Think I’ll Pack It In…

It’s pretty rare these days that I get a chance to get out and explore, wandering around taking pictures with little sense of time constraint. I lucked out today though, having a random day off while the rest of my family had work/school, so I jumped in the car and I knew right where I wanted to go.

Last week, as some of you know, I went with Ray and the rest of his nursery school on a trip to the dinosaur museum in neighboring Fukui Prefecture. Ray had been talking up the trip for weeks leading up to it, and it was a spectacular day. The museum is of some repute, so I was looking forward to seeing at well. About 10 steps through the door Ray saw something that freaked him out, and that set the tone — 20 minutes later we were wandering around outside the museum, which was no less intimidating with its numerous dinosaur statues littering the grounds. So that trip was a complete failure aside from the fact that the bus took us through the mountains with some spectacular views of along the reservoir behind the Tedori Dam.

So that’s where I headed today. I was tempted to go back to the dinosaur museum to properly check it out sans hysterical son, but I had other designs on how to use my free time today and didn’t want to squander it all driving around the hills and back roads of Ishikawa. It is sweet that within 30 minutes of the unsightly sprawl of Kanazawa we have this kind of natural landscape (of course, it is a manmade reservoir…but we do have all these mountains).

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There were some promising nooks, crannies, and dirt roads that I passed on today, leaving them for next time I stumble upon a free day — good to have some fresh territory the next time I’m able to get out and about.

Back again soon with pictures of my adorable children. Enjoy the respite!

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Garden 2013

I went to the home center yesterday, and 7000 yen later I had a boatload of plants and a fancy new mallet for pounding in stakes. I planted and staked everything yesterday afternoon, and this afternoon set up the nets for the cucumbers to climb (always a confusing exercise for me).

I share the garden with a few other people. My section consists of the first four rows next to the rice paddy.

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I still have one row completely unplanted. I have some carrot seeds to plant there, and when I find a place selling habanero plants I’ll get a few of those, too. Last year I planted potatoes but am foregoing them this year. They are a pain in the butt, got attacked by slugs, are labor intensive (not that that’s really an issue), and I don’t even like taters that much to begin with.

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Here’s a view from the opposite end of the garden. You can see my garlic in the corner. I’ve tried to grow garlic a few times, but this year’s crop looks to be better than any of my previous attempts. I also have some red onions behind the garlic, but the old farmer who tills my soil for me also ran over have of my onion patch with his tractor a few weeks ago, so my harvest will be minimal.

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Here’s a run down of what I planted:

4 green pepper plants
3 red pepper plants
2 Japanese (small) eggplant plants
2 American (big and fat) eggplant plants
1 white eggplant plant (never seen a white eggplant)
5 large tomato plants
4 mini-tomato plants (2 yellow and 2 sweet)
3 okra plants (for my family, I don’t touch the stuff)
3 red chili pepper plants
4 cucumber plants
1 zucchini plant
1 seed pack of snap peas (I think that’s what they are called in English)
2 seed packs of corn (maybe 50 ears if none of them die)

I think this is the most I’ve ever planted, and I still have a bunch of room. I’ll also gain more space in a few weeks when I harvest the garlic and onions. Last year I grew kabocha squash but am giving it a pass this year. Anyway, I’d say I have a good start. Here’s to warm sunny days and no crazy weather until my veggies have set their roots.

Of Gardens and Children

I’ll give you one guess regarding what this post will be about!

But be thankful you’re getting anything on this blog from me! (The other thing I vowed to do, to myself at least, is to not open every infrequent post with a statement about how long it’s been since I last posted.)

Anyway, it’s all been hitting the fan here recently so this will be a quick recap.

So what’s new? I don’t know. Probably nothing but things are very blurry and happening very fast and often frustratingly. But today was a good day. We’ve just kicked off the 4-day weekend known as Golden Week in Japan. It was a long, horribly shitty weather-wise runup to spring, which I guardedly say has begun, maybe, but the sun is shining even if it isn’t that warm. Ray and I had a picnic at our land, which I wrote a big long post about on my other blog if you haven’t read it already.

We then came home and I prepped my garden. As per tradition, if you can call 4 years tradition, I plant my garden over the Golden Week holiday. Then, as per tradition, we get some crazy ass rain and wind that beats half my fledgling crop within an inch of its life or just plain washes it right out of the ground, and I wonder I planted everything so early. I was waiting/hoping/dropping hints for the old farmer dude to bring his tiller over and thrash up my soil for me as he’s done the past four years, and finally he did so last weekend. It promptly rained the next day and packed down all that nice fluffy dirt, but it wasn’t too bad when I went in today to form the beds. I still small plots of garlic and red onions growing from the winter (yeah bad breath!), but I was able to carve out four beds as opposed to the three I had last year. The results (if you haven’t seen them on Facebook, Twitter, or my other blog….WTF??):

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I also had the foresight to get in and dig a trench along the far right edge of my garden once I saw the owner of the rice paddy next door getting ready to flood it. Last year, despite is lame attempt at patching the decades-old concrete wall that sort of retains his paddy, it leaked into my garden and turned the entire right side into a muddy, root-rotting mess that never really recovered. When I churned up the soil today it seemed to be as dry as the rest of the garden, so well done Casey! I’m planning on buying and planting a slew of vegetable tomorrow or the next day and getting them planted before the holiday is out.

After getting the garden square away I pried the iPad out of Ray’s claws and took him for a bike ride. I wanted take a picture of his and Leo’s new school, and here you go:

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I’d always like the looks of this school — it looks so quaint and picturesque with the mountains in the background and the (yet to be flooded) rice paddies in front. When i came time to choose a new school I jumped on this one. It’s cute and 3 minutes from our house. But we were spoiled by Ray’s previous daycare which was located at my school. They were so accommodating and flexible (is that redundant?), and this place is just a pain in the butt in comparison. The good news is that the boys will only be going there until we move in the fall/early winter.

I’m running out of steam (and wine) here…what else did I want to say?
Ah, the children, of course.
Ray is a lovely boy. Really lovely, and sweet, and kind. And he wakes up and talks non-stop up until about 30 second before he falls asleep at night. That’s sort of been bugging me. But he’s a lovely boy and tells me he loves me about 1,000 times a day, which is nice. Here is in the woods today after our picnic:

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And Leo, he’s also adorable and can’t talk yet, which is also kind of nice right now. But he has an ear infection and massive fever, which is good since it makes him sleep a lot but of course it’s not good at all. He’s walking around now and getting into everything. I thought after raising Ray we had adequately addressed things that could be ‘gotten into,’ but here we are with Leo sucking on deodorant and eating 100 yen coins off the floor. So here’s Leo, fresh off a fever dream this afternoon (the hair’s making a comeback):

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OK, between this massive outpouring and updating the house blog I’ve done more writing tonight than I have for six months — that feels good. Hope all of you Japaners are enjoying Golden Week and the rest of you have a lovely weekend.