Comf and Family

First, it would be nasty and smelly of me not to extend my warmest regards to my local family. Comfrey (my eldest daughter), Josh (son-in-law), and Caleb and Aliyah (the grandkids) live in Taipei! They kindly buffered me when I first arrived, as I scrambled about looking for safe [English-teaching] haven.

These are some pics from my last visit, to attend the birthday party for the grandkids. They decided for logistical/practical reasons to invite a passel of buddies over for one bash, held at the school where Josh teaches.

It was a sort of medieval-themed party, where the grandkids were royals, and kids showed up in generally courtly attire, tho I did spot a dragon. Wait a minute—that's in character, isn't it?

Josh ran the games and whatnot. He dressed the part, as you can see in this photo which showcases the clever blending of feudal chic with a dash of oktoberfest thrown in as a kind of palette clenser. This will cause a stir among the rive droit crowd in the upcoming months, I can assure you. You see here kids playing a rousing game of "Red Light Green Light." Can you spot the dragon?

Of course, a party would be a dud without the victuals, and they were no slouches in that department, including the local touch of dried fish laver, starfruit juice, and the perennial fave of Asian folk everywhere; those crisp, cylindrical, crêpe-like roll cookies.

Well, we got home and got to relax a bit. They live on the 11th floor of an apartment building—4 units to a floor—and Aliyah took me out on the balcony to get some air and maybe get some pics.

Well, there's something you need to know, and that's that Aliyah, over the past year, had been picking up...modeling work! That's right!: Serving the Taiwanese fashion industry! She's made a nice little chunk of change posing for catalogs which inform the public here what their little angels need to be wearing for the following season. I even got to go on one of the shoots some time ago! Anyway, a funny thing happened when I went to take some pics of Aliyah on the balcony: I didn't recognize it at first, but later realized that she sort of went into "model mode," and assumed fetching little poses! I had to laugh a bit when I reflected on this later.

Here are some pics of the environs; various views from the two balconies of the Bush residence. I'm reminded of some advice Nick Brideson gave me when I was first in the country. He said there's a tendency for expats to get together and badmouth the country. He pointed out a need for a healthy sense of perspective; to reflect on the good things about Taiwan, rather than just the bad. When I asked for an example, he cited Taipei's genuine engagement on an awful smog problem they had about 20 years ago. Nick said that back then you couldn't see the mountains around Taipei except for a few days after a typhoon. Officialdom recognized the problem, attached value to clean air, and fixed it—as I think these pics nicely attest.

While I was visiting, the Bushes were minding another couple's kid, Eric. Here, you see Eric and Caleb playing together.

The following day, we went to Da'an park; a very large and beautifully kept public green space.

Here you see: Caleb, spying on us with his little toy binocs; Comf, Monarchess of All She Surveys; Eric and Aliyah; the gang, huddling under a wood-and-metal sculpture. I also got a nice close up shot of one of the rocks we played on. Not sure what it is, but it's got a lovely fracture, doesn't it?

We stopped into a public library which, interestingly, features quite a bit of material—paper and AV media—in English! However, I was a bit taken with this attractive glazed façade brick decorative wall in the stairwell.

Well, that does it. I got this last night shot in the bus, transiting from Taichung to Dongshih. One gets the impression that Taiwan's buildable space (plains; no mountains) has been entirely filled in with businesses; mostly small shops. Now, this is probably deceptive; no doubt an impression one can easily get on the bus lines, planned to serve Taiwanese shoppers. But it's still a notable deception! An hour-long ride, largely past interminable blocks of tightly packed businesses, thronging with humanity, is quite a sight!