Friday, June 30, 2017

"You are in my prayers"

R's relative's mother has passed away yesterday.
The email from her included the phrase "Keep us in your prayers" which is very common in the U.S. Her email was very short and I have met her only once, but when I saw the phrase I felt what I did not feel before due to lack of my understanding of American culture.

6 years of college education (actually 7 years including an ESL year before being able to take credit classes. I took my first PSY class (101) in 2012 January) taught me a lot about the U.S. A lot of negative things, but people are the same everywhere. Culture, including religions accordingly, gives us a different mind set that derived from ways of survival based on what and how much resources we have. It's not something to fight about pursuing righteousness, we are just humans that can adapt environment.

I shrunk a lot by realizing how much I don't know and R knows much, much more than whole of my life, but my quality of life increased very much. He is my man, and we plan to marry after my graduation. He can put up with everything of me and gives me whatever I want, and we appreciate each other. I do not know what he is getting from me, but he says he won't leave me, so that's ok.

I did not know how "community" works in this country since it's a lot different from Japan. I think I made a huge mistake in Fairfax community, where I used live before moving here, when I left there. I did not make an official announcement to the group about I was leaving. I thought I would come back and nothing would be changed, but things do not go that way. Also, I misunderstood what individualism is as people do whatever they want when they want to do without restrictions or social obligations. I had some distance between them and me with confusions. My culture does not suggest to discuss private matters in public, but I felt people know everything about me from the events (which only people who know my history in Northern Virginia understand what I mean). I now realize that I was fully accepted there, but I, without knowing, rejected them. I kept myself quiet, but I think I should have opened my mouth more to explain who I am, but I did not know what to say since I thought I can't please them and I do not want to bother people.

I am hoping I can relate myself to people around me better with the new understanding of American culture in future. It would be difficult because I need to make myself comfortable as well by establishing me as an individual.

This summer, I am mentally too tired to go out to see people. I am so far skipping all of university's events and social gatherings that I was not supposed to miss, although I wanted to see a few people I like. My garden is my whole world right now hoping myself to charge energy for the next semester.

Every morning, I look forward to seeing the growth of R's birthday gift for this year.













I have almost a month. Hope they survive until then.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Gardening Days

A month has passed since my summer break began. I have been enjoying working in my garden every day, which can be actually physical exercise by digging or tilling the ground to make new beds, transferring compost to the beds, and carrying bricks to frame the beds, etc. I got tanned this year as well as last year.

I am trying to do organic garden which rely on the ecosystem in my backyard to grow vegetables. I see there are many earthworms under the soil this year. Once a nice ecosystem is established, I do not have to worry about taking care of pests, sickness of plants, and fertilize the soil because all would be taken care of by the nature. I still need to protect leafs from butterflies trying to ray their eggs on by covering them with nets or something, though, I do not need pesticides and fertilizer also no tilling after the first year, which is the whole point of an organic garden.

I am realizing that I am taking more time to make compost than working with soil and taking care of the plants in my garden. Once the plants are planted, they grow without much of my hands. Also, I have not had a serious pest problem for far.

For example, I was wondering why ladybugs were staying on parsnip flowers even before many aphids appeared. They were even mating so often, and I understood they knew their food will appear soon.



Now the flowers are occupied by aphids,



and I started to see many ladybug's babies walking around the flowers that average 10 on the parsnip plant,





and I found they turned to be pupas today.



The parsnip flowers would be an excellent environment for the ladybugs with plenty of food. I hope they populate more and eat all the aphids up!

My garden speaks a lot to me every day. Since I wanted to record more details of my garden, I started a new twitter account only about my garden.

https://twitter.com/tue1211am

I can do the same on Facebook though, I do not want to overwhelm my Facebook friends by pictures of my garden every hour. Twitter is a convenient tool as it works the best on my iPad mini, but Facebook app works so slow, and crashes and freeze so often, which makes me use it less. Also, I do not have time to sit with my computer to make a new post on this blog every day either.

About Que.

She is officially an outdoor cat now. She has managed her first adventure beyond our backyard, and safely came back to home. She now knows where her home is. This is my first time to have an outdoor cat, so I am learning a lot about the part of cats that I did not know about.

I thought she was successfully became a friend with Vella (a female cat that belongs to the people who live in a house across the street),







but she rather stay around home or in our backyard very often lately.
I think she may be feeling that outside of her territory (home and the backyard) is a dangerous world. She has run into home immediately after she saw 4 dogs coming toward her in the next door's backyard, and she has been chased by a big orange cat on the street. I am happy she did not get panicked and eventually lost. So I enjoy her staying around me while I am working in my garden.











Sometimes, she looks so hot outside, but she does not go inside unless I go in. She may be a 50% dog and 50% cat.









We are soon in July. I cannot wait my plants grow faster.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Summer Break!

The Spring is finally over, and I am totally happy with it, but not feeling like "SUMMER!!" since I still have to think of my thesis. My last day of the classes was so pleasant and I enjoy the last moment of no need to be prepared for a quiz.





I enjoyed crocheting charity baby hats instead of studying for a quiz.



This semester, this bag was always with me. It helped me as a tranquilizer which offered me a moment of making my mind blank.



I studied so hard this semester, and finished with good grades, but not sure if this worth for something. It helps me a lot to receive scholarships from Hollins, though. No debt after graduation is nice.

On the day that my last paper was submitted, I cleaned everywhere of my home, and put materials used in the classes, my notes, papers, and exams returned etc in the box of 'school' and pushed it away under back of my computer table. Next day, got some seeds and seedlings for my garden, and planted them.

It's really nice to have my own garden.
Sweet peas.









I almost forgot about sweet peas I planted last fall, and it was becoming like weed. One day, I found white flowers were blooming, and they made peas.





These suddenly appeared and I thought they were lovage since it looked very similar to it. It really smells like celery as well. My friend told me it looked like something else, and it reminded me of I seeded parsnips last fall. Since it did not germinate last year, I completely forgot about it. I checked how the roots is growing, and appeared it not edible, so decided to keep them grow and enjoy the top part.



I have garlic planted last fall, and their leaves (left corner) are edible as well. I have been enjoying nice fragrance of vegetables so far.

Parsnip flower.





Parsley.




Green Onions. They came from the vegetable wastes.



Green Onion flower. We (Japanese) call it 'Negi Bozu.'



Buckwheat flower and a bug.



Composting.

It has been almost two months since I started to add vegetable wastes that CO-OP lets me take anytime they are available - other people also come to get it -.



I have plenty of old leaves that came from my neighbors and my backyard, they are making big piles. Virginia Cooperative Extension taught me that making layers of ‘green matter’ such as vegetable wastes and grass, and ‘brown matter’ such as old leaves and wooden chips is one of the ways of making good compost, so I have been doing it. It is interesting that there is no smell of spoiled vegetables, accordingly, bugs attracted to it, once it was covered by the leaves.



This pile is a result of old leaves without shredding left for 2 years and it is now a good soil. Its height started at the level of my chest, then shrunk to my waist, then now at my knee.

Today, I was curious how the old vegetable wastes added about 1 - 2 month ago turned out, and could not find any. It became completely part of the soil, which is amazing. The amount of vegetable I added was quite a lot, which included fiber ones like whole celery, they all disappeared!

Gardening is so much fun. It offers me a new story of the backyard everyday and so much to learn. Also, working in a garden become good exercise, practical than going to gym, and it's an activity with R to do together.

I now started to think of how I can manage my time for sewing. I want to do fabric dye this year as well and want to make quilts for etsy.

Anyway, hope my summer turns to be wonderful like the last year.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Getting ready for finals.


May.

Finals begin on 11th and the last day of this semester is 15th, but one paper due is 17th (!) at noon by the courtesy of the professor as he knows we all are busy with other classes. I could not do much with my thesis during this semester, so my advisor agreed to work with me during summer, starting on 17th that we have a meeting on that day.

I applied for one volunteer position for summer, but have not heard anything from the organization yet. Visiting a job fair or internship and volunteering opportunity fair is good to explore what my options would be. I still do not know what I am going to do after December, but I know I want to sew, dye, and continue etsy. R has been looking what I may like also.

Speaking of volunteer, I signed up for a volunteer position as a photographer for the Roanoke council of community service, last year probably before Thanksgiving. I finally heard from them middle of April, and I had my first event on April 24th. It was my first volunteer experience in Roanoke except making charity quilts and crocheting hats for babies.

Here is the photos.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/98233429@N08/sets/72157681079500351

They liked my photos, so the next event will be in June :)

So, I do not know what my summer will be like. At this point, I just want to have time for working on my garden and my sewing projects without any interruptions. I have not planted anything on my beds yet, but only taking care of my compost.

R is thinking of visiting a museum with Que that we wanted to go last summer, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Que is doing very fine. We think her purrrrrr in morning is like the sound of car engine. Since she was a outside cat before, she desperately wants to go outside so we let her out in our backyard about an hour everyday.









Apparently, she knows where to come back and do not try to go beyond the fence around the backyard. She most of the time pays attention or comes back when her name was called. She hates to be examined all over of her body before getting in home, though.



She goes after a ball, like a dog. Strange cat. She does not go outside when it's hot or rain, but I cannot wait to work in my garden with her running around.

Two more weeks! and I should be able to almost forget about school for a while except my thesis.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Hot February.


Everyday is hot.

I am not very sure if my winter vegetable did not grow well due to this climate change. There may be another factors that inhibited them to grow, but this crazy weather would be one of the factors. I planted maybe about 20 daikons (Japanese white radish), parsnips, sweet peas, and garlic last fall, and a few of them are still hanging in. I can see the stems of garlic on the ground, but not sure what is going on underneath of the ground.







Winter should be cold and snowy. We have not shoveled snow this winter yet. Maybe, around April, which I really do not want that as well because summer vegetables would be already out in my garden.

It has been almost a month since the new spring semester began. I have not taken any psychology classes this semester but science classes. Human Physiology class is giving me a nightmare. The class is meant for biology major students so the professor often says in class "this is a review to most of you...", no, it's not to me.

I am kind of puzzled why I changed my degree from B.A. to B.S., it's because R said "B.S. is better to get a job because people recognize you as a liberal arts + science person" and my adviser said "Change to B.S. if you want to learn something different. I recommend you to take Human Physiology if you change to B.S." So, I took Chemistry last semester because it was a prerequisite of Human Physiology. It was good. I adore the periodic table since then, which is one of the treasures of human intellectual history.

Also, I officially added Environmental Science for my minor. So, I have been in shock almost every day learning a new tragedy. I am really ignorant about politics and economy which are the field that human stupidity appears so very often, it's really no fun. I thought being born as a human is so nice when I only had a perspective from intellectual and "fantasy" world of humans but after knowing all human activities destroying the earth for own profits even exchanging with other human's life, I am depressed with an idea of what is good about being born as a human. What a selfish creature we are.

Human Physiology is good as it is very interesting to learn about how our body function. I adore cells, chemical reactions between the major essential molecules, monosaccharides, amino-acids, fatty-acids, and nucleic-acids. We think we have a free will to make decisions or life should be "meaningful" and each individuals are important, but physiology tells us that we exist here as a result of the chemical reactions programmed by DNA. Evolutionary Psychology says our body is just a vehicle for DNA to pass a life to the next generation. Our existence is insignificant, everything is driven by DNA. I love that. Many people would disagree with it though.

This semester, I have a lot of opportunities of short writing! I did not expect to have writing assignments so often from science classes. Environment and Politics: 500-700 words essay every week, Geography and Culture: the same, Physiology Lab report every week (so this includes statistics analysis), and Thesis. It's easy to talk about an issue with an ambiguous language which is useless as it does not convey a good message, but writing papers constantly reminds me of how ignorant I am - without a firm and accurate information and organize and descriptive skill, paper cannot be done.

By the way.
We got a cat from my friend.





Her name is Queenie, 2.5 years old female. I call her Que. I appreciate her positive personality. She finds fun everywhere, follows R or me when either one is walking, participates in human activities, and sometimes talks.

And, sometimes bothers me.







When we saw her first time, we thought what a ugly cat she is. I am not sure what happened, but saying she is ugly I asked my friend to have a few weeks trial with her. We fell in love with her within a few days, and she is now our family. I think we were destined. She is getting friendlier and friendlier (or could say more revealing her true personality), all I wish her not to do to me is trying to sit on my face when I am sleeping, which my previous cat did. I do not want to kiss her butt. Otherwise, she can scratch anything she wants.