Nothing brings a country to life more than a daily report of its customs and idiosyncrasies as seen through the eyes of a live-in visitor. This you can find when you click on my granddaughter, Cally’s, blog, written as a daily Lesson from South Korea, where she is a first year-right-out-of-college teacher in a private primary school in Suwon, not far from Seoul. Not only are her teaching experiences eye-opening and often riotous, but her descriptions of the similarities and differences between young people in that country and her own are thought-provoking. She is an astute observer! Check it out.

You must not miss Lesson #52, where she describes the custom of eating squirming, sticky, slimy live baby octopi and actually refers you to a National Geographic film showing the whole process. Honestly, it almost made me sick and seemed so cruel, but then I was reminded of the times when I used to wolf down dozens of raw clams right out of the shell. But they didn’t have tentacles, and they didn’t squirm! Cally is thinking of trying it. I shudder.

Fall is winding down. I’ve had a couple of lazy walks through the leaf-covered paths of South Mountain Reservation here in Maplewood, where you’d better watch your step or you’ll land butt-first on the rocks under those colorful leaves. And I’ve enjoyed watching the woods become progressively transparent as the trees take on the barren look of winter. It’s a beautiful sight, quiet and peaceful in its austerity. Then there are the maple trees I see on my morning walk up and down the hills of Maplewood, still hanging on to their brilliant red leaves long after the yellow elm and purple dogwood have gone bare. Take a look at the maple tree I see from my bedroom window, in its various incarnations.

The view from my window

Autumn colors, 2007 008


Two weeks ago my niece, Margaret Magill, who is a violinist with the Met orchestra, treated me to the spectacular new production of Berlioz’s opera, The Damnation of Faust. Getting there in the rain, with a two-hour wait at the Lincoln Tunnel was almost as dramatic as the opera. Thank God my friend, Marion Syracuse, was driving. I think it will be my last car ride into Manhattan on a Friday night. I’ve become a real New Jersey Transit convert.

I also enjoyed a delightful evening last weekend with Yana Viniko, and her friend, David Sherrard, visiting the Big Apple from Seattle. We ate at one of my favorite restaurants, Saigon 48, just off 8th Avenue on 48th Street, then went to the boisterous new musical Memphis, starring the phenomenal Chad Kimball and Montego Glover. I highly recommend this powerful new show.

Watch for Rule #3 in my ten rules for preparing for a travel adventure…in my next blog.