Saturday, December 30, 2006

A bit crusty....

but tasted similar to scalloped potatos. Didn't know if the oven would work. Put the rack too low and burned the food. All of it was nice and dry. Luckily the burnt flavor didn't eminate throughout the parts we did it!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

"No manacotti is the meal, Makati is the city"

Told Babs that her question about the city name would end up on my blog. Would have to quote her. So there it is.

Having a good time with Aunt Babs and Grandma Joy. Just getting ready to make our Christmas Eve meal, improvised scalloped potatos, ham, green beans, rolls, and a glass of wine if we can find a wine opener.

Rachel Ray would be proud of my scalloped potatos. Well, I should reserve that comment until we taste them. Couldn't find frozen hashbrowns, so I bought frozen french fries. Will cut them up, add sour cream and cream of mushroom soup, throw some cheddar cheese on it and bake. Don't know if the oven works, so the scalloped potatos may be sauteed.

Went sightseeing yesterday to Intramuros and downtown Manila. Enjoyed lunch at Max's Restaurant, with the tag line of "the restaurant that fried chicken built." Sat in the restaurant section holding a christening party....yes a christening at a restaurant similar to Sizzler's.

Went to a free concert at the mall of Christmas music. They ended the event with the fireworks I have linked on my You Tube account. Now that I successfully did this, more videos to come.

Finally broke down and bought a coffee maker. Hadn't done so on principle. The fact is the furnished condo should have a coffee maker. But two coffee services bought at Starbucks is equal to the cost of the coffe maker. So had to do it.

Will have toast on Christmas morning. Borrowed the toaster from Loree's condo. Yes, another principle thing. I texted before I purchased one at the mall. Getting real good at texting.

And guess what? Another important day shared with Jon Bon Jovi. Walking into the lobby of the condo with Loree's toaster and I hear...."never say goodbye.." by my buddy Jon.

The Manila Adventure with Bon Jovi continues....

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth...

James and I have revised the lyrics to.... ALL WE WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS THE TWO TRUCKS FIXED. Check out the photos...the trucks are at Burien Toyota. We'll find out if the trucks are totalled or going to be repaired.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Shooting in My Color Modes- Sepia tones WOW

Ahh embracing technology and all it's amazing capabilities. Signed up for my You Tube account so I could publish the short movies I've taken on my digital camera. Took great pictures of Reyde's birthday, movies of his Christmas program where he cried the whole time, pictures of him hugging Santa, Jay's last day at AMMEX I-Support, the AMMEX Christmas party, movies of the employees singing, JAY singing, all to be lost to Canon not programming the 'ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO RESET THE MEMORY CARD? THIS WILL DELETE ALL SAVED ITEMS."

I spent Sunday afternoon reading my camera instruction booklet, figuring stuff out. Changing colors, changing tones, increasing volumes, yatta yatta yatta. Went to listen to Jay singing and there is nothing to playback. Oh shit. Read the booklet and see that it says in the booklet that resetting the memory card will erase everything. BUT CANON DIDN'T PROGRAM THE IDIOT PROOFING QUESTION "ARE YOU SURE?" I cried.

Here's the Sepia tone pics. Yeee haww.

James Mom and Aunt arrive on Tuesday night at 11pm. Joy is bringing the video of our house in Normandy Park. If I figure out how to download that, maybe I'll publish the movie of the trucks and the damage from the wind storm.

We are so grateful for the generous, kind people in our neighborhood. Got the call on my Friday night at 11.30 from Amy.

"Hi Amy, I was just getting ready to call Mom and see how everyone faired through the storm."

"Well, that is what I am calling about. (my stomach met my toes.) Mom is okay but her truck is not. Her cell phone is going dead, can you call Jim and Joy and ask them to come help. She's a bit shaky."

So I first call our neighbor Bill to see if he can come help. He said he's been outside and it looks pretty bad, that he can go over in about 15 minutes.

"Can you go right now? My mom is a bit shaken up."

"Sure." Thank God for Bill. Mom's SUV is toast, James truck is toast, and the fence is toast. But having a guy around made Mom feel better.

I came over to the condo and got my insurance policies, told James, and he got ahold of Jim.

Thank God for Jim. Jim headed over, took Mom to the store to get food and lukewarm coffee. In the meantime my claims are in and they say we can cut the tree off the trucks. Jim cleans up our yard and gets the trees off so the towing company can take the rigs away.

Mom is still without power, and my other neighbors Ross and Margo brought Starbuck's coffee to her today, and Bill to the rescue again, helps Mom load the dogs in the rental car.

Mom is now warm and toasty in her house in West Seattle. With the doggies. Oh and the turtles. Gotta make sure they don't freeze, so her sleepover is complete.

Thank God for Mom.

Chestnuts Roasting...

at Landmark? Yessiree Bob...couldn't believe my the veggie section I spy chestnuts roasting...under bare bulb light. Had to confirm it..."are those chestnuts...yes mam would you like to I just want to take a picture..."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Birthday Boy

Just a little celebration for Reyde today. Got a little overwhelmed with all the attention, but overall he had a great day.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Oh Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree

"That looks cluttered now."

"Oh you mean we are trying to make this look elegant?"

It's Sunday and we've spent the entire day inside. It's rained and blown the entire day. I actually pulled out the only pair of sweat pants I brought. And while it has been really dreary weather, it's still so warm that Reyde is in shorts, and we've had the sliding door open to enjoy the cool breeze.

Have gotten in the Christmas spirit today. Created our Christmas card online with Although I am going against my Christmas card #1 rule, (which is sending cards that are generic and not signed,) I am pretty excited to have done this techno savvy thing. Hope you all like it. And for those of you that won't receive one; I don't have your address!

Thank God for Warm 106.9. Have had Christmas music in the condo as we decorated our Pinoy Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Click on the site and get a steady stream of holiday spirit.

While I took the photo of the finished tree, "Feliz Navidad" came on the computer. Coincidence? No, it's the magic of the season at work. And while I wanted to pick up the phone and call somebody and scream the chorus "I WANT TO WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS....I WANT TO WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS..." I'll have to be content with Reyde now singing the words feliz navidad as he makes paper airplanes with James.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me

Putting one of my all time favorite photos up.
Because I can, and it's my birthday.
And I'm gonna it's my birthday.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Finally, the Boracay photos

What you all have been waiting for...our photos from Boracay. Click on the link below to see paradise.

I tend to be long winded, so I'll do my best to summarize the weekend in 5 million characters or less.

Thursday morning, I got off work at 6am, came home, woke the boys up, finished packing-almost forgetting Reyde's life jacket, and headed off to the airport. Got there early and caught an earlier flight. Reyde had no problem getting on the plane as I expected he would be nervous with all the noise of a propeller plane.

Just a quick 75 minute ride. I slept about 45 minutes of this- thank God. Took a quick van ride to the boat launch. From there is was 15 minutes to the actual island. Hopped on a van with open sides and drove to the resort. Greeted by numerous employees, we received a welcoming necklace made of some vegetation, and a cool bevie...that being Tang. They love Tang here.

Our room was ready, we quickly got our suits on and headed to the pool and the ocean. Reyde enjoyed the pool more than the ocean and I think this had to do with the pool having sides. He could tell where the water started and ended. Oh and probably the fact that fish would bump into his legs in the ocean.

Spent about 3 hours in the water, came in, got dressed, and had lunch in the open air restaurant. I ordered calamari, chicken adobo, sauteed green beans, cheese egg rolls, and a cheese sandwich for Reyde. The day and swimming tuckered him out; he fell asleep at the table.

Had a 2 hour family nap, got up and had dinner at the beach. It was incredible. No wind, tropical jazz music, lanterns, and some really good grilled food. Reyde ate like a champ, I had noodles with alfred sauce made for him. After dinner, we played on the beach in the sand by lantern light. The temperature of the air was high 70s. James couldn't believe what we were experiencing.

Friday we stayed at the hotel and played in the pool and ocean. I had a pedicure on the beach. The lady used sandpaper and a rock for leverage to remove the dead skin on my feet. They have never looked so good. James headed down afterward and had a pedicure and manicure beachside. Enjoyed some tasty adult bevies on the porch as Reyde took a nap.

Dinner on the beach Friday night. Unfortunately James ate some bad oysters and got really sick. We had planned to go on a boat ride and snorkeling on Saturday. We cancelled, and the boat guy was kind enough to take care of James; got fresh coconuts and told James to drink the juice to help his stomach. What a nice guy. And the juice helped.

Friday night we walked the beach to the market area. Fun area, and the place where everyone parties at night. If we didn't have Reyde, we would have gone out. Had dinner at Jammers, where Jay recommended we go for a good hamburger. It was good, and fun to watch people stroll the beach.

Got back to the resort for beachside massages. James first, then me. Amazing. The gal used toasted coconut oil. Again, no wind, perfect conditions.

Sunday we went on the boat ride. Snorkeling first, then we headed to Puka Beach for the most amazing lunch. Reyde didn't want to get out of the boat, so the boat guy, Alex, hung out with him while James and I snorkeled. Saw some blue starfish. And we utilized the fast food serice and had some ice cream out on the boat.

For lunch we headed to Puka Beach, yes as in Puka Shells. The origin of the famous necklaces. I bought one as well as a rosary made of puka shells. No, not Catholic but everyone has them so I thought it would be a good souveneir.

Lunch....and I think I told some people about it....but right on the beach, you can see the pictures. Garlic prawns, steamed crab, grilled blue marlin in a marinade of soy sauce, calmansi juice and oyter sauce, pancit, white rice, and fresh french fries. The flies appeared, but so did our waiter with a fan to fan the food and keep the flies from landing. Now that is service.

Headed back to the resort for a rest, which ended up being a dip in the pool, and then on to the ATV ride to the highest point on Boracay. This is where the locals have created a destination and a way to make money. We rode ATVs, well a buggy for Reyde and I, along dirt roads, past residential homes and the back sides of hotels, up to a lookout tower. A bit rickety and I got a little nervous...but went at any rate. The stairs were not even, the terrain rough, and the lookout totally not to "American safety standards." But I sense that the locals figured out a way to make money on the tourists. And when in as the locals do. Reyde petted the monkey, and then I watched to make sure he didn't touch his face after that! The guide for the ATV ride carried Reyde up the stairs and the lookout tower, we didn't have to carry him at all. Then we took a long ride afterward back down to Puka beach to see the sunset.

When we returned the ATVs and paid for the trip, the lady asked where we were from. Seattle. Oh goodness, excitement, showed me her cell phone to say that her sister lives in Seattle, here's her number, and let me get you a souveneir. We left with 2 necklaces and 2 bracelets.

Had dinner at the restaurant on Sunday evening and then back out to the beach for massages. The lady gave us a bottle of toasted coconut oil to take back to Manila; she is the wife of the boat guy. 8 children. Oh my.

Monday we played in the water and headed back to Manila. It was simply amazing. James says it is the best vacation ever. Wants to go back. Me too...but need to figure out how to swing it.

It's so hard to believe that we are living this experience. Who would have ever imagined that we would be living in Manila, and visiting Boracay. I mean really, Boracay wasn't even part of my vocabulary.

We are thankful to have been given this opportunity.

Tuesday afternoon

According to James, "that was the best lunch ever." Just finished lunch made by Ms. Puring. Now doesn't that look delicious and boy do I feel like Oprah! We had pancit and lumpia. And for those of you wanting to brush up on a little culinary knowledge...check this link.

And here's the updated version of the James game....

Friday, December 01, 2006

Boys will be boys

Look at this...James can relax...left to his own devices, hours of amusement can be had with a simple toy gun.

The goal of the game? Stick the bullet to the ceiling and then catch it when it comes down.

On that note, I'm headed to bed to take a siesta. It's 3.50 pm and I've only slept a couple hours today. Need a couple more to function at dinner this evening. Headed to Kaya Korean

Restaurant. Yummy tasty Korean BBQ.

Oh yeah, and here is Reyde sporting a new haircut. Thanks Dad!

Weathering The Storm

Typhoon Reming (international name Durian) came and went on Thursday. It was due to hit Metro Manila but strayed off course and hit south of the city, about 60 miles.

Friday was a slow day in the city; I assumed that people had planned to not come into the city with the pending storm. Wow, they take things serious here.

Found out later that night that Friday was a national holiday. Bonifacio Day.

Here's "team Wendy." Kristian Rosales in the center and Mark Palomer are sales assistants that will be working with me in 2007. As you can see we already think alike...we all wore navy blue on Friday.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Really quick, since I have to go to bed soon. It's 4pm in Manila. We just got back from paradise, so says James. Yes, truly paradise. Absolutely beautiful. I don't know if I can come up with words to describe the island of Boracay. Here's some photos. More to come when I get a chance to pay for a Flickr account.

1) Beach on the way to the market area.
2) Reyde walking the beach.
3) Boarding the boat we took snorkeling and island hopping.
4) Island terrain.
5) James and Reyde in the pool.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Headed to Boracay for Thanksgiving

The adventure continues! James, Reyde and I are headed to Boracay on Thanksgiving Day and spending the weekend at one of the top 10 beaches in the world. Can't believe it. We have reserved a beachfront cabin for 4 nights, 5 days. Planning on having a grand time, taking our shoes off on Thursday and putting them back on on Monday to head home.

Boracay is an hour flight from Manila, we then take a boat and a taxi to get to the resort.

Am not planning on taking my laptop, so no Skyping home for the holiday. We'll be thinking of you all. Probably have a pumpkin flavored tasty adult bevie in your honors!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Reyde's 2nd official day of school

Isn't he cute? Won't he just love this picture as an adult....nice yellow shorts and green shirt.

We have enrolled Reyde into Cambridge International Learning Center. It is a Singapore based school, with instruction in English. All school is taught in English here in the Philippines.

5 other children in his class: 2 Japanese, 1 Indian, 1 Korean, and 1 Filipino.

The best part of the school? WOO WOO. A freaking Christmas program. Not Winter party, not Holiday party, not nothing but a

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Family Portrait....

As interpreted by: Reyde Grantham
Media: Play Doh

I think he said from left to right, Reyde, Daddy and Mommy.

All is well, Reyde and James have almost 1 week under their belt. The transition to the time zone happened in the last few days. The first couple both of them were up from 11pm to 6am. Just a little off kilter. Have gone to the mall a couple times, gone to the grocery store a couple times, and James is now feeling a bit more comfortable in where he is.

Went to Starbuck's on Saturday morning after I got off work. Sat outside and watched the Saturday morning routine of the city. James has observed that life is at a slower pace here; and I absolutely agree. People go to Starbucks with friends, order coffee and stay there to drink it and visit. I've become accustomed to Starbucks being a destination and an event; I told James that when we get home, we'll be walking up to North Hill Espresso and going in for coffee. Heather, the owner/barista, won't know what to do with us visiting for a 1/2 hour or more! I commented on this to the employees in Manila and they asked what do we do with our coffee? I said we go thru the drive thru or buy it and go back into our cars! We do everything in our cars!

Every Saturday morning, there is a food market at the park near our condo. Amazing smells. Organic fruit and veggies for sale as well. We'll be trying some of the foods next weekend.

After our morning out, we headed up to the pool for Reyde to play.

The water is not heated, but quite refreshing. He played around the edge mostly; when I get in today, I'm sure he'll get in. Brrr!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

No plans on Sunday? Here's something to do...

I know, you are probably looking for some pictures of us in Manila...but haven't taken any as a family yet. Maybe today.

It's fabulous to have James and Reyde here. The boys are getting accustomed to city life and all the splendor.

James's perspective..."I wouldn't walk underneath those electric lines. "

Reyde's perspective..."What's that smell?" (From the odor of the traffic, the food vendors on the street, the deodorizers in the elevators, etc.)

And another from Reyde, "Oh look, there's another taxi. And a jeepney, and a taxi, and another taxi....Mom are we going to ride in a taxi???"

Finally...if you have no plans on Sunday, head on down to the Inn at Lucky Mud...hear my Uncle Bob rattle off some tunes....

Saturday, November 04, 2006

40 hours to go!

Life is good. Have finally gotten internet installed at the condo. Was able to skype with my in laws, and see Amy, Katie, Mom, Reyde and James at home. Showed Reyde the toys I have purchased. He wanted to see them a couple times, so I do hope the flight will go well. He's got to get on the plane to see the toys!

Have spent a good portion of the afternoon attempting to figure out posting photos. Have opened a Flickr account. Hit this link to see more photos of Lake Taal.

Michelle from the USA office left yesterday morning. Tamara from the USA office arrives tonight. Then T minus 40 hours to see my family!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Visit to Tagatay/Bless this house

Went to visit Lake Taal on Sunday. It is one of the many areas of active volcanos in the Philippines. 2 hour drive, 30 minute boat ride, 30 minute unforgiving horse ride to visit beauty.

Beautiful countryside, very kind people. At the top of the trek, we had a taste of fresh coconut juice and coconut jelly which separates the juice from the coconut meat.

Had a wonderful meal lake side. Rice, veggie medley, grilled lake fish, and chicken adobo. Oh, and fresh pineapple that we bought at a roadside stand. The juiciest pineapple I have ever had. All was good except the huge number of flies. Could have eaten more chicken adobo but got psyched out about the flies. Later in the day we also had fresh buko pie, which is fresh coconut pie. It's similar to apple pie, with the crust, and strips of coconut like strips of apples. Hardly sweet, very tasty. Can't wait to share the desserts with Reyde and James. (6 days and counting!)

Having our condo blessed this evening by a Catholic priest. The office and Drew's place is being blessed as well. I was offered, I said sure, let's do it. The Philippines is a very Catholic nation; we can attend mass every evening, and I think it was said there are 7 masses on Sunday. Will let you know how the blessing goes!

On a side note, we also stopped by a convent on the way home from Lake Taal. Had stopped to buy Ube pie, and othe ube delicacies. (Ube is basically purple yam.) They were out of stock, so we just walked around the grounds, and stepped inside the church. Saw some nuns praying. At this convent you can write down some prayers and they will pray for you all year long. Jay, Michelle, Joan, and I all wrote down our requests and gave them to the church.

Pretty amazing to think that I did all this just yesterday. And even crazier to think that I am here at all. Who would have thought my life would have taken this turn. If I were home, I wouldn't be hanging out with my co-workers, let alone going to a church with them. It is just too weird. My tourist photos and vacation memories with Jay and Michelle!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Manila Team

9pm on Saturday night, and guess what? I am at Starbuck's ending my evening here! Have one week to wait until James and Reyde arrive. Found a stuffed toy rocket ship and car for Reyde. Now trying to find kid's motif queen size sheets for his bed.

Here's a pic of the Manila Team. Very fun group of people. Michelle is here from the USA office and we decided to go out for a drink after work. Probably one of the more odd things I've done in recent times. 6am, sitting on the deck of a restaurant. Birds chirping, people walking to work, and I am drinking a Zombie (which unfortunately tastes like red Hawaiian Punch,) with nightclub music pounding in the background.

Venture Capitalists- Fab Opportunity Awaits

Long live the pink flamingo.,0,7313496.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Monday, October 23, 2006

Hi, my name is Claire…

Voyant! I was enjoying the view from the deck Friday evening before work. The thought crossed my mind; I wonder what I should do in the event of an earthquake. Hmmm…better look into that. Went inside, took a quick shower and headed into the office.

All was going well that evening, had a wonderful lunch of fried chicken, rice, and a noodle dish. Yummy yummy. Oh and let’s not forget the ultra yellow, more flavor that I have ever had banana.

And then, the first tremor hit. Just a slight earthquake but enough to make us move and sway on the 7th floor. Pardon my French, but oh shit. So we all chat about it for a while, and I inquire about what I should do if a strong earthquake hits. They all give me tips ranging from praying to climb under a table. Good ideas, but I think to myself, the table scenario is good on the ground floor, but what good will it do me if the building starts crumbling and I am on the 24th floor? A few hours later, the second tremor hit with a little more force. The sliding doors used for a separating wall in the conference room really move. Crap. Now I think to myself, I’ll just go up to the condo when I get home, grab a comforter and head back to the lobby and sleep on the couch there. No way am I headed up to the 24th floor for the day! A 3rd tremor hit but I didn’t feel that one. Good thing.

The final answer for where I should go if a biggie comes is the stairwell; feel free to email me back if any of you engineers have a better idea.

The real question I’m trying to answer is why I thought about the emergency plan that evening and then the earthquakes happened? I’m ready to open my own 900-number to read minds…. stage name Miss Clair Voyant. (Clairvoyance get it?

The small business sales representatives are really coming together as sales people and as a team. I interviewed 11 of them for positions as sales assistants. Have chosen 3 for the first phase, and now must put together a training schedule.

Some of the team is so funny; Novid is our Filipino Corey. He is willing to sell anything and even if he doesn’t know all the details, he comes up with something to say. The first week I arrived, he was selling the Smart Compliance First Aid Kit. He told a customer, “Listen, I don’t know a lot about the product, I can tell you what’s inside the kit, but basically, it’s like having your own medical clinic in a cabinet!”

Mandrake is Joe Cool. Actually his nickname is Magic. Dresses hip, modern glasses, and hair like something I can’t describe. I will ask him if I can take a photo one of these days. At any rate, he is a jokester and can gain the attention of all of them with stories. On Friday he walked around without any shoes on and complained that the maid hadn’t come through and vacuumed very well. I happen to have a sample of “Vetrap” at my desk that I got at the Canton Fair. “Vetrap” is a sticky adhesive bandage used in animal health. Instead of using a piece of gauze and tape to cover an animal’s wound, you just use this stuff and it sticks to itself, while protecting the wound. So I said to Mandrake, “Hey, I have a solution for you, why don’t you put some of this around our foot and it will pick up the dirt?” He says, “No, no.” So I proceed to take my sandal off, put it on my foot and show him how well it works. I say, “it’s magic, Magic!” Got some good laughs with that comment; just what we needed at 4 in the morning.

Have had a good weekend. Figured out how to post photos on my blog, went shopping for some condo items in preparation for Michelle’s (co-worker from AMMEX,) arrival tonight, and read some emails from home. The “best in class,” email received came from Amy…and if I may indulge you in her writing…here’s an excerpt.

“…Willzebub sent out an email Tuesday afternoon with information…that was contrary to what had been said…in meetings. I fired back an email noting this and clarifying that we really had nothing to do. He came to my room, looked sheepish (good move on his part,) said that the devil is in the details and that that morning he was the devil, I agreed but pointed out…He took it (my comments,) and we might just be able to find a way to work with each other. When I have treated him politely, he responded as though I were stupid. When I treated him as though he were the annoying neighbor boy, he responds as though we are peers. Hmmmmm. Kim Clark thinks I intimidate him. Hmmmm. I don’t know about that, but I will continue to conduct my sociological experiment on him. Treat well, in return get treated poorly. Treat like a mosquito, in return get treated as an equal.

And one final item Thought you might want to see what my cohabitants look like. I didn’t scream when I found him. Luckily for Michelle, I pulled the shower curtain down in her bathroom to test the hot water and saw him. Got a plastic food container and flicked him into it with the lid. Put it on tight and suffocated him. Felt bad, but stayed strong and killed it. Gross.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

More China Trip- Long Entry but Worth the Read

Okay folks, feeling much better; there is nothing like a quick (8 minute,) and expensive ($15.50) long distance phone call to fix a case of homesickness. I know, silly, silly, but the magic of crying long distance to James and hearing about his day of working on the mundane tasks of going to the Cloverdale house and what he plans to buy at Costco worked wonders.

And let’s face it; my standard method of fixing emotional turmoil was just not available in China. No Taco Time and my buddies Ben and Jerry haven’t made the trip to Guangzhou. Months of therapy couldn’t get me to stop using my food crutch; just needed to leave the country!

The trip to China was good; spent quite a few days with Lily (sourcing coordinator at AMMEX Shanghai,) Andrea (sales and marketing at AMMEX Shanghai,) and Gladys (country manager at AMMEX Shanghai.) These ladies took very good care of me. Lily with her maternal instincts served me food when those slippery noodles wouldn’t stay on my chopsticks as well as cooling those same noodles when I couldn’t get them out of the broth; Andrea offering translations throughout long Chinese conversations so I wouldn’t feel totally out of the loop; and Gladys being the social coordinator with trips to markets, dinners, and hitting some of the tourist spots.

On Friday night Gladys and I went to the children’s market where I purchased some toys and a Lightning McQueen backpack for Reyde. Have scheduled to send it home with Mark Wen on the 29th of October. Reyde can use this for his trip to Manila. Went to dinner at a tourist spot in Shanghai where many Westerners hang out. I think it is spelled Shiantinti. After dinner we walked around and met up with Gladys’s husband Wesley for dessert. First time I’ve gone to a Haggen Daas ice cream parlor and been offered a menu to choose my flavor and then been served by a waitress! Good place to people watch; for a change the tours were white people in a group with a tour guide carrying a colored bike flag rather than an Asian group. The same blank facial expression transcends races as well as the standard issue fanny pack and camera around the neck.

Saturday morning Lily picked me up and we headed off to visit the micro fiber towel factory. Spent about 6 hours touring the factory, learning how towels are made, speaking with the sales manager, having lunch at the local hotel, and reviewing additional samples and product available from the factory. The machines are incredible; I have never seen a spool of thread as large as is used to make towels (roughly the size of a 5 gallon bucket,) and am very thankful that my sewing machine at home only has 1 string to thread. The size of the knitting machines I would guess to be 14 feet long, 10 feet wide- this includes the walking platform for the worker to watch the machine, and 9 feet tall. I can’t even begin to guess how many threads are strung to make the towels; you can judge from the photos. Saturday evening I went to dinner with Gladys and some friends of Fred. The food is absolutely incredible. The highlight of this meal was the smoked duck meat; noodles with ground pork and hot pepper sauce; and the green beans sautéed in wine and bacon.

Sunday was basically a travel day. Lily, Gladys and I flew to Guangzhou and met up with Andrea whom had flown in from Beijing. Andrea traveled with Gene and Steven from AMMEX USA to be their interpreter in Beijing. Guangzhou is in the southern part of China and the weather is very similar to Manila. The humidity very high and the temperatures were at 30 degrees Celsius, 88 degrees Fahrenheit. Checked into the hotel, went to lunch at a Vietnam noodle restaurant, happened upon the local Starbucks, and checked email. Sunday was the hardest day for me as far as homesickness. That’s the day I spent the money on the call. The ladies went shopping in the afternoon while I checked email at the hotel; later this evening we went to a Korean restaurant for Korean style Hot Pot. Had my first try of sautéed lettuce. It’s common over in China to cook lettuce and eat it rather than make a salad. Just a tad slimy but did give it a try.

Monday was the day at the Canton fair. It is hard to explain the size of the show; two arenas the size of Safeco Field and Qwest field combined (so 4 arenas total.) with 4 floors of vendors. The factories and import/export companies spend a lot of money on decorating the booths, adding lighting, carpeting, and display shelves to try and differentiate themselves. Due to the size of the show, these factories and i/e trade companies are situated right next to their competitors as the show is divided by region and by product. It’s like AMMEX at a trade show placed right next to Ansell Edmont, Safety Zone, and Microflex.

One of my customers is looking for a mini fridge, so we spent quite a bit of time in the fridge/freezer area. Saw a new product on the market that I think could be a big seller for AMMEX China Direct. It is a mini fridge with car adapter in the shape of a soccer ball. Fridge holds 6 cans and can be logoed and produced in a variety of colors. Only 924 pieces in a 20-foot container. Will pursue this item for the soccer clubs really soon.

Lunch was served in the basement. They are very prepared for large crowds. 5 choices of food, repeated down the entire length of the cafeteria. The Indian pizza piqued my interest; I thought I might get cheese in China! Not so much, Indian pizza had toppings like beef and chicken curry, peanut sauce, and bananas. Settled for beef noodles and ice tea. In stark contrast to a USA trade show, no hot dogs, beer, nachos, ice cream, hamburgers, pizza, or garlic fries. The flavor was excellent and the beef had hardly any fat; now for those of you who don’t know me quite so well, I like my beef well done and rather enjoy the charcoaled tough bits of meat. Thought I found a tasty morsel of well-done beef in my soup; promptly put it in my mouth and chewed. NOT BEEF. Was a piece of star anise spice. Rather large chunk, and I didn’t realize this until I found another piece and asked Gladys what it was. She said, “Oh, don’t eat that, it’s just used for flavoring.” Too late, enjoyed the flavor the rest of the afternoon and into the evening with indigestion. I liken it to burping burnt black liquorices with a hint of beef.

After spending the day at the show, we went back to the hotel to await dinner with the factory owner, production manager, and salesman of the metal box/security box factory we work with.

If I may take a step back in the days…Ryan is he salesman for the box factory. On Sunday afternoon while the Shanghai team was shopping, there was a knock on my hotel door. I look through the peephole and see a Chinese man in his mid 20’s standing at the door.

I say, “You must have the wrong room.”

“Ummm, no are you Wendy?”


“I am Ryan, I have Lily and Andrea’s passes.”

Nice first impression. Ryan meets a crazy American with a very concerned tone of voice not wanting to open her hotel room door. Let alone the greasy been traveling all day hair and sweaty complexion. Nice.

Fast forward to Monday evening. Ryan phones to say that his Uncle and he are waiting down on the street to go to dinner. Lily, Gladys, Andrea and I head down. We get out into the street and I see Ryan, but not his uncle standing next to him. Maybe he chose not to come to dinner. But then just like a scene in a movie, this older Chinese man catches my attention; he is squatting in a raised flowerbed having a smoke. He jumps down, throws his cigarette away, gets a big grin on his face and extends his hand. This is the factory owner? Fred and Mark had mentioned that he had worked very hard to make a better life for himself, and so his old country ways were still part of his personality. I guess so; he looked completely at ease squatting in the vegetation of a raised flowerbed on a street as busy as the downtown streets around Pike Place market, as if it were the farming country. Can you imagine the owner of your company doing this?

We had dinner at a Macao style restaurant. The plates and cups were all decorated with Christmas trees, holly, and poinsettias. Lily tells me that the Canton province is known for its soups, and we hade a lovely fish broth for starters. Lily, who might weigh 95 lbs and eats more than Andrea and I combined at most meals, asked if the soup had chunks of fish or vegetables; the waiter lifts out a fish head to show us that we are to enjoy the broth only. Gotcha. No need to eat the eyeball of a fish for Wendy. The highlight of this meal for Andrea and I was the baked pumpkin. Steamed pumpkin in a peanut and cream cheese sauce. It was simply delicious. No green beans in this meal; just green vegetables. The green vegetables are similar in texture and look of steamed spinach, but there is no translation. Gladys just tells me they are green veggies. Okay, will give them a try. Not too slimy, was able to get passed the texture moment.

After dinner, I went back to the hotel and packed. Then headed down for a foot massage. The foot massages in China are incredible. For $10, your feet and lower legs are massaged for 45 minutes. So relaxing. Makes your feet feel brand new.

Tuesday morning, Gladys met me at the lobby and went out to the airport to make sure I got through check in and on the plane. Landed back in Manila at 11 am, promptly dropped my bags off and stopped by the office to check in with James. James kept Reyde up hoping that I’d call; and Reyde was gracious enough to take my call. It was so good to hear his voice and have a 30 second conversation with him Nothing like hearing the love of your life, (sorry James Reyde took your place at the moment,) tell you that he loves you.

Glad to be back in Manila around more familiar surroundings; now can count down the days until my boys arrive.

Odds and ends-
*Elevator etiquette. Both in Manila and China people push the open door/close door buttons to hurry the elevator. Does it really help? I have no idea.
*Elevators are set at a much higher level to close the doors. You know that feeling you get that your arm might get stuck if you try to keep the door from closing? It will get stuck here. Not like in the US where just a little resistant to closing and the elevator doors kick back open.
*Guangzhou had so much more vegetation and trees. All the high rises had trees on the roof top terraces, and decks were full of potted plants. Didn’t see this in the area of Shanghai that I was in.
*Pollution still amazing to me in China. Hopefully the pictures can show you just how bad it is. My throat began to ache on Saturday and didn’t stop until I came back to Manila. Thank goodness for nose hair and whatever other filter material I have in my noise and throat. Too much information coming your way now…the brown mucous I coughed up in the morning and the brown spit as if I had had coffee before brushing my teeth was GROSS.
*Nordstrom service at the hotel in Guangzhou. Saw a bellboy help a very drunk patron walk the lobby and take him up to his hotel room. The man couldn’t stand on his own, slobbering drunk, trying to answer his cell phone, smoke a cigarette and carry on a conversation with the bellboy. In the foot massage area, the waitresses served drinks and lit cigarettes and cigars for the men.
*Chinese business etiquette. Dinner with the box factory owner involved toast after toast after toast. Standing up, bowing, sitting down. I asked Andrea what we were toasting. She said nothing really, just a sign of respect.
*Must learn Chinese so I feel a little less isolated the next trip. I flipped through TV channels searching for an English show. Watched a re-run of America’s Top Model just so I could hear some English. How pathetic is that?

*Just like Gladys trying to translate the green vegetable, I struggled with trying to translate English as well. Amy sent me an email in which she referenced the word Beelzebub. I laughed so hard at her email that the ladies wanted to know what it was about. Totally a “you had to be there,” moment. I couldn’t explain the concept.

*My version of Fast Food Nation/Supersize me....Starbucks Planet. Yes, have had Starbucks in Shanghai and Guangzhou. Have spetn $11 US to buy a mug that says Guangzhou. What a good idea Starbucks came up with. Will have one that says Manila too.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

China trip

October 12-13, 2006.

Trip from Manila to Shanghai fine. Was a very long day. Worked Wednesday night from 8pm to 5.30am. Came home, packed and slept on the couch for a couple hours before catching a taxi to the airport. Taxi had been called the night before to pick me up at 8.30am. At 8.45 am I got another taxi and off we go. Had to give the driver directions as he headed to the wrong terminal at the entrance to the airport.

Slept most of the 3 hour flight to Shanghai. Customs/immigration took almost 40 minutes. Met Lily at the baggage claim and headed for the super fast magnetic train. Yes, it did really go 400+ kms. What is that 175 mph? Very smooth ride; couldn't believe it was travelling that fast.

Met the team at the new office. Prepared for the meeting we had this morning and then headed off for dinner. Hot Pot is so very good. It's sort of like The Melting Pot, but in Chinese foods. Lily, her son John, Gladys and I enjoyed lamb, beef, shrimp, mushrooms, and a variety of unknown vegetables. By the time dinner was done, so was I. Very tired.

Check out the photos. Yes, can you imagine chilled green bean soup as a dessert. Yet another way to choke down my favorite veggie.

After dinner we came back to the office to pick up my luggage. Good thing; a worker from a different company had been locked in the office. She almost spent the night at work. Headed off to the service apartment; when my head hit the pillow I was out for the night despite the very firm mattress!

Had a very good meeting with the prospect from Mexico. The team did well for a quick, on the spot meeting.

Was feeling pretty homesick and lonely on Wednesday in Manila and last night. I think a lot of it was the sleep factor. Today I am well rested and not feeling so lonely. Was able to talk to James on Skype and see him and Turbo. Made me feel much better. Now if only Reyde would talk to me on the phone. It is typical and what I expect when I travel; Reyde is pretty offended that I leave; so while I know that that is why he is not wanting to talk to me on the phone, I sure do miss him.

That's it for now; I'll update you as I go. Rest assured, the China team is taking very good care of me. It's incredible to think that I feel so at home with the team and have only met them once in February. Skype and email makes the miles disappear.

(And if the pictures didn't load....I'll get to it! The connection is a bit slow in China.)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Pictures of Manila- No Banana Leaf Huts

Saturday afternoon 3.45pm and I find myself at Starbuck's. The condo property manager seems to think that I may have internet access at home in a week or so. Until then, I am now recognized by the security guard and the baristas know my name and drink. The first week of work went good. As many of you know from my emailed updates, power has been a challenge because of the typhoon that hit the last week of September. Many trees were uprooted and billboards torn down. One of the guys at work asked our computer geek Roger if he heard a lot of sirens and emergency vehicles after the typhoon struck. Roger's response? "Emergency vehicles? This is a 3rd world country, we don't have those services." After a week, the city still looks like this: They say the typhoon was the worst to hit in 10 years. It will be interesting to see if the destruction debris is cleaned up or if we'll be walking around tree roots and piles of branches the entire time we are here.

To give you an idea of where I am staying, here's a shot of the condo bldg. The red marking is the 24th floor:

And here's the view from the deck. Obviously no banana leaf covered tiki huts with coconut shells for communications.

The first week of work went very well. We have 30 small business sales reps making outbound calls to the childcare industry. Jay and Drew have done an amazing job on training the teams. There are a total of 4 training groups with another one starting on Monday. The last batch trained have gotten up to speed quite fast. On Thursday, 3 of them each had 4 orders and 4 new customers. Hats off to Jay and Drew.

The camaraderie at the office is a welcome sight. I started my usual golf clap when folks landed accounts, and the clapping has continued. I'm sure it was happening before I came, the people are genuinely excited for each other and for the success of the office. I also made sure to bring my BIG SALE HAT for good luck. When I pulled it out on Tuesday night they looked at me a bit odd, but I showed them how I wear it and put my headset on over it; told them of the lore behind it and the magic powers. Said that the hat works even better if you chant as you dial the phone, "big sale, big sale, this is gonna be a big sale" I hung it up on the cube wall between myself and Ivan (whom hadn't landed an account yet.) I asked if it was okay that the hat hang over in his area. Being polite he agreed. Before the night was over, he had landed an order and the legend of the hat was cemented in Manila.

Ray ,shown in the photo above, was next to wear the hat. He is trying so hard to land business. He came in the day afer this shot and said, "I dreamed about the big order from Lisa. I figured out that I can offer a lower price if she buys in bulk. I'm going to call her now!" That's the spirit, think outside the box, be creative.

Signing off for now, almost out of wireless service. Off to find a salon. What was I thinking when I decided to grow out my bangs?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Happy 10 year anniversary James!

How many of us clearly remember the minister making a joke when James faltered at the vows, " love and cher cher cher..cherish,?"

He said, "It is sometimes hard to cherish them!" The entire congregation laughed.

And I would tend to agree that there have been moments over the last decade that I've been hard to cherish, and even wonder why I should be cherished.

But at the end of the day, I'm still glad I married James. (As I tear up in the middle of a Manila Starbucks.)

So I'll just put it out there for the world to know that my husband has too many wonderful attributes to list, and they far exceed the list of shortcomings.

I love you forever James! Wendy

Sunday, September 24, 2006

She was a thing of beauty

But only for a 4 short months.

The dreamer in me thought I could have this cool classic car for my summer ride.

The reality? Old ladies like she need a lot of pampering. The morning routine like nothing you've ever dreamed of. So while I thought I could just get in and start her up and drive, what came to light was the need for a new exhaust system, brakes, and seat belts.

Decided to sell her; she went fast; I know someone will enjoy her just as much as I did. Hey, I got to drive it around the block once in the 4 months she was in my life.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Where has customer service gone?

It's definately not residing at the local pharmacy.

8am Voicemail left requesting refill on my prescription. Explained that I am leaving for an extended trip overseas. Would like 3 months supply. Here's my home and cell number. Please call me if you have any questions.
9.41am Claim rejected. Or so says the paper I was handed at

6.15pm Clerk says that the claim is rejected. I can pay $396 or call the insurance company.

7.28pm Phone call to insurance company has taken care of the matter.

I cannot fathom treating a customer in this manner.
Cheese and rice. Cheese and H Rice.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

T minus 16 days and counting

Tick tick tick. The clock is ticking away very fast.
Electronic bill pays set up. Check.
Digital camera purchased. Check.
Vaccines received. Check.
Blog created. Check.

Now onto telling everyone I've done this.