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gkimbal's Spring in Tsukahara album on Photobucket

Monday, June 17, 2013

High Class

Note: We didn’t buy this melon. It was given to us.

I’ve always wanted to know what a twenty-plus-dollar melon tasted like. Did it have the taste that only the elite could experience? Maybe, a pearl or some kind of gem was hidden inside. Maybe, the juice from this melon was considered the nectar of the gods? I was salivating at just thinking about the possibilities. Here’s what I discovered.

The melon looked like any other melon. The melon tasted like…brace yourself…any other melon. So, what made this melon so special as to deserve the high price tag? Before I answer that question, here’s a hint. The name of this melon is “High Class.” Umm, whatever. Give up? It’s the box! For crying out loud, the box comes with its own handle. Now honestly, wouldn’t you pay a few extra bucks for a nice box?     George

B.T.W.  Melons that cost over $100 exist. I wonder...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Red Sunrise

We awoke at 5:15 am and Erika announced, "Look the sun's red!"
"Quick, get the camera!" I ordered. Capturing that special moment gave me a reason to reflect.

The red sunrise reminded me that I live in Japan. That might sound strange since I’m immersed in Japanese society. Living in the countryside gives me an opportunity to “get away”. The scenery reminds me of Napa Valley, California. When the evening fog rolls in, I swear that I’m back in Green Valley. All that is missing are the wineries…the traffic…the noise. There are no billboards to display Japanese characters. All of the homes in Tsukahara Highlands are either log cabins or western style architecture. Just by looking out the window, there is no way to tell where I am. The red sun (the symbol of the Japanese flag) is a stark reminder of my Japanese existence.

When I lived in the Seattle area, I often found myself asking Erika, “Does this feel like home?” She would reply. “Of course! This is where you and the doggies live.” Each time I would respond by saying, “Nope, this doesn’t feel like home. I feel like I’m living in a hotel and just visiting.” For seven long years, I felt this way. I couldn’t put my finger on why this was so. The answer became clear as I began to make Japan my home. It was all about making choices. Choices? Yes, choices.

I purchased my first home in 1995. I had lived there for almost 6 years. During that time, my backyard neighbor had driven me nuts. A long story made short, I moved because the neighbor decided to raise 10 Akita’s in his backyard. My second home was in Green Valley. I lived there for over three years. Erika and I built a Japanese garden. We had plans of living there for many years. Unfortunately, my workplace closed an office in the Bay Area thus forcing me to relocate. It was heartbreaking to leave those beautiful nishikigoi. Do you see a pattern forming here?

I never really wanted to move from either location…I had to in order to keep my sanity and to keep food on the table. Leaving Green Valley left a bad taste in my mouth. I refused to call Seattle my home. It was my choice to leave Seattle. It was my choice to leave my career. It was my choice to make a change. Did I choose wisely? Only time will tell. So far, so great. I chose to take control of my life and did something about it.

BTW, I haven’t asked Erika if Tsukahara feels like home. Why? Simply put…because I chose to live here and I know it is.   George

Thursday, June 6, 2013

De "siding" what to do next

Pink garage doors!? I was assured that the doors will be painted a more appropriate color as soon as the weather cooperates. I’m starting to caulk the seams of the siding. I’m using Permachink  ¼’’ foam backer rod as a filler before applying the caulking. Luckily, the extra foam I ordered a while back is coming in handy. As soon as the workshop is caulked, it will be time for stain and rain gutters. I have lots of practice installing gutters on our home. I’ll be using some left over rain gutters that our neighbor gave us. The dark brown gutters should match the stain.

Ready for sealant
Backer rod
stainless fasteners

It’s important that the siding is installed with stainless steel fasteners. This prevents those ugly black streaks from forming and bleeding through the finish. The carpenter was very careful to use siding that had very tight knots or no knots at all. I noticed that we have a fair amount of leftover siding. I’m not sure if we will be able to keep it. You paid for it, right? Well, yes and no. We did receive a good deal on the garage. Maybe the carpenter is expecting the extra wood as compensation? It’s one of those cultural things. If we insist on keeping the lumber, there might be hard feelings. Since I would like to use the carpenter’s services again in the future, hard feelings would be a bad thing. I need the siding for my future observatory, but I need the carpenter’s expertise on our remodel even more. The best we can do is to give a hint that we are interested in the wood. I believe in America we call it, "Beating around the bush." We'll see what happens.  George