Tuesday, May 8, 2007

James's Calligraphy and Jenny's Garden

(Rhododendrons in James' and Jenny's garden)

As I mentioned in my older post on May 1st (Calligraphy Workshop), James Yang and I agreed to start our exchange lessons between Chinese calligraphy (James is my teacher) and Japanese language (I'm his teacher).
So, yesterday I went to James's house for our first session in which we just discussed our plan and what kind of materials/tools/textbooks we should prepare. I'll be away for most of June and July for two major trips to Europe and Japan, so we can start the actual lessons in August and meanwhile I can collect necessary materials for calligraphy and Japanese teaching when I go back to Japan.

Talking with James and his wife Jenny (her Taiwanese name is Shih-Chih Chang Yang), I realized that not only James but Jenny is also a very talented person with a broad range of interests some of which overlaps with my own. When I mentioned my learning piano here in Bloomington, James said that she used to be a piano major (at IU, I guess). Speaking of music, it seems the Yang family is all talented in music and art: James himself is a calligrapher artist and Erhu (a Chinese stringed instrument) player, and he told me that the two of their three children were music major at IU (one in viola and the other in cello) and the third was an art major at IU.

Back to Jenny... so, she used to be a piano major, but now she is teaching Tai-Chi and Qi-Gong in Bloomington, as well as a full-time gardener attending their vast garden with various kinds of flowers, fruits and vegetables for more than 10 years. What a coincidence, I thought, for I have been quite interested in learning Tai-Chi sometime and, as a total novice gardener who just started working on the yard of our new home, I have been looking for someone who could teach and guide me about gardening!

So, though at first James and I thought we were going to "kill the two birds with one stone", it seems that maybe I could kill even three or four birds with one stone... But I guess I first should focus on just the two (calligraphy and Japanese lessons), not getting too ambitious... ;-)

James and Jenny remind me of my grandparents in some ways: my paternal grandmother was teaching calligraphy in her late years after she retired from a school teacher, and one of her daughters (my aunt) was a piano major and she used to teach piano until 10 years ago (now she is teaching folk dancing). And my maternal grandmother was a very good gardener, and she used to grow a lot of different kinds of vegetables and fruits such as tomatoes, pumpkins, spring onions, chinese cabbages, eggplants, watermelons, and so on, until just a year before she passed away 5 years ago.
If only I could eat her delicious juicy watermelons again even just for once... and it would have been so great if I could learn how to grow vegetables and fruits from her.

Here are some photographs of Jenny's garden and James's calligraphy:

(Wooden structures such as a flower supporter and a gate for the vegetable garden are made by James.)

(James's calligraphy work that were desplayed in their lounge. Left: "Buddah's Light" Right: "Lotus Flower")

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