After nearly 20 years in big Tokyo I was feeling burned out in my not-so-successful "career" in the service industry, knocking on several after a chance discovery of cheap old farmhouses we set out towards the countryside - but still close enough for my wife to further pursue her working live, commuting by Shinkansen while I would take care of the house and kids and build my own little cafe at home...
Our first bump came when we realized that the bank wasn't willing to give a loan for an old rundown house on some worthless property in the "Hinterland". So, we changed plans and will be building a new house. We already bought the plot last year, with about 400 square meters size, and I have started the vegetable garden beforehand, next project will be the garden house.

28 April, 2011

My off-day

Today was my last off-day before the epidemic rush of tourists starts this weekend with the "Golden Week" holidays. Off means no work, and mostly no phone calls from the boss, but of course not off from family life, so this is how today went:
After breakfast I went for a walk with Hannah to give my wife the chance to clean the apartment. As it was very warm I didn't mind at all, taking our sturdy "Quinny" 3-wheel baby buggy. The fresh air and the green starting out in the gardens had some energizing flavor, and after a few hundred meters I changed from fast walking to light jogging speed, handling the buggy (front wheel locked from going sideways) sometimes with both hands, sometimes with one to see the effects of my running posture (one hand feels better for the back..). So we cruised  around the neighborhood, found that the bakery at the outlet mall was only opening at ten, went the other way and discovered that Hannah had fallen asleep, something she usually won't do in the buggy, so I guess it has to do with the speed of things passing by, cause she is a very good sleeper in the car, but again only when it's moving.
After lunch I dropped my wife and Hannah at the baby-group, than went to to some gardening

It still looks all a bit disorderly, but than again, removing a blanket of weed and than digging out stones and gravels by the bucket does slow down the pace

After a short two hours (wherein short does describe the achieved and in no way the efforts) I picked up my two girls again. This little one with the bulky arms isn't too happy about being strapped in.

We than drove to a nice old and quiet cafe overlooking a lake and Mount Asama as a backdrop.
Hannah was at first a bit surprised about sitting on a big chair all by herself but soon relaxed and started happily banging around as usual and checking out the surroundings, luckily not yet running around but only looking here and there

In the end though she fell asleep happily in her mother's lap

24 April, 2011

Hanami - Cherry Blossom viewing

The cherry blossoms are getting closer up to us, also those few trees that grow in Karuizawa will still take some time to bloom. For a person from Tokyo it seems a bit "wrong", but the blossom are actually approaching from the opposing side, from Nagano, and Ueda is already finished by now, while Komoro, the town we went to is just starting, as you can see. Komoro was an important town connecting the Kanto area through the Hokkoku road, which splits from the Nakasendo near Karuizawa towards the Shinshu region and on to Niigata with it's plains of rice and the island of gold, Sado. The park is located inside the grounds of the former castle which sits on steep cliffs high above the Chikuma river and was fortified by Takeda Shingen. Some of the stone walls look rather old and a bit sunken in, while the front ones are newer, but with huge boulders (both of which I didn't take any pictures, being too preoccupied carrying a heavy weight on my shoulders). Standing on the grounds of the former castle keep one could imagine the grandeur of those times when the castle was alive. Today the town has kept it's old main street with the old houses alive, but most other areas look just like any other town on the country side, run-down, a few closed up shops and quite a few old houses along the former highway are dust covered and empty, leaving a bitter-sweet aftertaste
I chose to use our recently bought Mont-Bell baby carrier because the ground would be very uneven and difficult to navigate even with our three-wheel buggy. Secondly, having been here already about a year ago for the cherry blossoms but actually viewing the (earlier) ume-plum blossoms, we knew that there are a few old stairs to climb inside the grounds. I am really happy with the carrier, once you get the feeling of how to put your feet as not to put too much strain on them. It also got quite a lot of storage space behind and beneath the seat for the baby's diaper bag, clothes and a blanket etc.
And last but not least it functions as a baby chair when having a - necessary - break.

The weather was rather cloudy and so was Hannah's face most of the time

She did up her mood a bit when given her beloved chewing ring

But even the tea seemed to be only a necessity,nothing enjoyable

Her mother having an intimate talk did carry some fruits 

Those two sometimes look like they are still connected by something

And Hannah became a bit interested in the flowers, if not only for whether they are eatable or not
Nothing really cheered her up

Not even the nice smell of a good cup of cappuccino

Which is understandable when you can only look and smell but are not allowed to taste any of the good stuff

And so the day went on, with Hannah still brooding about
What is The Meaning of Live

22 April, 2011

Hannah's Dinner Show

Today we will let you take par in our daily Evening Show, which comprises
various elements  from the tragical up to the most comical genre
 Hello you out there, ready?

 First let me have a sip to get my tummy in gear

Medium Body, deep brown color, round finish - Oolong Tea?

Don't stuff, I'll miss half of the taste!

 So Daddy, what's today's Menu?
Riz e legume a la Maison, Poisson

 Aaeehh ...

You know very well that I haven't learnt French yet
 Don't joke about food, man. Dinner is serious business

 Let me see that, before I decide wether to eat it or not

Do you truly believe yourself when you say this is delicious?

 What are you saying, I got something stuck between my front teeth?

That colour looks highly suspicious

 No, I can't stand it anymore!

 Yoo, still with me?
 Hey Daddy, where are you going?

 I already told you, this is serious, don't treat me like that, 
I have more hair than you!

 Aah, you got yourself a cold beer, ok.

 The food hasn't much improved I must say

 Let me have it already

 So, you think that's entertaining already?

 Wait till I get a sip of that beer

 Yes, that's nice, I can feel my toenails rolling up already

 Tomorrow I'm going to have a hangover

 Hello mom, this feels funny!
 Look I can make faces
Guess, what animal is this?
 No, it's not a fish!

 Daddy, mom is funny, too

 Ok, who is this actor?

You know it?
Yes, it's Jack Nickolson!

 I can sing also!

 I didn't hear that comment from you daddy!

 Wow, that was a nice dinner, 
 I'm tired

 Now for some quality relax time

See you!
Good Night