Thursday, August 28, 2008

plate from pottery shop

I got this plate form a small pottery shop in Hayama. I should say the shop itself was small, but it was packed with shelves of unique and interesting pottery. This one is sort of cool and beachy. The youngish guy who worked there said that his family owned the shop, and there was a studio and larger fancier shop in Kamakura. He was just recovering from taking a surfing vacation in Hawaii and having his surfboard break in half. :( Poor fellow.

the quilt

Here is the quilt I have been working on for the past couple of weeks. The pattern is called Lotus Brick Path, by Amy Butler. Getting the back on correctly is the hard part. There is a wrinkle in the back and several in the sides, which are just going to bug me forevermore, so I am going to pull out the stitches and do everything a little slow and careful.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lots of food for everyone...

Well, we got a big delivery of food from the Japanese pet store, and a nice letter apologizing for all of the trouble we have had with our new baby girl. There are 17 bags of Science Diet in this box, 1 kg each! The letter also promised two more deliveries like this. Wheew! As you can see, the pups are very very interested in what is in the box. They have both been sticking to me like glue. I guess I'm the pied piper of pups. I'm not going to say I'm the dog whisperer; nothing could be further from the truth. I have one little prince who thinks he runs the place, and one who chews everything and pees everywhere.

Anyway, it is true I have become the new mother who talks about nothing but her baby.

The other day Pam, Yuri and I went to lunch at the Zushi Marina. At 3150 Yen a plate, roughly $31.50, it was the best Italian buffet I have ever been too. My Gott! I did not have the cold octopus salad, tempting as those reddish-purple tentacles looked. But they had tiny squares on polenta with a tiny piece of bacon on top of each, and a cream sauce. Crab pasta and sea urchin pasta and eggplant Parmesan, linguine and fettuccine and penne, slivers of the yummiest melt-in-your mouth raw salmon. Don't get me started on the desserts. My diet is pretty much shot for the week, in fact.

Frankie is enjoying 8th grade. The are reading Charlotte Doyle and getting ready to learn how to saute, broil, stew and make soups. They are doing algebra and learning history. Because he is in that gifted program, his same buddies are in class with him again except for the ones who have PCS'd over the summer.

Nate lives to go to lunch and recess. He and his friends are hooked on Club Penguin, an on-line game from Walt Disney that looks very cute and fun. He has been able to chat with his old friend who moved to Washington this summer. At this age, old friend would qualify as someone he met this past year after we moved to Ikego. Here is a new whine: "But Mooooom, I need to get on line at 5 o'clock, because I promised some friends I'd meet them after school."

Here is a little note I found penciled in, in Frankie's handwriting: "Meet at The Faithful Bride pub, 4:00."

Times sure have changed since I was a kid.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Awww, Brad, you dirty boy!

Brad, you're such a dirty, dirty boy.
You filthy, filthy boy.
Soooo diiirty!

puppy tug of war

The dogs are doing better and becoming best frenemies. Natsumi seems to win at tug of war most often. She is doing well and this is her last day of the three pills she has to take BID. Whew! She still has a bit of a wheeze and this week, is going to the Vet for a nebulizer treatment every other day. At roughly $45 a day, I am hoping for a faster recovery. Apparently she is much improved but part of her lung has been damaged probably permanently, and she still has fluid there in addition to the dark area that doesn't work. I may have already said this but I am sooo tired from getting up at night with her...Jose says her lungs will grow bigger anyway and that small part won't make a difference. He sees a big healthy rascal in our future.
The pet shop in Tokyo has decided to send us 6 months of Science Diet Puppy food as a bit of an apology. She will surely eat every bit. She is now officially taller than Cricket.
Anyway, to avoid sounding like a new Mom who talks only about her baby, let me wax poetic for a moment about the carpet tiles in the picture. They stink. Literally and figuratively. They really bite. They migrate all over the white linoleum and annoy us all, but our neighbors all have them and when one of them PCS'd this summer, they insisted that we take over their old carpet squares, for a small fee of course, rather than see them go into the nonburnable trash. We inherited enough to carpet much of the living room, the hallway and up the stairway. The number of tiles have been shrinking, as they end up in the trash anyway, for reasons I wouldn't want to bore the loyal reader with.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cute puppy pictures

Awww, it's Daddy's shirt! And yes, it most certainly does smell like Daddy!

The undefeated snake wrassler!

bigger tea box

This weekend Yuri's friend the tea box teacher showed us how to make large tea boxes covered in fabric and padding. Since I used to do the minor upholstery work, this was somewhat second nature. We whipped this one out in a couple of hours: sewed part by machine, part by hand and part by staples. The teacher could resist taking over a bit and it was fun to watch her. She has been doing it for over 15 years and is very, very good at it. Earlier we went to her house and saw the beautiful boxes she made displayed around her home in Hayama: rich Japanese fabrics, one made from a Buddhist priest's robe gotten somewhere in Tokyo, one an antique fabric she had gotten years ago.

She cracked us all up with her enthusiasm for her two pet beetles that she had been raising for about a year (it is popular in Japan to buy a huge stag beetle and keep it for a pet in the summer, but hers have lived a long time). Her lovebirds laid some eggs which hatched and she kept those in a separate jar. "Aren't they cute?" "Aren't they sweet?" I tried to stifle a scream when she held up a beetle for me to pet. Then she asked if my boys wouldn't enjoy raising one of the babies once they get a little older. I artfully dodged that bullet. Ummm, hey, look at that huge butterfly out there!

Across from her house was a pottery shop having a sale, so we couldn't resist having a look, and we all left with some new treasures. My lovely square plate with a light blue wave on it, looking very Japanese, is still in the trunk of Yuri's car.

Lunch at the Cantina rocked. As always, the food was excellent. I had a summer vegetable pasta and got to try bites of sardine pizza and also fish egg and potato pizza (not my favorite).

Meanwhile, Frankie was home earning babysitting money and Nate was playing video games with his friend William, eating regular frozen pizza. I did bake it though, that was nice of me. Poor babies.

Back to school...

Well, the boys are back to school now and there is a strange feeling in the house. Not entirely unpleasant, actually. Last night was baths and packing and repacking backpacks with all of their supplies. Supplies are different these days, from when I was young: 1 GB thumb drive and computer headphones for Nate! Frankie is nervous about 8th grade. He is a highly intelligent, sweet and painfully shy fellow. Such a good boy. And Nate is excited to see all of his buddies and hoping he'll have a nice and somewhat lenient teacher. Me too. :)
Like we have done every year, I got up early and made cinnamon rolls (from a can of course, I'm no Betty Crocker). Now I sit at the computer smelling the rolls, drinking coffee and listening to the Power Puff Girls which the boys left on the TV when they left. Ahhh. Peace.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hobbit houses in Japan

Only in Japan, I tell you. I found this online while the new puppy was chewing on my foot. Apparently in Kyushu, Aso Farmland has 480 dome houses made of expanded polystyrene in a massive recreational facility. They are touted as being energy efficient, very fast to assemble, earthquake and wind proof, and of course cute as a button. I could not steal the Hello Kitty house pic, for some reason.
I think Jose and I need one of these houses, with a solar panel on top of course. That way wherever we end up moving, we will just take our house with us. Perhaps we could park it across from a Starbucks or large mall.
For a hilarious advertising pitch on these adorable houses, and some more pics, log on to:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Whooo has been eating my parsley?

Well, organic gardening isn't all its cracked up to be sometimes. But who really needs parsley anyway??

tiny puppy quilt I made

Ok, I made this little quilted mat for doggies to lay on. It certainly isn't perfect, but it's my first attempt at a quilt like this. Today I had to run it through the wash for reasons I wouldn't want to bore you with. It came through and is even softer. It looks kind of girly, but they still fight over who gets to lay on it.
Today the boys and I will need to run some errands. First, Nate needs to get a new bus pass, because he has lost his old new one, and school starts Monday. We need to pay the phone bill and pick up the mail at the hospital on the main base. We need to get the boys a few more things for school and pick up a large crate for the new dog. Then its to the commissary for a few bits of food: preferably easy and fast kinds of food for the rapid meal prep.
I have had to bring Natsumi to the vet every single day this week for nebulizer treatments, etc. I am worn out and have of course been using this as my excuse for avoiding the gym. The boys have had swim lessons this week and are getting plenty of exercise whilst I lay on a reclining chair at the side of the pool, reading a cheap novel about some detectives chasing a serial killer. That is about all I have in me intellectually, at least for this week.
Frankie who is now 13, has become the darling of the neighborhood. He has been babysitting nearly every day so the mothers here can run errands. He loves to babysit and still has enough little boy in him to be fun. According to 3 year old Ashley, "Frankie is soooo adorable!" :)

back in the game

Natsumi has been back home, where she belongs. It is almost a complete recovery, but still some fluid left in her lungs which could take a month to go away. She is looking great and now both ears have risen to perk up: something developmentally normal for the Akita pup. She has also put on 2 pounds in the last week. I think she is out of the woods! :)

Also like a regular new puppy, she is up every few hours at night howling in her crate. Consequently, I'm a bit tired. During the day, she alternates between running like crazy and trying to pee everywhere, biting and chewing everything, and sleeping a peaceful sleep sprawled out on the floor. She has three pills to take each morning and night. I try to pack a bit of canned food around each nugget, but last night she put a clean-licked pill on the top of my bare foot: No thanks!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tea Boxes

Today I hosted a little tea box making class in my kitchen. I love tea boxes. They are these wooden or cardboard boxes lines with metal that the Japanese use to hold tea. You can make them any size. You can cover them with paper or fabric and batting. My finished one is the red one; I'm going to use it for a recipe box. Jaudon used a blue dragonfly paper and Pam did a large size for a toy box, using fabric. You can see Sensei there in the white pants. In the next few weeks we are going to do another class and make more.
Before class, I went to see Natsumi at the Vet's. She is doing better and responding to the IV's and oxygen. Tonight they will do another X-ray and see what is happening with the fluid in her lungs. She looks like she is breathing easier. She ate a couple of full meals and was playful this morning, chewing on her IV. All good signs. Yay!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

More David B.

I am sorry Wendy can't be here in Beijing tonight because she is home taking care of things in Ikego...

VERY sick puppy

Poor new baby Natsumi is sick! Very sick!
I have brought her to the base vet three times in the last 7 days since we brought her home. I just knew she wasn't well. The first time, the (quite) handsome, soft spoken Japanese fellow said it was kennel cough and put her on an antibiotic for any secondary infection that may be going on.
I came back 4 days later, saying something just wasn't right with her, she was sleeping all day and not eating well. He laughed at me a bit and thought I worry too much and it had only been a short time, I did not give it much time to work. Ok, I can be a bit of a worry wart. But he could see that she was the same, so added a different antibiotic.
Then yesterday I brought her back again. He saw me come in and just grinned. So cute he was, I must admit. And I can say this because me poor beloved husband, who I truly adore, is off on his mission for the next few months and I know for a fact has not been reading my blog the way he promised. Anyway, I told him that poor baby girl had not been eating or drinking well at all, and not getting any better.
So he reccomended that I take her to the pet hosital in Hayama, the Japanese one. Yuri and I drove her over and she interpreted for me (love her!).

Poor baby girl is very very sick. Her lungs have lots of fluid and she has a severe pneumonia. She is malnourished and dehydrated. this is the way we got her, pretty much. They admitted her and I left her resting in a clear box with oxygen, and an IV. The vet said she cannot guarantee whether Natsumi will actually make it or not. She said that they will do another lung x ray later today and if no change, then we will need to have "a conversation".

It has only been a week since we got her, but we have come to love her in a very short time. I hope she doesn't die!

Please say a prayer and keep your paws crossed for her, she is a really sweet girl!!!

In the meantime, Yuri has been calling the Japanese pet store and hollering at them. They have already sent a box of puppy food and treats by way of apology, but after some updates from Yuri they are asking, How can we resolve this to your satisfaction?

Yuri is the type of aggressive, confident person that can get things done. Things that we signed away, like not holding them responsible to vet costs later, etc. Of course we had no idea what we were signing. And we knew she had "a bit of a cold" when we got her.

My backup plan is to sell all of Jose's coin collection, computer games, computer and ipod and other electronic gadgets of his to pay for her bills at the hospital. I am sure he would be fine with that.

Miss you honey!

Monday, August 11, 2008

etsy, my new obsession

I love to go on and window shop. It is all fantastic homemade things, so original and so creative. I could spend hours on this website. I ordered this photograph because it really speaks to me. It is from Tricia McKellar. I ordered it as an 8X10. Love her birds. There is just something about seeing a group of them on a line that seems peaceful. Anyway, there are the handmade clothes, art, pottery, etc etc to browse. Check it out!

Wow, I finished it!

more stitch and bitch

Yuri has asked us, the ladies of the Ikego neighborhood Stitch and Bitch, to cross stitch our initials for her to hang, in memory of her years here. She is leaving for San Diego in October.

For anyone who doesn't know, after much soul searching we have decided that Jose is going to apply for a fellowship in Pulmonary, in San Diego, for next year. If he gets in, we move. If not, he leaves the Navy and we go back to MN. So that is the latest thing. I would miss my friends and family like crazy, but on the other hand I don't know if I want to be done exploring new places, and there are certainly worse places to live than San Diego! I sure wouldn't miss the long winters...We'll see...

Sooo tired...

Natsumi fell asleep by the box of dog toys!

Natsumi update

A really special thing happened. I was ordering a big book on Akita from, the one with the most stars in front of it, the one which with shipping would have been over $40, when I got an email from the seller that she was not going to charge us because we are military, and thank you for our service!

Wow, that was sweet. Then, turns out she was the author of the book and sent us a bunch of akita websites to check out as well, and asked us to send pictures of Natsumi.

As for the divine Miss N, she is still sick and has been back to the vet for another kind of antibiotic which means she has two kinds twice a day, and one kind at noon. The vet is a sweet Japanese guy who works on the base. He thinks I worry a bit much. He thinks I need to give things time with her. But he did say that if she doesn't get better he will do a chest x-ray and consider putting her in the hospital for nebulizer treatments, etc.

Little Miss Natsumi is so precious I cannot tell you. I do not know what to say about the pet store that sold us this puppy, or the puppy mill she may have come from, but we love her already and I desperately hope she is going to be ok.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Jose leaves...

This morning Jose is getting ready to leave, and we are going to drive him to the train station. He is taking a shower and the kids and I are moping around. I am very sad today, thinking about how much I am going to miss him. I just feel like I do not want to move through this space and time of 4 months, without him. I want to go to bed and sleep through it until he comes home. I am on the verge of crying all morning but just don't let myself.
The little girl doggie is starting to perk up which is a good thing, and Cricket is putting up with her a bit better even though he must always be petted first, and more, than she is petted. If she is on my lap he must be on my lap. I think now that bringing Natsumi-chan into our lives at this moment was a very good thing for us all - she will keep the kids and I busy taking care of her and feeling sorry for ourselves less.
On the up side, my neighbor Yuri is having her mother-in-law over for the next months, and we are planning to set up our sewing machines in her kitchen and make quilts. I have been inspired by Amy Butler's book "Midwest Modern" and the website She has a free pattern for a simple quilt that I am going to try to make from her fabrics that I've ordered on line.
As for the boys, Frankie has pottery and a guitar lesson on Monday and Nate and I have a date to bring his guitar to a shop off of Blue Street in Yokosuka and get some new strings and some adjustments done on it, then get him in for some lessons. Later this week, they will both work on some swimming lessons, and help me volunteer at the thrift shop. So ok...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Happy Anniversary!!!!

Well, our new baby girl there is Natsumi - actually a pretty common Japanese name meaning summer, beautiful summer. She is an Akita puppy, about two months old. She and Jose can celebrate their birthdays on the same day. She seems docile and sweet, but that sure can change once she gets used to us. And of course, gets over being sick. When she has to pee she makes a bee line for the door and sometimes makes it. She seems very smart, smarter than Cricket.
Oh, yeah, Jose brought me roses for our anniversary. 15, one for each year we have been married! It was a wonderful day for us, and I'm so glad we could spend this day together before he has to leave for Columbia on Sunday. We had dinner at the Cantina, which is an Italian place facing the ocean, Zushi beach. We got a table in the front facing the water, and it was very romantic. When our neighbors got wind of it being our day, they had a barbeque outside and took the kids out to feed them. They filled up the pool and watched all of the kids have fun in it. We came home with chocolate truffles from the cantina for everyone. It was a wonderful day.
Then before bed we gave Natsumi-chan her anibiotic and tucked her in to her crate.

already sick...

Aw, my new baby girl is sick! We took her to the vet after she started hacking, coughing and blowing dark smelly grossness out of her nose. I saw that she had a bit of a cold when we took her home, but it has turned for the worse. She has a bit of kennel cough, and a secondary bacterial infection in the upper respiratory. she is on antibiotics, but her lungs are clear, she is otherwise healthy and she should be fine after a week or so. Right now she is sweet but a bit miserable. Very very smart, and already learning to pee outside: better than Cricket!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008

another day in the life

Another day and I cannot find the cord to the camera. but what a cute picture of this little Japanese boy and his faithful Akita nanny! I want one. I want I want I want.

Anyway, we had a regular domestic type day over here. In the morning, my neighbor Yuri and I went shopping in Zushi for bread, veggies in the stalls, sushi and fresh fish from the fish market. I picked out some awesome sword fish that must have been swimming that very morning. Yuri said that was the perfect fish for making fish tacos, and proceeded to rattle off the recipe. For 250 yen a piece, the guy wrapped my fish in newspaper and handed them to me in a bag.

Later after we got home, Yuri came knocking on the door with some cilantro and some tortillas which she said, with her husband on the ship, she would not be able to eat. What a sweet gal. Then she asked me if I wanted to learn how to make tea boxes, since she has a friend who makes the Japanese tea boxes. Do I ever!!!

Frankie has a pottery class and then a first guitar lesson. Frankie has gotten himself a used acoustic guitar from Hard Off, the second hand shop close to where we live. Since Nate's guitar is electric and we are waiting for the case to come in the mail and then take in somewhere for repairs, he is not in lessons yet, even though he is Mr Rock and Roll with his Guitar Hero Game. While Frankie was in class Nate and I did what we do best: went shopping a bit and went to Starbucks.

Later that night we ate the fish tacos which were very good:

  • combine olive oil, lime juice, cumin, chili pepper, cilantro
  • marinate the fish in this
  • grill the fish
  • put in taco wrapper and top with cabbage and cilantro, sour cream, green onion

After dinner we had an unfortunate avalanche of kool-aid over the table, chairs, newspapers and white linoleum. The culprit, only to be known as F, made a token effort to clean it up. This morning, I got right out of bed without any urge to linger like I usually would, and mopped it. After getting back to the gym, I seem to have gotten out of my funk. Thank God.

But Jose is still leaving us on Sunday.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Well, I did not get any pictures but we just spent a day at the Yunesson spas - Jose, the boys, and I. It was really alot of fun. It was a 2 1/2 hour drive of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen, through the mountains toward Fuji. Then, Yunesson consists of the most fun and odd baths ever:

a coffee bath
a wine bath
a green tea bath
a sake bath
a waterfall bath
hot and cold baths in the rock pools
a hot pepper bath!
a bath for your feet only, with "doctor fish" that come up and bite the dead skin off your feet = tickles
the dead sea bath with tons of salt, so that you float
the rose petal bath, very nice
lots of special pools for kids and some water slides
food and stuff to buy $$$

there are places to gets massages and treatments
there is a geyser that blows hot water and steam faithfully around the clock, every twenty minutes

Frankie seemed to like everything, but I think Nate's favorite was the coffee bath. Every couple of hours, a guy would come out and refresh the bath with buckets of warm coffee, making a great show of splashing the bathers. He surprised one guy by dumping the whole bucket over his head and everyone was hooting and laughing. Nate got splashed with coffee pretty good. Amazingly, the Japanese migrated over to the coffee bath when it was time to pour more in, and the times were posted!

I had to tape over my tattoo and hide it because, no! tattoos! allowed!

Today is Monday, and back to reality: climbing Mount Washmore!

Friday, August 1, 2008

People who look like their dogs...

Here are a few people who look like their dogs. Cute! This oughta cheer up us grumpy gals. By that, I mean me. :)

new hobbies

I have not posted as much lately, because I've been in a bit of a slump. It has been mid-80's and humid, and my favorite new hobby is sitting on the couch drinking iced tea. Then again I enjoy collecting dust, and listening to the cicadas. Another thing I can get some pleasure out of is throwing out half-rotted meat and watching the huge crows and hawks fight over it, in the backyard. It is the supreme effort to do anything else.
It seems like the other Navy wives in this courtyard are in the same boat, except for the rotted meat. We try to call and urge eachother to get out of the house and sit outside in the late afternoon, to "stitch and bitch". Emphasis on stitch.
Jose has been home which has been wonderful, but I still have the urge to sleep late while he is at work, wear my pajamas as long as I can, and eat stuff. I was horrified that my weight went up a whole 1o pounds since he first was deployed. Now I have to eat small amounts of things I don't like, to get into my clothes, including some shorts!!
I do not seem to have the motivation to do anything out of the ordinary right now. Just cooking, taking care of the boys, some sewing/cross stitch, and taking them to swimming etc and other things they like to do. I have been buying stupid things online that turn out not to fit, then leaving them in the corner of the closet, in the original packaging. I watch Oprah even though I don't give two hoots about the person she has on. I miss being a social worker. Hell, I miss fitting into last years shorts.
The kids have had a good summer I think. They have had a good time with Dad, and now I am trying to numb myself to the fact that he is leaving again soon and will not be back until after Thanksgiving.
Oh, wellll.....I suppose some chocolate ice cream will cheer me up...perhaps a nice glass of wine...