Saturday, December 21, 2019

Changing times ?

This has been a very strange fall. We went directly from hot humid sauna weather to early winter.

Trees began dropping their leaves without changing color.

Other plants seem to be confused as well. The spider lilies around the neighborhood only sent up one or two flowers from beds that are usually full. The white ones came into bloom at the autumnal equinox but the red ones were about a week later.

Usually they pop up suddenly within days. A few weeks ago, what looks like a spider lily popped up in the pot beside my gate. The flowers are still opening one-by-one.
The strange thing is not only the timing, but the color is a light purple.

I have never seen one this color and I'm wondering if it is a volunteer hybrid.

I have a number of agapanthus, and when I looked at that pot hanging on the fence, what should I see but a flower of the same color there. Definitely, they are not the same.

What is really strange is that the agapanthus blooms in early summer. Another confused plant... Maybe competing with the newest addition to the garden?

And, with most of the toad lilies finished, there, in the same front bed was one just beginning to open. A confusion of the purple flowers all at the same time.

Our usual winter is a season of bright blue skies. I remember one winter when my parents visited, every day in the month was sunny. These days we have revolving sun, clouds, and rain. The wind rattles the shutters and there are plenty of green leaves falling along the street (from my own plum tree) that I go out to sweep several times each day. If I don't get them swept as they fall, I will have to walk farther to pick them up all the way to the corner.

Coming home from my cub scout meeting, I see the Tokyo Tower, usually lit ln warm red tones has taken on a different look.

Maybe for the holidays? I always pass tourists? taking selfies as I walk to and from the station.

The moon will be full on Christmas eve ... but will we see it? Rain is predicted .... though I think the weather app on my cell phone should get the pinocchio award, as it is wrong most of the time ... or does it not rain because I carry an umbrella on those days?
Well, sometimes I come out of the train station and before I step out into the pouring rain, I check the app once again. Well, it says "Partly cloudy" I must be under the cloud at that time and by the time I get home, the rain will be back in the cloud.

After watching the lights installed each Monday morning as I drive to church to pick up the onigiri for delivery, The street running between Aoyama and Harajuku station is now lit each night.

I noticed on Thursday that music was playing on speakers along the street and the lights were going off and on in a variety of patterns.

Years ago this custom ended... maybe to save money or protect the keyaki trees ... but I think these lights attract lots of shoppers and tourists to these high end shops. A few years ago, the custom returned.

And, a bit of a sad change to my neighborhood is the number of lovely large old houses being torn down.

The crane is parked in what was a lovely rose garden last week. Those roses bloomed all year long, even in the winter. That is rather rare because Tokyo soil is really not very rose-friendly.

I have watched many of these houses and gardens lately completely wiped off so this seems to be the new normal.

One huge space was filled with six new homes (all only a foot or two apart). The most recent is all flat now waiting for the next step. Gone was a big beautiful Black pine that had been trained to make a bridge over the path to the entry.

My daughter snatched up a number of bulbs being bulldozed from the garden.

The place along my small street was replaced with an apartment building with 8 apartments that can't possibly be any larger than a 9x9 foot room with bath and toilet and maybe a small kitchen sink and hot-plate.

Tomorrow, home will be a bit more lively with the coming of the first of my holiday visitors. After promising myself to get things sorted and picked up, I am still struggling to make space for visitors to sit. At least the bedding has been set up and the lights are on the wee tree. I think I will let the granddaughters put on the decorations when they get here. I'm sure they have plans for things to do and time will fly with choir duty and homeless feeding tossed in as well.

AND .... In today's mail was a postcard stating that my Partnership block will be in quilt #14 at the Tokyo Dome quilt show. There is a discount ticket included in the card but it is more expensive than other years. Still, January will be starting and ending with lots to do.

Warmest Holiday wishes to all my blogging friends.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

A rather lonely week....

A week ago Friday, I said goodbye to Nikko who has been part of our life for the last sixteen and a half years.

As a puppy she had been abandoned in the hills of Tochigi.
Found by my youngest daughter and son on a trip to Nikko, she was brought home in a box, skin and bones and so dirty her white coat hardly could be seen.

Though I really didn't want a dog, my daughter said, "If you don't want her, I'll take her back." How could anyone abandon that puppy along the road ... or take her back.

She went with me to the bathroom and came back somewhat cleaner. I pulled out the old dog bed and set her in the sun to dry.

At that point, I hear... "Well, if we are going to keep her, we need to give her a name."

Lying in the bed with the late afternoon sun sparkling on her fur, I thought since she came from Nikko a name meaning sunshine would be fitting.

As it turned out, this was a dog filled with a sunny disposition.

She was kind and gentle with children and even babies who lay across her back.
She got along with other dogs and even cats. She liked to run and chase sticks and balls and tease us with squeaky toys.

When I first took her to the vet, he said she was about three months old. Counting backwards, that put her birthday on valentine's day.

Paul loved that dog and took her along when he biked to the supermarket. He would leave her tied outside to the fence while he shopped and come out to find her surrounded by admirers.

Since I had taught her to sit and wait when being fed, until I said "itadakimasu", (said before partaking) Paul would bring her a nice snack and show off her talents before those admirers.
Here she is waiting for the word to enjoy a birthday cake Paul had brought home for her.

A month or so after Paul died, I was shopping at the same store with Nikko waiting outside. When I came out, one of her admirers pulled a package of treats out of her handbag saying she had been looking every day for Nikko to come there.

Nikko went with me to almost all Scout events and made friends with many scouts and scouters.
They knew they could bribe her to do all kinds of tricks with just a piece of cheese.

Here she is at camp Zama after having a run with this boxer.

She loved camp and knew that dead food could be found under any picnic table. She would sometimes escape in the night to make the rounds of campsites to check out the tables.
She would ride beside me on the front seat of the car, and when we crossed the bridge over the Tama river, She would know we were going to camp and get all excited for the last of the trip.

Nikko was not allowed on furniture ... at least when I was home... though she did sneak onto Paul's bed when I was out, and he allowed that even though she chewed holes in his quilt and destroyed the down comforter.

She shed white hair every minute of every day throughout the year. I probably had dog hair in every quilt I made and I'm sure what she left behind I will be dealing with the rest of my lifetime.

If you come to visit ... don't wear black. 
The contents of that plastic bag is about ten minutes results of a brushing.

Norie removed almost that amount on her last few days.

By the time we went to camp in June, Nikko had begun the first stages of doggy dementia.
She was walking in circles.

The circles became smaller and smaller as the months went by and she often got all tangled up.

Her appetite was still good but gradually I had to put her in diapers. She slept long hours when she was not circling and in the last weeks her balance was poor and she could not walk far. In the end, she stopped eating and she could no longer stay on her feet or get up alone.

Euthanizing a pet in Japan is not done by most vets. Even Friday when we carried her to a vet who might comply, they said they could give her an IV that would keep her alive a few more days, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday ... three days when my schedule kept me out most of the day...

Did I want my dog to die whimpering and  kicking on the floor all alone with no one to come to her rescue? Lying quietly on the table for several hours of discussion, they finally agreed that three more days would not add quality to her life.

Saturday, Norie rode with me to Jindaiji temple where my former dog was cremated. Everyone was very kind. They even marked down the price, and when I got back home, the doorbell rang and there was a pretty bouquet of flowers sent by the vet's office.

The genkan is now nice and clean but there is still dog hair in every corner and it is so lonely to come home to an empty house. I sweep the leaves and walk alone.
People who walk past stop and ask about the dog.
Even yesterday as I went to the department store to shop, two women stopped me to ask about Nikko.

In one more week, I will have two daughters and two granddaughters visiting. The house will be full and surely there will be more family coming around. The choir schedule continues, and because of some taking holidays, I am often the only tenor holding my part. The tenor section is the smallest anyway so even one gone leaves a big gap.

My feedsack quilt is all basted and folded on the sofa but still waiting for the first quilt stitch. Fabric being sorted is piled everywhere and not a lot of time left before it must be set aside until later. Riding the train into town and back I have assembled a small runner of Christmas print scraps for my genkan shoe box top.

Several friends have also lost pets this week ... but my son has added a new kitten to his family. Hopefully, one of these days, another dog will find its way into heart and home....