Monday, September 29, 2008

Duck, Duck, Poo.



Well, geese really.

The ducks, we like. The geese - not so much.

I mean, I love them. I love their silly necks and all the honking and especially the V-Format flight migration. Very cool. However, if they happen to swim by and decide to stop for a wee rest and to peck upon your lawn, they will leave you with the unfortunate present of piles of green slippery goose poo all over the grass. And, if you didn't know they'd visited you won't be aware of all the slippery shit. So when you're headed to the dock for some sun after a nice sleep-in and delicious breakfast done up on the barbeque, you'll slide on the green poo. And then you're covered in it.

And worst of all, you'll have spilled your Vodka Caesar.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Today the sun will rise at 6:13a.m. and then set at 6:13p.m. which makes the day twelve hours long. (Plus, of course, the other twelve hours when it's dark. So it's another 24 hour day. No need to panic) I just thought you might like to know this.

Alright, then.
Carry on.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What Not to Eat

Earlier I was flipping around the television channels looking for something to watch while I tucked into my nice meal of fish, rice and a nice big salad. I came to the Discover Channel - my standard "go-to" if I can't find anything else to watch. I like just about all the shows on the Discovery Channel. I love the whole channel. It's such a brilliant channel.


So the show in progress was Man vs Wild. Good! Bear Grylls is a mental case. I wonder what desperate mess he's going to be in this week! Well - lucky me, it was a compilation show. He's in all sorts of messes.

Unluckily for my appetite, the show focused mainly on the things Mr. Grylls eats and drinks whilst in the messes he's in. As he decapitated lizards and grasshoppers and bit into them, I stopped mid-chew. When he drank his own urine and then hoisted a great pile of elephant dung to squeeze the liquid out and into his mouth, I set my utensils down. And, when he gnawed lion-style on a disemboweled zebra, and then cut into the stomach of a dead camel to squish out its half-digested belly contents for another drink - I got the tinfoil out, covered up my meal and tucked it into the fridge.

Maybe tomorrow I'll feel like eating again.

I'm lucky that I don't do much any flying over the everglades, deserts, the amazon, or such places, because if I found myself in a Bear Grylls wilderness survival style mess, I would be deady-dead-dead.

But then he could come along, cut my head off, and squeeze himself a fresh braintini. So it wouldn't be a total loss.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Some Chow

It was my birthday last week and much celebration was had. I started off the day by stopping off at Dr. Dolphin's office and getting an I.V. in my left hand. Good times. Then I went to work where a cake was produced, a song was sung, and I was made to blow out candles.
Apparently I just turned six.

That cake was just another example of miscommunication. A couple weeks ago my co-workers were animated in the Teacher's Room, speaking to one another in Korean. One of them turned to me and asked, "what is your favourite kind of cake?"
I thought I was just joining in their cake discussion, and so replied, "Chocolate. No, cheesecake. No chocolate,, cream cake!"* In my mind was a picture of some gorgeous ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins. See I wasn't specific with my favourite cake, and so I was gifted a silly ice cream bear cake from one of the local bakeries. In all, it wasn't bad. It was covered in that sugary bakery icing my sister-in-law always requests on her birthday, (that stuff's good to have about once a year) and the inside was vanilla and strawberry. I felt bad hacking into the bear's face, but it was the bear's own fault for having such delicious choclatey ears, eyes and nose!

On the weekend, friends of mine took me out for lunch to some new seafood buffet restaurant. I think it was called "SeaMart" or something. You could order some quite expensive entree or just go for the all-you-can-eat "salad" bar, which had a lot more than just salad. We headed up toward the buffet. It must be a common complaint that the food on offer at buffet joints is generally just so-so, and in that respect this place didn't disappoint. Strangely enough, I thought one of the best things was the ju'uk - which is a common bland rice porridge. They also had a platter of crab legs, which you'd think would be awesome,...
but wasn't so much. I should have held my hand up for a size comparison, because these legs were about as thick as my ring finger. Delicious crabby meat? Not so much (of it.)

The best thing was watching what my friend Naré came back to the table with. She is a Food Stylist, that one.
It looked a lot better than it tasted.

Finally, I cooked myself up a batch of soup this weekend. Comfort soup. Onion soup. Those of you folks in Korea may have the same sort of kitchen set up as I do. I don't have an oven, but I've got a three burner gas range counter top thing with a broiler part underneath. This was the first time I attempted onion soup and it was an awesome success, reminding me of the French Onion Soup my mom gourmet-ed up in proper hollowed handled ceramic bowls when I was young. Google a recipe if you want, but what I'd suggest is first acquiring some stock. I used chicken stock that I made myself. If you ever get chicken off the back of those rotisserie trucks, or even order in something like Kyochon or what not, save the bones in the freezer. Once you've got a decent pile of them, make some stock by throwing in some vegetables and water into a bot with the bones. Bring it all to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for a good hour or two. Strain it all and cool it. Then you can skim the fat off and freeze that if you want to.

Onion soup is more often made with beef stock, but I found chicken stock worked well. I'm sure the fact my stock was so flavourful and, after it was chilled, almost gelatinous, made it even that more yummified. Next time I may try it with homemade beef stock. My friends run a "galbi jip" and I'll steal their bones and roast them a bit under the broiler before making the stock.

When you feel like making onion soup, get a great big pot. Slice some onions fairly thin and cook them over low heat for a long time in some butter or olive oil. Eventually they'll get all soft and caramel coloured. Sprinkle some flour over that, bring the heat up and splash in some white wine. Once the alcohol's burned off, pour in the chicken stock and let that party on a medium flame for a little while. Spice it up a bit by adding pepper and a couple bay leaves or (if you're lucky like me and have some) a sachet of bouquet garni. So yummy.

When you feel like eating onion soup, ladle some into one of those cheap ramen pots and slip some sliced baguette in. (I think Paris Baguette offers the best version.) Top that off with shredded swiss or gruyere or even mozzarella and put it under the broiler for a couple minutes until the cheese melts and browns a bit.
Seriously,...yum yum yum yum.

*As for cake, I'm SURE there's a cake out there that would blow my mind, and it's certainly not Baskin Robbins ice cream cake. I've learned to specify my answers for my location, and if I'd said "Manhattan Peanut Butter Chocolate French Devil Cinnamon Cheese Swirl layered with That White Stuff in Nanaimo Bars avec Macadamia Mousse" I'd have had to explain what the hell that was (if such a beast ever existed.) And so I answered like the question was "What's your favourite cake in Korea?" Actually, I edited my answer toward that question. Frankly, this isn't the best country for cake by any means. Luckily, I've never been a big fan of cake or pie. But good bread? Don't start.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Happy Barfday to Me

I spoke too soon in that lst update. I was not, as it turned out, on the road to recovery. I was on the road to canceling plans I'd made for my four day holiday one by one as I kept realizing and re-realizing that I was sick and tired. For real. Once again, can I get a "boo hoo?"

I imagine others were out and about doing things over the Korean Thanksgiving holidays and I'd like to ask you all if you happened to find either my initiative or creativity. I've misplaced them somewhere and I've looked all over the inside of my apartment and they're not here. They've wandered off. They may hae boarded a ship or a plane and by now they could be pretty much anywhere. If you see them can you let me know? Better yet - just jump on them and you can mail them back to me. Once I've gotten them back I'll get motivated and create something awesome as your reward. Something glittery.

Speaking of glittery, while I was back in Canada I kept hearing this song on the radio and I wasn't paying too close attention to it and I didn't know who sang it, but the chorus went on about "this is the time of my life." I remarked to my brother that this song must surely be the anthem for graduating high school students all over the land, and I don't remember what he said back. Probably he agreed and then asked me to pull his finger or something.

Turns out that this was the theme song picked for American Idol season 7 winner David Cook. I know this because they just aired the finale in Korea last week and I heard him sing it and recognized the song a few bars in. And then I heard him sing something about "magic rainbows."

For real?!?!

Had I been able to, I would have re-wound just to make sure I'd heard that right. Holy Cheese, Batman! I now know for sure he did say "magic rainbows" because I googled the lyrics. I guess I'm just too old and jaded to be able to handle this song. Or American Idol, for that matter. I like it when they're in the audition portion of it and they either show you the ones with fantastic vocal abilities, or the other ones that make you cough beer through your nose; they're so tone deaf and crazy. I find delusion to be humourous. As soon as they get into the regular part of the show, though, where they're featuring the songs of Barry Mannilow and start the broadcast off with a rousting medley of sparkly sunshine songs of the seventies I throw in my cards and have to leave the table. Otherwise someone's gonna die. I wouldn't even have been watching the finale, but I fell asleep during an episode of "House" and awoke to hear George Michael singing "Praying for Time." Now there's some lyrics for ya.

I wonder if David Cook rolled his eyes when he was first presented with this debut song he was going to start his career with. I don't know.

And now I'm a year older and I wonder will this finally be the year that I find my magic pony at the end of the whimsical trail of fairy dust on this sparkly yellow bricked road of a journey otherwise known as life.

Perhaps not.

But the law of averages means there's an even greater chance that this will be the year I finally throw up in my shoe.

Or something like that.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


My former boss came back to the school on Monday and I got a hug at the end of the day. That was good.

I've been suffering with some nasty bug for the last couple weeks which has meant numerous trips to the doctor. Instead of the usual ass injection the nurses give me after my consultation, they medicated me intravenously through a vein in the top of my hand the past couple days. The doctor had told me "I think your illness is severe."

No shit!

I've been taking fistfulls of pills every night and gulping shots of cough medicine in the hopes I can sneak in just a few moments of sleep between violently hacking my lungs up. The inside of my mouth has a bunch of sores in it that Dr. Dolphin attributes to exhaustion. I concur.

Oh, boo friggin hoo.

Good news is it looks like I've turned a corner and am on the Road to Sparkling Wellbeing. Great! It's just in time for the upcoming four day weekend which shall be followed by the Massive Super Fun Happy Party Time otherwise known as my birthday.

Yippee kai yeah y'all.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Let Down Go

So my boss finished up last week. Now it feels strange. I'm working with strangers. Strangers who are strange.

Actually, they seem quite nice. My one new co-worker speaks English very well, and I dig that. She's friendly and talkative and she likes to spend a LOT of time in church. She's very pretty but it's hard to get a handle on her style of fashion. She's been working for a couple weeks now and I don't think she's repeated an outfit yet. The first couple days she donned dresses that Lucille Ball or Beaver Cleaver's mom wore back in the day. Then she relaxed a bit and sported jeans and a T-shirt (my uniform, pretty much) but this past week was a real mishmash. One day she wore a pinstripe bright red suit that could have only come from the eighties, complete with massive shoulder pads. The next day she was pretty in a beige peasant skirt, olive tee and fringey leather belt wrapped around her hips. Very Boho chic. The day after that, though, she looked like a nurse with a white short sleeved stretchy polyester jacket over white polyester slacks. All that was missing were sensible nurse shoes,...but her indoor-slippers were pretty sensible come to think of it. I don't really care one way or the other about what people wear, but it's interesting to witness this parade of fashion. She would be on both the best and worst dressed lists if she were a celebrity.

Anyhow, my boss's last day was anti-climatic. As I left to go home I went to say goodbye to her and she squished up her face in mock-sadness and said "bye, Jeeelllllyyyy." And that was that. I felt sort of let down. I guess I expected something genuine, maybe a thank-you for working (hard) for her for the last four years. Maybe a card with a note in it. I'd even have settled for a hug or a handshake, but nope. Oh, I did get a present. I got a little gift box from the Body Shop. Moisturizer and body wash. Whoopdeedoo. I don't mean to sound ungrateful, it's just that, well, I'M UNGRATEFUL! No, that's not right. More like I'm disappointed and she's ungrateful. I know it's silly, but I felt fairly abandoned. I was also surprised by how territorial I was feeling at work this past week. I keep reminding myself to relax and stop taking things so personally. I suppose it all boils down to expectations. It's better to just let them go and take things as they come, and I'm optimistic about what's to come. We shall see.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

War of the Weather

Finally we're headed out of the molten clutch of summer here. Praise be to Krishna and Allah and whatnot. I got off easy this year, as the temperature in Canada during my three plus week long visit was pretty fine indeed. I could've done without the cloud cover and crazy-ass storms, but still shan't complain. Summer back in Korea was its usual thick slice of humid with a side order of hot and sweaty. Yuck. Now we're in transition, though - where the nights cool off enough to make you go "ahhhhhh," and you can sleep with the windows open and maybe even throw part of a blanket over part of your body. The days, however, are still "up there" temperature-wise. I don't consider 29 degrees with 96% humidity to be comfortable weather by any means.

It's after September 1st now, which means that the alarms go off in my co-worker's heads that now is the time for the permanent turning off of the air-conditioner. It's driving me mental. We've got more teachers than we've had in ages because the new boss and the old boss are still hanging around the school. (Today is Karen's last day, though - which makes me pretty bummed out.) So there are too many bodies in the Staff Room, which has no windows and two air conditioning vents. Teachers who aren't actually teaching sit in there and complain about the cold when the air conditioner is on. In another part of the school I'm running around juggling monkeys (my secret method of retaining my student's interest in my lessons) and teaching a bunch of kids who are busy breathing up all the oxygen in the room.

My least favourite classroom has one air-conditioning vent and a wall of windows that barely open, but do let in the sun which heats the room up good and sweaty. Meanwhile, the sedentary teachers enjoying break-time creep out and turn off the air-conditioner that I turned on as soon as I arrived without asking anyone's permission. So I walk through the lobby and turn it back on. So they walk by and turn it off again. Rinse, lather, repeat,...and I do mean lather. I get all worked up about having to teach while I can feel sweat trickling down the small of my back. The students also like to touch me all the time (trying to distract me so I drop a monkey, I think) and this just heats me up even more. I get so cranky when I'm shvitzing. My grumpiness isn't helped either by the fact I've been rocking a brutal cold for about a week now. Fever make Jelly sad. No matter. I'm going out this morning to buy a Rottweiler to guard the air-con. I don't get why my delicate little Korean co-workers can't close the vents in the Teacher's Room or bring along a little sweater to protect their goose-bump prone bare arms. Better yet, come and teach my class so I can park myself under a fan with a good book. Now we're talking!

It's not so much reflective of the actual weather outside as it is that my co-worker's have somehow been pre-programmed to think that September 1st = End-of-Summer. There shall be no more swims at the beach. We shall wear long sleeves. We shall not enjoy the comfort of coolness under the air-conditioner. I don't really get it, but luckily Bluto's going to bite the hand off of the next person who wants to play the On-Off Game with me.