Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Elephants and bumblebees

We had a gorgeous couple of days early last week: really blue sky, billowing white clouds, warm breezes and sunshine. It was perfect. The winds brought with them a change in the weather, though. Thursday's mugginess turned to leaden skies, and by midday the first thunderstorm of the season was upon us. Nora and I were returning from downtown and had a great view of the approaching storm from the elevated freeway. As we pulled into the school the first flash of lightning arced just beyond our campus walls (or so it seemed), so I hurried to prepare Nora for the thunder. I told her that we'd be hearing a big boom-boom-boom, but not to be scared; it was just like elephants walking around. Immediately the thunder rolled over us, and Nora buried her head in her hands: "I don't like elephants!" We made it home, getting drenched in the short walk from car to door. The storm lingered for several long, rumbling hours. Nora hid her face at every flash, but was as brave as she could be. We pulled the blinds and put on loud music to keep the scary stuff away.

The weekend brought cool days, lots of rain, and nothing but grey in every direction. It made Easter feel a whole lot like Easter in the Northwest, though, so it was rather homey (I even wore a sweater). Now and then, though, Nora would peek at the drizzling skies and say, "Elephants are scary," or, "I don't like bumblebees." This last part is a puzzle. Maybe it's how she's remembering the word thunder, or perhaps it's an association with lightning. Whatever it is, I'm afraid she'll be off bees and pachyderms for a while.

We also had a little excitement underfoot. Easter morning, about 6:40, Tim and I were shaken awake by another temblor, same location as before but not quite as strong (6.2). And again this morning, about 9:30, a weaker but nearer quake (4.8, in Chiayi) gave us a little jolt. I suppose it's good to release the built up pressure in a series of quakes like this, but it is a little unnerving. If the weather cooperates we plan to go camping in Taitung with some friends this week, so any more quakes will be right under our noses. I think, though, I'd rather be in a tent on the beach than just about anywhere else.

I didn't feel these last two quakes coming, by the way. I guess my career as a human earthquake prognosticator is dashed. Not a job I really wanted anyway. Too much pressure.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Photo update

Some time back I promised to post some pictures from the New Year's market; I finally got to it last night, so you can check them out here. I published them under the date they were taken (January), so if you go to the Formosa Fix page you have to scroll down a little to see them. (And remember, you can click on an image to see it full-screen.)

If you haven't stopped by in a while, come take a look!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Good Friday

Perhaps it's the influence of my German Lutheran roots, but Good Friday is becoming one of my favorite holy days. No Hallmark cards, no candy, no gifts – well, one immense gift (salvation), but no attempt to reduce that to a human level by wrapping up trifles in Good Friday paper bedecked with nails and thorns. It's a day that humbles me and restores my focus; it's a day I feel my insignificance and wonder at the love of our God.

I hope you all have a blessed and peaceful Easter.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

River Town

I've been reading Father Brown for ages – that's what I get for starting the complete works, I guess. I haven't made much headway with Answering God, although I like it. But it needs to be read at a table with a Bible and journal and pen at hand, and I've been trying to read it in bed. I've picked up River Town again, a favorite of mine that I'd lent out and just got back. If you're looking for a peek into life in China, which bears some resemblance to life in Taiwan, I recommend it. Of course the political situation is not the same, but many of the other social traits are intact in the Chinese population here. It's a very funny book, covering two years in the life of a Peace Corps volunteer in an isolated Sichuan town – his reaction to the people, their reaction to him, his struggles with the language and culture. It's excellent; I'd love to see a sequel. The author, Peter Hessler, had an article in a recent New Yorker about life in Beijing, so I'm hoping another book is in the works. I'll have to look for it this summer.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Just wanted to plug my cooking page. I've got a few recipes to choose from now, so check it out!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Loud neighbors

I don't know what the event was, but something was going on next door today. I was startled out of my seat when a string of firecrackers was thrown on a burn barrel in front of the warehouse across the street. Cole very thoughtfully ran to Nora's room to see if the noise had awakened her, while I ran for my camera and headed out to the balcony. There wasn't much to see, though, but the preparations of a party. Tables were being set, basins of water and baskets of fruit were laid out; and amid the bustle one woman walked slowly around the tables with long sticks of incense in her right hand, rapping her left hand with them in a steady rhythm. Evil spirits were being warned away, the ones that hadn't heeded the round of fireworks.

We went downtown soon after, so I missed the rest of the evening's festivities. I don't know if there was a wedding, or if perhaps the farmers were having a banquet for their laborers. As we pulled out of our gate, which faces this building directly, a couple men leaning against their truck looked at us and smiled. I waved, and they waved back, but that's as far as it went. They didn't invite us to their party, and we didn't expect them to. I'm kind of sorry we went out, though. I would have had a great view of their festivities from up here.

I'm such a snoop.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Spring forward

It's 8:30 p.m. and 80ยบ. Where did spring go? It's like we reset our season while you were resetting your clocks. Time to put my sweaters away (again).

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Rock 'n roll

Not sure if it made much news where you are, but on Saturday a 6.4 quake in Taitung (about 60 miles from here) had our building shaking for a good long while. There was a little damage on the 6th floor: new cracks in the plaster, some broken pottery. But except for some kitchen drawers askew, we had nothing to show for it two floors down. It was pretty unnerving, though. All four of us were home, and once we realized that the quake was getting stronger we headed for doorframes. We now know that isn't the safest. Next time we'll lie down next to an inside wall or next to a couch or bed. Hmm. Next time.

The unsettling part for me is that, once again, I felt it coming. All of March I'd been thinking we were overdue, though if I gave it a little more thought, I felt like it was not quite time. On Saturday morning, as I sat at the computer, the thought came to me again, and I felt strongly enough about it that I considered blogging it. But then I shook off the idea and went about my day. The quake was at 6:00 that evening. Weird, huh? Next time I'll follow my impulse and we'll see how accurate I really am.