Saturday, December 31, 2011

Florida is scary #17

Woman eats too much 911 – A woman in Florida who dialed 911 claiming she eats too much has been charged with disorderly conduct and for Misuse of 911. A St. Lucie County Sheriff’s deputy responded to the emergency call at a local Travelers Inn located in the 3400 block of South U.S. 1. Police arrested Mary Ellen Lisee at a Fort Pierce, Florida for disorderly conduct.

The 911 call:

“My name is Mary Ellen Lisee. I have beaten, I believe in God, and He forgives me. I may joke, but I do not do crack. I will not for as long as I live.”

The hotel staff escorted police to her room where Lisee, 45, was yelling incoherently and jumping up and down in excitement.

A man who identified himself as her boyfriend was leaving for the night. He said it was too noisy and he needed to get some sleep. She was extremely loud in the room and in the hotel parking lot.

At that point, police interviewed the woman and asked how they could be of help to her. She stated that they should not be there. However, she did admit to calling them. The woman said she ate too much and dialed 911. Furthermore, when asked if she needed medical attention, the woman declined.

Lisee was then asked if she knew it was unlawful to misuse the 911 emergency systems. After she acknowledged the abuse, she was arrested for disorderly conduct and misusing the emergency system.

While this story is full of humor, it’s important to note that she is obviously abusing alcohol and the offense is a very serious matter. The woman who ate too much and dialed 911 could have clogged up the system during a real emergency. Hopefully, she gets the help she needs and understands that abusing the system can have life or death circumstances. At a minimum, it gets you a trip to jail.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Florida is scary #15

Santa Gets Stuck During His Grand Entrance - Video - KMBC Kansas City

What could delay the delivery of Santa’s gifts this Christmas?

Children might be wondering by now if Santa will have trouble going through their chimneys on Christmas Eve, especially after he got stuck making an entrance in a crowd of kids at a mall.

A man in a Santa Clause costume, hoping to wow kids by rappelling from the top floor of a Florida mall, got stuck after his long white beard was entangled in a rope.

“Santa!” one of the kids from below yelled as he saw helpless Santa struggling to free his stuck beard from the rope.

The announcer, who tried to keep the show rolling, told the kids to sing nice and loudly so they could help Santa come down.

Santa kicked and bounced around but to no avail. In the end, he had no choice but to spoil the kids’ excitement by removing his hat and beard so he could finally get down

Read more:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Korea four

Ah the boys of summer, the crowds roar, the crack of the bat, the smell of dried squid and boiled octopus in the air. Yes folks, I'm talking about baseball Korean style! Our friendship circle took us to a game. Dr Synn had been trying to discourage this from the very beginning but we were not to be dissuaded from our course. Gary in particular wanted to see a game while in Daegu and it worked out great as the Daegu Lions were playing one of their last regular season games in town. Our friendship circle is all college girls this time and none of them have ever been to a ball game. I'm pretty sure none of them knew the rules either but I'm sure they do now. Korean fans are a die hard bunch. We had a bit of a mixup getting our tickets so didn't get into the stadium in a timely manner. What we didn't know was that they oversell tickets for general seating. There are special seats set aside for little league teams that was cute. They all wore their uniforms and brought their gloves just in case. The assigned seating is like some kind of baseball maniac's club. After the game starts they open the gates to allow those of us without seats to spread out into the reserved sections. As a whole the Korean people are very polite and friendly. Some of their customs however, take some getting used too. Like the thing about personal space. While waiting in line they will press their bodies up against yours and think nothing of it. It's not considered rude at all, it's more of a camaraderie thing. Since we didn't have seats we were pressed into walls and crowds of people waiting for the elusive specail chairs to become available. Gary started to lose his cool at one point which is remarkable as I was on the edge about 20 times. Probably because Gwyndolyn was sandwiched between us and we were using our bodies to create a zone around her. Much to my amazement these polite, socially correct people hog seats! The first ones into the stadium snag a seat plus one on each side. One for their jackets, purse's, doo dad's and such, the other for their food. You have to stand in front of them, point at a seat and ask if it is available. Some of them actually say no even though you know it's open. Others will let you sit down.
The stadium is over 70 years old lacking in modern amenities, which is likely why Dr. Synn didn't want us to go. It's a concrete structure with minimal hand rails and concession stands. I avoided the toilets but you can't help but see into the mens room as the urinals' are all the way up to the missing door. If you are a modest guy, this is not the place for you. Dark dirty corridors under the stands to reach the exit's. The first row of balcony seats had no railings at all. So you sit up on this 5 foot wall, on a chair and sort of hang your legs over it. Super crowded and totally not OSHA safe in any way. You have to be willing to let go of your American idea's when traveling. Other countries don't follow the same rules we do. A fire marshall would have a heart attack over here. Since there clearly weren't enough seats for us all to sit together, or in the same section it was decided to split up. Gary found a spot for him and Gwyndolyn together. I found one in the same section but several rows away. We could look at each other though and hand signal when we needed too. I have no idea where anyone else ended up. I chose a seat beside a young couple who moved a huge greasy paper sack for me to sit down. They were big time fans. Little flashing lights head pieces, long blue tubes of air that you smack together to make noise, faces painted, the whole experience. But oh that paper sack. It smelled awful. At some time during the game I noticed the smell getting over powering and discovered they had taken dried squid out of the bag and were happily munching away. Sort of like a dried pigs ear or rawhide bone. You can smell it, but it isn't until it's been sucked on or chewed on that the aroma gets high. They must have caught me staring as they smiled and offered me my pick of what ever was in the bag. I saw boiled octopus legs, lots of dried fish things and what looked like a bowl of tofu noodles. Hard to turn that down...NOT. They were a pleasant couple though and I let them take pictures of me with them. I'd say 2 out of 3 patrons of the game brought a similar paper sack into the game. The small concession stands were behind us and what ever they were cooking in rancid oil just added to the over all nauseous feeling. Believe me if you ever get a chance to see a game, bring your own food. Or do like the autopsy folks did in Silence of the Lambs and smear something under the nose to mask the smell.
Now onto the game itself. Wild Wonderful Hilarious Outrageous and the best fun in a long time. The Daegu Lions ended up at the top of their division or what ever it's called. They're a pretty good team. To me it looked more like a triple A team. Or a super good high school bunch. Crazy error's, temper tantrums and botched throws abounded. The stadium has a fancy new score board that would show the batter's with their averages and stat's but I don't read hangul so I didn't get much from it. Other than a lot of the advertising was for American products like Subway and Pizza Hut. That is the only modern thing in the stadium. They don't have a PA system so the maniac fans do it for them. Like us, each player has a theme song. Unlike us they don't stop singing it just because the player is at the plate. In USA we stomp, yell and clap until the guy gets to the plate, then we go silent and wait for him to swing or something. The Koreans only get louder when you go to the plate. I wish I could understand what they were saying as I'm sure not all of it was very nice. One half of the stands were singing, cracking those blue tubes of air together and in general screaming or singing all the time. They are wonderful to listen too. No wall flowers allowed. You sing loud, you jump around, you make sure they know you are there for them. The opposing team is brutalized by raucous cat calls and boo's. We hounded the fielders from both teams, depending on the play. We screamed at the umpires, and laughed at the players that struck out. We didn't shush for any batters, we got louder. The stadium rocked or we rocked the stadium. A few Americans in my section, looked like college age kids really got into the action and the crowd cheered them on. You can't get crazy enough to get thrown out. It was a hoot.
Dr. Synn wanted to leave early to avoid traffic so we left in the top of the 7th inning. Just as I made it through the packed crowd to the meeting point, our team hit a home run and the place went wild. I was wrong. I didn't think it would get louder or crazier but they proved me wrong. It was hard making my way out of the stands to get out of there. People grabbed my hands and pulled me into dances, they posed me for pictures, they celebrated without restraint. Gary was on his way back to find me when I finally broke free and made it to the lower caverns.
We all went out for coffee at a "angel in us" coffee shop downtown. It's a chain of shops throughout Republic of Korea (ROK). There were more of us than there were chairs and the little ones like Gwyndolyn, SynnDong and Jenny were up to late and getting out of control. It was a stark contrast from the game though. Our student MiHwa (me wah) gave directions to the driver and then immediately got into an argument with him. I think he was going to a different angel in us and she thought he was trying to go the long way to make extra money. When Korean is spoken softly it is sort of relaxing and soothing sounds. But raise the voice and it all sounds angry. You could be saying "hey I sure missed you I'm so glad we got to see each other" and it's going to sound like "as soon as I get close enough I'm going to punch you out". Maybe not that nicely said.
My whole point here is that Korean Baseball was great. What a wonderful experience.
My trip here is coming to a close and I have so much I haven't told you guys yet. I must get busy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Korea Three

I have pictures but every time I try to upload them it freaks out my isp and kicks me off line. I'll try tomorrow. good night all.

So many things going on lately I haven't had time to sit and write. Let's go back to Jeon Ju the historical city. We spent the night in a Korean style hotel room which means no bed or chairs. There was a small fridge and a sink with some dishes making it a suite I guess. The bathroom was separate from the main room and required a small step up to the 'wet area'. Meaning the commode, sink and shower are all in the same area. The towels they offered were similar to what we call a hand towel, only thinner. Again, these are small people but those towels were really tiny. The heating system is in the floor. There was a stack of blankets and pallets on one side of the room. You basically use a quilted pad under you, a spread over you and the pillow is about the size of your forearm and filled with dried seeds. My old bones are used to mattress and box springs so I found it very tough to sleep. I had done a lot of riding in a car then walking around town so my knees were on fire. There was nothing soft about that bed so I used my blanket as a pad between the knees to stop them from touching. It got chilly at night and none of us really understood the heating system so we left it alone. Some friends of ours, The Cotters had a mishap with the heating system in their room so we decided not to touch it once set. Craig Cotter tried to flush the bidet and flooded the bathroom. Then the heating got mixed up so the floor was really hot. Like fry an egg hot. The Russ family planned on meeting the Dr's family to hike to the top of a hill to see the structure up there. I chose not to go so stayed asleep. Once Gary got his morning shower in it was decided to go ahead and try to warm up the room where I was sleeping. I woke up sweating and foggy headed. Seems the heater got turned up higher than they thought and it was about 103F in there. Much to my dismay I couldn't figure out how to open the doors to let myself out or the fresh air in. The room had glassed windows and doors on the front. I could watch the Korean workers fixing breakfast soups and jogging around in the small courtyard getting their day started. I could see how the doors they were opening had an outside piece of wood that they moved to the side to open the door. It was beginning to look like I was locked in with no relief when I finally figured out the inside door locks and was able to get out to sit on the step. I know that doesn't sound like much to you all, but it was a big deal to me, I really thought I might be might be cooked in there. I'll certainly remember it and how the Koreans outside the door ignored me as I struggled to get out. It's that old isolation thing when you live closely together you need to invent privacy. So they simply didn't look at me and I didn't pound on the glass for help.
The city was marvelous with it's historical buildings and living history displays. My favorite was watching the paper makers working. The building was surrounded by tubs of sludge and huge piles of wood strips. Inside the building tables had been set up with stacks of paper drying on them. In one corner I watched a man standing at a large metal homemade looking machine making paper. He would lay a piece of lattice with some kind of liner inside a large tub. Then he'd release water to flow into the tub while he shook it and moved it around to get an equal distribution of sludge looking stuff on the lattice. He ran a piece of blue string down the edge of the newly formed sheet, turned and stacked it neatly on a pile behind him. He had about a 4 inch stack of soupy looking sheets. Then turned back to his machine and do it again. Gary heard the English description saying they would then smash the stack to remove most of the water. I suppose the blue string was to ensure it would still peel apart after being smushed.
We were in a liquor making building but didn't get a good description of it. We did see that raw ingredients were put into large fired clay pots and stirred before having a lid put on. They do have an alcoholic drink here that smells like grain alcohol only stronger if you can believe it and has some sediment that must be stirred before drinking. I think that is what we were looking at. The manufacture of this drink. They do have a rice wine and that also means a sediment. We spent more time at the alcohol exhibition than any place else. lol
Jeon Ju was also the spiritual center of the Joseon dynasty. Or Choson which is the ancient name of the people of Korea. They are not Koreans they are Choson. The dynasty lasted from July 1392 – October 1897 when the Japanese invaded. It is the longest running Confucian dynasty. As the center of this enlightened city there was a formal palace. You have to walk through a big gateway to get inside. The walls of the gateway announce long life, prosperity, good health so that when you walk through them these are your blessings. Beyond the gate is a much thinner gate called the Devils gate. There are red spikes on top of it and most of the architecture is red colors. The theory is that demons are afraid of red and those brave enough to try to pass will get hung up on the spears and not get inside. If you do walk through the gate you can only bring happiness and purity with you since everything else was removed by passing through these 2 gates. Inside the main courtyard there is an actual painting of the last emperor. There were 3 paintings of him done on silk but when the Japanese invaded 2 of them were lost forever. 1 was preserved by house hold servants. They took it down, rolled it up and carried it up into the mountains. The painting was constantly on the move to protect it. Only a few people knew where it was at any given time. The practice worked as the painting has been restored to it's original place. It's actually outside in a covered building, but open to the elements. Amazing it's still here but cool that we can see his image. Now I'm wondering if it isn't the first emperor and not the last. I waited to long to write this. I know it was super old but not sure if it dated back to the 13th century. That seems like a very long time, but it is possible I suppose. I'll try to look that up when I get time. Inside the walled palace grounds was a lovely garden of bamboo. Huge stalks thick as your arms and about 25 or 30 feet tall. Plenty of animals wandering around too. One of the funniest things was a special tree that doesn't grow bark. It is called the naked woman tree and women weren't allowed to see one so as to not embarrass them. So the womens housing was never built where they could see the tree. They kept their purity this way. Gates passing through the sections all had steps up or down and all were small in comparison to us North Americans who keep on getting bigger. Burials are different and sacred to Koreans. Emporer Taejo and his son were buried somewhere on a mountain but the umbillical cords were buried on the grounds. At some point the stone monument and the bodies were moved down to the grounds to be reunited with the umbillical cords. Not sure why that cord was so important but to them it was worth fightiing and dying over.
According to Dr Synn, Jeon Ju is the place where bipimbop was invented. Sort of a regional specialty. We walked to a restaurant that required back alleys and scary looking store openings. By the time we got to it though, the line was huge sort of validating Dr. Synnn's account of this being the best restaurant for bipimbop around. We ate at the #2 spot though and I loved it. No matter what you order the table is filled with tiny bowls full of kimchee and other delicacies that I don't recognize. I do love bean sprout kimchee and after eating all our tables supply Dr Synn had them deliver a bowl of soup to me. It's hot water with 5 or 6 bean sprouts floating in it. That is the soup that is mostly served for breakfast, like our oatmeal, just a lot less substantial. The bipimbop is a bowl of rice with veggies and red curry paste. They either break an egg into the middle of the hot rice to cook or they serve a bowl of steamed egg. One of the side dishes was some sort of clear gelatin squares with a lightly lemon taste to it. It had some leafy veggie in it that I never could identify. It was one of the best things I've tasted in a while. With all the hot spicy food a bit of that gelatin was soothing and perfect. My neighbors in Virginia had told me about bipimbop and they were 100% right. I could eat it 3 times a day and not feel like I was missing anything. I'm definately going to learn how to make it as I think this is a little far to travel for dinner. We had eaten a formal dinner with Dr. Synn and family the night we arrived. We were ushered into little rooms where you sit on mats on the floor, it had a television playing on the wall and a long low table in the middle. Food began arriving on platters with no rhyme or reason I could figure out. There were what I'd say was 3 categories. The first was a grilled beef or pork cooked in pepper sauces. The 2nd was whole fishes on plates, The 3rd category was all the side dishes. These side dishes are at every meal whether you order them or not. You also never know what they are going to be. Just what ever the cook had sitting around that day. All I can get anyone to tell me is they are already prepared and therefore, free. If you finish a side dish,someone will appear immediately to remove the empty bowl and replace it immediately. So if you are a member of the clean plate club you are in trouble here. You simply can not clean your plate without someone refilling it for you. Does no good to wave your hands and say no no. They smile and do it anyway. But the dinner was a lot of fun and I discovered a dish with thinly sliced strips of cucumber with a green leafy veggie mixed in it. Soggy veggie like maybe it's spinach and I just don't know it.
We spent the evening and next day wandering around this wonderful little city gawking at the sights. Some festival was going on so they had extra stuff like little girls in costume looking like our ballerina schools rushing around the streets. Street musicians, a calligrapher selling poems and texts on the street, and plenty of people and noise. There was a Catholic Church we got to visit briefly where I had hoped to light a candle for Matthew and Nick, but they didn't have any available. I've been lightingn candles all over the world, seemed odd to me not to find them here. Oh, jump forward to today and I also learned this is the one country that the Catholic's did not populate. Protestant's did though. There were 2 doctor missionaries in Daegu. They had a patient, probably someone important, brought to them and were told if you can cure him we will believe in your God because he is too sick for our own doctors. Nothing will help him. The American doctors treated him and he lived so they converted by the thousands. We brought the concept of surgery to Korea also, which to them was like a miracle. The American Christian doctors were healing people who normally would have died. Close enough to a miracle to get a strong foot hold in Korea. A group of Korean's who had been living in China and came to be Catholic's brought the religion back with them. There is a small Catholic Church with their pictures on the front of it. It is absolutely dwarfed by the huge Protestant Church directly behind it. There were 2 women and about 10 men. I didn't actually count but just looked at the pictures.
Now, back to Jeon Ju. Lovely cobble stoned streets worn thin from thousands of years of villagers walking around on them. The tiled roof with upturned corners jutting out over our heads gave us a feeling of antiquity swirling around us. Narrow streets that used to be only donkey, horse, oxen or people now having SUV's parked along it. Makes traffic quite a trick to get around in. Korean's honk their horns a lot. But they do it politely to inform other cars of their position. Good thing to with all the lane switching that goes on here. Phew, I could tell some tales there! American's honk horns mostly in anger. Get out of my Way you knucklehead type deal. We don't honk as much (except New York City where it is obligatory) but when we do it we mean business. Here the noise is constant, light little taps of I'm here, I'm here.
We took the short way home as Gary had volunteered to teach an English class for some professor. Keep in mind on the way to Jeon Ju we drove 2 hours South before Dr. Synn caught up to us to tell us we were going in the wrong direction. So it was a much longer trip getting there than it was coming home. If you know Gary, well, you know what I'm talking about. These things just seem to happen around him a lot.
notes on the side.
Gary participated in the "walk a mile in her shoes" campaign here on post. It's for awareness of domestic violence. He wore his military pants, a black tee shirt that says Walk a mile in her shoes and high heels. Stiletto style. It wasn't a mile but it was enough! About 50 soldiers were in the march including a lot of young Korean men who weren't too happy about it. They either laughed it up and posed funny or hid in the back and scowled. Nothing inbetween. Some of the guys looked great! Gary found standing still in the heels to be painful so was pushing them to finish the speeches and get to walking. He started near the front of the pack. Before they got out of the small parking lot he had fallen to the rear. Every step he could you could watch the muscles on the side of his face twitch. His bright pretty shoes even had the long pointed toes on them. By the time they got to the end of the street no other marchers were in sight except Gary, slowly plodding along with determination. He wasn't going to be the first but he was going to finish by God. I cut across the golf course where some Korean women had been playing but were standing watching the spectacle. They asked me what was going on and when I told them they fell apart laughing. They want to start this tradition with Korean men too. The Katusa's (Korean Aid to United States soldiers) who did the walk all brought shoes and I got to watch them walking off post with some Korean women who were laughing hard at the young mens faces of pain. Too funny.
Korean food remains a mystery to me. I've never ordered in a Korean restaurent. You just sit down and food starts coming. Reasonably priced too which makes it all the stranger. I have been doing well with asking if there is fish in things and usually find something to eat. I was going to a tofu restaurent yesterday with some Korean women who assured me tofu was all about soybeans. But right as we were ready to make the turn they mentioned it was boiled in fish broth! I told them to go ahead, I would eat side dishes and maybe something later, but they found a place that serves chopped beef steak instead. Same thing, we walked in, sat down and the table started filling up. The menu must have had 30 things on it but without even asking we all ate the chopped beef steak. Last night there was a reception as this super upscale hotel and it was served buffet style. I was unsure about a few things so passed them by. I did eat some wonderful barbecued tofu, herb grilled chicken, beef chunks in bbq style sauce and beef pot stickers. Only the pot stickers didn't taste right to me. Normally I love beef on a skewer like that and these had sliced almonds and green onions on them too. But it was too rubbery and I didn't like it at all. I discreetly scraped the sauces off of it and discovered I was eating some kind of animal kidney flayed open with the stick run through it. Oh my! I had taken 2 of them off the tray, now what was I going to do with them? But I get ahead of myself. Food here is something of a miracle and I don't understand the process at all. But I find I can eat more of it than I thought I would be able too.

This seems to be about SeoMun market, I'm not sure when I typed it so will just stick it on here.

In general the Korean's eat a lot of fish. Oh lets be honest, it it once lived in the ocean they eat it. An amazing array of fish and byproducts. Korea is a peninsula that is very mountainous. Tough to plant crops on these mountain sides. So they turned to the most natural source of food and that is the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea. Seaweed is another staple of their diet and it's not so bad. Salty and tough to tear off chewable chunks but I can do it. That's it though, I don't want smashed squid or octopus legs. I didn't know there were that many octopus' in the ocean. Maybe they have a farm of them someplace. Like we farm catfish. The curled up tentacles must be good to seafood minded people cause there sure are a lot of them for sale. We ate at a French Baguette cafe for breakfast and I was relieved. I eat as much local food as I can because I want to experience everything but my stomach must be touchy or something. It is not unusual to be queasy the day after I eat a whole meal. Oh, except for hotta, not sure of the spelling. It's a Korean pan cake. They take a doughy ball and smash it flat, add sugar/cinnamon to the center with some finely chopped peanuts. It gets folded back up into a ball then placed on a hot griddle. It gets smushed flat again and cooked on both sides. The griddle is specially made so a bar runs up the middle. As the pancake is thick they push it up against the bar to make sure the outer edge gets cooked too. Talk about a taste treat. melt in your mouth goodness.
I try not to think about the sanitary systems as there really aren't any. I am hoping the heat kills most germs. They have no idea of Osha standards in the workplace. You would give the fire marshall a heart attack if he saw what the inside of buildings look like. Same with electrical stuff. People hook themselves onto power lines illegally to bleed off electricity for their own use. The power poles are a mess of wires. I witnessed a man trying to repair a tangle of wires because one was drooping down to head level. His ladder was made of bamboo. Made total sense to me. I wouldn't want anything metal around there. There are no escape routes from buildings, you just run and hope for the best. Same with driving. If there are laws out there everyone ignores them. Lot's of modes of transportation. To the usual flow of cars and truck we add small motor scooters, bicycles, strange little hand carts pulled by a home made scooter and just plain old people power. Driving successfully has something to do with guts and chutzpa. I am happy to leave the driving to someone else. Not me. Karen zips around in traffic like an old pro. I don't have much opportunity to drive with Gary but each time I have been with him, we got lost. Only 2 of them were his fault though. On one occasion the whole caravan got lost. Gary has a trickster for the angel on his shoulder. likes to keep things mixed up some.
Oh Gwyndolyn just came screaming into the room that there was a bee in her room and she wanted me to do something about it. As we walked down the hallway a house fly buzzed past and she pointed and yelled there it is, while ducking behind my back. She is now hiding in her room saying she'll come out when all the bee's are gone. She doesn't believe me that they are flies and won't bite or sting. Silly girl. She remains the great love of my life despite a new habit of getting close to your face and screaming aaarrrrggghhh! Sort of like Lucy yelling after Snoopy licks her on the lips. Or Linus in frustration. It's loud enough to make my ears hurt. That and she insists on doing my hair in various styles most of which draw stares when I go outside. We walk to swimming class and she talks nonstop the whole time. I am trying to walk for exercise but she insists on going along and almost immediately begins to whine that it's too long and she wants to go home, or look I've never been on that playground before and so on. I'm not getting much exercise in but am getting great at patience. Other than Barbie.I've about had it with Barbie. Bored bored bored. Oh, I did wrap Ken up as a mummy for Halloween against her wishes and he looks really cute. I plan on leaving him that way at least until I get some good pictures for my kill greg website.
Now that I've finished this one we can move onto Korean baseball.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Florida is scary #16

LAKE CITY, Fla. — The battle for pizza supremacy has taken a wrong turn in Florida.

Stampede! C'mon — what's not to like?
Hoof it over to Facebook to join the weird news herd.
..Two managers of a Domino's Pizza restaurant in Lake City, in north-central Florida, have been charged with burning down a rival Papa John's location.

The motive? Police say one of the men admitted that he believed with his competitor out of the way, more pizza lovers would flock to his restaurant.

The Papa John's was gutted in the Oct. 20 fire.

Sean Everett Davidson, 23, and Bryan David Sullivan, 22 were arrested Thursday and Friday, respectively, and booked on an arson charge each and were being held in jail.

The Star-Banner of Ocala reports that police are still looking for an ignition device that the men claimed they made but did not use to start the fire.

Police said the suspects described a device made out of a clack, a nine-volt battery, a golf ball-size amount of black gunpowder and a plastic bag, the newspaper reported.

The suspects allegedly told police that they dismantled the device and threw the parts out of their vehicle along Interstate 75.

Police warned anyone finding an odd device along the highway not to touch it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Korea two

Today I went to the sun moon market. That's seomun to those who speak the language. We walked off post to the subway station. I lugged my camera with me only to discover I had taken the digital card out of it so had zero memory. Bummer. I tried to take a picture of the name of the home station so I would know where to return too. Had to walk down several flights of stairs so gave me a chance to try and pick the best foot position for the knee. I was doing great until the bottom step which I missed. Ended up falling into a ball stretching my knee in new and exciting positions. Karen looked at me on the floor and asked 'do we need to go back'. Once the waves of nausea passed I discovered I was able to get up and walk around okay. Much to my surprise my big toe on the other foot hurt the most. I'm used to the knee pain. The subway was clean and nice. Young students filled most of the seats and aren't good about letting old folks use them but that is pretty universal. I did okay hanging onto a strap along with the other oldsters. My blondish white hair creates a stir and I plenty of stares. The market was sort of like an outdoor mall. There are 4 huge buildings with 3 or 4 floors on a corner. The roofs are connected by canopies to keep off the rain making it into a sort of building. The aisles are narrow and packed with goods and people. They have sections or areas designated to certain things. I tried to stay out of the fish aisles but no matter where you go you run into it. The 'food court' was made up of small booths with knee level chairs situated around a pot of boiling water and another pot of possibly hot oil. You just set down and choose your ingredients since they are spread out on trays around you. Noodles appear at 90% of the meals. So do mushrooms and what I can only guess is sections of large intestines of cows. Our friendship circle does not recommend we eat them as they aren't always sanitary. They looked positively nasty so it wasn't much of a worry I was going to eat them. Silk worm pupae is a special treat though and you walk past baskets of little brownish black pupae (dead unborn bugs) which they roll in cornmeal of some type and deep fry. It's a lot like getting almonds in a cone I think. Special treat. We walked past many vendors crouched on the sidewalks leading up to the market buildings selling all kinds of fresh produce, mud still attached. Plastic buckets filled with teaming masses of eels, live crabs, and dried flattened fish. Since the country is surrounded by ocean seafood is a big part of the diet. Squid and octopus show up on the dinner plate frequently. I saw a woman on a truck netting up what looked like sting rays into buckets for sale. Flipping wings and trying to escape I felt sad for them. I love the manta rays and would like to protect them as much as I can. Several places sell socks! There is even a whole street labeled sock street. They had plenty of booths selling them inside the market. Leggings, clothes, fabric's, herbs, misc stuff, many many jewelry shops filled with swarvorski crystal pieces so glittery it turns the head. Cookwear, shoes, quilts, bedding of all kinds, shops making and selling homb bocks the traditional womens dress up dress. They are lovely and I would love to own one but I think they might be too expensive for me. Plus I am too big so they would have to special make one for me. I did buy an outfit today that is natural fibers. It comes with pants and shirt. They had to look hard to find one that fit me, but luckily they specialize in large arms for style but it made it possible to get my arms into it. I think I'm looking pretty snazzy when all dressed up. I plan on buying more. Truly, everywhere Iook I like the clothing here. Except the ubiquitous sporting goods. Shoes are similar to Europe meaning not many walking / running shoes. Plenty of jeweled slippers though, super high heels, short boots and flats rule the day. All colors, mostly small sizes. My gal pal Panda would have a blast here. Shoes shoes shoes. It is still my intention to try as many native dishes as possible but keeping out of the fish arena is proving difficult. It is a main stay of the diet. I still gag when I get a mouthful which seems so disrespectful. I prefer to just stay out of it completely. This is another country that doesn't use much processed sugar. A cake here is almost like bread with just a touch of sweetness, mostly in the frosting. Karen bought me a treat at the market that was probably their version of a funnel cake. It was an egg rich dough that smelled like french toast. It was filled with a cinnamon apple butter with nuts in it. They put it on a skillet type drum and cook both sides then fold it in half and put in a paper cup for you. Very tasty and the sweetest thing I've eaten since my arrival. I plan on getting it at least one more time.
I came home to rest my swollen knees after the fall and much walking and ended up sleeping for 5 hours. It is now night time and I'm a bit more awake than I wish i was. Going to go back to sleep though and keep these knees elevated as much as I can.
Oh, a loud speaker came over the camp today announcing some kind of exercise and I saw lots of soldiers marching around with guns. Helicopters flying over and plenty of noise. Someone stopped in front of our house and took notes on a clip board. I had the shades pulled up to let in light and wondered if that is what they were looking at. Guess we will find out in a couple of days. Golfers didn't even pause in their play. They wear gloves, arm covers, hats, neck guards and sometimes face protectors to keep the sun off. I bet the rate of skin cancer is pretty low here. Driving ranges are spotted around the city of Daegu. Guess it's a big time sport event now. Most of the golfers I see here on post are Korean. I see Mr. Shin frequently as he cleans several houses in this section. His English is limited and he's a bit stingy on smiles but he's a hard worker and very dedicated to his job. The streets are almost leaf free as they have a group that goes around with rakes and an old fashioned broom made of sticks constantly sweeping. This is true downtown too. Every market has a stick broom leaning outside or close by. No fancy store bought brooms for these guys. All natural, all the time.
Went back to the market today and got some photo's which I shall post soon. I took a photo of a pile of intestines, lungs and livers and suddenly a woman popped up started calling me madame and pumping my hand. She wouldn't let go, she was very excited and happy. She is in Korea on vacation from Thailand and invited me to sit down and have lunch with them. Lunch being those same intestines I had been looking at with disgust. She introduced me to her friend and asked about Karen. In hindsight I should have stopped for pictures. She was that excited to meet me. I wore my one purchase, a Korean casual pant suit and was the center of everyone's attention. It was quite a sight. Everyone said hello and commented on my attire. In the traditional homback area they loved me and I loved them. I plan on going back on Friday to purchase an outfit I liked but didn't have enough money for. I truly love these fashions, especially the natural fibers and colors. Tomorrow the neighbor is taking us to the fabric market and I am hoping to get some good stuff there.
We ate on post tonight at a place called Hilltop. It's Gwyndolyn's fave restaurant. They all know her there and she doesn't even have to order, they all know exactly what she wants. There was a liveband tonight, basically 3 women wearing tight skimpy attire singing with a back up band. All of it sounded alike to me, until the last song. The skinniest one started rapping! It was so hard not to break out with laughter. It was just so incongrous, this little Korean chick singing rap and dancing with one hand sort of stuck in front of her pants, like the gangsta rappers do. I absolutely loved it. At one point Gwyndolyn and I got up and danced on the dance floor. Lot's of twirls for her and an occasional dip. Mostly we swayed and enjoyed ourselves. We were the only dancers all night and got the biggest applause when done. Even bigger than the band. What a hoot that was. Magic moments. She walked home with her belly pointed at the sky insisting she was pregnant and ready to pop. She still plans on marrying MyJohn. She asked me tonight if he was married and when I said no, she told me to make him wait until she got old enough. Next time we skype she plans on proposing. Actually she won't propose she will just inform him of what is already a done deal in her mind.
This past weekend we went to a town called Jeon Ju sounds like g on jew. It is a historical city that the emperor Lee lived in. The Jeosin or Geo sin dynasty was centered here. The last Korean dynasty it went from 1302 to 1910 when the Japanese invaded. In the old section of the city a lot of original buildings still stand and are in use today. Many have been renovated carefully to match the surrounding architecture. Between Gary's adventure spirit and Dr. Shin's directions we started out about an hour and a half in the wrong direction. It was a nice drive for me as I got to see a lot of the surrounding countryside, which is mostly mountains. I saw lots of small areas Gary called happy mounds. They are burial sites for ancestors, they are cleared places in forested moutains with these mounds of dirt about 3' X 5' by 3' tall. The rich folks have buddha statues or some kind grave marker surrounding them. Those mounds tend to be enclosed in marble or concrete but the top of the dirt is still showing. Apparently for last months chew sock holiday people would go to these burial mounds to bow to their ancestors and leave little gifts of food and notes. Gary says there are sometimes land disputes as the happy mounds are not official cemetaries but the countryside is dotted with them. Often with the land being owned by someone other than by the deceased family. This part of Korea is mountainous with small valleys filled with buildings and people. I think about the Korean War and the soldiers having to march & climb these unforgiving hills. It must have been brutal, especially in winter. In 1910 the Japanese pretty much stripped the mountains of trees to build cities and I suppose to open land for fortification. I should look this up as I am relying on spoken history without facts to back it up. I was also told that the trees were so decimated that for many years it was illegal to even climb a tree in some areas for fear of damaging them. These forests are full of tangled undergrowth and I would normally think a huge fire hazard, but South Korea gets a lot of rain so things stay pretty damp. Every couple of miles the highways cut through mountains with tunnels. In one of the longer ones there was a siren blowing inside the whole time we drove through. Pretty nerve wracking as it sounded a lot like an ambulance was coming up from behind and we kept looking for it. I really liked driving by the terraced rice paddies. This is harvest time so the fields are dry and the rice is heavy yellow stalks bent over with the seed pods. Somehow this computer has deleted and reinserted paragraphs several times. I think I"ll stop now and send this before spending hours going into details about the trip that disappear immediately after writing it down. To be continued...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Korea one

Time to start naming these things with numbers to keep them in order.

Yaki mandu, was there ever a more delightful word? It is pronounced yock e mon due and is basically a fried shell with rice noodles, onions, scallions and stuff I don't recognize packed inside. I really love these things and haven't had them in years. I wonder why? I also truly love a dish called bulgoki or bull go gee. Seen several different spellings on that one but the pronounciation remains the same. Still haven't tried bibimbop (?) soup yet but do plan on it as it comes highly recommended.

Our doorknobs don't have keys. It is a numbered keypad so you don't have to worry about forgetting your keys someplace. Frankly, I like it this way. So long as you can remember your personal code you can get into the house. GW gave me a mini course on how to do it.

Gwyndolyn asked to be called either Gwyn or G W. I truly think she prefers G W, but am sticking with Gwyn for now. All the teachers at school call her Gwyn per her request. I like that she has stated a preference.

G W and I have been playing catch every evening with a Larry the Cucumber stuffed toy. I couldn't find a ball at first and considering the control and variety of pitches she use's I'm glad for old soft sided Larry. It only hurts when one of his plastic eyes hits me. All us gal folks are trying to learn to hula hoop. Karen and I look pretty danged funny and I'm glad no one is videoing us. I used to be the hula hoop queen when I was younger but now can't seem to remember whether to move hips or belly or knees so everything gets involved. It ain't pretty. Plenty of laughs though so we keep at it.

Michael Jackson is still pretty hot here although you can't imagine how fun it sounds to hear Thriller in Korean. The music is the same but the words sure aren't. Depending on where you are when you hear it, you get either version but you do get it. lot's of it.

We went on a wine making tour couple of days ago that was pretty neat. The main bottling plant gave us a mini tour of what the different farmers do and took us outside to a bus. We passed a group of Korean school children maybe 5 or 6 years old. Maybe younger as they looked so small but most Koreans are pretty small compared to us. The children were shouting 'hello hello hello' and waving their hands at us. We all responded hello which made them giggle and jump about. Gwynn had taught me how to say hello in Korean so I bowed and said "on ya say so" which broke them up laughing. I did get several bows back and later learned the correct way to say it is on ya say oh. I'm going to give up on trying to use correct spelling as I'm probably wrong and those of you using screen readers would get it quicker than having to back tract by letter. Those kids were great and helped make the day for me.

The winery had only been open for one year so vintage 2010 was the hit. They had us walk down into the carefully maintained vineyards to pick our own grapes. The walk past rice fields and different vegetable patches was an experience all by it's self. We took our grapes to a room with tables and began squishing them into plastic tubs. Messy work with lots of laughs, they added sugar as their soil is different than California's and the sugar content is lower. A couple of bits of stuff to kill any germs and yeast for those wanting to make wine. Our buckets are now sitting in the utility room where they get stirred twice a day for a week. It looks pretty ugly with the skins floating on top although it does smell pretty good. G W and I are making grape juice out of ours. The stuff they served at the winery was cold and thick and very delicious. I want more of it! Heck with the wine the juice was the best treat.
The drive there and back was an adventure too. My first time to get outside into the countryside and really see things. The clusters of little buildings in farming communities. The rice fields patchworked with what I think is grape vines. They all have coverings to keep bugs and birds off and they lay mats down between the rows so you can easily walk out to pick. I think most of the picking is still done by hand unlike Italy where they use a giant vacuum cleaner type deal.
Throw this in while I am thinking about it.Seoul is still Seoul. The airport is Incheon! There might be a small town near it named that also.
We had a contest to see who picked the grape with the highest sugar content. A 3 year old girl won that one. We also spit grape skins for distance. My spit was only a couple of feet but one woman spit about 15 feet and landed it on her husbands head! Plus she had a baby in her arms while doing it. She got the prize for spitting. The kids got to run around and play on some gravel and dirt behind the main buildings. Gwynn fell and skinned up her knee. She jumped to her feet and said "I'm alright, I'm alright". She ran another lap and fell again skinning the other leg and making a bloody mess on both legs. She again jumps up and says "I'm alright" Then she spreads her hands out in this funny adult gesture and says "okay everyone..'s okay". Cute as a button and quite the little trooper as her entire legs are scratched along with arms and hands. She falls a lot, always has, we think it might have something to do with depth perception (she is near sighted) and (I think) her skinny ankles. She has what used to be described as a well turned ankle. Now I think of it as a frequently turned ankle cause she does go down a lot. Tough chicka as she bounces right up. I've seen her whack her side into a table hard enough to stagger the table, she'll pause, suck in her breath and sort of mentally shake it off with an I"m alright exclamation.
After leaving the vineyard we stopped at a restaurant that specializes in Bulgogi. We were going to one that has bone soup but one of the guests insisted she hated it so we wound up going to the one all American's like. Bulgogi. I am still happily eating it as it is so good. We took off our shoes at the entrance then sit on the floor at these low tables. Each table has a wok like pan sitting on a gas burner. There is a special vent that hangs from the ceiling down to just above that pan to keep steam away. The wok has a bubbling stew of meat on the bottom, then onions and spices on top of that. On the very top is a circle of rice noodles making the whole thing look like art. You are given scissors, spoons, chopsticks and tongs. You start by cutting the noodles up and then the meat. A server came along and helped me with mine. I don't know if I was that bad or if he was that helpful. Knowing the Koreans now I suspect it was his wanting to help an American. Our tables full of white faces is still enough of a difference that we stand out. They had side dishes of kimchee, spicy fish, sea weed, bean paste and rice. I took some pictures but wish I had photographed everything.
There are lots of mountains around us, not as high or as steep as rockies, more of a gentler look to them. I suppose age may have something to do with it as I've been told the rockies are a young mountain range. Not sure what accounts for young when you are around the million mark.
Last night Gary and I went to dinner with a fellow soldier Katie and Dr Shin. His name is spelled s y n n although it's pronounced shin just like our yard man. We ate at an Italian restaurent that was reserved for a performance by some Korean opera singers. 2 women soprano's although one of them seemed more like an alto to me. But heck, I am definately not a songstress as you all know. They opened their mouths to sink and I was carried away by such beautiful voices. The pianist was marvelous too, but oh those voices. Don't cry for me Argentina was sang in Korean except for the title line which was in English. You didn't have any trouble figuring out what the song was though as soon as she started it. Wow. Their dresses looked like 1920's vamp. They were so beautiful to look at and listen to I felt transported to a wonderful dream land. They each did 5 songs, but we called them back for several encores. The owner of the restaurent is a Korean man who goes by the name of Carlo. He was solicitous of us and one of those sparkly people who love what they are doing in life.
Karen had made a pumpkin dessert for the first get together with the new kids in the Korean / American friendship circle. Dr. Shin must have really enjoyed it as the next day he asked to have some of it to take home to his wife. Then he added his Mother in Law who lives with them. I'm thinking he liked it just fine. He even came home from the restaurant last night to get it and take it home. He's a nice man. An internist. I had all I could do not to pump his brain for information on Nick.
Speaking of Nick, those of you who don't know this. Nick is a member of my extended family. He is terribly sick right now, in Intensive care with a huge MRSA infection throughout his entire body. He has a liver problem so his immune system is always low leaving him open to infection. This time it got really bad really fast. The doc says 6 to 12 weeks minimum in intensive care. He's in a lot of pain and is one sick little boy. Oh, Nick is 11. Pnumonia + cracked rib + fluid collecting around liver & spleen + kidneys not working. Nicks very sick and I am asking you guys to pray for him. His whole family is suffering right now. So those of you who are the praying type, add Nick Bowne to your list. Those of you who aren't... well... this would be a good time to start.

Daegu is a huge active city. The streets right around the military posts look kind of run down and seedy during the day. A bit better at night when all the lights come on, but still run down. The rest of the city is very clean, bright, colorful and crowded. Bill boards here are metal posts about 10 yards apart. They stretch colorful banners between the posts. Most of them are about 24 inches high and fill up all the space between the poles. Even high rise buildings have neon lights and banners on each floor. They love their colors here and use them happily.
There are restaurants that have metal drums with a table top attached to them. The top of the drum has a grill plate. You sit on chairs around the drum and cook your own food. The servers bring you plates of raw meat and veggies. You sit around chatting while cooking. Everyone eats from the same pot. The same as with the bulgogi. I can't get the hang of chop sticks yet. My fingers twirl around those metal sticks and food goes flying. I'm going to start carrying plastic forks around with me.
Speaking of food. Every salad here has been mouth watering, delicious. If I can find a cookbook with salad making instructions in English I'm bringing it back with me. I keep getting caught up in the darned fish stuff but can cover by filling up on salad. The dinner with the opera singers was 7 courses and at least 5 of them involved shrimp or clams. I thought I would be safe with the ravioli but it was the fishiest of them all. Gary and I exchanged plates several times during dinner so he could eat my fish stuff and I ate the salad. He's a great guy to serve as a back up for me.
Yesterday while walking to the taxi stand Gwyn suddenly announced she is going to marry MyJohn when she wakes up! Just out of the blue like. They are going to have a lot of babies, 3 of which are going to be named Lydia, Mina and Hercules. I asked what about me and she flipped her wrist at me and said, oh you can marry someone else and be our kids Grandmother. Cute kid, eh?
Katie spent a weekend at a Buddhist temple learning about their lives. She did 108 'fetal position' bows and walked a quarter mile where you take 3 steps then kneel and bow. Her muscles were so sore the next day she could hardly move. They ate the same food as the monks and slept on the temple floor on blankets same as the monks. She had a blast and learned a lot. She's a good advocate for America as she will try anything. Some other Americans actually demanded better food and then walked out! It was very embarrassing for Katie. She put the tour together and had been very specific about what to expect. Why would you sign up for something and then not want to do it? She is still embarrassed and hurt by it.
Small post, lots of walking. I've lost 7 pounds! My knee is crazy out of whack but so far is still letting me go. I'm delighted. Korea is different than I thought it would be and I have so much to see yet.
This is long enough.
Oh wait. I forwarded the first couple of emails to someone who wasn't on the list. Unfortunately I didh't realize that by forwarding it I was also sending it to everyone on the BCC list. So you all probably got them all over again. I hope to have that corrected now and will try hard not to over whelm you with copies.
Comb sahme dah Emily

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

more stuff

I doubt I'll continue writing as much once I get used to life here, but for now everything is so rich an wonderful. I'll also likely repeat myself because it's like sensory overload.

Yesterday I won some kind of Gwyndolyn lottery and she slept in my bed. I loved it! I don't mind the feet in the middle of my back, the kicks, the hair tangled in fingers or any of it. It got a bit chilly in the middle of the night and she snuggled her body up next to mind for warmth and slept with her head on my arm. I watched her sleep for a long time before drifting off to sleep myself. I woke this morning to find her with her head on her pillow watching me. We didn't speak, just stared at each other for a long time. She then turned her back to me and cuddled up by pulling my arm over her ribs. The next time I woke up I realized we were breathing at the same time. Since she breathes faster than me I'm guessing I patterned my breathing after her. That got me to thinking about what a wonderful little machine she is. Each breath enriching the blood cells with oxygen to feed her cells. The heart thumping away pushing blood throughout her system. The tiny hairs on her arms, the faint whuff of her breath on the back of my hand. What marvelous wonders we are. It was God who put this child into our world and I am forever grateful. She awoke again and we continued to lay there looking at each other. Wrapped in love and mystery. She reached out and brushed my cheek then launched herself onto me in a huge hug. What a way to wake up. I'm the one who couldn't stand it and broke the silence by telling her good morning. Her love is palpable and sweet. I am so blessed. Her Mom, Karen, is a not a jealous woman at all for which I remain eternally grateful. She lets me soak up all the Gwyndolyn love and doesn't worry about it at all. In fact, she encourages it. Lucky lucky me.

This is a small post so we walk everywhere. My knees are already reminding me of my age and getting quite sore. I am not planning on letting that stop me. I want to go to a Buddhist temple. I want to see the mountains, the sculptures, the tea ceremonies, everything I can get too.

The Korean people are wonderful. When I arrived at the airport I knew it was going to be a while before I got picked up. It was freezing cold inside and they appeared to be shutting down for the night, so I wandered outside to wait. A middle aged man attached himself to me as a sort of guard / guide. He rides a bicycle as does millions of Koreans but rather than go home, he sat with me and waited. He used his limited English to try to talk to me and I went through a series of finger motions, gyrations and mimicry to try to talk to him. The only word I knew how to say Kwa dong shia, and this means toilet. He refused to leave me until my friends arrived to pick me. That kind of eagerness to help is seen everywhere. I am so eager to learn their customs and share with them, it is great to see them so eager to share with me. They are an easily likeable people.

The Koreans are a bit phobic about sunlight. It reminds me of Rwanda where the Belgians favored the lighter skinned Tutsi peoples. I see people on the golf course constantly that are wrapped up from head to toe to prevent sun tanning. They wear long billed sun caps and have this neck attachment that covers with a spandex looking material. Darker skin indicates a poor farming lifestyle, where you have to work out under the sun. The lighter the skin is the richer and more educated you are. It's a fascinating dichotomy to observe on the streets. Almost all of the women have umbrella's they carry any time they are outside. So the umbrella's have become a work of art. The bright cheerful colors mixed with flowers and dragons keep you entertained. I am determined to get one for myself before I leave. I did buy a fan from 'the Chinese man' as he is commonly referred too that sits in a silky satiny embroidered case. It's made from balsa wood and broke the tip off the first time I used it but I love it just the same. With the muggy weather I am happy to have one.

Oh I forgot about that, this part of the country is hot and muggy a lot. Even though the temps have cooled down the humidity is quite high. There are 3 dehumidifiers going in the house and they have to be emptied several times a day. That's a LOT of humidity. The mosquito's love it. Apparently they love me too and I am chewed on frequently. Gary says he will pay me a dollar a mosquito killed. If I were quicker with my hands I could make a fortune. They are painfully annoying. It did rain last night and today which makes the mountains so beautiful. These mountains are covered completely in green trees. I see no meadows or paths although I'm sure they exist. From the street I can see 5 or 6 of them towering over us and with todays soggy weather they have wispy clouds sort of stuck on the sharp points of the pines. I hope to get a decent photo to send out. We are on the same latitude as Indianapolis and have similar vegetation. This street is lined with sycamore trees. They keep the top trimmed off so they aren't as tall as I am used too and have many more small branches. Karen thinks they are the same tree we used to see in Germany without the leaves and always wondered what they could possibly be.Plenty of pines around here also. Bushes are trimmed carefully into topiary like shapes. Some gardener put a lot of time and effort into landscaping this post. From the table where I sit I can see a bush that has been trimmed to look like stepping stones angling around the base to the top. Course having the golf course across the street might have something to do with the artistry although the whole post has beautifully manicured lawns. There is a little bridge over a moat on the golf course. Gwendolyn and I walked across it a couple of days ago and the moat is filled with Koi. All of them popping their heads up to the surface and making funny sucking noises with their little fish mouths. The little open mouths reminded me of the giant carp we used to feed at Stockton lake.
Gwyndolyn likes to have these serious conversations with me, most told sotto voce as in whisper. She began telling me to go pack my bags to go home because there is a war coming and I might die. She tells me about dinner, the girl who wants to kick her in the face, her friend Grace and a thousand other secrets. All of which I am instructed not to tell her Mom. I keep telling her we are a family and that means we are on a team, we don't keep secrets. I've said it so many times she repeats it along with me, but it hasn't slowed the flow of secrets. Part of our night time rituall includes brushing my hair and twisting it into knots with rubber bands. I'll be lucky if I have any hair left by the time she is done. She holds strands of my hair in her hand and rubs the strands between her fingers while smiling to herself. It's like she can't get enough of it. I have taken a couple of pictures of her hair dressing attempts but don't look for any on here. They are catastrophic failures.
Karen and I went to the school today so I got to see part of it. We tip-toed past her class so I could look in and hope she didn't see me. Karen, with her usual dispatch has assigned me to be a popcorn popper volunteer. She has got to be the queen of volunteer land. I like to help out though and if I ever settle down in one place I'm sure I'll become a regular on the senior citizen circuit. I really love the old folks.
For those of you keeping track, I haven't finished War & Peace yet. I keep getting distracted by other books. I've finished 4 or 5 of them since I got here. In an effort to continue sleeping successfully I do not take a book to bed with me. Although I have to admit without the distraction of the book my nightly prayers are getting longer and longer. Not sure if I've changed my 'go to sleep' time, but hey, talking to God is always pretty cool.
There is a Gyeongiu Folk craft village near us I am hoping to visit soon. The artisans work on site so you can see how they do them. There is an old railroad line that has been converted to bicycle things on tracks that you paddle along and sightsee for 2 kilometers. I'd love that too if I am not the one doing the pumping!
Despite Korea being a Buddhist country there are a surprising number of Christian churches here. I see the spires with crosses on top all the time. Baptists seem to have a strong foothold with 7th day Adventist's running a close second. That's from what I've seen though and it is all in the city, I haven't been out in the countryside yet. I'm assuming the more traditional Buddhism would be the main church. I am really looking forward to seeing a temple. I've been told there are some that you can drive most of the way up too. What a relief that will be. So far the pictures I've seen have me a bit nervous. I'm afraid I'll get to the top of the mountain and find the closest kwa dong shia is at the bottom of the hill. Going down is even harder than going up for me.
Gary's whirlwind trip to the states ended last night and he managed to go to work today. I'm guessing he will come home and flop down asleep immediately. Poor guy, that is a LOT of traveling. 30+ hours in 3 days.
Okay, this should be plenty long enough. Until next time.

just some thoughts

I think I've found my time zone here! I go to bed ontime and wake up bright and cheerful (I can hear Alice gasp) at around 6 in the morning, not evening. As many of you know I have serious sleep issues and like elephant man have prayed to sleep like normal people do. I do find that by about 8 I can't think of anything to do. For the first time in my life I have too much time on my hands. Pretty freaky, but I love it.
I haven't done much with my camera yet. I am feeling shy about asking people if I can take their photo. They have no such reservations. In fact while out sight seeing Karen, Gary and Gwyndolyn are often asked to pose for people. When they are really bold Grandma or someone gets in the picture with them. I've seen a man dressed in starched white linen that bowed out at the knees then wrapped in close around his ankles. Looking exactly like a history book Korean. I've seen Buddhist monks small as a child. I've seen children monks too. Sometimes the only way to tell is to look for a shadow from shaving. I've seen women dressed in traditional costume looking like painted dolls. I'm ashamed to say I often mistake the workers in shops as manicians. They sort of still themselves and are always perfectly made up. Thankfully I haven't touched one yet. Americans love to touch things.We would never consider buying a shirt without running our hands over it first. So no, I haven't groped a manician yet.
My Shin is the Yard man/house man. He comes every other week and manicures the lawn, trims trees & bushes, does laundry, dishes and mops floors. He's very through and doesn't like interruptions. Much to my dismay he insists on eating his lunch sitting on the floor in the utility room. He prefers it that way which made me very uncomfortable. I ended up sitting on the computer where I couldn't see him and played games on Pixie Hollow.

Karen took me outside shopping today at a Korean market. The bright shining city I saw the first night is replaced by a dirty city full of mom and pop stores, boarded up places, many many cell phone shops, massage and nail painting places. There were a lot of people sitting on the city streeets selling vegetables and such. Or just sitting in doorways. They sort of 'hunker down' on their feet and can stay like that for hours. American women would kill to have calf muscles like these women do. The grocery part of our shop was quite an education. I knew Asian's ate different foods than we do, but seeing it is something else. Everything on a stick. There was this sculpted mound of tiny fish (they looked like minnows to me but I've been told they are anchovie) looking for all the world like an ivory carving I saw at the art gallery. Think of a coconut haystack without the solid center and you get an idea. I'm afraid at first I thought it was art, until I saw the tiny fish eyes and some gluey stuff holding them together. Lot's of fish type stuff. Sushi and Shashimi packages everywhere. With Chusak coming next week they have lot's of gift boxes for sale. Chusak is the Korean version of Thanksgiving. They give thanks and blessings to their ancestors hoping they will give them good luck in the next year. Everything shuts down for a couple of days, just like our thanksgiving. Oh, the stores mark up must be insane as their overhead has to be also. Everywhere you turned you ran into a store employee eager to help you make your selection. I know the gift aisle must have had 8 workers just to cover alcohol and oddly enough health care gift packs of shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and so on. All neatly wrapped and prettied up. Even the parking lot had a man to greet you and point you to the spot he wants you to park in.

I love the bowing thing. After living in Germany I picked up enough of the language that some of it stuck in my head and will occasionally blurt out at odd moments. I stil order ein cola light bitte. Or worse...staubsauger...which is a vaccume cleaner. I will likely come home bowing repeatedly to everyone I talk too. I am not sure of the protocol though as to who bows last and have gotten caught in a loop where we just stand and bow at each other. I can say toilet and thank you in Korean although not very well. But I seem to be understood and the people love trying to teach my English tongue how to sound out the words. I'd say syllables but they don't seem to have any. Everything is said in the same tone of voice and the words sort of run together. I am awful at languages although i am tryiing.

Traffic lanes are not as wide as we are used too. Sitting at a stop light you can roll down your window and shake hands with the person in the car next to you. I don't know how we avoid hitting cars with out outside mirrors. If there are rules of traffic I haven't even begun to figure them out. My personal take on it is who has the biggest car and more nerve than the others. I do not plan on doing much driving here; Karen is nonplussed and just tackles it like it is an every day thing. She has also driven in Rome! I wouldn't drive in Rome for a million bucks. I'm too fond of breathing.

Winslow, the hound from hell was supposed to meet his maker today, which Gwyndolyn does not know about. Because the last time he bit me he drew blood he now has to stay in quarentine for 10 days. The adults are sad about having to put him down as he is still a very young dog, but even the vet said he was unadoptable. She tried to evaluate him and he got psycho on her too. It's a tough thing to do and I am grateful that he sank his teeth into me and not Gwyndolyn or one of her little friends. They assure me they had already made the appointment before I arrived, but I do feel guilty since the 10 day thing is because he bit me. Had I said no to the blood they would have done it today. Bummer. Ralph will appreciate this since he had to shoot their big loveable giant of a dog who was food aggressive and attacked someone. We were in the same boat with Winslow.

Gwyndolyn was coloring a picture of MyJohn and asked me if he would like the girl to have a red dress or a blue one. I told her to pick what color she wanted since John can't see anyway. She was shocked by it and demanded an explanation of what blind means. I had her close her eyes and told her that is what John see's all the time. G- yes but when he wakes up in the morning he can see then, right? E-no not even then. He can't see at any time. G- he could see when he was here before. E- no he couldn't, remember his cane that you played fishing pole with,that is how he finds the way to walk around. He makes sure nothing is in his path. After thinking several minutes G- will you look at my eyes and see if I am blind? E- you are not blind. G- but I want a stick like he has. Maybe I'll be blind when I get older. E- finish your drawing and eat your lunch. I'm tired.

She talks constantly to me. She tends to mimic disney movies a lot and acts out the scenes over and over. Still not good at listening or answering direct questions. She doesn't focus well at all. Iasked her what focus means and she explained it well, she just doesn't do it well. She is doing well in school and seems to be well liked. This morning I took her to the bus stop. There was a new girl clinging to her Mother. Gwyndolyn went over to her, introduced herself and asked her 'is this your first time on the bus'? The girl immediately let go of Mom and they had quite a conversation with our little girl giving the new kid a complete guided tour of the bus and rules. She amazes me with her gentle heart and kindness. The Mom was surprised and a little weepy as her daughter got on the bus without saying goodbye or waving to her.Guess it's her last one to grow up. Fun stuff.

Okay, my other family is home and I need to visit with them about stuff.

I am loving Korea so far. Except the mosquito's and garden spiders of which there are thousands. every bush, tree, corner of building, anything has spider webs with garden spiders in them. The bane of my childhood, I grew up terrified of them. Well spiders and the crawling eye!
Oh, Dr. Shin is coming over for coffee.
Bye for now my friends.


Monday, September 19, 2011

first impressions

My early impressions of Korea, and Taegu are of a time warp where most of
the country is in the 50's. The fancy Korean Air service is great if you are in
prestige class. The darn seats have about 20 positions you can get in,
including laying flat so you can sleep. That would have been wonderful!
Economy is pretty much the same as everywhere. I did think the distance
between your seat and the one in front of you was smaller than usual. Plus
there was some strange box under all seats that prevented you from putting
your carry on bags under the seat unless they were very small.
The overhead bins were small too and would handle one or two items
then be filled up. The flight attendants are so cute. They look like a cross
between 1950 styles or the Jetsons. Each done up immaculately with
the cutest little bow thing in their hair. They are very small people so
when they passed out snacks it was a cracker with about 1/3 cup water
or orange juice. No soda pop for most of the journey. You get a sip of
water about every 5 hours. I'm guessing they don't want people to get
up and use the potty's? It worked, but everyone was dehydrated. I got
stuck with an inside seat which was a bummer because I can't sleep on
a plane. At one point my whole row had leaned forward on toward their
knees to sleep. they looked like they were bowing. Oh yes, the bowing
thing is cool! When they did the usual safety thing, they would bow first.
If you thanked them for the sip of water,they would bow then too.
Everyone does it here. So polite.

Gwyndolyn is delightful. She was so happy to see me last night.
She hugged my arm, played with my hair, talked non stop and told
me she loved me about a hundred times. She has started out calling
me Mommy which is a no no with me. She has a wonderful Mommy
and I'm not her. I remind her that and she smiles and says "but I like
you too" and "I didn't say Mommy I said Nonny". Yeah, right. She has
gotten much taller than she was before and has filled out some. Her eyes
remain bright blue and look even bigger now that she wears glasses
full time. She is far sighted so they are like magnifying glasses for
close up. oh, at the airport when I was clearning immigration you have
to fill out these forms. I stopped off at a kiosk to get mine done and they
have several pairs of glasses on chains for you to wear if you are
having trouble seeing! I thought that was neat.

Taegu at night was a big surprise. I did not realize how huge the city is.
Bright Bright lights everywhere. It reminded me of a spread out Times
Square! Lots of colorful lights that we don't use as much. Purples, reds
and blues. The store's are smaller too and quite plentiful. It will be
interesting to see what it looks like in the day time. Everything looked
clean and neat at night. Karen was driving with Gary as co-pilot and I'm
sure I will never borrow the car here as the roads are crazy! Gary is a
tough co-pilot, often barking confilicting orders in one sentence. We
always seemed to be in the wrong lane and getting moved over is hard
cause there was a lot of traffic. A good deal of the signs are in English
and Korean. The Korean letters are neat, like art work. Chinese is too,
but theirs is sharp ends and corners where everything Korean is softer
and rounder. There is a mountain directly behind us that looks very steep.
On top of it is an arch that is all lit up at night. Not with lights pointed at it,
but it is lights and VERY bright.

This house is all on one level. My knees are grateful for that. All of the
country I've seen so far is hilly, mountainous areas so I'm sure my knees
are going to be screaming at me most of the time I'm here. :) But oh the
things I will see. I don't think we will eat out as much. The bimbopbio
stuff they were serving on the plane looked kind of radical to me. I'm not
into cooked spinach at all. I am going to try a lot of dishes though. Seems
silly to me not to try them. It's all so different and unique. I wonder how to
say "no fish please"? There are some things I won't try and fish, especially
raw is out of the question.

Lola, my little hound from hell is quite cute. She was delighted to see me
and climbed all over me. She did manage to lick my mouth which is totally
gross so I went to brush my teeth. I used Garys German toothpaste and it
looked like Karen's make up and tasted like it too. I brought my own but
haven't unpacked yet. Took me long enough to find my toothbrush after
getting dog kissed, I wasn't waiting any longer! Winslow is cute enough,
but has a lot of character flaws. Aside from pooing and peeing in the
house, he barks at everything, is food aggressive, people aggressive
and a dominant dog. He needs to be taken down a few notches in his
estimation. I used Cesar's technique about claiming the window last
night and he responded very well. I don't let him jump on me, he has
to be invited.I think I have dominated him from the first meeting so he is
okay with me.

Off to nap and read a bit.

The Adventure Begins

When Gwyndolyn was a little girl she watched this kids show about a
little red rocket and a big blue jet. She mimic'd them perfectly. The
adventure ( pause for effect ) begins.
After a terribly long uncomfortable flight I am in Seoul Airport awaiting
the security to open so I can check in for Taegu. I am a giant in a world
of liliputians. I saw a buddhist monk a bit ago and he was tiny! Aside from
being a rather rotund person myself I have always been on the short side.
Not anymore, today I am head and shoulders above 95% of the people
Most of them are running places and shouting at each other. Organized
chaos.. The airlines are well planned. People walk around with signs
telling you what line you are to get in. Now if only I could read Korean.
I did learn how to say "toilet?" in Korean. A necessary first in my humble
opinion. kwa don shae or something like that. try saying qua don shear
quickly and with no emphasis on a syllable and you'll get it. Or you can
do the potty dance. That seems to be universal.

I finally got a pepsi at the airport and a do-nut from dunkin' donuts.
Although it was a poor second cousin. It came wrapped in acellophane
pack, had conveyor belt grease stripes on it and the strangest frosting
I've ever tasted. The pepsi is what I was really after, but didn't want to
card only a pepsi and the monetary system has me gasping. It's not even
close to something I recognize.

Toto, I don't think we are in Kansas anymore.
Love to all,

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Immovable object vs irrestible force

Today I stood still watching MyJohn walk towards me. I was looking at him with love and tenderness in my heart. Here is the man who makes my whole face smile. I was planning on giving him a big hug and kiss when he stopped. Unfortunately, I forgot he was blind and I didn't move out of the way or say something to him. Once he crashed into me I forgot all about those good loving feelings while he snarled around about how I should have learned by now that he can't SEE me and that I have to SEE him and make adjustments. Sigh. Warm fuzzies all gone and I'm left with a bitter after taste. He is just a grouchy old guy after all.

I keep telling him it's a compliment. I don't think of him as blind. I think of him as my guy that happens to be blind. So if I forget to tell you where I'm standing in a room it's because I don't see blind everytime I look at you.

Caught him out bad at the pool the other day. A friend of ours who comes to the pool occasionally sat in a chair under an umbrella. I told John he was there and offered to take him over to visit. I set up a chair, and was getting him to it but once there the ambient noise got in the way and he got grumpy cause I didn't "show" him the chair or his towel. (which I did do but the noise was too great). He didn't realize I was still right in front of him as he turns to our friend and says "I love her to death but after 8 years you'd think she'd know how to...... and so on. I spoke from about 5 inches from his face before he could dig himself in any deeper. He hugged me and apologized, which was funny. Then before I could get out of ear shot he again turns to the friend and says "sometimes you gotta know when you've pushed it too close to the edge". The friend laughed and asked him how he liked sleeping on the couch in his own condo! what a guy.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Florida is scary #14-A

Casey Anthony will be released on July 13, 2011, according to a court spokesperson.

Guess I was wrong, there wasn't 'nuff said.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lyle Lovett

Everytime I need a little smile I watch Kelly Osbourne doing the Viennese waltz for the first time. When I need some warm fuzzies I listen to Lyle Lovett doing "If I had a boat and She's no lady she's my wife". What a talented guy. I love laughing with him.

Florida is Scary #15

People living in a Citrus County neighborhood are on edge, learning that 17 alligators escaped from a nearby alligator farm. The neighbors are now upset that the gators were there in the first place.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Florida is scary #14

Casey Anthony. Need I say more?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Florida is scary #13

Potty training is one of the most frustrating parenting experiences I've faced, but I still can't muster even a fraction of an ounce of empathy for Robin Greinke, 26, an Illinois woman, who along with her boyfriend beat her 3-year-old son to death because he wet his pants. Once they were finished, and he lay nearby dying, they ate a pizza and watched a movie.

Greinke and Steven Neil, 33, admitted that they took turns beating the boy for more than an hour after he had an accident February 8 while they were visiting Florida. "They were upset with him and they tossed him and spanked him and punched him," a homicide investigator told Central Florida News 13.

After enjoying themselves with the pizza and movie, Greinke finally called 911 around 5 a.m. to say her son, Noah Fake, was wheezing, and she couldn't sleep. She couldn't sleep. No one with even a hint of a conscience possibly could, but apparently she has none.

If it was a rash incident, it wouldn't make it any better, but at least there would be a tiny hint of understanding of how someone can snap. Potty training can be brutal, but this? This is truly one of the most horrific, unconscionable acts against a child by his own mother I've come across. It makes me physically ache to think about what this child endured.

I just can't imagine what cold, callous people these individuals must be, and what an awful life this boy must have led during the years he was alive. With a mother like that, I can't imagine they were anything but awful. I don't want to believe he's better off dead, but he would likely be better off anywhere than in the care of a woman who could not only kill, but sit by and chow down on dinner afterwards. Monster is the only word for someone like that, and no alcohol or drugs or anything else can provide even a hint of an excuse for these actions.

The couple has been charged with aggravated child abuse, child neglect, and first-degree murder. Greinke was denied bail on Saturday and remains in jail and on suicide watch. I hope they watch her closely, because she doesn't deserve such an easy escape from her actions.

While I don't support the death penalty, it's cases like this that make me question that stance. I hope whatever punishment they face is as severe as the law allows and that they never get to enjoy a piece of pizza or view a movie ever again.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Florida is scary #12

The adoptive mother of a Florida girl found dead in a plastic bag in her husband's truck has been charged with first-degree murder, police said Saturday.

Carmen Barahona also faces seven counts of aggravated child abuse and seven counts of child neglect, the Miami-Dade Police Department said in a press release.

Authorities have said Jorge Barahona -- the 10-year-old girl's adoptive father and Carmen's husband -- parked his pest control truck alongside I-95 on February 14. A roadside ranger said he found Barahona beside the truck and his adopted son ill inside the vehicle, which was filled with toxic chemicals. The boy was taken to a hospital to be treated for severe burns.

The body of his adopted daughter, Nubia -- who is the boy's twin sister -- was later discovered in the back of the truck in a plastic bag.

Four days later, Jorge Barahona pleaded not guilty on charges of attempted first-degree murder with a weapon and aggravated child abuse with a weapon in the case.

At least two people tried to warn authorities about alleged abuse of the twins.

In one instance, a caller told Florida authorities that he knew Jorge and Carmen Barahona, and he was worried about the couple's twins. The contents of that phone call, which was made two days before the twins were found, was released this week by the Florida Department of Children and Families.

The caller said he was worried that something sinister had happened to the 10-year-old girl because Jorge and Carmen Barahona could not explain where the girl was.

"(Jorge Barahona) doesn't come out with a straight answer which is worrying me so much that something might have happened to that little girl," said the caller, who was not named.

Four days before the twins were found, a therapist told authorities that the children are "taped up ... and put in a bathtub," according to another abuse hotline call also released this week.

"They are in there, all day and all night," said the therapist, who was not named.

An independent panel has been asked to investigate the actions of Florida's child protection system in the case.

The Miami-Dade Police Department said Saturday that "this continues to be active investigation," adding that a press briefing is scheduled for Monday.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Florida is scary #11

I thought I was done with this but once again things happen to freak me out.

Police in south Florida are trying to identify the bodies of two children found stuffed into luggage and floating in a south Florida canal Wednesday.

"We're devastated, and someone is missing these children," Sgt. Nicole Guerriero, a Delray Beach police spokeswoman, told reporters Wednesday evening. "Someone knows these children, and we need to know who these kids are."

The remains of two African-American children -- a girl between 6 and 10 years old, and a boy believed to be 10 to 12 -- were found about six hours and a half-mile apart in the canal that separates Delray Beach from Boca Raton. The girl's body was found first, after a passerby alerted police to a duffel bag floating about midway across the canal; the boy's body turned up in a suitcase closer in as investigators combed the banks for evidence, Guerriero said.

Police are working on the assumption that the deaths are related, and are asking the public to get involved.

"If anyone has not seen their grandchild, their niece, their nephew, please give us a call," Guerriero said.

The bodies showed no obvious signs of trauma, Guerriero told HLN's "Nancy Grace." The bodies had been in the water long enough to have been affected by the immersion but were still intact, she said.

An autopsy is planned, and investigators will return to the canal for a more extensive search on Thursday, she said. Meanwhile, she said investigators are checking missing persons reports in an attempt to identify who the two children might be.