Thursday, July 28, 2011

Valiant Effort to Drain the Keg

Which is not something I've attempted with any seriousness since university.

So following on from the last post, DH staggered home from the long lunch, which had been at his favorite izakaya bar, to tell me that Mr. Date had loads of beer and can we go drink it.

I said yes. Well, who wouldn't? I get to skip cooking AND someone's going to give me loads of beer? Sign me up!!! He had left Amy and Lena at their place playing with their daughters, who are the same age as ours, and only brought back Erica. I had one more class to do, then rushed back and we got ready, picked up some fried chicken for the party and off we went, slipping through the back streets in a thunderstorm with umbrellas...

They live in an old house behind a shop in an arcade. The shop used to be a cafe, then a bar, but they use it partly for storage, partly for working with flowers (he's a florist) so the space is a mish-mash of tables, a bar, band equipment and practice space, a white board, a sofa, and other odds and ends. We ate there while the kids rampaged through the house unseen and unheard. There were just us two couples, plus her sister for an hour or so.

The beer turned out to be a keg leftover from an event that they were trying to get rid of, but the wife doesn't drink it, so they asked us over, lol! I can't remember how many I put away in the end, quite a few, and I didn't switch to shotchu later on like the guys did.

We just sat there and talked and talked and talked. About life and our kids, and Norway and Amy Winehouse, and religion and where you want to get buried, and bullying at school and kids' boyfriends and music and god knows what else! Great night!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

One a Day?

Perhaps if I diligently blog once a day, I'll catch up with the backlog over the summer vacation! Well I can only try.

I'm home alone with Erica, who is hunting candy in the kitchen, I believe. Amy and Lena took off with their Dad to go out for lunch three and a half hours ago. They had better come back soon, or my students tonight will be obliged to pretend they think Erica is adorable and not a pest.

It's been one of those red-tape bureaucracy catch-up days when you seriously consider becoming a hunter/gatherer just to escape the paperwork. I really do appreciate a) getting paid b) shiny hospitals that fix you up and c) fast, air conditioned road travel but boy do I hate the messing around with money and signatures and proving my existence and worthiness that you need to do to avail yourself of it all!

All this and keeping track of everyone's movements is a mammoth task in the summer holidays. This is what my diary looks like, color-coded to track all family members' movements:

Red for work, blue for Erica's kindies, black for Amy and Lena's summer lessons, purple for extras and pencil is well, just penciled in!

Note the nasty red slashes on today's entry... that would be the college I teach at. I was under the impression that my lessons today were in the afternoon, not the morning, due to the class name being written in the afternoon slot on the schedule. Until they called to tell me, no, they were in the morning. Luckily the two ladies I had schedule for a lesson this morning were very busy today and only too happy to cancel.

And note the big fat nothing on Saturday. It will be just me and Erica, as Amy and Lena are going to Maia's for the weekend. I think I'll take her to the pool, then out for ice cream, and to a park or something. With her surgery coming up, she needs a few special outings to make up for the two full weeks she'll be stuck on the sofa recovering.

In other news, I met Colin at Gion on Sunday night, and stopped for a chat, and met his family. Cute kids. Update on Mal, who I haven't seen or heard from in a decade. And he told me that BOX of my stuff turned up at his place in Melbourne after all this time. Well. Interesting to know it still exists! C. even suggested he would pay to send it to me, (though I told to send it C.O.D.) as he felt guilty having not got around to sending it for, oh, ten years! Still, not expecting to see it anytime soon, I guess he has to get back to Melbs to send it.

Wondering if the box will join the 'found' list or stay in the 'lost' list?

Monday, July 18, 2011

No Typhoon's gonna ruin THIS party!

Typhoon No. 6 was threatening to blow the party away, but we all decided to persist, and go ahead - having lived through dozens on non-event 'super' typhoons, you get used to them blowing over!

So off to Nao's party we went! I love this photo because for once, none of my kids are posing:

The Birthday Girl and her fabulous fairy princess castle cake:

Clockwise from top left: Amy playing with one of the baby guests; Lena and Kaya posing for Amy; Erica in her favorite hiding place behind the sofa with Hiro and Tommy; Ken helping himself to cake; Erica in the pool; Nao, Hiro, Lena and Erica in the pool; the kids all eating cake; cute pic of Sasha and Nao, and in the centre a gorgeous photo of Sasha and Nao taken by Amy.

And finally, the inevtiable effect of a dozen or so children inside...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

An Average Weekend

We didn't go anywhere, or do anything particularly special, just pottered around at home, and I did some work on the AFWJ Journal...

Amy was really happy with it though, and told me she was having a lovely weekend, that we used to 'do nothing' on the weekends, just watch TV. I thought we HAD 'done nothing' this weekend (and that we used to do things on the weekend) but I suppose we managed to squeeze in some stuff. Lena is mostly over her hand, foot and mouth and Erica broke out in the blisters, but she has no fever and insisted it was not at all painful.

We got the pool sorted out. It started Saturday, which I think was the stuffiest, worst, hottest day we've had yet this year, and yet we still managed to not turn on the air conditioner. Lena nearly lost it at one point, nearly panicking with how hot she felt, and not being able to escape it anywhere. So I sat her down with a glass of iced water and a wet towel in front of the fan, and showed her how to wipe off her her face and body and let the air cool her. She settled down.

Not long after that, I decided it was time to escape, and do some shopping, just to get into the air conditioned interiors, and the air conditioned car. Every year, I get so annoyed at how dirty the pool gets, and the time it takes me to clean it up after a swim. So we went to Gooday, the hardware store, to scope out decking to raise if off the ground. We eyed some up, but decided to come home to measure the pool first. We stopped at the grocery store too, which was blissfully cool!

Back at home, I ferreted around in the shed to find the pool, and got it inside to measure it, also clearing space in the shed for the chairs and barbecues we needed to tidy away. Dinner was chicken baked with a tomato and vegetable sauce and cheese topping. A thunder storm broke in the late afternoon, which I was so thankful for, as it sucked the humidity out of the air and made it a bit more tolerable. It was super loud - we found out later that a lightning strike had taken out the car wash at the Stand! We had an early night, and I read a chapter of Harry Potter to the kids.

Sunday was the big day - pool day. I was supposed to get up at 6am to do the yard, but no chance - especially after Erica got up at 4:20 to go to the toilet - by herself! She must have been sleep-walking. Luckily Kanji heard her. Then for no reason at all, the other girls got up too, so the whole family accompanied her to the toilet.

So, I didn't get to the garden until after 10am, which is practically suicide (especially after hearing 7000 people were hospitalized for heatstroke over the weekend!). I wore long pants, a long-sleeve muslin top, and a Japanese granny garden hat - half a hat, with a scarf replacing the back half, so you can do it up under your chin, and gloves. This is to protect myself from bugs, sunburn, and just gross garden stuff (like cat poo). But with us all working together, we got it done in half an hour or so, and have set aside a pile of things to wash later, and cleared an area by the back door for the pool.

Next step - showers for everyone! Then I took them out to lunch as a reward for a very hard morning's work (not kidding - there was so much sweat coming off my face that my glasses were like I was underwater). We went to the Turkish restaurant and had kebabs and Turkish ice cream, and got given some divine cherry and apricot juice on the house.

Then we stopped by the Stand to pick up Kanji's van to transport the decking home, and went to Gooday to get them. A little bit more garden work, in yet another set of clothes - another long-sleeve top, but shorts this time. We set the deck boards onto concrete blocks to protect the bottom of the pool from the flood that happens when it's emptied - the soil is not very porous, and the yard drains to a spot in front of the study window - right where I used to like to put the pool. Set up the pool, turned on the hose, and the kids were in their togs and in the pool in no time. I nearly got in myself too, went as far as getting togs out, but then decided a nice cup of tea and some more Journal work was a better use of my time!

Kanji came home, and took us all out for dinner to sushi! We went to the new place in town, and it was packed - we took a ticket, No. 153, but the next number called was 132. It was written that the wait was 30-40 minutes, but in the end it was only about 20. I had my phone to keep me amused, then a friend turned up who I talked to. Amy read a book, Kanji just patiently waited; Lena went from me, to Kanji to me to Kanji, and Erica made a circuit of the room, amusing random baachans. Was it worth the wait? Yes, I suppose so, there was an interesting variety of sushi, and we collected around 30 plates in the end, plus extra orders of chawan mushi, udon, fried chicken, fried octopus, desserts, and beer and sake for Kanji.

I finally got the beer I had needed all day after we got home. I finished up a few more jobs on the Journal, and here I am, fulfilling my promise to myself to catch up and stay caught up with the blog!

Amy has started to read the blog, and the old posts too. Hello Amy! Nice that your English reading is getting good enough for you to comfortably read this now, you know it's as much for you guys to remember your childhoods as it is for me!

Friday, July 08, 2011


Late last month, we did some modeling. A friend referred us, his wife had done some shots for the guy and recommended us to him. I honestly truly thought he was going to take some photos of Erica. I even prepared Amy and Lena for that probability, telling them it was not about them. I just figured that Japanese photographer + 3-yr old model = 7,5,3 shots, and that there would be an assistant, and that Erica would be dressed in a kimono.

Well, I couldn't have been more wrong! His aim was to create atmospheric, deeply shadowed shots, reminiscent of Caravaggio. We all showered before we went, luckily, and by another stroke of luck coming out of a small moment of doubt, I put them in nice clothes before we went, VERY luckily as there were no kimonos, no assistants... just him and us and a camera. Alas, I had not put on make-up though, and while I usually don't wear make-up on a day to day basis, I did feel very wrong and naked without it with a camera shoved in my face.

He took photos of me and Erica, copying an art print he showed me, of a painting of a Mother and Child or Madonna and Child in what looked at a glance like a Dutch 17th interior with deep chairoscuro... then photos of me and Amy, with Amy leaning on my shoulder, me looking very atmospherically into the middle distance... then photos of all of us... and finally ones of Lena by herself.

Lena was SO upset that he didn't take any of her with her Mummy. But I think it kind of made up for it that HER picture was the only one that ended up in the shop window!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Dinner out with my DH

Sometimes the fates conspire to allow a parental date! We had been kind of planning this one since the kids decided they were going to go stay with their friend Maia this weekend. When Maia's Mum said they couldn't stay, we gently directed them toward their grandparents' house... we did have a Plan B - to take them all out for dinner together as a family, but in the end they all decided to stay. Erica had a moment of wanting to go home with Mummy, but all it took was me promising to come back, then coming back with her pyjamas, for her to decide either that I could be trusted to come back if necessary, or that it was way more fun at Jiichan and Baachan's house anyway.

Thus, we ended up at this fabulous new restaurant in Nakatsu!

Cheers! Not the best chapmagne, too sweet, but we were too ketchi to get the pricier one...

The antipasta tray: clockwise from 6pm: quiche Lorraine - Kanji loved it. Which means either that it was divine, or that my usual quiche is shite. A bit of both, I think! Smoked bacon - delicious! chicken liver pate on bread, then some other duck mix thing, and a cold ratatouille. I won that fight: we both agreed that my ratatouille is better!

The TO DIE FOR cheese platter - only 1000yen! Blue, camembert, cream cheese and a very smoky sharp cheddar.

Roast Beef. Unbelievably soft! Served with mashed potato, which my hubby kindly gave all of to me, and veges with a drizzle of gravy.

The chicken - rolled breast with butter and mint inside, and a tomato sauce.