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And there are so very many!  All the cute little coffee shops with hot and cold coffees and teas.  Especially the fruit teas!!

There is the bubble (or pearl tea) which I don’t like.  The tapioca balls are little things you have to chew that add a lot of extra calories, but no real flavor.  The streets are filled with tea shops and people are always walking around with cups of green, black, red, grapefruit, white gourd, jasmine. lemon or milk tea tea. Or maybe its watermelon, lemon or mango juice!

7-11 is full of fruit milks, soy milk, vegetable juices, yogurt drinks, apple soda, Pocari Sweat, teas, and cold coffees by the cup or can.

My current favorites are the fruit waters which I usually drink in peach or lemon; this delicous Japanese  strawberry beverage which bears the caption “juice meets condensed milk” and I’m trying my best to get hooked on green tea for the health of it!


My third graders just left my classroom. They come to class as soon as they can to try to speak with me, to see what I am doing or to try and figure out what my papers may say. I could write pages and pages on each of these wonderful little packages and all the joy they bring to my classes, but today it was William. William always makes me smile. I realized today it is because when I see William, I am reminded of Kevin, my Personal Banker. They are years apart in age and you would look at them and say they look nothing alike. I look at them and see the same joyous glimmer in their eyes that tells me of their goodness and their eagerness to bring joy to others, whether it be through hard work or mischievous fun. They both carry themselves with such an air of respect that I can’t help but want to clear a path so that they can conquer the world! It is amazing how people may be worlds and cultures and years apart, but they can be so similar. I feel so much at home when I can get to know someone here and they remind me of a friend or relative in America, even if they don’t look alike!

Sometimes I think it’s kinda silly that you have to click on a website for these folks to give away food they must already have (because they’re not receiving a donation from the click!!) but …whatever… let’s get to clicking! – 5 cents a click! – Feed Rice! – Feed Flour! – Feed Children! – Feed People in India! – Feed People! – Feed People! – Feed People! – Feed Children! – Poor kids fed! – Feed People! – Feed! – Feed People! – Feed People! – Feed a Homeless person! – Donate to MSF! – Donate Cups of Tea! – Help Feed! – More free Rice to give! Feed homeless people!

My poor little tootsies have been tortured!

Sunday, Flame suggested we try acupressure massages for our feet.  I’m for anything that involves massage, so I said OK.  She did warn me that it would be painful, but I thought it would still be OK.

The massage began with a good, warm feet soaking and an arduous working of the neck muscles.  I think my massage master felt all the tension I carry there and decided to squeeze it out in one setting.  The massage strokes often consisted of the second or third knuckles of the fingers being used to trace new grooves into my muscles or to apply pressure to a specific spot.  Flame had ‘cupping’ done to her neck.  This traditional practice involved using small plastic cups about the size of containers in a fifty cent gumball machine and suctioning them to the neck so that they draw blood to an area, much like a plastic leech.  She’s had it done before so it must work to relieve the high amount of pain she has in her neck.  Flame is no fool and wouldn’t do this again if it didn’t work the first time!

Once the neck is has been sufficiently pulverized, it’s on to the feet and lower leg.  I can only say it was not pleasant. It hurt.  A LOT.  Well, actually it hurt when I was unable to breath deeply and relax.  Tensing the muscles does NOT help this process.   We asked Suzy, our Taiwanese friend how she enjoyed the treatment.  He response was quite interesting as she kept saying it was painful.  Yes, it was painful when it was done, but was it still painful?  No, but it is painful.  Chinese culture does not distinguish between now, then and will be!  I’m glad I’m only teaching present tense verbs!!

Afterwards, I was ready for a good night sleep and the next day, I was sore and bruised. Will I go back again?  Would you???

Imagine if you will walking into a store. Image the store to be large, bright and clean. Image everyone bustling about as usual, but imagine if you can the whiff of something that just isn’t right. Imagine that stank smell that is from fruit or “fresh” produce that makes you want to open a window or scrub a refrigerator. The smell is that of something that is overripe, too sweet, dead or dying. It’s almost nauseous. The smell is durien fruit (lio lian) and it is in season! I smell it when I enter Carrfour or when I walk past certain vendors in the market. It is so bad that busses and stores sometimes ban its presence. I have tasted it and have not liked it, though many people do. It doesn’t taste quite as bad as it smells, but the taste wasn’t good to me. I do not at all think the flavor is worth putting up with the putrid smell.

The fruit will be in season until September.

It was quite a revelation when my friend, Flame, commented that we are functional illiterates. Here we are intelligent women, degreed educators who have raised children, maintain our own finances and who love to read. Yet, we are functionally illiterate in this society. Flame has been here longer than I and she can communicate basic needs and I believe she can read some characters. Neither of us can read, write or compute in this society above a 4th grade level.

I hate getting local train tickets because there are no numbers or English writing on them that I can read and I don’t know how to ask for tickets for the other trains. I usually remember to ask “Time?” and the ticket agent with write the time on the back for me. When I make a purchase at 7-11, I usually know the order of the questions and can tell them I want my food heated and that I don’t need a bag. After I request my ‘dom bing’ at the breakfast shop, I have no idea what the clerk is asking me and I just shrug. My students come into my classroom excited and eager to share some news, but I shrug and say “English, English!” They’ve heard me say one or two words (words mind you, not sentences!) in Mandarin and I think they think I’m catching on!

Because I don’t know they language, people watch out for me as if I’m a child. I certainly appreciate it, but I’m finding ways to cope, in many of the same ways people in any society do who cannot read or write. Yet, like them, I remain on the fringes of society unable to attain a full level of participation in the events that surround me. I have no idea what events occur in my school outside the classroom routine. I only know the names of three streets in this city and am unable to direct anyone to my home. I’ve had the phone I’ve been lent converted to English and I’ve stocked it with names and phone numbers of people all over this country. Every time I meet someone who is fairly fluent in English, they give me their name and number so that I can call them for help. Illiteracy allows no room for independence. Ah, the power of reading! of information! of language!

I don’t even know what I was looking for when I stumbled upon this little gem!

It Started With A Kiss

  • Description:
    The super hot sequel of the Taiwanese drama “It Started With A Kiss” begins with Xiang Qin and Zhi Shu’s wedding and honeymoon. Even after marriage, they experience problems and interferences within their marriage such as mistaken pregnancy, misunderstandings, and a run-in with a girl from Zhi Shu’s past. Xiang Qin and Zhi Shu switch to medical school to become nurse and doctor. During that time, Zhi Shu meets new rivals who wish to outdo him and Xiang Qin makes four new friends, and one of them likes her and wishes to replace Zhi Shu.

    How will their lives turn out to be?

Each episode has English subtitles!

Chris Collier (Center for Inquiry; Alan Smith (Arsenal Technical High School); Sean O’Gara (Indianapolis) Caterina Blitzer (IN Department of Education), Edith Campbell

In addition to the Teachers to Taiwan Program, the Indiana Department of Education also sponsors a program which takes Taiwanese teachers to Indiana.  This program brought administrations from throughout Indiana and Michigan, along with representatives from each state’s Department of Education in order to interview prospective teachers and discuss forming sister school programs.  Last Tuesday, those of us teaching here from Michigan and Indiana met with the group in Taipei.  It was a pleasure to meet colleagues from the Indianapolis Public School District!!

Went to Tainan today. It was so good to get back in when the sun was still up! I’ve been there several times  in the past few months and gazing out the train window, I still see new sites: the Christian church near the bus station in Kaohsiung, old ladies in their bamboo hats working in rice fields and the fact that the Gaoping River is so shallow that I could walk across it and my knees would not get wet. Not unless I fell in the jade colored water. Most of my time was spent reading _Never Let Me Go_, a book that really catches you off guard if you don’t know what it’s about before starting, and I didn’t!

Among other things, I had to get my glasses repaired. The clerk impressed me so with his English and won my affection as he fought with himself to stop calling me ‘sir’. Remember, there are no pronouns in Mandarin, so it takes real effort for these speakers to differentiate between males and females when speaking. Also, he explained that his English was usually for professors at the university and most of them are males. Rose and I compared horror stories of food preparation practices we’ve seen and decided it can’t be that bad to eat at McDonalds and while there we saw a cat on a hot tin roof.

Last Sunday, the temperature spiked to the upper 80s. Spring has sprung!! I know the real heat hasn’t arrived yet as the mornings and evenings are pleasantly cool.

If you enjoy reading my blog in the least, you really should check out A Wandering Woman Writes from Spain.  It has got to be one of the best travel blogs I’ve read.

In August, 2007 I will be leaving Indianapolis with my daughter, Kristen, to live and work in the Republic of China (Taiwan). This will be my fiftieth year on this planet and my first year living in another country. This blog will let you join us on the adventure!
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April 2008
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