Fall Memories

It’s been a gorgeous fall…



It’s been a busy Fall…

I made a quick visit to Arlington to see my parents and brother…

My friend and I took a weekend trip to New York to see our kids…IMG_9191

I’m always amazed at how much Morningside Heights has changed since I was a graduate student. It’s a little disconcerting, (but awesome)! that there’s a farmer’s market right on Broadway.


The Guggenheim has always been my favorite New York museum. The scale of it is just right for an afternoon visit…But first we had to wait in a line that literally went around the block for Pay What You Wish admission.

We caught a two-day art installation projected onto the side of Rockefeller Center by neo-conceptual artist Jenny Holzer.IMG_9234

Kehinde Wiley’s “Rumors of War” statue has just moved to its permanent home in Richmond, Virginia at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, but we got a sneak peak while it was still in the middle of Times Square:


Back home…OKAX4117

I tried (and tried and tried) to convince my husband that the perfect I-survived-cancer, 50th birthday gift would be a puppy…IMG_9263


Will he cave?


“Heart of stone”

For now I’ll have to settle for visiting my friend’s adorable new pup.

I took the kids to see Adam Silver talk about The Business of Sports…

My book group buddies and I went to Pennsylvania for the weekend. We sat by a campfire, made terrariums, and befriended the local fauna.

A weekend visit from a dear friend and a trip to Carter Mountain apple orchard inspired two more trips to pick the most delicious Fuji apples!IMG_9351

We went through shocking quantities of Fujis this Fall..

IMG_9501IMG_9500IMG_9497IMG_9533Working on college applications and the dreaded FAFSA…


We’re always running a little behind…hence my daughter’s Halloween party in November:

A too-short but sweet visit from my California girls:


Signing off for now. Hope to be back in this space a little more regularly.

Weekend Snapshots 55


I awoke to the sound of our son (aka Jiminy Cricket) opening our bedroom door. An early riser, he was the first to realize that powerful winds had left us powerless. He was making the rounds of all the bedrooms, leaving flashlights for everyone on their bedside tables.

Schools were closed for the day for the kids, but my husband and I had to get to work. It was a harrowing trip that involved rerouting several times because of road blocks, driving through a roadblock, and twice driving under a tree resting on power lines. Meanwhile, the kids spent the day shivering in a house that was cold, dark, and without water. My daughter’s was delighted to get out of the house that evening to go to her quartet practice…


We went out to dinner and then killed some more time at a bookstore, all the while compulsively checking the Dominion Power website on our phones to see if power had been restored to our neighborhood. When it became clear that we would spend another night without power, we stopped off at two different grocery stores to find enough water to drink and to flush toilets.

My daughter and I camped out in the living room next to a cozy fire…



…but woke up shivering in a house that still had no power.

It’s amazing how quickly we lose the will to be civilized when there is no electricity. Dirty dishes piled up in the sink. Clothing was discarded on the floor. Tissues were used then left on the coffee table rather than thrown into the trash. Worst of all, we became like rats in a cage, snapping and snarling at each other for no good reason.

We tried to restore our humanity at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, where we caught the end of the remarkable Terracotta Warriors exhibit…



Back in Charlottesville, we dropped one son off at a friend’s dad’s office to work on a project and my daughter off at church, where her Sunday School class was serving dinner to the homeless guests who are there for PACEM. After taking the opportunity to fill jugs with water to take back home, my son and I decided to have dinner at the newly-opened J Petal: a Japanese crepe and Thai ice cream restaurant.


We picked my daughter up and as we drove back to the house, I began to whine about the prospect of having to spend another cold night without power. I felt immediately chastened when from the back seat my girl piped up: “Think about the people in Puerto Rico…Some of them haven’t had power for 6 months. And then, of course, I thought about the homeless people who have to worry about keeping warm and having enough food and water to eat on a daily basis. We came back home to lights, heat, water, and a renewed appreciation for the simple things we take for granted. It was hard to fully enjoy it, though, knowing that friends around town were still without power and thinking about those for whom this situation is not just a temporary inconvenience.



Art for the People!

Here’s a suggestion! Instead of buying expensive art, how about just mounting pieces of paper on your wall with painter’s tape instead?

Just kidding…though this is actually what my bedroom wall has looked like for the past couple of weeks.

When I was in Seoul last year, I bought some prints at the National Folk Museum of Korea and stuck them on my office wall with adhesive mounting tabs. They are a type of minhwa (folk painting) I’ve long admired, called chaekkori or munbangdo, i.e.: still life paintings of books and other scholarly paraphernalia. I have some reproduction scrolls featuring this genre of art:

including this one:

…which is still hanging on my office wall:

This style of painting became popular in the late 18th century during King Jeongjo’s reign in the Joseon dynasty. In these paintings the scholar’s “four friends”: paper, ink, a brush, and an inkstand are always depicted. Additional symbolic items may also be included, such as a pomegranate to represent fertility, eggplants to symbolize male children, or gourds to symbolize long life, wealth, and happiness. In King Jeongjo’s palace, chaekkori paintings were mounted on screens and used as a backdrop behind every scholar’s desk. What began as a royal conceit to reflect a reverence for scholarship, became the height of fashion. Korean parents would sometimes hang these paintings in their children’s rooms to inspire them to study, which, when I think about it, strikes me as possibly THE most Korean thing ever.

Lately we’ve been making some changes to our master bedroom, and I decided the prints would look perfect over our new bed. Michael’s had ready made frames on sale for almost half off at $22.49 each. The prints are not all the same size, but that problem was solved when the framing department custom cut mats for me for about $25 each. They would have charged about $60 more per print just to insert them into the frames, but who needs that?! So, to frame all three prints, it cost less than $150.

This is as far as I’ve gotten:

I removed the paper inserts from the frames, attached them to the backs, and marked where the hooks are:

…Which brings us back to this:

One of these days, maybe tomorrow (?!), I’ll actually get around to putting in the nails and hanging the pics. Stay tuned for the finished look!

Until then, because I am a Korean mother after all, I thought I’d create my own modern day chaekkori tableau to inspire my children to greater heights of academic achievement:

So uplifting, right? (Those poor, poor children).


Mid-week Snaps

Pre-season training camp for soccer has started…After three hours of practice between the two of them, the kids go straight from the car to the backyard to practice some more.

IMG_0740IMG_0741Beta Bridge today…IMG_0743A brand new mural on the Corner, inspired by Rita Dove’s poem “Testimonial”:IMG_0745IMG_0747

We wandered around town for three hours this evening waiting for one kid or the other to be finished with soccer…In one of the two grocery stores we visited to kill time, we were in the checkout line when I heard my daughter ask, “Can we get this?” Without even looking, I reflexively said, “No” as I always do. But when I turned around and spotted what she had in her hand, I said: “I mean, YES!” They could have tasted like dirt, and we still would have had to buy these:IMG_0758And even though the only banana-flavored things I usually like are actual bananas, these tictacs are weirdly delicious!IMG_0760IMG_0755

Art Bee

My sister said to me this weekend, “You’re always getting a bee in your bonnet.”

She’s absolutely right, of course.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the bee du jour, my abeille of the day was a family art project.

Almost everybody donned an old, beloved sweatshirt of mine to protect their clothes from paint splatter. That sweatshirt has been one of my prized possessions since middle school!

The adults painted too:

Last, but not least, my dad and mom added the finishing touches to our family masterpiece:

I’m all abuzz! I think it’s beautiful!

Weekend Snapshots 13

I spent the weekend in Richmond, Virginia with my best friend…


We met up on Friday and did the Canal Walk:

There are murals all over Richmond. These were right by the water:

We walked along the cobblestone streets in Shockoe Slip and had dinner at The Urban Farmhouse Market and Café



We stopped off at Sub Rosa Bakery in Church Hill for a little snack.


We met up with a friend at The Jefferson Hotel:

There used to be real alligators in the marble pool around the statue of Mr. Jefferson.

We had high tea:

We went to Carytown next:

I love this bookstore…

and this idea:


We spent our last day in Richmond at the fabulous Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The building and grounds are as wonderful as the art inside…



We continued our Grand Tour in Buffalo. Yes, Buffalo.

First stop? Why, the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park, of course!

The next day we went to Niagara Falls:

We rode the Maid of the Mist:

And pretended to be a family of serial killers:

My daughter was especially perky before the boat started heading towards the falls.

The serial killer get-ups can only do so much as you go through this:

Here’s that perky girl post-deluge:

There were rainbows everywhere:

We continued with the serial killer theme in the Cave of the Winds:

You have to admit, that’s one very stylish family right there.

The last place we visited was the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. This impressive building houses an eclectic collection of modern and contemporary art:

At the end of the week, we compared notes and discussed what our favorite part of the vacation was. For everyone, except me, it was seeing Niagara Falls.

“My favorite part was when we were driving in the car, taking turns picking songs, and singing them at the top of our lungs,” I said.

My husband looked at me as if I was crazy, and it’s very possible that I am. But for me, it wasn’t so much about the destination as the journey itself and the people I shared it with.

The National Gallery

On Monday I walked around The National Gallery with my son.

We checked out two of the special exhibits going on there right now:

We lingered in the galleries featuring the works of Dutch masters…

In these galleries I discovered that I am far less sophisticated than my eleven year old…

“Look at the amazing way the artist painted the light and shadows on the columns!” he exclaimed in wonder.

I might have noticed that myself if I hadn’t been so preoccupied with this:

On our way out, we witnessed something really cool. This is someone painstakingly hand carving the names of benefactors into a marble slab: