When Jeju Was Tamna


March 14, 2019, Song-eup, Jeju-

Korea abounds in traditional folk villages, as do many nations who seek to preserve their traditional culture-in the face on onrushing development and prosperity.  Jeju’s premier folk village, which I have visited on three other occasions, is Song-eup, not far from Songsan, in the eastern part of the island.

By chance, when Aram, Yoonhee and I arrived here, we were introduced to the same woman who had,as a newly-wed, told Penny and me about the way of life here, some thirty-two years ago.  I recognized her, though she didn’t remember me.  A good-natured, saucy young woman had matured into a dedicated advocated for preservation, with an encyclopedic knowledge of her subject.

These poles served as a gate.  If they were on the ground, this meant the residents were home and ready to receive guests.  If one pole was mounted, call out before entering.  If two poles were mounted, the residents were at home and did not wish to be disturbed.  If three poles were up, no one was at home.


Song-eup proper was, and is, a walled community.  Pirates from Japan were known to occasionally stage raids on towns, in the eastern and southern coastal areas of Korea.  This was enough of a problem that Korean Admiral Yi Sun-shin, one of history’s greatest military commanders, led his sailors to victory over both the pirates and their imperial enablers, in the Imjin War of 1592-98.  The walls helped stem the pirate attacks, in the short term.


This system of roof thatching was used by high and low alike, across Jeju.  The villagers on the west of the island used different material, but the system was the same.


Stone guardians, nowadays called dolharubang, or “stone grandfathers”, graced the entrance to every village in Jeju.  They are now symbols of the island’s culture.  The one on the right is an example of  Koreans’ playful spirit.


The black pig is one of Jeju’s primary domesticated animals-sometimes used as a watch animal, but more commonly raised as livestock.


This house, with its foreroof, is an example of a wealthier person’s residence,as it has an up-step.


Street art here is used mainly to depict animal figures prominent in Jeju lore- especially the dragon- here accompanied by snails.


Here is an example of a more humble person’s residence,with no up-step.


Roof thatch is replaced every five years.  These grubs are found, in the hundreds, thriving in the thatch.


Usually, grinding stones in Korea were pulled by oxen.  On Jeju, horses pulled stones like this one.


Masks were mounted as a defense against harm, in the days of shamanist Korea. Back then, Jeju was called Tamna.  Legend has Tamna established by three men, Go, Yang and Bu, who emerged from three holes-in an area, called Samseonghyol, that is still preserved in Jeju-shi.  Tamna simply means “island nation”, in Jeju’s indigenous language.  There are still a small number of indigenous Jejuans, living in the foothills of Halla-san.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

After thanking the docent for her time and sharing, we spent a few minutes in an educational institute, on the outskirts of Song-eup.  Here, another docent showed us more mock-ups of early village life.  Here is a display of an outdoor kitchen.


As we walked towards the walled, main section of the village, we spotted a fuller example of a long cottage, with an up-step.


This house was called the “House of Two Dragons”, by its early owner.  Thus, here is a sculpture of  the double threat.


Stone guardians can reflect a wide variety of expressions.  Most are serious; some can be mirthful.  These are definitely not in a good mood.


Here is the West Gate, through which we entered Song-eup proper.


Here is  a full view of a Song-eup street.


Large Korean cabbage, a primary ingredient in much kimchi, is a key crop of Jeju. It is related to the Chinese bok choi.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Han Bong-il, a wealthy farmer of old Jeju, left this farmstead to the government, which now preserves it as an historic home.


This is the Peddler’s Inn, located in front of the main Guest House. The former housed people wishing to sell items to or supplicate the magistrate and other officials, who themselves stayed in the Guest House.


Here is the main Guest House.


This is the entrance to the  old seat of government in Song-eup.


This is Mokgwana, the actual office of the magistrate.


Large. old hackberry trees are often top heavy,with age.  This tree needed to be shored up by a system of cables and metal stands.


At this Confucian school, another docent guided us around the areas that are open to the public, whilst explaining that the main courtyard was off-limits, due to an earlier high volume of traffic, detracting from the serenity of the place.


Here is a fuller view of the school and courtyard.


We left Song-eup, in a tranquil mood. Headed westward, we stopped at a rest area, to get this view of Halla-san, rising proudly in the background.


The day was only half over!

NEXT:  Jusangjeoli and Jeongmyon- Two Wonders of Wind and Water

Where the Sun Greets Jeju-do


March 14, 2019, Songsan, South Korea-

After a robust meal of kalbi (grilled ribs), at Kyodong Dok Kalbi, we retired to the Golden Tulip Hotel, in this eastern fishing and shellfish diving center.


Our first stop, on a robust and happy day that will take us across the island, was Songsan Ilchulbong, a small promontory that is a favourite of locals and tourists alike, for greeting the sunrise.  We did not do so, as the sumptuous breakfast buffet of Golden Tulip beckoned first.

Once we did get to the site, though, we found a small course for riding a Cheju pony, similar to the ponies of Shetland.  Yunhee gladly rode the pony, even though it was a very brief experience.



Although the coastal areas of Jeju are treeless, in most spots, an effort is being made to plant windbreak in some places around Songsan.


Here is the volcanic promontory that beckoned us.  I was last up this hill, in February, 1992, with a small group of freshman students.


Here is a view, from halfway up, of Songsan, in the morning light.  Halla-san, the highest peak on Jeju, and in South Korea, is seen in the distance, on the near left  side.


There are many igneous boulders along the route.  Here is a particularly popular photo point for many Korean visitors:  Lamp Rock.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES


The image on the right side evokes a Grandmother’s kind visage.


Two eyes appear to be watching, at this site of twin caves.


The indentation below seems to fit my daughter-in-law perfectly!


We made it to the top, so I chose this as my next profile picture on social media.


Below, is a view of the crater, for which the summit of Ilchulbong is famous.  Yes, the hill is a dead cinder cone.


Here is the southern, less inhabited part of Udo, an islet just across a small channel from Songsan.


Here are the effects of constant saline deposits on this sedimentary boulder, in an area that hosts haenyo, or women who dive for abalone and sea cucumber.  The traditional divers are mainly found in Jeju, though some are in a handful of towns on the southern mainland coast.


One haenyo is seen in the water, wearing a yellow diving vest.


Here is the bell of Dongam-sa, a Buddhist temple at the foot of Ilchulbong.  A funeral was in progress when we visited, so we kept our visit quiet and short.


Contrasting images of the Buddha are seen here.




We ended our visit to Songsan, with a brief visit with an old friend.


With that, we are off to Songeup Folk Village, for some reconnection with the farm folk of old Jeju.



Hanok Village: History as Enterprise, Part II


March 11, 2019, Jeonju, South Korea-

As promised, I continue here with the second half of our little family’s tour of this blend of history and modern entrepreneurship.  It most closely reminds me of the Belgian city of Bruges, in that regard.

We felt the need for lunch, so we stopped at Kyodong Dok Kalbi, which offers a limited number of pibimbap dishes, along with a chopped, pressed and pre-cooked version of Kalbi (beef or pork ribs).   Their herbarium provides many of the key ingredients.


Here, my Korean relatives observe the round of side dishes, which are essential in any true Korean meal. There are usually a few varieties of kimchi, steamed spinach, some small sardines, buckwheat noodles, and some cold pressed vegetable gelatin.  Miso (fermented soup) and a bowl of white rice accompany the meat.  We ate using chopsticks and a large spoon.


Having eaten our fill of satisfying dok kalbi and “fixings”, we felt content as cherubim.


So, we walked along the road that leads to a straw-roofed complex.  We came upon this irrigation stream, with various animals of the Oriental zodiac as conduits for the water.


The fortunate woman has a husband who is willing to be her servant, at least on occasion.


Jeonju is largely devoid of street murals, so this vertical rainbow was a sublime surprise.


Many Korean families have at least a small garden plot.  This one is at a traditional Tea House, where we stopped for cups of medicinal herbal tea.


It is the Tea House which sports the traditional “Jeobuk” straw roof.  The proprietress was surprised at the approach of a mixed group of Koreans and Americans, but was very gracious.


To the east of Hanok, there lies a shanty area, climbing the hillside.  I took this photo from the Tea House grounds.  Later, we would get closer to the settlement, which lies across a divided highway.


Here are the flowers of the cauliflower plant.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHere is a view of the Tea House’s main garden.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFor those wishing to sip their tea in an indoor setting, there is a silk-covered mat, on which one sits cross-legged.  The pearl-inlay chest is a common decor in many Korean homes.


These yellow buttercups match their vase.


This small shrine blesses the garden plants.


Outside this small shrine is a depiction of one of the scenes from the Ten Ox-Herding Series, an allegory of one man’s quest for spiritual enlightenment.


Here is a small Buddhist shrine.


As we arrived at the edge of the highway, I looked across to the shanty, and spotted Edward Scissorhands.


We left the heights and went back down to the main street of Hanok, passing this traditional pavilion, a gathering place in Jeoson days.


Next, along the way, was the place where King Taejo was crowned first monarch of the Jeoson Dynasty.


The coronation courtyard is graced by this stone wheel, dating from 1392.


These stone lions guard the entrance to a nearby guest house.


Thus ended our four-hour visit to Jeonju Hanok Village.  There is much more to this bustling district.  Perhaps a future visit will mean an overnight stay.

Feeling the need for some rejuvenation, we went to Damyang Spa Resort, about forty minutes north of the farmstead.  There, we experienced sauna, hot and cold waters, and I underwent a thorough treatment from an exfoliation specialist, a sort of masseur, who scrubbed me, head to toe, with a rough cloth, then rubbed cleansing oil.




Quantum Leaps and Recovery


March 9, 2019, Gyeom-myon, South Korea-

Friday, March 8, 2019 was the day that barely happened, in my world.  I crossed the International Date Line, right at Midnight, thus throwing me into- today.  We landed at  Seoul Incheon International Airport, about eight hours later.  Amazingly, I got a blessed seven hours of sleep , whilst on board the flying city that is a trans-oceanic flight.

The short hop to Busan, from Incheon, ended on a disconcerting note:  My checked luggage had been detained there, for some sort of “further inspection”.  I was assured that nothing was found amiss, and that the bags would be delivered to Aram’s in-laws’ address, which is where we will be staying, during and immediately after tomorrow’s wedding.

With that, I finished clearing Customs, at Gimhae International Airport, then joined Aram and Yunhee to head to their apartment in the Marine City section of the large port, South Korea’s second largest city.  I took a brief rest, and after catching up on the past several months, we sat down and planned the itinerary for the next several days.  I also caught up on life in the U.S., and learned, to my dismay, that my last surviving maternal uncle had passed away, not long before my flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles had departed.  I will miss his stories and the twinkle that was always in his eyes.


We set out for the lovely country home of Yunhee’s parents, arriving around 4 p.m.  The brief rest stop at Saman yielded these first photos of the Korean countryside.  This highway rest stop has many of the amenities associated with similar concourses in North America and  in Europe.  It also has a small exercise area, with rudimentary simple machines, for limbering.  The bridge connects nearby housing areas with the Rest Area, so that locals can walk and enjoy the shops and restaurants.  The covered shrine-like buildings are for people to enjoy picnic lunches or to just sit and meditate.






Korea has changed much, since we last lived here as a family, in 1992.  I look forward to re-visiting some of the areas we treasured, and to see a few new places, as well.  Tomorrow, my beloved son and daughter-in-law will sanctify their civil marriage.  Stay tuned!

Quotidia Beget Adventure


March 7, 2019, Los Angeles-

Among the phenomena which might be overlooked, when one is en route to a special destination, is the landscape below an airplane circling for a safe landing.  Such was the case this evening, as our Sky West flight from Phoenix got cleared for landing at LAX.

This was the first time in memory that I had a window seat, and thus could look at the vast expanse of  territory that is the Los Angeles Basin.  With all that has been written, bantered and felt about LA and its smog, congestion and excess, the place as a whole is a marvel, when seen from 8,000 feet-especially at night.  Some SoCal-phobes will reply that a mess can’t be a marvel, but we know better.  One does not have to approve of  what is the current situation, to be amazed at how much humanity is packed into even such a vast area.

Prior to this, I put in a full day at work and was glad to leave my charges with a sense of accomplishment, leading up to the ten-week homestretch that follows Spring Break,  The shuttle van down to Phoenix was an equally smooth and quotidian process, with us arriving at Sky Harbor with time to spare.  Barrio Avion provided tender and spicy beef for my farewell burrito.

Two three-year-old boys, meeting by chance and becoming fast friends, provided the after-dinner entertainment.  G., a new older brother, very much appreciated the presence of J., his new friend.  Watching them play with miniature cars and trucks, hide and seek and get lectured by their respective fathers, for shaking the line stantions, that are used to separate groups of boarding passengers.  There was no lack of spirit with these two.  Indeed, my first encounter with G was his running up the aisle, momentarily unbeknownst to his parents.  I kept my distance, but also kept an eye on him, in case he made it clear to the TSA  area.  Mom was on scene, 30 seconds later, and brought him safely back to the gate lobby.  Then J and father showed up and more localized activity took over.

We landed at LAX, about fifteen minutes late.  I then embarked on a 1 1/4-mile walk, from the United terminal to the Asiana booths, at Tom Bradley International (AKA Terminal B).  I am in the shape to undertake such a luggage lug, but I wonder how disabled people are accommodated, with the City of Cars expecting everyone to walk, with no electric sidewalks and only the occasional elevator, along the labyrinth.

I made it, with the loudspeaker calling my name, four times, as the Koreans wanted to verify my new passport.  I heard them and felt their pain, eventually getting to show the document to the chief of security at Asiana and receiving his swift assistance, in getting through the line, to the check-in booth and onto the shuttle bus that brought us to the plane.  It was an East Asian style shuttle, meaning that a packer was on hand, to shout at and cajole us into cramming as tightly as possible.  I actually kind of miss those days, in Seoul and Jeju, though I must say young men are less prone to grab all the seats and make women and older men stand for the ride.  That is the one thing about the old days that never failed to get me rankled, especially when Penny was pregnant with Aram.

I’m on the plane now, seated with an elegant woman from Colombia and a Korean student, on Spring Break from her school in Arizona.  It’ll be a long, and I sense, restful, journey to Seoul.

The Blessings Outweigh….


March 2-5, 2019-

This past weekend brought the beginning of our Nineteen-Day Fast, abstaining from food and beverages between sunrise and sunset, March 2-20 (most years), for those in good health between the ages of 15-70.  This year’s Fast is a bit complex for me, due to travel that will interrupt the practice (Baha’u’llah excuses the traveler; women who are pregnant, nursing, or in their courses;  the seriously ill and those engaged in heavy physical work).

I made good use of the weekend, participating in a seed education program, with one of the community groups in which I’m involved:  Slow Food-Prescott.  I am no expert on seeds, but I can still help with set-up and breakdown of the hall.  I also re-learned a lot about plants- seeds, as opposed to spores, and the various aspects of germination.

Sunday brought me back to Phoenix, for a large music festival:  McDowell Mountain Music Festival, ironically not held in Scottsdale, but in downtown Phoenix’s Hance Park. Two Drum Circles and time with a vibrant and highly artistic friend made the whole event worth the drive.

There was a most diverse group sitting in on the drum circles.20190303_152300


This English band, Maribou State, was giving the last performance of its current tour.  It was their first visit to Phoenix.


My friend was very busy with hoop dancing, and had been at it for three days straight.


I headed back to Prescott in a prudent manner, and have had a good couple of days at work, this week.  Today marked the eighth anniversary of Penny’s passing.  I stopped at the gravesite on Sunday, prior to attending the Music Festival.  I was thus able to properly mark our connection, with a vase of white carnations, which were her favourite flower, and time in quiet reflection.  She loved drumming and had great respect for hoop dancers, so my participation in the former and encouraging Pam and some young women in the latter, was an homage as well.

Most important, though, I have continued with two of our shared passions:  Educating special needs children and advocating wellness.  I have, if all goes well, two years after this, in full time education.  Wellness, though, will be part of my life until it’s time to head beyond.  Essential oils and living a healthy lifestyle are the foundation of my thriving.

In a few short days, I head to South Korea, for the formal wedding of Aram and Yunhee, a return to Jeju and renewing my ties to one of our blessed homes together.  The blessings always outweigh any hardships.

The Fix-Its


March 1, 2019-

I am now less than a week from being with family again.  It will be a tonic for my soul.  Work has become difficult in some respects, which have nothing to do with my co-workers, our students or, for that matter, with me.  That is a subject, though, for another time.  Besides, I have never signed up for “easy”.

I want to consider a recent social and legislative trend that is deeply troubling.  Those who style themselves “Progressives” have embarked on a social engineering project, allowing people with scant medical knowledge to determine which newborn babies can live and which should die.

I am referring, of course, to the recently-enacted law in New York, which, conceivably, will allow someone to beat a pregnant spouse, or significant other, kill the fetus and get off scot-free-for the baby’s death.  Similar legislation has been proposed by a more conservative administration in Virginia, but I digress.

There are a host of alternatives to mass infanticide, with their bottom line being:  “All life is sacred, sanctified.  A fetus in late term, and a disabled, or otherwise “inconvenient” newborn, are just as entitled to life as any creature who walks the Earth.   Rather than open the door to unscrupulous medical entrepreneurs, consider:

Adoption is far preferable to butchery.  It may even be worthwhile to consider establishing nurturing centers, where the unwanted child could get a fair shake at life.  I am not talking about orphanages, in the conventional sense. A parent facing hard times would not have to relinquish all ties to a child.  I am talking about licensed facilities, carefully monitored and regulated, with staff who are highly trained in early child development, brain research and organic/plant-based/essential oils-based nutrition.  These are all things that many progressives, and more than a few conservatives, say they want to see in the world.   It is far preferable to fund such centers than to fund abortion clinics, whose “craft”, if you will, should be a very last resort-only in case of forcible incest or a severe health risk to the mother.  Rape victims, I would imagine, would be better served by a nurturing center, which could also be attached to a rape crisis center and thus provide services to the victimized mother.

I offer these thoughts, with a view towards stopping the stampede towards madness, which, sadly, even political moderates seem to be joining.


Many Left to Cross


February 27, 2019-

I spent the evening with a hospitalized elder.  Though much of my time and energy, over the years, has been spent with children and youth, the elderly are always a tonic for the soul.  We didn’t say much, as she was pre-occupied with eating, something that many of us, who tend to wolf down our food, might find odd.  This is a woman who is not going to go down by choking, though, so she remains the master of mastication.  Her life story remains a source of inspiration to me.  She is, like my late mother-in-law, a widow and the last of her parents’ children still alive.  She has sailed the Amazon, watched giant tortoises in the Galapagos, and enjoyed the finery of the great cities of Europe- and she is the matriarch of a small, but accomplished, family.

This is a time of year when many people rush at me, in the mail or online, pitching this product, or that business course.    These folks are astonished that I am not salivating over making tons of money.  Fact is, I have positioned myself to take care of yours truly, until the Divine calls me to the next level.  That is what my family expects, and their sensibilities matter most.  I am doing well, within those parameters.

There will always be those with their hands outstretched, and there will always be those with the Next Big Thing. I see those, on either end of the Money Spectrum, who stage tantrums or write in hyperbole, about how foolish they think those who ignore them are being.  Then I think, how little trust these people have in the Universe.  How little do they understand the Law of Attraction.

There is much territory left for me to navigate- both terrestrially and psychically.  There are many rivers, and oceans, yet to cross.  The crossing will take me far, wide and deep within.  Still, I glimpse the bright shore ahead.

Back On Track


February 25, 2019-

Today is the first day of Ayyam-i-Ha, the Baha’i Intercalary Days, which belong to none of our nineteen spiritual calendar months , of nineteen days.  It is a time of  special service activities, some gift giving and group celebrations.  In regular Gregorian years, like this one, the period consists of four days, and in Leap Years, five days.

Today also found us back at work, continuing on with the revised program.  Things went smoothly.  The weather is improving, again, and our little team is getting stronger, as small problems get resolved, in a congenial manner, before they become big issues.

Yesterday, part of my time was spent dealing with individual snow-disposal issues,  This evening found another matter with which to assist:  A returning traveler needed to have her car cleared, before she got back on the shuttle from Phoenix-so, Ayyam-i-Ha service activity # 1 was accomplished.

I stopped by Ms. Natural’s, and finally met the owner’s husband-on his own way back to work.  The establishment will be a key part of my own Healthy Spring-in essence, a continuation of the regimen I am promised when I visit Korea.



February 23, 2019-

The day broke,

bright and sunny again.

The driveway and roads

are clear.

No sidewalks available, yet.

So, I drove downtown.

Visited two, very different,

favourite haunts.

Outlaw Donuts had re-opened,

just this morning.

The place was wonderfully packed.

Ms. Natural’s had also re-opened,

after a two-day hiatus.

I was glad,

very glad,

to see a long-absent friend.

The place was quiet,

but for my chatter with

the congenial owner,

about the events of the past few days.

Dear friend was quiet,

ensconced in research,

which looked daunting.

I know she can handle it,

and told her as much,

which brought a smile,

to her earnest, intense countenance.

Returning to Home Base,

I found two snow men in the yard.

Photos will be taken tomorrow.

After a bit more tidying up,


widening my turn-around area,

and scattering bread crumbs

for forlorn little birds,

then clearing a channel,

for run-off in the front,

I enjoyed a nice, long hydromassage.

Re-emergence is a sweet thing.