Monday, 28 February 2011

Just a weekend.

All's well.

I haven't blogged cos:
a) Nothing much to say.
b) I've spent hours trying to redesign my English classroom website myself - and I can't bear to look at a computer screen any longer!!!

Okaasan stayed home for 2 days and then went out in slightly icy conditions yesterday.
While she was out we did a big clean out of her room. Usual stuff of dirty underwear (she seems to be storing it in 3 different baskets now), paper trash, magazines.
SO much easier to do a clean now we have two years worth of magazines off the floor and onto a bookcase. I usually take out stuff from the bottom of the pile of stuff so that the top looks the same to her...

For some mysterious reason she is screwing up newspaper pages and wrapping them in other bits of paper....neither of us know WHAT that is about.....firelighters maybe? Or shoe stuffing? Something from long ago Japan. But we found lots of them all over her room.

I watched a documentary on CNN about Alzheimer's and special research in Columbia where a small town has high incidences of Alzheimer's and scientists are trying to identify the gene mutation that causes it in people in their 30s and 40s.
One woman had cared for her father 10 years ago...then he died. Now her brother and her sister are suffering. Awful. Just awful.

Dinner last night I cooked up the great spinach and cheese ravioli that I got from COSTCO. Trouble is Okaasan always says she doesn't like cheese (but loves pizza...). I did big bowls of pasta for us and a smaller bowl for her, served with rice, soup, vegetables and pickles.
Yujiro and I chatted in manic fashion about all sorts of stuff to keep Okaasan's attention OFF the pasta and what the white stuff inside it might be...and it worked...she listened and responded to the chat and ate it all - even had seconds!

And on into another week.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Mother and Son Day Out.

Okaasan and Yujiro went out for a day downtown - shopping, eating, chatting....
And I safely stayed away from that by working and meeting my accountant.

Mother/Son day all went well: they walked a lot and bought the hula dress and new gloves. Then they started looking for trousers, but Okaasan kept asking people in the department store: "Where are the gloves? I want to buy gloves"...and he had to keep reminding her that she just HAD bought was trousers.

Anyway. They were out for about 4 hours together and came home without drama. Okaasan looked tired, but happy. Her dinnertime conversation was a bit random, I noticed she mixed up the experience of going to the Sapporo Sweets Cafe with eating Mexican food in Mexico years ago...somehow the two experience merged into one sentence...and she got momentarily excited about accounts and accountants: "I worked in a the accounts office! I can do accounts!".

Yikes. THAT doesn't bear thinking about.
Okaasan and my accounts.

I fully expect Sapporo City to give me back large wads of money. In 2010-11 I spent so much on air tickets to England, car rental in the UK, 3 years of contributions to the Japanese Health Insurance system, an operation on my ovaries...never mind the laptop computer for work. Oh....and bringing 15 boxes from the Uk to Japan.

Surely they'll take pity on me?
In 2011-12 the coffers will need replenishing.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Staying well out of it.

Hasn't BEEN much Okaasan and Me this week because Yujiro is home and not working - so I just have to turn up at the kitchen table for 45 mins in the evening and make polite sounds, rescue dirty underwear secretly and do incidental chat.


There is some Okaasan Confusion over something to do with hula dance class/teacher/Y5,000/new dress/dress shop/hula......which Yujiro is dealing with luckily. I am staying well out of that.
It's so good that, at the moment anyway, Okaasan basically trusts him over money affairs. When she doesn't understand/remember she eventually asks him and mostly believes what he tells her - you hear the horror stories of dementia sufferers accusing family members of stealing their money etc.
But at the moment she trusts him to sort out the endless confusions.
"I'm senile aren't I?" I heard Okaasan ask him as they discussed the confusions...."Yes" he replied, "but it's ok, I know what the hula teacher said, I'll go with you to the shop."
Okaasan is lucky that she is living with a family member who will sort out life's problems.

So today - Mr Cool Ski Instructor is going shopping with his mother to the hula dance dress shop.....

Good week otherwise: Okaasan went to hula on Monday. he and I went and had a great and really cheap dinner on Tuesday because Yujiro had got a deal on an internet coupon site (Y4,000 for two people, 8 courses PLUS all-you-can-drink....), the cats are eating and playing again and my taxes are maybe in order for the accountant when she comes today.

And so. Onwards.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Mwwwggghhhhhh.....maybe finished.

Do we look sick? Are we going to go......mmmwwwwgggghhhhh.....again?
Maybe no. Maybe.
We have both started eating again and keeping it down. We have both started purring again.

Apologies if you are eating while reading this: but the vet said it was roundworm. I found one culprit - measuring about 4 cm - on one of the many, many vomitty carpet tiles. 
The vet impressed us with his Open Sesame Technique for popping pills in a cat's jaw, and then we came home to watch away the weekend and detect signs of recovery in our babies.
Popo was so sick he even curled up on Yujiro's knee, so obviously delusional.

Sunday morning early we escaped for a while and went skiing on the city ski area just 20 minutes from home. Beautiful blue sky and great views. Just did the easy course and came back through the forest area. It was enough for my knee. Came home to do family lunch with Okaasan.

Spent the rest of Sunday cat watching and trying to get them to eat something. We shopped for better-than-usual cat food and came home with an array of cans and pouches with which to tempt Popo into eating again. Seafood flavored "Crispy Kiss" finally broke him.

Okaasan is fine, chatting on about losing gloves or something. After my success the other day at getting magazines onto the bookshelf she has managed to cover up the freed-up carpet spaces with more stuff. And Yujiro found a few semi-important letters from the bank and investment companies under supermarket flyers.

In the evening we left her sushi on the table and went to a jazz show! VERY good amateurs (are there any BAD amateurs in Japan?). One of my students is a jazz pianist and she was performing in a show by local music teachers and their students at the Yamaha complex.
She was great. The Japanese cooking teacher from my gym who was also there was great. They were all wonderful...even the few who made mistakes, and the poor guy who forgot the end of his number...he tried to get up from the piano stool and leave the stage but the bass player nodded him sternly back into action - it's work it out....

After each performance they had a few words of interview by one of the teachers holding a microphone. Out of 23 people....maybe only 5 actually spoke like adults...the rest were alarmingly incoherent.
Not just bashful about public speaking, modest-cos-I'm-Japanese - but really unable to string two words together or make eye contact! AMAZING! Yet they poured all the passion and soul into great jazz piano performances.
How? Why? How can people get to be 30, 40, 50 years old and be still so socially inept? It isn't just jazz, which has its fair share of eccentrics, it's many adult Japanese are just barely operate in relation to others.
I loved the jazz. Made me determined to get along to the jazz festivals this summer in Sapporo. But so sad to see these people unable to communicate verbally.

Anyway. Cats are eating again. There are still two boxes of chocolate to be eaten. The sun is shining and it's time to start a new week.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Nursing our nekoes...

Haven't blogged - because of work and sick nekoes.
Neko is "cat" in Japanese.
Our two nekoes have been hit hard by stomach worms.
They stopped eating and started vomiting everywhere instead.
The bathroom and the hallway have a line of carpet tiles in different stages of dryness being recycled.
Sad little cats sitting around looking bug-eyed.
We did two runs to the vets, so they are all medicined-up and we are waiting to see good results.
Chichi is getting better. Popo still not good.

And so.
Okaasan fine.
Would like to get HER all medicined-up and leave her bug-eyed.
But can't.

* Oh....and a student came to class yesterday with FOUR lots of chocolates for me...her husband works in a hospital. On Valentine's Day in Japan it's the custom for women in workplaces to give men presents - so as a doctor he got lots of chocolate. But he prefers cake, his wife prefers bitter chocolate.
So I got 4 boxes of milk chocolate!
I may be vomiting on carpet tiles soon too.
But I think there aren't any clean ones left.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Hula...again...on a hula roll here.

Yup - she went a second day.

Yet again this so-called hobby group of hula dancers are practicing for some performance...which will probably give us all a lot of stress nearer the time when Okaasan gets stressy about being unable to remember the new dance - but yesterday she was happy to go again to rehearsals.
In the evening she looked tired from it all - but was energised and bright and chatty at dinner.

Yujiro got home just as we were finishing dinner so all together again.

And today - I seized the moment and after lunch presented Okaasan with the spare bookcase and suggested she might like to use it for all the magazines that are laying all over the carpet.
Of course, between the magazines were all sorts of other bits of paper and THEY had to be scrutinized...I put a trash bag for paper right there on the carpet and tried to help Okaasan decide if a piece of paper she hadn't noticed for a year was worth keeping.
She insisted on tearing anything with her name and address on it up into tiny pieces - "there are bad people who look thru the trash you know for personal details" (something I think celebs like Paris Hilton has a problem with, but probably not any risk with Okaasan's moisturizing cream company or the seasonal order of persimmons).

ANYWAY - with persevering I got about 20 magazines up off the carpet and onto the bookshelf. Got some paper in the trash bag. The rest was placed in piles around the carpet again...
We are all bad at throwing old stuff out, we put it to one side to think about - but someone with dementia really puts it to one side and 30 seconds later is looking at it anew with the decision to make. Which is why the stuff mounts up...

After 20 minutes I decided I'd shaken up Okaasan's world enough and left her to settle down by the TV again. I reckon I've built up enough good-will as Oyomesan recently to risk doing something like this. Maybe she'll accuse me of stealing stuff again tonight or tomorrow - but I think recently we've had enough "positive" connection to make the experience of me in her room doing something together like putting her precious magazines on a bookcase a positive experience and thus a GOOD thing.

I hope.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Ho`iho`i i ka wai!!!

H o`iho`i i ka wai!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Return!    (to the water) in Hawaiian!

Okaasan made it back to hula dance. Finally. After a 2-month absence.
I prepped her Sunday night with chat about it all, how the teacher had called to ask about her, how the roads were now safe, how fun hula class was etc etc etc
Monday morning I gave her the hairdryer, talked about baths, hula, sunshine, safe roads....

and ..

Ho`iho`i i ka wai!!!

While I was at work ....She had a bath, washed her hair, had lunch, burned another pan and went to hula.

Came home late, ate the dinner I'd left her and collapsed asleep.

And I had my own little Ho`iho`i i ka wai...

I finally made it back to the revolving sushi restaurant at the far end of the suburban station near work. I always used to go here for a quick lunch between classes on Tuesdays. But with the knee injury I couldn't walk that far and started driving to the class instead.
But yesterday, as Yujiro is still using the car, I was back on the subway...and had some time after morning classes so I took myself far down the end of the station concourse for a sushi lunch - almost 2 years since I've been here - and the waitress welcomed me back!
These small returns to old routines are so, so welcome. I was injured and unable to do so many things for too long.

Ho`iho`i i ka wai!

***** and.....Valentine's Day. Yujiro is of course away, and usually buys me some discounted chocolate the day after anyway...but a wonderful kind student who reads this blog gave me SIX boxes of Rum and Raisin chocolate...and....and...Okaasan bought chocolate for me too and left it on the kitchen table for me when I got home at 9 pm last night.
Do days GET any better?

Monday, 14 February 2011

Doctor Z and a LOT of snow.

Ahhhhhhhhh...........wonderful......that music...Omar....Julie's eyes.....the snow.....

I took my hangover to a 3 and a half hour movie about the Russian Revolution. This time the toilet break was THREE minutes! Three! Considering the age of most of the audience it took them about a minute to get out of the chair...down the steps, find the theater door.....never mind find the toilets.
Anyway - another great movie. How they crammed all the stuff in the book into a movie. And Omar Sharif, one of my early heartthrobs.
Kind of ironic too - watching an Egyptian actor in a movie about the masses marching on the streets demanding justice.

* One sweet friend in the US has suggested to me in an email that I should TAKE Okaasan to these old, classic movies! Kind of Okaasan and Oyomesan bonding time. I think not. This is MY time. Although Okaasan would probably enjoy these old movies, I doubt she'd remember enough to really enjoy the story from moment to moment - so the mindless banter of Japanese TV with its everchanging clips of studio games, cooking, travel is much better for her brain.

Came home in a snow storm which continued all afternoon and into the evening. 10 cm of snow maybe?
Washed up Okaasan's lunch stuff. Relaxed at home and sorted thru some of my old photo albums....found pix of me and a friend in the Sapporo Snow Festival in 1992....cooked for dinner, sat and chatted with Okaasan at dinner.
She seems ok, chatted about how the teacher advised which son should go to which university etc, chatted about random stuff.
She knows that Monday is hula dance class day: same old excuses about the roads being bad. In fact today the sun is shining and the roads are fine after all the snow - I reckon she won't go just because she's got out of the habit now.

Anyway - another week. Our car is at a ski resort with Yujiro so I am setting off to work by public transport.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Message...half received.

Okaasan increasingly grabs at a word in a conversation..and comes out with a different understanding.

The other night Yujiro's idle dinner table chat about "talking of strange souvenirs" got the instant response from her of: "are you going on a trip? what are you going to buy?" which left us both mystified.

It's like us foreigners when our language skills are very ropey grabbing on the one word we DO understand in a flow of incomprehensible and trying to wrangle meaning from it.

Okaasan does quite a bit of wrangling.

Yesterday morning I set out her lunch in the kitchen and gave her some chat. Snow Festival etc etc. Yes, she thought about going today, such nice weather etc etc
Bingo! Realized that if I gave her enough money and set her in the right direction - she'd eat down in the park again at the food stalls and I wouldn't have to do dinner.
I had a Couch Surfing party and Snow Festival...Ice Festival...karaoke night-out ahead. So perfect.

Okaasan too thought it was a good idea: festival food again. I gave her Y2,000 and happily set off to work.

I got home at 5.15 pm - ready to feed cats and convince them I still cared, before a quick turn around and back downtown for a 6 pm meeting with Camille, my Couch Surfing guest this weekend.

Okaasan was still home. Sinking feeling in the entrance hall.
"Ahh! Amanda! I'm waiting for you! Shall we go soon?"

She thought we were going TOGETHER! Was waiting for me to come home.
Somehow between this morning and this afternoon: the elements of Snow Festival/Go/Eat/Enjoy had got all jumbled up and come out as: My dear, caring Oyomesan will come home from work and take me down the festival again for dinner!


Then followed 10-15 minutes of sorting it out.
A)  Go out now in the dark and cold and eat in the festival?
B)  Stay home in the warm while Oyomesan whips up some leftovers?

I started doing B). Then Okaasan said she'd prefer to do A). Then she came out into the kitchen and noticed the preparations for B) and thought that looked good. And then A) again.

Useless big brother in Saitama is probably just settling down with his second cup of sake right about now and snoozing by the TV.

Finally A). Maybe.
Anyone else noticed that dementia seems to remove the Choosing Skill from the brain?
Two options for Okaasan is very hard work. Three options is even worse. A menu of 20 options is mind-blowing.

So. Maybe A).
I got the cats back inside from their ice-explorations. Put away most of the food preparations and fled. Left Okaasan still hunting round her room for socks that matched. Just fled.

GREAT evening out with Couch Surfers from all over the world in a cheapo restaurant overlooking the Susukino ice festival, a walk in Odori Park before the lights were switched off, hours of noisy karaoke, taxi back to the classroom with Camille...set her up ok there...and another taxi home.

Found the remains of the leftovers on the kitchen table and some dirty plates.
Was it B) afterall?
Who knows! Okaasan doesn't.
She's just happily told me that she had a good time in the Snow Festival last night...

Oh. And Yujiro's ski school or someone buggered up the schedule and he isn't back tonight...maybe Tuesday instead.

Think I need another classic movie.
Doctor Zchivago! Omar Sharif (who was born in Egypt) YES!

Friday, 11 February 2011

A day of good things.

Well, maybe a 4.30 am start is NOT a "good thing" as such - but I signed on for those kind of mornings when I fell for a ski instructor.

Anyway National Holiday in Japan so a day of pleasure:
First digging out the snow from the carpark where the not-so-helpful local snow plow had scraped up big blocks of ice from the road and tastefully rearranged it around our entrance area in a kind of Escape from Ice art form.

Then took myself off downtown to the cinema for the 10 am showing of Gone with the Wind! All 4 hours of it - thankfully with a 6 minute toilet break. (Thankgoodness a student saw the movie earlier in the week and had warned me about the 6-minute break - so I was vaulting over startled moviegoers and made it to the head of the toilet queue).

Wonderful. Just wonderful.
The movie. Not the toilet.
Vivien Leigh so, so beautiful. Clark Gable all smarmy...wimpy Ashley, saintly Melanie....Mammy, Prissy....oh the whole lot of them!
Unfortunately didn't get there quite early enough to get a back area seat, so I sat 4 rows from the screen and craned my neck upwards for 4 hours while Atlanta appeared to burn in my lap.
But I'm prepared for the next one: already got my reserved seat for Sunday morning when Doctor Zhivago is showing.
As if I don't have enough snow, I have to go and see a film with more snow. :-)

Mid-afternoon home via a coffee shop for a browse thru the newspapers.
Okaasan hadn't burned the kitchen down with the lunch I'd left her.
She was just heading out.
I watched her turn the far corner two streets away, then locked the front door and set to cleaning her room: took out piles of old newspapers and supermarket flyers. Took out about 30 pairs of pants. Took out the rotting New Year flowers. Vacumned the whole place.

It's been hard to get into her room recently. She didn't go out so much, and if she did she came home quickly. So it was good to get in there and make a difference.
She has 2 years-worth of magazines there too - I think I'll give her a bookcase and see if she'll agree to use it.

I even cooked a nice dinner - lotus roots with crab paste and ginger filling, wrapped in seaweed. Stewed daikon radish. Roast potatoes in the oven I got from Heather.

Okaasan came home just on 7 pm: "Oh I'm sorry! I ate something in the Snow Festival! I don't need dinner!"

No problem at all. I could escape the boring dinner happy to have dinner on my own.

Until...Okaasan came into the kitchen to make herself some tea and SAT DOWN AT THE KITCHEN TABLE TO CHAT WITH OYOMESAN!!!!!!!


It's almost like a cozy little Tv drama! Two women sitting and chatting at the table!

Amazing that she chose to sit down and tell me all about the performers she'd seen on stage at the Snow Festival.
Amazing that she'd remembered where she'd been and what she'd seen (but not what she'd eaten...).

Well, fiddlydee!!

72 people??? really?

My GOD. 
I just noticed that 72 people have apparently visited this blog today.
That is actually a little scary.
Are you all real people?
Or Nigerian Prince Spam Systems?
There are 22 people who have registered to "Follow" this blog.....but 72 people dropped by.
I wonder what keyword brought you all in?
Sapporo Snow Festival?

Sapporo Snow Festival 2011

For everyone who can't get to see this festival - here we are.
I am NOT one of those Sapporo-ites who sniffs:" Snow Festival? Nah...only for tourists...".
I really love the fact that this is all happening in the park near home and right outside NHK Culture Center, where I teach Tuesdays and Thursdays.
If you were on holiday and this was happening in a city near your hotel, you would go and see it for sure - but somehow people who live here get all snooty about it.


Thursday, 10 February 2011

Family duties

He's home for a few days between ski jobs - so he doing Family Duty to mother and girlfriend.

Got Okaasan to have a bath finally. She even did some underwear washing. AND hung it up to dry within the same week.
He and I watched 5 hours of American Idol we'd recorded, I could have watched it myself, but as this is one of the TV programs we can watch together I thought a good idea to hold off. Kind of like the new judging panel - Steven Tyler's face should have its own TV show!

And we did a Family Outing to the Sapporo Snow Festival.
Managed to get Okaasan out in daylight and the three of us went downtown and walked Odori Park looking at snow statues and all the food stalls. The statue/food balance is tipping in favor of this being renamed The Sapporo Food Festival.
Okaaan clutched Yujiro's hand and dragged her walking stick ineffectively at her side - but apparently had a good time. It's just like taking a small child to the festival, because you have to plan toilet stops, and get them settled to eat or drink and think about how far they can walk..."time to go home" etc
Her walking is ok - but balance not great. If she hunts in her purse for the subway ticket she is in danger of falling forwards.
But still - 80 years old and she walked the length of Odori Park. On ice.

Apart from Couch Surfing guests (a very nice Rumanian couple) that we had a dinner with. Cats venturing outside sometimes. Life ongoing...normal makes for a boring blog..but its very good. Last year...and the year before that...I craved ordinary boring weeks.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Almost done it (for this time...)

Sunday night.
He'll be home tomorrow.
So I've almost completed another 10 days with Okaasan.

Been ok I guess. She came home late a few nights, so I ate without her. That helps break the monotony.
Last night she was home late - so I served up her food and left her alone in the kitchen eating KFC, salad and soup.

Today she stayed home and I got out to onsen and lunch with a woman I'd met via Trip Advisor website (I'm a so called Local Expert)...nice just to go out and chat to someone new in hot water and over food.
I came home mid afternoon with shopping and did my January accounts so they make some sense to the accountant when she comes later. Last year was SUCH a messed up year for me emotionally and physically that who knows what chaos lurks in the English School accounts. I was absent from classes so many times the tax office will probably hand me over a vast rebate and I can buy a yacht.

Tonight just easy dinner.
I woke up Okaasan from her snooze on the carpet and we sat down to reheated curry, veggies and pickles. I got mentioned "Otaru Winter Festival" and that set her off happily into 40 minutes of Yujiro Ishihara the movie star and his museum in Otaru and how-I-went-to-a-cooking-school-just near-his-Tokyo-house....on and on and on...10? 12? 15? times the same story...switching between the two. I just "ummed" and "ahhed" and let her scamper around on that hamster wheel while I moved stuff around my plate to stretch out the meal time.

BY the way!
Now THIS is important.
I have discovered a really, really good Japanese chocolate. 
It's sweet, it's milky and Oh My GOD - it's got 3.7% alcohol in it!
If you are a chocaholic like me - you must go look for this tomorrow - or right now if there is a supermarket nearby.
EXCELLENT stuff. It's going to be my Chocolate of Choice for this Valentine Season.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

How short is short term memory?

Okaasan's short term memory is patchy.
But HOW it is patchy is fascinating. Well, it is to me anyway.

Yesterday 2 prime examples:

In the morning I poked my head into her room to give her "Goodmorning!" chat and hand her the newspaper. She had her mouth full of something and couldn't speak...just waved and chokingly giggled. But 20 minutes later when I was in the kitchen again, she came out to apologize and laugh. I was surprised that she'd remembered the incident - because sometimes of course I get 2 or 3 morning greetings as she has forgotten that she's already met me in the kitchen.

In the evening we sat after dinner having a big discussion about whether a bag of dried fish which was a year old and actually contained fish with mold-colonies growing on them could possibly be eaten. Yujiro called in the middle of that, so we both chatted to him on the phone a bit.
So 10 minutes later I started clearing the table and Okaasan picked up the bag of fish again....these are good for making stock...yes...but they are mouldy aren't they...MOULDY???!! Really?? These are mouldy???

So strange.
Why/How would she remember not being able to speak with her mouth full - but NOT remember a whole 10 minutes or more of chat about the fish and the stock and the mould and the Eat by Date?

Is it because the first example is something she is actively doing/not doing? And a slight embarrassment feeling attached? And the second is talking about something - although she was handling the fish and deciding which bits could still be used?

I really don't know. But it is interesting to see the Short Term Memory loss in action.

All ok here otherwise, although I feel I have no spare time really. I just get up and set about the day like a responsible adult - juggling the balls of Work/Cats/Okaasan/Shopping/Cooking/Uni Spaghetti's Problems with the Post Office.
Okaasan is getting out for afternoon walks and coming home just about on time...and she is even doing the washing up in the kitchen...sometimes.

I really do think that somehow she is "better"...more "alert" when it is just me caring for her. Maybe she feels she has to connect more and make an effort, whereas with Yujiro she can just be passive. Maybe all the little "softcare" things of my popping my head into her room and comments about the weather/cats/food/Tv are like oil in the grease of her brain? Yujiro (nice guy that he is) doesn't give her much incidental contact when he is here - mealtimes yes, but apart from that he leaves her alone in her room with the TV and bits of paper.
But in desperate attempts to keep her in a good mood give her little bits and pieces of chat during a day as I come and go. And of course, mealtimes with Okaasan and me are more full of Okaasan chatting because I get her onto a story and let her run with it. Seems to work.

Friday morning students were absent this week - so I grabbed the chance to ask a friend to go with me to the eye doctor locally - I STILL have a burst blood vessel in my left eye, and I think both eyes have yellowy whites. A month of bloody eyes can't be good.
Absolutely sure my Japanese doesn't stretch to eye care and Masae-san came with me. Actually she is part of a group locally of interpreters who do Medical maybe good practice!
Thankfully, the jokiest  doctor in Hokkaido told me that the blood is maybe cos I strained my body too much (snow clearing? boxes from England? heavy cat?) and the yellow hue is natural aging. Have some eyedrops and don't worry.

Relief. Don't need any more health problems.

Onwards into the weekend.
Have to input my January earnings into the tax software, have to sort out photographs from England....would like to maybe meet up with a woman I know thru a travel website. Need to call a friend or two.

Oh. And Okaasan.

 And cats.
They came into our life exactly one year ago on the Bean Throwing Ceremony Day, Feb. 4th.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The BEST working day...ever!

And this was all work......

Hokkaido Experience is a company offering activity and experience tours in Hokkaido. A friend, who is a professional guide, asked me and other foreigners to "work" for the day helping the company make a promotional video and still pictures.
So we worked very, very hard.
And laughed a lot in the wonderful Hokkaido sunshine!

(sorry...THAT was why I was paid to be naked and eat....nothing more exciting that that!)

Okaasan good too - she went out for a walk and came home at 8 pm. So I managed to get into her room and take out armfuls of dirty underwear, I left her lunch in the kitchen and enjoyed a dinner without her...gave her dinner when she came home.

How much does Okaasan understand about her own condition? I've  always wondered this. Late last night there was a program on TV about a man in the UK who had a brain tumor. Suddenly he couldn't remembering proposing to his girlfriend, he couldn't remember what he ate, why he was crying, where he was going, what day it was etc etc...
As I passed thru the kitchen to the bathroom I glanced into Okaasan's room and saw that she was watching this program.
What WAS she thinking? I would so love to know. Was she thinking: Oh my...that's just like me. I forget what I had for lunch, I forget so much recently too...or not? I think maybe not. She thinks she is healthy and ok, just a little forgetful sometimes...
But it was a strange sight: a person with declining short-term memory powers watching a TV program about a memory.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Saint Oyomesan

Sapporo disappearing in 20??? 30?? cm of snow today....

Amazing to see a city almost succumb.

The roads were horrendous, but I got around. Classes were sparsely populated - probably students (like me) were so knackered at all the snow clearing before breakfast they couldn't get anything up to come downtown and enjoy a foreign language.

Pity too about the morning class as I had printed out the nice letter from Mr. K's wife about how he had died last October and how he loved English. How he loved life really. His walking, his flying, his computer classes. But there were 8 students in the class and I shared the letter and we all spoke about Mr. K with affection.

Talking of affection.
I shoveled some out to Okaasan to keep her sane.
Sane Okaasan is a Happy Okaasan and Happy Okaasan is essential for all of us.

Anyone would get cabin fever with the snow poring down and she hasn't been out since Saturday.

Yesterday I came home and gave her melted, sticky rice cake as an afternoon snack.
Tonight I came home and suggested: Girl's Night Out to the local revolving sushi place.
She jumped for it.
Off the carpet, into some clothes, dragged a brush thru her hair....and out the door with me.
The last thing I really felt like doing was getting back in the car...but it was either that or stand in the kitchen cooking and then another 40 mins at the table chatting.

Revolving sushi is easy.
You can eat as soon as you sit down - hence no need to make conversation.
You can talk about the same bits of fish coming round and round: "What is that I wonder?"
The staff interact with you and give Okaasan a bit of chat.
It's all bright and you can see other customers, a lively atmosphere.

Success. Big time.

Almost had a mishap when Okaasan started to trap the waiter in hamster wheels of conversation about WHICH of the three fishy soups she wanted to order. 
By the time he'd listed them she'd forgotten what the first one was. And by the time he'd described THAT in detail, she'd forgotten what the next one was. 
I managed to break into the wheel after only three rounds -when the poor guy was looking a bit glassy-eyed - and I told Okaasan she'd love the FIRST fishy soup. She looked uncertain, but the guy grabbed the order and vanished thankfully.

Anyway. Oyomesan and Okaasan sat there eating sushi and chatting. All was well, we shared pickles, we rubbed elbows...and then we tottered back across the snowy wastes of the carpark and came home stuffed.

Tomorrow the weather may break finally and she can get out again.

And tomorrow?

Well, I'll leave that TILL tomorrow. I am going off to do the BEST Job In Japan!!!!!!

More tomorrow...ho ho ho....just you wait till you hear what JOB I am doing tomorrow. It involves cameras...nudity...and money....

That should get the site traffic UP on this blog.