More exercise is on my horizon. Not as a New Year's resolution (my last one was circa 1989: "No more resolutions"), but as an avoidance technique. I bought a new pair of Levi's last week at Costco. No fitting room, of course, so I bought a size that resembles my impression of myself and took them home. I find that I can get all five buttons done, but another inch in the waist would have been nice. However, making a return is about as appealing as gum surgery, so I'll hit the treadmill instead. I have no gripe with my bathroom scale (don't worry, Mom!), but it would help to get a bit firmer in places.
I don't usually buy clothes at Costco - or anywhere in Taiwan - but my favorite jeans have reached a critical stage of fragmentation. A spot below the right rear pocket is going threadbare, to the point that I've been using duct tape to keep the weft in place. I tape it on the inside, which actually works pretty well. (I dropped this bit of information into conversation the other night when I was compared to Dennis the Menace's mother - you know, the perfectly polished appearance belying the fact that she's about to pull her hair out. I think my tailoring technique put a damper on that idea.)
Despite my long-standing no-resolutions resolution, I feel an urge this year to make changes: more discipline, more writing, more stretching, and stretching my boundaries, particularly regarding speaking Chinese. (Some people live in Taiwan for years and years yet speak very little of the language; I understand why it happens, but I don't want it to happen to me.) My first priority, though, is to get into a better devotion habit. I've been reading a lot of Bible-related texts lately, but if I'm going to get anything out of them I have got to spend more time in quiet meditation. Our women's Bible study is beginning a new book on prayer, so I'm hopeful that it will get me moving in the right direction.
Chinese New Year is right around the corner. I don't know if there is a resolution aspect to it; I know it's a time to be with family and to clean the house. Old debts must be paid (which leads to an increase in property theft this time of year), and red envelopes full of cash are handed out quite generously to the children. In our village it's a week of drinking and fireworks, each for casting out various demons. This will be the Year of the Dog, which happens to be my year (so for those of you who don't know how old I am, I have narrowed it down to a multiple of 12). This supposedly makes me loyal, which is not a bad attribute. I'm not a dog person, though, in general. I hope they don't kick me out of the club.
I feel like we're in a lull at the moment, with the Western holidays just behind us and the Chinese holidays over the next hill. It's good to have a breather. My parents are coming in a few weeks, which we're all very excited about. But for now I feel a bit empty, with not a lot to say (she says, 500 words later). The pineapple fields have been lovely these recent mornings, mellow browns and greens with a bit of gloss to them. I've been meaning to get a picture from the roof so you can see the patterns in them. That's a theme I've wanted to pursue, photographically: order in chaos, the places where the human hand has brought a bit of control to an otherwise unruly landscape. I think I'll work on that for next time. Stay tuned.