Sunday, October 31, 2010

Puppy Update No. 1

No one got much sleep last night. The kids went to bed with the puppies in their rooms about 9:30. Eric and I stayed up until 12:30, then just as we were preparing to go to bed Anna came out to say Jasper was causing her problems. We offered suggestions and she went back to her room. Nothing worked, so she came to sleep in my bed and Eric slept in Anna's room with Jasper. Before Anna or I could get to sleep Jade began whining in Ethan's room. I decided to take care of her since I was awake (and Ethan wouldn't know what to do anyway.) Anna wanted to help, so together we played with Jade until 1:45. Finally Anna and I got to sleep, but only until 4:15 when Jade awoke again. I don't remember those details, but I know I was up for about 20 minutes with Jade, then back to sleep until 6:00. That time caused Ethan to cry so I sent him into my bed while I entertained Jade. I then slept on the couch with Jade while the kids slept in our bed and Eric slept in Anna's bed - what a mess!

Today we have of course been cleaning up lots of messes, but we have also managed to get both dogs to go potty outside. Jasper is exceedingly skinny and is eating like a horse which make us wonder how little she was being fed. Jade is cute and plump but extremely young - I would guess she has only recently been weaned. She seems unsure of how to eat and has twice thrown up what she ate, so we'll have to figure out what to do about that. She sleeps most of the time. Jade is younger but she will be bigger and she is already establishing herself as top dog over Jasper.

Tonight I think we will have the dogs in our room so that the kids at least can get some sleep. My idea is that I will tough it out through this early time, then once the puppies can sleep through the night they can go to the kids rooms.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


...the newest members of our family:

Yep, it's official, I've lost my mind! We promised the kids they could get a dog when we got to Taiwan. They've had to wait while we dog sat for a friend. One week ago the dog left so we finally decided to make good on our promise. We looked at a pet store, not intending to buy anything because they are WAY too expensive. That particular store always had red poodles which is a breed we really wanted. But they are just over-the-top expensive and I was not about to pay that kind of money for a dog. It was hard to walk out without a dog though, especially since there were 3 red poodles to choose from.

Last night we went to the Shilin Night Market because we had heard you could find puppies there. We had also heard you shouldn't get one of those dogs, but we looked anyhow. We didn't see any sign of dogs, at least not dogs for sale.

Today we went to the Jade and Flower Market. We had been there once before while NOT looking for a dog, and there had been dogs. Sure enough, today they also had dogs and the price was most definitely right - FREE! Mutts, but that is what I honestly wanted. We've had only purebreds in the past and they are a pain. I also insisted we would only get a female. There was just one female available, and we all thought she was pretty cute so we took her. Ethan came up with her name, and we all thought it was a stroke of genius: Jade. Due to the next set of events, Jade has become Ethan's dog.
Jade needed food, a collar, leash, bed, etc., so we headed to a pet supply store we knew of near our old apartments (Jasper Villas.) While the kids chose an appropriately girly bed for Jade I realized there were some puppies in this store. Because I was beginning to worry about nighttime fights over who would sleep with Jade, I began asking questions. There was a black teacup poodle but it was a male. The only other dog was a Shih Tzu. We had one of those before and the dog made me crazy. I didn't really want one. But I asked anyhow and, sure enough, it was a female. I asked the price, expecting something outrageous. But it wasn't. She wasn't free like Jade, but not too bad. I quickly called Eric who was waiting in the car with Jade. "What would you think if we...?" He was all for it, because he was also anticipating the nighttime histrionics.
By the time we got back to the car Eric had come up with the perfect name which we again all embraced enthusiastically: Jasper. Jasper is Anna's dog.

Strangely, the purebred is rather motley looking while the mutt is cute as can be.
I imagine they will provide me with plenty of stories in the coming days. At the moment they are both happily in bed with their respective children. I hope they remain there until morning!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


How I wish I could take credit for writing this. It resonates deep within me. But it is not mine. It was written by Jimmy Webb. It is a song performed by Linda Ronstadt.

Shattered, like a window pane
broken by a stone
Each tiny piece of me
lies alone
and scattered
far beyond repair
All my shiny dreams
just lying there.

I'm broken, but I'm laughing.
It's the sound of falling glass.
I hope that you won't mind
if I should cry
in public
while I wait for this to pass.

Cuz sweet darling I'm
into fragments cold and gray.
Sweep the pieces all away
then no one will ever know how much it mattered
when something deep inside of me

It seems like, as a Christian, I'm not supposed to feel this way. I'm supposed to have "the joy of the Lord". I hope people understand, and I hope if it's okay if I feel shattered for awhile. Because I'm kind of tired of pretending everything is okay. I don't like going places. People are so uncomfortable with grief. Everyone says, the first time I see them, that they are sorry about my Mom. I know they mean it. But what is supposed to happen next? Are THEY supposed to quit enjoying life for my sake? Of course not.

I think this may be the hardest part of living overseas. There is no close friend who can be with me yet give me the space I need, allow me to feel shattered. I have those friends in the States, but that doesn't do me much good right now, does it?

It was good to skip BSF today; to sit home and sing along with Linda Ronstadt over and over and over... "I'm broken, but I'm laughing."


Things didn't go so well between me and Taipei Public Transportation today. First the bus was late, which didn't matter too much because I allow myself plenty of extra time. Next the bus was standing room only when I got on, which is not unusual. Then we proceeded to stop at EVERY stop and squeeze more people on. I began to worry that someone would step on my foot. That wouldn't be a big deal to most people, but for me...

...(Rambling side note) Last summer I think I broke a toe or two on my left foot. I had done the same thing to my right foot a few years prior. The left foot seemed to be improving, until August 1st when we flew to Taiwan to live. In the first airport, Ethan stepped on my foot - RIGHT on the broken toes. It hurt like crazy. I had to keep it to myself for 2 reasons: 1) Ethan has a habit of hurting me and then getting upset if I express pain, which means I have to apologize to him, which makes me crazy. 2) People seem to think I make stuff up so I have learned to keep most of my physical issues to myself, most of the time. But this foot thing - it's been almost 3 months since Ethan stepped on it (and my guess is he rebroke whatever had been broken before) - it still hurts every day. It hurts at night. It hurts all the time. So, yes, I AM PARANOID that someone is going to step on my foot again. If that happened I fear I might have to go to a doctor who would want to TOUCH my foot and then... Don't even get me started. If you know me, you know people don't touch my feet and you know why. If you don't know me, it's a long story that you probably don't want to hear.

But I managed to get off the bus without injury, so I proceeded to the MRT Station. My train came, I got on, we sat there. We didn't ALL sit there. The train was also standing room only, so I stood. The doors didn't close. A message flashed across the screen which said The Train is Waiting, Please be Patient. After a few minutes the doors closed and we were off. At the next station people got off, (mind the foot, please!) people got on, doors stayed open, no message this time (at least not in English) but after a few minutes the doors closed and we moved. Repeat this a couple more times. THEN, people got off, people got on, doors didn't close, announcement in Mandarin, people got off, people got off, announcement in Mandarin, people got off (we were packed in like sardines so there were lots of people who could decide to get off.) 15 minutes passed. A college age girl near me looked friendly and that age group usually speaks some English so I asked her what was happening. She said they were having some trouble with the train but they would go in 8 minutes.

....(Rambling side note.) They are funny about times here. They do not express time in 5 minute increments. When I call for a cab I am told how long the wait will be. The standard times are 3, 6, 9 or 15 minutes. Longer than that they say they don't have a car for you. If you make a reservation at a restaurant they tell you they will hold the table for 6 minutes, if you are later than that you lose your table. Funny to me that it is not 5 or 10 minutes, but 6.

By now I was late for my Bible Study and I hadn't even reached the "busy" station yet. Once there I could try to cram myself into another train (as I usually do) or I could walk. Given the way the train was running I thought I should probably walk, although by now my feet were not feeling up to the challenge.

I gave up. I got off the train. I had observed trains heading the opposite direction (back to where I began) while I stood waiting for mine to move. My intention was to call it a day and head home. But... no trains came. I found a place to sit. The board said over and over that the next train would be arriving in 1 minute. I gave up and walked outside to catch a taxi.

Even the cab ride was strange. The driver knew where he was going (which is sometimes a bonus!) but he had a very strange way of driving. I used to describe my Mom's driving as "push and coast": she would accelerate then take her foot off the gas pedal until she was going too slow, then accelerate again, coast, etc. The cab driver was kind of an extreme version of push and coast. Rather than PUSH the accelerator he seemed to PUNCH it, then he would get too close to the car ahead of us so he would have to brake. The result is I was continually being thrown forward and back, forward and back.

It's just a good thing this was not my first experience with public transportation here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wildlife update

I haven't had a wildlife update for a LONG time. Today...well I think I will have bad dreams tonight!

First, there was a lizard. (technically I believe they are geckos). I am getting used to them, sort of. But today it was on my bed! I am not happy about that!

And THEN...

We were on the patio tonight visiting with our dinner guests. I observed something leaping from one tree to the next and thought we had a monkey in our yard. It was on the papaya trees. Eric mentioned that the one ripening papaya had gone missing. Whatever this was, it was eating the fruit. Eric went in and got a flashlight. I already had my camera, so together we walked toward the tree. (You had better believe I would not have approached it alone!). Don't get excited, it was dark so I couldn't get my camera to focus thus no picture. It's really too bad because we saw a very unusual creature! I had to search the Internet for quite awhile to identify it: an Asian Palm Civet. One very interesting fact about them is that in some places they eat "coffee cherries", their stomach digests the fruit and they poop out the coffee beans. People actually pick up their poop and "harvest" the beans and sell it for a lot of money!

It is too late to say more. But today's sightings coupled with the story of our Pastor's friend who yesterday killed a COBRA - IN his house are practically guaranteed to make for very stressful dreams!

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Finally Broke Down...

...and hired a helper. Or maybe she is a maid, I'm not sure. Titles are fuzzy here. Her name is Jacqueline, but I will call her J, just so I don't have to type that long name every time.

J is the lady who stayed at our house while I was in the States in September. It is hard to get complete stories from the ladies who do all of the work here in Taiwan because they are exceedingly humble. But from bits of information J has given me I think she might have lost some work due to being wholly committed to my family for 2 weeks. So J is now working for me 2 days a week. It is good for everyone, I think.

Yesterday I had to leave before J was supposed to arrive. I haven't given her a key yet, but I definitely need to. I called to let her know I would leave the gate open so that she could get in. When J arrived the gate was closed - whether from the typhoon winds currently blowing around here or the farmer closing it, I do not know. Nevertheless, when I arrived home J was cleaning away and she quietly told me the gate was closed. Astounded, I asked "How did you get in?" She went to the farmer working on the other side of our yard and asked if he would mind if she climbed over the wall! No small feat, since the top of the wall looks like this:


Monday, October 18, 2010

I am Not a Morning Person...

...and here is proof:

My poor kids. They love waffles. I make them a lot. Today I cooked one and gave each child half. I put the second waffle on the iron and then began doing other things - readying backpacks, throwing clothes on, looking for a swim cap. (The kids both begin swimming in P.E. today.). The waffle I had put on the iron? Completely forgotten. No one thought about reminding me. Ethan wasn't sure I had begun cooking anything. Instead they left the table, brushed their teeth and got shoes on. By the time I remembered the waffle it was not fit for the dog. The kids had to leave for school with only half of a waffle in their tummies.

I shall feel guilty all day.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Seen Around Taipei

Just a few random photos which have nothing to do with each other...

I have debated posting this picture. At first I thought it was funny, but the more I look at it the more it seems kind of gross and even potentially offensive. To explain: I was at the fabric market with a friend who was having some tablecloths sewn from fabric she purchased. One floor above "fabric heaven" is an entire floor of seamstresses (men and women - what do you call a MAN who sews? Seamstress seems a feminine title.) While my friend worked out the details of her project I wandered around and came upon this area full of discarded mannequins. I have decided to put the picture here (obviously!) and see what people think. If it is distasteful I will remove it - just let me know.

Eric and Ethan praying at McDonald's. I like the McDonald's sign with the flower behind them, and I really like that I captured father and son praying in public.

I took this picture at my new favorite restaurant, Smith & Hsu. When you sit down the waitress sets a tray with jars of tea leaves on your table. Each jar is labeled with the name of the tea and its corresponding number from the menu. There were at least 30 types of tea. I chose Chocolate Mint Tea and let me just say, I am in love! I want to go back every day. I could have purchased some of the tea to take home but I am not confident in my ability to brew it correctly so, for now, I will have to be content to get to Smith & Hsu whenever I can. Of course, this picture does not show tea, does it? This is the tea set which my friends and I purchased to enjoy with our tea. I must tell you that both of the ladies I was with that day were pregnant so I let them have first choice of the goodies. There were sandwiches (those I tasted were excellent) desserts (I didn't try those - can you believe it?) and scones. From my experience in the States scones were something I avoided as much as tea. Scones were so dry and tasteless that I could not imagine why anyone bothered. At Smith & Hsu I found out why people "bother" with scones! They were not dry and they were not tasteless. They were accompanied by jams and things. Actually I believe we had some choice regarding the jams, but I again left the choices to the pregnant ladies. I tried a raspberry jam which was very good, some clotted cream (which I liked) and something that had a hint of lemon in it and was wonderful. Sounds weird with chocolate mint tea I suppose but it seemed perfectly wonderful at the time.

Speaking of tea, I saw this shop while walking the other day and thought it was funny. "Could I have my tea baked, please?"

And finally, a VERY random photo. As we were driving home the other night I thought how strange this section of road would look to my friends in America. It is not a tunnel, it is the bottom level of a two-level road. It is quite typical here.

By the way, these pictures were all taken on my camera phone. I remember a few years ago questioning "WHY would you want/need a camera built into your phone?" It does come in handy when I don't want to lug my big camera (which I LOVE) around.

P.S. I'm posting this entry from my iPad. Blogging from the iPad is a miserable and tedious experience. Spell check.. well it would bore you if I tried to explain it's limitations here. My point is: if there are typos here I am UNABLE to find them with spell check and as it is now 2:55 a.m. I no longer care if there are typos!!!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

I Love Taiwan...

...because it is October 11th and I just swam in our pool!

(It was a bit chilly, but not too bad.)

Friday, October 8, 2010

I said earlier that I had found FLOWERS at The Pond. Make that FLOWER - singular.

One flower, some weeds and a post. Quirky perhaps, but I love these pictures.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"The Pond"

While I was in Idaho I accompanied Dad one day to "The Pond". It is the spot where he and his RC buddies meet every Thursday, purportedly to fly airplanes. The Pond is in the distant center of this picture.

Southern Idaho is categorized as high mountain desert so it is very dry, but also quite beautiful. Here, a few pictures taken at the pond:

The men have their own little section of the pond, where they set up their windsock.

They line up their vehicles...

and unload their gear.

They ready their planes.

And they talk. (A lot!)

The men want their wives to believe they go to The Pond to fly airplanes but, in fact, it is more of a social gathering.

Some of them don't even like the noise of the airplanes!

Once in awhile they actually fly airplanes.

(I'm kidding. They actually fly airplanes a lot. But they talk a lot too.)

The next 2 pictures surprised me because my Dad was actually smiling a bit. I didn't see much of that this visit.

Sometimes the men do goofy things, like use jack-in-the-box toys for pilots.

But overall they are pretty serious about their airplanes.

Quite often, someone crashes or stalls out somewhere in the pond. The men are prepared. They bring a boat along every week so that they can retrieve errant airplanes.

Sure enough, this week someone couldn't get his plane to lift off of the water soon enough. As a result he tried to climb too rapidly which stalled his engine, thereby causing it to nosedive into the water. I felt bad for the man for wrecking his plane, (it was a beautiful one!) but I was glad because it gave me a chance to photograph my 80 year old father in action. He likes to row the boat.

One friend helped him into the life vest. (Dad can't swim.)

They carried the boat down to shore.

While Dad placed the oars, the crash pilot gave him a push...

and off he went to retrieve the plane.

You cannot tell from the picture, but the wings were splintered pretty badly where they joined the fuselage. I felt bad for the man.

This was the only crash of the day.
Usually the men all bring a lunch and they eat together at The Pond. On this day Dad and I left a bit early and ate at Sonic.
I also took some flower pictures, but I will put them in another post so as not to junk this up, in case Dad ever reads it. He doesn't like all my flower pictures. He was surprised that I had found flowers at the pond, but I did! Another day...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Where Mom Prayed

Some time ago I read a blog post done by someone I don't know, and it moved me to tears. It was written by a woman whose grandparents were moving from the home they had always lived in to an assisted living apartment. She chronicled, with words and photographs, the home they were leaving, the moments she remembered around the home. It was so touching.

So when I flew "home" to Idaho 3 weeks ago to help my Dad with whatever-he-needed-help-with following the death of my Mom, I knew I wanted to do something similar. I wanted to photograph my Mom's home so that I could retain some of my memories of my Mom.

I know I did the right thing because, although Mom had only been gone 2 weeks, Dad was already changing things. Here is the most glaring change:

This was Mom and Dad's bed. Except, different. Mom always had a pretty comforter, pillow shams and extra pillows on the bed. Dad told me that back before Mom got sick, when they would make the bed together every morning, he would always question her as to why they had to put all that extra stuff on the bed. It was illogical to him because it was just to look pretty. So, I guess, as soon as she was gone he stuffed the pretty things in a closet and now just has the necessities on the bed.

The rest of the house I was able to capture pretty much as it had been when Mom's presence graced it's rooms.

This is the window through which Mom watched Dad mow the lawn. It is also one of the windows through which she would wave good-bye to me as I drove away.

Good-byes always made Mom cry. After I saw her in March, (the last time before she got sick) she wrote and told me my visit "seemed like a dream". It had gone too quickly. Yes, it surely did.

Mom liked pretty things. A soft aqua colored chair, with a floral throw...

and always a lace tablecloth on the table. (The piles would not have been there except Mom had died. These were piles of things Dad needed my help attending to, and they would be gone after my first few days there.) I expect the tablecloth is probably gone by now. On my last day there Dad remarked that he didn't know why that was there. Unnecessary. I supposed in truth it is a painful reminder of Mom to Dad, and he is trying to remove the reminders because he cannot stand the pain.

The couch which Mom had recovered in a fabric she knew I would like. (It had grapes and grape leaves woven in. I found some extra fabric in a closet and brought it home. I am going to make place mats with it.) In good times the tacky pillow was not there, but in her final months Mom lay here often during the day. Dad told me that whenever people came to visit, which they FREQUENTLY did, Mom made him hide the pillow away. It didn't matter how sick she was, she wanted things to look nice.

This table next to the couch is where Mom kept her supplies for working the crossword puzzle each day. The pencil sitting there is just the way Mom would have left it, although under it would have been the day's puzzle. I can imagine her sitting down and picking up that pencil to work on the puzzle a little more. I looked at the papers which were now under the pencil, and I am rather sure Mom left them there intentionally for Dad. Mom was famous for giving out Christian tracts. She mailed them often to friends and family. They addressed issues we were currently facing. One of the tracts under the pencil was titled "God Will Take Care of You". I don't know if she was concerned about how Dad would do after her death, or if he had told her he didn't know how he would manage without her, but in either case this is just the way she would have handled it - by leaving him a tract.
Inside the table she kept crossword dictionaries and a regular dictionary. This one was so worn out that she had recovered it with floral contact paper!

Like everything else, Mom's kitchen was immaculate.

For Dad, the cookie jar was always full, usually of homemade cookies.

And for visiting grandchildren, this little teapot was always full...

...of candy! My kids always knew they could have candy from Grandma's candy jar.

I remember when I was a kid and Mom and Dad bought this desk. It makes a particular noise when it is opened or closed. I had to get in to it several times while I was with Dad and each time the sound reminded me of Mom. What a silly little thing to remember!

More of Mom's pretty things:
The tray on her dresser.

The shelf which contained her collection of angels. Dad had the shelf custom made for her by a friend of my brother Paul.

A little antique dish filled with potpourri.

Glassware by her bathtub!

Silk pansies. I have said for years that pansies are my favorite flower. I had not realized before this visit how many pansies Mom had around the house. Were they her favorite also? Why had I never asked her?

This picture was a gift to Mom from my brother Todd, I believe when he left home for college. I think it summed up the feelings for both of them.

Long ago Mom used to embroider, and she made this picture.
Mom had a lot of books. She didn't ever read a novel, that I know of. She read biographies and books about God and the Bible. Mom was a student of Gods Word, always. This bookshelf contained just a few of her books.

Another bookshelf, although it doesn't contain a single book! This is in her bedroom.

This is the computer where Mom typed letters to her friends and family. Sometimes they were delivered via e-mail and sometimes she printed them out and mailed them.
She also read blogs here. This one, as well as those written by one son and several daughters-in-law and one granddaughter.
Next to her computer Mom kept notes and letters she had received from family and friends. She also had BOXES full of our letters. I was actually surprised to see how many people she corresponded with, and how frequent the correspondence was. There is no one in my life anymore that writes a real letter to me. Mom was the only one.

And THIS...

...this is where Mom prayed.