Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Our Hero!

Marlena, our hero! She "saved" our lives this morning!!

I plugged my roaster oven into a too-small transformer and blew the transformer. Melted the insides.

Marlena smelled the toxic fumes and immediately alerted everyone and tried to make sure everyone was out of the house (even though we were all safe LOL!!). We have some friends in the guest room and Marlena was just bound and determined that she "save" them too.

Although we were in no danger since we were handling the situation, we're so proud of our little girl for instinctively protecting us!

Friday, November 21, 2008

DVD Wish List

We have a ton of DVDs!! But some of our collections are incomplete and some we just don't have, and I always forget which ones I want/need when I am out shopping. So I made a list and thought I'd share it with you!

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - Seasons 4, 5, 7, 8, 9
Deadwood - Seasons 2, 3
The Fugitive (1963 tv series) - Seasons 2, 3, 4
Have Gun Will Travel (1957 tv series) - Seasons 4, 5, 6
Nip/Tuck - Seasons 5, 6
Northern Exposure - Seasons 3, 4, 5, 6
Reno 911! - Seasons 4, 5
Taxi - Seasons 1, 3, 4, 5
The Waltons - Seasons 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkabahn

Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull

Mission Impossible (with Tom Cruise)
Mission Impossible III

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Ever After
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
The Love Letter (a Hallmark movie)
Billy Elliot
The Devil's Arithmetic
Nell
Sommersby
The Emerald Forest
Very Bad Things
The African Queen
The Full Monty
Life is Beautiful (In Italian with English subtitles)
White Christmas
Mama Mia!

I just finished our latest DVD inventory and although we have a lot, the ones above we still want to add! Living in Korea, with Korean television, the DVDs do get quite a bit of use.

Insadong

We spent a day in Insadong, one of our favorite areas of Seoul. Insadong is the art and antiques district and has so much to see!

This photo shows the contrast of Seoul, with the traditional homes and high-rises blending together.





















Some grafitti on the bathroom wall!

















Another shot of a traditional Korean building, in the heart of Insadong.
















This gallery is very nice, and on the very top is one of our favorite restaurants (no photo of the restaurant, sorry!)

















This sign for a tea room made us giggle "Sound of Korean Lute Without Chords" - is that like the sound of one hand clapping? How very Zen!
















Yes, Starbucks is EVERYWHERE!!















A little bamboo oasis in the heart of Insadong.
















This photo below is not in Insadong, but is one street over from our house. I just wanted to show you a typical street in Songtan. Yes, it is a driving street and no, it is not one way! Drivers here tend to be pretty considerate about deciding who gets first dibs at going down the street.

Seosan, South Korea

Recently we took a day trip to the seaside village of Seosan, on the East Sea (known outside of Korea as the Sea of Japan).

Pictured here are some natural wetlands in Seosan.


And here are the plans for the development to take over the wetlands. *sigh* (sorry the photo is sideways!)

Here, Marlena contemplates the sea.



This woman was shucking oysters and clams with a traditional tool, a simple wooden stick with a pointed metal pin attached.
Marlena discovers sea grass!

Fishing boats off the pier.

For my friend Brianna, a castle we saw while driving to Seosan!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Yes, I Am Boring

I know I've been bad about posting - or good about NOT posting!!

Truth is, there just isn't much to blog about. I've been sticking pretty close to home, being boring. I get up, drink coffee, play some Scrabble on my cell phone, do dishes and laundry and all that June Cleaver stuff, take the dog out to pee, play on the computer.

The weather here is finally nice. Or at least as far as my definition as nice is. Autumn, little chilly, no more humidity. Leaves are falling. Usually they fall faster if you have just swept up the ones that have fallen. LOL!!

Snuffles has some leave for the next several days so we plan on doing some traveling around the country. Short trips here and there. We've booked Marlena at the boarding kennels for three days this coming week, and four days the week after.

No definite plans as of yet. We will head east and north (but not to North Korea!). Since we both need our tourist passports updated, our travel will be limited to in-country. It's hard to plan a trip since any tourist information about South Korea revolves around Seoul.

I look forward to seeing the sea and the mountains, and hopefully some of the more traditional Korea. To get away from the hi-rise apartments and sky scrapers of Seoul. We hope to find a traditional Korean guest house for at least one night, rather than staying at a tourist hotel.

I spent part of Saturday helping out the base Girl Scout troop. The girls were working on their Quilting Badges by making quilts for the local orphanage. They did a great job! I was paired with a young lady who has never sewn before at all and she did so well. I've invited her to come and sew with me anytime she wants.

With Thanksgiving coming, I'm looking forward to seeing some old friends and meeting some new ones. I have a couple of friends who's husbands are stationed here so they will be coming to visit during the holidays, and I can't wait! A new friend of mine is looking forward to cooking her first Thanksgiving dinner here at my house; I'm delighted to let her do the work and of course I'll help out when she wants. I've invited various people to come for Thanksgiving dinner but not yet sure how many will come.

I've got some good friends up at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul now, too, and it's always a treat to pop up there and meet them for lunch.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Little bit of this, Little bit of that

Hello again!

  • Went to see Mama Mia! last night - what a great movie!! Snuffles, of course, refused to go when I told him it was based on the music of ABBA. I can't wait to buy it when it comes out on DVD, and the soundtrack!
  • It's been years since I last had a new pair of glasses and mine are so trashed that there is no point in cleaning them anymore. While I was out and about downtown today, I decided it was time for a new pair! I went into Sun Optical and received a free eye exam and had my new glasses in about an hour and a half! The price for the glasses wasn't much cheaper than in the States but it's nice to be able to see again. That cross-hatch effect of the scratches may be kicky in some modern art but not when you just want to see!
  • My main goal downtown today was to take a quilt to be quilted! Yes, I finished a quilt!! Pieced front, pieced back and binding. I'm so proud. Too bad it's a seriously garish quilt LOL! It's a Halloween theme in bright orange and purple. I've actually grown accustomed to it but it still seems to terrify Snuffles when he sees it laid out on the bed. The quilt shop provides the batting and puts it all together; it will be done in two weeks for a total cost of . . . $45! Forty-five bucks for a twin sized quilt!! I know that's a great price and I am very pleased. I was hoping it would be done before the spouse's meeting next week. The spouse group is just starting out and I had planned on offering it as a raffle item to kick off fund-raising if raising funds is part of our plan. I'll still offer, if appropriate, but it would have been nice to have the finished product with me.
  • Right now, Marlena is chasing around a snack-sized bag of Korean bugles (the corn horn-shaped snack) and is digging her nose in so far that she then spends a couple minutes trying to extract her head from the bag, while crawling backwards. Goofy dog.
  • Speaking of Marlena, she's had a set back this week. We've got another week to go before she is "cured" but two days ago she encountered another dog and went absolutely bonkers barking and jumping at it. So for the last two days, she's been coughing almost non-stop. The vet prescribed some more steroids, so let's hope this gets rid of it once and for all. She has an appointment next Friday (the 26th) and while they are not due to check the heartworm for another three months again, I think I will request that they do a chest x-ray just to confirm that she is in the clear.
  • I'm on the books to take my driving test for my Korean driving license next week! Watch out, Korea - I'll be on your roads!! It will be a welcome relief for Snuffles, I am sure; he will no longer have to be my chauffeur at all times. I just know how much he enjoys going out to the fabric warehouse LOL!!
Now for the big news: My son has proposed to his girlfriend and she accepted! Such mixed emotions - I am so happy for them and proud of him for being so completely grown up but at the same time, where did my baby go?!? I made so many mistakes with him, mistakes where I could have done so much better. I feel like I've let him down on a lot of things and I wish I could do it over and do it better. Do all moms feel like this? I have never loved anyone as much as I love my son. He has thrived despite me and no one could be prouder than I am of all he has accomplished.

Katie, his girlfr . . .oops! fiancee!!! is such a nice girl too. It's truly a pleasure to see them together and how well they interact with each other. They are a good balance to each other and this in iteself is a strong foundation to a good marriage.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Chusok

Merry Chusok to all!

This weekend marks the three-day Korean holiday of Chusok. To compare the holiday in importance and festivity, this is the Korean holiday most similar to Christmas in the United States. I mean this in terms of the holiday atmosphere.

Last week we made a quick trip to E-Mart (the Korean version of WalMart) to do a little shopping. The store was filled with lovely women in beautiful traditional hanbok:Each of these lovely ladies was showcasing different gift packages to give for Chusok. Similar to the American Hickory Farms packages or other gift baskets, there were packages of instant coffee, packages of Spam with Olive Oil, fruits, mushrooms and traditional cookies.

For Chusok, families will all travel to the home of the oldest relative to celebrate. This is a holiday for honoring ancestors and spending time together as a family. The city of Seoul will be virtually deserted, as most older Koreans live in the small villages outside of the big city. Most businesses will be closed for the duration.

It is said to avoid traveling during Chusok. While it may normally take an hour to get to Seoul from Songtan, over Chusok it can take five, six or eight hours!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Update on Marlena



Yay! She's home from her overnight stay at the vet clinic. While she was good and brave, she didn't have much fun with Specialist Crawford and the other vet tech because they just wanted her to stay calm and relaxed, so no playing!!

She received her 2nd and 3rd heartworm shots, and got a packet of heartworm pills to start on. The vet said that they figured out the trick with her - the first shot she got last month, she wriggled when they injected her and it caused a subcutaneous lump of fluid to form. They figured out that if her feet aren't on the ground, she won't wiggle! So two techs held her up while a third gave her the shots this time.

When I went to pick her up, the vet said she was doing great. We decided to go ahead and give her the rabies vaccine and distemper shot today too; she's good on the rabies now for a year, but will receive a booster shot of the distemper next month. And she is to come back for follow-up on the heartworm in four months. Also, next month she will get her Bordatella vaccine (to be done every six months) which is a preventative against kennel cough. This is given in anticipation of her having to stay at a boarding kennel or her playing with large groups of dogs.

She's such a good girl! and she was so delighted to see me come pick her up. While she was gone, I washed her sheepskin bed thing and her two towels in her crate, and bought her a nubby squeaky donut toy and a pink rhinestone heart charm to hang on her collar. So now she is sporting some serious bling - her pearl necklace, her heart charm, her microchip ID tag and her rabies tag. Such a spoiled little princess!

Monday, August 25, 2008

This and That

Things have been hectic so let me try to fill you in a bit!
  • Household Goods (HHG) arrived - all of our stuff! It's been quite the orchestration trying to organize and coordinate fitting everything in and finding places for all of it. Like putting 10 lbs of flour in a 5 lb sack!
  • Marlena - doing well. Took her in to the vet today but they had a scheduling conflict. The vet needed to attend a conference. So she did not get her last shots for the heartworm today, but she did get her microchip! Poor girl, that really hurt when they did it. But she was brave and well behaved. Tomorrow morning we will drop her off at 8 AM for her heartworm shots and she will be having a sleep-over at the vets. When they do the final shots, she has to be on 24 hour watch so two of the vet techs will be switching on and off overnight to monitor her, and the vet will then be available to be on call should anything happen.
  • Car - we have our car (not sure if I confirmed that earlier). I don't have my license yet, though, but I plan to remedy that in the next week or so. Until then, Snuffles is my chauffeur and he has been quite patient and accommodating about that.
  • Fabric - OMG!! Mr. Kahn's Happy Quilter Warehouse - it is NOT just a myth, it is real!! About five minutes from my house by car. A literal warehouse brimming with bolts and bolts and BOLTS of fabric. Not flat bolts either - the real McCoy, the ones off the loom!! Big huge round bolts of fabric. And the price? $5.00 for TWO yards!!! It's all the good stuff too! I spent 85,000 won (roughly $85 American).For $85, I got 36 yards of fabric. That's $2 a yard!! Remember, I said it was $5 for two yards; well, for every 10 2-yard packs you buy, you get one free!!Brand names? I have Lakehouse Dry Goods, Clothworks, MBT, Alexander Henry, Maywood Studio, Wilmington Prints, Blank Textiles, Andover, Moda, Benartex, and Makower UK!!!
  • I have to add, my wonderful fabulous husband took me down to a furniture store last week and had me pick out a glass door cabinet to hold all my fabric! Absolutely lovely!
  • Our other big purchase recently was our hand-made, double-knotted 6' x 6' rug made in Pakistan! OMG so gorgeous! The one rug shop was going out of business and the rug was originally priced at $2000 and I talked him down to $600!
Some detail of the rug:


I'm still chugging away at language class and Snuffles is still working hard.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I am a SPECIAL kind of stupid!

or "How I Know that I am Really At Home Now"

My family will appreciate this second title. I am definitely home here in Korea now because I had my first trip to the Emergency Room today!!

Being the good little housewife I am, I have been working on unpacking boxes and trying to get everything in order (another blog to come about the moving in of the House Hold Goods) and I even managed to do some dishes.
Now, as you can see from the drawing above, I have the dish drainer facing the wrong way, because the silverware holder is on the outside edge of the counter. And it tilts. And I washed a VERY sharp knife and set it in there to dry.

I went about puttering around, putting things away in the kitchen and turned to walk to the other counter when I . . . (and here is where the special stupid comes in) . . . walked INTO the VERY sharp knife! Yes, I impaled myself on the *&#%@* knife!!

Bear in mind, this isn't the first time I've done such a thing either!! Several years ago I had a paring knife in the dish drainer and brought the side of my wrist down right on top of it!!

I'm hot and sweaty and grungy from doing the boxes, and I am dressed but no bra. I immediately ran my arm under the tap water (let's hope it was pure enough!) and grabbed a paper towel and applied pressure. Then I went to the medicine cabinet to grab an ace bandage and I wrapped it around my arm to hold the paper towel in place, so I could put on a bra!! Didn't want to scare the natives and the hospital staff.

I shut off the hot water, latched Marlena into her crate and grabbed my purse and out the door. I got to the street corner and fished out my phone so I could call for a base taxi to pick me up, when my neighbor (whom I had just met this same morning) called hello to me and asked what I was up to. I said I was on my way to the ER (explained the whole special stupid to her) and was calling a taxi. She told me that her husband was just heading out the door to work on base (he is a contractor) and that he would take me. What a wonderful neighbor!!!

The physician at the ER determined that I did not need stitches, so the assistant put a couple steri-strips on and sent me up to immunizations to get a long overdue tetnus shot. I have to say, I think the assistant was fairly new to the whole job because she put the steri strips on as if they were bandaids, instead of using them to pull the wound together and hold it tightly. I think I'll live though LOL!!

The cut is about a half an inch long and looks like I gouged out my skin. When I got home, I examined the knife to determine how far in it had gone and from what I can tell, I impaled a good full inch of knife into my tender flesh. I have no tingling or loss of feeling or sensation though, so I'm sure that it will be fine.

I wanted to have it checked out though because the last time I self-impaled, I didn't have it checked and it probably needed a stitch that time. Plus, I haven't had a tetnus shot in about 15 years so all in all, it was a wise move to go visit my ER.

Now I am off to turn the dish drainer around!! No more self-inflicted physical idiocy if I can help it!!

I can't wait to tell Snuffles about my adventure today, and to warn him that he may be questioned. I realized that as I said that I walked into a knife, that it sounded like the lamest I fell down the stairs / tripped and hit the door knob with my eye excuse ever!! Hopefully they understood that it was what happened and there is no question about spousal abuse, but who knows? He has an alibi, I promise he didn't do it!!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Miracle?!

Woo hoo! This is the second day in a row that we have not had to turn on the air conditioner in the living room!! A sign of good weather to come! It's been fairly warm, but the humidity is notably lower. Autumn will actually arrive, I do believe! I was starting to think it was just a myth.

Tomorrow I go "back to school". I start my Korean language lessons! Tuesdays and Thursdays in August, for an hour each day. I hope that I can learn at least a little - it would make it easier to get around. I am so excited; I went to the BX and bought a spiral bound notebook and a pack of mechanical pencils. Yay me!

We put down a deposit on our "new" car today. The dealer has promised to replace the frayed fan belt and get the radio working again, as well as doing any necessary repairs if needed after inspection on base. Now I just need to get my driver's license and be brave and venture out on the roads. I feel confident though. Korean drivers pretty much drive the way I do!! Be afraid!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Working Hard!

It's a nice day today! Sunny, temp not too hot, and very little humidity. Even a nice light breeze.

So in anticipation of our stuff arriving from the States, Snuffles and I worked on getting the shed ready for storage items. What a lot of work!!

First we had to haul out the Korean cabinet we had salvaged. That wasn't too bad since we had put it in there only a couple of weeks ago.

The big hurdle was the "built-in" shelf of miscellaneous bits of wood. That took a good hour to dismantle. Lots of big nails, nasty cobwebs, rough wood. No way to just pull it out because it was built to fit and nailed into the cement walls to boot! We sweated and grunted and sweated and grunted and finally SUCCESS!! There is no chance of putting it back together but that's alright. We'll get some good sturdy metal or plastic shelves to put in there instead.

Then we swept the piles of dirt that had accumulated over goodness knows how many years, and swept down the walls covered in cobwebs. Not cute dainty "Irish Lace" cobwebs but dark, thick, dirty, greasy nasty cobwebs. *shudder*

Next we got out the hose and sprayed everything down with the strongest stream possible. Dumped some Pine-Sol on the floor and scrubbed. And scrubbed. And scrubbed. Then we did several rinses with more water. Each batch of water also required us to push it out the door with the big push broom since there is no drain in the floor.

Now we are letting the room dry completely and towards the end of this week we will paint the interior. Ceiling, walls and floor! Then we will have a nice clean shed to use for storage. There just isn't enough room in the house to accommodate some things, like tubs of seasonal clothing and holiday decorations.

You know, we should have called Mike Rowe! This was definitely a Dirty Job!


Saturday, August 2, 2008

About a Great Lunch and Finding A Car

Snuffles got back from Japan late last night and it's good to have him home!

Today we went out for a short walk down the street to Sunny's Auto Sales and found a nice car! A 1996 Hyundai Avante Touring, which is basically a compact station wagon. Low mileage, good price. We'll go back on Monday to make the purchase and by Tuesday it will be ours! Keep your fingers crossed.

This is what the car looks like, but the one we will be buying is white. I think that's a better color choice during the hot summer months!


Then we decided to go for some lunch. Chang Pwuck, a Thai restaurant, recently moved and relocated inside the Young Chon Hotel so we stopped in to try it out. Fabulous! Since it is Saturday, they had a buffet with so many yummy choices and everything was delicious. 30,000 won for the two of us (roughly $30 USD).

Here is a website with a review: http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=140&article=41578&archive=true

Friday, August 1, 2008

Neglectful, I know

I just keep waiting for something exciting and big to happen worth blogging about but then I remember that I am so fascinating that even the most mundane details of my life will thrill you all LOL!!

Snuffles has been gone to Japan all week so Marlena and I have been holding down the fort here at home.

She started coughing this week, which is bad. It means that the worms are getting into her lungs. So she is on complete bedrest. No walks PERIOD. Poor girl. She thinks she's being punished, I'm sure. We went to see the new doctor today and she prescribed some steroids for Marlena to help with the respiratory issues. She also gave me the okay to give Marlena some baby benadryl to help keep her calm. Miss D is so darn peppy!! She wants to run and jump and walk for hours but we just can't let her right now. We shall see if Benadyrl makes her sleepy or if it peps her up.

I also talked with the lady that coordinates the animals for adoption on base, about the cats in the attic. She has some humane traps for me and she and I will be working together to get the cats rescued and out of the attic.

Snuffles and I saw The Dark Knight at the base theater on Sunday before he left. GOOD MOVIE. I went last night and watched Get Smart and that was a fun movie!!

Did you know, on a military base, before the movie starts they play the national anthem? And here at Osan, they play the Korean national anthem as well! Everyone stands and is very respectful. The prices are quite good too. Maximum $4.50 for a ticket (depending on the show, and it's projected popularity, prices vary), and a refillable drink and a medium sized popcorn can be had for $6.25.

I signed up for my Korean language classes! Yay!! When I went to the community center to pay for the classes ($50 for one month, 8 classes), the guy at the desk - an AMERICAN AIRMAN - asked if I was signing up for the ESL class!?!?! LOL! At any rate, every Tuesday and Thursday in August I will spend an hour a day learning to speak Korean. Wish me luck!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Poor Marlena!

Oh my sweet baby!!

She went to the doctor today to start the heart worm treatment. They did the chest x-ray first and she behaved very well, of course.

Then they shooed me away for a few hours and administered the first of three heart worm shots. From 10:00 AM - 1:30 PM, they kept her for observation.

Apparently she wiggled when they injected her so she is very swollen at the injection site. They said she behaved very well and didn't make a sound but omg . . . when I picked her up she wouldn't even make eye contact with me and she was drooling (vet said it was from stress).

She is so miserable and sore and I feel horrible Frown

They told me to keep an eye on her - watch for coughing, seizures, extreme swelling of the injection site, vomiting. If she is still very sore after a week, call them. She'll go back in a month for the final two shots.

In the meantime she is not to get excited at all. Apparently once the heart worm poison begins to work, as the adult heart worms die off, they can dislodge from the heart and get into the lungs and that can kill her.

She's to be kept calm and confined and only short necessary (bathroom) walks, for a whole month. I'm so glad we have her stroller!

I just feel so bad that my baby girl is unhappy and in pain and there isn't much I can do about it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Some Photos

Just a few things I've photographed lately.

Who wants to go out and play?!?!
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The chest that me and Snuffles found in the trash pile!
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Close up of some of the art on the doors:
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Marlena's Styling Ride:
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Daily Life

So, you wonder, what IS it like to live in Korea? What kind of things do you do daily that are different from living in the States?

Glad you asked!!

Let's start with trash. No Hefty or Glad bags here in Songtan. There are two types of trash bags to purchase: the large white ones and the small red ones. The large white ones are sorted and used for regular trash, aluminum, tin, glass and plastic. Don't mix them! Songtan recycles!

The small red bags are for food waste. All food waste. No dumping that last piece of pizza into the white trash bag - it all goes into the small red bags.

Trash pick up is easy. There is none! Well, at least not door to door. There are areas in each dong (remember that word? Yes, it means neighborhood! Good memory!) where you take the trash bags. Sunday through Friday nights, between 9:00 PM and 4:00 AM. The local trash spot for us is just around the corner so it is very convenient. And it is far enough not to be a problem of trash or smell just outside of our own house!

To further cut down on bugs and critters in the house, I wash out all the containers before they go into the white bags and I store the red bags in the refrigerator until they are taken outside.

So that is how we deal with garbage here in Songtan, Pyeongtaek, South Korea!!

More tomorrow on plumbing!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Just for Bella

Having been chastised thoroughly for not blogging often enough by Bella, I decided to pop in today!


Rainy day here in Korea which is nice for Snuffles and I but not so nice for Marlena. She absolutely despises, loathes and abhors rain. Getting her to go potty is frustrating on a day like today.

We had big plans to clean out the shed so we can paint it but the rain makes it difficult as we have to move the chest and some shelving out of there first, and we don't want them to get all wet.

Also thanks to the rain, the kitties in the attic are having a fun romping indoor day today. Sounds like a party up there!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I've been neglectful in posting

Mea culpa!!

I've been keeping busy and really not a whole lot of interesting things going on. Well at least not to me.

First of all, Marlena. Such a sweet sweet girl!! I got her into the vet's on base last Friday and found out that she is "very positive" for heart worm. Problem is right now the current vet is outprocessing and they are awaiting the new vet's arrival. We were told to keep her quiet and calm and no more walks until she is all better.

Poor girl! She loves her walks. She absolutely adores going down town, tail wagging the whole time.

The good news is that yesterday the vet assistant called me and we are all set up to take her in on Monday for a chest xray and to begin the treatment. We want her to have the xray first to determine the severity of damage. We are willing to do whatever it takes to make her well but if her disease is too far advanced and the treatments will do no good, we don't want to put her through the whole ordeal.

And how loved is this little girl? OMG spoiled ROTTEN!! I went out for about three hours yesterday walking all over Songtan looking for a particular pet store to buy her a . . . stroller. Yes, you read that right!! I paid 80,000 won (about $80) for a doggie stroller so that we can take Marlena out for "walks". And I got her a pearl necklace too (fake pearls; she looks so elegant in them!). She seems to like the stroller - when we return home from an outing she will continue to sit in it for a while. I think she knows that it shows how much we love her.

Other than that, I spent all day Monday waiting for the air conditioner repair guys to come. The a/c unit in our bedroom is supposed to drain outside but instead drains inside. On the nightstand. They finally came late in the afternoon and got it all fixed so that it now works correctly. So nice to go to sleep without hearing drip! drip! drip! right beside our heads.

I met up with an online friend, Katy, that lives just a couple blocks away from me. Very nice girl and she has two of the cutest kittens in the world!

We went dumpster diving last night. Someone discarded a bunch of furniture so we went and snagged a gorgeous (albeit damaged) chest. We are going to use it for storage in the shed but OMG, the incredible beauty of the piece! Each door shows a different scene of outdoor Korea with inlaid wood and I believe ivory!! Not to mention a fabulous border all around the top and around each door made of inlaid mother of pearl. Ultimately, when we no longer need the chest for storage, I will remove the doors and keep them as art. Or sell them for big money on E-bay!! I need to figure out how to determine if it IS ivory on the doors.

It's still fairly warm here and quite humid. Although I am accustomed to being drenched in sweat all the time, I still find it quite annoying. Today, however, is pretty nice. It's been raining all afternoon so the temperature has dropped to about 80 degrees.

We've been making good use of the new gas grill we bought. It sure beats heating up the kitchen.

I'm starting to get antsy for my sewing machine and fabric. I can't imagine how we'll fit everything in here when the rest of our stuff comes but I will be glad to have my "toys" back in my possession.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Marlena Dietrich!

We've expanded the family by one new member - Marlena Dietrich, an adorable dachshund! We found her on the Animal Rescue in Korea site; her previous owner had kept her on a one-meter long rope with no food or water and was planning to take her to the meat mill.

Thank God for Ryan and other animal lovers who found and rescued her!!

She's between two and four years old and such a sweet little girl. We took the subway up to Seoul today to meet her and it was instant love. Such a trooper; she rode the subway for an hour and half to get home and didn't complain once. When we arrived at Songtan Station, we took her outside and let her out of her crate to stretch her short little legs for a bit before grabbing a taxi to home. I went back inside the train station to get a bottle of water and she just cried and cried to see me walking away!! But she was very happy to see me when I came back out.

She's really settled in with us even though it's only been a few hours. Took a nice long walk downtown tonight and she absolutely loved it.

Here she is!
Marlena at the end of her rope

Friday, July 4, 2008

Hit the ground running!

I think it is safe to say that I have settled into my new home! I've got a lot of stuff to get you all caught up on so here we go:

Got to Songtan on Sunday afternoon and moved my luggage into the house. What a cute charming shack! I really like it. There seems to be a lot of storage available which is a blessing. The attic has some floor space that is useable, the basement is a bit damp but is all cement so I hope to fix that up some. The shed is ready to be scrubbed as well. I think we'll be able to really take advantage of the non-living space.

Inside, there are plenty of kitchen cupboards. Probably twice as much, if not more, than what we had in San Antonio. And the huge shoe closet in the foyer is another source of ample storage.

Once I got in and poked around a bit, exploring my new digs, Snuffles and I set off for downtown. It is so close and convenient!! As is the main gate for the base. A few things have changed downtown since I was here for a visit a few years ago, but many things remain the same.

Of course, it was mandatory that I re-establish my chosen seat at JJ's Cantina, my favorite place to spend some time. With all the bars here that cater to the meet and greet crowd, JJ's is a haven. It's more of a pub type feel for me. We sit outside on the front patio and watch the people go by in the street. Very relaxing. And the owner is just the nicest guy.

Monday morning was spent on base, getting me checked in and official. We got most of the items on our checklist done so it was a pretty productive day. I spent the rest of Monday afternoon in the house waiting for the water cooler guy to come deliver our cooler and 5-gallon bottles of water. He was to be here at 1:00 PM but he never showed up! I was itching to get out some more and walk around but I did make use of my time by evaluating the living space we have and thinking about how to get all of our piles of stuff into here.

I've decided that the third bedroom will be our in-home theatre room. Oooooo, how fancy!!! The thing is, with the living room laid out the way it is, I couldn't really figure out a way to fit in the 57" tv and media tower. Plus, the third bedroom is farthest away from the master bedroom and that will be a bonus to not have the tv blaring while someone is trying to sleep.

I discovered a pretty little calico kitty in our courtyard. So skinny and obviously had kittens recently. She's very timid but I am slowly working on gaining her trust. Each day is a little better. She knows that I feed her but won't get any closer than about five feet from me. Such a sweet little girl.

On Tuesday, I decided to get busy. While Snuffles was at work, I started at the BX with my shopping. I had lots on my list of things to do but while at the BX, a woman stopped me and asked for some information on the ration card. She is here visiting her husband on his unaccompanied tour. We started talking and just hit it off!! Her name is Penelope and she is an assistant school superintendent in the Grand Rapids, MI area. Her husband is the chaplain at the Suwon post (a primarily ROK military post).

Penelope and I spent the day together and it felt as though we'd been friends forever. She was driving her husband's "hoopdie" (term here for junker car, suitable for driving around locally) and it had a spoiler that was half hanging off. Penelope decided it would be better off the car than on, so she and I pulled it off and set it by my front gate.

Funny follow up to that. Snuffles came home from work and saw the spoiler sitting there. Figuring that our Korean neighbors had dumped it there since we are just lousy Americans, he grabbed it to put it in front of their house. I said, "No! That's ours!"

"What's ours?"

"That!"

"A car spoiler?!?!"

"Yes!"

"Where did you get it?"

"I pulled it off a car."

"What car?!?!?!?!"

"The chaplain's car!"

His face was PRICELESS!!!

The water guy ended up coming around 6:00 PM on Tuesday and got us all set up with a water cooler. It even has instant hot water! Woot!!

On Wednesday, I met up with Penelope in the afternoon and she and I set out for E-mart. It's kind of the Korean equivalent of Wal-Mart. The local E-mart is about 10 minutes away in Osan-Si. Interesting store! The grocery floor is fabulous, with an incredible meat selection. Everything is so fresh and clean. The next floor has housewares, drugstore items and electronics. The top floor is clothing.

We enjoyed shopping and being the ONLY non-Koreans in the place. Little kids were fascinated! Over in the children's book section, we found a book titled "Sex and the City" and flipped through it. Penelope bought a copy immediately. It appears to be some kind of sex ed book for young kids but OMG it is NOT suitable at all for young kids!! Rather interesting illustrations, I must say.

We returned to Songtan and met her husband; Snuffles called me and agreed to meet us at Sam-Il Bulgogi House for dinner. He and Penelope's husband seemed to get along great and we had a very nice dinner and then went to JJ's for an evening beer. There at JJ's, we sat - across from the sex toy shop - while Snuffles translated the children's sex book for us. With the chaplain.

The next day I was going to take the train up to Suwon to meet Penelope and go to Fashion Island, a big outlet store, in the afternoon.

In the morning, my internet friend Ralu came down to Songtan from Yongson Garrison in Seoul. OMG I am forever indebted to Ralu!! She is the BEST EVER. Ralu introduced me to 4-Seasons Quilt, a tiny hole in the wall blanket shop that does quilting for you!! You provide the pieced top, backing and binding and they do the rest. She had two quilts to drop off to be done - one was a small lap-size quilt and one was slightly smaller than a twin size. For both, including the batting, the cost was under $60!! I am going to keep that store in business, to be sure!!

Then Ralu took me to another hidden gem: A purse shop, with a "secret" upstairs room. Where the good stuff is!!! Big Chanel handbags for $89! Coach purses for $30!! Oh my my!!

Afterwards, she and I had lunch and hit the BX for a bit. Then she had to catch the bus back to her base and I came home. Feeling a little crampy, I laid down for a bit. Penelope called to confirm with me but I begged off the afternoon trip so I could deal with the crampiness of it all.

Snuffles came home from work with a gas grill, which he promptly worked on assembling. Took a while but what a nice grill!

Today we bummed around the house and waited for our outdoor swing to be delivered. Once that got here, around 11:00 AM, we put it together (not the quickest item to assemble!) and then rolled out the grill and did some steaks.

Now he is sleeping, because tonight he has "Barf Bus" duty. Not really a bus - well, they used to have a bus - but he will be on patrol on the base getting all the 4th of July drunks home safe and sound.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Famous Flower Lady of Songtan

Productive Day, Wasted Day

It started out promising, it really did!

Snuffles came home from PT and I was ready to go. Today was the day to "in-process" me and make me an entity here at Osan. We did a lot of running around, enrolling me in the BIDS system (which means that I am approved to be here), applying for my ration card (necessary in order to shop in the commissary and BX), getting my A-3 Visa and SOFA stamp, registering me for medical, updating finance so that we get the OHA at the with-dependent rate. Still a few more things to do such as gas mask and driver's license stuff, but we decided to have some lunch in the BX food court and head home.

That was the productive part.

The hurry to get home was because the bottled water delivery guy is scheduled to come today to set up our water cooler. Obviously, drinking the tap water is ill advised. He was due here at 1:00 PM.

Here is the wasted part. It is now 4:00 PM and still no water guy! So I have wasted an entire day sitting here waiting for him to come (Snuffles had to go to work for the afternoon). I'm not very happy about that because I had some errands to run downtown. Now I will have to do those this evening but I was really looking forward to being on my own for a bit to explore downtown.

Oh well, we need to go downtown anyways so I can get my cell phone finally. It's silly how dependent I've become on having that all important phone! LOL!

While I waited, I did some straightening up and some more work in the garden, pruning away. I'm starting to see some progress! I need to pick up a rake downtown to clear out the dead leaves and apricots on the ground. Then I want to get a bunch of plant pots and flowering plants to enhance our courtyard.

Ooo! A big orange tomcat in the courtyard!! That makes two different cats I've seen out there. I am appeased in my desire for a cat by having strays to ooo and ahhh at.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Journey Begins

Friday, June 27, 2008

I have now been awake since 7:00 AM on Thursday, June 26.

At 5:30 AM, I enter the airport terminal and get into line for Security. After 10 minutes in line (a very long line), the woman in front of me sees someone she knows at the end of line and waves her over to join her at this point in line. I'm tired, I'm grouchy, and I open my mouth. (Really, did you think I wouldn't?) “You are not seriously having her cut in line,” I said. “But we are traveling together!” came the bleated reply. Standing behind them in line for another ten minutes and listening to their conversation, I discerned that they were co-workers on a business trip and did not travel together to the airport. Shuffle pucks. At one point, they spied another co-worker at the end of the line but wisely did not have him join them at the front of the line.

As we reached the winding portion of entering security, the line cutter turned around, placed her hand on my arm and said, “Tell you what, why don't you go in front of us since you are upset about this?”

The HELL. I said absolutely not, that didn't make it right and it wasn't fair to everyone else behind them in line. I just glared at them after that. Sometimes I truly despise people. I don't care if you are “traveling” together, everyone is going through the same security checkpoint and the plane will get them both to where they need to be.

I got through security and waited to board my plane. Flight to Atlanta was fairly uneventful except for the fact that my RLS was in hyper drive. You would have thought my seat was on fire or I was seriously epileptic the way I was jumping around – thank you so much legs. Grrrr. I apologized to my seat mate and he was most kind and understanding.

Landing in Atlanta, I made my way to my assigned gate as per my boarding pass. On the way, Missy called my cell and I talked with her for a couple minutes. I had approximately one hour between flights. I kept patting my Ambien in my pocket, ready to take it once I got on the plane.

When I got to the gate, I realized that it was not my flight. Ugh. Trudge over to the departure / arrival screens and I am at gate 26 instead of 12. Fine. Gingersmurf the Pack Mule schleps to Gate 26.

Once there, it is announced that there is a delay and the plane will leave at 12:30 instead of 11:00. The issue? The entertainment system on board was not working. Okay. 15 hour flight, a little in-flight tv / movies would be nice.

By now I am so far beyond exhaustion and in physical distress that I am starting to lose it. In tears, I talk to the lady at the desk to see about being upgraded. Can't do that, she said. I could pay if I like. $3000. Definitely not feasible for me. She did change my seat to the bulkhead seat so that I had a little more leg room and honestly, sometimes that helps. Being able to brace my feet against the wall can sometimes subdue or lessen my RLS.

My cell phone rings briefly, and I see that Snuffles has attempted to call. Not sure why the call won't go through. A couple minutes later, it rings once again. Same situation. I open the phone to call Missy and get a recording of some sorts, instructing me to dial *611 for Verizon assistance. I do, repeatedly, and nothing. Nothing at all. Fuckers at Verizon have canceled my phone service, 24 hours before they were to do so.

I went to find something to eat, and tried to hook up to wireless internet. Miracle of miracles, I manage to snag some internet! I popped into CinC chat and GOD BLESS YOU WONDERFUL CHAT LADIES!!! Thank you Elisha!! Elisha (infantrywife99) called Missy for me and asked Missy to IM my husband. I had just sent him an email but couldn't access Yahoo Messenger. Then somehow, through the email, I had some kind of Messenger connection! Thank God!! I chatted with Snuffles – okay, well I completely had a Tourette's Episode where I repeatedly told him that he could have gently caressing love with himself and every single noun of every single sentence was clarified as being a gently caressing mother.

There I am, sitting in the food court area of the Atlanta airport, bawling my eyes out and chatting on line. Keep in mind, I have been up for well over 24 hours at this point.

Feeling completely hopeless, I sign off and go to my gate for my delayed 12:30 PM departure. Yeah, right.

Delayed some more – we will leave at 5:30 PM. More than seven hours after the scheduled departure time. All for some flipping in-flight entertainment.

At this point, they pass out a meal voucher to compensate for the inconvenience. Seriously? Oh well that makes EVERYTHING better. (Do you detect a touch of sarcasm here?)

I ask to speak with a supervisor and of course, once again, fall into complete shambles, bawling and blubbering like a stark raving idiot lunatic. We do apologize for the inconvenience, did you get a voucher? My God.

Now I am reduced to wandering around the airport like a mental hospital escapee, crying, muttering my displeasure and complete loss of sanity under my breath, trying to find someway to communicate with my husband. Cell phone? Nope, all gone. Internet? Can't log onto it for free again, have to pay with credit card. That doesn't work for some reason. I find a internet phone thingy, credit card operated, call anywhere in the world! I swipe the card (minimum $3.50 charge) and hit SELECT COUNTRY. Any country you want. Provided it is America. Or the United States. Fresh round of tears and insane muttering.

There is no where in the airport to purchase an international calling card. Nowhere. I tried to call my credit card company because they are very good about halting a purchase when it is out of your normal area and their system is down. Great. Just fucking fantabulous.

Still patting my Ambien in my pocket as though it has magical properties, I continue to wander aimlessly around the airport. If I sit down, not only will I fall asleep but my RLS will frighten everyone around me. Have to keep moving.

Added bonus? My shoes are making blisters on the tops of my toes. Yay.

Finally, we board the plane. I had the bulkhead seat but it was so uncomfortable! And I was in the middle. My seat? Oh yes – reclining NOT A POSSIBLITY. Lovely.

I immediately fell asleep due to sheer exhaustion. Slept through take off, woke up about half an hour later. The stew came by and offered a beverage and I looked at him and just burst in to tears again! I was so uncomfortable.

I took my Ambien hoping to be knocked out quickly. No such luck. So I got out of my seat and walked to the back of the plane where I could stand up for a while. There I am, looking miserable, weeping, muttering, and falling down everywhere due to being tired and the Ambien kicking in. They finally shooed me back to my seat and I managed to fall asleep.

I woke up after a few hours, but my eyes were now so swollen I could barely open them. I checked my watch and was delighted to see that the flight was almost half over! I realized then that my bulkhead seat had an unobstructed view of the completely empty Business Class section with its roomy reclining seats. More tears.

I was starving by now so I wandered back to the galley area. Finally the crew took notice of me and I asked for a cup of hot tea. Walking back to my seat, I saw an unattended mini galley and I helped myself to a packet of cheese crackers. While I had slept, the crew had served two of the three meals for the flight and I had received nothing.

In the last hour of the flight, they served supper. Mostly inedible except for the fresh cut fruit which was delicious. Then a crew member escorted two ladies from coach up to the business class seats and told them to sit and relax. WHAT?!?!?! Guess who was not happy about that? Yep – me.

Finally we landed and got off the plane. Long hike and two escalators to the transit train in the airport to take us to the immigration desk. Getting through immigration didn't take long at all, and then on to baggage claim and customs. And then . . . I WAS FREE!!!! I was so incredibly happy to be off the stupid plane and done with flying that I burst into tears again. LOL!!

Snuffles, God bless him – what an incredible wonderful man he is – knew from our computer conversation that I was at or beyond a breaking point and instead of catching the military bus to the base right then (another hour and a half journey), he informed me that he had booked us a room at the very upscale Hyatt by the airport. What did I ever do to deserve such an fabulous man??

At the Hyatt, he told me to help myself to anything from the honor bar and order anything I wanted from room service. I took a fabulous shower and he ordered me a European breakfast meal from room service: granola and milk, hot Earl Gray tea, orange juice, croissant, frittata, sausage, bacon, roasted potatoes, grilled cherry tomatoes, Camembert cheese, prosciutto, melon, walnuts . . . ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!

Then I promptly fell asleep on the fabulous bed. Head hit pillow, and I was out.

Woke up refreshed and ready to go! The one bonus about landing late at night is that I don't end up with jet lag. While he slept I went down to the hotel restaurant for a breakfast buffet and had yet another incredible meal.

Then we took the shuttle back to the airport and went to get our bus tickets to ride to the base. At the military services desk, there was a “situation”. A young boy, 11 years old, was there at the desk. His father, an army man at Yongsan, had dropped the boy off at the airport entrance with his plane ticket and a few dollars in his hand to fly home to the States alone. Unbelievable! The military men manning the desk were working to try and contact the boy's father or his command; in Korea, unaccompanied minors are not permitted. Plus this young boy had more than one international stop before reaching family in San Francisco. I hope that the boy's father gets the full punishment he deserves for this stunt. Makes me sick.

While waiting for the base bus, Snuffles checked out my new passport. Guess what he found in there? Mr. Competent, the passport guy on base, had an approved entry stamp for Germany in the passport!! Good God! It is a miracle that I ever managed to get to Korea and to an air force base at all with that dimwit in charge.

So now I am home and relaxing. I like the house and the location to the main gate and downtown is perfect. We took a walk downtown to get a cell phone for me but they can't activate them on Sundays so we will go back tomorrow. Picked up a long handled scrub brush with which to clean the courtyard outside, and then sat and enjoyed a cold beer at my favorite bar in Pyeongtaek, JJs Cantina.

And that, my friends, is the Saga of Gingersmurf Getting To Korea!

And awaaaay we go!

It is 4:29 AM on Friday, June 27. I'm drafting this entry now while I am still awake, but I don't have internet access right now.

What a whirlwind couple of days it has been! Let's recap: on Wednesday, June 25 at approximately 9:30 AM, I got my passport and my plane ticket to leave for Korea, leaving at 6:45 AM on Friday, June 27!! So much to do, so little time. Such a cliché but for me, it has never been more true.

Thank God for such wonderful friends! Stephanie N, Kristin, Stephanie E and family – THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!! No way would I have ever been able to pull this off without you all. I feel like I didn't do much more than zombie around and I completely apologize for that. I am just so completely frazzled and exhausted and I owe all of you SO MUCH. I love you all so very much and can never express how incredibly grateful I am.

Here is the run-down of the most harried two days of my life.

Wednesday after I got my plane ticket and broke down into complete emotional overload (Thank you Missy for putting up with my caterwauling!), I got busy. With my mind whirring a million miles a minute, I contacted all the utilities to cancel service (except Time Warner Cable, a separate entry on them later).

Then I dashed to the post office to mail a quilt top to Sage and some little gifties I had for Missy's wonderful kids. While there, I submitted a change of address, effective June 26, 2008. Then I went home and quickly loaded the car with the remaining items I had for Michael (my son). Three flights of stairs and a total of 8 trips up and down later, I hit the road for Austin.

I got to Mom and Dad's and unloaded the car (Michael can pick up the items from there). Visited with Mom and Dad for a bit and head still spinning, I hit the road back to San Antonio.

Once home, no time to rest. Stephanie N and Kristin decided to come down to help me out and for one last time together – slumber party! Steph brought her young charge who is the most incredibly well behaved happy child. While waiting for their arrival, I went over and over my list of things to do and wandering fretfully around the apartment checking and re-checking what need to be tossed, what needed to be packed.

On their road trip down, the girls were stopped by the police for speeding. Granted they were going 68 in a 65 zone, but what my brother (the cop) has told me is that up to five miles over, the police won't bother with you. I personally think this particular cop was targeting two young women and figured they were easily intimidated. When he first approached the vehicle he informed them they were going 68 mph. Then, when writing the citation, he reiterated that 78 mph was not legal – and wrote the ticket charging them for going 78! Then – and this is what pisses me off – when he asked what their rush was, they stated they were coming to see me one last time before I went to Korea for three years. Ignorant little jerk that this man was, he derisively sneered at them “You are lying! Korea is unaccompanied only and is a one year tour!”. Grrrrrrrrrrr. Shut your mouth, you stupid ignorant man.

While waiting for them to get her, Snuffles called to check in. The previous night he had sent an email saying “Come home soon!!”. I replied early in the day “How soon do you want me? Is Saturday good for you? 3:00 PM? Airline Flight Number?”. I also then wrote about the troubles with Time Warner Cable not allowing me to cancel the service.

Snuffles called and asked, “Did you get your passport?” In a weary voice, I replied, “I sent you an email, didn't you get it? Read the email.”

I waited while he opened the email. Immediately he exclaimed, “What? What the hell is wrong with Time Warner?!?”

I instructed him to read the FIRST line of the email and forget about the cable portion. He read it out loud, no real reaction. Then a couple of beats later, it dawned on him. “Saturday!!?? THIS Saturday!?!?! I thought you were JOKING in the first line!” Needless to say, very happy Snuffles. Then he reminded me of the package that was en route to me, the PSP (Play Station Portable) for watching videos on the plane. Oh crap! Forgot about that. According to the tracking number it hasn't left San Francisco yet. More info this to come.

The girls arrived safely and a very full toddler was put to bed and fell asleep immediately. I enjoyed having the girls there – they were sanity in a insane two days.

When I wasn't asleep at 4:00 AM, I gave in and took half an Ambien in order to get some rest. Snuffles kindly called and woke me at 7:00 AM as I had requested. THREE HOURS SLEEP!! Ugh!

Thursday was probably the busiest, most hair-raising day of all. I got up, wen to the post office to check on the status of the package coming to me. Remember, I had already changed our address at the PO the day before! The lady at the post office service desk said that they didn't have the package, but assured me that the package would be sent back to the shipper..

I got home and Snuffles called again – he traced the tracking number again and it showed as received in San Antonio, at the main center. So I called the 1-800-ASK-USPS number to find where the package was so I could go and pick it up. Both the employee and supervisor merely parroted repeatedly, “You can not pick it up until a delivery attempt has been made”, and of course the ubiquitous “I do apologize for that”. Sage, you do not exaggerate the Party Line LOL!!

I called my local branch office then and talked to a wonderful man, a God among men, Garza who checked the area and said that yes, it was there!! He put it aside for me and I was able to pick up the package! Score!!!

Then the girls followed me to the Carmax location so I could sell the car. While I went in to start the process, Steph and Kristin drove over to Time Warner to drop off the cable modem and cable box. Not without more idiocy from Time Warner, mind you, as I received a call from Steph asking for the last four of Snuffles' social security number. What the hell? Yes, Time Warner, we stole these items and are RETURNING them to you. Ugh.

Carmax – what a fabulous place!! Quick, courteous, professional. I am more than pleased with my transaction there. They took my information and then went to evaluate the car. They had several waiting areas to relax in, including a fabulous play room for children. When Steph and Kristin returned from Time Warner, the little one had a blast in the play room.

All in all, it took no more than an hour and a half for the entire transaction to be completed. I didn't have a lot of hope for much money for the car; figured I'd be doing damn good if I got $500. I didn't get $500. I got $1200!! I know it doesn't seem like a lot but with the time crunch I had, and the recent history of repairs on the vehicle, I was willing to give the car away. So over a thousand bucks was a very good deal for me.

We decided to go to a nearby Chinese restaurant for lunch and called Steph E. so she could meet us there. Just as we pulled up to the restaurant, a hand appeared in the window to flip the OPEN sign to CLOSED. LOL!! I thought that happened only in movies. Granted, it was about 3:00 PM so we weren't upset but it was just funny.

Instead we all met up at Taco Cabana for some lunch. I have to say, considering that in about 12 hours I was leaving to live in Asia for a few years, I'm glad we ended up having Mexican food for lunch.

Afterwards, we split up – Steph N and Kristin needed to stop by a couple of stores, and I needed to cancel my cell phone. The two girls took off and I got in the car with Steph E. As we drove towards the Verizon store, I realized that I had left all my paperwork in Steph N's car!! I called them and told them to meet us at Verizon as soon as they could.

At Verizon, I gave the gentleman a copy of the military orders and he faxed over the request to cancel service due to the move to the main office. He specified that the service was to be suspended on Saturday, June 28.

After that, off to the house where Steph E's husband met up with us. Luke – you are a saint, a blessing, a true-blue miracle. Thank you thank you thank you for doing all the grunt work. You saved my life!

We cleared out the apartment including a bookcase headboard and a box spring down to the dumpster (Luke did that), and stuffed Steph N's car to the gills with groceries, candles, etc.

After Steph and Kristin headed back to Ft. Hood, the rest of us gathered all the trash together and Luke again championed my day by being the designated dumpster diva. Then Steph and the kids and I donned our bathing suits and went to the pool for an hour or so just to cool off. Oh my, HEAVEN! Luke hadn't brought a suit (and didn't want to borrow Snuffler's suit - “can't have my boys where his boys have been” - LOL), so he chilled out on a lounge chair by the pool.

Then it was time for dinner. I decided that I wanted to take the E. family out to thank them in a small way for all their help. We went to Chili's and after about half an hour wait we were seated. You who know me can guess what is coming next. Yes, The Curse of the Gingersmurf!!

Oh, our waiter was friendly enough – he took our drink orders, delivered the beverages, took our meal orders. And we never saw him again. Someone else brought out the food, but without the ranch dressing that young Master E had requested. After a couple minutes, I flagged down another wait staff member who looked like he had just been chosen to be sacrificed to the volcano. I told him what we needed and he walked away, looking completely stricken. After an animated conversation with some other waiters at the drinks station, including pointing at our table, the sacrificial waiter returned with the ranch dressing. That was the last of any interaction with wait staff that we had. Steph herself went to the drink station a few times to refill the children's drinks.

As we finished our meal, Steph went to the front and requested that the manager come to our table. After explaining the service, or lack thereof, the manager comped our entire meal. Not that we were unreasonably whiny – all the tables in this waiter's area were in the same boat! A table of six beside us were very vocally unhappy as well. To be fair, I did ask if everything was okay with the waiter – the only thing I could think of was that maybe he was ill and stuck in the bathroom vomiting or something. No, the waiter was just incompetent. So yay for the Curse; another free meal on the books!!!

Then Steph and family departed (I am going to miss you all so much!!!!!) and I was alone in the empty apartment. My friend Deb and her two children stopped by to say their farewells and to pick up a computer of theirs that we had. Gotta love her kids – only those two would come to a completely empty apartment and ask for snacks and some toys to play with!! LOL!

After a bit, Deb left and I got everything packed into my luggage. I still needed to take out a couple bags of garbage, clean the refrigerator out, wipe out the oven (I had set it to clean the night before), tidy the counter tops, etc. but I was so worn out after all that had conspired over the previous 40 hours that I just gave up. My apologies to the Lodge but I couldn't lift another finger.

No furniture, no television, no landline phone, no internet. I was able to talk to Snuffles for a while on the cell phone until the taxi cab arrived to pick me up.

AAA Taxi in San Antonio is THE only choice. Their rates are incredible, their service goes above and beyond. I met the driver at the front gate and he drove me to the apartment and he carried all my luggage down! Three flights of stairs!!

Got to the airport in plenty of time and waited for the flight that would start my journey to The Land of the Morning Calm.

Note: From about 8:00 AM on Wednesday, June 25 to 4:00 AM on Thursday, June 26, no sleep. Sleep from 4:00 AM on Thursday, June 26 until 7:00 AM on Thursday, June 26.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

This is IT!!

Picked up my passport this morning and went to the base travel office to get my plane ticket. They put me on a flight leaving Friday morning!!! Less than 48 HOURS!!!

Snuffles secured the love shack for us (the second house) and is all moved in. As of yet, he hasn't received my email letting him know that I will be landing on Saturday afternoon so I am anticipating a gleeful call from him very soon.

So much to do before I go! I got almost all of the utilities canceled today. I loaded up my car one last time with stuff going to my son and drove up to Austin to my parent's house to drop it off.

It was hard saying goodbye and tears were shed. It's difficult when you will no longer be a simple car ride away! I love my mom and dad so much and I feel bad leaving them. I guess I raised them right though and I think they will be okay on their own LOL!!

I won't get a chance to see my son before I go so that is hard too. I am just so grateful for cell phones and instant messaging and email - keeping in communication will be very easy.

So tomorrow is another run around like mad day. I need to drop off the cable box, cancel my cell phone here in the States, and sell Snuffle's car. Going to Carmax for that.

I've got a taxi scheduled to pick me up WAY TOO bright and early Friday morning.

This is really happening! I AM MOVING TO KOREA!!! EEEEEEEEEEK!!!!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Thanks, Michael! This is cool!!

14 months in the making, 42 countries, thousands of people!



And these are the clips that didn't make it into the video:

Going Down?

*sigh*

I decided to get busy today and get all the remaining dumpster stuff out of the house. About eight loads worth. I took everything down to the first landing. Then I took everything down to the second landing. And then I took it all down to the ground level. I knew I was getting tired and my legs were getting shaky with all the stairs but I got the first seven loads down just fine.

And then the eighth load. Oops. I missed the last three cement stairs and landed on the sidewalk below. It's okay, nothing broken. I'm a little bruised on my left leg and I must have really torqued myself when I fell because my back is radiating a good amount of pain.

I'm stocked up on Aleve and instant heating pads so bring on the night!! We'll see how well I can move in the morning - or if I can move at all!

Other than that, no news. Same old, same old. And believe me, it is getting old. Being in limbo is something I don't care for and I can be patient for only so long.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Knock on wood, we have a house!

I'm not holding my breath this time though. We will know for sure after next Wednesday, after the inspection and key money paid.

This house is much smaller and shabbier than the yellow one, but it is a private house (no one above or below or beside) and is much closer to the downtown area where we want to be.

If you click on this, hover over the outlined box at the top more left side of the screen and it will say "orange tile roof house" or something like that (you can click on it too!) and that is our house.

Here is the slideshow of the house as well.

I think I can make it look nice.

Pppppbbbbbbttttttt!

I wrote this last night but for some reason it isn't showing up now so I will repost:

This has been a fun night (not). Multiple phone calls from Snuffles, starting with "The realtor called and the landlord changed his mind about renting the yellow house to us".

Yes, I know it was obscenely yellow but I really wanted it! Huge, bright, close to the base.

So Snuffles dashed down to the realtor's office to discuss it; no reason given, just that the landlord changed his mind. The realtor took Snuffles to another apartment behind the back gate of the base but there are a lot of hills, the back gate isn't always open, and it was 40 pyong compared to the 50 pyong size of the yellow house. Also, no storage areas and only three bedrooms.

At this point, the best option is the Life Apartments but that means living in a low-rise apartment building and it's quite the hike from the main shopping drag of Songtan. Plus Snuffles would have to drive to work every day.

Right now, Snuffles is off to walk around his old dong (Korean for neighborhood, and yes, I giggle when I say it) to see if there are any For Rent signs about. Tomorrow he will go to the housing office and take the "Housing Tour" of apartments that are available for rent immediately. And he will also keep the inspection appointment scheduled for next Wednesday and stop in and see if the landlord of the yellow house has changed his mind again. He also has another realtor lined up to work with too.

Keep your fingers crossed. The Life Apartments, which at this moment is the best option, is just so far from where we want to be.

What a frustrating night! And what a wonderful man Snuffles is to go through all this turmoil.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Confidence Instilled? Negative!

I managed to get in touch with the passport guy today!! Minor victory. Very minor.

When I said I was calling because it had been three weeks, he said "Why are you calling? It takes five to six weeks!!"

I reminded him that he said it could come as early as three weeks and he had told me that I could call. He agreed to "check the status", whatever that means. He came back on the line and said, "Negative."

Then he said he would be emailing my husband next week. I asked why he would be emailing him. He said, "To tell him that your passport is here." Oooookay. I asked if he had Snuffle's new email address as he was already in Korea.

Passport guy said "YOU'RE the dependent?!" Um, yeah. "He's navy, right?" NO.

*sigh*

So somewhere, somehow, a navy guy in the United Kingdom with a Lackland AFB email address will be notified that my passport is in.

Passport guy DID "okay" me to call him next week. How very gracious.

Not that I want to leave my family and friends here in the States but I will be joyfully gleeful when I have that passport in my hands!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Stupid Passport Guy

I realize it has been only a little over three weeks since we submitted the paperwork and it can take up to six weeks (although I've heard from others some horror stories of waiting MONTHS!) but it is not the process I am venting about. It is the individual who is in charge of the whole process.

The man has open office hours from 10:00 AM to 12:00 noon every weekday. One would think he might actually be IN his office at that time. One would be WRONG!

I call and call and the phone rings and rings and rings. No answer. No voice mail. No nothing! GRRRRRRRR!

I don't believe that any office should have only one person manning it, especially something this important. Getting in touch with him initially to start the process was just as difficult and it is very frustrating.

All my belongings are packed and gone, Snuffles has the house all taken care of, and now all I am waiting on is my passport. Just answer the damn phone at least and say, "No, it's not in yet!"

But when the guy can't even answer his phone or have a voice mail or some way to contact him, it makes me very nervous about his capability. I have had a bad feeling about this guy since the first time we met him and in the words of my sweet little friend Brianna, "I not happy with him".

Other than that, nothing new. I just keep pulling up the photos of the house Snuffles found and staring at them.

I have realized that with all the yellow in that house and our blue furniture (sofa, recliner), I have been snookered into living in a Wolverine house!! EEEEEEEEEK!!!! I married him despite his collegiate affiliations but this UM GO BLUE house may be pushing my limits.

GO SPARTANS!!!!!!! GO SPARTANS!!!!!!!!! GO SPARTANS!!!!!!!!!!

Unless Snuffles finds a place today with a better kitchen (bigger, perhaps not so white) and / or use of the roof top, that will be our home. I'll keep you posted!

Use of the roof top sounds odd. Let me clarify that. In Korea, many of the roof tops are flat with a wall around them (about 3 feet high). It's great extra space, perfect for having parties. Many Koreans even sleep on their roofs in the summer when it is so hot inside! It would be nice to have that additional space to utilize but then again, we would go broke because I would want to buy lots of plants for up there and build some kind of shaded seating.

Could This Be Our New Home?

Snuffles was busy yesterday looking at places available for rent. We really like this one and most likely it will be the one we get, but he is looking at a few more places today. Ideally, we'd like to have use of the roof and a nicer kitchen but overall, this place is perfect! Four bedrooms, two full baths, 50 pyong (which is approximately 1800 square feet), ground floor. The landlord lives on the second floor and the third floor houses a Buddhist temple!!

This is the exterior of the house:



This is the great room:














This is the kitchen:














This is the view:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Just Another Day

My company just left; I had a wonderful weekend with them. Today was a lazy day. Kristin's husband went to the Apple store in San Antonio, and she and I ventured out to Barne's and Noble for books to read while we lounged at the pool later. I am very pleased with my purchases. Not only did I pick up a few books, but they were having a DVD sale. I got three seasons of the tv series nip/tuck for $60!!

Tomorrow I will get busy knocking out the flotsam and jetsam still in my apartment. A quick trip to donate some stuff to Goodwill, get the various boxes and trash bags out to the dumpster.

I need to borrow a vacuum and get the floors swept up so that I can use the carpet steam cleaner. Also clean the slate floors, the refrigerator, the oven. Get everything neat and tidy for when I leave.

I'm also hoping that tomorrow will bring a phone call saying that my passport is ready. I'm not holding my breath but it sure would be nice.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Visa? Figured It Out

Snuffles had good news today - I do not need to drive to the Korean Consulate in Houston to get my A-3 Visa; I can get it after I arrive in Korea. Yay!! One less thing to deal with.

I made the foolish decision to ship my air mattress on ahead and just use the box spring I still have here (which is destined for the dumpster, having served a long and faithful life). Big mistake! This box spring is horrid!! Very painful, with hard things lumping up all over it.

After the movers finished their work and left me in my empty home, I got busy. I found a guy on craigslist who had a small portable tv to sell for $15. Sold!!! He was even kind enough to drive it all the way over here (he lives at UTSA) to deliver it, so I gave him an extra $5 for doing so.

Dashed upstairs with my precious tv only to realize that I had one coaxial cable. Going from the wall to the cable box. Hmmm . . . where did I put those other cables? Oh yeah. In a box. In a crate. Now on a ship on its way to Korea.

Then my friend Kristin and her husband arrived. They decided to do a spontaneous weekend at Six Flags and Sea World; I invited them to camp out in my vacant apartment with me. We then headed out for dinner at Johnny Carino's but first, a stop at Target. I picked up a coaxial cable and then I spied a full-size air mattress on the shelf. For under $17!!! No more lousy box spring.

On to Johnny Carino's!!! It started out promising but then the Curse of the Gingersmurf appeared. Those of you who have eaten in a restaurant with me will immediately nod their heads knowingly; those who haven't will quickly understand.

Brian, our waiter, took our drink orders. No Italian creme sodas available tonight as they are out of Sprite for the creme soda machine. Kristin's husband ordered a Dr. Pepper instead. Kristin, being only 20 years old, ordered a Virgin Pina Colada. The menu offered only "Italian" margaritas (with amaretto? eww!) but Brian assured me that the bartender could make a regular margarita for me. Kristin and I also ordered iced water with lemon wedges. And Kristin requested an appetizer of "Fire Sticks".

Soon our drinks appeared and we placed our meal orders. For me, chicken scallopinni and a wedge salad. I also said that this would be two separate checks for the table. Now, about those drinks. Iced water? Check. Lemon wedge? No. "Regular" margarita looked promising but I quickly discovered it tasted strongly of . . . pineapple?!?! I sent it back right away and stuck with my un-lemon-wedged water instead. Kristin said her Virgin Pina Colada tasted different than it usually did but she gamely took a few sips here and there.

The salads arrived and were fine. How can you screw up a salad? We realized then that we never received the bread for our table - Carino's always serves warm Italian bread with roasted garlic and olive oil for dipping. We flagged down our waiter and he brought our bread out for us.

Then our entrees arrived. The spaghetti accompanying it was gummy. Gummy! And then we realized the appetizer had never arrived. With Brian out of site, we got the attention of another waitress and asked her to find out about the appetizer. She came back with an explanation that the Fire Sticks were frozen but they were cooking them now.

Enough. I asked Brian to ask the manager to stop by our table. Charles came over immediately and asked what he could do to help us. While Brian stood right there. I explained the mix-ups in our meal so far and he apologized and said that he would discount our bill by half.

After he left, I thought about how uncomfortable it was to talk to the manager with the waiter standing right there, as some of what had occurred had been his fault. Brian reappeared with our bill. Wait, what? Yep, ONE check.

I asked another staff member to please have Charles come back to our table. While we waited, I noticed the bill. One item in particular. A Pina Colada with well rum.

I first told Charles that I had been very uncomfortable having to discuss our disappointing experience so far while the waiter stood and listened. I explained that we had requested two checks and the waiter failed to split it, giving us only one. And then, I pointed out the NON virgin Pina Colada - and told him, "You just served alcohol to an underage person."

Charles called Brian over immediately. Brian's explanation? Oh it was a virgin colada. He just entered it as a regular one on the bill. Charles seemed satisfied and said he would go get the check split for us.

He returned and of course, we had more questions. The charge for a virgin Pina Colada is the same as for an alcoholic beverage? No, he said, but it's okay; I took the charge for the drink off the bill entirely. I tasted the drink and after a few times I could definitely feel the warming affect confirming that there was indeed alcohol in the beverage.

The check? Charles explained that it was still one but he had not charged me for my meal or margarita. I scrutinized the check. We were charged for two soft drinks when only one had been ordered and served. The charge for the margarita was still on the bill as was the charge for my dinner. I circled and explained and he went back to finally bring us two checks.

Mine came to to $7.23. I paid with a $20 and Brian returned with my change. $12. Even. Oh, he said - you want the "jingle"? I don't have change but I can get it from the bar, he said. And then he went the opposite direction of the bar and we could see and hear him asking other employees if they had any change. He finally gave up and gave me a dollar, saying he couldn't get change.

I rummaged in my purse and found twenty-three cents to pay the difference. No way was I going to be anything less than accurate.

Now you have a good understanding of The Curse of the Gingersmurf!! I'm rather used to it by now; there's usually something screwed up with my meal!!

Now that I have bored you with the tiniest details, I am off to contact Johnny Carino's corporate office.

The Art of Moving: Day 3

Up and at 'em, dressed and ready yet again by 8:00 AM. Let me tell you, I am completely exhausted by now! Add to that, a bad arthritis day with my spine and neck feeling like they were on fire.

Different moving company for the items to be put into storage. Although two arrived at 9:00 AM, Jean and Randy, Randy left soon after. Apparently he was just dropping Jean off and helping bring up the packing supplies.

Jean got right to work but I did notice that she was constantly on her cell phone. With a 15 year old and an 11 year old at home with no school (summer time), I guess I can understand. The kids called quite often!

Jean did a good job packing and worked steadily. I felt bad when I realized it was 1:00 and I had yet to offer lunch!! No problem; I dashed next door to Rudy's for some of their fabulous brisket and BBQ sauce and she and I enjoyed lunch and a little chatter.

About 3:00, three or four guys joined Jean and took on the loading of the packed boxes. As hot and humid as it was outside, I didn't hear a lot of complaining about it.

They completely finished up just around 6:00 PM and off they went to stash the rest of our belongings in a warehouse somewhere. See you again in two or three years, stuff!!

By now, there wasn't much left in the carolinkorea department store, so there was no shopping in there. However, and I honestly can't be sure, but I have reason to believe that Jean helped herself to my bottle of Aleve. The last I knew, it was in the kitchen but when I went to get some for my very painful back, I couldn't find the bottle. I don't recall moving the bottle, but if I did, I'll find it again and I will apologize on this post, just to be honest with my readers. I didn't say anything to Jean about it; I really can't prove it for sure.

The Art of Moving: Day 2

The loaders arrived around 9:30 AM. They asked about the Goodwill stuff in the bathroom and I again said help yourself! Hey, the less I have to drag down three flights of stairs and drive across town, the better.

First order of business? Shopping at the carolinkorea department store!! Once they finished making their selections, Albert, Lamar and Paul set right to work. Every piece of furniture was completely wrapped in padded paper before being loaded on the truck. I can't complain about the quality of the work, they all did a fabulous job.

About an hour into their work, Albert came to me with his cell phone. His sister, Liz, was one of the Rabid Raccoons. She sounded as though she was about to cry! She asked me to please write a note to her boss verifying that I had told the Rabid Raccoons that they could take the items they had. Their boss, Evil Edna, had accused them of stealing from me and when Rabid Raccoon said, "Call and ask her!", Evil Edna sneered, "I'm not going to waste my time."

That ticked me off. If you honestly think your employee is stealing from me, you'd damn well better call me.

I immediately wrote a letter explaining the situation and explaining that today's crew were also given items to take home. I also requested that Evil Edna call me immediately. It's been well over 24 hours and she has yet to call.

When it came time for lunch, I had to call for pizza since I didn't have much left from the day before. The boys really enjoyed the pizza and the cut veggies though.

Later in the afternoon, the Rabid Raccoons joined the day's crew to help get the job done. They all worked hard and constant but I did get a little irked when some of the crew started asking me to go get beer for them. Definitely against the rules, and at this point - well, I'm not their financial support system. I managed to defer the requests graciously.

Finally, around 8:30 PM, all of my HHG designated to be shipped to Korea were packed and loaded into the large wooden crates, almost six full crates in all!!

Day 3 is next!