my hero

I don't give K enough credit on here I think.

He grew up in the suburbs of a regional city, never did any outside work at all. His dad had a veggie garden the size of a carpark. Literally the size of a carpark as they converted their second carpark space into a garden.

Anyway- it's a long way from there to the tractor driving, rice planting, chainsaw wielding, chook cage constructing, hoeing, tilling, harvesting, hauling, planting and watering machine that he is now.

And the most knight-in-shining-armour aspect of the whole deal is he always helps first and questions later. This may not seem like a big deal but I am prone to get into awkward and difficult situations based on following a hairbrained idea without thinking it through. At times like that- you know when you just broke the car jack trying to lift the rice hanging frame up in the mud... or you're hooked by the crotch on barbed wire while tippy-toeing over a fence holding two chooks at a time.... well at times like that someone who just helps without asking how on earth you got into that situation is more valuable than precious metals. Probably rarer too!

Anyway... on to Monday and the reason for this (first in a loooonnngggg time) post:

We have had chook apartheid going on for about 4 months with the three old chooks and the six young ones in the same cage but separated by a netting fence. This is because chooks can be evil and vile to each other as they set up a pecking order and I prefer to have everyone alive and separate than together and injured/ dead. This system had to change soon as the old chooks have rain cover in their section of the cage but inadequate shelter for a Nagano winter.  On a whim I decided to remove the fence Monday around 11:30. I was going to be around the house till about 2:30 so I could watch for any OTT bullying and reasess the situation. Our chook cage is a ramshackle affair that we keep extending. I removed the top half of the internal netting wall thinking the old chooks would come flying over and start stealing food and chasing around the young chooks. I stood ready to protect and defend in the young chooks section of the cage keeping my eye on those cunning older chooks.

Could not have been further wrong. In literally seconds the young chooks realised they could now jump up onto the roof of the former cage and walk along the rafters and get to the (unnetted) roof of the new cage. In four months the old chooks NEVER did this so it didn't even occur to me.

It started raining.

Three of the new chooks are now at various places on the roof.

Completely free.

They haven't figured this out yet but it's a matter of time.

I start using the lid of the feed container to shoo them back into the cage while making dashes for netting, clips, ties and scissors. This is a farce of me lugging a ladder hither and there trying to stay calm and avoid the chooks realising that a) they are free and b) I am trying to pen them again.

I don't want to scare them too much either as I don't want them to panic and make for freedom and I don't want them to stop thinking I'm a nice person as it's easier to look after them if I can pick them up and also just because I want everyone to think I'm a nice person- even chooks.

I was getting almost no progress made on fixing the situation, was getting increasingly panicky and really rather wet as the rain was steady.

I realised it was now 12 and K was on his lunch break. While kneeling on the unstable and ancient roof of the chook cage, uncertain of whether it was safer to go forward or back to get off the roof and hoping I wouldn't be going straight down any time soon I called and gabbled out my problem (which was pretty unintelligible I'm sure) and the amazingly wonderful K said "I'll be there in 5" and came home, rescued me, helped pen the chooks and went back to work for a meeting as though nothing had ever happened.

My hero!


rice harvest

Look at the beautiful blue sky and yellow rice.


Well, perfect today but not so great actually as we had two typhoons bring heavy rain and the paddy is completely waterlogged. :(

Oh well. The machines couldn't get in so we hauled all the drying poles down there, distributed them around the paddy, set everything up then harvested all the mochi rice and some (a verrryyyyy smalllllll fraction) of the regular rice by hand.

Cutting by hand is no big deal. A hand scythe easily cuts through a tuft of rice.

Tying by hand is a hassle.

A reallllll hassle.

Not fun at all.

So I was sooo proud of the girls helping out!

Look at that cooperation!

Now if only the weather, the machines, the rice paddy and the helpers can all cooperate for another weekend so we can get it DONE!

Gratuitous shot of the helpers making clover chains with a friend:


29 dreams

Today was Meg's final parent day for grade 4.

They held a 'half-way to being an adult' day.

They did a really amazing presentation that was so smooth and really exciting to watch with spoken word, song, chanting, slideshow presentations etc etc.

Part of it was every single child holding a card they'd made with their dream job for their future written on it.

It was all set to background music of them singing a song about growing up.

Sniff sniff.

There are 29 kids in Meg's class and these are their dreams:



The kind of employee who is loved by his superiors.



Famous fisherman and professional soccer player

Kinder teacher and pet shop employee

Very very rich marine biologist


Kinder teacher

Dog groomer

Member of the Japan National soccer team


Professional baseball player

Zoo attendent


Pro tennis player (and play in US Open)

Dance teacher

Pro soccer player

Animal handler

I want to take my family on an overseas holiday!

Professional baseball player


Soccer player

Tokyo Disneyland employee

Famous chef and pro baseball player


As fast as Usain Bolt

A singer

Cake shop owner


I love their dreams. So pure, so big, so naive!

May all 29 of them find their happiness wherever their lives lead them.

And may the kids contemplating not one but TWO careers learn the importance of free time somewhere along the way!


Pretty cold

For all my complaining about the cold and the snow and the ice and all that there are mornings and days and afternoons and sunsets when the views here are just so beautiful, the sky so blue, the mountains so big and white, the snow so sparkly, that I forget that it's so cold and just think how pretty the cold dry air makes things.

Those days I call "pretty cold" days.


My boots don't fit



My boots don't fit anymore!!

Huh? Didn't you wear them yesterday?

Yeah, but they fit yesterday and they DON'T FIT TODAY!

Sighing I walked over to the genkan to see what the problem was. I mean Amy is growing like a weed but to outgrow your snowboots overnight seemed a little unusual...

I bent to pick up her boot sure she just had a discarded sock stuffed in there or something-

Aghhhhh grunt. ???????

They were frozen solid! Frozen to the floor AND frozen in a very weird angle- closer to 45 degrees than 90.

AMY??? These are frozen to the floor. I thought I asked you to put any wet snow gear by the fire last night? What happened???!!!!

Hands on hips she sighed and looked to the heavens before calmly explaining to me:

They're not wet.  They're frozen.


I learnt something today

I learnt something today.

I like learning stuff.

I've learnt lots of stuff about living in snow already.

I've learnt:

  • Snow is slippery- ice is worse. Walk on snow if you only have the choice between the two.

  • Even powder snow will go wet and make you soggy and miserable when it melts. Always, always brush the snow off when you go indoors.

  • Even powder snow, even slushy half thawed snow, even regular snow snow- heck- all snow- will freeze solid to your porch over night. Never put off removing the snow from your porch. Never.

  • Driving on snow and ice sucks. You're gonna slip, you're gonna slide. Your teeth will be rattled out of your head on the weird corrugated wave pattern unshoveled show inevitably freezes into on the roads.  Your wheels will spin, you'll lose traction. You won't be able to turn where you want or how you want. Driving on snow and ice sucks.

And today?

Today I learnt something new about driving in the snow.

Well parking in the snow actually.

See, they shovelled the snow to the edge of the carparks after last week's snow.

So after this week's snow there was nowhere for the snow to go and after they piled it up at the ends of the carparks the parking areas are good for VW Bugs, Morris Minors and anything made by Little Tikes.  Real cars? Big cars? The 7 seater people movers so popular among families? Yeah, not so much.

So, I got to after school care and inched my way between the snow pile sentinels at the entrance to the carpark in a move reminiscent of the dreaded S-bend at driving school. Phew.... I thought that was going to be the hard bit but then I had to try and park far enough back to not block through traffic between me and the people movers parked opposite. No problem! I have big wheels and I've been driving over snow banks all week. I am big car driver- hear me roar!!!


What happened to the roar?

Not even a murmur??

Our car is a diesel engine. It's not something you'd call quiet.

But now it was silent.

Turned the key and-



Aghhhhh????? Ehhhhhhh???? Whaaaaaaa?????

Started freaking out. Cut the engine. Jumped out of the car and looked under it. Nothing.

Looked for steam escaping from the bonnet- nothing.

Walked round the back- uhhhhh....

I had backed WAAYYYYY into the snowbank.

I couldn't even see my rear bumper let alone my exhaust pipe.

I had a feeling that was a kind of bad thing....

I learnt that from a kid who transferred to my high school from juvenile detention- or that was the rumour anyway- he wan't there for long.... who knows where he is now.... we didn't keep in contact for some reason..... but he was at my school long enough to get annoyed with a science teacher and plug his exhaust with mud one day. I remember that and that it was a bad thing for the car, the teacher and the kid.

Pretty sure that snow would be equally bad I decided to dig myself out. Easy- just scoop the snow away, right?


Bloody snow was not nice fluffy snow. It was crunchy, icy packed into rock-solid shape snow. I had no digging utensil bigger than a toothbrush.

Hmmm... I remembered that I had learnt that exhaust pipes are very hot. Learnt that from a girl at Uni whose romantic date riding pillion on her boyfriend's motorbike ended up with a trip to hospital and a really bad burn on her bare calf.

Hot exhaust pipe melts rock-solid icy snow unblocks exhaust.

Damn, I'm smart.

Well, not smart enough to not back into the snowbank in the first place but I did get the car started, re-parked and picked the girls up without anybody noticing my predicament.

And I get to add to my list of things I've learnt.


Dear Sir...

Dear Mr Nissan Patrol driver,

Your car is so shiny! You must love your car more than me.

Your car looked clean and washed and quite possibly rather new.

My car is 20 years old and covered in white markings from the salt on the roads.

Both our cars are on the bigger side aren't they?

I bet you enjoy driving around looking out on other cars and being able to see up ahead what the traffic is doing as much as I do.

How about this snow we've had, huh?  CRAZY!  Breaking records left right and centre.

The roads are a mess though aren't they? A crazy patchwork of ice, bitumen, snow, over salted gritty spots- it's like a rollercoaster out there.

Lucky I don't have dentures or they'd rattle right out just getting into town I reckon!

It took me over an hour to make a 30 minute drive yesterday.

The roads are so narrow in some places I couldn't even pass a little kei-car. Spent a lot of time backing up into driveways or waiting for someone else to do the same.

It was a little hairy at times and certainly not a relaxing drive but you know what? It was kind of heartening to feel part of a bigger community of people all doing the giving and taking thing to make sure we all get home safely.

And then I met you.

On a corner.

On a road that's narrow anyway.

The centre line was only 30cm from the edge of the road on my side so It wasn't going to happen.

I had three cars behind me (love that big car extra vision don't you?)

You had noone behind you.

But you just stopped dead still.

I know the road laws here. I'm sure you do too: whichever one of us is moving when we collide has the responsibility for the accident. The flip side being as long as you are stationary you are fault free.

So you stopped. All four wheels on black.

I inched up into a snowbank on my side figuring if I did that and then stopped you'd do the same and get by and we'd all go about our way.

But no.

Your precious car doesn't do snowbanks huh?

I waited.

And gestured.

All that big car extra vision wasn't working though as you couldn't see me gesturing that I was already in the snow.

So I gave up and kept edging into the snow.

I got stuck.

The cars behind me all backed up so I could reverse and try again.

I was sweating. My wheels were spinning. I needed speed to get traction but not so much speed I kept going into a concrete block fence.

You my friend looked remarkably serene.

I got passed.

No thanks to you.

You kept your spot while the cars behind me used my tracks to get around you too.

Please watch this video:

(caveat- I only watched the first 20 seconds of this. If naked women or cruelty to animals appear after that it was not my intention to publicise that.)

Look at that Nissan Patrol go!

If you are still unwilling to get a little snow on your tires please just stay home till Spring.

Yours emphatically,

The Delica driver who only just made it past you last night.