Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Show Tunes

Amy and Lena have really gotten into show tunes lately. Kids love musicals! We caught the tail end of Singing in the Rain last week. I remember watching that movie as a kid, on a Saturday afternoon on TV, the only other choice in NZ being cricket or rugby....

The one song that stuck with them though, wasn't the title hit, but another one called 'Good Morning':

They like Dirty Dancing too, but again, not the classics - they like this one:

I suppose this one is a bit of cliche..

Another one they sing a lot is this one:

I'll add more as I hear them singing them! I hope this post will be a nice little memory for them in years to come.

Here's one!


Bikes, Bands and Bitches vs. Beauty, Babies and Business

Mid-life crisis sucks.

Here I am, half-way to dead and still nothing much to show for it. I think the only consolation is knowing that you're not the only one, that this particular existential crisis, like the rough teen years, seems to affect all but the most smug and the most ignorant. If you're gearing up right now to tell me it didn't happen to you, all I have to say to you is 'give it time, baby, give it time'. I was a smug non-crisis type only two years ago, then smash, down came the house of cards.

It appears to hit men and women a little differently. I'll give you, oh, three seconds to take another look at this blog post title and decide which set of three applies to men, and which to women...

I decided a few years ago, that hit with the mid-life crisis, men did one of three things - they got that bike they had always wanted, they picked up their guitar again and had another go and being the rockstar they always wanted to be or, they had an affair. Bikes, bands or bitches, and I stand by that 'bitches' because any woman who knowingly sleeps with a man who she KNOWS has a wife and family at home RIGHT NOW is indeed a bitch.

With my man, it was bands, and I remember commenting to another guitar widow, 'Well at least they're not having an affair'. Only the lead singer of one of the bands did have an affair, with a go-go girl, for god's sake, but maybe he's just greedy and is right at this moment in a bike shop somewhere coveting his next piece of eternal youth.

Actually the band thing was a stellar choice, in my opinion, I had a lot of fun with it, revisiting my own teenage punk era and becoming the No.1Groupie. It revitalized our social life, as we had been heading down different roads, me with work colleagues, him with his club, but the band thing we always did either as a couple, or even as a family. While the band fizzled out, we still go out for a date, and go see a band!

And women's crises seems to revolve around beauty, or rather the loss of it, and babies and business, or work, and the balance between them. Haven't had a baby yet? Gotta get one. Or at least obsess a bit about it before deciding you're okay without one. Got one and devoted your life to it? Gotta get back to work! Worked your butt off? Quit and spend more time with the family. Or toss all that and go get a facelift, go on a diet, or buy a new wardrobe, wear shoes that are too high or skirts that are too short just to prove to yourself that you've still 'got it'.

I'm definitely in the 'got to get back to work' camp. Not that I haven't worked all the way through, part-time at least, but in a kind of jobbing around manner, always with the idea in the back of my head that one day, I would figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up, and go and do it. Only I woke up one day, all grown up, and still no idea.

Anyone else have any idea where my life went and what I should do with it when I find it again?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


At Amy's request, a few of today's funnies:

Erica: While explaining to Lena why Erica wasn't sufficiently horrified at her mentioning that someone 'died' in their imaginary game, I pointed out that for four-year olds, dying just means lying down, going to sleep, and then you go to the hospital and the doctor fixes you. And what they are REALLY afraid of is their family going away and their being left alone. In order to prove this, I said to Erica, "What would you do if Mummy went away". Without skipping a beat she replied, "Go to the toilet with Lena." Guess she's used to Mummy going away!!

Lena: During today's English lesson, we learned contractions and apostrophes. I told them to NEVER use them with plurals, to which, of course, they replied, "What are plurals?". "Books," I said, "and sofaS and..." and we went on to add more and more plurals. "Bums!" Lena said, then Amy said "bottoms!" and I said "boobs". Then Lena said "We'd better not say the next one..." We didn't, we were too busy laughing at Lena.

Erica again: During the same lesson, Erica had completed her lesson, and gone off to play with her toy kitchen. She brought over the tea cups and tea pot and prepared to pour us all tea. "Oh, I don't WANT any tea!" Amy said, annoyed at the intrustion. "It's okay, it's a TOY" Erica replied.

Amy: STILL doing the same lesson, while we were all heads-together examining a map, Amy decided to ambush Lena with a big "BOO!". Lena didn't move an eyelash. Amy said, "Lena, why didn't you get a fright?"


Lena Graduated!!! At first the doctor said 'shuu...something' a word I don't know, but I had NO trouble understanding what she meant! Then she congratulated Erica for graduating.

Meaning, she has STOPPED taking medicine for asthma, and no longer needs to go in for monthly check-ups. Thank GOD and it's only about five years after I thought she should stop!! Well actually it's probably not that long and I could probably check somewhere on this blog, but it certainly FEELS that long!

I immediately went out and celebrated by spending money.

Getting to this point was a long journey, even without counting the comedy of errors in getting to this particular check-up:

After missing the appointment last Tuesday, we went in on Friday morning. The system here is appointments in the afternoon, drop-ins in the morning. If you miss your appointment, you can't reschedule (too much trouble for the nurses to track down the doctor to check her timetable), you have to come in again as a drop-in. So on Friday, the girls took the morning off school, and I crossed my fingers that we'd be finished by 10am for Erica's Observation Day at Kindy. One of those lovely, more onto-it nurses you wish you could be blessed with all the time twigged that we had the wrong day, and our doctor wasn't in that morning, so asked me would you like to just see whoever was there, or would you prefer to come back next Wednesday when she is here? I chose Wednesday, partly because the kindy class observation day start time was looming down on me, also because I had forgotten to load my wallet with this month's health budget cash, but mostly because I really wanted to see 'our' doctor, because she had been tantalizingly mentioning stopping, and had halved the doses already, and I thought a different doctor would just do repeats to not step on her toes. 

Roll on Wednesday and I get all the kid in the car, school bags ready, health budget firmly ensconced in my wallet, and off we go... only to see that it's paper recycling day. Mum will remember last time we did it, and she suggested we go back and get the papers, and and I said "NOOOO!!!" because you have to sort them and stack them and tie them up and well it just takes forever. But luckily at the beginning of this month I did all that, so it was ready to go, so we swooped back home and Amy and Lena helped me bring the stuff out to the road - three stacks of magazines and newspapers and two bundles of broken-down cardboard boxes.

The driving down the road, I saw some bags of clothes and realized I'd forgotten to put the old clothes out for recycling! I decided to flag it, but then realized I didn't have my 'doctor bag' with all the insurance and hospital ID cards in it. So back we flew again, only for me to realize the doctor bag was in the car all along. Oh well, the clothes got put out! Amy threw them out the window of the car as we passed the specially designated power pole.

We finally got the hospital, Erica was wonderfully well-behaved, while Amy and Lena stunned me with a full-on, claws-out cat-fight over who got to hold the iphone while they scrolled through the photos! Shame on you girls! How embarrassing!

Amy is on one puff a day for another two months, Erica had a bit of a lingering cough this month, so she is continuing, and got some cough meds thrown in as well. And Lena got to stop!!! She couldn't believe it at first, she checked with me two or three times. Then of course she immediately turned to her sister and skited about it. Sigh.

More blatting around ensued: combini trip for snacks and Erica's kindy lunch (which I didn't have time to prepare), girls to school, Erica to kindy, me to the chemist to pick up the meds, then to the camera shop to deliver some old disposable cameras we found, then to the combini again to get me an iTunes card, since this month's medicine and hospital bill was so low, to the big drug store to get cheap cereal and bananas for breakfast, to the cheap clothes store to get some clothes: $40 for jeans, a belt, a tank top, a lacy knit over-top, and a necklace. Not bad!

And now to some of that useful stuff, I suppose. I HAVE to fit in some laundry today, between typhoons. And send some jewellery and accessories to Maria to sell on trademe, and sort some photos, and clean a bit more of the spare room maybe, so I can work on some more stuff to send to Maria on Friday.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Typhoons and Time

Typhoon news: stupidly humid, cloudy sky, rain off an on all day, but not a breath of wind. Typical northern Oita typhoon! I was told Mt Aso protects us from the worst of it - they usually come up from the south-west - and I think there might be something in that!

TIME is on my side for once. THREE hours of work this week!!! With all the running around after the kiddies, it certainly doesn't feel as 'free' as it looked on the weekend. I still haven't done anything useful... well I'm going to go and do something useful now then, get Erica to bed with time to read her a book!


Here's me and Kanji at the izakaya we found on May 28 after about an hour of sad trudging through the city finding out just how many restaurants have a holiday on a Monday, including my first choice and favorite place, Bistro de Moulin. Walking towards it, we were already planning what to get - the 3000yen course or the 5000? Definitely the cheese board, and he'd have one glass of beer while I had one glass of champagne, then we'd share a bottle of wine. Suddenly he said, "What if it's not open. It's Monday". Oh horrors, I thought, having already planned out that cheese board and champers, and I started to get ready for the disappointment and plan other venues, while he tried to reassure me it would be open. It wasn't. Neither was the next place we tried, or the next. We were walking in circles by now, going round to check some place or another, doubling back to try another, checking menu boards on the way, going past one place to check another then coming back - the one we finally chose was one we had initially passed by, then came back to. It's a newish place, with the benefit of having private booths with seats, not tatami.

The food was fine, your nice 'modern' izakaya type stuff, not down-home smelly old guys type place (though the mizuna with EVERYTHING was a bit much!) Above, from left to right is chilli ebi, a sashimi platter, and a gobo salad (crispy shaved burdock root. Man that sounds rude!). I had wanted some nice wine, but izakayas and beer just go together so I was happy with that.

The best thing by far was the fried cheese. If you can't give me a cheese board, at least give me fried cheese! This is the BIGGEST fried cheese I've even seen, as fat as my fingers, but melted all the way through. I think I will go here again just for this dish.

Kanji outside the bar we went too after the izakaya. His friend drew that picture on the wall.

But what I REALLY wanted to talk about was the babysitting.

This was the first time NZ Grandma babysat while we went out. Usually, the kids stay with Baachan for the night. Now, I can't fault Baachan - she's nearly 80 yet she takes them on, all three of them, feeds them, bathes them, and well I don't really care where or when or how they sleep, as long as they do, and I'm not there!! As she's gotten older, she's more likely to take them out to dinner rather than cook, or to call her daughter to take the kids shopping, but she still never says no, which I love her for!

But there is a difference in how the two grandmas see their role, how they react to problems, and how much they value the idea of me and Kanji as a couple going out.

First of all, we left Erica with a fever... my mum didn't blink an eye at this. Sick kid, so what? I would NEVER have been able to leave a feverish kid with Baachan, she still thinks of fevers as near death, while Mum sees them as, well, just a kid being a bit sick.

We got two calls from the kiddies that night, one to say goodnight, and one to tell us Erica was being sick. Lena called, and I could hear the commotion in the background, and got put on to Amy, and to Grandma, who APOLOGIZED for Lena having called us, she would never have let her call us if she'd known, but while Amy and Grandma were dealing with Erica, Lena had decided the best thing to do was to call Mum. If it had been Baachan, it would have been Baachan calling us, expecting us (me) to return home forthwith.

Because Mum not only viewed a sick kid differently, but viewed a parents' night out differently: to her, our night out together was important, and the kids should not expect to call us in the middle of it with random concerns, and especially not expect us to rush home at the slightest sign of trouble. She even told them off for calling us, and, as I said, apologized for disturbing us. I think if it had been Baachan, we would have had to come home pretty much straight away, acting all concerned, even if we did think she only had a slight cold...

In Japanese society, while the idea of 'couple time' is unusual, the idea of mothers having time away from their kids is almost completely unheard of. It's as if Baachan sees us as 'just popping out for a minute' but always ready to swoop back in if the chicks call for us. The moment a problem crops up, she'll call, with the expectation that we (I) will soon return home and fix everything.

We were so used to this that we groaned when we heard that second phone call, so sure it would beckon us home. It was an unexpected delight to find that, despite the illness and chaos, Grandma was coping just fine thank you, and you two stay out!!

So we did!

Friday, June 15, 2012


Erica's asleep on the sofa, Kanji is watching awful Japanese variety shows (lo-ra!) with Amy and Lena, and letting them taste his wine (YUCK!), I am steaming from a hot bath lubricated with red wine.Fridays are often like this, K is home early, we eat together, we have no obligations the next day, so everyone is relaxed, the kids ignore their homework, and we all ignore the clock!

Jiichan is back in hospital, the cancer has come back and we're going to see him in Kurume on Sunday - Father's Day.

And I've finally seen some photos of my adorable first great-niece, Isabelle, what a little treasure! She looks like Erica, dark and fat!

Life goes on.

Erica just wet herself. Guess who cleaned it up and changed her?

While we were watching that section on Music Station where they get kids to listen to the songs that were popular when they were born. It's fun because I have kids in shogakko, so that means they often play songs from when I was living in Japan before I got married, when I listened to quite a bit of J-Pop, so I actually get that "ooo natsukashiii!!" feeling! Nevertheless I always guess them wrong, and K gets them right. And my kids know NONE of them. I don't play much old music, I think I'll have to start catching them up on the history of music!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Busy Weekend

Phew! What a busy weekend! I'm trying not to go out to save money, but stuff just came up. Going out twice in a weekend happens sometimes, but three times is rare, plus I added in a trip all the way to Oita first thing Monday morning, dropping in for a chat with Jo and Katy on the way back. No wonder I spent the rest of Monday flat on the sofa playing video games while diligently ignoring the scattered detritus of three days of no tidying up!

Friday night was Mari's birthday party. She was 23. She's a New Zealander with Japanese parents come to experience life in Japan as an ALT. So it was mostly ALTs, all in English and funnily enough, mostly talking about teaching, though Mari and I also compared notes about growing up bilingual in NZ and Japan. We went to the Turkish restaurant. They just started a new chicken kebab. I was so eager to try one that I went the day before, picked up my pita chicken sandwich and promptly rushed off, having forgotten to pay! Even when I went back to pay, they hadn't realized. Well maybe they just thought I was charging them for the five minutes of English menu proofreading I did while waiting for the chicken to grill.

I had the kids with me that night too, Kanji was working and since we already had them lined up to go to Baachan's to stay the night on Saturday, they had to come. They were pretty good, or rather Amy was, Lena was 90% good and Erica about 40%! Nothing got spilled or broken though (and I blame the owner, Sevki, who likes kids and it was HIM who gave her the life-size lamb to play with and the BEACH BALL!).

Saturday was a combination date night with my hubby, and a night out with some of the Keio staff, so half English half Japanese, and I managed to completely avoid the subject of teaching! It helped that the occasion was the 'Japan debut' of the 'band' of one of Keio staff (I say 'band' cos it was actually just him, he left the other half of the band in the US, though another Keio staff member played guitar with him for one song, and his wife, who also works there, sang with him on another song.). He was really good, I would love to hear the full band live!

Dinner out with hubby first was at a adorable little Italian/fusion restaurant/bar tucked behind the station. We did consider going to it during our last date, but it seemed too full and lively and we didn't want to walk in there, skulk our way to the only table left and compete with the drunks for service all night. But at 6pm on Saturday evening, it was nearly empty, so we got a good table, got personally shown the wine selection (all chardonnay, no sav. blanc alas) and specials board by the chef/owner, who goes to one of K's clubs. We had some superb food, great oysters, a squid and broccoli dish that is about ten times as yummy as it sounds, and a cheese board. Well you know I am instantly happy once a restaurant has a cheese board and some chardy.

I wore some fabulous shoes. Spike heeled black suede ankle boots that had me in pain after the first block. I really need to get a handle on the shoe fetish. Luckily though, I just happened to have a pair of jandals stashed in my shiny silver handbag (gotta be prepared, girls!) and changed into them. And it was when I was changing BACK into the killer heels before we arrived at the 'live house' (Japanese for gig venue) that K sneaked a little kiss... more about that later...

There were several bands on that night, and knowing several radio and live music people we knew half the people in the club and had a great time catching up and introducing people. We also got rollicking drunk, if the bottle of wine and two of beer at the restaurant weren't enough. We could have done without the final handles at Garden, I think, but everyone was going there and it was a good chance to actually chat with people without having to scream at them.

The bands were at the Biliken club, which is basically the only live music venue left now in Nakatsu since Tropicoco burned down last year, and Gate closed a little while ago. The only other place is the studio Player, which has a few tables guests can sit at, but is a bit crowded if your fan base is more than, say, ten people. Which leads us to the main topic of conversation on Sunday night...

I slept until midday on Sunday, what a TREAT!! I woke up lots, I just kept reminding myself that I had absolutely nothing to get up for, and drifted back to sleep. Bliss! I picked the kids up at 5:30 for a 6pm outing. This evening was the whole family, family friends, Indian curry and speaking Japanese all night. It was folk music event (picture 4 50-yr olds taking turns to sit in the corner and gently strum Japanese folk favorites from the 70's).

The Indian restaurant is in an old house, so there are two main restaurant sections, and just one small tatami room, but as we had six kids between us, we got the tatami room. Cue loads of curry, naan, beer and wine, and the conundrum of what on earth to do about the lack of decent music venues, and how sad it is that Troppies went, and why he left in the end and all that gossip... and why Gate closed down, and all that gossip.... and could we open a new place, and what kind of food could we have (how about NZ food? someone said, but I said Nah, NZ food is not interesting!), how much a month's rent is and how many gigs/patrons you'd need to cover it and how we could take turns working there... Ah, pipe dreams you say, BUT you never know, these are guys in their 40's, with the business contacts, confidence and energy to pull off something like this. I sure hope they do, I said the FIRST thing you have to do is have a Halloween party!!!

Oh, and that little kiss... We were SEEN and our friends were reporting our little dalliance back to us less than 24 hours later as we sat down to dinner. Damn small town. 

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Dead Guy

Anyone following the Guy/MacDonald murder case?

I don't usually follow a murder case so closely, but something about this one is just fascinating me. Maybe it's because it's close to somewhere I used to live:

(The murder happened at the Red A pin, I lived on the road centre right called Nannestads Line.)

Or because it was so mysterious when it happened - a young handsome guy, Scott Guy, a dad with a pregnant wife, all round good guy, popular, successful, no enemies or criminal back story, is found lying dead one morning in front of his still-running car, shot in the neck. No one has the slightest idea who did this, who would want to do it. It's like the first scene of a particularly good episode of a crime procedural drama, when you are left thinking, "How the hell are they going to find out who did it?" No motive, no robbery, no witnesses, no murder weapon, no fingerprints, no leads. For nine months, the family periodically put out pleas for information, and then...

The case took a sensational turn when Guy's brother-in-law (his sister's husband), who was a pall-bearer at his funeral and his best man at his wedding, was charged with the murder, the motive apparently being jealousy and hard feelings about the future of the farm they were both working on.

Or because it's such a cliff-hanger whodunnit. I'm totally undecided as to whether MacDonald did it or if he's just being framed by bored policemen. The evidence rests on a pair of boots that are now gone, whether or not MacDonald knew more than he should have about the murder, and a previous bullying campaign MacDonald waged against Guy's family in order to intimidate them into leaving, including notes and vandalism. Okay that last bit sounds a bit suspicious...

Before the police determined that Guy had been shot, everyone thought he had had his throat cut and that was the story going around, but apparently this Ewan MacDonald was saying he had been shot. So right now in court, there is an awful lot of minute testimony going down about exactly how much of the body he had seen, and who said what to whom and when. Getting people to remember the grapevine nearly two years after the event!

Awaiting the next turn of the screw...

Wednesday, June 06, 2012


Got my Green Machine back again Monday. I think I might have kept the Stream a weeee bit too long this time, it was a bit of a jolt at first, though after the first trip and stop, I was once again converted.

The Green Machine being a 660cc 3-door (plus rear door/boot/vertical hatchback), high roofed, high seated tin can on wheels with seat covers like something of one of Air New Zealand's cheaper plane seats circa 1987, and doors that go 'clangggg' when you shut them; but with powerful, light steering and a wheel base so tight you feel like you could do a 360 on the spot. It's a Mitsubishi Toppo, and I think it's called that because it can spin like a top. Obviously it's a much better vehicle for driving and parking in the narrow streets and tiny spaces in our old part of town, the old castle town. Issues include a missing passenger side visor, a driver's side visor hanging by one screw and often falling down obscuring my view, and sticky doors that threaten to not open at all (that's happened in the past). The automatic door lock button on the key is broken too, but I think that if I unscrewed it and replaced the battery it would work again. It's just that a little job like that is not a priority, in fact it's so far down on the priority list that it comes after 'blob on sofa wondering what to do next'.

And the Stream is a long, sleek, 5-door, 7-seater with all leather interiors, fully automatic with doors that make a comforting 'whump' when you shut them, and hard, fast, COLD air conditioning, a feature which is going to have me back at Jiichan and Baachan's several times over the summer I think, begging to borrow it again! You blat around town in the Green Machine, while you glide around in the Beige Beauty. But it's looooong, and heavy to turn, and while it has a backing camera, the front bonnet is so fashionably sloped that I can't see where the car ends (and the concrete wall begins).  Its size also means I have to turn around to do up Erica's seat belt, whereas with the Toppo, I can reach behind with my left hand and do it! So despite all the comforts of streaming along in the Beige Beauty, I am keen to quickly switch back to my little Green Machine.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Best Kid

So tempting to call this post Karate Kid, but that's just too cliched, so I chose the Japan title.

Erica has started Karate lessons. Amy and Lena had the option too, but declined. Here's my little fighter giving it her best:

She's learning the 'kata' for the first year, form, positions, how to bow! Almost the whole first lesson was how to bow. VERY disciplined, which is just what my little tearaway needs. She was told on the second lesson (above, still no other students in the class) to not hit or kick other people, something we all know from the movie, right?

We were also given a list of rules, or rather lifestyle guidelines, including things like 'be friendly', 'study hard' 'take care of my body': All five numbered 'one' in that odd Japanese manner:

She missed her third lesson with a cold, and for her fourth, I was in Kyoto and she went with Baachan and Aunty Mie. She did not participate in the lesson, but apparently the teacher told them this was quite normal for kids her age, and to just keep bringing her along anyway. So we turned up again this Monday, and he sat her down on the chair and told her she could watch, but she had to sit still and quiet (quite impossible of course!).

There were four other students in this class, so I think watching them finally convinced her it would be more fun to join in than to sit and watch, and she joined in, in the end. Sensei is very strict, but gentle. He even gave us new Mums a little mini-lecture - don't use his name as a threat at home, but do tell them to sit up straight 'like sensei said'.

He likes us to be there for the lesson - it's only 40 minutes, so there's no time to go somewhere and come back - but not to join in the reprimands and keep saying 'shh' 'sit down' 'do it right' etc etc while he's teaching! As a teacher I totally get that, but Baachan had a bit more trouble with it! Kept interrupting to add her piece. I suppose it's hard for her since the teacher is her nephew. That's why she is tagging along - and paying the fee, yay! She let slip yesterday 'and you can take her when I can't go' which I was kind of expecting... damn cos I was hoping it would be the other way around, especially since it's twice a week. Well it means if I can't go, I can ask her, but it'll be me. Sigh, another naraigoto/soccer mom (what DO we call that in NZ?) thing to add to the schedule, but maybe my little Princess will turn out to be a super fighter. She certainly already has the voice for it:

Monday, June 04, 2012

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

I'm done, Mum's packages are sent, and I think that's a record! Usually the PO and I have a more leisurely relationship. It helped that Mum threw me the last of the Japanese money in her purse, which happened to be just enough to buy the noodles and send two packages.

One contains clothes and shoes that she knows she doesn't need until summer, and I only realized when I got to the PO that I really have no idea what it is that package, so if it contains any contraband, it's your call Mum!! I think it's the receiver who gets done for importing... In the other were the 'Kluski' noodles and the green tea, plus the glasses case (that turned up in my handbag), the paulownia wood fan and the garish green embroidered handbag. Such random stuff we feel such a strong need to 'send on'! You'll be glad to hear I 'forgot' to put in the blue swirly polyester shirt Baachan gave you in a mini-fit of generosity.

The green tea is for my brother, who actually drinks it. Four funerals' worth (we always get green tea, a hanky or black funeral money envelopes, and some salt, as a return gift at funerals and obviously Kanji's been to four in the last year or so! Mostly parents of club colleagues, no-one close).

The 'Kluski' noodles are Italian egg noodles, which you apparently can't get anymore in New Zealand. When Mum saw them she got quite excited, so we bought them and attempted to make her famous 'one pan dinner', a dish she used to cook when we were kids, a good 'mop-up' dish with the noodles, meat, cabbage and whatever else, flavored with Chinese soy sauce. So when we told my sister Jo that we had eaten that, well she just HAD to have some too. 'Kluski' was the brand name they were sold under, and they stopped selling it a decade or so ago I think. So I send home two packages of that, enjoy your 'one pan dinner' guys! Good old traditional kiwi cooking, haha ha!!

This was all to make Mum's check in smoother of course. We are well aware of that 20kg weight limit, and the fact that while you just might get away with it - if you are very sweet, have a kind check in lady, and the flight is less than full. OR you might get a nervous or downright bitchy check in chick, a full flight, and everydamnone else trying to 'get away with it' too. I've been charged for going one or two kilos over, and the cost is at least twice what you pay to post it, even by the most expensive postal option, so it's worth it to weigh that bag, send stuff on, or at the very least work out what you would take out if you need to. I tend to pack now with this in mind, in my larger canvas clothing bag, everything is in separate bags. And in my suitcase, I will even package books, magazines and food into 1kg packages, for easy removal and posting (there is a PO at the airport in Auckland).

Mum's bag was found to be just one kilo over the the amount they would let us get away with (23kg on a 20kg ticket). Mum's preparation was more in the mind, than in tidy packages, so we had a few hairy 'can anyone see my bra' moments and we jostled the baggage, but it only took five minutes, and we even managed to stuff it all into her carry-on bag, which itself still managed to weigh in under the requisite 7kg. We were certainly having a much better time of it that a couple further up the line from us, who we watched, all the way from the back of the queue to the front, as they desperately re-arranged their belongings. A suitcase, a backpack, and two large cardboard boxes, plus a baby car-seat and stroller. The cardboard boxes were all nicely taped up, and they had to unpackage them, tear off the tape, gut them, and stuff the excess into any bit of backpack they could find a space in, it was obviously the only item coming in under 28kg (the limit for any one piece of luggage). They finally got finished as we approached check-in, and reminded me once again why it's a good idea to weigh before you go!

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Lazy sunny summer Sunday

We are just blobbing around, being Sunday.

Here are the kids reading their library books. Amy has started going to the library to supplement her Japanese reading material, and was kind enough to take her baby sister with her. She loves it! And apparently is quiet and well-behaved, even reporting back to us over dinner tonight how you have to "nizuka at the shoshokan". I'm wondering if all that would fall through if I was there... luckily I am not. Much as I LOVE libraries, I hate Japanese ones, it's too depressing when you finally find the 'English' book section and 90% of the books are English learning texts and the other two are books about Japan. Today I managed to get Lena to tag along too, and I went to pick up some items from Cosmos (milk, bread, eggs, noodles for lunch), then just managed to get in a cup of tea and some cheese on crackers before they all came home again.

The thing about this blobby Sunday is that we all keep thinking of what we would be doing if Grandma was still here. We know what she WAS doing today - playing DrawSomething with us!! We are up to 175 now!

We probably would have thought of something to do, somewhere to go, instead of just hanging. 

I think if Grandma had been here, we might have cracked open a bottle of wine, being a warm sunny afternoon, and my cold finally clearing up. We'd have had something different for dinner, because with her input I probably would not have done a 'clear the fridge and freezer' type meal (chicken burritos).

There's no cold tea bag sitting on the little ceramic tea-pot shaped tea-bag tray.

Grandma's chair lies empty, the pillow from my bed still on in.

The big pot is finally back in the cupboard, after serving as Mum's "hot, soapy water" receptacle for a month.

The genkan is minus a few pairs of shoes (but plus two more, as Amy and I bought matching jewelled sandals today)

'Her' room still smells faintly of her perfume. This won't last much longer in this wicked humidity, but it's nice while it does.

The laundry is not yet hung.

The flowers ARE watered, Lena has turned into a watering machine! Yay! But we all stand around those pots of dying crysanthemums and wonder what to do.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Wow, April 19?

Six weeks?

Actually I don't think this is my biggest hiatus, I think I went for a few months a few years ago. So no need to declare it all over!

And I will catch up, actually, I think, because I really would like to blog all of Mum's trip to Japan. It will take ages, but well, I have time right now. I'm down to four lessons a week now, with unspecified proofreading on top, and the AFWJ Pres job, which is what you make it. I have a lot of ideas there too...

Ideas, ideas... for photos, the spare room, the shed, my stuff, my hobbies, my jobs, OH and yeah I joined the swimming club again, so back in the pool!!! Oh, suddenly I feel all busy again.

But not today. I came home from Kyoto with an awful cold, someone stuffed my head full of cotton wool and I feel all weird and every now and then my body decides my lungs should really be on the outside and tries to put them there. So I'm going to harrass my kids into cooking dinner - one can cook the rice, the other one can go down to the shop and get some fried chicken and I just might get busy and saute some spinach to scramble with eggs just so I can say they ate something green today.

Then put them to bed and watch the Jubilee on BBC.