Sunday, 26 September 2010
At 8:30am I headed off to my Ikebana test. I made a fairly good hash of my arrangement. I blame it on the medicine. On the packet it says, "Don't operate heavy machinery". It should also say don't go cutting stuff that's important. The teacher who graded our arrangements came all the way from Shizuoka in a typhoon yesterday. She was really tough and needless to say my arrangement was not up to getting 95 points. Thankfully only one person in my level got 95 points, so I didn't feel so bad about it, but realised I needed a clearer head, not one filled with snot, to help me do a good arrangement at Ikebana.
Today we have been out to the house with a load of stuff. We now have internet and telephone working! Yesterday it looked like the instalation would be called off since there was a typhoon going on outside and it would have been difficult for the line men to climb up the poles safely. But our appointment wasn't till the afternoon by which time the weather had vastly improved.
Today has been perfect weather, but kind of a bummer that it's Sunday and the landscapers have the day off. But I was impressed with the solar panels today. They were working at 999% which I imagine is full capacity and we sold 300 yen worth of power just before lunch! Having the panel in the wall to monitor how much power we are using will make us be more energy efficient I think.
After that we went to a dog breeder to see a puppy. It was only 3 weeks old so it wasn't much to look at although it was cute, DH said it looked like a "yaki imo" or a baked potato.
We will go back again in 2 weekend's time and see the whole litter and hopefully find our future family member!
Then we went to a pet shop and got some dog stuff that was on sale as there is huge new pet shop just opened on the way to our new house. So we got what in Japan is called a "circle" but is actually a large square cage where you can put the dog when you go out, or when you can't keep your eye on it. There is a long list of stuff we need which I will need to get before we bring a puppy home. Today's "circle" was a steal so we decided to go ahead and get it. I also found a clicker in the shop, the first one I have seen so far, so I got it. It only cost 250 yen and clicks well enough.
Thursday, 23 September 2010
There wasn't much to do really but they gave us this gigantic manual which has every single information booklet for every single piece of electronic equipment in our house. Every light socket has a info booklet. So after we became "home owners" we went back, in the peeing rain, to our house and unloaded our first load of stuff. We then tried to figure out what on earth our solar panel control panel is saying to us. It was going from 70% up to 120 and then down to 100 again. Turns out that 100% means it is generating and we are consuming the same amount of power. Over 100% is a good thing, it means we are selling our excess power to the power company. Since it was terrible weather today, the fact that the panels were generating any power at all was impressive!
DH beat me to use the toilet for the first time, and we practiced lolling about on the floor in the Japanese room. It felt the same as lying on a regular floor to me, but DH reckons it will be his position of choice in summer. Good. More room on the couch for me, myself and I.
Tonight I cooked up my squid leg special again and this time I managed to take a photo. It was as good as last time and we washed it down with a bottle of CAVA to celebrate being tied down and poor!
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
After visiting the house I had to go to work, which was kind of a downer. But we were having a kid's event celebrating 1 year of the school being open, so I had planned a kind of NZ style birthday party for the kids to experience. Well just a few games that used to be popular when I was a kid, so they are probably not done now for various reasons.
It was hilarious to see the kids reacting to the games.
First we had "The Chocolate Game".
The kids were a bit slow to get into it, but once they had definitely figured out the rules (I could only demonstrate using actions and English) they were really excited.
For those who don't know, everyone sits in a big circle, there is a plate with a bar of chocolate in the middle and a knife and fork. Each person takes a turn to roll the dice and when you get a six, you go into the middle, put on the hat, scarf and gloves and then try to eat as much chocolate as you can until someone else gets a six.
It cracked me up how the kids all wanted a chance to eat the chocolate, but once they had had a piece they chewed it properly before trying for a second piece. NZ children would be shoveling in as much as they could and worrying about chewing later!
Then we played "Pass the Parcel". The kids passed a big parcel around saying "Here you are" and "Thank you" and "You're welcome" and when the music stopped, the person holding it could take off one layer of paper. The kids were excited as each layer of news paper came off the parcel to reveal.....shock.....another layer!!! Finally they got to a box only to find that the parcel was inside the box and still more layers to open! Cries of "また新聞だ！" or It's more news paper!!! cracked me up.
Monday, 20 September 2010
Unlike an apartment where you have a lot of anonymity, living in a house means becoming part of the community of families that live in your "Han". A han is an area of houses which has it's very own "Hancho" or boss. The han then takes responsibility for things in their area. This includes keeping weeds down around the place and other cleaning duties, there might be a roster for keeping the trash pick up area clean and in some communities (like the place where my DH grew up in the country side) they have a new year and end of year shindig, when someone dies they all pitch in to help the family prepare for the funeral, they have neighbourhood net fishing with the catch divided between those families that participate.
Of course you can choose not to participate in any of these events. But they are "voluntary" which more often than not means "compulsory". No one will come and drag you to the events, but you will probably become an outcast in your neighbourhood.
So the first thing you need to do when you move into a house is go and pacify the neighbours who have had to live with the noise of your house being built for the last 3 months (yes it only takes 3 months). So yesterday DH and I ordered some "gifts" online. Now remember what I have said about gifts in the past, nothing exciting. I was told on good authority that the usual gift is either towels or some kind of soap/detergent. So we went with the ultra exciting double laundry powder and dish washing liquid set, which looks something like this. We ordered 12 sets since we are not sure how many people we need to give it to, any leftovers we can use ourselves. My good authority person told me that we need to make sure to give a gift to each person in our han, and not to forget anyone or that could mean big trouble, and definitely don't give a gift to anyone not in your han. Cripes. My good authority person has lived in this city all his life and has been a hancho himself in his own neighbourhood. I decided that we probably couldn't go wrong if we followed his advice since I know his neighbourhood is one of the more traditional areas where the families have lived there for hundreds of years as opposed to our neighbourhood where 20 years would be the longest anyone has lived there.
We are going to our house this morning to see the finished product! Today we are checking that they have done everything right and will get some info on how to use various stuff I think. We get the keys on Thursday! So this time next week we will be moving in.
Sunday, 19 September 2010
Anyway, on a recent trip to the supermarket I came across a large pack of boiled squid legs for a very good price. The head part is used for sashimi which leaves the legs which are still tasty but not as desirable.
So I came home with my squid legs (or 下足 in Japanese), and wondered how I was going to serve them exactly. I decided to go with an Italian style dish and started frying up onions, garlic with lots of olive oil. Then I threw in some mushrooms and some fresh basil from my awesome basil crop that just keeps on giving. Finally I tossed in the chopped squid legs (I only separated the legs but left them intact) with white wine and salt and pepper. Then I came across a bowl of rice still in my fridge from breakfast. That got biffed in too and there we had our squid leg pilaf! Served with grated cheese, Parmesan cheese and some greens from my balcony garden. I inadvertently created a masterpiece that would cost 1,000 yen in a restaurant. All it cost me was the 198 yen for the squid legs, and then the rest was all just stuff that was in my kitchen. The best part was the reception it got from DH who loved it and has requested it be part of my regular repertoire.
Sorry I don't have a picture. By the time we realised how good it was it was too late to take any! You'll just have to take my word for it.
Saturday, 18 September 2010
According to an article I read this morning, Japan has been slipping in the world rankings for education, falling behind South Korea and Hong Kong. In response to this, there will be something like 1,200 extra pages in text books from the next school year for elementary school students.
This is an excellent way to ensure that more students fall behind. When I was teaching in a Japanese public junior high and elementary schools, I witnessed the students who could not keep up in class zoning out (or acting up), I witnessed the kids who go to extra after school classes (called Juku) and already know the material, zoning out (or acting up). Very few students were actually learning anything at school all day. From the schools I have worked at, none of them tried to strata the classes and have stronger students learning more challenging material and weaker ones working at their own pace. Everyone has to go at the teacher's pace (which is fast enough to finish the text book by the end of the year come hell or high water)and if you can't keep up, although some extra classes were held after school around test time for those who needed them, well it doesn't really matter in the end cause you will still move up a grade and still graduate junior high, whether you have achieved a satisfactory level or not.Then once the student has been safely shipped off to a high school of some sort, a menial job or unemployment, they are no longer that schools problem and so the cycle continues.
The ultimate aim for students is to get into a prestigious university (which for many is a kind of 4 year holding pen where you spend a lot of time looking for a job for after wards). That means that students spend years preparing for the tests which mostly require you to remember facts and equations to get into a university and then the motivation to do well is suddenly all but gone, except for the motivated few who value their chance to attend university.
I have a new student who is 9 years old. He is already attending a cram school to study for an entrance test to a prestigious junior high school in 2 years time, which is one of the first steps to getting into a good high school followed by a university. This student's mother has asked that I not give him any homework as he is so busy he won't have time to do it.
I also had an 8 year old student who had to stop taking lessons on the doctors orders as he was having a mental breakdown from all the stress. At 8 years old. This might be more the parent's fault for forcing their child to do all this extra study, but it is with the goal or attending a good university in mind.
Friday, 17 September 2010
So here is what I made:
And here is what we had for afternoon tea.
Soft brownie and hot ginger and lotus root drink. It was only about 20 degrees here yesterday which is a bit of a shock to the system, especially since it was near the 30s not that long ago. So ginger drink was very warming.
Thursday, 16 September 2010
If you are interested please stop by my new blog at:
If you don't want to read about this stuff, you will be safely be able to read a post on GHW and not get an eye full of info about my nether regions anymore.
If you do have experience of being TTC and are not currently actively repressing that time of your life, I would love to hear your stories and experiences.
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
It is almost deafening in the evenings with all the crickets singing in the trees outside.
Today I went to the park again and although it was the hottest time of the day it was totally manageable compared to two weeks ago.
Unfortunately for me, Autumn also brings allergies.
I think it is a plant called Pig Grass that tends to flower this time of year. I am lucky I just get a sore throat and head, no itchy eyes or runny nose too much. But today I found this great stuff called Nose Block (花粉 鼻でブロック, or the quirky name they have given it: "Hana Blo"）that my husband uses during his hay fever season in the spring. All you do is squirt a little onto a cotton bud and rub it on the inside of your nose. I used it this morning before I headed out and had almost no trouble all day until this evening, when I needed to touch up. No snorting nasal sprays and hardly a sniffle all day. I also noticed less irritation in my throat and no headache today even though I spent a good deal of time outside. Interestingly, I looked closer at the tube tonight and it says that it was "born in Germany". I always knew the Germans made great drugs.
I miss the medicines there.
Other things I love about Autumn, apart from the drop in temperature, are:
Chestnut flavoured food everywhere
Beer cans decorated with autumn leaves
NEW RICE!!!!! (Yes new rice is much better than old rice)
Have I missed anything?
- The smell of my freshly washed curtains.
- A cup of coffee and a biscuit with my feet up.
- clean light shades
- dinner cooked by DH
- washing hung up by DH
- picking fresh basil from my own crop
- squeezing car into very last car park that nobody else chose cause is worst one in whole lot
- fitting "skinnyish "jeans
(thats worth 3 just there!)
- cool autumn breeze
Monday, 13 September 2010
So yesterday having such a good day was a real treat!
DH went to play golf. Usually we have an agreement that Sunday is our day to spend together but he hasn't been to play for ages and his mate had a discount ticket to a really flash golf course so I couldn't say no this time. So I was left wondering what to do with myself. First of all it was raining off and on, so it was tempting to just blob at home. But I had this unexplainable urge to go for a big walk round the park. I couldn't get there fast enough. Now for me that is strange. AND it was raining. "What's happening to me?", I thought. When did I become one of those people who just has to go outside in the rain to exercise?
So I drove across town and stopped by my house to see what progress had been made. No one was there so I just walked around outside and peered in through the windows. I didn't hang around too long in case my neighbours called the police or something. Anyway, from peering through the windows I could see that the first floor looked like it was almost finished. I think they still have to put the actual wallpaper up but they have some kind of lining paper already up.
The kitchen looked like it was in and the lights had been installed too. From tomorrow our solar panels will officially start selling surplus electricity to the power company!
Then I headed off to the park and did my loop. I met very few other people and the light rain was very pleasant and cooling. So I came home and had a shower and felt very pleased with myself.
The reason for my good mood? I will attribute some of it to hypnosis. I have a set of hypnosis cds for "Mental toughness" and "Weight loss". It is very similar to a guided meditation and no you don't have to worry that you will stay hypnotised after the session has ended or that you will end up clucking like a chicken or anything. I don't think I'm terribly good at it as I sometimes zone out and realise I haven't been actively listening but I guess my subconscious is, but just sitting or lying down and listening to the instructions is very very calming and I can always go straight to sleep after wards if I want to, which is much much better than lying in bed for hours with my mind ticking over. It's much better to put my mind to work doing something that will be positive.
I also talked to my mum who told me about this course for helping find happiness. One of the things that they ask you to do is write down 3 things that have made you happy that day, however small, before you go to bed at night so you are focusing on those things rather than the negative things that happened during the day.
So here is my list from yesterday:
1) I went for a 3.5km walk in the rain and enjoyed it
2) I reversed my car into the car park perfectly first time (*pumps fist in the air*)
3) The weather was cool - this makes me unbelievably happy!
So in an effort to keep this up, I hear by pledge to post 3 things a day that have made me happy, even if I have nothing else to post.
Feel free to tell me 3 things that have made you happy today, too!
Sunday, 12 September 2010
Japanese comedy that appears on TV has many times affected classrooms across Japan as students take a fancy to certain gags. A good example is of the comedian who came up with the "Kancho!" or "Enema!" gag. Even now, years later, many ALTs who visit kindergartens can expect to have a small child stick their finger up your bum and yell "Enema!".
Another gag that brought maths classes across Japan to a standstill was the 1,2,3!! gag by Sekai no Nabeatsu. I'm having real trouble finding a good clip of it, but anyway he counts from one to whatever and when he gets to a number with a 3 in it or a multiple of 3 he makes a silly face and shouts the number. In the following clip he has help from various famous people.
The other night I was watching アカン警察 or what I think means Stupid Police. It's not a show about acutal police. A bunch of comedians or entertainers gather up funny videos of people doing crazy stuff or cute or strange stuff and decide whether the video is worthy of an "arrest". My DH was laughing his head off watching it so I went in an joined him in time to see this one:
A book for teachers on how to use stand up comedy in the classroom.
Some of the ideas included:
Teaching the lesson with the book held up the wrong way. - Keep it like that till the students let you know.
To students who shout out the answer before you can finish the question say: "You must have ESP!"
Introduce the topic in an overly simplistic way: Now you all probably don't know, but there is an animal in the world called a "Fish"....
So my description has totally sucked any humour from these "gags", but I can totally see them working in a Japanese elementary school class room.
This book has supposedly sold 6,000 copies, so I hope that there are 6,000 classrooms in Japan where the students are having a laugh in some of their lessons.
Thursday, 9 September 2010
We are back to normal programming today, apologies for the terrible photography, once again forgot my camera.
Today's Ikebana is a real treat!
We used some very interesting materials. Please don't ask me what they are called!
Here is the before shot.
This is what my teacher did:
This is what we had for afternoon tea.
The tea is mugi (wheat) lychee tea, with some Royce's chocolates. Yummy. They also kindly print on the back of each kind of chocolate exactly what the percentage of cacao is. I didn't eat them all, only 3, still have 5 to go!
(Is that an actual sign of autumn?)
I'm off to Ikebana now. Look forward to my latest arrangement soon!
Tuesday, 7 September 2010
Today was a seriously stinking hot day. I slogged my way across town on foot, got back to my car and saw that it was registering the outside temperature as 41 degrees. Of course it wasn't really 41 degrees but it shows really crazy temperatures like that when I leave it parked on an asphalt parking lot on a really hot day like today.
Tonight we have a beautiful cool breeze blowing in through the window, because a typhoon is on it's way. I am not looking forward to the damage and disruptions that typhoons cause to people's lives, but having this respite from the on going heat is really really nice. Another bright side is that if the weather is crappy tomorrow that will completely justify me slouching around the apartment - I might even get some packing done!
This afternoon I was in my "cocoon of relaxation"- ie: at home, aircon on, curtains pulled, no internet just reading a book whilst lying on the floor of the living room. I actually fell asleep on the hard floor. All I had down was a very thin yoga mat type thing. But I passed about for a good 20 minutes and woke up super refreshed and dreading less the full on night of lessons I had ahead of me.
A few days ago I had this great idea that I should try acupuncture. I've been taking Chinese herbal medicine, prescribed to me by my long suffering women's dr, for about a year now also. I'm interested to hear about any experiences you fine readers have had with acupuncture. I see there are quite a few places in my town that do it, some are covered by insurance, some not or only for treatment for whip lash and back pain or something. Is it painful? I'm usually ok with having needles for injections and blood tests, but not so sure about having someone sticking them all over my face etc.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Monday, 6 September 2010
First there was the "wanting to kill people".
Then there was the "crying over nothing"
My husband should know that it was the drugs talking (really, I'm usually nice to him), but was distinctly bewildered when washing the dishes I started crying. He though maybe I was annoyed that he wasn't helping. Mostly I was just so over not feeling normal. But having a good cry made me feel heaps better, probably got rid of some of the frustrations of the day that I had been obsessing over.
So after that I decided that I need to censor the world around me somewhat for a wee while anyway. No watching CSI, reading news stories on the internet, searching online for puppies that need a home, only watching happy movies which I have seen 20 times and know every line and which bits to fast forward.
Not only do I feel emotionally unstable, but I also feel like my motor skills have gone west with my sanity. Yesterday I spilled raw mince meat everywhere and today sloshed sticky jam syrupy stuff all over the kitchen cupboards, on the floor, nowhere near my toast.
This afternoon I am off to work for a good 8 hours. Hopefully it will give me something to focus on. Oh and I'm taking the bus to work. That will mean the roads will be a lot safer for everyone if there is not a hormonally crazed women behind the wheel.
Sunday, 5 September 2010
It turns out that this time it was a massive earthquake in Christchurch. My mother and sister live on the other side of South Island so they were fine, but I have various relatives and friends who live there who I was worried about and especially when I saw the buildings missing walls, bricks everywhere, crushed cars and my aunt and uncle's neighbourhood flooded.
The message from my family in Christchurch is that they are all OK, big relief. But I imagine life is going to be very difficult there for quite a while.
After this shocking news, I had to get ready to go to work. I was having the worst pain day of AF- we are talking 7 on the 1-10 pain scale here - so I really didn't want to go anyway. My first lesson was teaching 3 little boys. One student is new and had not previously been taught by me. He kicked and screamed and refused to even come into my class or anywhere near me or look at me. I know I felt like crap, but did I really look that scary? So I tried to get on with the lesson and other 2 students were also on their worst behaviour. Recently I have been enjoying my kids lessons more and more but yesterday I nearly lost it and nearly"threw all the toys out of the cot". Luckily my boss joined the class for a while to help me manage screaming kid, otherwise I might have left work in tears and refused to come back.Thankfully my adult students were all on their best behaviour, even the usually trying ones were good.
I have been taking Clomid again. This WILL be the last time, if not because I FINALLY get a BFP then because I will be moving on to something else.
This morning I found myself looking at Lolcats and laughing hysterically.....usually I might laugh a bit or even just smile, but this time it was tear rolling down cheeks kind of manic laughing. It reminded me of the time my father had to take "women's hormones" to suppress his cancer's growth. He went from a joker who never really laughed much himself (just always tried to make others laugh), to someone who would laugh like a crazy person at things that were only a tad funny. Oh and he started crying a lot too so we had to censor his TV watching.
So now I know how he felt. I wonder if he had sore boobs too?
Oh and I know how you feel kitty:
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
Friday, 3 September 2010
DH and I had some great entertainment the other night.
4 times a year he brings home the super boring company magazine. We love reading the section in the back with all the birth announcements. Firstly DH can no fathom why you would want to announce your child's birth in the company news letter. But for us the entertainment lies in reading all the names of the babies. Some are usual, some are cute and some are just weird.
Having worked as a teacher in a Japanese school for a while, I noticed the trends in names across different age groups.
I will give you a list of some that attracted my attention, you can decide for yourself if they are cute/weird or whatever:
DH and I started picking out baby names a good 5 years ago. It's taken us 5 years and we still haven't managed to make a short list for our own future children. But the names just seem to keep changing and getting more original as time goes on.
Thursday, 2 September 2010
Today I drove to the supermarket. Parked my car. Went in and started my shopping.
Then this idea popped into my head that I didn't put the park brake on. I didn't remember doing it...then I had visions of my car, slowly drifting across the carpark collecting a few other cars on the way and coming to rest against the fence.....
I just about left my cart right then and there and ran out of the shop.
So I tried to have a stern talk with myself: "Now you are just being crazy, just finish your shopping and the car will be where you left it..."
Turns out that my little panic was all for nothing as my car was exactly where and how I left it, park brake securely on..
How is it that I can completely freak out about something that didn't even happen.
2 that were actually inside my apartment that got dealt to. 2 nights ago I was washing the dishes in the kitchen at about 10pm and my superior peripheral vision picked up something large and black tootling past. I turned to see another giant cockroach, this time coming out of the bedroom and on it's way into the living room. I hate to think how it got inside but anyway I shouted at DH to get his ass out of bed and deal to it. Which he did, good man, and it was quickly flushed down the loo.
The other 1 which I saw last night (also out of the corner of my eye, in the dark) crossing no - man's - land of my balcony in a big hurry to get inside. I closed the windows to keep it out and when I looked out this morning, there was a giant dead cockroach on my balcony. Not sure what killed it, but I did spray some bug repellent stuff around there the other day, so maybe that was it. Or maybe my posse of giant spiders who guard the balcony actually did their job and somehow managed to capture and kill giant cockroach. Thanks boys.
I have an unspoken deal with the spiders in the neighbourhood. I won't destroy your webs or kill you as long as you keep the bug population down and stay the hell away from my washing.
It works well enough since they are nocturnal anyway. I tried to take a photo of the spider party on my balcony at night. Didn't work out, sorry. Luckily the local spiders here just have a bit of an over population problem, rather than a steriod problem like the one's where Gaijin Wife lives.
Soon I will be moving to a more urban part of town, so hopefully you won't have to read too many more posts about my obsession with bugs.
Wednesday, 1 September 2010
One of the things this article said was that the human brain is unable to experience fear and appreciation at the same time. So if you are experiencing fear then by changing your mindset to one of appreciation, your fear will evaporate.
Interesting I thought. Could this work with Anger? I certainly have a lot of that stored up right now.
So that is what I am going to set down in this post, all the things that I am grateful for and ignore all the things that are making me the "A" word - I mean angry.
Gaijin Housewife's Offical List of things to Appreciate, in no particular order:
1) All my friends and family are happy and healthy
2) I have a job and so does my DH
3) My husband is wonderful and even gets up from a deep slumber in the middle of the night to kill giant cockroaches for me (extra points for that!)
4) My sister is coming to visit me at the end of this month!
5) As of today I have a great hair cut
6) I AM going to be a puppy mummy in a matter of months
7) We are nearly ready to move to our own home
8) Japan has unlimited high speed internet access
9) Chocolate- need I say more
10)Oh and I can drink a bottle of bubbly by myself if I want to - not that I will but I "could"
So as you cans see I have a lot to be appreciative of. Now to focus on that and not the other stuff!