Summer 2016

Summer 2016
Summer in Tsukahara

Spring in Tsukahara

gkimbal's Spring in Tsukahara album on Photobucket

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Juneberries (Saskatoons)

Tsuyu (rainy season) is here. We’ve been harvesting Juneberries since the beginning of June. These are the best berries I’ve ever tasted. Juneberries are much sweeter than blueberries and have a slight nutty taste to them. Juneberries are native to Canada and are sometimes called, “Saskatoons”. They make a perfect fruit for jams, syrup, and toppings for cereal and oatmeal. I just love to eat them freshly picked. The bush grows to 2 meters and yields about 200 to 300 berries. They flourish in rich, composted soil, but tolerate loosely packed clay soil. They are beautiful in the spring with hundreds of white blossoms. In the fall, the foliage turns a brilliant red. I can’t find a bad thing to say about these plants. Oh, if you want a plant high in antioxidants, look no further. Juneberries top the list of antioxidants, far above blueberries, blackberries, goji berries, strawberries, etc.

Don't run to the supermarket to buy Juneberries. You probably won't find them. Besides what's the fun in that? Just go to the nursery and pick up a plant or two...or three. We have five plants, but plan on doubling that very soon. Locally, Handsman and Komeri sell Juneberries. If you see one, buy it because people are starting to find out how great these plants are.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Retaining Wall

As the house remodel is slowly winding down to its conclusion (really?) the landscaping is slowly taking shape. I’ve been wanting to clean up the backyard by adding a retaining wall. This required some outside help. Maybe in my younger days I could have tackled a project like this, but not anymore. Erika found a great contractor to do the job at a bargain price. In two days, the project was completed. I’m not sure if we’ll keep the concrete look or modify it later…we’ll see. Anyway here are some pictures of what was done.

The contractor arrived a day earlier to drop off the building materials (mortar, block, and concrete). 

The next day, the trucks arrived with sand and some machinery. The backhoe fit perfectly through our gate which was a big relief. They setup the laser level and began excavating where the wall would go. 

After they finished digging and leveling they mixed and poured the concrete foundation for the wall. 

Next, they placed the first course of blocks and installed the rebar reinforcement. 

From there, they continued adding more blocks until it was done. The job was made more difficult because of our plants getting in the way. Somehow they managed to get around all of the obstacles without causing too much damage.

 We were so impressed with their work that we saved a few more projects for them. Stay tuned…

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Making the most of a rainy day

After experiencing five beautiful days of vacation (Golden Week), it rained. Not a problem. I have been procrastinating with the upstairs remodel using the excuse that the weather has been too nice to work inside. Well, it was finally time to do some tiling. Erika and I tiled the bathroom floor. Nothing fancy, just enough to match the other bathrooms. The walls will be tiled after I cut the tiles for one of the guest bedrooms. The reason for the delay is that I’m not 100% sure that I have enough tile to do both rooms. I also need to build a cabinet for a sink in the bathroom. The weather forecast for the rest of our vacation is cool and clear. Time to procrastinate again. 

A couple of weeks ago I did manage to finish installing plywood flooring in the bathroom, hallway, and one of the guest bedrooms. This was done to add stability to the original flooring so the tile wouldn't crack. The original wood flooring started "cupping" creating an uneven floor. This was probably caused by the original owner accidently leaving the window open during a few rainstorms (the house was empty for months at a time) and allowing the floor to get soaked. I found evidence of this when I took up some flooring to find the cause. This house was abused and neglected for many years. It took a lot of TLC just to get it to its current condition. It makes me sick to think about how an irresponsible homeowner could turn a beautiful log home into a rotting mess. 

The bathroom tiling was finished by noon. Now what? Baking a pie and some cookies sounded like a good idea. It was time to bake a pecan pie with real pecans. Yummy. We love pecan pie and have been craving it for some time. I also tried a new recipe for oatmeal cookies. The raisins were soaked in rum. These cookies are fantastic!!! They are moist and chewy. The rum gives the cookies an extra kick. I’ll have to make these again in the near future. 

Ah, the secret ingredient. 

Pecan pie...a wonderful thing.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Wacky Weather

Totally out of the blue, the weather changed from spring to winter. We just finished preparing our flower baskets and the tulips, camellias, juneberries, cherry blossoms, etc. opened with the warm weather. All of a sudden…it started snowing!! Well, maybe not all of a sudden, but it was quick and the winds were ferocious. The winds picked up our umbrella, tore it from the metal stand, and launched it across the yard. It’s time to buy a new umbrella. Erika and I scrambled to get the flower baskets into the garage. Batten down the hatches it’s going to be colder tomorrow. 

Look closely and you can see patches of white at the base of the mountain. Those are cherry blossoms. Above the blossoms is a fresh layer of snow.

P.S.  To celebrate the return of winter we baked pizza and had some wine. Cheers!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Oita Agricultural Park

It was such a nice day on Thursday that we decided to go on a drive. We took the doggies to the Oita Agricultural Park in Ajimu. It’s only 30 minutes from Tsukahara. The park is huge. The doggies are allowed to roam anywhere in the park and best of all…it’s free. This was our second visit to the park. On our first visit we went down to the reservoir and crossed a couple of bridges, and walked and walked. We were tired and so were the doggies. We knew we would visit again.

This time we explored the upper part of the park. The early spring weather treated us to some cherry blossoms. Judging from the huge variety of plants, there must be something blooming every month of the year. The park has a vast assortment on azaleas, rhododendrons, roses, fruit trees, bulbs, etc… the list goes on and on. It must be a tremendous undertaking to maintain a park of this size. The park has a “down home” country atmosphere with music (country/ western) playing on the loudspeakers strategically located throughout the park. The music is soft and not distracting at all. The trails are wide and well maintained. Bicycle rentals are available. There are plenty of places to sit and relax. Food and refreshments are also available. I’m sure the park is overflowing with visitors on the weekends, but we seemed to have the park to ourselves on Thursday.

 This is the entrance to the park. 

The trails are wide and well maintained. 

We were treated with some cherry blossoms. 

There are lots of places to explore with views around each corner. 

This area must be gorgeous when the flowers are in bloom. We'll have to come back and check it out. 

Here's one of the loudspeakers providing soft background music. It's a nice touch. 

These greenhouses contain plants that require a warmer climate like aloe, sedum, and cactus. This area must be spectacular when it's in full bloom. 

I can't say enough good things about this place. If you're in the Ajimu area it's definitely worth the effort to see the park at least once. Bring a good pair of walking shoes and allow at least a few hours.