Saturday, October 29, 2016

Why I Love National Cat Day

It's National Cat Day on October 29!  I've never paid attention to this cat holiday in the past, but after seeing my friends post photos of their pets all over social media every single day, why not share the cuteness of my adorable furry babies, all of whom have since passed over the Rainbow Bridge, except for Nala.  Most importantly, though, I want to celebrate their lives and to encourage pet adoption.  It's not just the right thing to do; adoption is a reward.
BIG PAW - Leader of the Pack
Big Paw was not the cutest cat on display at the San Diego Humane Society, but he was definitely the most unique.  He was a polydactyl, meaning he was born with extra digits on all four paws, although not all polydactyls are affected the same way.  Some polydactyls will have extra toes on one paw or two, but Big Paw had all four paws with extra toes.  He was the first cat to enter our home of two adults and three kids, and what a joy he was to us all! Besides being crazy playful, he loved to scare the crap out of us by walking the upstairs balcony rail.  Staring up at him with bated breath, Big Paw would stare back at us and walk the rail with ease.  Such a daredevil.  He was a smart cat, too. He knew how to open doors. Sometimes we'd resort to locking the doors if we didn't want him to gain entrance.  You were lucky if he let you hold him.  Big Paw decided when he was ready to be held, and when we did, he showed the love by purring so loudly.  We had him for 15 wonderful years. I was with him when he breathed his last breath, and it tore my heart apart.  I cried for days. We all did. Knowing the joy he brought us, he would not be our last cat.  Big Paw lived his life for us, and he left this world knowing he did his job.  Such a beautiful gift.

Born:                      August 1991
Adopted:              January 1992
Rainbow Bridge:   March 2007    

HERO - the Great Communicator
Hero was the second cat to enter our home.  He was one of maybe three or four cats at the Humane Society the night the kids and I decided it was time to adopt another cat.  We felt Big Paw needed a playmate.  The adoption would be quick, I thought.  Select the cat, pay the fee and get home before Gerry did.  I had no idea that all family members had to be present to adopt a cat.  Shockeroo!  I knew Gerry would be resistant to wanting another cat, but maybe he'd change his mind when he saw how cute the new cat was. The trainer would not let us have Hero unless Gerry agreed to the adoption.  He wanted to phone Gerry at work.  You're kidding me. Of course, Gerry was shocked to get such a call, and yes, he wanted to speak to me on the phone.  Yikes.  After exchanging a few pleasant words, Gerry said okay, we could adopt Hero.  The kids were ecstatic!  When we got home, Hero went into hiding for three days.  Poor kitty.  Entering a new home with Big Paw in it was a bit much, I guess. Hero lived up to his name, and he came to us at the right time.  We were grieving the death of someone very close to our daughter, Lindsay.  Matt was a joy to have around.  Sensing that Lindsay was the most grief-stricken, Hero stuck close to her for a long, long time.  He became Lindsay's buddy.  He also began to sit a certain way that was kind of freaky.  Hero would prop himself up against a wall as if he were human, sitting upright on his rear-end!  That's how Matt would sit on Lindsay's futon.  Hero was channeling Matt!!  Scary at first, but we came to love seeing Matt's spirit come through.  Hero was wise, smart and loved to have long conversations with us.  He also thought he was a dog. Too funny.  Almost daily, he would try to force his way outdoors to get a taste of the green grass.  Yes, Hero was special.  He passed not too long ago, and of all the cats I cried for, I couldn't cry for him.  I don't understand it yet.  But it doesn't mean I didn't love him.  I probably loved him the most. Somewhere in my future, I know I will cry for him.  Hero lived to be 19 years old. I miss your love bites, Pretty Boy.

Born:                       January 1997
Adopted:               December 2000
Rainbow Bridge:    May 2016  

YANKEE - the Snuggle Bug
My son, Gary, first spotted Yankee down the street.  The cat was distressed, meowing so loudly.  He ran home to tell me all about this cat, but I couldn't be bothered.  I was bolted in my chair in front of the TV watching the tragic chaos taking place in New York City. The twin towers at the World Trade Center had fallen that morning.  I told Gary to just leave the cat alone.  Did I really say that, because normally I'm quick to rescue a cat.  Gary continued to keep an eye on that cat for the next couple of days, and of course, it would follow him home.  Lindsay built a cardboard house for it, decorated with pink crepe streamers because - tada - we thought it was a she!  This cat had badly sagging skin, as if she might have delivered a litter.  Then one day, we heard our cats loudly meowing at the livingroom window.  I looked out and there was the cat.  I'd not seen the cat until then.  Gary described her to me, but I wasn't prepared for what I saw.  She looked odd, skinny, dirty and had big ears.  But I got excited because I'd seen that kind of cat before in a picture.  I ran to the computer and did some research, then became so excited because sitting outside our window was a Cornish Rex, or a mix of one, not the kind of cat you see every day.  Even our vet had not seen one in person.  It's an expensive breed, costing about $800. It turns out the she was a he. This cat had been very unheathily overfed, had became lost or abandoned, starved, and thus resulting in the sagging belly.  Poor thing.  No one seemed to be searching for this special cat, so we decided to care for him.  The name America, when we thought it was a girl, would now become Yankee.  And no, I didn't want to check the sex of the cat because it was so grossly dirty and stinky.  The less I touched it until a visit to the vet, the better.  Yankee was special because he behaved like a toddler.  He loved to stand and reach up to be picked up and be held like a baby.  He loved to rest his head on our shoulders, and be coddled inside a baby blanket.  The vet couldn't estimate Yankee's age because his teeth and gums were in bad shape.  We gave Yankee extra care because we knew his life was hard up to the day he decided to adopt us as his new family.  When he became sick, the veterinary bills became so high that we could no longer take care of him.  I called our vet to see if they knew of a non-profit no-kill cat sanctuary that would be willing to care for a cornish rex.  They didn't, and apologized.  A few days later, the vet called me and said they would be willing to care for him, but we had to relinquish all rights to Yankee.  Also, my family and I could visit him whenever we wanted, no need to make an appointment.  I was elated, to say the least.  I began to sleep better. Yankee would eventually become the mascot of the Rolling Hills Pet Hospital.  He had free reign of the clinic, and could roam wherever he wished.  On the weekends, Dr. Keith would take him home to his place in Coronado.  Lucky cat!   We didn't have Yankee as long as our other cats, but he would always be our Little Snuggle Bug.

Born:                      Unknown
Adopted Us:         September 2001
Rainbow Bridge:  January 2006 

QUINCY - the Bashful One
Just when we thought we had enough cats in the house already, Lindsay calls me up one day and says that I need to go to PetSmart right away.  What for, I ask.  "There's a real cute cat that needs to be adopted, and he keeps meowing.  He wants a home", was her reply. 
Oh, geez.  But that's what Gerry and I did.  We went to PetSmart to check out this cat and adopted him.  His name was Quincy, and he was cute as a button.  He was pretty shy, too. He had this raspy meow sound, and didn't want to be held or petted unless he came to you for attention. But if he came to you, he'd plop part of his body on you and stay there for as long as he could. He liked to be left alone a lot of the time.  Quincy had this weird habit of taking food out of his bowl, dropping it on the floor and eating it.  He was a very messy eater.  Gary Mike thinks he was earlier raised with other cats and was used to eating his food off the floor.  His favorite toy was feathers hanging on a string.  He'd get wild about them for a little while, then get over it fast.  He didn't remain playful for very long.  Not much else was known of his past, but we made sure he had a good life in our home.  Quincy was diagnosed with cancer in 2014.  It was so hard to decide that it was time to let him go.  With Lindsay in Nashville, and Summer at her job in Del Mar, via FaceTime they joined me, Gerry, Gary Mike and Kat at the clinic where we held Quincy for the last time.  It was a very difficult good-bye.  Our hearts hurt for the longest time.

Born:                       January 2007
Adopted:              January 2009
Rainbow Bridge:   September 2014

NALA - the Princess
Nala is pretty, and she knows it.  I refer to her as the princess because she's so girly.  She's a big tease, too.  She came to be a part of our family when I took her in from the cold.  She was a member of a growing feral colony, just a baby, really.  She was with her daddy cat when I first spotted her on a very cold morning.  Every day she'd come around with a member of her feline family or all of them.  There was the daddy, mama, Reeses (we named it because she reminded us of the candy) and Nala.  So one early morning, I decided to snatch her up and bring her in out of the cold, to her daddy's dismay.  I would cuddle her under my warm blanket, and stare at her beautiful face until I heard Gerry waking up, then I'd put her back outside.  Not very nice, I know, but Gerry would not be keen on yet having another cat in the house.  Soon Nala would come around on her own and insist we take her in.

So persistent, this cat.  Nala is as feminine as a girl can be, is a picky eater, is very playful and a such a big tease.  She doesn't meow; instead, she voices these tiny mews and makes these chirping noises.  She loves people but loves Gary Mike the most. She loves to be petted, and has this crazy thing about licking lotion off my hands, arm and feet.  Gross! So annoying when she does that.  Also annoying is when we get up in the morning to find she's been stuck in the office closet all night long.  Why she continues to run into a closet surprises me.  Nala loves to sneak upstairs when Gerry's not around, but when she hears his voice, she quickly dashes down the stairs.  Too funny to witness!  To this day, Nala shows affection for the remaining members of her once feral colony that grew to number 23 total.  There are two strays remaining who make our backyard their home.  It amazes me that three generations later, the strays recognize Nala as one of their own.

Born:             Fall 2009
Adopted:    December 2009

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Hurricane Matthew - My Red Cross Response Experience

It wasn't too long ago when I received an e-mail from the San Diego chapter of the American Red Cross.  The e-mail was sent en masse to every Red Cross volunteer in our region.  It was all over the news that Hurricane Matthew was brewing, and it didn't register in my head that I could be called to action.  Gerry and I had just returned from Italy where we vacationed with friends, and my suitcase wasn't fully unpacked. I quickly packed my suitcase with the appropriate clothes and shoes, went to headquarters to pick up my Mission card and disaster folder, and before I knew it, I was on a Delta flight to Columbia, South Carolina.  It happened so fast. When I arrived at the airport, there was an AVIS rental car waiting for me, and a motel room to hunker down in for the night since it was nearly midnight when I arrived.
I had waited six years for the opportunity to help in a major national disaster, but the time wasn't right due to my job and/or familial responsibilities.  All of the courses I'd taken and workshops I attended over the years qualified me to be deployed to the Carolina states to assist in this flood disaster.  I was in South and North Carolina for a total of ten days, but I had earlier committed to a minimum of 2 weeks of service.  Before I explain my early return home, I must tell you that I met and worked with a group of wonderful and giving individuals that formed our strong team of six, which later became seven.  We each had our own strengths in character, and where one of us lacked in physical strength, the others picked up and carried the rest of us forward.  Our team was a well-oiled machine, and we vowed that no matter where Staffing sent us, we would stay together.  
My awesone team, fom left to right:  Bobby, Margot, Linda C., Glendeleen, Julie, Linda H. (our supervisor) and me.

After closing the Calvin Heights Elementary School shelter in Wilmington, North Carolina, we learned, to our dismay, that we would be separated.  We knew, really, from the beginning that it would be hard to keep us all together to the end of the disaster recovery, but it was worth wishing for.  Three would go on to work the ERV (emergency response vehicle which is used to transport food to various shelters), two others went to support a shelter on a college campus, and our fearless leader is in her new assignment as a shelter manager. 
While everyone on the team was compassionate, Bobby and Linda C., to me, showed the most compassion.  Bobby loved talking to the clients (shelter residents) and getting to know them, and Linda C. was really taken with the children.  One very young child endeared herself to Linda and looked to her for hugs.  I thought of Julie as the mama bear.  She constantly checked on things, greeted arriving guests, helped to keep the distribution area tidy, and reminded our supervisor to eat her meals.  The muscles of the team were Bobby and Margot. They could put together and tear down those cots so fast, it made me exhausted to watch them.  I could not help with those cots because of arthritis.  I also could not help with lifting heavy items, and there was a lot of that going on in the kitchen and cafeteria.  Bobby and Margot also kept the restrooms clean and trash bins empty. Glendeleen, Glen for short, was assigned to our team two days before we were separated. She immediately made herself at home, picked up our vibe and joined right in as if she was with us from the very beginning.  Our supervisor, Linda H. was loaded with information, constantly had her finger on the pulse of the operation, and worked diligently with headquarters. In the evening, when all of the clients were tucked in their cots for the evening, because there is a curfew in the shelters, Linda H. would reward us with a small plastic glass of wine, if we wanted it, to thank us for our hard work and to simply relax and talk about the day's events.  It was a great bonding time, in that dim hallway of the 4th grade wing of the school.
Working the shelter is constant and tiring work.  It's physical, mental and emotional.  I found myself holding back tears on one occasion, and I felt like I was starving on another occasion.  I kept saying to myself that I would find time to take a little nap when the time was right, and I never did.  I was always the last to go to the bed, and the first to rise.  I would make myself available to work in the cafeteria, as not everyone was awake in the gymnasium yet, and that's how I got to know the Salvation Army crew and the school cafeteria manager.  The Salvation Army truck was my go-to place for my morning coffee.  It was my secret for a short while. 
This is Sherlene, the school's cafeteria manager.  This amazing woman volunteered her vacation time to assist us in the shelter.  She also set up a cot in the kitchen where she would sleep because she worked long hours.  Until one day, sleeping on a cot became unbearable, so she then went home to sleep in her own oomfy bed.  She is the first person I would see in the morning.  She is also a wonderful singer.
After days and days of caring for the clients and tending to their needs, I one day found myself feeling so worn down, and my eyes were stinging from sun sensitivity.  I couldn't find my sunglasses the day before, and the sun shining in my eyes was becoming unbearable that I knew it would be unsafe to drive a vehicle, which I was doing a lot of the time.  The day we learned we would be going our separate ways, my body was telling me that this would be the perfect time to stop and go home to rest.  Being in constant physical motion for hours and days got the best of me.  
To not listen to my body would surely mean a lupus flare-up, and I didn't want to risk that.  I hadn't been so sick in a long time, and I don't want to go there again.  I have the autoimmune disease called lupus.  Thinking back, I remember someone asking me on Facebook if I was handling my pain well.  I appreciated that question, and I think I might have forgotten to reply to her.  Well, I have been home for four days now.  I am in constant touch with my team, and they are out there continuing to serve those affected by the floor. They are heroes forever, in my eyes.
The day after I returned home, I received a call from Cathy, Workforce Engagement Manager, with the Red Cross.  She said that I would be a perfect candidate for the Shelter Supervisors Workshop.  Linda H., throughout my deployment, frequently told me that, too. The San Diego chapter is gearing up for fire season, and there's that big earthquake that the world is talking about. I've always liked being in charge, and I feel this will be a perfect fit for me.  I just have to look like a disaster action team member.  I didn't have the proper T-shirts, polo shirts or vest to wear.  There wasn't enough time for me to acquire them.  Ugh, I looked very much like a newbie, I will be ready for the next call to action.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Under the Tuscan Sun: Looking for Bramasole

Like it or not, I am a total book and motion picture nerd.  Mix that with travel, and I become obsessed with having to see where that film was made or to find out what was that one thing that drove someone to write a novel that would become a classic or a cult favorite.

Before we left for Italy, I shared on Facebook that I couldn't wait to see the villa that inspired author Frances Mayes to write the book "Under the Tuscan Sun".  I had not yet read the book but I saw the movie numerous times.  Now that I'm home, I am finally reading the book. It is simply delicious!  I just couldn't get enough of all that was Italian in the film.  And Diane Lane, . . . who wouldn't wish they could be her for a day?  I'd already been to a few major cities in Italy and made jaunts into country towns, but I hadn't yet made it to the idyllic hill town of Cortona, which was tops on my list of places to visit for our end-of-summer holiday. I had to get to Cortona this year because the book "Under the Tuscan Sun" was celebrating 20 years since its publication in September 1996. The time was right to go back to Italy!

I was just getting over the three-day stomach flu when we left Assisi by car.  With my husband Gerry at the wheel and friend Ed at his side as navigator, we made our way to Cortona. Daisie and I sat in the back seat enjoying the views along the way.  Total eye-candy, those views!

Cortona sits on top of a hill about 1,968 feet above sea level.  It is the highest town we visited on this trip. This dominant position over the valley offers a spectacular view from all over the town of the surrounding valley and even Lake Trasimeno.   Before beginning our search of Bramasole (pronounced brah - mah - so - lay), we decided to take a look around the town for a place to have a very nice lunch.  We settled on the Ristorante al Cacciatore where I had a lovely pasta e Fagioli soup, perfect for my settling tummy.  With full stomachs, we did our last-minute souvenir shopping, then we were off to find Bramasole, which means "yearning for the sun".  On the way back to the car, I passed an art gallery which featured a movie poster of the film on its glass door. Cortona is known for many things ancient, Etruscan and modern, but its citizens love the attention the book and film have brought to their town, and they're basking in all its glory.  

Before leaving town, we went to the tourist information office of the Piazza Della Republika. I asked the concierge if given a choice, would she look for the house that was used in the "Under the Tuscan Sun" film, or look for the house that inspired the book. She said to skip the house used in the film.  It's ugly and there's nothing to see there.  Go to the real villa, she says.  Before leaving San Diego, I searched the internet.  Many "Under the Tuscan Sun" geeks said forget the real villa, go to the house from the movie. Others said otherwise. Well, just tell me how to get to both, and I'll decide when I'm in Cortona.  I choose to listen to the concierge, and she gives us a map of the town and driving directions to the Bramasole. She also said it's within walking distance but a portion of the trek is uphill.  I think, "no, thank you".  I just got my energy back from being sick.  I want my search to be easy. Driving there sounds better, and the map makes it easy, but it turned out not to be.  

Looking at the map, we follow the concierge's blue ink line from the parking lot, exiting the walled town, driving the road that hugs the ancient walls, and taking that road all the way around and further up into the mountain. At one point, Ed says to Gerry that he's driving into a one-way street so Gerry maneuvers a Y turn and gets back on the right road.  The concierge said if you pass the Eremo Le Celle, the sanctuary, you're going the right way. Follow the road up the hill and follow the signs to Hotel Cory's.  Pass it and stay left of the fork.  There is a small bar (cafe) at the apex of this fork. The road will take you downhill. Bramasole should be on our right.  You can't miss it, said the concierge.  It's a big pink house. Seekers say it's peachy pink.  I'll decide on the color when I get there.

We end up at the stop sign and nowhere to go but right.  Ahead of us is the most gorgeous landscape you ever saw.  Vineyards, rolling hills, orchards, farmhouses, cypresses, villas.  It was so dreamy.  Okay, snap out of it. We turned right and pulled into a parking lot in Torreon.  I approached an old man and asked, "Dove il Bramasole?".  He shrugs and raises both hands that say "What are you saying?".  So I repeat it in English. Gerry approaches and does his best to communicate with hand gestures.  Daisie and I see a jogger approaching our direction and I wonder if it would be cool to stop him and ask for directions. We decided it would not be okay to interrupt his rhythm because he was so focused on his running.  Then we see a couple walking the wide promenade toward us.  It is lined with trees on both sides, and their walk is very leisurely.  As they get closer, we approach them.  I say to the woman, "Scusi, parla Inglese?".  Please say yes.  Please say yes.  And the woman says, "Well, yes, I do." "Yes!  Thank you!", I say.  She laughed at us and said, "I know how you feel.  I've been there!".  

Meet Al and Kathy.  They're from Tampa, Florida and spend a few months in Cortona each year.  They had just flown in earlier that day and were out for an afternoon walk.  They own an apartment in the city center of Cortona which they rent out to tourists when they're not using it.  They set us straight on how to find the Bramasole, and that it's not far from where we're standing.  In fact, we can walk there from the parking lot.  Al says we would be interested to know that he shot the cover for Mayes' third book of the Tuscany series, "Every Day in Tuscany".  Get outta here!  I can't believe what I'm hearing!  He says he was taking digital photographs in the piazza years ago.  A stranger approached him and asked to see his photos.  Apparently, this stranger had ties to Mayes and the publishing world.  Before long, Al got a call from Mayes asking if he'd photograph the cover to her third book.  Wow, what are the chances of me meeting someone connected to one of my favorite authors?! This is wildly crazy, I'm thinking, and I am one starstruck, besotted woman.

In our conversation, Al continues with a story where Mayes had purchased a second home higher up in the mountains outside of Cortona in Monte Sant'Egidio.  Known as Fonte Delle Foglie, the Font of Leaves, the secluded stone pile was first built in the 13th century by "hermits who followed Saint Francis of Assisi." Mayes added a second structure to the 3.7-acre compound, which now has four bedrooms, a writing room, and ample entertaining space.  This home was the subject of the book mentioned above, "Every Day in Tuscany". Mayes no longer owns the home due to the fact that thieves had ransacked the home while she was away from the country.  She was heartbroken and had felt watching over two homes was too much work.  I found a photo of the stone villa on Pinterest.  What a beauty!

Do you want to know what Al says next?  He says that he and Kathy are frequent visitors to Villa Bramasole when Frances (uh-oh, we're on first-name basis now) is in town. Unfortunately, Frances won't be in Cortona for another couple of weeks.  Darn!  Our conversation lasted perhaps 20 minutes, but it's time I won't soon forget. Before going our separate ways, Al said to look for the terraces.  He was around when laborers and artisans were cleaning up the terraces of the Bramasole.  Kathy said you can't miss it because of its pink color.  So off we went in our car, backtracked and as we turned the corner, there it was to our left - the most magnificent rustic house and terraced garden I have ever seen. It's easy to see how we missed the house at first. It's partly hidden by stone walls and trees, and I wasn't expecting the house to be so high up on the hill.  It truly is a special place, and it gives me goosebumps to know that it stands near a Roman road and that there's a portion of an Etruscan wall in her enormous, terraced back yard.

We exited the car and began taking photos like crazy.  I took note of all the little details of Frances' property that eventually made its mark in the film, like the shrine in the stone wall and the shuttered windows.  The color of the house was not pink or peach, or peachy-pink. The color seemed to change depending on the direction from which I was looking.  It was like the stucco had a faux finish.  It went from pink to peach to gold to orange. Seeing a large amount of olive and fruit trees, and other plantings, I felt this villa was more of a farmhouse. The Bramasole is famous for its olive oil which has won numerous international competitions. It was surreal being at the Bramasole.  I thank God I got well enough in time to have this experience.  Being there was most definitely the high point of my vacation.  

The celestial stars were aligned that day and the gods that be said this was meant to happen.  Thank you, Frances, for taking me on this journey.  

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Terra Cotta Warriors & Tang Dynasty Show in Xian

Another destination checked off my wanderlust list!  Thanks to local farmers digging a well, millions of people are able to view these wonderful full-size figures of clay warriors.  As always, I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to see our world's treasures.  

Think you know everything there is to know about this UNESCO World Heritage Site?

Here are 5 amazing facts about the Terra Cotta Army and its auxiliaries that I didn't know at the time of my visit last fall:
1.  China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, spent most of his life searching for immortality and built himself a burial complex.  The complex was the biggest in the world - and it was probably never completed.
2.  The clay soldiers remained untouched for more than 2000 years until 1974 when they were unearthed by Chinese farmers digging a well.  It is now believed that some 700,000 workers worked for nearly three decades on the mausoleum. So far, archaeologists have uncovered a 20-square mile compound, including 8,000 terra cotta soldiers, along with numerous horses and chariots, a pyramid mound marking the emperor's tomb, remains of a palace, offices, store houses and stables.  This is all located in Pit #1.  Yes, there are more pits.
3.  Qin was known for his brutishness: He ordered the killings of scholars whose ideas he opposed, and showed little regard for the life of the conscripts who built public works projects, including his burial complex. Numerous laborers and artisans lost their lives during its construction, while others were reportedly killed in order to preserve the secrecy of the tomb’s location and the treasures buried within.
4.  The emperor's tomb itself still hasn't been excavated. According to first century accounts, mercury streams were inlaid in the floor of Qin's burial chamber to simulate local rivers running through his tomb.  In 2005, hundreds of samples from the earthen burial chamber mound were tested and came back highly positive.  Debate continues over whether to evacuate the tomb at all and what methods should be used to protect the contents as well as the people working at the site.
5.  Construction of the tomb began when the Future Emperor of China took power at the age of 13.

The following photos are from Pit #1 where many workers guarded the area and excavated and tagged the statues.

Pit #2 is located 22 yards to the northeast of Terra Cotta Pit #1.  It is the most spectacular of the three pits.  Compared to Pit #1, the combat formations are more complex and the units of armed forces more complete.

Pit #3 lies 25 yards to the north of Pit #2.  This forms the headquarters of the garrison, exercising military control over men contained in the other two pits.  

After spending a few hours viewing the Terra Cotta Army, we drove through the city of Xian to see some more impressive statues.
In the evening, Gerry and I enjoyed a Tang Dynasty cultural performance with dinner.  Obviously, it was all so wonderful.  Such a great way to end a long day.

Um, no, we are not actually in the pit with these terra cotta marvels. We couldn't resist paying for one of those faux photos, but it does look awesome, doesn't it?

Safe travels,