Well, this mother here got lucky with her guesswork today, anyway!
What happened is that we knew the baby was 18.6 mm last time Abigail had an ultrasound on August 19th, so at breakfast we decided to see who could guess what today's ultrasound would show the length to be now. I figured the pickle is probably "eating" and growing like crazy, so he / she must be getting big almost exponentially. Anyway, I picked 35mm, but Abigail was dead sure the length would be 27mm.
And the ultrasound said.... Well, you can read that for yourself. I'm not going to tell you!
As you know from previous posts, Japan in general and Okazaki in particular are famous for their fireworks. But this isn't the kind of pyromania I'm referring to.
No, this is more everyday and banal; less spectacular and much more annoying: What is it with Japanese people burning trash / rubbish? We have burnable rubbish picked up twice per week, with recycling for plastic and paper on other days. This is the age of the garbage truck, and there really is no need to dispose of anything yourself. But every day, drive through Japan, and you will see people out in fields burning stuff, people next to their houses burning stuff, people outside factories .... You get the picture.
It made me laugh a few years ago when the Japanese media was getting all up in arms about the potential release of miniscule amounts of dioxin from waste disposal plants, and how no one wanted one built near them. But, I could just imagine these same people going out and burning plastic and all kinds of (potentially probably recyclable stuff) right near their homes. Now, at least these incinerators are designed to burn up waste and have scrubbers to get rid of most of the toxic content. Not so your average garden fire.
Anyway, I found this scene the other day particularly ironic. What you can see here is our neighbor lady and her fire. You see the large bags of (nice, green, smoke-producing) garden waste? Those are the bags for burnable waste. All she had to do was tie up the tops and put them out for collection on Wednesdays or Saturdays. But no, she decided to make use of their large capacity another way - to collect all the waste to put on her fire. I almost wanted to go out their and tell her, "Just because it says 'Burnable Waste' on the bag doesn't mean you have to burn it yourself!"
Wow, that must have been the longest time between updates the blog has ever known - so apologies to all those of you who check every day. Mum and Dad just tired us out! (You would have had a post about Pat Robertson's assassination comments earlier this week, until I heeded Abigail's warnings to try to avoid controversy!)
Anyway, back in time a little to the trip to Kyoto with the Parents: Here is an area of Kyoto we visited in the day time and evening. During the day, the streets are quiet, and the only thing to see are the platforms stretching out from the back of restaurants along the banks of the Kamo River. But at night it comes alive with small bars, restaurants, coffee shops - and the occasional dubious "lounge".
It came a little too alive for us, as we had obviously arrived too late to get a table at most restaurants, so we ended up going a little out of this area to eat. The food was mostly vegetarian - except for Dad's mysterious dish of "mountain potato" (whatever that is) with a raw egg in it. Being accustomed to strange Japanese food, he ate it with no problem. After all, it was nothing like the moving raw squid he had to eat when we took them to the coast in 2002!
Stephen: We went into Nagoya today for one last hurrah before I go back to work. Saw some pictures by a guy called Van Gogh behind a wall of scrumming gawkers at the Culture Hall and then decided to drop in to look at baby products at a department store.
What a lot of choice!
Abigail: Stephen and I were both well-trained in our respective universities by excellent professors, but they just don't teach you useful things like how to pick out a baby stroller from amongst 50 which all look pretty much the same, or what kind of bed your child should sleep in, or exactly what kind of strappy thing to attach to your body in which to snuggle your baby if you want to take a walk.
And what I want to know is: Who exactly is getting rich off all the poor saps who buy this endless baby gear?
I need to get up early tomorrow to take mum and dad to the airport, but I thought I would whet your appetites with the first of the Kyoto pictures.
We were in Kyoto during Obon, which is the Japanese Buddhist festival of the dead. During this time, the spirits of the dead supposedly visit their living relatives, before returning to the spirit world on August 16th, the end of Obon. In Kyoto, they light huge strings of bonfires on the mountainsides called okuribi (sending off fires) to "guide" the ancestors back to the spirit world.
I went out with mum, dad and the tripod (no, that is not how I refer to Abigail; I really did bring a tripod and left her at the hotel to rest) to get some pictures of these. As you can see, we could see the kanji characters dai (meaning big) and hou (meaning law). We also saw the fungata (boat-shaped one - literally), although there is no photographic evidence.
As a spectacle, it was interesting and the size of these fires was impressive. But it did make me think how glad I am that I know where I am going when I die, and it is not to some wandering exisitence between two worlds.
We just arrived back from Kyoto on the Bullet Train last night. We had a great time and had benefited from testing the sight-seeing schedule on Abigail's parents in May. I will be putting up more pictures in the very near future, so be sure to check back.
Mum and Abigail had great fun this morning in Arimatsu, the local center of tie-dying called Shibori. They worked on the sewing and gathering today, and the finished cloth will be sent to them when it is dyed.
This was a late Mother's Day present for Mum. In England, Mother's Day changes in date every year, so unless it is marked on the calendar, we find it difficult to remember when it is. We were using the traditional Christmas present - the Marlow calendar - to keep track of all our England-related dates, so we didn't realize until later that it did not mention Mother's Day and that we had missed it. Anyway, Mum seemed to enjoy her time with Abigail doing that, so hopefully we are out of her bad books now!
Got a great shot early this morning of the little person. And not just a piccie, but we got to hear the heartbeat, too. Amazing! It made up for the scariness of rushing to the hospital in the middle of the night.
What I'm wondering, though, is what car is the little pickle driving? From the profile, I would say a Porsche 944, but what do you think? Leave your comments below!
Abigail woke me up this morning at 2:30 with nasty cramps. She had already been feeling pretty bad for about half an hour, so we decided we should go to the hospital. She could not walk very easily, but we got her to the car.
We were praying all the time, and when I dropped her off in front of the entrance so that I could go and park the car, she waited there and said later that she felt that Jesus was with her comforting her and giving her great peace.
We were surprised to find that Japanese hospitals are not like ones in the US or UK in that there were hardly any people there. We walked straight in and Abigail was able to see the ER doctor right away. There also just "happened" to be a specialist in at that time as well, so we went up to see him. He gave Abigail another ultrasound, and we were able to hear the baby's heartbeat for the first time. It was really fast, so we know the baby is already taking after his or her mother! I was just amazed that a little baby 8mm long could have a heartbeat. It was wonderful and yet surreal at the same time, because Abigail obviously does not look at all pregnant yet.
Anyway, it was a big relief to get checked out and find out that the baby was OK. We also got some medicine to help reduce the problem and we will see how that works out.
I was just thinking that we had been blogging for about a year now, and sure enough when I checked I found that we had written the first post on August 4th, 2004. So, "Happy Birthday Blog!"
I wonder if we will be able to keep up the same rate of posting this year.... We managed 362 in the last year!
Today we took the visiting mum and dad parentals to a local tempura restaurant. (Tempura is a style of cooking whereby vegetable and seafood are deep-fried in a very light batter.) Our friend Etsuko, who is the expert on all things Okazaki, had recommended this place, so we knew it was going to be good.
Well, we were not disappointed, and just as we were finishing up, the cook, who was working right in front of where we were sitting at the counter, suddenly asked whether Dad had been on TV last night. Now, as far as I knew, Dad has been taking things easy at home while Abigail, Mum and I were out at the Fireworks, so I enquired further. "Oh, I saw him in '7 Days'" replied the chef. Now, I had a bit of a brain-freeze, because my first thought was that Dad neither looks Tibettan, nor anything like Brad Pitt. But then I realized what he was talking about, and that he thought Dad looked like Harrison Ford!
We thought it was funny - Abigail and I doubly so, because I am pretty sure another Japanese friend has told us this sometime. Unfortunately, it turned out that neither Harrison, nor his personal assistant or retinue were entitled to a Harrison Ford Discount, though, which was very disappointing considering his celebrity status.
Yes, it is that time of year again when the city that produces 40% of the fireworks in Japan seems to shoot off at least half of them for the entertainment of tourists - and the imporverishment of its citizens, who have to foot the bill.
Here are our photos of this sweaty, heaving mass event:
The commemoration ceremonies in Hiroshima marking 60 years since the dropping of the bomb have been the top news on the BBC all day. In Japan, though, another big story has been taking up the time on the TV channels since shortly after this commemoration occurred: Yes, the nation's eyes turned to Osaka as the Japanese summer high school baseball tournament, known as the summer Koshien, got underway.
BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Hiroshima remembers atomic bomb
My parents arrived from England today - unprepared for the shock that they were about to receive!
We thought they would notice Abigail's "condition" and so we decided there was not much point hiding it, but that we would tell them, along with the other parents, grandparents and siblings. Now, when we told them about our engagement, we decided to try to do it in an interesting, "non-traditional" way, so we asked them, "Are you going to be free around June 9th next year?" We couldn't tell them about the new baby in a boring way - and in any case, we could not think when would be a good time (In the car? After they had gotten over jet-lag?) - so we thought about it and came up with the idea of a welcome banner.
The welcome banner was carefully designed so that initially it could just say "Welcome", but as the parentals approached, we could gradually unfurl more of it to reveal the exciting news. Well, it worked a treat, and certainly woke them up out of their jet-lagged daze!
Here it is - the first picture of the little pickle in the pickle jar. Isn't it cute? We even saw its little heart beating. (It was very fast, so it must take after its mother.) Still not really clear if it's a boy or a girl.
Anyway, now we are going to tell our immediate family members - starting with my parents who arrive tonight from England.
The Munday parents are arriving tomorrow! Just enough time for us to finish our frantic last-minute preparations. Like polishing the floor, which I did tonight, to make it nice and slippy. No, I mean, "to make it nice."
It must have been a slow news day in the BBC offices yesterday, as BBC correspondent Paul Reynolds had time to email back a forth with me a couple of times defending his piece about the controversy over the use of the bomb to end the war with Japan. He conceded my point that it didn't place enough emphasis on the obvious point that the people in the best position to end the war long before the bomb was even tested were the Japanese leadership in general and Hirohito in particular.