“It’s for his birthday,” I said.

“You’re giving your dad compost starter for his birthday??” the Home Depot guy exclaimed.  “I would disown my daughter if she gave me this for a present!”

“My dad doesn’t want us to give him gifts, so I only give him practical things.  He needs compost starter.”

“I would disown her," he said emphatically.

Brother and Sister Cat

Brother and Sister Cat

Dad’s parents had seven children and two cats - a scruffy orange tabby brother and a beautiful calico sister.

Dad’s father and his friends sat around drinking one day, discussing how great the female was - always catching mice - and how lazy the male cat was.  During the conversation, the male cat slipped outside.  

He returned several times, each time with a fresh dead mouse.  He lined them up in a row in front of the group.



I planned a trip from Taipei down to central Taiwan. 

“You are taking the train?”  Dad asked.


“Don’t eat or drink anything for several hours before.”


“You don’t want to use the bathroom on the train.”


“Make sure not to eat or drink anything for several hours,” he repeated. 

Later, Mom took me aside.

“Emmie,” she said.  “You don’t want to use the bathroom on the train.”

“Yeah, Dad told me.”

“Emmie.  It is important.  Make sure you don’t eat or drink anything before you get on.  If you do, you’ll be sorry.”  

"I guess the bathrooms are disgusting?"

"It was so terrible," she said.



As a kid, my main goal was to go unnoticed, so I could read books and eat Pringles or Hot Tamales or whatever joyous junk food I’d picked up during bike runs to Brookwood.

One day, as I strode through the family room on the way to my room, Dad stopped me.  

“Sit down," he said.  "Watch this.”  

He pressed “Play” on the VHS, and went to the piano room to read medical books.

For the next forty minutes, I watched a rhytidectomy (a facelift).  It looked like someone was making pizza and was stuck on the tomato sauce phase.



Dad yanked out one of my hairs.


“This is the correct way to floss,” he said, and demonstrated on his medical skull.