Partial Eclipse of the Farm

We had a pretty good eclipse here on Monday. Leading up to the event I hadn’t realized that it was going to be such a big deal, but it was pretty cool. The best eclipse viewing was over in Tokyo — i.e., that where you could see the complete ring of sun behind the moon. Here in western Japan we didn’t get the total ring, but it was still very evident that there was an eclipse going on.

Photographic evidence:

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The light was really cool, and I was happy to have a bit of extra time in the morning to be able to hang around outside appreciating the odd light. My neighbors had a pair of eclipse glasses as well which they let me use to take a look at the sun. Celestial events are cool.

Aside from that excitement, Ray and I took the train into town over the weekend to go eat some yakitori and swill some sake in celebration of a friend’s birthday. Ray is at the age where he is into the train, so he jumps at the opportunity to ride it (and cries when we have to get off).

We had a few moments to spare on the way home so took some pictures in the tiny little train station.

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Maybe I’ll get some pictures of that other kid up here soon.

We’re going to the zoo this weekend with all the (5) kids from Ray’s daycare on Saturday. Cute kids and caged animals — recipe for fun? We’ll find out.

But right now I am about to fall down face first with exhaustion. Chieko took Ray to the grocery store and Leo is passed out. I’ll enjoy the sweet, sweet silence. Until next time…

This Is Living

How lame has my life become that I’m now blogging about flowers that the 75-year-old neighborhood ladies grow?

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To get to my garden, I have to cut through the communal garden behind our house (couldn’t get any space there!). It’s the extent of my activity these days aside from working — a stroll over to my patch to see if anything is growing or dying yet, or if anything is left at all after the nightly deluges that we’ve been experiencing the last few days.

On that note, some things are sprouting, others are withering. I’ll even the scales this weekend.

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The old folks’ gardens are further along than mine. They have nothing but time on their hands to tend to the soil, and loads more experience coaxing things out of the ground than me. And they’ve got some great flowers — definitely the most thriving thing in this early spring.

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By the time the veggies are raging, the flowers will be long gone. But they’re something pretty to look at while waiting for the delicious stuff to come along.

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Things are otherwise chaotic but well around here. The reality of having two children has been ruffling my feathers a bit the past few days. As feared, Ray is becoming a bit more needy now that there aren’t a bunch of grandparents around to occupy him. I’m trying to be patient. Trying. Leo cries 23 hours a day, which doesn’t help matters. But we’ll get a routine going and things will smooth out. Don’t let my tone cloud the fact that I am incredibly freakin happy with my life right now. Wouldn’t trade it for a thing.

I have a bunch of yard/garden related stuff I am looking forward to doing over the weekend, and the weather is supposed to be beautiful. So to that I raise my amply filled glass of wine. Happy Friday!

Garden 2012

Despite some crappy weather last weekend, I did manage to get my garden planted with help from my dad. The weather promptly got cold and rainy, but so far everything seems to be toughing out the iffy conditions. What the hell happened to spring?

The first two years after we moved into this house, I kept the garden in our small-but-sufficient-for-a-home garden yard. Last year one of my older neighbors, apparently after observing my previous efforts, offered to introduce me to another neighbor who could lend me a larger plot. I was all in for that.

So apparently the plot is mine in perpetuity, which is fine with me. It’s situated across the street from our house, and is in a reclaimed rice paddy that about 5 other people — all at least twice my age — are using. This year I actually inherited a little more land; I’ll be curious to see if it’s still mine next spring.

The old people are awesome, for the most part. They are quick to offer advice (which can get a bit old — I do like to make my own mistakes on occasion), and quicker to give me fresh produce, and have been known from time to time to take care of fertilizing or other maintenance-related issues that I am either too busy or too ignorant to take care of. And it always boosts my confidence in my Japanese ability when I can actually carry out a conversation with them and actually understand what the hell they are saying. Old Japanese people are generally the most willing to strike up a conversation with a foreigner, but they are also the most difficult people to understand — their pronunciation is garbled and they tend to speak local dialects with thick accents.

The only downfall to this particular garden space is that it’s located next to a well traveled sidewalk, and everyone passing by tends to take notice of the handsome gaijin toiling away among the old Japanese people. There are some regulars who I have become friendly with, but there are also troops of elementary school children walking/gawking by, socially inept dog walkers who stare but can’t return a ‘konichiwa,’ and rubbernecking motorists. I sometimes feel like a zoo exhibit, but all the homegrown produce is worth it, and the friendly people far outnumber the ones who get on my nerves. I will, however, be relieved when things start growing and I can hunker down behind some tomato plants when all the school skids are going by.

Anyway, enough blabbering on. Here’s the setup — I have the three rows in the picture below, and they extend as far back as the black vinyl on the right. That particular row is wicked muddy because the rice paddy next to the garden is leaking water. I tried to plant water-loving veggies in that row and so far nothing is dead, so fingers crossed there.

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Right row — eggplant (3), green pepper/piman (3), red pepper/paprika (3), okra (2), habanero pepper (1), red chili pepper/togarashi (2)

Middle row — potatoes (a shitload), some weird pepper that I can’t remember the name of (1), mini tomoatoes (3)

Left row — corn (kernels), beans (from seed), cucumber (2 — even though they always die), regular tomatoes (4)

Back row — pumpkin/kabocha (2)

I had some extra bean and corn seed which I planted in our yard, along with some planters of basil. Can never have too much basil. I’ve also started a compost pile, but may have to bury it if it gets stinky. So far, so good.

If everything produces we will be giving away a lot of fresh veggies this summer.

Last year I made the mistake of planting a ‘long’ varitey of eggplant, and also planting 4 seedlings of it. They produced foot-long eggplants by the dozen and I was tired of eating them by July. I couldn’t give them away fast enough. This year I took special care to get regular little Japanese eggplants, and planted less of them. Probably too many still, but should be easier to get rid of.

OK, time to shut it down here. Have to get up early tomorrow morning with all the other men of the neighborhood, break out the fire hoses, and clean the drainage gutters in the neighborhood. Good times. Enjoy the weekend.

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Crazy Eyes Bean

I haven’t had time to blog recently since my parents were here and we were busy getting drunk with the neighbors most of the time. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been chronicling major life events by other means. I did manage to dust off the camera and take a bunch of pictures of Leo on his 1 month birthday (which was a week ago).

He still has that bewildered look most of time. Hopefully it’ll go away at some point.

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We’ve had a lot of help from both Chieko’s parents and mine since Leo was born, but now that my folks have left we are on our own. Part of me is happy that we can resume our normal life (although the definition of that has changed substantially), but another part of me is also a bit intimidated by the prospect of having two kids now. I’m sure we’ll figure it out, though. We certainly aren’t the first people in this situation.

Don’t look for a whole of action around here over the few weeks, and what activity there is will likely be baby oriented…so if that’s not your thang, you might want to give me a few months!

Be well.