Vacation Just Around the Corner

bya Gabrielle at 4:03 AM

There is no use in apologizing, so I’m not even going to try.  Let’s face it.  I suck at blogging.

I will however play the blame game.  The internet here just blows.  Some days it works and other days, well, it doesn’t.  What is a blogger to do?

Well, tomorrow is our last day and then it is VACATION TIME!!  A whole two months worth.  Why can’t we have awesome vacations like that in the States?  Oh, wait, we do, but you have to be teacher.  Hrm.  I suppose possibly being knifed or shot could almost be worth two months of vacation, but not quite.  :)

Our vacation is going to go something like this:

Linyi to Shanghai – Stay in Shanghai for 3 days, possibly see the Expo, get some good food.

Shanghai to Hangzhou – Spend a few days in Hangzhou, reminisce, eat some Dairy Queen.  Yum.

Hangzhou to Fuyang – Hang out with our good friend Jin for a few days and reminisce some more.  I am sure Fuyang has changed a lot since we left.

Fuyang back to Hangzhou – Catch a train or bus to Nanjing and see what Bo and Nashville have been talking about.

Nanjing to Guilin – We have to take a plane.  There is no way I am spending 24 hours on a train, even if it is a few hundred yuan cheaper.  Stay a night or hop on the first bus to Yangshuo.

Guilin to Yangshuo – Relax for a week and take in the sights.  Yanghshuo is mostly definitely the most beautiful place I have ever seen in China. Phil did say he would foot the bill if we stayed longer . . . so who knows how long we will stay.

Yangshuo back to Guilin – Catch a train, bus or plane to Kunming. I hear it is a pretty nice place.  It will be the first time Phil and I have been there.

Kunming to Dali – Once again, I have heard nice things and we have never been there before. It is always nice to adventure and see new places.

If at this point we aren’t completely broke, we may try to make our way to Qingdao, spend a few days there, experience Beer Street and then come back home to ever so wonderful Linyi.  If everything costs what we think it is going to cost, we are going to have to eat rice and noodles and nothing else for an entire month before we get paid again.  :)

Okay, moving on . . . Last weekend Phil decided it was time to have a new Chinese experience.  So, we went to the massage parlor down the street and while I got a standard oil massage, he got ba guan.  Ba guan is when the chinese take glass cups, light them on fire, and then stick them to your back – 16 of them to be exact.  They suck up your skin and break every blood vessel known to man.  After 5 or 10 minutes, they take them off.  It looks something like this . . .

Since I was getting a massage, I couldn’t take a picture of the glass cups on Phil’s back, but I took a picture of a friend who did it a week or so ago.  It was her first and last time.  I have no idea how she got the courage to do it.  There is no way in a happy hell that I would ever submit to it.

Song Hui and ba guan

And this is what it looked like after Phil had his little procedure.  It looks likes someone either sucker punched him over and over again or took a purple marker and went to town.

Phil and ba guan

A close up of the damage . . .

Phil - Ouch

And another . . .

Phil - Ouch - 2

I don’t think that Phil will be getting it done again any time soon.  And not because it hurt, at least he said it didn’t, but because he didn’t really feel he benefited from it.  It is supposed to suck out the toxins from your body.  They tell you not to take a shower for 24 hours afterward, but I am not totally sure of the reason.

Oh, and although this has nothing to do with vacation or self-induced pain, I thought I would post it any way.

There is an Australian in our building who has decided to turn the roof into his very own garden/farm.  He recently just added 4 baby chicks that he will either use for eggs or if they suck at that, he’s gonna eat them.  I really hope they are great egg layers.

Here they are . . .

Baby chicks

When he tends to the garden, he lets them out of their cage so they can run around.  They run so fast.  He says they are easy to catch and put back, but I don’t know if I believe him.

And the garden . . .

Roof garden

If I have internet connection during our travels, I will try my best to keep whoever it that reads this blog of mine up-to-date.  I can hardly wait.  This vacation is going to be a blast!

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Grow, My Veggies, Grow

bya Gabrielle at 4:19 PM

Well, the seeds have been planted, and now we wait.

This year we decided to only plant 72 seeds – a mix of green peppers, summer squash, grape tomatoes, better boy tomatoes, cucumbers, and green beans.  Last year we planted a mix of something like 300 seeds, and since I thought they all had feelings, I couldn’t bring myself to up root and kill them, so I ended up planting them all.  I didn’t have a garden – I had a farm!

I thought I was being a little too sensitive until I saw a Mythbuster’s episode where they tried to prove that plants did have feelings.  Some of their tests included yelling at the plants, blasting loud annoying music, and directing bad thoughts at the plants.  On the flip side, they talked sweetly to the plants, played soft, soothing music, and thought only good things about the plants. They couldn’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that plants had feelings, but their results did deem it plausible.  Maybe I just watched too much Fern Gully as a kid.

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Carrots from Finland

bya Gabrielle at 3:40 PM



It’s nearly spring.  Do you know what that means?  It means it is almost time to start gardening again!  Horrah!

I haven’t bought any seeds or a greenhouse to get me started, though. I should probably do that soon, if I intend to plant sometime after Easter.   Last year, I think Phil and I went a little over board with our garden.  We got a lot of food out of it, but it was very hard to maintain, and my water bill went through the roof!  It truly was a beast.  Every time I went to pick tomatoes, the bushes would swallow me whole.  Sometimes, I had to get my mother to help pull me out.  It was crazy, I tell you.

I’m not sure what I want to grow this year.  Tomatoes and cucumbers are a must, but other than that, I really can’t decide.  Last year, my beans didn’t do squat, but I think that had something to do with not having a big enough stick for them to climb.  The cantaloupe and the watermelon were a complete bust, too.  I didn’t get anything out of them.  It looked like they were going to yield me some yummy goodness, but then they up and died on me.  The green(red) peppers didn’t do so bad, but they could have done better.  They needed more support than what I gave them.

Maybe I can find some time this weekend to go to Lowe’s and stare at the seed section.  With so many choices, picking out only three or four vegtables is going to be hard!  If I had a farm and a million dollars, I think I would pick every vegtable imaginable.

This year I don’t have to worry about renting a tiller because Jeri, a family friend, has been ever so kind, and given me hers.  That was super awesome of her.  I nearly fell out of my chair when she said I could have it.  Last time, when I rented one, Phil only had something like four hours to till the entire garden area.  He was only able to accomplish that because we had spent the entire day and night before preparing the soil with a shovel!  Phil nearly broke his back that day.

I’ll be sure to post the progress, and if I have enough, you are all more than welcome to have some.

Oh, and this weeked Phil and I are going to the circus.  When I found out Phil had never been , I told him we had to go.  Everyone has to see the cirus at least once in their lives.  If we don’t run away with them, I’ll be sure to post losts of videos and pictures when we get back.

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“Ploughing” by Malcolm Greensmith

bya Gabrielle at 7:00 AM



I am always very excited when postcards arrive in my mailbox from countries that either A) I don’t get often, or B) I haven’t gotten at all.  This is my first postcard from Spain.

I don’t know what to say about this postcard.  I tried looking up information on the artist, Malcolm Greensmith, but I couldn’t find a whole lot about him, other than that he is a renowned military artist.  I don’t know when he was born, or if he is still living.  I’m assuming he is from Great Britain because that is where the card was printed, but who knows if that is a correct assumption. If you like his artwork, there are several sites offering cross stitching designs created by him.

I’m not sure how ploughing is related to the miltary, so perhaps this was drawn by a differnt Malcolm Greensmith.  Either way, I like the postcard because it’s cute and has animals on it.  Perhaps, that is why the sender chose it for me.  I like the old feeling the postcard has, too.  It reminds me of the country.  It would be nice to have a horse to help me plough my garden this year.  I am not looking forward to hacking away at the ground again, even though the hard work eventually pays off.

PS  If you by chance know more about this Malcolm Greensmith guy, be sure to share your knowledge in the comment section.

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I’m Alive, Just Busy as a Bee . . . He he

bya Gabrielle at 7:29 PM

Bumble Bee

You have no idea how long I have been trying for a good shot of a bumble bee.

Pretty Flower

A pretty flower I found up in West Virginia.  Stupid shadow.


It’s amazing that I got a picture of this little guy at all.  Every time I tried to focus he’d fly away.  He’s got such big eyes!

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If You Pout – You Shall Receive!

bya Gabrielle at 7:00 AM

Yesterday, when I stepped outside and looked at my cherry tomatoes, I thought for one second that I saw a hinge of red, but then discounted it as wishful thinking.

Today, when I went out to look, I spotted two little red cherry tomatoes.  Well, they aren’t quite red, but they are getting there.  They must have turned red over night.

Hopefully, the rest will turn red soon, so I can actually make a salad out of them.  Right now I must have something in the neighborhood of 200 flowers along with 50 already grown tomatoes.  I am going to have cherry tomatoes coming out of my ears!

Cherry Tomatoes

Technically, I think they are called Grape Tomatoes, but since I have been calling them Cherry Tomatoes this entire time, that is what I am going to continue to call them.

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The Beast

bya Gabrielle at 1:14 PM

So, my garden has gone a little wild.  Just a little.  You can view the progress by clicking here and here.  Phil actually took a pano of my garden.  I’ll put that up as soon as he puts it together.

The Beast

My nine cherry tomato plants look like one giant bush! I’ve got all sorts of tomatoes, but like my beefsteaks, not a single one has a hint of red of them.  I’ll cry if they don’t turn.


These here are my beefsteak tomatoes.  Some are bigger than others, but not a single one has turned red.


They don’t look quite like they do in the grocery store, but eh, as long as they taste the same, I don’t really care. I can’t decide if I want to pick them as green or red peppers.

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Feed Me, Seymore, Feed Me!

bya Gabrielle at 7:00 AM

This is what happens when you throw left over, supposedly dead seeds into a pot and have no intention of them becoming anything.

When they first sprouted, we thought they were all cucumbers, so we we let them climb up a tomato cage. Big mistake. Turns out, a lot of our supposed cucumbers are actually cantaloupe. Now we have to support the cantaloupes hanging in the sky by pantyhose. Yes, pantyhose. At least, that is what the internet suggested for people who don’t have a lot of space in their garden. You can’t really see it in this photo, unless you look really, really hard, but there is a cantaloupe hanging 3/4ths of the way up(center). It is a slightly less green. I really hope this pantyhose idea works.

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Back to the Yard

bya Gabrielle at 8:46 PM

Here’s an update on the garden, if you’re into that sort of thing. I had thought that it hadn’t grown that much in a week, but when I looked back at the old picture – I could see the growth.

Grow Garden Grow!

I was a little too happy to find this tomato.

This little cucumber must have been growing for days, but I didn’t see him because he was hiding under a leaf. He’s about two or so inches long.

My blackberry bushes have flowered and are now starting to produce berries. They are all green berries at the moment, but they’ll turn red and then black soon. I can’t wait. I love blackberries.

My little kitty, Morgan, is always hungry.  She climbs the screen on the door when she’s starving.

Another self portrait. I think I look better in black and white.

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Visiting My Backyard

bya Gabrielle at 12:53 PM

I thought I would go ahead and put up some of the pictures of the garden that Phil helped me put together. Well, help is an understatement. He practically broke his back getting the soil prepared for my baby plants. Gardening is hard work, that’s for sure. It took us the better part of two days to get the garden up and running.

Phil keeps reminding me that this whole garden idea was supposed to be a few plants on his patio, not a freaking farm. My response to him is that he shouldn’t have encouraged me as I held three greenhouses capable of holding 216 seeds(and then some) in Lowe’s one Saturday afternoon. :) Everything I do, starts small and then grows into something completely uncontrollable. I know this, and so should he. It’s all a part of being Gabe and in some cases, knowing Gabe.

Phil dug and that entire plot of land and then decided that a tiller would be a good idea. We rented ours from Home Depot for four hours and it ended up costing something like $40.00. Not too bad really. And had the tiller died, I would have only had to pay $3.00. Also, not too bad.

I don’t work him hard to kill him. I work him hard to make him strong! You should have seen him working that tiller. It shook him like he was a rag doll. His muscles hurt for a week.

Ah, everything is planted. Well, the plants that would fit that is. When I took this picture, there were probably another 100 plants sitting behind me. Yes, 100.

A few weeks later . . . I was afraid that my plants might not do very well in the clay, but I think they’ve done okay. I’m sure next years crop will do even better.

This is where some of the extra plants went, but I still have some more, about another 30 or so. If you live near me and you want some tomato plants, contact me and they are all yours.

Morgan Rose Ireland Yvette DeWitter. I love my kitty! She won’t eat dry food anymore. I’ve now got to shell out the money for gourmet wet food. She’s 15 years old, she deserves it.

This is Dopple, one of Morgan’s boyfriends. She has two more that visit her pretty regularly. Dopple is an enormously fat cat that reminds me of Garfield. He’s very adorable and loves to get his belly rubbed. I just hate that he constantly tries to steal Morgan’s food.

Me. I think I look a lot like my father in this picture.

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