Thursday, November 29, 2007

'Tis the Season...

To be jolly, right? It's also the time when we reflect back on the past year and figure out what we have accomplished and set new goals for the upcoming year. I know this all sounds mundane, but really, I've been thinking about this a lot lately and wanted to list a few things about the year 2007. Here it goes.

Things I love about 2007:

Kevin and I celebrating our 1 year wedding anniversary. Traveling to Oregon and Washington and drinking wine and more wine. Climbing Mt. Hood. Seeing the Space Needle. My best friend Liz taking on a new challenge in Atlanta. My surprise 30th birthday party that Kev threw for me. My best friend Courtney getting engaged to the man of her dreams. Finally moving into our condo in Silver Spring and making it feel like a "home." Moving out of our condo in Silver Spring for a new adventure in Okinawa. Working with great people at Animal Planet. Going to Atlantic City with my pseudo brother Ray. Shopping for a Coach bag at the Atlantic City outlet. Spending time with great friends and making new ones. Getting promoted at work only to leave the job 4 months later. Traveling to San Francisco for a shoot and meeting "Dirty Job" man Mike Rowe. My friend Lauren having a beautiful healthy baby boy, Jack. The strong friendship and relationship I have with my Mother, even though she is far. My brother Julian and all his great accomplishments in his dance career. My loving father always looking out for me. My supportive and loving inlaws who treat me like their own daughter. Going to the daytime Emmy awards in LA. Camping at Assateague this summer. Playing at the beach. Tidepooling. Eating fresh market stand vegetables. Performing in one of my all time favorite roles of "Sally Brown" in "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown." Being nominated for a LTA award for "Best Bit Role." Not winning the LTA award. Finding out friends Cindy and Kevin are expecting their first baby. Singing at my friend Leanna's wedding. Celebrating with Renee on buying her first home. Reading several good books from Anita Shreve in one week.

Now that this is done, all I have to do now is set my goals for 2008. Yikes.

Here's wishing for a prosperous new year in 2008!!!

"Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits." ~Author Unknown

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fall in Okinawa...

It's hard to believe it's fall here in Okinawa since the weather has been in the 70's all month. It makes me actually miss the fall weather back home. There's nothing like wearing a warm fuzzy sweater sipping a coffee at Starbucks watching the leaves fall off of the trees....Okay so maybe NOT Starbucks... We DO have them here on Okinawa too... :)

I heard from the inlaws that temperatures back at home are falling to the 30's....BRRRR.....

On a second thought...maybe it's not that bad here... :)

We had a nice Thanksgiving--celebrated with a dozen new friends. We had a 20 pound bird, ham with pineapple sauce, stuffing, and lots and lots of fixings: green bean casserole, creamed corn, steamed carrots, mashed potatoes...

The weather will be even hotter for us for Christmas. Kev and I plan to fly to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates to visit my parents (the Barnetts). My brother Julian who is currently living in Germany will be there, so it will be nice to see everyone.

In the meantime, I thought I would post a few photos of my rooftop garden. You can see my herbs are doing very well. Hope everyone had a good Turkey day.

Beautiful Toguchi Beach

Here is a photo of Toguchi Beach at sunset, just a stone's throw away from our new house. Life can't be that bad if you have this in your front yard, don't you agree?

Let's start at the very beginning....

At long last....we have our "blog." Hooray!

And since it's been about a month and half since Kevin and I got here to Okinawa...I figure we'd start from the VERY beginning....

We left the U-S (Washington Dulles airport) on September 30th.... We had a direct flight from Washington Dulles to Narita (Tokyo) airport.... Thank goodness Kevin had mileage with United, so we were able to get upgraded to business class. It makes a huge difference when you are traveling on a 13 hour plus flight. Sitting in business class, Kevin and I were both able to recline our seats quite a bit and get some much needed sleep. In the days leading up to our departure, we had been cleaning our condo in Silver Spring getting it ready to show to prospective tenants... We spent almost two days cleaning it from top to bottom, making fixes, and re-painting ( I don't think our house was ever this clean when we lived here). We couldn't have done it all without the help of Mom and Dad Miller...

So back to our flight...After a 13 hour flight to Tokyo, we arrived at Narita airport. We had a brief layover here before we flew on a domestic airline into Naha airport in Okinawa. I had no idea Okinawa was so far. We had to fly another 3 hours from Tokyo just to get to Naha. Actually, looking at a map of the world, Okinawa is very close to Taiwan. Interesting...

Once we arrived at Naha, we were greeted by Kevin's sponsor Melody Jensen who picked us up and took us to what would be our home for the next 3 weeks--The Westpac Lodge on Camp Foster.

Kevin and I were so exhausted that first night we didn't bother unpacking, we just crashed.

The next day we woke up at 6:30am (jet lag of course) to a beautiful sunrise here in Okinawa. This is what we were expecting. Paradise.

The week after our arrival was pretty much full of orientations, meetings, etc as Kevin and I tried to get acquainted with our new surroundings.

At first, the weather and climate was awful. Even though we were told we just missed the "hot" season arriving in October, Kevin and I were sticky and sweaty from the humidity. We couldn't walk without breaking a sweat. The heat was really something. The other problem was we did not have a car. Living in Okinawa means you have to have a car--we quickly figured this out the hard way. The Westpac Lodge wasn't within walking distance to anything, so we had to rely on our sponsor (Melody) to get us around. She had to drive us back and forth like a chauffeur. :)

We decided our first priority was to buy our first car. We looked at quite a few dealerships on the island (even the so called "lemon lots" at Kadena AFB and Camp Foster) before we settled on my car: A Mitsubishi BJ Topo Wide. It's a cube family like car (of course very popular here in Japan). Here's a photo:

Kevin later bought his own car: a Mitsubishi Pajero Junior. A kind of a mini jeep looking car with 4WD. Both cars were bought for $8,500. Quite a deal...

After finding our vehicles, we moved on to our next priority. Finding our house.

Mi Casa es Su Casa in Toguchi

After spending what seemed like an eternity at the temporary lodge on Camp Foster, Kevin and I moved into our house on October 23rd. It took quite a bit of searching before we settled on our house. Kevin was busy with meetings and such for his new job, so I was pretty much on my own. I made appointments with several housing agencies on the island giving them my specifications: 2 to 3 bedrooms, house/duplex or townhouse, with ocean or water view. In the end, I looked at about a dozen houses with 4 to 5 agencies before Kevin and I agreed and settled on our house in Toguchi. The house is located in an area called Yomitan. Our house is in a Japanese neighborhood, but the house itself is "American". This means we are able to use American sized appliances including a stove with an oven (yes I can BAKE!), a refrigerator, a washer, and a dryer. Despite all of my best efforts to find a "Japanese" style house with a tatami mat, in the end, the convenience of having American applicances won me over. Go figure.

Our house is relatively new. It was built in 2005 and is about 1750 square feet. I should add that almost all buildings (houses, businesses, etc) here in Okinawa are made from concrete. Okinawa sees a fair number of typhoons, so all buildings are built with concrete to withstand the storms. Typhoons are just like hurricanes, but because they orginate in the Pacific Ocean-- they are called "typhoons." When a storm originates in the Indian Ocean, I think they are called "cyclones". Anyway--some people are bothered by the concrete, but I like the idea that my house will stay standing when a storm hits. I digress. So back to the house. The house has 3 stories. A two car garage is on the ground level. On the first floor, we have the master bedroom (which is huge!!!) and bathroom. The master bathroom has a shower and two vanity sinks. The 2nd floor is the main living area of the house with the living room/dining room, kitchen and two bedrooms (yes, one of these rooms is a "guest" room). There is also a 2nd bathroom with a shower/tub and a laundry room with a full size washer/dryer. We even have a balcony. The 3rd floor is the rooftop terrace. All in all, we are very pleased with the house.

Since the weather has been perfect, Kev and I decided to take advantage of the warm tropical Okinawa climate and make our rooftop terrace into a "garden" area. I have a herb garden with rosemary, dill, sweet basil, chives, and thyme growing. Kevin is partial to tomatoes, so has several plants growing. We even have a tangerine tree and an Okinawan citrus called "Shikwasa." In addition, we have some string beans, spring onions, and strawberries growing as well. Keep your fingers crossed that Kev and I both have "green" thumbs. :)

Here are some photos of the Okinawa "Shisa" lion dogs guarding our house. These traditional decorative "dogs" are believed to keep the house safe from evil spirits. They are usually displayed as a pair, a female and a male. The one on the right has an open mouth and the one on the left, a closed mouth. The open mouth is to ward off evil spirits, and the closed mouth to keep good spirits in.

The Male:

The Female:

Well as the saying goes Mi Casa es Su Casa. We have plenty of room, so please come and visit!!!
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