Friday, November 27, 2009

you know what...and then...some of that other stuff...

Even though I knew the holiday was coming, since we don't really celebrate here, it was always "coming soon". I wrote "what I am thankful for" comments over at "that other place I've been hanging out" and still...when Thursday dawned bright and shiny, it all sort just came and fwapped me in the face..."It's Thanksgiving, dammit."

I got kind of blue and then the world seemed to be ganging up against car had obviously lost its secret protection shield against other stupid drivers....the boys and I seemed to be from completely different worlds.....AND...some lady tried to take me out as I was standing in line at the supermarket. Yuh-huh...she did. She cruised her cart right into my might have been more of a sideswipe. But, she definitely nailed me. It's not like I'm not a tall, blond foreign woman and standing head and shoulders above pretty much everyone in the store....

I am sooo glad to find out that my "powers of invisibility"
have finally kicked in!!!

Fast forward a few more hours...a glass (or three) of ice wine and then a hot bath and I was feeling better. The loneliness I was feeling had disappeared and things were back to as normal as it can get here. I have some things that will keep us busy this weekend and then it will be....**drum roll please**....time to get the Christmas decorations out!!! The boys are already asking about what we are going to do....we love Christmas here at the Kuroiwa house!!

And now...because it's Friday.....

.....something that one of the little girls I teach made for me. I love it!!!

A small package from home that is just chock full of many things I love....

~~Thanks, Mom~~

At the front of our house, we have a huge tree that has grown over the walkway. The other morning, as Issei was waiting for his little brother--we both thought the tree was starting to look like either a large duck or a dog.
This picture was one that was just begging to be taken!!

Let's see.....

Chocolate.... goooood.

Potato chips of the ripply kind....yummmmmm

Chocolate-covered potato chips???
Oh. My. Goodness gracious great balls of fire!!!
Yummilicious.....dangerously so....can. not. stop. eating!!

I hope this finds you enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday with the ones you love most. If you ventured out for Black Friday sales...I hope you had a successful trip...and survived the madness.
Oh...and just for the record......
I'm thankful for many, friends, good health...and of course, for YOU...thank you for visiting me here....your friendship....your comments (when you leave them!!)...are greatly appreciated!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

taking something and making it uniquely mine

Japan is a country that is famous for its everyday use of the surgical mask. At any given time on any given day you will find someone wearing one. Whether they have a cold or allergies, those around them can only guess as to why they are wearing the mask. The mask is to help protect others from any germs that you might be tossing about...or to protect yourself from catching anything flying around in the air.

(FYI....the other day I read where teachers were now expected to teach their student the correct way to sneeze and/or cough---by turning one's head or by covering one's mouth with arm, hand or even better, a tissue or handkerchief. As a westerner, my first response to that was "Du-uh!")

These days, thanks to the swine flu, it is more often than not, you see people wearing these masks. Last week at the boys' school, there was a culture festival and a memo was sent home the day before, reminding everyone to wear their masks to the festival...we all had them on. Only those students about to perform were allowed to take theirs off.

At the stores, you can find a bevy of masks to choose from: adult or child sizes, cotton or other materials, with germ-fighting medicine or not, generic shape or face forming shape, you can choose men's or women's....the list is endless
Some even have pictures on them....personally, the Hello Kitty ones are my favorite (but they really don't come in adult sizes. Damn.)

The other day, I was at one of my friend's restaurant and she was in the back sewing masks for her grandchildren. I commented that they were really cute and was she going to make them in adult sizes? *hint hint* She had some very cute ones with Hello Kitty material on one side....yeah, I wanted one of those. The ones that the majority of adults wear are plain white...actually, kind of boring.

See what I mean....

A few days later, I went back for lunch and the owner handed me a small package....a present from his wife, he said. "How did she know I would be in?" The look on his face upon hearing that question was funny....his own thoughts of "Du-uh!" were quite evident. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I go there pretty often!)

Inside the package was own personal handmade, reversible, washable mask.
It's pink with white polka-dots and I like it very much.

But...once I got it home, I knew what I had to do.....

It's taking a good idea......having it made a bit more me.......
...and then really making it mine!!

Happy Flamingo Friday
Find something that many people have and

make it yours today!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The countdown has begun...again...

It is time, once again, to start making plans for the holiday party season. No, not Thanksgiving...the next one....Christmas. Because bonenkai ...or "end of the year--forget all the bad stuff from the past year" parties are extremely popular here in Japan, it is even more difficult to get a place than any other time of the year. Last year, for those of you who remember, I had a party to celebrate 5 years of teaching classes during this busy holiday time. My idea was to have the party as a "thank you" to my students who had stuck by and supported me for the last 5 years. It was in gratitude to them, that I went all out and planned such a party .....incredible food, lots of beer and wine, games and donated prizes from other students and a couple places in town, presents and finally door prizes for one lucky person at each table. As 67 of my students came and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, my thinking was that every 2 years or so, I might do this.

Fast forward almost one may be only the middle of November, but, according to the bonenkai schedule makers, it is time to start planning. Already though, there have been inquiries as to the possibility of doing a party again. At first, I balked at the really took a lot of time and energy to get everything and everyone to fall into place.

Last week, students from 4 different classes asked about the bonenkai schedule with the idea of getting their own class bonenkai planned and on the calendar. I came home one night and started thinking....I have, on average, 15 classes a week...two of those classes are with kids...everyone else, are wanting the traditional end-of-the-year party. These parties are not small events....all are at least 2 hours with food and drink (lots and lots of drink). Thirteen classes means thirteen parties. Thirteen nights of staying out late...eating too much and drinking, probably, more than likely too much...thirteen times. And all of these parties would be held from Dec. 7 to the 20th (or so)...and NOT on Friday or Saturday nights (usually).

Are you beginning to understand where I am going with this??

After looking at my own personal schedule and thinking about it for, oh I don't know, maybe 5 seconds, I decided that I will, once again, be having a Christmas/End-of-the-Year bonenkai for my students.
The date: December 18.
I called and reserved a room at the same place as last year....a hotel that specializes in really nice wedding receptions and other big parties.
There will be a bingo game with prizes....there will be some singing...there will be wonderful food...everyone dressed up in nice clothes...and there might possibly even be some dancing.

But...for certain, there will be a crazed foreign woman throughout this whole process (until Dec. 18, at least) wondering why the hell she's doing this again and muttering "someone shoot me if I mention this again next year", running around making sure that everyone has the best time.

Seriously....someone thump me on the head (lightly please, I'm kind of a wuss!)....or remind me every so often that I'm doing this for some of the best people in the world that I know (other than my family and some very good friends)...for some people without whom my life would be much poorer (in terms of money AND emotional feelings).


Let the madness begin!!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

less than zero....

...motivation, that is.
No, really. None.
Get ready, 'cause the fat lady is starting to sing.
I'd really like to get me one of these.....

...and fill it with some of this.....
...and then....then, I might be energized to do something.
Oh, who the heck am I kidding? I'd have three or four of those drinks and then it would be
"No, really, don't have to dance on the table...there is a wonderful
dance floor...right over there."
This past week has been full to the brim with busy.
There was a high school 8-man football state qualifying game (in my hometown in Colorado!) that two of my nephews played in (my brother is also the head coach) that I listened to on Sunday 5 o'clock in the morning, thank you very much (damn that time difference anyway!!). It was a very exciting game in which my nephew, Bo, was all over the field, playing his heart out and I had to apologize to my neighbor later for possibly waking them up at 5:30 (VERY exciting right before the half!!).
Then, it was off to spend the rest of the day with over 5, 000 other parents in the annual Nagasaki City PTA Sports Festival. It was fun and I had a great time, but...that is 9 hours I'm never going to get back....and my left arm still hurts from the tug o' war contest!!
Classes on Monday and Tuesday...Wednesday was the elementary school's culture festival and I spent all morning and most of the afternoon there, watching and helping out....I played 'rock, paper, scissors' for about an hour and a half with students (winners got a big sticker, losers got a little one!)...then I ran to dance class and hula-bula'd my butt off for the next 2 hours.
Thursday and today...classes, classes and more classes.
I'm tired.
Dozing off even as I type.
Good night, my luvs...sweet dreams!!
Hear's the Fat Lady....
here she comes....
"The hiiiills are aliiiiiiiive...with the sounnnnnd of la lala..."

Friday, November 06, 2009

....of treasures that come in the mail....

Some days, when I come home and check the mail box, I'm lucky to find a flier for a local pizza delivery service or a postcard telling me of the weekly specials at a particular shop...or woohoo!! credit card bill. Every other week or so, I get a packet from my mom filled with newspapers, clippings, maybe some smooshed chocolate, and sometimes even cosmetic samples....which I appreciate oh so very much, but the credit card bills and fliers, I know that it will be there.

So, last week, when I came home to find a box....a pretty good sized box (which, I have to admit, has already been re-used and is on its way BACK to the States to someone else!) sitting on the kitchen table (it wouldn't fit in the mailbox!!)....I was verily excited!!

A few months ago, one of my very good blogging friends--who I've never actually met, by the way--and who used to live in Japan--mentioned that there were some things that she really missed from this place I call 'home' and being the nice person I am (uh-huh...I am so), I put together a care package for her (and her dog) and sent it on its way.

And now....Janet returned the niceness and sent some "stuff from home" that she thought I would like. It was almost like Christmas.....lots of tissue paper hiding some incredibly wonderful things. The excitement was almost overwhelming!!!

She had included some things that I had mentioned I liked (granola bars..which have been rationed like you wouldn't believe!!)....some wicked smelling scents from a place I plan on ordering from soon ( of my students said I smelled "mysterious"!!), there were some magnets from the East Coast--one with beach sandals....but....there was one thing that really, brought tears to my eyes.

This pin.....

...was one she found among her late mother's things

as she and her family were getting ready to sell their family house.
Her mom, you see, was also a big fan of this beautiful bird.

I'm almost afraid to wear it. The very idea that she would send me this means the world to me. Even Issei, when he saw it, said, "Mom!! Do you know what that is?!?!"

Once again, I've been touched by the kindness of those I have "met" through this blogging experience....I have some incredible friends.

Now...Janet...while being very kind and giving...also has a bit of a mean streak in her.
Oh yes, she does. I'm a big (HUGE) fan of Jimmy Buffett. dear friend, Janet...passed on some things......

...two Cd's...a hat....a couple of key you see that really white piece of paper sitting on top of the hat???

Can't read it?

Here...let me bring it in a bit closer, shall I???? a concert ticket stub from a Jimmy Buffett concert that she went to in 1998.

Oh, wait...did you NOT know that I have NEVER BEEN TO ONE OF HIS CONCERTS?!?!?!

I know she meant well...but...really....that was just mean.

o(~_~)o she got back into my good graces with these....

a beautiful pair of angel did she know that I have a small angel collection that is slowly growing?!?!

Janet is an avid collector of poppets. What is a poppet, you ask? Well...poppet is the old spelling of "puppet" and from Middle English popet, meaning small child or doll. (The pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean used it a couple of times.)
According to "that place we all go to that is like an Internet encyclopedia"...a poppet is also something that is used in witchcraft and voodoo....for casting spells.
But...take a look at this little poppet...does she look voodoo-ish to you??

Nah....she's not like that. Isn't she pretty??

I've named her Dulcie J.....

her name means "sweet". I think it's the perfect name for her.

Dulcie J being introduced to some of the 'mingos in the menagerie that is Debbie's desk.......

.......and watching over me, from her place above my keyboard....keeping an eye on things. When I see her, she makes me smile.

And so...
to Janet....
for brightening my day....

Thank you, oh so very much!!

Janet is having some pretty intense surgery right now (probably even as I type), so send some prayers, good thoughts and quick recovery karma her way, would you? thanks.

And to the rest of you....**mwah** to you too!!

Have a wonderful weekend!!!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Going Green for The Colony

I like going over to the The Women's Colony and reading what they have going on...if you're not familiar with this place, you need to be. It's like a 'women's Internet magazine...full of Arts, Letters, Feminine Shenanigans' ....they have a few "rooms" you can visit...hang out of my personal favorites is one called The Cabana....go there if you're in the mood for "some mancake with your coffee".

This week I decided to join the photo challenge that is held weekly in The Sanctuary and this week's color is GREEN. I didn't go out and take any special pictures for this...I just took some that were in my photo albums.

And so I give you....Green, by debbieK:

1. place mats I made a few months ago

2. basil in our garden

3. bento and thermos for Koji

4. cucumbers from our neighbor yesterday

5. one of my favorite key chains

6. a quilted bag made by someone's grandma

7. Issei...this summer at the fair in Colorado

8. a flamingo decoration I saw and wished I had bought this summer

9. a rooftop summer beer garden here in Nagasaki