Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Monday

This morning I was thrown out of bed, and rolled down the stairs into chaos.

The first few weeks of the summer holidays are full of anticipation, excitement and hankering after things to do and places to go, leading up to the long empty days of obon, the only time you get that 'what day is it?' feeling. And the last two weeks of desperately trying to fit everything else in, finish the homework, finish the craft, START the projects I thought I'd have time to start, and pack, shop, prepare, order, sort and get ready!!!

I truly thought yesterday that we had nothing today. I was more than a bit wrong about that - Erica had kindy, Amy and Lena had to go to school for 'Step Up' (apparently school kids in Oita are a bit thick, and apparently an extra 10 hours of school during summer is going to fix that), all at 9am, so when I did wake up (at 9am) and remember all of this, it resulted in a bit of an unholy rush! I dropped Erica off without her rice, went back and made that, corrected an essay, boxed the rice, dropped it off, went shopping at Fadie's and Shinsenichiba, got home to pick up Amy and Lena, went to Gooday to look for snorkels (for the Miyazaki trip), and Youme town for cottage cheese (for the pumpkin and eggplants cannelloni), dropped the kids off home, back to Youme Town to buy a pop-up tent, picked up Erica, and finally got home.

Then we had an afternoon far more suited to the summer holidays. Long, and hot. Amy doing her origami mosaic, Lena doing her papier mache ballon houses, Erica pestering both of them, and me doing laundry and cooking the cannelloni while we watched all three hours of the Olympic Closing Ceremony.

They only have another seven free days: we are going to Miyazaki for three days this weekend, the following day is my birthday and we are having a party here, then the next day is our only chance to go to Fukuoka to see the girls' photos in the exhibition. And since I have work on Thursday and Friday I have to get ready for all that tomorrow! Wish me luck.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Wada-san modeling part III, on location

 Wednesday afternoon, we turned up at 4:50 at the studio, but he asked us to get back in the car, then led us to this little place, a little old building that had been turned into a cafe.

Amy by the wood pile

Lena enjoyed wearing her dress again, with the addition of this sweet hat.

Amy was the first, above, seated on a park bench. Below, a sweet one of all three of them.

Erica outside the old windows, we could read the cafe menu through the glass

Then all of a sudden a lady in a kimono with an umbrella stepped out of no-where. Bottom, I had to the be the photographic assistant!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Seems I am failing at the summer scheduling. I've managed to double book us twice last week, with one more coming up and then Kanji threw one in a double-booking on top. That was just him saying Amy could work on Saturday, while actually we were going to Kunimi. Well, his mistake, and he quickly called back to cancel.

I thought Aki, the computer guy, was coming on Monday evening, so I made curry. Can't have him slave over the hot computers for hours and not feed him! Then Kanji came home and called him (why he didn't call him earlier, I don't know) and he couldn't come, so we arranged for him to come Tuesday night (I threw together a Greek salad and made a chicken mix to put in pita bread). Then Mai-chan texted and said yes, she could do the piano lesson on Tuesday.

Since the piano and computer are in the same corner of the room, that made for an interesting evening! Me and Kanji just sat there drinking beers and barking orders at the children, and invited both Mai and Aki to my birthday party on the 28th.

Thursday was much, much worse. On Sunday I had arranged with Maia's Mum for them to come over on the 9th, and we could have dinner together then go to the festival. I was looking in my diary at that moment in time, and nothing else was written there except 'Toro Matsuri'....

I had completely forgotten that I had agreed to go help set up the festival, and while I KNEW we had karate on Thursday, for some reason my brain did not connect 'Thursday' and 'the 9th' despite it being on the page in front of me!

I handled this in a very Japanese manner, quitting nothing, burying my head in the sand, and hoping for the best. As the day progressed it seemed obvious even to me that I was going to conveniently 'forget' about setting up. Then Kanji came home early and saved me from the karate lesson. We were free!

Then Sevki called and was adamant that he had to give me a bottle of wine NOW. And I should go to YoumeTown NOW and go meet the girl in a white t-shirt with a heart on it to get your wine. Luckily, just at that moment in time we had all decided to go get ice cream, so I ordered Erica a Bear-shaped parfait, handed Amy my wallet, told everyone 'chotto matte' and ran outside to meet the wine-toting heart-t-shirt girl. I love how Maia's Mum reacted when I returned a few minutes later and plonked a bottle of wine in the middle of the table outside the ice cream shop. So cool. "Oh, wine, how nice. Turkish, you say? How unusual. Hmm, what's that writing on the bottle, must be Turkish!" Like you have wine with your ice cream at the mall every day.

Speaking of Sevki, his birthday party is on the 18th, and I have strong hopes of going - no one parties like Sevki! But the Bon dancing by Baachan's house is on the same night. Bright side thinking: once at Baachan's the kids invariably insist on staying, Erica especially. Home is so damn boring. All I have to do is turn up early, let them turn on the charm, casually ask if they might stay, as if it meant nothing at all to me, and then run away gleefully jumping for joy. Wish me luck.

Broken Chronicle

My camera just decided to stop working on Thursday, swear I didn't do anything to it! This is the one I bought just at the end of May, because the one I had before had stopped working during at the School Sports Day after I was a little too encouraging with the sometimes-sticky lens, the lens that got sticky when I left it face down on my udon tray in Takamatsu, only for the udon to slosh out and splash it: this being the camera I had bought in the New Year Sale last year after getting the one before it stolen at Disneyland in Hong Kong. Which is the one I'd bought to replace the one I'd broken when I dropped it into a river while pregnant. At least I wasn't responsible for the breakage of the first one - a friend kindly took care of that for me, though leaving it on the edge of a table with the lens open was probably not a wise choice on my behalf.

But everything seems to be breaking on me lately! Why do appliances break in sets? Microwave, dishwasher, mixer and blender all went together last year. Going out in sympathy? Not counting lightning strikes, I seem to be having just one thing after another go wacky on me lately.

iPhone is playing up. We made an effort to get it fixed, went to the shop, who got us to call the helpline. Between me not understanding the polite language and Kanji having no idea how to work the phone, we failed. It's okay, I said, I can handle no sound in the apps and the sticky home screen button. But now the alarm and phone sounds sometimes don't work. Nor the vibe. What good is a phone if no-one can call you?

Need new glasses. Okay, so in this case they did not break, I left them on top of the car when I was putting on sunscreen and then left them there. I blame Kanji of course. It was his clever idea to put sunscreen on RIGHT NOW and not when we got there, and then he finished of course, while I was still pottering about trying to get it on the kids, then I got Erica into her carseat, still unfinished, and by this time our friends were ready to go, so into the car I hopped and no more glasses!

Car door stuck again. This happened last year too! I can handle the passenger's side door being stuck, not the driver's side though - but last year after we got the passenger's side door fixed, the driver's side got stuck, so fingers crossed it doesn't get stuck again soon, or I'll be climbing in to drive through the back door over Erica's carseat, eek!

Smashed a heater clearing out the shed, and one electric fan gave up the ghost this year.

Washing machine making ominous noises, a huge GYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE when you turn it on. Dodgy.

My Wifi router broke. This was before the lightning strike, so I can't blame that. After our friendly computer guy showed me what to order online, I did so, only to find in the confirmation email that I had inadvertently ordered two! This was not a language fault, it's pretty bloody obvious when you have two of something in your shopping basket in any language. It was language though that made fixing it near to impossible. I tried replying the the email - got that email back. No contact email anywhere! I went back to the website and found the contact button, filled in all the fields, but still they two routers turned up next day. I gave one to the guy who fixed our computer. Then found another one in the cupboard that I think belongs to AFWJ...

The tape player doesn't go. That doesn't sound like a big deal of course, except that with no TV, I was going to listen to the books on tape that we inherited a while ago. So I went out and bought another one, a little cheap one... only it doesn't go. And I lost the receipt because I bought it the day before the Gion party. Yes, yes, I do really need to be a bit, no a LOT more careful with receipts!!

So next I tried the MD, as I also inherited a collection of audio books on MD. No luck. Hopefully I will soon be inheriting a new tape/CD/MD player off a friend. With my luck, it'll be broken by the time it gets here.

Obon Happened.

As it does.

A major family holiday in Japan, and I never plan a single thing. Or rather, I've learned to not plan a single thing, and wait for the inevitable phone call from MIL.

So Monday was the main family dinner, and we did get a few days warning about that one actually, she told us on Friday. We spent the morning cleaning up, trying to get through the mountain of laundry after the weekend! Fail.

We went round to Aunty's house at about 5, her daughter is back in town for the holiday and my girls like to play with her. Nothing much for me to do except fiddle with my phone and read a magazine. Kanji came at about 7, and we waited around for Jiichan and Baachan, who were late and arrived closer to 8. The kids were getting SO hungry, but we all had to pile back into the cars first and go pay our respects at the family grave, carrying back lit incense in the car to put on the family altar.

Then the eating could begin! We had a mixed feast of sushi, pizza, chawan mushy (savory custard), clear soup, onigiri, chips, renkon (lotus root) salad, gobo (burdock root) salad, potato salad, and tomatoes. And no-alcohol beer. I know some bloggy/facebook friends moan about obon spent with families who sit around and drink all day - I'm kind of jealous! Everyone in our family still works - the Stands are not closed during the busiest days of the year - and everyone's driving, so no-one drinks at all! Aunty used to provide beer, but stopped bothering a few years ago, now she gets non alcohol beer and we all politely drink that for 'cheers' then move on to our favorite soft drink. The whole thing is over in 3-4 hours.

Finally Kanji's sister came round with her two kids, though not until after a bit of phone wrangling by him and MIL. They brought donuts, which we hardly needed, though the kids ate anyway. At some point we agreed to go with Baachan to her family home in the mountains the next day, so after another slow morning making a very small dent in that laundry pile.

Then Mr. Wada phoned again, and we arranged the next modeling session for 5pm the next day. Then Kanji turned up just as we were leaving to ask us if we could go to the Okidai Bon Dancing event that night. See how stuff just happens?

The trip out to Yabakei was interesting, seeing all the flood damage. Part of the road washed away, and we had to take a detour. Most of it was cleaned up, but you could the houses that had been inundated, with a too-clean outdoor area in a mud-wash color. We didn't stay long, just long enough to scoff the proffered grapes and pears, and play with their new long-haired chihuahua puppy.

I think I'll do another post with photos for the Bon Dancing. Different... it's gone from a nice little summer party and barbecue with friends, during the middle of which the kids dress in their yukatas and pop off to the festival, to just our two families this year, or rather just me and the other Dad, and some bentos! The Mum recently took over a restaurant, and was working her butt off there, so no party, but the girls all wanted to get together and go to the dancing anyway. Amy and Lena stayed the night.

After beers at the 'party' and a nightcap or three, I was feeling pretty shattered on Wednesday morning, so when Kanji called to say that another friend wanted to go to the pool,  I declined. Not with Amy working (doing some lunch-time shifts at the friend's restaurant) and the modeling at 5pm. I thought that was that, until 2 seconds later I got a call from Amy and Lena to beg! They already knew about the plan, and Amy had been told not to work today. I couldn't say no when all their friends were already set to go. And I couldn't make Erica stay home (she was home with me, but overheard the phone call). And I didn't want her to go without me because she's mental in the water presently - crazy about putting her head under the water continuously, with hardly a break to breathe, so I have to keep an eye on her like a hawk.

So.... off we went to the pool. More photos from that later. It ended when a thunderstorm came over. We are getting one almost every day this summer!

We got back in time for the photographer - a location shoot this time, at a very picturesque cafe right near where I work that I had no idea existed. It was shut for the day, but I could peep at the menus - coffee, ice coffee, toast, cheese toast, aaaah, that's why I've never been there, old fashioned Japanese cafe menus are very uninspiring!

Today, back to work! The other day when I mentioned going to the beach this Friday, Lena actually stomped her feet and complained! "When will I ever get my homework done!" But then when she's home she just plays with Erica or swans around, helps with laundry, which she has decided is 'fun', or does sit-ups (I casually mentioned that I could do about 80 at her age, so I think she's been practicing on the sly!)

Monday, August 06, 2012

THIS fabulousness

Here's my new summer living room with the shiny new things finally installed! The piano (below) is on the left, and the computer (close-up below as well) is in the corner, a little dark. Sofa on the left and media centre on the right with the dysfunctional tape and MD players. Usually the shoji are at the other end of the window to keep the computer corner cool. The wicker chair sits in the cross breeze between the front and back doors, plus with fans from the other two directions it's the coolest spot in the house - I thought until today when I figured out the genkan was. I am seriously considering moving my wicker chair out there for my afternoon tea! What a bloody granny.

From the other direction.... a bit more cluttered, with Erica's tent and Amy and Lena's desks. But better than it is right now - but it's still not bad enough yet to take a true 'after' shot so you'll have to wait for that. I will happen! 

Gratuitous cute shot. Erica on 'Grandma's' wicker chair. It rocks! I mean, literally, not as in 'it's cool'. Though it is cool, if you mean temperature-wise.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

From fabulous to frazzled, with a fire at the end

Today was supposed to be fabulous, with the piano and new computer arriving. I was going to get a blog written and my work done first thing in the morning, I'd be all good and do it before I opened the box even if it came early, and then I'd have the rest of the day to set it up, and I'd spend the afternoon catching up on Olympic videos online...

Instead I ended up frazzled and frustrated by anything electronic or technical, despite the new blender (aka mikusa in Japan) arriving also, meaning I actually had three new toys today! First, neither of my two printers cooperated with me in getting the paper I was proofreading printed - one's out of ink, the other seems to have a dud USB cord. So while I was fiddling with that, I turned the computer a bit to see the USB port and CLUNK the internet cord got pulled too and knocked off the smoke detector onto my head. Picking up the pieces, I noticed the battery was gone, and commented to Kanji, who just said Hmm. Suffice it to say that him getting annoyed that I got pissed off that all he had to say to me after my techno failure+headouch+battery emergency was Hmm, actually upset me more than him only saying Hmm.

So I didn't get my work done until after lunch, but still the technology wouldn't cooperate with me! Word on my old dungary laptop is in Japanese, and while I found where the 'track changes' function was, it just wouldn't work!! So I tried other computer, where Word is in English, but I had to transfer the files manually because it doesn't connect to the internet. Then the USB stick wouldn't work. I finally got it over there on a flippin CD, and have been WALKING between computers with a CD in my hand to get my work done!

Finally time to open the shiny fabulous new iMac! Very big, very pretty, and of course I'm very happy with it, but.... I figured my chances of getting Wifi connected today were minimal, and only unboxed the router so I could tick the 'Well I tried' box. I did try plugging the modem cord into the Mac too, but that didn't work either. I managed to hack my neighbor's Wifi, but the connection is too slow, then I got an error message - you can't watch this in your country. Bastards. I am so SICK of things just NOT WORKING!!! GRRRR!!

And then the goddam piano saga... I made a big mistake last night when I bought it, and okayed a delivery time of 4-7 - just the exact hours I would be out at the kids' campfire event at their camp. So I turned up at the store at 4pm in the van, thinking I might pick it up if it hadn't already gone.. I was getting really agitated because I needed to be at the campfire, but they kept saying 'chotto matte kudasai'. Wait while I see where it is, wait while I get it... wait while I call someone to see if it can be delivered tonight or in the morning (had to press for that one, instead vague statements about them maybe being busy). Wait while I get someone to help you get it in the van. I shouldn't complain, they did a good job of securing it in the van, it's still there now, waiting until Kanji gets home for us to get it inside. As long as it's all set up by the time the girls get home tomorrow!

But wait, there's more! The small tape deck/radio I bought does not work. And I lost the receipt during clean up for the party. And I tried the MD player on our stereo and that doesn't work either! So no books on tape and no books on MD either. I'm almost afraid to use the new blender! What more can go wrong?

Oh... yeah, the wind blew a photo off the windowsill in the kitchen and smashed the glass and I got a bit in my foot. Okay my house hates me.

And the fire at the end? The campfire, which was great. They fed us parents this year, and we sat around and watched their performances. Each team had a nation theme. The girls totally won!!! The three female teachers had NZ, South Africa and the UK. They did a haka, Shakira's world cup song and the Spice Girls. Jacob was also amazing with a self-written song about Australia. Ken and Kevin, come on!!! Step up!

Two very different days... and Villa Maria

I think what I like about the holidays the sense of freedom from normal schedules, and thus the freedom to do what we want, and how as a result, the days are so unpredictably different.

Thursday I did absolutely nothing all day! Well, apart from a mad rush to Baachan's at 8:30 to pick up Amy for her school session, and waiting around for the tatami man to come and take away the burnt mat, then bring the new one back, and shopping for butter.. And a brief trip to Baachan's again at 3pm, to find the kids all gone to eat ice cream with their auntie and I was not going to complain about that. Oh and karate at 6:10.

But honestly, I did nothing nothing nothing in between, unless you count napping, crunching ice, reading magazines, and finding ways to eat Marmite as a thing. It's wonderful having a day like that. It's not that I didn't have anything to do - laundry to wash and dry and fold, yukatas to iron, Christmas decorations to de-mold, recipes to sort, cupboards to tidy, my wife to kill and Guilder to frame for it - I'm swamped!

But I ignored it all, I didn't even turn on the computer to check email. Utter Bliss.

Friday was AFWJ Journal mailing day. The boxes arrived Thursday night - over 400 copies in four large and one smaller box sat in my genkan overnight. From late morning (after spending the first part of the day helping Amy and Lena to get ready for camp, and bringing them there, and then coming home to find Amy's hat and bringing it back to her) I spend most of the day putting them into envelopes, and sealing them with selotape. Some also had extra newsletters to insert, and some people had to get an extra payment sheet and some had to get two copies. Two trips to the post office to send the overseas copies, then to Kanji's shop to get the wagon to bring the boxes to the courier's, then stickering 383 envelopes and swiping each one separately then finally leaving the shop feeling very, very light indeed at 5:30!

My other goal for the day was to visit all five branches of YokoYama in town in a search for Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc wine from New Zealand. When Katy mentioned that her local liquor store in the wop wops had it, I thought it was just a wonderful fluke. I often check out the shelves at the stores to check for NZ wine, but almost never find it. Then when I asked her where the store was, she said it was YokoYama. NOT just a small local shop as I had assumed, but a chain! A chain that has FIVE shops in and around Nakatsu, including one ON MY BLOCK!

I was quite prepared to take an hour visiting all five (some are a bit far, on the way to Usa), but I found it at my local!!! The one I had least expected to have it, as it only has a tiny tiny wine section. Woo-hoo!That means all five have it. I did not visit them all after finding the stash at my local, I might as well exhaust this supply first! It's a little more expensive that the Satellite Sav Kristin can get at her local supermarket (1280 compared to 800), but it's still a reasonable price.

Being on a shopping high, I decided to go look for a piano.. After checking Yamada and Best Denki, I went back to where I had started two weeks ago, and bought the shopworn, discounted, older model from Deo Deo. It was only 50,000 and in perfect condition. It's a standing one though, with a stool, so we will have to make room for it, but seeing how sad she was about losing her beloved piano, I think she deserves something a little nicer.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Another Busy Day, yeah we've heard that before...

Summer holidays, you know how it is!

Thursday 19th July, summer hols begin with a BANG - lightning strikes the house, taking out the TV, DVD players, piano and computer. An interesting summer on the cards...

Friday 20th July, I work as usual, but the holidays begin for real for the kids. They drag home a tonne of homework, and I am pleased that they are old enough now that I don't even have to look at it, let alone decipher it and direct it. They do it themselves!

Saturday 21st July, a frustrating day spent trying to get back online after the NTT man came with a new modem the day before - and utterly failing, with either of the functioning computers! Hello wine bottle, my friend.

Sunday, 22nd July, I have no idea what I did this day, judging by the wine consumption the night before, probably not very much!

Monday, 23rd July, Amy's modeling debut (post to come).

Tuesday, 24th July, work again, a funny divination class, my new occupation?

Wednesday, 25th July, modeling again!!! This time back at Mr. Wada's studio.

Thursday, 26th July, karate and Giongurumas out already! Let the fun begin!

Friday, 27th July, BEACH - we went snorkeling at Nagasakibana in Kakaji-machi

Saturday, 28th July, Kristin and co. over for the night, lots of yukatas, ice cream, pool, Gion, wine and conversation

Sunday, 29th July, GION party, a quiet one this year!

Monday, 30th July, back at Wada's for more photos

Tuesday, 31st July, pool day! We went to Kampo no Sato.

So, THAT was July!

Lightning Strikes

I have the best excuse for my absence, our house was hit by lightning!

And it's been such a busy, eventful week away, with floods, volunteering, mud, a reggae festival, more mud, lightning, modeling and divination! I have so much to catch up on!

It happened on the 19th: I had just picked up Erica from Aiko kindy, and taken her home. Normally I would take her directly to Keio kindy to catch the afternoon session, but this day I wanted to keep her home so she could take a nap, so she would be happy and energetic enough to do both her swimming and karate lesson in the evening.

When the storm started, the first thing I did was rush around closing all the windows. We've had nearly daily storms in the last few weeks, thunder and lightning has become almost routine. And one thing I know is that the rain is very heavy and strong, and will wet everything inside, eaves or not, so the first line of duty is rushing around getting all the windows closed (in this heat they are, of course, all open). Next I fielded a telephone call from Kanji telling me to close all the windows!

During the previous Saturday's monster storm, when I swore I saw a bolt of lightning hit something in the graveyard next to our house, I had turned off all the electricity. This time I didn't think of it, the daily storms were making me a bit blase perhaps. Our plugs and cords are set up for easy removal, more for power saving and fire safety - for example, the computer, screen and printer were plugged into a power adapter separate from the phone, modem and Wifi station, so those things would not be turned off even if I unplugged everything else. Behind the TV, the stereo and phone shared one cord, the TV and other things shared another. Still, I should have actually unplugged them all, because we lost so much!

So I had gone to finish my lunch (Erica had eaten earlier at kindy) and Erica was also, by a HUGE stroke of good luck, in the kitchen; she was getting ice out of the freezer to munch on at the time. We were listening to the storm, as you do, cringing a little at the loud sound.

No words can describe the shock of seeing lightning in your own house. I saw the flash in the living room from my seat in the kitchen. I instantly knew what it was - disbelief settled in later on, but at the time I had no doubt about what it was. Erica screamed before me. Later she told her story - Mummy's face went red. She didn't see the flash, but she saw my face lit up by it! I screamed too, and of course went to her first, to pick her up and do my best to comfort and calm her, while also trying to think of what I had to do.

Holding her, with her body plastered to mine, hiding her face and motionless, I crept gingerly into the living room. I could see all the power was off, and I could see smoke hanging in the air and could smell it. I think some of that was from my fried egg from lunch... but it was enough to put me on alert at the time. I went over to get my iphone, which was in the middle of a reset, and I hadn't completed the sign-in information. There I was, kid clinging to be in abject terror, diligently pressing 'next' and answering dumb questions about networks, while the storm continued to thunder around us, frightening us more with every rumble. I gave up in disgust, threw it on the sofa and decided we would just have to go round to Kanji's shop in the car.

Another HUGE clap came when we were in the genkan, making Erica AND me scream again, but I had to put her down because I realized I had to check upstairs to make sure there weren't any fires. I didn't relish having to wield a fire extinguisher while the storm continued with Erica down by the door crying and screaming, but if I had to do it, I would!

There was nothing though, so we were safe to escape, and I really wanted to get out of there! It just felt unsafe, like the whole house was electrified or something. The rain was coming down in sheets and we both got soaked on the way to the car. I took off down the drive, only remembering to belt her in when I thought, god now wouldn't it be Murphy's law if we got hit by a car today, lightning or no, you can't risk her riding in the front seat with no belt on. I checked the house again from the outside as I drove away, no signs of smoke anywhere.

We arrived at the shop to find Kanji was not there! M-chan offered to call him for us, which he did, and I stepped inside to talk to him, telling him what had happened. This was odd. People who live with two languages like me know what it's like, how you have to practice what you want to say sometimes, or at least give it some consideration how to say things, before a meeting or shopping for something and things like that. You just do it automatically after a while. I realized I had no idea how to say 'lightning struck the house' in Japanese, I know enough about the language to know you can't just swap verbs and use the equivalent of 'strike' in Japanese - it's 'sutoraiku' when referring to baseball, or'tataku', which back-translates at 'hit'. Both of which I suspected were wrong; in the end I settled on 'keru' or ''kick', don't know why. But not only did Kanji understand me (and repeat back, just naturally, the proper verb choice, which was 'ochiru' or 'fall') but M-chan and T-chan, who were in the office understood what I was talking about too - they kept saying 'maji? maji?' ('really?).

I arranged to meet Kanji back at the house. I left Erica in the car at first, still kind of scared of the house. We went in, and I checked first for fires again. I asked Kanji to call the power company, thinking they'd send someone to check the damage. Do you do anything else? I brought Erica inside, and assured her it was safe now. We checked the power and it turned back on, then we went around checking the appliances and electronics. Sad, sad news:

In our initial assessment, we found we lost 2 computers, 3 DVD players, the TV, modem and phone. I was still high on adrenaline from the shock, and just kind of accepted all of this. I expected the power company to call round, but they didn't, once we told them the power was on again. In retrospect, I wish I had called the fire brigade just to check everything, just to have some authority tell me everything was okay, because it was very unnerving being the house, not knowing what was broken and what wasn't, and still worried about wiring in the walls catching fire.

I was so buzzed, there was nothing I could do but clean. I removed each electrical item, unplugged it, and plugged it in again to check at a plug I had determined was functional.. I found that one computer and one DVD player were okay, but that the electric piano was gone. And this is when I lost it. I just cried! I kept thinking of how Amy would feel knowing her beloved piano was gone. I was trying not to cry, but Erica saw me and called Kanji!

Since such a catastrophe had occured, I felt I had to cancel the rest of the day. But then, we would not be doing anything else except just sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves, so I decided to go on with the swimming and karate lessons. I picked the big girls up from school as usual, and gave them the bad news. It wasn't until Amy got home and saw her piano that she got upset - she actually lay down beside it and gave it a hug! She said that we had to get exactly the same one to replace it, and put on that scratch and that black marker streak, and make sure we slotted a coin in somehow, like Erica did when she was a baby, so that the piano would rattle when you shook it, and a certain button would only work if you picked up the piano and rattled the coin back to the other end of the piano...

We promised we would not throw out the piano, we would keep it, for now, in the shed, until she was ready to part with it.

Meanwhile I had to contend with the loss of much of my data (I had all my photos and most of my documents on an external hard drive) and Kanji had to face the loss of all his stored TV shows and movies, as well as the brand new digital tuner/DVD/HD recorder he had bought only six months ago.

At first we were fairly cheerful - we'd claim insurance, and end up with a whole room full of new toys, right? Wrong. We were only covered for EXTERNAL damage in the event of a lightning strike. Bloody cheeky insurance company. They know fully darn well that an antenna and a couple of roof tiles isn't going to cost them much, but a roomful of electronics will! And who's going to check the fine print of their lightning strike coverage, or change their plan because of it?

We hadn't started using the aircon yet, so we only found out a few days later that they weren't working anymore either. Kanji is still working on the insurance, I have to make a claim using AFWJ's insurance, because the power adaptor for the Journal computer got zapped as well. MUCH paper work to do, while in the meantime, we get to win all points in the Setsuden (power saving) game! Amy entered us in the contest. How can you not win when all your stuff is dead?