Summer 2016

Summer 2016
Summer in Tsukahara

Spring in Tsukahara

gkimbal's Spring in Tsukahara album on Photobucket

Monday, January 31, 2011

初心者クラス終了

ケーキデコレーションの初心者クラスを終了しました。クラスの皆はケーキを焼くのが趣味で、何度かデコレーションも試みてみた人ばかりでした。私みたいに、ケーキも焼いたことがなかったなんて人はいなくて、みんなの注目はいつも私。でも、先生やクラスのみんなに助けてもらいながらよく頑張りました。私の存在は笑いのネタにちょうどよかったようです。そういう意味ではクラスに貢献しました。

今回はニコルの子供たち行きです。

修了書までもらいました。

昨日は残りのアイシングでちょっと練習。ジョージがチョコレートケーキにしてみたらというので試してみたら、これまた大変。黒の生地に白いフロスティングをするわけだから、黒いブツブツが表面に出て来て醜くなってしまった。アイシングも少量しかなかったのでデコレーションというより、失敗を隠すことで精一杯。

カップケーキ
チョコレートケーキ。アイシングが十分なかった。
ケーキポップ。ケーキの残りを丸めて赤いチョコレートでコーティング。バレンタインにちょうどいいでしょ。
同じくケーキポップ。色んな顔を作ってみました。

ケーキミックスの残りでカップケーキと初めて作ったケーキポップ。これはよくできました。初心者だから...。

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cake Decoration

My next challenge is cake decoration. Again, I know if this were George, people would understand if he did it. Even though everyone knows he can do a better job, he is not interested in decorating cakes. He thinks that as far as the cakes are tasty, that’s enough. He also knows that this skill could help us in the future, when we are living in Tsukahara. We are not certain what we will be able to do for a living in Japan…teaching, café…anything and everything for survival. Any skills that we can develop in the present will help us for our future. Then, why not, since I have so much time and this makes George happy since I can get out and challenge myself.

By the way, I don’t think I have so much spare time since I lost my job. Walking the dogs for 4 hours everyday, cooking, cleaning and running errands require tremendous time and energy. I’ve developed a respect for house wives and husbands.

Well, this is my first cake. The instructor told us to draw something easy. I asked George to draw a cute dog. After I brought the decorated cake home, George took a close look at it. He smiled and asked, “I thought I drew a dog, not a chick?” I needed to make an excuse. “I didn’t have time. I spent most of the time frosting the white cream around the cake and I had only 10 minutes to do the picture. It’s not easy to decorate in such a short time and with so much pressure.” I quickly spelled one of the neighbors’ kids’ names in Japanese on the cake and gave it to him. He was polite enough not to say anything, but he did smile. His mother kept saying, “It’s so cute. This looks like one of the cartoons on your (her kid) computer game.” The boy still didn’t say anything, but kept smiling at it. The decoration is probably worse than a chick. Hey, the cake should be good…it’s from a box. How much can I possibly mess it up?
Practiced frosting and pon-pon flowers





Jewelry

The people who know me can’t believe that I started making jewelry. I am far from being materialistic. I don’t like shopping or exchanging gifts. Also, I don’t have any sense of art, no patience for detailing and I’m terrible with my hands. Unlike me, George is detail oriented, patient, and has a sense of art. As an example, I included a picture of a origami that he made.  
After being laid off, I planned on having lots of extra time to do things. George was worried about me being isolated from society. Well, my communication skills with my dogs improved. George believed I was getting depressed. So, I tried to find something that I could do better than him. I knew he wouldn’t be interested in making jewelry and it just happened that I glanced at an ad for a class in making jewelry that was sitting on the table. Fate invited me to challenge myself.


The first time I made some jewelry, my mother-in-law commented, “it’s kind of boring.” She was brutally honest, but that’s one reason I liked her very much (when we are not arguing). She said, “The recent trend for earrings is for them to be long. Look at Ann Curry (who she likes), she wears long earrings.” Reacting to her comments, I made… (more like practiced) many long earrings. George shared with me his opinions, but he wasn’t much help since he thought earrings looked painful and are unnecessary. He, however, helped me assemble some of the complicated designs.
After I made a couple of long earrings, my mother-in-law liked them and offered to sell some. So, I quickly made many different long ones and mailed them to her. A month later, she sent me money for whatever she sold. I was so excited to see $$$ for my efforts. Later, she sent back some leftover earrings that she could not sell. I was surprised and disappointed to see so many. I first thought she was feeling sorry for me and that she gave me money for something I didn’t sell. I called her and asked her if that was the case. She said, “No, I don’t do that kind of thing. You sent me quite a few of them and I sold most of them.”  I had forgotten how many I had sent her. Well, I am no longer interested in selling earrings, but I want to learn some new techniques. I decided not to give up the hobby until I accomplish something. Who knows what my future will bring!!!

Erika

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Traveling with Dogs to Japan

It’s been almost a year since the dogs received their ISO approved microchips and the first of two rabies vaccines.  My goodness how time flies. I prepared the dogs for travel to Japan last year with the hope that we would move in October of 2010. The entire procedure took about 8 or 9 months. First, the USDA was contacted in order to find a local qualified veterinarian to do the work. Dr. Orlan at Sacajawea Animal Hospital was one of the choices. Her office was about 5 miles away. After making initial contact and confirming that she was qualified in exporting animals overseas, I made an appointment. I was relieved to hear that she had experience in exporting dogs to Japan. However, that relief was soon tarnished after I found that Lucky had a microchip implanted previously before he was adopted. Dr. Morlan was confident that the microchip was acceptable. I could not take any risks, so I insisted that the microchip be read by an approved ISO reader. My doubts proved to be correct. The microchip was not ISO approved. Dr. Morlan inserted the correct microchips in Lucky and Kiley. I witnessed that the ISO reader read the microchips properly. If you ever have this procedure done, be forwarned. The needle to inject the microchip was huge! Once the microchip was implanted, Dr. Morlan  administered the USDA approved rabies vaccination.
It was important that the microchip number, vaccination specs., date, address, names, even the color of the ink (blue), be correct. I must have checked the information a dozen times. Once the dogs are at the quarantine office in Japan, it would be too late to correct a mistake. Having the dogs spend 6 months locked up in quarantine because I did not pay enough attention to all the details, would be more than I could live with. Do your homework! Make sure you have the most updated information you can get. I emailed the quarantine office in Osaka to confirm my paperwork was up to date. I also kept in touch with the USDA in Olympia to make sure I was following procedures correctly. I learned my lesson about doing government paperwork myself when I was trying to bring Erika to America. I hired an immigration attorney and found that he missed many details when he filed the paperwork. Don’t rely on them! His mistakes delayed Erika’s arrival and cost me a lot of money.
After a minimum of 30 days had passed, the dogs were given a second USDA approved rabies vaccine. Again, I made sure all of the paperwork was in order. Ten days after the booster shot was given, blood samples were taken. This time, it was important that the samples were properly marked and matched with the correct microchip and to the correct dog. The samples were shipped to the only testing facility in North America, located at Kansas State University. Fortunately, Dr. Morlan had worked or attended school at the university and was familiar with their stringent protocols. After two or three weeks, the reports came back. The dogs were free of rabies to the standards required by the USDA and Japan.
"Crate! Come and get it!" 
The next step required that the dogs remained in the U.S. for a minimum of 6 months. During this period, I researched the best flights to get the dogs to Japan. It was out of the question to have Kiley and Lucky fly in the cargo hold for 10 hours. That fact eliminated ANA and Japan Airlines. Delta and United became our choices. During our last trip to Japan, we were able to fly on both airlines. Delta flew 767’s to Japan. I noticed that the room under the seats was cramped in economy class. I found that United’s 777 offered more room under the seats. If we flew Economy Plus, then I believed that the dogs would have enough room. We were considering purchasing an extra seat to allow for more room. There are many things to consider when flying internationally with your dog. Only a few dogs are allowed in the cabin per flight. Arrive early as the airlines have a first come, first served policy. Some types of dogs are not allowed to fly during certain times of the year. Some dogs can’t be sedated. It’s important to call reservations in advance to make sure the pet policies haven’t changed. I planned to take the most direct route to Tsukahara, which meant landing in Osaka. I had to consider how long the dogs would be required to stay cooped up in the crates. I figured a few hours before the flight, during the flight, and a couple of hours after the flight. That’s a total of 15 hours! I needed a crate that was airline approved, would fit under the seat, be large enough for the dogs to move around in, and could be carried by us. I researched all kinds of dog carriers and came up with one that a friend of ours had been using. The carrier was made by Sturdi Products. The carrier was soft, flexible, and light. It was just a matter of getting the dogs used to going inside of it. We had made it a habit of feeding the dogs in the crates for the past year. If I said, “Crate”, they immediately associated the crate with something good. Whether or not they can withstand being in the carrier for 15 hours is still undetermined. I asked Dr. Morlan if we could give Lucky and Kiley a sedative to get them through this ordeal. She prescribed an anti-anxiety pill, Alprazolam 2mg, that has proven to be effective for both dogs during recent fireworks and thunderstorms. The real test will be figuring out how much to give to calm them for such a long journey. Honestly, I think I’ll need the sedatives more than the dogs. I’ll be a nervous wreck!
Lucky and Kiley - no hesitation to claim their own favorite toy that was sent as a X'mas present
If we had moved to Japan last October, I would have contacted the Osaka Quarantine office a minimum of 45 days in advance. They would have sent proof of confirmation that is required ahead of time in order for the dogs to be seen at the quarantine office. In other words, early notification prepares them for the arrival of our dogs. Next, I would have contacted the airlines, confirmed their pet travel policies, and reserved seats. Ten days before departure, I would have visited the Dr. Morlan to get a health certificate for the dogs. I would have also made an appointment with the USDA to bring the health certificates and have the paperwork certified. A day or two before traveling, I would have confirmed with the airlines that we would be traveling with two dogs in the cabin. I would also confirm that I had all the proper paperwork to get the dogs safely on board and to Japan.  
Buddhism


Good Girl!
Even with all this planning, there is no guarantee that the dogs won’t have to spend any time in quarantine in Japan. If everything goes well, the dogs would only have to be at the quarantine office for a couple of hours. The clock is ticking. I have two years from when the rabies vaccinations were given to get the dogs to Japan. The process so far has cost $1000 for both dogs. I don’t want to wait much longer for two reasons. Repeating this process would be a huge and expensive pain.  Kiley is almost 7 which means she’s reaching the point to where she’ll be too old to endure the stress of such a journey. This fact is weighing heavy on my conscience. The daunting task of getting the dogs to Japan and through customs overshadows what happens after we arrive. It’s just too much to think about.
George

Monday, January 10, 2011

Before and After

To my best friend A.L.,
As per your request, I have uploaded the “before and after” pictures of my house in Seattle.

AL probably thinks we were stupid to have spent so much money on remodeling since we can’t get the money back when we sell the house. I appreciate her concerns, but we didn’t plan on the economy crashing before we put the house on market. At least, the dogs and I enjoy the clean and new environment. Guess what, when we move to Japan, we will be back to living in an old and small house. The most expensive part of the remodel was not the interior, but the roof. This was a priority since we needed to keep dry in rainy Seattle. The HOA allows only the most expensive type of roofing. When we bought this house, we were told that it would cost only 15K to change the roof. But it ended up costing 30K. Never trust seller’s mouth, eh?

So, here you go;
You can see where all of our hard work and money went to.
Erika

 
 
Kitchen Before

Kitchen After
  
Kitchen After
 
  
Hallway Before - all purple tiles

Hallway After - Changed to bamboo flooring and
George made the shoji screen and the art on the wall

 

Front Yard - Before, We removed all the roses
 
Front Yard After - planted a lot of maples and azaleas
and added two rock walls

Living Room - After - new paint and moulding,
George made the mirrored mantel over the fireplace
Living Room - After - George made a window seat
for the dogs. Kiley loves to spend hours
on the bench looking outside
 
Master Bathroom - Before

Master Bathroom - After
  



Wednesday, January 5, 2011

天体観測

このところずっと雨や雪続きでした。また明日からずっと雨らしいです。やっと晴れたと思った時は翌日が出勤日で、私から早く就寝することを強制させられて、ジョージは天体観測がずっとできない状態でした。やっと昨夜、休日前の夜に晴れたと喜んで、まだ風邪が治ってないにも関わらず、私の言葉は無視して遅くまで天体観測をしていました。さて眠ろうかという時に、何を見たかなど、いろいろと説明をされたけど、もちろん私はチンプンカンプンです。。こういう解らないことを眠る前に話されると、かえって子守唄代わりで早く眠りにつけました。

今日は何か天体観測に必要(?)なものを作りを始めました。これを買うと150ドルはするということで自分で作ることにしたそうです。必要、高いと言えば、私からオーケーが出ると思っているんでしょうね、きっと。いったい何を作るのか気になるところですが、何を説明されてもどうせわからないので何も質問しないことにしています。結局、いつものように材料費の方が高くつくんです。でも何とも熱心に作っています。ジョージがいるといつもジョージの側にぴったりくっついてまわるラッキーも、あまりにもジョージが夢中になっていて相手をしてもらえないので、先ほど私の居るコンピュータールームをノックしてきました。邪魔しちゃあダメだって、犬にもわかるんでしょうね。可哀想に...。今は私の横で眠っています。

ここは街中なのでなかなかきれいな星が見れません。天体観測のことを考えると、早く塚原に引っ越したくてたまらないようです。

Sunday, January 2, 2011

新年

あけましておめでとうございます。
今年も宜しくお願いします。

ジョージは新年早々風邪を引いてしまいました。ずっと雨・雪続きで、今週の休みには晴れそうなのでやっと天体観測ができると楽しみにしていたのに...。早くよくなりますように。