Hoards of readers have written to ask about the finer points of vermicomposting, whether I was joking when I said I was keeping the worm bin inside, and how the red wigglers are faring.
Those of you who didn’t know we have a full-blown worm farm in the house can click here for the story of the genesis of this operation.
It’s no joke– Squirmy and his friends reside in the area once known as “the living room” but now known as “the ping-pong/laundry-folding/worm room.” The space we used the least has now become a hub of activity, now that we stored the fancy rug and candlesticks and have games to play, work to do, and worms to care for.
The weather has been a bit nicer lately, so I’ve taken the bin outside so the worms can get some fresh air, and that’s where I took these photos to demonstrate the latest in composting with worms. Squirmy and his friends eat, poop and reproduce at an astounding rate.
As you’ll recall, they live in a set of stacked bins, and when they’ve munched everything in the bottom bin, you add one to the top and start adding food scraps to it and the worms climb up to the food and work on that tray.
Looking at a working tray is not going to take your breath away. Once you lift the lid and pull aside the newspaper, what you see is a conglomeration of food, shredded paper, dryer lint, coffee grounds, dry leaves, and anything else you’ve stuffed in the bin.
And if you dig into the mass a bit, you’ll find worms. Thousands of worms. You have to take their picture quickly or they’ll burrow back down to finish their eating or pooping or lovemaking. Single-minded, these worms.
The tray below is much more satisfying to look at. The worms are about finished with it, so it’s mainly full of compost. Actually, it was totally compost, but I had so many worms crowding the upper tray that I stuck a little food from the top tray that was almost completely digested, and added several hundred worms to see of they’d get fatter when they have more room. No one has suggested this is a good or bad idea; it’s just a wormy experiment I’m conducting. It’s better than trying to magnetize them with batteries, for God’s sake.
Here’s a closeup of the compost. Look at that rich soil!
The fact that it’s really worm poop grosses out my boys. Yes, the boys who announce, “Don’t leave yet– I gotta take a big dump” when we’re already late for drums. The boys who brag about burping and farting simultaneously. The boys who love to yell “frank ‘n’ beans” just before disrobing.
Of course, in every crowd you have some hedonistic ones and the worms are no exception. They lurk in the tray at the bottom, which is intended only to catch stray compost and worm drippings.
Dude, you pour the liquid from that tray onto your garden and you will see some pansies that look like they’ve been hanging out with Jose Canseco.
Anyway, the horny worms that just want to make love and don’t want to do their fair share of eating and pooping hang out here. They hide on the sides of the tray. Every once in a while I have to gather them up and dump them back in the working tray.
“The orgy is over– back to work.”
So far I’ve mixed the compost with water and watered my winter plants, which have all perked up like the steroidal pansies. When it’s time to change to warm weather plants, I’ll incorporate the actual compost into the soil. I’m giving vermicomposting two thumbs up here. It’s easy and entertaining, depending on how exciting the rest of your life is.
Porter is never short of ideas for contraptions, but they always lack that crucial element that would make them useful and thus marketable. A wine cork holder for your bath tub is fun, but not essential. Transforming the skateboard into a laundry basket mover is original, but all the ropes that had to be attached were time consuming and it’s not that far from the hall to the laundry room. Creating a box that can hold hickory nuts and withstand heat is convenient if you feel compelled to heat your hickory nuts after picking them up from the driveway and prior to disposing of them, but the number of people who discard only heated nuts is quite small.
So I didn’t expect much when I heard banging and clattering coming from Porter’s room, followed by numerous trips around the house to gather rope.
“Mom, you’ve got to see my invention. Key word: Got To,” he said.
“What did you make?”
“It’s a swinging bed. In the summer I want to move it outside and it will be like a hammock. Come see.”
Porter had dismantled the entire underneath part of his bunk beds and trussed the mattress to the upper bunk with rope. I pushed the lower bed carefully, and it swayed back and forth. The rest of the bed creaked.
After I tucked him in that night, Porter jumped out of the bed several times to expound upon the unique attributes he was discovering about his bed during its first test drive.
“This is a great bed in winter, too. When I get in, it folds up around me like a hot dog bun, so it keeps me extra warm. I don’t need as many pajamas or covers, and that saves natural resources.”
“That’s awesome, dude. Get back in bed so Daddy and I can have some time to talk.”
“Hey, you know how it was creaking a lot before and that might keep some people up? I put a sock under the rope that was creaking and now it’s quiet. So it’s a peaceful way to sleep.”
“I could use some peace and quiet myself. Go to bed and stay there.”
“I know you told me stay in bed, but I just had to come back and tell you that Pluto and Bamboo like the new bed. See, panda bears are used to sleeping in trees, so they like to swing in bed at night.”
“I’m going to need a cage for panda bears and boys to make them stay in bed if you come in here one more time.”
“Hey, that would be cool to make, like, a jail with a swinging bed inside.”
Don’t forget– the theme for this week’s Flashback Friday is “This Makes Me Giggle.” If you want to participate, check out the guidelines here. Then you can see last Friday’s version to see how it worked out. We had a great time!
Now that I’ve eaten chicken feet I’m worried that there’s not much left for me to experience in life. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, so I’ll back up to the days before I indulged in this delicacy.
Just after Christmas the five of us left for our annual trip to New York City to visit Aunt Lulu and Uncle P. In true Glamore fashion the week ended up being a series of exotic meals punctuated by other activities, some successful, some not. The first order of business was to arrange ourselves in the studio apartment, which was markedly easier a couple of years ago when the boys were smaller.
The apartment has a bed, which Bill and I share, and we’ve purchased a blowup mattress that Porter adores. Finn commandeers the sleeper sofa. You’d think that Drew could join him there, but both of them reject that idea. Apparently boys can’t sleep in the same bed after the age of six.
Sleeper sofa extended taking up the entire floor
Blow-up mattress arranged “rocketship” style; design by Porter Glamore (sofa cushions not included)
Fortunately, Drew has an affinity for small spaces, and sleeps on the floor in the space between the front and back of the sofa where the mattress and cushions stay when the sofa is in its usual state.
He claims it’s warm and snuggley down there.
We don’t know how he wedges himself in there, especially after a meal, but he does and we don’t hear from him again until morning.
Unless I bug him by trying to take a picture.
We can tell we’re aging, as this is what the bathroom has come to:
Deodorant and retainers galore.
One day I took our teenager downtown to look for cool threads while Bill took Drew and Porter to the Apple store and FAO Schwartz. They returned with some “new” toys they couldn’t get enough of. You heard it here first– the Rubik’s Cube is making a comeback, but now you can get on the computer and watch a YouTube video to learn how to solve it.
Meanwhile, the folks who thought up the hackysack have refashioned it by changing its shape and the rules. Voila, the myachi! Instead of gathering in a circle and listening to “Sugar Magnolia” while passing the hackysack, kids today hop on the subway and toss the myachi under their legs or across the seats to each other, being careful not to touch it with their palms. Setting your iPod on “I Kissed A Girl” is optional.
Crowd at FAO Schwartz watching the myachi dudes
Metrodad had given me some restaurant recommendations that we were thrilled to receive because I only let the boys repeat one restaurant from a previous trip. If you’re in the city and need a romantic spot to take a date, Alta would be a wonderful choice. Unfortunately, we had three boys with us, so Bill and I had to sneak in a romantic moment by sending them to the restroom to wash their hands and smooching at the table while they were gone. Although we had a good time with them, we would have had a better time at this particular restaurant without them, given its glowing candlelight, lovely wine list, and overall atmosphere that was more conducive to googly eyes than to breaking up paper football contests.
Alta is a tapas restaurant, and one of the weirder yet delicious dishes was Spaghetti Pepperoncini, Bottarga Di Muggine, dried bonito and shrimp oil and peppercress. We ordered it only because the waitress seemed like she might cry if we didn’t. We didn’t know what Bottarga Di Muggine was, and it sounded menacing, like the head of a crime family, not something you want to twirl on your fork and slurp with noodles. Now, with the benefit of google, I can tell you that it’s dried gray mullet roe, and it looked like thin slices of pink bubble gum perched atop the spaghetti. We loved it so much we ordered another serving. The spicy lamb meatballs were yummy, too.
Some things must be replaced from time to time, and underwear is one of them. The boys sat calmly inside Bloomingdale’s, eating pretzels and playing myachi while Bill and I bought him new underwear and undershirts. We had scarcely set foot in Victoria’s Secret, however, when they engaged in a group freakout, during which Porter slapped his hand over his face and said, “I can’t look while I’m in this store. This is maximum weirdness.” The teenager complained that he wouldn’t be caught dead in a panty shop, and only Drew tried to sneak a peek of the mannequins as we marched the boys to a quiet corner between the elevators and the flannel pajamas (lucky us–who knew?) and instructed them to face the wall and give us five minutes.
“Mom means give her five minutes, because I’m like you. I don’t know what we’re doing in this panty store,” Bill said.
He sat with the boys and discreetly pointed out underthings that caught his fancy, and I snatched them up and paid in record time. That didn’t prevent the guys from complaining about this particular stop for far longer than necessary.
One snowy morning we headed down to the lower east side and were captivated by Guss Pickles on Orchard Street. They had barrels of pickles of all varieties, quarter-sour, half-sour, and so forth. Bill was amused when a woman came up and ordered as if she were at Starbucks.
“I need a quart of half-sour with half half-sour juice and half full-sour juice,” she said.
“That’s quite a pickle order,” Bill said.
“Yeah, my dad loves them this way, and it’s his birthday, so I get them for him as a present,” she said.
We could only think of one person we know who’d be satisfied with a variety of pickles as a gift.
I looked down the street and saw a familiar sign that said “Kaufman,” and something stirred in the back of my mind, and I told the guys to continue eating pickles while I checked it out. Sure enough, it was A.W. Kaufman, a lingerie shop, and I had been there several times with my mom, years and years ago. I walked in and it was as if time had stopped. It’s a narrow space lined with plastic storage bins marked in black writing with brands and sizes: “La Perla 36 C.” I remembered sitting in the one folding chair while my mom tried on nightgowns and it was too much for me, and I cried hard by the counter near the robes. Miriam, who was running the store, got me water and claimed to remember my mom, but she was probably just being nice.
Everything else on the block was posh. Miriam said Fine & Klein, one of my mom’s purse stops, had gone out of business, and she was one of the oldest stores left.
We had other good meals– Italian, sushi, and pizzas. Pam Real Thai was a budget-friendly pre-theater restaurant, where we had crispy duck and crab fried rice, which was one of the highlights of the week. Appetizers, three entrees and drinks for all (including wine) was under $90.
I also insisted on picking up some food off the street one night, for reasons both budgetary and adventurous. That’s how Bill and I ended up leaving the boys in the apartment and walking to 53rd and 6th to pick up some chicken and lamb with rice. I’d read that this particular stand had some of the best street food in the city, and I was determined to sample it. As it turned out, the line down 53rd Street was over 100 people long when we arrived, so we didn’t just “pick it up.” Bill waited for over an hour, making calls and sending emails, while I walked around the block to stave off hypothermia.
That yellow umbrella in the distance is the Holy Grail.
We bought a bottle of wine and brought it all home and chowed down.
We ordered a mixture of lamb (the darker meat) and chicken. It came with rice (it looks like cheese here) and each container had one small piece of pita bread. We also got red and white sauce. It was yummy, although I preferred the lamb to the chicken. I’d recommend that someone purchasing this also buy some pita bread. We bought four containers of chicken and rice and that fed five of us for dinner, three of us for lunch and Porter for breakfast for two days. We still had some left over. At $6 per container, it was a deal.
I may have the only boys in Alabama who are enamored with chopsticks. I cook enough Asian meals that I figured we could invest in something nicer than the wooden ones they’ve stolen from the Japanese steakhouse. That’s how we ended up at Pearl River Mart, where each boy got to pick out his own pair of chopsticks. Porter’s are light blue, and Drew’s are black with a red stripe, and I haven’t washed the others yet. We’ll be using them tonight, though, as I’m whipping up Elise’s Sweet & Sour Chicken so they’re coming in handy already.
Every trip has its pitfalls, and sadly, ours was one we had been quite excited about. Metrodad suggested dim sum at Jing Fong, and we made our way to Chinatown and gave it a go. It was the boys’ first experience with dim sum, and they found some shrimp dumplings and fish balls and pork rolls, but everything was cold and tired. I think we hit the restaurant as they were transitioning from lunch to dinner, or else we didn’t know how to order, or maybe it just really isn’t very good. However, Jing Fong had some impressive chicken feet which were apparently fried and seasoned with five-spice powder. They looked exactly like you would think chicken feet would look:
I remember hearing that maybe chicken don’t have teeth, and I guess I was thinking that meant they’re short on all kinds of bones but I’m here to tell you that’s not the case with their feet. Those toes were crunchy and after I ate one I concluded I’d had enough roughage for an entire week even though I’ll be forty-two in less than two months. On the up side, the meal gave us good reason to say “Dim sum bad eats” for the rest of the day and giggle like maniacs.
New Year’s Eve was the high point. We cooked dinner at Aunt Lulu’s and hung out with her boys, one two and one two weeks old. A cold snap had settled over the city, and Bill and the boys were determined to run in the race sponsored by Emerald Nuts at midnight at Central Park. They’ve run the last two years, when it was relatively balmy out. Cheers to Bill, Finn and Drew for running four miles at midnight with a wind chill of 6. They reported that the champagne at mile two was the consistency of a slushy. Porter and I got in bed and ate chocolate. I didn’t photograph the runners because I didn’t want to lose my shutter finger to frostbite.
And that’s it. I apologize for the inadvertent blog silence. Both computers broke, the refrigerator broke, and I cannot blog on a Blackberry. I’m back up and running now.
My article about the evolution of our traditional outing during which the boys purchase presents for each other is up at Lipstick magazine. I’m so thankful the days of toddlers running amuck at the Dollar Store are over!
Finn has succeeded in making decent grades, particularly in his Advanced Algebra class. At the start of the school year we drew up a contract with him, setting forth our expectations for his grades. The agreement stipulated that if his total GPA was above a certain number, he would be entitled to a cell phone.
This was his first year of junior high, and he had to learn to juggle numerous activities. In addition to the core curriculum he had the advanced class and two electives, Band and Spanish. He also ran cross-country every afternoon and of course kept up his once a week drum lessons. I was looking through scrapbooks recently and realized he’s on his third set of drums and fifth year of lessons– he’s well on his way to being able to replace Charlie Watts when he gives out.
Here he is with his first set of drums:
Here he is about a year or so ago doing a gut-busting drum solo:
I was positive Finn would remain phoneless. Algebra proved to be a challenge, and it revealed weaknesses in his study habits. We enlisted the help of the MasterMinds tutoring service in a last ditch effort to shore up his grades, and I’ll admit that I was snobby about the idea of tutoring, having never been tutored myself. When we got to the headquarters, however, we discovered that everyone who is anyone algebraically was being tutored, and the waiting room was a prime social hour. Plus, Finn’s tutor was much better than I was at explaining the commutative property.
So he’s entitled to a phone, and this afternoon we’re heading to Verizon to get it.
While we’ve been adamantly opposed to any technology for the kids that would take their focus away from reading and playing snipers in the front yard, I’ll admit that it will make things much easier on me once Finn is able to reach me when a practice is over, or when he has caught a ride home.
Tomorrow, for example, is not only Halloween, but also Homecoming, and Finn plans to walk from school to the village with a friend to watch the parade, then join other friends for Halloween activities, and then head to the football game. I’ll need him to check in with me and let me know where he is and who he’s with. He’s experiencing a new level of freedom, and so am I.
I’m taking the opportunity to upgrade my phone as well. I have the free phone that comes with a Verizon account. I need a phone with a QWERTY keyboard. I mainly use my phone to talk, but now I’ll be doing a small bit of texting and I’d love to be able to check all my emails and moderate blog comments from the phone as well. It would also thrill me to be able to tweet from my phone.
I’m completely flummoxed when I stand before the array of phones at the Verizon store and I figured I’d turn to y’all instead. Do I need a Blackberry, even though I’ve made fun of Bill’s addiction to his for years? Would something else like the Dare or Voyager or ENV2 be better? I’m committed to Verizon so don’t go suggesting that I get an iPhone, lovely as that sounds.
I'm Anne Glamore, wife, mother, lawyer and blogger. I have three boys, and I'm desperately trying to train them to become Southern gentlemen, but that may be an unrealistic goal. At this point I'd be ecstatic if they'd quit farting at the dinner table.
If you're new here, check out the Readers' Favorite Posts below or browse through the Categories. I write about my attempts to teach the boys about peckers and sex (which we call "making googly eyes"), my struggles with hepatitis C and spine surgery, the boys' adventures with fire and pets, my mom's death from ovarian cancer, my love of cooking (with plenty of recipes) and anything else that crosses my mind. Join me on Twitter or StumbleUpon or Email me. I'm happy to speak to your group or club.