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Friday, April 30, 2010

Non-stop to Seattle, here we come!

Our last night in Tokyo has been nothing short of quintessential.

  • Massage
  • Conveyor belt Sushi
  • Senso-ji Temple - Round 2
  • Hostel
  • 3 trains and a lot of stairs with 50lbs of luggage

It has been a great trip but I'm ready to be in the comforts of my own bed, a real shower and to see all your smiling faces! 

Now for a good night's sleep on the top bunk....

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Real Vacation

It's been officially 2 days of real vacation, and by real vacation I mean eating, sleeping and not moving.  Here's what we've done:

+In 24 hours Julie and I ate an entire Paula Dean pumpkin pie that Sara baked from scratch.  Judge all you want.  Plus, she just put a pecan pie in the oven.  Mmmmm...

+Naked time at the onsens.  Check your body image issues at the door, get naked with a couple other naked Japanese women, soak in 108 degree hot spring water and relax.  Today's onsen had a heated outdoor pool that looked over a pond and a waterfall.  Hot bath, cold bath, sauna, scrub down, repeat. It's good for your muscles, joints, skin.  Genius.

+Read The Reader. Wasn't impressed. 

+I got the final Jeopardy! question right tonight. The correct question:  Who was Lord Byron? I was even impressed with myself considering I loathe (most) poetry with most of the fibers of my being. 

+Went bowling, maybe strained my right bicep with an 8 lb ball. Note to self: start lifting weights as soon as possible. 

+Shopping:  Too bad the American dollar is in the crapper and everything is outrageously expensive so we've been to several 100 yen stores.

+Had a lengthy conversation with Brother-in-Law about his job as a fighter pilot, moral implications and the eventual obsolete-ness of war, and the media's representation of the military.  Very interesting.

Tomorrow we have massages scheduled before making the trek back to Tokyo for our last day in Japan.  It's probably good we're leaving soon before I get too used to this.  Pie, massages, facials, shopping, what isn't to love?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Japan Rocks My Socks

After 3 bullet trains totaling 6.5 hours combined with a prior 10 days of serious traveling and sleeping/showering in hostels, we have arrived safe and sound to the luxuries of modern Western amenities of my sister's house in Misawa, Japan. A hot shower, a real towel, clean clothes, a cup of tea and some chocolate does wonders for the mind, body and soul.  My sister is the hostess with the mostest baking gluten-free banana bread and providing us with all the necessary supplies for manicures and facials.  I feel like a new woman.

While I will do an appropriate vaca-recap upon my return, here a just a few of the sights we've seen, things we've done, foods we've eaten, etc.

I have no clue what the name of this is but it was pretty freakin' sweet.

Imperial Gardens and Castle in Tokyo

In the cable car up to Mt. Fuji viewing area

Maybe I ate a black egg.  Maybe it was delicious.

Oompas at Mt. Fuji...promise it's there.

No vaca is complete without ice cream!

Cherry Blossoms = gorgeous

Guess which bag is mine?

Torri Gates in Kyoto

Huge Buddha in Kyoto

"Golden Pavilion" in Kyoto

World's Largest Buddha, Nara, Japan

We've got a few more days of adventures ahead of us before we make the long journey home.  Can't wait to see you all!


Monday, April 26, 2010

Zen Master Travelers/Walkers

Well, we are on day 9, maybe 10?, and we have now achieved the level of zen master travelers/walkers.  We have been all over this country from the top of Mt. Koya in Koya-san through the port city of Osaka and have spent a couple days here in Kyoto taking in the sights and food. Here are some highlights:
  • Julie ordered sushi for lunch today - it came with a bowl of a couple hundred tiny fish with eyes staring at her.  She could not eat the poor critters.  Can you blame her?
  • I ate beef today for the first time in quite a while.  It was delicious and did not kill me.
  • The night on Mt. Koya with the monks was quite the experience. It was also below freezing.  With our propane heater we couldn:t decide if we were going to freeze to death or be gased to death.  We survived but I have not been that freezing cold in quite a long time.
  • Julie also thought it to be a great idea to walk through the Buddist graveyard at sundown.  Let:s just say our walk out was a tad faster than the stroll in. 
  • Not gonna lie, I:m a big fan of the onsen, bars where you can wear slippers, visiting museums where you wear no shoes and Inari sushi.  Big fan. 
  • We spent the better part of a day trying to remember the name of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle master that our tour guide had a striking resemblence; Master Splinter in case you were curious. 
  • Last night the "house band" sang int he bar downstairs. Our favorite Japanese weve met to date works at the reception desk and is also the guitar player in the band.  He maybe stole our hearts.   
  • I:ve been taking som pretty serious allergery meds, that I can only take at night.  This means I:ve been getting a solid 10 hours of sleep.  With all the fresh air, exercise and meds, I am out like a light, all night, and it feels so good. 
I can:t find the apostrophe on this keyboard so forgive me.  I work with what I got.

Tomorrow we head north to Misawa, near the northern tip of the main land of Japan to chill with the sister.  I am so looking forward to it.  Some rest and relaxation will do this body good.

Love and Hugs to everyone.  Miss your guts.


Friday, April 23, 2010


Tomorrow we head to Koya-san, to stay the night at a Buddist temple with monks. It will involve 3 trains, 1 cable car ride, a bus and quite a ways on foot...with 40lbs of luggage. nobigdeal.
Please pray for us. 

(I would write more but this keyboard is Japanese and it's all I can do to find the apostrophe let alone type at any sort of speed.)

Love to you all.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

On Foot or By Train

We have been on foot and train now for six days:

I have bruises on the bottom of my feet.
Blisters on the tops of my feet.
Allergies - which, buying drugs in a foreign country is just a smidge scary
I have eaten pork, turkey, cheese, couple things I am not to sure of
My body hurts....bad.  Real bad.

These all may be true but I am having the time of my life. Japan is my new favorite place that I never knew that I was suppose to see. 

Ok, time is running out.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It's Only Been 4 Days....

We've been here 4 days and we've been on the go non-stop.  I can't even put words together to describe what we've done/seen.  This is partially because its 5:00 am and I'm mostly incoherent but it could also be because there are just no words to describe breathtaking beauty, kindness, generosity and hospitality of Japan and the people here.  

When words fail me, the next best course of action is obviously lists.  So here are your highs and lows:

  • Eating black eggs at Mt. Fuji
  • Stroll around Imperial Palace Park
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site Shrines and Temples of Nikkō, Futarasan Shrine and Tōshō-gū shinto temples and Rinnō-ji, the buddist temple.
  • Onsen - hot soak and scrub down
  • Bullet Trains
  • Japanese cowboy street performers
  • Senso-ji Temple at Askakusa
  • My sister
  • Perfect weather
  • Menus with pictures
  • The food: soba, gyoza, rice, pickled everything, ice cream 
  • Blossoms everywhere
  • Backpacking.  Maybe I'm carrying 40lbs of my personal belongings. And maybe it's really effing heavy when you're tired and sore.    
  • Body aches and pains from backpacking.  
We leave Tokyo in a few hours to head to Takayama and then on to Kyoto.  After Kyoto we're off to Osaka and then up to Misawa.  All via bullet train at 200 mph.  Could it get more amazing?  

I'll update the next time I have insomnia and internet access.

Miss you all.    

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Just Try Me

Names you probably shouldn’t call me before 5:00 pm today:
  • Babe
  • Sweetie
  • Girly
  • Hun
 All of which have happened before 9:00 this morning already. So, really, just try me…

Happy Freakin' Tax Day.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


This Week:
  • It's National Public Library Week. This makes my heart skip a beat and inspires me to do what I really want to do.  Baby steps, I'll get there.
  • Had Book Club last night with a great discussion about The Big Short. Plus, I talked to a woman who went back to school at the age of 51 and had the time of her life.  She inspires me.  
  • I got a card from the woman who I consider to be my second mom just saying hi and letting me know she was thinking about me.  We haven't talked in months. She inspires me. 
  • I got an email from a friend half-way around the world wishing me luck this week.  She inspires me.
  • I talked to a friend who absolutely loves his job.  He's excited to go to work in the morning, the day flies by, is sad when the day is over and he has to go home. Then does it all over again. He doesn't make a lot of money but you can hear the joy in his voice. He inspires me.   
Guys, its been a rough, oh, four weeks.  I'm so very very tired. But I am so very very inspired.   

Friday, April 9, 2010

Overheard in the Office

Co Worker 1: You see the light at the end of the tunnel?
Co Worker 2: No, my tunnel is closing and it's pitch black.

CW: Hell yeah we have a sense of humor around here. It shows up around April 16th.

CW To Me: Do you want me to experiment with you?…..awkward pause. Hold on, let me rephrase that.

CW at about 6:00pm: Shoot me in the f*cking face. 

CW: “When I was an undergrad, when I still thought it was ok to be a drama major…”

Neighbor: You look like you put some effort in getting ready this morning.
Me: Wow, that’s only mildly insulting.
Neighbor: It was suppose to be a compliment.
Me: Well, you failed.

CW: Do you want to touch the end of my mixer? (Twice)

Neighbor holding a handful of candy out to me: You can have it all, except for the skittles, because that’s fruit. Obviously. Same for the gummy bears. (I took the chocolate obviously)

One week to go folks.  Do your taxes.

My dear Mr. President

April 9, 2010

My dear Mr. President:

Having concluded that it would be in the best interests of the Court to have my successor appointed and confirmed well in advance of the commencement of the Court's next Term, I shall retire from regular active service as an Associate Justice, under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 371(b), effective the next day after the Court rises for the summer recess this year.

Most respectfully yours,
John Paul Stevens
Don't you just want to hug him?

Musical Life Complete

I’ve seen Stevie Nicks sing Landslide. Live.
I’ve seen Elton John sing Tiny Dancer, Levon, Daniel, and Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters. All live.
I’ve seen Chicago sing 25 or 6 to 4. Live.
I’ve seen The Eagles sing Take it to the Limit, Desperado and Wasted Time. Live.
I’ve seen Tom Petty sing Free Fallin’ and Mary Jane’s Last Dance. Live.
I’ve even seen Styx sing Come Sail Away. Live.

I thought I had seen the best of the best. That was until Thursday.

The first time I saw Patty Griffin was in a NFP used book store in Soho, sitting on a hardwood floor, crammed up against adoring fans. That was four years ago. That concert changed my life and the subsequent album that came a couple years after that, also changed my life.

Now I’ve seen Patty Griffin sing Heavenly Day and Up to the Mountain. Live. Live, in the flesh, from Row B, center at the Moore Theatre.

My musical life is pretty much complete. I’ve musically peaked at 27. It’s downhill from here folks.

*Apologies to SH for making it uncomfortable when I started to cry. It happens.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Word for Word

Under used words for the week:  
  • alacrity
  • genesis (the non-capitalized noun version)
  • jeepers

Speaking of words, I was researching the etymology and definition of the word “homonym” today, like you do, and was a little shaken. It was like Wikipedia was trying to blow my mind and prove me wrong all in one swift motion. After momentarily thinking that I had been using the incorrect word my whole English speaking life, turns out, I’ve only been partially wrong. *Gasp/Phew*.
Check it out:

“In linguistics, a homonym is, in the strict sense, one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings usually as a result of the two words having different origins. Examples of pairs of homonyms are stalk (part of a plant) and stalk (follow/harass a person), and left (opposite of right) and left (past tense of leave).”

Don't fret, you probably thought the same thing I have been thinking and you'd be partially right, as demonstrated here:

“In a looser non-technical sense, the term homonym can be used to refer to words that share the same spelling irrespective of pronunciation, or share the same pronunciation irrespective of spelling – in other words, they are homographs or homophones.[1] In this sense, pairs such as row (propel with oars) and row (argument), and read (peruse) and reed (waterside plant), would also be homonyms.”

 I have always used homonym is the broadest sense, unaware of the more detailed divisions. So, in the “strict sense” I’ve occasionally missused the word homonym, when I should have used heterograph, heteronym, homophone and alike. Here’s this helpful graph the explain the difference. PS. When you can Venn Diagram the English language its like two worlds colliding to make delicious…something, I don’t know...pie?

Moreover, it also turns out, Dr. Evil was right. Who doesn’t think of this line “I like to see girls of that... caliber. (comedic pause) By "caliber," of course, I refer to both the size of their gun barrels and the high quality of their characters... Two meanings... caliber... it's a homonym... Forget it,” when you hear the word “homonym?”

Speaking more about words, proper nouns will NOT be allowed in Scrabble contrary to some of the latest buzz, and as reported by NPR. Sigh.of.relief.  I had a boyfriend who was a Scrabble cheater. I believe it may have been a contributing factor in our demise. Kidding. Maybe.

Ok, that’s enough words about words for now. If you’re looking for more to read, you should check out David Brooks’ latest column, Roger Cohen’s latest column, and Wallance Stegner’s essay, “Everything Potent is Dangerous.”  Then let’s discuss.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sew What?

I've really been itching to learn how to sew.  So I enlisted the help of the very talented LL to assist me in the endeavor.  After scouring crafty blogs, I found a skirt that even a monkey could do.     

And the results are in:

Lots of ironing and $8.97 later, I have myself a new skirt.  Just don't look to close at the hem line....

Friday, April 2, 2010

Your Friday Funny

Brought to you by the letter "Let's make fun of Cara"

I was trying to explain to my cube neighbor what happens when I faint, what starts it, etc.  He exclaims, "Is it like this?!"

Yes, it's a lot like that, just less funny.