Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Gecko's Tail, Part III

So tonight Lee and I decided to take the dogs for a walk. We went out the front door and there was a teeny tiny gecko on the porch--probably only two inches long, including his tail. Lee caught him (the dogs were pretty interested in catching him, so this was a rescue) and when he opened up his hands to let the gecko go, his tail had fallen off. That's not the weird part--that tail MOVED for a good minute and a half after the gecko had departed. Totally weird to watch!! It was kind of like watching a little bitty striped worm wiggle around. I just wanted to get a look at the tailless gecko but he skedaddled too quickly (isn't "skedaddle" a fun word?).

Lee likes to try to scare the tail off of Sadie too. When the four of us go for walks, I get Vader's leash and Lee takes Sadie's. Little Miss Thang likes to walk way out in front of the rest of us (she does love her 30-ft. extendable leash) so when she's not paying attention to us, Lee will run up behind her and grab her. If she hears him coming she does this funny thing where she tucks her butt and tail under and runs so it's like a squat-run thing that looks hilarious...Sadie and Lee both seem to think that's the funnest game ever invented. Hey, if it makes them and Vader will be smart and just stroll along together while Sadie and Lee go running off like crazy people.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tedako Fest

It's *way* past my bedtime right now, so if this blog post gets all rambly and nonsensical, that's why. I just want to get these pictures posted right now so I'll come back and edit the insanity out later if necessary :)

Yesterday Lee and I went to the Tedako Fest in Urasoe City, the third-largest city on Okinawa. "Tedako" means "children of the sun" which is hopefully more fun than the Children of the Corn, heh. You can read an article all about Tedako Fest here if you're interested. Or you could just scroll down and look at the pictures; Lee took over 300 but I'm only sharing 10. Seriously, if we just put on some music, we could flip through the photos really quickly and it would be like a movie!

Ok, the festival took place at an athletics park in Urasoe, which was really nice. There were buildings all around and a walkway that encircled the main arena; that walkway is where they set up all the food booths and carnival games and such. Here's one of the buildings that surround the arena:

The main attractions were down in the arena area; they covered a lot of the grass with blue tarps and that's where everyone sat, and groups performed in a roped-off area in the center. The performers were kind of a mixed bag, everything from kids' groups doing simple traditional dances to a group of probably 100 older women holding something that looked like bathroom poufs, but I didn't see what they did with them because we were walking around other areas of the festival when they performed. The first group we saw kind of reminded me of an aerobics dance exercise video or something. But what we liked the best was the taiko drummers!

Several taiko groups performed and in my opinion they always had the best and most colorful costumes. They have the oddest shoes though; they have thin and flexible soles on them, kind of like those socks you can buy in the winter time that have the treads on the bottom of them, but these shoes have the big toe separated from the other toes. Just weird. Not sure you can see that even if you click on the pictures to make them bigger, but if you don't believe me then leave a comment and I'll dig up a picture where I'm *sure* you can see the funky toe cleavage.

So this taiko group had the red-and-white guys towards the back, and a group of about a half-dozen guys with the bigger drums in the front, plus the star performer--a little kid of about 2 or 3. We figured he had to be the child of one of the other performers.

He stayed out there through the whole performance, hitting his little drum and doing pretty close to what the adults were doing with their choreographed dance. So funny!

So far as I can tell, when a taiko group performs, they have some musicians providing the music and they accent with the drum beats. So here's the music group for the drummers; those funky little banjo-looking things they have are called sanshin, a traditional Okinawan instrument. If you think of the stereotypical Eastern music with a plunky kind of stringed instrument, that's what this sounds like. I'll watch Karate Kid II to see if you can hear a sanshin in that movie to give you a reference :)

Here's a performer from a different taiko group; Lee got several good pictures of him but I'm just sharing one so I don't bore you all to tears and then you stop reading my blog and then I sit here alone typing to myself. Ok, see, I told you it was past my bedtime and I get incoherent as I get sleepier.

Ok, so how about a discourse on Japanese fashion...quite a few of the ladies (and several of the men) were wearing kimonos. Lee wondered if they'd be really hot but it looked to me like they were made of a single layer of cotton fabric, so that wouldn't be too bad. I saw a lot of beautiful floral patterns, some with chrysanthemum, hibiscus, cherry blossoms, morning glories, and those are just the flowers I recognized. All kinds of colors and patterns for the main part of the kimono and usually a solid-color sash to go with it. Lee asked these two ladies if he could take their picture and they graciously obliged.

I saw a *lot* of people do the peace sign for pictures :) Even little bitty girls were wearing kimonos, I saw one little girl who was maybe 4 or so who had on a Hello Kitty kimono (Lorelai Gilmore was right, Hello Kitty has conquered Japan! And if you didn't watch the show Gilmore Girls that reference is totally lost on you). I got Lee to take this picture of some tweens as they walked by; I like kimono butt shots since then you can see the beautiful sashes and how they tie.

And one more kimono butt shot just for good measure.

I also saw a lot of people wearing short sets out of the same kinds and patterns of fabric as the kimonos. They were kind of like a very baggy version of scrubs with knee-length shorts. Japanese women's fashion seems to run towards the body-obscuring and baggy end of the spectrum, even when they wear Western-style clothes, although there are some (usually girls in their 20s I would guess) who wear the more form-fitting fashions. Many of them wear t-shirts with English phrases printed on them, and some of them are pretty hilarious but I can't remember any of them right now so you'll have to take my word for it. :p One of these days we'll take a field trip out to a mall and write down all the funny things we see printed on shirts.

Once the sun went down it was actually pretty pleasant outside, although still humid (as ever). At about 8 o'clock the traditional dance groups finished up, and then we got to hear an Okinawan rock concert. Really, the music sounded a lot like what you'd hear on the radio in the States, but of course all the words were in Japanese. I wouldn't mind having a CD of it; I have a CD of bellydance music that's all in Turkish and that doesn't stop me from bopping along to it and singing what I'm sure is nowhere close to the real words, so I'm sure I could do the same with a Japanese CD. Actually I'll miss the sanshin stuff too when we leave here so maybe next time we go out shopping in town I'll look for some music. I know I saw some in a shop on Kokusai Street...anyway, at 9:00 they had a fireworks display which was quite good. Not quite Disneyland fireworks, but certainly better than what we had for the 4th of July.

Lee and I have figured out a system for ordering food when we don't speak much Japanese beyond "hello" and "thank you" and the person selling the food likely doesn't speak any English either. You point at what you want, then you hold up however many fingers to tell them how many you want. They nod and then they hold up fingers to tell you how much to pay for it. We managed to get some teriyaki chicken on a stick, corn on the cob, and a couple of Cokes using this method, so hey, it works. We decided to go with that rather than eating American stuff like hot dogs on a stick or corn dogs or chili cheese fries. Now, if they'd had funnel cakes, then I would have gotten one of those! They also had chow mein noodles, fried rice, and I think I saw one booth that sold sushi (ick!).

Festivals seem to be a pretty frequent occurrence on Okinawa so I'm sure we'll get to attend more in the future. But for now, that's all the news that's fit to print, and I'm going to sleep!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend

Y'know, I watched a lot of DVDs while working on this cancan dancer stitching project, but somehow I never got around to watching Moulin Rouge with Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, even though this piece reminds me of that movie. So here's my progression through seasons 2 and 3 of Smallville, plus some random movies thrown in there.

Baby got back! :)

She's got legs! I think her hair and hat seemed to take the longest--a lot of color changes in a relatively small area.

Painting in the background...

And hey, lookie there, another stitching project finished :) Isn't she purdy?

I'm going to hold onto her until my parents come out here in September, and then I'll give her to my mom to take back to Texas and get her framed. She'll get to live with my parents for the next couple years until Lee and I return to the States, but she'll have the company of all my *other* stitched pieces that currently reside there. I didn't want to put any of them in storage or take them here with us since I didn't know how they'd do with the humidity, so my parents have them. How many "them"? Probably at least a half dozen framed stitching pieces that are mine...Mom has several more of her own, including a couple that I made for her. She's running out of wall space :) Well, I would be too if I had all mine hanging up.

I just got all my pictures today that I ordered from Winkflash. They look *fabulous*!! Even the ones I'm not in ;) No, really, the colors look great on them and I'm looking forward to starting my Japan and honeymoon scrapbooks. Yay!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

When Geckos ATTACK!

Yep, I've been attacked by a gecko. This is something that they conveniently left out of all those Geico commercials...

It's just about bedtime here on Okinawa, so I thought I'd let the doglets out one last time. I opened the back door and stepped outside with them when suddenly I was dive-bombed by a kamikaze gecko!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Then of course Lee starts hollering from upstairs wanting to know what's going on (but did he bother to run downstairs and fend off my attacker? Nooooo!), and the kamikaze gecko called off the attack and scurried away. The doglets were no help, they watched the kamikaze go scurrying up the wall with one of his gecko buddies and they didn't even manage to scare the tail off him (although it was a baby tail so apparently this gecko has had his tail scared off sometime recently).

When my parental units were living on Okinawa way back in the dark ages before Al Gore invented the Internet (thanks, Al), the first time Mom saw a gecko was when one fell on her head. At least my kamikaze attacker fell on my shoulder, which is slightly less freak-out-inducing than if he'd landed on my head. Still, I think I need to post a sign...

Beware of Falling Geckos.

The Other Glass Factory

This morning Lee and I took a trip down to the south end of the island to check out the *other* glass factory. This one is larger than the one we visited on the Tour of the North that we went on...the shop has all the same stuff as the smaller one plus more. I liked this wall display...

I kinda wish Lee had gotten up a little closer to take the picture but oh well, I should have asked him to do that while we were there so my fault. Here's a close-up of one of the vase/bouquets, they cost upwards of $100 apiece; I saw a really huge, elaborate one that had an $800 price tag. Only it was yen so it was like 80,000 yen.

I just loved these wacky shisa, their expressions are so funny to me.

They have a separate building that's got their clearance stuff, I guess that there are small imperfections in the pieces so they're cheaper. They still look just beautiful to me!

This is the outside of the building. The walls are covered with a mosaic, but the "tiles" aren't tile at all, they're pieces of colored glass.

A closer shot of a mosaic on the side of the building.

And here's the big shisa that's guarding the entrance to the glass factory :) We didn't take a picture of his female counterpart.

Hey Mom, is *this* the Japan shirt you were talking about? Why didn't you just say so? Bwahahahaaa!

Oh yeah, I got my hair cut, too. It keeps getting shorter every time I December I'll be having them give me buzz cuts!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life For Me

While I was going through all our digital pictures a little while back so I could order some prints to scrapbook, I came across pictures from a trip to Disneyland! Lee and I went to Disneyland and California Adventure with both sets of our parents about two years ago. So here's a bigger picture of me with pirate hair...

And yes, we're wearing pirate shirts...those are Eskimo Joe's "Pirates We Coulda Been" shirts :) Unfortunately, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride was closed so they could add in Captain Jack, it reopened like 4 days after we were there! Arrrgh! But I did find some new pirate shirts in California Adventure...when Lee and I went on our honeymoon (Disney cruise) I kept seeing shirts that said "The beatings will continue until morale improves" and when I finally decided to get one, I couldn't find them anywhere (figures). So when I found some shirts at CA that said that, I snatched 'em up, one for me and one for Lee. I wanted to buy Lee a pirate hat but he wouldn't let me -pouts- Next time we go to Disneyland...or Disney World...or Tokyo Disney...he's gettin' a pirate hat! Savvy?

Anyway, I can't wait to get the pictures I ordered...lately I have just been really wanting to work on a scrapbook, any scrapbook, and I haven't scrapped much in the last two years or so. I even re-subscribed to Creating Keepsakes to get some ideas. Hopefully I'll get my photos this week so I can get started!! I plan to work on our Okinawa scrapbook and hopefully keep it up to date as we go along, and I want to do a scrapbook from our honeymoon too. I've got *lots* more to catch up on when I'm reunited with all my supplies in a couple years, I'm pretty far behind. Well, that gives me a goal to strive for, right?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

It Wiggles and Jiggles...

WE JUST HAD AN EARTHQUAKE!!! Like, 20 seconds ago! Obviously not a huge one, but it was definitely an earthquake. Woohoo!! Ok, so that's kind of a crazy response to an earthquake but they're kind of fun when they're tiny :) I think my doglets are a teensy bit freaked out by it. It was just a little bit of a wiggle, enough to shake the blinds in my window. Well, Japan *is* prone to earthquakes, but I thought most of them hit mainland Japan and we're a lot further south. Wonder if Lee noticed it...I might not have if I'd been in a car or something. Guess I'll find out whenever he gets home.

I kinda have a history with earthquakes. I was born in San Jose, California, the day of a 5.5 earthquake. My mom even got me an earthquake survivor bracelet that the local newspaper was handing out a few days later. :) I was over 3 weeks late being born, I told my mom that I was waiting to make a grand entrance, haha!

Monday, July 7, 2008

More Garden Photos Just Because I Like 'Em

Not really a whole lot going on around here at the moment so I thought I'd share some more photos from the botanical gardens. This first one is of the palm trees that we saw right after we entered the gardens; they have wide pathways that go all around and through the area. They offer a 20-minute tram tour and tell you all about the different plants, but it wouldn't have done us much good since it was all in Japanese ;) So we hoofed it instead, and took our time taking pictures of whatever we liked the looks of.

Here's a different view of the bridge that I posted earlier, from the other side. I think I like this one better, I like all the red plants in the foreground. And I took this one! :) Lee does all the camera settings so that even the pictures I take turn out with good color. I usually get more "artsy" with my shots than he does, but I think we both take good pictures.

Isn't this gorgeous? I took a lot of pictures of hibiscus but this one and the red one from the last post were the two standouts. They had several different colors of hibiscus but we couldn't get close enough to some of the other ones to get good pictures.

More of the different lotus...this one is called a Snowball. This isn't the best picture of it but oh, well. I only took one of each type of lotus in most cases, and it still took me quite a while to work my way down the line.

White Colorata...although it looks kinda blue to me :) They had Blue Colorata too, and it was indeed more blue than this one.

This one is called can they string together that many vowels at once?

Pink lotus that was in the big lotus pond.

Ok, so I promise to share pictures of something other than flowers next time I post...or else no pics and just a story instead. Hey Liz, I did my first order of pictures from Winkflash; I got an 11x14 enlargement of my white orchid picture to hang up in my craft room! Lee's a little miffed I didn't get him an 11x14 of his favorite Hiji Falls picture, but I forgot. He had one printed here but they do funky sizes; they did 10x14 which doesn't look proportional to me at all. I ordered LOTS of pictures to start my Japan scrapbook so now I need to order some 12x12 cardstock so I can get started on it. I'm kicking myself for leaving almost all my scrapbook paper at my parents' house for safekeeping.

Lee is planning to go scuba diving again this weekend; sooner or later he's going to get or rent a camera he can use underwater as he says that it's just *amazing* to go diving here. I think jellyfish, sharks, sea urchins, all that stuff that can hurt you...but he enjoys it and as long as he's careful I can't complain. So maybe one of these days I'll be able to share some pictures from under da sea!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Okinawa's Southeast Botanical Gardens

Yesterday, Lee and I decided to go to the Southeast Botanical know me and how I love the closeup flower pictures :) It cost us 1000 yen each to get in, and we only wandered around half of the park--there's another part that has more arts and crafts stuff, and we just wanted to see the garden part yesterday. We'll have to go back at different times of the year to see what changes.

We saw this pond just after we entered the gardens.

Lee took most of the pictures yesterday, and he calibrated the settings on the camera so all the pictures turned out awesome :) We took about 150; I've pared it down to about 45 on our computer but I won't make you sit through all those. But check out the vibrant color on this hibiscus, is it not just gorgeous?!

This next one is a red ginger plant, which according to my exhaustive one minute of online research also grows in Hawaii. Kind of neat looking.

I found this cute little guy...I didn't really see any other statues around the garden but I thought this one was neat looking. He's only about knee-high. So how are my picture-taking skills? Am I taking interesting shots yet?

Lee took this next one because I won't get close to it...we saw LOTS of spiders. The saying is that everything's bigger in Texas, but Texas ain't got nothin' on Okinawa when it comes to bugs and spiders. I saw several spider webs strung up between trees that were at least six feet apart; these spiders would probably cover the palm of your hand but I sure will NOT get close enough to test that theory! Hey Mom, is this a banana spider?

A bridge going over the carp pond. The sides of the bridge look like they're made out of wagon wheels or something. I bought some fish food and fed the carp, and now I know what a feeding frenzy looks like :) Didn't get any spectacular fishy shots, so no carpy pictures for you.

Liz, I put this one on here just for you so I can PROVE that I was at the garden! I think this is just a lavender-colored crepe myrtle.

The Botanical Gardens is having a Lotus Festival until July 21. It didn't look much like a festival to me; they just had a long row of tubs with different kinds of lotus/water lilies (same thing) in them. I didn't know that they came in so many different colors...I'm just sharing some of the best pictures here, I took *lots* more but don't want to bore you with my penchant for Georgia O'Keeffe-style photography. According to the sign, this first one is the Queen of Siam. Love the purple flowers :)

This blue one is Leopardess.

Mexicana...wonder if they're the same as the Mexican water lilies that grow in California?

I think this was Lee's favorite picture of all the different lotus, this is the Miami Rose.

They had a huge pond with water lilies all over it that grow to probably 3-4 feet above the water line. These flowers are enormous--probably ten inches across. That circular thing in the middle that looks like a shower head or the end of a watering can is the seed pod--they're edible. Actually I think the flowers are too, from what I read online.

They had a large gift shop and restaurant in the garden; I could have wandered around the gift shop for quite a while--it was really hot outside, no cloud cover, and the gift shop has AC! :) I saw a book of the flowers of Okinawa but didn't get it--it was all in Japanese except for the title and the scientific name for each flower. When we go back I might get it anyway; I can always Google the flower names to see what the "common name" is. So what do you think of the gardens?