Saturday, October 30

On Our Way Home!

This is a picture from a road we crossed in China to get to a factory where we have a few boxes stored. The taxi we were in had to stop here instead of take us all the way to our destination. When we returned down the same road later, they had filled in enough dirt to let cars pass.

We had a great month (extended a week longer than we originally intended) in China and beyond and are now waiting just another two hours in Seoul for our flight to LA!

Saturday, October 23


My friend J and I went on a walk together like we used to do behind the university the first Saturday I was here.  There's a little rural village back there.  We saw this mound of potatoes in one yard - so many potatoes!  And, an old mattress spring for a gate.  Awesome.

Planning on leaving tomorrow morning for another trip in.  I feel privileged to join the team again.  Colin will finish up his job and I'll be there for moral support.  Looking forward to it, but definitely going to take a long hot shower and have at least two more cups of real coffee here just before we go!

on the mountain

I loved getting to see where the wind turbines are and see Colin at work!  My guide didn't want to leave the mountain without Colin. 
He said he wanted the "VIP" in his car. 

Still not sure whether we're leaving tomorrow or not.  I'm betting we're not, but am waiting for Colin's return to talk to him about options.

Friday, October 22


I found out today that I've been accepted to be a vendor at the Renegade Holiday Craft Fair in LA on December 11th and 12th! 
I'm surprised, excited, and a little nervous about making enough things to sell. 
We were supposed to fly back tomorrow, but Colin is needed longer here.  However, the dates we need to change to are all full. 
We need your prayers to get a flight back on the 29th or 30th!

Thursday, October 21

at the friendship house

I loved it when this girl took my arm for the picture.  It was one of my favorite moments of the trip.

extravagant lunches as a tourist

My driver had to teach me how to eat the crab with hands and chopsticks. 

Wednesday, October 20

more views from the other side

From in front of the hotel and the beach.

views from the other side

In front of an old style house preserved in a village, with red peppers drying on the porch.
A childrens' performance (at a kindergarten) that was amazing.

Thursday, October 14

The Park

Colin came back to Yanji for the weekend and we got to visit the newly renovated park.  They actually have flowers there and it's a pretty nice place to walk around.  In one spot they had kids running like little hamsters inside these plastic inflatable things. It looked pretty fun!  And we were surprised to see a poster that we assume is about global warming.  Since I don't read much Chinese, I can't translate it - maybe someone who comes across this blog can?

I get to join Colin in a country that I've never been to tomorrow!  I'm both excited and a little nervous.  I'm going on a tour to the area where he's working and I'll get to see other companies and things that are scheduled on the tour.  I'll be back in touch next week!

Wednesday, October 13

Apartment Gardening

I love how people who have spare dirt in front of their apartments will just use it for a tiny garden.  (I have a new appreciation for it now that we are gardeners.)
There's no connection between that and the trash collecting carts at an intersection.

Tuesday, October 12

Door to Nowhere / Walk to Nowhere

I'm not sure what the plan was for this door.  I wonder if it opens from the inside?

The other pic (I'm not sure how these are posting with the words since I'm posting by email) is of the exercise and playground equipment in front of the apartment we're staying at.  They have these walking machines that are like the non electric versions of treadmills, but I think it's doubtful that they actually provide exercise.

Monday, October 11

Clean Campaign

These recycle and trash cans are common to see around the city now.  It's a big improvement over the last time I was here when there were never any trash cans to be found.  These don't seem to be reducing the amount of trash on the streets yet, but I guess that is a learned process.  I love the English translation of why the recycle cans are there. 

Drying Peppers

These peppers are drying in the window of a pharmacy.  Everywhere we go people have vegetables laying out to dry.

Sunday, October 10

Two views from my window

It amazes me what these little tiny "cars" can carry - this one, a sign that's at least three times as long as the car itself.

I'm staying with a family who lives in an apartment overlooking the river, on the 18th floor!  Sometimes in the morning the fog/smog is so thick we can't see the other side. 

China pics!

A new storefront in Yanji - Sutarbucks!  Ha!

And one of the Yanji treats (that usually makes my stomach feel a little off the next day, but is worth it)...chuar! 

Thursday, October 7

Running Parallel

I was drawn to read this story in the New York Times this morning because of the pictures.  His creations are marvelous.  Then I noticed his way of interacting with his wife and son:
After nearly two decades of practice, Mr. Dougherty has honed his homecoming strategy. "I start a few days before by getting Linda and Sam in my current and immediate thoughts," he said. "That helps me remember that they are practiced in living without me. When I walk in the door, I have to give them a little space to adjust to my presence. My basic tendency would be to come barreling in. I try to wait a beat before I turn on the volume. I feel like I have to run parallel to them for a couple of hours before the pressures readjust."

 I don't know if this is how Colin would describe changing his mind from work to home, but it seems like it might be.  I find it hard to swallow sometimes that my husband has to put me in his immediate thoughts, because that's somewhere that I would like to be all the time.  However, I realize that in some cases, it's a blessing for him to have that male mind that can keep things to think about in separate compartments instead of all running on the same screen like they do in mine. 

When this guy from the article talks about giving his family space, it makes me wonder if he is just doing it so that they can adjust to him being the center while he's there.  That they have to adjust to his presence instead of him adjusting to theirs seems a little off balance.  Still, I appreciate the way he has apparently come to understand that an adjustment is necessary. 

With Colin gone this week, and me unsure of when he'll return, I find myself tempering the desire for him to be back because I don't want to be disappointed.  I do this in other situations as well - lowering my expectations for fear they won't be fulfilled.  It leads me to withdrawing, which is unhealthy.  It seems that life is too short to have to "run parallel."

Wednesday, October 6

keeping busy

I feel uninspired to write without a picture to post alongside, but I'm going this afternoon to go through the boxes of stuff we have stored at a friend's factory.  Colin and I both left China thinking we would be back within a few months, but those months for both of us turned into a few years for both of us.  So we have things stored here - some of which we remember and some of which we will probably be surprised to find.  One of the things I hope to find is the cord that connects my little travel camera to my computer.  

In my free time here, I've read a friend's novella, studied Korean, explored the neighborhood, applied for the Renegade Holiday Fair in Los Angeles, listed new things on my handmade etsy site, created a treasury on etsy, and met up with old friends.  I'm already starting to wonder when Colin will get back, but I'm trying to be patient!

Tuesday, October 5

Back in China for a few weeks!

We got to our destination in China Saturday around noon, with a lovely
welcome at the airport from our former teammates who were holding up a
sign "Welcome back Mr. and Mrs. Thorne!" We were eased in on Sunday
evening with a pizza buffet at the Western restaurant that some
friends own. Sunday we got to catch up with more people and I was
really happy to have a rainy day since we haven't seen rain for quite
a while in California.

Yesterday I left a few things to get altered at my old seamstress, had
yang rou chuar (lamb on a stick cooked on a fire in front of you) with
some friends and explored some of the new shopping options. Things
here change so quickly!

Colin left today for another city where he's working (if you don't get
our newsletter, send me an email). So, I'm on my own for the rest of
the week, but I'm blessed to get to stay with a family that has a huge
apartment overlooking the river. I'm super spoiled here because they
also have an espresso machine that dispenses at the push of a button.
I'm living it up!

Pictures to come as soon as I find the cord that connects my camera to
my computer!

Friday, October 1

Notes from the plane

After a hurried day of too many last minute errands, we were whisked off to the airport by some friends, boarded a plane and have landed in Seoul, an airport with free wi-fi. Just about an hour left until we board the plane for China!

With a personal TV screen where I can choose the movies and even fast forward, pause, and reverse them, even a long flight to the other side of the world goes by so quickly. I chose Sex and the City 2, The Backup Plan, and most of I Am Love (the last watched in Korean with English subtitles in a half-hearted attempt to get some listening practice).

The lady behind me has no regard for the fact that she bumps the back of my chair often. At first, because I'm irritated by the strains of the day, this bothers me and I consider giving her a look. I then decide that it won't bother me until she starts to poke my elbow when she puts her toes on the armrest. I retaliate to this by sliding my elbow a little further back.

After a dinner of bibimbap (the surprisingly good meal that Korean Air is known for), a movie and some good sleep, I wake up to find a snack size Three Musketeers bar in my shoe. I think that Colin put it there for me until I also find a half consumed ring pop stuck to my sock and realize these treats have been dropped by the 5 year old girl in front of me. Colin later wakes up to an unopened yogurt in his shoe and we feel like we've been visited by a Dutch Santa.

We disembark and find our gate, which is just next to a Starbucks. Colin fishes out some leftover Korean money he's been saving to fund my last latte for a while. The coins and bills he hands me used to be a normal part of life here but now feel odd. I speak to the Starbucks guy in my simple Korean, though, to mark this first step back into my foreign world.