Monday, October 29, 2012

Casting a Play

This is the 4th time around, and I'm still not quite sure how to do it. The feeling I have right now is the age-old 'butterflies in my stomach'. It's like standing on the edge of a cliff and not knowing how high it is or what's at the bottom...and then jumping. Not because you necessarily want to, but because you've realized that's the only way down.

Auditions start tomorrow. A few students are auditioning early since they'll be out of town during the actual audition dates. And since we're a small school, making these sorts of compromises is common and...survivalist.

This year, there are no ideas in my head, going into auditions. I have absolutely no idea who is going to be in the play, who would be good for which part, who will be cut...No idea!

I'm going to rely on a lot of prayer this week, because I have no idea how I'm going to make these decisions by myself. I'm strongly doubting whether or not I'll be able to do it on my own. For another analogy: it's like learning how to tight rope when you're 4 years old, and then never doing it again until your 40 years old. And then you're expected to tight rope across Niagara Falls.

At least for right now, I'm just hoping that the 'right' kids audition. That's why I'm truly nervous. Because if you don't have the appropriate level of talent or the best mix of attitudes and's a lot harder than you could imagine to direct a show.

And since I'm by myself this year....I'm just crossing my fingers.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Note from Apt #111

Hello. My English is not the best, but I've learned to become proficient in conversation and also in baby talk since these foreigners moved in a few years back. No one ever tells my story, they just prance around and are forever taking pictures of the smallest creature. I don't understand the appeal with the small creatures--since they tend to be the most destructive.

This month has been unusually busy for me. Let's start in my kitchen. The woman allowed a pot of boiling soup to overflow on my left burner. Not just a little. A lot. So much that now the burner doesn't work properly. It used to be the best burner of the two, and now it's the worst. If you turn on the gas, there is a small explosion of flames. It has been comical watching eyebrows getting singed. 

Can I help that my humor drifts in that direction? 
It can be boring being a cement and all. 

It's getting cold outside. After a few weeks of settling, my floor boards have finally stopped creaking with such mighty sounds. I fear that it shows my age, as I settle in for the winter, no apartment, no matter how plain, wants to be caught creaking that loud. My goodness. 

Because of the cold, the foreigners are excited for my radiators to turn on. But that doesn't happen until November 1. Haha. These foreigners! They had the complex's heating repair men come over and empty my radiators of sludgy water. It does feel great to purge of grime and soot. They hope that this will help the heat circulate better when the cold strikes my city. I couldn't help but notice the worry as my country men told the foreigners that this emptying process might lead to floods once the radiators are switched on next week. Although I can't wish them any good, I also don't wish them any bad. So, let's just hope that the sludge stays in my radiators and there's no flooding. 

The maintenance men who came to drain the radiators were an interesting bunch. They sat on the couch and watched "Tangled" for the first fifteen minutes. They also hocked some massive spit balls while indoors. They dumped the sludge down the toilet. It's how we do it here. 

The best lark of October has been that my washing machine finally bit the dust. It's been a few years in coming. It frequently floods the laundry room, doesn't spin well (sometimes not at all). It would take 3+ days for the wet laundry to dry since the washing machine was so inefficient when it came to spinning. These are the little things that give me character and personality as an apartment. It's also entertaining to watch everyone slip in the laundry room when they are unaware of a flood. 

But alas, those entertainment have come to a close. The new washer arrived on Friday, and was installed on Sunday. It works like a dream, so it's hard to hold a grudge against it. 

In the process, my hot water heater was unplugged. The foreigners, silly people, didn't notice this until after they gave their small creature a cool bath. Then the large one took a freezing shower. Of course, hot water is a luxury. They should be reminded of this intermittently, as is my duty as a good apartment. 

Besides the burner that sputters and shoots flames spontaneously, the refrigerator is my one last right to entertainment. Three times a day, a button must be pressed on the refrigerator if it is too stay operational. Watching them go through this ritual gives me pleasure. But the best is when they forget to press the button before retiring for the evening, and an alarm sounds in the middle of the night. Ah. That is true life and oh-so-entertaining. 

Finally, I've heard talk of repainting my walls. And goodness, it is time for some of that treatment. I've never been in more need of a face lift (except for that time that demon puppy wall paper decorated one room). My paint is crumbling/cracking/smudging right off my bare concrete walls. 

In the meantime, I'll continue to act as a cooler, barely insulating against the outdoor temperatures. If there is one thing I do well, it's reminding people that heat is a luxury, not a convenience, and that it is a privilege never to be taken for granted. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Engagement Pictures

These are the engagement pictures I shot of our friends, Benny & Hannah, who recently tied the knot. We knew them when they were single, when they were dating, when they got engaged---and now they're newlyweds! They've both been so faithful in waiting for the spouse that God planned for them. It has been beautiful to watch their love story unfold, and also entertaining! They are a sweet couple and I pray many blessings on their marriage.

Man, I had this whole post about marriage planned and started. But, I've since changed my mind. I was able to take some pictures of them while they were still engaged (and the weather was still warm). Now they're happily married. Benny & Hannah were a ton of fun to work with--as we walked around our neighborhood taking pictures. They came up with a lot of the poses on their own, and were so cute the entire time. Disclaimer: I do not want to be a professional photographer, and I don't think I'm incredibly talented behind a camera---but I do enjoy taking pictures and had a lot of fun with this photo shoot. Thanks for the opportunity, Fongs! :)

May your marriage be filled with blessings and rooted in Christ. May your commitment to one another grow with each day, as your love deepens. May the lessons you learn through marriage bring you closer to the Lord as He teaches you to be more like Him. Remember, marriage isn't about being happy, it's about being holy! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Down the Street

To market, to market 
to buy a fat pig

The first round of pictures are at new world garden market. The first floor has been remodeled yet again--I feel like that place is under construction every other month. Now, there's a little coffee shop on the first floor. Pretty crazy when you consider its surroundings. Upstairs is where all the drinks, dry goods, dairy products, and household items are sold.

I went to the meat counter, asked for a pound of lean ground beef. She picked up the hunk, chopped off a section, and then put it through the machine. All without gloves. It says a lot that I accept the bag of meat, with blood on it, without batting an eye. That would not have happened five years ago. The current check out system is different, but we used to have to pay the meat lady directly--and that was an added level of grossness (exchanging bills and coins).

Let's play a game! Identify the meat below. 
I usually buy skinless chicken breasts here---they are inexpensive compared to beef. 

Willow snagged some kuala yummies.

She is learning how to stay warm all over again. Willow is a child of the summer and doesn't enjoy bundling up, or the cold temperatures. And it's only October!

You can see the new coffee shop in the background, where the meat counter used to be. To the left is fruit and vegetables, and in the center is the egg lady. She's texting.

Everything is washed, wrapped in plastic, and pre-weighed/priced at this place. I prefer the other vegetable market to buy produce, since it is so cheap and the quality tends to be a lot better.

Willow gets lots of comments about her owl hat from locals. 
Does anyone know how they did this to the apples? I think they put stickers on the skin when they're growing and the sun dyed it this way....? I have no idea, and Adam didn't know either. 
I believe these are called hawthorns. They are very bitter, although are good in candy and tea.

Please notice that the cherry tomatoes are in the fruit section. Yes, they are considered fruit here (because they actually are fruit) and are sold in the correct department. Also, people eat them as a dessert, appetizers, or snacks here. Goodbye mozzarella sticks and cheesecake. Hello tomatoes.

Check out the egg pictures. All sorts of eggs being sold. In the picture above, you can see quite a variety sorted into different baskets. Directly below.....what are those? Yes, that's right. Pigeon eggs.

Any guesses at these eggs on the left? I'm not sure what they might be. I'm almost positive that the eggs on the right (blue-ish white) are duck eggs because of their color and size (they're bigger than chicken eggs). But what the heck are those dark monstrosities on the left? What bird extrudes that egg?

These pictures were literally shot from the hip. I was holding Willow on my hip at this point, and holding my camera below her. I just started taking pictures as we walked around--not having any idea how the pictures would turn out. It was kind of fun....I don't think anyone knew what was happening....unless they heard the shutter.

That machine in the background (above right) is toasting sunflower seeds. It's pretty loud as it spins the seeds around and dumps them into a basket.

Walk into the other little market. It's one room, but has lots of stuff. There are counters all around the walls, and then stands in the middle of the room. On one of the outer counters was this tray of tofu being sold. I like how the butcher cleaver is left out for anyone to use. No hazard or threat of danger involved, apparently.

Noodles in stirofoam boxes.

Look at the size of those leaks! My Korean grandmother would be excited.

the bathroom on the other side of the market. scary. 

Love how this boy is getting a ride on this lady's bike. 

I like this last picture. It's a street sweeper's cart--you can see their tree branch brooms with bamboo handles that they make and use to clean the streets. Whoever this sweeper was, he/she had a lot of other stuff going on in his cart. Looks like maybe some recycling was going on too. Recycling is done very differently here--people collect products to recycle to earn money. For some people, looking in trash cans and along the streets or busy venues for stray recyclable items is their main source of income.