Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Witty Wednesday...

Today was the last day of art for today's 6th grade art class- they change specials every quarter. So, I let them do a fun 'group project' today. They created scenes from the claymatics video: A GRAND DAY OUT... (We didn't have a variety of clay colors- so, use your imagination) I think that they did a great job!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

TERRIFIC Tuesday! Or 'SCORE.. on the parking places!

Sweet.. I was able to snag my favorite parking places in my enormous 2 level underground parking garage.. for two days in a row!!!

This was yesterday's location and my #1 favorite place:

Yes, I'm aware that it's not TECHNICALLY a 'real' parking place- but, it is used everyday by someone in our parking garage. It is mucho desired- because, it is one car away from the elevator and do you SEE HOW HUGE this area is? NO other cars can ding your car doors!

AND.. then today when I got home.. I was able to park here.. my #2 favorite spot!

I like this place-- because:
1. It is close to the parking garage 'security booth man' and I like to think
that when I park there-- he'll watch my car for me. (I know, I'm a little Pollyanna-ish and I do think that others care about others too.) Because, if I worked in that little booth- I'd think it was my job to 'watch out for' car door dings, theft and stuff like that. :D

2. It is only 4 spaces from the elevator.

3. LOOK at that space! Do you notice the 'plastic red thing?' That means:
DO NOT PARK HERE.. so, the space next to my car.. is going to stay empty
and that means I can actually park on the line.. ok, maybe over it a
little. AND that means? NO ONE IS GOING TO DING MY CAR!

AM I overly concerned with 'car dinging?' No, I don't think so-- it's just because the parking spaces here (Korea) ARE MUCH MUCH more narrow than what you'd find in the states.

Here is an example: (this is straight across the aisle from where my car is currently parked in *Photo #2. I'm not sure if you can tell or not- but, these cars are about 6 inches from the side posts and less than 2 feet from each other. It's hard to get out of your car without 'dinging' another car's door.

How many favorite places do I have? Well, there is another one.. it's my 3rd favorite place. It's not often that I get to park in either one of them though- so, it is just one of those 'little things' that makes the planets align just a little more even in my little world.

DOLI restaurant update:

It is October 30, 5:22pm and it's not open and the 'comming soon' (which I'm surprised that no one noticed the mistake yesterday!) sign is still up on the windows.

Now, let me tell you.. if I come home tomorrow and get one of my favorite 3 parking places and find out the the new Indian restaurant is also open for business.. well, let's just say.. I might have a hard time getting to sleep with the excitement and all.

SO, tell me.. what are the 'little things' that make you happy? What is your 'getting to park in one of your top 3 favorite' underground parking garage spaces-- equivalent?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Boy oh boy...looks.. like I'll be having some NAAN in my future!

About a half a block away from my apartment.

If they have some: Naan, Samosas, and lentil soup.. I'll be doing the happy dance.

This used to be a THAI place and it closed about 3 months ago. They've been remolding for a couple of months and the name of the new place was installed a few days ago. Let's just say that I've been looking up, checking to see if an OPEN sign has been put up, everytime that I walk or drive by this corner.

It's actually the corner that I turn off the main 6 lane street onto my side street that takes me to my apartment. It is also the street that I walk on to go to PT for my hand injury.

AND.. the Korean message where the big number '10' ??? A friend asked someone and they said that it says that they will open by the end of OCTOBER and people.. I'm gonna say it.. "IT IS THE EVENING OF OCT 29 right now as I type this!" SO, it could be tomorrow? Or maybe the 31st on Wednesday?

Boy oh boy... I'm ready to be the first customer. I had that honor of being the first customer about 20 years ago in my home-town in Oklahoma.

Ok, check often for a restaurant review of the Doli Curry and Tandoori Restaurant.

**DO you see the name: Knowing? This is the street where I turn to go to my apartment. When I first moved here.. I would look for the GOLD AND WISE BANK and that would remind me that I was WISE to turn at the next street because, if I do so, I will KNOW (Knowing store) where my apartment is.

Hey, when you live in a 'highrise' city w/out street signs on the streets.. you do what you can to find your way home! :D

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ma'MAM, could I interest you in SOME... uh, some, uh some... MUSHROOMS?

The 13 year old in me can only giggle and go.. EEOOOOEEWWW at the same time.

(and in case you were wondering.. they were VERY, VERY life-sized..) heee heee

But, how could you buy this 'mushroom' and cut it up for spaghetti? Or put it in a salad?

Ok, maybe you'd like a different type?

Something in a larger than 'buffet sized' dark stained and freshly varnished 'wooden' plate mushrooms... ??

Does that clash with your kitchen furniture? Maybe, you'd like more of a MAPLE STAIN colored mushroom? It's a mushroom in the 'giant economy size' or the more mushroom than you'll need in a year size?

Or maybe you'd like a hand-sized and 'less giant' version of mushroom?

I know, maybe, you'd like a 'gift pack?' Nothing says: "Happy Birthday", like some mushrooms and ginseng!

Are SAMS and COSTCO your favorite stores? Well, then .. maybe you'd like to buy in the larger quantity package?

Why yes, I have been shopping in the Dongdaemun Market again.. why do you ask? :D

*To give you an idea as to the size.. they are stored in the large clear plastic trash bags. The ones in the plastic bags were a 'dried' type of mushrooms. However, the 'uh, mushrooms' in the first photo were very 'fresh.'

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Brain drain.. is caused by... attending 'all day long' meetings..

So.. enjoy this nature photo of some flowers that I saw recently.

*In case you're wondering- they aren't mine- I don't have a place to grow flowers.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Give me some bread.. brown bread, soft bread, chewy, nutty, cheesy bread...

I had to stay late after school today- to make sub plans for some 'training' that I'll have to attend tomorrow. So, when I finally got home.. I didn't have any left-overs and I just didn't want to prepare anything for dinner.

So what is a gal to do? I know.. I could walk down the street to see what I could find to eat. There are a lot of restaurants in my neighborhood.. expensive though.. (after all.. SEOUL IS THE 3RD most EXPENSIVE city in the WORLD and there is an image to keep up, right?) and eating dinner out takes longer than I wanted to be out eating "BY MYSELF." *I'm still a southern gal at heart.. and for some reason.. it is FINE, APPROPRIATE, OK, not a problem to eat lunch alone.. but, dinner out? After all...PEOPLE do stare.. "YES, THEY DO!" I've seen them! :D

So, I thought.. maybe some street food? So, since I needed to pay my phone bill.. I decided to walk by this place:
Now, don't get all excited for me.. you will NOT find a 'Big Slurp' for sale.. and the only thing that they have in common with the ones in the states is.. The sign is the same and you can buy: drinks, snacks, newspapers, etc. HOWEVER.. I can pay my Korean phone bill at any 7-11 (there is another one 1/2 block further on down on the opposite side of the street) and that is a 'GOOD THING' as someone says .. :D

So, after I paid my phone bill, I walked on down the street and saw this interesting item in a window-- and hold on.. but, it looks FELTED.. free form felted maybe?
I'll have to check this out when they are open sometime and see what might be going on behind the wall of 'unemotional and inexpressive' plastic ladies.

I walked on down the block and stopped at this yummy wonderful bakery. This is what I placed on my tray and took to the counter.. a variety of breads.

OK, I admit I did start eating the circular one on the way home. It is a soft bread w/ walnuts mixed in and a cream cheese center. Do you see the cream cheese? This is one of my favorites from there.

The other long one.. all seed and nutty looking.. is going to go w/ my dinner tonight. The small square one is for dessert or for tomorrow? I figure I might need it after all entire day of 'training?

The first word on the little labels in front of the various items for sale in this bakery are in English- so, you at least know 'mostly' the name of the item.
This one said: Apple and sweet potato pastry.

The long flat one? It said cheese bread. I cut off a little piece and it has 'cheese on the phyilo bread. Nice contrast of sweet flaky bread and cheddar cheese.

And, what is my dinner selection? I'm trying a new item from the commissary. It looks like a healthy version of: Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. *Ok, I admit it, I bought it because the bunny was so cute.

AND.. since, I seem to be on the 'bread theme'.. it's a complete bread meal.. the pasta shells are made out of: GRAINS..

AND, as I was crossing the street 'at the light' and I was actually mid-way in the crosswalk on a green light for the walkers.. this CAR.. decided to do a 'U TURN' in the middle of the intersection where the people are walking! And, one of those people was "ME!" I hadn't even reached the mid-point of the 6 lane road when he started doing a 'U-turn' in the intersection in front of me.

Sorry, the photo is a little blurry.. but, it's hard to take a photo of a car about to hit you as you are crossing the street.

THEY (Korean drivers) do this a lot. IF their light is RED.. but, no one is currently using the crosswalk.. they will drive through the RED LIGHT.. oh, and they'll do it also.. after you've walked to the mid-point of the 6 lane street. Which is apparently when/why this driver decided to do a U TURN across the crosswalk.. keep in mind that even though it looks like this car- just didn't stop far enough behind the 'crosswalk lines'.. acutally, what had happened was that he had been going in the opposite direction when he started the U-Turn in the crosswalk--- WHILE THE LIGHT WAS RED FOR HIM and people were walking across the INTERSECTION!!! *THE 'blurry red lights' are from the bakery that I had been shopping in..

grrrr *I do yell at them and point to them and the traffic light.. trust me.. if I had a 'cane' or something.. I would totally be raising it up in the air shaking it to the heavens at these cars that do 'not honor the crosswalk!' *Just practicing for when I get old and need to shake my cane at some 'young whippersnapper!' :D

So.. excuse me while I go and chew on some.. bread, bread, bread.. and some more bread for dessert!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Purses? Or Knitting.. you decide

Although, I still can't knit because of the 'thumb tendon injury'.. I did some knitting prior to the injury.

This is the purse that I knitted for myself: *NOTE flash washed out the colors.

It is knitted and then felted using hot water and the agitation of the washing machine. I had taken it to the fabric/yarn building in one of the market areas- to buy handles and some fabric that I would sew into a lining. I found some that I liked and then tried to explain.. by a lot of pointing to my purse, the handles, and a finished purse with handles that was on display.. to let them know that I wanted the little piece of leather to attach the handles to the purse.

They either didn't have what I wanted or they didn't understand what I wanted? So, I continued going around looking at other locations that also sold purse handles. I finally found someone that knew what I wanted and he 'gestured' for me to follow him and I did. He took me to the 'sew girl' area.. where there are (FEMALES) operating sewing machines that make custom sew jobs of: pillows, curtains, comforters/etc. I already knew about this area.. and actually have connections with my own 'sew girl' that I use for pillows and curtains. Being an American.. I still think and measure in the decimal system of inches, yards, etc.

However, in Korea, and all other overseas locations that I've lived, they use the metric system. So, I have to draw what I need for the 'sew girl' to make for me.. providing her w/ inches/yards converted to the metric system and I sketch what I want her to do.. and she does it!

I know how to sew and all that stuff.. but, trust me.. the price is right and I don't have to do any muttering under my breath.. it's a 'win-win' for me.

Anyway, back to the 'new purse handles, knitted and felted purse, and myself.. being led' to the sew girl area of the fabric building's basement. So, the man gives the 'sew girl' (lady/woman) my handles, gestured at my purse and says something in Korean to her. She nods and then nods to me and takes my purse from me. Then, she points to the inside of my purse.. and I realized she is asking me if I want her to put the lining in too. Of course, I nod my head yes. Then, she uses her hands to motion the 'opening and closing' of a zipper and I also 'nod' my head that this is a good thing to install also. Then, I pointed to my watch and my purse to see when I needed to come back and she pointed to one hour later.

I usually sew the linings in the purses that I make myself.. but, it takes about 2-3 hours and a lot of muttering.. more than I'd care to admit. So, I was more than willing to experiment on this purse- since, it wasn't going to be a gift.

I went back later and she did such a great job. She put a zipper in the top, an inside zipper, and some pockets on the other side of the lining. AND, the price to do the lining 'stuff' was only about $10.00 and the handles only cost an additional $12.00. The yarn, I had bought a couple of years ago.

So, when I finished this- I took it back to have her put the lining and all the inside features in it for me.

This purse was knitted for a friend's Christmas gift. I almost don't want to give it away-- but, posting it here.. will keep me true to the Christmas spirit of giving to others.

This is a purse that I knitted last year for a gift:

And another purse that was also given away as a gift- now, you can see why I decided to knit a purse for myself? :D

Here's the cute lining that I bought and sewed inside. *This one was done with muttering.

Now, I just have to decide one of my friends would want the green knitted purse- which may well be the only knitted and gifted purse this Christmas....

Monday, October 22, 2007

Take out what?

I was walking down the street the other day and I saw a cute little 'cafe type' of place.. and I noticed that they had a menu board outside. So, I stopped to take a look to see what they offered and it was nice to know that they gave the option of: TAKE OUT

*** CLICK on the photo to see a larger image.

TAKE OUT? But, What can I take out??

Just one of the times.. it would be good to be able to read the 'symbols'... sigh..
And, no one was inside- eating.. so, I don't know what type of food that they offered.

Short post-- because it's MONDAY.. brain is all used up from a day of teaching middle school art and Egyptian group art projects. Or in other words- about 5, or more, different projects going on at the same time.

PS... FYI: For those that don't have a 'blog account'.. you can still leave comments. How you ask? Well, you click on: comments at the bottom of the different posts, (by the little envelope) and then click on anonymous and write away and if you actually know me.. or you want to leave your name.. you could do so in the commment that you type. I like reading comments and it encourages me to write more postings. See, I wrote one today.. even though.. it was ONE OF THOSE DAYS at work!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The view from my apartment

I live in Seoul, South Korea... a city of around 16 million. Yes, it's full of noise, traffic, crazy drivers, motorcycles that pass you on the right and the left, and OK.. let's be truthful- a lot of shoving and pushing from others as they bump into you.

However, in the middle of the city is a huge river that curves and meanders through the city by the name of the Han River. We have many bridges for car, train and subway traffic. I have views of the river from every window.
Views from the guest bedrooms:

More views:

Early morning light.

And the views from my living room balcony:

And the view from my living room windows and my bedroom window:

This spring:

See, even in the middle of the city.. I can look out and see nature. There is a park area along the river front where I live- so, I have a clear view of the river.

When I look out onto the city's skyscrapers I often wonder about all the 'adventures, joys, sorrows, celebrations, and day to day events' that are going on all around me by millions and millions of people- but, you are in your own isolated void at the same time... and you are reduced to being just some windows in some building, looking out onto the city at all the other windows....

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Have a lot of money? Looking for a bank?

Well, just come to my neighborhood.

This is the first bank that you'll see just one block from my apartment. It's bank #1
It's also in the same building as my 'bone/joint' doctor.

Now, continue on this same block and you'll come to bank #2.
Let's say you want a bank that offers a free calendar with new accounts? Well, just on your right is this possibility:

Want to see the landmark that I used so I'd know which STREET I needed to turn right on so I could find my way home, before I suddenly found myself driving across the Han River, in the confusing 'all looking alike' maze of high-rise apartments?
Why what do we have here? On your right, I do believe that it is bank #3

It's the GOLD and WISE bank. Or as I would say to myself: YOU ARE WISE to TURN DOWN THE NEXT STREET TO YOUR APARTMENT.
AND just before you turn down my street you'll see bank #4 (yes, still on your right)
Ok, let's say you want to get in on the ground floor of a brand new bank? Well, look at what we have here.. yes, it's a brand new bank- (on the same right side of the street as the other 3 banks) Maybe they'll have shiny coins to go along with the new shiny glass doors?

Let's say you want a bank that offers a free calendar with new accounts? Well, just on your right is this possibility: Yes, it is bank #5 AND across the street from my apartment.

Did you keep track? Yes, the number is a grand total of 5 banks all within a block from my apartment and on the same side of the street. The opposite side of the street has wall to wall 'high-rise' apartment buildings.

Why are there so many banks? Maybe the landlords and realtors need so many banks to store the money from all the 'expensive rent' that they are collecting?

Have I ever been inside any of them? No.

Oh, just a little tidbit of information. When I was in the hospital last year- there was a bank in the hospital and you had to pay your bill before being dismissed. I had to call my dear friend "VISA" to let them know that many, many thousands of dollars (well, won) was going to be charged on my credit card.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What's behind door #3?

I had hurt my hand and as the days went by, the pain was getting worse and I finally decided that I 'might' need to see a doctor. Well, I think that when you have 'sharp shooting pain' when you turn a piece of paper over.. that THAT is a hint that you need medical care. Hey, I'm nothing if not 'observant!' :D

I vaguely remembered seeing a sign for a 'bone/joint' type of doctor in my neighborhood so.. that was my plan of action.. find a doctor.

One advantage of living here in Korea, is that doctor offices are open on Saturdays usually from 9:30-4:00pm. On Saturday morning, I left my apartment at 9:15 and walked out to the main street and looked up for signs that would lead me to a medical doctor who could treat my injured hand.

I walked out onto the street right across the street from my apartment and I saw:

A 'rehab' medical place. So, I thought.. "Hummm, that might work. After all, I might need a brace for my hand to stablize it." *Click on the photo to make it larger.

I was pretty happy to find something right across the street from where I lived.

I walked up to the 4th floor, no elevator and no handrail on the last 2 two sets of very steep stairs. My next thought was.. "NOW, what kind of 'rehab' do they do?" "Clearly not physical injuries... after all.. how on earth could someone with a foot, knee, leg, or ankle injury manage to get to this medical office?" I decided that there were many types of 'rehab'.. after all those on drugs need to have 'rehab' to help them get over their dependency, right? So, I decided that maybe there was a better place and I walked back down the stairs.

I walked out onto the main 6 lane street and started looking 'up' at the signs advertising the businesses on the upper floors. I found this sign:

And.. I thought.. well, the beginning of a bone/joint doctor would be ORTHO.. and the way that it's spelled could be a simple mistake. I was most hesitant because, I have never, ever, ever, seen that 19 letter long type of doctor listed before. I looked at the sign again.. and since my hand was really hurting- I decided to go inside and find the doctor's office.

I walked inside and ALL OF THE NAMES listing the offices, shops, doctors/etc. in the building were all listed on the 'directory' in Korean. I had no way of knowing where this doctor would even be found in the building.

I stood there and studied the sign and then I walked back outside to see if I could 'match up' any of the Korean Hangul letters on the sign with the directory sign on the inside. I went inside and outside looking at the signs a few times and since I can't read Korean and was having a hard time trying to find the 'one office' out of the many business names written in Korean. I finally gave up and continued walking and said a quick prayer that I needed some help finding the right place to find someone to help me.

I decided to keep walking in the same direction and as soon as I looked up I saw this sign:

It was now 10:10 and I went inside. There was an elevator and stairs. It's looking better already. Stairs with handrails that weren't so steep that you felt like you were hiking up a mountain. Even better.

I went into the doctor's office and pointed to my thumb- and grimaced with pain to erase all doubt as to why I was there. She pointed to the 'sign in sheet'.. and I wrote my name in English among all the others written in Korean. She pointed to the couch for me to sit down. *Another good sign..

In about 15 minutes I was sent to the doctor's office. As soon as I waked in I realized that I hit the mother lode.. because.. HE SPOKE FLUENT ENGLISH and told me that he often goes to the states for training updates. He X-rayed my hand and told me that I had indeed injured the tendon, gave me a brace to isolate my thumb and I was given an appointment a week later.

The best news of all? He has his own Physical T department and a couple of PT staff working there speak English too! I started 3 weekly PT sessions a week the following week.

The moral to this story? Keep looking up, don't give up, good things come to those that wait. AND, even on 'Let's Make a Deal' door #3 usually had the big prize!

And now you know.. what was behind door #3

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dare to be different...

First of all, I have a classic car. A VW 1973 Karmann Ghia. My car has lived in: The Philippines, Seoul, South Korea, and two locations in Italy. I have had the car since 1989 and had wanted a Karmann Ghia since I was about 11 and noticed one parked somewhere and I remember walking up to this 'cool car' to see what the model and make was. I decided right then and there- that some day I'd have one of them.

Of course, at the time, I didn't know that the cars had stopped being produced in 1974. Eventually, I grew up and I found someone who restored VW's and they looked for several months until they found my 'metal shell' of a car in 1989 and I they restored it for me.

I live in this building that is in a complex of 10 other buildings.

There are huge two level underground parking garages under this apartment complex and also under the other apartment buildings in this complex. This is a photo of a small area of one level of my parking garage.
Here's another view in another direction:

Do you notice anything about the cars? No, Look again. Ok, I'll help you out.. all the cars are either: black, grey, or a few daring white paint jobs.

AND here is my car.. what do you notice?

Another area of the parking garage. Do you see any other red cars???

How about here? Just the one red car? My car is the ONLY RED car in the entire parking garage.

Truthfully, as I drive my car to and from work (I don't dare drive anywhere else) I would often get stares, double takes from those walking, and I've even had requests to take photos of my car.. and here all along.. I thought it was because my car was different, a cool classic car..

APPARENTLY, it's because it's a RED CAR! ha ha ha ha

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Street Foods.. Good? Safe to eat?

The other day when I was finished with my physical T appointment for my hand, I saw a street vendor selling this from his cart:

I was quite surprised and immediately bought two. What are these and why was I surprised? And, why did I immediately buy two of them? All good questions- 'grasshopper.'

They are made by inserting a small amount of raw brown sugar into the center of a small ball of dough. They are then flattened and cooked w/out any oils on top of a metal drum/container. The heat source is under the metal container. THEY puff up and are turned quickly and often. In mere minutes they are ready and handed to you in a folded paper sack or even rolled into a cone made out of recycled paper. *I once got a recycled math assignment as my paper carrying cone.

They are hot and for safety reasons.. you smush the air out of them before eating. The heat has caused the sugar to carmelize and the outside dough is now crispy. It's sort of like a 'crispy, healthy dounut.' They are great for winter snacking- because the 'heat' will keep your hands warm for quite some time.

In the past, the only time that I have found them is in one place in the huge Tondaemun Market area. So, I was quite happy to know that I can now find them on my own street. It's been almost a year since I've had one.. and that's why I immediately bought two. Well, I meant to only buy one- but, the vendor handed me two instead of giving me my change. I didn't mind and didn't try to give one back either. :D And, it was almost dinner time.. and what could I do?? But, eat them then.. since, this type of treat has to be eaten before they get cold.

Most of the time, the food street vendors don't start selling their products until early evening. In the fall and winter, you'll find vendors 'roasting' chestnuts. I tried them once.. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about... from all the years of singing and hearing the Christmas song.. 'roasting chestnuts on an open fire.' (or is it: open flame?) Let's just say.. I think that if you grew up eating them.. you'd love them.. myself, not so much.. we had pecans to eat in the south and.. I just didn't like the HOT, MUSHY taste of the hot freshly roasted chestnuts. Ok, the truth is out- I actually spit the first one that I tasted out. My mouth did it- I wasn't in control- since, I know not to spit my food out.

There are so many different foods for sale from the street vendors.. some are yummy.. and some.. just by the looks.. I don't want to taste them. *I know, I know.. they might be good and you don't know until you try, right? Well, the way that I look at that is.. "There are plenty of street foods that look good and I'll try those and that leaves plenty of other varieties that I don't want to sample for those that wish to sample the foods that I pass on." See how generous I'm being?

*I have never gotten sick at any time, in any country, eating food sold on the streets. I usually always buy any fresh fruit that I see sold. *Disclaimer, I'm sure that there are many horror stories of others getting very sick- I guess I've just been fortunate for 18 years?

Now, look at this and decide would you 'try these?' or would you be like me and decide not to try certain things by looks alone?

You can also buy and munch on freshly steamed silk larve. No photos because the smell and sight of them make me sick to my stomach.

I thought I had more photos- but, I tend to forget to take my camera to places that I've been to again and again.

Now, think of me.. the next time you're at the county fair or trying the samples at the grocery store.