Monday, December 26, 2011

the one where debbie just let you know she WAS alive....

december 26, 2011
and a Christmas party with my students
angsting 13-year-old
9 year-old brother doing what big brother is doing
old car about to go down for the count
student, who was also a very good friend, passing away
pta crap, dealing with overbearing mothers
and a lot of piddly little things that make me wanna bang my head on the table.
(and that really hurts)

there has been good stuff,too....
but yeah...

the holidays....hell, december came before i was ready.
i joke that my 'to do list'  from september isn't finished yet...and really...
i'm not joking. 
it isn't finished.

but i come to the blogging world and i read YOUR posts and they make me smile.
they remind me that life IS good.
sometimes i laugh out loud.
one of these days,
i will have to find the un-mehness and energy  to sit down here and do this.
i'm not making any promises.
i'll just see you in the new year.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

from beginning to end....PILIALOHA

 Close friendship, beloved companionship, beloved relative;
loving association; 
to have a loving or tender relationship, 
to be in a bond of love, romance.

on sunday.....some members of one of the hula groups i belong to and i got on a train

and went to a city about an hour and a half away

for a hula show that included some teachers and teachers-in-training (mainly oldER ladies) from our area of the island

(personally, my favorite part) a show....
compliments of Kumu Kapu
 (kumu:  hula teacher/guide/model) who is the teacher for the Kyushu Hula Association. She has her own hula school on the island of Kauai and travels back and forth between there and here.  Some of her students from Hawaii 
**this is actually a picture of the group, na hula o kaohikukapulani...not all of them came, but...many did**

came to perform in the show....
and it was incredibly awesome!!!

the show....
had a wide variety of Polynesian dancing styles.
for example, there was some tahitian dancing...
(and good Lord, but did those girls work it!! they definitely have the coolest costumes!!)
....some maori, from new zealand....
....which also included the  haka  (the war dance maori warriors would do to try and intimidate their enemies before a battle)....

.....a "king" also performed...and strangely enough, he was quite funny....
....he did a fire dance...
...but because the show was indoors and really, fire....inside...on a stage...isn't probably the safest thing to do, he used these instead...

.....and he actually made it work.  
we were quite impressed....oh, we laughed, because he was funny, but yeah...also impressed.

then....they did some samoan slap dancing...
which reminded me of
.....and i was very happy.


anyway, the day was wonderful, but what made it even better was that i was with some ladies that i have grown very close to in the past 7 years.

we chatted...we laughed (oh, we laughed a lot!!!)...even the train ride home was kind of noisy!!

we all agreed that it had been a long time since we had had such a nice time.....and we felt guilty about not being with our families for about *snap* that long.
(see....women all over the world are basically the same a lot of the time!!)

one of the ladies from the hula group i joined recently (of which i am still pretty much a newbie) was talking with another lady (eavesdropping, who? whaaaa?) and said that she was surprised at how funny i was (dude! i rock in 2 languages!!).   she repeated a comment i made when the hawaiian girls came out...."i look just like that when i'm dancing at home, by myself."  (^-^)
(and just for the record.....she said she did, too!!)
then, they both laughed!!!

so....for us...our day truly was pilialoha.

(and for that i will forgive them for raising my hand and "volunteering" me to get up on stage {with 5 other "volunteers" from the audience!!} to do tahitian dance.
THAT, my friends....was pretty funny and i'm so very glad that no cameras were aloud in the hall to capture this most embarrassing of moments on film.
thank you baby Jesus, for copyright laws.)

so....this week, my friends....this week of being thankful...may we give thanks for those around us....whether in real life or here in the blogging and facebooking world.... with whom we  share a feeling of pilialoha.

you....are appreciated more than you may ever know.
 for your friendship.

**and thank you, GoogleImages, for supplying me 
with the pictures i needed for this 
post that i was not alowed to take myself....
those that do not belong to me, (which is
most of them on this post) were 
borrowed from there. **

Thursday, October 20, 2011

over the past few days~~~

the weather has turned absolutely beautiful.  i used to say that the spring was what i enjoyed the most, but, i'm thinking that i was wrong.  fall is quickly moving into the top position.
the cool, dry air.
the flowers.
(which have caused some incredible sneezing fits, but...
c'est la vie)
weekend fashion for us:
light sweatshirt or long sleeved shirt
it works.

a haiku, by me, for the morning:

The fresh morning air
Crisply, it greets my senses
Fall....cleans the morning.

in a bucket by our front door, as you are leaving or coming home, you are greeted by these 
teeny bits of loveliness!!!
they are seriously....
we all kind of smile when we see them....
even the lady who delivers the mail made a comment about them.
that's really nice.
ever have a hankering for something
something ice cream-y....
ice cream sandwich?
ice cream bar?
how about both?
total yummyliciousness!!
we may have to buy stock in Lotte to help pay for our new addiction.


there is so much english written on signs around us here in japan..
it's many times humorous.
often confusing.
more often than's just plain wrong.
imagine my surprise the other day, when i saw a sign for a new hair salon
in a shopping arcade i like to go to....
it's correct....
it is correct.
so. very. correct.

this morning,
i took out a load of laundry to hang and was greeted by this...
i'm thinking that koji had some free time
and was feeling creative yesterday.
either made me smile.

may you find something in your day that makes
you smile.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

hello? hellooooOOOoo?? is anyone still there???

just in case you were wondering......

in case you were curious...

it's also for when it's not
funny enough or sad enough or crazy enough or urgent enough to blog about.

that's the way it has been around here lately....
a lot of little stuff that i can't really get too excited to actually sit down here at my computer and spend the time putting it together.

it's also not that i don't think you'd be interested or anything like's just that I'M having a hard time 
being interested in it.
that's going to change.
my goal is to find a day
 that is
funny or sad or crazy or urgent.
that's what i'm going to do.

so, come back.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

the one where i tell you about a really great dream i had....

i don't really remember dreams very often.  oh, i'll have flashes of bits and pieces but very rarely do i remember most of one.
the other morning, i woke up and the dream i had had was so vivid in my mind....while the coffee was brewing i wrote it down on a piece of was that good.
the best thing about this that it has gotten me to thinking about the future and what i want for my boys. has sparked another kind of dream.
there is a long, drawn-out explanation as to why i am not too terribly thrilled with the higher-education system here in japan.  while it may work for many....i'm going to do everything i can to tie up the boys and take them to the states for university encourage my boys to look know that they have other options.
maybe that's why i had this particular dream....i've been thinking a lot about issei and what his future holds for him.
he is now in the second year of junior high (8th grade for those of you in the states).  next year, his last year of junior high, will be spent preparing for the incredibly difficult entrance exam into high school.
if he passes, he will be allowed into the public school system...which is free.
if he doesn't's a very expensive private school for him.
the pressure really is almost too much....already.
when kids here enter high school, the main goal is not to graduate, exactly, but to pass the even more difficult entrance exam (yes, another!) into university.  it seems to me that, once you pass that university entrance exam, it's all pretty much downhill from there.
yes, i know. there is more to it, but that is how it basically seems to me.
anyway....i've been milling over in my head different scenarios about issei's future.
angsting, if you will.
it has not been very much fun.
until....the dream.
in this dream, issei graduated from high school
(not sure which kind of high school it was at this point, but, i'm going to keep the positive thoughts flowing and say it was a public school!!).
he had not taken the very long and difficult and expensive university exam because he was not planning on attending a university here in japan.
he went to denver, colorado.
and here is where the dream got kind of fun.

he was living in the basement of my cousin and his wife's house.  they live in a great place very close to downtown denver.
they have an apartment in the basement of their house that is perfect for one person.

he was working in a japanese restaurant that is so close to their house, you can almost see the sign....well,
the bigger one that is on top of the place.

(we went there the last time we were there, so issei knows of this place.)

my cousins, my aunt and uncle, good friends we met from here and another good friend of mine from university all live in denver or very near and he was spending time with all of them.

he was taking classes at one of the universities nearby (there are many!) and he was even taking a class
taught by one of my friends from high school (who actually does teach something science-y at one of the universities!).

the thing is this:  my boys and others like them from families where one parent is from the states have a bit of an advantage...they have american birth certificates.
they have social security numbers.
they ARE americans.
i haven't checked into the details and all that is involved, but i can't help to think that it has to be easier to go  to the states to live and study than it would if they were full-japanese.

what an opportunity this would be for them.
not only would they be in a place where they would be surrounded by family and friends, but....
they would be in a place where it would be easier to use their multi-lingual abilities...
where their bi-culturalism would be more easily accepted.....
or at least....
that's what i'm hoping.

the best thing?  i mentioned this to issei and he was actually thinking about it.
asking questions about it.
the seed has been planted.
now, it's up to me....and "my village".... to make sure that he knows this is
an option that he can use...if he wants.
and oh, how i hope he wants.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

"taken to the mat" by the thought of ice cream.....

....and not just any ice cream....homemade ice cream.

tonight after dinner, the k-man reminded me about a place here in nagasaki that i have yet to visit.  it's a restaurant that has milk shakes as one of its specialties.
and no, these are not milk shakes in the traditional sense of the american milk shake that you can get at your favorite hamburger joint or drive-in.
no. the nagasaki milk shake (i think there is even a song about it!!) is made by hand, using a whisk and a bowl that is sitting in ice (from what i can gather by the descriptions i have been given).  the ingredients...eggs, milk, cream, vanilla.... are carefully whisked in the bowl for each customer.
yes. each customer.  these milk shakes are made, one at a time.....after they are ordered....not dipped from a huge container that has been sitting in the freezer for Lord only knows how long.
no.....this is truly freshness at its very best.

as the k-man was telling me about this and how he thought we needed to go and have one....i was suddenly hit by a memory that literally, took my breath away.

the last few weeks have been strange...emotionally strange.
not sure if it's because i didn't go to the states this year for the second year in a row...or if it's because i've been a bit melancholy (for want of a better word) with this whole "i've been here for 20 years" thing that i've been doing a lot of thinking about....whatever the reason, i've been on a bit of an emotion roller coaster. 
 it's not anything to worry about, just something i have to work through.

anyway....there we were, sitting at the kitchen table, the k-man telling me about this place, the boys laughing about something they were watching on tv while they were eating their shaved ices...and it hit me.
a memory.
the sound of blocks of ice hitting a sidewalk.
(actually, the guy next door was crushing cans or something, but still.....)
on the sidewalk.

when i was little, i spent a lot of time with my granny and grandpa.
i loved being at their house....i probably spent more time there than i did at my actual home.

granny had an extra freezer in the room off the the weeks getting closer to summer, she would slowly fill the freezer with milk cartons that had been rinsed out and filled with water.
i don't think she ever threw away an empty milk carton....they would all be saved for making ice.

the ice....was for making ice cream.
though this was almost 45 years ago, the freezer they had was not one you had to turn by hand...
(when i grew older i always thought one of those would have been so much fun!!)...
no, we had a fancy-schmancy electric one.

as granny would get the ingredients ready to make the "soup"

...grandpa would be on the back porch, dropping those milk cartons full of ice...breaking the blocks into little pieces to fit around the bucket in the ice cream maker.

see the counter in my granny's kitchen?

(yeah, that's me...and my mom)
i can remember sitting up there while she put all the ingredients into her big, yellow (with the black flowers or lines or something) glass mixing bowl.  i can also remember being a bit jumpy, listening to the sounds of grandpa dropping those blocks of ice (he was a very tall man with a very strong arm!).  but granny would just pat my arm and say, "he's almost done."

she would carefully pour it all into the canister and put in the paddle.
she would carry it out to grandpa (when we got older, that was a grandkid's job) and the ice cream making was now in his hands.
he would fill crushed ice in around the canister, that had been placed a wooden bucket.
he would then put rock salt around on the ice "to make it melt so the ice cream freezes".

(for a long time, i had a hard time understanding that concept, but soon...didn't really worry about it too much!!)

and then....after making sure the motor was on  correctly, one of us kids would plug her in and....
the waiting would begin.

when the ice began to melt, there was a little hole that cold water used to come out of on the wooden bucket...i remember sticking my finger in that hole and even though grandpa would say "don't put that nasty water in your tastes terrible", i would, indeed, put my finger in my mouth to taste the water...and yes, it was terrible...but i had to do it. i really did.

after a very, very long time...almost forever!! while, the motor would falter a bit....and then.....stop.
the ice cream was done.
oh....such a joyous sound, that silent ice cream maker had!!!
grandpa would bring the canister into the house...and then the game of "who gets to eat the paddle" would begin.  oh, how i loved it when i was the only one there when they made ice cream...that meant i could eat what was on the paddle and i didn't have to fight anyone for it!!!

granny would pull out the paddle and put it on a plate that we never big enough to hold the paddle so you had to eat fast, because if you didn't, ice cream would melt all over the counter.

i love that ice cream.
sometimes, there is just nothing better than a bowl of homemade vanilla ice cream
to make all bad things go away.

there were a few occasions that we had fresh peaches, either from granny's tree or from the produce stand that was south of town.

later....someone got the brainy idea to
put in a couple smashed up candy bars that we all enjoyed eating. 

oh yeah.
totally yummilicious!!!

i know that i can get an ice cream maker (of sorts) here.....i have granny's recipe and i can get all the ingredients needed (except that particular candy bar..i may have to ad lib on that one!!).
it just won't all be the same....for me.  but....i have decided that i will look into buying an ice cream maker.  maybe the memories we make for the boys won't be the same as my memories, but...that's okay.  it's the making of the memories that is important.


i wish for you all, today, a that makes you smile,
maybe even shed a tear or two.
and then. may you make a new memory or two with someone
who is with you today.

happy sunday, everyone.

**all photos were borrowed, lovingly, from Google Images**

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

a blogpost by numbers....

....number of men i counted today, while shopping, who seemed to be wearing
their wives' slippers/mules. numbers in my cell phone address book.

....of those numbers belong to foreigners.

...the number of hours that i pretty much sleep a night...any more/any less and i do not function well.
i don't.

....the number of years i have lived in nagasaki.
(this week is my "anniversary"!!!)

...the number of months i had originally planned on being here.

....was the number of the typhoon (we go by numbers, not names here!) that i basically
came with when i first arrived in japan.
(i had to stay one night in seoul, thanks to #18 getting here just a little bit faster)

....the number (give or take one or two) of classes i teach every week.

....the number of weeks i had to stay in the incredibly swanky hotel-like hospital each time i had my babies.
(c-sections= 2 weeks, regular delivery=1 week)

...number of hours i danced, one summer, at a festival in a contest
(with 2 small saucers in each hand, clinking those little mothers the whole time in rhythm to the music).

...the amount of yen (about $3,000) i won for dancing in that contest.
oh, yes.
i did.

**all numbers were lovingly borrowed from the good people at google images. thank you.
the randomness is all me!!**  (^-^)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

obviously...random worked....let's do it again, shall we?

the hula festival is over.
despite the nervousness,
(really! i do get more than slightly nervous!!  butterflies? nope. try bats...they're that big!!)
and that first little bit, where i'm standing there, on the front row and i'm like,
"wait. do you hear music? was i supposed to start dancing now??",
 it was all fine. was more than fine.
it was great!!!
i don't think we made any major mistakes (i know i didn't!!) and by the smiles on everyone's faces when we got off stage, i'm thinking everyone thought the same way.
either that, or we were all just soooo relieved it was over!!
it always amazes me that we work so freakin' hard for such a long time and then...
in 3's over.
(okay...i have to stop for just a bit here because my mind just went totally into the gutter after that last thought and it's hard to type while chuckling!! heh heh heh)

i will try to get some hula pictures this week....some of the ladies took some and when we meet for class next, i'm sure i'll get copies.  for some strange reason, i didn't have my cell phone with me...which, had i been thinking earlier, i would have thought that was a jinx and refused to go on stage.
i'm NEVER without my cell phone (and it's incredibly awesome camera!!).
see.  i told you.
i did take one shot, the night before, when i was trying on my, just to give you an idea of what it all looked like.....

oh...and by the way....
the rubber bands in the hair worked and the flowers (and those humongous clips!) stayed in just fine.
koji and i went to a hamburger place today....
i was thinking that a 'happy set' would be just what we both needed, but,
he informed me that there would be no 'happy set' for him today.
(the ones here don't even come in those really cool boxes either...that's kind of lame, we think)

he declared that he is too old for that size of burger and he was going to order a much bigger one today.
this is all fine and dandy by me (i really don't like that little "prizes" that come with the set, anyway)....
but really...
could someone explain to me how a boy, who is too big for a "kids' meal"
is not too big to do this........
....and to ask me to take his picture???
they are sometimes really kind of funny.
just for the record....
let me perfectly truthful when i say that,
this summer gift giving thing the japanese got going on?
i'm lovin' it!!
(usually a box like this will have beer AND a variety of fruit juices.  the students who gave me this? yeah. she loves me and wants me to be happy. i love her! )
koji and i went to the grocery store the other day.
at the register, i noticed that, as the lady was checking our basket of stuff, koji was standing at the end of the counter, just grinning like some kind of little fiend....he might have even giggled maniacally for just a bit.
shaking my head and writing it off as "him just being a 9-year-old weirdo" (which happens more often than what one might think) we finished up and i took the basket to the table to put everything in our bag (which, yes, i had, as always, brought from home).  as i was in a hurry, i didn't really pay attention to the items...i just really needed to get home.  i was running oh so very late.
then....when i got home and was taking the things i bought out of the bag, i realized why koji was being such a goofball...

yeah. see that container of 'cup of noodles'???
sorry... not on my shopping list.
(and really....why would i buy only one??)
now i understand the grinning and slightly crazy giggling.
koji...1.  momma....0.
did you ever, when you were younger, have a contest with your friends to see what was the funniest things you could secretly slide into other peoples' shopping carts without them knowing it?
me, either.
i just heard about people doing that.
heh heh heh.
 i think i'll go now as i have my mother's voice in my head saying,
"what goes around, comes around" and i need to do something, like listen to music or something,
to make it stop!!

*and just for the record....issei IS still around...he's just being your basic 13-year-old and way to cool to go with his mom and little brother, you public...where his friends could possibly see.