Healthy Eating-Japanese vegetables

This is a shot of a typical grocery haul for us. Notice all the fresh vegetables.

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I was surfing the net not long ago and came across a photo of a typical grocery haul by a family in another country and I was startled because the table was piled high with packaged foods, junk foods, sodas and other non-nutritious foods.

It made me think about how really fortunate we are to live here. Healthy eating is not something out of the ordinary, it’s the norm. At least for us, in this area.

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This is a picture of my typical breakfast: a grilled fish, scrambled eggs with onions, spinach, mushrooms or some other vegetable. Vegetable miso soup, komatsuna-wakame (mustard cabbage and seaweed) with a vinegar and sesame seed oil dressing, 50 grams of rice from our farm-topped with grated daikon radish in the photo.

Hubby eats the same. We wash it down with hot green tea.

This is kind of a typical Japanese breakfast. Add natto for hubby (I can not get past the smell).

I really enjoy cooking with all the wonderful vegetables from the farmers market.

Fresh spinach gets par-boiled, drained and squeezed. Then I cut it up and top it with dried, shaved bonito (fish).

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Eggplant ready for grilling…..

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Lovey vegetable miso-soup. Ingredients are Chinese cabbage, carrots, onion, wakame (seaweed). I use kombu dashi (a broth made from seaweed) as the base and then I add 2 tablespoons of miso paste. Healthy and hearty!

 

 

Cold Has Come (and 0ther odds-n-ends)

After hauling the laundry out of the washer my hands were numb. The washer sits outside of the ofuro (tub room) in a little tin-roofed mudroom type area that is attached to the house. Temps have been dropping into the 40’s and 30’s. Not bad I guess if you live in a country where homes are centrally heated-unlike Kyushu Japan.

The first year here was hard. Mornings were the worst. The alarm would go off at around 6am and I’d have to use all my willpower to make myself get out of bed and face the freezing kitchen. Before leaving the bedroom which has an electric heater / AC type wall unit (too expensive to put into every room) I’d don sweatpants, knee socks, a long-sleeved undershirt, sweatshirt,  neck warmer , long fingerless “house” gloves, slippers and my sweat jacket.

Once in the kitchen I hit the power button on the kerosene stove and then the coffeemaker switch. After I fired up the gas stove to cook breakfast things heated up pretty quick. There is a thermometer on the kerosene stove that registers the indoor temp-most mornings during the winter the room temp is around 10-12 degrees c-about 50 degrees F. Last winter it was around 8 degrees c for a while or about 46 degrees F.

Most mornings before the kitchen heats up you can clearly see your breath when you talk or exhale just for the fun of seeing your breath in the kitchen.

You can always see your breath in the toilet room. Thank goodness our toilet seat is heated.

Nothing much has changed except that we are used to it now. Except the freezing cold tub-room. You never really get used to that. No heat at all in there. There is a technique to surviving taking a bath in the winter. The trick is to get into the hot tub as fast as possible and sit in it until your body is heated. Then getting out and scrubbing down isn’t so bad-it’s almost a relief when you are super heated from the hot water. The Japanese ofuro is hot-really hot. Specially in winter and now I understand why. Sure feels awesome on a cold winter’s day. I still think it’s funny how steam rises from your entire body when you first get out of the tub.

So the days have become cold now and we are wondering how much snow we will get this year. This area doesn’t get much but, it does get cold. Rumor has it that this winter will be a very cold one with more snow than usual.

At the moment we are at the end of our extended autumn. The ginkgo trees seem to be at peak and the leaves are starting to fall off.

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My inner child loves shuffling through the golden leaves on the way to the store. I never get tired of shuffling thru autumn leaves nor of the earthy smell that rises up from the chilly ground.

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The photo above invokes feelings of sadness-not sure why.

Our front momiji will soon be bare. It didn’t “autumn” nicely this year like it usually does. It went red quite suddenly and developed a scraggly look. Perhaps the scorching summer had something so do with it.

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Hard to believe that in a little over three weeks the New Year will be upon us. Local grocery stores are starting to display New Year decorations. Actually they are more than just decorations, they each have a cultural and traditional significance.

Pictured below is a bin of shimekazari-sort of a wreath you hang on the front door.

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I wrote a blog post a while ago about the meanings of the Japanese New Year decorations:

Shimekazari, Kagami Mochi, Kadomatsu and the kami

Just for the fun of it-a quick snap of our local grocery store. It’s kind of a mini-department store with groceries on one side and clothing / blankets / carpets etc on the other. There is a pharmacy way in the back and a new 100 yen section too. This is my usual go to store-about a 15-20 minute walk from the house. In the center they set up some tables and chairs and you are welcome to buy pre-cooked bento or a sandwich and eat at one of the tables. I actually do that sometimes. Makes life interesting and sometimes I end up meeting someone new. People are curious about “foreigners” and often approach me with questions. Now that my Japanese is better I don’t mind.

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We have yet to secure a ryokan for our annual family New Year. Several years ago-since we moved back to Japan actually, MIL decided that she wanted the family to spend the New Year holidays at a traditional Japanese inn where no one would have to cook. Cooking traditional foods is a huge part of the New Year celebration in Japan. Each dish has a special significance (post to come later). It is quite a lot of work for the womenfolk.The menfolk have the task of keeping the plastic tubs full of ice and beer and drinking it.

This year hotels and ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) are full across Kyushu. We may have found something in Nagasaki but- not sure. Everything is up in the air right now and one possibility is that our home turn into “ryokan” for the event. Not something my husband nor I really want but if there is no place else to go then that might be a possibility.

And just a postscript: for those that don’t know-I have a separate blog where I blog about my Christian faith and related issues Ordinary Faith

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Risshuu and the Old Japanese Calendar

The days have been tremendously hot here this past August. We have had it over 100 degrees F on several days. As a matter of fact, temps between 90-95 degrees feel cool to me now. But little did I know that we have been in early autumn since August the 8th.

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Today was the last day of obon. We picked up the inlaws and took them to FIL’s family cemetery. Not far from their home is a little hill overlooking a small wooded area and several rice fields.  It holds six or so individual family “plots” which are different from plots in the West.

This is not our family plot-it’s just a photo I found on internet as an example because they are hard for me to explain. MIL banned photo taking at the family plot.

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For the first time in a month it rained today. We drove down the narrow little access roads that zig-zag through the paddies and then curve and wind up to the forested area where the little shrine sits near the family plots.

The rains subsided to a light mist and steam rose from the heated asphalt and flooded rice fields. Everything looked dreamy and mysterious blanketed in mist that hung low to the ground.

We helped the elderly folks make their way up the steep, rough concrete slope that led to the plot. MIL arranged the flowers in the stone vases and brother-in-law lit the incense sticks and passed them around. One by one we placed our sticks in the burner that was sheltered inside a glass case.

As the family said prayers my gaze drifted over the granite plots and down towards the misty fields and farmhouses beyond. It could have been a scene from 100 years ago-except for the occasional car or mini truck that crawled through the narrow farm lanes below. I saw the village priest walking towards the shrine dressed in his formal robes. In our area it is customary for the priest to walk to the shrine during special times of the year.

Today, with the mist rising up from the roads and fields he looked otherworldly. His black transparent outer robes floated behind him through the mist.

I noticed that there was a change in the air. The summer cicadas had all fallen silent. I could see that the leaves had lost their brilliant green hue and the rice tassels had begun their change to gold. Despite the zansho (remaining heat) I could see the fringes of autumn creeping in.

I thought about the old Japanese calendar which was based on the lunar calendar. On this calendar August 8th marks the first day of autumn-called risshuu. This is the time in which subtle changes are taking place and the seasons begin their changes-mostly missed by humans. The old-timers were keen observers of the natural world.

As I sat quietly and observed the natural world around me I remembered that the season of risshuu was now upon us and it made sense to me.

This evening I went outside for a few minutes to look at the moon and stars. Gazing up into the heavens I noticed shinryoo (a new coolness) in the air…so unlike the hot breezes of the past few weeks. The tell-tale sound of suzumushi (bell-crickets) came from somewhere in the back of my garden. I suspect soon the koorogi (crickets) and matsumushi (pine crickets) will follow.

Honestly-I would not trade this simple life for anything.

 

 

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Sweltering natsu….

I figured since we had relatively mild summers the past two years that we were due for a scorcher. I was right. Our temps the past two weeks have been in the upper 90’s and over a hundred with the heat index. At the moment it’s 107 degrees F. outside. I’m sheltering in my tatami room with our big ole’ clunker AC humming. I actually haven’t used it too much but this heat is extreme.

Yesterday I had to get out of the house. Playing hostess the past month has left me little time for myself. I spent the first three days after the kids left just cleaning and getting the house in order. Yesterday I had a free day. I woke up early, got my chores done and set out on foot by around 9:30 AM. It was already over 100 at that time but the need to wander was overwhelming and I decided to brave the heat.

Actually, when I slid open the kitchen window at 6:30 AM and the singing of hundreds of semi blasted through the screen I knew it was going to be a really hot day. A quick check of the thermometer showed it was already 92 degrees.

I dressed as cool as I could, took plenty of coins for the vending machine and set off-camera around my neck.

I have to say-thank goodness for Japan’s love of vending machines. They are everywhere-even in places where you would never expect a vending machine to be. By the time I finish one drink-the next vending machine is usually in sight.

I wanted to see the dragonflies. This year there are just hundreds and hundreds of them…swarms everywhere you look. Taking the back road I walked down to the rice-fields because that’s usually where they hang out. I wasn’t disappointed! There were clouds of them buzzing around. Several came and landed on my hat and shoulder…they sure are friendly little things. Very curious too as they were swarming around me as I walked. I tried hard to get photos of them but they don’t stay still for longer than a second!

No one else was around…not even the ancient gardeners that tend the little cottage gardens nestled between the paddies. It was just me, the dragon flies and thousands of singing cicadas in the sweltering heat of summer. The rice fields are now emerald green. According to my Japanese weather almanac this is the time of year when foliage is at peak green…and so it is.

I wasn’t far from the farmer’s market so I thought I’d take a stroll over there and see what was going on. Besides the usual seasonal vegetables and fruit there is always something else to see and experience.

Today the main attraction was the Kakigōri (shaved ice) stand. Kakigōri is a shaved ice sweet treat that is flavored with different kinds of syrup and /or sweetened condensed milk. Sometimes it contains azuki-a sweet bean paste. It’s similar to a snow-cone but the ice is of a different consistency. It’s “fluffier”-the only way I can really explain it.

There was a long line at the stand.

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This lady snuck in on the wrong side….

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The ice-cream stand wasn’t crowded at all. I lucked out…I’m not a fan of Kakigōri -no waiting at all for ice cream. Japan’s soft cream is the best I’ve ever had. There is a green tea shop not far from here-up in the mountain. It sells the best matcha ice cream ever. That’s my favorite…matcha!

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The market was fairly crowded today.

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Little old ladies with their rustic sales counters -selling fruit and veggies from their backyard gardens looked all but wilted in the heat.

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I wandered around and stopped by at a few stands to say hello to friends and chat for a moment about how hot the summer was this year! Of course that’s the main topic of conversation now…and the number one phrase floating around is…”atsui des ne”! It’s hot!!

I always wonder about things like this …dried fish and seafood…especially when it is so hot out. I saw a few flies landing here and there….note to self: do not buy any of these products here.

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Stopping by the vending machine to stock up on cold green tea before hitting the road again I decided to take the back road home and stop by the local temple.

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Sitting in the shade of the temple bell tower a thousand semi sung in the height of a summer’s afternoon. It was around 110 degrees F by then.

I realized, sitting there, that I missed these hot days of summer. The past two years it was as if summer had passed us by. These hot, sweltering days of natsu (summer) are the days that I have come to associate with this season …the heat and everything that goes with it. It felt right…the heat, the insects…all of it. I had that feeling you get when you finally come home after being gone a while.

By now I had little rivulets of sweat running constantly down my back. There was a constant drip from my forehead and chin that left little wet splotches on the stone steps.  My cold tea was now lukewarm.

The trees were getting a trim today. Through the branches I could see someone carefully pruning the top most branches of an old cherry tree.

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I sat silently…dripping sweat on the steps and appreciated it all. I mean I deeply appreciated it.

Taking the little path home instead of the noisy road…all I could think of was how wonderful a cold shower would feel…

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Craving to be normal

As much as I love Japan there are times when I hit a wall and I just want to be normal.

I don’t know if I can rightly explain what it is like living in a foreign country.

Not as a JET English teacher, not as a temporary employee somewhere, not as the American spouse of an American husband who was transferred to Japan but as a foreign woman married into the Japanese culture. It is a whole different ball game as many of us know.

It may sound like I am about to go on a negative rant about Japan-I am not. I do need to blow off steam once in a while though.

Normal….gosh, it’s so hard to explain. I guess I’d like to walk into a store and not have to use my google translate app to read the labels. To be able to just converse freely with the staff anyplace-the market, salon, restaurant-without having to juggle between my translator, drawing pictures and playing charades just to get a simple point across.

Not long ago I was at the pool in the locker room and a woman that I’ve seen often in the gym and pool walked up to me and said in Japanese-

“You are really trying your best to learn English”!

I blinked and stuttered…”Ego”? (English?) I wasn’t sure if I had heard her correctly. So I asked “did you mean Japanese”?

Standing there thoroughly confused I asked her to repeat what she just said and she looked at me very crossly and said “ENGLISH, ENGLISH”!

“What”? I asked…”My native language IS English”.

HUMPH-she retorted and turned on her heel and walked away leaving me totally confused. I repeated what she said to my husband and he verified that I had heard correctly. I have no idea what that was all about but to this day she won’t even look at me or acknowledge me.

Normal….I just want to have a normal conversation. The above seems very petty but imagine living like that every single day. Often you deal with issues like this-a simple conversation becomes this huge stressful issue. It’s really exhausting.

And yes-I try to learn Japanese. One of the biggest issues I have is my incessant tinnitus for which there is no cure. Sometimes the ringing in my ears is so bad that trying to distinguish words in Japanese is near impossible. It’s hard enough trying to understand English. I have to ask people to repeat things several times so I can discern the sounds they are making and then try and figure out the words. Hearing aids do not help tinnitus. They just make you hear the ringing in your ears better.

Then there is all the pressure of being expected to conform to family values. We interact often with my husband’s very large family. Don’t get me wrong-I love them! However…because of cultural restrictions and having to conform I have never really felt that I can just be myself. I must be what everyone expects because everyone does that. No matter what I want or feel-it is what is best for the group that matters.

Many times, even though I conform, it’s not good enough. It’s never stated but it is subtly implied.

Or you are asked to remain outside and “wait” while everyone else has a meeting because “tango wakaran” literal translation “word don’t know” or– you don’t understand anyhow so just stay here…

You know what? I’d really like to dry my clothes in a dryer instead of having to hang them all over the house because it is so humid during certain times of the year they will not dry outside. And no-no clothes dryers here. Well..actually I knew one person that had a dryer but it takes around 7-8 hours for the clothing to dry. The machine spins it dry…they don’t have “American” type dryers for home use. You can go to a laundromat if you have time. I don’t.

I think one of the most difficult things is having to endure either being stared at(yes openly stared at) as if I had egg on my face or the opposite-being totally overlooked.

My husband and I were at the mall once and I wanted to stop by the fabric shop. I found what I wanted and went to the counter to pay-hubby was standing a little bit to the side contemplating his toes. I asked the clerk a question in Japanese and she proceeded to answer by looking at my husband and answering him…not me. I was shocked, stunned, angry, hurt. I wanted to scream.

This is the sort of stuff we foreign wives deal with daily. Most of the time I just cruise right thru the day and I’m fine. The abnormality has become the norm-but it wears on you subconsciously.

I don’t even know what set off my frustration today-doesn’t matter really because it is something I carry with me daily to some degree.

Maybe it was thinking about how the doctor laughed at me for saying that I was going to start drinking Cranberry juice to help with my reoccurring bladder infections. As a friend stated-everyone in the states knows the benefits of drinking cranberry juice! Just because the Japanese haven’t heard of it does not make it wrong!

I had to special order it because cranberry juice is not readily available in the stores here- Around 2,700 yen for 2 Kirkland bottles of cranberry juice. That’s around USD $27.00…

Anyhow-tomorrow will be a better day……

 

 

 

 

Walking around Japan

You may or may not have heard of the Japanese island of Shikoku. In case you don’t know, the “mainland” of Japan is made up of 4  islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu.

There is a famous pilgrimage on Shikoku that thousands of pilgrims have walked and continue to walk.

This website–( http://www.shikokuhenrotrail.com/) has great information about the pilgrimage.

If you haven’t seen it- the PBS show Sacred Journeys had a special about the “Shikoku 88”. You can watch the full episode here:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/sacredjourneys/content/shikoku/

And one more link I’d like to share will take you to a WordPress blog called Grace is Walking Around Shikoku-a personal account of having walked the pilgrimage:

https://henro2009.wordpress.com/posts/

There are several personal accounts written by those that have walked it. Tales of a Summer Henro by Craig McLachlan comes to mind. It’s so-so but I did enjoy reading about his experiences.

Oliver Statler’s book on Shikoku, Japanese Pilgrimage is excellent but it seems to be out of print. I managed to order a used copy on Amazon Japan.

Just a note-I can’t seem to insert hyper links that’s why the raw links are posted.

BUT-this post isn’t really about the Shikoku pilgrimage. What got me thinking about it was my dream of walking it while I was walking around town on Friday. I walk everywhere because I don’t drive in Japan. I do drive but, not here-exactly why is a story for another blog post.

So, I walk everywhere. I walk to go to my various appointments in town. I walk to do my shopping. I have the cutest little shopping cart on wheels-total necessity here for us house-wife types.

I also walk just to wander. Those are my favorite walking times. During the rainy season I can’t really do that much because we get sudden torrential rains accompanied by thunder and lightening and you really don’t want to get caught walking around in “O-ame” (torrential rain).

On Friday I walked to the pool / gym center and then I decided to walk up to Trial. Trial is the Japanese version of KMart, I guess. There is no version of “Walmart” here.

I wear a sports band so that I can keep track of my kilometers and such. Friday’s total walk was 6 kilometers, almost 4 miles. That was just walking to the pool, the store and home. It just happened to be the start of the hot and sweltering Japanese summer-meaning it was the first really hot day. The humidity is around 89-92% during the summer months. I’m always drenched.

Friday’s walk was a challenge, the humidity was around 90%. As I was walking up hill to Trial I kept thinking-what if I was walking the henro trail? Henro is the Japanese word for pilgrim. In order to complete the pilgrimage in around 45 days on foot you need to walk at least 25-30 kilometers per day. I was having a hard time just walking to Trial with my light backpack that I carry my swimming gear in.

On the henro trail you are carrying a pack on your back that contains everything you need for at least 45 days. Could I do that? Maybe?

I don’t know. My hip started bothering me on the way home. I’ve had it checked out a few times but they have no idea what it is. It’s most likely my scoliosis. It’s Sunday and it still hurts. Could I walk for 45 days straight 25-30 kilometers a day?

You might be thinking-why on earth would you WANT to?

That’s a good question. Have you heard of “wanderlust”? The urge to travel or wander. The word’s origins are German, from the word wandern to wander + Lust desire, pleasure.

I’ll admit it-I am a wanderer. I have been since childhood. The reality of it is that I can’t just wander around this planet at will, coming and going as I please always in search of new adventures. Wouldn’t that be grand though?

Yes and no I suppose.

The thing is wanderlust lives inside of me like an unquenchable fire. Now a days a full day of trekking to nowhere in particular seems to satisfy that wandering urge inside me for a time. As I age I realize what I can and can’t do and if I don’t realize it, my hip reminds me.

But…the Shikoku 88..now that would be an experience. There are so many pilgrims wandering around there. I dream about walking and sharing experiences. Talking story while sitting in some road-side shelter or at a temple tsuyado after a long day of walking. Sharing a cup of tea and a mikan received as settai (alms) from a stranger. Slurping udon in a hot noodle shop and listening to stories of the trail as told by the owner while a greasy dust laden fan whirs softly on the counter.

I could wander freely for 45 days. A structured wandering. A safe wandering.

I thought about it as I walked home Friday. I took the back road that runs in-between a narrow bamboo thicket and rice fields interspersed with cottage gardens. The wind blowing through the bamboo trees made a unique clacking sound. I heard chanting and as I turned my gaze across the flooded rice field towards the ancient temple on the hill, the priest began to strike the temple bell. Two white cranes, startled by the sound, looked up from their insect hunt and flapped their wings.

Stopping for a moment, I smiled. I’m not unaware of what’s happening on the planet. The evil and terror but, here in Japan, I can wander. I can enjoy the beauty and wonder of this beautiful place.

Maybe I’ll forever be the pilgrim of short pilgrimages. Leaving early in the morning after chores are done to return home in time to cook dinner. Kind of a part-time pilgrim.

By the way…because so many people emailed me and asked me not to turn off comments they are back on. I just may not have time to respond to your comments right now but you are welcome to tell me what’s on your mind….

 

xo

Yellow sand and other irritants

I had no idea of all the airborne irritants I’d have to battle before moving here. 

I’m an asthmatic and I also have allergies. In Saipan things were pretty much under control with only occasional issues. 

Not so here -thanks to the Takala Makan and Gobi deserts. Not to mention the Loess Plateau. 

During later winter and spring dust particles from the deserts are driven across Korea by westerly winds right smack over us here in Kyushu. 

The ” dust” or kousa as its called here- is nasty stuff. They have analysed it and found it to be a mix of minerals like quartz, fieldspar, mica and a few others. It also contains pollutants from Chinese factories. 

You can imagine how it feels living with this junk floating around you. It’s gritty and if I don’t know we are being bombarded by it because I can’t understand the radio broadcasts and no one tells me I soon realize it when my eyes feel like someone pepper sprayed me. 

You can feel the stuff on the floor or the furniture if you’ve had the windows open. 

This week was bad. Monday and Tuesday our eyes hurt so bad. I felt just like I had washed them in grit or Tabasco. 

It causes a number of ailments- sore throat, headache, sinus and respiratory issues, burning eyes and tiredness. Sometimes your skin itches. 

I finally figured out why I was feeling so poor this week ( duh) and today was much better with the windows closed and the AC on. 

I’ve got to go out tomorrow and I saw that the particulate matter is supposed to be in the orange and red zone- gah. 

Where is your sanctuary? 


Mine is here in my hodge-podge little garden. It’s my favorite place in the cool early mornings. It’s not very fancy or well ordered but, that’s ok. 

It is a reflection of my life in a way. A joining of odds and ends, growth, weeding out, planting new, watering….

Seedlings, mature plants, fading plants and eventually dead plants. I see my life here so many times. 

I talk to God here. I work through issues, I rejoice, contemplate, weep and rest here. 


I have learned to face reality and come to terms with life issues….in the stillness of my morning garden.


Well the weatherman hasn’t announced it yet but I have a hunch we are already into the rainy season. I mean-when it rains more days than not and it’s around that time of the year you can fairly well assume that the rainy season has come.

I think when you become a gardener you notice these things more.

Some plants are enjoying the rain and some aren’t. Oh well.

Mother’s day came and went. My allergies have been bugging me so I didn’t have a good day-I would have rather stayed home and rested but hubby wanted to take me somewhere so we ended up down by the seaside. This isn’t too far from us. We stumbled upon it about two years ago while out on a drive. Very different scenery from what I see everyday.

That didn’t help much as it only reminded me of Saipan which reminded me of the kids and grand-kids which reminded me that I miss them. I guess it was time for a good cry anyhow and the beach is a fairly good place to cry.

After a time of letting it all out….hubby managed to get me laughing again. Honestly-I don’t know what I’d do without him. I’ve never met a kinder man. He always seems to get me back to what’s important which is just what he did that day. And like he always does he got me to thinking about my blessings-of which I have more than I can even list.

I sit here in my little writing nook next to the bay window. I love these days…rainy. The heads of Mrs. Umbrella’s roses hang heavy. Her garden has become a bit unruly since she left. Oh, I didn’t tell you? Two winters ago it was terribly cold and she took a fall in her home. For those that are new “Mrs. Umbrella” (not her real name) was my 83 year old neighbor. She was quite spry and lived alone but after she fell her son, a doctor, decided that she should not live alone anymore so he packed her up and moved her to his home. I heard she is quite happy.

She was an avid flower gardener. Early in the morning I could hear the squeak of her garden tap along with the bumping of plastic watering cans. There was not a leaf out of place in her little pristine little yard. Her daughter comes over once and a while to care for the house and the garden but it has largely gone wild.

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I rather like it though.

The once rail thin rose bushes are now bursting! Stick straight hedges have curves and little flower beds are havens for all sorts of self-seeded beauties. It rather matches my little cottage garden now. I’m sure Mrs. Umbrella would be horrified but ….it’s as if the little garden is joyful now that it has been set free from rigid lines and strict cleanliness.

I can almost hear the flowers giggle.

A few days ago I was out in my own garden and I peered over the wall to see at least five cats strolling, laying and frisking about Mrs. Umbrella’s garden. They looked as if they were having the time of their lives! That would never happen if she was there.

I don’t hate cats but I’m not really fond of them either. They dig up my seedlings and poop in my garden. In the summer if I’m not diligent at scaring them away I can barely open my windows because it smells so bad. When they saw me watching them the whole lot of them stopped and stared at me. We looked at each other for a long while…..I’m secretly glad they have someplace else to “go” now.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about this blog. I want to write more but sometimes it’s a real effort to come up with “new, fun and exciting posts”….I mean-life is routine no matter where you live. Contrary to popular belief foreign wives really aren’t perpetual tourists.

So I’ve decided to take a new approach and just write…about whatever because- writing helps me.

The blog look has changed again-It’s okay…you can roll your eyeballs. I liked the other look but honestly-I didn’t feel like it entirely fit my personality which is kind of quirky and laid back. Not ever too sophisticated.

I like doo-dads and fun happy things…so this fits..for now. It’s also foreign-wife “writerish”.