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On A Day Like Today

address in Chinese

Today began like many a Monday in whatever country I’m in.  I started some laundry, fixed the kids their breakfast, and made a schedule for the day.  When I made the schedule, I think I may have forgotten that I was in a foreign country, only know a very few words of the language, and only know where a few places are.  So maybe I set myself up for frustration.

Soon after reading the Bible with the kids, which included some fun and encouraging discussion, we reviewed our current address and phone number while looking at a map of Taipei.  That required some multi-dimensional thinking because we turn so many times just getting out of the building.   Not to mention, that when we walk around and about there are look alike stores and franchises very frequently.  But we made progress and are considering the possibility of letting the kids out of the apartment by themselves once in a while.

Then I made a trip to a local grocery store.  I walked, as usual, and came back pulling my granny cart of purchases.  That is much more rigorous than it sounds.  Besides manipulating many variations in the sidewalks and asphalt of back lanes, there is the trick of keeping it moving balanced on the larger two wheels in such a way that it doesn’t constantly hit the back of my heels or hit a bump and fly side-ways.

The kids were waiting at home for a trip to the local public pool in order to swim laps.  Even though I ended up being nearly an hour later than planned due to things like many of the aisles in the grocery store having been shuffled last night, I have to get them out somehow, sometime.  We had a quick, light snack and went for a swim.

The swim was enjoyed by all and we made it back to the home base around 1:40.  Soon, they were eating lunch and I was beginning literature studies with them.  For the first time here in Taiwan, we had 3 phone calls in a row.  I don’t have caller ID here and it has so far always  been Greg or our local support contacts with necessary information.  This time it was all “social” calls, two shorter, one longer.  But I wasn’t bothered.  I’m definitely not at a point here where I want to discourage any potential friends from contacting us.  Its good for everyone if I make contact with the outside world.  Jesse benefited just last week by being introduced to some friends through one of my contacts.

I hadn’t forgotten my schedule, but was plugging along with major points that I remembered, were distinctly time oriented, or became imminently needful (kids needing help with studies).  Still, it seemed best to take a look at it and evaluate.  I saw that I was behind and  realized the impossibility, at 3:30 PM, of making it to the home improvement store, finding envelopes, going to the post office, scrubbing my bathroom top to bottom, and making dinner.  I’ve been to the home improvement store once, but the route is not clear in my mind.  I also have to keep reminding myself that I can’t just whip in, ask an associate for help, read the labels, and drive myself home with my purchase.  After convincing myself it was not necessary today,  I moved on to the next item.

I have been looking for envelopes since we arrived.  I still haven’t found them.  Why I thought I could find them today, I don’t know.  I spent about half an hour looking through my resources and studying the map.  One place looked like it might have them, but now it was getting closer to 4:30 PM.  Its even more difficult to make it right to a new store.  Chinese camouflage or something.  They might list the store name in English in the expatriate handbook, but that doesn’t mean that the actual building has any obvious English letters.  Mix that with the shear volume of signs to read and you get exhaustion with one trip.  It occurred to me belatedly that I don’t know the exact location or the hours of the local post office either.  I concluded there wasn’t much hope for the rest of the day and started to cry.

The good news is that after a few tears, a shower, and some encouraging words from Greg, I made a wonderful dinner.  I baked the chicken legs in soy sauce and orange juice with a bit of ginger powder, garlic granules, and a sprinkle of brown sugar.  I sauteed  fresh broccoli pieces, cashews,  and pieces of green onion in peanut oil and salt.  This went well with rice.  I was so happy with it, that I didn’t mind so much that the chocolate cookies didn’t work.  Greg is researching what they do to their brown sugar here, because something is different and detrimental to our favorite recipe.  We’re still able to eat the cookies, but not without experimenting a lot, and then they still aren’t the same.

a day like today dinner

Today is over.  Tomorrow I’ll probably make a shorter list.

  • Laura,

    Your dinner sounds just yummy! My mom also felt frustrated at times by the length of time it can take to navigate ‘simple’ errands in a foreign country, but it’s bound to get easier as you go.



  • mmm, dinner sounds yummy.

    I made a stir fry with zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, bell peppers, shrimp, leeks, brown rice, and mandarin oranges, flavored with a little ginger and curry powder yesterday, with scrambled eggs on the side. I would rather have used some sort of Cajun seasoning, but unfortunately I didn’t have anything like that lying around… Oh, well, another time.

  • Lisa in Jax

    I don’t know if you know this but you can make brown sugar if you can get white sugar and molasses. The ratio is 1 cup of sugar to 2 tbsp molasses. has a lot of neat recipes like this.



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