Artful Kimchi crocks... arranged by my mother

...and ready for fall season.

Stinky, delicious, spicy, hot, sweet, endless varieties of Kimchi...
Ubiquitously Korean!

Much of Kimchi is made in the fall as a way of preserving the vegetables for winter.
Women from families would go around in round robin style to help each other with kimchi making all within short period of time. It's not possible to make it alone when hundreds of heads of cabbages are involved! Every family had their secret family kimchi recipe. My grandmother busily went around and saw to it that every family made perfect amount of perfect kimchi at perfect time.

Afterwards kimchi is stored in beautiful, hand made clay crocks some with simple swishy designs. Hard to find the vintage kimchi crocks anymore... and if you did, you'd have to pay dearly for them and use them to decorate the house as they also do now with old clay chimneys.

Kimchi crocks are buried in the ground to prevent freezing in winter or stored in the cement vault as our family did. I think we were pretty advanced at the time with this method. In fact, I don't recall any others like our big cement box.
These are our crocks on top of the cement storage box my parents had built in our front yard. You can see in this older photo before the storage was built with crocks on the ground.

It appears in this photo that winter kimchi hasn't been made but soy sauce and denjang (Korean miso) are made and tightly stored. The empty crocks will be used for kimchi later in the fall to be stored underneath, inside the vault. I am guessing that the thickness of the wall kept things from freezing inside. There were many other foods stored in there but I don't know the details of exactly how this box was used. 

Typical Korean dinner menu:
Rice - sometimes with barley and/or azuki beans
Soup - huge varieties including tofu
Meat: small amount of fish/seafood, chicken, beef, pork of varied recipes
Seaweed - roasted, salad style, etc
Several fresh seasoned vegetables - spinach, bean sprouts, cucumbers and other more exotic ones that I don't know the English names of...
At least 2 different kinds of kimchi, cabbage, daikon (my favorite), etc.

I am trying to resurrect and revisit my childhood diet as I now realize how healthy it was although I eat very little meat now and not so spicy... It is the original macrobiotic diet.

October is the most brilliant season in Korea!

Photo by my father; Seoul, Korea. Fifties

On the road... to go Outside

to go Inside... to reflect.

"What's in store for me in the direction I don't take?"
Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Nature's sculpture garden... in our own backyard

Roots of an ancient Ponderosa pine, many hundreds of years old. 
Wizened yet more beautiful than ever...

Trout play hide and seek in the Vallecitos river Rock Garden.

Northernmost New Mexico 

Sunday... a day of rest and contemplation

with eyes closed, body relaxed... a Hawaiian monk seal in the morning sun Samadhi...
Or just taking a sweet, dreamless nap. No difference, really.

So adorable... and she hasn't missed any meals lately, what do you think? 

Found on her morning walk on Maui by
Paula McCutcheon

Autumnal Equinox...

The very last persimmon living courageously on the edge... briefly.
Reminds me of the full moon over the cottonwood branches just last week.

엄마 생각하면서...

Autumn in Japan
photo: T. Thayer

One yellow branch, few red berries... and Ipo

Last of wild raspberries, first of and only golden aspens this fall...
A Chihuahua in the wild? Oxymoronic? Maybe.
Rare? Yes.

On a long hike yesterday around Big Tesuque. I barely kept up with him, really...

Aloha 'Oe...

Farewell, summer!

Aloha 'Oe, Farewell to thee, is a song written by Queen Lili'uokalani
the tragic last monarch of Hawaiian Islands.
She wrote many songs but by far, this is the most beautiful of all,
a song that I love and often hum for no reason at all... but you might guess why.

You can listen to it here, performed by Amy Hanaiali'i

One sixteenth Hawaiian "Shaka" baby

Full moon above cottonwood branch...

 Chilly tonight.
아 빠, 한번더보구십어요.

Gazing at the Moon Night after Night

The autumn moon --
It, too,
Can become
A tie to
Floating world.

Otagaki Rengetsu

shot from my courtyard the night before

Me and my sister... a wise and generous spirit!

Here we are again, bit older and in school. The number 4 in my name tag says I am in fourth grade, age ten. She is seven. One of the best things about visiting my family recently was to spend some time with her... We chatted in her newly renovated kitchen (all by her super talented husband! so beautiful!) about her new life, having retired very early.

Such a generous spirit, driving me across LA to do this and that including a visit to a museum and lunch at a Korean Tofu restaurant. So delicious! All destinations seem to take minimum 40 minutes on the highway!! We speak in Korenglish.

Daily meditation for her is a two hour early morning walk in her leafy neighborhood near the mountains, and not a care about the noise of the world outside her quiet life. She is a born Yogi unlike me. I have to work hard at it.
She says that she simply doesn't care... about all that. No more stress! Her three sons are scattered all over, but luckily for me, one of them did fly in for a wedding.

Sadly, I don't have as many photos of two younger sisters. Who knows where they are among the piles of family stuff. Perhaps simply less photos them, you know how it is when you are the last two of five, and parents become busier...
I spent a day with one of them, shopping in Korea town and meeting her son and his new wife for lunch. Downtown LA high rise life seemed fresh and modern... for them.
And my baby sister, so busy running their clinic and taking care of her children still. In many ways she is the rock of our family, our little baby sister. I did scrounge for some photos of her as a toddler, soon to be posted. I miss them all more than ever!

Wonder why her face is always more animated and interesting than mine...
My dear friend who scanned the photos for me says; "your sister is hilarious"
Well..., I want to be hilarious too! You know, like those laughing Zen masters...must work on that.

Top to bottom; on a boat on the Han River, family picnic in an old palace ground, downtown Seoul, and at home hamming up for dad... just look at her face!
Late fifties

September 12, 2001

Shot from across the river the day after... still burning.

An Image by a journalist in a photography fundraiser in Soho soon after the event.
I visited New York shortly after 9.11 and the sight 
and smell of my beloved city still haunts me...

I lived in the City once in the early seventies then again in the late nineties...

See you very soon, Big Apple!

Twin Towers of pines...

Standing tall and strong despite the fact that 
they are irreversibly destroyed by a forceful lightening.

In the mountain on a cloudy day

Steady drizzle all night long...

Awakened by the sound of rain and hazy veil of fog. What a gift!
Ten thousand dew drops, ten thousand mirrored domes, reflecting all that is around, 
only to drop off at any moment...

Happy Birthday, Surya... It's just like you to pick a day so rare and beautiful.

Just outside my front door.

Orchid Obsession...

I am cured now but they were so lovely... such voluptuous lines!
Hundreds of them graced my home till one day, I let them all fly away
like butterflies but for a few.

Letting go yet not quite!

Pressed with obsessive love

Went for a walk in the woods...

and realized that after much lamentation about the end of summer, 
I was in the groove and ready for autumn and the clear Harvest Moon.
After all it's the most beautiful season in Northern New Mexico.

Deep grooves etched on tree bark 

Arroyo treasures...

Pinon, Chamisa, Kinnikinnick berries, long Juniper root, unidentified branch 
gathered from the Arroyo next to my house and Hasta leaf from my garden...

Ipo and I found fresh paw prints, the size of his head with long claws,
in the arroyo sand today! Pretty sure they belong to a mountain lion.
We scurried back home after that discovery.

Exciting Arroyo! 

Note: I am a complete novice Ikebana artist wannabe. I welcome your critique if you"know" the art. 
Would you say, lose the hasta leaf?

The sea...


Autumn chill in the mornings...

Driftwood Stars twinkle...

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the Stars...
Oscar Wilde

Driftwood found on North Shore, Maui by sweet Paula McCutcheon, my far flung Maui correspondent

from the Garden, Woods, and River...

 Wild baby fern fronds in the midst of preparation, inexplicable deliciousness, distinctly Korean.
The finished dish was beautiful but I was too busy eating to photograph.
 Cucumbers from the garden
 My sister, the expert fish cleaner
Perch, caught by my brother in the high mountains of Mammoth, CA. Many pans...

A family dinner
Such great array of  foods, hmmmmmm, how to begin... So sweet to have all five siblings sharing dinner with our mother including a couple of nephews in LA last weekend!

Not possible to show the entire dinner as it would explode my blog yet wanted to share my brother's contribution from his garden, woods, and the river that runs nearby his home. Young fern fronds were picked in early spring deep in the mountain, blanched and dried (I plan to collect in my own neck of the woods next spring now that I have identified the fern!!!), cucumbers from the garden, and best of all, perch! fished in the river near his house. I've never seen so many fish disappear so fast from dinner table.
And yes, at least three different varieties of Kimchi.
For the record, sisters and brother, I never got my seconds on perch!

Oh, yea, we had some rainbow trout, also caught by my brother for breakfast the next day, steam cooked the Korean way by my sister in law... yummy. She moves in a dizzying speed in the kitchen. I paid very close attention to her every move, trying remember how everything was made. My three sisters prepared some delectable dishes, even fresh salsa to put on the fish! They know their way around Korean kitchen, me, just so so. My excuse is that I left Korea at such young age! Do you buy that? Don't.

I vow to cook more Korean style (but not so spicy/salty), become more Korean, honor my heritage from here on... and not so much other cultures I have been embracing too much... why? 'cause it's the thing to do now?, why?... when my own heritage is so rich that I could mine it for the rest of my life? Gastronomically or otherwise; hesitate to say "spiritual" as the word is used so readily these days, but yes that too. I want to be more authentically true to my roots, true to where I came from, who I am.

Note to self: Reread Korean history, Korean mythology, Confucian philosophy
and remember deeply, mother, father and grandmother, other elders of our family and their wise Ways...