Still alive…

Uh, yeah, we’re still alive, just not writing about it.  The last post was at the end of July… so what has been going on for a month?  First and foremost it’s been hot.  We learned a new word from just hearing it so much – atsui – hot.

Despite the heat we’ve gotten out and about a few times.  We visit Patrick and his wife in Yokohama.  We spent a lot of the day walking around the city, checking out the nice parks and generally wearing Olivia out.  Unfortunately, in the process, we also wore Susan out pretty well and she came close to a passing out episode.  She didn’t and we were already on our way to their apartment for a late lunch so recovery wasn’t far away.  It did, however, put Susan into a bit of a sluggish mode for a week or so following.

The trip to Yokohama was good despite the heat.  We had a great time.  On our way out we took a boat across the bay to the main train station.  Olivia was very excited… but she feel asleep just a little before we got on board.  She was so asleep that we could demonstrate the depth of the sleep by messing with her – picking up and dropping her arms, etc.  I was amused.

In addition to Yokohama, we took a trip to Kamakura with Juan and Rie.  Juan had gotten his company car delivered and they invited us to go on a trip out of Tokyo with them.  The car ride was awesome – we got to see cool stuff like the Rainbow Bridge in addition to fully experiencing the madness that are the expressways around Tokyo.  There were so many merges, exits, turns, etc that you’d never, ever figure it out without a good navi system… and even with the navi is wasn’t easy.

Kamakura is well known for it’s really big Buddha statue, but amusingly we didn’t go visit that.  Instead we had a really fantastic lunch at a nice French restaurant next to the water.  There was a nice breeze, it was generally quiet, and we all enjoyed the time together.  It was the first time we had seen Juan and Rie for two or three weeks due to travel on their part.  The meal also marked an interesting first for Olivia – she ate calamari!  This came with no coaxing, no asking, nothing.  The plate was placed on the table near her, she reached over, grabbed the most squid-looking piece and shoved it in her mouth.  She devoured several pieces over the course of the next 5 or 10 minutes.

I had an awesome spaghetti dish completely full of mussels that was super delicious.  I have no recollection of other people’s food because I was so engrossed in my own.  After lunch we had dessert, which for Olivia was chocolate truffles that were really great… we had to help her eat 2 of the 4, mostly to avoid the sugar high that was going to come quickly afterwards.

Once we’d finished eating Susan took Olivia over to the little beach area near the restaurant.  They were planning on dipping their toes in the water – the first time for Olivia to be in the ocean – but Olivia stumbled a bit and ended up sitting in it.  So, covered in wet sand, she melted down, the sugar high crashing against nap time.  We did our very best with our handkerchiefs to wipe her down, but she was still pretty coated once we got in the car.

From there we had intended on visiting a few of the sites in the area – the bamboo forest and / or the Buddha – but it was getting a bit late in the day and Susan and I had plans in Tokyo that evening.  We felt really bad about asking our wonderful hosts to head back so quickly after arriving, but they were quite gracious.  Olivia slept for most of the ride home, waking once we were back in Tokyo.  Unfortunately, being covered in sand and sleepy, at some point she got sand in her eye.  We were having flashbacks to the eyeliner / corneal abrasion from earlier in the year as we tried to convince her to blink and not touch.  Once we were home, Susan flush Olivia’s eyes and shoved her into the shower to get the sand off.  That seemed to do the trick as we never heard any more about it.

That evening we went to Tennozu Isle to meet Chika, her husband and daughter.  We’d met Chika at a birthday party the week before.

Oh – I guess I should mention that, too!  We went to a birthday part for our friend Chie who Susan finally met for the first time that night.  It was at a Mexican restaurant near my office.  We met a number of new people and Olivia impressed everyone with good behavior in addition to a good grasp of how to play with an iPhone.  You can find a number of those photos on Facebook.

Anyway, back to the dinner with Chika.  It was at a pier-side brewery and we had seating on the patio.  Again, there was a nice breeze and a pleasant temperature.  I got the wheat brew that they brew on site – my first microbrew beer in ages and it was delightful.  Dinner was great, too – a huge seafood platter to start and great food in the main course.  Olivia played well with Izabelle, their 7 (?) month old.  She also played a bit with the children at the table next to ours, even charming them into sharing some fruit and birthday cake with her!

I’ve also done a lot of planning lately preparing for Christine’s trip to Tokyo.  This will be somewhat of a family vacation for us, what with generally “adopting” Christine when she moved to Nashville last year.  We’ll be visiting parts of Japan other than Tokyo, riding the shinkansen, etc.  The plan is to go to Aomori in the very north of the main island where we’ll visit a castle that is actually mostly original, as well as temples and such.  Then we’ll go see a bit of nature, walking along a beautiful stream where, hopefully, the leaves will have started to change their colors.  We’re also planning to visit a big horse park / playground thing up there.  From the north we’ll return to Tokyo briefly and then head over to Fuji.  I figured if she’s coming all the way over, she should see the icon… plus Susan and Olivia haven’t seen it… and I suppose I can’t say I’ve seen it either because all I did was walk up the side in the dark.

It’ll be great to have her over, as she and Olivia get along well and she fits in with us really well.  Plus, she’s one of the people that makes being away from Nashville tough.  If we could just find so way to have our friends and family a little bit closer, Tokyo would be even better.  Of course that isn’t to say we don’t love our new friends, too – it’ll be equally tough to leave them when the time comes.

I’m also preparing for a trip to India – I leave Tokyo on the 10th for a week.  It isn’t too much fun thinking about leaving Susan and Olivia behind in a city they aren’t completely settled in, but I think we’ve built a pretty good support system so far that can help out.

Olivia is still enjoying her daycare twice a week.  Susan and I continue to do our Japanese lessons and are slowly getting more comfortable with simple words and phrases.  I can generally handle big numbers at this point, but it’s still tough to process it from a native speaker at the normal speed.  Oh – and big numbers here are a bit odd because they change on 4 zeros, not 3.  For example: 10,000 is ten thousand in English, right?  It’s 1 man in Japanese.  (say “man” like you’re Jamaican 😉 )  This, of course, slows down your thinking just a little more.

Today (Saturday) was quite lazy and now (10p) it’s raining hard outside.  There is a typhoon moving toward / across the western part of the country so we’re getting the outer bands of drenching rain.  Tomorrow it’s likely to continue to rain, but we plan to visit the shopping district in Ginza, as that will be new for Susan.  The plan is also to go get cell phones for use here in Japan.  After some debate I’ve decided to go for the iPhone because of the simplicity of it.  You see, getting a cell phone here is really, really complicated in most cases, but the iPhone is one with very few choices involved.  Someone joked that it’s easier and quicker to get a bank account than it is a phone.  Once we’ve got smart phones in hand we’ll be able to use Skype on the go for phone calls that won’t require us to be tethered to the computer.  For those of you with phones that can run Skype – get it installed so we can talk easily!

I’ll have some photos to share shortly… tonight if I can keep focused.  Sorry about the long delay in writing, maybe we’ll be better for a bit.  Maybe. 🙂

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