Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tacoma - Day 1

Feeling much better after a good night's rest (well, a little interruption from Obi, but I'm used to that).  Kelly drove me down to Everett today to pick up my rental car.  Kelly lives very close to fields and fields of flower bulb farms -mainly tulips (which will soon be blooming) and daffodils (which are now blooming).  Daffodils are one of my favorite flowers and I haven't seen one in three years so it was so exciting to see a whole field full!  Kelly also stopped by a roadside stand so I could buy a bunch for my hotel room.  (I know, call me crazy!)

We also saw this bald eagle perched in a tree - apparently they're all around here.

I took care of some business today, meeting with the mortgage broker and the Realtor to game plan before treating myself to an unsupervised, kidless trip to TARGET!  I know, most of you think, so what, I do that all the time.  But this has been one of the places I've missed the most.

I paced myself and only stayed an hour (lots more time here, and little suitcase space) before checking into my hotel - a beautiful little place right over the water in Tacoma.

Going across the Narrows bridge - you can see Mt. Rainier in the distance if you look closely.

View from my hotel window.
I found an awesome grocery store (another thing I've dearly missed) to buy some dinner and now I'm off to bed.  Tomorrow we start the big search for a home! And Liz flies in and Kelly comes down for a reunion, uh, I mean so that they can help me.  Can't wait!

She's Coming to America!

Yes, after almost a 3 year hiatus, I'm back on terra americana - but only for a week!  And I have my mission carved out for me...find the Coats Clan a home.

But first I had to get the kitties settled in at their temporary home.  After all my worrying and fretting, the kitties made the journey to the States pretty well.  Obi was doing alligator death rolls in his cage on the way down to the airport trying to get out, but soon realized that it was futile so surrendered to being stuck in the cage for a day.

I checked them in at the Naha airport and then had to pick them up in Tokyo and re-check them in at the United counter.  Although I had an hour and forty-five minutes between flights, I was left with only 45 minutes after the cats were checked leaving me staring at a mile long line to get through security and a sick feeling in my belly that Obi and Kimono would be on a plane without me.  But, alas it was Tokyo where customer service is stellar, and the United agent took me through the employee screening area and then held a spot in line at Immigration for me until I could catch up.  I ended up not being the last one on the flight, but close to it!

Finally saw Mt. Fuji!

The Canadian Rockies flying into Seattle

After eight hours of getting to watch my own movies, read uninterrupted, and not having to tend to little ones (bliss!), we landed in Seattle and into the welcoming arms of Kelly and Mike Payne, our former neighbors in Okinawa.  They will be fostering our kitties until we get settled.

On the ride to Anacortes-we put them in an extra large kennel to spread out and they both ended up sleeping in the litter box!  (It was clean.)
Stopped off at Cosco - look Oki friends, nectarines!!!
Mike and Kelly live in a beautiful area about 2 hours north of Seattle with an absolutely amazing view of the water and islands.  After a sweet reunion between the cats and Ty, their adorable black lab, I took a little nap.  When I woke up, Kelly took me on an awesome hike through one of the many state forests near their house.  I forgot how big the trees can be!!!

Now that's a big tree!

View from Kelly's deck
Beautiful (un-retouched) sunset from Kelly's deck.
To bed early to look forward to full day on Monday.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Herding Cats

I'm leaving on Sunday for the States for our big "house hunting trip"; however, because of a decision I'm now regretting I made, it has turned into the "getting the cats to America" trip.

I must admit that despite all our moving, and all my air travel, I've never flown with animals before and it's making me a nervous wreck.  Maybe it's that my mom has impressed upon me how cruel she thinks it is, maybe I really don't like tormenting my animals, maybe it's just a cover for the nervousness about finding a house.  Whatever it is, I've been pre-occupied with this for the last few weeks.

But in all honesty, it's a PROCESS to get these tiny 8 and 12 pound creatures off this island.  It started a few weeks ago when I started looking into putting the cats on the flight with me.  Coincidentally, United decided to change its pet policy - a LONG, LONG story - but suffice it to say, that after MANY, MANY phone calls to All Nippon, Continental, and United, I think I have them reserved on the flight, and I think it's not going to cost me $2,000.  I think.

Then I had to find carriers that fit the "new" specifications - a problem when you don't have Petsmart near by.  And the Exchange stocks mainly non-airline approved containers (of course).  But after many trips to Japanese pet stores, the Exchange, and then Okinawa Yardsales, I now have two carriers. Check!

Then I had to call the vet to check on their vaccinations (expired - bad pet owners we are).  Kadena vet has no appointments so off-base I go.  Rabies and some others to boot - Check!

Then, within 10 days of travel they have to go back to the vet for a "health certificate".  Kadena vet has no appointments so off-base I go.  Health certificates - Check!

Then, within 3 days of travel I have to take the cats down to Naha Airport to get their quarantine approval.  Hour trip down, 1/2 getting the certificate, hour trip back.  Check!

I think, at this point, we're set to fly!

Here are some funny asides to this story...

1.  Noah's Animal Hospital - This is the off-base vet we've been going to ever since Obi got into a fight with a habu snake.  They are great and so different from American vets.  I love their waiting room: the free gourmet coffee, the free people snacks, the free dog snacks, the clean up center for pet accidents, the messages about Jesus, the office hours on a Sunday!  Great place.

The gourmet coffee machine - help yourself!

Pet clean up area

Free snacks for dogs

Free snacks for people

2.  Obi looking like he's in jail on the way down to the airport.

Help, get me out of here!

3.  My post on Facebook to our neighbors, and their kinds responses.

Dear Neighbors,
I have some very bad news. All my "secret" midnight killings have caught up with me and I've received a very bad sentence. This Sunday morning, I will be shoved in a box, put on a plane and shipped to a foreign land to live out my days. I hear that this new land, Washington, doesn't have shrews or mongoose or habu so I will no longer be tempted by my desire. If you see me wandering the parking lot, sitting on your car or visiting your pent up animals during my few remaining days on Okinawa, please be sure to say goodbye - I will miss you all dearly!

  • Jessica Bailey We will definitely miss your cat antics, Obi! Safe travels!!!
  • Kelly Payne Don't fret Obi! There are deer to stare down, banana slugs to be slimed by, lawn moles, and lots of feathered friends....including seagulls galore (but keep an eye peeled for those Eagles...they may take you for a ride in the sky)! It's not all bad...you will have old friends (and a new one too!) to love you lots until you are reunited with your family in this strange new land called Washington...
    Wednesday at 2:06pm ·  ·  2
  • Ashley Terpstra Don't go Obi! We will miss you and Wendell won't know what to do without his favorite kitty friend.
  • Jessica Barber Hameed Obi, Your hunting skills won't be put to waste in Washington. Our cats used to get the moles in the yard and the mice in the garage and barn, which was very helpful. The plane ride probably won't be any fun though. Take Care!
  • Joe B. McDaniel 
    Dear Obi, I'm glad you came over a couple of times to play chase in my house, and I'll miss talking to you through the prison glass. I wish I could have come outside in the "yard" to play with you but I"m afraid I have a life sentence and escape is futile I've tried a couple of times and I just keep getting caught..I have seen the warden petting you from time to time and I keep thinking your about to be captured as well, but some how you manage to escape..man I wish I had your luck and freedom, although it's not bad in here they do take care of me, sorry I digress. Have a great time in this place call Washington,,keep up the good hunt. Oh one more thing, I hope you don't get stuck on a roof while your in Washington. If you can come by and say good bye before you leave. I'll miss you and I know my guards will also..Your friend, Jack-Jack...
    13 hours ago ·  ·  2
  • Krimp Knight hahahahaha i laughed out loud at the roof comment.
    11 hours ago · 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Let The Games Begin - 2012

Yes, folks, it's that time of year again...soccer season!  And this weekend was the kickoff to the season.  With all three kids now playing, Saturday's are going to be a little hectic, but fun, and this weekend proved that.  With London's game at 11:30 am, Emmy's game at 12:00 on a base a 1/2 hour away, Cannon's game at 1:30, me with a baby shower from 10-1 and Stevie on call it was, shall we say, interesting.

Stevie managed to get someone to cover him for call (which NEVER happens) so he could take Emmy to her first game - which meant I missed her very first soccer game :(  But as he is now helping to coach, it worked out well.  Emmy's team, the White Tigers, tried hard, but are still very new to the game and ended up losing.  Emmy (#8) looks like she's trying hard! (Photos courtesy of Stevie).

London's team, the Lions, took the field and played really well, but they ended up losing too.  London (#41)nlooked good out there, although he only got to play for half the game.  He made a great defensive move which is great for him as he usually plays offense.

Cannon's team, the Flames, has been practicing hard, but were up against a really good team.  Yes, they too ended up losing.  I think by this age, there are some really good players and just a few on a team can really make a difference.  Cannon (#21) looked great and tried his best.

Overall, it was a beautiful warm, windy day and lots of fun to see the kids get out there and play their best.

The Coats Soccer All-Stars
Next time, I'll have to remember the sunblock!  (See their red "v's" from their uniforms?)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

White Day

Contrary to what you might think, White Day is not a big sale on linens.  It's actually a uniquely Japanese holiday with conspicuously capitalistic undertones.

You see, in Japan it is tradition for only women to give presents on Valentine's Day (February 14) and not the men (wouldn't all you men love this?)  Yes, just like in the US, the women usually give chocolate or flowers but unlike the US, here the men just sit back and receive all the love...

But some innovative marshmallow manufacturing company (I'm guessing with a female CEO) figured out back in the 1960's that they could make some more money if they introduced a second holiday which requires men to return the favor.  Introducing March 14th...White Day!  Not a very inventive name, but they say it comes from the white color of the marshmallows.  Today it's way more than marshmallows with special sections of stores being set up with all the specialty candies and gifts.

Looks more like it should be called "pink day" judging by the packaging.

Lilo and Stitch, Mickey and Minny and others seem to get in on the act too.

I never saw any men buying these items, but maybe they're just stealthy.  And for all you US men, head's up: It's White Day!

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Bunny Store

We've lived here for two and three quarter years now and today I finally went to a store that I've heard about many times, but never been to.  It's affectionately known as the "bunny store".  Why?  Because the sign looks like this:

The bunny store is the Old Navy of kids clothes and accessories - with a Japanese twist, of course. What's the twist?  Well, mainly the expressions on the shirts.  We've known for a while now that Japanese clothes love to include English words, but usually they make no sense and are just funny.  The bunny store was just full of these kinds of clothes.  Here are some examples I found:

They make no sense, do they?  Did I buy some?  Of course!  Stevie thinks we should all buy t-shirts like this and wear them when we fly out of Okinawa!

The other thing I found in the bunny store was Japanese baby food.  I've often wondered what other cultures fed their babies (besides milk, of course).  Like do Indian babies eat curry baby food?  Or do Chinese babies eat Kung Pao chicken?  I mean we have baby food flavors like beef stew and chicken and noodles but why would a Thai baby eat these?  Well, I might have found my answer today.  It seems, from the packaging pictures at least, that Japanese babies do eat Japanese food.  Like fish and sea weed and shrimp and rice and ginger and kabocha squash!

But the best were the drinks, I don't know if they drink milk as well, but these packages on the left were for green tea and barley tea powders to go in a baby's bottle!  The package on the right, those pictures are of kelp and dried bonito (tuna).

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bright Sunday

What says beautiful Sunday afternoon better than two happy ice-cream/slushy eating kids? (The largest kid was at a birthday party.)

The girls knows how to wear her ice cream! 

You should have seen the size of London's crushed ice slushy!  This is about half way through...

That bright yellow, glow in the dark mound on the next table was a hole one!