Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Couple time on holiday...

A couple of middle aged fools on holiday with a camping car :-)

It was fun and gave us many ideas for our future life. Camping car in Europe and driving and living at many different ski areas....a life after Okaasan and cats in Japan...you only live once and gotta follow the dreams!

We spent a week exploring central Japan - some machine-snow ski areas in Shizuoka and Nagano (to look, not ski), and a wonderful day on rented bikes in stylish, autumnal Karuisawa...and then to Tochigi to see the Oya Stone quarry caves and the oldest stone Buddah in Japan...and finally a long boozy night with one of his friends in Yokohama.

I came back at the weekend to start work. The cats survived animal hospital stay - a little clingy and very hoarse voices. But fine, and (disappointingly) didn't lose as much weight as I'd hoped.
Dear Son is carousing with old friends in the Tokyo suburbs still - so I did the Okaasan visit on Sunday.
Now ski season is arriving it will be me more and more going to the care home - so this was the start of OUR season - Okaasan and Me at the Care Home!

This time I took in some sweetend rice drink and snacks. We sat in her room eating. Then I bundled her up in a coat and took her by wheelchair round the streets - all the way to a local department store ground floor.
She was happy and positive - had an obsession with pointing out each and every Lawson's convenience store and saying: "you can get any kind of shopping in there...".
I told her Dear Son was working at a ski resort with rich Chinese. She was happy enough with this familiar story.
Then back to the home...she had a toilet trip with one of the staff and I showed the floor manager the new pajamas I'd bought Okaasan and marked with her name. After 90 mins I left...had a delicious ramen late lunch on the way home.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Autumn ends...

Okaasan enjoys autumn. :-)

What could be more perfect? A seat in the sunshine with this view, a cup of coffee, loving family members and leaves/dogs/babies/happy people?

One of our city parks yesterday was glorious. Everyone was out to enjoy the day - which may be the last warm day of the year. We walked with the wheelchair around it and saw two of our friends (Okaasan had no idea who they were, but enjoyed the feeling of meeting someone). Okaasan was happy and smiley..very little conversation - apart from observations about sunshine and leaves...and cute dogs.
It was a lovely day.

And now? It's 4.30 am Monday...and HE and I are going on a couple holiday!!!!! Camping car trip in mainland Japan....here we come!!!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Autumn windfall..

So, Dear Son finally got all the paperwork together to go along to a post office and close two of Okaasan's old accounts so he could transfer the monies into one account.
When he took over her affairs he discovered that she had multiple accounts, multiple seals for identification etc. Took a bit of time to sort it out. A fine day and time to take her along to a local post office to show that she was in agreement with closing the accounts etc.

The staff came to the counter with the print out of the accounts. Nothing had happened in them for over 10 years. All the time she had been living with us.

The combined amount in two accounts was close to what I earn in a YEAR! That kind of money. Just salted away into these accounts and forgotten.

Dear Son was stunned.

Now the money is all together in her main account.....and Okaasan is very comfortably off :-)

I bet this is repeated in banks and post offices all over Japan. The elderly who opened accounts, stashed away monies and then forgot. And I wonder what will happen to my generation, because we do so much online - when passwords get forgotten and family members don't even know what we have.

Anyway. A happy occurrence.
Autumn is really here now...the leaves are glorious. Starting to clean the garden for winter.
I've done 3 tour guiding jobs. All fun. Now is apparently a quiet season, before winter holidays start.

And WE are having a holiday! Next month Dear Son will be 60 years old. I am taking him to the mainland of Japan for a 5 night camper van trip. He loves the idea of camping cars - hit the road and stay anywhere - so we will see if the reality matches his dream.

Monday, 8 October 2018


Or...long time no see :-)

Thanks to Kentucky Lady for prodding me with her "Are you ok in the typhoon?" comment...to make me realize...haven't been here for a whole month!!!

Yup. Hokkaido now has earthquakes and typhoons. Really amazing. It never did before. Well, the odd shake which made everyone comment on it for days afterwards and stray typhoons that after causing destruction in mainland Japan - came up north for a rare visit.

Not in September 2018.
2? 3? typhoons...and then the big earthquake...and many many aftershocks. Last week, just as I'd stopped my daily checks of the Earthquake section of the Japan Meteorological Agency website...came 3 large aftershocks - magnitude 5 and 4 at the epicenter - and considerable shaking 100 km north here.

Sigh. A new norm.
Luckily the last two typhoons slipped south of Hokkaido and here in Sapporo it was just rain and some wind. But bad for the earthquake devastated areas.

And me.

Well. Okaasan is fine. I can now, guiltily report that. Because since the earthquake day when I hauled myself up 10 floors of stairs to check on her...I didn't actually go and see her for almost a month! Yes. I am that bad.
Dear Son went, of course. Once or twice a week. Took her out for walks in the wheelchair. Good son.
But me? I only actually went 2 days ago - after one month of not visiting!!!!
We drove her to a local park and walked all over it pushing the chair and looking at autumn colors and kids playing. She was mellow. Not so communicative now. But seemed happy enough. Laughed to watch the kids play. Commented a lot on the sunshine.

She also comments on any old person she sees who is walking slowly, or walking with a stick. Kind of smug comments about: "look at her, that's terrible to see old people like that, I'm not like that! I can walk....look at that..."....all the while sitting in a wheelchair and huffing and puffing when it comes to stand or walk a few steps.

She IS physically weaker for sure. Despite the day care and physical training...she is never going to walk unaided again. A year of bed and wheelchairs...all the old muscles are gone. It is sad, because she loved walking. But that fall changed so much in her life.

I guess for most elderly people it's the same. The families say: "Oh, he/she used to be so fine until that fall...that bad cold...that slip..." So we all gotta do as much as we can to keep our muscles as strong as possible.

Ok. That's the Okaasan update. As much as I can....for someone I've seen once in the past month.

Well, hold onto your hats....my life has taken a turn for the exciting...

I have got a part time job as a tour guide!!!

OMG. And all that.

It's the reason I have let family duties slip. Been busy and a bit stressed. One extra day a week of work....

But for me: a dream coming true??? I kind of think so.

It's been a bit of a dream for me, after years training tour guides and writing and advising on Hokkaido tourism. To actually be out there, in-person with visitors.

Last year the guiding laws changed in Japan, and now unlicensed people can work as tour guides under the management of a registered company. For ages I've followed a small local company on Instagram etc - because they had great pix of their tours in nature and it looked fun.
Then, in early September they suddenly said they were hiring full and part time guides. I recommended several friends and students to apply. Then...what the heck...actually: "What the fuck? I think I could do this? What have I got to lose by applying...."

So I did. Took a whole weekend of stress at the computer to rehash my resume, angling it all from education and writing, to tourism and writing. Applied...just as the earthquake hit...my interview was delayed because of the power cuts...then interview...job offer...training tour day with another guide...and...and...

I have now taken two day trip tours with family groups from the Philippines and Singapore. Driving the company car and visiting local beauty areas, delicious food...flowers, volcano, history...
Think I love it. I can only do weekends and holidays as my main job IS still English teaching. But OH WOW!!! I think I love it.

I feel it's a kind of khama too. For the long, stressy years looking after Okaasan. Now is MY time. Something I want to do. :-)

Funny how life goes...