Thursday, April 28, 2011

Get out of jail for free

For anyone who has been following this blog for a long time you may remember a post I wrote way back in 2008 about a kitchen door that I was "not allowed" to use for about 10 years as it would bring our family bad luck. Three years on and although we haven't won the lottery yet we don't seem to have had an excess of bad luck either.
Last week I decided to take another risk and get us out of jail too. We had bars on the outside of the kitchen window which not only prevented us from cleaning the window (a good excuse really) but also blocked some sun and the view of the garden. I finally decided I'd had enough of them so got the compact driver and basically pulled them off! I removed both the windows completely then after cleaning them tried to put them back in... not such an easy task. Eventually they went back in though and I now have no excuses for not cleaning the kitchen window......

I've been here too long!

There have been a couple of time recently when I have found myself thinking that I have been living here far too long. The first was when I was at the tax office the other day and spent close to 2 hours waiting for them to make a zillion phone calls confirming different things, finding the correct forms to use etc. When I first arrived in Japan this would have driven me crazy, but the other day I sat there, smiled, chatted about the weather, the neighourhood and the world in general, listened in on some other people's tax problems, cleaned the gunk out from under my fingernails and smiled, bowed and apologised for putting them to so much trouble when they finally got it all done.
The second time was when I found myself with the uncontrollable urge to go and buy a hotplate for making octopus balls and getting excited when we started pumping out the octopus balls...... Of course our octopus balls also include asparagus, sausage, cheese, kimuchi, shrimps, parsley and whatever else I can find in the fridge. We also put banana, strawberries and chocolate in some and smothered them in golden syrup for dessert... not very Japanese, but very delicious! I had some more photos but somehow they have been deleted from the camera. I guess you will all just have to come and experience it for yourselves...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sometimes I think Easter Bunny is a mind reader. Like many international families we struggle a bit with keeping up the English reading and writing side of things here in Japan. I find it hard to motivate the kids when there are so many other things that they want/need to be doing. So when it comes to "Western" traditions that can only be done in English (no - Santa, the tooth fairy and Easter bunny can't speak Japanese.....) I try to at least get the children writing letters, reading letters etc. Easter is one of those times and this year the Easter Bunny really pulled through! I'm not sure if you will be able to see the following pictures clearly, but if you want to try out our Easter Egg hunt (without actually getting any eggs... sorry!) then please click on each picture to see it a little bigger and have a go.
It took the children about an hour in total (Easter Bunny had found some great hiding places) and they really enjoyed solving each puzzle before moving on to the next ones. Although my children still believe in the Easter bunny (and Santa and the tooth fairy...) my son did spend some of the morning saying "I think that perhaps Easter Bunny is really a person - there is no way a rabbit could do this!".

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On the big size

Today the children only had to go to school till 11:20am - entrance ceremony for first graders... any excuse for a half day! I had to teach till after 11 and couldn't get to school in time to pick them up so they convinced me that they wanted to walk home and that I should walk from our place, meet them in the middle and then walk back home with them. Great idea, beautiful weather, big hill! I think I drew the short straw as I had to walk continually uphill and met them at the very top.... It was fun though and the kids were proud of the fact that they walked the 6km without fighting... much!
After a few minutes to recover Masaki helped me in the garden by pulling out all the daikons, turnips etc. that had gone to seed. He even discovered this every slightly overgrown radish. Yip - you read it right, this is a radish! Now if all the other veges would grow that big I would only need to plant a tenth of the seeds!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Real stories

A break from my photos today to introduce a blog that a lot of you will already be familiar with, but if you are not then I really suggest you have a look at. It is a blog by an amazing man called Jason Kelly who has started a wonderful project called "socks for Japan". Basically he is collecting new socks with letters attached and distributing them to people who are homeless etc. after the earthquake/tsunami. The stories he tells of his visits to some of the worst affected areas and the photos which accompany the stories bring the disaster to life - sometimes I find it difficult to get a full picture from the TV etc.
Anyway, his blog is
If anyone anywhere in the world is willing to help out with this project I'm sure any extra socks and letters would be appreciated.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


I have a very bad habit of not cleaning out my computer files and backing them up. The screen saver on my computer is "my pictures" and due to my cluttered filing system there are photos there from as far back as 2006. I am sometimes surprised by the photos which the screen saver randomly flicks up at me - great reminders of the past. Today I discovered a photo of my "top garden" that I had taken in 2007 and just by chance... on this exact day in 2007! By the time I got around to taking a photo the light was terrible, but it gives some indication of not only how much things have grown over the last four years, but also how the climate has changed. I have plenty of chamomile plants still around, but they are no where near at the flowering stage yet. I did a double check of the dates just to check that my camera wasn't lying and this blog entry in 2007 confirmed it - climate change is here to stay!

Saturday, April 09, 2011


Today was one of those "it doesn't get much better than this" kind of days. I think it was the official peak in the cherry blossoms here and the weather was absolutely perfect for viewing them. Well it would have been if we had gone to a place where there were thousands of cherry blossoms. Instead we headed to the park with friends and sat around chatting while the kids played and played and played. We came away sunburned and happy!
Today's gallery is some flowers around our house, which have now really passed their peak. The problem with spring is that it passes far too fast and is followed by Japanese summer....


So much for a few pictures every day! I've spent the last couple of days trying to get rid of some of the weeds in the garden and as a result ended up falling asleep on the sofa at about 9:30pm last night and not waking up till 6:30am....hence the lack of photos yesterday!
Spring has definitely arrived here and although a lot of the blossom has already finished I discovered a lot of new "life" in the garden today that is just about to burst open. Here's hoping the weeds stay down long enough for them to reach their full potential.....
You should be able to click on the photo for a closer look.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

A photo collage a day....

I have been so bad about writing blog entries lately that I've decided to stop writing for a bit and just give you a few photos every day to show you what has been going on here. Firstly a few random ones from Aussie. 40 kids, 2 weeks, 2 slight concussions, a broken finger, one kid left on a bus - all in all not too bad as far as "holidays" go! We had pretty much perfect weather and I think everyone had a great time.
Back to school here tomorrow - for the morning anyway. I just don't understand the Japanese system. One morning back at school tomorrow to basically find out who their teachers are and get their textbooks - home by 11:30am and then another 2 days off for the weekend.... why they don't just start properly on Monday I don't know!
So much for just giving you a few pictures... perhaps tomorrow I will be able to control my fingers more.