Wishing a Happy Easter to all who celebrate! And, for those celebrating Passover, chag Pesach sameach!
The grands colored eggs yesterday and had a small egg and candy hunt this morning (we supplied the egg dye and some Japanese Easter-themed KitKats). In a short while we are going to get together with our son and grandson for lunch in the Hiroo neighborhood to celebrate Brett’s 69th birthday, which is today. When we were at Tokyu Hands the other day I bought him a lovely, big, blue and cream pillow cover that says “Hokusai Japan” in beautiful calligraphy. Hokusai is one of Brett’s favorite artists, and is also a play on our family name, so I hope he’ll like it. Plus, it will easily pack into his suitcase when we leave Japan, still a consideration these days.
This week definitely didn’t turn out anything like we hoped for or planned. On Tuesday we were going to head to Shinjuku to check out Bingoya and a couple of other places, but I woke up with a sore throat and feeling deeply tired, with absolutely no energy to do anything or go anywhere. So, we stayed home – Brett picked up our grandson from school on his own while I rested all day. Thankfully I was fine on Wednesday, but we still decided that other than our usual pick-up duties we should stick close to home. Brett went to his shodō lesson on Thursday, and on Friday we were ready to get back out there, but instead we were up early to watch our granddaughter for the day – she has a very bad cold, so couldn’t go to her hoikuen. Yesterday we stayed close to home again and took care of some errands in the neighborhood, did three loads of laundry, and cleaned the apartment. It was a nice week off, and we’re hoping to do the activities and errands we missed this coming week but we may need to watch our granddaughter another couple of days so will work around that if it happens.
I found some clothes here that fit! For the past few weeks I have had my eye on a lovely full cotton skirt at Muji, and yesterday I finally decided to try it on . . . and it was too big! Actually, the skirt fit but the look of it added another 20-30 pounds on my hips, so . . . nope. I love Muji’s simple clothing – it’s all made from natural fibers and favors a loose, comfortable style – so I poked around while I waited for a dressing room, and ended up buying a lovely black linen sleeveless shift (size L), and a light grey French terry topper (size M/L) that I found on the sale rack. I know that not everything they make would fit me, but it was gratifying to discover that there is at least one place in Japan where I could find some things if I had to.
YaYu will be coming over to England in mid-October to spend a week with us (fall break at Bryn Mawr), so I reserved a stay at an Airbnb in London for the three of us – we’ll spend three days poking around London before heading back to our place in the Cotswolds. Brett and I also picked out dates for our visit to Edinburgh, and I made an Airbnb reservation there – our apartment is just a short walk from Edinburgh castle! I still need to make train reservations for the trip up to Scotland – fellow passengers from England on our Australian train trip recommended we ride up from Kings Cross station in London as that trip has the best scenery – but that task can wait until later in the summer. I also purchased YaYu’s plane ticket to come to Portland in May. She’ll spend 12 days with us before heading over to Japan for the summer.
This morning I am:
- Reading: I finished We Were the Lucky Ones (a great read), and am now reading Heart: A History, by Sandeep Jauhar. It’s filled with all sorts of interesting information about things like advancements in heart surgery, changes in the treatment of heart disease, and how the heart came to be seen as the core of being human, among other topics.
- Listening to: We’re enjoying a quiet morning here, just reading and writing with our cups of coffee. I absolutely love mornings like this!
- Watching: I watched The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix this past week – very creepy and scary at times. I loved it! The backstory of the family dragged on a bit too much for me at times, but the last episode brought it all together. Apparently there’s going to be another season in 2020 – yeah! I’m thinking about watching Beyoncé’s Homecoming tonight.
- Cooking/baking: Since we’re going out to lunch for his birthday celebration, Brett and I will probably just have leftovers tonight. There’s yakisoba from last night, or we can make quesadillas. I did buy a small orange poundcake at a nearby bakery for his cake, and we’ll have that with ice cream tonight.
- Happy I accomplished this week: I went through all of the several ziplock bags we carry that hold things like medication, toiletries, etc. and reorganized and downsized those to give us more room in our suitcases. I’m glad to have gotten the Airbnb reservations done for this fall, and have YaYu’s flight to Portland taken care of. Otherwise I don’t think we really accomplished anything.
- Thinking of good things that happened: We had a fantastic Italian meal with my former student, Eriko, and her family on Sunday afternoon, and got ourselves caught up with what’s been going on with each other. In spite of this not being a stellar week for us in many other ways, the weather has been glorious and quite warm. We’ve even had to open the windows in the apartment a couple of times to cool things off, and have not had to turn on the heater for a few days. While the cherry blossoms have now almost completely disappeared, the dogwoods and azaleas are blooming, so there’s still more beautiful color around. Meiling had her first job interview the other day – she thought she did OK but not great, but was happy that her resume was interesting enough that the company wanted to interview her. However, on Friday she was asked to do a second interview so now we’ve officially crossed our fingers!
- Thinking of frugal things we did: This wasn’t a particularly frugal week, although we didn’t go crazy either. Our daily spending average though is where we want to be ($50.07) so we’re doing OK.
- Grateful for: I adore spending time with our grandkids, and am so thankful we have been able to have so much time with them. I had a wonderful time raising our own four children, but at the same time I am also thankful that that part of my life is finished. Brett and I live very simply and minimally now, and I am happy not to have to deal with all the accoutrement that comes along with kids (toys, clothing, books, paper, art supplies, and so forth), the food and other childhood issues, and all the scheduling that goes along with having children in the home (school, extra-curricular stuff, etc.). I just don’t have the energy I once did either – I had a good time taking care of our granddaughter on Friday, but even though she was sick she almost wore me out!
- Japanese word of the week: Chigau 違う. I had always understood this word to mean “wrong,” and I often overhear it in conversation which seemed strange. I’d always thought it meant “you’re wrong” or something similar, but in fact chigau has several meanings, such as “to be different or differ,” “another,” or “something else.” In conversation chigau can mean “that’s not how it is” or “that’s wrong,” with chigau being a softer word than “no” is in English. I’d heard it said that having the word “wrong” equaling “different” was a cultural link to Japan’s homogenous society, so that no one stuck out, but there’s been pushback on that interpretation. Anyway, I feel like I have a better understanding now of chigau and how and why it’s used (not that I’m confident enough to use it properly).
Just three more weeks in Japan to go! Next weekend we’ll be visiting Hakone with our son and family for a two night stay, so I won’t be posting until we get back. Hakone is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, so we’ll get to see Mt. Fuji up close, as well as many other interesting sites in the area like Lake Ashi and the geothermal valley. Hakone is noted for their natural hot springs, and we’re looking forward to taking a couple of good soaks while we’re there (although the water is so hot in places that I once actually burned myself climbing into a tub!).
I hope you all had a good week, had lots of good things happen, and are looking forward to next week!