This book was published quite by chance, and it is still like a story even now. In order to collect materials for my major themed creation, I often went to the areas around Qinghai Province for sketching some figures and landscapes. Every time when I practiced sketching there, I was surrounded by the local residents who would squat by me the whole afternoon, and I was used to that. One day, while I was sketching on a bazaar in Xining City, I noticed that a middle-aged woman in elegant clothes was sitting behind me for a long time. She smiled while she watched my brush-cleaning paper which was a pamphlet of GUIDE TO LIFE. It had been written several years before based on my feelings about the relationship between life and art, with contents of some common sense of life, such as how to cook etc. The pamphlet had no readers after its publication, some commented behind me that the book had neither depicted people¡¯s life, nor possessed aesthetics. Some even jeered that I wanted to take this to the preliminary selection for the national art exhibition. I got angry in some way at first, but took it for granted as time passed. Piled in my little bedroom, the two cases of pamphlets were covered with dust. So I used them to clean my painting brushes (luckily the paper was soft). Seeing that the bush-cleaning paper made the middle-aged woman smile, I politely greeted her asking why she hadn¡¯t been to work. She replied that she was working in the municipal government, and she came out to inspect the city environment. She asked me whether I would be interested to compile a guide to living in Qinghai Province, about the daily life. I was too flattered. Then she invited me to a nearby Lanzhou noodle restaurant for some local dishes. We exchanged our names, and I got to know that her surname was Guo, so I called her Director Guo thereafter. We had a long chat, discussing the family, career, love, local customs as well as anecdotes. From the dialogue, I leant that she was responsible for women¡¯s affairs in the municipal government, and partook in the publicity work. No wonder why she knew so many things. At the end, she encouraged me that this work was of great significance, and asked to do it without fear. Frankly speaking, I didn¡¯t have much confidence at first (partly because I was suspicious of the meaning of re-compiling this book), yet the trust of Director Guo and my feeling to the people of the South-western areas inspired me to continue the task, and overcome some minor difficulties. Several months later, after repeated modifications, I finally completed the compilation of this book.
Everybody has a family, and every family has the basic necessities of life. How to properly manage the daily life becomes the issue everybody hopes to solve. Many minor things in our lives seem to be trivial and simple, but they contain a great many scientific knowledge and skills. You may live happier and better if you master these knowledge and skills. Due to the time limit, there must be some errors and omissions in this book, and I sincerely welcome comments and suggestions from the readers. This book is very thin though, it embodies the great efforts of many people. I would extend my appreciation to those who have selflessly helped me with the compilation. I would give my thanks to Director Guo whose trust absolute encouraged me to complete this book, and whose easy-going attitude made me forget that we had just acquainted for half a year. I would especially thank Guo Xiaoyan, Guo Xiaoyan, Guo Xiaoli, Huiwei, Sun Shanchun, for their sincere comments. I am grateful to Sheep Head Wang (Wang Jiannong) for his secret recipe in preparing the sheep head meat. As commemoration, I would send my respect to Haizi and Changyao, it was their poetry that gave us some warmth in the chill wind. I would also extend my gratitude to Lu Yi who squeezed time from his busy schedule to discuss the vomiting phenomenon under different situations, and the things needed to consider. He even composed some poems for this book. I also want to thank Dongxing who spent a lot of time to help me make the templates for training the eyes, and help me with the research on the training of the old aged. Thanks are given to Jeff Wall, Charlotte Moorman and Victor Vasarely whose poems gave me inspiration. I would thank Zhaxi who patiently showed me how to shear the sheep, without even taking the time to smoke. I am also grateful to my student Wang Mei who spent her summer holiday in make the research on the bird flu around places in Qinghai, and made me feel warm by taking great care of me when I threw up due to high altitude reaction. It is unnecessary to go into details. The accomplishment is made of all those minor and common details. Mediocre often makes me confuse the limit between science and life details, make them mix together interacting each other, just like a pot of mutton soup which tastes better with shredded corianders. At the time of submission of the manuscript, I was happy to get a phone call from Wang Kefu who told me that he had taken hand pulled noodles together with the chairman of the Artists Association two days earlier. The chairman praised him and he said that he had benefited a lot from the conversation. He said that he was collecting materials for painting a large picture of the trading market of cattle and sheep. He wanted to go down to the earth for the sculpt, and he wouldn¡¯t use the cow dung this time. He delightedly informed me that he was in love¡. The spring is coming, the breeze caresses my face. I¡¯ve never experienced such pleasure when I anticipate that the little book would bring convenience to the daily life of the people in South-western region. I realize that art turns out to be so intimate, that it is simply a cup of buttered tea, pleasant to your eyes, delicious to your mouth.