Category Archives: Hobbies/Pasttimes

My Wife, Intrigued by the Shadows

Her hobbies, translated…

In recent years, my wife started taking up photography, in about two years, she’d, ruined three cameras, even the one that I had, I’d, contributed to her, and, in no more than a year, it’d, “retired” too.

Whether if it’s out on a trip, or just, strolling in the Botanical Gardens, my wife would always carry a camera with her, she’d looked, then, taken the shots, some of the scenes, don’t look that vital to me, she’d be too focus, documenting it, like she’d, become a field researcher, or a photography news reporter or something.

like what this young child is doing???  Photo from online…

She’d mostly taken photos of the weeds, the flowers, a small flower, she could use various angles, distance, and shoot so many shots, it’s a wonder, that the longevity of her cameras is less than a year. But, what my wife loved photographing the most, are the shadows, and so, I’d, nicknamed her a “shadow” fanatic. Any shadow, to her, looked intriguing, the plants’ shadows at the Botanical Gardens, she’d wanted to take shots of, said there are spots, that you don’t normally see; the reflection of the large tree outside the Yun-Shuan Sun Memorial on the windows of the mansions close by, she’d felt they’d, swayed with the wind, that it was, beautiful, surely, a shot. As we’d walked across the bridge, and, our reflections were imprinted into the waters, she’d, taken shots of; the egrets, the birds waiting by the pond, looking for the fish at the Da-An Forest Park, a must.

There were, too many photos she’d taken shots of, I can’t recall them all. But, once we’d sat at a café inside the Wenzhou Street alleys, there was a Chinese parasol tree, with the leaves growing in fully, the afternoon sun shone through the leaves, landed outside the walls of the café, the wind blew, and the shadows, they’d swayed. I’d, compared the photos she’d taken, and suddenly, understood why the older eras of Chinese people called it “the Shades of Light”; the sun and the shadows they changed, with the times of day.

Thinking on it, my wife, the photographer, must’ve thought, that in the instants of the shadows that changed, capturing it with her camera, would turn it into eternity.

With this photography fanatic at my house, and so, as I saw the potted plants on the lanai, the shadows, reflected onto the doors, I’d immediately, called her to it.

And so, this woman loved the look of the shadows, and, she’d taken up this hobby that’s good for her, and, her preferences in photography is unique, only to her.

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Filed under Aging Gracefully, Because of Love, Hobbies/Pasttimes, Life, Philosophies of Life, Properties of Life

Changing a Thought, Your World Opens Right Up

Found something that kept her calm, through her husband’s temporary “fix”, translated…

As I accompanied my child to off the island to school, other than helping him settle in, I’d also taken the opportunity, to visit locally, and enjoy this little peaceful time I have. In the embrace of Mother Nature, having been stressed out too long in the nitty-gritties of the day-to-day, I’d, broken free, like a bird from a cage, I’d felt, so very free.

After a few days, although I’m now, recharged spiritually, but my body was having the fatigues from the travels. There’s a saying, “There’s NO place like home”, it’s, so very, true, as I’d reached out, and touched the doorknob of my own house, I’d finally felt, that I can, finally rest easy. But, as I’d, pushed open the doors, my steps, as well as my smiles, froze solid, and, the luggage I had in my other hand fell.

The lanai in front was a huge mess, and, the table and chair where I usually sat leisurely to read, was pushed to the side, the cardboard boxes, the plastic baskets, everywhere, the originally cleaned tile flooring, covered in muddy footprints. There’s, that awful feeling from the pit of my stomach, I’d trembled, as I’d, turned on the lights, I’d, stood there, with my jaws, dropped, in shock, couldn’t make a single sound.

Looking around me, there was, a huge pile of dirt the size of a small mount, and the bamboo had, grown taller than I am, blocking the screen doors; the other bamboos, grown too large out of proportions; and, the gardenia with the branches like the antlers of deer, lying to the side. The piles of fertilized soils, the granite pieces, all, scattered, across the ground…………it’d, looked like, a BOMB had been, dropped here.

About a week ago, my husband looked around on the lanai, and, he’d, measured the space, with his calculating gazes, I’d caught a glance, at his usual act, I’d called out, “oh no!” to myself, I’d, rushed up to him, to ask him what was up. Just as I’d suspected, he’d started, getting so enthusiastic, describing what his plans were, of having a small garden on our lanai, and, I’d, rained down on his parade, “Please, stop your delusions, you just wanted to be the frontiersman, and I’d needed to, clean up after you, like from before when we kept the birds, and the dogs too…………”

He knew he wasn’t going to win the arguments, he’d, fallen silent, and not mentioned it again, I mistakenly thought, that he’d, stopped pondering about it, without knowing, that this, was, only the calm before the storms.

That very night, one of us carried the sour face, the other, scrubbed up the mats, and there’s, this awful tropical depression visiting our home, followed by the days of silent treatments, the air, froze up.

like this???  Not my photograph…查看來源圖片

Every day I’d waken up, pulled back the drapes, and, I was, face-to-face, with this withered garden, it was, truly, depressing. And, I just couldn’t deal with it anymore, rolled up my sleeves, tidied it up out there.

I’d first, trimmed the branches off the bamboos, remove the stems of the dying bamboo, the yellowed leaves as well, them, made the space, for the gardenias. After half a day of sweating it all way, I’d, gotten rid of my displease. And, I’d, taken a look at the scene, and, it was, breathable, and finally, I’d, rid myself, of the dark clouds that loomed over me these past couple of days.

More importantly, I’d put the fruit trees I’d especially loved which I’d planted inside a pot from before into the ground. And, in this garden which I’d once fought not to have, I’d, placed in some of my most cherished plants. Because, knowing my husband, my husband, who only has very short attention span, will soon forget the existence of this garden, and, I will be, the faithful gardener, who will always be looking after this small patch of my own dreams.

So, this, is how this woman changed her mind, to pull herself out of that tropical depression that she’d been in because of her husband’s temporary fix of having a small garden on their lanai, and this still showed, just how powerful the thought is, change a thought, your world lights up!

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Filed under Expectations, Family Dynamics, Hobbies/Pasttimes, Lessons, Life, Marriages, Properties of Life, Story-Telling, Translated Work

No Matter How Hard It Got, He Still Made His Art, a Student with Cerebral Palsy: I Found My Wings, in My Art

A story of inspiration here, to all, from the Newspapers, translated…

A severely handicapped third-year student with cerebral palsy, who is in the Public He-Mei Experimental School, in the art departments, He enjoyed going to school a lot, and, loved art more, but, his limbs are slowly, becoming more and more stiff by the day, he couldn’t draw or paint on his own, gladly, with the help of his physical therapist and art instructor, they’d made instruments to help him draw and paint, he had the chance, of developing his art skills further, and was able to, knock on the doors of related majors of the varied universities.

He lives in Nantou, in the past twelve years’ time, his mother, Ke would drive him to and from school, and help him to study in the arts.  Ke said, He loved going to school, and, even when he’d fallen ill, he still refused to take a leave of absence, several times that he was kept at home to rest up, he’d started getting upset, and her and her husband had lifted up the white flags toward their son’s requests, and, allowed her child, to “play video games to his heart’s desires, and eat whatever he wanted to,” to stop him from objecting on not being in school.

“I’d made new discoveries at school every single day!”, said He, the teacher taught him to draw, taught him how to use the computer programs to create art, although he was immobilized, his heart soared in the creations freely, he’d hoped, to be like the main character of the latest Miyazaki animated feature, to fly with the wind, to never give up, until he’d achieved his own dreams too.

Every time before he’d started creating his art, He would put on the special wrist support created for him by his art teacher, Lin, and others, and he’d used a sponge, to help him hold on to the pen that he was drawing with, dipped the brush, into the specialized foam cup, and worked hard, to “dip” onto the drawing papers, the multiple dots had formed a picture, like the Western Impressionist artworks.

He’s handicaps exacerbated by the days, and, he’d needed six to eight times more the time that regular students would take, to finish a painting, he’d taken an entire semester, to finish the watercolor piece, “Autumn”, he’d used bright colors, it was breathtaking, and he was invited to put on an art exhibition with the He-Mei Art School.

The principal, Lee, from He-Mei Art School said, that He is of normal intelligence, and knew well, that he is slowly, losing control of his own body, and, the angle to which his wrists and arms are able to move is being reduced by the day, and so, he’d started, planning his studies after he gets admitted into university, and, his spirits are moving, and he is, a role model for his peers.

And so, this high school aged kid didn’t let his handicap stop him from doing what he enjoys, and, with the accommodations made by his teachers and school, as well as with the support from his parents, he was able, to live his dreams.

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Filed under Because of Love, Children with Rare Conditions & Special Needs, Hobbies/Pasttimes, Lessons, Life, Observations, Perspectives, Philosophies of Life, Reality Clashes with Dreams, Self-Images, Story-Telling, The Education of Children

The Coming of the Empty Nest

How to occupy your time, after the kids are all grown, translated…

The friends around me all slowly, marched into the empty nest stage of their lives.

A said, that her daughter went abroad to study for a little over two years now, her son is about to follow his sister’s footstep soon, it’d caused her and her husband to lose the focus of their lives all of a sudden.  B said, that her two daughters went to the southern tip of the island to look for work and to live, another child will be sent off to work, the workplace is too far from home, and he can only stay in the dormitory of the company.  C said lightly, since her child grew up, he’d told her he was going to volunteer abroad, to work-vacate, he’d rarely stayed put in Taiwan during the summers or the winter breaks, and right after her son graduated, he’d immediately gotten accepted to a grad school abroad, went abroad to pursue his studies.  D’s daughter went to work for a foreign airline, and barely made it back to Taiwan in a couple of months, and her son works in Thailand, from before, she’d focused her entire attention on her children, and now, she doesn’t know how she’s going to pass the time.

And my good friend, E had been planning this day for a very long time, before she retired, she’d taken up calligraphy and drawing, fitting to her interests, and she’d trained as a volunteer at the museum district, to work as a guide.  With her children growing up, leaving the nest, getting married, her husband followed her, other than taking classes to enrich himself, he’d also done tai chi at the park, exercised regularly, and gone on tours, and from time to time, they’d taken cruises too, or gone on self-help trips with a couple of good friends, they didn’t seem to be impacted by the empty nest at all, they’d even shared with the younger generations their travels using LINE.  The two of them are at home anywhere they are, as for the home that’s here, they’d filled it up with happiness, and they don’t feel that void.

This still just shows, how important it is, to plan out the times after your retirement, because there WILL be a shift in focus of your lives, with your children all grown up, flying out, if you can’t find things, hobbies, to occupy your time, you will surely feel that wave of emptiness attacking you, but, like this couple who’d jam-packed their schedules, that, is a great way of dealing with the empty nest.

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Filed under Empty Nest, Expectations, Family Matters, Hobbies/Pasttimes, Life, Perspectives, Properties of Life, Socialization

Happiness Comes from Within, on Music & Life

The impact of music on life, translated…

Piano is music, that, was the simplistic impressions I’d held during the childhood years, because growing up in Hong Kong, I’d only come in contact with music from my teacher’s accompaniment in piano class.

I’d always imagined myself in front of the piano, my fingers glided across the keyboard, with the melodies in my head, ups and downs, slow, or fast; as my hands stopped, so had the performance.  And this music was, saved, only, for my ears.

One day in fifth grade, my mother told me to come see her after school, after she’s off work, she took me to the dentist.  My mother worked at Central in Hong Kong, it’s the business center of Hong Kong, other than the jungle of tall office buildings, there are also, a ton of high end shops, in the time of waiting for my mother, I’d wandered into a high-end piano shop, and, I’d held down my unsettled mind, fearing, that I might damage the instruments—every piano there, was so expensive!

“Hey, how come there’s such a tiny piano?”, I’d walked closer to it, it was, a miniature classic toy piano that’s with European style and dark brown color.  Although it was only a toy, but you can touch every single key on it, and can hear its sounds.  That day after I got home, I’d quickly counted the bills and the coins in my turtle piggy bank, and stashed the amount, in my shoes, I’ll bring it home this weekend.

Every day after school, I’d sit, in front of the small electric piano.  And, as my fingers pressed down on the keys, my musical journey began, up and down, quick, or slow.  I’m the only one who gets the melodies I played.

Because I’d gone to play it every single day, my piano and I developed this connection with one another, it’d sang out the songs that’s kept, at the bottom of my heart.  And still, in just two short years, its time is up, and slowly, “walked” off the stage.  Even back then, I’d felt the nostalgia of “the love will always be here”.

When the Listener and Singer Combined into One

The most expensive thing we have in the house, was what my father called, “Our four girls”, so, there wasn’t any budgeting for any of us to take the talent classes, I’d never mentioned of wanting to take up piano lessons.  Second year in middle school, the nuns at my school held a free course, Cantonese songs.  The free was tempting to me, I’d signed up immediately.

We’d first started with the conversations, without the male/female specifications, later on, we’d learned to sing the tunes, counted out the beats, as we sang along.  It’s a different kind of music, truly, turns out, there are other forms of music outside to piano!  Every day I’d hid out on the back lanai to practice, normally, it would be after nine in the evening, after I’m done with my homework, and the chores around the house, I’d started singing, “I’m alone, holding on to the lute………”, but, my hard practices had gotten the complaints from the neighbors, and so, ended, my dreams of singing Cantonese tunes as a teenager.

Later on, going to school, starting a career, getting married, having children, it’d filled up my itinerary, and, taking up music lessons is still, an extravagance, and I can only, hope.  Until one day, as I was doing the dishes, I’d hummed the small tunes, and, penned the lyrics into the songs, using what’s in my heart, and, the dish dryer in front of me became a P.A., for every line I’d sung, the voice rang around the room, and my heart replied too.  Although, this, is still, the music, that only I know of, but I was moved, without knowing why, it’d made me realized, that without the notes on the sheet music, I can still, sing out the happiness inside my heart.

Turns out, so long as your heart’s still there, the music will also be, when the singer and the listener became one, everything will fall into its rightful places.  This, is the most, intoxicating music.

And so, this woman’s love of music is amazing, although she was bombarded by the realities of her own life, her household economics wouldn’t allow her to take up music, and yet, she’d still carried the music loving heart, and that, is the importance, of having a hobby, because you don’t need to entertain anybody else, you just entertain yourselves.

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Filed under Cost of Living, Expectations, Hobbies/Pasttimes, Life, Properties of Life

Outside the Lines of the Sheet Music Pages

How music had had an impact on someone’s life, translated…

The year I turned nineteen, I’d conquered the musical notes, with the strength of conquering Mt. Everest, because of my older cousin who was studying in N.T.U., I’d had another level of understanding of it…

The Musical Adventures of My Childhood Years

At age six, the group of us in kindergarten hopped scotch, but instead, I’d stayed indoors, and treated the black and white keys, as well as the lined sheet music as my toys instead.

With the years of taking lessons increased, I’m like a young calf, no longer just satisfied by the pastures I was grazing on anymore, wanted to run even farther off, to find another possibility for myself.  And so, other than the practice classical pieces that my instructor had assigned to me, I’d started trying out those more upbeat music, started with the sonatas to new classics, and the pieces played by Richard Clayderman, all became my practice pieces.

And still, the result of my childish adventures are half and half.  What I gained the most about this period of experimentation was, that I’d opened up a door for myself toward popular music, when I was in the fourth grade, the Chinese romance writer’s books were televised into primetime soap operas, I’d hummed the theme song, and written down the notes of the music, and a lot of my classmates had asked me for the copies of the sheet music I’d written out, and I’d met more good friends.  What was worse, was that I’d gotten too intrigued by the flowery ways of playing the music, it’d made my hand a bit deformed, I now have, a pair of large hands that weren’t in the right ratio with my body, and, my classmates always joked on how I got a pair of farmer’s hands.

On the year I’d turned nineteen, my understanding of music was taken to a brand new level, because of my older cousin who studied in N.T.U.

My cousin is the only son, from an all-star middle school, to the most famous, all-boys high school, all the way to National Taiwan University, he’d had a smooth ride to the top academically, plus my uncle and aunt are both in high-up positions in their work, he’d had a good life.  But, when he was in his last year of high school, my uncle died by accident, and when he was a sophomore in university, my aunt was diagnosed with cancer, and she’d passed away too, in just no more than two short years, he’d lost both his parents, it was hitting him even harder, made him, who wasn’t at all, that social, even MORE isolated.  At which time, I was just, coming up north for school, I was just one year younger than he was, and, in the urging and begging of my relatives, I’d become, his roommate.

We’d taken up tennis lessons together, learned to ride motorcycles, and, go to church every once in a while, because his professor and his wife knew what had happened in the family, hoped that he could get involved, and become more social again, in order to show gratitude toward his professor, whenever we got the time, we’d gone to the church activities.  Naturally it wasn’t, at all, always smooth going, as his roommate either, for instance, if I’d not placed something in its rightful place, he’d started lecturing me, and, I’d rebutted, by cranking up the music even louder.

Writing the Emotions that Nobody Knows About Using the Notes

After a semester, my cousin went from locking his bedroom doors completely to having his doors half-opened.  One night, I’d carried some midnight snacks home, he, who was somewhat anal asked me, “Do you want to come into my room to hear some music?”, that’s real odd, the room that the cleaning lady couldn’t even enter into, I’d get an invitation?  Without a second word, I’d carried the stewed meats in one hand, drinks in the other, ran into his room, found me a seat, and started, chowing down.

As we’d eaten, and talked, I’d realized, that the radio was playing the same song over and over, the singer had a full voice, and her tone’s quality made the melody feel even lonelier.  “What’s this song called?  Nobody Knows?”  “You’ve heard it?  The singer, Tony Rich………”, my cousin hollered, he couldn’t believe, that his younger girl cousin who’s somewhat a hillbilly, who’s totally careless, can have the same tastes in music as he.  I’d told him, because there’s high repetition in the lyrics, it would be hard, to not remember.  He’d nodded, hinting, that I’d guessed it right, then, he’d continued, “you know what, if you keep your heart in a diary, then, someone will peek into it for sure, but, writing your emotions with music, there’s no way of losing, only you alone will know it.”

Wow!  So, music can manage to continue oneself from the present to the past too, that is something I’d never considered, I’d given him a thumbs up, “You are, an engineer!”  Other than my curiousness, I’d started listening to the lyrics, “I pretend that I’m glad you went away/These four walls closing more every day/And I’m dying inside/And nobody knows it but me.”

Looking at my cousin, sitting with his back towards me, I’d felt this sourness, rushing up from my heart, my dearest cousin, you still had a ton of things left unsaid to auntie, don’t you?

In not knowing, I’d taken after my older cousin’s ways, of recording my life down with the songs: Hsin-Jie Lee’s “Freedom” expressed this false sense of freedom I’d felt when I broke up; Je-Ching Chu’s “Sister’s Drum” roused up this uneasiness that I’d felt, as I was about to graduate, and enter into the workforce, turned me into a backpacker, to Tibet, leading me to believe, that that, was the exit to my own life; CNBLUE’s “Try Again, Smile Again”, helped me through the tortured darkness of the game of money and power at work. And, Huei Jiang’s “Asking the Gods” helped me express the difficulties of choosing between my own parents, and my career…

The candles on the cake is closing in, to forty, and now, I’d played the pianos, not for the sake of conquering anything, and, played the music, not for the purpose of getting the lost memories back again, I’d just, enjoyed the simple notes that were connected.

And so, you can see the maturation process of this woman, of how the purpose of music had changed, as she matured, became of age, and, how music played a vital role for her and someone she loved and cared about, and that, is the power of music, you don’t necessarily need to understand the words, but, just listen to the melodies…

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Filed under Because of Love, Being Alone, Connections, Coping Mechanisms, Cost of Living, Expectations, Family Matters, Healing Process, Hobbies/Pasttimes, Interpersonal Relations, Letting Go, Life, Loneliness/Solitude, Loss, Observations

Beautifying the Parks, Everybody Chips in

It’s a collective effort, because we share this common hang-out environment, translated…

Since was younger, I’d been a green thumb, I’d planted various kinds of flowers and grasses, bonsais, and I’d even set up a small pond, to keep the fishes.  I’d made the entry to my house into a small garden, placed a few pottery there, with the Japanese vine climbing all over, the multicolor flowers bloomed at the same time, it look so lively, and it’d lightened my mood.

After I’d started leading the way, my neighbors followed my footsteps, and, our whole alley now whiffed of floral aromas, and looked very much alive.

Many years ago when I retired, I didn’t want to stay at home, other than volunteering, and taking enrichment courses, I’d also entered into the training for beautifying the environment of our neighborhoods, and received the beginners’ and progressive level certifications. And took what I learned, applied it to my life.

I saw how the park in our community, because it’d not been fixed up, had lost its original appeal, plus the equipments are getting old, and, was in desperate need of being remodeled, and I’d gotten the thought of “why not beautify it?”

In order to get the cohesiveness of the community going, the community had a naming contest, after we’d set up the names for the park, the small hill, the resting place, we’d taken ideas from everybody, started planting the flowers, the grasses, and, set up a windmill too, to make a logo, to show the difference of our community compared to the rest of other communities.

Then, every member of the community chipped in, first, they’d worked together, to clean up the mess, then, the fixer-upper.  The paints on the slides, along with other children’s play equipment are peeling off, we’d repainted the items, and had the art experts, to make cartoon prints; the seating of the small shack was broken, we’d upped the foundation, to make sure, that it was safe for people to rest there.

It was, in the dead of summer that we’d all started working on it, our sweats fell like the rain, but, none of us complained of how hard the work was, or how tired we were getting.  After a few month’s time, the park regained its shiny colors, the floor was cleaned, the equipments, fixed up property, and, we’d finally seen the sweet fruits of our labor.  Seeing how the residents would come when they have time, strolling, the parents, with the children to play, it’d made all the hard work, the sweats, more than worthwhile.

The day that the remodeling was finished, we’d even held a concert under the trees, had the school band come to perform, and treated the residents to free coffee and snacks, to enjoy the music.  At which time, the gentle breezes came, with the music, sounding so softly in our ears, feels like heaven on earth!

Because you saw the need, and, started taking the initiative to make the improvements, and, people were infected by your passion, your zest, your drive, and they started working alongside you too, and, because you all worked together, that, was why this “collective effort” felt fruitful, it’d brought the community closer together, and, it’d beautified the environment too.

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Filed under Cause & Effect, Connections, Expectations, Friendships, Helping Behaviors, Hobbies/Pasttimes, Interactions Shared with the World, Interpersonal Relations, Life, Observations, Perspectives, Philosophies of Life, Properties of Life, Socialization, Story-Telling, Translated Work