Sunday, April 23, 2006

Settling In

February 9, 2006 (even more stuff)

It's been (and continues to be) an interesting process. Our house has two electric room heater-A/C units already installed, and each has a remote control. Of course, both remotes have a multitude of buttons and they're all labelled in Japanese. So...I took the remotes to the Housing Office on base. Smart-and-Sweet Japanese Housing Lady made a photocopy of each remote, and wrote the translation for each button on the photocopy! Very smart...but I still don't really understand what the button labelled "Natural Comfort" does! There is no heater in the bathroom, and it's a corner room with ceramic tile floor and walls. First thing in the morning, it's COLD. Yes, the water is warm, and heats fast (heats "on demand", not in a water heater, so it doesn't run out!), but turning off the shower, opening the sliding door and reaching for that cold towel takes great courage. We've got a little electric heater in there now, but it struggles, and I'm sure it's costly. It's also not very good at its job. I've ordered an electric towel warmer -- towel warmer now, mildew-deterrent later -- but I've got to come up with a better solution before next fall and winter. Visitors take note, and plan to come in the spring or early fall! Luckily, the cold doesn't bother me so much. FH's ship left a few days ago, so though he may have been cold at first, I think that now he's near Guam, it should be warmer for him. Hopefully, the weather will be a little warmer here when he returns!

The electric heaters in the living room and bedroom are ok, but not great, and I know they are inefficient and expensive. I'd never handled a kerosene heater before, but I knew it was time. However, I was irrationally frightened. I knew it wasn't like gasoline and the fumes aren't flammable, but I kept imagining that I'd make one dumb mistake and become a ball of fire or something. Nope! Other than the silly hand pump, it was a very easy process. I had more trouble figuring out the buttons (in Japanese, of course!) but with the help of the English "translation", I conquered them. Now I'm toasty warm as I type this, and I can even set the thing to turn itself on at a specific time in the morning! It's very high-tech and full of safety features, and even has a "deodorizing" function, so there is not the characteristic kerosene smell.

Unpacking continues, as I figure out where everything is going to fit. I've already worn holes through a pair of fleece slipper socks--tatami mats aren't easy on socks, but we are not allowed to wear soled slippers on the mats, because the slipper soles will damage the straw coverings. There are lots of cupboards, but they are big and roughly finished, with large spaces and no shelves--made for folded futons, I assume. It's sort of like Christmas, as I unwrap things I haven't seen since October, or in many cases, since July.

I've posted three photos I've taken recently (click on the photo for a larger version, as always). One is sort of boring, but it was a nice clear shot of the kanji that spell "Sasebo"--the first three symbols on the face of the building are sa, se and bo. I recognize them everywhere now, even in "handwriting" which is cool. The second is a silly shot of my half-eaten meal at the Aphrodite cafe (pasta & crepes, Japanese style). FH had safe pasta with tomato and meat sauce. I had my pasta with spicy fish eggs in sort of a mayonnaise, with shreds of nori (seaweed) on top. It was delicious!! The bright green soda is melon Fanta....melon is a very popular flavor here, and I just like the fluorescent green color. The third photo I took tonight....it's sort of arty, but the late afternoon sun was golden against the frosted glass of my kitchen window, throwing a shadow of the neighbor's fence and tree and leaves and shining on the pitcher, creamer and sugar bowl I'd unpacked earlier. I thought it was pretty. I love my little house!

So much more to write about--shopping trips for new furniture, driving to Hario Base and back via different routes, being taught some Philippino dishes by a new friend and eating the delicious results, the tours I've signed up for, FH's departure on the USS Essex (and the new experiences he's having on that big boat, once he can find the time to write them down!) etc....but I will post this now, so you don't think I fell off the face of the earth. After all, after Saturday, I'll have to write all about the Nagasaki Lantern Festival, and the visit from a neighborhood volunteer to teach me more about my cho and introduce me to my neighbors (I'm supposed to bring gifts to my new neighbors, instead of the other way around!) and all the other experiences that keep washing over us both!

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