October 20, 2016


Grandma’s house had a cesspool in the backyard.  

Grandpa or Grandma had cut a hole in the top of an orange construction cone and stuck a second cone upside-down into it (like an ice cream cone), creating a plastic portable toilet.  This toilet sat in a shed-like room away from the main part of the house.  

Petra and I were instructed to pour water into the cone after use, shake and swirl the contents around, and dump everything into the swamp.  

The backyard was pretty, with close-cropped green grass, guava, mango, lychee and loquat trees, subtropical flowers and an anti-fragrant cesspool.  You carried the cone out to the pit, moved the corrugated tin lid aside, poured the cone’s contents in, dragged the lid back in place, and took the cone indoors for a rinse.

Petra usually told me to swirl, empty and wash her cone for her, so I did.  

The cones were actually a pleasant alternative to the indoor toilets, which were housed in narrow wooden stalls in the hallway.  When you went in and closed the door, you felt like you were inside a square, claustrophobic, unsanitary tree.  

Both bathrooms were much nicer than public Taiwanese restrooms.  

I recently asked Petra if she remembered making me swirl and wash her cone for her.

"Yes," she said, with a satisfied smirk.

Also in Blog


April 30, 2017

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.


April 24, 2017

I feel especially Asian when I drink jasmine tea and dine on heroin-sprinkled, crispy lotus slices.
Two trays o' food
Two trays o' food

April 23, 2017

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.