28 June, 2016

To-Do Lists

I am a planner. This is in my genetic code and I cannot turn it off. I may have mentioned before that, when we travel, Brett and I have developed a fairly mature balance of my need to plan – make the lists, keep things as organized as I can – with his need to fly by the seat of his pants. It works.

We are now planning a very big move overseas. Whoopee! I should be in heaven, right?

You’ve heard of writer’s block? I think I have planner’s block.

Typically I’d start with a list. A list of things to pack, things to sell, questions to ask, costs, something. I don’t even know where to start!

I finally went around the house with post-its and labeled all furniture “sell” or “store”. I started one list: Things I will take to my sister’s. She is newly divorced and will adopt some of our things, maybe permanently, or at least until she finds something better. That’s my only list thus far and it’s killing me.

I printed out monthly calendars for July, August and September thinking this would help me organize – maybe if I set dates for certain tasks or deadlines? 

We each have certain things to do organizationally. Since he’s the one with the initial job offer, and he has the contact, he is in charge of all the paperwork stuff to make it possible for us to get work visas, to make it legal for us to go. He’s also doing the asking of questions about housing, etc. 

I think this morning I had a breakthrough: We now know all that is needed for our work visas, and it is a multi-step process, involving several different organizations and documentation. This will take time. I think, if I give us a deadline of July 31st to have our work visas, I can go from there.

Hopefully this is the push I need. I’ve looked up “living in Beijing”, looked up airfares, and decided our travel route, but not dates.

I’m also taking a few of the “store” items up to my sister who is setting up her new apartment, for her to use while we’re overseas. That may help too. Maybe seeing the gap where the coffee table was, and missing a lamp in the bedroom will be enough momentum to keep me going.

It’s nerve-wracking.
I need a list.
Any suggestions?

25 June, 2016

Posting from a Prompt

Paula Kaye at Smidgens, Snippets and Bits sometimes follows this prompt that has some thought-starters, and as I read her most recent one (catching up on about a week’s worth of blog-reading) I actually had responses for some of the prompts! It’s a bit of a random post for me, but here goes my version. 

Did I mention we are moving to China in the fall? No? It’s a pretty new development, so that is the primary substance I ponder these days. I do not have details yet about much of anything, but we are trying to get rid of just about everything we own, to start over in Beijing this October. I’m doing a lot of considering the value of “things” at this point, and reaching out feelers, but I will have to actually DO SOMETHING about it all soon.

A lot about airfares. After our recent trip to Turkey (9-hour flight was the longest leg), I wanted to look into seats better than coach-class. No Way. Business is over $1500 more! However, we have decided to fly to Beijing from Seattle, saving money and shortening the flight to only 11.5 hours!

I’ve been reading Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore. It’s good, but weird, and I wasn’t as quickly drawn into the story as I typically am with him. The other day I realized I still have Atlas Shrugged, almost half-done, sitting under some things on the end table. I really want to finish that. It’s a bit more of a labored read, though.

Orange is the New Black is back on, and I am one of those who had been anxiously awaiting the release of this season. So far we’re pacing ourselves… only about three episodes in.
We’re also diligently watching Game of Thrones.

This is a funny question. While in Turkey, we used both camera and phones, and just yesterday my phone gave me a message that my cloud is full. My pictures automatically upload to the cloud, and I guess I need to go through and delete some or file them elsewhere!

This is about the color and thickness of mine.
1tsp of cinnamon, mixed with 1 tbsp of honey, with a cup of hot water to dilute it. It’s tasty, supposed to boost the immune system (among other healthy effects) and I’ve been knocked out with some horrendous illness. I’m hooked. This shall be my new bedtime treat.
The other thing I want to be drinking, but haven’t since vacation, is Turkish coffee. I loved it while there, and actually have the tools to properly make it at home, but on my return I was go-go-go and then sick-sick-sick. Next week, maybe!

We stir-fry a lot already. I’m torn between looking up actual Chinese cooking recipes to get acclimated before we move, and doing more Tex-Mex style meals for the next few months. I complain about the quality of Chinese food here a lot, and have serious doubts about the quality of Mexican food in China!


 I need to remind myself of this, but I'm learning.

This weekend we head to a wedding. A casual wedding. My favorite.
I realized last night that in our craziness, we hadn’t yet bought a gift. Then I looked at the invitation. “In lieu of gifts, please bring a monetary donation that will be given to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.” I can appreciate that. The idea of gifts for the sake of gifts, or due to tradition, is one I typically comply with, but… seems pointless. A new, young couple, like the wedding we attended in May? Of course! Let’s help them get their start! But this couple is older, have both been previously married, and don’t really need anything. I don’t know the bride or the groom, but I like them already.

A peek into my week...
On Sunday I hope to get my Soul Portrait taken by Kari of KPhotography as we will be passing through her area. She does outstanding portraits, but started out photographing Americana in general. Something I do not have a knack for.  After that, regular workweek until I head up to my sister’s in Michigan on Friday, bringing her the first of our “take me, keep me, store me” stuff. She’s setting up housekeeping right now, so has first dibs on any furniture or appliances she may need.

A final thought...
My brother from Turkey just moved back to the US. My Army brother is a new civilian. For the first time in about 10 years, all of my mother’s children are not just on the same continent, but in the same region of the country! For three months. She is planning a family get together over Labor Day weekend – not a typical time for our family to gather – and we will hopefully get some good family pics that day.

23 June, 2016

My Latest Travel Adventure

I alluded in my A to Z challenge to the fact that I had another major trip coming up. Well, we are back, so I feel comfortable to talk about it. I can't jinx us now!

We went to Turkey!
We stayed in the western portion.

One of the reasons I hesitated to discuss it in advance was just that the funds came through rather last minute, after changing plans and back, and I didn't want to say anything just to have it all collapse again. Additionally, there is currently a travel warning to Americans, suggesting not to visit Turkey. Military stationed there are restricted to not visit certain areas.

That warning is a huge shame. Take a look at the geography of Turkey. Yes, there are some issues near its southern borders, where refugees are crossing over and ISIS (or is it the Kurds?) is trying to take control, but that is one small part of quite a large country!

We had no problems whatsoever, saw no hostility, only kindness and assistance as neither of us know the language! It is beautiful, if you can cope with the strange psychology of understanding NONE of the street signs or shop signs around you.

I must confess, as fascinating as Turkey is from a cultural and historical perspective, it may never have occurred to me to go there for vacation, were it not for the fact that my brother has been living there for the past seven years. His daughter graduated high school last week, and I've missed so many events in the lives of their kids that I really wanted to be there for at least ONE! So there you go. After the two bombings in Ankara (the capitol, and where my brother's family lives) this past spring, we discussed with them the safety situation. They (bro and SIL) stated that, while they personally felt safe, and continued with their daily life as usual, they would completely understand if we did not want to risk the trip.

Meh. If they're safe, we'll be safe. We continued with our plans. We rented a car and drove around the western coastline (on the Aegean) visiting historic and Biblical sites for several days, between arrival and returning to my brother's house for graduation. Below are just a few pictures from Canakkale, Izmir, Ephesus and Sardis.
The Trojan Horse!

The actual site of Troy (Troas, in modern Turkey) is no longer on the coast.
This is one tiny corner of the archaeological site, which is amazingly, the size of a city!

Turkish coffee, my new addiction, and a salad in olive-country

Izmir, ancient Smyrna - on the Aegean coast.

St. John's Basilica, near Ephesus. If fully restored,
this would be the 7th largest cathedral in the world!
(This is the model, standing on the ruins)

The ancient Temple of Artemis.
The amphitheatre at Ephesus. Huge. HUGE! Can you see those little people?
Even at this distance, when I stood on the main floor, Brett could hear me in this row.

15 June, 2016

Dear Terrorist...

Dear Terrorist,
You just attacked innocent civilians in a public place in a major city in my country. Why? How does this benefit you?

Is this because of the supposed promise of 72 virgins after death? Do you truly believe that?

I, too, follow a religion that says certain things are "right" and certain things are "wrong", but I am instructed NOT to kill people. Do your holy writings actually tell you to kill? Is this in the Quran? Or is it one of the hadiths put forth by an imam or other Muslim cleric?

I understand it is easy to be misled by religious leaders. It happens in Christianity, too. And that can create a negative image of Christians in the eyes of non-Christians. Do you realize that when you, a Muslim, attack innocent people, you are simply adding to an already negative image if Islam? I know many Muslims, and have visited countries strongly tied to Islam, and the people I meet there are lovely individuals, helpful and friendly, as are the majority of people I meet on a daily basis. They are often confused why Americans do not like Muslims.

Do you realize that when terrorists like you, blatantly stating your ties to Islam, attack and kill wantonly, that you are the only face of Islam to many Americans? The only aspect of Islam that many Americans know is the hatred and intolerance exhibited by the most radical and incendiary extremes of your religion. Are you trying to spread the word of the Quran and the messages of Mohammed by killing? It isn't working.

I'm confused by your actions. I believe many of your fellow Muslims are confused by your actions. Do you realize that you are hurting them by turning so many against you? To those of us who do not follow Islam, we often cannot differentiate between the subtle beliefs that each person holds. We are being told that Islam preaches hate and murder. How do you think you are helping your religion? 

I really wish I could ask you these things. I do not love all people perfectly, but I do not hate anything with the ferocity that you apparently do. 

I have no reaction on social media because to me, it does not make sense. Social media appears to be dividing into two camps: This is a religious thing vs. This is a gun thing, and I do not believe either.

I know it is not a religious thing because your actions are not founded in Islam but in a radical sect of extremists. I honestly doubt you have ever read the Quran.

I know it is not a gun thing because on September 11, radical Muslim terrorists brought down four planes and two buildings using box-cutters.

This is about hate, and I do not understand your hate. You may hate me, but all I feel for you is sadness. Sadness that you have killed, sadness that you feel such hate, sadness that you so blindly have followed those who led you into these actions. 

Personally, I may be momentarily stunned by your actions of hate, but you will not stop me from carrying on. If my American lifestyle so offends you, I will not apologize. I am able to travel freely, purchase within my means freely, love freely, worship freely, and I will continue to do so. You do not scare me, nor does your brand of hatred. 
I am a Christian.
I am an American.
I love and am loved.
You have changed nothing.