Monday, 28 June 2010

A busy weekend

So busy in fact, that we started it on Friday :-)

H took a half day, we met up for lunch and then drove to Misasa to spend the night at a Japanese style inn there. I won't bore you with all the details again, as it's the same place we stayed at in February and last July.

Unfortunately, the rainy season really started to kick in over the weekend, so we weren't able to do all the things we had planned. On the way to Misasa it was only raining a little bit, so we stopped at a park to play...

... and look at amusingly shaped trees.

After arriving at the hotel I went for a hot spring bath and then it was time for dinner. K had the 'Kid's Meal' which consisted of 3 deep-fried shrimp, a piece of fried chicken, a small beefburger, some salad, a bowl of soup....

... and rice, fruit and ice cream. Needless to say, he didn't eat it all, although he did give it his best shot!

Despite the rain we went for a little walk after dinner, just to hear the frogs. Here at home we are serenaded by frogs in the rice fields every night too, but in Misasa they have a less common variety which sound like this. I tried to look up the name of the frog, kajika-gaeru in English but just got 'Kajika frog'. I was interested to see that the kanji for it is 'river-deer-frog'!

On the way back to the hotel I spotted a snake crossing the road in front of us. Until last week I don't think I'd ever seen a snake on the loose in Japan and now, with the one on our lawn the other day, I've seen two...

Since Saturday brought lots more rain, we had a leisurely morning leaving the hotel, going back to the hotel for something we'd forgotten (...) and browsing round a few shops before heading home. In the evening I went out for a farewell dinner with Heidi and Steve, who left Japan today for Canada, marriage and 'Annie'! Heidi has been a great friend and yoga teacher over the last couple of years and I will miss her...

Yesterday the rain and humidity continued. I got up at 5.30 to take 2 trains to Izumo, run two children's parties, take a train back to Matsue for a couple more parties and then get yet another train and bus back home. It was a long and tiring day, and we finally gave in and put the air-conditioning on last night...

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Something new...

... in my shop: fabric sets!

I only have one fat quarter (50cm x 55cm) of each of these fabrics so I thought I'd sell them as sets. There are lovely little piggies on navy blue and natural beige backgrounds...

... and cool, funky flowers in blue, pink and black, all newly listed in the shop today!

In other shop news, my sale on orders of 4 fat quarters or more ends at the end of June, so don't miss out! There's up to 20% off, so if you're interested in any of my fabrics, now is the time....

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Answers on a postcard please...

Every time we go to Mount Daisen we pass this mystery sign. It has nothing written on it and has exactly the same picture on the other side. It's next to a big road in the middle of nowhere; there are no vets, pet shops, zoos, animal rescue centres or dog-trimming salons anywhere nearby.

So what do you think it's all about??

Sunday, 20 June 2010

At the weekend

Another weekend, another park. This one is halfway up Mount Daisen. Saturday was overcast but very hot and humid, but it was a lot more comfortable up there.

It was the first time we'd taken K there (although I did once go with Lily, eons ago...) and it was great. He could manage most of the play equipment, even if we doubted that he could, and there were lots of slides, his favourite thing at the moment.

Lots of wide open spaces to run about in too. I suspect we'll be heading up there to try to escape from the heat quite often in the next month. The restaurant we stopped at for lunch might see us again too...

Although it was cloudy all day on Saturday, it didn't rain. Today started bright and sunny so I hung out some washing, but it was raining by lunchtime...

Nevertheless, H got a lot of weeding done and tended to his vegetables and climbing plants. Sadly, the climbing plants are not as enthusiastic about their mission to create shade for us as we had hoped. At this rate there won't be any shade on the patio until August, when K and I won't even be here, so I bought a sudare, a kind of screen made of reeds, and H and I rigged it up this morning. It's not really big enough but it's not bad, and for 500 yen I think it was a sound investment.

And after much um-ing and ah-ing, and disregarding of parental advice, I bought some patio furniture. We've actually got 4 chairs, and cushions to go on them, but for now I just set out 2. I intend to sit out there and have my breakfast each morning, depending on the weather and what time K gets up...

Meanwhile, K was in training for some footie with Grandad later in the summer...

Today also brought a tricycle for K! We have collected lots of points from the bags of nappies that K uses, and sent them off for a tricycle months ago. It was finally delivered this morning and we took it out for a little ride to the shrine and H's parents' house.

It has a handle at the back for an adult to push, which also controls the steering. And to K's delight it also has a squeaky horn! He's looking rather concerned here, but he loves it and wanted to bring it back into the house to ride too.

After taking this picture I peeled off the 'Goon' (nappy brand. I know.) sticker, and H stuck it on his shirt. And there it stayed until H noticed it in the mirror of the restaurant toilets at lunchtime! Hee hee...

H's parents weren't in when we passed by their house, but the cat (who they've been feeding every day for at least a year but is still considered a 'stray') was there. K enjoyed stroking him and I think the cat liked it too.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

A new addition to the family?

No, no, I'm not pregnant. Settle down.

Lately K can be found chanting 'Da-ddy, Mu-mmy, Ba-by, Ba-tty!', over and over again and with great excitement.

'Baby' seems to refer to himself, but who on earth is 'Batty'?

I wonder if he's a friend of Eddie and Abbley-Dabbley...

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Colours of summer

Summer seems to be here, although 'officially' we have just entered the rainy season. There were a couple of wet days earlier this week but yesterday and today have been bright, hot and quite humid. Driving back to town just after lunch, I saw a roadside temperature display which read 33 degrees...

When there is some wind, K loves watching this spin around. It was a present from H's relatives.

No, it's not jam, although it did put me in the mood for some lemon curd. We put dollops of this lovely gel into Ziploc bags (taped shut too, just in case...) and then K enjoyed squishing them together and seeing how the colours mixed and changed. I found this idea, called Rainbow in a Bag, on Jo's blog, A Bit Of This And A Bit Of That, ages ago and she originally got it from The Artful Parent. Shall I now pass it on to you?

Mix a cup of corn starch, 1/3 of a cup of sugar and 4 cups of water in a saucepan. Heat it and stir until it thickens, then remove from the heat and stir a bit more. Divide the mixture into 3 and colour it (red, yellow and blue), then let it cool. Put 2 spoonfuls each (or in our case, 'a dollop') of red and blue in one bag, red and yellow in another, blue and yellow in a third and all three colours in the last bag. Then squish! I forgot to take pictures of the results (....) so you'll just have to believe me that they were really quite beautiful.

The rice fields are full of water and lovely and green now, and we often see herons and egrets coming to feast on the frogs and tadpoles. We also spotted a snake close to a metre long yesterday - on our lawn!

Friday, 11 June 2010

At the weekend - part 2

It won't be long until it becomes really hot and humid here and I become reluctant to leave the comfort of air-conditioning. So for now I'm keen to get out and do stuff while the weather suits me. Following on from our little play at the beach on Saturday, we went to a little petting zoo on Sunday.

We went there with K once before, but he was too small to enjoy the playground then. Not this time though...

I hovered over K while he climbed up this laddery thing, but he did do it All By Himself, despite it wobbling on its chains every time he moved. K climbed up and over the blue pole and then stood there looking very pleased with himself, pointing out to everyone what he'd just done.

Then it was time to visit the animals.

Once again, the goats were viewed purely from outside the enclosure. I saw the evil little creatures knock over a boy about K's age and so felt completely vindicated in my decision.

The guinea pigs were a whole different story (as you would expect...). K returned to them 3 or 4 times throughout the afternoon.

No proper pigs this time though, only the guinea variety, due to the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Kyushu.

Plenty of kangaroos though...

... and sleepy dogs lazing in the sun.

Lately K is very interested in driving so we had a little go on the ride-on dinosaur. I operated the foot pedal and K steered. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more...

And finally, something completely unrelated.

I woke up this morning, just before 7, to find K standing next to our bed. Holding an onion.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

At the weekend

As you can see, finding a spot on the beach last Saturday was not a big problem.

This beach is the nearest one to our house, less than 5 minutes in the car. I like beaches more like this one really, with cliffs and rock-pools, but I won't complain about having a big stretch of clean, fine sand on our doorstep.

K enjoyed paddling in the sea; see how his trousers get wetter and wetter in each photo. There was a bit of playing in the sand too, but the most popular activity was definitely scooping and pouring water, using his new watering can and bucket...

By the way, these photos of K are post-haircut :-)

After the previous hair-cutting debacle, I was a bit nervous about doing it again and put it off until I couldn't bear to be asked if K was a girl one more time. I was also very careful not to cut off too much (evidently...) and I think the result is, well, acceptable. That's all I ask.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Dentist - done!

If you've been reading this blog for a while you may have heard that I've been going to the dentist virtually every Tuesday afternoon.... since December. That's half a year! Even by Japanese standards, where a simple filling takes several visits, that's a long, long time.

Finally, after having a tooth taken out, a root canal, a couple of little fillings and lots of cleaning, I'm done. Hurray!

Is it very strange that I didn't really mind going too much? Most of the time it didn't hurt, and I got to sit back and read my book in the waiting room, or while waiting in the chair for my turn to come around again. It was one of the few times in the week where I could just sit still and not feel that I ought to be doing something else...

What will I do with my Tuesday afternoons from now on? Oh, the possibilities...

Monday, 7 June 2010

In the shop now!

Some of the fabrics I have recently added to the shop, including a new Little Red Riding Hood one, this time in a lovely linen blend! I'm particularly keen on the super-cute musical cats, and the yellow candy and cake print, but of course I love them all :-)

Which one do you like best?

Friday, 4 June 2010

Garden update

Everything is looking quite green out there now including the weeds, although H has been working hard on that. The lawn, which we laid in May last year, has greened up nicely after the brown winter months and the lines between the squares of turf are becoming less and less noticeable.

In this photo you can see some planters along the edge of the patio. They contain morning glory seedlings which are under orders to grow up and across that net to provide some shade. There is a second row below the patio, planted directly into the ground, so hopefully enough of them will thrive to create a comfortable environment to sit outside in.

Looking back from the other side you can see that The Tree has grown a lot this spring. (I just looked it up and discovered that it's a Sawtooth Oak in English (kunugi in Japanese) and that it's described as one of the fastest-growing trees that you can find!). It's a bit hard to tell in this picture but the rice fields behind our garden have been planted now too.

From the bottom corner of the garden you can see lots of nice green camellia leaves, and a couple of roses flowering. They were rescued from Tim's garden when his house was due to be demolished, and seem to have taken to their new home quite well.

The Japanese garden at the front of the house is quite green and shady now. All I need now is the time to sit in the engawa, look out of those big windows on the right of the photo and enjoy it!

Just out of shot on the right there is some bamboo, next to the front door. New shoots which were just pushing through a few weeks ago are now up to the roof! I really like it but there is the concern that it'll pop up where we don't want it, like in the middle of the path or even through the house foundations!

As well as weeding and planting morning glories, H has been busy with the little vegetable patch too. He pulled up the old broccoli plants, but left the canola/rape/na-no-hana. It's all gone to seed now and it's making a nice little snack for all the little birds around here. We've got 2 cherry tomato plants, a couple more broccoli plants and a cucumber which appeared to have died but now seems to have popped up again a bit further along the row. H also planted some corn which has just come up so hopefully we'll have our own supply this year!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

No rest for the wicked

Ever wondered what the inside of your sewing machine looked like? Ever wondered what would happen if K was left unattended for a minute or so? The following photo answers both of those questions...

Running down the hall in response to a loud crash I firstly found K, looking as if butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, and then my sewing machine hanging off the desk by the cable. I switched it on and the light came on, so hopefully it still works...

All this happened during so-called Nap Time. K has barely napped at all over the last couple of weeks (except at day-care and when H's mum is looking after him....), and now won't even just stay in his cot and rest like he used to. Instead he kicks the cot away from the wall, opens the little storage door and slides out, free to play with the stereo or wander downstairs.

Today I thought I'd tire K out by taking him to the local Mother and Toddler group (playing outside) and to the park, including a picnic lunch, but it seems that the only one feeling sleepy in the afternoon was me. As well as the sewing machine incident, I found K outside on the patio (having unlocked and opened the patio doors) while I was hanging out the washing this morning and later spotted a little traffic jam on his wooden car slide:

That's the 'B' key from this computer, prised off while I was washing the dishes, and a nut used to keep the legs on the kitchen table....

K has also figured out how to unlock the baby gate keeping him in the main living area, something which a lot of adult visitors find challenging. For now we've replaced it with a fence you have to climb over and all is well again, but once K figures out he can just push a chair to it and climb over I don't know how I'll get through the day! It has been suggested to me that full run of the house and the end of naps mean that it's time to start pre-school...