As I promised to Haru last month, we went to the summer house out in Chiba once again. Originally, we planned to take a trip up to a Mother Farm (yes I spelled this correctly -no ‘s at the end of Mother), a nearby ranch that is opened to the public to see the fireworks show and spend a night at the house, but then I learned that my cousin was was staying there with his family. Haru always looks forward to spending time with her second cousins, especially Karin. They always get along well, so I thought this would be a good opportunity for the girls to spend some time together. My cousin planned to take Karin to a public swimming pool on Saturday morning, so instead of going out their after Haru’s gymnastics lesson on Saturdays as originally planned, we decided to skip the lesson all together and leave for the summer house on Friday night instead, so that we could take Haru to the pool as well. Admittedly, I was a bit apprehensive about going to an outdoor swimming pool in the middle of summer in Japan, as they are known to get insanely crowded. And, when I say insanely crowded, I do emphasize the word insane, because you would have to be insane to go to some of these pools during the summer. Tokyo Summer Land is a good example of how crowded these places can get. There are so many people sardined into the pool, you would literally wonder where the water is. I can only imagine how much of that water is really water, and how much of it is urine. Makes me sick to even think about. However, my cousin assured me the that the pool that we were going to doesn’t come close to being that crowded. I left work about an hour early, so that we could get a good early start out, because it takes about an hour or so to get there. I wanted to get there before Karin’s bedtime and perhaps have some time to do some fireworks as well. I texted my wife to be packed and ready to go before I get home. An hour later, she texted me back that Haru had a slight fever and had developing cough, but she was still excited about going, so I assumed that our trip was still a go. At 5pm, I rushed to the station to board an already crowed subway. Since it was the weekend before Obon (お盆） or the festival of the dead, I guess everyone in Japan was leaving work a bit early. And instead of my usual 40 minute walk home from of the station, I took the bus home to expedite the trip home. After making it home in near record time, I noticed that nothing had been done. Haru was sitting in the middle of the living room watching TV as if we had nothing was going on. As I walked into the door , she turned around and muttered you’re home early, to which I responded “why aren’t you packed and ready to go? Apparently she had just got out of the bath. Nothing was packed, no one was ready, and I was quickly getting irritated by the lack of effort being put in by both Haru and my wife, especially after the massive effort I put in to get home an hour early. My wife defended her inaction and responded I told you that Haru has a fever and a cough, so I didn’t we were still going. Rather than getting to a big tiff about not making it clear as to whether or not we were going, I told them that we were going. Despite a small cough, Haru looked to be healthy enough to go, and her fever had gone down. And more importantly, she was insisting on going, especially knowing that Karin will be there too. After 30 minutes of cramming everything we need into duffel bags and backpacks, we were ready to go. We loaded everything into the car and including the dogs, who looked confused but excited about the road trip. The roads were relatively empty, so we were able to get through traffic pretty quickly. Haru fell asleep part way there, but woke up shortly before we arrived. We grabbed a few things at the nearby grocery store, and headed up the house. By the time we arrived, night had already fallen and it was already dark outside. After I parked the car in front of the house, Haru and the dogs jumped out and immediately headed in, where Karin greeted her. We then unloaded the car and settled in. After we were all settled, we decided to whip out the fireworks. Both Haru and Karin had their own fireworks set. The fireworks were all hand held sparklers so there was very little risk of injury, however my cousin had pulled out his hidden batch of bottle rockets that he had hidden in the house several years ago. Bottle rockets are kind of rare because they tend to cause injuries and sometimes fires if they land in the wrong place. Since we were in a mountainous area, it would be disastrous should one of these rocket caught fire. Luckily, other than a loud whizzing and popping sounds which probably put the neighbors on alert, nothing disastrous happened. The rest of the evening went on uneventfully. Haru’s cough had seem to subside a bit. The girls played with the iPad while watching Harry Potter on TV. After awhile, it was tine to turn in for the evening. Haru and Karin decided camp out together in one of the four rooms (minus parents), which means another good night’s sleep without being kicked for me.
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The next morning, I was rudely awakened at 6 o’clock in the morning by two giggling girls peaking into my bedroom and watching me sleep. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep, I woke myself up despite it being a Saturday. Both girls were so excited about going to the pool that they were already in their bathing suits. Since we obviously had plenty of time before we actually left for the pool, the girls sat on the sofa and watched videos and played games on the iPad again. A few minutes later, Karin developed a bloody nose, which is apparently pretty rare for her. It started out as small drizzle but quickly developed into a gush of blood. Using my years of bloody nose stopping experience, I managed to get it under control with some ice compresses. We left for the pool at about 9AM, which was about a 30 minute drive from the house. It was only 9AM and the temperatures were already in the mid-30’s (about 90 degrees Fahrenheit). It was suppose to be the hottest days of the summer, so I was not looking forward to how high the temperatures were predicted to be by noon. Having only slept a few hours, Haru was a bit sleepy so she fell asleep on the way. When we arrived, there were already a quite a few cars in the parking lot. Images of the Tokyo Summer Land’s overflowing pool full bodies immediately came to my mind. I could only hope that its not that crowded. I could feel the searing and almost suffocating heat rising from the pavement below me. If I weren’t wearing shoes, the hot pavement would probably burn the skin right off the soles of my feet. After we changed in the locker rooms, we all headed out to the pools. There were about six or seven different pools. There was a lap pool for doing laps, there were two water slide pools, there were two small children’s pools and a huge wave pool. There were a lot of people but not quite at the Tokyo Summer Land level. We got there early enough to where we could get a decent rest spot in the shade. Haru and Karin wanted to jump into the pool right away, so we all got in. Karin is already a pretty good swimmer. She was able to do freestyle for a pretty decent distance. Haru had just finished a week taking swimming classes, so of course she wasn’t as good as Karin, but there was a pretty big improvement from last December when she had her first swimming lessons. She is able to stay under water longer and open her eyes, which is a lot more than she could last year. I even threw my locker key into the pool, and told her to get them for me, and she was able to swim to the bottom of the pool the keys. Every hour, the lifeguards would call out to the swimmers to take their floatation devices out of the pool so that they could start the wave machine. The wave machine made some pretty sizable waves that could swallow up even adults, so I made sure that Haru stayed pretty close to me. We stayed in the shallow end because I wasn’t sure how Haru would react to having a giant mountain of water trying to push her under. I know that when I was her age I would have HATED something like this. I often has nightmares of people holding me under water or drowning. Being a new swimmer, I didn’t want Haru to be traumatized by a bad experience in a swimming pool. When the wave machine started it was an instant hit. She loved the wave machine. However, there were I couple of times when the waves crashed on top of her and she was dunked under water. I could see her facial expression change into somewhat of a panic when that happened so I immediately pulled her out of the water so that she doesn’t panic. Overall, both Haru and Karin seemed to enjoy the whole wave machine experience.
After spending about four hours at the pool, it was becoming apparent that the gross lack of sleep was overwhelming both girls. Haru was becoming somewhat groggy and sleepy, and Karin was becoming a bit cranky. Haru’s asthma seemed be acting up as well. At first, we thought it may have been due to her cold, but she only coughed when she was out of the pool. When she was in the pool, she was fine. This kind of reminded me of when I was a kid growing up with really bad allergies. When I was in the swimming pool, I was fine, but out of the pool, my allergies would act up pretty badly. This was partially why I joined the swim team during high school; to escape my allergies.
After a few minutes rest, we packed up said our goodbyes to Karin and my cousin and headed back to the house. Haru fell asleep almost immediately during the 30 minute trip back.
After we got back, we had a light lunch and a nap. It was hard to tell while we were at the pool, but four hours out in the hot near 40 degrees Celsius sun, had made Haru super dark. She kind of looked like a little south east Asian girl. After sleeping on the sofa for about 2 hours, Haru was woke in a sudden panic. Her nose was bleeding. She was sitting in the exact spot where Karin was when her nose started bleeding. I started to grow suspicious that the curse was back. In the past, I also experienced allergy attacks, severe rashes and burns, or really bad bug bites from sleeping on the sofa. My cousin told me that the sofa and some of the beds in the house may be infested with bed bugs or ticks,which may be the cause of my previous bad experiences. After a few minutes of ice compresses and putting pressure on the nose, the bleeding stopped and she was back to normal.
Later that night, we went out for dinner at our usual restaurant. We originally planned to go to Mother Farm to watch the fireworks afterwards, but we didn’t want Haru’s cold to worsen, so we chose to return back to the house instead. Haru lounged back on her usual spot on the reclining sofa -the same sofa where Karin sat when her nose starting bleeding, and the same spot where Haru’s nose started bleeding earlier that day. It was kind of strange how both girls’ noses started bleeding when the sat in the same exact spot, but we figured that it may have been just a coincidence. That is until Haru’s nose started bleeding again. It was no longer a mere coincidence. It was the curse that had come back to haunt us. In the past, it was always me. I would be the one to be bitten by small invisible bugs, or break out in a strange rash from sleeping on a moist bed, or have sneezing attacks from laying on the sofa. This time it was Haru who was under attack. Her asthma had acted up earlier, and now it was bloody nose -no doubt an allergy attack.
I always knew that there was something going on in that house. Its in the mountains and it gets quite hot and humid during the summer, so its a haven for all kinds of small allergenic plants, pests, and maybe even fungi. I personally don’t care for going to the house anymore particularly for this very reason, but Haru -despite her bloody noses -really likes it there. I am not too sure when we will be going there next, but personally, I would rather spend the weekend at nice cozy onsen, that is free from strange plants, fungi, and invisible pests that causes allergies, and that’s where we will be going next. Watch this space.