Wildlife Wednesday: More Taiwanese Wildlife

For last month’s Wildlife Wednesday, I posted the last of my wildlife photos from Taiwan. When I did, I also asked my friends and former students to consider sending me some of their photos of Taiwan’s wildlife, and Fu-Ting, a student in my Advanced English course last year, came through for me. So today, I have some photos of her sister, Ying-Ting (English name, Linda) and a few photos of wildlife they observed in Miaoli, which is a city not too far from Taoyuan, where I lived while in Taiwan.

There are four creatures here, and I’ve arranged them in order of creep factor. So we’ll start out with two creatures that are pretty safe, and I’ll offer warnings before we head into places some of you may not want to go.

I don’t know official names for the creatures here (other than Fu-Ting’s sister), but our first one is a cute little amphibian they snapped in the water.

 Futing 1

Next up, we have a praying mantis or two. Though in this first picture, you have to look for it. Good camouflage. HINT: A praying mantis can change from green to brown, depending on its surroundings.

futing 5

Here’s Cindy with a lovely green specimen.  🙂 To be honest, I don’t know if it’s the same one as above or not. Since the praying mantis can change color, it’s possible these are two photos of the same praying mantis. I could ask Fu-Ting if you really want to know.  😉

Futing 6

If you’re not a spider person, you might want to stop here. But it’s hard not be in awe of this little guy. Not much to look at in terms of flash, but what lovely structure and you’ve got to love those legs.

Futing 4

Our last critter might be considered by some to be the creepiest of the bunch. But notice, Linda thinks it’s pretty cool!  🙂 So if you’re squeamish about crabs, you need to stop now. Especially, if you get creeped out about someone holding one. But hey, it’s a small one! 🙂


Futing 3

And now for a close-up of this little guy!  🙂

Futing 2

I hope you enjoyed a few more specimens from Taiwan’s wildlife. I’d like to thank Fu-Ting (who I suspect stays behind the camera instead of getting up close and personal with these things); her sister, Ying-Ting, for showing us such a great variety of wildlife; and Tina at My Gardener Says for hosting Wildlife Wednesday.


The Pause That Refreshes: SoCS

It’s time for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, which means I’m also going to get a post in for Just Jot it January. What I like most about this happy coincidence is that I like getting a two for one in a post, AND SoCS posts usually end up being something I never would have written otherwise. So it’s a great surprise. If you’ve never tried it before, you should check it out. It can be really fun! So here is today’s prompt from Linda.

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “pause/paws.”  Use one, use both, use ’em any way you’d like. Have fun!

When I saw this prompt, I couldn’t help think of the Coca-Cola commercial with the slogan “The Pause That Refreshes.” (OK, so I date myself.)

Refreshing or not, it’s time for a pause. Following the holidays, and all those reindeer paws and Santa Claus and shopping and festivities, a break is what most of us need. There is something to be said for that week between the holidays when people comment about not knowing what day it is because schedules as we typically know them during the rest of the year simply don’t exist. Many of us can just move through those days and catch our breath. The pause might actually be refreshing if it weren’t for all the hoopla leading up to the holidays, along with the reality of heading back to reality as soon as we recover from our New Year’s revelry (if we partake in such revelry and IF we’ve recovered by the time said reality sets in).

Still, the pause is something we look forward to, often hoping in vain that we will be more organized, less stressed, and full of contentment and good tidings. For many, the pause itself is an illusion, as we trade the crazy schedules and expectations of the holidays for the crazy schedules and expectations of the day-to-day routines we manage through the rest of the year.

One of the great things about Taiwan is that I was able to step out of the holiday tradition as I experienced it all my life. I experienced a different kind of pause because of the cultural differences. Although Christmas will be a holiday of sorts in 2016 in Taiwan, it wasn’t during the six years I was there. I have actually taught classes on Christmas Day, and Christmas Eve, and the days leading up to New Year’s (although that day was a holiday for different reasons). It isn’t until exams are finished and graded, and final grades submitted, that the holiday pause happened.


The semesters in Taiwan are 18 weeks long, and while classes start a week or two later than they do here in the States, they don’t finish until the first or second week of January. Sometimes exams can sneak into the third week. THEN we have our semester break, with a three to four week break before the second semester starts following Chinese New Year. 2015 issued in the Year of the Goat.

In some ways, the preparations for festivities surrounding Chinese New Year are the same as the Christmas season for those who celebrate it. People plan their meals, clean their houses, pick up gifts. But in other ways, there are major differences. Where you celebrate each day of the Chinese New Year is proscribed, depending on how close you follow the ancient traditions. And while many people look forward to Chinese New Year’s Eve dinners based on the male’s family, and the reunion luncheons and dinners the following day based on the female’s family, it’s the same level of stress and activity that we experience on this side of the world.

I was fortunate to be invited to various Chinese New Year’s celebrations of various kinds, and I found that the sense of pause and catching one’s breath wasn’t really there. On the other hand, for someone like me, who only accepts a few invitations and picks up gifts for the hosts of the events I attend, the season is one where I can at least catch up on projects I’m behind on, even if it’s not a true pause. But occasionally, I was able to steal away hours and sometimes a few days to truly pause and recharge my batteries. It was during those semester breaks in Taiwan where most of my quilting time happened. I later learned to sneak it in other places, but CNY worked for me. I suspect though that it was largely due to the fact that it wasn’t MY holiday.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeing in Taiwan resulted in a huge shift in the way I approach Christmas. During my six years there, I sent greetings to family and friends, but aside from grandchildren, I didn’t do gifts. I invited students over to the house for a meal. I let them put up the tree, and we exchanged small gifts and ornaments, and they asked questions about the way Christmas was celebrated in America. But aside from that, it was business as usual, and we worked these gatherings around classes.

My first Christmas back in the States has been more of a pause than it would have been before my time in Taiwan, but as I reinvent myself in 2016, I have a feeling that Christmas will take on a new look as well, a space in time where I can truly pause and recharge my batteries and live in the moment of the season without getting wrapped up in the unnecessary trimmings.


This post is part of SoCS and JusJoJan. Join us. You can check out the rules and the other participants for either or both of these events Linda’s blog.

58 days to 60: If We Were Having Coffee with the Japanese Students

58If we were having coffee, I would tell you:

Today marks 58 days to 60. And since the Japanese students left last week, I thought I’d feature them in this week’s IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE.

There is so much I could say about my time with the students from Japan. Teaching them was a special treat, and while I enjoy this program every time I do it, this year’s group especially touched my heart. I’d tell you that even though, I’m grateful to be able to catch up on rest and simple tasks like thinking, I really miss them already.

I’d tell you that in addition to the 14 hours of instruction that each of the two groups of Japanese students received from me, I had designed an extra activity for them before they even arrived in Taiwan. The idea was that I would take each group of ten students to the Tuesday night writing group at the coffee shop that hosts us. Ten students each night with a few of our regulars, and it would make for a nice group.

The plan:  Week 1 – Group B; Week 2 – Group B; Week 3 (just the regulars again)

The reality:  Week 1

Week 1-1Yeah, you might say my estimate was a bit conservative. What happened is that some of the students in Group B wanted to have their friends from Group A with them. I knew we could pull it off just barely, but then their English speaking TA’s ALL decided to come along. As you can see, the results were rather overwhelming for the space.

week 1-3I’d tell you that we survived it, and much fun was had by all. It took a long time to get drinks ordered and even more to take dumpling and noodle orders for the place two doors down that would deliver the food to us in the meeting room.

I’d also tell you that I knew with that many people (we had a total of over 30), we couldn’t actually do any writing activities. So I announced that the English TA’s could have dinner with us, but then they would have to leave except for the TA’s who were already assisting me. I told the departing students they could join the group in three weeks when the Japanese students were back home, but that the time was for them right now.

Whew! After dinner, eight people left. It may not seem like much, but it opened up just enough space at the tables that we could have some actual writing activities. By the end of the evening, we had agreed that now that we had the bugs out, maybe we’d do it again for week 2 with both groups. No point bringing Group A alone, when Group B didn’t want to come without their friends. Tomorrow, we’ll move on to week 2. Stay tuned.  🙂

58 days to 60!



60 days to 60! (And a Poll!)

Photo credit: balloonpower.com.au/

Photo credit: balloonpower.com.au/

Today is important for several reasons. First, after 540 days of counting, I am now 60 days away from my 60th birthday. I am making plans for a rather unusual celebration that coincides with a chance to say good-bye to friends, colleagues, and students. You will learn more about the plans as they progress, but I will tell you this: I’m working on a bilingual invitation.  🙂

I’m not going to be fanatical about this (famous last words), but my goal is to post something every day for these last 60 days, leading up to the big festivities. I will revisit some types of posts that I’ve done before, as well as a few unusual things. And there are a few fun announcements I plan to make.

My first post is going to be related to the second reason this is a special day. After three weeks of classes and other activities, the students from Tottori University in Japan boarded their plane back home. Even though the teaching load during those three weeks is rather exhausting, I miss them already. But having them on top of my regular teaching load is the reason I’ve been gone for a while.

One of the interesting things that happens during those three weeks, is that our classes are photographed more than a first grandchild. It would be no exaggeration to say that in the last three weeks, there are at least 100 new photographs of me. Sometimes, they’re posed with various combinations of students for various group photos, but there are many candid shots taken of me in various stages of “teaching.” As often happens with candid photos, some are decent, but many of them are kind of duds–as you will see over the next few days.

So in honor of the completion of the Japanese program, today’s post is going to be one of the photos that was taken last week. This was one of those candid shots taken of me teaching. Now I KNOW that everything thinks that learning about compare and contrast essays is one of the most exciting topics known to humanity, but I was rather impressed with this photo sent directly to me by my TA, with a comment on how dramatic I look. My response to her is what I am now going to turn into a poll for all of my readers. I’ve never done a poll before, but I thought it would be a good thing to start off these 60 days.

Here’s how it works. I’ll post the picture. Underneath is the poll where you get to guess what I’m doing in that picture. You have three options, but feel free to add others in the comments below. Your rationale for your choice is also welcome.

casting spells

Thanks for playing along.  Answer revealed tomorrow!


60 days to 60!


It’s All Relative: SofCS

socs-badgeJust Fooling Around with Bee – a month-long blog-hop is going on in recognition of Love, called Love Is In Da Blog is a month-long blog-hop from Just Fooling Around with Be. The week 3 prompt is Family Love. During February, Linda collaborates to make the Stream of Consciousness prompt cover both events. So here is the prompt for this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday: “relative/relativity”. It can pertain to a person, a thing, a theory, or a concept. Play with it and have fun!

Having spent the last 5 1/2 years in a foreign country, the idea  of family has become a blurry concept. Of course, I have my parents, my siblings, my children on the other side of the world. I miss them terribly, and although I’ve visited 4 of the summers during my teaching position in Taiwan, I am eager to return to them next summer. During the last four years, I’ve been blessed to have my husband here with me, but the first two years I lived and worked here, I was on my own.

taiwan-mapStill, I had a few people that I knew (including the one who invited me to consider teaching here), and from those early beginnings, I’ve grown another family here in Taiwan. We may not be officially related, but it hasn’t stopped the friendship and caring that are part of so many relationships I have here. I’m going to share a few of them, but the list is not exhaustive. But you’ll be finding out about some of these (and other) people and the ways they’ve touched my life, as I plan to focus on posting about these people and events as I wind down my time in Taiwan.

In all kinds of ways, big and small, there are people who’ve made me feel like I belong, even though I’m living in a foreign country, where I still can’t speak the language. People are very kind and giving. From the first day, I arrived here, Amy met me at the airport and helped me find a place to live.

Diane and her family were my anchor during the Christmas and New Year holidays. Several times, I was invited to their home over the two years we both lived in Taiwan. When my children were half a world away, I felt privileged that she was willing to let me be part of their family and spend time with their children.

Through Diane’s husband, Erik, I also met Mei-Hung, who has been our adventure lady, both before and after Dave arrived in Taiwan. I have written about some of our adventures, and there are more write-ups to come. She has been such a dear friend over the years here.

When I had my knee surgery in my second year, Jessica C. was the one who came early and stayed through the day with me. Steve and Patrick helped me change apartments just weeks after the surgery.

Mac, the taxi driver, took me under his wing and was as close as a phone-call away. He and his wife invited me to dinner at a Japanese restaurant. Another time, they invited me to their home. After Dave moved here in my third year, he took us to a meal to welcome Dave to Taiwan. On another occasion, he took us to the ceramics museum in Yingee.

I found out that I have a twin brother I didn’t know about. Well, maybe Joe isn’t really my brother, but once we connected as colleagues, we discovered we thought so much alike on so many things that we tell people we are twins who were separated at birth. We are both from the US, but Taiwan is where we finally met.

Mina and I have been good friends even though we have a very small shared vocabulary. Between friends, Google translate, guesswork, and body language, we’ve done quite well over the last three years. I first met her at the coffee shop around the corner, and when she moved to work at another restaurant, I still visit her, even though it’s not nearly often enough.

I am surprised at the things that came out in this post. The people I’ve introduced here are only the beginning of the people who have become my family here in Taiwan. Future posts will mention others and provide some details of the activities and events that we shared. So if you’re part of my Taiwanese family, and you don’t see your name listed above, check back. There’s more to come.




Coffee, Quilts, and other things that go “K” in the night

year-of-the-goat-with-icons_23-2147502885Tomorrow is Chinese New Year’s Eve. For the first time in my six years here, we will spend most of the evening in Taipei. We are meeting our friend Joe in Taipei at 3:30 for coffee, discussion of a paper I’m helping him with, and dinner. I should say I’ll be doing the coffee and paper discussion part. Dave will wander around that part of Taipei and join us for the dinner portion of the afternoon/evening. To start the festivities, Dave and I will catch a bus from our neighborhood about 2:30 to go to the nearest MRT station that will take us to the Taipei station where we’ll meet Joe.

As most of you know, I have just over a week of semester break left. Once the Chinese New Year holiday is past, we will gear up for back to school. You may also know that during the break from classes, I’ve been putting in most of my “working hours” at a coffee shop about a half mile from our apartment. I do it because it takes care of a variety of goals and objectives in one fell swoop. Or at least on a regular basis without having to put a lot of time and thought into it. For example, my nearly daily trip to the coffee shop does at least four things for me.

  1. 100_0697It keeps me focused on my work without overtaking my home life.
  2. I get exercise walking here and walking home.
  3. I get great coffee!  ❤
  4. I have an interesting social group here, even though we don’t speak the same language.

OK, now you may wonder what the connection is among all of these seemingly isolated pieces of information. Particularly, how does quilting fit into it? (Coffee fits in with everything. Am I right?)

Any other day, if I were leaving for Taipei at 2:30 in the afternoon, I’d come to the coffee shop when they open and work for a few hours and drink coffee. But . . . . .


Whatever will I do? Luckily, they will be open the following day, New Year’s Day proper. So I can’t fault them too much. They are, after all, only taking one day, when many places can take up to a week or more. For example, the neighborhood near campus will be quite quiet tomorrow.

mystery quilt fabricSo I decided that since they’re having their day off tomorrow, I’ll stay home and do something else that doesn’t contaminate my home space with work. I’m going to work on some quilting projects. Sure I could work on other stuff, but guess what? I’m not going to. I’m giving myself this gift of time.

The reality is I’m coming to terms with the fact that I can never really catch up. That I’m going to have to rethink my commitments and obligations, so that I can rearrange my life accordingly. In the meantime, I can have a nice chunk of sewing time tomorrow. I’ll be sharing some of the results of tomorrow’s escapades here. I actually feel more excitement than I have in a while. I think it’s a good sign.


91 days until 60. 

Re-attaching to Stream of Consciousness Saturday

socs-badgeI haven’t done Stream of Consciousness Saturday in a while. But I really like the prompt for this week. And what’s even more interesting is there’s a collaboration in the works to go along with another blog challenge: “Love Is In Da Blog.”

The week 2 prompt for Love Is In Da Blog is: lovers, spouses and significant others.

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: attach/attachment. It can be about love or anything else!

Thinking about attachment has brought to mind some interesting ideas that aren’t necessarily related, so stream of consciousness works pretty well. Maybe I can even get these various ideas about attachment to attach in some way.

I’m in the midst of going through the things that have collected in my apartment here in Taiwan over the last six years. Of course, keep in mind, I have moved once since arriving in Taiwan. The first apartment a year and a half, and the second for 4 years. To think that when I came here in August of 2009, I came with two suitcases. Everything I had with me in Asia could fit in the trunk of a car. And even though I didn’t really go too that first year and a half, moving to the second apartment wasn’t bad, but it took at least half a dozen carloads to get me settled. Luckily, the two apartments were only a mile apart.

Two interesting things happened after I moved to this apartment. First, a friend of mine and her family moved from Taiwan to mainland China, and in the process, I inherited a lot of amazing things. A couple radiator heaters for starters –which have come in VERY handy during our winters with no central heating. Lots of kitchen items, bedding, and a Christmas tree that I’ve used every year since they’ve been gone. (The two years prior to their departure, I spent Christmas with them, so the tree has been very special to me.) I’m not so attached that it can’t move on. It already has a new home for next year. (I hope to post about that in another post.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe second thing that happened is that my husband moved into the second apartment, about 6 months after I moved. We can back from the US in the summer of 2011 with four suitcases. After all, now that the idea was we’d be staying indefinitely, and not the original one or two years that was part of the initial plan, it made sense to settle in a bit. I moved quilting fabric and books. That was the crazy thing I told myself — if I was going to stay beyond year two, I had to have a hobby around and not get so caught up in working so much. (Yeah, that worked out real well.)  😉 

And as if I don’t have enough trouble getting attached to stuff, my husband settled into his browsing and collecting ways. Don’t get me wrong. He finds great stuff, and we’ve had a great time in this apartment. But the amount of stuff that I’ve accumulated despite knowing this would ultimately be temporary is a little frightening. Certainly we can’t take this all back to the US, nor would I want to. I’m hoping that my return to the US will keep me more focused on what I really want to be doing with my time, and that the things that I have in my life will contribute to that time commitment. But the sorting and purging process is going to take a while. Which is why I’m doing the Fast-Forward Fridays challenge thing now. But it’s only the beginning of the weeding out process and detaching from our home here to set up our new home back in the US.

However, there is something we won’t be leaving behind. We’ve become pretty attached to our dog, “Puppy.” She will be taking a trip to have life on the other side of the world.

But the biggest attachment I’ve found in Taiwan are the people. Students, colleagues, neighbors, local business owners, regulars at the coffee shop. I have a twinge of regret sometimes at the decision to leave Taiwan. Over these six years, when I went back and forth between Asia and North America, it was always hard to leave one, when going to the other. But I had the intention of returning. I had a return ticket in hand. This time, there is no return ticket to Taiwan. Not that I won’t return — there are a couple of events in the future that I hope to return for. And I will still have connections through email, Facebook, and Line.

wp_20150130_009With all of this attachment stuff coinciding with Valentine’s day and the Love Is In Da Blog, it’s really become clear in the last few weeks how my attachment to my husband has grown during our time here. He did not join me in Taiwan until my third year (and second apartment). And while we’ve always enjoyed each other’s company and been supportive of each other, there is something about being in a foreign country together that forges an even stronger bond. At least that’s how I’ve felt. I think those first two years of separation while we decided about staying longer term also helped with that.

People notice our connection. When I go to the coffee shop, he walks me there, and comes back at a prearranged departure time to walk me home.Even people with limited English have learned expressions like, “So sweet.” Students make similar comments because they see him come to school with me on most of my teaching days. They see him bring me coffee and come and walk me back to my office.It’s those people attachments that are the most important, and that makes letting go of the material attachments much easier to do.

I’m looking forward to meeting new people, in the new chapter of our life that is beginning shortly. And I’m glad to have all you readers along for the journey. I feel pretty attached to you, too.  🙂

Thanks to Linda and Bee for this collaborative effort. Check them out!



Receiving A(nother) Random Act of Kindness in Taiwan

chinese-ink-painting-the-year-of-goat_439-2147504703As most of you know, my semester here is 18 weeks and goes from September all the way through the traditional “American” holiday season. So between November and the end of our semester in the first part of January, we have one holiday – January 1. I taught on Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, as well as the days surrounding them. While it’s a little crazy DURING that period of time, it’s nice when we get to late January and early February because then we get our break before returning for second semester at the conclusion of Chinese New Year.

During the break, I have been doing a new routine, combining my daily walking (to the coffee shop) with a task list so that I can begin to catch up on things that got behind during the textbook project. I get work done AND get my regular exercise time in–walking to the coffee shop and walking back home again at the end of my “workday.” In the morning, I try to get here as close to opening as possible–10 am. Departure time could be as early as 6, or as late as 9:30 or 10 pm.

Last night, it was in between those two. Dave came to walk me home between 7 and 7:30. We headed on our usual route, and waited at the stop light that led to our neighborhood. After we crossed, we noticed someone behind us walking in the same direction. She was carrying a hot beverage cup. (Of course, I like to think it was coffee, but it could have been something else.)  🙂

Anyway, as she passed us, she turned and said, “Hello!” as in English, as in initiating the greeting herself. In general, people are quite friendly, particularly if I greet them first. However, I usually greet in Chinese. So this was a little unusual, but very welcome. I returned the greeting, as did my husband. After she walked ahead and turned on a road to the right, we turned left onto our road. Dave asked me, “Is she one of your students?”

She wasn’t. But the reason he asked me is because it isn’t uncommon for me to have students (past and present) see me in different locations, and run up to greet me. This woman was just friendly, not crazy.  🙂 So we continued walking down the last block before crossing the last street to our apartment building, holding hands, because we’re funny that way. Suddenly, we heard someone coming up behind us from the beginning of the block and a voice calling something. We stop and turn to look, and it’s the same woman we had seen on the other street. She had come back to the main roadway where we had seen her and then found the road that we had turned down.

more cakeShe handed me a small bag, much like the one in this picture. She told us they were cakes, and they were for us. I thanked her profusely, and she smiled and walked away. Dave and I were a bit dumbfounded. These lovely cakes are cooked in a griddle with wonderful goodness cooked inside. My favorite are the ones with a custard filling, and the other one I’ve seen often is red bean (sweetened). But at that moment, the really super great thing about the bag of cakes is that they were still warm. My hand was very happy with its new hand warmer.

Dave and I smiled all the way to the apartment, marveling at this lovely random act of kindness. I hope we see that woman again, but more than that, I hope she knows how much we appreciated her thoughtfulness. When we got home, there was one more surprise. I noticed that the filling was dark, so I assumed a red bean filling, but it was raspberry! So yummy! And unexpected. A sweet surprise to end  our Friday evening.

Thank you, Mystery Woman! You made our day!  ❤

If We Were Having Coffee: Semester Break Ahead

If we were having coffee, . .

enggment_photoI’d tell you that I got a lovely gift from my son, Doug, and my future daughter-in-law, Jessica. A photo album with a collection of their engagement photos. The photos are lovely, and I just keep smiling as I look at them. Their wedding will be in Florida in October of this year. And I’m so happy that I will be in the US not only to attend their wedding, but to be more connected with their lives (as with the lives of my other three children, their spouses, and my grandson, Mr. Logan). Thanks, Doug and Jessica, for the lovely gift, and for sharing your joy with us. Best wishes for continued love and joy throughout your marriage.

I’m also eager to spend time with my parents. While our Skype time is great, it will be wonderful to be in the same room again with all of them. I haven’t even been in the same country now in over 17 months.

7Speaking of Mr. Logan, I’d tell you that he will turn 4 years old on Friday. At the right, you can see him (with his father, Gabe) on the day he was born. The cliche is true: I can’t believe how fast it’s gone, but I think that it feels even faster because of  the limited time I’ve spent with him over the years. Taiwan is a long way away, and I’m happy that I will have the opportunity to live closer to him and to be more involved in his life once summer comes.

 I’d tell you that I’m in the process of grading mid-term exams as my last formal responsibility for the semester. The other project I need to complete this week is for the beginning of next semester. I need to finish reviewing and revising the teaching materials that I will use for the Japanese students who will visit from Tottori University in March.

japanese students 1Even though this is the third year that I’ve taught all of the writing classes for this program, I adjust my teaching materials each year depending on student response.I’d tell you that I had a new idea about how to present the writing process in a more visual way. So even though this is my third year of teaching the writing component of this intensive English program, I’m redesigning some of my teaching materials for the 28 hours of classes for this year’s visit from the Japanese students from Tottori University. Teaching 28 additional hours over a three week period is a bit overwhelming, but it goes so fast that I don’t have much time to think about it. I’m sure I’ll be giving you updates in future coffee gatherings.

Japanese students 2

I’d tell you that Dave and I had such an amazing breakfast date on Friday. When we got to our usual (not very often, but consistently chosen), the only available tables were on the “patio” in front. Normally, at this time of year, this would not be a prime spot. However, it was unseasonably warm that day. We initially took the outdoor table, hoping that maybe an indoor one would clear by the time our food was ready. But amazingly, besides being sunny, it was also warm enough to be very comfortable. Here is my yummy coffee.


A lot of these family-owned eateries are like this: closed in on three sides, with the fourth side open to the outside. Getting take-out food is common (as evidenced by the number of my students who arrive at early morning classes with their breakfasts). From where I’m sitting in front of my coffee, I can turn 90 degrees and get a picture of the kitchen area.

frijankitchAnd half-way between that angle and sitting directly in front of my cup, is this lovely scene. I should mention this is just around the other side of the block from our apartment.


 AND I would tell you that an article that I co-authored was published this week in the Journal of Studies in International Education. It came out at a perfect time, since it will look great on my CV while I apply for jobs in the US.


Finally, I’d tell you that it’s 120 days until 60 AND ~159 days until I land in the US!

THANKS to Diana for gathering everyone together this week.  🙂


A Tuesday in Taipei: Part 2

In my previous post, I took you from the front door of our apartment building (our apartment is on the 4th floor) to the bus stop, to downtown Taoyuan, and left off the post just as I was across the street from the train station. I thought I got a shot of the front of the station, but I guess I had another case of “extra light finger.”

If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.

I headed to the train station at about 9:00 am, though I wasn’t really good about noting the time for use in the blog. Just know I left the house around 8:30. And got to the MRT station in Taipei at 10:30.

When I got to the train station, the first thing I noticed was how open and spacious it was. Certainly not like the last several times I’ve been there. On the weekend and during rush hours (the times I usually end up traveling), it is a very busy place. But look at it on Tuesday morning when rush hour is over.


Here is the platform as I wait for the train to arrive. Just beyond the platform on the other side, you can see some construction going on. This will be a new train station for Taoyuan. It may not be open before I leave, but it will be great. The current station doesn’t have an elevator.


I was taking the train from Taoyuan to the Banqiao station–a trip of about 20-25 minutes, where I would transfer to the MRT (subway) system.


I’ll have to get some more pictures the next time I’m at the Banqiao station, but this is the best of the bunch. I also hadn’t yet figured out the settings on my camera. And then later the pictures get a bit blurry, and these are the best of what I took.  I think a practice session is in order. You may be seeing more of my Taipei travels.

Anyway, at the Banqiao station, you can catch the TRA (train), the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit system, or subway), and the HSR (High Speed Rail). I believe that it is the only MRT station other than Taipei’s Main station where you can get any one of these three major transportation systems. I’ve only been on the HSR a couple of times, but it is amazingly fast.

I headed to the MRT platform.

100_0672The MRT system is very convenient. It has expanded significantly in the six years that I’ve been here, and more construction is under way. If you look at the map below, Banqiao is on the Blue Line (#5), five stops from the bottom on the map.

mrtMy destination was the Shandao Temple Station. If you follow the Blue Line to where it turns, the stop is halfway between the Red and Orange Lines. I went to Exit 6 and this was the view.


And this:


The day wasn’t very clear, but if you follow the street to that open sky, you’ll see the Taipei 101 Building. Not only is it one of the tallest buildings, it has a great bookstore that has a large selection of books in English. It also has a branch of Jason’s Supermarket, a place that caters to foreigners who are looking for specialty food items from home. I found Bisquick there a couple years ago.  haha

I had 90 minutes to myself before my scheduled meeting, so a work session in a coffee shop was in order. Right across the street from Exit 6 was a Starbucks, but I was after a local establishment. Lo and behold, there was a great one located right next door to Starbucks. I was on my way.


It had a recessed entry with a few tables outside. The whole thing was very inviting.


I opted to have coffee inside where it was quieter. They had a lovely menu in addition to their coffee offerings, but I ordered a hot latte (taking a break from my iced latte of summer).100_0697

As I was trying to find pictures for this part of the journey, it was good to realize that I need to go back here to get more pictures. After all, I need the practice.  🙂

Hopefully, you won’t have to wait as long for the next post, but it will have some pictures that will make the wait worthwhile.


178 days to 60!