Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rishiri, Japan................

Arriving early morning in Rishiri

Remote island 20K off the northern tip of Hokkaido. Mt. Rishiri is a dormant volcano. 6000 inhabitants who make a living from tourism and fishing for sea vegetables as the herring has been fished out.

Preparing huge scallops.

Ice cream always delicious in any country!

Our ship the Caledonian Sky docked beneath the volcano.

Internet sporadic now we are sailing through the Russian Kuril Islands - so remote here.
Hope to be able to share more of this adventure soon - including my Zodiac boat scare of yesterday!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hakodate, Hokkaido...................

Visit to Onuma Park - island dotted lake, 
slight showers............

.....majestic dormant volcano, Mount Komagatake.

......cable car ride to high above the city......

....lovely local children performing songs and dances 
to say goodbye.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Arrival at Aomori, Japan......

First view of Aomori, Honshu........early morning 

Volcano, Mount Hakkoda

Dockside welcome..................

Which way next?

 Snowbank at side of highway...............

 Woodland snow from the bus window.........

Signs of Spring........

Lots more about Japan to come later.
Arrived in Russia today - first visit to the Kuril Island 
of Sakhalin. Tomorrow we board Zodiacs for a landing on 
the tiny Russian island of Tyuleniy (meaning seal).

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Tokyo to Niigata.........................

No time to write and show you the colors of lovely I decided you'd enjoy the photos 
more than my stories - they will come later.

 Leaving Tokyo on the bullet train to Niigata.

Our warm welcome to the ship.

Leaving the port of Niigata on the expedition. 

We are at sea for our last day in Japan - tomorrow we enter Russia, not far from the where the huge earthquake occurred a couple of days ago! All is well and wonderful.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Arriving in Japan........

Hello from Tokyo - before I leave for the ship.

Flying into Narita airport over rice paddies.

Terrible traffic jams to get to the hotel in the city.

 Last night's view from my room (beautiful hotel) 
on the 34th floor........ 

...and view the next morning.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Leaving on a jet plane........................

.......see you all when I get home again!

These adorable books were at SuzAnna's Antiques last weekend - I should have snatched them up - but in the rush of photographing those flower frogs and buying a few other treasures, I forgot about the books. Anyway, I loved Honey Bunch with her dolly, both dressed for travel, and smiling at the wonderful vintage prop plane. 

I remember a similar day, fifty years ago. Standing with my dear mother at London's Heathrow airport full of excitement, anticipation, somewhat scared I'm sure..............waiting to board my first ever airplane flight bringing me here to America. Of course it was jet a plane, and instead of my dolly I was more likely embracing a new handbag as I was almost nineteen and extremely fashion conscious!

Since then I've flown on every type of plane - even an unexpected helicopter in Botswana - and seen so much of the world. The small prop planes crossing the blue skies of Africa are still similar to the one on the book cover......and they were some of my favorite flights.

I'm leaving today on my adventure with Paula to Japan and Russia. No small planes this time. Journeying on a high speed bullet train to embark on another small expedition ship sounds exciting.........and there will be plenty of big jets getting back and forth too.

Thanks so much to everyone who left kind 'bon voyage' comments on yesterday's post. Each of you has become very dear to me and I really do appreciate you following me on all these splendid adventures. As always, I never want to sound uppity or boastful when visiting these often wild places. I understand completely that many of you may never see them for one reason or another. I just enjoy taking the photos and writing little travelogues to share with you in case you don't get there. This world truly is an amazing and beautiful place.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Teatime on the porch............

......always a favorite thing.

English china and tea. French linen and magazine.  
Sunshine and jasmine perfume.
Wish you could join me here before I fly away.

Early Sunday I leave on another adventure. I'll be a long, 
long way from home. 
I fly first to San Francisco to meet up with Paula, then 
on to Tokyo. Following day we'll board an expedition 
ship and sail through Japan's islands, making our way 
to Russia's remote Far East Kuril islands, then onward to the 
Kamchatka Peninsula - click to see my itinerary 
and more details.

I may not be able to blog whilst away depending on 
Internet availability.............but 
will see you all when I return in June, hopefully 
with photos and stories of amazing places.

Linking to Claudia's Saturday party at 
Mockingbirdhill Cottage - hope you'll 
visit and join in.

More little lies...................

A few weeks back we found it. See the tag. Well yes, the price wasn't bad as it is metal and seems well constructed. But see those words 'Squirrel Proof'. Once again, they are telling lies, albeit small ones because although it seems to work most of the time, we apparently have very smart squirrels in our garden. There is this guy.......or perhaps gal because of the smarts displayed......who comes to drink............. 

...........sits about looking coy, eating nuts and digging up acorns, then heads for what we thought, for one day, was yes the prefect squirrel proof feeder! However, is wasn't to be as there are about three little grey devils who come constantly having learned to balance hanging downward, without closing the shield over the feed ports, and steal those precious(and now very expensive)seeds.

Meanwhile, we do the usual, bang on the front storm door, open same door and clap hands, yell loudly, run down the front steps, and act like two crazy homeowners who have lost it!

See how much my garden birds are loving this feeder - above there's a male house finch, a female cardinal and a male towhee. All arrive and sit in the fig tree behind awaiting a perch, and often the dastardly squirrels are hidden in the leaves too.

This was a big surprise - one of my much-loved Carolina wrens arrived - they rarely eat seeds or are seen on feeders. On the right another male finch brightly colored now in the breeding season.

Above, a male cardinal, a blue jay and a female cardinal. Note the design of this feeder allows part of the seed to stay at the top so all four perches can be used much longer - that makes so much sense. 

Red-bellied Woodpecker grabs a peanut.

Grey squirrel working its way around to the seed port 
and soon will be chowing down!

What to do?  Not much if you enjoy feeding the birds. She is cute, she has babies. She may be smart but she better not teach them them the ins and outs of squirrel proof feeders!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ball jars and frogs....................

Here's a little follow-up to the the previous post extolling the merits of something as simple as vintage canning jars - whether you actually use them, or just enjoy decorating with them.

These are the neat flower frogs I found at SuzAnna's Antiques last week to fit the Ball jars. They are authentic zinc lids and have been retrofitted to accommodate sturdy wire mesh insert to hold flowers. At $5 and some change, a great way to make a few of your canning jars useful.

These lids fit any standard neck no matter the size/capacity of the actual jar. My little secret here regarding these pint size jars, (my other vintage versions are all quart sized), is that they are brand new! They are the Ball Heritage Collection offered online at the Fresh Preserving Store to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first Ball brand jars. They come in a 6-pack for just $12.99. They have new lids attached which I replaced with the frog lids.....makes them look truly vintage.

I have this jar of garden flowers on the kitchen window sill, just fits that narrow ledge. I'll be displaying lots of homegrown blooms during the Summer season.

Love the useful Ball jars - just know you're going to want some!