Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Kelly has been on mids.
I kinda miss that creepy little man.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Kumon is an after-school/tutoring programme here in Japan. It's like Sylvan in the US.

It also happens to be how I am attempting to learn Japanese. Mostly, it's worksheets and lots of them and I'm getting more and more frustrated with the lack of availibility of real, formal, classroom schooling. I've been here a year and a half, and while the six months that I have been doing KUMON have definitely improved my reading and writing skills, I can't carry on a conversation worth fuckall.

Chris, of course, is brilliant, he's wired for language, where I am only wired for neurosis.

80 dollars a month for worksheets that are 10 years old and no private, structured class instruction is beginning to seem less and less worth it. Sitting in an area the size of my living room filled with 20 kids and 4 teachers wouldn't be so bad if I could get some peace and quiet so I could focus (the kids are well-behaved, they're just kids). An added bonus would be to get an undistracted teacher for 15 seconds; the instructors are constantly multitasking, and they miss a lot of my mistakes when they correct my worksheets. Part of me is gleeful about getting away with it, part of me is pissed off by it.

There's also the FYYDSE (Fuck You You Don't Speak English) Syndrome as I call it. I go around with the teachers about how to correctly pronounce American English words; the Japanese instructors try to get me to say them Japanese-style, which chaps my ass to no end. Correct my Japanese all you want, but don't you tell me I'm not saying an AE word correctly, because I'm not fucking taking English diction from a person whose culture produced a car whose name they can't correctly pronounce (the "Corrolla" in case you were wondering).

In addition to practicing reading and writing Japanese, and practicing being pissed off about being told how to speak my native tongue, I am also practicing my passive-agressive abilities, although the Japanese will ALWAYS win there, they're the masters of it.

Short story is they don't bother to date my homework anymore (they used to) when they set it up for me; so if I drop it (and invarabiably I do) it gets all goofed up and out of order and that screws up the progression of the lessons and I have an huge attack of Bitchy. So what do I do? I don't write my start and finish time on the sheets, which screws them up, because their "grading" and progression track is based on how long it takes me to do a worksheet, combined with the number of errors I make.

I got a little note on my last batch of corrections "Please remember to fill in your time" but I did notice that they wrote the dates on my worksheet. I also got a rejoinder not to miss the next class, which of course ALSO pissed me off and made me turn into a 7 year old and the 7 year old Baka Gaijin says "YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!" and now everyone knows damn well that I WON'T be showing up for class.

Chris hates when I act like this because he gets caught in the middle but ask me if I care.

"Baka Gaijin, do you care?"

"Oh, hell no."

Monday, November 28, 2005


There's always this sense of being letdown after a big event has passed. A bit of bummer, isn't it? I'm glad my T'day was a success and I am a bit glad that it is over but part of me is a bit like "Isn't there more?"

Sunday, November 27, 2005


Back when I stopped updating hissyknit, Susann posted a comment to this blog, asking to see knitting stuff. Hallo Susann! Heir sind meine projekts! All completed in the month of November.

Moda Dea Fake Fur
Red Heart Black Acrylic
Size 8 needles

Puppy Brand Mohair (Japanese brand)
Size 8 needles

Some Japanese Yarn
Hat done on size 8 circulars
Mittens done on 8 straights
Bear was done on whatever
The bear was a great way to
use up the leftover yarn!

Chubby Bear
Generic Japanese heathered grey wool
Size 7 needles
If you want him, email me!

Cambria Yarn (Japanese brand)
Size 8 needles

Plymouth Acrylic/Wool Mix
Size 7 needles
Ginormous Hat!
I am not sure what happened!

Fake Fur of some sort
Size 10 needles
Yours if you want it! Email me!

Berocco Zen Ribbon Yarn
Lovely drop stitch
Size 11 needles
Needs a neck! Email me to claim.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Here are the T'day pictures! They are in chronological order, from the beginning to set up to dinner to clean-up. It was a success (as far as I'm concerned, any Thanksgiving where the turkey doesn't catch on fire is) and a joy! Here's how the house looked on Tuesday evening.

Then it begins...from set up, to dinner, to tear down, to normal again.
We had 35 people show up, beginning at 3:45 and the last person left at about 11:45pm.
I cannot take all the credit, Chris helped with setup and teardown (so did Tater) and Sly did half of the cooking. People tore through 32 pounds of turkey, 20 pounds of ham (no leftovers) 1.5 gallons of mashed pototatoes, 10 pounds of yams, 9 pounds of stuffing, 12 pounds of Mac and Cheese, 2 pounds of corn, 2 pounds of green beans, 40 biscuits, and more. Not too much was left over, honestly.

Friday, November 25, 2005


No time to blog.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Now We're Cooking

...and the house smells good.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Spent a good two hours walking around Misawa, stopping at two grocery stores and the two hundred-yen stores.

Chris and Tater picked up the tables and chairs and not too long after that, Roy came over to help us move the sofas to his house. Good thing Roy hasn't any furntiure. I'm not sure what I would have done with the sofas otherwise. All the other stuff will be kept upstairs in the library (and the den, if the library fills up).

I probably won't sleep tonight, I'm getting pretty excited. Tomorrow, the cooking and set-up begins!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Hooked in the Heart

I am unreeling a memory of a week in May, several years ago...

From my travel journal, which netted fragments of days spent in rain gear and canoes to my lodging in a shabby hotel in the back of an industrial park, a memory is cast back to me. A boyfriend, a dour fellow named Wilson, convinced me to spend a week salmon fishing on the Matapedia River in Quebec, Canada. The memory hooks me in the heart.

I started out at the Restigouche Outfitters, a rather fancy moniker for a grubby hotel smelling of stale smoke, old men, and mold. The décor of the rooms was late garage sale/early Halloween period, but the bathroom was gleamingly clean and charming. It was a bright porcelain surprise in the dreary, dumpy accommodations. The old-fashioned, chubby X-shaped faucets were labeled “Chaud” and “Froid,” which amused me to no end. Chaud, I discovered, was truly scalding. I meant merely to wash my hands, but instead parboiled them. Froid was chilly, but not quite enough to soothe the damage wreaked by chaud. The water itself, whether hot or cold, was heavily mineral-laden and smelled of dark, secret places. Literally caught red-handed, I went to spend the first of my days on the Matapedia River.

Canoes were the transport of choice on the Matapedia. My curmudgeonly guide, named Laurence, had a handcrafted wooden canoe, painted forest green on the outside and varnished a beautiful, honey color inside. Canoeing gave me a chance to be close to the water in a way that, even growing up in a river town, I had never before experienced.

There was no pollution; the air on the river was vodka clear. Inhaling was like throwing back a shotglass of alcohol, the cold biting and burning down the throat, eye-watering and astonishing. Numerous birch trees, like white hairs, poked up the sides of the river valley, making the mountainsides look as if they had taken a fright. There was the bright green-yellow of new growth dabbed amongst the stern grey palette of winter’s end; a brushstroke of spring, stalled by a sudden cold snap, whose arrival to the Matapedia coincided with mine.

The riverbanks were a plump grandmother’s lap – wide, gentle, and soft. The rivershore was a stony, rock-pocked cuticle. The endless variety of river stones fascinated me. I found a stone with a perfect oval hole worn through it, another which looked like a baby’s fist, and one striated in black and white, like a bit of ossified zebra. I went about with pockets packed full of granite and quartz – woe to me should I fall out of the canoe. Despite this, the heft and thud of the stony enclave secreted in my garments was oddly reassuring.

Most of all, I was amazed by the Matapedia River itself. The river was wide and deep, with intermittent pockets of black water, black as an eye’s pupil. Looking at that unreadable, shifting surface, I felt a vague unease, as if being carefully watched by something powerful and hidden. In places, the river grew shallow and my inverted vista went right to the bottom, where fusilform shadows flitted by, mostly solitary, but some in loose floating formation, like bombs falling through a green, watery sky. These shadows were the salmon coming upriver.

When fly-fishing for salmon, an angler usually uses a two-handed rod. Said rod is not the dainty whip-like implement one normally associates with fly-fishing. My rod, albeit scaled down to accommodate my smaller build, was fourteen feet long, making me look more like a pole-vaulter than an angler.

When you hook a salmon, there is no yank on the line. The rod just sort of bends down, like tree branches after an ice storm. I caught one salmon my entire weeklong trip. It was a beautiful female fish, colored a winking, wedding band silver, fourteen pounds of pure, sexslippery muscle and lovely in the way that only wild things are. And I killed it.

I did not know I had a fish. I thought I had snagged the river bottom, so I said nothing. Wilson suddenly noticed and exclaimed, “You have a fish!”

“It was an accident!” I wailed. I had been fervently hoping I would not catch any fish during the trip. Not out of fear, but out of a growing belief that it was cruel, despite my practice of catch and release and use of barbless hooks.

I had a fish. Laurence angled the canoe to shore, to allow him to land “my” fish, by scooping it up in a big net. The salmon was a slickly beating heart in a strung ribcage of net. There was a halo around her as she lay in the shallow water. Silt? Scales? My heart stopped. It was blood misting out from the crescent moon gills.

The hook was buried deeply inside the salmon. Gently holding the fish, Wilson pried the hook out with a horrid, squelching sound. The she-salmon tried bolting downstream. Too tired and injured to swim, she suddenly stopped, rolled onto her side and floated nervelessly, the river current sweeping her away.

Laurence, in his odd Quebecois accent, stated “Oh, she’s gonna die.” – the most he ever said during the entire trip. Wilson managed to grab the fish and gently pulled it through the water. After about fifteen minutes, the poor, abused thing weakly swam off.
I knew the fish would not live. I was done fishing. I could not have fished even if I had wanted to do so; something had been yanked from me, leaving me shaken, weak, unable to stand.

Back at the hotel, I retreated to the bathroom. I turned “Chaud” and “Froid” on full-blast, propped myself up against the white tiled walls of the quaint bathroom, pulled a towel off the rack and buried my face in the threadbare terrycloth. I cried until my eyes were as dry as a salmon’s hell. I broke up with Wilson shortly thereafter and have not fished since.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


Today, I spent all day creaning the house! The Giant Thanksgiving countdown has begun! w00t!
I also learned that cleaning an oven is not fun at all.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Spent the morning at work, but rest of the day we were just roaming around--the base, Misawa, Hachinohe. Leisurely way to spend the day and we both enjoyed it, as we haven't had a leisurely day like that in a long time.

Friday, November 18, 2005


Tonight around 8pm it was snowing! Yay!

ikutabi mo yuki no fukasa wo tazune keri
Masaoka Shiki, 01 or 02/1896

I have asked and asked...repeatedly deep...this fall of snow
John E. Carley

Thursday, November 17, 2005


So I was running a fever the last few days, and it spiked about 1am this morning. The only thing that really bothers me about having a fever is that I have the weirdest dreams.

So this morning, I was dreaming I was down in the kitchen, baking. Not too unusual. I was baking gingerbread cookies, and I was cutting them out into turkey shapes. I was using an antique cutter that belonged to my Gramma D. I use it whenver I make cut-out cookies, sort of a personal tradition. There were trays of cookies all over the kitchen, some baked, some waiting to go in the oven. It's sunny in the kitchen and I'm having a pretty good time, too. I'm happily churning out cookies when in wanders KELLY (except he was dressed in his bdu's). He kinda looks around at all the baking stuff and then comes over by me while I'm cutting cookies and starts up a conversation:
"Hey what are you making?
"I'm making cookies."
"What are they supposed to be?"
"Huh? They're cookies, what else?"
"No, I mean what are they supposed to look like?"
I kind of wave my cookie cutter at him and say,
"They're supposed to be turkeys, what else, you weener!"
At this point, I pull a tray of the cookies out of the oven.
Kelly looks closely at the tray of cookies I'm holding.
"If they're turkeys, why do they all look like MORLEY SAFER?"
The cookies suddenly turn into images of MORLEY SAFER! All of them!
"HOLY SHIT! IT'S MORELY SAFER!" I yell, loud enough to wake myself up.

So it's about 1am in the morning, I am now awake, I am drenched with sweat, I can't breathe, my ears are plugged, my nose is bleeding and I am royally pissed off that my cute turkey cut-out cookies turned into MORLEY SAFER. But I don't have a fever anymore.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Still sick.
Slept about 18 hours today. I keep thinking at least this happened BEFORE Thanksgiving and not during.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Head Code

I have a head code and my node is stuffed up so I can't breed.
Crids cad breed eider. We're bode sick.
Stupid head code!

Monday, November 14, 2005


We got married two years ago today!

It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Kitsuke Rensho

I got some really good Kitsuke Rensho (kimono dressing practice) in on Friday, November 11.

I recently purchased a young girl's kimono set, and wanted to practice kitsuke with it. The set came with a lot, from the shoes to hair decorations. However, it was incomplete in as much as it did not include a little girl. I don't own one of those (they're expensive), so I had to go about finding one to borrow. Call me picky, but I didn't wanna be messing with an ugly-ass little girl, so I needed to locate a pretty one. I borrowed Amber, who is lovely, from Nic and Lue. Here is Amber in my Tatami room, ready to start!

The first step in the kitsuke is to put on the shoes, but I did that out of order because I didn't want my Tatami to get damaged. Instead, I started with the nagajuban (underrobe) first. It comes with built-in himo (ties) and Amber is so skinny the ties went around her something like thirty times. I have more pictures of this part, but in all of them, my stripey underwear is hanging out and it looks kowaii (scary) so I'm not using any of them.

Now comes the kimono itself. Here I am clipping the collar of the kimono to the color of the nagajuban. It helps keep everything aligned, making it easier as I progress. Then I clipped a bunch of things, including Amber's hairdo. She didn't think it was as funny as I did, but she was a good sport.

If you look closely at the himo on the kimono, you can see a bit of embroidery. Not only does the stitching serve to hold the himo on, but it also is considered a protective talisman. Here's the kimono being tied shut and here it is tied.

Next comes the obi, which was pretty simple.
About this time, it started getting boring for Amber, I think.

Then you place the bow. I say place, because I have a two piece cheater bow, which is pre-tied. On that went. When the obiage went
on, there was much pulling and poking involved. Then the other scarf on the bottom. Then the big puffy obijime (cord)went on, too. What a trooper!

When I wore my kimono, the lady who dressed me showed me a very Japanese way of holding my hands. Amber did it easily and she looks very graceful.

Amber-chan wa kireii desu!
Miss Amber is pretty!
Then I railroaded Lue into letting me practice on her. I dressed Amber again (in her own kimono--one they purchased from me when I was working the Bazaar) and took some pictures.

Nic thought he could escape. Ha! Ha! Ha!
He tried looking stern, but I'm used to that, so I wasn't dissuaded.

And then we took a picture of everybody!

Thanks to the Nannengas for letting me practice on them!