Monthly Archives: October 2008

I finished something!

Okay, technically, a half each of two somethings. Socks are complicated that way.

Some of you may have noticed that the knitting dropped off precipitously when I arrived in Japan. Probably because my sitting in front of the internet time was severely curtailed.

However, every year, I participate in 14valentines, a community geared towards raising awareness about womens’ issues. For the first fourteen days of February for the past three years (though the first year was a single person effort), people have posted stories, essays, recipes, and pictures to draw attention to specific issues facing women today. For the past two years, I have participated by posting about a knitted object of mine (or a group of knitted objects) each day for the whole period.

Just thinking about that and planning my list of items for 2009 was enough to get the itch going again. I promptly dragged out my needles and yarn…and finished two socks from two different pairs. Right. Whoops.

The blue sock on the left is the first of a pair of Naragansett Bay Socks, from the book A Fine Fleece by Lisa Lloyd. The yarn is the Dolphin colorway of Knit Picks’ Gloss. I love this yarn and wish it came in more colors. Knit up in this pattern, it’s very smooshy and warm.

I’ve already started on the second sock, because the pattern is easy enough to memorize and knit on the train. Gives the Japanese people something to stare at besides my hair.

The sock on the right is one of a pair of Slippery Socks, available free from the online knitting magazine Knitty. The yarn is Mountain Colors Bearfoot, that I got from a friend for my birthday last year. I’m a little worried that I didn’t bring enough to finish the second sock here in Japan, but experience has taught me that I’m almost always wrong about these things. The pattern isn’t too difficult, but it’s definitely not train-proof. I only finished it because there was only about three or four inches left to go when it made it’s international voyage. Definitely boot sock quality, so I’m looking forward to January in Minnesota.

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On the Beach

But never mind the bad literary references. This past Sunday, I took a drive with Lisa and her host family to the ‘beach’. I use quotes because there was no sand involved, just rocks and freezing cold water.

First, lunch. After we finished drivng to the ocean, the first place that we stopped was at a seafood place to eat. From the moment we walked in, we knew those fish were doomed.

At least it died artistically. Well, I say ‘died’ but in reality the fish was still gasping and flipping around when it got to our table. I’m not talking about some kind of measly twitching motion, this thing was giving its all at the whole ‘breathing out of water’ thing. I’ve regretted few things since coming to Japan, but not getting film footage of that fish is one of them. They had to take the poor thing away and divide the sashimi up onto separate plates for us.

Yeah. This one kind of speaks for itself.

After lunch, we went walking around the area. As you can see, lots of rocks, not so much sand.

I think the Japanese people are a little more concerned with the sea washing them away than with enjoying it.

It was a little chilly, so we mostly hung around on the rocks and messed with whatever we could find in the tide pools.

Now, the only living things I’ve ever encountered on beaches have been seagulls, hermit crabs and jelly fish, so it was fun to poke these little guys and see them close up, attempting to nibble my fingers.

Finally, a bonus picture of the other little dude around here, eating his car shaped bento, which I thought was really fun.

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Mini Monster Turns 3

Once again, I can do this because it is October 22…somewhere. This is the creature himself, wearing the cowboy shirt my mom picked up for him in Texas. He seemed pretty happy with it and I got in a few ‘modeling’ shots before he lost patience.

We managed to get about three hours of good behavior out of him by saying things like ‘would a grown-up three-year-old throw food on the floor?’ or ‘would a big boy scream when we have to turn the TV off for dinner?’ It only lasted until he started declaring that he wanted to be two forever.

They’ve been spreading the birthday stuff out over a week so that he doesn’t explode with kid crazies. They went out to dinner with a another family with toddlers on Sunday, he got a cute card from his preschool on Tuesday (complete with a current picture of him and a handprint), and ‘yesterday’ he and his mom went to Tokyo to meet his dad, who was trapped on a business trip.

In other news, I have obtained my first Japanese-style cold. No, I haven’t yet given in to the urge to wear a mask like everybody else.

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Photo Dump

While putting together last week’s post, there were a lot of photos that I wanted to use, but couldn’t, since they didn’t fit with the narrative or had been taken on the wrong day.

So think of these as the deleted scenes.

This is the view from the mountain near Shirakawa-go. A bit of a hike to get up there, but pretty awesome scenery.

Another Cosmo flower, like the ones from the previous post.

There were fields of flowers all over the place.

I have no idea why this tree is wrapped up like a Christmas present, but I think my mom would like it.

A lot of the stores in the village, instead of having a fridge for drinks, kept them outside in this neat little set-up. It was actually pretty efficient at keeping the water and Ramune chilled.

Right before we left, I snuck down the bank and took a few pictures of the water, which was freezing.

We were taken on a tour of the forest at the Shirakawa-go Eco Institute. This bell is for alerting bears to our prescence. Hopefully in a time-to-leave kind of way and not in a dinner-is-served kind of way.

It’s hard to see, but most of these dogs are wearing little demon costumes, complete with tiny black wings.

At the famer’s market, most people were selling flowers, chili peppers and apples.

Pears too, as Phil demonstrates here.

Finally, a view of Takayama from the hill we attempted to climb on the way to the park.

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1000 Hits!

As of right this instant, WordPress’ Blog Stats tells me that my blog has received exactly 1,000 hits. Thank you everyone!

As a special treat, first person to comment can name their souvenir from Japan. (Obviously, if you are in Japan, you are disqualified)

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October’s Twelve on the Twelfth

Because even though it’s noon on the thirteenth here, it’s the twelfth…somewhere.

The day started in Takayama, where we had parked ourselves last night after traveling through parts north of Nagoya. I forgot to take a picture of breakfast, so this first picture is of Joanna and Lisa standing in front of our enormous yellow tour bus. This was taken about a minute before we moved off to the side and almost got flattened by a second bus pulling into its spot.

This is the garden at the first place we stopped that morning, the former Takayama city hall. It was a fairly traditional Japanese style building built in the 1600s and used up until 1969 and came complete with gardens, living quarters, and, of course…

Instruments of torture. This is in fact a basket that they used to transport ‘suspects,’ which, according to our tour guide, seemed to indicate ‘criminals who have not yet confessed.’

From there, we checked out the farmer’s market that was going on outside and sampled bits of apple. Amy actually bought one, but it was so huge she had trouble getting her teeth into it.

Afterwards, we headed over to a shopping arcade that offered a lot of local products and food. These kids are doing what I would have been if I were about ten years younger – checking out the water running through all these little canals in front of the houses and shops and down to the water.

Dude cooking up some enormous rice crackers in the same area.

We had lunch at a noodle place and I noticed these red shoes in the pile as we were leaving. They’re One Piece shoes and I would love to know where I could find a pair in my size.

After lunch, we decided to head to a park that the map indicated was close to where we had to meet the bus. Unfortunately, the map neglected to mention the giant hill the park was perched on. We got about halfway up before giving up, though the view was excellent.

That afternoon, we headed out to a craft center that was situated in a little ‘village’ of old houses that had been moved to the area to preserve them. In most of the houses, somone was demonstrating a traditional craft that you could usually try your hand at.

IES had already arranged for us to paint designs onto plates (that will be delivered to us later) so must of us finished up quickly and took off to explore the area.

I decided to see if I could find a convenience store for snacks and started wandering down the hill. In one of those ‘I’ll just go one block further…or maybe around this corner…?’ situations, I found myself a bit lost.

Okay, really lost.

No, just kidding, this is a park commemorating the relationship between the city of Denver and Takayama-shi. I called our tour director and he has the bus pick me up at the bottom of the hill.

That was the end of our tour and we drove home to Nagoya that evening. I took this as we were driving out of Takayama.

Finally, a bonus picture from Saturday, because I totally would have used it if it had been taken on the right day. This is an example of the canals I mentioned earlier and why I would have been out with popsicle sticks and wood glue every weekend if I lived around here as a kid.

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Kita Ward, the Expanded Version

If someone had told me that the largest use of my free time in Japan would be reading massive amounts of science fiction and manga I would have, first, agreed with them, second given them a very odd look, because that’s what I end up doing everywhere.

I f someone had told me that the second largest use of my free time in Japan would be riding around on a bike and taking pictures, I probably would have laughed until I cried and then directed them to my younger brother.

But. They would have been right.

About a week ago, I noticed that there was a river marked on my map of the neighborhood. It was just beyond the department store I go to, so I knew that it was close enough to bike to. ‘River’ in Arizona means ‘large dry ditch between parts of town that fills with water every ten years and washes away anyone dumb enough to drive through it’ so I was eager to see an actual flowing body of water up close.

First, however, I had to get up these stairs. After some thought, I fireman-carried the bike up, figuring that if the single Japanese couple around decided to tell everyone, nobody would believe them.

Most of these were taken from the large pedestrian/bicycle-only bridge that I crossed.

Despite the overcast skies, there were plenty of teenagers and a few families hanging out by the banks. No fishermen that I saw, though there was someone flying a remote control helicopter.

There was a soccer field with goalposts set up. Nobody playing though.

On the other side of the bridge was a neighborhood very similar to my own, though with no apartment buildings and more houses and small shops. This garden appeared to be shared by the residents of the houses surrounding it.

One more river picture.

On the way back, I took a different bridge than before and encountered a different staircase, that I wish I had known about before.

One specifically designed for people to roll their bikes up. D’oh.

Next post will probably be 12 on the 12th, or the Wheneverth. I’ll be in Takayama, a nearby city on Sunday, so hopefully there will be plenty to show you guys.

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