Katieholder’s Blog


Winter approaches and other happenings

Well, winter is circling us like a vulture and there’s only a few weeks left until it starts picking out our frozen eyeballs here in Mongolia. Generally, in Arkansas, when there’s snow on the ground, it means that it is winter time. Not here. Even with 3-4 inches of snow on the ground, it’s still only fall. Not until the temperature dips into the negative 20’s do they really consider it winter time here.

I’m slowly learning to walk on ice and snow though. It’s definitely been a painful learning process with a couple of falls and numerous close calls under my belt. Slow, shuffling steps coupled with a wide stance are how I get from point A to point B these days. However, much to my amazement, many Mongolian women are still wearing their high heeled boots and scooting through the snow like it’s nothing. Kids take a few steps and slide on the ice like professional snow boarders while I’m walking like the ground is packed with land mines.

Last Saturday night, all of my sitemates gathered at Brad’s house in the ger district for Taco Night and beer pong. Taco night is always a cause for celebration here and that night was no different. We’ve started a new tradition when we get together that involves a game of Jeopardy. One person makes up the questions/topics and acts as Mr. Trebek while the rest of us divide up into teams and trash talk each other. In the past, topics have included: Math, Latin, Geography, U.S. States, Texas, Mongolia, Rock n Roll, Famous Jerry’s and Marine Animals. My turn to be Trebek is coming up and I’m currently researching questions so any ideas for topics is welcomed. FYI, I rocked the Texas and Rock n Roll categories. Latin and Geography, not so much.

Brad lives in a house in the Erdenet ger district. Even though he lives in a house, he doesn’t have running water or an indoor toilet. His heat comes from a wood burning stove and right now his life revolves around chopping wood. Every time I go to visit him I come back more thankful that I have a hot shower and radiators. While we were over there for Taco Night, I got to experience the joy that is walking to the outhouse at night with 3 inches of snow on the ground. For those of you women who haven’t used a squat toilet, there’s a few things you need to know. You can’t just go and drop your pants and start. You first need to make sure you have toilet paper. Second, you need a light (the moon is preferrable, but a small flashlight will work too). Third, you must roll up your jeans to your knees and last but not least, you need to hold on to something. It takes some planning, but it’s manageable.

I learned that when the snow gets really deep, there’s a sweet sledding hill with a tow rope on it. My sitemates and I are already planning our sledding strategies–I’m going to go with a flattened cardboard box but there are other things here that can be used. For example, I saw a boy sliding down the hill on a vodka bottle this weekend. Now, I’m not going to go that way, but it was impressive to see such inginuity.

Also in the news, I have found the following items in Erdenet: paper towels, dried cranberries, Ruffles-like potato chips, Duncan Hines cream cheese frosting, awesome deli mustard, sliced bread (didn’t buy it, but I did hold it and stare at it for a good 20 seconds), refried beans, Hormel turkey chili, chicken, decent tomato soup, 2 good vegetarian restaurants, 2 decent pizza places, 1 semi-American style Chinese restaurant, caviar (didn’t buy it, not gonna buy it) and a great bakery with apple pie, cinnamon buns and carrot cake.

I have not found the following items in Erdenet: Velveeta, rotel, black beans, hot and sour soup, English language fiction books, cream of chicken soup, a salad bar, ranch dressing mix packets, fresh lettuce of any sort or a good cheeseburger.

Ok, I’m off to go eat at the vegetarian restaurant in my building! Enjoy your amenities!

‘The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.’

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Success!

Good news! My lips and eyebrows are in place after using my snake bladder/sheep placenta mask last night! I’m also glad to report that there weren’t any allergic reactions to said snake and sheep bits.

Now if any of you ladies back home would like me to bring back a mask for you, all you have to do is ask–I know some of you are dying to try them.

I’m also excited to report that my friend Brian has asked me for my help in bringing the campaign for support against domestic violence to our region here. He was able to meet with a lot of influential people in UB including the United Nations who will be supporting our efforts in educating local people about the causes and signs of domestic violence. Good job, Brian!

Here is the website for the project: http://16daysmongoliaenglish.weebly.com/index.html

I’m working on getting the local university student population involved in this project so that they can help keep it going in the future. Brian, my friend Bogie, and I are going to talk to the Orkhon government on Friday to find out if they will be supportive of this and whether or not they can provide any funding or manpower to help us.

Ok, I know this was a short post, but there should be a lot more to report later. Enjoy your amenities!

‘The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.’


Lost in Translation

The past couple of days, my face has been busy growing a third eye, much to my dismay and amazement. Therefore, I went downstairs on my lunch break today to the medium sized market in my building to see if they have any remedies that I might try. Thankfully they had a tube of zit medicine, but that wasn’t what intrigued me.

I noticed a box of face masks (the kind women and conceited men put on to reduce pore size) and picked one up to see what was in it. It’s a Loreal face mask, but instead of the normal “Because you’re worth it” slogan on the front, it had been translated to “I own the value” which isn’t necessarily the same thing, but ok, I get it.

What really sold me on the mask was the description and list of ingredients on the back: “A revolutionary pistil all-effective face pack wich developed from snake-powder, sheep placenta, aloe, pollen and elite, essence of plants.” Sold!

So, upon further reading, the snake powder is actually ground up snake bladder which is supposed to “shrink pores, remove pimples and black spots, reduce fat (which I’m assuming means it will reduce puffiness), lower fever, anti-itch, keep your skin smooth, moist and healthy.” Who knew snake bladders could do so much?

“The refined sheep placenta can recover flexibility, smooth wrinkle abviously prevent your skin from loosing and wrinkling, remain your skin from shiny and youthful.” Hmmm, well, ok. I don’t necessarily want my skin to be “shiny”, but if it will help me keep from “loosing” my skin, I’m cool with it.

So I’m supposed to “Smear over the face after washing the face, wait for 15-20 minutes, rip the face pack from up to down when its dried.” Rip is a strong word. I think I’ll probably pull off the mask instead of rip it off–want to keep my eyebrows and lips in place you know.

I’m going to conduct the “face mask” experiment tonight and report back with details later. Hopefully I’m not allergic to snake bladder or sheep placenta…

On a different note, the PCV’s here are putting together their Christmas lists for their family and friends and I’m doing the same.  My wants are on my Amazon wish list if you would like to peruse them…just dvd’s and books really. My aunt Viv put in a LL Bean catalog into my last care package and it’s been a lifesaver. Have you ever read an LL Bean catalog cover to cover? I have. 5 times. That’s how much I need new reading material.

Last week I bought a new bath mat–this required me to mime taking a shower, drying off and stepping out of said shower in order for me to get across my need for a bath mat. Fortunately, I only had to do the mime a couple of times before the lady understood what I needed. All I have to say is that when I get back, I will be a charades champ.

I also bought a new set of sheets, a new comfortor, and 2 new pillows for my bed. I came to the realization (a little late probably) that I will be living in this apartment and sleeping on this bed for the next 2 years so I might as well be comfortable…

Last Friday was consolidation practice for the PCV’s here in Mongolia. Once a year in the fall, all PCV’s in the country practice our Emergency Action Plan. If something were to happen here like an earthquake or political revolution, the Peace Corps sends out text messages and emails to PCV’s and tells them to gather at their aimag capitals. Erdenet is the aimag capital where I am (yay!) so all I had to do was be the acting Sub-Warden and host consolidation at my apartment. Dao is actually the sub-warden for Erdenet this year, but she was en route from Ulaanbaatar to Erdenet on consolidation day so the responsibilities (and paperwork) fell on me. It was fun though, and we had a roasted lemon chicken dinner with stuffing and potatoes that I made. My sitemate Alona made an apple cake and we played Jeopardy until late that night. There were 5 of us all together and it was like a mini-reunion. Good times. FYI, Isaac Newton wasn’t the person who invented the telephone.

Not much else to report. I’m just working at DS, helping out with some secondary projects and possibly starting up a business club at the local university. That’s all for now. If you want to look at my Christmas list, just go on Amazon.com and search for Katie Holder in the wish list part. My pic is on my profile, so that you can make sure you’ve got the right gal.

I miss all of you who are reading this! Enjoy your amenities…

‘The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.’


Loan Application!

I wrote this loan application description for Kiva!

http://www.kiva.org/app.php?page=businesses&action=about&id=140872&app_id=com.kivaworld

Woo Hoo! Go Bat-Ulzii!

‘The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.’


Some updates, observations

Not much has gone on the past week, just getting further settled into a routine (that I’m sure will change soon). I sent Caaral (or Big C as she’s known to her friends) to the vet with Dao a week ago so that she could get vaccinated and de-wormed.  Dao said that she did well at the vet, but the 6-7 hour busride to UB was a different story. Apparantly Big C doesn’t do well in cars/buses because she had a serious case of diarrhea early on that I’m sure the other passengers just loved. I felt really, really embarrassed that Dao had to haul smelly cat around, but she said not to worry about it…I asked Dao to ask the vet how old she thought C was (I figured 6-8 months since she’s so small) and she reported that the vet said C was 2 years old! I couldn’t believe it! I think her growth was stunted because she had a bad infestation of intestinal worms (sorry, i know it’s gross).

I haven’t been by myself in my apartment without C there though. I’m looking after Bo, Dao’s cat who is a holly terror. Seriously, sometimes I look in his eyes and think he’s plotting on killing me in my sleep.  He’s huge too and could do it. He’s drawn blood from me a couple of times with his claws, but I kept my calm and didn’t wring his neck. He also peed on my bed one day, and I still kept my calm.  I think I should be nominated for some type of non-violence award….

Today is the one year anniversary of my Development Solutions’ branch. I work with a lot of young people and they’re all really cool and fun and talented. My job here is to develop strategies to make this branch sustainable (able to stay in business through collecting fees from their clients and not relying on grant money).

I’m also in the beginning stages of several secondary projects working with other PCV’s. One of the projects I’m working on is setting up a fundraising arm for the Red Cross office in Ulaanbaatar. It would be kind of a cool project because there really isn’t a big philanthropic environment here in Mongolia and it would definitely be the kind of project that would be sustainable if the right people are working on it.

Last Friday, I went to visit a DS client who has a chicken farm with about 1,500 chickens (2 types). Let me just say this, chickens are the worst smelling animal there is. My coat smelled like amonia for 3 days and I dry heaved some of the way back to the office. I’ve been doing some research on poultry diseases because the client needs to find out why one breed of chicken is losing all of their feathers from the beak down to the undercarrage. (If you want to see some pics of the chicken farm, just look on Facebook). I emailed my cousin Brad and some folks at the Texas A&M poultry department so see if they could give me some advice.

I’ve also been to a dairy processing factory here in Erdenet. The owners were so nice and they told me that two of their children go to university in America. They gave us cookies and bread and juice when we went for our visits. Even better than that, they gave us the necessary information we needed in order to make recommendations. Many times, here, businesses are embarrassed about revealing negative financial information. It’s kind of a catch 22. You need the negative info to make the correct recommendations, but they don’t want you to know the info because they’re embarrassed.

I miss all you and I hope you’re all doing well! Enjoy your amenities, love, Katie

‘The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.’


Some Random Thoughts

I thought I would give myself a break from researching import tarriffs to keep you up to date on what’s going on over here.  Last Friday night, me, Dao, Alona and Erdene (our Mongolian friend who was born in Erdenet but raised in Russia and went to university in Germany) went to dinner at a “Japanese” restaurant.  The only thing Japanese about the restaurant was that we had to take off our shoes and sit on the floor to eat.  The whole menu was either Mongolian, Russian or German (there was weinerschnitzal on the menu). The thing about eating in a restaurant here is when you’ve decided what you want to eat, inevitably the waiter/waitress (zoogchoo) will tell you that they don’t have it.  So you always have to have 2 backup choices just in case.  Don’t get me wrong, the food was really good, but not what I’d call “Japanese”.

Saturday, Alona, Dao and I went clothes shopping.  Alona was looking for a coat while Dao looked for black work pants. I was just along for the ride. If any of you recall, I’m not a huge fan of clothes shopping in the states, and that didn’t change over here. The best thing about looking for clothes here is finding t-shirts with the most random sayings on them.  I found a green t-shirt with huge gold lettering that just said “RANCH”. I seriously almost bought it to wear ironically to IST in December (In Service Training).  I then saw a shirt that just said “LOVERS” with a british flag background. Dao and I want to go back and get both shirts just so we can stand side by side and proclaim ourselves as “RANCH LOVERS”.

Saturday was also the day of the first snow.  It snowed all day, but fortunately, the previous week had been too warm for any of the snow to stick. It was nice to get out my winter coat and test it, but I should have worn gloves and a hat. Sunday morning I got up expecting snow on the ground, but all I saw were people walking around in shorts.  Oh well, coming from Arkansas, it’s not that suprising. I’m sure in another month, there will be snow everywhere and I’ll have permanent “hat head”.

I’ve been teaching English to my co-workers every day and have been struggling for lesson ideas lately.  Fortunately, my Aunt Viv included a LL Bean catalog in my care package, so we went over clothing today.  It was interesting explaining the differences between flip flops and sandals (they are not the same thing) and messenger bags and totes.  I have started studying my PC Mongolian language book at work and my co-worker Odnoo has been really helpful explaining some of the more difficult points. 

My sitemates and I have started planning our Thanksgiving meal here in Erdenet.  I volunteered to cook a chicken (no turkey over here) since I have the most cooking experience. I’ll be sure to buy a “cleaned” chicken so I don’t gag all the way through the prep work.  I’m thinking I’ll also try to make deviled eggs, but no promises. We’ll be eating dinner the week before since most/all of them are traveling to visit other friends on the actual day (I’m not allowed to leave site, so I’ll be all by myself unless someone decides to be nice and visit me). That part might be hard, being alone on Thanksgiving, but I think I’ll do ok.

Ok, I’m off to go research some more tarriff laws. I miss all of you, enjoy your amenities!

‘The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.’


Frustrations…

So, doing anything here in Mongolia is at least 3 times as hard as doing the same thing in the U.S.  Washing clothes for example:  if you’re lucky enough to have a washing machine (as I am) you have to push the washing machine into the kitchen or bathroom to fill the tub with water.  To do this, you have a hose that you hold up to the faucet while the other end dangles in the tub. It will take at least 5 minutes of holding the hose to fill up the machine enough to wash something.  Then guesstimate how much washing detergent you need, close the lid and set the timer.  At this point, it will sound like a NFL football team is fighting in the machine.  This is normal.  Go about your day for the next 15 minutes.

After the washing cycle is done, you take out the clothes (which are sopping wet) and ring them out as best you can.  By the way, there is no rinse cycle on the machine so your clothes will feel like sandpaper when they are dry (clean sandpaper, but sandpaper all the same).  You will inevitably develop glorious, muscular forearms from all of the wringing you’ll be doing, so that’s cool.  Then you take the clothes outside to dry in the sun (hung on your clothesline on the balconey, or inside your ger).  Wait 1.5 days and you’ve got clean clothes.

Another frustration is that you CANNOT get all of your shopping done in one place.  Be prepared to walk approximately 2 miles any time you want to make a specific meal with specific ingredients. You need facewash?  That’s in the store 3 blocks down the street (but they may not have it when you get there).  Need catfood?  That’s at the Good Price store on the eastern part of the city.  Cat litter? The Russian store 2 blocks past Good Price (also probably not going to be there when you need it). Good fruits and vegetables, the other market at the back of the department store. You want meat? Go to the meat market in the back of the other department stores (but be careful, this is where a lot of pickpocketing happens).  You want good AA batteries that will last for more that literally 2 minutes? Get on the bus (6 hours) or train (12 hours) go to Ulaanbaatar and go to the Sky Mall.

I know this is the way it used to be in America in the “good old days”.  Nobody ever talks about how exhausting the good old days were though…

There have been silver linings though–my sitemates have introduced me to a pizza/burger joint that serves decent “American” food.  I have great sitemates who are showing me all of the ins and outs of Erdenet and don’t laugh at me if I spend 14,000T on creamy Skippy peanut butter.  I also appreciate the fact that I actually have these stores here (even if they are spread out).  Some PCV’s can’t find eggs in their soumes, let alone Heinz ketchup.  Even though I do have frustrations, I fully recognize the fact that I am one of the luckiest PCV’s in Mongolia–great apartment, great coworkers, great sitemates, great access to food/amenities. 

Glad I could get that off my chest.  I promise that these griping updates will be few and far between.  Enjoy your amenities!

‘The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.’


Adventure!

Well, to start off, Erdenet now has a “Good Price” store!!!  This store is a magical place where you can buy actual cat food, Lay’s potato chips, Skippy creamy peanut butter and much, much more!  My site mate Dao and I went out to dinner last week and she showed it to me–it was glorious!  Of course, though, no AA batteries. Blarg.  They do have the cold Starbucks drinks for 6,000 tugruks (about $4.50)!! VERY EXPENSIVE! I didn’t buy the Starbucks thing but I did get a box of cat food because an all meat diet is very bad for cats (per my guru/sitemate Dao) plus I was getting tired of her hiding hunks of meat around the apartment…

Friday night, my sitemate Bradley had us over for dinner.  Just a side note: Bradley, Alona and Dao are my new sitemates and they’re pretty much the most awesome sitemates one could ask for.  Anywho…we’re going to make tacos at Bradley’s place in the ger district, so Alona, Dao and I go grocery shopping at 5 for the fixins.  Buying ground beef here is a multi-step process:  first, you have to find a cut that’s not 50% fat, get a kilo of it (not 3 kilos like the woman was trying to sell us), find the grinder guy and pay him 500T to grind it for you.

As we were looking around the market, Alona spotted some arroll (hardened dried milk curds) that she wanted to buy.  I’ve tried arroll several times, each time hoping that I’ll like it, but alas, I do not like it.  For some reason, Mongolians know if you don’t like arroll and give you huge hunks of it to convince you that you do like it.  Kind of the same thing where if you hate cats, they inevitably love you.  So the arroll lady sells some to Alona and gives me a big piece to try.  I take a few bites and while I’m chewing the woman speaks to me in Russian.  Dao tells her that I’m not Russian, I’m American.  I say “Teem, be Amerikaas”.  Dao has it a lot worse than me because she’s from Vietnam and people automatically assume she’s Mongolian, speaking a mile a minute.  At least when people assume you’re Russian, they assume that you don’t know Mongolian…

So, we get our taco fixins and head out to Bradley’s place.  We took a mikre (microbus) out there that should have seated only 12-14 people…we had 18-19 people on ours.  There’s always room for one more! Hop on the luggage rack!

We get out to Bradley’s and have a really great meal.  Bradley made the tortillas while I cooked the meat and Alona and Dao chopped the vegetables (we used cabbage for lettuce).  The tacos were great! I have made another goal for myself and that is to make tortillas sometime this winter.  After a couple of hours, us girls decide it’s time to go home and hop on a mikre back to the city.  We got on a mikre and didn’t realize it until we were already on the road, but we were the only 3 ladies on this particular mikre.  Not cool, especially on a Friday night.  So, we sit there quietly waiting for our stop when the guy in the passenger seat pokes me in the shoulder and holds out his hand for me to shake it.  So I shake his hand.  Unfortunately he didn’t want to let it go once he started shaking it. 

He kept saying “Che hairr setgel” which I didn’t understand.  His friend makes him let go of my hand and tells him to shut up.  Dao then says, “Do you know what he’s saying to you?” I said “No” and she told me that he was telling me that he loved me.  Then she said, “I think we should get out here” to which I agreed.  Once we got out of the mikre, she taught me some useful phrases if something like that ever happens again.

Theoffice went to the hoodoo (countryside) to spend the night at a camp and bond.  This is very common and was pretty fun–except when we HAD to climb the big mountain right after dinner.  At that point I hated everyone and everything.  I was in charge of games and my friend Bradley let me borrow Twister and I had Uno.  Both were incredibly big hits.  Uno got pretty competitive and I had to be referree a couple of times, but everything worked out.  Of course I fell coming down the mountain because it was getting dark and I’m me, a clumsy person.

After getting down the mountain, it was toast time! (Actually, it had been toast time all day–my coworker handed me a beer at 9:30 a.m.–another reason I fell…).  We busted out the vodka and made toasts all around the table.  After that it was circle dance party time!  Mongolians dance in a circle–you never dance w/ just 2 people, you have to dance in a big group circle–always in a circle…

After circle dance party time, it was go to sleep in the freezing cabin time.  Just because you have 4 walls, doesn’t mean you’ll be warm.  Thank goodness I brought my 0 degree sleeping bag!  I slept in all my clothes and looked like a mummy wrapped up in my sleeping bag.  The next morning everyone was up at the crack of dawn wanting to go for another hike–why???  I begged off and kept sleeping–actually I think I just cracked one eye open, said “Ugui” and rolled over.

After they got back, we packed up the cabin and rolled back to Erdenet.  I knew I would be worthless at work the next day, so I told my boss I was taking the day off to sleep in.  Unfortunately, all that nice, clean, freezing air in the country gave me a wicked head cold.  I took off Tuesday and called the PCMO who told me what meds to take and that she would send me some better allergy stuff (benadryl knocks me out).

So now, here I am, back at work with a phlegm-y cough and snotty nose. Blarg. Enjoy your amenities!

‘The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.’


Settling In

Friday my office started the staff meeting at 4:00 p.m. and we didn’t get done until 7:30 p.m. I’m only supposed to work approximately 30 hours per week at my office and that didn’t happen last week.  I was probably there at least 40 hours.  It wouldn’t be so bad if I had more to do.

Anyway, I teach an English class to the staff every morning at 8 a.m.  We’ve been going over family, introductions, greetings, food…all the stuff my Mongolian teachers went over with us the first few weeks of class. 

So, last Friday we finished the staff meeting (which was all in Mongolian) and one of my co-workers brought out a huge jug of airag (fermented mare’s milk) and everyone started drinking.  I don’t particularly like airag and I’ve never drank inside an office so I was hesitant to join in. Apparantly this is very very common in offices in Mongolia.  Instead of going out for happy hour, you bring happy hour back to the office.

The next day my co-workers planned to take me around Erdenet and show me the sights, but I’ve been fighting off a really bad sinus thing and had to bail on them which they said was fine. By the way, in Mongolia, your co-workers are your social circle, if you were wondering. You don’t just work together, you hang out together all the time outside of work too.

So Saturday was spent taking sinus meds and sleeping on the couch. Sunday, however, I felt good enough to get out and get a lot of chores done.  I went to the market to do some food shopping and actually found pesto at the market I go to!  I’ve been dreaming about pesto for a week now and my dream finally came true!  Sometimes, when I’m shopping, I’ll see something I want, but don’t get it.  I’m on such a small budget now that things like peanut butter have to be mulled over for approximately a week.  Well, the pesto didn’t get mulled over.  It was promptly thrown in my cart and happily paid for.

So, I did my shopping and went to the next market for fruit and meat (note: you can never do all of your shopping at one market).  I had made it a goal that day to buy meat and I meant to accomplish that goal.  So, I went to the second market, purchased some green apples and nectarines, and cautiously made my way over to the meat lady.  Now, going to purchase meat usually involves entering what we PCV’s call “the murder room” and breathing through your mouth while keeping the dry heaves to a minimum.  Well, the lady in this market just has a table in the market with what is usually beef on it and no heads or intestines in sight.

She knows the rest of the PCV’s in Erdenet and had seen me in the market before, so she smiled at me and didn’t laugh when I asked for “moo” meat (my brain will NOT accept the word for cow meat into the long term memory section). So, I ask for 1 kilo of “moo” meat, okchgui (without fat) and she hacks off a large bit for me after I approve the cut.  Then, I asked her for meat for “minnee moor” (my cat) and she pointed to a different cut at a lesser price and hacked off a kilo of that.  She put both cuts in a small plastic bag, I paid and then went on my way–a semi-experienced meat buyer.

So, I came home and put the groceries away and promptly decided that it was time for the apartment to get properly cleaned. “Cleaned” may be a pretty hefty word to call what I did–dusted, picked up and put away clutter, took out trash and washed dishes.  I decided against running the vaccuum cleaner–still don’t know how to use it exactly and didn’t want it to blow up.

At this point, it was a little past lunch time and I thought it would be good to see if my meat cooking abilities had gotten rusty.  I cut up some of my meat (on the separate meat cutting board, with the separate meat cutting knife), rinsed it and got it going in a marinade of olive oil, garlic salt, pepper, a little water and A1 sauce.  I slow cooked it and let me tell you, it was waaaay better than I had expected it to be (and yes, Mom, I cooked it ALL the way through, no mediums or medium rares for this girl while I’m in Mongolia).

So after cleaning up, my sitemate Bradley texted me and asked if I would be interested in eating dinner with he and Alona (another M19 sitemate).  I said I would definitely be interested and told both of them to come to my apartment when they were ready.  They came over and we decided to eat Chinese food (don’t judge me, I’ve been craving Chinese food longer than I’ve been craving pesto).

We went out to dinner and ate some sweet and sour chicken that was really, really good (despite my abhorrance to sweet and meat mixed together).  No hot and sour soup was on the menu, so that craving goes unanswered (and definitely no crab rangoon, sad). So we ate and talked and got to know each other, it was really nice.

So after a couple of hours together, we departed and I knew that when I got home there was one more thing for me to accomplish: use the washing machine.  This is definitely not an American machine.  It’s really light (I had to push it from the bathroom into the kitchen in order to use it) and there’s no rinse cycle.  Oh, and you have to fill it up using a tube from the sink faucet into the washing basin.  So you put in clothes, fill up the basin, put in detergent, set the timer and listen to what sounds like a horrible monster eating some kindergardeners until it’s finished.  You then take another tube attached to the bottom of the machine, take the other end and put it in the sink.  This is the drain.  After the water is drained, you take the really wet clothes and put them into the spinner (which is supposed to wring out the excess water, but in reality doesn’t do much).

After the spinner is done, you take out your still wet clothes, give them some final wrings in the sink and hang them on your laundry lines to dry.  This long process is why I only got through 2 loads last night before going to bed.  But, I have some clean clothes and my arms aren’t sore from scrubbing.

Well, I’m going to go and try to tackle another load this evening (if my clothes from last night are dry–it rained last night and this afternoon of course).  I’ll write again soon!  Enjoy your amenities!


Likes and Dislikes

As I was walking to work this morning, I thought to myself, “I do not miss my old commute to work at all”.  I have a 5 minute walk to work every morning, and even though I know that soon that walk will be in -20 degree temperatures, I still don’t think I will want to trade it for the 1 hour each way drive I used to do every day.

Things I don’t/won’t miss include:  Worrying about the amount and stylishness of my work clothes; finding a parking space at work/Wal-Mart/anywhere in LR and then subsequently forgetting where the car is parked; refilling the water jug at work; celebrity gossip (a little is entertaining, any more than that is annoying); feeling guilty about not going to the gym after work; Valentine’s Day; investiture booklets; Fox News; having to fill up my car with gas twice a week; work cliques (my office is one big room where the 8 of us work at our desks); work elevators breaking down; fire drills; the looooooooong Monday morning Huddle meetings; metered parking (which I never paid, but it still irked me).

That’s all I have for right now.  Feel free to add your own “could do without” list. Appreciate your amenities! Love, Katie.

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