I was really quite grumpy today. I think some days I do really well, other days I wonder why I’m here. So we finally got softer beds! Woo hoo! I can’t belive it. We also got more dressers and another shelf unit. I found out later from Helen that Ms. Liu hasn’t charged AMD for the extra furniture. Gotta fix that tomorrow. Droopy, Leah and Ms. Liu came over for the delivery and we played and played, Leah held the sleeping Vince in her arms while I rushed to fix the beds and such. For lunch, we went to the drivers license office and got Taiwan licenses. Then in the afternoon, we chased away the ghosts from the front of the house. Helen, Ms. Liu, Leah, Droopy and I all went to the front of our building and I put out a watermelon, kiwis, and mangos. I speared them with the sticks of incense and waited until they burned halfway down. Then we went over to the big flaming kettles and threw the incense in and followed it with paper money. Helen then took me to the fish market and the fish there looked so good. Yum! We went out to dinner with Sei-ping and Man fai and checked out the movie rental place nearby. Jeremy got his huge phone today, it’s really quite funny.

Yeager – sad news

So we got bad news from Emily on Wed. The Yeager-meister has cancer. It sounds like he has bone cancer that has spread to his heart and lungs. So Jeremy and I have decided not to bring him to Taiwan. Without knowing exactly how he is feeling, I just can’t bear the thought of him in quarintine for three weeks. Jeremy talked to Emy today and she is willing to be his nursing home. I was telling Jeremy that Emy is good at this kind of stuff, very clear-headed and calm, whereas I’d be a nervous wreck. I feel terrible for abandoning our furry feline in his time of need. That’s what really sucks about being so far away. So we got the news in the morning and Jeremy spoke with Emy today and it seems like Yeager is fine and in not too much pain. Which is a relief. I spent the morning after hearing the bad news at the Elephant Day care with Vince. He had his first taste of having a toy that he is playing with be taken away by another kid. He was quite unhappy. We went home at 10 am for a long nap, and I snacked during the day. Wed afternoon, I went to see Ms. Liu down at the realtor’s office, sat around for 1.5 hours shooting the breeze and playing with Droopy. It made me feel a little better. Everyone’s advice is to get another cat, but I want the Yeager-meister. Wed night, Vince was a bit upset because of his teeth, so I gave him a dose of Tylenol and he immediatly fell asleep at 8 pm for the night, which is unusual. Today, Thursday, we had a date with Kay Dee, Emily, Fran, and Grace to go to Taipei. I was originally thinking that we’d go see the “sea world” which seemed like fun, but I think that the Browns/Pellerins needed to do some more power shopping. I’m not sure what I really thought when they said that they needed to buy meat, it didn’t cross my mind as being unusual. But when we got there, I understood that this was no ordinary shopping trip. We loaded up van-fuls of stuff, salmon, steaks, chips ahoy, coloring books, cheerios, spaghetti sauce, chicken broth, etc! I really enjoyed hanging out with them, I’m really bummed that we don’t live closer. We went to Hola, B and Q and Costco. Whew. I’m beat. We also got a nice letter from our frient Cindy, who reported that Ruby and Monty are enjoying themselves.

I finally got up with Jeremy at 6:30 am. Was tough, Vince didn’t like it either. But I got all my morning chores done before 8 and so I walked over to the Elephant English school and spent a good part of the morning there. It’s really a lot of fun. I met the other english teacher who teaches upstairs to the older kids and watched them stand in a circle and sing and dance. Vince hit his head a number of times, once on the floor of the place and once in a crib while I was trying to lay him down. Ugh, it hurt for sure :). Then we went home and had some lunch and went to sleep together for about 2 hours! yipes. Then in the afternoon, I went to the RT mart and bought dinner, a chicken casserole, not too impressive this time and some delicious veggies. Then I went to the dry cleaners and then to the realtor’s office where I had a nice chat with Miss Liu. She’s a sweetie and with the kid and the dog, there is lots to talk about. Man Fai came over for dinner again and then we went and saw his apartment. We are about to get driver’s licenses and needed our pictures taken, so we went first to the RT mart, no luck. Then I remembered a photo place next to the dry cleaners and they take photos, we had fun, even took a family picture for the grandparents.

Today was our first working day at home. I’m trying to follow this website’s advice flylady.net to keep the house clean. We’ll see how it goes. I saw Droopy (our substitute Ruby) today and she was doing well. I also found some friends at the elephant english school. Met lots of little toddlers and it turns out that Vince and I are welcome anytime. That’s good. I went out and bought dinner and made meatloaf, which turned out pretty good. Man fai came over to eat, and we ended with a game of Trivial Pursuit.

wow, a day to relax. Spent the morning calling a lot of people in the US; my parents, Bob, Jasmine and Donald. Jasime sounded really good, she’s still teaching loads of AMDers. We just went shopping mostly. One trip to the RT Mart and one trip to the HomeBox. Both were quite successful. Jeremy and I are learning to call cabs; we’ve both had a few successful attempts, so I think we’ll be able to find our way around. For dinner, we had some delicious buns with pork and veggies stuffed into them. I think that Jeremy and I are getting a bit stressed out, sometimes we are a bit short with each other. Our apartment is coming together, we have the big pool right outside our window, it’s really nice to hear kids playing all day outside.

On Friday, we moved into our apartment. We said goodbye to Katherine at the front of the hotel and went back upstairs to pack all of our stuff. saying goodbye to the staff at the hotel was a bit traumatic, I’m going to miss them quite a bit. Then we moved all the stuff into our apartment and went to McDonalds for lunch. After lunch, we went back to our apartment to wait for our sea shipment to arrive. 31 boxes came by with no problem and we started unpacking. We had invited a bunch of collegues of Jeremy’s over for dinner tonight, so we called Helen, our realtor who has befriended us, to help us find a place to buy plates. she drove us to the middle of town, parked her car in front of a store with her double blinkers on and walked in with us in tow. We bought some night plates with blue-green fish painted on them. After that, we went to the RT mart to go shopping and buy some household goods. Today we went and met our nanny which was nice, we also had to prep a lot for dinner tonight. It was fun, Emily and Grace, the Browns & Pellerins 4 year old daughters ran around the house, we had a wonderful american spaghetti dinner with 3 bottles of wine polished off and a lot of discussion of who was doing what and marvelling at the fact that we were surviving in taiwan.

So today was Chinese Valentines Day. We had a good time giving out little chocolates in baskets to all the hotel staff. They were called “little cuties” in the department store next door. Everyone is very busy, the hotel here in Hsinchu is selling out every night, our pal Helen, the housekeeper, can’t stop for more than a few minutes to say hello. We also went swimming in the hotel pool today. Vince’s diaper swelled up into a cantelope-sized package. Went out to dinner with ManFai to a vegetarian restaurant, they had stinky bean curd which made the whole place a bit smelly

Trains in taiwan

So today we went to Keelung (which is really pronounced Gee-lung). “We” meaning Katherine, Vince and me. We took the really, really slow train up from Hsinchu, through Taipei and finally to Geelung. We left at 9:40 am and got there at 12:20 pm. There we met two nice women, one who won a fellowship to travel to the US and that’s how Katherine met her and the other is a freelance arts manager who can speak excellent English and could do some translation for us. We quickly had lunch from a fast-food joint because we were running a bit behind schedule. I had a pita filled with cheese, broccoli and chicken and we listened to Katherine’s friend give a lecture to 100 junior high school students at the Oceanic University located in the city. The students were pretty bored, she had to bribe them with little gifts to get them to answer questions about marine life around Taiwan. Then came the fun part! We all loaded onto buses to go to the dock (all 103 of us) and got into boats which took us to a beautiful island in the bay of Keelung. We walked around the island a little bit, the sun was so bright and beautiful, it was fabulous! The weather was so nice and the air and water so clean, Keelung has become my favorite Taiwan city. There was a little cave in the island that had been turned into a makeshift temple; full of figures, inscense, candles and offerings. Afterwards, we headed back to Keelung on the boats and on the way back, the wind was very strong, all the junior high school kids loved it! All along the handrails, the kids leaned into the wind and tried to get wet from the waves. Then we had a late afternoon snack with our hosts at a hotel overlooking the harbor and started on the long trip back to Hsinchu on a bus. Vince was great today, very happy. He even sat in a high chair for dinner. Here is a picture of him taking a bath!

Katherine in Taiwan

Today Katherine, Vince and I took a bus into Taipei, very quick and easy. We got to Taipei at about 11 and took a cab to the Sunshine kitchen, where we met a grant recipient that Katherine had met in New York. We had a wonderful lunch of noodles. I was expecting a tour of their facilities and perhaps the people they were serving (the elderly, the unemployed, etc…), but instead we got a wonderful tour of Nei-hu, a suburb of Taipei in a rented bus with the whole staff of Sunshine Kitchen. It is quite calm compared to downtown Hsinchu, full of Home Depot-type stores and Costos. We saw a bunch of streams and walking trails that they are renovating. We also went to the hilltop villa of a writer who had written a rather large picture book on the history of Nei-hu. His house had a little tea shop on the top and we sat around and drank wonderful aromatic tea and had him autograph a copy of the book. The air and the scenery from his villa was wonderfully. Taiwan is really quite beautiful once you lift the layer of pollution which drapes many of the major cities. On the way home, we took the Flying Dog bus company, Vince was very unhappy about the whole situation. a little boy’s mother saw how much we had been struggling with the V-man, that she handed back a McDonald’s toy to try and calm him down. It didn’t work too well.

Holland Village – home

Well now a week has passed, and with it our housing plan has changed again. I hope this week is the first that does not bring another revision in our housing plan. The crazy landlord discussed above apparently got herself so worked up thinking about boorish folks like up mucking up her apartment that the deal fell apart completely. First she discussed adding a restriction that no pets be allowed. The realtor reminded her that bringing pets had always been part of the deal. Then she decided it was all right for us to have pets, provided that we took them out of the apartment whenever we left, suggesting we bring them down to the guard shack to keep an eye on them when we were not home. Of course, this is absurd, and when the realtor told us what was going on, we decided we had certainly had enough of this crazy lady, no matter how pretty her apartment is. So that arrangement was canceled, and we went back to house hunting the same afternoon. They found two more units in the same Holland Village complex. One of them was just fine, with 4 bedrooms, standard issue white tile floors, and our choice of furniture. We chose one of them ,picked some furniture out of a catalog, and will be able to move in about 10 days from then, between the 8th and 10th of August. This will leave us all a little cozy in our hotel when Mother shows up, but that will be fine. I just hope that this arrangement doesn’t fall through as well. Apparently the landlord of this unit said that pets were fine. In fact, they said that we could raise chickens or anything else we wanted, with the exception of elephants. So I think this is an promising starting point, and I hope our hunt is finally over