Art and Cookies

Today was a big day.  Art, writing, and cooking converged to honor 5th grade achievements.  Rod had the kids creating portraits in art class. He thought they turned out so well that (inspired by his own life as a working artist) he wanted an art show of their work.  Of course the art show needed an opening party.  And of course the opening party needed refreshments.  And of course (my favorite part) we needed artists’ statements about their work.


Here are the artists attempting to avoid being photographed with their own work.


And here are the goodies that 5th grade cooking has been working on over the past two weeks.


Excellent work, 5th graders!


Ladies Who Lunch – a busy Saturday

We are a social bunch.  Last Saturday many of the female teachers got together ostensibly for Abi’s birthday.


It could have been for any occasion really because we all love chocolate and good pastries.  Vickey made reservations for us at Colettes.   Carol dusted off her garden party hat and we all put our on our party frocks.


But wait! That’s not all!  It was also the day of Rod’s art show opening. We got very lost looking for Stock 20, the gallery showing Rod’s work.  It wasn’t surprising that we couldn’t find the place – it’s on the far side of the train tracks. We actually had to walk through the train station to find it.  Carol and Simo got so lost they finally parked their car and took a taxi.  We didn’t take the hint when we saw them get out of the taxi.  30 minutes later we finally circled back to the Mode Mall shopping center and parked. Fortunately we were still in time to see Rod’s work.


And THEN Rod and Michiko introduced us to a wonderful Chinese restaurant on the other side of the train tracks.  We ordered the same food we have had in other restaurants, but it was cooked with such care that the result was far above other restaurants we tried. I would tell you what the restaurant was but the only business card I picked up is only in Chinese.

Rod and Michiko drove us back to the mall to pick up our car. We thought we’d explore a little before we headed home.  Then we found Uniqlo.  Lovely clothes there.  Several shirts and pairs of pants later we finally made it home.


Another Roadside Attraction

We took a few days to explore more of the area around Keelung before summer school started.  As we were driving highway 2 around the northern coast of Taiwan (highly recommended – very scenic), we ran across this just outside of Jinshan.

Keelung 064

So of course we had to stop to explore.

Clearly this is intended for a nighttime light show.  There were a few people around “getting ready for the real tourists” and they decided to just let us explore rather than try to have a conversation with people who were so clearly foreigners.

The backdrops were filled with different scenes and figures that light up and move.  In the center there was a bit of a stage for live performances.

Keelung 060

Keelung 078

The whole thing looked like it could be quickly put together from printed plastic sheets and bamboo scaffolding.

Keelung 041

The offices, like many inexpensive buildings here, were made of repurposed shipping containers.

Keelung 055

This place was fascinating.  I think it is the Confucian (?) equivalent to vacation bible school.  The hotel manager suggested that it was for the blessing the local fishermen at the start of the squid fishing season.  I wish that we had been able to arrange our trip to go back for an evening show.  We’ll keep this in mind for next summer.

Keelung 081


Temple Dragons


Everywhere we go we see temples here.  Big ones, little ones, and tiny roadside shrines.  Most have the same sort of elaborate decoration.  They’re wonderful. We’ve wondered for months what the decorations are made of since they don’t seem to fade or get damaged and they are very detailed.  On our road trip we got close enough to see some of the decoration.  They seem to be made of ceramic tiles set in thick cement.  Bright, detailed, and durable.


Trading paintings for cornmeal

Someone wants my paintings!  Bill came to visit Vickey and brought me spices, cornmeal, and other things I’ve had a hard time finding in Taiwan.  In exchange, all Vickey and Bill wanted were a few of my paintings. They couldn’t decide so I gave them four.  How lovely that they like my work.  Here’s what they decided on…






Getting Some Culture in Taipei

This weekend we joined Rod and Michiko on a train trip to Taipei.  The excuse was the annual Art Taipei modern art fair.  This also gave us a chance to learn from our friends how to get to, get around, and get the most out of Taipei.

The train from Taichung to Taipei worked well.  We were on the early (7am!), slow train (over 3 hours), but we had seats and the price was reasonable.  It is possible to pay less for standing room only, but the comfy seat was worth the extra money, particularly as we got closer to the city and the train got more crowded.

Our favorite part of the train trip was the library vending machine in the Taichung station.  What a great idea, particularly for a train station.

library vending machine

The hotel was close to both the train station and the subway station.  We dropped our luggage and headed to the art fair.  Carol and Simo drove up and met us there.  So much art to see!  It was more than a little overwhelming.

art fair

We saw every inch of the art fair, split up for a much needed rest, and rejoined for dinner and the nearby clothing night market.  The night market stalls were filled with bags and bags of sweaters and warm clothing.

clothing market

On Sunday we found out that the weather really is more extreme in Taipei than it is in Taichung.  It started to drizzle and was cold enough outside (and inside with the ever present air conditioning) that we stopped to buy an umbrella and a couple of the thermal shirts from 7-11.  Buying everything at 7-11 – how Taiwanese!

Sunday was spent using the subway system (excellent!) and exploring the Lungshan Temple and the five story Eslite bookstore.  Eslite has a number of English language books.  I found a couple of big all purpose cookbooks there that Dan was kind enough to carry for me the rest of the day.  It was so nice to have something to read that we spent a little longer than we should have at  the bookstore and had to dash for the train. The way home was on the faster train (about 2 hours).  There is an even faster high speed train that makes the trip in 45 minutes but it is much more expensive.

We both really like Taipei even though we barely scratched the surface on this trip. We’ll be back.