It’s Sunday morning in Japan . . . .
At the beginning of this past week we got to change up our daily pattern a bit as K went back to her hoikuen, so there was no need for me to be over at our son’s for a full day. Brett went over in the morning for C’s distance learning, and then I was there by 3:00 in the afternoon, giving me time to take care of things around the apartment in the morning. My back had been giving me some trouble, and it was nice to have the morning somewhat free to get it back into shape before the long walk to our son’s. On Wednesday afternoon though they got a note from the hoikuen asking that if there was someone available to watch the children at home it would be appreciated because of the coronavirus risk, so both Brett and I both headed over Thursday morning, Brett to again help C, and me to watch K. We will be on duty for the next two weeks, but then it will be spring break (our son has vacation that week as well), and schools will reopen nationally the following week, with K beginning preschool. As our son remarked on Thursday as we were getting ready to leave, “It’s not turning out to be the visit you imagined, is it?”
The weather has been warmer this week, except for Tuesday, when it poured all day, and yesterday, when it was cold, rainy – it even snowed! Otherwise, we had some nice walks to and from our son’s place. Brett and I were going to go over to Tokyu yesterday afternoon to do our food shopping, so as not to have a repeat of last week’s situation where I was stuck with a bunch of heavy bags (although there will not be a repeat of last week’s extra five jars of peanut butter!) but seeing snow coming down killed that outing. We may go visit the Maneki Neko temple with our son and family – later today. The sky is blue, but it’s very cold again.
For now, the girls are OK, but changes have been coming fast and furiously. Wellesley announced a hard shutdown of the campus for the remainder of the year; everyone has to be out of the dorms by Tuesday. WenYu plans to move out on Monday and will stay with her boyfriend in Massachusetts while she finishes her courses online. Our hearts just ache for her – she was within less than three months of graduation, and now that is gone, and she will not even be able to go out and find work. She and I shared a few tears as we talked about the changes. The campus and Wellesley community is already reaching out to this class though, and I know they will find ways to still make things special for the young women from the class of 2020. Bryn Mawr is still officially open, although all classes will now be online. Dorms and food service were going to stay open, but YaYu learned on Friday afternoon that all student employment had been canceled, and that evening that she had to be out of the dorm no later than Monday. She was also tearful, and a bit frantic, but we worked out a plan: she will be staying with a friend for a few days that lives nearby, and then moving over to stay with her boyfriend’s family for a few days (he attends Haverford, also lives nearby). The college still hasn’t announced a hard closure, but that is expected by April 3, and if and when that happens, YaYu will most likely go stay with Brett’s sister and BIL, or in Massachusetts with WenYu, and then we will bring her to wherever we are as soon as we possibly can, and she will spend the summer with us. Meiling is now working remotely in NYC and she is well and doing OK. Although the theaters are currently closed, if they reopen in time she and her boyfriend will use our tickets and see Hamilton in May; otherwise, she will get us tickets for a later visit. It is a crazy and upsetting time for the girls – none of them have ever dealt especially well with change, and these quick ones have left them completely upended.
Things are currently in flux with our flight out of Japan and our future plans as well. Although our reservation with Delta appears to still exist with no changes, I noticed this past week that the flight is no longer listed as an option on the airline’s website, and when I’ve searched using the flight number, I saw that it’s still departing but three hours later than what our reservation says. I received a message from them this week asking us not to contact them regarding reservations until 72 hours before the departure date as they are currently overwhelmed with changes and everything else that’s going on. We have another 34 days until we leave Japan, so we will hang tight for now, and if we’ve learned nothing else, it’s to be flexible. We won’t be staying here, but where we go after Japan and how we get there may possibly change. I canceled all of our May and June reservations with Airbnb yesterday afternoon and will contact the airlines as we get closer to those dates to find out about rescheduling so we hopefully don’t have to eat the cost of those flights (about $1000).
This morning I am:
- Reading: I bought and was getting started a new book this week, The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance during the Blitz, by Erik Larson, as I was beginning to think that my not reading was due to a resistance to returning to American Dirt more than anything else. However, I got a notice Friday evening that two books I had on hold at the library were available, The Dutch House: A Novel, by Anna Patchett, and The Wilder Life, by Wendy McClure, so I’ll be reading those first, and then will get back to the other books (which were purchases).
- Listening to: Nothing – Brett is reading and there’s not a sound outside. After a crazy week it’s positively blissful. The sky is very blue but I can tell it’s cold because of the condensation on the windows.
- Watching: No TV watching for Brett and me again this week. It’s not that there’s been nothing to watch; we just haven’t felt like it.
- Cooking: Tonight I’m making the tofu curry that didn’t get made last week. Also appearing on our dinner menu this week will be chicken and vegetable soup with corn dumplings (using a Jiffy mix I found at Hardy Barracks); CookDo pork and pepper stirfry; tacos; takeout sushi; and macaroni and beef along with steamed broccoli. We haven’t decided where we want to eat out yet.
- Happy I accomplished this past week: My biggest accomplishment for the week was getting those groceries home last Monday. My goodness, that was a chore. It didn’t help that on Wednesday we then carried a case of Diet Coke home from our son’s – he and M went to Hardy Barracks to look for the Diet Coke (we got two more cases). We made it over to our son’s on time (just two mornings for me) this past week, and I got their laundry folded for them every day. I’d like to help in the kitchen but I can’t figure out how anything in there works or where anything goes. We have gotten in a lot of walking this week, at least two miles every day. Just getting through each day with the changes that are occurring for the girls and others in the U.S. has been challenging.
- Looking forward to next week: We’ll be continuing this past week’s pattern of going over to our son’s every day, so no chances for us to get out until Friday, a national holiday so a day off for our son and family. Brett and I have poured over our maps and found a Shinto shrine complex nearby that, weather permitting, we’ll walk over and visit that day. We also found a nearby river walk that we may try and do if the weather is nice on Saturday.
- Thinking of good things that happened: One of the benefits of being at our son’s during the day is that he cooks us lunch when we’re there, and he’s a really good cook! He also springs for takeout now and again, which is fun as well. We had both grandkids over for dinner on Friday evening and another great sleepover with our grandson. Our DIL’s mother got the last package of alcohol wipes available in her town and set them to M, who shared them with us. We’re saving ours and the masks they gave us for when we fly next month.
- Thinking of frugal things we did: We had a couple of no-spend days again this past week and even with stocking up (the peanut butter and extra Diet Coke) our daily spending average is still below our March target (currently we’re at $21.46/day).
- Grateful for: Although I am so sad for the WenYu and YaYu, Brett and I are thankful that even though their colleges will close for the rest of the year because of the pandemic (and WenYu will not have a graduation ceremony) that they will be able to finish their coursework for the year using distance learning. A college or university setting up something this major would have been impossible not that long ago.
- Bonus question: Easter candy is out now – do you have a favorite? YES!! I love, love, love Cadbury creme eggs, and always look forward to their short season every year. I like chocolate, but can live without it (I prefer savory foods); however, there is something about the creme eggs I can’t resist. Back in the U.S. I usually bought a couple of four-packs and would make them last, but the other day Brett brought me a big bag full of them and I’ve been enjoying one a day – a real treat (they were on sale at Hardy Barracks). A few years ago I was able to get the ones filled with orange creme and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven as I adore orange chocolate, but I’ve heard you can only get those now in the UK (I don’t care for the caramel-filled ones – I like my caramel nice and chewy). Anyway, other than the creme eggs, I can easily pass on Easter candy.
Next week is going to be a hard one for both Brett and I. We love being with the grandkids and are glad we can help our son and DIL, but the days are long for us and tiring. Plus, we’re unable to get out and do much of anything else during the week. I’m not sure how much writing I will be able to do, or even if I’ll have any energy to do any, so there may be no posts until next weekend.
That’s it for this crazy week. Thank you all for hanging in there with us. We are thinking of all of you back in the U.S. and know it’s been an extremely difficult week for all and that things are probably going to get much worse before they get better. I’m still hoping that good things happen for you, both big and small. And, stay healthy! Wash your hands and don’t touch your face – it’s almost impossible, I know. Social isolation is difficult (although a dream come true for us introverts), but I hope you can find ways to still get out and take care of yourself at the same time.