Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Travel Tuesday - Hachimantai

The idea of semi regular travel posts is one that I've had for a long time.  I made my first Travel Tuesday post back in September (about a trip we had taken in February...).  I hadn't intended it to take so long before I did another one - we have done a LOT of travel this year!  The whole situation with Max had knocked me right off the blogging train, but I'm hopping back on to bring you another travel post.  Enjoy!


On October 9th, 2017, we hopped on Jeff's motorcycle and took a trip south to Hachimantai.  I had never been there, but Jeff had taken a trip down last year (as it turns out, on the same exact day).  We had hoped to see the autumn colors and boy did we!

I was stunned by the range of colors that we saw and how bright they were.

A thing that caught my eye was that every so often I saw a vine with bright red leaves, climbing a pine tree.  The contrasting colors were interesting.

There are several onsens (hot baths) in the Hachimantai area.  We stopped at a couple of them to look around.  This was the first one we explored.  What had looked like smoke in the distance turned out to be steam coming from the ground!  The whole area is volcanic.

Many bubbling pools could be found in the area.

The steam was everywhere.

Marshmallow was along for the outing and I had to get some pictures of him.  Jeff, in turn, had to get pictures of me taking pictures.

Marshmallow, prancing at a volcanic hot spring.

We explored a couple of trails and I took a ridiculous amount of pictures of the stunning fall foliage.

No, really, a LOT of pictures.

 At the next onsen, the main one, Tamagawa, we found food on a stick.  Jeff was happy.

I also found the biggest, juiciest, sweetest Asian pear I've ever seen, so I was happy too, and made quite a mess of myself.  No pictures of all that.

After grub, it was time to explore the Tamagawa Onsen.

As we got closer, Jeff got excited.  There were vents belching out steam all over the place.

Potential danger!  Jeff was like a kid at Christmas.


One of the vents (I think the one in the middle)  had steam just screaming out of it.  You could hear the noise of the steam shooting out under pressure.

At a viewing area, across from the vents.  I was struck by the contrast of brilliant fall colors with the volcanic dead zone.

Marshmallow had to stretch his legs again.

And take in the scenery.

The other side of the dead zone, more autumn color on the hillside behind.

Every time we are out adventuring, we come across warning signs for bears.  We have yet to see one, and from what we hear, that's a good thing.  We've been warned that Asiatic black bears are not the black bears we might be used to from the U.S.  Apparently they have attitude and every year at least a few people in the mountains nearby are killed by them.

I would really like to see one...  from a safe distance.

Another view of the dead zone, surrounded by lush greenery.

After admiring from a distance, we went down on the path right in front of the vents to get a closer look.

I decided to test out the zoom on our new (bought in a rush on the way to Sapporo) camera.

It was able to zoom right in on the interesting sulfur formations around the vents.

The path is quite close to some of the vents.

Bright yellow.

A hole into the Earth.

Jeff studies the vents.  He was carrying my coat at this point, it was warm here!

I absolutely loved this view.

Toward the end of the path, we came across this: a big pool of water, aggressively bubbling!  We weren't sure if it was actually boiling or if it was a big steam vent under the water.  Or maybe that's pretty much the same thing.  It was impressive, and a little freaky, to see that much water churning away.

I wanted to get a picture of Marshmallow with the big bubbling pool.  Jeff suggested standing him on the post to the left of the picture below.  However, neither Marshmallow I were comfortable with that.  Instead, I kept a firm grip on his tail while I documented the occasion.

Marshmallow surveys the roiling water.  Nope, don't want to go swimming in that!

A few more steps up the path, and right before we got back on the bike to come home, we met a lovely older Japanese couple.  Between their broken English, my broken Japanese, gestures, and laughing, we managed to have a conversation.  They shared their lunch with us - baked sweet potatoes, edamame, and the sweetest sweet corn we think we've ever had.  A friend of theirs stopped by to visit also and asked if she could take our picture.  I asked her to take one with our camera too.

The husband of the couple spoke very little English, but he told me his name was Naomi.  His wife said "girl name!" and pointed at him, to which he shook his head, waved his hands back and forth and said "no!  no!"  I think this joke has come up before.  They were delightful people.

Naomi-san wanted to be in a picture with us.  Their friend tried to get his wife to join us, but she emphatically shook her head and hid behind their friend.  We all laughed.  Some things transcend any language barrier.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Motivation Monday - Only You Can

Happy Monday, everyone.  My week has started off with a bang and I hope yours does too (but only if it's a good bang).  As always, I have many irons in the fire and some big studio news coming soon.  This week will be c-r-a-z-y with our last vendor show of the year (the Holiday show) coming up on Saturday.  So I will be in crazy laser town with my "day job", at least until that is over - and probably until Christmas.  Ah, life in retail. 

These pictures spoke to me and I hope they help you too as we all go forth into a fresh new week.  I particularly like the first one, I'm really hoping to work on some more closing of the gap again soon.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Stitching The Days Away

First and foremost, Max is still with us.  He's gone from being given a sudden prognosis of only a couple of days, to still here almost a month later.  He's still happy, still smiling, still likes cheese.  However, we know the tumors are still there, still growing.  We are still very much in limbo, it's a hard place to stay for very long.

Jeff and his puppy, last week at the beach

I've been seeing a counselor to work though a bunch of things, mainly goal setting and trying to get out of my own way (a never ending battle).  Last week we talked about Max.  I told her I am just exhausted.  I feel like I have nothing left to give.  She talked about "caretaker fatigue" and stressed how important it is to remember self care in these situations.  She described what's going on as hospice care for a family member.  I thought that was a good way to put it.

Much like last summer, the previous time I found myself on "Max watch", I've been primarily filling the hours with cross stitching.

Early last month I posted about a couple of 22 count cross-stitch projects that I had started.  They are both done now, as a result of spending a few more weeks on Max watch.

The first one mentioned was another set of panels for an Arabian costume.

Here they are, all done:

Last time I'd posted about them, I had only started on the first side panel, to re-acclimate my eyes to working in the smaller scale.  This was so that I could move on to the saddle pad down below.  Once that was done, I circled back and finished the rest of the panels. 

Next up was my very first 22 count saddle pad.  It was a commission, made to be a miniature version of a real saddle pad.  I felt that 22 count was the best way to capture the details in the full size version.

I think it turned out well:

I numbered it as 22 in the Stitched In Japan series.  I think that is actually skipping a few numbers (I believe I had left off in the mid teens...) but I thought it would be appropriate to dub this one "22".

Right before I popped it in the mail, I held up Native Son for a quick modeling session.  It's tradition, after all.

Once I finished up the pad and the costume panels, I decided to press on with another set of costume panels.  Actually, I had drawn up the patterns for a few more sets already.

Two years ago (ugh, really??) I made my first few batches of tassels.  At the time I had NO idea what I'd use them for, but I'd decided to dip some sort of toe into Arabian costume making and thought that's where I'd start.  The colors I'd randomly chosen ended up looking good together and I figured they'd end up in a project...  someday.

One of the patterns I'd drawn up recently had yellow and brown in it, the other color was red.  I played around with the pattern, added a bit of green, found a red floss in my stash that compliments the other three colors, and away we go!

This one is actually going to be Classic scale!  I sized my measurements roughly for the Classic Arab mare.  The base color of the halter, collar, and trim will be the brown (since I have the most of that color on hand).  I haven't decided if I'll make red tassels or just use the red as an accent color somehow.  Oh, I added a tiny bit of black to the pattern as well, since the original tassels are all tied with black.

I have quite a log jam at the panels stage for costuming.  That's what I'm having the most fun with now and so I figure I may as well keep cranking them out.

And watching Max