The State of Things

If you’ve been wondering how our garden is doing, then you’re going to love this post.  Production is slowing down quite a bit lately, though since this is the first garden I’ve had, I’m not sure when it will cease altogether.  After tilling up some beds today in preparation for some winter crops, I took a bunch of pictures of what we have growing.  Here’s a shot of the whole operation, as it stands.

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Our eggplants have slowed down substantially, and I think I heard that if we cut them back we can extend the harvest further into the fall.  I’m not sure why, but our plants are bit smaller than the ones other people are growing in the neighborhood.

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Tomatoes, both mini and normal, are still going strong, and we’ve got quite an overstock in the fridge.

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Chieko’s okra plant is also doing very well.  I’m not a fan, so she gets to eat it all.

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Our green pepper plants started off the season very slowly, but are churning out veggies with lots of buds still on standby. 

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This is a shiso bush.  I’ve heard it called Japanese basil, but it really tastes nothing like basil.  This is another crop that Chieko has pretty much to herself.  I don’t mind it, but I don’t really know how to use it in cooking.

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The asparagus, whose roots I inadvertently ripped up in the spring, is going nuts.  We decided to let it run rampant and spread it’s roots again, but now it’s getting in the way.  I don’t know who planted this originally (it was here when we moved in), but I question why they decided to plant it a) under a hedge, b) right outside the slider, and c) in the middle of the walkway.

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Yeah basil.  My transplant a few weeks ago worked really well, and now all parties are flourishing.  We’re going to try and move these into the sunroom for the winter and see if we can keep up a steady supply of this awesome herb.

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The poor cucumbers; they never quite recovered from their brush with death at the beginning of the summer.  We had a really windy, dry night, and the next day the plants were almost dead.  I think since then we’ve harvested about 4 or 5 cukes, all of which were kind of strange looking.  The foliage eventually came back, but any new fruit would die almost instantly.  I clipped what will probably be the last cucumber today, so I’ll probably rip these things out pretty soon.  Next spring I’ll try a different spot in the yard.

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Lastly, our thriving pepper plants.  The red peppers are doing great, and we have a bush full of habaneros waiting to ripen as well.  I only been able to harvest one habanero pepper so far, and used it to spice up a batch of chili.  These, along with basil, are two things I’m glad I’ve been able to produce myself.

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So that’s it — not to bad for the first time around.  I’ve been keeping a tally of what we harvest each day, and I’m looking forward to adding up the results once everything dies.  This has been a great learning experience, and I’m already looking forward to tweaking, and hopefully improving, things next time around.

This evening we’re sitting around watching the results of todays election as they trickle in.  After nearly 50 years in power, Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party is about to get shown the door in a major way.  It’ll be interesting to see if the new sheriff makes any substantial changes.

Back to work tomorrow.  Bleck.

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Hustle and Bustle

I made a rare venture into the metropolis that is downtown Kanazawa today to meet up with some friends and spend some time enjoying beer, frisbee, guitars, and sun in city’s parks.  Bless you Japan, and your complete acceptance of public consumption of alcohol.  The only downside was when a slightly batty old lady came over to make sure we were going to clean up our beer cans and other debris, and in so doing squat down and wholly unnecessarily exposed all that I could have died happily without seeing.

 After a while we made our way down to the river.  When we got there I noticed a group of high school kids on the opposite bank lounging in the evening sun.  My singing and strumming were apparently loud enough for them to hear, because they made their way over to our side and were not shy about coming in for a listen.  It was pretty cool, even though they had no idea what I was saying.

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Sadly, there’s no denying or delaying the fact that my summer vacation is pretty much over.  I’ve got one last day tomorrow to sleep in, enjoy the Red Sox, tinker in the yard, and do whatever else strikes my fancy without the prospect of work looming over me.  I should probably wash the car, too.

Ride, Ride, Ride

I took a nice long bike ride this afternoon on the levee road that runs, naturally, along the river.  I had notions of making it all the way out to the ocean, but when I started feeling rain drops I shifted into the lowest of my 3 gears and high tailed it back towards home.  I only took a few pictures along the way.  There were a lot of guys down in the river fishing with their mega-long fishing rods, but I didn’t get any pics of them.  

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Aside from getting a bit of exercise, the main thing I took from today’s ride was the realization that I really NEED a remote controlled, tank like, police light equipped lawn mower.  Chieko balked when I mentioned getting a weed whacker, so I’m not sure how this will go over.  I really should have gotten more close up pics of this beast, as well as its operator, but I was a bit self conscious about getting too close.

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And speaking of my lovely wife, today is her birthday.  We had an amazing dinner this evening, followed by a nice walk around the rice paddies.  Happy birthday baby.  The rest of you, enjoy the weekend.

Fallready?

It’s hard to say fall is in the air when the days are still perfectly warm and summery, and I spend afternoons on the beach and among the waves, but fall is definitely in the air.  There’s something about the cool, comfortable nights, and the hot but comfortable and dry days, and the fact that the ‘fall’ semester is about to start at school, are all combining to signal change is underway.

But I’m still clinging to summer/vacation, so I spent a few hours in the sand this afternoon catching up on my pre-fatherhood reading.  The book I’m (sort of) reading goes through the pregnancy month by month, and I was a month or two behind schedule.  I think I’m roughly caught up to where Chieko is now.  I don’t know, I keep waiting to get steamrolled by the reality of the fact that I’m about to become a father, but it hasn’t happened so far.  I’ll be sure to chronicle it all here if and when I do freak out!

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When I got home from the beach all the old people who maintain the garden behind our house were burning down the neighborhood.  Another sign that fall is imminent is the prepping of all the gardens for the fall crop.  

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They’ve had tractors and roto-tillers going at absurd hours of the morning all week getting beds ready, and today they were all about fire.  My preparations have been far more modest.  I’m not going to go too crazy with fall veggies, just broccoli, onions, and a buttload of garlic.  I cleaned up a few beds the other day and tilled them by hand, added some nice compost from Chieko’s parents, and sprinkled some lime on top.  I’ll put some things in the ground in the next week or two.  I bought onion seeds, but I’m not sure if that’s the best way to go or not.  I want red onions, and they only sell bulbs for normal, white onions at the place I went.  I’ll take advice on growing onions from anyone who has some.

So that’s about it from here.  Chieko arrived back home from Tokyo without incident, and is currently passed out on the floor in the tatami room.  She had a busy two days for a pregnant lady.  I’m OK though, in case you were concerned.

Chieko Goes to Tokyo

I took Chieko to the airport this morning so she could fly to Tokyo.  She’s attending a teaching seminar there, and will be back tomorrow evening.  I always jump at the chance to get to any airport and geek out at the airplanes, and this was as good an excuse as any.  After bidding her farewell as she went through security, I headed up to the observation deck to check out Komatsu Airport’s minimal action.  

Komatsu has a kind of rush out in the morning, when a handful of flights leave for/come from Tokyo, and then it’s dead most of the day until the evening, when another couple of flights come and go.  There’s also a wing of the Japanese air force stationed there, which is great for hot F-15 action.

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People always talk about how great the service in Japan is, and it’s true.  I hate going back to America and dealing with the shit service there (sorry about the language but really, that’s what it is), where I feel put out by people as I try to give them my money.  One reflection of this customer-oriented attitude, which if you’ve ever been to a Japanese airport you probably noticed, is that the ground crew always waves goodbye to the departing jet passengers.  It’s a little dorky, but I’ll take it over the American system, where airport workers show their appreciation by beating the crap out of your luggage.  Sorry the pic is a bit small, but you can blow it up and see the two dudes waving away.

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Another difference between airports in America versus Japan is the aircraft they use.  When I flew from Boston to Los Angeles, we used a Boeing 757, which is not a huge airplane.  When I flew back, it was and Airbus A320, which is a tiny plane for such a long flight.  It takes about an hour to fly from Kanazawa to Tokyo, and what do they use a giant Boeing 747.  Of course, they are ferrying as many people as possible, so this aircraft makes a lot of sense.  But I always find it funny that they use such a huge aircraft for a very short flight, while American airlines only use it for international flights.  Over analysis?  Airplane geekery?

Here’s Chieko’s big jet about to taxi with a pair of F-15’s taking off behind it.  You know it’s awesome.

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I have to report back to work for a meeting on Friday, and we start summer classes next Monday.  My meeting is in the morning, but I’ll probably spend the whole day at work getting ready for classes, so I can enjoy the weekend.  Our summer classes run for about 2 1/2 weeks, after which we’ll have a week or so off before the fall semester starts, after which I’ll have a baby and my life of leisure will come to a screeching halt.  So I’m milking these last few days for all their worth — beach, wine, sleep, beer, food, the gym, gardening, peace and quiet.  

I thought I’d have more to post about during my vacation, but nothing other than maximum indulgence in that list above has been going on, and it’s really not that interesting.  

Hope all is well with whoever you are, wherever you may be.