Thursday, December 29, 2016

Day one


Not bad. Today, I--

-got out of bed at six after hemming and hawing for an hour, and ran 6k

-reviewed some English proficiency test prep stuff with the Pumpkin Princess for an hour

-pulled the dead plants out of the flower bed. I still have to fertilize and turn the soil, though. I also noticed the dead plants in the pots I have on the front steps.

-chucked the dead potted plant in the bathroom and replaced it with a mason jar of ivy cuttings

-bought rubber gloves for cleaning the kitchen fan and hair dye

-made hummus with yuzu from my neighbor's yard

-made pressure cooker chicken stock from the Christmas chicken, made curry with half, and saved the rest for tomorrow's soup

Hoping I don't burn out tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

New Years' Plans

Shougatsu no yotei

The New Year holiday is six days this year. It's shorter than usual, and the same as last year. I don't do New Year's resolutions, but I do do New Year Holiday goals, because if I don't I'll spend the entire time in the internet vortex besides the occasional moody emergence to fix meals (Why. Do. They. Ask. For. Food. Three. Times. A. Day) and reluctantly interact with relatives.

So my goals are:

1. Do an online course on a work-related topic. I found this website a couple years ago. The course was good, and I promised myself I'd come back. Guess what happened? So, I'm setting myself up to actually do this and get this done. It's supposed to take 8 to 12 hours. If I don't finish, at least I will have a good start for the New Year.

2. Make a drawstring backpack with the Pumpkin Princess. She bought a kit from school so that we could make it over winter vacation.

3. Clean kitchen fan.

4. Prep flower bed for planting (pull dead plants and fertilize). Yes, it's December. Yes, the plants all died in September.

5. Make roux cubes. Frozen cubes of roux make corn chowder and mac and cheese easy. I ran out of cubes in October and never got around to making a new batch.

6. Run x3 x2  x1 Hopefully 8k at least once.

7. Minimal New Year's cooking. I want to make, at the very least, an egg dish, and hopefully a couple more items.

OK, that's the plan. If (and I said if) I run tomorrow, it's going to count as having run during the New Year Holiday.

(eta: I also need to color my hair.)

(edited on the 29th: ran 6k and pulled weeds)



Dear body,

Thank you for giving me all those nice things to eat during that work trip (Pizza! Ribs! Tacos! Middle Eastern food), and letting me eat all those nice things for Christmas. I decided to return the favor by having us go running. You are very important to me and I want to look out for you.

So, I don't really think it's right of you to protest so much. It was only 5 k, and I'd run the same distance exactly one week before. It's not like I hadn't run for a whole month, which is what happened a week before. I get that that wasn't fun. I'm being understanding about the soreness from that time. But today? No. Just, no.

In the future, I hope you will be more appreciative of my efforts to take care of you. You should be thanking me, not giving me grief.

Because the KFC whole roast chicken was delicious, and I'd like for us to be around to enjoy it for years to come.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Bad luck

Un ga warui

The ATM I use is a booth with an automatic glass door. The door has a design with the bank logo painted on it for privacy/ security. Today I needed the ATM for multiple tasks, but I was ready to step out and get into the end of the line if one formed. I’m always annoyed when someone hogs the ATM, so, I’m careful not to do it myself.Every time I made a transaction, I turned around to check if someone was waiting for me to finish. Every time, I saw no one, so I kept going and did everything I wanted to do, very pleased with my good luck.

When I stepped out, there was a woman giving me the stink-eye. I apologized, and wondered how I hadn’t seen her. Then I realized she was slightly shorter than me and the perfect height to be completely obscured from my view by the stripe painted on the glass door. I pondered the potential effect of suggesting to the woman to switch banks to one whose window design would make her more conspicuous to ATM users and decided against it.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Speech contest


(short for speech contest)

In late fall, it was announced that there was going to be a “speech contest.” When I heard “speech contest,” I thought it would be an original speech that you did in front of everyone and you’d be scored on content and presentation. I pondered about what I’d say. I could talk about my experiences in my HS in Suburbia and compare it to my JHS here in Pumpkin City and say something corny about international understanding and blow everyone away. I’d been in Speech Honors in Suburbia, and I’d practiced with the Speech Team. The other competitors would never know what hit them.

Except I found out that it wasn’t a speech contest, it was a recitation contest. You recited a set part of the English textbook (it was a simplified version of the second half of “The Merchant of Venice.”) My interest waned instantaneously, but I was supposed to compete in the “returnee” category. The returnees were allowed to edit the textbook, so I made revisions so that I could include the whole story. I dragged out my “Complete Works of William Shakespeare” and tossed in a few original lines I thought were good (hey, no one else in the competition will use the word “perjury!”).

My English (non-) teacher was so pleased with himself for having not one but three returnees to take with him to the Pumpkin Prefecture competition. I wondered if I would find someone like myself. Even the two other returnee kids from my school had Japanese accents. No one was accent free, except for one girl from Buffalo. I hoped I would see her again in HS, but I didn’t.

And yes, I won. Even the girl from Buffalo didn’t have the presentation skills that a semester of Speech class and watching your friends practice Dramatic Interpretation for speech team will give you. They never knew what hit them.

Saturday, November 19, 2016



I always get slammed this time of year. You can tell by the blog archives. From late August to September, I’m on blog silence every year. I also stop running/ exercising and sewing. But this year the slam has been longer than usual. I won’t blog about work, so it’ll suffice to say that I will survive.

I’m usually jealous of Americans on election years because their votes actually make a difference. Here, you know it’s going to be the Liberal Democratic Party’s essentially continuous one-party rule. Plus, the Liberal Democratic party is neither very liberal or democratic. This election year, however, I feel sorry for Americans. Even through the filter of my reasonable, sensible, politics-avoiding friends, I can see how terribly divisive it has all become. And how disappointing it is especially for women of color. Since I am a full-blooded Japanese living in Japan, I am basically the analog of the upper middle class white woman in the US. This US presidential election will make me take a good hard look at my own society and what I personally can do to make it better.

I’m trying to de-clutter my clothes. I see that I have so many duplicates. Last weekend, I discovered I had eight (!) Uniqlo Heat Tech long sleeved shirts. I also have flared trousers that still have the tags on them. I put the sorry looking items and the stuff I hadn’t worn for a year or more in the “to chuck” pile but then I remembered that Pumpkin City doesn’t won’t collect old clothing on “burnable trash” collection day. You’re supposed to put it out on “recyclables” day with the old newspapers. Supposedly, they’re supposed to be sent to Southeast Asia as donated items. I certainly hope not, because I can’t really see my flared trousers in too-sorry-shape-to-alter ending up being worn. I’d imagine them in a pile of trash, like the one I saw a while back in Jakarta between high-rise buildings, which is another rant for another day.

In the interest of reducing the burden on Jakarta or Hanoi or Bangkok or Rangoon or wherever, I made drawstring bags out of an old button up shirt and an old Uniqlo T-shirt and an old cotton jersey dress. I even used parts of clothes for the drawstrings (the waist tie from the dress and ruching  ties on the legs of cotton jersey leggings). These are great for travel. You can open your overnight bag/ suitcase in public without worrying about people finding out what color underwear you own, and they double as laundry bags. (The blue bag I got a long time ago as packaging for a brand name dress).

Then I cut up the remaining cloth to use as disposable wipes. I stashed a few in the drawstring bags for quick wipe-ups of hotel room coffee spills.

Dinner tonight will be dumplings and bean sprout namul and egg drop soup and plain white rice.