做好榜樣 Setting a good example

This post is, for a change, about me!  We moved to Georgia last summer and I was recently invited to give a 30 minutes presentation on chronic kidney disease to the general Chinese speaking public in the area.  All in Chinese, with a few English medical terminologies allowed in between.  As a youth immigrant, I learned everything from middle school and up in English, including everything in medical school and medical residency of course.  To my Chinese-speaking friends, family, and the few Chinese-speaking patients that I have had so far, I can say a few sentences about their medical issues in Chinese with little problem.  But to give a 30 minutes talk in Chinese about a medical subject, well, that’s a completely different ball game.  Besides it being a good community service and promotion for my medical practice, I figure that it would be a good way to let my girls see how knowing Chinese well can be a good way to connect with the local Chinese speaking community, even for youth immigrants like myself.  This talk would also be a good way to force myself to improve my own Chinese.

After getting all my slides done (in Chinese mostly), it took me more than 10 hours just to practice delivering this talk in Chinese.  Like any talks, I have to add in some jokes and interesting things to liven it up a little, in Chinese of course.  I also added a couple of Chinese idioms, proverbs, and a reference to an ancient Chinese medical story.  Public speaking was never my thing and my girls helped out, providing critiques during parts of my practice.  DD#1 “Charlotte” is a natural in public speaking and wrote several PAGES of notes for me.  She even suggested more suitable Chinese words for me to use, can you believe it?!  (She can compose in Chinese better than I can.)  DD#2 “Georgia” was just laughing her heads off, jotting down more than a hundred of my “uh…uh….” in just a few minutes of my initial practice runs!  I was starting to get very annoyed at her, LOL!  Since I had a busy work week, I stayed up till 4AM the day of my talk (Sunday) to practice.  In the morning, I practice two more times and felt fairly confident by the time we left the house.

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I was a little nervous waiting for my turn as I was to deliver the latter of the two talks.  An adult immigrant China and US trained physician delivered the first talk on cancer screening and treatment.  Well, my talk went very well, I am so relieved to say.  No more “uh….uh….”, LOL.  The audience asked many questions and a number of them asked me for my business card afterward.  My wife was very proud of me that I asked her “所以,妳認我是妳的先生了?!“ (So, you would now acknowledge that I am your husband?!)   LOL.  It took me a whole hour afterward just to feel all that stress leave me.

My girls were very proud of me too!  Mission accomplished!

 

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Chinese novel reading update

Well, Chinese reading is going well for both “Charlotte” and “Georgia”, a few months shy of 15 and 12 years of age respectively.

Charlotte just finished reading the Chinese edition of “Anna and the French Kiss” (4.5/5 score on Amazon), giggling intermittently as she read along.  Oh, all those teen romance!  She read some 70 pages this afternoon.  She did feel the need to skim through the English E-edition that she checked out from the online public library to get a better idea of the names and some of the details in the book.  So, her Chinese comprehension is not as precise as her English comprehension; but, that’s not a surprise.  She says reading it in Chinese gives her more room for imagination, LOL!  As long she keeps on reading, studying, and learning Chinese, her reading comprehension will come further along.

     

As for Georgia, she is now reading the first book of 金庸‘s “神雕俠侶“, about 9 months before Charlotte in terms of their age at the time of first time reading.  She needed a little help at the beginning, so I resorted to my good old fashion Scaffold Reading Experience and she read the first chapter with zhuyin assistance.  Now, she has moved back to the regular book.  I do try to sit close by at this point as she asks me questions about her reading from time to time.

So, I am quite excited about both of their progress!  I am certain some of your kids will reach these milestones at a younger age, as some of you utilize Chinese learning programs more rigorous than ours at a younger age.  Yeah, you probably would have considered my girls “slackers” in your household when they were younger, LOL!

六個夢之二 & 「神雕俠侶」(Six Dreams, Part 2 & Return of the Condor Heroes)

DD#2 “Georgia” finished reading the first short story 「追尋」in two days, which has about 14,000 characters.  I asked her whether she understood what “圓房” meant in the story and she said she did.  Good, learning by context, LOL!  (“圓房” means the consummation of a marriage a period of time after the wedding, such as upon maturity of a former child bride.)

I then printed out the second short story 「啞妻」with almost 17,000 characters.  She spent about twenty minutes reading the two halves of the story yesterday and today.  Her comment after reading it was “好可憐喔” which would be “so sad” or “poor thing”.   I asked her whether it would be better to provide her a version of the story with zhuyin (注音)and she said that would not be necessary.  This sounds great to me!  I would say she read this short story at about 400 characters a minute.

I looked over the second short story 「啞妻」, the beginning of which I posted below.  Then, I looked at 金庸‘s 「神雕俠侶」, or “Return of the Condor Hero” by practically the most famous modern kungfu novelist Jin-Yong.  I post the beginning of 「神雕俠侶」below as well.  Certainly, the descriptive parts of 「神雕俠侶」are more difficult to read, but the overall plot and dialogues do not seem much more difficult to read than 「啞妻」.

Recently, Georgia is motivated to read more challenging books since a new Chinese instructor at the weekend school constantly brag (according to my DD) about her own daughter’s Chinese to the students, LOL!  As Georgia will be 12 in a few months and DD#1 “Charlotte” started reading「神雕俠侶」at 12.5 years old, I decided to let Georgia try 「神雕俠侶」.  They both had watched the cartoon +/- TV series of the novel before, which helps with the reading.  Also, Georgia has always been ahead of Charlotte in Chinese at the same age, by about a year.  So, it will be interesting to see how she does.  At this stage, she won’t get the more nuanced descriptive passages (風景,詩意,心境等)but as long as she can understand enough to keep reading, I am good.

So far, Georgia read a few pages of「神雕俠侶」and says she doesn’t need zhuyin.  So, that’s a good start.  (I don’t think she got much of the first page describing the setting and mood of the story but that part is not all that important.)

So, we’ll see how it goes over the next few days!  If it gets difficult, I can always resort to “Scaffold Reading Experience” or SRE to help her get over the bump.

 

第二個夢 啞妻 (Six Dreams – Short Story #2)

民國前二十年左右,北平城里。
這是個庭院很深的大宅子,包括三進房子和三個花園,門口有石獅子守門,黑漆的大門上挂著兩個銅門環,門上方懸著一塊金色的匾——逸廬。這是柳逸云的家。柳逸云是標准的書香世家,也是北平的望族。
在內花園里,正有兩個少婦坐在一棵大槐樹下刺繡,另外兩個丫鬟垂手侍立著。這是一個仲夏的午后,樹上,蟬鳴正喧囂著,除了蟬鳴之外,一切靜悄悄的。兩個丫鬟搖頭晃腦的直打瞌睡。“哦——”突然,少婦中比較年長的一個輕輕的惊呼一聲,挺直了腰,把手放在隆起的腹部上。
“怎樣了?”較年輕的一個緊張的問。
“沒什么,”前者微笑了起來,一种屬于母性驕傲与喜悅混合起來的笑。“我覺得孩子在肚里練太极拳。他踹了我一腳,我几乎可以抓住他的小腳。”她用手在肚子上輕輕的撫摸著。
“噢,表姐,”年輕的一個說:“怎么我肚子里從來不動呢?”她也用手撫摸著肚子。“你還早呢,你只有三個月,是不會動的,等到六、七個月的時候,就會動了。”針線被放在膝上,兩個少婦熱心的談了起來。
“不知道是男孩還是女孩,”年長的一個說:“逸云已經快四十了,我也將近三十,這才是頭一遭怀孕,希望能是個男孩子,如果是女孩,我就要給逸云納妾了。”
“我也希望生個儿子,方家三代單傳,現在,兩個老人家都把希望寄托在我身上,巴不得我一口气給他們生十個八個孩子……”“哈,生孩子又不是下小豬……”
“表姐!”“噢,”前者為自己失言說出的粗話臉紅了。“我們來算個卦,看看是男孩子還是女孩。”
“你一定是男孩子,你的肚子尖尖的。”
“表妹,”年長的一個,也就是柳太太說:“假若我們都生了儿子,我們要讓他們結拜為兄弟……”
“對了,”方太太說:“我們表姐妹這樣好,如果都是女儿,就結為姐妹,如果是一男一女……”
“就結為夫婦。”柳太太接口說。
“一言為定嗎?”方太太問。
“當然!”柳太太嚴肅的說,從手上取下了一個玉環,遞給方太太:“我們先交換信物,以后不許反悔喲!”
“那一個反悔就不得好死!”方太太說,取下了脖子里的一條琥珀項煉,鄭重的交給柳太太。然后,兩個婦人相視而笑,方太太握住了柳太太的手說:“表姐,從此,我們更親一層了。明天我要回家了,下個月你到我家做客去。”“挺著大肚子,怪不好意思的,等滿月以后再去吧。今天我們說的話可得算數喲!”
“你們柳老爺不會反對吧?”
“什么話?當然不會!你們老爺呢?”
“也絕無問題!”兩個女人微笑的對望著,手握著手。兩個孩子的終身就在她們握著的手里決定了。
柳太太生了個男孩子,取名靜言。
方太太生了個女孩子,取名依依。

五年后,在同一棵槐樹底下,兩個女人又聚首了。方太太死命拉著柳太太的衣袖,一把眼淚一把鼻涕的說:
“表姐,你怪我好了,你罵我好了,我一定要悔婚!那怕我應了誓,不得好死,我也要悔婚。我怎么想得到依依生下來是個,是個,是個啞巴!我不能毀掉你們靜言一輩子,表姐,你給他另訂一頭婚事吧!”
“表妹,慢慢來。”柳太太沉痛而嚴肅的說:“假如你們依依是個正常的孩子,我同意你悔婚,現在依依既然是個啞巴孩子,我們柳家絕不悔婚!表妹,你這一生也夠苦了,唯一一個孩子又是殘廢,老爺又三房四房的討姨太太……你想想,依依如果不嫁給靜言,將來難道做一輩子老姑娘?你自己也受一輩子气嗎?我們柳家不是無信無義的,我們姐妹的交情也不止這些,是不是?表妹,我告訴你,靜言除非娶依依,要不然我永不許他娶妻!”“哦,表姐!”方太太喊了一聲,抱住柳太太,失聲痛哭。柳太太安慰的拍著方太太的肩膀,輕輕的說:
“放心吧,表妹,一切都是命中注定,老天自會有安排。”
柳靜言坐在書房里,煩躁的望著面前的書本。革命帶來一個新的世界,也帶來了許多新的思想,但他卻依然要犧牲在舊社會的指腹為婚之下。這是不公平的,但他卻無法反抗。婚期已經擇定了,就等著他去做那個倒楣的新郎。他從沒有見過方依依,或者,在很小的時候,他們曾經一起玩過。反正,他對依依一點印象都沒有,一個啞巴,憑什么他該娶一個啞巴呢?只為了母親那個近乎儿戲的指腹為婚!近來,他看了許多翻譯的西洋文學,他欣賞他們那种赤裸裸的戀愛,沒有媒妁之言,更沒有這种荒謬無比的指腹為婚!他的一些朋友們,都擁有世界上最美好的嬌妻,而他,從一落地起,就被命運判定了要有一個啞巴太太。他真想反叛這個命運,甚至想逃婚。受到新思潮的薰染,柳靜言對于這許多傳統的舊習慣都感不滿,尤其對于中國古老的婚姻法。兩個毫無感情,未謀一面的陌生人,就硬要在一夜之間結成夫妻,這确實是不合情理的!“我要反抗!我要反抗!”他郁憤的想。
書房門被推開了,柳逸云走了進來,看到了父親,柳靜言立即站起身來,垂手而立,恭敬的喊了一聲:
“爸爸!”柳逸云在椅子里坐下來,他是個滿腹詩書,有著頑固的舊腦筋舊思想的老人。在這個家庭里,他有著無比的權威和力量。望了柳靜言一眼,他安靜的說:
“靜言,過來!”柳靜言向前面走了兩步。
“明天起,不必到書房來了,”柳逸云說:“好好准備婚事,你知道,男婚女嫁,這是人生的一件大事,也是做人的義務。”
“是的,爸爸。”柳靜言恭敬的應了一聲。心中卻在忿忿不平。准備婚事,還有什么要他准備的呢?除了做新郎必須自己去做之外,別的事大家早給他做了。他真奇怪,為什么他們不連新郎也代他做呢?
“關于你的這門婚事,”柳逸云沉吟的說:“我知道你心里不大愿意。但是你母親和方家指腹為婚的,當初并沒有料到依依會是個啞巴。我們讀書人,以信義為重,絕不能因對方是個啞巴而退婚,你了解嗎?”

 

神雕俠侶(The Return of the Condor Heroes)

第一回 風月無情


「越女採蓮秋水畔,窄袖輕羅,暗露雙金釧。照影摘花花似面,芳心只共絲爭亂。
雞尺溪頭風浪晚,霧重煙輕,不見來時伴。隱隱歌聲歸桌遠,離愁引著江南岸。」
一陣輕柔婉轉的歌聲,飄在煙水濛濛的湖面上。歌聲發自一艘小船之中,船裡五個少女和歌嘻笑,盪舟採蓮。她們唱的曲子是北宋大詞人歐陽修所作的「蝶戀花」詞,寫的正是越女蓮的情景,雖只寥六十字,但季節、時辰、所在、景物以及越女的容貌、衣著、首飾、心情,無一不描繪得歷歷如見,下半闋更是寫景中有敘事,敘事中挾抒情,自近而遠,余意不盡。歐陽修在江南為官日久,吳山越水,柔情密意,盡皆融入長短句中。宋人不論達官貴人,或是里巷小民,無不以唱詞為樂,是以柳永新詞一出,有井水處皆歌,而江南春岸折柳,秋湖採蓮,隨伴的往往便是歐詞。
時當南宋理宗年間,地處嘉興南湖。節近中秋,荷葉漸殘,蓮肉飽實。這一陣歌聲傳入湖邊一個道姑耳中。她在一排柳樹下悄立已久,晚風拂動她杏黃色道袍的下擺,拂動她頸中所插拂塵的萬縷柔絲,心頭思潮起伏,當真亦是「芳心只共絲爭亂」。只聽得歌聲漸漸遠去,唱的是歐陽修另一首「蝶戀花」詞,一陣風吹來,隱隱送來兩句:「風月無情人暗換,舊遊如夢空腸斷……」歌聲甫歇,便是一陣格格嬌笑。
那道姑一聲長歎,提起左手,瞧著染滿了鮮血的手掌,喃喃自語:「那又有什麼好笑?小妮子只是瞎唱,渾不解詞中相思之苦、惆悵之意。」
在那道姑身後十餘丈處,一個青袍長鬚的老者也是一悄直立不動,只有當「風月無情人暗換,舊遊如夢空腸斷」那兩句傳到之時,發出一聲極輕極輕的歎息。」
小船在碧琉璃般的湖面上滑過,舟中五個少女中三人十五六歲上下,另外兩個都只九歲。兩個幼女是中表之親,表姊姓程,單名一個英字,表妹姓陸,名無雙。兩人相差半歲。
三個年長少女唱著歌兒,將小舟從荷葉叢中蕩將出來。程英道:「表妹你瞧,這位老伯伯還在這兒。」說著伸手指向垂柳下的一人。
那人滿頭亂髮,鬍鬚也是蓬蓬鬆鬆如刺蝟一般,鬚髮油光烏黑,照說年紀不大,可是滿臉皺紋深陷,卻似七八十歲老翁,身穿藍布直綴,頸中掛著個嬰兒所用的錦緞圍涎,圍涎上繡著幅花貓撲蝶圖,已然陳舊破爛。
陸無雙道:「這怪人在這兒坐了老半天啦,怎麼動也不動?」程英道:「別叫怪人,要叫『老伯伯』。你叫他怪人,他要生氣的。」陸無雙笑道:「他還不怪嗎?這麼老了,頭頸裡卻掛了個圍涎。他生了氣,要是鬍子都翹了起來,那才好看呢。」從小舟中拿起一個蓮蓬,往那人頭上擲去。
小舟與那怪客相距數丈,陸無雙年紀雖小,手上勁力竟自不弱,這一擲也是甚準。程英叫了聲:「表妹!」待要阻止,已然不及,只見那蓮蓬逕往怪客臉上飛去。那怪客頭一仰,已咬住蓮蓬,也不伸手去拿,舌頭卷處,咬住蓮蓬便大嚼起來。五個少女見他竟不剝出蓮子,也不怕苦澀,就這麼連瓣連衣的吞吃,互相望了幾眼,忍不格格而笑,一面划船近前,走上岸來。
程英走到那人身邊,拉一拉他衣襟,道:「老伯伯,這樣不好吃的。」從袋裡取出一個蓮蓬,劈開蓮房,剝出十幾顆蓮子,再將蓮子外的青皮撕開,取出蓮子中苦味的芯兒,然後遞在怪客手裡。那怪客嚼了幾口,但覺滋味清香鮮美,與適才所吃的大不相同,裂嘴向程英一笑,點了點頭。程英又剝了幾枚蓮子遞給他。那怪客將蓮子拋入口中,一陣亂嚼,仰天說:「跟我來?」說著大踏步向西便走。
陸無雙一拉程英的手,道:「表姊,咱們跟他去。」三個女伴膽小,忙道:「快回家去罷,別走遠了惹你娘罵。」陸無雙肩肩嘴扮個鬼臉,見那怪客走得甚快,說道:「你不來算啦。」放脫表姊的手,向前追去。程英與表妹一同出來玩耍,不能撇下她自歸,只得跟去。那三個女伴雖比她們大了好幾歲,但個個怕羞膽怯,只叫了幾聲,便見那怪客與程陸二人先後走入了桑樹後。
那怪客走得甚快,見程陸二人腳步小跟隨不上,先還停步等了幾次,到後來不耐煩起來,突然轉身,長臂伸處,一手一個,將兩個女孩兒挾在腋下,飛步而行。二女只聽耳邊風聲颯然,路上的石塊青草不住在眼前移動。陸無雙害怕起來,叫道:「放下我,放下我!」那怪客那裡理她,反而走得更快了。陸無雙仰起頭來,張口往他手掌緣上猛力咬去。那怪客手掌一碰,只把她牙齒撞得隱隱生痛。陸無雙只得鬆開牙齒,一張嘴可不閒著,拚命的大叫大嚷。程英卻是默不作聲。
那怪客又奔一陣,將二人放下地來。當地是個墳場。程英的小臉嚇成慘白,陸無雙卻脹得滿臉通紅。程英道:「老伯伯,我們要回家了,不跟你玩啦!」
那怪客兩眼瞪視著她,一言不發。程英見他目光之中流露出一股哀愁淒惋、自憐自傷的神色,不自禁的起了同情之心,輕輕道:「要是沒人陪你玩,明天你再到湖邊來,我剝蓮子給你吃。」那怪客歎道:「是啊,十年啦,十年來都沒人陪我玩。」突然間目現凶光,惡狠狠的道:「何沅君呢?何沅君到那裡去了?」
程英見他突然間聲色俱厲,心裡害怕,低聲道:「我……我……我不知道。」那怪客抓住她手臂,將她身子搖了幾搖,低沉著嗓子道:「何沅君呢?」程英給他嚇得幾欲哭了出來,淚水在眼眶中滾來滾去,卻始終沒有流下。那怪客咬牙切齒的道:「哭啊,哭啊!你幹麼不哭?哼,你在十年前就是這樣。我不准你嫁給他,你說不捨得離開我,可是非跟他走不可。你說感激我對你的恩情,離開我心裡很是難過,呸!都是騙人的鬼話。你要是真的傷心,又為什麼哭?」
他狠狠的凝視著程英。程英早給嚇得臉無人色,但淚水總是沒掉下來。那怪客用力搖幌她身子。程英牙齒咬住嘴唇,心中只說:「我不哭,我不哭!」那怪客道:「哼,你不肯為我掉一滴眼淚,連一滴眼淚也捨不得,我活著還有什麼用?」猛然放脫程英,雙腿一彎,矮著身子,往身旁一塊墓碑上撞去,砰的一聲,登時暈了過去,倒在地下。
陸無雙叫道:「表姊,快逃。」拉著程英的手轉身便走。程英奔出幾步,只見怪客頭上泊泊冒血,心中不忍,道:「老伯伯別撞死啦,瞧瞧他去。」陸無雙道:「死了,那不變了鬼麼?」程英吃了一驚,既怕他變鬼,又怕他忽然醒轉,再抓住自己說些古里古怪的瘋話,可是見他滿臉鮮血,實在可憐,自己安慰自己:「老伯伯不是鬼,我不怕,他不會再抓我。」一步步的緩緩走近,叫道:「老伯伯,你痛麼?」
怪客呻吟了一聲,卻不回答。程英膽子大了些,取手帕給他按住傷口。但他這一撞之勢著實猛惡,頭上傷得好生厲害,轉瞬之間,一條手帕就給鮮血浸透。她用左手緊緊按住傷口,過了一會,鮮血不再流出。怪客微微睜眼,見程英坐在身旁,歎道:「你又救我作甚?還不如讓我死了乾淨。」程英見他醒轉,很是高興,柔聲道:「你頭上痛不痛?」怪客搖搖頭,淒然道:「頭上不痛,心裡痛。」程英聽得奇怪,心想:「怎麼頭上破了這麼一大塊,反而頭上不痛心裡痛?」當下也不多問,解下腰帶,給他包紮好了傷處。
怪客歎了口氣,站起身來,道:「你是永不肯再見我的了,那麼咱們就這麼分手了麼?你一滴眼淚也不肯為我流麼?」程英聽他這話說得傷心,又見他一張醜臉雖然鮮血斑斑的甚是怕人,眼中卻滿是求懇之色,不禁心中酸楚,兩道淚水奪眶而出。怪客見到她的眼淚,臉上神色又是歡喜,又是淒苦,哇的一聲哭了出來。
程英見他哭得心酸,自己眼淚更如珍珠斷線般從臉頰上滾將下來,輕輕伸出雙手,摟住了他的脖子。陸無雙見他二人莫名其妙的摟著痛哭,一股笑意竟從心底直透上來,再也忍耐不住,縱聲哈哈大笑。
那怪客聽到笑聲,仰天歎道:「是啊,嘴裡說永遠不離開我,年紀一大,便將過去的說話都忘了,只記著這個新相識的小白臉。你笑得可真開心啊!」低頭仔細再瞧程英,說道:「是的,是的,你是阿沅,是我的小阿沅。我不許你走,不許你跟那小白臉畜生走。」說著緊緊抱住了程英。
陸無雙見他神情激動,卻也不敢再笑了。

六個夢 (Six dreams)

I am very happy that 11 year old DD#2 “Georgia” can read 「六個夢」by famed author 瓊瑤 now. I printed out several pages of the first short story (without zhuyin) and she read it just fine.  She can explain to me the story  paragraph by paragraph.  She can also read aloud at least 90% of the characters.  I think she is still ahead of her elder sister at the same age.  So, yeah!  I will have her read a couple of these short stories this week.

The following is how this story starts.

第一個夢 追尋

民國初年,北平。那一天,對婉君而言,真像是場大夢。一清早,家裡擠滿了姨姨姑姑,到處亂哄哄的。媽媽拿出一件繡滿了花的紅色緞子衣服,換掉了她平日穿慣的短襖長裙,七八個人圍著她,給她搽胭脂抹粉,戴上珠串珠花,遮上頭帔,然後媽媽抱了她一下,含著淚說:「小婉,離開了媽媽,別再鬧孩子脾氣了。到了那邊,就要像個大人一樣了,要聽話,要乖,要學著侍候公公婆婆,知道嗎?」婉君緊閉著嘴,呆呆的坐著,像個小洋娃娃。然後,她被硬塞進那個掛著簾子、垂著珠珞的花轎,在鞭炮和鼓樂齊鳴中,花轎被抬了起來。直到此刻,她才突然被一種恐怖和驚惶所征服,她緊緊的抓住轎桿,「哇」的一聲哭了起來,拚命叫媽媽。於是媽媽的臉在轎門口出現了,用非常柔和的聲音說:「小婉,好好的去吧,到那兒,大家都會喜歡你的。別哭了,當心把胭脂都哭掉了。」

轎子抬走了,媽媽的臉不見了。她躲在轎子裡,抽抽噎噎的一直到周家大門口。然後糊糊塗塗的,她被人攙了出來,在許許多多陌生人的注視下、評論下,走進了周家的大廳。

她一直記得那紅色的地毯,就在那地毯上,她被人拉扯著,扶掖著,和一個十三、四歲的漂亮的男孩子拜了天地,正式成為周家的兒媳。事後她才知道和她拜堂的那個神采飛揚的男孩子,並不是她的丈夫,而是她丈夫的大弟弟仲康。她的丈夫伯健那時正臥病在床,而由仲康代表他拜了天地。這種提前迎娶被稱作沖喜。或者,她真的是一顆福星,無論如何,她進門後,伯健的病卻果然好了。

那一天,婉君才剛八歲。

狗年新年快樂 (Happy Chinese New Year – Year of the Dog)

Happy Chinese New Year!!

跟各位家長分享女兒們CLE(Chinese Language Ecosystem) 進入另ㄧ個階段,用學到的中文帶給別人喜悅~

My DDs got to a new level in their CLE, namely using the Chinese they learned to give joy to others!  They were invited to perform at a Chinese New Year banquet in Atlanta.  Though we are new in town and never had this kind of opportunity in rural eastern NC before, we decided to give it a shot.  I decided to buy and learn to play a bass guitar for the classic CNY song “恭喜恭喜“, as there are only four notes to play!  We have had so much fun rehearsing for their first public performance!

The girls had a successful performance this weekend.   Here are their greeting and CNY blessing.

 

Then, DD#1 sang 周華健’s 「朋友」.

 

Finally, DD#2 sang 陳歌辛‘s 「恭喜恭喜」.

 

This is another win for their CLE!  DD#1 did make me promise that our band will learn to play an English song next time~  It is all about balance!

女醫 明妃傳 (The Imperial Doctress) & Speak (我不再沈默)

DD#2 “Georgia” finished watching all fifty episodes of 女醫 明妃傳 (The Imperial Doctress).  This historical fictional TV series is based on historical figures and events in the Ming Dynasty during the 15th century, including 土木堡之變 and 奪門之變.  Georgia greatly enjoyed the show, given the protagonist is female and there is a romance storyline as well.

Now comes the “fun part”, at least for me!

I got on Wikipedia and put together the “real” story on paper.  I first read it to Georgia and now have her read it aloud, over several days.  She should learn much from the reading, as it is written in slightly more formal Chinese.  Having zhuyin helps with pronunciation greatly.

明英宗(朱祁鎮)

早年

明英宗是明宣宗長子,生母記載為孫貴妃(後立為皇后),但《明史·后妃傳》稱其母為身份不詳的宮人,為孫貴妃所養。生後四月即立為皇太子。

即位

宣德十年(1435年)正月,宣宗崩,時年7歲的朱祁鎮即位,是為英宗,改次年為正統元年。英宗在位初期由太皇太后張氏輔政,內閣由三楊(楊士奇、楊榮、楊溥)主持,仁宣之治得以延續。

正統六年(1441年),正式親政,同年定首都為北京,結束南京名義上的首都地位。正統七年(1442年),張太后去世,三楊以年老淡出政壇,宦官王振開始專權,其黨羽遍天下,百官為之側目,這是明朝第一次宦官專權。

土木堡之變

正統十四年(1449年),瓦剌蒙古大舉南侵,王振勸英宗以五十萬大軍親征,沿途鋪張。返師途中,行至土木堡被瓦剌太師也先所敗,明軍「死者數十萬」,英宗被俘虜,王振被明英宗之護衛將軍樊忠殺死,樊忠殺死王振前曰:「吾為天下誅此賊!」以所持棰擊殺王振,力圖突圍,殺數十人後戰死。

隨後,也先挾持英宗南下進攻北京,皇太后孫氏命英宗之弟郕王朱祁鈺監國,不久郕王即帝位,是為明景帝,改次年為景泰元年,尊英宗為太上皇。

英宗在土木之變被瓦剌人俘虜,生死未明,錢皇后一邊拿出宮中積蓄想贖回英宗,一邊為此經常蜷腿伏著哭泣,日以繼夜,因此一腿落下了殘疾,並哭瞎了一隻眼睛。

南宮幽禁

于謙領導的北京保衛戰勝利後,瓦剌倡議和談,欲送還英宗。景帝不欲英宗回來。景泰元年(1450年),楊善變賣家產,孤身出使瓦剌,又在景帝不同意的情況下,說服瓦剌太師也先,將英宗迎回燕京。

英宗回國後,景帝怕失去皇位,將其兄長英宗軟禁於南宮,令錦衣衛防守嚴密,宮門不但上鎖,並且灌鉛,食物僅能由小洞遞入。景泰三年,又廢原立為太子的英宗長子朱見深為沂王,另立己子朱見濟為儲君。但朱見濟在次年去世,但景帝仍不同意復立朱見深為太子。

英宗在南宮飲食常缺,又不得禮遇,全賴錢皇后寬解才得以度日。錢皇后常常寬慰丈夫,並率領諸妃織布賣錢,以謀生存,因而英宗感念錢皇后的懿德。英宗復辟後,沒有冊立皇太子生母周貴妃為后,仍尊患有殘疾且無子的錢氏為皇后。這是明初以來第一次立非太子生母的女性為母儀天下的皇后。

奪門之變

景泰八年(1457年)正月,景帝病重,不能臨朝,手握重兵的石亨、徐有貞等人勾結太監曹吉祥,率死士攻入南宮,擁英宗復辟。十六日夜,英宗自東華門入宮,於奉天殿即位,黎明時開宮門,諭令百官,改元天順,史稱「奪門之變」。景帝被禁,不久死亡,死因不明,有謂代宗病癒,英宗為怕代宗復起,令太監以布帛縊死,得年三十歲。景帝死後追貶為郕王,群臣議殉葬。及唐皇貴妃(以景泰七年進宮,八年封貴妃,寵幸冠後廷。),妃無言,遂殉之,葬於西郊金山景泰陵。

英宗復辟後,即以謀逆罪將兵部尚書于謙、大學士王文等人下獄,初尚言「于謙實有功」而不忍殺之,因徐有貞力主「不殺于謙,今日之事無名」,遂於五日後斬殺于謙於西市。天下冤之,後英宗亦悔。後來曹吉祥與石亨等人勾結,先設法中傷徐有貞,讓徐被流放。而後石亨與曹吉祥因參與曹石之變,石亨被囚至死,曹吉祥則被凌遲處死。

天順一朝,英宗勤於理政,病危遺言,取消了自明太祖以來的宮妃殉葬制度。天順八年(1464年)正月崩,享年38歲。葬入明十三陵中的裕陵。英宗與錢皇后感情頗深,錢皇后無子;因周妃專橫,英宗擔心死後嗣子明憲宗(周氏所生)不尊崇她的地位,所以遺命「皇后他日壽終,宜合葬」後來錢皇后死時,周太后果然不欲其祔葬裕陵,由於有英宗的遺詔,經過大臣力爭方得與英宗合葬。

談允賢

明朝天順五年(1461年)出生醫學世家,祖父談復、祖母茹氏皆為當時名醫,父親談綱官至南京刑部主事。談允賢自小聰慧,祖母就讓她學醫,就在祖母的教導下學會精湛的醫術,祖母去世前將一生所收集、編寫的藥方病理都傳給了談允賢。談允賢後嫁楊姓男子為妻,後來生了三女和一子,每當子女有病,她都親自為他們診治。直至其祖母去世,她才真正在外行醫。

明朝在儒家保守思想的氛圍下,許多上流社會的婦女因男女之防,不願請男醫生診治,因此常常發生貽誤病情的情況。談允賢女醫的名聲使這些婦女紛紛找她治病,在許多成功的案例後,談允賢的名聲也漸漸的傳遍各地。在明朝,民間精通醫術婦女人數漸多,皇帝下旨,選取其中佼佼者,選中的入官冊,以備召用,稱為醫婆或醫婦。當時以談允賢名氣最盛,凡皇家眷屬生病,羞於請男御醫診治的,都請談允賢入宮醫治。

正德五年(1510年),50歲時談允賢將祖母留下的藥方病理,匯集自己多年行醫的經驗,寫成了一部《女醫雜言》流傳後世。

嘉靖三十五年(1556年),談允賢病逝,享壽96歲。

杭皇后

杭氏原為郕王朱祁鈺登基前的側室,在1448年生下朱祁鈺唯一的兒子朱見濟。明英宗土木堡之變後,丈夫朱祁鈺被擁立登基,是為明景帝,並立明英宗子朱見深為皇太子。

1449年,景帝即位後封郕王妃汪氏為皇后,封杭氏為貴妃。景泰三年(1452年),景帝欲廢黜皇太子朱見深,改立朱見濟為皇太子。汪皇后對此堅決反對,勸說景帝之所以能即位純屬僥倖,萬不可將朱見深廢去太子之位。景帝發怒,將汪的皇后之位、侄子的太子之位都廢掉,改立杭貴妃為皇后、其子朱見濟為皇太子。次年皇太子朱見濟夭折。景泰七年,杭氏崩逝,諡號肅孝皇后。明英宗在奪門之變復辟後,對當年景帝廢去己子朱見深的太子之位懷恨在心,因而下詔將杭氏「肅孝皇后」的諡號廢去,同時也毀壞杭氏的陵墓。

孝淵景皇后(汪氏

汪氏姿色美麗,正統十年(1445年),冊汪氏為郕王妃。正統十四年(1449年)秋,明英宗朱祁鎮因土木之變被俘,郕王朱祁鈺登基為帝,冊汪妃為皇后。汪皇后生下女兒,沒有生下兒子。

汪皇后性格剛毅偏執,心懷仁德。景泰三年(1452年),景帝欲立自己的兒子(杭貴妃所生)朱見濟為太子,而廢原太子朱見深(景帝侄子,英宗長子),汪皇后竭力反對,因而觸怒景帝,被廢,杭妃被立為皇后。

景泰八年(1457年)一月,景帝病重,奪門之變後,英宗復位,降景帝為郕王,汪氏復稱郕王妃。天順元年(1457年),郕王逝世後,英宗讓其後宮嬪妃殉葬。當論及汪氏殉葬與否時,李賢不贊同,以汪氏已廢且幽禁深宮,況兩女年幼,應不予殉葬。朱見深復立為太子後,知道汪氏當年支持繼續以他為太子,因而對汪氏相當孝敬,亦上言於英宗。經英宗同意,汪氏得以活命,從宮中遷至郕王府。

昔日英宗被俘後,錢皇后在宮日夜為丈夫奔忙憂勞,汪皇后也時常安慰和救濟她。及至出宮,在錢皇后的照顧下,汪氏得以將所有私產和服侍她的宮女太監都帶出宮中。汪氏在外府齋素事佛。每至歲時令節,孫太后與錢皇后必召汪氏入宮中飲宴,敘家人禮。憲宗即位後,因昔日汪氏曾保護自己,對其厚禮優待。

正德元年(1506年)十二月,汪氏薨逝,終年80歲,葬於金山景泰陵。

 

          

 

I tried to find another TV historical drama which can teach a lot about the salient part of Chinese history but is also fun to watch for a tween girl.  Unfortunately, she has not liked 三國演義.  We watched the first episode of 東周列國春秋篇.  It was very educational, starting with 周幽王烽火戲諸侯 but, unfortunately, very boring for a 11 year old girl.  Not to mention it was produced twenty years ago.  There are many excellent historical TV drama series such as 漢武大帝, 大秦帝國, 雍正王朝, 康熙王朝, etc. but I know that my tween girl would not find them interesting, unfortunately.

 

At the recommendation of some parents, Georgia and I are starting to watch「那年花開月正圓」, set in late 19th century China, with a female lead protagonist loosely based on a historical figure.  So, this seems to be a good fit for my DD.  Hopefully, she will learn a few things about the turbulent time at the end of the Ching dynasty.

 

 

“Speak” by Laurie Anderson

At the mean time, 14 years old DD#1 “Charlotte” is reading “Speak” by Laurie Anderson, a New York Times best seller in early 2000s, for her English class.  It is a trauma novel about a high school freshman who was raped at a summer party.  Charlotte had trouble telling me the plot of the story all in Chinese, which I totally understand, given the type of language involved.  It is not something she read or we discussed in Chinese before.  So, I put together kind of a synopsis from various internet sources, as below.  Too bad there is not a Wikipedia entry in Chinese on this book.  Hopefully, we will get to go over these over the weekend.

 

我不再沈默

初中畢業的暑假,梅琳達和好朋友一塊參加了一個「告別暑假」的狂歡派對。在聚會上,許多人瘋狂縱樂,梅琳達也喝醉了酒,繼而被一個高中男生強姦。梅琳達撥通了911報警電話,卻因為創傷的突然和巨大,握著聽筒失聲無言。警察過來驅散了聚會,但她卻沒有機會和勇氣說出報警的真正原由。

警察的到來徹底毀了那場派對,於是梅琳達被眾人記恨,也毀了自己在學校的交友圈。於是,進入高中的第一天起,米蘭達就知道自己是個沒有朋友的孤鳥,時不時還會在校園裡撞見強姦犯,受到他的挑釁。老朋友們孤立她,父母老師不理解她。從此以後,米蘭達將自己封閉起來,以沉默面對周圍的謊言與偽善。但是,她的內心卻得不到相對的平靜,有一件事情盤旋在心裡,揮之不去,她不願回想;即使努力想要遺忘,回憶仍舊如影隨形,令她痛苦萬分。於是她選擇一個人背負起這一切,遠離人群,遠離喧囂。對任何事任何人看起來漠不關心,不發言,不表態,不說話。任憑父母的誤解,朋友的唾棄,老師的詆毀,她依然選擇沉默面對一切。她之所以不開口講話,是因為當她想傾訴的時候,卻找不到人傾聽,朋友,父母都沒有嘗試跟她溝通。

米蘭達在學校找不到歸屬,回家只見父母荒謬的爭吵。直到有一天,她遇到了美術老師,他讓她用自己的想像和畫筆去畫一棵樹,用一年的時間去畫這棵樹。她開始尋找到了一個出口,美術課成為她的避風港,繪畫給了她表達和宣洩情感的途徑。當身邊所有人都認為她得了喉頭炎,加上精神出了問題,必須接受心理輔導,她選擇了「沈默」作為反抗;而美術老師彷彿看出她心中的祕密,引導她用無聲的方式,在期末作品中釋放不能說的心情。終於,米蘭達決定不再沈默,說出那天晚上所發生的事,讓她慢慢走出陰影。

 

Anna and the French Kiss

Let’s see.  What are we up to lately, with their Chinese….

Over the Christmas break, “Charlotte”, DD#1 at 14 years of age, “Georgia”, DD#2 at 11 years of age, and I got to spend a lot of time talking about family values, in Chinese of course.  In fact, I set aside about an hour a day to do so over their two weeks’ break.

Charlotte finished reading the Chinese edition of “My Sister’s Keeper” recently.  She has moved onto “Anna and the French Kiss” by Stephanie Perkins.  The translated names of the various localities give her some trouble but that’s about it, she says.  Let’s hope she is right about that.

Charlotte is also working on singing and playing (guitar) right the song “朋友“ or “Friends”  by 周華健.  Here is a small part of her practice:

As for Georgia, besides her Chinese lessons, she continues to read the books in the “世界少年文學精選“ series.  I don’t mind that she continues to read books with zhuyin, to broaden her vocabulary and content exposure further.  My estimate is that she reads about 500 characters a minutes, which means that she probably can read similar books without zhuyin at about 250 characters a minutes.  She continues to watch a popular 2016 Chinese TV drama, 女醫明妃傳though she loves to watch the American TV show “Fresh Off the Boat” every now and then.

The two of them continue to converse in Chinese at home, about 80% of the time.