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December 31, 2009

Mari In The Houuuuuse!!!!!!

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Tomoe enjoys some relax time with the birds, and later welcomes Mari, the neighbor's goat, into our home as I take her for a walk. We have first dibs on the baby goat to be born in the spring. Hopefully it will be female, as the males don't have much use other than impregnating the female. We have all kinds of goat-cheese recipes in mind. Can't wait.

Oh, and it's snowing heavily again. Maybe another meter by New Year day...

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December 30, 2009

Morning Mist

Misty Morning

It is supposed to snow again tomorrow, but the recent warm weather, while making for some nice foggy mornings, has taken most of the snow from us. The chickens are somewhat over their shock, and venture out over the snow when the sun is out. I am happy that they have kept laying eggs even without me providing any supplementary lights. They even laid an egg each on the shortest darkest day of the year.

Misty Morning

December 28, 2009

She's Got Me High

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My biggest worry now is that I will not be able to fulfill our birth-plan request that I help catch our daughter... because I will be crying too much that I can't see clearly.

She's got me high already, and I know it.

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December 26, 2009

Belated Christmas Greetings to Family

Belated holiday greetings To Mom, Dad, Shannon, Tim, Toby, Molly, Kelly, Young-hoon, Oscar, and Irene. (note to mom: Click on the big green button in the middle to play the video.)

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Almost Like New-Used

Persimmons DryingPersimmons Drying

I finally got around to fixing the broken finder in my camera after about a year of not being able to see what I am shooting. I wanted to make sure I had a usable camera for when the baby arrives. The finder was broken when I bought the D70 off Yahoo Auctions. Sometimes I could see a blurry image, usually I couldn't. If I shook the camera, the problem would resolve itself sometimes if I shake the camera, but shaking it so much was making my elbows sore. Unfortunately, not much to do other than rate the seller really low.

Luckily I had another D70 laying around (the reason I bought a new used one off Yahoo last year). I had been reluctant to try to fix the new-used one, because I didn't want to completely break it, but I finally got up the nerve, and resolved that if I completely break it, I will just buy yet another one, and the baby is the perfect excuse.

The repairs, though taking a loooong time, went quite well. I successfully transplanted the finder from my old camera with the one from my new-used camera. There were no screws left over, but now there is a mysterious rouge spring rolling around in the finder. While its kinda annoying, it is much better than the past year, and because it is SLR, it doesn't effect the photo, of course.

Since I did have some extra tiny screws left from the old camera, I used them to fix my broken macro adapter, from which several screws has somehow wriggled themselves loose and gotten lost over the years.

These photos are just some of our drying kaki (persimmons) that I took to test my handiwork.

Persimmons Drying

December 25, 2009

Hidy Ho!

Santa Kevin

I could say I have been saving this photo especially for Christmas, but I only lie when money or sex is involved.

This is me being Santa at a nearby pre-school/kindergarten. The children went wild, and the teacher asked me to sing some Christmas songs. I Panicked and the only thing I could think of was "Dradel Dradel Dradel" Based on memories of the South Park version (NOT SAFE FOR MOM TO WATCH, but don't worry, I didn't include the bad stuff when I sang it.). I wish Hanky the Christmas Poo had come to mind instead though... (Mom, this one is safe for for you so go ahead and watch the video below...)

December 22, 2009

Snow Porn

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So I am going to just get this over with, and post all the snow-porn at one time. The tally over two days was just over a meter, just under a meter-half (about four feet.)

Although we got double what the folks in DC got, I am sure that it pales in comparison, simply because everyone here is used to it. Unlike the (oh-so sad) trauma it caused along the East Coast, life went on as usual here. In fact, many of the old farmers, despite their swearing, were secretly thrilled to have a reason to get out of the house. I have ne'er seen so much shoveling of areas that most certainly don't need shoveling. (Still, I am standing my ground, and I only shovel the space were we park our car and a small portion of the roof that collects excess amounts of heavy snow.) The worst part for us was waking up at 3AM to the sound of the neighbors very,very loud snow blower.

It did effect our Monday morning trip to the hospital, making the trip a little longer, but much more scenic (and exciting) driving through almost complete whiteout conditions. Other effects are that our eighty-eight year old neighbor was not able to go to the bath. We offer to drive her the 2km any time she wants to go, but I doubt she will take us up on the offer.

Unfortunately, it is likely to rain tonight, a disappointment for the local ski-hill which is set to have its annual free-ski & BBQ opening event tomorrow. Anyone in the area who happens to have the day off, come one out (only three hours from Tokyo)! The rain should turn to snow at night, but not sure how much. While there will still be free skiing, it might be a bit slushier or icier than hoped.

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The top photo is earlier in the storm, the second/third photo is about mid-way through - and after having shoveled once and driven the car to the hospital already. Sorry, but I didn't have any good photos of the house at the end.

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Above is a neighbor's house where the old man who lived there died the day before. The decorations are related to the funeral. While only relatives attend the cremation, everyone in the neighborhood lines-up outside the house to pay their respects before he body is taken to the local garbage incinerator. (Don't worry, they do have special facilities for people - it doesn't go in with the old futons.) The night of the big snow, the head of the hamlet came on the intercom asking people to make every effort to come out despite the snow. I am assuming it is to prevent a "lonely" looking send-off.

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Above is a neighbor shoveling snow off the roof. He was up there for about six hours.

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This is one of the wonderful village snow-blowers that keeps our streets clean and keeps us awake at 5AM. This together with the neighbors using their personal blowers at 3AM, and the sound of snow starting to avalanche off of the roof at 7AM, means we no longer sleep in until 10 o'clock.

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December 16, 2009

Lucy's Life Turned Upsidedown

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Even after telling my mom, in the comment section on last post, that Japanese weather forecasts are almost always accurate, right down to the minute, we have had clear skies since last night, on what was supposed to be the first "full day of snow" this year. If it makes anyone feel a bit better for me, the sky is starting to gray-up as I write this.

Still, we did have snow over night two nights ago, and the chickens (both named Lucy) weren't too thrilled about it. They spent about an hour standing in the open door wondering what the heck was going on, sometimes tasting the snow. Eventually they managed to run across a snowy area to another snow-less island about one square meter with nothing but cold wet concrete. Here, they found themselves trapped again, and had to wait for me to coax them into the scary white stuff.

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So, with any luck, readers should get ready for lots of pictures of snow that resemble... the pictures of snow I took last year and the year before. There should be a little more variety this year though. (I can't wait to get a photo of one-day-old daughter buried up to her neck in snow! :D )

Finally, a plea goes out to any Santa experts. Friday I will be visiting a local kindergarten dressed in full Santa gear. The kids have some questions and they demand answers.

  • How do you make all the presents? (and distribute them all to Wal-Mart?)
  • How can reindeer fly without wings?
  • Why does Santa ride reindeer?
  • Why does vegetable soup make reindeer strong?
  • How does Santa make the vegetable soup? (apparently, the teacher told the kids that reindeer love vegetable soup)

I figured I could cover a few of them by saying that when the reindeer eat vegetable soup, it gives them lots of gas. Santa then uses a long pole with a match at the end to light their farts and propel them through the air. I might need some back-up answers though... So to anyone reading this with a young child, please ask them for me.

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December 14, 2009


Best Weather Report EverBest Weather Report Ever

The weeks weather forcast. Not much, but at least its a start - and long awaited! And the chickens are getting used to their new home...

Chickens in da house

December 12, 2009

A December Without Snow

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  1. The last raspberry. With the no snow, we were able to enjoy a handful of fresh berries each day well into December. Tomorrow we cut them down.
  2. susuki growing in the river. I feel an urge to go and "harvest" it, but I have no idea what I would do with it.
  3. The old man next door who loves to burn burn burn. He especially loves burning things that are toxic. (That is our persimmon tree on the left).
  4. Persimmon left for the crows.
  5. Our neighbor stops in for tea, dried persimmons, and a chat next to the fire.

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December 11, 2009

I Think She Will Grow Up To Be a Chicken Farmer

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Mental note to self: teach Kemoe not to take candy from strangers - or to be lured in by chickens.

Nobody can figure out why Myu likes the chickens so much, but even they agree that she smiles biggest when she touches them. I am anxious to see what happens when we get some goats. (Not sure if they are available in Japan, but I want this type of goat!)

Drying Daikon

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Persimmons are not the only thing we have drying. A week or so back we also hung up some daikon radishes, and their leaves. The daikon are being prepared for pickling. We also have a stash of fresh daikon sitting in the basement in two huge wooden miso tubs, covered with fresh sugi (Japanese cedar) leaves to keep the mice away.

Most people in this area throw away the daikon leaves, or put them in a pile next to our chicken coop (they love them). Its a bit of a waste though, since apparently the leaves are the most nutritious part of the daikon. Tomoe boiled them, and we hung them outside when it was sunny, and over the stove when it was rainy and damp. They dried nicely and Tomoe plans to use them in soup.

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December 09, 2009

Another Day Closer

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Another day closer. Tomoe's new-found motherly instinct powers say it will be within the next week (or two). In the mean time, I have been out partying in the mountains with another newcomer to our village who now lives in the mountains, but is reluctant to go walking in the mountains alone. To get him up to speed I invited him to head out into the lower mountains near our house with a compass and a map. I tried to go where there were no trails, but wouldn't you know it, not only were there trails, but there were also dirt roads not marked on the map. It was still fun and great to get out, but I realized that nest time I have to take him someplace even deeper - with snow. Deep deep snow.

Tomoe is still confined to the rolling office chair. The neighbors have been worried about not seeing her outside, so they forced their way in to have some persimmons by the fire.

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Still, she does get up sometimes, like to make make natural yeast from some of the "less-edible" persimmons we have laying around. That is what is in the orange jar which has had a prominent place next to the fire for some time now.

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December 03, 2009

Retired Life Update

The neighborsOur Daughter's Future Friends and Neighbors

I have been enjoying paternity leave by spending my days cuddling with Tomoe in the mornings (who can't move much now as the baby is trying to come out two weeks too early) until 9:30 or 10:00, or sometimes 10:30. Followed by getting the house ready for winter. Hanging the cabbages so the mice don't get at them, cutting pine leaves from the forest to cover our stored daikon radishes, and doing lots of carpentry stuff that i would have thought as a waste of time if I was not "on leave".

Global climate change is helpful if we look at it in the short term - it give me more time to sleep in and still get prepared for the snow. Still, I would love to have a healthy amount of snow by now and feel less guilty about spending more time cuddling with Tomoe in the morning. When there is no snow, we feel like we should be working outside. Especially since the sun goes down at 4pm these days. If we get up at 10:00, have breakfast and check email, I have two hours before lunch. The after lunch nap takes at least 40 minutes, and then I only have an hour or so left to work outside!

Life is stressful here in our little house on the Japanese prairie!

The photos are: 1,2) Our neighbors - The oldest lady lives across the street. The second oldest lady, and the young mother live next door. Her daughter, Myu, knows me as the chicken guy. Her newborn son Shyu, has a shot at being our daughter's first boyfriend.

3,4,5) Photos of the completed chicken extension. Basically it is just a three story storage shelf with the second floor made into a chicken nest. I broke a hole in the wall to give them access from their usual dungeon, and padded it with copious amounts of rice straw for insulation. It has recycled shoji doors with old plastic sheets to keep in warmth, while also letting in light in the short cold summer days. While I have only actually seen them using the area once, there is an egg waiting in there every morning, so I know they go inside.

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The last photo is another of Tomoe lounging around. The baby is trying to come out a bit too early, so she is under doctor's orderd to stay put. Its great for me because I can do what I want around the house without worry about interfence.

Chillin in the Living Room
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