Thursday, 18 June – our house

Posted June 18th, 2009 by IP

Just wanted to add a view of our house as it now looks.  To either side of the entrance are Siberian lilac bushes.  Their fragrance is heavenly!

20090618 Star Apt #2, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia 20090618 Siberian lilacs in bloom outside our entrance.

Thursday, 18 June

Posted June 18th, 2009 by IP

Our garden is growing very quickly now.  The change from day to day is quite noticeable.  We can harvest enough salad every day for dinner…yum!  Today I remembered to bring the camera and now have some pics to share.  Check out the difference between now and last April when we planted the seeds.

20090618 Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? 20090618 shisho, salad, squash 20090618 Squash is taking over our plot! 20090618 Four o'clock 20090618 radish sprouts 20090618 The bubble garden in Ulaanbaatar Star Apartment Compound as seen from our end 20090618 The bubble garden viewed from the entrance.  Our plot is the far right at the back

Monday, 15 June

Posted June 15th, 2009 by IP

It’s 2212 and before the month escapes me, wanted to do a quick update.  The computer is running so slowly that Tuesday may well arrive before I am successfully able to do so!

The garden is thriving.  We visit it every day and it’s amazing how much it’s changed.  Usually in the afternoon, either Jess or Josh and I stroll over with watering cans in hand.  We’ve taken to watering neighboring plots as well and it’s such a delight seeing how everything is sprouting.  At first, we didn’t weed, but as things began growing, it was obvious that some of those green and growing things were not what we planted.  We now weed a bit every day rather than attacking them all at once.  Besides being less of a chore, this has the added benefit of keeping the soil loose otherwise it packs down rather solidly.

Today the wind was blowing very strongly when we went around 1830.  The plastic covering has pulled away from some of the support poles next to the entrance on the right side and on the opposite end where our plot is.  We keep putting it back in place with the clips, but by our next visit, the clips have popped off again.  Overall the covering is holding otherwise the wind would likely knock everything flat!

Our most prolific plants are each of the three different kinds of squash – much to the boys’ delight – and salad.  The squash leaves are almost a large as umbrellas, and I guess we will likely have to do what others before us have done: coax the growing vines out of the gaps in the plastic and onto the ground outside.  Otherwise, they will overtake the entire greenhouse!  We have enjoyed several meals accompanied by salad from our garden.  The difference in taste between what we’ve grown and what we’ve bought in the store could not be more evident.  Ours is so fresh and crisp.  What a delight to actually serve the fruits – or salad – of our harvest.

Today, Josh and I pulled a few more weeds and planted some radish, carrots, and marigolds.  The radish seeds we planted last week are already coming up!

Pics will have to follow a bit later as I keep forgetting to bring the camera along with me.  If I wait too much longer, the squash leaves will cover the plot and nothing else will be visible.   Well, that’s it for today…now to see if I can actually post this before it turns Tuesday!

Our Garden

Posted May 16th, 2009 by IP

I have a passion for green and growing things. Each place where we plant our own roots for three to four years, I immediately begin scouting out local flora. UB is no different, although compared to Africa, Jakarta, Tokyo, and Canberra, it is much more challenging.

After nine months, we have about 15 houseplants; we had a few more, but Hunter found them a tasty treat during the long, cold winter so I’ve had to cluster the survivors in our small, sunny ‘clutter’ room on the second floor. Here we have our desktop, laptop, printer, scanner, table for crafts, an ironing board, and my sewing machine. Currently we have a cherry tree, azalea, two varieties of clover, Peace Lily, and a few I don’t know the names of.

Now that it’s warmed up, a garden bubble has been erected on our housing compound. Residents are able to sign up for 5’x6′ plots. We signed up in February right after Tsagaan Sar, the Mongolian New Year which heralds spring. The bubble was up in April and after we returned from our R&R in Tokyo, I took another week off from work. Jesse and I prepared the plot; he dug, I watched 🙂 Once the large chunks of dirt were pulverized, he watered well and we planted seeds. This was done the week of April 19, with a supplemental planting the following week.

Now, almost a month later we have a slowly, but steadily showing of the following: 4 o’clock, corn, sunflowers, squash, watermelon, and morning glories. I also planted a shiso and some wildflower mix and we’re still waiting for them to sprout. There are many other little shoots – likely from previous gardeners. We’re waiting to see what they become.

In the month since we planted in April, temperatures ranged from the mid 20sC / 80sF to zero. It has snowed twice. This is the first time I’ve lived in a place with such extreme weather and with such a short growing season…less than four months.

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Saturday, 16 May

Posted May 16th, 2009 by IP

Here’s what I saw when I woke around 5 this morning and looked out the window. It’s amazing how the temperatures change from day to day. Twelve days ago it was in the mid 20sC / 80sF; below zero today!

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Sunday, 10 May 2009 – Happy Mother’s Day!

Posted May 10th, 2009 by IP

Well, a lot has happened since my last entry. On Monday, 27 April, I returned to work and the last two weeks were so busy that after I returned home, I had no desire to work on the computer (play cards, maybe; type on blog, no!). Things are finally settling down somewhat, so I will try to be more regular in my writing.

In my last entry, I mentioned that we were beginning a garden plot. I’m happy to report, that it is doing well. There are morning glories, sunflowers, a 4 o’clock, corn (just one so far), two types of squash, and watermelon pushing their way through the soil. We visit the garden in the morning and evening to water and encourage the little guys out of the ground. I’m so excited to see how the shoots are growing – about 2″ and growing.

Temperatures last week ranged from 28C / 80F to 0C / 32F with snow on Friday and Saturday! Thanks goodness the plants are under their bubble of plastic, otherwise we would have surely lost everything.

Today we had lunch with a lovely Mongolian family. They, like us, have a son with Down Syndrome. Our Jason, will be 23 later this month. Since our arrival last August, we have been wondering what he could do. All through the long weather, Jason was mostly house-bound. When the temperatures drop to -30 with a windchill of -45, there’s not a whole lot of incentive to go out! Now, that it’s warming up, Jason is eager to get out and about. Today we learned that on several occasions, he met the father of the Mongolian boy who also has DS. The father teaches yoga three times a week on our housing compound. He also works at the embassy and discovered that Jason is my son. He asked his American supervisor to see if I would be interested in learning more about what is being done for children with DS in UB. It was like the answer to a prayer! His wonderful wife, Erden, is the chairman of the Mongolian DS Association. Today at lunch, we learned that there are about 40 families in UB who have DS children. Through the efforts of Erden, there is now a classroom where these children attend school four hours a day. She is passionate to improve their situation and works tirelessly with NGOs to develop programs and services. I am sure that over our next 2 1/2 years, we will have many opportunities to work together.

I feel as though a door has been opened and that our experience in Mongolia will be a truly special and unique time.

That’s all for today. Over the coming days, I will backtrack a bit to give a synopsis of our stay in Japan, and also hopefully upload some pics.

Saturday, 25 April

Posted April 25th, 2009 by IP

The spring winds that we heard so much about must be blowing today. They began during the night and are huffing and puffing for all they are worth this morning. The sky is overcast – whether that’s from clouds or dust, I don’t know.  The morning wind hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of a group of young boys who are playing soccer on the field of the housing compound. From our vantage point on the other side of the compound, they look like bright fall leaves as they race across the field in their colorful jackets.  Just a few weeks ago, that very spot where they are now running was an ice skating rink! When the temperature began to drop below freezing last year, the compound grounds staff built a wooden frame, lined it with plastic, and then filled it with water. Grownups, kids and dogs had a great time all through the long, cold winter, skating or playing ice hockey and broomball. I watched from a distance as I neither like extreme cold nor wish to tempt fate when there’s ice around! We came through our first winter unscathed, I’m happy to say. I look forward to spring, and have worked with Jesse this week to prepare our green house plot. I check it every day in hopes of seeing a green shoot poking up through the soil. So far, we planted some corn and sunflower seeds, as well as a few wildflower mix. Tomorrow I’ll plant morning glories as I finally remembered to soak the seeds in water. This afternoon Josh and I worked on the rest of our green house plot…it seems we get a bonus space as our plot is at one end of the row and next to it is a smaller bit where I think I shall try squash and watermelon…

Hello world!

Posted April 22nd, 2009 by IP

Today is Friday, 24 April 2009, and this is my first blog post! While I’m physically sitting in Mongolia, I feel connected to the world at large. At the urging of my oldest son, Jeffrey, I decided to start a blog. Jeff’s blog ‘njmatsuya.com’ has been up and running for several months and I have enjoyed following his exploits in Japan. It has long been my goal to keep a diary of our family and to organize all those boxes of photos that we have been carrying around the world for the past ten years. Paper, as we all know, is a precarious method of storing history. Now my brain wheels are beginning to turn thinking of how I can record our family’s history in a more permanent manner. This seems like a good way to preserve it for posterity! Two days ago, I registered for the domain at lunarpages.com then Jeff set up the blog spot for me. Yesterday I checked out 50 pages of possible themes – this is one of them. It’s called Floral Belle. I rather like it as it incorporates a bit of whimsy and my love of green and growing things. I’ll be thinking of how to organize the blog as time goes on. Just a brief, introductory blurb about us. Our family consists of six persons: Isamu (a native of Nagano), Peggy (grew up in Maryland), Jeffrey, Jason, Jesse, and Joshua (born in Togo and raised in the world). A cheeky daschund named Max, and a sage Maine Coon/Persian mix named Hunter round out our household. We currently reside in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. That’s all for now. In the meantime, enjoy reading and here’s hoping this makes you smile, or think, or inspired. God bless!