Saturday, June 17, 2006

Killing bugs Eating Food

Wake up. Greasy, messy, still wearing t-shirt I slept in. Throw dog in the car and drive to school. Today is Saturday. All sorts of sports type people there, basketball type people, baseball type people, mom type people. Meet lady. I cannot remember her name. "Are they here?" I ask.

"Yes, over there. They say it will take two hours. They say there are only two of them. They say this year there are only lots of little bugs. The bigs ones haven't come out yet."

"Sounds cool," I say. "Okay, I'll go buy the stuff, come back in an hour, you can go home."

I go to the conbini store, buy two bottles of green tea and two soft cakes with red bean paste smeared inside. I waste time until nine thirty when I drive back to school. The men are in a little truck, large tank on back. They are very very old. Very very cute. The truck is heading my way. I worry they may run me down, rogue foreigner and all.

They stop.

I bow. "You guys are doing a wonderful job. Here." I thrust the bag full of tea and cakes in their direction. They smile and talk about bugs for awhile. I smile and leave.

My PTA duties are done for the day. The school grounds are a little more absent of bugs.

These are World Cup snacks I've bought the last few days. Bread, cookie, chocolate cream inside...

An odd little gelatin pudding combination. Coffee, chocolate, orange and passion fruit. It was not bad.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

My Newest Obsession: Kazuo Umezu 楳図かずお

I wish I had more time.

Last week I saw this commercial for Oronamin C (great link) and was struck by this seriously disturbing guy. I found out his name is Kazuo Umezu and he writes manga. When I checked out his homepage I discovered how he started the genre Romance Comedy but then made the leap to horror, whacko surrealism and how he also has a band.

I start thinking, I might really like this guy. So I went to the used bookstore and picked up a couple of his comics. The one I started to read was Hebi Shojo. Snake Girl.

I didn't get very far. This is how far I got. Here is the front cover...Hebi Shojo.

This handsome lad goes pheasant hunting with his dog.

His dog freaks. Hey, what is that in the water?!

Oh MY GOD!! GUWA!! (dog gets eaten)

hebi 4

Basically, our handsome fellow returns home thoroughly messed up. He spend three days in his futon just deteriorating. guessed it...he dies (below), a horrible, painful, gruesome death.

hebi dead

The next two frames are as follows, a lovely little grandmother talking to her grandchildren. She's telling them the story, saying it's true and all.

And then their faces. That is when I knew I loved the guy. At least so far.

Here is his postcard for the Year of the Chicken

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

On the corkboard

I thought Chi Chi looked familiar. My son found her little brother hanging on my corkboard. Meet Wang Wang.

Jirou-cho 次郎長

Very near us is the city of Shizuoka. Part of Shizuoka is a ward (used to be its own little city before it got eaten up in a merger) called Shimizu. And there, last weekend, was so sort of festival. We didn't go. Wanted to. Couldn't. So I have no idea what happened there. I hear it was fun.

But J's friend's mother was in the parade evidentally. They gave us some cookies from the event. Here is one.

Looks like a pirate. Actually, Jirou-cho is a big hero for Shimizu. He's had over a hundred movies made about him! What did this man do?

Born in 1820, at the age of eighteen some wandering monk predicated he would die very soon. Old Jirou began to wine, gamble, and womanize. At twenty two (yep, still alive) Jirou was attacked while coming home from a play. He then vowed never to drink again. He got in a fight with a gambler once and killed him. He divorced and became a drifter. He studied fencing and business. Basically, he was a yakuza. But a good one.

He actually became a policeman and watched over Shimizu harbor. He became active in many charity and community projects and had enough muscle behind him to settle disputes peacefully. He even opened an English school in Shimizu.

My husband told me that he was a very good gambler (meaning he won a lot). After he died other gamblers from all over Japan came to pay respects to his grave...and while they were at it, shave a little off the tombstone for luck. Eventually they had to rebuild the tombstone as it was widdled down so much.

Anyway, I just wanted to show you the cookie. There was another. It was very good. Lots of butter.

※My son just looked at one of my purchases and exclaimed, "What on earth did you buy woman!?" I must go explain.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Rice Planting 田植え

J came home the other day and asked if we lived in the city or the country. His dad's answer was, "Well, it's kind of a city." And he may be right. When he was a kid they didn't have paved roads. Now we can (for a hefty price) enjoy McDonalds, Kentucy FC, and Baskin Robbins.

My answer leaned towards, country. There might not be a lot of farm animals around here, but we do have a good deal of vegetable gardens and many more rice fields. And I don't know about you but I never got to plant, grow, harvest and eat my own rice, all as a school project.

The picture up there on the left is all three fifth grade classes listening to the rules ("Be sure to level out the mud before you plant the seedlings, walk backwards so that your finished work is in front of you, watch out for snakes, leeches, and giant snails...see the man with the net, if you find one of the above yell for him, he'll save you.")

Here are some clumps of rice seedlings. They come in a long flat tray and you just rip off a big chunk. You plant three, four of five at a time.

J with a beard.

J with an antennae.

The kids just starting. J is there looking towards the camera. The land right in front of them is where they'll plant sweet potatoes. Come fall they'll harvest the rice and sweet potatoes at the same time; make sweet potato rice and have a little party. You can see the dude with the net in the far right behind the kids.

J pulling apart some seedlings.

And the piece de resistance! There was a group of old men and women who volunteered to help out. They were easily in their eighties and nineties. They are all rice farmers by trade and the sweetest thing was that when I spoke to a lady who also farms with them she kept shaking her head and said none of them are supposed to be in the fields, they all have back and knee problems, but they wanted to help the kids so they donned their rice planting gear and jumped in. I mean that quite literally, they are all more spry than me!

But check out the little lady in the blue bonnet on her cell phone! I bet she has a homepage too.