Archive for the 'metablog' Category



I can’t quite believe that it’s February.  Outside a full moon has made my quiet street glow with a sparkle of frost.  The spruces behind our house are taller and fewer than they once were.  It is shiver-cold and the air has that snap that Taipei was always a bit too soggy to reach.

I’m sorry that I haven’t posted and responded to all the lovely comments that some of you have left me.  I know it’s been quite a while, but I guess I’ve needed to be a bit taciturn.  I miss Taiwan.

I’ve relished in living with an oven again (though I was disappointed that my lasagna was crunchy and my first attempt at brownies were weapons-grade hard on one end– apparently I needed to ingratiate myself with the new oven),

and raking leaves (though perhaps I was rather over-enthusiastic after getting over my cold and raking for six hours straight with some joyful jumping in the piles was not such a lovely idea though it was the right sort of fall morning for it),

and voting (though I managed to be welcomed so heartily by the cold germs of the US that I coughed my voice up that morning and had to slide my driver’s license as if I were being carded to spare the election volunteer and myself from my threaded painful squeaks attempting to spell my name.  Hopefully I didn’t infect the buttons),

and shoveling snow again (though I’m still waiting for a satisfying blizzard to dump a couple of feet on us– an inch of dusty flakes was too easy and a few inches of sludgey slush with a crisp skin of ice was too heavy).

It’s hard to believe that I still wear a tan line on my derriere (okay, to be honest, it’s a sunburn-turned-tan– little swimsuit skirts do not provide full coverage and I was tan-armed, white-legged, and baboon-bottomed thanks to short sleeves, slacks, and snorkeling on Tioman with a life jacket that conspired to turn me into a colorful duck with my bum bobbing as I looked for fish, but I digress as usual…and I can’t believe I’m mentioning my bum in my blog– I obviously should be asleep).

I’m back to living in my mother tongue of English and the ever-present quest to figure out how to be a proper grown up, yet avoid stodginess.  So far this has involved glancing at want ads, catching up on Jane Austen movie adaptations, perusing online class offerings, walks, narrowly avoiding car accidents as I accidentally run yellow lights red, moving furniture, painting a wall and two corners, reading journals from 4th grade (apparently the principal denied girls the right to play soccer, and I had a lot of quizzes), typing up a Christmas letter for a hunt-and-peck writer who had lots of children and grandchildren to inform everyone of, talking to wise people, a House marathon with my cousins, contemplating my Myers-Brigg’s personality profile (but I couldn’t decide what first letter I am), and being gravely warned away from child predators by my friend’s precocious 3 year old (a rather avid watcher of political commercials who was going to vote for Barack Obama and was impressed by the State Attorney General’s crackdown on the aforementioned child predators).

Being back in the place where I grew up is disconcerting.  For the first time since I left high school, all of my stuff is in one place (with the exception of one box lingering in Taiwan or in transit), albeit mostly in boxes and piles.

These photographs have been lingering in my head (ETA: I think they rather visually depict my topsy-turvy state of mind lately).  They’re from my grandfather’s pond in Tainan.

If you’ve been clicking through waiting for me to come back to the world of blogging, or waiting for me to reply to e-mails, comments, etc., thanks for your patience.  I’ll be rewarding it soon.  In the meantime, I hope you have the chance to go outside and see your shadow from the full moon.


Back in my Swing State!

Now I’m back in the house I grew up in where the trees got all dolled up in gold to welcome me home.

It’s kind of weird being back in a place where I never quite fit.  Things feel smaller somehow (and I haven’t really grown in height probably since sixth grade… Um, yes, I’m that short.)

I ran into one of my middle school teachers when I went to volunteer to get out the vote and she didn’t recognize me (though to be fair, I wasn’t completely sure until I left the building either).  Note to all of my former students that may be reading this– if ever you recognize me and I don’t recognize you– do run back, introduce yourself, and submit yourself for hugs.

Things I miss about Taiwan already:

1.  FOOD.  My mother has been making me yummy food, and my cousins and auntie treated me to some very yummy food too in CA, but it isn’t quite the same.

2.  7/11.  I didn’t realize it, but being able to go anywhere and rely on a 7/11, FamilyMart, or (what’s the pink one’s name again?!  Ack, it’s only been a week and a half post-my whirlwind bye-bye tour and I’ve forgotten!) to be in the immediate vicinity was really convenient.  Gas stations just aren’t the same.

3.  The MRT.  Actually this is a Taipei one, and really if I were in NYC or Boston, I might not miss it as much as I do in the car culture of suburbia, where the closest thing we have to public transit is a bus that stops around four times a day around a mile away.

4.  Not wondering if people are looking at me funny just because I’m… well, rather atypical for the area.  I don’t know if that’s fair to say– considering that it is something I didn’t feel or was oblivious about before.  Arriving in our local airport with its three baggage claims (which is WAY nicer than the in-renovation scariness of LAX.  I know it was almost Halloween when I arrived, but the DANGER and CAUTION strips hanging off of the exposed ceiling were rather odd, and the customs agent didn’t even say “Welcome Home” which is a small thing, but I missed it.  LAX has to be the least foreigner friendly airport — all English signage– even Atlanta had digital signage in the terminal shuttle in Arabic, etc.   LAX was also not friendly or helpful when I got my tea through Agricultural Inspection.  I ended up falling into the conveyor belt with my luggage.   It didn’t give me a very good feeling about coming home.  P was my fun seat neighbor though, and he and his co-workers were really gallant and chivalrous in helping the people around them get their bags, so I knew that there are still friendly Americans.  Sorry, /end LAX rant.)*  Umm…  What was I talking about?  Oh, yes, I know there were heads swiveling when my mom and I reunited and I practiced my Chinese as we left the airport.   But I do (fairly or not) feel an impulse to shrink a bit the way I did when I was in middle school, and school was a dangerous territory considering how much I got picked on.

5.  And most of all– my students, cousins, aunties, uncles, friends, colleagues, and roommates in no particular order.  Hugs to all of you (and I just remembered, I forgot which relative I was supposed to call when I got in safely, sorry…).

* to be fair, the Taoyuan Airport is a bit grey and dry, and I had a nervous moment while they went searching for the “Cancelled” stamp to put on my visa before my 30 day re-entry bit was to begin.  They were pretty polite about it though.

And for my fellow Americans stateside– Tomorrow is Election Day!!!  If you haven’t already voted, GO VOTE!  If you have questions about your registration or what your polling place is or how to volunteer for Barack Obama and Joe Biden, click here…  and hopefully we’ll get to party Tuesday night!


Logistical note if you know me…

So those of you whom I’ve been meaning to call or who have been trying to call me– my cell phone decided it couldn’t wait a week to have charging issues.  I’m using my lovely cousin’s cell phone with mixed success.  If you’ve called and haven’t gotten through, or I was supposed to call you and haven’t yet– it’s quite likely that I’ve been unable to get the phone to cough up your number/ haven’t been free to call when it was a decent hour/ the handset was dead or locked up and unlockable (It was ringing merrily as I was pressing “ANSWER” until my thumb was white.   Still it rang with undaunted enthusiasm until I got a pencil to write down the caller’s number when it naturally gave up.)

There’s a version of Murphy’s Law for cell phones that always seems to apply to me.  This situation reminds me…  Um, if  Richard who was accosted by an odd girl in the Taipei MRT and generously allowed her to use his handset to call her cousin happens to ever read this– sorry that I never got back to you about tea.  I didn’t mean to be Amelie-ish, things got piled up; and I admit that I’m skittish when complimented.

(I have the feeling this is one of those posts that I’ll grimace at when no longer exhausted and spinning on the vortex of packing, farewells, and logistical things like doctors and banks which always bring out the worst of my scatterbrained-ness (left my purse in the loo today and disgracefully conked out on my auntie’s sofa after ODing on familial birthday cake yesterday.))

This blog will return to Taiwan-ness someday , really, I promise  (probably Novemberish– then it will all be retrospective, but it’s always been rather retrospective, and there may be a dash of my misadventures in SE Asia on a linked page).


Back in Taipei!

I’m safely back in Taiwan for a week before heading back East to cuddle babies and torment cousins on the West Coast and then flitting back to my parents in time to shock them with my capabilities for chocolate consumption for Halloween.

I had a bit of difficulty getting my boarding pass to return to Taiwan since I hadn’t applied for a visa and needed proof of an onward flight ticket at Chiangi in order to get my pass from Jet Star. They were quite nice about it though and allowed me to e-mail my on-ward e-ticket so they could print it out. Taiwanese Immigration at the rather grim Taoyuan Airport (compared to the purpleness of Chiangi, Taoyuan could use an art action that involves color and cosiness)  didn’t ask to see the onward ticket (though the form asked for my on-going flight number), but they did go on a scavenger hunt for the “CANCELLED” stamp and reminded me that I had only 30 days to visit without a visa.

My aunt kindly met me at the airport and then helped me call my cousin who hadn’t realized I was coming back yesterday and staying with him (I’d forgotten to give him a reminder/heads-up.)

Now I get to play the shuffle-stuff-in-baggage game and run around hugging people to say good-bye.

I’ll try to write up my misadventures in SE Asia when I get the chance…


Will probably not be posting much…

Hi guys– I’m in Malaysia and going to follow where the sunny skies go during the rainy season.  I’ll probably not be posting here until mid-Oct or early Nov.

Finish up the leftover moon cakes for me!


Barclay Park 2

When we went to Barclay Park this spring (yes, there’s a backlog of postings, my apologies– but fortunately for ye readers who like attending my witterings and pretty pictures, since there is a backlog, the blog will likely not die even after I finally return to the US in the fall for the kiss and cry of the election…  Oh, where was I?  Right… Barclay Park, a spring morning when I actually woke up REALLY early to go take photographs), the air wasn’t oppressively hot, and there were plenty of people doing their morning exercises of Tai Chi, and stretches and strolling energetically about.  In spite of the hopping pathways which hosted adorable tots being walked by their parents, there was a certain ambiance that retained that silent watchful quality nature has, even when it’s not all that silent…


Cute lizards



A smushed flower– these are pretty common if you stroll underneath the trees with slightly fern-like leaves and red flowers which I don’t know the proper name of.  They’re beautiful though, and I’ll photoblog them at some point.  ETA: My mother informs me that they are called “flame trees” and that Tainan has also been known as the “flame tree city.”


Another flower that was growing on bushes close to the water’s edge.

I think these are vaguely orchid-like, even though they are attached to a bush.

A water hyacinth.

Sunflowers always make me think of Provence, but there was a little field of them in Barclay park too.



I’ve been a bad blog mistress…  shuffling about, getting sick, then drugged to stop being sick (yes, I’ve always felt drugs are bad and avoid them when I can, but for some reason in Taiwan, doctors like giving them, in big sizes or in many pretty colors all at once, and considering that my one special trick seems to be getting sick…  Well, hopefully my kidneys and liver will last!).

I’m also a bad internetter at the moment, being without home internet access, though with access to a very cute (if a rebel against potty training) dog.

The blog will go on (and e-mail, etc. will be caught up)… Once I start figuring things out in my momentary digs.

I’m in that fun phase of life known as “transition: to be defined as being clueless, if charmingly so, when there are many glittering possibilities, and much puzzlement as to what to do with them.”  Fortunately, my family is rallying round me with much yummy food and rallied round me to help me in sleep-deprived, stressed moving mode.

I’m in the South now, and sporting a floppy-brimmed hat.

I wish you all fun and healthy summer adventures!

Free Rice

September 2019
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