Saturday, October 10, 2015

Still Here

Well it's not going too badly. Obviously being away during the day at home makes a huge difference, and I kind of like how much more organized I have to be, and how I'm free from guilt/distractions in the evenings. Not much more work, since I have to cook and clean up every night anyway, and there seems to be less laundry somehow.

Had a red flag moment the last few mornings though. On Friday morning she was going on about having made K a bento (it was a tupperware container full of rice with an umeboshi in it) and what time did he get up and go to work? He got up and went at 5, I said. He's always leapt out of bed at that hour, not sure what he does as I sleep on, but I think he books things to record and feeds the cats and takes a nap. Then this morning she stomps up the stairs at 5am calling out to both of us, why isn't he up? She wants to make a bento. He got up. I decided not to, despite my curiosity as I could hear them talking, she using her whiny voice, as I didn't want to start a precendent! Everything I choose to do is so calculated, I had no idea I was so manipulative, lol!

I got up around 8 and she had a go at me then, moaning about him not having a routine time to get up and go to work. I think I know what's going on. She has the old-fashioned idea that the woman is supposed to get up before the man, make him breakfast and lunch, and she'll do it until she guilts me into taking over. But he doesn't eat breakfast and I have never made him lunch. He comes home at 9am daily when another staff member comes to watch the shop while he runs errands, and he grabs any leftovers that are there then, or he buys stuff. I sometimes bring him stuff, but his work is 2min drive from home, why would I get up a frickin 5am to give him a box of frickin rice that will be cold and hard by midday when I could just bring it to him fresh? Makes no sense to me. Besides, I also think he's an adult and can take care of himself. I do. My father did. Need I even mention my feminist conviction that we are two equal adults who married each other, not a master and servant. Sigh. Oh well, he did NOT accept the bento this morning, yay!!

Apart from that it's been a nice day, with a nice balance, a little work, moving around, somehow managed to spend time with all 3 kids one on one, even fit in a nap with the cats!

I took Amy to a high school visit this morning, then took K some curry (yes, this is very much related to the above, lol!), and took Lena home for a shower (our nice new one is better than Baachan's old tin pot). I went to work, then shopping and we ate lunch together before I took Erica to the pool with me. She's been wanting to watch me swim for ages, but we just haven't had time, so she was stoked. So I had a little fan/cheerleader, running up and down behind the observation window as I did my laps. I only did 600m, as I miscalculated the times and had to get out when I finished a lap, found the lane marker had disappeared and a bunch of kids doing their stretches. Well, it was a fast 600m - the guy in the next lane was relatively young (ie, under 50) and at one point I realized I was gaining on him and decided to see if I could get past him. He sped up when I caught up to him, and we were neck and neck for 2 lengths, then he lost it and fell back and I WON!! hahaha! I always get a better workout when there is a fast person alongside me!!

Then I drove all 3 to their dance class, and went home home for a nap. I miss my kitties. ALL of them ended up sleeping next to or near me, it was so so sweet! Then off to work for another two hours and home to cook dinner. Lots of leftovers so tomorrow's meals are set too. Baachan is going to a recital tomorrow to accept a certificate on Jiichan's behalf. I was going to go with her, but K is now, and I will stay here in case we have visitors, then go home to clean up at home, and hopefully stay there the night instead of coming back here. I think I need a night chez moi!

Monday, October 05, 2015

New Life

And then suddenly, everything changes.

It's funny because I'd been thinking about the rapid and unexpected nature of change recently, wondering when - if - it was going to happen to me. Wondering if it wouldn't, and I'd be in the same place, doing the same thing ten years from now.

Then along it comes, and never quite what you thought.

Jiichan died. He'd been unwell for some time, so that wasn't so unexpected. Baachan seems to want us to live here - that was, strangely, a surprise, even though it had been on the cards for years - years ago K had said to me he'd want to move in with one, if the other died. But I'd convinced myself that she would not want us to, as we'd be too much trouble and noise and mess and stress. That K would want to stay home where's he comfortable and not hassled by her. That we couldn't - we can't change the kids' schools, and what about the cats? I realise now I've been building my case since Jiichan got sick. But it's a possibility after all. We're in limbo at the moment, staying here, with everything at home. Trying it out. There's so much to consider. First of all we had the funeral and everything, and they are still tying up loose ends there, and organising return gifts etc. Then I guess we'll have to go through his stuff. There's no way we could move in without an extensive clear-out of stuff anyway. As I said, I've been building my case to not move in, and intend to absolutely put my foot down about keeping the other house open. It will be so we can maintain the kids' addresses for school; somewhere for the cats to live of course, and I'll use it as my office and storage for my work things (and personal things, photos and memorabilia). Baachan suggested we rent it. I thought of air bnb. Trying right now to decide if it will work better for everyone to stay here during the week and go home on weekends, or stay at home during the week and go stay with Baachan at the weekends plus Wednesday, say. And how that will affect where we put our stuff! So many considerations.

Jiichan died on October 1. That was also the start date of my new jobs - my other big change. I have seven more work hours to fit into my week, and was just working out how to balance that with work outs and cooking. I was all set to shop on the weekend and prepare meals in advance, or at least plan them, when all this happened. Now I have little idea what I am doing one day to the next. I seem to be the chief cook, no change there I suppose though it would be nice to have some help now that my hours have increased. Baachan however seems to be angling towards giving herself a break after 50 years or so and letting me take over. Hmm.

Finally, October 1 I was also expecting a period that didn't turn up until today. So to add to all that I was considering the possibility of adding a baby to the mix. Imagine that. 

All this going on you'd think I'd be gone quite mad, but I'm coping okay. Just on autopilot at the moment, trying to support Kanji and taking his lead for the time being at least. But something will have to be decided soon. Wish me luck figuring it all out!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Night after the Museum

This being the museum in question. I found the "History of the World in 100 Objects" podcasts several years ago and started listening to them. I found the poster in the station quite by chance, and thought, "I have to go!". I listened to the podcasts again, finishing No. 100 literally as I turned into the museum carpark! I wondered what would actually be there, assuming some of the more precious, irreplaceable items might not be allowed to go on tour. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the Rosetta Stone, but it was a replica (the one above is a mouse pad I bought at the museum shop!). Never mind, I saw the real one in the real British Museum in London. Other items I missed included the Ain Sakhri Lovers, the gold cape (they had a similar item of beaten gold to replace it), the Statue of Ramses (they provided a different one), the Warren Cup, and the Holy Thorn reliquary (there was a reliquary of St Eustace to replace it) and the Mechanical Galleon. There were many other items missing or replaced, but those were ones I had been looking forward to seeing. On the other hand, there were wonderful extras, like the marble statue of Mithras, which fascinated me. Things I was thrilled to see there included the Standard of Ur and the Lewis Chessmen. The Ife Head was much more interesting in real life. I could go on!!! But I'll leave it for now...

I met Helen at Hakata station afterwards, and we found the hotel. We stayed at the Washington Hotel in Canal City. We started with some champagne in the room, the NZ Invivo sparkling Sauvignon Blanc I bought for my birthday. 

The we hit the town - a total of seven bars, which I think is a record for me! Especially as our only actual goal was the rooftop wine bar in Nakasu. First, Helen was hungry so we popped into a pub in Canal City and got a margarita each. She had a smoked cheese pizza and I had fish and chips, with the tiniest 'fish' I've ever eaten! And chips that were basically potatoes. I wish they wouldn't mess with the tried and tested formula... there's a reason it works... I bet they think they are improving on it, too, sigh...

We decided to walk, despite the rain, both of us being fairly waterproof. It was further than we thought, but it was okay. The rooftop bar turned out to be full, though we were offered a booking at 10. It was 8:30 then, so we took it, and I suggested slumming it by hitting the street stalls down the road, just for a contrasting experience! The street stalls on Nakasu Island, the party island in the middle of Fukuoka are famous.

Us on fire. I like this photo!

Above, the stall, on one the end and one of the only ones with no queue. It was so-so and the master was damned grumpy! He did warn us that we would not like the chicken, as it was raw. That's it there on the right in front of the girl, they had ordered it as well, and not eaten it! Then Helen just suggested he cook it a bit longer. It turned out quite tough. Meanwhile, we had a few beers so all was good! We heard them insist to some Chinese who sat down that they had to order food, not just alcohol, and wondered if that was a selective rule. They hadn't said that to us.

Finally, we hit our goal, the bar ES, with fine rooftop night views, and splashed out for the Moet - 8,900 but we justified by a) spoiling ourselves and b) it was the cheapest champagne on the menu!

I stopped taking photos after that. I suppose it's a good thing really that I leave my phone alone after I've had a few! That's got to be the better choice on balance, right? Next we tried to find an Irish and/or foreigners bar. I was trying to find the one I'd gone to with Candace, which was a good Irish bar, quite friendly. The one we found was a pastiche, a modern Japanese place shaped like a pub, even with sports playing on the TV, but missing the soul. Helen meanwhile had had a spectacular fall over the road from the pub, not long after we'd got out of the taxi. She spotted the pub, got excited, and slipped down a step in the rain. I have not included the photo of her knee... we dosed her with brandy (half on the knee as antiseptic) and fed her up with onion rings and chips (real ones at least this time). BUT it was not the right pub, so I tried again.

Another short taxi ride through the small streets of Tenjin and we found a very very small 'Irish' pub run by a grizzly old American. There were a few foreigners there for Helen to talk to (she said she felt like talking to people). They left soon after, and then she fell asleep! I sat talking to the bar owner while she dozed, and at this point thought he was an interesting fellow.

Then some more customers bowled in, a lovely lady from the Philippines called Grace, married to a Japanese man like us, so we were happy to natter away with her. Helen woke up when they arrived. Then at one point Helen and I decided to change the music. The bar owner was really slack about changing it and if we asked for someone, he'd put on whole concerts. We went behind the bar to get to the computer keyboard (it was YouTube) and apparently knocked the beer tap open. Anyway, he came back awfully angry, too angry, seeing as the beer thing was a total accident, and we would have graciously paid  for it. But he grabbed me by the arm to pull me out 'no one goes behind my bar' kind of thing, and has left me with a huge bruise! I bruise easily, but still

It hurt, and I was moaning about that, so we all hightailed it out of there fairly soon, and Grace must have felt sorry for us, because she took us to another great bar, on the second floor with windows overlooking the street. She had two other friends with her, so we made a great bunch of noisy ladies, and ordered more Moet! There were a couple of young Philippine guys there, and next thing, they were taking Helen and I to a dance club! Wohoo! dancing still exists in Fukuoka. Helen had some G&Ts but I think all I did was dance, which is why I was slightly less ill than her the next day!

We also lost each other, but both got back to the hotel. I had the devil of a time finding the elevator to the hotel! I had to do two circuits of Canal City to find it! Then I could not wake Helen and had to get the staff to open the door for me. THEN the lights were out, as she had not put the card key in the slot, so I had to go to the toilet in the dark, and could not find the bloody door handle! I was just tapping all over the door to find it when the hotel staff knocked on the door. We overslept and missed check-out, resulting in the staff angrily knocking on our door at 11am.

We were both so shot that after checking out we both slept in the car. Parking was so expensive! We paid extra for going overtime! After upgrading and paying for that too! I think next time I go to Fuk, I'll get the first train home in the morning instead of bothering with a hotel.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Beach Fail, Beach Joy

I don't think I've ever had such a failure of a beach trip as I had today!

1. I forgot my rashie, AND waterproof sunblock. This meant I had to severely curtail my swim time to avoid my lily white skin being burned to a crisp.

2. The tide was out, WAY out, further than I'd seen it before at that beach, meaning we had to choose between swimming in kelp, or through sea grass.

3. My body board's cover was partly torn off in the pool at the weekend, and I had to tear the rest of it all, revealing the polystyrene board. Never mind, the one I had as a kid was just polystyrene! I did lose a few bits of it though, when I tried to sit on it and it popped out behind me!

4. The tent bag's zipper was rusted, and I could not open it. I had to tear the bag open with my teeth, actually I did quite a good job of it, a clean tear, and even managed to fold the tent back into it when we finished.

5. Amy and Lena finally found a way around the kelp/sea grass problem, by walking down the breakwater and entering the 'deep end' down the concrete steps. The only problem is that the lower steps, exposed by the low tide, were covered in sea weed and shellfish. It was icky getting in, and almost impossible to get out - I skidded off it on my way out and got a cut on my leg.

It tells you something about my love for the beach that I had a wonderful day anyway! I normally swim the whole time, and snorkel, so today was different, with more time spent in the tent on the beach, just watching and enjoying the sky, the sea and the sand. I didn't even WANT to check my phone, except to play some songs. Everclear's Santa Monica then some Bob. Tapping my toes, I leaned out of the tent to feel the sun full on my face. A little slice of paradise.

Highlight of the day had to be watching Erica flop through the shallow water in enormous flippers, laboriously squelching each foot out of the sand and water and smacking it back down again. Out by the net trying to sit on our boards and falling off them. The sunflowers and the gorgeous mountains. Checking out the rocky beach outside the breakwater. The perfect sunset, beautiful full moon, and shooting star we saw on the way home. Brilliant day. So glad I didn't sweat the small stuff, and persisted, despite wanting to quit at one point. A lesson in patience, persistence and focussing on the joy.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Unfinished sentences

I found this list of 'Unfinished Sentences' that I had filled out way back when I just arrived in Japan. I decided to fill them in again, without reading what I'd written the first time. So here they are, with the past answer followed by the present answer:

The funniest thing I ever saw was...

... minitruck cam at the Austins, Xmas '94

... Funniness depends less on the thing and more on the company. Thus, three: 1. with Mum watching Bloopers or Funniest Home Videos, especially with people falling over. 2. Watching dumb cat videos with my kids (or people falling over). 3. That comedy show on NZ TV in about 1992, watching with my flatmates, everybody stoned (except me. Serious, I never liked getting stoned!).

If I had 24 hours to live...

... write heaps, see if I could get home. Smell the roses.

... Id gather my kids around and give them instructions about my diaries and photos, and computer passwords. Then after they slept, open Skype and throw open my home to all and sundry. When they wake again, hug them again. See out the day with a glass of wine and the setting sun.

On Saturdays I usually ...

... work! On Sundays I read, relax, do housework & organise my week

... Go into full-on soccer-mom mode!

I feel best when people...

... around me are relaxed & happy & friendly & busy

... are honest & open, relaxed and gracious

I'd like to spend a long holiday in...

... Italy, touring ancient sites & visiting Art Galleries

... in the Mediterranean

I wish politicians would...

... quit

... not become cynical and lose their passion

I have never...

... killed anything. Or even wanted to (except maybe Colin sometimes)

... decided what to do when I grow up

Parents should always...

... love, smile, set free, hug

... love

My children will...

... do whatever they want, probably

... be what they want to be

This world would be a better place if...

... compassion swallowed greed

... we trained all boys to be gentle

The thing that worries me most is...

... succeeding in attaining my desires

... getting cancer

I never worry about...

... nothing! Everything is worth at least a niggling doubt

... my hair

Some day I am going to...

... get married & have a baby & fall in love (in no particular order)

... see the world

I like people who...

... are gentle & funny & thoughtful & romantic & creative

... can equally talk ideas and philosophy, and have a laugh

I get very angry if...

... Colin questions me. Especially if he finds something 'inconsistent'

... I feel I'm losing control of my lifestyle

I find it difficult to...

... make friends

... stop reading interesting articles and start cleaning

I'd like to be more... and less...

... spontaneous and talkative... introverted & self-absorbed

... organised and energetic.... lazy and procrastinating

I am not interested in...

... money & fame (much) sport (much)

... TV

Studying is...

... interesting & rewarding

... a refreshing and welcome change

If I could be somewhere else right now...

... I'd be at home in the lounge laughing

... I'd be on a yacht

Saturday, December 20, 2014

2012 Round-up

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

9. What was your biggest failure?

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

11. What was the best thing you bought?

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
14. Where did most of your money go?
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
16. What song will always remind you of 2010?
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder?

ii. thinner or fatter?

iii. richer or poorer?

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

22. Did you fall in love in 2012?

23. How many one-night stands?

24. What was your favorite TV program?

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

26. What was the best book you read?

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
28. What did you want and get?
29. What did you want and not get?
30. What were your favorite films of this year?
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

34. What kept you sane?
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
36. What political issue stirred you the most?

37. Who did you miss?

38. Who was the best new person you met?

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

Another Friday Night

It's 10:16 so I'm perfectly justified in sending the kids to bed, even though it's a Friday night. The only reason I haven't done so yet is 1) can't be bothered and 2) they are actually being really cute making videos on my old iphone of cats being cute with themselves singing background. OH and Amy is endeavouring to sew together a torn-up ¥100 shop Mrs Claus outfit for Lena, because the 'Christmas cosplay' outfit I ordered from Amazon for her event on Sunday is arriving - on Sunday morning. There's a chance we'll miss it, so we're slapping together a possible alternative. I'm personally angling for Lena being allowed to wear her normal outift, plus a cape and hat, but Lena doesn't like that idea of course, she doesn't want to be the only one not in a Christmas costume.

It's a normal Friday night. The kids are watching a movie, I'm doing laundry and having a wine. I don't get to do either on weeknights, due to work commitments or driving the kids to this or that class. Normal except K isn't here, he's out at yet another bonenkai. If he's here we often all sit down together with beer and sashimi and yummy things and watch something. I like it if it's Music Station or recordings of the morning NHK drama, or Unbelievable, but not if it's one of the crappy variety shows. Erica loves AmeToku!

.... and a bit later on, K's home, watching variety shows and drinking a beer, and I'm drinking beer and watching YouTube videos and writing this and stuff on facebook, and we're both thoroughly enjoying having Sugar and Spice back for some all-out manic kitten fun!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Furisode

I was digging around in the old photos (for a pic for the memorabilia blog) when I came across these. Here I am, wearing the furisode, properly and appropriately, after I bought it.

In my first year in Japan, I taught a private lesson to three older ladies, a doctor's wife, the wife of a stationery store owner, and a tea ceremony teacher whose husband was a Zen priest (I also took calligraphy lessons with this couple, in the tea house in the garden of their temple). She would often turn up to the lesson wearing a kimono, as she had just come from a lesson or ceremony. She wore them several times a week, and obviously felt very comfortable in them. I of course frequently admired them, as I do love kimonos. So when she saw a sale of former hire kimonos in her local department store, she thought of me, and took me there to buy one. This was ¥10,000 I think.

Here I am her her temple garden. I twice took part in tea ceremonies with her (once getting on TV), wearing the kimono. She dressed me, which is why it looks so crisp and lovely here! She was such a pro - she could tie it on tight enough that you never felt it was coming loose, but never so tight that you felt like you couldn't breathe. She also gave me a number of accessories for it, including all the ties you need (there are a lot of ties under this holding everything together!) clips, undergarments and socks. That is  not the obi I wore last month, but I think I know where it is. I'm not sure what happened to the obiage, but I still have the obijime. I seem to have misplaced the undergarments too! Actually I think I just borrowed the white under kimono here.

And here I am at Again with Yori and Katchan. This time, Maichan and I struggled to get the thing on, so it's a bit wonkier. We're just wearing them for the chance to wear them really. 

One more occasion I wore it was for Hina Matsuri one year before I got married. While this is not part of the official parade, it was nice of them to arrange a ride in one of the rickshaws for me. That's Ranto's dad (Mayumi's husband) Jiro there, pulling it! This was long before they got together. Mayumi was with me that day, and took a ride too, but isn't in the photo for some reason. The sign says 'Hina Matsuri (dolls' festival)' so I was a kind of advertisement for the festival! I had a red obi on this time, it's clear in another picture, but I can't remember who dressed me and did my hair (I have little gold accessories in my hair). 

Only young single women wear furisodes (the type with very long sleeves) so after I got married, I never had the chance to wear it again until last month. While Baachan helped me buy a yukata specially made for me (pictured below)

I never bought another kimono either - the more I learned about kimonos (largely from reading Liza Dalby) the more I felt they didn't suit me. I'm too tall and my arms are too long and shoulders too wide. I don't mind those parts of me, but they don't go well with kimono. And getting them made doesn't help, because they come in set widths, with one width used for sleeves, so the sleeves are always going to be too short. Oh well, I had my fun with them, massively punctuated with a huge exclamation mark last month!