Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year Snow!

We are getting ready for the New Year in Japan. It is an important holiday, when people return home for about 3 to 4 days, visit the shrines, get cozy, eat special foods. Almost everybody celebrates, because almost all stores, restaurants, and businesses close down--for about three or four days. Including our grocery store.

In fact, most places were even shut today (new years' eve). See?

Some places were shut starting the 27th, so that people could stay home and get their major end-of-year cleaning done. As we walked around the neighborhood this past three days, we heard LOTs of vacuum cleaners!

You've seen our refrigerator, right? So here's a math problem: Five people. Four days. Three meals a day. Plus 1.5 cubic feet of refrigerator space equals....hmmmmm....

Anyway, we don't care anymore because there's always 7-11, and also, it snowed today!!!

We visited the Imperial Palace (our unofficial backyard) to play:

Somebody stopped to ask about our snowmen. "Do American snowmen usually have legs?" she asked.

It's a little surreal to think that a few short days ago we were here:

Yoi otoshi o....

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Some things we saw in Australia...

I apologize in advance: I am about to show you an unprecedented number of pictures. I think they are all great, and I couldn't stop posting them. Of course, if you don't look at them all, I won't even know :o)

1. On the beach at low tide, little crabs came out and made these piles of perfect sand balls. They worked slowly, pushing sand out of the hole and then rolled them around just so.

Are they not cool? Just let me know if you'd like me to post the other 200 photos we took of this stuff.

2. In the spirit of nonsequitur, here is the custard section of the Aussie grocery store:

3. Then one day, we went snooping around these rocks....

...and came up with a few goodies.

(teeny hermit crab in here)

4. We went for a sail on our last day. was the boys' third boat trip in Australia, and the third one in their lives (or the fourth, if like Alek, you count the canoes at Rittenhouse Day camp). I think they liked it. I can definitely see why people get into sailing. One's children are so photogenic on sailing trips.

...Ultraman was also on the sailboat.

6. Hugo found a cool shell on the island...

7. We also went for a rainforest tour....

...we got to see Mossman gorge after 30 cm of rain ...

...and we went on a small boat trip (#2)...we saw mangrove trees.
...and do you see the tree frog in this picture? are the sharp nodules on a rainforest fern.
...and we ate our tour lunch in this cool shelter.

8. Here's Hugo on his first boat trip (i.e., the snorkeling trip). This would be after he conquered seasickness...

9. This is Cape Tribulation. Named by Captain James Cook, the man who also named the Remarkable Rocks, Penguin Cove, Kangaroo Island, and Mt. Hope. That man had a way with words, and he wasn't afraid to use it.

11. Did we mention there were stingers in the ocean? addition to pain and muscle cramps, this one's sting can also impart "a feeling of impending doom." I love that--a psychological symptom.

12. This pelican had a big, white eye....

13. Another thing Darrin's colleague likes to say is, "don't fall asleep on the beach."
(p.s. don't worry--that one was in a zoo.)

14. We had this lovely goat cheese souffle the night we went out for dinner. However, eating out is not cheap in Port Douglas! This little appetizer cost about $18.

15. This friendly goose/duck thing was chewing on a spool of thread.

16. Yes, it's true. I am one of those people who takes pictures of things that remind me of our dog.

17. You can eat these ants. They taste like citrus. (It was said....)

18. There are some cute guys in Australia, too.

19. Some birds at the zoo were walking on the top of this looked like a moving cave painting.

20. Aaaah....Koalas.

21. And special souvenirs. ...

22. An interesting gravestone.

23. Another bird....

24. And Alek, asleep on the Haruka train on the way back home.