From:  shan lung <shanlung9@y...>
Date:  Sat May 10, 2003  3:53 pm
Subject:  Tinkerbell - Coming to terms with time and life

I am happy to be back here again after too many days
away from this place. Even when away from here, you
folks have always been in my mind and heart.

I came back to find a huge backlog of 25 digest from
Bird-click and about the same from Freeflight and more
from Bcplus. They will have emails directed at me,
topics I like to give my 2 cents worth, soapboxes that
I love to stand on to belt out even further but sober
reality compels me to say I probably will not have
time to do all that before the next bout of
work-overload together with 'chilling out' after
inexorably drag me from answering. New places in and
around Chiayi begged to be checked out and enjoyed and
re-relished. Even ignoring the 50++ DVDs bought and
still in their wrappers and 30++ books bought and
meant to be read, there is then time for Tinkerbell
and time with my good and patient wife Joy and
cleaning out litter of HT and Zorro that further eat
into the time I have got for the list. Using my PC at
home is done within 15 minutes period at most before
Tink comes slamming on my shoulder telling me she got
bored and she needed to chew up my keyboard more than
I need it to write to you guys. If she does not come
to me, I then get worried that she is up to mischief
or bullying Halftail and Zorro or both and have to
check on her. I can just put her back in the cage
which I do from time to time but rarely will I do so
if I am at home. This email is composed in the office
in the bits and pieces of free time.

I try to reply to all letters, but if I did not, I do
hope that you guys forgive my lapse in good manners.

First big interrupt was over the 1 May holiday that I
added a Friday off to stretch it to the weekend. That
brought me to this letter as the way ahead for Tink
and me gelled after that debacle I had with that last
bout of free flying.

I mentioned before I love mountains. That in fact
lead to my handle in email for years as Shan Lung is
'mountain' 'dragon'. I spend many wretched hours
,days, weeks and months wondering while I so stupidly
trudged up and down and along side of mountains in
Taiwan, Nepal, Yunnan and Tibet. The last was not
that long ago in 1999 when I decided to cross
overland from Yunnan into Tibet including a stay of 2
weeks in a remote village in Yunnan so the snows can
melt sufficiently from the pass that I must cross over
into Tibet and Lhasa. I crossed over passes of 5000
meters high and roads by truck, by tractor drawn cart
and by foot through some of the wildest fabulous
primordial regions. One of the most satisfying moment
for me was taking a pee on a ridge knowing that
eventually half of it will go down Mekong river to
Bangkok and the other half will emerge via Yangtze
river at Shanghai. Do not envy me on this as that
included wrapping myself in tarpaulin and sleeping in
-20C under a truck hoping that I wake uup the next
morning with all my extremities intact while envying
the Khamba tribesfolks fellow passengers in their
thick sleeping bags. Woke up in the morning to find a
village with inn was just 300 meters beyond except
that the room cost 2 US$ a night that those fellow
passengers did not care to spend but they got nice
thick sleeping bags that I did not have. Since the
driver also wanted to save on his 2 US$ as well and he
got an itinerant Tibetan whore who paid for that part
of the journey by keeping him warm (I suspect she
ain't got sleeping bag ) and I did not know of the
village existence until the next morning, I got to
shiver the night away in the tarpaulin.

That is part of the drawbacks of traveling off on your
own and outside the pages of Lonely Planet guidebooks.
And no, my good wife had good enough sense not to
travel with me to such places.

I mentioned before that Chiayi has this 4000m
mountain ranges behind her. I exaggerated a wee bit.
The highest is Jade mountain or Yu Shan which is 3952
meters high but there are another 100 odd peaks over
3000 meters high.

Misreading the map, I thought a hot spring up that
range will be only 20 km further from a point I
reached before. I had to go 15 km to the foot and
another 65 km up and up a winding mountain road to
Ali shan mountain.
( for an
article on this mountain)

After I gone beyond Alishan and into Yu shan, my
infallible hindsight confronted me with the truth that
reading a map in Chinese is fraught with danger if you
cannot read Chinese very well. No maps in English
cover this part just in case you are curious why I did
not use an English map.

Where I wanted to go will be yet another 70 km away.
I never would have attempted this if I had known. But
at 5pm in the evening up at 2600 meters high road,
going back down will be more humiliating than going
onwards even if the cloud cover allowed me visibility
of 3-4 meters. 70 km is a piece of cake on any
freeway or level roads. You guys on your Harley,
please remember me and my wife were on a little 125cc
scooter on an extremely winding road largely in the
clouds or in drizzling rain.

At times, the cloud broke allowing periods of extreme
visibility. I was deep into a series of mountain
ranges that I have not been into with immense cedars
and pine forested slopes up and down and on every side
of me. The clouds I came through and the clouds that
I will be going through continued to stream , curl and
writhe themselves around the mountain tops It was
not possible in those clear conditions to go fast
either. It will be sacrilegious not to go slow to
allow that grandeur to sink in and to relish that
delicious feeling of being in such places especially
as that was the first time in my life I have been on
that road.

Just to bring home to me what we 'missed' even though
I was going very slowly were the times I got to stop
by the road. Brilliant red fungi and delicate ferns
and mosses showed themselves. I saw groups of
caterpillars making their way up the side of the road
barrier walls to the reflecting cat's-eye to anchor
themselves to develop into colorful metallic pupaes.
As part of the chapter of life and death for that
world, other bugs were there which stuck its long
proboscis into the pupae sucking away at the life of
that would-be butterfly. I had to ignore my role as
observer to intervene to kill that bug so that the
butterfly can live and dream on.

In short, that trip brought home to me the love I have
for mountains and for the desire that Tinkerbell joins
me on any such trips that I will do there.

To do those mountains off the motorable road, I must
get back into shape and get back into a regime of
exercises. I will need to get back to my mountain
biking, workout in the gym and my tai chi chuan
training exercises. That will eat into the already
little time I have to read and write to you folks. If
you like my account of life in Taiwan, I suggest you
should go to my wife's homepage where she got photos
and written account of us and Tink and places that we
have been to and will be going to in Taiwan and
elsewhere. I think she writes even better than me.
She certainly will not mangle the English language and
misaligned and twist adjectives and prepositions that
I have this weird propensity to do.

I also must come to terms with the timidity of Greys.
Even at home with me head rubbing Tinkerbell, if I
drop even a lighter on the ground, Tinkerbell will be
spooked by that and will fly off to circle before
re-landing on me. If she can spook even in a secure
home environment, I must accept that she can spook
anywhere else.

The place that I chose to free fly her met all my
criteria (and I suspect your criteria too).
Considering the accounts I have read of parrots flying
to next door or at worse, over the next door roof I
thought I gave amble allowance for her, Tink showed me
instead she can fly to the next town if she is

If I want to train myself for hiking in the mountains,
I will have even less time to intensify the training
for Tinkerbell. And even then, what if she spook
again. I am just too cowardly a guy to repeat that
nightmarish experience again. I am even shivering now
as writing this recalled to my mind with vividity the
numbness, shock and pain that I had when she winged
her way off disappearing into the distance.

I have taken Tinkerbell out on Kaylor harness, a
harness that she eventually showed dislike and she
spend much time trying to chew it off. Getting her
into the harness meant chasing Tink down with her
squarking at me. As I thought that was temporary with
her eventually free flying by my side, I gave the
harness little further thought.

Slowly riding on that mountain road that day, I
wondered if I use a softer harness that she will not
try to fight, the lack of security of a softer harness
will be more than made up for it if she does not try
to bite it away. I recalled my years of training in
hard martial arts in boxing, karate and shaolin
kungfu. I was kind of proud how well I can punch off
top of brick resting on a palm and how weakly and
soft slow moving tai chi chuan is by comparison until
the day I met a Master in 'soft' tai chi chuan half my
size and about twice my age. I was turned around like
a toy and I learned new lessons in greeting the floor
from different angles and even more lessons in
humility. Soft is by no means weak and I thought that
perhaps may apply equally to parrot as well as to
humans. Strong will not be strong if Tink kept
attacking and biting at it and soft will not be soft
if it stays on coming into play only when and if

Two days ago, I decided to get needle and thread and
making use of the soft lanyard of my mobile phone, I
recreated a softer harness for Tinkerbell. She fought
me at first but after I got it on, I nearly wanted to
shout 'Eureka!' when she accepted the new harness
after a few half hearted nibbles. She went through
her flight recalls, and 'touch target' in that new

I told my wife if she can get a seamstress to resew
properly for 200NT (1US$ to 36 NT) with good strong
thread the harness I made. My wife than came back
saying that seamstress did another harness and sewed
over the harness I made charging me 50NT for that two
harness as they were such easy job. I first marveled
at those two harness before scolding my poor wife for
agreeing to pay 50NT. I will get back to that
seamstress to give her kisses and another 200NT for
bonus and while I may accept a 'No' on the kisses, I
will not accept her no on that bonus.

Tink accepted the new harness last night with a token
squawk and we went off to thank again the groups of
people that cheered me on during that hunt for her and
to drop by at that family who rescued her for more of
that wonderful plum wine.

Btw, part of the deal was that I teach them how to
swim free of charge. My system of teaching swimming
is so unique that I can guarantee anyone who is
paranoid of swimming and water that he/she will not be
afraid and will not drown even in deep water after the
first lesson and they can swim after the second
lesson. They passed my first lesson successfully
(another reason why I did not have time to write here
as I had to discharge my debt) and the 2nd lesson is
in abeyance while we all try to cower at home trying
to hide from the SARS going on here. Following the
local news to find taxi driver plying his taxi and
noodle seller selling his noodles for the 4 days while
they had fever before dying on the 5th day is not
reassuring to me. I do hope that Taiwan and elsewhere
can contain the SARS before the world becomes a hot
zone and you guys are affected instead of just reading
it in this email.

On returning home, the harness was left on Tink who
seemed to accept the new softer material. She did
explore the harness but it was not with a 'GET IT OFF
ME' attitude.

Tinkerbell will still be trained in free flying and
recalls. I never will use the harness to drag her to
me and will train her in the open ' as if there are
no harness at all' on flight and recalls. The harness
with a long line serves to prevent any further bouts
of premature aging on my part. That harness will also
allow her to join us (if I can persuade my wife as
well) on the mountain hikes that the last trip
reminded me of and that I will return to.

To sum up this long letter, my physical preparations
to hike in mountains will impact on my letter writing
here. Tink need not have to tell me in 100 words why
I must free fly her before I free fly her and I
probably will not clear that table to intensify
clicker training of her.

I will train her to recall with whistle but Tink need
not reach the stage (she probably never will) where
she will stop her harassment of HT or Zorro or
ballpoint pens or keyboards to come immediately on

I will keep you guys posted on major outings with

I love to read the emails here but I will generally be
in lurkdom.

From time to time, I will emerge out from workload or
workout load and plain lazing around to stand on my
soap box here in these mailing lists.

Please understand my time situation and please try not
to be too annoyed with me should I fail to follow up
on emails or reply to any of you directly on the
lists. All private emails to me will always be
responded but your patience is requested as I may
still be very late on those.

With warmest regards

Joy - wife, Tinkerbell - CAG & surrogate daughter
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