Thursday, August 31, 2006


I just got propositioned at the PC Bang. When I came out of a stall of the unisex bathroom a skinny long haired fellow was waiting for me. As I washed my hands, he asked me how old I was, if I had a boyfriend, and how long I've been in Korea. For you ladies new to Korea (and guys too, I suppose) these are standard questions when first meeting. The do you have a boyfriend (girlfriend) goes like "namja (yoja)-chingu isseyo? Or the simpler "honja?" (Are you alone - or do you live alone?)

Skinny man stepped aside to let me exit, but then grabbed my wrist to pull me back in. I shook myself free.

Also, for you women new to the ROK, being asked if you're Russian (which I have been asked three times in the last week) is just about the same as being asked, "Are you a hooker?" It's onomatopoeia - "Loo-sey-ah?" Seriously, no offence to the lovely ladies of Russia,'s just that HERE you lovely Russian ladies are often- well,...-

Later I'll post a couple pictures of unrelated things.
See how I distract you with shiny jangly keys?

**UPDATE: Skinny man wasn't dangerous. Before he left he came and dropped off a nice mocha chocco coffee drink at my station and walked away smiling at me kindly.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hi Sheepy!

Earlier today I got an anonymous comment from some asshole. It read, "Dear Jelly, I don't know you, but I felt like swinging by to criticize your "blog" and try to make you feel shitty."
Whazzup Anonymous!!! Good job! I felt my cheeks flush red as I viewed your snippy little put down. Awesome!

Asshole continued, "Wow! Sappy shit!"
Ahhh! You were referring to my "Smitten" post. Yah. Maybe it was sappy, but you have to view the whole picture. See, Ada and Inman fell in love before he left to fight the war. While he was gone Ada suffered a whole host of trouble, no food, her neighbours murdered, her father dying, and worst of all, perhaps, not hearing once from Inman. She didn't know, when she wrote her letter begging his return, whether he was dead or alive. I'll bet it didn't even take a small chip off your cold back charred heart, but it resonated with me. My friend is neither marching nor fighting, so Ada's letter wasn't meant as a message from me to him, but rather just a note about a movie I once watched that I really liked. John's comment, that the book was better than the movie, is probably right. My friend Herb in Japan said the same thing, but I've never read the book. I know that half way through watching the movie, though, my chest was wet with tears. Yep, I'm sappy. Sapified. I'm a regular Maple Tree.

Funny enough, then Asshole got all confessional. "First and last time I read this "blog." See how I put "blog" in quotes? It makes it seem like your space here doesn't even deserve the term "blog." If I really liked it, I would call it **BLOG!!** But since you suck, you only get "blog." I'm fucking clever, huh?

It got worse. "I like to troll around and drop shitty comments on "blogs" that I deem not up to par. It's not really a refection on you, but more so that I have horribly misfigured genitalia and I've been scarred by the taunts in the gym changing room. The only love I get is from my flock of sheep I roughly govern in the afternoons. Your last post sounded kind of "happy," (note the quotes) and that just pisses me off. Screw "you" and your "blog."
Asshole, I hear your pain. I'm sorry about the gross funk you sport in your underwear and I know life can be cruel. It makes me want to cry, but that's understandable since I'm so sappy. As for the "first and last time" you read my "blog," quit lying. You were here this morning. You left your comment this afternoon. You were here a couple hours afterwards. You were here last week, and the weeks before, and you'll be here again. Unfortunately. If you don't like what I write, I suggest you take your big pile of mangled sex organs and your fluffy wooly lovers, make like a "maple" tree and leave. Better yet, "fuck off!"

Sheepy say,"Grow up!"
For real? Ok! Hey, I'm not the coward here.

Perhaps the worst thing is that this Asshole was right. I didn't listen to my intuition which was to say nothing. I ignored my impulse to send out a few e-mails and watch Inside Man, and instead posted a little thing about something which is really none of anyone's business. But in this "blogging" world (yah, I can use quotation marks too, Sheepy) it's often the nature of the beast. But like Dalton Russell says in the movie, "Respect is the ultimate currency."

Surely there are already millions of posts and comments about trolls. Why someone would get off about leaving an anonymous hateful comment on another person's site is beyond me. I've been lucky so far with my comments. I've not been overly spammed and almost never hated on. It was one of my biggest fears about even starting to write online. But like Kevin did, I've got no problem with making my comments disappear. Charles has some great insight about comments as well - or how the lack of them can be a good thing.

I welcome people here. I encourage comments. If you disagree with something I've said, feel free to tell me. Just don't be a gutless sheep-fucker about it.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Spinach Salad

I mentioned spinach salad in my last post, and thought about it today again. I didn't make it, because I don't have any of the ingredients in my fridge. When I was gone, my friends cleaned out my refrigerator and threw out a lot of stuff, which was fine by me. I actually considered the cucumbers in there which were already a week and a half old when I left for Canada while I was in Canada. It was good to not have to re-discover them upon my return.

Anyhow, while there were 47 people at the cottage over the long weekend the food was outstanding. My aunt and uncle had shopped for the core ingredients of all the meals. My aunt used to work for Maple Leaf, and still has friends there, so got ahold of some fabulous meat. More on that at another time, but basically three barbeques were fired up with usually two cooks manning them. Each family was responsible for one salad- so there was always three or so giant bowls of various salads at any dinner. When it came to be my turn, I made spinach salad which was given cheers on the most part, though I got some jeers because of its garlicklyness. I used probably a whole head of it in a massive bowl of salad. But I love garlic, and have been in Korea so long I could eat a raw head of garlic like an apple by now.

Here's a rough recipe for delicious spinach salad. It's do-able in Korea, so if you're here- try it out!

Get a mass of button mushrooms, the more the merrier, and slice them up- say, a quarter of an inch thick? You know, not wafer thin slices, but not giant hunks either.
In a separate bowl, mix a general 1:3 ratio of red wine vinegar and olive oil with a teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard, some salt and pepper, and a generous amount of finely chopped garlic. If you want, throw in a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. I mean, why the hell not? Pour this over the sliced mushrooms and mix 'em up. Then, let them sit and marinate for awhile. A couple hours or more.
In the meanwhile, fry up a few slices of bacon, preferably the regular smoked kind you get in North America (and can buy frozen at Wal-Mart if you're in Korea.) I've never tried this with the ham-like version of bacon you get here in the meat section. I guess it'd be ok, but really- crisp smokey bacon is the better way.
Just before you're ready to eat, add a whole bunch of spinach to the mushrooms and mix it all up. It was great, in Canada, to buy bags of "triple washed" baby spinach and just open and spill. Here, of course, make sure you wash your leaves well, or you'll end up with a gritty salad.
Toss in the bacon, and if you want you can add an egg. Not RAW, silly! If you're lucky enough to have a microwave- just put the egg in a bowl and nuke it til the white is not quite done and the yolk is runny. I usually poach an egg in water with a splash of vinegar for a minute or so. Cool the egg before you throw it in the salad, or you'll wilt the greens.
Toss, and viola.

I'll sometimes eat a giant bowl of this for dinner with a slice or two of toast. Not sliced white crap, this salad deserves better than that,...maybe a nice sunflower sour dough or multi-grain from Paris Baguette. But if what you have is white,...I'm not going to judge you.

Be warned, of you add as much garlic as I do, you may burp it up all night. Especially if you're at a cottage drinking beer. But then again, if you all shared the salad, you'll all smell the same, so you'll fit in just fine.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

WCB 64

I mentioned to Kamikaze that I am thinking about the next block of time off I have at the beginning of October for Chuseok, (Korean Thanksgiving.) Last year, we were kind of unlucky, as the three day holiday fell on a weekend plus Monday. This year it's on Thursday, Friday, Saturday - BUT there's another national holiday that falls on the Tuesday before, so I may be able to finegal a whole week off. I told Kamikaze I'm considering China or Thailand, or maybe my old fallback -Japan, because I miss my friends there.

Kamikaze didn't take kindly to this idea, as my absence just a couple weeks ago wasn't such a great time for him, as his cat-sitter turned out to be a dud. He was lying on the bed when I mentioned going away again, and I thought he might just stand up and pee all over the place to express his unhappiness, but instead he turned on his super high intensity laser beam eyes,...
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and zapped my left leg off. It disintegrated, and I fell over with a thud.

Luckily, Korean technology is very advanced and I had a bionic leg attached the next day. Now I make this strange "ch-ch-ch-ch-ch" sound when I run,...but I've learned to keep my travel plans to myself lest I suffer Kamikaze's wrath.

For more Weekend Cat Blogging fun, visit guest host Boo, with Fluffy and Ms. C over at Masak Masak!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

In Canada - Food

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Mmmmm. Crystal Light is YUMMY! Oh I wish I could get this stuff in Korea! Oh I wish I had bought more than 3 packages of the stuff while I was in Canada! I only have nine liters of yummy goodness before it's gone. Right now I'm having a little Pink Lemonade Crystal Light over ice with soju. You can't even taste the soju, which I think is good. If you're drinking soju with some nice grilled meat- and especially with that salty bean paste and kimchi, it pairs wonderfully. But on it's own it's too harsh for me. With Crystal Light it's downright deelish!

One great thing about being back in Canada was the food. I thought about bringing kimchi back with me, because I thought it would be strange eating a meal without it, but I didn't want to seem like a big poser- whipping out a container of fermented spicy goodness while everyone around me wrinkled up their noses. As it was, I didn't miss it too much. There were only a couple of meals with grilled meat where I thought it would be nice to have some. Kimchi and rice are passionate lovers - and I didn't eat rice once back home, which is kind of a shame because I was really jonesing for some Bhasmati rice before I left Korea. Oh well. Next time. I did bring back a package of Uncle Ben's Garlic and Butter Rice, which I'll save for a meal that will include spinach salad.

I brought back 4 bags of Indian snacks.
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They're almost all gone, and I'm already plotting on how to get more. I think I'm going to send my brother some cash and ask him to stop by the little Indian grocers near his mother-in-law's place the next time he's there. His birthday present to me will be getting the stuff, packaging it, and going to the post office. That's not too much to ask, I reckon.

Otherwise, I think I ate about a container of cottage cheese per day I was home. I got a little sick of it by the end, so I think I satisfied my craving for the stuff for now. I ate smoked salmon cream cheese too, which is fabulous on thin toasted slices of Italian bread with alfalfa sprouts. And peameal (Canadian) bacon, which Laser Larry grilled to the consistency of shoe leather for one breakfast, but my uncle did it up perfectly days later. And other stuff, which I'll mention in posts coming soon.

Meanwhile, *sip, sip* Crystal Light on the rocks, rocks.

Friday, August 25, 2006

In Canada (Pt. 2)

Last time I updated my Canada story, I was at the cottage with my friend and her two wonderful kids and my uncle Dave. It was HOT. My friend bogarted the one available fan "for the kids," so I had a gruesome sleep, even though I was in one of the much cooler basement bedrooms. Wednesday morning was still hot, and it got hotter with the sun out- but it wasn't such a big deal, as the heat was easily combated with a jump in the lake. The kids played well together on the beach with a bunch of toys gathered from the pump house. (Many years ago it actually housed our cottages fresh water pump- froma well dug deep in the ground, but not it just holds all manner of crap - toys, fishing gear, inner tubes and skis, life jackets, and so forth.)

With my uncle Dave watching the kids for a bit here and there, Joanie and I would wander off into the forest or out to the road in back to smoke. Smoke smoke. It was good.

Sometime in the afternoon we welcomed the 1st of our "weekend guests," (even though it was only mid-week! Tommy's a 40-something year old honey. Long haired, easy going, and funny, he's one of my favourite of my uncle's buddies. My uncle Dave is about six and a half year older than my brother and I, so he's kind of like an older brother than and "uncle." He and his beautiful and fun wife don't have any children (though they care for a bunch of animals) and this, in part (I think) has kept them young and partiful. Party-full, I mean. In short, FUN. Dave's especially lucky, I think, because he's managed to maintain a bunch of long-term friends who all know each other, and being around them makes me very happy. Laughs are plentiful. Our other guest was a 50-something year old guy nicknamed "Laser Larry," who I'd met years before at a cottage event. I'm not sure what the "Laser's" all about. When drinking, he's a rambling mumbly fellow, and when sober he's a helpful kind gentle soul. Good first guests!

For dinner, the guys were going to go into town and dine and drink at the excellent restaurant in town. Joanie and I would sort the kids out and then BBQ up something from the fridge (chicken breasts, sausages, or thick pork chops) I'd picked the day before. However, before any of that could happen, the wind picked up and the skies turned an ominous colour.
I nudged Joanie and said "Hey man, look how green the sky is! Dat's veerd, eh?"

And Mother Nature, fed up with something or other, unleashed one hell of a storm on us. Our cottage is maybe - I dunno - thirty feet from the lake? But the lake disappeared. The front lawn disappeared. All we could see was a torrent of wind blown rain and a pouring of water from the overflowing eavestroughs hanging from the edges of the roof. And then we saw nothing. The power cut out at about 7pm or so. The lightening and resulting thunder was so close, everyone jumped with each flash. A call on someone's cell to town confirmed power was out there as well, so we all fed on sandwiches and beer. Because, you know, the power was out. And the beer was going to get warm. We couldn't have that, could we?

My friend and her children retired to their fan-less room around 9:30pm, and the other four of us retreated to the "Muskoka Room," (the screened in room off the front deck) where we could smoke and drink and talk too loudly. My uncle had picked up a freebie from "Kokanee Beer" at a bar, which was a neon "K" on a necklace. With that (which was surprisingly bright) and a couple of candles jammed into beer bottles - and flashlights saved for visits inside to the washroom (for me) or to the forest (for the guys) we, well, partied. Hard.

There was always someone talking, and usually it was TWO people talking at least (as Laser Larry doesn't STOP talking when he's drinking!) We played Euchre. We smokem da peace pipes. We laughy our asses off. It turned out (go figure) to be one if my favourite nights back home. It was good. The vibe was excellent. I worried my friend or one of her children would wake to the sound of our drunken blah-blabbiness, but the next morning Joanie told me she'd slept like a log for almost 11 hours. The power was still out as people roused. I finally fired up all three of the cottage barbeques to boil water for coffee and cook all the meat in the refrigerator.

It turns out that the green skies meant, unfortunately, what I thought they did, and eight tornadoes touched down in our province that evening. By mid-afternoon, the electricity was still out and our neighbours came over to report that they'd called Hydro One and were told that power might not be restored until Sunday evening.

This was a problem. It was Thursday afternoon, and in a few hours we were expecting the first of FORTY or more guests who would spend a five day weekend at our cottage!

To be continued!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sweet Cheese

A class made up of five fabulous little girls (I posted about three of them before) gave me some presents upon my return from Canada last week. I got a pencil set, a little glass jar with shells in it, a beaded ankle bracelet, and a kick-ass pencil case.

It features cheese.
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Sweet, sweet cheese!

A chunk of cheese with some sound advice:
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I hear you, pencil case!


I went to a PC Bang last night and ended up falling asleep there for a couple hours amidst the sound of video game machine guns. Then I went and met my friends at their restaurant which wasn't too busy so they closed up a little early and suggested we drive over to the coast and watch the sunrise from this famous place for watching sunrises. They actually went there the other night with the people I was drinking with after they dropped me off at home because I was smashed and not making much sense.

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Here's a nice lighthouse that flashes out over the sea, keeping all the ships nice and safe.

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Here's a nice statue of a woman and her children who stand gazing out over the sea, enjoying the sun coming up every morning.

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Here's a grandma getting ready to start the day by watching the lovely sunrise.

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Here's my lovely friends watching me take their picture before we turned once again toward the sea to enjoy the 1st glimpse of the sun.

But OH NO! It's cloudy! The sun will rise, but it looked like we weren't going to be able to see it! What a drag! But then suddenly there was a sliver of light.
"THE SUN!" I exclaimed!
And there it was in all its spherical loveliness!

Only it was more of a rectangle.
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So we watched the sun for about a minute and a half before it disappeared behind the clouds that lurked just above the horizon. Then we piled back into the car. It's not a car my friends have, though. I guess it's more of an SUV. Whatever. We went to a nearby beach and ate instant ramen while watching these swimmers glide through the cold salty water at six in the morning. What pep! (No pictures of them, though. They were really just splashes in the water with snorkels sticking up.)

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This very sleepy dog woke up long enough to roll over and offer his belly for some petting before we got back in the SUV and went home. Even though I was kind of tired at work, it was nice to have greeted the day and the dogs under the rectangle of a sun.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

In Canada- Aside

One thing I wasn't used to was the liquor laws, especially in my fine province of Ontario. In Niagara Falls on that 1st weekend back, I met up with my friend Ben on the Sunday night. We were headed over to my friend's apartment, and when Ben arrived to pick me up I suggested we go and get a few libations to bring over.

In Korea, this would be as simple as going to the nearest store - supermarket or convenience. In Japan we would have even been able to scout out a vending machine on the street - it was only about 9:30, afterall. (Vending machines selling alcohol tend to shut down around exactly 11:00pm.) Ben informed me that buying beer was impossible. "WHY?" I demanded. I've been, obviously, away too long.
"Because The Beer Store is closed."

I shit you not. If you want beer in Ontario, you must go to The Beer Store. Guess where you have to go if you want liquor? DING! Five points for you if you guessed The Liquor Store! Both are government owned and subject to grandparently hours. No drinking after 8pm on a Sunday night, don'tcha know! (Nevermind if you're in Cottage Country, like I was for most of my stay, where there's - as the Soup Nazi would say, "No booze for YOU" after 6pm most nights.

What surprises me is that I doubt the way things are in regard to liquor laws is the way people want them to be. If the majority of the people - the people who drink, that is - would like to be able to buy themselves a nice bottle of wine or a "two-four" of beer at their local convenience store or gas station - why can't it be so? Why are the fine people of Ontario putting up with being treated like a bunch of irresponsible babies? Our French brothers and sisters in the fine province of Quebec aren't having to put up with this. And it's been this way forever, or, at least as far back as I can remember. Which is forever. Too long. Rise up, Ontarians. Get those silly backward Amish style laws rearranged before I get back there, or there's going to be hell to pay.

Likewise, I was going to meet my friends on a beach to play around in the water and watch the sunset. I was looking forward to it, and I mentioned to my friend, "Great! We can get get a cooler and some ice and a few beers and have some fun!"
"Actually, you can't drink on the beach," I was informed.
"Huh? Why not?"
"Because it's not licensed."
And it all came flooding back.

Unless you're in an area with a paid-for liquor license, you can't have a drink in Ontario. Unless you're at home.
I've been spoiled (or perhaps more accurately ruined) by being in Asia for so long. I've become an expert (in penises, ha ha, just kidding) in being able to drink a beer in one hand and a bottle of soju in the other with a bucket of kimchi on my head while navigating the uneven narrow darkened alleys. And I also manage to almost never bump into the Koreans who are doing exactly the same thing.

Finally, in Ontario there's a 2am "last call." Alcohol is lifted off the tables (and right the hell out of your hand) anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes after that. Why? Bedtime?
"Oh - the government thinks it's time us folks hit the hay! Night night everyone!" Again, I say "WHY?"

I'm a reasonable person, and I've been trying to think of why these laws make sense. I can't figure it out though. If someone can enlighten me, please do. Otherwise I question why the provincial government has this choke hold on "fun," and more so, why Ontarians put up with it!


Kevin's Konglishee food-blogging post made me pee my pants a little bit. HA!!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Stats Gone Wild

A glance at my site meter tonight overwhelmed me! Hi there, visiting people. I was curious as to how I got linked from the Marmot's Hole and then I saw it was in the comments.
I'm not a penis expert, by any means. What was being referred to was a post from last month which the Nomad actually linked to, and the following post where I stupidly set about counting cats and penises for a week. Is the plural of penis "penii?"
See - what the hell do I know?

Movie Night

I just finished watching Crash, and I understand why it won three Academy Awards. What a powderkeg! I thought it was so good, I might have to rent it and watch it again next weekend when I'm not so tired (still.)
More tomorrow.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Drumk....I mean Drunk

I went out in the wee hours of the morning to meet my friends. We ate what was maybe a whole pig, picking the bones clean in this delicious soup. Then there was "machang" which is pig intestines which were grilled. I wouldn't touch the stuff in Japan, but it smells delicious when it's cooking and is fatty and yummy. I can't think of the Japanese name for it because I'm still a little drunk, and I can't remember at all how I got home, but I was, for a little while, in an apartment on the floor below me. I don't know why, but I suppose I made a new friend. All the noori-bangs (karaoke places) unfortunately close when the sun comes up here. Too bad. I wanted to sing!
Hopefully my friend will fill me in about the end of the night (morning.)

WCB 62 Mattie and Kamikaze

My mother's cat, who was momentarily my cat (as I rescued her snow covered little body from a blizzard) is SO FURRY and light as a feather. Seriously, hoisting Kamikaze to my shoulder is like picking up a sack of potatoes, but picking up Mattie is like capturing a puff of air. If I didn't know better, I'd think she was totally comprised of fur! She has a gorgeous plume of a tail which she holds upright when she walks. What a funny princess!
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My mother complains Mattie won't sleep with her, but just as soon as my mom took off Saturday night to hang out with her boyfriend, (leaving me with a video and a bag of cheesy poofs) Mattie climbed atop my mother's pile of clothes on her bed, and stayed there almost all night until she climbed on my sleeping back in the early morning hours.
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Hey Black Flat Mattie Cat, where are your eyes?

Mattie and Kamikaze are promised to one another. It's an arranged marriage that's going to take place next summer. I've explained it to both of them, but am not sure they understand. When they meet, I'm sure they'll protest and maybe even brawl, but too bad, so sad, married they will be.

Meanwhile, Kamikaze figures if he plants his big self on my suitcase, I won't be able to go away anymore.
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For more weekend cat-blogging fun, visit the guest hostess Heather's site!


Last night I called my friend after I woke up at 5:30am. I guess technically it was the morning. It's cool having friends who run a restaurant, as they're up late late late like me! My friend ended up calling me back at 6:00am and invited me to go out with them this afternoon. They needed to go shopping, and we were going to have lunch before that. "Sure!" I said, as eating is part of my new "I'm a little baby" regime.

We went to a Chinese restaurant. It was easily the best Chinese food I've had since I've been in Korea. We sat in our own little room at a large round table with one of those revolving circular trays in the middle of the table. The food came in courses, and the Taiwanese waitress came in and dished out our servings into little bowls for us.

First up was something a little strange:
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It was beef, cucumber, jellyfish, and - what do you call this egg? Preserved? Ancient? I'm not sure, but I've seen it before. The white was all brown and jellified and the yolk was a daunting black colour. Regardless, it was delicious!

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Next up, a seafood dish with shrimp, sea cucumber, and many different kinds of mushrooms in a spicy sauce. There were sure more ingredients, but it was hard to note them all and I inhaled this dish. I love shrimp. It's my favourite food!

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With our lunch, we sipped this alcohol which came in a little bottle and was served in tiny little cups. My friends called it "Chinese soju," but I called it "Fire-Death-Juice." Even though I was warned, the first shot of it left me unable to breathe. With 56% alcohol, it was no wonder!

Next up, another seafood dish!
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This was a mixture of shrimp, thick slices of sea cucumber, and squid, with bok choy, bamboo, mushrooms, and peppers. So yummy. I could have hogged the whole plate, but that would have been rude, eh?

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This was the highlight of the meal. Tang Soo Yook is very popular in Korea. I once had to search the Big Ho's archives to find out the name of this dish (I had remembered him posting about it) when I wanted to order it from my local Chinese shop. My dinner that night had nothing on lunch today. Tang Soo Yook is thin strips of pork breaded and deep fried and served in a sour sweet sauce. This restaurant's version also had pineapple, cherries, and onions in the mix. It was the best I've ever had.

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For our final dish, we were each given a choice of the jja jja myun, or the jambon. (I truly don't know how to spell that last one, it's not a French ham- but a spicy seafood and noodle soup. Champon?) Jja jja myun is noodles in a black sauce with onions and bits of meat (and other things surely.) The restaurant my school ordered dinner from in Masan had sweet potato in their version, and ah hates sweet potato, so I was turned off this dish. I'm rethinking that, as today's presentation was outstanding. The noodles were perfect- chewy and lovely. After I ate them all I had a mass of sauce at the bottom of the bowl, which was a shame- so I stole almost all my friends noodles from her jambon which she was too full to eat.

Desert was a mass of blue grapes and three sesame balls with evil "anko" in the middle. That's sweet red bean paste and I hate the stuff.

I was once at a formal Japanese tea ceremony at a fancy temple, and I was following the motions of my Japanese friend. Everything in the ceremony is very delicate and purposeful, and when we were served this beautiful pink pastry with a lovely design on the top of it, I admired it- as is required, and then popped it in my mouth only to realize it was full of hateful anko. Then I struggled to swallow it and not vomit. Puking would have totally messed with the peaceful zen of the ceremony. Grand faux pas, like.

What a wonderful lunch though. The next time I have to go out with my co-workers for dinner (at the end of September) I'm going to suggest this place. Bennigans Schmennigans.

After lunch we went to HomePlus for some shopping.
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Look how peaches come in Korea! Delicately swathed in tissue and boxed. I was surprised to see bruises on some of them though. With such attention, I'd expect them to be flawless. I didn't buy any (and was regretting not eating a peach in Canada, what a dummy I am!)

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Oooohhhhh! That's one expensive watermelon mamasita! (Just over 25 bucks Canadian!) Maybe when you cut it open, little fairies spill out to entertain you as you eat it. You never know!

I bought a little cheese and a little salami. Homeplus is currently rivalling WalMart for Western goods. Apparently WalMart's gone under and was purchased by EMart anyhow. Homeplus has a nice selection of cheeses though, (and damn, I love cheese!) though your wallet will suffer - cheese is very expensive. (I stood there regretting I didn't even have one slice of the expensive 5 year old cheddar I bought in Canada. It's intact in my brother's fridge now!)

Ah well! Our final stop was a little "Meat Village." We pulled off this street and into a little community of shops. My friends needed some meat for tonight for their restaurant. We passed a shop with tables outside with these red bowls which contained some kind of animal. The limbs were sticking straight up in the air. "What's that animal?" I asked my friends. "Dog!" I was told.

They were just small dogs in the bowls. Watching the shopkeeper hack into them made me want to ralph up my lovely lunch. "Aaaaggghhh!" I yelped. We stopped the car right outside this shop:
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I apologize, but that's what used to be a big yellow dog.
They beat them or electrocute them to kill them. It's thought that the adrenaline the dogs produce while being killed thusly increases their deliciousness and power. (Dogs are often eaten by men to increase their sexual stamina.) Then their fur is burned off. Then they're hung up in shop windows for me to look at and mutter "fuck!" a hundred times. This shop just displayed one dog, but other shops had glass coolers with ten or so dogs hung in each. Seeing the poor lovely animals in their cages and hearing the barks that echoed in the village made me thoroughly sad. It wasn't just dogs here, though, there was all manner of meat. I didn't take a photo of the Shop of a Hundred Cow Heads. My friends don't serve dog at their restaurant, just cow and pig. They pointed out the slaughterhouse just up the hill from the little community. I also asked about cats, as I'd just recently read a post from a fellow in Pusan who'd visited the Gupo Dog Market. Cat is eaten here, but only by old people as a medicinal remedy for rheumatism and such.

So that was that. I thanked my friends for lunch and the shopping trip and for freaking me the hell out. Then I went home for a poop and a nap, because that's what us babies do.

The Fountain of Youth

It seems that my trip back to Canada has changed me. Apparently I've become a small baby. All I'm doing is sleeping, eating, and pooping. Would one of you be so kind as to come on over and unpack my suitcases?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

In Canada (Pt. 1)

Last I updated from Canada, I was in Niagara Falls at my mother's place. In total, I was there about three and a half days, and I spent a lot of the time shopping! I cancelled Saturday night plans because I was so tired, but stayed in and watched "Old School." I'd meant to rent "Anchorman," but got confused!

First, we stopped by Blockbuster Video to pick up a movie. I was surprised, but they're going to have to change their name as there is nary a video to be found in the store. It's all about the DVDs! The handsome blue eyed clerk at "Video 2000," our next stop in search of VHS, informed us they're not even making videos anymore. It's funny my mom bought a new VCR about 4 months ago when her older one stopped working. It made sense to her, after speaking to Mister Blue Eyes, why the service centre guy laughed at her when she called to inquire about getting her broken VCR fixed!

Sunday, though, I met up with friends, including the handsome and wise Ben I hadn't seen for about 10 years. It was good!

I now know it takes about 2 and a half days worth of motherly nagging for me to freak out and scream, "Stop talking to me like that!" and then just shut down and not speak for an hour or so. This was while making a delicious BBQ dinner of steak, potatoes with sage and onion, massive portobello mushrooms, and cucumber salad. Delicious! I didn't take a picture of the two GIANT hunks of steak I bought at the supermarket for $10.12. They needed marinating (in a mesquite sauce) as they weren't the most tender cut you could get, but they were outstanding, and would have made a wonderful sandwich the day after on a crusty roll with lettuce and sprouts and a dollop of tabasco mayonnaise. I didn't get a chance to try that out, though, as I was on a bus bound for Toronto early the next morning.

I met up with my friend Joanie, whom I've known forever. We first met when I was about 4 and she was 6. We went to the same Elementary and High Schools together, and she knows me, outside of my family, better than anyone I'm sure. Likewise.

Let me say, when I arrived in Canada on the 28th of July the weather was HOT and MUGGY. It steadily increased over the next few days, with wicked thunderstorms in the evening that didn't do too much in the way of cooling things down. August 1st, the day I went to Toronto to meet Joanie was surreal, with a high of 39 degrees in the city. With the humidex, it felt like 49! No bother, though, we were headed up to my family's cottage where a hot humid day is quickly remedied by a jump in the lake. Still, in "Heaven" (Muskoka) it was stupid muggy, and that 1st night's sleep was fitful and uncomfortable.

It was great to see my friend. She has two adorable extraordinarily well-mannered little children I'd never met before. The two and a half year old cherub of a boy calls Joanie "Kumi-mummy," because he hears his sister address her as "Excuse me, Mommy," most of the time. Her four and a half year old girl is like a mini version of herself. She has a beautiful house in a lovely neighbourhood. Good marriage. 30 foot boat and yacht club membership. Wheeeee! Good for her. Honestly.

Thing is, I thought that the concentration of "I'm a mom" talk in e-mails and phone calls was just because time was short and, well, she's a mom. But it wasn't. She reminded me of her role as mother, caregiver, and housewife over and over and over. I quashed the temptation to point out I realized she was a mother because her children were standing in front of me, but the frequency with which her speaking contained phrases like "I'm a full time mom," "With two kids on the go," and "Being a mother,..." got kind of irritating. It was kind of like a television commercial. I'll give it to her, though, her role is one she's fully embraced and it defines her every being now. She had a strong character before, but now she's "Super Mom," and that's just about it. Once she goes back to work in the Fall she will be "Working Super Mom." Yep!

I'm sure she didn't mean to, but she gave me pause about my wanting children. Just listening to her talking about motherhood exhausted me, nevermind the constant attention the kids required from "Kumi-Mummy." Afterall, I might be too selfish to share my time. Hmph.

So there we were at the cottage. It was hot. It was me and my friend and her two kids and my uncle Dave. It was good, and this is to be continued,...

Jet Lag

I am smothered in jet lag. I manage to make it through the day here, but come home and can't keep my eyes open! I went shopping tonight- it being Friday, I bought a couple beers and was looking forward to catching up on some blog-reading, but after one wobbly-pop I couldn't keep my eyes open! So I crawled into bed at 11:30pm and slept until 5:30am! It doesn't seem so odd, but I usually go to bed around 5:30am, as I don't work until 1:30pm! I think I'm just going to have to sleep A LOT over the weekend to try to get myself back into sync!
But not like Lance Bass or anything.
Of course, not that there's anything wrong with Lance.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Back to Reality

Just in case I had any doubts about where I am, my boss quickly reminded me within moments of walking into school today.

"Hi! How was your vacation?"
"It was fantastic! How are you doing?"
"Good!" (noticing my suntan) "You got sun bon."
"Yah, a little bit. It was very sunny in Canada."
"Your face looks bad."
"Jesus, Karen!"
"No, I mean you look better before."
"Is it rude?"
(No! Not at all! I always like to greet people I meet with- "Hey! How ya doin'? Sheesh, you are quite a bit uglier than the last time I saw you! Did you fall down an ugly-hole or something?")
"Uhhhh, yah. Lil' bit!"

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Gifts and Home

Just so you know, I was pathetic about taking pictures on my vacation. Starting tomorrow I'll start to post a few, and I'm sending e-mail requests to other people to share their pictures with me, if they get around to it, I'll share with you as well.

I fell asleep tonight around nine and woke up after midnight with stinging pink eyes, so slept a bit more until after 2:00am. Then I went to meet my friends and bestow gifts upon them. They seemed pleased, which pleased me.

My first four days in Canada were spent in Niagara Falls (which I affectionately call Viagara Balls) at my mother's house and I SHOPPED! But I was selfish, and dropped about a thousand dollars on me and me alone. With no new clothes in two and a half years, I was overdue. My favourite purchase was a wool and sheepskin coat for winter. I want it to be winter now so I can wear it! Otherwise I have to take all four pairs of jeans in to be tapered and taken in. Korean tailors are EXCELLENT and I urge everyone in Korea wearing ill-fitting clothes to visit their local tailor and have everything custom-fit for absolutely minimal charge.

Other than those first four days, though, I had no time for shopping. I was at my family's cottage for 12 days. It's in Muskoka, for those of you who know where that is. Let's just call it "Heaven" for simplicity's sake.

I'll tell you more so soon, but right now I'm thinking about souvenirs. All my students wanted one, and I placated them with an "amado" (maybe) so they wouldn't bug me. But alas- I have nothing to give them. I soon figured out that even if I shopped at the dollar store, buying a little gift for everyone was going to cost me over a hundred bucks and take up precious suitcase space. So tough. As far as I'm concerned, I'M their present.

I started thinking, back in Canada, what I had of value in Korea. Cat. Degree and Transcripts. Ummmmm. A handful of friends. I considered not coming back. I got to thinking how I shouldered this trip out of my own pocket and my boss has gotten away with not paying outgoing or incoming teacher air fare for 2 years now. Plus the guilt trip I had before leaving was so crappy. I really didn't want to buy gifts for my co-workers. When I left Elizabeth wasn't even speaking to me (and likewise) so it seems stupid to give her a present.

Back with my friends in Canada, I contemplated how easy things were with them. I could speak my mind freely without fear of judgment or argument. My friends could say what they wanted, give me the finger, tell me to "shut the fuck up," and it was all taken in stride with good humour. Come backs. Yo' mamma. But that's not the case here. Working with my co-workers has been DIFFICULT, and my vacation home hasn't re-fuelled and re-freshed me. It's made utterly apparent what a challenge it's been, and I'm TIRED.

I gave in and bought them gifts. Maple tea and ice-wine. Lovely.

But I now know if I make it the last 10 months of my contract here, I'm quite the champion. We'll see.

For now, Vive le Vacation.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Miss Me?

Well, now you've got to KISS ME!

I'm back. It took 4 plane rides and about 41 hours in total, but I made it! What a trip, man. Actually, everything was going very smoothly - my lay-overs were shorter than on the trip over and it looked like I was going to make good time, until we sat for FOUR hours on the tarmac at Narita Airport with the LYING PILOT announcing that "It'll just be a little bit longer, folks, and then we're off," every few minutes. I'd doze off and then awake to find us still on the ground, and then rage and frustration would make me all sleepy and I'd doze off and then awake and fume some more. Finally Lying-Pilot-Man conceded that we weren't going anywhere in that there plane, so they turned off the air conditioner and made us wait about forty more minutes. I think it was some sort of NorthWest Air sponsored psychological experiment. I kept expecting the flight attendants to come around and poke us with sticks while holding bottles of water just out of our reach. Un-freaking-believable.

Finally we were corralled back into the now empty airport and eventually herded to Immigration and then packed into 3 buses which drove us to a hotel downtown near Tokyo Station. Another hour. I'd (again) missed the 2nd feeding on the overseas flight and I was starving. I heard many other passengers complain about being hungry as well, but the airline was kind enough to pass out a little lunchbox before we boarded the bus. Inside was a stale bun with a single slice of mystery meat, a sad looking croissant, and a small cookie. I feared if I ate that crap the spike in my blood sugar might lull me into a coma, so I passed. The Airline Reps who distributed that junk out were lucky the bus was already moving away from the airport, or I would have wadded everything up and lobbed it at their heads.

We got to the hotel just before 1am, and had 4 hours to sleep in our clothes before we had to board the bus back to try it all over again. Success. And $250 off my next flight, so I guess it's not SO bad! I arrived in Incheon to discover the next bus to my city wasn't leaving for four and a half hours, so I called my boss to tell her it'd be ten hours before I was home, so it was doubtful I'd be able to work.

As it turns out, I looked into a flight instead of the bus, and bingo bongo, shuttled over to Gimpo and caught a forty minute plane ride followed by a thirty minute cab ride home and VOILA! (I perhaps should have gone to work, but oh-well. Not gonna happen today!)

I'm back! Kiss me!

Let me tell you, though, I wasn't prepared for the STENCH that greeted me when I opened my apartment door. I was so relieved someone was looking after Kamikaze, I didn't spend too much time thinking he'd do a shitty job. But he did.

It's not a difficult task:
Feed Cat.
Clean Litter Box.
Change Cat Water.

He fed the cat, but all dry food- ignoring the wet food I'd stocked up on before I left. Kamikaze's main diet is wet food. No wonder he had diarrhea. He was covered in it and there was spots of shit all over my apartment. His bum is still poo-coated right now, and apparently very uncomfortable as he won't let me touch it. Poor kitty.

He didn't clean the litter box. I scooped the whole bottom half of it which was clumped up with piss. I'd venture a guess that this was a good part of why Kamikaze used my BED as a litter box. Two comforters and a sheet, right down to the mattress, thanks-a-lot-cat. My apartment was 36 degrees when I got in. Hot cat stink. Lovely.

Kamikaze's huge water dish was almost empty. It's very deep and I doubt he could maneuver his head into it to get a drink.

I got the guy an expensive silver bracelet for taking care of Kamikaze. He said he wouldn't accept payment, and he's always admiring my silver. His sister-in-law thought a bracelet was a good idea. Right now I'm considering keeping it for myself and giving him a good kick in the nuts instead.

I'm tired. My air conditioner is seemingly out of Freon and it's hot here. I'll write more about my vacation, but let me tell you that after the first four days which were brutally hot and humid, the weather was OUTSTANDING. As a matter of fact, for about three or four days the temperature went down to about 10 degrees at night. And it was about 25 and sunny during the day.

Sounds good, eh?

I'm going to put myself down on my pee-soaked mattress for a nap. Tomorrow I'll go to school smelling like a bag-lady. How have you been?