Saturday, July 14, 2007

We're Still Here!

Well, we survived Typhoon Man-Yi. We lost power from about 1pm until after 7pm. Along with almost 93,000 other homes on the island (about 1/6th of Okinawa). 27 were injured, mostly because they were outside and got knocked to the ground by the 100mph gusts. The wind howled on through late last night, but despite the air conditioners in both Mia's bedroom and ours being on the fritz now (yeah, great) we slept like proverbial babes after the fitful and loud night before.

Video of the wind, rain, waves & some dude across the street from us trying to secure something on his balcony can be seen here, here, and here.

Here's Craig on the balcony during our only lull in hard winds & rain (so it was just really windy and somewhat rainy - the eye never passed over us, it remained off-shore) taking pictures of the waves.

Our typhoon doors were shut on our double sliding doors in the living room. This definitely was a good thing.

The view to the east as the wind & rain pounded our window. The bars are on the east-facing windows to prevent flying debris from breaking them. Again, definitely a good thing.

One of the wave pictures Craig snapped; the white water was rushing almost completely horizontally - northward on the west coast. I'd never seen anything like it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Wrath Of Mother Nature

We are IN IT baby! Though so far we've still got power (as I knock on the table I type on) and though it's loud and rattling as all get-out, we're holding up fine. Kinda bored.

Ok, I'm going to download the pictures & video on the desktop (on the laptop now). I'll try to get them up soon. Crazy storm - crazy. More current info visit (cool animated imagery-zoom in on Okinawa by clicking on the typhoon on the lower left) or

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Just Received From The Front Desk

Just got this from the front desk girl who's knocking on doors. This is so cute- they're telling everyone to put stuff they have on their balconies inside - but I wonder how they got the word "spurted"? Hm.

It's All Good In The Hood

On Monday I took Mia to the arcade area next to the food court at Jusco - picture Chuck E. Cheese on STEROIDS! Here she is coloring in a picture on the computer, which then - despite the language barrier - we somehow figured out how to print & take home. All for 100¥! (ya like that? I finally looked up how to code the yen sign in HTML)

Here's the place - you can see some women on those machines where you put in coins and the little arm pushes them off the edge - and there are also slot machines & video poker & pachinko games. This area at Jusco actually puts Chuck E. Cheese to shame. Wait until I send you pictures of the SEGA store - it makes the games at Dave & Busters look like pong.

Another Mia shot - here she is next to the flowers at the "Make Man" store (like Home Depot with a big garden section and a 100¥ section too). Another one of our favorite places to spend time. They have so many kinds of plants there, it's fun to browse and smell the flowers. We might get a veggie plant or two for our balcony. Definitely some orchids.
Mmmmm....Coffee Casa. Happiest place in my world right now. It's a block and a half away. To the left is a new Turkish Kabab restaurant, and one more block to the left is a new sushi joint. Note the outdoor patio - I'll partake when the heat index is below 100 degrees.

The lovely environment in which to enjoy your iced chocolate banana mocha - or whatever you choose. And a homemade delicious muffin (oy-shi is delicious or yummy in Japanese we learned, and "cohee" is coffee). The place is decorated with pictures of American cities & Route 66 memorabilia.
The next shot is of the front counter. The woman who works here brings you some water glasses with ice and a Perrier bottle filled with water with a pour spout put in it. Love the recycling. And to sweeten your iced coffee they give you a tiny pitcher (like a pancake syrup pitcher) with simple syrup (sugar syrup) so you don't crunch on sugar crystals.

So as we got ready for typhoon Man-Yi, I was explaining the situation to Mia so she wouldn't be scared. We might lose power (it's a category 4 now, but it's supposed to weaken before it hits us - still, we're bracing ourselves!), we will be stuck inside for a while, etc. Yesterday morning she came up to me as I was tracking the storm on the web and said, "Mom, when's the futon coming?"

It took me a few minutes, but then I just started to giggle. We're all calling it a "futon" now just for fun. Ok, off to get ready to buy some candles and more water. We're charging all of our photo & filming gear to capture Mother Nature's wrath for you all!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

First Typhoon!

MAN-YI is headed our way. Guess I don't get hurricane-type names out here, it'll be different. Of course it's headed here for the weekend - Craig's birthday and days where he wouldn't miss work. Oh well. we'll be stuck in the house probably for at least a day, maybe 2 if it hits as hard as they say. If our gas & power remain intact we can make cookies. The hard rain & wind is supposed to start Thursday night/Friday morning.

Craig's headed to the store today to get supplies (water, non-perishables, etc.) and apparently these things (much like hurricanes in the US) often don't hit as hard as predicted, but better safe than sorry. I'm kind of excited. Heaven knows this concrete building and our typhoon doors over the sliding glass door are built to handle it. Pictures to come!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Food, etc.

I bought some sliced fish (sashimi) at the local market yesterday - about 15 pieces each of salmon & tuna. As sweet and delicious as any you've ever had. How much? $4.15. (498 yen) I'm going to be insanely happy here....

So where they get you, when you go out to eat, is on the sodas! About $4.50 to $5 for a soda, and they're not refillable, so enjoy that little cup! The heck with that, I'll get a $2.50 beer instead! Or water... done.

Here's a picture of some cute sweet buns at Jusco's bakery (some pretty good lookin' bread over there!)
And Craig, Mia & I were fascinated at these treats at one of the kiosks there. Aren't these just beautiful? Japanese are big on gift-giving - any kind of occasion, they love presents (who doesn't?) - we figure something like this would be nice to bring to someone's house if you've been invited for dinner or something.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Seen Around Town

Today I was driving toward base to get a couple of things, and saw a sign by orange cones & a closed lane: "MEN WROKING A HEAD"
I laugh at that sort of thing, but I shudder to think what Americans would do if we had Japanese people occupying Hawaii, for instance, and had to make Japanese signage for them. I would definitely make the wrong kind of character - for all I know there's only a one-line difference between the character for "good morning" and "f-you".

Anyway, more pictures. Below you see the view of the ocean as you look to the left outside of Transit Cafe, a fantastic little restaurant for lunch & dinner that's about 2 blocks from our place.

Here is the view if you look to the right - and past that table of 8 people, there's an outside bar, very sweet.
Here is a little drinkie I tried - Strawberry Dream or something like that. Red wine with strawberries and something else - kind of a frozen sangria with whipped cream on it. Excellent on a hot afternoon.

My food - some kind of beef (tender, like pot roast) with mushrooms and one of the best tasting sauces I've ever had. A scrambled egg rests on top of a ball of perfectly cooked & seasoned rice. I licked the plate. Definitely the best meal I've had so far here. (Not that we've eaten at a ton of places yet.)
Here's the inside bar, picture taken from where we were sitting. There are about 12 seats inside, 12 seats outside, so this place usually garners a wait. Worth it - I think. They were playing a Brazilian band CD of all Eagles covers when we were there. And there's some local jewelry for sale over where the person in this picture is standing. Yes - you DO see Maker's Mark on that shelf - this is a good place for Aviva. And we also had a dessert here; coconut milk & vanilla ice cream with rice balls and fresh mango, raspberries, strawberries and rum. We ate that before we got a chance to take a picture of it.

Saw this on the way out yesterday (Sunday) - Persian restaurant. Hm, could be interesting. Down the road from us there's a new Turkish place right next door to Coffee Casa, and 1/2 a block from that a new sushi joint is opening up!

The bar at Hokulea, the restaurant upstairs from our apartment. Apparently bands play there sometimes too.

Mia with Hachi - one of the waitresses upstairs, who speaks excellent English. She's great with all the kids here apparently, and teaches us mnemonic devices for Japanese expressions. Today we learned "Don't touch my moustache" for "you're welcome" - in reality it's like danitachamastashta or something.....classic.

So firearms are illegal here. Only the military has them, and they're issued. What they do sell (and you should never ever buy because as you can see it's impossible to discern them from the real thing) are air guns. Below is a picture I took at Jusco of the air gun counter.

I had thought they were REAL guns - and if you stand, as I did, feet planted looking at the guns on your right - this is what's on your left. THE TOY SECTION. Is anyone else thinking this is crazy??

Ok, gotta shower. We went swimming today at the Camp Foster pool. Has a cool water slide, but apparently Torii has the best one. More on that soon - we need goggles first for that chlorinated hell. Mia looks like she's wasted after an hour in the pool.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

A Couple Of Links...

Here's our hotel: - "Restaurant & Bar Hokulea" is the restaurant on our roof. And on the right, if you click on "Access Map" there's a bunch of other restaurants & shopping places noted in there with links when they're available. It's great that we're in a hotel so they have the info about our apartment online!

Here's the cool restaurant/bar 2 blocks over from us on the sea wall: (Click on the top picture for cafe menu & pictures of the food - hungry yet?)

And, last but certainly not least - 2 blocks away is this coffee place! AMAZING little place, definitely going to get to know those folks.

There are 2 floors with 4 apartments each in our building, the rest are hotel rooms. (3rd & 4th floor); 2 apartments on each side of the elevator. 5th floor houses the roof & the restaurant. All the apartments are homes to Americans - and across the alley (those townhouses you can see in the pictures of our view) are all Americans too. We met a bunch of people on July 4th when we went to the rooftop to watch the fireworks being shot off from Kadena Air Base. The whole neighborhood was up there! All the kids knew each other, and all the parents knew the kids; we met one boy, Logan, who will definitely be in Mia's kindergarten class. (he's one of 3 soon to be 4 kids in a very nice family) They were nice enough to tell us about the school & the bus stop - so we know that'll be easy enough. (Yes, I will cry like a baby when my little girl gets on a school bus!!) It truly is like a small town 50's scene here the way everyone is - it's so nice. And with the cool bars & restaurants here, it's nice to know people trade off babysitting so that you can get out with your spouse now & again.

So much more going on - our neighbors in the building are great. We met Leighanne in our parking garage- she lives 1 floor below us and across the building. She has a 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Aubrey, who's a cutie and Mia's already acting like a "big sis". Her husband is a Navy pilot and is stuck in the Philippines at the moment because his plane was struck by lightning and he's waiting for his new engine to come through customs. Get this - that's the SECOND time it happened too! They're here for one more year, I see a definite friendship there - super sweet family. And apparently we have another great neighbor who's visiting family in Hawaii right now (Maggie) and due in October with a baby I think - I know her hubby is in Iraq until October. She lives on our floor across the way from the elevator, and everyone in the neighborhood seems to know her - very friendly and outgoing. I'm excited to meet her! Leighanne was telling me that they knew our apartment was vacant and they were hoping a cool family would move in. I guess she's satisfied....

Ok, off to pour some cereal for the kid & me - it's 9:30am Sunday morning. Not sure what we're doing today, but finally our living/dining room A/C should be fixed tomorrow morning at 9am! Now we just need television and faster Internet, and our household goods shipment with the rest of our stuff - and this just MIGHT be home!