Friday, July 24, 2015

Ready for the off!

Clean kitchen after three days of doing bits in between other jobs! Seiju will be home but I wanted to leave it clean for him. 

The bags are packed, checked in online for the main flights. Now I have to try to sleep. Not very good at that the night before flying anywhere...!

Just testing

Trying a post from my phone!

Last minute panic!

This first picture is an illustration of great Japanese service. Seiju's bike had to go for its two yearly check and service, and he called to arrange an appointment. The man, who has serviced all of Seiju's bikes for 35 years now - this current bike is now 30 years old, said that he was going to be in our town late on Monday evening, (which was a public holiday), so he'd pick up the bike rather than Seiju having to make the long trip out there. So here is a photo of him loading Seiju's bike onto his truck at 8:40pm on a public holiday, with at least an hour and a half's driving ahead of him to get back to his workshop. We asked why he was in the area and he'd been delivering a repaired bike to a near neighbour, also a long-time customer! Seiju then asked how to get to the workshop by public transport as I won't be around to drive him when it's ready. The workshop is literally in the middle of nowhere surrounded by rice fields, so you can get so far but then there's a several mile walk ahead of you. The man told him the nearest station and then said "Call me when you get there and I'll come and pick you up." None of this cost any money. 

 The same thing happened last week when Seiju had done massive repairs on his own car but then the ABS light wouldn't go off. He realised a cable had broken, so he ordered it, the wheels came off yet again, but on changing it the light still wouldn't go off. So he took it to a Suzuki dealer and told them. The mechanics took the car to the shop, and hooked it up to their computer which told them the other side cable was also broken but in an invisible place, so they ordered another one for him. Then they gave the whole thing a once over, checked his work and declared it very well done, and handed the car back. No charge! (He did order the cables from them but I am sure they get very little profit from that.)

While he was messing with bike and car, I was making raspberry vinegar. Really good. An inch in the bottom of a glass is nice with fizzy water on a hot day.

 Then I had about 800g of black currants I picked a few days ago that needed dealing with. I had a few apples in the kitchen so thought I might stretch the jam with those, and then my eye fell on a bag of oranges! Yum. So I put in eight oranges, four apples, and the blackcurrants, seeds skin and all, and boiled it up. I sieved the pulp and then added sugar.
 The kitchen looked like a murder scene.
 While it was cooling I made a daffodil! And finally, I got three kilos of the most rich, smooth, lovely cassis orange jam. It's like spreading a chuhai (Japanese fruity cocktaily thing) on your morning toast!
 Random snap of stupid Tshirt in local shops!
 On Facebook among the foreign wives here in Japan there has been a lot of chocolate mint ice cream chat lately. This year finally Japan has realised that there is such a flavour and all kinds of snacks are popping up. I had a rather harrowing staff meeting at the kindergarten I teach at (lots of schedule changes and just hard work, nothing terrible!) and pulled in to 7-11 for a coffee pick me up. And a quick check of my phone. First item on Facebook was a photo of this new ice cream. It was a sign! So I bought one. Good, very minty. But too sweet.
 Harry and I are going to England. Right now it is hot and sticky and the kitchen is covered with a layer of grease and sugar. I determined to go through it and scrub everything before I leave. This was how it started. I have not finished and we leave tomorrow......
I also finished this baby blanket to use up most of the rest of my horrible green cotton. No idea who this is for - I need to wash and block it first to see if it holds up, the yarn was really cheap. 

 I also started a plane project. I think it might end up being a blanket for my brother.

 I got this far and then read up on the airline rules, no metal hooks allowed! I can't change hooks mid-project, even if they are officially the same size. I guess the different grip makes for a different gauge. So this will have to be packed in my suitcase and I have to think of something else. Sigh.
 I have not set foot in the garden for days. It has rained and rained and rained and rained, and it's in the high twenties with the humidity standing at 80-90% day and night. The garden is full of gnats and I am NOT risking a bite just before I leave for England. So it's a weed infested and sodden soggy mess.
 These roses are so heavy with flower that the branch has bent nearly to the ground.
 Phlox, balloon flowers and weeds. (Taken from the deck so I didn't have to set foot in the long grass)
This is the sort of weather we have been having. Those temperatures are a lie though. Right now it's 29ºC outside by our thermometer (hung in the air, under a shelter, in the shade) and 28ºC in the living room. And it's am amazingly dry 75% humidity today. We have had laundry necessary for England hung up in our hallway with two fans pointing at it for the past two days and the stuff Just. Won't. Dry. I think I shall have to pack it damp and just rewash it when we get there.

Seiju is staying at home while we go this time, so he'll be able to water the plants and cut the grass and generally keep the house ticking over. That makes preparation easier but it's so horrible to leave him. Seems like we always have to live without someone we love.

Right. Writing this is classic procrastination. I have to go and check the laundry and move the fans yet again, and continue packing! Got the passports, tickets and keys etc into my backpack last night so if the worst comes to the worst just that will do!!!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Flowers for Yarndale

Do you remember last year Yarndale was asking for mandalas? And the year before they asked for bunting? This year, they are asking for flowers!

I have decided that every flower I make will be one from my garden. Here are the first three, with photos of the genuine article for comparison.

And here's the link to what's required if anyone wants to join in!

Flowers for Memories

Busy, bitty week.

Last week we had a tea party and a lunch party for my ladies classes. My plan was to hold them both in the living room, rather than the classroom but thanks to a certain two people messing up the cleaned living room the night before, the first tea party had to be held in the classroom. Death threats and a minor tantrum ensured that the living room stayed clean for the second attempt!

 I needed some old photos for something else this week, so seeing as these are in my photo album now, I'll put them up here - Seiju in 1992, the year we got together!

Lilies are flowering in the garden. Most of them are a bit scabby and old so I'm going to concentrate on planting more this autumn.
 My raspberries are going great guns! Over a kilo and a half picked yesterday!

 Yoshi got a haircut and sent us a photo! Only the second haircut since he left in April so it was in dire need of cutting.
 St John's wort
 First cosmos of the season.
 I finished this little blanket made of Daiso (¥100 shop) cotton. It's a bit thin and pilly so I'm not sure what I'll do with it, but this corner to corner pattern worked up well. I need to try washing it to see how it holds up before giving it to anyone.

 Starbucks has this seasonal peach thing which is very sinful, expensive and very good. Luckily, it's a half hour drive to the nearest shop.
 I crocheted a couple of garden flowers.... Then took them out into the garden to play with them!

 Hollyhocks are starting to bloom. They don't do well in my garden, they are diseased and scabby and most of the leaves fall off. I don't know why.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Very Hungry Caterpillar Party

I lost a week of teaching to the cold/asthma/bronchitis thing that laid me low for the last half of June. This was the last week of term that I had planned, and though I have a week after that before I go to England, it's got lovely stuff like a visit from the accountant, a planning meeting with my kindergarten contract, hospital and dentist visits and a massive house clean, not to mention gardening lined up for it. How to get in the extra time I owe people? Amalgamate classes, make them two hours long and do different stuff!

So today I had a Very Hungry Caterpillar Party for my toddler and kindy students. There are fewer than normal this year so they all fitted into the classroom at once. We sang every song we've learned this term, read the VHC book for the last time, made paint blot butterflies, and ate what the caterpillar ate in the book! Each mother opted for one item to bring, and I filled in the gaps. One mother volunteered to bring the cherry pie and came out with this made from scratch with fresh cherries and homemade custard cream. It was gorgeous. I slipped her a couple of jars of my jam in return!

 This little girl was not satisfied with one brush, she needed two!

 Everyone with their butterflies.
 Cherry Pie Lady!
 And Caterpillar with his feast. I helped him with this!