The autumn has arrived

24th of September 2017

The autumn has arrived here in Penela in Portugal, with all its glory.

I love this time of the year. After a hot summer the cold breeze is soothing like a healing hand.

The clear sky is covered with pictures. Blue and grey is dominating. What wonders are there? Who lives in the sky? Where do they come from? Why do they go away?

When sitting at my computer, writing, I look up and out through my door. What a beauty. I have to share this with you . The beauty can not be put into words. You have to see it for yourself.

This is autumn in all its grace and glory. The autumn in my home town and the clock is almost half past six and the evening gliding in.

Yesterday I drove to Taveiro. I needed to get a big ball to sit on. My body is needing some pampering. I had already bought a blue one but my legs are terrible long and the blue one was not big enough. I needed the orange one, and off I went.

While driving through the highway I noticed the trees. There are trees everywhere here in my country. They are ever green and they are grapevine and olive trees and just ordinary trees. Here in the centre of the tiny country, where I live, the trucks are slim and I sometimes wonder how they can survive the storms, but they do. They somehow sway back and forth. I have seen it when looking from my balcony. In the north the trucks are bold and strong, protecting themselves and the branches from the cold winter. Different in the south also. There the trees are smaller. The cork is there. A beautiful tree which takes ages to grow but when it is there it´s of great value. I love the cork. Nowadays we make all kinds of things from the cork. Bags, purses, shoes and even umbrellas.

When I was in Taveiro yesterday I took some photos of the trees around the retail park. Some are colourful, some are just tired and want to rest, some need water, the truth is they all need water. I love them all. They make me happy. Those trees are safe. They will not be burned down by arsenics. Their beauty will still be there next year.

While driving yesterday I noticed that cleaning was over. There were huge gaps but no black horror. Next year we will find some new tiny tiny shoots. They are strong and the roots are deep.

Here in Penela there were big fires 5 years ago (or maybe 6 years ago). Yesterday I noticed that the new grow is already a meter high and smiling happily. This years disaster is still black and sad but during the winter we will burn the wood that is left and everything will be clean for the coming spring.

But now it is autumn. My favourite season with the colours and beauty that no other season has.

The winters are cold here in my land. Very cold. We think that Portugal is  always warm but that is before we move here. Just as in my beloved Chine. The summers are extremely hot and the winters extremely cold.

Is this maybe something like life. Sometimes very happy and other times really sad? Could it be?

It crossed my mind while driving yesterday and contemplating on the beauty in front of me, how miserable those who make life take a turn to the worse for others, are. How the guilty feeling must be eating them up and they try to justify their actions by blaming the others.

Taking responsibility for ones actions is freedom. Freedom that includes the gift of beauty and ability to enjoy the life ahead.

Hulda Björnsdóttir

 

 

 

The Outcast – The doctor has arrived –

Chapter 1.  The doctor

 

A young boy lies in his bed. He is seriously ill. He lives at the countryside in a tiny country close to the North Pole. The country of fire and ice.

Outside the storm rages, with heavy snow. The children can not get back from the schools on their own. They have to be picked up. The wind is such that grown ups are struggling. The children need to be carried on shoulders that have seen much worse. This is just a typical winter day.

The doctor lives in the village. He needs to get to the boy. The snow is knee deep. The farm is far away. The boys live is at stake.

What is there to do?

The doctor does not hesitate. There is someone in need and he can help. He puts on his  skis. He is going skiing. There is no other way.

After the long journey the saviour arrives. He is cold, vet and his clothes have drops of frost like a decoration. The beard is white with snow and the face frostbitten. He takes of the coat and steps into the room where the little boy is half conscious. The mother is sitting beside the bed, holding the boys hand. This is not a wealthy home. They are poor. They will not be able to pay for the visit.

“Mother, now I will get well, the doctor is here”, sais the little one. He knows the doctor can do miracles.

He is right. He does get well and the parents are grateful. The country is lucky to have doctors like this one. A doctor that does not hesitate to put his life at risk to safe others. The people don´t have to fret about not being able to pay. They know the healing hands are there for them, no matter what social class they belong to. Everyone is equal in this doctors eyes.

This doctor is successful, he has healing hands. He is not just an amazing doctor. He is also an amazing person.  He is not tall. He is shortish.  He smells of cigars and medicine. His eyes are mild and his smile happy. Some say that when he smiles the world lights up. People either love him or they don´t. There is nothing in between. Great men are often like that, and this man is great, there is no doubt about it, but he is also human, and he is not perfect.

One day he is on his way back from  sick call riding on his bicycle.  This is a beautiful summer day and the boys playing football, enjoying the simple life, where there are no worries, just the joy of being.

The football lands in front of the doctors bike. Ups. Not good. The boys are quiet and look at the man.

He steps of his bike, kicks the ball back to the boys and joins them in the game. He gives them some good tips about how to be successful in playing football.

After playing a bit they need to go home. They walk with the man. He tells them about life and how to be a good person. He emphasise the importance of being kind to each other and show respect. He tells them about healthy life and how important it is to take care of the body and the soul.

His voice is mild and his eyes look at them with bit of humour. The humour is never far away, even though the conversation is grave.

He bids them farewell. They go home to have dinner and he has one more call to make. The day is long for a country side doctor, but he has enjoyed the company.

The boys will remember this moment for as long as they live.  The little boy had faith, he knew he would be well because the doctor came through the screaming winter weather. The young boys have  good provisions. The philosophy they learned one beautiful summer day, when the football landed in front of the doctors bike.

Hulda Björnsdóttir

 

The outcast – Fiction

Intro

The outcast is about life. For those who like to write and have a vivid imagination there are no limits.

When I was a child I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to be able to paint the sky, the beauty of the clouds running and dancing through the blue. I lay on the grass following the people in the sky. They were free. They could travel so fast. I wanted to be there. I wanted to show the world what I saw.

I never managed to get the hang of painting but I did write, always.

Writing makes me free.

I can go wherever I like and enjoy life even though it is not always a dance on the purple clouds.

I want to make the most of the time I have left on this earth and part of it is to write my stories.

I asked myself: Who do I write for?

When I realised it was just for me, I got my freedom. Freedom of enjoying what I experience in my fantasy.  What more is there to wish for?

The freedom of being my own independent company can not be put in words. It has to be felt.

This fiction will be dedicated to my mother. She taught me how to read when I was just a tiny 4 year old girl. She read for me and I sat opposite and learned the words one by one and suddenly I could read the book myself. What a glorious day that was. My brother came home from the sea and his reaction was: What? The child is reading! I looked up at him, beaming with pride. Yes, I know how to read, I whispered.

My brother was my hero and he saved me when he came home and I was stuck in the mud. He lifted me up and carried me through the door. My boots did not stay on my feet. They were left in the mud, but my hero picked them up and my mother scolded me for cavorting in the dirt.

Those were good days. Innocent child protected from evil.

My mother rests in heaven. She is free from the suffering. I hope she can enjoy my fiction with me.

This will not be shared on Facebook. This is just for me and my friends on WordPress.

There is a way to follow my fiction. You can follow me on WordPress.

Just remember when you read my fiction, that it is a fiction. It is something in making and I hope one day I might even be able to share it with my wonderful students in China. They can not see blogs but there is always a way. I just have to find it.

Thank you for reading this and maybe I will see you again.

Hulda Björnsdóttir

 

 

 

The hardworking Chinese people (More about my life in China)

11. September 2017

Have you ever thought about why the roads in China are clean?

Have you ever thought about the taxi drivers in China or the people who make your shoes shine?

When talking to people in Europe about the Chinese I find their ideas often strange and even ignorant. The other day I sat with a couple, an educated one, he is a doctor and she is teacher. They were asking about my life and I told them how much I love my China and how I miss it every day. They found it very strange and looked at me with disbelieve in their eyes.

Most of my time in China I lived in my own house and was protected every day and night by a closed gate and guards watching it, but I was lucky and worked outside the sheltered island.  Because I had a car and drove myself I could go wherever I wanted to and I experienced more than many foreigners do.

On the picture below you can many things. The traffic is heavy. This is in Fuzhou and the traffic is always heavy there. Most of the cars, this time, are in a row, but that was not always the case. The truth is that if you are Chinese and see a tiny empty spot between cars you make sure it is filled up with your car! Of course, why should there be empty spaces when they could be used? Everyone must understand this !

The green cars you see are taxies. I learned quickly that you give them space. You yield. They are in a hurry. Their salary is very low and they are hard working. Every Chinese person knows this and we respect them.

If you are trying to find a taxi at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, forget it.

You will see lot of them. They are in a hurry. None available though. Why? Because this is when they change shift. Those who have been working the whole day are going home to their families and the nightshift is taking over. It does not take long, about an hour or even less.

At the front in the photo you see a man with his trailer. Can you imagine how heavy this is and how strong the man has to be? I admire them. They are amazing and it is even more amazing to see them carrying heavy loads on their bicycles.

Yes the Chinese are hard working. We don´t see any cleaners in this photo but under the tree there is a group of men playing cards. I was sometimes invited to sit down with them but never did. To tell you the truth. I don´t know anything about cards and was afraid they would let me pay and I might even loose all my money while trying to learn the complicated game.

Another part of this photo that I want to mention is the trees. There are trees everywhere in Fuzhou. They shield from the terrible hot sun and make it possible to walk the streets without an air-condition hanging at your side. Can you imagine me walking with a heavy air-condition by my side, he he he.

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Another hard working group is those who polish your shoes.

They are everywhere. You sit down and they make your shoes shine like never before. They don´t talk much but they are friendly. When you smile to them they often have no teeth or maybe one or two, but their eyes are shining.

I remember when I walked the last day of the year and ahead of me was a father with his son, maybe 5 years old. The father was explaining to his son why the year ended and a new one began. He also told his son that when the new year came everything needed to be clean, even their shoes and that was why they would have their shoes polished. This was a moment I will never forget. The love for the son and the admiration in the child’s look was something I can´t forget.

 

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There are bikes and scooters everywhere in China. Not that long ago there were almost no cars, but now they are many. I often thought that they were adjusting and moving from the cycling trend but not quite sure how to do it. It is so much easier to control your bike in the traffic.

I had a private student who came to my home. He was from a very, VERY rich family and they wanted him to learn English. He was 6 years old and was supposed to have everything he wanted. There would never be any lack or an unmet wish in his live. His grandfather sometimes brought him in a beautiful black car. The first time they came the secretary was with them and he was obviously teaching the grandfather to drive. Hm. I was not sure when he picked up his grandson if they would be safe. There was something lacking when the old man left his car, automatic car, in drive and came to my door to pick up his child. My heart sank and skipped a beat, at least one if not two beats. If I have ever asked God to help anyone, it was at that moment.

Everything went well and they arrived home safely. Of course I called to make sure. After this I had my doubts verified about some drivers licenses in my beloved country.

Another day more stories about why I love China.

Hulda Björnsdóttir

 

The trips to renew my Visa (My life in China; the story continues)

10th of September 2017

While living in China I needed a permission to stay. That makes sense. I also had to get permission to stay in Portugal when I moved here almost 7 years ago.

Before I left Iceland I had got 90 days visa for staying in China, which I had to renew every 3 months. The Icelandic embassy told me to contact the authorities when I arrived and they would grant me permanent residence.

Well, I had bought a house in Min Hou and spent a lot of money. I had a contract for my house which proved that it was mine. Everything was in order, or so I thought.

When arriving I got an interpreter to help me with some practical things. The Chinese person that was supposed to be there for me had changed plans and I had to make new arrangements. The hotel, where I was staying, found a wonderful lady who became my friend and my interpreter. Of course she was Chinese. We met and she took me to the police station to get a permanent residence for me. That would not be a problem. I had bought a house, had a bank account and even a car in my new country.  Everything was paid and I did not owe anything to anyone.

Little did we know.

We went to the police station, they looked the house papers and my passport and at me. The handsome policeman, said NO. She won’t get permanent residence.  But she has bought a house in Min Hou, my interpreter said. She is going to live in the house. She is mowing from Iceland to China. No, she will not get a residence. She has 90 days Visa and that is all, said the man inside the glass. My heart sank. How could that be? There had not been any problem buying the house. No problem buying the car. No problem opening an account in the bank of China. What did they think I was going to use all this for? Just for fun?

I was devastated. My interpreter was devastated. The police man told us to go away and we did.

There was no way to change anything.  At least not for the time being. I had to accept my situation.

But, in every situation there is a silver lining. Because of my Visa situation I went several times to Hong Kong. I could go to Hong Kong and get a new visa for 3 months. At first I used to fly but then I figured out I could travel by train if I went to Shenzhen by bus.

This was not too expensive.  I was the only passenger not Chinese. Usually I sat at the back, as far back as possible. Why? I don´t know. I just did.

As you can see there are just black  crowns in front of me, all through the bus. Some are sleeping, some are reading and some are just talking. Sometimes someone sat at the back with me and we chatted. That was nice. They were curious about the white lady and asked a lot of questions. Usually they learned more about me than I about them.

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The traffic was heavy and sometimes it took a VERY long time to get to the destination.

I found my trips by the bus interesting. I learned a lot about the traffic, about the distribution of goods and in general about the trucks and cars in China. When the sky was clear and blue, the scenery was amazing. The trees not too big, but everywhere. Everything was clean. Do you know there are people cleaning the roads, all the time? They are there to pick up the rubbish thrown through the windows. They clean the leaves and the cigarettes. They clean everything and the roads and the environment is clean in the cities.  Before I came to China I had heard that the Chinese were slobs. Well some of them are, I have to admit that, but there are cleaners who take care of the trash.

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Sometimes the roads were even almost empty, no traffic or very little, but that was an exception. During these trips I discovered different buildings and different architecture. Sometimes we passed houses that were only half finished. The Chinese do invest their moneys in buildings and if they don´t need them they are not spending anything on decorating or putting glass in the windows, for example.

My interpreter and here husband were well off and they had a house, half finished. They lived in an apartment in Fuzhou and there was no hurry to finish the house. It would not go anywhere and they had a safe place for their daily life.

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One thing I noticed on my trips to Hong Kong were the huge advertising signs. They are everywhere, in the cities and around the highways. You just name it. These huge monsters are screaming at you. I found them ugly and an eye pollution. Of course there was nothing I could do about them. My trip was just to get permission to stay in my beautiful house in Min Hou for at least the next 3 months!

While going to Hong Kong by air I stayed 3 days in a Hotel. It took me 3 days to get the new Visa. I tried to find a cheap hotel and some of the places were strange. I say no more. But everywhere I met friendly helpful people. People that wanted to help the strange lady. I have some very good memories from my several Visa trips which I will share with you another day.

In spite of all my trouble through my Chinese life I really miss it. I wish I could go there again, just for few months and if my health gets better I will see my home again. I have never felt as much at home as when I stepped out of the plain into the enormous heat in Fuzhou. Finally I was home, but now I am faraway.

Life can be strange sometimes and I never know what tomorrow brings.

Hulda Björnsdóttir

I sacked the workers (More about my past life in China and the adventures there)

6th of September 2017

Recently I have been writing about my life in China. It is not in a special order, just as it pops up in my mind. One day I might put this all in order and even make a book but that is for another day.

When I arrived in China in January, long time ago, my house should be ready. I booked a hotel for one week and then I intended to move. I lived in the hotel for more than a month, and not just one, but 2. I had to change because of some government conference.

In February the 10th I moved into the house. It was not finished but I did not want to drive every day back and forth, while trying to keep track of what was happening.

After moving in I realised there was a lot of unfinished work. I could come to terms with that but then there was another thing.

Every time someone came to fix something they broke something.

After a while, not a long one, I realised my house would never be finished and eventually all my money would be spent on repairing the repair damage.

What to do?

Since I am an independent woman, that does not let anyone walk over me on their dirty shoes I did something.

I sacked the workers. I called my interpreter and asked her to get the contractor to the house. The boss came with his second in command. They came and I took them to the top floor. Showed them all the damage and told the boss I did not want him and his worker anymore in my house. Not now and not later. Never again.

He was not happy.

The Chinese can talk endlessly, just like the Portuguese, and he went on and on and on.

I got mad. Lost my patience and embarrassed my interpreter. What a mess. But the workers left.

Here you can see them  moving the rubbish from my garage. The security guards made sure they did not take anything that belonged to the lady of the house.

My wonderful ZozinZu stood there and made sure they did clean everything.

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They were not happy. I was happy to get rid of the idiots.

Now my interior designer had to find new people. New workers for me. Workers that could fix the damage all around my wonderful new house. Workers that did not break anything while fixing. And that’s what he did.

We got wonderful people. They worked hard. I lost some money during this but eventually my wonderful house was not broken. It was beautiful. It took longer than I excepted but it was worth it.

Now my car could go into the garage and did not have to stay outside during the night.

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Of course this is not my garage. This is where I left my car when I was in Fuzhou. I did not dare to drive into the central madness and my wonderful friend Mister Chen allowed me to use the garage in his building.

There is a lot to tell about my adventures. I will do this peace by peace and perhaps change and rewrite. I just want to get this going and you can enjoy the memories with me  if you like.

Hulda Björnsdóttir

 

Prejudice – Ignorance –

31st of August 2017

Prejudice are often, or maybe always, based on ignorance.

I saw an article about a baby left alone in the woods in India. According to the article it was done to kill the baby.

The comments about the article are the reason I am writing  this.

The commentator said this did not come as a surprise after she had read a book about the one child policy in China.

First of all, What does something that happens in India have to do with one child policy in China.

I have a feeling that this commentator does not know much about China. She has definitely not lived there, but still she thinks it gives her a right to judge the whole nation based on some book she happened to read. What an arrogance!

It would be good if people did some research before waving  their prejudices and ignorance.

China is not a perfect country. Which country is? Name just one and I will eat everything I have said above.

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These little boys are brothers. They are Chinese and their parents are my friends. They also have a sister which is 2 years younger. One child policy ? Hm!

I taught in China for several years and lived among the Chinese people. Many of my students, who came from the rural areas had more than one brother or sister. Even one had 5 brothers and sisters. Some of my fellow teachers had more than one child and several of my friends also had more than one child. I left China 6 years ago so this is nothing new. The students that had many siblings told me it would be easier for them to take care of their parents in the future and their grandparents. I was surprised because I had just heard about the one child policy but this made perfect sense to me.

The Chinese people in general are nice people and I have many dear friends there. Of course there are some struggling and others that are rich, with all the spectrum in between.

I know the desperation that can grip people when they don´t have food on the table for their family or houses to live in or clothes to shield from the freezing winter.

If you have not been in poor peoples shoes, please save your prejudices. Please get some information, some true facts before you flag your opinions. That might help those who really need your help and it could even make you uplifted. Who knows!

Try to remember that there are rules and there are exceptions in every country in the world.

You might also look at your clothes and see where they are made, before you start making judgments. Maybe you do enjoy your clothes made in Bangladesh or India or even China, the countries you consider to be merciless.

Hulda Björnsdóttir