11:21 a.m. on 1/4/14

Jigsaw puzzle on New Year's Eve

Jigsaw puzzle on New Year’s Eve

As the new year begins, I am doing a lot of reflection and planning for what I want to pursue. But I won’t be making resolutions. I’m not out to resolve things. I am out to live more fully and to embrace my goals and dreams for the future. Part of that involves really discovering what it is I want in life. And I intend to do some explorations in many areas of my life to refine what it is I want. I’ve started making lists, and I’m excited about the possibilities. You’ll be reading about some of them in my blog over the next few weeks, but at 11:21 this morning, I had just revealed one of my fun intensions to a friend, and now I’m going to share it with you.

At 11:21 this morning, I was talking on Skype with my friend Joycelyn of Farther to Go! fame. She and I have been friends for forty years and have been through a lot together. For the last few years, while I’ve been in Taiwan, we try to reserve this time every week to catch up, and to support each other in our respective endeavors. I knew when we started our conversation that the specified moment would arrive sometime during our conversation..

Joycelyn and I were having an interesting discussion about our respective fitness programs and how we were feeling differently because of what we were doing. We realized in the discussion that most people talk about going to the gym as a goal, when that’s not really the goal. It’s the means TO a goal, such as feeling better, getting stronger, getting in shape, or other possibilities. But at this time of year, people set a GOAL of going to the gym as if going to the gym in itself is something we really want. No wonder fitness goals often fall by the wayside. There is no real desire and motivation behind them, except maybe prodding from a doctor or loved one, or guilt, or some other negativity that we’re convinced we can (re)solve if we just have enough will power. Right!

There was much more to the conversation, but we began sharing some of the things we wanted for ourselves in the new year, and at 11:21, I had just finished telling Joycelyn about a challenge I have given myself for the year. Something I’m excited about. Something that will keep me jazzed and move me toward a goal I have had for a while, but was having trouble getting there.

So here’s the background. I live in Taiwan. This is my fifth year here, yet I know very little Chinese. I know enough Chinese to be somewhat entertaining to the natives, but that’s it. To be fair, I’m so busy with teaching, editing, and textbook writing, that I don’t have a lot of time for language study. And I did make a real effort before arriving, but learned the wrong accent, so even my minimal phrases I learned before I came weren’t too helpful. I’ve tried working with a few students who wanted to teach me some Chinese, but that never worked very well.

But one of the students from the new writing group is double majoring in English and in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language. She and I are setting up biweekly lessons for me. Just enough to give me a bit of language without it being too overwhelming. (She is one of the puzzle solvers in the picture above. She’s on the right.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOK, now here’s another piece about me you may not know. I use to be a music director for a church. I’m a keyboardist, choir director, and vocalist. Though I don’t do a lot of singing anymore, and never did much karaoke in the past, it seems like a fun way to spend a little time with students. The students tell me that most of the English songs at the karaoke places are “old.” They obviously forget who they’re talking to. I can do “old” songs.

But a couple of days ago, I realized that if I had the Romanized Chinese words and a YouTube video, I could learn a song in Chinese! It would give me an extra motivation for my language study, and satisfy the urge I have to sing. I can go with a group of students and do some singing in both languages. I am psyched!

I emailed the young lady in the picture above and told her of my plan, and she’s already sent me a couple of videos and the Romanized Chinese for both of them. Now I just have to talk to my new tutor and tell her of my crazy plan, but I know she’ll be as excited about it as I am.

And at a future moment in time, I will be singing a song in Chinese. And the plan is to record it and share it in a blog post. Stay tuned!  I’ll keep you posted!


A Moment in Time is a shared blogging experience, where writers document and share their stories from the same moment on the same day. The day and time for the next A Moment in Time is posted by Randee every few days in such a way that you’ll have a heads up on the exact moment to which you need to attend and focus on and, if it’s significant in some way, write about and add to the list.



I’m also participating in Just Jot it January *JusJoJan.” You just jot something everyday, even if it doesn’t always result in a blog post. Maybe several days’ jottings end up in one post. Lots of possibilities. Check it out here:


More or Less – A Musical Exploration of Want and Need

With my not-so-secret collaborator, a collection of songs was begun with the idea of “have” and “have not,” feast or famine, greed and gratitude in an effort to contrast “more” and “less.” With just a couple of exceptions, the selections turned out to be more relationship driven than I had intended. But the results are still interesting, with the longing for more that is part of relationships that can never be and with gratitude when one finds the relationship that fulfills one’s hopes and dreams. And one song reminds us that even though we can’t always have what we want, we can often find what we really need.

I’m Not That Girl (Wicked)

I Want It NOW! (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

This one shows the greed of someone who is spoiled, used to getting her own way. And no matter what she has, she always wants more. Her father has given her the idea that money can give her whatever she wants, and she is good(!) at throwing temper tantrums.

On My Own – Samantha Barks (Les Miserables 2012)

I Could Not Ask For More (Edwin McCain)

(There’s Gotta Be) More to Life (Stacie Orrico)

You Can’t Always Get What You Want (Glee)

All You Need is Love (Glee)

Links to the other participants:

Bear:   MORE OR LESS?    http://bearspawprint.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/music-themes-more-or-less/


Eva:     MORE AND LESS. OR, IS IT SUPPOSED TO BE LESS OR MORE? MUSICAL THEME. AN OPEN INVITATION TO GEESE AND MORE. LESS WAR DESIRED.          http://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/more-and-less-or-is-it-supposed-to-be-less-or-more-musical-theme-an-open-invitation-to-geese-and-more-less-war-desired/#comment-10933


Johnny:  MORE OR LESS   http://johnnyojanpera.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/music-theme-for-december-8-more-or-less/comment-page-1/#comment-2584


Across the Universe – A Sunny Musical Theme for December 4

This was almost the post that wasn’t. In spite of help from the daughter AND the husband, the mother almost lost the file entirely. With a lot of help, it was reconstructed, and here it is: a collection of songs about a sun, a moon, some stars, Jupiter and the distance between them all. We hope you enjoy!

Here Comes the Sun (Glee)

Walking on Sunshine (Katrina and the Waves)

Glad You Came – The Wanted (Glee)

Drops of Jupiter (Train)

Dancing in the Moonlight (Toploader)

Walkin’ on the Sun (Smash Mouth)

The Space Between (Dave Matthews Band)

Ray of Light (Madonna)

Big Bang Theory Theme (BareNaked Ladies)

To the Moon and Back (Savage Garden)

Beatles Across the Universe (NASA/JPL)

Published on Mar 31, 2012

For the first time ever, NASA beamed a song — The Beatles’ “Across the Universe” — directly into deep space at 7 p.m. EST on Feb. 4. The transmission over NASA’s Deep Space Network commemorated the 40th anniversary of the day The Beatles recorded the song, as well as the 50th anniversary of NASA’s founding and the group’s beginnings. Two other anniversaries also are being honored: The launch 50 years ago this week of Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite, and the founding 45 years ago of the Deep Space Network. Learn more at: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/universe/f….

 Catch a Falling Star (Perry Como)


Check out these selections from the other participants:

Bear:    HEART OF THE SUN   http://bearspawprint.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/music-themes-heart-of-the-sun-2/

Bear:    INTO THE HEART OF THE SUN    http://bearspawprint.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/music-themes-into-the-heart-of-the-sun/

Bear:     UNDER THE SUN       http://bearspawprint.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/music-themes-under-the-sun/


Eva:       CATCH SOME HEAT RAYS    http://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/catch-some-heat-rays-set-the-controls-for-the-heart-of-the-sun-music-theme/



Johnny:  SET THE CONTROLLS FOR THE HEART OF THE SUN   http://johnnyojanpera.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/set-the-controls-for-the-heart-of-the-sun-music-theme-december-4th/


D. S. Nelson:  PLANETARY MUSIC   http://hatpaintladdersandwonkypooh.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/planetary-music/

The Revolution of Music: Another Mother/Daughter Collaboration


Eva selected revolution as our current theme. Mother told the daughter she wanted a music revolution, so the daughter obliged, choosing popular songs from each decade that are all recognizable years after their respective decades.

Then the mother asked the daughter if she wanted to help with commentary, and the daughter replied, “If you would have asked me for commentary sooner I could have done something better, but instead you and your readers will have to deal with the past 6 decades in a horrible nutshell.”

We now present the horrible nutshell!

The 50s

We will start with the man who originally got us all shook up, Elvis Presley.

Blue Suede Shoes (Elvis Presley)


The 60s

The British Invasion soon swept through, and what better song to use for said era than Revolution?

Revolution (Beatles)

Other genres that swept the nation, world, whatever, include Motown.

My Girl (The Temptations)


The 70s

As the 60s became the 70s we heard more and more from songwriters, but the musical phenomenon known as Grease was also heard by just about everyone.

Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)


Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac)

You’re the One That I Want (Grease)

The 80s

In addition to the world being graced with my presence in the 80’s, we also received the gift of songs that would get stuck in your head… but in a good way. I picked the Lego video because not only did mother request an “art revolution,” Legos are a revolution in their own right.

Thriller  (Michael Jackson)


Madonna (Like a Virgin)

The 90s

Things took one heck of the turn prior to the turn of the century– we went from having catchy songs to songs that found their way into your head and wouldn’t leave until it was replaced with something else. It didn’t help that radios would play these singles ad nauseam for anyone who wasn’t a teenage girl.

Quit Playing Games (with my Heart) (Back Street Boys)

What a Girl Wants (Christina Aguilera)


The 2000s

And since obnoxious stuff could no longer be contained in the radio stations, reality TV shows took over the television stations, too. Fortunately, for me at least, Glee came along right around the time American Idol became more about the gimmicks than the music.

A Moment LIke This Kelly Clarkson

Don’t Stop Believing   Glee


Although some musicians *cough* Lady Gaga *cough* are still about the gimmick, we do have artists such as Adele and Bruno Mars that are capable of performing music that mother requested by name

Born This Way   Lady Gaga


Someone Like You (Adele)

Just the Way You Are (Bruno Mars)


Daughter likes writing for the Mother since Mother doesn’t have the ridiculous standards I set for myself. I’m a revolution of one, I suppose. Feel free to join it at sincerelykaterz.wordpress.com

Mother likes Horrible Nutshells.;-)

Wishing and Hoping (Musical Theme for November 27)

Wishin’ and Hopin’

A light-hearted beginning, to put me in the mood of wishin’ and hopin’ and thinking of possibilities. This came out before my time and has recently made a come-back. I also heard a lot of 60’s music later in life.  🙂

My Wish (Rascal Flatts)

This selection and the next were recommended by my daughter/collaborator Kate. She may be joining in on some of these challenges later on, but for now, I still can reap the benefit of her musical interests.

I’m Wishing on a Star (The Tenth Kingdom)

Wishing You Were Here (Phantom of the Opera)

This song makes me think of the times in my life when there was something I wished that could be other than the way it was, but wishing was not going to make it so. Yet they were too powerful to just push away. The expression of the longing was painful, but necessary. It can lead to new resolve and intentions that bring a new direction that is even better than what I thought I wanted.


My daughter also sent this one along, and I couldn’t agree more. The song has always been powerful, and this cover by Glee takes it to an even more amazing level. I am moved by the pure emotion of this rendition. If you can imagine it, it can be. And sure, realistically, we know that many of these things won’t happen anytime soon, but without hope, we have little reason to go on.

I Hope You Dance

In the end, this is my fantasy, my fondest hope is to inspire others: my children, my students, my friends, anyone who is searching for more in their life. Anyone who dreams of dancing, or of writing, or of being an artist, a scientist, a teacher, or an engineer. It doesn’t matter, as long as they find their way to being the best at what it is they want to be and not simply settle for what’s easy. If I can help someone find their way to a life of purpose and fulfillment, then I will have my wish. This song captures that for me.

Other posts on this theme:

Bear:   MY SECRETS, HOPES, WISHES, AND FANTASIES ARE ALL DREAMS       http://bearspawprint.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/music-themes-secrets-hopes-wishes-and-fantasies/

Eva:  What’s my secret fantasy desire? My hope? My fond wish? Animate Art with Music! What else is worth living for?   http://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/music-theme-whats-my-secret-fantasy-desire-my-hope-my-fond-wish-animate-art-with-music-what-else-is-worth-living-for/

Johnny: http://johnnyojanpera.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/secrets-hope-wishes-and-fantasies/#like-2575

WIllow: http://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/musical-theme-secret-fantasies-and-hopes/

D.S. Nelson: http://hatpaintladdersandwonkypooh.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/27-secrets-hopes-wishes-or-fantasies-whats-your-music/

The Power of Fire (Musical Theme for November 22)

I’m not happy with the way I handled this theme, but it was either this or sit it out. I’ve sat out most of today on many levels, as my personal fire is in short supply today. Luckily, I won’t always feel this way. So I’ll post this, knowing tomorrow will be different, if not downright better.

Fire and Rain (James Taylor)

Set Fire to the Rain   (Adele)

I’m on Fire (Bruce Springsteen)

Mother Earth is Burning   (Aloid)

We Didn’t Start the Fire  (Billy Joel)

This Fire    (Franz Ferdinand)  

Eyes, boring a way through me
Paralyse, controlling completely
Now there is a fire in me
A fire that burns

This fire is out of control
I’m going to burn this city
Burn this city
This fire is out of control
I’m going to burn this city
Burn this city
This fire is out of control
I’m going to burn this city
Burn this city
This fire is out of control
I’m going to burn it, I’ll burn it
I, I, I’ll burn it down
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsty.com/franz-ferdinand-this-fire-lyrics.html ]
Eyes, burning a way through me
Overwhelm, destroying so sweetly
Now, there is a fire within me
A fire that burns

This fire is out of control
I’m going to burn this city
Burn this city
This fire is out of control
I’m going to burn this city
Burn this city
This fire is out of control
Then I, I’m out of control
And I burn,

Oh, how I burn for you
Burn, oh how I burn for you
Burn, how I
Burn, how I
Burn, oh how I…

This fire is out of control,
I’m gonna burn this city,
Burn this city…

This Fire lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Raging Fire

Raging Fire
Can you see the licking flame
Waiting for its time
Its increasing energy
Preparing for the prime
Fed up with your boring prate
All senses gettin’ lost
Second to none our flame shall rouse
Just like a growing host
Raging Fire burning down the walls
Raging Fire the rebellion force
Raging Fire all across the land
Raging Fire fights in self-defense
The anger grows on and on
The young sand up and fight
No more lies and censorship
All oppressed sand tight
Knights of fortune and dictators
They can’t stand this heat
We know what we want from life
beware we break your greed
Raging Fire burning down the walls
Raging Fire the rebellion force
Raging Fire all across the land
Raging Fire fights in self-defense
Wake up break the silence
Come on join our league
We must stand defiant
To dethrone the breed
Raging Fire burning down the walls
Raging Fire the rebellion force
Raging Fire all across the land
Raging Fire fights in self defense
Raging Fire

To see what others have done with this theme, check out the blogs listed below:




D.S. Nelson


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.  http://blog.sina.com.tw/sophiaday/article.php?pbgid=70313&entryid=583262

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.