Monday, July 31, 2006

Learning something new everyday

Mike has now published pictures of his trip up Fuji (sorry had the website here, but MB wanted me to take it off. Seems that she has it fixed on her blog that no one can find it. So, I guess you have to email me to get the address.)

MaryBeth is so awesome. She just showed me how to use spellcheck on this blog! So, now we have the new improved spelling error free blog. Hopefully.

We made another run by the mall today. I couldn't resist getting more of the extra long socks. Brock had Jr NBA and Grace had swimming lessons today. I watched Brock play in the first half before Grace became cranky pants, and I went into the commons area with her. He did really well. Scored two points. Probably twice as tall as at least one of the other kids! Grace looks like she is near drowning all of the time, but she loves the water. She is a total mermaid.

After dinner, we sat on the playground watching the kids. It was pretty dang cold out there. When we went out there was this little girl climbing the slide and sliding down. She kept up a running dialogue as we sat there. Her name is Lindsay, she is three. Still climbing, still sliding. I mentioned to her it might be easier to climb the ladder and slide down, but no, that was not part of her plan. Still climbing, still sliding, still talking. Occasionally falling on her face, struggling back to her feet to confront the slide. At one point she ran off and then returned a little while later.

As we were leaving, her mother was approaching. We mentioned that she had kept up her end of the conversation quite nicely. Her mother laughed and said she had run in the house earlier and asked about their dog still in Texas (getting an update on how he was doing). She informed her mother that she was talking to the two ladies on the playground. Good to know that is what she was telling us when she returned because in all of that I understood maybe every fourth sentence.

After the playground we went in for dessert. MaryBeth made scones that we had with strawberries and whipped cream. How yummy is that?!!

Well, it's the end of another day. I'm almost done with my book The World is Flat. It's interesting that much of the book is about how interconnected the world has become as information and technology passes almost instantaneously around the world, and it feels very personal as I write Monday evening how my day has been so that I can keep in touch with everyone back home who could wake up Monday morning, get on the computer and know all the details.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sunday in Misawa

Another lazy day in the Vaughn household. We attended the 11:00am church service "Contemporary". I realize different styles suit different people, but drums and guitars always takes me by surprise in church. The gang went to the bowling alley after lunch. I wisely sat and cheered others on. I think the last time I bowled I let loose of the ball a little early throwing everyone behind me in danger. We met up with their friends Carol and Tim and Jen and Dave.

We stood outside for a little bit talking to Janet and watching children run amok. (Have you noticed that is a common theme?) A short time later, we were heading out to kiddy disco. I would show photos but they move too quickly to catch on film. Although quite loud and full of children, it wasn't too bad because we were able to sit at a table talking.

And now, the quiet part of the day, as Grace and Brock get ready for bed, and we sit watching High Fidelity. I love this movie, it's non-stop top five lists. Top 5 most embarrassing moments, top 5 songs to make out to. . .

Have I mentioned that I am also reading The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman? I would like to suggest it to everyone. I have to have it read by the time I get to school because one of my inservice sessions is about it. It is an amazing book.

In the end, I am sorry. No pictures today.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Going to the Fish market

I finally slept late. I didn't get up until 6:30am. Hoorah! I worked out after MB did. The good thing about it being a little cold is that when I work out, there is a nice breeze through the windows. Have I mentioned yet that there is no air conditioning in this country?

So, although it was wet and drizzly today, we headed out to Hachinohe to go to the fish market. It's only about 10 or 15 minutes away, and we felt it was a requisite part of the trip. I'm not a big fan of fish, but I may now check this experience off the list of things to do before I die. Ok, so it wasn't on the list, but now I can check it off anyway. It looks unassuming from the outside, but their are some bad smells inside. yikes.

Now I would like to share some of the many sights with you. Come along with me. Almost all the vendors had huge crabs. Every once in a while one would still be alive. The vendor would tap it, and it would wiggle. A lot of crab eating going on in this country. The price is 2500 yen or about $24.00.

The yellow baskets are full of sea urchins. I don't know if you are supposed to clean with them or eat them. But I knew I wasn't touching them.

Almost all of the fish still had their heads, and the poor shark just had his head. Looks happy, doesn't he?

You probably can't tell, but the bucket is full of small slippery things swimming around. No idea of what they are.

We walked pass a man trying to get us to eat worms and a lady trying to get us to eat seaweed. She smiled with delight when I decided to get a photo. I think she thought she had a chance of getting me to eat whatever it was.

There were also some really big fish. The box is probably 5 feet long. That is a big honkin fish.

Another irony of the Japanese. I fully expected only squatty potties in the fish market. Instead they have magic potties. Who would ever guess, as MB puts it, the country with the most backwards potties also has the super advanced. If I spoke Japanese I might even know what all the different buttons are. I believe one is a bidet. However I did not wish for water up my hiney. So I didn't verify. MB says some of them are even heated.

On the way back we stopped at the Harley Davidson store. I thought for sure there would be some fun thing that showed Japan, but no nothing. After the Harley store, we went to the Ramen house for lunch.

I have now officially eaten at a restaurant that required us to sit on the floor. The legs to go numb. I kept this photo because the blur on the right is Grace. Both of her children are blurs. As Dad would say aconstant barrage of sound and whirling dirvishes of movement. Sometimes they mak e my head hurt. I can say that because MB has confessed, sometimes they make HER head hurt.

After lunch, we went to a nursery (plants, not children) that MB had been wanting to see. I'm betting money that she finds her way back there to get some when it's not so gross outside. Lots of fun stuff for the garden too. She broke down and got the kids a garden dragonfly with working wings. very cool.

We stopped at the commissary on the way home. (Days not complete till we've been to the commissary and the post office.) Once home the little ones were sent out to play. It's been lovely.

Mike got back from climbing Mt Fugi. They climbed all night (took about 8 hours) and arrived at the top in time to see the sun rise. Then they turned around and walked down. Talk about some serious exercise and sleep deprivation. I've decided listening to Mike tell us about climbing it is a fabulous substitute for actually doing it!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Taking it easy

Hate to disappoint one and all, but today was a delightfully slow day. Total hanging out.

It started with a relaxing morning. MB worked out then I went and worked out. She woke up with a headache which we all know sucks. So she was popping meds most of the morning. I finally gave her one of my magic pills, and after lunch she laid down for a nap. I'm watching Shall We Dance. Brock and two of his friends sat down during the middle of it and are watching with me. They are very cute. There is a line in the movie "People get married because we need a witness to our lives. Some one who tells us that our life will not go unnoticed. " I would like all married people to weigh in on this. I am intriqued by the statement.

While watching, I also surfed the net. I looked up skirts. There is something wrong with the world when a website about short skirts is actually porn. Gives me the heebie jeebies.

After MB got up from her nap (still with a headache, makes my head hurt to think about it), we made a run to the BX and then had dinner on base. After that her friend Angel and her 2 boys came over and we all walked off base to the Tanabata Festival. It is all just off base on the main road. Japan has a lot of festivals in the summer. This is the first of 3 possible festivals in the area just this weekend.

First, pls check out the If I could teach them to dress entry. I've added! Basically it is vendors lined up on either side of the street. Live Music and these huge hanging decorations. These are some of the hanging things (I don't know what else to call them.) Brock is on the far left, Jonathan, Jacob and Grace. They hung about every 20 feet or so. I took the photo of the whale one for Pam C. They were all different. There were Disney ones, Soccer World Cup had one, and the last one on the street was an NBA one. On the way back toward the base, I stopped and got a shaved ice cone. It was probably 6 different colors. MaryBeth made me get my picture taken with the guy selling them. Not sure why but the Japanese always put their fingers up in the peace sign for pictures. It's supposed to mean smile. Don't know why they do that when they can just give the camera the real thing. Another thing to leave American's perplexed.

Normally I would not take photos of trashcans, but in Japan, these things are an anomoly. Apparently it is expensive to have trash disposed of properly. MaryBeth says that is why they are using the ocean as their personal trashcans. There aren't trashcans in public - ever. Very weird.

The squatty potties might be your first indication, but as you can see to the left. Japan is a nation of squatters. You just don't see that much in the states. They don't sit on the ground . . . they all squat above it. Lots of people come to the festivals in Kimonos (boys and girls). The little kids are darn cute in theirs. Grace has one, but she didn't wear it today.

P.S. I'm trying to figure out how to add the video clip I got of the ring toss and the Japanese rapper. So, come back to this one later.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Book Club Day

I'm still waking up at about 3am, but this morning I went back to sleep and didn't get up until 6am. Pretty soon I'll be sleeping all day. ha ha

I forgot to mention that yesterday MaryBeth and I grabbed a pair of shears and headed over to a part of the base housing that is about to be flattened. We cut hydrangeas for the kitchen table. The colors aren't as bright in the photo as they are in real life. They have a purple tinge too. The bushes are everywhere. It is making me yearn for my next yard to have some of these bushes.

I have many photos to add, however, blogger isn't working with me. We went to the mall in Shimodo today. Small mall by our standards, but it was great. Japan is a land of small breasted women. Clothes would have fit, if certain parts of my body were not being smushed most unpleasantly. I did, however, find the cool socks that a couple of girls at HP were wearing last winter. I asked where they had gotten them and in a snotty little tone one told me "Japan." They are really thick like leg warmers, but they're socks. We also went to another 100 yen store. Those places are fun. I'm not sure you can tell, but we think Brock and Grace have these weird plastic Japanese hair things on their heads.

We ate at the food court. Although there was a trusty McDonald's, I went ahead and ordered who knows what. well, I know it was some kind of noodle and chicken thing. Didn't seem too dangerous. The chicken balls actually tasted better than the KFC we had the other day. Hmmm.

MaryBeth got some meat cubes that actually comes out still cooking. She kept stirring until the meat was fully cooked. Weird. After lunch, we looked around the mall some more. Good news, the people up north actually dress better. And the shoe stores had cute shoes!

I painted Grace's nails before we loaded back into the car to take her to dance lessons at the youth center. We left Brock there because he has basketball practice. MaryBeth will pick him up before we head out to dinner and book club.

We went out to Ohashi's, a Japanese version of a taipas restaurant, so everyone got 2 or 3 things and traded. It was really good. MaryBeth is back left, Janet her neighbor is across from her. Carol is in red. She just became a part of the military world when she got married a year or so ago, and this is her first base. Talk about trial by fire. Barbara is on the left and Jenny is on the right. They are both new arrivals to Misawa. We are all sitting on the ground on little cushions. There is a hole cut beneath the table and all of our legs hang down. Oh, and MB got a ceasar salad with egg (uncooked, thank you) on it. She is an adventurer I can tell you that much!

I also took a photo of MB's license plate. The Japanese have come up with a way to identify foreigners. They put a big Y (Yankee) on their plates. I'd like to see an entire system based on the principal of identifying troublesome drivers. Think about it R - redneck, odds are good they'll own a gun, C - carpool mom, good chance taking pharmaceuticals while driving big suburban, O - extremely old person, will drive 20 miles under the limit no matter what.

After dinner we went to "Marcie's" wife of the base commander. There were about 13 people at book club. It was fun. Apparently some of the ladies were determined to be there for the sole reason it was at her house, guess MB will really know if they ever show up again!

We got back to her house at about 8:30, and the children showed great dispay that we were back so early. MB took that as a sign we should leave again, so we walked over to her friend Carol's and hung out over there for about an hour. Now we are back, kids in bed, and I've stayed up later than I have the last 4 days!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Mike heads off to tackle Mt Fuji

I'm getting the hang of this sleeping thing. I woke up at 5:30.

Mike has left with 8 or so of his church men's group members to climb the mountain. We have 4 days to run amok. Well, as amok as MaryBeth and I can run with Brock and Grace on our tail the whole time. Of course at this exact moment, MB and I are watching the David Letterman show. Gearing up for a day of craziness I tell you.

MB had asked me to pick up 3 copies of Marley and Me for her book club. I got a read in myself of it. Very amusing. A tale about the world's worst dog. When he gets to the part about Marley getting old, it sounds as if he is talking about Eva. Brought a tear to my eye.

Her book club meeting tomorrow night is over the Girl with a Pearl Earring which I've read, but MB told me I could not wing it, so I'm rereading to be thoroughly prepared. Grace and Brock have each gone off in different directions with other kids, so MB and I took the chance to check out the 100 yen store. So many things to purchase, so many things I can't imagine what they are.

Spent the afternoon hanging out before taking Grace to swimming lessons. There is a great churning and thrashing of water and limbs. All of the children appeared a wee bit spastic. The swimming pool is across the street from Mike's office. It may be too small to tell, but the sign on the right says Major Vaughn. MaryBeth planted the flowers. Isn't that sweet? That's love I tell you.

I don't think I've mentioned yet, in Japan military tv has no commercials. It's just ads telling people how to be good military personnel or telling about the fabulous people working at the BX. There are also little quizzes about countries. The game is to guess what country is being described before the end of the commercial. Brock is very good at this game, but I have a sense it is because he watches more tv than anyone else.

We went to dinner at a Mexican Restaurant on base. The marguarita was delicious, but the food was suspect. We looked out on the water (the base has a lake) and watched the sun set. Of course it only took the 1 drink to make me loopy. Thought about calling everybody and saying hi, but MaryBeth advised me that 4am wake-up calls are hardly ever taken well. Back at the house, the kids are out playing with the 8 million other children that live on base as MB and I watch the Colbert Report (If you haven't seen this, you should watch. I think it's on the Comedy Channel.)

Monday, July 24, 2006

The horse park

Finally, I managed to go back to sleep after waking up at 3:00am. I slept all the way to 6:30am. At 9 the protestant women's group met up at the church, and MaryBeth boldly led 9 other vehicles through the Japanese countryside to the horse park. I thought she was going to have a stroke. Having taken so many journalism trips. I was totally prepared. I just sat in the passenger seat and counted cars at each turn, stop light etc.

MaryBeth and I got to talking at one point and made a small misstep, but we u-turned and got back on track. To the right is a photo of Connie, Burke and Grace. The girls are 1 and 2 years older than Grace. (She's not that much shorter is she?) In the background you can see the park. This is about half way up the mountain - but not to the start of the slide yet.

The slide is really long, it went half way down the hill and instead of a solid sheet of metal it was rollers, like a conveyor belt of butts. It was fun. MaryBeth enjoyed it tremendously. I think she may have sneaked back for more rides.

There was also a horse barn quite full of horses in need of petting, and a really good playground. The kids had a great time.

The restrooms at the park were nothing but Japanese squatty potties, so I got to squat twice. Yippee.

It actually started to get a bit warm here. Can you believe it???? And the fog cleared up, so I can actually see the mountains MB kept telling me were visible from her house.

We finished our lovely picnic lunch, then we headed on our way back home.

Brock has basketball practice this afternoon, and Gracie has a dentist appointment. Then we have the t-ball end of season party.


Well, after working out this morning, MB and I began a day of errands. After lunch we took the kids to a park about 45 minutes away. (It was actually a dry run for the group of women going tomorrow.) We finally arrived ( she didn't have great copiloting). The gate was mostly closed with a sign (which we couldn't read) on a tire/pole. There was enough room for us to get in, so we did. The kids didn't have 2 minutes on the playground before a guy came running out telling us it was closed (in Japanese of course). I did tell MaryBeth how proud I am of her willingness to go out into the world and drive willy nilly in a country that gives very little driving instruction in English.

Grace had swimming lessons this afternoon, a little scary to watch. It's a miracle she hasn't drowned already. After that we came home for a fajita dinner. Yum. It included margaritas, so I'm pretty much ready for bed. Mike has a baseball game tonight against medical. Apparently last time medical played, someone was hurt and the call was put out for a doctor. They all looked at each other blank faced until someone finally came over . . . gyno.

I'm enjoying meeting all of the people MaryBeth knows. It's pretty amusing. It's like Mayberry here. Everybody knows everybody, there are no secrets. Good thing MB stays on the straight and narrow path!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Good googlymoogly

MB and I met up with her friend Jen and Jen's mother for a 7am walk. Turns out it is a 5 mile butt buster. Took about an hour and 1/2. MB failed to mention before taking off that there would be many hills involved including one fondly referred to as the "butt buster" These girls have been doing this for a while so they have a nice little pace that caused me to start wheezing about half way through. I think there is still a hitch in my getalong.

MB and Mike had not previously been to the waterpark, so we took off at about 11am with directions that turned out to be highly suspect. After a few wrong turns and the help of a very friendly convenience clerk, we arrived.

Upon entrance to the park (mostly indoors, thank heavens), it is required to leave shoes in lockers and return the key to the front desk before they'll even think about letting you in the park. Turns out they have a very good reason. All the "no skid" matts all over the place to keep people from falling are PAINFUL to walk on. They couldn't possibly keep people barefoot if there was any chance of access to the flipflops.

After paying, (thank you Mike) the cashier rips out her handy dandy instructions in English so that we know what to do. She tells us girls to the red curtain, boys to the blue. So we trot off, into the onsen. If you are unfamiliar with this term, think of it as a very large communal bath for girls. Don't think about it too much, it will give you the heeby jeeby's. We determined that perhaps this wasn't the right place. Now, MaryBeth determined it because she knew what it was an onsen. I determined it because I had a key to locker 2085 and there were no lockers in this room. Almost immediately after we emerged, the cashier lady came running up pointing to the correct door. Oops.

So, changed clothes, and into the pool. Walking from the changing room you enter the pool area, but not before running through a vishy shower. (beaucoup de shower heads on the walls spray you as you walk by getting the whole bod wet.) MaryBeth goes through fine. She gets done and the shower stops. I can't find out how to make it work at all. I must have looked fairly puzzled because a very nice man came up and pointed out that there is a sensor that turns them on as you walk by - I had taken too long, so I had to cross the sensor a second time to get the damn thing to work.

Ok, in the pool area. It actually was about 10 smaller pools with different designs. 1. had lap lanes 2. formed an oval track that you just circled around. 3. very small hot water. 4. very small cold water etc etc. There was even an outside pool that was heated, so you look out at the fields of green. That was my favorite. If you look closely at the photo, you can see heads sticking out of the pool. All in all it was very lovely. I had started getting a headache before we even left, so it was nice to just sit in the water and enjoy the scenery. Brock and Grace had a grand old time. There was even a lazy river outside, not heated that Brock convinced MaryBeth to get in. I, being no fool, held out. When we were leaving, Mike came out of the guys changing room with a bootie that had a small baby frog in it. He very politely gave it to the front desk clerk, who very politely accepted it while very obviously having no clue of what to do with it.

On our way home, we stopped at KFC for lunch. Chicken is pretty much the same, side dishes are definitely different. After lunch, I popped one of my headache pills in an effort to get the sucker to go away.

We got back to the house, and I laid down on the couch. Finally I decided a bath was in order. I took another pill, put peppermint on my temples, and soaked in the tub. It helped, but I was too far gone. I was fairly certain barfing was a distinct possibility and death was imminent. I finally laid down on the bed with an icepack on my head and prayed not to hurl. Now the irony of that for those of you not in the know, is that hurling actually makes it better, however once you pop a couple of the expensive headache pills, it is down right hateful to throw them up. MB came and checked on me (she is such a good mom), got a fan blowing directly on me, and I finally slept.

I woke up at about 11pm, but I stayed in bed until 3am before I finally got up. (I did sleep some more, but I kept waking up.) So, I came downstairs to join the crows and beatles. I've been watching the crazy male beatle try to escape from his confinement all morning. If only I could put into words how creeped out I am by the little bugger.

Fran was on IM when I turned the computer on, so I finally got to chat with her a little. No where near my usual dose of talking twice a day, but better than nothing! MB just came down, so I have to go get dressed to work out. I"m no quitter!

Guess what time it is!

Well, now it's only 4:50, but I've been up awhile . . . me, the crows and the freaking Japanese Beatles. If I keep this up, my brain may begin to wilt around the edges. I thought I might sleep later, but Grace is sleeping on the top bunk of Brock's bed. MaryBeth (crafty girl that she is) put two plastic container lids (for really big containers) between the mattress and the side of the bed to act as a barrier should Grace roll towards the edge. One of them fell off, and I was awake enough to pop up when I heard the noise and a small cry to think, Holy Cow the child has rolled off the bed and conked herself. Luckily, only the lid fell. But I was without a doubt awake, so here I am.

Right now, the MK (boy beatle) has his head shoved into his little bowl of jello with his legs kicking in the air. Very strange.

The Fast and the Furious was pretty good. There is a line in the movie about the center of fashion being Tokyo. (Could have fallen out of my chair laughing!) They only were cute cause American designers chose the clothes for the movie. It was fun to watch since I have so recently been in Tokyo. Someone I met yesterday (I was introduced, but I'm confident there isn't a quiz later.) was telling us that apparently some military boys went out on one of those Japanese roads to attempt a little "drifting" one drifted into a tree and the other drifted into something else - neither was really hurt, but their cars are toast. Boys. Geez

I think Mike wants to take everyone to the water park?! today. I can't begin to imagine what that experience is going to be like. I'll be sure to take notes.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The first exciting day in Misawa

After working out, I had to borrow clothes from MaryBeth because I most definitely did not bring anything warm enough for this place. Grace runs around like a hooligan in shorts the crazy thing, and I'm wearing a jacket inside!

We went to the grocery store. Let us pause a moment to thank our men and women of the armed forces stationed overseas unable to get normal groceries cause they don't have them or have run out.

After the grocery store, we went to Takumi Ramen for lunch. Ramen is different than the frozen variety at home and very, very yummy. It was a really big bowl, and as much as I wanted to eat myself silly, I couldn't get through it all. After that we went to the local grocery store - pictures to come soon and the local Kmart. (Not really called Kmart.) We returned to the base for a little time at the Weasel's Den. A huge airplane hanger with putt-putt golf, go-carts, bouncing places etc. The children were able to run amok. Back at the house, we return to hanging out!

You're not going to believe this, but Mike and I are going to see Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift (seems appropriate, don't you think?), and MB and kids are staying home cause she has no desire to see it, and Brock is too young to get to go with his Dad. I've wanted to see it, so it works great for me.

It's raining, it's pouring . . .

It's been drizzly since I arrived, only really raining as we worked our way from the subway to the hotel with luggage and then yesterday as we worked our way from the hotel to the subway with luggage. hmmm.

When I woke this morning at 4, I could hear the rain coming down, and it has continued since. I'd like to mention that I stayed up until 10pm last night, so consistently I have woken after 6 hours of sleep each night. That is why, this morning I just got up and came downstairs. From what MaryBeth said, if the weather wasn't so gross I'd be able to tell that the sun comes up at about 3:00 am or so. There are also obnoxious crow creatures that make squawking noises that are also making it difficult to stay asleep.

I got downstairs and the nasty Japanese Beatles were having SEX. Disgusting. She was underneath trying desperately to get away as they made clack clack noises on the wall of their container. Can't tell me that's not sex. Yuck. I mentioned to Mike and MaryBeth that if they didn't want to have to talk about sex, they might not want to have boy and girl beatles coming into the house. I'd also like to add when Brock got up he asked why is MJ (boy) on top of Midnight (girl). See what I'm saying.

Once up I came downstairs, grabbed a book, had some Frosted Flakes and waited for the rest of the world to wake. MB came down a little before 7, and we had coffee/tea together. Mike has just gone off to work out, then MB and I will go. It is funny because last night I was telling them that I probably wasn't going to want to work out in the morning. I don't usually have good work outs early in the day. Mike laughed and said if I keep waking up in the middle of the night, it wouldn't actually be that early. As it turns out, he was right. 4 hours later, I'm thinking, yes, I think I am ready to work out.

Oh, and for those of you interested, it is very very weird to never hear my phone ring. I'm also disappointed that unlike Europe, I can't just call someone and say, hey I'm calling from a Buddist temple, what do you think of that. Not that I would call anyone from a Buddist temple. That would be wrong.

I have no idea of what the plan for the day is, but if I know MaryBeth we'll have a pretty good schedule laid out before long.

Land at Last

I'm not sure when this will actually make it onto the blog because I haven't been able to get an internet connection yet, but I figured I'd better start writing or I won't remember anything.

The flight was supposed to take off at 10:15am. I think it took off after 12:30. There was a thingamabob that wasn't working properly. Not knowing exactly what it was, I was pleased that the flight crew wanted everything working properly before we took off.

Once we were in the air everything was fine. Torturously long, but fine. I only slept for about 2 hours, after that it was catnap city. Business class was quite lovely. Unfortunetly I had to look like an idiot because I couldn't figure out anything. How to get the stupid lunch tray out, how to work the 5 count them 5 different controls for the chair. Luckily, across the aisle sat a very nice man, Brock, who was an engineer type, (Fran, I thought of you) working for TI who has made enough trips to be able to explain what needed explainin.

The plane landed in Toyko about 2 hours late. Lucky for me MaryBeth was still waiting when I finally emerged. Immediately made a b-line for the potty. So began my adventures in Japan of searching for the "western" potty. Please see the usual potty. I've managed so far to avoid the Japanese potty. I'm sure I'll be using one before all is said and done.

Took a while to get to the hotel. We had to take a train for 71 minutes, change to a subway for another 30 minute ride, and then walk freaking forever to get to the hotel. I was ready to fall over by the time we got there. It is a cool hotel though. It is for military personnel and family only. We grabbed dinner in the hotel, and I was asleep by 9pm.

I popped awake, and I do mean popped at about 3am. Luckily, we had already planned to workout in the morning, so I didn't have to be awake in the dark for more than 2 hours . . . I may have taken poor MB by surprise. It's not often she comes across someone quite so cheerful at 5am. Heck, I had a two hour head start on greeting the day. After working out, we had breakfast in the hotel, then we went on an all day tour of Toyko.

The tour was a great way to see Toyko in a day. Our first or second stop was Tokyo Tower. Because there was rain and bad weather, the tour guide had to hold up a photo of Mount Fuji to show us where it would be and the approximate size. It was almost exactly like the real thing.

For lunch, we ate a Japanese tempora lunch. Scratch that. Ate the rice from the Japanese tempora lunch. We also saw how pearls are made. It's hard to tell, but this is a photo of the lunch. I got a photo of the couple that ate with us, but it was decidely not good, so I'll just tell you about them. They live in Washington DC, and stopped in Tokyo on their way to visit family in China.

MaryBeth had the lucky number and got the pearl that was in the demonstration oyster. I didn't get close enough, but the photo below is of the oyster, and the pearl in a baggie that she won.

The Buddist temple had prayer candles. I figured what the heck, bought one to light for Pam, might as well get the Buddists praying for her too.

The photo of MB and I was taken at the other shrine we went to.

Interstingly enough, other than Toyko Disney, I think we saw everything worth seeing in Tokyo. It has a lot of tall buildings, and shopping I can't afford, so we were done!

In the afternoon we went on a river cruise that turned out to be the homeless people tour. I don't think it started out that way, but as we cruised along, it was a long line of these tarp tents that the homeless people build along the river. Mary Beth has a weak stomach and had to take a pill to not get motion sickness. The pill worked, and there was no barfing what so ever.

By the end of the day, I was once again totally zonked. At the end of the tour, we went to Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. Back at the hotel by 7pm, and, quite frankly, I am ready to pass out.

Up at 3am again. Did go back to sleep eventually. Good thing, 3 weeks of no sleep, things could get ugly here.

Please see the post regarding fashion in Tokyo to appreciate how dang surprised I was by a nation of skinny people dressing shockingly badly.

I'm now in Misawa

Friday afternoon. I emailed a post to myself, but I bet this one shows up before it does. MaryBeth and I arrived a little while ago. We took the bullet train so it was a fast trip. We are all going to dinner at Magnum (the officer's club) on base in a little while.

For some strange reason, Mike got the kids two beatles this afternoon. (Apparently children's desperation for a pet can lead to their thinking that beatles count. These things are huge by the way. Please see photo.
Brock and Grace let me get a photo of them in front of their bedrooms. Japanese shops have these curtains that the kids have now hung in their bedroom doorways. Grace has graciously given up her room for my stay. She will be on the top bunk in Brock's room.

I also took a photo of a cool chest that MB has purchased in Japan. She has actually bought a bunch of stuff. Cool Japanese drum, a temple latern looking thing, wooden ladder, large wood fish. It looks great.

If I could teach the Toykoians to dress . . .

It is an entire town running around waiting for the folks from What not to Wear to come and save them from their fashion faux pas. I'll keep adding to this one as I remember some of the more heinous errors.

1. The man working in the navy exchange in black leather pants should save those for evening wear.

2. Young girls should remember that ugly old lady sandles should only be worn by old women.

3. High heels should match the outfit with which they are paired. Seriously, I've never seen so many pairs of heels just thrown on with an outfit that doesn't go with the shoes.

4. Stick with jobs that have uniforms. The young lady below looks adorable. The uniform is her friend.

5. Smart girls take their heels off as they walk through the streets, only putting the heels on after arriving at the final destination.

When we went to the mall in Shimoto, I was fairly impressed. Girls dressed ok, they matched, it was good. Then we attended the festival. . . . So, as you can see, even in Japan there are problems with the "muffin top" little extra fat hanging out there sister. She also had a million tiny braids. You can not begin to imagine what it looks like to see all of these girls running around in high heels when most of them are very, very, very pidgeon toed. I'm not even certain of how they manage to walk. Some of them are practically tripping over their own feet. Not the greatest DNA chain in that respect. And remember that we are at a street festival, apparently they are all about that beauty knows no pain. They just appear to be color blind. Note the girl with the bright yellow top is wearing pink heels. The boys all dress like thugs, and my personal favorite purple top girl with long stockings. eek. I will say they have great school uniforms. If they would stick with those, they'd be ok.

Monday, July 17, 2006

My last night . . .

I had dinner with Mom and Dad. Dad cooked chicken on the grill. Super yum. Now we are watching The Closer. I have never seen this show before. She has a really bad Southern accent. Really bad. It hurts my ears.

I'm drinking Bloody Mary's and trying to figure out what I am forgetting. I ran around today getting errands done. I met up with Burgundy. She massaged the knots out of my back, so I can get all new ones on the plane. Then we went to Dicky's barbeque, and then we went shopping for antiques. (She bought 'em, not me.)

I finally got the yearbooks mailed that I critiqued. The box was practically falling apart, so I taped it together, said a little prayer and sent it on its way.
I picked up Eva from being groomed. She is absolutely adorable with a peach kerchief around her neck, smelling fresh and clean. I even got the car washed. I don't know how I'm going to sleep tonight, but considering when I get on the plane at 10am it will be 12am in Japan, that may be a good thing.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Do you remember the Clary house?

You know the one. We made an offer, but the real estate agent didn't respond AT ALL. So, I'm was looking at the house section of the paper last night, and I see that the Clary house is going to be open from 1-3 today.

I call BK, my fabulous and awesome real estate agent, and I tell her I want to go by and spit on the agent. OK, so I'm not allowed to do that, but since the house is down the street from hers after I say Hi to Mom and Dad I'll head her way to go see it. So, I was blase about Eva and I coming to stay with them early, and possibly didn't give them all the details of the day. Of course, if I weren't such a dumbass I would write the details of my flipping out over things on the internet. More discussion of that later.

Arrived at BK's a little after 1pm. We walk down, actually up, and I mean up to the Clary house. We were both out of breath by the time we got to the top of that hill. The stupid house wasn't even open. We looked in the windows. The seller had obviously paid for the house to be "staged" (I hope not a lot, cause it didn't look that great.)

We went back to her house, shot the shit, drank lemonade, ate cherries, talked about the stupidity of men (Ok, that might have been more specific, but whatever). She also showed me what all has been done on her house. She says it will be done by the time I get back from Japan, so I'm excited about that.

We went across the street to say hi to Pam and Jim. Monday is Pam's last day of chemo and Thursday is her last day of radiation. (It might be the other way around, but I think I got it right.) At any rate, she is so excited she is practically giddy. She's doing awesome.

In the meantime, BK and I decided to go see a movie - You, Me and Dupree. It was very, very funny. Enjoyed it tremendously.

Sidenote: turned my phone on silent, it rang. Checked it. Made sure it was on silent. Rang again. So, I turned the damn thing off. Then when we got out of the movie I tried to turn the stupid thing on - wouldn't turn on at all. Piece of Junk.

After the movie, we made a run by Barnes and Noble. Grabbed my car at BK's and headed up to Mamma Cone's cause she had something for me to take to Grace. By the time I got to 2137 Deerfield (aka Mom and Dad's) it was 8pm.

Turns out MaryBeth outed me, cause she read the blog and got worried. Since the phone wasn't on, I didn't know she was serious about reaching me. So she called 2137. Mom, in the meantime, no fool, figured MaryBeth calling to check on me by calling them meant something might be up. It's good to be loved. No worries. I have called MB and reassured her that all is well. OK, not fabulous. But I'm good. At any rate if you are reading this after Sunday, you are probably a little confused right now. You're just going to have to stay that way cause I deleted the post that might explain. Needless to say, I got mad at JD had a hissy, went over to mom and dad's. blah, blah, blah

So, I'm sitting in the guest bedroom. Listening to Hoosiers in the family room because my parents (specifically, my father) are STONE DEAF and the sound system is up full blast. This is why I could not possibly live with my parents, and why I am so damn glad that I got an apartment! Could this explain why Eva has gone deaf? Too much time at the grandparents?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Last Saturday before Japan

As I sit here Saturday evening, enjoying the feeling of being clean . . . my hygiene habits sometimes slack off in the summer . . . studying my freshly manicured and pedicured digits while watching a little HGTV, it's hard to imagine that in 3 days I'll be in Japan.

Had a little waxing done this morning, then I went shopping for a travel outfit with Mimi. It took her a little while to catch on to the "outfit must match luggage" theme. Apparently she thought that was a flexible plan. But, no. I also got a couple of pairs of flip flops. Very cute and on sale, thank you very much.

I went down to Deborah's because I've been working on the photos for her mother's funeral slideshow, and I needed to get them to her before I leave. First, I want to say that Mrs. Long is hanging in there and currently accepting all prayers and positive thoughts. However, the cancer came so suddenly and so hard that the family is trying to take care of business so that they can enjoy each other if you know what I mean. Second, I know that a slide show at a funeral sounds weird, (although for some it may not if you've been to a funeral with a slideshow before). As I've been cleaning up photos and getting them in order, I've thought about what photos I would want, I think it is a nice way to remember someone's life.

While I was there, Lance her fabulous, handsome, lawyer husband talked to me about my lien issues. Basically, I'm screwed. Other than waiting out the sorry S.O.B., there isn't a version of the story that won't cost me money. I am not happy about this. Lance, I love you man, but your news sucked. Oh well, guess I'll go to Japan and think about it in 3 weeks.

Friday, July 14, 2006

A moment to reflect . . .

on the irony that maybe four people read this thing and all four of you talk to me regularly. Sigh.

Jon-David and I went to the McKinney court house to research Mechanic's Liens and how they work. Now I know just enough to be truly dangerous. I also have a humdinger of a headache. The yearbooks I've mentioned previously as needing to be critiqued and returned to NSPA headquarters STILL aren't done. Atleast I am down to the last one.

I finally got to talk to MaryBeth yesterday! We are going to finalize plans this weekend . . . woowee. Tuesday morning 10am.

I found an apartment yesterday right by school. It's actually the complex where Deborah lived before she got married. Walking distance from school and small enough to not need a bunch of furniture. I get to move in August 10th.

I don't actually have anything interesting to say, I just didn't want to be accused of failing to record my sad little miserable life.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The money comes and then it goes . . .

Finally, I closed at 3pm today! I no longer own a home. Weird. The money already has been wired to my account. It sat quietly for a mere moment, and then prepared to bid me adieu as I set it up to pay multiple credit cards off. heavy sigh goes here. Oh well, homeless and debt free. I suppose it could be worse.

I'd also like to add that Mom calls up and asks me to call her as soon as I get out of closing which I do. In fact, she is the only person I call. I get her voice mail . . . and she still hasn't called me back. humph.

I went to visit my friend Pam Colley for lunch. She is in the very odd predicament of needing to put more meet on her bones. I pointed out that eating Chicken Caesar salads without the dressing might be part of the problem. Not exactly stick to your bones kind of food, if you know what I mean.

Jon-David took Eva to the vet to get shots so that she could be groomed Monday. (I figure she'll be clean, pretty and with a big bow around her neck when I give her to Mom and Dad for babysitting duties!)

Tuesday night Jon-David and I met Ann and Mike at Celebration! for dinner. (I love the fact the restaurant demands excitement.) They move into an apartment Saturday to live for an indeterminate amount of time until they have a house built.

I have managed to miss MaryBeth's calls all week. Since she is teaching vacation Bible school, it is making it tricky. I can't stay awake late enough to be able to call and get her. However, now that my house is officially sold, I am going to start packing my bags in the morning! 6 more nights until I leave! In case you aren't certain, I am very excited.

I spoke to Kent (the new newspaper adviser) tonight. See, I can't call him by his name. He needs a nickname. I'll work on that. At any rate, he's been at newspaper workshop. Apparently one of the kids is already giving him a hard time. I'd like to wring the little twirp's neck. He goes back to Arkansas tomorrow and returns to Dallas the end of the month. He's decided to rent an apartment in Frisco. The boy has no idea of what he's in for regarding that commute. Yuck.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Over the weekend

Not too much. Went to Defensive Driving all day Saturday. There are some incredibly stupid people on the road. Not just unsafe. Hell, anyone who has been in a car with me might point a finger my way (I'm not unsafe, I just have a hard time staying focused). I mean seriously stupid people.

Looked at a couple of houses with Jon-David. I have to say he is a bit of a bummer. Mr. Reality. Oh, look this house has foundation problems, that house's roof is falling in. blah blah blah. (Kidding, he actually does look with a critical eye which some might consider to be a good thing).

Went to a friend's birthday party. Open Bar! It was my friend Sandi Cox (you might remember I went to Vegas with her a few years ago.) That was lots of fun, well, maybe too much fun.

Sunday I did last minute touch up work on the house. Fell asleep at about 6:30 and didnt' wake up until this morning at about 7am.

I went up to school today and met Kent (by accident, I didn't know he was going to be there) and his wife, and daughter. Very nice. I think he will do great. May not even need to give him a nickname. wink wink. : )

And then the rain comes . . .

Not real rain. Figurative. Remember the idiot guy RICHARD GOMEZ with AFTERHOURS GLASS - Run if you ever see him. I got a phone call from the title company today telling me that oh, yes, it does matter that he has filed a lien against my house, and he MUST sign a release of lien to get it removed. I call him to request said release since he has no shot in hell of ever getting money out of me (he'd better not!) and he tells me he wants to go to court. What?????? His lawyer told him to do it and that he could win in court. spectacular. So, now I have to get a lawyer. The house can still close, but his little $1300 suit will hold $2000 of my money in escrow for TWO years. I WANT BLOOD.

So, I don't know what is going to happen with him, but I'm fairly certain any lawyer I hire is going to cost more than the stupid lien. GRRRRRRR

Friday, July 7, 2006

. . . And God smiles down on me . . . I think

I got up bright and early to help my friend Ann make a gazillion dollars at her garage sale. I got to her house before 7am and these four guys that were already skulking about in the alley waiting for the 8am opening of the sale tried to edge their way in behind me! By 10am most of the stuff was gone! In the meantime I began trading phone calls with Ms Nelson.

She was supposed to hear back from the mortgage company regarding the appraisal by noon. At 1pm I called and left a message saying I understood the mortgage company was the hold up, but I needed to get the house on the market, so I would appreciate it if she could get the form completed to terminate the contract.

She called me back a little bit later, said she understood and that she had a call in to the mortgage company and her buyer. She said that she had explained to the buyer that I had conveyed my inability to sell my home for $188,000.

She called late this afternoon to tell me the appraisal came back the same. (Go figure.) She had spoken with her buyer, and he had a call into the mortgage company to make sure they would loan the full amount because he did still want the house and she would send an amendment regarding the new closing date. I said I had to close by Wednesday.

Well . . . sure enough . . . the amendment arrived via email and the only change is the date of closing not the price of the house. . . holy cow, batman!!! Another reminder to leave things in God's hands.

To return me to Earth, I have defensive driving in the morning from 9-3pm yuck. Perhaps I can practice my deep breathing. "OM" is supposed to be very therapeutic. Might even help to get rid of the eye tick.

Now, if I can remember to put a few more areas of my life in His hands, that would be a really good thing.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

I'm getting an eye tick

I'm not kidding. I am cranky as hell and totally stressed out.

I've been exchanging calls with Ms. Nelson all day. The mortgage company is run by incompetents near as I can tell. She swears that she is trying to get them to at least tell us what the final appraisal is. They can't seem to figure out where it is. I spoke to the appraiser and got her to atleast tell me that she did respond to the mortgage company re: comps. By the way, the company of incompetents is Citimortgage. Run away from them.

In the meantime did I mention that Kent, soon to be newspaper adviser at HP, seems to be a wee bit worried about housing. Admittedly he has a desire to live in HP for a small amount of money adding a bit of difficulty to the search. So, I was unable to stop myself from saying sure I'll help you find an apartment. I just have to keep the boy from bailing on the job.

I ran errands all day yesterday. Looked at a couple of houses just to torture myself. Saw my friend Burgundy who happens to also do massage therapy. By yesterday afternoon many parts of my body were stiff and in pain, she was the girl for the job! Next time you find yourself in need give me a hollar. I'll give you her info. Then I headed over to pick up Mom and Dad from the airport at 6: something. Plane didn't arrive until after 9pm. Apparently some woman got herself booted off the plane, so they had to leave their spot in take-off line, return to the gate, wait for one to open and then dump said person off.

Sadly the stress reduction effects of the massage were decreasing expotentionally as I sat there contemplating the chaos that is my life.

Started critiquing yearbooks today. I enjoy getting to see what other schools are doing, but it is a total whipping. Takes forever and I'm about to run out of time for doing it. While I did that, Jon-David went over to my house and mowed. Thank you, thank you. In the meantime Dad had a hissy about the fact I had his dolly and his extension cord. The man is crazed about his dolly. Did I mention he found it on the side of the road somewhere? He didn't even buy it. But man does he fear losing it. The extension cord apparently has strange meaning for him too.

I missed a call from MaryBeth this afternoon, and now I am really ready to chew nails. Talked to Fran . . . I think she could chew nails too. Beware of the MDH . . . Moise, Dugas, Hereford. . . I think I've mentioned the line of women in my family before. . . Not to be messed with. . . especially when cranky.

P.S. This was submitted via email. Learned something new today. How bout that. Worked, but appears with the spacing all messed up. Grrrr.

Good news, MB called back : ) She just might be able to eat nails too.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006


My keister is bruised, I have a rasberry down the side of my right calf and there are several blisters on my feet!

First I didn't sleep last night. I mean I was awake all freaking night. Mostly thinking about the stupid house situation. Spent a little time analyzing what a bone head I am to buy new roller skates and plan to skate in the parade after not having skates for a couple of years. (Couple is being used loosely here . . . might be closer to half a dozen . . . or so. So I fretted about how to handle the sale of the current casa and options on buying a new one. Sadly, it's not as if I arrived in the morning ready to start my day with burning eyes and solutions to my problems. I just got the burning eyes.

At any rate, got up this morning, put on the 4th of July requisite colors of R, W and B, then headed over to Randy and Diana's. Randy loves being in the parade, so every year he signs up and whoever wishes to join the group rides, walks, roller skates whatever in the parade with him and Diana. I put on my spankin new roller skates, and the new protective wear for the wrists and knees. I'd like to add this protective wear even had a space for a cell phone . . . to enable one to call for medical attention when necessary I'm quite certain. Randy had already headed over to begin the fellowship part of the morning, and Diana and I followed. (She was on her bike.)

I managed to fall TWICE before even getting to the senior high where the parade route began. The first time I landed on my right leg causing the previously mentioned rasberry that hurts like the very devil. The second time I was skating off the sidewalk to the street on one of those corner ramps and my skates went out from under me. I landed on my butt so hard I felt it up my spine. My teeth rattled. I cursed.

Made it to the senior high without killing myself, barely. I said hi to Pam's brother-in-law, Patrick. He was the man in charge of the parade (policewise that is). Not as excited about it as others I might add. When I saw him Sunday, he was telling me about the candy that people throw that gets left behind. I think some kid, after the parade, darted out and got hit by a car trying to grab candy in the street. It's not my place to ask where the kid's mother was, but I ask you where was the kids mother? father? uncle? anybody? At any rate, I felt a compulsion through the whole parade to keep picking up candy I found left in the road. I can hardly remain vertical, and I'm picking up candy. geeezz.

The parade began at 9:30am and we hit the end of the route at about 11am. Thank heavens Randy's daughter Cindy was waiting for us with her ac'd minivan. (Her son had ridden his scooter in the parade, and Rusty, Randy's son rode his bike which got a flat tire right before the final turn!)

Jon-David had called earlier to ask me to borrow one of Dad's extention cords, since I packed all of them up, so he could do the lawn. Isn't that sweet? I was happy to oblige. I took said extention cord to him, (Thanks Dad.) and promptly left so that I could take a shower!

I am now clean. I knew that I had to write in the blog before putting my wee head down for a nap. Please take a moment to feel sorry for me and my wounds, and then have a happy fourth of July or whatever day you are having by the time you get around to reading this. I'm going to sleep.

Monday, July 3, 2006

The girl without a home

As I sit here catching you up on my world, Jon-David and I are watching The American President with Michael Douglas and Annette Benning. It is a great movie. The internet connection I've been stealing has been sketchy all day, so I'm hoping nothing goes wrong. I'll be very annoyed if I type the whole thing, and then it deletes. That would be typical.

Last night I went over to Pam's parents house. Had a great time. Her nephew, Tommy, was baptised Saturday, so his paternal grandparents and aunts and uncles were in town. As always, it was a great time at the Landry homestead. (Mr. Landry always lets me dip into his Crown Royal when I visit.) I planned on leaving at a timely hour 8 or so, but hung out until 10 or so. I could hang out with them all night.

Funny note: Tommy's father, Patrick works for the Plano Police Dept. (Some of you might remember, years ago he let me ride with him one night on patrol. very cool.) At any rate, I was kvetching about the fabulous officer Yanelli, he who gives me speeding tickets as if he had GPS on my ass, and Patrick tells me he is now Yanelli's boss. When asked to get the fine Officer Y to stop giving me tickets, Patrick, that hard ass, told me to stop speeding. Thpppllllttttt. (sound to accompany the tongue sticking out)

Pam had to leave this morning, so I'm bummed that I didn't get to see her for longer, but maybe I can get my act together at some point and get out to Flo-ri-da to visit again.

I got up this morning and set about getting my many errands done. I managed to buy a sunshade for the car, get the car inspected, took care of paying the Plano Police Dept for the opportunity to take defensive driving, dealt with Cingular, got myself a new pair of roller skates and, last, but not least, I got a manicure and pedicure. About time. The nails were a mess.

As a side note, I tried to return some mattress covers that I didn't use to STORAGEUSA. DO NOT USE THIS COMPANY. They told me that even though I had a receipt for something I had never used, they didn't take returns!!!!!!!!!!! (Please insert many dirty words here.)

Tomorrow I shall get up at the crack of dawn (7 or so) and put on my 4th of July outfit and rollerskate in the parade with Randy, balloon pilot extraordinaire, et al. It will be great exercise or early death. Could go either way.

I have 4 yearbooks I got about 2 weeks ago to critique, (been a little busy you know) so I also plan to critique a book a day and return them by the end of the week. Be sure to check in as the week goes by to see how I'm doin'!

I have no news on the house front. Drat these holiday weekends. I will be sure to update you as soon as I have some info.

Sunday, July 2, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada

After church this morning, Ann lured me away from . . . well, nothing . . . to go see The Devil Wears Prada. It was great. Although similiarly to Sex in the City, it made me want to eat less and buy more heels. Back at Mimi's I thought I'd update the blog before going over to the Landry's house. (Pam MacInnes is in town visiting her parents.)

Yesterday, Mimi worked like a dog helping me get the house cleaned. I steam cleaned the carpets, and I think it looks darn good. Jon-David and I went to DSW in the afternoon so he could get some new flip flop type shoes. Somehow 2 pairs of very cute flip flops found their way into my basket:)

My goal for today is to make sure that I have a list of EVERYTHING I need to get done this week. It is growing into a fairly impressive list. On the list is to contact Ms Nelson, real estate agent for my quasi-buyer and ask her if her client will be fishing or cutting bait. This is becoming tiresome to me. More to come soon.