Thursday, January 1, 2009

The New Year (Part The First)

In Which Western Holidays Are Documented

First, of course, you all must indulge me in a small bit of reminiscence - as far back as mid-December!  The Christmas decorations in Taiwan started going up before that, of course, but I'm only willing to delve so far into nostalgia -- even in the spirit of seasonal goodwill.  

I went with Sarah to a Chrysanthemum show a while back, and am finally putting up a few of the pictures.  It was surreal and dim, but lovely in the way that gardens are at night.  We wandered around for a while before coming back to join Katy for a game night we ended up not attending.  That was the last extra-curricular thing I took pictures of for a little while, apart from the views to and from work every day.

The daily commute featured such things as Strange Wall Decor, Stores With Dubious Wares, my students' Writing Books, Buildings, the Santa Clause Bus Drivers (none too pleased), and Sunset.

Sarah and I went out to dinner at a thoroughly charming little restaurant that reminded me in a not unpleasant way of the Black Cat Café in Ashland.  On our way there we were dizzied by one church's display of Faith and Electricity in honor of the season.  We ate and talked, and determined to return someday (we haven't yet, but we've been unavoidably distracted by other things - like holidays).  On our way back, Sarah declared her desire to introduce me to a friend of hers (I believe I mentioned him in an earlier post), Xie Yu-Cheng.  I met with him for a lovely dinner shortly thereafter and we have been having charming and extremely helpful (for me, at least) exchanges since.

My A10 class had a unit on ghosts, so I told them the story of Taily-Po.  Ann, the oldest girl (14) started out skittish, and when I got to the point where the story goes "Boo!" everyone jumped.  But Ann screamed.  It wasn't a little shriek of startlement, either, it was an outright scream.  One of the teachers next door stuck his head round, and I reassured him.  The rest of the class thought it was hilarious.  To my delight, about five minutes later the quietest girl in class pulled the balcony curtain aside a little, peered out, and said in Ann's general direction, "Oh! What's that?"  For the first time, that class was unified and interested.  They spent the break drawing their rendition of the monster.

On the twenty-third, there was a new addition to Taiwan from their mainland cousin, commemorated by very cute bread-things in the local bakeries.

We had a quiet and homey Christmas/Chanukah dinner.  Katy and I made dinner and invited Sarah and Jenny to join us.  We had mashed potatoes and squash and latkes (I made them in a wok) before opening presents under the bamboo-cum-Christmas-tree and lighting the menorah (while wearing a Santa hat).  Oh, we are so terribly multicultural it hurts.

I had dinner with Yu-Cheng on New Year's Eve, then went to Sarah's house to see the fireworks.  Her family's apartment building has a roof from which there's a pretty clear view of Taipei 101, and at midnight there were a lot of fireworks off of the building.  I'm not entirely certain of how to take photos of fireworks at night - anyone with input is welcome to advise.

New Year's Day, I went to Da'an Park with Sarah and her family.  There were a lot of flowers.  We met up with Jenny and Katy and went back to Sarah's house to bake cookies.  They were delicious.  Cranberries and chocolate chips and coconut and walnuts and lip-smacking goodness.  I do like making cookies.

Further New Year updates when Chinese New Year comes around.  In the mean time, our friend Hobbes is coming to visit (hi, Hobbes!) for a week or so very soon.  Our first visitor!


Andrew said...

How do you pronounce "Da'an Park"? Is that a glottal stop in the middle?

Rowan said...

Of course it is.