Elwood 5566

Spider Season

Posted in Animals, Photo diary, seasons by 노강호 on November 10, 2012

Bu-gok (부곡) in late autumn with ‘Chinese’ cabbages growing in the forefront

Last Friday I travelled to Bu-gok (부곡), about 45 minutes drive outside Daegu, to practice straw cutting with my komdo teacher. The barn where we cut is on a farm and wandering around I discovered some enormous spider webs belonging to what is probably the most prolific spider in Korea, the Sorcerer or Shaman spider (mu-dang – 무당). In English it has several names including the Golden Banana Spider and Joro Spider.  Its Latin name is nephila clavata.

the farmer’s garden

The span between supports was over 2 meters

The numerous spiders on these webs were neither as large nor colourful, possibly as it is right at the end of their mating season and the end of autumn. Their webs however, were not just large, 3 meters across, but densely intertwined. The genes of the mu-dang have been used in genetically cloning silk worms in order to produce stronger silk. Only the female carries the red marking and apart from being larger than the male, she has cannibalistic tendencies after mating.

a female mu-dang (무당) spider

tightly intertwined webs

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Further References

October 2010. The Shaman Spider

October 2010. Shaman Spider Webs

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A Sunday Stroll in the Rose Park

Posted in Photo diary, plants and trees, seasons by 노강호 on May 29, 2012

Rose Parks are a regular feature in Korean cities and Daegu has several one of which is close to my one-room. From mid-spring right through until the brink of winter, the park is a mass of incredible colours and heady with the scent of roses and fresh wood-chippings.

with Warayoung Mountain as a backdrop

the strange thing held by the boy is a donut on a stick

looking towards the city

‘한빛마을’ is the apartment ‘village’ where my Kumdo school is located

wood-chip and roses

 

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Magnolia – 2012

Posted in Nature, Photo diary, plants and trees, seasons by 노강호 on May 6, 2012

One of the first indicators that spring has arrived. I actually took these photos on April 11th but a bad flu delayed my posting them. The magnolia (목련) is one of my favourites and these examples were nestled against a traditional Korean house.

First signs of spring from the magnolia

a brief beauty – 24 hours later and the petals had fallen

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Spring Blossom in Kyeong-ju

Posted in Nature, Photo diary, seasons by 노강호 on April 22, 2012

 

Kyeong-ju

 

purple crocuses with closed bloom Français : D...

purple crocuses with closed bloom Français : Des crocus violets, avec leurs fleurs fermées. Italiano: Infiorescenze chiuse di piante del genere Crocus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

‘Spring Festival’ in Cheonan, 2009

 

One of the most spectacular places for blossom is the old city of Kyeong-ju and nowhere is it more majestic than on the edges of the lake.

 

on the edge of the lake

 

the lake is home to several large hotels

 

through the blossom

 

towards Kyeong-ju city

 

close-up

 

they had the same design pleasure boats 12 years ago

 

the fountain

 

Jun-hee and Sun-hee

 

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Autumn Fruits on Winter Trees

Posted in Art, Nature, plants and trees, seasons by 노강호 on January 15, 2012

A persimmon tree in snow. (Geumsansa Temple, Gimje, Jeollabuk-do. Source – KTO)

I was recently out of the city, in Jeollanam-do, on a wintry coastline that was especially decorated with both persimmon and ginkgo trees. I’ve written numerous posts focusing on one aspect or another of persimmons and have intended over two years to write a post dedicated to the ginkgo. Seeing the ginkgo (은행) and persimmon (감) in a winter setting, when void of leaves yet still bearing their autumn fruit, evoked images of the Korean and possibly Japanese and Chinese, traditional paintings I’d seen over the years but never really appreciated. A persimmon in the depth of winter which still carries its bright orange flames of fruit, especially against a cold and bleak backdrop, is a beautiful sight. The ginkgo, though perhaps not as noticeable, nonetheless has the capacity to intrigue us with it busy array of nuts. The Ginkgo is an amazing tree which can grow to a considerable size and in autumn, with its bright yellow foliage, it is a wonderful sight.   Then there is the schizandra tree (오미자), the bright red berries of which are current feature in markets.

‘Persimmons’ by Nam Jun.

winter persimmons – unknown

a large ginkgo in summer

An autumn ginkgo

winter ginkgo

a schizandra tree in winter (오미자)

Korean traditional art

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Monday Market – Persimmons (연시 – 홍시)

Posted in Food and Drink, fruit, Monday Market (Theme), seasons by 노강호 on November 16, 2011

'yeon-shi,' one of my favourite autumn fruits

I’ve written several times about the persimmon which in Korea, like the octopus, has three different names depending characteristics. For some reason ‘3’ always seems to be associated with food though I’m sure it’s coincidence. You’re supposed to wash cabbages three times after salting and I was taught to rinse rice three times before cooking. I took this photo a month ago as the first flush of soft persimmon, known as ‘yeson-shi’, appeared in the market. I love this type of persimmon and several years ago built a stock-pile in my freezer which lasted into mid spring. Actually, I ended up so tired of them I hardly bought any the following year.  Now I want to eat them but unfortunately am restricted by my diet. However, I couldn’t resist buying some just to photograph. The first flush of yeon-shi are particularity delicate and beautiful but their colour quickly changes as autumn progresses.

very similar to the slightly larger and more heart-shaped 'hong-shi.'

persimmons hanging on local trees

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Related articles

The Intricacies of Persimmon (Bathhouse Ballads Nov 2010)

Interlude – Soft Persimmons (Bathhouse Ballads Oct 2010)

They mystery of the persimmons (militaryzerowaste.wordpress.com)

It’s Kimchi Time – Killing the Kimchi

Posted in Food and Drink, it's kimchi time, seasons by 노강호 on November 9, 2011

Over the years I’ve had several temper tantrums which have resulted in my wrecking some valuable possessions. I’m not ashamed as I usually only ever lose my temper with objects, this being preferable to losing it with people, and the tantrum is never public. That I will talk to inanimate objects during a tantrum certainly curtails where they occur. The catalogue of damages is extensive: I’ve axe kicked a television, stabbed a pair of Japanese sai into a DVD player, wrapped a Gemeinhardt flute around the leg of a table, kicked to death a hard-drive that was being lazy and a thumped a laptop which used the Vista system. Let’s face it! Microsoft’s Vista deserved a more humiliating and public demise and after being forced to spend around £120 to purchase the latest Word package (it wouldn’t work with earlier ones), I am totally in favour of pirating anything Microsoft.  I remember the days before Gates got totally greedy, when Word was a standard part of the Windows operating system. But I’m digressing…

Sun-hee. My kimchi guru

Recently however, I’ve taken my tantrums out on kimchi that hasn’t wilted properly when doused with salt. A few weeks ago a cabbage that refused to wilt was given a stern talking to before being savagely torn to shreds. This weekend I got so annoyed with a badly behaved Napa that I ripped it apart and then cursing, dumped half a sack of salt on the remains. I realised, as about 4 kilograms of salt was burying the cabbage, that this was overkill and such a quantity was likely create a meltdown rather than encourage some wilting but in the heat of the monent all rationality evaporates. Later in the day, I met some friends who taking pity on my endeavours, came to my one room armed with two large cabbages and a new bag of salt.

preparing cabbages for salting

There is no doubt that salting cabbage is the most problematic part of the kimchi making and yet in so many recipes the process is treated with such abandon you’d think a cabbage liable to wilt the moment the salt is brought into the same room. For the last few months I’ve made kimchi every weekend making small amendments to the previous week’s recipe or trying entirely different ones. This weekend I’d tried a recipe from a very well-known western chef who soaked his cabbages in water in which two cups of salt had been dissolved. Unfortunately, despite using the correct type of salt, the cabbages were fresher after twenty-four hours soaking than they were when I’d immersed them. The problems of salting are well documented on sites such as Maangchi where there are numerous comments on both inadequate wilting and excessively salty kimchi.

The most effective wilting method I’ve used is rubbing coarse salt into each leaf  and while this produces the quickest response, the process is tedious. Coarse salt, such as Kosher or sea salt are  imperative as a Napa cabbage (Chinese cabbage), is impervious to even the largest quantities of table salt. I usually make kimchi with quartered cabbages whereas Sun-hee’s chopped one large cabbage, around 1 kilogram, before folding  3/4 of a cup of coarse salt through it. Rather than grate mooli (무)  as I usually do, she then added about 2 cups cubed. After tossing the mixture, it was firmly pressed down and left to stand over night. I was then instructed to ‘stir’ it in the morning and leave it for a further hour after-which it was to be washed three times.  Not only was this salting process superior to other methods I’ve used, but it used less salt. Consequently, the taste of the prepared cabbage wasn’t salty which meant the actual saltness could be easily controlled by how much ‘fish sauce’ was added in the final part of the paste making process.

Chun-hee and Sun-hee. Spot the makeolli!

I’ve also discovered that using dried chillies to make you own pepper powder (고추 가루) can be problematic. The dried chillies I bought are slightly smaller than the ones I usually see and are thus hotter. Consequently much less is required to make kimchi paste. I recently used only half a cup powder for one large cabbage (1kg). While my latest kimchi is tasty it has lost the vigorous, rich red colour and I intend to return shop bought chili powder in the future.

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Park Life

Posted in Photo diary, seasons, Sport, video clips by 노강호 on July 24, 2011

I visited Warayong Park, Song-so, a few weeks ago.

Saturday afternoon in Warayong Park

soap making stall

frienship bracelet making stall

escaping the sun under the arbors (정자)

giant swing

6 week old baby girl

cute

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Arrival of the Memi 2011

Posted in Animals, Nature, seasons, video clips by 노강호 on July 18, 2011

memi (매미 – cicadas) are more colourful in flight

Has the weather been a little strange? Until a few days ago, especially with the arrival of the boknal period, on July 14th, it hadn’t been particularly unpleasant and as I haven’t lived in Korea long enough to notice changing weather patterns, less the fact that copious hours sat in steam rooms and the number of years I have spent here, may have resulted in my being somewhat acclimatised, I haven’t really being splashing sweat all over the place.

Last year, I heard the first memi (매미 – cicadas) on July 22nd. Of course, this is not the first memi to sing in Daegu per-se, but the first I heard and I am consistent at standing in a small park everyday in the lead up to their appearance. Last year, the temperature was scorching as I heard what was actually a solitary song. This week, on July 14th, it seems cooler, though certainly above the memi song threshold of 29 degrees Celsius, and I heard my first song for 2011 and it was a full, if somewhat half-hearted chorus.

Memi song can damage your hearing and I advise you to turn down your volume if you activate the video!

The memi will continue to sing into the hanyeoreum (한여름) period, which occurs in August and by which time the rainy has fully moved north and the evenings are hot a balmy. The chang-ma (장마) rain reappears in early September, only for a few weeks after which the memi song will gradually fade away as the temperature decreases.

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Beating Boknal (4) 2011

Posted in Food and Drink, Health care, seasons by 노강호 on July 10, 2011

Boknal (복날) is coming!

The hottest period of Korean weather will begin in mid-July when the chang-ma (장마 – monsoon season) has begun to move north towards  Manchuria. The hottest period, lasting 2o days, known as boknal (복날), begins on ch’obok (초복) which this year is July 14th. 10 days later is chung-bok ( 중복 – July 24th) followed another 10 days later by mal-bok (말복 – August 3rd). The three days, ch’o, chung and mal, (초, 중, 말) are known as sambok (삼복), ‘sam’ being the Sino-Korean for ‘three.’

Two add confusion, there is Hanyorum (or hanyeoreum, 한여름) which is basically ‘midsummer’ and this begins once the chang-ma (monsoon) has fully moved north. Hanyorum, usually in August, is typified by hot days and balmy evenings. Though the monsoon has gone, it is still humid but perhaps I notice it more being British.

Boknal is supposed to be uncomfortable but personally, I find the humid monsoon season just as horrid. I suppose with boknal you know the end of summer is in sight.

Ways to beat boknal – or at least make it bearable:

sleep with a ‘wooden wife’ – she’ll only cost you about 10.000 Won and apart from being lazy she’s totally mute!

Korean teas, chilled are wonderfully refreshing if not a little ‘just’ in terms of taste.

iced coffee

wear silver summer trousers – I’ve heard the material these suits and trousers are made  sometimes called ‘kal-ch’i (갈치) after the silver cutlass fish seen in markets. I’ve had two pairs of these made and they lower body heat considerably.

brilliant at lowering body temperature

handkerchiefs and towels – in cheapo ‘dollar shops’ you can buy handkerchiefs for about 1000 Won. I usually find Koreans regard sweat almost as nasty as urine – which is basically what it is!

ice rooms and cold pools –  a brilliant way to cool down.

cold showers – pretty obvious, really.

hand fans – plenty to choose from

Then there are a range of foods for combating heat  known as bo-yang-shik (보양식). Fight heat with heat (이열치열); Ginseng chicken, and stews including dog stew (보신탕), are the foods typically eaten on three days marking boknal and chicken ginseng is a big favourite right through summer.

Alternatively, fight heat with cold and cool down with patpingsu (받빙수),  naeng myeon (cold noodles) and plenty of water melon.

Green tea patpingsu

Chill out in one of the numerous cheong-cha (arbors – 정자), they are great at capturing what little breeze is in the air.

Best of all, get naked and lie in the blast of the air-con!

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