Archive for the 'weather' Category


Typhoon Morakot

*Insert apologies for being a bad blog mistress here*

Although I’m not in Taiwan anymore, I have been worried upon hearing the news reports of the mudslides falling on small villages.  We just got through to talk with my aunt in Tainan tonight (the lines in Taipei haven’t been letting us through).  She told me that they are rationing water since there is not very much that is drinkable– the reservoirs have been flooded, and helicopters are dropping food and drinking water where villages in the mountains are supposed to be, but haven’t been able to confirm whether people are still alive there yet.  People are cooking noodles and dumplings instead of rice (rice needs to be rinsed in addition to the water added to cook it).  The cold drinks from 7/11 (No carton/bottle cold teas!?  Unthinkable!)  aren’t available.  Fresh fruit and vegetables on farms were washed away by Morakot, so she said food is pretty expensive right now.  Fortunately, as far as we’ve heard, our family is fine.

Apparently the cities are operating again and the roads and trains are clear and running.

Also, the Taiwanese government is bowing to public pressure to accept whatever foreign aid they can get since they need it… (Refrains from grumpy editorial about political idiocy.)  From what I’ve heard, they could really use more helicopters to try to get to those remote villages.

And if you’ve got change to spare and care to help relief efforts (good karma, anyone?), Tzu Chi is a fantastic Buddhist organization (I remember them being on practically every street corner asking for donations so they could provide assistance after the Chinese earthquake).  Apparently World Vision is also conducting relief efforts in Taiwan as well.

My heart aches for all the beautiful mountain villages we would visit on the weekends or drive past on the highways– their lights glittering on the mountains.  They seem so idyllic– there is usually a main street with a market of yummy touristy food, and depending on the village, you can meet artisans selling things from glass pens to ocarinas (clay whistles).  I miss Taiwan.  My thoughts are with everyone there.


A quick post…

I’m much busier than I thought I would be here in Tainan.  Apparently my Chinese has improved to the point where my aunt can tell me Chinese mythological stories about the gods and goddesses and after a very long time of her explaining every other word to me, I can understand why the lovers are separated by higher powers…

In the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen the celebrations for the children turning 16, and the lunar 7/7 day which always rains at night because the weaver and the cowherd are reuniting on a bridge of birds, and raining tears of joy and sadness.

I also picked (and nibbled) longyen (a fruit directly translated as dragon-eye), gave myself a mini-shower in my first attempt to pump the flooding from the typhoon out of the basement (oh, right, attaching the hose–an excellent idea, and I didn’t actually electrocute myself!), and got a mini-lesson in shufa or Chinese calligraphy from my aunt (well, it’s more like beautiful Chinese printing for my very elementary skills at writing words).

Tainan is hot, but there is oftentimes a small (if also at times warm) breeze floating through the air. 

Oh, and I printed out some of the photos I’ve taken over the years for the very first time, and they turned out well!  It was rather exciting, since they usually sit in my hard drive…

I’ve gotten myself (slightly) lost walking past temples, and through back alleyways which are so narrow one can hear the voices behind the doors chatting in Taiwanese.

My aunt and I stopped by Chikan towers, where there was a quartet of musicians playing traditional Taiwanese songs and children’s music (the theme to Doraemon was one of the ending pieces), in front of a backdrop of beautiful Chinese buildings that I’ll have to go back to shoot photographs of during the day at some point.

My Chinese has improved to the point that people now ask if I’m from Singapore, instead of Japan when they meet me and realize I speak English and Chinese that has possibly progressed from tot to pre-school level.


On the deception of a sunny afternoon….

It was a breezy sunny afternoon on Friday, which led to my undoing.  I am not going to be internet-ing much unless a miracle once again makes my computer worthy of the “Fawkes” part of its name.

Suffice it to say that the brilliant genes of my family avoided me, because otherwise I would have remembered the variances of the weather, an umbrella, and closed the window above my desk before the torrential rain came.  It was worthy of dancing in, though I only did some satisfying splashes.

My notebook, however, decided to go swimming.  I discovered that fountain pen ink puddles and dries into nice empty splotches on my MSs, and my entire desk experienced the deluge.

At least my camera was spared.

My mother and I debated whether it’s a sign (it and my thus far unsuccessful, yet expensive attempts at the lottery) that I should give up dead trees and electricity for scribbles, or that I should just close the window before leaving the apartment, or that backing up data is divine.

Sorry if I don’t get back to msgs and comments for a while.  Cross your fingers that when I have to guts to see if it’s all dried out, Fawkes-Buckbeak will have a miraculous resurrection.

Now I’m going to go be a good teacher and figure out what I’m doing today…



When I was packing to come to Taiwan last year, my mother urged me to bring warm clothes.  Having only been in Taiwan in the summer, I scoffed at the idea that Taiwan could possibly ever be cold.  A country without snow except for the tops of the mountains couldn’t actually be cold.

And the people recommending really warm clothes came from places like Texas… oh, and Taiwan.  Of course, I now remember that my fellow scoffer, a New Yorker who had been in Taiwan for bit,  has the metabolism of a furnace and had wintered New York without heat.  Oh, and did I mention I’m cold-blooded?  Naturally, that didn’t occur to me when I took said scoffer’s advice.

I, who have shoveled snow off the top of our roof because it was three feet high, and who have tingled with numbness and that snap of awareness a brisk wind brings in New England winter, thumbed my nose at the supposed “cold” of Taiwan and brought a polartec fleece shirt and a sweater and a turtleneck or two…

This year, the day after New Year’s I wore: two shirts, a sweater (a wool tunic from the 80s which could literally fit two of me in it), leggings, fleece pants, wool socks (also another incredible invention), and blue fuzzy thick soft socks of indeterminate material…  All at the same time.  Then, I crawled underneath the cold covering of: one light summer comforter, one humongous poofy winter comforter covered by what usually serves as another light summer comforter, and a fleece blanket.  In the middle of the night, I took out two wool shawls and stretched them up top.  Oh, and I now know why people used to wear nightcaps.  My head was cold outside of the comforters!  I also need to knit up fingerless gloves.   Continue reading ‘Cold’


Public Service Announcement #3– Hot! Hot! Hot!

According to my Firefox weather bar, it is supposed to be 92 degrees Fahrenheit in Taipei tomorrow.  This is how I remember Taiwan from my visits during summer vacations– when a step outside feels like walking into a steamer, and the sweat shines on your skin before it trickles down your forehead.

Yesterday, at the bottom of Taiwan at Er Lan Be (Or Er Lan Bi?), we were looking at a lighthouse, and sort of rushing through the trails of coastal plants, and such.  I couldn’t catch my breath from hiking through the trails, and apparently my face turned red.  I was soaked in sweat, and finding the images I was trying to take with my camera were blurry.  My mother began discussing the cheerful possibility of heat stroke and all my organs shutting down, as she held onto my arm with an umbrella aloft to shade me.  I was feeling a certain familiar light-headedness and a certain dreamlike stream-of-consciousness contemplation of my mortality as I kept trying to put one foot in front of the other, obediently following the group, and listening to my mother as she made us all stop and get cold drinks and I got a Super Su Pau dripping from a cooler of water that might have once been ice.  My mother and uncle were really great about keeping an eye on me and making sure that the family-photo-taking in the hot sun didn’t exceed three cameras before we got into the shade.

I dunked my head under the faucet by the bathroom, and shed a soaked undershirt (which I’d forgotten to take off in the rush to dress and check out that morning), which helped a bit.  We ended up having to wait while my aunt went on a hunt for the missing keys to the van, and I had a passionfruit slushie, sitting on the steps of a temple around the tourist shops.  A nap in the air-conditioned van was helpful too.  I’m still rather tired and not quite myself just yet.

Anyway, a review of the literature today, and my mother and uncle were right and probably saved me from heat stroke.  I was probably a bit more susceptible to heat exhaustion because I was on meds for my cold and the festering sore on my leg (the circular nature of the visit to Tai Da I-Yuen today I’ll have to chronicle another time).

In any case, please be very careful as the temperatures rise, and you are out adventuring.  Watch for shortness of breath, profuse sweating, headache, crankiness, dizziness, nausea, and a certain dazed feeling.  An excellent article about heat stress is at Making Light.  A short and sweet page geared towards children’s caregivers is here, another for general info is here.  A longer medical article on hyperthermia is here.

Stay safe and cool!



Just because it’s about two in the morning, and I should be asleep, but, as usual, am not.  It is suddenly pouring rain here, as if the heavens have lost a favorite child, thrashing with winds swirling.  There was a very loud bang that made everything shake, and my suitemate had me join her in her room to make sure there was nothing scary there.  I’ve promised to sleep with my door open, just in case.  I had my window open three inches, and walking to my dresser, slipped on the wet tile floor five feet away from the window.  My heart character (amongst other random brushings) has lost the battle with the rainy wind from the window and is sitting in a puddle now.

I should take my brushes out again.

I filed my US tax extension (though I technically didn’t have to, since I’m automatically extended until June, and perhaps filed the wrong one, since I discovered after filing it that I perhaps should have filed the one for foreigners seeking bona fide residence…), which is unfortunately my modus operandi since I started filing as an independent.

The AIT website was a bit less-than helpful in figuring out how to go about filing my taxes, since they referred me to the page with the same broken link twice (the second time after I e-mailed them to point it out…).  I feel bad for the American Institute in Taiwan people, though.  After all, since Taiwan is not acknowledged as a country, they don’t get to write off their income the way they would if they were part of an official embassy (this was specifically mentioned by the IRS in their taxes for foreign residents section).

I kind of miss the mad dash to make it to the Penn Station post office where people hand out free hot dogs and dress up to protest things like the unequal tax burden distribution as the clock ticks to midnight.

I was going to e-file, but then realized that the program I was using wouldn’t let me check the foreign resident box.  Luckily my roommate had an operational printer and I finally dropped it off to the post office before work.

The rush of rain-cleaned air and the rhythm make me want to go to the park and dance in the puddles.  However, I’m tired, and should be in bed, and alive and perky tomorrow morning for parental approval.

Hm.  I’ve got a backlog of possible blog posts in my head that possibly include: bras, love, and hair (in no particular order), but I’m still behind on things like Mister Donut, and would probably turn too red in the process of writing the former (after all, I am a Victorian priss who still often refers to bras as “unmentionables”), though the scribbler in me tends to be bolder than the me in real life.   So anyway, after this post on the weather and taxes (two constants perhaps?), I’ll have to see what strikes my fancy…  Preferably before midnight some other night.


Where we went…

After much sleeping in the car as the lines of freshly growing rice flowed by, I awoke to find us on a mountain, sitting at an angle with my back pressed firmly against the back of the seat as we ascended and waited in line to get up the mountain into the parking lot of Lavender Cottage, which made me a bit wistful for lavender fields in Provence, though it was totally different. “Cottage” is a bit of a misnomer– it’s really a large modern sort of house-ish thing that hosts a large and slightly fancy-ish restaurant (we had fun putting out a napkin set on fire by accident with the hot pot flame).   It has a lovely view of the mountains growing spring green on their edges, mists rising and floating down the valley where a river wound its way through.

The view through the windows from where we sat.

They have a couple of lavender gardens which were fairly fragrant in the mist as we walked down the steps of the mountain edged by bamboo forest and around the paths.

Not all that much lavender was really blooming, but  what was there was fragrant.  I was actually a bit homesick for a summer in France when there was a field of purple zig-zagging through the valley and a monastery where there were fields and fields of lavender in their rounded bunched glory.

My shots of lavender weren’t very good (can’t seem to get my silly macro lens to focus properly on what’s right in front and center…  grr.), however, there were other flowers…

I had never seen pink callas before.  These looked like the pink might have been painted on them, since there was a white spot every now and then on the top.  Reminds me of Alice in Wonderland‘s cards painting the roses red…

Ever wonder what’s beyond in the mist?  I used to think that if I ran fast enough through the wall of mist, I’d find an entirely different realm.  I never seemed to run fast enough, though, because I’d just find the little valley of houses and lawns that was supposed to be there instead of a mystical wild loveliness.

Spiderwebs catch more than what flies…

My aunt got us postcards, and these little brown tags I didn’t know what to do with…  They were for wishes.

There’s a little grove of trees where people tie their wishes up.

Someone wished for a wii…

Afterwards, we drove into Meiwan– a little mountain town that was celebrating the Hakka flower festival (though I didn’t see any flowers displayed there).

The Meiwan Train Station.

There was a little freak show for animals that had a huge stuffed ostrich and photos of kids holding things like a turtle with five legs (it seemed to have an extra back leg), a very odd white looking caterpillar relative, and other things.  An old movie theater was converted to a restaurant that showed movies on the old screen.

I had fried ginger flowers which were delicious, salted, and wonderful.  Ginger flowers are about the size of my thumb, white, and very fragrant.  Women often peddle them by temples to get the gods’ attention with their scent, or by the side of the road so you can hang it from your rearview mirror.

The kids and grown-ups had fun in the arcade with the game where you throw basketballs as fast as you can at a hoop probably five feet away, to see how many you can get in before the timer runs out.

I popped out to take a look at the other shops in town and found a man making a glass pen.  I really really want a glass pen.  I sternly talked myself out of it, since I have a glass pen (that doesn’t work because the tip broke between France and the US), and would probably break another one.   There were also glass horses and shrimp and swans and so forth, which were delicately done.

In the mountains the air is fresher, and you feel as if you’re literally walking in the clouds as you watch them sift through the mountains across the valley.  It was rainy, tingly and pattering at times.  I need to go to the mountains more.

Free Rice

June 2019
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