Archive for June, 2007


I’ll show you mine…

So today I posted up the masterpieces of all of my students, and I figure I should decorate the walls of my blog a bit with my own attempts…

I didn’t photograph it very well–


This is an old sketch done with my then-new calligraphy set that I was going to practice zhongwen with every day. Um…the practice every day part didn’t happen, but this and a few other sketches did. I think it looks better in person. I finally tried out my new water brush this week, and it was fun, though probably not suitable for large washes. I’m not posting the results here because it’s a quasi-secret-surprise present.

Okay, jolynna and somimi— your turn!


Public Service Announcement

When they warn you not to carry luggage down the fast-moving MRT escalators…  They Have Good Reasons!

We decided not to take the elevator, because, as I explained down the escalator, I’d rather feel as if I was moving somewhere than staying still waiting for something, even if whenever the mode of transit arrives, I’ll be moving faster than my feet or other alternatives will carry me.

Besides, I’ve rested luggage down many an escalator before.

I’m usually a bit of a walking disaster, but I stopped the MRT escalator during rush hour, and caused the tumble of one very near and dear to me who was trying to save me from myself and the escalator as it reached the bottom.

We’re okay.  I feel worse than the sting of the usual bumps and scrapes (of which I have none).  It was scary and not a good wake-up call though.  I do not recommend it.

We need to cultivate some good karma.


Lineage illuminated…

So, my parents have arrived to visit! My Dad and I did dinner last night before my Mom arrived this morning. He caused quite a sensation by surprising me at my school (my entire class was excited and insisted on coming downstairs to see him– then they all agreed we look alike). My colleague was telling me that my Dad’s kuh aie (cute) like me.

While we strolled around I noticed that the hem of his shorts was giving up. When we were back at my place, I did a quick running stitch to fix it up a bit. I’m not a very good seamstress– it’s a crooked, slightly puckered stitch, but my Dad insisted it was fine. As I was handing them back to him, I noticed a stain, and chided him for it (quite the mother hen I turned into last night– also insisted that he call me when he arrived at my uncle’s place). He shrugged and said for some reason, stains always happen to him and he can’t get them out. So now I know who I inherited that trait from… ;D

My Mom arrived early this morning, and we visited one of my aunties who filled us up with yummy Tainan ba tzang (song-szu in Chinese– sticky rice with goodies wrapped in large leaves). Shown here with my friend Flat Stanley, courtesy of a second grade class in California…

Wrapped and unwrapped.

Bazhang is traditional food for the Dragonboat Festival. We met up with some other relations for lunch, and then promptly collapsed back in my room for a long nap.

We were called up to have some molasses shaved ice, and then it was suggested that we try tzo dofu (stinky tofu), which we universally rejected immediately. So we do indeed have the same taste in some things…

My Mom’s been ferreting out all my unsavory secrets from my roommates (like my resistance to doctors, or my tendency to forget my lunch boxes in the refrigerator). They’ve been having fun together– they agree that my Mom and I are quite alike in mannerisms, etc., though my nose and tendency to attract stains are indeed my father’s.

My parents agree that my Chinese has improved a lot, but they also have fun correcting me… Quite frequently.


Random photos from the weekend

A snail. We found another one up in the parking lot and pointed it out to my cousin’s grandfather, who promptly lifted it up, tossed it on the ground, stepped on it and looked bewildered when we shrieked in sympathy mournfully.

Chinese lantern flowers growing on the roadside next to a field of pineapples.


Keeping the House God Happy….

This is what greeted me when I stepped out of my room Tuesday afternoon.  My landlady was feeding the house god to keep all well in the apartment.   She left us a good chunk of the swag afterwards, so I’ve been crunching on house-god-blessed apples lately.  The nine candles are for the ordinal directions.  I asked my landlady if I could shoot a photo of it, since I’ve never seen anything like it back in the US, and she said it would be fine.

There was quite a lot of photographing in the suite that afternoon, as her old adorable dog showed up for his photo shoot in my suitemate’s friend’s fashion line for dogs.  He’s greying and sixteen years old with a crooked tongue and a definite lollygagging waddle.  He did look marvelous in a jean-jacket though.



I prevailed upon my family’s indulgence and we got to go check out some of the dragonboat qualifying races on the Tainan canal Monday night. (apologies for the photo quality– but taking clear photos of moving boats at night was beyond my camera’s and my abilities).

There were lots of spectators lining the railings.  Three lanes were set up.  Hanging over the railing, I could feel the warm breeze in my hair, and the elbows of the people around me.  The races were mostly made up of local clubs of guys, there were a few middle school dragonboats.  There is a drummer that sits and acts as a coxswain, drumming faster and faster, shouting over the din of spectators calling out jaiyo! jaiyo!  as the two columns of rowers slide the oars through the water, gaining momentum until they reach the finish line.

It got quite exciting.  You can feel the drums vibrating through the air– I think every race should include drumming.

More about dragonboat festival traditions are here.


Of a runaway turtle and the past

We arrived late at night in Tainan where we were greeted by my aunt and cousin in my grandfather’s house. No barking though– shao hei and my other cousin weren’t there yet. We did stumble onto the mystery of an empty little fishbowl on the coffee table. Apparently the turtle we found in the pond during Chinese New Year had escaped.

In the course of searching for it throughout the living room, it was named after a family member who tends to run off and get grubby in the process. We finally found it under the piano covered in dust. It hasn’t been released back into the pond for fear that it’ll eat the fish or the waterlilies.

The next day we returned to find another empty turtle bowl (this time it had been removed to a spot by the window on top of a fairly tall ancient stereo). The little book on top to keep it in was on the floor, and we found our little turtle under a cupboard on the opposite wall. We plopped it in a big basin next to the pond.

I got to frighten my cousin with my prowess at slicing mangoes (“Umm… No offense, but I can’t watch you do this.” He said as he edged out the door. I didn’t know that me wielding a knife was so awesome a sight mere mortals would cower, but there you go… One can be more powerful than one realizes, I guess.)

My other cousin and I ventured into the dark attic of the storage house and went searching for treasure. We found my grandfather’s old medical bag, still holding glass vials labeled for different vitamins. I unearthed an old Chinese Cookbook in English and Chinese (one dish is “Sauteed Brains”– pig brains to be exact). We found my uncle’s old high school lab notebook which was a work of art– his drawings and labels were detailed an immaculate. He got “B’s” though he was complimented on his drawings which looked as if they could go right into a textbook, his draftsmanship was so amazing. Then we found photos of him as a boy riding a horse.

I found my mother’s ID card for her exam and her college pins. She is really truly beautiful in a way that I did not inherit (I mean, even her ID photo looks gorgeous– mine look criminal).

Free Rice

June 2007
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