Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Our (Second to) Last Party

June 4.  My goddaughter's birthday.  This was going to be the last party I would ever throw for people who aren't related to me.

Then the four Japanese medical admirals and Mike's fleet counterpart deposited five enormous bottles of sake and a gallon of 13-year old Jameson's Irish whiskey on my kitchen counter enroute to shaking hands with our guest of honor, the U.S. Navy Surgeon General.  Unless I can figure out a way to smuggle all this alcohol back to the U.S., it seems we'll be hosting another big bash sometime in the coming year.

Although VADM Robinson was the nominal guest of honor, the true celebrities were the spouses of Navy doctors and nurses currently serving in Afghanistan.  Women like Cheryl and Sue, pictured here with the Surgeon General, inspire me to be (a little) less self-centered.  The Navy in general and Navy Medicine in particular could do a much better job of supporting IA families.  Feel free to flag that previous sentence as an understatement.

Xan was another special guest.  When she skipped through the door carrying that bowl of mochi, my steely opposition to potlucks became a puddle of molten pig iron.  Never have I seen a blonde-haired seven-year old wield a pair of chopsticks with the poise and dexterity Xan showed as she transferred those mochi to a serving plate.  I was so mesmerized I almost forgot to schlep the desserts from the kitchen to the dining room.

Clement the Professional Chef brought a mountain of homemade rolls and a tray of flower-shaped butter pats. There are limits to my stubborness.  Holding Clement to the No Potlucks Rule would be idiotic.

Not pictured, alas, are Jen and Cormac O'Connor.  Had Jen not taken it upon herself to arrive early, the cherry tomatoes would still be piled in one refrigerator and the feta-and-basil stuffing in the other.  Had Cormac not strolled in waving his official invitation right behind Party Crasher #1, I might not have wet my pants laughing.  And had they both not insisted on cleaning up after the party, I would have been up to my elbows in dishwater when James, Emily, and Aunt Suzi arrived for Matt's graduation two days later.

Speechless in Japan

June has been a bipolarish, agony/ecstasy month that's left me speechless (almost) (so far).  I've been basking in the blinding glow of seeing my three children together for the first time in nearly two years, doubling over in laughter at their hilarious wit, and finding them a welcome diversion from the inane antics of an outgoing Navy base regime which is drifting uncomfortably close to Totalitarianism.

This past weekend a tragic car accident in the Pacific Northwest resulted in the death of a special friend, Bob Goodwin, and the hospitalization of dear Bridget, Christopher (7), and Paul (2).  They were looking forward to returning to Japan this summer.  Bob was going to be the Senior Medical Officer on the USS Blue Ridge and Bridget and the boys were going to drag me to the Anpanman Museum at regular intervals.  It was Christopher who introduced me to Anpanman three years ago.  Need I say more?

If there is such a thing as crippling empathy, I have it.  In spades.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Ranchi-Pati: Lunch Bunch, Japanese-Style

There's some catching up to do before we head to Narita Airport this afternoon to pick up James, Emily, and Suzi.

Harumi (second from left) visited Japan last week. Two years ago she made a valiant effort to pound some basic Japanese language skills into me, Mike, and our neighbor Stu on Wednesday evenings. Then her husband retired from the Navy, they moved to Alabama, and I promptly forgot everything she taught me. This was painfully evident at the ranchi-pati in her honor when she and Hiroko had to take turns translating the conversation for me.

When Matt goes to college this fall, I am going to get serious about learning the Japanese language. That and plowing through Ulysses ought to keep me out of trouble.

Yuuko (far left, above) gets credit for discovering the wonderful subterranean restaurant, Romanee. Everyone but Hisayo ordered korukke (potato croquettes) which were garnished with an extremely refreshing Italian leaf. Hiroko bravely bit off a stem and broke out in a smile so - after waiting a couple of minutes to make sure she didn't die - I followed suit and was rewarded with an explosion of icy cold water in my mouth.

The menu was in Japanese and offered four different meals for 1,000 yen each. Two were fish, one was the croquette, and the fourth was a salad. Mike will definitely want to experience this restaurant so I'm pretty sure we will be taking Suzy and the kids there sometime in the next few days.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Wad a Great Packaging Idea!

Would you care for some gum? I can personally recommend the lemon and mango flavors.

Let's crack open the perforations on the back of the package to expose a little pocket. There's something inside. What can it be?

It's a packet of tiny Post-It notes!

Are you done chewing? Let's dispose of your gum by wrapping it in one of the little papers and tucking it inside the pocket.



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