Mists

I woke this morning around 6:30 am and went about my morning ritual of opening the engawa curtains and letting the morning light in.

Standing a moment, I drank in the peace of the morning garden and then gazed out over the valley and Mt. Fukuchi beyond. This morning the valley and Fukuchi San were blanketed by fog. Actually it had already dissipated a bit as the sun was making its way up over the mountains.

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This was the first morning that I had seen the mist this season and as I was cooking breakfast I made a note to check the ancient Japanese calendar.

Sure enough-exactly correct.

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What is most interesting to me is that someone in the past had such a keen sense of the subtle changes of the seasons and noted them down. Makes me wonder how many other things aren’t noted.

We no longer hear the shrill morning cries of the cicada. They have gone silent. They have such a short life span above ground. Their larva survive for up to 17 years underground before emerging during the hot summer months to a life span of only about a week or so. Incidentally the song is loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss in humans should the cicada sing just outside the listener’s ear.

There is a haiku by Matsuo Basho that I love:

Nothing in the cry
of cicadas suggests they
are about to die

They sing with all their might after having lived in darkness and seclusion for years and years even thought they have but a week or so to enjoy life in beautiful sunny gardens.

They always remind me to choose joy no matter what the circumstances.

It is Friday morning here. I am going to go bake challah for the Shabbat and enjoy the slowly cooling temperatures.

 

Sunday’s musings…

The Garden:

I finally got around to adding a few more stakes to the tomatoes. They have absolutely gone bonkers. I harvest a little bowlful everyday.

The tomatoes on the plate are what’s leftover from what we already ate today. You would think we would get sick of eating them but we don’t. We are thankful to have so many because we love them.

I picked a couple of cucumbers the other day and today I hunted around on the vine and saw a few babies. Too much rain and lack of sun haven’t been so good for gardens. I’ve had to pick the tomatoes before they got too ripe because all the water causes them to split open. Then the ants come and have a feast on them.

I go out there and check the patch in-between showers and downpours. Yes, it is still raining.

The weirdest thing….my super tall sunflower is growing two more flower heads from the stem.

Is that normal? I have no idea. The one on the left is still a bud but the one on the right has petals already. I wonder if the flowers will mature.

While I was looking at that oddity I saw that the semi are finally emerging. Semi are cicadas and they emerge from the ground as the temperatures rise. This year they are late. I don’t blame them. Who wants to crawl around in all this rain. Anyhow, I saw several empty semi shells clinging to the leaves on my sunflower and tree.

As I have said many times-Japan has a whole host of strange, exotic and dangerous bugs. I’m not really a fan of bugs. I don’t mind them if they stay OUTSIDE where they belong. Kids in Japan think it’s fun to have a large betel as a pet. No thank you. Ever.

Interesting article on semi

Things that make me go…hummmm….

We had to run to our local grocery store. Since it was so close to lunch-time we decided to grab a bento to go. Most of the grocery stores and convenience stores carry pre-cooked meals that are pretty much equal to “home cooking”. Not fast-food- junk food at all.

My favorite at this little store is what I call “obosan bento”. Obosan is a nick-name for Japanese priests. The “obosan” bento is vegetarian consisting of; lotus root, pumpkin, tofu, seaweed salad, taro, rolled egg (egg is vegetarian for me),yokan and carrots.

Just tiny bits of each make up a small bento tray. I usually have a rice-ball and tea together with the bento.

Anyhow-while we were choosing our bento I saw this:

Not an unusual site but this just bugs both of us. Food sitting out uncovered.

I would never buy any of this food. I don’t eat hot-dogs and such anyhow but I mean we never buy any food that is just sitting out on trays uncovered. You find this sort of thing often. Bakeries display their breads and pastries like this. AEON Mall has a large bakery with all sorts of nice looking bread products and pastries but we never, ever buy any of it. Do you know how many times I’ve seen people sneeze or cough on uncovered products? How many times I’ve seen long hair, shirt sleeves, little kids fingers-come in contact with uncovered food? Many times.

Our local TRIAL store has cooked pizza, fried pork cutlet, hamburgers..etc- and all of it is just sitting out uncovered.

My husband was the first to say anything about this practice.. I noticed it but I hadn’t really thought about it like he had. Just makes me wonder about sanitation laws.

Our future tiny home:

I know many of you have been thinking…”I hope she’ll post pictures of what will be their new house” …

The other day we had to stop by the folks and I had my ipad with me. I took a few quick shots so that I could have a few pictures to study while I think.  Actually while we both think. Both of us have been chatting here and there about the changes we would like to make. Are you ready? Before I post these let me just say a few things:

-the folks are in their 80’s

-they are both very ill

-there is really zero storage space in this house

-I think they have stopped caring about what it looks like

Okay-here is the first photo. It is the living room.

As you can see there is nothing to see out the window. FIL hung a bamboo shade up and attached some plastic flowers from Daiso. Behind the bamboo shade is actually the neighbor’s house wall. That’s what the bamboo curtain is attached to. The distance from the window to the neighbor’s home is about…what…two feet?

I am giving them a fire extinguisher for Christmas.

This is pretty much the whole room. There isn’t much more to it. The sofa that is seen on the right side isn’t very long. It sits two and a half people.

Around the left corner of the TV-not pictured here – are the rolling doors to the bedroom that will become an extension of the living room and house my books, sewing machine..etc.

In the next photo below, you can’t see it but, the sofa is right up against the stereo system cabinet …thing. Through the rolling doors mid photo is the genkan or front entrance. Actually, it’s quite a large genkan. Wasted space really. There is a door on the right of the photo-that’s the “kitchen” door. A kitchenette really.

From the cabinets to the opposite side counter in the kitchen it is only about 3 feet wide. More I guess if the space was completely empty of the cabinets. length-wise I’d say it is about 8 feet? Maybe?

The photo below is basically a picture of the “dining” side of the kitchen. You can kind of see part of the kitchen cabinets at the back.

The folks sit at that flimsy little table and eat.

We have been looking around on Pinterest for ideas. There are some great Japanese sites that we have found that match our taste. Besides matching our taste the photos show Japanese homes that are similar to ours which helps. I’ve kind of scratched looking at US homes because they are so different.

Here are a couple of ideas that we want to incorporate into our kitchen / dining area. We like wood and natural products. I had the idea of building a bench against the counter wall with a table to match. We can use the bench not only for seating but for storage too.

A couple of photos from my saved collection on Pinterest.

In this photo they built a counter up against the kitchen “wall” but my husband said he wants to eat facing me so this wouldn’t work. However we do love the shelving built over the kitchen counter. We love the wood too and there is a window in the little cooking area…something we are definitely going to install.

The photo below has a similar set up but with a table. I’m honestly not sure if there is enough space for a table. Yes, it is that small. We love all the wood.

The only window in the entire living / dining / kitchen area at the moment is the window that faces no-where. Hubby plans on ripping out the kitchen cabinets (sort of a pre-fab unit), cutting a window in the wall and rebuilding cabinets around the window. I was thankful to hear that. We have a lot of ideas and we just happen to have a few carpenters in the family.

I’ll share more about the tiny-house remodeling project as time goes on.

That’s it for my Sunday musings. Starting to get back into the routine here but it seems that routine is now changing. I can sense that we have already sort of shifted our thinking to our future home. This morning as I was staking the tomatoes we talked about how next year our tomatoes will be in pots….and that it will be easier for me in the long run.

Yes, indeed it will be. There will be things I shall miss about living here but there will be many things I look forward to living in a newer insulated home.

Not seeing my breath inside in the winter is one of them.

Ha.

Thankful for…..

Everything. I’m just thankful for everything. Having seen many different things on my trip last month and now being back “home” I sense that I am much more content than I was before I left.

Much of it has to do with my personal spiritual life and studies…which I won’t go into here. ( I heard several of you breathing a sigh of relief..lol)

Yesterday was the American Independence Day and I celebrated my freedom with a few Japanese lady friends. We ate watermelon, cornbread (because I brought a mix with me) and I taught them “flag facts” and a bit of history about the day.

I was really surprised that they were so interested and had a great time. I gave them little gifts of American Flag parade “wavers” bundled up with some Japanese hanabi or basically sparklers.

It poured rain the whole day. It poured even harder today! We had such a loud peal of thunder over the house I thought the windows would crack. There are warnings around the nation for flash floods and landslides…I heard people were evacuated.

I always wonder how many people have bug-out bags or some sort of emergency kit? Which reminds me, I need to get into our bug out bag and see if I need to change out the clothing. We have a fairly good sized bug out bag that I stock with various items including our passports and important documents. I also include at least two changes of clothing for each of us and I update them according to season. Don’t want summer clothing in there for a winter emergency and vice-versa.

I looked outside during one downpour and I saw a dragonfly desperately clinging to a bare branch. I grabbed my camera and took this amazing photo of it. The branches were shaking from the rain so it isn’t perfectly focused….but still it’s an awesome photo. Reminds me of a fairy-like creature.

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My garden has positively exploded. The tomato vines have covered the little side windows in the engawa.

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Today I opened the window and plucked off a few tomatoes. Funny. At least I didn’t have to go out into the rain.

A little girl that comes to my house for English was shocked by the size of my sunflower. This was actually planted by the birds! I’m going to save the seeds and plant them in pots. I’ll have pots of giant sunflowers at our new home!

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Speaking of our new home I’m actually getting excited even though the actual move is a ways off. Pinterest has been a huge help in gathering ideas for the interior. I already know what style I want to decorate it in and I’ve got several boards loaded with pictures to help me. Someone asked me how far the home is from here-it’s actually not far. It takes me about 30 minutes by trolley to get there.

I’m usually there Monday’s and Thursday’s for a community class that I teach at the community center.

On Monday the library at the center had their Tanabata decorations up.

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They also had some artwork drawn by the local elementary school kids “We are the World -Only One Frower”…..hummm…yes, “R” and “L” are tough to understand here.

I was in the garden again the other day and noticed this awesome bug lollying around on my ajisai bush. The myriad of insects here always fascinates me. This one was really awesome although he flew off the second I took his photo.

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I learned early-on to never touch any of them. We have quite a few that will leave you with a nasty sting. They look harmless enough though. I have learned not to “bug” any of the bugs.

This week also had me back into the routine of cooking hubby’s breakfast and bento. He was a bit forlorn when I was gone. Today he hugged me and said how thankful he was that I was home.

Ha.

I know he loves me for more than just my cooking though.  🙂

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Hodge-podge post but it’s real life around here.

Travel and Transitions….

I just returned from almost a month of awesome family time! The photo above is my daughter’s back yard. They bought a beautiful home in the states. It’s situated in the deep countryside surrounded by forests, rivers, farms and lots of wildlife.

Deer were everywhere.

It was such a (reverse) culture shock for me to be in a home with such a huge front and back yard. It’s so big that they have created their own family campground down at the lower end of the property-complete with a pool, campfire pit, horseshoes and more! It was such an amazing time and actually quite unexpected time. My daughter surprised me with a round-trip ticket for Mother’s Day.

The trips back and forth to the states seem to be getting longer-either that or getting older makes the trips harder. For the most part the travel went well although I have to say that the “long-haul” between Korea and my first port of entry into the USA was hard–13 1/2 hours non-stop to Atlanta is a long time for me to try and keep relatively still. Thankful that my daughter booked me in isle seats the entire flight. Getting up often helps my leg cramps.

At any rate-I’m home and from the looks of it things as they were when I left are not what they are now.

I try not to reveal too many personal family issues on my blog because the privacy of my family matters to me and it matters to them so please bear with me as I attempt to reveal what the future holds without revealing too many details. I apologize ahead of time if you ask questions that I don’t fully answer-for the sake of privacy.

There have been times where I have blogged about the possibility of us moving from this lovely little cottage home at the foot of the mountains into what is actually our home located about thirty minutes away in a smallish “nothing really happens there” town-which is actually my husband’s hometown.

This little cottage home belongs to my brother in law’s wife-actually it belonged to her parents but they passed on several years ago. We knew when we first moved to Japan that this home was only transitional as eventually we’d have to move into our home in the little town of “nothing much happens”.

While I was in the states the pages of our lives seem to have flipped forward to the next chapter.

In short- both of my husband’s parents have had a sudden and rapid decline in health. So much so that at a family meeting it was decided that they can no longer care for themselves. Very soon they will be moved from their (our) home in the town of “nothing much happens” to a situation where they will be safe. That’s all I can really say about that for privacy’s sake.

So-that means the time has come where hubby and I need to start preparing to move into a very small home in a very small town.

Interesting.

Interesting because recently I have really become fascinated by “tiny homes” and sort of a hobby of mine is pouring over photos and videos of tiny home living. I’ve got lots of ideas floating around in my mind about how to make the most of a very small space.

And believe me, the home is very small. Like-really small. I’m guessing that it would be considered apartment sized in the USA. Small apartment. My kitchen here is large compared to the narrow little kitchenette in our home. My mother’s apartment in the senior apartment complex that she lives in has far more space than our tiny home has. The narrow little kitchenette in our home is SO small that if I am standing at the sink and my husband passed behind me our bodies would touch-and I’m not a very large person. It has just about zero work counter space. And I mean zero. There is a teeny little area-I’d say about a foot and a half square-next to the cook top that MIL used for prep work. Other than that-no counter space.

But….I have ideas. Thankful for all my tiny-home interest lately. Thankful for Pinterest too.

There is no garden either. At least not on the property. First of all- there is no space for a garden and the teeny-tiny bit of space that is around the house is concreted.

I do envision plants in pots though.

My father-in-law has a very large proper garden plot that I could easily access by jitensha -Japanese style bicycle. It would probably take me ten minutes to bike over there. He’s been wanting me to take over his garden for a while now anyhow.

Most of you that have been reading this blog for a while now know that my faith plays a major role in the way I view life and it’s changing situations. I have come to learn that it is best not to hold onto “things” tightly. You only end up miserable when your happiness and contentment centers around your “stuff” and having that perfect living space or awesome vehicle or hefty bank account.

Or whatever-fill in the blank.

Some of you probably don’t know that several times in my life I have literally lost or had to give up all my “stuff”. That’s just the way life was dealt to me. It wasn’t because I didn’t work, made bad decisions, had some sort of destructive addiction…nope. Every single time the loss was created by a situation that was totally out of my control. I look back now and I am humbly thankful for all the practice I’ve had in having to make major adjustments in life. I’m thankful that I was able to walk through fire and come out the other end not even smelling like smoke.

This situation we are heading into is going to be balanced with things that I like/love and things I don’t like and may hate.

I know though, in the end, it will all have been for my good so, keeping that in mind, I move forward with a positive attitude.

Yeah…I’ll miss my mountain view and garden and walks. On the other hand they might even be more special because I can take the trolley here and be walking around in my favorite places within 30 minutes. I can still have little “get-away” adventures and visit friends and such. It’s not a big deal and will actually make for a special adventure day away from the town of “nothing much happens”.

I will be further from friends  but…in our new town-to-be we have many connections because most all the family lives there. I already have many opportunities waiting for me and we don’t even live there yet. There will be colorful characters to write about and the every-day life of a small town where everyone knows everyone will make for some awesome blog posts!

You know that festival? We will literally be living in it when it happens. Some of those big “floats” will pass pretty much right in front of our house.

There are lots of kids in the neighborhood. I like kids. I miss having kids around.

We will never miss another rice planting or harvesting season again because the family rice fields are within walking distance.

I could have replaced everything I wrote above with something negative but, I ma making a decision to steer clear of any negative thinking. Life is change. Make the best of it. Nothing ever stays the same.

I will end this post with a short garden update. I left to a modest garden and came home to exploding growth!

The corn that I didn’t think would grow is still plugging along.

The tomatoes have gone bonkers. I really need to get in there this weekend and tie up some of those leggy arms, cut out some of foliage. The sunflower that the birds planted has shot straight up!

The cucumbers are doing well! I’ve got bell peppers over on the other side that are growing well too. Hubby did the best he could-he is NOT a gardener so the fact that everything is still alive and well is great. It’s a bit over grown but I’ll get it back into shape soon.

That was my little harvest from just the few minutes I spent out there. There were more tomatoes but they were really cracked open because they should have been harvested already.

The forecast calls for rain so I guess I’ll have to get out there in-between the showers.

Well…it’s now a little after 7am-been up since 4. Jet lag. Going to go see about getting another pot of coffee on and then get about my day.

peace all

Officially Spring

Well, the calendar says that it is officially spring. Anyone that reads this blog knows that my garden is the first place I go as soon as the weather warms up. It hasn’t warmed up as much as I’d like-but we’ve had a few really nice days here and there so I’ve been outside getting my little plot ready.

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I cleaned things up and got carrots, spinach and komatsuna seeds in the ground. The Snap Peas are coming along now-they have finally broken through the ground and are getting bigger by the day. You can see them over by the netting. The lettuce is growing nicely and I stuck a green pepper plant in the ground too.

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The weeding got done and while I was at it I moved some of the ox-eye daises that had seeded themselves in a spot where I didn’t want them to. That spot is reserved for my new tomato beds that I’m going to put in. Soon. As soon as hubby gets me the wood.

I set up a birdbath. A little early I know but I’m excited about getting the garden going.

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Gardening helps me a lot. I’ll be honest with you-it isn’t always easy to live in a foreign country. I miss my family. A lot. I have friends here but culturally, it is different. People don’t really open up and they aren’t as likely to want to develop deep relationships so everything stays rather superficial. That is hard for someone like me. Gardening, crochet, sewing and now embroidery have helped me to fill the void and at the same time I “produce” something that can be shared with others.

I think that’s why I really dislike (anti) social media…it is so superficial…

But, I digress….

Everyone else in the neighborhood is outside participating in the spring season in much the same way. Tractors can be heard humming throughout the fields and across the little valley. I really look forward to rice planting season. When the fields are planted and filled with water the frogs move in and the whole area comes alive at night with the sounds of what seems like a million croaking frogs. As I walked around the town I saw the farmers gearing up, getting the fields ready for the annual rice planting activities.

Just about everywhere I looked gardeners were out weeding and digging and just enjoying being outdoors.

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My heart is a bit heavy this spring. Every year since we have moved to Japan I always took my annual trip up to see the kids near Tokyo around this time of the year…but…they left Japan last June and I can’t do that anymore.

I had noticed that I felt out of sorts and about two days ago I realized that last year at this time I was enjoying being with my daughter and her family. Actually, I’m crying writing this post. It is really, really hard not having any of the kids or grand-kids around. But that’s life. We can’t stay near them forever. That isn’t reality for most people.

While I do like living in Japan-there are always two sides to the coin. It is a beautiful country with many awesome reasons for wanting to live here. The reality is that living here comes with a price. At times that price can be a little heavy to bear.

But– the sun is shining at the moment. The rains have stopped a bit so I think I’ll go pick some lettuce for dinner and rejoice in all the Lord has so graciously provided for all those that I love near and far. Later I’ll think some more about my garden planning and perhaps work on an embroidery pattern design that I have in mind for a granddaughter. I was actually thinking of opening an ETSY shop but I’m too busy to make things to sell! Everything I make goes to family and friends!

This post was rather all over the place. That may be the new norm here. Writing like this helps me. The rest of you can come along for the ride.

🙂

 

 

 

Hina Matsuri, Rickshaw Rides, Planting and WIP

The weekend was busy!

On Friday a group of us gals visited the historical home of one of the five coal mine kings of our area. This entire area was once a wealth of coal mines owned by 5 men who are known as: The Five Kings of Coal Mining.

One of them was this man-Santaro Hori. In the photo he stands proudly with his wife, daughter and son. His villa is still standing and well cared for. The family has donated it to the town as a historical landmark and museum. He was a very wealthy man-multi millionaire in his time-during a time when that was an impossible dream for most.

His former home is usually not open to the public-at least not the entire home. They do hold classes in some rooms. You can take a Japanese patchwork class or origami classes. I believe they also have Tea Ceremony lessons.

During Hina Matsuri the home is opened to the public and you can walk through it. There are no furniture left in the home but it isn’t difficult to imagine how grand it must have been.

Before I continue I have to tell you that I had a “catastrophic failure” according to my computer when I was transferring the photos of the house from camera to my laptop. Indeed-I accidentally erased ALL of them. So….here is a link to a post I wrote last year about this home. You can have a look at the photos I took there. It really is a beautiful home–>Touring Saijikan.

At any rate- the gals and I decided to view the Hina Matsuri display there. The first collection you come across when you visit is the patchwork display inside the over 100 year old storage building turned display room.

I love looking at all the wonderful handiwork. So beautiful! There were a couple of ladies on hand giving demonstrations in ball making.
The balls have a Styrofoam base and the material used are all vintage kimono scraps.

Very interesting to us crafters! We left the patchwork display and went on to view the Hina Doll display which was pretty much the same as last year’s display-fortunately you can view the display on last year’s post.

This year I learned something that I didn’t know last year. I remembered wondering what this was:

I thought it was a chute of some kind. Mrs. NI said-chute? Oh,no. This is an indoor access to the window shutters. This home was “state of the art” back in the day-they didn’t have to go outside to close the shutters. They could do it from the inside of the home. She demonstrated for me-she works here as a volunteer so it was okay.

Interesting!

We walked along the beautiful corridors down to the doll display. The home is so lovely!

The kimono display marked the entrance to the display room.

And that marks the end of the photos because the rest are deleted!

We decided to visit two more places that had Hina Matsuri festival displays-the local coal mining museum and another smaller museum in town.

As we were leaving the historical home the local rickshaw driver was outside and asked if we wanted a ride! There were free rides today for the ladies! So…why not? We hopped on board and away we went!

Actually it is such a shame that I lost all those photos because the coal mining museum was awesome. I had never toured a coal mining museum before and I was fascinated by the old photographs. What a grueling job that must have been. I saw photos of men, women and children who worked in the mines. I was shocked at many of them because they worked completely naked. The women had a covering on their bottoms but the men were completely naked. I asked -why? I was told that the mines were extremely hot and being naked was the only way to bear being in them. Things changed later on and safety requirements were established requiring clothing and safety equipment. The equipment is on display and all I can say is-having seen the breathing apparatus needed I would never want to work in the mines. It was quite horrific looking.

It was an awesome day and I learned much about the past history of this area.

The following day was absolutely brilliant and I was able to get out into the garden and get some work done. I got some lettuce planted.

I got the snow peas in the planter boxes and I potted a few pansies.

Very satisfying!

I’ve also been working on a load of crochet projects! Not the best photo-sorry. I just threw them in a heap onto the tatami!

We are definitely in early spring here-such a fun time of year!

Spring Activity

Early spring and all the lovely activity that comes with it lifts the spirits!

Let me tell you first about an activity that I’ve discovered since moving here. It isn’t just a spring activity but it is easiest for me to participate in during spring……gathering sansai.

Sansai is the Japanese word for mountain vegetable – wild edible plants found in the fields, river banks and woodlands of the Japanese countryside. There are some interesting facts about gathering and using sansai BUT I’ve just written an article for Taikan Japan on that subject in my new series for them: At Home in Rural Japan. When the article is released soon I’ll share the link here -don’t want to be a spoiler.

For now-just come along with me as we forage for nanohana. When I took you on the walk down to the shrine and historical home a while back I shared a photo of a single stem of nanohana, one of the harbingers of spring. They are beginning to pop up everywhere now and this is the perfect time to forage for them. You can buy them cut and neatly packed at the farmer’s market but it is so much more enjoyable to wander the little country roads, dirt paths and fields gathering them yourself. This is what I have been doing almost daily.

Donning my garden apron and a light jacket, basket in hand I set off for my secret spot where I’ve discovered a small field of newly sprouting, tender nanohana.

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They are best picked when they look like this-rather like mini broccoli heads and in fact they are closely related to the broccoli family.

Walking among the spring grasses and ferns I savor the freshness that spring brings. I’m listening for the sound of the uguisu which will soon be heard singing through the valley-the loveliest bird song I have ever heard. A swarm of the tiniest of winged insects hover over a patch of snowdrops as I tread gingerly through the little patch I’ve found. I am overwhelmed with gratitude at what the Lord freely provides for me and I take only what we will eat for dinner tonight.

It is such a lovely day so I decide to wander a bit. Down by the river the ume trees are almost in full bloom and they look lovely draped over the river banks.

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The bare trees you see here are sakura which are now full of buds and soon this humble river bank will be as glorious as any grand riverbank in Japan. We have already planned our hanami party. This year we will have a small BBQ on our patio so that mother and father in law can sit comfortably and enjoy viewing the sakura that are all around our home.

The path that runs along the riverside is inviting with its elegant carpet of moss and I wander down along the river’s edge until I reach the farm road at the end. There is a stunningly beautiful old farm house that sits right on the corner and as I look up I see a white Japanese heron perched right on top of the roof.

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I watched it for quite a while-it never moved. What an interesting and beautiful scene. Standing for several minutes-I admired the home and wondered how on earth they kept that huge tree so beautifully manicured. It is quite expensive to have that done professionally. As I walked past the front of the home I laughed when I noticed that the crest on the roof-top edge was…a crane! The crest is located on the four corners of the home on each level of roof.

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My wandering took me past a few old farmhouses and down to the small lake. Soon the trees along the lake’s edge will be full of nesting heron. I guess this is actually not a lake but one of the many rivers that run criss-cross through our area and all of Japan.

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It was time to return home and prepare for dinner. Nanohana are easy to cook. I soak them first in a large basin of water-rinsing and changing the water several times. Then I boil them for about 2 minutes, drain them and refresh them in cold water for around 30 seconds.

The entire plant can be eaten-flower tops, stem and leaf.

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After that they are squeezed to removed the excess water and cut up in to about 1 inch sized pieces. Seasoning is simple-I drizzle them with sesame oil and citrus soy-sauce. Today I added small crispy dried and fried fish. Really delicious.

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My vegetables cooked -I set about placing the few wild flowers I foraged into vases around the house. The little wall vases are just darling. I found them the other day at our local Daiso of all places!

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Now onto the next activity- sowing my flower seeds and nursing them until they grow into seedlings and the weather warms enough to put them into the ground.

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Farmer Green Jeans….

Winter has just begun in earnest here but I’m already thinking about the garden this coming spring. I plan on doing gardening “for real” this time. Last year and the year before I grew a few crops that really contributed to our meal preparations. I’ve learned a few things now and I think it’s time to step up the game.

I was looking through some old photos of the garden and trying to decide what I wanted to plant. I always seem to be late with panting some things but not this coming year. I’ve already spent some time consulting the elderly experts around these parts.

A photo from last spring.

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My father in law told me that the sunappu endo seeds (sugar snap peas) need to go into the ground in February. I’ve got that on my list already.

I’m going to do some overhauling of the general design too. The front area gets a lot of sun but the rear of the garden doesn’t so I’ll work on redesigning everything to work with the sun. I decided to grow cucumbers that will climb up my little arch way. That will free the side trellis for the sugar snap peas. This strange little curved section is going to be enlarged because this is where the sun hangs out the most.

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Those bricks need to come out and the whole area enlarged. The left side will hold the green pepper bushes. They get pretty big so I think that’s all I’ll be able to fit in that little bed.

I was out there today studying and thinking and I noticed that a few daffodils were blooming. Funny-even after six years here it is still kind of hard to get used to the different seasons.

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I’ll just let the flowers grow over by the wall. Two years ago I planted ox-eye daises back in that corner and they just keep coming back year after year. I can already see all the little seedlings. I love that area all wild and colorful and bursting with flowers.

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Below is a photo from when we first moved in. What a disaster.

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It helps me tremendously to keep a log of my garden. Gardening can be a touchy affair. One year everything is going great and the next year nothing works out-or half goes to the bugs. I love seeing old photos of the garden because it helps me remember that I can be successful at it.

Already looking forward to getting out there and rearranging things.

A peek into my neighbor’s garden….she’s got a citrus tree. Not sure if they are edible or not. Some aren’t-way too sour. They look lovely though, don’t they?

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She’s also got some bushes that are flowering. She moved into a nursing home about three years ago. Her daughter takes care of her house and garden although the garden is nothing like it was when she took care of it herself. I really miss her lovely roses and dozens upon dozens of over flowing flower pots.

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Summer Tomatoes

I planted each seed and lovingly tended it. When the seedlings were about six inches tall I transferred them to the ground.

Last year I put the seedlings into pots and I didn’t have even half of the yield that I have this year. Not even close. They must like the garden much better. I have had buckets full of cherry tomatoes!

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The plants go all the way around the little path to the left. They grew so big that I didn’t plant anything else in my little plot.

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Each morning after I cook breakfast and bento I go out to water and pick whatever is ripe. I fill my apron pockets.

Our summer has been beastly hot and I’ve needed to water daily. Temps have been between 98-112 F. Last week with the heat index it was 122 degrees F. I think I said that in a previous post.

As I’m writing this I’m wondering why I didn’t add any mulch.

For a few days we’ve had it a bit cooler…around 95. Imagine…95 felt cool. This morning at 9:00 am it was already 98.

As I was filling up my pockets with tomatoes a wasp flew over my head and landed in the water garden to grab a drink. Everyone is thirsty. I drink gallons a day at the moment.

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We discovered that our favorite way to eat our tomatoes is grilled. I throw them whole into a fry-pan with a tiny bit of oil on low heat and just let them roast until they are soft and crack open. Sometimes I add a bit of garlic sauce or just a tiny bit of salt/pepper.

We eat virtually salt free so, many times I don’t add anything. Yesterday for lunch I threw a handful of tomatoes and several shishito peppers from my bush into a pan. I grilled them and then I threw in a handful of shredded cheese. I had a couple pieces of home-made whole wheat flat bread with it and a glass of ice-coffee. Awesome lunch!

As I was tending to the tomatoes today I realized something. I realized that my once long time dream of simple living was being realized.

Sometimes people think that “simple living” means “no work”. Nothing could be further from the truth. I do a lot of work by hand. I walk to do shopping and errands. The distances I walk are quite long…sometimes it takes me an hour one way to get to a certain store that I frequent. I am rarely idle because there is always something to do.

Simple life isn’t a life of idleness….but it is a life filled with peace and contentment.

But…. more on that later. The stars of this post were my tomatoes….

 

 

 

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