Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oh, Boy

I try to honor all the important boycotts: I hate greedy, soul-sucking corporations just as much as the next guy. Maybe even more! But I'm starting to have trouble keeping up with which evil behemoths torture animals, which ones fund terrorists, which ones hate gay people, which ones are chopping down the rainforest with reckless abandon, and which ones enslave their workers and use sneaky tricks to make it look like their prices are the lowest (cough cough, Wal-Mart, cough cough).

I looked at the list of products that Nestle, that baby-killing exploiter of the poor, makes money from, and Cheerios are on the list, people! Cheerios! Most of the items on the list present me no trouble: I can easily buy Hershey's chocolate chips instead of Tollhouse, for example. And while I'm talking about chocolate, you simply must know that I just read a fascinating book called The Emperors of Chocolate, about the Hershey and Mars companies. Just so you know, you can feel reasonably good about buying Hershey: at least at the writing of the book, the stock was controlled by the Hershey Foundation, which does fabulous things for thousands of orphans, including giving them outstanding prep school educations. So most of the profits gained by hosing chocolate farmers in poor countries and spewing out toxins go to orphans in New England so they can grow up to proudly carry on the corporate tradition, despite their unfortunate beginnings. Mars, on the other hand, is family-owned, and those people are just nuts. Oh yeah, sorry about the Amazon link to the book. They discriminate against gay people, you know. And as soon as I move away from this place where yellow slips in my mail box tell me I have a box of the retail joy that makes my life tolerable, I'll never shop there again. Sorry, gay people; catch you on the flip side.

But back to the Cheerios. I'm not sure I can live without Cheerios. Not for us, so much; we go through some serious quantities, but they are not necessary to our survival, say. But they are my sole successful technique for placating our little 11-month old neighbor. She comes over every week with her sister and brother because I swap childcare with her mom, and she LOVES me. Never before have I been any too popular with babies that aren't mine, so I'm pretty sure it's because I'm her Cheerio connection. I just sort of dump some around her and she's happy for HOURS. She doesn't eat a lot of other things yet, so it's not like I can just replace them with something else. She does eat bananas, but even I can see the folly of placing piles of bananas around a baby sitting on the carpet.

So, see? This is a real dilemma. What's more important: personal comfort or the greater good? I swear, the only place I can shop in good conscience these days is Etsy. Oh, and the thrift store, of course. Sure, it sells Spiderman watches that don't work, and never has a deinonychus colored shirt when I need one, but it's a small price to pay, don't you think?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Sometimes I really don't know what to write on here. Some days my thoughts are super boring, even to me, and it's exhausting to even imagine the drudgery involved in typing them out. But today, you lucky bastards, I woke up and thought, 'Hey! Everyone really needs to know what I think about Halloween!'

I don't really get Halloween. When I was little we didn't dress up or go trick-or-treating, so I don't have any 'Oooh, Halloween is super fun and my kids will shrivel up and die if they don't have the perfect costume and get a huge bag of candy!' angst that I project on them. One year when I was almost too old for trick or treating, I went out with my cousins, just because I had never done it. It really wasn't that fun. An old lady answered the door at one house with a notebook and took down everyone's name; maybe she thought she was Santa's henchwoman. Or maybe she actually was. In any event, that was my first experience with developing a false identity on the fly, although, sadly, not the last.

It sure seems like a lot of effort just to end up with a bag of candy. If you really want the candy, you could just buy the candy you want, sparing yourself the disappointment of having to paw through those crappy Laffy Taffies and Tootsie Rolls so you can get to the small handful of Hershey's Dark mini-bars and Smarties. Then what do you do with the lousy candy? Throw it away? There's starving children in Africa, man! Your leftover Tootsie Rolls could feed a family of seventeen for a week; if only they could have your cast-off sugar high and tooth decay. So, see? Wasteful.

We live in an apartment building with somewhere around a hundred apartments and at least twelve thousand kids, so trick or treating is a huge deal. The BX shovels the big bags of fun-size candy onto the sales floor with a dump truck, for real. Okay, fine, not really, but they totally should because it would save them a ton of work. This year, we are having a 'neighborhood' party with some of our hall-mates. Shane will be either Spiderman or Buzz Lightyear, and Weston is going to be a Deinonychus in a costume fashioned from a 12-24 month dragon Old Navy dragon costume and a thrift store Juicy Couture sweat suit. I had hoped to incorporate my growing supply of dryer lint, but Weston isn't as easy to fool as he once was. Fortunately, I have found a great use for the lint, you can check it out here. Don't worry, though, if you are coming to our Halloween party, you won't HAVE to donate your candy to starving children or play with lint from my dryer. But you totally can.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


So! The Stories from Korea are weak and boring this week, so I am stealing a clever idea from Swistle: Three Old Posts. The idea is to post links to three of your own old posts, so below are three of mine from days gone by. These are not necessarily my favorites; those are listed up on the upper right sidebar. These three just struck me today for one reason or another:

1. This morning, we went to the Ye Olde Korean Fishing Hole and came home by our old apartment, so here is one from shortly after we first got here. Back then, my blog was just a way to update family and friends instead of the literary brilliance it is today.

2. The pinecone one.

3. The one with the paint. This one has an update: we did eventually restore the walls to their original color. Today, the walls are are in exactly the same condition as they were before we undertook the whole painting fiasco. Maybe a little worse. Let that be a lesson to you.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Here are two conversations from this morning, free of any embellishment or commentary whatsoever:

Lloyd (getting shirt out of drawer): This shirt is dirty!
Me: So?
Lloyd: I can't wear this! It smells like underarms!
Me: What are you complaining about? It's a miracle any shirts even get into your dresser. You should be grateful. And if you don't want your dirty clothes and your clean clothes mixed up, you should put your dirty clothes in the laundry room, instead of on the floor where the clean clothes are.
Lloyd: I don't even know what to say to that.

Then, after Lloyd went to work in a huff, I was took a leisurely 30 second shower and came out to this:

Weston: Shhhhhh, you're okay. Want me to kiss it?
Me (picking up Shane): He sounds like he's really hurt, Weston. What happened?
Weston: Ummmm, we were playing.
Me: I see that. How did Shane get hurt?
Weston: Welllllllll, I hit him with this ('this' is a hollow, hard plastic tube, about 18 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter). On accident.
Me: Where did you hit him?
Weston: Ummmm, in the face. On accident. Twice.
Me: I see that this is too dangerous to have out; I'll have to put it away.
Weston: Why?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Today was Air Power Day here at Osan, and the big attraction was the Thunderbirds. It was a beautiful day, and a good time was had by all. Even the protestors for peace, who camped out by the front gate and had lunch while watching the show.

The Thunderbirds are a pretty big whoop a lot of places, but if you're reading this from Seattle or Pensacola, you might be a little too Blue Angel-centric to appreciate them. No matter, they don't care what you think. They really do put on a spectacular show, but I have to giggle a little about the autograph signing and meet and greets. I mean, seriously, you can't blow your nose around here without spattering boogers on a fancy pilot. Or at least a pilot who THINKS he or she is fancy. But I can assure you, pilots-who-think-they're-fancy leave their dirty tighty-whities in a crumpled pile on the floor, just like the teller at the bank and the mail carrier. Not that I would know, of course.

I apologize for the poor quality and short duration of my video; the show was a little late, it was past naptime, and Shane and Weston were obsessed with the bouncy castle. It was Shane's first experience with standing in line and waiting his turn, and it was more than slightly traumatic, causing my videography to suffer. If only the fancy pilot could operate the 'video' button on a Sony Cybershot as adroitly as he can execute a split S......

And, if flying isn't your thing, there was plenty of other stuff; Korean dancing, bands, and souvenir stands. The boys love their new inflatable T-bird jets. Interestingly, Burton Snowboards even had a pretty nice setup. The second video is a pretty standard example of traditional Korean entertainment, at least the Americanized version that we often see. Enjoy!

Monday, October 19, 2009


Here in Korea, we are constantly threatened by a cruel dictatorship. You probably know what I'm talking about: the ration control system. If you're lucky enough to live in the land of Target and drive-throughs, you will probably not have encountered such a thing. Here on an American oasis in the not-quite-right desert, ration control is the law of the land. Everyone gets a ration card, and when you buy something at the BX (general purpose store, similar to a lousy Wal-Mart), commissary (grocery store) or shopette (convenience store, liquor store and video rental store), your ID card gets scanned. Every tub of oxi-clean, every roll of duct tape, every bottle of wine, every copy of 'Subversion for Dummies', and every pair of ever-bigger pants goes on your report. A person COULD shop off-base to avoid this, but the options are limited, and there are many normal American things we can't get off base, so most everyone hits one store or another multiple times a week. The cards have social security numbers on them, too, just for a little extra invasion of privacy.

Why on earth would they do this, you ask? What possibly could be the reason for such oppression? The BLACK MARKET! Ooh, sounds scary, doesn't it?? Yes, freedom and democracy depends on keeping an accurate account of my Dove Bar purchases. Apparently, goods bought on base are sometimes resold in town, throwing a wrench into the entire world economy. Oh, except the human trafficking trade, because that seems to be going strong; I don't see any ration cards being issued to juicy bar patrons. You know.... oh wait, where was I? Oh yeah, my ration card. I'm going to try to stick to the subject because I've decided my outrage, no matter how justified, doesn't get me anywhere, and it's just too, too exhausting.

So, the military tries to keep rationed goods off the local economy by tracking everything we buy. Well, except for goodies from the thrift store, and we can all be grateful for that. If you go over your dollar limit, buy too much beer, or make a suspicious purchase such as 40 pounds of beef, the bossman gets a notification and you have to go explain yourself. Fine, whatever. While I DEEPLY resent having the big blue machine looking at what I buy every month, I recognize that the military is rife with similar indignities and I have been beaten into submission. I can no longer whip myself up into a froth of indignation, because I only have a few more months to suffer. Soon, I will be able to buy an entire cart full of lentils and no one will bat an eyelash. Not that I would; those things are disgusting! Ration away, people, if it makes you feel powerful and efficient. But maybe you should take a closer look at your system. Today, I was looking at my card and guess what? It's been expired for weeks.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


The doctors here come, and then they go, in pretty rapid succession. There have been three different pediatricians here in the time we've been here. There's only one at a time, just in case you live in a regular place where you can still take your kid to the doctor if the pediatrician is sick, on vacation, in training or at a conference and don't get my drift. You know, it's the military; they move around, that's how it works. That's what I used to think, anyway. Today Weston had an appointment and I had to take Shane with us, and now I know they are just churning through the doctors until they can find one that can hang.

We have a nice little clinic: you walk in through two sets of automatic double doors, and the entryway opens up into a large common waiting room for all the clinics. There is the pediatrician, the family practice clinic, the dental office, the immunization room, a pharmacy and a couple of administrative offices. The waiting room probably holds about 50 people normally, but several hundred can fit in a pinch, like during the great New Year's Eve fire. This morning, there was a normal crowd- maybe a couple dozen people in varying states of distress. Until we arrived, of course. Then the distress level was elevated across the board.

We had to come a little early so I could fill out some forms. The boys played and chatted quietly while I filled out the forms and I felt pretty smug as our appointment time approached. As our appointment time faded into the past, I started to get a little antsy. I'm an experienced parent; I had some healthy snacks and little toys in my bag, but by ten minutes past appointment time, the sunflower seeds were flung all over the floor and the toy interest was exhausted. That's when it got ugly. Shane started running in circles around a pillar right in the center of the check-in desks. As if that wasn't bad enough, he was hollering, 'BUTTON! BUTTON! BUTTON!' in sort of a sing-songy voice. It was a toss-up as to which would be worse: let him continue, or stop him and listen to the screaming instead. I elected to stop him and sure enough, screaming ensued. It didn't last long, though. Just long enough for a loud and heated argument to brew:

Shane: I Spiderman!
Weston: But I'm Spiderman!
Shane: NO! I not Underdog! I Spiderman!
Me: You can both be Spiderman; please use your inside voices.
Both: NO!
Clerk: Does anyone mind if we move these kids to the head of the line?
All: NO!

Okay, okay, I made the last part up, but jeez, what a nightmare. Then, once we got into the doctor's office, it was even worse. The room with the elephant table was being cleaned, so we had to go into one without an elephant. CAN YOU IMAGINE? The horror! And the instruments, garbage can, sink and floor were irresistible. Finally, the doctor poked his head in, looked Weston up and down, said, 'He's fine!', threw some papers at me and slammed the door. I don't think he'll be here long.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I am very naive; maybe you didn't know that about me. I'm very suspicious of some things, such as politicians, pharmaceutical companies and military brass, to name just a few. But oddly, I am often shocked, simply shocked, by events that would probably be considered pretty ordinary by most people. Like the whole juicy bar thing. If you're not familiar with 'juicies', they are local bar girls. Patrons pay for the privilege of their time, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. If you're curious, and you know you are, they're called 'juicies' because they look for clients to buy them overpriced 'juice'. Or so I hear. I'm just not sure I believe it. Who would do that? It just doesn't make any sense! Now, we live in a military town, and every single military town all over the world has seedy establishments right out the front gate, right? And surely the world's oldest profession must be thriving. I know all these things, and yet, I am still surprised that this might actually occur.

And, here's another one: apparently two-year olds commonly have tantrums and insist upon the most ridiculous things. I KNOW! I mean, sure, I've read that in a book or two, and heard dozens scores at least twenty jillion parents say something along those lines. And, I've even had a two-year old before, so you'd think I might have been prepared for my charming curly-haired little cherub to turn into a red-faced, snarling, venom-laden (but still cute) rodent when something doesn't suit him. But NOPE, I am still surprised. Maybe if he'd eased into rodenthood, I could be a little more accepting, but it was pretty sudden. For a few days now, he's been favoring certain things: a fleece blanket, a t-shirt, this toothbrush instead of that one, nothing too hard-core. But today was one constant scream-fest. Why? Oh, let me count just a few the whys:

1. Could not eat giant spoons full of butter instead of lunch and dinner;
2. Had to wear an alternate shirt because Jay-Jay the Jet Plane shirt was in the washer (see photo above);
3. Mean mother tried to help operate drinking fountain; and
4. Hateful brother did not want to watch spider episode of Magic School Bus all day.

OH, THE AGONY! But I'm pretty sure he'll be back to normal tomorrow, right? Surely this can't go on. I mean, who would do that? It just doesn't make any sense!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

Lloyd and I often sit out on our deck at night, drinking wine and watching people go by. We have a prime location, overlooking the sidewalk on the main drag and the dog walking area, and if we sit out there long enough, all of Osan will walk by.

Last night, one of my lovely friends walked by and said she was flying out today. I knew she was leaving soon, but around here it doesn't pay to keep track of exactly who is leaving when, because it is just too, too depressing. See, everyone wants to leave themselves, but no one wants to see their friends go. The one thing everyone misses about this place is our wonderful and close community. Most of us will never again live in a place where dozens of friends will happily and without notice swap childcare, loan you eggs, share dinners, stop by for a chat, or go for a walk.

Now it's almost my turn, ladies. I'm packing up boxes and getting ready for the last Halloween in Korea, the last Thanksgiving in Korea, and the last Christmas in Korea. The coffee filter countdown is under 100. But I don't want to say goodbye to any of you; I'll just see you on Facebook.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Jeez. It never ends, people. I was just minding my own beeswax last night, reading a 'The Secret Life of Germs', a book by Dr. Philip Tierno Jr. about germs that my good friend Helen sent me after I begged all my friends to send me reading material. Weston is interested in germs and is always asking questions about them, so I thought it would be good to brush up. It's a fascinating book, all about how we normally live in balance with microbes, which are everywhere, in huge quantities. Parts of your body have trillions of microbes per gram; that's a little scary, huh? Especially for us higher gram girls.

If you are old enough, you might remember the Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) scare of the mid-80's. The syndrome wasn't new but there was a new epidemic occurring in women using tampons. It turns out manufacturers had begun using cost-saving materials to make tampons instead of cotton, as had been done in the past, and the new materials were fostering bacterial growth, leading to the disease, which is often lethal. So they figured it out quickly, a few brands were pulled off the market, a few changes were made, and no one ever heard about it again. But guess what? People are still dying from TSS related to tampon use. Manufacturers are still using the alternative materials to make tampons. Want to know what they use? Probably not, but I'm going to tell you anyway: ground-up sawdust mixed with a few other things for absorbency, and dioxin to make them nice and white.

Dioxin, in particular, is nasty. It's a by-product of the chlorine bleaching process that causes cancer and is suspected of causing or contributing to immune system and hormonal system disturbances, and fertility and other issues.So what, right? Surely studies have been done showing it's safe to use these things month after month for years and years, right? We're talking about half the population here! But nope, not a single study. In fact, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney has repeatedly introduced a bill that would require a study on the safety of tampons and related products, and it has been continually defeated. Can I just say, though, I LOVE Rep. Maloney! I almost want to move to her district. Anyway, there's no incentive for manufacturers to make safer products. Why should they? They are making money hand over fist and they aren't held accountable for the collateral human damage. It's much cheaper for them to settle an occasional lawsuit than spend the money to develop and produce a safer product. And the lack of studies makes it easy for them. Their expensive lawyers, lobbyists and PR staff that they pay with all the money they make off of us consumers say, 'Don't blame us! There's no proof that tampons cause TSS!' And they're right, there's not legal proof, because no studies have been done, because the manufacturers spend a lot of money to suppress bills that would require studies. But here's a novel idea: make the manufacturers prove their products are safe, instead of requiring dead people to prove that they were killed by dangerous products.

Here's what we can do: Contact your legislators in support of the Robin Danielson Act. Click here to find your representatives. And once again, talking with our money is the only way to make change in the consumer market. Luckily, there are lots of great alternatives to sawdust and dioxin tampons. Try the unbleached, all-cotton varieties, a Diva Cup, Mooncup, or reusable pads.

And also, just a general tip? Wash your hands a lot more than you're doing. It could save your life. For real. Do it before you eat, after you use any publicly used facilities or items (bathroom, telephone, elevator, movie seat, taxi, grocery cart), after you shake hands, after you shop, and when you come home. Use plenty of soap, and when your hands are clean, don't touch the faucet or bathroom door on the way out. As for me, I'm going to stop reading. But first, I'm going to go sanitize my door handles.

Friday, October 9, 2009


You might think you know what hell is, but you would be wrong. Vomit in the grocery store? Child's play. Poopy infant + sleeping toddler + airplane window seat + fat snooty business person in aisle seat? Pfffft, who hasn't been there? I know all my Osan pals will readily understand true military hell, but I'm going to try really hard to write it so our civilian sisters get it too. I'm not sure I have the proper skills but I'll give it my best shot. So, the military is weird. Especially on a teeny-tiny base like we have here. Imagine a person that is like your boss, your father, the president of the only bank in town and your kid's principal all rolled up into one. In our own little hellish version of Pleasantville, that guy is your husband's boss, aka 'The Corner'.

Lloyd's squadron regularly has events at their squadron hangout, and we never, ever go. EVER. Only today, we went. Not going to squadron events gets you a major frowny-face on your paper, your allowance docked, your loan denied, no promotion, and gossip behind your back; get the picture? Taking kids is a disaster waiting to happen; the drinking, the swearing... and that's just me! But the thing to do is show your face once in a while, and today was the day. It was carefully planned to the second to minimize the potential catastrophes. The speeches were scheduled to run 1630-1700 (that's 4:30-5:00 p.m. for those of you not in the know), followed promptly by a spaghetti dinner. I even made deviled eggs. New post coming soon: Bedeviled by eggs (but that's a story for another, not-so-depressing day).

I wiped faces, I packed snacks and toys, I made sure bladders were emptied. As I loaded up the stroller, Lloyd called to tell me the power was out and they were moving the event. He gave me these long, detailed instructions to the new location that included the phrase 'Go through the gate with the razor wire and into the door that says 'No admittance''. I'm sure that would have worked out really well but I was deterred by the machine guns and made a detour that resulted in us entering through a fancy security clearance office that opened up right behind the podium where the big boss man was giving his speech. We got there right at 1700 but what's this? The location change delayed the dinner so the speeches will continue? And we're trapped behind the podium in full view of the entire squadron? And the stroller has stopped so what's that, Shane? THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE WILL EXPLODE RIGHT THIS SECOND IF YOU DON'T EXIT THE STROLLER AND START SHRIEKING AND RUNNING AROUND LIKE A MONKEY ON CRACK?!??!?!!?

So yeah, tres embarrassing. And it went on for long, excruciating minutes and included a toy thrown in my face, a screaming-laden time-out, a loudly popped balloon, and a penis joke. If there had only been a little puke or poop, it would have been an unholy trifecta for sure. And oh yeah, NOT DONE! At 1725, there was still no food, so we decided to leave. We're not gluttons for punishment, after all. We gathered our 56,629 tons of goods and made tracks. As we left the building, it started to rain, and Weston, still traumatized from the toy throwing/time out incident, started wailing. Right that second, the 1730 music started, and we ground to a halt. Right behind a large group of uniformed people that work in Lloyd's office. If there is anything worse than being humiliated in front of the boss man, it's being humiliated in front of the staff, right? Usually when the music starts, Lloyd is either still at work or is at home in civilian clothes, and so Weston was very confused about why the uniformed service members stood at parade rest during the South Korean anthem and saluted for the 'Star Spangled Banner'. We generally encourage questions, and he loudly asked me about the details: 'Why doesn't he have his hand over his heart? Why are they standing like that?' Shane, on the other hand, couldn't have cared less, and started running in circles and hooting wildly into the solemn reverence, capping it off by banging into one of the airperson's legs while he stood stock-still, ignoring us to the best of his ability (ed. note: airman is the generic term for an Air Force service member, similar to soldier, sailor or marine. I refuse to use it on the grounds that many of these service members are female, and use airperson instead. Lloyd most definitely does not approve, just in case you were wondering. Lucky for me he doesn't read my blog anymore).

Stoically (we're good at that now), we stood there until, mercifully, the music stopped and we could slink away like beaten puppies to await our inevitable pink slip/F grade/ foreclosure/grounding. I just hope we don't lose our internet access, because that would really be bad.....


As you may know, I have a finely honed sense of civic duty, and I have been diligently working to perfect my effort-free cleaning/feeding scheme from yesterday. I LIVE for public service, y'all.

In an effort to spare you some... ummm, missteps, here's a handy list of tips I've compiled over the last day:

1. Flour and water paste is quite nutritious, especially if you use the whole wheat flour and filtered water, but the cats won't eat it and it dries quickly into a substance closely resembling cement, only not nearly as attractive.

2. Tuna fish isn't the greatest cleaning product either; the cats love it but it sort of soaks into the walls and the mercury probably isn't good for the paint.

3. Frosting is really a better match for the wall color in the tower apartments here on base than pudding is, but it may give your child (or cat) a rash (or vicious hairball).

4. Toothpaste is surprisingly effective at removing earwax, blood, chocolate and boogers, plus it leaves shiny clean teeth and fingernails, but apparently fluoride is poisonous in fairly small doses. On a related note, home stomach-pumping equipment is pretty easy to devise with a little creativity.

Add your lessons in the comments; there's nothing like cooperativism to lick a problem, unless it's a cat! Loredana recommends using guacamole and salsa, which sounds fabulous, and it gave me another labor-saving idea: MATCH YOUR WALLS TO YOUR FAVORITE FOODS! It doesn't get any better than that, people. I'm painting mine deep brown and maroon immediately, so if you have any chocolate-loving, wine-swilling cats, please send me two three right away. Oh, and if you have a way to get peanut butter and moon sand out of the drain on my deck, please let me know. Quick.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cleanliness is next to impossible

I've tried lots of techniques for keeping my house clean over the years: The Flylady, the plan-a-big-party-and-invite-snooty-people method (no, I'm not talking about you), a daily schedule, and many more. Until today what has worked best for me is ignoring the growing mold, laundry piles, broken toys and crushed cheerios until my head is about to explode, and then screaming at the kids that if they don't get all their junk picked up in the next five seconds I'm going to light it on fire and toast their favorite toys for supper and there will be no cookies for the next five years. That won't scar them for life, right?

But now I have a better way. I've been tinkering with better ways for a long time, but everything I come up with seems to have a flaw or two. Click here and here to see what I mean. If you're here from that stupid Nobel Prize committee that's been ignoring me for so long, pay close attention. This is your last chance, people-who-think-you're-so-smart-but-can't-recognize-a-revolutionary-idea-when-it-smacks-you-in-the-face! You're not going to have me to kick around anymore! I'm going to start my own committee and not even invite you! Okay, so all you need is a few kids, the more the better, some shaving cream and some semi-clean rags. Clean rags would be fine, too, but semi-clean is all I have. Let them smear the shaving cream all over the house and themselves, and then simply withhold food until they wipe it all up. With any luck, every single filthy item in your house will be covered in shaving cream and you will be relieved of cooking duty for hours. Brilliant! Check out the 'before' photos and then the video to see how it works.

But wait! It gets better, thanks to one of my clever friends. I posted one of these pictures on Facebook this morning and was asked if that was shaving cream or whipped cream, which gave me an even more brilliant plan: give them whipped cream, pudding, or organic yogurt, if you're a nutrition-nazi type, instead of shaving cream. That way, they occupy themselves while you read your latest issue of 'Star', the house gets cleaned and they get fed, ALL AT THE SAME TIME! Plus it might smell better; that cheap shaving cream I buy kind of reeks. But all that food is expensive and I'm not going to lie; this process does result in some wastage. I'm definitely onto something here; I'll let you know when I think of the perfect pleasant-smelling, cheap and nutritious cleaning product. Ooh, I know! CATS! Cats are the answer! Get whatever food you like the smell of, then get a few cats to lick the extra off! It won't cost extra because you won't have to buy cat food! What could possibly go wrong, I ask you?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ivan and Weston

It's almost Weston's birthday, and I've been thinking about the time just before he was born. We were living in Pensacola and Lloyd was gone. Usually when I tell this story I'm all vague about where he was so everyone will feel sorry for the poor hugely pregnant military wife who was abandoned and left to fend for herself in the face of a hurricane while her husband was off fighting for freedom and democracy or some BS like that. But you know I never lie on here, so the truth is that he was elk hunting in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, where there is no phone service of any kind. Also, as it turns out, no elk, but that's Lloyd's story to tell, if you can stand the swearing. Luckily for me, my lovely Aunt Ina came to stay with me while he was gone.

When you evacuate in advance of a hurricane, there are many items you should take with you in your hurricane evacuation kit. Some of the commonly recommended essentials are cash, a battery operated radio, non-perishable food and water, prescription medication, and blankets. We were a little tight on space and had to prioritize our supplies, so we couldn't be bothered with a lot of that crap. Here's the more important stuff we had instead:

Salami sandwiches
One extremely large pregnant woman
One lovely aunt who despises hurricanes and dogs
Two large dogs
Directions to hospitals with NICU facilities in three states
Infant car seat
Dog food
Cocoa butter

Alas, we didn't have room for some other vital items, such as Georgie and Sandy, our two little rabbits, and Bella the cat, who you may recall from yesterday's post. We put Georgie and Sissy in the bathroom with tarps on the floor and loaded it up with hay, rabbit pellets and water, and left Bella to roam the house with bowls of food and water in every room and the laundry room filled with boxes of litter.

The trip was about exactly what you'd expect. The first day it took us all day to travel from Pensacola to Birmingham, Alabama, a distance of about 250 miles. The next day, we went to Memphis, where we stayed in a ratty dogs-allowed motel on the bad side of town for a few days. We had a nice visit to Graceland, where the photo of me above was taken. If you look carefully behind my enormously swollen body, you can catch a glimpse of the dead cat tote. After we spent a few days there, we decided we might as well keep going, since we had nothing better to do. So we went to Branson, Missouri, dogs and all. We took in a few shows and saw the sights while we waited for news of how Pensacola had fared after an almost direct strike from Hurricane Ivan, and for Lloyd to come out of the woods. After about a week, Lloyd flew in, sans elk, and Ina could not leave fast enough, shaking off the dog drool and coarse brown hairs as she went. You would think she would have learned her lesson, but I guess not, because several years later she came to stay with me again when Lloyd was gone and I was hugely pregnant with Shane. That time Lloyd really was in the sandbox, though. Before she came, she made me promise no hurricanes, no babies, and no snakes that time. Two out of three isn't bad, right? Because Shane was born in the early morning the day she was leaving and Lloyd was coming home. Sucker!

Anyway, we loaded up the now-filthy Honda with supplies from WalMart and headed back home. Seriously, it looked like the whole place had been carpet bombed once we got within 100 miles of Pensacola. We even had a hard time finding our way home because the street signs and landmarks had all been destroyed and it looked entirely different. We only had minor damage at our house, but a major mess. The cats and rabbits were fine, and the power came on shortly after we got back after having been gone a little over a week. Weston was born two weeks later.

Happy Birthday, Weston! And Ivan, may you rot in hell.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My life in cats

It's Chusok weekend here in Korea. If you're interested in Korean holidays, you can read a little about it here. It's kind of like a Korean Thanksgiving, only I doubt there are any apocryphal stories about ill-prepared immigrants and naively friendly natives. Even if there are, they are all written in Hangul, so I wouldn't know the difference, now would I?

Despite my complete ignorance of Korean culture, I'm game for participation in the local holidays, and today I am thankful for cats. Starting today, we are lucky enough to be cat-sitting the beautiful Mishka, who is one of our upstairs neighbors. Her family, who has not been here very long, has embarked on a two-week multi-destination trip back to the states, and I cannot decide if I should envy them or feel sorry for them, or both. But either way, today I have been thinking about all the cats I have loved and lost. Here they are, in roughly chronological order:

Charlie- I got Charlie when he or she was a kitten and I was a small child. The mother cat lived in my Aunt Luella and Uncle Butch's barn and I had my choice of kittens. Unfortunately, Charlie and I did not have long together; the cat had some sort of seizure and dropped dead in my arms shortly after. It's a wonder I wasn't scarred for life, don't you think?

Smoky- My dad found Smoky tied up in some trees in the woods near where we lived, and cut him down and brought him home. He was a beautiful big gray cat who liked to yowl and car surf. One morning he rode off on my dad's car and never returned.

SillyBilly- My dad found SillyBilly, a beautiful calico cat, when she was a kitten. He's always been a little vague about the details of this late night acquisition, but my sister and I were thrilled the next day when we got up and found our new pet. You know, I'm getting a little suspicious of these mysterious cat-finding trips of his, now that I think about it. Anyway, she lived with us for quite a while until she got hit by a car down the street and was returned to us in a cardboard box by one of the neighbors.

Fluffer- Fluffer was the son of SillyBilly and was a fluffy black cat. He was very mellow and would let us dress him up, but I don't remember what happened to him. I think he just disappeared.

Chebosco- Chebosco was a male orange and white cat, and I don't know where he came from or where he went. That's funny, because I really liked him. You know, now I'm getting a little suspicious of these unexplained cat disappearances and might need to have a little chat with my dad.

Katie and Kelly- When I got out of high school, I worked in a pet store for a year or so before I went to college. I should totally write a post about that place because it had everything: flashers, larceny, pathological liars, and mud puppies. One day, a kid brought in these two teeny tiny siamese kittens and said his male cat had dragged them home. They were only two or three weeks old, and I took them home and we bottle-fed them until they were strong and healthy enough to eat cat food. Katie, the boy cat, was always glossy and a little wild- he moved around my parents' neighborhood for years until finally they didn't see him anymore. Okay, now I'm definitely going to talk to my dad about this. I just hope he doesn't have some cat-fur quilt hidden in his closet or something. Kelly, the girl cat, had an obsession with pushing her paws into things and was a big licker. She was always sickly, probably because she was bottle-fed formula instead of breastfed, and died fairly young.

Lewis and Clark- After Lloyd and I got married and moved to Pensacola, the first thing we did was adopt Lewis and Clark. Their original names were Tyler and Cassie, and they were not related but had bonded deeply in their foster home. Clark (formerly known as Tyler) was an old male orange and white cat, and Lewis (formerly Cassie) was a sweet, younger, long-haired gray and white female cat. We had a pleasant, but short-lived relationship with both of them. Well, I did anyway. Clark didn't care for Lloyd, and the feeling was mutual. He moved in with the neighbors, much to Lewis' dismay, and soon died of feline leukemia. Lewis liked to follow us on walks through the neighborhood, and one day she followed us down the street, then peeled off to investigate something. When we returned, she was laying dead on the street. I was very traumatized by this and embarked on some immediate retail therapy. One of my purchases was a bright red leather tote bag by Kenneth Cole. I carried it for months and called it my 'dead cat tote'. People looked at me strangely, but that's never bothered me, and it made me feel lots better. After Hurricane Katrina, I donated the dead cat tote, along with my entire work wardrobe, to hurricane victims who were trying to relocate and start new jobs. I hope it helped somebody else as much as it helped me. I got some additional cheer out of it, because it was a splendid tax deduction. Thanks, Lewis!

Bella (pictured, above)- I got Bella as a kitten from someone at work shortly after Lewis died. An email message was going around about kittens available for adoption and one of them was a calico, like SillyBilly. I wanted that one, but it was already taken. I decided to get one anyway, and picked out Bella. Her name is Bella because I wanted something derived from SillyBilly and chose a girlish version of Billy. She is kind of a strange cat, not super friendly, and she hated Lloyd on sight. One day, when she wasn't very old, she didn't come home and we started looking around the neighborhood. We didn't have any luck, but a day or two later she hobbled home. We took her to the vet and found that she had two broken legs. Apparently this is a common cat injury when they get hit by a car. The car strikes them, breaking the leg on the car side, then they get tossed down the street, breaking bones on the other side. After several very expensive surgeries, with pins and everything, Bella was almost good as new. When we left Shreveport for Korea, we decided to leave her with some Catholic friends there. They immediately took her to family pet night at their local parish and had her blessed with the special water, and she still lives there happily in holy catrimony.

And that's the last of the cats. For now. As soon as we get to a place where we can have cats again, we are loading up. Don't worry, I plan to keep a VERY close eye on my dad.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Well, I finally did it! Lloyd has sworn off reading my blog forever. And not just my blog, but ALL blogs! Pretty good, huh? I'll just admit right here he is often annoyed by my writing. He didn't like this one, or this one. Oh, and he really hated this one. But this is the one that really sent him over the edge.

But now he's gone, so I can safely mock him, just a little bit, without having to sleep on the couch. So, check out the pictures; these are the fruits of Lloyd's most recent shopping trip: an enormous cooler and a pair of Spiderman shoes that flash.

The shoes just irritate me because I loathe character clothes and I think they make those flashing lights with mercury that will end up in a landfill. And soon, as soon as I can figure out a way to get rid of them without upsetting Weston. But the cooler, I'm not going to lie, the cooler scares me a little. It's definitely big enough to fit me in, if a couple of things are chopped off first.

My tasks for the day are clear: find some body armor so I can sleep easy, and then figure out a way to get Lloyd off my Facebook.