Tuesday, October 17, 2006

RooTube 7: The Dancing Baby

50 sec

Grace Continues Her Campaign to Convince the World that She Is Not Boring . . . Just Bored.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Aomori is Still Beautiful . . . Even Though I Haven’t Had Time to Write About It Lately

Beautiful Lake Towada

Action Photo of Yuko, Mom, and Dad Running Around the “Statue of the Virgins” (Usually Translated “Statue of the Maidens”) at Beautiful Lake Towada (Both the “Virgins” are Actually the Sculptor’s Middle-aged Wife . . . .)

Constellation of Squid Boats on the Tsugaru Strait: The Beautiful View from Our House at Night

Out with the Old (Left), In with the New (Right): The Beautiful Reality of New Tatami

My status in this village has greatly improved since I got married. Within a few months of Yuko’s arrival, the mayor dropped by our house to ask her to become the forth member of the village board of education (as a replacement for the one that had just died of old age). That means that at many village functions I get to sit at the head table with my wife instead of at the bottom table with the cleaning ladies (where foreign Assistant Language Teachers belong). A seating map for a recent banquet showed a square at the head table labelled “Board Member Mrs. Yuko Elliot” and, next to it, a square labelled “Luke.” I’m glad that at least one person in our family is entitled to an honorific and a surname, since even the cleaning ladies are afforded that dignity. But I digress. The board of education has always been good to me, but to my wife they are very good. The other day, after a board meeting, my wife pointed out that the tatami mats in our house were of dubious quality. They immediately sent someone to check on it, and the tatami-man declared our tatami to be ten to fifteen years older than the house itself. When he lifted the tatami mats up he discovered a decaying world of mould and creepy-crawly beasties. Now all the tatami has been replaced and we are living like royalty, enveloped in the sweet aroma of green straw. My wife’s success in this matter gave me courage to ask the board to install a new ventilation fixture so that we can move the superfluous second stove in the living room over to our bedroom. The previous winter, the lack of a stove forced us to evacuate our bedroom for nearly four months. Last time I requested a new stove vent I was still a bachelor and my request never got anywhere, but this time I received an immediate affirmative. I guess this is the board of education's way of rewarding me for increasing the village’s population by getting married and having a kid.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Let’s Walking

Dangers to the Right of them, Dangers to the Left of Them . . .
Every event in Japan begins with a ceremony of sorts, even elementary school field trips. And every ceremony must have its speeches:
“Kids, remember the dangers we spoke of. What dangers shall lie upon your left, among the hills and forests?”
“The Bears and the Bees!”
“Even so. And what dangers shall be at your feet upon the trail?”
“The snakes!
“Even so. And what dangers shall lie upon your right, where lieth the river?”
“The cliffs!”
Even so. Kids, I know you’re not used to walking. But what awaits you when you reach the goal?”
“Our box lunches!”
“Even so. Against the dangers to your left the teachers have armed themselves with bear-bells and pesticides. Your rubber boots shall protect you from the dangers at your feet upon the trail. But for the dangers upon your right there is no defence. If you fall off the cliffs into the river, you will never get to enjoy the box lunches your mothers prepared for you.”

Danger to the Right of Them

The sad truth is that the kids in my rural little village walk on their two legs even less than their urban neighbours . . . possibly even less than the monkeys that occasionally invade their homes. After all, “playing outside” ceased altogether way back when I was in grade three. That was the year Nintendo started marketing the Fami-con (Family Computer). I was actually surprised that they were able to puff their way over the entire 5km of trail.

Empty Cicada Shells Locked in Eternal Combat On a Picnic Table Where the Kids Were Playing with Them

The Forest (a.k.a. The Dangers to the Left of Them)