Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Kids in Minnesota

Well, we are back home for a month and enjoying two sets of grandparents, and my grandmother as well. Frankie and Nate are riding here on the back of Uncle Matt's 1940's jeep, at my Granny's farmhouse. They are not thrilled to have their picture taken, but we were all having fun. The most fun was having a bit of wine and then chasing the nephews around for a picture. Nothing but action shots!
This week I split the boys up: Big boy went to Cookie Grandma's to learn the Cuban ways of cooking, starting with a most awesome flan with caramel sauce. Nathan came with me up to Dinosaur Grandma's to do a bit of thrift stores, restaurants, and the movie. "Get Smart" It was funny! Nate especially enjoyed the foul language and occasional crude humor. Fun flick!
The kids have been enjoying being beat up by all of their relatives: not only the grandparents but Aunties Heather and Jeanne, Uncle's Joe, Ben and Matt and now Leroy, Heather's husband, and Joe's wife Lindsay added to the family tree makes a great get together.
It is nice to be back in my hometown, and I've enjoyed taking some long walks in the morning with Mom.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Japanese Construction Workers and Truck

It's Friday and school is out for the year. Yay! We all slept in, even the dog. Today I have some construction worker pics for Japan. Japanese construction workers are a special kind of adorable! They often have baggy pants gathered below the knee and white cloths tied around their heads. The shoes are sometimes split into two - click on the above to magnify. Often times, groups of workers can be seen having green tea, smoking cigarettes, or slurping ramen. Above, is a tiny little white truck that is too cute. Couldn't you just scoop a couple of them up and take them home??

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Yamanote River Cleanup

This weekend the boys and I volunteered for a project cleaning the Yamanote River, a stream that runs through Zushi. We came prepared with lots of bug spray, old shoes, long barbecue tongs and baseball hats to keep the flies from bothering us. It first, it was fun. A group of about 20 of us joined a group of Japanese citizens in town, then listened to speeches drone on and on. Thank you for coming etc etc. The mayor was there is his jeans and tee shirt. A small local news crew was there to take our picture. The speeches were going well until a woman unwisely decided to translate: watch for eels, watch for snakes in the water. If anyone gets bitten, we will have an ambulance standing by. Nate began to hang on my arm in amost irritating way. The mayor, the photographer and many of the volunteers vanished quietly. Many of them also did not go down into the river bank area but walked alongside and looked down at us. It was very curious.
But my boys and I got down into the muck. And muck it was. Frankie found a whole toaster oven someone through in and a bag of manga thrown in under a bridge. Nate was a trooper until he finally fell on his tailbone on a rock, times three, and had to be helped out. The little river is its own amazing ecosystem. There were fish, crabs, poles which we were instructed to leave in for eels to use for nesting, and firefly larvae quietly brewing somewhere in the muck, getting ready for the late-June show. A pair of ducks angrily defended a patch of grass, and I found a tiny nest built from scraps of white fabric and bits of plastic bag. The day was warm with a slight breeze.

We were filthy and smelly by the end, but what a good day!

Middle School Angst

Well, Frankie will be a very old man with a long grey beard by the time he is finished with all of the extra chores I have lined up for him. I am really enjoying making the list for him, and have much of the day free to do this while he is enjoying his day of school.
Last night I got one of those surprise emails from a teacher saying that he had failed a major assignment and was being given 24 hours to revise and turned in what he was told to do 9 weeks ago.
At 6 pm, he finally confessed that he had been having technical problems putting sound files into his work and so, rather than go to the teaches, decided to heck with the sound files. He informed me that he would need a certain headset from the NEX, located 30 minutes away on the main base. It is lucky that I was not planning on cooking any dinner anyway.
After returning from the base with this and, my York Peppermint Patty, and my new DVD, The Other Boleyn Girl, sure to be a guilty pleasure, he worked on his project for a few hours. Then he announced that he needed a CD to save it on.
We tore through Jose's boxes of stuff and found some miscellaneous things which would not work. The computer was making a weird grinding noise which was not encouraging. Frankie went to bed about 11 and I lay awake worrying about how an apparently gifted child could be so completely lacking in organizational skills.
At 6 am, we went next door to ask to father of another middle schooler, who was awake and understood my issue, for a CD, which we had and it worked. Saved the day!
I am really enjoying this list of gross chores that I've been putting off myself. Now, to clean the toilet with a toothbrush...or just the toilet brush...?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

it was only a matter of time...

It was only a matter of time before I combined my two favorite hobbies of this summer: Cricket and Cross Stitch. I only wish I had worse vices. Ones more interesting to read about on this blog. Perhaps I could make up something more scandalous, complete with photos. Anywhooo, On this cross stitch website, you can send in a photograph and they will, for a small fee, turn it into a cross stitch for you. Cool.
Today was a warm, sunny day, so Nate and I went to the base pool. Nate splashed in the water with his buddy, also named Nathaniel, while I sat in direct sunlight and tried not to feel so fat and sloppy next to the teenage lifeguards. My God, I did not need to see my legs in direct sunlight.
Afterward, we dragged Frankie from his cave and went to Chili's, which opened on the base around 6 months ago. Still working out a bit of the kinks there in the ole customer service area, but the food was great and our waitress was very kind about giving me my whole molten chocolate cake, which is completely appropriate for one person to eat in its entirety. My friend Saori and her baby were there also, and it was really nice to see her. She is like a sister to me, I just love her. Like a sister, she has sometimes got on my nerves, lik ewith her top-decibel driving tips, etc, but we still love each other dearly. I confiscated Ko-chan during the meal and got my baby fix for the day. I will probably not be bothering Jose for another baby any time soon. (Ha! Soon is all I got left, them eggs aint farm fresh anymore....) Anyway, its was funny that Saori refused to eat the black beans because she is Japanese, and a fairly traditional gal at that, and beans are supposed to be sweet. MMMM, yummy beans poured over ice cream....

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Only in Japan: World's Tiniest Ramen Bowl

Well, this is pretty far out. Mechanical Engineering Professor Nakao, and Tokyo University, created the world's tiniest bowl of Ramen with his students. They apparently carved it out of some sort of carbon material. the bowl is 1/25,000 of an inch wide. There are even tiny microscopic noodles in it. I am sure there must be a practical application for this technology! Here you go, Dad, now you should make a bowl of spaghetti out of steel or aluminum, and get yours on CNN next!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

a little rain must fall...

Here he is out in the backyard. He was still having GI problems, including runny poops and barfing on the white linoleum floor of ours, so the vet told me to keep him on the diet of boiled chicken, rice, and a bit of cottage cheese for a few days longer. As of this morning, things "appear" to be back to normal so after a few more days, hopefully I'll switch him back to regular food. Poor Cricket! Mopping the floors has been a hoot. Now matter how messy the house has been, it smells like pine action.

Well, that is the nicest, sunniest art of my post. Do you ever notice how some blogs are so sickly sweet it makes a person gag? Well, this is not going to be one of those blogs. Life is complicated, there are ups and downs. Lets make this a real record, something genuine.

The day before yesterday I woke up with a dull headache and thinking about stopping at the base for coffee. My neighbor was sweet and brought me a Toyko Starbucks cup. He has got me convinced that I need one for all the cities I visit. He is a fun househusband. Anywhoo, out of coffee. Ok. I bring Nate to his 7:30 dentist appt, and sit it the waiting room nursing my caffeine withdrawal symptoms while this dementedly cheerful woman, a total stranger, prattled on to me at the top of her lungs, about scrapbooking. Scrapbooking, for God's sake. Her hair was long, smooth and shining, lip gloss, hugely pregnant and too cute for the morning hour. There is no reason for it.

Nate did not have any cavities but they recommended a sealant on the back molars which they didn't have time to do. As I stopped by the appt desk, they told me that there was no more available appts but I should call by 7:30 the next day to get the next available one, when the new schedule opened. WTF? The next day by 1:30 when I remembered, they were booked. WTF? Make some times in the future.

Went to the autoport to have them replace the headlight cover which I smashed months ago in the Daie Mall due to a pole suddenly moving in front of my car, and they said they were too busy, to come back tommorrow. WTH? You told me to come back today!? Yes, we are very busy today. I am very sorry. He was a handsome Japanese fellow looking about 16. I made an appt for next week.

Later at Starbucks I nursed a grande cappuccino, with cinnamon on top. It was wonderful. Outside, the effects of a mild typhoon blew rain on all of the cars in the lot. It is days like this that I miss the civilian world: bringing my car in to a place and having it fixed, and using that ole consumer back door if I'm not happy with a service. Having a receptionist open up an appt book and schedule something, even if its a couple of months out, because they don't have dentist moving every summer and creating a staffing crisis. Ah, well.

It was darned good coffee anyway. It just makes everything better.

Cool Pants

Look at these cutie little pants. In fact, this is the best picture I ended up getting of the suprize going away party for Kathy K on Sunday. Now, lots of people are moving right now. If it was just one of those stiff gatherings to honor someone whose husband happens to have a high rank I would not have gone. But Kathy is special. She has opened her heart and home to all of us. She has cared and taken care of us. It is our first and last move with the Navy and Kathy has changed my experience of Navy life a bit, for the better. If there is any gathering we want to do for the Oakleaf club, it was at Kathy's. If there was any problem anyone is not sure how to solve, call Kathy. When we wanted to move on base and were having frustrations with the @#!^ housing office, Kathy went to the office with me, more than once. At Christmas time, we baked cookies at her house. At Easter time, she had an Easter egg hunt. Kids were always welcome.

Plus, Kathy is one of my two or three loyal readers! Hee hee.

My big regret is that I was not brave enough to try the Karioke machine. But it was still daylight and since I had to drive myself and Nate back to Ikego, did not enjoy the sangria that was calling my name. You know, I tried to get Frankie to go with me, but he said, "Ah, know how I hate large social gatherings" Just like his Papa!