Sunday, December 24, 2006

A morning with carbon

On Saturday morning, I captured the free carbon resource in my neighbourhood. That is to say, I bagged up a load of dry leaves to make leaf mould.

Last year, I collected fallen leaves from a group of cherry trees in the neighbourhood and mixed some into my compost bins and put others directly on my garden as mulch. The mulched ones dried out and blew about, making a bit of a mess in the garden. Some of them rotted down though, adding a nice layer of brown, worm-rich soil on top of the beds.

The leaves clog up the drains and look 'untidy'. So all the people who passed me and saw me assiduously 'clearing the drains' said encouraging things like 'Oh that looks much better now, nice work!'

The leaves were a very mixed bunch with nice, woody, spicy smell. Some of the trees are the ones they put in gin (juniper?) They were very dry, so I watered them with a few watering cans worth of water from my rainwater butt and sealed up the bags to let the leaves soak.

I also got a couple of bags of sodden cherry leaves that the neighbourhood leaf gatherers keep stored in a large container, and took the lot to the plot. There I erected a rough wire frame and built a pile of leaves interspersed with layers of soil. Hopefully in about a year's time, I should have a pile of leaf mould, assuming I can keep the pile sufficiently damp.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Canadian stuff arrives

On Saturday the wood arrived from Canada. It went by sea to Kobe, thence by container lorry to Matsuyama port where it was roughly unloaded by elderly, tobacco-powered men. They used some rather unsafe practices like failing to apply the brakes of their forklifts, and clambering onto flatbed trailers using broken, 3-legged ladders.

We were aware from looking at the blogs of other Selco home-owners that the stuff isn't always in exactly mint condition, and indeed, it wasn't. Some of the boards were chipped, cracked, broken or had odd nails sticking out of them, and some of the bags for the insulation were ripped. One had a beetle in it. Still, the stuff was in better nick than I'd been led to believe.

Manufactured to exacting standards in Canadia

The port and warehouses were full of interesting-looking bits and bobs, and I was overcome with the urge to scrounge some free stuff. So I asked our site-manager Kawabe-san if a pile of paving stones was going begging, and it turns out they were. So they'll be carted off to our property in due course. Whether they'll look so beguiling in their new environs is open to doubt, but we shall see.

A band of scrounging pykies at the docks
"I say, does this belong to anyone?"

Sunday, December 17, 2006


On Friday the concrete was poured. The rain stopped and on an unseasonably warm day, four concrete mixer trucks came and unloaded concrete into the forms.

It takes only one day for the concrete to get mostly hard, and then several weeks for it to harden fully.

These chaps had the right forms even
if our land surveyor didn't

As watching concrete being poured isn't that interesting, I went for a short stroll about the neighbourhood. I found a whole web of interconnecting pathways leading all over the hill. These will be very nice to investigate in breaks between work. There are some ponds that I might be tempted to swim in too.

Our place is to the middle left of this picture
(but not visible)

One of the paths led me to the local shrine, Takanawa Jinja, where they have a big man in armour sitting in a wooden shed. It looks like considerable care and reverence went into building him.

The big man in our neighbourhood. This is Mr Kono,
after whom the neighbourhood is named.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


The rezoning permission came through, quickly followed by planning permission. By that stage, the foundation contractors had already dug the foundation trench and filled it with gravel. The people who did the rezoning gave us our first experience of evil contractors - people who submitted the wrong forms, late, and tried to blame it on the other contractors, and threatening to sue us for not paying when we suggested that a discount might be in order for very late delivery.

The pictures start with the first concrete poured in the trench. Then one man very quickly set up the metal forms and began the work to set the rebar in place.

In the morning

In the arvo. Forms in place, rebar going in.

The work was done with amazing efficiency by
just one tobacco-powered man in his 50s

Overall view. The pond will go where the pile of
soil is.

The house seems very close to the graveyard, so we'll want a good hedge between us and it. The views are going to be a joy. Now that the foundations are started and we have a 'concrete' image of where the house is going to be, we can start doing things with the garden.