camping with family is one of the finer things in life. All the wealth in the world will not replace time spent at a camp ground close to home with lots of children, tents and tons of food. I suppose that is why the "staycation" is becoming so popular. After all, fun is fun and whether it cost a lot doesn't matter especially to children.

My almost six granddaughter just kept saying over and over "I am having so much fun." Now this child has travels all over the world, stayed in the finest hotels and seen things you and I can never imagine. Her spring break was spent in Viet Nam this year. I rest my case.

I suppose pitching the tents provided the most amusement of all. How do you pitch a tent? Well you gather all you brothers, sisters, in-laws, neices and nephews together, lock Grandma in the RV (she's bossy) and proceed to laugh your way through 100 pieces of support, 75 bungee cords, 50 tent stakes and a tarp to cover it all.

Then there is matter of cutting the fire wood and getting the baby to sleep...all at the same time. You just gather a bunch of small logs while carrying the baby in the back pack, get somebody to saw and stand on the log while the baby is sleeping. Works every time.

There is no time for a beauty regimen while camping. It is just a whole week of "bad hair days". But when you can take Amelia for a run, what more do you need. Looks just are not important.

I love this about the retirement life style. We are free to enjoy those things we love the most and build our lives around our family's need for part of each year. Then, when winter comes, we head south, our family survives on their own and everyone is happy. It is just the right amount of everything for everybody.


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