Ten Things of Thankful: Tuesday Thoughts

TenThingsBannerI didn’t post a Ten Things of Thankful last week, but I did have a draft nearly completed. It was called the Ironic Edition, because there were many parts of my life that weren’t going that great, and yet I was still able to find things to be thankful for. Unfortunately, I forgot to save that draft, and when I went back to finish it, it was gone. And I moved on. In other words, I didn’t rewrite it at that time. I just posted something else that day. So here we go, with regular saving of drafts.  :-)

1. I am thankful for all my wonderful friends around the world, but today I’m especially thankful for the two young women in the photo below. Between the two of them, they have helped me in countless ways. They are both excellent translators, so when Dave and I get mail in Chinese or we see a posting in the apartment elevator, one of them always helps us out. They also translate take-out menus and the Chinese words in the photos Dave takes at the stores when he wants to know the details about something before he buys.

100_0642Dante (on the left) was part of the fabric play craziness last week. And yesterday, she showed us around some of her hometown (pictures and details in future post). Today, she sent me directions for my appointment (see #2) when I left my map at home. During the school year, she comes over one evening a week to help me with paperwork and odd jobs.

Rena (on the right) was my student the very first year I was in Taiwan, and she and I have been friends ever since. She has spent many working sessions with me at coffee shops. She visited the ceramics museum with me a few weeks back, and she’s my regular partner for The Shen Yun dance performance that I now attend each year (2015 will be our third time).

2. I am thankful for the wonderful health care in Taiwan, that the majority of the doctors here can speak English (as my Chinese is amazingly bad), and that the doctor I saw today made me feel like we were a team in managing my care. And I am thankful to my friend Jean for recommending him.  <3

routemap2013123. I am thankful for the amazing transportation system here in Taiwan. I knew that it would be a challenge to get to this doctor, and it was: a bus to the train station, a train to Taipei, the MRT (subway) to the part of the city I needed, and then a 20 minute walk. But hey, with the walk each way, I got my exercise in. I am also thankful for how reasonable the transportation is. If I hadn’t taken the scenic route home–don’t ask–I would have paid less than $8.00 US for the round trip. (The map on the left is the for the MRT. They are still expanding this system, but it’s pretty impressive.)

4. I am thankful for my detour today. Even though it cost me a couple extra dollars (and a lot of time), I saw more of Taipei, learned more about how to get from one part of the city to another, and actually enjoyed the process of figuring out my alternate route home, piece by piece. As a bonus, I got extra exercise AND lunch at a restaurant I hadn’t tried before.

5. I am thankful that early on in my adventure (in #4 above), I decided that I didn’t need to worry about being productive today. I decided to view this day as a gift of time. I could take this day and just enjoy the adventure that was unfolding. I decided I only needed to get two things done today: this post and a little research. Which leads to #6.

6. I am thankful for the Internet and the amazing source of information that is available. After today’s appointment, I had a lot to think about, and being able to get reliable information was reassuring and informative.

kite7. I am thankful for the people who sponsor the challenges I’ve been participating in: Green Embers and the Building Room Challenge; Cee at Cee’s Photography for Share Your World; Indecisive Eejit and Mental Mama for the Cartoon Craziness Challenge; and all the people who pass around the If We Were Having Coffee meme.

8. I am grateful to the people who follow my blog, who read my blog, who comment on my blog, and who like my posts. This blogging experience continues to be a great help to me, and I appreciate everyone who interacts with me in some way.

9. I am grateful for the discoveries I’m making in the Cartoon Craziness Challenge about drawing and the need to practice. That it can be developed, and that it can be fun, and that it’s something I’ve kept on the back burner far too long. OK, I actually kept it totally away from the stove. But I’m glad I brought it back into the kitchen.

10. I am grateful the scraps of fun and hope that I am finding in my life, and for the people who join me and support me in the search.

And I am thankful for Lizzi at Considerings and the others who host Ten Things of Thankful.

 

Give Me S’More Time!

I have to tell you that I’m surprised I’m participating in this challenge at all, but I’m glad it happened. I’m learning a lot about myself and my misconceptions about drawing (which I will elaborate on another time). Let’s just say that this is turning out to be a good experience even though I’m kind of slow at it. That’s because I have to practice and think and practice some more before I start to get the hang of what I’m trying to make. It’s a process that fascinates me, and I’m learning a lot about myself in the process.

If it wasn’t my theme that had been selected for the Cartoon Craziness Challenge this week, I’d sit this one out. It hasn’t been a good week, but I’m feeling slightly pressured to play along. Unfortunately, since I’m new at trying my wings at this drawing stuff, it takes me a lot longer to get something I’m willing to share. And with little time, I only began to complete my “vision” for this week’s challenge.

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So I’m going to share the draft of the main image for my childhood vacation. I won’t tell you how many attempts it took me to get this far. I don’t mind the process, but I ran out of time to finish what I started. If you’re interested, you can check out my piece about Time that I posted yesterday. Anyway, I’m still satisfied with the progress, and I figured since all my fans are clamoring for my artwork (haha), that I would at least put a placeholder here and give you a rain check for the completed post another time. It’s that or not post. For the sake of my feelings, I won’t take a poll.  ;-)

I am the oldest of five children, and so vacations needed to be economical. I’m not sure where my parents got the idea– might be something to ask them the next time we talk, but we started doing summer camping trips around Michigan and sometimes into Ontario, Canada. There are lots of things I want to draw for this post, but here is my draft attempt at our lodging.

drft tentOK, now you have an idea. So hold on and the details will get fleshed out over time. Maybe a lot of time.  :-)

But as a bonus for playing along, I’m going to share some of my daughter’s artistic endeavors. I didn’t draw the campfire yet, but we used to do some of our cooking that way. And one of the things we made was s’mores. Well, my daughter with her pen pal hobby and her creativity, came up with a little rubber stamp guy she created called Marsh MAILOW. (I used all caps on the last name to show the connection between MALLOW and MAILOW for the pen pal connection. Cool, huh?  Check it out. She blogs about her hobby, her son, books, and lots of other things at SincerelyKate.

Marsh MailowI asked Kate about using this guy, because I wanted to include some of the food type things that we did on our camp-outs, and I thought of the campfire and roasting marshmallows. Well, that thought led directly to her rubber stamp guy!. :-) This is how he looks outside of his normal activities announcing mail.

Marsh Mailow

So there you have it. If I don’t get thrown out of the challenge for breaking all the rules, I’ll see you next week with something that might be more in keeping with what you expect to see in this space. :-)

Here’s hoping for a better week!

 

 

 

 

 

Time to Think about Time

Our Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “time.”

Lately, time and I have an uneasy relationship. I keep trying to plan it, manage it, rearrange the plans, and it just keeps on going, as if I don’t matter. When we are in synch, I feel productive, fulfilled, sometimes even invigorated or hopeful. But other times, I feel overwhelmed. Then I realize that it isn’t really time’s fault. It isn’t the fickle one, changing moods and priorities at every turn. Time is so consistent, annoyingly so sometimes. I want it to be a little more flexible, a little more willing to go with the flow. Enjoy the spontaneity of our relationship. But no, just the same old answer every time I ask: tick tock, tick tock, or some variation of it, with a few chimes or bird calls thrown in for good measure. How is one to maintain a good relationship with such limited conversational options?

Time knows me though. It knows that if it weren’t consistent, I’d complain about that. I’d be asking how am I supposed to get anything done when I can’t depend on you? Geez, Time, if you’re going to change the details of our relationship without giving me enough information, how can I trust you? Time just looks at me with a knowing half-smile. Damn, maybe I’m the one with the problem!

I guess, if the truth be told, I’m a little jealous of Time’s consistency. I think I’d like to be consistent–maybe not in a regimented way, but in a way that allows me to walk in better step with time. It would be nice not to be out of synch so often.

I keep trying things, dividing time into blocks, compartments that I can use to have at least small pieces of success with the way I use time. I try to play matchmaker between these time blocks and the tasks on my to-do list. Sometimes it works, but not consistently. So I try other ideas.

I know I need to get along with time, but some of my other regular companions don’t always play nice. Motivation is totally fickle, and I wish it would learn a few things from Time. But if I’m honest, the one that really messes things up pretty regular is Depression. It comes and drains all the Excitement and Vision from Motivation, snubs its nose at Time, and is totally comfortable with the misery it leave behind.

Therein lies my real problem with time, but I need to be careful not to use depression as a reason to give up on my other friends. They deserve more. Time, Motivation, Excitement, Vision, and Well-Being are the ones who make life worthwhile and who keep in touch with my human friends. Without them, Depression has a tendency to be a little possessive and get in the way of all my friendships.

Somewhere along the way, several years ago, I read something about making friends with Depression, or at least, don’t spend so much time actively resisting it. I’m not quite so sure how I feel about that, but I do know that ignoring it isn’t the way to go. Maybe Time and I will need to give a little, and at least help Depression feel a little less like an outcast. Maybe a listening ear is just is needed. It’s worth a try.

 

This post is part of SofCS: http://lindaghill.wordpress.com/2014/08/15/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-august-1614/

 

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Surviving Ghost Month in Taiwan

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I am certainly no expert on Taiwanese culture and traditions, but I enjoy participating in many of the events that happen in the course of the year. Many people might be surprised to hear that we are currently moving toward the end of Ghost Month in Taiwan. Carrie Kellenberger has spent much more time in the area (and in many other places) and offers the following introduction about this tradition.

The hungry ghosts of Taiwan are currently haunting this beautiful island. Yes, you read that right! And they’re going to continue haunting the island for the entire seventh month of the lunar calendar.

This means a number of things for residents of Taiwan. For one, there is a lot – and I mean A LOT – of paper burning and alter worship happening in temples and on the streets right now. The Taiwanese are a naturally superstitious people, and this is particularly evident during Ghost Festival, also know as the Hungry Ghost Festival. (Ghost Month typically occurs in August, but in 2017, for example, Ghost Month in Taiwan falls in September.)

The custom originates from China, but it is also celebrated by Buddhists and Taoists in other Asian countries and in Asian communities around the world. The most important day of Ghost Month is known as Ghost Day, and it falls on the 15th night of the festival. Taiwanese believe that this is the time of year when spirits and ghosts are nearest to our realm of existence, thus the living are likely to be visited by the dead – unless they are appeased.

If you check out Carrie’s post, you will find out about the superstitions and prohibitions that are in place during this month. (She also has awesome posts about all kinds of places to visit around the world. It’s a great blog if you want to do some exploring.)

While Ghost Month lasts for the entire lunar month, the Hungry Ghost Festival falls on the eve of the 15th day of the 7th lunar month–which in 2014 was Saturday, August 9. In an article, the Hungry Ghost Month, Lauren Mack points out that although it is believed the gates of hell are open throughout the Hungry Ghost Month, they are most open on the 15th day of the lunar month. It is believed many hungry and wayward ghosts come to visit the living.

These festivals are celebrated all over the island usually involving lanterns. One such festival is celebrated with fireworks and lanterns at the Guishan Township Office parking lot seen in the photo above. The corrugated roofing material is what we see from the balcony of our fourth floor apartment. We live across the parking lot from the township office, resulting in really great seats to watching the celebration.

ghost mosaicIn a Taiwan Photo Mystery, I posted photos from the festival outside of our apartment. What you see in the photos are 5 trucks, that have racks of lanterns that are raised upright. Those who guessed fireworks are not quite correct. Fireworks are part of the festivities, and some are even set off behind the lantern displays, the the majority of the fireworks are set off on the other side of the parking lot. In this post, I will show you some closer images of the lanterns and a couple of the fireworks. It was difficult to get good shots of the fireworks, but I have a few things to show you.

Even though I am going to be starting my 6th year of teaching in Taiwan, this is the first time I have been here for Ghost Month. The previous summers, I’ve been visiting home in the US during this time. My husband had seen this before, so it was fun to be able to see it with him this year. (Plus, we finally figured out which night it would be rather than him just being surprised by it.)

Here are a couple of the fireworks, but I think the best photo is the one at the top of this post.

fireworks 2 panelHere is a photo with two of the trucks carrying the lantern displays. The lanterns themselves are red, but the lights make for some interesting colors.

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Some close-ups of the lanterns.

lanternsOne of the cool things about trying to photograph fireworks is that you can also get some really interest effects. This is one of my favorites from the evening.

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After approximately 30 minutes of the fireworks and the lantern display, the lanterns are returned to the resting position, and the trucks start moving away.

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Only a few days remain in Ghost Month for this year. I’m hoping that we manage to get through it without any sightings.  I hope you enjoyed a glimpse at the celebration in our Taiwanese neighborhood.

35 Years Ago Today: Whose Birthday is It Anyway?

christmasIf you follow my blog much, you’ve seen a few posts about my charming daughter, Kate. I did a two-part feature over two post for her 26th birthday: Part 1 and Part 2.  There are other posts as well, but I’ll let you poke around if you’re interested, or you can post questions in the comment section below.

Now, you may find it interesting to note that I have three other children, and I don’t really post too much about them. Probably because Kate is the one with a blog, and we are in regular communication through our blogs and other social media.

So to set the record straight, Kate has three brothers, two of whom are with Kate in this picture taken in Florida. Doug, my older, is on the left in the picture above, and Erik is on the right.Doug and Erik both live in Florida, and Kate was visiting at the time. There brother, Tom, was not in Florida at the time of this picture.

In case you’re wondering, today is a special day for the guy on the right. Erik has been a part of my life for 35 years. He has made a great life for himself with his wife Mindy, and I’m looking to celebrating with them in person next summer.

Maybe I’ll have to do some posts with more info about my sons. But for now, I have just one thing to say!

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY,

ERIK!  <3

 

 

A Taiwan Photo Mystery

Many of you enjoy when I share bits of my cultural experiences of Taiwan. So I thought it might be fun to post a photo of the next cultural element I plan to share. This is a series of photos taken by my husband. Do you know what they are about? If you want to guess, you can do so in the comments below.

ghost mosaicDISCLAIMER: People from Taiwan or who are experienced with Taiwanese culture are not eligible for this contest.  :-)

The story behind these photos will be revealed soon.

 

 

The Anti-Bully

Deborah:

For anyone who thinks that one person can’t make a difference, read on. This is a beautiful story of compassion, action, and change.

Originally posted on joeyfullystated:

Years ago, when the girls were in first and second grade, we sat in the food court of the PX (Post Exchange) and Sassy said she wanted to go get a drink refill, but she wanted to wait til this other kid wasn’t over there. I asked her why she didn’t want to be around him, and she told me, “That’s Eric. No one likes him.”
“Why not?”
“Cause he’s so weird. He’s always roaming around the classroom, talkin to himself. He wears these patch things on his arm and they’re supposed to help him sit down and be quiet, but they don’t work.”

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How I felt was monumentally affected. Sad for Eric is an understatement. Sad for his parents, too. Grievous might be the better word.
“Sassy. That could be a little version of your brother over there. He had the same troubles as Eric, only he didn’t roam…

View original 509 more words

Rome is Looking a Little Rosier

REPORT FOR LAST WEEK

1. Complete 12 one-hour blocks. The tasks for those blocks include:

  • editing project (2 sections) DONE
  • writing project (draft first unit; make plan for other units) (no real progress on this)
  • start a worksheet for new possibilities DONE
  • schedule the tasks from last weeks list to make a rough schedule for the coming year DONE

2. Go to Curves three times during the week. DONE

3. Maintain walking three times a week. DONE

4. Start piecing possible designs for quilted postcards. Done and did additional sewing as seen here.

5. Continue visiting my fellow builders. I wasn’t as good about this as I had intended.

6. Work on idea for decluttering challenge; continue posting daily; write a post about blogging Turns out that was a type. It was supposed to be a post about the decluttering idea. Regardless, it didn’t happen.

7. Catch up on my unanswered comments. I kept current with new things that came in, but didn’t make much dent on the backlog.

OTHER ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

  • Actually worked on the blog plan. Ready to put it on a calendar.
  • Made mini-lists of tasks for several of my major projects.

 

THIS WEEK’S COMMENTARY

Bradley has another great theme for this week: Finding Neverland!

This week take a break from your hard work and find your inner child. Find your way to Neverland! :D

Wow, I feel like I’m finally ahead on something. Inspired by the Cartoon Craziness Challenge, I spent some time with my inner child over the weekend. I was so happy with my artwork, which followed closely on the amazing fabric play that is linked to on #4 in my weekly report above.

And I have an outing planned for next Monday, the 18th that involves flying a kite! OK, challenge accepted!

These two posts I refer to show something else. Building Rome is becoming less arduous on the day-to-day level. I don’t mind showing up. I don’t mind actually doing those blocks of time and staying focused for the duration. While the blocks have been helpful, they weren’t working as well as I had hoped for the last few weeks, but in the last few days, there is definitely a shift. My lethargy and lack of interest seem to be passing. I won’t start throwing confetti around yet, but as the title says, things are looking a little rosier for me around Rome.

GOALS FOR WEEK OF AUGUST 11

1. Complete 12 one-hour blocks. The tasks for those blocks include:

  • editing project 1 (2 sections)
  • evaluate new editing project and complete 2 sections (if taken)
  • writing project (map out all sections and start to write SOMETHING)
  • Work on a basic plan for upcoming webpage.

2. Go to Curves three times during the week; walk three times.

3. Sew blocks for Clue 3 of Summer Mystery Quilt

4. Start piecing possible designs for quilted postcards.

5. Continue visiting my fellow builders.

6. Write a post about decluttering; schedule launch.

7. Map out blog plan.

8. Catch up on my 20 unanswered comments. (Maybe if I choose a number instead of looking at it as catching up on all my comments, it will actually seem more doable.)

Good luck to everyone on meeting your goals this week!

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This post is part of the Building Rome Project. http://greenembe.rs/2014/08/11/building-rome-week-33-finding-neverland/

Another Part of My World

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A photo from my last trip to the Yingge Ceramic Museum, just because.

Since many of you seem to enjoy finding out “more about me,” I am joining in Cee’s weekly SHARE YOUR WORLD challenge. 

Here are this week’s questions along with my answers.

Do you prefer ketchup or mustard?

I don’t use much of either. I use ketchup on the rare occasions that I have a hot dog. Ketchup and dill pickles. On occasion, I might have ketchup on a hamburger, but I’m more likely to use mayonnaise with lettuce and tomato.

I like a little mustard on a ham sandwich and as a condiment in potato salad.

If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction?

Most likely a romantic-comedy, but it would be more likely a musical with several dance numbers.  :-)

If you could be given any gift what would it be?

A year-long stay at a quilting/art colony with a fully stocked studio and access to fabric, as well as a couple other artists to brainstorm and collaborate with.studio fully stocked with supplies and fabric. But I could still be ecstatic with a month or two.  :-)

For potlucks or parties do you cook it yourself, buy from a grocery store, or pay for catering?

At this point in time, my husband is the one who makes things when we go somewhere. But my favorite potluck story is from the mid-80s, when I rode a bus to my job at the University of Washington in Seattle. Potlucks were a bit of a challenge because I didn’t want to haul a lot of stuff with me, and keeping things hot or cold, depending on what they were could be an issue. So I came up with my bus-friendly go to dish that I took to every potluck we had while I worked there. It was easy, and it was a hit. It involved the grocery store and assembling it after I was at work.

Peas and peanut salad.

1. From home I brought an unbreakable serving bowl, some plastic wrap,  and a serving/mixing spoon.

2. I left about 15 minutes early for my walk to the bus stop, so I could stop at the grocery store (1 block from grocery store).

3. Pick up three ingredients at the grocery store: a bag of spanish peanuts, a bag of frozen peas, a container of sour cream.

4. Catch the bus to work as usual.

5. The peas thaw while keeping the sour cream cool.

6. About 10:30, combine all three ingredients in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.

7. When it’s time to set food up, remove plastic wrap, stir to mix one more time, and serve.

Bonus: since this salad was a big hit, it would all get eaten. I would just rinse out the bowl and spoon, and bring them home. Easy!  :-)

 

Thanks to Cee for another interesting set of questions. If you want to join in, here is the link: http://ceenphotography.com/2014/08/11/share-your-world-2014-week-32/

 

What Does Happiness Look Like? (Post #250)

coffeemeWell, for those of you who have not witnessed the way I overthink things sometimes, you are in for a scare treat. For this week’s Cartoon Craziness Challenge, the theme is Happiness!

It didn’t take me long to think:  WOW! I can draw a cup of coffee.  Not to difficult. Coffee makes me happy. It’s awesome. I can do this. Well, you get the idea. Then the next thing that came to mind is “Happiness is a Warm Puppy” — thanks Snoopy. And I love my little chihuahua, and since I’m no longer afraid of drawing things that aren’t perfect, I could work on drawing my puppy. Again — awesome!

That led me to doing a series with a mug of coffee and a sweet chihuahua and . . .  I was thinking of how to include quilting in some way. To give myself a little confidence when working on these challenges, I look online for how to draw tutorials for various things. As a result, I have a prototype for my mug of coffee that you see here.

And then over the weekend, someone mentioned that there was a place where we could fly kites. YAY! We made plans to fly kites on August 18! That’s something that’s been on my list for a while, and I specifically wanted to do it during my 600 days to 60 project. (I have a long “thing” about kites, but I’ll save that for another post.)

Now I had three things to draw: coffee, puppy, kite. I mini-series. The coffee was in the bag, so to speak. I found a great tutorial for a chihuahua, and started a little practice one. I figured I could save the tutorial and do it in time for the challenge. I had a decent idea of how to do a kite — smart me: have something that makes me happy that’s super easy to draw. But I looked up a few tutorials anyway.

By a lucky slip of the fingers, I opened Microsoft Paint while I was browsing kite tutorials. Serendipity! So I thought, what they heck! I’ll play around with the Paint program and see what kind of kite I can come up with. Here’s the answer.

kiteMy kite was just about finished when it was time to eat breakfast. And I went back to thinking about the quilting/fabric connection, and then it hit me. I could draw something as basic as that kite and then ZENTANGLE it! How awesome! I finished my breakfast. Then I was off and running sitting at my sewing table, with the machine pushed back, outlining a kite outline on some drawing paper and zentangling my way to a place of serenity and enjoyment! (A place I haven’t seen a lot of lately.)

And here is my Zentangle kite!

kiteOf course, this was already taking a lot more time than I really had, so I decided to save the puppy tutorial for another time. I’m sure there will be an opportunity at some point in the challenge, and if not, I’ll MAKE it fit.  haha

One of the most amazing things about the challenge this week is I realized doing these pictures is making me happy. This is an unanticipated outcome of joining this challenge. I expected it to challenge my attitudes and abilities in drawing. I didn’t expect it to become a source of excitement and happiness.

Thanks to Mental Mama and Indecisive Eejit for hosting this challenge. And thanks to the people in addition to them who also kept egging me on. I’m so glad you did!

MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT: I JUST REALIZED THIS IS MY 250th POST!  YAY!

 

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This post is part of Cartoon Craziness Challenge: http://theindecisiveeejit.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/cartoon-craziness-challenge-happiness/  Maybe you can join in!  You never know what you might discover about yourself.  :-)

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