Well, it seems the time for fun and games is over as a new school year begins. Maybe. It's not a new school year for me, although in some ways I miss that feeling of slinging the backpack over my shoulder, full of blank notebooks and crisp, empty folders, a perfect assortment of writing utensils, and a bus schedule. Except for the bus schedule part. Really never liked the bus.
Today I went driving off with my supervisor to a city several hours away, which was holding its annual pumpkin festival. These are the real deal pumpkins, big and orange and just right for making into creepy (or cute) jack-o-lanterns. However, we'd not been on the highway much more than an hour when we started hearing a sound like a motorcycle riding on our bumper. There wasn't much time to wonder, because in the next couple minutes, there came a noise like a shot and the car slowed down, its left rear dragging.
Thank the Lord we weren't in a tunnel, and that there was a bit of a shoulder we could ease onto to survey the damage. The tire was completely shot, a big strip of it had blown off, and there was a mesh of rubber and wires exposed near the puncture.
The sun blazed down. We considered calling JAF (Japan Automobile Federation, I think), but then she fished the manual out of a compartment and we decided to try changing the tire with the spare ourselves. Fortuitously all the right tools were in the car and the spare tire was still useable. But we spent almost an hour wrenching things here and there, trying to get obstinate levers to rotate. We'd gotten the jack in place and had just given up trying to unscrew the bolts holding the ruined tire on. My supervisor walked down the road to try to find the name of the last tunnel we passed, to let JAF know where to find us. But then I picked up another metal tool of some sort and sort of attached it to the lever already in place, and wonder of wonders, the bolt loosened.
So in the end we were able to change the tire. Then we drove into the big city and found a repair shop, where they showed us a dangerous crack beginning in the rubber of the spare tire as well. We ended up getting both the ruined tire and the spare tire replaced. All's well that ends well!
Unfortunately, we were only able to pick up about 4 pumpkins from the pumpkin festival; all the other manageably-sized, relatively whole ones were already taken. Still, this means we'll have less pumpkin to chop up and throw away when the Halloween carving festivities are over. :) Since the weather is still quite hot and humid here in Japan, you can't just keep a carved pumpkin on your doorstep or wherever-- it'll just turn into putrid mush oozing smelly orange water. I know. We had to clean up a mess like that last year, after we thought it would be a good idea to put a jack-o-lantern at the entrance of the community center. Therefore, after our Halloween party, the kids couldn't take the things home; we had to sit there for a few hours chopping up the pumpkins and wrapping them in newspaper to put out on Monday morning.
I think it's safe to say we're a bit wiser this year! We'll use mostly regular kabocha-- Japanese pumpkins-- for the event, and that way they'll be small enough for the kids to take home or for us to easily dispose of.
A large cup of tea, a kabocha, and a mikan (mandarin orange).
I would like to take this opportunity to say "Thanks" to my dad, who made us all demonstrate changing a tire before letting us drive the family vehicle. Thank you, Dad!