Friday, January 20, 2006

Happy Birthday MOM!!!!

Thank you for your love, patience, wisdom and support.
Thank you for making me me!!

I hope you have a wonderful day!!!

Monday, January 16, 2006

When all you've got ARE lemons....

After spending all day Friday trying to organize people, cars, and destinations we had our plans set for another Saturday of snowboarding: a 7:30 meeting in Nyuzen, pack everyone in the cars and head to the hills...

...6:30 Saturday morning I woke up to the sound of rain on my balcony. BLECH?
I got up anyway.
I switched on the TV to hear the weatherman prognosticating - rain, avalanches, road closures....-oh goody.
I started packing anyway.
Next, I got a phone call from one of the cars heading to Nyuzen, "Um yeah, we've been in a slight fender bender, we're not going to make it."
I made coffee and loaded up my gear anyway.

In the parking lot of my apartment were three cars full of not so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed snowbunnies.
I walked over to fetch Johnny from his apartment and this is where the fun began. Our friend Chika had also been listening to the road reports, ski reports, weather reports. It didn't take long for her to convince us that it wasn't going to be worth it to go anywhere that day. So we stood in the parking lot -in the rain-in our gear-wondering what to do at 7:30 on a Saturday morning.

The first and most obviously thing was to get out of the RAIN!!! So Kirsten graciously hosted 10 slightly damp, somewhat sleepy, and very disapointed people in her apartment. We huddled under the kotatsu and around the kerosene heaters, sipping tea and deciding what to do next. There had to be something we could do!

I'm not sure who suggested it first, but there are foothills about 20 minutes from my apartment -specifically there's a camping area with a nice big hill -perfect for SLEDDING!!!!

The conditions were nowhere near ideal, plus we didn't have sleds (we used plastic bags and snowboards....) but we did have fun! It took less than an hour for the event to deteriorate into a snowball fight. By this time (10:30 a.m.) we were wet, tired, and HUNGRY.

Next stop, Pizza Jamboree! Pizza Jamboree is still one of my favorite restaurants in the area. The owner studied in Seattle and while there learned to make amazing American-style pizza. Some of the gang had never been before so it was a great opportunity to introduce some of what the Niikawa area has to offer. I (shamefully) hadn't been to PJ in months. I was great to sink my teeth into real Italian sausage, real pepperoni and REAL pizza crust. I think I'll be making another visit this weekend...

With our bellies full, it was off to the next and most obvious destination...ONSEN. We loaded up the cars again, headed back to the foothills and one of our favorite places to scrub ourselves squeaky clean and soak our weary bodies - AKEBI Onsen, known for it's quiet, out of the way location and it's OBAASANS and OJIISANS (tiny, ancient, wrinkly, hunched over grandmothers and grandfathers). I love it, when the blonde brigade of Kirsten, Amy and I make an appearance - we're guaranteed to induce long gaping stares and 'gaijin-san' chatter. This time didn't help that we decided to be 'cheeky' and leave our bum prints in the snow...

There's nothing like a good onsen to make you....sleepy! In the cars once again, and back to where it all began, Kirsten's apartment for snacks, a movie and a little nap time. Our numbers had now dwindled down to 4...After the R&R we headed out to meet Chika for a bit of food before a games nite at our favorite Nyuzen hang out - KOSHI.

As usual, KOSHI brought friends together for a night of fun and games. We had a marathon round of Yatzee going - does anyone know who won?? And as always, the music's was playing, the atmosphere was relaxed, and the bartenders were friendly.

I'd have to say we made pretty good lemonade that day!