Post #31: I’m all shook up

English: Hualien_County, TW

Hualien_County, TW (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Living in Taiwan, you know that there is a possibility of earthquakes. I’ve experienced several in my 4+ years here, but usually they haven’t been too intense. I remember back to when I had first moved to Taiwan. I had been here about six weeks, and I went to bed fairly early because I was sick (I don’t get sick very often in Taiwan, but when I do, I know it). Anyway, I was in bed and I felt my bed begin to shake. In my semi-delirious state, I pulled the sheet over my head and hoped for the best. Not the recommended earthquake safety procedure, but at that moment, I was somewhat certain that sheet would protect me.

Since then, my experience of earthquakes has been relatively mild. Until tonight. About 3 hours ago, Dave and I were sitting in the kitchen at our computers. Things started shaking, the familiar low-level kind of shaking I remember. But then it got stronger, and I could hear more and more things rattling around the apartment. Something went bump in another part of the apartment. Turns out that a painting we have stored in the front closet fell forward and hit the wall, nothing serious.

But it sure was scary for a few minutes. The earthquake was centered on the western side of the island, and registered between 6.3 and 6.7 depending on which reports you follow. When you’re in the midst of it, it’s hard to decide who’s right. This map shows the county that hosted the earthquake, and I’ve included several news sites at the bottom of this post if you want more information.

I just thought it was interesting that as I’m doing a marathon blog session to finish up 31 blog posts in 31 days, an earthquake hits. It’s been an eventful day. Halloween fun in class, riding in a police car, spending nearly 3 hours at the police station, and riding out an earthquake. I hope tomorrow is a little calmer!

Halloween: Riding in a Police Car

English: Cartoon version of a Police Car

Cartoon version of a Police Car (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wrote earlier about my trip to Curves last night. On my taxi ride home, I was content, but a little tired, not really focusing on the details of the trip. I helped direct the driver the last few blocks to our apartment, because it’s not on a main street. He dropped me off at the front gate of our complex, and I came inside to tell Dave about my evening.

This morning, I went to school, dressed as a witch, with a bag of treats for my Thursday morning writing class. I was so excited about showing Audrey (my taxi driver) my witch’s hat, that I forgot to get the money out to pay her. As I was scrambling to grab my wallet from my purse, she said I could pay her when she picked us up. Great! I got out of the car and Dave and I were ready to head into the building, when he turned to me and asked, “Where’s the hat?” Damn! I left it in the taxi. It took a few attempts to reach Audrey by phone, but I did. She and Dave were then scheduled to meet out in front the next time she came with a car load of students and she would give him the hat. So I was going to give him the money to pay her, and I couldn’t find my wallet!

Almost immediately, I had a recollection of having my wallet on my lap when I was in the taxi last night. I had been watching the fare and anticipating how much money to have out, and I hadn’t put my wallet back in my purse. So last night AND this morning, I left things in taxis. That’s NOT the way one normally does things. Still, after Dave got my hat and paid Audrey, he decided to go back home while I taught my class to see the wallet was actually at home. I appreciated the gesture, but I was fairly certain that he wouldn’t find it. Unfortunately, I was right.

When I finished teaching, we went out to catch the taxi. But Audrey wasn’t there to pick us up. Her brother, Mac was. I could write a blog post (or three) about the amazing things these people have done for me during my time in Taiwan. Today was just one more example of their kindness. When we got in the taxi, I told Mac that I left my wallet in a taxi last night. I was hoping that through his taxi contacts, it might be “almost” simple to put out some feelers. I wasn’t so lucky. He said, “I think I just need to take you to the police station. If you know what time it was, they can look at videos of a street corner along the way and maybe track down the taxi you were in.”

As you might imagine, this was not the way I wanted to spend my Thursday. I had several things that I wanted to do today–the most personally pressing one was finishing this blog challenge. (After this post, I have one more to do before midnight to complete 31 posts in 31 days–YAY me!) Anyway, we had to wait for a police car to take me to the station where the video equipment was. So there I was, getting into the back seat of a police car. There’s a first for a Taiwan experience!  🙂

So I spent the next couple of hours sitting in the police station. Mac stayed and explained everything at our first stop. Then he went along in the police car to the other station and helped with interpreting. After spending over an hour with me (and away from his taxi route), he finally excused himself at 11:45 and went back to work. It would be almost two more hours before we would be done with the police report and watching surveillance videos.

A Happy Ending

We were walking back home from the police station, when Mac called and said that he found that the taxi driver had turned in the wallet at the gatehouse at MCU, the university where I work. Then it went from department to department until it got to my department. So Dave went up to school the middle of the afternoon and picked it up. The money was gone, but I have all of my documents. I’m so relieved because those documents (my ID card and my insurance card) would have taken time, money, and a lot of annoyance to replace. So I’m grateful, and I’ve decided to pay more attention to taxi numbers when I ride, so that I can catch these things quicker. Besides, if I pay attention to the numbers, it will also focus me on keeping track of my stuff, so I don’t NEED to know those numbers.

With all the observations about thinking differently and noticing things about how I’m changing in that regard, this was a good reminder about how System 1 (the unconscious part of our brain) has to filter through all the incoming data. Of all the pieces of information that would have helped track things down today, I had very little I could actually give to the police. Luckily, I remembered where our last major turn was so that they could locate the videos for that location, but the make of the taxi, a number, even the time I was traveling through there–all of these things were lost in the haze of my just zoning out on my way home last night. It wasn’t that I didn’t remember. I just never noticed,

So I lost a big part of my day, but in the end, I have my wallet back, and I learned something more about my brain and about the details I should focus on while traveling in a taxi. And I got to ride in a police car on Halloween. Kudos to Mac and to the great officers at the police station!

Good News: Perseverance Does Pay Off

Physical Fitness

(Photo credit: Justin Liew)

Last week, I had to postpone a trip to check out Curves (fitness center for women) because I fell and hurt my knee, the same one that had received a total knee replacement in January 2011. Since I had declared Perseverance for my seasonal keyword, I wrote last week about how it was already being tested.

Well, I’m happy to report that just one week later, I made it to Curves. The doctor had told me I could go as soon as I felt comfortable enough. And as long as I don’t push too much with that leg for a while, it should be fine. So tonight, Karen and I went so I could check it out, and it was great! The staff was friendly and helpful. The owner met with me (as he speaks English) and made a special arrangement so I can try it for two months to make sure that it works out for me before making a longer commitment. It’s my intention to continue. I have made lots of provisions to make it happen and not leave it to chance.

For example, I’ve already told my taxi driver that on Mondays and Wednesdays when she picks me up from school, I’ll be going downtown to exercise. She knows that’s where I’m going, so if I change the plan she’ll know. On those evenings, I’ll take the bus home. On Friday, I’ll take the bus both ways, but I’ll go for their 11:30 opening time. As a reward for going all three days, Friday is my day to visit downtown Taoyuan coffee shops to have a latte and explore new locations to have some paperwork sessions. If I miss one, I just go to the next one and keep it going.

Tonight, I was able to manage all but two of the machines. A third one is somewhat troublesome at the moment (only because I can’t get in and out of it quickly enough to keep up), so we’ve eliminated those three stations for now. But the rest of it is doable, and I went through them all twice. I like my trainer, Kimmie, and even though she thinks her English is poor, I think we are going to be just fine together. After the cool down stretches, Karen and I headed out for vegetarian dinner, and I took a taxi home. I am so glad Karen was there to help me communicate through the process of getting everything set up and to give Kimmie a sense of confidence about working with me. She actually told Karen that I seem easy to work with. I guess she’ll get to know me better.  😉

My two-month trial actually starts on Monday, rather than tomorrow (Friday), to give my knee just a couple more days to heal from last week’s fall. I have to say though, even for the first night, not pushing all the way, I felt good for having done it. And maybe it’s just the regular course of healing, but I definitely felt better this morning. I was able to do more walking without the cane, and I have less pain. I’m looking forward to Monday, and doing it all again.

Grandma/Grandson Halloween Photos

Halloween in Taiwan!


(Photo credit: cafeconlecheporfavor)

Halloween arrives 12 hours earlier on my side of the world. So as my grandson was going to bed on the eve of Halloween, I was headed to my 8:10 class, treats in hand. My costume was simple. The big flowing gown I usually wear for this costume is back in the U.S. But I made do as a rather well-dressed witch headed out for a social obligation, with just a touch of black lace to go with the ensemble.

I had told my students that I’d be dressing up, and one of my students also came in costume, and I think she outdid me,as you can see in the photo. I heard from another student that Dante got up at 5 this morning to start doing the make-up for this amazing costume. And Dante told me that she used pieces of artificial nails to look like teeth. It was almost too realistic, if you know what I mean.

But as you can see in the photo below, we had lots of fun. And we still got lots of work done in class, talking about essay structure and how to make our introductory paragraphs more effective and interesting. It wasn’t ALL fun and games!

captain hook's grandma

Halloween in Michigan!

This is Logan’s (my grandson’s) third Halloween. He went from a cow on his first Halloween to a cowboy for his second. Now that he’s 2 1/2, he was able (thankfully) to choose his own costume, and he chose Captain Hook! I don’t know if it’s because his father is a volunteer fire fighter, but my sister, Laurie, got Logan a fire department toy set as a gift. Logan likes playing with the dispatch gizmo that came with it. Apparently, Logan and “Captain Hook” have been having fairly regular exchanges over this dispatch toy. Here is a little snipped from a Facebook chat between me and my daughter, in which it is clear that Logan has Captain Hook on the brain.

Kate:  “Three minutes! Okay, goodbye” and after he hangs it up it starts again.

Me:      LOL  three minutes to what?  😉

Kate:  “Hi Captain Hook, How are you? Oh. Three minutes. Okay, goodbye”

Kate:    I have no idea, but that’s the general conversation.

Me:      That’s hysterical!

Kate:    They always end with “Okay, goodbye”

We will never know what was going through Logan’s mind, but here he is, as his current alter ego, Captain Hook!

captain hook

And for those of you who missed it, this post of Halloween music assembled by Kate and me is offered for your viewing and listening pleasure!.

Happy Halloween, everyone!  🙂

Music for All Hallow’s Eve (A Mother/Daughter Collaboration)

Three jack-o'-lanterns illuminated from within...

I was considering sitting this one out. I was kind of stymied since I don’t really do much with Halloween music and movies. I did think about working with the idea of masks, and found a number of songs about Masquerades. One of those, the one from Phantom of the Opera, is in this list, but it’s the only masquerade song that made the cut.

Luckily, I ended up chatting with my daughter last night. Compared to me (and many others), she is the expert regarding all things Halloween. So for the heck of it, I asked her what songs came to mind for Halloween. She came up with a couple of ideas right away. Then I told her the one I had and an idea I had for another, but that I couldn’t remember where it was from. When I described it to her, she remembered right away. So that one got included. Before long, she not only talked me through some selections, but she helped me find the videos. Not bad for two people chatting from halfway around the world. Suddenly, this project was getting to be fun. The creative juices were flowing.

By the way, if you’d like to see what she’s up to in her pen pal-related blog, you can find her at Sincerely Kate.

The Corpse Bride – Remains of the Day

Who knew that such things existed? This whole Halloween movie/music thing is quite enlightening. I’m not sold yet on watching this one, but maybe at some point.

Nightmare Before Christmas – This is Halloween

This was Kate’s first suggestion. No hesitation. Apparently, this was a common video at our place when she was growing up, but I honestly don’t remember it. Must not have grabbed me. It obviously appealed to her.

Sweeney Todd – Poor Thing

It’s probably fair to tell you she’s crazy about musicals. So the combination of Halloween and musicals, how could I miss?

Hocus Pocus: I Put a Spell on You

This was Kate’s second offering, immediately following on the heels of This is Halloween (see above). I told you she is an expert in all things Halloween.

Phantom of the Opera – Masquerade

I love everything about this musical, and I knew from the beginning that I would include this song. And it’s one I already knew, and I had seen the production–both live (in Toronto) and in the movie!  🙂

Labyrinth – As the World Falls Down

This is the one that I could remember the images, but couldn’t recall the movie. Kate to the rescue!

This project turned out to be a lot of fun. Working with Kate made it especially enjoyable. It also reminded me of  listening to Phantom of the Opera music with her. We also watched the Labyrinth movie together many times. Good times! Like the ones I hope you have with this collection of Halloween-themed music.

Stories from the Past (The Quilting Version)

The Upcoming Quilt-Along

Yesterday, I posted a picture of the quilt that is being featured in the quilt-along I joined. Technically, it has already started, but we are still in the preparatory stages. So far, I’ve gathered most of the materials, and I’ve selected and prepared the fabrics that I will use.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAccording to the posted schedule, I will get instructions tomorrow to make fabric sets for the blocks, and Thursday, the cutting begins. By the weekend, I can be sewing blocks! If I stay with the schedule, the entire quilt will be finished by Christmas; however, I will be happy just to have the top pieced. I can do the actual quilting at a more leisurely pace over my winter break.

My color scheme is more complex than the one recommended for beginners. Luckily, I’ve had a bit of quilting experience, so I’m willing to try a color scheme that deviates quite a bit from the recommended one. I am using fabrics in greens, pinks, blues, and purples. Many of them are fabrics I’ve collected over the past several years. I’m combining these fabrics with the quilt-along pattern so that I can finally make good on a quilt idea that’s been on the back burner for a while–one for my daughter, Kate.

A Recap

For those of you who don’t know, my daughter, Kate is the youngest of my four children, and she is the mother of Mr. Logan, the “not so little” guy you see at the right with his quilt. When I gave Logan his quilt in the summer of 2012 (when he was 18 months old), Kate asked me when she would be getting hers. Funny story!

1278316_10201658315880667_1692301913_nSeveral years ago, Kate showed some interest in having me make her a quilt. She knew the colors she wanted–pinks, greens, blues, and purples–and I started collecting fabrics in fat quarters and half yards. Occasionally, I would see a possible pattern and show Kate. But we never truly set on a definite pattern. Graduate school came along, and quilting went by the wayside, until I found out that Kate was pregnant with Logan. It took me until he was 18 months old to get the baby quilt done, but as seen in the picture at the top right, he did get it. As I was working on Logan’s quilt, I found myself wondering whether Kate was still interested in having me make her a quilt, and if her choice of colors would be the same. So when she asked me when she was getting hers, the discussion began.

She still wanted me to use the colors and fabrics that I had started collecting. The pattern didn’t matter except, now that she had seen Logan’s quilt, I knew she wanted something that included more specific blocks, something less “random” than the design I used for Logan’s quilt. Something with structure, but not too traditional. And something that, when I got to it, I would enjoy making. I’d been thinking about doing something with log cabin blocks when the conversation of the quilt came up in a chat back in February, as seen here:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAME: ok, here’s another. If I did a log cabin pattern, I would incorporate purple, green, and blue as well, unless you want just pinks.

K: If you want to roll with that, you can. And if you do, you should do each block a separate color.

ME: ok 🙂

K: or whatever you want 😛

ME: When I start playing with some blocks, I’ll send you pictures and you can tell me which you like best.  It will be a while, but I like to at least think about quilting, and yours is the next big project I want to do

K: Do an all blue one, and one that includes all four colors.

ME: ok 🙂 that will be fun:

K: keyword: fun. don’t make it a job! if it’s a present for my 30th birthday so be it.

ME: 30th birthday present! Crap! I only have 4 years! LOL

It will be a while, but I like to at least think about quilting

When I wrote this line in the chat, I thought it might be a couple years before I could even think about getting to this quilt, so I am thrilled that the quilt-along has provided a structured way for me to pursue this project at this point in time. One of the things I’ve really come to grips with lately is that there is no such thing as making time. And the things I have to do will always take up whatever time I have. I can let the obligtaions and things I believe I have to do expand to fill my hours. Or I can use the skills and tricks I’ve been learning in the past few months, and intentionally take time for me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I had that conversation with my daughter 9 months ago, I was still thinking about log cabin blocks, looking at the fabrics in my stash, and dreaming about some distant quilting time. Now, instead of just hoping, everything is in place. I have a plan with a schedule, a support group that cares whether or not I quilt.

I won’t be giving up my quilting time just because I could be doing other work. I will continue to take time for me, time that refreshes me for the other tasks that need to be done. Taking care of me is something that is necessary, not a luxury that can be relegated to meager scraps.

The closing words on that post of February 5 were: “Thanks, Kate! And maybe you won’t have to wait until your 30th birthday for the quilt. But no promises. The keyword is fun!” What a joy it is to be able to know that Kate will get her quilt well before her 30th birthday, and that I will be immersed in a project I love.

566 days to 60!

From Blog Challenge to Quilt-Along

The Blog Challenge

As I approach the end of October, I will be finishing up the 31-day blog challenge sponsored by Lesa Townsend at  A final report will be forthcoming when the month officially ends, but what you’re reading now is my 25th post for the month. One of the most important things about this challenge for me is that it helped me focus my intention of taking time for myself. In the past, I would have told myself that I have too many obligations, too many reasons why this challenge is an extravagance of time that I can’t afford. And yet, I did it. Regardless of the final count, I am thrilled with the results. And I’ve learned that nothing needs to keep me away from blogging, as long as I’m clear that it’s what I want to be doing.

An interesting element is that signing up for the blog challenge was a fluke. I saw an invitation in an email, and I thought, “Why not!” And so when I had the opportunity to join a quilt-along, I had a similar response. Sure, it’s the same old problem. Where will I find the time? But if I don’t try, I’ll never know. And I intend to quilt in the next couple of months, so why not have some support along the way. Let’s lay the groundwork with two quilting stories that converge in this quilt-along.

My Role Model for Fabric Play

(Photo Credit: StitchedInColor)

(Photo Credit: StitchedInColor)

Not too long ago, I wrote about my fabric play role model. (Click on the heading above the quilt to see that post.) Rachel had used a photo she had taken to match up fabric with those colors and created a palate for the quilt you see at the left. I was enchanted by the idea of using photos to create such creative palates for quilts. In fact, I love seeing what comes up in Rachel’s blog. I often save some of her ideas so I can find them later. Looking at her creative work makes me happy and ready to tackle quilting again.

I had selected a project, chosen fabric, and set a quilting date when Rachel put out feelers for a quilt-along. That idea would have intrigued me on its own, but two things sweetened the deal. First, the timing was good. The real work would take place in November and December after the blogging challenge was over. Second–and more important for me, the pattern Rachel chose for the quilt along is the very one I fell in love with when she did the fabric play–the quilt shown above. How could I say no? I couldn’t. To be honest, I didn’t try very hard.

BONUS: Once she posted the actual schedule, it turned out that the biggest push for sewing comes during the week of mid-term exams. I have to grade exams, but I have no classes to teach that week. I can focus on my other to-dos, in order to smuggle a day or two for quilting.

Like the blogging challenge, I look forward to what the quilt-along will bring in terms of quilting progress and the things I learn about myself. I suspect that this blog will feature a few updates on quilting projects in the next couple of months.

Related articles

Three of My Favorite Things (Hu-Kou Old Street, Part II)

Taiwan 008In my last post, I talked about the first half of our day trip to Hu-Kou Old Street in Hsinchu County. Now, it’s time to cover the amazing set of circumstances that were part of the magical aspect of the day. Our coffee destination was a lovely shop, Vanilla Garden. It was charming, and I was excited to have a cup of coffee, one of my simple pleasures of life. Our day had been so lovely already, and the anticipation of coffee was inching the day to near perfection. So imagine my surprise to discover, as I peered in the window as we approached, that there was a piano on the left wall just inside the shop.

But that’s not all! To the right, on the counter were stacks of fabric and quilts in various colors and patterns. Quilts were displayed on the wall behind the counter. The couple who owned this quilting and coffee/restaurant business had a daughter who studied piano. Her piano books were stacked on the piano, a cozy place for exploring music. Overall, the shop was magical, with coffee, a piano, and quilts all in one place. I just took it all in.

Taiwan 036It didn’t take long to get an invitation to play the piano. It had been about four years since I had played the piano on any kind of regular basis, so I was a little rusty. And excited. And there was an audience. My mind went blank. I couldn’t quite reach back to the memories of the songs that used to be my go-to’s. I tried a couple, but I ended up making mistakes, forgetting what was next, and just generally having a difficult time. I wasn’t comfortable trying to sight-read any of the daughter’s music either. Then I thought to try the one piece I had composed a few years prior. It took a minute, but then I had it. I was able to settle in and do a respectable job. And it felt good to play again.

After I finished the song, we wandered very slowly past the quilts and past the kitchen area toward the left where the seating area was. More quilts were displayed on the walls here as well. Imagine sitting down to have coffee with quilts hanging on the walls around you. OK, maybe that doesn’t excite everyone, but I was sure one happy camper. I was in awe of the amazing colors and details. I marveled at the craftsmanship while waiting for our drinks–coffee for me; tea for Mei-Hung.

Taiwan 039Taiwan 043

Taiwan 040

Taiwan 045When our drinks were brought to the table, we were also treated to free mango cake as a “thank you” for my music! Delicious!

Knowing that I would be having knee surgery the next year during winter break, I did a little fantasizing about how cool it would if I could come and hang out in this Hakka village, specifically in this shop and live with quilts, music, and coffee for a week or two. As I get ready to do some quilting next week, this post was a good reminder to take time for these things that bring me joy and well-being. More importantly, this post has made me realize that I can eventually turn my Vanilla Garden fantasy into reality. It may not be in a shop on Hu-Kou Old Street, but I certainly bring those three things (and more) together in one place.

All in all, an amazing day, which I have thought of many times in the last few years. I smile every time I see these pictures, and I thought it was time to share them and my memories of that day.

The link below is another blog post that has more pictures of the shop.

Hu-Kou Old Street; Hsinchu County, Taiwan (Part I)

Taiwan 006

Day Trip 2010

During my first year in Taiwan, during the academic year 2009-10, I spent part of the winter break in Hsinchu, dog sitting for one of my friends. On one of those days, a mutual friend, Mei-Hung, came and took me for a day trip. This was the first of several day trips I would have with Mei-Hung while in Taiwan, and right from the beginning, I learned that a day trip with her is to be treasured. She starts out with a loose plan, but she’s always open to opportunities that present themselves. On this first trip, she took me to the historical Hu-Kou Street in the mountainous area near Hsinchu. What an amazing place, full of culture and things to see. Best of all, it wasn’t crowded, so we could really just wander around and enjoy the sights.

Taiwan 005

On both sides of Hu-Kou Old Street (300 meters long), vendors of all kinds offered merchandise and foods of all kinds. According to information found here, Old Street first started in 1893 when a north-south railway station was established. However, the economic development didn’t last long because the station was relocated in 1929. In recent years, efforts were made to restore Old Street and make it a center of economic growth and culture again. You can go to for more information.

One interesting building located on Old Street is the Catholic Church established in 1965 and featuring Italian architecture. After being shut down in 1993, “Old Hukou Catholic Church Museum”  was reopened in 2001 as a center for local arts and literature. Here, you can see us in the interior of the museum. I love the traditional hakka fabric that is draped from the beams. This fabric is also made in bright blues, greens, pinks, and purples. I know that before I leave Taiwan, I will make some kind of quilt with these fabrics or bring some back with me. They always attract my attention, regardless of the color.

Taiwan 027

2_D300890-Tasty, You have to try once, Hakka f...

(Photo credit: 棟樑‧Harry‧黃基峰‧Taiwan)

An interesting cultural phenomenon, especially among young people in Taiwan, is to take photos of their meals before they eat. This is one case where it would have been great to have photographed lunch. Mei-Hung ordered a variety of traditional hakka dishes, which I remember thoroughly enjoying. Without any pictures of my own, I offer this one I located on the internet.

After lunch, there were more shops to visit, and we headed out for afternoon coffee. This tea shop below was tempting, but my host had other plans–a trip to a particular coffee shop that would lead to a magical afternoon involving three of my favorite things.

Taiwan 010

NEXT:  Three of My Favorite Things (Hu-Kou Old Street, Part II)

Musical Animals (Musical Themes) and Unintended Consequences


I’m back with another group of songs based on a theme. This time the theme is animals, selected by Willow. You can check out her blog here. Others who are participating in this thematic scheme include Johnny, Bear, and Eva. Check out their selections about animals and their other themes.

There are many mentions of animals of all kinds in music, and it took me a while to think of how I wanted to approach this theme. After a little thinking and exploration, I decided to go for a variety of critters. So I have two mammals as well as one bird, one amphibian, one reptile, and one fish (although the fish might be pushing it). I even have insects, a whole swarm of them.

As I was putting the final post together, I noticed that the majority of the songs had such high energy. Not all animal songs have such high energy; many of them are more mellow, much like Wildfire below, but I gravitated toward high energy. Also, I’ve had some very interesting insights while working on this post, which I’ve written about after the links to the songs. I hope you have as much fun listening to these selections as I had putting them together.

I’ll start with the mammals

Uganda Kob (male) in the Queen Elisabeth Natio...

Uganda Kob (male) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Lion Sleeps Tonight (The Tokens)

Wildfire  (Michael Martin Murphy)

The Insects

DirkvdM orange insect 2

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Flight of the Bumblebee

A Bird

Bird - Duck - Mallard

Mallard Duck (Photo credit: blmiers2)

Mocking bird (Carly Simon, James Taylor)

An Amphibian

Description: Golden Toad (Bufo periglenes) †. ...

Golden Toad (Bufo periglenes) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Joy to the World (Three Dog Night)

A Reptile

English: White-headed dwarf gecko in Dar es Sa...

White-headed dwarf gecko, Tanzania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Crocodile Rock (Elton John)

A Fish

A Giant grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) take...

A Giant grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Barracuda (Heart)

The fish also get an honorable mention above in Joy to the World above:  “Joy to the fishies in the deep blue sea.”


When I started this blog, I never thought I’d be posting about music. These thematic challenges intrigued me, and I started participating, not realizing that there was something more basic going on. This activity was calling to me at a deeper level. With this second of my musical posts, I think I understand this tug a little better.

For many years, the piano was a major part of my life and my career. Now, between graduate school and my time here in Taiwan, I have been away from the piano for nearly ten years. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve sat down at a piano since coming to Taiwan. Two of those times were last summer when I spent time at the home of my brother’s family. They have my piano there for my nephew to use, so it will be there for me someday when I return. I was rusty sitting down to play, but even in those two sessions, I could tell that it would come back with a little work.

I’ve been aware of missing music in my life. I’ve tried a few things, like online radio, reminding myself to turn on music, finding a few songs I like to sing along with, but somehow it doesn’t fill the void. There are moments when it feels like I’m almost there, but it doesn’t last. Maybe it was that I wasn’t really engaged with the music the way I have been in the past. But this activity of finding songs and building a narrative for them around an assigned theme is different. It engages me on many levels, and the deadline keeps me from putting it off.  If I put it on the back burner, I lose out on the opportunity. Until I can spend regular time at the piano again, exploring music in this way and posting the results is helping me reconnect with music, to be surrounded by it again, in a new and powerful way.