Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pictures from Hong Kong

Oh the Fire Dragon. What was supposed to be a huge dragon supported by tons of people turned out to be a dragon made of burning incense carried by about 20 people. Now that I think about it, a grand feat, but at the time such a let down.

Part of an art display we noticed. The kid was cute too.

If you look closely you will notice this is the image of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They were in a building lobby and totally took me by surprise. There was no reason for them to be there. I just had to take a photo.

The knight in shining armor I met while having lunch at an AMAZING Spanish restaurant. I had to go all the way to Hong Kong to experience tapas, go figure.

The view of the Hong Kong skyline from our hotel room.

While in Hong Kong I bought a camera. Here are pictures from my last day in Honk Kong.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


China has been wonderful. Aside from the fact that I was unable to log onto my Facebook account or my blog while I was in China proper I greatly enjoyed my stay. The hotel we stayed in was the nicest hotel I have stayed in to date. The room was spacious, the bed soft, and I could watch tv while taking a bath.

Here is a snapshot of my time in Guangzhou
Day 1 - Traveled, arrived, checked into the hotel, had authentic Chinese food for lunch (chicken with peppers), a "foot" massage that turned out to be feet, arms, legs, head, and back massage plus a spinal adjustment, drinks in the lounge while watching college football, authentic Chinese food for dinner (pork, mushrooms, and bamboo) bed.

Day 2 - Buffet breakfast that offered sushi (not that I had any), conference with an instructor that was hard to follow, buffet lunch with lots of Asian choices, conference that turned very boring, trip into the city that ended with dinner at Spaghetti House where I had pizza, drinks again in the lounge while watching MLB baseball.

Day 3 - Buffet breakfast, conference at the host school - still boring, lunch of nothing special, end of the conference, an hour of reading while in a hammock above the pool, room service for dinner.

Day 4 - Leisurely morning, packed up and checked out, buffet lunch, flight through a typhoon to Hong Kong.

As it is time to get ready to go out in Hong Kong I will leave you with that and update in more detail later. Life is good.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Water Aerobics

This morning I woke up in enough time to join the water aerobics class held at the pool. I hobbled down to the pool, half asleep wondering what it would be like. I was the first to arrive after the instructor and the life guard. I picked up the equipment it looked like we would need and mentally prepared for my first bout of exercise in 5 weeks. I was excited and nervous. The instructor directed me to the deep end where the class would be held. With the assistance of a floating device water aerobics in the deep end is awesome. Virtually no pressure on my still broken foot. The instructor had pins removed from one of her legs about two weeks ago, so she knew my hesitations. More folks filtered in and we were off and going. 45 minutes later I felt a little tired but happy to have made the effort. As fast as I could I made my way home and got ready for school. At the start of school (3 hours ago) I was full of energy as I usually am after being in a pool. Now I am ready for my after pool nap. I am glad I went and I am looking forward to going again after Chu-Sok.

One day to China

Tomorrow I leave for China. So, instead of getting my sub plans ready, packing, grading papers, or even prepping for my next class I am updating my blog. Figures.

After much wonder the details are coming together for my trip. Misty and I arranged to have a taxi pick us up at 5:30am to take us to the bus stop where we hope to catch the next bus to the airport. Our goal is to make it to the airport by 7:00am for our 8:50am flight.

We will arrive in China 3 hours later where we will take a shuttle to our hotel. As the conference doesn't start until Saturday morning we pondered what to do with our Friday afternoon. One look at the pictures of the hotel pool solved that problem. If the weather is nice you will find us at the pool, lounging.

Two days of workshop fun about Understanding by Design and a 4th day in Science City (must be a great place) then Misty and I will head to Hong Kong. We have our flight arranged, a room booked, and tour books to look through. My students told me I should shop and sleep for the three days I am there. I figure Misty and I will find a few more touristy things to do while there. The one thing we have decided is a MUST is the nightlife. I feel it has been months since going out for a night on the town, so I am ready to enjoy one (responsibly.)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rebecca 0, caramel disaster 2

Today, Sunday, has been relaxing and productive. I woke up, read part of my book, went to Mass, then headed down the hill for coffee. Being able to move around easier I am determined to get off the hill every weekend. I was just beginning my descent when I was offered a ride which I gladly accepted. I had an iced coffee at Paris Baguette and stopped at the grocery store where I finally remembered to buy aluminum foil and plastic wrap among other things. I got the ingredients to make my own salsa and hoped to find a reasonably priced blender at the black market. The two blenders I saw were way overpriced so I said no thanks, grabbed a taxi and went home. I tidied up my place, had a nice long shower, and then ventured to make a few things. The salsa turned out great (I used a neighbors blender). I was unsure about the heat of the peppers I used, but it was just right for me. I had enough salsa to freeze some, give some away, and have some for this week. I also tried to make caramel sauce again. The last batch was bitter, this batch is too runny. Perhaps the third time will be better.

The highlight of my day was receiving an e-mail from on of my SKHS students. I am enjoying my new students, but I miss knowing how my former students are doing. She said several SKHS folks were keeping up with my blog, which made me happy. I only request that you let me know how you are doing too. Comments are welcome, e-mails are great, letters are better.

A touch of the Yellow Sea

Friday night through Saturday night was the faculty retreat. The retreat was held at the school's beach lodge on the Yellow Sea. I was excited about going and being able to swim in the Yellow Sea. This time I packed my swimsuit and was ready to use it. We left school around 5:00pm on Friday afternoon and arrived at the beach lodge around 8:30. We had a great dinner, some praise and worship, then the first of our sessions from Libby Stephens. Libby was speaking to us about transitions and TCK's (third culture kids.) It was good, but a long day. After the session ended around 10:30pm I went to my cabin and prepared for bed. A lot of the folks stayed up and socialized, but I was too worn out from the week. I went to bed around 11pm but didn't sleep well and was up for the day around 6:00am on Saturday. I debated what I would do at that early hour and decided to put my swim suit on and head to the beach. Now, to this point it had been raining for at least 15 hours. When I was preparing to go the rain had turned to a sprinkle. It was high tide so the water was partially up the walk way and I knew I would have little trouble getting to it. I invited two of the other girls in my cabin to go with me and off we went. Just as we arrived at the water (about 4 minutes after we left the cabin) the rain started again. I hobbled down to the water, and let the Yellow Sea wash over my good foot for about a minute. During this time the rain started to pour all of us got soaked, even though we had umbrellas. We made our way back to our cabin, wet, but content.

The rest of the morning flew by and the formal part of the retreat was over by 11:15am. At this point the rain had stopped, and it was brighter outside. I wouldn't go so far as to say the sun was shining, but at least some of the clouds had moved on. The tide had also gone out, so the water was about 50 ft farther from the shore than when I went out earlier in the morning. Apparently this beach has one of the biggest difference in high tide and low tide. I made the trip to the beach again, except this time I walked out quite a distance and enjoyed the feel of the sand beneath my good foot. After my second time at the beach that day we had lunch. After lunch there was talk of doing a number of things. I ended up joining the group that went to get coffee. It was a hike, but nice to chat with some other young teachers. Upon my return to the lodge I was informed that several folks were going to pack up and head to the train station in hopes of catching an earlier train home. The school had provided busses to being people back to the school, but the bus was scheduled to leave at 6:00pm and we ended up on a train that left at 4:00pm. The extra two hours were worth the W17,000.

As with most retreats I got home and was exhausted. I did nothing for a while then realized that I could add a feature to Skype where I would be able to call my friends and family from my computer. I took advantage of this and spoke to most of my family and friends before going to bed. It was just what I needed.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Shoe shopping!

Today I purchased a shoe. That's right, a single shoe, and probably the most expensive shoe I have ever purchased.

I had my hard cast removed today and after several x-rays and waiting it was replaced with a soft cast/walking cast. It is big, black, hot, and removable. I am so happy to have the ability to shower with ease. The ability to walk fully on both feet is something I hope I never take for granted again. As I sit in the science office and listen to the rain that is falling, I am thrilled with the idea of actually carrying an umbrella. For the last month I have dreaded going anywhere in the rain, now I can hold an umbrella as I no longer have to use crutches.

My new shoe came just in time for Back to School Night. 10 minutes to introduce myself and my course to the parents of my students. So far 8 of 23 students have been represented. Three more sessions to go, then I am headed home to unwind, shower, and pack for the beach. Yea!

PS - tomorrow I might throw caution to the wind and swim some laps.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Once a Crusader always a Crusader....Go Gators?

As an elementary student at Most Holy Redeemer I proudly wore red and white and called myself a Crusader.

As a high school student at Chamerberlain it was was green and gold as a Chief (very p.c.)

As a college student it was great to be a Gator in orange and blue.

Graduate school and my first teaching job we were Gators although different colors.

Today I have started to cheer for the Crusaders once again. As a school we wore our colors today and my classes were filled with black, red and white. It is different yet familiar.

I am recalling the phrase my new principal said at the start of the year during a memorial service for a student that passed over the summer. The phrase is, "Once a Crusader, always a Crusader." Granted this is my first time as an SFS Crusader the sentiment applies.

Sporting events are similar here, except that I am now watching the boys varsity volleyball team. At the start and end of the games the players bow to each other which is new but makes a lot of sense. I hope that living on campus will make it easier to attend the student events.

I may be saying "Go Crusaders!" now, but in my heart I know that:
The University of Florida is in Gainseville,
but the Gator Nation is everywhere.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Nick Tahou's almost

Tonight I made a dinner that resembles a garbage plate from Nick Tahou's. Baked fries, onions, and smoked sausage. Tasty, and slightly less un-healthy than the original. Good thing I had a salad for lunch and yogurt for breakfast.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

On my own

This morning marked a first for me. I went out into Seoul on my own, mostly. I got up early, made a list and headed down the hill to catch a taxi. A couple from the high school stopped and gave me a ride down the hill, which saved me a lot of time and energy.

The next thing I had to do was catch a taxi to the World Cup Stadium which has Home Plus in it. The first two taxis did not understand me, the third did so off I went. (Note to self, learn more Korean.) For a point of reference, Home Plus is similar to an old Super Wal-Mart. It is actually owned by Tesco for those folks out there that are English. It is open 24 hours, and the first time I went it was a mad house. I struggled to get through all of the people that were out shopping on a weeknight. I hoped I would have better luck on a Sunday morning, and I was right. There were very few people there so I was able to hobble around and gather what I wanted.

My students are doing experiments this week and needed a variety of things from the grocery store so I tried to find them. I struggled to find whole milk. I found the milk easily, but whole milk - I didn't know what to look for in Korean. I found the milk that had the most calories and decided that would have to do.

I somehow managed a box of potatoes, three bags of groceries and my crutches, found a taxi and made it home a little tired, but with a sense of accomplishment. I got everything into my apartment (thanks to my buddy's help) and to 10:00am Mass. Now as I sit her tired from my full morning I am looking around my kitchen and living area an noticing what a mess it is.

I go to the doctor on Thursday to have my cast off, another X-Ray and to hear what the doctor has to say. I am hoping that I won't need another hard cast, I just don't want to go another two weeks with such limited mobility. I have had enough and hope that the absence of pain in my foot is an indication that a hard cast is not needed anymore. I would like to have a shower with both feet on the ground.

On a positive note, my left leg has never looked so defined.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ropa vieja on the roof

Last night the ladies of D-Dong (my apartment building) had a potluck dinner on the roof. I had never been up there and was pleasantly surprised. There are clothes lines, lights, and a storage space with tables and chairs. There were also puddles and a lot of leaves, but it was nice. I brought ropa vieja that I had started in my crockpot in the morning. It was a little dry, but had good flavor. The other ladies brought drinks, pasta salad, tossed salad, deviled eggs, Korean pancake with squid on it, corn pudding, sweet potato and apple casserole, chips and salsa, and chocolate cake. We sat around eating from plates in our laps and listening to French music. It was good to touch base and to hear what the returning teachers have to say. Of the current residents, 3 are returning and 6 are new. It appears that we will have a recently hired addition to our building. A fellow was hired to help out at the pool and he will be moving into one of the first floor apartments. Hmmm....a single guy, they are rare here. We also set up our next dinner which may be a cookout.

I received confirmation of my flights for my trip to China. I will be flying from Seoul to Guangzhou, Guangzhou to Hong Kong, and Hong Kong back to Seoul. Now Misty and I are putting together the rest of our plans. Hopefully we will have a hotel booked this weekend. She and I are thinking along similar lines, shopping, sightseeing, and a spa. A vacation in September, odd but exciting.

The icky part of my day was realizing that my entryway had a mold issue. I store all of my shoes in my entry way and I had no idea they were the perfect place for growing mold as I have only been wearing the one sneaker. I pulled out my shoe rack and wiped down every pair of shoes I own with a kitchen cleaner. Now they are nicely lined up in my study to make sure they are completely dried before going into the shoe rack. I'm told this was the rainiest August in 100 years. I hope that the rain and humidity goes away soon so that I can put my shoes back where they belong without the threat of mold.

Today is a beautiful day and I am going to get off the hill. I don't know where I will end up (hopefully E-Mart or Home Plus) but I am going to get out and about for a while.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

ESP and typhoon Kompasu

Yesterday was not the best of days. I was worn out when I got home and then making dinner wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I was feeling behind with work and lacked the energy and time to feel that my efforts would make a difference. I plodded on anyhow. I eventually made and ate a nice dinner (simple sloppy joes, rice and baked fries - carb overload), cleaned my mess up, made my lunch for toady, made my bed, showered, and put in a few hours of work. I have been working only a few hours ahead of my kids and I was having trouble seeing the scope and sequence of my courses. It was like trying to get out of a forest. I was walking in a straight line from one point to another. I know I was making progress, but I had no idea what the big picture was.

I went to bed late and a bit deflated. I woke up late (5:45am) but mostly rested. I awoke to my foot throbbing in pain which is my new ESP telling me rain is here or coming. I looked outside and sure enough there was a RAGING storm. I rolled over and continued with my normal wake up routine: turn off alarm clock on my I-Pod, check my FaceBook and e-mail from bed using my IPod. While on Facebook I saw that another teacher mentioned an approaching typhoon. Hm....I glanced outside again, dragged myself to my computer and sure enough it was a typhoon I was experiencing, not just another storm.

I spent some more time looking at the weather radar, looking outside, and talking with my sister in SC. Eventually I got my act together and was on my way out the door around 7:00am. I had eaten breakfast and packed both lunch and dinner. Tonight was Back to School night and I didn't want to have to come home for dinner if it was storming. I had a bag on my cast and resolution to make this a good day. Just as my buddy and I were going to set off towards another day of impacting young people a teacher passing by told us that school was closed due to the typhoon. I would have jumped for joy if I wasn't broken. Several phone calls and e-mails later it was confirmed. Typhoon Day - schools are closed.

Immediately I changed into shorts and a t-shirt and created a to-do list. I didn't want to waste this precious gift of time. My list has 12 things on it, I have completed two of them in the 5 hours I have been "working". I also chatted with some friends on Skype, picked up my place a little, and had lunch. I might not get through my entire list, but I have worked out my year plan for one prep, and have roughly planned out the entire month of September for 2 of my 3 preps. I have made great strides and now feel like I am going to be able to give my students my best. I figure that I have about 4 more hours of productive time before I call it quits. In that time I will do a lot of the simple tasks on my to-do list.

God has provided, and I am thankful.