Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Flood, pumpkin and an award-winning portrait

Nakatsu flooded. Finally. Only been waiting for that, since, well, since I moved to this house with the stream out the back, sea to the north and rivers on both sides. Every rainy season, and every typhoon season, one town or another somewhere in Japan gets it. The news is so sensational you get the feeling that entire areas of the country are underwater, but when you look more closely, it's just a few houses along the river bank in one isolated obscure town. So I figured our time would come, we have a nice big healthy river running through town, looking for all the world like it would be quite happy to jump the banks and come visit us all.

And today was the day. Actually, there was no water at all in town, and the stream behind my house wasn't even high. But 'Nakatsu, Nakatsu' was all over the news, because a few years ago the city incorporated a bunch of mountain villages inland up the river, and THEY flooded, along with a bigger town 'next to' our town (actually an hour's drive away), Hita.

I've only been as far as the river in town to look, and then only to reassure myself it wasn't ready to overflow any time soon. There are locks on the river to help regulate the flow past the main parts of town to the coast. I heard our beautiful local landmark Aonodomon was flooded, and part of the cycling road (the former railway) was washed away. I hope to get a look sometime! Maybe Saturday if we go visit someone...

In other news, we got a pumpkin. In Japan, people often give you random vegetables, especially in season. Quite a big one, so I decided today would be pumpkin day! Lena swanned into the kitchen this morning, and said, "pumpkin soup!". I thought she has read by mind, but she was just reading the school meal menu. Yep, I picked pumpkin soup day to have pumpkin day. Never mind, I was not to be thwarted! As an extra challenge, I decided to not BUY anything. I ended up with just under a quarter of a pumpkin boiled up Japanese style, just under a quarter cooked with a cream sauce and topped with cheese, a quarter put aside for pumpkin tempura on Friday night to pop on top of our Takamatsu udon (another random food gift) and somewhat over a quarter went into a pumpkin risotto. Which the kids hated, so now there's a little on the stove for Kanji, and FIVE bowls of it in the freezer for my lunches for the next week!

I can't write pumpkin without thinking of Erica, whom I have always nicknamed Pumpkin. At one point I thought up some suitable vegetable nicknames for the other two, but forgot them! So we tried again today, starting with Tomato for Lena, cos she likes them, and Carrot for Amy, because it was the first thing she saw when she opened the fridge. Actually, it was the second thing, the first thing she saw was Ginger Flower, so she decided she liked that better, and I decided Ma Petit Chou suited Lena far better than Tomato. Little cabbage.

Half way through my immensely unpopular dinner, which also featured soggy frozen chicken, Baachan called, or rather she called Kanji and he called me, to tell us about some prize Amy and I had won in a photo contest. Which made no sense at all to me, until I remembered our little modeling gig last year!

The photographer did submit a very caravaggist/18thc-romantic-painting-like portrait of me and Amy to the photography contest, and WON! How bizarre to think we were on wall somewhere with people saying "Oh, such lovely lighting" (and thinking "god she could have at least brushed her hair"). And upon winning, he presented us with a poster-size print. Baachan is sweetly proud, and will photocopy a copy for us - while she gets the real thing framed and sticks it on the wall in the Stand so she can tell everyone how like the Mona Lisa I look.

Meanwhile, Lena burst into tears. She's the one who wants to become a model, after all. But, as I reminded her, she was in the shop window for 3-4 months!! Then Amy got upset that Lena was upset, and Lena got over being upset about the picture only to be upset that she had made Amy upset by being upset, and then Erica packed a paddy because she didn't want to leave, because she loves Baachan.... sigh!

Nothing else for it but to buy everyone ice cream on the way home. It worked.

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