Monday, August 19, 2013

Bouncing Chicken

The chicken was bought last Monday, right at the beginning of Obon week: I thought I'd start off with a nice healthy dinner: chicken, onion, cabbage and red pepper stir fry; salad; and corn on the cob.

Then the kids decided they had to stay the night at Baachan's. Well, who's going to argue with that? Dinner plans were delayed, who knows what I ate, but I'm sure I chased it down with some wine!

And I realized that since Tuesday was o-Bon and we would be eating at Aunty Toyoko's house that night, that the chicken's next date with my kitchen would be Wednesday, so it really should go in the freezer in the meantime.

Wednesday came, and I took the chicken out to defrost in the fridge, Monday's dinner plans in mind. K came home, and lounged on the wicker chair while I tried to finish off a bit of decluttering I had started that day. It was hot, I was tired... we chatted... realized tonight was the only night this week we would all be home... and therefore, this was our chance to to go out for a family dinner.

So... Mr Chicken went back in the freezer, and we ended up eating yakitori with the Haradas, followed by karaoke at the Biliken Club. No chicken.

Thursday was beach day! K had meetings, so because we knew we wouldn't be meeting him for dinner, we ate on the way home. Amy wanted omuraisu (a thin omelet stuffed with flavored rice) so we aimed for the family restaurant in Jusco. It was pretty disappointing...

Friday we went to Oita for a TPet Blinky Bits recording session at Bitts Hall. (I'll explain what that means in a future post!) and this time went to the restaurant I think we all decided would have been the better choice the night before: Capriccosa, an Italian chain restaurant that is truly yummy!

Sat... Sun...

Monday rolled around again.

And, dammit, the chicken got cooked. You'd think I'd be dying to get that damned chicken cooked by now, but there was a part of me (okay, a very BIG part), that was desperately hoping that the children would again beg to stay at Baachan's, freeing me to flee along the coastal road... but that was not to be. Chicken it was. It was okay, after several consoling wines, picking at it while K and I watched stupid J variety shows late at night. At least he likes my chicken stir-fry now, he used to hate it. Or rather, I cooked it the first time, he said 'yum', I thought he meant 'yum', but he was just being polite, so I cooked it again and again until he finally told me he didn't really like it... but that was years ago, before I trained him. Or, is he still being polite? Who knows?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Beach Heat, Fridge Heat and Cat Heat

We had an absolutely fabulous day at the beach on Saturday. It went off without a hitch, I don't think I got annoyed once, I think everyone was just so happy to finally be going! Even the car ride out was fun, with everyone joking and laughing. Nothing makes us happier than the beach! I'm glad I've passed that on to my girls, but sad that they have to miss out on the MONTH-long beach trips I enjoyed as a kid, the 2-3 swims a day, and the spectacular surf. Moments like that I kick myself for not living closer to a beach, but there's not that much I can do about that, except pile them all into the car for the trip at every available opportunity.

One thing we do that I didn't do as a kid is snorkel. I really love snorkelling! I can't wait to visit a prettier ocean; the sea grass and occasional small fish at Nakasakibana is not very exciting, though I still find it so lovely and peaceful, just moving through the water, the snorkel the only sound in the universe, the sand moving along under you, sun sparkling through the water.

And I finally got the definitive Lena beach shot. I've only been trying to get this photo for four years now, since I took a perfect beach photo of Erica when she was 1. I already had one of Amy, so all I needed to round it out was Lena. Now all I need is to print and frame them.

I was half thinking of visiting Katy, but we only left the beach at 5:30pm, right on dinner time, and I thought it would a bit jama for them and tiring for us. Until next time! Chicken and Sav, right?


We got a new fridge. That's the second new 'white goods' in a month, after the washing machine broke last month. I *think* there's nothing else now that will break in a while, though the microwave is second hand, so I guess it could go anytime. 

About Thursday we noticed the bottled water wasn't as cool as usual.... that could be just people drinking it too fast or opening the door too often, but then Friday it started to make noises like a lawnmower. Amazing how quickly things got stinky after that. I moved some things over to the freezer Saturday morning, then K and I went fridge shopping later in the morning. We got a mid-size Toshiba, with a vegetable drawer in the middle and a separate ice tray and cooling box (so you don't have to leave leftovers out on the bench, OR put them hot into the fridge or freezer). Dull gray, and I don't like it as much as my last one, which was red. 

It was delivered today (Monday) so the rest of the fridge inhabitants moved to the beer fridge in the meantime, itself a sub-par, seal-challenged, dusty outdoor behemoth, useful really only for parties. And mid-summer, 36 degree heat, fridge breakdown emergencies! Only problem is that the outside of it is so HOT! I hope that's only because the freezer was firing up...

Bloody cat. Or rather, bloody ME! 

Vanilla is in heat. She is NUTS! She is far worse than Genki, who is too skittish, and Cinnamon, who is too lazy to move very far. Cats in heat don't bleed, and keep themselves clean, so it's not gross. They are very affectionate, kissing and rubbing up against you, or the other cats. They miaow a lot more than normal (Genki the most, since she is the most vocal to start with), sleep way less, and spend those waking hours wandering around the house, miaowing and trying to get out. 

Since it's full-on summer and topping 35 every day, a lot of doors and windows are open. We have screens on every single window and door, but the cats can open either the screen or the window. Most egregious is the front door - it has a screen, but one installed by a moron, with a 10cm gap at the top, enough for a cat to fit through. I jerry-rigged it up with an umbrella in the gap yesterday morning, and held it shut with a guitar case, just so we could get some air through the house.

I woke up to Kanji telling me he was off to work when he saw Cinnamon on the roof. He found all the cats and got them inside, but let me know there was a security breach somewhere. I think they got through the bathroom window that time. I opened the front door. She got through the top of the screen, I caught her that time, so that's when I set up the umbrella and guitar case, then I then saw her get out again, after knocking the umbrella down! So I chased her, barefoot in my nightie, then retreated home to change before squatting down to check under the cars, their favorite place to hide. Once dressed, I found her under our neighbor's car - my neighbor was up, peering at me from her living room window, so I had to go say Good Morning, excuse me, my cat is under your car. Oh, you have a cat? she said. She came out, while I snuck behind the wheel and grabbed Vanilla by the scruff of her neck. I thought I had better introduce her to Mrs. Noda, but that freaked her out and she lay a very deep scratch half way up my left arm in her panic. 

Then last night while we were watching a movie, we heard a ferocious screech coming from outside. We quickly counted cats, and found Vanilla missing. Everyone went in all directions to find her, inside and out, and after we finally managed to find a torch that worked, I found her on the kitchen step outside, rubbing and rolling. She let me pick her up this time. The black and white Tom was sighted too, so I was very worried that she had just lost her kitty virginity, hence the screech. 

Then it happened again today! This time, I taped had a yoga mat taped to the top of the screen door in addition to the umbrella and guitar case, but she still managed to open the door - or maybe Erica had left it open for a bit when she went outside to skateboard. Again, the first we knew about it was the unholy screech. It seems that however much she seems to crave it, when it happens, it's a bit of a shock! I just hope it wasn't enough to impregnate her. I'm kind of hoping they have to do what their mother does with the black and white Tom and the ugly white Tom - spend hours together, doing it again and again, all night long, very loudly, for it to stick. 

If not, she's one dead cat. With her blood disorder, she will not survive giving birth, or an abortion. When I look at her sweet, soft furry face, I can't believe she has so much of a death wish. Well, scratch or no scratch, I'm giving her lots of love. I think she is not long for this world. 

Oh, and I just stood on Cinnamon, and she got her revenge instantly, with a very deep claw to my left heel. 

So I am a very bloody cat owner today. 

Friday, August 09, 2013

Some little odds and ends

I used to be organized, I promise. I knew where every little tool and piece of paper was in this house, and things like desks and bags would be regularly tidied and everything put in its place. Then I had kids, and started volunteering, and worked more, and slowly lost control. Now I'm wresting back that control, piece by piece, and that means pulling down the odd box full of assorted papers that once upon a time I would have make short work of, but more recently just got thrown together on top of a bunch of recipes.

Mostly receipts and notebooks, phone numbers and addresses, but I found this:

KIMBALMANA (goannas)
Wesley NGANJMIRRA (Lightning Man)

Which are the names of the Australian Aboriginal artists who created the art works that have graced my hall walls for years. I helpfully wrote them down before I got them framed and covered forever the backs, where the names are written. I was just thinking the other day how sad it was that I had forgotten even the names/themes of the pictures!

Second was a hilarious reminder of getting your way around Japan pre-smartphone. Three note pages of directions to get to somewhere! I have no idea now where this was heading, and I don't blame you for not reading through the whole thing, but I'm writing it down anyway, just because:

- R at しらかわ shingo
- 254 michi go straight.
- pass road cosmo and nakano
- straight at rd narrow past lake. rd thin and narrow
- L at end of road
- R at next shingo/JA
- up hill, right down to 210
- ? miss landmark, ? top of hill
- no corner just curves down past ?
- back to R10. blue house 本 cosmo and Maruwa intersection L
- R at shimono?? sign (Shell self, Best denki)
- L at ビースパ pett onsen

- After coffee gasoline Left at pink "Kandamachi"
- right at P + perm (before Station) ? up rd past bikes by tracks
- cross brigde left over tracks. to right.
- down hill now on tracks left
- left at white prefab

Where ever the heck that was, I have no idea how I found it.

Then I found a list numbered from 10 to 25:

10. Just converted her 66yr old mother to the joys of the Japanese houchou (knife)
11. Loves sleeping with her babies
12. hate flying
13. dated a millionaire in Sydney
14. Covered all four walls of her bedroom with Duran Duran pictures when she was 14
15. has a Southern Cross star constellation of freckles on her left cheek
16. did self-hypnosis for childbirth
17. had a cat called Church, dogs called Pixie & Doris
18. likes food starting with 'ch' - chicken, cheese, chocolate & champagne
19. accidentally went possum hunting once - never again!
20. loves swimming in rivers and waterfalls in Australia
21. strung pearl necklaces for her father's shop as a kid
22. is teaching her baby signs
23. likes making delicious desserts
24. owns a kimono & a yukata

Looks like one of those memes for blogs that got passed around so much 3-4 years ago.
Obviously I never made it 25. I wonder what 1-9 were!!!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Ugh, I am SO sick of today!

I really need today to be over. I really should be in bed, only I'm sure it isn't cool enough yet, so I'm trying drinking. I usually don't bother when I'm annoyed, I just go to bed and read so that tomorrow hurries up and comes quicker, but the teency bottle of German bubbly was beckoning me from the fridge. Souvenir from a student. It's only so-so, but why would be any good, since today is a shitty day.

No reason in particular, just stupid hot weather, and not really achieving anything except driving round in circles and making the heat worse by going from cold to hot over and over again.

I went to work and realized I didn't have a class just after I arrived. Neutral. I'm usually happy when that happens because it means an unscheduled break, but I was just kind of blah today. The highlight of my day was a new kindy class. And the shark cat roomba (see YouTube). At the kindy, the kids had fun, and the staff (I had six of them in there at one time!) were impressed. Little K-chan was so nervous before the class she was sweating (I wondered how the teacher could tell the difference, since the place had no air con) but was sticking her hand up for every turn by the end. Little T-chan usually stutters - but did not stutter once during my class! Okay, that made me feel good, who doesn't like a little ego boost?

The day went downhill after that, for no particular reason except heat and not getting anything done, except a job at the PO and the shopping. Failed to pick up the kids at Baachan's - Amy hadn't finished her essay. It was due at 4pm (and that was overtime) but she didn't finish it until 7. I managed to get Erica to her swimming lesson, but that was just more in and out, hot and cold. Back to get Amy and Lena, failed again, back to swimming, back to Stand, to school, then finally home and called to quit juku, dammit, I am NOT going out again, I'm going to drink. Well, eat first. And shower.

So I finally got that wine open, and sitting in one spot finally with the fan on me, I am now only sweating where body bits touch other body bits, which is gross to read no doubt but so much better than just sweating all over the place.

Oh, and Vanilla is in heat again. MIAOUW!!!

Monday, August 05, 2013


I only managed to be 90% lazy today, despite my best efforts.

Slept till 10, and then managed to stay there playing with my devices until nearly 12! Reluctantly got out of my pyjamas to go do some shopping, I got people food, cat food and laundry powder to help me with that 10% of having to do some work.

Work: one load of laundry, tidying the living room and kitchen, and filled two rubbish bags out of the spare room, one burnable and one non-burnable, just to feel I wasn't completely useless and was making inroads on the grand decluttering and re-decorating effort. Actually, I was supposed to work on that all morning while Amy was at her junior high sports club, take the kids to the beach then go to work in the evening... but Amy skipped club, they both decided they needed to stay home to get some homework done, and I realized my class is next week. Oh well.

Next up, pasta for dinner and we're going to watch The Hobbit. I may get home sick...

Saturday was so-so busy, with a meeting, and ferrying the kids to classes (Amy's art and Lena's T-pet idol lessons). Sunday we went to Alex's farewell party, FAREWELL Alex! Make sure you come back and party again! I wrote up about last week, so I'll post those too in a moment!

Friday, August 02, 2013

Three Summer Days

It finally feels like the summer holidays!!!

The first three days the kids were at camp, then I had a full day's work, then the next two days I was hard out cleaning and shopping and cooking for my Gion party, then Gion was upon us, with Amy taking part, then the party and recovery day, more work and then finally this week, Wednesday, Thursday and today were HOLIDAYS!

(Well, mostly. Amy had juku on Wed night, Lena had dance on Thursday and Erica had English and karate!)

Wednesday we hit the shops, Thursday we celebrated a birthday and today we finally hauled ourselves into a pool!

Have I ever complained about the rules at Kampo no Sato? If I have, please tell me to shut up. After Nakatsu public pool, it's a paradise. There's that 'lifeguard' problem again - just high school boys working part time - none of them even seen well trained enough to even actually look IN the pools, instead of anywhere else, preferably in the direction of the cutest bikini. But that worked in our favor today - they are also far too cool to pay any attention to the customers, meaning we got away with diving and jumping and letting the little kids on the water slide!

We went with Julia and Indy, and we were there for three hours - only a wee splash in the baby pool today, thank goodness, most of the time going round and round and round the 'nagare' pool, which had a current that pushes you around. What on earth are they called in English? And two swims in the big pool, and three turns on the water slide and none of it barred from use by any ages and lifeguards too bored to bother telling anyone off! Perfect!

The kids were exhausted after, I was too. Thank goodness Kanji called just after I fell asleep on the sofa from his favorite bar, and agreed to get us take out! So we ended the night with a family meal in front of a silly Japanese game show, eating izakaya food - fried chicken, potato salad, onigiri (rice balls), yakitori (meat on skewers), and potatoes with cheese - and drinking beer from the bottle (thank you Tomo!)

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Happy Birthday Kitties

Thursday I got some work done, and some decluttering! A van-load of random crap and old rubbish from the shed to the rubbish centre. They have a nice system, a lot easier than the old dump in NZ! You drive in, and park your car on a weighing plate, and the lady (who I recognized as a mum from school) gives you a numbered card. You drive into the building (it's a massive incinerator) where there are bays for various recycled materials, and big metal conver-belt shutes for burnable and non-burnable items. The signs say you're supposed to do it yourself, but in reality a bunch of workers descend on you to make sure you get your trash into the right place - and bascially do it for you. I've learned to just grab something, walk aimlessly towards a shute and expect to be roughly told off and told where to take it. They end up doing most of it for me! Wood and furniture; garden refuse and bicycles are taken outside to the yard.

Then on the way out, you park on another weighing plate, and hand back your card, and they calculate how much you brought and charge you for it - my van-load was 600yen. It would be cheaper to sort everything nicely and get it out on the right day for municipal garbage collection, which is free, but it's nice to get a WHOLE lot of crap disappeared in one go.

I came home via the supermarket with sushi for the Cat Birthday Party! According to our Vet's estimate, they were about six weeks when we got them, so he gave them a birthdate of August 1st for the records, so we went with it! We bought them katsuoboshi - shaved, dried fish. Humans also eat this in Japan, sprinkled on dishes as a condiment or used as a stock, and the damn cats will drag the packets out of the cupboard if we leave the kitchen open at night and attack the packet until they can get it open. We got them a few other treats, and some cat toys that were a huge hit, even though they didn't work as advertised (they totally did NOT fly) - I think the cats thought they were real, they 'caught' them and dragged them around the room between their legs like lions, then tore them to bits overnight.

We went to the city pool in the afternoon. I hate the city pool. There are two pools, one VERY babyish, very shallow, just a big round concrete pool with no activities and no shade, and a very deep lap pool. The two pools are separated by a chain link fence, and pre-schoolers are not allowed in the big pool at all. Elementary school kids are, but only with a parent. You can only go in alone from junior high school age. Meanwhile, kindy kids cannot be in the kiddy pool alone. My kids are in junior high, elementary and kindergarten - see the problem?

So Lena ended up in the baby pool, except for when I took her to the big pool, during which time Erica had to just wait on the seats there. Luckily they were both enjoying their first swim of the season enough that they tolerated it... Lena wanted to go in the big pool, but declared the baby pool fun anyway. Erica waited patiently by the big pool, but felt sad that she wasn't big enough to go in. Roll on next year, when Amy and Lena can go to the big pool all by themselves, AND Erica can come in with me!

It's run by retirees, and is so crammed in by rules that no-one goes, meaning it makes no money, so it has to be run by retirees, and not proper life guards, who can't watch everyone properly, so they need parents to go, so no-one goes, and they make no money... in an endlessly downward spiralling loop. It's open in three 2.5hr sessions, with an hour between each session, and you have to pay for each session. Last straw? Being told my Amy that last time she was there with her friends, they saw a man on the castle next door training a camera into the changing room. I hate that pool.

After that, Thursday was just Thursday - English lesson, dance lesson, karate lesson. Same old same old.