Friday, December 17, 2010

First (real) snow of 2010!

It got down right snowy today! Take a gander, friend, and enjoy the season!

The scene outside my apartment door as I headed off to work this morn...
...the trees all shown in a diff'rent light with leaves all trimmed in a crown of white...
...treach'rous black ice on the road did ride, safety in my driver I confide. 

And here's a little video taken of the front lot outside Kinoshita Elementary School where all the parents' cars were parked during the day's classroom visitations. (My first YouTube video, ever!)

And here's one more (not mine), to commemorate the snow.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A stroll through a whole lot o' busy

I've been as busy this month as I have since coming to Japan! To go along with that, I've also discovered a great new weight loss program: it's called AnXiEtY! (Lost 2 pounds this month.) Sheesh! Hopefully the holidays will help me to put that back on, but for now I'm just beginning to be glad the month is finally over. Still, there are some great memories here that I'd like to share, and perhaps even build on in the future. So, here goes!

"I'm gonna mess you up...rice!" It's November 7th, and here I am at the Rokunohe Festival taking my turn as a living milling machine; pounding glutinous rice into large doughy mounds that will later be processed into mochi. Mochi-it-to-me, baby! I can say this: making it is a lot more fun than eating it!
"Go, go Power Rangers!" (Friggin' Saban.) The Rokunohe Festival attracted a lot of attention when this color-coordinated bunch showed up. I even got to shake their hands along with all the little kiddies. (I still have a crush on the Pink Ranger, I think ;) 
Then they all decided to kill the Blue Ranger. Not Billy! NOOOO!
Thankfully, we also got to meet the "star" attraction at the Rokunohe Festival! Helping to make this picture look more attractive are fellow ALTs Vanessa and Jocelyn (respectively, on the left).
November 13/14 was the weekend for the Oirase Salmon Festival, my second year in attendance, but first attempt at warming up the crowd as one of the MCs. I also made announcements, and acted as the English spokesman for the festival's main event: the salmon catch!
The Oirase River where salmon come to spawn. The fishery and pens that supply the events are partially in view.
A glorious day presents itself as we look down an avenue of flags from the rear location of the festival grounds.
"Salmon Island." The stone bridge that spans the two wading ponds where the fish are kept for the salmon catch is in the shape of a giant sake (salmon).
A truck dumps a load of salmon into the wading pool to replenish the stock between events.
Salmon Festival mascots. They wouldn't let me take one of them home... :(
Me is for victory!
Get ready for the ROCK SHOW, motherscratcher! Each year the Salmon Festival puts on a bangin' fireworks display.
"Weeping Willow In The Sky With Diamonds"
And how could I take pictures of the fireworks without shooting a little video, too! (It was all during the two weeks between and after these festivals that I had a spat of very busy classes where I was expected to provide a lot of material. And then there was the yearly JET Mid-year Conference that fell right at the tail end of this period. All very procedural and droll—so no pictures—but it bears repeating that this month was equal parts work and play, leaving me almost no time to breathe! If that sounds like a complaint, it's not! I wear any scars with pride.)

On the 20th, I gathered with a gaggle of Towada and Shichinohe ALTs for a farewell party thrown in Viresh's honor (he's the dude standing in the middle). From left to right, starting in the back: Aaron, Valerie, Courtney, Melissa, Crystal, Sanae, Viresh, Mary, Yours Truly, and Anthony. Safe journeys, Viresh!
It's November 30th. Judo time! If I didn't have to blur the students' faces, you would be able to see that the student I'm squaring-off against is wearing an even bigger grin than mine. "You're telling me I get to kick the Eigo-sensei's ass!? Yokatta!"
After receiving instruction from the Judo teacher, we take hold of each other's gi and proceed to slowly work through the steps of the three throws we learned. You're going down, kid!
What'd I tell ya?! Saito-sensei gives me a few pointers while the 2nd-year junior high student patiently waits to be let up. I chuckle inside. (Hehe.)
We take to it again, trying to get the footwork down.
This time I "receive," (or as I like to call it, "take a bone-jarring nap"). I was given high marks for my positioning on the floor, with left hand spread out wide and my head held aloft—just like you're supposed to. Not bad for my first time!
Good times!