Thursday, June 15, 2006

Japanese Invasion

We now have DJ Macky Ramone and Yuta and Sachiya, also known as Sparks & Twinky (not necessarily in that order) staying with us. They got here just in time, due to a day-delayed flight, to meet almost ALL of our friends at the BUZZ BUZZ BBQ. Since then, it's bveen a lot of shopping and beer-drinking and music. I took them to Uwajimaya today and we got everything we need for a Japanese feast, featuring ikonomi-yaki, shrimp tempura, and soba. I had initially suggested some sashimi, but Macky turned up his nose at the selection. Usually, there is a tank full of live fish there, but it was empty today. What they had was not fresh enough. My first lesson in true Japanese cuisine. I also learned that when the Japanese throw a dinner party or a BBQ, everyone is expected to chip in some cash. He was surprised when I told him that the hosts usually pay for everything except the extra beer. I think I like the Japanese way better. We split tonight's groceries.

Here's some BBQ pics.

Yuta and Sachiya

Yuta and Davey and Rock'm Sock'm Robots

Macky from our trip to Japan last year (for some reason, there were no good pics of him at the BBQ)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Things I want to experience/accomplish in Japan

- tea ceremony
- gain a passable knowledge of Japanese
- gain a deeper understanding of a culture that fascinates me
- go to a bamboo forest
- develop my own painting style
- learn something uniquely Japanese, like sumi-e or calligraphy

I was up at 2 am last night, and I decided to make a top-of-my-head list of personal reasons I want to go live in Japan. The proximity of our departure date just made a jump closer, when we decided it would be good to start the kids in their new school on time, and I admit that it's starting to feel real, at last. My fears and doubts nibbled at the edges of my brain, and I couldn't sleep. I think the language barrier making me feel helpless is at the root of my anxiety. That is something I can control, by studying harder, making the learning of the language a priority. The fact that I have some control over this restores my confidence that this crazy move is going to do profound and wonderful things for me and for us as a family.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Apocalypse Averted

So, 6-6-6 passed without incident. But I thought this article was great.

Hell shines in its apocalyptic moment in the sun
Wed Jun 7, 2006 07:24 AM ET

By Rebecca Cook

HELL, Michigan (Reuters) - The road to Hell was crowded with the curious on Tuesday -- as well as devils-in-disguise, hearse enthusiasts, Christian protesters and merchants trying to cash in on the apocalypse.

Hell, Michigan, a tiny town about 60 miles west of Detroit, threw itself open for a once-in-a-millennium party to mark the passage of June 6, 2006 -- or 6-6-6, a number long associated with the Antichrist.

Home to only about 70 souls on an average day, Hell's population swelled to the hundreds by Tuesday afternoon, with dozens waiting in line to buy T-shirts emblazoned with "666."

"We can't even keep those in stock," said Chad Wines, an employee at Screams Ice Cream, working to keep up with demand for souvenirs and ice cream on what proved to be a hot day in Hell.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I couldn't pass it up," said Paul Groenendal, one of dozens of leather-clad bikers who rode to Hell for the street party.

Groenendal, who wore devil horns glued to his bald head as well as a skull and crossbones rings and matching necklace, joked he was in Hell to "make deals and collect."

Auto salvage worker Ken McKeny, 43, pulled his customized, casket on wheels into town with the "4MLDHYD" license plates, part of a Michigan-based hearse enthusiasts group that call themselves "Hearsin' Around."

"I went to work this morning but my boss told me to get out and go to Hell," he said.

A crowd gathered as Gabrielle Olney, 20, visiting Hell with her mother and grandmother, crawled into McKeny's green metallic casket. "It was just something to do," said Olney, a college student. "I figure you've got to try everything once."

Nearby a handful of Christian protesters were righteously indignant to the revelry. "I'm here to tell people that they don't have to go to hell," said one woman, who gave her name only as Donna. "Hell is not a joke."

Paradise, after all, is only a day's drive away -- less than 300 miles north in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Fewer checkboxes.

Turns out, after some discussion, that we are not taking the dog. It's too big of a bureaucratic nightmare, it seriously limits our housing prospects, it's expensive, and he's old, dammit. How can we uproot him at his age, to a small place in a foreign country, with no yard? We need to find him a good home, with nice people who will pay more attention to him than we do, give him lots of outside time, and make his last years comfortable. It's sad, he's always been with us, but it's better. Funny how finding him a new home looks like a much easier task after wading thru the paperwork and projected cost to import him.

Speaking of projected cost, there is some good news. The school we have chosen for the boys recently expanded, so there is no waiting list. I don't see any reason why they wouldn't be accepted. It's hugely expensive to get them in, but it'll be worth it. They'll get a great education, surrounded by kids of multicultural backgrounds (60 students from 17 countries), and the school has a heavy emphasis on learning japanese language and culture. Exactly what we were looking for in this grand relocation of our family. I wish I could go to the japanese classes, too.

Look at the uniforms! I dunno about my kids in polos, but I like the sweaters.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

More checkboxes

We got rained out of our garage sale on Sunday, so we're going to try again on Saturday, when the Japanese dudes arrive. Just a layer skimmed off the top of our crap. We have so much crap. It's kinda fun going thru it all and mercilessly simplifying.

It's really incredible how the list of stuff to do before our move just keeps getting longer, seemingly by the day.

We've decided to move towards taking the dog with us. The vet thinks that after spending his entore life with us, leaving him with strangers would be more stressful for him than the move. Poor dog, tho, that's a long flight. He isn't going to smell so fresh (unlike now) when he gets there. We have to get him micro-chipped, write to the Japanese gov't, send a serum sample off to Kansas, fill out a LOT of paperwork, get it notarized by a gov't vet in Olympia, get someone to watch him for 3 months (because there is a waiting period after his serum sample of 180 days and we have half that before we move)...ugh. And then we'll have to find someone in Japan to watch him on weekends if we want to go anywhere. What a pain.

I'm also in the process of trying to get the kids into this International school. More paperwork.

I've made a Task List in Outlook. It has checkboxes. I haven't checked any yet, but at least they're organized.