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Archive for May, 2011

Plum rain

In spite of the humidity, the recent weather has been pleasant; it’s now undeniably spring and the rains have come.  They’ve tapered off since the thunderstorm of my last post, but they’ve begun to bring something even better: that spring rain smell!  They’re also very gentle, more drizzles than showers, but they manage to keep from being sticky and oppressive.

On today’s run in Bali, we stayed on the road a lot, which was a blessing as I had new shoes and I brought a co-worker and friend along for her first exercise in a long time!  It wasn’t the most amazing hash, and the high point came early on, but there were some amusing bits where we ran through a golf club as members were playing and were thoroughly scolded by a security guard.  The last bit was also quite lovely, but cramped and very hard to run as the trees were very close and the undergrowth was very high!  It put me in mind of reading the descriptions of the Old Forest in The Fellowship of the Ring.

Now, the high point.  As we came up a steep hill, the road smoothed and flattened and we passed by some houses (not the lovely old brick ones, although we saw a beautiful example of that during the run) with a good concrete front yard.  Two little girls were playing and probably wondering at the unusually heavy traffic past their house, and when my friend and I came by, we were included in the game.  The game was waterguns.  It was so refreshing, and they were thrilled to shoot strangers.  They were adorable and accommodating (when I asked for more, they obliged immediately), and without a doubt the best thing all run.

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The past few days have been hellish.  The temperature’s been above 30°C and the humidity has been ridiculous, so when the rain woke me up the other night, I was overjoyed.  In the morning, however, the weather hadn’t really changed, and even though I took my umbrella to school, I didn’t need it until later in the afternoon (at which point I had lost it in Da’an Park).

That rain was surprising yet nice, but the good stuff didn’t really start until sometime during my evening classes.  As I was leaving, Jenny told me in was raining and let me know about the “lovely umbrellas.”  In Chinese, things done for the benefit of other people are all called “love.”  Perhaps charity is the best translation?

On the way home, the rain was really heavy and there was lightning every three or four minutes!  When I got off the bus, I couldn’t help but grin at every flash… until I remembered I’d left laundry in my window box.  Luckily, most of the big items were actually quite dry, but my underwear hanger wasn’t under the awning and in my haste to pull it inside, I lost two pairs on the roof below!  I grabbed my hanger-stick and threaded it and my arm through the window grating, painstakingly twisting the underwear onto the reaching-stick (not actually designed for hooking onto things).  Truly a ridiculous situation.

Now I’m looking forward to falling asleep to the pounding of rain on my neighbors’ tin window cages.  It’s a wonderful sound!

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Sending flowers

A bouquet (courtesy of the Taipei Flora Expo) for my mother on Mother’s Day.

Simple flowers to start.

Add in some peppers for surprise and spice.

Throw in some lily-lookin' things!

Top it all off with a charming bush, with the pinkest wax apples I've ever seen.

One more amaryllis or what-have-you for good measure...

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Chinese waily-pipes

Noisy parades and festivals are very common here, but I usually don’t understand the reasons.  Today is May Day (and Labor Day), but my calendar doesn’t show any Chinese holidays on the schedule.  However, as I was coming home from the hash, I could hear all kinds of ruckus, and when I reached the top of the MRT stairs, I saw a fantastic parade coming around the corner through the drizzle.  It seemed to be in honor of a land god nearby, or perhaps a Daoist temple society.

There were palanquins and pagodas and marchers and musicians and horses and tapestry banners.  It was amazing!  I got some video and photos, and I learned at least one thing about ceremonial celebrations!  I talked to a musician as they took a break right by my lane and answered a burning question of mine.  See, until now, I’ve called the caterwauler heard at funerals and any other festive occasion “Chinese bagpipes” or just the “waily pipes.”  Being curious about their name and construction, I jumped on the only musician standing apart to take a closer look and ask questions.  They’re called Chinese shawms or 鎖吶 and they’re pretty sweet!  They look like a simple flared metal cone with a tiny fanned double reed.  Wikipedia says they’re made of wood, but I don’t know about that…  To be honest, as soon as I saw they had reeds, I should have guessed the English would be shawm, but to be fair, that’s not a word that I frequently have to grasp for.

The parade went on a little while longer, but the fireworks are still going in shifts every half hour, it feels like.  I sincerely hope they’ve decided to call it a night at 10:40pm, but my realistic side is telling me not to be a fool.

Unfortunately, my bluetooth is acting up again, and I’m going to have to take care of the photo/video part after some trouble-shooting.

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