Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Two new cats

The city I'm in restricts household pets in this manner: no more than 5 (fish and parakeets are not specifically included on the list), no hooved animals (this is a city, not a farming community) and no noisy animals.
Our household total: about 60.
2 chickens
1 dog
2 cats
1 dinosaur fish
1 parakeet
the rest: snails.
My oldest daughter bought three snails when her plecostomus died, and they laid about 4 egg sacks before 1 of them died. She found out that the sacks are likely to contain 250 eggs. Fortunately only one of them hatched, and we are pretty sure that there are only 50 baby snails.
She also owns the chickens. She got two of them in a 7th grade science project. They ordered eggs and hatched them. Except for the ones they dissected before they hatched. Given that these are a) 7th graders and b) in a Christian school, OF COURSE they gave the teacher a hard time about condoning abortions. One of the chickens was a rooster, which is why I am familiar with city animal codes. So we found a home that would keep the rooster (and not eat it!) and went to find 2 more hens. Last summer it got up to 112 one day and one of the chickens died.
At which point she started agitating for another dog.
Then our Siamese died at the age of 20, and according to her we are short two animals.
My husband finally came to the same conclusion I did (2 kids, short 2 animals) and now we have two kittens, about a year old. Sasha is the grayish kitty, Emyli (don't you love how teenagers like cute spellings?) is the balck and white one.
So now our household is up to the full complement of animals again.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What goes overseas

...must, at some point, come home again.

Going through customs in LAX, we stood in the wrong line. But we weren't the only ones, because there were people who periodically went through the room telling US Citizens to go to these lines over here. (There are people suited for the job of telling others where to go -- but they are politicians instead). So we got to the right line and was delayed by a man who had not filled out the customs form -- he was going to fill it out in front of the agent. He was asked politely to go to the back of the line and fill it out there. He refused. He was asked politely again. He swore at her. He was told to go to the end of the line, and a larger (male) agent became his special escort.

His excuse for special treatment? He was a doctor. I guess he was too full of himself on the 12 hour flight to fill out a small form. Or maybe he needed help with his penmanship.

I wonder how he treats his patients.

And why does he want to make such a fool of himself?

My first western food: Burger King. I hate Burger King. (I prefer my fat to actually taste good.) But we didn't have much choice in that section of LAX. And, at 3:00 pm, having been unable to sleep on the plane, I probably didn't notice much in the way of taste.

Woke up in Taipei at 7:00 am Tuesday, was able to finally change clothes around just before midnight Tuesday, Pacific Time. Taipei was 17 hours ahead of us, so estimated time in the same underwear: 34 hours.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Aborigines, here and there

Two of the similarities between Taiwan and the US: the Chinese came to Taiwan about 400 years ago, same as my European ancestors. And they found natives living there. So we stopped at a reproduction aboriginal village near Sun Moon Lake. They had a dance program put on by several different tribes, and we got to pose for photos. (That is me on the far left.) Some of the dancing resembled those of the plains indians here in the US, complete with loincloths. We got to wander through the village and see how they used to live: food, crafts, hunting, etc. And they offered a lot of stuff for sale -- another similarity to the US!

I was astonished about the Northwest Coast Indian totem poles -- until the guide said they did that to honor other aboriginal groups around the world.

We have done the same thing here in the US. Seventeen years ago we had an opportunity to take our first Japanese kid to the Mayflower replica, Plimouth Plantation (yes, that is how it is spelled) and the Wampanoag indian village just south of Boston. They have reproduced the everything, complete with dirt floors and holes in the walls at Plimouth. There are actors who play the parts: ship captain, sawyers (they saw things), miscreants, housewives, etc. (There was also a gift shop, did you have to ask!) As we went back to our car, Yasuko asked "Do they actually live there? Like that?" (Something got lost in the translation, but give her a break. She had only been in the US for 3 weeks!) No, we told her, they are actors and they will go home to microwaves and sony walkmans and everything...

Unfortunately, I was running out of cash, and could only buy postcards at the aboriginal village. It would be nice to be independently wealthy.

Monday, January 01, 2007

finally, museums

I guess I should talk about museums. We went to two: the Taipei County Yingge Ceramics Museum and the Tittot Glass museum.

Here are their websites: (it is not working when I write this, but I know I've been there!)

I have nothing really amusing to say about either, except that they are worth a visit and worth far more than the two hours we spent at them (but staying longer would have made us late to the next meal). The guide at the ceramics museum was great -- she asked us questions about the exhibits and kept us thinking, which appeals to me. The one display that amused all of us was the modern toilets: apparently there is a local firm that manufactures them.

At the glass museum we could make our own glass beads, paint glass...and help the tour guide improve his pronunciation of "Mesopotamia".

The most unique place I've been (which really isn't saying much) is Taiwan Storyland. Again, here is the website: Warning: it is all in Chinese, except for the word "enter". Someone decided to recreate Taipei of can listen to descriptions of the police, dentist, doctor, school, hotels (in English!), you can eat there, buy food that was common then, buy a dish of ice cream that must have contained two quarts and was stacked at least a foot high; there was some World War 2 history. It was a great place to wander and actually sit down!

My regret? That I didn't buy more glass and pottery. It is a little hard to go back just for that.