Idle and Not So Thoughts

I should use my blog more for idle thoughts, I sez to myself, thinking idly. And for thoughts that aren’t so idle. I’m having more and more occasions where I feel like writing something of import to me, but I don’t feel like trying to come up with a story outline or an article premise. Sometimes I just want to write. I want to write about things that are on my mind no matter what they might be. And if I have some images that are relevant, then I suppose I should rummage around through my collection and come up with a few good ones. But I’m meandering . . .

My wife, Bai Shin, who is a native of Taiwan but a naturalized US citizen, goes back to Taiwan every couple of years or so to visit with her family and close friends. She’s lived here for 30 years now, but she still stays in close touch with friends and family. Usually when she goes back to Taiwan for a visit, she goes back around this time of year, for Chinese New Year because that’s a really special date on the Chinese calendar. Imagine Christmas, New Year’s, and Mardi Gras all wrapped up together, and you’ll have some idea of what New Year’s celebrations are like in Taiwan. The entire island just flat parties down for three or four days. Non-stop marathon Mahjong games that are played for money, and every bit as fun as Texas Hold-em — once you know the rules, of course. Bistros that stay open all night and midnight sidewalk flea markets. Swarms of scooters that buzz by like clouds of angry bees. Street corner food vendors everywhere. It’s a blast. Except for the weather, that is.

Well, right now, my wifey has been in Taiwan for almost two weeks. She’s still got about another 10 days left to her vacation. Getting plenty of rest, having a good time hanging out with family and friends and all. Our daughter and her boyfriend (soon to be fiancĂ©?) traveled over there with her. So, I am without immediate family. Yes, I have extended family here, but we don’t hang out a lot with each other. It just isn’t the same, you know? Well, to be accurate, I was without immediate family until earlier today. My daughter and her boyfriend finally got back into town, but she just now got around to calling me to let me know they arrived safely. It’s good to know she’s back.

Just got off the phone with my SO. She’s bored, sitting around, not doing anything since our daughter and boyfriend returned to the States. That was like a couple of days ago. She keeps going on about how they didn’t know how to pack properly and how she had to show them, and I’m saying, “Hey, I don’t care about the packing job y’all did. I’m asking what have you been doing over there? Did you go see any cool places?”

She hadn’t. Our daughter had wanted to do some shopping, so they did a fair amount of that, I suspect. And the Taiwanese being the convivial people they are, I’m sure that everyone has been eating out at nice restaurants perhaps more frequently than they otherwise would.

But Bai Shin hasn’t done anything for just herself since she arrived in Taiwan. I’ve asked her specifically what she’s done for herself, and she’s told me, quite bluntly, “Nothing!” As in, ‘stop bugging me about it!’ This seems incredible, right? And here I’m thinking, that’s nuts, she should have gotten out more and had some fun, but then I think back to my trip to Taiwan. The same time of year as now, cuz we wanted to be there for Chinese New Year. And I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but I spent most of my time there, kicking back on her mom’s couch, reading paperback novels I’d found at an English bookstore for expats that wasn’t too far from her mom’s apartment, and drinking Apple Sidra, an apple flavored soda that became rather habit forming. Why was I doing this? Because this time of year in Taiwan it rains all day and all night long. When I was there for fourteen days, probably only a half-dozen or less of them had any significant modicum of sunshine associated with them. Most of the days were cool, overcast, and drizzly.

My main reason for making the trip, besides just getting to hang with Bai Shin’s side of the family, was to photograph the island, its people, and general scenic subjects. Obviously, inclement weather conditions can put a hamper on things. But I did come back with some nice shots. For the trip, I packed an EOS 650 with a Tamron 24-70 Aspherical and a Canon EF 70-210 f/4, plus a good store of Fujichrome 100 slide film. But that was then. This is now, and you know what else? I can promise you that my wifey did not take one single photo while she was there. I’m hoping my daughter — who has a pretty cool 16mp Sony p&s, took some cool pix to make up for it.

Bai Shin says it’s miserable in the summertime in Taiwan because it gets so hot and sticky, so I’m thinking mid-spring and perhaps late autumn would be better times to visit that jewel of an island. Still, getting back to the topic, I think wifey should make at least some attempt at least to have a good time before she has to board a plane for the long ride home. Neh?

I’ve been digging on my hard drive partitions for the shots I took of Taiwan, and I haven’t been successful so far. So when I find where I’ve stored the photos, I’ll come back here and load them up.

Welp, it seems to have worked again — the feelings of loneliness being averted. Perhaps they’ll be kept at bay for another day . . .

- Michael

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