Postcript to my post earlier. Putting Ray to bed took ages and shortly after I left the room and settled in front of the comforting glow my computer screen reflected in my glass of wine he started crying…’Daddy, Daaaddy, Daaaaaaaaaady….’

I begrudgingly scampered back into the room I had just spent an easy hour and, climbing back into bed asked ‘What’s wrong Ray?’

‘Daddy, I lost you.’

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More rice and mountains — that’s what I’ve got going on these days. These particular mountains and this particular rice is local; we are back in Kanazawa. I took Ray for a drive this afternoon in hopes of coaxing him to sleep, unsuccessfully, but he didn’t object to my frequent pulling over and jumping out of the car to take pictures.

I also did a little land hunting for the ideal place for Chieko and I to build a house, and while I would be happy living where these pictures were taken it is outside of Chieko’s zone of sanity. She needs more civilization, whereas I’m of the mind that civilization is highly overrated. But I can sympathize for the future of our children, who probably wouldn’t have many other kids to play around with, and god knows where the school is out in those sticks.

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Speaking of houses, and our ability to buy/build one, I have been approved for permanent residency. It took just over five months, and I’ll head down to immigration tomorrow with my 8,000 yen revenue stamp, passport picture, and the postcard I received from immigration telling me to bring all of those things, and hopefully I’ll walk out not having to worry about renewing visas ever again. This relates to buying a house in that as a permanent resident I am eligible for a bank loan. Since I’m the only one working at the moment we’ll do the house-buying in my name.

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Which leads us to Tuesday, when we are meeting yet again with a real estate dude to go look at plots of land. We still haven’t found anything that falls into the happy medium between Chieko and my expectations/demands, and I’ve done my own poking around in the area where we are going. It’s nice and the plots are larger and cheaper than most we have found, but I still don’t get that ‘We could live here!’ vibe from the place. We’ll see. I’ve amended my expectations pretty substantially over the past year, but I don’t think I can settle on anything we’ve found so far. But I enjoy exploring for property and it’s always a learning experience, so no big rush.

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Summer vacation is ostensibly continuing for another few weeks, but I have some work to do so I’ll be heading back to the office towards the middle of this week to start chipping away at it. Over the break our offices have been moved into a fancy new building that has been going up over the past year. I’m excited about that since my former office is kind of old and crappy, but I also need to unpack all the boxes and set everything up before I can start aforementioned chipping away.

Nothing else much going on here. Perhaps my life is actually too boring to maintain a blog? I keep meaning to go to beach and swim — how can it be mid-August and I’ve yet to dip my toes in? Best hurry before the giant jellyfish drift into town, if they aren’t already here. OK then, time to slug a glass of wine and call it a day. Good night.

Another day, another bike ride, as that seems a more productive way of passing the hours than starting to drink in the early afternoon. I explored some new and some old areas today, focusing more on taking pictures than on getting a rigorous workout. I took what I thought were quite a few nice pictures but onceĀ  I got them uploaded the majority are underwhelming. I’m also using the inlaw’s computer which has a pretty raunchy display, so I can’t really tell what these things look like.

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We’re heading back to Kanazawa tomorrow, as I mentioned in my previous post, an I’m quite ready. I usually really like spending time here in Niigata, but this time around I would have rather been spending time in our own place. After a stressful few weeks full of sick kids (and adults) and hot summer weather, I am feeling a bit out of sorts and lounging around here sitting on the floor (there is literally zero furniture in this house) isn’t helping me reclaim my peace of mind. But, it is wonderful to have some extra hands to help out, and of course grandparents and grandchildren are all thrilled to see each other.

Our internet was down for some reason when we left a few days ago and I don’t know if it’ll be working when we get back, so it may be a while before my next post — but I think my dwindling readership is used to infrequency at this point. And hell, two posts in two days, and what, three in a week? Sounds like momentum to me. Hope everyone is doing well, and those of you in Japan are enjoying the Obon holidays. Until next time…

We made it to Niigata yesterday with little incident aside from leaving the house around the time I was hoping that we’d have been arriving at Chieko’s parent’s house. I’ve grown accustomed to my scheduling ideals being shattered at this point. What I’m having a harder time with is Ray’s recent devolution into a whiney little puss who’s immediate reaction to any sort of bump in the road is to cry or whine, or most often, both. As he sleeps peacefully and adorably beside me now I feel bad writing that, but I was pulling my hair out all day at his incessent unhappiness.

At my first opportunity I jumped on my bike and road into the mountains to blow off some steam. I’ve taken similar pictures before, but this area is so beautiful, it doesn’t get old.

We’re heading back to Kanazawa on Friday, so another full day here to do…what? There isn’t much to do, especially since the farm is in a lull between harvesting watermlons and rice, plus tomorrow is a national holiday and Chieko’s parents wouldn’t be working anyway. We’ll figure something out, I’m sure.

Here are some pictures.

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Summer 2012

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Wow…now labeling posts according to seasons. I wish I had more time to blog as it would be a reflection of me getting out and doing interesting things, but it’s been all hands on deck here recently taking care of two kids and maintaining the facade of having our shit together. Facade might be too strong a word; I think we do have our shit together, but only barely. And now I’m on summer vacation, however brief it may seem, so in theory there could be some more action around here for a few weeks. Accept that on my first day of vacation everyone got sick, again. And I’m learning that in terms of fostering sanity working is far easier than being home with two (sick) kids all day. Hopefully things will smooth out for a few days at least.

I took Ray out into the rice paddies this afternoon in part to pry him away from the tv/ipad/iphone, and in part to take some pictures. After bribing him with the prospect of special treats he enthusiastically allowed for some photos.

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Leo, despite coughing like he smokes 2 packs a day, is doing well. He’s a happy baby when he isn’t suffering from some debilitating virus that he’s contracted from his brother. And even then he’s good for a smile now and then.

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I love this tree; I’ve featured it here before. It’s a persimmon tree in the middle of the rice fields. I’m glad whoever chopped down all the trees long ago to make rice paddies left this one, or at least planted it retroactively.

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It’s been five months since I applied for permanent residency and I’m still waiting. I’m not in any huge rush but still feel the urge to have it granted to me. In the meantime we’ve been pretty actively looking at land to eventually buy and build a house on. Land is expensive here compare to what one could get for the same money in the States, so it’s disheartening in that regard but it’s reality. Chieko and I have differing ideals when it comes to where and how we want to live, so we’re obviously looking for something that meets both of our expectations as much as possible. I really enjoy searching for property and looking at old houses though, so I’m enjoying it, but I wish there were more options. Japanese people are not only content, but actually highly value, living in ‘convenient’ places — crammed together on shoebox plots of land that are near main roads, train stations, supermarkets, well situated amid the sprawl. For me this is a nightmare. They also have a different definition of convenient than me, and I dare say other westerners/Americans. For me, a supermarket that is a 15-minute drive away is convenient; for my wife, that is far. I’m sure there will be more blog posts addressing the topic of home ownership though, especially once we actually start making real decisions. There are not a lot of English resources regarding the home-buying process in Japan, so if nothing else I’d like to chronicle our experience here.

My neighbor’s 16-year-old daughter has a crew of friends over tonight for a BBQ. I’m amazed at how much noise 10 sober girls can make. They’re lighting off fireworks and screaming like mad, periodically venturing up to the window next to which I am sitting, typing like a crazed foreigner, to attempt some English interaction. Our house, and this table that I’m sitting at, is a complete disaster so I hope they are too focused on formulating cheesy English phrases in their heads to notice the mess.

And that’s the dirt from this end. We are heading to Chieko’s parent’s place within the next few days, as soon as everyone is fit to sit in a car for several hours. I’m bringing my bike and hope to ride all around taking lots of pretty pictures. We’ll see how that works out!