Friday, April 29, 2011

Blue Sheets

My friend Lorraine reminds me that I haven't said much about the earthquake and radiation situation here in Japan recently. That's good right?! Yes... I suppose we are not so much on the edge anymore but that is not to say that things have improved, just that we are getting tired of worrying about the situation.

Radiation levels vary as the days go by and as the wind changes. In my area spinach and greens are slowly being returned to the local vegetable shops. I still have friends who try not to go outside much and a few of us had a conversation about the wisdom of airing our futon outside nowadays.

This is a daily custom... to hang the big heavy cotton futon/mattresses and other bedding out over the veranda rails or over poles in the yard. The airing of futon in the sun makes the heavy cotton fluffy again, kills mites and varmints that might be living in the cotton and makes the bedding smell fresh. Good Japanese housewives will air their futon in the sun daily. (You can also use a futon blower that is supposed to do the same as above except for the fresh sunny smell.)

BUT, because of the radiation scares some people are hesitant about leaving the bedding outside for most of the day. "To do or not to do... that is the question." Are we more concerned about radiation or about mites? You can see that I choose not to be concerned about radiation. My futon are out there this morning! (If truth be told, I'm not concerned about mites much either... My futon do NOT get aired daily. Bad Japanese wife!)

Other recent conversations with my friends have been about what insurance will or will not pay. For the first month we were all too shell shocked to think about repairing things. So many people just completely lost their homes or their loved ones that it seemed petty to think about repairing a roof or a wall or something. But repairs have to be made and it is going to take a lot of time and money.

Tetsu and I only had to have an antenna re-attached. We do not have earthquake insurance anyway and our minor repair is hardly worth speaking of. But even in my area, along my daily walks with Choco, I can see evidence of earthquake damage. There is a shortage of Blue Sheets in Japan right now!!!

Blue sheets are heavy polyethylene sheets made for industrial or agricultural use. They are wrapped over farm machinery, tied over outdoor sheds, even used as a picnic "blanket" when going cherry blossom viewing. Blue sheets are sturdy, won't tear and are waterproof. Within days of the earthquake, blue sheets began popping up all over the countryside. The homes with tiled roofs were hit the hardest because the earthquake jarred loose tiles on top which fell onto the lower tiles and like a domino effect, the whole roof's tiles came tumbling down or broke apart. The more expensive homes and farmhouses all have tile roofs (not I!) and with the crumbling of roofs came the need to protect the houses from rain. Thus the blue sheets.

Unfortunately, the number of houses needing to have their roofs repaired is innumerable and the tile makers and tile layers are just beginning to get to the houses. And putting in a new roof or even repairing one is extremely costly so the insurance companies get into the picture. Will insurance cover or not? How much? And WHEN will these repairs take place? Not for months and months and months... and we are headed into the rainy season.

Japan's scenery has changed with rooftops of blue reflected in the flooded fields.

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