October brings first hockey game and fall yard work...
1 This budding tree heralds the arrival of fall. It's very fragrant.
2 Our house has our name on it now :)
3 Ben is learning Hiragana with me!
4 We're at the gym, waiting for Sam.
5 I ran all the way down the coast to Kannonzaki the other day - visible as the far coast in this picture.
6 Bought 80 proof alcohol to tincture this...
7 sending care packages to stateside friends :)
8 What is he doing? I think we are looking at Magic cards and picking out Hiragana letters we recognize...
9 Nissan Stadium where Sam's team runs dry land. Two laps around this entire stadium, one of them timed, then stairs, cavaletti and sprints. They're no joke about the dry land here!
10 Had to take this for you. This is the 7/11 bathroom. UNREAL. Clean, heated seat...
11 And I'm starting to be able to READ Japanese! This is the toilet paper holder. I can make out the initial 6 sounds but have no idea what it says. I asked later and it says - Thank you for keeping this area clean. Or something like that. I should post that in MY bathrooms...
12 Arriving at 0530 after driving 1 hr 45 min north of our house to a scrimmage. Yes. Insane. But it's the first hockey game, and a chance for Sam to play with his team. We got a loaner jersey last night from the team manager, so it's very exciting.
13 Sunrise at a hockey rink. Not the first time we've done that, but the first time in Japan for sure.
14 Kind of really a monumental moment.
15 Ben has a cold, but woke up at 3:10 am like a trooper and slept on the way up.
16 Sam heading to dry land.
18 Everyone is pointing at something...
19 I stepped away from behind the trees and this rainbow began to emerge!
20 And then a DOUBLE rainbow? What does it MEAN?
22 After dry land, getting ready to gear up.
23 This rink at a sports park is huge. There is an archery venue there as well (kyodo) - thankfully Kumiko was by her phone so I could text her that question.
24 The Bremerton Warriors PeeWee C team had their first puck drop of the season literally 30 min after ours.
25 You won't believe the name of the team we played today...
26 I'll hold you in suspense...
28 Yes, the Saitama Warriors.
29 I was wearing some WSHC Warriors gear and had to cover that up QUICK! ;)
30 Here is a string of movies - every shift Sam played.
31 He held his own and was a good contributor to the team.
33 They ended up winning 8-3.
36 Here's the end of the game...
37 and the customary salutations.
39 Here is team manager Hayashi-san (that is her last name). It means forest. She is giving me her favorite snack from Hokkaido, the north country where hockey is big. We traded favorite snacks this weekend because she has been so helpful getting us hooked up.
40 Driving home.
41 Then the kids were very eager to sell cookies, pretzels, and gummies to the neighbors. A yard service was born to spare potential Sunday nappers in the neighborhood from door-to-door sales ;) They leapt at the idea to scoop up leaves for 100 yen each. Money really DOES grow on trees!
42 Picture taken for Dave...Sam is coding, Ben is doing homework.
43 Snack bags. One for Ben. The other for a new friend of mine. One with two legs, crazy "hair," very long claws, and he crows. It is so nice to have a little friend to save snacks for. I can't save the volume I used to (it's just one little roo at the barn) but nice to have some accumulate on my counter.
44 My bus stop...I can catch the 0800 bus if I walk quickly after dropping Ben off at 0730.
45 A hair salon...looked interesting if I decided to spring for a professional cut. Out of town...somewhere different.
46 Walking along very tiny roads, wide enough for one car. More like single track bike lanes.
47 This looks like taro? These fields are not large, but every single square foot of dirt is utilized.
48 You can see this field terraced right by a tiny road. Note how dark the soil is. Really looks amended to me? But maybe not?
49 A wise old tree accompanied by some friends who passed.
50 This produce stand...geez. I've eyed it for weeks...noting the happy chicken on the sign, making out the letters on the sign as I learn more, noting the hours, and the fields across the street that likely supply it. Each week I look forward to buying local eggs on the way home. AND finding out where the chickens who lay them reside. I got foiled again today! Lights on, but doors didn't open! I can SEE the eggs!
51 Here I am dirty, sweaty, thirsty and ready to head home. But buses are inscrutable here. I've worked on unraveling this one stop for 3 weeks now. I know at least 4 buses go back to Yokosuka. I can tell that much from studying routes on the web and making out the kanji on the sign. But WHEN? When do they go? You can look at the row for 1300 (the hour I am studying for transit back home) and you tell me when buses going to Yokosuka stop. Even if you could just tell me buses 6 and 8. When do they stop at this bus stop? I asked a professional man in a suit today and he graciously gave it his best effort, even consulting with a sweet older woman with a purple parasol and matching hair. Still a question mark. Take the next one, he said. But when I questioned the driver: "Sumimasen? Yokosuka?" and got a briskly crossed pair of arms in reply...I just stepped back and laughed literally out loud. It is hysterical. I just run to the bus stop, hope to see a line of people, and wait. Then ask, and when I don't get crossed arms I jump on and watch where it goes! Unlike trains, you can always get off a minute or two later. And I can run for miles...
52 Ben and I love mascots. This is fire prevention week on base. He says he's not interested in modeling...but look how he mugs for the camera?
53 Dunk tank :)
54 Ben and I being hobos walking home from school with grocery bags tied off all over me.
55 A stop at shave ice was planned. This little shop right off base (Framboise) is a very very tiny shop. I happened to notice the words "shave ice" on the faded sign while running by last week. It was GOOD!
56 Ben helped with talking about the cost. He's really really picking up the language. Amazing.
57 Happy kids! I have to go home and work now...
58 Sunlight on the trees in the morning. I have always loved sun on trees...nice to see these trees glowing.
59 I'm out on another gypsy jog down the coast. This is looking toward the Elementary school where we'll discover kendo tonight.
60 Jogging along the little harbor in Hashirimizu.
61 Probably the most humble playground I have seen in a long time. I noticed it last week, but it didn't seem right to snap a picture of it. I did so this week because I just love it, and wonder which kids had their morning romps there.
62 Looking down the road. This is when you see Family Mart and are grateful for the sign which promises a cold drink, refilling your SUICA card, an ATM...
63 Found the Kannonzaki boardwalk. Very very nice!
64 Continuing along the coast you can see the Yokosuka Art Museum in the distance. I asked for a Post Office along here somewhere and was directed to this portion of town. When I arrived at the junction by the road, the man pointed to the "post office." It was a little snack store called "Rest Stop." Surely he must have wondered why someone (clearly from base) would have jogged 12K for the mail. I need a PO Box and all of them are taken in Yokosuka so I thought a town far afield might have one for me. And I WOULD gladly run for mail once a week. Ah well...still need to find a post office with a PO Box!
65 Submarine leaving. Japanese.
66 And Chiba Peninsula.
67 Looking back in the direction of base.
68 What kind of statue or formation did this fall off from?
70 Following stairs...I think these lead to the lighthouse.
71 Can you see a huge spiderweb in this shot??? Top quarter of the frame, right over the path? Natural Halloween decor!
72 Found it! Now how to get home...I ended up jogging around 209 to Uraga train station. I'm sure there are multiple ways to get there but sticking to the coast sounded fun, and was a sure bet with phone on low battery. All this fun for 154 yen. :) That's about $1.50. 15K later, and a 7/11 lunch, I'm happy.
73 The usual after-school scene for Ben - he and his buddies playing soccer or chase or wrestling around. He's in the blue shirt and shorts inthe middle of the frame.
74 Neighborhood workers showed up to work for yen, and for making cupcakes! Look at them hustle leaves!
75 Now they're all decorating these strange garlic-looking cloves (which are not garlic).
76 Very happy with their creations!
78 And closeup of the kids, too!
80 Look at THIS! Morgan came right in and got to know my kitchen better than I do! She found all the baking tools and made cupcakes for the neighborhood with the supplies on our baking shelf plus some from her home. (The boys invariably want to buy baking things at the commissary, so I have a shelf stocked with random cake, cupcake and cookie making supplies - with all the chefs in the neighborhood and kids old enough to find their way around the kitchen, it's a great reward for raking up leaves from the rockways in our yard. Is that a word? Rockways? Walkways made of rock?)
81 These are designed after the cute bulb-things the kids decorated. The red dots are for the leaves they raked. Stars are for the night sky now above our home as we wrap up...
82 Some very messy cupcakes...but very tasty!
83 On the way to school on the day of Gail Krug's memorial service. I thought the sky was particularly beautiful with rays streaming from Heaven. Dave is in New York for the week with his family.
84 I've got a fire going and Ben is putting up some Halloween decorations for us.
85 Doesn't this look spooky with the lights on the web?
86 I think he did a great job. The wind is blowing the web for us...
88 Great graveyard, Ben! (And my phone camera is doing shockingly well in the low light!)
90 This is a great picture from Liz, Tyler's mom (in red 11 jersey). They are from Bremerton. This is the boys on the ice practicing. Sam is in the USA Jersey.
91 Making pancakes before hockey practice which is at noon this time, so an early departure. These looked like Pokemon characters.
92 Trying to find the team - it's raining out, and we couldn't find them at the rink so we ran to the Nissan Stadium where they usually are. Still couldn't find them. Communication challenges happen...I will mention, and this is not a complaint at all but just a realization, that despite everyone's best efforts, ensuring we are in the right place at the right time takes twice as much time, easily, due to translating then confirming understanding. It's quite interesting! I am spending more time just showing up than I was managing an entire team. Anyway - you can see Sam has a bad cold and is wearing a mask on his arm because he refuses to wear it on his face as the Japanese do. Thought that was funny...
93 Funny hair styles possible with the rain...sent these to the team saying...uh...hey? We can't find you? Missed you!
94 Sam and I having some quality time while Ben is in an all-afternoon World Women's Ice Hockey Federation clinic. We're eating some lunch from 7/11.
95 Vending machine craziness ensued. We wanted a HOT chocolate. Georgia in the middle. See that? Creamy and smooth? 100 yen. Should be easy enough.
96 Feeding Ben between dry land and skating. Here honey, eat this?
97 He's got a cold, too, poor guy. Brought these because they have some juice in them for thirsty boys.
98 He's out on the ice with an ice hockey player who was in the Nagano Olympics. Pretty cool!
99 Meeting with all the other skaters.
100 The next day, Sunday, he spiked a fever of 101 in the morning after 10 days of illness. He was very fatigued and a horrible raspy cough. I decided to take him in to see a doctor. New country. New bugs. Decided to be safe. Only place open is the ER. So...looks very dramatic here in a hospital bed...but it was fine. Most likely a sinus infection.
101 He's practicing Hiragana while we wait.
102 And practicing how to draw the characters...
103 Open skate - completely dominated by figure skaters. There is a little huddle of hockey players trying to learn to hockey stop down at the end. Ben is in the yellow shirt on the right. He spotted someone in a red helmet and said "Hey! That guy looks SUSPICIOUSLY like Julian!" and ran off to find out. Julian is Ben's good friend from home.
104 This is still Sunday - the day we went to the ER. Ben is not skating in his practice so he brought his kindle and a sketch pad. He's been doing these incredible sketches of Pokemon characters entirely freehand. He gets the proportions just right. This is Mewtwo.
105 Ben checking on his graveyard and putting it back together after a wind storm.
106 Ben and I are reading this on the train. This seat says "Bounce you" at the top right according to Google translate. We both laughed at that. I think that means it folds out? Pretty cool we can read that! (Ha ne a ga ri ma su)
107 And I can read that Kanji! This is where we change trains. It's a Monday holiday and we're going to Shibuya to chase Pokemon. I also have on my list of things to see the Meiji Jingu shrine and Takeshita street. I mentioned to Ben that maybe we can find a stuffed Pikachu for him. He liked that idea a lot!
108 On the train to Shibuya. Sam looks like a real local now.
109 Looking down on the crazy crossing known for hundreds of people crossing at once in all directions.
110 Ben is funny here. We've been watching the debates over dinner. Turns out this is a night club.
111 Going to the Meiji Jingu shrine. This is a Japanese holiday as well - health and sports day. We might be nuts to go sightseeing on a Japanese holiday, but so be it. That was the time we had. Boys were well enough to get out.
113 A bride maybe?
114 Her wedding?
115 Waited in line 30 min for this ramen place to have a seat for us. You order with these vending machine style buttons and pay in advance.
116 We're HUNGRY!
119 And finally to Takeshit St!
120 This is madness. It's where there is a lot of cosplay and vendors hawking things and just a bit looser sort of crowd and ambiance than usually found (the Japanese people are in general a very quiet and sedate culture, very polite).
121 Doug, this is for you!
122 We survived! I found a stuffed Pikachu for Ben, and the most expensive Pikachu t shirt EVER. I got that before we found the little stuffed guy, darn it. I let Sam loose a couple times to go find some Pokemon, and reconnecting with him was interesting in that crowd (where it's impossible to hear on the phone, and texting takes too long when you've got a train to catch!) but we did it!
123 Going home! Very busy at the train stations. In order to not hold people up while I fiddled with the fare, I asked a local for help. I am not sure we ended up on the fastest route home, but we did get there! 1 hr 45 min later we were on familiar ground.
124 In the meantime I was listening to announcements about certain train cars not going on - staying in Zushi. I had heard about this potential for you to end up on a car that gets disconnected and you just stay put while the rest of the train goes on to your stop. I really didn't want that to happen at 6:30pm when boys needed food and rest before school the next day. So...up and down the train I went asking for clarification. I've got asking for direction down, and can read maps and signs. But my very very limited Japanese is not so good for "Is this one of the cars that is going to be stuck at the station?" Finally I just went down to the end of the train while it was moving (because clearly you can't disconnect cars while the train is in motion) and found people who weren't looking worried or about to move. The train stopped and they stayed put. Logic said it would move again, otherwise why would they just hang out on it? I felt like we were good...and we were. 10 min stop and we were off again. Whew!
125 Walking to the barn the next day, Tuesday the 11th. Many crops growing well.
126 This is the back side of a tree I photographed a week or two ago.
127 Tractors preparing the soil. They must truck it in? Looks very good to me.
129 Treats from Tomoe. Isn't she so very nice to send home treats for the boys?
130 Sam says they are very good, dense little cakes.
131 I finally got eggs from the little produce stand! I had to run to catch the bus with a dozen eggs in hand! Oops...not a dozen but 10. Metric dozen?
132 Sam bribing Ben to leave the playground with a snack.
133 It worked!
134 The neighborhood is alive with skaters! Roller derby is big here on base. I'm hoping to get roller hockey going, too.
135 I got my skates out and skated - felt great to be on them! I still had my breeches on from riding...
136 An evening jog to get some things at the commissary before Dave arrives back home.
137 Checking Pokemon Go for our distance.
138 Pikachu along for the ride. He goes everywhere he can ;)
139 Some lights are up now, too.
140 I'm starting a new sourdough starter. Some bubbles starting to appear!
141 Out on a jog to get my hair cut in the inaka - at a place I pass every day on my way to the barn. This looked interesting.
142 Dave would like this bike shop.
143 And this place seems to be a metal reclamation yard?
144 This will be interesting for kids I think!
145 Now I'm at MaSa getting my hair cut! Normally I'd do this at home, myself, but I decided to humor Dave with a professional cut and get an adventure in as well. I jogged 9K out to the place where I normally get off the bus and as luck would have it, she had time to take me!
146 We're trying Kendo at a small coastal town - in their elementary school gym.
147 Let me tell you, it's intense. I had NO idea what we were getting into.
148 The people are lovely and welcoming. And the kids were enchanted seeing Americans. Foreigners.
149 And they quickly roped me in, providing excellent instruction.
150 But, one thing you must know...the Japanese people are very meticulous in their craft, in everything they do. This is not your average backyard swordplay. This is a form of martial arts, with all the discipline you might imagine. But it's also LOUD.
151 We were off to the side trying to focus and you can imagine how much we wanted to watch!
152 Sam is getting very good at managing his work. He writes down what is due every day, including Fridays, so that we stay on top of things. I have on the bottom right the hockey schedule, which is different every week. This is part of why it's challenging to manage the calendar and I feel so busy just GOING to hockey practice. It's a moving target. Plus two tournaments back to back this month.
153 The neighbors like to come over - this is Megan burning flashcards from a recent HUGE test.
154 So...Fridays are for fires. I am using our Weber grill for now...
155 There they go!
157 Burning leaves, twigs...great for yard work. Kids pick up leaves, then enjoy burning them.
158 It's a little smoky at first. But no smoke detectors went off, thankfully. Dave was uneasy, poor guy.
159 Then some artwork with poker sticks. This is always fun.
163 Boys really enjoy sword fighting - these are broom handles.
165 A guy is riding around on top of a huge magnet to grab things I think? Those of you back home who enjoy frequenting such places - well, you were on my mind. What the heck is going on here?
166 Out on a family walk to find a local park, but we got distracted by the thought of having fish now that we don't have chickens!
167 Look at these cuties!!!
169 How could you not want one?
170 That's a cute fish. Not the one in the tank.
171 THIS ONE!
172 This is the same guy in the morning.
173 Now we're at hockey practice. This is a park around Nissan Stadium nearby. Very nice wildflower garden along a biking/running route.
175 The Mikoshi Parade on base. Big event. Lots of mini shrines to see.
178 Huge...we were so busy this weekend, though, that I really wanted to be away from people and it just wasn't to be ;)
179 on a jog up to Kinugasa park to find an approach up a mountain that i want to do. I saw Halloween decor and an ice cream cone and thought of Ben :)
180 Found the park, and this shrine. Nearly 100 years old. Built in 1916.
181 Mini tori gate to a little shrine.
182 Maybe a Ziggy shrine? (The neighborhood cat.)
183 How could you not explore up this little path?
184 What's up these worn steps?
185 Another TINY shrine.
186 Cute little animals around.
188 I'm getting soaked, though. And I can't see the lovely views...
189 But this is a sakura forest - cherry blossoms in the spring.
190 more trails...thinking this goes to Mt. Ogusu (Ogusuyama).
191 Many many stairs.
192 And more stairs. Slippery. But impossible to not explore.
194 This little guy is super cute!
195 I got to this sign and translated it. I'm still in Kinugasa Park but foiled in my attempt to find castle ruins and the trailhead to Ogusu due to a detour for construction. Oh well...there are three other approaches to check into. THis was the longest so possibly not the best anyway.
196 This is one entrance to Kinugasa Park from within a neighborhood. Tiny walkway between homes. It feels very European that way - streets give way to walkways that are ever narrower and windy.
197 This seems like a store I might like.
198 Things in bloom - Morning Glory?
199 And lantana?
200 Lumber yard on the way to the farm.
201 The tiny road I turn down to walk to the barn.
202 Cabbage ready for planting. I was curious if humans did this or a machine.
203 I got my answer later in the day.
204 And the little rooster I bring snacks for! So nice to have a chicken snack container on the counter for him!
205 Hi little buddy!
206 The barn at rest, on my way back to the bus, another day of adventure and connections with humans and animals. Such a treat, and hard work. I always enjoy the time to absorb and process it on the walk/bus home.
207 Mata raishu, guys!
208 Ben pointing out our neighbor's brilliant idea to post PTO meeting dates in chalk on all the entrances to school.
209 My yeast is SUPER active here. The bread dough rises very fast.
210 On a field trip with the Curtis Wilbur team at Sam's school.
211 We're at Miraikan Museum of Engineering and Innovation. Somehow I had 10 boys in my group. Thankfully I really enjoy boys of any age. It was VERY LOUD, though, on the bus.
212 Particle accelerator activity drew them in!
213 An android. Very creepy in its realism!
214 Morning sky from our culdesac. Sam wanted to get up early to see it.
215 And the light bouncing off the houses and trees. I always love morning light.
216 On a quick jog - this is the highest point on base.
217 To see it I had to get past some guards.
218 Bread coming out pretty well!
219 It's a Friday off of school for teacher development. The boys and I checked out Kannonzaki park with friends. Such an incredible array of activities for kids, and open space. It was very very nice.
220 Open space and gardens throughout the park.
221 This is Ben's good friend, Jackson. While we were there we were able to Skype with friends back in WA, so everyone was able to meet. We even took our Skype friends down this insane roller slide!
222 This is the SMALL slide.
223 We're enroute to the BIG one.
224 Here is a side view of maybe 1/3 of it.
225 Better to go down on a plastic "sled" but if you go down without one, on just your rump, you get a good glute massage!
228 Ben at the bottom of it. You hike back to the top for another go.
229 Sam noticed the signage included chickens. Cute :)
230 Sword fighting with found sticks.
231 And an ice cream vending machine! WHAT?!
232 We stopped on the way home at HOMES to find a stove for me. I was told by my barn friends that I can find one at a hardware store. This one is a traditional rice cooker, too.
233 You can put a bowl of rice on the top and it fits down into the furnace part.
234 I just loved making a fire and decompressing after a wild week.
235 The stove heated up fast, and the bread cooked well. Some neighbor friends dropped by for a glass of wine and a taste of the flat bread with babaganoush. The kids are all fascinated by "YEAST BREAD!" as if that is somehow different than regular bread ;)
236 Sam waiting for his game. It's early Sat morning and we're up at a different rink in Yokohama for a tournament.
237 Ben in his jersey and socks!
238 Look who we found? Jesse from our Bremerton hockey rink! He's back from sea. So nice to see him.
240 Scoreboard :)
241 Playing cross ice.
242 And bowing when done.
243 This rink is VERY cold, and I got to stay for Ben's games, then Sam's game, then goal judge for a game at 2pm, then race to our home rink 30 min across "town", throw down some pasta (which was very good) and then watch Ben's scrimmage against a team from Tokyo. They played for 90 min! After two games in the morning!
244 After the game or practice, the coaches always have a meeting.
245 They are delightful people, very positive yet also very serious about the game and developing skills. Here one of the coaches who speaks excellent English is talking to our two English speakers about what he said in the meeting.
246 "In Japan it is not polite to stand with your hands in your pockets during a meeting. I hope you understand. It is just our culture." He explained that he knows in America people often stand with their hands in their pockets (and he imitated the casual athlete stance back on his heels). Such nice people.
247 Now it's Sunday, and the tournament continues. Sam and his buddies are warming up with kids from two other teams. They scrambled three teams to make an entry for the tournament.
248 Sam competing in a relay race as part of the dry land warmup.
249 Looking for nature anywhere I can find it!
250 My rice cooker being employed to cook up some rice during the 4 hours I was home before heading up to ...guess? Yokohama again for Sam's practice.
251 Ben and Jackson. Note similar shirts. They're playing Legos and generally messing around. They also volunteered to do a number of chores - raking, cleaning windows and even laundry - in exchange for a "tip" of yen ;)
252 Dave checking out the bowl and wooden top to steam the rice.
253 From start to finish it was 20 min, including starting the fire.
254 Pretty amazing! I love it!
255 Some fall plants...
256 And the kids' little garden by the car port.
257 During Sam's Sunday practice, I tried to regain a sense of balance by skating around Nissan Stadium on my inline skates. The day had been a little nutty with respect to driving. I realized after paying one of the three tolls that I was out of cash. Had to find non-toll roads fast, orient using the sun to find the rink, and make no further mistakes to get to the rink on time. We still got there early, but it was not relaxed. And it was supposed to be, darn it! I had even spent time Sat night ensuring my route for the next morning wouldn't take me through the train station again! Only to be foiled by a wallet empty of cash. Then my parking ticket wouldn't validate, and a kind hockey mom had to call from the little phone at the pay machine. We ended up getting out free so that was nice! Then back home, chores, then up to Yokohama. I left Dave and Ben home both trips so they could chill. Back to the skating...I really needed to move after so much driving and stress. All went well...even found some paper towels lying about (we were out) so I counted myself very lucky! Until...
258 I realized that my parking ticket had flown out of my zippered pocked when I took my phone out at the end. OMG!!! I knew that would happen, I just knew it. So...back on the phone! This is one of those occasions where you just had to be there, but suffice to say another hockey dad hung out to see how this whole thing resolved (would it be $50? how would I handle explaining it in Japanese?). I started by saying good evening in Japanese then "Uh...I think we should try a little English for this!" My Google translate sessions lately have been VERY crazy. Lots of laughter, but hard to do that over the phone. Turns out there is an English speaking operator who conference-called in to help us. This process took some time, enough time for me to relax and enjoy the calm, courteous nature of the people on the other end of the line and loosen up a little. I explained I was standing there with no car because I wanted to get the process of escaping the lot started before 9pm when I would have a hungry boy with me. Later at the rink a couple of us were in absolute hysterics laughing about cultural differences and appreciating them with a sense of humor. The kids came off the ice, flopped on the benches, took their helmets off, and as if on cue hollered up to us "WHERE'S THE FOOD!!"