Category Archives: nature

The blue jays that visit me every summer

Blue jays hold a special place in my heart.  Such colorful birds aren’t so common in S. Korea, so the first time i saw them in Virginia, i was captivated by their beauty.  They’re what got me into bird watching.

Every summer, a pair of blue jays visits the mini-forest next to my house.  The first summer they visited (or maybe the first summer i noticed them) was when i was in elementary or middle school.  I saw a flash of blue outside, and knowing what that meant, i stepped out onto my porch.  The two beautiful birds flew around me in a circle before disappearing into a forest further away.  It was a magical moment.

I recognize their calls when their visiting season returns, and whenever i hear them, i always, always look outside.  Sometimes they like to play hide-and-seek with each other in the pine tree right outside my window:

The other one was hiding beyond my frame.  I promise to update with a better photo if i can manage one before they leave for another year.  I don’t know where they go for the rest of the year, but i know they’ll always come back for the summer.

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Filed under childhood, nature

Meet Bob and Dorney

My best friend Ju gave me two African Dwarf Frogs for my birthday.

I have to admit, i suffered a temporary crisis of conscience after whiling away my first hour with them in silent awe, because i hadn’t yet figured out for myself whether keeping pets is ethical.  This same moral dilemma is what moved me to let my parakeets go sometime in middle school or junior high, in the full knowledge that they would die in the “wild,” and probably within the hour.  I wanted them to be free, and i felt i had no right to own them.

So do i have a right to own these frogs?  I don’t know.  Should they be confined to my tank?  I don’t know about that either, but according to breeders, they’d be much better off in my tank than in a local river.  These frogs were raised to be kept as pets, so i’d essentially be committing murder if i released them.

I understand all that, but i’m still not comfortable owning them.  I don’t even know if they’re happy with me or comfortable in their tank.  And i’m not okay with pet breeding, period.  I don’t think humans have a right to breed animals for their own pleasure.

So i had these frogs in my hands, and i didn’t know what to do with them.  I liked them.  They’re adorably quirky.  For a while, i cursed Ju for having given them to me in the first place.  But she had given me a thoughtful (and unique!) present, and i didn’t have the heart to return them.  And, i liked them.

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Filed under announcements, ethics, nature

The last three months have been uneventful and uninspiring

I have nothing to say.  Sad, but true.  So, instead of words, here are some sweet images of works by artists i’ve been admiring lately:

Elspeth Diedrix


Blue Bottle

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On eating meat

When i was leaving Pace Wildenstein on 57th yesterday, i saw a handful of women picketing on the corner of 57th and Park Ave in front of the Korean Consulate General.  They were trying to get people to sign up for a petition to stop dog and cat meat consumption in Korea.  A little research has shown me that demonstrators from the IDA (In Defense of Animals) congregate in front of Korean consulates and embassies across the country every year on the first of the Korean bok days (literally the “hot, dog days of summer”).  Apparently, some Koreans consume more boshintang (dog stew) this time of year to help their bodies fight the summer heat.

I walked closer to the demonstrators to read what their posters said, but i was in a rush to find a bathroom, so all i caught were some images of dogs.  Curiously, though, the lady whose poster i tried to read didn’t approach me or try to get me to sign the petition even though she had been pestering all other passersby.  To tell you the truth, she avoided eye contact with me.  On the way back from the bathroom, i saw a different protestor harassing two Korean (and non-English speaking, it seemed) tourists.  These women didn’t have the guts to confront me (because they would’ve confronted, not asked) about the issue so instead harassed Korean tourists who couldn’t even argue back.  How mature.

I have a couple issues with this protest:

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Filed under culture, ethics, nature, new york

questions on the loo, issue #6: Which of your senses would you lose if you had to lose one?

This is a common question that i’ve seen pop up in many places, but i never thought deeply about it until my best friend asked me it the other day.  At first, i confidently said, “Smell.”  I couldn’t give up sight; i’m a visual artist.  I couldn’t give up hearing either because i think it’s even more powerful than sight.  Touch was out of the question because i’m too sensuous, and as for taste, well, everyone knows i’m a foodie.  Smell and taste work together, of course, but between those two, i thought smell would be the least useful.  But then i remembered all those days of snuggling with loved ones and breathing in their unique smell emanating from their bosom; those days of hallucinating their smell when i missed them and smiling inwardly knowing that my nostrils had somehow “memorized” their smell; those days of stumbling upon articles of clothing they’d left behind, the pillows they’d slept on, and being hypnotically reminded of the tender memories.  I think i could live without smelling all those other scents i love like that of the rain, the ocean, the fresh-tilled soil, but i don’t think i could give up the scent of the human being.

So which would i lose?  I’d lose hearing.  I honestly think i appreciate dead silence more than the most sublime music, the pristine sounds of nature, maybe even the human voice.  Sound is more often an irritant to me than a pleasure.  There are surely things i’d miss hearing, especially water and wind and certain voices, but when i imagine myself first without smell and then without hearing, i see myself much unhappier in the former case.

Now it’s your turn:  which would you lose?  And a bonus question:  if you could choose one last thing to sense before losing your chosen sense, what would it be?  I chose hearing, so i’d choose to hear my love’s voice, whoever that may be at that moment.

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Filed under communication, nature, perception, questions on the loo, the body

The things that stay for you

I was feeling down tonight, still suffering from this and grey weather, so on the way back from a 10pm Trader Joe’s run, i had a cigarette in front of my building, holding a bag of strawberries that i hoped would cheer me up.

I didn’t expect the scenery above:  the sky was a dark indigo with a tinge of green, and the grey clouds wrapped the nearly full moon—a perfectly white moon, just the way i like it.  As the smoke from my mouth tangled with the air, fading into the clouds, the street lamps soaked the white-bloomed tree in amber, and i was happy for a moment.  

Maybe a full moon will be waiting for me tomorrow night.

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Filed under depression, nature, new york, personal, sketches

Maybe i’ve outgrown New York



There’s something about New York.  It’s amazing and depressing at the same time, and i’m starting to feel more of the depressing part these days.  Despite having grown up in urban and suburban areas, i feel like the city is becoming too much for me.  All i can think about these days is retreating to nature.  I used to love taking aimless walks here, so i went out this weekend to take advantage of the warmer weather, but i didn’t enjoy the walks this time.  It was an opportunity to think to myself, but the roads, the cars, the crowds just got to be a bit much.  

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Filed under depression, love, nature, new york, personal, sketches

Morocco: The Lively Land


  • Fes – 1) bus tour of the town.  2) walking tour of the Fes el Bali medina.  3) cooking demonstration at a riad
  • Volubilis (ancient Roman ruins)
  • Rabat – quick drive-through and lunch
  • Meknès – Les celliers de Meknès, a winery
  • Kenitra – bus tour with lecture by Ibn Tofaïl University professor
  • Casablanca – quick drive-through and pit stop at the Hassan II Mosque
  • Marrakech – the Djemaa el Fna market square

Lively is the first word that comes to mind when i think about Morocco.  It is called the land of contrasts, with its tall mountains and flatland, volcanic rock and sand, cedar and eucalyptus, cars and donkeys, jilbāb and western clothing, sunshine and fog.  Orange and olive trees lined every street, with some beautiful jacaranda and eucalyptus trees dotting the village.  There were cats everywhere, some wandering through medina alleyways, others napping in the afternoon sun.  Stray dogs trotted around the village in small packs, rummaging for food.  Donkeys grazed on the hills under the sweltering sun.  Arabs, Berbers, mixed Arab-Berbers, Jews, and some French went about the town, speaking Arabic and French, carrying plastic bags in their hands and baskets on their heads, and riding bikes, donkeys, cars, and motorcycles.  Everywhere you look, whether it’s an isolated alley or a busy street, there is life, and it is colorful.

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Filed under culture, food, nature, sketches

New Jersey is beautiful

Despite being nicknamed the Dirty Jersey, New Jersey is actually beautiful.  Beautiful in its own grey, industrial, run-down, suburb-with-history way, that is.  I only realized this when i commuted to New York by NJ transit for the first time.  On my way from Edison Station to NY Penn Station, i passed vast parking lots, cars in neatly packed rows, old signs and new billboards, fields of dried up weeds, old factories with broken windows, and wetlands bordered with cattails and reed and polluted by human intervention, all with a consistent layer of cement appearing at regular intervals.  In short, it was a lot of dead nature interspersed with metal and concrete.  But somehow, it was beautiful.  Somehow, the suburban loneliness, the decrepit landscape, and the polluted sky seemed beautiful when i saw those broken windows and brown weeds stare back at me, so frail and neglected, yet unfazed and still standing strong.  

Perhaps Joshua Lutz saw the same.


Filed under art, culture, nature, perception

It’s gettin’ chilly out there…

Cold wind penetrates
Pigeons puff out their feathers,
Staring; we are numb.

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Filed under nature, new york