Wednesday, May 28, 2008

So I probably don't need to explain my absence. There has been a lot going on here, and nothing at all, YES! Amazingly, both at the same time. There is a lot of adjusting to be done, absorbing, thinking things through, then rethinking them, routines to settle into, and then change, and resettle.

Bad news about our final shipment - our household goods. They originally told us to expect delivery today, but when we called today to get a time slot they casually said they don't expect the shipment until June 9. I think I'll call back and ask for some clarity, is it here, but they can't deliver it? or is it arriving on the 9th, and then we wait for delivery? We are so bummed out about this news. Things we miss most - our books, the kids' toys, our instruments, remote controls for the TV and DVD, silverware (we bought dishes here, but we are still using plastic utensils).

But we are finding things to keep us busy, believe it or not. Eating out is big on our list of favorite activities. Since I think I may be entertaining some readers from let me list a few places that we recommend

- Toride on Hwy 8 between 75 and 224 - a little on the fancy side, but no dress code, urban construction site decor with re-bar, concrete, and plywood, Japanese and western style seating, menu is little side dishes, they have sushi - 8 pieces for around 400Yen, salads - sashimi, nori and caviar, with fresh tomatoes and mescaline type lettuce for less than 500Yen, and yakitori, sirloin strip served very rare, as well as more exotic items, English menu, with pictures, all reasonably priced and beautifully presented as it was cooked, they skipped the usual onslaught and brought out each dish as it was prepared, piping hot and fresh, except the sushi and salad, obviously. All five of us left full for under 6500Yen.

- Awase Soba on Hwy 20 (can be found on the map in the Peace Phone Book) - more casual, I like to take the kids for lunch on the way home from errands on the other side of the island (Kadena, Foster), very easy to order from the small fixed English picture menu, they have large steamy hot bowls of yasai (vegetable) soba in broth (although it has just a little meat in it) for 650 (large) or 550 Yen (medium) or yakisoba (griddle fried noodles, a little too greasy for me) for 750 yen, they have sanmainiku (three layer meat, if I understand correctly includes the skin of the animal, a delicacy I'll gladly leave to the locals), kids lunch is a small bowl of soba with strips of cooked eggs, also a small serving of rice in the shape of a star or heart, a drink and cookie are included, child friendly serveware on their very own tray for 400Yen, Japanese and western style seating, complimentary self serve and very yummy pickled daikon radish. I like this place because it is fast, hot and filling.

SO besides eating, we go to the library several times a week, the beach, shopping for household items, trawling the 100Yen store, tending to our garden (tomatoes are three inches high, basil is flourishing although not as well as the tomatoes, lantana is thriving, and the dahlias are the bugs favorite snack food.) The kids are writing letters to their friends, learning to draw from drawing books they get out of the library and watching DVDs borrow from the library. I feel like I am constantly making ice (no ice maker) and hanging laundry on the clothesline.
We bought new couches, not sure why we didn't do that sooner. It finally occurred to us that we didn't send any couches in our shipment and buying some would certainly solve that whole 'sick-of-sitting-on-the-floor' problem.
There is a store here called Yellow Box, huge, warehouse style, no frills, no salespeople, just perfect. They also had smaller import items like yardage (meter-age?) of Burmese silk, handmade beaded bracelets, handmade notebooks and incense. Some very unusual furniture such as made out of tree trunks, but also some American style stuff (which we chose). I have a rug coming in the shipment which will co-ordinate with the couches. I have big plans for decorating the new place, but now I have to wait for the rest of the furniture to get here. Yes, dearies, you do correctly detect a hint of bitterness in my tone.

I have to break here to tell you about a commercial we just saw on AFN TV. The premise is this: reduce greenhouse gases by buying local... from your commissary. How about, buy from your local Japanese market? A good bit of items in the commissary have been shipped across the Pacific. And the produce that I have found that is local, is grossly marked up - the same strawberries that I got for 197 Yen from the Union one week, were at the commissary the next week for $5.47!! That's not a typo - over $5!! ... and this is for about 20 small strawberries. My new favorte yao-ya is on the way back from the beach. Fieldside, 3 or 4 heads of fresh bright green lettuce for 100 Yen and a pints worth of cherry tomatoes for just as much.

I have a new book - The complete Idiots Guide to Conversational Japanese. We have quite a few Japanese language books lying around here, and they have been immensely helpful in our exploits so far. But I wish I could talk to other moms at the park and to my neighbor. So, even though I detest the idiots and dummies for their names alone - I have read several and found them to be very usable - this book is proving to be also such. The first five chapters have provided me enough information to understand basic sentence structure and even translate some English sentences into Japanese, slowly, but nonetheless. I now possess a reasonable amount of confidence that, with practice, I can learn this language. It is not that difficult really, however, reading it and remembering the vocabulary will prove to be the most difficult. But I can now see that the conjugations are actually much simpler than even Latin languages that I have had some exposure to.

Can I just leave you with the forecast for the week (and last week too)? Rain everyday, high of 82 degrees, low of 75. The thing is... it hasn't rained but, maybe, once in the last week and half. I have been telling the kids for a week now to reuse clothes (mostly jammies) that aren't too dirty. When it is rainy and I can't hang clothes out, I want to reduce the amount of laundry we produce. So, at about ten in the morning, I check the weather, and it has changed it to sunny for today, and rain for the rest of the week. Tim reports three rain drops on his windshield while driving to work today.

So leave us some comments, questions, let us know how every one is doing. We did think of some items that would be nice to have from the states... family in Alabama, do you think you could find those mosquito arm bands in bulk or at least in multiples of three? Mia is getting eaten alive, and her skin is so sensitive, I can't really keep bug spray on her constantly. family in NYC, do you think you can procure those very cool slippers from the dollar store, like the green ones I had? family in Durham NC, could you try to get your hands on some sugar snap pea seeds? I was thinking of setting up the geodesic dome toy climber (that used to be in our basement in Va) in the yard and letting the vines grow up it for a cool shaded fort with healthy snacks built right in. I can't think of anything else right now. I assume everyone got our postcard with our new address on it.
I just realized the time, need to go cook something and get the munchkins ready for bed. Thanks again for checking in!


maryellenlewis said...

Consider it done! I will stop by chinatown today. :) Glad to hear everyone is well.

Anonymous said...

... LOVE the couch, Jackie, and it is so good to hear that you are all well. Things are falling into place for you, so it sounds (with exception of the late shipment). I wanted to share that mom's garden peas are "playing out" as she likes to say. She is letting a row of heirloom peas go to seed. I'll see about getting some of those for you when the time comes.

Sarah S.