Amy Arnett

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since Oct 21, 2016
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Nara, Japan. Zone 8-ish
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Recent posts by Amy Arnett

Julie Harris wrote:Just remember not to judge a Japanese school by American standards.  The culture is not comparable.

Also, regarding the jammies.  Japanese culture is again, very different.  When we used to go to the huge park with the fountain, mine were the only ones running through the water with shorts and shirts on.  The rest, some as old as 6 or 7, were absolutely naked.  

Is pre-school now compulsory?  Or is there another reason to separate so early?

Thank you for sharing your experience, Julie!

Pre-school is not compulsory. Regular school is compulsory on paper, but a gray area as there is no minimum attendance requirement to my knowledge.

Main reason to send her to preschool is that it's more fun for her. Second would be that stuff needs to get done and it's a million times easier with her in a separate, safe place. There are many other valid reasons a parent might choose daycare or preschool for their small child. Rather than being separate, I consider her to be with her co-parents.

The teachers are doing such a great job, really going above and beyond my expectations. I've relaxed a great deal as well seeing that she wants to go. And if she ever doesn't want to go, she doesn't have to.

I agree that being naked is way less of a big deal in Japan as it is in the US. I was more concerned about them not respecting her body language of no. But now she is speaking both languages enough to say clearly and explain what her problem is, so that's less of a worry now.
1 week ago

elle sagenev wrote:
Hmm. I don't want to discount this but I'm not sure how he would have come into contact with it. We live on the prairie. I've never seen a tick around us. Maybe he ate something that had it? But even that seems rather unlikely. Who knows though.

Ticks and Lyme seem to be expanding their range as the climate becomes more mild. My dog contracted it in Vermont, a place where ticks and lyme were unheard of ten years ago. Our vet said that most dogs they test are positive, and that most aren't bothered by it at all. But ours had some miniature pincher in her that made her extra susceptible to kidney issues. Well that's the story we went with anyway.

More accurately, her leaky bladder was a symptom of her kidneys starting to fail. In her case, caused by the Lyme infecting her kidneys. Your mention that long term antibiotics helped is consistent with Lyme, but not conclusive of course. It might just be age related kidney issues.

It's tough dealing with our pets' health issues and being put in the position of making difficult decisions on their behalf. Sorry another pup is having trouble.
1 week ago
It could possibly be lyme disease. Our dog's first noticable symptom was pee leaking. Then she lost her appetite completely and went into kidney failure. Each breed handles lyme differently and ours was a more susceptible breed, yours might just need antibiotics for longer.

The vet should be able to test for lyme with some blood, you might ask that they take enough for blood work showing kidney function. I don't remember all the details, it was few years ago. Hope he comes around!
2 weeks ago
Sounds like it could be "pasty butt". I haven't delt with it yet, but it seems to be pretty common.

Treatment is pretty much what the other replies say, wash off the poop. I would add to make sure to dry the chick before returning to the others. A hair dryer is a good way to dry while keeping warm.
3 weeks ago

N.Y. Anzai wrote:
In Japan what happens is you have one coloured basket you do your shopping in and then once the cashier checks it out they put it straight into another coloured basket and then you pay and take that to the tables set up for you to pack your shopping into bags.

Very common in our area is "my baskets" where you buy your own shopping basket, an even different color, and give it to the cashier with your shopping that is in the store's basket. The cashier checks out your stuff and puts it directly into your "my basket" and you're done. Skip the bagging process altogether. It's nice with small kids to just leave with the basket. I didn't think about how long bagging our own stuff takes, especially when holding a fussy baby. And no more guessing if everything will fit in your bags because it's the same size basket.

It's plastic, but it will last forever or at least many years. People use them for everything and even bring them to other stores like the hardware store.
3 weeks ago
The most common requests from clients when I was working as a gardener had to do with plant shapes, clean borders, and getting rid of anything dead. I spent a lot of time edging beds or re-aligning rock borders. And so much time staking and re-staking plants.

Keeping edges clean and plants pruned or trained into pleasing shapes make a garden look tended. Pruning or staking a plant is a signal that it's there on purpose and not a weed.

I struggle the most with deadheading because I usually want to keep the seeds. Just the other day the neighbors complained about me leaving plants up even though the flowers are over on our shared border. I explained that they are tubers, not flowers (sunchokes) and until they're brown, they're not coming down.

Rocks, logs, sticks or driftwood make clean, easy borders. Catie's suggestion of mulch is probably the easiest way to keep things looking pretty in between plants. If it's a steeper hill, mini terraces would be pretty.

It might be a good idea to study your HOA agreement to be sure exactly what the rules surrounding gardens are. There could be rules about kinds of mulch or kinds of stakes or trellises or heights of plants. Each agreement seems to be uniquely strict. For less pretty things, like maybe the brush pile, you might get less complaints by adding a sign highlighting the function and benefit like "this brush pile serves as habitat supporting such and such...". You may look into getting certified as a butterfly or pollinator garden if that's a thing where you are. If it's for the bees, people would hopefully be more forgiving on appearance.

If you are on good terms with your neighbors, it might be nice to ask them what their favorite colors of flowers are, or if there is a plant they particularly hate. Most people don't seem to care, but the ones that do care will let you know. Since they will be seeing the garden everyday and potentially would be the ones complaining, it might be good to get a heads up on their pet peeves.
3 weeks ago
It's a tough situation. I am constantly reminded of this scene from futurama:

It's an adjustment moving from an area with earth conscious choices being the norm to an area where everything at the town market is individually packaged in plastic. Japan seems to be a weird mix of traditions and cultural practices that happen to be earth friendly, but the priority seems to be placed on convenience and customer experience.

I try to focus on my impact overall and meeting my and my families needs. I try to remember that we are living in a transitional time and look forward to how Japan might look ten years from now. I just don't have the mental resources to research and stress over each purchase I make. Or the financial resources for that matter. And I'm getting better at cutting myself some slack about it. I believe people should do what they can, be honest with themselves about what they can do, and forgive themselves for what they can't.

Personally, I seem to prioritize distance traveled and origin of a product when there is a choice. If I have the energy, sometimes I ask the manager for unpackaged veggies or why they are all in plastic, just to kind of plant the idea of an alternative and that there is at least one consumer asking for it. A lot of people I talk with about packaging or other such impactful things agree and would even prefer the change, but even more than that, they don't want to make a fuss....

I am happy about the new law that we have to pay for all plastic bags at all checkouts.
3 weeks ago

N.Y. Anzai wrote:You didn't mention the mukade and the gejigeji haha

Yes! Two creepy crawlies that give me the heebie jeebies.


I haven't seen a centipede as big as in the picture, but I came across a giant centipede in a bush about a meter off the ground. I didn't think they climbed trees; one more thing to watch out for.

The gejigeji are super creepy, but mostly beneficial, supposedly eating cockroaches.

I should also mention, there is a good number of ticks and land leeches. One of our new chickens was kind enough to pick a leech off my leg that I hadn't noticed. Good to know the chickens will eat them.

a post about them:

Anyone who is averse to creepy crawlies could still have a nice time visiting in the winter when they are mostly gone.
3 weeks ago

N.Y. Anzai wrote:
The main problem is that Japanese companies all tend to collaborate and have standard sizes for everything. So my kitchen unit would happily accommodate the Panasonic. Should be an easy fit. The Miele would not fit easily, would require the counter to be raised (which I actually need doing because i'm tall) and then also need all sorts of adjustments. Whilst we will get the counters raised eventually, finding all the money for all the things that need doing in the case that we choose miele is such a lot and I'm not sure we'll have time before Christmas. My husband knows I had my heart set on the miele but I think we just can't afford it. We also need the garden doing and that costs a LOT here. I'll probably have a go at building raised beds and herb spirals but I can't dig up concrete nor build fences. Can you believe though that just those things would cost almost ¥1 million yen. Why are things so expensive here?! 😭 the garden is probably only 30-50m2 as well 😅

Anyway the garden is sort of our priority as we have a 2 and 5 year old that want to be outside and I have chores to do inside so need something secure and safe.

Sorry again i'm going off on a tangent...

Don't get me started on the standard heights of everything in Japan. The sink in one house is so low that you have to bend your back to a weird angle to use it, but be careful of the ceiling beam that's at forehead height and right above the sink for some reason!

Anyway, if you want to think about it some more or wait to buy your oven, you could maybe do this year's Christmas baking at a public building. Your city might have a cooking classroom that residents can reserve for free or usually a few hundred yen. Most of the time, the classrooms include a small oven at each station. I reserved our town's cooking classroom for our moms group and made cookies. We made way too many and had four ovens going, but it was a fun time.

There is hardly anyone living here so not much demand for the classroom. In a bigger city, it might take more paperwork and a "baking club" that includes a couple friends. Our classroom is inside the health center (hoken center 保健センター)or if there is a childcare support center (kosodateshien center 子育て支援センター) it might be in there, or possibly your community center if it's a big one. Your town office would know, assuming they are the helpful type...

The nice people at Japan simple life might be able to advise on cheaper gardening hacks and probably the oven situation as well. It's a small forum for people currently living or planning to live in Japan. They talk a lot about gardening and farming, and there is a "city life" section.

1 month ago
I skimmed the article and didn't really care for its dramatic, fear-inducing tone. Looking at the referenced papers down at the end, though, I actually just researched this topic recently and came across a lot of the same papers. Pretty much all the trees being milled around us are cedar, so we can get unlimited shavings and sawdust for free. Apparently, cedar is even more toxic than pine, so I looked through many papers to decide whether to use it as chicken bedding.

My personal conclusion is that, as with anything toxic, it depends on how much. With pine and cedar, they seem to become toxic when too much is breathed in or in direct contact with the skin. So my solution is to use less and to add straw on top in the nest basket so that none is touching the skin. We've had the chickens for a few weeks and they all seem fine. If any individual chickens had a particular sensitivity or allergy, I think it would be obvious by now.

Other ways to reduce toxicity are to let it dry well and air out. Our coop is made of cedar and the bedding is maybe one quarter cedar shavings mixed with rice hulls, and the coop doesn't smell like cedar. It doesn't smell bad either. Our winters are mild and the coop windows will stay open all year.

Of course, without comprehensive studies on chickens, we can't be sure. As the article pointed out, most studies are of sawmill workers breathing in freshly cut dust probably without the best ventilation or PPE, and lab rats and their pups, which are tiny and all skin. In contrast with the article, I don't think it's enough evidence to err on the side of caution and completely stop using pine or even cedar. I think it's something to be aware of. I think each breed and also each individual chicken will probably have a different threshold of tolerance to pine/cedar. So if one starts acting weird for no reason, it might be worth considering a pine sensitivity.

I poured a bag of cedar sawdust in the run to mix in with some soggy compost and, to my horror, the chickens started eating it! That was a couple weeks ago and they are all fine. I wouldn't worry about pine shavings.

Also, Caleb, Welcome to Permies!

1 month ago