Saturday, August 30, 2008

I'm Back . . . Again . . . .

For the last several months, ever since my hopelessly cheep Averatec fried its electronic brain out, I've been stuck using my wife's 7-year-old PowerBook G4. It looks really cool, and its still great for surfing the Internet and watching DVDs, but it has proven itself absolutely useless when it comes to managing photos (tiny hard drive; absolete software). Thankfully, I had a surprise opportunity last week to pick up a departing JETs Dell Inspiron 8500 for a very reasonable price, so I am back in business. After messing around a couple of days with the Windows XP operating system it came with, I did the only logical thing and installed a flavour of the GNU/Linux Ubuntu operating system called Kubuntu. Ubuntu and Kubuntu have really come a long way since I last used them a year ago. The latest version is 8.04 (Hardy Heron) and with it I can play my cell phone video files and manage my iPod Shuffle no problem--everything just WORKS (after installing the usual extras, such as wine and win32codecs, of course).

Anyway, now that I have nearly finished organizing all of my photos using my new laptop, I finally feel motivated enough to finally provide another garden update. This is how my garden turned out this summer. At least, this is what it looked like last week. It looks a lot different now, but that is another story. The marigolds, the basil and a couple of other herbs (the names of which I can never remember) are my doing. The squash, the tomato plants, the pepper plants and some of the mint all sprung forth spontaneously from the compost I tilled into the earth this spring. Clearly I have been ignoring the composting maxim about not composting seeds. Anyway, the winner for this year is--SQUASH. I initially had about twenty squash plants growing uninvited in my neglected garden. I finally got around to pulling all but one of them (following the advice of my Uncle Lenny), but that ONE turned into the monster you now behold. So far it has produced five squash.
Harvesting Abalone (Awabi):
One of the Great Views from Our Back Yard

A Closeup of the Same

A More Artistic Rendering
(At Least By My Feeble Standards)

This month we had a spell of good weather for about a week, and Grace and I were able to sit out on our lawn chairs before breakfast. (The land mass accross the water is Hokkaido.)

Grace In A New Dress;
Faith In A New Diaper

Some differences between Grace and Faith:
1. Grace never threw up. Faith overeats and then throws up on a regular basis. What a Roman.
2. Grace never really needed to burp after a feeding. After a feeding, Faith usually needs to spend the next hour or two doing nothing but burping. Correction, she hiccoughs, too . . . oh, and breaks wind. If we could harness all the gas coming out of both ends of Faith, we would probably not need to buy any propane for our kitchen stove anymore.
3. Grace used to wake up several times a night and fuss to be fed at random times. We put Faith on a parent directed feeding schedule, and she usually only wakes up once a night.

Stop, Guys, That Tickles!

Our Resident Professional Sleeper at Work

Sadly, the weather took a turn for the worse last week and everyone got sick . . . especially Grace. What an evil place this is. It finally gets warm--not hot, mind you--around the last week of July, and by the last week of August the cold rains come and wash away all memory of an almost pleasant summer. Oddly enough, late September and most of October are usually pretty sunny and warm here, so at least we have that to look forward to.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Putting My New Backyard to Work

Anna, Jun and Erin Watanabe

Over the weekend we (our family of four plus Yuko's mother) were joined by Yuko's father and by Sister #1 and her family. In practical terms, this meant a perfect opportunity for me to show off my new backyard campground and barbecue pit.

This photo (capturing the moment after the last of the beef, pork ribs, lamb and chicken were all consumed) manages to make my efforts look like a spectacular success. Sadly, the truth is that it was taken during a break in the clouds.

This photo is also deceptive, in that it attributes a blueish tint to what was in truth a dark, grey, gloomy sky . . .

. . . raining on our fun.

By nightfall it was raining so hard that we gave up on the idea of sleeping in the tent. All nine of us ended up sharing the floor space in our house.

The Morning After Everyone Left
The morning after everyone left, dawn smiled benevolently upon my abandoned campground.

The awabi boats bobbed merrily in the early morning sunshine as Hokkaido emerged from the haze.

Facing the other direction, our house and front yard were framed by blue skies.