I Didn’t Miss THIS While I was in Taiwan

frost warning 001I mentioned the weather “score” the other day between where I lived last year (Taiwan) and where I live this year (Michigan). And some of my Taiwanese friends even commented on how cool the frost looked on the leaves.

Well, I’m here to tell you, it’s not so much fun on your car. Frost is not selective, so if your car is not parked in a garage, a heavy frost that covers leaves and trees will also come to rest on your windshield. Even though winter is not officially here, it gets cold enough some nights to be greeted by this phenomenon in the morning.

So while I didn’t even miss driving during the six year in Taiwan, I REALLY didn’t miss removing ice from the windshield. This morning was the third time I found my vehicle like the picture above. The first time was a couple of weeks ago. I scraped the windshield (the first time after six years of never having to do it). The second time was on Monday when I posted the “lovely trees,” I took the pictures for this post at the same time, but didn’t use them until today, which made the third time I’ve scraped. And to think this is only November 11.

So what does it mean to scrape a windshield? You use a little tool with a really special name–ice scraper. 🙂 It has a plastic handle with a plexiglass blade that you can use to remove the thin layer of ice from the windshield or other window. Here is a picture of the ice scraper on the windshield at the beginning of the process.

frost warning 003Here is the windshield nearly half done.

frost warning 007.I have to admit it hasn’t been THAT bad scraping the windshield so far, it mainly involves either allowing extra time in the morning or arriving at my destination ten minutes later. However, as the temperatures get lower when winter actually arrives, the ice gets a little more tenacious or at least thicker. Thicker ice means having to scrape harder and longer to get the same results.

So, to all my friends in Taiwan, I hope you enjoy this little trip into the dipping temperatures in Michigan. So far, I don’t mind it too much, but I imagine that the novelty will wear off this little ritual long before the spring thaw.

What else would you like to know about Michigan, winter, the US? Post your questions, and I may be able to provide a few other posts that contrast the differences between my two “homes.”

Taiwan – 21; Michigan – 6 (It’s not sports!)

Yeah, those are centigrade temperatures as of 10:30 am (Michigan time), which means the Taiwan temperature is a nighttime temperature 13 hours in the future — 11:30 pm. For those of you who don’t do conversions, it means that at 10:30 in Michigan, it was 43 degrees here and 70 degrees in Taiwan.

During my six years in Taiwan, it rarely got below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, so when my students complained about how cold it was, or why I didn’t wear heavier coats, I often laughed and just said, “It’s no problem; I’m from Michigan.” So, this post is largely for those in Taiwan, because those of you who live in the northern US, you will likely not be that entertained by the photos I show below. But for those I left behind in Taiwan, they will be “crazily” fascinated.

frost warning 011As the seasons continue their trek through autumn, it is getting cold overnight. And in the morning, it’s cold enough that it’s like practice time for winter. This morning, I drove into work at 8:00 pm. And it was cold enough, not 6 degrees centigrade, but minus 3, or 29 degrees Fahrenheit.. Because I haven’t been here for the last several early frosts, I decided to stop the car and take a few pictures. In addition to the frost itself, you will notice that the sun is not up very high. It takes a lot longer for the sun to come up at this latitutde than it does for Taiwan. So here are a few pictures from a stop on my morning trip. For those of you in Taiwan, enjoy, ask questions, laugh if you must. The rest of you may want to avert your eyes.

frost warning 012Before we ever get snow, we get frost. What it means is that all the moisture on the morning grass freezes and looks not quite white, but almost grayish. It melts off as the temperature rises from its early morning numbers to a reasonable number by mid-morning. (It went from -3 to 6 today between 8 and 10:30 am.) this rise in temperature means that at this time of year, the frost melts by mid-morning and we are “safe” until it cools down overnight and threatens to freeze the morning moisture again.

I’ll have another view of the changing seasons for you later in the week. In the meantime, here are a few more pictures to enjoy.  🙂

frost warning 013frost warning 014frost warning 015I’m off for a cup of coffee to warm up.  More soon!

Weekend Coffee Share: Weather Wonder Week

weekendcoffeeshareIf we were having coffee, I’m sure we’d have to give some mention to the awesome weather of the week. After missing autumn for the past six years while I was in Taiwan, I couldn’t have asked for a  better fall in general, but this last week in particular was beyond amazing. Here’s Logan from slightly before this week, but it’s just a glorious time of year.

19921_10156230937600037_4224726436927740609_nI’d tell you that I did make it to Lowe’s to pick up the paint chips I needed to get to work on my fabric selection for the mystery quilt that begins at the end of the month. I also picked up some quilt basting spray so that I can get Jack’s quilt layered and ready for quilting. I’ve never used quilting spray before, but I thought this would be a good time to try it. With my new “quilting project” schedule, it makes sense to streamline some aspects of it. Just because I learned how to do this before some of these aids came along doesn’t mean I have to keep doing it that way. In the meantime, here is a pic from my last mystery quilt challenge. It’s a little blurry, but it gives you an idea of how it’s working out. This is #3 in the quilting finish schedule I posted on Tuesday. This mystery quilt challenge was hosted by Aby, and you can check out her blog here.

quiltlyout (2)I’d tell you that my move to the house has been delayed, and I am staying at my parents’ house for another week or two. At the same time, I’m really here almost less than at any other time because of all the hours I’m out tutoring. Still, I’m chomping at the bit because I’d like to have some sense of being settled. Things at my parents’ house are becoming less organized, largely because I know the move is coming, and I work toward the move rather than toward creating more stability.

I’d tell you that my mother and I had an outing today after my Saturday morning tutoring session. We went to a church craft bazaar where she bought a few gifts for her great-grandchildren and a couple of lovely things for herself. Then we went off to Macy’s. I called Dad to see if he wanted to join us for dinner, and he preferred to take care of himself (and watch football). So my mother and I went to TGI Friday’s because she had always been curious about it, and it isn’t the kind of place my father would particularly be interested in. He takes my mother out quite often, but just not to some place like Fridays. I report the news, I don’t make sense of it.  🙂


Image courtesy of 89studio / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of 89studio / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’d tell you that I found two new job openings in Iowa, so I’ll be sending out applications this week. Although things are picking up for me here in Michigan, it still ultimately looks like it would be good for Dave and me to reunite in Iowa rather than in Michigan, at least for a while. So we’ll see what happens.

I’d tell you that there are lots of odds and ends for me to deal with, and that I’ve made a list of them, so I can begin to schedule them in some kind of systematic way.

I’d tell you that with all these things going on, I’m going to have another cup. Then I need to get to it.  🙂

library coffee shop 004Why don’t you join us in a cup of coffee or other favorite beverage. You can find the link up at Diana’s blog, http://parttimemonster.com/2015/11/07/weekendcoffeeshare-in-which-allison-wins/

Have a good week!

Categorically Cats


It’s Saturday, and that means. It’s time for Linda Hill’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday. This week’s prompt?

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “-cat-”  Use the letters at the start, middle, or end of a word and make it the subject of your post – or just use the word “cat.” Enjoy!

And rather than trying to be clever, I just took the word at face value.

cat mosaicWhen my daughter was younger, she used to ask me for a baby sister. Unbeknownst to her at the time, I had been advised against having more children since my labor and delivery with said daughter had been rather rough. Eventually, my daughter was old enough to understand that there would be no baby sister. Her solution: ask Mom for a cat, or more accurately, a kitten. That’s when Snickers came into our lives. Two other cats joined our family over the next few years: Aphrodite and Cappuccino.

Aphrodite was born to an outdoor cat, but when it was discovered she was nearly blind with other defects, she was brought into the house of the family who owned the barn she was born in. The problem with that idea was that one of the children in the house had an allergy, and the blind cat needed a home. That need happened to coincide with Kate’s request for a second cat.

Cappuccino was a rambunctious little kitten who made Curious George look almost bored. Cappuccino was a bit of a tech geek before the days of widespread cell phone use. But she was into printers and paper shredders. The sound of either one would bring the Capp running at full clip to “investigate.” She would sit next to the printer, and it would look like she was reading what came out of it. As a kitten, she’d hop right up on the edge of the paper shredder to check things out. We wanted to hire her out for spy work, as she seemed to have a knack for keeping an eye on so many things.

The other awesome thing about Cappuccino is that she took Aphrodite under her “wing.” Although Cappuccino was younger, she began mothering Aphrodite, helping with grooming and teaching her to jump onto the padded piano bench. It was like she understood that Aphro needed some help and just rose to the occasion.

When I went to grad school, Aphrodite and Cappuccino went with us, and Snickers stayed with Kate. The cats left us in reverse order, with Snickers living to a ripe cat age of nearly 18 years. Kate wrote this post for Snickers, aka Tuna after he died in February..

The pictures above are not of our cats, but of a couple of cats from Taiwan. But you can see Snickers in Kate’s post.

If you want to join in the fun, check it out at: http://lindaghill.com/2015/11/06/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-nov-715/


My Answer to This Week’s “To Do or Not to Do Tuesday”

Since I started a new feature this past week, I decided that Friday was a good day to post the answer. That way when the decision is “to do,” I’ll have the weekend to jump in with both feet. And when the answer is “not to do,” I can use my weekend for things that are already on my “go ahead” list.


This one probably won’t be much of a surprised, but I’m going to be taking on the mystery quilt challenge. I first heard about it when I was reading a post about it on Mary’s blog.


I was immediately intrigued and posted a comment which began a brief but active conversation between us.

  • Deborah says:
  •  Deborah says:
    • Go get your paint chips!! I will pester you to keep on it! It is really a ton of fun. Do read through Bonnie’s full post before you start your fabric selections.

      So I went to read Bonnie’s post and made a list of the paint chips and the fabric measurements for each. This morning, I had a little bit of time between appointments, so I stopped at Lowe’s for paint chips, and later I will start the treasure hunt for the appropriate fabrics.

      easy angleI also have to pick up a couple of special rules for making angles. This part is quite exciting because the idea of learning a new technique will help me move ahead on my quilting. I like to do a lot of my own designing, but sometimes, I am a little shy about the triangles I use. I’m hopeful that an easier triangle construction process will motivate me to use more of them in my quilts.

      Of course, I will honor the schedule I posted in my Tuesday post. Jack’s quilt still is the priority. I will be getting his quilt sandwich put together this weekend, and hopefully start quilting. I want to get it done because I want to give it to him. But I also want to get it done and give it to him because I want to start posting pictures of how cute it is turning out. But it’s still in “surprise” mode, so I can’t post pictures yet. Soon!

      In the meantime, I’m off to scout out some fabric! I won’t buy a lot today, but it will be fun to play with the new color scheme between the rest of the errands and appointments I have today.

      The great thing about this thinking “process” is that it wasn’t really a matter of “deciding” to quilt. That decision has been made over and over in the past, and it’s never been a true decision. I can’t stay away from quilting even if I think I want to try.

Part of my Heart will Always be in Taiwan

taiwan-mapAs I immerse myself into rebuilding a life in Michigan, there are times when I miss my friends from Taiwan. In the six years of my life there, there were so many special people that entered my life:  students, colleagues, neighbors, store owners, and coffee shop customers. Through email, Facebook, and Skype, I’m able to keep in touch with many. And I have many mementos from many of them. And in spite of all the good intentions, the connections aren’t as strong as they were when I was living there. I still catch up with a few people here and there, but the daily connections have largely been transferred back to the people here in the US.

However, I still get some really nice surprises. A few weeks ago, a student who became a friend and stayed involved in my life beyond our teacher/student relationship contact me. She sent me a file on Facebook that she wanted me to read. It was an autobiography that she was doing for one of her classes. She focused on her family, and most of what was written there I knew about, although there were a few new details that were new to me. Dante’s parents are divorced, but she does an amazing job of being part of both families that allows her to be an integral part of both.

Here is the first part of her story.

100_0635My name is Dante Chiang. I am a girl who loves cute stuff, watching cartoons, and playing video games (and I enjoy every part of it). Besides all of these, I want to tell you my so-far story. This may not be the usual way to begin, but I want to share with you the three families who make up who I am.

When I was 11 my parents got divorced, and since that time, I have been living with my father, my granny and my younger brother. My father and my granny try their best to take good care of me and my brother; however, because my brother is about 10 years younger than I am, and because of my father’s busy career, I have to help them to do house chores, baby sit my brother and also take good care of myself. I started to do part time jobs after high school just so that I could help support myself and not have them worry about me. I’ve worked in a steak house and a stand as a server; I’ve worked at the Bank of Taiwan, helping with student loans. I’ve also worked in a fishing market, and since my freshman year in college, I have been working part-time in MCU’s General Affairs office.

My father’s house is located in a small fishing village in Keelung, facing the Pacific Ocean and backed with mountains. Because of the fine natural environment, the local schools often have their students out for field trips, teaching them about the local ecosystem and how to protect their hometown’s environment. And I was one of those students. As a result, I am a nature lover and an animal lover. When I was a high school student, I rescued a kitten, abandoned by his mother, and kept him as my own pet and as a friend. Ever since his appearance, I became a cat lover. As a result of these experiences, I learned to take care of not only people but also animals, and I learned the way to ease people’s worries.

My second family consists of my mother and my younger sister, who is now studying in nursing school. My mother raises my sister and provides her a nice, warm home. Although my parents are divorced, my mother still shows her care for me. She calls me regularly and answers my calls whenever I need her. She encourages me to be strong and independent  like she is so that I can sail through my problems without any tears. I admire her as a mother and as a woman.

Although she wants me to be strong, my mother also encourages me to follow my interests and passions. When I was 18, my choices were military school in order to support my father financially, or study in a regular college and major in what interested me. My mother’s advice was: “Don’t think too much. Just choose what you love. I will be here and help you.” And, I am here. In a regular college, majoring in English.

But it was the next part of her biography that was the real surprise to me.

My third family might be considered unusual by some, but I consider Deborah and Dave as my American mom and dad. I met Deborah when I had her for my second-year writing teacher, but our relationship became much more than just teacher and student. When I was in Deborah’s class, Deborah invited me to her weekly writing group that met at a local coffee shop. And, soon, we became friends.

drama photoWhen Deborah’s previous assistant was in her last semester before graduation, she became too busy to help anymore, so I was invited to be Deborah’s new assistant one or two days a week. I thought this opportunity would be cool and helpful for myself as well, so I nodded. Sometimes we met at her house and worked there; sometimes, we met at a coffee shop, worked, and enjoyed a nice cup of coffee. I helped her with school work, helped to work on the textbooks she was producing, and became her personal interpreter. Whenever I went to her house, dinners were included in exchange for my help. Her husband, a great cook, made delicious American style meals. Deborah also asked me to be one of her TAs when the Japanese students from Tottori University came for their three week English program. Deborah taught them writing, and I assisted them in class and helped explain class materials to them. It was cool that I could help some Japanese students with their classes.

Through the time we spent together, we talked a lot. As we became closer, I could talk to her about any problems in school or in my family. Deborah comforted me, gave me advice, and even encouraged me to go to graduate school. “I will definitely write a recommendation letter for you whenever you need it.”  Thanks to my American mom and dad, I am hopeful that I will someday go back to school and study translation.

Eventually, Deborah and Dave left Taiwan because they still have their families back in the U.S. When we saw each other for the last time before they left, it felt so much more than friends, more like parents and daughter.  I will always remember the time we spent together, the times I interpreted for them, and the fun we had. Hopefully, one day I can visit them in America. In the meantime, we can stay in touch online, because we will always be family.

These three families all are part of me and who I am. I feel very lucky to have not one, but three families who care for me.

Thank you, Dante! You will always be a part of my life. Even though there are many miles between us, the bonds that we have made will always keep us close. ❤

Leaping Lizards: It’s Wildlife Wednesday

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe weather here in mid-Michigan is amazing this week. With sunny skies shining through the end of the golden leaves and temperatures in the mid-70’s, what better time to be having Wildlife Wednesday. With the sudden return of these lovely temperatures, several insects were back for the party. They weren’t the only confused ones, but hey, I’ll take it. I’m up for enjoying it while it lasts because reality returns this weekend.

After last month’s entry of a spider from Taiwan, I thought I’d try another Taiwanese creature with a few less phobic critics. At least, I think that’s the case. I would be curious to know if anyone thinks the little guy at the left is creepier than a spider. If this were a poll, who would win creepy? The spider or this great little guy?

These little lizards were fairly common in Taiwan. The one in this photo was taken on the walking way in our apartment complex. I was excited to get this shot (thanks, Dave!) because they are rather shy and if you try to get too close, they scurry away.

When I told one of my former students (also friend and Taiwanese “daughter”), Dante about this photo, she sent me a few of the same type of lizard. (You can see the pattern on its back.)

lizard4lizard3My favorite is the “unnatural” one climbing on the cart.


And watch for a post in the near future with more about Dante.  🙂

Enjoy all the wildlife in your part of the world.

Check out all the wildlife in Tina’s garden at http://mygardenersays.com/2015/11/04/wildlife-wednesday-november-2015-2/. Maybe you can join in the fun.

And don’t forget to check out the lead pepper for Nano Poblano: https://rarasaur.wordpress.com/

Autumn Fun for Two Grandsons

two grandsonsFor those of you who haven’t been following me long, I have two grandsons, who both live in Michigan. Logan, who is 4 1/2, is the son of my daughter, Kate and her husband, Gabe. Jack is the new kid on the block, who is 8 weeks old. He is the son of my son, Tom and his wife, Megan. In the middle of October, the two of them got to meet for the first time. If you go by their facial expressions, I think it’s safe to say that Logan was a lot more excited about the meeting. It will be fun to see them together as Jack gets older; I’m sure they will have some exciting adventures together.

logan wedding shirtLogan has had some interesting adventures of his own lately. He has been in preschool for several weeks now. He especially likes riding the bus. He’s also had a field trip. Last week, he made use of a special t-shirt. That’s because everyone who attended by Doug and Jessica’s wedding last weekend got a customized t-shirt. Even though Logan was unable to attend the wedding, he was included in the t-shirt order. So when Kate brought Logan’s t-shirt home for him last weekend, Logan was able to put it to good use. It turns out that they were talking about the letter “D” in preschool that very week, so his new t-shirt with D + J on it made the perfect outfit for the day. The story of the t-shirt is pretty great, but I really just like the expression on his face. ❤

Fall is harvest season, and Logan understands that because his dad is a farmer, his dad works really long hours. Logan is at the age where he also wants to be a farmer when he grows up. He loves playing with his tractors and other farm implements.

logan leavesLogan has also been enjoying the autumn leaves and helping his Aunt Marilyn with the raking and gathering. Or at least he’s been having fun playing in the resulting piles.

As an aside, I’m really enjoying the turning of the leaves, as I’ve been away from the seasons for the six years that I was living in Taiwan. But seeing Logan in the pics below captures some of the moments I’ve been enjoying as I watch the colors of the season. And this picture of Logan captures those colors (and his sweet smile) very nicely.

Jack’s a little newer at this adventure stuff, but hey, he just had his first Halloween. A good holiday for adventure. And what did he dress up as? A “Jack” o-lantern.

Jack o lanternHowever, Jack is not really very happy about the other jack-o-lantern imitations. He hasn’t yet figured out that none of the others can compete with him. But check out this photo! I can’t help smiling every time I see it.

unhappy jack

Fall isn’t over, so I expect a few more grandson adventures to report throughout the next few weeks. I hope you have many good autumn adventures ahead of you.

If We Were Having Coffee: The Beginning of NaBloPoMo Edition

weekendcoffeeshareIf we were having coffee, I’d have to tell you that it’s been a rather unusual week. Mostly good, but very taxing.

I’d also tell you that my post today feels boring, even to me. I feel like I’ve just lost my luster for life and all things interesting. Not that I haven’t been involved in interesting things, but the landscape just seems a little dull at the moment.

I’d tell you that after a few weeks of trying to land a client through an online tutoring system, I ended up with not one, but two. And one of them led to another ongoing gig that wasn’t part of the online system. So I went from doing only my adjunct work to suddenly working an extra 17 hours this past week.

random numbersI’d tell you that I’ve found that I’m a real geek when it comes to helping people figure out how to use SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) and how to interpret their data. I mean this isn’t an entirely new discovery, but to work with someone over the phone for four hours over the course of two consecutive evenings really got me going. In fact, I had to rein it in so I didn’t get totally exhausted by my mental investment in the project. The client was thrilled and will be back in contact with me with a new data set in a few weeks.

I’d tell you that my other long-term tutoring project is working with a family with two children. Algebra, writing, and time management for the 7th grade boy and reading and math for a first grade girl. As we went through the week, the parents were willing to increase my hours (and days) to the extent I would be willing to take on more. I am currently figuring out how much I really am willing to do.

I’d tell you that I did manage to figure out what I’m doing for the back of Jack’s quilt. The quilt top is finished except for the final border, so now that I’ve solved the backing mystery, I am hoping to make some progress this week, and hopefully be ready to quilt next weekend. Unless I’m moving.

I’d tell you that the movers are scheduled to come on Thursday. Not to move my stuff, but to move the large things from the house I will be staying at to the owners’ new home. That means it may be possible for me to start moving some of the things from my parents’ house to the new location as early as next weekend. Nothing is really firm yet, but that’s the current status report. Within a couple of weeks, I may be posting from a new location.

nanopoblano2015lightI’d tell you that I’ve joined NanoPoblano, in which I will challenge myself (with a little help from the group to post every day in November). Check out the details at Rarasuar’s blog. This current post is my contribution for the first day of November. I am hopeful for the rest of the month, but I don’t kid myself: this will definitely be a challenge. At the same time, I’ve been wanting to do a month of daily posts for a while, so this seemed like a good time to join the crowd.  🙂

Thanks to Diana for hosting our coffee meet-up: Check it out at http://parttimemonster.com/2015/10/31/weekendcoffeeshare-this-is-halloween-please-dont-rain/