2014年12月8日月曜日

2014年12月4日木曜日

Nothing lasts forever...

...not even cold November rain.

Remember that song? 


I used to love it. And the video. And that wild wedding dress.

I always thought the line about November rain was really deep and philosophical.

Growing up in Australia I never really got it. November rain is spring rain- it's not even cold.... And summer in Oz is really dry so there's not a lot of rain anyway.

But moving to the Northern Hemisphere I get it.

I really get it.

There is this weird rain that is half sleet half rain and it's relentless and it's COOOLLLLLLD!!

And it feels like it may never end and it makes me sing Guns'n'Roses...

But as the calendar changed from November to December this Monday I realised something.

Guns'nRoses weren't being poetic or philosophical.

Nope.

They were just showing they can read a calendar and a weather report.

You see, November raid doesn't last forever.

Just look:


November will always eventually but most definitely become December.

And relentless November rain will sure as not turn to December snow.

And that's why nothing lasts forever, not even cold November rain.

2014年11月30日日曜日

An apple a day....

Or a few dozen boxes of them!

So, I like to help people. Who doesn't?

So, when my neighbour asked me to help fill in the address labels on some boxes of apples she was sending I said sure.

(Actually I said- are you sure?? In a neighbourhood of Japanese people you want me to write all that kanji for you?)

Then I said sure.

Then I wrote out 42 address labels in kanji.

Horrific kanji.

Really complicated kanji and for about 10 of the addresses I was working from a handwritten list. this is kind of like being asked to rewrite doctor scrawl. How can you know what to write when you don't know what to copy??

Anyway, I got it done.

I delivered the address labels.


Then after she packed all the apple boxes K and I took them all down to the apples-to-be-posted-collection-area.


Our k-truck has a maximum tare of 300 kilos.

The usual apples-to-be-sent box weighs 10 kilos.

I'm not super good at maths but, even with some 5 kilo boxes thrown in the mix I'm pretty sure that 42 boxes of apples is over the tare limit.

I was the only person who was worried that this was illegal and quite possibly unsafe as well.... And sliding boards down the side of the tray and roping everything in doesn't change that fact.

The apples-to-be-posted-collection-area is a really cool place.

It's in one of the (several) warehouses at the local petrol station.

Which also doubles as the local rice dehusker/ polisher and kero delivery business.

Multi-talented, huh?

Anyway, K and I drove right into the warehouse and lo and behold there's a little table there with two guys in Japan Post uniforms (on a Sunday??) and about six guys in workwear absolutely killing it. Seriously, the productivity level here was amazing.

We were unloaded, boxes reloaded into trollies based on destination and box weight, customer copies of all the address labels removed, counted, collated, totalled and signed off on in under 5 minutes.

Which is just as well, as, after we were finished being gobsmacked by the amazingness of the process, after we got back in the car and drove through to the other side of the warehouse (of course it was drive through) we realised we had gone in the out and were now driving past a nice neat line of trucks and vans waiting patiently for their turn.

Oops.

Blurry picture of the super cool apples-to-be-posted-collection-centre:


It's just unfortunate that now we mucked that up so badly we may never be able to go back...

2014年11月20日木曜日

weekend farm kids

When your parents are weekend farmers you get to be a weekend farm kid.

We have never made a big deal out of this. It's just 'Get your paddy clothes on, we're off to the rice paddy.'

Sometimes they help out and sometimes they play.

Taking your kids to the field with you is something people used to do a lot more than they do now and so it makes the retiree age farmers around us get all nostalgic. 

One of the neighbours told me how she used to tie her toddlers to an apple tree with a rug, some toys and a drink while she worked. 

Wow.

Others tell me of how, pre-machination, kids were a vital part of the rice harvest as they picked up all the stray strands of rice and made them into bunches.

At last year's community meeting of the local PTA, kids' club leaders, neighbourhood leaders and neighbourhood welfare workers one of the neighbourhood leaders who just happens to farm next to us, used her 2 minutes to reveal to all present that our kids are out in the field running around and playing and everyone else should lock up their kids' DS's and send them outside too.  It was slightly squirm inducing and I felt like I should have added a disclaimer that we don't actually give the girls a choice and Meg does actually have a DS....

While I do get pangs of guilt that other kids are spending their weekends at karaoke, cheering on the city's soccer team, at festivals, shopping centres, movie theatres or Disneyland while Meg and Amy are in their gumboots making daisy chains again, all in all I think they will appreciate the freedom they had and the adventures it afforded them.

Exhibit A:


This is a set of rice rack legs. Well it was until it became a bird nest. Amy is the mother bird and the little girl at the bottom is the baby. Meg is making sure the nest doesn't fall on the baby bird.

Exhibit B:


Mum and Dad spent a looooonnng time during the rice harvest with a rake and a pitch fork spreading out the chopped up rice straw so it will become fertiliser for next year's crop.

Then Meg, Amy and the little friend built this tepee from a number of sets of rice rack legs and spent a loooong time collecting up armfuls of carefully spread rice straw to furnish their tepee.

We finished the rice harvest at 2:30. The weather was cold, the wind was colder, everyone just wanted to get out, get home and get lunch.

Well, everyone except the kids who had to be cajoled out of their tepee and home again. They are adamant the tepee should become a permanent fixture in the paddy.

The fact that that would make growing rice very difficult is beside the point.

Gotta love the thinking of the weekend farm kids.







2014年11月19日水曜日

Old skool

Last Christmas we went to Australia. Meg and I were riding around the neighbourhood chatting while Meg checked out the real estate (she doesn't want much- just a house with a wrap around verandah, a pool, a paved driveway and a basketball hoop...) when we came across a garage sale.

An old school garage sale with all the goods out on sheets in the driveway and things going for 50 cents and a dollar. We raced home and grabbed my wallet and went back and bought them out.

Well not really but almost!

Meg got a whole lot of science magazines, Amy got Where's Wally books, they both got Little Miss pyjamas, Meg picked up a bunch of her favourite Target camisole tops (shirts in Australia, underwear in Japan), I picked up some great board games and on a whim, to round our purchases up to a whopping $10 I threw in a dance dance revolution game.

I remember dance dance revolution from when I was on exchange here- game centres had huge crowds around the dance dance revolution games as players robotically moved in time to the prompts on the screen.

We are a wii/ playstation/ xbox free household so this is our first video game. 

Amy had a friend over on the weekend and they got it out.

The friend was asking questions:

Where do the mats plug in?

They don't.

Ahhhh is it wifi?

Nope.

How does it work?

You just dance.

...... cool!

And so they did.

They danced and danced on their non-plugged in mats.

And I had to use the remote to change the song every 2-3 minutes as requested after I saw Amy poking at the TV screen.

Poor child usually watches TV on the i-pad and didn't realise our TV is not a touchscreen....

She needs a bit more old skool education, huh?


2014年11月18日火曜日

arbourartists

Manicured trees are very popular here.

Some of them look like normal trees but just rather unusually symmetrical and a little too picture perfect for nature to have done.

Others are like the toy poodle of the garden world. All bauble-like round tufts of foliage on bare branches.

One thing they all have in common is how much time, effort and money goes into the upkeep.

Now is the season for pruning and small teams (usually just 2-3) of old men (it's a traditional art so the gardeners tend to be older guys) with their two and three legged ladders, their aprons, their little scissors and bigger shears, their little brushes for shaking down the prunings and their large plastic sheets for ease of cleaning up.

The trees are usually about roof height or a little taller.

But this time we were stuck at the traffic lights watching a team working on this huge tree:



Notice the ladders are tied back with ropes so they don't touch the tree at all?

I'm sure it's all safe and stable and all but that's not my idea of fun for sure!!


I was trying to think how you'd describe this job. I mean gardener seems far too simple. They're not really arbourists as their job has a narrower scope... and it's quite an artistic endeavour getting the shape and balance jussssstttt right.

So I came up with my own word- arbourartists!



2014年11月17日月曜日

pretty

It's lucky there're no roses in bloom this time of year as, between the rice, the veggies, the darn falling leaves (could they not just all fall at once so I could rake once and be done with it???) and preparing the fields for winter there's just no time to stop and smell the roses!

Coming from Australia with its eucalypts and banksias and ti-trees and all the other grey-green all year round trees there really is something enchanting about the way the leaves change colour here though.

Well, there was the first time until I realised that changing leaves is a surefire sign that winter and all its bleak chilly cold, freezingness is coming.

So I don't enjoy the beautiful red and yellow leaves quite as much as that first winter but I do still have to admit that they are pretty:


It would just be nice if they could be a precursor to Spring rather than winter!