Sweet Wormy Love

I was supposed to get my worms for the classroom composting bin on Wednesday. And then we had a snow day. Followed by two more. And then the weekend. When I finally got the worms today, I was afraid they’d be dead. But I opened up the five containers of worms (500 worms, about a half pound) and dumped them into the bedding. They all appeared to be alive.

Except for two worms that is, who were not really moving and who looked very odd, and slightly swollen. I picked them out of the bedding, trying to see if they were alive or dead.

And then I realized they were mating.

Well.

I guess they were very much alive.

And mating.

In my palm.

I watched them for a while since it was all new to me. Then I went and showed the worms to my vice principal. “So, not only were the worms alive, but I caught them making sweet wormy love.”

She burst out laughing and then looked at me. “How do you know they’re having sex?”

“Well, see that swollen band? That’s the sexual organ, and they’re wrapped up together and have sort of a mucus on them. That’s how you know they’re mating.”

“How do you know these things?”

I shrugged. “I read.”

“You were meant to be a GT teacher,” she said.

I Am Not Good at Bowling and Have Proof

Over the winter break, I somehow talked Good Man into joining a bowling league.

“I think we should join a bowling league. I’m going to sign us up.”

Good Man looked at me and sighed. “OK.”

“Really?”

“Sure.”

Tuesday? Out because I have class. That meant Monday was out because I procrastinate. Wednesday had no new leagues, and Good Man often has volunteer work in any case. Thursday’s league was too late at night. We wanted our weekends open because Good Man volunteers every Saturday and I work every other Saturday morning. And in any case, those leagues seemed more competitive or they were adult/youth leagues.

Friday night it was!

“There will be a lot of couples in this league,” I said to Good Man.

“How do you know?”

“One male and one female per team, and the name is Ball and Chain League.”

“What is ‘ball and chain?'”

***

Lucky Ball and Chain (They Might be Giants)

Ball and Chain (Social Distortion)

***

So last week we went. The league secretary went over all of the rules and asked if anyone was new to league bowling. I nodded my head. She looked at us and another couple who was also new. “Well, just follow along. Everyone else will help you out.”

If living in Korea taught me anything, it was how to just follow along and how to trust other people.

We also found out it was a USBC-sanctioned league. I filled out all of the paperwork and said to Good Man, “Now you get to be a member of a congress.” I paused, “And we need a team name.”

Good Man looked at me. “Huh?”

“A team name.”

“I don’t care.”

“How about Hanmi?” 한미 means Korean-American. Good Man nodded.

The team we were up against was good. We were not. But it was a lot of fun with high fives and cheering when anyone did well. “Well” being entirely relative to the person bowling of course.

It was strange getting used to bowling over two lanes, though.

This week we returned and our opponent wasn’t there. They’re going to post-bowl the game later. I looked at the results from the first week.

We have the highest handicap of the league. Our handicap as a team is 205. The next highest team’s handicap is 190 and the lowest is 30.

In short: we suck the most.

However, with our handicap, last week we tied one game, lost one game, and won one game. (This seems completely ridiculous to me, but I guess that’s the point of handicapping, isn’t it?)

I suck the most of every single person. My handicap is 106. Ha ha!

Awesome.

Tonight we did better than last week. During his last game, Good Man had strikes or spares in the first six out of seven frames (or was it five out of six?) and I actually got over 100. When we’re bowling together, I rarely score under 100. For some reason at league, I’m struggling to get over 100.

Oh well! I’m just following along and having a blast while doing it!

Snow Day(s)

We had a snow day yesterday. And today. And we’ll have one tomorrow. Which means a) we lose our February holiday due to the make-up day and b) Good Man and I got out for a walk and some photos today.

Coffee Prince

Why didn’t I watch Coffee Prince before this month? What an amazing story. In short: a man falls in love with someone he thinks is a man and struggles with his feelings.

I’ve finished episode nine (there are 17 episodes) and I have to force myself to not watch the next episode because if I watch it, I’m going to be up all night finishing the series.

I’m finding this series painfully beautiful.

This scene (more upbeat than painfully beautiful) is from episode four, and the Wannadies song “You and Me” fits the fountain scene perfectly.

Fire-Breathing, Arm-Ripping Dragons

My students are learning about ancient China, and they adore learning Chinese characters. For example, sun 日 and moon 月 together make bright 明. Oh yeah, my students were digging that.

So I showed them some books that put the characters into pictures. Then they chose three characters to illustrate themselves. Some did three different pictures, but some combined them into one picture.

One boy drew a picture of a fire-breathing dragon, and he worked fire (火) into the dragon’s face. Then he drew someone throwing water (水) bombs at the dragon (to stop the fire, naturally). Caught in the dragon’s claws were people (人). Around the dragon’s feet were little sticks.

“I like the grass by his feet,” I said, “Maybe you could work ‘earth’ (土) in there.”

“No, those are the arms of the people,” he said, “because really the person character should have arms like big (大) does. But since it doesn’t, I made their arms go away. To match the character.”

Prenouns and the Future

Last night I was reviewing the (으)ㄹ거예요 grammar pattern. I muttered to myself, “So it’s not certain future, it’s probable future. Then why do Koreans use it so much? Maybe it’s part of face-saving…”

Good Man looked at me. “Isn’t it the nature of the future? That it is unpredictable? I don’t want to be philosophical, but…”

***

When I first started studying Korean, I really focused on getting the grammar down.

I hate grammar.

I always scored excellent marks in English in school but I didn’t know what a verb was until tenth grade when I started Spanish class. (See the note below, dear reader.)

I didn’t care about the parts of speech. I knew what sounded right because I read a lot. And while I still make occasional errors, I contend that I learned more about grammar from reading and writing than from formal education.

I don’t know why I didn’t take this self-awareness of my own learning style with me when I went to learn Korean, but I was set on learning Korean grammar!

Except…I still hated grammar. And that early in my language studies, all I could focus on was how it didn’t make sense and why wasn’t it like English and, and, and—

I’m reading my Basic Korean grammar book and taking notes, but not doing any of the exercises. Much of it just makes sense now. I get it. Of course you would put the past tense for one conjugation here and the past tense for another conjugation over there. That just How It Is. Naturally.

However, this book—like my high-school Spanish—is clarifying things for me. “Ahhh, so that’s when you use 에서 instead of 에.”

Last night I got to the chapter on prenouns. I read the first paragraph and said, “OK, so it’s like an adjective.” A few paragraphs later I read “prenouns differ from adjectives.”

I shut the book and looked at Good Man. “I’m not dealing with prenouns at 11:30 at night.”

“What’s a prenoun?”

I know the names and rules of particular things in Korean. Good Man knows how they feel. I know the feeling of English, whereas Good Man knows the names and rules. Maybe some grammar study is a good thing when learning a foreign language.

(Horrified readers, an explanation: Teachers always said “a verb is an action, like run or sleep or sit.” I understood that running was an action. But sleeping and sitting didn’t seem like actions to me. When you’re running, or eating, or drinking, you’re actually moving your body. When you’ve seated yourself in a chair…what’s the action?

Furthermore, words could be both nouns and verbs—film, for example—but teachers could never explain how to tell when it was what.

In tenth grade Spanish Mrs. Sjostrom taught us that Spanish verbs usually ended in -ar, -er, and -ir and she translated “hablar” as “to speak.”

Wait! You mean verbs in their basic form include to? “To speak.” “To film.” If any teacher had ever told me to think of verbs as to ~ and nouns as a, an, the I would’ve understood immediately.)

(Cross posted.)

Writing and Grading

Good Man looked at my handwriting while I was studying Korean. “You write like a man.”

“Huh?”

“Your writing is like a man’s writing. Shroooooo, done! Vrroooom!”

“You’re crazy.”

“And your handwriting is sloppy.”

Can’t argue with that.

***

“Your grade for the day is an A!” Good Man said to me.

“A for what?”

“Your Wife Grade. What’s my Husband Grade?”

“B! For grading me in the first place!” I said.

“No, no,” he said, shaking his head, “you should just grade the same. That way there is no problem.”

Dad’s Jeans: Long Story

Dad’s Jeans: Long Story

Years ago (at least six, but possibly more) Dad asked me to turn his jeans into a blanket using my sewing machine. He had been sewing the ends of the legs together, making a double thickness blanket and figure I could do it faster with a machine.

I got a box in the mail containing jeans, girly-hippy shirts, a towel, and… a hammer?

I promptly put the box in my closet and put it off until later. It lived in at least two houses in Atlanta before living in my mom’s basement until I came back from Korea. For the past two years the box has lived in the office closet.

During the winter break I decided I needed to donate the jeans or make a quilt out of them. I opened up the box and discovered that Dad hadn’t sent me jeans, but instead had sent already cut-off legs.

Ahhhh, well, that sealed the quilt idea!

Cut and Zig-Zagged

I researched quilt ideas and found rag quilts, but they were much too Kountry Kute and I thought they’d be a bad idea with Dad’s dogs. I found some different strip quilt ideas and decided to do that.

I got a wide acrylic ruler, a rotary cutter and a mat and spent several days cutting out strips of denim in different widths. I also cut several very short pieces in case I needed them (shown above, I never needed them).

In order to prevent the quilt from fraying, I zig-zagged around the edges. Months ago I bought prefilled bobbins. I thought I was being frugal, but it was a dumb idea because I didn’t know what kind of thread was used, and several of the colors were colors I’d never use. (Bubble-gum pink?)

I decided to use those bobbins and a random spool of bright yellow thread to do my zig-zagging. It was a good way to use up odds and ends without spending a lot of extra money. I used up the entire spool of ugly yellow thread, part of a spool of left over blue thread, and prefilled bobbins in yellow, pink, baby blue, mint green, grey, and red.

Cleaning my Machine

Normally, you need to clean a machine after one project, or about 8 hours of sewing. Zig-zagging around denim kicked up a lot of lint and I needed to stop every bobbin/45 minutes to clean out my machine.

(Doing this project, I also learned how to adjust bobbin tension on my machine since adjusting the upper-thread tension didn’t work.)

Paired Up

Since my strips were all different lengths, I randomly paired them together, making sure I didn’t put the same exact fabric together. I sewed them together using a narrow zig-zag and black heavy-duty thread, leaving a deep seam allowance to help prevent fraying as well.

Then I matched the longest pairs with the shortest pairs, and put the medium length pairs aside.

I finally made longer strips made up one one long pair, one medium pair, and one short pair. I ended up with 14 rows made up of six rectangles each.

Where I found weak spots or holes, I did a wide, short zig-zag around them or over them to reinforce the spots. I knew Dad wouldn’t mind.

Sewn Together

Finally, I lined the strips up, trying to avoid lining up the seams exactly (they would be too thick to sew over) and trying to avoid the same color lining up next to each other. The same color only ended up next to itself once in the whole quilt, where two white rectangles slightly overlapped. Considering how little planning I did, I was very surprised and pleased!

Amazingly, the ends of the strips lined up fairly well. I guess my “short with long” method worked. I whacked off the ragged edge to make it even and zig-zagged it again to prevent fraying.

I picked up navy duck cloth from Joann’s to back it. The duck cloth had sizing on it and was dry clean only. (Ha! As if Dad was going to dry clean this thing.) I preshrunk the fabric in hot water and hot heat, which also removed the sizing. It worked out beautifully.

I did not insert batting because the denim and duck cloth were already heavy together. I did consider leaving one end open, with snaps so Dad could insert a thin blanket or down comforter if he wanted, but Dad said he thought it’d be heavy enough.

I also simply seamed the end closed from the outside with my machine. I tried hand finishing, but it was really tough because of the denim and I decided that Dad would prefer Having an Imperfect Quilt This Month to Getting a More Beautiful Quilt at Some Unknown Point in the Future.

Dad confirmed this when we talked on the phone. Ha!

I didn’t hand tie the top and backing together. Since my dad’s got a lot of dogs, I was afraid they might chew on the ties.

Finished Quilt

The quilt ended up being larger than I expected! In this picture I’m standing on the bench on the porch and I still needed to hang the quilt over the railing to prevent it from dragging on the ground.

Duck Cloth Backing

In order to make this quilt, I needed to purchase:
two denim needles
four spools of heavy duty thread
three rotary cutter blades

duck cloth

I used up:
a bunch of old denim
bobbins of left-over thread
1 1/2 spools of left over thread

I purchased but will reuse:
an acrylic ruler
rotary cutter

rotary mat

The total cost of the project (excluding the reusable materials) probably came to about $50.

I know this sounds like lazy quilt making. No planning, no measuring (other than width), no tying, no hand finishing, no proper patching of spots… The thing is, my dad is really hard on his things, and he lives in the dusty desert with his dogs. Making the quilt long-wearing, easy to clean, and dogproof were the project’s priorities. I think I succeeded in those areas. I think Dad’s going to be really happy with it.

Spool Holder

As a side note, I bought this spool holder on sale. It was meant to sit on a table, but what a waste of space! I found two tiny hooks in the closet and added them to the top of the holder so I could hang it on the wall above my machine. It looks great!