Tuesday, August 29, 2006

May the hairs on your toes never fall off

Those of you who have read The Hobbit will know that reference. Those of you who haven't read The Hobbit should. Mind you I still haven't reread the dang thing, and I'm in the second week of school.

Life has not been exciting. I do want to know how I spend 12 hours a day at school and still can't get ahead. How????

Last weekend and this weekend I am participating in a workshop "Journey" as they prefer to call it known as Barnabas. The apostle of second chances. Jon-David prefers to call it "the cult." Mainly because participants aren't supposed to discuss it until it's over. Also because I have a very hard time explaining it so far. I went because I yearn for a little zen. (Since it is backed by a church and there is lots of prayer, I haven't used that particular term on them. But that is what I am after.) They tell me that is what I will get, so I am withholding judgment until the end.

We do have to sit in chairs for very long periods of time, uncomfortable to say the least. They (by they I do mean the leaders of this thing) love to tell us "open position" - aka we aren't allowed to cross our legs or fold our arms no matter how cold the room is, and it is cold. "No side talking" I'm going to start using that one on my students.

We are supposed to be totally focused, so all the participants must stay at the hotel. I shared a room with 3 other women. Barbara, my bedmate, is 73 and very cool. Saturday night (in the middle of the night), she said to me, "Elizabeth, what are you doing?" I answered, "Petting my dog" rolled over and went back to sleep. I had been petting her arm. Just a little embarrassing, so I thought I'd share that with the world.

School is very busy. A student just arrived to get help, so I have to go.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Same day ten hours later

Yup. Still bleary eyed. My desk is covered with pieces of paper I am supposed to be taking care of. Slowly but surely . . . I missed lunch again because I never get a chance to leave my stupid room. The powerpoints I final was able to show yesterday couldn't be shown today because the computer kept telling me the keyboard and mouse were not plugged in, which was false I might add.

My little freshmen class is going to send me over the edge. I have one poor guy who doesn't read particularly well, so he has begun staying after school for me to walk him through his assignments. Did I mention they were supposed to have read The Hobbit over the summer? He hasn't started yet. sigh.

I am only going to survive teaching that class because Lisa (team leader) is awesome. She is saving my keister.

Scoobie Doo likes to argue. He comes to my room and asks what the schedule is for the pep rally tomorrow. I say, "There is no pep rally tomorrow." "A bunch of my kids said there was." " I don't care if they all said it. They are still wrong." "A bunch of my kids said there was." "There isn't a game tomorrow." "Yes there is, a scrimmage." "That doesn't count as a game." "A bunch of my kids said there was a pep rally tomorrow." "I have one of the cheerleading captains in my class and she said there wasn't one." "I have football players in my class, and they said there was." (Personally my guess is they are freshmen with no clue.) "OK, but there is no pep rally tomorrow." "A bunch of my kids said there was." I called the Principal, for crying out loud, before I could get him to go away.

Did I mention that we put teacher IDs in their boxes and almost everyone I've seen has kvetched about their picture? Is it MY fault they aren't pretty? My is hideous because it was the day I got the migraine. No make-up, head killing me, I went over and had my picture taken. Yes, I will be getting make-up photos.

I am going over to my friend Burgundy's house at 6:30 so we can go walking. That's right, getting a little exercise. I have a headache at the moment, but I am hoping if I grab something to eat it will get rid of the headache.

I look back on my last couple of entries, and it is sad. Not the fun and games of Japan I can tell you that!

I'm bleary eyed

Well, yesterday turned out to be another whipping and a half. Tuesday we never got the projection system to work, so yesterday I began the powerpoint on photography with all of my classes. So I had to teach all day. Always exhausting. My English students a bit wired by 8th period had to be brought under control albeit with only partial success. They are thoroughly entranced by the disco ball. If only it had hypnotic abilities.

I did leave school by 5:30 to meet my friend Tracey for dinner at La Mad. She said she had to leave by 6, but we ended up talking until 7!

Got to school by 6am again. Have I mentioned I'm really not a morning person? Have I mentioned I'm not actually getting ahead, just a hamster on a wheel? Well, as the school year begins the mantra in my head begins "24 24 hours a day, I wanna be sedated" Nothing like punk rock to cheer a girl up.

Scoobie Doo is doing ok. We were studying a computer in his room trying to figure out where an extra male plug went. He commented, " All I see are male connectors on the computer . . . I guess this makes it a Brokeback computer." Damn the boy is funny. (FYI: The connector plugged into a box that connects to the projection system.)

Well, if I could remember any more tales that amused me I would tell them. I'll try to make notes as the day goes by.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Alright, alright, I'm back

Geez people, I'm getting my butt kicked here. Let's see, I ended last week knowing I wasn't ready for school to start. Therefore, I found myself working on Saturday. Bummer. Still wasn't ready, but then, who is really surprised by that?

I got to school Monday morning at 7am and left a little before 9pm. Beyond the fact that it was the first day, and I was expected to fill the classtime with blather about classroom rules and what the class would be like (mind you for 4 of my classes 3/4 of the people in the room were in yearbook last year, so they know the ropes). 8th period I met what I can only refer to as a lot of squirley freshmen. Literally. The freshgirls were cute and well behaved . . . hmmmm. Oh yeah, beyond that all the students that couldn't make it back to town to get their student ID's made have to come to me to get an ID before they may get their books. The last two days have been madness. It's been so bad that my 3 hour break in the middle of the day is non existent because all these pesky buggers are coming during their lunches to get ID's grrrrrr. Oh and on a horrifying side note, the stitches on my skirt by the zipper were apparently under so much pressure they came undone. Thank God I had on a long shirt and black skivvies. So, yes, a diet is mandatory.

Nothing like walking into a house and falling straight into bed. I was so tired . . . however, I took some Benadryl right before going to bed. I'm not positive that was the problem. It could have been that I just had too much going through my head about what I needed to not forget. I did not sleep. I'm not kidding. There is a clock that shows on the ceiling, and every hour I would look up and see the time.

Yesterday I got to school at 6am and left by I think 6:00pm. Better, but my head was fuzzy all day from lack of sleep. I did sleep though.

Today, I was running late and didn't get here until after 6:30. On a side note, I was talking to Ann this morning (it's good to know others that wake at the crack of dawn); she told me she went on a walk with her dog Sadie they saw the butterfly in the photo on the blog (the one in the bushes not on top of the house) in the middle of a yard. She felt it looked a bit menacing, butterflies belong in bushes! Let's ponder this for a moment. . . Those suckers are mass produced and more strangly perhaps, mass purchased.

Day 3 of eating properly if it kills me, it does help that I'm so busy I don't have time to think about being hungry. Of course I still have a ton to do. So, I have to run my friends.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

half way through

I began my day at the eye dr. again. I now have 3 types of drops I have to use 4 times a day. On the way to school, I went up Lakeside dr. I passed a house with geese. This is what is fun about the blog. I see weird shit. I can stop my car (just like an asian, anywhere I want to, only without the security of the right to do so. My way can cause cars to honk fiercely at me, but what the hell.)

I went by 7-eleven to get the requisite slurpee, but those sorry commie bastards didn't have a functioning coke slurpee machine.

The morning meetings were shuffling from one meeting to another in groups. Totally boring, almost painful. I got so desperate I text messaged one of my editor-in=chiefs that I had an emergency need for slurpee. God bless that child she brought it to me. . . with a muffin!!

I woke up with a headache (I think because of my eye), by the 11:00 session on depression and the drugs kids take for it (anyone sensing a theme for the week? More pharmaceuticals) I thought I was going to die. I barely made it out of there in time to lay down and sleep for a while. The headache is now gone.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Two days in . . .

First, I must apologize for any and all dilinquencies in my posts. Now that I am back in the USA I am having to pirate my internet access. Not always as successfully as I'd like.

I had an eye dr appt Monday morning, this morning and ANOTHER one tomorrow morning. I had bacteria under my "flap" from the eye surgery. So Monday it was cleaned up, today it was checked and, hopefully, tomorrow the contact protecting the eye while it reseals itself will be taken out. It doesn't sound particularly pleasant but mostly, it is only mildly annoying.

Convocation was the usual we love kids, we love our jobs, yippee freakin skippy. I was late because of the doctors appt, but I found a seat next to Lisa and Jeff (they both taught English I Pre-AP with me last year.)

After lunch, we got to enjoy an hour long presentation on various types of pharmaceuticals legal and illegal. Do we know how to have a good time or what?

The last hour and a half of the day we had to spend going through 3 sessions. After the first two, I had to make Kent stick with me. No question asking good boy. Trust me on this. Low profile. Unless, of course, you are wildly amusing, and then comic asides are permitted.

The good news is that in one of the sessions someone mentioned I'm acutally getting paid to be his mentor. whoopee. Mama's buying a new pair of shoes.

Today was curriculum day. I have to confess I was determined to get a slurpee before school. On my way to school, I passed a house with a huge butterfly over the front door. There is a metal ne by the window on the left too.

Since the English department chair resigned, the dept is left without a department chair. Some might ask, why not choose a new dept chair. Sadly, the English department has had some troubles in the past. So, we are choosing to think of this as an opportunity for the English department to really come together as a team and raise the level of collegiality both within the department and with others. . . or is it congeniality? Probably both. What the heck.

I spent the afternoon working with Heather and Scoobydoo on Journalism stuff. (That's right, the boy has a nickname.) There is potential for some interesting stories. Bless his heart, he's gonna have to stay on his toes to stay ahead of these kids.

Another day, another beating. Stay tuned for the next update.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I even went to work on Saturday!

I was determined to get my office clean if nothing else, so off I went bright and early. I turned the radio up and set about cleaning. Admittedly, part of my cleaning technique includes moving things out of my office and into the classroom, but atleast that way it's my editor's problem. hahahaha.

I finished a little before noon and headed over to my friend Ann's place. She and Mike are living in an apartment after selling their house in UP. They are having a house built just west of University Park (still close, but taxes are not so horrifying). She made chicken salad (really yummy), and we hung out. Eventually hanging out took us by SteinMart and Target before returning to her place.

I know it has to be weird to live in an apartment after a lifetime in a house. I'm trying to pysche myself up for the transition. We did make plans to utilize some of my 3 hour break in the middle of the way to get exercise.

I'm hoping to run with Roseanne at least one day a week, swim with Ann after school one or two days a week. I'm going to be fit if it kills me.

Fran had a party yesterday. She's such a silly goose. She had pre-party jitters (well, as jittery as Fran gets, she's kind of a relaxed gal.) I talked to her today and, of course, the party was a smashing success. She updated her blog with pictures of the yard. Jim installed tile in the sun room and a stone step down area to the pond. It is amazing looking. He rocks.

Jon-David and I went to see World Trade Center. It's a three tissue movie. Now I want to see United 93. Sad movies are very draining. Of course, so is thinking of going back to school tomorrow. Very draining. That's all I've got.

I'm afraid now that I am back in big D the truth once again reveals itself: my life is not quite as diva like as I might hope. I'm sure I will have much to say after tomorrow, although I might have to write some of it in code. Or in the age old southern fashion, make sure I sound charmed by the idiocy and crapola of school life. Throw in a bless his/her heart everyone once in a while and I'll be golden.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

First post back in Dallas

It's Thursday, and I'm finally getting around to blogging.

I got in Tuesday morning. I slept maybe an hour on the plane. As soon as I got on it I started getting congested. Probably within an hour I was totally unable to breath. Unable to sleep I was able to watch Mission Impossible 3 (not that great) and Over the Hedge (side splitting funny). I was walking out of the terminal watching Mom and Dad walk in. Hollaring Mom and Dad, Pete, Mona. They never looked up. Sigh. So I chased them back in the terminal. Sadly because I've done such a damn good job with the blog (practically up to the last minute) there wasn't a lot of new info for me to add.

They dropped me off at their house then headed off to get a rental car for mom because her car still wasn't back from being fixed. Jon-David came by and picked me to take me down to school to see if I could get anything done with my schedule. (How sweet is that??) It was a very good thing since at about 3pm I looked over at him and said I had to go to bed immediately. We would have to postpone our date. So, he dutifully took me home where I fell asleep about 30 seconds before my head hit the pillow.

Long and short of the wasted exercise regarding my schedule is that nothing changed. I have 3rd, 4th and 5th off in the middle of the day, and I have English I 8th period. This is the part where I might feel an urge to write about members of the high school staff. Later it gets read by those in charge, and I get fired for it. Instead let's just pause for a moment and contemplate what I might think about poor decision making (i.e. not making the choice that would make me happy) and the foolishness of those that make poor decisions. Alright we're through here.

I did wake up at about midnight Tuesday night, fell back asleep and woke with the alarm so that I could go to school Wednesday. I went over to JD's to get clothes for the week (half my stuff is still there), fell asleep again. Postponed date again.

Of course I didn't quite make it straight home. I spent time with my friend Cindy, grabbed food and then got a hair cut. (It was on the list of things I had to get done.) I should have gone straight home because I was still a wee bit zombie like, but it was fun.

This morning I went up to school to start working on hand scheduling my students into the correct classes, but the master schedule was F.U.B.A.R.ed again as usual, so I have to go up tomorrow to see if we can finish. One of the counselors, Greg, helps me do it. He rocks.

I took my friend Chuck his Sake. With any luck, I made decent choices and the Sake won't end up killing him or anything. (I've heard bad Sake can kill!)

I got a manicure pedicure (one more thing checked off the ole to do before school list), went home, cleaned myself up (aka got gussied up), and JD showed up at 6pm for our long awaited date. He looked very handsome. We went to Le Mignon at Spring Creek and Preston. Very chi-chi.

Afterwards we went to Blockbuster to check out a movie called Happy Accident. He had seen it on cable while I was gone and wanted me to see it. Kookie as all get out.

Not sure of what tomorrow will bring, but I'm hoping it will bring an end of jet lag. Not holding my breath though.

Monday, August 7, 2006

The final blog from Japan

It is sooo hot and humid. How hot you ask? So hot that I washed my hair last night and thought I could smell it molding as I slept. Yuck.

I woke up this morning (Monday) and thought, heck, I’m going to sleep in a little bit. I woke up again and heard nothing. Oh dear, I’ve slept so long everyone is downstairs. So, I get up and lo and behold it is only 5:30. I went ahead and went downstairs, and had a little breakfast before heading back upstairs in another attempt to sleep a little bit later. I got up at almost 7 after that.

By 9:30 I had bid my final farewell to the nasty ass bugs living in MaryBeth’s living room, thrown all my luggage in the back of her car, and we had arrived at the designated spot for all of the children on the base wishing to try out to be in the Misawa production of Jack and the Beanstalk.

By 11:30 armed with instructions from MaryBeth, I stood in the train station looking fetching. (That’s neither here nor there.) Brock had been left at the tryouts, but Grace accompanied MB in dropping me off at the station. He was filled with misgivings and at one point before tryouts had begun he had changed his mind and we were headed out the door early, but the boy is made of sterner stuff than that, so we returned. The 3 girls that appeared to be in charge did a good job. The kids formed a circle basically by age. They had to say their names and ages using expression. The first time acting happy, the second time mad etc. Then they had to sing row, row, row the boat (to see how well they enunciate maybe)?

At any rate, once at the train station, I took the elevator down to the tracks. This may not seem like a big deal, however my luggage is now twice as heavy since it is full of purchases. I thought I was going to die lugging it around Tokyo and then getting it to Misawa; this direction it is all elevators baby.

While waiting, I met Victoria. She was heading to the airport to pick up her kids who have been visiting their grandparents in the Philippines. So, she made sure I got on the right train (it’s all about who you know). So, I talk to her on the short ride to Hachinohe. While talking I got to stare at this photo. I wanted to share.

In Hachinohe we caught a different train. We both had reserved seats at opposite ends of the train. Sadly, I had a middle seat. Next to a young man that smelled quite badly. Well, ok, one of us smelled quite badly, and for my own sake, I’m hoping it was he. At any rate, luckily no one sat in the aisle seat so I was able to move over.

At some point, he left and then another lady arrived. Her name was Emiko. I’m not certain if she is an artist or she owns an art gallery or both. She was very nice. I’ll admit I smiled a lot and understand only half of what she said, but I admire her spunk for trying. I think she was hopeful that I spoke a little Japanese, but sadly for both of us, no such luck. I could have whipped out my speedy Japanese book, but “Hot isn’t it?” only gets you so far. And as I pointed out to MaryBeth, all that phrase does is entice people to think you actually speak Japanese because for the love of English why would you start a conversation with that phrase if that is all you have in your arsenal?

She even gave me a dessert. Let me tell you THAT made me nervous. First, it was wrapped in plastic so I didn’t actually know it was a dessert. Second, MB had warned me that Japanese desserts aren’t sweet as you might expect and third, everyone knows I’m no poker player. All I needed was to take a bite and have my gag reflex kick in. That would take community relations far. Luckily, it was quite tasty. So on the week of the dropping of the atomic bomb, I was able to keep Japanese American relations friendly. Go team.

I got up at one point to go to the bathroom. There are these girls that walk up and down the aisles hawking food. I asked them where the restroom was . . . thus ensued ten minutes of international chaos until I found a map and could point to what I was after. (Seriously how do you pantomime squatty potty. – I know what you are thinking but remember this is a nation of squatters. They squat just to rest so I’d actually have to get the peeing part across – not as easy as you might think!)

I arrived at Tokyo station and immediately began the hunt for the Norita Airport train and the elevators to get me to said train. I was successful in both. As I stood waiting, Victoria came across me again, said hi, and then had to move on to her train car.

After arriving at the airport I worked my way up several floors to the exit. I found with Holiday Inn bus with relative ease, and MaryBeth had worked her magic. My reservation was for Monday night (not Tuesday as those who have read the blog for a while might remember is the night I originally made it for.) The bellman had gotten my luggage, and I didn’t know how to get it back, so I just went up to the room to wait. As I waited I started flipping through channels. Almost all of them, you guessed it, in Japanese. There were 3 pay per view channels. The first was an American movie dubbed. I turned to the second as the luggage arrived, turning away from the door and back to the tv to discover it was PORN. Holy cow I almost died. I dove for the remote and changed the channel. I don’t even know what language that one was in. In decided CNN is a great channel, so it stayed there the rest of the night.

I called MaryBeth to reassure her that her dingdong friend did manage to make it to the hotel without any fiascos. I’d be more indignant, but she’s spent enough time with me to be able to imagine three or four ways I could

After that, I went down for dinner. I decided for my last night in Japan I would eat Chinese. (It was either that or hamburgers. What the heck one last hurrah.) I had seen something about a massage service (you know I can’t resist a good massage), so I asked the front desk and had one scheduled for 7pm. The longest option was for 40 minutes which I thought was a little short, but better than nothing.

Dinner was fine. I had spring rolls, and there was rice. I’m hoping the meat was cow, and the soup was some kind of noodle thing. That’s about all I know on that front.

The Japanese massage, my friends, is different from the American massage. The masseuse was a lady (thank heavens, although it didn’t matter because she just had me lay on the bed wearing what I traveled in.) She had me lay on my side. The massage began with her digging her thumbs into my back, I kid you not. After that she proceeded to dig her thumbs into my skull. Speaking of which, do we know if there are any cases on record of masseuses sticking their thumbs INTO the skull of clients?? Cause I think it was a possibility. Then, cause she wasn’t sure if she had caused any pain yet, you know that karate chop thing people do when they are giving massages to friends? Yeah, she did that to my HEAD. At some point she began digging her knee into my back before moving down to shove her elbow into my tailbone and glutuse mximus. Did I mention that I was paying for this?!?! It hurt like a mother. She wasn’t that dang big of a woman either. She had some power in those hands. Now at some point in here, I began thinking about the fact it was ONLY 40 minutes. Thank you God. Thank you God.

MaryBeth called at about 7:30am. I have to tell you it was mildly disconcerting. Who would be calling me?? Aha. MaryBeth to be sure I was up. My original plan included working out in the gym, but on second thought, nah. After checking on the price of breakfast at the hotel, I decided I would head on over to the airport.

I took a bath before going to bed. (Duh) This is the sign on the side of the tub. I am hoping you can read it. Is it really that hard to find an American who can translate Japanese? Must they just try to translate using a dictionary. Since I wanted the fire to stay inside, I went ahead and followed the precautions. Does anyone know what mind in the unit-bath mean?

I wasn't paying any attention last night, because the airport is literally around the corner from the hotel (I didn't realize they were so close) so I was at the airport before 9am. The AA lines didn't form until 9:15 so I decided to kill some time by having breakfast. Nothing compares to Mickey D's in the morning. Yum.

The line to check in although very short, took FOREVER. They were running special. For $600.00 I could upgrade to first class. I cannot begin to tell you how much it pained me not to do so. I yearn for first class. However, it was not fiscally responsible to do so. (Mom, Jon-David, Pam MacInnes I hope y'all are happy. You sat on my shoulder shaking your heads while I contemplated going for it.)

Once through that line I had to work my way through customs (yes, I did manage to choose the slowest line.) And then on to the gate. There are some weird smelling people in this world. That's all I have to say to that.

Luckily for $5.00 I could get an internet connection. So I am able to play on the computer and try to ignore the weird smells and hooligan children.

On a side note, it looks like almost as soon as I get off the plane I will have to head over to school to make sure some of my favorite administrators are not in the middle of screwing me through crappy scheduling. Welcome back.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Last Day in Misawa

Because we got in so late from the Festival, we missed church this morning. We did get up in time for the buffet at the officer's club. Very yummy.

Upon our return Grace went out back to play in the blow-up pool with friends. It was located conveniently near a shade tree so we all sat outside praying for a breeze or two as we watched. Most of the afternoon was spent in this fashion. Grace and Connie had a great time. The best part was when they looked up at us (sweating mind you) to tell us they were freezing. Hmm, maybe we should tryout that pool . . .

While the girls swam, Brock and Mike pitched the football back and forth to each other. Brock is a sports fanatic. Lots of ESPN in this house!

Eventually MaryBeth and I galvenized ourselves into action enough to go to the train station and make sure I have a reserved seat on the train. It's important to have a reserved seat because on the off chance the train is full there is chance a person couldend up on the not reserved smoking car. cough, cough, cough. Then we went by the BX to buy a book for me to read on the trip home and some snack food.

On one trip to the BX I happen to see a hair barrette I like. I put it down and say, maybe next visit. MB explains that if there is something at the BX you like, you must grab it immediately even if you aren't certain because if you even take a turn around the BX, it is possible the item in question will be gone by the time you get back. (The description seemed strikingly similiar to that of vultures circling.) The irony of this is that she has her eye on a beach chair. She loves this beach chair. It costs $25.00. I haven't priced beach chairs lately, so I don't know if that is a reasonable price or not. I do know there are 8 at the BX. I know every time we went to the BX we did a drive by on the beach chairs. This time MB did an actual test run. I think she now has a problem. She has held out so long for the magic sale (this, she says, is what everyone is doing -- you should hear her describe the winter coat sale) that she can't possibly buy it now, but look how perfectly happy she looks in the chair. She's going to be so unhappy if she doesn't get one! However on the other hand, the girl doesn't tan at all ever, so she's likely to get the same quality tan in the BX or on the beach . . .

While in the BX I had to take a photo of the Bonsai pruning kit for $350.00. This place can barely manage to carry the essentials, but by golly any military personnel with a keen interest in Bonsai horticulture is set.

Back at the house, Brock had taken over the pool with one of his friends as Mike enjoyed the shade and the breeze.

I am on the 11:30 train to Tokyo, so I have packed up and I'm ready to go. Look out cellular world, I'm coming back.

Quick Monday morning note. I'm all packed except for the laptop . . . hmmm. This may be a problem. Brock is trying out for a part in Jack and the Beanstalk this morning. After that I head off.

How the floats work

** I had to separate this into multiple posts - so you may want to drop down to "Baseball" to get the day in order.

The floats are really amazing looking. There is a line of guys in front of each float and behind each float. There is a guy in front of each float yelling at the guys under it to go left or go right or lift up the front or rush the crowd. Whatever it is. So thes are both the backs of a floats.

Intermingled in the parade

So, in and among the floats was a bevy of weirdness.

For instance, there were many people dressed in what we can only assume is full party gear. Nothing says I like to have fun like a man wearing a mask and a tutu. I like the combination of lime green tights and pink booties.

Or perhaps you like beer. How about a beer that can swirl itself around and around until it makes itself hurl. I didn't see the hurling myself, but I feel confident there was some. After the big spin presentation, he stops the can, gets his face in the right spot, pops his hands out the sides and does a little bow for the crowd. What a hoot.

I don't even know how to describe this character. Happy as all get out, but dressed in a most bizarre fashion.

If someone decided to have more fun than they should have, the police were there to circle around the offending drunks and move them away from the crowd. The ratio was about 20 to 1 (in favor of the police, mind you.)

There were also smaller floats that were stuck in between the big ones.

Then another round . . .

Then more drums come by . . . followed by more bells and flutes . . . then their would be an occassional weird person dressed as a cow or something . . . followed by a float and then laterns which let you know . . . there were more drums coming

The parade

The Nabuta Festival has a particular order. First comes the drums. They are very large and on wheels. Five guys pull the drums and five or six guys beat the drums. Then come the bells and flutes. They hop twice on one foot and then twice on the other while making a little song with their bells or flutes. After that comes the dancers. There are guys with large ropes keep the crowds out or the dancers in depending on your perspective. At any rate, it looks like wild drunken dancing while people yell "Rasse, Rasse, Rasserarasa". . . or something like that. After the dancers come the floats, they are very large. "Japanese historical figures are paintd on what is basically paper mache with lights.

Staking out our corner

I forgot to mention that when Angel and I went in search of food we found this store. I'm not sure of what they were thinking when they named it, but we are giving points for funny as hell.

Now, the way this works is that the side streets will be blocked off just a few minutes before the parade starts. So, everyone stands around holding their tarps waiting for the moment that the police say, OK, now you can run out here like maniacs and stake out an area that you can call your own for the next 3 hours or so.

These three women may seem harmless enough, but they were our competition to the right. They had stools and were prepared to sit down right in the middle of our area given half a chance.

If you can visualize it, we were standing right on the corner, so our plan was to actually just move forward into the street. Now if anyone started edge into the street too early and maybe start taping down the corner of their tarps, the police would come by and tell them to pull it up.

It is hard for a photo to do justice to the chaos that reigns when people start rushing out. Then they place these huge cones in the middle of the street to mark what the "walkway" will be. Below is a lovely photo of the rabble. We are in the street. There is no doubt about that. MaryBeth and Mike did a fine job of leading the pack to the perfect parade position. Most of the floats actually stopped right where we sat and did a little circle and move towards the crowd with the big float thing. Very cool.

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Pre-Festival Action

So, at 1:30 we loaded up onto the Nabuta Festival Tour Bus. We were on the purple one. Joined by the Mansburgers, Chaplain David, Angel, Jonathan(barely visible) and Jacob (in front), Ben the babysitter extraordinaire (yellow shirt), his mother Miriam and his sister Alexandria (tourquoise). Others too but not in our posse. The trip took approximately 2 hours. The festival didn't start until 7:00pm, but there was prep work to be done.We made the requisite stop about half way there, so one and all could potty. I thought it was a cute rest stop, so I wanted everyone to be able to see it. Once we arrived in Aomori City we had to get ourselves to the perfect parade spot. On the way we passed the painted fire hydrant. I knew everyone would want to see that too. I took over 300 pictures, but blogspot can be a piece of crap blog site. So I have no idea of how very few photos may actually make it. I've been trying to put pictures on for about 8 hours now, and I've gotten exactly 3 on so far.

Angel and I went out in search of food etc after we staked our corner of the street. We came across a cake in the shape of a castle. We felt obliged to go in and see what else the store made, the fact the store had air conditioning also encouraged in to the store. They had valentines cakes (hopefully made more recently than valentine's day, Halloween cakes, and the best of all from the people that love you best . . . the cake with a drunk man on top.

Friday, August 4, 2006


Brock had his final baseball game of the season today. MaryBeth pointed out the parents of the 8-10 yr old set practically move as a group around the base from one event to the next, basketball, baseball etc etc. Brock is an Oriole, and a fine Oriole he is. They won their game 14-8. Basically, the parents sit in the sun (facing the sun in our case) cooking their brains as they cheer their children on to victory. Mike was the first base coach. He actually got to be in on the action. I contemplated the need to have extremely awkward uncoordinated children that are completely tone deaf. (I've heard children practice musical instruments, and I don't want any part of that deal either!)

Brock has been playing catcher. My understanding is that it is a thankless position that requires a lot of chasing the ball around. Today he played 3rd base and was happy as a clam to do it. He stood happily throwing shout outs towards the other players. "Good jobJacob." "Keep going Jonathan" After the game, the coach gave a trophy to each player and said
something really nice about each. I was impressed.

We leave at 1:30 to catch the bus to Amoree City and the Nabuta Festival. Next update will probably have to be tomorrow.

Sleep is but a dream

We have just gotten back from seeing Pirates of the Carribbean II. The base theater does not have air conditioning. The place was packed (400?) and every last person was sweating. As it turns out for Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift, I was unable to appreciate the lack of air conditioning because it was still cold outside. Such is not the case anymore. That theater is sweltering.

So I began my day lolling about contemplating how sticky I was feeling without actually having moved from the bed yet. We were off to another slow start before MB came up with the grand idea of taking me on a full tour of the base. The beauty of this plan is that the car has air conditioning. I have now seen it all, and it took us quite some time to complete the tour! She has always been a smart one that MaryBeth.

The tour included the very important: snow plow. Look at the size of that sucker.

I finally was able to get a photo of the purple construction equipment. Secure in their manhood, these men say, "yes, yes" to all the pastels.

We went to a promotion party at Mike's office before lunch (four people were on the promotion list and they had quite a feast set out to celebrate.) Mike took us around. He even got the vault guy to let us take a peek in. Sgt Sommers, one of the guys in Mike's dept, had the sign on Mike's desk made in the Phillipines. Yes, Dad, it is carved out of a single block of wood. I'm not sure you can tell from this photo, but it is actually carved on the top and right side.

Afterwards we went to the beach. Lovely afternoon. First, we went to a beach called Miss Veedal. It is named after the plane (the one below is a substandard recreation) of the first plane to travel transpacific. The beach was nice, but MB was concerned that there wasn't a breaker to keep her children from being sucked out into the ocean. So, we headed to the othe beach. You can see in the background of the Brock and Grace photo there are hundreds of cement jacks stacked up on each other to protect the beach. I almost forgot horrible rap music blared from speakers almost the entire time, except for a ten minute period when they asked us to "please rise from the sea for a ten minute period." Made us sound like Godzillas.

We got back, made dinner and then headed out to the movies. As my time here comes to a close we are trying to scratch all of the must see's and do's off the list. We are a little concerned that number 16 is going to be a problem. Earthquake. They have tons of the darn things, but not a bleepin' one in the last six weeks. Most annoying. We're keeping our fingers crossed. Nabuta festival will be crossed off tomorrow, as will watch Brock play baseball. Sorry this is a short one. Gotta run.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Summer has arrived in Misawa

For the last two weeks the people of Misawa have looked around them saying, this is so strange, don't you remember this time last year it was so hot. Wow, it really is cool, I wonder if we will have summer. Ladies and gentlemen, fear no more, it's humid, it's warm, my thighs are sticking. Yippee.

It's hard to be motivated to do anything when it is hot and sticky. MB and I began the day by finishing a movie we started the other night. Ran a few errands on base, and the next thing we knew it was time for Grace's dance lessons and then Brock's basketball game. So now we are hanging out after a lovely dinner of hamburgers. Sorry, nothing exciting to report today.