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.

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!