Counting on One Hand

After my brief and rather depressing entry yesterday, I am glad to report that today was a pretty good day. I did wake up still feeling ill, but I have grown accustomed to that. I could count the days that I have been healthy, since moving here, on one hand.

Let me digress and explain that “one hand” thing. Normally, one from my generation would take that to mean 5 or less. However, the kids nowadays can use one hand to count up to 9. What is more amazing to me, and a practice of theirs I found out recently, was that they can count up to 99 with both hands. I used to joke about people counting with their fingers, that they couldn’t count past 10. Well, now they can, and do.

Before I get to the happenings from today, I must report that my website passed the 200 hits mark today. Although I figure that my mother is half of those hits, that is still pretty decent. I didn’t know anyone cared. You know, I have a “Citizen Kane” complex. (The movie must be seen to understand that last comment.)

Regarding today, I had another busy schedule. I woke up at the crack of dawn, in order to meet some workers that came to our house. They made and installed screens on most of our windows. Also, they made a big screen for our outside our bedroom. We have a patio outside of our bedroom. Shu Mei and I think that the cockroaches might have come from there. The screen now covers the entire opening, so that will stop any more roaches from coming in.

There is a belief here that a pregnant woman cannot be around construction where holes are being put in things. I don’t know where the belief comes from, but her mother holds strongly to it and Shu Mei respects her mother. So, she couldn’t be around the men installing the screens. She went to the school to teach the morning class. I stayed home. While the men installed the screens, I vacuumed out the window sills and installed some weather stripping around the back door sill. I’m becoming quite domesticated!

Also, I finished making an audio recording that I began a few weeks ago. The project was supposed to have been completed over a month ago, but procrastination and computer problems (I use the computer to record), led to this long delay. The audio recording is a companion to the Up and Away English program, Student Book Level 1. We are using that book with the students in the Ch’ing-shui class. One of them, Linda, needs extra help with pronunciation. Therefore, I have been making this companion audio recording. In its entirety, it is about 3 hours. I was transferring it from CDs to audio cassettes.

After the men left, I took a late morning shower. I thought I heard the doorbell ring, so I jumped out and put a towel around me. Going to the bedroom patio, I didn’t see anyone. It must have been a gecko lizard, as they make a chirping sound similar to our doorbell. Shu Mei says that our doorbell sounds like a bird chirping, but I have never heard a bird chirp quite like that. It does sound somewhat like a gecko.

Speaking of the gecko lizards, they are everywhere. When I went to get a drink of water, filtered water thanks to Nu Skin, a gecko was hanging from the water faucet. I don’t know who was more startled, him or me. He was just hanging there, like he was expecting the faucet to go on at any time. The ironic thing was that he ran away, as soon as I turned it on. Dumb gecko; I would have let him get a drink. I like geckos. They kill bugs.

Shu Mei, on the other hand, equally hates bugs AND geckos. I take that back, she hates cockroaches more than anything, then all other bugs and geckos. She says that the geckos make a mess, of their feces (“poo”), everywhere. I told her that dead bugs are contained in that stuff. I tell her that this is a good thing, but I can’t convince her of that. She simply does not like them.

Anyway, I went back and finished my shower and then greeted Colin at the door. I forgot to mention that we got our sofa in the midst of all this activity. Apparently, Colin didn’t know that it was a new sofa. From his actions, I gather that he thought it was a Disneyland ride and he had an endless supply of E tickets. (In my younger years, one would receive, for a price, a packet of tickets when s/he went to Disneyland. The tickets contained in the packet were labeled with letters, depending which kind of ride they were for. E tickets were good for any kind of ride. Therefore, they were the best.) Needless to say, “Colin, get off of the couch,” was the sentence of the hour.

I hope that Colin is retaining the things I am trying to teach him. It appears that he is progressing, but I am not certain at this point. One thing is for certain, he has a great deal of energy. Because of this, he loses interest very quickly. I am challenged to find ways of getting his interest in the subject matter, phonics, back. Regarding phonics, I am becoming more familiar with it with each passing day. I really believe that I could have spoken English a lot better at an early age, if I had been taught phonics. I think that what I was taught was called “whole word learning”.

After the tutor session with Colin, I went to the school and took over for Shu Mei. She went to her brother’s house to rest. There is a new dinosaur exhibit at the Ch’ing-shui Art Museum, so Linda and I took the children there. I will put some pictures on the website from there this week. The class, which consists of 10 children, had a very good time. I learned that I can still keep control over them, with a little help (a.k.a. “Linda”).

After the museum, I went to Ch’ing-shui with Shu Mei. She went upstairs to her parents and I taught the one-hour class. A few of the children had a difficult time understanding what a noun is, but the majority picked it up. The few that didn’t understand were laughed at. It wasn’t a mean spirited laugh, but more of an empathetic laugh. They, the ones that were having a tough time, just laughed along too. They are a really close class. Shu Mei gave me the idea of moving the children around periodically and using the ones that pick things up quicker to help the slower ones.

After the class, I told Linda’s (Linda the student, not my coworker) that I will bring the audio cassette tapes in for her tomorrow. She was happy about that. Also, I asked her to make certain Linda brings a writing book in tomorrow. I want her to practice writing, not just pronunciation.

After that, I joined Shu Mei upstairs. She said that she had just gotten sick and needed to eat something. Taking the opportunity, I told her I wanted to go get a haircut, while she ate. She said that she would join me, after she ate. So, off I went to get my hair cut.

The girl that cut my hair did a really good job. The barber shop, located about one block from Shu Mei’s parents’ house, is ran by an elderly man and his daughter. They, like many families here in Taiwan, live above their business. The daughter tried to speak to me, as she cut my hair. She speaks very little English, but managed to tell me about the two boys that ride bicycles and wear white shirts. She said that they were from America, but spoke Chinese. Immediately, I knew she was speaking of the Mormon missionaries. She said that she liked to talk with them.

Toward the end of my haircut, when the straight razor was being used (they don’t do that in the US anymore, after the AIDS scare came about), Shu Mei came in. I came to find out that Shu Mei was an old classmate of the girl who was cutting my hair. They spoke a bit, the girl telling Shu Mei that she remembered her a lot skinnier. For some reason, Shu Mei didn’t tell her that she was pregnant. AND, the comment by the girl wasn’t taken as being rude. What a different culture this is!

After the barber shop, Shu Mei and I drove about 30 minutes to the hospital, where her doctor works, for her monthly exam. We had hoped that he could tell us the sex of our child. However, the fetus was in a difficult position for him to do that, so we will have to wait until next month. In the interim, he suggested that Shu Mei get a blood test on the fetus to see if it has Down Syndrome. We already decided the test wouldn’t be needed, as it doesn’t matter to us. We will gratefully accept the baby, no matter what problems or conditions it has. This is truly a gift from God and we are so happy for it.

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