Friday, 7 September 2018

Hi. Here we are.
All ok.
Okaasan.
Us.
Cats.
Friends and students. Neighbors.

The city....so-so.
The whole area of Hokkaido? not so good...7 dead and 30????? missing in landslides about 80 km south of here near Tomakomai and the epicenter of the Magnitude 6 earthquake that struck at 3 am on Thursday.

Huge. Biggest I've ever felt.
And this was 24 hours after the strongest typhoon I've ever felt....so two sleepless, shocking nights.

Our home and neighborhood has no damage. Stuff fell down - mainly from the Dead Family memory drawers..the pictures of his brother/father; my parents...the old cat.....the plants...


But many areas of Sapporo city are still without power and water. Roads have been ripped up. Subway and train services..and buses are stopped for a 2nd day. The airport will open...
And beyond, in the rural area south of Sapporo a lot more damage and a whole village gone under large scale landslides.


We jumped from bed at 3 am with the shaking and rumbling. One cat ran outside. The other returned very nervy about 2 hours later.
We watched TV...and then 20 minutes later the electricity went out. Only the emergency lights in the subway tunnel next to the house were on. Fantastic stars...

Many aftershocks...

We had smartphone connection at first...and then that weakened as the phone company system got overloaded. Our work was cancelled - my NHK Culture School work was cancelled by a phonecall from NHK in Tokyo...because local staff couldn't do it.

Strange day.....we helped our 93 year old neighbor....who spent ages wondering why her TV wasn't working...and why she couldn't call her family. Luckily we could call her son on the smartphone...
Helped a friend charge her ipad from my car battery...
Cut off from information really - as the rest of Japan..and then friends abroad...started seeing TV pictures. We didn't know...

Traffic lights out. Long lines at shops which were open, but dark....standpipes for water...helicopters...ambulance and police sirens. The subway line next to the house silent (today too).

Mid-afternoon I drove to a friend's home to get give her ipad charging from the car...and we drove carefully to Okaasan's care home. I climbed the stairs to the 10th floor...lights out, but they had a pump for water for toilets and drinking.
Okaasan and her friends and staff all gathered round the living room in the gloom..no TV...but happy enough.
"The weather is bad today...so there are no lights" Okaasan told me....

I stayed about 10 mins to chat brightly to them all...and then left. The care home staff were doing all they could...

Back home Dear Son and I had an impromptu BBQ because the meat in the freezer was defrosting and our cooking system is electric. So, amid disaster we are sitting in the garden in sunshine, eating sirloin steak and warm beer....

This is what happens at times of disaster....humans do seemingly strange things...because...well...we are human and life goes on...we get on with it.
100 meters away residents of the apartment were taking cooking pans to the nearby water stand in the park to get water...we offered them our water...but the park was closer...

About 5.30 pm our power came back on and we could join the disaster-watching-on-TV with everyone else. And realise how lucky we were.

helped the elderly neighbor again...get her rice cooker going..and the TV....and contact her family by phone. (Although we were impressed - 3 lots of day service/home visiting staff came to check on her during the day!!).

The aftershocks go on and on...jolts...vibrations..rattlings...

The biggest earthquake i've experienced. Even more than the quake/tsunami/nuclear crisis a few years ago - because the epicenter of this was much closer to us.

But we are lucky.
Today, maybe I have work. A Couch Surf guest may come...if his flight can land...I have Wifi...water...some gas in the car...and all-important electricity.

Onwards!

Monday, 27 August 2018

Don't count your Okaasans before...

...they fall.

Probably JUST as I was writing the last post about "nothing" on Friday afternoon, before leaving work....
Okaasan was taking herself to the toilet in her wheelchair...and somehow fell.
Dear Son got the phone call from the care staff to report they'd found her on the toilet floor.
She was ok. Didn't know what had happened. No apparent injury.
Of course we went the next day - she was fine...like the falls of kids and drunks...where you land and don't, amazingly, injure anything.
We took her for a wheelchair push around the neighborhood and ended up having to use the public toilets in a nearby hotel. The doors were a little narrow for a wheelchair (disabled access regulations???) and there were no grab rails, so I had to get Okaasan grabbing onto ME, while Dear Son hovered at the door way to the Ladies apologetically. With his shoulder injury he can't do much anyway.
So, I'm in the toilet stall - straddling the bowl - and Okaasan has her arms wrapped around my waist while I reach over/behind and under her to pull down her pants...and pull out the diaper pad....personal boundaries well and truly DOWN in this relationship now!
To think I used to be shy about going into the bathroom while she took a bath. Now I am fishing around between her legs for the soiled diaper...

Anyways....she is fine.
Onwards into more nothing...

Friday, 24 August 2018

Update on nothing...

Knowing you are clicking on this blog link on an daily, nay HOURLY, basis to check what is new....

Not a lot.

Since Okaasan's birthday our life has pottered along thru the summer. Such a strange summer here in Japan, scorching hot weeks, then rain and rain...now typhoons chasing typhoons.
I blame Donald Trump. Somehow.

Okaasan is good. 
We have visited several times - walked the local streets and had drinks and snacks in the nearest convenience store. 
At the care home we arrived one day to find a traditional Japanese flute concert by a volunteer in progress. Okaasan and her companions were in their wheelchairs in an appreciative circle.
It's quite clear now that she does have friends and hangs out with them. So wonderful to see her with friends of her own generation and chatty and smiley. One even told us that Okaasan is able to go to the toilet alone in her wheelchair now...which gave me a panic about could-she-come-and-live-at-home-again....but Dear Son reassures me he isn't thinking like that......relief :-)

OUR health hasn't been great though....I damaged my sole and heel,something-plasticizes? Stupidly banged by sole on a metal chair...many many times...and then found I'd damaged the muscles. I've spent August in cushioned sports shoes and hunting the internet for foot strengthening exercises.
And Dear Son is nursing a delicate upper arm and shoulder - maybe ligament damage - after a car crash last week! His bike taxi AND another car were hit by a private taxi that jumped red lights. A lot of damage to the vehicles, but all three drivers were ok.
Friday night at the hospital, insurance company and police phone calls....and he is off work.

We both feel a bit old...tired....
The cats are fine - doing what cats do and bringing home young mice to leave just outside the bedroom door at night.

So. That's our August. Soon to be into autumn.
Not a lot of scintillating stuff to write about Okaasan.
She is.
We are.
And another typhoon is barreling our way...

Monday, 6 August 2018

Happy Birthday Okaasan


88 years and going strong ...Happy Birthday to Okaasan for another year.

We enjoyed cream and strawberry cake at the care home in her room, drank ice canned coffee and went for a stroll in the local streets by wheelchair. Lots of laughs and chat. 

She knows it is her birthday - knows her date of birth - knows us - knows that this building and that room is her home - all appears well in her world. A year ago we were in the middle of the hell of broken back bone/off the scale dementia and anger and drugs and hospitals.
This summer. All calm.

Recently she had another dementia assessment interview, with the results later this month. Hard for us to gauge HOW her dementia is now - because we only see her for short periods of time at the care home. Her walking is just about ok with the walking frame - but not very far, and not very strongly.

Meanwhile at home I've noticed we've stopped calling the downstairs rooms: "Okaasan's room"...because now it is actually "Chichi's room"....the cat has made it is own. Sleeping on the tatami where it is cool, dozing on the guest bedding.
And we are enjoying a summer without Okaasan duties - our big BBQ again - without me having to sober up at 6 pm to cook dinner for Okaasan and get rid of the noisy guests that made her so angry. A summer of casual eating...sudden dining out decisions...

The house still seems huge for just the two of us. But we won't move while Okaasan is still alive. After she's gone we'll consider the next stage of our lives. But for now, we will stay here and in this working/living pattern - occasional guests fill the space...and the cats are happy to claim what they've craved for years.

Onwards :-)