31 January 2008

The Unofficial Korean National Bird

"What's the name of that bird in Korean?" I asked a young friend recently.

"I'm not sure," she annunciated carefully. "But, I think it maybe 까치. How do you call in English?"

"Couldn't tell you, sweetie. Unless it's 'magpie' or something."

A quick cross reference with the Korean/English dictionary proved us both right.

This link provided further information:

Traditionally loved by the Korean people, the magpie is believed to be an auspicious bird and a messenger of good news. According to a folktale, magpies formed a bridge to help two star-crossed lovers to reunite. It was also chosen as the national bird of Korea in 1964, getting overwhelming votes in a national contest. As the bird of Korea, and that of Seoul as well, the magpie has been excluded from the list of game fowls since 1996.

(Yeah, yeah, whatever. Ugly old thing. Didn't need common language to determine that. Mean too. He, or one of his rellies, visited the sun-roof of my balcony a bit later and left a little "calling card" telling me what he thinks of it all. Guess he could feel the disdain.)

See This Book

I got it in the English section of a local book store here.
Take a good look at it.
But it still managed to call me by name and beg me to buy it.

16 January 2008

I take to the woods

I DID find the trees. It is a wooded hill on the campus of SoGang. Nice to be able to go into a little nature spot here in the big city. It is peaceful there in spite of the ever present sounds of students in the sports field below, traffic, and other city noise. I have met some interesting folks there too. Mostly it is the retirement-age set getting their exercise. They seem to have their priorities straight. And not just because they gave me snacks. One old gal, who is seventy if she is a day, spends time stretching and working on her flexibility. I call her the human pretzel.

I met a 90 year old instructor of calligraphy. Actually, he asked me to help him down the "mountain". Bless his heart; his step was slow and footing unsure. He talked a blue streak to me. Of course I didn't understand much, since it was all in Korean. But, he scolded me for being in Korea while my husband is in the USA. "How" he inquired, "could we 'bbo-bbo' (kiss)?" He settled once I explained I am not here for very long at all. When we got back down to civilization he was all concerned if I'd be able to find my way alone. Had to escort me to the correct road. Mr. Chivalrous. Then he wanted to give ME a bbo-bbo bye-bye. Well, I wasn't too keen on that seeing as how he was wearing one of those cotton surgical type masks that the older set is fond of in Korea. Wasn't sure if he had it on to keep out the cold air or if he had some kind of virus he didn't want to spread around. But, he was so sweet that I just offered him a quick side of the face, which he pecked through the mask.

What a cute story, right? WRONG! I told it to Mr. Sunny and he groused, "Old codger was pulling a fast one. He'd never have the nerve to treat a Korean woman that way." To which I initially reacted, "Dear, he was 90 and could hardly walk." But, after thinking it over...Some day, God willing, Mr. Sunny will be 90. And if some chick a few decades younger than me even thinks about "bbo-bbo-ing" him, I'll be like, "Do it and Die, Floozy!"

(Sorry honey)

14 January 2008

Happy Birthday to the Sunbeam

You were probably too busy teaching to notice, but, it is still your b'day over in that time zone.

Here is a picture of part of an artistic display at the gate of a big-name university over here.

Happy birthday to you,
you artist
at a big-name school.

13 January 2008

Some of Korea's Cutest Kids

The weekend wasn't all about environmental disasters.
I also went to Incheon to visit these cuties and their pretty mamas.
All of them have been previously featured on this blog.
Here are photos of them from back in 2005.

Buggy boy was playing with hats when I met him two years ago.

And he is still "into" them.

Black Gold? Texas Tea? NOT!!

Spent today at the oil spill on the west coast of Korea.
As we got close to the area we saw lots of these banners welcoming and thanking the volunteers. (also complaining about the government, per the folks who were translating for me.)

Several organizations had truckloads of provisions on-site to nourish the help.

These protective suits and boots were provided for us. That guy who is not suited up is one of the fellows on hand to instruct us in what to. Otherwise, we'd have had no idea how to even get started. I now know more than I ever wanted to about cleaning up oil slicks.

The sacks lining the road are filled with oily sand and rocks collected today. I would have thought that we'd have at least felt happy to have done something to help, found it a good experience and all that. As it turns out, no amount of comraderie and pulling together can make up for the heartbreak of an oil spill. Besides, it was a bitterly cold day and we suffered mightily for our efforts.

On a lighter note, this pretty sight right here is a Ewha University student from Zimbabwe. She and I might be in the papers. We were the only foreign looking ladies there today. Some guy with an impressively large camera wanted our picture.

05 January 2008

Hello Korea

This is the view from one end of my balcony.

And this is the view from the other side.
Early this morning I decided to go for a walk. Who can guess which way Sunny went? Duh! Headed up the hill and tried to find a path into those trees. (Anyone surprised?) Yesterday a local lady had told me to find it around the school. Poked around a few schools in the area but never did quite find the way in. But, did manage to get this shot of the sunrise through an open courtyard door.

Some guy was getting all huffy about me wandering the neighborhoods snapping pics until I showed him it was of the Namsan tower in the hazy light of an approaching sunrise. Then he lightened right up, so I asked him how to get up to those trees. Turns out the lady didn't mean "the school", she meant THE school, as in Sogang University (one of the four or five Ivy league type higher education institutions the ShinChon area is surrounded by). He was quite nice about it too. Bet he was proud that his neighborhood has a nice view of one of Korea's famous landmarks.


Good thing he didn't catch me taking photographs of people's front doors and porches.

Yes, I eventually found the trees. Later. But, that's an adventure for a different post.

04 January 2008

Bye Bye America

Oh yes, I am in the cold climate now. Here are some pictures of Lake Tahoe and a bit of California's coast captured through the window of the plane on the way over .

A few of my favorite things

One of the many nice gifts I received for Christmas was a "teapot" calendar, with matching post cards for each month's adorable "tea" photo. Didn't I have a great time sending out those cards! It was one of the last things I did before leaving the country. Some of you reading these words will have already received one. But, there is one faithful and supportive reader of this blog who did not get one because I do not have her physical address. She is Aimee of Vermont. Couldn't leave her out, so here is a picture of one of my own tea-sets in honor of Beloved Babbling.