Tag Archives: Tiger Pelt

Weekend Snapshots 51

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I was Hanging with the Harpies this weekend.

Friday

Harpy Sister #1 and I picked up Harpy Sister #2 at the train station and headed straight over to crash my book group, where we cackled long into the night.

Saturday

Harpy #2 signed copies of her book Tiger Pelt at the Charlottesville Book Fair. We are bursting with pride that Tiger Pelt is on the short list for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize!

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A couple of very special guests made a rare appearance to show their support…

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They are grinning so hard their faces might crack.IMG_5893

Meanwhile in Richmond, my Harpy-in-Training was tearing it up on the soccer field. The first team they played awarded her a special ball at the end of the game:

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How did you show great sportsmanship? I asked as I inspected her ball.

I was saving a ball and I collided really hard into the player who was trying to get it in, so I went over during half time to apologize and to make sure she was ok.

And what were your phenomenal saves?

Well, I tipped the ball over the crossbars once and everyone was cheering so I guess that was pretty good…Oh yeah, and I saved another ball with my face. All I can remember about that one was that it hurt.

I’m rather glad I didn’t witness that.

Sunday

We began the first part of our trip to New Jersey where we’ll be spending the week with our family. IMG_5096

We are heading out for the next leg of our journey in just a few minutes…

 

 

Past, Present, & Future Tense

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Past

A couple years ago when my dad was turning 80, my sister offered to take him anywhere in the world to celebrate the milestone. She thought he might want to visit a country he had never been to such as Italy or England. He said he wanted to go back to Korea. My sister and I accompanied my parents back to their native land for one last visit.

Our home base was Seoul, but early on in the trip we drove two and a half hours south to Yesan-gun in Chungcheong province to visit my father’s last living sibling. As we drove deeper and deeper into the countryside, I asked my dad to tell me about his hometown. Of the place where he spent his childhood he had this to say: There is absolutely no reason why you would have ever heard of it.

We drove past endless rice paddies and greenhouses until we finally pulled into a narrow alley. My father’s brother who inherited the family farm built a more modern house in the place where the old hanok used to be…IMG_3904

His widow (second from the left) came out to greet us. My dad’s older brother and his wife (in the middle) were also waiting for us at the house.

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I didn’t notice it at the time, but at some point during that visit, my aunt gave my mother a bunch of gingko nuts from the huge sack of them she had harvested from her own trees. I imagine they were from trees that were part of the landscape of my dad’s childhood. My parents brought a handful of them back to their home in Arlington, Virginia.

Fast forward a year…Last autumn I was telling my parents about the “Pratt Gingko” planted in 1860 near the Rotunda at the University of Virginia. When it’s in its full glory, it is a magical experience to stand under the leaves as they rustle in the wind and float down to the ground, which becomes draped in a shimmering coverlet of its golden leaves.

“Did you know your dad planted some gingko trees in the backyard?” my mother asked when I had finished rhapsodizing about the tree.  He had planted the seeds from that handful of gingkos they brought back from his family’s farm.

Present

My sister brought my parents down to Charlottesville this weekend for a visit. My sister and I were going to the Virginia Festival of the Book and thought for sure my dad, who loves books more than anyone else I know, would want to join us.

“I’m not going to go to the book festival,” he announced, “I brought the gingko trees to plant for you. Show me where you want me to put them.”

“How about in a row all along the back fence of the paddock?” I suggested, imagining the vision of golden radiance I would one day see from my kitchen window.

“Well, that would be ok,” he replied gently, “But…no one will be able to see them there.”

I had given the Wrong Answer: “Let’s put them wherever you think would be best, Dad!”

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I watched my dad struggling to break through the tough soil in the part of the (FRONT) yard where he chose to plant the trees. I hovered around uselessly, then went to join my mother on the front porch where we sat and watched.

When she saw that he was having trouble standing up, she nudged me and said, “Go! Help your dad! He can’t get up!”

I ran over to him and reached out my hand.

“Can I help you up, Dad?” I asked hesitantly, afraid to embarrass him.

He wouldn’t take my proffered hand and told me he just needed a moment to rest.

Reluctantly, I left to make it on time to the workshop my sister and I were attending at the Festival. I only had time to urge my daughter to get her grandfather a glass of ice water before I had to drive away.

Future

Later, my mother and I walked around the area where my dad had planted the seven baby gingko trees he had grown from seeds. My mama, the drama queen, always ready to devastate her audience with a toss of her head or a tragic line sighed and said, “As I watched him planting the trees, I realized these really are the last days of his life.” In the end, she told me that she and my son had to help him back to his feet and that my son took over digging the holes…

“One day, when the trees are grown,” she said as we inspected the tiny little saplings, “Your children will remember planting them with their grandpa.”

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Command performance for the grandparents…and one supremely unimpressed dog.

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Related posts: 

My Parents’ Journey

Visiting the Gravesite

Lumpy and Stupid

Lumpy and Stupid Visit the Country, Part 1

Lumpy and Stupid Visit the Country, Part 2

In Which Lumpy and Stupid Try Not to Disgrace the Family Name

Last Day in Seoul

Pssst! P.S.: My sister Annabelle Kim recently published her novel Tiger Pelt, a Kirkus Best Books of 2015, partly inspired by stories my dad told us about his childhood. You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Indiebound!

Weekend Snapshots 46

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Friday

The primula my mother-in-law brought from Scotland to England to America is blooming again. This humble little flower made its way to me from across the ocean wrapped in a napkin stashed in my mother-in-law’s handbag. It’s held a spot of honor in every garden of each of the three houses we’ve lived in here in Charlottesville. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve divided this sentimental favorite to share with friends…

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In the evening I picked up my daughter and three of her friends after their second ever quartet practice. I laughed during the entire car ride home as the young musicians discussed their plans to get rich busking on the Downtown Mall.

“Whose case should we use to collect money?”

“Definitely mine,” said the cellist, “It’s the biggest.”

“Yeah, mine is way too small,” agreed the flautist, “It would fill up with money way too fast and we’d have to keep emptying it all the time, which would be a pain.”

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Dream big, girls. Dream big!

Later that evening we had family movie night.

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Little Mr. Muffet sitting on his tuffet, watching The Lord of the Rings.

We’ve been watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy over the course of several weeks. Though Tolkien wrote his great epic in the 30s and 40s about hobbits, elves, dwarves and wizards, it’s uncanny how many parallels can be drawn between the trilogy’s war between the forces of good and evil and current events. Trump, Daesh, the refugee crisis, the environmental crisis…they’re all in there. I found this gorgeous edition for my daughter who has only read The Hobbit, and still has the pleasure of reading the trilogy ahead of her. The rest of us are lined up to re-read them when she’s done!

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Saturday

MarieBette Café & Bakery and their brioches feuilletées are one of the many reasons I love living in Charlottesville:

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Breakfast!

There are only about two and a half days in any given year when I want to be outside, and Saturday was one of them!

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My husband took the kids to play frisbee golf:

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…while I had fun getting my hands dirty in the garden! I transplanted a few things, planted some seeds…

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and finally finished the oyster shell path I began last year! It only took three more 50 lb bags of crushed oyster shells and the last dregs of my will to carry on. If you see me hobbling around clutching my back like an old woman, you’ll know why.

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Winter Jewels Hellebores are one of the very first plants I put in my new garden. These flowers are so great! They bloom crazy early and then continue on for months, untouched by deer, insects, late snows and other gardening catastrophes. They self seed and are easy to divide too. img_2969

In the evening we all met up again for dinner at Smoked, a bustling barbecue restaurant in the newly opened Piedmont Place in Crozet. There was a rather long wait for a table, so we spent a lovely hour at Over the Moon Bookstore.

I’ve been trapped in a loveless marriage with Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall for what seems like an eternity, but has really probably been less than a year. I thought I’d step out on Wolf Hall to have a meaningless fling with Carl Hiaasen’s Razor Girl, but I’m not enjoying that book nearly as much as I thought I would. So now I’m condemned to slog through TWO books before starting some of the books I bought at Over the Moon. I was discussing this with the bookseller and she told me she didn’t understand this at all:

“Life is too short. I give a book ten pages at the most, and if I’m not hooked, I just stop reading it.”

Do you feel obliged to finish a book once you’ve started? Even if you hate it?

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Sunday

Spotted on my way to book group brunch…

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Did I mention how much I love living in Charlottesville?img_2981

This month my book group read my sister’s novel Tiger Pelt! I artfully posed some copies on the table only to realize with bitter disappointment once I got home – you can’t see the books!!!img_2984-2

You may not be able to spot the books in the photo, but you can find your own copy of Annabelle Kim’s Tiger Pelt online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound. It’s a great pick for book clubs! No loveless marriages here…I promise it will move and inspire you. Readers of this blog may recognize some of the events in Tiger Pelt, because the boy’s story is inspired by my father’s life story. If you read it, I would love to hear what you think.

After I got back home, I began to redecorate for spring:

img_2987My daughter and I gave her guinea pigs’ pad a new look for spring too:

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I feel that it’s still missing a certain je ne sais quoi…A seagrass wallpaper to pull in a little more texture? Some ambient lighting perhaps? Some cushions for a pop of color? A chaise longue in the corner? Nothing but the finest for these round-the-clock industrial poop factories:

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On love, loss, and life.

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img_3733Thank you for bringing me here.

This line from my sister’s novel Tiger Pelt has been on my mind this past week. A year ago today, a dear friend died. This evening I will gather with Carla‘s friends and family. We’ll have dinner together and we will celebrate her life and the many ways she touched our own. At the end of the week, I will attend the memorial service for another friend who died almost a week ago today. Peter was one of the finest human beings I have ever met. I feel honored to have known him and to have called him a friend.

It’s been a rough year, if I’m being honest. I’ve been trying to prepare a celebratory post about Tiger Pelt, which is launching today, but I’ve been reeling with sadness and stumbling my way through the week. This past year, a beloved uncle and aunt also died, a close friend moved far away, and we worried about the health of our elderly parents. In a moment of overwhelming anguish I declared to my husband that I didn’t want to know any more people. Knowing people sets you up for sorrow.

Many years ago when I was in graduate school I ended a relationship with the person I thought I was going to marry. I was completely undone. My oldest sister rushed to my side to be with me in my misery. I wailed to her that I wished I had never met the person in the first place. I could have spared myself so much grief! I had invested so much of myself into the relationship, only to be left with a heart that was literally throbbing with pain. My sister told me that despite the hurt, I shouldn’t wish that time away. She said that every experience – good and bad – creates the layers and depths that make you more of a human being. One day, she told me, I would realize that the relationship had been a valuable one, and for all the pain I was feeling, my life would be fuller and richer because of it. I didn’t believe her at the time, but she was right of course.

In Tiger Pelt, the two main characters experience loss after terrible loss. Toward the end of the novel, Young Nam clasps the hand of Hana, whose life has intersected with his own in painful, and even destructive ways and says, “Thank you for bringing me here.” In this line he acknowledges the truth of what my sister once told me long ago. I think this is what I love most about this novel. The protagonists endure unimaginable suffering, but they choose hope, love, and gratitude over despair. You may cry when you read Tiger Pelt, but you may also laugh and be inspired by the strength of the human spirit. Hopefully, the stories of Young Nam and Hana will settle into your hearts forever.

And so I end with this. To Carla and to Peter, who both inspired me with their character, integrity, and spirit: Thank you for bringing me here. You are now a part of my heart and my story. I am better for having known you and I am so grateful.

 

Weekend Snapshots 40

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Friday

UVA Men’s Soccer Game

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Saturday

Things are already getting busy with the start of the school year. We snuck in one last trip to Arlington while we still had the chance.

We made our now obligatory stop at Yoder’s for road snacks and to see the goats…

This time there were the cutest piglets!!!

You did know that Saturday was National Pot de Crème day, right?!

OK, neither did we. We found out when we arrived in Arlington and my sister served this delicious dessert in pots de crème so exquisite and delicate we were nervous the whole time we were eating them!

After lunch we took a steamy hot trek through Washington DC to the National Geographic Museum, where we saw “The Greeks” exhibit.

I had a late night visit with my bff…We don’t get to see each other as often as I would like, but every time we do, I feel so lucky to have her in my life.

Sunday

Before I headed back to C’ville, I spent some time with my sister messing around with my dad’s bookshelves in our attempt to take some photos of our sister’s soon-to-be-released novel Tiger Pelt. There are only THREE more days to enter for your chance to read it before everyone else in the Goodreads giveaway here!

 

Tiger Pelt

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I give it 5 stars! Two paws up!

Remember that amazing novel I was telling you about not too long ago? This is just a quick post to invite you to enter the Goodreads Giveaway for an advance reader copy of my sister’s award-winning novel Tiger Pelt.

Gripping, suspenseful, and unflinching, Tiger Pelt is a story of rebirth from the rubble of a savage time and a ravaged place: Korea during the Japanese occupation followed by the Korean War. A farm boy embarks on a quest that propels him on an odyssey spanning the Korean peninsula and crossing the Pacific. In a parallel life, a beautiful young girl is kidnapped and forced to work as a comfort woman for the Japanese military. During a raging monsoon, the two souls will collide in a near-death encounter that will alter the course of their lives. Tiger Pelt was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015.

Tiger Pelt will be available for purchase by the end of the year, but ten lucky winners will get a chance to read it before anyone else does! The giveaway ends in just a couple weeks, so enter now! Here’s the link:

Goodreads Giveaway

 

Good luck!

My Big Sis

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One day my oldest sister and I were discussing our middle sister, Annabelle.

“Annabelle never does things the normal way,” she said.

“When we moved from Texas to Korea and had to go to school and didn’t speak a word of Korean, I threw temper tantrums every day, because I was so miserable and mad at Mom and Dad for dragging us there. Annabelle was immediately voted class president.”

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Annabelle is on the right, wearing her special class president’s badge.

“Instead of just going to any old college, she went to MIT, and made straight As, and then while she was at it, she threw in a masters degree to boot!”

“Instead of just becoming an engineer, she designed a revolutionary, industry-changing water filtration method.”

“Instead of just having one baby, she had THREE at a time!”

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On that note, my very traditional Korean dad once told me, “Well, Adrienne, I used to think you were the lucky one, because you have two boys…but now Annabelle has you beat.” Not only does my sister have a beautiful, brilliant, and accomplished daughter, she has triplet boys. For Koreans, that’s like winning the Mega Millions lottery three times.

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Somehow during those sleepless years when she was designing water plants and raising her family, my amazing big sis also wrote a novel.

As you would expect, it’s not just any ordinary book. Tiger Pelt received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews and has been named as one of the Best Books of 2015. Alexander Theroux writes:

A passionate, absorbing novel, Annabelle Kim’s Tiger Pelt with its South Korean backdrop is a seismic tremor of a book. Kim who is a writer with bold insights fixes on two interwoven lives with humane irony, antic imagination, and an unsettling perceptiveness that includes much fascinating lore about that country and her wounded but ultimately triumphant fictional creations. It is a stark, often unsparing book.

One seasoned editor has called it “Pulitzer-worthy.” I’ve read the book from cover to cover at least three times now. Every single time it makes me laugh and weep. The story knocks the wind out of you; the book’s moments of poetry leave you breathless. I promise you that Tiger Pelt is not just any old book. My big sis wrote it after all!

Tiger Pelt is coming out this Monday and is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.