July 31, 2017

I seem to have zero patience with stupid Internet trolls

So I just received a Facebook notification and realized that someone left a "hilarious/laugh" emoji next to a review I left for Kinokuniya bookstore in NYC (Bryant Park). When I went to go see it, I realized that there was also another person who had left a similar emoji previously.

The review was from October 1, 2016, after we had made the trip with Piri, our last one before he crossed the rainbow bridge just 14 days later. 

To our friends, you all know that trip was a special one for us. 

And that visit to Kinokuniya was a complete nightmare. It was pouring rain out and despite us double, triple, quadruple checking (even having a Japanese speaker calling to ask if the store was dog friendly) and us repeatedly getting a "yes, we are dog friendly" answer only to be turned away when we got there. This whole process was just fucking annoying, to be honest and I wasn't going to let them go on doing their business without hearing about our unpleasant experience.

My thing was, get your policy straight. You literally had us walk block after block in pouring rain to be turned away. You can't have staff say yes over the phone and then have your staff manning the doors say no. Are you that dysfunctional and disorganized? 

So I get pretty pissed over these types of trolling. I know.. I should just ignore it. But really? After reading that experience, it's funny to you? Why because you can't understand why a person would bring a dog to a bookstore? It looks like we're just getting worked up over nothing because we sound like crazy dog people to you. Because you can't understand our lifestyle and how we choose to spend our time in NYC. 

I angrily wrote to the one who laughed at the comment over Facebook. And guess what? He responded with the same laughing emoji. 

What a fucking loser. 

Hey Michael Gates. I hope life gives you real unpleasant experiences and learning lessons as you grow older. And I hope you learn to try to understand everyone's experiences and stories instead of laughing at them. I hope one day when you experience something sour, that you are met with a bucket full of condescending ridicule. 

I normally hate to dish right back, but some people are just not worth my damn patience.

July 28, 2017

Foodie app and other Friday Favorites

I recently discovered the Foodie app and every day I've been trying to take pictures of our meals. Along with it, our conversation topic which ranged from how our day was to the movie Erin Brockovich and grassroots organizing. 

Even on days when I felt like doing another night of take out, I pushed on through in the kitchen and Yangkyu and I've been whipping up even the simplest dishes and enjoying each other's company too.

We hope you'll have a wonderful weekend. We'll be busy with.. you guessed it. Lots of dog guests. We're going to have 5 on Saturday. Wowza.

// Along with daily meal pictures, I've also gotten into the habit of tweeting out songs every night (mostly Korean indie but others as well). I have the one from last night on repeat today. It's Carmin by Jane Jang

 // Some people may recall how I went on a shopping spree after Bartles passed because I was so upset (mostly because Yangkyu wouldn't consider adopting a dog and so I rebelled - heh). I have since returned almost everything, except this blouse. I also wore it to Lady's adoption show

 // "Every single shelter in the country has senior dogs that are looking for a home and family, and they really need you." A couple changed their lives to help senior dogs and this will probably be one of the best videos you'll see.  

 // A vegan alternative to your apparel. 

// Meet Sophie Sue. After we adopted Lady, it opened up space in her former foster mom's home for another dog to get a shot at meeting her forever family. That's Sophie Sue. She's deaf, has Cushing's disease, kidney disease and dry eye. Those are what exactly Mr. Bartles had, but I hope that won't discourage you. For anyone who is willing to give her the life she deserves, you will be rewarded with endless nights of love and devotion from a dog who is probably the only living being that will love you more than itself. And what you will learn in the process is that a simple act of adopting, caring and loving a senior dog with medical issues is more worthwhile than all the accolades you will ever receive in your lifetime, and while you will be amazed at the amount of strength and spirit the dog has, you will be even more surprised by how much you possess those qualities as well. 

July 27, 2017

Getting to know Lady + some of her favorite things

This Saturday will be 3 weeks since Lady coming home to us and every day we see her get even more comfortable with her new surroundings and make this place her home. 

I mentioned that Lady likes to chase squirrels, salamanders, rabbits and chipmunks. She'll see them and her ears will perk up right away and go after them. The other night I also learned that Lady likes to chase planes. We were out in our yard and a few flew over our home and she playful hopped forward chasing it with her head up staring at the sky and her tail wagging (her tail is always happy). Lady hardly barks but this time she did and ended up leading all our guest dogs in a round of woofs, although I don't think they really knew why they were barking (they're not really plane chasers).

When it's time to brush her teeth and clean her ears, she runs away, but manages to do just fine when  Yangkyu holds her and I brush and clean. Lady by the way has really clean ears, which is shocking for me because Piri and Bartles always had discharge in their ears. 

When it comes to grooming her paws, she is an angel. She is also an angel during bath time and doesn't have the crazy zoomies afterwards, nor does she try to dry herself on our sheets or carpet. But when she is let out while still wet she will dry herself on the grass. I had to carry her inside afraid that she would get dirty all over again. 

Lady is a little food aggressive. I was helping move things around in her bowl so she wouldn't have such a hard time picking it up and she let out a small growl. She also snapped at one of the guest dogs during treat time. 

It has been a little tricky with guest dogs as Lady doesn't like to have her personal space intruded when she is lying down. When she sees a dog approach, she'll growl and let them know to stay away. If a dog happens to touch her while coming from behind, she lunges at them and tries to bite. She can't hear and so she doesn't know that they're coming from behind and so I think it startles her. Lady's reactions are not aggressive but it caught us off guard in the beginning because we never really had a dog that did this. But we have gotten so much better and we see that every day she is getting better as well, even when dogs come up behind her she is ok. She's learning, just as we are, about each other, about this new space of ours and all the friends who come here.

Lady is currently on medicine for her incontinence. It's called Proin and Piri used to be on it when he became incontinent after his neuter surgery, which he got late (at 7 years old). His surgery ended up being a not so great one and had to be rushed to the ER to recover and soon afterwards he developed incontinence. He was on Proin for a number of years and when he was diagnosed with kidney disease our vet wanted to take him off of the medication to relieve his organs. He ended up doing ok and thankfully didn't have any leaks. 

Lady takes three tablets a day but we have tried to give her just two for the past week and a half, and she has had only two small leaks since. We give her one in the morning and one right before bed and at 6 pm we give her a bladder supplement from VetriScience. It doesn't smell that great and giving it to her has been a challenge but we are able to mask the smell with wet food. We just wrap it inside this pill masker or pill pockets and she gobbles it up. Although after writing this, she did try to just lick up the wet food and not take the pill pocket. She gets smarter every day. 

We also found that pill treats work very well for Lady too although we haven't tried giving her the supplements with them, just Proin. It's hard and so she isn't able to spit the medicine out. I think it also tastes like Bacon.

Lady isn't really into toys - just cuddle time, neck scratches, treats and food. 

Currently she gets a home cooked meal twice a day. We have been rotating between boiled chicken, boiled pork, salmon and cod with vegetables and boiled sweet potato. I add a freeze dried topper from either Stella and Chewy's or Wysong and also some bone broth from The Honest Kitchen and she has been eating very well. Although... after a taste of Fromm and Weruva wet food to eat her medicine with, she sometimes will wait a few moments after I give her food to see if something better might be served. She really is a clever girl.  

Since we've been having guest dogs I don't do her Orijen Senior dry food on a free feeding basis (some dogs that come here are on a strict diet) and so instead I've been just giving her 1/3 cup with some Stella and Chewy toppings around noon and she eats that well, too. 

For the past week, I've been also giving her little pieces of raw food - Steve's Real Food, and she loves it and has been digesting it well. I am currently thinking of either incorporating it fully to her meal rotation (I've been just giving it to her like a treat -  just a couple of morsels at a time) or switching over to raw completely. 

Lady hasn't been really using the doggy beds. She prefers the floor or carpet. She also doesn't stay on top of the sofa for too long. I am not sure if it's because it's too hot for her. 

Yangkyu wants to give her a summer cut. With Piri and Bartles I never had a hesitation to shave them down and they always sported short cuts, but for some reason I can't picture Lady with a short do (although she did have it when she was rescued - she was found in a matted state). I said, "She's a girl! She needs her fur!" I didn't know I could sound so old fashioned.

Right now Lady is sleeping right next to me. Piri for a long time had always wanted to be with me and only wanted to go on walks with me, but during the last couple of years of his life, Yangkyu was his life. He was always by his side. I would bathe him, clean his ears, brush his teeth, give him his food, treats and medicine, take him out to pee and potty and wipe him and then after all that he would make his ways upstairs to be with Yangkyu. Bartles too it seemed liked Yangkyu's company more. Perhaps they were a guy's guy. So I like to say that Lady is still my girl. She likes to stick by me and follow me around, although she likes to give everyone kisses and a happy tail wag too. She even gave it to the UPS guy that came to drop off a delivery yesterday.

Lady will go for her first vet visit for a physical examination on August 2. We have been contemplating on switching vets for her and going to a place where OBG Cocker Spaniel Rescue has an established relationship with, but we will likely go back to Dr. Klein who looked after Piri and Bartles. 

I took these photos of Lady yesterday. It reminded me so much of Bartles, whom I did a first photo shoot with on a snowy winter day. With Lady is was a sunny summer day. And now I think I will always associate summers with Lady. 

Lady's daily supplements

Lady's Commercial Dog Food

July 25, 2017

Travel Korea - Seoul

After our three day trip to Jeju Island, we came back to the capital of Korea, Seoul, to visit some famous landmarks and historic sites. Some we have been to when we were kids, while others it was visiting for the first time. 

On an early morning, we woke up and took the subway to the nearest station to Changdeokgung. We grabbed a quick breakfast on the way after spotting a little store that sold Korean style toast. Yangkyu had boiled fish cakes on a stick as well. At first he didn't know how to order it but saw a lady come up behind him, grab a stick, eat it, pay and left without saying a single word, and so he did the exact same thing except he said thank you and good bye. There was a dish with soy sauce that you an dip your fish cakes in but Yangkyu was a bit worried about germs and hygiene and so he opted to skip the soy sauce (lol).

Yangkyu's brother and sister-in-law were surprised that we chose to visit Changdeokgung instead of the more grander and more famous palaces such as Gyeongbokgung. My main reason was because I had already visited Gyeongbokgung and Deoksugung when I last visited Korea in 1998. And while I don't remember too much, I wanted to experience a palace that I have never been to before. 

Changdeokgung is one of the Five Grand Palaces built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty, which lasted from 1392 to 1897. It is located east of Gyeongbokgung and hence also referred to as the East Palace.

It is said that Changdeokgung was the most favored palace among many Joseon princes and had retained many elements dating from the period of the Three Kingdoms of Korea (57 BC - 668 AD), which were not included in the more contemporary Gyeongbokgung. Changdeokgung also is said to embrace Confucian Joseon Dynasty values of modesty, virtue and frugality. And so the palace structure and design is reflective of these values. It also blends in with the natural surroundings and topography instead of imposing upon it. 

Changdeokgung, like the other palaces, was heavily damaged during the Japanese colonization of Korea, which was from 1910 to 1945. Today, only about 30% of the pre-Japanese structures of Changdeokgung survives. 

There is a Korean movie that features Changdeokgung starring Son Ye-Jin and Park Hae-il (we loved him in two amazing movies, Memories of Murder based on a true story and Moss). It's called The Last Princess or Deokhye Ongju.  I didn't realize this movie existed until our flight home from Korea where it available to view on flight. The movie is based on the tragic life of Princess Deokhye and her royal family.

Princess Deokhye was the youngest daughter of Emperor Gojong and his concubine, and was born and resided in Changdeokgung until she was sent away to Japan. "Gongju" which is a more wider known word for princess was only used to daughters of the queen, and "Ongju" referred to daughters born from concubines. You can read more about her tragic life here and also the film here.

After living a tortured life in Japan, Princess Deokhye was able to return to Korea after the war with the permission from the Korean government. She had suffered from severe mental illness while residing in Japan, but is said to have remembered court manners upon her return to Changdeokgung. 

You can watch the movie on Youtube (trailer also available if you click the link), Amazon or Google Play, starting from $3.99.

Yangkyu's sister-in-law, who was so helpful during our entire trip to Korea, reserved tickets for us to tour Changdeokgung and Huwon, which is the Secret Garden located at the rear of the palace. You can only view the Secret Garden as part of a guided tour*, which is available in Korean and English. Spaces for both tours get filled up quickly, but fortunately the English guided tours had more spots than Korean guided tours. For me, while I am able to speak both languages, understanding the historic background of the palace would have been hard to understand and so we opted to go with the English tour. Our spots were reserved a couple of days before online.

*Because of the early spring season, our tour guide let us know that we can view the Secret Garden on our own but were welcomed to peruse with her if we would like explanations of certain sights. We stuck with the tour group till the end. It lasted about 1 hour with lots of quick breaks in-between for people to take pictures and rest. Please wear comfortable shoes as going through the rear garden has hilly spots and is a long walk. I thought that 1 hour would be too long but it goes by very quickly and you cover about 70+ acres of beautiful land filled with wonderful greenery, history structures and ponds. It really is a must see if you visit Changdeokgung.

While I don't remember Gyeongbokgung and Deoksoogung very well, I can't help but say that Changdeokgung is by far my favorite palace. Gyeongbokgung is huge, grand and majestic, obviously because it served as the main palace for many kings until it was destroyed by fire. 

Changdeokgung though has a certain charm - with little doors that take you through small alleyways. The whole place feels like it holds a a ton of secrets, and you're only let it on them if you have the patience to go through every nook and cranny and appreciate the beautiful architecture and detail. While smaller than Gyeongbokgung, it is by far more charming and I loved that about this palace. 

Yangkyu and I have played with the idea of living in Korea for a few years and after my visit to Changdeokgung I thought, I wouldn't mind working as a English tour guide. It left that kind of impression on me to want to be here telling the stories and historic significance of the palace. 

I also have to note, throughout our time at Changdeokgung and also nearby areas of Bukchon Hanok Village and Insadong, we saw many foreign tourists visit these areas wearing traditional hanbok and other traditional wear (we even saw someone dressed as an Emperor and a Magistrate). There are many places where you can rent them for a day and I believe you can get discounted ticket prices at palaces or at times ticket prices are waived altogether (however, due to popularity, some discount or fee waiving policies may have changed to serving only the first x number of visitors per day). 

After our time at Changdeokgung, we made a short walk over to Bukchon Hanok Village, but only after grabbing several bites to eat along a street that had many cute stores and restaurants. We ended up eating our favorites, ddukbbokki (spicy rice cakes) and dumplings, ah-boong or ice cream boong uh bbang, cup myun (noodles in a cup) and kkochi (Korean rice cake skewers). I didn't take pictures of most of the food we had in Korea with my camera and so instead I'll feature them separately when I share my iPhone photos from Korea. They are even delicious to look at. 

Bukchon Hanok Village is located in-between Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung, so planning your day to visit these palaces and Bukchon Hanok Village is probably your best bet. If you want to squeeze in one more area, Insadong will also probably work (we did Changdeokgung, Bukchon Hanok Village and Insadong in one day). 

A quick note before we get into Bukchon Hanok Village - real residents live in this traditional village and so everyone is asked to keep quiet to respect the residents. There are many people holding "shhh" and "quiet please" signs along the alleyways that lead you throughout the entire village. It is quite crowded and definitely a tourist favorite. While there area real homes in the village, there are also lots of cultural experience centers, tea shops and traditional restaurants for visitors. 

The whole purpose of this traditional village is for people to experience the atmosphere of the Joseon Dynasty. It is beautiful. We loved every alleyway and curve and stairs and detail. "Bukchon" means Northern village ("hanok" means traditional homes) and was traditionally inhabited by nobles, serving in the palace. After wars and disasters, it was occupied by commoners.

Our final sightseeing for the day was Insadong. I think a lot of people have lots of fun here but for me it wasn't all that great. There are definitely lots of cute shops and restaurants (even a poo restaurant and museum). It's popular among couples, young people and many tourists.

Yangkyu and I perused the streets and had more street food (Twist Potato, or Hweori Gamja, was so good). We visited a traditional tea house (there are traditional tea houses in Bukchon Hanok Village but we decided to go to on in Insadong) where I walked in on a lady who didn't lock the single toilet bathroom -- eck! We bought a little tag and hung it on at the "Wall of Love." But the most notable thing we did was getting a Piri's Place stamp made on the spot (it's made by this company that specializes in calligraphy and handmade stamps and I believe they have stalls not only in Insadong, but other locations as well). It takes about 15 minutes to make and while each stamp works best with either two or three character words, the person who made ours was able to squeeze in four characters (to spell out Piri's Place in Korean) and also include a little cocker spaniel face as well. Currently, it's sitting right on the table where Piri and Bartles are resting.

Well, that concludes another day of traveling in Korea for us. Our next post is all about visiting Namsam Seoul Tower. Hope you'll join us for that adventure. 

PS -- It's taken me a while to continue posting about Korea. To be honest, it's been a little hard as it brings back sad memories of Mr. Bartles. Leading up to our Korea trip, Bartles fell ill and he was crying at what seemed to be pain and discomfort. We had thought it was his back and had put him on supplements. He had calmed down significantly the day before we left and I believed he would get better, but the first week while we were in Korea he wasn't well at all. I remember feeling so bad for his former foster mom who was caring for him while we were away (I still feel so bad). He got better after visiting the vet and being put on antibiotics for UTI but after coming back from Korea, from April to July 1, he was battling the same chronic and stubborn UTI and eventually crossed the rainbow bridge. And so sadly, I can't help but associate our trip with Mr. Bartles and his latest hardships before he passed. I feel guilty for having such a good time and feel bad that we didn't end up canceling and staying with him until he got better. There seems to be a lot of regretful decisions when it came to Mr. B and I hope one day he'll be able to forgive me.

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