Summer 2016

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Summer in Tsukahara

Spring in Tsukahara

gkimbal's Spring in Tsukahara album on Photobucket

Friday, May 25, 2012

Such a Positive Person

Oh my! George wrote in his last blog that I wanted him to bring those airplanes??? It’s amazing how a positive person can interpret things his way. I never said I wanted to… I just didn’t want to waste money by throwing or giving away his toys. Every time we moved, we threw or gave away thousands of dollars of stuff. George didn’t like having garage sales or telling me the cost of the stuff he was throwing away. I usually found out later. As soon as I told him to bring all of those expensive airplanes, he made a huge box that looked like a coffin. It was so heavy and bulky. It was probably more expensive to ship the box than the airplanes. When we were first married, I complained how expensive his hobbies were to my aunt. She told me, “People need some interests and his are very creative and helpful for the house.” Since then, George always reminds me of her words. I asked the wrong person because she has as many hobbies as he does.

George is enjoying his life more than ever. He needs some good friends to share his hobbies with. I wish I could invite his students to fly the airplanes or to look through his telescope. Unfortunately, I am afraid to have hundreds of kids running around this small house. I know he wants me to show curiosity about his projects, but that stuff just sounds like blah, blah, blah to me. “Don’t you think it’s beautiful?” Um…m, all that I’m thinking is… “Please don’t crash it. It will cost more to fix it.”

Yet, I have tried to save pennies to build the garage as soon as possible. Of course, it’s so he can set up the telescope. I know I sound hypocritical. I guess it’s love, eh? Last night, I had to look for him. Usually when wives look for their husbands, they will call different bars or check the cell phone. In our case, I have to look for him outside in the dark. After I yelled for him a hundred times, he came back with a simple comment and question, “Shh…………., you’ll disturb the frogs. Isn’t the sky beautiful?” He is as bad as my dogs. My dog, Lucky, disappeared in the field and came back with a rash on his belly. We quickly fenced in the yard for him. I guess I’ll have to install a taller fence for my husband.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012


First, a brief commercial message: Don't believe anyone that tells you that where you live is not an important factor in finding and staying happy. I feel that 50% of happiness is where you live and the other 50% is how you live. It took me 50 years to figure that out! If I could only figure out how to have people contribute to my retirement fund.

Back to the blog: I haven't had a chance to set up my telescope in Japan. I want to build a permanent pier (observatory) for the scope eventually. I enjoy looking at the stars because I'm looking into the past. Many of the stellar displays occurred before our solar system was formed. Each miraculous view is an original masterpiece. The greatest excitement happens when I begin processing the photographs. The object is hidden and then it suddenly appears as if by magic. I have a lot of questions concerning the cosmos. I think I can find many of the answers in the skies over Tsukahara. Some of my astrophotos were posted in a previous blog. The night skies were polluted with city lights. I can’t wait to see the difference a clear and dark sky will make.

Even though we have been busy, I have managed to set aside some time each night to do some modeling. I haven’t built any remote controlled models since 2003. Erika encouraged me to bring all of my “toys” to Japan because she knew I would find time to do my hobbies. My first project was to rebuild the Super Questor. I built that airplane in 1978. It’s amazing that it has survived for 34 years and many hard landings. I rebuilt the tail and recovered the stabilizer. The plane is rebalanced and ready to fly. I hope to get it in the air as soon as the schedule and weather cooperates. 


My next two projects will be to get my Sagitta 900 and ASW 22 ready for flight. I’ll use a hi-start to get those planes into the air. Stay tuned for pictures.

I purchased a vintage Graupner Cirrus kit in 2003. The kit was made in 1969. When I was a kid, I saw a Cirrus being skillfully flown and I thought it was the most beautiful sailplane that I had ever seen. My brother (John) purchased a Kyosho Cirrus 3000 in the early 80’s. It was a close copy of the Graupner, but it wasn’t the same as the original. The wing joints on the 3000 had become brittle over the years. As I was performing a loop (1986) at 500 feet, the wings folded and I watched in agony as the plane spun to its final resting place. Project number four will be to build and fly the Graupner Cirrus.

Project number five will be to build a scale Curtiss Jenny that I have had stored away since 1990. The kit is amazingly detailed. My modeling skills will need improvement before I tackle this project. I expect it will take a few years to complete and I’m looking forward to every minute.

How did you manage to get those planes safely to Japan? I’m glad you asked. I chopped up my workbenches that I had in Washington and turned them into a very strong shipping container for RC airplanes. Pretty cool, huh? Woodworking, intarsia, and stained glass will be in the future…as soon as the garage is built.     

Monday, May 21, 2012

Is this home?

George has asked me many times, since we were married, the same question. He wanted to know if I felt at home. Since our marriage, we have lived in four houses and one business. He wanted to escape from our first new house in Cordelia, CA. because of the neighbor. The neighbor had ten barking Akitas. George couldn’t sleep or enjoy the backyard. It was a nightmare for him. After a few difficult years, we moved five miles away to a community called, “Green Valley Lakes.” We invested a lot of time (two years) and money into the yard with the hope that we would live there for many comfortable years.  After the koi pond and Japanese garden were completed, his employer closed the business and moved to Seattle. Even before that happened, George was complaining about the long commute and work. The “Green Valley” neighborhood was changing and George didn’t like what he was seeing.

He loved the third house, but he never liked the state of Washington. George spent every single minute of his spare time remodeling the house and I worked as his slave. The old and unique house was transformed into a beautiful home. We lived there for seven years. As soon as we finished remodeling, it was time to move. Every day he asked me, “Do you feel like this is your home?” Sure, I felt like it was home…the home that we invested so much money and effort, instead of going out and having fun.
A “home,” for me, was where George and the two dogs were. As long as we had a roof over our heads, and we were warm, I considered it home. That was never enough for him.
Today, after we came back from staying overnight at the business, he asked me again, “Do you feel like this is your home? Isn’t it good to be back?” Um…m, I am not sure this time. This house is far from being completed. There are still many boxes that can’t be stored because we cannot afford a garage. There is not enough closet space. We have rotted logs and leaks here and there. Usually, the older you get, the more comfortable you become, especially where you live. We are far away from feeling comfortable.
George, of course, said, “I feel this is my home.” After all of these years, he finally feels at home in the most uncomfortable, inconvenient, broken down house, we have lived in. I guess I have been trained well enough to switch to survival mode all of the time. My answer was…I just smiled. What else can I say?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Amazing Erika!

So, how is the business doing? I’m glad that you asked. We officially opened on April 15th (tax day). Erika has been extremely busy passing out flyers. I think this is called “foot work”. Erika likes to do three or four things at once. She walks the dogs while stuffing mailboxes with flyers…pretty efficient, huh? At the same time, she is meeting with potential clients and networking. So far, she has passed out several hundred flyers. Erika designed the beautiful flyers, business cards, website ,and other stuff. Yes, she is amazing! She has been juggling her schedule to make room for new students and schools. She often travels back and forth from Tsukahara to the business in Hasama. She also has a kinder in Oita City and Yufuin. In less than a month, she has accumulated four students in Oita, a kinder in Oita, a kinder in Yufugawa, a kinder in Yufuin, and six students in Hasama. Her students range from kinder to elementary to middle school to adult. She balances the books and somehow she finds time to cook, clean, wash clothes, and cut/ stack wood.

So, what does George do? I’m not so glad you asked. I just go to work and learn how to get the kids motivated to learn English. I often feel guilty about the unfairness of our workloads. Hey, it’s like the U.S….we’re using “team-work” to achieve a common goal. I’m the “team” and Erika does the “work”. A friend of mine recently wrote, “You’re very lucky to have a wife that would follow you to the ends of the Earth.” Erika didn't follow me to Japan...I dragged her! She was very heavy and I had to put her in cargo.
Erika often tells me to learn Japanese. I study a few words and phrases each day. It’s really hard for an old man to learn a new trick. The words don’t stick in my tiny, shriveled up brain. I think this helps me understand the difficulties an ESL student faces as they try to grasp a foreign language. I’ll keep trying and I hope my students will too.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


After two intense days of spring cleaning, our visitors arrived. My cousin (Megumi) and her son (Nao) arrived on Saturday afternoon. We had a pleasant walk to a local restaurant (Hammock) and had yakiniku (Japanese bar-b-que). The owners of the restaurant (Okunaga-san) were our friends and they gave us a little extra chicken and beef. The chicken was raised by the restaurant owner. Erika couldn’t eat the chicken because she had seen them earlier and felt bad about eating them for dinner. I understand. I wouldn’t have eaten them either if I had known. After the meal, we walked home and chatted for a while. Megumi and Nao had to leave very early the next morning to catch a bus/ train/ flight back to Kanagawa. Erika made omelets for breakfast and we enjoyed the view before we took them to Yufuin. The visit was short, but it gave my relatives a chance to see how I was doing. I’m sure my mother will get a full report.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

It's Not so Bad.

I didn’t like this place. I didn’t want to come back to Japan. I had planned to leave Japan ever since I was small. I wanted to be independent, living overseas.

I gained my independence when I was living in Australia. I married George and I lost it again. I regained it again in the U.S. as I quickly adapted to the culture of independence. Who imagined I would come back to Japan? All of our Japanese acquaintances feel sorry for George because he is in a foreign country…poor George.

Probably only his mother and I know how happy he has been since he came to Japan. I really hope his mother sees his happiness with her own eyes one day.

George often says that he might still be in the honeymoon stage because he is so happy. He wants me to be as happy as he is. How can I? I am in the place that I dreamed about leaving since I was small. I never wanted to have my own business. I prefer working for someone else and having no responsibility.

To my surprise, I am gradually finding that life in Tsukahara is pretty good. There are things that I found which I cannot buy…nature, George’s health and happiness. Since we rent a house for our school, we have had to stay there some nights. I don’t like the water, the air, street lights, noises from the neighbors and the conveniences of living in a city. Those are the things that never bothered me before. So, what’s wrong with convenience? Well, if I’m hungry, the bento shops (Japanese take-out shop) are just a step way. If I want something sweet, it’s also a step away. I can be as lazy as I want because of the conveniences. The result is that convenience makes me fat, unhealthy and wasteful. In Tsukahara, it’s a 20 minute drive to get those things…inconvenient. I have to plan ahead of time so that I won’t forget to buy things to cook. Food can’t be wasted and we are very careful about the trash that we generate. Living in nature and having a septic system requires us to do so. Inconvenience has made us healthier. We used to listen to loud music all day. As our friends know, George installed an expensive speaker system in every room in our home in the U.S. It was important to shield the inside from the outside with music. Outside distractions were drowned out with music. Things have changed dramatically. The stereo is rarely turned on and never above a whisper. Instead, we listen to the wind, frogs croaking, leaves rustling…nature.  

We often eat out…not at a restaurant…we don’t have money, but outside on our deck. We don’t watch television…no channels because of our location, but we have a picturesque view of our mountains in front of us. George enjoys playing the guitar and serenading the volcano while our dogs are running around the yard chasing sounds coming from the tall grass. The small flowers/weeds growing along the gravel road leading to our home brings a smile to George. He enjoys discovering a green frog or viewing a raccoon off to the distance. Sometimes he’ll report that he saw a weasel or a red fox. He never counts the days till the weekend. He doesn’t mind Mondays. With such a tiny salary, he is so proud of what he is doing. I wonder how many people in this world find something more precious than money. His happiness teaches me a lot of things. I hate to admit it, but I think I may be happy in Tsukahara…shhh, don’t tell anyone.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Best Laid Plans

Golden week is here and I had a gazillion things planned for around the house. I planned to continue construction of the wood shed. I planned to finish repairing rot around the lower logs of the house. I planned to clean the chimney. I planned to cut firewood. I planned to mow weeds in the yard. I planned to wash the cars. I planned to…well, I planned to do something constructive with the few days that teachers have off. Outside forces have decided, for me, what I will do for my long weekend. It appears that I will be taking the scaffolding down. Fortunately, the work that required the scaffold has been completed. I’m guessing that two days will be required to complete the dismantling process. The rest of my time will be used to “spring clean” the house in preparation for a visit from my relatives. My cousin and nephew from Kanagawa will be visiting on Saturday. The visit comes as a pleasant surprise and I’m looking forward to seeing them. The house needs a good cleaning after the long winter and this will give us a reason to do it.