Now Sunday morning and we are a little relaxed here....
Busy has been the usual work/clear snow/shop/cook/clean merry-go-round.
AND: half a day in a recording studio making the CD that will go with a friend's book about visiting Hokkaido. She wrote the book and I edited it/advised. And the CD is my voice. Book one was a local best seller 6 years ago and we hope Book 2, coming in late February, will be another.
AND: I got called in for an audition for a TV commercial for a local bank. Needed two foreigners for a NASA countdown recreation. Had to SING the bank telephone number and attempt to make cute hand gestures.
Got down to the final two candidates for the job. Then...not cute enough?
AND: old friend from the UK arrived for one week holiday. Snow Festival, skiing, onsen trips...general happiness.
I did Take Okaasan Out for a Walk duty last weekend. Let DS sit by the TV while I took her to a large shopping center and let her loose. I finished my shopping and sat in the coffee shop with sight of the exit. Spotted her occasionally pushing her trolley round the store and standing for loooong periods in front of displays.
Finally - rather like staff at a boating lake - I called her back to base. Managed to remove some of the stuff she'd put in her trolley ("it's ok, we HAVE this already at home!") and then I dashed madly round the store putting things back on shelves.
Okaasan always chooses the quality, expensive items.
Then she and I sat and had a coffee, and drove home again.
One week later, and my friend was coming to the house for a glimpse into my ordinary life in Japan. So I told DS it was his turn for Walking duty. He took his mum to another shopping center for looking, walking and dinner for two hours. Good bonding time for mother and son ;-) He'll thank me for these precious memories after she's gone....
Okaasan had duties too.
DS was away working, I was away for a one night trip with my friend.
The evening was covered because the day helper came as usual to take Okaasan to the shop in a taxi, and then supervised her dinner...and with the help of a note from us - put dried food in the cat bowls at the bottom of the stairs.
There was another note for Okaasan with Day 2 Morning instructions about cat food and bowls.
I called Okaasan early morning from a posh hotel hot spring.
"Good morning! Did you feed the cats? Did you find the food packets and bowls ok?"
"Food? Bowls??? Me??? When? What?...The cats are IN the kitchen. Can I go into the kitchen? What? Food? Where? Bowls? Cats! Kitchen! Doors.....bowls....food....note? etc etc etc".
I gave up. Called DS at his ski resort breakfast and got HIM to call his mother and talk her through it all. He spent 10 minutes apparently talking and walking her through each stage of the task...
We may have to rethink cat feeding next time we are away.
(and YES - I tried those timed feeder boxes, the cats scrabbled away at the locks and forced them open...).
Sometimes Okaasan can do things we ask her to. Remember to do them. Do them. Sometimes not. She is always happy to try and help, but I worry that actually getting into an unfamiliar situation with confusion probably adds to her stress.
And finally. Just photographs of this beautiful place I am lucky enough to call home...