Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Extra in a TV commercial...

Nothing at all to do with Okaasan and Me.

But earlier this month I had a one day job as an extra in a TV commercial. It was all very hush hush as to what and who. 
I could only say that I went to Hakodate, dressed up as an old lady and walked down a street with my "husband". There was an accordion player, a man with a bike...and a sheep. 

Now all can be revealed, because the CM is on air now. On TV and on the company website, company Youtube channel.

Can you see me????? (hint:blue beret and boots)

Look at the 3 videos for "As Time Goes By" on this fact in the commercials themselves you can hardly see me...but in the Making Of video...behind Takahiro, the pop star...that's me :-)

Aoyama Prestige Suits - As Time Goes By CM

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Prepping for winter....

Got that carpet to the dry cleaners today.
Told the staff I didn't care how long it takes - just clean every single fiber of that thing.
I switched round the carpets in Okaasan's room, so the central area just has carpet underpart. It's enough for a few weeks.

Huge relief. Strange thing to be happy about.
But I feel it's a cleaning out - getting her and her surroundings ready for the long, snowy months...with me in charge.

While she was in the bath this morning I swooped in to her room: did the carpets, vacuumed, wiped down surfaces, hunted down rotting stuff - generally had a good old clean. Tossed three more bags up into the bag of the closet, where Okaasan can't reach or see....all the bags she has either bought or got as magazine-give-aways over the past five years. Japan is obsessed with bags - and as Okaasan buys at least two magazines a month that include a free bag, she has more than she will ever, ever require. 
I started the bag museum collection a year or two ago, when I realized that she was putting a few bits and pieces (tissues/a little purse/some candies) in EACH bag - and then hunting desperately for something really important: subway card or house keys.
I knew I had to step in and hide away as many bags as possible, so that her searching could be limited to a few bags within reach.

I have a vague plan to sell them at a Flea Market - for a ridiculous low price - just to get rid of them. I think there are about 50 day one day...

Thankyou SO MUCH for the comments recently! I am still amazed that I sit here writing this and people all over the world read it. 
A lot of food-for-thought recently.

* The Nishi-exercise regime : Okaasan is reading the book. Has bookmarked pages. Is keeping it with the rheumatism book I gave her a few weeks ago. All good.
I haven't actually seen her DOING any of the exercises.
But I have a plan.
If want to buy the exercise DVD from the bookshop.
I want to set up a DVD player in Okaasan's room.
But .... if we start playing the DVD - will she eventually start to exercise with it?
Will she just say:"I know about this already." And just watch it. Or worse, get annoyed with us for playing her a DVD of stuff she knows...trying to force her into action.
In an ideal world I'd get down on the newly cleaned carpet with her and do the exercises together. But I'm not a housewife - Monday to Friday I am out of here to work by 9.30 am and often not home until 7 pm.....
In the early mornings Okaasan is usually dozing in front of the TV - not in exercise mood at all.
She may be doing the exercises while we are are away - but I doubt it. I'm 99% sure she sits and looks at the TV/newspaper/magazine/shopping receipts. Or sleeps. All day.

So. My cunning plan.
Get a DVD player with a timer. Set it to play the Nishi exercises about 10 am three times a week.

Okaasan will probably just think it is another TV program and should be happy that her old favorite Nishi-sensei is on the Tv. Might - hopefully - start DOING the exercises along with the Tv teaching.

My inspiration for this is the "Not the Nine O'Clock News" chapter/case in And Still The Music Plays, a dementia book by Graham Stokes.
This is about a man with Alzheimer's, who gets stressy if his wife is out of the room for even a moment. He follows her everywhere. Stokes' idea to get the man to settle calmly is to key into his love of the evening BBC news program. He makes a videotape of 11 BBC news programs, back to back with 3 minutes of break between each.
They play it for the client.
The client LOVES it. watches it intently, heads for the TV as soon as he hears the familiar opening opening credit chimes of Big Ben - sits thru the same broadcasts for hours at end. Happy.
And his wife gets some time to herself.

So. This is my inspiration for Okaasan and this Nishi-sensei exercise DVD.
To just get it switching on and appearing on her TV screen as she sits there. A little at first. Get it into a routine. I am sure seeing and hearing people doing the exercises will be more motivating than just reading about them. 
How aware will she be that we are manipulating her? Pretty aware at the start I think. If the Tv program she is watching suddenly cuts out and the DVD player whirs into action. I think she will notice. But after a few minutes she will just look at the images on the TV and probably believe they are a TV program.
And start to follow along? I hope so.
And if I have time - I will try to get down on the carpet and do the with her! Show an interest in her interest. Bond.

First. Must check out the wonders of a Japanese electronics shop and hope that somehow in this day and age there is a machine with a timer we can set to play. If Xmas lights and pet feeders are on times, I don't imagine there  should be a problem with a DVD player!

So. There is the plan.


Oh shoot. S#]*!!!!
I just casually thought: I wonder how many bags there ARE in the bag museum? Oh, Okaasan's out now. I'll pop downstairs and open up the top closet. Have a look. Count.

50 bags?
That would be: 176 bags and purses !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How? Are these all from magazines she buys? She sometimes buys bags too. Japanese shops also give customers free bags with the purchases. 
S$#****** !

I think I'd better have that flea market stall in the spring.
The closet is only so big.

What a way to spend my Saturday afternoon. Counting bags and photographing them....

I need to get a life.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Shhh.....she likes it!

It's a winner: the Nishi-sensei health book!!!

She started reading it immediately. Uses an old supermarket flyer as a bookmark...and is reading it avidly.

Deep back into her all-time favorite subject, with a real book in her hands. I wonder how many years it has been since she has actually read about the subject and not just talked about it?

I presented it to her on Saturday morning. In the book shop bag. "a present from your dear son and I, because we know you love Nishi-sensei. He is so popular they have new editions of the book!"
At first she said: "I don't need a book because I've studied that already. I know it all".

But I laid it on thick with a shovel about how important it is is to study one's health at all ages etc etc and she took the book and....started reading it!

So. We'll let that stew a bit.
I would really love to get her a video player and get the video set up for regular exercises.
Even if I have to get own on the smelly carpet myself with her and act like a goldfish by rippling my midriff.
Probably there would be some resistance at first - I can exercise on my own later! - but if the whole TV screen is full of the Nishi-exercises with a voice urging her onwards I think she would eventually join in.
Hell, we can control her Tv with a remote thru the glass of the kitchen doors. We could just flip the switch and the shopping channel would change to Nishi-exercises!
We'll see. But we could be onto something here...

Saturday, 18 October 2014

If you can't beat 'em...

Francesca - it's all your fault!
Francesca - you are our saviour!

Which will it be?

Acting on blog reader Francesca's suggestions in the comments on my last post...I found myself midweek in a bookshop clutching a printout from Amazon Japan of books by or about the Nishi Katsuzo system of health and happiness.

Okaasan's health guru.

40 years ago a school teacher told Okaasan about this man Nishi-sensei, who was popular in the 1920s and 30s in Japan for his ideas about health.
Okaasan went to a training school for lectures about this health system in the 1950s/60s and absolutely believes this is the secret to health.
Her huge negativity towards Western medicine are due to this. Part of his story is that he was a sick child and doctors came and looked at him and couldn't make him healthy. By his own study and methods he became stronger and lived a long life.
Much of what Nishi recommended is now widely accepted as beneficial - drinking 2 liters of water, the exercises etc - at the time it was unusual.

I've been pretty negative about Nishi's ideas.
Well, because Okaasan has boiled his beliefs down to an aggressive: I can exercise myself in my room; I don't need anyone's help; I don't need a doctor/hospital; I won't eat: I know best mantra.
And then she stays on the carpet for days moaning and peeing.
It is hard NOT to feel negative about Mr. Nishi.

But. But.
As Francesca points out - if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Or at least, show some interest and use it to help.
If I show an interest in Mr Nishi and get Okaasan to think about it all and show more active involvement in her body and health - just maybe we may avoid the moaning and peeing...more.

So. I'm in the bookshop.
Where - to my surprise - there is a Nishi System section on the health shelves! A section of 5 books, written by him or his followers. There was even a manga :-) AND a DVD of the exercises!
With the staff help I decided to get this book.

I'll give it to Okaasan as a present and encourage her to do the exercises. She tells day care people etc that she does these exercises every day - but the reality is that she  doesn't. About once a month we see she is on the carpet with her feet and arms in the air, shaking her hands etc - but it isn't a daily exercise.
Could we even get a DVD player set up and set her a regular Exercise Time every day? A Japanese, old lady version of a Jane Fonda workout? Headband and leotard?

Let's make a start...Francesca...your idea is going into action :-)
This blog has just gone Reader Interactive.


Ellie, the Patron Saint of Foreign Women in Japan.

The daily TV drama about the Scottish woman who married the founder of Japanese whisky in the 1920s. She is blonde, she is cute, ever-ever loving and she struggles so beautifully with the rice cooking, the language and the nuttiness of Japanese life.
All of us foreign women in Japan are in awe of Ellie's strength and overall cuteness.
Heavy sarcasm intended.
It's a Japanese makeover of a real person into an idealized foreigner. Cute and harmless.

Last week Okaasan was watching the drama while I cooked her lunch.
She came into the kitchen.
"That's an interesting drama, isn't it" I commented.
"Yes. You know, in those days it was very hard to be a foreign daughter-in-law..."

"Yes, it's pretty hard now too! "I replied.

Okaasan laughed and laughed and laughed. Me too.

"Now when I have stress from cooking Japanese food for you and DS, I can go to Susukino and meet foreign friends and drink alcohol and complain. Poor Ellie couldn't, there were so few foreigners in Japan at that time. It was harder!"

Okaasan laughed. She loved it.

Oh Ellie. All she needed was a computer and a blog. Her life would have been so much easier.