Monday, December 31, 2012

in my dream / 在夢裡


I spent two whole days traveling to Thailand in my imagination, totally leaving behind my drawing kits and sketchbooks. 


I ended up looking for my new sketchbook in my dream last night. It took me much effort only to find nothing. 


So when the crowds outside welcome the dazzling sounds and lights, I am going to utter in the new year with lines and colors in the house, in a very quiet manner...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cultural tour in Taipei / 台北文化之旅

攝於田園城市書店.台北 / photo taken in Gardencity Bookstore, Taipei 


Since coming back to Taipei from London, I have felt the urge to know more about my city. Thus, when I discovered the cultural walking tour held by Taipei National University of the Arts, I was rather thrilled. The tour of December is about the bookstores and cultural and creative industry in Datong and Zhongshan Districts in Taipei, which used to be the major business hubs. 


The first stop is Gardencity Publishers and Bookstore near exit 1 of Shuanglian MRT Station. The owner, as you can see in the middle of the photo, focuses on publishing books written by Taiwanese authors and about Taiwan. Then they are translated into other languages and promoted abroad. There are also illustrated publications in the form of picture books more for adults. If you are interested, why not take a try? 


The basement of the bookstore is a small but tasteful exhibition room. The publisher emphasizes that they are particularly interested in works that center around people or handmade feel. The upcoming exhibit, starting from Jan. 5, is about love letters in the form of visual images by several photographers. 


During our stay in this bookstore, I recalled the trip to Nobrow in London half a year ago. Back then I had the idea that there wouldn't be so many resources in Taipei. Now I am glad that I have taken a step forward, thus realizing that many Taiwanese are actually working hard for art and culture. 

攝於台灣好.店 / photo taken at Lovely Taiwan Shop 


The second stop is Lovely Taiwan Shop near Zhongshan MRT station. The foundation Lovely Taiwan was founded by several entrepreneurs who were brought together by their common goal to protest against the construction of freeways in the east Taiwan. Later, they decided to turn their opposition into positive contribution. Their ideal is to do something for the cultural industry of Taiwan. 


Apart from promoting artworks by Taiwanese artists, the foundation also cooperates with the minority groups in Taiwan. They stress the importance of stories behind every product. In this way, customers  get to learn more about Taiwan. In the shop we sampled chocolate made by female prisoners in Taichung. Also, we tasted black tea planted by farmers who would like to be on their own feet again after the famous 921 Earthquake. Most of all, I was surprised to hear that now international tourists make it a point to experience Taiwanese culture on their trips here, in which the creative industry plays an important part. 


I bought one of the white mugs shown in the photo above, designed by a Taiwanese artist two months ago. It not only brings me great joy at work but also attracts the attention of many colleagues. 

攝於日星鑄字行 / photo taken at Ri Xing Type Foundry  


I was most looking forward to visiting Ri Xing Type Foundry on the walking tour. Since reading about it in the newspapers two months ago, I had wanted to take a look at the shop in person. Ri Xing is the only type foundry left in Taiwan now. It is more than a shop; in fact, there is much historic significance to it. 


There are English and Chinese typefaces in various sizes, and the customers can take their time to select the words they are looking for. 


It has occurred to me how to make use of these resources. Next time I'll go back to the foundry, with a BIG budget! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The magic channel / 神奇通道


I found the boys nestled in the study all warmed by the orange-color light upon coming home from work one day. I couldn't help sitting down on the floor along with them, but little did I know that this was the beginning of a very wacky story. The children asked me where I was going the same evening. Because I didn't want to give a boring answer such as attending a seminar, I made up an answer with a beautiful visual image: I am going to the sea adjacent to the forest, and from there, you'll see a whole sky of stars. I guess I gave too tempting an answer that before I left, the boys lingered at the door begging me to take them along next time. 


The major reason why the boys are so into the story is that I include all their favorite cartoons and books in it. I also make my recent favorite Korean drama part of it. Kai loves the horse of the protagonist,  so we hide it in the forest near the sea. Not satisfied with mere verbal description, we decide to draw the story, which we name "The Magic Channel." From here, the boys can go wherever they want to.


Though I can guarantee I can make kids very happy, but they gotta have a very strong sense of reality!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Shakespearan week / 莎士比亞週


I think my theme of the week is Shakespeare. I am currently reading the part with many quotes from his plays in The Brave New World. And the young girls in London sent me  a postcard from Stratford-upon-Avon earlier this week. 


I took Jazel on a birthday trip to Stratford-upon-Avon at the beginning of this year, and Jazel took Liwen there for her birthday at the end of the year. Though in Taipei, I benefited from them both too. I know how fantastic my year in London was when I look back on it, but there is never a tinge of  sadness. That's because I know the ripple effect will last and expand in my life now... 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Book / 我的書


I spent hours doing the layout for my book every day during the past two weeks. Today I finally sent the book to the publisher for the picture book contest. God showered me with help during this period of time. There was Caterina in Italy, who read the book for me before I started the layout design. My family had to go through the repeated process of selecting the best image out of several similar ones for me. My colleague Anna in the office was constantly pestered because of my ignorance in Indesign and Photoshop. Even the employees in the printing company offered their help without charging me extra. I feel because I wanted to achieve the goal really badly, the whole world was united to help my dream come true. 


After I had the book printed, I read it to Kai. He didn't want to part with the book upon hearing that it would be away for a while. Well, when my stars are flying, I have less than one month before the next competition is due. And there are so many other stories I want to tell...

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Go with the flow / 順勢而爲


I went to the Taiwanese film Touch of the Light. The heroine says, what happens along the way is not there to stop us from reaching our goals. In fact, the setbacks are meant to take us closer to our dreams. 


As long as we LISTEN to what life wants to say and go with the flow. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Codega / 點燈者



In Venice in the Middle Ages there was once a profession for a man called a codega--a fellow you hired to walk in front of you at night with a lit lantern, showing you the way, scaring off thieves and demons, bringing you confidence and protection through the dark streets. 

excerpt from Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

When the rain stops / 雨停了


In the morning, the rain stops. I savor the beauty of silence in half-awakeness. 


A sentence pops out of my mind on my way out: This world is not all beautiful, but I want to be the light.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

about djembe / 打鼓和人生


I found that I sometimes lost my tempo though there was only one set of rhythms. The instructor said, at moments like this, just go for the bass beats. The low and heavy sounds did help to keep the rhythms steady. 


There is the possibility of harmony when we play the djembe with strangers though everyone has their own rhythms. However, we might end up in cacophony when performing with people whom we think we know well. The instructor suggested that it's either because we don't know our tempos or because we do not listen to one another. 


I want to be as firm as the bass beats. You can't lead me by the nose.

Monday, November 26, 2012

i am not crying / 我沒有在哭


Last week I received a letter from World Vision. It was not until then that I realized I am actually sponsoring a little boy Abassi from Niger instead of Mphande from Malawi, whom I'd sponsored for several years. It was quite unexpected for me because right before I left for the UK, Mphande wished me a long life so that I could offer him help for an extended period. I called up the organization and one lady explained that Mphande and his family had moved out of the sponsored area. She said maybe his family had become better off financially. 


During my MRT ride today, I heard a little boy saying to his grandma, "Somehow my eyes are shedding tears, but I am not crying." The beauty and innocence of his words were so priceless. 


I have a sudden urge to look up the map of Africa. Niger is in the west of Africa, in fact, kind of close to the centre. Malawi is rather small, tucked between some countries in the southeast. Is it raining in the boys' eyes too?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Two pairs of hands / 兩雙手


Two days ago while I was lying on my back staring at the laptop on the sofa, Kai saw me and said, "The edges of your T-shirt curl up. You'll catch a cold." He insisted on making them smooth and flat for me before going away. 


Yesterday I attended a workshop on djembe. At the end of the lesson, everyone's palms were red and swollen. The instructor wanted us to pair up and massage each other's back. Suddenly my dilemma as a single gal surfaced again. Before I could react, the other single women near me had found partners. Only a middle-aged gentleman who was kind of far away from me was left. At this moment, the single ladies looked at us suggesting, "Why don't you two form a group?" No sooner had I begun to feel embarrassed than he came up to me saying, "I'll help you." After I sat down, he pulled up my hood and    flattened my T-shirt with tenderness first. It was a gentleman who is as elegant as a tai-chi master. Then we thanked each other for the beautiful encounter and went on our own life journey without leaving any contacts at all. 


These two pairs of hands, whether intimate or foreign, are both so full of good will. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Brown rice / 糙米飯


I have been addicted to the Japanese comic series--Shinya Shokudo about a restaurant that is open from midnight to 7 a.m. The cook prepares all kinds of food, as long as you name it for his late-night customers. Though the food described in the comics are very tempting, for me, it's the stories behind every dish that tug at my heartstrings. Reading the books on rainy days has a strong healing effect.


Influenced by the comics, I felt like drawing sketches of food after work today. I stared at a box of cooked brown rice on the table and started to draw it grain by grain. As I observed the difference and position of every grain, I gradually calmed down. In the end, my whole being was filled with peaceful joy. 


Though I've been trying to look at the world from a scientist's perspective, but I can't help thinking, food has life too and it interacts with people in its peculiar ways. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Travel with imagination / 想像力的旅行


While preparing the teaching materials for tomorrow's advanced course, I watched the film segments of Miss Potter for several times. My trip to the Lake District thus came to mind. And my way of re-living the lovely moments was certainly to draw a picture! 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Draw a line / 劃一條線


After the previous episode of scribbling on my Macbook a few months ago, Kai couldn't control his urge to doodle on my drawing again. We had to resort to the punishment that really works for him: Draw a line. He can't come to our place to play with us. At first it was supposed to last for two days, but Kai's youngest aunt Tsung insisted that I treat the boys too well. I thus forbade Kai to come for a week.


From that day on, Kai could only smile and wave at us at the door to their apartment. On the second evening I couldn't help walking over to check on him. Seeing him alone, I asked, "Are you lonely?" He replied, "I am." When Tsung heard us talk, she came over saying to me, "You should leave him alone!" I then quickly ran away.


To be honest, adults don't always enjoy punishing children. I also felt kind of lonely. That thin line, for me, is as thick as a wall. I even had to give my love to a chubby boy I met that day in the elevator.


Three days later, Mom held Kai in her arms and brought him over, saying, "See, you do not cross the line at all!" Meanwhile, we, who'd like to be persistent, asked in confusion, "Has it been a week?"


There are so many adults with so many rules of their own. No wonder children are always quick to see through us and have their ways. It's a bumpy road to put my recent motto into practice: Those who are consistent in what they do will eventually win respect.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

MFEO / 天生一對


I read about a teenager's story yesterday in the papers. His parents are both blind, and before they met each other, they had lost their sight. The boy even offered to describe their looks jokingly. 


The couple didn't miss each other despite their blindness. The story gives me much faith because I am not someone who doesn't see...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What's REAL / 真實


I received two letters this Monday from friends who are concerned about why I closed my fb account.  I got two gifts this Tuesday from a friend who lives close and a friend who lives faraway. In my life without facebook, I have cut off my connection with the past and the virtual world. But I feel so down-to-earth in my real-life relationships, whether it be joy or sadness. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Like the watermelon / 像西瓜一樣


Von's granny brought a giant watermelon from Tainan. Seeing the babe, I couldn't help drawing a sketch of it. Though summer was long over, I could feel its sweetness still lingering on.


I moved the watermelon from the fridge to the study. As I was totally engrossed in drawing, Von exclaimed, "Auntie Wanda, you really love drawing. You can't stop yourself from drawing food!" I replied, "That's because it's so beautiful!"


But there is something Von doesn't know for the moment. Like the watermelon, his and my love is both weighty with seemingly-light transparency.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Milky Way Trail / 銀河步道

攝於貓空.台北 / photos taken in Maokong, Taipei 

200,000 / 二十萬


Adeline told me that according to a study, each of us has about 200,000 soul mates on earth. I did a little bit of math. In other words, we can be in love with a new person every day for 548 years, if we get to live that long. Because of the theory, I feel very hopeful about my yet-to-come love life.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Persimmon / 柿子


I got three persimmons as gifts from two very lovely colleagues this week. One of them became my weekend object of observation.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Observe / 觀


Now I am learning to be a scientist. I start by observing the world objectively. My first object is the well-designed Tatung cooker. 

Monday, November 05, 2012

the little horse is newlY / 新生的小馬



生 (



the little horse is newlY

by e. e. cummings

the little horse is newlY 

Born) he knows nothing, and feels 
everything; all around whom is

perfectly a strange
ness(Of sun 
light and of fragrance and of 

Singing) is ev
erywhere (a welcom
ing dream: is amazing)
a worlD. and in 

this world lies: smoothbeautifuL
ly folded; a (brea
thing a gro
Wing) silence, who;
is: somE

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Caterina's Chinese words 2 / 凱特的中國字 2


Caught off guard by youthful ignorance and insolence, my energy was "sucked" away at a lightning speed. But I figured out that the people and experiences that hurt us can empower us too. To interpret Caterina's favorite word "river," I determine to turn anger into positive energy and make it flow unceasingly. That's how I interpret the word. 


While I was retrieving my lost balance, I saw how everyone struggles for their life lesson. I would like to give the riverful of energy to those in need, especially Li-wen in London...

Charging batteries / 充電

攝於新竹港南 / photos taken in Gangnang, Hsinchu 

Thursday, November 01, 2012

playing / 玩


This has been a trying week. Even I find it hard to swallow. Fortunately, there are always soul-comforting images waiting for me at home...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Anticipation / 期待


At 7 a.m. every morning, the first thing Von does after  getting up is looking down from the window to see off his parents. His lingering eyes and love make it impossible for me to take off the lens from his small body. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

So I exist / 故我在

我說故事故我在。  —電影「伊麗莎白」導演夏克哈卡帕

"I tell a story, so I exist." by the film director of Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Shekhar Kapur

young and foolish / 赤子之心

Stay young, stay foolish. 


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Open / 開


The Chinese word of the week is "open." Not wanting to be restrained by the form of the Chinese character, I decide to go for a more abstract pictorial interpretation. 


Today I heard a fantastic quote from the movie director and screen-writer Andrew Stanton's talk by an anonymous social worker: There isn't anyone you couldn't love once you've heard their life stories. My footnote: If they are willing to open up.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Feedback / 回饋

小亮繪 / drawn by Liang


Sometimes I know I focus so much on a detail that I lose sight of the whole picture. But luckily, there is always feedback from the outside world that reminds me that I am only temporarily blind.


After I gave away the story The Warrior and the Ladybug to Liang, Emily has been telling me how much joy it has brought him and his younger brother Yo. I also attached some exercise sheets in the pack. Upon seeing his work, I knew he is way much more talented than me. I am no more than the medium in the whole process, but I do not feel discouraged because he outshines me. On the contrary, I am glad he let me in his world. Adeline couldn't help explaining how Liang does not accept people so easily, especially when she experienced that in person. I asked Emily to bring Liang to the office next time because I'd like to be his friend, the face-to-face kind.


Meichien said I "adopt" many children, and they will be my guardian angels after growing up. It looks like I won't have to wait until then. They have showered me with tons of feedback. When I was listening to Yen-j's "Temporary boyfriend" with Kai, I asked him jokingly if he wants to be my temporary bf. He said yes at a lightning speed, and when Von heard that, he offered to be my boyfriend as if he didn't want to miss such a precious opportunity. I think this gift will warm my heart for a long long time...