Monday, February 24, 2014

For the first time in history

Shijou hatsu

2 weeks ago, we had snow on the ground that stayed there. This was the first time this winter that the snow stuck around over the weekend. It was the most snow we'd had in almost 20 years.

When something happens for the first time in 20 years, you take advantage of it.

Hey, it's Saturday. The grownups can deal with the shoveling, right? The Pumpkin Daddy bought snow chains for the Pumpkin Prius, so I could go grocery shopping. The kids had fun sledding in the front yard, and the worst of it melted by the time Monday rolled around. 

The Friday after that, it snowed again. And it kept snowing right through Saturday night.  I think the city schools had their first snow day in recent history. And when I say recent history, I mean since I started living in this city circa 1986. And when I say snow day, it's not a "wussy city freaking out over three inches of snow" day. Sapporo/ Minneapolis/ Chicago would have a snow day if you woke up in the morning and it looked like this.

I think we had something like 70 cm on the ground by the time it was done snowing. Apparently this is some kind of record. It's the first time in nearly 120 years that it has snowed this much…and they're saying about 120 years because that is when they started keeping records about how much it snowed. And it was wet, sticky, heavy snow. Pumpkin City doesn't have a snowplow fleet. It contracts local construction businesses to get out there and plow the streets. And of course with snow like that, they couldn't get the bulldozers out from the parking lot into the streets, so the city basically shut down. When it got semi-moving again, people tried to go shopping but there was nothing to buy. It was like post 3-11 quake/ tsunami all over again. At least we had water and electricity and gas the whole time (although the snow got on the power lines and they snapped from the weight and some communities in the prefecture lost electricity too…how terrible for them…)

Our neighbor's car port caved in with the weight of the wet, sticky, heavy snow, so the Pumpkin Daddy decided to do what he could to keep it from happening.

He's our hero. Our cars and car port are intact.

I thought about getting a snowblower just in case, but for the kind of snow we got this time, snowblowers are not very helpful (they're good for dry, powdery snow from cold temps like they get in Chicago). 

So I think I will just buy a few more snow shovels. I'll tell the Pumpkin Prince and Princess they're grownup snow shovels that are a privilege to own and use. Think it will work?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Just a little shorter

Mousukoshi mijikaku

I think I bought this skirt about 12 years ago at Zara, back when Pumpkin City didn't HAVE a Zara. Probably one of those times when I went to Tokyo for work stuff. That was my thing back then (other than scuba diving). My friend and I would look for chances to go to Tokyo for workshops and conferences. Sometimes we'd have our travel expenses covered, sometimes we wouldn't. We almost always went shopping before/ afterward. My friend was of medium height, moderately busty and had a very slender waist. Me…none of the above. Back then, I didn't understand that clothing off the rack wasn't supposed to fit, so I always tried a few things on and decided I didn't want new clothes, I wanted a new body. But I felt bad about having dragged my friend through the shops in search of the "perfect" item, so sometimes I would just buy stuff to make it seem like I was shopping. Like this skirt.

The color is classic, the pattern is interesting. It's a bias cut on a lightweight fabric that gives it an attractive drape. The skirt was about 10 to 15 centimeters too long. The knee-jerk reaction would have been to hem it, but the hem is serged and rolled. This gives it a pretty "flutter" that regular hemming would remove.

So for a dozen years, it got very little use. When I did wear it, I would roll it up at the waist, cover the rolls with the shirt or sweater, and sometimes put a belt over the rolls to hide and flatten them out. The elastic waist insured its survival during post-pregnancy semi-depression fueled clothing purges (anyone who has given birth probably had one of those).

I finally got tired of rolling…plus, my post-two-baby/ lady of a certain age waistline needed all the help it could get to look flat. So I shortened it at the waist. I marked the "top of waistband" with basting stitches (the basting stitches also helped hold the lining in place during the alteration.) Then I gave it a new elastic waistband. I stitched all around on the "knit" setting of the sewing machine (it's basically a narrow zig-zag stitch).

Now it sits at just-below-knee length, perfectly hiding my middle aged knees but showing the taper at the top of my calves. My current favorite way to wear it is with my olive brown Uniqlo crew neck sweater, beige ponte jacket (part of the skirt suit I bought to wear to the Pumpkin Princess's first day of school) and olive brown heels.

Next up…the jacket I bought last November at H&M for 1500 yen (I think!)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Don't they fight?

Kenka shimasenka?

Yesterday we went to one of the local malls. I scored a navy blue blazer from Zara at 70% off. So, yay! While I was there, I spotted a bulletin about the "letters to Santa" that were displayed during the Christmas season. The main gist of the bulletin was that the letters to Santa brought joy to many and that they were sent to the local Shinto shrine where they will probably be burned (burning things is a way to send things to the gods. See Dondoyaki.)

So there's Santa, which is…an European tradition based on a blend of Christian and pre-Christian beliefs, and Shinto shrines, which are, well, a blend of animism and sun and ancestor worship.

The letters have probably already been answered in the form of presents, so it probably doesn't matter what happens do them…but I wonder what would happen if you put Santa Claus and Amaterasuoomikami in the same ring?