Monday, March 1, 2010

There's a whole lotta shakin' goin' on...

I know I haven't written in a long time, but's time-consuming. I put a lot of myself into everything I write, not the least of which is the following blog...

Luke 21: 11 - And great earthquakes shall be in diverse places, and famines and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.

On Saturday morning, February 27, 2010 around 0530 I awoke to violent shaking. At first I thought Lonnie was shaking the bed trying to wake me up. I was about to get mad and start yelling at him to stop when I realized that it wasn't just the bed was EVERYTHING in the room and the entire room itself. In mere seconds I realized we were in the middle of an earthquake. I had never experienced any other types of tremors before so I didn't have anything to compare it to. All I knew is that I was scared to death.

So, there we sat in bed holding on to each other until the shaking and noise stopped. And, oh, the noise! It was the most horrible, loud roaring sound. The closet doors were banging on the tracks. My jade grapevine was teetering back and forth on the bookshelf. It was like being on a bad carnival ride. I had never been physically shaken like I had been that morning. Immediately afterward I came close to throwing up and then started crying uncontrollably. It was an incredibly traumatic experience.

After we sat and collected ourselves for a few minutes I said I needed to call my parents. It wasn't long after that our Vonage phone rang. I looked at Lonnie and said, "oh my gosh. It was a bad one. It made the news." I knew no one would be calling at that time of the morning 15 minutes after an earthquake like that and it be a coincidence...or wrong number. Sure enough, it was Mom. It had made FOX News. And, that's about the only time you would've seen it. No one was killed that we know of, so that doesn't make for a good package on the news. Also, as an earthquake expert on FOX reported... He said, "What about Okinawa? They had a 7.0 earthquake and no one is saying anything about it?" He said that's because there's no media coverage. It didn't really click with me what he was saying, but now it all makes sense. There aren't any reporters here like there are in other countries. Everything here is Japanese. They don't have a station that reports anything in English. The only newscasts we get are what you are seeing there.

Since Saturday morning we have had 10 aftershocks according to the U.S. Geological Survey. If you click on the link you can view the list. I've felt a few of them. What I've been feeling is in my head and stomach. My body doesn't feel anything and my eyes don't see anything. When I check the USGS website I've seen that an aftershock has happened right about the time I start feeling that way. I get terribly dizzy and nauseated.

This is the East China Sea on 28 FEB 10.
We were waiting for the tsunami after being evacuated
from Camp Lester housing an hour before.

Here's a video that is eerily accurate as to what our house looked like on the inside and what it sounded like outside. There was a strange, intense roaring sound and it's something I will never forget. The Japanese Meteorological Agency reported the length to be 50 seconds. We woke up about 1/3 of the way in. It went on for at least 30 seconds after we woke up. It was reported that in Chatan, where we live, people felt it as a 5.0.

The infamous concrete double-wide.

It's times like these that you become appreciative of the concrete reinforced double-wides that you live in. It's also times like these that you become remarkably impressed at what they can withstand. I had a painting on the wall that was crooked. Picture frames on bookshelves were moved around. Cans fell off of my pantry shelves and something fell over in the china cabinet.

If you look closely at the top of the picture you can see
some of the ships that were going to "ride out the wave".

Yesterday we went to church and then brunch at the Butler O Club. While we were there they made two emergency announcements about a tsunami warning. We went home and passed through the guard shack. I saw a Marine in addition to the Japanese guards. I thought that was a little strange. Then we pulled into the neighborhood and noticed an awful lot of people getting into their AWFUL lot. I told Lonnie I thought something was up. Then we saw Marines going door to door and I knew something was wrong. We stopped two Marines to ask what was going on and they said the commanding general was ordering everyone to evacuate Camp Lester by 1400. We had 30 minutes to get what we needed, grab the pets and get off of the base. The only thing sentimental I could think of to grab was a binder of recipes that my grandmother had written in. Nothing else seemed to matter. We really didn't think anything would come of the tsunami anyway and that they were just being cautious. We ended up staying with Lonnie's boss at her house for a little over two hours until we got the all clear around 1720. We do know that they moved the emergency room from the ground floor to the 4th floor.

Hopefully this is the most excitement I'll have to endure for the rest of our stay here. After the whale watching excursion with Dad and our brush with death on that little trip and then the earthquake less than two weeks later I don't think the 'ol ticker can take much more. The whale watching trip? That's another story for another day...

"Attention! Tsunami All Clear! You may now return home."
01 MAR 10

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

There's a gecko in the galley!

This morning I padded into the kitchen barefooted and sleep-eyed but that didn't last long. It only took a second to find a little something I didn't leave on the counter last night. That woke me up pretty quick.

Hangin' with the hashi (chopsticks)

He's kinda cute!

He didn't move for the longest time!

With his tail he was about 4 inches...just a baby!

Honestly, I think if he's going to hang out in the galley he could help out and start swabbin' the deck!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pizza in the Sky

There's a really neat pizza joint (if you could call it that) about and hour and a half from the house (uchi). It's an hour from my friend's (tomodachi no) house but it took us two hours (ni ji) to get there. Hahaha! I took a little detour. Okay, I took a wrong turn but the pictures (shashin) prove that we made it there. I'm a Pizza Hut kinda girl but this little pie is worth the drive. If you ever come visit and we go there you make think I'm going to kill you and dump your body. They have restaurants and shops here in crevices and on precipices where you almost can't find them.

It was INSANELY hot (atsui) in that little place. Naturally, there are no air conditioners. There were a couple of fans but they seemed more like a consolation prize. They didn't really make us feel any better. They make one kind of pizza in two different sizes. This is not an order-your-choice-of-toppings kind of restaurant (restoran). You get the medium or large. The only other food item on the menu is a salad and it's big enough to feed everyone at the table. It's quite satisfying to tell your waitress..."tsumetai mizu kudasai"...and have her come back with cold water for everyone. Ahh! Those Japanese classes are paying off!

This is what "Pizza in the Sky" looks like in Kanji,
I guess...
It's called "Pizza in the Sky" for a reason.
It's on top of a small mountain (yama)...maybe just
a really high (takai) hill. The view is AMAZING!

I'd bet you never had iced tea served this way before.

This is the pizza. This is the ONLY kind you get.
Yes, that is corn. What you don't see is the garlic!

Note the two bottles of Tabasco in the foreground. Hahaha!
This little bee fascinated me. There was a little garden
outside that had bees and butterflies flying all around.

I put the zoom lens on but it was still cold from
being in the car and it fogged up on me.

Look at the colors on his abdomen. They're gorgeous!

This is the restaurant. Yes, everyone sits on the floor.
There is one table inside and a bistro-type one on the
porch. And, staying true to Japanese (nihongo) custom
everyone takes their shoes (nugatsu) off at the door.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Okinawans Drive NAKED

I couldn't resist... You know you couldn't have either!

Here it is...the blog with the funny car names. Drum roll, please!






Bongo Friendee

Pajero Jr.
Town Box

There are more than just the ones that I've listed. You won't see any common models here like the ones we consider common in the US. The Honda Odyssey is the one that we see the most. I had to hang a stuffed animal by the rearview mirror to ID which Odyssey was mine. I have to admit there was a time or two I couldn't figure out why my key wouldn't open the car.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Okinawan Fun Facts

Here's just a couple of little things I've wanted to mention along the way...

Okinawa is 67 miles long. It is 17 miles wide at the widest point and 2 miles wide at the narrowest.

Naha (the capital) is the largest city. Urasoe is second. Ginowan City is third. Then, I believe it's Okinawa City and then Nago.

There are 1.3 million people living on Okinawa. There are 100,000 people that live on the other inhabited islands of the Ryukyu Island chain.

1% of the population of Japan lives on Okinawa.

There is one vending machine for EVERY SEVEN PEOPLE. Do you hear me?!?!?!

Speaking of vending's something you don't see in the States every day...or ever!

Orion...the beer of Okinawa
Pronounced [OAR ee on] not [or EYE on]

Monday, July 27, 2009

Farm & Fish Market Tour

Jenna & I went on this tour July 25th. It was our 11th wedding anniversary. We went to two farmer's markets and a little place called "mini mini dobutsuen" mini zoo. It was a little, little zoo! They care for the animals from the money they raise selling their fresh eggs. The tour guide said that the eggs are so fresh sometimes they're still warm. LOL She was stretching it a little.

The last place we went was a fish market. They had all kinds of neat little fish there...and squid. Mmm, mmm, mmm!
Cleanin' the crabs

Pretty fish...not sure I want to eat it.

I couldn't get Jenna to stop poking their cold, dead eyes.
Rogue water drop on the lens. Oops.

A big, scary monster and a turtle.
No, sorry. That's Jenna and a big, scary turtle monster.

Ladies & gentlemen...a mongoose!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Napoleon - small in stature, made up for in attitude...

A lot of you may not have known that there was a new addition to the family. Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me... I got an ankle-biter! I swore I would never do it and I did. We got a chihuahua. His name is Napoleon. Why did we name him that? Because this dog has the biggest Napoleon complex of any living creature I've ever seen.

Napoleon - "little man"

Something's not quite right about this...

Boy's got a tongue like a bullfrog!

Napoleon has been a lot of company. Fortunately, he's a lot more my speed. Yoshi has found a new home. Whew! A person with fibromyalgia doesn't need to have a high energy dog like that one!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sweet & Salty Tour

Today Jenna and I went on the Sweet & Salty tour. Our first stop was at a sugarcane factory where they showed us how they process the cane into sugar. I've noticed from the tours I've taken how antiquated the machinery is here. I suppose because as long as it works they don't need to upgrade! No part of the sugarcane is wasted, much like it is with no part of the pig around here but...that's another subject for another time.

Aforementioned antiquated machinery

As you can imagine, it takes a whole lotta cane to get just a little sugar. You can look at that in another way too. It took a whole lotta cane (& a little stuffed piggy) to get a picture with my little sugar. Somebody did NOT want to cooperate in the photography department today.

Mommy & Jenna in front of a BUNCH 'o sugarcane

At the salt factory I got to make my own sea salt. That was pretty cool. Actually, it was so hot I thought I was going to pass out at one point. The salt factory has a building with a pipe that runs out to the sea. The pipe pulls in the water and it runs over nets that filter out the impurities. It takes 3 weeks for the first part of the process. When the water is pumped in from the sea the salt content is 3.5%. When the water is ready to go to the next step the salt content is about 21%. I tasted it. It wasn't good. Yuck!

In the middle of the process

Boiling the water down for the salt it reminded me a lot of chemistry labs in years gone by. It also reminded me of how it is to watch the grass grow. :) From beginning to end it was about san juppun or (in English) 30 minutes.

The finished product

We were told that the Okinawans believe that the salt "takes on" the spirit and personality of the person that makes it. They let us taste the salt the factory makes and then what we made. Mine was a lot saltier. I'm not surprised. After all, I am a crusty 'ol sailor's wife. Hahahaha!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ryukyuan Glass Production

Going to the glass factory was the main reason I wanted to go on this tour. I had seen the Ryukyuan glass before in gift shops and had never seen anything quite like it.

Ryukuan Glass production is thought to have started around the Meiji Era making it about 100 years old. Until the early Showa Era necessities of life were made such as lamps, medicine bottle and drinking glasses but World War II destroyed all of Okinawa's glass factories. After the war glass production was revived through the use of empty Coke bottles discarded by the US military bases. With its unique shapes, Ryukyu glass is now widely accepted as art that has become an integral part of Okinawa's greatest crafts.

The glass is melted in a melting jar from 1,300 deg Celsius and above. It is then shaped, starts to harden and is taken to another oven that is 500 deg Celsius. Putting the glass in this oven helps to cool it down gradually. If it cools too quickly it can weaken and crack. It takes 40 hours for the glass to properly cool down.

It was fun to watch what this guy (above) was doing. He was making a goldfish!

It was after World War II that Ryukyuan glass came to be considered as a craft. During the time of material shortage immediately after the war, people cut Coca-Cola bottles in half and used them as glasses.

This entire wall was covered with things made from glass. It was absolutely beautiful! I've never seen anything like it. I've never been in a gift shop this large either. They had just about anything you could think of.

This was the biggest piece I saw. I don't know why in the world I didn't check out the price tag on this one since I was debating asking Santa for it this year.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cultural Crafts Tour - Mommy Time! Ahhh...

Today I went on the MCCS Tours Plus Cultural Crafts Tour. Since Lonnie is deployed I have a card from the MCCS (Marine Corps Community Services) that gives me discounts on a lot of things. One discount is 20% off of tours. I sign up at the office and the day of the tour meet the bus and go from there. Today is going to turn into several posts. The first place we went was to a bingata factory. Honestly, it's way too much to go into so I highly recommend the link I've highlighted. I made my own bingata today. It takes several days to process so I won't be able to post pictures of that until later next week. It was soooo much fun!

After that, we had time to squeeze in the awamori factory. It wasn't on the scheduled tour but, it was right next door. It had been a part of the tour and they took it out. While we were there they let us put on kimono and wear the light fixture I've been wanting for the dining room on my head. Hahaha!

It was free! After we got back on the bus I found out there are places that charge up to Y3,000 or $30.00 to do the same picture.

Next on the itinerary was a stop at the mall.! A MALL! I haven't been in a mall in almost a YEAR! And there were stores I recognized! There was Croc, Coach, Salvatore Ferragamo, Swatch, Armani and a bunch of other ones. That was the lunch stop. Then we hit the Ryukyu Glass Factory. I LOVE that place and let me tell you why. They Y300 or $3.00 for 5 ping pong balls. I figured I would go for broke and get 10. The object is to toss the ball into the area where the glasses are and IF your ball lands in a glass then you get to keep it. Well...not only did I have 2 balls land in glasses I had a ball land in the MAC DADDY GRAND SLAM NUMERO UNO PRIZE!! This is what I won...

It's 20 inches tall. So, I came home with a haul of glass worth more than $52.00 and I got it for $6.00. Every time I won a glass they rang a bell. I almost passed out when I won the big one. That's not an easy thing to do! I wish it would've been a blue one. I REALLY hate orange! Sorry Christina. :)

You're right. It's really not my thing. Just a few minutes ago I was looking to see if Larry Hagman was sitting on my couch waiting for Barbara Eden to pop out. Hahahaha!!

Now, we're on our way to the lacquerware factory. This stuff is made out of WOOD! It's from a LACQUER TREE! Who knew?! I'll have to break that down in a later blog too.

The best part about this tour? It was my alone time. Today was about the most fun I've had on Okinawa since we've been here. It was GREAT! I almost felt like I spent a day at the spa, speaking of which...later on in August there is a tour to an Asian spa. Hmm...