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September 29, 2011

More on the Rice

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More from the rice harvest. You may think the ninja would be a big help because she should be handy with various blades. Think again. I am proud to say that even though I am not a ninja myself, I am hands down the fasted with an ine-kama.

Next week is dakkoku time so I gotta start practicing with my ashifumi dakkoki pedal powered rice kernel-off-the-stalker

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September 27, 2011

Almost October Garden

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Spent some time in the back garden this morning making sure Mona didn't bug mommy too much. Luckily Mona can find lots to do on her own with bugs and frogs and just eating dirt, so I was free to take a few photos.

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September 25, 2011

Rice Week

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Just to prove to his wife that he was actually here working, Wes from Hiking in Japan insisted (at rice-cutting-blade point) that I post these photos.

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With the help of Wes and our faithful local assistant Maiko, we are on track to finish the rice harvest today. The weather couldn't be better for us, with sunny skies after a few days of typhoon. It also doesn't hurt that we only grew half the amount as last year.

Mona helped as well, but due to child labor laws, we had to give her outrageous amounts of break time which she more than happily took advantage of.

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The typhoon wasn't so great for most of the neighbors though.

On the first night of the typhoon, Mr. Neighbor was ordering Mrs. Neighbor to come with him to the rice field and help him harvest it by hand - starting at 8pm. They would have to work all night in the rain and dark. She said he was crazy. He said "If you want rice this year you will get your... " (I'm just paraphrasing as I imagine what words were spoken. I actually have no idea.)

Why such a rush? Their field is the closest to the river and it had been RAINING for two days straight. I went down in the afternoon to at least tie the metal drying racks to a tree so that if the river did flood (as it does every few years) we would only loose all our rice, but the racks may stand a chance.

So far no flooding, but it takes a while for the water to make its way from the mountains down into the river, so just because the rain has stopped by now, there is still a chance for flooding. If not, we should have it all harvested this weekend.

With the typhoon and rain, many of the rice stalks have toppled. When the rice stalks get too heavy, they fall over and it makes it quite troublesome for the farmers to harvest it. Instead of just driving a harvesting machine through the field, they often need a second person to hold the rice up with a stick and guide it into the blades of the machine. When the rice is heavy and wet, as it is now, you can imagine the added difficulty. If they wait for the rice to dry a bit, there is the risk that it will begin to sprout.

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You can guess that no one is happy about the rain. What surprises me most though, is that people act as though they were taken by surprise. I have been here four years and every year there is rain just before the harvest. Every year the rice gets heavy with water and falls over. Every year there is the fear of flooding. Am I the only one who is used to it?!?

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September 18, 2011

More and More and more Mona

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With more and more and more to come.

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September 17, 2011

Still alive. Who wants ta know?

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Still alive. Arm is getting better. Rice is almost ready to harvest. Mona is getting bigger. Just thought I would throw a few photos up for the family.

She is taller than all of her peers now, and can run faster than her 3+ year old neighbor. She doesn't really talk much, other than "apa" meaning Anpan-man (a Japanese cartoon character), and "Mickey", meaning either Micky or Minney mouse.

It seems a common filler for awkward wordless moments when one is stuck standing silently next to the mother of the child your own child is playing with is "What does your daughter like to play? Cooking? Trains?". I have fun saying "Jigsaw puzzles" and "children's sudoku."

Here are some photos to prove we are taking relatively good care of her, despite the many scratches and scrapes that seem to shock all of our neighbors, and despite walking barefoot on "spiky" grass.

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I swear she is an almost-two-year-old girl, but in this photo she looks like she could be a five-year-old choir boy.

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