Wednesday, December 29, 2010

and then, before i knew it, it was wednesday....again~~sigh~~.

I can remember very clearly giggling when Granny would mention how the "older you get the faster time goes...just you wait and see".  I'm sure that, had the phrase been popular, I would have been all "Whatever!" whenever she talked about how time was slipping away and how she needed it to really slow down a bit to get everything done.  
Yeah.  Whatever.

I  wish that the time I spend lounging on the sofa, just
hanging in the light of our tree would be time that didn't really know, in
the big picture.
and then for a bit of that time, I have company on the sofa, so I'm counting that as
'time well spent'.
You might possibly have been wondering about the party for my students....the 3rd Annual Debbie and Friends Holiday Celebration that was last Wednesday....or not, I don't know.
I'm just assuming you  might be because I've gotten some e-mails from friends demanding asking nicely about details of the party.


First of all....the dress?
Gorgeous.  I looked so pretty...and kept singing that
 "I feel pretty...oh so pretty..." song most of the evening.

The party itself?
Was awesome.
One week later, I'm still a bit 'tingly' thinking about it.  Two years ago, when I first had this shindig, 58 students were there.  Last year, there were 47.
This year?
80. read that right.  80.
I had to laugh when the guy in charge asked me if this was a 'school party'.
No.  Just me.

The oldest student is 88.
The youngest is 8...with many ages in-between

I didn't take very many pictures at all of the evening...too busy making sure it all went as planned.
The pictures I do have are ones that students have sent me.
There was good food....and wine. Don't forget the wine.
There was entertainment....a speech (all in English) about Ernest Hemingway, some singing (one traditional Enka-style song and the other was acappella...opera-esque...Christmas music...I may have cried!), shamisen (traditional Japanese instrument) and bagpipe performances (yeah, of my students spent a year in Scotland studying the pipes, Highland dance and English!), hula (three ladies from one of the groups I dance with came).

We had a lottery style present giveaway.  There were about 25 gifts that were donated, most were handmade by, a decorative box, two hand knitted scarves from my Mom, a beautiful Christmas wreath, a bottle of French name a few. 

But, the most popular ones were the handmade bags that one of my ladies does....a few of them were leather, some were from kimono material, and then there were a couple that were a mixture.  The winners of those are never disappointed.
Then....a bag filled with 15 more presents (bags of potpourri, I think) was found, which gave 15 more people something they could take home.  I'm still not sure who it was exactly that brought those, but I have a good idea.  What a sweet thing to do.

Each person got a goody bag that I had put together. 
In each bag was a snowball cookie ("almond wedding cookie"?) that I had bought at a great cookie store downtown and a couple Peppermint-Chocolate-Chocolate Chip cookies that I had baked. Each bag was clipped shut with a clothespin magnet made by yours truly.
(Where "made" means gluing material and small Christmas ornaments,
then sticking small magnets on the back.)

At each table, one person got a special "door prize"....the K-man went around and drew a star on the inside of one clothespin...that person got a bag Pepperidge Farms' cookies.  One of my students donated a case of Veronas....there were 8 tables and  12 bags in a case...perfect.  Some for my students...some for the Kuroiwa Family.
Overheard conversation that made me laugh:
Student 1:  Hey! I don't have a star in MY clothespin!!
Student 2:  You. Didn't. Win.

Oh...there was also a glass jar filled with various Christmas candies and whoever guessed the closest to how many were in the jar, got the jar...and the candies!!

Sure, it was a lot of hard work. oh was worth it.

The best part though....was what they didn't see.

We usually bring a gift for a gift exchange...nothing too terribly big or expensive.
But, I decided this year to do something different. 

You know how sometimes when someone says "the grass is always greener on the other side"....
sometimes....we are the other side.

My grandfather, when he was alive, always donated money through the church...especially during the holiday season.  He also belonged to various organizations that were charitable ones.

In his honor and memory, my students and I helped make Christmas a little bit brighter for 37 kids at one of the orphanages here in Nagasaki City.
My family and I went toy shopping for the younger kids and then we bought gift cards for the junior high and high school kids.  Each present was wrapped and labeled.
There was a little money left over so I went back to that really good cookie store downtown and they put together little packets of cookies...45 of them....with three cookies in each packet to give the kids...with a few left over for the Sisters who run the orphanage.

My friend, Hisami, went with me to deliver the presents.  The students didn't get them until the 24th, but we got to meet some of the children and the Sisters told them that we had brought surprises for them all.
I got to be "Santa's daughter" and, Hisami and I both agreed that seeing those faces of the children we met, was just about the best thing to happen in a long time.
This wasn't a one-time thing....we'll do this again next year.

One of my students said that many Japanese will think about helping other they might donate money but not really think about what that money is used for or they will forget about helping out all together. 

So this? Yeah.  This was good. 

And made me feel really, really great.

Merry Christmas, indeed.

Santa's "daughter" and her very own "helper"!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

a short story about a tree....

When the K-man and I first met, a very long time 16 years a long time ago....I never thought that I would be where I am today.  Oh, sure, when we first met, it was fun and well, to be honest.....he had a car and I was pretty damn tired of taking the bus/streetcar/ankle express everywhere so the fact that I had this cute guy who wanted to take me places was just an extra bonus in my life.  Never mind the fact that he didn't speak English and my Japanese was oh so very laughable.  As strange as it was, it was a relationship that worked for us.

We met at the end of April...dated pretty steadily, especially after the summer holiday.   I took a trip home and realized that there really wasn't much waiting for me there, in terms of a relationship and decided that the K-man was someone I should "keep". 

That first Christmas we celebrated was a fun one.  The Japanese do the holiday a bit differently and if you're not actually a Christian (which there are quite a few here in Nagasaki) or you don't have a girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse/kids, then the day could come and go without much fanfare at all.  It's just a regular day here, folks.

Japanese man....meets the Christmas-crazy American woman.

Yeah...I know...Jeez Louise but we both look young!! Man!
Anyway.....see the tree?  That was/is the closest you can find when it comes to  a real tree for the holiday.  You can pick them up at any DIY or garden shop.  I think I got that for about $10....maybe.  Many of my students have told me that they have the same kind of tree in their gardens.


When the holiday was over and in the cleaning up process, for some reason, I just tossed the tree.  It was cute, but, it had served it's purpose.  It was almost dead anyway and strangely enough, though I will usually hang on to stuff until the last possible moment, this tree? Meh....I let it go.

Fast forward a few years.....the K-man and I,  along with Issei (who was about 3 at the time) were a family.  As Christmas rolled around,  I began taking out the many boxes of decorations and what-not that I have collected over the years and the K-man brings into the garden---a tree....a small tree that looks vaguely familiar.  It was a little taller by then, but...yes.  It was the tree from that first Christmas...he had kept it at his mother's house.

( big "aaaaaaaah")

He had seen it in the trash (oh so many years before) and being the man with the proverbial 'green thumb', he felt it was his duty to say the tree from its demise.  So, he took it out of the trash and transported it to his house, put it in a pot and nursed it back to health. 
It was in our garden for the 5 years we were there at that house.

Right after Koji was born, we moved to our current house.  The garden is huge (a bit too huge for us, but...we deal).  The K-man decided that it was time to plant The Tree.  He picked a place that he thought would be perfect.  It was right outside our living room window and could be seen very know, if one was wanting to look upon its beauty.

The place where he planted it, in the long run, was not so good.  He put it between two other trees and for a couple of years, yes, it was quite lovely.  But then, it began to grow....up....and up....and up...and even more so....up.  At the top, the tree was very pretty, but, it was so far up there it was kind of hard to tell.  (The neighbors who are up higher than us tell us it was lovely.)

So.....the K-man cut it down.
And  this year.....we have a real tree.
It's wonderful.
*Koji was NOT happy about getting his picture taken....
this was the best one of the group.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!!
Mele Malikimaka....
from our house
to yours!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

it all started with an Egyptian scarf and Maxine

You know how some days, nothing really fun or memorable happens.  Sometimes, you just find yourself in the dailiness that is life and you don't really think much about it.
I do this.
And then....something happens that makes me sit back and go "Whoa! That was fun!"
A couple of weeks ago, one of those somethings happened.

I'm still smiling about it.

One of my students had just come back from a 10-day trip to Egypt (I know...color me envious!)
This particular student went to Turkey a few years ago and along with the great stories of her travels and pictures, brought a scarf for me.  A pashmina/silk scarf that is just beautiful and one that I wear more often than not.  So, when she beckoned me over to her seat and handed me a bag (with Cleopatra written on the side!), I have to admit, I was a bit excited.

Along with a small bottle of lotus oil perfume (which gives me a new working definition of exotic, thank you very much) was another scarf.
Not just any scarf.
A silk scarf.

On my way home, as I gently ran my fingers over the smoothness of this lovely piece of beautifulness, I thought to myself, "This is screaming for a black dress to go with it."

Now....let me explain Wednesday is the 3rd annual Debbie and Friends Holiday Party
(Click on the link if you want to see the blog post from last year.)
It's the one evening in the year that I can really dress up. 
I had already decided on a dress to wear...kind of an old "new" dress that no one has seen before.
But,  I'm sorry.  That old thang will not work.
I need a black dress.

The next day, as I was messing around, stalking flirting around on the internet and in many of its lovely places I venture into.....I found a really funny cartoon that I posted for one, two, three, four of my thrift-shop-loving-friends who I thought would get a giggle.
"I'd do all my Christmas shopping online,
 but thrift stores don't usually have a website."

From there, it gets a little hazy as to how we got to where we are today.....but to make a long story short,
someone found all 3 of her daughters Christmas dresses for something incredibly silly like $20...lots of "oohs" and "aaaahs" and I may have commented that I was envious of this because I really needed a thrift store to find a black dress and I wondered if I could find which someone else said "well sure" which I then wrote:
I need something 16.....go.
(I may have also gently suggested that she just get her scrawny butt down to that store and check it I's all kind of hazy.)

In less than 12 hours, my friends....I had a black,
sexy and
the right size dress
with my name on it 
hanging in a room, somewhere in the United States.
And in about a was here.
(All for less than $20! BooYah!!)
It's perfect.
I'm gonna look gorgeous.
And there was a pair of earrings in the box, too.
I almost cried at that. totally top it all put the "icing on the cake" so to speak....the same day the dress came,
there was another box....same size...from someone else in a whole 'nuther part of the States...with this....

Then.....I did cry.

It was an absolutely...incredibly memorable day.
People ask me why I blog...or why I spend so much time over in that social networking site...and I tell them, "because that's where a lot of my really good friends are."

* am not going to show you a picture of the dress're just going to have to wait.
I'm building some drama here,'re gonna want to come back!
Oh yes, you will.

Have a great day, my friends.
May something memorable happen to you...or 
something that makes you feel loved!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Snow pictures, 'cause I can't get the video to upload.....

On Wednesday mornings, for the past 6 and 1/2 years, I have been going to a community center to teach English conversation.  This particular group started out as an 8-week course, but when the course was finished, they wanted to continue.  At that time, there were 23 people in the class.  Today, there are 22 students and  about half or so are original members. 
Though there are a couple who are young (where "young" = less than 35 years old),
the majority of them are over the age of 45...the oldest is 72 (maybe, I might have to double-check about that, but 'over 70', at least!).

Here in Japan, we have a special holiday on November 3 called Bunka no hi or "National Culture Day, for the "purpose of promoting culture, the arts, and academic endeavour". Throughout the month, culture centers all over the country have festivals where most of the classes give (jazz, ballroom, hula...), chorus groups, Tai Chi, various instruments--traditional (shamisen, for example) and not so traditional (guitar...), to name a few.  It's sort of a yearly recital for most the classes.

As far as I know, there is only one community center that has an English an adult group.
Yes, my friends.  That would be my class.
(Which goes by the name of SUNSHINE, by the way.)

Because it takes a lot of time and energy, we only do a performance every two years.
The previous performances have been traditional Japanese folk tales...ones that everyone sitting in the audience knew already, so the use of English wasn't that much of a problem.
Oh, don't get me wrong, they weren't in only English, but  kind of  bi-lingual productions.
This year....we did Snow White.

The narrator began the story....Once upon a time....
there was a queen...a not very nice queen....
...who asked her magic mirror every morning who the fairest was in the land.
" are the fairest one in the land." day....the mirror answered that the fairest one of all was a girl with "lips like a rose, hair like an angel and skin as white as snow"
(seriously...that 'white as snow" line was pretty close...damn. I need a tan!!)
Snow White!!
The queen was not happy.
The queen called one of her guards and ordered him to kill Snow White.
"But I can't."                            "Yes, you can."
       "No...I canNOT."                        "Yes...YOU CAN!"
"Okay....yes, I can.  I'm not Pres. Obama, but......"

So, the guard took Snow White to the forest, but....with her long, American legs, she ran fast and he
couldn't catch up with her.  She was pretty tired so she sat down and took a nap.

In the forest, there lived a group of little people.  They were returning home from work when they came upon Snow White, sleeping.
  (Amazing that the music from the band didn't wake her...she must have
been really tired!!!)

                           "Who are you?"     "I'm Debbie...from ColoradoooOoo Oh! I'm
                                                  Snow White...from the castle."

"How old are you?"                     "I'm 18 years old."
"Get away from here."         "Oh, please....the queen will kill me."

The little people decided that Snow White could stay with them.  They were all very happy.
One day, while they were off at work, an old woman
(and really kind of scary...a little kid in the audience cried! BooYah!!)
came to see Snow White and gave her an apple...a delicious apple and told her to eat it and make a wish....
But Snow White, not listening to the narrator one bit, took a bite of the apple and then promptly did a very lovely ballet-esque spin and landed in the chair, asleep.
The witch was very happy and made an incredibly evil laugh that really was kind of scary!!
The little people came home from work and found Snow White....they were very upset.
(Snow White, on the other hand, had a hard time not smiling!!)

Then, a handsome prince (looking strangely much like the guard who earlier tried to kill Snow White)
appeared with his horse.
"Oh, Snow princess...I love you."
The prince only pretended to kiss Snow White's hand (he was really shy!) but, she
woke up anyway.
Then she thanked the prince and  they all lived happily ever after.

The End!!

The cast...and the writer/director (far left, guy in the dark jacket).
It was a very good day indeed!!!
My "Sunshine" class is one that truly does bring sunshine to my week....
hence, the name.

"Snow White" and "the Wicked Witch"

Saturday, December 04, 2010

the blogpost that debbie "seinfelded" know, where she wrote about nothing too terribly important

Tomorrow, I'm planning on making a carrot cake for my good friend's daughter.  Her 18th birthday was yesterday and, well.....she likes my carrot cake (with awesome cream cheese frosting...of course!) so I thought it would be a good present to give. 
I've been thinking about possibly doing cupcakes.
If I lived in the States, I'd have access to some really cool cake decorating supply shops and
I would make these for a heartbeat.
But....I don't live near a really cool cake decorating supply shop so.....I'm going to
have to get really creative...or, I'll just give her a regular carrot cake (with awesome cream cheese frosting, of course!) and show her the picture of what I wanted to do!!
Yeah....that's probably what I'll do.

The other night, before bath, Koji asked me for a drinking straw.
A little while later, Issei comes into the kitchen, chuckling to himself, and said,
"You need to go and see what Koji is doing."
Preparing myself for Lord only knows what, I went into the bathroom.
 Koji has developed a desire for diving, it seems.
Hence.....the straw.
An ice cream bar to beat the crap out of other ice cream bars.
New York Cheesecake.
Holy mother of all that is right with the world, THIS
is positively 'pornography for your mouth'.
Outside....hard vanilla shell with bits of graham crackers.
Inside...yummilicious cheesecake ice cream....pretty gosh darn close to just 'frozen cream cheese'.
Oh, yeah.
Goooooood stuff.
Last Sunday was the annual elementary school festival.
In the morning, everyone was in the gym, watching each of the classes' performances.  There was singing, dancing, short was a pretty good day.
During the intermission, Koji and one of his good friends came over to talk to me and, well...
I had to take a picture of the t-shirt the friend was wearing.

And yes.....after I took the picture, I did hug and kiss him (small peck on his head!!).
His mom was across the way and was laughing...she laughed even harder when I
explained what the t-shirt meant!!!

I'd like to see if that particular t-shirt comes in larger, big-girl sizes
because I really would like to buy one!!!


(By the way....I have NO IDEA what Koji's t-shirt says. Obviously,
it was a present from Grandma!!)