Tuesday, January 27, 2015

House within a house

This year the garden is lacking any winter vegetables.... because just as the autumn planting season arrived I was hospitalised and therefore didn't have a chance to plant anything.  The neighbours are very kind and often bring armloads of spring onions or Chinese cabbage, but it is always nice to be able to go into your own garden and harvest your own vegetables.  
Last year I had good success in the tunnel house from about now on, but this year our tunnel house is looking a little worse for wear - with holes in many places, and one door that has basically fallen off.  The new plastic has arrived to re-cover the entire house, but finding time to actually do it is going to be a bit of a problem.  In the meantime I have created a house within a house and have managed to get a few radish seeds to sprout.  Hopefully the spinach and lettuce seeds will also follow soon, but I'm guessing the huge temperature range that they experience each day may not make for a highly successful experiment.  Roll on spring...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Lack of planning

I'm back... actually I've been back home for well over a month now, but I am finally back in this blog spot.  The hospital experience is hopefully all behind me and although I am still struggling a bit with the medication I have to take I am slowly getting back to "normal" life.  I have bi-weekly visits to the hospital where they drain a bit more blood and check that all is okay before deciding whether to reduce my medication a little more or not.  I'm hoping that eventually I will be down to zero, but only time will tell.

One thing that was reinforced for me during my hospital stay was that planning too carefully only leaves you disappointed.....  In 2013 I made big plans to start my cookie/jam business and my mother-in-law died turning everything upside down.  In 2014 I made big plans to start my cafe-style English conversation classes and I got sick and ended up in the hospital for close to 2 months with some still unknown auto-immune disease.  So my big plan for 2015 is to not make any plans!  The only plan I have is to do zero teaching until at least April... and probably not again after that too.  I plan to take each day as it comes and hopefully the direction I really want to head in will become clear.  

This afternoon I decided to spend some time in the garden following my "no plan" idealism.  Unfortunately my muscles may not thank me tomorrow for the direction my no planning took!  First I decided to trim the trees in front of our house as I was sick of them hitting our bedroom window in the middle of the night and waking me up thinking a mass murderer was trying to break into our house.  I forgot to take a before photo, but I gave them a huge haircut, which of course then made the weeds under them a little more noticeable.. which meant I felt the need to remove the weeds.  

And then when I went to throw the weeds in the weed pile I had to walk past the big pile of rubble that we had removed from our old bbq spot and saw the old carpet that was sitting on top of it and thought that perhaps I could kill two birds with one stone by using the carpet to keep the weeds away and piling rubble on top of the carpet to make it look pretty.  And of course cleaning up the big pile of rubble at the same time.  

The main problem with this is that the rubble needs to be smashed into small pieces before it can be put under the trees... and smashing rubble with a hammer takes a long time... and a lot of energy....  Fortunately Emily came to help for an hour and between the two of us we may have completed about a fifth of the area under the trees.  I'm hoping a few more family members have no plans tomorrow and we can make some more progress - otherwise I guess I may need to plan to have a lot of hot baths ready to soak my aching muscles over the next few weeks!

If anyone has any ideas about hiding the septic tank covers please let me know... unfortunately they still need to be accessible as the poo truck always comes unannounced!

Rubble pile

Thursday, December 04, 2014


Katy tagged me for questionnaire thingy and usually I just ignore such requests, but as she said... I have a little time on my hands, so just this once, I'll answer for you Katy!  Sorry, but I'm not going to bother nominating anyone else....

As a background for anyone who happens to stumble on this blog... 7 weeks ago tomorrow I was admitted to a Japanese hospital with some form of auto-immune disease and am currently reducing the medication to a level where I will hopefully be released sometime next week.... it has been a long road, but a good chance for contemplation, relaxation and learning time-wasting management skills! 

Questions from Katy..... 
1. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Right now... a morning person.  I get up at 6am and start wandering the empty halls of the hospital on my 25 minute morning exercise route.  I was told there were no cameras operating, and I'm hoping that is the case.... otherwise there will be a lot of entertainment in the observation room as they watch the foreigner striding out around all the different departments, waving her arms in every direction, going round and round in circles, doing a few squats here and there and even a few laps of sideways star jumps and some skipping.... I go for an afternoon walk too, but it is much more restrained as there often a few people around.

2. What is your favorite season and why?
I would normally say spring, because I love all the new growth etc., but this year I'm going to say winter.  I am so looking forward to going home and spending this winter quietly getting back into real life, sorting out what I want to do from here on in, and generally taking it easy in front of our wonderful warm fire.  The perfect season to not feel the need to be out in the garden or rushing around doing things.  And of course winter brings Christmas... in Japan anyway! 

3. If you can chose between time and money, which would you chose?
Time.  If there is one thing that these 7 weeks have taught me it is the importance of slowing down and appreciating the small things in life.  Drinking your coffee while it is still HOT, brushing your teeth while not doing 20 other things, not feeling guilty about taking a nap when you feel the need, but most of all... making time for friends and family. 
Since being in here I have had visits from so many friends and family that I haven't been able to talk with slowly for many months or even years.  It has been great to catch up with everyone and has reinforced the importance of keeping in touch with friends, not just over a rushed coffee, but actually MAKING the time to sit down and talk.    I'm always looking for positive things from this experience and this is one of the major ones.

4. What do you think is the greatest thing about yourself?
Apart from the fact that I have managed to survive 7 weeks in a Japanese hospital without going completely crazy?  Probably my people-watching skills.  I love to observe people and I think it then makes it easy for me to make connections with people reasonably quickly.  This has been a huge benefit here - my mobile phone is loaded with people that I have met here in the hospital, that I have plodded up the stairs with, reassuring each other regarding our situations, and generally enjoying each other's company.

5. What is your favorite country and where would you like to go to next?
Japan.  Of course I love New Zealand too, but things have changed so much in the 18 years I have been away that I often feel more of a foreigner when I am back in New Zealand.
I have always dreamed of going to Turkey, but right now a holiday on a tropical island somewhere sounds rather appealing...

6. Cat person or dog person?
Cat - especially if it will snuggle on my knee.  As much as the kids would love a dog, I am just too lazy to look after it properly. 

7. What makes you most happy in life?
Support from my family and friends.  And chocolate!  I have always been a bit of a stubborn person, always trying to be completely independent, not wanting to rely on anyone for anything.  Asking for help has never been my strength.  This experience has shown me that there are times when it is important to ask for help and most importantly to accept the help without feeling guilty about it.  During this whole ordeal the support I have had from family and friends has almost been overwhelming.  I'm looking forward to being able to repay this support whenever the need arises.

8. If you could change your past, what would you like to change?
Nothing.  Bad times mean you appreciate the good times more so changing them wouldn't make my current life any better. 

9. What is your favorite color and why?
Burgundy.  Because... I like it.... can't think of any other reason!

10. Would you want to be famous?
I guess it depends on your definition of famous.  I wouldn't want to be famous in the sense of celebrity status, but I would like to be famous in the eyes of my children..... not quite there yet, but working on it!

11. The last compliment you got?
"Your face hasn't reached the full moon stage yet"..... and then I took off my mask, and was informed that perhaps it had, so I'm not sure if it makes it a compliment or not!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Taking a forced break

I apologize to those of you who have been checking this blog in the hope of a little glimpse into our lives here in rural Japan.... the lives are going on, just with a slightly different twist to them!
Unfortunately life has dealt me a few hard blows over the last month and I have been in hospital for the last few weeks.  Don't worry, nothing life threatening, but the need to slowly reduce medication means it is going to take more than another month before I will be able to be get back home.
This blog will therefore be on hold until then.  I do have a private blog where I am writing about my hospital life here so that my family and friends can get all the information they need in one place.  I'm guessing that I may eventually make it a public one (it is becoming less and less medical and more and more general Japan hospital life stuff!), but if there is anyone that would really be interested in reading it please send me a message and I can add you to the list.

Thank you for all the positive comments regarding this blog in the past - being part of a cyber community has been an interesting and supportive experience.  It will return, but for now I am just dreaming of getting back into rural life....!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Adults English Conversation

My adult conversation classes basically consist of one and a half hours of free talk in English accompanied by good coffee and even better homemade cakes.  There are always some words or phrases that people have trouble with so I use a small white board to explain and confirm things.   During the lessons I only wipe out only sections of the white board to make room for new words etc. so it is always interesting to see how the board will look at the end of the lesson.  On Monday it looked like the photo above...... art was never my strong point....10 points to those who can work out what we were actually talking about!

Monday, September 08, 2014

Trading up

No, I haven't dropped off the end of the world...... things just always seem to get a bit out of control over the long Japanese school summer holidays.  Hopefully I'll get some mojo back soon and at least attempt to keep up with happenings here and maybe even get around to catching up on some of the things that have happened in the last month or more.  Maybe!

If you have been following this blog you may remember an entry I did on the number of kilometers I travel every day ferrying my children here, there, and everywhere.  My car is reasonably fuel efficient, but still the monthly fuel costs were getting higher and higher.  After a little convincing we decided that in an attempt to cut down on some of these costs my husband would part with his beloved Nissan Safari - a big, diesel guzzling machine that really isn't necessary in our narrow-roaded countryside!  With only a few tears it was traded in for a hybrid Toyota Aqua... which has now been passed onto me and my husband has inherited my old car.  Getting used to not having to take a key out of my bag to get into it and get it started is taking a little bit to get used to, but I'm sure by next week it will all be second nature.  For now it is fun to try and see exactly how fuel efficient I can make it.  It has to be better than the 9km/litre the Safari used to use!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Off on a big boat

This morning I left home at 5am to take my son to board a rather large boat with 600 other children.  The boat is bound for Okinawa and in total he will be away for 5 days and 4 nights.  Having a son who is literally head and shoulders above all the other participants (including the staff) proved to be very useful when trying to find him among all the other white and blue uniforms!  I even had another mother from the same group come up to me and thank me for having such a tall son as it meant she could also find their group very quickly.
In true Japanese form the boat was due to leave at 8:30am and despite having to get through lots of speeches and get all 600 kids on board it left at exactly 8:30am.  If anyone is interested in seeing what they are doing there is an excellent blog that is updated regularly.  Unfortunately it is all in Japanese, but the pictures are great.   Shonen no fune   If you look very carefully in the third picture above you may be able to spot Masaki.... I could find him immediately!  Here's hoping he is still standing upright when they arrive back on Tuesday.

And yes, this is the same journey Emily took 3 years ago... only on a slightly different boat!