Saturday, February 21, 2015

Back home

Delta Airlines couldn't have been nicer. Shortly after we learned our flight was being delayed, they brought a big array of snacks for us to munch on. I chose this box which contains 3 tiny chicken sandwiches (I ate one—didn't care for it), a protein bar and some orange juice.

After a very long day yesterday which included a 3 hour flight delay in Tokyo and a 12 hour flight, I made it home with 15 minutes to quickly brush my teeth, freshen my make-up, and change my shirt and sweater, to go out the door to drive to choir. Thankfully, my friend Bonnie stuck around to see if my car started before driving away. My battery was dead. I had an inkling it might be due to the very, very cold weather in Minnesota while I was away.

Regretfully, before I left for Japan, I had agreed to substitute for our church choir director on the night of my return. I got there on time, but I really had to work hard at staying alert during the rehearsal. Thankfully I made it through. Afterwards, friends brought me home where it took only a few minutes to get ready for bed. I slept like a rock!

Today I had my car jump started and then went to my car dealership and had a new battery installed. It should be good for a long time.

So my bags are unpacked, laundry is done, I bought a few groceries, and enjoyed a walleye dinner at Culver's. Now is a good time to add some travel pictures. This particular photo is from when our jet was either over Russia or Alaska. The mountains were awesome!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Tour of Hans' ship

The port bow of the destroyer

Flight deck

Yours truly in the Captain's Chair on the bridge

On the table in Hans' stateroom is a model of his ship that he put together.

The ship's crest

A Japanese ship tied up at the next berth
It was a thrill for me to tour this destroyer that is commanded by my son. It was recently in dry dock and is nearly finished with the all of the updates. It looks fresh and awesome. He and his crew have worked very hard and while I was there it passed its inspections.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Heading home

Annika and William
I've really enjoyed my stay in Japan with Hans, Rachel, Josiah, Annika and William—and their cat, Noko. We've been to many fun places; I got to see the Japanese school where Annika and William attend; went to three basketball games that each of my grandchildren played; toured Hans' ship and had lunch with him and Josiah at a nice restaurant on the base. Rachel took me shopping several times and made my stay here extra nice. I have taken the bus completely around the base, and managed to take a taxi home after the bus ride concluded far away from their home (my mistake). I have shopped, watched a movie, played "Trouble" and "Candy Land" with my grandkids; knitted, and walked Annika and William to and from their bus stop. It has been great!

Josiah with his triple decker peanut butter sandwich
Now for the long flight home (12 hours) and back to reality. I have heard I will be returning to subzero temperatures. Ugh! Thankfully I have had a break from that and my eyes have feasted on the sights and sounds of Japan.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Downtown Yokosuka

Liz is seated on the left and the teacher is at the head of the table.
Yesterday Rachel dropped me off at one of the base gates and I walked a block or so to the downtown district of Yokosuka. I have been there each time I have visited Japan, so I know my way around a little bit. My first stop was the knitting store which I have come to love. Just inside is a table with little stools around it and women are gathered there for knitting. One of them is the teacher. I indicated wanting to purchase some yarn and sit with them to knit for a little while. I feel God was watching out for me because one of the women, Liz, spoke perfect English. She told me they were just going to leave for lunch at a Chinese restaurant and would I like to join them. I told her I had just eaten so would look in a few other stores and return at 1 o'clock. [Looking back, it would have been an excellent opportunity for me. But knowing I am a very fussy eater, I didn't want to embarrass myself with turning down the foods on the menu.]

In the meantime, I went to a couple of 100 Yen stores (think Dollar Store) and bought a pair of size 8 knitting needles, plus a few other items. Going past one small shop, I noticed a woman sporting a beautiful kimono. I peeked in the door and she and the clerk invited me in. I asked the woman if I could take her photo and she delightfully agreed – front, back, and her feet. She smiled so pretty. It is these experiences that I love.

Next to that shop was the knitting store. As I entered, Liz, the kind woman who spoke perfect English, asked me to follow her outside and around the corner to a little store that had many mobiles that she wanted me to see. She explained why we had been seeing dolls (a man and woman) in little settings in many of the stores we had visited. It is a build up to Girls' Day which is March 3. On that day hundreds of dolls are placed on the steps to the shrines as a celebration.

Returning to the yarn shop, Liz got me a stool so I could join them and the shop keeper brought a plastic tub for me to put my purse and coat, plus shopping bags. After some deliberation, I chose a yarn and pattern and was going to use the size 8 knitting needles I had purchased at the 100 Yen store. I was nicely informed they were much too large. The kind teacher offered to give me her pair of size 5 needles, but the shop keeper brought me a new set from the store. I offered to pay for them, but Liz told me they were a gift to me! Such kindness.

This is a model of the scarf I am knitting.
The sweetness and kindness of these ladies was overwhelming. Three of them gave me packages of hard candy and Liz translated many of their comments. One of the ladies tried a hat she had knitted on my head. She said the color went well with my hair.  I was having so much fun that I called Rachel (using Josiah's phone) and asked to stay longer. Before I had to leave, Liz wrote her email address down for me and told me to contact her if I had any problems with finishing my scarf. They won't be meeting again until next Tuesday, so I cannot go back today to join them.

I love how God watches out for me and brings special people and events into my life. I feel blessed.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Greetings from Japan

Last Thursday I arrived in Japan.. The flight was 12 hours and 20 minutes. I sat next to a delightful Chinese couple who now live in Rochester and I learned they attend the same church as my brother. Years ago their parents escaped from mainland China to Taiwan. They were on their way there to visit family. They made the time on the plane go quickly.

After getting off the plane and going through Immigration and baggage claim, I made it to Customs and then hurried to find the train station in the lower level of the airport. I had my destination written on a slip of paper and showed it to the ticket agent. After paying, I hurried to the track and when the Express arrived, I boarded – in car 12. After stowing my luggage, I found a seat and sat down. One of the first announcements was that cars 1 - 6 would be traveling to my destination; cars 7 - 12 would be separating at a certain point. So, while the train was moving, I made my way through all of the cars until I got to car 6. Again, I sat down, only to learn that seats were assigned and I was to be in car 4, seat 3C. Again, I moved my luggage and self to the correct spot. Mind you, my ticket was written in nearly all Japanese.

The Express Train
I had now been awake about 23 hours, and I'm still not to Yokosuka. The ticket I have takes me as far as Ofona, so at that point, I exit the train. Now to find my next train. After trucking my luggage (43 pounds) up a tall flight of stairs, I found the ticket agent. I showed her my note. Unfortunately, the woman spoke NO English. She wrote an "8" on my slip of paper and pointed to the stairs. Now I have to trudge down the stairs with my luggage. I spotted a couple of school girls and asked them if the train on track 8 was going to go to Yokosuka. They smiled and spoke Japanese back to me, nodding affirmatively with their heads. When the train came, I got on with them. I looked up to the map above the doors and asked them once again if I was on the correct train. A woman intervened and used the word "transfer." "Do I need to get on another train?" She was confused and again said, "Transfer." At that moment, another woman came up next to me and in a kindly way, spoke some English. She had me get off the train at the next stop and helped me walk to the car behind us that had just been detached from the car I had been in. She told a conductor where I was going and thankfully, a passenger in that car indicated he was going to Yokosuka and helped me get my baggage off the train when we had reached the destination.

Hans drove up to the station just as I was coming out of the building. What a relief to see him! I had now been awake 25 hours and was glad to be off the train.

The next day, Friday, Rachel and I took the train to Yokohama to shop at a beautiful department store, Sogo. I just loved looking around at everything. Here are some of the things we saw:


Fish (click to enlarge any photo)


Orchids in the floral department

Baked goods

Manikins with interesting fashions

Kimono (these were not cheap!)
Saturday we went to see all three kids play basketball in a gymnasium on the base. For some reason, I didn't get any photos of Annika and William in their uniforms.

Josiah in his basketball uniform
Seeing the kids play basketball was a lot of fun! Following the games we all had lunch at the McDonald's on the base. Later in the afternoon Hans gave me a tour of his newly renovated ship.  I blogged about this in a separate entry.

Sunday, Annika's 9th Birthday

Early Sunday morning we took 3 trains to Tokyo to celebrate Annika's 9th birthday at KidZania. This is a large space within a mall wherein the children can go to different establishments to get a job, work, and make some money. The (play) money can be used to buy things in the KidZania store. Annika chose to work in an ice cream shop. Once her reserved time came up, a hairnet, cap and apron were put on her and she and three other little girls were shown what to do. Afterwards she got to eat her ice cream cone. She also performed in a magic show and worked at a veterinary clinic. Josiah worked at a gas station, worked at a newspaper (wrote copy), and drove the fire truck, plus put out a fire. William worked at the gas station, performed in the magic show, helped drive the fire truck and put a fire, and marched in the parade. We were there a good part of the day and "camped out" in a lunch area where we saw a lot of action. I met a nice Japanese woman who wanted to use her English. I learned her husband (who was also very friendly) is a general practitioner in his own clinic. They were very nice people.

Annika ready to make an ice cream cone

Ice cream coming out of the machine into her cone

The finished cone (she got to eat it)

William, waiting for his designated time in the magic show

Veterinarian Annika

Annika and 2 other little girls helped treat this dog

Both Josiah and William got to drive the fire truck and put out the fire

After our time was up at KidZania, we boarded the trains to Yokohama to a Hard Rock Café to celebrate Annika's birthday. After our dinner, the wait staff brought Annika a large, hot fudge sundae complete with a lit sparkler and they sang "Happy Birthday" to her, followed by handing her a blue guitar for pictures.

Annika with her birthday cake at home

Tuesday we shopped in the Livin' store in Yokosuka plus the NEX on the base. I have enjoyed walking Annika and William to and from the school bus each day (about 3 blocks).

Annika in her Friday school uniform

William in his uniform and playing his toy horn for show and tell

At the bus stop

In the bus, ready to depart

Today, after they departed, I took the base bus around the area to see all there is to see.

Hans' ship as seen from the moving bus
This year Rachel is homeschooling Josiah and it is going very well. It was very interesting for me to sit at the table while she gave him his lessons. This keeps her very busy.

On my last full day in Japan, Rachel drove me out to the private school where Annika and William attend.

Annika in her classroom

William in his classroom

A shrine a few hundred feet from the school

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

New Floor

What a very nice feeling to walk into our office yesterday morning to see the new flooring in our reception room. What do you think?


I really like this floor. It looks like walnut. The baseboards are beveled and are very attractive. The book shelves were damaged a little bit in the move so are being repaired before returning them to the far end of the room.

Our new refrigerator and dishwasher arrived today. The refrigerator is very nice! It's the same style and make as Heidi's. The dishwasher, also a wonderful brand, came without any buttons to turn it on. Apparently Samsung produced 3,000 of these and we got one of them. A representative is supposed to arrive tomorrow morning to install the missing parts. So, things are progressing in our office.

What's left? The reception desk and immediate space around it. My boss has been given the assignment to design it. Yesterday he quizzed me on what I think it needs. I'm curious to see what he designs.