Afternoon Bike Ride

I spent the better part of the day at a friend’s making a new batch of beer (see Bill’s blog at the bottom of the page if you’re into that sort of thing). It was another beautiful day, so when I got home around 3 I wanted to get out and do something to atone for the several brews I had put back during the brewing process. Running seemed like too much of an effort, so the logical choice was to go for a bike ride.

I had in mind a road on the other side of the river that is closed to traffic but you could theoretically walk or cycle along it if you had the mind to. I didn’t make it too far up that road before hitting a stretch that was still covered and snow and other winter debris, so I turned around. I will head back in a few weeks.

My second choice was this road that winds up into the woods and I’m assuming into the mountains, but I didn’t get that far today.

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Japan, was I’ve mentioned before, is full of roads like this that seem to have no tangible purpose aside from providing jobs to the people who construct them. Man-made roads running through man-made forests. I’m not complaining though since I’ve head many fun times exploring them.

I was pressed for time today so I didn’t venture too far into the forest. That, and I’m scared of encountering a drowsy, starving bear this time of year. Japanese bears are relatively small and I haven’t heard of one actually killing a person, but they can no doubt lay a good mauling on you and I don’t need that. So I hope to explore this road further at some point with else along with me.

Here are some pics of the forest; the sun setting through the trees was really nice, nicer than these pictures.

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Today was Ray’s first day at his new daycare, the one they just finished building at our school. It’s a very nice facility, and as I mentioned there is only one other kid there. 2:1 teacher/student ration is pretty great, but I wish there were a few more kids for Ray (and the other dude) to socialize with. Hopefully with time more kids will come. He only went for two hours, and was a mess pretty much the entire time. Not very surprising, and I hate to leave him in such a hysterical state, but he’ll get used to it soon enough (I hope).

Chieko’s parents came to visit yesterday. Her father drove back to Niigata today, and her mom is staying another day or so. They are not here to see us, obviously.

I think that’s about it from here. I have to start going to bed at a reasonable hour to get back on schedule for work, which starts Friday (I finally figured out when April 1 is!). So, good night.

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Last Hurrah?

For those who could care less about pictures of my kid, this post is for you. You will find zero pictures of Ray, and little mention of him in this post. They seem to be few and far between these days, despite my proclamation when he was born that this would not devolve into a baby blog, so enjoy the pretty pictures.

I have had the day to myself since Chieko and the boy went off to visit a friend in the neighboring prefecture this morning, and are having such a jolly time that they’ve yet to return. How did I maximize this Casey-time? I started out with a visit to the chiropractor, followed by a trip to the gym, then lunch and coffee with a friend, which led to me hitting every convenience store between there and here buying up bottles of water, since I’m starting to get slightly antsy at the fact that that nuclear plant is still not under wraps and in fact is now oozing nasty shit into the ocean, after which I came home and strummed the guitar for a bit before jumping back into the car and racing down to the beach to try and capture the very photogenic sky and ocean in digital. I’m pretty sure that sentence grammatically AOK despite its length. I’ve since cooked up some dinner and am now settling down to a bottle of wine and this blog, kotatsu draped firmly over myself.

It would seem counter-intuitive to say that winter is clinging by the skin of its teeth as there are snowflakes falling periodically, but I swear (or at least hope) that we are not long for spring. I’m pretty sure (or at least hoping) that this is winter’s last blast.

When I took off for the beach the sun was high above the storm front that appeared to be swiftly shimmying up the coast, and I thought I might get to see a pretty good sunset. That was not to be, not even close, but the lighting and the clouds and the ocean were looking pretty sweet regardless.

I usually take a road that runs atop the levee next to the Tedori River. It offers a little-trafficked, stoplight/stop sign free path directly to the sea. The scenery is much nicer than the normal roads as well, flanked on one side by the river and on the other by rice paddies, with a nice panorama of Hakusan and its surrounds.

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I was surprised by the color of the ocean today, figuring it would be much darker considering the low clouds and lack of sun.

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It wasn’t long before the front came rushing in; I guess it wasn’t going up the coastline so much as riding up onto it. I headed back towards our house, snapping some pics of the mountains in between snowflakes.

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Not too much else happening here. We still need to unpack, and though I arrived back in Japan intent on making an emergency/earthquake supply kit one of my first priorities, I have been lulled back to complacency by how normal things are here. Hopefully I/we can accomplish those two things by the end of the weekend.

Otherwise, starting to turn my brain back (slightly) towards the idea of working, as we are heading back to reality on the 1st. I’m still not sure what day that is, but I know it’s soon!

Hope you’re having a lovely weekend. Time to focus on the wine.

Bubble Boy

Life continues on here on the quiet side of Japan, perhaps abnormally normal considering what is happening on the east coast. The nuclear plant drama is unfolding with an uneasy slowness, overshadowing the personal tragedies that must abound. We’ve donated to the Red Cross, and we aren’t really in any position to head over and offer hands-on help, so the best thing we can do is appreciate and be thankful for the normalcy that we are fortunate enough to have. So that’s what we’ve doing.

While were in America, Ray discovered bubbles. It’s pretty funny how he reacts to them – very giddy and amazed, and of course he must track them down and pop them. If you have a young child and haven’t exposed him or her to bubbles, I highly recommend it.

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The morning was beautiful, but in the afternoon it got snowy and otherwise wintery again. During a break in the weather I took Ray out for a short walk. I was sure there would be a rainbow.

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There wasn’t, but the mountains and light were still very nice.

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I threw Ray on my shoulders for the walk home and aimlessly pointed the camera up in his direction, which resulted in a few cool pictures.

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But as swiftly as the weather changes here in Kanazawa, so do the fortunes of Ray’s young life. Returning home, it was time to inflict some trauma on the boy – haircut. I generally resist cutting his hair because I like his hair a little wild and long, plus I don’t want him to have the generic little-boy haircut that most boys get. Nevertheless, even I realized it was time to give him at least a bit of a trim. Poor guy, we put him in his high chair and he did his “itadakimasu” hand clap and bowed, thinking he was about to get a meal. Not so much.

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As far as the non-Ray facets of my life, I really haven’t been doing anything exciting. I’ve been exercising every day either at the gym or on my bike, and I played tennis today and yesterday. It balances out the copious amounts of wine and food that I’ve been enjoying. We have to go back to work at some point next week, though to be honest I’m not sure when – whatever day April 1st is, I think. I heard that one of the new teachers that was hired to join our staff has bailed out, and common sense would dictate that they are American and worried about radiation. Can’t really fault anyone for being freaked out though. If I were about to start a new job in a foreign country that has just experiences an earthquake, tsunami, and is fighting off nuclear disaster, I’d certainly have second thoughts too. Hell, if I lived in the Kanto region of Japan I don’t know if we would have come back from America last week. The result is more work for me and the rest of the teaching staff, but that is small peanuts in terms of inconvenience in Japan these days. You may not be able to find water or toilet paper, but perspective sure as is easy to come by.

That’s the deal from my life, hope all is well in yours. Good night.

Jet Lag Strikes Again

I am always much less jet-lagged coming back to Japan than I am when I go back to the US. Chieko and I can more or less slip back into a normal human schedule off the bat. Ray, on the other hand, is having a more difficult time. He sleeps for vast amounts of time during the day (which would be awesome if he did that normally), then wakes up at midnight, as he just did. Even when he does wake up, he can’t seem to get very far.

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While slept, I have been learning about all sorts of cool stuff I can do with the iPad. This thing really is really cool, if only I can learn how to use it to its full potential. Anyway, off to bed.

Down On the Farm

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We got back home last night, safe and sound. The trip, minus a few hiccups, was about as painless as one could hope when traveling economy halfway around the world with a one year old, to a country that just experienced a giant earthquake and tsunami and is on the brink of nuclear catastrophe. Every time I was tempted to bitch about some element of our trip I quickly remembered the people here who are really suffering, and that shut me up pretty quickly.

Kanazawa, being on the west coast of Japan and far away from all the destruction, appears to be unscathed by the recent events. I was curious whether the supermarket would be sold out of a lot of things, since people everywhere have been stocking up on water, food, and other supplies. But our local supermarket was fine; they even had loads of toilet paper, which Chieko was concerned enough about to bring some back with us from the US.

The price of gas has gone up substantially, but there are no limits as to how much you can buy like some places are experiencing. I read a lot of blogs written by fellow expats, and many of them have experienced the earthquake’s figurative and literal aftershocks much more immediately than us. We are fortunate.

On our last day back on Cape Cod, we took a ride to the barn where my aunt keeps her horse. She’s been trying to get us to come down and meet her horse for a long time, but it’s inevitably cold or rainy or we are busy doing something else. Ray seems to love animals (as I guess all kids do), so I really wanted him to meet his first horse.

He seemed a bit overwhelmed at first with such a large beast, and he never got too excited about it. I, on the other hand, think horses are pretty cool. In our age of cars and planes and all manner of motorized forms of transportation, I find the idea of getting on an ANIMAL and riding it around kind of cool.

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We all took turns sitting on the horse.

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A very awkward picture. Ray is all crumpled up, and I look I have a tight grip on something other than the saddle horn.

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So that’ that — another trip in the books. It always seems like such an impossible task, dragging our crap with us to the airport and wiling away all the hours on the plane, and when it’s all said and done I wonder how it all happened.

Jet lag is always less severe than it is when we go east, but I still have a touch that’s going put to me in bed in the very near future. Good night.