Saturday, September 27, 2008

I'm Trying to Think of a Fun Title for This Blog Post, But I Got Nothin'

Tuesday night we took my parents to Jack's Place, which is the teppanyaki restaurant that's only a couple blocks from our house. When my parents were here it was a place called Skoshi Koom and they broadcast The Voice of America from there. But now it's a restaurant where you get dinner and a show :)

And here's me and Ree, flashing the obligatory peace sign...

And Mom and Dad doing the same. Lee clicked the camera right *after* the chef lit something on fire on the grill. Sometimes when you go, they'll make a pyramid of sliced onions, pour alcohol in the middle, and light it on fire so it looks like a volcano :)

We went to Cape Zampa on Tuesday but it poured down rain right after we got there, so we went back on Thursday when the weather was nicer. We still got sprinkled on a bit, but not too bad. Got some great photos with beautiful colors though.

I still can't believe how vibrant the colors are here...the ocean looks just like SU's color Pacific Point even though this is the East China Sea, not the Pacific, hehe!

Different angle on the lighthouse...

And yet another angle on it. The lighthouse really isn't all that tall but it still looks good in pictures :) When we go back to North Carolina, we'll have to make a trip to the Outer Banks and photograph some of the lighthouses out there; we never did that when we lived there before.

Dad got tired of arguing with us whether the name of this place is Bolo Point or Cape Zampa so he asked someone...Cape Zampa is the Japanese name, and Bolo Point is the American name and it's still used on dive maps. Mystery solved.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Here, Fishy Fishy...and Some Other Stuff

Monday last week, we took my parents up to Churaumi Aquarium and then several other places around Nago. So here's photographic proof they were there, man!

I think it's funny that the mouth is made from a life preserver. This next one is a shisa (yep, I got some more shisa pictures!!) and behind it you can see some of the aquarium building. It's all made out of concrete, like most buildings on Okinawa, but this is proof that the Japanese can even make concrete look good.

Lee was helping me go through some of the aquarium pictures and he's PICKY, we ended up only keeping a handful of them. This was one that we cropped a bit and we liked it better after that; I think this is one of Nemo's cousins.

Last time Lee and I went to the aquarium we didn't stay for the dolphin show, but we did this time. They do the tricks where they jump out of the water and all that, and they even had one that did a little eisa dancing when they played some of the traditional music. But this was my favorite picture...

Yep, he's sticking his tongue out! There are a few tanks with sea turtles and a building with some manatees (ok, manatees look kinda dirty...maybe we got there at the wrong time but that tank looked NASTY!). Lee took a lot of pictures of the sea turtles and we got several pretty good shots.

The aquarium is part of a larger complex called Expo Park, but it's pretty much the only thing at Expo Park that we've explored. Just a little bit down the road they have a butterfly park and I talked the guys into going to that :) The funny thing about the butterfly park is that they only have ONE type of butterfly!!

I was taking all the butterfly pictures since I'm more interested in that kind of thing than Lee is, hehe. The brochure said something about the butterflies being attracted to the color red and the smell of hairspray, so Mom was really, really popular!

But Dad had his own coterie of insect admirers!

Once we left the building where all the butterflies are, we walked along some paths and stuff that are a part of the park. So here's a picture of Lee since he hasn't been on this post yet.

We've noticed that Japanese people around our age ALWAYS do the peace sign when they have their picture taken so we've got several of us doing the same thing. Anyway, all the butterflies in the Butterfly House might have been the same kind, but I managed to get a quick pic of this one out in the park:

This was one I saw at the botanical garden, isn't it gorgeous? He very kindly stayed still long enough for me to take a couple of pictures. I love the "eyes" on his wings.

After we finished at the butterfly park, we still had some time before dinner so we went to the Ryukyu Glass Factory. I know you've already seen all my fabulous photos (snort) from the factory and the store, but here's a new one, the glass factory's shisa!!

I occasionally like to mess around with camera angles just to do something different, n'k? I may need to practice that more, I'm not sure how much I like that photo. Anyway, we went to Pizza in the Sky for dinner, but it was really overcast so most of the photos of the view from there really aren't worth writing home about. But remember I said that the menu was pretty cool? Here's the fan menu:

And see, I'm in one of the pictures too :) We got one of the employees to take a picture of all four of us...

And here's a few more shisa just because I know you love 'em as much as I do :)

They look like two old friends sitting in a park, just yukkin' it up. All of the shisa at Pizza in the Sky have funny expressions like that, I like it!

The Land of the Funky Statues?

My Stamping Bella Sistah Vicky has tagged me! That means I have to post the tagging rules and share 7 random factoids about myself. Here's da rules:

1. Link your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Ok, so 7 random facts...I did this once before but it's been a long time and I'm too lazy to look back and see what I shared last time, but I figure that you guys out there in Internet Land don't remember what I wrote either so I'm just gonna come up with a few right now :)

1. After working for a public school system for three years, I think people ought to have a license before they're allowed to have children. Not a driver's license (although you should at LEAST be old enough to drive before you have kids) but a license to procreate. Just trust me on that one.

2. I call Sadie and Vader my kids and I talk to them as if they're going to answer me back in English. Lee thinks this is a little nutty on my part, but he does it sometimes too ;)

3. I took a couple of history classes for fun in college just because I enjoy history. I took Classical Myth and Intro to Slavic & Eastern European Studies, and I loved both classes.

4. I have three brothers...Adam (my biological bro), Jeng (my little Korean brother, we've been friends for over 15 years which just seems crazy to me), and Mark (my little in my fraternity).

5. In college, I was in a business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi. I served as historian three times, which means I was the designated photographer for all the events and compiled a scrapbook for the fraternity each semester I was the historian.

6. I name all our cars. My first car in high school was this ginormous silver Buick Land Yacht (seriously, I think that's what the model name was!) that we named Lucy after the Beatles song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. I've also had Sally the Saturn and Lee drove Tony the Tahoe, and our current cars are Katara and Sokka after some cartoon characters. My mom names her cars too, she's had Fred (a green GMC Jimmy), Desdemona (purple PT Cruiser), and Blue Moon (blue convertible VW Bug, which she enjoys driving "topless").

7. My favorite Beatles song is Strawberry Fields Forever. I also love the song And Your Bird Can Sing, but I prefer the Sid & Susie version. Susie is Susanna Hoffs, best known as a member of the fabulous girl rock band The Bangles, my favorite band ever since I was six :)

K, so I don't usually read a lot of other blogs on a regular basis, I kind of tend to just pop in periodically to see what people are posting. So I'm just going to tag one person, my sister-in-law Adrienne whose cakes are a whole lot prettier than mine, this is why I stick to making cookies :) So tag, you're IT, Adrienne!

On to some pictures!! The first full day my parents were here, we took them to the Southeast Botanical Gardens. Since I've already indulged my penchant for macro flower photography on here, I'll just share some photos of the fun statues they have around the park.

I just love the expression on his face, isn't it hilarious? I didn't notice that many silly statues last time we were there, but we did see quite a few this time. We also went into the other side of the park, the Enchanted Forest, and they had even more statues but I just picked a few.

I think Mom just liked the style of this one, they had several different ones in this style.

Here's my dad being a goober. Right after I took this picture, Lee said "Don't look up," so of course the first thing I did was look up...there was a totally gargantuan banana spider on a web dangling right over my head!! Ack!!! I departed the area PDQ.

I just liked the expression on this one's face. The Enchanted Forest side really wasn't "all that" but you can go in there whenever you buy a ticket for the garden. Lee says he'll be happy if he never goes back to the garden again (he's of the "if you've seen it once, you don't need to go back" mentality on this one) so I guess I'll have to go solo in December when they have it all decorated for Christmas--Amber, you wanna go? Actually I was thinking about getting a year-long pass so I can visit in several seasons and see different things in bloom...guess I'll be doing that on my own too! I have a black thumb so this is the best way for me to enjoy the flowers! I took a bunch more shots of hibiscus and lotus (they still had a lot of lotus) but since I've already shared a plethora of similar pictures I'll refrain this time.

I think I'll pick out a few of my favorite shots from each day my parents were here and just share those over the next week or so. Haven't made much progress on sorting through all of our pictures yet but I should be doing my homework for my class...last day of class is next Thursday so I need to register for my next one.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ok, I'm Back!

My friend Amber has been posting pictures of her four-legged kiddos, Luke and Jesse, on her blog so I thought I'd share a few of my kids too! I took these just a day or two before my parents arrived on the island (and their visit is the reason why I haven't been blogging for the last week). So here's my little man Vader.

He's just the sweetest thing...and I think it's funny that he's got a little white goatee. Here's my spoiled rotten girl Sadie (she's Lee's dog when she misbehaves, ha!)

Yep, she's up on Lee's lap on the paupason chair, spoiled rotten little Miss Bee. I kinda felt bad for Sadie and Vader last week though, because we were so busy entertaining my parents that we didn't take them out for walks or anything. They were *ecstatic* to go this morning! But now we'll be getting back into our regular routine so they'll get to go out walking this week provided it doesn't rain.

I've been slowly going through our photos from my parents' visit, which is a humongoloid job because I think we had somewhere around 800 on our computer, and that doesn't include about half of Mom's pictures. I think when she goes through them all (we burned her a DVD of our photos) that she'll have a serious case of camera envy...or maybe Lee and I are just pickier because we've spent so much time discussing what makes a good photo. Anyway, I'll be sharing some of those pictures over the next little bit, but here's one to get us started...

The famous Made in Japan shirt and the Made in the USA shirt, which up until now had never been photographed! Actually I think it'd never been worn before now and it probably won't again :) I talked Lee into wearing that shirt when we picked up the parental units at the airport in Naha. Lee hates to wear anything that draws attention to him, and he thinks this shirt does so that's why I think this will be a one-time appearance. So we picked up my parents at 10:30 on Saturday night and where was the first place we took them? McDonald's.

I'll share some more pictures as I get them all sorted out. I think we've already trashed at least 300 shots that didn't turn out too great...Lee tends to take several pictures of one thing in order to get one really good shot, and I've started doing that too. So anyway, sorting those out will be a big and ongoing job. Here's one I took today though:

This tree is growing a few blocks away from our house and I just noticed the hot pink flowers on it today. I got a book of subtropical flowers in Okinawa when we went to the Southeast Botanical Gardens, and according to it this is a silk floss tree. (So really, the whole book is in Japanese except for the title and the Latin names for the plants, but I figured I could Google those and hey, it works. I've identified quite a few of the flowers I photographed at the gardens.) Pretty flowers, huh? Their petals are a little bit jagged on the edges though, and the tree trunk has these warty thorny-lookin' things on it too so I don't think it's a tree I'd like to try climbing. But I did enjoy taking pictures of the flowers (and props to Lee for driving me out there specifically to take pictures of it!)

I am SO disappointed I missed International Talk Like a Pirate Day last week! Arrrrrgh! I found a website that will translate whatever you want into pirate-speak, so here's a sample from my It Just Figures blog post:

So ye've probably figured ou' that me parents be goin' t' be visitin' us on Okinawa soon, starboard? They's supposed t' land late Satterdee night. Guess what's supposed t' land on Satterdee mornin'?

Our first typhoon.

't jus' figures!! I be kiddin' around about that a wee moons ago, I told me dad "Wouldna 't be funny if we had a typhoon while ye guys be here?" Me an' me big bung hole!! We'll jus' be havin' t' be seein' what happens later this tides tho, maybe if we pray hard enough th' typhoon will change course an' go hang ou' on th' yardarm o' th' Pacific...I do feel like goin' through a typhoon be a quintessential part o' th' Okinawa experience, but couldna 't be havin' waited a couple tides? Or gotten here a wee sooner so as nay t' interrupt me plans? :p

I thought it was pretty funny, especially how it translated "Me and my big mouth" into "Me an' me big bung hole!" AND that bit about "th' yardarm o' th' Pacific"...bwahahaaaa!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Scrappin' Fool

The day after I posted about the typhoon heading our way, we woke up to find that it had shifted course overnight to pass to the west of us. We're still getting a lot of rain (which we need), but it shouldn't affect my parents' travel plans (which would have been bad). We'll have to rearrange our activities a bit though, it's going to be too rainy to take my parents to the botanical gardens tomorrow. But at least they shouldn't have a problem getting here!

So I've been working like a mad lady trying to get my Japan scrapbook caught up before my parents get here. I've still got six pages left to do (which I don't think I'll finish today, heh) but I did make a lot of progress. So here's a few layouts I've done:

This will be the first layout in the scrapbook, just some of my thoughts from our first few months here. I need to order a Really Rust craft ink pad so I can stamp the dragons along the top; for right now they're just on scratch paper placeholders.

I like these pages, I wasn't sure about having that much white at first but I like how it turned out. I think the only thing I'd change is to make the hot pink flowers larger, especially in the upper left. I love the new SU blue color, Pacific Point--perfect for these pictures!!

Ahh, my orchids. I do so love that white orchid picture. For some reason, Orchid Opulence and Handsome Hunter are two of the least popular colors according to a bunch of Splitcoasters, which I don't understand since I like 'em both. They can be a little hard to work with I guess, you have to put them with the right colors to make them look good. But it turns out that Orchid Opulence really *does* match real-life orchids, and the hunter green border on this just finishes the page in my opinion. This is one of those rare layouts that turns out pretty much exactly how I imagined it would...

And here's my Ryukyu Glass Factory layout. I think I might have made the background just a teeny bit too busy, I got carried away :) I think I should have done the title in Taken with Teal instead of Tempting Turquoise, but the page kind of evolved a little differently than I thought it would. Liz, this one is from p. 37 in the sketches book.

This one for the glass shop is a bit more understated. I used black as my page base to make the colors on the glass really pop. This one started out as the sketch on p. 64 but I just couldn't crop the three glass photos on the left.

And there's the card I made to put in my parents' hotel room when they get here tonight! Thanks to the buy/sell/trade boards on Splitcoast, I actually have a stamp with kokeshi dolls on it! And now I really need to get off the computer and start mopping the floors...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

It Just Figures....

So you've probably figured out that my parents are going to be visiting us on Okinawa soon, right? They're supposed to land late Saturday night. Guess what's supposed to land on Saturday morning?

Our first typhoon.

It just figures!! I was kidding around about that a few months ago, I told my dad "Wouldn't it be funny if we had a typhoon while you guys were here?" Me and my big mouth!! We'll just have to see what happens later this week though, maybe if we pray hard enough the typhoon will change course and go hang out in the middle of the Pacific...I do feel like going through a typhoon is a quintessential part of the Okinawa experience, but couldn't it have waited a couple weeks? Or gotten here a little sooner so as not to interrupt my plans? :p

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Pizza in the Sky

For some reason I always want to sing that to the tune of "Riders in the Storm". C'mon, sing along with me...Pizza in the Sky! :D

So last night we decided to try to find Pizza in the Sky. It's not a place that you're just going to happen to drive by and say hey, let's go there for pizza--you have to be *looking* for it, so it's like you're in the In Club on Okinawa if you can get there. We got directions off of and they even had pictures to help us out, and we needed it! But we didn't get near as lost as we did going to Okinawa world so it's all good! You have to drive on all these windy roads up in the hills and at a couple of points it looks like you're going to go on someone's driveway, not a real street. Kinda crazy! (You can see the directions here if you're interested, make sure you scroll down and click on the one with pictures to get a good idea of what we had to go through to get our pizza!)

So here's the view from the restaurant:

And another view...

I totally spaced bringing our camera but Missy and Bennet had theirs, so all the pictures on this blog post are courtesy of them. And I'm not the only one who takes pictures of shi-shi dogs!! He was on top of the restaurant:

Look, photographic proof that we were there, man! We arrived right around 6:35 and they close at 7:00, but you want to get there for sunset.

Look, photographic proof that we have friends! :D

And some more shi-shi dogs because I know you love 'em too, hehehe! And these ones are *happy* shisa!

They don't have a lot of tables inside the restaurant, but why would you want to sit inside anyway? We got a really good table outside (maybe because we were so late, everyone else was starting to leave when we got there). The menu was so cool, the waitress brought out a fan and undid it, and the menu was written on the fan which was the Japanese flag, white with a red circle in the middle. One side of the fan was written in English and the other side was Japanese. You can order a small (7 inch) pizza or a medium (14 inch) but you don't get to choose toppings. We just ordered two medium pizzas and four cokes.

They bring the pizza out piping hot from the oven, and it's got green bell peppers (I picked those off, I don't eat green food), onions, sausage I think? and CORN on it. Never heard of corn on pizza but it wasn't bad. I think they used a significant amount of garlic on it too. All in all, it was really good. The main challenge though was eating with chopsticks!!

Yeah, I only ever learned to use chopsticks after we arrived here in January and I'm not exactly what you'd call proficient at it. Maybe that's why I ended up eating less pizza than Lee did ;)

And here's a pic of the restaurant itself, by the time we left I think we were the last customers there.

So now we're part of the Okinawa In Crowd, we've been to Pizza in the Sky! Wahoo! And we'll be taking my parents there sometime next week!

I think my kickboxing instructor was on speed this morning! She said when we started class that she'd been up since 3:30 this morning and felt like she'd had an entire pot of coffee, and she acted like it I bet I'll be sore tomorrow! But for now I'm going to go meet Lee for lunch :) More soon, I've been working on my scrapbook like a madwoman!

Oh, by the way Mom and Dad, today's high was 88, the low will be 76, and we have a slight chance of scattered showers. :)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Old MacDonald Had a Dog...

And Shisa was his name-o! Am I mixing my nursery rhyme songs up?

While we were at Okinawa World on Saturday, I was informed by my three compatriots in no uncertain terms that I am beginning to get obsessed with taking pictures of shi-shi dogs. No word on whether or not they're planning an intervention...I wonder where I'd have to go for rehab? They may have a point though, at the rate I'm going I'll have enough pictures to do an entire scrapbook of nothing but shisa.

But they're just SO COOL!!!

They had a little museum/store that had nothing but shi-shi dogs in it, I'd love to have this pair. Sure, they're only $1500...

Wonder if that green color would go with anything else in my, we'll just redecorate so it all matches them, ha!

Here we go, how about a nice neutral-colored shisa? And he comes with his own ball so you can play fetch with him.

I could NOT get a good picture of this plate, they had a light shining straight down on it. This one was actually in the Ryukyu glass store.

If you look on this one you'll see where people have tossed coins in, I guess he's a wishing well shisa. He kinda looks more gargoyle-ish to me.

This is Kindergarten Shisa, guarding a rooftop--he kinda looks like something that elementary school kids would paint in art class. I think I'll stick with my $1500 green shisa.

Have you ever seen Roman Holiday? There's a part where Gregory Peck takes Audrey Hepburn to the Boca de Veritas and you're supposed to stick your hand in, but if you're a liar it will bite your hand off :) Anyone want to see if this shisa works the same way?

Hey look, it's the Incredible Hulk of shisa! Maybe I should hold out for this set...can't you just imagine a pair of these on either side of my front door?! I can!!

They're about five feet tall or so, next time we go I'll get a picture of me standing next to ol' Bruce Banner-san here.

Another one of the grade school shisa...but I got the sky to look cool in this picture :)

John Lennon Shisa!! Seriously, remember those round glasses that John Lennon used to wear?

Here's one I *didn't* take, Lee did!! So I'm not the only one, bwahahahaaa! These pics don't even represent all of the shisa that we saw at Okinawa World, in particular there's a large set of them by the entrance that I'd like to photograph...yep, we're taking my parents to Okinawa World to see the caves and the Okinawa handiworks, but really it's so I can take more pictures of shi-shi dogs. So am I obsessed? Addicted? In need of an intervention? :D

One advantage shi-shi dogs have over my two Lab mixes is they don't shed. I *just* finished vacuuming the house and they got in a play-fight in the computer room right behind me while I was writing this post, and there's enough hair on the floor in here now to knit a sweater. If only I knew how to spin thread...