Monday, July 31, 2006

80. What is Required in the Tenth Commandment? . . . (Garden Update)

A. The tenth commandment requireth full contentment with our own condition, with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbour, and all that is his.
Why Can’t My Corn be More Like My Neighbour’s Corn?
(The simple answer, of course, is: my soil isn’t like their soil, and my knowledge isn’t like their knowledge)

My Neighbour’s Corn Revisited
These particular neighbours have actually been a real blessing in our lives, even though I am constantly tempted to covet their corn. They are both retired and enjoy spending time together reading gardening manuals and working in their garden. Their garden is right on the road that Yuko always takes on her walks, and they are always chatting with her and giving her bundles of vegetables and inviting her into their garden to eat their strawberries. In fact, these neighbours have probably provided us with well over half of all the vegetables we have eaten this summer. I have also been getting some tips from them on what and how to plant in August.

My Corn Revisited (The Greyish Brown Parts of the Garden are Mine. The Green Bits to the Left are the Junior High School’s Potato Beds)
(The saddest part is that, with my being away so much during the birth of Grace, it has actually been my junior high school’s cleaning lady who has been doing all of the actual work in my garden, such as weeding—on her own initiative.)

My Potatoes, with the Junior High School’s Chemical Fertilizer Fed Potatoes as a Backdrop

Since my potato plants were completely withered up I decided to harvest them even though it wasn’t quite August yet. I optimistically took a big plastic bin with me but, not surprisingly, I could have saved myself the trouble and just taken the lid. On the other hand, it was a particularly small potato bed, and I only planted them as an afterthought when about ten leftover potatoes in our storage room started sprouting. All things considered, perhaps this wasn’t such a bad turnout of potatoes after all.

A couple of weeks ago sister #3 (she with the green thumb) informed me during a visit to our place that I needed to be more “ruthless” with my tomatoes. I thought I was a sufficiently ruthless person given my behavioural track record with board games, but apparently not. These are my now ruthlessly pruned tomato plants that we are growing in apple boxes outside our dining room window. It looks as if they will be bearing ripe mini-tomatoes by the time we get back from English Camp.

These are my eggplants. At least, there used to be two very pathetic eggplants in there until a couple of squash plants magically appeared and dispossessed them. Oh well, I don’t even like eggplants, anyway.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Home Again

The Baby has Landed . . . in Kazamaura:
Our Little Space Cadet in Her All-Purpose "Space Capsule" (calling Grace a "space cadet" is part of our cunning plan to hide her true identity as a baby-genius)

Grandpa and Grandma Elliot Visited and Brought Grace the Last Quilt Made by Great Grandma Elliot before She Lost Her Eyesight

Flexing, in Preparation for Giving Grace Her Bath in the Bathroom Sink . . . Notice the Handycam Mounted in the Corner in order to Take a Video of Grace’s Bath for Grandpa and Grandma Takahashi

After Her Bath, Clean, Clothed, and in Her Right Mind

How did She Fit inside of Her?!

According to the birth clinic’s report, Grace is gaining weight at three times the rate of a “normal” baby. Fortunately, she is accomplishing this fete on a pure diet of mother’s milk (available to her in superabundance), so we don’t have to worry about obesity. Grace’s baby fat will wear off naturally, and giving so much milk will help Yuko in her return to maximum fitness. One thing’s for certain, though: absolutely no sweets for Grace when she gets older! If she were ever to eat junk food and/or processed food (same difference) at the same rate she puts away her mother’s milk . . . .

Sunday, July 16, 2006

God’s Gift of the Power and Authority to Bless

The traditional Christian blessing for newborns: May the Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit bless you my child, for time and eternity, and may this blessing remain with you forever.

Along with the authority to forgive other people's sins against oneself, I believe that the authority to bless in the name of the LORD is the greatest gift God gives to His saints. The Scriptures are full of formally pronounced blessings and I do not believe that these should be taken as sentimental expressions of affection or pious sentiments of good will. God honoured blessings spoken by His servants in the Old Testament. In the New Testament Jesus said to the disciples “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,” and Paul reminded Timothy that “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” The life of a believer in Jesus Christ is a life of power; an infinite line of credit for forgiving and for blessing—a powerful authority indeed for one to possess. The blessing written above, with which I blessed our daughter on the day she was born, is a first blessing, a general blessing for newborns, but I am looking forward to making a close study of parental blessings in the scriptures, many of which are quite specific. There is also a book by David Michael that I am interested in getting called A Father’s Guide to Blessing His Children.

RooTube 03
Conversations with Grace and Yuko’s War on Hunger

2 min 2 sec

Friday, July 14, 2006

RooTube with Roo . . . Yaaaaaaawn (This One Is Boring, Too. Don't Watch It)

1 min 4 sec

Warning: Same as yesterday's warning. The good news is: this one is short.

The Trusses were Grace's first non-family visitors. They are our kind friends at Moya Camp (Aomori Christian Centre) up by Moya Hills who have been hosting us at their home since we came to Aomori to give birth. Bruce Truss and I go way back to when he was a young airman at Misawa and I was a little ten year old dingledorf . . . one of several missionary kids he was babysitting at a retreat at Moya Camp. It wasn't until years later that he came back---married and with kids---to be the caretaker of the same camp.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Welcome to RooTube

3 min 50 sec

This is the promised interview with Yuko about her “Pon!” Birth Plan. I will call these cell phone videos of our baby daughter RooTube because although they are taken with Mobileman II, they aren’t really Keitai Cinema movies. I chose the name RooTube because I will be hosting them on YouTube and because Yuko sometimes reminds me of Kanga and that would mean that Grace is Roo. Which brings me to a question that never troubled me before . . . who the heck is Roo’s father? What happened to him? Someone should have forced A. A. Milne to explain himself on that one. Anyway, I’m using YouTube for RooTube because Google Video takes at least 24 hours to verify videos before allowing them to go live online whereas YouTube verifies first and asks questions later.

WARNING: This video is boring. If you don’t know us, don’t bother watching this video. It is extremely boring. This isn’t your baby, and what could be more boring then watching someone else’s baby, especially if you don't even know them? If you want to watch something interesting, go watch one of those "Barby Girl" lip syncing videos or something. They’re getting old, but they’re still not as boring as this baby video.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

This Just In . . . Emma Grace Elliot a.k.a.
エリオット 恵真 Born in Aomori

Grace, Yuko, Me, and My Mother . . . Grace was born at 9:36 a.m. Tokyo time so, as one can deduce from the clock on the wall, this photo was taken when she was approximately 35 minutes old. As I write this, the clock reads 1:04 p.m. Gaijin for Life apologizes for the delay of this report but, as indicated by my firm grip on our brand new SONY DCR-DVD405 Handycam, the for-family home movie took priority. This home movie includes footage of Yuko’s last huffs and puffs and Grace's first few moments in this world as a purple giant (she weighed in at 3,600g and measured 53cm long . . . and it seems most babies are born bluish purple from the exertion). Those special moments will only be available on DVD, but Gaijin for Life plans to broadcast a Mobileman interview with mother and child, possibly as early as tomorrow. Find out how Yuko’s “Pon!” Birth Plan went!

Yuko with Grace, Assisted by the Midwife

I Participate in the Clinic’s “Papa Kangaroo” Skin-ship Moment (All photos in this post were taken with Mobileman II, my V604SH cell phone).

Monday, July 10, 2006

Waiting for Grace Part I

Summer in Kazamaura (5 July 2006)

Film Studies, in Preparation for Work on an All New Family Series
Everything from the display panel to the instruction manual is in Japanese and, while I am fluent enough to deceive people on the telephone, I am not literate enough to read printed matter with content requiring 100% comprehension (I’m much more comfortable in the 30% zone of minimum required reading comprehension level).

Circumstances have been conspiring to keep me indoors this season. Not only is it cold enough for us to break out our winter jackets when the fog rolls in off the coast, but Yuko being nine months pregnant has put the brakes on my usual summer pursuits such as hunger hikes (an otherwise normal hike in the mountains made abnormal by forgetting to pack a lunch) and tree climbing on the backcountry mountain roads. That’s just as well, since I really need to learn to operate the new Sony Handycam my in-laws sent me. Since they live far away in Hokkaido they want me to take lots of videos of their granddaughter. I am given to understand that “lots” means LOTS. This means that in addition to my responsibilities at Gaijin for Life’s Keitai Cinema, I am also now in charge of the Life of Grace series. Producing DVDs with high resolution footage from the Handycam is going to require learning a whole new set of skills involving hardware and software quite different from those used by the online Keitai Cinema. Although my new responsibilities will likely delay future Keitai Cinema productions, overall I expect that the experience and technical know-how I gain on the Life of Grace team will go far to enrich my work in the field of cell phone cinematography. In other news: Yes, today is Grace’s due date. No, Grace hasn’t been born yet.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Celebrating One Year of Marriage: Part I

I Love this Photo that Sarah Heidebrecht Took of Yuko and Me on Our Daily Walk because I think it Makes Us Look like Pooh and Piglet . . . or Christopher Robin and Pooh . . . or Something Like That

The overhaul of this site’s template and sidebar was largely done in celebration of our first wedding anniversary—thus the large “Wedding Photos” section and the slideshow download. In a post I wrote last January, exactly a year and a half ago, I said that our shared faith in Jesus Christ and a Biblically informed view on marriage was “the source of the trust we have in each other to journey towards our golden anniversary with equal fervour and tenacity regardless of the nasty surprises, disappointments and inconveniences that are bound to sideswipe us at one time or another.” So far we have been spared the anticipated “nasty surprises, disappointments and inconveniences.” These will, no doubt, come when we leave our relatively secure financial situation here in Kazamaura for the uncertainties of seminary life at Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto next fall, and as our children (as yet unborn) grow to be wilful and demanding human juveniles.

Yuko and I Open a Package from Her Parents Containing a Brand New Handycam with Which to Make Home Movies of Our Daughter for Them when She is Born (Never Fear, Keitai Cinema will Carry on in it’s Tradition of Using Only Cell Phones for Filming)

In the meantime, living by this principle shared with us by (among other people) our premarital counsellor has led to a very peaceful first year of marriage: 「譲り合うこと」. . . “deferring to one another.” If only one person is doing all of the deferring the relationship is an abusive one, but when two people are simultaneously deferring, one to the other, it’s a pleasant way to live. Talking to other young people, I get the distinct impression that many of them cannot summon up the courage or desire to get married because they neither wish to defer to the same person for the rest of their lives nor have faith that someone would ever do the same for them.