Tuesday, April 25

many bad hair days in the forecast

I got my hair permed yesterday. Yes, I have gone crazy. I think it's part of this mid-life crisis thing. I went with a friend. I have never wanted to perm my hair. Not since the third grade, at least, when I had my last perm. I usually don't even think perms look good on people. I've prided myself in not spending money on hair, so I've never even colored it. So, I must be going crazy, or something worse. I won't spend much time lamenting, because it was my bad decision, but I went in for a perm and they called in the head guy (probably because I'm a foreigner, but I'm not sure). He said something in Korean like "Do you want me to just do what I think is best?" and, since I didn't really know what else to tell him (and wasn't sure what I really wanted anyhow), I told him OK. So, he proceded to give me bangs and a drastic layer cut. I can summarize my new look for you without a picture:
I should have stuck to what I learned from the last bad perm in third grade.
If I wanted to look younger (as in I never left the 80's), I have succeeded.
It's much better to just repent of pride in not doing unnatural things to your hair rather than show yourself and others by messing with it.

Monday, April 24

i could post more snow pictures,

but I won't. It snowed again on Sunday afternoon, on into the night, and was beautiful, but not as spectacular as the last one, so I didn't take any new pictures for you. It melted pretty quickly yesterday and now it's back to relatively warm and sunny skies! Saturday it was so warm that I went downtown in only a long sleeved t-shirt and jeans...this weather is so confusing, but kinda fun anyhow.

The weekend flew by and was so packed with stuff that I was glad for the week to start again. I had three students over for breakfast on Saturday. I asked what time they wanted to come over and they agreed on 8 am. I didn't tell them until later, but I was thinking that 8am on a Saturday was pretty early. They told me later it was early for them too, but they thought they should come early for breakfast. I then taught them the idea of brunch and that it's OK to have a late breakfast on the weekends. Anyhow, it was good for me to get an early start. I made them breakfast casserole, apricot white chocolate scones, and homemade granola. I don't know if they really appreciated it, but I sure enjoyed it. I think they mostly appreciated the real coffee.

Saturday afternoon, I went shopping, bought myself some roses, veggies for dinner, and other stuff. It was a beautiful day. I got back just in time to get the beans on to cook for dinner at five. I made my own ranchero sauce for beef enchiladas (with corn tortillas and pepper jack cheese from home), beans and mexican rice. It was pretty tasty. I had three Koreans over and another teacher from the English office to help with conversation since my Korean needs some support. I also made a super yummy chocolate caramel cake. It was all received well, and even though it took a lot of time to make, it was worth it.

I had another group over for tea, coffee, and the rest of the apricot scones on Sunday afternoon. It's good to get all your invitations done in one weekend, I think, because I got to use leftovers and kept my room in order the whole weekend. I sure had to do a lot of dishes over and over though.

Now we're in the middle of speaking tests for the midterm, so that makes for a busy week. This Friday, we're going to Dalian, a city on the coast, for our five day May holiday. I'm very ready for some down time on the train and time away from school!

Wednesday, April 19

I know i'm sounding like a broken record...

but we had the most amazing snow last night! Light snow started in the morning and continued most of the day, and then into the night, so this morning we woke up to the most snow we've had at one time this year! I wore my boots, hat, and gloves so I could walk outside to the office to experience it. The others thought I was a little off to walk outside in it when I don't have to, but it was fun and I got better pictures that way.
Everyone says this weather isn't normal. I guess since Yanji is usually pretty dry in the winter, it's hard to get such a beautiful snow, but now that "spring" is coming, we have enough moisture to make it happen. It was up to my knees and it has snowed even more since then. I think this is the most snow I've ever experienced at one time! It's starting to feel like Christmas again...like I should make some gingerbread cookies or something.

Monday, April 17

a nice weekend

We got a nice surprise on Easter morning...snow! I know, I've posted about a million pictures of snow on this site, but I can't help it. Snow makes for the best pictures. Actually, Saturday night it was raining up until about 11 and then it turned into snow (or so I hear... I was really surprised to see the snow on Sunday morning!). We were very excited to see rain, because that's a sign of spring, whereas snow sure doesn't conjure up images of spring...

It made for a fun walk down to the valley where we meet on Sunday mornings. These are two ladies who were making sure they didn't slip. I got out my new waterproof hiking boots for the trek.

The weather here is actually quite fickle these days. (I just learned the Korean word for fickle and it's a fun one to use.) On Saturday, I barely even needed a jacket. I went shopping with a new teacher to show her the fruit, vegetable, and meat markets. It was kinda fun to be on the showing end. It was just a few months ago that people were having to show me! (Actually, I still have to be shown a lot of things.) I can now understand when people ask me what country I'm from (and give them a real full sentence answer), but I'm not capable of much more than that in Chinese. In the meat market, we bought our chicken breasts (to get that accomplished, I say the word for chicken, then point to that part of the body... I'm sure that's a funny picture for you!) and we bought a slab of beef. We had taken it over to a different corner of the market to get it ground and the lady behind the counter was asking us some questions. She asked us where we were from, and we told her in Chinese. Then, she was asking us some other stuff we didn't know. We finally asked her if she spoke Korean (you're lucky if you get someone at the market who does) and she did! So, we figured out what she was asking. She was asking if we could understand each other when we speak (the friend is from England). We laughed and told her that yes, we usually can.

We were buying all this meat for a mini Tex-Mex night! I brought back some tortillas and cheese from home, so my other Texan friend and I decided to cook up some meat and make some other stuff to put in the tortillas. I had some taco seasoning for the ground meat and she had a can of refried beans. Something that's so simple at home is really an exciting evening in China. We had a few people over to her house (she has an actual table and chairs in her room) and had a lovely little dinner.

Tuesday, April 11

squid and smoking

Yummy 오징어 (squid) on a stick outside of the supermarket downtown. It's only 1 yuan (12 cents) per stick!
A market in town where you can buy all kinds of used furniture, pets, bedspreads, and plants. I bought a big, beautiful kalanchoe at the plant market there for only 10 yuan and I didn't have to bargain for that price!

I took a picture because it says no smoking on the red sign, but it's an outdoor market and there's no way they're going to stop people from smoking there. I didn't get it in the picture, but there were people smoking near the sign. Even on buses that have a big no smoking sign over the driver's seat, the driver often smokes.

spring: slow, but coming

I get an e-mail from my Dad that says they're already in their last month of the spring semester. I see pictures in a weekly newsletter I get from Korea (and on Korean TV) of the spring blossoms that are out. And I feel behind. We don't have any spring blossoms yet that I have noticed, we still need to wear a coat most of the time, and we're just barely to the halfway point of our semester.

I took a walk yesterday though, because I didn't have time to go to the gym, and I noticed a few more spring-like features. The farmers who live behind our school were working. Most of them were doing some sort of preparation of their fields. One was burning down extra dry brush and two couples were plowing their fields to get ready for planting. There are no fancy tractors on these farms. They use a cow with a contraption that it pulls behind it. The contraption is a wooden plank with something sharp at intervals on the bottom. It hits the ground and breaks it up. I was watching this as I walked by and kept thinking it was going to fall apart every time it hit. There was someone in the front to lead the cow and someone in the back to hit the cow with a stick to get it to go faster. Pretty fancy, huh?

I walked past a group of cute, dirty little lambs snacking, mangy cows resting or meandering across the road, and a few dogs who watched me pass. The houses still have their red banners around the doors welcoming in the lunar new year (it was at the end of January), but the banners are faded and peeling off now. There are no more ice patches on the road or in the low places in the fields. It was cool because of the wind, but the sun was shining and it was a pleasant walk. The day I came back from (comparatively) warm Korea, it snowed here in Yanji. It was a nice, soft, long snow that lasted a few days. That was two and a half weeks ago and it's snowed a few more times since, but melted quickly.

I found Granny Smith apples today at a new store. They had American looking stickers. Do you think they were really from America? I don't know, but the one I ate this morning was so good. As I asked about the price (just over a dollar for half a kilo), the guy encouraged me to buy them. He said they were really tasty. He was right. Yay for slow signs of spring and Granny Smith apples!

Sunday, April 9

i want to be...

  • generous
  • someone who doesn't pack so much that i have to hope for a nice lady at the ticket counter to let the overweight baggage through without a fee
  • a wife
  • a mom
  • someone who speaks Korean confidently even if I make mistakes
  • a good friend, even to those people who can't be a good friend to me
  • humble
  • funny
  • someone who can tell when others need to talk
  • someone who knows the right words to say

and a lot more...that's just a short list

Sunday, April 2


I might be going through an early mid-life crisis or something. I didn't feel the need to rearrange my room at all last semester, and even at the beginning of this semester, when others were rearranging their rooms, I thought I had mine in the best arrangement. But, in the past three weeks, I've rearranged my room at least three times. This weekend, though, I made a major move. I moved my massive wardrobe by myself. I just did it in the middle of the day on Saturday an hour or two before I had to be somewhere else. It was a mistake. My shoulder is hurting and I think the old arrangement really was the best, but I'm certainly not going to empty that thing and move it again.

I really should paint my room, because the walls are dirty in spots. When I try to wipe it clean, the paint actually comes off. But, if I were to get it painted, I'd have to move furniture again, and I don't want to do that. I don't know how much longer I'll be in this room, so I don't want to invest too much time or money into it.

The good thing about moving things around in my room often is it keeps the dust bunnies to a minimum. I have to clean the floor and reorganize every time I move something, so my place is pretty clean except for the one pile of stuff that has yet to find a drawer.

The bad thing about moving is that I didn't get any language study done over the weekend, but I do have tonight free, so I'm gonna try to get caught up! Yea for Mondays, my one free night!