Monday, October 31, 2011

October Field Trip: Dream Forest

For the October field trip the kiddos were taken to the Dream Forest. This was a good idea as it was close to the school, but a sort of bad idea because we walked a lot.

I didn't know the Dream Forest had a little zoo and so was a bit surprised. Mostly the animals were deer, though.

We headed to the art museum where they took in a show of Robot art, some of which I have seen on display at a different park.

Was there a guide to stop the kids and explain the exhibit or engage them in the theme? No, there wasn't. Instead the Korean homeroom teachers took them along and occasionally made remarks.

After the art exhibit the children were led outside to a large circular area.

Here the homeroom teachers engaged the children in some kind of outdoor games. The group I was with played some kind of run-in-a-circle

After which everyone ate lunch and then got free time to play on the playground.

The last field trip of the year is coming up in November, and I wonder where we will go.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Still Waiting

Turns out they won't talk about contract renewals till "sometime" in November. I am hoping that means next week. I had an interview at this school around the third week of November last year, so I am thinking they get things ready by the beginning of the month.

Anyways, I have a strong feeling they will let me renew but of course am still nervous.

In other news, Tom is doing well and has grown a thick winter coat for the cold days ahead. Of course, I will keep him warm inside my house.

My ex dropped off Tom's carrier basket (he borrowed it a few weeks ago) and it was a little hard to see him again. I still feel confused about what happened to us, but nowadays feel it really was for the best.

Today's weather is rainy this morning, which makes me want to put off getting my groceries till tomorrow. I've got a lot of work I want to get done so I can get ahead. Already we are heading towards the end of this semester and report cards and other paperwork are starting to come in. I can't believe 2011 is already on its decline. I guess it's time to start thinking about 2012 and what is to come.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Drama Festival Wrap Up

It went well and all the kids from every group performed to their best. I didn't hear any homeroom teachers complain about it, which is great. Just one snafu, last week one of my boys got scratched by another without my notice. So mom is upset, which makes the homeroom teacher have to deal with this. That leads to said homeroom teacher coming to me and telling me that I should keep my eyes on everyone all the time. Thanks!

So it is the end of October and I believe I should be hearing about my renewal. With this latest snafu I am hoping my ,"Yes, of course I can" attitude keeps everyone happy. But rumors have it that lots of teachers are planning, for various reasons, to move on from this school. So I think they would like to try and keep as many as they can.  I haven't heard anything yet, as the drama festival is still going on for other grades.

Just hope my nervousness, from that meeting with the homeroom teacher today, isn't a sign of bad news to come. hmm

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Living in a rectangular prism can get you down sometimes. There is only so much room for you, your cat and your stuff. That is why last night I stayed up thinking about how I could rearrange my furniture. My goal was to make it so that I could access my art supplies easily, and so wouldn't feel the dread of having to set it up every time.

First I thought I needed to buy another table to devote to my art. But then I realized I use my computer often for photo reference and so could just continue to use the desk I have.

Anyways, the following is how things turned out.
I'm hoping the TV doesn't end up on the floor in pieces. It actually survived when Tom went behind it, so maybe this can work!

Let's hope my aspirations of connecting with my art works out. But for now I am enjoying the breath of fresh space in my little home here. I think it helps that I also boxed up things I don't really use and also made a pile of "donation" stuff.

Now if only I could rearrange the stuff in my personal life as easy as it was today!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Yongmunsa: Pt. 2 Gigantic Gingko Tree

Behold! A very gigantic gingko tree, which the Yongmunsa temple is famous for and said to be around 1,000 years old reaching about 130 feet tall.
In other words, humongous! And well also a bit smelly. The tree wasn't shy in dropping it's gingko nuts, which let off their pungent smell.

Before you walk into the temple grounds you go past this behemoth, where some people stopped to take pictures and others pay their respects.

The temple grounds were a buzz with people enjoying the nice scenery this time of year. Built in the time of the Silla dynasty, but later damaged by the Korean war, what we see today are restored buildings. There are three main buildings people can take a look at, and there were other ones too. However, I think these were the monk quarters.

I especially enjoyed the bells situated at the corners of the structure. Above the usually "fish shape" dangling.

At the back of the main hall was a hill and on top of this were shrine rooms. Here things felt more peaceful and less frantic like it was below. Plus the view was really great. As I made my way up to this area I passed a ledge where small "baby" Buddhas sat amongst coin and candy offerings. It was very amusing.

That view I was talking about...

I took in the beauty and the whole spiritual aspect of the place, before heading back down. On my way back I passed a site where some people were working on making a new structure. No nails and hammers here folks, they were pounding the beams in by brute strength.
More people had made it up to the temple and some were trying out the purification water.

Nearby some flowers were in bloom...

The path back took a left turn over a rickety bridge, where children enjoyed shaking it. But then on the other side you got to walk back on a trail, where there weren't as many people.

At the bottom I enjoyed taking photos of the leaves again, as the sun was setting behind the mountains.

Fall certainly makes a splash of color before everything turns brown and gray. I hope to keep this image with me as the air turns chilly and the snow starts to come down. Will miss you green, red and yellow leaves.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Yongmunsa: Pt. 1 The Way Up

For three years now I have heard how you have to get out into the countryside and up in the mountains to see the best Fall foliage. Year after year passed and I never fully experienced this seasonal phenomena as it should be taken in.

Finally, this weekend I picked myself up and got on the Jungang train heading to the last stop, Yongmunsan station.

Although my body was tired from a stressful week preparing for the drama festival, I knew I needed to get out there and see the colors.

I arrived 30 minutes before the bus to the temple departs, and so took in the small town of Yongmu. It was a quiet little place with all the usual stores and entertainment spots. The quietness and lack of street signals reminded me of Jeju.

The bus ride up to the temple was filled with a scenic view of rice farms, traditional houses and of course colorful trees.
Below the temple is an area with a vast market and restaurants. Here there were lots of people getting their fill of yellow gingko leaves and fresh treats.

Getting off the bus the wind was a tidbit chilly, but things started to warm up. I made my way  up towards the temple, but first mingled around an area near a museum.

Already I knew I was fulfilling a Korean right of passage, I guess. As I made my way pass an old amusement park that was out of order, I admired the reds and yellows.

The picture above certainly is one of my favorites from this trip. If you have never experienced Fall colors than you might not know the feeling. But to me when I am under a tree full of bursting color it sometimes feels like nature is glowing. It helps, of course, if the sun is coursing through the tree.

The above is a picture of the gate where one enters to see the temple, which is situated in a small "V" of a valley. This path was, of course, full of people but it still managed to feel peaceful and helped me get that "back-to-nature" feeling.

Stone stupas, hand made, along the path.

 The following structure, in the next photo, was a bathroom and trinket shop.

Temple and more red and yellow explosiveness to come...
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