Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Rainy Season?

Meanwhile at Misawa, it's mild, warn, and breezy. I hung up furin (windchimes) all over the yard. I love how they sound. The glass ones go tinktinktink, the iron one goes dingdingding and my bamboo ones go tonktonktonk, and they all set each other off very nicely.

I wonder if we're heading a hot, dry summer here. Usually Rainy season (Tsuyu) has not only started but would have been continuing unabated by now. We've had a few spots of rain here and there, but nothing like the 17-day streak of non-stop rain we had last year It rained other days, too, but intermittently. It was grey , it was damp, it was dreary, everything got moldy and musty and I was ready to shoot someone, myself, anyone. Seriously.

Weather reports say a pressure system is keeping the the rain away and that it is raining properly in the Kanto plains, but I still wonder. As much as I dislike the mold and the grey, the rain's necessary for good crops, on which Misawa depends, since this area is mostly farms.

Speaking of farms, summer produce is here. Asparagus is all over the place, as are eggplants, peaches and watermelons. I could live on asparagus and watermelon, except that I would be living in the bathroom. I rarely shop at the commissary for vegetables anymore, preferring to use the farmer's market (why didn't I work up the courage to go in there two years ago?) or local stands or the supermarket down the road from me.

I think I also mentioned way back that the area I live in is famous throughout Japan for its apples. You can't get a bad apple here. You can get 10 dollar ones, though. And yes, they are worth the price. I will let you know that a 10 dollar apple is about as big as my head and takes me two days to eat, unless I'm really hungry, then it only takes about 9 hours. Hugest apples I have ever seen, and so perfect and tasty.

Aomori's apple industry started back in 1875, with just three trees! Aomori apples are hugely popular throughout Japan, accounting for 50% of the nation's supply. They do well in Thailand, Hong Kong, and Taiwan (as exports). They're a popular gift item, too. I think apples are often used in conjunction with funeral/memorial services, but as an offering rather than a snack.

There are three main types of apples: Sekaiichi (the meaning is number 1 in all over the world), Mutsu (an old name for Aomori and the area surrounding it , Fuji (the name is from Mt.Fuji) and Yellow apples (such as Orin and Kinsei ) . Fuji are the favorite among my friends, big, sweet and reminscent of the fragrance of roses and honey. Who woulda thunk an apple could smell so good and taste even better. They look really nice, too. Mmmm. I guess I'll pick some up today.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Hardware (Father's Day 2007)

--Ronald Wallace

My father always knew the secret
name of everything --
stove bolt and wing nut,
setscrew and rasp, ratchet
wrench, band saw, and ball
peen hammer. He was my
tour guide and translator
through that foreign country
with its short-tempered natives
in their crewcuts and tattoos,
who suffered my incompetence
with gruffness and disgust.
Pay attention, he would say,
and you'll learn a thing or two.

Now it's forty years later,
and I'm packing up his tools
(If you know the proper
names of things you're never
at a loss), tongue-tied, incompetent,
my hands and heart full
of doohickeys and widgets,
watchamacallits, thingamabobs.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Between working, working out, working second part-time job, working on my computer, doing yardwork...I was too worked up to work on the blog. Phew.

I think I'm really tired because this past week I tried to look nicer than just jeans and a t-shirt and old snears all this week. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, but you can sometimes get a decent wallet from it.

Here's Masako-san and me at our part-time kimono-slinging jobs During the slower times, I was teaching her American slang phrases. Masako is drop-dead gorgeous, in addition to being funny sweet, and smart. These were taken using her cellphone camera, so they're not great, but you get the idea.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Monday, June 04, 2007

Three Year Mark

Today was our three-year mark for arriving in Japan. We've come a long, long way. Hard to believe I have not been in the continental United States in that long (we went to Hawaii last summer). Oddly,while I miss my family and my friends, I don't miss very much else, aside from decent pizza and the ability to run over to Target. My life here has a aura of "semi-vacation"--this is not a "real life" in Japan, by any means. It's really more of a fantasy of living in Japan and it's pretty enjoyable, but pretty atypical.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Where's Bakagaijiin?

I've gotten a few emails from folks asking about my Tokyo/Hong Kong trip. I'll try to get some stuff up shortly--I got back last week , the cat went in for another surgery (his fourth!) and then had a small emergency (bleeding from the suture) and suitcases needed unpacked and housework done and just when I thought everything was under control, I promptly got sick enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room! I'm feeling much better, but am a little behind on things. Bear with me.

It was a terrific trip and we had a blast.