Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday Morning Meanderings....

When I was growing up, there was a lady who lived on the corner across from the church that always had red roses in her trees.  Not in her rose her trees.  In her regular pine-tree looking kind of trees.  I remember asking my mom or granny to drive by her house so we could see them.  In the mind of a small child, any person who would tie fake red roses in her trees was just so cool.  She "had the nicest garden"...I loved it. 
As I grew older and the roses began to lose a bit of their brightness, I realized that there was a fine line between wanting to have springtime all the time in a garden and being a little bit...shall we say,"out there".

I thought of her the other day as I walked out the door of our house.  We have a wide variety of plants and flowers in our garden and right by the sidewalk is the hibiscus that I got for my birthday from some students last year.  It flowers a few times a year, so I wasn't surprised when I saw this:

I love my hibiscus and seeing the flowers never fails to make me smile.

I was on my way to the backyard to hang up the laundry and didn't think much about it.  But, while I was hanging up the wet clothes, something was niggling in the back of my brain....hmmmm...."Did I forget something?"
I finished that load of clothes and headed back to the front door.  Looking at all the colors and wonderfulness of our garden, I had a moment of
"Wow! The garden is looking really good!  I love all the flowers and plants."  

As I opened up the door to go in, I happened to glance back down again at the hibiscus...

Yeah....the K-Man had tied three fake hibiscus flowers to the plant.
I laughed.
Then, I had to admit that, while having fake flowers on a plant that was soon to be flowering itself, did seem a little silly....seeing those flowers made me feel good... a little bit happier.

Maybe that little old lady on the corner wasn't so "out there" after all.

Happy Monday everyone.
May you find something that makes you smile today.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

a little more than a day late and then? pffffffftttt. nada. zip. zilch. nani mo nai.

Have you ever had one of those weeks where oh so much is going on and as the things are happening you think to yourself, "Oh...this is going to be such a funny post." or "Man....I canNOT wait to get to a computer and tell people this."?
And then...when you get home? 
Nary a word gets typed....nor idea gets imagined...nor joke gets told.
This, my friends, is what has happened here.
Not sure exactly why this has happened, I just know that it has.
I thought I had some blogging momentum going last night and then...
ended up taking this
and making it look like this
Sure, it's not perfect...what can you expect at 11:00 at night, no real plan of action and material that really isn't suited for such a project.  It will be my prototype...which may or may not be used to make more.
I also realized that I have used that particular material before last year, when I made these

Ah...creativity...she is a bit of a fickle bitch, coming and going into my life...never know when she will turn up or what she has up her sleeve for me.
Oh...I also, in my endeavor to NOT type on the computer, went through a pile of pictures that have been waiting, patiently for me for about forever a few months to go through.
In one pile of pictures, I found a picture that I had taken about 16 or17 years ago.  I had used it in a book I put together for my nephews,
"Aunt Debbie in Japan", to share with them about my life so far away. 
This one was taken as I was on my balcony.
Then I realized that that shirt? That white one right there?

I had it on a couple nights ago.
Which made me realize that
a) Boy, when I buy something, I do actually sometimes, on occasion buy good quality stuff.
b) I really don't get rid of stuff, do I?

I'm hoping that tomorrow is better....or today, actually as it is very early in the morning already.
I will leave you with a 'better late than never' flamingo
which pretty much sums up my feelings...

Friday, May 21, 2010

little old ladies are the same no matter where you live...really. they are.

(And the Kuroiwa Flamingo Family just keeps on growing.....
Thanks, Mom and "Aunt" Karen!!)

So...the other day, some of the ladies in our neighborhood where standing in front of the garage next door,  talking about everyone else, I'm sure, in the 'hood when I got home.  I didn't want to seem rude, so after I parked my car in our space, I walked over to say "hey".  I was making polite conversation when one of them leaned into me and said, in a whispery, "hey, i have something i want to say to you and only, you" kind of voice,
"You've gained some weight...not a lot, but you have, haven't you?"
I mentally kicked her ass into next week patted her on the shoulder, and said
(mimicking the tone she used with me) 
"Yes, I have gained a couple of the way, is your hair blue or purple? Did you want it to be that color?"
and then I came inside
 and had a HUGE plate of nachos.
Strangely enough....this wasn't really a bad thing to have happen.
First of made me miss my granny.
But best of all...I had an awesome plate of nachos.


Happy Friday, everyone.
May you find the humor....and/or your day!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The GIVEAWAY winners and some "shit to the bull" that, sadly, is just a part of life

 The time has come, my dear readers, to announce the winners of the giveaway....
but first, I want to say thank you.
Thank you for coming here and reading...thank you for your comments and support...
and thank you, especially for your friendship.
When I started blogging in October, 2006, it was mainly for my family and friends back "home".  Never in my wildest imagination did I think this blog would become so very important to me....that the people I would "meet" would become such good friends...and the ones that I would actually meet, would become extra special friends, indeed.

And now....the other night, the names of all those entered (from here and FB) were written on small pieces of paper, folded neatly and placed in the bamboo noodle strainer/"hat".....
Both boys had the very important job of drawing one name....
And the first winner is.......
(but really, with no-e, sorry, Vicki)

And the other winner is......
~~Congratulations, ladies!!!~~~
The boxes will be in the mail sometime next week...I'll let you know when they are on their way!!

For the rest of you....never fear...the stuff is already amassing for another giveaway!!
Stay tuned!!

Someone commented to me one time that "life in Japan seems so nice, so fun".
I had to chuckle and then I wondered,
"Is that the way I'm coming across..that everything is just positively peachy?" 
While 80% of the time, my life in Japan is actually really good, it's that other 20% that kicks my butt to the curb and makes me wanna crawl in bed and stay there for a few days more hours.

As a foreigner living in Japan, it is more often than not difficult to understand the ins and outs and whys and wherefore's of dealing with Japanese people.  On a daily basis, with the neighbors in our 'hoods, with co-workers or parents from our kids' schools, we may find ourselves in a false sense of security.  We join the neighborhood groups, volunteer at schools, take part in programs throughout the school year,  we try to involve ourselves as if were were in our own countries, but....we're not ever ,100% accepted and we will, unknowingly be rude or disrespectful to someone...sometime...quite often.
  We bow, apologize, and life goes on.  Many things that happen around us, we canNOT explain or understand...but, the sooner we accept this fact, the better life will be.
Of course, we all have our moments of self-doubt, fear, anger, bang-your-head-on-the-table-WTFjusthappened-kind of all comes with the territory.

As in any society, any culture, everyone is expected to behave in a certain manner, observing the unwritten rules of society here in Japan is like watching a foreign movie...with no subtitles and no freaking clue as to what is even happening on the screen. think you have it worked out and could possibly figure out who the woman in the green hat is, but, when the duck walks in the room, wearing a tie?
  You just hope you can figure out how the hell he got the door open.
(If you thought that was confusing...welcome to my world.)

Now, sometimes, we come across situations where the Japanese are the ones 'in the wrong' and while we are waiting for either an explanation or hey, wait a minute, where's the bowing and the apology that should be directed in this direction (for a change), it seems that some Japanese people feel they are not expected to do that whole "bow and apologize" thing.
And I'm not sure why.

Lately, I have been in this kind of situation.
It sucks....and knowing that I am not the first foreigner to have had this happen, is not really comforting at all.
Long story short:
a group of supposedly highly educated people made a contract with me to teach classes for a year.  After the first "term" was over, we had a break and while I was waiting to hear from them as to when the next term was going to start, they hired someone else and failed to tell me of this decision.
I had previously turned down two other teaching jobs for this particular group.
Now....I'm out three jobs.
And from them?
No explanation.
No apology.
No replies to letters I have written.
(and yes, I was nice in those letters!!)
It's as if I was never there.
And there is nothing I can do about this.
(No, would take too much time, effort and money..all of which I have precious little to spare.)

I'm thinking that when they said "We'll let you know about the next class",
that must have meant "Don't call us we'll call you."
Of course, I could be wrong. 

I just have to remind myself (as much as possible)...
to stand up straight and smile,
to be positive,
to NOT let the little guy (with a small.....................amount of self-esteem!) get me down,
and that group?
Yeah....they did not deserve me.
(Thanks, Karen!)

"How is life in Japan?", you might ask.
Right this very instant, things are just okay.
But tomorrow...

I feel a Big Dawg kind of day coming on!!
I sometimes forget I can have these days to counteract that crap that sometimes gets tossed/thrown my way.
Yeah....I'm looking forward to tomorrow...and the next day...and the next....

Friday, May 14, 2010

It's Friday, brain? yeah. it's still Sunday.

 During the Golden week holiday, the family went to a local festival.
 There was a small art exhibition of a young artist.  His work was very simple and colorful.
A little too simple for my taste, Issei said, it looked kind of like Picasso.

As we were looking at the paintings, Issei stood very close to my left shoulder, almost behind me...
He:  Hey....Mom?
Me:  Yeah?
He:  I can do this.
Me:  Oh can.
I glanced over my shoulder a bit and he was really looking at the paintings, this time, a little more closely and the smile on his face?

You all have a great Friday.
Please come back tomorrow because, I will announce the winners of the Giveaway!!  Yeah, yeah, yeah...I know...I said it would be on Tuesday...well.....what can I say?
Tomorrow, my friends....we'll talk tomorrow.

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's amazing the things I find when I clean....

*or Yes, I know Mother's Day is with me folks, would'ja?

So....Mother's was yours?
I hope you had a great day...and were treated just a little more extra special than usual.
My day?
It was great.
I mentioned over on that "social networking" place that I was "trying to come up with a plan to get ALL the Kuroiwa men OUT of the house for a few hours today... THAT would be the perfect Mother's Day present!!! (^-^) ♥ "
And you know what?   
They left. All of them.
Do I know where they went?
Do I  care?
No...not really.
It was wonderful to spend about 4 the house...alone.
No music videos, no whining/fighting/complaining/pissing/moaning, no little boys running in and out of the house, no Nintendo DS, no one asking me every 15 minutes if they can "get something to eat or drink".
I had the house...the TV...the CD player...the sofa... all. to. myself.
If I could pass on how that felt to you all, a heartbeat you'd be feelin'
In those 4 hours, I actually got quite a bit accomplished.  In spite of spending a good portion of that time on the sofa, reading a book, I got laundry done, the kitchen and bathroom cleaned and some work actually done in my room.
And...I got flowers from "the men" when everyone returned home.  I was so surprised.
(I'm usually the one who gives the money and takes the boys to "buy Mommy some flowers".)

In that whole "cleaning of the room" process, I came across something that I thought I had lost.
Every now and then, I get huge tsunamis of inspiration.
Sometimes, I make stuff to give to the people I love the most...I've even been known to write a poem or two.  Though I am no Walt Whitman or Emily Dickinson or even Maya Angelou, I still put a lot of thought into what I write.
Which brings me to this.....a long time ago, in celebration of Mother's Day, I composed a poem for my mom.  It's not perfect and probably could be considered very high-schoolish, but...that's okay.
My mom liked it. 
That's all that matters.

Ode to My Mom

As I sit here with my glass of wine
and ponder the things to say
My mind is jumbled with so many wonderful thought
(and it's only a small glass, okay?)

It's Mother Day....aahhhhh yes...
that time of year we say
a special "Thanks" to our Moms for
the things you do everyday.

Some mothers do just the basic stuff--
Like remind us of about that "nice underwear" thing.
But it's a special Mom that goes the 'extra mile'--
"That's you!" (your daughter proudly sings).

Each week,  you send the news, comics, puzzles and
we mustn't forget that Letterman.
My friends are jealous and they ask,
"Where did you get her? We want one!"

"You mean...your mom doesn't do that?"
I asked sincerely, with a slight grin.
And then, "Gee.  How do you stand it?"
and I go home with a package, you've put a video in.

You are a special, one-of-a-kind Mom
and I'm so very proud to say,
"You...are my best friend."
(and I don't really have another line here, so will just say "Yay!!")'s with a ton of love that I leave you with this....
appreciation, adulation, veneration,
determination, consideration,
affection, undivided attention,
adoration, devotion, masturbation,
(just checking your concentration!)
moderation, moderation, moderation,
fascination, you need a vacation,
protection, photographic sensation,
a standing ovation.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.
I love ya!

And no...I didn't forget....
come back tomorrow as the
giveaway winners will be announced!!!
Toodles, everyone!!!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

What? It's Friday? Already?

How ya doin?
I can't complain.
But, see....that's part of the problem.
I can't complain.
I'm also having a hard time putting my thoughts into words to type out.
And really?
I'd just like to go to bed.
So guess what? exactly what I'm going to do.
I'll leave you with a couple pictures I could title
When someone says "I found something you HAVE to have"~~and they were right!!
From my sister and her hub

The flamingo and necklace were in with the rest of the goodies my friend Nancy (who is possibly en route from Florida to yet another residence in yet another state....COME BACK TO JAPAN, DAMMIT! (^-^))
Oh blinks in 3 different patterns, ya'll!!  Personally? I like it!

Oh...hang on...the fabulous blinking necklace reminded me of something that I chuckled about for a few days:

In the box of wonderment (think magazines, chocolate~of the peanut butter kind, hair products, a book and some of that oh-my-goodness delish caramel popcorn stuff), Nancy also put in some
of these for the boys:
There were also some of these, for me:
When the K-Man saw these particular items sitting next to each other on the table, he said,
"Are they the same?"

I seriously don't think I'll be able to use either one without smiling.

Have a good one, everyone. 
I hope you find many things in your day today that make you smile!!

Don't forget....the giveaway of goodies.
Click the link...leave a have until MY Saturday night
(which if you are in the States would mean YOUR Saturday morning).
Leave a comment....get a chance!!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

i'm going to need a few more days, Bob.....

See....that's the bad thing about a long-ish almost need a few more days after the holiday to get ready to get back into the swing of things.  I've got so much that should be done, but.....
Today is the last day of our Golden Week is こどもの日, Kodomo no hi, also customarily known as Boys' Day 端午の節句, Tango no sekku.   My boys say that we will call it Boys' Day as the girls have their own day in April and it's not really fair (zuruii!!) that the girls get this day, too.  I have to agree.

These were taken for Issei's first Boys' Day...the decorations we had displayed were from when the K-Man was little.  In many houses, families will display these items (which all have a particular meaning....mainly to make sure the boys grow up strong!)....but here at Kamp Kuroiwa?  We tend to forget we have them and never seem to get them displayed.  Though...we do have the carp to hang outside...we just can't remember where we put them.

(The carp are a strong fish....swimming upstream...the carp windsox are a symbol that we want our boys to grow up strong and able to handle any hardship.  I like this.)

We have been on holiday all week...the weather has been absolutely wonderful and we have been doing a lot of things that we don't usually have the time for.  Car drives, picnics, festivals, hiking, and onsens (hot springs)....we've been pretty busy enjoying the time together....well, one day we didn't...due to the cranky-surliness factor of one 12-year-old, yesterday the Kuroiwa group was minus-1.  Yeah, maybe not a good idea to leave a 'tween on his own, was either that or put up with his "'tween-ness" all day long and that my friends, did not even seem like a good idea, at all.
In the end, everything was fine...everyone was happy.... arguments and whining were almost non-existent.
And a good thing.
There are many places around here that, even though I've been here for almost 20 years, I've yet to visit.
One of those places was Fuji Yama Jinja   (Wisteria Mountain Shrine).
It is one of the most beautiful places I've yet to see....up on a mountain is an old shrine...and this time of year the wisteria is in bloom.  It is absolutely beautiful....and the smell is...divine.
Definitely worth the drive just to stand under all that wisteria.  It was almost magical.
So today....our last being spent getting homework done that wasn't finished on Friday...doing laundry (taking advantage of the 78 degree, relatively dry weather) and working on getting the turtlenecks and sweaters into boxes while bringing out the t-shirts and shorts.
And yes, I know....putting away the winter stuff pretty much means we'll have a day or two of cold, but...that's okay.  I figure that I can layer t-shirts and put a scarf around my neck.  Good to go.
I hope that, if you are in Japan, you are enjoying your last day of Golden Week, too...and if you are elsewhere, that your Wednesday is a good one.

Oh...and remember....the giveaway I'm having...go ahead, click the link, read and leave a comment.
What have you got to lose? (^-^)/*
And FYI...I found a few more little goodies on Monday to add to the bounty.

Sunshine and warm thoughts to you all!!!