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Archive for May, 2008

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We are leaving Hong Kong in a couple of months to return to the U.S.

Yes, yes we are.

And I know that so many of you (thousands are reading this blog, right?!) are thinking as you read this that it is such a missed opportunity for us to leave now.  And you may be right to some degree.  But I / we have our reasons.

There is the health concerns for me having this baby and having a consistent doctor.  Without Cybr’s employer allowing us the International insurance plan, we cannot have that consistency.  I am sure the public hospitals here are fine, but once I found out there is a little alien inside me it suddenly became really important that I have the type of health care that I am really comfortable with and a consistent doctor.  It is not doable here.  Plus, if there were any major complications or unforeseen events near delivery time, this birth here sans insurance could put us in the poor house, quite literally, and there are about a hundred scenarios of unforeseen events rushing through my over-thinking brain right now.

The financial risk is the biggest risk of all for us to have this baby here, at least to have the kind of care I could get in the U.S.

Another reason, for me personally, is that having this baby here without the help/support of family or friends scares me beyond the realm of reason.

So, there you have it.  If you are now placing judgment on me, then piss off until you are in my shoes.  If you are wondering why I am explaining my reasons, then let me assure you I am not explaining myself…just sharing, it is a blog and that is what I do.  If you are wondering how Cybr feels about all this, let me assure you that if it could be different then he would probably be happy to stay.  But he is fully supportive of the decision and was involved in making the decision.  We weighed the pros and cons, then weighed the stress levels caused by both staying and going…and here we are.

I will miss Hong Kong greatly.  This has been the most incredible thing I have ever done in my life, well at least the most adventurous thing.  Now I am preparing to do the greatest thing…bring a life into the world.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over…we are trying to do as much as we can before we leave.

After a painfully lazy day yesterday, Cybr and I have decided to take off early this morning to get a bit of breakfast and see the new Indiana Jones movie. Afterward, we may head out to an outdoor market to check out some camera supplies (yay!).

I may get crazy later on and give Cybr a haircut (yes, I do this at home and no, I have no formal training — hehe).

Big fun! Hope everyone is enjoying their long weekend back in the U.S.!

*EDITED TO ADD*

We saw the movie and it was good. Not earth-shattering good, but entertaining nonetheless. My only real grievance was that the seats in the movie theater hurt my butt. They seats on the public buses are more comfortable!

You may have wondered why you haven’t read anything about saving kittehs here at my bl0ggedy blog.

It is fairly simple, really.  Since getting pregnant I haven’t been able to trap.  Oh, sure, I show up for moral support sometimes and I still feed all the harbor cats every Wednesday night, but it isn’t the same.

I miss trapping and making a difference in the cat population…but what’s a girl to do?

I can no longer lift the heavy trap cages up over the fence which is shoulder height and I can no longer jump the fence to place the traps among the rocks where the cats live.  So, no trapping. Period.

I really do feel a bit like something is missing.

Here’s a tiny little update on the cats, though.  Kasey, the cat that it took more than a year to trap, had recently disappeared for a long while.  I had pretty much figured that she was dead it had been so long –  and then just about a week or so ago, she turned up when I was out feeding.  She came right up to me and began rubbing against my leg.  I was very pleased to see her and glad she is alive and well.

There is still trapping being done, but the number of cats trapped since I stopped doing it has dwindled down to nearly non-existent numbers.  Not that anyone is incapable, but I had a knack for it and got at least one nearly every time I went out (after much practice!!).  At least there is someone still trying!

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I may have mentioned a long time ago that I (and ‘I’ really means Cybr did all the technical bits) was reconstructing Shotsauce.com (my photography site)…

Well, that task has finally been completed.  Mostly.

And mostly is good enough for me.  I hated the Coppermine layout (I would insert a link here so you could familiarize yourself, if not already, but it is SOOOO NOT WORTH IT!) I had before and now I think it looks better and is much more user-friendly than before.  Plus, I can eventually make it so that customers can log on to view their photos, maybe.  That is really a long way off, especially since at some point I am not going to be physically capable of taking photos due to my giant belly.

So, if you have a moment to spare, go check out some of my photos and the new digs at Shotsauce.com.

Nearly everyone here has a domestic helper that lives with them. And I really do mean nearly everyone. Many more people than not.

This is an unnatural phenomenon to middle-class Americans like us. We don’t have one. We are not accustom to that kind of lifestyle. I can, however, totally understand why everyone seems to have one.

It costs $3700 HK dollars per month to have a domestic helper, roughly $474 US dollars.

The domestic helper lives in a tiny closet-sized room with a toilet and sink and no air conditioning. They wake at the butt-crack of dawn, get cleaned up and dressed then start the day super-early to cook for everyone, clean everything, do laundry, do shopping, walk dogs, care for children, etc… This work is an ALL day thing, as many full-time helpers work from between 5-7 am until at least 8-8:30 at night and some until much later, 6 days per week. Sundays and public holidays are the universal day off for all helpers (but I understand there are some employers that require their domestic helper work on Sundays and Public holidays, much to the helper’s dismay I would assume).

I have a friend that is a domestic helper. She is from Sri Lanka, although the vast majority of domestic helpers seem to be from the Philippines. She is the nicest lady. I really enjoy her company. She told me that there are some helpers from India that are brought here by their employers and paid only $1500 HKD per month and have to work 7 days a week and are treated poorly. The employers do this for the same reason bears will shit in the woods…because they can. Apparently, wages and economy are so bad in parts of India that even a nurse will only be earning the equivalent of $1500 HKD per month. That is so sad, no one can do anything but barely survive on that.

I see some people here speak to their domestic helpers like they are nothing more than a pile of dog crap. I see some people here carry only their designer handbag, while they have their domestic helper carrying more than one human being can carry without potentially hurting themselves. And even then, they don’t hold the door.

This is not to say that every person is cruel. Some of them are, which is true anywhere in the world. Not to mention, I have heard some stories about some relatively vicious helpers being cruel to family pets, stealing and being home-wreckers.  In contrast, there are employers who treat their helpers like they are part of the family, who appreciate all they do for the kids/home/dogs/family, who pay for trips home so their helpers can see their family they have left behind, and who regularly increase their helpers salary.

All I know for certain is that my friends’ daughter came here to work as a domestic helper so she can make good money compared to what she makes in Sri Lanka, and she was a Pediatric Nurse in Sri Lanka.  My friend is very concerned about this, as she doesn’t want to see her daughter get into a contract (generally a two year contract) with someone that treats her like shit. She is a good mom, this is what I think about as she reminds me to drink my juice and eat some fruit. She is such a mom, it makes me chuckle.

I wish her and her daughter well.

By the way, it is TOTALLY taboo for me to be friends with a domestic helper…and vice versa. I just don’t care what anyone thinks.

Oh, I have stuff to say…I just haven’t taken the time to post. That’s a bad blogger…bad.

Anyway, I have been lounging at the pool catching some UV rays and working on my skin cancer, er, I mean tan. Actually, the tan part is coming through SPF30 and SPF50 sunblock. The sun is very powerful and hot here. I have been visiting the pool regularly to get some exercise and relax in the water. I was working out in a gym, but I got bad cramps every time so I had to stop. The pool is working out really well, not only do I feel better but I have a bit of glowing skin as well…maybe it is that infamous pregnancy glow, or maybe it is my pasty white, dull skin getting some much needed color. Either way, it works out well for me.

I did see a little boy (maybe 1 yr old) swimming with his mommy the other day and when they got out of the pool she changed him out of his swim diaper. I noticed the frantic embarrassed reaction of the the mother out of the corner of my eye and glanced over to realize that it was because when she took off the swim diaper and reached into the bag for a real diaper, he had a fountain-like stream of urine aimed right at her. Hehe, kinda funny (unless it is you, I suppose).

Other than swimming, the only thing I have going on here is tickets to see Seussical today at 2 pm, dinner with friends afterward and trying my damnedest to keep my hands clean to avoid hand, foot and mouth disease. Hand, foot and mouth disease has recently been called an epidemic in mainland China where (at last report that I read) there have been a reported 43 deaths of children from the disease. Apparently, it has worked its way into Hong Kong and even our small community of Discovery Bay. I know with certainty that an acquaintance of mine that lives across the street has young children who have contracted the disease and are being treated.

I read that while most adults have a strong enough immune system to fight the disease, children often do not and pregnant women and their unborn children can be at greater risk from the disease….So, I will be avoiding small children like they have the Plague and washing my hands so frequently that they become raw.

One last thing I must share is the dream I had last night.

I dreamed that I was driving with Chini in a convertible of some sort and the backseat was full of my personal effects. I stopped at night to go by an ATM far cash, I got out of the car, told Chini to stay, and reached into my purse to get my wallet when a menacing stranger approached my car. I instinctively knew he was going to be trouble, but kept my hand in my purse minding my business hoping he would pass. He didn’t pass, he held a gun on me and went about rummaging through my belongings, pistol whipped my dog for barking at him and, of course, continued to threaten my life with a gun. This really pissed me off. I don’t like to be threatened and I would hurt some one for hurting my dog, so I (still having my hand in my purse where he can’t see) grab my gun, pull it out and promptly shoot him in the head.

There is an obvious bullet hole in his forehead between his eyebrows, yet in my dream he is still trying to aim his gun at me and making verbal threats. I say to him, “You have a bullet in the brain, you cannot still be standing!” and with that, he dropped to the ground.

This is the good part…

Suddenly, I am not alone. Dr. Doug Ross and other former staff members from ER show up to attempt to revive or repair this guy I shot. Meh, I am not impressed so I leave. I drive to a nearby house (I have no idea who’s house this is, but I must know someone!) and I go in. There are people there that I do not recognize and then in walks NoMiniMom with a variety of Dairy Queen items for me and everyone else in the house.

I find this amusing in my waking state, as Dairy Queen sounds REALLY FREAKING GOOD even though ice cream makes me feel ill for several hours after I eat it.  It is probably for the best that there are no Dairy Queens in Hong Kong, I am not certain I could resist. This baby is a salt fiend, not real into sweets — complete opposite of me!

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Pounding headache due to relentless sinus pressure…and I can’t take much of anything for relief!
So, I haven’t much to say today.  Enjoy the funny and I’ll see you back here tomorrow.