Tuesday, July 5, 2011

And Then I found a Kitten!

Hi all,

See? An actual kitten. Who is now named Cooper. Since Schmee drives one and I work in a Co-op, we found it fitting. We spent the morning of the 4th weeding. I was in the vegetable garden with our house, and Schmee was in the seed garden. I'd taken a break after an hour to go get my forgotten hat, and also to pick up water for everyone - so I'd taken the car back down. As we were driving back, we saw a mother cat drop her kitten on the dirt road and run. So we went out to look.

The kitten is a fluffball, but obviously past the age that it should be having it's eyes open at...which they weren't. This equaled a moral quandary for us...because if we didn't take the kitten home, it was doubtful it would get better. So, we did. After many phone calls to many houses (it apparently takes a village to raise a kitten as well!), we got some good advice on cleaning it's eyes (which popped open, only to get gunked up again after it sleeps...sometimes giving it a pirate-look) and also made a formula for it, as best we could.

Anyhow, it's squeaking, so I need to go feed it..again. Dropperful at a time. Vet visit tomorrow to see what kind of sneezels it has, and to confirm the sex maybe...
Hope all is well,

Friday, July 1, 2011

Buttermilk Banana Pancakes!

Hi all,

Obviously I'm well aware it's been over 3 months since my last post, and to be honest, at least 6 months since my last post of any interest. Not that my life has gotten any less riveting, I assure you, but responsibility and friends tend to eat up your life. The village hasn't gotten any smaller, and ripples of excitement still flood our pond of existence, but I find myself a little removed and part of the bigger picture now.

So, where exactly am I at?

In a week Schmee will be leaving to go home (fortunately only 1.5 hours away) for the next few months to be on jury duty and then move to New Hampshire for grad school. Baker will remain in the house until the middle-end of September. I really have no idea what I'm doing yet - I've asked to stay another year, but only in a position of really supporting the co-op. There's not really a precedent for this: I'd be attached to a house and still be a volunteer, but have evenings for studying for the GRE and looking for grad schools. So there have been many meetings and I'm hoping to hear soon. I'll be out of my house by August 1st, when one of the new house team members moves in. Not sure where I'd be going yet. We'll see.

I went on vacation at the beginning of June. It was very low-key, family-oriented and busy. Saw my one of my cousins, volunteered/rode at the barn, made a German feast, shopped, went to my brother's college graduation - and had him move only 40 minutes away for the summer!, played cards and saw lots of other family. It was a good trip, if a little short.

I have still been working in the glass shop once a week and loving jumping into new projects. New co-workers have been arriving - but none for the co-op yet. This also means others are leaving...a bittersweet experience. Calvin leaves next week, which just seems surreal to me. We have acquired two young staff kids (10ish?) at the co-op. One is doing a lot of errands and the other comes in 2 afternoons a week to clean. The one in the morning is full of the dickens, and must be kept occupied every second or mild chaos can ensue. Good kids though.

We're also starting our switch to the electronic point of sales system (ie, barcode scanning into computer instead of writing items in a book). Not sure if this will complicate or simplify things, but the answer for the short-run is obvious.

Anyhow, about that Buttermilk Banana Pancake recipe: it started with a base recipe from Deborah Madison's cookbook, but I then modified it.

Steph's Buttermilk Banana Pancakes                                           Serves 6

Combine and set aside for at least 10 minutes:
(Buttermilk Mixture)
2 c. milk
1 c. yogurt (or milk, if none available)
3 TBSP apple cider vinegar

In a separate bowl combine:
1 1/2 c. white flour
1 c. wheat flour
1/2 c. oat (or any other) flour
4 tsp Baking Soda
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Nutmeg (opt)
4 TBSP sugar (opt)

Combine in a second bowl:
5 eggs, beaten
1 mashed banana (option, but very recommended!!!)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 TBSP oil or melted butter
Add "Buttermilk Mixture"

Optional: Berries or chocolate chips

Add the wet to the dry ingredients and beat sparingly, until just mixed with no large lumps.
Cook over medium-low heat (gas stove, cast iron pans...otherwise, your best guess, but lower is better) in oiled pans. Pour batter onto pan and sprinkle with optional item (berries or choc. chips), when small bubbles begin to form around edges, or steaming occurs, flip pancake. May lift edge to "peek" to see if done - a light golden brown is desirable. Cook until batter is cooked through - will be moist due to bananas.


Hope all is well,

Friday, March 11, 2011

Iced In

Hi all,

So, last Sunday evening we had a nice huge ice storm that Schmee and I got to drive home in from her parent's house. Trees were so weighted down with ice that several came down low enough to hit the car, one was even swaying back in forth in the lane and we had to dodge it in a maneuver vaguely reminiscent of a video racing game. We made it home shortly after 11, and I was just going to bed when the power flickered several times and went out. Starting around noon the next day, we got a generator, which was our only source of power until about 5:00 Wednesday evening.

So, that was an adventure. I was worried constantly about the Co-op. Apparently we used to have a generator strong enough to run the fridge and freezers, but last time a house's generator broke and so it went to the house. But they never got a new one....so the whole time I was freaking out that we'd lose a couple thousand dollars worth of food. So that was a huge relief that temps stayed OK. Not ideal, but ok to prevent food spoilage. We also had to cancel the Carnival celebration, as there weren't enough generators/good enough planning to heat the hall. :  (

We had moments of humor waiting for power, Schmee had some good quotes from both then and the previous week. The previous week, during cooking for a villager's birthday, she asked if we couldn't just bake the hamburgers. Apparently my face gave her the answer. A few days ago she asked "How do we give the cat a bath? You know, for when she gets really dirty..." Have I mentioned that she's only ever had a dog? She carts the cat around (who mostly tolerates it), and treats it pretty much like a dog, but she's learning - one bite at a time... That was a fun conversation, though.

We also had a profoundly sad moment. A special co-worker (son of a longterm coworker who never left the community, he'd been here for over 30 years...), passed away completely unexpectedly...apparently a aorta aneurysm. Obviously it's a huge blow for the community, and devastating for his mother. We'll all be attending the funeral tomorrow.

Anyhow, I think that's about it for now.

Hope all is well,

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Stay On the Sunny Side

Hi all,

So as I sat on the train to NYC yesterday (drying out from the downpour that kept me hydroplaning on the way to the station), the thought arose "This could be the biggest interview of my life", followed by "I sure hope not!". Because, honestly, I hope that I'll never have to look back and be able to find a single moment that is able to define my entire life. Sure, if I get the JET position I'll definitely walk a much different path then if I don't. But, if it's meant to be, it's the only path I can be on. I'm honestly at a very good point of equilibrium, if I get this position, I think I could be up for a great new challenge. If I don't, there's obviously a different place that I'll just have to find my way to.

After a minute of misdirection, (and one of the grossest bathroom changing experiences Grand Central could offer), I was able to find my way to the cleverly hidden Japan Embassy on Park Ave. I was greeted at the desk where I became I67, led upstairs with a guard escort in a group, walked through a metal detector, handed back my penny, met some recent JET returns, listened to some very hyped-up other interviewees and fought a minute of inferiority. Both JET returnees insisted that you didn't have to know Japanese, but both had some. One of the guys had been there before and became smug, while the other whitened a shade and desperately looked for an in for the conversation. I had a moment, but I realized that I was there and had represented myself honestly, and was good enough so far. I went in, shook hands, and was utterly me. I gave an honest account of my experiences and opinions on why I wanted to go, and got to demonstrate my horrible drawing skills. Not the brightest moment, but it was still fine. When I found myself back in the lobby I wasn't terribly relieved, except that now I've done all that I can. They seem to know what they're looking for, and hopefully they'll be interested in what I have to offer.

Now I get to sit and wait.

For 6 weeks.

On the bright side, I'll probably catch up with seminar soon. Hopefully. It was a busy week. Monday found me balancing a garage door (light, pull down) on my shoulder, with a 70+ villager hanging off the handle. "Dolly" lives in my house, and is the doll that her name implies...she's got a great sense of humor but is always into something (getting up early doing harmless things like denuding a dying houseplant to the not-so-harmless putting a ribbon around the cat's neck and locking her in the bathroom. When another villager commented that Dolly had been up since 5 and we asked how she knew she answered that she'd come downstairs to use the bathroom. Why? Because the cat was shut in the upstairs bathroom. Now that we've discussed that there's no litter tray and we'd rather not have a repeat of the kitty poop in the sink incident, this may stop. We hope. Anyhow...story). She has a thing about closing doors, which is limited to 1 in the house. Apparently she always closes the neighbor's garage door. This isn't very safe as she has to walk on the icy path by their car, plus she's been requested not to do it. This was the first I'd heard of it...so I picked my battle. She came back after her first attempt, but I stoically held my ground and repeated it was time to go to work and no, this wasn't our door to close. She went away a bit weepy, but was consoled by her friend.

When I returned home from lunch, she seemed to be in fine spirits. Wanting to make sure that she knew this wasn't personal, I asked "Are we ok about that door?"

Dolly leaned over, with a glint in her eye and said "Yes...I closed it! Heh heh heh" She cackled.
She got it on the way home.

It's a start.

She really keeps us smiling though, so it's easy not to take it personally.

 I walked up behind her and rubbed her shoulders (she's a hugger and very affectionate), and she suddenly proclaimed "Don't undress me!" And then burst into laughter...

What can you say to that?

Anyhow, a villager passed away this week. It was an interesting experience. I didn't know this one, (which is surprising, but they were sick for a long time since before I even came to the village). It wasn't a big surprise, and the end came painlessly. But a loss is always felt throughout the whole community, and I attended the funeral with Schmee and the house today because it felt like the right thing to do and to support the house. The funeral wasn't what I expected, but the music was beautiful and carried a sense of peace.

This week had quite a few ups and downs. Lots of nightmares filled with death and stressful situations, but also wonderful experiences. We were having dinner Thursday night and the phone rang. This is annoying, since no one is supposed to call during meals (although we'd been interrupted at breakfast and resthour that day, so it was becoming a trend. Baker answered it, and when I asked who it was he whispered the name. I wanted to know which one, since we have 2 in the village, albeit with a great height difference, so I pantomimed the question. Short or taller? He shook his head and gestured REALLY tall..."Don't be silly, that one is in Germany!"

Nope, he wasn't.

"HE NEVER SAID GOODBYE!"...yes, he did hear that on the phone.

I also said it again when he came to our living room and flung myself at him for a hug. His response?

"Well, I didn't say hello yet either..."


Anyhow, it was wonderful and unexpected to see him. But disappointing, because he'd come over to get a ride from Baker to go back to NYC that evening. BUT, he was in town until Monday, so I got to make plans for after my interview to get together for dinner.

So, after my interview (and another gross Grand Central bathroom-changing experience) we met up. I put him in charge of navigation and we went to Chinatown/Little Italy and walked around talking until we found a place. It was pretty authentic...forks were not provided, and Dusty laughed at my feeble chopsticks attempt. Something I'd work on if I get accepted by JET. Anyhow, I was the one laughing when he realized that the panfried noodles were going to prove a big challenge.

We managed.

So, that was such a nice surprise. This year is kind of a dud. We have a TON of couples, and we don't have an "organizer" like last year. Also, everyone isn't anywhere close to 21,  which limits our after-nine activities. It's much more cliquish. I think that part of the problem is that an American could step up and organize things, but we're all pretty over-committed and simply don't have the time. (Or possibly patience). Anyhow, it's late and I need my sleep. I took a later train back last night, and it took me an hour to get home, as the rain had turned to snow and ice. Most of the roads were fine, but I was (gratefully) behind 2 snow plows, and the last few miles were actually quite bad. But I made it.

And now I need sleep.
So, hope all is well,

PS. Might've watched "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" tonight with Schmee...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Cat Pooped in the Sink Today

Hi all,

I really wish that it was April first. But, it's not, is it? I have numerous approaches to looking at this...first: BAD. Julia had come over to say hi, and was desperate for a bathroom - and since the downstairs one was being used, she ran upstairs. Of course, she noticed right away, and so I was able to get some gloves on and take care of it. Memo: house needs bleach. On the other hand, it could have been worse. I mean, there USED to be a litterbox in the bathroom, and maybe the cat was locked in accidentally. It was the bathroom, so in the right neighborhood. Additionally, she might be pissed off that she doesn't get to go into rooms or outside at night and may be a little disgruntled. Still, it was just one of those kinds of days.

People keep asking how it's going, as if they're expecting us to proclaim it's a catastrophe. It's nice to hear people are concerned, but it almost makes you paranoid when you can say things seem to be going fine for the most part - at least with everyone currently living in the house. Sure, there are some hiccups and things that we're still learning about each other. We have different styles and different needs that we have different approaches to fulfilling. But people seem happy, and we have lots of laughter around the table. Schmee, Baker and myself see how it is and know where we'd like to get it to be, but are aware of our limitations and that some things will just take some time. But I think we're all up for the challenge.

Yesterday we had our first neighborhood meeting, which was certainly a different experience from my old neighborhood, and it was just a small gathering due to it being our first meeting. It's interesting to watch the power dynamics.

It was also Franklin's birthday recently, and so I went out with my old house to celebrate. We had dinner and a movie, and it went as well as it ever did, but we made it.

In other exciting news...my interview is only 8 days away. I've been brushing up on facts on Japan, and investigating their education system a bit. Little things just seem to be pointing to this being the next step. I'm not a huge "It's a Sign!" sort of person, but this just feels right somehow. Time will tell, but I am happy and honored that I even made it to this stage.

Anyhow, as things get settled in I'll try to post more, but no promises. My stress level is definitely up and I'm spending most of my time trying to relax or study. Seminar is marching on and I'm letting it go loosely, the interview is priority. Surprisingly, Valentine's Day was completely a non-issue this year. In years past it was always a bit romantic when I was with someone, or a bit wistful/hateful if I wasn't. But this year I was just grateful that I didn't have to worry about it. Plus, I got some good Valentines from a few friends and a very cute one from my father.

Hope all is well,

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Hi all,

So...changes again. I moved into a new house yesterday afternoon, but only managed about 45 minutes of unpacking. Schmee has been here about 3 weeks already (super excited to be running a house with her and Baker!), and she was great help for keeping me company while I tried to figure it all out. I was so exhausted after yesterday I fell asleep at 10:30 and was out hard. I've spent a little more time today unpacking and arranging, but I went from lots of shelves to 6, plus a huge closet. I'm actually put off by the whole notion of a "walk-in" closet (although it narrows in the back withe eaves), but that's probably just laziness of not being able to just stand in front of it. Pathetic, I'm sure.

The last few weeks have been a blur of getting everything wrapped up in my old house (2 audits, plus trying to file all the old financial records that have been rotting in various drawers...still might've not found them all!), going on an outing to NYC with a few people from the house for a benefit concert for a neighboring community, coping with the fact Calvin AND Buttercup ended up taking vacations at the same time for about 8 days, having a delivery pass us by, having it late this week because he had an accident, seminar, various meetings, etc etc etc.

Oh, did I mention I got a JET interview?

Yup. Still haven't gotten the letter for when, but should be at the end of the month. So, my days off will be filled with writing seminar papers and studying up for the interview.

So Steph's stress level has been pretty impressive.

There was a lot of shifts and changes and stress surrounding the actual move, that it's simply an incredible relief to be here. It's strange, as Schmee put it, because we know what we have to do...just not the details for how to do it with the people we're with. So, there's a good learning curve.

Anyhow, here's a good quote for you...backstory first: our truck driver got delayed in one of the many snow storms last week that happened on Tuesday. He called the co-op early Wednesday morning, and someone answered. He said he'd be there around 9, but might need directions. Work was off in the village that morning, but I was there waiting. At 10:30 I finally called the company. The transportation office claimed they tried to call to ask about road conditions and when they didn't reach us, had the truck bypass. They know our hours of operation, and if they called when I was on the line, surely they could've tried again or deduced that someone was there...But apparently not...

The proud-American delivery guy I have in the morning asked me about it:

"So when did the truck come in?!?!"
"Uh, it didn't..."
"Why not?!"
"Um...because they're (hold back, Steph...)...nincompoops!"
"What the hell is a nincompoop!?"
"Idiots...they're idiots"
"Oh - like you! Hahahaha"

It was pretty funny...

So, my brain is still pretty dead, so I'm about to turn in soon.

Hope all is well,

Monday, January 24, 2011

Full Circle

Hi all,

So, one must be rather careful for what one wishes for. True, I got the 3 feet of snow, but the ice "storm" (it rained...and froze) was a bit much. It WAS gorgeous to look up and see the tree branches waving and scintillating in the sunlight, with a beautiful clinking like delicate glass chimes in the wind until until they ice pieces slid off to dash themselves against the grown, but it got pretty treacherous and I ended up on my butt once. Everyone uses the "yak traks" here, but I mostly do just fine in just boots. Thanks to Benny. Anyhow, it looks like a proper winter now.

In celebration of being here a year, I finally got myself a dentist appointment. I don't want to talk about it.

On a more positive note, Julia celebrated her birthday. I met her on the night before her birthday last year, and it's amazing how our friendship has grown. She was typically gushy, but explained she wasn't going to apologize because, after all, it was her birthday. I got invited to her birthday table, and it was lovely. First time having steak (in steak form), in the village as well. Yum! I'd found a book called "How to Repair Food", which is quite funny - and incredibly useful. I mean, who knew you could turn sour cream back into cream??? This led to an interesting story about south africa, where apparently it's cheaper to buy butter, freeze it, and then thaw it and put it through a machine to turn it back into cream when you need it. Weird, huh?

Anyhow, it was a lovely evening, and a good end to a very long weekend. I'd had to get re-certified in a course that was held at a neighboring community at the lovely hour of 8 am. We got done 1.5 hours early - would starting at 9 kill them?!? It was a good time though. We had cafe and giftshop duty, because we'd swapped with a house having a christening. I had to change my off time on Sunday, because I ended up having to do giftshop on that day as well. Paled in comparison to eating glass though.

Somehow, many (quite large) splinters of glass ended up in the 1/2 of a cheesecake that we were going to serve at cafe on Saturday. Luckily, for others, I had a piece/bite and discovered this. Unfortunately, half of the cheesecake had already been served the prior week....and not thrown away! So that was fun.

Anyhow, for the big news: on Saturday the house went out to dinner and I informed them that I'd be moving on the 7th to help co-run a house (with Schmee and another young co-worker!) whose houseparent needed to step out for a while due to health reasons. No one seem too concerned. This is pretty typical, as people get used to comings and goings - and I'm not even leaving the village. I think Beau will be the most upset, and he's the one I will miss the most. I'm leaving on good terms with Hum and Hather, and knew that this day would be coming months ago. It will certainly bring some new challenges, but I find I'm mostly excited. The weight of it is still settling, but I have hope.

I have a rough 2 weeks to get through first though. Both Calvin and Buttercup are leaving on vacation, meaning that I'll be very short and work and at home - since I'll be picking up 90% of Calvin's work. Plus packing in there.

Need I mention that I'm sorry I've been a little too overwhelmed to blog lately? I hope things will settle down soon, although Seminar events are picking up and I'm rather behind. And rather unmotivated. It will come. Plus, I'm waiting to hear back on my Jet application, which should happen within the next week. So, a little more stress.

Basically, I'd like to sleep the next 2 weeks. A mini-hibernation.

It will get better.

Hope all is well - at least I'm healthy!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Frozen Mice

Hi all,

Yes, I can't wait for the hits that this blog title will probably get. Anyhow, it's been a busy 8 days...like always. First news is to explain the post: in the co-op we have lots of interesting lists that we see. We get a fair amount of German, some Korean, and sometimes completely nonsensical if the villager was entrusted to write it (and can often read it, so fair enough!). However, we got a very nice, small and neatly written list. Buttercup started to laugh and silently handed over the list for me to scan. Check, check, check...frozen mice. As clear as can be. Okkkkkk. Upon a follow-up call, where we were adamant that we chucked out any mice that stumbled into our traps, we discovered that it was supposed to be frozen maize. We did have frozen corn, but the joke has been running. Tasty little appetizers, with tails just right for slurping...

The co-op was an interesting place this last week in general. We haven't had internet for a week (found out our router was kaput, while the light fixture simply needed a new bulb - embarrassing, but the damn thing has had parts replaced the last 3-4 times, so we weren't going to touch it!) and so I had to order in Hudson at a cafe on Sunday. We had a nice little blizzard and got about 8-10 inches of snow and had work canceled on Wednesday. This was great, as I and Buttercup still went in and we had the order finished by Wednesday. Wonderful! We also got our new ramp in (courtesy of the wood workshop) and it worked beautifully. So that was nice.

Last Saturday Calvin, myself and another co-worker took the house into the CITY. It dawned on me in the train, after a horrible 15 minutes fighting with the ticket machine..., that I was kind of running the show. After a little directional confusion we got right into the flow of things. We had an early lunch at "Ellen's Stardust Diner" - where the music by the Broadway wannabes was totally amazing. It was better than the last time I went, because I think they were stretched thin during the holidays. It was a more relaxed atmosphere. We went for a walk down Broadway afterward, looping into Central Park a bit. We had a snack at an amazing gelato shop: Grom's uses recyclable napkins and dishes, and biodegradable spoons. It has all organic components, with free trade and single origin ingredients. It was obviously insanely expensive, but totally delicious! In fairness, it was cheaper than the restaurants close to the Colosseum, and all that was special there was the view! Then we went to the 2:30 showing of "Million Dollar Quartet" and it was phenomenal! The Elvis was the understudy, but the musicianship was amazing. It was a great time and everyone loved it. We got back to the trainstation in time to buy a quick dinner to eat on the train. Beau managed to lock himself into the bathroom ont the train (second time that day, really, since he did it at the theater too), trying to get out. The "ductor" (Marie) thought this was rather funny. We got home by 8:30 and everyone had a fantastic time.

Marie has been a bit trying this week. Clothing has been a problem, long underwear even made an appearance OVER jeans one morning. And Calvin screwed up when I asked him to tell her to put her clothes into her hamper when she went to bed: she put all her DIRTY clothes into her closet instead. SO that was fun. But you can never actually stay mad at her, there's too much joy in everything she experiences. A humbling experience. Makes you feel like you should be a better person. That's not always not annoying though...who likes to see their faults?

Today I told one of the class mentors that I needed to report co-worker abuse. I was in the glass workshop this morning, admiring the newly-and-painstakingly-restored large piece that was getting a final once-over by the workmasters. They're exactly what I want. He teases, but obviously adores her. And she rolls her eyes and chides, but adores him right back. And they've been married for probably over 40 years. So happy it makes you a little sad. Surely they've had horribly tough times, but that love has endured and is so plain. Anyhow, I digress. They were in the middle of some banter about the piece, and the wife didn't notice me come up from behind. She exclaimed "Oh...Henry!" and took a little absentminded swat at his general direction, but missed. Hitting me lightly. She was completely oblivious until I squeaked from surprise, and then it was her turn to look astounded. It was priceless. "Henry", of course, found this hilarious, and we were soon all laughing.  "Henry" was bored today, and later was terrorizing us all by flicking giant rubber bands around. I almost got him back though...

A good morning in the workshop.

Anyhow, changes are on the horizon, but I can't really share yet. I'll keep you posted...
Hope all is well,

PS The almost-2-year old, came out of the bathroom as I walked by today and cheerfully announced that she had stuck her hands in the toilet. She was quite happy about this...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A New Year, Another Year

Hi all,

I can't wait for the Holy Nights to be over! True, I've gotten a few good naps in, but I'm more tired than ever, it seems. Of course, some of that is self-inflicted.

New Year's was a quiet affair. We met as a neighborhood with a fellow neighborhood and had a dinner of Chinese and Pizza take out together. We played some silly games, and I witnessed the most ridiculous 2 rounds of musical chairs known to mankind. The usual things happened during the rounds: people forgot to get up, people wandered away even though a chair still existed, and people doubled up. The first round it came down to Sally (exuberant cat-lover from next door) and a house father. Sally went crazy around the chair, and looked like she was defending it from making a pass. So naturally she won. The second round, the housemother from next door was pitted against a young staffkid. Under 10, definitely. The housemother thought the music was ending so she slid towards the chair, and in the process hip-checked the girl to the floor...and the music played on...needless to say she didn't make much of a struggle when the music finally ended. Pretty hilarious.

After then night's festivities, I drove Calvin and his girlfriend to Hudson and we watched Black Swan. I only had to cover my ears a few times. Afterward, we met up with the Korean contingent at Applebee's, and I got drilled on why I didn't have a boyfriend. That's a fun conversation with a language barrier. Then we rang in the new year (my first time watching the ball drop in the correct time zone) and wished the Koreans happy birthday, since they legally get a year older every Jan 1st. I had to giggle when I explained that we do the same thing with horses, they did find that amusing.

The next day I finally had a day off. I got to sleep in and then headed off to Kingston with one of the Koreans. We poked around Barnes and Noble and the mall, and got dinner out. I think we'll be meeting occasionally to have English conversation practice. I've asked several of the Koreans what they do for fun/hobbies. I've heard music and practice/study English. Obviously, they're the party animals of the community.

I also had to say a goodbye this week, which really drove home the fact that (as of today!) I've been here an entire year. The other girl actually came a bit later than I did, but she's one of the last people that came when I did/ from the previous year's group of people. It's sad, the number is dwindling. Luckily, four people did stay for additional time, but those goodbyes will be even more brutal now, I'm afraid.

The future is starting to pop up in my mind now. It's both exciting and a little scary. I know I'll need to get out for a while, but would really prefer to have something that I'm looking forward to going to for when I do leave. It brings up other key life questions as well, but I'm not going to bore you by going into them. I'll wait until I'm in a proper mood for it!

Anyhow, I hope all is well - and happy new years!