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.. I....am....alright...it'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,