Friday, July 27, 2007

CANADA!! (Day 1)

For two years Canada has been the Place that I've longed for. TOO many times have I seen on the magazine covers those pristine landscape of the Rockies, with some old-fashion brick cabin or lodge or castle quietly nestled at a forested corner. My fascination didn't start with Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain; however, when I saw the movie I thought it brought particular gentleness, sensitivity, and even heartbreaking sensibility to the landscape. From then on I regarded Rockies in a more special light. It is a mystery why the Rockies are so particularly spellbinding to me as Towada Lake and Oirase River had been and still are. (The first time I came across pictures of Oirase on JR advertisement pamphlets was before embarkment of our whirlwind pan-Japan trip. The second time was on Shinkansen, where I asked a lady the place in the advertisement, which I had carried with me. I was surprised at myself when I unexpectedly jumped off the Shinkansen and broke off from our group when the train approached Aomori.) Maybe there are few places in the world that hold special spiritual connections with you. You may not have gone there yet but somehow they beckon to you. I am not as fully charged as I used to be in Japan, and I don't think I'd die if I can't travel by myself. Now I'd like to think these special landscapes as patient giants, and that they'd always wait for me to join their side.

Anyway before getting poetic -which I am not good at, I should proceed with my accounts of our Canada trip.

Family Trip with the Chens: Parents, bro, me, Abin-shushu, Chen Mama, and Leiju
Meeting with the tour from Taiwan consists of 30something members and a tour guide (Yang)
07/14/07 - 07/22/07

Day1: Vancouver
Bro had met up with the Chens the previous night before may parents and I flew into Vancouver at 8am. (We got up at almost 4am in Saratoga!) When we landed I immediately saw the big mountains flanking the city. I was excited and amazed because the mountains where I had lived by were never this bulky! Not in Taipei nor Saratoga. We waited for a little while for Bro and the Chens to show up, and even longer for the tour to arrive from Taiwan via China Airlines. Sure we were excited! We had not taken any family trip since the rainy 2-day Yosemite run 2 years ago and the second time we came to the US, which was in my second grade. Some airport pictures to show off our excitement!

We mainly toured some important spots in Vancouver for Day1: Queen Elizabeth Park, Gastown, Stanley Park, World Fair exhibition center, and a charming tourist-filled local market.

QE Park was very big and quite pretty. Lots of big trees and you could walk to a high point to have a good view of the city. There was a nice restaurant in there that has good view of it all; I forgot whether it was the Queen who had drank afternoon tea there or some G8 that had eaten there the restaurant is supposedly famous and hard to get. There were lots of couples getting their wedding photos in the Sunken Garden, but the most memorable part of the Garden was these strange giant rhubarbs we encountered!

The steam clock in Gastown didn't work, but I saw some steam coming out nevertheless. I also found a really cozy couch in the Starbucks at the corner right across from the clock.
Stanley Park is very comfortable with big green lawns, wide, unobstructed view of the Vancouver cityscape, strips of sandy beaches, view of Lionsgate Bridge, and lots of hinokis. Lots of Vancouverites rollerskating, joggin, and biking. Very jealous of the relaxing time they were having...wished I was jogging there with my buddy, then we could lie there taking a nap. Of course my mom did some stretching exercises; at the urging of my mom my bro also threw his arms around at the urging of my mom.

I had to be reminded that we're on a very fast-pace tour and that in a few more minutes we'd have to be on the bus.

After more than an hour on the bus since leaving Vancouver, we arrived at Chiliwack where we spent the night. We saw lots of antique cars parked outside our Rhombus Hotel, all of them made before 1914. Even the old guys were dressed like they were in 20s. Turned out there is some annual parade taking place near Chiliwack. These old farts shipped their cars all the way from the US to show them off. (Now I dont' mean old farts in an offensive way...I'm rather fond of old farts...they are funny) Funny but very impressive! They are so clean and shiny they might be in better conditions than our good old Honda!
After we settled in, this young couple who had been sitting behind us on the bus came to ask for some Internet help. My bro tried to help but to no avail. I liked the young couple a lot; they had married just a few days ago and are on their honeymoon. When I have my honeymoon though, I wouldn't be on a tour... because it's kind of like bang bang bang! A little tiring! But you do get to see a lot on the tour. Anyway that ends the post for Day 1. For the entire week I would be rooming with Leiju. She was a good roommate and I enjoyed it a lot! We always talked before we went to bed; hope she gets a job around here so she can stay in our house all the time.

Now I want to read a little bit more about Canadian railways before my bedtime call. I've been reading this little book I bought from a gas station in Kamloops. Not only the content is interesting, the prose is also curiously funny. The author would insert his own comments here and there and it made the entire story, especially the characters who played parts, came alive. I'm very delighted, and I've been following the trail with maps that I've gathered mostly from Merritt!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My Left Hand and Basil

It's been one or two weeks since my last post. Let me recount: My summer internship has started, my left hand had been burned with mustache-removal wax, bathroom remodeling has started, getting through Crime and Punishment is becoming less painful, bioconjugation is starting to occupy my thoughts, Canada is approaching, and basils have finally started to flourish. Having said all this, now I feel that my summer is really eventful! Anticipation (of Canada trip next week), relief and satisfaction (from basils), pain and fear (for my left hand), curiosity (as my post-doc Aihua says "Chemistry is like cooking")!

I don't know what I feel about chemistry right now, except that I've just been reading and everything starts to sound a little bit more familiar. Bioconjugation. I used to dislike any subject that conjugates with bio- root, but I supposed if I'm stuck with it for the summer I must get used to it. As I sift through all the words and CONJUGATIONS (with apprehension in the beginning, of course, as my last chemistry course was in junior year of high school), things really begin to seem less intimidating. But OH! I don't want to say too much of what I feel about it. Don't want to jinx it! Ding! Flick flick!

I suppose I should give a detail account of what happened to my hand. But there is really not much too it. I was stupid and microwaved the mustache-removal for too long. Anyway getting it out was alright but as I ran up the stairs at night without any lights on, with that darn boiling wax carelessly held on by my left hand, some wax spilled out onto it and MAN DID IT HURT! I dropped the wax container (which made a big sppoosh on the carpet and splash on the wall before it rolled downstairs with more wax contamination) instantly and ran my poor hand in running water. I didn't dare to look but when I did and tried rubbing a bit of hot wax off a piece of skin fell OFF! SHOCK was even stronger than the pain. UH OH my skin fell off. What am I going to do. All of my cells were in a state of shock. I feel like there's some switch in me that had been turned on all of the sudden and all the cells are standing by in red alert. It felt funny, like I've triggered an alarm and there's a protective membrane that is separating me and the world. So some wax in between my thumb and my index finger connected the tissue. In desperation and perspiration I tried separarting the fingers. My heart was crying even though my eyes didn't. My careless mind is the one to blame! NOT my hand! I'm really sorry - that's what I've been telling myself...even till this moment. Anyway, I knew I probably had to go to ER. I've never been to ER since when I was less than 3 and the tip of my right pinky was about to fall off, but seeing my skin was all wrinkled and suffering in yellow wax, I knew it was my time for the ER. Besides telling my left hand that I'm sorry, I've also been apologizing to my parents and my bro silently, because it's my parents who had given me perfectly healthy body and it is I who had been so ridiculously irresponsible. I can't think of a reason why I also instinctually wanted to apologize to my bro...but it was probably along the same line that he's a witness in my growing up. Anyway I alerted my bro and my mom with my husky voice; they were in bed. My bro jumped up in one big leap and woke up my mom who was also very soon jumping up and down. It was as if calamity has descended upon us. Anyway long story cut short: My bro and mom rushed me to El Camino Hospital at ~11:30pm, with my hand in my favorite bear towel (that my mom threw away afterwards, to my regret deepest apologies). Our Big Car seemed to be nervous too (as the driver, my bro, is in shock) and it squeeled when we're going around the curb. But OH MAN I waited for at least 2 hours before the doctor saw me. By then I had already stopped trembling, and three of us were chatting. A really nice big nurse, male, and a really nice old doctor took care of me. (I recommend El Camino Hospital.) So I've been recovering ever since.

But of course you know - it would be unseemly to post pictures of my wound. Plus, looking at something like that will always make me want to apologize to my hand, my family , and my towel again. So stupid.

IN contrast, flourishing basils are always good kind of news to report. For a while now they've been bothered by their bents in their stems (actually not only two but four took hits during the shipping), and more severely by bugs who ate holes and finally entire leaves. How dare they! I looked up online, made some super-heavy garlic water, and sprayed the leaves day and night. Most importantly, I put them away from other plants. They are turning out better. Even the two stems that had only a lifeless leaf each are seeing some new leaves today. Very promising fellas! The other two are booming. I'm like a proud mother. I'll post their pictures later!