Monday, November 29, 2010

I Don't Like Spiders and Snakes...

I wish I had an amazing zoom lens on my camera so that I could take a picture of the spider on the other side of our wall which looks just like this one. "Our" spider is positioned in such a way that I could get a full-on view of it, if only I had the right lens. Since I do not, I searched the web for a picture and found one on this blog: (sorry, I tried to make it a link but the iPad won't cooperate.) I was hoping to find information about it but this is all I found, and the blogger didn't identify the spider. Let me tell you though, it is HUGE. The side facing us (not sure if it's underside or top) is black with yellow dots down the edges. It has enormous jointed legs. Cool, but creepy.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Another Pendulum Moment

A tree in our yard is currently producing some beautiful white flowers. I had to show them to you.

Just after being entrance by the beautiful flower I looked more closely at the tree and found this:

If you spray caterpillars with Raid they ooze goo and fall off the branch. You wanted to know that, didn't you?!

Tick tock.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

People in the Park

The first time we visited the park in Yangmingshan we were practically alone. It was a weekday. It was entirely different last weekend. There were people everywhere!

I must start with the pictures of my family. Sorry.

The first visit I did not allow my kids in the water. The second time other kids were doing it so...

Eric, who insisted he was not grumpy, with the pups:

All throughout the park there were people. Most of them had tea sets and were drinking tea. I wanted to photograph that, however, when I gestured to one couple to ask if I could take their picture they shook their heads no.

Sorry I am not doing a good job of narrating these pictures. Kids are home...constant interruptions. I hope you can see my point - people everywhere!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Walk through the Park

On Sunday we went back to the park we had visited a few weeks ago, and this time I brought my good camera. I think I will use 2 posts to share some of my MANY pictures. This post will be mostly nature with a bit of architecture thrown in. Later I will show some of the people.

There was a cool bridge which zig-zagged and had these cool posts at either end.

Once again I was surprised to find homes within a public park. I thought this one was so pretty. I took 2 or 3 pictures and would have taken more except the owner walked up so I suddenly felt like I was trespassing.
As with many things around here, the benches look a little neglected. (I prefer to think of them as shabby chic.)

Of course I found flowers!

Such beautiful flowers, and at the same time fall foliage.
I was in love with the moss and took many pictures of it. I do not remember it being gold colored when we first visited. Perhaps it turns color in autumn just like tree leaves?
All of these pictures were taken on the same day. Funny, isn't it, how the scenery goes from spring to fall then back to spring?

I took several pictures of this leaf for 2 reasons: 1) it is just pretty; and 2) it surprised me to see this fade from green to yellow then orange then red. I have a stamp pad that does that and whenever I've used it I've not liked it much, thinking it wasn't "natural". Now I know differently!

Monday, November 22, 2010


Today I uploaded - or downloaded or something - 356 pictures. Honestly thought I would post some but Eric was home sick today so I didn't get much done. Spent my evening booking a family vacation. I am nervous hoping I didn't mess anything up. I used a travel agent for the flights and she was actually only able to get us 3 seats, but she says she will get the 4th "not problem". Sure hope so!

I will be busy for the next 2 days so doubt I will be able to share pictures for awhile.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Quick note as I ride the MRT...

I'm beginning to like some of the smells in Taipei. Today I was walking happily along on my first solo adventure in a long time. The sun was shining on me and I was enjoying everything. As I approached the first food vendor along my route I inhaled deeply, anticipating the scent of something yummy. Instead, I was hit with the noxious aroma of Stinky Tofu. It hits you like a brick wall. And it lingers in your nose. Not what I was hoping for!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Royal News

The news that Prince William is FINALLY going to marry Kate Middleton has me yearning for my Mom.

Until a year or two ago Anna lived and breathed Princess dreams. I loved it and thought it was quaint, but Mom said every girl dreams of being a princess. She told me a bit of how it had been a dream of hers. I do not remember ever dreaming such dreams. I was never interested in princesses. At least, not until Mom woke me at 3:00 a.m. in a motel somewhere in Montana on July 29, 1981 to watch "THE Wedding". From then on I was hooked. I was head over heels in love with all things Princess Diana. I own piles of magazines featuring her, as well as many books. Mom and I talked often about the Royal Family, not just Prince Charles and Princess Diana, but Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, Princess Margaret, Princes Andrew and Edward and their wives and children.

I remember Mom visiting me at my house one day in July or August of 1997. I had a copy of People magazine sitting out. Diana was on the cover (again), pictured with Dodi Fayed. The headline said "Dodi is to Di For". Mom and I discussed sadly the downward spiral the life of Princess Diana seemed to be taking. Very shortly afterward my then-fiance and I went to my parents home for Sunday dinner. When we arrived Mom asked "What do you think about the news?" to which I replied "What news?" Diana had died in the car crash. Mom and I were stunned and saddened. I often think how the People headline was so prescient.

Mom watched the London newspapers online and she would e-mail me stories about the Royal Family from time to time. No longer enamored by their glamour, we discussed their depravity. Nevertheless I am positive Mom would have enjoyed the excitement and presumed glamour of the impending wedding. With Mom I would have been able to engage in discussions of dresses and flowers and venues and guests.

Funny to me that my Mom, such a lover of Jesus, was the person who introduced me to this love of English Royalty. I know it's not important. Mom knew they were not important. But it was nevertheless fun to engage in dreaming of such a life. It was fun to dream aloud with my Mom...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Not Much News

I've been hanging around home the past two days, so nothing exciting to photograph or report. I think I wash my hands about 5 billion times per day. No, I'm not OCD. But I AM allergic to dogs (just a little) so every time I handle them or clean up after them I have to wash my hands. And I clean up after them a LOT. I sometimes regret having gotten Jasper. She was 4 months when we got her and probably spent those 4 months in a cage with no training. She goes OFTEN and wherever she feels like it except, generally, she doesn't feel like it outside. I take the dogs out and Jade knows what she is supposed to do. She gets right to it. Jasper? She sits and eat leaves or licks my feet. We can stay out quite a long time and - nothing. Then we come in and TA DA! She goes on the floor!

If anyone has any pointers on training her I would be happy to hear them.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Odds and Ends

I have been snapping random things here and there with my camera phone. None of them are worthy of a full post, but I think they're worth posting together just to give a little glimpse of things.

The Taipei Flora Festival began last week. There is a large arena which I assume must be full of floral displays. I hope to see it soon and take pictures. In the meantime there are various floral displays around the city and this is one of them.

The people here have what is to me a strange love affair with cartoon characters. I cannot quite put my finger on what seems strange about it. So I have to admit I was a bit disappointed to see this display. I expected, or hoped for, something prettier.

Last weekend we were just leaving home when we spotted this man on horseback. Initially they were standing inside the bus stop which might have made a funny picture, but I wasn't quick enough. Even so, it was strange to me to see a horse amidst the hustle and bustle of Taipei.

While going to lunch with a friend we came upon a store in which I fell in love with many things. This was one of them:

During lunch another friend joined us. I did some emotional unloading on them after which they felt so bad that they each bought me one of the items I had oohed and aahed over - this tray being one of them. I was shocked and touched. Some readers will likely think this tray is strange, having 2 different patterns. That is part of the reason I love it!

Another day we went to dinner with a family that will be moving here next month. We have been friends since we lived in Boise so we are excited that they will be joining us. We ate at an Indian restaurant and Anna snapped a picture of what is one of my favorite foods in Taipei: Samosas.

Finally, every day as we wait for the school bus this man "cleans" the streets. I strikes me as an amusing waste of time. To the best of my knowledge he never removes debris, he just blows it around. I think one day he starts at the bottom of the mountain and blows everything upward, then the next day he starts at the top and blows it downward.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Bad Day

Start to finish, this has been a bad day. And really it's not done yet.

First our alarm clock has backed itself up an hour each of the last 2 nights. Is it possible it wants to reset to Standard Time as the U.S. did this weekend? So we got up an hour late. Upon hearing the news Ethan immediately began crying. He needs routine. And he HATES to be late. I went out to tell the bus driver to go without us. Eric drove the kids to school. They were on time. He arrived at work about 1-1/2 hours later than usual.

Jasper was attacked by ants. As I was examining her to figure out why she was acting strangely a couple ants crawled onto me and began biting. I took her to the bathtub and spent quite a bit of time trying to get all the tiny ants out of her fur.

Puppies peed all over the house, over and over. Every time I tried to do anything I was interrupted by another mess.

Because of the puppy messes I closed all the bedroom doors. The air conditioner in Ethan's room decided to go berserk today. When I went to shut it off I discovered that the lock on Ethan's door is stuck, so his door was locked shut. I couldn't find a key that fit, so I decided to wait until he got home from school. They kids discovered some time ago that they could climb in and out the bedroom windows and thought that was the coolest thing. I decided to use that to my advantage and have Ethan crawl in, shut off the A/C and unlock the door. Of course, for some reason today his window was also locked. I had to call the realtor who called the landlord who came with a key and opened the door. He didn't seem the least bit interested in the noise the A/C was making. I just shut it off and am hoping it will fix itself.

The dumplings I fixed for dinner, which J had prepared while I was in the States, were full of vegetables instead of the pork I expected.

After dinner Eric headed to 7/11 to get some milk. He called a few minutes after leaving to report he'd had an altercation with a scooter.

And through it all, I've been dealing with severe repercussions from my cancer. Enough said.

I am ready for this day to be over!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Pendulum Swings

Seems every time I have an experience that gets me thinking "I love Taiwan so much that I may never want to leave" it is rapidly followed by something that leaves me thinking "I want to leave tomorrow!". The chiropractic visit coupled with other events of the day put me in the "I love it" mode. But then... I took the trash out. As I was standing waiting for the trucks to come a rat scurried by. And by, and by. It sent me straight into "get me out!!" mode. I really, really detest - fear - loathe rodents.

When I take out the trash I stand with the maid from across the street. She does not speak any English, or at least she didn't used to. We always greet each other with a warm smile. Today after the rats first appearance I looked at her in horror and said RAT! She got it, and somehow (probably through gestures) asked me how big. I overestimated I am sure. But she seemed calm and was smiling. The next time it appeared, she saw it. As I shuddered and made awful faces she remained calm, smiling, even laughing a little. The rat was going into an opening a short distance from my feet. The maid got her broom, walked calmly to the opening and batted at it a bit. I don't know of course, but I think she did this just to make me feel better. The rat continued it's appearances. Eventually the garbage truck came. If you remember, we have to wait for 2 trucks - garbage and then recycling. As soon as the garbage truck left the maid picked up MY recycling and said to me "you go". She didn't have to say it twice! I said a quick "shei shei" and hurried home thinking "I am so ready to go HOME!"

Tick, tock.

Friday, November 5, 2010

I went to a chiropractor today and it was amazing! So different from in America. First they had me lay face down and they put warm packs along the entire length of my spine - neck to waist. That lasted 20 minutes. I cannot believe I didn't fall asleep, I think I might next time when I know what to expect. Next the doctor put warm oil on my back and did a massage! Only after that did he do the adjustments, and they were done differently so that I didn't stiffen up in fear. (Or at least I didn't stiffen up too much.) Finally they placed another warm pack under my neck and had me lay for 5 minutes.

I could get used to this!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Parks, Ponds and Puppies

No puppy pictures today. I realized I've taken videos but no still photos. Just a quick update: I think perhaps getting 2 was actually a very GOOD idea. They play with each other rather than looking to me for entertainment. And I think they learn from each other and even compete. For example, Jade was the first to be brave enough to go up or down steps. Jasper didn't seem to want to do it, but after she saw Jade do it she followed suit. So far they seem like pretty good dogs and things are going well.

Last Friday I kept the kids home from school because it was ALL about Halloween that day, and we don't celebrate Halloween. Eric also took the day off and we did a little exploring. We found this very cool park somewhat close to our house. (It's not walking distance, but just a five minute drive.)

The park is full of ponds, streams and waterfalls. We all loved the park. There is one negative: it smells bad. There are a lot of hot springs on Yangmingshan and they smell strongly of sulfer. The smell was pretty powerful in the park, but at least it was a natural stink!

I'm guessing this was placed here as art, though I'm not certain. I like it because it is covered in moss.

All through the park there are picnic tables, but they are not the same type as in America. Here they are made of natural materials. Many are just stone, one which I thought was wood was actually concrete made to look like wood, and there were a couple with beautiful granite tops, like this:

These pictures were all taken on my phone as I didn't have my regular camera with me (again!) I need to go back with my good camera because I think I could get some neat pictures.