Just . . . : SofCS

Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt for this week:  This week, the prompt is “Just.” Take whichever definition of the word you’d like to and run with it.


I was

just so frustrated, that I

just didn’t think I wanted to do anything with the word

just in any of its forms. Since I am in the middle of a situation that is anything but

just, I thought I’d

just rant on with a bunch of things that I could

just do (or not do), since not one of them totally stuck when I tried to find a starting point. So here goes!


Just do it! always depends on the it.

Just forget it. Where I was most of today. Although not entirely. Instead I

Just put one foot in front of the other, even though I wanted to

Just go to sleep. But I

Just kept trying to focus, to

Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I

Just want to get enough done, so I can

Just go to bed, and start over tomorrow. As long as no one tells me to

Just look on the bright side, because it’s

Just too hard to do that today.

Maybe tomorrow.



Posted by on April 20, 2014 in Writing




a-zchallengeI’ve been thinking about the letter Q for a while, and since quilting would seem to be the obvious choice for me, I wanted to do something else. I had a few ideas I was toying with. But then Friday came along and changed everything.

When I wrote this post, it was technically Saturday, but I hadn’t gone to bed yet for Friday. I decided to start this post anyway, since I didn’t want to spend much time at the computer today.. In fact, I decided not to spend much time anywhere near the computer or my apartment or my work. I usually work most of the weekend, but not today. I quit!

I am not going to go into the details, but suffice it to say that yesterday was not one of the better days I’ve had. And while there is a lot to do to make things right and dig out from what has happened, there is something surprising that emerged from all of Friday’s nonsense. I’ve not given myself a break lately, and so this new frustration hit me a bit harder than it might have had I been in better balance. And even if it’s just my lame attempt at explaining why I’m taking a break, so be it. It’s worth an experiment at least. So I’m going to add one more “p” to the list from Friday: PLAY!

So when I got up this morning, I gathered a few quilting patterns, cutting materials, and fabric I’ve been wanting to cut for quilting projects that are currently in limbo. I actually packed them up, along with a picnic lunch, and headed to Jessica’s coffee shop. She let me camp out at one of the tables for the day, where I set up my cutting board and went to work. She had a few projects of her own she was working on between customers. We listened to music as we worked. We talked. We drank coffee. We enjoyed a lunch break half way through. We joyfully admired a large butterfly that found its way into the open front doors of the shop. It spent several minutes with us until it found its way outside again.

No pictures in today’s post, and I’m not going to do any real reporting about today’s progress. But some of it will show up in future posts. But after today, I highly recommend quitting. Sometimes it’s the perfect solution. At least, that’s my story.


Have you ever had a time where you just canned the plans and had a play day? How long ago was it? What did you do?  Is it time for another one?


Posted by on April 19, 2014 in 60 days to 600, AtoZ Challenge, Coffee, play, Quilting


Part 2: PHOTOS AND PARKS (AtoZAprilChallenge)

a-zchallengeYesterday I wrote about observing opportunities and being more selective about what I take on.

During the time I’ve been in Taiwan, people are always curious about what I’m doing, where I’m going, what I’m seeing, and I’ve just never been really good about photography. A couple of times, I’ve made a real effort to get some photos on some of our trips (and then it takes me a while to actually post the events and load those pictures). Blogging has made it somewhat easier for me to post pictures, but I still am not good about taking them. I started browsing online for some tips and ways to practice, and I never stayed with it very long. Then it dawned on me! I didn’t have to.

Photography is one of the things that I made a conscious decision NOT to pursue. It’s not that I couldn’t do it, but obviously, my desire to do it is not very strong. Besides, my husband studied photography in college, AND he’s willing to take pictures for me, so while it would be great to be able to take photos that I am happy with, I am restricting my photography to rare cases where I just want to attempt a few quick pictures. In general, most of the pictures I use in my blog are taken by Dave. As it is with the park photos below.

The post NEIGHBORHOODS had this picture of the gazebo near our apartment. If you look at the right of this picture you see the tall pine tree, which  is at the edge of a little neighborhood park.


This is what the park looks like if you look directly at it. If we were to follow behind the woman with the stroller, we would move through to the other side of the block, where there is a road with a 24 hour store and a grocery store across the street from the park. One of the great things about have Dave take the photos instead of me is that he noticed that the trees are not in full bloom and that it’s easier to look through the park. Which led him to think about taking a few photos from a higher perspective. Our apartment building faces this same direction, and is located slightly to the right of where this photo was taken.


I love this perspective. The diagonal walkway on the left half of this picture is where the lady with the stroller was (to give you an idea of direction).


I think this last one is my favorite. I like the “laciness” of the tree branches and all the people with the various colors of clothing. Yeah, I’m happy to let Dave to the photography. I enjoy looking!


Stay tuned for more glimpses into our neighborhood. We have a few day trips to catch up on as well.


Posted by on April 18, 2014 in AtoZ Challenge, Taiwan


Part 1: PUPPY AND PUZZLES (AtoZAprilChallenge)

a-zchallengeDuring this challenge, I’ve noticed that some letters are easier to deal with than others, and then some just offer so many possibilities, it’s hard to know where to begin. Today, I chose a group of four words and played around with their juxtaposition. But then I realized that things were getting too carried away and that I would just simply things into two posts–Part 1 and Part 2 (more “p” words). So here is Part 1.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo start with, I am speaking of a specific puppy–a dog actually. Puppy is a rescue dog, a Chihuahua that has had a pretty rough life. In the picture at the left, I am holding her at Vanilla Garden, the restaurant where she was staying after her rescue. She normally was outside on the porch during the day, and then carried upstairs to the floor above the restaurant where she slept at night.

When I first started visiting her there, I often would visit with a student who wanted to practice speaking English. One day, one of the students told me the dog’s name was xiāngcháng, which means sausage. I started interacting more and more with Sausage over the next few weeks and months. In the meantime, my husband had moved to Taiwan. (I had been here two years without him. Another story.)

And winter was approaching. Now it doesn’t get down to freezing in Taiwan, but it can be pretty cold outside on a porch during the day, or up in the second floor of a building with no central heat, so I started crocheting a little blanket for Sausage. You can see Sausage trying it out when she first got her afghan.


As you can see in the picture above, one of her problems is that she has a broken leg that never healed properly.

One day in late November or early December of 2011, another student was approached by the owner of the restaurant while we were there for dinner. It turns out she wanted to know if I would be interested in adopting Sausage. I reluctantly declined, for several reasons.

  1. I wasn’t sure how long we were going to stay in Taiwan.
  2. We had a landlord who probably wouldn’t be too excited about us having a dog.
  3. I’m a cat person at heart.

But I still thought about it when we visited. And then I found out that the reason we had been approached is that Sausage didn’t come and sit on anyone else’s lap. And David started to suggest that maybe we should consider it, that the dog seemed to be good for me. And so I contacted the landlord, who wasn’t that hard to convince when we assured him that this was a small dog, who was several years old (at least 6 at the time) and that we would make sure that there were no messes.

So a funny part of the story is that when we actually went to the restaurant to see about taking Sausage for a couple days to see how she adjusted, they told the student who was with me that her name was xiāngcǎo, which means vanilla. VANILLA?! I had been calling her Sausage for weeks. So here’s a brief little bit of information about Chinese. Sometimes words are very close in sound, so that two students who both know the language here the dog’s name and one hears this:

xiāngcháng = sausage

and the other hears this:

xiāngcǎo = vanilla

Even if you can’t read Chinese, it’s clear that the first syllables in both cases are the same, and the second syllables are different but if someone is speaking quickly, you might get the two confused. Well, obviously, since it happened. In a way, it didn’t matter, since we weren’t calling her the name she had been hearing in Chinese. Now she’s bilingual.  haha

So I just started calling her Puppy.  She only eats dog food, even if she is sitting on my lap at dinner time. She might look at my food, sniff it a bit, but she will not attempt to eat it. She doesn’t play much either. We bought her a few little toys when we first got her, almost 2 1/2 years ago. But she’s never played with them. She will come and sit with me for my daily Sudoku puzzle. She’s quite good at helping with them. Even the challenging ones.

The owners of Vanilla Garden told us when we adopted her that when we go back to the US, they would take her back, but now that she’s been with us for over two years, there’s no way that’s going to happen. She’s part of our family, and Dave has looked into what we will need to do to bring her back with us. I mean, Look at that sweet face! How could we leave her behind?









And last summer, she started walking around a little bit more. And even though she won’t play with toys, she has decided that sometimes playing with her dog food isn’t half bad. She will put a piece or two on the floor or in her bed and then go on this massive treasure hunt. It is so funny to watch.


The best part of all: she ACTS like a cat. WIN!



Posted by on April 18, 2014 in AtoZ Challenge, Taiwan



a-zchallengeI obviously got a little carried away with this one. I played with so many “o” words, and in the end, I finally stopped myself and proceeded to put down a few thoughts that will be offered in three sections: Overcoming Obstacles, Ongoing Obligations, and Observing Opportunities. They are somewhat cyclical, and not totally separate from one another. But part of the process of exploring these ideas is to begin to break the cycle and give me some breathing space to move from a life full of frantic activity to one that is more deliberate and focused.


When I decided that it was absolutely time to find a way to exercise, Curves seemed the way to go. The other Options I had explored–walking and swimming–had inherent issues that made it difficult to maintain them, or–in the case of swimming–to een find a pool within reasonable traveling distance. As mentioned in my post for F: Farther to Go!, this is the first time in my life that I’ve been at an exercise program that I have maintained for this length of time. I can’t believe I’m in my sixth month. I’m not perfect, but I’m better than I’ve ever been, and I have every intention of getting better.

But it wasn’t easy. From the very first day I was scheduled to check things out at Curves, there were major obstacles. Bus schedules, times when there were no seats on the bus, trying to get to the bus in the rain, the schedule at Curves itself–Chinese New Year for example, with it’s five days off, and then the two day deep cleaning break, which I didn’t know about (because I can’t read Chinese on the text message). Then there was the unexpected dip in income, which made me question whether or not I should continue, given the obstacles. If you’re interested in knowing more about the ups and downs of this endeavor, type CURVES in the search bar at the right of the blog.

But in the end, I am doing it. My progress is not as quick as I would like, but I am still at it, and my intention is to get back to three times a week in May. Hopefully, without too many more obstacles.

The next obstacle: dealing with the clutter in my life.


I have to admit that even though the ongoing obligations can get me a little down sometimes, I am moving along more smoothly through them lately. There are still some little glitches along the way, but because of the above experience with working through obstacles with one major focus, it has become easier to apply that to other things. Although I can be good about planning, I sometimes set goals and then expect I can just figure out the steps to take me there by magic. So when it comes to the textbook project, this particular volume is going much better. It’s not without its frustrations and I’d still rather not be doing it, but I’ve got a process in place that makes it easier to keep going, day by day. It will also be made easier when I tackle the clutter obstacle mentioned above.

The problem with the ongoing obligations is that they are often the result of glittery ideas that captured my attention, and I grabbed on without thinking. As much as I’d like to “move on” in my mind, these things still have to be taken care of. So I’ve had to make a plan that really gets me moving, so I can look to the next phase of my life and really focus on what’s important, and what I really want. This is the current aspect of Farther to Go! that I’m working on–figuring out What I Really Want. Once I KNOW and am not just speculating, the path will be clear. (I pay attention in class.) Which takes us to the third category.


To me this is where the real challenge lies. To observe the opportunities that come my way without automatically grabbing. To ask how they fit in with what I want. If they don’t bring me closer to what I want my life to be, just walk away. I have discovered there are things that I want to be doing, and that in order to do them, I have to keep overcoming obstacles, move past the ongoing obligations, and make sure that I observe the opportunities and be very selective about which ones I take.

Obviously, there are more opportunities out there than I can possibly find time for. And it’s not about seeing how much I can cram into my life, but about defining what I want that life to be and observing that not all opportunities fit that vision. It’s freeing to realize that opportunities taken on without thought are just one more form of clutter. Life is too short to life it buried under obstacles and obligations of one’s own making. Time to observe and focus on eliminating rather than collecting.


Posted by on April 17, 2014 in Uncategorized



a-zchallengeI’ve lived in a number of neighborhoods in my life, and I’ve loved almost all of them. But today, I want to share what my neighborhood in Taiwan is like. This is the second apartment I’ve had since I’ve lived here. The first one less than a mile from where I am now. The first one was fine for when I was here by myself (the first two years of my time here). But a year and a half in, I had my knee replacement surgery and was anticipating my husband coming to join me six months later. The apartment wasn’t all that conducive to my recovery (as my bed was in a loft with a narrow stairway), so the time was ripe for a change. Since that time, I’ve been in the current apartment. In another post, I’ll share pictures of the apartment itself. But for today, I’m going to show you a few pictures of the neighborhood.

To begin, once you leave our complex, he head to the left and come to a roadway with a lovely gazebo.



As we come out of our apartment complex, there is a park to the right (maybe you’ll see that on Friday — P is for Park. Around the other side of the gazebo is the walkway to Jessica’s coffee shop.


And here is Jessica’s coffee shop. (J is for Joyful Jessica.)


If you turn to the left at the gazebo instead of heading to Jessica’s or the park, you will find the beginning of the business district leading to Guishan Ho Jie (Back Street) which makes this street look like a sleepy village.


In a future post, I’ll lead you down this street to Ho Jie’s business district, then on to the morning traditional market.

If you have any specific questions about my neighborhood, feel free to post them in the comment section below. I’ll see what I can do to answer them and maybe even provide some photos.


Posted by on April 16, 2014 in AtoZ Challenge, Coffee, Taiwan


Tags: ,

Miscellaneous M’s: AtoZAprilChallenge

a-zchallengeAs I was considering all the possibilities for M, there wasn’t anything that jumped out at me. So here is a miscellaneous list of the m’s that passed through, some more often than others. Some are from my happy place, some are just basic ‘m’ words that showed up, and one is a major annoyance. Let’s start with that. Our first ‘m’ is:

MOTORCYCLES: I love Taiwan, but I don’t love all the scooters and motorcycles that try to fly through the streets and (sometimes) walkways. They park and block sidewalks. They sometimes ride on the wrong side of the street if they’re just going a short distance, so that pedestrians are still surprised by them, even if one is trying to be cautious. But most of all, I hate the noise. There are a couple motorcycles owned by people in our apartment complex that are so loud, it’s enough to drive me insane. OK, I suppose that’s not a major threat. But you get the idea.


photo credit: Wikipedia

Dabajian Mountain (photo credit: Wikipedia)

MOUNTAINS: Taiwan’s mountains are beautiful. They’re kind of like layers of mountains, sometimes four abreast.  When I lived in Seattle, Washington, I could see the Cascade Mountains from the kitchen window. While the area where I was born and raised in Michigan is very, very flat, but it is so beautiful in many other ways, particularly with the Great Lakes and the varied coast line.

MY MOTHER: I almost did a whole post with this as the title, but that’s not really the kind of thing she would appreciate. And today, our ‘m’ day in the AtoZAprilChallenge, is her birthday. So I’m going to be nice and just say, “Happy Birthday, Mom!”

MASKS: I just like them, and it came to mind when I was thinking about ‘m’ words, but not strongly enough to build an entire post around them. I especially like the idea of making masks–the craft aspect of it. Not the hiding behind kind.


Image courtesy of fotographic1980 /

Image courtesy of fotographic1980 /

MUSIC: I like listening to music, but I also like making music. The piano is my instrument of choice. Even though it’s been a while since I’ve played, I did have a chance to do a little practicing last summer. (My brother and his family are providing a good home to my piano at the moment.)

MUSHROOMS: OK. I probably shouldn’t advertise this, but I really love button mushrooms. Especially if they’re fresh and sliced. I will load them up on my salad. YUM!

MORNINGS: While I have never loved mornings, I’m finding I’ve gotten a bit more optimistic about them in the last few months. Getting up in the morning gives me a running start to my day. I feel like if I get up and get going on things, that I can always take a break later if I need or want one. But it’s nice to get something done first rather than getting a late start and feeling like the day totally got away from me.

MISCELLANEOUS MONDAYS: Early this year, my daughter, Kate, started a new feature on her blog, Sincerely Kate. You can check out that feature as well as many of her other compulsive ideas brought to life.

MUSCLE: I have no idea. It’s an ‘m’ word. It qualifies. Unless it’s something subconscious about the muscle I’m starting to build from my regular trips to the gym. I’ll take that. 

MAGAZINES: I’ve read all kinds of magazines over the years, but I have to admit the only ones that really grab me anymore are craft magazines–most often quilting. Maybe that will shift once I’m back in the U.S. again, but for now, bring on the quilting possibilities.

There you have it. Ten miscellaneous ‘M’ words for your aMusement.

What miscellaneous ‘m’ words come to your mind if you brainstorm for a minute?


Posted by on April 15, 2014 in AtoZ Challenge




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