Monday, February 23, 2015

Holy Cow!

Today on the way home from picking up my son I thought there was a fire in the mountains... and then we looked a little closer and realised that it was actually the cedar trees letting off a bit of steam... or pollen in huge quantities.  I have been sneezing a bit lately and thought that the pollen season must be almost upon us... today's spectacle confirmed it.  The tissue companies must love this season!!!!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The chickens are back!

After far too long without chickens they are now back!  We picked up 20 80-day old chickens this morning and they are quickly settling into their new abode.  The punk rocker at the bottom has already established herself as the Queen of the brood and enjoys taking pride of place on the warm concrete steps up to the chicken house.  Hopefully they will grow fast and we will be collecting eggs for breakfast in the very near future!

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Back garden day 1


The thing I am looking forward to most about my son starting junior high school in April is not having to go and get him from school at 3:30 every day.  Because we chose to take the kids to a school that is not within walking distance of our house I have spent the last 8 years getting frustrated every afternoon when I start to do something in the garden, but realise I have to stop soon to go and get the kids from school.  Half the time I figure I only have an hour or so and therefore there is no point in actually starting.  Lately I have been trying to change that attitude though and looking at it from the point of view that I have a whole hour to spend in the garden so what can I get done?

Today I started working on the back garden area that has always been a bit of a mess.  I find this area hard as it has never really been a "garden", but is probably supposed to be a Japanese style garden as it is outside our tatami room.  Although I spent a bit more than an hour,  I ended up  pulling out all the weeds, making an edge for the area, piling up all the remaining big rocks that I couldn't smash for the front garden and then smashing up some roof tiles to make another layer of rocks in front of them.  Hopefully I will get around to getting some shitake log mulch in the next week or so for the front area and maybe plant a few grasses or something there.  Anything has to be better than weeds!

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Front garden update

As the 5 o'clock siren went off tonight the last of the rocks for the front garden were smashed and a little birdie moved in to look after the area in case some moles decide to come tunneling in.  Not perfect, but an improvement on what was there before.  

Hopefully the carpet and the rocks will keep the weeds away long enough for me to start concentrating on the next problem area on the other side of this room.  There are no more rocks left to smash so I'm thinking I may have to move on to rotting shitake logs to keep the weeds away.... but that would involve a trip to the mountains to collect them.... maybe next week... maybe not...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

House within a house

This year the garden is lacking any winter vegetables.... because just as the autumn planting season arrived I was hospitalised and therefore didn't have a chance to plant anything.  The neighbours are very kind and often bring armloads of spring onions or Chinese cabbage, but it is always nice to be able to go into your own garden and harvest your own vegetables.  
Last year I had good success in the tunnel house from about now on, but this year our tunnel house is looking a little worse for wear - with holes in many places, and one door that has basically fallen off.  The new plastic has arrived to re-cover the entire house, but finding time to actually do it is going to be a bit of a problem.  In the meantime I have created a house within a house and have managed to get a few radish seeds to sprout.  Hopefully the spinach and lettuce seeds will also follow soon, but I'm guessing the huge temperature range that they experience each day may not make for a highly successful experiment.  Roll on spring...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Lack of planning

I'm back... actually I've been back home for well over a month now, but I am finally back in this blog spot.  The hospital experience is hopefully all behind me and although I am still struggling a bit with the medication I have to take I am slowly getting back to "normal" life.  I have bi-weekly visits to the hospital where they drain a bit more blood and check that all is okay before deciding whether to reduce my medication a little more or not.  I'm hoping that eventually I will be down to zero, but only time will tell.

One thing that was reinforced for me during my hospital stay was that planning too carefully only leaves you disappointed.....  In 2013 I made big plans to start my cookie/jam business and my mother-in-law died turning everything upside down.  In 2014 I made big plans to start my cafe-style English conversation classes and I got sick and ended up in the hospital for close to 2 months with some still unknown auto-immune disease.  So my big plan for 2015 is to not make any plans!  The only plan I have is to do zero teaching until at least April... and probably not again after that too.  I plan to take each day as it comes and hopefully the direction I really want to head in will become clear.  

This afternoon I decided to spend some time in the garden following my "no plan" idealism.  Unfortunately my muscles may not thank me tomorrow for the direction my no planning took!  First I decided to trim the trees in front of our house as I was sick of them hitting our bedroom window in the middle of the night and waking me up thinking a mass murderer was trying to break into our house.  I forgot to take a before photo, but I gave them a huge haircut, which of course then made the weeds under them a little more noticeable.. which meant I felt the need to remove the weeds.  

And then when I went to throw the weeds in the weed pile I had to walk past the big pile of rubble that we had removed from our old bbq spot and saw the old carpet that was sitting on top of it and thought that perhaps I could kill two birds with one stone by using the carpet to keep the weeds away and piling rubble on top of the carpet to make it look pretty.  And of course cleaning up the big pile of rubble at the same time.  

The main problem with this is that the rubble needs to be smashed into small pieces before it can be put under the trees... and smashing rubble with a hammer takes a long time... and a lot of energy....  Fortunately Emily came to help for an hour and between the two of us we may have completed about a fifth of the area under the trees.  I'm hoping a few more family members have no plans tomorrow and we can make some more progress - otherwise I guess I may need to plan to have a lot of hot baths ready to soak my aching muscles over the next few weeks!

If anyone has any ideas about hiding the septic tank covers please let me know... unfortunately they still need to be accessible as the poo truck always comes unannounced!

Rubble pile

Thursday, December 04, 2014


Katy tagged me for questionnaire thingy and usually I just ignore such requests, but as she said... I have a little time on my hands, so just this once, I'll answer for you Katy!  Sorry, but I'm not going to bother nominating anyone else....

As a background for anyone who happens to stumble on this blog... 7 weeks ago tomorrow I was admitted to a Japanese hospital with some form of auto-immune disease and am currently reducing the medication to a level where I will hopefully be released sometime next week.... it has been a long road, but a good chance for contemplation, relaxation and learning time-wasting management skills! 

Questions from Katy..... 
1. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Right now... a morning person.  I get up at 6am and start wandering the empty halls of the hospital on my 25 minute morning exercise route.  I was told there were no cameras operating, and I'm hoping that is the case.... otherwise there will be a lot of entertainment in the observation room as they watch the foreigner striding out around all the different departments, waving her arms in every direction, going round and round in circles, doing a few squats here and there and even a few laps of sideways star jumps and some skipping.... I go for an afternoon walk too, but it is much more restrained as there often a few people around.

2. What is your favorite season and why?
I would normally say spring, because I love all the new growth etc., but this year I'm going to say winter.  I am so looking forward to going home and spending this winter quietly getting back into real life, sorting out what I want to do from here on in, and generally taking it easy in front of our wonderful warm fire.  The perfect season to not feel the need to be out in the garden or rushing around doing things.  And of course winter brings Christmas... in Japan anyway! 

3. If you can chose between time and money, which would you chose?
Time.  If there is one thing that these 7 weeks have taught me it is the importance of slowing down and appreciating the small things in life.  Drinking your coffee while it is still HOT, brushing your teeth while not doing 20 other things, not feeling guilty about taking a nap when you feel the need, but most of all... making time for friends and family. 
Since being in here I have had visits from so many friends and family that I haven't been able to talk with slowly for many months or even years.  It has been great to catch up with everyone and has reinforced the importance of keeping in touch with friends, not just over a rushed coffee, but actually MAKING the time to sit down and talk.    I'm always looking for positive things from this experience and this is one of the major ones.

4. What do you think is the greatest thing about yourself?
Apart from the fact that I have managed to survive 7 weeks in a Japanese hospital without going completely crazy?  Probably my people-watching skills.  I love to observe people and I think it then makes it easy for me to make connections with people reasonably quickly.  This has been a huge benefit here - my mobile phone is loaded with people that I have met here in the hospital, that I have plodded up the stairs with, reassuring each other regarding our situations, and generally enjoying each other's company.

5. What is your favorite country and where would you like to go to next?
Japan.  Of course I love New Zealand too, but things have changed so much in the 18 years I have been away that I often feel more of a foreigner when I am back in New Zealand.
I have always dreamed of going to Turkey, but right now a holiday on a tropical island somewhere sounds rather appealing...

6. Cat person or dog person?
Cat - especially if it will snuggle on my knee.  As much as the kids would love a dog, I am just too lazy to look after it properly. 

7. What makes you most happy in life?
Support from my family and friends.  And chocolate!  I have always been a bit of a stubborn person, always trying to be completely independent, not wanting to rely on anyone for anything.  Asking for help has never been my strength.  This experience has shown me that there are times when it is important to ask for help and most importantly to accept the help without feeling guilty about it.  During this whole ordeal the support I have had from family and friends has almost been overwhelming.  I'm looking forward to being able to repay this support whenever the need arises.

8. If you could change your past, what would you like to change?
Nothing.  Bad times mean you appreciate the good times more so changing them wouldn't make my current life any better. 

9. What is your favorite color and why?
Burgundy.  Because... I like it.... can't think of any other reason!

10. Would you want to be famous?
I guess it depends on your definition of famous.  I wouldn't want to be famous in the sense of celebrity status, but I would like to be famous in the eyes of my children..... not quite there yet, but working on it!

11. The last compliment you got?
"Your face hasn't reached the full moon stage yet"..... and then I took off my mask, and was informed that perhaps it had, so I'm not sure if it makes it a compliment or not!