Aunt , Me and Mom in 1976, Korea.
Every time I visit Korea and my family back there, I feel like I am making up for something. It’s a real nice feeling. It makes my stomach warm. We have been always close to Aunt’s family when I was growing up and I had also lived with aunt, uncle and cousin Yoonhee when I was doing the first year at F.I.T as Uncle was in NY for his work. I was lucky to have them while starting my school years all alone but then it wasn’t actually as I was with aunt, uncle and Yoonhee. Then it has been many years we kind of grew a part but here now again we get to see each others whenever I go to Seoul for my business trips. It’s a nice treat to see everyone. There’s always good chatting over delicious hearty food and laughs. Just being together makes me feel very happy and loved. Aunt recently helped mom renovating her new little home and it was my first time to visit mom’s traditional Korean home as she literally just moved in. It felt extra special to be at mom’s new home as aunt helped with many good ideas and also it was right on brother’s memorial day.
Beautifully aging Mom in front of her house. It’s about 150 plus years old traditional home called “Han-Ok” that mom had bought and it’s a kind of architecture that dates back to more than 5000 years of Korean tradition.
Mom’s next project is to add these solid concrete cylinders to the outside fence/wall.
It’s called ” Ogapi” in Korean, a kind of berry. It is supposed to be really good for you. You will see all these sort of things being dried, getting pickled or soaked in the water at my mom and aunt’s place.
Chestnuts drying on a Pyung Sang ( a quite big scaled low wooden seating deck) in the garden… such a Korean scene!
These beautiful wooden beams were hidden and the ceiling was lowered when the house was purchased. Can you believe it?
Poured concrete floor feels very modern in contrary to house’s traditional details. And it has excellent heat conduction as most of Korean homes have heated flooring system.
Happy mom at her new home!
Now we are at Heyri visiting auntie!
Aunt with big big smile and Brandy and Tang right outside of her beautiful Heyri home.
Aunt is an well known fine artist already, Je-soon Kang and she has started making potteries at Heyri studio. Now mom had joined her a bit! Mom holding her very first piece! It’s so fascinating. Isn’t it? I would love to try it one day!
Cheese, no ” KIm-Chi”! Just like an old time. Only difference will be I am the tallest here. Sort of. Ha-ha!!
Beautiful aunt here for an early lunch with me. Mom went off to work. Next time mom!
We are at this Buckwheat specialized restaurant. Buckwheat dumplings, savory pancakes, cold and warm noodle and even down to this much flavorful Korean Buckwheat Sake! Sooooo delicious. Sooo amazing! Chat chat and Chatty Chat. Aunt and I ended up having 4 hour lunch catching up on everything. So much fun!
After a good sleep over at Aunt’s place, this hearty do-your-body -good Rice cake soup for breakfast! It was full of fresh oysters, seaweed, korean herbs and most of all, aunt’s love! So delicious and so good for you!
Aunt holding me for another snap. 1976, Korea
Aunt, thanks for everything and take care till the next time we see! And Mom, I am so happy for your new lovely home!
I love you both, you lovely creative strong sisters!
Typical Summer Dinner on the first night in Korea, Gael and Halmoney (: Grandma)
Actually the flight to Seoul from NY wasn’t too bad. 14 hours on Asiana Economy was much better than what we all expected. Foot rests and private monitors with quite impressive amount and selection of films and hearty meals ( We are talking about Bibimbop served in ceramic bowl and Hot Soup here!).
It’s humid and rainy in Korea right now and Paju where my Mom lives isn’t an exception but sitting out in the garden listening to water running from the mountain and all those birds and insects that cries out their own Summer nights of Korea brings me right back to where I come from.
I am Home.
Happy with a big dinner table in front. Humble and yummy. Waiting for dad. Pyung Sang is a typical low sitting wooden deck in Korea that is much adorned in Hot Summer time in effort to bring typical floor sitting culture to fresh and breezy outdoor. You take shoes off and sit on the Pyung Sang for anything you wish. Taking nap to eat meals, drink teas, all those water melons you can chow down, cleaning veggies, neighbor’s visit and late night stories…. Ah Nostalgia!
A morning at Mother’s house is full of excitement! Ducks are chatting up and You will need to do some Breakfast Harvest in Mom’s amazing veggie garden!
For our Salad. Mom and Gael walked to the small river by the house for picking these delicate and sweet edible flowers.
Front garden Back garden. We are in the back of the house now. Emi picking tomatoes!
Chemical free All Organic Breakfast from Mom’s. So beautiful!
Gael and Mom picking cucumbers.
Mom’s Awesome Fiery Chilis!!
Mom bragged about her sweet and juicy water melons. Her 5th growing now.
100 % Mom grown and supplied. It’s impressive and delicious!
After breakfast walking, We meet up neighbor’s 7 pups! Gael’s dying!
We are starting our first day nice and slowly by visiting ” Bogwangsa” , a 1000 years old beautiful temple in mom’s area.
The Main Temple. I absolutely love perfectly washed out exteriors. So beautiful.
It’s really lush here.
Water from the mountain.
Jang-Dock. Terracotta pots contain Temple made Soy sauce, Miso paste and all. Always love the scene.
Me at Home with Emi and Gael. Meeting Families and Nourishing My Heart and Soul by eating Amazing Food, My culture and again realizing Undeniable my Root in this land.
I am Happy and I am in Love.
The biggest gift my mother gave me is to know how to be independent. She always threw me in a situation where I needed to figure things out and move on. Mother always empowered me and reminded me that I am capable: I can do anything. And I do it well. I may be even the best of all. Ego? Naaa. She taught me to trust myself of doing anything and I do it well and I may be the best of all so I was able to be independent. Always.
In Seoul, My mother used to send me off to a public bath house just myself with a bag of shampoo, conditioner, soap and a towel . I was 6 years old. She gave me something like $7.00 then so I could pay the entrance fee and also buy a cold milk if feel hungry or get tired during my weekly visit to the bath house. Of course it was much safer then than now for a kid to walk around and do things, but this was kind of thing that most of other moms would not do even then. I was already independent. I was already doing things. Growing up as a little kid, I never had someone come to pick me up when there was an unexpected heavy rain. No umbrella. I knew we were poor and my mother always worked. So I learnt to deal with things. I walked home. Rain would dry. I was more looking forward to a warm bath after I got home rather than worried about the rain.
Careless mom? Naaaa. I always knew my mother trusted me. She trusted me about my career path. She trusted me about Emiliano. She trusted me that I could figure things out. Right there, that empowered me to carry my life on and now, I am a 38 year old woman and a mom who is confident and independent and yes I know how to figure things out and I do it well.
Mom, you should be proud of yourself! Look how you raised me! You taught me and showed me the most priceless quality that I could have ever asked, and I have it in me, Mom. That is Independence. Like I know you will survive in a middle of desert left alone, I will too, Mom.
I’ll figure it out. I love you mom. Happy Mother’s day to you..!!!!!!!
1977, When I was 5 years old. Walking into the Kindergarten birthday party. I was bit shy. Mom So Stylish!!
Mom, Dad and Brother. Mom looking amazing here.
Early morning of my wedding day. 1999, Italy
A moment with mom, Emi and Me. Before the wedding dinner.
2 copies of Mom’s first “Solo” publication of her poems have arrived. It took a while to receive them. She had published a few in the past but this is her first Solo and the first one after my brother had left. So it feels extra special. Ha. I feel like I am discovering my mother all over again. A mother of 2 who lost one. A woman who loves. A woman who endures. A woman who respects. A woman who appreciates. Her soul. Her power. Her power to heal her soul. I look up to her strength and endless creativity. I look up to her dignity. Her Beauty. Mom, I feel your soul.
Your incredibly humble heart and resilience.
The C train home never felt so beautiful as today. Thank God I was seated. I just couldn’t stop my tears.
Mom you are an amazing human being. I love you.
Mother and me, 6 month old.