A Bigger Rice Bowl

“[굳멘], 노력 ‘력’ 하고 적응력 ‘력’… 도같아?” [Good Man], effort “력” and ability “력” are the same root 력?

“응.” Yep.

“난 똑똑해. 똑똑한 부인 있지? 나 같이 사는 것이 어려워?” I am smart. I’m a smart wife, huh? Is it hard living with me?

“아니. 내 밥 그릇 더 켜.” No. My rice bowl is bigger than yours.

According to Good Man, if you say you someone has a large [rice] bowl it means they have a large ego, or very big ambitions and goals.


Trying to describe to Mother the way a woman was talking to me, I muttered some phrases in Korean. I finally settled on “거시기, 거시기.”

Good Man figured out what I meant and said, “Oh, 어쩌고 저쩌고.”

Eo-jjeo-go jeo-jjeo-go.

Koreans, please. Why couldn’t you have something easy like “blah, blah”?


I’ve really been struggling with my 1,000,000 characters goal lately. First, I started reading Little House in the Big Woods. Vocab was too hard. Switched over to Alice in Wonderland. Too weird/strange/hard. Switched over to a book of Greek myths. Too boring. Tried Romeo and Juliet in manwha (cartoon) format. Not in the mood.

I have been reading a lot! I just can’t seem to get through a book.

To that end, I’m reading a short story (“소나기,” a very well-known Korean story). It’s part of a larger book, but I figure if I can get through one complete story, I’ll be back on track.

And hell, if that doesn’t work, I’ll read 삐삐 again. I do love Pippi!

The Beach Cottage That Comes With Our Rent

Landlord: Amanda! When you two gonna come use the beach cottage that comes with your rent? I’ve got a new one down here and the view! It’s the best view on the beach!

Amanda: How about this weekend?

Landlord: How about any weekend but this weekend?

Amanda: Mid-July? We’re going to Canada.

Landlord: OK, tell you what, come down this weekend. Bring your linens, towels, you know. The kitchen isn’t working yet, but we got a fridge with beer.

When someone basically demands you come use their beach cottage for free, and you can do it right now, well, how can you say no?


The beach house is a recent purchase and new windows were just installed, to take advantage of the view. The floors are unfinished, the walls are unpainted, and the front door has a lock but no knob.

And the view? Worth a million bucks.

Landlord: Tomorrow morning, around, oh, 5:40… 5:48, your toes will glow with the sunlight.

Amanda: Hmm. [Good Man] will complain. He’s like a cat, he sleeps a lot.

At 5:46, the brightening sky woke me up. Good Man pulled our blanket over his head. I went out to take pictures.

I know that staring at the sun is bad, but how can you not stare when you can see it moving in the sky? When you can actually see the sun rising in the sky, how can you not look at it in awe? (No, I’m not a sungazer. I have yet to convert my body to photosynthesis.)

The photo below? That was the view from the bed in the house. It really was a great view.

06:06, 06/26/10


Good Man: I want to do wine tasting. Let’s find place.

Oak Crest Vineyard and Winery


Landlord, on my voice mail: I hope you guys are enjoying your stay. Hey, listen, there are antique rocking chairs in the kitchen. Take them out on the porch and enjoy the sunset and drink some beer.

Me, to Good Man: He’s like a father or something. He tells us what to do.

Good Man: Yeah, but I want beer.

So we sat on the porch. Good Man lounged around, nursing a beer. I sat in the green antique rocking chair, working on a knitting project. And then I spotted the orange, orange moon.

21:19, 06/26/10

Summer Heat, Summer Food, Summer Sesame Leaves

Permalink 11:33:32 am, by admin Email , 276 words   English (US)

Categories: …and Takes On, America, Gadgets (Worms and Gardening)

Summer Heat, Summer Food, Summer Sesame Leaves

Summer Nights

It’s been so hot lately. We’ve been above 90 F each day, hitting 100 F with the heat index. We keep getting promised thunderstorms that don’t appear. Tuesday night it rained for all of 30 seconds. It didn’t cool down the temperature, but it did cause for some nice sunset shots.

06/22/2010 Sunset

06/22/2010 Sunset


The county cut down some diseased and dead trees near the property.


Summer Eating

I love summer foods.

I also love the chopsticks-as-any-kitchen-cooking-tool trick I learned from Mother. And Mother seemed rather happy to have access to my cooking chopsticks when she stayed with us.

Long Cooking Chopsticks

We ate some delicious, fresh-off-the-stem sesame leaves with dinner last night. When we buy sesame leaves from the store, they come in a big pack and go bad in two days. I’m so happy I chose to plant six plants, because I can pick just the right number of leaves off as I want them.

Unfortunately, the taste isn’t quite as strong as I’m used to. But they’re also not as hairy as I’m used to, so that’s a trade off I can appreciate.

Sesame Leaves

Dinner was brown rice and barley steamed in homemade veggie broth, fresh sesame leaves, sauteed summer squash (from my CSA), and grilled pork belly. Not pictured? Bright red gochujang.


Successful Growing

The sesame leaves are almost as big as my face. I can’t believe how well my lazy gardening is turning out. Even that grasshopper nymph I photographed enjoyed my sesame leaves. (Said nymph was chased around my porch until he finally jumped off the edge.)

As Big as My Face

Fan Dancing with a Sesame Leaf

Must Be Summer

In the past three days I have frozen peaches, grapes, and blueberries whole. I’ve frozen strawberries in a dry sugar pack.

I’ll be picking raspberries in Fairy Godmother’s back yard next week.

My peppers are growing.

We’re having fresh-off-the-stem sesame leaves for dinner.

I’ve got spearmint leaves drying on a baking sheet, and peppermint leaves drying in bunches.

I love summer.

A Little Less Love

Last year, I freaked out over every insect and mark on my plants. I watered my plants daily and often twice a day if it was really hot. I fertilized them with chemical fertilizers as the labels directed. I sprayed and sprayed for aphids, which solved nothing until I finally got ladybugs.

I probably loved my plants too much.

This year I’ve been a lot lazier. As soon as I saw those aphids, I got them with a soap/oil solution. As soon as I saw caterpillars, I knocked them off. The grasshopper nymph below? He got knocked off after I took the photo.

But I water much, much less than last year (which seems to be preventing the fungus gnats I think I had last year). I don’t take heat wilting as actual wilting, and I don’t water as soon as I see it. I whack off herbs, only being sure to not take more than one-third of the plant. I mixed vermicompost in with the soil when I planted, and I’ve soaked some vermicompost in the water before watering, but other than that and the slow-release fertilizer in the potting soil? Nothing.

I think I love my plants just enough this year, and they seem to be doing better because of it.

Grasshopper Nymph

Pepper Plant Symmetry

Twisted Blossom

First Pepper!

Be Like a Roach

“I’m a little nervous about this new job,” I said to Good Man last night, “because I am going to have so much more freedom in my teaching. And it’s a new school, new grade…”

“Be like a roach.”

I looked at Good Man. “What?

“You know, adapt to your environment.”

“Can you please tell me to be a dandelion next time instead of a roach? Do you remember what ‘dandelion’ is? That yellow flower that gets white poofy seeds that you blow off. It’s a weed. It lives everywhere.”

“Oh, 민들레. But it is Korean saying.”

I shook my head, “I don’t believe you.”

“바퀴벌레 같은 적응력. 바퀴벌레 means ‘bug with wheels—'”

“‘Bug with wheels’?!”

“Yeah, it is ‘roach.’ And 적응력 means ‘adaptable.'”

“Like 노력? ‘To make an effort?'”

“Same 력, it means ‘ability.'”

I thought for a moment. “No wonder Koreans are so full of han, they’re used to being compared to roaches!”

Shameful Pedaling

“You need to arrange driving lessons this week,” I said to Good Man.

This weekend Mark’s Lover kindly let Good Man drive the car one and a half miles to the grocery store. His car is large. And new (I think). And Good Man almost hit the tree at the top of the driveway on the way back. (Good Man was freaked out. Mark’s Lover didn’t seem to mind at all.)

“I already did. I make it today, tomorrow, Thursday.”

I was surprised. “You already went?”


I didn’t have to nag him! “Where’d you go?”

“Oh you know, around.”

“Do they still have to hit the brakes for you sometimes?”

Good Man nodded, “Sometimes.”

“Hon, you have to test soon…”

“Only sometimes! I am still learning! You know, it’s kind of a shame that we even have to have pedals. Every year DARPA has a competition for computer cars. I don’t know why I need pedals.”

Goddammit, I love my husband.

Hey, Hey It’s Me!

Today at school we had an ice cream social and (a) team member(s) read a letter to their leaving team member. Fifteen people are leaving, and I have to say that my teammates were by far the most creative. Everyone else read a letter, some with comments from the students, but my team sang me a song.

Trust that my last name makes the rhythm work.

Hey, Hey It’s Ms. S!
(To the tune of Hey, Hey We’re the Monkees)

Here she comes
walking down the hall
Start your BES quick now

or you’ll be on the wall

Hey, Hey it’s Ms. S
She’s a monkey in astrology
But do not monkey with her
She’s a no-fuss teacher, you see

We’re just a bunch of sixth graders!
People say we monkey around
But not around Ms. S,

she’s got the classroom down

With Ms. S
Studies are the rule
Students ace the SOLs and
they rock in middle school!

Hey, Hey it’s Ms. S
going off to teach GT
We’ll really miss Ms. S

Sad for us, but for her happy!
Sad for us, but you rock, Miss Monkey!!

Worm Composting

Several weeks ago, David asked about composting. Yesterday Mark and I set up a new bin for Mark’s Lover and harvested my bin. We took a few photos of the process.

Punching Holes in the BinThe bin size we both use is pretty small. It’s my understanding that worms only stay in the upper layers of a bin, so I don’t bother with really big bins. This bin is a 10 gallon one, but it’s only 8″ deep. Next time I’d probably get a slightly deeper one, but this works for now.

Mark punched four holes in the bottom of the bin. That way, if it drips, you know the bin is too wet. Some people don’t use holes on the bottom, but if you’re new to worm composting, I’d probably add holes on the bottom.

Around the top of the bin Mark punched more holes, about nine to fifteen on each side, for air flow.

Soaking the PaperMark brought a ton of shredded paper from work to fill the bins. Then he soaked the water. This method was a mistake! The shredded paper was so fine that it all clumped together. You don’t really want this to happen. So if you use shredded paper, I would spray it damp with a mister. You want the paper materials to be about as damp as a wrung out sponge.

Another option is to tear newspaper into strips (the narrower the better) and then soak it in water. When you drain the water, the newspaper still remains fluffy.

The bin should be mostly full with bedding.

Bin with BeddingThis is the bin after I’ve added all the bedding and the unfinished stuff from my harvesting.

Red WormsTo compost, you need red worms, not regular variety earth worms. These red worms are actually an invasive species, so don’t stick them into the ground! You can buy red worms online, or at fishing shops. I went on Craigslist and wrote an “ISO: Red Worms” post and got them from a lady for $5, which was about 1/10th what they would’ve cost to order them. Now I’ve split my worm population twice, once for Mark and once for Troy.

FeedingI pocket feed. About once a week I dump food into a different corner of the bin. Then I cover it with bedding (to prevent fruit flies). I also freeze the food scraps before feeding, which helps prevent fruit flies and aids in breaking down the food faster (because freezing the scraps breaks down the cell walls).

Another method of feeding is to just dump new food on top.

By the time I reach the original corner, if there’s still food there, I don’t feed for a week. The benefit of pocket feeding is that the food scraps are in various states of decay, so the worms can eat what they like.

I feed veggie and fruit scraps, and sometimes coffee grounds. No dairy, no grains, no meats. Go easy on the garlic and onion because worms don’t like it much, and go easy on orange and citrus peels because it can irritate the worms. (Worms breathe through their skin. Have you ever accidentally squirted yourself in the eye while peeling an orange?)

I’m not able to use up all of my food scraps yet, but between saving scraps for vegetable broth and the worms, I throw away very little compostable food in a week.

Every other week or so, I add more bedding to the bin to keep the ratio of browns (paper products) and greens (food products) right.

Ready to HarvestAfter several months, the bin will be ready to harvest. (I should’ve had more bedding in this bin, I think.) I quit feeding for a couple of weeks. In this bin I pulled a lot of the larger pieces of unfinished stuff to one side about two weeks ago. I figured it would make harvesting easier. (I was right.)

Light HarvestingRed worms are sensitive to light. I made several piles of compost on a tarp and waited about five minutes while the worms moved away from the light, to the middle of the pile.

Scraping off CompostWhen the worms were done diving, Mark’s Lover and I scraped off a layer of compost from the top, reformed the conical piles, and waited for the worms to dive again.

We tossed unfinished compost onto my bin lid, where it was later added back to my bin to be finished.

When the piles got small enough, we combined them until we were stuck with two piles of mostly worms and very little compost. We then dumped one pile of worms/compost into each bin.

Finished CompostThis is the finished compost. I need to let it dry out a little bit, and I need to stir it in about a week to find missed worms and newly-hatched worms. I’ll also run it through some wire mesh to make the clumps the same size. Then it’s ready to be used!

June 12th Garden Update

It’s been hot lately and my plants are happy about it. In the past two weeks I’ve harvested dill, sesame leaves, basil, and mint. The basil has really taken off, but the peppers are also getting much bigger.

So far I approve of the plant nannies. When I’ve stuck my fingers in the pot to check the moisture level, the soil is moist near the roots.



Poppies (and something that’s taken root on the right side of the pot)


Sesame Leaves