Teaching Photography

This week I have the opportunity to teach a class of my choice at school. I’m teaching photography to sixth graders. We’re using digital point-and-shoot cameras. In one class, the students must share a camera, but in the other two classes, the students get solo use of their camera.

I specifically invited one student (who isn’t normally in my classroom) to take my class. I invited him because he makes me crazy, and I’m so glad I did, because he is one of the few students who seems to have an “eye.”

I think most of the students thought they’d end up getting to play with photos and the kid-friendly photo-editing software we have. They seemed to be expection manipulation, distortion, crazy colors and slide shows. Instead, they learned about framing, composition, and holding the camera correctly. Then we went outside and focused on composition. Tomorrow it’s a color search. Thursday is texture and Friday is portraiture and group shots.

Today I discovered that a) they have no idea how to properly hold a camera (damn digis with their stupid LCD screens!) and b) many of them can’t “see.” The former can be worked on while shooting—I must’ve said, “Hey! So-and-So! Face! Face!” 100 times today. The latter? I think they just need practice and more exposure to photography and art and age.

The first group of students today (four total) was my favorite. They lucked out a bit. We were out shooting at nine, which meant there was still dew on the grass and playground equipment, and nobody else was out! The other two classes had to compete with recess time, unfortunately. And since these classes are two-hour long sessions, some teachers are taking recess two or three times a day.

The first group came outside and sort of stared at me for a few minutes. I started pointing things out. “Look at those shadows.” “Hey, I found something cool, what is it?” “OK, how else could you take a photo of that?” “And what if you climb up there? Then what does it look like?” After about five minutes of this coaching, they were off and running and finding really neat things I hadn’t noticed.

I like that I’m teaching this class because I’m sort of getting a little creativity jolt myself. When I started Project 365, I did so to document Korea. Now that I’m back in the States, I’m just plain bored. The US is boring, the project is nearly over, and not many people even read that blog. Combine those factors and you get one woman who is seriously lacking motivation.

I brought my camera, and since I had my students choose their three favorite shots, I should choose mine, too.

Ladybug on a Tire
A student pointed this out, first class.

Child on a Swing
Second class, the focus could be better, but this was the best shot of twenty taken sitting on the ground in front of the student.

Third class, the students whined that there “is nothing behind the trailers.” We went back there and found lines, patterns, and S-curves.

A Dinner Party

Remember these people?

I last saw Mark’s father a few days before I went to Korea, when we went to Lake Itasca. I saw his mother the night before I went to Korea when we all went out to Mexican food together.

Mark’s parents are in town and last night Good Man and I had Mark’s family over for dinner.

Saturday evening I’d asked Mark if they wanted a lasagna dinner or Korean, and he texted back that it was unanimously Korean. So Good Man and I sat down and planned a menu.

Yesterday morning we woke up and discovered the water was out. Aigo! What were we going to do? I ended up calling the emergency line to ask when the water was going to be turned on (a waste of time, for the record). Finally we left the house to return library books/use a restroom. As we were leaving we discovered a note on the main entrance (which was not there when I’d called!) about how the water would be out until 3 pm. Luckily, when we got home around 1:30, it was back on. Amen, because we really needed to do dishes, and we certainly needed the water to cook!

We had 닭갈비 (dalk kalbi), 잡채 (japchae), 파전 (pajeon, Korean pizza with scallions, onions, mushrooms, Chinese chives, and red finger peppers) with a dipping sauce, 깍두기 (daikon kimchi) and rice, of course. We had some 백세주 (100 Benefits Liquor) along with beer, water, tea, coffee, and soda to drink. And for dessert, we went against the typical Korean dessert of fruit and got 빼빼로 (Pepero) sticks.

Mark’s parents, Mark, Good Man and I ate and ate and chatted. Mark’s Lover had been called into work but was able to show up right after we’d finished eating, which was great because we had a ton of food left!

The dinner was really enjoyable and I’m so, so glad that we (read: mostly I with a few “stir fry this!” commands to Good Man) made all of the food. But man, cooking in our narrow kitchen with only two pots, one of which had to be dedicated to rice…

Normally (read: pre-Korea), if I invited people over to my house, it was cleaning that took the longest. This time it wasn’t the cleaning that was time-consuming; it was the cooking. We left the office the mess than it normally is, but the main living areas and bathroom only needed light touch-up jobs and a quick vacuuming. Nice.

It was also nice that Mark’s parents were totally understanding of the fact that we sat on the floor to eat. We don’t have six chairs in our house. Ha!

(ETA: Mark’s Mother also managed to get her hands on a Casio EW-K2000 electronic Korean dictionary for free. Since she has no use for it, she passed it on to us. Now I have two. Sweet! Always nice to have a backup of an expensive, yet very useful tool.)

Good Man Learns About Liquor

First, two comments which I have to write out of context.

“I am the rice…king!”

“Because it makes my brain feel like funny.”


Tonight in the car, we were talking about what to eat tomorrow night. “What about 모모?” I asked.

“Yes, and maybe soju,” Good Man said.

“Hmm, what time is it? What day is it? OK, but we will have to check the ABC store tonight. I’m not sure when they close.”

“ABC store? What’s that?”

I pointed because we were passing it, “That’s where you’re allowed to buy liquor.”

“Why not tomorrow?” Good Man asked.

“Well, tomorrow’s Sunday and I don’t think we can buy liquor on Sundays.”

Good Man stared at me. “What?”

“This is technically the South, so they probably have blue laws, so we probably can’t buy liquor on Sundays, and maybe not beer.”

Good Man burst out laughing and slapped his knee.

I looked at him. “What? It’s Sunday. Jesus doesn’t want us to buy liquor on Sundays.”

“That’s bullshit.”

“Do you know what a ‘dry county‘ is?” He just blinked at me. “A ‘dry county’ is a county where you can’t get any alcohol. Nobody sells it. Well, sometimes restaurants or private clubs, but usually no liquor stores, no beer at grocery stores.”

Good Man shook his head, “I thought this was not a communist country.”

Indeed, things are a little bit different in Korea…

Retro Red Riding Hood Coat

Long story short, I took a pattern from the Winter 1952/1953 issue of McCall’s Needlework and changed the gauge, size, and style (from a box coat to a swing coat). Twenty balls of sport weight yarn and one month (exactly!) later, I ended up with a perfectly fitting coat. (OK, the sleeves could stand to be a bit wider, but I have one foot of yarn let, so that’s not going to happen.)

Good Man was incredibly helpful, because he wore it while I tacked down the double-petal collar. In turn, he sort of ended up looking like some communist student from the 60s.


Fist Bump




“Why won’t you speak Korean with me? Why don’t you want me to cook Korean food? Why do you want to pretend we never met in Korea?”

None of this is true all of the time. But all of it is seems true some of the time.

He looks at me, touches me kindly. “I love you, I love you, I love you!”

That is true all of the time.

She Thinks I’m a Rock Star

Good Man and I tried to call Mother this weekend, to ask at which temperature she thought the ggakdugi should ferment, but when we called she wasn’t home.

Sunday morning we got a phone call from one very, very excited Mother. After greeting Good Man she launched into, “Amanda made 깍두기!” She’d seen it on my Cyworld page.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard Mother so excited about something.

She asked if we’d tried it yet, and Good Man told her we were having it for dinner along with spicy stir-fried pork. She told us to leave it outside until then and kept saying it looked good.

She told me I was a good cook and raved over the fact that I can cook Korean food.

Now, months ago Mother said she was going to give me recipes, but she hasn’t. If I’m such a good cook, where are the recipes, Mother? (Actually, I suspect that Mother doesn’t cook with recipes. I suspect that she said she’d give me some because saying “yes” was more comfortable than “no.”)

Mother also told me I looked thinner and I told her that I’ve lost some weight, and that Good Man has lost 9 kilos. I was worried she’d think I wasn’t feeding him enough, so I hastily added, “건강 음식을 먹고있어요…” We’re eating healthy food…

She said she knew that and “고마워! 고마워, 아만다!” Thank you, thank you, Amanda!

Mother is so funny.

Now, how did the daikon kimchi taste?

“Wow, This Is Really Delicious! Yeah, I’m Serious.”

한국 사람이 되어거는 것 같아요

It seems like I am becoming a Korean.

Yesterday I bent over the table at school, arranging papers. My hair hung in my face. I noticed a black hair and brushed my hand at it, figuring it was one of Good Man’s hairs.


It was my hair.

I had a long, long black hair. Growing out of my head.

I’ve never had black hair growing out of my head.

And today…






A whiff of fish sauce.







Good Man wanted 깍두기 (daikon kimchi). He asked me if I could make it, and even found a video for me, but he was worried I couldn’t make it.

I’ve cooked Korean food for him before, so I couldn’t figure out what his issue was. Turns out he was worried that I would mind that there’s fish sauce in it. I know there is, and I ate it that way in Korea.

Making the daikon kimchi was fine until nearly the last step.

In Korea, thin plastic kitchen gloves are very common. I never put anything on my hands while I cook.

But when I stuck my hands in the mixture… Well, it felt like something I’d never, ever want to put in my mouth. It felt disgusting, and I told Good Man so in colorful terms.

Good Man said, “In Korea we have a saying, 한국음식의 비결은 손맛에 있어요. It’s the hands that make the food taste good.

And a few minutes later, when I saw my orange fingers and even oranger fingernails, I realized that I actually needed kitchen gloves.

The kimchi is now in a glass Lock&Lock container on our porch, fermenting or rotting or singing and dancing or whatever it is kimchi does on a porch.