Friday, May 14, 2010

Spring comes!

and goes...and comes...and goes...

Today, it came!

I wound up having to wait at the ferry terminal for about 3 hours due to an odd bus schedule. Since it was a beautiful day, I decided to walk around for a little bit. Here are some lovely spring sights I saw!

Flowers! There was a great patch of daffodils!
Rocks! And water, too.
I loved the way the blue of the sky slowly faded and then was replaced by the blue of the water.
My hiking shoes! Oh, well.
More rocks!
I actually was right at the water's edge here. Sitting down on the sun-warmed rocks for a little while was quite lovely.
A big ol' rock
This side of this hill is just amazing in real life.
The sheerness of it absolutely doesn't translate in the picture!
Don't you just want to climb these stairs with me??
Teeny flowers were blooming all over the above stairs
A lovely spot partway up the hill
Don't you just want to sit here?
View off the north side of the hill
I am up on the big ol' rock


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spring - an imagined conversation between a mother and her teenager

"Hey Junior, look! Cousin It is in the crosswalk!"

"Where? Oh, that's our ALT, Mom."

"I wonder if that's one of those newfangled hairstyles from the New York fashion runways..."

Monday, May 10, 2010

My new toy

For some people, it's the newest Apple product. For some, it's the newest smartphone. As for me, I get my electronic kicks from kitchen appliances (mostly because the new Apple products and smartphones are too expensive).

I've wanted a juicer for some time now. I really don't know why. Sometimes you hear cool things about them, and I've never had one. They haven't exactly been high on my priority list, and most of them are quite expensive - much more than I would pay for something unnecessary.

Well, yesterday I was at the home store shopping for a blender, and there it was. A cool looking juicer. I thought about how much fun it would be to try one, but it was really too bad that they were so expensive. Then I actually looked at the price, and noticed that it was quite cheap!

Hey!! The moment I've been waiting for!

So, I bought it and a cheap blender. Never having tried a juicer, I couldn't help but wonder if they actually did the same thing. I bought it anyway.

As soon as I got home, it was time to see what it could do! I quickly cleaned the pieces and assembled the machine (thankfully, it was pretty straightforward). Then, I was ready to commence juicing stuff!

First, I buzzed up an apple. I was surprised at how loud and violent the juicer was! It reminded me on a Cosby episode where the kids use Dad's juicer and get juice all over the kitchen. My juice stayed contained, but I could see how it could easily escape were the lid not secured first!

I pulled out the juice container to take a sip. MAN! That stuff was good!! It was better than good! I wondered what else I could buzz - hey, how about a banana?

The banana was not a success. But by that point I was hooked on juicing things! Over the course of the afternoon, I sent through an orange, more apples, a carrot, and a sweet potato. The sweet potato was kind of weird. It tasted better with some apple juice added. Then, I pretty much ran out of edible produce. So, I went to the store and stocked up.

That evening, I peeled some pineapple that had been on sale and ran it through (I had heard good things about pineapple juice). It was also AMAZING! It was pure creamy deliciousness! Plus, I got to make a fun pineapple face mask out of the leftovers.

This morning, I was eager to make some juice for breakfast. I decided to go for more of a veggie theme, and ran a cucumber, a stalk of celery, a carrot, and two small tomatoes through. It did not come out looking like V8 or any veggie juice I've ever seen. It was a weird brown color. It didn't taste too bad, though!

I was going to exercise after work this evening, but I wound up going to a welcome party instead. I got to eat healthy staples such as fried potato wedges with hunks of butter on top. Why haven't we thought of this in America yet? We eat everything else, and these things were gooooooood!

After that dinner, I thought I'd have a little veggie boost before bed. So, I ran a cucumber and a hunk of ginger through. I thought I'd probably add a carrot, but I wanted to taste that mix first (I like tasting along the way). Well, I took a swig and found that juiced ginger is EXTREMELY potent!!!!!!!! WOW!!!!!!! Sadly, it was still too strong even with the carrot addition, so I threw it down the drain (probably cleaned the kitchen pipes out). Then, I put a whole pack of strawberries through. Boy, did that smell good! Then, I added some vanilla syrup.

OK, so maybe I fail at being the healthy hippie, but boy was that good!

Stay tuned for further juicer adventures! I know, I know, but try to contain yourselves!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A seaside pedal

I rode my bike 20km today. I am quite proud of this fact! 20km sounds like such a huge number - so much bigger than the equivalent number in miles. I wonder if this is why people run 5k races - sounds more impressive than 3.1 mile races (although to me that sounds pretty impressive). But I digress. Anyway, this afternoon I decided that I wanted to go out for a bike ride. While the day was a bit chilly, I knew it would definitely be bearable once I started pedaling.

So, I hopped on the trusty Bike of Doom and pedaled out of town. At first, I thought I would go the 5km to Swan Lake (ahahahahahaha...sorry), but then I decided to just continue to pedal along the coast to the airport, which was 8km.

It was just so beautiful to bike right by the sea and watch the waves crash on the shore. I thought of my dad and how much he likes bodysurfing (although I think one would need a wetsuit in that water). Then, I thought again about how strange it was to be pedaling along a country's northern coastline. Back home, I'd mostly been to the southern edge of the country with occasional visits to the western and eastern sides. But never the northern seacoast - for obvious reasons.

As I swept along the coast, I felt like I could pedal forever. The sky seemed to both stretch forever and rest low, like a cap. I approached the airport and pedaled on by, headed on into the vast emptiness, but with my crashing sea as the ever present neighbor to my left.

I decided that I wanted to go down to the beach and watch the waves, but there was a good bit of growth between the road and the beach. 2km past the airport, I found a way down to the beach. As I exited the road and headed down, I noticed that the wind was pretty strong. I hoped that it wouldn't knock my bike over.

I parked my bike and walked around on the beach for a few minutes. I noticed several perfect shells, and then I saw it. A perfect sand dollar! I always wanted to find one when I went to the beach in Florida, but I never could. And now, here one was, just as beautiful as could be!

I couldn't bring myself to displace it from its lonely and beautiful habitat - it felt a bit like kidnapping - so I left it. I wonder if anyone else will find it and take it, or if it will get buried in the sand, or washed out to sea.

I made my way back to my bike and decided to head on out. Before I had turned off to go to the beach, I had toyed with the idea of pedaling on further, or exploring a side road I had seen. The wind felt pretty strong, though, so I decided to start biking the 10km back home, instead.

I hopped on my bike, started to pedal, and noticed that I really wasn't going anywhere. Hmm. It kind of felt like my bike was stuck in molasses. But, there hadn't been a molasses explosion in Northern Japan. It was the wind. The really really strong wind. And I was 10km from home.

Well, I pedaled and pedaled, but it was really a losing battle. I remembered those dreams where I've been running from something and just couldn't get the traction or power to actually get anywhere. But this time, I was awake. Thankfully, nothing was chasing me!

I fruitlessly continued to pedal, and as I laboriously made my was along, I concocted the perfect plan. I would stop at a bus stop, ditch my bike in the undergrowth, and take the bus home. I would just come back for my bike when there was less wind - like maybe in 2020.

Unfortunately, buses don't run very often in the vast wilderness.

When I got to the only stop where I could conceivably carry out my plan, it turned out to be the airport stop. Somehow, burying my bike in the brush outside the airport didn't seem like the best plan. So, I soldiered on. It took me 20 minutes to do 2km. That is not very fast, especially for a bike.

I found myself trying to make myself more aerodynamic. I tried twisting my body first. That didn't work out too well, and it was kind of hard to see where I was going. Then, I tried pulling a move from my days of sailing at camp where you approach the wind in a zig-zag pattern - tacking. Then, I removed my coat to try to mitigate the sail effect. That seemed to help a little, although it may have been wishful thinking. The best effect seemed to be when I hunched way down like a racer (channeling my inner Lance Armstrong). But then I had the hard to see problem again.

The kilometers slowly passed, and home drew closer and closer. I was so happy and so exhausted as I pedaled into the outskirts of town. I wobbled past a speed trap and wondered if I would get pulled over on the suspicion of drunken bicycling (I didn't).

By the time I had made it to my neighborhood, I was worn out, but I had learned a very important lesson. When you feel like you could pedal on forever, take a minute to see if you are doing the work of pedaling, or if you are taking a free ride on the wind!