Sep. 10, 2000
It is good to have friends from all over the world. I am glad you responded to my post. Tell me more about yourself. Do you have children? Do you have a job? Do you have any hobbies? I would like to hear about your country and the place that you live.
I can't remember everything I put up on the penpal net so I will tell you a bit more about me. I am 44 years old and have seven children between the ages of nine and sixteen. My husband is a retired carpenter. He had congestive heart failure in 1994 and has been unable to work since then. He is nine years older than I am. I am a Systems Analyst for a company that sells vacation properties. We are in the process of converting all our systems from a UNIX based PICK BASIC system to some more updated technology. They are still picking out most of the systems so I can't say just yet what
we are converting to. One of the ones we have already chosen is called PeopleSoft which sits on top of an Oracle database. They just promoted me to a manger's position so I am really busy now!
In my spare time, I like to read. I will read almost anything, since that has been something I have loved since I was a child. I am starting to go back now and read all the books I read in college because I find that, as I have gotten older, I find more meaning in the books than I did when I was
twenty. Age brings more understanding to the things you read, I think. I also like to work in my garden and ride my bike. I will go out and register on your penpal site some time today.
I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Sep. 10, 2000
I have just gone to your website and see that you will need to send me a log in and password as I could not see how to register myself. Please let me know what I need to do.
I loved the picture of the roses on your home page!
Sep. 11, 2000
I hope you are doing well today. I am working from home today, so I have a few minutes to write this morning.
I was able to register successfully on your penpal website, and will be happy to write anyone who is interested in corresponding. I will talk to my children tonight and see if some of them would like to register also.
I live in Florida, in St. Petersburg. I have never been to California, so you have been somewhere I have not! I have lived here almost my whole life, although I was born in New York City.
I think it is great that you started your own business. I have always wanted to do that. How did you become interested in webprogramming? Was it difficult to start a business? It also is great that you are learning a second language. Do you speak any other languages? I do not speak anything
else, except for a little Spanish. I would like to learn another language at some point in my life. I think they should start children speaking more than one language in the schools when they are small. It is much easier to learn when you are younger!
I like Hemingway also, although I didn't when I was younger. That's one of the authors I started re-reading just recently. I read "In the Garden of Eden" just a few months ago, and really liked it. Do you have a favorite book? For poetry, I like some of the older writers like Wordsworth, Keats,
and William Blake. These are all old English authors. Wordsworth writes a lot of nature poetry which I love. If you were a writer, what kind of books would you like to write?
I am sorry to say I do not follow much baseball. I used to like sports quite a bit when I was younger, but it seems that I can never sit down and watch a whole game of anything without interruption from the kids, so I guess I just lost interest. We just got a baseball team in our city,
though, a couple of years back, so maybe that will make it easier for me to get involved again.
As far as your English is concerned, you do very well. The only sentence I had trouble with from your last mail was the one regarding "representing a poet.." I think you just meant to ask what poetry writer I liked the most. I know I could never do as well if I had to learn Korean, though!
I have attached a family picture. Please let me know if you are able to open it. If you have any problems, I will try re-sending it in a different format. If you have a picture of yourself, we can exchange photos. It is always fun to see the people you are writing to!
Well, I must get to work now. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Sep. 13, 2000
Hello Mr. Lee,
My 17 year old son registered on your website today. I will also ask my nine year old daughter to sign up. They are the two best readers and writers in the family. My son, Devon, has taken a lot of advanced writing courses in school. He also has a gift for drawing and he plays the guitar.
My daughter, Dana, will enjoy having friends from another country. She really loves school and enjoys learning new things. I received your photo and was able to open it successfully. Your digital
camera takes very good photographs!
I will look up some Wordsworth poems this weekend and send some to you. I will have to either scan them in, or re-type them for you. Do you have any word processing software on your PC? I am not sure if I should send them in an attachment or just type them in the body of an e-mail post. Some of his work is quite long. I have MS Word on my PC. If you have something that will read a Word document, I will send it that way, but if not, I will just type it into my post. It is hard for me to write very long things during the week because I usually get home very late and then I have to clean the house and help the children with their homework. It takes me an hour and a half to get to work
and another hour and a half to drive home at night, so evenings are usually very busy for me.
I am very much looking forward to reading The Martyred on your website,though, and will plan to take a look at that this weekend also. Your full moon ceremonies sound lovely. What other holidays do you
celebrate? What is your favorite? I think that one of the things that is most lacking in American society is a sense of tradition and reverence for the cycles of the year and for things that are past. Everyone is always in such a rush to get on to the next new thing. I hope to pass a better set of
values to my children, but is hard when they are bombarded with advertising and media all the time.
Fall is a beautiful time of year. It is still very hot here in Florida, but after you have lived here for a long time, you sense a very subtle change in the air. It is a little less humid and the sunlight is not so strong. What is the significance of picking a chestnut? Is that something that has personal significance for you or is the chestnut a symbol of happy times past?
As always, I very much look forward to hearing from you. I hope this post finds you well.
Sep. 14, 2000
Dear Mr. Lee,
It is not a problem to send you the poetry at all. I only wanted to apologize if I was a little slow in getting it to you. It seems that you must have had a lot of sorrow in your life. I hope it was
nothing too horrible. There can be so much pain in life. I hope that you have found some peace as time has gone on. Do you have any family? What are some of the happy memories you will have when you pick your chestnut?
You talked about the time you spent in California. How long were you there? Was it just for a visit, or did you live there for awhile? You were right about New Year's Eve. It is an all night event. People stay
up to watch the time change. They usually drink and make a lot of noise. It is not a holiday I enjoy too much because I am too old to spend the whole night drinking. Most of the time, I do not stay up until midnight anyway -unless I have a really good book to read!
I enjoy the Fourth of July a lot. That's the holiday when we celebrate our independence from England. Most of the original meaning of the holiday is gone, of course, but they always have fireworks and we go down to the beach and sit outside to watch them. Each city has its own fireworks display, and
the place where we go has a view of the fireworks from about five or six different places.
My kids are very cranky tonight so I will need to keep tonight's note short, but I will write more tomorrow.
As always, I look forward to your e-mails. If you send me your postal address, perhaps I can send you a book or some movies once in awhile. You can use some of them for your class. Tell me if you have any special requests and I will see if I can find them for you.
Sep. 15, 2000
Dear Mr. Lee,
Here is a shorter poem by an American poet. I think that it would be difficult to find one poet that represents all of American poetry, because there are several different styles that are popular, and good poets to represent each style. To try to select just one would be like comparing an
apple to an orange. Which is better? It all depends on what you are in the mood to eat. The poem I will share with you is done in what you might call a "classic" style, as it is timeless and speaks to all generations.
The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
Ans sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads in to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I hope you enjoy this poem. I will send you another tomorrow. Hope you are having a wonderful day, and I look forward to hearing from you on Saturday.
Sep. 17, 2000
Hi Mr. Lee,
I tried to register Dana, my 9 year old daughter, at your penpal site but got an OLE error. I was wondering if you might register her for me? She will write to either boys or girls her own age. She reads on a sixth grade reading level, so can write to some of the older children also. She will be
10 on Oct. 12. Here is the information that she wanted to put in the self-introduction:
My name is Dana. I'm 9. I like music. I'm in fourth grade. I have 5 brothers, 1 sister and 2 dogs. I like reading, baseball, singing and dancing. My favorite subjects in school are spelling and reading. My
favorite color is green.
She can use my e-mail account, email@example.com, for awhile. Later I
will set her up with her own address.
I will write a longer letter to you later. There is a hurricane out in the Gulf and I need to watch the weather information on T.V. now as we are on a hurricane watch. Although it is headed this way, a cold front is coming down from the north. That usually pushes them off course, so I am not too
worried. One of my hobbies is learning about the weather. It is something that has always fascinated me. We get a lot of huge thunderstorms where I live. I think the lightning is so beautiful. I don't stand out in it, of course, but I have to drive across a big bridge on my way home from work,
and since we usually have the summer storms late in the day, I have seen some really spectacular displays across the water.
I will write you again this evening, and also send you another poem.
Sep. 17, 2000
Dear Mr. Lee,
Here is another poem for your website. This one is a sample of the poetry of William Wordsworth. He was an English poet that lived from 1770-1850. He wrote much nature poetry.
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand I saw at a glance,
Tossing their heads in a sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced, but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee;
A poet could not but be gay,
In such jocund company;
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought.
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
I hope you enjoy this poem also. Some of the words are a bit old-fashioned. "Jocund", for instance, is a word meaning "merry". It is not used often in America today except by authors and poets. I think, though, if you enjoy nature, you will enjoy the poems of Wordsworth very much. I will send a second mail to respond to your last e-mail, but I wanted to get this poem off to you first.
Hope you are well.
Sep. 17, 2000
Dear Mr. Lee,
It is wonderful to write to a friend that enjoys nature as much as I do. The wind can definitely speak to you, as well as the plants and animals and trees. They speak to your heart instead of your ear. You express your feelings about nature beautifully.
On the weekends, I like to be outside as much as I can. I work inside all week, so being outside is a special treat. I have a bicycle and I like to go for long rides on weekends. My oldest son used to go with me, but he is a teenager now and busy with his friends, so he does not go very much any
more. When the weather cools off a bit, my husband and I take the kids to a park to play softball and have a picnic. It is difficult for my husband to be outside in the summer because it gets very hot here, and when it is hot he has trouble breathing. In summer, I take the kids and go down to the
beach to cool off in the Gulf of Mexico. We have some beautiful beaches, and all my children love to play in the water.
Today it is very windy and rainy because of the storm. It is good to have the windows and doors all open so I can listen to the wind and the rain. I think we are further south than where you live. It does not get cold quite this early in the year, and when the seasons come, they are far more subtle.
I have lived here most of my life, though, so I can always tell when the seasons are changing even though our leaves do not turn color. In September, the humidity is not so bad. You can feel a difference in the breeze, and the sunlight becomes more gentle and filtered. And there is
nothing quite like a Florida spring. If you love flowers, you would like to visit in April when everything starts to bloom. Every time the wind blows you can smell jasmine and gardenia. It is quite lovely.
How cold does it get in the winter where you live? Does it snow? Do you ever travel up into your lovely mountains? What is spring like in your counrty? If you get a chance and are able to take a picture of your countryside, I would love to see it.
I have very broad taste in music, so it would be hard to come up with one favorite song. I enjoy everything from classical music to rock and roll. My son plays the guitar, and he is getting very good at it. My oldest daughter and I are always asking him to play something. I also like international music quite a bit. The bagpipe music of Scotland and Ireland appeals to me, as well as Native American Indian music and songs from Jamaica and South America. We have a sizable number of Latin Americans here, so many of our radio stations are for Spanish speaking people and play
only Latin American songs.
The company I work for has what they call "diversity celebrations" where we celebrate the culture of another country, or group of countries every month. This month we celebrated the Latin American culture. At lunch time, our Latin American employees brought food from their countries, played music and danced their native dances. It was really fun!
I will close for now as I am going to start breakfast for my family. I don't get a chance to cook much during the week because by the time I get home, it is late and everyone has already eaten. I enjoy making a big breakfast for them on Sunday mornings, though. Today I can cook along with
the sound of the rain.
Sep. 19, 2000
Dear Mr. Lee,
There is no hurry for the picture; just whenever you are able.
I am sure that you are using the correct expression. I am glad you are feeling more hope than despair. There must be some good things happening in your life then.
What kinds of things make you feel hopeful? What kinds of things make you despair?
I think many times I feel despair when I get tired. Sometimes it feels like life is just too busy, and I long to simplify it. I think there must be an easier way to live than to work all the time. I miss my children during the week, and with so many, money is always a problem. They have so many things
that they need, and an even longer list of things that they want. You want to give them everything, but of course that is impossible.
I am fortunate to have a good job, doing something that I enjoy. Many people get stuck working long hours in places they hate. But I sure wish I had more time to just enjoy life. Sometimes I think I would like to go back to school too. There is so much to learn about and so much I am interested
in! But that will have to wait until some of the kids are grown.
When they are all grown and have left home, my husband and I want to travel around the country if his health still permits. I want very much to see Alaska.
What do you dream of doing? Do you have things that you want to try at least once in your lifetime? I have a huge list!
Hope this post finds you well...I look forward to hearing from you again soon. I have one more poem I'd like to send to you. If I get time, I will type it in before work tomorrow.
Sep. 21, 2000
Dear Mr. Lee,
I had not heard from you in a few days, so I hope you are well. I have been sick for the last week and am working from my house today.
Anyway, I don't want you to feel pressured to write if you are busy. I was just checking in to make sure you are well.
I will write a longer letter this weekend when I do not have to work.
Sep. 23, 2000
Dear Mr. Lee,
Your letters are always such a joy to read. They are so full of honest feeling. I think that expressing ones feelings clearly and with integrity is almost a lost art, at least here in our country. Have you ever tried to write a book or some poetry? You would be very good at it. Your students are very fortunate to have such a dedicated teacher.
My postal address is:
5311 3rd Avenue South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33707
I would very much like to see your CD and maybe one day to visit your country. It is hard to imagine ever having enough money for such a trip, but one day the kids will be grown and then things will be financially easier.
American children are very independent, but sometimes that is part of the problem. They have many choices in life to make, and they do not always choose wisely. You guide them and hopefully plant good seeds, and then you just hope for the best. Also, while our educational system is good in that
everyone has the opportunity to go to school, sometimes it is too preoccupied with teaching children to take standardized tests, and is not concerned enough about teaching them the joys of thinking and learning. There is much happiness to be found in reading a good book or learning about something you never understood before. Anyone can learn to take a test. Anyone can memorize things and learn to answer what is expected. It is in discovering the unexpected that the joy of learning lies.
I am feeling much better today. I went for a long bicycle ride this evening just before the sun went down, and spent some time taking care of my garden. I had a little flu virus, but it takes a lot longer to get over things when you have to get up and go to work every day. I am glad it is the weekend.
It seems that you loved your mother very much. My mother lives not too far from me and helps my husband with the kids every day after school. The younger kids go over to her house every Friday and spend the night, and my oldest daughter goes over and helps her take care of her dog and her lawn.
It is sad because my father had several strokes over the last few years and on Friday the doctor said he thinks that he is dying. They have been married for over thirty years.
Maybe one day you will be able to come to Florida also. You will be welcome to stay with us if you are ever able to make the trip.
I will write you another letter tomorrow. You are right to detach yourself from all the business of the world on the weekend. It is so important to maintain a balance between the things of the spirit and the outside world.
Sep. 23, 2000
Dear Mr. Lee,
Here is a poem I like by Walter De la Mare, (england 1873-1956).
When Sam goes back in memory,
It is to where the sea
Breaks on the shingle, emerald green,
In white foam, endlessly;
He says - with small brown eyes on mine -
"I used to keep awake,
And lean from my window in the moon,
Watching those billows break.
And half a million tiny hands,
And eyes, like sparks of frost,
Would dance and come tumbling into the moon,
On every breaker tossed.
And all across from star to star,
I've seen the watery sea,
With not a single ship in sight,
Just ocean there and me;
And heard my father snore. And once,
As sure as I'm alive,
Out of those wallowing, moon-flecked waves
I saw a mermaid dive;
Head and shoulders above the wave,
Plain as I now see you,
Combing back her hair, now back, now front,
Her two eyes peeping through;
Calling me, 'Sam!' - quietlike - 'Sam-'
But me...I never went,
Making believe I kind of thought
'Twas someone else she meant...
Wonderful lovely there she sat,
Singing the night away,
All in the solitudinous sea
Of that there lonely bay.
"P'raps," he'd smooth his hairless mouth,
"P'raps, if 'twere now, my son,
P'raps, if I heard a voice say, 'Sam!'
Morning would find me gone."
I hope you enjoy it. I will write again soon.
Sep. 26, 2000
Hi Mr. Lee,
I just wanted to let you know that Dana has had two days off from school and has been over at her grandmother's house. Please let your students know that she will be home tomorrow night and we will sit down and answer all replies.
Hope you are having a wonderful week. It is almost the weekend when we can rest and contemplate and write again!
I will talk to you soon.
Oct. 3, 2000
Dear Mr. Lee,
I received your CD today and am very much looking forward to looking at it with Dana and Devon. Thank you. Dana answered her mail, but she accidentally hit the power button on my computer when she was sending it, so please let me know if it did not come through. We re-typed everything and
re-sent it, so I hope it reached your students. I had forgotten to check Devon's box, and just noticed that he has a post also, so I will ask him to sit down tonight or tomorrow and answer the note.
Yeon-ju writes very well. I got such a smile when she described her Mom as looking like a tiger, and her Dad as looking like a rabbit. It was a very interesting observation! I am not sure whether the note said whether Yeon-ju is a boy or a girl, and because I am not familiar with Korean names,
I could not tell. Perhaps you can let me know. How many students do you have?
I am going to look up some more poetry to send you tonight. It is as enjoyable for me as I hope it is for you. It gives me a chance to read some good poetry that I might not ordinarily take the time to read. I often think that, if I ever get the time, I would love to go back to school and
just study everything I can get my hands on. The younger ones always complain about having to go to school, but when you get older, you wish that you had enough time to study all the things you are interested in!
My oldest son turned 17 this week, (September 30). That makes me feel like an old woman! I remember when he was just a baby. It seems so impossible that 17 years have gone by since he was born.
How has your week been? Is your business going well? Did you have a nice weekend? We finally got just a little bit of fall weather here. You can tell the difference in the mornings before the sun comes up, and there is a beautiful breeze blowing out of the northeast. I am ready for winter, I think. It always makes me feel like baking pies. I found ants in my flour this weekend, so I could not bake, but I did make a huge meal for Devon and all his friends on Sunday night.
Well, I am just about ready to go to bed now so I will close.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Oct. 08, 2000
Hello Mr. Lee,
Here is another Wordsworth poem for you...
Lines Written in Early Spring
I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.
To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
Amd much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.
Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And 'tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.
The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure -
But the least motion which they made,
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.
The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.
If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature's holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?
I hope you enjoy the poem. I have another I would like to send you later.
Also I will send you a regular letter. We are having a birthday party for my youngest boy today. He is going to be 12 tomorrow. I have some shopping to do for pizza and ice cream, so I will close for now.
Dana sent a letter to Yeon-ju last night. She would like to take Yeon-ju's letter into her class at school to tell them about her new pen pal. The school has an internet connection, so maybe I can talk to the teacher about having some of the other students at the school send letters to your class.
Will you speak to Yeon-ju and the others about it and see if that would be okay with them?
Well, goodbye for now. I will write more later,
Oct 09, 2000
Dear Mr. Lee,
I believe the phrase "what man has made of man" probably refers to the separation of man from Nature and, by extension, from himself. Wordsworth was a great believer in a single life force that pervaded everything from trees, to animals, to people. When people set themselves apart from Nature, they lose this connection and come up with something less. In trying to become greater than the world in which they live, they actually lose something. There is another poem which I will send you later that is
along those same lines. The last few lines contain some references to Greek mythology and the early Pagan religions, of which Wordsworth was quite fond. I will try to explain those references when I send the poem in case you are not familiar with them.
Sometimes it is hard trying to find poems that translate well cross-culturally. Part of the problem is that much of the poetry I enjoy was written in the late 18th and early 19th century, and I have to try to
understand some of the meanings myself, in terms of modern language. Some words used by these poets are have a much different meaning today, and some have slipped from our vocabulary altogether. So don't feel bad about not understanding all the words they use - sometimes I don't understand them either!
I feel sad when you write about your loneliness. When I was growing up, I was an only child in a world of adults, and I was very lonely for a long time. By the time I got to school, I did not know how to behave with other children because I had never been around them. I think I must have been in
my teenage years before I finally was able to make friends without feeling too awkward. Whenever I was introduced to people, my heart would race and I could not think of anything to say. My children will never experience this because of having such a large family! Perhaps they will crave solitude
I do not know what the customs are in your country regarding dating and marriage, but here a person is never too old to find another to share their life with, or to have unexpected things happen to them. I would think that someone would be honored to know someone as intelligent and kind as you are.
It is so refreshing to know that someone is interested in making a positive difference in the life of the young people in their country. It is a noble thing you are doing. Most people, it seems, earn their living doing things which are of no real benefit to anyone. The work you do benefits our children, and therefore our future.
So I hope you are not too lonely or disheartened this weekend. Our birthday party went well. Some of the boys spent the night, but almost everyone has gone home now. I shared your story about seaweed soup with the kids - I think they prefer birthday cake! I did have a meal once that had seaweed and squid in it. It was really good. Now I will have to start getting
ready for Dana's birthday which is October the 12th. Then we will start preparing for Halloween. Fall is such a busy time for us because almost all
the children have birthdays that fall between September 30 and December 2.
Also the major holidays - Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and New Year's
- all fall around that same time. It makes me tired just thinking about it!
Hope you are well this week, and that your business plans are successful.
I look forward to hearing from you again soon.
Oct 10, 2000
Hello Mr. Lee,
I don't know if you can use this with your children, but one American poet who was famous for writing children's poetry is Shel Silverstein. He is very contemporary in his use of language, but most of his poems have a little bit of humor to them, and it is the kind of humor that kid's find
funny. He writes about things like a crocodile going to the dentist and a little boy with a messy room. I am sending you a link to a website that has some of his poems. You can read a few and see if you can find some you feel are appropriate.
Please let me know if you are able to access the site with this address. If not, I will just send you a few of the poems.
Good-bye for now.