assorted update

Last weekend was an expensive but rewarding one. We’d taken Friday off (we have to use up some vacation time as a corporate cost-cutting measure) so that day we had our little “Seder” dinner.
Ted had decided to try out custom tailoring, so on Saturday we got to go pick up the suit and pants he’d ordered.

AFter that we walked over from the tailoring street to the camera street (stores tend to cluster here) where I picked up the macro lens I had been wanting. Here’s a sample of what it can do, with some of my labradorite beads:

On Sunday we went out to the Taiwan Traditional Arts Center. Ted had been wanting a stone tea tray; we saw some we liked in the local mall, but wanted to see if we could find a few different ones to look at. I thought the Arts Center might have them and he’d never been there (I went on a company outing when he was out of town). We did find one, and then the shop’s owner took us upstairs and served us some twenty-year-old Pu-er tea. This had its own special ceremony; first the tea had to be roasted (in the gourd-shaped roaster you can see on the table) to get rid of any mold or off flavors. From there it was the usual ceremony. First boiling water is poured into and swished around the cups to clean them. This is why you need a tea tray, for any spills – sometimes the water is poured all over the cups and teapot, so the tray has a vent that goes weither to a tray beneath or through a tube into a bucket. Hot water may be poured into the teapot or over it, to warm it. Then the tiny teapot is filled with tea leaves, then with water. The first potful is poured out (more getting rid of any icky stuff). Then the second potful is made; it steeps only 30 seconds or so, and you pour it into another container so it doesn’t get any stronger. You fill the cups from that. From then there are several rounds; fill the pot, pour into the decanter, fill the cups, drink. The pu-er tea had a strong earthy taste, almost like bark. We bought the tray Ted liked and got a small pot to go with it, though now we also need a Yixing (traditional red clay) teapot if we want to make Oolong properly, because of course we really needed more tea cups to add to the ones from my grandmother, the ones from Rudder’s great-grandmother, the ones from our good china, the ones from his grandparents’ extra china set that they gave us, and the set we bought in Seoul.

We also got recruited to paddle in the Dutch community’s dragon boat this year – apparently too many Dutch people will be out of town that weekend, so we’re ringers. Last year not enough people showed up at the midweek 6AM practices (actually I think this year’s captain was one of those) so the team captain has decided that well-attended dry-land practices are better than half a team or less on the water. So they are holding practice on Wednesday nights at a local bar, using broomsticks for paddles – sorry this picture is blurry, but it’s the only one that really shows what’s going on:

The bar is very happy about it, because not only do they get all these people in, but now they have very clean floors.

Meanwhile, the dragonboats won’t be on the water until May, so it will be dry-land practice only until then. However, they’ve already put the docks in, so we actually got to take our boats out this morning for the first time in months – yay! Blisters’r’us.

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