I know this is late but I had to share as this was the best picture I could get of my poor Mochi dressed up for Halloween.

Seattle has been quite humid and wet lately…and while quite unseasonable it is somewhat relaxing because it reminds me of when I lived in Japan. Every time I step outside I can smell the moisture in the air…with the warm breeze it just brings back memories of walking around Tokyo in the summer nights air. Oddly enough I think the homeland is calling me…it has been about 4 years since I have been back and every time I think about it there is a twinge of sadness that overcomes me for not going back sooner.

Now if I didn’t have other obligations I would start planning right now for a Spring trip to see the Cherry Blossoms. I can close my eye and picture myself in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the train stations…smelling roasting chestnuts, watching the cooks grill meat over charcoal grills, and seeing steaming bowls of ramen. I remember one of my favorite pastimes was just walking around the neighborhoods and seeing giant skyscrapers hovering above the city and then turning a corner and walking past an old mom and pop shop serving homestyle Japanese food for over 100 years. The bright lights, Pachinko machines, and endless rows of vending machines selling everything from cigarettes to bottles of wine. Sigh…I really miss Japan. And if it wasnt’ for family issues and important events happening next year that require my attention I would be back in a heartbeat.

Randomly enough I came across the following website while I was looking for a Japanese recipe.

http://erecipe.woman.excite.co.jp/

I was hopelessly trying to decipher the words…going between Katakana and Hiragana and tidbits of Kanji when I stumbled upon this other website.

http://www.rikai.com/perl/Home.pl

I was ELATED to find Rikai as it helped translate the tough Kanji into English for me. Not only did it help me translate the recipe but it also allowed me to brush up on my Japanese. Hopefully when I do make it back to the land of the Rising Sun my Japanese will be better than ever…at least in terms of food that is. LOL!

So before I got my Mochi I did my research. I got books…consulted friends…did as much as I could do before Mochi got home. Just like any other mother would do…right?

Well…I thought I got him down the first week or so. He learned not to pee or poop in the house, that is only when I was there. Leave him alone and he is an escape artist! 4 baby gates and a crate with 2 locks recently left me with poops in the hallway along with poo paw prints covering the laminate floor. How he can scale a 5 foot barrier and not want to go up and down steep stairs baffles me. And it is just the poop from what I can tell…he understands not to pee in the house but poop…well, I guess it is OK in his mind.

With wine in hand and TV off I focused my attention on researching house training. I mean…it shouldn’t be too hard as long as there is redundancy and positive reinforcement, right? But the information about how to house train your dog is as big as the WWW. Many compared it to potty training a baby…so I Googled that and let me tell you…there are far more opinions on dog house training than there are on baby potty training. Many that are more controversial than I even thought…

Rubbing their nose in it: Why would you even do that? Would you do that to a baby because it pooped? Of course no! So why would you consider doing that to your puppy? If there are good reasons…please enlighten me.

Potty Pad Training: Which many say produces an environment that says, “You can poop in the house. It is OK!” And then when you try to move them out…ughhh, “Where is the Nature’s Miracle.”

Newspaper Training: Much like PPT but not as successful apparently. Teach them to soil on a newspaper and it basically teaches them to soil on the floor. That is unless you clean up after them extremely well and make it so they can’t smell any left of what was there before.

Crate Training: Seems mean…doesn’t it? I mean keep them confined in a crate while you go about your business and forget that they are there. Well, it seems as though they actually benefit from this. Being den animals they are supposed to want to enjoy these small spaces. Not sure about how I feel about crate training yet but this is my current method of making sure there isn’t a smiley puppy at my feet with poo scattered around the house.

Mochi seems happy and that is all that I want for him. I want him to feel loved and live a long life…but we got to get this poop thing down. Mochi if you are reading this…because I know you are an escape artist and if you can get through the obstacles that I put out then you must know how to use a computer…

Stop pooping in the house. It isn’t nice…nor is it sanitary. If you need to poop, not because you are nervous because I will always be back for you, then please hold it. There are plenty of kisses and hugs to be had.

Not quite the dessert that you might be thinking…nope that is the name of my new puppy. Actually his name is Mochi and I had my heart set on that name before I knew who he was. When I fell in love with the little guy and found out that he was brown I pondered over different names…mocha…coco…brownie…but none of them seemed to fit. Mochi doesn’t quite fit either in terms of appearance but c’est la vie it is his name. Oddly enough the other day I was watching the Japanese Iron Chef and it was battle Mochi. Everytime they said “Mochi” he would quizzically turn his head wondering why someone kept calling him.

He is quite bigger than the previous photos I posted…he is a lot curlier and you can definitely see the more pronounced Poodle side to him. His current pastimes are retrieving the tennis ball, chewing on raw hide, and chasing his squeaky toys around the house.

He is so much fun to be around and we have started the house training process. He still has an aversion to big dogs and people who make a lot of noise. We shall work on these things at his puppy training classes that start in a couple of weeks. Before you know it he will be bringing my slippers and turning off lights with his nose.

When I was living in San Francisco I had a white Shar pei named Rusty. My family and I adopted him from the pound and although he was rather shy when first got him he came around eventually and became a great addition to the family.

Needless to say…when I moved up to Seattle I couldn’t bring him with me. The apartment I was renting didn’t allow pets, not to mention the fact that I wouldn’t really have time to pay attention to him with my hectic schedule. My mother, although she may deny it, loved having Rusty around. To this day she still refers to him as “your dog” but he really ended up being a trusty companion for her until he passed on several years ago.

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You can see from the picture above she tried to dress him up as a reindeer for Christmas and despite his attempts she was able to get a good picture out of the hour-long photo session. He may look grumpy but he is posing next to the tree with his antlers attached.

So…now that I have a bit more time on my hands and have settled in nicely to a solid routine I have decided it was once again time to introduce a new member to my family of one. After hours of searching for just the right puppy I found him located with a breeder in Arkansas. He is a brown and white Cockapoo – or Cockadoodle…whichever you prefer…and his current name is Toby. Mind you I plan on changing this to Mochi when he arrives.

Meet my new doggie…

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I can’t wait to meet him in person this Friday when I pick him up at the airport!!!!

Pitching the tent, un-rolling the sleeping bags, the acrid smell of bug repellent…what am I talking about? CAMPING!!!! Yes with the warmer weather and the upcoming 3 day weekend I am heading into the outdoors for some fresh air and fun in the sun. The destination is Salmon La Sac located about 15 minutes from Cle Elum, Washington. We are going tent all the way…no wimpy yurts or cabins for us.

My father was always into camping. He does it every year with the YMCA in San Francisco. You would be amazed if you saw how much gear this man has. If he really wanted to he could open a mini REI. And because of his undying love for camping I was bestowed camping knick knacks as christmas gifts. Mind you I go camping maybe once a year so giving me camping gear doesn’t really make sense. But you got to love him…he does come up with some pretty nifty and interesting gifts.

Travel Chopsticks:
WHY? I have no idea what compelled my Dad to buy these for me. When would I possibly need Travel Chopsticks? If I was camping, the last thing I would think to use as an eating instrument is a pair of chopsticks. Give me a fork…spoon…heck even a knife…but chopsticks? Nevertheless…it is a cool gift…and I gave it a big thumbs up.

Platypus Water Bottle:
Cool item…I get it but why would I need it? When he gave this to me you should have seen it…smiles from ear to ear. He was SO proud that he got it for me and all I could do was smile nervously back and give him a hug. I was sure I would find a use for it someday…perhaps this weekend is the right time.

Mini Lantern:
Lantern…I understand. Mini Lantern…I am not comprehending. When is there ever a need for just a dab of light? A pinch of light? Like…I am out in the middle of the woods and it is pitch black. Am I going to grab the big lantern? No no no…the mini lantern is the way to go because for some reason all I need to see is the light surrounding the hand that is holding the lantern. But still….I smiled and hugged him and said thanks for the gift.

Freeze Dried Food:
Stranded on a trail with nothing left to eat. I could either forage and most likely get very sick or I could eat one of these. However, it does require hot water which I wouldn’t have unless I had a fire and a pot. I guess this is a cool gift…provided that I had all the required items needed to rehydrate the contents of the package. And as I sit here trying to rationalize why this gift is cool the voice in the back of my head is screaming “DAD! What were you thinking buying me freeze-dried food for Christmas???”

Don’t get me wrong…I love my Dad to death but sometimes you just have to wonder what is going on in his head when he is buying gifts.

Seattle experienced a fairly mild winter this year and a somewhat early spring. Getting back into gardening mode I decided to start early by putting the seedlings on top of a heat mat and underneath a grow lamp. J was kind enough to build me one in his tool shed so I didn’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars to buy a premade one. This year…wondering if my green thumb had turned mildly brown I planted 16 tomato plants hoping to get a few good ones.

As you can see from the pictures above…my green thumb was actually still intact as all 16 tomato plants grew. Not to mention one night of drunken seed planting resulting in 10 cucumber plants, 6 bok choy plants, and 4 eggplant plants, and 1 random artichoke plant. And because of this and the limited space underneath the grow lamp some turned out a little dwarfier than others. Not wanting to throw my babies in the garbage I have made arrangements with foster parents for a few of the plants. Some were just not as hardy as others and when I tried to harden them outside some of them couldn’t stand up to the test. All in all…I am going to end up planting 6 tomato, 2 eggplant, 2 cucumber, 6 bok choy, and the 1 lonely artichoke which I hope at least yields me one artichoke.

The back garden is in rows again…this time with a mixture. Being the cautious and overly anal person I am I have gone back and forth on the actual plant date for my seeds. Last frost was supposed to be March 24th but I am still wary and am thinking about planting mid April.

Carefully laid out covers, also made by J, have managed to keep out the pests that were digging, picking, and plucking my early season transplants. Above we have green onions, beets, bok choy, and spinach. Not sure if you can see it but the top of the cover is dented…and there is not a doubt in my mind that it was that sneaky raccoon I saw traipsing about several nights ago as if that was his raised garden.

In the front I have blueberries, 4 bushes, and potatoes which are finally starting to grow their leafy green tops. I am excited to see how they turn out as I have never grown them before. And why stop there so I threw in a couple of Strawberry pots for good measure. Lastly we have the ever popular herb garden which I have spread out for ease of movement should I need to adjust their position. Parsley, Cilantro, Thyme, Rosemary, and Oregano…your staple herbs to go with a myriad of dishes.

Everything looks promising…hopefully the garden goes well again. Next step is the lettuce, walla walla sweet onions, peas, carrots, and radish. I am hoping I can plan the planting intervals properly so there are fresh veggies all summer and fall long. Here is crossing my fingers.