Saturday, 29 August 2009

Gone again....

Off again tomorrow to England for a funeral and lots of stuff.

I'm away until September 17th.

Not sure how much Internet access I'll get because the nearest computer is in the library about 7 km from the house.


Will Blog some more sometime soon.....

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Day 1

So, what do you do the day after hearing your father  has died?

Strange limbo time.
I needed to sleep first. Didn't sleep last night at all. I wandered the house and watched TV with the cat.

At 8.30 am I called round other teachers and found someone to take my a.m. class, then cancelled the afternoon students. And went to bed and slept with the cat.

After that just looked at nice supportive emails, sent an obit to Dad's old newspaper, told friends. Listened to music. Watched TV. Slept. Yujiro was gentle with me.

Yujiro told Okaasan and when I went to the kitchen to cook myself eggs on toast I had a bizarre conversation with her where she'd caught hold of the fact my Dad was not good...but not that he'd actually died.I told her twice, and then grabbed my food on a tray and disappeared upstairs before she could ask me again.

Late afternoon I went for a swim. Injected the cat. A Japanese friend came univited to the house...I really didn't want her here, and drove her home again. I really can't sit around having an: "Oh,it's so" sad conversation. When my mum died I went to pieces. But not this time. So much has happened. maybe I'm all emotioned out. It'll hit me more when I go to England and the house. Or when people show sympathy.

Today I needed quiet time. I cried a little in the jacuzzi at the pool. I thought about the stressful time ahead.

Tonight a friend from England called and said she'll come to the funeral with me of course. After dinner with Okaasan, Yujiro and I drank some wine and watched a DVD. One of the community center manager's called to say she can get other teachers' to sub for me next week.

But I don't know what will happen from here. My step mum isn't in any state to leave the hospital for a funeral. Will we just go ahead without her presence? Or cremate Dad and wait for a while to see if she ever gets well enough to come to a scattering?

I have some classes tomorrow. It's ok. Nice people. A pair and a single and a small group of friendly people. I can do it. I think.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

My Dad.

I have just heard. My Dad has died. 
I am sitting hear waiting to hear more. His cleaning lady Pat telephoned me to say that the postman found him in his home.
My Dad was a shy, funny man. The past 3 months have been so stressful for him. He sounded tired on the phone on Sunday. I have been trying to call him since yesterday and got no answer. I had a feeling something was wrong.
I hope he is in a peaceful place.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

It's MY party...and I'll invite who I want to!

Tomorrow one of my friends is coming for lunch. The weather might actually be good. We might have lunch in the garden. Or barbecue.

But I don't want to include Okaasan.

Does this make me a bad person?

I just want to get her fed in the kitchen as usual. Then she can fiddle around until it is time to go out to hula dancing.

I just want to sit outside with my friend and her son and Yujiro and relax....

That's one of the troubles of this joint-living arrangement - do you really need to include everyone in all that happens in the building? I think not. I foresee a little protest from Yujiro along the lines of: Oh, but Okaasan will enjoy meeting them!

But it's MY party and I ain't having it.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Three's a crowd..........

 Well - it looks like a happy scene...but dinner in the garden with Okaasan...I am not sure I want to do that too often!
It was a hot, wonderful day so we thought about using some of the quality burgers we'd bought - but Okaasan doesn't eat hamburgers or mincemeat.
So we thought to cook chicken/rice/soup/salad for her - and burgers for us.
THEN it didn't seem worth firing up a BBQ just for 4 burgers. So we cooked it all inside, and just took it all out to eat under the stars in the cool night  air.
We used to do this a lot. When we were just us. Sit out with dinner and wine or beer, chat, listen to music. Relax. Feed the cat bits.

Hmm.....not sure I want to repeat this experience. Not really Okaasan's scene. And we'd have more fun without her.
First she panicked a little about sitting on a big cushion that was on the conceret steps...she wanted to put newspaper down under the cushion! Then she was plagued by every little insect in south Sapporo. Two different dinners was a lot to take outside. Then some guys across the way were doing some noisy late night construction work. And...I don't know. It just felt all wrong.

I guess we are like those couples who try to go camping and hiking with babies/kids - "cos that's what we did before we were parents" - and then they find that carrying diapers, nose wipes, teddie, midge cream etc etc and trying to fit in toilet stops, meal times etc just isn't condusive to getting Away From It All.
Sitting out under the stars for dinner with a few beers just isn't what a 78 year-old Japanese lady does. We should feed her first in the kitchen and then lie and say we have friends coming round to BBQ dead cows.....
Anyway. More importantly.
The news from England really isn't good. My step-mum now has ANOTHER attack of Clostridium Difficile and has been moved to an isolation room. This is known as a Super Bug in England and is scarily common in hospitals. It comes from bad hygiene and lurks waiting to attack (and sometimes kill) the weak. Jane had it 2 years ago in a different hospital and nearly died. She's got this attack at the worst possible time.
Poor Jane. Poor dad.
Someone said the other day: "How is your father's wife?". Technically that is what a step-mother is. But Jane is MUCH more than my step-mother. My parents divorced when I was 3 or 4, I can't actually remember a time in my life when Jane wasn't around. (In fact in MY TV drama-style family history she actually brought me into the world - she was my mother's doctor !!!So I guess you could say: she saw ME before my own mother even saw me!!!).
Jane being sick is like my mother being sick all over again. And losing her is going to be like losing my mum all over again.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Home and Away.

Okaasan made pickled cucumbers...but to be honest they were pretty disgusting. I hope she gets better than this! And the kitchen stunk of pickling bran. But she is IN the kitchen and using it and using her hands and mind - so that is all good.
I told her about the time I went to a Bran Cleaning Bath which cleaned out all my pores and made me stink for 24 hours.
She told me (5 times) about going to have a Sand Cleaning Bath by a riverside somewhere as a child.
So it was all a bonding moment.

Yujiro is having job interviews...the cat has an increasingly bloody nose and now sneezes blood everywhere...the roses survived a small storm.

The knee guy corrected my translation misunderstanding - my knee problem is CARTILAGE...not ligaments. It makes more sense because the swelling and pain is ON the knee really, top and bottom. I started using Yujiro's old crutch from last year and that takes off a lot of the strain. Hopefully it reduces the effects of the extra 15kg of English cakes and biscuits, cheese and roast meat.Oh...and yummy carrot cake with lemon icing....


Not great news again.
My step mum is back to not eating again. Tired and lethargic.
They think she has a chest infection again and are doing tests.
My Dad sounds depressed.
It was all so good just over a week ago...

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Turning vampirish.

Here I am at midnight - and feeling great!
Jetlag. Big time.
I've woken at 3 am every morning this week - watched a LOT of Sex and the City on TV - ahhh Kerry, 'em. Could never understand why Mr. Big was the big love of her life. He did nothing for me. Aiden was more my type.
Today was day off - so I managed to stay awake till late afternoon. Then slept 5 pm till 8.30 pm. And now feel raring to go!

Our furniture had a visitor today: Tomoko, who was once my student. She kindly gave me lots of old furniture from her parents' house back in March and today she came over to visit.
We had planned beer and food in the garden - but the summer gave up on us...and it was a beer in the living room, a tour of the furniture, greetings to Okaasan and her pile of clothes, and then we went out to a local Italian place.

Lunchtime beer (small cos I had to drive to the restaurant) - PLUS Jetlag......oh yes!!!

Also - went to the knee guy again. And discovered that somehow we had misunderstood eachother originally - my knee isn't ligaments. It is cartilage! He said he could do injections once a week if the swelling is bad...but as it IS getting a little better (if i stay home and watch endless TV), so I should just grin and hobble it...

I AM going to start using a crutch though. It would take the weight off.

The doc kindly reminded me that my 3kg plus of weight gain is more like 15kg on the knee. Yes...i know...but HOW exactly do you lose weight without exercising???

Okaasan went off to hula dance today no problems.
AND!! She has made pickles. She ordered some pickling bran and did cucumber's a great sign because it shows she is beginning to use the kitchen herself and do "homely" things in this house.

But still the pile of clothes on the sofa grows.....I wonder WHY she likes having clothes all over the place?

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Getting the groove back

Everything is coming up roses! This is a great example of: if you don't have a great garden - borrow someone else's.....

I'm homestay hosting 22 planters of roses for the husband of one of my students. Their apartment building is being repainted and they had to clear their balcony. So these gorgeous plants have come to line our entrance area for 2 months - and I get to pick as many free roses as I like in exchange for careful watering and loving chat. (will they respond to my English accent?)

Getting back into the groove here, with much more energy and positive attitude than I had before my UK trip.

Okaasan seems fine. The pile of clothes on her sofa has grown several inches and she is still heading out for a walk at 5 pm and coming back with food. The Hula dance negative thoughts seem to have subsided. And she remembers who I am and that I came back.

The poor old cat isn't so great though. I took him to the vets on Sunday. But he is weak and floppy...and bleeding from the nose. Hot weather isn't his thing.

Back to work for me. Job hunting for Yujiro.

And the knee: I thought it was getting better a bit, in England I was so careful about walking. But today was my usual busy Tuesday and tonight it's knackered. I am so tired of this problem. Maybe I should get a second opinion...

And outside the front door? Not just roses, but THIS amazing orange flowering bush. I think it might be a hibiscus. it's amazing.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

UK Trip....

Jane and Dad at Cirencester Hospital.

Dad's house.

Jennie dog somehow accepting that walks would be in front of a slowly moving car....

With Dad on a day out to a hotel lunch in Malvern.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Good news from UK

Hi everyone,

sitting here in Cirencester Library afternoon...amazing.England has all the strange weather...heat/rain/ one afternoon.

The good news is that my step mum is making a little progress.

The day after I arrived she took her first "food" by mouth, milky pudding - tw0 spoonfulls.
She also drank milk and water and apple juice. Then 2 days of no food again. And today a little rice pudding (this is a wonderful, strange food Brits love...rice, milk and cream...and sugar).

She looks better than she did a month ago and most days her talking is better too.

I feel very relieved and actually feel she is going to get back to some kind of better now. Maybe not walking and hopefully not driving ever again...but maybe she can live at home again and have a Carer coming in...maybe September or October???

Such a relief.
I worry about my Dad who seems to be eating less and less himself....we go to restaurants and he picks at the food and eats about 4 mouthfulls...its almost as if he likes the idea of food, but the eating of it is too much effort.

But. I am trying to kickback and enjoy the fact that I am staying in England in August, in a beautiful Cotswold House, good food, watching TV and reading magazines.
I take the dog for walks by car - i drive and she runs along down the farm track in front of the my leg is getting a little better.

And Business Class on the ANA flight here? AMAZING!!!!

Going back to cattle-class for the flight will be very very hard...

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Down the tube to the other life. Again.

Hi folks.

At Narita with the money running out.

The greatest news is that : YEAH!!!! I got upgraded to Business Class for the flight to London.

Can't begin to say how exciting that is!!!!!!!!

I"m already planning what I will do...sleep...enjoy a hamburger when I want it...bat my eye lashes at the young, rich businessman across the aisle....

Usual rush and stuff to close down the loose ends of one life and connect the stuff in the other life.

But I took time for the guy - and for me. I emailed him from work and suggested a quick date down in the Sapporo Beer Festival in the afternoon when I finished. I stayed on the subway one extra stop and he walked downtown...and we sat in the German-themed beer garden in Odori Park and enjoyed good black beer and a plate of sausages.

It was a moment of normality.

Then it was home to dinner with Okaasan (who arrived home from her shopping trip with a whole PIZZA in a box that she'd bought by mistake at a family restaurant!!!!).

Threw together the stuff for the trip...thanked Yujiro profusely for finding my passport in the "Important Things" drawer that I haven't labelled yet....injected the cat....and wrote the birthday card for Okaasan...talked to wellwishes on the phone and by e mail - (Thanks: Hiroko, Izumi and Ritsuko!!).

Over and out....I'm off to wheel my chair around the departure lounge...

Monday, 3 August 2009

Mowing for Sanity.

Here I am with my new gadget!
A smart, very yellow electric lawn mower.
Yes folks, my lovingly SEEDED lawn is now so healthy that mere trimmers aren't enough (and are bad for my back and leg).

SO! Went to HOMAC and did some Retail Therapy.

I came home with 90 minutes between classes today. And NO rain.

So I got out there and hacked through the jungle.

I expect polo games and royal garden parties will follow. Gnomes maybe? Oh gawd.....

The mowing was just another Small Pleasure in Life to Keep Me Sane.

I drove to work this morning getting bluer and bluer about life and its trials. The parents, the man and his non-job, the Okaasan, the sick cat, the knee, the weight...the weather...

I even toyed with the idea of driving straight on and going off to Lake Toya for the day to a hot spring. Just escape it all. Felt pretty grim to be honest. I had to shout to myself and sing a song loudly in the car to make myself snap out of it and get back to Monday morning and work (actually one of my favorite classes is 10 am on Monday, a really nice bunch of intelligent people who like meeting eachother, all happens to be in English.)

Wouldn't be surprising if I was grappling a bit with potential depression. I know the signs.
I have to:

* Connect with people and talk about it.
* Eat healthy food.
* Exercise as much as I can.
* Enjoy the small pleasures of every day.
* Not wallow.

My actual large worry in the background to all of this is that the past 18 months will have left some lasting stress in my body and that I'm opening myself up to something like cancer. I am thinking of having a complete medical checkup sometime this autumn. I'm not on the Japanese medical insurance system, so it'll be costly...but it would lay a few worries to rest.

Anyway. One more day of work. And then time to throw together the carry-on bag, get the phone numbers and computer passwords I need - and head across the world to slip into Daughter Mode.

I shall probably land at Heathrow and eat a Cadbury's Toffee Chocolate Egg even before they've offloaded the suitcases.

Rainy day.

After 2 days of sun. Back to rain.

So depressing.

Fairly quiet weekend. I cooked cream stew for Saturday night. But Okaasan didn't come back till 7.45 pm, by which time we'd eaten and washed up. So Yujiro served her what we'd saved and left her to eat alone.

I feel sad really that we have this system. It doesn't seem so friendly. But on the other hand, if we waited for her to show up before we had dinner, or sat with her while she ate her dinner - WE'D never have an evening of our life at all.
She doesn't need to come home so late - we keep telling her dinner is at 7 pm. But of course she only remembers that AT 7 pm...and by the time she leaves downtown and gets here it is way past 7 pm.

Sunday was just rain. I went to the gym to pump muscles (or flab) and swim, Yujiro crammed his computer studies (latest idea to upgrade his job skills) and Okaasan watched TV.
We did have plans to take her to the beer festival that is in the city park at the moment. But absolutely no fun at all in the rain. So, stayed home and did very little instead.

My students have an image of me as a very active person: yesterday I actually went to bed in the afternoon with the newspaper and a book....and I watched ice skaters on TV. A really high-octane Sunday!

We ordered KFC in the evening, which we ate with sauteed veggies and soup. We're lucky actually - Okaasan likes this kind of junk food. She sat there waving a bit of chicken at us while she meandered down memory lane about the history of KFC in Japan...all good greasy fun.
Gym and KFC on the same day. Terrible health routine!

I go off to the UK on Wednesday. I've booked my taxi meet at Heathrow and worked out train times. Alerted Dad to meet me. Time to switch lives again. I guess in years to come I'll look back at this year and smile....i
t's all a lot of life.

Dad sent me a card with a cat picture on it last week and the message: "Anyone can cope with a crisis, it takes a genius to cope with everyday life."