|Cats enjoying a You Tube video about squirrels....|
Back to the double act again.
He returned from skiing at the far resort, with the good news that he'll be working nearer the city for the next 4 nights at least. So out early every day and home for dinner.
I could relax. Just get the dinner to the table, sit back and let him chat on to entertain Okaasan.
I'd had a quiet day. Stayed home in the morning, got Okaasan to have a bath. Met no resistence to that idea. Recently I've just been TELLING her that her bath is ready - as if it is an already decided event. She seems to accept that.
While she was in the bath I took some dirty underwear etc from her room and hunted unsuccessfully for the soiled clothes following the toilet accident (WHERE did she hide it???).
Then had lunch with Okaasan instead of doing my 11 am-escape-out-somewhere.Talked to her about my friend who is moving here next week from Tokyo...got Okaasan talking about how she'd lived in Osaka as a young wife etc.
It was ok. One meal a day with Okaasan is doable without my brain imploding. Two meals is hard-going and I make an excuse or plan my day around having to be out between 11 am and 1 pm so I can avoid lunch with her.
To Carers of old people everywhere - you KNOW what I mean. Actually mothers of small children probably know too. I'm lucky that this "child" can be left to cope with some flasks of food on the kitchen table! It isn't Okaasan's fault that she is boring conversationally...but given the choice - I'd rather avoid having to eat with her. I do it if a) she probably needs the mental stimulation or b) the weather is bad and I can't be faffed to go out.
THEN I escaped - walked 20 minutes (being able to walk is still such a joy!!), to an old, local hot spring where I joined lots of old ladies in a good soak and a quiet think, and then took the free shuttle bus back home. Hot springs/onsens are really ALL over Japan, most tourists think of the classy hotels or the simple, rustic places at scenic spots. But here in a city the size of Sapporo, the hot water bubbles out of the ground at various places and there are numerous, small, unstylish onsen centers with slightly dirty tiled floors, ageing game machines in the entrance area, 40-year old lockers etc. I'd been to this one years ago with a friend who had a discount voucher. It's nothing special, but sitting in hot water in naked anonymity is very, very relaxing.
Overheard good conversation in the bath: one old lady telling her friend that her son's family came for New Year holidays and how the Oyomesan kept avoiding all the hard work of cooking and playing with the kids because she claimed to have a bad back ache....so...SHOCK HORROR...her SON - a MAN!!! - had to help his mother cook and take the kids to the park. I silently saluted an unknown Oyomesan who was tough enough to stand by her needs. :-)
Back in our home dinner was easy: a nabe/one pot hotpot with lots of veggies, the chicken bits that Okaasan didn't eat in the failed ozoni, fresh tofu AND yet more mochi/rice cakes all melted into the bubbling stew-like mixture.
We are STILL eating our way through the mochi rice cake a student gave me. This is a New Year tradition. Blocks of pounded, rice (the idea is to save rice cooking over the holidays) which are puffed up under the grill and then dropped all melty into the ozoni soup.
I tried twice to make the ozoni soup and obviously wasn't really getting it.
So two nights ago I gave up, and just made the usual miso soup for dinner - a spoon of miso paste and some raddish, long onions and a sprinkle of the little dried tofu bits from a bag in the kitchen cupboard.
Okaasan picked the bits of dried tofu up with her chopstick: "I've never seen these in miso soup, I've seen them in XXXXXX, but I've never seen these...."
Instead of quailing with fear and disappointment as I did, endlessly, a year or two ago, I made soothing noises, about how it was tofu and tofu is often in soup isn't it - maybe in a different form - but NOT so strange really etc And I told her that once I REALLY shocked her son by adding tomato to the miso soup. Joke, joke. Just let the complaint slip by.
Then today I happened to pick up the dried tofu package. And noticed the picture on the package:
It's miso soup. With the bits of dried tofu floating in it. This is the main idea of this product! The package back shows other ideas of mixing it with seaweed etc etc...but front picture? Miso Soup.
Don't know WHAT Okaasan was rambling on about. I can't believe she has never had this in her 81 years as a Japanese miso soup drinker. Maybe she thought the bits were something else? Maybe she is only remembering miso soup as a child - when maybe this product didn't exist.
Don't know. So glad though that I didn't expend too much emotion on her complaint.