Thursday, June 29, 2006

June update

Well, the month has nearly come to a close, and I've had nothing for you since the 11th. Sorry about that. We are three weeks and a few days into our five-week home visit, and the time is flying by. It's always nice to come back, but I am so grateful for this chance to be with my dad especially; he keeps apologizing that we can't do much because of his injuries, but I'm just thankful that he's still around.

We had a great time in Chelan. Our unit was right on the lakeshore, so we had a lovely view of the first night's thunderstorm (not a hit with Miss Nora), as well as brilliant sunshine reflecting off the water the rest of the week. Lake Chelan is fed from snowmelt, and none of us are crazy enough to brave the cold, but we enjoyed the warmer pools, took a paddleboat out for a spin, played a few rounds of putt-putt golf and many hands of cards. The first few nights we built some roaring fires, but the crackle and pop was, again, too much for the wee flincher, so we gave up on them.

This last week has been a bit of a family reunion with my sister, brother, brother-in-law and niece all around. We celebrated my parents' anniversary yesterday and spent today in the garden weeding and lopping--all the things my mom has had to set aside while she's been caring for my dad. Her gardens are always beautiful, so it was a pleasure to help restore them to something closer to her ideal.

Cole and his uncle spent a day this week building a fort in the woods. I'm hoping they can camp out in it next week--once the railing is up, that is. We've also spent some mornings exploring the bay at low tide this week: we spotted lots of crab, clams, geoducks, tiny flounder, a moonsnail or two, and the odd starfish. Cole and a friend built sandcastles and moats, then watched the rising tide melt them all away.

The days have been warm, though cool by Kaohsiung standards; I've only worn shorts once since I've been here. I see on my Weather Underground sticker that the days are hot and rainy back home. The crazy thing is, if you go to the Underground website it says the Kaohsiung high today will be only 84, while at the same time telling you that with the heat index the current 94 actually feels like 104. (This is how weathermen hedge their bets.) Despite the heat, I'm looking forward to getting home. It's been a long time without my Tim, and I look forward to getting back into our routines and having some family time before the school year kicks into gear.

The next week or so will be busy with visits and shopping; I will post again once we're home, and hopefully have some pictures to share.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The other side of the pond

We made it! It's been a week now, so jet-lag is mostly behind us and we're having a great time. It was a huge relief to finally see my dad, and I'm so encouraged by the progress he's made since we got home. We are off to central Washington on Monday, a trip I wasn't sure he would be up for - but he is, and we're all looking forward to some swimming and sunning in Chelan. It will still be another month until he's on his feet, but every day he gets a little closer.

The kids traveled well, and both are having a good time with their grandmas and grandpas, although Nora is pretty sure she'd like to go back home now, anyway. She has had this idea that we should just get a different airplane, ever since I told her ours won't be ready for a few weeks yet. She was thrilled when we drove past the Boeing factory - those triple-7's were calling her name. It wasn't pretty when I drove right by, though (I mean, it was a shopping trip, for crying out loud - couldn't we even stop and browse?). I'm not sure if she's more interested in actually getting home, or just getting back on a plane, where Donald-Duck-on-demand beams down from the seat back in front of you, and pretty xiaojie's come calling when you press the right button.

Cole is enjoying himself, having discovered great troves of books to sink into. His Grandpa Marc took him clamming this morning in Dugualla Bay - which reminds me, I think there are some gifts of the sea in Cole's pocket I need to deal with.

I am enjoying myself, too. I find I am less irritated by - well, by America - than I was four years ago when I came home after our first year in Taiwan. Yes, the people here are huge; yes, everything is too expensive; yes, people still think I live in Thailand. Still, it doesn't bother me like it used to. Maybe I dealt with it all that first visit home, and it's not a shock anymore. Or maybe I feel less defined by American culture now, and therefore don't suffer the same pangs of disenchantment. Either way, it makes for a pleasanter visit, and for that I'm grateful.

Tomorrow is a busy day, with a low, low tide, maybe some sun breaks, and two kids who could use some tide-pool adventures. We're happy to be here. I hope you are having a good summer, too, wherever you are.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Busy times

Sorry to go so long without posting... and this one's going to be short. The kids and I leave tomorrow morning for Seattle (hooray!). Our bags are packed, but not very full, so I'm a little worried about stuff shifting around. I'm fighting the urge to throw in more sweaters.

My dad is doing better every time I talk to him; not on his feet yet but getting there. I'm very relieved to be headed home so I can just be close to him and my mom. This last month has been a challenge.

Tim is off to Beijing to start his graduate studies next week. Cole will be a fourth-grader after tomorrow. Nora may have preschool on her horizon once we're back, and I'm looking at a theology program through University of London for myself come fall. It's going to be a busy year ahead!

Taiwan continues to thrill and amaze. That is perhaps one of the reasons that it's so addictive (many people who leave find themselves back here within a couple years). Never a dull moment, either inside or out: it's not just the cultural differences, but how you adapt and grow because of them. The most dramatic landscapes are those which are beaten and thrashed by natural forces, and that describes, if a bit violently, the effect of living in such a foreign environment. So it will be good to be home – as much as one can go home. That's a whole other cultural adjustment for us now.

I will post a bit while we're back in the states. Hoping to see a few of you while we're there.