Monday, August 30, 2010

What a day!

This has been a day. It has been pouring rain all day. We had an earthquake. I had to take the trash out in the rain, and when I returned I saw something slithering along my driveway. I looked as closely as I dared. We are supposed to call the fire department if we see a snake. It seemed small, but...

I called Susan. I said "I think we have a very small snake in our driveway.". She said she would call the fire department. She was glad it was just a snake - she'd had a call from someone else (whom we know) reporting that their roof is leaking. I put on tennis shoes and very carefully went back out to be sure the snake didn't disappear before the firemen arrived. I called Eric. I took a picture, being careful not to get too close.

When the firemen arrived...

One of them grabbed it with a special pole and put it in a jar. Whether to make the dumb American feel better or to inspect it, I'm not sure, but it DID make me feel better. They said to me "no snake. Choi-e". So I called Susan and said "What is 'choi-e'?". And she told me. It was an earthworm! Well, that was the hugest worm I've ever seen! After this day, I think I need some of the gin that British woman was talking about last week!

And then... I said to the kids "what a day! Torrential rains, earthquakes and snakes!" to which Ethan queried "Tarantulas?". No, it wasn't THAT bad of a day!


It is raining cats and dogs today so I thought I would show it to you. However, today I learned that you must have to do or own something special in order to photograph rain. Since I don't know what you must do or own any special lenses, I tried quite unsuccessfully.

When I looked through the viewfinder it seemed the rain showed up quite well against the awning, but when I looked at the photo it hadn't seemed to capture the rain.

So I thought perhaps it would show more in the distance, beyond the bush. It didn't.

Surely close up, against the patio stones, you would be able to see the massive amounts of rain falling!

But no, it doesn't really show against the patio either.

The best I could do is shoot the corner of the house where the water was pouring off.

Then I went to take a look at the pool. Again my camera and my abilities failed me so I will have to explain. Usually when you look at the pool you see 2 rows of tile around the edge, before the water begins. Today no tiles are visible. The pool is overflowing!

I wonder what happens when we get a typhoon?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fabric Market, Take 2

On Monday Susan introduced me to another new American woman, Deana. (Pronounced Dean-ah, not De-Ann-ah.) Deana has a driver. Deana's driver drove us down to town. (I just had to say that because it sounds like a nursery rhyme or something!) He was the driver for the days mini-tour, and one of the stops was the fabric market. You might remember I visited it with the kids a few months ago. It is an amazing place. This day we just had time for a "look-see", and I snapped 2 quick pictures. I think we are going back next week when we will be armed with measurements, items to help choose proper colors and ideas of what we NEED. I will also try to remember to take more pictures.

For now, here is a glimpse down one of the many aisles. Each aisle is lined with fabric stalls, each separately owned I believe. If you want a fabric you pay the person in the stall, so they must be individually owned or rented. You cannot see all the way to the end in this picture, and this is just one row of many!

This stall is full of some of my favorite fabrics, which I purchased on my earlier visit. The man is practically drowning in the fabrics, and that is how it is in every stall. If you cannot find a fabric you like at this market, it doesn't exist!

Yesterday was very busy. I went to the Community Center in the morning (thanks to Deana and her driver!) The center is a place for ex-pats from around the world to gather, meet, take classes, etc. There are a ton of women who arrived about the same time as me - just in time for school to begin - so it was fun. I met the mother of one of Anna's classmates, which is great. They are from Turkey. I also met a British woman who told me she hates it here. She has been here 15 months. She caught my attention when I heard her saying to another woman something like "I just drink more gin". I turned to see what that was about and she started laughing, told me how badly she hates it and that she drinks a lot of gin to get through! Once she had my attention the first lady took off. I later did the same. She was kind of funny, but who needs to hang around someone who is complaining about everything? She is the first person I've met that hates it. Most love at least something about being here. Challenges? Yes. But the rewards outweigh the challenges.

Later in the day Rosa came to watch the kids and I went to a meeting of new ex-pat wives from Eric's company together with several HR reps who are here. Taiwan is a bit of a new venture for the company and they are trying to iron out all the bugs for us and for people that will be coming in the future. After the meeting I went to dinner with one of the other wives. Had a really nice time talking.

It was a great day until I got home. Shortly after I arrived Ethan fell and hit his head very hard against the marble floor. It was kind of traumatic, for ALL of us. But he is okay. His head is sore but there is no evidence of concussion thankfully.

Today I have no plans. Perhaps I will just float on the pool...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I had another mini-tour "up the mountain" on Monday. The mini-tours are intended to give an idea of places worth visiting, with the idea that you return with your family later to explore more in depth. Earlier I said I had great pictures. Actually I have mediocre pictures of great places. (I hadn't viewed the photos yet when I made my earlier boast.) And because it was a mini-tour I don't have a lot of information. Hopefully I WILL return with the family and report back more information and better photos in the future.

For now:

We stopped at the Lengshuikeng Visitor Center, which has trails heading out from it in several directions. The picture I took includes a trail up the mountain. You cannot see the trail due to the tall grasses, but if you look in the center of the picture, to the left of the roof, you might be able to see the tops of several umbrellas. There was a line of people coming down the trail. It was a perfectly beautiful day; the locals all use umbrellas to keep the sun off their skin.

We went higher up to an area of grassland. It was so quiet, peaceful, breezy and sunny. I could have stayed there for hours.

Cattle roam the area. I didn't see any, but they had left behind some evidence of their presence. There were several signs warning you not to tease the cattle, and there was this one:

Eric laughs at my fear of animals, but signs like this would seem to justify my fear.

A random photo taken at the grassy area.

Next is my favorite photo of the day, not only because I like the picture but also because there was an interesting fact presented here. This trail goes all the way to Keelung, a northern seaport in Taiwan. Many years ago Keelung fishermen would load the days catch on their back and walk this trail into Taipei to sell their fish. I am told it was a 3 hours walk. (I suspect it would take me longer, if I could do it at all.) I don't know if they made the trip down and back every day, but surely theirs was a hard life.

Taipei is far off in the distance, at the bottom of the mountains.

Taipei is surrounded by mountains, which protect it against typhoons. The locals welcome typhoons because that is where they get their water. We have not had a typhoon yet. Susan told me that August is the beginning of Typhoon season and that, since there have not been any yet, they will get very bad ones in September. I don't know if that is superstition or historical fact. I suppose I will find out!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Close to Home

it is hard being limited to 5 photos per post! But better than my old system of blogging so I'll try not to complain.

Yesterday Eric and I walked down the road next to our house. It is extremely steep, so an easy walk down but quite a workout coming back up!

Taiwan, at least the part of it that I live in, seems to be primarily jungle. I think the government must continually battle back the vines and things that grow very quickly and threaten to take over everything.

There are many plants growing "wild" here that we had as houseplants in America. Here, what we called Wandering Jew and English Ivy.

There is also a lot of Philadendran (not sure how to spell that!), but that picture didn't make the cut.

This gate leads into a private residence. I love this gate.

My pictures ricochet back and forth between plants and structures. Sorry. This next picture shows again the way plants overtake everything here. The roots of a tree are growing down the side of a wall. I've seen this other places with HUGE root systems overtaking very large walls.

The building in the distance is the residence of the Ambassador of an important nation. I don't think I'll name the country. There are security cameras everywhere and lots of guards so I'm afraid they might not like me giving out any identifying details. And of course they are reading my blog so they would know if I named them. (Ha! Not likely!) The Ambassador's compound is 2 doors down from our house!

And finally, I cannot walk 10 feet without photographing flowers. Thankfully, I never have to! These lovely flowers are growing on the outer wall of our yard. Not to complain, but I would be even HAPPIER if they were growing INSIDE the wall.

Now you've had a peak around my neighborhood!

I had a great day today and took some more great pictures. I'll try to post them tomorrow.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Our Little Town

On Facebook I've been promising to blog about my disgusting cleaning job yesterday. However, because I recently blogged about bugs and because I have more pleasant pictures to share, I'm going to skip the disgusting for now.

Last night Eric and I went into what is sort of a little town near us to buy pizza for dinner. (From Pizza Hut. Hooray for some American chains being in Taiwan!). We ordered the pizza then had to wait for them to cook it so we walked around a bit. The town is only about 2 blocks long. I suppose technically it is part of Taipei, as we are, but in reality this is the closest "shopping" for all of us who live "on the mountain" so it feels like a little town.

There is the ubiquitous McDonald's. Often they are 2 stories as this one is.

And there is the equally ubiquitous Starbucks. I am not a fan, to put it mildly, of Starbucks. But due to proximity and familiarity, I am guessing I will learn to tolerate their coffee. Someplace just recently I saw a 2 level Starbucks and the 2nd floor had a balcony you could sit on. I wish that was the case here, because that would make it nice. However, this is just a small, one level place.

Now THIS is a cool store. I suppose it's kind of like the old dime stores in America. This store has EVERYTHING. And it's all in about 300 square feet. There were something like 5 aisles and they were each about as wide as me. They have spray paint, hair dye, batteries, badminton rackets, school supplies, plumbing and electrical supplies, on and on. Just about anything you could think of, it's here. While you're shopping a friendly dog says hi. Then he lays down near the cash register and goes to sleep. Eric and I loved this place.

Finally, just a couple of street shots I took while waiting for Eric to pick up the pizza. Nothing too terribly interesting. It was a beautiful night - breezy and not too hot or too humid, so I was quite content to sit and wait and watch people.

Today we went for a walk right around our house. I'll share those photos next.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Eric got our "regular" computer hooked up tonight. (Yeah!!) I can now access pictures that I haven't seen for a while. I began looking through pictures and thought "It is nice having our own pool, but it sure isn't as much fun without the cousins." I am sure my kids would agree. Here are a few pictures from their all-too-brief time together in July.

I guess you take the good with the bad, don't you?

To all of my family back in America: I am missing you.

Pool Fun

Last weekend we stayed very busy. During the week we have acquired some pool toys, so we plan to spend this weekend using the new toys and going no further than our pool.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Enough of the fluff. (Decorating posts.) Do you want to see what daily life is REALLY like around here? I'll show you what I encounter, daily. Hourly even.

I must say, the above photo is such a happy accident for me. The bug is dead (cool.) The bug is metallic (very cool.) But if you haven't already, click on the picture so you see it full screen, and read the words around the bug.

Isn't that FUNNY! I didn't plan it. I just set the bug on a nearby piece of paper figuring it would show up better than in the grass. I'm not clever enough to think up something like this, but I sure did laugh when I saw it!

The next bug requires two photos to get my point across, I think.

I walked out onto the patio and noticed something hovering above a tree. "A hummingbird", I wondered? But it wasn't moving at all. As I walked closer I realized the thing wasn't hovering, it was suspended - caught in a web. A web ABOVE the trees. How huge do you think a spider has to be to spin a web high above the trees? A web big enough to catch a bug so big I can see it from the ground and think it's a bird!? Please don't answer that. I don't want to know. I hope the spider is very happy outside. OUTSIDE! (My apologies that you cannot see the bug better. I don't have any great lenses yet.)

Later, I was trying to photograph the flowers on our cactus. They are quite high so I was on a small ladder. As I was reaching to try to get to the flower, a visitor showed up. Nothing too freaky. Just a huge bee of some sort. It apparently did not like being photographed though, as it dove at me shortly after I snapped the picture.

And finally, (for today) a "leaf bug". I don't know if that's a technical term, but that's what Anna calls them. They do look life leaves.

As you can see, my days are filled with exotic bugs. Lucky for you I haven't photographed the huge cockroaches, parading ants or leaping lizards. Which reminds me: If you're not on facebook you missed one of my (mis)adventures yesterday. I was washing dishes. I looked into the water to see what dish I would grab next. Floating next to my hand was a very small, very dead lizard. Eeewwwww.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


In keeping with my new black and white theme (which, yes, I have adopted from my sister-in-law) we purchased these dishes. Actually, while back in the States I purchased some plastic dishes for this house. But because: 1) they haven't arrived yet and we needed something to eat off of 2) I only purchased a set of 4 and we will need more for company 3) plastic will be good for poolside dining which is what I had in mind and 4) Eric suggested it, we bought these.

As you can tell, I don't know how to photograph dishes!We need many more accessories around the house, but I am waiting until our things from home arrive so that I can see where the blank spots are. Well, that and I cannot buy everything in one fell swoop. I do have this one accessory which I purchased in Kenting. I am not a huge fan of baskets, never knowing quite what to put in them, but I absolutely love this wooden basket.

And that's it...all of my inside pictures for now.

Tonight we were treated to dinner at The Grand Hotel. We thought we were having dinner at a coworkers house, but in fact it was at the hotel. If I had known I would have brought my camera. It was spectacularly beautiful. I will get back there some day WITH a camera. Hopefully this week I will get some interesting photos of the area to share. I know they've been a bit boring lately.

Friday, August 13, 2010

And Now For The Inside... (Part 2)

(Note: See Part 1 below. This will then make a little more sense.)

The dining room contains both my favorite pieces and my least favorite. It is all included in this picture.

The table is my least favorite of everything I ordered. It actually looks better in the photograph than it does in real life! I requested a black base and a wood top and that is what they gave me. I didn't envision the "apron" at the bottom of the top (does that make sense?) In addition, in person the wood looks very cheap. It actually looks like FAKE wood, though it is not. How sad is that?

The chairs are neither my most favorite nor my least. I wanted a black and white floral fabric, but this is what they came up with. Not floral, but it is okay. The only "problem" with these is that every time I look at them I want to grab some bright colored markers and color them in. I mean, don't they just look like pages from a coloring book? I cannot promise that I will not act on this impulse at some point.

Finally, this is my absolute favorite of all the furniture. I love, love LOVE this buffet. I might love it even more once it has some wine in it.

And Now for the Inside... (Part 1)

These pictures will require explanations. ALSO - - while I am thrilled to finally have figured out a way to blog WITH photos from my iPad, I am limited to 5 photos per post, so I will do this in parts.

Think of these as the "before" photos from a "before and after" shoot and never mind that I don't have the "after" yet. That will come, eventually. If only I could get someone from HGTV to come to Taiwan - I have a fabulous blank canvas for them to work on!


These chairs do not match the table, I know. I had to order everything in about 30 minutes so give me a break! After ordering, I re-thought the living room layout, so I had one too many tables. Then after moving in I decided the chairs, which were meant for the master bedroom, were needed in our vast, empty living room. This will work for now. It has to.

Likewise the bench was made for the bedroom then recruited for the living room. How lost does it look on that wall?

White, white and more white. Bland for now, but hopefully accessories will jazz it up sufficiently.

The photo below is a detail from the photo above. If you look above the front door you see a grid. The below picture shows what is in the grid. It's not stained glass, just some painted glass which covers lights.

This piece of glass will be the inspiration for my living room color choices. The palette will be mainly black and white with splashes of a grayish blue and an oh-so-pale yellow.

I hope I can pull if off! I really, REALLY wish David Bromstad or Genevieve Gorder from HGTV would show up. I know this room could be beautiful with their help. Since that likely won't happen I guess I'll have to start scouring the internet looking for ideas to copy.