It’s Sunday morning in Japan! We just finished up our breakfast not too long ago: some frozen waffles with syrup (C also had a bowl of cereal). I bought the frozen waffles at the commissary last weekend when we were out at the base with our son. We had our grandson to sleep over on Friday night, then watched the grandkids yesterday afternoon for a few hours while our son and DIL went out to dinner, and C came back home with us to spend the night with us again! Both Brett and I had sort of forgotten how exhausting it is to watch young kids, but we’re enjoying our time with them so much.
We’re mostly settled in now, and have figured most things out around our apartment. We still feel a bit though like we’re it will soon be time to pack up and get on the road again – the fact that we’ll be here for three months hasn’t really taken root with us yet. Our apartment is very comfortable (and warm!), but the chairs are lower than in the U.S. which has taken some getting used to. And, it’s the only apartment building I know of in Japan where the units don’t have a balcony, so we’ve had to dry our clothes indoors. They dry pretty quickly but we sort of dislike having the drying rack set up in the living room. Also, we had a bit of trouble adjusting to the bed at first. It didn’t feel soft, but I was waking up the first few days with a pretty bad back ache. It turned out we were sleeping under the futon that goes on top of the mattress rather than on top of the futon (which we thought was a comforter), and once we got that straightened out, no more backaches!
We’ve spent a great deal of the past two days over at our son’s home, only coming home in the evening. All we’ve done in the neighborhood is shop for necessities. It’s still a bit hard for me to walk for long distances – the toe I broke still hurts more than I’d like at this point, and I’m also trying to get the last bit of swelling to go down on my right leg. It appears I suffered a “bone bruise” on my shin when I fell as we left our Auckland Airbnb, a traumatic injury to a bone just short of a fracture. It’s getting better, and the bruising on my leg is almost gone (at one point it covered the entire area from my ankle up to my knee!), but the leg still needs some rest. I’m guessing it’s going to take around a full eight weeks for it to heal completely.
Finally, instead of my usual bonus question at the end, I’ve decided to add a Japanese word I’ve learned in the past week. This will be a useful or interesting word that I’ve finally figured out, and will hopefully help me remember what I’ve learned.
Today I am:
- Reading: I started Becoming, by Michelle Obama, this past week and can hardly stand to put it down. It’s wonderful! She’s really a terrific writer and I’m enjoying her story so much. I am also enjoying actually having the time again to read – it was difficult when we were traveling around so much as I usually would open the book and fall right asleep from exhaustion.
- Listening to: Brett is reading, but C is playing a game on my phone, and he insists on having the sound on. His mom or dad will be picking him up in a few more minutes though – they are going to the zoo today.
- Watching: Nothing. We can’t understand anything on the TV so we just leave it shut off. I can access our Netflix account here, but haven’t watched anything yet.
- Cooking: I am making two Chinese dishes tonight using Cook-Do sauce mixes: shrimp in chili sauce, and stir-fried peppers and pork. When I could find Cook-Do back in the U.S. it was very expensive ($4-$6 per package), but here it’s only around $1.50 per package. The sauces make cooking Chinese food so easy! We’ve figured out the rice cooker so we’ll also be having steamed rice along with the two dishes.
- Happy I accomplished last week: Our son drove us out to the NAF Atsugi base last Sunday and we got things we needed at both the exchange and the commissary, including LOTS of Diet Coke and breakfast cereals for our son. We lived on the base back from 1989-1992, so it was interesting and nostalgic driving around and seeing what was the same and what had changed (almost, but not quite, everything). Saddest for me was that the house we lived in, my favorite of all our navy houses, had been demolished and a new one put up in its place. Same for the house we lived in off-base. Brett and I also made a trip over to the New Sanno Hotel this past week, where we stayed with YaYu in 2017. We bought some KitKats there, including a new flavor: plum sake.
- Looking forward to next week: We have no big plans for next week, although Brett may need to go to the base in Yokosuka and get a new debit card so we’ll pick a day for that as it will be an all-day excursion. We’ll check out their exchange and commissary while we’re there. I am planning to stop by the takoyaki (octopus fritters) stand sometime next week and get an order for our dinner, and we’re also planning to visit another nearby shrine this week.
- Thinking of good things that happened: We ate dinner at our son’s home on Thursday and Friday evenings – our DIL in a terrific cook, and we of course loved spending time with the grands. On Friday she ordered out from a nearby sushi restaurant and we had a feast! Our grandson is having a lot of fun sorting out all of his foreign money and putting it away in a notebook for now. And, of course we loved having him over for sleepovers – he is so much fun and very helpful to us. On our trip to the New Sanno we stopped by my favorite bakery and I was able to get two loaves of their sliced raisin bread, which is my favorite bread ever (one was for the freezer). We enjoyed our trip to the very interesting Setagaya Kannon Temple – we’re still talking about it, trying to figure it all out. Neither our son nor daughter-in-law could explain it.
- Thinking of frugal things we did: I’m not sure how frugal we’ve been other than we haven’t gone crazy shopping out in town (although it’s been tempting a few times), and have done a good job eating all of our leftovers. We’re right where we need to be, budget-wise. I’m so happy to be fixing our own meals again (or eating over at our son’s) versus having to eat out all the time like we did for the most part in New Zealand, but we also like to occasionally pick up things from the prepared food section at the supermarket or a bento from one of the minimarts a couple of times a week – they’re affordable, and not too big of a splurge.
- Grateful for: I may have hurt my leg pretty badly, but I am exceedingly thankful I did not fracture my shin bone! What a mess I would be now if that had happened. It really only looks bad now – it doesn’t hurt otherwise, even when I walk. My toe is another matter though – it’s still painful nearly three weeks after I broke it although some days are worse than others.
- Japanese word for the week: Mamonaku 間もなく. For several days after we arrived I kept hearing this word in subway stations or while I was riding the train, and decided to look it up. The characters for the word are ma 間(space or interval), mo も(too or also), and naku なく(a suffix forming the negative). So, the direct meaning is “no further space” but a more useful translation is “shortly,” as in “the train will be arriving shortly” (no more space in time). The video above is a recording of announcements you hear in train stations throughout Japan. The language is a very polite form. Can you hear the announcer say mamonaku at the beginning? She is announcing the arrival of trains on certain tracks and where they are going, as well as reminding passengers that it’s dangerous as the trains arrive so please stand behind the yellow line. I can actually understand most of what she’s saying in the video!
Sundays are kind of a crazy day to go out in Japan because everyone is off and doing things, and trains and places tend to be crowded. So, we’re planning to stay in today to take care of some housekeeping and other tasks.
How was your week? What are you doing today? What good books are you reading?