• Category Archives Korea
  • Wisdom is where you find it

    Winter and the Cold Moon

    Tuesday gratefuls: Tara. Rabbi Jamie. Great Sol, seen again. Taoism. Acupuncture. Needles. Meridians. Jill. Spinal stenosis. Theodicy. All is one. The one is all. Yet I am. Tom. Diane. Ginny and Bo Yi. Fan Kuan. Taiwan. The National Palace Museum. Korea. My son, Seoah, Murdoch. Joanne. The Mountains. Crisis of confidence. The Hazel Miller Band. Alan. Gary. Torah study. Shadow Mountain.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Jazz Sax

    One brief shining: Wondering if there’s one place that provides music to acupuncturists and massage therapists that only has one recording which includes whale songs and related noninstrumental music, what I heard while resting face down, torso and feet bare as Jill needled my lower back and feet, the also not to be missed wallpaper image of the Milky Way rising in the desert.


    My maiden visit to the world of Chinese medicine. In a small strip mall not far from home just off 285. Near the Snowpack Tap Room. Jill shares an office with a chiropractor who looked like an ex-boxer. In the area that adjoins the restrooms some wag put up a skeleton with a doctor’s white coat. Not sure about the message of that. Bones? From Star Trek?

    Yes, it was an odd visit. And yet. My back feels better this morning. How bout that. Jill got a good sense of what I wanted. Trying to nail down methods to keep me traveling. Acupuncture as one modality. So she had me lie down next to the Milky Way, whale song filling the air, and proceeded to place the needles.

    I went to Medical Acupuncture on a whim, sort of. That is, Sue Bradshaw agreed with me that cortisone injections and back surgery were bad juju. Which leaves, she said, physical therapy, lidocaine patches, acetaminophen and the very occasional NSAID, and acupuncture. The only one of those that was new to me was acupuncture so I decided to try it out.

    In spite of my feelings about the context, a bit too latter day hippie for me, I think the needles will become my friend. Chinese medicine is an ancient art and science with wisdom we Westerners most often ignore. As with most of Asian culture for that matter. As my friend Bill wisely said, if you turn your back on a form of treatment it will do you no good. Well, then again. I turned my back on this treatment. Ha.

    So. P.T. exercises daily. Lidocaine patches, perhaps for touring days when traveling? The occasional pain med. Regular resistance work. And acupuncture. Keeping this old body rolling, rolling, rolling.

    I feel pretty good about this. A problem surfaces in Korea. Gets diagnosed and calmed down. Thank you, Mr. Lee. Western doc refers me to p.t. Mary the adopted Korean physical therapist helps me further along the road. Now Jill the acupuncturist introduces Chinese medicine as a prophylactic. And I have pushed myself back to three sets of resistance work. It takes a village and a couple of different cultures to get me to a good place. Worth it.

  • Others

    Fall and the Samain Moon

    Saturday gratefuls: Lutheran Spine Center. Mary. Melody. Tara. RSV vaccine. Safeway. Israel. BA cancellation. Keshet. Conversion. Mikveh. Embracing the darkness as we move toward the Winter Solstice. Samain. The fallow time. Business mornings. Tuesdays. P.T. exercises. Workouts. Keeping up with it. My novels. The new one aborning. Kep, my sweet boy. Kate, always Kate. Seven Stones. Gabe. Ruth. Friendsgiving. Thanksgiving. Relationships. Family. My boy, Seoah, Murdoch. Friends. Deciding what comes next.

    Sparks  of Joy and Awe: Joann

    One brief shining: Once again confirming my medications, giving my date of birth, looking at my oxygenation, my blood pressure all fine as I prepare to meet yet another doctor, this time Melody, a p.a. physiatrist, who has me bend side to side and forward, who takes both of my legs and twists them this way and that, any pain, stops and says you have every reason to be hopeful as she left the room when we were done.


    Yes, my Korea experience still has me on the road for visits to physical therapy and then Lutheran Spine Center yesterday. Melody confirmed my conjecture that my recent neglect of resistance work probably led to my flare. Why did I do that? Not depressed. My best guess is. Got tired of it. Self care takes time. The older I get the more time it takes. Wanted to save a little time by not doing the resistance. Bad choice. Melody also made me feel good because she expressed surprise that I’d held off this back trouble for so long. Definitely your working out. And, she said, if you keep up your exercises you have every reason…

    I know these things to be true. I know. But. There’s a certain weariness that comes with repeating the same things over and over. Get on the treadmill. Do the squats. The chest presses. The lawnmowers. The dips. The bicep curls and the shoulder presses. The skullcrushers. Those core exercises. Now adding in physical therapy exercises for my back specifically. Guess I need an attitude adjustment. Working out keeps me able to do the things I want to do. Like travel. Go see friends and family. Take care of myself while living alone. Pretty important stuff.

    New attitude. Take the time. It’s worth it.

    Similar note. Got my RSV vaccine yesterday at Safeway. Still seems weird to me to go the grocery store for anything medical. Yet there you are. Some kerfuffle with my birthdate and my medicare card made me wait longer. Then a quick jab, a bandaid, thank you. Noticed while I was there that Safeway has renamed their aisles using local street names: Barkley Road and Shadow Mountain Drive, for instance.


    At breakfast with Tara yesterday I had an aha. At this point in my life relationships are what matter. Not even writing that new novel or finishing Jennie’s Dead. Not even traveling unless it includes building or deepening relationships. Hmm. That one may not be right. I still like to travel alone. Not even striking another blow for justice. I spend more time now having breakfast and lunch with friends, seeing Gabe and Ruth, my son and Seoah, than I do on anything other than taking care of myself. And it never gets old or repetitious. No, I’m not converting to extroversion. I still don’t like crowds or parties or too many people around. But one on one or with two or three others? Yes. That’s where the juice is in my life now.



  • Spine and Restraint

    Fall and the Harvest Moon

    Friday gratefuls: Mary, my physical therapist. Nerve glides. Home exercises. Spinal stenosis. Tamed, but not gone. CBE. Mussar. All the mussar folks. Luke. Anne. Marilyn. Nancy. Ginny. Ellen. Sally. Janet. Jamie. The Shema. Israel. Keshet. Geoff. The international rules of war. The IDF. Palestinian civilians. Israeli civilians. Exercise. Evergreen Market. Sugar Jones. Easy entrees. Safeway. Ruby and her good work for me. Snow. A hard freeze. Cold night. Dreams may come. Black Mountain Lodgepoles with a Frosty look. Stars.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Core muscles

    One brief shining: Mary attaches a band to my raised legs and harnesses herself to it, then pulls back with her body weight, about 110 pounds, to create gaps in my lumbar vertebrae so my nerves will be happy and not angry.


    Mary, my physical therapist, is a compact woman. Five feet two and a hundred and ten pounds. An adopted Korean. She’s going to Korea next year for the first time. I’d say she’s maybe 26, 27. We talk about my son and Seoah, about Korea and its evolving attitudes toward women. And Korean women’s evolving attitudes toward their historic role. I admire her grit and her independence. She lives in a cabin on someone’s property in Evergreen and has for three years plus. On her own. She’s a good therapist. She listens and she teaches with kindness. A good find in case my body continues to give me fits. As I’m sure it will. She says we’re making good progress.

    A week from today is my appointment with the Lutheran Spine Center. The doctors there are physiatrists, docs who diagnose the cause of pain and develop treatment plans for it. Mary is the practical, right now approach to acute care. The Spine Center will develop a plan for how I deal with the stenosis long term. Good to have both available and especially good to get into Mary early so I can alleviate my symptoms right now.

    None of this detracts from the good care I got in Korea. The orthopedist there and Mr. Lee took an acute and painful situation, turned it around so I could continue my trip with limited pain. They have my gratitude.


    I’ve attached four paragraphs* from a very useful article in the New York Times this morning. In it the author, Amanda Taub, makes quite clear what several centuries of human observations of war and its consequences have done to adjust our understanding of how and why wars should be fought. I found it useful for sorting through the confusing and contradictory feelings I’ve been having. Yes, Israel has a right to fight back and defend itself against Hamas. Of course it does. And, further, what Hamas has done in murdering civilians and taking hostages contravene the international laws of war.

    What Taub’s article makes clear though is no matter the why of Israel’s justified response it must still follow the international conventions which ensure protection of civilians. Hamas’ crimes do not justify similar crimes during Israel’s invasion and bombing of Gaza.

    Several questions will arise once this war comes to an end. What is a viable and permanent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dilemma? Why did the IDF fail to act earlier and quicker? What happened to Israel’s vaunted intelligence gathering? Why is Netanyahu still in power? Why are the far-right officials in the Israeli government still there? What direction can Israel take to ensure a long and lasting peace? Yes. All these questions will be front of mind the day hostilities cease. But now, right now, the question is how to restrain the IDF from acting against civilians. And that must happen. For the future questions set out above, yes, but more importantly for the protection of Gaza residents. Now.



    *”Two principles are particularly helpful. The first is that the “why” and the “how” of war are separate legal questions. The justice or injustice of a cause of war does not change the obligation to fight it according to the rules of humanitarian law.

    The second, related principle, from which much of humanitarian law derives, is that civilians are entitled to protection. Armies and other armed groups cannot target them directly. Nor can they disproportionately harm them in the course of pursuing legitimate military goals. And those obligations still apply even if the other side violates them by targeting civilians themselves…

    The core principle of jus in bello is that civilians cannot be targeted for military purposes, or disproportionately harmed as a means to a military end. That’s true regardless of the legality of the underlying conflict, and regardless of whether the opposing side has itself violated humanitarian law.

    “The most straightforward way to think about that is just that the protections are protections for human beings,” said Tom Dannenbaum, a professor at the Fletcher School at Tufts University who is an expert on humanitarian law.” This NYT article by Amanda Taub




  • War

    Fall and the Harvest Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Israel. Hammas. War. Destruction. Shiva. Kali. People in crisis. Wild Neighbors who live with death and violence everyday. Palestinians. The One that includes all of these. A swirling chaos of intermingling realities. A Fall day. Cool night. A liminal time between growing season and fallow season. The season of harvest. Sukkot. All harvests everywhere. Sustaining our human family. Mabon. Samain. The final harvest festival and the Celtic New Year. Simchat Torah. Endings and Beginnings. We come to the end and find in it our beginning. (yes, Eliot)

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: One World

    One brief shining: Jimmy brought me my coffee in a shiny white ceramic cup tall and slender, set it on the polished pine table top along with a small pewter pitcher filled with cream while I gazed out the window at Bear Creek tumbling and splashing over the rocks in its bed as it flowed on its way to the South Platte carrying water from Maxwell Creek, Cub Creek, Blue Creek, and Kate’s Creek.


    Learned in some reading yesterday that among jet lag’s symptoms is gastrointestinal upset. Oh. Well, not a Korean bug, then. A gutty reminder of the intricate dance between the second brain in our digestive system and the rest of the body. This jet lag was brutal. Lasted over a week upsetting my sleep, my mental acuity, and my tummy. Gonna seek out a different way of getting to and from Korea. Probably two steps. One to the West Coast. Rest. Then fly to Incheon. Reverse. Maybe even try the phased sleep plan which seemed too complicated before I left. And now feels a bit more approachable.

    In my third day of p.t. guided exercises. Back to my workouts with no restrictions except: if it hurts, don’t do it. Kate gave this sort of advice often. I have a long road back from the detraining I visited upon myself and the pain occasioned by my spinal stenosis. On it though.

    Mary, my physical therapist, wanted me to take note of my hip/back pain as I was out and about over the days after my first visit. Treadmill: 25 minutes at 2.5 mph (slow walk) at 2% incline-no pain. Dancing with the Torah-about 20 minutes of jumping and twisting and moving-no pain. 20 minutes walking into a mall (remember malls?) to buy sunglasses, walk back out-no pain.

    The only thing new since that first visit is the exercise regime Mary gave me.


    3 months ago I took out a subscription to Haaretz, an Israeli English language newspaper. Dad always said, read the local news. And, I do. Right now Haaretz is an invaluable resource for the conflict happening in Israel. Its opinion pieces, photographs, and on site reporting have given me a good, and I believe sound, overview both of the events of the last two days and the future implications of this surprise invasion.

    The trip which I had planned may not occur. At least not now. My plane for Jerusalem leaves Denver on October 25th, two weeks and three days from today. Unlikely this will be resolved by then. See attached below a CBE response by Rabbi Jamie sent out today.*


    *Dear Friends of Beth Evergreen,

    Friday night at Beth Evergreen (CBE), we gathered in our beautiful sanctuary to celebrate the culmination of the High Holiday Season, dancing with the Torah and one another in honor of Shabbat and Simchat Torah.  Yesterday morning, with the news coming out of Israel, our holiday joy was shaken and our Sabbath peace shattered, all the more so for family and friends in Israel who have been embroiled in internal struggles for the future of Israel’s democracy.  This brazen and unprecedented attack on Israel was deliberately timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War.  Today, we were reminded that the war continues.  And the reverberations reach far and deep.

    As many of you are aware, in just a few weeks, a group of us from CBE have been planning a trip to Israel – a 9-day tour through this ancestral homeland, and a bike ride to support environmental and peace efforts of the Arava Institute.  Exactly how this  brazen and unprecedented attack will impact those plans is too soon to say, but impact them it surely will.

     In the coming days and weeks, as we watch the situation closely, we will be working with our friends in Israel and partner organizations here in Colorado to discern how to best support Israel and one another through this difficult time.  In the meantime, please consider joining me at Beth Evergreen next week, on Sunday, October 15 from 4 – 5:30 PM for a special gathering of informative dialogue, mutual support, and prayerful action to ensure the safety and security of Israel and promote peace and justice in the region.  And for something you can do right now, you might also consider making a financial donation to support life saving and peace promoting organizations in Israel/Palestine, such as Magen David Adom at https://www.mdais.org/en/donation (Israeli version of the Red Cross).

    Lastly, we at CBE echo the statement issued by Reconstructing Judaism and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association made earlier today.  We are indeed:

     “…horrified by today’s massive attack on Israel by Hamas. We condemn the attacks unequivocally and join in solidarity with the people of Israel on this harrowing and difficult day. The scope and magnitude of these attacks, intentionally conducted in the early hours of Shabbat and Simchat Torah, is on a scale not seen in many years. Over 250 Israelis have been killed, over 1400 wounded, and dozens of Israelis have reportedly been kidnapped and taken hostage by Hamas. We pray for the safety of all those taken hostage and call for their immediate release.

    We hold the leaders of Hamas and other militant groups responsible for this senseless loss of life, and we demand international accountability for these outrageous war crimes. Today, thousands of families across Israel are terrified. We are scared for them. We are also scared for Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza. We know this violence will lead to more violence. Israel has already launched strikes in Gaza, and hundreds of Palestinians have been killed. This is a day of profound anguish and horror.

    We support Israel’s right to defend itself in line with international law in the face of such violent and indiscriminate attacks. We pray for a swift end to this violence, and we hope that a slide into even further conflagration and suffering for Israelis and Palestinians can be prevented. When it is over, we recommit ourselves to working for a just and long-term solution.

    With our fervent prayers for safety, security, a return of hostages, and peace for one and all.

    Rabbi Jamie Arnold



  • This and that

    Fall and the Harvest Moon

    Monday gratefuls: A pink Cumulus Cloud over Black Mountain. The start of a new Day. A new life resurrected from the 1/60th death of sleep. Each Day a full book in the library of life. The vast wing dedicated to each life. Yours. Mine. The Mule Deer and the Butterfly. Rain. Fall weather this week. My son and his sweet note. Gabe. The Rockie’s game that wasn’t. Twins playing last year’s winner of the World Series in the playoffs. House cleaning today.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Life, the wonder and the miracle

    One brief shining: Small drops of Water hit my deck this morning, taking the Mouse trap outside to make  an offering to the Ravens, the dead mouse would not come out.


    Yes. When I got back it was late September and the Mice had made a new incursion. When I went to get my electric Mouse trap out, I noticed a blinking red light. The sign of a killed Mouse. ? Sure enough, in the worst decision of its short life, this particular Mouse had chosen the Mouse trap as its home.

    I don’t like killing mice. It makes me sad, feel guilty, puts me in a category of human behavior I never aspire to. Yet my team that came to help me clean a couple of years ago made me get over it. Too much of a health risk. And, I know. I know. Hamburgers. Bacon. Chicken wings. Who ever said contradiction was not a part of life? Even so.


    Slept well the last two nights. Colon less vigilant. Yay. Jet lag waning, as it will. Perhaps today, maybe tomorrow I’ll shake free of Korea’s Sun and return to the one under which I now live. These transitions go unremembered after a journey is over. Their price part of the experience like airfare and taxis.


    Fall in the Rockies. A distinctive time here, one I’m glad I didn’t miss. The bugling of the Elk Bull’s searching for mates. Hyperphagic Bears tipping over garbage cans, raiding cars, going into houses after a portion of the 20,000 calories a day they need before their long nap. The Aspen’s gold, muted this year, against the evergreen of the Lodgepoles. Signs for snowplowing, ads. The Mountain Lions hunting for the straggling Mule Deer, the startled Rabbit. Skies as blue and as pure as new born Fawns, reflected in Mountain Streams and Lakes. The weather becoming more unstable, veering between heat and cold, changing. Nights that go into the electric blanket zone. Days that feel warm in the sun, cold in the shade. All of us, humans and wild neighbors, making sure we’re ready for the cold season that follows.


    If you read the NYT, you will find in this morning’s edition an article about Bishop Joseph Strickland: A Texas Bishop Takes on the Pope. It’s rare that I have a personal connection to any stories featuring Catholicism coming of good Protestant stock and about to become a Jew. In this case though. Paul Strickland, Joseph’s older brother, is and has been a close friend of mine for over thirty years. He’s one of the Ancient Brothers who meet by zoom each Sunday morning.

    Paul and all of us Ancient Brothers have a very different take on the world than Joseph. Yet. Not a surprise that Joseph is articulate, strong, and determined. Like Paul. Not a surprise that Joseph has catalyzed others. Like Paul and the 10,000 Friends of the Maine Coast which prevented a huge LPG terminal from taking over the tiny Maine town in which he lives. Even folks in the news have families.



  • Not all the way back yet

    Fall and the Harvest Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Jet lag. That Korean stomach bug. Surviving still. High winds today. Bright blue Colorado Sky. Great Sol out and shining. My son, Seoah, Murdoch. Their big apartment. Songtan. The family practice doc. The orthopedist. Bongeunsa. Seoul. Jeoju. K-dramas. Gabe. The Rockies. The Ancient Brothers on savoring. Korea. Repine. Bradshaw. Derm. Recollecting Korea. Distances made real by the body’s unwillingness to leave one place for another. Breakfast at home this morning.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Moments. This one.

    One brief shining: I could tell you my fingers curve, strike the keys from long muscle memory, my feet crossed on the small foot rest, my back slumping in the Henry Miller, now upright again, as the folded, bathed neuronic miracle between my ears sends messages and has them spelled out here in pixels by the keyboard’s link to the computer screen, no prior knowledge of what I’m about to say necessary, write this word, then that one, they come down from the boss organ.


    The unexplored regions of our own body. Have you seen your brain? Probably not. Yet, it works, anticipates, sees to fuel and motion and elimination and rest. All on behalf of… What?

    That was weird. Two blackouts. A third. High winds can screw up the power lines. Even cause fires. After the fourth pulse off the generator kicked on. Going now just below where I sit. Its reassuring purr makes me feel taken care of. Glad I had Bear out in May to do the maintenance on it.

    Before the blackouts, I planned to do a short disquisition on how the brain/mind sends messages without a conscious decision. That would be pretty slow, wouldn’t it? Let’s. OK. What’s next? See. That’s good. Where was I? We’d never get anything said or written if we had to will the words to come out. No, we talk. We write. And our brain/mind sees to the flow. And, oddly, the content.


    Had to send Gabe the tickets to the game, hoping he can find someone to take him and a friend to the Rockie’s last game. This jet lagged, stomach bugged elder was not up to it. Hate doing that, but self-care comes first. Nothing serious. Disoriented and tired of my colon saving me from myself. Real tired. Will pass. Sooner rather than later, I hope.


    I know. Sorry. A life full of the occasional woes these last few weeks. I try to document them and not over report, leave a trail so that if I want to know what happened right after Korea I’ll have enough recall it. Still, they’re not uplifting even though each one a part of this human experience.

    That said, I’m not into uplifting anyhow come to think of it. Thoughtful. Sensitive. Emotional. Descriptive. Questioning. A bit of diatribing. Analysis. Fun. Yes. But uplifting for uplifting’s sake? God, no.

    Gonna go slow today. Rest. Eat. Read. I will return to my former brightness when it happens and not before anyhow.




  • Welcome Home!

    Fall and the Harvest Moon

    Friday gratefuls: My bed. My house. Shadow Mountain and Black Mountain in their Autumn finery. That Mule Deer Doe welcoming me home yesterday morning. Alan and Joan this morning. Jackie at 12:30. Airing out the house. Safeway. All the conveniences and comforts of home. My son and Seoah and Murdoch. Chuseok in Okgwa. Seoah’s family. Her home village. Body and soul in different locations. Jet lag. Getting back into the flow of my life.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Body and soul

    One brief shining: Have you ever awakened and not been sure where you were, either in time or space, like coming out of a dream and thinking, oh I’ll head down to the Grilled Fish Shop this afternoon for lunch with Seoah, and shaking your head and saying no, silly, you’re on a plane headed back to the USA and it’s midnight back there in the land of the Morning Calm.


    Slept 8 hours last night. 9 pm to 6 am. Jet lag still present and accounted for yet I’m adjusted to Shadow Mountain circadians so it won’t last too long. Still have that buzzy, jaggedy feeling that comes from having left a bit of my soul in Korea. It will wander home in the next few days, reunite. Have to take extra care right now. Fall risk higher when the head and the body don’t have the same reference points.

    I remember our trip to China Kate, my son, and me. Late 1990’s. When we got back to the U.S. in Seattle and went through Customs and Immigration, the Immigration officer said, “Welcome, home!” Felt personal and very welcome. Yes. On Wednesday the Immigration guy said, “Welcome back.” A bit more desultory yet still good to here. Back in the U.S.A. As Dorothy so wisely said, “There’s no place like home.”

    Realized we come home in gradually narrowing circles. I left Korea and Asia. Biggest circle including Shadow Mountain. When the plane hit U.S. airspace, that circle narrowed to the Western U.S. In Dallas the circle got smaller still encompassing a mostly north-south area with the Rocky Mountains dominate. When I arrived in Denver, the circle shrank again. At the Parking Spot where I picked up the Rav4 it became smaller still, contracting with each mile I drove, finding an intimate level when I turned right off 470 onto 285 to the stretch that leads toward Conifer, up the Front Range. The circle closed when the Rav4 hit my driveway, the garage door went up, and my house light came on to welcome me home. Welcome back, Charlie. It was 11 pm when I turned Herme back on for the first time in over a month.

    Home is the same, yet changed. The material artifacts my stacks of books, the bed, the couch, Jerry’s big painting, the fireplace, the induction stove all the same yet the mental overlay I bring to them now includes the streets of Songtan, the Bongeunsa Temple, the Korea Art Frieze, a long and welcome time with my son and Seoah, the trip to Jeonju and the hanok houses, the fish market, Daniel and Diane, Senior and Jake, Sejong the Great’s palace and statue in Seoul. The smells of the barbecue places, the hotpot shops, kimchi. The Songtan Orthopedic clinic and the Family Care clinic.

    This is true every time I leave home. The Korean instance being close to me now and markedly different from the life of Shadow Mountain. Yet after this morning’s breakfast with Joan and Alan I will return home changed, too. With the warmth of friendship, with new food digesting, a morning drive in the Mountains behind me. This is Heraclitus, you can’t step into the same river twice. Or, come to think of it, ichi-go, ichi-e, each moment is once in a lifetime. And you leave each moment changed.

  • Agency

    Fall and the Harvest Moon

    Thursday gratefuls: My own bed. Stop now the journey has ended. 21 hours from Incheon to Shadow Mountain. Reasonably smooth. No real hiccups. Korea. The USA. The Rocky Mountains. The Mountains of Korea. Just realized I have no immediate family in the U.S. Gabe and Ruth, yes. Grandchildren. That woman who helped me open my snack on the plane to Denver. Incheon. Dallas. Denver. The Parking Spot. Home by Rav4. Up Shadow Mountain Drive for the first time in over a month. Getting mail today. Breakfast at Aspen Perks.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: 8,800 feet

    One brief shining: Lost my light LL Bean coat somewhere in the Dallas Airport, left only with the t-shirt on my back, having packed everything else in the blue plastic bin for storage in Songtan, refused to buy a Dallas Cowboys sweatshirt even though I wouldn’t get back until after 9 pm, found a zipup sweatshirt at a store in the Denver Airport, liked it, and wanted the warmth so I bought it only to realize that the color I liked and the fact that it zipped up on the left meant it was a woman’s sweat shirt.


    On returning home. Realized I returned to Shadow Mountain agency when I left Joe and Seoah behind at the airport in Incheon. I love them to pieces and get the same back, yet to them I’m also an old man with a bad back, a lingering cold, a certain frailty that needs to be accommodated, accounted for. I am an old man. I do have a bad back and that damned cold wouldn’t go away. All true. I’ll even cop to a certain amount of frailty, at least from their mid-forties perspective. Yet I experienced this time with them a slow and quiet unintentional leaning into their love, their care. I liked it, appreciated being looked after, considered. Seductive and in the end, at least for now, not the side of our relationship I want to nurture.

    It was an unusual trip. The episode with my back put me in a need to rest, to consider how much I could handle mode. And just as the orthopedist and Mr. Lee got me back to regular exercise and much, much reduced back pain we all got that cold. They both had it and recovered. I had it and it lingered, then became a sinus infection. Meant I spent more time than I wanted dealing with acute health care issues, then reckoning for the chronic nature of my back issues.

    The net result of all this was that I presented as a needy old man for significant chunks of time. And, I was. However, in the Shadow Mountain context I would have handled all this with my own health care team. Made the appointments, followed up. But in Korea, I couldn’t due to the language barrier. That meant Seoah had to take charge of much of the detail oriented side. And I’m glad she did.

    Not sure what I’m trying to say here. I loved being with my two favorite people and their dog. I loved being loved by them in practical ways. Yet I’m also my own guy, leading his own life on Shadow Mountain. Guess I want both at the same time. Seem incompatible. The future though?

  • The Last Day

    Fall and the Harvest Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: American Airlines 280, Incheon to Dallas. My son and Seoah going with me to the airport. Shuttle from Osan. Packing, almost finished. Checking my bag. Airports. Jet planes. Tom in Seattle. Going home. It’s time. Back to Shadow Mountain. CBE. Regular exercise. Flu/RSV/Covid boosters. Passports. Immigration and customs.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Standing upright in the world

    One brief shining: A light rain fell, the air was warm, my son, Seoah, and I stood at the traffic light on Songtan-ro, the green walking man flashed on, we crossed only to find Senior, our other companion for the evening standing there, having walked from the base in the rain.


    After Temple Bongeunsa and the Korea Frieze there was the cold. That got us all and occasioned a lot of weariness. It took me a long time to recover only to discover at the end that I had a sinus infection. Taking the last meds for that today. The result of the cold? I stopped my exercise which had been gradually strengthening my core and giving me regular shots of endorphins. Just too sick to do it. The result of the long recovery arc and the back pain has made the end of the journey less pleasant than I would have hoped. Too tired.

    Did not stop us from going to Jeonju or doing screen golf and having a wonderful evening with Diane and Daniel. In Jeonju we saw the hanok village built around the turn of the last century. Wandered around for half a day. Seoah got  her fortune told. She’ll live to 158 and come into a large sum of money in her late seventies. May it be so. We also had bibimbap, a signature Korean dish which originated in Jeonjeu. Rice and vegetables. A sunny side up egg on top.

    Senior, Jake, my son, and Seoah drove golf balls into an soft projection screen. A delivery guy brought pizza and hot wings, a bottle of Coke. The game went on.

    Later that evening we had supper with Daniel and Diane, a young couple who have built up a large food distribution company that serves all of Korea. Fun to talk with them and hear their interpretation of things Korean.

    Daniel talked about middle school in Korea. I went to public school from 8 to 3 pm. Then, I went to a tutor from 4 to 9 pm. Five days a week. On summer break Korean students see the time off public school as a time to race ahead so do the whole tutoring thing from 9 am to 9 pm. Sounded exhausting to me.

    In between visits to Seoul, screen golf, Jeonju, and meals with friends I saw the neighborhood, the dong, here in Songtan. A valuable and persistent lesson in ordinary Korean life.

    Today I leave. Feeling wistful about leaving my son and Seoah, Murdoch behind while excited to sleep in my own bed, enjoy my usual rounds of lunches and breakfasts, get back to caring for myself.

    The physical difficulty I’ve had on this trip does make me wonder if I need to modify my expectations, my habits while on the road. I’m not 60 anymore.

    My son and Seoahs

  • The first half

    Fall and the Harvest Moon

    Tuesday gratefuls: My son on leave. Seoah and her quiet commentary on her life. Murdoch the silly. Aided by my son, a silly one, too. Rainy and cool in Songtan. My son’s learned Hangul. Last full day in Korea. Journey’s end. All the memories. Shadow Mountain. Going home.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Jet planes

    One brief shining: The day when the hoped for and expected become past tense as in go now the trip has ended, the trip of 36 days to Korea, to see my son and Seoah, Murdoch and Korea, the trip my first abroad since 2016 back to where the last one started, Songtan.


    All journey’s end. Yes. Including this human journey when our particular constellation of atoms, endowed with life by the hand of evolution, dissolve back into the more random body  of the universe. Perhaps to get collected together again, somewhere, in someone or something. To quicken. To once again open an eye, catch a sound, feel a breeze, taste fresh water. Oh marvelous path, the path of miracle in a wonder filled cosmos.

    On a less lofty note my trip to Songtan has reached its last full day in Asia. It’s been an odd one in some ways. Also precious. Definitely memorable.

    Still jet lagged and much less aware than I prefer we drove down to Okgwa to Seoah’s parent’s brand new house. I fell into a deep sleep after the three hour drive. Around 5 we got into cars and headed for Gwangju to the Outback Steak House where we met Seoah’s two sisters and their families to celebrate Seoah’s mom’s 70th.

    My body and I ended up in the same zone at some point the next day. Much better.

    My son went back to work while Seoah and I toured the neighborhood around their apartment building. Stopping first at a wonderful sushi restaurant, Mida. Labor day weekend. My son was off so we went to a going away dinner for Senior, my son’s top non-com whom he liked a lot. At a restaurant in the Rodeo called the Meat Shop.

    My son, Seoah and I, walked to a restaurant in downtown Songtan for a hot pot dinner with a whole chicken each, rice in the bowl, plus the usual abundance of side dishes. Noticed on the way my hip had begun to announce itself. Hey, I’m here! Pay attention.

    The next day when we went into Seoul for the first time we made two stops. One at the Noryangjjin fish market where we had sashimi made from two large fish alive until we purchased them a half hour before. The second, the palace of Sejong the Great. By the end of a hot tour of the vast palace grounds I found myself in a lot of pain. That hip. Remember me?

    This problem loomed large for me.  I was only in the second week of the trip and I knew I couldn’t keep going unless I found a way to lessen my pain. Frustrating. A visit to a Korean orthopedist, a massage therapist, some procedures. A repeat visit two days later. Learned about the wonderful Korean health care system and got myself a new way to walk. I could continue my trip somewhat as planned.

    The next weekend we went to Gangnam, the fancy neighborhood of hip Seoul. My hip behaved as I tried out my new way of walking, that is, walking like Mr. Lee taught me. We saw the Bongeunsa Temple and I saw the Korea Frieze show in the Coex mall right across from the temple By the end of the day I was tired, but still able to walk. A big improvement.

    I’ll finish this summary tomorrow.