Hiking Riverbend Park

Yesterday Good Man and I went hiking at Riverbend Park using the directions at Hiking Upward.

Riverbend Park Hike

There’s a full album in the gallery, but I also wanted to post some of my favorite shots.

The hike started along the Potomac River. This section was rather busy, which wasn’t surprising since it was a holiday weekend. We went hiking around noon and it was warm but a little cloudy. It was nice weather.

Panorama of the Potomac

Tree in the Potomac

Once we turned off of the Potomac and into the more wooded section of the trail, the number of people we saw dramatically fell.

Stream Panorama

Fungus on a Tree

I don’t know if we got off the trail at one point or if the map we had wasn’t great, or if a trail was renamed. But we ended up near a pond, where we needed to be. The pond was the only place we found another person in the wooded part of the trail.

The pond was covered in what I think is duckweed and it was filled with croaking frogs. I looked at Good Man and he had a huge grin on his face. The croaking was delightful and I got quite a few frog photos.

Duckweed

Ribbit

Good Man Imitates a Frog

Neon

Blue-Eyed Grass

We continued along the trail and saw, well, nobody else. The trail was fairly easy to follow once your got past “the rat maze,” as Good Man called it, near the nature center (which was closed, do I don’t know what it was for). We followed the Upland Trail, which is supposed to sport deer and turkeys. We only saw deer tracks, and near the point where the trail met the river, we saw a teenager who was acting like a turkey.

Still a Frog

Happy Hiking

We got back on the Potomac Heritage Trail for the last bit, and it got busy and crowded again. I did catch sight of what I’m pretty sure was an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. I like that the butterfly is moving—I think it makes for a rather dynamic image.

Flying

All in all, a nice, pleasant hike that (according to the above site) was about 3 miles. I suspect we’ll be back.

“Ohhhh, Ms S!”

I am not a cute teacher. Even though I’ve shifted from sixth grade to third, I don’t do cute things. I give my students a $4 book pick from book club for their birthdays, I read books they adore, but that’s about the limit of my cuteness. My room is not decorated in monkeys or tigers. At the beginning of the year, my class list is not a poster made up of die cuts, but a print out by my door. We don’t have classroom spirit colors, and I don’t bribe my students with candy, cookies, or stickers.

I do get to know my students, we build our classroom together, we joke, we have fun. But with my personality, my students are used to homework every Monday through Thursday, a “strict but funny” teacher (so they say) and few surprises—or at least few cute surprises.

My students have been taking the state tests for the first time. The entire testing time (even days they didn’t test), they’ve had no homework. That was enough to confuse them, but they embraced it.

They finished their four tests (taking five days total) yesterday. So as a team, the third grade teachers decided to surprise them with pizza.

We came in from recess and my students said, “Why does it smell like pizza in here?”

Then they spotted the pizzas on the back table and looked at me. I nodded at them. “If you’re wearing mostly black shoes, go wash your hands. I need someone to hand out napkins.”

One of my students turned and looked at me in shock. “Is this our end-of-the-year party?”

“No. You have done so well dealing with the state tests that all of the third grade teachers decided to order pizza as a surprise for you.”

Her whole body started to buzz. She ran to me and socked me with a huge hug. “Ohhhh, Ms S! Pizza! Pizza!” She looked up at me, while squeezing me really hard, “And no homework, cause it’s Friday, right?”

“Right, no homework. White shoes, go wash your hands.”

Another student screeched, “Will you read Knight’s Castle while we eat?”

“Sure.”

One of my boys stole a line from the book. “‘By my halidom!’ Today is awesome!”

Green Card It Up

How in the world did (nearly) two years pass since we got Good Man’s green card?

Now it’s time to reapply for his green card. I forgot how much “fun” it is collecting all of this paperwork. Ugh.

So far I’ve discovered that VA tax returns don’t have room for two last names, so apparently Good Man has taken my name. Oh joy, that’s not going in the packet.

Flash Mob, Belly Dancing Style

“Amanda! How are you?”

“Mother, do you know ‘flash mob?'”

“What? I don’t know that. What is that?”

***

I started belly dancing courses nearly four weeks ago and the owner of Saffron Studio organized a flash mob specifically designed to be easy enough for us new dancers to participate in.

I have been taking the classes with my coworker, and as soon as we heard about it, we nodded at each other. Of course we had to join in!

Waiting “Casually”

So today we had our flash mob. It was awesome! I will probably never a) participate in another flash mob or b) perform belly dancing in public, but it was totally worth it.

It was especially fun because my coworker was there and Mark’s old roommate was there, too. Turns out she did the Groupon crash course months ago and then joined the studio.

The Start of the Mob

Entering the Line

Double Hip Left

Closing the Car Door (Hip Accent)

Choo-Chooing to the Center and Then…

Throwing a Kiss

This is the official video. Unfortunately, I was far off to the right, so the best time to see me is at the very end, when I was crossing the street with Good Man. But there are other videos on YouTube where you can see me better.

I would love to take some more classes this summer, but because of Korea, I won’t be able to. However, I do intend to continue belly dancing. It’s such a great activity, so welcoming of women of all sizes and physiques. And walking around in a hip scarf just lifts your spirits.

Team Hanmi, Bowl On!

Tonight we had our last week of bowling league, which means we found out our ranking and received our payout and special awards.*

Good Man earned a magnet for a 150+ game. I earned magnets for a 150+ game and a 400+ series.

I also won the award for the Most Improved Average (Female). I increased my average by 16 pins, which was the most of anyone on the league. That award came with a magnet and a small cash prize.

(Side: My true average is 115.19. Good Man’s is 115.69. I caught up!)

Our league has ten teams. As a team, Team Hanmi ranked eighth for our highest handicap game score. We scored dead last for team scratch game, scratch series, and handicap series. With those rankings you might expect we’d be lucky to break into the top five for points.

Well, we took second place!

팀 한미 화이팅!!

I was shocked. I thought we’d take third, but not second. We were close, though, because we were only ahead of third place by a half a point.

After we got our awards and cash payout, we played a fun no-tap game. In a no-tap game, if you get nine pins on the first ball, it counts as a strike. We were playing so that if your average was 140 or under, eight or nine pins counted as a strike. If your average was over 140, nine pins counted as a strike.

We were playing in a friendly competition for top two individual prizes. Neither Good Man nor I did well enough for either, but his high score was 222 and my high score was 274. We were bowling against a strong bowler who scored three perfect games in a row with the no-tap scoring. It was a lot of fun to play that way, and a nice way to end the season.

I’m really glad we joined a bowling league, and I wish I could join one this summer. Alas, it looks like I won’t be joining another league until next year’s Ball and Chain league returns!

*A note about terms for non-bowlers: a game is pretty self-explanatory. A series is your total score of three games. Scratch is your raw score, and handicapped is the score after they add your handicap.

At league, awards can be earned for highest average, most improved, if you score over a certain game or series, etc. Many of these awards depend on your average. For example, someone with a 200 average would not get an award for scoring 150, because that’s just not impressive. As far as I know, the United States Bowling Congress sets the criteria for the awards.

Tony the Tiger and his Flying Squirrel Sidekick

Nests and robin’s eggs are neat, but the strange things I find or see on walks are just as interesting.

Last week I passed a parking lot and there was a statue that looked very similar to Tony the Tiger just sitting on a concrete post at the edge of the parking lot. Just…watching the traffic go by. It wasn’t there when I drove past the same spot on the way home from work.

This week a squirrel did a sideways flying leap from a fencepost onto a tree, drew back its head, froze, and stared at me. I doubled over because I’ve never seen a squirrel move like that before.

Two days ago, late in the afternoon, I enjoyed the scent of pine. This morning it was the sweetness of honeysuckle.

Hot Spots and Dragonflies

Good Man and I went hiking (more like trail walking) yesterday. We went to Scott’s Run Nature Preserve. It was our first time there and we basically did an in-and-out rather than a loop. The Preserve is very close to our house and I was surprised to find such a park so close to the Beltway. The weather was cool, misty, and overcast. It was pretty much perfect hiking weather.

Good Man’s Kim Jong Il Point

As I’ve described before, I was raised in a hiking/camping/fossil-finding family. Real camping, with no running water and no showers. I invited a friend camping and she showed up with tons of makeup in case we met cute boys. I was confused; I had no idea that some people considered camping going to a campground with running water and boys. Although Good Man hiked in the Scouts a bit, and in the military (a bit—he apparently mostly found ways out of it), he didn’t have the same childhood “get back to nature” experiences I did.

Perhaps it’s cultural. America’s urbanization and move from farm to city was much earlier (relatively speaking) than Korea’s, and America had that whole Manifest Destiny thing going on. Maybe that accounts for part of it.

Inchworm Inching Up Its Thread

In any case Good Man and I have lived here nearly three years, and we haven’t done much nature exploring. I finally decided to drag Good Man on some short hikes, so last week we went to REI and got him some actual hiking boots. Those old sneakers he tries to wear just weren’t going to cut it.

In the Woods

Before we headed out, I told Good Man he should at least wear his boots around the house for an hour or so to help break them in. He told me he didn’t need to. I was doubtful, but thought, Fine, he can find out on his own when he gets a blister.

You know where this is headed, right? Good Man had absolutely no problems, while I got a hot spot wearing ten-year old, broken-in boots. That’s just not fair.

Small Streams

Flowers

Scott’s Run Waterfall

Me

The hike down to the waterfall was pleasant and the park wasn’t very crowded. We walked along the river for a bit. When we saw this tire, Good Man said, “Hmm, I wonder who drove here?” You’d think someone would drag the tire out of the park.

Tire(d)

I also found a bunch of very slow-moving dragonflies. Good Man shook his head, “No, no, no, Amanda…”

Dragonfly

Beauty Shot

Any time I stop to take a picture of insects or animals or flowers or… Good Man sighs, “My wife is a country girl. My wife should not be teacher. My wife should be insect person.”

“Entomologist.”

“Sure.”

“Don’t you find nature interesting?”

“It is what it is. It goes on. I do not need to take pictures.”

I poked him. “When we met you said you liked photography and that my Korean would improve if I hung out with a Korean guy like you. You lied.”

Good Man shrugged, “But I got you! So it worked! 짜잔~!”

Black and White

The Eyes Have It

“Oh, my wife…”

“You chose me! 짜잔~!”

400!

Tonight was our last competition night of league. Next week we find out the standings and the prize money is handed out.

Tonight Good Man and I bowled against a team we really enjoy bowling against. The previous two times we bowled against them, we won two games and took four or five points. Tonight we won all three games (and took all seven points, obviously).

Even more exciting—my scoring! I scored a 155, a 130, and a 120, making it a 405 series. My previous best game/series was 151/381. I had hoped I’d get a 400 series at least one this season but had basically given up. And when I wasn’t trying, I made it!

Chopsticks and Soy Bean Paste

Most of the time the fact that Good Man was born and raised in Korea, and that I was born and raised in America, is unimportant. We’ve worked out a lot of cultural quirks and lived in the not-native country. Most of the time I’m only reminded of our differences when other people ask about them.

But then there are stories that remind me—quickly—that we are Korean and American.

Good Man and I were talking about childhood stories and he told me he stuck a chopstick in the light socket. My brother had stuck a fork in the socket. Korean, American.

Then he followed up with another story that reminded my of my brother. “I was trying to hold a bee in my hand, because you know, there are those big bees that don’t sting,” he said.

I nodded, “By brother used to call them the ‘big, fuzzy bees,’ and he’d pet them.”

“Right, and so I was trying to catch one in my hand!” I laughed, anticipating what was coming next. Good Man continued, “And I caught a bee, but it was the wrong kind, and I got stung.”

“What’d your mom say?”

“Well, she didn’t really say anything, but she put 됀장 on it.”

“Your mother put soy bean paste on the bee sting?” I certainly wasn’t anticipating that.

“Yeah, what do you use?”

“Baking soda and water paste.”

He shook his head, “No, that is weird.”

Nest and Egg

Tuesday morning, during my walk before work, I found a bird’s nest on the sidewalk.

Wednesday morning I almost crawled back into bed because it was windy and rainy. Tempted as I was, I headed out. Several streets away from the nest, I found a robin’s egg in the grass. It had a big hole gnawed out of the side.

Nest and Egg