Great Falls Hike and Dalk Kalbi

Today Good Man, Sister, and I met Mark and Lover for a quick hike at Great Falls National Park.

The Falls

With Sister

With Good Man

Sister’s Shadow

I’m pretty sure I took a photo from this spot (with a different lens) in November. It made a more interesting photo then.

Mather Gorge

Straight Lines, Curved Shadows

At the Footbridge

Mark wanted a picture, but it was hard to get an angle where a) a tree wasn’t growing straight out of their heads, and b) their faces weren’t entirely in the shade. I settled on the tree growing between them.

Squinting in the Sun

On Top of the World

Cut in Half

Mark

We came back to our house and made some dalk kalbi. I usually make spicy pork, so this was a nice change of pace. We had it with kimchi, pa jeon, and hobak jeon. Everyone enjoyed it, and when we had some left in the pan, we tossed some rice on it, mixed it up, and sent it home for tomorrow’s lunch!

Dalk Kalbi

새해 복 많이 받으세요!

Yesterday Master posted told me this on Facebook.

아만다 잘 자내죠? 한국은 오늘이 설날이에요. 떡국먹는날. 아만다[가] 떡국 맛있게 만들어줘요~

Amanda are you well? Today it’s Korean New Year. It’s the day we eat rice cake soup. Amanda make some delicious rice cake soup.

Of course, Korea’s a half a day ahead, so today it’s Lunar New Year Eve. But I didn’t need Master to tell me what day it was! I had already bought some (brown!) rice cake disks for soup.

We were originally going to have some for lunch, but long story short, it ended up becoming an early dinner. Diana, Min Gi, and the baby came over. Mark was picking up his lover at the airport, and couldn’t come over for lunch, but when the schedule got messed up, they were able to come over for dinner.

The Spread

We had rice cake soup, mushroom bibimbap, spicy tofu, king oyster mushrooms, cucumbers, Asian pears, and dried seaweed. In this picture the table was set for four, but when we added two place settings and some wine, it was a true Korean spread, with dishes completely covering the table.

Good Man and Mark

Good Man found an interesting article with historical information about the military/dictatorship government, US puppet government, and Japanese colonizers government trying to get rid of Seollal.

The cartoon below (from 1980) shows most people walking toward “modernization” and “solar new year” and only a few people walking toward “lunar new year.”

As a piece of trivia, 2012 is the Year of the Dragon (specifically the water element), although in Kazakhstan it’s the Year of the…Snail.

Happy new year!

Beautiful Gift

A friend made this gorgeous shawl for me, and I got it around Christmas. It’s warm, soft, and a great color on me!

Huge, Gorgeous Shawl

All Wrapped Up

Pattern Details

Wind Picking Up

While we were taking the photos, the sun was setting, and I got this picture.

Setting Sun

That Was Disturbing/That Was Fun

On Tuesday night, Good Man and I went out with a coworker of mine to see Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I haven’t read it and was not expecting the extremely disturbing rape scenes.

Also, I know the MPAA is a ridiculous, political organization, but how did Dragon get an R and Lust, Caution get an NC-17?

***

Last night we went out with Good Man’s coworker and her brother. We had Korean food and spoke in a strange blend of Korean and English to try and be inclusive of her brother.

At one point, Good Man was talking about the (North Korean) Kims and he was speaking in English. I said, “Why don’t you switch to Korean?”

“Then you won’t understand me.”

“Try.” He spoke in Korean and I waited until he was done. “Did you seriously just say the second son loves going to Eric Clapton concerts?”

“Oh! You understood!”

Prince William Forest Park, Take Two

On Saturday, Mark, his Lover, Good Man and I went hiking at Prince William Forest Park. This was the second time Good Man and I were there in as many months, and we took a different route this time. We covered 7.1 miles using directions from Hiking Upward.

Very early on there was a small family cemetery featuring a well-kept stone…and then the other one.

Robert A. Taylor

Mystery

Juniper

Following the Orange Blazes

Shadows

Fall Colors

Mark

Beaver First, Fungus Later

Pet Rocks

Fern and Maple

Good Man Refuses to Smile

Taking Good Man’s Lead

Standing on a Taller Rock

Leaves Before Trees

Trees Before Leaves

Fallen

Clear Cut

Sinking Sun

Curling

Red and Gold

Soft Color-Rich Crazy-Quilted Baby Book

Inspired by a soft book I found online at Homegrown Happy, I sewed up a soft color block book for Diana‘s baby shower gift.

This was a fun project. It was thrifty, because I had scraps in every color other than yellow and orange. (Apparently I don’t dig yellow or orange.) I enjoyed playing around with the textures, and deciding which fabric scraps to use, too. (Some of the scraps actually came from fabric Diana gave me a long time ago.) It was my first time crazy quilting, so this was a good project to get some practice on.

I didn’t take photos of every page, but these give you an idea of what it looks like. The book turned out fairly well, I think!

Cover

Yellow and Green

Blue and Purple

Five Weeks in Korea: Best Idea or Worst Idea Ever

Sister popped up on Google Chat:

언니 미국 가서 오빠방이 허전하다…

Since you went to America, [Good Man]’s room feels empty.

***

“How was Korea?”

Friends, coworkers, parents of former students… It hasn’t mattered who’s asked, my answer has been, “Interesting. Good, but interesting.”

***

After one week in Korea, Mother and I got into a massive, massive argument. I didn’t blog about it then because I needed distance from it. I also needed time, to see how things would end up.

I’m also not going to blog about the argument in detail now because the details aren’t important. But the long and short of it is that I knowingly, and intentionally, acted American and she continued to act Korean (which isn’t surprising).

Sister (bless her) acted as a go-between the evening before Mother and I hashed everything out. I thanked her later, because I am pretty sure she was able to explain my thinking to Mother before I explained it again the next morning. (Sister doesn’t speak much English, but she and I wrote notes to each other in Korean about it.)

When Mother and I did hash it, I said things to her that I would never have gotten away with if I were a native speaker. (Such as “Don’t talk when I am talking. Korean is hard and I need time.”)

I didn’t apologize, and she didn’t apologize. And in this case, there was no need to. Mother thought she did no wrong, and I thought I did no wrong. And both of us were right. As a Korean, acting Korean, she did no wrong. As an American, acting American, I did no wrong.

Once we worked everything out, things got back to normal fairly quickly. In fact, I think things were even better. I think we understood each other more after the conflict, and I suspect fighting and then working through it together (rather than ignoring it) strengthened our relationship.

Before I came to Korea, Mother told me that if I did what she said, we wouldn’t fight. I told her that if we did fight, she would win, because she speaks Korean. In this case she was right, but I was wrong: we both won.

***

So. Was my five-week trip to Korea a mistake?

I got to see places I’d never seen in Korea before.

I practiced so much Korean that when I got back, I found it easier to tell Good Man a story in Korean than in English. When I was done he said, “Wow, your Korean…”

I was able to visit Master, and meet with my Jeonju friends. I even met some other people I’d only known through the net (Grace over at Dating in Korea, and Terry, a regular reader who practices taekwondo).

I learned more about Good Man’s life, and I think I came to understand him a bit better, too.

Sister and I traveled to Busan together, went on shopping trips together, built clocks together, went bowling together, baked apple pie and apple crisp together, and just got to know each other better. We built up the private jokes that friends and family members have.

Mother and I went on day trips together, met her friends, cried at sad TV shows, bantered playfully, and went on long walks together. We also built up our own cache of private jokes.

I missed Good Man terribly, especially after the third week. The last time we were separated for more than a few days was before he moved to America. We weren’t married, engaged, or even living together. It was a big shift to be away from him for five weeks, and it was hard.

But I wanted to go to Korea to better understand my in-laws, and to really get to know them. I absolutely did that.

I’m so glad that Good Man supported my decision to go. And I’m grateful that Mother invited me into her home for five weeks. I only regret that Father had to work the entire time. I feel like I can honestly call Mother “Mother,” and Sister “Sister” and I wish that I had strengthened my relationship with Father, too. But we have the future for that.

Before I went to Korea, I’d joke with friends, coworkers, and students’ parents that “this is either my best idea ever, or my worst idea ever.”

With hindsight, I can say it was truly one of my best ideas.

Master and Mother Meet

“Amanda, will you drink soju?”

“No, it would be weird. If I were alone with Master, I would drink soju, but since you are coming, it would be weird.”

Mother said, “You should not drink soju. It is bad for your health.”

“Mother, you told me to drink soju instead of soda.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“[Good Man] was there. It was on Skype.”

“OK, maybe I did.”

***

Last night Mother and I went across town to meet Master. I was nervous, but it went well. Master’s kids were super shy which made everything a little weird. We went out to the dalkkalbi place that I like so much and had a good time.

And Mother. Mother ordered soju. I touched her forehead and asked if she was OK. She laughed and said no.

“Mother, have you ever had soju with [Good Man]?”

“Only at your wedding.”

While we were eating and chatting, a man popped his head in the doorway. “Amanda.”

I looked up with confusion and realized it was Master’s Father. I don’t think I saw him on our trip here last year, so it had been three years since I’d seen him. It took me a few moments to realize who he was and I could feel a look of recognition pass over my face. “Oh!” I cried out, standing up to greet him.

Master’s Father sat down and Mother ordered another bottle of soju. We all shared one shot before Master’s Father headed back home (he had popped in just to say hi and share a shot).

“Master,” I said after he’d left, “your father looks very healthy.”

“He is. He will live a long life.”

When we departed at the subway station, I cried. I know I will continue to travel to Korea since I’m married to a Korean. And I know I’ll always visit Master’s family when I go to Korea, but it’s still hard to say goodbye.

Mother Meets a Gay Person

“Amanda! Why isn’t [Mark’s Lover] married? Why isn’t Mark married?”

Mother asks this all the time. I have been wanting to tell her for some time that they’re partners but Good Man has always worried that she would not understand. But this time, Good Man wasn’t around to stop me.

“Mother, are you sitting down?”

“What do you mean? Of course I am, you can see.”

“Mother, Mark and [Mark’s Lover] love each other. They are gay.”

Mother narrowed her eyes. “Really?”

“Yes. I know I tease you a lot, but I am not kidding. [Good Man] and I met in June 2008, they met in August 2008. And it is illegal for them to get married.”

“Wow. Shocking.” Mother thought for a moment. “How does Mark’s mom feel?”

I smiled. “Mark told his mom a long time ago, in high school. She loves [Mark’s Lover] like he is another son. So she is OK with it. And Mark’s in-laws like him, too.”

“Good.”

“Mother, you really didn’t know? We usually see them together.”

“No,” Mother said, shaking her head, “They didn’t kiss each other at your wedding, how would I know? I have never met a gay person before.”

I decided not to press the point that she has indeed met gay people but just didn’t know it. I patted her hand, “Well, now you have.”

“You know, more and more young Koreans are coming out now. It’s on the news.”

“I know.”

“I wonder how their families feel.”

I thought for a moment before saying, “I hope their families love them.”

“Wow. Gay.”

I had half-expected Mother to say she was going to pray for them, or say that there are no gays in Korea. I was surprised at how understanding she was, and thought her concern for Mark’s mother was sweet. And now she’ll quit asking why they aren’t married… to women, at least. I fully expect her to soon start asking why they don’t marry each other.