creativity, Music

“Looking Out My Back Door”

April 2, 2018

It’s been a year now since I moved into this house I’m currently living in.

It’s a good space with lots of light and it feels like home to me, even though I have lived in a lot of different places in my lifetime, and it’s a long way from where I grew up in a small town called Arnold, Missouri.

I think home is where the heart is.

My favorite space in the house is just off the kitchen (convenient to satisfy my oral needs).

I think of it as my creation station.

It’s a place where I can read, write, study, plan, create, and let my mind wander and wonder about things that interest me. I have a skylight over my desk and a clear view to the back yard.

I noticed that every time I look out my back door, I think of an old song by Creedence Clearwater Revival called, “Looking Out My Back Door”.

As I was writing this there was a sudden flurry of unannounced activity out my back door…..

Snow surprise!

I regard “looking out my back door” as a kind of metaphor for “glancing back at my past”, and it’s an invitation to do so. It gets me every time.

I think of my early childhood and all the time I spent playing on back porches and in back yards, with other kids (siblings, relatives, and neighborhood kids), while unconsciously listening to the adults on the porch sit and rock away the hours talking, laughing and telling jokes.

My Early Childhood

It was an uncomplicated time. We were all “riding high on low expectations”. I’m not being critical here. It was a time when life just seemed simple and good. Enjoying the present was enough.

We played tag and freeze tag, hide-and-seek, and red rover. We caught “lightening bugs” (that’s what we called fireflies in Missouri) in a jar, to watch them glow, and then released them.

We always took turns hand-cranking the old-fashioned ice cream maker until the homemade ice cream was ready to eat. It would get quiet for a few seconds as we all took that first bite and then the noise and chatter started up again and it was clear that we were going to have to make another batch.

I was starting to learn to play the guitar around that time. So I would go out on the porch and play the one song I knew, until my fingers got creases in them from pressing down the strings. Then I’d get frustrated because my fingers hurt and I’d put the guitar down and go do something else.

When we weren’t playing in the back yard, we roamed all over the neighborhood, cutting through neighbor’s yards, on our bikes with our dogs running beside us. We frequently went down to the creek which was a hill and a valley away from the house. Crickets and frogs were always singing everywhere we went.

We never locked any doors. We trusted each other. All the parents watched over all the kids. I have a lot of good memories from that era in my life. The back porch was a social venue where family and friends united.

 

When I look out my back door I also think of the 12 years I spent in Korea.

This is the house I lived in while I was in Korea.

It’s got a nice porch, doesn’t it?

I’m kidding!!!!!

I think I remember it to be the Secret Garden within Chang Duk Palace in Seoul. But don’t quote me on that!

(They say when you get older, there are three things that go wrong with you. The first one is your hearing. The second one is your eyesight. And the third one is your……uh…..your…..hmm?)

 

My thoughts segue to Korea because the houses I lived in, in Korea, all had back porches. I would sit cross-legged on the porch and practice the Korean and American songs I was into at the time.

But I also loved to sit on the back porch, in the summer, during the rainy season, and listen to the rhythm of the falling rain, while slowly savoring the flavor of “pin ddaet ddok“, a savory kind of Korean pancake, with Kimchi, and washing it down with barley tea and then a little soju (a popular rice wine in Korea) to top it off.

I’d get a little drowsy from the wine, lean over on the porch floor with a pillow and blanket and fall asleep to go “meet up with Confucius”.

I love rainy days.

 

Fond Memories of Korea

I worked in the Air Force, at the time, in the translation branch of the Combined Forces Command HQ (pictured below) in Seoul, Korea. I was 36 at that time. This picture of me was taken behind the headquarters on one beautiful, snowy day.

Sometimes one of the ROK (Republic of Korea) soldier/translators with whom I worked, would fall asleep at their desk. Usually it was because they had to stand guard in the barracks for several hours during the night as part of their military training. So they were tired the next day.

So, in jest, I’d point to the guy sleeping and say, “Look at that guy! He translated himself right into a nap.”

That’s when one of the other guys would say, “He’s gone to meet Confucius!”, and then go on to explain what an influence Confucius had on their culture. So it wasn’t uncommon to refer to him often.

(That’s where I learned that.)

Guess you had to be there.  🙂

I worked with several other Korean translators during this time. They were all amazing. But I came to know these five better than the rest. They were all intelligent, funny, diplomatic, considerate, industrious, open-minded and very proud of their country and cultural heritage.

It was my privilege and honor to work with all of them for about five years.

And when those five finished their mandatory two-year stint in the Army, they all passed the Civil Service test for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and became MOFA employees.

I learned a lot from these guys about the Korean language, culture, music, food and way of life. We translated in the same office, sat side-by-side, and helped each other understand the idiomatic expressions, some proverbs, grammar, et cetera.

That was my favorite time in the Air Force. Understanding, sharing and gaining insights into the language, culture and ways of thinking was like one big interesting and endlessly fascinating puzzle to me.

It was tedious, too, at times. That was just before computers arrived. So we translated with a pencil, dictionaries, and a yellow legal pad. We did a lot of erasing and rewriting after we reviewed and edited each other’s work. Can you imagine that? Now, when I look back on that time, it seems we were in the Stone Age.

But I loved working with the language. That’s what kept me in the Air Force 20 years.

While I was there, I learned about 30 of my favorite Korean songs and I would go out on the porch of the house I lived in, in Korea, and sing and play them. But I would more diligently practice my very favorite ones from those favorite 30,  so I would be able to “perform on command” when I went out to dinner with my Korean co-workers.

The Korean and American officers and enlisted men in my office would often get together, socially, to build camaraderie, and get to know each other better. They liked the fact that I showed an interest in their music and that I took the time to learn the songs. They were very gracious and appreciative.

But even if I never had experienced that, I still would have learned the songs which I had an affinity for,  and would have played them for my own pleasure and cultural edification.

At those get-togethers, after we finished dinner, someone would invariably start a rhythm with their chopsticks on the dish or glass in front of them and start singing. After that person finished his song, someone else would keep the pace going and sing another song. Then somewhere along the way they would look at me and say, “Your turn, Adams. Sing!” I didn’t disappoint. It was great fun to me. I was happy to keep the ball rolling.

Music has always been important to me and integral in my life.

When I go to another country, I always want to know about the culture, music, food, dance and the beauty of the land.

I traveled throughout Korea.

Had opportunities to sing Korean songs on each of the Korean Broadcast Stations and several radio stations.

One of the radio stations prepared a copy of the segment I did in a little recording booth and they gave it to me as I left the station.

(They said, “Don’t call us! We’ll call you” 😂😂😂😂 )

Click on the triangle below to hear it.

Sarang Iran

 

I went to the country to plant rice for a weekend, to see what life was like for the Korean farmer and his household. I sang a couple of Korean songs for the farmers while we planted the rice seedlings. I think they were merely amused.😊

They work hard. They work 10 hours a day and they eat five times a day. The wives and daughters prepare the food while the husbands and sons plant rice. Then they saunter out gracefully, from the village to the rice paddy, five times a day with huge pans of food balanced on their heads to serve their men.

When the “whistle blows” at the end of the day, at the rice paddy, there were still a few things to do back at each house in the village. In this picture, my friend Larry and I are knocking peas out of their pods with a pod thrasher (for lack of a better term). They were crude instruments made by hand by the farmer but they did the job effectively.

Also, I think I tried every type of food in Korea. I learned to like it a lot and I still eat it at least once a week.

This particular day I wanted hot rice, mixed with a little sesame oil and seed, which I then wrapped with lettuce, adding a little bit of the go chu jang (a hot pepper paste) on the rice before delicately shoving it in my mouth.

To go with that, I added cabbage kimchi, cucumber kimchi, and seasoned dried squid. And then two fried eggs, over easy. Hot barley tea and I was good to go!

Kimchi is so important to Koreans. They eat it at every meal. In fact, there is a Kimchi Museum in Korea.

It’s called “Museum Kimchikan”. It’s a unique museum dedicated to kimchi and kimjang (the preparation and process in making kimchi)  and it’s one of the world’s top food museums.

My sons like Korean food too and they like to cook. They were born in Korea and lived there for seven years,  so they know how it’s supposed to taste. They make some really delicious, authentic Korean meals.

If I’m lucky, my sons and/or my daughters-in-law will make a Korean meal for me on my birthday. That’s always a very special day to me.

I had many and varied, great experiences in Korea, which I reflect upon every once in a while.

When I first arrived in Korea, everything seemed so different from anything I had experienced in life up to that time. I felt some trepidation.

But after living there a year or two and immersing myself in the culture, customs and language, the dissimilarities became a non-issue, and I discovered many common interests and traits between us.

When it was time for me to rotate back to the States after my second year there, I suddenly felt like my time there was too short and I was wishing I could have stayed longer.

So I wrote a song about Korea called, “Seems Like I’ve Been Here Before”.

(I first wrote about this song in a previous post called, “A FUN YEAR, MUSICALLY! (Part 2)”. If you want to read that post just click on it and scroll to the very bottom of the post.)

Click on the triangle below to listen to it.

Seems Like I’ve Been Here Before

 

 Now Back To The Porch

When I first moved to this house and was unpacking and organizing my things, I came across a folder that held all of the songs I had ever written.

I stopped unpacking and sat for a moment to thumb through them because I hadn’t looked into that folder for a while.

I paused on a love song called, “One Night”, which I wrote a long time ago.

I happened to write this song on a porch but hadn’t sung it for quite a while.

I was feeling a little nostalgic so I took my guitar and the music out on the porch and I sat down and started playing the song.

The lyrics of the song contains the words, Two Vines, which allude to the two people in the story of the song.

The next evening I had to go to the grocery store for a few things.

As I passed the wine section, the label on a bottle of wine caught my attention. It felt serendipitous.

The label saidTwo Vines.

It made me want to do a video of  “One Night” on my back porch deck and use it to close out this post.

It’s a kind of reenactment of that moment.

The words are below the video if you want to follow along.

So here it is:

“ONE NIGHT”

One night we lay beneath the stars, entangled like two vines,

that twist and grow together, sharing the passage of time.

 

Her eyes said give me all your love. I gave it all and I’m glad.

But when I think about her again my heavy heart becomes sad.

 

How could I have left a girl so rare? I know I stole her heart. She knows I care.

 

As night descends upon me, moonshines brightly above.

I lay me down in peaceful slumber, dreaming of my love.

 

Each night I whisper to the wind, “Think of me and Goodnight!”

And hope it blows my words within the walls we shared that night.

 

How could I have left a girl so rare? I know I stole her heart. She knows I care.

 

🏀h, and just one more thing………….

Yeah, that happened! 😎

 

Great things can happen out your back door. Enjoy them! 😉

 

P.S. Btw, I was just curious about how far away the basketball goal was from where I shot the Bank Shot and the Swish Me Clean shotTurns out it was 40 feet.

Just saying…..!

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