Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Garden, June 25th

The summer is half over and I've been a bad, bad blogger. Here are some flower shots from today. I spent a couple of hours weeding and trying to restore order after a couple of weeks of pouring rain and an over busy schedule.
 Next to the shed is a happy jungle. Blooming right now, pinks, foxgloves, linaria and these weird tube like things that grew from bulbs planted last autumn. I can't remember the name.

 Nicolo Paganini
 America. It's supposed to have notched petals but I can't really see it. Lovely salmon red though.

 White peony. This used to be round the back of the house in the side garden, but I moved it two years ago and it's much happier here.
 Roses are blooming now. In the foreground is William Morris.
 Cherry Parfait.
 Irises and one of the roses we got from the garden rescue, so I don't know the name. The blooms are huge and go over very quickly but it blooms all season and they are lovely.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Twenty years today. May 2nd.

We have been legally married for twenty years today. This is one of the work days in Golden Week, thus the city hall was open and we could put the paperwork in. Seiju was working in Kyushu at the time and I was in the north of Hokkaido but we had to put the paperwork in at the town where his family register is kept. This meant both of us travelling to get there. Seiju's Dad helpfully went to get the forms from the city hall in advance, and he filled out all the stuff that he could do, in order to save time. When we arrived, he handed them over to Seiju, who stared for a looooong minute then said, "Um. These are DIVORCE papers!" The words for marriage and divorce are both two characters long, and the final character is the same. Jiichan must have just run in, seen the "kon" kanji, and grabbed them without checking. He was very embarrassed, but it gave us a laugh. Correct papers in hand, off we went. 

There is no ceremony, you hand the filled in papers over the counter, they take your money and that's it. If one partner has put their seal on the paper in advance, they don't even need to be there! We wore nice clothes and went to a local park to take photos afterwards. It was only me and Seiju. We then went off to a nice hotel for the night before meeting up with friends in Otaru the next day. That was then the end of our honeymoon and we went our separate ways to opposite ends of the country until mid-July. 



 So, today I couldn't resist having a quick look to see what was going on in the garden. Mini tulips are in flower!
 They really are mini. And not very tulip-like at all, with several flowers on one stem, and spiky petals that open almost backwards.
 The boys were at school (remember, it's a normal business day in GW!) so we headed off for a little adventure of our own. First stop, we dropped in to see Seiju's Mum and Dad and give them maps that his sister would need for their trip to Tohoku, then we went on to Starbucks, and I had a little giggle at Seiju's new reading glasses.
 Then we headed into Yoichi. It's a small town by the sea, a couple of hours drive away. Seiju drove and I sewed in ends on my latest finished blanket, doing the last end in the restaurant car park. How about that for perfect timing? This fish restaurant is brilliant, over a fish market and everything is freshly caught.

I had tuna over sushi rice and shredded nori. The tuna (not caught in these cold waters!) was completely fresh, never frozen. It's expensive but melt in the mouth good. We shared some squid sashimi which was local and really good.
 Seiju had a hokke (Atka Mackerel) that hung off the end of the plate (more tray) that it came on. We ate half each and swapped. SO good. 
 We passed over these little snacks for sale - tiny whole crabs in a sugared sesame glaze. Lots of calcium though - 12,100 mg in each 100g!
 We went to the Yoichi Nikka whiskey factory. You can go in for free and wander round some of the facilities, a little museum and a rest area where they serve free whiskey or apple juice.
 These were built in the 1020's and are still in daily use.

 We had come to look for cherry blossom. There was one tree almost fully out in the factory compound. Very lovely.

 The leaves were just coming out on the trees, I love the lime green of fresh foliage.

 (Just!) warm enough to sit without a sweater!

 We went into the founder's house. He went to Scotland to study the whiskey making business, and married a Scottish woman who came back with him and made her life here in a very wild and remote area of Hokkaido. She (Rita Taketsuru) will be the focus of the next NHK TV daily drama starting in the autumn.

 The Taketsuru's house.
 Whiskey storehouses.

 After a drink (of apple juice!) we walked out of the back of the factory. The silver birches against the warehouses made a lovely picture.
 Round the back we found a heron.
 This was before I zoomed up. He was quite far away, at the far right of the picture below.
 The river banks behind the factory are lined with cherry trees. We went up in great anticipation, but....... not out yet.  About a day or two too early. Boo!
 Here and there were odd flowers and little clusters popping, so I took a few photos anyway.
 This tree was down the bank and a bit more sheltered so it was mostly out. 
 Also down the bank sheltered from the wind was this magnolia in full bloom.
 This shows the problem with Hokkaido cherry blossoms. They come out so late that the dark leaves come out along with the flowers. This leads to an overall brownish cast, so we rarely get the fairyland fluffy blossom effect here.
 The catkins along the river were all out.

 I brought my latest finished objects with me for the walk, I was hoping to get some pictures of them among the cherry blossoms but that didn't work out so we gave them a photoshoot on a picnic table.


 Little bag made with all the scraps of this bamboo yarn. I didn't really like working with it, not sure why. The stitches are almost too defined and the feel is very chalky, it's utterly matte. Not sure how it will hold up when washed, either. I won't be buying this again so I wanted to use every scrap up. The bag will get some final flowers and that will be it.

 We decided to walk out to the sea. This is looking back inland towards Niseko on the other side of the mountains there.
 Red (black?) Kite (?)
 Looking back to the sea was odd. The temperature at home was nearly 20ºC when we left, but Yoichi was only 13ºC or so, and the sea was warmer than the air, resulting in billows of mist pouring off the sea inland.
 You can see the cherry trees are faintly pink but nowhere near flowering.
 Made it out to the seaside! Very windy and chilly, so we turned back inland and took a different route to the station, around the rather desolate town, and back to the carpark. A very nice day out.