Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Simplicity of Play...

I found this sculpture today, or perhaps it found me. Do you ever look at something, and just simply think to yourself...this is placed wrong? I found myself doing that as I photographed this from several different angels. This was commissioned for a playground, so yes, it is an image of joy.
I found the view I thought should be facing the street because the figures on top seem to be hidden. It seemed to puzzle me. The why, seemed to be answered when I looked closer, the figures had angular genitals...and in light of how modest this culture is...I saw why this view is not 'exposed'.
This small (and I mean small) plaque was the artist's credit...with the work being erected in 2001 (no pun intended).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wild Horses...

The first time I saw this image on the web, I knew I had to see it at the Daegu Arboretum. This ancient horse blanket was discovered in an unmarked tomb.

It is amazing to me how many of the cultural artifacts have been lost due to wars that have ravaged Korea...China, Japan, and the division of this peninsula. For a culture that is 1000s of years old, it is ironic that is illegal to export anything 50 years or older.

Even though this display is not the actual blanket itself, I was still fascinated by the image of the horse and how much they were able to salvage of this blanket...that was thousands of years old. Perhaps it is because it seems like there are extra appendages, or that the animal seemed to be surrounded by fire, but I suspect the truthful answer is the more personal trait of me being born in the year of the fire horse. I don't often gravitate to images of animals, but this captured my imagination.

However, what appeals to me, are the countless stories that remain a mystery, in unmarked tombs. Though it is said, those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it, but what if history leaves only unmarked graves and temples to study? Where is the art, the prose, and the philosophers of the ancient world that once existed here?

A history that remains for me, almost intangible...and elusive.

It's's just not obvious.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Style for the Dogs...

After the weekend that has been global news, with the suicide of former president Rho Moo Hyun and North Korea not backing down with its nuclear testing (once again ignoring diplomatic efforts). I was glad to see that something that made me smile.
I am sure that this pampered pooch has a closet full of little outfits for cooler days, but it is rare to see a dog with a set of running shoes here in Daegu. Every dog should be so lucky, but I will keep it on the lighter side, since so many aren't here in Korea.
I have seen some sporty pups here in Daegu, but none that compared to this glam dog. This dog is a bit camera shy, even with the owner trying to coax her pet to 'smile for Foreign girl'.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Kreativ vice Creating...the envelope please...

In the few short months that I have been here in South Korea, chronicling my views, the culture, the people and activities I have been involved with I have been honored by your comments, your readership, and now the blogger awards from those that have the power to praise...which is everyone. This is a note to say thank you to a woman who is simply known as "Anita", a writer from Los Angeles CA who found my blog and nominated me for this award. Her blog is as much of a quest, as mine is...with a feel as if she had this desire to go back in time to throttle some sense into a younger version of herself.
I can empathize with that sentiment.

Now on to the award.

There are rules with this reveal 7 things you love and to nominate 7 other blogs that you feel that embody a creative or unique spirit...something about it that you gravitate towards.

Let me get the seven loves confessed...

1) A deep rolling fog
2) A cafe
3) The complete works by Rimbaud
4) A pen that never runs out of ink
5) Red Wine with a full body
6) A cool breeze on a hot day
7) Sunglasses

The list I have complied are of blogs that I feel a connection to. I don't always comment on blogs, and often it is because I just don't want to add to what they have written. It is their voice. Some commenters have disagreed with me, citing blogs can open up discussion...however in my view...discussion is only warranted if it is producing something positive...and not hi-jacking a member's page. I have seen the wasted energy into prolonged arguments that don't prove anything...and turn into huge ego contests.

Sorry, I have better things to do. Agree or doesn't matter...what matters are things that grow...discussion is different from opinions. As I have a tendency to go on, and potentially beat a dead horse, I try to apply the words of Lao-tzu, "Those who do not know, speak...those who do know remain silent."

I appreciate the comments, the feedback, but as the person who nominated me for this award said, "I am a silent fan." I attract what I am...a silent fan of a number of blogs I review because I feed off of other creative creatures...and appreciate what they are doing in this world that all seems to scream, "look at me." These talents create. They create because they love what they do. There are many out there that are taking incredible leaps of faith like I have done...not for money, but because they can no longer ignore who they are.

The award recipients are advised, there are legacy 'rules' that if you choose to accept the award.
1) You post the award on your blog with a link back to the person that nominated you.
2) List seven things you love.
3) Pass it on! You present this award to seven blogs you feel that nourish your creative spirit.

1) Marco Kaufman's Blog, The big book of grievances, is simply brilliant. From a writing standpoint he will simply put himself out there and just free writes...going through the actual journey of what it is to create literary scenes, dialogue...of a work in progress...potentially to create or discard. What every writer goes through when they are in a stage of putting it all together. I simply appreciate what he airing out his journey with us...being willing to be naked, without pretense.

2) As far as interior design blogs go...Digsdigs is at the top of the game. Incredible images, tight writing, and a person I want to have to design my personal space if I ever decide to pick a place to call home. I have rarely seen such an eye that can focus on the smallest of detail and just exude glamour, comfort and style in one image.

3) Barbara's Meanderings is a writer from the East Coast who shares her seemingly ordinary life...that of mother, writer, and retired school teacher who just keeps going. She shares her ordinary moments with her own brand of poetic license. She is a warm person full of life and loves to shine the light on others.

4) Maha Al-Yousif is the Baharaini Diva. Yes, another interior designer that I adore for her added sense of purpose in everything she does. She has a heart of gold and it shows in every post. Simply put, when you go to her go to a happy place.

5) Life Works Living is a blog I have given a careful read. This woman asked the same question I did, and jumped. This brave soul jumped over to Mexico as an ex-pat...where I am on the other side of the globe. However, she has had to endure some soul searching, not to mention being at ground zero of the swine flu pandemic scare. She doesn't post as often as I would like to see her post, but again...I am the reader.

6) Lotus Reads is simply one of the best blogs for international literature bar none! Written by Angelique Manchanda-Peres based out of Ontario, Canada. She offers intelligent, heart felt reviews of works of literature from the broad perspective of the human experience. She has made me discover new writers that have a genuine voice. She is why blogging exists. Our mutual use of the word Lotus in the titles of our blogs only reflects a natural attracts like.

7) Last, and most certainly not least on my list...Marie Isabelle Reed's Vintage Postcard Blog which appeals to two great loves in my life that are not on my list...France and history. Marie is the eternal scavenger hunter...with over 150,000 post cards in her existing inventory. Successfully, she tells you a story with the image...and though you know it feeds into her isn't a sales pitch (or is it?) ...because she simply loves what she does. You can regularly see her posts rank in the top 10 of Facebook is simple. You simply feel she LOVES what she is doing.

There are many, many blogs that I treasure...but this award served as a reminder to thank all of the writers out there who take the time to create, to share, and possibly just to bring a smile to your face because you can relate to what they are sharing.

Former Landfill Transformed into Paradise

Today I believe in miracles. I believe that people can change. Here in Daegu I found a miracle, a green miracle. The pictures you are looking at are from what was Daegu's waste landfill from December 1986 through April 1990 where it had 4.1 million tons of waste. It was left to the city to develop this landfill and what this city has done is shown the world it is possible to coexist with the environment.

The city took aggressive steps to deal with the environmental issues. From 1996-1997 the site was covered with surplus soil from construction sites. It was then developed into an urban arboretum with 5 years of planning from 1998 t0 2002. Now 7 years later, what has flourished is 244,630 square meters of paradise, boasting an inventory 1,500 plant species.
When I think that this area used to be a landfill, I looked around at this transformation as a living can be done anywhere...people just have to stop saying it's impossible, that it can't happen or that the problem is too big.
The Daegu Arboretum has a global vision and has devoted themselves to scientific research and opens their doors to researchers or laypersons from around the world. To enhance community involvement, they offer seedlings during the month of March (planting season in Daegu) to their local citizenry. offering 100,000 tree seedlings, wildflower seeds, flowering trees, vines, etc. just to encourage the love of nature within the community.
This immense area contains 19 gardens with paved footpaths and a greenhouse with over 200 species of cactus.
Just think, they could have done absolutely nothing, dropped their hands to their sides...declaring the problem was just too big.

If they can do it, why can't it be done in the West?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

What lies beneath the surface

This was the last glimpse of the sun, I had before the acid rains of Korea moved in over the weekend. A rain that seemed to keep me inside working on another project, and tend to the mundane details of general housekeeping. The seemingly ordinary act of cleaning that somehow just relaxed me and put me in a different mindset that allowed me to rest mentally so the words could flow when I sat down to the task of writing. I will confess another thing, the Internet has become a huge distraction. A time waster. Though social networking is deemed a necessity, there is nothing like the contact of actual human beings. So I pulled myself away from my computer, packed up my bag to brave the acid rain and to gather my thoughts like a storm cloud.
I went to the one place where everyone gave excuses for not going to and I bought into it for a time...Outback Steakhouse. The excuses primarily focused around price and selection. What I found was a place I did not have to order wine by the bottle...I could actually get just 'a glass' and the prices were fair. However there was a bonus I did not expect. The menus were in English and the wait staff spoke English. There was no game of pictionary...I felt for a moment settled in and I pulled out my notebook and began to write, the old fashioned way, with pen and paper.
This caused me to think about just having a writer's desk. Adorned just with the basic needs. My laptop, and the associated clutter would remain on the other table...but my desk would be where I would work. I pushed the thought aside as I began my walk home.

As I neared my home in the rain and darkness of the night I looked over to the trash collection point and noticed a table that had still not been picked by the refuse collectors. Over the course of a few weeks, the table had been accompanied by a pair of matching chairs. The chairs were gone and the table remained. I had looked at the table that had layers of contact paper laid over the surface. The top layer had a middle eastern motif that was childlike and gaudy. Still, I stood there...just looking and thinking how expensive wood is here in Korea.

I started to examine the table legs, no splits and just a slight wobble and the dirt could be washed off. Still the table top was repellent, that is until I caught the corner and lifted off the film to reveal the honey wood that was underneath. This table sat for two weeks waiting for someone to peel back the layers...until the beauty of what was underneath was revealed.
Indeed, it was quite the find. A few gouges in the wood, a rippling of old varnish that can easily be sanded down and refinished...but what a personality.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

No, not in Paris...yet...

No, I am not in Paris, yet. However, I have to laugh at how I seem to see bits of Paris here in Daegu. In little things, like the sidewalks, walkways, how older apartments are set up, with key pads to enter a private courtyard...but I have to admit...I love the rooftops of Daegu...where community gardens and kimchee pots and grills are set up.
I have to admit...every day I see the image of the Eiffel tower a few times a day. I can't avoid it. I thought about one day photographing just how many different places refer to Paris, or the Eiffel in my 15 minute walk to work...almost like a daily reminder. Now, I have just taken it as a given state of being.
The many bakeries that profess to be French, but are in all reality Korean bakeries with a French name. Bakeries with French all over the walls, but not a French pastry in sight. Paris, is of course more than the Eiffel Tower. The city of Paris is a magnet for many things. The center of revolutions in almost all areas of the arts, culture, and thought. However there was a story that came out today about students being refused their university diplomas for protesting.

Paris is one of the most vocal cities on this earth...the citizens are known for voicing their views. This move, to control public protesting flies in the face of what Paris is known for, Liberty. There is disruption, change, and movement that is constant in Paris that can tend to wear people out by just observing her changing her mood.

But, that is Paris...a city of dreams.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunday Walk in South Korea

It's Mother's Day in South Korea. A Sunday, as any typical Sunday you would see in Korea. Where the streets seem quieter and the glare of the neon is shut down by the sun. Yes, the heat of the day was felt and I was great with the sights of roses growing along fences that possibly would be nicked in some other city, are left unmolested to flourish here. I went out with the intention of writing (which I was able to) at a quiet intersection where I could periodically raise my eyes to take note of the changing surroundings.
Yet, after all of that writing, I found myself fixating on facades. The exteriors that all seem to be the same to blend into a common uniform nature. Without character, as bleating sheep. That is until I saw the one shown up above. Down a side street that red window frames and stones planted on the exterior.

I wanted to focus on detail today. The details that I found for this art supply store sign, that went further than colors...but the nest of bees that was just under the paint brush was really caught my eye.

To focus on the things that normally don't stand out, when you just get a chance to walk where ever you may be.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Honoring Your Parents

I always love it when the flower vendors come out to beautify the streets, and business was brisk today. It's Parents Day in South Korea, celebrated May 8th on the solar calendar and the vendors wares were in high demand, selling the traditional Parent's day flower of the carnation. I was looking up particular traditions that are tied to Parent's Day, and was actually stunned to find that former President Bill Clinton had created a Parent's Day in the US back in 1994 that was to be celebrated the fourth Sunday in July to recognize parents that had put aside their aspirations to foster a nurturing environment for their children.

I found the wording a bit repulsive, since I view you should never relinquish your dreams, but fulfill them. Parenthood does not mean that you give up living your life, your roles in life just get expanded.

Somehow, with Mother's Day and Father's Day already on the calendar, this seemed to go unnoticed by the American public. Parent's day just didn't seem to happen despite the existence of a President's council enacted to encourage communities to celebrate Parent's Day.

However, Parent's Day in South Korea is a major event for the children to present their parents with carnations and a little gift. It is also customary to sign a 'Parent's Day' song. Mainly the lyrics focus on love and gratitude, but the renditions I found were all variations of Western child tunes, such as Clementine and B-I-N-G-O.

The main purpose of Parent's Day is to teach the children gratitude and to render assistance to their parents. It also seems to soften the blow for households that do not have a mother or father present. They seem confused with our concept of needing a separate day for each parent.

Honoring and respecting those who have brought you into this world, to enable you to have the life you have, is a great lesson in where gratitude the home. Perhaps we all need the additional reminders...just to thank those that had their hand in shaping our lives.

Happy Parent's Day to all of you...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Contemplation of an adventure...

I wanted to start this blog with a wonderful quote about travelling...about the virtues...about the real the end I see how much I look forward to the motion of the journey. It isn't about arriving at a final is about the true picture of different lands, cultures, beliefs and ideologies that are fatal to the thought of being a close-mindset braggart. You feel something when you touch the could be could be could be seeing the differences and seeing the similarities.

However, what you really see is raw humanity. Sure I can enjoy the sights, the foods, the wines...but what I am not able to ever get bored with are people. People from all walks of life...that are on their own journeys...and there is something that happens to people when they travel...they forget themselves.

As with any dream, vision, or purpose you state for your life, I have come across this tantalizing prospect, which happens to come across at just the right time. I am at that point in my time in Korea where I had to start solidifying my next journey. My next destination will be Prague. I am trying very hard to keep my focus here in South Korea. There are things about Korea I will always treasure, but like a lover with the roving eye, my eyes have trouble focusing when I think about staying put for any significant amount of time. I keep thinking about how a person is only allotted so much time, and while I am able bodied enough, I need to live my life in one year increments. I threw away my 3, 5, and 10 year plans...because I realized I wasn't enjoying my life living that way. Time went too fast, and before I knew it...twenty years came and went in a flash. I have slowed down my life to savor it.

So my lust for life has propelled me to my planning stage.

I was going about planning my travels to Prague, with everything just about set, I fell into a state of dreading the flight. I thought about the long flight and thought to myself how it was going to be great once I got to Prague...but there was this twinge...this unbearable thought of how much of a waste it was to fly to Prague. I looked at the air route and found myself wishing for a road really see everything...but in a way where I wouldn't be weary. Though there would be time saved in travel...who wants to say they just flew over China, Russia, and a number of other countries...I wanted to see more than the cloud banks...I wanted to be run across those that would go to the end of the line.

As soon as I saw the map...I realized it is something I just have to do. There really isn't any other choice for me...I have to do this trip. To not do this trip, well, it would be like ignoring my nature. I could feel all of the images of the types of people I would see, and there was something nostalgic about riding on a train...I could already feel my imagination getting ahead of myself. Far beyond an Ian Fleming or Agatha Christie novel...
My goal in life has been to travel the go as many places as possible...and to somehow do it while in the process of living an everyday life. This journey will shrink my list down suitably...and leave me smiling, and drinking in the History of the ancients as I go along.

So I will be bringing in the new year some where in Russia...travelling for two weeks by rail...even though I could do it in one. Ah, there is a part of me that has always wanted to say, "From Russia, With Love"...but for now it's from Daegu, where today is Children's Day and Summer is just around the corner.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Enough of the Fear Factory...Raging with a Little Humor

I am starting the month of May with something on the lighter side. After being inundated with issues over communication...not to mention plagued with being sick of the fear factory (AKA the media at large, the WHO, governments who want their own share of fear generating media, the economy, the this and that crisis of the moment; to include global warming, global sickness, global starvation, global economic meltdowns, bombings, suicides, etc. etc.)... I HAVE FINALLY SAID IT IS ENOUGH! I didn't realize how badly I needed to laugh. I am personally worn out. Fear kills. I am personally sick of all of the things that MIGHT happen. I might die tomorrow...I might die in 100 years being the oldest person on the planet. I don't know what may or may not happen...and I believe that is a good thing. So, I am going about the business I know best...and that is being exactly who I am and having my own little fear rebellion. I am going to focus on the only thing I can focus on...and that is my own little world. The only place where I can make any difference.

We can't change anything in a life position of fear. It is one thing I have always known and lived by...and for a moment...namely this week...I had temporary amnesia...and started to get caught up in this webbed world of having to know...only to find this disruption in my life. Venting over with. Advice is not being dispensed...I am declaring my personal state of being passionately disaffected. My self-talk, "Control is within your span of control...and quit feeling helpless about things that are outside of your control."

So I once again could open my eyes and find this for your viewing pleasure. Graphic Tees are often amusing for me. Korean graphic tees are even more so. Often the messages are not what is intended. Often the messages are confusing. Often the messages can make me smile in my foulest of moods.

This one is a classic on writing...the image and the words have nothing to do with writing. "Writing...if you show me real love baby, I'll show you mine...I can make you nice and naughty"
Go ahead...laugh. Didn't that feel good??