Saturday, December 29, 2007

Latest Bird Acquisitions




After the last two baby birds kicked the bucket a few months back, I broke down again. Here's a  pic of the 綠月輪 (what I thought in English might be called a Green Conure, but just found out 5/27/09 that it’s an Indian Ringneck) I bought about a month and a half ago (for about $40 US). It's still pretty scared of me but, after several hours of work on my part, it is finally willing to put a foot or two on my hand when I hand-feed it sunflower seeds, which it likes more than its usual fare (I read somewhere sunflower seeds are addictive-- I may be encouraging a drug habit!). Its personality so far seems to be sort of mean, but maybe I'm misreading it since they love to chew all sorts of things. Twice now I've forgotten to lock the cage and its opened the door to go over to another adult green lovebird I got at the same time, which, alas, made good on its escape last week and has not been seen or heard from again.


litlebird1littlebird2A few weeks after I got the Indian Ringneck I bought a baby peach-faced lovebird and have been hand-feeding it 3 times or more a day (here it costs about $11 US). It can't yet fly and is only beginning to feed itself, but I expect with a little more luck it will be able to go on its own in just another few days instead of dying like the last two.   Both birds seem like they'll do OK outside of the cage from time to time although the big one will need a lot more work.   Both birds are beautiful. God sure knows how to cook, doesn't He? Actually, I think the yellow bird's colors may be due to selective breeding. If I bring it up to my second floor, I may lose sight of it.

Sunset Boulevard

Last night I watched the 1950 classic "Sunset Boulevard" for the first time. Wonderful entertainment aside, this movie to me was all about 1) the illusions we cling to, 2) the idols which threaten to kill us when we think of leaving them, and 3) the lies about ourselves we fool ourselves into believing. Thanks be to Jesus Christ, whose birth, resurrection from the dead, and life in us today delivers us from all evil!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas at FeiSha "Flying Sands" Elementary School

fsxmas1 Christmas Day I kept my usual Tuesday schedule of volunteering at two different elementary schools teaching English.

fsxmas3 The first school had no special activities. "Flying Sands" Elementary, however, was quite the re4nao4 ("lively, buzzing with excitement") place to be! Though I didn't teach or share that day, I was invited to attend the festivities.

There was quite a feast at noontime, and then each class put on their performances. Numbers were drawn out of a box, and dozens of gifts were given away. For the grand prize, the principal arranged to give away two brand new bicycles, both of which went to 1st and 2nd graders whom I teach. It was especially cute because the size of the bikes was more suited to the older grades, not the younger kids. 

Here are a few other pics not just of the bikes, but of the performances done by fxxmas2the classes I help teach English to on regular Tuesdays. fsxmas5 fsxmas4 fsxmas7 fsxmas6

Reliving a bit of Taiwanese History



Yesterday longtime Taiwan coworker Teyet Moy and my neighbor Mr. Chen, a retired taxi driver, joined me for a half-day post-Christmas excursion to the city of Tainan in southern Taiwan. There we relived some ancient Taiwanese history.tainan1

First, we visited the ruins of Old Fort Zeelandia, built by the Dutch when they colonized Taiwan (1624-1662). This fort was renamed Anping when Zheng Cheng-Gong (Koxinga) recovered it from the Dutch. We then took a quick stroll along Provintia street, the first well-planned street in European style which became the center of Tainan City.

From there, we paid a visit to the Eternal Golden Fort, built in 1874 to shore up Taiwan's defense against the Japanese threat.  

Afterward, we visited ChiKan Tower and the ruins of Fort Provintia, the site where Koxinga accepted Dutch surrender some 350 years ago. Koxinga revamped Fort Provintia under the Eastern Imperial Court Tian-Fu adminstration and lived there. Today, it is known by Taiwanese not for being a former center of Dutch colonization but for the traditional Chinese architecture and gardens which were erected and restored over top and around the old fort.     

IMG_0005 tainan4tainan8 IMG_0008  We drove by tainan9the Merchant House of Tait tainan10& Company, the Confucius temple and historic train station built under Japanese occupation, and walked the perimeter  of the Koxinga Shrine, but that was about all we wanted to squeeze in before nightfall. Actually, if but for an hour or two, a half a day trip was nearly adequate to take in the major sites. Two days, as we originally discussed, would have been too long.

No Ouching Allowed

Some more classic English signage, spotted yesterday marking a display at the Chikan Tower in Tainan...

no ouching

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

My neighborhood just experienced a countryside Taiwanese version of the murder mystery novel (narrated from the perspective of an autistic child) by Mark Haddon. If you have read this blog previously, you've heard about the loud dogs, chicken, and geese which make it hard to sleep at night.  Even my neighbors have located their bedrooms to the inner rooms of their homes. However, being the new kid on the block, I'm a little buhaoyisi  (embarrassed)  to make a fuss about it. At least outwardly...

On a cultural note, Dogs in the Taiwanese countryside are usually not seen as pets, just possessions which guard other possessions at night. They are expected to bark in order to do their jobs,  but one particular dog is too extreme. My neighbor tells me in Taiwanese it is "a bad dog".

To combat this particular dog, roped up just across the street from where I live, I recently bought a high power water rifle which was advertised to shoot a narrow stream of water up to 40 feet. I can do this very discretely from my second or third floor in the middle of the night with no one but me and the dog knowing (and now you the readers of this blog) since the other side of the street is nothing but junk and vacant fields. However, except for one stream which I sent out about 5 feet in front of the dog a month ago, I haven't had a need to deploy my new weapon of deterrence.

Why all the sudden quiet? Did the  warning volley I fired out a few weeks ago over the stern of the dog house (couldn't quite reach the dog itself from only my 2nd floor) jolt the dog until submission?  Or am I finally so accustomed to the noise that I can just sleep through it? 

I was shocked to learn day before yesterday from a neighbor that the dog has simply DISAPPEARED. No one knows what happened. It was last seen or heard from around the time of my last encounter three weeks ago.

Did my warning shot cause the dog to bolt witlessly in sheer terror from its rope and bound off forever into the unknown wilderness, never to be seen or heard from humankind again? (By the way, that's what happened to my green lovebird three days ago when it opened its door on its own and flew away to freedom. Sadly, as winter approaches, it will realize the harshness of life outside of the gilded cage.) Will I be pointed out to be a chief suspect in the dog's disappearance? gun

But what of the mystery man who suddenly appeared and whom I observed for three days in a row thanks to the barking of the dog walking past at 5:00 am in the morning with his large walking stick? After the third day, the day after I fired the shot, I never noticed hearing the dog again. Did the mystery man secretly nab the dog for some tasty warm dog meat, still popular in some quarters of Taiwan when the cold of winter rolls around? Or was it simply released from its rope or kidnapped by another angry neighbor who wanted to get a better night's sleep?  The plot thickens... BUT NOW I CAN FINALLY SLEEP! Thank you, God, for hearing my prayers.