Wednesday, April 30, 2014

fam in pictures part IV

Saying goodbye to Evelyn. She, her sister, mom and aunt were leaving the next day.

Of course we had to have rice stuffed bamboo at least once. This is one of my favorite meals.

Joseph suddenly decided to perform on his violin that night. I was surprised.

Dad, who is willing to try anything (didn't even wince at the taste of stinky tofu), is taking a bite out of that sweet, spongy mass that grows in place of the water within a coconut when its sprout starts shooting out of it. 

We had a lovely time with Ting, whose chocolate truffles, I had no qualms about polishing off.

We had to play monopoly. Joseph could play it every day. It's the Taiwanese version, so Boardwalk and Park Place are Taroko and Mt. Taiping.

Dad and I had as good a time as one could have in this kind of situation. For about an hour we both had several tries at Anna's tooth. Both of us were itching to just give it a good, hard yank. I can't believe Anna let me use a pliers! In the end, Anna pulled it out herself, and earned an ice cream.

As evidenced in this picture, we were thrilled to finally have Melody over for a visit! She showered us with organic goodies and and gifts. She jumped right into our lives, helping with chores and playing endlessly with the kids. So good to finally see you again, Melody!

Not much changes with each passing generation. This is what we did to our grandpa's hair. I recall it was just about the same color.

I can only justify such decadence once a year. Mom made mandazis. They were divine. I easily inhaled ten or more each time she made them, which was twice. Here they are with a honey/nut butter dipping sause.

Mom allowed a quick break from the endless garden work for a visit the beach in the final days. Just like the sisters. I was trying hard to keep sadness at bay...

...because I knew we would be here in less than 48 hours, saying goodbye. 

I can't say enough thank you's to God for arranging this visit so perfectly, and to so many people here who helped  - Sherman, Tefu, Sophia, Tangyi, Melody, Wendy, Ting, Shio-wen, Roger, Mu-shr and Shr-mu. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Thank you, family!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

fam in pictures part III

It was a cold, blustery day, but we had to get a grandparent/grandkids shot.

I lost count of how many rocks this size that they removed from the garden.

Deep, deep cleaning. The (fun to assemble) face sticker posters eventually all came down.

I think these ladies were helping spread rice husks.

This is what Dad and Mom did for 85% of their stay. As a result, we have harvested a few eggplants, cucumbers, various greens, and a lot of tomatoes. Thank you again and again!

A big thank you to our pastor and his wife for hosting my family so generously!

A typical supper. That night happened to be Mom's lasagna, made cottage cheese that Laura magically concocted out of milk and vinegar. Delicious! I had not had lasagna in years!

Heavy machinery is to Joseph as a cup of coffee, a cheesecake, and a good book are to me.

I just had to post another picture of this fellow. Our politest dog, Rhino, is doing his best to impress a morsel out of Lydia's hand.

I am who I am today because, to a great degree, of these two seesters, who walked me through boarding school, university, and life abroad.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fam in pictures Part II

Babu had strange magical powers. Anytime Lenore needed to go down for a nap, Sara would hand her over to Dad. It usually took five..maybe ten minutes for him to get her to sleep.

Laura left no drawer untouched.

I wish this picture would show Babu's ingenious hinges that he made for the gate; simply three nails bent into a "u" shape.

Just tonight, we ate those vegetables that Bibi planted as sprouts. (the ones between her and Anna)

They love their Laura Ayi, who solves all problems, and rights all wrongs.

At first, Lenore wasn't sure about this sliding business, but on the way down, she changed her mind. I think she actually cried, because she wasn't being taken back up fast enough for another go.

The slide above, and this little reading room below, are right beside each other. We love coming here on our errand/ballet class day. Every Thursday. A lot of English books.

We were going for a walk after church on the last Sunday before Laura and Sara would be returning to the States. We almost forgot to capture a family photo.

Lenore and Mommy #2.

Poor Sara had no vacation. She had to do multiple surgeries here within these four walls. I think she was removing something. Appendix? At one point, she tried to hunt Joseph down to do some brain surgery. If it were to succeed, it would make him perfectly obedient. I think he managed to escape.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The fam in pictures part I

Young ladies on a stroll. I think their chant went something like, "WE are the princesESS!" again and again.

Many happy moments were spent on this swing that Ken put up.

Ballet class.

First memory game.

These dresses were gifts from Babu and Bibi that they bought in Hawaii.

Lenore was probably pointing to a "dah", a dog.

Bibi and I got special salon treatment.

Ken and Joseph took Babu to the book room, where kids go after school to do homework. Babu made a bunch of friends right away.

The camera caught a little of the excitement of morning greetings. Sara and Lenore had just arrived from the house up the hill.

Making fire.

to be continued...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The fam

Well, my parents, sisters and nieces have come and gone. I don't know how to put all the memories into words. It all came together so fast. God prepared every detail (living accommodations, itineraries, transportation) perfectly.

They came and rebooted our lives. Laura and Sara first reconfigured my computer to English mode, then tackled the house with unrelenting determination. Their goal: turn us into minimalists. I want to be one desperately. They almost succeeded. They re-arranged things, emptied surfaces, basically magically made things look clean and cozy. I was stuck in a rutt; they pulled me out. I just need to take it to the end.

Dad and Mom turned our lumps of dirt with limp, dying vegetation into a beautiful, well nourished, fenced in paradise, full of thriving plants from which we are already enjoying a great harvest. Almost every day they toiled in the garden - mom, softening up the dirt and adding a cocktail of compost, potting soil, manure and rice husks to her perfectly shaped rows, and dad erecting the fence that has proven to withstand every creature that roams our yard. They often would work together, removing huge boulders with a pickax and hoe. How can senior citizens have more energy and endurance that their offspring? I felt a little embarrassed.

The cousins got along so well! They moved seamlessly through the overly polite stage, to the relaxed enjoyment stage, to the minor tiffs stage, and finally to the comfortable co-existence stage. Lydia and Evelyn bounced back and forth between the tiff and comfy co stage a lot. Anna loved Lenore with all he heart and soul. She held her hand and walked with her for long stretches of time. After their cousins left, Anna wandered around in a gloomy silence. There wasn't much more to do in life now that there was no small, living creature to take care of. (Ken and I have decided to let her get a kitten all for herself. She as a deep urge to nurture)

We had a ladies day to the city one Thursday. We went to my favorite coffee shop. Anna, Lydia and Evelyn behaved very well, while Mom, Laura Sara and I got to sit back, drink good coffee, eat good food and talk. Heaven.

Evelyn joined two of Anna and Lydia's ballet classes. A beautiful sight to behold - four cute curly haired girls floating around in pink confections. It was a dream come true, watching them enjoying each other so much.

Sara started telling the kids a story off the top of her head to keep them entertained. It turned into a ten part saga about two monsters constantly breaking out of the zoo, and getting caught every time. They started transcribing it towards the end.

The first Sunday we worshiped at home. Dad and Joseph took turns reading through Hebrews 11, the faith chapter. One of Dad's favorites. That image will stay in my memory forever.

Driving home from city visits, Mom, Laura, Sara and I would sing together. Only during these once a year (or two) reunions can I enjoy such harmony with such familiar hymns and voices.

Every morning, Joseph, Anna and Lydia would keep on asking when they were coming down (from Ken's friend's house up the road where they were staying. Our house is too small). Then, inevitably, we would hear a deep "Hellooo" from Babu, or a bright little "Hi Joji, hi Anna, hi Lydia!" from Evelyn, or some other cheerful voice coming from up the road. Then a whole new day of fun would begin.

Oh what good times we had!

Thank you family, for all you put into this trip - cost of travel, shared expenses, gifts galore, blood sweat and tears giving our life an overhaul. Thank you. Our lives have been enriched in the deepest sense of the word by your coming.

Pictures to come.