Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sigh... some days it doesn't pay to get out of bed.. or go to bed??

My 1973 VW Karmann Ghia has been sick... sputtering, dying at traffic lights, and backfiring. So, either my car needed some sort of mechanical adjustment or I needed to contact the National Enquirer to report the first recorded case of a car getting bronchitis.

So, the plan was to get up super early, 5:00am and drive to work in the 'less traffic-y' time of *o'dark 30.. or 5:45am I usually get up at 5:50 and depart for work at 6:50am. The less cars in traffic = the less 'danger' to me and my car, if my car did decide to die or sputter on the way to work.

So, despite not getting enough sleep for the past 3 nights, I set my battery operated timer for 5:00am, instead of changing the electrical alarm clock for the earlier wake-up time. I went to bed about 11:30pm.

Well, as you can imagine, when the alarm jarred me awake, it was just way too early for my body. I managed to crawl out of bed, wash my face, and before hitting the shower, I went into the living room to check my email messages. To stay on schedule, I set my kitchen timer for 8 minutes of computer time. I couldn't believe how sleepy I was and as I wandered towards the kitchen, I decided to get some cold water to drink.

I went back into the bedroom to get my morning meds to take with my water and I noticed that my actual alarm clock was doing the 'repeating flashing numbers' announcement to let me know that the time had gone off during the night. I was really glad that I had decided to use my battery timer instead of relying on my alarm clock.

With the timer set, I went back into the living room and looked out my apartment window onto the building closest to my apartment building and saw that only 3 people were up early like I was.

After using the computer for a few minutes and just as the timer rang, I decided to go into the control panel on my computer to change the time back to "SEOUL, KOREA" time instead of the central standard time zone that was currently on my computer- that I'd changed it to when I did the 'knitting bag' contest last week on my blog.

Imagine my surprise when the computer clock told me that it was 1:08 AM!

YES, I had set my alarm clock wrong. So, I re-set it for 4 hours later on my kitchen timer so that it would now ring at 5:08am. And, I groggily and gratefully crawled back into bed.

As you can imagine, the buzzer sounded in what seemed like minutes.. I pressed the STOP BUTTON to stop the 'buzzing' of the timer
and once again, I crawled out of bed.
Went to the bathroom to wash my face, and gathered up my clothes. I was so tired and I was really regretting staying up until almost 1am for the past 3 nights.

I decided that since, I don't drink coffee-- but, since I was so exhausted and groggy, I clearly needed some caffeine- I decided that I needed to do something to help me stay awake and went into the kitchen to pour myself a Dr. Pepper on ice. It was either that or set the alarm for another 50 minutes and forget the plan of getting up at 5am to get the car on base before the traffic got heavy.

Since, I was still so tired and one tends to move a little slower when you get up much earlier than usual, I decided to set my timer so that I'd depart my apartment on time and I noticed that the timer STILL HAD 2 hours and 8 minutes left on the timer!!! . and that the BUZZER had NOT buzzed yet. I still had 2 more hours to sleep! Yes, I had 'DREAMED' that the buzzer had rang alerting me to get up and it was actually only 3am. Sigh..

I did the only thing that I could do.. I went back to bed.. for a nap until it was finally time to really, really wake up in less than 2 hours.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ya gotta be tough to shop in Seoul..

As you enter the subway, you find signs illustrating the dangers of NOT LETTING THE DEPARTING SUBWAY PASSENGERS leave the subway car BEFORE you try to enter the SUBWAY.

(THIS is a big, big, big, big problem. It amazes me.. doors open and people push on before those departing can get off. They even have little feet placed on the floor of the platform, to the sides of the door openings of the subway cars, with Korean words explaining to wait for departing passengers.) They have had a subway system for about 25 years or more.

You have to keep your bearings in the subway, despite unexpected construction areas that have removed all direction signs and exit numbers.

And, my favorite, there are 'LIVE' commericals.. people selling things on the subway. It so reminds me of those late, late night tv commericals in the states.. You know the ones.. "IT SLICES, IT DICES.."
I try to resist, but I almost always buy whatever they are selling.

Be prepared to get stepped on at some point... *but, notice the black shoes, socks, and coat! Just doing my part to 'blend in.'

Your wardrobe should have a lot of 'black' clothing to blend in.. of course, I know that I don't really BLEND in all that well. The green eyes and light brown hair keep me from 'blending in' very well.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Jongjae Flower Market Part 2

Yesterday, I mentioned that there was a building with cut flowers. You buy them in groups of 10 flowers- not a dozen as in the states. Why? They use the metric system. Don't get jealous.. but.. 10 roses are only 3,000 won.. = or about $3.50 USA. :D

Most flowers are 2,000- 5,000 won per 10 flowers. I didn't buy any cut flowers- because, I was going to buy other things and wouldn't have room in my 'big shopping bag' to manage flowers and the bag too (I still can't manage carrying heavy things in the left hand)... but, I always go and look at them even if I don't buy them.

Each of the blue signs w/ numbers hanging from the ceilings is a different vendor.

A few of the vendors also make flower arrangements. However, there is actually another building that is just full of different vendors that make flower arrangements- kind of like having a mall full of flower shops! :D

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Jongjae Flower Market or.. what I did during my Thanksgiving break..

There is a great flower market across the Han River. Only a subway ride w/ 1 or 2 transfers and then a taxi ride to the market.. but, oh so worth the trip. *I always take a taxi home-- since, I don't want to knock off all the flowers trying to get the flowers and other purchases safely home.

There are buildings w/ live plants, cut flowers, a flower arranging building (so neat to watch them), silk flowers, flower pots, and ribbons and awesome wrapping papers/etc.

I love, love the orchids.. and I didn't buy any this time.. but, I'll go back soon to get some..
*Each of the signs that you see in front of the flower stalls is a different flower vendor. Enjoy my favorite flowers from the market.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

If there was an Academy Award for the neatest 'trash day' at an apartment building.. my apt building would SO WIN

Trash is picked up 2 days a week and you do NOT PUT trash out until the night prior to 'trash pick up' or the day of trash pick up (as long as it's before 11am). *The bins aren't even there for you to put your trash out early- if you were so inclined.
(Well, the blue 'left-over or bad food' trash bins are always out for use.)

You have to 'recycle' and divide your trash up in the appropriate bins. AND, the security guards spend a lot of time 'stacking things' neatly if things aren't as neat as they think that they should be. I really think that there must be some sort of an award, don't you? Maybe it's a contest between the 10 buildings in my apartment complex to see who can have the neatest trash area?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Today was a creative day..


I found some great fabric at the fabric market to sew some aprons for Christmas gifts.

This is the set of them that I made. The last one on the far right is mine. I made it out of the new 'Air Force' cami uniform fabric. It's for use in my art room- I figured that any messy art paints/etc. that I might get on my apron (instead of my clothing) would be hidden in the fabric design.

And look at what else I made! Some 'travel tissue' holders..
The outside is 'monkey sock' fabric.. and the inside is the fabric laying under the tissue holder. It's a Dick, Jane, Sally, Tim, Spot, and Puff fabric. Aren't these fabrics adorable? I made them so they are reversible.

Not being fan of orange, I wanted a different colored background for the 'sock monkey' fabric- but, it only came in the one color. But, hey.. at least it will be easy to be found in one's pocket, purse, or backpack, right? I'll add these in my Christmas gift packages.

I used to sew a lot .. but, haven't in a long time. I really enjoyed my day of sewing. Maybe, I should do it more often?

Friday, November 23, 2007

And the winner is...

CAREY.. who won the 'knitting bag' and will receive it in the mail soon.. Carey..please contact me w/ your mailing address.

Her name was selected in a 'simple' write the names down, fold the papers, and put them in a bowl (or flower pot in my case) and shut the eyes, stir the folded paper names well.. and pull one paper out..

Don't forget to read or re-read "Carey's post" in the Thanksgiving story.. found in an earlier blog entry.

Thank you everyone who took the time to post your experiences. They were so heartwarming and makes the world seem so much nicer when you read them.

You can continue posting your experiences.. but, unfortunately the contest (to win the bag to carry small knitting projects) is over.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

As you prepare your Thanksgiving goodies, something to ponder..

A bonus onion? Or a mutation?

**DON'T forget to add your comment to the 'Thanksgiving post' down below!...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Visit Egypt w/out leaving your home...

Here are some photos of the Egyptian art project that my 6th, 7th, and 8th grade art students recently completed.
*click on the photos for a larger view..

AND, don't forget to read and enter the Thanksgiving contest!! *Info in the post below.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

In the spirit of Thanksgiving...

***You may continue to add your comments-- but, the 'contest' portion is now closed.

You have a chance to win (yes, for free) this knitting carry along bag. HOW? WHY?

It has a drawstring- which also has a buttonhole opening on the opposite side- that you can pull the cord through on that side also- to loop around your wrist.
*CLICK on the photos for larger views...

An inside view. Two pockets out of the tapestry fabric and a narrow pocket- good for double pointed needles/etc. *There is also a loop that you can use to thread your yarn through while knitting- if you wish.

This is the bag 'turned inside out' to show you the pockets/etc. I used a windbreaker fabric on the inside. Your yarn and pattern will stay dry in case of a sudden rain downpour.
SIZE: Height- 11 1/2 inches, Diameter of opening 7 inches. width flat 9 1/2 inches.

Details: Comment to this blog entry by MIDNIGHT Central Standard time on Thanksgiving Day, 2007telling about a time that you were able to help a stranger or a stranger helped you in a time of need. These stories can be 'big or small helps'.. but, they filled a genuine need.

Thus, we'll have a blog full of comments about the spirit of Thanksgiving.. in honor of the intertwined human spirit that ties us all together.

You must either leave your email address or email me your email and/or mailing address w/ your name so I can contact you 'if you are the winner.' My email address is:



AND how on earth will the winners be selected? I'll take the names of all comments telling how 'they helped a stranger or a stranger helped them'.. put them in a bowl, hat or other container.. stir the names all up, shut my eyes and draw a name out! I'll post the winner the next day on the blog!


I have always helped friends and strangers and I truly do believe that your unselfish acts of kindness do get returned at some time in the future when you need it. Call it Karma, justice, tit for tat, reaping what you sow, or whatever.. I do believe that things will eventually 'even out' for you when you need it.

Last night about 8:30pm, when I was driving home, I was waiting at the red light to turn left across six lanes of traffic to get on the main street that will lead to my apartment.... just as the green arrow finally shows on the red light.. my car dies and wouldn't start again. There I was in Seoul, Korea in the middle of a busy intersection and cars in all directions. I put my stick shift car in neutral, turned the flashers on, hopped out, put my right hand on the steering wheel, and with the door open- I pushed my car across this intersection and continued to push the car along the street on the far right lane of the six lane street.

I had pushed my car, for about two blocks and had about 6-7 more blocks to go to my apartment. Out of nowhere, I suddenly saw an American serviceman walking along my side of the street who said, "Do you need some help?" Of course, I told him that I did need some help! He walked to the back of my car and started pushing. After four blocks we had to make a right turn to the final stretch to my apartment, and we were soon shoving, pushing, and grunting to get my car over the speed bumps.

We were soon in front of a restaurant very close to my apartment complex and one of the Korean 'valet parking attendants' came to our aid and helped us push the car the final block and half to my apartment. We had to push through the security entrance and then coast the car down to the underground parking garage.

Since it was Saturday night, the parking garage was full and we had to make a right and a left turn pushing my car down two different streets before we finally found an empty parking slot for my car.

We rode the elevator to the ground level and my 'stranger' and I finally introduced ourselves to each other. His name was Jacob, he and his wife and toddler son had just moved into their apartment. Jacob's apartment was in my general area- but, nowhere in the area where I lived. I forgot to ask him why he was walking down that particular street.. at that particular time. I just know that it wasn't near where he lived, there aren't any businesses open on that side of the street, and it wasn't the way that he'd be walking home to his apartment.

All I know is that 'Jacob' was exactly where I needed him to be and at exactly the time that I needed him to be there. And, for that I am indeed THANKFUL.

So, share your stories.. how you've been blessed and how you've been a blessing to others. Tell me about the strangers that have been there at just the right time or maybe you were the help that someone needed.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

A little of this and a little of that...

First of all, here is my favorite local tree. Now, I will admit that I have never actually hugged the tree or shown my affection towards it in any manner- however, it is the first and last tree that I see when I arrive on and depart the military base every day. I will admit to always glancing it's way to check it out while I'm waiting in traffic. It seems so peaceful to me- almost like a sentry tree guarding and welcoming at the same time.

I think it has a nice open gesture of welcome and the branches are artistically arranged.
I live right past the group of highrise apartment buildings that you can see in the photo.

Some pretty leaves...

I've always thought that nature gives us the glorious display of vividly painted leaves as a parting gift before the drab, cold winter arrives. Almost like an apology and a colorful memory to warm us during the bitter cold dark winter days.

AND.. one of the little mysteries of living in Korea.. I often come home to find 'notices' posted in the elevators.
*click on the photo for a larger image.

Usually there is a 'date' of start and finish on them- so, at least I know when the 'situation or event' is supposed to happen. However, the only problem is: THEY ARE ALWAYS WRITTEN in KOREAN! I'm not the only American living in the building and it's too bad that they can't translate the messages 'if it's important.' My apartment building is a complex of 10 buildings over a 3 block area and each building has at least 19 floors and 3-4 apartments on each floor.

But, I've always hoped that if it's something really BIG that maybe I'll NOTICE whatever it is that is going on.

I've never seen this one- it has drawings on it it. It has something to do with a phone and I think something to do w/ food??

Thursday, November 15, 2007

As winter approaches and it gets darker and darker every morning..

I know you might be tempted to stay in your toasty warm bed in the early morning darkness.

But, please... Don't dress in the DARK: You have been WARNED

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Now that it's fall, some knitted slippers..

Aren't they cuter than a speckled pup? IF you're not from the south, you might have a guizzled look, an arched brow, and going 'huh' right about now. :D


Who are they for, you might wonder? Well, they are for:
Isn't she a sweetie? She's my 70+ year old 'house girl'.. or maybe I should say my 'house-grandma?'

I met Ms. Shin almost two years ago, after I had already been on crutches for over a month and it was clear that my foot/ankle injury wasn't going to be well anytime soon. I asked someone at work if they knew of a 'house girl' that could come in to help clean my apartment. I couldn't sweep, vacuum, or do much of anything else. I was in a lot of pain- since, I had multiple injuries and it wasn't just a broken leg or foot.

And, soon after Ms. Shin showed up to 'meet me.' I think it was to decide if I met her approval or not. I must have- because even after I finally got well about 5 months later- I just didn't have the heart to tell her that I could take care of the cleaning on my own now. So, Ms. Shin comes to my apartment two times a month.

She often takes me out to eat, brings me food, and cares a great deal about me. She came to see me last spring when I was in the hospital for pneumonia. She is an absolute delight to know. I make her brownies, give her cookies for her grandchildren, and bestow other simple little tokens of my appreciation to her.

I have previously knitted her a scarf, a matching warm wool scarf, and just recently my 'thumb injury' was well enough to finish the last two inches of the knitted slippers. She's going through a rough patch right now and I think some warm slippers will be just the thing to lift her spirits.

Now for the pattern: *You can make it fit almost anyone with some tweaks.

Easy to make SLIPPERS..
THIS IS AN OLD slipper pattern from the 60/70's that I found somewhere. There are many versions and here is mine.

You can use acrylic yarn (for easy care) or a mixture of acrylic w/ a strand of warm mohair.. or even some left-over wool that you have. It won't take an entire skein of yarn. If making it for someone else- you need to get a length measurement, a shoe size, or be sneaky and measure around their shoe like I did. Or you could even stand beside them, look down and see how long their foot is compared to your foot. :D

Gauge? Doesn't really matter- not too much anyway. **IF you use thicker yarn than your basic acrylic cheap-0 yarn, cast on less stitches. WIDTH of the slipper (your arch area) for adult females is 8".. length? Depends on the person.. but, make them 1-2 inches shorter than foot measurement.

Cast on: 29 stitches (29 stitches =8 inches in gauge- but, it's ok if it's a little more or a little less) *leave a tail of about 8" of yarn to sew up heel later. *YOU just need to cast on an 'odd' number.
YOU can SLIP THE FIRST STITCH of each row- if you want, for a neater edge.
ROW 1: SLIP first stitch, knit to end
ROW 2: SLIP first stitch, knit to end
CONTINUE until this part is 5-6 inches long.. or about 1/2 inch before the bump on the big toe.

P1, K1, repeat to end *knit/purl stitches as they face you- (knit the knit stitches, purl the purl stitches)

Keep repeating until it's about an inch shorter than the foot or the toe part is 2 1/2-3 inches long.

(This is for an adult female size- I wear a size 8 med, and my slipper is 9" long. The garter stitch area is 6" long and toe part is 3" long. My foot is 10" long.)
I could have worn them if they'd been shorter too.

Knit 2 stitches together, repeat to end. You can do another row of this if you want to. Leave a 8-10 inch tail. Weave through the stitches left on your needle and pull tight. Sew up the toe- from this end to about an inch into the garter stitch area.

SEW UP THE heel area.

Crochet a trim of fuzzy yarn or a contrast color, add a pom-pom, or a crocheted flower, or some other form of decoration. Or leave plain. If you have wooden floors or are giving the slippers to someone elderly- you might want to put a non-skid substance on the bottom of the slipper. They can be slippery on wooden floors.

Ms. Shin's slippers are only 7" long.

The cranberry ones are 4 years old and have been washed/dried many times. They are made w/ cheap-o grey acrylic with some cheap-o fuzzy mohair yarn held together.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fall comes to the city... (finally)

I was beginning to think that our fall would consist of 'dead brown leaves falling to the ground' and it's nice to know that most of the trees in my neighborhood have suddenly turned 'fallish' in the past week. Enjoy...
The gingkok trees are on the 6 lane main street 1/2 block from my apartment. The other trees are on the grounds of my apartment complex.

The trees outside my apartment building. There are some red maple and elm trees.

This view is looking out the foyer window on about the 5th floor.

And as clear of a sunset as you'll see in Seoul.

I love the yellow gingkok trees- soon, we'll have a shower of yellow leaves falling to the ground.