the haps

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Interesting (to me, anyway) and random events from the past few weeks:

Crazy Weather
We had a solar eclipse (about 70% here in Korea) yesterday, but it was so overcast that you could barely even tell. I really hope I'm not jinxing myself by saying this, but we've had unseasonably cool (read: livable) weather so far this month. Last year, July 5th was the beginning of almost two solid months of "air conditioning weather": hot, sticky, yuck.

Couch Surfing 101
After Matthew invited home a random Dutch backpacker he met at the bus stop several weeks ago, we decided that hosting couch-surfers actually works okay for our family. Since changing our status to allow guests, we've had a Swiss tourist and two expat English teachers from Seoul stay with us. Since Matthew's profile clearly states that we have two young children, we've had guests who like kids. We have another American coming this weekend, and could easily end up hosting all summer unless we decline.

When Halmonis (grandmothers) attack:

One Saturday afternoon, we got on a bus going downtown. Since Matthew was carrying the stroller, I was carrying Rowan and holding Liam's hand. There were no open seats and no one moved to give theirs up, so I instructed Liam to hold on to the handle corner of one seat, while I held one of the handle ring hanging from the ceiling. I heard the voice of an older woman, and caught a few familiar words including "baby" before one of the middle school boys right by us got up. I helped Liam sit down. The voice became a little more persistent and another boy surrendered his seat. I sat down and turned to the woman who had been speaking. I thanked her, which let her know that I understood at least some of what she was saying. That was all the encouragement she needed. She became louder, haranguing the boys for all to hear. The gist of her lecture was, "When a woman with children gets on the bus, you give up your seat now, now, NOW!" They didn't look at her, but kept their eyes downcast, which is the proper way to respond to a scolding. When she got off the bus, I gave her a little nod (head bow) and smiled. Sometimes halmonis totally rock.

And I learned...
...Fenugreek (a "galactagogue," which sounds like something off of Star Trek) is apparently illegal in South Korea. (That doesn't mean that foreigners don't bring it in, or that they aren't willing to share extra.) to say "It's not f***ing cold" really, really politely. Will I ever actually say that to an overly-pushy halmoni who insists my child is improperly dressed? Probably not, but knowledge is power, right? feels really good to squirt kids with a super-soaker when they call me waegook (foreigner). (It was a one-time thing. Liam was using some girl's super soaker and I had just finished helping him with something on it. These kids have seen me many times before, so it was just ridiculous. Maybe I should start carrying a squirt gun with me for that purpose.)
...gim is really good wrapped around rice and tuna salad (tuna + mayonnaise). It's my minimalist/ghetto version of chamchi (tuna) gimbap.


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