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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Festival in Tsukahara

Our tiny community of Tsukahara will be holding a festival in September. The purpose of the event is to bring awareness (to the tourists) of the variety of services our area has to offer. What’s the big deal, George? Believe it or not, a couple of years back, this event attracted over a thousand visitors. The event coordinator is trying to scale down the attendance due to the lack of parking and facilities. He does expect around 500(+) visitors this year.

This will be our first time attending and I’m not sure what to expect. I’ll be participating in the activities. What will you be doing?  See picture below:


Under “Event Info(r)mation, am 11:00”, you’ll see my name in hiragana. The rough translation is, “George Kimball, Acoustic Mini Live”. Huh? I asked Erika what that meant and she said, “You’ll be playing a few songs on the guitar, live”. Good grief. I’m not a performer by any means, but desperate people do desperate things. They desperately needed someone to fill the music slot and I was asked. Oh well, I’ll try to make the best out of the situation.
I’ll be performing “Country Roads” in English. Next, I’ll be performing the same song with the kids from Tsukahara in Japanese (more on that, later). Next, I’ll sing either “City of New Orleans” or “Imagine.” I’ll finish with a song called, “Flower that Shattered the Stone.” The cool thing about that song is that half of the lyrics are in Japanese. Japanese? Yeah, I’ll be singing in Japanese. Are you nervous about performing in front of all those people? Nope, I've been there and done that. I just hope I don’t fall off the stage or anything like that. Stay tuned...    George


Monday, August 19, 2013

Summer Event at Tsukahara


I’m pleased to report that the summer event at our home was a great success. One of the parents did a fabulous job of planning and preparing the festivities. Without her help, none of this would have been possible. Our guests arrived promptly at 5pm in a caravan of four cars. The weather cooperated by giving us a break with the hot temperatures. A light, cool breeze was welcomed by everyone. After a short time of getting settled, the kids started playing soccer and the parents began barbequing. It was a good time for some of the parents to kick back and relax. Lucky and Kiley were busy with a huge bone. Soon, it was time to eat.





There was plenty of food to go around. After the main course was served, it was time for the dessert. Dessert? You can’t have a decent barbeque without…marshmallows. My mom shipped us a couple of bags of campfire-sized marshmallows from the U.S. and the kids went nuts over them. I think the adults did also. They had never seen marshmallows that large. I gave a short class on the intricacies of roasting marshmallows. The kids soon got the hang of it and were happily roasting away.

Before it was too dark to see my sheet music, we started to sing…in English…of course. I think I enjoyed that portion of the evening the most. I had envisioned playing the guitar in front of a group of people, at our home, before we ever moved to Tsukahara. It was a dream come true when I saw the kids singing with the mountains as the backdrop, a campfire glowing, and a blanket of stars above our heads. We sang “Hey Let’s Go!, It’s a Small World, and Doe-A-Deer.”

After the food and entertainment, we went for a short hike around the neighborhood. It was dark, but we had flashlights and lots of enthusiasm. We walked Lucky and Kiley with the kids taking turns controlling the leashes. “Hey Let’s Go!” was the appropriate theme song as we explored the darkness of the Tsukahara countryside. After about 20 minutes, our walk was suddenly cut short with the boom of fireworks. Lucky and Kiley were frightened by the pyrotechnics, so we headed back. We arrived in time for another short fireworks display that was being held somewhere close by. 
Before it was time to call it a night, I had everyone sign our “Home Sweet Home” guestbook. Well, it was a piece of washi that would go into the guestbook. I’ll write more on the construction of that project in another post. Overall, it was a good time for all. According to our guests, the highlights of the event were the marshmallow roasting, playing soccer, singing, and hiking. I had hoped that we could have had more activities which involved English. I believe this will materialize in our next event. Next event? Hey, why not? I was discussing with Erika that we should do this every week. She thought I was crazy, but you never know…        George




Monday, August 12, 2013

Look! It's a tail.

And now, a word from our sponsor. Have you ever purchased dog food that your canine companion didn’t like? Never fear. Your dog will love Kirkland brand dog food. The first ingredients listed on the bags are either chicken or lamb. That’s a good thing. It means that the primary ingredient is not corn. In Japan, it’s difficult to find dog food that doesn’t contain corn. Sure, the dogs like the taste, but corn is not good for them. Our dogs eat dry dog food because it’s good for their digestion and teeth. It must taste good because Kiley is finicky about her food. In America, we used to purchase our dog food at the pet store. They must have had 50 different varieties of food. We asked for samples of 10 different dog foods. Kiley refused to eat any of them, except for one. Luckily, it wasn’t the most expensive, gourmet type of dog food.

In Japan, we discovered that we can purchase our dog food online from Flying Pig. The 40 pound bag costs about 5000 yen. The cool thing about ordering online is that the delivery fees are very reasonable. Another cool thing about ordering things online is that the delivery times can be selected. Talking about convenience. I can have an item delivered on a Sunday night if I chose to do so. The food arrives well packaged and with a signed packing slip from the person boxing the items. Great service! If you haven’t guessed, Flying Pig is associated with Costco.    George

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Who is that? It’s Erika. Nice hat! On top of the hundreds of other things she can do, Erika can paint. Speaking of painting…the workshop/ garage has two coats of primer and one coat of paint. The second coat will be applied on Sunday if the weather holds out. We chose colors that match our home. The lower section will be stained to mimic the logs on our home. So, what do you think?

Saturday is a big day for us. We are expecting 22 people to visit us. I’m a little nervous about the whole thing, but all of the planning has been taken care of. We have been prepping the yard for the big event. Our septic system will get a workout. The dogs will have lots to sniff. We have plenty of wood for the BBQ and the guitar is tuned up. The weather…well, we’re in the mountains and that means it’s unpredictable. Lately, the weather has been fantastic and we have been eating our breakfast and dinner outside on the deck. The evening breeze that Tsukahara is famous for has been providing some much needed relief from the summer heat. I think our guests will have a memorable time. I think we will, too.

On August 12th, the Perseid Meteor Shower is expected to peak. Our guests should be able to catch a glimpse of some falling stars on Saturday night. If you are interested, the best viewing will be early on Monday morning.  Plan on a couple of hours before sunrise. Look towards the “W” and the “Square” in the sky. There will be no moon so the night sky should be perfect for viewing. Expect about 100 meteors an hour, but from my experience…you never know. Just find a comfortable spot that’s away from any street lights and kick back. It’s one of the few celestial events that can be enjoyed without any visual aids plus the view is best while laying on your back.    George

Monday, August 5, 2013

Hey, I know them!

The world is very small, indeed. We were shopping at Handsman for some wood to frame up the benches. I came across a familiar name in the lumber department…Weyerhaeuser. Who? Weyerhaeuser. You know…the company Erika used to work for. The lumber is labeled “SPF” which stands for “Spruce, Pine, Fir”. To the untrained eye, each piece of wood looks the same. The trick is to smell the wood. Each species of wood has a unique scent. Well anyway, it’s kinda cool knowing that the benches on the deck are made of wood from Erika’s old stomping grounds. Greg (Erika’s former boss), if you are reading this, any comment?     George