Saturday, May 31, 2003

The Cocheco Mill as seen from above the Falls.
If you happen to be wondering about the "Cochecho" vs. "Cocheco" thing you can find the explanation here.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Cochecho Falls and Central Ave in the background.

Not the most impressive picture of it, but here is the lilac tree in the yard.
(Btw, that's a shed in the back, not the house!)

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Cocheco Mon?
From the bridge at Cocheco (or Cochecho if you're feeling like a Dover snob and purist) Falls in downtown Dover.
I saw a deer on 6th Street the other day when I was on my way out to the animal shelter. It wasn't even very far out of town, just about 25 yards past the last stoplight on the town side of the bridge that crosses over the turnpike. I was actually looking at a car for sale that was parked by the side of the road and first thought there was some sort of deer statue next to it. Then I saw the deer's head move. In the rearview mirror I saw it cross the road and disappear into the woods.
I'm a volunteer at the Dover animal shelter now. In the midst of the dog search I thought it might help my dog-finding karma if I became a volunteer. And the Dover shelter looks like it could use all the help it can get. Stratham and Kennebunk have posh shelter facilities that are possibly nicer than a couple of apartments I have lived in. Dover's shelter is in a couple of old wooden buildings out back behind the county jail, set on a hill overlooking some corn fields. I can't help but think it looks like an animal jail.
The volunteer work is basic and decidedly unglamourous-- cleaning cat and dog kennels, doing laundry, washing and drying pans, beds and bowls, filling litter boxes. But it's also ok to play with the animals to help socialize them. I tried to take a little beagle puppy for a walk on Monday but it started raining and he wanted to get back inside. I didn't really mind it much. Maybe the puppy had more sense than I do.

Monday, May 26, 2003

I blog I really like reading these days is the Jer Zone, written by a guy in Lebanon, NH. He has given me faith that writing about your dog can make for good reading. The blog has a nice design, entertaining writing and beautiful photography.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Some short random stuff--
If you are in southern Maine and in search of an excellent hot dog, go to Hot Dog Heaven in South Berwick. It's a tiny shop with great hot dogs from Chicago and New York (I think), tasty cheese fries and nice guys behind the counter. They had Stone Temple Pilots on the boom box the whole time we were there last time, which is just fine with me.

Got rhubarb? You should make this cake. Add one cup more of rhubarb than the recipe calls for. It's sooooooooo good.

Japanese vegetables we are going to plant in the garden: daikon, edamame, komatsuna, mizuna, Japanese eggplant, shiso, and gobo. Not sure how any of it will grow here but it's got to be better than the old stringy daikon I bought at the supermarket a few weeks back.

The other morning I finally got Shiro to come out to the yard to experience the fragrance of the lilac tree and his first comment was, "It smells like toilet deodorizer."
I try to read the Japanese news online every couple of days so I don't forget how to read it, which is probably the only reason why I know that Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi visited the States and met with President Bush. I lived in Japan long enough to know that the story must have been top news every day and night. Here it doesn't even make the news. I'm sure the wide show panelists and news commentators spent hours talking about the importance of the visit and how crucial it is for Japan's defense and international reputation. I've wondered for a long time what Japanese people would do if they understood how how little most Americans care about Japan (or most foreign countries for that matter).

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Ok. I have become one of those nauseating people who obsesses over The Dog and speaks to it in a high squeaky voice and calls it "my baby". So sue me.
I'm sure I'll get over a while.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

I think I have Postcard Syndrome again. It's a much more pleasant experience than the Supermarket Vertigo I get sometimes.
I clearly recall several summers back when I was here visiting and every place I looked seemed like it could have been a scenic postcard. Every street I drove down and every vista I spied made a perfect Polaroid moment backdrop. It must be the lushness that comes when the weather is being beneficient.
Anyway, it's very postcard-y for me these days. There are all kinds of flowering trees showing their stuff now. Not just the white-pink or baby pink of the cherry blossoms in Japan, which is were I got turned on to the whole flowering tree concept in general, but everything from white to yellow to fuschia, a whole spectrum of pinks and purples, in every size from baby trees to huge majestic ones. It's all very impressive. And it's kind of interesting to see it in contrast to Japan and the uniform beauty of the cherry blossoms all blooming in more or less the same color at more or less the same time. Now isn't that something to think about?
This morning I got up and took the dog out and realized the big lilac tree was in bloom by the fragrance before I noticed the blossoms. I broke off a little sprig and put it in a vase on the kitchen table because neither Shiro nor Rachel have any experience with lilacs. (It's the NH state flower, if you didn't know.)
I got the lawn 3/4 mowed before it started raining today. Of course I started at the back this time because I didn't get to it last week. It turned from cloudy to light drizzle to a shower by the time I got to the front of the house, so I had to abandon ship. Now the back yard looks great and the front looks like a bad haircut. Oh well.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Here he is. We named him Pancho.
Everyone says getting a new puppy is just like having a baby but I'll tell you what, I don't think so. Maybe it is for the folks who are on the sideline during the pregnancy and infant stages, but not carrying him in utero in Alien fashion for nine months and not having to personally nurse him makes it seem a whole lot easier to me. At least at this point.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Thanks for the dog comments. I believe my search has come to an end, but I don't want to jinx myself because I still need to actually go and pick up the pup in Gloucester tomorrow. Don't know about getting a cat and treating it like a dog, but I did actually propose the name Wan (woof in Japanese) to the rest of the family. I thought it was great because the dog is from Puerto Rico and we could work the Juan/Wan angle, but no one else here was biting.
I found the pup on Petfinder yesterday and called then drove an hour and ten minutes to Gloucester, Massachusetts. I got off of 95 at the earliest opportunity and took route 133 through Rowley, Essex and Ipswich into Gloucester. It was the first time I'd even been through any of those towns. Not bad for Massachusetts ;). Lots of trees and old houses and antique shops and once you get around Ipswich and Gloucester it really starts to looks like the town in Jaws.
My oya-bakaism extends to animals, so I'll post puppy pictures once we get the dog home. I'm kind of nervous about getting him because I called back to the shelter this afternoon to check on something about the dog and even though I had come in and been approved this morning, no one had placed the dog on a 24 hour hold for me or even written his name on my application. Hopefully that has been straightened out and approximately 12 hours from now we'll be in Gloucester picking up Pancho from Cape Ann Animal Aid.
On a different note-- couple of incidents today made me realize the small townieness that still exists here. On the way down to Gloucester I had stopped in the Pet Quarters shop in Newington to check out car barriers and on the way back went in and bought some supplies and the guy there totally remembered I had been in earlier and we talked and he helped me get my stuff. Then I ended up going to the post office twice today and that fact was noted and mentioned the second time I was in there. Small circles here. And I just colored my hair a pretty dark cranberry color which probably makes me just that much easier to spot.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

If you knew the actual number of hours per day I have devoted to searching for and thinking about searching for a dog since I moved back here you'd think I was nuts. Doesn't seem like it would be such a hard proposition-- you go to the shelter, find a suitable canine in need of rescue, take it home and there you go, right? That's how I thought it would go, but it hasn't gone like that at all. It's become part of my morning routine now to first check the incredible Petfinder site, individual sites for animal shelters within a 3 state area, the classifieds at Petfinder and the ads on the Uncle Henry's* website. I also call some of the shelters within a 45 minute drive of here every day or so to ask about available dogs and have been to visit the Dover shelter 3 times and the ones in Stratham and Kennebunk once each too. Still, I remain dog-less.
Am I being too picky? I don't think so. All I want is a nice medium sized dog who won't shed too much and who will be a nice pet and companion for walks around the neighborhood and on the trails and fields out on the State Fish and Game land nearby. But I don't want a pitbull, a rottweiller, a doberman or a german shepard and I can't spend $600 on a purebred puppy. Most of the dogs I've seen online and have called about were no longer available and a lot of the ones in the shelters won't be adopted out to families with kids under 12.
When I went up to the Kennebunk shelter I came across a a nice, medium-sized, black dog, who looked like a mix between a lab and something with brown colored feet, who was scared to death to be where he was, but sweet nonetheless. I asked several shelter workers about the dog since it was in a kennel in the area with adoptable dogs but without a card on the kennel. No one could tell me anything about the dog except to check the website in a few days to see if he becomes available. So I continue in my virtual search for a real live dog.
*If you want some insight into the Maine state of mind check out the online version of the Uncle Henry's Weekly Swap or Sell It Guide. The actual physical paper publication gives you a much better feel for the whole Maine vibe, but browsing the offerings on the website is pretty insightful too.The Free for the Taking, Wanted and Swap & Trade sections are good reads. And the Firearms section...

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

" the Mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men."
-- Daniel Webster

I wonder if the Old Man of the Mountain's descension means that God has taken down his sign and closed up shop here. Might have something to do with the lame ass afternoon DJs on WHEB who spend most of their airtime talking about how they have such a hard time "getting laid" and wondering what the cause for that is. Guess that they have never stopped to think that any woman with half a wit about her might figure that if these guys spend so much time talking about it when they aren't getting it, they'll spend twice the time trumpeting when they do get some. Who wants to be "the chick I laid last night" on a public broadcast?
And as they mentioned themselves on air (and as you can see for yourself on the website), they do have "faces made for radio".

Saturday, May 10, 2003

It's been just over a month since I moved back here and I still do not have the casual social interaction thing down yet. Maybe I never did in the first place, but there are times I feel I am really awkward. What the hell am I talking about? Here's an example. The other day I went to an auto parts store to get some kind of oil absorbing oil pan so that Shiro could change the oil in the car. I went in and talked to the guy behind the counter and first of all he didn't really know what I was after so I tried explaining it again. He told me what they carried and after a quick call back home I realized it wasn't what I was after. The guy was nice and told me another shop in town probably carried it. I must have come across as too apologetic about not dropping my cash in this guy's store because he ended up telling me it's ok if I didn't buy anything.
The post office is another situation I am slowly getting used to. "Going postal" is a term now used that pretty well maps to the Japanese kireru. It's when someone goes off and gets crazy and violent. Well, the Dover post office is nothing like that. They are always happy, always friendly, cracking jokes and chatting while still giving great service. Yesterday I went to mail out some packages to Japan and Marty (gotta love those nametags) says to me, "Hey, you're awfully quiet today. What's the matter?" My answer was that I have a cold, which is true, but the real answer is that I'm not used to postal workers offering conversation and human interaction. I am used to "Irasshaimase", "hyaku-ju en desu", and"arigato gozaimashita"-- interaction complete. It may take me a little while to get up to speed in trading wise cracks with Marty. It seems reacculturization is in the details.


Photo of Bolt at Kelley's Row courtesy of the WHEB (The Rock Station) website.

Friday, May 09, 2003

I'm starting to get jazzed up about the idea of teaching Japanese here in NH, even though it's almost 4 months until I actually start. I even ordered a used copy of Genki from Amazon to see if it's a textboook I'd like to use. I've read good reviews about it and I probably could have waited a bit and found some way to get the university to buy it for me, but my impatience was worth the $16 it cost me to just order the copy myself. I have no idea what the students' levels are going to be. I could continue using their current text because they've only finished about half of it, but I don't like the fact that they have a textbook that is all in Japanese and then a supplementary text that gives them all the English translations of the textbook. Making students buy a new textbook when the old one is only half finished is not something I consider lightly, but I also don't want to lock myself into using a textbook I don't like just for the sake of frugality. We're looking at 50 hours of classtime per semester, plus at least that much time again for study outside of class. If I were a student I'd rather spend an extra $20 to get a text I like to work with.
I have heard from the university that 9 students have already registered for the class. Nine students, four classes per week, 50 minutes per class. Man, it looks like I will actually be able to teach, which is something I never really felt like I was doing the way I wanted to in Japan. How much teaching really takes place when you have 35 students per class and 10 different classes that only meet once a week? I never even learned half the students' names.
It was so long ago that I don't even really remember when the conversation took place. It might have been over beers at Manoa Gardens at UH or even after that, after we had all moved back to Japan, but I do recall sitting around with the boys (this includes Dianne, who like myself tends to be guy-like in her thought processes) discussing the ideal teaching position, kind of like the way Genji and his buddies sit around discussing the perfect woman somewhere at the beginning of the The Tale of Genji. I believe we came to the conclusion that the ideal job teaching Japanese would be at a small university where you work alone and create the Japanese language program by yourself. That way you can (hopefully) avoid a great deal of the politics that are always involved when academic types work together. UNH is not a small university, but the Japanese program couldn't be much smaller without being nonexistent, so I've landed pretty close to the bull's eye.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Today is soup-eating kind of weather-- cool, misty and green with daytime temps in the high 40s (that's around 8 degrees for you celsius types). I'm eating split green pea soup. It's from a can but that's okay because, in general, I've been cooking up a storm since we got here. I'm doing my best to keep things simple in life for a while. It's a very hard thing for me to do, but I do really enjoy cooking so that helps. I guess my big "problem", the unspoken "issue" that I tend to nervously skip over is that I am slowly coming to accept the fact that I am now a ... fulltime homemaker. OK. I said it. Secret's out. Get over it and move on girl!
And I guess I will indeed do just that because I believe Bolt is going to attempt to play a few tunes at Hoot Night at Kelly's Row in Dover tonight. I believe Stephanie is going to have Rebecca, her business partner, videotape us because Stef is thinking about submitting us as a package deal to Courtney Love who is looking for a female guitarist and bassist for an August tour or some big British festival or something like that. I haven't paid too much attention to the details because I think the chance of anything coming of it are as close to nil as is cosmically possible, but what the hell. A gig is a gig.

Monday, May 05, 2003

The couple who live across the street, Tom and Betty, are like the perfect neighbors, and not in a cheesy, tv sitcom kind of way. From the day we have moved in they have been so welcoming and kind, offering us use of their home, major appliances and home and garden tools if we ever need them. Last September when we were here during summer vacation and playing out in the yard one evening, Betty called us over and showed us where a doe and her fawns were grazing back in the fields and then invited us in and gave us a little tour of their house, which I had been dying to see. Their house and yard are beautiful and provide us great views out of the front windows of our house and are an inspiration to get me out into the yard and working to make this place look suitably pleasant from their side of the street. They "hired" Rachel to collect their mail and newspapers when they went away to visit their kids a couple of weeks ago, which was a sweet thought that helped Rachel learn about being a good neighbor and part of a community.
Yesterday when I was out in the yard patching a bald spot on the lawn the plow had chewed up over the winter Betty came over and asked if I was interested in some perennials they were taking out to make room for shrubs. Free flowers? Sure! Now I have what should become a fine day lily garden going in a corner around the side of the porch. When they come into bloom their orange and golden flowers are going to look great against the dark red of the house as you come up around the bend in the road from the south.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Suppose all the internet hip kids already know about this, but if you haven't seen this yet you're likely to enjoy playing with Rob's Amazing Poem Generator
I got up this morning and threw on a different t-shirt over the sweats I sleep in and went down to the corner store for a half gallon of milk and the Sunday paper and this is the headline I found--New Hampshire�s icon is gone.

The Old Man of the Mountain's face fell off. Not sure how many of you outside of New Hampshire are familiar with the Old Man of the Mountain, but he is our state symbol-- a craggy granite profile that overlooks (overlooked) Franconia Notch. It's the symbol of what we like to think of as the state's natives' character-- strong, sturdy and rugged.
At least the tragedy gave me the chance to read this quote from Daniel Webster, a 19th century NH lawyer and statesman, "Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades; shoe makers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but up in the Mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men." It's not exactly a politically correct statement in this day and age, but I like it anyway.

Friday, May 02, 2003

Hey. You people who search for "random stuff" on Google and end up here. I'm talking to you. Did you actually have anything particular in mind when you punched that combo into Google or can anyone possibly be that bored and yet unable to tear themselves away from the computer?
Just wondering.