10
Apr
07

Fickle

So, once again, it’s late, and suddenly the blog muses open up and want to write… Or perhaps they’ve been trying to nudge my preoccupied mind past my vagaries and just as I finish closing the windows I can bear to close, they pounce.

And instead of one topic, I’ve got two battling it out…  Which would you prefer?  Fruit or leather pants?

My laptop is warming my lap, but my cold hands are impatient for me to finish knitting socks and begin handwarmers.  This may be because I’m headed for the mother of all yarn stores in Taipei in the next few days, combined with cold fingers from recently slicing and dicing a large papaya, half of which merrily went slipping down from the cutting board onto the floor.  Incredibly, considering me, I didn’t slice my fingers as I have been wont to do in the past.  (I did manage to give my head a significant bump this afternoon, so I suppose my injury quota for the day has been filled… actually that’s yet another story involving stray black dogs looking at me beseechingly in a corner eatery, and being refused my bones– perhaps the bump was poetic justice?)

I ended up with sweet papaya slime all over my fingers.  Papaya and mangoes are work-intensive fruits, since they require slicing and peeling, versus the ease of rinse-and-bite tsao tze or liem boo or apples.  I’m terribly lazy when it comes to food.

I was worried at first, peeling it before halving it, that it wasn’t quite ripe enough to be sweet (a nick off of the top and it had the aftertaste of papaya that I originally hated, slightly bitter).

(apologies for the out-of focus half-naked papaya– the little green focus boxes looked like they were on the papaya and not the chair behind it…  grr.)

However, there isn’t much to do with a half-peeled papaya, but finish slicing it.  So, I sliced and wondered if it would ripen redder in the refrigerator.  I ended up eating bits of it delicately with my knife (very pirate-like) and fingers.  It wasn’t the best papaya I’ve had, but it was sweet and not too soft to the tongue.  We’ll see if the rest ripens in the bing shiang (fridge).

Fruit is something of a tradition in our family (and yes, though there hasn’t been any clamoring for it, I know fruit-of-the-week is some months behind).  My grandfather used to come back from his walks laden with bunches of longan (or long yen— dragon eyes), brown round shelled sweet white transparent flesh around a smooth black pit that would come in branches almost like bunches of grapes.  There were always boxes of mangoes in the house from one of my grandfather’s adopted patients, who turned into a nurse who married a mango farmer.  My mother, brother, and I would always have a late night fruit binge after the dinner dishes were put away.  My father would slice up the pineapples or melons– I think he loves his Chinese cleaver, a big flat rectangle blade set into a wooden handle that delicately slices mushrooms and heaves melons into halves.  My mother used to peel and seed grapes for me to eat as a child, to prevent choking.  She said that she used to have to hide the meat behind the grape on a spoon in order to get me to eat it.

I promised myself when I came to Taiwan to eat fruit every day, and try all the different kinds.  I haven’t quite managed that– the 24 hr. fruit market is a bit of a walk away (but it’s always lovely to behold, so many colors and fresh fruit scents with its warm light spilling onto the dark sidewalk at night).  I’ll have to get some shots of it next time I go.  I am a lazybones at getting myself to the traditional market in the mornings, and I kept on getting ripped off by the sidewalk subway salespeople (except for the delectable strawberries).

When we were in Tainan strolling about, my mother and I picked up some fruit, and all the fruit sellers knew my grandfather.

I’ve been thinking about Tainan a lot lately.  It’s one of the few places I’ve felt truly at home.

It’s different now, the kids we used to be, running around and having massive water fights have all grown (not necessarily past a good water fight, just past having the freedom to run around the yard and play with the hoses on a lazy summer afternoon when we’re supposed to be moving orchids that have yellowing leaves now).  Now my grandparents are ashes in bong tzu, the house by the river where all my ancestors rest in rows of little wooden boxes with their names burned onto the front.

I’ve been thinking about returning, not just for a visit, but for a year, to work and live in the vicinity of where my ancestors worked and lived for generations.

There aren’t many of my family left there now– my aunt, my aunt and uncle, their daughter and her children live in Tainan, and my other aunt and uncle return there routinely, but it’s paltry compared to the fullness of the house in years past.

I’d have get and learn to drive a scooter, as there’s no subway system and the bus system is rather laughable.  I’d have to get a job and do all the adjustment things that took me a while in Taipei without the ease Taipei has for us waiguoren  (foreigners).  I’m bad a driving a car…  Let alone a scooter (which they say is easier, but I am very wibbly just on a bike..).

However, there’s a certain part of me that loves the idea of driving a scooter and getting a red helmet, and finally having an excuse to get and wear leather pants.  Not that I’ve noticed anyone on a scooter in leather pants lately (they’re all rocking yellow and blue ponchos).  However, naturally, one needs clothing that breaks the wind, and soft leather pants would fit that description.  Tainan might be a bit warm for leather pants, though.  My orthotic shoes would definitely not go with leather pants.  Would leather pants scuff on random outings into the countryside where stickleburrs are rampant?

I love the idea of the freedom one has with one’s own wheels.  If I could manage scooting about without getting myself killed or seriously disabled, then I imagine all driving in the US would suddenly be quite easy.

Scootering isn’t for the faint-of-heart though.  One of my co-workers is missing teeth from her attempts trying to learn.

And I’m already ancy with making left hand turns in a car in the neighborhood I grew up in.  (My driving history includes one wrecked side-view mirror driven into a very shiny black pick-up truck, one seriously bumped bumper, one popped tire from driving off of a road because I thought I recognized someone I hadn’t seen since middle school in a most unlikely place, and at least a couple of dents.  This impressive list is from not all that much driving, actually…  My parents still hold onto the little handle on the side of the passenger door with white knuckles when I drive.)

In spite of these contemplations, I’m fairly content at the moment.  Granted, the upstairs and downstairs neighbors leave something to be desired.  Granted, I’m still going through all of Erikson’s crises at once.  Granted, I’m not as productive as I’d like to be, and things can be a bit blase (with the accent grave which I don’t know how to input).  However, I like a lot of things about my job, have fun with my colleagues, have sunny windows, and fun suitemates, and dance once a week.  And I do love the MRT.

But with a scooter, a helmet, sunglasses, and leather pants…  I could be cool….

I’m giving myself one more year before I grow up, get a cottage, a lavender garden, a papasan, sunny windows, new meaningful work, and clay to bury my hands in again.  Oh, and wheels…  preferably a red beetle, though my conscience would want something hybrid and environmentally friendly, even though I’ve never been able to quite forget the illicit joy of acceleration in a corvette.

Somehow the checks in the mail to pay for all these materialistic leanings will find me, right?

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4 Responses to “Fickle”


  1. 1 Anonymous
    April 13, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    You are making too much work for your papaya and mango eating.

    PaPaYa – Cut fruit in half
    Spoon out seeds
    Proceed to scoop fruit into mouth with spoon

    Mango – Slice the four different sides off the fruit as. Closer to the seed the better. It’s nice in Taiwan they have bred mango with flatter more rectangular seeds.
    Score the fruit with a blade lengthwise and widthwise. Eat. You can eat off the seed too.

  2. April 15, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    Thanks for the fruit-eating tips!

    My first attempts to eat papaya by cutting it in half and scooping out the fruit ended up with me tossing spoonfuls of papaya all over the kitchen (I’m terribly klutzy).

    I have learned the mango trick thanks to one of my accomplished cousinlets, but I have yet to put it into practice here yet.

  3. 3 Sharon
    January 1, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    I am coming to Taipei in March and ant to find someinteresting yarn. Where is the yarn store and what is it’s name?

  4. January 2, 2008 at 4:59 am

    Hi Sharon!

    I’m always sympathetic for fellow yarn-questers. I will go on a hunt for the business card of the store (of which I’m sure I have many). While I don’t remember the name off-hand, the great big yarn mecca is located in Taipei by the Shilin subway station on the red line towards Danshui. When you get off at Shilin, you have stroll through the rather long plaza of the station towards the main street and then turn right and pass some clothing stores and food shops until you turn left to cross the street going towards a McDonald’s. On the corner is a clothing shop, and just past the clothing shop window, there is a white sign with red characters hanging outside of a door, climb up the stairs and enter yarn galore…. (Sorry, these directions are rather helter-skelter me– I’ll try to do better with a blog post or something by March!)


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