Friday, March 31, 2006


Yesterday, I got home from work to discover
that Spring had been sprung.
However, this morning, Spring was back in lockup.
Japanese Spring is just Winter every other day instead
of Winter every day.I bought this buddha because I
think he looks like my sensei, Don.
Don is a splendid name for a
buddha to go by. I am officially thin enough to wear
Japanese medium-sized clothing.
When I got here, I wore L or
LL sizes. Also, I am a dork.
This Japanese laundry soap
smells like Spree candy.
However, it still tastes like soap.
You have to brush your teeth
a LOT to get rid of the taste, too.
I accidentally bought (and drank) carrot tea two days ago.
The bottle was pretty, which is why I bought it.
It wasn't bad but it was a weird color. So was my pee, afterwards.
No pictures (thank heaven).

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Kimono Ho

I spent the weekend pimpin' kimono. I was volunteering at the Far East Bazaar. Of course, I worked with the Kimono vendor: Le Kimono Galerie. Ikeda-san is the owner and a very sweet guy. I wore kimono both days, and I think it really helped business. Besides, I needed the practice and the opportunity to wear the damn things outside of my home. I got lots of compliments on this outfit, even though if you told someone I was wearing purple, yellow, and magenta, they would probably go "yuck!" My pose in the picture to the right is not the most dignified one, but it's the best of the pictures. I look constipated in the other ones for some reason.

The best thing though, is that I can see that my kitsuke skills have improved tremendously over the course of my studies. So much, in fact that today, I passed the ultimate acid test; a Japanese man said to me, "Your kimono is perfect. Who dressed you?" I told him that I study kitsuke and I dressed myself. "Even the Japanese can not do that so well. Very good!" Yee-haw. It only took 20 minutes for me to get dressed. Last week, I tried for the first time in a long time, and it was two hours. Saturday took 30 minutes and today, like I said, was 20--and this outfit looked better than the previous two.

So I sold lots of kimono and obi. As a thank-you, Ikeda-san hooked me up! I got a bag full of kimono and kimono accessories for five bucks. I was like "Holy Crap!" please let me pay for some of this, but he wouldn't hear of it. There go the profits, right out the door (and into my kimono tansu). Well, sort of. The kimono tansu has reached the bursting point. I have 33 kimono crammed into it, and that's not counting the wedding robes (six) or the complete hanayome (wedding) set that Eiko-san foisted on me (there's 2k worth of white silk in that box--I'm afraid to even touch it, for fear of stains). I'm thinking I may have to empty the drawer that contains the underrobes, scarves, ties and hardware to make room for more items. I have been trying desperately to find a chest or even a nice wicker basket to this end, but no such luck. Chris asked if I wanted to get another tansu, but that's just way too dangerous, as I would feel absolutely compelled to fill that one, too. Well, not all the kimono would be in there-- Chris has a couple of kimono now, too! Well, three. But I'm counting a full 10 piece formal set as "one."

So now I am off to dinner--a diet-wrecking treat of tempura at Yamakura. Yay! Tempura. And I'm gonna wear my kimono!

Friday, March 24, 2006

A Week of Random

It's been a busy week.

I was off Monday, but spent the whole day cleaning someone else's house because their pets decided to shit on every level surface in the household. I didn't get half of my chores done.

I made a roast chicken on Tuesday (I think, I'll have to check with Sly) and we had a nice sit down dinner (with Sly, obviously).

It was a short week at work (I put in 18 hours over the weekend), since I wasn't there Monday or today (Friday) and left early (I picked up extra hours on Wednesday) on Tuesday and Thursday. That left me feeling all discombobulated, because, well, I wasn't at work.

Three days of recovery from a hard stint at the gym-not going to the gym threw me off, too. I'm such a creature of habit--if it's interval training on the treadmill-it must be Tuesday. I've been increasing the duration of my workouts pretty quickly over the last three weeks and it wiped me out. I needed the rest badly--I think my hip flexors have begrudgingly forgiven me. The rest really helped, I needed it. I need to add a yoga workout or two this coming week. The first week in April will get me back into lifting weights (and swimming lessons).

This week, I tried to be a little more pulled-together, outfit-wise, at work (more on why I'm falling apart in the next paragraph). So I finally wore wore a narrow-rib black sweater that was an Xmas gift from Stephanie, my SIL. It's cotton so it was a little too light to wear this winter (I wore monster woolly ski sweaters all winter) AND as much as I hate to admit, I was too chubby to wear it sooner. But being down from 137 to 119 pounds since January helped. And the fact that the sweater is incredibly flattering and makes me look another ten pounds slimmer really helped, too. I wore it with my black alligator print boots (thanks Mrs. Phelps for re-mailing them to me) and a pair of my "skinny jeans". I really, really like the sweater-so I called Stephanie to thank her again. I asked if she could find me a bathing suit that would vanish 10 pounds, too!
It was really nice to talk to her.

Work is a mess. Two co-workers (and friends) got their funding pulled, so the site is trying to keep them here, as they heads is full of the improntant no-ledge. In order to do so, it seems that they would have to be put onto the contract on which I (and 11 others) work. In order to do THAT, 2 or 3 less "essential" individuals will be sent home. Everyone is freaking out and leadership can't get their heads out of their asses and make a decision.The one Lt. Col. is a very sweet man, I know he's hoping and praying for last minute money so he doesn't have to let anyone go but sometimes, you just have to cut bait and run. All the contractors understand and no one is going to hate him, really. We just want answers. Nobody is getting much work done anyway because everyone is speculating (and making contingency plans). Sly, as the team lead, is furious with them because people just need to know, so they can begin all the running around that happens when you have to go back stateside.

Thursday, I went to the local thrift shop and got two cute shirts, a pair of zori (kimono shoes) that were BRAND NEW and an interesting color, a scarf and a set of dishes. The owner of the store seemed very tickled about the dishes, which are reproductions of the works of Kano-school artist (and I thought an art-history degree was useless). He was pleased when I recognized the name and was able to use the Japanese names of the flowers, grass and animals depicted on the little dishes. I think he was also pleased to have someone on which to unload some Engrish. I did have one brief American moment. When I was looking at the dishes, I noticed that there were five (even though there are four seasons) and I wondered if it the dishes had been part of a set of eight and three broke. Then I realized..duh, the Japanese never give four of anything, since four can be read yon or shi and shi is also the word for death. Four is considered unlucky. So the plates came in a set of five.

Also this morning, I talked to my mom for about an hour-and-a-half. She had her colon scoped as part of a routine physical and they found a polyp and they didn't screw around, they pretty much sent her to surgery right away to have it removed. Mom said she got serious good drugs (Demerol and something else)and doesn't remember anything, but apparently she talked to everybody on the way into the operating room. When she came back for a follow up, people she didn't know were saying "Hi Connie!" and being her best friends and my mother was totally like "Who the hell are you?"
Mom had no symptoms--no pain, no blood in her poop, nothing, but the polyp they removed from her colon was about an inch long. Gross! The growth was benign and as my mother put it, "Thank God, no ass-cancer." My family is fucked up. Ass cancer. Sweet babby jeebus.
There was also some diverticulitis, but it's mild and studies show it can be handled with a [vegetarian] diet and regular exercise and some other lifestyle changes (and my family has made fun of me for years for being a hippie pinko-commie vegetarian health-food-store-shopping hypochonriacal freak). I sent my mom a book on caring for intestinal disorders and a book on juicing and a juicer to go with. Mom is working on getting a "content connie colon" to which I should add "a conent connie colon containing no cancer."

This week, I hung out with Eiko-san after I was done working. I sold two haori, three kimono, two obi and a couple of scrolls. Two of those kimono were sold to co-workers. The guys in the office are getting to the point where they don't want to let their wives come near me...I cost Tate 150 bucks, and Crocker, too. But Dana got it the worst. The last time Eiko-san was here, I sold Dana's wife, Amy, two fancy wedding robes for a total of 700 bucks. I also sold myself some kimono, but I don't want to talk about that. I do not have a problem. I can stop anytime I want. I just don't want to.

My Japanese language listening skills are teh sux0r. I took Eiko-san to do some grocery shopping for American foods and as we were going down the produce aisle, she was happily chattering away. I caught something about dai (big) and mango. I thought she wanted a mango, so I indicated that they were are (over there, away from us). Some more rapid-fire Japanese and then finally she said "We'll ask Masako-san" --meaning "this is like talking to a turd, and I'll take you to go see the translator". At any rate, I got Eiko-san her Folger's (of all things), strawberry jam, a spiral-cut ham, and some instant coffee. Eiko-san couldn't explain the instant coffee in a way I understood, so she finally pointed to the box. "Oh, 'instant' coffee! Eigo da 'instant'!" said I. When Eiko-san looked confused, I said "Hyaku Kohee" (literally quick/fast coffee). Not quite correct, but I got the idea across and she found it funny.

When we saw Masako-san, she explained what Eiko had been saying was not mango but mago (grandchild). Oh, geez. What she had been saying in the grocery store was that her grandchild had been accepted to college (daigakku--big school) in the city of Hakodate, located on the island of Hokkaido. So Eiko wanted a fancy ham for the main course of the dinner party she was going to throw for her mago. So that was the "dai" that I heard...And I can't explain why I thought she was saying mango, other than I'm a dipshit. At least they found this hilarious. Fine, I thought, I can play, too. So just before I left, I went back to the commissary, got a really nice mango and put it into a gift bag. Then I gave it to Eiko san and said: "Kore ga presentto desu. Mago jinaii, MANGO desu yo!" (This (here) is a present (for you). It's not a grandchild, it's (definitely) a mango!". She was laughing so hard she was crying. Point for me. But not for long. I saw Eiko-san's danna-samma (husband) Aizawa-san the next day, and he told me he ate the mango last night. And then he said "Sakayuu mango tabete, mago tabemasen! " (Last evening, I ate the MANGO, not the grandchild). So he got me, too. No point in messing with a professional. Aizawa-san is a total hoot, always making jokes. And showing Chris antique shunga (explicit Japanese woodblock prints).

Masako-san gave me a presentto, too! It is the cutest little handbag, with dragonflies on it. I thought that was so sweet, especially since she doesn't make much money at all and her budget is tight. It makes the gift extra special. We're planning for her to come hang out next week. I told her to bring her laundry, so she doesn't have to pay to use the laundromat. Her american boyfriend PCS'ed to Korea for a year, and she's having a hard time.

I also had a kimono lesson today. I got it into my head that I was going to wear a kimono for it, too. It took me TWO HOURS to get dressed. It should take 20 minutes. I haven't dressed myself in kimono for nearly five months, so I had trouble (you have to reverse a lot of things and I don't think well in reverse) but I did OK, Eiko-san only had a few corrections. Our running joke during practice, when I'm taking too long, is that the person I'm dressing will be late for their party. When I told Eiko-san it took two hours to get dressed she said "Practice more. It should only take 20 minutes. My god, the party would have been OVER!" and Aizawa-san added "Your husband would fall asleep waiting for you!" Oh, they are too, too much.

And that is my week in review.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


かにさんkani-san (Miss Crab)

kani-san (Ms. Connie)

I know I mentioned that my mother's name, Connieカニー , is pretty much a homonym for the Japanese word for crab, kani かに.

Incidentally, my favorite local kimono shop isかね屋 kaneya, which also sounds similar.

As a result, I'm always on the lookout for items with a crab motif. Not hard to do here, since crabs is good eatin' and make good design motifs for non-commestibles as well. The other night, I was at the local konbeni, Lawsons (Rawsons, if you're Japanese) and in the bakery section, came across this item.

It's a "Kani-San" pastry, made by the Shiraishi baking company.

I wasn't sure if it had crab or bean paste or God knows what for its filling. It was some sort of brown creme, which, from my experience, was probably pork. I'm serious.

But the package had a crab on the label so I picked it up anyway, since it made me think of Mom, and I've been missing her more that usual lately. I would have loved to send it to her, but there's no way it would have survived the week-long journey to the states intact.

Because the pastry was great for its intrinsic WTF? value, I bought it anyway, even if it was full of creamed pork (or God knows what) just to take it home, show Chris, and to take some pictures and post them here.

And besides, the Kani-san logo on the front was sooooo cute, I couldn't resist it. I'm saving it, because I think it would be a really cute tattoo for my mom.

You know it's a girlie crab because she has eyelashes. I think it is disgustingly cute that she's pinching the sa in "san"

The pinchy part also made me think of my mom, who would (and still can) pinch the crap out of us two kids with her toes (I can do it too and Chris and the cat HATE it). You'd be watching TV and all of sudden "WAHHRNK!" get a hell of pinch. Mom would act all innocent and we kids would get majorly pissed off and not really be able to do anything about it. A mother's revenge may be simple, but it is profound (and painful).

Anyhoo, the pastry itself was shaped like a crab! I thought that was pretty cool but on closer inspection, I decided it looked more like a tick (or maybe those face-huggers from Alien). Ew.
Before it could jump on my face and pry my mouth open and take its fattening self directly to my ass, where it would cause large masses of cellulite to arise, I broke off its legs. Or rather one set of them. The pastry was light and flaky, like a croissant and it looked tasty.
But then there was the whole conundrum of what the filling might be. I was truly concerned that it was a savory filling (made with pork). I can't read too many kanji, but I know the one for niku (meat): I also know sake (liquor) but that wasn't relevant, although it is an important kanji to know. I didn't see niku (or sake, for that matter) anywhere on the label.

So the the final test was to take a bite of the pastry, even though I'm on a diet and shouldn't be having it. I sort of justified it by reasoning that if it was an (sweet bean paste) it wasn't too bad for me, because an isn't very sugary and it's beans, so it's sort of healthy. If it was pork, I could spit it out. If it was God knows what, I'd swallow it and hope I didn't get a case of the screamin' squits later on.

It wasn't pork! It was chocolate mousse, sort of like what you find in filled donuts. It wasn't as sweet as American donut filling, with less sugar and use of bitter or semi-sweet chocolate, but it was yummy. The filling was only in the leg parts of the crab, not in the body.

Unlike most prepared Japanese food, this one had a nutrition label (I also can read the kanji for calories, fat, carbohydrate and fiber--who's the hardcore dieter here, eh?). So it wasn't great for me: 400 calories, 46g of carbohydrates, 22g of fat (ugh) and 1g of fiber. It meant I had to pass up my breakfast and my morning snack and make sure I got to the gym today, but it was a nice treat and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


I originally wanted to write about those previously-mentioned delicious, diet-destroying devils, maple buns. However, this is proving more difficult than anticipated, as I'll go and buy one and before I can take a picture of the bun, Chris eats it. This is probably for the better, because otherwise I would eat it (and six more of its fiendishly warm, fresh and fattening friends) and I still have 13 pounds to lose. Since I am without a photograph of a maple bun and accompanying copy, I'll write about our rice cooker.

Rice cookers are big business here (and in China and Korea and so on) and the price range runs the gamut from a dollar bamboo steamer to several hundred dollars. The most common price point seems to be about 160 dollars. The cookers have a zillion functions and can also be used for cooking other things (chicken, steamed buns, etc).

Our rice cooker was a gift from Sly's mom, Midori-san. It's an LG brand, which is a Korean company, known for their high quality and low prices (my last stateside mobile phone was manufactured by them). It has all kinds of features and it works great. Best of all--it's RED, thus making it a sort of sports car model amongst all the plain white cookers. It can go from 0 to 4 servings of rice in 20 minutes (thanks to its pressure-based speed cook option).

It has it's own little "garage" in the kitchen cupboard:The cooker also came with an instruction manual in four languages. But true to the old Asian tradition of making everything into Manga (comic book), the manual has illustrations as well.

Those crazy Koreans. THEY think that this is the univeral icon for "If you wear a pacemaker, you should not use this appliance, as it generates an electrical field that may cause interference."

But they are mistaken, since we know it is the universal icon for
"Do not FUCK with my BUTTON."

And that is my post about my rice cooker, which isn't Japanese but Korean.

PS - The rice cooker's name is Taro. Sly calls hers "Ladybug"

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Wow, it's been over a week since the last update! There was a bunch of Japanese-related stuff I wanted to write about, including the Japanese movie genre of pinky violence, but everything's gone out of my head. I did remember to write to say I own the pinky violence movie "Sex and Fury" solely for the scene where the seriously kick-ass (anti-)heroine, armed only with a sword, takes out the 12 bad guys who have surrounded her. And she does it nekkid! Anyhoo...

Sly and I haven't seen much of one another lately. We've both been out of sorts, but now we're both doing better. I love Sly so much!

So we both went to the onsen last night. Ahhhh, bliss. Also, Sly has started lifting weights again and after a few weeks, she's got guns -her arms look fabulous! Actually, so does the rest of her.
I hate lifting weights. I would happily do aerobics til my heart exploded, but I hate lifiting, even though it works. So I need to start that. Next week.

You know how shopping for bathing suits makes you cry? Try shopping for bathing suits in Japan. It's enough to make you wanna curl up and die.

But guess what? I did. And I don't even wear an extra large. I do wear a large, but I'm (sort of) okay with that. I don't look all that bad in it either. Or that good, but I'm (sort of) okay with that, too. It's a blue and maroon speedo, and very modest and should be perfect...

...for workout swimming. Which means I need to take lessons. What? I can't swim? Well, I can, but it's more along the lines of actively avoiding drowning than it is swimming and thusly won't function as a workout, so I'm gonna take lessons so I can use swimming as a workout. And lately, there's a little voice in my head going "do a sprint a sprint triathlon". I should probably not listen to this little voice. But compared to the other little voice going "KILL THEM ALL!", the triathlon voice is definitely more sane.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


I got a car! And miracles of miracles, it's not blue (family joke)! It has the tiniest backseat ever!
Elmer is Chris' green wagon and Edgar is mine. They seem to like being roommates or carportmates.

Smallest backseat ever. My cushions on my loveseat are only a little wider and twice as deep!