Ten Things of Thankful: The Quick Edition

TenThingsBannerWe left the house at 6:20 am this morning, and got back at nearly 9:30 pm. But it’s been a good day. And that is something to write Ten Things of Thankful about, even if it’s quick. Details about today’s trip (with pictures) will follow, but it’s closing in on my bedtime.  🙂

I am thankful for:

1. The ticket agent who found us seats on the express train. We just had to change seats once we got to Taipei.

2. The lovely view of the ocean on our way to the Luodong train station.

3. The wonderful visit at the National Center for Traditional Art.

4. The puppet show and live theater performance at the NCTA.

5. A husband who takes cool photos for me.

6. A most amazing student from one of last year’s writing classes who invited us for this great adventure.

7. A most amazing iced latte at a local coffee shop.

8. An amazing breakthrough on two projects that I’ve been stuck on. (This could generate its own thankful list in a day or two if it continues.)

9. Getting a taxi with no wait at the train station when we got home.

10. Getting my 400th blog follower while I was checking email and blog comments after we got home. My little orange guy lit up with a new follower. I checked, and it was #400.

Awesome day!

Pictures to follow.

For now, I’m off to bed!  🙂

265 days to 60!





Ten Things of Thankful: Tuesday Thoughts

TenThingsBannerI didn’t post a Ten Things of Thankful last week, but I did have a draft nearly completed. It was called the Ironic Edition, because there were many parts of my life that weren’t going that great, and yet I was still able to find things to be thankful for. Unfortunately, I forgot to save that draft, and when I went back to finish it, it was gone. And I moved on. In other words, I didn’t rewrite it at that time. I just posted something else that day. So here we go, with regular saving of drafts.  🙂

1. I am thankful for all my wonderful friends around the world, but today I’m especially thankful for the two young women in the photo below. Between the two of them, they have helped me in countless ways. They are both excellent translators, so when Dave and I get mail in Chinese or we see a posting in the apartment elevator, one of them always helps us out. They also translate take-out menus and the Chinese words in the photos Dave takes at the stores when he wants to know the details about something before he buys.

100_0642Dante (on the left) was part of the fabric play craziness last week. And yesterday, she showed us around some of her hometown (pictures and details in future post). Today, she sent me directions for my appointment (see #2) when I left my map at home. During the school year, she comes over one evening a week to help me with paperwork and odd jobs.

Rena (on the right) was my student the very first year I was in Taiwan, and she and I have been friends ever since. She has spent many working sessions with me at coffee shops. She visited the ceramics museum with me a few weeks back, and she’s my regular partner for The Shen Yun dance performance that I now attend each year (2015 will be our third time).

2. I am thankful for the wonderful health care in Taiwan, that the majority of the doctors here can speak English (as my Chinese is amazingly bad), and that the doctor I saw today made me feel like we were a team in managing my care. And I am thankful to my friend Jean for recommending him.  ❤

routemap2013123. I am thankful for the amazing transportation system here in Taiwan. I knew that it would be a challenge to get to this doctor, and it was: a bus to the train station, a train to Taipei, the MRT (subway) to the part of the city I needed, and then a 20 minute walk. But hey, with the walk each way, I got my exercise in. I am also thankful for how reasonable the transportation is. If I hadn’t taken the scenic route home–don’t ask–I would have paid less than $8.00 US for the round trip. (The map on the left is the for the MRT. They are still expanding this system, but it’s pretty impressive.)

4. I am thankful for my detour today. Even though it cost me a couple extra dollars (and a lot of time), I saw more of Taipei, learned more about how to get from one part of the city to another, and actually enjoyed the process of figuring out my alternate route home, piece by piece. As a bonus, I got extra exercise AND lunch at a restaurant I hadn’t tried before.

5. I am thankful that early on in my adventure (in #4 above), I decided that I didn’t need to worry about being productive today. I decided to view this day as a gift of time. I could take this day and just enjoy the adventure that was unfolding. I decided I only needed to get two things done today: this post and a little research. Which leads to #6.

6. I am thankful for the Internet and the amazing source of information that is available. After today’s appointment, I had a lot to think about, and being able to get reliable information was reassuring and informative.

kite7. I am thankful for the people who sponsor the challenges I’ve been participating in: Green Embers and the Building Room Challenge; Cee at Cee’s Photography for Share Your World; Indecisive Eejit and Mental Mama for the Cartoon Craziness Challenge; and all the people who pass around the If We Were Having Coffee meme.

8. I am grateful to the people who follow my blog, who read my blog, who comment on my blog, and who like my posts. This blogging experience continues to be a great help to me, and I appreciate everyone who interacts with me in some way.

9. I am grateful for the discoveries I’m making in the Cartoon Craziness Challenge about drawing and the need to practice. That it can be developed, and that it can be fun, and that it’s something I’ve kept on the back burner far too long. OK, I actually kept it totally away from the stove. But I’m glad I brought it back into the kitchen.

10. I am grateful the scraps of fun and hope that I am finding in my life, and for the people who join me and support me in the search.

And I am thankful for Lizzi at Considerings and the others who host Ten Things of Thankful.


Ten Things of Thankful: End of July Edition

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnyone who has read more than one or two of my blog posts knows that coffee in one form or another is something I’m always thankful for. There have even been posts about specific coffee places I’ve visited. Since several of the items in my Ten Things of Thankful post this week are related to Pisces Coffee, I’m including a few pictures that my husband took while we were there.


  1. I am thankful for Pisces Coffee Shop, especially because it is part of my summer exercise routine AND a place where I can get a coffee reward for completing the exercise routine. WIN! Initially, it was my goal to walk the ten minutes there — with coffee and work tasks during my visit — and then walk the ten minutes home at least three times a week. With such a good system in place, it’s often closer to 5 days a week. Of course, when the semester starts in full swing, I will be going less, but I plan to keep it as part of my fitness/productivity plan. BONUS: During those weeks when we didn’t have air conditioning at home, I was especially thankful that they have air conditioning. It is an excellent place to go and “chill out” while getting some work done. They also have Wi-Fi!
  2. I am thankful for my former students who become friends. This week, Lynn — one of the few lucky students who had me for TWO courses last semester — met me at Pisces on Wednesday. We had a lovely time catching up and learning more about one another. We have both been involved in Summer Camps this year, so we had lots to talk about.
  3. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m thankful that my current hassles with my leg infection are under control. As a result, I’ve been cleared to return to Curves to resume my regular exercise program for August. I had been going from November of 2013 until the end of April of this year, before the doctors told me to stop. So I’m glad to be able to go back. And yes, we have Curves in Taiwan!  🙂
  4. I am thankful that I not only maintained the weight loss I’ve had since November of 2013, but during July, I lost an additional 3 pounds. This was great, considering that I wasn’t going to Curves  for the last three months. That was when I had substituted the walking to Pisces, along with continuing to watch what I eat. The goal was to maintain, so when I lost a little more, I was very pleased. I am optimistic that I’ll see a boost in the rate of loss when I resume my Curves schedule. I will keep up the walking as well. The combo should be awesome.
  5. I am thankful that we finally have our new air-conditioner. Our landlord arranged to have it installed last week, and it’s been wonderful to be able to sleep comfortably again.
  6. I am thankful that I still have six weeks left to tackle several major projects on my to-do list before my teaching schedule starts up again.
  7. I am thankful that in spite of my recent lethargy, I’ve been able to maintain daily blog posts for nearly two weeks. I am also thankful for all the people who follow me and who let me know what they’re thinking. The connections I’ve made on WordPress are really helping me feel stronger. Sometimes, when nothing else seems to get me moving, I feel that there are people out there waiting for me to post something. And it works!  🙂
  8. I am thankful that my husband found an ironing board at a consignment shop for half the price of a new one.
  9. I am thankful that we are setting up a different workspace for me. BONUS: I can sew in the air-conditioned bedroom!
  10. I am thankful that I have a whole fresh month ahead of me, a chance to start again. Let’s hear it for August!

Thank you to Lizzi at Considerings  for coordinating Ten Things of Thankful. Check it out and join in if you’d like.  


And one more photo: Here I am outside of Pisces. I have been successful at avoiding this lovely pastry window MOST of the time.  I gave in once when my husband offered to get me a treat (and give the owners some extra business) in exchange for their ongoing kindnesses to me.  🙂


Ten Things of Thankful: Summer Camp Edition

10553603_904662536216968_1254067680936128336_nIn my Building Rome post this week, I mentioned that my week was busy with teaching at an English Summer Camp held at our university. It was the first time our the university had held such an event. It was an intense, but fun four days. On Monday morning, we met 30 young people–ages 10-16–who stayed with us for four days and three nights.

From the time I was first asked about doing this way back in February, I’ve been thinking about the different lessons I could do. But it took the pressure of getting those materials actually ready for production that really got me moving. And even after we started, I made some adjustments. There’s something especially interesting about doing something for the first time. So many aspects of the situation can’t be predicted. Still, I have much to be thankful for during this last week.

  1. I am thankful for 30 enthusiastic young people from many places around Taiwan to join in our activities, even as we were figuring out the details and making adjustments as we went.
  2. I am thankful for my fellow teachers, Megan and Judy, who were a joy to work with. We also continued bouncing ideas off each other during lunch and other encounters in the hallways.
  3. 10557378_897939373553681_3076575304406176014_nI am thankful for the teaching and residential assistants. They are the ones who stayed with the kids in the dorms. Each of the three teachers spent an evening with the group, but these students from our Department of Applied English were totally awesome and they did so much to make our lives easier. It was especially good for me, since I’m the teacher with the least time in Taiwan (of the three) and the weakest spoken Chinese.  Because of the efforts of the TAs, I was able to communicate with all the campers, regardless of their English ability.
  4. I am thankful for the support staff who helped with the organization, the preparation, the printing, the errands, the shopping for baking supplies, the paperwork, and just anything that needed to be done. And everyone was so cheerful the whole time.
  5. I am thankful for the air conditioning in our classrooms. Which will make more sense after you read #6.
  6. I am thankful that I got an email after Day 2 of Summer Camp that our landlord bought a new air conditioner for our apartment. We thought it would be installed by now, but still, it will happen within the next couple of days for sure. I’m pretty sure it will show up on next week’s list. Living in a place where the standard daytime temperature is 85-90 every day with high humidity. Yeah, even if it’s only in the bedroom, having a place where I can chill is a good thing.  🙂
  7. I am thankful for my husband, Dave, who went way beyond the call of duty in terms of making sure I had the materials I needed, the iced coffee I wanted needed, and lunches that he went and gathered each day from the cafeteria down the hill. When I miscalculated how long some activities might take, he saved the day by searching for extra videos and materials I could use that were related to my topics. He helped keep the sun tea project going between classes, took photos, and carried my materials back and forth. Thanks, Honey!  ❤
  8. I am thankful that the camp was a huge success. The students seemed to have a good time. The siblings, parents, and grandparents who came for the talent show and closing activities were quite taken with things, if the number of times we were photographed is any indication. 
  9. I am thankful that it was only four days. As much fun as it was, it was very demanding, and I needed some downtime to get my mental faculties back up and running.
  10. I am thankful for the memories and for the new friendships that were made with teachers, campers, and TAs.10303749_10204143685053114_4391656008739241687_n


Thank you to Lizzi at Considerings  for coordinating Ten Things of Thankful. Check it out and join in if you’d like.  




Ten Things of Thankful: A Taiwan Coffee Edition

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you follow this blog at all, you know I’m crazy for coffee shops. You may even know I’m just crazy, but that can be our little secret.

During the last couple of years, I spent a fair amount of time at a coffee shop called Lovely Beans. The menu changed a couple of times during those two years, but the coffee was a constant–an excellent constant. A couple months back, Mina closed that shop to open a new pasta and coffee shop in Taoyuan City–two bus trips from me, and we finally tracked her down on Monday. As you can see in the picture at the left.

  1. I’m thankful for the reasonable taxi fares in Taiwan. In five years, I’ve never had a car, or worse, a scooter (motorcycle). Buses, walking, and taxis have served us well. For longer distances, there is a good train system throughout Taiwan and an MRT (subway) in Taipei.
  2. I’m thankful for the time my husband spent online tracking down how to find the new shop. He had even explored the bus routes that it would take to get us there. One downtown, and then another to the part of town where the shop was. His mapping and other investigation paid off. On Monday, after we took care of some errands downtown, he surprised me by suggesting that we visit the new shop. It turns out we were not far from it at all. A great diversion!
  3. We found the place without too much trouble, only to discover that it wouldn’t open for dinner until 5. In her new shop, she closes (like many such places) between lunch and dinner–in her case, between between 2:30 and 5:00. That might not sound like something to be thankful about, but I ended up at a 7-11 not TOO far away, sipping an iced latte while working on a project that wouldn’t have gotten started for another week or so.
  4. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter settling me in at 7-11 (no other real coffee shops in that particular area), he wandered the neighborhood to see what else was there. He also went to Mina’s shop at 5 to make sure she was actually there before having me walk back there. She was. Dave came to get me, and we headed over to the pasta shop (see photo on right).
  5. Mina greeted me with a huge smile and a hug and led us to a table. Here’s the fun part. My Chinese is pretty crappy, i.e. I can order iced coffee without sugar in Chinese and be understood (if I’m in a coffee shop, where it makes sense in context).  Mina’s English consists of “I don’t know,” and “I love you.” Which brings us to trying to order dinner.
  6. I am thankful that Mina has a basic idea of what we like to eat. We have a way of signaling shrimp by curling our pointer finger. Rice is shown with a little space between finger and thumb. Sauce could be selected  by colored lettering on the menu (at least for red–meat sauce and green–pesto). Dave wanted cream sauce and I was struggling to figure out that one, when Mina pointed to the white space between sections on the menu. Whew! Dinner ordered.  🙂
  7. I am grateful for the wonderful food and for the iced latte–don’t judge, I like my coffee. Mina makes a mean latte! She came and sat with us several times, as the shop was busy, but not crazy.
  8. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am grateful for Mina’s generosity in giving us an amazing discount on our dinner.
  9. I am grateful for her help in getting us home afterwards. We could catch a bus to the train station area of downtown and then take our regular bus home. Or take a taxi. We were leaning toward the taxi, as it had been kind of a long day at that point. Mina offered (through our unique form of communication) that she would help us get the cab and tell him where we were going. What she DIDN’T tell me is that she planned to slip the fare to the driver for our ride.
  10. I am grateful for this special friendship. It’s true that if we have something specific that has to be communicated, we need Google Translate or another person who can translate for us. But in spite of our spoken language barrier, we somehow manage to convey our care for one another. I may not be able to visit Mina’s new shop as often as I did the one in my neighborhood, but I will always treasure the times we do have together.




And a TTofT (Ten Things of Thankful) HONORABLE MENTION TO Not a Punk Rocker. She often starts her list during times of insomnia and doesn’t always guarantee their readability. So when she changed her ways this week, she offered an item that we could use on our list. I had ten things already, but nice to know she offered this just in case: “I didn’t have to read insomnia dreck and got an early TToT post instead!”


Thank you to Lizzi at Considerings for setting this blog hop up every week.  If you want to join, go on over to link in and then check out what others are saying about their weeks too!