Coasters

April 30, 2017

Coasters

For Christmas, I gave Mom several presents, including a set of artisan felted wool coasters The set consisted of two yellow coasters and two blue coasters, with an artsy silkscreened design on the top of each coaster.  

After a few months, I noticed that Mom consistently used the blue coasters on the correct side and the yellow coasters turned over to wrong side.

"You don’t like the yellow coasters?" I asked her one day.

"It’s fine."

"Then why do you turn it over to this side?"

"What’s the difference?"

I flipped the coaster over.  "This side is the design side."

"Either one.  No difference."

"There’s a difference:  This is the design side . . . this is not the design side."

"It’s you who buys it, not me."

"That’s true, but I intended for you to use the design side."

"And I intend to use the non-design side as the design side," she said.


Snack

April 24, 2017

Snack
I feel especially Asian when I drink jasmine tea and dine on heroin-sprinkled, crispy lotus slices.

Two trays o' food

April 23, 2017

Two trays o' food

I'm going to start posting random photos from my collection of Japanese home decor magazines, since I love the combination of Japanese kanji/hirigana/katakana with impeccable styling/photography/layout.  

This one is from a magazine called Kawaii [Something], Volume 2.  I have no idea what the second word is.  

At the top of the cover, there are some characters that read "putesuito na interia to [something] hon."  Something interior and something book.  aahhh I don't know.  


Guest Closet

April 18, 2017

Guest Closet

On Sunday (Mom’s only day off), I tried to cajole Mom into organizing the guest bedroom closet, which houses her collection of cheapo pastel cotton clothing that she enjoys buying from one of Dad's medical patients out of their home store/garage.  You can’t walk into the closet without getting irritated by the plastic bags housing giant, billowy comforters that take up most of the floor and tangle with your feet like leeches.

Mom grumbled about not wanting to clean, but followed me into the guest room anyway.

In addition to the usual jumble, there were several other bags crowding the floor.  Mom brings five bags to and from work, and tosses them around randomly when she gets home.

I watched as she rummaged through everything, unearthing Tupperware, smashed newspaper clippings, various-SPF tinted moisturizer tubes, Sudoku fun time, crumb-filled magazines, piles of scratch paper cut into random sizes, bobby pins, medical billing papers, crunchy Japanese broad beans, hairbrushes, and library books featuring knitting tutorials, British writers and Taiwanese schoolteachers.

She paused when she reached a mysterious plastic bag.

“What’s this?  Oh!”

It was salami and a jolly trio of Trader Joe's cheeses.

“How long has this been here?” I asked.

She couldn’t remember.  “Four days?” she mused.  She opened the salami and commenced a smörgåsbord. 


Jiufen

March 22, 2017

Jiufen

“Ever been to Jiufen?” I asked Mom.  

“No.”

“You should go!  It has a nice view of the sea.  It’s rumored to be the city that inspired Spirited Away.  And they have the best gweh I’ve ever tasted - your favorite, with taro and the green one with radish or whatever the chewy stuff is.”

She looked skeptical.  “How did you get there?  You don’t speak the language.”

I know thirty words in Mandarin, and speak Taiwanese at a four-year-old level.

“The guide book.”

“How did you buy a ticket?”

“I went to the ticket office.”

“What did you say?”

“Wo beh ki Jiufen.  Wo beh beh i-ge pyoh.”  

Mom chortled.  

 

Before the hour-long bus ride to Jiufen, I wandered around the street looking for breakfast.  I’d left the hostel without eating, and thought I’d find a Family Mart or 7-11 and grab a 7NT tea egg or a 30NT freshly-roasted yam.  

The only to-go snack I found was a cart selling pan-fried baozi.  I bought two bao, each under two inches in diameter, and walked back to the bus stop, eating.  It was super delicious.

Several cabs lined the curb.  Each driver offered to take me to Jiufen for a good price.

“Wo ooh pyoh,” I told them.

One of them wanted to know where I was from, why I spoke Taiwanese instead of Mandarin, since most people my age spoke Mandarin, why was I in Taiwan by myself, and why didn’t I just use his taxi, it would be so much faster and easier for a clueless tourist like me to get to Jiufen.  Why wait forever for a slow bus?  I explained and politely declined, and he continued to pester me.  We eventually had an argument, during which I dropped my second bao.

I ran back to the bao stand, but the vegetable bao were sold out.  

“Mayo (none),” the guy said unsympathetically.  He had thought it was weird that I only wanted two bao.

I thought about the bao during the bus ride.

When we arrived in Jiufen, everyone clambered off the bus and booked it towards an alley.  I followed the masses and bought something from the first popular stall - a bowl of pretty pastel taro and sweet potato balls in a clear purple-gray soup.

I sat next to a gold-and-black stray cat on a concrete ledge overlooking the sea and ate the lightly sweet chewy balls (called yuyuan and diguayuan, or tang yuanand soup, feeling lucky that I hadn’t purchased fifty dumplings and arrived in Jiufen stuffed.

I get full quickly, so I had to pass up most of Jiufen's scrumptious snacks in favor of not exploding.  After leaving the Old Street, I took a bus up to the Gold Mine Museum and explored the peaceful surrounding mountainside.  The day was drizzling and gray, and clouds drifted into the mountain range.  I explored enticing vine-covered paths and stairs that made me feel like I was in a Miyazaki film. 


Cats

January 28, 2017

Cats

Two orange tabby brothers followed us home in December.  They lived with us for five weeks, snuggling, wrestling, running around like madmen and punching each other in the face, until their owners saw our “found” signs (which had been posted in front of their house for weeks).  

Chupa misses them a ton.  They shredded furniture, ate my expensive paintbrushes, pawed wet paintings and shoved my brush around whenever I painted, but they were cute and soft fuzzballs.


Out for a Stroll

January 11, 2017

Out for a Stroll
I'm laptop-free for the next week, since an orange demon (a stray cat we took in) ate my laptop screen.  I'll try to join these bears for some outings.

Sakura

January 03, 2017

Sakura

Several years ago, Mom and I visited Japan during cherry blossom season.  While there, Mom found out that her mom had cancer and was awaiting surgery in the hospital.

That night, Mom lay on the bed in our room at the ryokan.  “Emmie, my mom is sick . . . what if I lose her?” she asked.

I tried to think of something kind and comforting to say.

“Well, she is 86,” I said.

Happy new year!

January 01, 2017

Happy new year!
Wishing you all a wonderful 2017.

My feet are freezing

December 31, 2016

My feet are freezing
I could use a nice hot tub soak.

Onsen

December 29, 2016

Onsen
Do you like onsen?  Me too.

Cookies

December 24, 2016

Cookies
During the holidays, Mom made plain cookies with her assortment of red plastic and tin cookie cutters.  I liked them because they weren’t too sweet.  

My favorite cookie shape was the pear - the stem part got browned and crisp.


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