Autumn grasses and the end of Sukkot

The autumn is still slowly trickling in. It never seems to be in a hurry to arrive. Being that it is my favorite season I love how it creeps in slowly over several months allowing me time to savor each small change. Slowly building up to its full glory!

October 4th was the beginning of Sukkot – the most joyous of Biblical holiday feasts lasting a week. I built our sukka in the engawa in front of the screen doors so that we could enjoy the moon, garden and listening to the sounds of autumn crickets.

I used a hodgepodge of materials to create it! We have no space outside to build a sukka and besides the mosquitoes are still out in droves. So are keimushi and mukade- you don’t want to tangle with either of those.

No, an indoor sukka was much better for us.

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner on the first night and we also camped out that night in the sukka. We had an awesome view of the harvest moon while we ate!

Yesterday at sunset sukkot ended and I had time this afternoon to take everything down. I was a bit sad pulling everything apart but tomorrow is Friday and the Shabbat will be upon us at sunset!

Wednesday afternoon I visited a friend, an elderly widow who crashed on her scooter and has been in hospital for a while now. She was quite genki when I saw her and told me although she quit riding scooters- she bought a motorized bicycle! Good grief! She’s 78 and I get so concerned about her riding around town on scooters and bicycles!

I have been studying about video production. I’m really not very good at making videos but ….there is hope because I believe with practice I can produce a a half way decent video

We are getting excited about December. We’ll be going to Saipan for a couple of weeks to spend time with our kids and grandkids who we have not seen for almost 3 years! Way too long. We decided that we just really needed to make this happen even though we didn’t have a clue as to how we were going to swing it financially. Truth is God totally provided the money for the trip and more. We were not expecting the blessing we received.

This is a bit of a smorgasbord post but it’s been hectic and with the sukkot holidays I’ve been focusing on other things. Blogging had to wait!

My YouTube Channel

Well…I have found that the best way to share videos on my blog was through YouTube. I tried to share videos through Flickr -where I host my photos but it doesn’t work very well.

YouTube seems to work better.

This is a funny little video that I made while I was testing my new Apeman sports action camera. The quality of this video isn’t very good -not because of the camera but because I used a free video editing software that was poor quality. The software is called Videopad. I uninstalled it. It really distorts the video quality.

So…the video is what it is….sorry.

Right now my channel is basically so that I can share videos on my blog but who knows where it will go in the future.

Officially Autumn-The Season of Harvest

Have you ever wondered why this season has two names? Me too. I found an article about it HERE. 

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Saturday was officially the first day of autumn. Despite predictions of the end of the world, we survived and I took an afternoon walk to capture the beauty that is just beginning to unfurl around us.

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Higanbana (red spider lily) are blooming everywhere. The signature flowers of autumn. Their bright red contrasted against the now golden rice fields is wonderfully pleasant to behold.

The scent of autumn permeated each step I took. Rice plants give off a woodsy, grainy, rustic aroma when they are ready for harvest. It is akin to cut hay, cedar or the forest floor. Those heady natural scents that are so comforting.

With rice fields everywhere we are bathed in this lovely scent. What a wonderful gift from our creator-this continual creation of beauty on so many levels that we can’t even begin to fathom it.

I watched as autumn insects hopped from stalk to stalk. As they lumbered from bloom to bloom and crept along leaves. The bees, it seemed. were still busy.

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Hubby bought me a sports action camera that is just like a GoPro but far less expensive. I’m just starting to practice with it. Below is a little video of the rice fields. Click on it to view.

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There is a little path that runs along the irrigation creek and I saw that there were patches of wildflowers growing there so I made a little video for you with my new “toy”. Below is a little video of the creek-click on it to view.

I also had my camera with me and took still photos. I can take stills with my little action camera but I prefer my Canon for stills.

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And the gardens! I love the autumn gardens as much as I love the spring gardens. Lovely compost heaps of decaying leftovers-withered daikon, eggplant stalks and more returning their nutrients to the soil from which they grew.

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I am just in love with the Japanese gardening style. They have their own way of cottage gardening combining vegetables and flowers in harmony.

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The gardeners are still busy planting winter vegetables and harvesting late summer crops.

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There were still some sunflowers in bloom. Generally sunflowers are a summer flower in Japan. At least I think these are sunflowers-not sure actually. They stood so beautifully in front of this gate and I could see a huge cluster of them inside-beyond the gate.

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On the walk home I passed by one of my favorite old farmhouses. The garden and the way the house looks reminds me of a storybook garden in a children’s book I read some years ago.

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The persimmons were ripe and I could see that the birds had already helped themselves.

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The first day of autumn wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the farmer’s market. I really wanted to say hello to my friends and see all the wonderful seasonal produce.

It is a blessing to be able to eat according to the seasons. We have a wealth of awesome produce available year-round. My health has never been better since moving to Japan and eating clean. My diet is plant and fish based. Occasionally (rarely) I eat a little beef but no pork, shrimp or other kinds of seafood. I eat a Biblical based diet and the results in my health since I have been eating this way are awesome.

I have a blast at the farmer’s market!

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KABOCHA
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A beautiful arrangement of rice, soy and red beans.

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Figs below…

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Pictured below: chestnuts and grapes

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So here we go-into the autumn season and all the wonderful things it has to offer!

What’s up at Mrs. N’s house?

The past two weeks or whenever I last wrote a blog post…we have meandered into autumn here.

The temps are finally aligning with the season. Sitting here at my little writing desk that overlooks my garden and the valley beyond I’ve got the engawa doors rolled wide open and  I feel a bit chilly. Wonderful! I don’t know what it is about that first autumn chill that seems so comforting and cozy but I just love it.

We are keeping an eye on a typhoon that seems to be headed our way. Although typhoons in this part of the world are normal-we have been fortunate so far that we have not had anything beyond what we in Saipan call a “banana typhoon”.

For those that don’t know- hubby and I spent the greater part of our lives living on the small and remote island of Saipan. It is where our children and most of our grandchildren were born. About half the clan still lives there.

Saipan-The Most Beautiful Island You’ve Never Heard Of

Anyway-“banana typhoons” are only strong enough to blow over the banana trees-which aren’t difficult to blow over. A real typhoon to us is one with sustained winds of about 90 MPH with gusts over 100 MPH. A typhoon like that will give you a run for your money. Strongest one I’ve ever experienced was Super Typhoon Kim in 1986-winds were clocked at over 220 mph. Knocked us flat. No power or water for 4 months. Most places on island went longer.

At any rate-I spent the past few days texting back and forth with my best friend who lives in Florida-before and after that terrible hurricane they just had. Praising God that they were alright even though the eye passed right over them. My other very good friend also lives there-in FT. Meyers, They were also ok even though there was destruction all around them. I attribute that to all the praying we did. That took up pretty much most of my time these past few days.

Of course the daily chores still got done.The cooking can’t stop.

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Hubby’s daily breakfast and lunch bento-plus the aftermath….

I got some baking done. I don’t like to bake during the hot months. Without air-conditioning in the kitchen it gets way too hot.

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Speaking of air-conditioning I was watching some US news on YouTube and the reporter said-“we still don’t know when electricity will be on so that we can use basic services like air-conditioning”. I thought….good grief…seriously air-conditioning a basic service? Most of the rest of the world lives without it. All of the tough years living on Saipan taught me so much. I am so thankful. I don’t need much to survive and be content.

I also got the tatami cleaned. Everything was moved out of the way and I vacuumed every inch slowly to make sure it got a good cleaning. It is really important to maintain your tatami mats in order to avoid “dani”-dust mites that love to take up residence in your mats. They bite kind of like fleas do. I didn’t know about them when we first moved to Japan but I found out. I am clean but now I’m super clean. You have to be diligent in-order to keep the millions of bugs away. Japan has more insects than I have ever seen.

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Our little dog -Chibi managed to snore though all of the vacuuming.

I also managed to knock off a crochet scarf during the evenings. I’ve got three more projects I am working on but took a break to produce something “quick”.

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Sometimes when I have bigger projects I am working on I like to stop and set them aside and make something that I can finish in a jiffy. Why? I don’t know-I think it’s because of the need to see the finished product…

With autumn comes moon viewing, a popular custom in Japan. I was outside about a week ago when the moon was full and took an autumn moon photo. The moon was actually huge and it was so lovely to stand in the cool night air listening to the crickets chirp while looking for the “rabbit on the moon”. In Japan there isn’t a man on the moon…there are rabbits!

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With the autumn come all the lovely seasonal foods. My father-in-law gave me a kabocha squash from his garden and hubby brought home some chestnuts from the farmer’s market.

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I boiled the chestnuts and had a lovely break just sitting, enjoying my garden, a cuppa and some fresh chestnuts. We boil them and then use a knife to cut the soft shells in half. I scoop out the nut with a tiny spoon.

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While I was having my little chestnut snack the doorbell rang. It was a deliveryman with a package for me. I tried to remember what I had ordered? Nothing!

I opened it and what a surprise!

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Inside was this awesome crochet accessories bag and a beautiful skein of yarn!

It’s a really nifty tote-it stores your yarn, hooks and accessories and it has slots in the top so that the yarn can thread through from the inside. My best friend in Florida surprised me! It’s my birthday at the end of the month and she sent me this gift.

How awesome is that!

Tomorrow is Friday already and I’ll prepare for the Shabbat and a possible typhoon this weekend. Looks like Saturday and Sunday will be wet and windy.  Looking at the weather app it says “heavy rain and wind” for Sunday. That means we will have to spend part of the Shabbat securing the outside because we can’t do it all Friday. Gah.

It has been an active typhoon season around the world and we just started.

FYI- Hurricanes are called typhoons here.

Well then-looking at the clock I see it’s time to get supper on….stay safe out there everyone…lots of planetary upheaval going on!

 

On being prudent…

Something I have not written about here yet- the possibility of war in our region.

I think at first most of us hoped this issue would die down like it always has in the past. As the days and weeks went by it seems things started to go from bad to worse.

Yesterday Mr. Kim decided to test an H Bomb that caused a magnitude 6 earthquake. It was a bomb five times more powerful than what was dropped on Nagasaki- according to US news.

I just saw that in addition to all the fire-power we already have deployed out here, B-1 bombers were deployed from Guam today.

So… You know, you sit here and try and take this all in. My favorite aunt wrote a memoir of what life was like for my mom’s family during WW2. We are German and so my mom and her family lived through the bombings and all the horror of the Nazi era. No – they didn’t support Hitler.

At any rate- the way this is playing out is eerily similar to my aunt’s memoir in that no one really took things seriously in the beginning. Before they knew it bombs were dropping.

So here we sit- trying to digest what is playing out before our eyes. Hubby is a very rational man. He rarely ever gets ruffled about anything but tonight we sat and talked about the real possibility that war could break out in the region. We also talked about how we should prepare for this possibility.

Leaving is not an option. Ever. We would not even consider leaving family behind.

I don’t have much more to really say about it at the moment other than we are beginning to realize that it looks very much like a regional war will breakout in the area and we are praying and seeking guidance on how best to prepare.

Never a dull moment.

You know it’s the beginning of autumn when….

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The stores have already begun to display and promote autumn inspired merchandise. I love it. Packages are decorated in autumn momiji and everything starts to feel festive. CraftyTokyoMama and I are sitting on the edge of our seats anticipating the cooler temps and beautiful scenery.  Japan summers are scorching.

As I’ve said before- Japan “does the seasons” so wonderfully. There is an intensiveness about each season that comes across so vividly.

We walked into the supermarket this morning and as soon as we entered the store the familiar smell of yaki-imo drew us in immediately.

Yaki-imo are roasted sweet potatoes grilled over a charcoal fire. Below is an internet photo of a sweet potato stand outside a supermarket. The stands are inside or outside. Just depends on the store.

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People get pretty creative about how they market yaki-imo.

Another internet photo below. This is from Tokyo. Around here we have the stands mostly in front of stores or in the entrance. Living in the countryside everyone grows sweet potatoes in their garden so I guess there isn’t a big demand for traveling yaki-imo salesmen.  The fellow in the photo below was quite creative in how he decided to market his potatoes. I’m not sure I’d want to drive around in this truck though. It’s a wonder that this is allowed! But…then again…this is Japan!

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So-yes, we were welcomed by the familiar autumn aroma of yaki-imo. Piled right next to the potato stand were the newly arrived cans of autumn themed beer.

We took a walk around the neighborhood after dinner. Mornings and evenings are now wonderfully cool.

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The narrow little lanes were quiet and peaceful. There were lingering aromas of dinner and we made a game of guessing what folks had to eat as we walked past. We smelled curry for sure. Further down someone had grilled fish.

This little plot is one of my favorites around the neighborhood. I love the wild look of the little orchard and garden plot. I’m reminded of some fairy-tale of long ago.

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I saw that the kaki (persimmon) trees were bearing fruit. In a couple of months they will be laden a beautiful orange and then soon after the stores will have wonderful packages of dried kaki….delicious!

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There are several varieties of kaki and you can’t eat all of them. Some are only good when dried. I never ate a persimmon until we moved to Japan! I guess we just never had them in stores in Saipan. I never remember seeing them in Wisconsin either.

My hydrangea are drying beautifully. I love the dried flowers as much as I love them when they are fresh in spring. They have a different kind of beauty at this time of the year and I never cut them off. I just leave them through the winter months and in the spring the skeletal remains dissolve in spring rains as fresh flowers emerge.

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With the cooler weather I always get a boost of creative energy. I love this old rice storage cabinet but it is old and has seen better days. The outside of it was kind of grungy and made of metal. It had rust spots here and there and I have always wanted to fix it up a bit.

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The other day we were in Daiso and I saw some shabby chic looking sticky paper. We used to call it “contact-paper”. I bought a few packs and several hours later…..

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My old little rice cabinet got a cheap Daiso make-over. I now use it for our mini coffee-bar. I love it! It turned out cute!

The creative mood is coming back as the weather cools. Next up I think the garden needs some autumn color…..!

My knee is healing up nicely now-just in time for wonderful autumn walks.

The End of Summer Tomatoes

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Standing all straggly and limp I could see that the tomato vines had lost their summer oomph. They were still producing flowers but the straggler tomatoes that were hanging from limp branches were barely hanging on. Most split and wrinkled before I could pluck them off.

Last year I made the mistake of waiting too long to rip out the vines. They dried to a crackling brown and when I went to take them out the leaves disintegrated into fine pieces that really set off my asthma.

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I didn’t think it was THAT hot outside until I got out there! It took me six hours to cut all the vines down and clean up the side beds a bit. It was just about the hottest day of the season. There was no wind. Even the grasshoppers were keeping still. Gosh it was hot. I think I drank a gallon and a half of water and took frequent breaks on my little wood bench that I had sitting in a shady spot.

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But it was so lovely quiet out. I deeply appreciated the fact that I had a little piece of earth to work. I collected a little bucket of the last of the last of the tomatoes. I even took the green ones-they aren’t bad if you cook them.

Without electric garden tools everything is done by hand including the trimming. I get down on my hands and knees and pull the tall grass out until it’s nice and short. ‘Course I do take my hand tools and dig up the weeds and such.

Opting out of motorized tools gives one the chance to really appreciate the work being done. Working alone in silence offers much time to think and pray. It gives you time to notice the tiny visitors tramping up and down flower stalks and dangling from thin, silky threads.

There is one old crow that always watches me from his perch on the tippy-top of the electric post. He dived-bombed me once- narrowly missing my head with a huge load of yellow and white poop that gave an audible slap as it landed just at the edge of my garden boot. I felt the whoosh of his wing as he flew low over my head.

Crows are very territorial and I’m pretty sure it’s the same crow that sits up there everyday and makes low guttural bird growls as he tilts his head sideways and spies on me while I putter in my garden.  He has the habit hopping around on the roof. You wouldn’t believe what a racket that is. Drives little Chibi nuts.

He was up there squawking at me while I cut down the tomato vines.  He and his friends enjoyed quite a few this past summer.

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I left the sad little eggplant. It has produced a few for us and there is still something on it so I figured I’d just leave it be. The green peppers are growing strong although we don’t seem to eat that many of them. They don’t grow very big here.

It was satisfying to get this work done today. The only thing about garden work is that it never ends. Not that I mind.

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I’m thinking about what winter vegetables I can plant. Haven’t really decided yet if I want to or not.

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Took this photo for my mom. Here I am in my favorite garb-retro garden.
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Taking that cold shower after the garden work was done never felt so good.

I still had enough energy to put up a small loaf of bread before I started on dinner.

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I wanted to leave you with this beautiful print by someone named Qian Xuan. While Qian Xuan isn’t a Japanese name, looking at this print I see that it embodies the early autumn that I experience.

When I came across it I realized that this is more than just a beautiful print to me…I recognize this now. I “feel” this. I know these little creatures because they are my garden companions. The green “pointy” grasshoppers are playmates to little Chibi. Both dog and grasshopper play tag and pounce on each other under the bushes.

By the same token when I see paintings or photos of the Wisconsin countryside my heart remembers a place I once called home. Same when I come across palm trees bent over a white sand beach.

Just rambling thoughts about how life takes twists and turns that you never expect.

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This is supposed to be the last of the summer heat. I for one am looking forward to cooler days and long walks.