A Suspicious Spate of Sunshine…

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This weekend we went for trudge through the daffodil fields outside La Connor. There might be almost twenty days until the official start of spring, but don’t tell the flowers that, they’ve decided to get the party started early this year.

As a native North-westerner I’m naturally suspicious of all this sunshine …where are the rains of winter? the bitter winds? the perpetual grey mist? have we made the gods angry? … but it’s hard not to enjoy it while at the same time… wondering how all this climate change affects the traditional planting calendar.

For example, my garlic is already six inches above ground and growing. And I’m really not sure if I should fertilize it with a high nitrogen organic fertilizer like I normally would, or should I wait in case it get’s cold again?

Crocuses, daffodils and heck even tulips are starting to bloom. It’s like some sort of bacchanalian blooming frenzy around here.

The flowers are confused people and so am I! Do I fertilize my garlic? Do I continue my late winter ritual of huddling in a coffee shop and reading way too much speculative fiction? OR should I be drinking my latte in the out of doors, and feeding my plants?

What do you guys think? (Help!)

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Can’t open my eyes…so much light!

 

 

 

Springtime in Tokyo

 

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A little while back we were able to visit Tokyo, thanks to an invite from a friend who had a pretty flat in the laid back, artsy Tokyo neighborhood of Shimokitazawa. As an added bonus, we were able to see two other friends that we hadn’t seen in….three years, and two years respectively. There being the slight puddle called the Pacific Ocean between us. Although in the first friend’s case, it’s usually the Atlantic between us, but that’s neither here nor there I suppose.

After making the plane reservations a “birthday” surprise, and getting our affairs in order (mostly procuring a willing cat-sitter for kitty)….I pulled husband away from his studies and we were on a plane outward bound, with phrase books in hand.

I love traveling in the spring. I think that’s the best time to see a city. Everyone blinking at the sunshine, coming out of their offices to picnic and make merry as the weather allows for it.

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These pictures are from Shinjuku Park. That was one of the warmest days. We walked around and marveled at the unusual plant specimens. School kids, retired people, families and all sorts of locals were out picnicking, with bento boxes, and eating ice cream sandwiches and jostling to take the perfect picture of the cherry blossoms and other things in bloom. Including the quince pictured above. Competitive flower photography you say? Husband was way into it, and I promised we could retire in Tokyo someday that so that he too could rove in a pack of old dudes with thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment and compete for the best cherry blossom photo ever.

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I took some early morning walks while we were there. I’m not sure if I was out of my mind with jet lag, or just too excited to sleep, but I got to know our neighborhood pretty well that way.

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Lots of well-manicured pooches in Tokyo. Many of them tucked into the couture handbags of some of the most exquisitely dressed ladies you will ever see. Walking the streets of Tokyo was not unlike a Pinterest page come alive.

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Our friends were kind enough to take us to an izakaya the first night. I guess you could call it a sort of gastro pub… Needless to say the food was amazing and it set off a week long odyssey into the unparalleled delights of Japanese cuisine. From delicious seafood pancakes like okinomiyaki to salty roe filled onigiri to octopi-stuffed takoyaki to noodle-tastic ramen…let’s just say we were some happy food lovers.

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What does the Fox Say?

We also had the chance to make a couple of day trips outside the city. We took the holiday train to Kamakurra one day, and later in the week visited Kyoto. Husband took over travel arrangements for the Kyoto jaunt. I hadn’t done any research on Kyoto, so it was a pretty great surprise when we arrived at the Inari shrine (Wikipedia article) and I saw the kitsune or fox statues scattered all around the temple grounds. This was hands down my favorite shrine. A mysterious path up a beautiful mountain framed by red gates and foxes? I was one happy critter lover. We saw shrine kitties cavorting at one shrine, another had a pond filled with huge turtles and one even had a little white fluffy dog who greeted everyone who came by. Then of course, as I said, we were walking up a mountain. All kinds of awesome.

And then of course there was haname…. translation…”cherry blossom viewing partay“.  On our last night in Tokyo we partook in the custom of haname with some old friends and new in Ueno Park, a beautiful park covered in cherry blossoms in the spring with a big lake and beautiful pavilions and skyscrapers that come up right to the edge of the park. We picnicked under the trees with thousands of locals. It was perfect. So while we were excited to get home to our own critter, Cuchulainn the kitty, we definitely were sad to leave this vibrant and culturally rich city.

Arigatou gozaimashita Tokyo!

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Three Resolutions

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Today we drive home from our trip to the beach. And I’m making a few resolutions. I know there are people who think resolutions are specious and overly optimistic, but it’s nice to think there’s a possibility to reset your life, to assess and reflect in the middle of winter. So here goes…

Overall I’d like to spend more time outdoors this year enjoying our area. Especially now that my “horticultural” job has gotten more and more computer-based. I’d like to try and walk or bike to work on the days that I don’t need to drive for event or marketing-related errands.

My second big resolution would be to take a more structured approach to my writing, rather than fitting it in around other commitments.  I’ve got loads and loads of notes that I’d like to work into a feasible draft situation, so I’m thinking I can return calls a few days later, maybe the dishes don’t have to be done right today and all those sorts of things.

Lastly, I’d like to continue with some of the teaching/tutelage projects I took on this last year. There’s an element of sharing and learning that goes both ways with teaching and I definitely missed it. It was one of my resolutions last year, after a great volunteer experience I had while in Norwich.

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions for 2014? What are they?  Also, what are you excited about in 2014? We’ve got a couple weddings coming up this year and I can’t wait. Do you have any trips or special events coming up?  I’d really like to hear about them.

 

 

 

 

Wayfaring: The Whatcom County Farm Tour

 

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Happy Monday Friends. Today I have a few pictures for you from the Whatcom County Farm Tour. A total of 9 farms and 2 wineries participated.

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distilleryWe sampled the local produce, rode a tractor-train, tippled some apple gin and best of all met all kinds of farm critters. Frisky barn cats, soft-nosed ponies, shy cows, parading turkeys and even two little baby lambs.

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Goat2We learned from the farmer that these two little guys are of an ancient breed off the coast of Scotland called, “Soay“. Historians have theorized that this relatively small breed (adult rams only get up to 95 lbs) were spread among the islands by Vikings who carried them on their ships with them. Another fun fact is that they naturally shed their wool in the spring and early summer, when you can pluck it right off their backs.

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My husband was of course thrilled to be in a working apple orchard. He LOVES apples the way some people love chocolate or oysters or beer but MORE.

Apple2FeetWhat were your adventures this weekend? Did you do some exploring? Or snuggle up on the couch with a good book? The weather was certainly perfect for it, as you can see from my wet tennis shoes!

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