Gardening and farming, the subject seemingly same but different every time

Bacon. tatsai, spinach bound together with egg. It is often cooked with spinach. Yesterday, it was too few and tatsai was added to it. Both vegetables were from our garden. Fresh and with good taste. In summer, there are few leaf vegetables grown. Water spinach will be taking over them until leaf vegetables are harvested. It sure means of the global warming that this kind of tropical vegetables is growing here in the summer.

It has been too hot these days. It hits above 35 degrees C in the daytime. Avoiding the heat, I am still diligently pulling or cutting weeds in the garden. It is a project to have lawn revive in the front garden, which has been replaced to weeds. Often wondering if lawn is not suitable for the garden in this hot weather and, more fundamentally, if it is ecological right to plant one kind of plants there. It might be quite tough for us to grow lawn without herbicide for lawn. It is a matter of concern here.

Another thought is that this place could become a jungle without my work in a few months when I could not do it. But it is beyond my capability to worry about it after I go away.

A few hydrangea flowers soothe me. It might bear more flowers next year since its buds won't be cut off this year.

Pumpkins are growing at various corner in the garden. It is a bit funny. They look like a part of garden plants. Sweet potatoes are also growing there.  

I get sweated a lot when working in the garden. But no complaint. Isn't it a blessed thing to be able to work this way? Only concern is my hip. I feel my back gets stiffened like a metal board after concentrating on the work for a couple of hours. I also got heat intoxicated without knowing of that. Now I take milk and cold tea from time to time, which is good supplement for minerals. 

An acre of property is still too much for this old man. If it was not from my mother's ancestors, I could have given it up by now. 

Heat and mugginess are waiting for me in the garden again...



A memory of a hall and a friend Cellistin

The other day, a news told me a hall named Mielparoque Hall in Tokyo would be closing in this August. It used to be called Postal Savings Hall before 2008. It was managed by Postal Service Bureau in the past and transferred to a private company when Postal Service was privatized. Anyway, possibly having been less needed for such a hall due to the pandemic, it might go financially wrong these years, which might have pushed it into closure this time.

It was the hall where we played the Beethoven 7th Symphony in the university orchestra in the mid 70s. It was the only concert when I took the premier position of cellists in the orchestra. A memorable concert for me.

In preparation for the concert, I asked a friend of mine, who had started cello at almost the same time as I did, to play the side position at the concert. Exactly, she joined the orchestra a year after me. It was the fall of the year, a year earlier than when she and other fresh members joined the orchestra.

We, beginners, have played simple pieces like Water Music by Hendel or the 2nd movement of the symphony Nr 94th "The Surprise" by Haydn at junior orchestra apart from the main orchestra. It was just for training. For us getting bored with solitary practice of instruments, it was a fun to be able to be in the harmony and chord in that orchestra for beginners, even if it was just musically primitive. At first, having started cello half a year earlier than the other fresh cellists, I have taught them how to tune the instrument. However, since most of them had experienced the other instrument like piano, it won't take too long for them to go ahead from me with cello performance.

This is a photo of the junior orchestra practicing at a summer camp. A few veteran players have joined it. The cellist mentioned later with the initial M is on the 2nd row of cello part.

After practicing in this junior orchestra at either university, our orchestra consisting of students from the universities collaborative each other, we often went for dinner at restaurants together. What a joy it was to have meal together! Half of them were young pretty girls and we shared the same interest in music in addition. Needless to say I was deeply indulged in this orchestral activity very soon. 

In that concert, an accident has happened to M. In the intermission, a bassist has had the end pin of his contrabass erroneously pierced the front board of M's cello. It was just an accident but a serious happening for her. She was almost crying. I checked if it won't cause any noise when being played. Seemingly no noise. Then I told the conductor what had occurred to her instrument. The conductor, almost 80 years old and a retired violinist of a professional orchestra, seemingly understood that. I was a bit suspicious that he had really understood it. 

When the 1st movement was finished, he turned to me and whisperingly asked if M's cello was OK. At first, I could hardly understand what he asked. In a moment, though, I grasped his question and answered it was OK. We have finished the symphony uneventfully.

He has shown signs of old age in the usual rehearsal but was surely a reliable leader at that moment. As a conductor, he might have had a lot of things to think about during the performance. But he has remembered of the trouble which had occurred immediately before the performance started. He has done a great job with conducting this great music.

I can't remember if this was taken at that concert or another chance. Anyway, this is the Cellistins in the cello part those days. M is the 3rd person from the left.  

M was majoring in music education and played piano very well. I have asked her to accompany me for the cello sonata e minor of Brahms. Her touch was warm hearted. Until I played that piece with her, I had not known piano sounded quite different according to the pianist. 

Though she was not a singer, I knew she sung in the part of mezzo soprano or alto. I used to ask her to sing the famous aria "Er barme dich, Mein Got" in the Matthew's Passion at a small concert visiting a hospital. We used to visit hospitals for such a concert from time to time. Her singing was not virtuose but was surely moving the audience. The solo violin was played by a girl student who would take the concert mistress seat later. Her violin was also moving us. Another memorable event.

Of course, nothing romantic with her even though I have sometimes come home on the same train in the same route chatting a lot after orchestral activities. After having graduated from the universities each other, however, we have never made any contact. Rumor has it that she has married to a pediatrician in the home area. 

In the beginning of this year, I decided to send a New Year's card to her. All after 40 plus years absence, she seemed to be surprised to hear from me. Between the lines, however, she seemed to be happy that I had written to her. Her husband was already retired and was doing gardening as I do now. She told that she would listen to Horszowski playing the Well Tempered Klavier by Bach, knowing that I admired his performance so much. And she would start playing piano again. Possibly her family duty has refrained her from playing it for some time.  

Again a trivial personal story...

I should visit the hall again before it is demolished.



Summer starting

It is already mid summer here. The temperature hits more than 30 degrees C everyday. No rain at all. It has become a routine work for me to water vegetables and flowers spending half an hour as soon as I finish breakfast. I am afraid this drought may have an adverse effect on farming and, of course, water deficit. Actually, in the western Japan, there are areas with water shortage. Sometimes, there are vigorous rainfalls for short time. But such rain won't be very beneficial for crops. They need long lasting rain typical for the rainy season. 

While making this post, I found the weather bureau announcing that the rainy season was over in this area. It is about 3 weeks earlier than usual and the earliest record start of summer.

Seeing the growing vegetables every morning is still a pleasure for me. We, living things, are in the same flow of life in the world even if our forms of appearance in the world are different each other. 

A pumpkin planted at a corner of the garden. There are several of them around the garden. They are very lively and are growing well. 

A Katsura tree, that is, a Judas tree in the western side of the front garden. Grown very high, the main trunk and big branches were cut several years ago. It still grows as if nothing has happened. What a will for life even though it won't grow from its will but lives as it is scheduled! It should have grown in larger area like a park. So far, I would care for it as it fits this garden.

A few trees of Japanese Stewartia are growing along the fence.

Strongly growing old magnolia in the front garden. It is older than 30 years for now. 

The other day, when pulling the weeds complicatedly grown among lawn, a music has been going around in my mind. Faure's 1st piano quintet. I have introduced it before as one of my most favorite piece of music.  

I often listen to this piece when going to sleep at night. It sure makes me feel at peace. Away from every anxiety and trouble in the world as well as around me, it brings me up to a higher place. It sounds as if Faure himself would talk to me in person. He seemed to have spent a long time to complete composing this piece since he got an idea for this one. It was when he had come into the last chapter of life as a composer that he had finished composing it. It was the time he started to have the hearing issue which was crucial as a composer. 

Is it only a diversion from hardship in life I am confronting to that I am soothed with this music?    




 Alstroemeria is fully blooming in the garden of my parents' house. Chinese knotweed or other weeds are among them. Alstroemeria is still triumphing in the garden. It has been in the shade of the big zelkova for years and has been bothered by the other weeds. With that big tree cut a couple of years ago, it has become vivid again. It's hued elegantly pink. If my parents were still there, they might be very delighted to see them coming out this way. I would care for them even better and this bulbous flower may bloom beautifully for a long time.

It is getting muggy and hot like in mid summer. We should have been accustomed with this high humidity but could not help complaining of the rapid transition to mid summer. Spring crisp is still missed. Summer vegetables are growing. One of radishes was already harvested. Tomatoes are getting ripened. So sweet and fresh.  

As written elsewhere, my father used not to be able to sleep well when he got older. It seems I have inherited that trait from him. After 4 hours sleep, I got fully awake. As he used to, I would spend a few hours with reading and writing before it dawns. I should have been more sympathetic to him when he complained of insomnia. I used to tell him to get up early and to be sunbathed. It could adjust our body clock. But at this age, I again realized our body clock itself could get senile. 

One more topic. I have wondered why our government had provided large amount of reserve fund, which is not necessary to be discussed as for the purpose and use at the diet before it is enforced. It is like the government's free wallet. For the past several years, it is amounted up to 10 trillion JPY per a year. It is comparable to the amount of the budget for education etc. Even the board of audit has questioned about it announcing they could not trace 11 trillion JPY of that reserve fund.

I was astonished our government had spent over 200 trillion JPY for the pandemic since 2000. The expenditure for the vaccine development was only 0.3 trillion JPY. Most of the budget have been executed for "unknown" things. Together with falsification and concealment of official documents the Abe administration has committed, isn't it a sign of "kleptocracy"? It is a grave sign for a democratic society. But very little is discussed or even publicated by the mass media. 

It is another reason why I am prone to suffer from insomnia.  


Beef and potato stew

 I might have posted this menu in the blog. The difference from previous one is that those home grown vegetables, potatoes and onions, were used. Potatoes were really newly harvested ones. Onions were 2 weeks old having been dried under the eaves. 

The probability of failure in cooking this is as scarce as hen's teeth.

Satisfying result. Other menus of potato will follow this since a lot of potatoes are stored in the shed. I will send some to a friend violinist ad well as a few family folks.

The other batches will be gathered in very soon. This species of potato has shorter resting time and some of them would be planted in fall. 

Four of pumpkins, planted a week or two ago, are growing nicely. Melon and water melon have been also planted. A few of the seedlings of water melon are growing in pots. It is amazing they are growing successfully without fertilizer but only with compost. The soil might be well nourished since this area was a forest owned by my mother's family decades ago. The fallen leaves and even weeds would be a source of the other lives thereafter. A miracle but a reality. Human beings should behave in the same way.


Re-run of nuclear power plants is insane

In Japan, in proportion to the recent rise of the energy cost, the electricity charges are increased by 30 or 40% for the past several months. Some people insist the nuclear power plants should be re-run in order to have the power rate reduced. It seems, however, a plot by the power companies that would not lose the chance to get profit to run the nuclear power plants. Without running them, they are losing so much as billions of Yen in a year to maintain the resting nuclear power plants.

Compared with the renewable energy, the cost of nuclear power generation has turned out to be much more than expected. In addition, there are too many issues regarding nuclear power plant's operation. Risk for another serious accident, no policy/idea to deal with Plutonium produced and with the used nuclear fuel/

contaminated water  and the unforeseeable future of the crippled nuclear power plants in Fukushima and so forth.

As a matter of fact, there are two serious problems in front of us regarding the sequel of the accident in Fukushima. 

The first is the fragility of the pressure vessel supporting structure. There have been a series of pretty big aftershocks around Fukushima. So far, they have not further devastated the plant yet. There could be the other structures vulnerable to further quake. If those structures fail to stand, it will result in further contamination of radiation all around. It would be quite tough for them to manage the situation.


The other issue is the childhood thyroid cancer in Fukushima. It's been argued as a consequence of mass screening with sensitive ultrasonogram. But during 3 years between two mass screenings in Fukushima, there have been 68 new cases found in 2016, which should be regarded most probably as a sequel of the nuclear accident. A recent research published in Nature has disclosed close relationship between the air radiation dose and the occurrence of childhood thyroid cancer as well as the protective effect of evacuation.  


It takes more than, at least, 20trillion JPY to recover the crippled nuclear power plants in Fukushima. Even if it should be achieved, more than 1000 victims of nuclear power plant accident related deaths and tens of thousand of people eternally losing their home land could not be recovered. Re-run of nuclear power plants in the country of earth quake is an insane decision.   


Unsuccessful hunting, Soba farm, Distant memory of the woods

When I was working in the garden as usual yesterday, Hikaru was rushing toward me with something in his mouth. What? Was the poor victim a mouse? No, it was smaller than it. Any small animal like a mole? Mole could never be in the brightness out of soil. Running around me as if bragging the game, he eventually had it fall before me. It has flapped into the sky. It was a small bird, possibly a sparrow. Hikaru ran after it to the fence. And he has given it up on the top of the fence looking after that bird.

In the drizzly gloomy day, he occupies this place beside the window, where he could monitor around the garden. Mostly, just napping. He has completely recovered from the trauma and septic condition. Regaining even more appetite than before. He still sometimes waits for us before a cupboard where Churu is stored. But dry food is OK for him now. He seems to aim at 10kg of body weight.

It is a typical day of the rainy season. While rain won't drop, I have pulled some weeds. No end of the job. Yesterday, the 2nd batch of potatoes was harvested. Leek was taken from the farm and cooked for side material to boiled mackerel with sweetened miso. I have forgotten taking its picture. It is a common family dish in Japan.

The neighbor farmer has planted soba in his farm. It has grown and is blooming like this. Soba is often used as green manure. It also adjusts the nutrients in the spoil since it absorbs nutrients much. The white flowers look like a carpet.

As reiterated in this blog, there used to be woods like that behind the soba farm when I grew up here. I was here only for a few years and had gone to Tokyo before I entered elementary school. The memory is only sketchy. Wind was blowing among trees in the woods. People in the sanatorium singing hymn every morning. It was the very first memory in my life. The woods has extended a few miles to a town near by. Of course, it has been developed into residential and industrial area now. The woods being there in the same manner as decades ago even if it is smaller in size, it is still deeply moving to me. Starting my life here and going to end the journey at the same place.