Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wish us luck!

Fuji-san! Here we come!
We leave bright and early tomorrow morning for Tokyo where we will attempt to climb Mt. Fuji and spend a couple of days exploring the city. We really hope we make it to the top of the mountain and have a great rest of the trip! I'll be back Monday to report. :)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tanabata Festival

My blog's been a bit lacking lately. Sorry about that. Haven't have much of interest to write about for the past week or two. Today, however, was the Tanabata festival in Misawa. You can Google search if you want to know the Tanabata story and purpose of the holiday, but the basic idea is to celebrate the one day of the year when two separated lovers are able to come together according to the story. It's a day of happiness and wish-making. It was celebrated here with a DOZENS and dozens of food vendors, decorations, performances, and kiddy games in the streets of downtown Misawa.

Among the offerings were sausage lollipops. We chose to eat some yakiniku (grilled marinated meat on a stick) and delicious Gyros instead. If I had a bigger stomach, I would have gotten sooo much more food. Everything looked and smelled heavenly!
And of course, no festival is complete without Harry Potter decorations:

Friday, July 10, 2009

My name is PATTY.

I was introduced to someone Corey works with (we'll call him Bob) at the grocery store a couple days ago. This is how it went down:

Corey: "Hey Bob, good to see you. I'd like you to meet my wife, Patty."
Bob: *looking uncomfortably at Corey, then tentatively shaking my hand* "Fatty? Nice to meet you..."
Me: *side-eye at Corey* "Uh... it's Patty actually. Nice to meet you too."
Corey: "Dude, did you just call my wife Fatty?"
All of us: *uncomfortable laughing*

Fatty. Come on now, really?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

All we want is a dog. :(

Corey and I are dyyyying to get another dog. He or she would fit in perfectly with our little family right now. Unfortunately, we're not allowed to have pets in our house. Even with a hefty pet deposit, the answer is a big fat no- believe me, we've asked (and asked and asked). Based on everyone else we know living off-base, we're the only area that isn't allowed them. SUCKAGE! So the question is: is it worth it to move (with all the stress and work that involves) at some point to a house that probably will be less cool than the one we have now so that we can get a dog? We haven't totally ruled it out.

This weekend one of our friends brought his dog camping with us, and it was so fun to have one around again. This is Bruiser, an adorable little french bulldog and the best behaved dog I've ever met:
Have you ever seen a dog sit patiently within tongue-range of a plate full of cooked, aromatic bacon and not even attempt to sneak a little piece? Bruiser did. He patiently waited until someone put a piece into his mouth, or he didn't eat any at all. He didn't bark. He didn't beg. He stayed with our group, even when he wasn't on his leash. He hiked up a mountain with us. He slept through the night by our sides. He was sweet, lovable, affectionate, and super low-maintenance. We love Bruiser.

Boo. We need a dog!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Scuba Diving

This past weekend Corey and I had our first scuba diving lesson. Our friend Dan is a licensed instructor, and the very kind man agreed to let us try it out on our camping trip (since he and his wife are serious divers and had all their gear with them for the weekend). I hadn't realized how involved it is. We had just a very small introduction, and even that took a really long time and was a little bit overwhelming. But it was super duper fun, and totally worth it!

There's A LOT of extremely heavy equipment involved. Getting into and out of the water with all of it strapped on was probably the most difficult part of everything. I've realized that flippers and I don't get along very well. I couldn't maneuver around in them whatsoever. On top of that, all of the equipment I was using was a little too big for me (except for my wetsuit which was a size too small- very attractive, I assure you) and completely unbalanced, so initially when I went in the water I would immediately be pulled onto my back with my flippers sticking straight up. Not ideal. 

We eventually got all the equipment squared away and were taught how to use everything. We learned all the underwater hand signals to use to communicate during a dive. We did a few little drills so we knew how to take care of small issues that might arise and practiced breathing underwater a bit. 

After about an hour of all this prep, we hit the open seas!

... and then promptly turned around. We had gotten maybe 7-ish feet down when Corey pointed out two jelly fish hovering in the distance above us, and that was enough to send me swimming back towards shore. Jelly fish?? No thank you! So we swam back to shallower waters (away from the jelly fish) and spent the rest of the time just swimming back and forth looking at stuff close to shore. It was still cool- we saw giant sea slugs and various fish, as well as a rock fish (that we stayed well clear of), which even Dan had only ever seen 2 of. 

Overall it was a fun experience. I know I'll receive endless mockery for my "extreme passive panic" over a distant jelly fish sighting, but so it goes I suppose. I've decided that before attempting any more scuba diving, I need to do a lot of snorkeling to get used to being in the ocean in the first place. I'm a bit skittish when it comes to little creatures, both on and off land. There's a whole lot in that big blue ocean that could do much more damage than a jelly fish, so it's probably a good idea to get comfortable with that fact before I venture out deep into it.

Eventually though, Corey and I will be scuba certified! It might take a while, but it'll happen! Be prepared, Ocean.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4th of July Weekend

Let me tell you, we had an AWESOME holiday weekend! We had such a good time that I just had to write about it and share right away. 

Along with some friends, we took a camping trip up to Tappizaki on the northern most tip of the Tsugaru peninsula. The map below shows where it is (the lower blue marker is where we live in Misawa and the other is Tappi- this is on the main island of Honshu, and the northern island of Hokkaido is right above- you could actually see Hokkaido from the shore of Tappi when the weather was clear). 

It was a really neat drive up there. It took about 3 hours and brought us through tons of beautiful scenery, a lot of small fishing and farming villages, and through Aomori city. And it got even prettier when we arrived at our destination! This was the beach we got to camp at:
Now, when I say "camp," you'll have to take that with a grain of salt... what we did was not actually camping. The campground had cabins fully equipped with small kitchens, full bathrooms/showers, electricity, and TV. But there was a giant communal fire pit, and since we were with 6 other people, Corey and I slept in sleeping bags on the floor anyway... so that sort of counts, right? This was our luxurious cabin and the view we had from the porch:
The main point of our trip was focused around scuba diving. The friends we went with are quite the divers, and this is apparently a great place for that in northern Japan. Corey and I are hoping to get into it and we had our first introduction this weekend. That will be a subject for its own post (soon to come), so I'm skipping all that right now. Fear not though my faithful readers, it will come!

We did lots of other fun stuff as well, and came home with many amusing stories and great memories. We spent a lot of time hanging around the campfire pit, eating, talking, playing games, lighting fireworks (it was the 4th of July afterall), and meeting lots of people. 
Here's a little story: on our first night, we shared the fire pit with a group of maybe 15 young Japanese guys. No one in our group had any conversational Japanese skills of any substance, and aside from the dozen or so English words the Japanese dudes knew, we couldn't talk to each other AT ALL. And yet we spent the entire night- well into the wee hours- hanging out together, sharing food and alcohol, and trying to teach each other phrases and find ways to communicate. It was SO FUN!! The highlights:

-Corey made a new extremely touchy-feely "bestu friendo" who's apparent total English vocabulary consisted of the phrase, "I'm-a sooooooo gay!" 
-We saw a poor guy nearly pass out from the unexpected spice of an American hot link.
-We discovered that the Japanese understanding of US geography is centered around Major League baseball teams.
- "Saiko" (pronounced "psycho" but I'm assuming that's the Japanese spelling of the word) means "best friend" in Japanese. It's fun to say that to people. 

The lowlight of the night was me eventually having to go inside after an extremely inebriated and persistent young man got much too close for comfort despite knowing I was married and that my husband was sitting a few feet away. His friends were apologetic, but that part blew. The same dude eventually also exchanged one of his shoes for one of Corey's, so he had fun trying to get it back the next morning.


One day we took the kids on a fun hike while their parents did some diving. It was so beautiful! We walked a long way around the rocky shoreline (the kids had fun climbing rocks), skipped rocks and collected shells, climbed up a big mountain, and scaled through HUGE overgrown brush to get back down while pretending we were jungle explorers. 

It was such a fantastic trip! Like I said, I'll write about our scuba diving experience next time, but I wanted to be sure I hit on the other great things we saw and did before they got overshadowed by the diving. 

We got home this afternoon and then had a GREAT game night with 3 other couples we hadn't hung out with before, but who all turned out to be super cool people and we got along great! It was an evening full of LOTS of laughing and fun, which was the absolute perfect way to end this weekend.

I hope you all had a great 4th of July too! 

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

An ode...

... to the most wonderful thing I've ever put in my mouth.
I have never, ever, EVER in my life tasted anything as magical as the cantaloupes they are currently selling in our local Japanese supermarkets. They are heavenly- the juiciest, most succulent fruits in the entire world. Seriously, this is cantaloupe on a whole other plane of existence.

If for nothing else, come to Japan for the fruit. I promise you won't be disappointed.