Archive for the 'Tainan' Category

12
Mar
10

Learning Chinese

So the summer long ago that I spent studying Chinese at Cheng Da, I indulged my nerdiness by enjoying the benefits of my library card.  (The library had a lovely sculpture of a swooping flutist in front of it at the time, too, which I’m kicking myself for not photographing).  With strong A/C, the library was a lovely modern space with some neat spaces to lounge about in the company of books.  I also had my first exciting experience with sliding stacks, which were quite cool.

Anyway, in addition to reading up on film criticism and helping my cousin with his research on Psycho and Gaslight (neither of which, I’m sorry to say, I was brave enough to watch on my own in the typhoon storminess of that summer…  What can I say, I’m a film-wuss, and too highly impressionable for my own good…  Where was I?  Oh, yes, in addition…), I looked up all the how-to-learn Chinese books there.  I already had a bit of a collection that I was studying on my own before going to Cheng Da and studying from the Shida book that is standard university Chinese fare in Taiwan (in spite of being kind of ancient).  However, being a bit of a research nerd, I came across this book:

It is probably out of print, and its phonetics are not hanyu pin-yin.  However, being a bo-po-mo-fo learner myself (which I think tends to make pronunciation better, though it has its confusing bits too), this wasn’t an impediment for me.  This is more of a character-writing book, with nice charts of radicals and their meanings as endpapers.  Also, I was delighted to discover that the author had a sense of humor, as evidenced by the entry for the character of “ghost,” which as evidenced by the blue dot, I was not the first reader to note:

Seriously speaking, I’m a fan of studying character etymology, and I don’t think it’s just because I’m an etymology language nerd.  I think the contextualization of why/how characters came to be is helpful in remembering them.  At Cheng-Da, there was a class with pretty pictures that showed the evolution of characters.  Back in the US, on a few rare occasions, my mom used to teach me calligraphy, though all I really remembered was fairly basic.  I practiced my characters with calligraphy in Taiwan too, just to make it a bit more fun and involve more gross-motor movement to try to remember them better.  Haven’t touched my calligraphy set for a while, and am not very confident that I remember all my characters that well.  Spent many an afternoon at my grandfather’s house that summer, practicing characters, which unfortunately tended to make me nod off a bit with all the repetition.  My piano teacher could probably vouch that I’m not so good with repetition.

However, I did have a fun experience at Cheng-Da in Tainan that summer, and was a huge fan of my teacher and our class.  It was a friendly department, and I would recommend it for other prospective students.

11
Mar
10

More Sculpture at Cheng Da

Though this is an abstraction, something about it from this angle reminds me a little bit of the “Winged Victory of Samothrace”— a marble statue at the Louvre.  This sculpture (after a squinting look at the blurry zoomed-in tag) is called “Fleeting Cloud and Shadow Traces Marked by the Wind and Trees.”

I’ve never worked with marble before, but the texture of this “cloud” really intrigued me.

If I recall correctly, there were a series of these almost two-dimensional steel sculptures with cut-outs.  I liked this one because it reminded me of the moon with a cloud in front of it.

10
Mar
10

Sculpture around Cheng Da

Surfing Cheng Da’s site, I discovered that there is an art festival going on, and figured I should post my photos of art at Cheng Da.  Art on college campuses can be hit or miss (my sculpture prof. in college said she had to artfully dodge when asked what she thought of the sculptures decorating our campus after her initial interview), but there are some nice pieces at Cheng Da .

This is a doughnut-shaped abacus that is outside the business building (if my memory is correct and things haven’t changed).  Abaci are still used by kids in Taiwan and remind me of my experience trying to teach elementary students math with manipulatives– if we’d only used abaci, I could have avoided a veritable hail storm of pennies and base ten blocks…

This sculpture was a bit small in scale next to its surroundings, but I had fun with its reflections anyway…

This blog has more recent postings of art at NCKU.   While it is in Chinese, the pictures show some fun murals have been added to the landscape since I was there.

Sorry that I didn’t record titles and artist names to go along with the photographs.  If anyone can enlighten me on them, I’ll gladly add them to this post.

06
Dec
09

Around Cheng Da

Sorry I’ve been a hideous blog mistress when it comes to updating.  My trusty laptop Fawkes-Buckbeak fell prey to the black screen of death and since then I’ve been hopping between shared computers, which didn’t have ready access to my archives of pictures.  Of course once I fell out of the habit of posting, it required some catching up to figure out what I’ve posted and what I haven’t from what is now over a year ago’s worth of reminisces and images.

So here are some images from National Cheng Kung University (Cheng Da or Cheng Gong Da Shuei as my personal romanization goes…), taken in the summer of 2008 (eeks, time flew!) while I was trying to study Chinese.

The view from the covered space between buildings where students could be found practicing skits, dancing, or Tai Chi in the shade.  The entrance gate is at the end of that long vista.

The pond in front of the foreign languages department with its lovely red bridge.

The bridge had very shallow steps.

Sparrows were lined up on the railings.

Rock formation on the little pond island.

A palm that lost to a typhoon and gravity.

A curious mushroom.

Another rock formation on the island– some of the white ones are worn corals, I think…

An old gate to the campus.

I don’t know why the paving stones have a semi-circular placement.

A stone sculpture on campus.

09
Feb
09

Surfacing

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.

23
Aug
08

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…

lizards

Cute lizards

lizards

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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.”

flower

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.

17
Aug
08

Barclay Park

Barclay Park is a nice little park in Tainan that I visited with my aunt this past spring.  It is named after a missionary.  I was on a mission to shoot photographs of lotus.  Unfortunately, the park didn’t have any lotus (so I am still on my quest– tips on places to shoot lotus anyone?  For some reason whenever I want to shoot lotus, I run out of battery after one shot, or it’s raining, at night, etc…)

However, there were many other things to take photographs of…

Fishing in the pond.  I always think those long black fishing poles look like antenna, flicking up and down, tasting the air above the water with a graceful arch.

A sleepy red-eyed duck.
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Geese eating bark for breakfast…  Mmm…



This is a close-up of breadfruit, which I have yet to eat.

Mangoes hanging from the tree. (This reminds me of an illustration class I was in once, where an extremely talented artist in my class made a gorgeous illustration, except all the mangoes were hanging upside down on the tree.)

Shuei lien are water flowers that only open at night and close by mid-morning.

Close to the stream, the sound of the cicadas rose into a pelting loud chorus as we walked under the trees. This is my attempt to shoot the living one that my aunt pointed out to me.

Her shot was better…




Free Rice

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