Friday, April 30, 2010

That thing I do and.........A Giveaway of the Debbie kind!

The 'mingos are living dangerously today...they obviously are not familiar with the sparrows at feeding time.

A few weeks ago, I posted my 500th post and I had plans to have a giveaway or something of that manner to celebrate.  Well, here we are, post #515 and guess what?
I think it's finally time.
Since I'm all about passing on fun stuff that I find here in Japan
(remember the zori giveaway?), I'm going to do it again...but not zori...something else...
I have put together some things for 2 lucky readers that I think you're going to get a kick out of.
Here we go......
There are 4 items that will be given away in a very tightly wrapped bundle (weighing less than 2,000 grams so as not to cost the proverbial arm & leg)....
*a noren (both have traditional Nagasaki designs on is a kite design unique to Nagasaki and the other has a Dragon Dance picture from one of our biggest festivals here in the city)
*a small towel made from soy fibers (great for helping to get rid of dry skin...we use ours in the bath)
*a t-shirt with funny English ('cause everyone needs at least one of those!!)
*a pair of your very own Miracle Sox!!
(You can read about those HERE if you don't know what I'm talking about!)'s the plan....
You want some of these goodies...
leave a comment.
That's it.
A comment will get you a chance to win.
How easy is that, huh?
And since I don't accept annonymous comments, you can leave a comment over at the post on that "social networking site" (that rhymes with Space Mook) know...if you're my friend (^-^).
See....I'm pretty easy to work with here!!

You have until next Saturday...MY next Saturday night...May 8... to leave a comment here...
You might want to tell me which noren you'd like to have...that would make it easier, you know...
when you win!!
And yes, as I have mentioned before, I am a comment ho, so...
1 comment = 1 chance
3 comments = 3 chances

Are you feeling lucky?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The one where debbie gives a shout out to her favorite tranny...

Today was a holiday here in Japan....Showa Day....the start (for many if they take tomorrow off also) of Golden Week (which is really only 3 days, but this year we also have Saturday and Sunday so it's Golden almost Week ).
Today, I treated myself to something I only do 4 or 5 times a year.  I wish I could do it more but...some things don't work out that way.
I got a haircut.
I know you may be saying to yourself, "It's a haircut,'s not really that big of a deal."
And depending on where you go, it might not be, but...where I go?  It's a treat.

When I first sit down in the chair, it's just like any other place in any salon in the States (or anywhere else, for that matter, possibly).
Then, a girl, who just started in March, brushes out my hair and says she'll wash my hair now...
and that, my friends,
is the beginning of the before mentioned treat part.
I walk to the sink area and have a seat in the chair....which looks like a dentist chair, actually...and the girl puts a very nice, fluffy towel over my legs...
....and the chair begins to recline....

Before she puts the little warm towel over my eyes,
this is the view I have:

(I tell the owner quite often that I can get her posters of some really sexy men to put up there...all she has to do is say the word, and they are hers.  She says she is thinking about this.)

Then the girl begins to wash my hair....and scrub my head...and massage my head...
and massage my shoulders...I think she might have even done a little ear cleaning, but honestly?
I tend to snooze a bit during all this.
And just for the record--I sat down in the reclining chair at 9:08....after the girl did all that stuff, wrapped my head in yet, another warm towel and I walked the few steps to the hair-cutting chair,
it was 9:31.
23 minutes of head heaven.
(Have I mentioned before how much I love a good head massage?)

So, I'm in the chair, verrrrry relaxed and the salon owner comes over "What are we going to do today?", to which I don't really have an answer...just something I had in mind...something kind of strange and since I don't really have the hair for the particular style I was thinking of but why not go ahead and let's cut it like that and see what happens.
I showed them this picture....
This is Ikko.
Ikko is a man.
In the entertainment world here in Japan, he is a very famous man.
He is a make-up artist (obviously!), stylist and he has written books and gives lectures all over Asia on beauty tips and fashion advice.  (The Korean women LOVE him!!)  He has his own line of cosmetics out.
Yes....look again....Ikko is a man.

He also has really great choices in wig styles.
And I want his hair.
Kawajiri-san (the salon owner who cuts my hair) is pretty much open to trying anything,
so she cut my hair in the same style as Ikko's.
And it really is, except, when it's dried and styled a looks pretty much the same as I always wear it.

(And no, I will not show you a picture of me slightly wet and can. do.)
Oh least I know what it is supposed to look like.  Oh, if I only had more hair!!
(Or a blond wig like Ikko has.....)

Funny thing I was, trying to look like him
and here he is....
trying to look like me....
....except I don't wear fur and I don't really look very good in brown!

I wonder if Ikko would give me the name of his wig place if I inquired?
Would I wear a wig, even if I had one?
Would you?

Friday, April 23, 2010

A memory that makes me smile....

This is one of my favorite pictures of all time....
This is me and my grandfather.
Though I grew up in the same area as my grandparents, I didn't really grow up with them.
Oh...I knew who they were but....not really.
My parents were married young and divorced not so long after.  My mom remarried and I became a member of another family...that first family, always there.....but, not so near.
I have pictures that were taken from a time that I don't really recall.
I really wish I could....this makes me a little sad.
I have flashes of events and things that happened....of strong hands...of a voice that is forever etched in my memory....
Debbie, Grandad, Grandma, my cousin-Shawn....probably after church...
As the years went by and I got older...probably around junior high or so, I started spending more time with my grandparents....getting to know them...the three of us, finding our own ground for a relationship and realizing a whole heap of love and respect for each other.
Grandad was a strong honest that is still respected in the area from which I am from.
He was a successful farmer and rancher in a time where it was very difficult to achieve that.
Trials and tribulations?  Grandad knew of both. 
But, he also knew of success and glory.
And for a man who only went to one day of high school ("not really worth the horse ride over there"),
he was one who appreciated and encouraged education and a love of learning.

Grandad played the fiddle.  He was from the era of working hard all week and then everyone meeting in someone's barn on Saturday for music and dancing.
Of all his possessions, his fiddle was of the most precious. 
Not a lot of people understood my need to find adventure...Grandad did.
On my visits home, he and I would sit in the living room or out in the swing he built that sat in the front yard of their farm and we would talk.  Or rather, he would ask questions about Japan and I would answer.
When I told him that I was getting married to the K-Man, he asked me,
"Does he make you happy? If he doesn't, it'll be a long, unhappy road.  You know in your heart if you are doing the right thing....listen to your gut, too."

After our wedding, Mom, me, the K-man, K-man's mom, Grandad

This was taken the first (and only) time for Koji to meet Grandad....
July, 2003.
Grandad, Me, Koji, Dad and Issei
4 Generations

You are thought of often, missed something terrible and loved more than
you could ever know.
April 12, 1911-
April 23, 2005
I am forever proud and thankful to be a part of Frank Willson's legacy.  He was a good man, an honest and hard-working man.  His sense of right and wrong were as much a part of him as his strong handshake, his blue overalls, and that tractor in the barn.  He loved his family, his friends, his church and this community where he spent so many years.  If we accomplish half as much as he, we will still be successful.
Though Grandad wasn't a tall man, he had the aura of being much bigger.  He had such confidence and yet was never afraid to admit he didn't know or understand something.  Of course, he would soon find the answers....and then tell you about it as if he had studied it for years.
I hope that my boys got that from him...that curiosity of life and the ability to never just accept certain things.  Asking questions...asking "why?" "how?" or "but what if I did it this way?" will keep the spirit of Frank Willson alive forever.

The music's fading, the lights are low
but please let me take this last chance
To say how much you dearly mean to me
and Thank you, Grandad, for the dance.
April 25, 2005

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 2 (of 365) and all is pretty damn good

(Thanks Cheri for the great cake picture...someday...we'll have it fer reals.)

So...Tuesday was the official celebration for the day the world was blessed with my presence. =^-^=
Tuesday was....a great day...a flamingolicious day!
Not great as in earth moving, heart-palpitations-great, but....still.....yeah..
(Thanks, Nancy, for the decorations!!)
The weather was a bit rainy, seemed as if anytime I ventured outside---no that particular moment...I kid you not.  It was kind of freaky
and very cool.

I spent the morning.....having some great ME-time....listening to the music I wanted to, reading a little bit, going through messages from friends over at that ever popular social-networking site (rhymes with 'spacemook') and making a yummy bunch of potato skins for my students in the afternoon. 

We are studying 'restaurant English' and one of the menus we are using had potato skins listed.
After describing what they were, I could tell that, even though they could understand the words and what I was saying, the whole concept of putting that all together was......"huh?"
So....being the ever "do what I can to help my students understand" kind of teacher that I am,
I made some and took them to class.
(And here you thought I was just an English teacher!!)

They loved them by the way.  General thinking was that
"they would be awesome with a cold beer".
I love my students.

And then......I came home after class to this
and these

(Which totally made the girly-girl in me stand up and want to high-5 everyone!!  Some of my friends have made it their mission to give me things they know I would never buy for myself.  They are usually so right in their choices....they make me smile!!)

Then...some more

Oh yeah...right there...are you seeing what I'm seeing?

I now have a garish IPod to go with my garish cellphone
(and pen and calculator and a host of other stuff).
It totally sucks being me, sometimes.
Went for dinner with my boys...
Nothing special...just good food that was really reasonable...and the best part?
Yeah....I didn't have to cook or do dishes.
THAT, my friends, was the "icing on the cake"....
Speaking of cake...we didn't have room for any (the restaurant was buffet-style)
 so I will make a strawberry one using my Grandma Hutches' recipe on Sunday.

Yep....we are in  "birthday week" celebration mode, my friends...this weekend I will be
having a nice dinner with some friends on Saturday night, where I may or may not put on a dress
but will definitely be wearing one of these pairs of shoes for the occasion:
These girls have been hidden away in my shoe closet for waaaay too long....
if celebrating turning 48 (uh-huh...oh yes, I am!!)  isn't the time to bring them out,
I don't know what is!!
(Personally...I'm partial to the gold pair....)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Random Monday kind of stuff......and I think I had a small explosion in my head last night (I really do!)

The colors that can be seen in our garden, in any given season, still never cease to amaze me.  Now...the cherry and peach blossoms are fading, the azaleas are coming in their full-bloomyness
(and yes, I know that is not a real word, work with me here, you know what I mean!),
but probably one of my favorite flowers this time of year is the kunshiran (clivia) that sits in a big pot by the front door.  It's bright orange and yellow flowers are so beautiful....and even when it's rainy, like it was most of the day, seeing those flowers brings sunshine to my day.

*And if you noticed the flamingo-designed welcome mat, give yourself a couple of points, okay? okay.*

A couple of weeks ago, in my Friday chatting class, we got to talking about (of all things) heels....mainly the dryness and yuckiness that our heels can sometimes suffer and with the warmer weather soon upon us, how we do not want to have anyone see that disgusing stuff on our feet.
One of the ladies mentioned some "miracle sox" that she uses and we were all very interested.  She swore that they worked.  Though the rest of us were a bit skeptical....we were curious and wanted to know where she got them.  (I mean, really...where does one go to buy a miracle, these days?)  She mentioned a particular catalogue and I made a note to check it out the next time I saw it. 
Fast forward a few days.....a small package from my student comes in the mail.
In the package....a miracle....and a note...
"Please try these sox....they will make your heels look like they did when you
were a teenager."
What did I have to lose, right? they are....they are a bit like support sox for your feet (but not as tight.....and did you notice the color??!)
I did like the instructions said and put on cream before putting on the sox (not a must, but something they recommended) and then....waited for the miracle.

After three evenings of wearing these sox to bed....
I have to tell you that
I now....believe in miracles!!
Holy moly..... my heels, where once I was embarrassed to take off my sox,
are smooth....and yes...almost like when I was a teenager.
(But back then, who really cared about what your heels looked like, right?!)

Hmmmm...I'm going back to that catalogue...
since the sox worked so well,
I wonder what they have that would help
my boobs...I'd LOVE for them to be like when I was 17!!!
So...the other day, we went to a new HUGE discount store that opened lately... it's all shiny and bright and is full of so many wonderful things and as we were oohing and aaaahing over all the fun stuff we realized that our youngest was not longer oohing and aaaahing with us, so we split up and went in search of him...all three of us making our way to the pet department where the lady there was cleaning the bunny cages and the sweet little furry bunnies were hopping all over the floor and this is what we found....

Goofy kid....I think we'll keep him...
but not the bunny.
Sorry, honey.

And then...yep...I think my head just might have tried to explode....
This morning was like any other day...
after getting the boys on their merry little ways
(and by "merry" I mean 'grumbling-why-do-I-have-to-go-to-school'),
I went about my morning routine....
wash hair...check.
cleanse face....check.
moisturizer, a little foundation....check. check.
right contact....check.
Oh, yeah. Broken blood vessel (s) in my eye.
Doesn't hurt....but looks like hell.
One of my students cringed and then said, "Oh this has happened to me a couple of times."
Really? Well....this is a first for me and it kind of freaked me out.
Has this ever happened to you?
How long does this last?

I feel like this is just the beginning and it can really happen....
you know that whole
"and then my head exploded" idea!!!!

Like being a tall, blond, not-so-small foreign woman
surrounded by much-shorter/smalerl-than-me is not enough...
now....NOW....I look like I'm bleeding out of my eyes.
Oh yes...this is very attractive.
Thank God I was having a good hair day or it would have been really bad.
I'm going to bed, now....I fully expect the other eye to blow any minute
and I really think I need to be in a horizontal position for this.
Good night, my dears.....I hope your day is a good one.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Something I could use for a "Laverne moment" know...if....when....I have one

No....not Laverne as in
"Laverne & Shirley"
(though I have had a few Laverne Difazio moments)...

I'm thinking more of this Laverne...

Yesterday, one of my neighbors came over and and brought me a bag that her friend had made.
"She made a bunch of them and gave me some....I don't need but one or two so I'm giving them to everyone around here. I don't know if you'll like it or not but...if you want it, you can have it."

When I looked down and saw the bag in her hands, I really had to concentrate so as not to burst into laughter.  At first glance, isn't really something I would carry everyday for shopping.
To be nice and thinking I could give it to my MIL,
I accepted the bag.

But...after looking at it, hanging on the back of the chair,
I have to's starting to kind of grow on me.
I may be having a "Laverne moment" soon, so I better be keeping it handy.

Oh...and the flamingos?
Being, well....flamingos (!!)...
they love it...of course, they do.
Silly birds.
**And just for the record...that's gold, shiny material on the inside....and
it's reversable ya'll!!!**


A quick math word problem:

If 6 Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs
are delivered to a house
with 4 people who love such eggs,
how can they be divided
so that everyone gets an equal share?

The package is opened up, very quickly and each person is given an egg to
enjoy (some a little more excitedly than others).
Then, as 3 of the people in the house
go about their merry, unsuspecting way, the 4th person, being the
total be-yatch that she is, hides the remaining
2 eggs in the freezer.
Screw "equal share".
The remaining 2 safely hidden among
the frozen spinach and tofu burgers...
belong to the 4th person.
The 4th person doesn't believe in "equal share"
when it comes to Reese's.
She's just saying.

Thanks smalltownmom for the great surprise....
{{hugs}} to you for sharing your Easter basket!!

I wish you all little surprises today....I hope that some
you can use eat
immediately...and some you can save...for later.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In my humble opinion..... to yellow or sterling roses, these are probably my most favorite of flowers....

...this 'green curry' and nan are really quite delicious and
we do so love a good dippin' dinner...

...this baby is in possession of some num-num-numable cheeks
*Her momma was my student about 12 years ago* totally makes my day when a student's daughter, who went to America for spring holiday, brings back some delicious See's Easter Eggs for me......

....and this....
this right here....
178 yen (about $1.90)
 and 145 calories worth of
Oh My God Bless America

*That would be a Creme Brulee Caffe Latte*

And what about you, my friends...what kind of IMHOs are you tossing about?

Friday, April 09, 2010

a sign....

...that someone up there truly loves me and wants me to be happy!

Thanks rawk the leftover Halloween Easter candy.
We've had a really hectic week and I'm we're beginning to feel it.
Tiredness is running rampant among the Kuroiwa's.
So....some pictures..a bit of a "Few Words Friday", if you will.,
Mom exhibiting her mad Anne Geddes' style picture taking.
Ms. Geddes has absolutely nothing to worry about. 
No really. 
She doesn't.
There is a very tall wall on one side of our the wall, the K-man has stuck
Rose Cactus (Cactus Rose?) in the cracks and they are actually
thriving in those cracks.

Something beautiful, surviving and growing in a really difficult location...
I told Issei,
"That is kind of like Mommy."
He snorted...then agreed.  I ♥ that kid!!

One of my all-time favorite sandwiches is a peanut butter and banana with honey sandwich.
Heaven on a slice of bread....Elvis style.
I have been scoffed at for this many times by the main man in this house.
He has, just as many times, refused to eat this creation.
And that's okay.
To each his (or her) own.

Imagine my surprise when I walked into the kitchen one morning...and there sat the K-man
at the table..
happily munching on this:

It seems that some semi-famous talent (tv entertainer, to you and me) introduced this particular sandwich on a talk show as her favorite thing to eat.
K:  "This is great!  Have you ever had a peanut butter and banana sandwich?"
D:  ........................................

The K-man now has one 2 or 3 mornings a week. I get it....We're only going to believe something if someone on TV says it...otherwise what is being said is...a load of crap....ignorable, even. 
Had I learned this interesting little tidbit of info about 16 years ago, we could have avoided
a lot of pain and heartache. 
I'm going to have to start paying more attention to those talk shows from now on.

At the lighthouse, at the southernmost tip of Nagasaki.

I wish you all a weekend of clear skies, warm breezes, avoidable aggravations and spending time with the
ones you love most!!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

~~sigh~~another we didn't mind attending

The other day, a good friend of mine in the States asked,
"Does Japan have a ceremony for everything?"
My answer: 
"It certainly seems like it, doesn't it?!"

The list of thing that Japanese have ceremony for is seems strange to say this,'s the Japanese way.
 Japanese especially like to officially celebrate the beginnings and endings of things. 
The most obvious would be births and deaths.  After a child is born, there is the official visit to the shrine to be blessed when the child is a month old.  We have things we do (usually...but sometimes we forget) when a child turns 1, then 3,5 and 7 and then 20 with a few more to follow. 
When a person passes away, the funeral is just a mere part of the whole mourning process.  For 40 days after the funeral, there are periodical ceremonies and then in particular years after.....until 39 years have passed (sometimes longer depending on the temple) family members will gather for ceremonies celebrating the person who passed away..

In April, entrance ceremonies are very common....everywhere.  The beginning of the fiscal year and the welcoming of just-graduated workers and those transferring in are the main reasons for one at a company or business.  The end of the year will be one to say "arrigato" to everyone for working so hard, "good luck" to those have transferred and "congratulations" to those retiring.  Every school, from kindergarten to university has a ceremony at the beginning of the year and again at the end of the year.'s the Japanese way.

Though I might complain (Who me?)  about having to go and find the right clothes (there are unwritten rules, here folks) and having to cancel classes for the day for any of these ceremonies, there is a part of me that sort of likes the whole process.  (But...keep in mind that the first years of elementary school, junior high, high school and university are most important and parents attend these, but not the others, usually.)
It's full of speeches that are pretty boring and kids that don't really understand the whole meaning's something you can count on.  And times where things are so uncertain, it's nice to know that there are things you know for certain are going to happen. makes the changes that are going to happen a bit more important to those involved.

That said....
on Wednesday
under the still-blooming cherry trees... 

in a gymnasium where the stage was set...
 parents waited patiently outside to enter and find their seats.
When the 8th grade and 9th grade students were in their seats and
all was ready....
the band began to play and
the new first year students of Nishiurakami Junior High entered.
The crowd cheered and clapped. 

When they were all seated, the principal made a short speech and then each homeroom announced the students in his or her class, one by one.
Upon hearing their names, the students stood up and answered in
a strong voice.
"Kuroiwa, Issei."
After more speeches and some singing of songs, the students retired to their homeroom to get their first instruction from their teacher. 
They also got some of their textbooks.
It was a great day.
A proud day.
One that we will remember forever.
Welcome to Junior High, Issei.
You're going to do great things.
Of this....your mom is sure.

And a little something....just for fun....
Issei...April, 2010...
Dad...April, 1970...