Thursday, January 30, 2014

burned out

The problem with being on multiple project teams is that you will work 14 hour days during the weeks before Chinese New Year because every single client wants all sorts of stuff before then. It's not like anyone will be sitting in their office over the holidays, reviewing the drawing sets, but it's typical.  I am toast.

I did take Saturday night off to attend my first Burns night. It was a lot of fun.  I had haggis for the first time and liked it.  It tasted a lot like the black pudding that gets served for brunch in some of the British styled pubs, at least in my opinion.

I made a soup with potatoes, turnips, parsnips, carrots, and salmon. I made it up but I used a bunch of stuff that seemed Scottish. It turned out to be a hit. I cooked everything but the salmon and then blended it together before adding chunks of fish, a drizzle of cream, and a splash of pastis at the end. Okay, pastis isn't quite Scottish but it adds something wonderful to fish soups. I also made some soda bread. I'm not sure what soda bread is supposed to taste like but it was tasty, whatever it was. The Scottish host seemed impressed.

At the dinner, we all were given readings that we were to attempt in a Scottish accent. It was hard enough trying to pronounce the words.  I tried to channel Comfort and Joy but I fear that I ended up with Pirates of the Caribbean.

I've got more cooking to be done for the holidays. First there is a CNY barbecue and then I am making various eats for a Superbowl party.  Oh yeah, and my birthday usually falls right on that weekend as well and I have somehow agreed to host my own party.  Well, a sucker is born every minute.

Right now, I have a pizza baking in the oven (I'm trying out a new recipe for Chicago deep dish), I have pre-marinated everything that can be prepared ahead of time, and I am sooo looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Turnover

Well hello everyone, and happy 2014. This has been the busiest start to the year as far as I can recall.

It started off slowly enough; for the first time in 15 years I skipped the bar party and SB and I hiked the Dragon's Back with another couple to watch the sunrise. Next time I will make sure that the other couple is prepared because it was a bit too cold to be wearing an unzipped sleeping bag about the shoulders instead of snuggling warmly inside. I would also bring hiking poles because headlamps aren't as good as daylight when you are trying to determine depth. The hike was slow but enjoyable.

The sunrise was spectacular. When we arrived to the chosen location there were a dozen others camped out along Mt. Shek O. We took a small detour off the trail and found a nice, flat rock at the edge of a cliff to set up on. SB and I shared our sleeping bags and we all drifted off for a bit. We woke up surrounded by many more people and a wall of tripods behind us.

As the sun slowly started to rise, there was a flurry of shutters clicking as we all enjoyed the rosy hues that were rising gracefully from the ocean. After several more minutes when the sun didn't yet appear, we began to relax and say hello to our neighbors. We traded cupcakes and a thermos of coffee with a Taiwanese couple holding cake and plum wine. Then, quite suddenly, a little, orange ball popped out of the ocean. No one seemed to be paying attention so I did my good deed of the day by calling out and sending everyone scurrying back to their tripods. It was the perfect morning.

I have spent these past weeks busy preparing submissions before the Chinese New Year. While no one likes overtime work, I am not too put out because I find the work to be rewarding. I still look back at the previous job and feel grateful that I didn't stay there.

I did a bit of soul searching and have resolved that a big change (for me) is in order. For the past 17 years I have spent the majority of my Saturdays on a rugby pitch, tackling the snit out of my friends. For most of those years it was exactly where I wanted to be but lately....

Lately I have grown heartsick. My entire time with my HK club has been with mixed feelings. I love the club and like my team. But there have always been a problem for me with how a few of the senior ladies take competitiveness to meanness. Screaming and tantrum throwing appear to be part of the culture. I was near the breaking point when our captain and co-captain were issued red and yellow cards for abusing a referee, and they chose to have their meltdowns on our club day and in front of our sponsors and SCAA representatives.

This season we got a new coach and it was the nail in the coffin for me. He demands respect but treats the other coach and players poorly. Maybe it's what we deserve and require because otherwise we act up but all I know is that Saturdays are no longer enjoyable. I have withdrawn from the rest of the season with a heavy heart. I wasn't ready to hang up the boots but it is what it is.

On the other hand, here in HK all sorts of things are possible. It's not I'll pass my weekends sitting at home and crying into my old jersey. I can use the time to learn sailing, get better at windsurfing, go on hikes, and maybe take up another sport. It's a new year after all.