This is the 1996 web site (hand coded in SimpleText!). It still has lots of good pics and stories, however, so I'm keeping it on line. After exploring the 1996 site, come back to this Welcome page, then use the buttons above to return to the current year's pages.
New.jpeg It's a Girl! / GoldenWeek / Steve / Yoko / Calvin / Brian / Rokko Island / Dishes / Nengajo / Earthquake / Family Reunion / Mt. Ranier / Thomas the Tank Engine

Happy New Year from Kobe, Japan!.gif

Steve, Yoko, Brian, Calvin, and player to be named later.
(Click each person to hear them say 'hello!')

(Instead of sending out the standard Japanese nengajo this year, we decided to send a 'nengaletter.' This, belatedly, is the web version of that letter, with lots of additions. Next year, we may send nengajo only to those without web access, and 'web' postcards to those with web access, pointing them to our home page.)

Let's see now...last year was the year of the pig, so this must be the year of the mouse. Finally, a year for us computer types...Happy Mousing!

For everyone living in Kobe, the top news story of 1995 is, of course, the earthquake on January 17. Yoko suffered a deep cut on her ear when she was hit by a flying storage box, but the kids and Steve were untouched. And though almost everything we own ended up in a mess on the floor, the only significant damage was to our dishes. Everything else just needed to be picked up and put away. We'll never forget the "ride" at the top of our 36-story apartment building. Nor the view of the shattered city afterwards.

For those of us on Rokko Island, life is pretty much back to normal. Gas and water came back in mid February. P&G returned to the island in May/June, so Yoko has a 5-minute commute again. The kids are back in day care, and the stores are all open (those that survived the financial aftershock). The Rokko Liner train is running and the two highways connecting us to the mainland are partially restored, though the hours of public access are still limited.

Number two in the top 10 list of news stories is the arrival (next July) of Number Three. Child, that is. Yikes! Luckily, we still have most of the baby stuff left from the first two surprises. The earthquake destroyed the midwife's house, so we will probably have the baby at our home.

The two earlier arrivals are keeping us busy. Both Calvin and Brian go to Peter Pan (English play school) and thoroughly enjoy it. Calvin continues growing up but not out. He's a skinny, happy kid, forever on the lookout for a new bug to bring home. (He would bring home dinosaurs if he could find them on the island.) He kept a cricket alive until just a few weeks ago-well after the end of autumn, when crickets normally are long gone. His ants and turtles are still going strong, but daddy is going to assume divine powers over life and death in the insect kingdom if he finds just one more ant crawling across his keyboard while he's working.

Brian is like a bowling ball...too heavy to carry, but if you put him down, he starts rolling and doesn't stop until he's knocked at least 10 things down.

Brian is also eerily healthy. While the rest of the family suffers miserably from the latest bug, all B gets is -- maybe -- a minor runny nose, and even that has no effect on his mood (goofy) or energy level (nuclear). A virus has to hit him in the back of the neck with a small office building just to get his attention.

Recently, Calvin came down with the mumps. 'Oh, well," we thought, "Might as well keep Brian home, too -- he can catch the mumps from Calvin and we can get the whole thing over with at once.' Nope. Brian wouldn't cooperate. He spent the entire week at home playing with Calvin, eating with Calvin, and sleeping with Calvin, with nary a sniffle! We've taken to calling him "B.T." because he is apparently just visiting Earth.

B's main interest in life is trains. (They must not have trains on his home planet.) Not a single Rokko Liner train rolls by without loud and excited encouragement from B. Thomas the Tank Engine toys, videos, and books figure big in his daily activities.

After the earthquake, we needed a break. So off we went to the land of sensational coffee, fantastic "microbeer," and awe-inspiring scenery -- the Pacific Northwest. This time, Yoko's parents joined us during the second week. They got to meet the rest of the Porritt clan, pay homage at several of the local Starbuck's coffee temples, and see a small part of America. Alas, though they saw many magnificent views of Mt. Ranier from a distance, they didn't get to the mountain proper, which means that they, like Arnold, will be back.

Everyone here hopes that everyone there had a good year, and that the coming year is even better.