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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Wasting time

I listen to a LOT of podcasts. Easily 4 hours a day, some days 6 to 8 hours of listening. They cover lots of stuff too so I feel like I am learning while doing house work, and having background noise keeps me focused. We don't have cable so the T.V. we watch is all streaming. You might think this would make me more productive - BUT no it leads to binge watching.

Today I am listening Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, a show where the host Chris Gethard talks for an hour to someone about anything they want the only rule is they have to stay anonymous. The show I listened to is

(obviously I need to figure out how to embed a link GRRR, sorry)

The caller says he has written 18,000 songs. He talks about doing the work - whatever you want do it often, push out quantity and work long and hard to get it done. That the time and effort will lead to some level of success. This is sage advice we know that to succeed you have to fail, the people who succeed get there by getting up and pressing on.

Hmm, so I need to pick something to focus on and do everyday for year. This effort should lead to some sort of success. I know!!! my Etsy shop - I will work for an minimum of 2 hours everyday on my shop, so 14 hours a week (very doable) and I will see where it leads.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Joined a gym!!!

So I picked a gym, AnyTime Fitness. They are close, small, you get 24 hour access and I am enjoying going in the morning. I started out well with 4 trips to the gym the first week of my membership, then 3 or 2 times in ensuing weeks. I am a fat, asthmatic, over forty, uncoordinated lady so the gym is really an adventure for me.  All that said I go for the great way it all makes me feel and I give a crap what others at the place think. It amazes me the people who won't join a gym because they are afraid of the people at the gym judging them - REALLY!?! I go the other direction where I feel like all the regulars look at me and think, "WOW look at her dedication!", and "She is amazing, look how strong she is!" Now if you remember that I am uncoordinated, really bad like we are lucky I can walk and talk - which I can't always I have to stop and think often , seeing me at the gym is more like witnessing a lady having a seizure, perhaps to the song in her earbuds but definitely NOT elegant. To the great credit of the members of AnyTime Fitness so far I have not seen anyone laughing at me, and thanks to the earbuds I can't hear them :-)    Besides you should really worry about the people you see the other 20 hours of the day, those are the ones I sometimes let get to me - I just know the look that covers an inner dialouge of, "Look at the fat slob! She should really try harder!" At the gym I am trying so I expect to get credit for it then. The weight loss game is won or lost depending on whose voice I hear in my head after 8 pm - the Go You or the Wow you suck - because it can lead to grazing. That is the gym update, maybe there will even be weight loss.

In the process of interviewing for a job, which only involves 48 hours of work a month - BUT it pays really well and it is part of a program I really love - more to come later. 

I am writing this after the gym and shower, and just before I have to run to the commissary (grocery store for you non-military folks), so I gotta go.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

You Have Failed . . .

As I said before we are watching Arrow, when he confronts criminals he tells them "You have failed this city." It has left me worrying about where and how I fail which can be so many ways depending on the moment, currently it is myself I have failed.

I have gained weight here and in spite of my best efforts at making excuses they are just that excuses, so I have a plan - famous last words if ever there were - Join a gym. WOW revolutionary right?!? There are 2 gyms near by and I have looked at both, until recently we could't afford it BUT we sold our house so now we only pay rent and utilities on one house instead of two - it frees up a little money. Seems straight forward join gym, work out, feel better, lose weight right? Oh but wait you underestimate my ability to procrastinate - I have to decide which gym is better for me. I like classes and neither one has morning classes - I really like a 9 am class starts the day off, gets ya going, check work out off the to do list. I am going by tomorrow to see if they will give me a trial month before I am tied into a whole year contract - or maybe I just need to pull the trigger and start running at the gym. OH I might meet someone to work out with, that would be fun. In the end that is what I need for the work out to be fun.

Then there is job hunting, UGH I hate writing a resume and then re-writing the resume, then editing it for each job type . . .it is endless. Here most entry jobs are paying $8 - $13 not really much money if I have to spend so many hours editing the resume just to get interviews and rejections - and they are part time jobs so really not much money. I get paralyzed with fear as I try to edit the resume and find just the right wording to prove my ability to learn any job and be a great employee, and frankly it is demeaning to get turned down for a minimum wage entry level job :-(. I have a degree and experience in several fields, and I love to work I am a really dedicated employee - so rejection hurts my self esteem in big ways. SOLUTION work on job search for 4 hours a day. It is enough time to make progress while I don't have to feel like I am wasting all my time. You see job hunting here hasn't historically been a fruitful endeavor, I end up bitter and sad with no hobbies or friends because I was spending all my energy on a mythical job search.

Wish me luck!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas and Global warming

Wholly Shit is it HOT!!! It is December 30th and this last week we had high temperatures around 80 degrees with humidity over 80% it is sticky and nasty. For the week of Christmas we had hot weather, and several tornado warnings. This is Satan's armpit. It is hot, moist and sticky here ALL THE TIME!!!  Funny thing that also ties into my theory on why they are SO religious here - this kind of intimacy with Satan confirms his existence. Oh and the rain I have to keep draining the pool before it overflows some how the rain and draining pool aren't leaving standing water in the back yard - gotta wonder where it all goes?? I am worried that the trees are going to lose their grip on the mud back there and fall, or maybe a hell mouth will open up and demons will walk out. Either situation will lead to more work for me.

Grandpa was going to fly in for Christmas, he only comes for visits of 2-3 days (that includes flight days so he was arriving on the 24th and leaving on the 26th - why bother? And it was like God got the memo cause 4 hours before we were going to pick him up at the airport he called to say he couldn't make it. I was angry that he was visiting for such a short amount of time, then oddly didn't really care when he canceled. Maybe that was because I knew it wasn't his fault that he wasn't going to make it - well not directly his fault but who travels on Dec 24th if they don't need too?!?

The up side to the wet weather - Binge watching Netflix!!  I am into Criminal Minds (which I had not watched before) and we are going through the comics based shows right now The Flash and Arrow.  I am a bit of a wimp so it is surprising that Criminal Minds doesn't leave me sleepless and whimpering in a corner. It is a scary look at the depravity of humanity, but wow I like the characters. Reid the young super genius is fun, and Morgan is nice eye candy. Hope your Yule is Merry and Bright!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Trying to settle in

I mean to write really I do, it seems all my great ideas occur in the shower and I don't have a computer or a note pad ready when I am wet and naked . . . .

It is Yule or here they call it Christmas :-). Kids settled in and spouse is enjoying his job, I do well in fits and starts. My Army wife duties are plenty here (don't get me wrong they don't make me do anything) and I like the ladies (no male spouses present yet) that are involved. The weather is as always a challenge for me, you see I like it cold and that doesn't happen here for example today is December 16th and the temperature range according to iPhone is 49 - 65. For me that is a nice fall day, but at least it is cold enough to put on pants, and even a light jacket if you wear short sleeves.

With the back to back to back moves I am having real trouble getting unpacked, at least that is the excuse I am using this year. I went from trying to get the house organized to just shove it all in a cupboard and decorate for the holiday. The Holiday I decorated for was Halloween, which I am happy to report did get put away, now I am trying to get Christmas out. It seems most of the Brigade planned on getting their events done in the first 2 weeks of December so it has been non-stop. Funny thing about that I really enjoy the actual social functions - it is just the pre-event doings that stress me. AND to make it worse I have gained 15 pounds - so clothes are tight and it is not cold enough to layer and hide the lumps UGH!!

Most of all I have confirmation that I am actually allergic to this place!! Wait, wait, -hear me out; I am back on Zyrtec and Singular daily and if I miss a dose I have trouble breathing the next day. My skin is a wreck it is really bad - all the facial scars I have were earned here as an adult, when I move away skin gets better (but not perfect I am a little shinny naturally). Eyes, and nose run all the time, I should have bought stock in Kleenex before we moved. And my ears itch, it is a really strange feeling and I am sure at some point I will jab something in there and cause an ER visit. All of this and it is winter, sorta I mean at least there shouldn't be new stuff blooming right?!? I have even started to try and track if rain helps to clear the air making breathing easier but that doesn't seem to work. In addition to whatever is causing the trouble I learned over the blistering heat of August that humidity makes it hard to breathe. Yup loving the 11 months of summer they have here!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Move

I wrote this with no preamble - so here goes. We got orders to leave Korea and move to Ft Rucker AL after only 11 months in Korea. That makes 3 moves for my family in 23 months. We have been to Ft Rucker before, 3x before to be exact and I hate it. You will learn all the reasons why as the posts pile up. Here is a bit about the actual move in July.

Ha-ha-ha you can't believe the fun. We were supposed to fly on 12 July and got to the Airport at 7am left Humphreys at 5am, our flight was set for 1135. The united desk opened at 840AM and we found out the dog and crate were 1kg over weight that is 2.4 lbs and the guy called the us 3x to get an exception to policy and they would not give it to us. In Korea they don't do pets so we had no way to get back to Humphreys, we had to call a soldier to bring the mail van to get us. Oh and the 12th was Sunday so no one at the airport could help us. To be overweight he needed to go as cargo and it takes them 10 days to process it, and the health certificates are only good for 10 days and our SOFA stamps were going to expire, plus we were living in a hotel with no car borrowing from people for everything. 

We went back to the Hump Sunday night and then on Monday redid paperwork and certificates, reworked the tickets, and found a lighter crate then shaved plastic off the crate all night Monday so we could fly on Tue. It must have terrified the guy at the counter when he came in and saw us again. Hemi was a great ambassador for large dogs having Koreans pet him all day Sunday and Tuesday - because the bus goes to the airport at 6am and our flight wasn't until 435pm (the pets can ride that one bus from Humphreys underneath with the luggage in their crates - Mooshu is in therapy). Our new flight went to SFO where you have to pick up everything go through customs then recheck everything even the pets to get back on the next flight to Reagan - they couldn't get us to Richmond because the dog crate would not fit on that plane. So we left the hotel then about 30 hours landed in VA and got to drive 2 hours to Richmond. Dad picked us up but we filled the mini van and an SUV, that we rented from Alamo. Longest day ever!!!!

Kids, pets, luggage all made it we rested for 4 days and drove down to Alabama. Because we still own the house in NC we have to rent here and the choices are so sad. The first place we saw I told Mike I would cry everyday if I had to live there. It only got slightly better; we wanted 2000+ sq ft, 4 bed, 2 bath (the idea is the 4th bedrm could be an office). After living in 1700 3/2 for the last 2 years I just want some room to be able to get away from each other. The houses that size have had all the life rented out of them and need SO MUCH work, better places go fast like before I even hear about them. We found a house for rent by owner but she is moving ahead of the service member so she doesn't have any real pressure to go - the school year starts on Aug 6 so with out a property management company to hold her accountable I am worried she wont leave fast enough.  Our saving grace on that, there are several properties that come on the market in August - but I can't register the kids with out an address. So much fun in my life.

AND 7 years didn't help this place much, there are more shops and places to eat but there aren't jobs and I just hate the heat it was 106 today (that is the index real temp was at 93). It is hard to find positives I feel like this is a huge case of deja vu, I have been burned here trying to find positives before and then none of it works out and I end up so fed up, and done I am just going to embrace the bitter rage and work with that :-) 

So once they work out the lease, get kids in school I get to fly to El Paso and drive Mike's car back - then I can try to find a job. Our stuff should arrive in September the van then too - right now we are using Mom's van. So I have some stuff to keep me busy for a few months before the depression sinks in :-)

Our house is on the market with no renter for now, we are going to carry that until September before we search for a renter again. Makes our budget really tight should be a couple of fun months. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Chusoek A Korean Harvest Festival

Chuseok is a 3 day harvest festival, celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar which usually falls around the Autumn Equinox. Although the exact origin of Chuseok is unclear, the tradition can be traced back to ancient religious practices that centered around the significance of the moon. The sun’s presence was considered routine, but the full moon that came once a month, brightening the dark night, and was considered a special and meaningful event. The celebration is to give thanks to the ancestors for a great harvest and to share the bounty with your family, friends, and neighbors. Over 35 million Koreans will travel to their ancestral home over the holiday, the roads get very busy and train tickets sell out. Families that live off of the Military base received gifts of fresh fruit from their land lords, a Korean  working at my husband's office gave us a Korean pear. Pears, apples, and fresh rice are part of the feast at Chuseok.

There are three different ceremonies preformed as part of Chuseok; Bulcho, Seongmyo, and Charye. Bulcho is when families visit the graves of ancestors and clear away weeds and debris as a sign of devotion and respect for your family it is done about a month before Chuseok, but can happen after. Seongmyo is the actual visiting of the grave site and it involves a bowing ceremony. Charye is done at the home in front of an altar of food offered to the ancestors on the morning of Chuseok. Traditional Korean belief is that when people die they watch over their families for four generations, during this time they are seen as part of the family and the relationship is reaffirmed on special days. The ceremonies are to show appreciation and respect for the ancestors, who return to enjoy the holiday food prepared for them.

As with any ritual the setting of the altar space is important, I will share what I have found to be general rules please note that each region has some variables. For example in a Buddhist home spicy vegetables (garlic, chives, spicy peppers) would be avoided because it is believed that they disturb the spirits. A screen is placed to the north, with an altar/table before it. The spirits will visit from the north and enjoy their feast from behind the screen. On the north side of the table a wooden tablet (wipae) used to hold a paper (jibang) with the name, title, and place of origin of the ancestor written vertically in black. Sometimes the wipae is not used.  This is the honored place for that ancestor and as food is placed out it should be set so that the departed can eat from this position. Here is an example made all in wood.

The food is prepared to be beautiful, fresh, and taste wonderful. You want to serve your ancestors the best you have to offer. Special lacquered dishes are used to present the food which should be stacked tall and symmetrically. Food is arranged with the red foods to the east and white foods to the west, and each row is as follows; southern most row is dessert type goods so fruits, cakes, and cookies (what the ancestor would eat last); next row side dishes, vegetables, Kimchi, salted and fermented fish dishes, dried fish goes here too; next row toward the screen  is for soup there could be as few as 3 kinds or as many as 7 and a dish of soy sauce for seasoning, next are the meats - fish should have its head which points east and the back of the fish toward you so it is ready to be served to the honored guest; closest to the screen the main dish in Korean cuisine, that means rice, rice cakes and soup here there should be as many rice bowls as there are ancestors being honored. Pile the rice on high so it looks like a mound is sticking out of the bowl.

There are several traditional foods, I have copied their description from wikipedia;

One of the major foods prepared and eaten during the Chuseok holiday is songpyeon (송편),a Korean traditional rice cake which contains stuffing made with healthy ingredients such as sesame seeds, black beans, mung beans, cinnamon, pine nut, walnut, chestnut, jujube, and honey. When making songpyeon, steaming them over a layer of pine-needles is critical. The word “song”(송) in songpyeon means a pine tree in Korean. The pine needles not only contribute to songpyeon’s aromatic fragrance, but also its beauty and taste[11][12] Songpyeon is also significant because of the meaning contained in its shape. Songpyeon’s rice skin itself resembles the shape of a full moon, but once it wraps the stuffing, its shape resembles the half-moon. Since the Three Kingdoms era in Korean history, there was a Korean legend saying that these two shapes ruled the destinies of the two greatest rival kingdoms, Baekje and Silla. During the era of King Uija of Baekje, an encrypted phrase, “Baekje is full-moon and Silla is half moon”, was found on a turtle’s back and it predicted the fall of the Baekje and the rise of the Silla. The prophecy came true when Silla defeated Baekje in their war. Ever since, Koreans started to refer to a half-moon shape as the indicator of the bright future or victory.[13] Therefore, during Chuseok, families gather together and eat half-moon shaped Songpyeon under the full-moon, wishing themselves a brighter future.[14] 

Another popular Korean traditional food that people eat during Chuseok is Hangwa. It is an artistic food decorated with natural colors and textured with patterns. Hangwa is made with highly nutritious ingredients, such as rice flour, honey, fruit, and roots. People use edible natural ingredients to express various colors, flavors, and tastes. Because of its decoration and nutrition, Koreans eat Hangwa not only during Chuseok, but also for special events, for instance, weddings, birthday parties, and marriages.[15] The most famous types of Hangwa are YakgwaYugwa, and DasikYakgwa is a medicinal cookie which is made of fried rice flour dough ball and Yugwa is a fried cookie that also refers as a “flower of Hangwa”. Dasik is a tea cake that people enjoy with tea. 

Back to ritual set up:

Note the small table in front of the first here you place the drinks (Soju, boiled rice water, water), an incense bowl filled with sand and a bowl of sand. The burning incense represents heaven and the bowl of sand earth. You need to call upon both to recall the ancestors, as their spirits float in heaven while their bodies are buried in earth. There should be two candles placed on the main table. Now you are ready for the ritual.

The ceremony is usually run by the eldest male in a family, but this is changing I found a wonderful blog by an American woman married to a Korean man here is her Chuseok blog: 

The Soul of Seoul, Chuseok

The ritual is held first thing in the morning. The family bathes and men wear suits, women a conservative dress or traditional hanbok. The table is set, open the door and welcome the spirits. The eldest male lights the incense. Then he bows head to floor 2 times then kneels. Everyone else bows head to floor 2 times then one bow from the waist.  Soju is poured in a cup held by second oldest, then poured out in the sand this is done in an order of three; some places say 3 cups, some say pour in 3 sections. This is to symbolize the ancestors descent to the offering table. The next cup is poured then circled in the smoke 3 times then placed for spirits to drink. Each of the male family members makes a wine offering. Chopsticks are tapped on the table 3 times then placed on a dish, a spoon is placed in the rice, the concave part faces east, repeat for each spirit. Once the table is set everyone leaves for a few minutes for the spirits to eat in peace, then you return. When multiple generations are being honored the process can be repeated for each generation. Bow three times again replace soup bowl with water bowl, place 3 spoons of rice in water, cover dishes and discard wine. Bow 2 times and say goodbye, then the jibang (paper with name) is burned in the incense bowl. Clear the food to a table in another room to be enjoyed by everyone. 

Here is a blog that goes into great detail on the Korean Jesa, a ritual to honor the deceased. 

Ask A Korean, How to Hold Jesa

Different forms of this ancestor honor ritual are held 3 times a year; Chuseok, Lunar New Year, and an individual ceremony at midnight on the death day of the person. 

I hope you found the information on this ritual as interesting as I did, if you are interested in trying your own ritual I highly suggest reading the Ask A Korean blog he goes into great detail.